Return of the Niners

29 01 2013

I have a confession to make.  If I don’t make it now I’m sure my sister will point it out in the comments, thus shattering my credibility.  So here it is: I didn’t watch football this year.  Not a lot, anyway, and none during the regular season.  But neither did half the media descending on New Orleans this week for a company sponsored vacation masquerading as work.  (Hmm.  Some bitterness in that last statement.  I must make a note to edit it later.)  It doesn’t matter.  My Super Bowl predictions are never based on actual football anyway, but how well I prepare a certain dish from the region my chosen team calls home.  This time it is San Francisco because, well, the Ravens are evil.

So, after I spent a very long time describing an event in which nothing happened, I must make good food and post the results for the sake of the Bay area.  Wait.  Baltimore also has a bay.  Let’s hope the football gods don’t get confused with this one.

I mentioned somewhere in my last post that there are two San Francisco foods that I’ve always wanted to make but never have.  I still have not made sourdough.  But the other one is right up my alley: Cioppino.  See, it’s a soup (Or is it a stew?  It’s my blog, it’s a soup.) and I love soup.  I’ve never made a fish soup before.  Can you believe it?  What kind of food blogger am I?  Oh wait.  Never mind.

ANYWAY, this year I will be taking on the role of Colin Kaepernick, the renegade-but-very-inexperienced quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers.

WEEK OFF: The 49ers choose their strategy.
I saw two recipes for cioppino that I really liked, and in the end used a little from both.  They both called for many of the same ingredients but some were different, so I took a bit from each to make something I thought sounded good.  Honestly, with the fish it came down to what we could get here in central PA, and what we could afford.  Here be the recipes used for reference:

Cioppino from Saveur magazine

Cioppino from Epicurious

SUPER BOWL WEEK: The 49ers change their strategy.
See, here’s the deal.  Both recipes call for crab.  Dungeness crab, which I found out hails from the Pacific around the latitude of San Francisco Bay.  They also say any Pacific crab will do.  DO YOU KNOW HOW EXPENSIVE THAT STUFF IS IN PENNSYLVANIA?!?!?!?  I’m not doing it.  I live an hour and a half from Baltimore.  The only affordable crab I can get comes from the Chesapeake and, if you haven’t noticed, I really want the Ravens to lose.  So, no crab.  Got it?  Here’s the take from the local market:

Hooray for Fish!

Shrimps, clams, salmon, and scallops.  Thank you, this makes me happy.

SUPER BOWL WEEK: Lots of practice.  Lots of film study.
Making a fish soup, as it turns out, doesn’t take a lot of time.  Fish cook quickly.  The prep, however, does.  Cleaning and deveining the shrimp, cubing and skinning the salmon, and scrubbing and soaking the clams (YES I realize the clams also came from the Chesapeake, leave me alone.)  Also I had to prepare the vegetables. The results of all this prep are seen in the previous picture.  That picture is doing a lot of work.

GAME TIME!  FIRST QUARTER: The 49ers do what they do best, run the football.
I may not have seen a lot of football this year but I know that they run the ball well.  How can you not with Frank Gore?  So this is my equivalent of the 49ers’ running game.  Sweat the aromatics.  But here’s the twist: Epicurious called for onions and garlic, followed by green bell pepper.  Saveur called for more, and I used some but forgot other ingredients.  Wow, going back and reading now what is on their ingredients list I’m kind of sorry I forgot about the celery and carrots.  Anyway, some olive oil met some heat and in went onions, leeks, fennel bulb, garlic, green bell pepper, oregano, and bay leaf.  See?

It's making me hungry just writing about it.

SECOND QUARTER: The game becomes a defensive struggle, with neither offense doing anything interesting.
See, I added in the tomatoes, the stock, the clam juice, and the wine, and let it simmer for a half hour.  It may be interesting to me, and it’s certainly making the house smell good, but it’s not exactly playing with fire like last year.

Yes, it smelled wonderful.

THIRD QUARTER: The Ravens’ defense fails them.  San Francisco scores two unanswered touchdowns.
Well, the clams DID come from the Chesapeake, didn’t they?  Well, they got cooked first.  Shall I predict Ed Reed trying for an interception and instead giving up a touchdown?  Yes, I shall.  Goodbye, clams:

Clams Alive

FOURTH QUARTER: Baltimore’s defense comes up big, but it’s too little, too late.
After the clams are cooked you have to take them out to make sure they are all good, and throw away any that aren’t opened.  In all I only had to discard two clams out of the whole batch so we were very pleased.

Clams Dead

FINAL TWO MINUTES: San Francisco’s offense comes back on the field and puts the game out of reach.
Let’s see, Colin Kaepernick is the salmon, Frank Gore is the scallops, and Randy Moss is the shrimp (it’s funny because he’s really tall).  After removing the clams I put in the rest of the seafood to cook, for about 5 minutes, and when it was done the clams went back in.

FINAL: San Francisco 28, Baltimore 17.
You see that?  That’s goodness right there.  The clams, the salmon, the scallops and shrimp (and chopped basil added at the last minute) were all excellent.  Add in the tasty-but-ugly bread from my previous post and you have yourself a meal.  There were so many stars in the bowl it was hard to pick an MVP.  In the end, though, I’ll pick Randy Moss because he’s “old” (younger than me) and it would be kind of cool.

Cioppino

Also, Jerome Bettis will be elected to the Hall of Fame on Saturday.  Go Bus!

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Prelude to a Super Bowl Post

28 01 2013

Lately I’ve been fancying myself a baker.  I’m not sure why; the number of breads I consistently make successfully is three.  But those are really the only breads I make, so my self-confidence may have been a bit inflated.

When the NFL playoffs began and I saw that the San Francisco 49ers stood a good chance of making it all the way, I instantly began supporting them.  My mind instantly went to my blog, and the two things from the Bay area that I’ve always wanted to make but haven’t, for whatever reason.  And when they won the chance to play in the Super Bowl I knew I had to make both those things, not just one.

As I said before, I’ve been thinking a lot about bread lately.  So with San Fran in the playoffs I started thinking about sourdough.  I went to the greatest experts I could think of: Google and my sister in law (who doesn’t really make a whole lot of bread, I was just lonely I guess).  What I was searching for was an answer to a very (in my mind) good question: Can you make a sourdough starter in January?  Are the yeasts and things in the air in large enough quantities to collect in a bowl of flour and water and make bread with in little more than a week?

The answer to that question is no.  But in the spirit of my annual Super Bowl posts (or my annual blog posts, at this rate) I must tell you the story.  But it must have some bearing on the game, no?  Karen kept asking me “What metaphor works with this, exactly?”  Honestly I couldn’t think of a thing.  But I know this.  The quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII has only started 9 NFL games in his career.  Being so inexperienced and thrust into the world wide spotlight and a media intent on making this a big Ray Lewis retirement party, I imagine he might be getting some butterflies.  So I submit to you this, my approximation of a stress-induced nightmare as Colin Kaepernick imagines getting flattened by the Baltimore Ravens’ defense.

There are many places you can go if you want to learn about making a sourdough starter.  Usually for these Super Bowl posts I pick one from the internet that I can link to, but this time I didn’t.  The first of many bad decisions.  But there’s this guy.  He makes cookbooks that are so nice.  And the breads are so lovely.  And he says things like “Don’t worry; not much happens after one day.  It’s fine.  Add more flour and water.”  See how reassuring he can be?  His name is Peter Reinhart and he’s originally from PA farm country, so I felt a kindred spirit with the man.  So here’s step one of his sourdough starter, which he calls a seed culture.

It looks like...wet sand, doesn't it?

It looked like, I don’t know, poo?  Yes, poo.  I left this in the plastic container and put it in the dining room so it would stay warm.  Later that evening Karen and Isaac were in there and she asked him “Did someone poo in a tupperware container?”  Mr. Reinhart says to use rye flour on day one of your seed culture because it makes the starter taste better, or something.  I never got that far.

Now there were specific instructions for what to do on day 2, day 3, day 4, etc.  And it usually involved discarding some of the starter and adding flour and water.  I did all this and I even took pictures to document the process.  It was all very exciting.  Except for one thing.  Nothing ever happened.  I’m being told “It should have risen by at least half” or “It should have doubled in size, at least.”  Um… no.  So I’d be happy to send you pictures of the next three days, but they all looked the same.  After day 4 I’m looking at this:

Look!  A bubble!  No, wait.  Never mind.

And I’m wondering “What does this mean for the Super Bowl?  Certainly I can’t predict that the 49ers will forfeit or a horrible accident will occur and the game gets cancelled.”  Except, this isn’t really a spectacular failure, since nothing is really happening.  So it can’t be a horrible accident.  It would have to go something like this:

BREAKING NEWS: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (BOOOOO!!!!!!!!!) has cancelled the Super Bowl because something better was on TV that night.

Anyway, unsure of myself, I left it for one more day.  The book said that after 24 hours it should have doubled in size, but if it’s still sluggish leave it alone for up to another 24 hours.  So here, with a rubber band as reference, is proof that after 48 hours nothing has happened.

It didn't look that appetizing anyway.

At this point I gave up.  Goodbye sourdough, see you in the summer.  I knew going in that a week was a bit of a stretch to get anything decent, and I’m told that the real flavor of the sourdough doesn’t peak until you’ve had it for 2-3 weeks, because the bacteria that makes the flavor grows more slowly than the yeast.  They obviously haven’t seen my yeast.  One thing I will note.  I thought it odd that everyone said to cover the container.  Peter Reinhart, bloggers, message boards, everyone said to cover your starter.  I thought we were trying to trap wild yeasts floating around in the air, and how are we to do that with a covered bin?  Then I saw on one of these message boards people explaining why you cover your starter: it keeps the flies out.  Yes, everyone else does this in the summer.

But for dinner we really wanted bread, so I went to a recipe that I’d used just a few days before and it was a hit.  King Arthur Flour calls it the easiest loaf of bread you’ll ever make.  Sounds perfect.  I made buns instead.  Here’s the recipe:

Hearth Bread from King Arthur Flour

It’s a very wet dough, but I’m becoming increasingly comfortable with that.  I’m not fond of getting ‘club hand’ while kneading, but the end product is worth it.  This time I made some changes to it though, and I’m not sure I liked them.  Here’s them heading to the oven:

At least there's yeast in this dough.

This also looks like poo.  But when they came out of the oven it looked like bread.

They tasted good, anyway.

This is one I’m still working on to get right.  One of the changes I made was to use a cup of whole wheat flour, and I’m not sure the bread was improved by that addition.  Also, I’m working with the cooking temperature for the oven.  With the first batch I used 400° because buns are smaller than loaves, but then they didn’t turn a nice dark brown like I wanted.  So the second batch I baked at 450° and it was a little better, but for some reason those buns turned out a little flatter.  I’m really starting to realize how important a cooking thermometer is when baking bread.  At first you’re all like “The bread is really brown and it’s only been 15 minutes!  HEEEEELLLLLLPPPP!”  And then you check the internal temperature and you’re like “Oh.  Wow.  Cool.  I hope nobody saw that and decided to blog about it.”

Okay, maybe it’s just me.  So Colin, if you’re reading (and I’m sure you’re not) I’m sorry about the night you’re going to have on Saturday.  Blame Roger Goodell for scheduling this game in February.





Haven’t we been here before?

30 01 2012

Yes, we have.  The last time the Giants and Patriots played in the Super Bowl the Patriots were HUGE favorites, and the Giants won in the final minute, just like I said they would.  Don’t believe me?  Click here. (Shameless plug)

Blogging is fun; I should do it more often.  Picking a team this year was as easy as ever; go Giants.  (To New England fans: This is all meant in good fun; please disregard any statements I may make saying that the Patriots are evil and are coached by Satan.)  Since New York is my team I’m picking a New York dish, and if it turns out well then the Giants win.  Got it?

There are many dishes that are claimed to have been invented in New York.  But for my Super Bowl prediction I need a dish I’ve never made before.  I did a great deal of research in this area (I looked on Wikipedia), and there it was.  Steak Diane.  I’d heard of Steak Diane from (of all people) Gordon Ramsay on Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.  Usually made table side, this dish has a sauce that includes brandy cooked flambé-style.  Beef filet plus the chance to burn the house down equals blog gold, people. I may be out of practice but you don’t forget the basics.  Let’s get to it, shall we?

GAME PREPARATION: The Giants bring in a suprise guest for the pep talk.

Now, I know Emeril isn’t from New York.  He’s from New Orleans, but so is Eli Manning, so give me a break.  Emeril’s recipe from Delmonico looked very good, and it’s on the Food Network’s website, so you can go look at it by clicking here.

SUPER BOWL WEEK: Media day stinks, but in a good way.

I took the time to read the whole recipe before I began (I know!), so I noticed it called for some veal stock.  Karen was making beef vegetable soup this weekend anyway, so she also used Emeril’s recipe from the same page to make the stock.  The first step is always my favorite: roasting the beef bones.

If nothing else, this step makes your house smell AWESOME.

GAME TIME!  Nothing interesting happens in the first half.

This could also mean “The Patriots go up by three.”  Since we all want them to lose, this is drudgery.  The next steps are pretty boring, right?  Yada yada yada, trim the meat, slice into steaks, yada yada.

I know what you’re thinking, “Skip to the fire!”  I’m going as fast as I can, but I must include pictures for every step, it’s the law.

HALF TIME! A surprise guest makes an appearance at the half time show.  It’s actually great, but it runs longer than planned.

Who’s the half time performer this year?  Madonna?  I’m predicting that someone good shows up and upstages her.  Why, you ask?  Because while we were prepping everything for dinner a very dear friend of ours showed up for the Super Bowl party.  A week early.  I have the best friends ever.  The house was a nightmare, truly horrific, but they came in and we had a ball while we finished the prep work.  I also had time to dice up some red potatoes, toss them with some herbs and olive oil, and throw them in the oven.

THIRD QUARTER: Finally, the Giants offense starts scoring points.

Sear the meat on both sides in butter.  Chill out, this was dinner for four and I used a tablespoon of butter and 1/4 cup of cream.  This is health food.  Anyway, the steaks are doing nicely.

THIRD QUARTER: New York scores points in bunches.

Maybe a touchdown followed by a kickoff-fumble?  Sounds good to me.  I added the mushrooms, onions, and garlic.  I’m starting to get very happy right now, but still apprehensive about what is to come.

FOURTH QUARTER: With a lead, the Giants’ defense puts the pressure on Tom Brady, but it doesn’t work.

I knew the pan wasn’t hot enough.  I tried increasing the heat a little early, but the steaks were just right, the mushrooms were just right, and it was time to burn the house down.  I took all the necessary precautions.  I moved the pan to the kitchen table, away from the microwave above the range and the flammable wallpaper behind the stove (remember the burgers?).  I then added the brandy…

And lit the fire.

Not exactly the WHOOOM I was looking for.  I had Karen taking pictures for me, in case I needed to get the fire extinguisher (and for evidence to send to Allstate).  I try mixing things together and I’m able to manage this:

FOURTH QUARTER: The Giants pressure Brady again and it works.

Interception for a touchdown?  In the Super Bowl?  Tom Brady?  I can only dream.

Here’s what happened: The alcohol all burned off (or so I thought) so I put the pan back on the heat.

THAT, people, is flambé.  Apparently there’s a good deal of alcohol in brandy.  I’m screaming “TAKE A PICTURE!” and Karen is screaming “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”  So we have a bit of an action photo sequence.

Zoom!

Wisk!

You’re welcome.

FINAL TWO MINUTES: The Giants’ defense puts the game away.

After all that, I added the steaks back in to baste and finish cooking just a bit.

Served with herb roasted potatoes and steamed broccoli (I know, it’s boring, shut up), dinner was a smash hit.  Jonathan asked for seconds and then thirds, ensuring a big win for the G-Men.

FINAL MINUTE: The refs blow a big call, for the Giants.  But the game’s outcome isn’t affected.

Here’s the problem.  The final step just before serving is to add some chopped parsley to the sauce.  I bought the parsley, I washed the parsley, I chopped the parsley.  I even put it in a nice blue bowl for ease of use when adding it to the pan.  I just forgot.

Would it have been nice? Yes.  Oh well.  Dinner was great.  I predict that the largest margin of victory inflicted by the Patriots this year will be visited on them.  Final score Giants 55 Patriots 20.





Lucky numbers

31 01 2011

See, in this year’s Super Bowl the Green Bay Packers are trying to win their 13th NFL championship, while the Pittsburgh Steelers are trying to win their 7th.  Get it?  Lucky Numbers?  Oh, never mind.

For reference, My previous Super Bowl picking posts (all correct) can be found by clicking here and here and here.  I will say thank you to my one fan, Jes, who asked me a couple weeks ago when I was going to be writing this post.

For three years I’ve correctly picked the winner of the Super Bowl merely by cooking a dish from that city.  Manhattan clam chowder predicted the Giants to beat the Patriots, Jambalaya produced a win for New Orleans last year, and in Super Bowl XLIII Tandoori chicken was the difference with my Pittsburgh Steelers.  Only that’s not really Pittsburgh food, is it?  Sadly, no (although it would be nice).  Thankfully the Black and Gold have seen fit to offer me a second chance, and I shall take up the mantle with pride.

The rules for these posts are simple.  I pick a dish I’ve never made before based solely on what I feel like cooking.  I assume the role of my chosen city’s star player, and as it goes for my dish it goes for their team.  And when all else fails I never pick against the Steelers.  Honestly I could have made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for this post and said “Wow!  That was great!  Steelers win.”  But that’s not as much fun.  Instead, I shall be making pierogies.

In bold letters you will find the progress of the game based upon the progress of the meal.  Following this is the explanation of my cooking, step by step.  And lots of pictures.  This year I will be taking the role of coach Mike Tomlin, since he is by far my favorite person on the Rooney’s payroll.  Besides, we’re the same age and, yes, I wish I was him sometimes.

WEEK OFF: The coaches do their research, studying their opponent looking for a weakness.
I searched extensively for a recipe (I googled it), and I found a food blogger from Pittsburgh (Hooray!) who had a recipe and great photos of its results.  Go visit the Brown Eyed Baker and tell Michelle I said hello.  Here’s a link to the recipe:

Homemade Pierogi from the Brown Eyed Baker

SUPER BOWL WEEK: The Steelers arrive in Dallas and get worked over by the press.  They hold together, but it’s ugly.
It’s my blog, I pick the metaphors, got it?  Anyway, step one was to mix the dough.  It was a multi-step process but the longest part (and the hardest to know if I was doing it right) was “working the dough until it loses most of it stickiness.”  I have no idea what that means, but here it is:

Karen asked me “Is it supposed to be that dry?”  How should I know?  I’ve never made a dough remotely like this before.  I put it in the fridge and let it sit overnight.

GAME TIME!  The Steelers win the coin toss and kick off.  They feature a strong running game on offense.
See, I was going to cook this meal on Sunday like I normally do, but Karen was already making something.  I decide Monday is best.  Besides, Karen wanted me to make some chicken-corn soup on Monday anyway and I thought it would go great with my pierogies.  I am also very good at making soup.

FIRST QUARTER: The Defense shows up big.  The whole team rallies.  Tomlin tweaks the game plan.
This was too easy.  The bacon is Casey Hampton.  It was actually between him and Flozell Adams.  From everything I’ve read you can put as many embellishments as you want in the filling, so although it wasn’t in the recipe I know very well that bacon makes everything better.

And if Casey Hampton is the Bacon then James Harrison is the onions.  This was my first deviation from the recipe.  It calls to saute the onions in butter, but all that wonderful bacon grease was already in the pan, so I used that instead.  I’m a genius.

FIRST QUARTER: The offense moves the ball at will against the Packers’ defense, but it’s still not pretty.
Shredding the cheese.  This I couldn’t pass up.  And yes, it’s a terrible metaphor but I don’t care.  When I was at the store I saw this beautiful Wisconsin Colby-Jack and exclaimed “MWUAHAHAHAHA!”  But as it turns out, this step isn’t really negotiable anyway.  You do want delicious pierogies, right?

After shredding the cheese and boiling the potatoes I mash everything together.  Also, I forgot to mention that I chopped up some chives for the filling as well.  Karen didn’t think I should post a picture of the filling at this stage because it didn’t look very appetizing in this state.  Whatever.

SECOND QUARTER: A substitute makes a huge difference in the game, but the Packers’ defense holds.
I took the dough out of the fridge, rolled it out, and cut out the rounds.  At this point Jonathan came in the kitchen and asked to help.  So I put the filling on each round and showed him how to moisten the edges and fold them in half.  It actually makes the work go faster so I was happy.  Jonathan will therefore play the part of Doug Legursky, playing center for the Steelers due to the injury to the usual starter, Maurkice Pouncey.

At this point I started worrying about my metaphors.  The filling was smelling very good, and I knew it was because of the cheese.  If the cheese was the best part of the pierogies, and they were a success, does that mean that the Packers actually win the game?

THIRD QUARTER: The Steelers finally start looking good, but then lose their lustre quickly.
After the pierogies were formed they looked pretty good.  I was starting to get excited.

Then I boiled them.  It’s funny.  The recipe said that they float to the top when they’re done.  It also said it would take 8-10 minutes.  Mine took no more than five.  But after they were done boiling they looked odd.  I rinsed them off just like it told me to, but there was still a pretty thick layer of starch on the outside.  I was hoping for a big finish in the skillet.

FOURTH QUARTER: Troy Polumalu  scores a defensive touchdown.
All this time I was also making the chicken-corn soup, and at this point Karen came home from work and finished it off.  I was very grateful.  Yes, Karen is now playing the part of Troy.  She is the superstar in our kitchen.  Plus, she’s got beautiful hair.

FINAL TWO MINUTES:  The Steelers’ defense puts the game away, led by James Harrison.
Well, he was the onions, was he not?  The final step in the process is to saute some sliced onions in butter, and when they were soft add the pierogies and pan fry until crisp.  At this point even Karen was looking optimistic.

GAME OVER!  The Steelers win.  James Harrison is named MVP.
Even Karen said they were great.  The best part was the crispy outside, and guess what else?  The soup was GOLD!  How cool is that?  Thanks to some saffron, which was actually in the recipe.  I wish I’d had some black beans to serve on the side.  But no matter, this dinner was awesome.

MY PICK: Steelers 24, Packers 20.





Just an excuse to make Jambalaya

2 02 2010

I’ve never made Jambalaya before.  It looks very time consuming and labor intensive.  So that was probably why I wanted to see New Orleans in the Super Bowl.

Two years running I’ve successfully picked the Super Bowl winners using only my cooking as the deciding factor.  Don’t believe me?  Fine.  Go read THIS and THIS then come back to me.  Here’s how it works.  I pick a dish indicative of one of the participating cities and make it.  So far, they’ve been (in my estimation) fairly ambitious meals that I’d never made before.  If the dish is awesome, they win.  If it fails miserably they lose.  The goings on during the preparation directly reflect the flow of the game.  In the end we eat and see who has a big parade on Tuesday.  Bored yet?  Let’s get to it.

This year pits the Saints and the Colts.  So OF COURSE I chose Jambalaya.  How creative.  I will be playing the part of current Saints’ star quarterback and former Chargers “washed up” quarterback (remember that, ESPN?), Drew Brees.  My predictions for the game will be in bold, followed by a brief description of how things went in the kitchen.

OFF WEEK:  The Saints adopt an aggressive game plan.
I searched high and low for all kinds of recipes and in the end picked this one from Emeril.  No thanks to the Food Network, whose web search feature seemed to have been broken last week.  I chose it because of the duck.  Yes, I was enticed by the idea of cooking duck in with everything else because I figured it wasn’t enough work all by itself.  Karen wasn’t sure I could pull it off.  I don’t blame her.

SUPER BOWL WEEK: The Saints arrive in Miami and make a change to their offensive attack.
I live in central PA and andouille sausage is not something I can just go and buy.  Well, I can, but it’s frozen and mass produced.  On the other hand, the local butcher shop has homemade spicy Italian sausage.  No brainer.  I know it’s not authentic; I don’t care.

GAME TIME!  FIRST QUARTER: Drew Brees leaves the game and the Saints get behind early.
See, I was up very late the  night before painting the living room, so Karen suggested I take a nap with the baby.  I did and it pushed dinner back considerably.

FIRST QUARTER: Reggie Bush keeps the Saints within reach.
Why Reggie Bush?  Because he’s the superstar game changer who has mad skills.  In our kitchen this is Karen.  While I napped she did all the prep work.  Go look at that recipe and see how much there is.  She cut up the duck, prepped the peppers, onions, celery, garlic, sausage, and cleaned the kitchen.  Sounds like a punt return for a touchdown to me.

SECOND QUARTER: Brees gets back in the game and the Saints slowly start making progress.
I finally got out of bed and started cleaning the shrimp.  I was very pleasantly surprised at how much was already done.   It went very slowly.

SECOND QUARTER: The Saints’ stars score two quick touchdowns.
Dare I say they heat up?  Yes, in goes the duck to brown, followed by the sausage.

The kitchen smells great and the smoke alarm goes off.  There was still a good bit of fat on the duck so I actually drained a little before browning the sausage.  Then the onions, peppers, and celery join the sausage and I’m surrounded by the aroma of sizzling goodness.

HALFTIME: This part is painful.
Yes, the halftime show this year is The Who.  Maybe their walkers will be on stage with them?  No one learned their lessons from the Stones’ halftime show a few years ago or Springsteen last year.  Oh well.  In the kitchen the painful part was filling the pot with chicken stock and cooking the duck for an hour.  Waiting is so hard, but as Alton says “Your patience will be rewarded.”

THIRD QUARTER: The Saints shred the Colts’ defense and take the lead.
Actually this is the part where you shred the duck meat and cook the rice for 10 minutes.   It’s my blog, let me pick the metaphors okay?  Things are shaping up for a very exciting finish.

FOURTH QUARTER: The Colts take the field to tie the game.  All the Saints’ offense can do is watch and hope everything works out.
This is where it gets scary.  The recipe says to return the duck to the pot, add the shrimp, bring to a simmer, cover, and remove from the heat.  Do not open the lid for 15 minutes.   Karen starts to worry that the rice won’t cook.  But I remember Bobby Flay’s jambalaya throwdown and that guy did the same thing.  So I had faith.

FOURTH QUARTER: The Colts tie the game, sending it to overtime.
Now, you would say that this is bad for the Saints, but I say no.  Overtime would cement this as the greatest Super Bowl ever (except for every Super Bowl won by the Steelers).  So, that being said, I opened the lid and tested the rice.  Everything was cooked perfectly.

OVERTIME: The Saints get the ball and score a touchdown almost immediately.  Reggie Bush is named the MVP.
This is where Emeril tells me to add salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste.  I just added a bit of cayenne, and it was AWESOME.   A bit soupy, and we’ll probably use a cup less stock next time, but wow.

Now, why overtime?  It was 9:00pm, that’s why.  A little late for dinner, but it was a winner nonetheless.  And why a touchdown?  Because for the second time in my life Karen didn’t have to add any extra pepper sauce.  That’s my culinary yardstick folks.  And btw, had it not been for Karen doing all the prep work it would have been an epic failure; we’d have eaten dinner at midnight I’m sure.  So she gets the MVP for this one.

So there you have it.  Saints win 36-30 in overtime and Mardi Gras arrives a little early this year.  What about you?  Who ya got?





For my sister, whom I may have offended

17 02 2009

While I moved away from western PA after college, my sister moved BACK to western PA.  This has proven over the years to be beneficial for many reasons.  One of these is that occasionally she sends us items that are of a Black and Gold nature.  A delivery of that sort arrived less than a week after the Super Bowl.  T-shirts for everyone in the family (provided that I’m the same size as my 8-year-old) and that was way cool.  She asked me on the phone if they were going to feature in one of my now-famous Tuesday Twosday posts, and my reaction was something like “Oh, not this week.  It will be at least next week, if at all.”

Hmmm.  That may have been a little rude.  In my defense, two of my children and one of my wives were sick that weekend so I was a little preoccupied while on the phone.  

So this past weekend I decked out the little ones in their new shirts and Isaac helped me with the photo shoot.  It was fun, even if nobody smiled.

Look!  Daddy's doing something silly behind the camera!

Later I gave them a toy to fight over.  

back off buddy, don't make me use this

Taking these pictures is going to be very fun for a few months.





I’m Now Accepting Bids

2 02 2009

It wasn’t the refs, it wasn’t the crowd, it wasn’t the weather.  The difference in the game was my cooking and you know it.  Two years in a row now I’ve picked the Super Bowl winner correctly based solely on my cooking.  If any team would like my services I would be happy to start the bidding at two tickets to the game.

Ben was riveted by the game the whole time, honest.

And one other thing.  I can officially say that the most effective Super Bowl ad was the one for the Hyundai Genesis.  With all those people yelling “Hyundai!!!” a two-year-old in the room started yelling it too.