Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Good and Bad Things about the Food Network's Bobby Flay Marathon

I like watching Bobby Flay cook and his style of food in general. What I did not like was seeing ads for Dave Liberman's lame-ass show at every commercial break. This guy has "all the ingredients" (ugh) to become the next celebrity chef? I don't think so. He looks stiff and awkward on camera, and his food is boring. And who is he? A personal chef who suddenly got his own cooking show? God. When is the Food Network going to stop lowering its standards? In the earlier days, every single person with a show had outstanding credentials. Now, it seems like any schmuck can get a show on there if they know the right people, apparently.

And, as usual, the geniuses at the Food Network show a marathon of grilling on the day that people are actually out grilling and not watching TV. Just as they show a marathon of Thanksgiving cooking on Thanksgiving itself.

Note to the Food Network: it just might be a good idea to show this stuff the day or a couple of days before the relevant holiday. That way people can get ideas from these shows before the event, rather than watch these shows and say "I should have done that."

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Shut up

Apparently, in a recent edition of Gourmet a reader complained that he thought Gourmet was going vegetarian--or at least there were more and more vegetarian recipes. So, this month Gourmet printed 3 letters in response from readers in the "Sugar and Spice" section (which sounds more like the "letters to the editor" section of an especially flamboyantly gay publication).

Did it really take 3 angry, unhinged letters to respond to this guy? Does Gourmet feel it has sufficiently distanced itself from the letter? That any amount of courage or fairness it showed in publishing the letter has now been trampled to dust? Or is there to come an all vegan edition? Maybe Ruth Reichl will feel that's what it takes to reestablish Gourmet's PC cred.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Don't get between Lidia Bastianich and a plate of food

Has anyone else noticed that on her usually good show (any series), if there is a guest, such as her mother or daughter, and they innocently try to take a bite of something they've just cooked, Lidia forbids them, saying no, she gets the first bite? In fact, she actually grabbed her daughter's arm to stop her. Her daughter looked understandably humiliated.

OK, yeah, it's your show, but these are not only your guests, but your family (usually), your mother. Show some manners and respect, lady. Trust me, Lidia, viewers aren't waiting with bated breath for you to take a bite and call your own food "delicious," as you seem to think. "Ooh, I wonder if she'll like it? I wonder what she'll have to say about it... It was delicious, she said. Oh, thank God."

Monday, May 23, 2005

The 50 Best Restaurants in the World.

Restaruant Magazine has recently put out its 50 best restaurants list. As has been pointed out by others, the high number of English restaurants probably has nothing to do with Restaurant Magazine being an English publication--right?

I'm often critical of the Food Network

And it's for reasons like Grill-Gantua, a hopelessly stupid and boring two-hour "special" (so "special," that the Food Network will probably show it 10 times between now and Memorial Day) about some rich schmuck (I assume he's rich, to afford the thing) who has a large, idiotic-looking BBQ rig built. First of all, who cares about this guy? I mean, who is he? A buddy of the CEO of the Food Network? Secondly, it takes two hours to tell this story? Come on... The show would have been slightly better if they'd shown the guy's hottish daughter a little more--but they couldn't even manage that.

The only satisfying thing is that, once the rig was built, and the guy entered a BBQ contest, not only did he not not win anything, but he got his ass kicked by an eleven-year-old girl using a $20 grill. Sweet justice.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Made this on Sunday with linguine. It came out quite nicely, I thought. I normally like to see 4 or 5 different recipes for anything I haven't made before, then pick out what I like from each one, but I couldn't find too many online--at least from the Food Network or Epicurious. Some things I changed around were: 1) I added onions, just because I like onions and wanted more chunky texture in the sauce; 2) I simmered then pureed a carrot and a celery stalk with some of their cooking liquid and added them (fra diavolo sauces don't usually call for carrots and celery, but a lot of tomato sauce recipes do, and, rather than have chunks of carrots and celery, I pureed them); 3) I used both dried and fresh oregano (I added the dried fairly early and the fresh towards the end).

I did not use tomato paste. The sauce didn't need it for body or the heavy tomato-paste flavor. The recipes I saw recommended tomato paste and a fairly short cooking time (15 mins. or so). I suppose the tomato paste would be necessary for both body and richer flavor with such a short cooking time, but I cooked the sauce for about two hours. Just enough to get that cooked-tomato taste, but not yet bitter.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Interesting Article

USA Today recently had a fairly informative article about Iron Chef America, with a few tidbits about the upcoming Hell's Kitchen.

Monday, May 09, 2005


Made this recipe on Saturday. It was good but quite spicy--you don't need the fresh chile pepper in there. We used Trader Joe's brand enchilada sauce. We also used regular flour tortillas instead of god awful pita bread and added some French-cut onions.

The recipe is from the Food Network Show Weighing In, which is really quite good--meaning it probably won't last very long. It's from an episode about 3 fat guys, at least two of which played college football, I believe. So, the recipe appears to have been designed for someone who has no understanding of cooking beyond throwing a bunch of stuff into a pot and waiting around for a few hours. In this case, that's good enough. I actually seared the outside of the pork tenderloins (came in the usual package of two) instead of throwing them in raw. I didn't just do this for the added flavor but to play around with an indoor counter-top grill that's been sitting around since law school.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Alton Brown's Risotto

I see that after 5 years , or however long it's been, Alton Brown finally got around to making risotto. It's pretty much a standard recipe, with some asparagus and mushrooms thrown in at the end. But I did notice some unusual things.

1) He uses butter instead of olive oil as his cooking fat. I think I'd prefer the traditional olive oil--especially considering butter might brown, even over low heat.

2) He uses very little fat. I have my doubts that 2 tablespoons of butter is enough to sufficiently coat each bit of rice--plus the onions are going to absorb some of it.

3) He adds the wine to the chicken stock. Normally, of course, when the rice has cooked in your fat for a few minutes, you add your wine, let it evaporate, then go in with the chicken stock. I think this is preferable, as you want the alcohol to cook out of the wine. Throwing the wine into the hot pan and letting it evaporate to almost nothing probably accomplishes that better than combining the wine and stock. It is possible that the alcohol would cook out of the wine/stock combo after the 35-40 min. cooking process, but, still ...

4) He doesn't add any additional butter at the end. Normally, of course, you toss in a couple tablespoons of butter at the end, off the heat. Now, perhaps Alton wanted a lighter risotto, or cleaner flavors. I've had risotto without the additional butter, but I like the richness and creaminess the additional butter gives.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Review: Joe's Pizza

I think I'll undertake to review as many of the pizza places in Suffolk County as I can. But I'll have to adopt a pizza-rating system, considering that even the best pizza can't compete with, say, a good meal at one of the island's top restaurants. I'll keep the 5-star framework, however, and won't be as stingy about handing out 5 stars.

Joe's is my favorite local pizza place, and maybe the best I've had on the island to this point. The cheese and the sauce are good, but what makes the pizzas special is that the crust is light, surprisingly light. You could knock off three slices (or I could, anyway) and hardly notice. There are also little nubs around the outer crust that are interesting. I suspect they are bread crumbs, but haven't determined for sure.

My only complaint about the pizza is that the quality tends to vary. For instance, depending on who's doing the cooking, the pizzas can be burned on the bottom.

Joe's also offers the other, usual dishes, typical of Long Island pizza places, but to the extent I've had them, I wouldn't bother. At one point he had chicken wings, but the price was outrageous. I'd just stick to the pizza.

4 out of 5 stars.

Joe's Pizza
871 Connetquot Ave.
Islip Terrace, NY 11752

Monday, May 02, 2005

Have to find a new photo

The weird guy who thinks he's Peter Pan (I'm sure J.M. Barrie shudders in his grave at the thought) won't let me use his picture in my profile. So, I'm going to have to find another one.