Friday, August 17, 2007

Three Latest and Best

After the last month's whirlwind of eating, drinking, and people, I've been hibernating! Ahh, sweet, blessed silence with no obligations of events, cocktails, or dinner. I'm *almost* ready to jump back in the fray, but in the meantime, here are my three dishes or ingredients of the week (and one two-minute warning):

Guacamole: Whether it's the simple diced avocado salad from El Maguey or my own tomatillo loaded, limey goodness, I am in love with avocados this summer. A little salt, a little acid, add some onion, pepper, and even tomato and with a boat load of cilantro, you're in business. And just remember, it's all *good* fat.

Mashed Potatoes: Most people either grew up in a mashed potato family or didn't. I didn't. We were a white rice family (because my parents lived in the south for a long time) and then later, when my mother discovered the microwave or they'd grill steaks every night, we were a baked potato family. My only exposure to mashed potatoes were the terrible kind we got with school lunches -- no wonder I didn't like them! A friend in the same situation but married to a dedicated mashed potato eater gave me a hint: Use the *good* instant kind, doctor them up with bacon, butter, and sour cream and they'll usually never know the difference. After the excellent mashed potatoes I gorged on at Ruth's Chris last week (which were real, natch), now I'm craving them but who wants to spend the time making the real deal? I know, instant mashed potatoes are so declasse, but doctored up, they've satisfied my own little mashed potato craving. I can hardly wait until winter for mashed sweet potatoes (which sadly, I'll probably have to do by hand.)

Corn, Sweet, Corn: I've enjoyed the hell out of fresh corn this summer. I like corn on the cob but get sick of picking it out of my teeth all the time. So, my favorite technique has been to boil water, drop in the cob, quick cook it -- that is less than five minutes, until it turns bright yellow, then cut the corn off the cob and mix it with butter and a little sea salt. Mmmm. Sweet, crunchy goodness. Makes a helluva mess, but hey, I have to clean the kitchen some time, right?

Two Minute Warning: This isn't a full two-minute warning, but just a general note about Weber Grill. I was expecting something else, maybe another nice-ish steakhouse, but was surprised to find it's the Cheesecake Factory of downtown. If you try to go on, say, a Saturday night, expect to find a restaurant full of tourists wearing shorts and golf shirts, holding souvenir bags, and stacked like cord wood in the front entry way, waiting area, and even outside. You'll know them by the plastic buzzers they're holding while they wait endless hours for a table. (The wait was close to two hours the night we were there.) They take reservations, but 9:00 or later was the first they could take us the day we called. The bar is not really conducive to drinking or waiting (unless you can get a table and then you might as well eat), so don't expect to sit and cocktail while you're waiting your two hours for a cheeseburger. With so many fantastic steakhouses downtown ready to fill that craving for meat, we left the tourists to their wait lines, and opted for steak somewhere a little more upscale. And, we got a table right away.


Donald said...

OMG! Instant mashed potatoes? For shame. Quit being lazy and take the time to make them right. Russets, mashed with a potato ricer, with loads of butter and sour cream (no milk), a little olive oil, then salt and white pepper. Try that and I guarantee you'll never eat instant again.

BTW - I got that simple recipe from the best chef in town.

Anonymous said...

To satisfy your craving for real mashed taters without the labor there is nothing better than Yoder's brand real mashed potatoes. They are so good we even use them at Tanksgiving now! I have found Yoder's brand at Marsh and Meijer.