Friday, February 13, 2009

an ode......

Two hands together
opening love's gate

Ponzu Sauce - yields approx. 2 cups
1/4-cup bonito flakes
1 ounce kombu
1-cup soy sauce
1/4-cup fresh lemon juice
2-tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/4-cup rice vinegar
1/4-cup water

Combine the bonito flakes, kombu and soy sauce together and let marinate for 24 hours. Pour through a fine sieve and add the lemon juice, vinegar and water to the soy. This sauce gets better over time. Keep it refrigerated.

This sauce is excellent as an alternative to cocktail sauce for freshly shucked oysters, or as a finishing agent to a stir fry.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


It happened on a mild autumn day, as the late afternoon’s light was just starting to disappear, in a thicket of bushes on the side of the junior high school. My slide into juvenile delinquency and the self-prescribed medication that put a tolerable haze over adolescence – I got stoned. It was a just few years back, at sleep-away-camp, I was sitting amongst a group of counselors, who were barely my senior, hand rolling a “cigarette.” I was awestruck by the paper they used – a rainbow colored sheet that they said they were filling with tobacco, and I believed them. But in the long shadows of that cooling afternoon I realized they were lying to me, and my innocence was forever shattered. I knew with that first toke I was doing the first really bad thing with repercussions beyond my parent’s potential wrath. Of course, the paranoia that smoking pot created only intensified this concern. Still, I naughtily, giddily puffed away.

I glided home concerned that I be there on time for dinner – it was both a requirement and the pot was working its hunger producing magic. I was so grateful that my father was working late and would not to be home for the evening meal for I was sure he would sniff me out – he has the nose of a bloodhound. My mother was a much easier mark, and concealing my altered state from her was a tad easier. Even though my eyes were beet red, and I thought very word I spoke at the dinner table was being scrutinized I managed to get through the meal undetected. I eventually got turned on to Visine to help dilute the devilish glare this not particularly performance enhancing drug. The one activity pot surely abets is one’s ability and desire to eat. That meal that night glowed, and yet it was the usual salad; my mother made a mixed salad nightly accompanied with an array of dressings, hamburgers and canned French cut green beans. I inhaled five hamburgers before I started to slow down with my sixth. My mother didn’t comment on my unusually large sum consumed that night, for her, I was still an innocent, growing, little boy.

Bread Salad - serves 6 to 8
3 cups of cubed bread - such as crusty Italian peasant loaf or baguette
1 pint yellow cherry tomatoes - halved
1 hot house cucumber - 3/4” diced
1 small red onion - sliced thinly
3 celery stalks - 3/4” diced
5 scallions - diced
2 bunchs arugula - washed and roughly chopped
1/4 cup torn mint leaves
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves – crushed to a pasted
1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper and salt to taste
2 tablespoons pine nuts - toasted

Spread the bread cubes on a baking tray and dry out in a 250-degree for 5 to 10 minutes. Do not allow the bread cubes to develop too much color.

Place the vinegar, garlic, mustard, salt, pepper in a food processor and pulse. Pour in the oil and process till smooth.

Toss all ingredients together making sure to distribute the dressing thoroughly. Serve within a half hour. If you want you can assemble the components of the salad up to 24 hours in advance. Keep the bread and dressing separate until you are ready to serve.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Bowl-full of Hope

Layered, bundled, and wrapped up against the assault of the polar express it is difficult to find hope and see a future splayed with tender, fragrant and abundant petals. Though the activities of our nation’s capitol over the last few week has given us a welcoming thawing in this otherwise frigid season.

A visual and psychological paradigm shift has occurred, and we will no longer be a land of inevitability – possible is the belief to hold onto. The spill is universal for everyone person. My plate is now the true representative of the tapestry of this country, and is clear that we have been informed by every culture on the earth. Freedom is a wonderful opportunity and it can foster a creative edge if you allow yourself to peek over the precipice.

So, here is to a chicken in every pot and pot being as simple or complex as one’s whim.

Chicken Soup – yields approx. 12 servings
1 capon – cut into 12 pieces and rinsed under cold water
4 quarts chicken stock
3 carrots – peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
4 celery stalks – washed and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 large onion – cut into 1 inched pieces
5 garlic cloves – peeled and chopped
1/2 Italian parsley leaves – roughly chopped
1 pound cassava (yucca) – peeled and cut into about 2 inch pieces
2 green plantains - peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
1/8 cup cilantro – roughly chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 limes cut into 12 pieces for garnish

In an eight quart bring the capon and stock to the boil, and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes skimming the fat and impurities off that float to the top. After a half hour add the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, parsley, cassava and plantains. Bring the soup back to the boil, and continue cooking for an 1-1/2 hour. Carefully, remove the capon from the pot, and place in a bowl. Pull the chicken meat from the bone returning the meat back to the soup pot. Simmer the soup another 1 hour with a lid slightly askew. Add the cilantro and season with salt and pepper. Serve hot in a large bowl with each serving getting a piece of chicken, and garnish with a lime wedge.