Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Feeling appreciated

Just came across this post about Mothers who are Spousal Caregivers, and thought, "hey, somebody actually gets it!"

Arg, seems to have no permalinks. Click here and scroll down to the may 7th post to read.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

He's Just Not That Into You

After I got the toddler to bed and cleaned up the other night, I flopped down in front of the air conditioner and queued up the list of new "On-Demand" movies. Despite the appeal of several spy movies, throwing people out of plane movies, etc., I finally settled on "He's Just not That Into You," which came out sometime last year.

I was expecting something silly and light, and got that - but also, wow - they really got a lot of things just right.

You know that friend who keeps reading things into her dates that weren't actually there, obsessing over whether a guy's going to call her back? She's in there. In all her painfully awkward eagerness.

And so's that married couple that acts like everything's fine and they want to keep it together, when really they're both wondering if it's worth it.

And more, but I won't ruin it for you if you haven't seen it.

Let's just say, if you're not worried about the shidduch crisis, this is probably a fun movie for you.

And if you are worried about the shidduch crisis, maybe watching this will give you some ideas of how NOT to try to solve it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Domo Arigato: another food post

FYI, despite 4 days now of just me and the toddler while Bad Cohen is on a much-needed vacation with some old friends, we are both still alive, and mostly sane.

I have no comment on the amount of chocolate or Thomas the Train pictures consumed, however.

Anyway, on to the food:

Tomorrow night is my father's birthday, it's supposed to be about 90 degrees, and he's a fan of Japanese food, so I've decided to try some new recipes. The menu is dictated by the heat, his diabetes, and the fact that I'll need to do most of the prep the night before, after the toddler goes to bed.

Ginger Beef Tataki with Lemon Soy Dipping Sauce (room temp)
Spicy Glazed Eggplant (room temp)
Cucumber/Sesame salad (cold)
Salmon Teriyaki (hot)
brown rice

And maybe some pre-made sushi rolls, cold, or some spring rolls I can throw in the toaster oven to reheat.

Plus, of course, chocolate cake.
(Probably orange chocolate cake with raspberries and chocolate ganache, very easy, based on a classic blitztorte but substituting orange peel for lemon and adding cocoa powder and melted chocolate)

The tataki has an interesting cooking method I haven't encountered before, wherein the meat is cooked first, then cooled and marinated afterwards. Seems like something I should have thought of, but it never occurred to me before.

If you have decent salmon available, teriyakiing it is an excellent way to get hot food, quick and easy, without heating the whole kitchen. Just prep some sauce (soy sauce, garlic, ginger, brown sugar), pour it on, then bake the salmon in your toaster oven at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.

FYI, if you don't own a mandoline (the slicing tool, not the stringed instrument), go get one. I laughed at Bad Cohen when he brought me one as a gift but that thing totally ROCKS! I was able to slice a large zucchini into paper-thin slices in about 2 minutes, with no effort, while watching the toddler. Seriously. Not having to look down at the tool is worth about $500 to me, when I'm prepping food and simultaneously doing childcare.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Figs, Camembert, Marsala: French food tonight

We're having some old family friends over tonight, on a workday, so I decided to splurge a little on French food that can mostly be made ahead of time.

Camembert with Poached Figs
Minted Eggplant
Good crusty bread

Mesclun with tarragon, chives, parsley, and a light vinaigrette
Lime-Marsala Chicken
More of that good bread
Chateau Lorane 2006 Organic Marechal Foche (soooo yummy)

(Dessert is coming with them, sounds like apple pie)

About the recipes

Camembert and figs:
I'm mostly following this Epicurious recipe, but leaving out the blue cheese (because YUCK! blue cheese is icky), and poaching the figs in some unsweetened plum juice with a little vanilla extract (and maybe a dash of marsala) instead of port b/c we have a no-alchohol guest coming. I've already poached the figs, and I'll toast the cheese just before serving.

Minted eggplant:
I sliced a large eggplant lengthwise into 1/4 pieces, brushed them heavily with olive oil, then sprinkled them with salt, cardamom, ginger, anise and cumin, and baked them at 450 degrees in the toaster oven for about 15 minutes, until they looked yummy. Cooled them, sliced them into long skinny pieces, and will sprinkle with freshly shredded mint from the garden just before serving.

Bad Cohen and I went to the market separately thinking we needed salad greens, so we have a LOT of mesclun sitting in the fridge. I'll augment it with some mild herbs from the garden, and dress lightly, as a nice fresh accompaniment to the richness of the chicken.

Lime-marsala Chicken:
When I was 15, my family took a 2-week vacation to Spain and France, revisiting all the places my parents had loved living in before I was born. In Paris, I had the most amazing Lime Chicken dish at a little bistro. It's taken 20 years, but I finally re-created it:

2-3 Tbsp butter*
splash of exrta-virgin olive oil
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
salt, onion powder, garlic powder
1/2 onion, chopped
1 large or 2 small cloves garlic
big splash Marsala wine (maybe 1/4 cup?)
grated zest of 2 limes
juice of 1 lime

Put a large, heavy nonstick pan on medium high heat. Immediately add the butter and olive oil, to melt as the pan heats up.

While it's heating, put a big pile of flour on a plate, and season the chicken thighs with some salt, onion poweder, and garlic powder. When butter is melted, swirl it around the pan, then dredge each piece of chicken in flour, shaking off the excess, and add it to then pan. (You may need to do this in batches - just push the cooked ones up to the sides of the pan and add the second batch in the middle.)

As soon as all the chicken is in the pan, add the onions - try to get them in the butter and not just on top of the chicken. Brown the chicken on both sides, and let the onions get nice and caramelized.

Squeeze the garlic into the pan with a garlic press, and stir for 30 seconds or so.

Add the marsala to deglaze, stir everything gently, and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Turn heat down to medium low, and let it cook for a while (10-15 minutes or so). You can add a little water, if it seems to be getting too dry - there should be a decent amount of sauce in the pan.

When the chicken is cooked through, add the lime zest and juice. Stir gently again, cover, and cook for about 5 more minutes. You can let it sit like this for a while before serving, or even chill and reheat - it will be just as good the next day. I made mine yesterday and will warm it up in the oven tonight.

(*Note: we eat dairy with chicken and fish, but not red meat. If you do standard kashrut, you'd want to throw in some other kind of fat at the beginning to make the roux, maybe add a little chicken fat for richness.)