Monday, March 28, 2011

Love Me, Love My Dog ....

I've recently finished a week of hard labour in the coffee mines - my youngest who ownes the coffee shop was away for a week and mother got to play Barista, rearrange things and in general have fun. My day started with a 5 a.m. alarm followed by tea, a groggy push the dog out the door to pee ( he promptly came back in and returned to bed!) and then bright and cheery at the shop by 6:30 a.m. to open the doors by 7 a.m.
ROASTED is downtown Tucson - not a bustling metropolis at the best of times but eerily quiet at 6:30 a.m.  There was one daily vignette that delighted me but also made me scratch my head and wonder at the nature of relationships.
At the same time that I unlocked the doors each morning, a pick-up truck pulled up to the curb, a middle-aged woman hopped out of the driver's side and the male slid over behind the wheel. They didn't exchange a word. The woman came around to the passenger window where a large black and white dog stuck his head out. "Bye bye my baby, kissy kissy mommy, you be a good boy, mommy loves you, huggy, huggy, you have a lovely day mommy will miss you, mommy will make you a nice dinner, kissy kissy kissy" - That's the abbreviated version of the exchange between woman and dog! Not a glance, not a gesture, not a word between the man and woman. Makes you wonder.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Monday evening in a casual phone call my son, asked "what are we doing for St. Patrick's Day". He does hold dual Irish and US citizenship as do I but we have never celebrated St. P day - just don't come from the shamrock waving genetic pool.

Fearful of tarnishing my Mother Badge I agreed to make corned beef and cabbage. A small family dinner escalated and presto - I'm cooking for thirteen.

My daughter announced she had a corned beef brisket in her freezer and "no idea" how to cook it so that  is to be  delivered to my house. Since the oven  will be on I'm going for broke and have bought two more briskets. I've cooked at the most corned beef three times in the past but I figured using the same method I use for a regular brisket won't hurt. Couldn't be more simple - pop the briskets into oven proof baking dishes, pour in a can of Guinness or other dark beer, cover tightly with foil and cook at 350F for two hours, lower heat to 300F and let cook an additional four hours. Last time I did this there were no much anticipated leftovers. If lucky enough to have left overs check out - wrapped and pressed corned beef for sandwiches later in the week.

Potatoes - the lifeline (literally) of the Irish peasant for decades will get two treatments. Tiny marble- sized new ones are to be steamed then tossed with olive oil, sea salt and freshly chopped Italian parsley. The red ones I'll  boiled and turned into Colcannon - sinful but a once a decade treat!

Reprise  of the evening will be  the cabbage that elicits  cries of "more" from even card-carrying disparagers of that humble vegetable. I cook it two ways. Both involve shredding the cabbage (use the shredding blade on a food processor or a very sharp knife). First is a method I've used for years - pile the lovely shreds of cabbage into a steamer, sprinkle with a little freshly ground nutmeg, black pepper and a sprinkle of sugar. Steam just a few minutes until crisp but nowhere near soggy. Toss to blend the flavors. Second method which was definitely a pinch-hitting 'gees the steamer is full what do I do with the rest of this cabbage' inspiration was the all time hit first and every subsequent time I've made it.

Sauteed Spring Cabbage with Pancetta
For six

1/2 head of firm, young cabbage shredded - you'll have about 8 cups
2 ozs (four slices) of Pancetta
2 TBS Olive oil
Coarsely ground black pepper
Sea salt
1 Cup dry white wine
Large, deep saute pan with a lid

Warm the olive oil in the saute pan, add pancetta and cook until lightly crisped. Keep it moving so that it doesn't burn or stick to the pan.
Add the cabbage to the pan, toss to coat with the oil and pancetta. Add the wine. Put the lid on and cook about three minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. Take the lid off - stir, bring to a rapid boil and reduce the wine by 1/2 or more - will take about 2 minutes, season with the salt and pepper. Do not over cook. Serve and watch them ask for more!
You can substitute bacon but I'd be careful of over-salting. Consensus at my house is "best cabbage ever", and "this will be great with grilled sausage".

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