"Those who forget the pasta are condemned to reheat it." ~Unknown

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Whole Family

Cy's birthday was yesterday, and we ate dinner at Ken's Artisan Pizza, which was recently named one of the ten best pizza places in the country.  When we finally sat down to eat the food was well worth the hour long lines, and we left stuffed to the brim.  We are still digesting today, because Mom has yet to go after the baskets of chocolate the Easter Bunny left behind (no, not bunny chocolate).  Despite this Cy is cooking up a feast of epic proportions for Easter dinner.
     He'll be feeding seven of us, Memaw and Bamp are in town, and has planned a proportionately large size.  He's planned a spinach salad, deviled eggs, herb crusted rack of lamb, potatoes gratin, no-knead bread with a Spanish olive oil and lots of Easter chocolate for dessert.  Mom has made the deviled eggs, and put them in the deviled egg plate that looks like Mom stole it off the set of Mad Men.  The no-knead bread, which we have fallen in love with after we tried it during the Mark Bittman Sunday, has come out of the oven and a patch of sun in the sky has flitted from us.
     Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day, every single pale Portlander was out in the sun.  A number of us were sun-burned.  The warm weather tempted leaves and buds out of the trees and it felt like winter was over.  But it wasn't and today dawned gray and cloudy.

     Unlike many Sunday's, when we find ourselves eating an hour later than we had planned, we realized at a quarter to three that we were almost done cooking.  With all the dishes except the lamb rustled up, and the lamb recipe saying it would only take half an hour, we stopped cooking and went for a walk.  But now it's half past four and Dad and Cy are back in the kitchen.  Some sort of bread crumb concoction is being put together and a mixture of parsley Dijon mustard and a few herbs are getting mixed up to be the herb crust of the herb encrusted rack of lamb.  Having stacked the two racks against each other in the large pan usually only used for Thanksgiving dinner, Dad and Cy are, not so much rubbing as they are packing their herb "rub" on.  Memaw suggested doing it, "Like you were making a mud pie".
     The lamb is taking a little longer in the oven than the recipe predicted.  In the extra time we Skyped with our cousins in Louisville, who say that the Ohio River is past flood-stage.  They also told us that for the Triangle Art Festival next weekend they'll be selling three kinds of lemonade on their front lawn.  Last year they sold chocolate chip cookies and made more than a hundred dollars.  That year they donated they money to the Olmsted Foundation.  The Olmsted brothers are known for designing Central Park in New York City, Cherokee Park in Louisville and the Park Blocks here in Portland.  Their foundation now helps cities with upkeep of parks.
     The lamb is out of the oven and the potatoes gratin are in.  We eat in a few seconds.
     The lamb was excellent, it was The crust was amazing as well, though I found the crust on it's own a little overpowering.  The spinach salad was good, the walnuts added a little crunch and the orange gave a citrus kick all their own.  The potatoes gratin, well, they don't need describing, if you've ever had any sort of potatoes anna, (with or without thumb), potatoes gratin, or another creamy, fatty potato dish; you know what I'm talking about.  For dessert the seven of us ate a bar of chile chocolate.  While it tasted like chocolate at first, once you had swallowed your throat burned.  My throat still is.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Happy Birthday Mimi!

      The kid came home from college for winter break.  He's the very first member of his family to attend college, and his dad thinks it might be a waste of money.  The dad asks, "Son, what are they teachin' you at that school?"   "Well," the son answers, "they taught me that πr²"
     Outraged at the waste of his hard earned money, the dad exclaims, "Everybody knows pie are round!"

     If you didn't know πr² is pronounced "pi are square" and is the formula for the area of a circle (r stands for the radius of the circle).  Archimedes gave the first estimate of pi (which is an irrational number, it has no end).  The Ancient Egyptians approximated it as 3.1605, the Babylonians used 3.125 and pi appeared in the Bible as simply 3.  In Japan mathematicians came up with the number .785 which when multiplied by the diameter of the circle squared resulted in the area of the circle.  Pi today is approximated at 3.14, and the world record for digits of pi memorized is 67,890.
     Since pies are round and pis r², I decided to make a square pie for dessert.  Since tomorrow is Mimi's birthday, I asked her what she would like and we settled on Sloppy Joe's for the main course, with a side of greens from our garden.

     The Sloppy Joe's are simmering on the stove, in all their ketchup, brown sugar, onion glory.  Not to mention the good smell.  Dad is putting on the bacon that's the prerequisite for the greens.  Mmm.  Bacon.

     The Sloppy Joe's were excellent. They had that rare feeling of food that is truly American.  Ground beef, mixed with Mongolian fish/tomato sauce (yes, that's ketchup), Worcestershire sauce, paprika, mustard, and onions.  Like America, a melting pot of flavors, ideas, and tastes.  The greens were good as well, though they were cooked in bacon fat, anything tastes good in bacon fat.  The pie was also good. The crust was crunchy and buttery, the filling was creamy and the blueberry's were full and juicy despite being frozen (though at one point they were fresh Dad pointed out).  Happy Birthday Mimi!

Sunday, April 10, 2011


     Cy was hoping to start grilling season this week but it just won't happen yet.  On Saturday a headline in the Metro section of the Oregonian (our "local" newspaper) read "The Big Bright Ball In The Sky Will Go Away".  Sadly, their meteorologist was right, and today dawned cloudy.
     The recipe Cy chose has to cook for more than three hours but only needs forty five minutes of work.  Right now the short ribs are simmering away in a broth of reduced red wine and shallots.

     Cy is now adding onions, tomatoes and potatoes to the meat.  Thing is Dad got the wrong kind of tomatoes.  Luckily, Dad knows that the right kind of tomatoes are much less juicy than the ones he got (it's his job) and Cy is juicing tomatoes over the sink while Dad slices onion and adds the tomatoes to the pot.  In addition to the fragrance of meat and red wine, the other two working burners on our stove are occupied with potatoes (to be mashed) and onions, garlic and greens.  The meat is almost done with it's three hour simmer, and everything else is ready for consumption.  Just a few minutes until we eat.

     The short-ribs were amazing.  As we were about to dig in, I saw a dog hair floating across the table on an unseen current of air.  As it neared my plate it began to drop and landed on top of my short rib.  The chunk of meat was promptly split into two halves.  Sally must be shedding.  The sauce and veggies were excellent, though they were a little salty.  The mashed potatoes were excellent as well.  They were imparted a light yellow from the cheddar mashed into them and didn't need additional butter.  If mashed potatoes had pores, butter would have been oozing from them.  The greens too, were a success, I hear, though my tongue was quickly insensitized.  Dad went a little overboard while adding the sri-racha.  Dad is making crepes for desert.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I Think It Might Be Spring

I Think It Might Be Spring
     Along the western wall of our kitchen is where we keep, among other things our cookbooks.  Among them are Pig, both of the Gourmet cookbooks, How To Cook Meat, and a file folder stuffed with likely thousands of recipes ripped from newspapers and magazines.  Looking through it for some sort of recipe to help with an idea for tonight I came across a bulgogi recipe that said it would take two minutes tops to cook the beef.
     The article accompanying the recipe I chose tells us that the bulgogi is best with a dipping sauce made from the ingredients of the marinade, Instead of rebuilding the sauce I convinced Dad we should simply boil the marinade to remove the meat juices.  The rice is on the stove, a veggie plate has been built, and now we wait for the beef to be done marinating.
     This is such a ridiculously simple recipe that there isn't much worth mentioning.  Bulgogi is a Korean dish that is believed to have originated somewhere between 1500 to 2000 years ago.  Bulgogi literally means "fire meat", which refers to its preparation, over an open flame (though it is often pan-cooked), as opposed to its spiciness.  Bulgogi is now used in burgers at some South Korean fast food chains, (I doubt there is an abundance of KFC in the North), which are said to taste like teriyaki burgers.
     The meat is sizzling away full blast now, we've had to cook it in three batches because of skillet size limitations, and you have to hurry to get each batch on.

     The bulgogi was excellent, salty, sweet. lightly onion-y, and snippets of garlic.  The butter lettuce provided a canvas for the flavor, and the moist carrots made it pungent and bright.  I would have liked to make the bulgogi on the grill, but we were apprehensive that it would fall through (much like our fears for Cy's grilled pizza a year ago).  Grilling season, and grilling recipes are are almost here though.  Today was certainly the right weather.