"Bacon is the candy of meat."

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Not just the candy of meat, but candy

Good morning!!!! I mean it! Really good morning!!!!!

My niece slept over last night, so to make things EXTRA SPECIAL for the kids, I did up an extravaganza of sugar for breakfast. Chocolate chip pancakes, mixed fruit, maple syrup, etc. But the real sugar fix came from the CARAMELIZED BACON from the hilarious Patricia Marx recipe published a couple weeks ago in the Times. I did not spice it up at all, as kids were eating it, but when I make it just for me me me I certainly will. Mr. Gateau is a sugar fiend, but not all that crazy about sugary bacon, so there was extra for me, and actually some left over in the freezer. It was particularly delicious when paired with fresh pineapple slices.

So I'm sugared up, caffeinated, and ready to face the day.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Pantry Cooking

You should know that I'm not from the great housekeepers. I don't keep my dry goods in individual, labeled canisters that all fit just so into the cabinet. My spices are not alphabetized. You could probably find pork chops from 2004 in the back of my freezer. There are odd cans and bottles and bags of pasta and beans all over the place.

So from time to time it becomes necessary to cook something incorporating all these dribs and drabs to make room for better, fresher stuff, but also I am dead lazy. In furtherance of this project, I like to make use of Trader Joe's simmer sauces (also thereby eliminating a jar from the pantry). Last night I pulled one of those out (masala, spiked with a little extra cayenne) and poured it over a can of chickpeas (drained), a bag of frozen peas (thawed) and some leftover roasted cauliflower. I didn't feel like taking the time to make a pot of rice, so I made couscous instead, cooked in the contents of an 8 oz. box of chicken stock. Served with a little Greek yogurt and some mango chutney we had in the fridge, this was actually a delicious dinner in the ethnic comfort food category.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Byoo-tee-ful soup

I made this red lentil soup from the New York Times tonight for dinner, and it's a keeper. It's very very quick and easy to prepare, and it packs maximum taste value. If you have a stick blender, and I am constantly delighted I bought mine a year or two ago, this is a one-pot preparation, so the only things to clean up are the pot, the blender business end, a cutting board, a knife, and a spoon to stir it. It's soup, so it's nice on a cold night like this, but with it's bright orange-red color, its lemony taste with a spike of fresh cilantro, and its spicy kick, it brings a taste of spring and wouldn't be out of place in warmer weather.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Real Simple, for real

I made a delicious, relatively quick dinner last night from a recipe I found in the current issue of Real Simple. Unfortunately, the recipe isn't on their website yet, and I don't feel like typing it out, but it involved dredging chicken breasts in a mixture of flour, cumin, lemon zest, and salt and pepper, browning them in olive oil, and then quickly cooking (in the pan you did the chicken in) some shallots, lemon juice, white wine, and green olives, then sticking the chicken back in for a brief while to mix it all together. I made it with some couscous, which takes about 5 minutes to make, and there we had an actual, tasty dinner in about 20 minutes.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Good Cheesy Fun

In my never-ending quest to eat more meals composed primarily of fat, this evening we had opportunity to enjoy the first installment of a gift of six months of cheese from Murray's in NYC. Mr. Gateau's father and stepmother gave us this gift last year as well, and it was the highlight of the year.

Last year we ended up attacking each package ourselves, and while the cheese is always exquisite, it was frankly hard to use it all up before the remnants became sub-optimal. This year, we've decided to share the joy and use each delivery as an excuse to have friends over. This evening we invited a family in our neighborhood with kids roughly the age of ours -- their boy and Young Master Gateau were in preschool together, and are "best friends" as far as kids their age can conceive of the term. The parents are fast becoming close friends, the kind of people you can call at the last minute to get together for a cookout or something, and they share their stash of Chilean hot sauce with generosity.

While the kids ran around screaming and periodically snatching hunks of baguette and apples off the cheese board, we sampled two Vermont cheeses (a lightly pasteurized goat and a raw cow) and an aged French goat, along with several baguettes, crackers, apples, grapes, a roasted pepper-goat cheese-herb spread, lemon-marinated olives, and oh yes, two bottles of white wine. I'll post the cheese details when I have recovered somewhat, but it was all delectable. This kind of picnic in the living room is pretty much my favorite way to eat dinner, and it was especially nice to share it with friends.

Miss Cake will be up next month, so watch out.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Daily Bittman

My time-honored approach to holiday shopping is the old "one gift for you, one for me" method, so while buying myself stocking stuffers, I picked up the How to Cook Everything page-a-day calendar for 2008. It's actually a recipe box stuffed with excellent, simple Minimalist recipes, and my only complaint is that you don't get 366 of them, but a few days share each page. However, it comes with month and type of dish dividers so they can be organized, you can take them with you, and it's going to be very helpful at that time of day when you sit there at your desk going "what the hell am I going to make for dinner?"

Today's recipe is for "Sweet Simmered Pork Chops" in a soy-sherry-ginger sauce that doesn't even require you to brown the chops first. I'm definitely going for it.

This dish was AMAZING and easy. The only problem was that after I removed the cooked chops to the oven to keep warm while I reduced the sauce, I got caught up on the Internet and let it burn. So I had to remake the sauce, but it wasn't that much of a big deal, and so worth it.

Eat your heart out, Wimpy

Woo woo woo! The Shake Shack is now accepting orders by phone!

For those of you outside NYC, The Shake Shack is a very, very fine hamburger stand in Madison Square Park in the Flatiron District, and it's so popular that in the summer you can wait 45 minutes just to place your order. The one drawback: $25 minimum, so force your co-workers to order with you. They won't be sorry. (via peterwknox and soupsoup)

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Proving once again that bacon makes it all ok

Probably lots of you read this latest Mark Bittman list of simple appetizers. I did, and it's time to close down my kitchen, because one of them is the best thing in world, and will simply never be surpassed, at least chez Cake: cut up pears into little pieces, sprinkle with salt, sugar, and a bit of cayenne, and put a piece of bacon onto each one. Eat.

Oh my god. Unreal. I'm serious. You should go make it right now.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Fishie Fishie Fish Fish

Here is something good -- frozen Alaskan Wild Salmon filets with "grill" flavoring I've been getting at Costco. One box has 6 individually vacuum packed filets, and they thaw in about 15 minutes or so in a bowl of water. The seasoning is probably basically paprika, salt, and pepper, with maybe a little lemon flavor, and all I do is bake them at 350 for about 15 minutes, then serve with a little Greek yogurt on the side and a salad. Presto! Low-carb, fish-oil-laden, virtually work-free dinner that isn't even embarrassing to serve for guests.