Jean Harlow + Salmon

August 3, 2016

Underwear makes me uncomfortable, plus my parts have to breathe.
~Jean Harlow

Admittedly, so true.  But, my girlfriend a bit reluctantly hunted for and bought bras yesterday…does that mean those parts do not breathe? (Because thus far I have not been endowed with man boobs, thankfully.)  So, I know not, but bosoms can become sweaty during these sultry days. There is nothing wrong with not donning a thong, but sometimes those boulders need some exhale and want some uplift.

The radiant platinum Blonde Bombshell (née Harlean Harlow Carpenter) in Kansas City, Missouri, and as Jean Harlow tragically and mysteriously died as a socialite in Beverly Hills, California, at 26 years of age, of a cerebral edema and urimea (some have opined that she was a victim of medial malpractice). Yes, she did endure small bouts of polio, meningitis and scarlet fever as a child. But, as many Hollywood legends, Jean lived fast and was rode hard: in 10 short years, she made 36 films, appeared as the first actress on Life magazine’s cover and, little doubt, played somewhat apathetically in between.

Did she really shun undergarments? Well, of course. Perhaps “the Baby” knew to go totally commando from living in her home clime or in high school in Chi-town, and then others on the West Coast found the practice of wearing nothing underneath seductive. You have seen her nipples and camel toe.  Maybe we all just felt them sublime, catching her scents from afar…and the blessed Jean swathed in her white satin revealing gowns, sometimes sensuously scanty, red lacquered lips, make-upped baby blues, porcelain skin, and dyed platinum blonde hair.

I mean admit it — underwear, and shorts, etc., smell so much more intoxicating when already worn by the lady beforehand. Plus, she was notably indiscreet, sexually alluring, and her persona was humorous, comedic by nature. (Think Sarah Silverman with true blonde locks on top.) Then again, think how Jean went to the lengths of icing her nipples so they protruded through her gossamer gowns. Yikes, girl!

Anyways, as mentioned earlier, we do love to eat au naturel or at least discalceate  — because food just tastes genuinely better barefoot, especially in the sand or water, especially if you masticate and quaff gently, quietly. Try it once, at least, with perhaps the simple recipe below. Revelatory, much like Jean.

SALMON FILLETS + ANCHOVIES + GARLIC

3 T unsalted butter, softened
1-2 T extra virgin olive oil

anchovy fillets, good quality
2-3 plump, fresh, peeled garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t sea salt, fine ground
Freshly ground black pepper

4 (8 or so oz) skin-on salmon fillets

4 T drained capers, patted dry

1/2 lemon, cut and seeded
Flat Italian parsley, freshly chopped

Heat heavy, ovenproof skillet to medium high and add butter and olive oil. In a small bowl, mash together anchovies, garlic, salt and pepper.

In the same large ovenproof skillet, melt about half the anchovy mix. Add salmon, skin side down. Cook for 3 minutes over medium high heat to brown and crisp the skin, spooning some pan drippings over the top of the salmon as it cooks. Add capers to bottom of pan and transfer to stove again. Sauté until salmon is just cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.

Remove pan from stove and add remaining anchovy mix to pan to melt. Place salmon on plates and spoon pan sauce over the top. Squeeze the lemon half over the salmon and garnish with chopped parsley.

Serve with a crispy white or rosé in small plates or shallow soup bowls.

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Ubiquitous Caper Salsa

May 28, 2016

In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life:  it goes on.
~Robert Frost

This salsa can be drooled over whatever, whether edible flora or fauna.  Imagination and creativity are all that need come to the table (comme d’habitude).

CAPER SALSA

1 C capers, non-pareil, rinsed and patted dry

2-3 T extra virgin olive oil
Zest of 1 1/2 lemons, grated
1/4 C lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed and minced
2/3 C parsley or cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

1 C chèvre or other goat cheese, crumbled

In a bowl mix together capers with the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic and parsley. Then, whisk in the goat cheese. Ladle onto…

Lemons — Oval Bliss

April 17, 2016

When life gives you lemons, ask what life is suggesting.
~Unknown

Sunshine globes, lemons often peak in May through August.  Along with their cousins limes, lemons munificently have flavonoids, antioxidants, oxalates, folates, and limonoids boasting anti-cancer auras and also are a sublime source of vitamin C and free radicals.  So many tidbits for you.

Plus clamorous flavors — the tartness of lemon curd with a shortbread base, then finished with averse sea salt and sugar.  Something just like Mom used to create, well except for the sea salt (but, little doubt she would adore that touch and savor).

LEMON BARS

Preheat oven to 325 F

1 1/4 C all purpose flour
1/4  C granulated sugar
3 T confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 t lemon zest
A pinch of sea salt
10 T cold unsalted butter, cold and cubed

1/2 C fresh lemon juice
2 T lemon zest, freshly grated
1/2 C granulated sugar or 1/4 each raw + granulated sugars
2 local, large eggs
3 local, large egg yolks
1 t cornstarch
6 T unsalted butter, cold and cubed

Confectioners’ sugar
Sea salt, coarse

For crust, line 9″ x 9″ heavy baking pan with parchment paper hanging over edges. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse the flour, both sugars, zest and sea salt together. Pulse or use fingers to cut butter into the flour mix until a crumbly dough forms. Press dough into papered pan with fingers and bake around 30-35 minutes, until slightly golden.

For curd, whisk together lemon juice, zest, sugar, eggs, egg yolks and cornstarch in a medium heavy saucepan. Stir in butter over medium heat, whisking frequently, until curd shows marks of whisk and bubble appears on surface, about 6 minutes.

Refrigerate in a glass bowl covered with plastic wrap until chilled.

Remove the crust and pour the curd onto the base. Return the pan to the oven and bake until curd is just set, 10-15 minutes more. Allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate before cutting into bars.

Lightly sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and coarse sea salt right before serving.

Carnal embrace is the practice of throwing one’s arms around a side of beef.
~Tom Stoppard

One time, a velveteen skinned, stranded sea lion came to me on a beach much like a tired, whining and throaty barking hurt dog. We were both, well all, naked (as if that matters), and we did not know what to do as cell phones were inoperable due to canyons and obtusely did not know what the recovery timing was then.

He/she was not totally emaciated and did not appear close to death, so the dance was confusing and misguided for both of us. Whether to pet, touch, caress or simply feel or hug — never a good time to be bitten by a potentially sickened sea mammal. But, there appeared a cry for help. I had read about the starving sea lion population, particularly those who needed nursing that had “washed up” on the Channel Islands and California coasts. It seemed apparent that this sea lion was a victim of the consequences of climate change and rising ocean temperatures — confused, somewhat gaunt and forlorn. I could not even tell how old she/he was due to my ignorance. Later in the day after staying nearby she/he walked away, and the sea lion was hopefully rescued, rehabilitated and ultimately released.

Then again, who really knows?

CARPACCIO

8 or so ozs lean beef, such as tenderloin or top round, trimmed of fat, sinewy membrane, or silverskin (connective tissue)
1 T capers, rinsed
Arugula leaves and/or micro-greens, washed and spun dry
Extra virgin olive oil

Parmigiano reggiano, shaven into curls
Lemon wedges

Chill the beef (and platter) in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes. Cut beef against the grain into thin slices with a very sharp knife, trimming away any fat or gristle. Put each slice between layers of heavy duty plastic wrap or waxed paper and gently pound beef flat with a meat mallet to a thickness to about 1/16″ (about paper thin). Refrigerate flattened slices in plastic, until chilled, almost frozen.

Peel plastic from each slice and invert onto a chilled platter and top each slice with capers and arugula and/or micro-greens. Drizzle each portion with olive oil, then season lightly with salt and pepper.

Garnish atop carpaccio with shaven parmigiano reggiano and lemon wedges, squeezed, and serve promptly.

Buon appetito!

Pourboire: other times, carpaccio is slightly covered in pickled shallot, fine anchovies, garlic, chopped red onion, sliced grilled fennel, chives, even cherry heirloom tomatoes. Your call, but I prefer simplicity.

If the word doesn’t exist, invent it; but first be sure it doesn’t exist.
~ Charles Baudelaire

Just last week, Merriam-Webster, America’s leading dictionary publisher, announced its Word of the Year (WotY) based upon a surge in hits or lookups. Sciencethe systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment garnered the award. “It is a word that is connected to broad cultural dichotomies: observation and intuition, evidence and tradition,” noted Peter Sokolowski, editor at large at Merriam-Webster. By the way, the word holding second place was “cognitive” which involves conscious mental activities such as thinking, understanding, learning, and remembering. Hmm

Oxford Dictionaries had earlier disagreed, bestowing the honor to the obsessive, egoistic term selfie, a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website. Could you possibly imagine sites as trite and fatuous as Facebook pages and Twitter feeds as fonts of narcissism? Right, sure. Although selfie is not in Oxford Dictionaries currently, it is being considered for future inclusion.

Gremolata (gremolada) from the Italian dialect word gremolaa (Lombardy) meaning “to break, mix, or knead” was traditionally made with a mortar and pestle. A versatile soul, gremolata is a condiment that can facilely grace braised, grilled, sautéed, and roasted meats, fowl and fish.

GREMOLATA

1/2 C flat leaf parsley leaves, washed and thoroughly dried, chopped
2 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced
Zest of 1 lemon

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small glass bowl, combine the parsley, garlic and lemon zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

GREMOLATA WITH ORANGE

1/2 C flat leaf parsley leaves, washed and thoroughly dried, chopped
2 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced
Zest of 1/2 orange
Zest of 1/2 lemon

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small glass bowl, combine the parsley, garlic and orange and lemon zests. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

MINT GREMOLATA

1/2 C fresh mint leaves, washed and thoroughly dried, chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
2 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/4 C pine nuts, toasted

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small glass bowl, combine the mint, garlic, lemon zest and pine nuts. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

CILANTRO GREMOLATA

1/2 C cilantro leaves, washed and thoroughly dried, chopped
Zest of 1 lime
1/2 lime juice
2 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small glass bowl, combine the cilantro, garlic, lime zest, and lime juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

GREMOLATA WITH BONE MARROW

Beef marrow scraped from 2 – 6″ long beef bones
1/2 C flat leaf parsley leaves, washed and thoroughly dried, chopped
2 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced
Zest of 1 lemon

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small glass bowl, whisk or mash together the marrow, parsley, garlic, and lemon zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pourboire: For a more robust texture and a twist in flavor, consider adding finely chopped nuts such as hazelnuts or walnuts (or pine nuts as above) to any of the gremolatas.

Baba Ganoush

August 10, 2011

Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.
~Mark Twain

How the simple yet elegant baba ganoush ducked under the radar on this site is baffling. Not really a stealthy dish, as I have made, served and savored it many a time. Maybe it just took a needed, overdue coupling with two dear coastal pollo-pescatarians who have a penchant for hummus coupled with an oversupply of eggplant here to jump start the needed synapses. Just seemed natural to re-create a close cousin to, but in lieu of, sweetly addictive hummus. Breaking through that gateway hummus habit may prove brutally painful, but baba ganoush is a substance to consider. A methadone of food.

Baba ganoush or baba ganouj (بابا غنوج) is an iconic purée of eggplant, tahini, lemon juice, garlic and herbs. A protean dish—regional names, versions and services may vary across the Middle East and Mediterranean basin. But, whether served as an app, salad or side, the eggplant always remains front and center.

Baba ganoush can be refrigerated for up to 5 days prior to serving. Like most things, it improves after nestling overnight.

BABA GANOUSH

3 medium eggplants, halved lengthwise
1/2 C tahini (sesame paste)
3 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
Small pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 C lemon juice
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 t sea salt, or to taste

Chopped fresh parsley or cilantro leaves, for garnish
A drizzling of extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 F

Place eggplant with cut side down on a baking sheet lined with foil. Prick in several places with a fork, place in oven and roast until soft, about 20-25 minutes. Cooking time varies depending on size and ripeness. A paring knife should easily slide into the eggplants. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

When cool enough to handle, scoop eggplant pulp into a bowl, discarding the skins. Add tahini, garlic, cayenne pepper, lemon juice, olive oil and salt. Then gently stir together. Empty the mixture into a food processor fitted with a steel knife and purée in pulses until fairly smooth. Season to taste with more salt and/or lemon juice, if neccessary.

Garnish with parsley and lightly drizzle with olive oil. Serve with roasted bread slices or wedges of warm pita.

Pourboire: Adding a slight pinch of dried cumin or some seeded and diced fresh tomatoes are pleasing detours. Also, consider serving with a few fine cured olives.

The finest clothing made is a person’s skin, but, of course, society demands something more than this.
~Mark Twain

The delicious fig has often borne the burden of negative connotation. Fig leaf even carries a pejorative metaphorical sense of covering up behaviors or thangs that are embarrassing or shameful…the implication being that the cover is merely a token gesture and the reality of what lies underneath is all too obvious. Who can forget the biblical tale of Adam and Eve strategically covering their god given genitals in that original act of christian expurgation? Of course, none of us ever deigned to imagine what lurked beneath those leaves.

Prim and proper, yet highly skilled and insanely face paced, badminton now wants to lift the proverbial fig leaf some. The sport is engulfed in a controversy incited by an officially sanctioned dress code. In a effort to revive flagging interest, the World Federation has mandated that elite women must now wear more revealing skirts or dresses as many now compete in shorts or baggy tracksuit pants. In a typical “sex sells” approach, the Federation in conjunction with the marketing firm Octagon has decided that more flesh translates into a larger following. “We’re not trying to use sex to promote the sport, we just want them to look feminine and have a nice presentation so women will be more popular,” naïvely remarked a deputy president of the Federation to the New York Times. It comes as little surprise that the Badminton World Federation is male dominated.

The reaction to requiring more skin while not universal has been almost zealously critical. Those offended who seek to have the rule abolished simply argue that the governing body of a sport decreeing a “less is better” clothing code for women smacks of overt sexism. Seems a point well made. Perhaps the governing board should compel male shuttlecockers to be barechested in speedos and women to be adorned in skimpy tops and thongs—now that would draw some throngs.

It just seems clothing optional should be a personal choice.

FIG COMPOTE

1/2 C turbinado (raw) sugar
1/2 C unprocessed local honey
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 t vanilla extract
2 C cold water

2 C dried black mission or mediterranean figs, stemmed and halved

1+ C premium balsamico di Modena

Place the sugar, honey, lemon zest, vanilla and water in a small saucepan over moderately low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Put the figs in a medium bowl, pour the syrup over the figs and allow to cool for about 4 hours.

Drain and discard the syrup, then put the figs in an airtight container and add enough balsamic vinegar to cover well. Cover and refrigerate for another 4 hours.

Serve over a fine ice cream of choice or topped with marscapone or freshly whipped cream—even gracing pork or lamb dishes.

P.S. The BWF announced Sunday that it was scrapping the rule that would have forced women to wear skirts or dresses in elite competition.