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.
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Sunday, March 29. 2015
It's getting into Shad Season now in the Northeast. Just had my first shad roe dinner of the season with pals last night. They made it with a caper and mushroom sauce with chopped bacon on top, on a bed of spinach, with roasted potatoes. It should be fully pink in the middle.
Many of us in Yankeeland welcome this brief season when the Shad migrate from the ocean up the rivers to lay and fertilize the eggs, with the females filled with their delicious egg sacs we call Shad roe.
If you drive over the Hudson River, the Connecticut, or Housatonic bridges, you will see the shad fishermen's nets spread out right now.
The roe, cooked with bacon, is as good as food gets. Do not overcook it - it is Shad caviar. But the meat of the Atlantic Shad (a large type of herring, I believe) is underestimated. It requires an expert boner which makes it expensive, but it's as tasty a fish as exists. The Shad is full of crazy bones.
It's a brief season for Shad, and there are Shad Festivals all over the Northeast.
Photo above is Shad roe. My Mom loved it, and so do I.
Photo below is a Shad fisherman on the Potomac, c. 1900
Saturday, March 28. 2015
Now that we have finally been informed by our intellectual superiors that a real breakfast is healthier than fattening grains and fattening fruit, a new heresy appears to attack the dietary consensus: Breakfast is not important (unless you are a growing child or do physical labor all day)
Of course not. I thrive on coffee for breakfast, maybe with a cigar or some tobacco. A good diner breakfast, much as I love it on the rare occasion, puts me to sleep instead of giving me energy to do things.
Thursday, March 26. 2015
It's the time of year when people begin to cook the game in their freezers. Readers know that I like to make a gallon or so of Gibier Sauce or Gibier Glace each fall or winter, and freeze it.
There are other tasty sauces too for game (or for chicken, pork, even steak) and they are easy, and fun, to make.
Whether it's meat from the field or meat from the market, these sauces are tasty and good fun.
Sunday, March 22. 2015
Cooking is chemistry. The Maillard Reaction is why every amateur cook dreams of a high-powered industrial stovetop with a big gas flame - "Cooking with gas." That way, you can brown things, even fish, while keeping the inside rare. Readers know that's how I cook steak, always on the gas stove (well, sometimes on charcoal for steak, lamb, and Bluefish but it's the same idea.) Chicken is more flavorful browned too regardless of what you use it for after.
To make a great European-style meat stock, you want max flavor. That's why you use the M Reaction to first brown all the bones and meat scraps, and the vegetables too (mushrooms, garlic, carrot, celery, onion, etc), before you throw them into the stewpot with the water, peppercorns, herbs, and wines.
I only use two stovetop heats: Max and Very Low/simmer.
For some recipes you do not want those intense flavors, which is why lots of Asian stew-type recipes use unbrowned meats. Boiled chicken, for example, pork, or shrimp, and lightly boiled vegetables and roots. The Maillard Reaction is thus avoided to permit more subtle flavors. Very pleasant things like like sashimi, carpaccio, steak tartare, etc., take subtle to the max.
Megan talked about browning her beef stew beef in the oven to make it easier. Not a bad idea. Browning chunks of beef or lamb for a stew in a pan is messy, and who will clean the damn pan? And, for a stew, you don't care how well-done the meat is.
Maple sap begins to flow when there are sufficient daily temperature swings between below and above freezing. That tends to be towards late February-early March in New England, depending on latitude and the weather. Curiously, Sugar Maple sap does not just flow up from the roots - it flows both downwards from the branches and up the trunk, depending on the time of day and the whim of the tree.
Our Vermont friends have been busy getting ready for sugarin', so it's time for some info. We tend to think of Vermont maple syrup, but Canada is the major producer. We consume it abundantly in New England and do not approve of the cheap substitute goop in the supermarkets. We buy the real stuff by the gallon when we can, especially the Grades below Light Amber. You can buy the rather intense Grade B here, but I think I prefer the third level of Grade A - Dark Amber. This place sells all of the grades.
- Put it on oatmeal like the Pilgrims did.
Friday, March 13. 2015
With an Irish father-in-law, the boiled dinner is de rigeur around here on, or close to, St. Paddy's Day. I'll make up a big pot this weekend even though he is still in lovely San Diego, slowly on the mend and eager to get home.
I happen to be one of those people who love that New England Boiled Dinner, aka Irish Boiled Dinner, aka (per reader) "a greasy, one-pot slopfest."
Cook the heck out of the meat, for hours, until it almost falls apart. Lots of whole peppercorns, Allspice, cloves, bay leaf, and garlic in the pot.
The carrots are optional, in my view - and the cabbage is the best part. For a large volume of food with generous leftovers for all, I am using 2 packaged corned beefs, 6 turnips, a small bag of carrots, a couple of giant onions, a small bag of parsnips (yum), a bag of potatoes, 2 or 3 large cabbages. That's all that will fit into our largest stewpot.
We're gonna need a bigger stewpot.
A large pot of hot mustard on one side, and a pot of beer on the other side. Great peasant eats, and the spices perfume the entire cabin.
Update: Had to do it in multiple batches but reusing the water from cooking the meat.
Sunday, March 1. 2015
Yummy, quick, cheap and easy for an early winter supper. Best with pancetta, but bacon will do in a pinch. Thin spaghetti, please, always, and more ground pepper than you think. Maybe linguine instead of spaghetti is ok.
Tyler shows you how.
It's sort of a Southern Italian version of bacon and eggs, also good for a 3 am meal after bar-hopping and flirting all night.
But the classic for that purpose is Whore's Spaghetti, the highly-flavored Spaghetti Puttanesca. Capers, olives, and anchovies. White anchovies in jars or fresh, not the disgusting brown ones in tins.
Sunday, February 22. 2015
My favorite winter puddings are Indian Pudding, Bread Pudding, and Plum Pudding (with hard sauce, please).
Bread Pudding is the easiest to make.
All of these puddings require something to be served on top. For Bread Pudding, I've seen Rum Sauce, Lemon Sauce, Vanilla Sauce, etc etc.
Or the old standby, English Custard Sauce. No need to make it yourself - you can buy Bird's at Amazon. Ol' Mr. Bird invented it because his wife had an egg allergy. A bird, allergic to eggs...
God made pitchers for pouring custard.
What are your favorite cold weather desserts?
Wednesday, February 11. 2015
I was raised on these things. In winter, baked beans with hot dogs and toast. Ketchup on the side as the vegetable. I still like that old, filling, Yankee poverty food.
To get it right, probably should use dried Navy Beans, but the canned would work too. A crock pot item? Why not. It should come out firm, not soupy.
Saturday, February 7. 2015
Friday, February 6. 2015
Wednesday, February 4. 2015
Reposted for the season -
Please do not use the fake truffle oil.
It's basically a slaw. We had that at a restaurant this weekend as a salad sort of molded from a cup on top of a potato fritter. Damn good. I told Mrs. BD that dog kibbles with black truffle oil and parmesan would be delicious. Actually, I have always liked B. Sprouts anyway, especially sauteed with bacon.
(Speaking of bacon, my brother served an hors d'oevres Sunday afternoon - dates wrapped in bacon, broiled. Amazing.)
Culinary tip: Brussel Sprouts do not hit their peak of flavor and sweetness until hit by at least a frost or two. The ones from the stores have not been. Put a stalk of them outdoors on a frigid day for a few hours, and let them freeze. Much better. Serious gardeners leave them standing in the garden all winter, and just go out and cut some off from the stalks. I guess you could try the freezer, too. When we buy them in bags, we leave them out in the snow until we use them.
Saturday, January 31. 2015
One of my favorites: Braised Lamb Shanks
The sweetest meat is near the bone. Cook the heck out of it until fork-tender. You can bake or slow-cooker it. Some people like to brown the marinated meat before cooking.
Generally one whole shank per person is plenty. Serve one whole shank, bone in, with a pile of sauce over polenta or white rice.
I have not made it with venison shank yet, but I should. Maybe soon. A saw would save the trouble of cutting the meat off the shank bone. Yes, I do know how to butcher a deer.
Sunday, January 25. 2015
This is an annual re-posting.
The global cooling we are experiencing inspired me to consider some truly fine cool-weather all-white breakfast eats which are not easily found in Yankee-land. The good stuff that sticks to your
Creamed chipped beef on toast is the fine old Yankee version of the southland's biscuits 'n gravy. Both have done wonders for warming the hearts and narrowing the arteries of generations of American boys. Add some potatoes and you have the perfect meal for a lumberjack or hunter.
While apple pie is an old-time Yankee breakfast staple, it has been replaced long ago by eggs, toast, and bacon, maybe a chunk of fruit, and preferably home fries with ketchup on them. Not Heinz 57, though - it's not my job to feed John Kerry.
Some people eat cereal for breakfast. Why? Because Dr. John Kellogg, a health-food charlatan in the 1800s, told them to. Zero nutrition. Breakfast cereal is a fraud and a scam, unless it's plain grits or cream of wheat or oatmeal. The crunchy granola stuff? Well, I thought the guy who discovered that you could sell people plain water was a genius, but the people who decided to sell guinea pig food to humans was his creative equal.
(At Maggie's Farm, we are also fond of fish for breakfast, like the Brits. Kippers. Or a lighty sauteed trout someone has caught early, sprinkled with parsley. Or left-over broiled salmon.)
The chipped beef was always a boarding school standard, and half loved it and half barfed to look at it. It does look like vomit, but it's great stuff. It's a gourmet's delight, but nobody makes it anymore.
When I did my time south of the Mason-Dixon, a local favorite was hot dog gravy on biscuits. Grits on the side, of course. Everything white. Not a refined breakfast, just gravy made with supermarket hot dogs instead of sausage. A truly revolting flavor unless you grew up in the hills and hollers, but it will fend off hunger for hours. I prefer my Sabretts on a bun at Yankee Stadium. But other sorts of southern gravy, made with ham or sausage, are just fine. I won't presume to offer a biscuit 'n gravy recipe, because every Southern Mom has her own. Well, here's a Virginia one from someone's Grandma.
Biscuits 'n gravy, and grits. Serious food for the soul.
Image: New Hampshire chipped beef on English muffins - with home fries. They don't do grits up north (except in Italian homes and restaurants, where they like to call grits "polenta") and it's a damn shame. Good stuff.
Thursday, January 22. 2015
Distinctly not gourmet, kid-friendly, unfashionable, and not for weight loss.
Reposted by popular request, I've collected the posts on old-timey Mommys of America non-gourmet, comforting (eg filling), quick 'n easy (eg no lasagna or fried chicken), and sensitively-multicultural (even Shrimp 'n Grits) winter suppers here, in no particular order. Such foods mean family love.
I suspect some of our foreign readers - of whom we have quite a few - might be interested in what American moms (and sometimes modern dads) fix up for ordinary family suppers in Upper Yankeeland (with the exception of Shrimp 'n Grits which is real Southern food and suitable for breakfast, lunch, or supper).
A number of these are suitable to ye olde slow cooker aka electric crock pot.
Corned Beef and Cabbage, aka New England Boiled Dinner
Friday, January 16. 2015
This was news to me, from a Paris-trained chef friend.
Butter will keep for weeks or months without refrigeration, depending on how much oxygen it is exposed to. The purpose of a butter dish (or butter crock, etc) is so you can have soft, usable butter on the counter or table at all times, while protected from ambient air.
In fact, butter will stay better and fresher in a butter dish rather than in the fridge where it is exposed to ambient air. Why do Americans keep butter in the fridge? Who knows. It won't melt under 80 degrees F. Supposedly, the butter crocks that use a water seal will keep butter fresh even longer, many months. Well, butter has been around a lot longer than refrigeration.
My days of tearing bread and toast with hard butter are over, as of now. Yes, I do love butter, and even more now that we know it's healthy.
Thursday, January 15. 2015
In reference to our Scientific Survey about coffee containers, a reader sends this:
We learned how to make it right from Jewish friends. Mrs. BD has had the bug that's going around - stiff neck, headache, muscle cramps, general weakness, so I made a batch for her. No, it's not meningitis.
Quick and easy. I lightly sautee a pile of chopped onions, celery, and garlic in some olive oil and butter. I chop a few carrots, skin on. Throw them in the big crock pot. I lightly brown a few chicken legs and thighs, and throw them in, and cover with water. I toss in a bunch of herbs - bay leaf, thyme, a little rosemary, maybe tarragon, and a large pile of chopped parsley. Lots of salt and pepper.
I put the crock thing on high for 5 or 6 hours. It can't go wrong, and it is good medicine for whatever ails ya.
Wednesday, January 14. 2015
Pic shows a pretty cup from our everyday set, a regular logo mug, a demitasse cup from my Grandpa's set which we are using for espresso now, a good old Dunkin medium styrofoam cup, and a coffee cup aka teacup.
Mrs. BD assures me that "coffee cups" like the Cuthbertson Christmas cup in my photo are actually teacups. I do not like to drink coffee from those things, because it's too delicate and precious, does not hold enough, and gets cold too fast.
What sort of thing do you like to drink your coffee or tea from?
Tuesday, January 13. 2015
From our archives:
As you may know, cassoulet is basically French baked beans with meat. The real original of hot dogs and baked beans. It is country home cookin, but it can be great stuff. Dutch oven cooking. Crock pot? Why not, as long as the meats are browned first, but it will not brown the top.
It's a good way to cook some wild game meat, especially the less-tender parts.
Any meat, but not beef - strong red meat is too strong for cassoulet. We have, over time, used various mixes of duck, snow goose, chukar, venison, chicken, pork, wild boar, and pheasant which we have killed. Mix the meats - it adds to the flavor. There should be some source of pig fat or duck fat in it. Some venison sausage, or any sausage, because it is a necessary traditional ingredient. The meat-to-bean ratio is supposed to be fairly high - 30% - but I like beans and prefer a lower ratio. I think every village in southern France has its own recipe and method. I figure roughly one hunk of sausage and one or two hunks of meat per person.
A few tips about Cassoulet:
1. Make it at least the day before. Like beef stew, it improves overnight.
Sunday, January 11. 2015
Cooked up a big batch of superb Beef Stew (my opinion) for the family crowd yesterday, to be served today for birthdays. A stew always benefits from a day's rest. I do it the Frenchie way with the cheapest cuts of meat, lardons, lots of pearl onions, porcini mushrooms, Cotes de Rhone - all the best stuff. My concoction is also good for the unwanted cuts of venison.
I slow cook it, low heat, for 6 or 7 hours, let it rest for 24 hrs, and serve on egg noodles, Italian or otherwise.
However, I somehow stumbled on recipes for liver 'n onions. I love calves liver and onions, with a side of mashed taters. (Me like chicken liver too, but that's another story.) The trick to tasty calves liver is the same as for foie gras - crispy on the outside and pink on the inside. That means high heat, quick cooking. I like liver in chunks, not slabs.
Friday, January 9. 2015
Having accumulated a manageable dose of education and culcha, a nice lunch and a glass or two of wine nearby is perfect. Mrs. BD suggests the following for
Our long-time favorite: Giovanni Vento Cinque. Cozy, cuisine not entirely predictable but always good. My favorite? The calves liver with balsamic. That's Italian.
Caravaggio. Jacket and tie required. Wonderful and elegant but not stuffy.
Jean Georges - just across the park. Mind-blowing.
If you can handle two venues in one day, stroll down to the intimate Neue Gallery and have a perfectly authentic Viennese lunch in their parlor. I have been in Vienna, and this is Vienna.
Thursday, January 1. 2015
For in-laws, kids, and their significant others
Roast Boneless Leg of Lamb to 120 degrees (F) - rare - au jus of course
Prosecca, Mt. Etna Rosso, Martinelli's
Christmas cookies and espresso from my Christmas machine
Tuesday, December 23. 2014
Great to make, but easier to buy one at your baker
Best Macaroni and Cheese
The best side with any juicy, fatty, succulent meat
5-Minute Peanut Butter Frozen Fudge
We changed our Christmas Day menu. Our neighborhood butcher is making us a crown roast of pork with 18 chops - and each chop 2 inches thick. I'll stuff the roasts with sausage-apple stuffing, and we'll make some applesauce. Few winter foods are more succulent and delicious.
Friday, December 19. 2014
Around the HQ, we stick with the un-Yankee, Southern Italian/Sicilian Christmas Eve fast, which means seafood. In past years, I have had the real 7 Fishes with fried baccala, steamed mussels, scungilli, etc etc. A wonderful fish feast which it would be a stretch to term "fasting." The Catholics are very clever with their concept of fasting.
The best-known Sicilian Primi is Pasta Con Sardi - pasta with anchovies (or tiny sardines) - what I term Pasta With Minnows aka Pasta with Bait.
What is an "anchovy"? Never, ever use those tinned brown over-salted anchovies that they put on cheap pizzas. Disgusting stuff, cat food for a cat you hate. If you can't get fresh anchovies (they are white) at your local fish market, use the canned white anchovies in olive oil. Tasty. Good Italian markets have good fresh or oiled white anchovy filets.
Here's the recipe. Yes, to be authentic it needs the breadcrumbs.
And here's another Vigilia favorite: Fried Baccala Balls. I've also had these with mashed potato in the cod mix to hold it all together. Nothing is more delicious.
Traditonally, you have to have Struffoli for dessert even though I find it inedible.
Truth is, in recent years we just make poached salmon with yogurt-dill sauce, to be ready to serve at room temp. after getting home from church.
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