Thursday, June 25, 2009

How Can I Not Comment

...on Michael Jackson's passing today?

I was standing in line at a Ukrop's checkoout a couple of years ago. There were these two VCU-student-types in back of me, looking at tabloids, and they were saying, "Michael Jackson. He is so weird. Was he ever any good?" And I promptly turned around to face them squarely, and I said "He was fabulous." And he really was. Put aside the controversy, the surgeries, the weirdness. He was simply so bloody gifted. Poor kid--his gift deprived him of anything resembling a childhood.

My first album, played on my little plastic stereo from Sears, was ABC by The Jackson 5. I will never tire of that recording.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Greek Beans with a Chipotle Twist

Andy and I have been experimenting with dishes that meld diverse cultures together. Last weekend, he created an amazing cauliflower in a red sauce that was spiced with Indian flavors. Kind of an India meets Italy thing. He has named this new sauce Maharaja-nara sauce. Isn't he a clever-clogs? I hope to blog about maharajanara sauce soon. I hope he can remember how he made it!

Yesterday I was in my favorite little Greek food store--Nick's Produce on West Broad--and bought a pound of gigantes. Gigantes are huge white beans with a creamy, beautiful texture. After they have soaked overnight, they're even more freakishly huge.

I was going to make the beans the traditional greek way (delicious!) but this recipe from 101 Cookbooks caught my eye. I love the smoky hot flavor of chipotle, and this just sang to me. Giant white beans, baked with greens in a chipotle tomato sauce with queso fresco crumbled on top, served with a scattering of toasted whole wheat bread crumbs and drizzled with a cilantro pesto. Oh yes. Come to Janine.

It was a pretty easy recipe to knock together. While the beans are cooking, you make sauce and pesto. The chipotles in adobo sauce and the queso fresco are really easy to find if your grocery store has a hispanic section. The chipotles come in a little can, and the queso fresco usually is with the Mexican cheeses and is shaped like a little wheel. It is firm and crumbly with a light, slightly salty taste. Feta could be used as a substitute.

The bread crumbs are nice and crunchy because they're toasted in a skillet with olive oil. The pesto is a very liquid consistency and could be made in a blender. I used a hand blender in a coffee cup! Instead of chopping up fresh greens, I used frozen collards. They worked great!

I sat outside with Maggie and a Negra Modelo, watching birds while the beans baked.

This is what it looked like right out of the oven.

And here it is, served with a side of brown rice. I think it's a really pretty dish!

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Junk Food Junkie Antidote!

I grew up on crap food, and I freely admit that I loved it.

Every once in a while I'll drive past a Burger King or a McDonald's or Hardeee's and I will almost get sucked in by that comforting greasy smell. The smell that is exactly the same, whether you are in Richmond, Paris, London, or Singapore.

Next time you feel a binge coming on, go to a website called This is Why You're Fat. This website is a photo gallery of the most excessive, cholesterol laden, ridiculously overindulgent and thoroughly disgusting dishes ever created. Scroll down through one hideous dish after the next, and you will soon find yourself feeling queasy and yearning for something fresh and plant-like. If this website should happen to make you salivate and feel ravenously hungry, please seek counseling and/or incarceration immediately.

This example is called The Sandwich of Knowledge. "The bottom tier contains eight strips of bacon, six sausages and four burger paddies; followed by a second tier of black pudding; topped by a third tier comprised of two diced chicken breasts and six fried eggs."

Now, knowledge of what, I don't know. Maybe the knowledge that you are going to die of a massive heart attack while sitting on the terlet with your drawers around your ankles.