Welcome Gentle Readers

This blog tends to wander from its main purpose -- updates on my fiction. I do have updates and excerpts of my work. But I also write about my obsessions -- food, friends and pop culture and my weird life in Los Angeles. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Feeding Frenzy

I realized with a start early last week that as of midnight Sunday, I would be on a liquid diet basically until after my surgery. And then I will be chowing down on hospital food. And that's clear liquids that don't include the dense and yummy soups I've been making this past week. I realized this on Tuesday while waiting to see my oncologist. I no longer felt guilty about the delicate and decadent Carpaccio and the pizza I had had for lunch on Monday. And I didn't give a thought about the Popeye's Fried Chicken I devoured after the appointment. I had determined upon that realization that there would be no guilt about what I would eat this week. I planned on going nuts where food was concerned. But I had no plans for ordinary gluttony. I wanted to have the things I didn't typically have. But I didn't want anything gross like that KFC Double Down Sandwich. That's just crazy. And I wanted to make as many of those treats as possible. I might as well get some cooking therapy in at the same time.
I started with hollandaise sauce. This time, it was Julia Child's recipe. Ironically, it was the easiest I've tried to date and it made the perfect portion. I no longer need Eggs Benedict to make hollandaise sauce. I like spreading it on English muffins on its own. So I did. Thus, my breakfast needs were covered though I needed bacon – yes, I needed bacon! I picked that up on Friday at my favorite market in Marina Del Rey. They often have manager's specials on short ends of quality bacon (the end of a larger amount) for really cheap. And then, I discovered that there is a similar special in the specialty cheese department on the ends of wheels. Thus, I was able to try a nice sized wedge of this soft, French cheese with Kirsch for under $2.00. I already had some Brie to go with the baguette and melba toast. What's with all the snacks? My dear friend Sarah sent me a bottle of her sister's aged balsamic vinegar to taste.

F. Olivers Oils and Vinegars is located in Canandaigua New York, but it's lovely products will soon be available online. There is also a blog on the website with recipes and histories for all of the products and the story behind the adventure of opening the business. I have some very nice balsamic vinegars and have been pleased at the glazes and salad dressings it has made. But F. Oliver's is in another category altogether. It is the real deal – aged 18 years in Italy. The taste is complex. Saying it's sweet is inadequate. It reminds me of a sauce that has been reduced to it's most concentrated essence with all of the ingredients are amplified. In this case, the flavor of fine Italian grapes is amplified and enhanced. The syrup like liquid goes well with anything that red wine works well with – cheeses, crusty bread. It was fantastic on the cheese with the bread and on each on its own. But in my feeding frenzy, I was thinking outside the box. I reasoned that since I've often made salad dressing with balsamic vinegar, I would use the F. Oliver's balsamic on my seafood and arugula salad. It tasted marvelous on the roasted shrimp and seared scallops. I do believe that it would even taste as good on ice cream as I have heard. Keep a close eye on that web site and buy those products as soon as they are available. I'm absolutely planning on trying the other flavored balsamic vinegars.

Sunday's meals will feature the bacon along with some perfectly fluffy scrambled eggs sprinkled with a bit of fresh chives, fresh brewed coffee with full cream and real orange juice. Lunch will include a seafood chowder (New England clam chowder with chopped up shrimp and scallops from yesterday). Dinner is something very special. For some reason that eludes me, a number of the TV chefs I watch were making some version of Beef Wellington. If you click on hat link just noted, you'll notice that the dish is freakin' complicated. The recipes I watched last week by Sunny Anderson, Claire Robinson (the link to their recipes are attached to their names) were easy to make. But the one that I thought had the most Beef Wellington ingredients while still being easy was Brain Boitano's Welzones (a Beef Wellington calzone) Yes, that Brain Boitano. He has a fun and wacky cooking show on Food Network called What Would Brian Boitano Make. I liked his recipe, however, I made some changed. I wasn't interested in the cheese sauce that went with it. And the recipe did not include Foie Gras. I can hear the yelling about how it's made. My apologies to those whom I've offended. For those interested in the controversy and why I fall on the side of eating it, watch this segment from Anthony Bourdain's holiday special HERE. I love D'artagnan's http://www.dartagnan.com/ website, but the deliver charge is too steep for me right now. I found a nice French canned Foie Gras on amazon.com where I get free delivery. It even had a bit of black truffle mixed in. Thus, I made the mushroom duxelles (another slight difference on Boitano's recipe), cut up the filet mignon steak (it only took one and that was on sale) and made what Jon called a fancy hot pocket (the hubs is so elegant, isn't he). The result is golden, flaky, decadent and delicious.

I'll have another lovely snack involving the rest of my soft cheeses, crusty bread and the balsamic vinegar at midnight. And then, ah well. I hope for the sake of everyone dealing with me this week that I'm not too cranky. I'm very hopeful that the lovely food memories of the past few days will sustain me – even through the hospital food that awaits.

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