Tag Archives: turning 30

The First in the Nation Lobster Caucus

Soooooo…..yeah. I’ve been absent.  Basically, real life crept up on me and then hogged all my time.  Real life can be very demanding. Damn, Real Life…lighten up.

BUT- I’m back and with a LONG overdue post.  The culmination of my 30 Before 30 List: a live lobster.  I mentioned the lobster to some friends (who had already sampled Beef Wellington and Duck L’Orange) and they requested to be present there.  Over drinks the event turned into a “BYOL” party.

Yes, BYOL means Bring Your Own Lobster.

Our friends arrived….lobsters in tow:

You're the guest of honor!

We're so excited to have you for dinner! I mean, err....

For those of you who have seen “Julie/Julia” you’ll remember that Julie Powell was haunted by the idea of “offing” a crustacean.  I was significantly less put off by the task, but my dinner guests were practically gleeful about it:

No sign of a guilty conscience.

Not batting an eyelash.

You're enjoying this, aren't you?

Captivating

We boiled 13 Lobster.   Sidenote: Is the plural “lobster” or “lobsters”?

It was a lot of boiling and plunging of lobsters. I think at one point my kitchen was turning into the set of a snuff film, but we pulled through:

Dinner is served!

UNFORESEEN BONUS: Boiled lobster “hold” well.  The first few in the water were still tender and warm by the time we sat down at the table.   We had plenty of first time lobster caucus goers, so I laminated  instructions to help everyone.  But again, there was no hesitation:

15 gallons of boiling water later....

So, 1 pound of butter, 13 lobsters, 8 bottles of wine, and 3 bottles of champagne later….

I. Was. Thirty.

Lobster. Champagne. Friends. Maybe this 30 thing isn't so bad afterall.....

The pictures don’t do it justice.  Our BYOL party was christened with a new more official title and secured itself as an annual tradition.  It even made it onto this year’s Christmas card!

If you forgive my long absence, you might even get a invite for next year.

More soon,

xoxo Flyover Foodie

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Estupido

“There is no untrue proverb” – Don Quixote

Dear Spain,

You are one of my dream destinations.  I already have a travel book all about you!   I would like to pre-apologize for the following account because I pretty much butcher your national dish.  Can I still come visit?  Maybe you could teach me a thing or two.  xoxo, FF

So, yeah.  Paella is harder than I thought.  My research lead me through dozens of different recipes.  Some cook over an open fire.  Some on the grill.  Some with seafood.  Some with chorizo.  Some with eel or rabbit.  And almost all requiring a paella pan.  Uh oh.  We are officially sans paella pan in the Flyover house.

I should have been further concerned when I realized paella was not one of the 28,442 recipes in The Joy of Cooking. ie. Not an average home meal.   I did find one recipe for paella that used a baking method and had made an appearance in Bon Appetit magazine.  Somewhat comforted, I made up my mind that this would be the best option with my lack of fire and pans.

I was buoyed further when Handsome Husband (who had a flirtation with Spain in his younger years) spotted this in the grocery store:

 

Mariscos Mixtos!!

 

FANTASTICO!  This would be my seafood mix for the recipe.   I would still have to cut the recipe since I was making it for two, but this amount of mixed seafood would be almost perfect.

Start by cooking the bacon in your pot, then remove and cook the chicken.  In goes the onion, the rice the pimentos (I also added roasted red peppers), and the saffron.  This will smell delicious and be full of potential:

Next I added the liquid and bring it to a simmer.   This mixture gets poured into a baking dish.   Rinse the seafood…..

 

Cuttlefish, shrimp, mussels, squid, and clams..........OH MY!

 

…and add to the rice mixture with the chicken.  Finally, the peas and the bacon pieces get sprinkled on top.  Cover the dish with foil and pop it into a 450° oven.

 

Pre-Oven

 

The recipe uses clams and mussels in their shells and requires cooking for 45 minutes or until the shells open.  Obviously, I was editing/reducing the recipe so I reduced the cooking time slightly so it wouldn’t be totally dry….maybe 30 minutes total.  And….

 

Post-oven

 

It was still kind of dry.  The reviews of the recipe on Epicurious noted that the seafood tended to get dried out and that the rice could get mushy.  Check and check.

Do I get sympathy points for plating?

 

A poor representation of Spain

 

True Spanish paella should have a crusty bottom and seafood that retains its flavor and texture.  It has a little bit of heat, but also the exotic warmth of the saffron and pimento.   Notsomuch for my paella.

UNFORESEEN BONUS: I learned two things.  1. Those marsicos mixtos would be great in a fun pasta dish.  I fully plan on purchasing those little guys again.  2. Some dishes require special equipment to fully realize their potential.  I have a feeling paella is one of those dishes.

I hate to say it, but I think this was probably my least successful dish of the list.  But I will not hold that against Spain.   And hopefully, Spain will not hold it against me.

I should probably just go there and learn what TRUE paella should taste like.  What do you say, Handsome Husband?  (hint, hint)

xoxo Flyover Foodie

p.s. Our FINAL 30 Before 30 post is coming up asap!!!

Easy Peasy- Ad Hoc Soup

“Soup is cuisine’s kindest course.” – Waldorf Astoria Chef, Louis P. De Gouy, in ‘The Soup Book’

Today is officially the first day of fall (yesterday having been the autumnal equinox-nerd alert!) and I think our taste buds are ready for the transition. So, it finally seems seasonally appropriate to blog about soup.  As opposed to when I MADE the soup and it was 80° out.  Lesson learned.

Repeat after me: “Seasonally appropriate”.

Split pea soup is one of the things I hated when I was young and have grown to appreciate.  Great split pea is creamy, but thick and with a touch of smokiness from the ham.  I found this recipe from Bon Appetit on Epicurious.com that seemed straightforward and classic.  And we’re off….

The basic ingredients are pretty friendly: onions, carrots, celery, and butter.  But you also need pork hocks and split peas.  Um, ok…two new ones for me.  I found split peas with the rice at my grocery store.  They come in a bag and honestly cost like $1. They are dried peas that have been, well split.  Check and check.

I had noticed pork hocks on the top shelf of the meat case before.  They look like a big, tapered bones with a opening at one end.  Mine came two in a pack.  A little scary…but so delicious.  Sidenote: “hock” just sounds hearty, don’ t you think?  When I say it out loud I think my voice even gets a little lower.  Like a woodsman or something.

I don’t really know what a woodsman is.

Ingredients...check out that pork hock!

Back to the soup.  Melt your butter and toss in the chopped veggies.  Once they are soft, in goes the marjoram and then add the pork hocks.

Veggies and pork hock

So, you could say that last step was ad hocYES– my first lawyer/food pun!   So, after a minute add the water (I used 1/2 chicken stock and 1/2 water) and bring it all to a boil.  Reduce the heat and cook, cook, cook.

After an hour cooking

The peas and other veggies will be falling apart by this point.  Remove the hock and set aside.  The recipe calls for pureeing the soup in a blender, but I like to use an immersion blender, which blends right in the pot.  Anything that keeps me from having to move around batches of hot liquid is a good thing.  Trust me.

Blend the soup to desired consistency.  I only partially blended it, because i like my soup to have a little more texture.  Totally personal preference:

Partially blended soup

Next the pork gets cut off the hock (woodsman voice) and goes back into the soup.

Delicious salty, smoked pork!

And we’re ready to serve.  TA-DA!!

Mmmmm..perfect for August weather! (shakes head)

The soup was fan-tastic.  Cooking with the bone adds a richness and a little smokey flavor.  And the pureed peas are a nice smooth texture with the ham.  And it was pleasantly salty, but it seems creamy from the blending of the veggies.

UNFORESEEN BONUS: I made “real” soup.  I mean…this is as hearty and homemade tasting as it gets.  Cooking with the “leftover” bones imparts a richness that you just can’t get otherwise.  Save the leftovers next time you make a ham….trust me on this one.

Oh, and we have a quart of split pea soup in the freezer becuase the day after I made this it was 91°.

xoxo Flyover Foodie

Friday Hot Dish- 9/3

Welcome to the Friday HOT DISH!

This week we are quietly lamenting the unofficial end of summer: Labor Day.  Make the most of this 3 day weekend, so we’ll keep it quick with this week’s HOT DISH!  Enjoy!

1. Yes, summer is over.  Don’t try argue with me about autumn not starting until September 21st. (For you non-nerds, that’s the autumnal equinox.)  It’s officially fall.  You know how I know??  Because I can get Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks!  Pumpkin Spice Latte

2. I stumbled across this an article about an awesome food blog from here in Flyover county. “Lost Recipes Found” is hunting down and recreating vintage recipes from favorite Midwestern restaurants and cookbooks.  All the Marshall Field’s recipes are particularly bittersweet.  (You know what you did, Macys!!)  She is currently researching State Fair blue ribbon winning recipes of the past for her August issue.    I just hope she skips the Jell-O salads…..Lost Recipes Found

3. As your scarfing down the last of the summer ice cream/sorbet/drumsticks/popsicles/gelato/bomb pops you’ll no doubt encounter the temporary yet painful brain freeze.  Like all weird phenomena…there is an scientific explanation.  Brain Freeze

4. When turning 30, one can’t help but consider the physical damage caused during the poor judgment of youth:  fake tanning, high school athletics, not wearing sunscreen, and, well, all four years of college.  I feel like I can at least check one thing off the list.  This might be the best news we’ve gotten in awhile.  Drinkers Live Longer.

Now you can happily enjoy a few more beers in the sun this last week of summer!

I know.  You’re welcome.

xoxo Flyover Foodie

Coq Au Vin

“Why not make daily pleasure out of daily necessity?” – author Peter Mayle

Coq au vin, contrary to my initial impression, is not “fancy” French food.  It actually developed as a way to use the old rooster (the um, coq) in a dish after he was past his prime on the farm.  It’s actually an old and rustic dish and much more of a everyday dish than a fancy indulgence.

And, unlike the soufflé, it won’t judge you for not being able to speak French or asking directions to the Eiffel Tour.  It’s friendly French.

While the traditional recipe calls for a rooster, most contemporary ones, including the recipe I used, substitute a chicken.  Although, I kept thinking of Tom Colicchico on Top Chef in an episode where he kept saying that Casey had NOT made coq au vin because she used a chicken.  Sorry, Tom, but our flyover grocery was out of rooster.

Start by cooking your bacon in the bottom of a large, heavy pot or a dutch oven.  Remove the bacon after its cooked and put the chicken pieces in.  I bought chicken quarters and then broke them down.  Tip: Chicken quarters are insanely inexpensive, so if you get comfortable cutting up chicken, you can be very budget savvy.

The chicken gets browned and removed and in go your chopped veggies to brown in all that yummy flavor.  After the carrots, celery, and garlic are browned the chicken and bacon go back in the pot with the chicken stock, thyme, and dry, red wine.

Half a bottle of dry red wine.

Cooking with wine....a lot of wine.

At this point in the recipe, you can cover the pot and put it in the oven for 30 minutes.  BUT- I didn’t do this.  I just let it simmer away on the top of the stove on low heat while the liquid reduced and let the chicken cook in a bath of wine. See?  So much more easy going than a soufflé!

A bath of wine. Which sounds terribly relaxing.

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