How to Cook Everything, Except Shrimp

It's never been a secret on this blog, that I would eat shit - if Mark Bittman cooked it and declared it was fabulous. I adore his food philosophies about cooking techniques, flavor combinations and serving styles. You won't find him making anything that includes molecular gastronomy, and the iPhone app that accompanies his book is the bee's knees.

There is ONE area that I have major differences of opinion with him about. The timing on shrimp cookery. His recipes repeatedly list shrimp cooking times that if you followed, would yield chewy, overcooked, inedible crustaceans. Here's just one example. If it took 10 minutes to cook you would cry at how much shrimp you've wasted. I've even emailed him about a recipe that appears on epicurious of his where all the reviews talk about the dish being wildly overcooked. No response.

Now, I can grant him this ONE oversight - but I'm tickled how it is so consistent.


Uova in Purgatorio

If you've learned anything about me from my blog, you know that I love witty food! Eggs in purgatory falls in that category. This morning's breakfast is in honor of some well spoken gentlemen who got us out of bed by ringing our doorbell. Now, it was almost 11am so we can't be angry but anyone who disrupts our slumber on the weekend is subject to penalties.

Our at-home date movie last night was the recent remake of The Taking of Pelham 123 with John Travolta, Denzel Washington and the dude who plays a bad guy in every single movie, Luis Guzman. This tangent will make sense in a moment, I promise. I prefer the 1974 version of Pelham with Walter Mathau and Robert Shaw (the rugged sailor from Jaws) but that isn't important. The new Pelham features all the typical, iconic, NYC scenery. The ride over the Manhattan Bridge looking down on the South Street Seaport was the view of my daily commute. The other side of the bridge has The Watchtower, which was the distribution site for the well known Jehovah's Witness publication. I made note of it to Paul, because it is indeed an impressive building soon to be for sale if you're in the market. I have $120 mil laying around, don't you?

This morning our doorbell was ringing. By the chime I knew it was the front door, not our most used kitchen door. That is the best thing about wireless doorbells, having a different chime for each door - highly recommended. This told me the people at the door didn't know us so I sent Paul out of bed to see who it was. It was two men passing out The Watchtower! I believe this is only the second time I've been called on by this group since living in PA. NY and AZ were much more active.

Finally on to my witty food. I thought I was being all professional roasting breakfast sausage for this morning while we ate dinner last night. Turned out I forgot about them in the oven and well, we didn't have any breakfast sausage for this morning. I did have some leftover tomato sauce (a staple in my fridge) and some fresh mozz that had to be used up. Everyone knows how I love poached eggs, so I poached eggs in the tomato sauce, added some heat (it is purgatory, it can't be all pleasant) and placed the finished product atop slices of the fresh cheese to melt and I poured coffee. Tasty and witty.


Cotton Candy Seafood with Jose Andres

I am not a fan of molecular gastronomy. I am a fan of Jose Andres, what he has brought to this country, and what he gives back.

I am also a fan of now knowing how to add video here. Watch out world!

You Say it's Your Birthday?

"Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread and pumpkin pie." - Jim Davis, creator of Garfield.

Preparations were underway for my Father-in-law's 70th birthday. The party was to be a surprise, at a casual Italian restaurant nearby. Our family tradition states that although there is a party planned, there will also be a mandatory after party. While there was an equally traditional pound cake birthday cake for the restaurant, my Mother-in-law was baking an apple spice cake for the after party. "He asked for carrot cake, but I don't know how to make that, so he's getting apple," she said. A light bulb went off in my head. I have carrots and a kick ass recipe for carrot cake cookies! Time to make a present to accompany the bottle of well aged single malt Scotch to mark the occasion.

Notice the picture is NOT carrot cake cookies. Here is the progression of my baking energy on a Saturday morning after a late Friday night out: 1 - Thinking, "Gee, I have to go to the store to get some more butter and cream cheese for the cookies." 2 - Go to the store, but also stop at Chick-fil-A to bring home their irresistible chicken biscuits for breakfast. 3 - Eat breakfast, lay on the couch because I'm still not fully awake and now have a full stomach. 4 - Think, "I really need to start the cookies." 5 - Continue to lay on the couch. You get the idea. The clock was ticking and we absolutely could not miss the surprise part of the party. I decided a carrot cake would save labor time. Throw it in the oven, cook, cool, frost. Easy-peasy as Jamie Oliver would say.

I preheat the oven, grate the carrots, decide that I know more than the food geniuses at Epicurious and alter their recipe. I sub half the sugar in the recipe for brown for added flavor and moisture, reduce total sugar by 25% just because, add a cup of raisins because carrot cake SHOULD have raisins, sub ginger extract for fresh because that's what I had in the pantry. I go to get my cake pans and... I don't have any cake pans! I use disposable ones because recipes require so many different sizes I don't want to stock them all. Also, I don't have to be delicate with disposables, worrying about scratching a dainty non-stick surface, etc. I didn't have any! What I did have was a small arsenal of disposable muffin tins leftover from a healthy muffin kick a few months ago. I also had cupcake cups. I was in business!

In the end, cupcakes are more work than cakes but less work than cookies. No one had the hassle of slicing a cake, and the look on my Father-in-law's face when I handed him one of 3 containers and told him these were only for him was priceless. ♥