Friday, October 29, 2010

Finally! Rutbuster!

It was bad, y'all. New recipes, none of them fantastic. Then not even any new recipes that I wanted to try.

Oddly enough, life went on. And by "went on" I mean that Mr. Stinkycheese has been working his !@#$ off and I started re-caulking the windows and - wait - this scraper is not supposed to go straight through wood. Nor is wood supposed to splinter and crumble like foam.

This can't be good.

For some reason I expected Mr. Stinkycheese to know what to do, even though he's a first-time homeowner as well. "Your dad has rehabbed a lot of old houses. Should we call him?" I said. "I know what he'd do" replied Sweetie. "He'd have someone who knows what they're doing come out and fix it."

What a GREAT idea! Ever mindful of the time, I quickly changed clothes, consulted the computer, and high-tailed it to Chef Nancy's baby shower. Whew, that was a close one!

The window frame is being fixed (and caulked, might I add) and I even found a recipe to celebrate with. It would never have occurred to me to serve tuna with cannellini, but it rocked. Asparagus was the perfect side dish.

If you're also looking for new ideas - and not at the expense of your Nostinkycheese perusal - I highly recommend Tell them Stephanie sent you.

Pan-Seared Orange Tuna with White Beans

2 tablespoons grated orange zest (I didn't have any, it was fine)
2 tablespoons firmly-packed brown sugar (too much! I'm going with 1 TBSP next time)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons ground mustard
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons finely minced fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons coarsely ground pepper

4 (4 to 6-ounce) 1-inch thick sushi quality tuna steaks
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice (I didn't have oranges, so Tropicana it was)
1 tablespoon Champagne or white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups cooked white beans (right out of the can and rinsed, as far as I'm concerned)
1/4 cup shredded fresh basil leaves

In a small bowl, combine the orange zest, brown sugar, garlic, mustard, cumin, basil, salt and pepper. Reserve 1 tablespoon of this mixture for seasoning the white beans. Rub the remaining mix on the tuna steaks, coating them well.

In a heavy bottomed sauté pan warm the olive oil. Increase the heat to high and place the tuna in the pan. Sear for 1 minute, then turn over carefully, reducing the heat to medium. Sear the other side for 1 more minute until medium rare. Remove from heat.

In a large saucepan whisk the orange juice, vinegar, and reserved spices. Bring to a simmer. Add the white beans and basil, tossing well until hot.

Place the beans on a large platter or individual serving plates; drizzle with olive oil. Place tuna steak over the beans and serve. Makes 4 servings.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Take More - Here, Take It All.

Years ago, when I was traveling non-stop for a Large Corporation, I would land back in Atlanta on Friday nights and leave again that Sunday. So really, I had 36 hours to wash clothes, pay bills, and call my mother before I left town again.

Since there was no point in grocery shopping - how weird it feels to write that! - I used to call my favorite Chinese restaurant when I was driving home from the airport. It got to the point that I could call to place my order and say "Hi! It's me. The usual. Twenty minutes."

There's a lot to be said for getting to know the owner of a great restaurant. She has told us about her childhood in China, her loser son who seemed to think he needed to move to New York, her son's girlfriend That Girl, etc.

One night Sweetie met some friends there - I was sick and whiny and snarfle-y and stayed home - and the owner pounced immediately, demanding to know why Sweetie was in female company (said female's husband was also at the table, but whatever. I appreciate the assist from the sisterhood.).

When she found out I was sick she packaged up a giant container of my beloved hot & sour soup, the panacea for whatever could possibly be wrong.

This is a good approximation that's terrific for fighting a cold, or just enjoying as a first course.

Hot & Sour Soup
3 oz. boneless pork, cut in strips (or use cooked chicken, or skip the meat entirely)
2 oz. bean thread noodle (replace with rice for a more filling meal)
2 small eggs
1 quart chicken stock
A few twists of the pepper grinder - this is where the "hot" comes in
2 TBSP scallions, chopped
3/4 oz. dried black mushrooms (I use fresh shiitake or oyster and saute them a minute)
8 oz. tofu, cut small (optional)
2 tsp. sesame oil
3 TBSP rice wine vinegar - this is the "sour" of the soup
2 TBSP soy sauce (low-sodium is fine)

Blanch pork in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain and set aside. Soak mushrooms in warm water (different warm water) for 20 minutes, drain, remove stems, and cut caps into thin strips. Soak bean thread noodles in warm water (yet a different batch of warm water) 4 - 5 minutes.

Whisk egg with 1 tsp sesame oil in a small dish.

Bring chicken stock to a boil. Add pork, mushrooms, bean thread, tofu, vinegar, pepper, and soy sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes.

SLOWLY pour egg mixture into soup, through a fork, to get strands. Add scallions and 1 tsp sesame oil. Stir and serve.