All posts filed under: Side Dishes

Merry Christmas – it’s a pig…

So, I can always count on my brother to put a lot of thought and effort into any gift he slings my way. He read my mind (or maybe just saw the slightly more than slick shoes on the truck) and got new tires for the beast. One year it was a big slammin‘ box of assorted cheese from Artisanal Cheese Company. My fishing gear became badly depleted, and some fishing tackle arrived. Christmas, This past year my gift was a piece of paper that said – “It’s downstairs…  in the freezer.” It was a pig. It was a nude, scrubbed, bubble wrapped, pink, 14 lb. piglet… with bright blue eyes. I’ll give you a minute to let that sink in…. pig. I was stoked! No, really.. I was. I’ve always wanted to do a pig roast. But the thought of : 1. Buying an 80 lb. pig 2. Brining and Seasoning the beast 3. Trying to wallow the greased carcass into a pit 4. Figuring out what to do with that much cooked pig… …

Tales of Woe – That Brown Rice Salad

The TV is on most days throughout the day primarily as background noise. I don’t really think about it being on anymore. It lightens my day when there’s nothing going on except my own brooding, it keeps the terrors and worries of my career (or lack thereof) at bay; it keeps me company. But, most importantly – it’s just on. Call me wasteful, pummel me about the head and shoulders for the abnormally large carbon footprint I’m leaving for future generations, I don’t even care. I have persistent tonal tinnitus (Mine is a constant high “C” with a medium tone hiss that seems to hover somewhere about 6 inches from my head… all the time) and background noise is the only thing that stands between me and the express bus to Crazytown. … so it stays on. The other day while reading, I halfway hear Giada on the Cooking Channel talk about a Citrus Brown Rice Salad and my head checks in for a bit to listen in. I like rice salads. Mentally, as she’s talking, I’m making adjustments.. …

Talkin’ Swede (Part 2) – Get in my Belly

Feasting on Neeps… We’ll dispense with all that background stuff from earlier and just get to the goods today. (Head back THIS WAY if you didnt read PART 1) And, while there are a lot of tasty, ingenious ways to prepare swede out there on the internettyweb-o-matic thingy, not everyone is going to be all that keen on eating Neep Crostini, or Candied Swede, or Rutabaga Sorbet… Although, Jane did inadvertently make a Rutabaga Pie quite by accident a couple of Thanksgivings ago when she  reached for the pureed butternut squash and snagged the  mashed rutabagas instead… …it was god-awful. You can read all about it at Bad Pie, Harbinger of Death in a Crust. No, Today were going to concentrate on good things on happy memories and good things to eat. First up – The Basics. The easiest way to introduce yourself to swede is the  way it comes in a can – diced and simmered…. only better than a can, you know. Swede with Butter and Parsley Serves 4 to 6 Ingredients 1 Rutabaga 3 …

Talkin’ Swede (Part 1) Just the Facts, Ma’am

A Cabbage Turnip by any other name… Call it a Swede, a Neep, a Yellow Turnip, Rotabagge, Snadgers, Snarkies or Swedish Turnip, we’re talking the same language. It’s a Rutabaga. Swede is a member of the large Brassica family which includes Turnips, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, and Cabbage. Originally noted in Sweden in the early 1600’s (hence the name Swedish Turnip) it is believed to have originated in Russia as the natural cross-pollination love child between a cabbage and a standard turnip. currently, there are four standard varieties: American Purple Top – Creamy yellow bottom and flesh with (surprise) a Purple top.This is, as the name suggests, an American developed strain with dense, evenly grained flesh and a less sweet note. Commonly the variety used for commercial canning, the Purple Top has a tendency to be slightly astringent or bitter to some non-discerning tastes. When cooked, the swede takes on a deep orange coloration. Joan – Smaller than the American variety, Joan produces sweet and mild roots which do better for eating after a late season …

Steakhouse

So… when I was a kid, our choices for steak night out were limited to: 1). A place called Harvey’s that had their menus printed on happy steer-shaped paper place-mats or 2). A place called Buddy’s, a noisy place complete with red shiynl banquettes, wood paneling, and air permeated with the thick aromas of steak fat, french dressing and cigarettes (it was the 60’s.) … we ate at Buddy’s more times than not. And although all that up there  now sounds really terrible, it was something really special back then. Even now I can close my eyes and be in the restaurant. All those smells, aromas, and memories of the six of us packed into a corner booth – eating our iceberg salad with the crackers, tomato wedges and onion rings awash in dressing – waiting on our steaks to arrive in those sizzle plates, the juices pooling into those odd tree-shaped valleys in the center of the platter  come flooding back. Besides, I have to give it to them, they really did make a good steak. I …

Wing It! – Asian Spiced Chicken Wings

Sooo… did you all do your homework and read yesterday’s post about sorghum syrup? good… let’s move on. I’ve always had this funny thing about chicken wings. Not particularly because we ate them all that much at home. I mean… they came attached to the chicken, but buying a package of wings? That never happened. A package of minimal meat anything had no place on the table…. We were human vacuums. Feeding us a pile of wings for dinner just meant that we’d be raiding the fridge later that night for some else to eat.  Jane hated it when we raided the fridge and made damned sure we were suitably filled with protein so that didn’t occur. But, I remember an episode of Galloping Gourmet.. I guess from the late 60’s…  (so you know, it was on in the daytime, so that meant we had to be home sick from school, or spring break, or summer vacation… so it wasn’t an all the time kind of thing)  where he made this chicken wing dish. I’ve tried …

A Little Tail…

Oh, I could expound on the glory, the finger licking and bone sucking – near orgasmic  feat in devouring ox tail… But that would just be cruel. Ox tail is, and always will be, the completely misunderstood cut of meat. Tough, stringy meat?    … sure Fattiness cubed? … but, of course Bizarre weaponized bone structure?   ….  absolutely! But, throw all that together in a long, s l o w cook – and you have something that not even your favorite Jewish grandmother’s brisket can beat… except for that “back half of the cow thing.” Ox Tail – it is the only muscle in a cow that is constantly on the move. All that perpetual swishing creates some serious dense musculature, fat and connective tissue. The only way to make it palatable is to stew or braise it. I’ve chosen to braise. And, I’ve chosen to do it with little to no added liquid. I’m telling you – get the extra wet naps ready… it’s going to be epic-ly messy. Braised Ox Tail Given the rather large knuckle of tail bone holding everything together …

One from column “A” – Pork Fried Rice

Given that it’s essentially:  rice – some variety of diced meatage – vegetables (usually carrots and peas) and some sort of seasoning, you really wouldn’t think there would be that much differentiation between recipes and production…. stir-fry it all together and you get fried rice…. right? The possibilities for construction are endless, and if you happen to find that magical step-to process, you’d be rewarded with starchy, salty, meaty nirvana. Why then is fried rice the culinary crap shoot at Chinese restaurants? Tasteless and oily, gummy and salty, dry and..well… just d r y. But understanding what the majority of fried rice is – a way to utilize leftovers in a restaurant environment – then you can see why there really is very little thought put into something that is basically a throwaway dish. However, in order to be good (and I mean really good) fried rice,  it has to be made fresh, with quality ingredients, and not left to steam away to oblivion in some holding table waiting for that specific “quality” diner that prefers fried over …

Questionable Parenting & Crispy Smashed Taters

I’ve said it a million times… The powers that be knew what they were doing when they left me out of the procreating pool, I just wouldn’t make a very good parent. My insane phobia around children not withstanding, I would probably spend more time in family court than at work for my views on discipline and punishment, acceptable public behavior, and just things in general that I’d consider… fun. I mean, I’d have no qualms with spanking my child… taking a switch to them even. My parents did both to me and I didn’t come out the other side of childhood irreparably damaged. Hell, I’d even let you spank them… provided they did something bad. I’d insist they treat adults like adults and behave in a respectful manner. “Yes Sir” and “Yes Mam” wouldn’t be foreign concepts for their little minds, and they would have a firm grasp on the stark truth that they are not, in fact, miniature adults. There are rules… and there are consequences… and those consequences – can be a bitch. “You can’t have a BB gun, you’ll shoot your …

Hello, My Loverlies…

Okay, I know you’re supposed to let fresh sweet potatoes cure for a couple of months before you eat them. It allows the flavors to concentrate, the water evaporate and the sugars develop… But, this year’s Baleful Bounty produced some gargantuan sweet potatoes and  I just couldn’t wait any longer to get into them.. I mean… it  was   huge!  the size of a football    –   no lie! I initially  cooked up a soup-kitchen sized vat of whipped sweet potatoes… and we ate on it for several days. But, as I found out, sweet potatoes on the ready – really isn’t as glamorous as it sounds. They don’t exactly go with everything. I eventually portioned out a bit for now-time and packed the bulk of it away in the freezer for later Holiday uses. My eye caught on a package of pre-cooked, pre-sauced, pre-sliced Jack Daniels BBQ brisket. I’ll be honest, I’m 99.999% of the time completely uninterested in prepackaged foods. It just doesn’t do it for me. I like food that gets me… and …