Sunday, February 27, 2011

Oscar Night Drinking.

Tonight I will be watching the Oscars, even though the only movies nominated that I actually saw were The Kids Are All Right, the Facebook movie and Toy Story.  I saw the first two on demand - the only movies I see in theaters anymore are kids' movies, because a) I have kids, and b) I am afraid of the bed bugs.  I'm sure I will see the others at some point, if I remember and I'm not too busy watching I Shouldn't Be Alive on Animal Planet.

It irks me that Natalie Portman will win an Oscar, because she has been absolutely atrocious in every movie she's done since The Professional, and if you don't believe me, take a closer look at Closer.  Sure, she's smart and everything, but that doesn't make her a good actor.  Mike Brown is smart too, but I'm not sure I'd like to see him in a play.  No offense to Mike Brown, who may very well be a master of Restoration Comedy, as well as a prominent astronomer.  But Miss Portman became emaciated for her role in Black Swan, and whenever an actor loses a lot of weight for a role, they tend to get awarded for it, right Tom Hanks?  Whatevs, I really don't care who wins or loses anything, because I certainly don't feel sorry for movie stars not getting trophies.  I don't feel sorry for movie stars, ever.  They are highly paid and that should be all the reward they need, plus it's easy work.  Being a firefighter is hard work, so is being a teacher, also being a welder on a building 150 feet in the air.  That would be hard!

Nevertheless, I love the Oscars!  The glamour, the fashion, and the cocktails I will be drinking!  Tonight I will keep it simple, at the suggestion of my friend Maria, who thought I should make "a pitcher of martinis for one, as Sinatra used to do."  That sounds like a fabulous idea to me.  Here is how I like a martini.

Gin.  Preferably Bombay Sapphire, but if not then regular old Gordon's.  Pour it over ice.

Vermouth.  Take the bottle and wave it in front of your martini glass, then put it away.

Olives.  Pour a smidge of brine into the glass with two olives, more if you are hungry, then top with gin.

Sit back on your couch, in comfy pants, sipping your cocktail, and perhaps enjoying a meatball sub because you have the luxury to not be emaciated if you don't want.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Katie Holmes' Pasta Puttanesca

Another day, another email from a lady with a problem.  This one is easy though!

My fiance is a really great guy, and I can't wait to be his wife, but there is one problem.  He's shorter than I am.  It's not the end of the world, I know, but it's not how I imagined my husband in my head.  I don't want to spend the rest of my life feeling huge when I'm at the dinner table with him!  Help me get over this!

There are many qualities which make up a good husband, that he be kind, that he be amusing, that he be helpful around the house, that he enjoy the same television that you enjoy.  Nowhere has it been proven throughout all of history that height has anything to do with it.  That said, I totally get why you wouldn't want to feel bigger than your man.  Here's what I suggest.  Replace your dining room chairs with adjustable bar stools.  Set his higher than yours and voila!  Here's something yummy you can serve for your little guy.  I mean your fiance.  Sorry.

Katie Holmes' Pasta Puttanesca

You will need:

35 oz. can plum tomatoes
Crushed red pepper
Sliced green olives
Sliced black olives
Olive oil
6 cloves garlic
Step stool

Boil a large pot of salted water, and put in pasta.  Have slaves cold press olive oil.  Heat several glugs olive oil in a large pan.  Crush garlic with the side of your knife and add to the pan.  Let it cook for a few minutes while slaves get out the step stool.  Ask boyfriend or husband to climb up on step stool to help with the cooking.  Make sure slave keeps a hand on the stool while he climbs up so that he doesn't fall into the pan with the olives that you should now add to the garlic.  Pour can of tomatoes into pan, squeezing tomatoes to break them up.  This is a good job for him to do, as his wee muscles won't bruise their delicate flesh.  Add a few pinches of crushed red pepper.  Next have him measure out a fistful of capers - don't do it in your hand, that would be too many capers.  Simmer until pasta is ready, then drain the pasta and add to the sauce.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Begrudging Chicken Picatta

Dear Reader,

I have received an email from "D."  Her issue, not really a problem, but definitely a concern, is something I think we can all relate to.  See for yourself:

My best friend, who I've been best friends with since second grade, just got a really great job.  She is making $30,000 more than I am.  We had a little party to celebrate, but inside I really hate her.  She doesn't deserve this.  She's really lazy, she never did her homework in school, and she went to community college. I went to real college.  It's not fair, and I hate myself even more for hating her.
Fed up,

Well, "D," I don't blame you.  People that are happy for the success of their friends are lying.  It is a natural human emotion to feel envy, in fact envy, and comparison to others, is what drives many to success.  The trick is to not beat yourself up about it.  Worse than the envy, is the anxiety you create by trying not to feel envy.  You'd be better off just saying, out loud, "Congratulations on the awesome new job, I am seething with jealousy, and hope you get fired just so I don't feel like such a loser."  Chances are your friend would laugh, and you would have gotten over this by now.  In the meantime, have some Chicken Picatta.

Begrudging Chicken Picatta
You will need:

Chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
Olive oil
Nicoise Olives

Using pencil and paper, write down at least five things you have accomplished in your life.  If you can't come up with five, you may as well skip ahead to the wine.  Melt butter in a skillet with some olive oil.  Toss in chicken breasts in skillet to brown on both sides.  Remove chicken from skillet and poke at it with a sharp knife, not imagining it is your friend, of whom you are insanely jealous, but imagining it is your jealousy itself, in chicken form.  Drain off excess oil from pan.  Pour one glass of wine for yourself, and then about half a glass in the skillet, then add a chunk of butter.  Throw in the olives, season with salt and pepper.  Place chicken on a plate with some rice, and pour on the sauce, also dabbing a little bit behind your ears to attract good fortune.  Using pencil and paper, write down one realistic goal for yourself, such as, "Find underachieving friends of whom I can feel superior," or "Finish eating chicken."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Andy Warhol Eats His Feelings.

Today I took my children to the Museum of Modern Art, here in NYC.  We go to MoMA often, as I have a membership, it's always fun for kids, and the cafe serves AMAZING food.  So perhaps I am just in a Warhol mood because there is an exhibit on of his called "Moving Pictures" which, even though I had to make sure that the kids didn't catch the names of some of the pieces on exhibit, was awesome.  But tonight I came across this video of Warhol eating a hamburger, and it is intriguing to me on so many levels.

First, of course, what was Warhol feeling as he filmed himself eat a burger?  It certainly does not seem to be hunger.  More it seems like he was feeling, "Will people watch a film of me eating a hamburger?"  The answer is yes.

Second, I always wonder what people ate in the sixties and seventies, because they were so skinny then, and it's not just because they were all doing so much cocaine.  Andy's burger seems about the size of today's burger, but he doesn't finish it, in fact, half way through he discards half of the bun.  And this is before we all became obsessed with carbs, or a lack of carbs.

Third, his ketchup.  I bet it tastes great.  Ketchup didn't have high fructose corn syrup, but probably real sugar, and I bet it was awesome, and also allowed him to put the burger down when he'd had enough.

Fourth, the street noise.  What the hell is going on out there?  Is Serpico busting Son of Sam?

Fifth, the sound of the paper bag.  It is so much thicker than today's bag.

Sixth, there were Burger Kings in NYC then?  Today Burger King is an exotic restaurant in Manhattan.

I'm so freaking hungry right now.  You?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Egyptian Freedom Chicken

If you are like me, watching people on television fighting for democracy provides more than just inspiration.  For example, watching women on the streets of Tehran a year ago prompted me to wear more eyeliner, and gave me an intense desire for Ghormeh Sabzi.  And now Egypt.  All week long I have been watching coverage of the crowd in Tahrir Square on televison, and following protesters on Twitter, dreaming of fava beans and tagines.  And just now, when Mubarak finally agreed to leave, I ran to my kitchen to make some Egyptian food, because today we can all be Egyptian.

Egyptian Freedom Chicken

I didn't actually have any chicken, and wanted to quickly whip this up, so as not to miss the celebration, so I used Quorn cutlets.  I put these in a pan with some olive oil, 1/4 tsp allspice, 1/4 tsp coriander, 1/4 tsp paprika and 1/2 tsp cumin.

The recipe called for onion, which I also did not have, so I used some shallot, and poured on 1/4 cup chicken stock.


Next I added rice, which was leftover from last night's dinner.  Had I used uncooked rice, I would have used more stock.

The recipe called for currants, which I also do not have, so I used prunes.  Next, I added slivered almonds.

The recipe said to cover the whole thing with a tea towel, but I do not have a tea towel - certainly not one that is (at this moment) clean enough to involve in cooking.  So I just covered the pan in the usual manner.


This dish is really and truly delicious, was prepared in under ten minutes, and is the perfect accompaniment to revolution.  Enjoy before the chaos ensues.

Here you can find the recipe that I used.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Super(duper) Seven Layer Superbowl Dip

Dear Reader,

Like most of America, I am gearing up for Superbowl Sunday.  For those visiting from abroad, the Superbowl is a television event where the best commercials of the year are aired.  Also, it is a day to drink a lot of beer, and consume the most delicious snack foods available.  There is also a game of football which takes place, but that really doesn't concern me.  For me it's all about the snacks.  In my mind, a Superbowl just isn't all that super if it doesn't feature the ubiquitous Seven Layer Dip.  No matter the weather in Dallas,  Pittsburgh or Green Bay, the game will be a washout without it.  Traditionally this dip features taco fixin's - beans, guacamole, tomatoes, onions, olives, lettuce, cheese, scooped onto tortilla chips.  Be sure I will be eating my fill, but what for dessert?  Why not continue the theme with my totally amazing I can't believe I thought of it myself Super(duper) Seven Layer Superbowl Dip.  I made it today, with my kids for an afternoon snack, and it was mind blowing.

Here the kids arrange what my daughter called, "the family."

First up, peanut butter.

I used a small bowl, because I don't have twenty people coming over.  Of course it can be made larger to accommodate a crowd or the morbidly obese.

It took a man's strength to open this bag.

My daughter sprinkling the butterscotch chips on top of the peanut butter...

...very delicately, one at a time.

Butterscotch chips resting atop a bed of peanut butter.

My daughter insisted on photographing the Fluff herself, it being her favorite member of the family.  This is blurry because she was simultaneously taking the picture and sticking her fingers in the jar.

They didn't have the small jar of Nutella, and I don't care what their advertising says, bread smeared with chocolate may be delicious, but it is not part of a heathy breakfast unless that breakfast also includes eggs, fruit, milk and juice.

However, it is tasty right off the spoon.

Next, chopped walnuts.

Drizzle of pooling caramel sauce.

Topped with fluffy coconut.

Full layer action.

This dip is best enjoyed with pretzel rods.  The saltiness really adds to the overall effect and the sturdy rods can stand up to all the layers.

The long pretzel rods beg for double dipping, so be sure your guests are cool with that.  We were cool with that.

Satisfied snackers.

Close up of delicious dip topping a pretzel.

I really cannot overemphasize, or stress enough, how absolutely, undeniably, astonishingly, delicious, decadent and totally AWESOME this was.  And, I might add, it is without a doubt, the most perfect stoner food ever invented.  Better even that Teddy Grahams.  Go teams!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Robust and Warming Beef Stew for The Coldest Damn Winter Ever

Dear Reader,

Yesterday was Groundhog's Day, at which time said groundhog was removed from his hole and did not see his shadow.  This was likely due to the fact that we have had not one single sunny day since early October, and nobody has seen their shadow since that time.  Why we have to use a groundhog for this ritual is beyond the scope of my knowledge, as it seems to me that if I don't cast a shadow, then neither will said groundhog.  But who am I to rain on the parade?  Yesterday's hog hoist foretold of an early spring, which is hard to believe given the bracing, biting, cheek stinging, eyeball freezing cold we woke up to today.  (If you are reading this in some warm clime, you can kiss my frozen ass).

Here in New York we received none of the lovely snow that pounded the rest of our country this week, likewise none of the school cancellations.  What we had was freezing rain that washed away much of the snow, leaving behind slick sheets of ice on everything from sidewalks to those piles of garbage that haven't been picked up for weeks.  Countless nerds must be thrilled to finally realize what life in Narnia is actually like, but not me.  Today I offer you a warming stew to get you through this winter.

Robust and Warming Beef Stew For The Coldest 
Damn Winter Ever

You Will Need:

4 strips bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 1/2 lbs beef stew meat, or groundhog
Salt and pepper
1/2 lb pearl onions
3 T flour
1/2 dry red wine, plus one bottle more
3 T brandy, plus one cask more
2 gloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp marjoram
1/8 tsp thyme
1 strip orange peel
1 cup beef stock
1 medium onion
4 whole cloves
I know it's a lot of stuff, right?
1/2 lb mushrooms
2 T butter
Finely chopped parsley

Over the crackling fire you have made from burning the remains of your dining room furniture during the power outage, brown bacon in a large skillet.  Remove bacon and set aside.  Season beef with salt and pepper, add to bacon drippings, brown on all sides.  Transfer meat and bacon to 3 qt dutch oven.  Add pearl onions to drippings, brown lightly and set aside.  Sprinkle flour into drippings and brown lightly.  Open bottle of wine and drink heartily to warm internal organs and make you not care quite so much that it's so freaking cold and depressing.  Open door and whistle for St. Bernard.  When he arrives, remove brandy cask from his collar.  Stir in wine and brandy to flour, whisking, add garlic, marjoram, thyme, orange peel, stock.  Stick the cloves into the onion and toss that into the pot as well, being careful not to mistake for snowball to throw at small child, as an onion in the face is even far worse than snow down your collar.  Pour over meat, cover, cook at 325 for 2 1/2 hours.  Add browned pearl onions and cook 30 mins more.  Quarter mushrooms and sautee in butter, add to stew last 15 mins.  Sprinkle with parsley.  Do not attempt to warm frostbitten toes by submerging in stew, as will compromise flavor.