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pennoni dressed with cold-pressed olive oil, parmigiano reggiano, and traditional gremolata

pennoni dressed with cold-pressed olive oil, parmigiano reggiano, and traditional gremolata

Boiling yourself some pasta on a weeknight is hardly a new idea, and certainly not some gourmet shit. However, its also one of those go-to meal ideas that can easily be brought up from depressing to delicious with a few simple steps. Good pasta, with a few adornments, doesn’t always need sauce (delicious though some tomato sauces may be).
 

WORTH IT:

  • Cold-pressed olive oil, which preserves the fruity and grassy flavors of the olives. Used for dipping, dressings, and finishing, never for frying chicken breasts.
  • Real parmigiano reggiano, not the shit in a green can, and not the cheap store-brand imitation. Look for the dimpled, capitalized lettering on the rind that spells out “parmigiano reggiano.” The flavor is nutty, creamy, salty, and slightly sharp. Eat it on your pasta. Eat it on some bread. Eat it with cured meats. Eat it with a fork.
  • Imported dried pasta or freshly-made noodles may seem unreasonably expensive compared to a box of Barilla, but when your goal is to appreciate the subtle nuances of wholesome, traditional ingredients, the same goes for your pasta as well.

But remember: sometimes there’s just no replacing Annie’s mac and cheese. Or Kraft, I guess, if you’re a total sucker.

~~~~~

Gremolata is designed specifically to be added to a dish right before eating, often times to liven the flavor of long-cooking roasts of meat. However, the bright, pungent, acidic hit is fantastic over pasta. The traditional recipe goes as follows:

  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
  • Handful of parsley (flat-leaf, if possible), minced
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Squeeze of juice from lemon, just to bring the mixture together

Simply mix and sprinkle over whatever needs a punch of flavor. In addition to pasta, try it over bread with some of that wonderful cheese and cured meat, or on some roasted vegetables after they’ve come out of the oven. The basic formula of aromatic (garlic, or even onion) + herb (parsley) + citrus  (lemon, zest and juice) is incredibly flexible. Here’s my short list (which I’ve tried and love):

  • garlic + thyme + lemon + orange on roasted chicken (especially good with some dark meat and a piece of crispy skin)
  • garlic + red onion + cilantro + lime on avocado slices with toasted bread
  • garlic + onion + parsley + lemon on ripe tomato slices = deconstructed bruschetta (also good on bread)

I’m bound to get all weird with this concept, so I’m sure I’ll have more ideas sometime soon. Something Asian, perhaps? That sounds like it could be promising…

– Max.

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So here’s the deal: in part being the obsessive planner I am, with a splash of those holiday feelings of love and goodwill towards others, I decided to host 20 people at my house for a “Friendsgiving.”   For those who do not know, a “Friendsgiving” is that special time of year where everything that is done on real Thanksgiving, mainly the excessive consumption of brown/orange colored food, occurs minus the family drama and the something-always-goes-wrong traveling.  But  for what “Friendsgiving” lacks it certainly makes up for in lots, and I mean lots, of drinking.  That, and perhaps a beautiful neighbor boy scrubbing up some dishes in nothing but his skivvies…though that story is for another time.

fast-motion turkey

As the host I decided that it was my duty to make the turkey.  That’s right, a young 20-something professional with a terrible stove and pretty janky kitchen in general decided that she would join the ranks of her foremothers and fathers (yes I can be PG) and make herself a mother f-ing turkey.  The challenge is on!

This entire process was purely experimental in that I took my mother’s turkey recipe and added a few ingredients to make it my own.  As you will notice in the pictures, which were taken by my lovely friend and neighbor Ani who’s delicious brunch I wrote about back in August, I did it all.  I pulled out the gizzard, cute off the excessive skin around the turkey’s bottom, washed the cavity, slit the skin so that the seasoning can go in, and all the other carnage aspects of cooking a turkey all by my gosh darn self.

pulling out that ole gizzard

And now for the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 turkey (Mine was 14.5 pounds and NOT frozen.  If you use a frozen turkey be sure to account for de-thawing time that can take up to a week).
  • One roaster pan (I used a disposable one)
  • One V-Rack.
  • Meat thermometer.
  • Turkey baster.
  • 2 chopped apples (I chose to use honey crisp)
  • 2 chopped peeled oranges
  • 2 chopped pears
  • 2 cups paprika
  • 2 cups dried minced onion
  • 2 cups minced garlic
  • 1 cup Old Bay seasoning
  • 2 chopped celery stalks
  • 2 cups fresh sage (not chopped)
  • 2 cups fresh rosemary (not chopped)
  • 2 cups fresh thyme (not chopped)
  • 2 cups fresh oregano (not chopped)
  • 1 cup fresh basil (not chopped)

fruitful bounty

Procedure – Prepping the Turkey:

  1. Turn your oven on to 450 degrees to really heat it up.
  2. Throw on a pair of clean rubber gloves that you will never use ever again.
  3. Remove the turkey from its bag in your sink.  Trust me with this, there will be a good amount of blood and/or other enjoyable liquids along side your turkey.
  4. While the turkey is in the sink, stick you hand in the hole between its legs (yes, the turkey’s anus) and pull out the gizzard.  GROW A PAIR AND DO IT!
    1. You can save the gizzard to cook other things like soups and gravy, but I threw it out.  It was just that gross.
  5. Rinse off the turkey skin (but do NOT remove it) and empty cavity with water.
  6. Cut off the excessive skin around the turkey’s neck and butt hole.
  7. Put your turkey right side up (meaning the breast is facing up, on a clean/covered surface.  I used aluminum foil on my kitchen counter.

just cut it right on off

Procedure – Seasoning the Turkey:

  1. Take a deep breath because the gross part is over.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the paprika, dried minced onion, minced garlic, and old bay.
  3. Slowly add water to the mixture so that it becomes “muddy” and easy to slather.  I had to mix in water a few times throughout the slathering process.
  4. Cut some slits between the turkey skin and the turkey meat.  I did this anroung the wings, legs, and on the breast
  5. Slather, and I really mean slather, on some of the muddy seasoning mixture under the skin.  The amount used is based of your taste and preference.  Personally, I used about half of the mixture.
  6. Take the rest of the mixture and slather it onto of the turkey’s skin.  Really get it on there.
  7. If you have any of the mixture left, slather the rest inside the turkey’s cavity.
  8. Time to stuff!  Stuff as much of the fruit, celery and fresh herbs inside the cavity of the turkey.  Make sure that you get at least some of every type of fruit and herb in there.

good and slathered

Procedure – The Tale of the Turkey and the Oven

  1. Put the rest of the fruit in the roaster pan.
  2. Place the v-rack inside the roaster pan on top of the fruit.
  3. Carefully pick up your turkey and place it upside down (breast side down) on the v rack.
  4. Put the rest of the fresh herbs around the turkey and in any nooks and crannies you can find.
  5. Put the meat thermometer deep into the thigh of the turkey facing towards the breast.  Make sure that it does not touch any bone.
  6. Cover the turkey with tin foil.
  7. Set the oven down to 350 degrees.
  8. Place the turkey in the oven and set your timer for 3 hours.
  9. After three hours, carefully lift up the cover and use the turkey baster to take the juices developing on the bottom of the roaster pan and squeeze them on top of the turkey.  Do this hourly after those first three hours.
  10. In order to cook a turkey, the temperature of the meat thermometer needs to reach 180 degrees.  Depending on your stove, size of bird, etc. this cooking can take 5 hours or, like mine, take 8 hours.  Cooking a turkey is a project so just make sure you leave enough time for the bird to cook!

this is why we throw out the rubber gloves

Overall, the “Friendsgiving” was a phenomenal success and all guests left intoxicated and with full bellies!

– Lauren

Yes, I love my farmer’s market and blah, blah, blah. I’ve waxed poetic about farm-fresh goods incongruously found between tall slabs of concrete and steel. You’ve read it before, so I won’t do it again. This time around, I found bright and fragrant (read: cheap) bell peppers running the whole spectrum from green to yellow to red, so I picked up a few brightly-colored bells, as well as some fresh garlic, and asked myself: “What would a Frenchman do?”

The sauce known as rouille (“roo-EEEE!”), from the Provence region in southeastern coastal France, comes various forms, but this time out, I tried a spicy roasted red bell pepper number. Red pepper recipes sometimes include an egg or egg yolk, but I opted to leave it out, mostly because I didn’t have any eggs on hand and did not want to walk the monumental 3 blocks to the closest D’agostino. COOKING IS A LOT OF WORK. FUCK WALKING.

What’s great about this recipe is that there is only one thing to cook: the peppers. However, the process may look a bit crazy at first. The only way to get the charred, caramelized flavor out of bell peppers is to essentially burn them and then remove the burned skin. This can easily be attained on a grill, but such luxuries are beyond most city-dwellers. Oven broilers can work, but I instead just put the peppers directly to the fire on my gas range.

1.5 minutes on the flame, starting to color.

The process actually makes a lot of sense, as it allows the peppers to cook quickly, and they are easily manipulated with a pair of tongs. NOTE: DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS WITHOUT A PAIR OF TONGS. IF YOU DO, YOU WILL IMMEDIATELY BE A DUMBASS. Not too much will happen for the first minute or so, but just keep rotating the pepper every 15 seconds or so.

2.5 minutes, and the color is coming though.

The actual burning will start to appear relatively quickly after 2 minutes, and the flesh will begin to soften as well. Be gentle while you turn the pepper, as you do not want to pierce the flesh and spill hot pepper moisture all over your stove. That would make a big, fat mess.

4 minutes in, almost done.

It will take less than 5 minutes to brulée the shit out of your bells, but at the same time, don’t be afraid to burn those suckers! The peppers will sizzle and pop and your kitchen will smell like burned sugar. Enjoy it!

Pepper #2, looking all kinds of black and gold.

Once the peppers come off of the heat, they need to go directly into a closed container to steam. I put mine into a large bowl covered with a plate and left it there for about 10 minutes. During that time, the pepper will essentially keep cooking, and the built-up steam will soften the flesh and loosen the burned skin. It’s better to leave them steaming for too long than to rush the process, so don’t be in a hurry. When the peppers feel soft and are cool enough to handle, grab a couple of paper towels and just rub the charred skin off. It will come away easily, although it will be sticky, hence the disposable towels. No need to be perfect, but just remove as much of the burn as possible. And again, enjoy that lovely burned-sweet smell.

Just rub one out? Yeah, just like that.

Peppers getting naked. Do we need a cenor bar or something?

After the peppers are skinned (ew?), the seeds and stems need to be removed. There will be some accumulated liquid inside of the peppers, so pierce them over the sink / garbage to let them drain before taking off the tops and scooping out the seedy inner membrane. After that, cut / tear into strips and put the peppers into your food processor, in the small bowl attachment if you have it. Smash a few cloves of garlic, juice a lemon, measure some crushed pepper flakes, and add to the bowl as well. Season and spin.

Aroused nipple Cuisinart blade? Sure.

How could this not be delicious?

Process for a minute or so, and then scrape down the sides of the bowl. Run the processor again, and drizzle in 1/4 cup of olive oil. Adjust the seasoning and crushed pepper flakes if you like, and cool in the fridge for a few hours. The finished rouille is sweet from the roasted peppers, hot from the garlic and crushed pepper flake, and all kinds of delicious. Eat it on toasted bread with charcuterie and cheese or in a sandwich or in a wrap (instead of jarred roasted red pepper strips).

Ingredients

  • 2 large bell peppers, any color but green (red is traditional)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flake, or more if desired
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Kosher sale
  • Freshly-ground black pepper

Procedure

  1. Roast the bell peppers over an open gas flame (or under the oven broiler on high heat) for 4 – 5 minutes, turning frequently with metal tongs. Once charred, place in an enclosed container to steam for 10 minutes.
  2. Skin the charred peppers by rubbing the now-soft peppers with paper towels. Pierce the flesh and allow the excess liquid to drain from the inside of the peppers.
  3. Remove the seeds, inner membrane, and stem from each pepper, and tear or slice into large pieces.
  4. Process the peppers, garlic, lemon juice crushed pepper flake, salt and pepper in the food processor for one minute. Scrape down the bowl.
  5. Drizzle olive oil into mixture with food processor running.
  6. Cool in refrigerator for a few hours until slightly thickened.
EAT YOUR FACE OFF.

Tart honeycrisp apple, creamy and sharp aged gouda, toasted bread with rouille

 
– Max.  
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