Friday, May 05, 2006

Start Spreadin' the News

Jeff and I are headed to New York City this week. We're going to the Metropolitan Opera twice. First we'll be seeing Tosca, then we've got tickets for Rodelinda. On Sunday night we'll be clinking cocktails listening to jazz great Blossom Dearie at the Skylight Room Cabaret. I'll post the full report (plus pics and food reviews!!) when we get back next week. Until then ... eat well and watch only great movies.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Pressure-Cooker Vegetarian Gumbo: Recipe

This is a recipe for gumbo that uses a pressure cooker. I've adapted it from "Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure" by Lorna J. Sass, which--along with a pressure cooker--I would call absolutely essential in every vegetarian kitchen. The beans require no soaking, and you can make this whole recipe from start to finish in about 30 minutes.

Feel free to experiment with the combination and amount of dried herbs listed here. This recipe is great over rice, and it achieves unmitigated glory with generous splashes of Trappey's Bull Hot Sauce.

Pressure-Cooker Vegetarian Gumbo
1 Tbsp olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced
2 onions, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large red, yellow or green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, minced (or generous pinches of dried crushed red pepper)
2 cups of dried black-eyed peas, picked over and rinsed.
3 cups water
1 bay leaf

1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Generous pinch of sage

1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1 package (about 10-16 oz) frozen okra
1 package (about 10-16 oz) frozen corn
Pepper and salt to taste

1. Heat the oil in the bottom of the pressure cooker. Add the garlic, onions, celery, bell pepper and jalapeno and saute over medium-high heat for 2 minutes.

2. Add the black-eyed peas, water and oregano, thyme and sage.

3. Lock the lid in place over high heat, bring to high pressure. Lower the heat if you have a gas range (or if you have an electric range, move the pot to a different heating element, one that's on low, so that you can maintain the pressure without building it too high). You want to apply just enough heat to maintain the pressure for 25 minutes.

4. At the end of 25 minutes, remove the pan from the heat and allow the pressure to come down. (This should take about five minutes).

5. When the contents are no longer under pressure, lift the lid and test the beans. If they still need more time, put them back on the stove at a simmer without the lid and cook them until they're done.

6. Remove the bay leaf. Stir in the tomatoes, okra, corn and salt and pepper. The frozen vegetables should dethaw almost instantly, if you haven't dethawed them already. Stir and then taste for flavoring.

7. Serve in bowls over rice with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt and plenty of Trappey's. (And, no, Trappey's isn't paying me for the endorsement. But they should.)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Bad Girl Liza

Just when you thought you couldn't possibly love Liza Minnelli more than you already do, someone goes and digs up this gem and posts it on YouTube.

There's so much to admire here I don't know where to begin: the eye-popping, jaw-dropping costume and scenery changes, the inexplicable slow-motion "dream" sequence, the glamorous Studio 54-style dance steps, the suggested meta-narrative of street scene and telephone conversation. Sheer genius. She's always had it.

Bow down, Madonna, Britney, Barbra, Christina, Cher, Mariah, Jessica et al!! You are not a patch on this woman's Bob Mackie glitter pants!!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Ganmo: Recipe

To call ganmo the "Japanese tofu burger" will give you some idea of what it's like, but also does it some injustice. Like almost all foods Japanese, it's a delicate balance of flavors built on centuries of tradition. ("Ganmo" is also the name of a Japanese anime character. Logically enough, it's an egg-shaped chicken.)

No matter what you end up calling these little bites, you'll definitely think they're totally delicious.


12-16 oz tofu
1/2 cup ground vegetables: A mixture of carrot, shitake mushrooms, bamboo shoot, burdock or lotus root is traditional. But feel free to experiment with potato, beet, celery, spinach, etc. (Grind or grate them well in a food processor)

1 Tbsp sesame seeds, preferably black

Salt to taste

Glutinous yam or 1 egg white or vegan egg white substitute

1. Press the tofu between two plates with a weight on top for about an hour.

2. In a large bowl, break up the tofu with a fork (or better yet: knead it with your hands) until it is totally ground up.

3. Add the vegetables and black sesame seeds and continue kneading for a minute or two.

4. Peel and grate the yam into your tofu mixture. It will be pretty goopy, but it acts as a binder. Alternately, add your egg white or vegan egg white substitute. Mix well. The mixture should be bound together and you should be able to form it into balls and patties. If it seems wet or loose, add more binder and/or some rice flour until it holds together well.

5. Form into1.5 to 2 inch patties just under 0.5 inch thick.

6. Pan fry or deep fry in oil at about 320 degrees until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side. Serve with green onions and soy sauce as part of a Japanese meal or else just as you would tofu burgers.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Old Skool Macs and Cheese: Recipe

The first time Jeff and I tried to make this recipe from The New York Times, I looked it over and was all, "There's a mistake in here. They don't even tell you to cook the pasta before you bake it!"

Turns out... That's the total glory of this recipe. You just mix everything together with the dry pasta and then pop it in the oven. The pasta cooks in the goop.

And man, what tasty goop it is. Mmm. You can experiment with the type of cheese, too. Jeff and I used a combo of mild cheddar and a bit of gorgonzola for some zing. Yummy.

I've never tried a vegan version, but if there's a vegan out there who's willing to experiment with this: some soy milk, soy cheese and maybe some nutritional yeast? Let me know! I'd love to post a vegan version of this truly awesome take on an old classic.

Old Skool Macaroni and Cheese

1 tablespoon butter, divided

1 cup cottage cheese (not low-fat)

2 cups low-fat milk (or any type except skim)

1 teaspoon dry mustard

Pinch cayenne

Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound sharp or extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated

1/2 pound elbow pasta, uncooked

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and position an oven rack in upper third of oven. Use butter to coat a 9-inch baking dish, reserving remainder.

2. In a blender, puree cottage cheese, milk, mustard, cayenne, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Set aside.

3. Reserve 1/4 cup grated cheese for topping. In a large bowl, combine remaining cheese, milk mixture and pasta. Transfer to baking dish and cover tightly with foil. Bake for 30 minutes.

4. Uncover dish, stir gently, sprinkle with reserved cheese and dot with remaining butter. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until browned. Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

Stephen Colbert Part 2

This is the second part of Colbert's performance. (See below)

Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondents Dinner

This is comedian Stephen Colbert speaking at the White House Correspondents Dinner this Saturday night (April 29, 2006). He satirically lambastes the Bush administration and Washington culture in front of Bush himself as well as big time Washington power players. This performance will soon be legend. FilmStock love it!!