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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Like Rome before the fall

Really:


My friend Priscilla and I have one of those bonds where we can tell one joke and retell and laugh about it for 4 hours. She's pregnant, and told me that there was nothing she wanted so much as roast beef and yorkshire pudding, so I obliged.

There is nothing I like so much as cooking all day, so this was an exciting event. It was made doubly exciting/stressful because I have never made a roast before. It's surprisingly easy, if you get the timing right. I will share with you what to put in when to make the timing (and all the dishes) perfect:

Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding


1 2-3lb roast, tied.
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/ 1/4 cups milk
1 cup plus 2 tbsp flour
3 large eggs
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup beef stock

Start the night before you are making the roast. Season beef with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, mix together oil, thyme, rosemary and garlic. Rub beef with the herb mixture. Place beef in a small roasting pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.




Remove beef from the refrigerator 2 hours before you are ready to roast, allowing it to come to room temperature. Meanwhile, make the yorkshire pudding batter: Whisk together milk, 1 cup flour, 1 tsp salt, and eggs in a bowl. Cover, let batter sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour.

Heat oven to 500. Remove plastic wrap and roast beef until browned, 18-20 mins. Reduce temperature to 250. Roast until a thermometer inserted into the center of beef reads 120, about 25 mins per pound is the standard measurement.

At this point, I made these:

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

5-6 (or more, depending on how many you are feeding) large white or red potatoes
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
fresh ground black pepper
4-5 cloves garlic, peeled
6-7 pearl onions, peeled
2 tbsp fresh, finely chopped rosemary leaves

Cut the potatoes in small chunks and place in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, onions and rosemary, toss until the potatoes are well coated. Dump the potatoes on a baking sheet and spread out into a single layer. Place in the oven that's been reduced to 250. Roast for about 1 hour or until browned and crisp.



Remove the roast from oven transfer to a cutting board, and let rest, tented with foil. Increase temperature of oven to 350 to finish roasting the potatoes. Remove potatoes after about 20 minutes.


Raise the temperature to 450. Take a non-stick muffin pan and place 1/2 tsp drippings from the roast pan into each cup. Place in the oven until hot. Pour batter evenly between cups, bake until risen and brown, about 10 mins, reduce heat to 350 to set puddings and bake for 10 mins more.

Make the gravy. Heat reserved roasting pan over medium heat. Add 1 large finely chopped shallot, cook until soft, about 5 mins. Whisk in 2 tbsp flour and 1 cup beef stock. Cook, whisking until thick. Remove from heat and transfer to a gravy boat.

At this point I fried up a little asparagus in a few tbsps of water and butter and lemon juice in a pan on the stove, then turned everything off, placed it on the table, and carved her up. Yes ma'am.


And that, my friends, is how the timing is done on a roast beef dinner. You're welcome.

P and I had a blast making this, although I did overcook the yorkshire, but I can tell you why: Lately I've really been struggling with allergies, and so before P came over I popped a couple Benadryl I'd just picked up at the store. I'd never taken them before so I didn't know that they make you drop dead exhausted/stoned. P brought me red wine so I had some and didn't realize you were not supposed to mix the two. By the time I carved the roast I didn't even know my own name. So, naturally, while the text in my recipe book was swimming around the page, I forgot/didn't see/I-was-way-too-stoned-to-know-what-the-fuck-was-happening that I was supposed to add milk to the yorkshires, so they were a little, well, hard. But they still had great flavour and everything gets soft when you drown it in gravy, which I emphatically did.

Stella even had a little too (if by having, you count climbing on the table and straight-up stealing because my mind had no concept of shapes or depth perception so I couldn't grab her elusive little body. BUT WHATEVER). And although it was pretty garlicky, she made that smacking noise with the side of her mouth while chewing, you know the one cats do, hhhyawing hhhyawing hhhyawing, which means she really enjoyed it. 

It's a lot of work but so worth it. Maybe try it for Christmas? Skip the Benadryl, though.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I love this bitch

Look at that bitchy face:



If you haven't figured it out by now, I really love my cat. Coming home after a long day at work and having her curl up in my lap makes me feel like all is right with the world. Some people get this from children, I have chosen to get this from a cat. No harm, no foul, right?

I get teased all the time for my kitty love, and I think it's funny and I welcome it, because I believe you should always be at least half laughing at yourself. And if you choose to love another kind of creature, human or otherwise, I applaud you. But there are always going to be people who don't think it's a meaningful relationship. "Its just a cat" is something I have heard many times. And every time I say: To you. It's just a cat TO YOU. Not to me. To me she is never a 'just'. To me she's a huge part of the joy I get from the world. To me she's family.

So in celebration of yet another approaching Christmas I have been lucky enough to spend with Stella Lucy Princess Orangetoes McCat, I decided to spend one recent rainy Sunday making lamb curry and snuggling with my tender beast:

(Holy eff I should just warn you now that this takes absolutely forever. So pick a rainy day and do laundry in between, and by the end you'll feel like you've really accomplished something)

Gosht Dopiaza (Lamb and Onion Curry)
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp garam masala
4 tsp ground tumeric
2 tsp dried mint
2 tsp ground sea salt
12 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 4" piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
2 lb lamb, cut into cubes
1/4 Greek yoghurt
12 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
6 green cardamom pods, crushed
1 stick cinnamon
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 can whole peeled tomatoes with juice, crushed
12-24 pearl onions, depending on size, peeled

Make the spice paste by combining paprika, garam masala, 2 tsp tumeric, mint, salt, garlic, ginger, jalapeno and 1/4 cup water in a small food processor and puree until smooth. Transfer half the spice paste to a bowl and add lamb and yoghurt, toss until evenly coated. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and marinate in the fridge for 4 hours.


Heat 8 tbsp butt in a dutch oven over medium high heat. Add coriander, cumin, fennel, cardamom and cinnamon; cook, stirring, until cinnamon stick unfurls and spices are fragrant and lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Add yellow onions, and cook, stirring often until deeply caramelized, about 25 minutes. Add remaining spice paste, and continue cooking until no longer raw, about 2 minutes. Add lamb along with any marinade, and cook until that marinade is no longer raw. Add tomatoes and 3 cups water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until lamb is tender, about 1 hour.


Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add pearl onions and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain. Heat remaining turmeric and butter in a skillet over medium-high heat, add onions and cook until caramelized all over, about 10 minutes.


Remove curry from heat and stir in the pearl onions. Serve over rice.



Although I offered to share with her, Stellie didn't want any curry. However, the next day, in a possible act of gratitude for the offer, I came home to a turmeric-coloured cat. She had gotten into the spices and of course chose the absolute messiest one to get into. Because her fur is black, the yellow of the turmeric made her look vaguely swampish. Mmmmm. Brackish cat.

I know, it's a bummer I didn't take any photos. But I was too busy having a blast with my beast.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Just like Ikea used to make

I'm not a food snob in the least. I love mass-produced, salty, fatty foods. Most people scoff at the $1.99 Swedish meatballs at Ikea, but I find them glorious. Salty and creamy and delicious, especially after spending hours on your feet arguing with your spouse about plywood furniture and wishing you weren't too big for the ball room.

But I'm pretty sure, in order to turn a profit on a $1.99 meal, we're eating lips and arseholes. I thought there must be a healthier alternative, so I found one and made it and it's not too shabby and much better for you:

Swedish Meatballs
2 slices sourdough bread
1/4 cup milk
3 tbsp butter
1/2 finely chopped onion
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2-1lb ground beef
1/2 - 1lb ground pork
2 large egg yolks
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups beef broth

Preheat oven to 200. Tear the bread into pieces and place in a small mixing bowl along with the milk. Set aside. In a large saute pan over medium heat, melt 1 tbsp of the butter. Add the onion and a pinch of sea salt and sweat until the onions are soft. Remove from heat and set aside.


In a bowl, combine the bread and milk mixture, beef, pork, egg yolks, 1 tsp sea salt, black pepper, allspice, nutmeg and onions. Mix thoroughly. Form meatballs into approximately 1 oz balls (he he, balls) and place on a cookie sheet.


Heat the remaining butter in the saute pan over medium-low heat and add the meatballs 4 at a time. Saute until golden brown on all sides. When done, remove the meatballs to an ovenproof dish and place in the preheated oven.


Once all the meatballs are cooked, decrease the heat on the element to low and add the flour to the pan. Whisk until lightly browned. Gradually add the beef stock and whisk until sauce begins to thicken. Continue to cook until gravy reaches desired thickness. Remove the meatballs from the oven, cover in gravy, and serve.


Oh fuck yeah:


This is the perfect thing to cook when it's cold out, and it keeps really well too, so you can have it multiple times. Kittehs love it too. Just sayin'.

Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown with my slight variations

Monday, November 7, 2011

What to drink while you're reading this letter to Kim Kardashian

I'm embarrassed by how naive I can be sometimes. I have been assuming for years that the Caramel Apple Spice cider at Starbucks is this magic elixir and try to get my hands on it as often as I can as soon as the weather turns cold. Imagine my surprise when the other day my friend pointed out to me it's just hot apple juice. This was confirmed by the barista. Seriously, it's just hot apple juice with caramel and whipped cream on top. Fuck I'm stupid. So heat some up in a saucepan on your stove. Pour it in a mug, and gather 'round.

I promise not to get too preachy about shit, but when something happens in pop culture that I feel compelled to write about, I kinda need to get it off my chest. So I'm going to start these little "fireside chats" with y'all. We will have a different drink each time and snuggle up and have a little rant in the form of a letter. Sound good? Here goes: 

Dear Kim,

First, I should point out that I don't really know anything about you. I don't have cable so I've never seen your show. The only reason I know who you are is because I always see you on the covers of magazines when I'm standing in line at the grocery or drug store. I heard you got married recently, and now you are getting a divorce.

Second, I don't think you need to apologize for getting a divorce. Everyone makes mistakes, no shame in it, just admit it and move on. This letter has nothing to do with your marriage or your divorce or speculation that it was a publicity stunt/cash cow. It has to do with what you said afterwards.

This is what you are quoted as saying:

LOS ANGELES — Kim Kardashian says she never meant to hurt anyone by ending her marriage after just 72 days.

The 31-year-old reality TV star posted a message to her fans on her website Tuesday, one day after filing for divorce from pro basketball player Kris Humphries, whom she married in a lavish ceremony that aired as a two-hour TV special on E!

Kardashian says that while she "married for love" and "would not have spent so much time on something just for a TV show," she admits that she "got caught up with the hoopla and the filming of the TV show."

"When I probably should have ended my relationship, I didn't know how to and I didn't want to disappoint a lot of people," she writes.

Kardashian says she takes "full responsibility for my actions and decisions," adding "it just didn't turn out to be the fairy tale I had so badly hoped for."

"I want a family and babies and a real life so badly that maybe I rushed into something too soon," she says.
Kardashian and Humphries dated for nine months before marrying in August.

She goes on to say that reports that she made millions of dollars off the wedding "are simply not true and it makes me so sad to have to even clarify this." Twitter and Facebook were filled with anti-Kardashian sentiments on Tuesday, including some photos that were reposted thousands of times.

One photo showed the happy wedding couple gazing adoringly at each other above large type that read, "If you think gay marriage cheapens the institution, two words ... Kim Kardashian."

In her post, Kardashian says she plans to "donate the money for all the gifts to the Dream Foundation."
The couple's $172,000 wedding registry included such items as a $1,650 coffee pot and two $1,250 sterling silver vegetable spoons.

Kardashian does not mention Humphries, who last played for the NBA's New Jersey Nets, in the 370-word message.

Did you notice that you said "fairy tale" and "real life" in the same breath? My friend Mike and I did. Did you say it without thinking, or is this really how you feel?

If it's the former, then no harm, no foul. It took me until I was 25 years old to realize that the squiggly design in front of the "ay" at the Bay was actually a stylized B. We all do stupid stuff.

However, if it's the latter, I have something to say to you. I read that you are 31. I'm 32, so as your elder I'm gonna give you some education:

I think I understand what might be happening here. You might be falling victim to one of the saddest, most dangerous attitudes in our society that takes aim at every woman on the North American continent: your life cannot begin without a man. And the perfect man for you will make your life deliriously happy every single day, because that's what love does. This man will be your prince, he will make your dreams come true, which you couldn't possibly do on your own. NOW that you've met him, your life can start. Now your life is real and worth living. WRONG-O, Kim.

Don't get it twisted: I'm not saying it's not wonderful to have a boyfriend/partner/girlfriend/husband/wife. Relationships are wonderful and if you choose to have one, I wish you the best of luck. I'm saying it doesn't make a life; it simply adds to one, no more, no less. And there are several different ways to add to a life.

We get this kinda shit from Hollywood and Disney and a bunch of other places. Sometimes it comes from our own families. Sometimes it comes from within and we're not sure how it got there. Regardless, this shit must stop. You have said you want a family, so it should be of paramount importance to you that we launch a per-emptive strike against this attitude before our future little girls are born. We need to destroy it systematically, by deconstructing each part one at a time. And in this case, the problems are perfectly quoted by yourself:

1. "the fairy tale I so wanted to be real":

A fairy tale is not real. A fairy tale is exactly that: an unrealistic tale. A story. A fiction. A yarn. NOT real life. Fiction is in our lives for a reason, but the reason is not so we can get it confused with real life. Mmmmmkay?

In fairy tales, love saves the day. It (sometimes literally) saves lives but it above all makes life worth living. Get ready here Kim, because I'm going to say something you won't like (actually, this is Mike's line, but I'm going to borrow it): Love. Is. Not. Going. To. Save. You.

It's just impossible, Kim. Love from something outside of yourself can never, ever be enough to fix a person who doesn't love themselves. If you never do anything else in this world, if you never contribute a single thing, that's okay if you understand that your primary job in this life is one thing: learn how to love yourself. Period, Amen. The alternative is just a fancy, roundabout way of being completely irresponsible. Responsible people are responsible for their whole lives. They don't rely on others to save them. They don't need that. These are people who can fall in love deeply, the real, lasting love that spans decades. Loving yourself means you can truly love others. You can give of yourself because there is lots to give.

When we start to believe that unreal goals, expectations, emotions and situations are real and even achievable (or worse, something we are entitled to), we get into trouble. Real life cannot be a picture, a story, a tv show. Of course things don't work out when we live in a fairy tale because life interferes. Even a life as magnified and extreme as yours still has it's practicalities. Really, we're adults here. No more of this, okay?

You may get married again one day, and you may have the babies you say you want. As I said there is nothing wrong with wanting those things. Those things are wonderful. There is something very wrong with thinking that having them is what will give you a "real life". Which brings me to my next point:

2. "I want a family and babies and a real life"

Real life is getting up early for work and a zit that won't go away and working hard and that great book you're reading and your best friends and putting your child to sleep and cooking dinner and laughing until a little bit of pee comes out. That's real life. Not anything else. Just that. The shit you are living now. Just deal, Kim. A life doesn't magically start when you get something you want. Remember that great John Lennon quote, "life is what happens when you are making other plans"? He said that because he was a genius. Don't let your life go by unappreciated because you were too focused on a future that has no guarantee of ever existing. You have a great life. You're happy and healthy and one of the most beautiful women in the world. Work it out.

I wish you the best of luck Kim, because whether you or I or anyone else likes it or not, you are in the public eye and little girls are going to look up to you. And you have a responsibility to them. It will behoove you to show them a woman who loves herself, as that is what they should be striving for.

J :)

PS What's a vegetable spoon?