Wednesday, February 27, 2008

so i've decided that my new favorite food-related program is Jamie at Home. the reason? because he cooks like i want to. he's a total slob while cooking and everything, including his mouth, is going a mile a minute. i love it. plus i love the fact that he can just go run around in his garden and yank up some leeks and run back into the kitchen while parading newly picked leeks all about. and his outdoor kitchen is something i envy.

i either forget his show is on or sleep through it (it comes on at 9:30 Eastern time on Saturdays; and i'm normally not a late sleeper but the past two Saturdays have been a wash), so i DVR the thing. Last weekend i watched his "Egg" show and oh. i need to do a YouTube search to see if someone managed to save the part where he describes making pasta. i deleted it or i would totally have plastered it all over this page. it was a riot. what i liked best was his no-nonsense approach to pasta. no kneading forever, no letting sit for an hour to relax. just blitz it together in the food processor, a bit of hand kneading, then straight into the rollers. that alone had me making pasta within 13 minutes of watching the show, and again the next night.

fresh pasta - if you haven't made it, you really ought to. you don't know what you're missing. i've waxed poetic on it before. it really is joyous. and if, like me, you get total satisfaction out of smooshing something large and blooply through a steamroller type thing, if it lets out your inner teen angst, if it helps get out your aggression if you can't make it to the gym, well. we ought to be soul mates.

i was fortunate to receive the kitchen aid pasta attachment as a wedding gift from a second cousin i've seen maybe twice in the past 20 years, and the reason she gifted me so well is because we bought her an All-Clad roasting pan for her wedding (hey. we were loaded at the time, i guess). if you don't have the kitchen aid attachment and you have good Google foo, you can get a hand crank roller thing for a fraction of the price (i've seen them for 20 dollars). alton brown described how to make it on one of his shows by using an ironing board and McGyvering his way through it, but in all honesty, who actually goes through and does this? it makes for good entertainment though.

the lousy thing about the publishers of Mr. Oliver's show and Food Network is that FN can only post recipes for two episodes at a time, no more. i haven't checked, but i think perhaps the Egg show recipes are down (who knows - i can't bear navigating the FN site, it's so damn slow). but i'll type up his tagliatelle process for you.

For four:

For the pasta:
4 large free-range or organic eggs
2 cups pasta flour, plus extra for dusting (i used 00)
Sea salt

(my note: one egg per person. so when i made it, i used two eggs and 1 cup of flour)

Crack the eggs into a food processor and add the flour. Whiz it up and listen for the sound changing to a rumble - this means the dough is coming together nicely. Turn the power off and test the consistency by pinching the dough. If it's a bit sticky add a little more flour and pulse again.

Tip the dough mixture onto a floured surface and shape it into a ball using your hands. Give it a little knead until smooth, then divide your dough into 4 equal parts. Start on the thickest setting of your pasta machine and run the first bit of dough through 4 or 5 times, moving the rollers closer together each time until the pasta is silky, smooth and about as thick as a CD. Flour your finished sheet generously, then fold it up and cut across into 1/2-inch strips. Gather all the slices together and toss them through your fingers, with a little flour, to open them up and make your pile of tagliatelle. Place to 1 side and repeat with the rest of the dough.

Then basically, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and keep an eye on it until it's cooked. Can take 1 to 2 or 3 minutes tops (keep checking it - depending on how thick you made your pasta, it may only take a minute). Dress yours however you want to dress it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

R.I.P. Rainwater

so the boy's at work yesterday, just finishing up the lunch rush, busy screwing around with about a hundred cases of chicken and a vat of veal demi that needed to be dealt with, when they all got pulled into an impromptu meeting to find out that their restaurant was officially closed, right then right there. clean up and go home.

so he went home and did what any good chef does when they've had a disappointment: he tipped back the bottle of whiskey. a couple of hours later when i turned the car into our driveway, i could hear U2 blaring through the windows of the house (and the windows were closed).

we're still not really sure what went down, why a seemingly successful really good restaurant with rich-as-shit owners just closes. he goes in at noon today to get the scoop.

i feel badly for my boy. and since i just went through this period myself not so long ago, i totally know how it feels; it's not something i wish anyone to go through. it feels like a break-up and there's nothing you can do about it.

but i really feel badly for the poor manager who had to call the bride whose wedding reception was to be held at the restaurant in two weeks. eeeeeeeeck.

and of course, the bride herself.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

kitchen renovation - a slow but steady progress

so a while back, i painted one wall in our kitchen a nice red. the other walls remained bare of paint until we figured out what color we wanted to paint them or got our act together, whichever came first.

one day while making coffee for one (when i make coffee for just me, i use either a one-cup french press or my moka express) and i was sitting there waiting for it to do it's thing and staring at the bowl of fruit on the kitchen island, when it suddenly hit me. i wanted the kitchen walls to be the color of these mangos. i took a picture to commemorate that moment and use as a reference.

then i called out to the boy, who was busy reading the innernets in the other room, "You know what?..." followed by a long pregnant pause, to which he replied, "Uh oh." because he knows me well enough to know when i am standing in a room being quiet and i announce, "You know what?" that somehow some physical labor will follow.

we eventually drove to our local home improvement store and looked at paint chips. we brought many of them home and taped them up to the walls to see which ones looked the best in both daylight and at night. we settled on a color called Iced Tea (even though it doesn't remotely look like iced tea). who sits around naming paint chips? do the Suits sit around in boardroom meetings deciding on what colors ought to be called? do they use a projector to make a color swatch full screen and then shout out what they think the color should be? whoever Suit decided that particular yellow ought to be called Iced Tea is on some serious drugs. i'd call it Buttercup or something, but I guess that's too common. they were going for some oomph i suppose. the boy decided that the Martha Stewart paint collection has the best paint names. i wonder how much involvment ol' Martha has with the naming convention of her paints, or if she pays someone to do that for her? they all sound so charming. Pebble Path and Shimmering Pond and Alpine Top. makes me want to go on vacation. sigh.

so anyways, we painted, and then we installed the pot rack that Mrs B graciously donated to our cause.

okay, so the potrack is up too high, so i need to get some lengths of chain this weekend and lower it a bit; however, i kind of like it up pretty high as it gives some vertical length to the room that we didnt notice it had before. the painting above the knives is a whimsical poppy study sent to us from my aunt and uncle who own an art gallery. they sent us this about two weeks ago as a belated christmas present, and when i opened the package, i couldnt really tell if i liked it or not. it's very girly, in a way; but the boy said he liked it and wouldnt you know that it has all the colors of our kitchen incorporated into the painting. like, how did my aunt and uncle know? so up it went and now i like the painting, as it is appropriately placed beside the back door and i can only imagine the wind coming through and blowing the poppies until they are bent over.

this is what the wall looked like before hanging up the potrack.

and previous to that is the picture the boy took when we were doing the home inspection prior to buying.

the kitchen is not perfect yet, but it will be. i still have one wall to paint (not shown) that i wanted to paint in the red, but after the yellow went up and we lived with it for a while, we decided that one wall had to be yellow. would be too much red going on.

i've got to get back to my lunch. the boy didn't get home until 2 am, but he brought me home a container of lobster bisque with added pieces of lobster in it. sucks to be me. thank you boy!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

thursday thoughts - playing catch-up with my life

i can't believe that it's already Valentine's Day. where has the time gone?

i mentioned last year that the boy and i don't celebrate Valentine's Day. we don't feel the need to shower each other with gifts (or, as the tv advertisments would like the American public to believe, that he should shower me with diamonds). and frankly, i'd totally kick his ass if he bought me anything lavish today. i'm glad we're not that kind of couple and that neither of us are high maintenance.

but that doesn't mean that we don't appreciate it if we happen to get each other something On This Day. one year, he bought me a peace lily; and i still have it, dragged it with me from Maryland. which reminds me that it needs repotting.

i had good intentions last night. i made the barefoot contessa's outrageous brownies to bring to work today. the changes i make to her recipe: i use pecans instead of walnuts, and i substitute milk chocolate chips for the semi-sweet to be melted in the batter (and keeping the semi-sweet to be mixed in later). i made these at the same time as i was roasting a chicken. i haven't seen the boy much lately, as his work hours have been nutty, and i wanted to make sure he was eating healthily, so i roasted a chicken for us to pick at over the next few days. my dinner last night was a sandwich made from a hunk of store-bought baguette sliced in half and topped with still warm roasted chicken. no mayo or other condiment; it didn't need it as the chicken juices were running all over the bread anyway. a very satisfying dinner. i ate this while watching Le Divorce, which always makes me long for France.

funny that on the eve of Valentine's Day i was watching a movie whose central plotline revolves around a pending divorce. but i totally dig this movie.

i also caught up on some much needed phone conversations with my sister-in-law; and after i hung up the phone i realized i had no energy left at all. i wanted to cut the brownies and box them up, and i started to do that, but lost total interest in it. i think with all this hard work and longer hours i've been putting in lately at New Big Corporate that i'm just beat these days. i can barely keep my eyes open past 7:30 pm. how lame is that? so i wrapped some tin foil around the brownies and told the boy to bring them into his work today. and now after reading Dorie Greenspan's lovely post, i'm kicking myself for not cutting the brownies up into different shapes. i've got all kinds of cookie cutters. my vivid imagination was not working last night.

speaking of New Big Corporate, boy have things changed around here in the past two weeks. i've got a new boss; they brought in the Big Guns after our little "mishap" a couple of weeks ago, and lemme tell you right now what a difference it makes to work for someone i totally respect. i love my new boss. i think he's fantastic, even though he is demanding of me. it's worth it because (i can't believe i'm about to write this) i'm starting to like my job and the people i work with. you know you must like your job when you willingly come in at 6:30 am one day and don't leave until late in the afternoon and you don't mind that you skipped lunch.

last week i was watching the F word on BBC America, and Chef Ramsay was trying to teach some british chick how to cook. apparently, this british woman had absolutely no success with cooking; one of the few times she had cooked, she ended up sending one of her friends to the hospital after feeding her undercooked chicken. so here is Ramsay with this woman standing in her wonderful kitchen, in front of this brand spankin' new looking fantastic multi-burner stove that i would kill for. it made me think about how many people i know who have all the best and most expensive equipment in their kitchen, yet can't boil an egg (and most times, don't even want to). an old family acquaintance (who, incidentally, was married on Valentine's Day - the same friend i successfully deterred my mom from visiting on Christmas this past year) has the most fantastic kitchen ever. Sub Zero fridge and a Viking mutli-burner stove top and all kinds of stuff i'd give my eyeteeth for. when my mom (who is in the middle of remodeling her kitchen - or at least thinking about it) asked said friend why she chose that particular refrigerator over the others, really trying to get her expert opinion as to its merits, the friend shrugged her shoulders and said, "It keeps food cold, i guess". it's people like this who make me roll my eyes. but then, i shouldn't really complain, because it's people like that who keep restaurants full and my boy employed.

i won't see the boy until tomorrow night, and i've made us reservations at Taurus. normally we prefer to go someplace closer to home in case we decide to imbibe a bit, but we haven't been to Taurus together in a long while (i went once for lunch when i still worked at Old Big Corporate, as it was just down the street; and another time for Girls Night Out when we were all behaving like degenerate debutates let loose without chaperones for the night). i do like Taurus, and the view is pretty nice. it also doesn't hurt that it's right above the Viking store, which is a place the boy and i love with all of our hearts.

i hope you all have a good day, and hope that you don't get sucked into the Hallmarky-ness of it all and just appreciate each other for who you are.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

i need a glass of champagne

i'd recently mentioned in my falafel post that when i get a craving for something, i make a ton of it and eat it for lunch every day until i get sick of it.

having said that, let me tell you that right now, i don't want to see lentils or lasagne for a good long while.

over the past weekend, i made a vat of stewed lentils for lunches this week. i also made an enormous lasagne for sunday night dinner, which fed the boy and i for three dinners, two lunches for me, a couple of lunches for the boy, with three portions left (two went into the freezer for a later date).

today was a very Special Day at New Big Corporate. we had a minor incident, and upon walking through the door at 7:40 am i was kidnapped into a meeting where i sat confused for a half hour (this was pre-coffee) and then kindly goaded to help clean up the mess. i actually really like it when things like this happen, because i work tremendously well under pressure and tend to move mountains like crazy; whereas most of the time when i'm not busy, i sit around in a procrastination daze. maybe i'm an adrenaline junkie. some people get their kicks by bungee jumping off of bridges; i get told at 10:15 am that a Microsoft Project Plan is due by noon for said minor incident, i get it done, and feel totally invincible. i am God.

so today, after i let the adrenaline rush die down a bit, i realized that i was famished. i hadnt eaten a thing yet. i microwaved my lasagne and brought it back to my desk, and was totally sad about it. i half-heartedly ate it. i'm sick of it. it just seemed kind of a letdown to eat 5-day old lasagne after saving the universe.

the thing is, my lasagne is really good. but the recipe i follow, which is one of Tyler Florence's, literally makes enough to feed an army. and i never want to eat it again!

well, at least not for another 6 months.