Phyllo, fancy parties…and medical marijuana?

Thursday night my husband and I decided to go out on the town! Have dinner, see a late show, like other people do. But a few too many of these went down.

And then, long story short,  I went down too. For 34 hours post night out I was out for the count. Coffee didn’t help. Two disco naps didn’t help. I even tried the hair-of-dog…. it didn’t help.

But last night was our book club – and I was not going to miss it. We had a real, live author coming in. We’re hot like that. The book was the wonderful Smiles and Ductape written by my dear friend April’s sister-in-law, Jesse Torrey (did you follow that?). 

The book is about the family’s journey after their son Jack develops ALD. It’s sad, happy and full of love. We were having a good discussion by the time Jesse started talking about the latest part of Jack’s story. It involves using medical marijuana. And then our little book club lit up…not literally, just conversationally. We had questions, lots and lots of questions. We became Charlie Rose level interviewers. I’ve never seen us come alive like that.  It was hysterical. 

And speaking of getting the munchies (just kidding)…

Usually when I go to someone’s home I like to bring a little bite to eat or some wine or both. My mama brought me up right. But did I mention I was exhausted? And old? Luckily for me my girl is home from college and had plans to meet friends for a “fancy dinner”. She had googled an appetizer she wanted to make and like any good mother I offered to buy her all of the ingredients… and then made her to make some for me to take too. I knew having kids would pay off eventually.

Now I love entertaining. I have for a long time. But in all those years I’ve never used Phyllo. Or is it just phyllo with a lower case p? In any case I’ve never used it/bought it/thought about it.

It was a revelation. Easy. Light. Tasty. How come more people don’t talk about Phyllo/phyllo?? 

Here’s what she made and I stole..

You need: Phyllo/phyllo cups, 2 tablespoons of heavy cream, 4 oz of goat cheese, 1 block of cream cheese, thyme, honey, red seedless grapes and black pepper. 


Fillo!! Wtf?? Which is it?



Combine the room temp cheese and heavy cream and whip


Bake Phyllo/phyllo/fillo shells to crisp up (this is optional because they are already fully cooked but remember she was going for “fancy”)


Fill each with the cheese mix – drizzle with honey, sprinkle in the thyme and black pepper, and finish with half a grape. Or one whole grape if you’re a Rockefeller.


Use fancy Ziploc bag as pastry bag….


And here’s my girl and her crew at their dinner. And then me with half the bookclub with the author (lower right) below. 

I’m sure that’s juice punch in that bowl… ahem.

Good morning roast

Sometimes…on a Friday morning, for no good reason, I wake up and make a roast. 

Normal right?

A few years ago my husband got me a Dutch oven. It’s high romance around here. Since then, I’ve slow braised the hell out of chicken, beef and lamb. And oh the chili I’ve made! 

I don’t make any veggie things in it because I feel like there’s braised meat in the bones of this Dutch oven. The soul of it is now meat. That’s right. It’s got a meat soul.

It’s an easy recipe. Cover the roast in salt, pepper and garlic. Sear the meat on high to get crust. Let the meat rest while you cook down onions, carrots and celery. Then add beef stock and a few bay leafs. Put the beef back in. Cover and into a 350 degree oven for 2-3 hours depending on size of roast. Done! 

Now go about your day, smelling like meat and bay leafs. You’re welcome.

   
    
    
   

Baking is my kryptonite

Not that I’m comparing myself to the caped wonder. I’m not super at all. And I would never wear blue tights.

My husband used to work in a bakery all throughout high school. He worked for a wonderful baker whose family has owned a German bakery in NYC for over a 100 years (it’s still there – everyone check out Glaser’s on the Upper East Side!). That lovely baker is my daughter’s godfather and one of our closest friends.

In college he let me work at the bakery to make some extra money. Early in our marriage we lived in an apartement right above that bakery, and I’ve never met anyone who likes cake more than me! So why for the love of all the sugar gods can’t I bake? And please, save me all your advice. Yes, I know baking is a science. I know I can’t “wing” ingredients. Oh, you bake all the time do you? It’s easier than cooking you say? Well in the words of Christian Bale when he had the meltdown on camera…”GOOD FOR YOU!”. Bake yourself a cookie and eat it why don’t you. Sorry. I’m just covered in sugar and failure. I’ll be nicer tomorrow.

Here’s my latest crumby attempt. Literally. No, this isn’t the crumb layer. This is the final product. Oh I’ll still eat it. I’m not nuts. But I am done with baking for good! Done I tell you! Done!

  
 

 

 

Because Butter

It’s officially Thanksgiving day but it’s technically still the night before.  I’m getting ready to call it a night. I’ve done what I can. Tomorrow will just have to happen.

I got a call today from a friend who is hosting her first ever Thanksgiving. She’s all freaked out and stressed out about the bird. The stuffing. The potatoes.

She wanted me to walk her through some of the recipes that I use. Since I was in the midst of prepping for the big day when she called I cut to the chase.

“Ok. So you know when you eat at a restaurant and you have their mashed potatoes or the chicken or steak and you think…how did they make it so well? Why can’t my food be this good. What makes this food better? You know what makes it better? Butter.”

That’s the truth. It’s not the organic ingredients or farm raised turkey. It’s not the Martha Stewart vs Ina method. It’s the butter. Obscene amounts of butter. In the potatoes, on the turkey. The stuffing? Oh it’s stuffed with butter.

When you think you’ve used enough – use more. Want to choose a healthier alternative? Have it. It won’t be as good.

Happy Thanksgiving people. Because butter.

Here’s a pic of my one of the turkeys (made with clarified butter and regular butter). Call 911.

turkey!

Wednesday Whine

Here’s what I like on my deli sandwiches:  one slice of american cheese, one slice of tomato, one or two pieces of lettuce, a few bits of red onion, a few cherry peppers if you have them, a little mayo. That’s it. I’m flexible on the bread type. I’m a go-with-the-bread-flow kinda person. Easy right? Not easy. Most helpful deli sandwich makers like to give me extra. To make up for the lackluster sandwich that they’ve deemed I’m subjecting myself to.

I usually get 10 pieces of cheese. Miles of lettuce and atleast 6 slices of tomato. Or! They try and put grilled veggies on there to make up for the meat. Outrageous.

When I was younger, so much younger than today…I would let it go. Like Elsa. I would take whatever kind of sandwich they would give me and then spend my precious lunch hour dissecting all the extra goo off of it.

Not anymore! I’m over 40 and hungry! Now, like the bitch they assume I am anyway, I tell them exactly what I want. One slice of cheese. Take the other off please. One slice of tomato. You heard me. One. Yes I know the cost of the sandwich won’t be less but I don’t care. I want what I want. No cucumbers, no olives, no nothin’.

Then they slice up my little sandwich, do a tsk tsk and hand it over. And you know what, it’s delicious. It’s not too cheesy. Not too soggy from all that tomato. Not too lettuce”y”. Perfect. To me.

Hope you had exactly what you wanted for lunch today. Fight the power!

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I add the love

I make a lot of things for Thanksgiving from scratch. Scratch meaning once there was nothing and now there’s something. Just in case you needed clarification.
Know what I don’t make from scratch? Gravy.
There. Now you know.
And cornbread.
I feel better. Lighter.
A few years ago I found this…

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It’s genius. This is what I do to it to make it seem homemade and take the edge off.

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After the turkey cooks I take some of the drippings and add that too. This not making gravy while 15 hungry people watch you has added years to my life. Ok days. It’s added days to my life. I’ll never go back.
And the cornbread? I just add some…how do you say…corn to this jazzy old school staple.

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It’s 59 cents people. And perfect. What are you a superhero trying to make this from scratch? Get over yourself.
Happy Thanksgiving Eve to you all!!

Oh No You Didn’t!

I was a bit distracted today. Last night, as I was falling into a deep deep sleep at 8:45pm, my husband dropped a bomb. A major announcement. Something he knew would send me reeling, so he waited until I was only half concious. He told me my Thanksgiving stuffing “needs work”. Excuse me? I’m sorry what? I felt like someone dumped cold water on me. It needs work? The stuffing I’ve been making for almost two decades? The one that we never have leftovers for?? Really? Then he kept talking. “It’s not clumpy enough.” “The sausage bits are too big.” “Maybe try a new recipe.”

I pretended to continue falling asleep, when in reality I was really seething for almost 10 minutes before actually falling asleep. How dare you sir!!! 

This morning I woke up and decided to ignore everything he said. This is the dude that has been licking his plate clean every Thanksgiving for the past 18 years. All of a sudden he’s on Chopped judging my technique?? Well I would not let him derail me. I mean, really, what am I supposed to do? Test run the stuffing? What am I a newlywed? But I was tortured. Obsessed. Fine! You win husband! I’ll do a trial run.

So I went through my work calls, work emails, work work – and then at 5pm…or maybe 4:59…I went out and bought all the stuff to make test stuffing. AKA dinner.

Here’s how it went down…buy this

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Then grab the entire 8 oz of butter. Yes. All of it. Do it. I also add in some fresh sage.

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Then add in the pre-chopped onions and celery or chop it all yourself if you’re a better person than me.

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Take whatever bread you are using, cut it up into rough pieces while thinking of your husband smack talking your hard work when all he does to prep for major holidays is take a shower. Ahem. Then bake at 200 degrees for an hour to dry out.

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Start another pan and cook the sausage. Here’s a before and after of what it should look like.

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I forget to add an egg to the ingredient photo – but you need an egg. At this point you’ll mix about a 1/3 of the stock with the egg and set it aside. Then generously butter a dish because…well, you know. Because butter.

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By now the onion, celery, sage mix is golden brown and swimming in butter.

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Time to combine the bread, sausage, onion/celery/butter mix and add a generous dose of fresh parsley and sage.

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You’ll note that I don’t add any salt because the butter I use is salted and, although I’ve never actually tasted it, I imagine the sausage to be salty. The only thing you have to add is the egg/turkey stock mixture and about a cup of just the stock.

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Then, for shits and giggles, add more butter.

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Bake for about an hour and done.

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When your husband says,”Sorry I doubted you, you are the best stuffing maker on the planet.” Drop the oven mitt on the floor and walk out of the kitchen.

P.S. – Don’t forget that your family can’t have food until Sunday because of all the calories they’ve consumed on Friday night and you should give your husband a small aspirin because of all the butter intake.

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