Berry in Blue

This morning's thought progression regarding breakfast:

"I feel like eating grits.

I have a load of fresh blueberries in the fridge.

Would blueberry grits be good?

I don't think so, but blueberry corn muffins would be!"

And so, my blueberry corn muffins were born. I based my ingredients on this recipe from Epicurious, doubling the recipe and reducing the sugar, and substituting some sour cream for milk to retain moisture and because I like sour cream. The only thing better on these than sweet butter is a drizzle of maple syrup.


My Favorite Deli (in PA)

Michael's Deli in King of Prussia, PA. Part diner, part beer garden, part Jewish Deli. To the left is "Michael's Platter". I regret I didn't have the captive husband rotate the plate to show the mounds of meat in the front, but it's piled with pastrami, corned beef, cooked salami, cheese, coleslaw AND potato salad, and sandwich toppings. It's served with a mound of whatever bread you like to build your own sandwiches. And it's only $10.

It's the only place within a 15 mile radius that I can get hand sliced lox to order when the craving strikes. They serve breakfast all day, and have over 100 types of bottle beer for sale. Great pickles, authentic knish, and tomato pie by the slice. Don't forget Jewish Apple cake. When my mother in law is on baking strike, I eat theirs.

I don't regret to report that the waiter slash magician I wrote about here is no longer employed there.

Favorite Delis (not in PA)
  • Brooklyn (Jewish) Empress Deli (gasp) no real website. Crunchy beef hot dogs and crispy Coney Island Knishes. Triple decker sandwiches and chocolate egg creams.
  • Brooklyn (Italian) Star Cheese Salumeria - 20th Ave. Googling shows it may have closed. I didn't appreciate hand made mozzarella and the best mortadella when I was 6 years old. An Asian family bought it and kept it Italian, making mozzarella everyday and even wearing the old Italian lady housecoats as uniforms. This is where my semolina knot roll came from for my elementary school sandwiches.
  • Washington D.C. (Arlington, Italian) The Italian Store This place reminds me of Brooklyn, and South Philly. They also have a nice selction of wines. Waiting for made to order sanwiches and pizza is controlled chaos, and worth the wait.


Get Fuzzy by Darby Conley

My favorite comic strip, with food as it's subject. Joy!

Harry Potter and the Treacle Tart

I must interrupt our regular programming to bring you the latest on the Boy Who Lived. I resisted the urge to yap about the iPhone, but this can't wait. The New York Times has already reviewed the book that's supposed to be under wraps. It reveals that no less than 6 characters die. But whom? Below, my predictions.

The Harry Potter Death Pool

Severus Snape - Harry may ache to do this himself.
Lucius Malfoy - I hope.
Arthur Weasley - Some of the good people have to die too. If it might not be the main characters themselves, strike for loved ones.
Neville Longbottom

Should Voldemort count if I believe he will be reduced again to whatever he was before he came back the first time?

We now return to your scheduled program already in progress.

Edit: After Googling Lucius for spelling purposes, I read the Wikipedia entry on him which was updated this morning.

"Malfoy himself, still imprisoned, is not harmed; his family, however, are less fortunate. Voldemort recruits Malfoy's son Draco with orders to murder Dumbledore, threatening to kill the boy and his mother, Narcissa, if he does not.

Does this reminder mean Voldemort kept his word and Draco and Mommy are gone?


Dinner Tonight

Grilled pork chops with garlic cilantro sauce and warm black bean salad.

I am a magazine junkie. I subscribe to no less than 4 food publications. Well, 3. One was a gift from my future sister in law, although it was a subscription extension. Bon Appetit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Saveur. There are also newsletters and quarterly journals from Slow Food, and my complimentary professional subscription to Food Arts (best covers ever). Possibly because I taste each recipe in my head, reading just one can take more than an hour. I am not disciplined enough to read them on a regular basis, so they build up in the mail pile that I move from the coffee table, to the desk, to the floor, under the futon and back. Nor can I part with them. Someday I may need it. You never know. So this morning while actually organizing the tower into spiffy red magazine holders from IKEA, one of them fell down and landed on a page with Cuban pork chops with cilantro vinaigrette. Eureka! Quick, flavorful, and would go nicely with the Friday margarita I was planning for the captive husband.

I recalled Daisy Martinez's method for mojo (I think) where she put raw garlic and onion in a blender with some vinegar. She heated oil and added it to the blender. This both enhances and tames the garlic kick. A quick Google revealed she doesn't publish many of her recipes online in an attempt to get you to buy her book. How I forget no everyone has money rolling in everytime someone says, "Bam!" on any continent like Emeril. So, I improvised. I only wanted enough sauce for this meal so I chopped 4 big cloves of garlic and put them in my mortar. I smashed with a little salt and heated some canola oil until quite hot but not smoking. When I added the hot oil to the mortar the smell was divine. The texture was similar to babaghanouj. Yes, I'm assuming you know what babghanouj is. Google it. I took a shortcut with the cilantro. I found the flavor tubes of herbs in the produce section and promptly returned the very sandy bunch of fresh cilantro. Plus, for the amount I use, I'd end up throwing the rest of that bunch away in a week. Squeezed some into the mortar, added a splash of vinegar and some more salt - complete! Exceptional! Potent, but manageable as long as both members of the couple are eating garlic, they cancel each other out.

After seasoning some pork loin chops I let them hang out in the grill pan while I cut the kernels from an ear of corn and put them to saute. Added some diced red onion and drained and rinsed canned black beans. After seasoning, the juice of a lime bought it all to life. I could have added some diced avocado but the captive husband isn't a fan. I eat avocados in secret. In the plating, I wish I'd put the sauce in a little puddle between the chops. Since it's thick it ended up looking like cat vomit in the photo. Sorry!

Overall, it was ready in a half hour and accompanied the margaritas nicely.


What is under that kilt?

Luckily the label isn't representative of the quality of the beer. I picked this up on Thursday to go with "Corned beef specials" I made using the leftover coleslaw that went with the ribs. Terrific! Scotch Ale is roasty and deep unlike it's pale couterpart. A great compliment to the pumpernickel rye swirl bread used for the sandwiches. From Syracuse, NY Middle Ages Brewing Co has an impressive lineup, with witty names. Wailing Wench, ImPaled Ale. I'd be interested in trying their other Scotch Ales, there are 2, in comparison to the kilt tilter. Maybe it's named as such for the high alcohol content, 9%, which is up there for beer.


Sippin' the Night Away

What better way to celebrate our independence from the British and our dependence on illegal immigrant labor than with a margarita? The sky is cloudy and damp so I've made a big pitcher and got out the ice crusher for a night of fun. Baby back ribs are roasting in the oven and the cole slaw is curing while I rim glasses with a 50/50 mix of kosher salt and sugar.

My favorite margarita recipe. I made use of my spiffy Rosle muddler to mash a lime with sugar before I added the rest of the fresh lime juice. The captive husband has been craving these for awhile. A few weeks ago we gathered the required bushel of limes and then discovered we couldn't find our Triple Sec. A week passed, limes soured (imagine that) and still no Triple Sec. Then I finally bought a bottle and we were out of limes. Today all the forces came together!


Success! Pollo al Mattone

I finally got around to making chicken under a brick, a dish described in one of my first posts. It was as good as I hoped it would be. I did hit some snags along the way. I used a regular Perdue fryer chicken but it happened to be larger than the average chicken. It wasn't a roaster, but larger than it should've been, taking longer to cook. I put one brick over the breast, one brick over the legs/thighs. After being in the oven about 10 minutes I removed the brick from the dark meat to give it a head start cooking, and 25 minutes later removed the brick from the breast. The key is to turn the chicken over before it starts releasing tasty pan juices which will soften the skin. I did encounter a bit of this. I roasted fennel with olive oil in the oven on high heat while I butchered the breastbones out of the chicken. While the chicken was resting before carving I put the fennel back in the oven to warm while I made buerre rouge, a French red wine pan sauce with oodles of butter.

To make buerre rouge, I softened 2 sliced shallots in the large saute pan I used to roast the chicken - allowing some chicken fat to act as a flavor amp. When soft, I added 1 cup of a red wine I wasn't fond of drinking which happened to be the most recent beaujolais nouveau. Why do I get on the bandwagon every year when this is released? I liked it once long ago when it tasted like Snapple fruit punch and buy it every year since despite it being horrid. Back to sauce making... I bring to a boil while scraping the tasty roasty bits off the bottom (called deglazing) and add a bay leaf and a sprig of thyme. I dice 1/2 stick cold butter. When the wine is almost entirely reduced, I take the pan off the heat, remove herbs and swirl in the cold butter, making an emulsion. If you do this on the heat the butter will simply melt and you won't have a sauce with the mouthfeel of silk. A sprinkle of black pepper (there's a good amount of salt already in the pan from the chicken) and a minute on a low flame to heat up. Plate the chicken and drizzle sauce. The photo above is sans sauce so I could sauce and serve immediately. The poor captive husband is often left waiting and salivating while I delay dinner for poor photography to present here.

Chicken under a brick - make it this week! Some nice accompaniments could also be: sauteed brussels sprouts with walnuts, gnocchi with brown butter (forgo red wine sauce), grilled asparagus, or smashed yukon gold potatoes with goat cheese and olive oil.

What am I?

It's blurry, I know. I was too excited to eat and not taking the proper care with my ancient camera. So, a puzzle for Lavender Sky readers. What is this divine foodstuff?
Hint: It is a traditional southern accompanitment to BBQ that has been breaded and deep fried upon it's entry into heaven. It's gooey and wonderful.