Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Back home to the corner

We made the 750 mile trek back to South Georgia, where I grew up to visit mother and other family. I know that JW has a NYC trip to talk about, and I have a couple of restaurant reviews that we did in Saint Louis prior to the holiday. Also, we're going to have a tamalada in preparation for Thanksgiving. Now's the time for soup recipes, braised meats, and one pot wonders. Let's hear it. Will post again very soon, and we'll have a lot to talk about. Oh, and let's not forget, "Clean, Old-fashioned Hate." That's right, the yearly battle of the good versus the irrelevant: Georgia vs Georgia Tech. Plus, expect an Athens restaurant review coming as well.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sometimes Less is More

As I reminisce about some of my favorite meals, rarely does it get fancy-steak frite comes to mind. Last night I realized what Sundays must have been like before everyone ate standing up.

The meal: roasted chicken and 'roasters' with steamed brocoli.

A simple roasting pan with a good bird, legs tied-stuffed with rosemary, thyme, sage and a cut lemon. Salt/pepper over the top-into the 400 degree gas oven for 20min/pound, add the roasters for about 40min at the same temp in the other oven and that's it. Pull the bird, deglaze the pan with a little stock for gravy and all set.

I guess the important lesson was the ease of the meal, little need to tend it and, most importantly, the freeing up of time to spend enjoying with friends sitting around a fire, good conversation and better wine.

May the upcoming holiday season be fierce with friends, family and good libations-not necessarily in that order.


My 4th trip to Philadelphia for the American Society of Nephrology Annual Meeting. City actually has some great food and I have eaten a few of my favorite meals, all-time there (Morimoto's & The Fountain at the Four Seasons Hotel). This go around, I had one memorable meal at "Cuba Libre". The menu is designed to reflect what Cuban food would be like if Castro hadn't fucked everything up...


Restaurant has all kinds of Carribean/South American beverages and an extensive rum list...mojitos are made with fresh guarapo (hand-pressed sugar cane juice). Very tasty!

We got their tasting menu for only $39/each. Don't know how they stay in business. This is what we had

Ceviche!: Baja bay scallops, blackened tomatillo-truffle sauce, goat cheese confetti, flat bread
Chicken empanada with corn & jack cheese on a tomatillo relish
Guava BBQ Ribs on a jicama-Sambal salad
Black-bean hummus with plantain & yucca chips

Ensalad del Pais: mixed greens, arugula, jicama, pepitas, orange supremes w/ Sherry vinaigrette
Suntanned Salmon: Chilean salmon with honey-mango glaze with star anise tomato sauce
Camarones con Cana: pan seared sugarcane skewered jumbo shrimp, mango BBQ glaze
Churrasco a la Cubana: grilled skirt steak on roasted garlic mashed potatoes, parsley, lemon and onion sauce, watercress and rosemary mushroom escabeche salad
Cuban black beans and rice
Maduros: fried ripe plantains
Sauteed young mustard greens in a spicy chorizo broth

Coconut rice pudding with chopped coconut macaroons
Chocolate-cinnomin fallen down cake

Best $40 ever spent. My favorite was the ceviche by far. So much so that I went back there by myself at at some at the bar. I wanted Jennifer to try, so I came up with my own recipe that was surprisingly close...I took several short-cuts, but here goes-

12 oz bag frozen sea scallops (look for ones vacuum packed without any ice crystals), thawed in refrigerator overnight
1 large naval orange, juiced & strained
4 persian limes, juiced & strained
1 serrano chili, finely minced (flesh only)
1 chipotle chile, finely minced
3 Tablespoons minced red onion
1/2 tsp truffle oil
4 tablespoons store bought tomatillo sauce
About 3 drops of liquid smoke
Crumbled goat cheese

Best to make over 2 daysAfter thawing scallops, combine in non-reactive bowl with juice, chiles, and onion and "cook" for about 4 hours. Strain out most of the juice (or scallops become overcooked and mushy), cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to eat.Before serving, strain again and toss with tomatillo sauce, truffle oil, and liquid smoke (careful with this stuff, I added b/c I didn't want to make my own smoked tomatillo sauce, it worked well). To finish combine with as much goat cheese as you like (I used about 1/4 cup). Enjoy! I also bought some "veggie chips" in the hippie section of the grocery store that were made with yucca, plaintains etc that worked very well.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

2008 Season, some perspective perhaps?

Man, what a game. I mean, really, there are parts of this game that just made you sick with rage, and other parts that really made you confident that everything was okay.
I agree with JW, there are a lot of naysayers out there that want to fire everybody on the entire team, I don't think that's the answer. But, what is it going to take to push us over the top? Is it good luck, cushy schedule, various stars coming into alignment?

The reality is that we have had a really good season, albeit a disappointment based on what our expectations were at the beginning of the year. The frustrations that I think any of us express as fans comes from our fear that even with a great team, we were unable to reach a championship level. It's not so much that we're out of the running for the SEC and the national championship, it's that we didn't even look like contenders this year. Right now, the whole does not appear to be greater than the sum of its parts.

I sure won't claim to have any of the answers, I think that we really have to put all of this in context. We're 9-2, assured of a bowl game. There are a lot of teams out there (Tennessee, Auburn, Clemson, Michigan) that aren't even anywhere close to that. If this is a down year for us, I'll take it. If fans feel like this, don't you think the team feels it that much more? Without question. But, don't you get the sense that the team and the coaches and even the fans are just worn out? I think the injuries have taken a much greater toll on this team than we can ever know. There has been a lack of cohesiveness that's hard to put a finger on, but there are a lot of players with great skill who sometimes look a little bit lost out there.

We have struggled all year with gaining the upper hand in momentum and keeping it. We're fortunate that we have skilled enough players to overcome that to an extent, but it's not easy to do. The Florida and Alabama games were lost in avalanche fashion, one in the first half, the other in the second. It's a big reason that South Carolina, Kentucky, Auburn, Georgia Southern, Vanderbilt, and even LSU have played us as close as they have.

Frankly, we need to quit whining like we have all year (rankings, coaches, players) and enjoy what we have. Hopefully, we'll see something in the next couple of games to get our hopes up again and increase our expectations for next season.

BTW, do Caleb King and Southerland still play on our team?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Crispy red snapper with roasted beet chimichurri

This is a take from Suzanne Goin's book Sunday Suppers at Lucques. If you don't have this book I highly recommend it. I really like the way she splits up her food into seasons, which is how we should all think when we're cooking or ordering. Good tomatoes in January. They don't exist unless you have to blow a lot of cost to get them from South Africa or something.


Take some red snapper fillets. I bought a whole fish and filleted them myself (not very well, I must admit). Marinate in harissa.

North african "condiment" similar to adobo in mexican cooking with a twist.

6 chiles guajillo or ancho
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 tsp smoked paprika (add liquid smoke just a touch if you can't find it)
1/2 tsp cumin
Small can of tomatoes or two romas diced
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp sherry vinegar
1/2 cup EVOO
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Pan saute the chiles until they're smoking, not burned. Put them in a bowl of hot water and put a paper towel on top to keep them wet all over.
Discard the oil (if you used too much) and cook the tomatoes in the same pan.
Put everything in a blender except the olive oil and puree, adding the olive oil slowly as you go. Balance seasoning, voila. There's your marinade and it's very versatile. Put it on park, serve with bruschetta/crostini.

Marinate the fish for a few hours, then scrape of the excess. Personally, I like to have the skin on the fish.
Heat a large (13" stainless or equiv) saute pan and put plenty of oil so it stands about 1/4 inch thick. Heat to medium high (if you do high, it will burn the outside and won't cook inside that well, fine if you 'just seared' a raw center, and it depends on the quality of your fish if you can do it that way). Cook skin side down until brown (a few minutes) and flip for about a 1/3 as long as you cooked them on the skin side.

Accompaniment: pureed carrots, beet chimichurri

I personally didn't make the pureed carrots, but I did make the beet chimichurri.

Roasted Beets
3-4 beets (bunch)
Roasting pan

Take your beets, clean them, and trim the stalks. Do not peel.
Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Place in a small roasting pan, and cover the bottom of the pan with water (key!).
Place in a 450 degree oven, tightly sealed with aluminum foil.
Give them around twenty minutes or so (until fork tender) then remove them and let them cool. Peel, cut into 1/4" slices and serve with your fish and chimichurri, or in salads "warm."


Handful of flat parsley
Handful of cilantro
Tsp of minced shallot
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lime juiced
High quality EVOO

Mix all but the oil into a bowl and stir together.
Add the olive oil much like you would a vinaigrette to balance the lime juice, but you don't have to add so much to make a true emulsion.
Add the beets to it and dress your fish with it, and serve.

I served it over beet greens (raw or sauteed, taste a lot like collards or turnip greens) and fish.
The beets give a really earthy flavor to whatever you add them too. Beware the freakin' juice is like indigo dye, it discolors your skin and your cutting board, but it washes out.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Capitol One or BUST!

It's hard to watch a game like UGA UK today. There's still a hangover from the Florida loss (blowout) and the stark realization that we're not as good as we either think we are or want to be. Personally, I'm glad that we can come out and play that poorly, lose a couple of key turnovers and STILL win.
Couple of comments and a couple of questions, then, at this point.
It was only a matter of time until our poor kickoff coverage was going to come up and bite us. Of negligible consolation is that they actually did not score the touchdown. It took 'em a couple of plays.
ANOTHER offensive lineman (Anderson?) went down and had to be replaced. It's not been since I think 2002 or earlier that I can remember this many key injuries. How can we expect to beat anyone when we don't even know who's going to be playing at what position?
Brian Mimbs is either red hot or ice cold. We need some consistency there. Although, the blown blocking assignment definitely contributed to the block. So, we had a blocked kick and a 19 yard punt.
Playcalling in the red zone. I can't possibly know what Bobo knows, but when you have 2nd and goal from the 3, two healthy fullbacks that are great blockers, and Knowshon Moreno, why would you pass? And of course, you have the gunslinger (Stafford) that knows that if he can buy enough time he can DEFINITELY make a play, which he did (corner of the endzone pass to AJ Green), but it's higher risk and has oftentime led to a sack. (Cue highlight reel)
At least Blair Walsh didn't have to try to kick a field goal. Good for him.
The stuff you thought you could depend on fails at a critical moment (Mo Mass 2 consecutive fumbles, then he torches them on the third...head-scratcher)
Defense. If you want to call it that. I really want to like Martinez, and I have no reason not to. I don't think that game in and game out he produces a quality product. Newsflash: do you think that Tech after getting crushed today isn't going to be looking at that game tape and thinking they have a legitimate chance to beat us, considering they run a lot of option, and we have NO idea how to defend it? It wasn't so much up the middle as it was around the edges. We did step up and clamp it down at the end. What about having to call a timeout at the end of the game because we weren't ready to field a defense after a punt? Where's the gamesmanship?
The killer penalty that drains our momentum. Facemask. Late hits. Hands to the face. We're marked and expected to make those dumb mistakes. And then we do.

(sighs longingly)
It's frustrating. I guess I'm mostly bummed that even if we win, it doesn't matter so much in the national and SEC picture. If we lose, this thing could come derailed in a hurry. Just because Hawaii's a nice place to visit, that's not the kind of bowl we want to be playing in.

See, all that, and we WON. Go you hairy 'Dawgs!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Equipment Review All-Clad Fryer

I don't do alot of frying, but I do love some steak frites and occassionally like to make fish-n-chips or fish tacos. I usually fry in one of my cast iron enamel Le Crueset dutch ovens, but for my birthday, Jennifer bought me an All-Clad 6 quart pot with a fry basket insert. Made some frites on Sunday and the curry-spiced cauliflower from the BLT cookbook on Monday night. The results were fantastic. The oil hardly loses any temperature and thus far produced the crispiest, least-greasy fried products ever to come from my kitchen! My usual set-up may have been sufficient, perhaps I wasn't using enough oil, but who cares, love kitchen toys!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I guess JW was right all along

That game was miserable. Like Bama, we were unable to capture any momentum and made big mistakes that became magnified by the field position gained after the turnovers. It stinks, but Richt will figure out how to right the ship. We deserved the timeouts at the end of the game, but we will not forget them.
It will always be great to be a Georgia Bulldog, I haven't lost faith, I just know that it's not going to happen this year.
That said, a couple of comments that I think deserve mention.
How the SEC could have allowed Penn Wagers to be the head official for this game is unthinkable. He became way too emtionally involved in last year's game and has continued to show some personal beef with us. Remember, it wasn't the coaches that made the decision to celebrate, it was the players that scripted it.
You really can't say that bad calls cost us this game, but they did cost us momentum which, in addition to huge mistakes, cost us this game. The receiver that pulls Asher Allen's jersey to run by him, the mythical illegal hands to the face on Tebow that cost us an interception, these and others were plays that robbed us of momentum, and led to UF touchdowns. I hope that this somehow creates some incentive for Knowshon and Stafford to stick around next year. Again, my faith is shaken but not stirred.