Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ode To The Scooby Snack and Sharp Flavors Welcomes 2011!

Scooby Snacks have gotten me through many a rough dinner's preparation. A tiny nosh, a 'nothing' little bite of food that you serve so that your guests have something to eat (and thereby buying yourself twenty or thirty more minutes in the kitchen) has saved many an "about to be a total fucking disaster" meal. Plus, Scooby Snacks are an ideal way to use an ingredient too small to prepare as a full-on dish, or a great way to share an ingredient one has been saving in the back of one's fridge...

So it's only natural to start 2011 with a tribute to the lowly Scooby. Respec'!

Here's the invite:

Hungry and Cold Kiddies! Happy 2011!

Wow. Where to start??? A new year, a new leaf, new cookbooks, new inspirations, a new shelf in my fridge for the 18lb Prosciutto gift from Irene, new turntable to play records on, new congress, new rules, a new fetish with The Constitution. The new is everywhere!!! It makes me wonder how we trudged through the old!!

And how can I leave out New Year's Resolutions... for the pussies, that is. Not for me. No Resolutions here at the Love Shack. Or, if Karl makes them he knows enough to keep them to himself.

But even though I don't make "resolutions", I do crave change, and between the depressing offerings at the Greenmarket and the deep freeze outside, I want bold, sharp, BRIGHT flavors. I want some acid and spice. That craving led me to new cookbooks and the GORGEOUS January/Feb issue of Saveur mag, which is devoted to 100 chefs' favorite things. No raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens here, people. And although no one asked me, you know I LOVE to give my opinion, so this dinner is comprised of a few of MY favorite things, including an ode to the scooby snack, the humble little bite that has saved my ass many a night in the kitchen.


Radishes with Butter and Salt
Celery with Boquerones
Fried Oysters with Remoulade
Parsley and Prosciutto Salad with Parmesan
Fish Baked in Parchment with Fennel and Saffron
Curried Lentils
Pickled Grape Tomatoes
Cinnamon Cardamon Scented Basmati Rice
Ruby Red Grapefruit Broiled with Brown Sugar **
I would like to make a souffle, but last time I tried to do that I drank too much and we ended up having to have sorbet instead.

Other than this, I continue to rule the TeeVee waves on Sunday nights @10pm EST in all-new episodes of Unique Eats. Check it out! Sometimes they bleep me and my makeup always looks AWESOME. This weekend I am shooting an episode of Food(ography), hosted by Mo Rocca. Look for it in March on Cooking Channel!

Love, Garlic, and Praise Be To The Scooby Snacks!

Tamara (MRS!)


There is something about the chill of winter (particularly THIS winter) that makes me crave sharp flavors. Acids. Bright flavors. I mean, naturally I want to eat Boeuf Bourguignon as much as the next person when the temperature drops. It isn't called comfort food for no reason... But I also find myself wanting to eat things that are spiky on my palate. Pickled things, curries, citrus, anchovies... so I thought: Why not put all those flavors on one menu?

I advertised on the advance menu that I would make just three Scooby Snacks, but then I got overexcited and made more...

In addition to Fried Oysters with Remoulade,

Celery with Boquerones (my new favorite late-night snack)

Radishes with Butter and Salt (an old favorite standby),

I made Rumaki (water chestnuts wrapped in bacon and broiled in soy sauce, brown sugar and fresh grated ginger),

and finished off with Celery and Cucumber Sticks served with THOUSAND ISLAND DRESSING.

Hello Old School! It sort of looked like 1964 on the table, and I LOVED IT.

I can't lie: I straight up stole the recipe for Pickled Tomatoes from Gabrielle Hamilton at Prune, where I worked many years ago, and who knows where she got it from? The internet is littered with variations... But this version of the pickled tomatoes was the hands-down hit of the dinner. People were BEGGING to take leftovers home! It was kind of insane. I think the flavor combination of the acidity of the grape tomatoes, the garlic, shallots, fresh ginger, cumin and the heat of the jalapeño peppers is completely unexpected, and yet SO right.

And, swear to God, you could take just a few spoonfuls of these babies, some garlic yogurt and a couple more spoons of lentils and you would have a Dinner Of Champions. A cliché, but these tomatoes literally BURST with flavor.

I made a salad with thin Prosciutto slices from the still-large Prosciutto given us for Christmas by the lovely and talented Irene Wong, parsley, shaved parmigiana cheese and a little lemon juice and salt.

People are funny about parsley salad. Once they have a bite, they get over the fact that there's no lettuce, and they get this goofy grin on their faces. It's the "Oh. My. God. Parsley. Makes. Good. SALAD." face.

Pairing parsley with prosciutto, cheese and lemon makes it even greener and brighter, and the natural astringent quality of the parsley cuts the fat/salty rich of the prosciutto. Brilliant.

I can see here that curried lentils are not particularly photogenic. Let's just say that, despite appearances, they taste really fucking great. I sauteed onions and garlic with olive oil, butter, lots of good cumin and coriander. Then I added both madras and regular curry powders, salt, stock and finally, the lentils. I let them simmer for about an hour until they broke down. Again, served with a little yogurt and some chopped greens, a perfectly respectable weeknight dinner.

Fish baked in parchment with fennel was just delicate enough to counterbalance all of the heavy food that we tend to eat this time of year. The subtle, fresh flavor of fennel, along with a touch of butter, white wine, salt and saffron threads elevated the very fresh, local flounder.

I made traditional basmati rice and spiked it with bay leaves, cardamom pods and a cinnamon stick. A little flavor but not too much; an excellent foil for the bold, sharp flavors of the tomatoes and lentils.

Salt Boiled Potatoes: a Sunday Night Dinner standard, ugly but delicious,

Nice bread from Steinway Street with Sesame and Za'atar,

And to finish? Grapefruit Broiled with Brown Sugar.

An old James Beard favorite. As it says in the invitation, I would have LOVED to have made a grapefruit soufflé, but the reality of drinking and then trying to focus on cooking a soufflé... well... The last time I tried that, Karl wound up making sorbet out of the boiled grapefruit juice instead, as I, um, couldn't get it together.

Still, a great time had by all. Sharp flavors, Scooby Snacks and good peeps. A nice way to keep warm.