Monthly Archives: March 2012

Beautiful brisket

As soon as I opened up the front door on Tuesday night, after getting home from a long day, I knew that it would be a night to remember. Wafting down the stair well and caressing my olfactory core was a smell quite like I’ve never experienced. The Beast had cooked a brisket.

Foodie: Oh my God I can’t believe it! Can you smell that? I’ve never smelled something so good! I’m not even joking! This is, I’m just, I can’t believe it. I don’t know what to say. How did you do this? Why did you do this?

Beast: You know what the thing about cooking is? So much of it is just deciding what you’re going to do and to say, “this is what I am going to cook.” And then you just make it.

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The perfect egg

Getting home on Friday night to find this:

Beast: Oh hey there. Guess what I’m doing.

Foodie: I knew what you were doing as soon as I walked in the front door. You know that shoe polish stinks, right? I’m opening up some windows.

Beast: I’ve been meaning to polish my shoe collection for so long now. This feels great.

Foodie: Wait a second; what are you wearing? Did you just take a t-shirt, make it into a tank top and use the scrap bits for shoe-shining?

Beast: That’s exactly what I did.

Foodie: Look how muscular your arms look!

Beast (flexing): I just worked out. And please don’t go upstairs. You will flip out if you see the bedroom.

Foodie: Fine. Are you going to start concentrating now on your skinny little legs in your workouts?

Beast: Listen, I’m not going to fatten up my legs just so you can feel better about your legs and your body image.

Foodie: My legs are NOT FAT!

Beast: I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have had three gin and tonics after my work-out.

Foodie: Truth?

Beast: Why didn’t you tell me you had a Miu Miu belt?

Foodie: STOP GOING THROUGH MY STUFF! AND STOP WEARING MY CLOTHES!

I didn’t flip out over the state of the bedroom, which the Beast converts into a gym three or four times a week. He’s usually very good about putting everything away. However, there is a part of me, mostly the olfactive part, that wishes he’d just get a gym membership.

This morning, I offered to make us some soft-boiled eggs and toast. It’s the simplest of breakfasts, and one that I had to look up in a cookbook. That’s right: I don’t know how to boil an egg.  More precisely, I always forget how to boil an egg so that it comes out with a firm white part, with no snotty bits, and a golden, runny–but not too runny–yolk.

I turned to Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything first. But you had to poke a hole into the egg first. It was just too complicated. Next I looked up “soft-boiled egg” in my Canadian Living cookbook. I liked the sounds of this one better: bring some eggs to a boil and then continue to boil them for another four to five minutes. Done.

My favourite part about having a soft-boiled egg is putting into my favourite egg cup; a little Bunnykins Royal Doulton one that I’ve had since I was a kid.

Almost as exciting as the cup (which I don’t actually use to hold the egg since every egg I put in there just sinks to the bottom of the cup–have eggs gotten smaller?)  is the anticipation of cutting the top off of the egg to reveal that golden goodness inside.

I overdid the eggs, on account of not paying attention to the clock.  No matter; we each dressed up our breakfast in our own unique ways. The Beast mashed his eggs in a bowl and doused them with salt and pepper.

While I chose a more decorous presentation.

It was such a nice way to start the day. Later on, the Beast retired to the living room and I to the dining room, which also doubles as my study.

Beast (yelling): COME IN HERE AND BE WITH ME!

Foodie: NO!

Beast: PLEASE?

Foodie (going into the living room and finding the Beast in a mint green house coat curled up on the couch): Are you trying to look cute on purpose?

Beast: Who, me? I’m just listening to Duke Ellington and reading about totalitarianism. Care to join?

Foodie: Ah, I’d love to but I have to get in a few hours of work, and if I don’t do it now, I’m a goner.

Beast: I’m going to watch Shoah later?

Foodie: Is that supposed to tempt me to stay?

Beast: Please?!?!

Maybe next Saturday. And there’s a prize for anyone who can give me the simplest-to-remember, fool-proof instructions on how to soft/medium boil an egg.

Foodie: **1/2

Beast: **

Looking out for numero uno. Plus two recipes for you.

Beast: What’s that?

Foodie: What’s what?

Beast: That vibrating thing I found in MY sock drawer.

Foodie: Oh, fuuuuuuucccccck. I forgot to hide it back in my sock drawer.

Beast: Where did you get it?

Foodie: Jason gave it to me.

Beast: Jason gave it to you?

Foodie: Well, kind of; Jason got it in some sort of gift bag around Christmas time and he didn’t want it and he was trying to give it away to one of us on the soccer team after a game and nobody wanted it so I finally took it.

Beast: Silence

Foodie: It’s just a back massager. It’s for sore backs. You know how I get that knot in my left shoulder? Well it helps. Just for that. That’s it.

Beast: I know what you do with that thing.

Foodie: (Pause) What do you want me to say, man?

Busted! Oh well. Sometimes you have to look out for numero uno. That’s why on Sunday I made a big batch of quinoa with snow peas and broccoli, a dish I know the Beast won’t touch and therefore I’m safe leaving it in the fridge for my work week lunches. It’s a recipe that I adapted from Mireille Guiliano’s French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook that keeps really well and tastes nice if you just pop it into the microwave at work for a minute or two.

I also made two Swedish visiting cakes. We have friends staying with us this weekend so, knowing that I won’t have time during the week to do a damn thing, I baked the cakes on Sunday and I’m crossing my fingers that one of them freezes well. It’s from a recipe my friend Paula introduced me to and I’ve made it a few times now, often not paying much heed to the instructions. Do you really need to fold and whisk when you could just plop everything in and mix on high? Turns out, yes, you do. And the difference was astounding. This time the cakes turned less brick-like and more light and fluffy.

I suppose sometimes you just have to play by the rules. And other times, you have to take a hand-held back massager that looks like a Japanese robot toy and get creative.

Quinoa Lunch Thing
This recipe can be halved if it sounds like too much; I just wanted a week’s worth of lunches!)

2 cups quinoa
2 cups snow peas
1 head of broccoli
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
chili flakes
salt and pepper

Cook your quinoa according to instructions. Take a little bowl and mix up the cumin, coriander and the olive oil. Set aside. Meanwhile, get some olive oil good and hot in a big pan and add some chili flakes. Then add the broccoli florets. Toss them until they get a bit browned. Add the snow peas. Add some salt and pepper. When the quinoa is cooked, add the butter and mix it up in there. Add the spiced up olive oil. Add the vegetables. Mix that up. Eat it for lunch. And if cooking the vegetables sounds like too much work, why not add in a generous amount of baby arugula and edamame or other green things?

Swedish Visiting Cake (adapted from Baking, From My Home to Yours)
(I usually double this recipe because why make one when you can have two?)

1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
Grated zest of 1 lemon (I used a Meyer lemon, plus a little juice for good measure)
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
About 1/4 cup sliced almonds (blanched or not)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter a 9-inch cake pan or even a pie pan. Pour the sugar into a medium bowl.  Add the zest and blend the zest and sugar together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and aromatic.  Whisk in the eggs one at a time until well blended.  Whisk in the salt and the extracts.  Switch to a rubber spatula and stir in the flour.  Finally, fold in the melted butter. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.  Scatter the sliced almonds over the top and sprinkle with a little sugar. Bake the cake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it is golden and a little crisp on the outside; the inside will remain moist.  Eat it after it cools down a bit. Why not with a cup of tea?

Radicchio and gorgonzola pasta: is that even a thing?

Getting home on Tuesday after a long day at work to find the Beast, who had the day off, scurry down into the kitchen to put on a pot of boiling water, which I told him to put on 30 minutes earlier, so that he could make a pasta for our dinner. He has to cook dinner on his day off now. It’s a new rule. I keep a list on the kitchen chalkboard of possible weeknight meals that we or he can make and all he has to do is pick one and fucking make it.

Foodie: You didn’t put the water on yet, did you? That’s okay. You’re not in trouble because, wow, the house looks great. Did you tidy up or something?

Beast: I had to tidy up or else you would have divorced me. The place was a di-sas-ter!

Foodie: If you lived alone, do you think you’d live like an animal?

Beast: I’d be a fucking mess.

Foodie: Do you think there’d be blood and food and bodily fluids dripping from the rafters?

Beast: Yes, and there’d be so many mice and I’d teach them all how to play a musical instruments. What am I supposed to be making for dinner again?

Foodie: Are you kidding me? You said you wanted that radicchio and gorgonzola pasta?

Beast: Oh, right. How do I make it?

Foodie: Are you kidding me? I told you over the phone before I left work!

Beast: How should I cut the radicchio?

Foodie: Give the knife to me.

Beast: NO! I’m doing it!

Foodie: Okay, just cut off the end there, and then cut it down the middle and then cut thin half moons.

Beast: Like this?

Foodie: Are you cutting like a 95-year-old woman on purpose, or is that just how you cut?

Beast: What do you mean? Hey, how much cheese should we add? Not the whole wedge, right?

Foodie: No, not the whole wedge. I don’t fucking know. Add a bit at a time and see what happens. I haven’t made this pasta in years. I don’t even think it’s a real dish. Did we just make it up?

Beast: You made it up and I love it! Now what?

Foodie: Put the radicchio in that hot pan with olive oil and get it nice and brown. Then add the cheese and then add the cooked pasta to the pan and toss it all up. Maybe add a little milk if it’s dry.

Beast: Should I reserve some pasta water?

Foodie: Wow. I can’t believe you just said that.

Beast: I’m going to write a book and it’s going to be called, A Chef Prepares. It’s going to be like method acting for cooks where you just use your sense memories rather than recipes.

Foodie: I don’t know what that means. (Pause) How can you cook to this music?

Beast: There will be a chapter in my book about that. You’ll have to wait.

Foodie: Who is this?

Beast: It’s  Lennie Tristano’s, Intuition.

Foodie: I don’t like it. But I love this yellow sweatshirt you’re wearing. Can I borrow it?

Beast: No.

Foodie: You know, now that you’re working out so much, you’ve started to take on the proportions of Marky Mark; short, stocky legs, long simian-like arms, a small waist and a big chest. You look great.

Beast: That’s probably the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.

Foodie: **

Beast: ***