Archive for June, 2009

Temptation

June 30, 2009

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On a recent visit to Costco, I spied the Cuisinart Power Blend Duet, a blender and food processor in one.  I’m of the school of do-one-thing-and-do-it-well, so I’m surprised that this caught my fancy.  In The Littlest Kitchen, multipurpose can be a plus.  I don’t really need a blender since I still have my parent’s vintage one from the 60s which is still kicking, but sometimes I do wish it was smaller like this shorter and squatter jar from Cuisinart.  The food processing bowl is only 3-cups, which isn’t quite big enough for pie crusts, something that I’m hoping do in the future.   Like the 24-packs of toilet paper at Costco, do I really need it?

It got me thinking that what I really need is interchangeable bowls for the many tasks and quantities of food processing – chopped vegetables, pestos, hamburgers, dips, etc.  A little more vetting on Cook’s Illustrated revealed that the Kitchenaid KFP750 would probably suit me best with its 12-cup and 4-cup bowls.  I also like that it only has three buttons – on, off, and pulse. – compared to Cuisinart’s seven.  Practicality gives way to temptation.

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Puttanesca Cioppino

June 29, 2009

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I have loved cioppino from the the first moment that I had it at Little Joe’s in San Francisco.  Bouillabaisse and chowders don’t endear me as much as the bold flavors of the Italian tomato-garlic fish stew.  For years I’ve used Marian Cunningham’s recipe from The Supper Book, which is quich and simple, if not a paler shade of the real thing.  When I made it recently – held hostage by my wallet and the slim selection at the local fish store – it was a downright disappointment.  Tilapia killed my cioppino.  Bland and flavorless, there was barely any fish flavor, tilapia being the seafood equivalent to styrofoam peanuts.  I had two bites and commenced with a flavor injection.  More garlic sauteed with crushed red pepper.  For more fish flavor, I added anchioves, and for the hell of it, capers, for a puttanesca touch.  In the end, I had a whole new dish – puttanesca cioppino, a vast improvement.

Puttanesca Cioppino

-heat 1/4 cup olive oil over medium in a large frying pan

-add 6 minced garlic cloves and 1/4t crushed red pepper for 1 minute until golden, do not brown

-add 1/2 cup white fish filet, 1 cup wine, 2-15 oz. cans diced tomatoes, 1t oregano, 1t sugar, and 2 bay leaves, simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes

-add 1 1/2 cups fish, 1/2 tin minced anchioves, and 1T capers, cook another 5 minutes covered until fish is cooked through

-serve with 1 cup chopped parsley

Budget Bummer

June 17, 2009

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The withdrawals have finally hit me.  I’ve been really good with the budget and breaking my addiction to spending, but I’m having a rough patch right now.  All I want to do is spend money.  I want to buy crap at the flea market.  I want to buy crap at Ikea.  I want to buy cacti at the Farmer’s Market.  But I can’t because I’m on a budget and $150 a week is just not enough.  Call it a moment of weakness.  I have to remind myself that buying crap is what got me into trouble to begin with.  So I shall go crapless for now.

Maybe I need to devise a new game to distract myself from spending.  Think of my $150 a week as a $20 a day with a $10 bonus cushion.  Better to obsess over numbers than things?

I Like Meatballs

June 16, 2009

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On the same ragged page as the ill-fated Black Bean and Hominy Stew, is a recipe for Smothered Meatballs in Red Chile Sauce from the 2003 issue of Food and Wine.  Pitched as fast and easy, it was hardly the former.  A 40 minute recipe became a 2 1/2 hour ordeal.  Granted, I took the liberty to make my own breadcrumbs from frozen bread cubes, minced the garlic and scallions by hand, and added minced cilantro.  What took the longest time was seeding the reconstituted ancho chiles.  A quick swish in water couldn’t remove the seeds stuck to the tacky interior, so they had to be picked out by hand.  There must be an easier way.  

Once the prep was done – clocking in at an hour – it was easy enough to make the meatballs and the blender blended sauce.  The recipe requires cooking the peppers with the meatballs, but my largest skillet couldn’t accommodate both, adding more time by cooking the two separately.  Two and a half hours later, it was worth the effort.  Two days later, they made even better meatball sandwiches.

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Follow the Bell

June 15, 2009

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Some people listen for the lilting jingle of the Mr. Softee truck, I listen for the deep clang of Mike’s Knife Sharpening truck.  Roaming the streets of Brooklyn with his dogs Princess and Baby, Mike provides a service that is ultimately more valuable than soft serve.  For $5, my 8-inch chef’s knife was as good as new in less than two minutes.  All I had to do was walk down the street, and the chore/errand/task that I’ve put off for so long, was done.  Mike is serendipity on wheels.

I Should Have Known Better

June 8, 2009

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The best way to weed through my bloated recipe file is to randomly choose and cook.  I plucked this 2003 recipe from Food and Wine for Black Beans and Hominy Stew, which reminds me of the stew that I made from the Momofuku pork butt leftovers.  A faster from-the-ground-up version, this recipes uses smoked ham cut in cubes instead of shredded pork, something that I was a bit skeptical about.  The best thing about a stew like this is the way that shredded tender pork falls apart and gives itself to the stew in flavor and texture.  My doubts were confirmed, the cubes of ham floated around like spongy little life rafts in a sea of thick black beans and hominy, there was no integration, only isolation.  It’s a small detail, but it makes all the difference.  Disappointed, I realize that it’s okay not to like a recipe that I’ve hung on to for six years.  That’s what editing is all about.