Alton Brown’s Coq au Vin

The one where I make a chicken fricassee from Good Eats


Since this was our first Xmas with just the two of us, we both decided to cook. She made some amazing Orange and Ricotta Pancakes for breakfast – which I’m sure she’ll put up in her blog – and, as I said in my last entry, I made the Coq au Vin recipe from Alton Brown’s Good Eats for dinner.

Her: You sure you don’t want to just relax?
Me: Cooking is how I relax.

Should mention that a lot of people don’t realize that recipes often don’t work. I’ve found that America’s Test Kitchen and Good Eats recipes always seem to work.

It took a bit longer than I expected only because ever since I got food poisoning last year, I’m constantly washing and sanitizing everything. If my kitchen were a NYC restaurant, I’m pretty sure we’d get a solid A rating.

We ended up taking a ton of pictures but since I don’t wanna overwhelm your screen, figured I’d just put up a handful of them.

It’s a bummer but I couldn’t take pics of the chicken itself as I was preparing it because I was afraid to touch anything.

Actually, to be totally honest, she took most of the pics. But she let me put them up.

OK, that’s pretty much it for pictures.

Dinner was pretty good, if I do say so myself. We had it with a nice Malbec blend called The Waxed Bat, which was killer.

Afterward, she made dessert, which I’ll tell you about in another entry. Then we sat down to play Crazy Eights, a card game, accompanied with a Bocce Ball for her and some rum on the rocks for me.

It was pretty much a perfect Christmas although it was a bit strange not seeing the family for the day. Well, I did speak to my mom on the phone.

Me: …and I cooked dinner.
Mom: But she made breakfast and dessert? That’s so nice.
Me: Yes, but I cooked the main meal.
Her: You’re so lucky.
Me: I am but again, I did cook the entire dinner.
Her: She’s so nice to do all that.
Me: I COOKED…nevermind…

Location: home
Mood: stuffed
Music: I am a poor boy too, I have no gift to bring
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When the going gets tough, the tough makes a pity pulled pork sandwich

Been trying to avoid surgery but it looks like it’s happening

Pulled pork on a baguette with a side saladTried to avoid it but I can’t – gotta go into surgery this week to fix the injury I got a few weeks back.

Turns out that, despite it not being painful, the injury was really substantial – a “high-grade tear” so the doc was right.

Me: So there’s no way for me to avoid this surgery? I can’t rehab it?
Him: You can’t rehab a completely torn ligament. It’s gone. You can either replace it or not use your leg.

Luckily my meniscus was not damaged. Unfortunately, even with the insurance, it’s going to be quite expensive, both in terms of actual cost and time wasted. I’m out of commission for a solid half-year: surgery, two weeks in a brace, with six to eight months of rehab.

So irritated…

In light of this really disappointing news, did what all injured lawyers-slash-writers do: Made myself a roasted pork shoulder.

Brined pork shoulder / buttPicked it up on the one day that managed to hobble to the supermarket. Brined it in salt and sugar for 10 hours, pulled it out, let it dry over night, hit it with some BBQ rub and threw it into the oven; first uncovered for seven hours at 220 degrees…

Seasoned and brined pork shoulder / butt after about five hours

…then for another four hours at 250 degrees covered in foil.

Seasoned and brined pork shoulder / butt after 11 hours in the oven

Was planning on writing the follow-up to my last post about writing a profile for online dating sites but I guess I’ll post it on Tuesday of next week.

Expect a post from me on Monday about how my surgery went.

Wish me luck?

———-

Admin note: I’m going to start posting at noon on Mondays, Wednesdays, and the occasional Fridays starting next week.

Location: same #$@#$!! chair I’ll be in for months
Mood: apprehensive and fulla pork
Music: My oven’s the hottest you’ll find. Yes, I can roast too,
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California 2012 Travelogue: Day 1

Small world / What else?

By the time you read this entry, I’ll be on a flight back to New York.

Decided to fly out to Los Angles to surprise my brother for a party he was throwing. Left on Thursday night to spend the night at the rents. Usually pack pretty light but when my mom saw my near empty bag, she put in several pounds of homemade food into my bag.

Me: You’re crushing my clothes!
Her: Oh, you’ll be fine. (Shoving in a brick of sticky rice) Wear some of your brother’s clothes.

Even though it was pretty early, the airport was packed. Funny thing was the guy in front of me in the queue looked familiar.

Me: James?
Him: Logan?

Turns out it was a guy from my wrasslin class from a while ago. He got injured and I’d not seen him in years. Small world.

After a plane trip surround by Chinese people and one really annoying guy, arrived in LA just before 11AM.

Guy: (furious) If I weren’t gay, I don’t think you’d say anything. We’re having this argument because I’m gay.
Me: (rolling eyes) Dude, we’re not having this discussion cause you’re gay, we’re having this discussion cause you’re a high-grade moron.

My brother’s girlfriend picked me up and brought me back to his house where I stopped by a roadside drive across the street from the first Trader Joe’s and picked up – what else – some chili.

Afterward, was making some pizza for my brother when he walked in.

Me: Hey.
Him: What are you doing here?!
Me: (laughing and drying hands) Well, you did invite me to the party…

Later, met up with Caffeineguy and his buddy Paul for – what else – some rum at this place called Patterns Bar. It was for a girl’s bday and it turns out, she was a former New Yorker that I knew. Small world.

Caffeineguy: Are you still rum monogamous?
Me: It’s more of an open relationship now – just don’t run Tequila by me. She is not my friend.

Paul had to run and I was fading fast so after some hearty handshakes and a hug or two, called a cab and went back to my brother’s pad. Went to bed thinking of my wife and the California sun.

There’s more but I’ll tell you tomorrow.

Location: On a leather couch in LA
Mood: beat, beat, tired
Music: if you find me one, I’d love a picture of the California sun
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Alli Cooks: The Saag Saga

Eggs Benedict Arnold

Her: Why isn’t there a blog program that lets you just copy a word doc into an entry and keep the format?
Me: (turning chair around) Well, actually, the issue’s that …
Her: NO! Nooooooo…!
Me: (turns chair back around)

Onto the wife’s entry:

———-

I came across a recipe for saag paneer on one of my favorite food blogs so I thought I would try my hand at an Indian dinner this weekend including:

  • Saag Paneer
  • Tandoori Chicken
  • Cucumber Raita

Saag Paneer – Recipe from 101 Cookbooks

How I Simplified:

  1. To exemplify what little interest I have in making my own paneer as 101 Cookbooks suggests, when I read the recipe online, I literally laughed out loud like it was the craziest idea I’ve ever heard. Make my own cheese? That’s like asking me to milk the cow. So, I used queso fresco instead without knowing that, unlike paneer, it melts at high heat. I’m sure this was the universe’s way of telling me to never scoff at Heidi Swanson. I happened to save some of the un-fried queso so I just cut it up into cubes and mixed it into the saag just before serving.
  2. I thought I’d tempt fate and use frozen spinach especially since I planned to cook the saag down more than the recipe called for. To take this approach, follow the recipe but rather than serve immediately, lower the heat, cover, and let simmer for 45 minutes.
  3. I used pre-ground spices rather than fresh grinding them.
Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori Chicken Recipe from David Lebovitz

How I Simplified:

  1. Didn’t use saffron. I’ve made this dish previously with the spice, but I’m not sure it added much. Since it’s expensive, I’d rather save my few precious remaining threads.
  2. Last time I cooked this dish, I grilled the chicken thighs as the recipe calls for, which resulted in me hovered over my sink for days trying to scrub the pan clean. Great for my biceps, bad for my will to ever cook again. This time around, I used chicken breasts, and Logan had the great idea of oven baking rather than pan-frying. So, we cut the breasts into 2-inch pieces and placed them on metal skewers on top of a lined cookie sheet in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes. I only recommend this approach if you like your tandoori chicken on the drier side like me.
Cucumber Raita

Cucumber Raita Recipe from the New York Times
No simplification needed as this is super easy. I modified by stirring in one half of a grated cucumber and topping with a bit of diced cucumber and paprika before serving.

location: walking out the door to work
mood: hungry
music: I saw them stars go off at night

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Alli Cooks: Eggs Benedict Arnold

Eggs Benedict Arnold

editorial  note:

This is Logan – well, I’ve missed my first Monday entry for 2012, but it was due to a technical error although it’s been so busy with work lately that that’s only 83% true.

However, that means that it’s still mostly true.

Onto the wife’s entry:

———-

This weekend, as one would only expect from an Eggs Benedict Arnold, I betrayed the English (muffin) and defected from the French (mother sauce).

Eggs Benedict is one of my favorite brunch classics. Unfortunately, as this dish typically consists of an English muffin topped with ham, two poached eggs, and a whole lot of hollandaise sauce, it is low in fiber and high in saturated fat.

To make a healthier version, I substituted whole wheat toast for the English muffin and just a little bit of ricotta for the hollandaise. While I did use some lean ham for Logan, I removed it completely from mine, but did top both of our dishes with sautéed spinach and baby bella mushrooms. In lieu of your typical diner side dish of breakfast potatoes, I prepared a simple medley of strawberries, blueberries, pistachios, and cashews.

Eggs Benedict Arnold Recipe
One slice of whole wheat or multigrain bread
One egg
One small dollop of ricotta
Two cups chopped spinach (I used frozen)
A big handful of baby bella mushrooms, wiped over with a wet paper towel
1/2 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper

  • Sauté the spinach, mushrooms, and garlic over medium heat with just a little bit of butter until the spinach is wilted and the mushrooms are browned, about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • While the spinach and mushrooms are sautéing, toast the bread.
  • Once toasted, lightly smear the bread with ricotta.
  • Poach one egg or prepare the egg in any other style you prefer.
  • Place the spinach mixture on the toast and top with the egg. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

I hope you all had a great weekend!

ingredients for Eggs Benedict Arnold

editorial  note 2:

I have nuthin to do with the puns.

location: Standing over Logan’s shoulder
mood: moody
music: waiting At the counter For the man To pour the coffee

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Alli Cooks: A Simple Saturday Dinner

Beet chips before baking

Hi everyone – HG here (aka Alli Lo)  Nice to “meet” all of Logan’s readers! The husband has graciously allowed me to use his blog in order to chronicle my newest adventure: cooking!

My kitchen has finally become more than just that room where I make PB&J sandwiches. Seriously, though I do plan to actually use my stove on a more regular basis primarily due to:

  1. my unsatisfactory cholesterol levels;
  2. the hope that I can alleviate the negative physiological effects of work stress by consuming healthier (ed: see note below) food rather than copious amounts of pinot noir; and
  3. a recommendation by my brother-in-law to check out Eat to Live for the diet’s overall health benefits. Logan is the principle cook in the house, but I thought it would be fun to document some of my meals.

ETL recommends a diet consisting primarily of fruits, vegetables, beans, and legumes, limited nuts and wheat, and very little to no animal products and processed foods. I try to follow this diet as much as possible during the week; however, I generally incorporate lean meats and eggs into my weekend meals to accommodate Logan as well as my carnivore tendencies.

Also, you’d have to pry café con leche and Fage yogurt out of my cold dead hands so I allow myself 1-2 servings of dairy each week.

I’m by no means a foodie and am still mastering the basics so my meals generally involve simple preparation of whole foods.

On to the first entry!

First dinner

Saturday Dinner

  • Chicken Breast with Mushrooms, Shallots, and Tomatoes
  • Lentil Soup
  • Baked Beet Chips
  • Salad of Romaine Lettuce, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, and Kalamata Olives

The chicken breast was actually a leftover from dinner out on Friday. I sauteed mushrooms, shallots, and tomatoes with a touch of olive oil, garlic, oregano, and basil to top the chicken. Refreshing the doggy bag with fresh ingredients was a great time-saver as Saturday was too nice a day to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

The beet chips and lentil soup are from my new “Power Foods” cookbook. For the soup, just combine 1.5 cups green lentils, 4 carrots sliced 1/2-inch thick, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 tsp. salt, and 6 cups water in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and let simmer for 45 minutes. Before serving, squeeze in a bit of lemon juice.

This soup is a piece of cake (oh cake…I love cake…I miss cake…chocolate cake…coconut cake…cake frosting…okay, I’m back. On a great note the garcinia cambogia results are truly remarkable, I can truly feel better, like my skin is present).

For a one-dish meal the next day, you can pour the leftover lentil mixture over a protein pasta like Barilla Plus.

———-

editorial  note:
I may be the only person on the planet that cares but technically, food’s healthful for you; if food is healthy for you, that means it does push-up and sprints just to be healthy for you.

On an unrelated point, still don’t understand why I had no friends in high school.

location: in bed, watching Dancing with the Stars
mood: shut it, Logan
music: but I won’t stop and falter
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Taking and teaching online classes

Garbage truck in Times Square, NYC

Made a huge pot of chili yesterday as I went through my emergency stash the other day. Was not a good idea to have as much as I did right before my fencing class as I moved like lead. My arms look like a leopard’s coat with all the bruising.

The beginning of the year’s usually pretty slow for me so I’ve been taking all of these required classes for my licenses while I’ve got the time. Somea them’re mind-numbingly boring.

Dunno if I ever mentioned it, but I actually taught two of the courses myself:

I’m not saying I’m some phenomenal speaker but the ones I’ve been listening to are just dull as dull can be. Man, crack a joke or something.

But I suppose it’s better to be able to watch them from the comfort of my own desk than out there in the world.

The things I do to avoid actual human interaction…

One month supply of homemade chili

One month supply of homemade chili (which I will go through in two weeks).

Location: UWS
Mood: bored
Music: Why can’t you understand? Whoa, I won’t sleep tonight
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Dean Martin and the Street Where You Live

Eve: Sing it to me.
Adam: (softly, saying it as much as singing it) “All at once am I several stories high knowing I’m on the street where you live.” It’s about a young man who is overjoyed just to be standing in front of the house of the person he loves.

Everybody likes Frank Sinatra. Not me; much preferred Dean Martin. Gotta say that his version of On the Street Where You Live is my favourite. Thought about it today after running all over the city.

Got home first, from a pretty busy day. Was up at 4AM. Dashed out to a breakfast at the Benjamin Steak House with a buncha lawyers. Nice group save for one fella who just seemed like he was in a sour mood. Found him annoying; he was the only one.

In any case, had the Eggs Benedict before hoofing it to the office. Caught a train out to Queens to another office, a haircut, lunch at the rents, another appointment at the old NY Sun offices before catching another train.

Made it back home just in time to hear her unlock the door.

———-

Like Eggs Benedicts cause my egg poaching’s not worth a damn and my Hollandaise sauce breaks enough times for me to just want someone to do it for me.

If I get enough time, gonna try and make Chicken and 40 Cloves of Garlic. Love fall. Get to cook again.

Sculpture in NYC

Location: getting ready for another busy day
Mood: weary
Music: People stop and state; they don’t bother me.
YASYCTAI: Meet more people; everyone has at least one interesting story. (2 mins/1.0 pt)
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Mussels in a white-wine reduction > Powerpoint presentation

Mussels in white wine sauce

Wrote this long thing about my 9/11/2001 but I’m not in the mood yet to post it. Maybe next year?

That’s all I’ll say on the topic to spare you the 9/11 overload.

———-

Been prepping for another lecture; this one I’m giving downtown in front of a lotta US attorneys tomorrow. Should really post somea the videos when I’m done but then I figured it’d just put you to sleep.

HG and I went on two dates recently, both at nice local taverns – PJ Clarke’s and PD O’Hurley’s. No particular reason, the weather’s just cooled down enough so that going outside is bearable. Reminded us of when we were still dating. New York City’s a bit wasted on us since we’re so blase to it. Trying to fight that.

Dunno if I ever told you, but I don’t cook in the summertime. Almost not at all. Too hot.

But the weather’s cooled down lots so I made some mussels in a white wine reduction – was trying to recreate a dish we both had and enjoyed on onea our dates.

It was good, not great. Too much alcohol left in the pot gave it a bit too much sting in the backa the throat. Did reduce down the sauce after we had all of the mussels the next day; poured it on some angel hair pasta and it was killer.

Will have to make more soon. For now, though, gotta make a Powerpoint presentation. Not nearly as much fun.

 

Location: the desk, working
Mood: hopeful
Music: just different faces, different names, get me out of here
YASYCTAI: What’s due this week? Get it done earlier. (120 mins/0.5 pts)
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My old crockpot

Old Rival Crock Pot

Thanks for the birthday wishes.

Decided to make some braised brisket in red wine the other night so I whipped out my old crock-pot. It’s been in my family since I can remember – maybe 25-30 years? My mom used to make this killer spaghetti sauce she learned from my Italian neighbor Dot. It’s also where she made chili from a Mexican neighbor and how I made a lotta my chili too.

When I moved outta my family home, my mom asked me what I wanted and I asked for that.

Her: This old thing? Why don’t you buy a new one?
Me: Cause I want that one.

Anywho, put it on the counter top and noticed the back had cracked and a leg had fallen off. Managed to prop it up on a stacka bank checks to make the brisket but it was clear it was it’s last dish.

They’re cheap. Like $40 for a good one. And this one’s got flowers and lotsa stains on it; doesn’t match my clean white kitchen. But it was my bita home in my apartment and I’m sad to see it gone.

You don’t love a picture causesa the paper it’s printed on, y’love a picture because of what it represents.

Man, I loved that broken old thing.

Ha – suppose someone’ll say that about me some day. One would hope, anywho…

Braised beef with herbed carrots and coconus

Location: taking CLE on the computer
Mood: nostalgic
Music: The only way to really know is to really let it go
YASYCTAI: Buy a new slow cooker. (10 mins/0.5 pt)
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