"Bacon is the candy of meat."

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Late-Breaking Cocktail News

In tonight's continuing coverage of Mlle Gateau's cocktail concocting, we have this update just in. Blood Orange Mojito. Yes, we can confirm that a Blood Orange Mojito has been made and is being consumed at this time. Please stay with us for updates throughout the night.

There are plenty of fish in the sea

We really don't eat enough fish. I mean, for one thing, it's really good for you, and another thing is that it's ridiculously easy to cook. I was all intimidated about cooking fish for years until Miss Cake finally got me over that. The reason we don't eat enough of it is that you pretty much have to buy it the day you cook it, and with my crazy schedule, I almost never have time to stop at the market on my way home from work.

But last night I did, and so I bought us each a nice rainbow trout filet. Here is how you must cook it (Trout a la Miss Cake):

1. Rinse and pat dry the fish filets.

2. Mix together some cornmeal with salt, pepper, and, if desired, some cayenne. Dredge the filets in the cornmeal mixture on both sides.

3. Heat up some olive oil in a skillet. A non-stick is nice. Put the fish in the hot oil on the fleshy side and cook until golden brown. Flip and cook until the skin side is brown too.

4. Put on plate (optional) and eat.

This whole thing takes about 10 minutes from start to finish.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

In which we kick off the summer eating season

And so Memorial Day Weekend has come and gone. It strikes me that whooping it up in celebration of traffic jams on the way to the beach and the consumption of fine processed meat products may not be exactly what was in mind when a holiday to remember the fallen soldiers was conceived, but far be it from me to put a damper in it.

I spent the weekend in western Massachusetts visiting with my parents and my sister and her family. Mr. Gateau joined us briefly, but mostly I had to cook in between handling the little Gateaux, who are not all that relaxing to deal with, frankly. Still, we managed to eat.

Saturday dinner -- my friend Sarah gave me a recipe for tarragon grilled chicken, which came out very well. You smush together some tarragon, garlic, and olive oil, and let the chicken (which you have salted and peppered) sit in that for a while, then grill it, and serve it with a fresh tomato sauce you make by sticking tomatoes, garlic, tarragon, olive oil, S&P, and balsamic vinegar in a food processor. You don't even cook it. I like this in a recipe. We had that with corn, salad, and string beans, plus some nice chilled Greek white wine. For dessert we had the best effing cherry pie I have ever had. Even by the excellent standards of Taft Farms where we buy our pies, this was spectacular. The cherries were sweet-tart and really juicy, the filling was not at all gummy, and the tartness was balanced by sugar sprinkled on top of the incredibly light and flaky crust. And then I was an ass and turned down taking the leftovers home because of some misguided notion that I am actually on a diet.

Sunday started off with excellent bagels and lox from the Great Barrington Bagel Co. which has not only the best bagels and lox in the Berkshires, but among the best bagels and lox you can get anywhere. These are old fashioned bagels, about half the size of what you get in NYC these days, and custom-smoked fish that is just incredible. The whitefish salad is basically mashed smoked whitefish without much more.

Sunday night we did flank steak, and I was in a fajita kind of mood, so I organized all the accoutrements, including some red beans I cooked up with a bunch of spices and half a bottle of dark beer for good measure. This was a good idea. Also grilled a number of veg, including rings of Vidalia onion. My father made sangria under my exacting supervision, which involved saying things like "Now dump in the bottle of wine. Good, now toss in a glug of brandy. Oh come on, don't be stingy."

By Monday we were all exhausted, and so went out for brunch. Dinner was hamburgers and hot dogs with the leftover grilled vegetables and some organic brand of baked beans. Not as good as the regular supermarket kind, but they were adequate. The meats were good, the location was spectacular, and the company didn't suck either.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Born to hand chive, oh yeah (hey, you try dreaming up these titles)

Ok, here's another brief recipe. Sort of a recipe. Anyway, I got these garlic chives at the Union Square Greenmarket, mostly because I love anything garlic (including the garlic ice cream I once had at The Stinking Rose in San Francisco) and I'd never had them before. Acting pursuant to my theory "When in doubt, saute," I chopped them up (after washing them, of course), sauteed them with red pepper flakes until they were slightly crispy, and salted them. Put them over white rice. Pretty good.

Because we are not that normal, Mr. Cake and I had them for dinner, but for those of you who are more normal, they'd make a nice side dish.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Red Globes

Here's what I enjoy:

Take red globe radishes. Wash and slice into thin slices. Take a nice crusty baguette of some kind. Slice as though you're going to use it to make a sandwich. Spread a bit of butter on it. Sprinkle with nice salt -- I like Maldon sea salt. Place a bunch of the radish slices on the salted and buttered bread. Eat.

Ok, it sounds weird, but I swear it's totally yummy.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

My Green Thumb

My garden is a thing of, well, chaos and insanity. I like to plant and grow stuff, but I don't much care for reading about all the little things you're supposed to obsess over, like amount of sunlight, soil quality, deadheading, and generally coddling the little tender shoots. I like to plant the stuff and occasionally water it, and yank out the weeds when I remember to. I have a small kitchen garden with herbs and a few kid-friendly vegetables like cucumbers, string beans, and peas.

So far this year, the tarragon I planted last year is coming back in force, way better than it was at any time last summer, and it's only spring. I love tarragon, but I'm having trouble thinking of ways to use this bounty. So far my ideas are:
  • Stuff it into a whole fish and grill
  • Put it in chicken salad
  • Put it in salad dressings
  • Add it to Mark Bittman's vinegar chicken recipe
  • Mash it up with shallots and olive oil and make a sort of pesto to spread on chicken and fish

I once had a cocktail (at this fancy cocktail bar in Vancouver that made a big fuss about using fresh fruits and herbs in all their drinks) that used fresh basil. I wonder if there is a way to incorporate fresh tarragon into a drink.

So if anyone has any brilliant ideas for what to do with a lot of tarragon, post them!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Soft Pretzels: Food, Craft, or Both?

Mr. Gateau is constantly working late or going on business trips, leaving me with the two petit Gateaux to care for, entertain, and amuse. Thus, finding ways to combine nourishment with fun is a win-win for this exhausted mother (the other win-win is the website I found containing scans of all the local take-out menus). It occurred to me that it would be fun and tasty to make soft pretzels. And I was right.

Pretzel dough is great because, although yeasted, you don't let it rise until you've shaped them, so there is a lot of instant gratification, if you want it, along with getting to squish it with your hands and/or punch its lights out, which is a nice perq, if, for example, you spent your entire week at work saving your clients from themselves. If you don't want to shape them right away, you can stick the dough in the fridge overnight. Shaping them is like working with springy clay, and the more you squash it and squeeze it, the more integrated and workable it becomes, which is excellent with a five year old. Also, you get to use a pastry brush to paint them with egg wash, and sprinkling happens. We just used coarse salt, but you can get all fancy with parmesan or sesame seeds or cinnamon sugar if you want to.

I had only a cup of white flour left in the house, so it was 1/3 white and 2/3 whole wheat, which turned out fine, and I feel less diet-guilty for cramming them into my mouth at regular intervals since they came out of the oven last night. Which means we'll have to make more soon. Real soon.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Things I Do for Cookiestuffs

Ok, folks, it's time to close down the blog, because I have found the most disgusting candy ever in the history of mankind. It's called Mallow Fries, and that's right, it's marshmallows (or, rather, "marshmallows") in the shape of french fries in a McDonald's-looking sort of container. See in that photo where it says "Great Tasting Marshamallow"? It's a venomous lie from start to finish. The "marshmallow" is like nothing you've encountered on earth, unless perhaps you're a chemist working for the UPS Store trying to develop new types of packing peanuts -- it's sort of sub-Circus Peanuts-grade stuff that reminded me of that chemical foam you use to fill in spaces when you're installing pipes. Ew.

Plus! It comes with candy ketchup! Yes, that's right -- candy ketchup. Sour candy ketchup. I mean, WTF? Who puts sour anything on french fries? Anyway, it's basically sour Karo syrup with red flavoring. I really don't even like to think about it.

I ate this stuff. For you people. It was even embarrassing to buy -- I'm pretty sure the Walgreen's girl was sort of averting her eyes and biting the inside of her cheek to keep from laughing her ass off at me as she rang it up. I hope you feel duly guilty.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Cocktails: The Entire Point of Warm Weather

I've been hitting the cocktail shaker again, now that it's reliably warm and I'm not pregnant. Here are some of the hits so far:
  • Sunny Blue Sky Cocktail (vodka, Hpnotiq, pineapple juice)
  • Blood Orange Cosmopolitan (vodka, Cointreau, Rose's Lime Juice, blood orange nectar)
  • Mojito (with fresh garden mint)
  • Pretty Dirty Martini (vodka martini with Kalamata olive juice and olives, touch of vermouth)
  • Tropical White Wine Sangria (fruity dry white wine, assorted frozen fruit, such as pineapple, mango, peaches, berries, touch of fruit juice, touch of soda, good glug of brandy)
  • Pink Grapefruit Margarita

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Sensible Advice

When Mark Bittman is on the money, he is on the money, and today he devotes his Minimalist column in the New York Times to excellent advice about how to equip a kitchen quite adequately for $200, $300 if you want to add some nice-to-haves. I myself always fall for the good looking/prestigious temptations, and yet I reach for my old Farberware over my All-Clad more often than not, and get tons of use out of the sheet pans we got at Costco 9 years ago.

Contrary to Bittman's view, a bread machine is nearly indispensable in my house, because Mr. Gateau has perfected his whole wheat bread recipe and hasn't missed a week in at least five years. I know Bittman insists you can just as easily learn to make your own bread by hand, but with our non-freelance-writer schedules, there is a big difference between dumping some ingredients in and letting a machine do the rest, and going through kneadings, punching-downs, and baking.

And once in a while I do pick up nifty equipment recommendations from watching TV chefs. After watching Nigella Lawson quickly mince herbs with a mezzaluna, I got one, and find it incredibly useful for herbs, garlic, and other items I may want in a fine mince (such as shallots for Mark Bittman's awesome vinegar chicken recipe).

Top tips from today's column: get a good pair of tongs (I love tongs!) and don't bother buying more than one pot lid, as it's a hassle to hunt down the correct size one and you can just use the same one or a plate or whatever anyway.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Not just for hippies anymore

Listen, I know yogurt isn't the most exciting subject on earth. In fact, I think most yogurt is highly overrated. The increased availability of Greek-style yogurt (especially the Total with a little compartment of honey) and whole milk varieties are good developments, but most yogurt is either insipid or overloaded with food coloring and other junk. If you're feeding your kids blue yogurt with candy sprinkles because you think it's "healthy," you should really consider switching over to something sweet but honest, such as Kozy Shack pudding, which kicks all kinds of ass (especially the rice pudding and chocolate varieties).

However, there is one yogurt that I seriously crave, and apparently so does my entire town, because almost every time I go to the one store in town that sells it, they are fully stocked in all flavors except for the one I want. I speak, of course, of Emmi Swiss Premium Lowfat Yogurt in the amazing Pink Grapefruit variety.

It's lowfat but really creamy, has a great grapefruit flavor with little flecks of fruit in it, and comes in a pretty pink container. I'm sure the other flavors are good, but I don't even care to try them. Seriously, if you can find this stuff, you should buy as much of it as you can find on the shelf. And then send it to me.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Dogs on the Grill

It was another beautiful weeked, and that called for grilling. On Saturday, I put together some really tasty chicken kebabs -- the chicken marinated in lots of lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, rosemary, and basil, and I used small whole tomatoes, zucchini, red onion, yellow pepper, and mushrooms to make the kebabs. It's a one-dish meal, and also gets us to eat more vegetables than certain ones of us otherwise might.

Yesterday we just did up some beef hot dogs with toasted buns, but I also threw some hot Italian sausage on, and it was great. I wasn't sure what to dress it with, so I had it plain, but I think some sauteed onions would have been nice, or even maybe an aioli.

I also concocted a ridiculous girlie cocktail out of vodka, a bit of Hpnotiq blue liqueur, and a tiny splash of pineapple juice, which came out a beautiful sky blue color and was tasty.