Moving on up to the East Side!

I’ve copied all the site’s content to it’s new, permanent home at www.thursdaynightsmackdown.com, although it’ll be a few hours days (years?) until it’s completely prettified.

Technology isn’t on my side tonight, so I’m not going to officially switch hosts until everything I need (themes, plugin, all that shit) is uploaded to the new host. But you are forwarned. We should be all settled in by Monday.

Here’s a picture of some hummus and half a falafel to tide you over:

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Now Playing: Smackdown, Interrupted

Brian is out of town on business this Thursday evening.  As the Smackdown is purely a team event (at least at our house), and it was his week to pick the dish anyway, tonight’s match has been postponed.  Depending on whether or not I decide to wrest my attention away from the blogosphere and actually attend an actual social event with actual living people, there may or may not be a special edition Friday Night Smackdown.  Which I will call something else so the wrestling organization does not sue me.  I mean, look what they did to the World Wildlife Federation – if they’ll go after the pandas, they’ll damn sure come after me.  Heartless motherfuckers.  (Just kidding!  Don’t sue me for libel!)

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I Break for Pork

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Classic French Preparation: Pork Tenderloin avec Robitussin (Cough & Allergy)

First, let me tell you what the above is NOT. It is more definitely NOT a braised pork belly, which is what I had really, really wanted to make after having 2 excellent versions recently at new local fav Ox and Top Chef Season 1 Winner Harold Dieterle’s place, Perilla. The non-existent pork belly is not sitting atop a bed of braising lentils, nor is there a simply dressed salad of pea shoots alongside.

I tried to give you these things. I left my office (31st and 8th) early today to head to Whole Foods (24th and 7th) in search of the belly. There was none there, probably because there were no sufficiently virtuous pigs available this week, so I swung by the Garden of Eden (23rd and 7th) where I was similarly disappointed. It was only slightly frigid outside, so I walked down to Balducci’s (14th and 8th) where, despite the cavernous space, there was very little actual food available for purchase. So I tried the Gourmet Garage (7th Ave. South and 10th), failed, and then tried Citarella (6th and 9th). Where I gave up and decided to do a spice-crusted pork tenderloin with the blood orange gastrique I’d been planning instead.

By this point I was so tired and dehydrated – had I known it was going to be such an ordeal, I would have brought a Power Bar – that I bought a bunch of beets and 2 liters of incredibly overpriced imported iced tea for no apparent reason. On the way out, I barreled directly into Keifer Southerland, who also did not have any pork belly available but was very kind about the whole barreling-into-him thing. The beets, however, continue to mock me. Fucking beets.

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We cannot afford a mine shaft gap.

Breaking news: Doomsday Seed Vault Opens in Norway

130 meters under a frozen mountain on an island near the Arctic Sea, Norway is opening a Doomsday Seed Vault that will protect 4.5 million different types of seeds from destruction in case of agricultural mismanagement, nuclear winter, alien invasion or all of the above.

I think this is a great idea. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that one of the things I fear most about nuclear holocaust is the possibility that if I survive I’ll no longer have access to the heirloom pole beans* I enjoy today. However, I am concerned that America is allowing a Doomsday Vault gap to open, and would like to suggest that we consider our own Doomsday Vaults to protect those elements critical to the American Way of Life:

  • Doomsday Gourmet Bottled Water Vault
  • Doomsday Suri Cruise Vault
  • Doomsday Doritos CoolRanch (TM) Vault
  • Doomsday Pornography Vault

If you could only save one food in your corner of the Doomsday Vault, what would it be?

*I love heirloom veggies and think the vault is a great idea, so don’t get all up in my grill.

A Warm Bowl of Creamy Goodness

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Tiny bowl of soup, or GIANT MUTANT SPRIG OF PARSLEY?

Does one need an excuse to make delicious, delicious soup? I aver that one does not. Especially in grey, late-February, frozen-slushy, cold and shitty weather. (I don’t like February.) There’s something about wielding the stick blender that just chases the clouds away. Oh, the power.

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My Darling Clementines

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Clementines refresh the palate… and the loins.

I’ve always wanted to try the Nigella clementine cake, the flourless one with the whole boiled and pureed clementines. Nigella is sometimes too precious for me; she uses phrases like “give a blitz” and “ferrous tang” while I’m more likely to give instructions like “fry that shit up in a pan,” or “fuck you.” Still, there’s no denying the comforting yumminess of many of her recipes (she also looks like she would give a good hug, if you were the huggy type), or the fact that clementines are all over the place right now, or the fact that I really like some frigging cake and I’ve been kinda cranky this week. So: clementine cake.

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Thursday Night Smackdown: Gusta el arco iris!

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Bomboleo!

This week, from Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen: Pasilla Chile-Black Bean Casserole (aka budan de pasilla) with Jicama and Cucumber Salad. Rick Bayless may have taken a wrong turn on the journey to celebrity chef-dom when he lent his name to both Applebee’s* and a line of frozen pizzas**, but his cookbooks are wonderfully educational and full of great flavor. I’d been considered one of his moles, but I’m irresistibly drawn to lasanga-like layered dishes; pasilla is also a common base chile for mole, so it seemed like the best of both worlds.

* Rule # 4 to becoming a celebrity chef: Whatever Tyler Florence does, do the opposite.

** The fact that the pizzas are sold at Whole Foods does not in any way mitigate their troublesome existence.

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Buttercream Quickie

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I did not leave my cake out in the rain.

Last night I baked a dark chocolate-espresso layer cake for a co-worker’s 80th (!) birthday party today.  She’s a completely amazing – she still rides her bike around New York City, and is constantly flying around the world speaking at fancy-pants conferences – so she gets a completely amazing cake.   We tried to surreptitiously find out what her favorite flavors are, but she immediately saw through our pathetic ruse (did I mention she’s a genius?) and cornered me in the office kitchenette to announce that her favorite flavors are coffee, chocolate and lemon, and that she would be bringing something lemon-flavored herself.  I like her non-nonsense demeanor and the fact that she looks adorable in a bike helmet, so I made her a dark chocolate-espresso cake with vanilla buttercream and raspberry preserves.

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Channeling Rachael Ray: Savory Bread Pudding with Faux-mesco

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None of these ingredients is in the Faux-Romesco sauce. Did I just blow your fucking mind?!?

I’ve always been attracted to mixes of sweet and savory, both combinations of the two or flipping recipes around – making sweet versions of things that are usually savory, and vice-versa. Not everything lends itself to this treatment – there have been some attempts whose names shall not be mentioned – but it can be a great way to get yourself out of a cooking rut. One of my all-time favorite flips is savory bread pudding.

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Restaurant Re-creations: The Ugly American

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We built this sandwich on rock and roll.

Downtown Jersey City used to have a little restaurant called Melt whose specialty was grilled cheese sandwiches;  it may not surprise you that grilled cheese is one of my favorite things.  Unfortunately, it was only around for about a year before it fell victim to urban neighborhood mid-gentrification roulette:  which cutesy niche shop will close next, and which will make it? Stay tuned!

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