Annual Goals Dinner with Matthew at Eveleigh

As you know, I have a tradition with my lifelong friend where we go to a nice dinner each year and do goals. We open a sealed envelope from last year’s dinner and mark off what goals we’ve achieved. Then we write new ones for the current year and seal them up for next year’s dinner.
This was our 13th year of maintaining the tradition.
We went to Eveleigh on Sunset in West Hollywood. It’s indisputably a gorgeous space. The lighting is super dim, (I moved a candle a bit to check out what our dishes looked like before diving in.), and the seating is a little annoying as the booths are slightly unsecured so you can feel the guy five tables down shift his leg since it’s technically the same piece of padded wood you’re sitting on. But the cocktails were killer, the decor is beautiful, and the food was not bad.
Here’s what we had (I would have ordered more fish, but Matt was in an anti-seafood mood and mama likes to share):
Cocktails –
Chanel No 5 mezcal, jalapeno, lemon, pom – Dear LORD this is mama’s kind of cocktail. Smoky, spicy, a little tangy. Perfection.
The other mezcal cocktail was OK, but not after this one.
The Good Prick – bourbon based, loved the pine in there – really interesting.

Crispy Season Squid with a lemon mayo – Not bad, small portion.
Rainbow Chard – Good, but I could make it too.
Rib-Eye Cap with beets, chantrelles, and pinot noir sauce – the fresh horseradish was the key to this dish.

Orecchiette with broccoli, cherry tomatoes, and chilies – could barely detect the tomatoes and found no trace of chilies but it was OK.

Mac and Cheese – I liked it; could have used a few less bread crumb cubes but other than that, well done.

Donuts – if you’re into dessert you’ll be happy.

We always talk to the table next to us as they’re usually intrigued by all of our envelopes, rituals, etc. (This is kind of a load of shit, I always talk to my neighbors even without the goals excuse…) This time, right before we ripped open our envelopes, neighbor Pamela asked if we were in relationships. Matt obviously said “yes.” They looked at me. “Nope, I’m single… Well that’s ONE I won’t be checking off again this year! Starting off strong. Thanks, Pamela!”
I actually fared better than I had thought, I got 9 out of 20. Sometimes I give myself freebies like “Scan goals into computer in case of flood.” Crap, I better do that now. Don’t want to miss the freebie next year…

Hat-Cat-moe.-B.lou-Ween Bday!

Every year, I try to put together fun events around my birthday to distract myself from paying attention to how old I am.
The run for this year was as follows:
Thursday “day of” girls dinner at Hatfield’s.
Friday dinner at Hungry Cat, then stumble over to Henry Fonda Music Box for the moe. show.
Saturday dinner at Bottega Louie, then cruise over to Ween at the Wiltern.

Dinner at Hatfield’s was great. The space has been occupied by a number of restaurants since I’ve lived in L.A. and I’ve tried them all. It was Citrus (1986-2001), Alex (2001-2004), Meson G (2004-2006), Red Pearl Kitchen (2006-2009), and how Hatfield’s. I had been to Hatfield’s a few times at its original location on Beverly (where Eva is now) but hadn’t been since it moved.
We had a round table for 6 out on the patio. I liked the feel of the main room better, but we were going to squeeze a 7th in for drinks later so the round table was the way to go. Beansie scored a cocktail at the bar while we were waiting to be seated. To me, it was too mild, sweet, and weak. But I’m very much an “in your face” cocktail girl. Less sugar, more ginger, less watery, more booze, please! I decided to stick to the wine list.
I capped our selection at $60 which was pretty limiting, but gave us a few options.
We went with a Malbec first. Home Fry had never met a Malbec she didn’t like. I didn’t like this one. It was sour, high acid, pretty foul. The sommelier insisted on taking it back and we went with a Pinot Noir. It was drinkable. We tried a Syrah for the second bottle and that one was fine too, but neither one had me running to purchase for my house.
Here’s what we ate, ordered from favorite to least favorite:
“Croque Madame” Yellowtail sashimi, prosciutto, sunny side up quail egg, grilled brioche – My favorite dish. Never disappoints.
Chilled Poached Main Scallop with bulgur salad, horseradish creme fraiche, muddled citrus – Small portion but great flavors.
Slow Cooked Beef Short Rib with blue lake beans, braised radish, horseradish potato puree – The short ribs were in slices instead of the usual braised and falling off the bone, but still delicious.
Date & Mint Crusted Lamb with roasted heirloom root vegetables, fresh chick peas, potato chive puree – All great flavors.
Warm Creamy Crab Buckwheat Crepe with pickled beets, marinated radish, fine herbs – A little too creamy, but still done well.
Charred Octopus with caramelized fennel, saffron vanilla braised hearts of palm, red wine olive puree – I wanted to love this dish, like as much as Laney did, but I thought it was a little bland. I tasted none of the saffron or vanilla on the hearts of palm (I barely tasted any hearts of palm in the hearts of palm…)
Potato & Egg Yolk Filled Raviolo with creamy goat cheese, roasted baby beets, sherry vinegar emulsion – One big raviolo in a beet heavy sauce. Pretty good.
Brown Butter Roasted Cauliflower with sauteed plantains, roasted almonds, golden raisins, parsley root puree – Not bad if you’re a raisin person.
Kabocha Squash Agnolotti with roasted chiodini mushrooms, pork confit, maple brown butter broth – This was the least memorable to me.
Our lactard was told to pick a protein and they’d make it for her with no dairy. She got salmon and it was fantastic.
Sugar & Spice Beignets with chocolate fondue and a Mexican chocolate milkshake shot – Their signature dessert. The milkshake rocked.
Chocolate Caramel Semifreddo with salted peanut crunch and bitter chocolate sorbet – Didn’t suck.
Great meal, great friends. Good attention to detail, though I wasn’t WOW’ed by as many dishes as I’d expected.

Team Hatfield's Valet

The Hungry Cat was the second set of the run.
I picked it because a) it’s rad and b) it’s super close to the Fonda. But they wouldn’t take a table bigger than 8 ppl for a reservation. So I took matters into my own hands and had three friends each get a table for 4 ppl on Open Table and then put in the notes that we wanted to sit together. Worked like a charm!

We arrive at The Hungry Cat!

Here’s what we had:
Cocktails –
The Sleepy Jean (cue The Monkees) – chamomile-infused reposado tequila, honey water, dash of dolin dry vermouth – awesome!
Luke’s Lemonade – blue ice vodka & mint, house-made lemonade *for every Luke’s Lemonade sold a donation is made to Alex’s Lemonade Stand- love the charity portion, but it was a little sugary for me.
The Michelada – Tecate, lime, hot sauce (w/ or w/o grapefruit) Nirvana! I will dream about this cocktail

The Michelada

OYSTERS! – the cherry on top to any bday

Just stick a candle in the ice bed, please!

Crab Salad – would have loved it if it actually didn’t have cilantro in it.
Octopus – Yum

Salmon Beignets – Delish

Crab Legs – Super sweet (this was the right place for sweetness!) and meaty!

Scallops – One of my faves

Striped Bass – the picture didn’t come out, but this was the best dish.

The pouty face I made when I was told we couldn’t get the Pumpkin Beignets with bacon maple sauce for dessert (because it was only on the DineLA week menu) worked as we were presented with a plate of it with a big candle shortly after. Totally worth whatever dignity I lost in the process. They were unbelievable.

The Meyer Lemon Parfait was bad-ass too.

Team Hungry Cat

On to moe. at the Music Box at the Henry Fonda, next on the agenda. Thankfully I had my pregnant friend Amy with me. We were able to cut the line that wrapped around the corner and enter through the handicapped entrance! The show was a slight bust. I love the fonda and I love moe. but this show wasn’t my fave. It was a little sleepy and spacey. The downstairs was a mess. I didn’t meet up with half of my friends. BUT, I worked us getting two tickets for the upstairs balcony (Baby Stouffer – whom I affectionately call Efferifus – gets MVP of the evening) and was able to stub my six ppl up there with us. So we had a nice seated row of the “adult section” and were able to chill. Not a rager, but it all worked out in the end.

Here’s the setlist:
Set 1: Jazzwank > Plane Crash, Where Does The Time Go? > Yodelittle > Skrunk > Yodelittle, Seat Of My Pants
Set 2: Opium > Downward Facing Dog, Chromatic Nightmare, Y.O.Y. > Puebla > Tubing The River Styx > The Pit > Moth, E: New York City, Crab Eyes

Amy, Jord, and Efferifus in the "adult section" upstairs

Bottega Louie was insanity. Happy, stimulating, insanity. Not only was there a line for a table, there was a line to put your name down for the list for a table. The waiters were super sweet, the food was great, they were hassle free for a large party, and downtown is really convenient for a Wiltern show.

Team Bottega Louie

Here’s what we got:
Caprese Salad – good, the tomatoes were peeled, I liked it.
Burrata Pizza – how could that be bad?
Clam Pizza – not bad, but wasn’t expecting sweet roasted peppers in the mix.
Pappardelle – with mushroom and fois gras duxelle- best dish by far
Fettuccini Belmundo – with cherry tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan – good
Trenne – with braised rib eye and kale – wanted to like it better.
Brussles Sprouts – I love them always, but these were a little salty.
Meatballs Marinara – Mmmmmm.
Portobello Fries – Good, but would have liked a lighter batter.
Grilled Squid and Chorizo Ravioli – the ravioli was good but could have had a richer sauce.
Diver Scallops – wrapped the Prosciutto with lentils and salsa verde – awesome.
Dessert: Le Grand Macaron – I was stuffed, I didn’t try it, but everyone else was happy with it.

Wine:
Nebbiolo Malvira Langhe Piemonte 2006 – was a little light and boring, but drinkable.
The Prisoner – Orin Swift Napa 2008 – makes me cry with every sip. I want a case every time.

Ween at the Wiltern was killer. Shamefully, I can’t quite remember if I’ve been to a Ween show before. I think I have. But this is the one I’ll remember. My friends had a pit wristband waiting for me when I got there and the crowd was rocking.
When I said I wouldn’t be upset if dinner ran into overtime and we were late for the show, it never occurred to me that they’d play Spirit of ’76 in the lost beginning. But the entire show kicked ass so I almost didn’t notice I had missed it. We apparently arrived while it was playing but someone had to chat in the lobby for a few minutes and take a picture…

Here’s the setlist for Ween at the Wiltern Saturday January 29, 2011:
1. “Exactly Where I’m At”
2. “Don’t Get 2 Close (2 My Fantasy”)
3. “Touch My Tooter”
4. “Even If You Don’t”
5. “Freedom of ’76”
6. “Spring Theme” (“Transdermal Celebration”)
7. “Bananas and Blow”
8. “Spinal Meningitis”
9. “Mister, Would You Please Help My Pony?” “Learnin’ to Love”
10. “With My Own Bare Hands”
11. “The Argus”
12. “Gabrielle”
13. “Puerto Rican Power”
14. “I’ll Be Your Johnny On the Spot”
15. “Object”
16. “Did You See Me?”
17. “Buckingham Green”
18. “Your Party”
19. “Let’s Dance” (David Bowie cover)
20. “Slow Down Boy”
21. “Ace of Spades” (Motörhead cover)
22. “Push th’ Little Daisies”
23. “What Deaner Was Takin’ About
24. “Roses Are Free”
25. “Put the Coke On My Dick”
26. “Ocean Man”
27. “The Mollusk”

Encore:
28. “Fiesta”
29. “Take Me Away”
30. “Mr. Richard Smoker”
31. “Lucky Man” (Emerson, Lake and Palmer cover)

Boogie in the Back!

Thanks so much to all of my awesome friends who helped me celebrate in such style this weekend! Your turns are next!
oxoxo

Part of Team Ween

The true closer of the weekend was TV recovery day Sunday. The ProBowl -> SAG awards on delay. Ryan made us dinner and I swooned over my latest Spanish wine discovery, Juan Gil 2008. It’s 100% Monastrell and there’s a little recovery packed in every sip.
Sunday Monastrell and Couch Recovery

Red Medicine – No Codeine Required

My girlfriend Haryn and I decided to go out for an impromptu dinner out.
Sometimes we like to wait for new openings to get a chance to “grow their legs” before checking them out.
We didn’t feel like granting this place the leeway. They didn’t really need it, despite the scalding yelp reviews I discovered after the fact.
After almost needing a nap because clearly there was some indica that snuck in to my “try to be strictly sativa” nug jar, and Haryn needing me to get the jaws of life out because her necklace got caught on the seatbelt and she was stuck behind the wheel in the drivers seat for a good five minutes before I figured out to stop standing on the sidewalk and just go rescue her, we made it to the Wilshire hot spot.
Forget about the fact that not one thing at the Vietnamese inspired place couldn’t be made with out cilantro, not one thing was less than awesome.
Here are my favorite dishes in order:
Chicken Dumplings – self assembly with a lettuce wrap.
Brussles Sprouts – fried with shrimp rice crisps and purple basil.
Crab Spring Roll – with chervil and yuzu.
Scallops – tiny little guys wading in a bath of light almost Bernaise-esque sauce with a quince/apricot like “sea-buckthorn” paste.
Amberjack – my least exciting dish but it was light and not overly pickled.
The Cocktails – #18 was the one to go for but we’re glad we tried #38 just to know it’s tartness beneath coconut frothiness exists.
The Desserts were even better and I’m not a dessert girl (literally, we almost got an egg dish and a sweet potato dish instead, but the waiter made us get these two desserts…)
The lime was rad.
But the coconut made me cry. That take a minute, eyes closed, head posed, sit in silence type of moments.
I don’t normally dream of desserts and I’d go back for this shit.
Red Medicine: NOT the Robitussin (i.e. Blech!) kind!

Substance Free

I’ve been on the master cleanse for the past 10 days. I do it every January. I still go out, I still do stuff sober and hungry. I just haven’t had any good stories this week. I went to the mint twice. Once for Pimps of Joytime and another for Stanton’s show. It’s not that nothing exciting happens when I don’t drink. It’s just that nothing exciting happened this time when I didn’t drink. It’s just a coincidence. Really. Don’t read into it too much.

Pasa on Bar Masa – Amateur Hour

The Masa bar meal we ventured out to for my mother’s bday last night had such a shamefully laughable incident, it’s just too good to keep to ourselves.
Our meal started out nicely. We were paying through the nose for deliciously concocted cocktails and well executed sushi, as expected. The sweet shrimp with uni sotomaki was my personal fave. My $25 cocktails were fantastic. I had been toying with the idea of concocting a shiso mojito and they had one here which validated my bar mixing instincts. But their Mikan Agave – don julio 1942 tequila, sudachi (a Japanese lime relative), and fresh Japanese tangerine juice took the prize. My dad and I could have thrown back six of them each.
Incidentally, we ordered one dish that was tricky. The seared kobe – medium rare. It came out well done on the ends and medium in the middle. At $70 for the appetizer, we assumed the kitchen would want it to come out as we’d like. The waiter asked how it looked, we said it was a little overdone, he said, “I’ll send it back.” Not a problem.
Two minutes later, this frazzled pipsqueak of a man who called himself a manger said he just wanted to “sort out what the problem was, because the ends are always more done than the middle.” We said, make the ends less done and the middle less done than this. (and thanks for the lesson and attitude?) He kept making it a problem. My mother was already fully annoyed that we were bothered and argued with, and with no apology. Most restaurants of that caliber would have been embarrassed that the well done meat was sent out to begin with. Plus the manager was agitated, rude, and condescending. Not good to expose to the customers.
Then it got even better. The manager returns about five minutes later and says, “Chef says you should order something else. He doesn’t think he can cook it to your liking.”
I said, “If this is medium rare, just make us one, rare please.”
He argued. He mocked my shocked face. I just repeatedly suggested to bring us one that was rare.
Ten minutes later it came out perfectly. Hassle unnecessary?
How shameful and embarrassing on Masa’s part. (though my mother will add “no candle in the dessert we paid $30 for” to the chiding list.)

Final Monday Night Matchup Menus (Last Week’s) – New Orleans Saints!

I’m in Vermont with the boys during the storm! We’re making a Saints meal in my country house. The Saints are one of my favorite teams so it’s nice to end the season in their honor. Here’s what I’m throwing together:

Starter: Drew Brie with Marques ColStone Ground Crackers

Marques Colston - WR NO

Drew Brees - QB NO

Side: Jeremy Shiitockey with PiHeirloom Tomatoes

Pierre Thomas - RB NO

Jeremy Shockey - TE NO

Main: Fire Grilled Tracy Porterhouse

Tracy Porter - CB NO

Drew Brie with Marques ColStone Ground Crackers

We’re starting off easy. Cheese and Crackers.

Jeremy Shiitockey with PiHeirloom Tomatoes

Ingredients:
3 c shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 box baby heirloom tomatoes, sliced in half
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T lemon oil
olive oil
salt
pepper

Procedure:
Salt the tomatoes. Heat some olive oil in a pan over medium high. Throw in the scallions and onions and cook until translucent, about 2-3 min. Add the mushrooms and cook another few minutes until the shitakes have absorbed the liquid and released it. Add the garlic and tomatoes and stir in. Season with salt, pepper, and the lemon oil. Stir. Cook for another few minutes and serve.

Fireplace Tracy Porterhouse

Ingredients:
Porterhouse steak
salt
pepper
fireplace grill

Procedure:
Liberally season both sides of the steaks with salt and pepper. Build a fire. Once it’s died down so that the flame is still going but is below the grill, place the steaks on the fire. Cook each side for about 4-5 minutes, depending on the height of the flame and your desired cook level, I like medium rare.
Don’t play with the steaks on the fire, it ruins the crust.

Now Man Up! And Chow Down!!

Zucker MOT XXmas Dinner

We hosted an all girls (XX) MOT Xmas dinner. Was my dad psyched or scared?

Jim and the Ladies


He was fine, because here’s what we noshed on:
Laney’s cheese plate from Murray’s
Joy’s salami from Katz’s
Betti’s Spinach Mushroom Lasagna
Jordan’s Meat Lasagna
Simple Salad
Green Beans and Tomatoes
White Peppermint Bark
Semi Peppermint Bark
Lemon Gingerbread Blackberry Trifle
Chocolate Terrine

Here is the bulk of the recipes. Enjoy!

Jordan’s Meat Lasagna

Serves: 12-15
Ingredients:
1 box lasagna noodles (we used big fresh ones), boiled and soaking in water and 2 T olive oil.
2 eggs
15 oz. ricotta cheese
4 c fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
1 c Parmesan cheese
1 lb ground beef
½ lb pork sausage, decased
1 large eggplant
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 T tomato paste
½ c fresh parsley, chopped
½ c fresh basil, chopped
2 jars marinara sauce (favorite store bought is Rao’s, but you can make your own)
Prodcedure:
Halve the eggplant lengthwise. SWOOPS both flesh sides, place in a foil lined tray skin side down and roast in a preheated oven at 425 for 30 min (or until cooked through). Let cool and scoop out the flesh from the purple skin. Discard skin and set eggplant meat aside.
In a large fry pan, heat add 1 T olive oil and cook the onions until translucent (med high heat). Add the garlic and the two meats (beef and pork). Cook until meats are browned. Stir in the tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper. Add the eggplant flesh and mix well to incorporate into the sauce. Reduce heat and simmer 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Mix ricotta, eggs, parmesan, basil, and parsley in a bowl.
Preheat the oven to 375.
Spray pan a non-stick spray.
Assemble the layers of the lasagna as follows:
1) Layer of marinara sauce
2) Layer of noodles (mine are so big I only need 2-3, just use however many it takes to complete one layer.
3) Layer of the ricotta mixture
4) Layer of the meat sauce
5) Layer of the sliced mozzeralla
Reapeat 2-3 times depending on the depth of your pan and the thickness of your layers.
Add an extra layer of Parmesan to the top mozzerella layer.
Bake for 50 minutes covered with foil, remove foil and cook another 5-15 minutes till cheese is melted and lasagna is
bubbly.
Let sit for a least 30 minutes to set before you cut it.
I prefer it room temperature or as leftovers the next day! It can be too soupy if it’s too hot.
At our party I had a “slight disagreement” with my mother over this. She wanted it served warmer, I said I didn’t. I agreed to have her put it in the oven to warm at 200. A half hour later my dad said there was something burning in the oven; she had put it in at 500. Then made a huge deal and apologized to everyone because I made her feel she had “ruined my dish.”
My friend Leslie said, “Jord, don’t worry, the lasagna’s great. It’s not that badly burnt. She didn’t burn it on purpose.”
I said, “No, she didn’t burn it on purpose, but she went against what I asked on purpose.”
“You just completely summed up and described the inherent basis of every mother/daughter relationship,” said Leslie.
All good laughs in the end.

Betti’s Spinach Mushroom Bechamel Lasagna

adapted from Emeril’s recipe
Ingredients:
2 lbs fresh spinach
5 T butter
¼ c shallots, minced
1 T garlic, minced
1 lb portobello mushrooms, chopped
1 t salt
1 t pepper
¼ c flour
4 c milk, whole
¼ t nutmeg, fresh grated
3 c Parmesan cheese
15 oz ricotta, fresh
1 c grated mozzerella
1 c fresh mozzerella
1 lb fresh lasagna noodles, cooked and soaking in a dish of water and olive oil.
Procedure:
Preheat oven to 350.
Boil spinach in salted water for 2 min. Drain and squeeze dry in a mesh strainer. Finely chop. Set aside.
In a large pan, melt 1 T butter on med high. Add the shallots and garlic. Stir and cook for one minute. Add portobellos, some salt and pepper, and cook for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms have cooked. (You know this when they’ve released their juices and soaked some back up again. Remove from heat and set aside.
For the bechamel, melt 4 T butter in a saucepan on medium heat. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to make a roux, about 2 min. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly until thickened, about 3 min. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Stir. Add 1 c Parmesan and stir. Cook for 2 min. Remove from heat and set aside.
Combine the ricotta and shredded mozzerella in a bowl and fold in ¼ c of the bechamel.
To assemble:
Prepare a lasagna dish with non-stick spray.
Layer 1) Bechamel sauce
Layer 2) Noodles
Layer 3) Mushrooms and spinach
Layer 4) Fresh mozzerella
Repeat layers ending with mozzerella on top and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 min. Uncover and bake another 10 min until top is golden brown.
Let rest for at least 20 min before serving.

White Peppermint Bark

Ingredients:
16 oz. white chocolate
1 c peppermint candies, crushed
1 t peppermint extract
Procedure:
In a double boiler, melt down the white chocolate. Place peppermint candies in a sealed ziplock and crush them into little bits by using a meat pounder (or a hammer). Stir the little peppermint pieces into the melted white chocolate, along with the peppermint extract. Line a tray with some wax paper using a knife along the edges for a snug fit. Pour the chocolate onto the wax paper and spread into a thin even layer. Refrigerate until hardened, at least an hour. Break into various sized pieces and you have your bark!
The Semi-Sweet Chocolate Bark is made the same way except the white chocolate is replaced with semi-sweet chocolate.

Lemon Gingerbread Blackberry Trifle

adapted from Bobby Flay’s Recipe
There are four layer components to the trifle. Make each separately.

Gingerbread:
Ingredients:
3 c flour
2 T ground ginger
2 T baking soda
1 ½ T ground cinnamon
1 t ground cloves
½ t ground nutmeg
big pinch salt
3 T minced crystallized ginger
10 T unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c golden brown sugar, packed
3 large eggs
1 c molasses
1 c boiling water
1 T grated lemon peel
Procedure:
Preheat to 350 degrees F.
Spray a sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment or wax paper; use knife to trim edges for a snug fit. Spray paper. Sift flour and next 6 ingredients into medium bowl. Mix in crystallized ginger. Using an electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in brown sugar. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Gradually beat in molasses, followed by 1 cup boiling water. Beat in grated lemon peel. Gradually beat in sifted dry ingredients. Pour batter to prepared pan. Bake until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the pan sides. Flip upside down onto a rack to remove from sheet. Peel off paper. Cool for at least 30 min. and cut into 1-inch cubes.

Whipped Cream:
Ingredients:
2 c heavy cream
2 T confectioners sugar
1 t vanilla extract
1 T dark rum
Procedure:
With an electric mixer, beat heavy cream until it starts to thicken. Add the sugar, vanilla, and rum. Continue beating until you get stiff peaks and it turns into whipped cream. (Don’t overdo it, you’ll get sweet butter…)

Lemon Curd Filling:
Ingredients:
6 meyer lemons
2 c sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
6 large eggs
1 c meyer lemon juice
big pinch salt
Procedure:
Peel the zest off of the lemons but don’t go too thick, you don’t want the white pith in there. Put the zest in a food processor and grind. Add the sugar and pulse until the zest is very finely minced into the sugar.
Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and beat in the sugar and lemon mixture. Add the eggs 1 at a time, and then add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until well combined.
Pour the mixture into a saucepan and cook over very low heat until thickened (about 10 min.), stirring constantly. The lemon curd will thicken. Remove from the heat and cool or refrigerate for at least an hour.
Fold in half of the whipped cream until combined. Refrigerate both the curd and the remaining whipped cream (to use as top layer of trifle).

Blackberry Sauce:
Ingredients:
2 pints fresh blackberries (or 1 bag frozen)
1/3 c sugar
2 T raspberry liquor
1 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
½ t cinnamon
Procedure:
Place blackberries and sugar in a medium saucepan and cook until the berries are soft and the sugar has melted. Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth. Pour through a strainer into a bowl. Stir in the liquor, lemon juice, and cinnamon.

Assembly:
Using a trifle bowl, start with an even layer of gingerbread cubes, top with a layer of the lemon curd mixture, and a layer of the blackberry sauce. Repeat until you get to the top of the bowl. Put the remaining whipped cream in a layer as the top. Cover and refrigerate for at least a few hours hours before serving.

Chocolate Terrine

Ingredients:
½ c pistachio nuts, shelled and peeled
½ c raisins
½ c dried cherries
½ c glazed oranges
6 oz bittersweet chocolate
½ c sugar
1 c butter cookies, crumbled
4 T water
1 c cocoa powder
1½ sticks butter
1 T Grand Marnier
1 egg
2 egg yolks
Procedure:
Grease a rectangular terrine shaped mold.
In a bowl, mix together the nuts, fruit, and cookie bits. Set aside.
In a double boiler, melt the chocolate. Set aside.
In a saucepan, combine sugar and water and stir over low heat until dissolved into a syrup.
In another bowl (can use an electric mixer), combine cocoa powder and softened butter. Stir in the sugar syrup, melted chocolate, and Grand Marnier. Add the egg and yolks and mix well. Fold in the nuts, fruit, and cookies. Pour the batter into the mold and press to set. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Run a knife along the sides of the terrine. Dip into a bowl of warm water. Invert mold and slide terrine onto a platter. Return to the fridge for 30 min. When rehardened, slice terrine into ½” slices and serve.

Week 15 Wrap Up and Monday Night Matchup Menus: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings

It’s a Brett Chevre running theme:

Brett Favre - QB MIN

Johnny Lox and Goat Cheese Stuffed Matt ForTaters

Matt Forte - RB CHI

Johnny Knox - WR CHI

Visanthe Panko Crusted Goat Cheese and Tomato Salad

Visanthe Schiancoe - TE MIN

and a Guavaris Jaiquirison for the cocktail

Tavaris Jackson - QB MIN

Johnny Lox and Goat Cheese Stuffed Matt ForTaters


Ingredients:
4 oz. smoked salmon, finely chopped (Yes, technically this is not lox, it’s nova; lox is cured and nova is cold-smoked, but I like it better.)
4 oz. soft goat cheese
3 T dill, finely chopped
2 T tarragon, finely chopped
2 T chives, finely chopped
3 T scallions, finely chopped
1 T lemon zest (1 small lemon)
2 T lemon juice (1 small lemon)
12 small potatoes (new or creamers work well)
1 c black sesame seeds
olive oil
salt
pepper

Procedure:
Boil the potatoes until slightly tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and let cool. Slice them in half and scoop out the middle using a melon baller or a paring knife, making them into tiny little bowls. Discard the center (or save for mashed potatoes!). Dip the shells into some olive oil and place skin side down on a foil lined tray. Broil the hollowed potatoes until brown and crisping, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from oven and drain on paper towel lined platter.
In a bowl, combine the smoked salmon, chevre, dill, tarragon, chives, scallions, lemon juice and zest until well incorporated. Scoop a little of the salmon mixture and roll it into a ball. Place the black sesame seeds on a plate. Roll the salmon filling ball in the sesame seeds until nicely covered. Pop the sesame coated salmon ball into a potato shell. Repeat with the rest. Aren’t they cute?!?!

Visanthe Panko Crusted Goat Cheese Salad

Ingredients:
2 oz. chevre log
2 Roma tomatoes, slow roasted
1 Persian cucumber
½ avocado
2 T pea sprouts
1 head frisee
1 T dressing of choice
1 c panko breadcrumbs, seasoned with parley, salt and pepper
1 egg
½ c flour
olive oil

Procedure:
Using unflavored dental floss, cut the goat cheese log into discs ½” thick. Place flour in a bowl. Beat egg with a t of water in another bowl. Place seasoned panko in a third bowl. (You can toast the panko in the oven at 425 for five minutes beforehand to bring out the flavor.) Dip each goat cheese disc into the flour bowl and fully cover. Then dredge it in the egg and then the panko to fully coat. Place coated cheese on a wax paper lined tray. Repeat until all of the goat cheese is coated in the breadcrumbs. Place the wax tray in the freezer for at least 2 hours.
When you’re ready to make the salad, heat some oil in a pan on high heat. Cook the frozen cheese in the oil until browning. Flip and brown the other side. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.
Throw some washed frisee in a bowl. Coat with dressing of choice. Add a few halved roasted tomatoes, sliced and salted cucumber, avocado, and pea shoots. Place the panko coated goat cheese on top. Enjoy!

Guavaris Jaiquirison

Ingredients:
2 oz light rum
1 oz lime juice
1 oz simple syrup
1 oz guava, muddled

Procedure:
Muddle guava in shaker. Add rum, lime juice, and simple syrup. Pour over ice.

Week 15 Wrap Up

And then there was one. Smack and Cheese made it to the GG2FF Su Pa Bo! (Thank you Vick, Nicks, Marshall, and Jets D!)
Fat Sweaters got knocked out by Eat Prey Destroy. (Like I’d have started Garrard over Brady…)

Ex Latke

I’m a latke girl. Fried potato mixture adorned with any numerous divine trimmings is worth 8 days of presents to me.
So I always try to come up with fun flavors.

Last year, in NYC we had mushroom, triple onion, zucchini/carrot, and goat cheese. This year I made sweet potato/beet, bacon/leek, spinach/ricotta, and butternut squash/cinnamon.

Dear God, the bacon leek latkes were a hit. Just sayin. – JZ

My Hannukah party also happened to coincide with my ex’s (from last year) episode of Millionaire Matchmaker airing on Bravo. So it turned into latke, wine, and screening party. It was a pretty brutal episode. Most people realize that reality TV is still TV, and hence is manipulated to not really be reality. But the poor guy really got a beating. I feel bad.

Here are the recipes for the latkes:

Sweet Potato and Beet Latkes

Sweet Potato Beet Latkes


Ingredients:
3 sweet potatoes (They’re light in color – the orange guys are the yams. Both look like turds to me though. You can’t even take me to the market.)
3 small beets
1 yellow onion
1 c flour
3 eggs
oil
salt
pepper
ice on hand for oil splatter burns (latke making is not for the meek)
Procedure:
Peel the potatoes and the beets. After they’re peeled you can put them in a bowl with water to prevent color change. Shred the potatoes and the beets. Using a Cuisinart is not cheating. I’ve done both ways to humor myself. Cuisinart wins. Throw grated sweet potatoes and beets in a colander. Grate the onion. Add it to the colander. Sprinkle with a ton of salt. Seriously, at least a T, potatoes need salt. Grind some pepper and let it drain for a bit. Whisk the eggs. Squeeze out excess moisture and transfer to a big bowl. Add the eggs and flour and mix everything with your hands until well combined. Pour some oil (I usually use canola) in a fry pan and heat it to high. Spoon a little of the latke batter into the pan and press down with a spatula to form a little pancake. Depending on the size of your pan and the size of your pancakes you can make 2 – 6 at a time. When the under side is starting to brown, flip them over and cook the other side. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Serve with plain yogurt or apple sauce. Fine, serve with sour cream too. (These ARE the veggie ones though, just sayin.)

Bacon and Leek Latkes

BACON leek latkes


Ingredients:
4 lbs. potatoes (I use golden russet)
2 lbs. bacon
2 leeks, finely chopped, rinsed and drained
1 yellow onion
½ c chives, finely chopped
1 c flour
3 eggs
oil
salt
pepper
ice on hand for oil splatter burns (latke making is serious business)
Procedure:
Place the bacon strips on a foil lined tray and put in a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes until crispy. Remove from oven, transfer to a paper towel lined plate and crumble. Set aside.
Peel the potatoes. After they’re peeled you can put them in a bowl with water to prevent color change. Shred the potatoes and the onion. Again, using a Cuisinart is not cheating. I’ve done both ways to humor myself. (That’s what she said.) Cuisinart wins. Throw grated potatoes and onions in a colander. Sprinkle with a ton of salt. I don’t measure because I don’t want to know how much I’m using. Ignorance is bliss in this case… Grind some pepper and let it drain for a bit. Whisk the eggs. Squeeze out excess moisture and transfer to a big bowl. Add the bacon, leeks, chives, eggs and flour and mix everything with your hands until well combined. Pour some oil (I usually use canola) in a fry pan and heat it to high. Spoon a little of the latke batter into the pan and press down with a spatula to form a little pancake. Depending on the size of your pan and the size of your pancakes you can make 2 – 6 at a time. When the under side is starting to brown, flip them over and cook the other side. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Serve with sour cream. Brag about your bacon latkes.

Spinach Ricotta Latkes

The Spinach Ricotta was the crowd fave


Ingredients:
3 lbs. potatoes (I use golden russet)
1 lb. box of baby spinach, finely chopped
1 8 oz. container of ricotta cheese, drained
1 yellow onion
½ c chives, finely chopped
1 c flour
3 eggs
oil
salt
pepper
ice on hand for oil splatter burns (latke making aint no joke)
Procedure:
Peel the potatoes. After they’re peeled you can put them in a bowl with water to prevent color change. Shred the potatoes and the onion. Do everyone a favor and just use a Cuisinart. Throw grated potatoes and onions in a colander. Sprinkle with a ton of salt. Don’t pay attention to the massive amount you used. Grind some pepper and let it drain for a bit. Whisk the eggs. Squeeze out excess moisture and transfer to a big bowl. Add the spinach, ricotta, eggs and flour and mix everything with your hands until well combined. Pour some oil (I usually use canola) in a fry pan and heat it to high. Spoon a little of the latke batter into the pan and press down with a spatula to form a little pancake. Depending on the size of your pan and the size of your pancakes you can make 2 – 6 at a time. When the under side is starting to brown, flip them over and cook the other side. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Serve with any topping that makes you happy.

Butternut Squash Latkes

Butternut Squash Latkes


Ingredients:
2 lbs. potatoes (I use golden russet)
1 butternut squash, peeled and seeded
1 T cinnamon
1 yellow onion
½ c tarragon, finely chopped
1 c flour
3 eggs
oil
salt
pepper
ice on hand for oil splatter burns (latke making at your own risk)
Procedure:
Peel the potatoes. After they’re peeled you can put them in a bowl with water to prevent color change. Shred the potatoes, squash, and the onion. Fine, you’re hard core, use a hand grater. But if you use a Cuisinart, don’t look to me to call you lazy. I try to use equal parts potato/squash. Depending on the size of the squash you may not use all of either one. Throw grated potatoes, squash and onions in a colander. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Use your own judgment on seasoning. Whisk the eggs. Squeeze out excess moisture and transfer to a big bowl. Add the cinnamon, tarragon, eggs and flour and mix everything with your hands until well combined. Pour some oil (I usually use canola) in a fry pan and heat it to high. Spoon a little of the latke batter into the pan and press down with a spatula to form a little pancake. Depending on the size of your pan and the size of your pancakes you can make 2 – 6 at a time. When the under side is starting to brown, flip them over and cook the other side. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Serve with chocolate sauce. Kidding. Use what you like.

Monday Night Matchup Menus: New York Jets @ New England Patriots

OK, this is the 2nd Monday night game for both of our teams this week! If you don’t want to repeat making the Tomato Bready or the Mark SanCheese Dip, here are some more options!

Watercress Welker Salad with Dijon Branch Dressing

Deion Branch - WR NE

Wes Welker - WR NE

B.”L.T.”

LaDainian Tomlinson "L.T." - RB NYJ

Dirty Antonio CroMartini

Antonio Cromartie - CB NYJ

Watercress Welker Salad with Dijon Branch Dressing

Ingredients:
Dressing:
1 T garlic, minced (I make mine slightly pasty with salt and the back of a knife)
2 T dijon mustard
2 T lemon juice
6 T olive oil
Splash of hot sauce
salt
freshly ground pepper

Pecans:
½ c pecans
1 T butter
1 t cayenne
½ t Hawaiian salt

Pepitas:
½ c pepitas
1 t Hawaiian salt

Salad:
1 pear, diced
1 head watercress
1 c baby arugula


Procedure
Dressing:
Put all of the ingredients in a jar, secure the lid, and shake!

Pecans:
Melt the butter in a pan on medium heat, add the nuts and the spices and stir until well coated. Toast in pan for a few minutes but do not let the pecans burn. Remove from heat.

Pepitas:
Toast the seeds in a pan on medium heat, stirring so they don’t burn. Add salt and stir. Remove from heat when the seeds are browning.

Salad:
Rip the leaves off of the stems of the watercress head. Throw in a bowl with the arugula. Add the pear, nuts, and seeds. Dress with Dijon and toss to coat well.

B.L.T.

Ingredients:
1 T chipotle mayo
½ avocado, sliced
4 strips bacon, crispy
2 plum tomatoes, slow roasted
½ c arugula
2 slices bread (I use whole wheat or sourdough)
4 leaves basil
2 slices, cucumber
1 soft boiled egg, sliced
olive oil
aged balsamic vinegar
salt
pepper

Procedure:
To make the chipotle mayonnaise, add 1 c mayo, 1 t adobo sauce, 1 chipotle pepper, ½ lime, juiced, salt and pepper to a blender. Blend until smooth.

To make the bacon, place the bacon strips on a foil lined tray and place in a 425 degree oven for about 15 minutes until crispy. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain the strips.

To make the tomatoes, slice the plum tomatoes lengthwise and place skin down on a foil lined tray. SWOOPS the seed side and drizzle with a little balsamic as well. Cook in a 275 degree oven for about 3 – 4 hours, depending on the size of the tomatoes, until they are about half way shriveled, not completely dry.

To prepare the cumber, peel the dark skin off. Then using a cheese slicer, make vertical strips of the cucumber to get thin strips of the cucumber lengthwise. Season with salt.

To prepare the egg, place an egg in a pot and fill with water. Bring water to a boil. Once water is at a rolling boil, cook for 5 minutes. Remove egg and run under cold water. Crack and peel the shell. Slice the egg. The whites should be cooked and then yolks should still be dark yellow and slightly soft, almost runny.
To prepare the lettuce, toss arugula with olive oil, salt, pepper, (SWOOPS) and some aged balsamic vinegar. I sometimes go to town and use TRUFFLE SALT!!! MMMmmmmmmm!

To arrange the sammie: Spread some mayo on one slice of bread. Add a layer of avocado. Add a layer of egg. Add a layer of cucumber. Add a layer of basil. Add a layer of bacon. On the other piece of bread, add a layer of dressed lettuce and a layer of tomatoes. Close the sandwich. I like to weight it down in a heated pan to toast the bread and press it all together.
Add extra bacon if L.T. gets a TD!

Dirty Antonio CroMartini

Ingredients:
2 oz vodka, good (I like Belvedere, but had Grey Goose in the house leftover from a recent guest.)
1 oz olive juice (the brine from the can or jar)
3 blue cheese stuffed olives
splash hot sauce

Procedure:
I stuff my own olives and I don’t make a piping bag out of a plastic ziplock, I use my fingers. Take a pitted green olive and some crumbled blue cheese and stuff some of the cheese in the hole of the olive until it’s almost bursting.
Put some ice in a shaker. Add the vodka, olive juice, and hot sauce. Shake, Shake, Shake! Sift the liquid out of the shaker and into a martini glass. Poke a toothpick through three blue cheese stuffed olives and stick in the glass. And good for you if you don’t spill it. To me, martini glasses are the stilettos of barware: best looking, least functional.
Extra shot of vodka if Cromartie gets a pick!

Now Man Up! And Chow Down!