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VI's Retro Kitchen
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  • VI's Retro Kitchen

    Post #1 - June 24th, 2004, 12:35 pm
    Post #1 - June 24th, 2004, 12:35 pm Post #1 - June 24th, 2004, 12:35 pm
    I do not usually write about my kitchen exploits, well mainly 'cause there aint much to write about. Lately, however, I've been on a roll, so I thought I'd share.

    First, came this dish inspired by the kidz and the Condiment Queen. Seems she can create for them, perfectly wonderful dinners from bread, cheese and microwave. And even though this rather cheesy cheddar seemed fine as is, I got to idea to, well, rarebit it, or as I was to later learn, rabbit it. One of those Musso and Frank/Fergus Henderson (its on his menu pretty much daily) that I adore but never think to make. I knew instantly where to look: Joy of Cooking, which I forever think of as the joy of eating because I think it less a book on cooking as a book on eating well. Sure enough, there was a Welsh Rabbit recipe, and a simple and easy one at that. With makeshift double boiler from a stainless steel bowl and saucepan, I went to work on grating a pound of cheddar. Lucky me, the chowhounditas soon thought that a fun job, and took over. They also took over the job of pulverizing the mustard seed (Penzy's) into ground mustard. So, I mixed the royale, as we chefs would call it, one egg, a bit of worcestershire sauce, a tiny shake of curry powder (Penzy's hot), a slightly heavier shake of paprika (Penzy's half-sharp), thgat mustard dust, and a small pour of Valentina brand hot sauce. The process goes like this: in the double-boler, melt a tab of butter, add the grated cheese, melt, add beer, I used 3/4 bottle of Berghoff dark, traditionally it should be stale ale, keep mixing, there is some rules about wooden spoons and mixing directions but I used a whisk and went wily-nily, finally, add the royale and mix until incorporated. I ate on toasted, buttered, English Muffin (Trader Joe's). Only later did I learn, in research, that I was only supposed to toast only one side of the bread. I should note, as good as the kidz plain melted cheese was, this was better.

    Second, inspired by a big bag of shrimps the CQ had boiled up, I got the idea to make shrimp louie, which is really just an excuse to eat Russian dressing. Ah, I love Russian dressing, as much for its taste as for its pure alchemy and the way it allows me to partake in two less favorite foods, mayonnaise and catsup. Would you eat your salad with plain catsup or plain mayo? Would you put catsup on a turkey sammy? Yet, combine the ingredients and you would (I would). Here's how I did. I took about 5 Trader Joe's cornichons and minced them. I took glops of mayo, ketchapeno, cocktail sauce, and Tapatio hot sauce and combined. I tasted and refined until it tasted "right", but in fact it did not taste right. It tasted a hell of a lot better than most Russian dressing. My shrimp louie was also a lot better because we had pretty large shrimps and Ms. VI boiled them up with some interesting spices. For the bedding, I used Trader Joe's baby romaine. I garnished with a hot house tomato that came with one of our CSAs. Great.

    Third, inspired by what to do with extra Welsh Rabbit, I made a hot brown sammy. Using the easiest cooking method known, I microwaved excellent Niman Ranch bacon (made at least some of the time with pork from my friends the Wettsteins). I took a thick slice of Fox and Obel semolina bread (thanks Aaron), added F&O turkey (the best I know), then the leftover cheese sauce. I nuked to melt the cheese, then stuck it under the broiler, or salamander as us chef's say. Unfortunately, the cheese did not brown up, but it surely tasted fine. Even better because I completely surrounded the sammy with fresh shelled, buttered farmer's market peas. I was so awed by my creation, that even though I was eating alone, I kept to my knife and fork, euro style.

    Fourth, now we have extra Russian dressing, I think a Field's Special Sandwich, that great, not always on the menu dish, of the Walnut Room. Eerily, a CSA box we got yesterday (which I have some gripes about, but that's for another post), contained a head of iceberg lettuce. Perfect. So it went, buttered semolina bread (thanks Aaron), Jarglesburg cheese, F&O turkey, 1/2 head of lettuce, overflowing dressing (as per Field's), and two strips of Niman bacon. We had no hard boiled egg, but I forgot to put on some of the olives that we had (Trader Joes). Needless to say, great as the above.
  • Post #2 - June 24th, 2004, 12:48 pm
    Post #2 - June 24th, 2004, 12:48 pm Post #2 - June 24th, 2004, 12:48 pm
    Which CSA did you join?

    "I've never met a pork product I didn't like."
  • Post #3 - June 24th, 2004, 3:14 pm
    Post #3 - June 24th, 2004, 3:14 pm Post #3 - June 24th, 2004, 3:14 pm
    I just bought F&O's turkey for the first time on Tuesday. Wonderful stuff indeed. (I bought their stunningly rare roast beef for the second time; it's so red in the center it could stop traffic, but the crust is so amazing.) I have just enough left for a couple of sandwiches tonight. Chose their sourdough this week, but think I may go for semolina next week.
  • Post #4 - June 29th, 2004, 5:34 am
    Post #4 - June 29th, 2004, 5:34 am Post #4 - June 29th, 2004, 5:34 am
    MAG wrote:Which CSA did you join?

    Melissa, sorry for the delay in getting back to you on this. I was gonna write a fuller report on the travails of CSA's--what exactly does one do with ONE patty-pan squash, but I lost the muse.

    During the school year, we were part of a CSA organized by some place in Wisconsin, I am sorry the name is escaping me, but they are new this year to the Green City Market. Honestly, I am not remembering the name of the CSA because it really sucked. What they were doing, was making up for the lack of produce from Wisconsin with all sorts of wholesale things. Ever get bannanas in your CSA. Then, the boxes were not kept well. There were decent enough hothouse (local) tomatoes in there each week, but they came, always, too cold. We had joined as a source of produce pre-farmer's market and also as a sop to the school PTO. At least the PTO did well.

    We are not in any CSA's now, but at various points this summer have gotten stuff from neighbors CSAs. When one neighbor went off to Italy, we got the rest of their produce from the Worm Farm. It was good stuff, but as it was only a few things, we missed the real joy of a CSA, poking through the box to see what you do not have. Last week, we got another neighbor's box from Angelic Organics as that neighbor was on vaction. So, any ideas on what to do with a lot of fresh tarragon?

    All in all, I much, much prefer shopping at the Farmer's Market to the CSA. Oak Park's Farmer's Market this year has been amazingly strong, with three organic vendors plus the variety of variety that is Nichols. If I desire to cook patty-pan squash, at least I can get more than one.

  • Post #5 - June 29th, 2004, 11:39 am
    Post #5 - June 29th, 2004, 11:39 am Post #5 - June 29th, 2004, 11:39 am
    Last year, we ordered a CSA from Kings Hill Farm. Very disappointing for the same reasons you identify. The last straw for me was the box I received in early July when the farmers markets were abundantly stocked, which contained a moldy blood orange and a shriveled mango. While I liked the challenge of cooking with items I did not choose, the variety of the markets won out. I don't suspect I'll be buying any more shares soon.

    "I've never met a pork product I didn't like."