Cheap Ass Monday: Down by the Boardwalk

Not actually on, near, under, or down by a boardwalk.

I’m going to tell you right now: this post? Is not really funny. Feel free to leave if that’s a problem, and we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming later this week.

As you can imagine, it’s been a bit of a rough weekend; I haven’t really felt like cooking, let alone photographing and describing my meals in detail. Funerals and their associated activities are always kinda rough, and I’m not nearly far enough in the mourning process for my own father not to have all that shit get dredged up, compounding things. Blargh.

I gotta tell you, the Orthodox Jews and their burial services? I to the N to the T-E-N-S-E. It’s so…biblical, with the actual rending of garments and the shoveling and the Hebrew and the phlegm. I’m emotionally drained just thinking about it.

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Guess what this is. No really, guess.

If you look at the categories or URL then you are a FILTHY CHEATER.

It’s refreshing, light, fruity but tart, utterly irresistible. It looks so civilized, doesn’t it? Like something you would serve to the ladies who lunch when they come over for the garden party benefiting the foundation one of them started to purchase wheeled carts for paralyzed needy dachshunds. I almost don’t want to tell you what it really is, because I don’t want to damage my reputation as ONE CLASSY BITCH.

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Cheap Ass Mondays: A Little Fancy, A Little Schmancy

I made this dinner purely as an excuse to gloat about my egg-poaching skills. Seriously, look at that fucking thing. It’s like art.

Did I make this dinner just so I could gloat about my infinitely awesome egg-poaching skills?  I may have.  But maybe I ALSO made it so I could gloat about my willingness to make things painstakingly by hand – let us not forget the angel hair cucumbers – rather than relying on the modern conveniences that would hasten dinner’s journey to my table. Because I? Am better than you.

To wit: fresh, hand rolled and cut pasta tossed with onions, garlic, red spinach and bacon and topped with a poached egg. Proof that cheap can still be pretentious!
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The Snozzberries Taste Like Snozzberries!

Tiny martini glasses: cute presentation, or painfully twee?*

A few weeks ago, The Kitchn highlighted an old Bon Appetit recipe for wine-marinated grapes. Because while fruit is tasty on its own, it is almost always improved by being soaked in booze.

I was immediately drawn to this recipe – if you can call it that, it’s so simple I don’t know if it rises to the level of “recipe” – because frozen grapes have always been one of my favorite summer snacks. And if I love frozen grapes, and soaking grapes in booze will make them better, then Newton’s 5th Transitive Rule of Snacks dictates that wine-soaked, frozen grapes should be fan-fucking-tastic. Newton’s actual words.

*Even though I took these photos, I’m going to have to go with “twee.”

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Thursday Night Smackdown: Maybe Fish Sauce Isn't Entirely Evil

I don’t want to harp, really, but I do feel that I must state here again that I do NOT own a mandolin.

I finally got a copy of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Asian Flavors of Jean-Georges, and immediately wanted pretty much everything in it. I was going to do the peking duck, because yum, but the directions instructed me to hang the glazed raw duck from a hook overnight in the fridge, where you’ve also placed a small battery-powered fan to keep air moving around the duck. Thanks for adapting that recipe for the home cooks with normal-sized refrigerators* at whom your book is aimed, Jean-Georges! Really helpful.

Still, I can’t be too angry at him because despite his chef stardom he still eats hot dogs. So I decided to go with his Charred Lamb Salad, a riff on traditional Thai beef and lettuce wraps that sounds MUCH more boring that it actually is.

*Maybe I didn’t read the introduction carefully, maybe it’s only for home cooks with home meat lockers.

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The Big Stomach Wave Makes the Love

What does it all mean? Hell if I know. All of today’s captions are brought to you by the nutjobs who found TNS via google. This one’s for you, Mr. or Ms. “Upside Down Belly Button.”

Really, what was this person looking for? “The big stomach wave makes the love”? Is it some grody thing that I’m naive for not knowing? If so, I’d like to continue on in my blissful ignorance.

A few weeks ago the New York Times Wednesday food section had a feature article on ricotta that included instructions for making it yourself, and I’ve been brooding over it ever since, wanting to make it. I could resist no longer, so I decided dinner tonight would be ricotta crostini. It’s a win-win-win: I love cheese, I love nibblies, and I love dinner. Success!

I ended up making two savory crostini – one with prosciutto and thyme, one with a sweet and spicy quick tomato compote – and one sweet, with honey, walnuts and cardamom. All were dinner worthy, and all will re-appear on my table. Quoth Brian, “It’s like crack!”

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Cheap Ass Mondays: Re-inventing a Clichè

Do you listen to Aimee Mann? You should, she’s really good. I have spoken.

For the second installment of Cheap Ass Mondays, I bring you variation #999,999,998 on rice and beans: Mexican-ish stuffed peppers. Can you really have a feature called “Cheap Ass Mondays” without featuring rice and beans at least 30% of the time? I’m still new here, but I’m guessing you can’t.

These peppers appeared regularly on my table back in my vegetarian days (August 6th and 7th, 2000). Yes, I was once a vegetarian, for about four years. It will come as no surprise that sausage, my Scylla, and bacon, my Charybdis, wrought the downfall of that halcyon time. Although I’m now an unabashed carnivore and committed to eating meat in a more ethical, organic, sustainable way – although I’m not always successful – I would like to bring some vegetarian favorites back into rotation for the health of both wallet and gut.

I don’t know why hot, humid weather makes me want Mexican food; maybe I figure that as long as I’m already drenching through my clothing, I can’t get any more gross and I may as well go for the full-on sweat-fest and eat spicy food. I just know that I want it, and these peppers fit the bill. Fast, versatile, cheap, filling and tasty.

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Ice Cream for a Dead Man

Passionfruit, to be specific. But dead people don’t eat ice cream, so it just means more for me.

I just wrote a whole post about this ice cream and my dad, who was my best friend and who passed away in 2005. It was really good, filled with humor, pathos, and brilliant photography. Do you have any idea how hard it is to take pictures of fricking ice cream?  I’ll tell you: really fucking hard.

And then WordPress ate it.

Father’s Day is rough enough as it is and I can’t bring myself to sit here and re-write it, but I don’t want to deprive anyone of delicious, delicious ice cream. So recipe after the jump, and my apologies for the lack of real post.

ETA: Okay, okay, here’s a tidbit. So I have my dad’s high school yearbook from 1951, and each graduate’s photo is accompanied by a painfully wholesome description: “Jimmy is sure to be a great asset to the Army,” “Susan always has a ready smile and a helping hand.” My dad’s? “Rudy is a treat for all the ladies.”

Awww, yeah.

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Thursday Night Smackdown: It had a really good personality

John Stewart: the bald spot is growing, but he’s still damn funny.

So a few weeks ago I randomly left a comment on a post at Serious Eats, the result of which was my being randomly chosen to receive a copy of Paula Disbrowe’s Cowgirl Cuisine. Paula is a French-trained New York-based food writer who removed herself from the big-city rat race to live in Texas, cook on a ranch and write a cookbook filled with pictures of herself. I know we’ve all wanted to flee our humdrum existences to live a life of leisure surrounded by goats in the Texas Hill Country, where “Texas Hill Country” is read as “Tuscan villa” and “goats” as “Italian supermodels.”

Seriously, there are a LOT of pictures of her in the cookbook. And not pictures of her cooking or engaging in Texas-type activities like riding horses, erecting homemade border fences or driving to Mexico for cheap over-the-counter pharmaceuticals; that would make too much sense. Just pictures of her standing around, lying in fields and, I shit you not, stripping down to go skinny dipping (don’t get excited, you can’t see anything).

Anyway, despite all the auto-photography and the terrible, terrible title, I bring you: shrimp-stuffed poblanos with walnut sauce and classic cornbread.

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