Thursday, February 28, 2008

Super-bugs and Lemon Caesar

Oh people, have I been sick. Sicker than I can remember being, for something like 25 days now and counting. Too sick to enjoy life, too sick to enjoy food. Never wanting to look at another can of soup again, or a thermometer.... you get the picture. I haven't been able to post anything because there has been no culinary or musical fun in my life! I'm hoping that is going to change in the not too distant future, but until then, here's a little something to tide us all over. It's my friend Steve Lucky's recipe for a yummy lemon Caesar dressing. I'm sure it would perk me up if only I had the energy to make it. Maybe you do, and if so, enjoy! Don't give up on this blog! I hope March will be much more promising than February has been. Here's Steve's recipe, verbatim:

3 organic lemons
1 head of garlic
1.5 oz (3/4 tube) anchovy paste
Worcestershire sauce
Your favorite velvety olive oil (don’t use a spicy or complex one)

Wash and zest 2 lemons, then juice all 3

Peel about ¾ of the garlic and chop finely or press into the bowl of lemon juice and zest

I use Spanish anchovy paste in a tube, but of course you can use canned filets and mash them…in which case you may have to add some sea salt
Just pile it on to your garlic island in the lemon sea

Add 5 dashes of Worcestershire sauce

Wisk in some fine extra virgin olive oil. I usually use about 750 ml (3/4 bottle) for this recipe, but start tasting after about ½ the bottle is whisked in. Keep whisking in oil until the acidity is bearable, then stop…you want it to have some bite. Adjust garlic and anchovy paste to taste.

I usually use hearts of Romaine, radicchio, and arugula, but this dressing is great with just a head Romaine, dark leaves and all. But no matter what the greens, I consider Parmesan reggiano an absolute must!

Optional: take a portion of the dressing that you will use just for this meal and whisk in one egg yolk for a truly decadent semi-classic Caesar experience

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Vitamin C is your Friend!

The trip to the Oregon coast has come and gone, and it was not without its highlights. But unfortunately, this stubborn illness latched onto me right about the time we were leaving, and it still hasn't let go.

I'm writing this tonight when in fact I'm supposed to be performing. This is only the second time in my life I've ever bailed on a gig, and I'm particularly bummed because tonight's gig was to be a celebration of local song writers, and I've been working up versions of songs by some wonderful people whom I'm fortunate to know. But alas, I've been so shaky and weak and feverish the last few days that I just couldn't summon the strength tonight to get up and try to act otherwise.

And on the one hand, I'm completely disappointed at the timing. There is part of me that really wanted to push myself to just do the show anyway, however badly I might find myself singing and feeling.

But on the other hand, it feels good to be able to slow down and realize my limits and be able to honor them. My usual tendency is to just barrel on full speed ahead and never look back, but then, surely that's a contributing factor to why I find myself sick in the first place!

During these seemingly endless days of down time, I've had the opportunity to read a couple of great books - cause what would I do if I wasn't obsessing over food and music? The first is called Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Wow, can this woman write from the heart. Highly recommended if you've ever eaten, prayed, or loved!

The other is called Shakey: Neil Young's Biography, by Jimmy McDonough. An in-depth look at the life of one very talented force of nature.

I'm looking forward to getting back in the saddle, as it were, but in the meantime, I have a pot of hot tea, a good book and a hot bath waiting for me.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

No-Knead Bread, Winter Vacation, Pressure Cooking

Ah, what a beautiful sight to behold. Would you look at that bread? Does it not look like it came straight from a fancy French bakery? Well it did not. It came straight from my kitchen and I'm still rather thrilled about it.

I finally had a chance to try out the famous recipe for no-knead bread from the New York Times (Jim Lahey's recipe actually), and it made a believer out of me. In fact, I almost wish I hadn't learned how to make this bread because I try to keep my wheat consumption to a bare minimum. And this bread is just so good you want to inhale it! So I've created a policy that I will only bake this bread when I'm going to have or attend a dinner party. So, feel free to invite me to dinner. I'll bring the bread!

Tomorrow I'm off to the Oregon coast for week-long winter respite which will include cooking and enjoying many fine meals. When I get back, I can't wait to start trying out recipes in my new pressure cooker! If anyone out there has a good recipe featuring the pressure cooker, or a recommendation for a good cookbook, bring 'em on!

Until next week, happy bread-baking!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Tuna Noodle Redux

Sometimes you just need your comfort food. And sometimes, your cupboards are pitifully bare. I had a night like this recently, and somehow managed to whip up this tasty dish which reminded me quite a lot of that childhood favorite, tuna noodle casserole (well, it was a favorite of mine at least!).

In our kitchen, this dish consisted of egg noodles, canned cream of mushroom soup, milk, and tuna. Toss it all together and bake it, take it out of the oven, gorge yourself and wait for the stomachache to commence! Mmmm, don't I make it sound appetizing? Well not to worry, the version I made was a tad more elegant, and it hit the spot. And it was so easy! Alas, there were no mushrooms in this dish, but it was still tasty, and lighter than the original, thankfully!

I managed to scrounge up a wee bit of dried pappardelle, a can of tuna, and some herb butter from my sad little kitchen. All I did was cook the noodles, toss them in the herb butter, and mix in some of the tuna. Oh, I also had some shredded parmesan, so I tossed in a bit of that as well. I reserved a bit of the water that I used to cook the noodles, and sprinkled in a teeny bit to moisten, and within the time it took to boil the water and open a can, I had dinner. I like those kinds of nights. If you make this and are feeling extra fancy, some lightly sauteed shitake mushrooms would be a lovely addition, as would toasted breadcrumbs. Or, there's always my perennial favorite, frozen peas! Use it if you've got it, I say.

And on an unrelated note, it was a great experience to go without any form of alcohol for a month, but now, the month is new! And with that, I'm off to enjoy a cold, bitter, strong, delicious beer. Cheers!