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eG Foodblog: bergerka - An opera about cooking, with pictures


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Prologue: Our hero and master chef has gone off to the wilds of Elsewhere in America to slay dragons with his high notes. Left to her own devices, our heroine quickly realizes that ordering out every night will not only expand her waistline, but severely reduce her cash flow, and one can only eat baked potatoes for so long without getting bored. She has no other alternative but to do what she has successfully resisted for an obscene number of years.

She must...learn...to...cook. :shock::shock::shock:

Cast of characters:

bergerka, your intrepid heroine

slkinsey, the absent hero

Charlie, their roommate, who was kind enough to lend your heroine his digital camera and who seems to have no objection to serving as a test subject for recipes

ewindels, dessert maven and restaurant god

Eric_Malson, frequent partner in crime for cooking and restaurant/bar trips

SarahD, ditto

Asher, Zebulun and Issachar, the ferrets, who turn their noses up at mice, preferring raw chicken.

Mickey, the little bastard of a cute fuzzy brown mouse who has taken up residence in our apartment. Mickey pushes traps aside contemptuously with his nose and likes to poop on my stovetop. :angry:

A few other characters will pop in and out from time to time.

Act 1:

First of all, thanks, everyone, for putting up with another foodblog from me. For anyone who doesn't know, I'm an opera singer who lives in New York City with slkinsey, our roommate Charlie, and three cute little ferrets. Somehow or other, I missed the day when we were all taught to cook, although I bake pretty decently. As mentioned above, slkinsey is out of town until just before Thanksgiving, and I am taking the opportunity to figure out the mysteries of the kitchen once and for all.

So far, I've made the following: a spicy pumpkin soup, described here, which was really good, sopa alentejana, also delicious, which Eric_Malson taught me to make (and which was my first experience ever poaching an egg. Hint: do not poach eggs for 5-8 minutes, as The Joy of Cooking tells you to do. You end up with concrete eggs. Fat Guy's EGCI course, here, is much better and easier to follow, and combined with telephone advice from mom produced two perfectly cooked eggs), and arroz al frango (a Portuguese chicken and rice dish), which Eric and I made this past Monday night. No, you don't get to see pictures of my first attempt at cutting up a whole chicken - there's only so much laughter at my expense that I can take. :wacko: There were also pumpkin cranberry muffins that didn't turn out quite right, and a pumpkin cranberry pecan bread that did, I'll post the recipe below.

As mentioned above, Charlie the roommate has lent me his super-duper high tech digital camera, which does everything except push the button for you, so there will be pictures. I can't promise you the exquisite composition provided by, say, slkinsey and bleudauvergne, but they shouldn't be THAT blurry, and yes, there will be ferret porn, metaphorically speaking. I have planned the week to include a few evenings of cooking for myself, two evenings out (one at Churrascaria Tropical in Queens and one with fried dumplings in Chinatown followed by a trip to Pegu Club to overindulge - I mean, have one or two little...teeny...drinks), and - yes - one dinner party with friends at my apartment. If you have any (REASONABLE, remember I'm a beginner) requests, please express 'em and I'll do my best to accommodate. I may pick up opera tickets one or two nights, which will throw the whole schedule into turmoil.

Let's get started with breakfast, shall we?

Before he took off into the wild blue yonder, slkinsey taught me, once and for all, to use the damned espresso machine. We have a Rancilio Silvia, and I've always found it intimidating, but no more - after two weeks, I'm practically an expert. Plus I have the written instructions up on the refrigerator door. :laugh: Slkinsey also roasted about a week's worth of coffee before he left, but I ran out of it and do NOT know how to work the roaster and have no desire to try. Fortunately, Eric_Malson introduced me to Cafe Caracolillo, which can be had for $8 a pound at La Rosita restaurant (where they make a delicious cafe con leche and cubano sandwich) and which makes a dark, thick, chocolatey shot of espresso. The bag is shown here:

gallery_8920_3_359064.jpg

Here is the Rancilio, savior of my morning:

gallery_8920_3_898023.jpg

Oooh, sorry, that picture is kind of dark - I thought I brightened it before I uploaded, but it was very early (I had to be at my day job at 8:30 today, a long story).

Here is the finished product, with a slice of pumpkin pecan cranberry bread.

gallery_8920_3_565475.jpg

Ack! I'll work on the pictures tonight, I promise. That one is really not very good. :unsure:

For my birthday, a couple of weeks ago (28 again!), I asked my brothers and sisters to send me their favorite recipes. My sister Carol sent this one, for the bread:

Mix together in a bowl:

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 cup oil

2 cups pumpkin (cooked and mashed or canned - I used the leftover fresh pumpkin from the soup)

Into a separate bowl, sift:

3 1/3 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon allspice

Have ready:

2/3 cup milk

1 cup chopped nuts (I like pecans)

1 cup raisins, fresh or dried cranberries (if you use fresh, as I did - I like the tartness - cut them in half. I used about 1.5 cups), or mixed raisins/dates

Cream the eggs, oil, sugar and pumpkin in a bowl.

Gradually add dry ingredients, alternating with the milk. Beat well.

Fold in the fruit and nuts.

Bake in greased and floured loaf pan (this makes one very large loaf or two medium sized ones. Either way, fill pans a little more than 1/2 full with batter) at 350 degrees, for about one hour or until toothpick comes out clean.

Edited by bergerka (log)

Basil endive parmesan shrimp live

Lobster hamster worchester muenster

Caviar radicchio snow pea scampi

Roquefort meat squirt blue beef red alert

Pork hocs side flank cantaloupe sheep shanks

Provolone flatbread goat's head soup

Gruyere cheese angelhair please

And a vichyssoise and a cabbage and a crawfish claws.

--"Johnny Saucep'n," by Moxy Früvous

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Great to see you blogging! I look forward to keeping up with this week.

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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Oh, how exciting! I can't wait to see the results of all your experiments...in the meantime, I have not yet worshipped at the altar of caffeine this morning, and your picture is making me drool. :wub: I'm off to grab something stimulating!

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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An opera about cooking.. that sounds so promising..

As a lover of food, opera and rodents, I am very much looking forward to this blog. I hope you'll enjoy it.. don't be nervous about the cooking.. don't forget to pour yourself a drink when you start your prepwork!

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An opera about cooking.. that sounds so promising..

As a lover of food, opera and rodents, I am very much looking forward to this blog. I hope you'll enjoy it.. don't be nervous about the cooking.. don't forget to pour yourself a drink when you start your prepwork!

You're fond of rodents? I'll drop Mickey in the mail, if I can catch him. :raz:

Ferrets are supposed to EAT rodents, but all that domestication has apparently fried their little brains. Mickey actually got INTO my room one day, raced across the floor right past the guys' noses, and they completely ignored him. :hmmm:

It is only 10 am. I do NOT need chocolate.

Basil endive parmesan shrimp live

Lobster hamster worchester muenster

Caviar radicchio snow pea scampi

Roquefort meat squirt blue beef red alert

Pork hocs side flank cantaloupe sheep shanks

Provolone flatbread goat's head soup

Gruyere cheese angelhair please

And a vichyssoise and a cabbage and a crawfish claws.

--"Johnny Saucep'n," by Moxy Früvous

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You're fond of rodents?  I'll drop Mickey in the mail, if I can catch him.  :raz:

Ferrets are supposed to EAT rodents,

I am so sorry.. I thought ferrets were rodents too.. don't tell them I said that :wink:

you can send Mickey to me, he'll fit right in with my rats.

One thing I do know: Sometimes you do need chocolate at 10 am...

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Yea Kathleen! One of my favorite eGers on the blog :smile:

Just feel confident that you have a cheering section of hundreds to help you get through the learning with love and support. The snickering will not be at your expense, rather at the memories of our own trials and tribulations at the helm of our own stoves.

I'm so sorry the pumpkin cranberry muffins did not turn out. You'll have to PM me what happened! I'm actually working on another recipe this week in preparation for the family onslaught over Thanksgiving (starting in 2 freakin' weeks!).

You GO girl!

Genny

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It is only 10 am. I do NOT need chocolate.

Oh, pshaw. When doesn't a woman need chocolate?! :wink:

I went to see Turandot last night with a fellow eGer... perhaps that was serendipitous foreshadowing of your pending blog. Looking forward to your week ahead!

Joie Alvaro Kent

"I like rice. Rice is great if you're hungry and want 2,000 of something." ~ Mitch Hedberg

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Yea Kathleen!  One of my favorite eGers on the blog :smile:

Just feel confident that you have a cheering section of hundreds to help you get through the learning with love and support.  The snickering will not be at your expense, rather at the memories of our own trials and tribulations at the helm of our own stoves.

I'm so sorry the pumpkin cranberry muffins did not turn out.  You'll have to PM me what happened!  I'm actually working on another recipe this week in preparation for the family onslaught over Thanksgiving (starting in 2 freakin' weeks!).

Genny

Oh, hell, I'll just TELL you what happened to the muffins. I had never used fresh pumpkin before and didn't drain it enough; hence, the middle of the muffins never quite got solid, even when the tops, um, burned.

I still ate them. Destroying the evidence, you know.

Lunchtime will be a trip to the green market at Dag Hammerskjold Plaza!

Basil endive parmesan shrimp live

Lobster hamster worchester muenster

Caviar radicchio snow pea scampi

Roquefort meat squirt blue beef red alert

Pork hocs side flank cantaloupe sheep shanks

Provolone flatbread goat's head soup

Gruyere cheese angelhair please

And a vichyssoise and a cabbage and a crawfish claws.

--"Johnny Saucep'n," by Moxy Früvous

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Kathleen, nothing is more operatic than cooking except, well, opera.

Fire, knives, screaming.

Go for it and have fun.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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I couldn't decide.

At the end of this particular foodblog, will we, or will we not, consider it a happy ending if a fat lady sings? :huh:

SB (knows lots more about food than opera) :wink:

Can we just call it the "lady who's gained more than 10 pounds in the last year?"

...although, funnily enough, since slk's been gone I've lost three pounds. :hmmm:

Basil endive parmesan shrimp live

Lobster hamster worchester muenster

Caviar radicchio snow pea scampi

Roquefort meat squirt blue beef red alert

Pork hocs side flank cantaloupe sheep shanks

Provolone flatbread goat's head soup

Gruyere cheese angelhair please

And a vichyssoise and a cabbage and a crawfish claws.

--"Johnny Saucep'n," by Moxy Früvous

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Careful there SB, who ya callin fat????  We'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you meant someone other than our own favorite resident female opera singer..... :raz:

No offense intended. I was just illustrating my nearly total lack of knowledge about opera.

Of course, I am familiar with the famous B Bunny and E Fudd Wagnerian interpretations in "What's Opera, Doc?" :rolleyes:

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Oooh oooh! Kathleen. Your First blog really inspired me with a lot of great writing style. It looks like we're in for another week of fabulous reading and fascinating content! Just the idea of recording your thoughts and progress as you struggle with the learning curve is very courageous. :cool:

Lots of luck as you cook your way through this week! Congratulations on making the pumpkin soup! That cake looks really wonderful. :smile:

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Kathleen, how wonderful to see you blogging again. And learning to cook! You'll love it, I'm sure. The only problem I forsee is that when you an slk throw your fab dinners in the future, they'll be even more fabulous with two chefs in the kitchen! Or perhaps you'll take over as chef extraordinaire and slk will get clean up duty! :raz:

So, do you have any particular faves you want to learn to make, or is the idea to just go with whatever inspires you in the moment?

Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

Good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.

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Wow, guys - seriously, I'm overwhelmed by the response (especially from bleudauvergne, whom I cyberstalk, or perhaps that's gulletstalk, to make sure I miss NONE of her postings). I re-read my first foodblog in preparation for this one (and to make sure I didn't repeat myself much) and thought "geeez, I talk/type too much!"

Jake: I had thought of planning out things I specifically wanted to learn to make, but every time I tried to think of one, my mind went blank (not an uncommon occurrence in any case). So I just thought I'd ask people for their favorite recipes and surf around RecipeGullet, Epicurious and my cookbooks at home and see what grabbed me. Glad I did. Spicy pumpkin soup would never have occurred to me, and oh man is it good.

Bleu: the cake IS gorgeous, but it isn't mine (unless you meant the blurry picture of the pumpkin bread further up!). I think it was made by whoever the next foodblogger is.

On to lunch!

SarahD and I went to the green market at Dag Hammarskjold plaza. I got two things from "Not just rugelach," one magically delicious potato/cheddar/broccoli knish, which I'm currently noshing on, and 1/2 pound of the most incredible chocolate hazelnut rugelach ever (NO, I didn't eat the entire half pound for lunch, only one). I also bought several Honeycrisp apples (my favorite), an apple cider donut, and hot mulled cider from Samascott Orchards' stand. I'll post pictures into THIS post later of everything except for the donut, which didn't make it back to the office - but it will be MUCH later tonight, as I am in fact going to see "The Mines of Sulfur" at NYC Opera with ewindels. This changes my plans a little bit - I have to work till 6:30, curtain is at 7:30. What the heck can I have for dinner on the run?

Pictures!

Not just rugelach:

gallery_8920_3_781755.jpg

Honeycrisps from Samascott Orchards:

gallery_8920_3_123837.jpg

Jeremy, from Samascott, who sold us that evil, evil donut and the cider:

gallery_8920_3_580774.jpg

Lunch! The knish, an apple, the cider and that rugelach:

gallery_8920_3_333203.jpg

Edited by bergerka (log)

Basil endive parmesan shrimp live

Lobster hamster worchester muenster

Caviar radicchio snow pea scampi

Roquefort meat squirt blue beef red alert

Pork hocs side flank cantaloupe sheep shanks

Provolone flatbread goat's head soup

Gruyere cheese angelhair please

And a vichyssoise and a cabbage and a crawfish claws.

--"Johnny Saucep'n," by Moxy Früvous

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Cool, Kathleen! I can't wait to see how you weave opera into the blog.

Oh, and as to the fresh pumpkin, if you use a sugar pie pumpkin, which is pretty dry anyway, and roast it in the oven, as opposed to cooking it in water or steam, you won't need to drain it at all and will get a perfect puree.

Do ferrets eat muffins?

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Cool, Kathleen!  I can't wait to see how you weave opera into the blog.

Oh, and as to the fresh pumpkin, if you use a sugar pie pumpkin, which is pretty dry anyway, and roast it in the oven, as opposed to cooking it in water or steam, you won't need to drain it at all and will get a perfect puree.

Do ferrets eat muffins?

There's more than one kind of pumpkin?

Who knew?

Seriously...I had no idea. The green market guys will know what I'm talking about if I ask for one of those, right?

The ferrets would probably sniff the muffins and turn away disdainfully (mom...there's no chicken in these muffins...what the hell...).

Basil endive parmesan shrimp live

Lobster hamster worchester muenster

Caviar radicchio snow pea scampi

Roquefort meat squirt blue beef red alert

Pork hocs side flank cantaloupe sheep shanks

Provolone flatbread goat's head soup

Gruyere cheese angelhair please

And a vichyssoise and a cabbage and a crawfish claws.

--"Johnny Saucep'n," by Moxy Früvous

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I'm so sorry the pumpkin cranberry muffins did not turn out.  You'll have to PM me what happened! 

Oh, hell, I'll just TELL you what happened to the muffins. I had never used fresh pumpkin before and didn't drain it enough; hence, the middle of the muffins never quite got solid, even when the tops, um, burned.

I still ate them. Destroying the evidence, you know.

Lunchtime will be a trip to the green market at Dag Hammerskjold Plaza!

I see, well, I've not used fresh pumpkin either. I used canned (Libby) for the recipe, maybe that was the problem. Burned pumpkin doesn't sound too appetizing. :sad:

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Heck Kathleen, my cooking mistakes are plastered all over the place for people to laugh at. :blink: What are some of your favourite things to eat? So we can help suggest maybe some things for you to try!

You go girl.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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