Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sweet Baby Girl


Our second precious Daughter arrived Monday at 5:55 pm. She is a perfect blessing and as with our first Daughter, we are moved and humbled by the miracle we have been fortunate enough to welcome into our lives.

I remain so grateful for your kind thoughts at this time in our family's life. We'll take a short break here as these days are too short and go by too fast.

Be well,
The Hostess

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cheese in carriage

Sometimes. you just cannot get what you want by any means of looking at a menu and hoping it turns up. I cannot tell you how long that I - a New Yorker raised in a time not long ago when all manner of Italian restaurant proliferated - missed one simple thing about all the shuttered Milanese places that evaporated a decade ago when we healthed-up and stopped all that batter-frying-and saucing: I cannot tell you, but it has been a long, long time. Long before this pregnancy, so it does not owe to some Rao's craving that can never be satisfied.

Mozzarella en carroza: (Feign Brooklyn accent) You know this guy? Eh?

It means "cheese in a carriage" in semi-literal translation. And in digging around for this post, I found a dozen convoluted recipes involving tucking meat and basil and all manner of other beside-the-point inclusions (read as: ill-advised interlopers). I just don't need horse feathers and gobbledygook in my cheese sandwich. Keep it. At this late stage in the game, one week from the due date, I have no patience for absurdities or misdirected refrigerator creativity.

Bread. Stuffed with cheese. Breaded. Fried. Served with sauce. You want to make something of it?

Mozzarella en Carozza
Serves 4

8 - 3" slices of Italian bread
8 - 1/4" slices fresh mozzarella
1 egg
1/4 cup olive oil
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons milk
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
Kosher salt

Accompaniment: Marinara or Lemon Caper Butter Sauce

Slice gently into the center of each slice of bread to create a wide pocket as follows:

Stuff one piece of fresh mozzarella into the pocket of each of the 8 slices of bread. Fold it over and tuck it all the way in if you need to or trim a little off to be sure cheese is, for the most part, completely encased. Repeat with all remaining slices:

In a small bowl, combine the egg and milk. Place the bread crumbs in another small bowl. Dip each stuffed slice of bread into the egg mixture first turning once, then into the bread crumbs turning to coat completely:

Meanwhile, heat the oil over medium heat in a heavy skillet large enough to hold four slices at a time. Fry each slice four minutes on each side or until they have a golden crust on each side and the cheese is melted:

Remove bread to a towel-lined plate and season with salt immediately.

Serve over small spoonfuls of marinara or lemon sauce:

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I lost track of everything

Update: Images inserted, finally...

I can't... oh, I won't... no, no, I don't want to remember this day. I don't know how I will ever forget it though. You know, on this day when Congressional leadership questioned the CEO's of various banks which received 165 BILLION duckets about what became of the money we gave them. It seems the American dream took a hard left at prosperity and dropped off an ugly cliff of greed leaving behind all notion of Doing The Right Thing and We're All On The Same Team. Bonuses for throwing businesses down the toilet. While I hear people saying how sweet a deal that is, in my corporate life I would never have wanted that check: I would not have been able to live with myself. I worked for shareholders who believed in us and a family which built a 4 billion dollar concern from the ground up with their own hands, hearts, and minds. You know, much the same way all the tax dollars these banks stole was amassed in Washington to begin with.

Here at The Hostess, I generally stay out of things, it helps to know ones place. But I acquiesce this once and tell you the above because it is the reason I got a bit befuddled, even discombobulated, and cannot find certain things I need to download photos of this "delightful" - my Mom's word, not mine, so you know I'm not selling you some bridge at Merrill Lynch's corporate headquarters - Country Captain recipe as published recently by the New York Times. They also published photos, gratefully.

I love this recipe for a handful of reasons: Because I lived in Charleston and miss it terribly. Because it is rich, bouncy, and unexpected at the same time it manages not to put you off with unusual ingredients. And it was ready in a flash. Which was great because it gave me time to chase the resident Akita who found yet another way to free himself from the "dog containment system" which is more like an "Akita amusement device." Ah. How do I love this precious rescue dog I found as a baby with his feral pack under the porch of a historic site? How do I adore the way he thanks me for... okay, I digress. He's a good dog but for the running, bounding, and leaping off the property, and he too loved this groovy chicken one dish meal, Country Captain.

In case you are wondering where the saintly Corgi was while all this was happening: Right by the stove, watching the food intently as always...

Country Captain
adapted from this New York Times recipe
Serves 4

Some souls here in Blushingdom do not eat chicken on the bone. I substituted cutlets and, while the thighs the recipe called for would have been more juicy and moist, the cutlets did just fine.

Serve with rice as is the Low Country tradition: I use brown but it's a free country.

Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons butter
4 chicken cutlets, 1/2 pound each at least
4 slices bacon
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 medium green pepper, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons curry powder
3 tablespoons currants
1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes and their juices
3 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Combine the flour, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and the thyme in a bowl. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat until it foams. Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture, shaking off excess, and fry, in batches if needed, until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and drain off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat in the skillet.

Return the skillet to medium heat, add the bacon and fry until crispy. Transfer to a plate. Once cool, crumble and set aside.

Add the onion, pepper, garlic, curry powder and 1 tablespoon of the currants to the skillet and sauté over medium-high heat until soft and fragrant, about 7 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and their juices, bring to a boil and simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spread 1 cup of the tomato sauce in the bottom of an ovenproof casserole large enough to hold the chicken snugly in one layer. Arrange the chicken on top. Pour the remaining sauce over and around the chicken. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for 5 minutes more.

Top with the crumbled bacon, remaining currants and slivered almonds ( I threw this under the broiler for 5 minutes then as I forgot to toast the almonds to begin with, it worked perfectly). Serve with rice.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Blushing Rule #9: Raw onions must be soaked in milk

Onions. If they are going to be served raw for any reason, even if they are sweet onions, must, must be soaked in milk for ten minutes, drained, and gently dried before serving. If you fail to remember to do this and you carelessly toss those onions into a salad or dip, you could seriously hurt someone. Someone... like the Hostess, who may never ever again eat another raw onion.