Fish Balls!

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Ok. So I can hear you snickering. And also wondering…why fish? Well the simple answer is that I don’t eat a great deal of meat–almost never at home–and I really like fish. Anyhow, these are really delicious. I’ve posted other variations of these here (the tuna and chickpea meatballs are one of my favorites). Anyhow, I hope you try these. You’ll be glad you did…

Fish Meatballs with Sun-Dried Tomatoes


Makes about 2 dozen small meatballs

1 pound fish, diced

½ cup diced sun dried tomatoes

2 large eggs

2 slices whole wheat bread, crusts removed and diced

1/2 small onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and grind to a coarse paste. Transfer to a clean bowl and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Shape into meatballs (if it feels to wet or loose add more bread or a few tablespoons of whole wheat flour, then allow it to rest for five minutes again). Cook the meatballs in a skillet, in an oven, or poach them in sauce.

Before the party…

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I was the first one in the kitchen today. This is not always the case but it was today. I enjoy it; I find it soothing. It was a busy day today–I knew this before I arrived–but in the early hours of this hundred-year-old kitchen by myself I find it tranquil. And as usual, I had a camera with me so I snapped a few photos. It relaxes me, at times, to look through a view finder. Anyhow, I thought I’d share a few of the photos.

Urban Simplicity.

Five (or Seven) Quotes from Julia Child


Julia Child (née McWilliams)
August 15, 1912 — August 13, 2004
“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.”
“I think every woman should have a blowtorch.”
“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”
“Everything in moderation… including moderation.”
“Remember, ‘No one’s more important than people’! In other words, friendship is the most important thing–not career or housework, or one’s fatigue–and it needs to be tended and nurtured.”
“To be a good cook you have to have a love of the good, a love of hard work, and a love of creating.”
“I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate.”
More Five Quotes

Bananas Foster!

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Okay. So a few things first. This dish is so easy to make you won’t even have to think about it. It is really, really delicious. But it’s also really rich (every so often is ok, right?). The image above is the recipe in large quantity; I made it today for 120 people (in that recipe there is 4lbs butter, 4 lbs brown sugar, an entire bottle of rum, and 65 bananas).  Also in the recipe above the bananas are sliced crosswise, rather than the traditional lengthwise (which I recommend, but a crosswise is easier to handle with a large batch). This dish was invented at Brennan’s Restaurant in New Orleans in 1951 to honor Richard Foster, who at the time lead the New Orleans Crime Commission and was a good friend of Owen Brennan and a  regular at the restaurant. Anyhow, here’s a recipe for four servings.

Bananas Foster

Serves 4

4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 medium bananas, peeled and sliced
1/2  cup dark rum
4 scoops French vanilla ice cream

Heat the butter and sugar in a large skillet; stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the bananas and cook them for a minute or so, until they begin to brown. Carefully stir in the rum and allow it to flambe. Spoon the bananas and sauce over the ice cream.

Urban Simplicity

Broth, Bouillon, Brodo (y Caldo)

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Good soup is one of the prime ingredients of good living. For soup can do more to lift the spirits and stimulate the appetite than any other one dish.”
LouisP. De Gouy

A couple things…

Firstly, I have relatively little trouble eating (and ultimatley sustaining on) meatless or near-meatless meals. Actually, I prefer it. But I have to admit the one thing that would keep me from being a full-blown vegetarian is meat-based stock or broth…or what a vegan friend of mine refers to as “meat juice.” Rice cooked in water is bland, but cook it in a rich broth and it is a meal unto itself. If you have a rich broth and want a soup the flavor is already accomplished…whatever else you add is simply a bonus. I add chicken stock to most things I cook aglio e olio. The famed chef, Auguste Escoffier–whom which chef De Gouy worked under–has said that (and I’m paraphrasing) with a good stock anything can be accomplished. Stock/broth, to me, is a form of alchemy. And I love how the kitchen smells with a broth slowly simmering away (home kitchen or work kitchen). Today at work was slow and I made seven pots of the golden stuff (about 40 gallons) and the kitchen smelled amazing. Anyhow, for recipes and lore about soup and stock read this article I wrote for Artvoice a couple years ago. In the meantime…simmer. 

Maccheroni al Forno con Quattro Formaggi

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That’s a pretty fancy name (referring to the title of this post) for something that translates to American English as Macaroni-and-Cheese (okay, macaroni-and-four-cheeses). The recipe is really, really easy, and really, really delicious. It may not be the healthiest thing to eat, but geeze o’ man is it delicious (did I mention how delicious this is?). The recipe pictured is the same one that is written below, but the beauty is that you can add your own twist to this. You can, for example, add or subtract whichever cheese(s) you like/dislike. Or better yet, add various other foods to the dish, such as broccoli florets, roast peppers (sweet or spicy), sausage (chorizo is awesome), diced ham, or even shrimp. Anyhow–and just to reiterate–this is super easy and super delicious. Enjoy.

(with four cheeses)
Makes about four servings
8 ounces elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 cup cream
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup shredded cheddar
¼ cup crumbled Gorgonzola
¼ cup grated Parmesan
¼ cup grated Fontinella
¾ cup breadcrumbs
Preheat and oven to 350F. Boil the macaroni in salted water, drain, and set aside. Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan then add the flour, stirring to form a roux. Cook the roux over medium heat—while stirring—for a few minutes, then add the milk, cream, salt, and pepper. Using a wire whisk, stir the sauce over medium-high heat until smooth. Continue stirring until it is heated and thick. Cook the sauce for a minute or two then remove from the heat. Add the cheeses and stir until smooth. Add the cooked macaroni to the pot and gently fold into the cheese sauce. Transfer to a lightly oiled skillet or other oven-proof baking dish and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs. Bake the macaroni-and-cheese for about 20 minutes, or until it is hot throughout, bubbling, and golden.

Urban Simplicity.

Things That Can be Carried on a Bike (#416 & #417), a Brief Story Behind it, and a Simple Recipe

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#416 (first photo above)…a canvas bag containing a few books; a double plastic bag containing a cooked turkey carcass, and a few vegetables for mirepoix.

#417 (second photo above)…a cardboard box containing 18 pint contains full of still-warm turkey broth.

Okay, so here’s the deal. Nearly every year, after our Thanksgiving feast at one of my sister’s houses, I take the turkey carcass(es) and make turkey broth with it/them the next day. I usually have off of work and it’s a great day just to take it easy around the house and let the broth simmer. Then, after straining and packaging it, I freeze it and have homemade broth for weeks/months ahead. Well this year I had to work…but I still took the turkey carcass (I’m a professional cook, I can’t let something that good simply be discarded). Anyhow, I carried the carcass to work, made the broth there (one of the many privileges of working in a kitchen), packaged it, and carried it home. It now resides in my small freezer for future use.

The recipe for turkey broth (which is super easy to make and really delicious) is below. For additional recipes that highlight ways in which to utilize Thanksgiving leftovers, click here or here.

Turkey Broth

1 cooked turkey carcass, and any scraps, juices, and pan scrapings
1 onion, quartered
1 carrot, cut into thirds
4 ribs celery, cut into thirds
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 bay leaves
10 whole black peppercorns
Combine the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed stockpot and cover with enough cold water to cover them by two inches. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a slow simmer. Cook for a few hours, skimming the surface as necessary. Strain and refrigerate until needed. 

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