Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Penne Arriabbiati

A classic Italian entree is tonight's dinner .... I have seen at least a few different spellings of this dish so if you, dear reader, have a more correct version, please inform and I will update this blog.

One of the great things about this dish is how easy it is --- and, how GOOD it is. As always, I make it HOT .... but I will temper my recipe for those of you who prefer your dishes mild ....

I fix this a lot ... because it is SO GOOD ... and so easy ... and fun to fix ...

I need to mention that I eyeball a lot of proportions, so the ingredient list consists of estimated amounts .... and I know those will work fine ... but you know, when you start cooking, if it's in your blood, you'll improvise and begin to work by feel rather than measurement ....


-2.5-3 cups (approx) penne pasta
-olive oil
-1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
-several dashes of sea salt (really, keep this around .... fuck granulated salt for most types of cooking)
-LOTS of crushed red pepper (moderates can do 1.5-2 Tbsp)
-LOTS of minced garlic (I used 4 cloves, you can bust this down to 2 if you need to)
-Chopped oregano (you know fresh is best, MF ... but if all you have is the stuff in the cabinet, it will do).
-Chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
-Paremesan cheese (get the block and shred it, man ... don't get that fucking awful stuff in the green shaker .... )
-1 large bottle red wine

Open wine, pour glass, put on music ... repeat as needed while cooking ...

Now, we're ready to get started ....

-In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup olive oil.
-In a medium pan, heat water on medium heat to boil penne. Toss in a dash of salt.
-Chop 2-4 cloves garlic (temper to taste)
-When oil is at medium heat, add garlic and crushed red pepper. Let saute for 5-7 minutes, until fragrant.
-Add crushed tomatoes, oregano and a dash of salt. Mix well, and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally if needed.
-As soon as water for penne boils, put in pasta.
-When tomato/garlic mix boils, reduce heat slightly and simmer about 10 minutes.
-When pasta is done, drain and reserve 1/3 cup of the boiled water. Add pasta to tomato/garlic mix, tossing to coat well. Then, add parsley, remaining water, and 1-2 Tbsp olive oil. Mix well and let simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Refill wine glass. Spoon pasta and sauce into bowl. Grate parmesan cheese on top, and serve with bread, because if you adhered to the higher proportion amounts in this recipe, it will be HOT.

Enjoy this great, simple dish. So often some of the best things in life are simple, yes?

TONIGHT'S MUSIC: Led Zeppelin's Presence and Tilly and the Wall's Wild Like Children.

TECH TIP: a lot of us know that when a Windows PC experiences a program crash or gets hung up on a task, we can press 'ctrl-alt-delete' on the keyboard and invoke the Task Manager, enabling us to see what programs are running and which are not responding, and giving us the option to end tasks that are unresponsive. However, how do you do it on a Mac?


The 'Apple' key is also referred to as the Command key. Both of these tricks are very useful to users of both Apple and Microsoft operating systems, because if you can simply end a task or force a program to quit, it saves you from having to re-boot.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Spicy Flank Steak With Shrimp

This is one of mine, and it's pretty simple. Once again we are using beef, which is not something I eat all that often, but it's a good recipe, and it's summertime, and we are doing it.

The recipe has plenty of room for improvisation, though I can tell you that as written, it produces one hell of a good meal.

I am not a large portion eater, so my recipes on this blog are pretty reasonable. Further, I write this for solo eaters. But, if you feel this meal needs something else, a piece of nice bread with butter or spreadable cheese, or a simple salad with a creamy dressing, will do nicely.


- 1 Flank Steak (choose your size, although no matter what you'll have some leftover, unless you are REALLY F-ING hungry). Let steak warm to room temp (or close to it) before cooking.
- Baroody Turkish Red Pepper Hot Sauce*
- 1/4 lbs. fresh shrimp, regular size (not jumbo, unless again, you are REALLY F-ING hungry).
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced.
- 3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
- Several dashes crushed red pepper
- Sea Salt and Black Pepper
- 1/4 cup Ketchup
- Juice from 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 Tbsp. prepared horseradish
- 1 large bottle red wine.

Pour yourself a glass of wine. Put some music on. Repeat as necessary while cooking.

* you can find this at world food markets, and surely at some whole foods stores and supermarkets with kick-ass world cuisine sections. You can also use Spicy Black Bean sauce, or other similar things, but this recipe REALLY works well with Baroody.

1. Mince garlic. Place flank steak in large pan to marinade, then spoon 3-4 moderate spoonfuls of Baroody onto it. Use your hands (yes, your hands -- good cooking involves getting messy sometimes) to massage the sauce into steak on all sides.
2. Sprinkle 3/4 of the minced garlic on the top of the steak, lightly rubbing it in. Sprinkle 2-3 dashes of crushed red pepper onto the top of the steak, as well as a few dashes of sea salt an black pepper. Let sit at room temperature for 20-25 minutes.
3. Prepare shrimp, peeling and de-veining if necessary. Set in fridge to keep cool for now.
4. Pour ketchup into small bowl or ramekin, adding lemon juice and horsey. Stir until mixed well, and place in fridge to keep cool.
5. Put oven (or convection oven or broiler) on broil to heat, placing rack near top heating element. Place a pan to catch drippings on lower rack.
6. In a skillet or wok, pour in olive oil and remaining minced garlic. Heat to medium heat, and get the shrimp out of the fridge.
7. Place steak in oven, directly on rack. Check for doneness every 5 minutes. Depending on your taste, it will be done sooner or later. I like it medium-rare, and that usually takes broiling for 12-15 minutes in my small convection oven. After around 7 minutes, I take it out and make a small cut in the middle to see how done it is .... gauge from there how done you want it. For medium-rare, 7-8 more minutes should do it ....

... don't be lame here ... a well-done steak often becomes a wasted steak ... pinkness means tenderness ... I am just saying ...

8. As your spicy flank steak cooks, place shrimp in skillet and saute in heated olive oil and garlic until done.
9. Take steak out of oven, let sit for five minutes on cutting board.
10. Turn off the burner for the shrimp when done, which should be about now.

Slice flank steak with a sharp, worthy knife into 1/8-1/4 inch slices ... place on heated plate with shrimp, and get your cocktail sauce out of the fridge, setting it on the plate. Pour another glass of wine, and enjoy the steak. If you made it right, meaning HOT, the shrimp and cocktail sauce will temper the heat of the steak ....

... finish off with a few pieces of chocolate after digesting your dinner for 30 minutes or so ...

Tech Tip: if you live alone, turning up the stereo is not a problem. And, if you have a spouse or roomie that likes it, it is all good. However, if you have one or more roomates who are sensitive, this could be complicated. Further, when you cook, do you share it? or not? Well, you can solve the music problem with your iPod (or some such) ... put on the earbuds, crank it up, then drink and cook .... yet another practical use for those things. As for the sharing, well, not everyone likes spicy food ...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Thai Red Beef Curry

This is an easy one, and I can't even take credit for the recipe -- it is from Williams-Sonoma.

I have re-printed the recipe list below, but will give you my own blow-by-blow. I have adjusted the ingredient amounts for one person, even though you'll make plenty for leftovers, if you are inclined to have them .... otherwise, throw them out or give them to a friend, because if you give them to the dog, he/she will not have a good digestion experience.

Further, you can always substitute chicken, shrimp or tofu for beef.

I make this hot .... so, temper the curry powder to your particular taste. Further, please, use a wooden spoon to saute.

You need:

1.5 (approx) lb. lean stewing beef, such as chuck or round, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
1/2 tsp. salt (to taste)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper (to taste)
1.5 Tbs. canola oil
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup Thai red curry paste
1 cans (each 13 1/2 fl. oz.) unsweetened coconut milk
1 Tbs. Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce
1 Tbs. fresh lime juice
1 Tbs. firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cans (each 8 oz.) sliced bamboo shoots, drained
1 cup jasmine rice
parsley to garnish

vodka, cranberry juice and a lime wedge

First, place a few ice cubes in a tall glass, add two shots of vodka, cranberry juice to taste, and squeeze the juice from a lime wedge into the drink before dropping it in. Stir, begin to drink as you work ...

Next .... put some music on ....
let me add re: the curry paste here: if possible, get something from an asian food store ... the stuff at the supermarket that is made state-side is just to the left of weak. Unless that how you like your curry, get the real deal imported from Thailand, et al.

Now, let's get to work ...

Salt and pepper the beef, tossing to coat in a bowl. Reserve for the moment. Next, chop the garlic and onion. Pla
ce a large pan or skillet on the stove, add the canola oil, and heat to medium. Put the beef into the skillet, browning on all sides (approx. 5-10 minutes). Remove from skillet and place in a bowl.

In a small pan, add 1 cup jasmine rice and two cups water. Turn up heat to medium and cover.

Next, add the garlic and onion to skillet, maintaining medium heat and saute for 1-2 minutes. Add curry paste, and make sure it coats the onion and garlic nicely (30 seconds or so). Add coconut milk and de-glaze skillet, scraping onion, garlic and curry powder from the sides of the skillet. Add brown sugar, lime juice and fish, stirring each ingredient in. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer.

Your rice ought to be boiling by now ... reduce heat to minimum and keep covered.

Add beef to skillet mixture and simmer for 15-20 minutes, covered. Then, add bamboo shoots, and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, for another 5-10 minutes, or until the shoots are tender.

At this point, your rice should be done. Place in a bowl, and spoon curry mixture on top of it. Garnish with chopped parsley. I used Italian flat-leaf, but hey, do your own thing here ....

.... your drink should be empty by now too ... make another, and enjoy with your Thai Red Beef Curry. Bread makes a nice side dish. Some people like yogurt.

Tech note: I used my iPod Touch via WiFi as a recipe book for this, which was nice because it takes up so little space. I simply opened the Williams-Sonoma recipe page and glanced at it periodically to make sure I wasn't forgetting anything.