Looking north from Fire Island

Looking north from Fire Island
Continuing the cooking articles I write every summer

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sardine Melt

This is a variation of the Patty Melt. Open a can of good sardines, drain the oil, better yet feed it to the cat or dog. Hard boil 2 eggs: Set the eggs in a pot of cold water. Bring to a boil, Remove from the fire and let the eggs sit ion the water for nine minutes, Peel the eggs under running water, and break up the eggs and sardines. Add a few TB finely minced onion, and parsley, 1/2 tsp capers, salt, pepper, 1/2 tsp sugar, and something spicy like minced kimchi to taste, or red pepper flakes. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon, or lime. Check seasoning.

Spread fish mixture on top of a slice of whole grain bread, top with slices of sharp cheddar cheese, broil until the cheese melts, and starts to brown.

Sure you can do it with tuna, but the sardines just taste better.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Valentine's Day you can afford

It's like the economy, or whatever you call it, sucks. Prices are over the top, and the little money you have hides from you, buys nothing. As if things were not bad enough, here comes that dreadful day which will somehow test your love for your sweetie. As a restaurateur, I would spend hours listening to (mostly men) begging me for a table for two on that special night. Not only a table, but also the one near the fireplace, (which, by the way was fake. We used Sterno) As though this one table on that one night was the key to their romantic salvation. We even had several proposals of marriage happen at the remote, small table by the window.

Let me be frank here. Imagine a crowded restaurant, the 130 degree kitchen is shooting food out like a machine gun, sweat pouring from shouting cooks who are trying to produce dinners at the speed of light, waiters all calling for their orders at once, a nervous maitre d’ looking at his watch to turn tables to be ready for the next wave of hungry romantics, but the first seating couples are determined to remain and play koochie-coo, and why shouldn't they. In a word it was bedlam. Now ask yourself, is this the right place to share that special intimacy that both of you deserve?

No restaurant can be all the romantic things you hope for on that particular evening. However, there are alternatives. You can decide to celebrate on the day before, or after the big day. Intelligent, practical couples do that. Or, you can cook something at home. I’ll tell you how. It will be delicious, and you will have done it yourself. How’s that for a Valentine dinner?

Le menu:
Green Salad, Sauteed club steak, red wine, special dessert, baked potato, French bread

Order some flowers, light candles, dim the lights and put a cloth on the table. Make the table pretty.

Buy a very extravagant dessert with the money you’ve saved. Place it on serving dishes. Set aside.

Buy a bottle of smooth red wine, spend at least 15 dollars. Open the wine ten minutes before serving.

Buy two club steaks, trimmed.

Scrub the potatoes, puncture the skin in several places, bake them in foil, or nuke them for five minutes on high, no foil.

In your salad bowl, pour one ounce of lemon juice, 3 oz EVOO. Mix well, and add the lettuce. Get a head of Boston Lettuce, tear the leaves and set them in the bowl. When you are ready to serve the salad, you can toss the greens to cover the leaves with dressing. Sprinkle some coarse salt and pepper on the leaves.

Buy a thin baguette of French bread, and partially slice the bread.

Make scratches on the surface of the meat, rub in some crushed fresh garlic, salt, pepper, soy sauce, and olive oil. Allow to sit for half an hour at room temperature.

Get some nice music on the hi-fi. Dim the lights. Heat up a heavy skillet. Add a few teaspoons of oil to the pan, and place the steaks in the pan. Cook one side for three minutes, then turn the meat to do the other side. Test for doneness. Remove the meat from the pan and let it sit on a warm plate. At least 8 minutes.

Catch the juices from the meat, replace them into the pan. Add a jigger of brandy or wine, a teaspoon of mustard, and 2 oz. cream. Mix very well, and pour over the steaks.

Pour the wine, and eat.