In an effort to keep your voracious appetite for my culinary musings satisfied, I’ve decided to start a new feature on this blog, cleverly titled “Amuse Boosh!“.  It features mini-diatribes which will be published in-between my usual long-ass diatribes.  You’re very welcome.  That’ll be ten bucks.

For Puritans, the Pilgrims were sexy as hell.

Little known fact: although Puritan in religious belief, The Pilgrims were sexy as hell.

As cavalier as I am about so many things (crime scene clean-up, lying on my resume, being a royalist supporter of King Charles I during the English Civil War), there is one arena in life in which I am steadfastly fastidious.  When it comes to cleanliness while cooking poultry, I conduct my culinary processes like a epidemiologist at the WHO.  This is mostly due to my crippling and relentless fear of contracting salmonella, which, as we already know, makes your insides melt and your genitalia spontaneously combust.  In general, I view raw poultry like Dustin Hoffman viewed those African Ebola sufferers in the movie Outbreak.  I don’t know where this paralyzing fear of poultry comes from, but it probably has something to do with the fact that I was once attacked by a flock of birds, narrowly escaping just in time to save my girlfriend, Tippi Hedren.

It is with this trepidation and white-hot fear that I approach my Thanksgiving preparation.  This year’s turkey, “Betty,” is currently in the fridge, hopefully benefiting from a dry brine.  Forgetting, for a moment, the fact that brines are inherently wet, I’m hoping that the application of a nice miasma of kosher salt kick-starts the osmosis process, or whatever the fuck, and will eventually bring about a moist, tender bird, without a hint of gut-rending enterobacteria.

On a related note: what asshole decided turkey should be the traditional thanksgiving meal?  The pilgrims had fucking lobster, you know; we couldn’t have done that?  Societal norms couldn’t dictate a nice surf & turf?  Trust me, I’d be much happier giving thanks with a nice steak that took ten minutes to cook and didn’t dry out to the consistency of balsa wood.  Anyway, here’s to hoping Betty – and all our departed sacrificial turkeys – turn out juicy, delicious, and with a generous side of tons of scotch.

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The Awful Truth

16 October 2009

The best part is that while your dough is in the oven, you have time to watch an episode of Sex and the City!  I'm a "Samantha!"  Who want's cooooosmoooossss?

The BEST part is that while your dish is in the oven, you have time to watch an episode of Sex and the City! I'm totally a "Samantha!" Who want's cosmoooos?

I have a terrible and earth-shattering confession to make.  Worse than the disclosure that Letterman has been nailing interns (and, fingers crossed, Rupert); worse than when I involuntarily stabbed at the “scan” button on my friend’s radio when a Katy Perry song came on, thus outing me as a fan of her irresistible, pop-laden hooks; worse, even, than when I told an ex-girlfriend that I slept with her mother.  And even worse than when I told that same ex-girlfriend that after I slept with her mother, I murdered her and framed the father for it.  Man, I’m kind of a fucking scumbag.  Perhaps made more so by the fact that I now…  have begun to enjoy . . . baking.  Oh, God, it wasn’t real to me until I wrote it out.  I feel sick.  Fucking baking.  Apparently, I’m a sixty year old woman – and also, somehow, a huge homo.  Great, now I’ve got to start giving blow jobs.  Oh, well, “silver lining,” and all that.  After attempting to make bread, last year, and finding it more difficult that sitting through an episode of Semi-Homemade without cutting myself, I threw my stand mixer at a hobo and retired my AP flower by portioning it in little baggies and selling ersatz eight-balls to unsuspecting middle-schoolers.  I was done, and it felt better than being amorously hugged by Danielle, down there.

25 cents is a damn good price, espescially when you account for inflation.  In my pants (you know, from my boner.)

25 cents is a damn good price for hugs, especially when you account for inflation. In my pants, that is (you know, from my boner.)

I was perfectly content with my pots and pans and direct heat and not having to let my ingredients take four rest periods before cooking them.  I loved the imprecise nature of the measurements, and the accompanying ability to improvise.  And nothing thrilled me more than the omnipresent danger of maybe, just maybe, giving someone the salmonella.  But then, like the beginning of so many a troublesome adventure, I got a hankerin’ for some soft pretzels.  Being of an aggressively lazy nature, I nixed the idea of going to the mall to pick up some Wetzel’s, and that Super Pretzel bullshit they sell in the supermarket is, well, bullshit.  So I went off to the trusty internet to get a recipe, and ten minutes later I was still masturbating to sapphic erotica.  Ten minutes after that, though, I was prepping my mise en place, measuring ingredients, and making my dough.  Half-way through the process, I started to feel something strange and disquieting, though not entirely unpleasant.  It was kind of like having sex with a, shall we delicately say “zaftig,” slut, and realizing “Sure she’s really big, but it’s still sex!”  I actually liked baking.  And, because it was yours truly doing the baking, those pretzels were fucking delicious.  From that day forward I was fiening like a junkie turning tricks in men’s rooms to get my next fix.  Bread, more pretzels, more bread – you name it – as long as it was either bread or pretzels, I was baking that shit.  And now, you’re going to be doing the same thing, you lucky bastard, you – Here are two of my favorite baked goods.

Soft Pretzels

Tattoo Guy knows that if there's one thing that will help you get over the crushing realization that you just ran over a puppy with your Kia, it's fresh-baked pretzels.

Tattoo Guy knows that if there's one thing that will help you get over the crushing realization that you just ran over a litter of puppies with your Kia, it's fresh-baked pretzels.

Why, oh why, do they not have more places to get soft pretzels?  Dominoes has bread bowls with pasta in them; Jack in the Box has nachos made out of tacos, for Christ’s sake; I can get sushi delivered to my house; and we can send guys to the moon; but I’ve gotta schlep my ass to Auntie Anne’s to get a fucking pretzel?  Fuck that noise.  If I’m going to the mall, it’s to pick up some chicks after their AP Chemistry class lets out, which is why I’m not allowed to go to the mall any more.  Fascists.  Oh, well, though, because making soft pretzels actually ain’t that hard, and the results are pretty close to those of the mall variety.  You’ll have to go to 7-11 to get some neon orange cheese sauce, but that’s a small price to pay.

There are a lot of recipes out there for good soft pretzels, and most of them follow the same general outline: bloom yeast in warm water, add salt, brown sugar, flower, and some type of fat, and mix until a smooth dough is formed.  Let rise for an hour, make pretzel shapes, boil briefly in water with baking soda, then bake.  As for the type of fat to use, I generally use an ass-load of melted butter, but that’s just because I’m awesome; you can also use eggs or milk (you know, if you’re all out of butter and all the grocery stores in your town are closed so you can’t buy more butter.)

Buttermilk Biscuits

I'm sure that by "Orange Juice" they meant "Giant Pitcher of Martinis," and by "Biscuits" they meant "Tons and Tons of Bacon."

I'm sure that by "Orange Juice" they meant "Giant Pitcher of Martinis," and by "Biscuits" they meant "Tons and Tons of Bacon."

As a kid, I was never really into biscuits (in large part because they weren’t Nintendo or BMX bikes or my dad’s old Playboys.)  It wasn’t until I started cooking, myself, that I realized that I hadn’t been a big fan of the biscuit because I had never really had good biscuits.  It’s no wonder, either, considering how difficult it is to make them so they turn out moist, tender, and flaky.  But fear not, you beautiful, vile sluts, because I’m here to help (along with a recipe I stole from Alton Brown.)  Two keys to keep in mind when making the dough – keep the fats very cold and, as France has taught us, over-working is never a good thing.  Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Into the dry ingredients, massage in shortening and butter until it looks kind of like crumbs, then pour in the buttermilk and mix until it just comes together.  Fold it a couple of times and pat out into a sheet about an inch thick, and cut into rounds.  Throw them bad boys into a 450-degree oven, and then start in on your breakfast.  Speaking of which…

Bonus Recipe!!!  Ham And Eggs With Biscuits and Red-Eye Gravy!!!

Pictured: a visual representation of the awesomeness of Bonus Recipes.

Pictured: a visual representation of the awesomeness of Bonus Recipes.

I couldn’t let you people get out of this post without writing about actual cooking, now could I.  Especially because I only know how to bake two things well, and that doesn’t necessarily make a good, in-depth post.  While your biscuits are in the oven and on their way to drying out because you left them in there too long, throw a ham steak in a large skillet with a little vegetable oil, and cook until brown and a little crispy.  Remove the ham and add a few tablespoons of coffee to the drippings in the pan, along with a touch of sugar, a little water, salt, and a lot of pepper.  Scrape up the ham bits and reduce.  Unlike other gravy, this is going to be very thin, but rest assured that it will pack a delicious punch.  Top the ham with a fried egg, add two buttered biscuits, and top with the gravy.

Now go grab your stand mixer, some flour, some yeast, slip into a sundress, put on some heels, and go bake yourself something!  As long as it’s not cake, because, as we all know, cake is gross.

Sad cat

If sad cat is anything like me, he cheered himself up with a Pasta Bowl from Domino's and a scotch bowl from The Glenlivet.

“Standing in that inexplicable darkness.  Where there was no sound anywhere save only the wind.  After a while he sat in the road.  He took off his hat and placed it on the tarmac before him and he bowed his head and held his face in his hands and wept.  He sat there for a long time and after a while the east did gray and after a while the right and godmade sun did rise, once again, for all and without distinction [except for football fans from Ohio, because ‘fuck them,’ apparently.]

Southern California 18, Ohio State 15
Broncos 12, Bengals 7

This week’s football-related mood is: Crestfallen

In an effort to keep your voracious appetite for my culinary musings satisfied, I’ve decided to start a new feature on this blog, cleverly titled “Amuse Boosh!“.  It features mini-diatribes which will be published in-between my usual long-ass diatribes.  You’re very welcome.  That’ll be ten bucks.

Food Network moved in when Rahm Emanuel moved to D.C.

Food Network moved in when Rahm Emanuel relocated to D.C.

As you are no doubt unaware, Food Network recently concluded its fifth season of The Next Food Network Star.  And I think I speak for all of us when I say: it’s about time!  America was clamoring for a new culinary master to adopt the mantle of “middling cook who makes food like every other housewife on the planet.”  Think of the things we’ll learn!  The myriad ways to make breaded chicken breast!  How to peel garlic by smashing it with the side of your knife!  How to make Kwanzaa Cake!  In case you never knew this show existed, let’s revisit the past winners and their invaluable contributions to The Network, shall we?

  • Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh.  According to Wikipedia, they still host a show called Party Line with the Hearty Boys, which no one has ever seen.  It airs right after The New Adventures of Old Christine.
  • Guy Fieri.  The poster boy for The Next Food Network Star.  He wears his sunglasses on the back of his head when indoors, and makes his signature cocktail with Axe Body Spray and a garnish of man rings.
  • Amy Finley.  Her show lasted six episodes.  For those of you keeping track, that’s five fewer episodes than the run of Cop Rock.
  • Aaron McCargo, Jr.  Hosts the show Big Daddy’s House when not winning James Beard Awards and assuming his executive chef duties at both Le Bernardin and The French Laundry.  Wears large hoop earrings, and makes Emmit Smith sound erudite.

Pretty stellar list, no?  I’m sorry, let me try that last sentence again: “Pretty stellar list?  No.”  Although, I guess that when you start out with a dozen-or-so contestants whose culinary points of view are some derivation of “I want to make gourmet food accessible,” regardless of the fact that they’ve never cooked gourmet food to begin with, you’re not exactly going to get the next Wylie Dufresne.

And, true to form, the Food Network decided to select yet another housewife to teach us invaluable skills which will allow us to make the same food ten other housewives on the Food Network are making, all in the hopes of getting us to never watch the Food Network again.  Melissa d’Arabian  emerged as the show’s victor, a few months ago, based on her show’s concept, which cast her in the role of the “Rescue Chef.”  Which would have been awesome, had it consisted of her covertly recovering hostages, rather than turning typical pantry ingredients into typical, boring meals.  An interesting thing happened on the way to inevitable first season cancellation, though: instead of Melissa’s original concept of helping out confused home cooks, Food Network was all, “Fuck this cooking shit – people hate to cook!  Let’s give ’em hints on how to cook as little as possible!,” and re-packaged the show as Ten Dollar Dinners.  I’m not sure if she cooks a dinner for ten bucks, or if she cooks ten dinners for a dollar, each, but either way, you can count me the fuck out.  I’m not saying you can’t cook something good for less than a ten-spot, but – and stop me if I’m repeating myself, here – the fact that a network ostensibly based on the glory and beauty of food is hamstringing someone’s ability to cook based on taste, rather than on time or pecuniary concerns, is kind of obscene.  Not “Sasha Grey” obscene, unfortunately, but obscene, nonetheless.

Ten Dollar Dinners: come for the carrots and embroidered tops, stay for the contrivance and banality.

Ten Dollar Dinners: come for the carrots and embroidered tops, stay for the contrivance and banality.

Merciful God Sez: "It's okay, my son; I know it's been difficult, but for the next five months, you don't have to talk to your family.  Don't come crying to me if the Steelers win the Super Bowl, again, though.  They answer to the other guy."

Merciful God Sez: "It's okay, my son; I know it's been difficult, but for the next five months, you can stop talking to your family and cultivating meaningful relationships. Don't come crying to me if the Steelers win the Super Bowl, again, though. They answer to the other guy."

Lo, and the Lord said unto the faithful, ‘The football is good, and thou shalt have it.’  But, unto his children he spake a caveat, ‘Ye, the football shall be watchethed, but only by he who eateth a bunch of wings and puncheth thine walls when his starting quarterback injureths himself and is lost for the majority of the season.”

I, for one, would like to take a moment to thank our Lord for the return of our most favorite of pastimes and drinking excuses.  In His honor, I will worship at the alter of my local bar, and genuflect by watching the heinous play of my wayward Bengals.  Also, I’ll drink a shit-load of bloody Marys.  For those of us who have looked forward to the first week of football, the excitement is almost too much to handle.  Last season, I was so excited that I was passed-out next to a dead hooker before half time.  In an effort to help you get the most out of the first time in seven months you’ve cared about something, I’ve decided to put together an itinerary.  Note: all times are PST; because games start at 10 a.m., we get to drink a lot earlier than all you Quakers, out there.

3:oo a.m. – Wake up.  Practice tantric masturbation for three hours to center yourself.  Orgasm pure energy.

6:00 a.m. – Make a pitcher of margaritas [FN 1].  Put on your “Get Pumped” mix CD to get pumped in a manner commensurate with the occasion.  Mine consists of fourteen straight tracks of “I Don’t Know Much (But I Know I Love You)” by Aaron Neville.  Drink the pitcher of margaritas.  Shit, while your at it, make a margarita pizza [FN 2].

7:30 a.m. – You’re going to want to warm up your rage muscles, because even though it’s the first week, you’re inevitably going to see something in their play which convinces you that your favorite team is going to have a shitty season.  Such as, “they’re from Detroit.”  I like to do ten minutes of yelling exercises, followed by three sets of wall punches.

8:30 a.m. – Make your lucky breakfast of two soft-boiled eggs with toasted, buttered, French bread soldiers [FN 3.]  Sure, this lucky breakfast hasn’t worked in terms of bringing you happiness during the football season, but – hey! – you’ve never gotten Ebola after eating it, so it must be doing something right.

Soft-Boiled Egg sez: "OH, MY GOD - WHAT'S IN MY HEAD?!?!  OH, NOOOO!  I CAN SEE MY BRAINS!!!  AVENGE ME!!!"

Soft-Boiled Egg sez: "OH, MY GOD - WHAT'S IN MY HEAD?!?! OH, NOOOO!!! I CAN SEE MY BRAINS!!! AVENGE ME, BACON, AVENGE ME!!!"

9:00 a.m. – Generally, this is the time of day when you’re going to start getting the shakes and hyperventilating, in anticipation of kick-off.  The best way to calm  these sensations?  You guessed it: drinking mescal and huffing model airplane glue.  Another way to calm yourself is to set a terrible towel on fire.  And a Steelers fan.

9:30 a.m. – bang hot chicks.

9:45 a.m. – [If you happen to be on the East Coast – or follow a team other than those that generally start their games at 1:00 EST – good for you!  You get to start drinking now, and will be able to get drunk, throw up, nap, and start drinking again, all before your particular kick-off.  Hooray, you! ]  Begin your pilgrimage to the sports bar (unless you have Dish Network, in which case, fuck you and your Sunday Ticket.)  I suggest leaving a trail of cigarettes, so you can find your way home after the game.

10:00 a.m. – Ohboyohboyohboyohboyohboyohboy. Order second bloody mary.

10:01 a.m. – Well, it’s official: the Bengals are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.  If you listen closely, you can hear Mike Brown being inept while counting his money and blindly piloting my favorite football team towards yet another unyielding maelstrom of suck.

10:02 a.m. – Order your third bloody Mary since getting to the bar.  Also order nachos.  And wings.  And artichoke dip.  And a breakfast burrito.

10:30 a.m. – I tend to be a pretty reticent football viewer while I’m at the bar, but I’m not averse to standard, perfunctory conversation every once in a while.  It’s important to know, however, that if you’re engaged in conversation with someone while the game’s going on, there’s a good chance you may be interrupted by the other person when someth- OH, MY GOD, HOW THE FUCK COULD YOU DROP THAT FUCKING PASS!  CATCH SOMETHING, YOU FUCKING MONGOLOID!!!

1:00 p.m. – Well, the morning game is over, and you have several options open to you: (1) you can stay at the bar and continue to try and woo that cute bartender (I think his name is Dave); (2) you can emerge from your cavern of iniquity, scratchy-throated and heartbroken, to voyage home and nap the nap of the valiant; or (3) if you’re a Steelers fan, you can, you know, eat babies, or whatever it is you sick fucks do.  I generally opt for the nap…

And remember, fellas: much like with strippers, the bartender will not fuck you.  Unless, of course, you tip a gracious 12% and do that sexy move where you like the hot wing sauce off of the front of your Phillip Rivers jersey.

And, remember, fellas: much like with strippers, the bartender will not fuck you. Unless, of course, you tip a gracious 12% and do that sexy move where you lick the spilled hot wing sauce directly off the front of your Phillip Rivers jersey.

1:30 p.m. – …But not before making a traditional post-game snack of chile con queso.  Melt shredded cheddar and Velveeta in a double boiler, then add in some cream, onion, peppers, and whatever else your shriveled, defeated heart can dream up.  Slow down your afternoon drinking by nursing 18 Modelo Negros.  Weep softly.  Nap.

5:00 p.m. – Tune in to Football Night in America to watch an hour and fifteen minutes of Brett Favre coverage.  Get out your punchin’ fist one more time.

9:00 p.m. – It’s been a long day, so you’re going to want to pack it in a little early.  Stake yourself out a nice, comfortable spot next to the toilet.  And, hey, no worries about work tomorrow, because when you call in sick, you won’t be lying.  Plus, it will give you all day to drink before Monday Night Football.  God, I love this sport [FN 4].

____________________________
FN 1.  As such: 1.5 parts good tequila, 1 part lime juice, 1/2 part Cointreau (or Triple Sec.)  Rim the glass (not in the sexy way) with salt, and pour over ice.
FN 2.  As such: Awww, you know how to do this, already, you chef, you.
FN 3.  As such: boil water, drop in the eggs, remove from the heat, then let steep for 7 minutes (for XL eggs, 5 or 6 for smaller ones.)  Remove eggs and run under cold water.  Cut off the tops and dip toasted matchstick-sized segments of french bread into that luscious volcano of cholesterol.
FN 4.  Apologies for the lack of culinary excellence in this post, as well as for it being so Bengals-centric.  Speaking of the Bengals, please be sure to take a moment to join the revolution.  If not for me, do it for Karen, here…

If she had rap-sheet and a bad attitude, we'd be looking at Mike Brown's new defensive end.  And, because it's obligatory at this point: "I'd defensive HER end."

If she had an arrest record, questionable work ethic, and bad attitude, we'd be looking at Mike Brown's new defensive end. And, because it's obligatory at this point: "I'd defensive HER end."

The Goodfellas cast are watching you masturbate.

The Goodfellas cast is watching you masturbate.

Dinner was always a big thing in the joint.  We had a pasta course and then meat or fish.  Paulie did the prep work.  He was doing a year for contempt and he had a system for doing garlic.  He used a razor and he sliced it so thin it used to liquefy in the pan with a little oil.  Vinnie was in charge of the tomato sauce.  I felt he put in too many onions, but it was a good sauce, anyway.  Johnny Dio did the meat.  He didn’t have a broiler, so we did everything in pans.  He smelled up the joint something awful, and the hacks used to die.  Everybody else in the joint was doing real time, all mixed together, living like pigs.”
-Ray Liotta, as Henry Hill, in Goodfellas

I cut myself slicing the garlic like how the bad man told me to, and now I have a owie.”
The Chef’s Prerogative, after cutting his finger with a razor blade

Perhaps it’s because I’m a de facto Italian, but the cooking of my make-believe homeland has always struck me as being about more than just food.  One can’t overlook the copious amounts of meats, cheeses, and pastas, naturally; but Italian food, to me, seems to be about something more than just what’s on the plate.  I’m not going to wax too rhapsodic about the communal and celebratory nature of Italian feasts, but let’s just say that Italian feasts offer a respite for the soul from the burdensome weight foisted upon it by a cruel and despotic reality, allowing it to blossom into its true and evanescent nature, nurtured by food, family, and friends, and imbuing in its very nature that which heaven and joy have imparted at their union in that most sacred and special of places, through no less than a repast fit for Gods, but befitting of we mere mortals.  Also, it tastes good.

When I have people over for a night of greaseball Italian fun, you can bet your sweet, mocha ass I’m putting out a plate of antipasti, I’m wearing my badass gold chain, and I’m sure as hell not skimping on the Chianti that I make make in my bathtub (it tastes like going blind!).  After the guests arrive, I usher everyone into the kitchen with me, to help out and to help themselves to whatever sous chef Bruno hasn’t eaten off the table.  “But is there Frank Sinatra on, TCP?”  Hooo, boy – not only is there Frank Sinatra on, but as an added attraction, I’m singing along to “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter” like I was at the fuckin’ Copa!  Shit, if you’re lucky enough to find yourself in my charming little apartment during Eye-tie dinner time, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s more than a little reminiscent of the Bacchanals in ancient Rome (mostly because everyone’s throwing up, afterwards.)  In other words, cooking a big Italian meal for friends and family is, perhaps, the best and most enjoyable use for a kitchen man has yet had the good fortune to devise.   Here’s how you can achieve such a raucous, wondrous night in your own home, right after you buy a fuckin’ cool track suit.

Primo – Antipasti

This guy's anti-pasti.  Get it?  Huh? What? Huh? Fuck you!

This guy's anti pasti. Get it? Huh? What? Huh? Fuck you!

Antipasti (Italian for “you can a-now commence-a the stuffing of-a you face”) is most commonly served as an appetizer platter of meats, olives, marinated vegetables, and Cheeses.  There are really no rules when it comes to preparing your platter, but keep in mind that your wife probably isn’t going to let you get away with describing the three pounds of sausage on your plate as “an appetizer.”  The key to a good antipasti plate, much like making your college seem more inclusive by photo-shopping a black dude and an Asian chick onto the cover of your admissions brochure, is diversity.  By “diversity,” I mean, of course, “an ass-load of prosciutto and half a shit-ton of cheese.”  The simple fact is that prosciutto, in my opinion, goes so far in its succulence as to push in on bacon’s territory (if only slightly) as king of the delicious pork applications.  If I ever learn that kids in Italy get prosciutto and cheese sandwiches packed in their school lunch bags, I’m going to be seriously pissed off.  Although, when I picture an Italian kid at recess, I see him smoking an imported Marlboro Red, drinking a glass of wine, and making kissing noises at the girls, so I guess it kind of fits.  Fits like a glove made out of stereotypes.

Primo – Pasta

The Chinese may have invented pasta, but the Italians were the ones to put pancetta and cheese in it.  Advantage: Italia.  How could you not think of that, China?!?!

The Chinese may have invented pasta, but the Italians were the ones to put pancetta and cheese in it. Advantage: Italia. How could you not think of that, China?!?!

Unlike that pasta bowl you just ordered from Domino’s, the pasta course in a traditional Italian meal probably won’t feature a ton of meat, seafood, or poultry (nor unlimited breadsticks, I’m being told.)  And, while you may view the pasta, itself, as a mere conveyance with which to get that cream sauce from the plate to your glutton-hole, Italians take pride in the intrinsic deliciousness of the noodle.  I try to make my pasta from scratch as often as possible, but with me being lazy and that shit being hard, I’m often wont to opt for the dried stuff, instead.  For the vast majority of home cooks, this is a better option than getting out your stand mixer, coating your entire kitchen with flour, watching the Reds’ season implode, and punching walls and pets when you realize that you did all that work for nothing (it’s kind of a metaphor for life, in that way.)  Because Italian feasts generally equal the caloric intake of an entire African nation – approximately 10,000 calories (sorry, Africa)  – I like to make the pasta course fairly light.  Make a simple sauce of crushed San Marzanos, garlic, bay leaf, oregano, thyme, parsley, and salt and pepper.  And, as always, kids, just put a little sauce in a pan and toss in the pasta with a little of the water.  Serve with bread you painstakingly bought at Ralph’s.

Secondo – Meat or Fish

The Fishes.  Luca Brasi Sleeps With Them.

The Fishes. Luca Brasi Sleeps With Them.

Now that you’ve already eaten a full dinner, it’s time for the main course!  Generally speaking, the main course in an Italian dinner is comprised of cigarettes and tight pants, but for our purposes we’ll focus on the more traditional option of meat or fish (or meat stuffed with fish, if you’re having dinner at John Madden’s house and actually think this joke is funny.)  Sausage, game, poultry, or even more prosciutto is great, and all, but I’m a big fan of roasting a whole fish for this course.  This is mostly due to the fact that it makes me look like an honest-to-goodness chef, but also because I like the idea of serving my guests something that features pin bones (because at least one of them, at some point, will spill wine on my floor, that’s why.)  The great thing about roasting a whole fish is that it’s easy and allows for lots of freedom in terms of seasoning, type of fish, and lying about how you caught the thing yourself.  Take a fish and place it in foil.  Add oil, a drizzle of white wine, salt and pepper, and lemon.  Stuff the cavity with herbs of your choosing, you sick bastard.  Make four slits half-way to the bone, cover with foil, making a large packet, and bake at 450 for 35 to 45 minutes.  Bangzo!  You’ve now got a nice, whole fish that you can serve family style.  And because we’re talking about Italian food, here, you have full license to make some inane and unfunny reference to “sleeping with the fishes,” just like I did up there, because we’re totally the only ones who thought of that.

Dolce – Conclusion

La Dolce Vita

This is Anita Ekberg, from Fellini's La Dolce Vita. She's from Sweden, a place that doesn't have any food, let alone Italian food, but I'm not going to let that insignificant fact preclude her inclusion in this post. I'm nothing if not a champion of diversity. And boobs.

By now you know that I don’t do desserts (unless they’re dressed provocatively and promise to leave afterward), so I’ll just use this section to wrap up the post.  Big, Italian dinners are a great way to get together with friends and family, and have them eat all your food and never thank you for cooking, even though you spent $150 at Whole Foods, and stood in front of the stove all day, which wasn’t all that comfortable, because it was hot last weekend, and I don’t have air conditioning, and, also, I think the cat I adopted is probably crazy and bites me when I try to pet her, which really doesn’t have anything to do with anything, but fuck it, I’m on a roll.

Oh, sure, she looks cute and all in her little basket, but I can assure you that, in reality, she's a hate machine built out of claws and fangs.

Oh, sure, she looks cute and all in her little basket, but I can assure you that, in reality, she's a hate machine built out of claws and fangs.

So, anyway, grab your friends and family, put some gel in that hair, talk with your hands, lose your temper because someone looked at you wrong, and make some Guido magic in your very own home.  And, remember, nothing goes better with Italian food than aggressively oggling pretty girls and telling them “Eh-oh, if you like dat sausage, hon, I got sumthin’ ovah heah you really gonna like,” while grabbing your crotch.  P.S. If that doesn’t get you laid, nothing will.  Mangiare!

In an effort to keep your voracious appetite for my culinary musings satisfied, I’ve decided to start a new feature on this blog, cleverly titled “Amuse Boosh!“.  It features mini-diatribes which will be published in-between my usual long-ass diatribes.  You’re very welcome.  That’ll be ten bucks.

This is Claire Robinson.  She's evil.

This is Claire Robinson, and she thinks you're an idiot. Apparently, given the fact that she has her own show, she's right.

I was thinking about writing about how to make a good consomme, but then I realized that that would be, like, totally hard, so I just said ‘Fuck it,’ and made some Kraft Mac & Cheese, instead.”
-Auguste Escoffier in Le Guide Culinaire

Oh, Food Network, I honestly thought I’d gotten out all my hatred for you with my last post on the subject.  It was a purging of all the hatred I had for you and your damn cheatin’ ways, and, frankly, it was cathartic.  Even when The Next Food Network Star came on, and you insisted on making the contestants tell me about themselves and their “culinary point-of-view,” I kept my cool and put it in perspective.  But then, Food Network, you invite Claire Robinson, your succubus of a paramour, into my home to assault my ear-holes.  Claire, for those of you readers who are blissfully ignorant of her marginal existence, has a show entitled “Five Ingredient Fix,” in which she, perhaps unsurprisingly, uses only five  ingredients to make her meals.  Why she does this – and more to the point, why Food Network thinks this is appropriate to put on the air – I have not a clue.  Jesus Christ, Food Network, it’s like I just forgave you for cheating on me with my best friend, but instead of walking the line and being a good partner, you go out and murder my parents.  No, Food Network, that’s a totally apt analogy.

You know, I’ve yet to see a Golf Digest article about how to play less holes of golf, or a Cigar Aficionado article about how to smoke less delicious cigars, or a Playboy pictorial featuring fewer glorious boobies.  One would assume that this is due to the fact that these media know that their consumers enjoy the subject matter they write about, and would like to do more, not less, of it.  Food Network, with its stable of shows about cooking less food, in less time, with less ingredients, seems to think that its viewers see the kitchen not as a place where delicious dishes are prepared and lovingly served, but rather, as a torturous room, the entrance to which is necessitated only by a housewife’s need to begrudgingly cook something so she doesn’t look like a terrible mother.  Call me an amazing and sensitive lover, but I’m a pretty big fan of this here cooking thing, and I like to do it a lot.   In fact, I get a little sad when I’m done chopping stuff and searing stuff and remoulading stuff.  Thus, it upsets me that the Food Network would put someone on the air whose claim to fame is taking otherwise fine recipes and excising all the ingredients which cause them to, you know, taste good.  It’s not about convenience or making food accessible, either – it’s simply a shtick that’s going to move cook books.  In other words, it’s complete and total bullshit which denigrates the culinary arts.  Cooking, after all, is about the passion and excitement associated with creating something delicious – that Ms. Robinson would endeavor to do the opposite makes me hate both her, and her network, all the more.  I won’t go so far as to say that I hope they both one day writhe in an eternal dumpster fire on the banks of the river Styx, but, on the other hand, I totally want that [FN1].

Auguste sez: "Don't let ze mustache fool you, I totally want to kill zees bich.  Zoot Alors!"  He also said "I surrender," but mostly because he's French, and I wanted to write an obvious joke about how the French always surrender to stuff.

Auguste sez: "Yeah, zis iz to-tall-y ridic-oo-lous. Zut Alors - mon mustache c'est magnifique!" He also said "I surrender!", but mostly because he's French, and I wanted to write an obvious joke about how the French always surrender to stuff.

_______________________
FN 1.  Holy shit, you should have seen my first draft of this thing.  I couldn’t publish it, not because any of its wonderful hate was unauthentic, but rather because I didn’t want to make my mom weep for the depraved, black-hearted spawn she produced.  Plus, you can only use the term “useless whore-bag shame-fuck” so many times before it starts to lose its impact.  That number of times, it turns out, is seventeen.

Forelorn Pancake senses my disapproval.

Forlorn Pancake senses my disapproval.

As you may know, I love breakfast with the intensity of a million nuclear bombs exploding on the surface of the sun while Iron Maiden rocks out by playing The Number of the Beast from a stage made of battle axes on nearby Mercury.  I think the simplicity and deliciousness of fried eggs, bacon, and toast may represent my favorite meal of all time (along with all my other favorite meals of all time, of course.)  Throw in some heavily-poured Greyhounds, a touch of hash browns, and maybe even a little morning sex in the kitchen, and you’ve got yourself a hell of a way to start the day.  Unfortunately, the lucky lady lowering her standards to give you that morning sex may not view breakfast the same way you do.  Where you see sausage, she may see a fruit salad.  Where you see grits, she may see a blueberry muffin.  And where you may see a perfect excuse to pair eggs, potatoes, and butter in a food prayer answered, she may see you making her pancakes, because she didn’t let you pee on her last night for nothing.  I don’t know why, but some nefarious and surreptitious group has infiltrated our once nitrate and cholesterol-laden meal and made it an ersatz dessert, replete with powdered sugar and tiny chocolate chips of shame.  I’m sorry, but I just can’t abide by such grotesquery.

Bruce singz: "I will eat your baaaaacccOOOOOONNNNNNN!!!!  YEAH!!!"

Bruce singz: "I will eat your baaaaacccOOOOOONNNNNNN!!!! YEAH!!!" Then every building within a two-block radius was destroyed from the sonic vibrations caroming off his leather pants.

Breakfast is supposed to be about eggs, first of all, bacon a close second, and potatoes and toast rounding out the quadrangle of deliciousness to be consumed in the a.m.  Other local variations are acceptable – and even encouraged – as long as they look they were cooked in a kitchen at Denny’s.  Having something sweet at eight in the morning is, frankly, gross; unless you’re talking about cuddle time with me, that is.  I don’t like pancakes, I hate french toast, and muffins make me want to strangle a puppy even more than I already do – which is a fucking lot.  Regardless of my particular (and unassailable) tastes, there comes a time in all of our lives when we will have to suck it up, make some batter, and griddle-up some flapjacks with stuff in them.  “Why?” you ask?  Because, otherwise, all the pretty girls will leave us.  After all, pretty girls fucking loooove sweet shit for breakfast.  In fact, you might even say that they “eat it up,” if you were to insist on being totally hilarious about the matter.  I don’t like it, you don’t like it, nobody but the pretty girls like it, but we’ve got to do our part, here, if only on behalf of our enormous, glorious penises.  And, just so you don’t go making shitty-ass breakfast desserts for that hot piece you roofied last night, I’ve got a handy guide for your morning-afters.

Pancakes

And this kid grew up to be Hitler.  And to think, the signs were there all the time.

And this kid grew up to be Hitler. The signs were there all the time.

Pancakes have “cake” right there in the name, so it’s no surprise that I hate them worse than you now hate that Chinese symbol you had tattooed on your bicep ten years ago.  Sure, you lather ’em up with butter before you eat them, but you also have to pour on liquefied sugar to make them palatable, which is the mark of all inferior foodstuffs.  Plus, one time when I was a kid, I was forced to eat an order of pancakes that, looking back on it, tasted like the guy behind the dumpster in David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive.  Seriously, they tasted like nightmares.  But, again, my opinion doesn’t count – nor should it – when I’m cheferating for some beautiful blond baby.  If our ladies are willing to put up with our inane ramblings, our regretful manners, and the attendant jealousy that comes with dating such heartbreakingly beautiful men, then the least we can do is make them some gross breakfast food.

I made the mistake of looking for an image of "Dumpster Guy," as mentioned above.  Unfortunately, my brain is now weeping and vomitting, simultaneously.  I didn't have the heart to post that shit, so you get these two topical dames.

I made the mistake of looking for an image of "Dumpster Guy," as mentioned above. Consequently, my brain is now weeping and vomiting, simultaneously. I didn't have the heart to post that shit, so you get these two topical dames, instead. P.S. I know you're tempted to google "dumpster guy," but, like most things with Google Images, don't fucking do it.

I wasn’t aware that I was the world’s greatest pancake maker until I made them for the first time, a few weeks ago.  The irony is not lost on me (note: this is not “irony”.)  And, while I’m willing to impart my pancake-making techniques, you must promise me that you’ll cook them while clutching a rose between your teeth, just like I dreamt about you last night.  For the batter, mix flour, salt, sugar, yogurt, baking soda, club soda, and eggs.  Mix, without over-mixing, and spoon out a couple of table spoons on a buttered-up nonstick pan.  Flip when little bubbles appear, and cook a few minutes more.  Feel free to add blueberries, strawberries, chocolate chips, or nuts, because this is America, dammit!

French Toast

French maids are much better than French toast, though their tactic of attempting to negotiate with dust, rather than just clean it up, remains woefully ineffective.

French maids are much better than French toast, though their tactic of attempting to negotiate with dust, rather than just cleaning it up, remains woefully ineffective.

Like most things French, the eponymous breakfast dish is deceiving.  “I like bread,” I think to myself.  “I like cream and eggs, too – what could go wrong?”  A lot, you damned inquisitive psyche.  Namely, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon.  Seriously, folks, if you want bread pudding for breakfast, just say so.  There’s no need to beat around the bush about it.  I mean, you don’t see me trying to justify my 8:00 a.m. greyhound drinking by telling my guest that it’s healthy because it’s almost 20% juice, do you?  Of course you do, you Helios-like semi-Deity, because that’s exactly what I do.  Then I start yelling, and pose the following: “What, I slave over a hot stove all morning, after registered scientisting all week, but I can’t have a morning cocktail?  Is it so bad that I want to take the edge off, first thing in the morning?  Don’t forget, I had to wake up right next to a living, breathing reminder of how God-awful my life has become – I think the least you can do is forgive a little nip to ease me into the day.  What are you, my fucking parole officer?  Did you let that guy you were fucking behind my back have a morning cocktail?  Did he get to have a mimosa or two?  Or were you guys too busy, you know, FUCKING BEHIND MY BACK?!?!  Jesus Christ!  My mother was right, I should never have started dating a girl from my AA meeting.”  Anyway, dunk thick-sliced brioche or challah in a shallow dish filled with milk, vanilla, cinnamon, eggs, and sugar, on both sides.  Cook on a griddle until it looks like French toast.  Seriously, can you believe that bitch back there?

Savory Pancakes

I fucking take back everything I said about pancakes - this shit looks AMAZING.  Although, you could put a runny-yolked egg on top of a dead cat and I'd probably think it looked delicious.

I fucking take back everything I said about pancakes - this shit looks AMAZING. Although, you could put a runny-yolked egg on top of a dead cat and I'd probably think it looked delicious. Just as delicious as it tasted.

I’m admittedly spit-balling, here, but I think this shit’ll work.  Take the above pancake recipe (note that I’ve left out all measurements to make it less confusing – you’re welcome) but instead of using sugar, don’t use sugar.  Take half the yogurt and mix with some sour cream.  Add some parm, cooked bacon, and scallions.  Griddle that bitch up.  Now you can have a nice homogeneous meal with your sexy counterpart, even if only on a macro level.  Either that, or you could just go with my other alternative: TCP’s Big Plate of Bacon.

In spite of all that delicious angst back there, I love cooking breakfast for other people in the morning.  Not only does it give me the aforementioned excuse of drinking heavily at an otherwise socially-unacceptable time, but it also affords me the opportunity of making my favorite meal of the day for my favorite people.  After all, if you’re at my house at 8:30 a.m., you’re either a favored guest, a hooker I’ve locked up, or are currently stealing my television because my reclusive nature makes it seem as though I’ve been on vacation for the past week.  In the case of the former most example, cooking something good to start someones day off is as satisfying as this sentence is cheesy and sentimental.  In closing, pancakes are gross.

The Stath likes his fish & chips with a healthy dose of malt vinegar and smoldering gaze.  P.S.  You're welcome, ladies (and The Chef's Prerogative's penis.)

The Stath likes his fish & chips with a healthy dose of malt vinegar and smoldering gaze. P.S. You're welcome, ladies (and The Chef's Prerogative's penis.)

When I was a wee lad I, like everyone else on the planet, read the book Angela’s Ashes. For those few among you who haven’t read it (or seen the movie I forgot that I saw, until just now), it tells the story of Angela, a secret agent in MI-6, and follows her through Europe as she exacts revenge for her murdered partner, one bad guy at a time, until she’s finally able to scatter her fallen comrade’s ashes in his hometown of Ankara.  At least that’s what I wish the book was about, because the actual novel was more depressing than an average Cincinnati Bengals season.  A well written book, it nonetheless made me feel sad every time I picked it up – perhaps so sad that I will one day write a harrowing memoir about me reading it, which will no doubt surpass the original in out-and-out depressing subject matter.  One thing the book definitely had going for it, though – aside for Frank McCourt’s writing – was his description of the hunger he and his siblings endured, as well as the attendant joy and sensory overload which accompanied the  occasional sussing-out of a real meal.  In particular, he glowingly describes how he would occasionally have the pleasure of fish & chips, that most iconic of British pub food.  And, man, does that motherfucker make fish & chips sound good.  Listen to this part, after our tiny, hungry, kleptomaniacal hero steals fish & chips from some courageous, passed-out drunk: “[I] thank the drunken man in my mind for drowning the fish and chips in vinegar and smothering them in salt and then I remember that if I die tonight I’m in a state of sin for stealing and I could go straight to hell stuffed with fish and chips but it’s Saturday and the priests [all right, that’s enough]…”  See, aren’t you craving some fish & chips, right now?  And commas?  I don’t know if I’d had fish & chips until I read this book, and I am eternally grateful to it for making the dish sound too irresistible not to try.  In other words, I guess I’m saying that Frank McCourt’s terrible, impoverished childhood was probably worth it.  I’m just glad he could pull himself up by the bootstraps and build enough wealth to finally buy the Los Angeles Dodgers.

I'm including this picture of Sohpie Howard because she comes from the land of fish & chips.  I'm also including it because I think it serves as a reminder of how disgusting the fur industry is.  The sexy, sexy fur industry.

I'm including this picture of Sophie Howard because, well, you ladies got The Stath, up there. I'm also including it because I think it serves as a reminder of how disgusting the fur industry is. The sexy, sexy fur industry.

I was recently looking at a map (of the world, no less) and discovered that true fish & chips are located very far away from me.  The British pubs around my neighborhood make delicious versions, sure, but it’s just not the same unless your meal is interrupted by some Man U fan hitting you in the face because he takes your blue jeans as a sign that you’re a Chelsea supporter.  I think those are soccer teams – did I do that right?  Good fish & chips, though, does not require a first-class ticket on a Virgin Airlines flight, a stay at the Savoy, or thinking Eddie Izzard is funny.  No, fish & chips can be made right in your very own home, after you’ve drunk eight pints of Guinness and four shots of Bushmill’s.  So let’s get to it, mate, an’ cook some chips, yeah?

Stuff To Put In Your Lorrie

Oil
Cod pieces (or, “cod fillets,” if you don’t want to be hilarious about it)
Flour
Spices
Potatoes
Other stuff I’ll list once I think you’re ready to read it

Fish

Fresh Fish!  Fresh Fish!  Fresh Fish!
Fresh Fish! Fresh Fish! Fresh Fish!
Cod has been the go-to fish for this meal ever since they signed an exclusivity contract with the dish in 1924.  I’m glad they did, because cod is a perfect counter-part to the richness of the batter and chips.  It’s light and flavourful, and more flaky than me when I promise that I’ll totally go see that play with you.  But the cod is only one part of what makes this meal great.  Like most things that are awesome, the best part comes from the batter.  In our case, the batter is made from flour, baking soda, salt, pepper, and glorious, wonderful beer.  Dredge the fish in the flour, dip in the batter, then gently submerge in a pot full of oil (heated to 160 degrees, Celsius.)  remove to drain while you’re finishing your chips and thinking how maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if the English had won the Revolutionary War, after all.  Sorry, General Washington!

Chips

Not pictured: jokes that aren't unfunny and obvious.  Also not pictured: not using double negatives.

Not pictured: jokes that aren't unfunny and obvious. Also not pictured: not using double negatives.

Oh, french fries, your temperamental nature reminds me of a woman.  Or a cat.  Or of a half-woman-half-cat vindictive beast, that I would still probably have sex with, even though I knew what I was getting myself into.  Why you seem to burn at a temperature just five degrees higher than that at which you’d cook perfectly vexes even the most patient of chefs.  That you are so delicious makes us forgive (and devour) you.  The bottom line is this: I could write a long instruction manual about how to make great fries from scratch, but I just don’t think it would do you any good.  Much like making a ten-foot putt to save par or staging a political or military coup in a country hostile to America’s pecuniary interests, making fries is much more about feel than academics.  For our purposes, cut your fries thicker than you think you should, fry them once at a low temperature, then let them rest while you fry your cod.  Cook them once more at a high temperature, remove to drain, and sprinkle with salt.
Heny Kissinger sez: "Coup?  What coup?  I have no idea what you're talking about.  Those chips sound good, though."

Heny Kissinger sez: "Coup? What coup? I have no idea what you're talking about. Those chips sound good, though."

Our Harrowing Conclusion
I would tell you to serve your fish & chips on a newspaper, in the traditional fashion, but because those don’t exist anymore, I guess you’ll have to serve it on your laptop while you display the online version of your favorite daily.  And, like the young Frank McCourt would say: “Oy, mate – serve ya fish & chips wit a noice helpin’ ‘a salt and mawlt vinega’.”  I like a side of tartar sauce, as well, but that’s mostly because I’m a fan of Eurasian ethnic groups.  However you serve your fish & chips, enjoy.  Then punch anyone in the face who dares to say that British cuisine is gross.  Unless they’re talking about haggis, in which case they may or may not be wrong.
New sous-chef, Ella Chairman Meow Who Dey, sez: "All your pants are belong to me.  Did I hear someone mention fish?"

New sous-chef, Ella Chairman Meow Who Dey, sez: "All your pants are belong to me. Did I hear someone mention fish?"

"Whoa, whoa, whoa...  Before you get all blame-y about the job market you're entering, let me tell you about the Hope distilleries and Change factories we plan on staffing in the coming months to fulfill my campaign promises."

"Whoa, whoa, whoa... Before you get all blame-y about the job market you're entering, let me tell you about the Hope distilleries and Change factories we plan on staffing in the coming months to fulfill my campaign promises."

Class of 2009: Congratulations on your graduation day!  You’ve worked hard for this moment, and you’ve earned it.  I can only imagine your excitement, as I look out upon your smiling, hopeful faces.  Actually, I can’t really imagine it, because you idiots seem to be happy about the fact that you’re leaving a situation where your schedule revolves around Wasted Wednesday and going snowboarding.  Are you guys fucking for real?!?!  You should be applying to grad school, right now, in hopes of extending your four-year, post-high school vacation.  Seriously, all the girls here are under 25, and will probably have sex with you if you give them coke!  They don’t do that in the real world – you have to buy them expensive jewelery for that!  And, trust me, when you get an actual job you’re not going to be able to wake up on a Tuesday with a hangover and just decide, “Oh, well, I can probably just stay home this morning.”  Unless you get a Union job, of course.  Seriously, what the fuck are you smiling about?!?!

But fear not, morons, because you’re about to get smacked dead in the junk with the cruel whiffle ball bat of reality.  They say that graduation is not an “end,” but a “beginning.”  Well they’re wrong, because it is most assuredly a fucking end.  An end to fun; an end to finals being the biggest worry of your life; and an end to drinking on a week night for fun, rather than for the purpose of forgetting, even if just for a moment, that you’ve become the man of “quiet desperation” described by Thoreau.  And you pathetic bastards have it doubly as bad – you’re entering one of the worst job markets since every time I’ve ever tried to get a job, and the economic landscape is just plain rough, in general.  The lucky among you will have a nice reprieve from the real world while getting drunk and pretending to be disappointed about being unemployed.  However, there are some of you out there who, for whatever reason, actually applied yourselves for the last four, glorious years, and will unfortunately land some generic office job at a non-descript corporation with a name like “Lexonix” or “Invectco” or “Invectronix.”  I just hope you like hearing “Only x more days ’til Friday” at least ten times every day of the week until Friday mercifully arrives, at which point they’ll invariably say “Ugh, at least it’s Friday.”  Do you know why they say these things?  Because they’re assholes, of course, but also because, unlike the inspirational quote above the entrance to Dachau, work is most assuredly NOT freedom.  It’s, like, the exact fucking opposite of that.  And for those of you thinking “That won’t be me – I’ll get a job that I love,” I’ve got news for you: no one is advertising an opening for “Lap Dance Recipient,” and you’ll never see a Want Ad reading “Full Time Scotch-Taster and Belligerent Wall-Puncher Needed.”  Trust me, I’ve looked.
 
Regardless of your individual circumstance, it’s a tough economy out there.  You’re going to have to scrimp and save and maybe even buy blended whisky.  You’re going to have to hawk your stuff and sell your plasma just to make rent.  You’re going to have to roll tourists on the boardwalk just so you can fix before the hallucinations start.  It’s going to be tough, and I don’t envy you one bit.  I know it sounds depressing, but I would like to leave you on a happy note, as I do have some good news: I’ve banged, like, four co-eds this weekend, and I’m proud to report that The Chef’s Prerogative’s stiiiiiilllll got it!  Anyway, I’m out, suckas; chuch.

In an interview I recently conducted with world-renowned economist, Milton Friedman, for this blog post, he concluded that “We’re all fucked!!!  Run for your lives!!!”  This is in marked contrast, however, to the informal poll I took of the ten other people working in my Registered Science lab, all ten of whom reported that they were currently gainfully employed.  Whoever is right, I thank God that registered scientisting and obscene blogging are recession-proof industries.  What’s not recession-proof, though, is making expensive meals in your home.  So say goodbye to your suckling pig.  So long to your pate de foie gras.  Don’t let the screen door hit you on the way out, eating five steaks in one sitting.  But, while wallets may be a little light, right now, there’s no excuse for resting on your laurels and making bland fare solely for the purpose of saving money.  Indeed, there are numerous meals, humble in their prices, yet delicious in their execution, that can serve to help you ride out this economic down-turn in style.  The following are some of the meals I’ve come to turn to when my side-business as a gigolo slows down, which is never.

Red Beans And Rice

As this photo indicates, red beans and rice can be made for a mere nine dollars per serving.  Red beans and rice is gooooood.

As this photo indicates, red beans and rice can be made for a mere nine dollars per serving. Red beans and rice is gooooood.

Red beans and rice pairs up two of the most common – and cheapest – staples the world has to offer (not so fast, Africa.)  But, like most humble foods, when made with care and attention, RB&R is absolutely delicious.  Plus, it’s got a ham hock in it, so you know it’s good.  Not only that, but this delicious dish is actually, dare I say: good for you!  Beans are high in fiber and protein, and rice is…  well, rice is what sake is made out of, so it’s good for making bad feelings go away.  While simple to make, RB&R is, however, a time-consuming endeavor, taking up to three hours to cook.  But, again, you’re probably sitting at home all day, anyway, so why not cook while you’re playing Worlds of Warcraft and listening to your fourth hour in a row of Sportscenter?  Saute onion, bell pepper, and celery in a cast iron pot.  Add in the ham hock and some minced garlic.  Sort the beans and remove any pebbles, then add to the pot, along with enough water to cover everything by a couple of inches.  In terms of seasonings, I always add a bay leaf, Cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, a little cumin, and red pepper flakes; but in these dire times, feel free to throw in whatever you may have in your pantry, as well as grass, dust, and kitty litter.  Simmer for two to three hours then remove the lid and let the liquid reduce to the desired consistency.  Pour over a bed of rice and enjoy with a cross-cultural tortilla.  P.S.  This meal is seriously, like, eight bucks to make, and will keep you fed at least until your dignity wears down and you finally pawn that watch your grandpa gave you.  P.P.S.  Wow, that last sentence was way more sad than funny.  Sorry.

Pasta – Imagine That!

See?  That shit's cheap.  Plus, it pairs my two favorite things: pasta and shame.

See? That shit's cheap. Plus, it pairs my two favorite things: pasta and shame.

Making pasta is about as cheap & easy as the sorority girl at the frat party who’s doing kegs stands, and who will, later in the evening, let you film whatever dirty thing you want to talk her into.  But, then again, you already know this because (a) you’ve made pasta before, and (b) it is your sister we’re talking about, here.  You can get a pound of pasta for a buck, and you don’t need much else besides oil, seasoning, and maybe some veg to make it taste great.  For an easy dinner that won’t hurt your wallet, simply saute vegetables and garlic in oil.  Add pasta and toss.  Please be aware, though, I invented this recipe, and have copyrighted it under the name TCP’s Lotsa Pasta Madness (beat ya to it, T.G.I. Fridays!).  So if you make this thing, please understand that you will owe me royalties, and I will exact my recompense by expropriating the hopes and dreams or your children.  Or you can just send me a check – whichever.

Ramen

Dave, does this ramen taste like crazy fucking broad, to you?

Does this ramen taste like straight-to-video, to you?

Continuing with the carb theme that I’m just now noticing, is perhaps the most awesome meal ever devised by hungry, fourth-century Chinese college students.  Ramen is chinese, right?  Anywho, grocery store Ramen, on its own, isn’t exactly haute cuisine – it’s freeze-dried noodles with packets of MSG cocaine for flavoring, for Christ’s sake.  What the fuck ever, though, because Ramen is cheap, comforting, delicious, and cheap, and if you eat enough of it, I’m pretty sure you’ll probably get scurvy, which will make you sound like you’re a pirate.  And, while Ramen may not be the most stylish of fare, who’s to say you can’t dress it up on your own?  Boil that shit in some store-bought stock to add flavor; add some chicken you grilled on your George Foreman right before snorting that Ativan; forego the Ramen altogether, tell your mom and dad you need money for books, then spend that money on an enchilada dinner at The Blue Iguana and three forties of Old English.  It’s all good!  I have fond, fond memory of late night Ramen dinners, and though pleasuring the entire Spirit Squad sapped me of the strength needed to add any non-packeted accoutrement to the dish, your own Ramen adventures are limited only by your imagination and the contents of the food isle at your local gas station.  Get some nachos while you’re there, you deserve it!

Well, there you have it: a woefully inadequate guide to eating on the cheap.  I apologize that I didn’t have more recipes for you, but I’m pretty busy, right now, lighting fifty-dollar cigars with conflagrant hundred-dollar bills.  Hopefully, though, this humble guide has inspired you to understand that even the most pedestrian of foods can be delicious, so long as the cook is willing to take his time to impart as much flavor as possible to it, and also to ignore anything and everything that Rachel Ray says.  I generally try to add extra flavor with fresh black truffles and saffron, but garlic powder works, too, if that’s all you’ve got in your mobile home.  In conclusion, college is awesome, “red beans” sounds like it should be offensive to both Native Americans and Latinos, I still eat Ramen once a week, paying for pasta at a restaurant is stupid, and Britney Murphy’s career is not going as well as planned.

Did I include this picture of Christina Hendricks because I mentioned "saffron" back there, and she used to play a character named "Saffron;" or did I refrence saffron back there just so I could include this picture of Christina Hendricks for you lucky readers?  It's a question as old as time, my friend.

Did I include this picture of Christina Hendricks because I mentioned "saffron" back there, and she used to play a character named "Saffron;" or did I refrence saffron back there just so I could include this picture of Christina Hendricks for you lucky readers? It's a question as old as time, my friend. Perhaps we'll never know.