This week I made pizza on Saturday. Still on my quest for the best crust, I tried Bobby Flay's and grilled the pizzas. A little too chewy, although that might be my fault because I didn't have enough regular flour and had to use almost half whole wheat. The star of the meal was the tangerine and toasted almond arugula salad from the A16 cookbook. Such a good salad. I don't know why, but I always like to follow recipes for salads, they always taste better. You want a really good salad? Look up the Avocado Fattoush that was in the New York Times a couple weeks ago. Best salad ever.
Sunday I made two meals, a Mexican Chicken Soup with Green Garlic (New York Times food section last week, David Tanis) that was for Monday night (a very good chicken soup by the way) and a fennel marinated roast pork which was for Sunday night with leftovers rolling into the rest of the week in various forms. This is the pork roast after it marinated overnight and I tied it off:
It roasted for 4 hours at 325 and halfway through I threw in some yukon golds and fennel quarters which turned into a puree to go with the pork. It was deliciuos - really fennelly, which I love. Monday night we had the chicken soup, then last night more slices of roast pork with the remaining fennel mash and I made a side of sauteed chard with olives and lemon. Tonight I'm turning the remaining pork into Cubanos - slices of bread with pork, ham, mustard, pickled red onions and melted cheese. There should be enough pork left to turn into tacos or tostadas tomorrow night, with the remaining chard and olives stuffed inside as well. Get it all done on Sunday and you are set for the week!
This is the house on Sunday evening, the weekend winding down. I was just about to grill some chicken kebabs that had been marinating all day and make the Avocado Fatoush recipe that was in Wednesday's NYT. The fatoush was delicious. I love salads with flatbread mixed in. There is a delicious one in the Zuni Cafe cookbook that is also good, with cracker bread, cucumbers, mint and feta that I was making a lot last summer.
After a few failed attempts over the years, about a year ago I tried to make my own pizza from scratch and it turned out beautifully. I used Mark Bittman's dough recipe "How to Cook Everything" and was happy with it for many pizzas, but now I am thinking it is a little bland and flavorless and lacking in texture. So I am testing out others. Patricia Well's dough from her "Trattoria" cookbook was an improvement, it worked very well for a salami, olive and mushroom pizza the weekend before last. My friend Holly suggested I try the A16 recipe, and I have that cookbook, so I'll try it next. Here are some of the pizzas I've made in the last year... (The first picture is the Patricia Wells doough, next two are Mark Bittman)
BART, I am finally done with you. For 17 years I have ridden you twice a day, from the days when we lived in the Mission and I would take you between 24th and Embarcadero, to our move to Oakland when I would faithfully commute from MacArthur to Montgomery and back, 5 days a week, year in and year out. I always defended you faithfully. For the most part you have always been reliable, I understand there are going to be days here and there where the system goes down. You can't help it when someone decides to end it all by jumping in front of a train. I understand the strikes are out of your hands, the Union demands are crazy. But in the past couple years it has been all the other stuff that seems to be piling on ever faster.
The broken escalators. Constant broken escalators. I don't mind taking the stairs, in fact I always take the stairs anyway to burn a few extra calories. But during the commute, a broken escalator means EVERYONE is taking the stairs and it is a huge slow moving mess. Escalators used to break down once in a while, now it is a regular occurance. And not just the ones that are outside, exposed to the elements. I'm talking about the ones inside the stations.
Then there are the increasingly frequent "computer system problems." Trains have to single track, the commute is a nightmare. This has happened on a monthly basis (at least) recently. That sinking feeling when you are coming down the stairs into the station during the evening commute and you see that the platform is packed and something is wrong? Used to happen two or three times a year. Now it is two or three times a month.
And finally, the last straw for me is the 8 car trains during the height of the commute. It fucking infuriates me when the platform is packed, with lines in front of every boarding spot, and an 8 car Pittsburg Bay Point train pulls in. Or an 8 car Richmond train. There are never 8 car Fremont trains? I am sure you have done your studies and there is reasoning behind this. I have been studying this evening commute on BART to the East Bay for 14 years. I can assure you that there is absolutely NO REASON to run anything but 10 CAR TRAINS during the commute. The final straw for me was last night when not only did an 8 car train pull in, but it pulled all the way to the front of the platform, leaving TWO CARS worth of passengers stranded at the back end of the platform with no train to board. Usually the 8 car trains stop in the middle, so that it is one car short on each end. Last night it was two cars short on the back end, leading to chaos. Get it together. If you insist on running 8 car trains, at least be consistent with where they stop. Oh, and what about this new thing where the train pulls too far into the station and can't open the doors AT ALL because the front of the train is past the station? I don't think I ever saw that happen until the last couple of years and it has happened at least 5 times since then.
The fares keep going up. The stations and trains are increasingly decrepit. Service issues and interruptions are at an all time high. Last night you lost me for good. Granted, I have been taking the AC transit transbay bus most mornings for the last few weeks, but I was still sticking with you, BART, for the ride home. Not anymore. I am 100% loyal to AC Transit now. The buses are brand new, spotless and comfortable. They are 95% on time. The drivers are freindly. The commute time is just as fast. The trip itself is beautiful. I always have a seat. All this for just 45 cents more.
I tried the buses during the BART strike, but it was a nightmare - but that was no fault of AC Transit. But, the experience did not enamor me to taking the bus. Then about a month ago, I was wathcing the morning news and they said service was shut down on BART. So I took the bus. I guess not enough people had been watching the news, so there was no mass of people at the bus stop like during the strike. I loved that bus ride and have been taking it in the morning ever since. Now I'll be taking it in both directions. It was good while it lasted BART, but we are through.
Saturday night I used this chipotle chili paste with piloncillo (Rick Bayless) that I made a couple weeks ago to make some chili glazed broiled chicken with creamed spinach. Tony took the leftovers on Sunday to his all day film editing session with Claudia and they ate it for lunch. Sunday night I made these delicious pork/portabello burgers from an old NYT recipe I found in my recipe drawer. Take portabello mushrooms, clean out the gills; take ground pork and add garlic, worsteshire, fresh herbs and make patties out of it which fit into the portabello mushrooms. You basically end up with a two-sided burger that is portabello on one side and pork on the other. Grill them pork side down until cooked through then flip and grill the mushroom side (season the mushrooms generously inside and out with olive oil and s/p before adding the pork and grilling). Just serve on buns with whatever toppings you want - so good! I will definitely putting these in heavy rotation. The mushroom flavor seeps into the pork while it is grilling. I made some parsnip fries to go alongside which Tony went crazy for. A very quick and easy dinner that was a huge hit - and there were two extra burgers for Tony to eat on Monday.
That was Sunday evening. Sunday morning I was up and in the kitchen by 7:30 ready to start on brisket with plums and ruby port. I bought a 6.5 pound brisket at Berkeley Bowl ($65.00!!!) and two pounds of plums. Brown the brisket (had to cut it in two pieces to fit i the dutch oven and brown), then sautee three sliced onions, add some other stuff, season, deglaze with Ruby Port and White Wine, then add the halved and pitted plums. Cooks for 5 hours at 300 degrees, turning the brisket every 30 minutes. The plums cook down with the port, wine and onions to make a delicious sauce and the brisket is almost falling apart. Put it in the fridge until Monday when I got home from work, took it out and skimmed the fat, then put it back in the oven for 45 minutes to heat through. Monday night we had it with smashed roasted potatoes (tons of olive oil and lots of salt). Tuesday night I roasted a bunch of root vegetables (carrots, turnips, a couple parsnips, shallots, tossed in olive oil, s/p and then a healthy splash of vermouth).
So tonight (Wednesday) I am turning it into a lasagna. I already have lasagna noodles, a block of mozzarella and some ricotta cheese. Instead of a tomato sauce, I am just going to use the plum/port sauce from the brisket. I am going to puree the leftover root vegetables in the food processer and stir them into the ricotta, then shred up what is left of the brisket. A layer of plum/port sauce on the bottom, a layer of noodles, a layer of roasted vegetable/ricotta cheese sprinkled with shredded mozzarella, another noodle layer, some more sauce and shredded brisket, and keep layering like that. I think it should be delicious and there will probably be enough brisket left that I can turn it into tacos or nachos on Friday night.
The good thing about mapping out the meals like this is the amount of flavor everything develops. So instead of starting a lasagna from scratch, I am using brisket and sauce that has concentrated in flavor over the past three days along with pureed roasted vegetables that have been roasted with vermouth. All the flavors become much more deep and intense.
I think this coming weekend I will not be mapping since I'd like to make a tray of enchiladas suizas and enchilades are something that doesn't map well. They just remain enchiladas. I'll probably make a big casserole full of them on Sunday morning and we'll have them on Monday and Tuesday. I'll make a pot of black beans to go with and Wednesday/Thursday I'll make some quick tacos or tostadas to go with the remaining beans. Saturday I think I'll make bbq chicken (my friend Andrew gave me a jar of homemade candied bacon bbq sauce yesterday) and for Sunday dinner I think a Roast Chicken with the avocado fattoush that was in today's NYT.
I like this mug from Starbucks. Work got it for me for Administrative Professional's Appreciation Day or whatever that is. It has a 70's look that I like. Tony has taken ownership of it though, so I might go back and buy another one so we each have one for our Sunday morning coffee. Then I can put the othe 12 coffee mugs away in the dining room cabinet. I think it is time to rearrange the dishware in the kitchen. Since it is openly displayed, I think it should look better. It needs to be pared down to more of the basics that we use every day and stash some of the other stuff away that we only use occasionally. I want everyting to be just whites, greys and browns.