Friday, February 26, 2010

Snowy Hope

Lightly falling flakes, record snowfall yesterday, and yet the promise of Spring is there.  The extra little bit of daylight you did not expect, and the feeling that something good is just around the corner.  Hope does spring eternal, but anticipation of something remotely positive can also seem to take an eternity as well. 

Perhaps everyone who tells me that things in life happen for reasons that we are certainly not aware of at the time, is correct. It is  in the richness of our experiences that we discover what we are truly made of.  To be tested at various times during this journey, is what makes us who we are, contributes to the list of adversities overcome, and enables appreciation for the finer moments.

After that philisophical journey, I must divulge my latest food obsessions.  Last Spring, it was Green Goddess dressing, and after trying many versions, I settled on one that did not use mayonnaise, but avocado as it's creamy base.  It was delicious.  Now, I'm perfecting a Southern favorite called pimiento cheese, and about to tackle french fries Baltimore style, with brown gravy.  There is something particularly satisfying, and outside the realm of every day "meal service" cooking, when one perfects a dish from a certain region, or country.

By the way, the attempt at BBQ brisket, slow cooked in the oven (without the benefit of a smoker, or grill at the moment), went wonderfully.  And what great leftover barbecue beef sandwiches it made!

Signing off today still waxing philisophical. What can the journey here in the frozen North teach me? What can I take away from this that can be spun into the positive, from the depths of seriously negative experiences?  Is there some enhanced focus, or surety that comes from knowing what is so not right for you?  I think so. Perhaps it is that knowledge, that  adds extra certainty and refinement.  To become the person you were always meant to be, may mean to go through things you never wanted to, and come out the other side changed in ways that will benefit someone, at some time in the future.  That will be my discovery to make, and only time will reveal if this is true.

Enjoy your weekend, spend time with those you love, and who love you.  Be a HAG.....Happy, Active, Grateful.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Something Fishy...

It was, the PERFECT PIECE of cod.  After being a life-long recipe follower, I recently have begun to use the basic foundations of culinary thought for recipe creation.  After much thought, and pressed for time, I devised a recipe that will now become my go-to recipe for cod. 

I share this because the sensation of eating that perfectly moist fish, with the crunch of the almond and crumb topping, was better than some five-star dining experiences I have had.  Perhaps if  those who are sadly not fish eaters would try this, it may change their preference.

The dish was deceptively simple (as is the case in most things that become wonderful). After making a compound butter with lemon rind, parsley, basil and seasoning, I coated the filets with it, and returned them to the refrigerator for about 10 minutes, so that the butter could firm up.  I then squeezed some fresh lemon juice over the top, and made a crumb mixture with Panko, parsley, basil, lemon rind, slivered almonds and salt and pepper.  I covered the filets with the crumb mixture, dotted with some margarine, and baked for 10 minutes at 375. 

Now, given that most recipes, even "original creations" are tweaks and modifications to something that has been out there for a long time, I'm not claiming any special authorship or singular "creative genius" point here, and that is why I will always share a recipe.  I think that if one finds something uniquely flavorful, one has the obligation to let the world in on it.  After all, if someone's cake fell flat, it became brownies, and they never shared it with the world, we would have missed out.

By the way, as a person who has made a 3-tiered wedding cake, a nine-layer chocolate-raspberry Dobosh Torte (the layers are so thin they are baked on an inverted cake pan), and has mastered about every kind of cuisine there is, I must tell you, I CANNOT MAKE BROWNIES!  Nope, can't do it.  It does not matter, boxed or from scratch, cake-style or fudgy, I simply can't get it right.  They always come out soggy in the center, burnt on the crusts, and just sub-par.  Anyone have a recipe that will work all the time?  I'm just sayin'......peace out until next post.

P.S. Today is another "adventure in foodland", as I am trying to duplicate smoked BBQ brisket without a smoker, nor even a charcoal grill. What craziness will I attempt next?  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bad day at the AK corral

Living in Alaska is tough enough, especially when you are used to the beautiful, gentle climate of Northern California.  So, yesterday, being a Monday, and feeling especially lethargic, I did the unthinkable......I made a frozen pizza for supper.  Yes, I know, the SHOCK and HORROR of all of you who are like me, and cook from scratch nearly every day.  Now in my defense, I did chop bell pepper and green onion and added it to the pepperoni-only pizza, but still.  So here, in the frozen North....I fell off my from-scratch wagon, and relied on a frozen product.  Sometimes, life gives you frozen pizza.  It was just ok in the taste department, but what did I expect?

Today is a new day, however, and I am feeling like knocking it out of the ballpark with Coq au Vin (chicken in red wine) served with roasted garlic mashed potatos, and a green vegetable.  Just the thought of such a warming, comfort-filled meal makes me feel better already.

While I'm on the subject of comfort, just a word to those who are bashing one of my heroes, Anthony Bourdain (from the show No Reservations on the Travel Channel), get a grip.  So what that he has a sponsorship deal with a credit card company!  This man, who's travel and dining experiences, the way he describes the foods, the love and ambassador-ship he brings to us as Americans - all are invaluable.  I have never heard anyone's descriptions of the dishes, the individuals, and the locations to be as wonderful and heart-warming as his are.  Let us not forget, this man spent 30-plus years standing on his feet, making quality foods in restaurants for our dining pleasure!  So now, in his fifties having found a decent comfortable living, and with a wife and child to support, who are we to judge?  I daresay that I don't know about you, but if I could quit my day job and make my family's future more comfortable by a two-second flash of a credit card during my TV show - all I can say is......WHERE DO I SIGN?  Give the man a break.  He is still as snarky and observant as ever, and is one of the least phony food personalities on the planet. Go Tony! Ok, off the soapbox and into the kitchen.  Look in the mirror, learn tolerance, be kind, and eat well my friends.