28 October 2008
“When, in disgrace with Fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in [good football teams],
Featur’d like him, like him with [winning records] possess’d,
Desiring this man’s [Longhorns], and that man’s [Titans],
With [scotch] I most enjoy contented at last.
Penn State 13, Ohio State 6
Texans 35, Bengals 6
This week’s football-related mood is: Drunken Resignation
22 October 2008
Dear Puff Pastry,
Oh, my sweet, flaky, buttery paramour; my luscious, savory lover; my delicious, rich suppliant – how I love you so. I remember that first day we met, my dear, when I accidentally picked you up instead of store-bought pizza dough. Initially disappointed, I quickly realized that you were so much better than the one-dimensional magmatic I had intended to buy. So many possibilities to explore, so much food to wrap you around, so much scotch to drink while waiting for you to bake, so many hooker parts to bury. Oh, how you opened up my mind to such culinary whimsy, my tasty inamorata! Hot dogs would never be the same. Nor would the sausage or kielbasa or pepperoni or red-hots or chorizo I swaddled in your velvet embrace. But sausages and my penis were only the beginning, mi amore! There were – and are – so many things left to put on top, into, and under your lipid-laden embrace. I look forward to eating you in conjunction with many foods, my love, and as soon as I can perfect my deep-fried puff pastry-wrapped macaroni and cheese and bacon balls, I expect that you and I will enjoy nothing less than culinary immortality.
The Chef’s Prerogative
I love food that’s topped or wrapped in other food, and I’m pretty sure you do, too. I mean, would anyone really eat onion soup if it wasn’t covered with a big crouton and a slab of cheese? And, sure, a stuffed burrito is delicious; but have you ever tried to pick one up without its tortilla wrapper? And, yes, Anne Hathaway is a beautiful woman, but don’t you think she’d look better with me draped all over her supple body? Of course you don’t, you jealous bastards.
For example: I remember ordering a ham and cheese roll once, but rather than receiving a ham and cheese sandwich on a roll, as I was expecting, was given ham and cheese baked in a roll. Naturally, it tasted just like any other ham and cheese I’d ever had, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t love it exponentially more than any I’d eaten before it. Perhaps it’s my OCD nature that provides the basis of my inclination for loving nicely wrapped packages of food, all ready for orderly consumption. Perhaps it’s some psychological quirk suffered because my parents put me to sleep in a burlap sack from the ages of 4 to 15. Who knows? Anyway, my favorite wrapped food is, without a doubt, beef wellington. It’s no coincidence that beef wellington happens to be enveloped in my favorite wrapper of all – puff pastry. It’s also no coincidence that eating beef wellington is like having sex with Monica Bellucci – in your mouth.
Ah, filet de boeuf Wellington! Got a lot of time and money on your hands? Sick of not being frustrated by things? Have a hankering for wall punching? Well, then, boy do I have the dish for you! Don’t get me wrong, beef wellington is fucking delicious, but, let’s face it: it ain’t exactly “oh, I think I’ll make that for dinner, tonight” fare. Instead, it’s more “fuck this motherfucking goddamn beef Wellington – let’s order pizza” fare. Hopefully, my simple guide will provide you with ample information to perfect this somewhat anachronistic feast. But if not, please don’t get mad at me. Rather, just sit back, relax, and look at all that kooze up there!
Fucking pate de foie gras
Mushrooms (finely chopped)
Onion (finely chopped)
You’re not going to belive this, but: bone marrow
This dish is fucking obnoxious, and I love that about it. Roast the beef until the internal temperature is about 120 degrees (in terms of temperature, not of geometric angle.) In a pan, saute the mushrooms and onions in butter, and season with salt, pepper, and thyme. I’m pretty sure this is a duxelle, but who the fuck knows. Anyway, place the beef on top of the puff pastry that I forgot to tell you to roll out. Take out that luscious pate de foie gras and resist the urge to go eat it in front of a bunch of homeless people – instead, and I’m not making this up, slather it on the beef. See: obnoxious, right? Top that with your duxelle and transfer to the middle of the rolled-out pastry. I don’t care how you do it, just make sure that your beef wellington is totally covered with fungi and fatty duck liver. Roll the sides of the pastry around the beef, and seal with egg wash. Put the whole beautiful abomination – seam side down – on a baking sheet, then put that thing in the fridge for two hours to cool down and think about what it’s done. I don’t know why this is necesary, but an old cookbook that smells like cigarettes and 1952 tells me that you should. Break your boeuf out of its arctic prison, paint it with more egg wash, and bake it at 400 for 25 minutes, then at 350 for 5 more.
Your beef is now done. But don’t get excited, homeboy, ’cause you’ve got bordelaise sauce to make. Good fucking luck. At this point, no one’s going to fault you if you quit while you’re ahead, but if you want to take a stab at the Full Beef Wellington Experience, you can do as follows… Soften shallots in butter. Add in some red wine and reduce. Add thyme and peppercorns and reduce. Add diced bone marrow. Add demi-glace and reduce. Okay, I just read how to make a demi-glace, and I can safely say: fuck that shit. If you’re half as exhausted making this shit as I am writing about it, just go see if they have bordelaise at Whole Foods. If not, that ubiquitous packaged brown gravy they make is pretty good – just get that. In any event, at least you have a delicious tenderloin of beef, slathered in duxelle and fucking foie gras, for chissakes, to keep you company. Pour a glass of wine and enjoy your liberty burrito, as we call it here in the good ole U.S. of A. But, just in case you’re still pissed about the whole bordelaise thing, here’s Carla to help assuage your anger…
10 October 2008
I had only been on the case for 24 hours – ever since the dame in the red dress came into my office and ruined my lunch – not to mention my life. I hadn’t seen her in years; she had been abiding by her promise to never speak to me again. Unfortunately it was another promise she couldn’t keep, just like our wedding vows. And, like a woman, she wasn’t stopping by just to say “hey.” She wanted a favor, naturally, and me and my fist hoped that it was a punch to the kisser. Instead, she reminded me that it was 2008, not 1943, and that domestic violence was against law. Also, she was pretty sure smoking in my office was illegal, as well, and that a blogging chef probably didn’t need a .38 laid out on his desk. I didn’t know what the broad was talking about, so I just nodded and played along – she was always nitpicking. “Enough with the chit-chat,” I said. “Lay it on me, babe, who done ya wrong and, more importantly, what do you want me to do about it?” It turned out that she had been burned by some punk. Burned bad. He had broken her heart, and if that wasn’t enough, had also disappeared with her TV, laptop, DVD player, and dog; he even managed to seduce her younger, prettier sister. She said she wanted justice, but I could see she had revenge on her mind – cold, unfeeling, anti-Semitic revenge. And, after all, they say it’s a dish best served by a scorned woman with a huge rack. This wasn’t a job for an out of control dame with great gams, though. This situation needed the steely logic and quick-triggered determination of a man and his gun. His huge, throbbing gun.
“So whaddya want, doll-face? You want me to track this bum down and beat some manners into him? You want I should whack him a couple’a times over the head with my black-jack? Would that make ya feel better? ‘Cause I could do that, sweetheart, but not because of our past, and not because we’ll never have a future, but because it’s my job. Because it’s what I do best – besides being trampled on by the fairer sex, that is.” She said she just wanted her stuff back and for her sister not to get caught up with some bum like she had, with me. The dame was getting aggitated and started yelling – how novel: an emotional woman. Needless to say, I didn’t like it. It felt like old times when I wanted to strangle her for recording over The Shield with reruns of The Hills. And those were the good days. “Listen, Hon, I’ll take your case and I’ll get your stuff back. Maybe even little sis will listen to reason, when I track ’em down. But if you don’t cool it, there’s going to be some other private dick knocking on my door in about a week, investigating the case of ‘annoying bitch goes missing, and she can’t even be found at the mall, spending her husband’s hard-earned dough on a billion pairs of shoes she don’t need,’ if you know what I mean.”
Unfortunately, the dame was just getting more and more emotional, and then, like a dame, she started crying. I knew how she felt – I was out of bourbon. Predictably, she said she’d call the cops to do the job, if I wasn’t going to help her out. “They can’t get results, sugar. They’re just going to give you the run-around, and maybe let you know in a week that they did all that they could, but that it wasn’t enough. The police have to abide by the rules,” I reasoned with her, “but I only have to answer to my conscience, and luckily I had that removed a long time ago. Same with my appendix, ’cause I kept throwing up, and they said that if they didn’t operate that I could die.” She gave me a funny look and put the phone away. Finally, I thought I was getting through to her – maybe for the first time in either of our lives. I was wrong, of course.
“LISTEN – JUST GIVE ME BACK MY SHIT, STOP CALLING CRAIG AND I IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, AND LEAVE MY SISTER ALONE, OR I REALLY WILL CALL THE COPS. OH, AND YOU CAN KEEP THE FUCKING DOG !!!”
Dames. Can’t live with ’em, can’t cheat on ’em with their skinnier sister. Either way, this was going to be a tough nut to crack, and I had suspects to track down if I was going to get to the bottom of the case. Luckily, I knew right where to start – you don’t swim with the sharks for as long as I have and not learn a thing or two about putting all your eggs before the horse. What?
Little Havana was a cesspool filled with vibrant colors, cheerful people, and lots and lots of beautiful women in bikinis. All the sun and fun made me rethink my pro-immigration stance, as well as my decision to wear a trench coat in mid-July. I stopped at a little joint that I knew would at least yield a good sandwich, if not a good lead. The medianoche was hot and delicious and made me forget about my troubles for the two minutes it took me to pack it in my angst-hole. I took note of the sandwich and it’s ingredients – that’s just how I was trained. It’s lucky I didn’t shoot it, because I’m also trained to do that (if you count watching Lethal Weapon over 125 times as “training.”) The Cuban bread merely hinted at sweet, and was filled with pork and ham, then topped with mustard, pickles, and Swiss cheese. The whole kit ‘n caboodle was then shoved in a press and grilled like it was a suspect that I had gotten alone in a room with no windows. The proprietor didn’t seem to know anything about a shady character who just scammed a naive girl dreaming of the big city, which is why I didn’t ask him about it. Also, I don’t speak Spanish. I was content to cool my heels on the bar stool, and cool my throat with an ice cold beer.
The eye-ties are known for their food, their chest hair, and their fiery tempers. But, then again, so am I. Except for the chest hair, because I’ve never been able to grow any. My therapist says that that’s why I compensate with a tough-guy attitude, guns, and an insatiable appetite for broads and their sisters. There was no time to think about that, though, because the waiter in front of me was playing hard ball and demanding an answer. I had no choice but to comply. “Muffuletta,” I said, “And two bottles of wine to wash it down with.” I didn’t know whether the sandwich needed the washing down, or, rather, my guilt at not being able to find my ex’s culprit. Thankfully, I didn’t have time to think about it, because the sandwich was quickly at my table. The big ciabatta loaf was cut in half and piled high with gardeniera and oil, cappacola, salami, prosciutto, mortadella, provolone cheese, and I’m pretty sure there was some chest hair in there, as well. It was delicious, and maybe it was the wine talking, but I had a hunch that the waiter was just a patsy in this whole crazy mess. I decided to let him go – I only hoped it wouldn’t come back to haunt me. And, just so there’s no unnecessary suspense: it didn’t.
The wine had taken its toll, and I fast realized that I had to get to my perp before my perp got to me. Unfortunately, I had stumbled into a dank, smelly dive bar, full of crisp white shirts and businessmen sipping martinis. “When in Rome”, I thought, as I sidled up to the zinc bar to blend in with the local populace, and also to get shit-faced. The pretty red-head next to me wasn’t talking, so I decided to change my tact and play “nice cop” with the leggy blond behind the bar. It worked, and she opened up like your mother’s legs after our last date. She answered all my questions, and I was able to deduce that the crazy language on the menu was something called “French.” I think I had heard of it once before, in conjunction with the words “surrender,” “pretentious asshole,” and “tickler.” All I know is that when my sandwich arrived, I was five martinis into the afternoon (six, if you count the one that got thrown in my face.) My croque madam would add some much needed heft to my starting-to-get-queasy stomach, and I was happy to make its acquaintance. Leave it to the French to gussy-up a ham and cheese sandwich by slathering on Dijon mustard, frying both sides, then broiling more cheese on top, all before the coup de grace of slapping on a runny-yolked egg. After my meal, I questioned some more patrons and wet my whistle with some more martinis. Somewhere along the line I must have hit upon a nerve, because the next thing I knew, two Vichy-loving thugs were giving me the bum’s rush out the door and onto the sidewalk. I was making progress and getting closer to my nameless suspect, and I hoped that he was getting scared. I knew I was.
Fried Egg Sandwich
This city may never sleep, but I sure as fuck do. That night, for instance, on a park bench, for use as a bum ATM. I headed for home as the tyrannical sun rose once more in the East, my pockets as empty as my soul. Luckily for me and my bad mood, the door to my apartment was open, so there was no need for the key I no longer had. Apparently, whoever had been in my place the night before had been kind enough to leave it ajar for me as they got away with my DVD player, laptop, and TV. The dog, sous-chef Bruno, was still there, though, and had made a valiant effort to ward off the intruders by peeing on the rug. This wasn’t my first rodeo, so I knew exactly who the perp had been – after all, she had just hired me the day before. The old double-cross: send the dupe out on a wild goose chase so you and your spikey-haired boyfriend can break in and get away with the loot. Leave it to a dame to be so duplicitous. With the case closed, I headed to the kitchen and decided to reward my gullibility with a fried egg sandwich – my favorite. “Another happy customer,” I said to Bruno, as I piled the egg, a slice of heirloom tomato, some bacon, and a slice of sharp cheddar cheese on top of thick, white bread, toasted to perfection, “But we have other cases that need our attention. Like that dame who thinks that the creepy guy she went out with that one time is using her apartment while she’s out of town on business all month.” Sous-chef Bruno looked nervous.
5 October 2008
Several months ago, my mother called to let me know that the daughter of one of her friends would be visiting my city, and wondered whether I would mind showing her around, or, in the alternative, if I would mind not receiving my monthly trust fund check. I chose the former option, mostly because I have yacht upkeep and a raging meth addiction to think about (responsibilities, and all that…) My exasperation at the thought of playing tour guide was quickly assuaged, however, when my mystery tourist was revealed to be a twenty-one year old professional dancer, stopping over in my fair town before a one-month engagement on a cruise ship. Having supported several twenty-one year old professional dancers in the past, mostly through numerous tips submitted to their crotch-banks, I naturally assumed that my one-day excursion through the city with this particular dancer would end as my other dancer-related dalliances had – only this time the “VIP Room” would be my apartment, and the “private dance” would consist of me seducing her with a special interpretive number I put together to go with Sophie B. Hawkins’ “As I Lay Me Down to Sleep.”
Unfortunately, my expectations where crushed upon my arrival at her apartment, as she and four other ladies she had invited to come along, piled into my car. While the prospect of five nubile females may sound provocative and exciting, I knew exactly what was going to happen, and it wasn’t going to be pretty (or hand-jobby). Baby-sitting only one girl would mean flirty conversation, maybe a boozy lunch, and me inevitably helping her get out of her panties, with my teeth. Five girls, however, means the inevitable shopping excursion, with The Chef’s Prerogative as chauffeur. Indeed, the day quickly turned into one of dressing rooms, salesmen, cell phone chats with boyfriends, and attempted suicide via Juicy Couture hangers. At our twelfth stop of the day – ostensibly for “a shirt,” but which quickly escalated to “well, if you buy the top, maybe you should get those pants and new shoes to match . . . Which belt makes me look tanner?” – my masculinity metaphorically kicked me in the nuts and informed me that a break was in order. Thus, I snuck out and headed to the nearest bar, which, serendipitously, was nestled in an unpretentious yet copiously marbled Italian restaurant.
It turned out that this place was about as authentic as you can get, outside of an Olive Garden, of course, and the entire staff were from the old country. I quickly ingratiated myself to them by reciting all the Italian lyrics to “On an Evening in Roma” by Dean Martin, and was welcomed with open arms and an even opener tab. As time was of the essence, I quickly availed myself of three deeply-poured scotches, and chatted with the raven-haired bartender, who was eating her pre dinner-rush dinner of osso bucco. Being that I am of a devastatingly charming nature, she offered me a bite – an offer I not only took advantage of, but also assumed was her way of telling me that she wanted to bone. Lemme tell you a little somethin’ about this here osso bucco: it was maybe one of the most delicious things I’ve ever put in my mouth, and, no, there aren’t any jokes forthcoming about other, more salacious, things I’ve put in my mouth (especially not about your mother’s rack). I immediately demanded to have the recipe, knowing that my estrogen-laden charges would soon come calling. She complied as best she could (also, in a totally predictable move, giving me her number), and no sooner was I in possession of this wondrous treasure map of flavor than the she-harpies returned to not only inform me of their purchases, but also of their need to, like, totally go to the yoga-outfit store (and if, like me, you assumed such a place couldn’t possibly exist – guess the fuck again). My suggestion that we go somewhere so that they could try on lingerie and have a pillow fight went unacknowledged. And, while the rest of the day was as mind-numbingly boring and vacuous as the first half had been, my spirits were lifted, knowing then that I had a new recipe to try when I got home and finished masturbating to Japanese tentacle porn.
Salt, pepper, olive oil, butter, garlic
San Marzano tomatoes
Probably some other stuff I can’t remember
Osso Bucco is so easy to make, a chimpanzee with Downs syndrome could do it. No pressure, but this means that if you fuck it up, it’s probably not only because you’re a bad cook, but also because you’re developmentally handicapped. This is a slow cooking meal, but don’t think I won’t chastise you if you use a slow cooker; that shit is for lazy people and hack Food Network cooks that they relegate to weekday, day-time-hour shows.
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large dutch oven while rocking the fuck out to some Iron Maiden. Coat the veal shanks with flour, shake off the excess, brown both sides in the pot, and remove to your specialty Sur La Table veal resting plate. Turn down the heat, add some oil, carrot, and onion, and saute with reckless, yet extraordinarily precise, abandon. Pour in the wine, reduce by half, and make sure all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan are incorporated. Add the tomatoes, stock, veal shanks and whatever else I wrote up there. Cover the pot and throw that bitch in the oven for a good two to two-and-a-half hours. Spend this time drinking several 40’s of Mickeys while pretending you’re still in college (basically, just sit around in your underwear, doing nothing, drinking several 40’s of Mickeys; make sure to take this time for granted, as well, for the full effect.)
Serve with a gremolata of garlic, parsley, lemon zest, and self-satisfaction. Finally, feel grateful that you got this recipe from me, rather than an Italian bartender, cum succubus, who can’t take a hint after one date that NO, I DON’T WANT TO SEE YOU AGAIN – YOU KIND OF CREEP ME OUT AND, OH, HERE’S A HINT: STOP TALKING ABOUT HOW YOU USED TO CUT YOURSELF WHEN YOUR EX-BOYFRIEND WOULD CHEAT ON YOU!!! In unrelated news, “Cum Succubus” is going to be the new name of my band.