Saturday, November 28, 2009

Beeter the Next Day

No, that's not a typo. Oh, how it's not a typo.

After a mildly disappointing Thanksgiving rendered my culinary faculties too tuckered out to produce anything worth talking about, I came home today (to do the laundry, mostly) and had to figure out what to make for dinner.

UPDATE: I'm still on my "foodie" diet. I log my calories every day on's The Daily Plate website and have to watch my fat intake like a hawk watches a bunny traipsing innocuously below. Or something. Take that into account when you're reading this.

Pretty much all the protein in the house was frozen, so that was out. No tilapia, no chicken, no turkey (GOD, NO) and no ground beef. I scored some lovely beets, though, from my favorite produce purveyor, Clemons Produce on Curry Ford Rd in Orlando. While there, also stocked up on new crop of BEAUTIFUL McIntosh apples, my favorite winter Delicata squash and Bosc pears for dessert at some point this week.

So, I roasted the beets. I also had some lovely red navel oranges my mom gave me. Those are wintery and go so well with beets. Something creamy....YES...1 ounce of that gritty, amazing cave-aged Roquefort (below, second from the left, next to that oozy Brie de Paris).

My thoughts at this point: Hm. Oranges, beets and cheese do not a salad make. Also, thank God my sweet Cliff isn't here. He'd "where's the meat" me all the way to Kingdom Come. Back to the salad - I need something bind it all together. By the way, I don't usually use these plastic cutting boards - but for beets, they're pretty much the best choice if you don't want your bamboo board stained purple.

Sage browned butter it is. A tsp of butter in a non stick pan on high heat for a few seconds and dump a bunch of chopped sage in. DELICIOUS! SEASONAL! NUTTY! SANS NUTS!

Okay, I know I'm not supposed to have butter, technically - but it was such a tiny amount and I had only had 6 grams of the stuff earlier in the day - so butter was totally admissible in my book. Besides, what else was I supposed to use...Smart Balance? To me, I'd rather have churned cream any day over processed oils - no matter how much of a 'smart' choice they may be.

I've had a roll of polenta in my fridge for a few months now (don't worry - unopened it won't go bad), so I sliced a few pieces off and sauteed them in the pan with the sage butter.

Holy awesome.

I put it all together and had a raspberry-hued glass of the 2009 Beaujolais Nouveau* I didn't get to drink at our Mormonized Thanksgiving. Oh man, this was true winter heaven.

Eat it, summer. You're OVER.

*Wine Note: This year's Beaujolais Nouveau is very, very good and opens up nicely AFTER DECANTING. You need a decanter. I like this one.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving of Convenience

It’s impossible for me to undergo an ordeal as epic as Thanksgiving without writing something about it. Most gourmands plan for weeks their Thanksgiving meal. Most are expected to cook for large numbers of people and most take their game plan unbelievably seriously, as if the exclamations of “Oh my God, this turkey is amazing!” are directed at them, not at the Almighty.

Usually, I’m one of these people. When I lived in Chicago as a young culinary student, I invited my parents and brother to Thanksgiving with a seven-course feast mapped out. I had intricate grocery lists planned, a carte of what items would be found in which aisles. I had a game plan. Nevermind that I spent the day stressing in the kitchen, as most cooks do, nipping into the bottom cabinet for the handle of cheap Popov vodka to add to my innocuous orange juice.

Last year, I cooked for my in-laws – my boyfriend, his parents and his brother – voracious and picky eaters who rarely step outside their Peruvian arroz chaufa and anticuchos for some traditional holiday fare. That's me in the photo below, with my mom-in-law, Carmen, behind me, sizing up our collection of dry spices. At the time, I was working as an intern at Cooking Light, constantly surrounded by recipes and impulsively picking the ones I knew were popular among staffers and readers alike. The meal was zeitgeist; an event to be remembered for years.

This year, a combination of settling into a new job and being completely worn out by dieting and worrying about my waistline rendered our holiday feast an unimaginative gathering of convenient food. I’d had planned, of course, to sit down with my sea of past holiday Gourmet issues (god rest it) around me and plan a beautiful meal – a pumpkin flan to end the evening would be the crowned jewel.

It didn’t happen that way. Being exhausted at the end of the day, the last thing I wanted to do was haul out my magazines and then have to clean them all up a few hours later, or watch as they scattered further and further from their point of origin as the days past and they still lay fallow.

Instead of the challah I’d planned to make, I chose Sister Schubert’s yeast rolls – frozen, my God. I hacked open acorn squashes and put them under the broiler for a virtually work-free side. My dad made the sad dressing (not enough moisture, too much salt). My mom, never a baker, made a too-dark pumpkin pie (forget the flan) and a pile of mashed potatoes spiked with canned black pepper that stuck between our teeth. The only real work I did this year was the brining of the turkey breast – which was a brilliant move – and streuseled sweet potato casserole. A total of maybe two hours. Maybe.

It all went well – well enough, I suppose – to be called a Thanksgiving. The apathy was palpable. Next year – I can only hope for next year – we’ll all be together, and I can care more. I’ll even make a pumpkin flan.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

T for Totally Disgusted

Apparently, this is how I feel about Japanese Steakhouses.

I have no clue why I'm making this face. It looks like I just found a turd on my plate. That didn't happen, btw.

In other news, I was totally underwhelmed by dinner at Benihana at the Disney Hilton. Go to one of the Kobe locations instead.

Thanks, Ms. Rochelle, for capturing this priceless moment on your iPhone. I didn't even know my face moved that way.

This newsbrief brought to you by the letter "T," which actually stood for "Tupperware." :)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Ode to the Pig

My life-long friend Rachelle (whose beautiful daughter is the princess you see below)tipped me off to this page she ran across in Departures magazine, the travelers mag brought to us by American Express. It's a great ode to the pig, a fabulous animal.

I will say, though, that I have grown more socially-conscious about where my food comes from after having read the book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. So I try to buy pork as often as possible from places I know treat their animals well. Pigs are smarter than dogs, and I wouldn't want to eat a dog who'd been beaten before death. Would you? I'd prefer a more humanely killed pig - one who was perhaps listening to Mozart before the final blow.

Regardless. I love pork. Eating it. Here's the page. It's awesome.

I realize you can't see the writing too well (click on the image to read the copy), but LOOK AT THAT CHARCUTERIE!!! I love paté. It's probably one of the most misunderstood foods. But wow, is it good. Also cured pork sausages, prosciutto - what's not to love in a pig?

Thanks, Rachelle. I love you even though when you see the word "pig" you think of me.