Archive for the ‘Herbs’ Category
Going to a major supermarket in a large city on a Monday is fucking miserable. Especially after a long weekend dedicated to consuming your not so healthy regiment of grilled foods and alcohol. Everyone is pushing through each other, families with screaming kids take up entire ailes, and the lines are a rabid clusterfuck of impatience and frustration.
But there I was, wandering around in this chaos, trying to figure out what the hell I’d be eating for dinner and pretty bored with my options. I wanted meat and I wanted grillable, but everything I was seeing (chicken, pork, steak) I had cooked or eaten recently. I wasn’t in the mood for a three hour slow cook either.
And then, in the corner of my eye, I spotted them: precut, bone-in lamb chops the size of lollipops, only one package remaining, looking up at me. I stared in disbelief. Most French trimmed whole rack of lamb chops I have played with were pathetically tiny, but these beauties were actually a decent size! It may actually take one or two bites to consume the medallion. I looked around like someone about to steal a purse and snatched the chops up without another moment of hesitation.
There’s something about having a not so sober conversation with the old school, neighborhood lush about the quality and freshness of your local seafood that’s both amusing and troubling. On the one hand you’re thinking maybe this guy knows a thing or two and I should heed his advice; on the other (and this is coming from years of bartending experience) you want to just write the guy off and chalk it up to drunk banter. “No, I get it, check the eyes, yes I understood the first 37 times you mentioned it.”
Either way, it did get me thinking, there’s a few ingredients out there you do really need to be careful about when purchasing and storing. Fish: clean eyes and fresh smell = good. Crustaceans: moving around and smell fresh = good. Other major meats are fairly obvious as well, but clams and mussels. That’s a bit trickier. Freshness with those guys is very much necessary simply because a dead one can lead to a horrible world of pain and the red flags aren’t as obvious.
But have no fear mussel lovers! A little prep when coming home with fresh mussels means you can eat well and safe all week long. Top things you need to know about buying and storing mussels:
- Check your mussels, they should be tightly closed! If cracked or stay open after tapping them, that’s a deal breaker ladies.
- Mussels need to breath, so if wrapped in a plastic bag they will suffocate. The good stuff is in a mesh bag, rinsed with water and ideally displayed up front and not in a back room out of eye shot.
- If you’re not cooking your mussels immediately, place them in a bowl with a layer of aluminum foil and wet paper towel or newspaper on the bottom, as well as another paper towel on top and they’ll keep in your fridge for about 5 days. ALWAYS check them again before using to discard the opened, dead ones.
Ok, you’ve made your gnocchi now you need something to complement your fresh potato dumplings. If you have the right tools and a few key ingredients, a pesto is brilliantly quick and pretty versatile as far as what it can complement when you get it right. My favorite thing about pesto is there aren’t really and rules. You need a herb, some nuts and some oil. The rest is really up to you. Basil is the most popular, as are walnuts and pine nuts, basic ingredients. And to me, the dish isn’t complete without chopped, roasted garlic. Toss it with pasta, gnocchi, or use it as a spread to slather on a sandwich or in a salad.
Also, you don’t need a food processor to make pesto. It’s great if you have one handy, but a mortar and pestle work great as well. If nothing else, chopping and mashing the ingredients together with a knife and spoon can get the job done. Just follow the steps accordingly and put some elbow grease in there (not literally, that’s gross.. what’s wrong with you?).