Thursday, June 25, 2009

Give me analog....please

The photo which accompanies this has a purpose. What could be more analog than an 8" chef's knife made from layered steel? It's beautiful and it has a function. Try tweeting some potatoes or onions!

We are so down with real hardware, as well as the original software, the book.

This morning we had the extreme annoyance of dealing with two large corporate firms who each, after interruptions in service, giving me call back numbers that don't work, finally drop me off in a call center in Bangalore. One of these firms is receiving "stimulus" funds. It begins with a "C". And the service in both cases sucked. What business model does this follow? We will save money by losing customers?

As far as I know my favorite bookstores and food purveyors don't have call centers or elaborate menu trees. I get to speak with real people. So buy local and don't give up on analog. Because we won't give up.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Wicked and Cool

Spiders. I love them. From China, the land where your t-shirts are made. But these tools are really, really useful. Scoop out gnocchi from a pot of boiling water. Diced vegetables that you've been poaching. Par boiled shrimp.The best french fries. Stuff like that.

I went to Sur La Table with my sister (she who hates anchovies)and she wanted to buy some expensive skimmer type thing. I pointed these puppies out.

I forgot to mention that they are cheap.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Pantry Principle

Recipe: Tuna , with white beans and artichokes with garlic crouton

Premium quality tuna packed in olive oil tinned or jarred and white beans have a love affair going on. So here is another variation from your pantry. And it’s simple. Shouldn’t take you more than 15 minutes.

Tinned or jarred best quality imported tuna*
Canned white beans
Jarred artichoke hearts
Sliced, toasted white bread
Garlic clove(s)
Fresh thyme
Salt and pepper

Begin by toasting as many slices of ½” thick bread to the number of plates you are preparing.
Add some olive oil (not much) to the bottom of a sauce pan and heat that up. Add the white beans and a sprig or two of thyme and cook slowly, uncovered for maybe 2 minutes.

Meanwhile slice in half as many garlic cloves as you have toasted bread slices. Rub the top surface of each crouton with a half clove.

Plating; crouton goes on the plate. Top that with a generous amount of beans. Now portion tuna and artichokes over as well. Keep in mind that the tuna and beans want to hug and kiss. The artichokes like to be alone but they can handle a little white bean love too.
Now hard was that? And how long did it take you?

*Recommended labels include:
As Do Mar

Depending on where you live, finding tuna of this quality might be difficult. It won't be at your local supermarket. Whole Foods has some good product. But you might want to think about ordering on line in case amounts of 8 to 12. No point in ordering one tin or jar. It will be expensive but the freight ammortizes and it's always there in your pantry for you. Splurge on the "ventresca."

If you have trouble finding sources please leave a comment.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Top Chef the Masters

Pierino loves Top Chef: The Masters. No more tears, attitude and elevated hair. Some talent, some wimps, some total incompetents and Ted Allen. Somehow the incompetents managed to survive three rounds, including one big fat blob of goo from our childhood hometown of Babylon, NY: "the judges just didn't get it."

So it's refreshing to see real professionals at work. Calm and collegial. And confident because they are already at the top. And they are competing for their favorite charity. They were given one challenge that would have made the season four chefs wet their pants: cook in a Pomona College dorm room using only a hot plate, a toaster oven and a microwave. We believe all four said, "I don't know how to use a microwave." But you got to see real professionals at work with calm and amazing resourcefulness and no snipping.

We won't tell you who won because you'll want to watch this.

The only part we didn't like was the judges panel. James Oseland editor of Saveur (we miss you Colman Andrews), Gael Greene who is 100 years old, and Jay Rayner of the London Observer. Don't know much about him. Oseland looked as if he were hoping a housefly would buzz past his face as an amuse bouche.

Upside, no Ted Allen.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Reasons to Love Cheese

Cheese is good for you. We confess to loving cheese more than wine. We liked the film "Sideways" but might have liked it more if Miles and Jack had gone on a cheese quest on the Central Coast.

Another reason for being a cheese eating surrender monkey (a lable I wear with pride by the way) is that you get to meet some really cool people. Take for example Laurent Bonjour aka The French Cowboy. Cowboy Laurent sets up his truck at various farmers market locations. He has a fine selection of excellent cheeses and and he really knows his stuff. He is pictured above with an epoisses in hand.

Yesterday we asked for some recommendations and he suggested a Cantal Vieux. He told me that its provenance goes back to the time of Christ. In keeping with our scholarly research efforts we looked it up and in fact Pliny the Elder commented on it in 100 AD. Now how cool is that?

So check out to find out where Laurent is setting up shop. You won't regret it.

Monday, June 1, 2009

What's not so cool now...

...literally. Sorry but immersion circulators are not on our list for Santa. Okay go ahead and "sous" me. We own a portable induction cooktop. After that it's a sous to far. Okay, we own a pressure cooker---it doesn't come out very often. But if you are Thomas Keller you can sous vide stuff. After that some of the biggest screw ups on Top Chef have involved the circulators. Compadre Ruhlman doesn't agree with me on this.