The secret to the source of good humor is not joy, but sorrow.
~Mark Twain

It is revealing that Abraham Lincoln bequeathed to Barack Obama his comic flair and inspiration, as Abe did his best to hold the country together during its darkest times through humor. Now, we have the alt-right with their youthful white collar supremacist leader, Richard B. Spencer, a former student from Duke, a suit and tie version of yore. A khaki suit donned by a kid who sports a “fashy” and repeatedly spews quotes from Nazi propaganda — alt-right, a term for a motley, internet based conservative radicals under a stratum known as the “manosphere.” When an overly serious Mr. Spencer shouted, “Hail, Trump! Hail, our people! Hail, victory!” a sprinkled mob of men stood and raised their arms in Nazi salutes…just ponder about “the Donald’s” stunted hands so posed in Hitlerian mannerisms as he shamelessly exploited his hosts. As such, he poses a complication (or not, for him) for the incoming president.

But, do not forget readers and “the Donald” and his followers of the Emolument Clause in the United States Constitution which reads unequivocally:

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

Get the nationalistic picture, brothas and sistas? White supremacy and nationality. It is, pure and simple — the entitled, rich, privileged, white, bald men who run Wall Street or come out of the Washington power he supposedly fought against.

But, then again, people fall for this governmental laxity due in part to strangely having held false historical perspectives. As if this type of furious white supremacy should be truly mainstream in America — tariff threats to “bring back” American workers, policer of Mexican and African American communities, immigration control, deporting illegals, women, Muslims, handicappeds, disableds, gays, transgenders, and fear-mongering coupled with the overall notion that American ideals have been somehow threatened.

Really? Words do matter, believe you me. Well over his orange con head.

In many respects, it is not in the least humorous to the very most of us. As a nation, we are a couple of steps away from oligarchy, plutocracy, kleptocracy and/or dictatorship. His “transitional team” that he announced is a hoot, if if were not so laughable. These antagonistic figures that disconnect come from the top, from a man who decided to build a wall in Scotland, then bilked locals (likely because he could not pay the bill despite his supposed claims of wealth) — a guy who lost the majority by many more voters than in several decades. A true mandate?  No, the words of a tangled loser, as have been the views of so many foreign diplomats. As has been been poorly teethed by Kellyann Conway (sp?)

It is a coming storm, not to be abated. We are now led by an orange faced and haired bug-wit, demagogue, haranger, narcissist, racist, xenophobe, fascist, misogynist, bully, and silly cyberbully, martinet, religious hater, diplomatic blunderer, fact avoider, disunioner, and the like.

Were you even aware that he admittedly did not know what the 13 stripes meant in the American flag despite his “attempt” to force flag burners to leave the country, and his wearing an American flag on his lapel? What a phony.

I have a sometimes quirky friend in Southern Cal with whom we grew up together. Even though she savored Italian fare at home, she detests squid, sushi and some other things — a sometimes picky eater, even as an adult. But, she still remains a very good friend. Her taste buds have to do with food textures, which is totally cool. Fortunately or unfortunately, I like most all food, an omnivore of sorts.

As opposed to the usual ramen, this recipe calls for squid as the noodles. Little doubt that “the Donald” and his cabinet have never tasted such a delicacy. In case you did not know, the words derive from shin ramyun, “shin” meaning “spicy” and “ramyun” denoting the Korean word for ramen, a Japanese word. Just thought you may need a little edification as no doubt you will be in dire need of for the job ahead, should you have one.

SQUID AS NOODLES (WITH HERBS, STOCK & EGG)

3 lbs squid, cut into noodles
4 C homemade chicken stock, heated to a bare simmer

Herbs, roughly chopped, such as thyme, tarragon, rosemary, sage, basil
1 T fennel seeds, ground
1/2 t allspice, ground

1 T shoyu
1 t sesame oil

1/2 jalapeno chile, stemmed, seeded and sliced

1-2 eggs softly boiled (less than 6 minutes)

Cut 3 lbs squid,thinly into noodles with a sharp knife
Heat 4 C homemade chicken stock over heavy pot and medium heat, until to barely a simmer and put in squid until cooked.

Herbs, roughly chopped with knife
1 T fennel seeds, heated and freshly ground
1/2 t allspice, heated and freshly ground
1/2 t nutmeg
All mixed well and placed in a glass bowl.

Add and stir 1 T shoyu sauce & 1 t sesame oil, then add by stirring to broth which contains squid and stock.

Place 2 eggs, softly boiled briefly in heavy pot

Serve in deep bowls with “noodles” in chicken stock, then add herbs, fennel, allspice, and nutmeg followed by splashes of shoyu, sesame oil, eggs and jalapenos.

Scones

May 23, 2009

Scones supposedly originated in Scotland and were closely related to the griddle baked flatbread, known as bannock. The origin of the name scone is rather vague—some say the name comes from the Stone of Scone, where the Kings of Scotland were crowned; others contend that the name is derived from the Dutch word schoonbrot meaning “fine white bread” or from the German word sconbrot meaning “fine or beautiful bread;” another school speculates that scone is rooted in the Gaelic word sgonn, a “shapeless mass or large mouthful.”

As an aside, I prefer buttermilk.

SCONES

2 C all purpose or cake flour
1/4 C sugar
1 T baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
6 T chilled unsalted butter, cut into pads

1 large organic, free range egg
4 T cold buttermilk or whole milk
4 T cold heavy whipping cream
1/2 C dried currants or other dried fruit (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 F

Sprinkle baking sheet lightly with flour. Combine 2 cups flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. It is important that the butter be cold so when it is worked into the flour mixture it becomes small, flour coated crumbs, not a smooth dough. Do not overwork the dough—it should be like pie dough. Work the dried fruits into the dough.

Whisk egg, milk and cream in small bowl. Combine egg mixture with dry ingredients, stirring with spoon until moist. If dry, add some more cream. Gather dough into ball. Turn out onto lightly floured surface. Shape dough into a round about 3/4 inch thick. Using a cookie cutter or small wine glass, cut rounds of dough. (Alternatively, you may simply cut the dough into triangles.) Gather the scraps, reshape the dough, and cut out more rounds or triangles. Arrange rounds on baking sheet. If desired, brush with an egg wash.

Bake scones until tops are lightly golden and a toothpic inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with butter, honey or jam.

Fried Bird

April 8, 2009

The light delectable tapas behind us, I felt the urge to offer some heartier fare.

Frying food, including chicken, is both an antiquated and timeless cooking method…going back to ancient cultures such as Egypt, Rome and Asia, even medieval Europe. For instance, Apicius mentions sweet and savory fritters in his classic Roman cooking text even though he does not detail the cooking methodology. This widespread early birth of fried food is no surprise, as dredging foods with flour and spices then frying tenderizes and enhances flavor.

In the 19th century, fried chicken emerged as a deeply rooted staple in the American South with many claiming that Scottish immigrants brought their tradition of deep fat frying chicken to these states. At the same time, the efficient cooking process was well adapted to the plantation life of African-American slaves, who were sometimes allowed to raise chickens…introducing seasonings and spices that were earlier absent in Scottish cuisine.

Whatever the origin, fried chicken often provokes strong emotions and opinions about technique.

Although not crucial, this recipe entails soaking the fowl in a brining solution before beginning the actual cooking process. Briefly (and inadequately), brining alters cellular structure so that more water than usual is retained while the meat is denatured. As the meat cooks, the heated proteins will begin to reduce tightly and exude juice at a lower rate, producing a more tender piece of meat. We hope.

When brining, be sure to use the appropriate container, such as glass or plastic. Aluminum is not a good choice because the salted water and enzymes in the meat combine, creating a chemical reaction with the aluminum which adversely affects flavor.

FRIED CHICKEN

1 free range, organic fryer chicken

Brine solution:
3/4 C honey
12 whole peppercorns
6 sprigs thyme
6 sprigs rosemary
6 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
3/4 C lemon juice
1 part sea salt to 8 parts cold water, enough to cover chicken

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

3 C all purpose flour
2 T garlic powder
2 T onion powder
2 T sweet paprika
2 t cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper

1 quart buttermilk
2 T hot chili sauce (Sriracha)

Peanut oil
6 sprigs fresh thyme
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 bunch fresh sage
6 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

Prepare the brine solution by combining all ingredients and stirring well in a large heavy pot; bring to a boil for 5 minutes, then cool completely. In a large bowl or container, cover the chicken entirely with the cooled brine solution. Refrigerate, covered, for 4 to 8 hours. Rinse and pat dry. Cut into eight pieces and season with salt and pepper.

In a large shallow platter, mix the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and cayenne until well blended and then season with pepper. In another platter, combine the buttermilk and hot sauce with a small whisk.

Drain the chicken and pat it dry. Dredge the pieces, a few at a time, in the flour mixture, then dip them into the buttermilk; dredge them again in the seasoned flour. Set aside and let the chicken rest while you prepare the oil. If possible, let stand 1 hour on parchement paper.

Add about 3 inches of peanut oil to a large deep heavy pot. Add the thyme, rosemary, sage, and garlic to the cool oil and heat over medium-high heat until the oil registers 340 to 350 F. The herbs and garlic will perfume the oil with their flavor as the oil comes up to temperature. Skim the fried herbs out of the oil and set aside. Remove garlic and discard. Do not allow the garlic to burn.

Working in batches, carefully add the chicken pieces 3 or 4 at a time. Fry, turning the pieces once, until golden brown and cooked through, about 12 minutes for dark meat and 8 minutes for breasts. When the chicken is done, remove from pan and allow to drain on paper towels. Season some with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces. When serving scatter the reserved fried herbs over the top. Serve hot or room temperature.

Serve with mashed potatoes (see Smashed Potatoes post) and green beans with finely diced garlic.