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Why, baby Jesus, why?

5 Oct

I’m still very much in the clutches of this devil-cold, but last night I was dead set on fulfilling my promise to Riley of a Greek dinner. I haven’t made much Greek food before, but figured it couldn’t be that hard, and it wasn’t! I decided on spanakopita and lamb meatballs with tzatziki sauce since I was in the mood to fool around with phyllo dough and meatballs are a cinch and I LOVE THOSE DELICIOUS LITTLE MEAT JEWELS. Tragically this is going to be another photoless blog since even though I bought a new memory card, it decided to just not work. Right out of the package. As in, $25 was dropped on this useless piece of plastic and I plugged it into the computer and my computer was all, “I DON’T SEE ANY MEMORY CARD!” And then I looked it up and everyone’s all, THIS CARD READER IS SHIT AND DON’T BOTHER ASKING FOR A SOLUTION BECAUSE THERE ISN’T ONE. Oh, good. That’s really what I felt like reading when I came home from work today, pushed the hair plastered to my forehead into a heinous pile on top of my head, and thought the one thing that might bring me an ounce on enjoyment today is finally being able to upload my photos. But what’s that? No photo uploads for me? Well that’s just fine, I’ll just recount the horrors of the line today in my head instead! OH, GOOD.

Anyway, WOW, this is what happens when I write a blog before I’ve gotten a chance to complain to whoever will pretend to listen about my day. Which, now that I think about it, might be a good idea- maybe my friends will like me better.

So! Spanakopita was super easy and basically consisted of a sauteed garlic and onion, chopped spinach, feta, dill, salt, and egg mixture layered with a bunch of phyllo dough. The only problem was that I was so congested that I couldn’t taste anything. Like, at all. The texture, however, was outstanding. Flaky, buttery, and for all I know, it tasted like a filthy kitchen rag. Who knows? Riley and C seemed to like it. The meatballs were (I think!?) good, and as usual, so easy that a trained ferret could make it if it had opposable thumbs. Here’s a recipe! I made it up! The ratios are guesstimated so don’t look at me all wonky if it’s not exactly what you thought it would be! But I promise, it’ll turn out, meatballs always do.

Greek Lamb Meatballz

makes about 20? 25? meatballerz. Obviously I didn’t count. I just ate.

1 lb ground lamb
2 eggs
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1 cup finely chopped sauteed yellow onions
3 Tbs chopped parsley
1/3 cup crumbled feta
2 tsp dill
salt and pepper to taste

Basically all you have to do here is throw all those ingredients in a bowl, plunge your (clean) hands into the mess, then pretend you’re massaging a rich guy’s scalp and pretty soon you’ll have a lovely, meaty mixture. Then oil a pan and shape little balls (ha. I said balls.) and drop them on the pan. The meatballs should be about an inch in diameter. I put them in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes, giving them a solid shake halfway through so they browned up. But the temperature and timing is variable, just as long as they’re browned on the outside and cooked through (just cut one open, those meat thermometers are more trouble than they’re worth). I served it with tzatziki sauce for dipping, here’s THAT recipe! It’s super easy! It’s probably not authentic because I kind of made this up, too! But it got solid results from my test audience, so THERE YOU GO.

Tzatziki saus

makes more than you need. I have no idea what to do with my leftover sauce. I probably have a cup left.

2 cups Greek yogurt
1/2 peeled and finely grated cucumber
(I realize you’re supposed to use more but I was lazy and had drunk several glasses of wine…the odds of cutting myself on that grater were not in my favor so I quit while I was ahead)
2 cloves pressed garlic
1 Tb red wine vinegar
1 tsp dill
pinch of salt

Yep… just mix all this together and you get something like tzatziki sauce. I think it was good. I told you, I couldn’t taste it. You’ll just have to trust me.

Maker’s Mark Catfish

12 Sep

I spent my Saturday painting my downstairs neighbor’s place to make a bit of extra money because, apparently, I have nothing better to do on my day off (which, incidentally, was probably the last nice weather day we’ll have until June. OH THE NORTHWEST!). It turns out that painting ceilings with a hand roller and a stepladder really does hell to your neck. After three hours the muscles in my neck were struck into state of fear-based paralysis, with every turn of my head threatening to send my whole body into a mess of complaints. So as I lay panting on my couch, carefully holding a food magazine parallel to my face so as not to aggravate my already useless muscles, C comes in with a bag of goodies to cheer me up. I guess since I made him like, ONE GOOD MEAL (read: pork chops) he now “owes me,” and bought something fun at the co-op: catfish! Catfish! Catfish!

This picture kind of blows since we ate at 8 o’clock and my indoor/incandescent/night time/food photography could use some work. But trust me, this meal was killer. I offered to help but, as I usually do, ended up leaning on the counter recounting stories about  nonsense and fiddling with the pile of produce that C was dutifully processing. He made a spicy rub for the catfish out of salt and pepper, chipotle, basil, oregano, paprika, and a hint of cinnamon. With some veggie oil he fried them up in the cast iron while the parsley-lemon rice simmered and the zucchini sautéed with a pile of quickly burning garlic. Surprisingly, the burny-ness  of the garlic worked well with the dish, a hint of bitter but not overtly so, softened with the mellow taste of the garlic that was sautéed to perfection. DELICIOUS. When the catfish was nearly done, he deglazed the pan with Maker’s Mark whiskey (a present from me to the both of us, a reward to myself for a fat paycheck and a raise at work) and made a sauce for the catfish: shallots, tomato, parsley, and (of course) heavy cream. Heavy cream, you are truly a gift of the universe! C knows my weakness for cream and wine and cooks accordingly.

Now the weather is surely turning for the worst, and autumn looms ominously… we’ve had days of downpour and wet asphalt, the wool sweaters have escaped my winter trunk, and I’m craving the foods I’ve missed for the past few months (but what a short few months of summer they’ve been!)… bring on the meat and potatoes, casseroles, stews, and roasts. I’m ready! I’ve got a new spatula and a knife sharpener! I’ve got a man who relishes food as much as I do and nothing to do! Tonight, pastitsio!

Za Za Za Za

18 Aug

I left you last with the pizza dough rising on my countertop. Well, hell, can you guess what I made?!

This here’s a margherita pizza with just basil, olive oil, tomato, and mozzerella. Perfect. Simple. KILLER.

And this puppy’s got Hempler’s pork sausage (No nitrates = possibly less chances of cancer! But probably not because everyone is doomed already!!!), artichoke hearts, basil, crimini mushrooms, tomato sauce, and mozzerella. Plus some red pepper flakes because I like things spicy sometimes. I love making pizza because the dough is dirt cheap to make and a cinch, and you can throw on pretty much any toppings you have lying around your house.

Easy Pizza Dough based off of How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

3 cups flour
2 tsp. salt
about 1.5 cups water
1 tsp. rapid-rise yeast
2 Tbs olive oil

Combine the flour, yeast, olive oil, salt, and a cup of the water in a large bowl. Mix it all up and get it so that it’s no longer a stretchy, sticky, gluey mess. I’ve never been able to figure out how to do this with a spoon, so after I stir up the initial watery dough I tend to ditch the utensils and mash it together with my hands for a few minutes. If it’s just not coming together, add some water a little at a time until all the ingredients have pretty well blended and it’s looking like a fairly cohesive chunk of dough. Take it out and knead it for 5-7 minutes, until it’s a good solid ball and it’s not too sticky anymore (a little stickiness is good, though). Grease up the inside of a fresh bowl with some olive oil and let the dough rise in there. Cover the top of the bowl with a damp towel and set the bowl some place warm to speed up the process. Theoretically the dough should rise into a big, puffy ball, but let’s be honest, I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING SO THAT’S NEVER ACTUALLY HAPPENED TO MY DOUGH.

Regardless, after an hour or two I punch down the dough and pretend it was a necessary step (who knows!?) and then let it rise for another 20 minutes or so. Then I rip the ball in half and form two small pizzas on cookie sheets coated in olive oil. Top them with whatever weird crap you’ve left festering in your fridge that you want to salvage, or, if you’re feelin’ rich, try going grocery shopping like a respectable adult.  My oven runs hot and unevenly, so I cook my pizzas at 400 for 15 minutes or less, rotating once in an attempt to coax my oven into cooperation. Typically you’d cook them at a higher temperature and for less time, but whatever works for you. Just make sure to check the bottom of the pizza once or twice while cooking to make sure they’re not burnt to hell. Then you feed them to the hungry man on your porch and listen to music and drink wine and sweat out your ears in the summer weather and swear off any and all cooking that involves ovens and/or stovetops until winter arrives.

Except that’s impossible and totally unrealistic, so whatever. I’ll inevitably continue my run as a rapid kitchen monkey regardless of the season. THE END.

Heart through my stomach

11 Aug

The other night C insisted on cooking for me, and he showed up to my house with way more than I anticipated. He pulled everything out of his bike bags one at a time, laying them out on the table and lining them up for assessment:

Parchment wrapped blue marlin
Sirloin steak with the signature Co-Op sticker on it (which means it tastes like steak, not ammonia. GOOD SIGN.)
Talus Lodi Chardonnay (admittedly meant nothing to me at the time, but it was a perfectly sweet compliment to meal)
Green beans
And a piece of Co-Op cake for later, he said. It turned out to be a white pound cake with strawberry filling and chocolate ganache.

He asked for some red onions, some lime, a little balsamic and olive oil and salt and pepper, then set to work. I pretended to help, but mostly just watched him work and gawked at the grain of the fish.

He seared everything off in my favorite pans and scrutinized the marlin for a long time before settling on the way he wanted to cut it. He whipped up a pineapple salsa for the fish and a balsamic reduction for the steak, quick steamed and sauteed the green beans, browned up the potatoes on the stove them threw them in with the rest of the glorious mess in the oven. And this is what came out.

Hot damn, this man can cook. Gotta admit, it’s not the best photo, but this meal was fantastic. So we drank our wine and talked and ate and talked and talked and ate. And I think I swooned a little bit. And then we ate the cake (which was perfect).

Then we hauled our asses down the street to the grocery store to pick up another bottle of wine, because you’re only young once, right? And we had more to talk about, and I’m pretty sure that’s impossible to do without a glass in your hand. It’s science.

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