Some crazy deadlines and projects all decided to make themselves due at the same time. Can you imagine that?
I’ll be back shortly!
Mother Nature is a wonderful woman. She gives air, sunshine, water and land and only asks us to respect her and take care of her offerings. She also silently requires us to cater and tolerate her whims. I understand the deal. It’s a dance we’ve been doing since the beginning of time.
However, right now, Mama Nature has one-upped us and I just can’t sit here in silence a moment longer. Every year, right about now, I get giddy with excitement over the season’s first California cherries. Yes, I know that in just a bit I’ll be able to indulge my cravings in Pacific Northwest cherries (which are always utterly fantastic) but seeing the first little crimson splash of a California cherry lets me know that a long, wonderful summer is on the way.
Well folks, those cherries are here. And you’ll need to rob a bank to enjoy them.
My produce guy informed me that cherries are here but cost a pretty penny due to a variety of factors. They’ve never been cheap, but when they cost $15.99 a pound one is more inclined to wait just a few weeks to see what happens. I’ll hit the farmer’s market in Santa Monica this weekend to get some more info, and if all else fails I know there will be new arrivals in the next few weeks. In the meantime, I bit the bullet and indulged this week and in order to compensate for the cash spent I’m available for laundry, dog walking and dance lessons. I do a mean electic slide.
Easy Cherries Jubilee
As much as I love cherries I’m not particularly gung-ho about cherry desserts. And I won’t even touch the stuff out of a can. However, I do love ice cream. And fresh cherries. This is my easy take on Cherries Jubilee and is simple and quick. I omit the arrowroot and cornstarch found in other recipes as I don’t mind it not so thick. It never lasts too long anyway.
2 cups of fresh pitted cherries
1/2 cup of sugar
1 pint of vanilla ice cream
1/2 cup Cognac
Using a non-stick pan, cook pitted cherries and sugar over medium heat for 8-9 minutes or until sugar dissolves, stirring frequently. In a small pan, heat the cognac. Once heated, light and pour the flaming cognac into the cherry mixture in the skillet. Spoon flaming cherries with their syrup over the vanilla ice cream in four dessert bowls. Work fast and please use caution when igniting the cognac.
Some interesting facts about Matt:
Did you know…
• That I was born on February, Friday the 13th at 3:13pm and that I’m left-handed, born with a bifid uvula and gay? The horrors!
• That I had my first job at age 7 and at various times I’ve been employed as a tour guide, an actor, a go-go dancer, and a photographer?
• That I play piano and violin? I come from a very musical family.
• That I can barely comprehend html, coding, RSS feeds and all the things people like my friend Mike do so well?
Ok, let me just come out and say it: I really wish my brain would understand all things online. With the exception of entering a URL I don’t know much and I’ve always been envious of others who are so well versed in the world wide web. With that said I’ve received a few emails about the new site and some small technical issues that need attention. And I thank you so much for that. And I also want to thank Mike because I am doing my best to butter him up for help. He’s brilliant.
So bear with me, I’ll get everything up and running soon.
A man whose imperfections and shortcomings you’re bound to adore sooner or later,
Because I’m up to my eyeballs in the design of a package for a new
organic milk and I’ve just finished re-reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma
again, I’m opting out of photos and words and giving you an artistic
representation of how I feel about the organic industry and those who
market organic foods (I believe I am a part of that group as well.
Color me guilty as charged.)
P.S. I’m thoroughly qualified to
make fun of organics as I started my career with Whole Foods Market
many, many, many years ago back in the original location. Keep your
angry emails to yourselves, folks. I’m just venting!
What is it
about vinegar plus ingredients that make me such a happy boy? Is it the
complimentary tang of anything that’s cured in brine brings? Is it that
zippy puckerface that follows after chomping on a pickled cucumber? Or
have I just encountered temporary culinary fatigue and needed something
loud and strong to shock me out of my lull?
Perhaps it was D, all of the above.
me, there are just some things that cannot and should not be enjoyed
without their pickled counterpart. I refuse to enjoy paté and baguette
without cornichon. I frown if a burger doesn’t have pickles waiting for
me under its bun. A ploughman’s lunch isn’t a ploughman’s lunch without
Branston pickle. Pickles, in whatever form, provide that sharp tangy
balance that pairs beautifully with the smooth and savory. It’s that
last crash of a symbol in a symphony, that sparkling sour kick in a
One of my favorite things to do in the pickling department
is Zuni’s red onion pickles. If you’ve eaten there and ordered a burger
you know what I’m talking about: those zesty,hot pink rings that adorn
the side of the burger, lending an intriguing spice flavor that lives
between their savory and salty notes. I always ask for extra, will
happily pick them off the plates of dining friends, and just about go
crazy for them.
Besides, anything that bright in color has to be loved.
red onion pickles are quite easy to make at home and don’t require the
weeks of resting in brine to achieve their flavor (although they do get
better with age.) The process must be done in steps and it may seem
elaborate, but it’s not. Skipping the steps gives you an onion that
isn’t quite as flavorful and not the same texture. You want them soft
but still crunchy, and the multiple cooking delivers just that.
from their unusual hot pink color, the onions really shine in recipes.
They’re easily identifiable on a burger and don’t get lost amidst sharp
cheese and smoky patties. They’re also equally delicious on sandwiches,
with grilled fare, and served with cheese. I love them on grilled
sausages, sort of a fancy hot dog, if you will. However you enjoy them,
they’re definitely worth the afternoon effort and bring a little Zuni
home with every bite.
Red Onion Pickles adapted from the Zuni Cookbook
notes: You’ll want to prepare these in a stainless steel pot and use
stainless steel tongs or a wooden spoon. Aluminum cookware can leave
the onions with an off color and deny you the gorgeous hot pink hue
that you want.
Ingredients for about 2 pints
1 lb firm red onions (about 2 medium onions, although you can add more and increase quantity)
for the brine:
3 cups distilled white vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar
a cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
a few whole cloves
a few allspice berries
a small dried chili
a star anise pod (Zuni recipe says it’s optional, I wouldn’t skip this part!)
2 bay leaves
a few whole black peppercorns
Combine the vinegar, sugar, and all the spices in the stainless steel
pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 3
minutes. Turn off the heat and let stand to allow the spices to infuse
2. Peel the onions, trim the ends and slice 3/8 inch thick. Separate the slices into rings, discarding any skin and tough bits.
Uncover the brine and bring to a boil over high heat. Immediately add
about 1/3 of the onion rings and stir them under. They will turn hot
pink almost instantly (YAY! says Matt.) As soon as the bring begins to
simmer around the edges, about 20 seconds, stir them under again and
slide the pot off the heat. Immediately remove the onions with a
slotted spoon, skimmer, or tongs and spread on a platter or cookie
sheet to cool completely. The onions will still be firm. Repeat with
the remaining onions, in two batches.
4. Once the onions have
cooled (you can stick them in the fridge to cool them quickly), repeat
the entire process, again in three batches, two more times, always
adding the onions to boiling brine, pulling them promptly as the brine
begins to simmer again, and cooling them completely after each bath.
After the third round of blanching, thoroughly chill the brine, then
add the pickled onions. This slightly tedious process saturates the
onions with the fragrant brine without really cooking them, a process
that leaves them crunchy. Zuni notes that without this process you’re
left with dull, regularly colored onion rings.
5. Place in jars,
cover and store refrigerated. The cookbook says they will keep
indefinitely, but I’ve never gone longer than 2 weeks before they’re
completely gone. Enjoy!
just read a pretty fascinating article on Homaro Cantu of Moto in
Chicago. Cantu is one of the gastronomical scientific renegades who is
attempting to change the way we eat and think about food by fusing the
science lab with the kitchen. You know what I’m talking about: menus on
edible paper, synthetic champagne, food disguised as shapes that reveal
their true identities once bitten, lasers, nitrogen, helium, class IV
lasers, I could go on. I can’t knock it because I’ve never tried his
cuisine, but something tells me that I’m content with my kitchen and
just a few pots and pans. I’m a simple guy.
Maybe it’s timing or
irony, but the second I finished the article a package arrived on my
desk. I opened it to find an assortment of skewers that promise
"15-minute flavor". Seasoned Skewers are flavored skewers that are
infused with essential oils and herbal extracts in a variety of
combinations. You put your unseasoned food on the skewer, wait 15
minutes, and cook.
Oh no, more food magic! I just don’t know if I can take it. I mean, what’s wrong with marinating the old fashioned way?
Reluctantly I gave the skewers a try. I skewered shrimp, scallops and vegetables on the sticks, waited a bit and grilled.
Can you say amazed?
Can you say ingenious?
really had one of those "why didn’t someone think of this sooner?" kind
of moments. It’s clever, tasty, all natural, and fat and sodium free,
too. The skewers come in Honey Bourbon, Citrus Rosemary, Thai Coconut
Lime, Mexican Fiesta, Garlic Herb and Indian Mango Curry. I tried the
Thai Coconut Lime and sure enough my food was flavored perfectly.
Pretty aromatic, I’d say.
Ok, so it might not be polymer box
filled with foam, but Seasoned Skewers sure do the trick when you don’t
want to do it yourself.