Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Music. The Verb.

Here's something that might blow your mind.  I moved to Memphis.  On purpose.  I wasn't forced.  I wasn't paid to live here.  I actually moved AWAY from the beach to live in Memphis. Not because I'm crazy. Not because I was running from the law. Because when I came to visit Memphis in 2002, I fell in love with Memphis.

It's the people mostly. Everyone is so friendly and accommodating here. If you're lost, just ask!  People love to give you directions. Need a recommendation on what to do? Again, ask someone. People who live in Memphis LOVE to talk about Memphis. They LOVE to point you to the hidden gems of their city. Nothing is too private or too exclusive. If it's good enough for them, it's good enough for you!

Then there's the food. I'm not even talking about the BBQ.  I dig BBQ, and I love the dry rub technique of Memphis, because BBQ sauce is just not my jam. But again, I'm not even talking about the BBQ.  I'm talking about the love that these people put into their food. You can taste every ounce of passion.

And of course, I didn't forget the music! This is the birthplace of Rock n' Roll baby! And I am a rockstar in my dreams. A non-instrument playing, knock you over dead in a karaoke bar singing, dances like Elaine from Seinfeld rockstar in my dreams (ok and in real life too). I remember being at a North Mississippi Allstars show at the New Daisy. The Gamble Brothers Band opened for them. I danced. My ass off. With no worries in the world. And I thought to myself, how have I not heard this sound before? Why was it not all over the radio? It was the most delicious music to my ears! And it was at that show that I told myself I would live in Memphis as soon as I could.

And today I have surrounded myself with beautiful friends and people I love dearly. And we get together to music. The verb, music. We music the shit out of life together! And fortunately we live in a great city to music. So when we find ourselves all off of work and able to get together to music, we go all out. Here's our spread at the Hall & Oates show. Ok, so we music and we food. It's what we do here in Memphis.

It's easy to music and food. You just get a few of your favorite people together. Find some music that you like (it's not hard, at least it's not in Memphis). Assign each couple or person a food item to bring (in this case, a cheese person, a meat person and an olive, nut and condiment person). Sit down and lay out your amazing spread. Pop open your favorite wine or local Memphis beer. Enjoy each other.  Listen to music. Dance. Laugh. Laugh at the people dancing. Dance with the people you laugh at. Make new friends. Food. Music. The verb.

I learned how to Music in Memphis. And here I am. Almost 14 years later. Happy to be here. Fortunate enough to be surrounded by music at my job. Fortunate enough to have many musical playing and loving friends. And it's not perfect. Nothing is. There's crime. There's poverty. There's corrupt politics. But open your eyes people. That shit is everywhere! Ever heard of a place called Manitowoc? Maybe if the people in Manitowoc musiced more often...

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Curry Chicken Pot Pie-yi-yi

It's freaking cold! The heat is on. I hate turning the heat on. Normally, I don't turn on the heat until I can see my breath in my house. I hate heaters. They suck the life out of me and out of my skin. But when it starts to get cold enough to wear a cardigan (and if you know me, a cardigan is what I consider a Winter coat), that's when I start craving my favorite winter foods.  Chicken and dumplings, Beef Stroganoff, Beef Stew, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Spaghetti Carbonara, Chili.  You know, those kinds of foods that make you feel like you're wrapped up in a blanket while you're eating them.  Those kinds.

Today, I made Chicken Pot Pie.

Here's What You Need:
Olive Oil
2 tablespoons of butter
Salt and Pepper
2 chicken breasts (or thighs, or rotisserie leftovers, but I had 2 breasts)
2 carrots, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 heaping tablespoons of flour
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon curry
1 1/2 cups of chicken stock
1 egg (for egg wash)

Pie crust (make you're own. I know you're busy, but mine took me 5 minutes to make...it's so much better tasting and better for you. I even made mine the day before.).

Here's How I Did It:
I roasted 2 chicken breasts with some salt and pepper and some olive oil, at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.  Allow to cool, then dice the chicken.

Lower oven temperature to 375.  I then diced up 2 carrot sticks, 2 celery sticks, 1/2 an onion and the garlic.  I also thew in a handful of diced fennel, because for some reason I had a hankering to buy fennel at the store.  Saute the carrot, onion and celery in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter for about 3 minutes, until they are soft.  Add in the garlic and cook another minute.  Salt and Pepper.  Add in 2 heaping tablespoons of flour and cook another 2 minutes.  Add in 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock, 1 teaspoon of Turmeric, and 1 tablespoon of curry.  Mix until thickened, about 3-5 minutes.  If the mixture is too thick, add in more chicken stock.  You want it to be thicker though, not like soup.  Add in the diced chicken and stir to incorporate.

Get a pie pan and fill the pan with the chicken mixture.  Take your crust out of the fridge.  Roll the crust out large enough to cover the pie pan and then some.  Cover the filling with the crust and crimp the edges.  Make these with any leftover crust you might have! Place the pie pan on a baking sheet because shit ALWAYS spills out the sides.  Cut a few vent holes in the crust and brush with an egg wash.  Cook for 25-30 minutes, keeping an eye that your crust isn't burning.

Then cool for 20 minutes.  Then warm your heart with comforting food.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Never Enough Muff

Usually when I go grocery shopping without a plan, I come back with things I don't need.  A block of cheese I've never had.  Chocolate. Chips. A weird fruit or vegetable I've never tried. But the other day I came back with some shit I would never in a million years buy.  I'm not sure what the grocery Gods were trying to tell me, but they took over my body and forced me to buy salami and bologna.  I can't tell you the last time I bought bologna.  My guess is about 20 years ago.  And once I bought that, I found myself in the olive aisle, buying an olive spread.  And that's when it hit me. The grocery Gods wanted me to make a muffuletta. And I don't mess with the grocery Gods. They know what's up.  Maybe I needed some New Orleans in my life. Who knows?  I'll tell you who knows... the GROCERY GODS! So I continued on and bought some provolone and some ham.

And then I got to the bread section and wasn't happy with any of my choices.  So on to another store I went.  And their bread options were better, but still, nothing was really blowing up my skirt, so I ended up with a sourdough baguette.  Now don't get all up in arms that I didn't use the correct type of meat, cheese or bread.  Normally a muffuletta is made with ham, salami, mortadella, provolone and mozzarella on an Italian sesame bread.  But this is a not a normal muffuletta.  This is MY muffuletta.  Not yours.  If you want to tell me how wrong I'm doing it, make your own damn muffuletta.  And please don't get me started on how to pronounce it.  That's a whole argument in itself.  Just eat it, don't dwell on it.

After I gathered all the ingredients, I went home and knocked this bad boy out.  And I must say, it was damn good. So if you get a hankerin' for a muff, all you have to do is this:

Here's What You Need:

Bologna or Mortadella (I used 4 thin slices of bologna cut in half so the meat fit on my bread. I also tried mortadella the next time around and must say, it's way more delicious, buttery-er.)
Ham (I used 3 slices)
Salami (I used 3 slices cut in half)
Provolone (I used 3 slices cut in half)
Olive Salad (Boscoli is my favorite)
Loaf of bread of your choice

Here's What You Do:
Preheat oven to 350.  Cut your loaf in half and scoop out the bread so you have hollowed out bread.  Put the bread in the oven for a few minutes, just to get it a little toasty.  DON'T FORGET ABOUT THE BREAD.  Put your olive salad in a food processor and process it until you have a fine paste.  Take your toasty, unburnt bread out of the oven.  Coat the bottom of your bread with 1/2 of the olive salad (I used a lot because I love olive salad and I like my muffuletta to drip down my arms as I eat it).  Next place the meats and then the cheese or cheeses on.  Top the other half of the bread with olive salad and then place it in the oven for about 20 minutes until the cheese is melty and the bread is crusty.

Another way I do this, is I heat up all the meats first, then assemble the sandwich, then cook for about 5 minutes.  Do what you like.  Either way, you can't go wrong.  It's just a fine ass sandwich.

Monday, January 04, 2016


So look, the reality of it is, I knew I wasn't going to be making myself an authentic Bibimbap today.  But I had a bunch of shit in my fridge that I had to cook.  I am trying to not be as wasteful in the New Year, so here's what I came up with.

And look, don't email me freaking out that this isn't an authentic recipe!  I know all too well you crazy people who get your panties in major wads when people don't make authentic recipes but CALL them by the same name.  That's why I didn't call it a Bibimbap.  Pay attention.

Here's What I Did:
Grabbed everything in my fridge or on my countertop that I wanted to put into this recipe.  This included some leftover cilantro-lime rice, baby corn, carrots, spinach, green onion, rosemary ham, garlic, shallot and brown beech mushrooms.

Then I heated up some coconut oil, cooked the shallot, mushrooms and garlic until browned.  Threw in a scoop of rice, a few drizzles of sesame oil and a tablespoon of soy sauce.  I cooked this until the rice had a slight crunch to it.  I then added in the ham and the spinach and stirred until just warmed through.  Then I plated it, added sliced carrots, baby corn and green onions and cilantro.  Topped it with a fried egg and there you have it.  Not a Bimbimbap, but a Bi Bim Slop that will make you slap your momma!

건배 (That's Cheers! in Korean)