Archive for the ‘food’ Category

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Strawberry Fields Forever

July 7, 2007

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photo by Harold Davis, a photographer and author who has a marvelous blog on digital photography and other subjects.

I’ve just returned from Florida (about which, more later) and I’ve had a very busy week, so after all that, I’m finally getting back to blogging.

In my perambulations around town this week, I stopped by a local strawberry farm to do the “pick your own” thing.  It was fun.  As in the rest of life, the best and sweetest ones are found hiding away under the leaves.

Returning home with four quarts of achingly ripe, pungently aromatic strawberries on a hot and humid day, I thought that frozen strawberry daiquiris would be an excellent project to undertake.  I hadn’t made them in many years. 

So I dragged out the blender, looked around on the web for some recipes, found a few that sounded good, and came up with this adaptation: 

Frozen Strawberry Daiquiris, the Supervixen Way

6 oz. frozen limeade mix, preferably Minute Maid (not diluted)

3 cups ripe fresh strawberries, washed and hulled

1 cup white Bacardi rum

2 cups crushed ice

2 heaping teaspoons sugar (I use raw “demerara” sugar because it tastes best and it’s what we use around the house – but powdered “confectioners” sugar, used in many daiquiri recipes, will dissolve faster and the cornstarch in it will help to make the drink smoother and more frothy)

Pulse-blend just until ice and strawberries are smoothly commingled and the color is even.  Don’t overblend.  Serve in a stemmed glass, garnished with a thin wedge of lime.  Fills four good-sized Margarita glasses.

The audience for these drinks said that they hit the spot.  The mix brought out perfectly the flavor of fresh, ripe strawberries.  I was requested to make more.  We put a big dent into the four quarts of strawberries.  As it should be.

In previous daiquiri experiments I’d used Rose’s Lime Juice, but that has an unpleasant taste when the proportions are not quite right.  The limeade works very well.

Another note from previous experiments: if you don’t have perfectly ripe, fresh-picked strawberries to work with, it’s best to go with frozen.  We have a problem in this country with fruits and vegetables that LOOK ripe but have no flavor or scent.  It’s like they’re made of wax.  That really pisses me off.  I suppose it would be OK for those poor Dutch painters in the 18th century who wanted a long-lasting model for a still life.

Strawberries are among the worst offenders in this way.  Though they’re more sinned against than sinning.  Anyway, be warned.

That evening we dined on grilled meats and my version of a Greek salad: greens, tomato wedges, kalamata olives, chunks of feta (the best you can find – the run-of-the-mill supermarket stuff is too salty), quartered and sliced cucumber, thinly sliced red onion, slivered yellow or orange bell pepper, copious amounts of chopped-up fresh oregano, and – drumroll for the Secret Ingredient! – big pieces of ripe avocado.  I have found that Farmer Boy Greek Dressing is exquisite over avocado.

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Lentils

June 25, 2007

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This one is for ms xeno.

The first few times I went to Paris, it was on business.  I would go out to eat, late at night, in a group with my co-workers, who went where our local contacts told us to go: the well-known old-fashioned brasseries with Art Nouveau glasswork and boyish waiters dashing to and fro with huge platters of seafood.  The whole experience was superb, and I was entranced, ravished.  There are few things better than a couple of dozen French oysters (fines de claire for my taste) accompanied by sauce mignonette, thin slices of buttered bread, and a bottle of Sancerre.

(My husband calls me “Diamond Jim” because of my profligate enjoyment of oysters.)

But then, on another such business trip, I escaped and went to meet one of my husband’s friends, an academic wastrel fluent in French and several other languages.  He was taking a kind of sabbatical in which he lived in a tiny room on the Ile St-Louis and brooded and smoked while deciding what to do with his life. 

He took me out to lunch.  We went to an undistinguished-looking place that felt like a sandwich joint.  He ordered for us in mellifluous French.  It was mesmerizing to see this person I knew very well speaking in a language that I had never heard coming out of his mouth before.  The first course was a lentil salad topped with a few slices of smoked duck breast.  The red wine he ordered was the first “house wine” I ever had in France, and I discovered that “house wines” in France are REALLY GOOD, not what they are here in the US (Inglenook et al.) 

The combination of the earthy lentils with the unctuous duck breast and the robust red wine was heavenly.  We had a main dish, as well, but I don’t recall what it was.  We didn’t really need it.

Looking to recreate the lentil salad recipe, I came across the one below, which is a good approximation.  Since smoked duck breast is hard to find where we are, I substituted slices of just-ripe avocado drizzled with a bit of the lentil dressing.  Not bad!

Adapted from Bistro Cooking by Patricia Wells:

1 lb lentils

1 medium onion, halved and stuck with several whole cloves

1 garlic clove, peeled

1 bay leaf

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 Tablespoons olive oil

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Rinse the lentils and pick over carefully for pebbles.  Put the lentils, onion, garlic, and bay leaf in a heavy saucepan; cover with 1 inch of cold water.  Cover and bring just to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the lentils are tender but just intact, 25-35 minutes.  Check the lentils during cooking; during most of the cooking water should be visible when you tilt the pan slightly.  Add water as needed, but not more than 1/4 cup.  By the end of the cooking time, the liquid should be absorbed.

 When the lentils are cooked, remove the pan from the heat and discard the onion, garlic and bay leaf.  Whisk together the vinegar, oil and salt to taste in a small bowl.  Pour over the warm lentils and toss to coat.  Just before serving, season to taste with pepper and additional salt if necessary.

6-8 servings.

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The Drama Queen Attacked by Spinach

January 21, 2007

Or something green.  Or nothing.  It’s unclear.  Mainly it’s something that she wants to gripe about:

On March 17, 2000 I drove from Massachusetts to New Jersey.  Along the way I stopped at Wendy’s.  When I got to New Jersey, I had dinner at Ruby Tuesday with friends.  Then, because it was St. Patrick’s day, I went out for a beer with a friend.  By the time we got to the bar I felt sick.  I left not long after.  By midnight, I was violently ill.  By 2 AM I would have said it took all my strength to reach the phone and call for a car to bring me to the campus health center.  Except that when I got up and made my way down the stairs to get out to the car, it redefined my idea of how much strength I could summon.  I passed out briefly two or three times between my bedroom and the front door.  Passed out where no matter how hard I fought, darkness flashing with swirling spotty lights closed around my field of vision and my extremities were numb and burning at the same time and I felt myself falling backwards away from the door I knew I had to reach to get help, the door I dragged myself out by the handle and left unlocked because I had no choice.  I had to choose between putting on shoes and getting to the door, so I went to the infirmary in socks, and came home in them 2 days later.

Wow.  That’s rough.  But the prose is stylish.  Kind of.

The only thing on earth that could possibly remind me of this tragedy is the story I recently read about a famous mountain climber pitting himself against a peak, and just when he thinks everything is fine, he gets a 500-pound chunk of ice falling down on his head so his ice axe stabs him through his face and he spurts blood all over the place and he flails around wondering if he’ll live or die, because nobody is there to rescue him.

He does live.

They released me around 30 hours later, after administering fluids and cipro through IV, with cipro pills.  Two weeks later, at a follow-up visit, the gastroenterologist told me the dehydration had been so severe I could have suffered heart failure.

So, yeah, my own experience having been aggravated by gluten intolerance or not, I take the threat of E. coli pretty fucking seriously.

Oh, I’m sure you do.

I hope nobody ever waves a bun with some greens in it in front of your face.  Who knows what might happen.

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Supervixens Kitchen: Chicken Chili

January 15, 2007

It’s been a cold, snowy weekend here at Supervixen Central, so I made a big batch of Chicken Chili.  It hit the spot.  The recipe follows. 

A great culinary discovery I made this weekend: the new dark-chocolate M&Ms are really very good!

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Advice to Supervixens who like to cook: get this pot, it’s the best – the Le Creuset 7 1/2-quart bouillabaisse pot.  It’s pricey but well worth it.  I have yet to make bouillabaisse in mine, but I use it for all my soups, stews and chilis.  I really like the shape.  It’s a lot easier to cook stuff in than the normal “Dutch oven” shape.

Supervixens Chicken Chili

This makes a robust, very spicy chili.  Adjust the spices if you prefer your chili mild.

3 large chicken breasts, split (6 halves)

Rub with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper (or Spicy Adobo seasoning, if you have it).  Roast at 375 degrees for 1 hour or until cooked through.  Allow to cool.  Remove meat from bones and shred into bite-size pieces.

4 cups chopped onion

4 Tablespoons canola oil

Fry onion in oil in large heavy-bottomed pot (preferably your bouillabaisse pot!) until onion is soft and translucent but not browned.  Add:

2 cubanelle (Italian sweet) peppers, cored, seeded and diced

2 orange bell peppers, cored, seeded and diced

2 celery stalks, chopped

3 small carrots, chopped

6 cloves garlic, smashed and minced

Cook until softened. 

In small bowl, mix together until blended:

2 teaspoons Kosher or sea salt

2 Tablespoons cumin

4 Tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 Tablespoon hot paprika

3 Tablespoons corn meal

Sprinkle over onion-vegetable mixture in pot.  Mix thoroughly and cook for a few minutes until the aroma of the spices is released.  Be careful not to burn, as the spice mixture will stick to the pan.

Add:

2 cups chicken broth

1 12-ounce bottle Dos Equis amber beer

1 28-ounce can plum tomatoes, drained and crushed

2 7-ounce cans chopped green chiles, with liquid

2 cups corn kernels

The cooked chicken meat

Stir and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and cook at a simmer for 1 hour.

Add:

2 15.5-ounce cans kidney beans (I used “roman” beans, the pink-striped kind), drained

1 handful fresh parsley, rinsed, dried and finely chopped

1 handful fresh cilantro, rinsed, dried and finely chopped

Stir gently until blended.  Heat through.

Remove from heat.  Allow to cool and then refrigerate overnight.

Serve garnished with grated sharp cheddar cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and chopped scallions or chives.

H.R.H. Supervixen

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What To Do With Pork: Recipes

January 5, 2007

Since my web stats indicate that many visitors are coming here because of a search on the term “pork sword”, it occurs to me that a recipe is in order!  I often make this wonderful spreadable pâté for parties.  It goes very well with champagne.  We had it for a recent holiday party and I’ll make it again in May for our traditional May Day party with strawberries and champagne.

I found it in a cookbook published by the Worcester (Mass.) Art Museum in the 1980s.  I’m a collector of cookbooks, even the cheesy fundraising ones with the plastic bindings.  Most of those are interesting only from a cultural perspective (e.g., how many cans each recipe requires – I once found a casserole recipe that called for no fewer than 12 cans of stuff like water chestnuts, green beans, etc.) but this particular one was full of genuinely good recipes.  This is my adaptation of the one I found in the Art Museum cookbook:

Pâté Canadien

1 pound pork sausage meat

1 pound chicken livers

2 cloves garlic, mashed and minced

1 large onion, minced

1 tsp dried tarragon or 1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh tarragon, minced

1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

1/2 cup port wine

1/2 pound mushrooms, chopped

3 Tablespoons butter

1/2 cup heavy cream

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a frying pan, slowly brown sausage meat, breaking it up with a spatula.  When cooked, drain the meat on paper towels.

Pour off all but a few tablespoons of the sausage fat from the pan.  In the remaining fat, saute the onion and garlic.  Remove to small dish.  Sauté the chicken livers in remaining fat.  When cooked through, add tarragon, parsley, and port wine.  Allow to cool.

Put sausage meat and chicken liver mixture in a food processor and process until smooth.  Pour into a large bowl.

Saute mushrooms in butter.  When thoroughly cooked, add cream and cook for a minute.  Add to bowl and mix with the sausage/liver.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Pour into a 2-pound loaf pan or casserole dish of equivalent size. 

Cover pan or casserole with aluminum foil and place in a larger, deep pan (e.g., a lasagna pan).  Fill larger pan with about 2 inches of water, being careful not to slop water over the edge of the smaller pan.  (This is most easily done when pan is on the oven shelf.)

Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour covered, then remove foil and bake for another half-hour uncovered.

Refrigerate a day or two so that pâté will solidify and reach its full flavor.  Serve with thin slices of French bread, melba rounds or crackers (sesame crackers are superb with it).

Enjoy!  And do share your favorite recipes – for pork, for appetizers, or anything else – in the comments section.  This will be a regular feature on Feminist Supervixens.