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The Cookie Monster

January 15, 2013 Comments off

The Cookie Monster

I am the original Cookie Monster. I am pretty sure that Jim Henson based his character on me. Henson’s Cookie Monster and I do not look alike, and whereas the furry-blue version speaks in short, clipped sentences, “Me want cookie!” I don’t mince words. I get to the heart of the matter right away. “Cookie!” is all that I need to say. Now I don’t know if my namesake has discriminating taste, but I sure do. I will not waste calories on something that is not worth it. For example, I do not like store-bought cookies. I should mention there is one exception. Kebbler makes a cookie reminiscent of the Girl Scout Thin Mints, although much better in my opinion. (Sorry Girl Scouts) They are called Grasshopper cookies. The only way to eat them, however, is to keep them in the freezer and take one, who am I kidding, a few, out when you need a fix. A warning. It may be necessary to limit oneself to a certain number ahead of time. See if you can stick to your bargain. I rarely can.

I am also very picky when it comes to homemade cookies. I do not consider tubs of dough that you scoop out, or rolls of dough that you buy, cut and bake, homemade. Homemade cookies involve starting with all of the separate ingredients and going on from there. I do have some recipes that I make again and again, as they are really worth repeating. Some recipes, although they are good, I don’t feel the need to make again. Instead, I go on to something new.

In November’s Food and Wine Magazine, there was a recipe titled “Chocolate Brownie Cookie”. Their editor-in-chief Dana Cowin, it was written, declared that this was the most delicious cookie that she ever had. Yes, those cookies are very, very good. However, I have never been a fan of talking in absolutes. There so many really good cookies out there. I cannot dub one the best of all. I can dub one a damn good cookie. Sometimes the the damn good cookie can depend on my mood, or on what ingredients we might have around. Sometimes it is the one that I just bit into.

Back to the Chocolate Brownie Cookies. The cookie has the best parts of a brownie, the crispy outside, with a soft interior. However, since they are a cookie, the crisp exterior to soft interior ratio is so much higher. The best I have ever tasted? No. But they are damn good cookies.

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Getting Things Done

January 15, 2013 Comments off

I have come to realize that I need to stop second-guessing myself, and just get my posts up. I have too many drafts, all in different stages of completion. Every time I read one, I change a word here and there, and then tell myself that I need to come back and read it again at a later time. Well, Jackie, this isn’t going to be the next “Great American Novel”. Let’s get going.

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When life gives you fresh Dover sole…

October 17, 2012 Comments off

 … have it as often as possible. For us it was 4 nights out of 7.  A local market had an amazing special on Dover sole.  Shawn has perfected his own recipe for Sole à La Meunière based on this recipe from the Balthazar Cookbook on the Leite’s Culinaria web-site.

The big difference between the Balthazar recipe and Shawn’s, and it is a BIG difference, is the amount of butter that goes into the brown butter sauce. The recipe calls for 1 ½ sticks of butter, just for the sauce. I know, Julia, more butter, more butter. I am sure that the stick and a half of butter would be absolutely marvelous. However, by cutting the butter down to just a few tablespoons, we were able to eat this dish 4 nights out of 7.

Wine pairing is an important part of our meals. Shawn does a wonderful job matching flavors. We found that Navarro’s 2011 Chenin Blanc was a beautiful match for the sole. The wine is crisp and lively. The acidity balances nicely with the fish and the sauce. The vineyard where these grapes are grown was sold to someone who wants to use the grapes themselves, so, sadly, after 15 years of making a beautiful, very affordable wine with them, the 2011 will be the last vintage for Navarro’s Chenin.

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Jimmy Durante

October 9, 2012 Comments off

Jimmy Durante Before

Jimmy Durante After

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Bottarga and a Lesson Learned (Again)

August 31, 2012 Comments off

Our friends, We3, back from 7 weeks in Italy, came over for dinner Saturday night. As it usually happens when we get together, we cooked, nibbled, sipped wine, chatted, cooked another course, nibbled, sipped wine, chatted, and repeated these steps again. Counting the cooking time, it was about a 5 hour meal. Very civilized and absolutely delightful. We3 had brought back a package of bottarga from Italy, and wanted to make one of our courses using it. A lesson that gets thrown at me now and then is the “Don’t assume, or form an opinion, until I give something a chance.” lesson. It was going to repeat itself that night.

 Chris’ description of bottarga was not enticing at all. He described it as salted and dried fish roe sacks. In this case, mullet from Sardinia. If I had read the Wikipedia definition before Chris made the salad, I would have wanted to try it even less than I did at the time.

 Chris whipped together a lovely looking salad with thinly shaved fennel and French radishes, very lightly dressed in some olive oil and lemon juice. He grated the bottarga and mixed it into the salad. As a finishing touch, Chris grated some more over the top of the beautifully arranged mound on the plates. The bottarga, in appearance, reminded me of an orange-yellow tobiko. I looked at the pile of salad on my plate, wondering how, after I politely tried a few bites, would I ever be able to eat the whole thing. Well, I ended up wishing that there was even more of that salad for me to eat. It was absolutely delicious. And, because of the path the bottarga had taken to get to our house, it was so very special. With supreme generosity, the remainder of the bottarga was left for us to enjoy. And we will enjoy, not only another salad, but also the feeling of being in Italy, enjoying with our friends, where that bottarga came from.

Categories: Uncategorized
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