2 Weeks in and things have changed.

photo 2

Well it is a gorgeous day here in Maine, my lilacs are about to bloom, blue skies, fluffy white clouds…a whiff of the ocean on the breeze. And I’m kinda depressed, well ok I feel like I should be more depressed, but really I am relieved.

Have you ever been fired?

Actually I don’t even think I was officially fired, I think our trial period ended and expectations were not met on either side. I did not show the enthusiasm nor the aptitude for mopping floors & washing dishes as they expected, and there was not the opportunity for me to either sell or cook that I expected.

I will say that I left that kitchen gleaming each night, whether I was the one who cleaned it or not, and 3 out of the 5 shifts involved me cleaning up after other people.  But whatever, I was dreading having to go in another day. They were nice people, their products great but it was not the job for me. But just like when you’re dating the wrong guy and he breaks up with you, it hurts more because even though you know he was right, he got to do it first.

Wierd Flowers
Does anyone know what this is? Its in a corner of my front yard. Strange looking flowers, that look like Space flowers but really small. Hopefully thats not what they are.

SO… back to the drawing board, got to find something to do that will fulfill me and bring in some cash..I am open to suggestions and if anyone wants to invest in either a Cheesesteak Shop or a Small Bistro here in Brunswick let me know.

My next reason for not singing with joy along with the cardinals in my backyard is its a Birthday Week, still closer to 40 than 50 but inching over to the other side way to quickly, with no baby on the horizon.  Its starting to feel like a lost cause, I think about bringing up options other than natural childbirth with my husband, I’d be happy to foster, I think, I dunno, its a lot to think about.

AND I am not doing to well on the driving front, but I will, I absolutely will.

Today I am going to put my worries aside and dig up a garden bed, get sweaty & dirty and then if I have the energy left I’ll take a walk to the river.

 

This Weeks Menu:

Monday

  • Sockeye Salmon- Sumac, Yogurt & Olive Oil- Broiled skin up till crispy
  • Broccoli & Grape Tomatoes- Roasted with Ginger, Yoghurt & Sesame Seeds
  • Quinoa w Caramelized Onions & Ginger
  • photo 1

Tuesday

  • Vietnamese Style Grilled Pork
  • Quick Pickled Vegetable Salad
  • Avocado & Watercress Summer Rolls

(Lunch for Christian: Salad Lyonnaise, for me Salmon Cobb)

Salmon Cobb Salad

Wednesday

  • Turkey Burgers
  • Potato Packets w Herbs
  • Arugula Salad

(Lunch for Both of Us: Banh Mi w Leftover Pork)

Thursday

My Birthday, I think we’re going out, trusting that my husband will make arrangements

I’m going out for Lunch too but leaving Christian  Tuna Salad Sandwich & Old Bay Chips)

 Friday

  • Grilled Hot Dogs- I got some great artisanal ones
  • Baked Beans- We’re in New England after all
  • Cole Slaw
  • Beers

(Egg Salad on Everything Bagels for Both of Us, Cucumber Salad)

Saturday

  • Bisteca Fiorentina
  • Grilled Corn
  • Grilled Asparagus from Farmers Market

Sunday Family Dinner With Megs & Joe

  • Spaghetti con Ragu Macellaio- Butchers Sauce- aka Sunday Gravy-
  • Big Salad
  • Garlic Bread
  • Rhubarb Tart w Gelato

 

 

Recipe:

This is my version on Ragu Macelliao, there are others, and mine may not be 100% authentic.  It uses a variety of meats and is a great freezer clean up recipe, especially if you are two and theres always left over ground meat or things come in 3 packs…anyway you need a bunch of meats, thats why its called Butcher’s Sauce, its all the odds & ends.

This makes enough for 6- 8, it freezes fantastically so you can make this once every couple of months if you are only 2, we have 4 for dinner on Sunday, and will send them home with leftovers)

You want this sauce to simmer slowly, I usually get it all together after Sunday Breakfast/ Brunch in between when I’ve given up on the crossword puzzle and it’s time to go run errands or do house stuff.

  • 2 28 oz can Whole San Marzano Tomatoes
  • 1 # Italian Sausage, I prefer sweet with Fennel Seeds but you can use Hot or Both
  • 8 Meatballs – See Recipe Below
  • 1/2 #  Piece Pork Shoulder, Chop, Country Style Ribs, Regular Ribs, Pork Neck  whatever, you can up this to a 1 # if you like.  You can also use a chunk of Beef or it’s super delicious with Chicken Thighs- in fact can health the whole recipe up using turkey sausage & chicken thighs
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Cup Diced Fennel
  • 2 Red, Yellow Or Orange Peppers, Seeded & Stemmed &  Cut in Quarters
  • 6 Cloves Garlic, Smashed
  • 2 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
  • 1 cup White Wine
  • 1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried Oregano
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Fresh Oregano Or Marjoram Leaves
  •  OPTIONAL 1 Parmigiano heel ( the rind from a piece of Parm)

To serve: Olio Santo (recipe below), Fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino

  1. Puree your tomatoes, add the tomatoes + 1/2 can full of water   in a bowl (I swish the water around in the can to get up any tomato bits clinging to the sides)                                                                                                                                 IF you have a Food Mill this is the time to use it, you can also employ a ricer. If you don’t have either of these you can squish the tomatoes between you fingers, cut them with scissors (while in the can) or give them a whirr in the blender.  Ideally you should put then through the food mill on the 2nd finest setting, so you have some texture and no seeds. Tomato seeds are bitter, they won’t kill this if they are there but it is exponentially better without them.
  2. Heat a tablespoon or so of oil in a heavy bottomed pot- You need a heavy bottom pot so it will cook all day without burning the bottom
  3. Season Pork with Salt & Pepper, Brown on all sides, remove from pan and set on a plate or sheet tray
  4. Add a bit more oil and Brown Sausages on all sides, remove from pan, set on same plate (we want co-mingling juices)
  5. If you have not already done so, add a bit more oil and brown the Meatballs on all sides, remove from pan, set on Meat plate
  6. Add  remaining oil  + Fennel, Peppers, Garlic + Rosemary & Bay Leaves – IF you add the red pepper flakes now you sauce will be spicier than if you add then later on, because the essential oils will release into the base fats
  7. Season the Vegetables with Salt & Pepper
  8. Saute until the Fennel turns translucent and soften
  9. Push all  the veg to one side of the pot,  move the pot half off the burner, with the veg side off heat
  10. Add Tomato Paste
  11. Allow Tomato Paste to cook until it changes from bright red to brick red in color, move it around every so often until you have achieve Pincage (Pince – Culinary term to brown, fry or cook tomato paste as a base for a sauce, Pincage – Browned tomato sauce – the reason for which is to deepen the flavor)
  12. Apres les pincage, deglace les vegetables utilize le vin blanc-oops sorry-Mafuckitda- French has no place in this Italian recipe!  After the tomato paste has browned,  replace the pot to its proper position, stir to coat the vegetables, raise the heat slightly and add the White Wine to deglaze
  13. Use the hot liquid to help you squidge all those brown bits on off the  bottom or the pan
  14. Lower the heat, Add the Meats + the Meat Juices
  15. Add Red Pepper Flakes, Oregano &  Cheese Heel if using
  16. Stir everything around and then Add Tomatoes
  17. Stir it around a bit more
  18. Lower heat as low as it can go
  19. Place a lid half on the pot or if you have a splatter screen place that over top
  20.  Cook for around 3-4 hours, from time to time during the day stir and taste see if it needs a bit liquid, a little pepper, and little sweetness
  21. Be careful adding Salt, the Final steps add a significant amount of salt to the dish
  22. IF you find it needs sweetness, please do not add sugar, heres what you do- grate a carrot, saute it in a bit of olive oil till soft, add that to your sauce, in time it will add natural sweetness and dissolve into the sauce-  IF its too late  for that try a bit of honey- but tomato sauce should not be sweet as much as it should be balanced.

When Sauce is Finished

  1. Boil pasta until al dente in  salted water (should taste like tears)- DO NOT throw out the water
  2. Separate  about  2-3 cups of sauce from the meats and ladle into a large saute pan
  3. Add Cooked Pasta + 1/2 cup Pasta Cooking Liquid & Toss with tongs over medium heat
  4. Add more pasta water if needed ( if it’s too dry)
  5. Add a handful of grated parm & toss again
  6. Plate Pasta on large platter-top with Fresh Oregano Leaves and a Drizzle of Great Olive Oil
  7. Serve Meats + Extra Sauce in a Separate Bowl

 

My Meatballs (this can be increased)

  • 2 beaten Eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup torn stale White Bread or 1 cup Bread Crumbs
  • 1/2 cup Half & Half  or Whole Milk
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Cheese
  • 1 large Garlic clove grated
  • 1 minced Shallot
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Parsley
  • 1 Tsp chopped fresh Thyme
  • 2 tsp kosher Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Lemon Zest
  • 1 .5#  Ground Meat (Best of all possible worlds, beef, pork, veal, but any of them singularly or even ground turkey will work)
  1.  Mix everything but the Meat together well and let sit for a few minutes allowing bread crumbs to soak up the liquids in the Eggs &  Milk .
  2. Squish it all between you fingers so it is really well blended – this mixture is called a liaison also known as a  Binder
  3. Carefully and gently using clean hands, mix the meat into the Binder, seriously gentile. gentile— the less you manhandle your meat the more tender you meatballs will be.
  4. Once the two are incorporated..again very gently, wetting your hands with cold water every so often form into balls roughly the size of a clementine (for this recipe, for others you can go smaller, but you want them to hold up in the cooking process)
  5. Brown in Olive Oil till they feel solid- Add to sauce as above

OLIO SANTO- Holy Oil – My Version

This is one of the great condiments, it lasts forever so make a big batch

  • 1 Cup dried chile peppers or red pepper flakes – I used whole Calabrian chilies in my last batch, but any will do, I’d avoid chipolte or ancho but thats just me.
  • 1 1/2 Cups Olive Oil
  • 2 Long Hot Pepper chopped in rings
  • 1 Strip Orange Zest
  • 1 sprig thyme
  1. Place all ingredients in a small pan
  2. Set over the lowest possible heat
  3. let cook slowly until the oil turns red
  4. If it burns throw it out
  5. This keeps fro a long time and is amazeballs drizzled over anything- especially Italian dishes like Pasta, Peppers & Eggs, Porchetta, Fresh Ricotta dolloped on a garlic rubbed crostini drizzled with Olio Santo &  bit of orange zest  + fresh oregano ohmarone fantastic

2 thoughts on “2 Weeks in and things have changed.

  1. Ali, I so enjoyed reading your blog, its like having a lovely conversation with you, and the recipes .. can’t wait to try them. I’ll never forget the afternoon that Fletch drove home, stumbled into the garage and announced incredulously that he had been fired. He had never been fired in his entire life.I declared that it was about time, everyone needs to get fired at least once in their lives ..let’s go out for dinner and celebrate, which we did. That job obviously wasn’t for you, still hard to walk away from a bird in hand .. even when you know its not right. You are doing the very best thing, go dig in your garden … and take a walk to the river, sounds lovely. ‘Let it Go ..Turn It Over’ and a door will open. Perhaps something quite unexpected. I began my Yoga Practice almost 10 yrs ago after I resigned my job at IBM. I am just now retiring after 13 yrs, you just never know. Your Birthday is simply a Celebration of YOU … wonderful, unique, clever, talented, funny, beautiful special girl that you are, will call you on your day and will continue to hold you in my heart, Always, Love Kait

    Like

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