We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Sunday, December 3. 2023
Over the years Mrs. BD has found the recipe for the best-ever meatloaf. Sorry - I don't have the recipe right now, but I know it includes ground pork, lamb, and beef, plus of course mashed on the side. It's the lamb, I feel, that makes it so tasty and crunchy on the edges. Excellent for a sammich later, too.
I was reminded of Lamb Burgers by the menu of a popular midtown Manhattan Irish pub, Connolly's, on 47th St. Irish (not entirely) pub menu. Since our neighborhood Scots/Irish pub closed this year due to crazy rent, we need something like that once in a while. Yeah, a good Shepherd's Pie can be nice but I've had some disappointing ones. Mrs. makes an excellent one.
Everybody on this planet seems to like a burger, but a lamb burger is less routine and has more flavor: Lamb Burger. I like tomato slices and red onion slices on the side with any burger. Fries (aka chips) of course.
Off-topic, in Scotland they will serve mutton as "lamb". Trust me - it's mutton but you could call it "older lamb." There's an English insult, "Mutton dressed as lamb." Know what it means?
In the mood for a mutton chop? In NYC, it's Keen's (since 1885).
Wednesday, November 22. 2023
It seems Turkey, roasted pumpkin, mussels, eels, cod, roasted or stewed venison, corn meal mush, and maybe lobster were on the menu: First Thanksgiving Meal.
There seem not to have been a lot of oysters nearby (maybe the Indians ate them all), but plenty of Cod. Ever heard of Cape Cod Turkey?
They had to learn to fish and how to plant. They had no milk (no livestock on Mayflower unless you count the 2 dogs), and any sugar or flour on board had been exhausted during the voyage. The Mayflower crew (30 men) returned home on starvation rations in Spring, 1621. Mayflower was an 80-foot leaky old cargo vessel which was barely suited for anything.
Thursday, October 19. 2023
It's a southern Italian bean soup/stew. Real, non-Americanized Italian peasant food. If you are from around Napoli, it's pronounced something like "fazool." Otherwise, "fajole." Fagiole are la Carne dei Poveri. (No, I am not a paisan but I married a half of one.)
I see recipes online which include meat, but Pasta Fagioli is best made with meat broth (chicken or beef), and properly has no meat in it. When it was a meatless Friday meal, of course veg. broth. Why did the RC's get rid of meatless Fridays anyway?
This recipe about gets the basic version, but I use canned cannelini (white) beans for convenience - stupid not to - (no chef, unless cooking for hundreds, would waste time with dried beans), and chicken or beef broth instead of vegetable broth. I am not enough of one of the poveri not to have meat broth around.
Another recipe includes tomato sauce. I've never had a Pasta Fagiole with tomato in it other than a tablespoon or two of tomato paste, and believe it ought to be without the tomato. It's meant to be pleasantly bland, cheap, and filling. If I make it, no tomato but I'll add some hot pepper flakes to give it a little zip.
Any small pasta works in it, but I like to use the small shell pasta. Serve with a plate of simple crostini, eg with oil and garlic and maybe some herbs on them. You can put some shaved parmesan on top of your soup if you want.
The thing with Italian cooking is that you make it your own way, and never follow a recipe after the first time.
No, my Mom never made this or ever heard of this, but my wife's Grandma made it to please her husband who required it weekly to feed his Neapolitan soul. Mrs. BD kindly claims my version is better than her nonna's.
Wednesday, August 30. 2023
Tuesday, August 22. 2023
He's back from 9 days in a mountain villa overlooking the Adriatic in Abruzzo. He'd only been to Italy once, as a kid. Naturally, I had questions:
Any mishaps? Just left my backpack with money and passports in a cab. Luckily, he soon noticed and caught up with us as we entered the Rome airport.
How was the house? Gorgeous, but hard beds. Nice pool with mountain views.
Like the women? Dangerously sexy and well-dressed.
Natives in Abruzzo speak any English? Not really.
See any relatives? My 85 year-old aunt had her driver take us around to see my Mom's relatives.
Go to the beach? Twice.
Eat any pizza or pasta? My daughter did.
Have some vongole? Yep, raw and in sauce.
Grilled octopus? Of course. That's a dumb question.
Any risotto? They don't make risotto in southern Italy.
Calamari? Yep, raw on toast and in sauces.
Fresh white anchovies? Of course.
Mussels? We had a mussel pie.
Swordfish or tuna? No.
Cinghiale? Looked, didn't see it on a menu.
Breakfasts? Just espresso.
Wine? Too much, usually.
See any gyms in the towns? Nope.
Would you return? I'd just stay there.
Tuesday, August 15. 2023
I told you that in Sicily last Spring we had Parsley Pesto (with grilled swordfish) and Pistachio Pesto (with grilled pork), but we never saw a Basil Pesto. They do love their Pistachios in Sicily - they use them with everything. We brought a small, overpriced jar of pistachio pesto home, but it's fairly easy to make.
"Pesto" means something that is pestado - pounded or ground up, as in English "pestle and "paste" or French "pate". Walnut-Parsley is a popular combination. Also, fresh mint pesto. The Cuisinart is what made Pesto easy.
More: Move out of the way, basil. Cheese + nuts + olive oil + garlic + whatever the hell you want = awesome pesto.
Pesto is for seafood, vegetables, noodles.
Thursday, August 10. 2023
I've eaten plenty of sausages in Germany but there is nothing like an American baseball game hot dog. Or anywhere else during the summer. Not a dirty-water hot dog on an NYC street - a grilled one. As with any sausage, never think about the ingredients.
A bit about the history of hot dogs.
Love them? How do you like 'em? I like some mustard.
Saturday, July 29. 2023
Monday, July 10. 2023
Monday, July 3. 2023
That Pompeii fresco could never have been pizza as we think of it. Sure, humans have put stuff on breads since bread was first made because bread alone is boring. It probably was like focaccia with stuff on it. No tomato or mozzarella though. Maybe fruit, oil, herbs.
Pastry stuff less boring, as in our galette post yesterday. Looks like a pizza.
While the typical Italian-American "tomato pie" is what Americans tend to think of, pretty much anything can be cooked on a pizza crust. In Southern Italy and Sicily, the menu will have 40-50 choices, most without tomato. Consider figs with goat cheese.
Or, in my photo from Sicily, egg and olive with pureed red pepper.
Sunday, July 2. 2023
Friday, June 16. 2023
You always wondered what those baby corncobs were, mostly in Asian foods in the US. You never bothered finding out.
Baby corn is real baby corn. Mainly imported from Thailand. Corn (maize) of course spread around the world from Central America after Columbus. Like so many things we consume, baby corn is crunchy and fun to eat but has no nutritional value. Who cares?
I like them.
Friday, June 9. 2023
If you even need breakfast other than a medium Dunkin (if Irish, a Guiness mixed with a raw egg), lots of people go for various cereals.
Sure, tasty, but pure carbs. Might as well have a donut or two.
Mrs. BD tells me that the ladies like a teacup of Cold Oatmeal for breakfast. No cooking.
Thursday, June 1. 2023
Readers know that Maggie's has a preference for rare Ribeyes (especially those thick Costco ones which can dine 4 people), cooked on an iron pan over a hot gas flame. Olive oil and butter, salt and pepper. Hard crust on the surface, but almost alive inside.
Burgers and hot dogs on the outdoor grill? Excellent. Also, marinated butterflied legga lamb. But a good steak? Nope.
I know others have different opinions.
Friday, April 28. 2023
They go by several other names too (Miniature Watermelons, Mouse Melon), but I never had them until last week in Georgia. They cut them in half and put them in salads at our inn along with the cherry tomatoes, etc. Crunchy, refreshing little cucumber-like things about an inch long. Grow prolifically on vines. Be the first in your neighborhood. I ordered some seeds right away.
Another good thing they grew in their gardens was a tangy peppery green which is new to me, Curly Mustard, or Mustard Mizuna. Use it when the leaves are young.
And lots of Mache, of course. Down there, you must do many sequential plantings of greens, but in summer they must be shaded.
Tuesday, April 25. 2023
Friday, April 14. 2023
Friday, April 7. 2023
We tend towards the Italian on religious holidays. Mrs. BD is 50%; her dad is as Irish as can be. However, trust me, Italian blood beats celtic or anglo-saxon every time.
She needed candied citron for Easter Pie (Wheat Pie). Naturally, they brought home a bunch of arancini for lunch. They were the size of baseballs. I've never seen them that big in Sicily. Also, baccala for tonight. Hard as wood at first.
For today, baccala to keep with her family tradition. For Easter dinner, a Nice Legga Lamb. That's the Irish part. Just 4 of us, sad to say this year. Distancing, for what it's worth. I miss the whole BD family but I miss church a lot too. It doesn't feel right. I love our congregation.
Monday, April 3. 2023
My buddy and I had Aile de Raie for dinner last night. I think poached, with a nice sauce. (Our wives had pork osso buco.)
Have you ever caught a Skate? I've caught a couple over the years on Cape Cod while fishing for Stripers. Released them. Felt like you hooked a log. Should have cooked them.
I've had Joue de Raie once, years ago in France. Like a scallop. The "wings" are the more usual menu thing. A nice sweet white meat, and a first time for me.
Everybody who visits Atlantic beaches has seen their blackened egg cases ("mermaid purses") washed up. Skates lay those egg sacks, while Sting Rays bear live young. People eat Sting Rays, but do not step on one.
Friday, March 31. 2023
Tuesday, March 28. 2023
There are too many routine uses of cheese in the US to list them all - just think cheeseburgers, nachos, cheese and cracker appetizers, McMuffins with cheese, grilled cheese, ham and Swiss sandwiches, salads with gorgonzola. There are many more.
The big supermarket sellers in the USA seem to be "American cheese" (which is a food-like substance), sliced Swiss (made in Wisconsin), Dutch Gouda, and Cheddar-type cheeses (often made in Vermont - but the best of that type imo is Irish Kerrygold Dubliner). Gorgonzola too if there are a lot of Italians around, and goat cheese has become basic these days. Cottage Cheese and Cream Cheese are not really cheeses. Yeah, and Brie is a popular party cheese.
Amazing cheeses (often French) are due respect. The frogs can be as fussy about cheese as about wine, and for good reasons: they go from sheep to cow, from gooey to hard, from intensely stinky to nutty, plenty of complex blues, etc.
Our experience in France is that a charcuterie board (supposedly an aperitif) is a meal in itself - sliced hard cheeses, cured meats, nuts, olives, bread, etc.
We also had excellent and interesting cheeses at breakfast buffets.
However, the special cheeses are reserved for the Cheese course, before dessert. If you don't know the names, you just point to 3 or 4 that you want, and the slices are put on your plate. Some jam, sliced apple or pear. No bread to dilute the intensity.
Cheese or Dessert First? Short answer: the cheese.
Sunday, March 19. 2023
My main point is about the cheese board. They bring it around on a dolly with an expert cheese server, and you point to which ones you want to try. I need to do a post about the cheese course in nice dining because it is my favorite.
Sunday, March 12. 2023
Mrs. BD had a tough week with four days and nights of meetings in NYC, then moving my in-laws to a new elderly place an hour away from here in the last 2 days (boxes and boxes of stuff, then computers, lamps, comfy chairs, pictures, and more boxes, big TVs, moving guys, hospital bed, etc).
So I asked her what might please her tonight. She said "Funny you ask, cuz Beef Bourguignon was on my mind". I like making stews, so ok. I make these things on the fly, no measurements. Always works. French chef taught me to cook soup and stew by instinct and taste. It should be ready by the time she gets home from the old folk's home tonight. Yes, I did send my father-in-law some more nice vino to keep the old guy happy. The wines they serve at the old folks home are disgusting, and old guys need the wine for good cheer.
The left-overs are even better.
Thursday, March 2. 2023
One of my kids went to the B&H last night. Unlike many sort-of Jewish delis in NYC (which are termed "Kosher style", serving dairy and meat - especially pastrami)), B and H is a kosher dairy joint. A famous East Village hole-in-the-wall place.
Decades ago, when I was dating the future Mrs. BD, we frequented that place. We aren't Jewish. The food was cheap and good. The challah is tasty.
Digging back in my memory, I suggested that my kid try the Matzoh Ball Soup. She liked it.
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