Archive for January, 2011

What’s old is Neu

Sunday, January 9th, 2011
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbAWBElA6dA

This blog has changed.  It used to be a lot more about food and recipes, but now I worry that I’ve turned it into a boring repository for family photos and vacation slides.  There are few things more banal and tedious than being subjected to someone else’s purportedly cute children’s photos and travel stories.  So if you think this blog sucks now, I may be able to provide some explanation and perhaps dispel some easily and, however understandable, incorrectly drawn conclusions.

1) I still cook– a lot.  I still enjoy cooking for the family and Cati and I have divvied up the evening responsibilities such that I usually cook dinner, while she bathes the little ones.  On weekends, providing we don’t travel, I cook even more.  That’s the funny thing about a blog.  A blog is not a dependable way to get to know somebody, it can be a heavily abridged version of one’s life (like this blog).  Most readers of this blog probably have no idea that I still play drums for the Northeast’s third most popular KISS cover band.  Okay, that last statement is a lie– or is it a lie? See what I mean?

2) A lot of the recipes from which I’ve been working recently are from America’s Test Kitchen/Cooks Illustrated.  I can’t just go throwing up their recipes on my blog.  I’ll link to their website for what I have been doing.  I’ve learned that for some recipes, you get what you pay for.  I used to search the internet for recipe suggestions, but that is like using the Billboard Top 40 to identify the musical geniuses of our time (Ke$ha?  Really?).  The television show and magazine are fun and rigorous, and chocked full of info that have made me a better cook.  I especially like how the pace of the television show, America’s Test Kitchen, makes the Food Network cooking shows look like television made by people who drink Four Loko.

3) Seriouseats.com is a much better website for food related posts, and frankly, I can’t compete.  It reminds me of something Cati and I saw on TV a few years ago, and still laugh about today.  Apparently, Paris Hilton “wrote” a book and went to a book signing to promote it.  Well, there was a protestor at the event with a sign that said “Hey Paris, don’t write a book; READ A BOOK.”  This blog is Paris Hilton and seriouseats.com is Leo Tolstoy.

4) Blogging time is a little harder to come by these days.  I’m not using that as an excuse, though.  People don’t have time to do anything, we make time for the things we consider important.  This blog is, and has been, a nice way to capture our memories over the years.  You, my dear readers, just by being readers, force me to be more thorough and articulate than I would be in some half-assed journal.  So, like, uh, thanks for that ‘n stuff, ok?

Well without further ado…

The holidays were nice.  Watching how excited Nina would get was fun.  She didn’t completely grasp the whole Santa story, but she knows he is an important dude.  She was at first intimidated by him, but then she became very friendly when she saw him at department stores or the mall.

For Xmas eve, Cati and I bundled up our little peanuts and we all went for a stroll through the neighborhood to admire the lights.

Then, after the walk, we put the kids to bed and enjoyed a “once a year” dinner of paté, caviar, smoked salmon, jamon iberico, lomo, tortilla (eggs, not corn), grapes, dates, membrillo (quince paste), a nice goat’s milk cheddar, crackers, and champagne.  I bought the caviar from Whole Foods.  It was produced in California– never again.  It was not good.  I’ll stick to Beluga from now on.  Overall, the dinner was delicious, and I didn’t have to spend the entire day preparing it.

The tortilla recipe I used came from America’s Test Kitchen— it came out very flavorful, and a lot less greasy than traditional recipes.

The combination of the membrillo and the goat’s milk cheddar is very good.  Look for these items in your grocery store– they go very well together.

Northern New Jersey and NYC were slapped with a major snow storm the day after Xmas.  It was great not having to go anywhere and enjoying the snow from the warm indoors.  I almost felt guilty watching Cati do all that shoveling as I sipped coffee from inside the house (JUST KIDDING– I didn’t feel guilty at all– KIDDING, I actually did all the shoveling).

Nina was so excited about the snow, she quietly left the room and put on her hat and boots.  Then, she stood by the front door yelling “Mamá! Papá! Vamos!”

Two important things to point out in the photo above– 1) she’s still wearing her pajamas, and 2) she’s putting on her backpack to show she’s serious about leaving.

My folks had planned to come for the Thanksgiving holiday, but were unable to make it, so I gave them a do-over and we cooked a Thanksgiving feast for their arrival.  I made the turkey as recommended by ATK, and it came out perfectly cooked.  The gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potato, Catalonian spinach,  stuffing, and borscht were all made from classic/generic recipes.

Being that my father was born and raised in South America, grilling while he is visiting is kind of required.  So I bought a pair of beautiful ribeyes and a pair of New York strip steaks and fired up the charcoal grill (note: not the same day as the turkey feast– that would have killed us).

We also had some South Amercian cole slaw, roasted asparagus, sauteed beet greens, and a nice bottle of Spanish red wine to accompany the steaks.  Those ribeyes were enjoyable on a visceral level– they were so good that words fail me.  I should mention that I used a process recommended by ATK to get that characteristic steakhouse char on the steaks, while not overcooking them.

Also, there are two other recipes that I took from America’s Test Kitchen (have I mentioned how much I like that show and their cookbooks?).  These are “chicken breast in mustard and dill sauce” (we didn’t have dill, so I used scallions).

and we have become mildly addicted to their “Thai lettuce wraps” (in beef and turkey variations).

Natalia is getting increasingly chubby (in a good way) and more mobile with each week.  She’s a fat and laid-back jolly baby.

She brings a much-appreciated yin to Nina’s non-stop action yang.  Note Nacho in the background doing what he does. He is the one who sleeps the most in our house these days– lucky dog.