Saturday, September 29, 2007


Hey, all you hungry kiddies, out there in Radioland!

Tamara and The Sunday Night Dinner were featured on WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show today. (Zora was out of town. snif!) Tamara and the proprietors of NY Bite Club and The Whisk And Ladle Supperclub rapped with Brian about the emergence of underground supper clubs in New York.

Check it out here, or play it here:

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Zombies, Yo! And Crispy Grilled Lamb....

Postprandial viewing on the wall next to our house, courtesy of Zora and Peter's PROJECTOR.
Aim for the head!

Oh jeebus...

It always starts with bacon, doesn't it?... Well, it always seems to, at our place. This week it started with a slab cut of bacon, which cooks up much nicer than yer regular packaged, commercial, machine-sliced variety. That is, unless your regular commercial variety involves a local farmer who raises and butchers pigs, and slices and packages delicious bacon for you.

I, personally, am on the lookout for that kind of arrangement. Tricky in Queens...

This week's Sunday Dinner fell on a Saturday, (keeps people on their toes!) and featured an outdoor showing of Shaun of the Dead. I couldn't really subject everyone to "zombie food", so I decided instead on:

Charcoal Grilled Leg of Lamb Marinated In Pomegranate Molasses With Herbs
Late Summer Tomato Bread Salad
Au Gratin
Corn, Butter Bean & Summer Squash Salad w/Basil & Chili Flake
Bastardized Ratatouille
Grilled Escarole In Anchovy Dressing
Lemon Coconut Bundt Cake

Think of it as a celebration of late summer veggies. With a movie. In a parking lot. Next to the house. Like a drive in without the tight sweaters.

Here's the lambiekins marinating. 2 full legs boned, butterflied, and rubbed down with a rough paste of garlic, pomegranate molasses, salt, pepper, lemon, olive oil, tarragon (just a little!) basil, parsley, oregano and sprigs of rosemary resting on top to finish. Rosemary would have ordinarily been inside, but I forgot it. I like to let it marinate for around 24 hours.

Here are the beasts on the counter, "resting" before we grill 'em

We learned the hard way, a few years back, that grilling chilled meat = a tough piece of lamb, charred outside/raw inside. Not a crowd pleaser. Lamb sat out at room temp for about an hour before grilling.

Here is a little mezze platter I put together, with ingredients courtesy of Greek House on 30th ave. Dates, grape leaves, olives and these insanely delicious sundried hot peppers with sugar and olive oil (!!!).

Just a nibble to distract the zombies while I am furiously finishing dinner and everyone is getting drunk. Plate courtesy of a small town in Portugal.

So, while Karl was grilling the lamb....

...I made Bastardized Ratatouille. Made from memory of an Eggplant La Tavernetta Style that appeared in Mark Bittman's NY Times column a few weeks ago. At the time I couldn't find the recipe, so I winged it. Here's how I roll:

Cut up 7 medium eggplants and sautee them in garlic and olive oil, then pull them out of the oil and set them aside. Rinse a few anchovies of their salt, and add to the same skillet with some capers, and fry. Then add a few chopped tomatoes, and sautee until soft. Then add canned tomatoes; I busted out 3 pints of the ones I canned myself a few weeks ago, but you can use canned from the market. When this boils, reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes, then add the cooked eggplant. Stir, pour it into a serving bowl, squeeze a little lemon over it, and serve. Can be served at room temperature, if you prefer-- that's the beauty of it. Gorgeous. Tastes like Summer.

Delicious little eggplantusses...

K.T. Loves Cake...

This was dessert. Lemon Coconut Bundt Cake, that eats like pound cake. Cream cheese AND butter. Yeah, baby... Finished with a glaze of sugar, lemon juice and water (photo below), heated to the point of boiling, and then fresh mint added. You pull the mint out before pouring it over the still warm cake. Mmmmmmm... Katie's Birthday (Belated) Cake. She was lucky enough to be born on Sept 11th, so we like to celebrate whenever the ruckus dies down.

Delicious, minty cake glaze...

These chopped tomatoes are waiting to be nestled in a baking dish among hunks of toasted, crunchy bread, then lightly tossed with a mixture of melted butter, salt, and pepper. Then, you melt another stick of butter, dress the whole business and bake for 30 minutes at about 400º.

Another bit of brilliance from our patron saint, Edna Lewis. Then...

The only thing that scares Karl more than zombies... Eek!

I confess, I don't like okra. Never understood it. But I keep at it, because I really want to like okra. This round went pretty well, also thanks to Saint Edna. I took the little stems off, and left the caps ON. Then I shanghaied a poor unsuspecting guest, and had him snap a bunch of beans-- green and yellow wax. I tossed the veggies with roughly smashed garlic, red onion, olive oil, salt, pepper, and a few oil cured olives. Roasted on Silpat® (Edna says it makes the okra crispier, which I couldn't make happen) on 450º for about 20 minutes. I think the oven should probably have been hotter to achieve the crispy. When it came out, it got the bits of fried, chopped SLAB BACON that you saw first in this post.

You knew it was coming, didn't you?

Let's just say, that it went so fast, i didn't even get any. I must assume it was good.

22 hungry people. Few leftover veggies, quite a bit of leftover lamb. Made some late revelers very happy by sending them home with some. I had brief dreams of using mine to make harira, but it was still too hot outside. Maybe next week.

The movie was a grand success-- Rachel kindly provided copious movie candy for the crowd and an aerobed for herself and her friend. Highly dedicated.

Perfect end of summer, food and activity wise.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Here There Be Monsters...

We've Got Crabs...

Hideous? Yes. Pinchy? Nasty? Yes, and yes.

But so fucking delicious.

MENU: Summer Corn Salad • Salt Boiled Pertaters (lord have mercy) • Bawled Scrimps • Big Ol' Pot Of Crabs • Peach Pie with Buttermilk Cayenne Ice Cream

So, we decided to do a smaller event, just six of us, this time, and cook up a whole mess of bugs. Karl busted out dessert, and after the potatoes and corn salad were done, Zora, Karine and I set to work on the crabs.

Loading the crabs into the steamers and seasoning them was the fun part. We had a couple of minor crab skirmishes:

"No, no... but, you would be better the other way..."

As it turned out, Karine was really good at dealing with the more aggressive, snappier crabs, and she knew how to serve the crustacean smackdown. We sent her in as the enforcer, just to show the little monsters that we were smarter and tougher.

"They're ugly, and they're food..."

Once she had eliminated all pockets of resistance, we covered the beasties with a whole lot of Old Bay® and salt, and steamed them in vinegar, beer and water for about 15-20 minutes. Just for the record, all of the online recipes I could find recommended 45 minutes, but that seemed waaaaaay too long. Peter and Zora acted as final arbiters of when they were done.

We cooked up the shrimp in a delicious old school shrimp boil broth. Pickling spice, yellow and black mustard seed, green cardamom pods, a whole head of garlic, large quartered onion, lots of kosher salt, water, beer, whole allspice and star anise. Oh -- and a lot of bittersweet smoked paprika, which I can only ever find at Kalustyan's, and now I am out.

Then, we took the party outside to the yard, and dumped the crabs out on a newspapered table.

Finally, we beat the hell out of them with hammers and picks and ate them.

We anticipate a torrent of angry "Crab Meat Is Murder" emails.

There was also pie.

Following dinner, we retired to the Parking Lot next door to watch Peter's inspired performance as Doody in Grease!, Clamshack's equally inspriring turn as Marty in Grease! (though at a different college), and Tamara's gung ho go as a country singing nun in Sister Amnesia's Country Jamboree-- Nunsense 3. Oh yeah, baby. The power of vhs, a projector, a white wall and an empty parking lot. We are still waiting on Zora's "porn" debut.....