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
Monday, March 10. 2014
Gwynnie is glad that it wasn't her buck that slid on dry grass about 90 yards to the bottom of this ravine. The guy who shot it is glad it stopped within range of a winch cable plus 100 ft of line.
My new favorite venison recipe, Venison with Blackberry Sauce, is below the fold
Continue reading "More Venison"
Sunday, March 9. 2014
The most recent dinner we had in Sicily was swordfish stuffed with herbs and pignoli nuts on a bed of couscous with a sweetened wine and raisin sauce. That was outside Agrigento on the southwest coast. To this day, western Sicily is "Arab" and eastern is "Greek." The local cuisines of Italy reflect the history.
The history of Sicilian cuisine is the history of beautiful, wonderful, and profoundly-corrupt Sicily - and also the history of the Western World. No problema - they only hassle eachother - and we must be multiculturally-tolerant. Put Sicily on your bucket list. They love Americans there and, like the Irish, they all have a cousin in NY or NJ. We are returning there soon.
For some dumb reason, I decided to codify the dominant carbs of Italy, which, like Sicily, still has large variations in regional cuisine, sometimes varying almost completely over 50 miles in terms of wines, cheeses, sausages, meats, carbs, etc. As readers know, in Italian tradition the Antipasto is tasty little treats, the Primi is generally a carb (a pasta, risotto, gnocchi, etc) or a soup, and the Secondi is meat or fish, with a veg on a side dish only if you ask for it.
What is suppertime in Italian culture? Late, like 8 or 9 pm, after the passagiata with lots of vino and friends and relatives and kids. As I have said before, the cuisine of all of Italy is designed to be accompanied by wine. Without sips of wine, it tastes less wonderful.
Bread? Everywhere. "North" and "South" roughly mean in relation to Rome. (Umbrian bread is terrible: they quit using salt after a salt tax argument with the Pope in 1540 and still don't use it. That's a long Italian grudge for ya.)
The North: Polenta, Rice and Risotto, Potato, Gnocchi, fresh-made egg noodles (eg Pappardelle) including ravioli and tortellini. Mainly butter for fats, but some olive oil too.
The South: Plain (no egg) dried pastas, beans. Pizza. Olive oil for fats.
Sicily: Couscous, rice, some plain pastas. Olive oil.
Now I expect some arguments and exceptions from readers, but I think this is generally accurate.
Image is a very fine Umbrian Primi that I had in Assisi - Gorgonzola and Porcini Risotto. Nothing better. Arborio Rice only. Italian women have strong arms from stirring Risotto and Polenta. You can't stop stirring them until done.
Saturday, March 8. 2014
Our occasional contributor Kondratiev posted this recipe as a comment the other day:
Here's a simpler recipe for marinated loin steaks. (Loin is just tenderloin steak without the bone.)
Or for a stew, this sort of thing is good - if you use red wine instead of water. We would use shank, or any haunch or shoulder meat for this.
We hope all of our hunter readers, or friends of hunters, have some meat in the freezer. Please send us your favorite venison recipes in the comments -
Sunday, March 2. 2014
Mrs. BD and I have liked Barbetta for many years. It's on the theater district's Restaurant Row, and it's been in the same townhouse, and owned by the same family, since 1906.
Food is mainly Piedmontese, no red sauces and only one pasta on the menu. I had the rabbit with a white wine sauce as secondi and so did the pupette, while she explained to us the basic architecture of successful playwriting from Aristotle to Beckett (it's always been the same because it works, even for screen writing - we had just seen a fairly OK production of Measure For Measure at The New Vic. She explained that Godot had perfect structure but no content - which was the point. For me, Godot sticks in my head but I don't really want or need it to).
Their pre- or post-theater prix-fixe menu is very reasonable if you pass on their amazing wine list. The upstairs dining is cozy, the downstairs is elegant but simple. The jewels that can be hidden inside simple old brownstones are always surprising to me. They also have a small garden.
Reservations absolutely required and appropriate adult attire is expected but the family which owns it has run a relaxed, highly-attentive, and cheerful, comfortable joint for over 100 years.
Thursday, February 27. 2014
Wednesday, February 19. 2014
Not gourmet, and not for weight loss.
By popular request, I've collected the recent 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):
Corned Beef and Cabbage, aka New England Boiled Dinner
Sunday, February 16. 2014
This is a repost:
We respect and value - with a deep sensitivity to cereal differences - hot breakfast cereals from strange, exotic, far-away cultures like Montana, etc. Here's what we like (besides English muffins):
Being Yankees, we are also partial to Apple Pie for breakfast (that's what it used to be made for), but you must not buy that at the store - there are some things in life you would never buy. Also great for breakfast - leftover cold pizza.
Readers know that we also love Chipped Beef on toast, but a quarter of an Apple Pie (a multicultural tarte tatin will work, too), two coffees and a couple of smokes will get anyone ready for a cold, rugged day of work in the drafty old office.
Thursday, February 13. 2014
Tomorrow, I will have one 3 lb. steamed lobster, with home-made cucumber cole slaw, home-made potato salad with vinaigrette. Bottle or two of Oregon Chardonnay. And I will make a Trifle, all home-made (except I bought the pound cake at the supermarket). Bottom layer of pound cake soaked with rum, then drizzled with raspberry jam. Then a layer of homemade custard. Then a layer of cut-up strawberries, plus raspberries and blueberries. Then whipped cream, and then decorated with semi-sweet chocolate shavings and raspberries. Hope she likes it.
We have an English Trifle bowl like the one in the photo somewhere. I can't find it. It's somewhere buried in the basement pantry, A mere trifle to please She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed.
Sunday, February 9. 2014
We're having 30 friends over here at Maggie's Farm HQ for a casual wild game dinner tomorrow night. Perfect for a 10 degree (F) winter night. I'll have all three fireplaces burning.
Three of us guys now do the cooking for these events, and lucky are the invitees.
Hor's doevres: Slices of rare charcoal-grilled wild venison filet mignon and slices of rare Canada goose breast, en croute, with a dab of horseradish.
Entrees: One hunting pal is making his favorite venison curry with rice. My Louisiana-born and bred hunting buddy is making wild duck gumbo. I am making wild duck breast with dried cherry sauce, with cheese grits. Or maybe a warm duck breast salad. Can't decide.
Somebody offered to bring a big salad, and somebody else graciously offered to bring home-made desserts. I supply the beer, and everybody will bring a bottle or three of red wine.
I'll provide pretty good cigars too, for them what wants 'em. In my experience, women never complain about guys and cigars when men do the cooking and party planning. We'll have to set up a few extra tables in the living room to do this, because this ain't no palace (but not a trailer either). The persnickety Mrs. BD just hates it when a plate of gumbo or a tankard of Pinot Noir gets spilled on her furniture.
Everybody likes pancakes, especially with a side of bacon, sausage, and/or fried eggs.
Readers know that I like to throw a handful of frozen cranberries into the batter, and that I am particular about Maple Syrup - Grade B, not Grade A.
I also like to make cornmeal pancakes (as in photo). I tend to overweight the cornmeal/flour ratio, and I like to throw some canned corn or frozen corn into the batter. Good stuff.
Kids love it. They will grow strong, healthy, average or above-average, and attractive on this feed.
By the way, have you ever used molasses on pancakes? It's delicious, especially on cornmeal pancakes.
Saturday, February 8. 2014
A re-post -
Gourmet pizza nowadays often comes without tomatoes and with all sorts of other toppings, but it was the basic tomato-mozzarella mix that made pizza so popular, beginning in the 1950s, in the US. It was made for beer.
That basic format relied on the importation of the tomato - originally a yellow fruit, the "pomi d'oro," from Mexico to Europe in the 1500s. Cortez brought more than gold to Europe.
From its Greek origins to Chicago's Pizza Uno, the story of pizza is about immigration, entrepreneurialism, and invention. Now, "93 percent of Americans eat pizza at least once a month."
Read the whole American Pie at Am. Heritage. 1960s image of Miss Rheingold (a bigger deal in NY than Miss America) from the article. Extra-dry Rheingold Beer - the beer of New York baseball, brewed on the east side of Manhattan until the 1970s.
Friday, February 7. 2014
An annual re-post, but re-posted again because we seemed to help a number of people with this:
Forget the "Obesity Crisis." That's a crock. Abundant, good food is a blessing and a rarity in human history so it is a great privilege and luxury to be overweight. It certainly is true that, when tasty food is cheap, people will eat a lot of it and their bodies will kindly store what they don't need to survive today, to the detriment of our knees, hips, appearance, comfort, and general vigor. Trouble is, we won't need that storage tomorrow - or ever. It's like hoarding.
We can all be as fat or fit as we wish to be. It's a free country, and being fat (but not obese) isn't terrible for your health unless you are diabetic or want to be able to get around energetically. But don't listen to the Dieticians and Nutritionists. They will want you to get in shape slowly and in a "sustainable" way. In your heart, you know that will never happen. If you are bothering to read this, you just want to get in shape as quickly as you can without liposuction or use of the vomitorium.
Eliminating carbs reduces or eliminates carb craving in most overweight people over several weeks.
This can be a one- to three-month program as desired. Maintenance is another topic.
Details below -
Continue reading "The Official Maggie's Farm Get-Back-in-shape before Summer Plan"
Saturday, February 1. 2014
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 30. 2014
I posted this last February, shortly before my Mom - and then my Dad, died.
My sibs and I are sharing the pleasant job of keeping my Dad happily fed while Mom is struggling in the hospital.
I brought a crock pot pot roast before, and last weekend my Pasta Fagiole which came out perfectly if I do say so myself (see my photo at right). I like it creamy, not watery.
I borrowed from several recipes to try to make it come out just like Mrs. BD's Italian-born Grandma used to make it. That is real homey, filling, comforting peasant food. I did use a little tomato paste in it. If it gets too thick you just add more beef broth.
My Dad loved the PF so much that I am considering something similar for this weekend: Ribollita. Maybe make some for the kids, too.
Ribollita is a Northern Italian bean, kale, and bread concoction which is meant to use stale bread and other random leftovers. Here's one recipe. I will just get some French bread and let it go stale.
Here's another one.
Next weekend, maybe some Kare Kare, Filipino Oxtail Stew with Peanut Sauce. Damn, is that good stuff. Our kids' Filipino nanny (a gift from God to our family) made it often, but with mango slices added. I have no doubt that Dad would like that. Oxtail is delicious meat, close to the bone.
Learned that from my Mom. She was all about keeping her life simple but she sure enjoyed grand luxe for a change of pace.
Monday, January 27. 2014
If you cook at home at all, a good Chef's Knife is the first thing you need. The proper use of this tool for all of its various purposes - chopping, dicing, slicing, etc. - are things to be learned. YouTube is a fine resource for learning knife skills.
Pictured is an 8" Wusthof.
I bring this up because last week we posted on the topic of Knife Control, and were reminded about docs in the UK: British Doctors Call for Ban on Long Kitchen Knives to End Stabbings.
Next, it will be a ban on knitting needles.
Sunday, January 26. 2014
How does BD make 6-12 quarts of chicken stock, for soup, Chicken 'n Dumplings, Chicken Noodle Soup, etc? Well, I learned from a master chef trained at Cordon Bleu.
Use a 10-12-quart pot if you have one, but for the bigger stock pots, you will need more than a single carcass. That's one reason to freeze bird carcasses.
First roast a fat chicken or buy a roasted one. Then remove the breast meat and the thigh meat, but keep all of the bones, wings, scraps, juices, giblets (not the liver) etc. You can roast the carcass and bones a little, if you want, and then toss it all into a big pot of water.
If we have any left-over turkey wings or carcass from Thanksgiving or Christmas in the freezer, or any pheasant or chukar carcasses or freezer-burned birds or bird parts, I put them in too. Sometimes I will roast or sautee a pack of chicken wings and throw them in. The richer, the better. Crack the bones if you have a cleaver to fully extract the goodness.
Roughly chop (skins on) a couple of onions, a head of garlic (skins on), a couple of carrots (skin on), a couple of celeries, the top parts of a leek, and toss them in a hot skillet to sautee until slightly browned in olive oil. Don't worry about the skins. Then throw it all in the pot. You can throw in some frozen peas, beans, potato peels, whatever, too, to deepen the vegetable flavor. Have fun with it, but no tomato or mushrooms in this: it's meant to be mild.
Throw in a small handful of black peppercorns, a tablespoon or two of Kosher salt, a little sugar, a few sprigs of Thyme, some bay leaves, and some parsley sprigs. Pour in a bottle or two of dry white wine, and let the whole mess simmer happily for a few (3-6 hrs, adding wine or water as needed). A crock pot would do it too, bit it's really a winter weekend project.
When you're tired of doing it, let it cool a little and run it all through a strainer and toss the remnant solid stuff in the trash. Voila! Bird Dog's Poultry Stock, good for whatever ails ya and a good foundation for any poultry construction.
If you want to freeze it, cool, skim the fat off, and freeze. It's fine for 6 months. If skilled, a poultry consomme is a fine dish.
Saturday, January 25. 2014
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.
Thursday, January 23. 2014
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 into a half of one.)
I see recipes online which include meat, but Pasta Fagioli is best made with meat broth (chicken or beef), but 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 Italian soul.
Wednesday, January 22. 2014
Saturday, January 18. 2014
A reader advised us that the Macaroni Pie in The Leopard was one local version of Timballo (or "Timpano"). There appear to be numerous local versions. I've never heard of it, but I want to try a good one.
Sometimes it's made with eggplant (aubergines), sometimes not. The version I had read about had hard-boiled eggs and chicken liver in it. Sounded delicious.
Here's a good post about Timballo. Lots of recipes pop up if you google "Timballo recipe."
Many of the recipes are made with Tagliarini, and almost sound like a molded Mac and Cheese with goodies inside, while some seem more like a molded lasagna.
Off topic, but during my research I stumbled on more tagliarini - the well-molded Bianca Tagliarini.
Friday, January 10. 2014
Prosecco, beloved by Pliny, seems to be all the rage these days. I picked up a few bottles for Saturday evening's festivities to celebrate several family birthdays - plus a great new job in the family - and a bon voyage to my in-laws who spend several months each winter season in Mexico - Cabo - with all of their lively and enjoyable retired pals from all over America and Canada.
Do they play Mexican Train Dominoes? You bet they do. Good game. They like to go fishing too, and to take walks around Mexico. It's colorful. Fine seafood. The magnificent Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of California. Cabo is their winter home-away-from-home. Much more interesting than Florida.
Good Prosecco is cheaper than the tastiest champagnes. I'll be interested in what people think, but they will all enjoy anything because it's not about the food and drink - it's about the company and the family spirit. As usual, Martinelli's for the teetotalers.
Mrs. BD will cook a crown roast of pork with apple stuffing, with applesauce, mashed Yukon Gold taters with a little garlic in them, broccoli rabe with oil and garlic, and cake with vanilla ice cream, but I am doing work-related things tomorrow so I can't do much more than buy the wine and stuff.
Wednesday, January 8. 2014
It's an amusing update on food fashion. Everybody likes new tastes, dining out, food adventures. I had the best steak tartare in my life last night. Right now, all of the restaurants are trying to outdo each other with their steak tartare.
Carpaccio is so 1990s, ya know.
Monday, January 6. 2014
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 half-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.
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