Tuesday, April 26, 2011

School Me-grilled roasted tomato, pesto, goat cheese sandwich




Southerners love to be Southerners.
They take pride in their roots and traditions.
They love their bourbon.
They love their food.
And they love there Southern Sayings.

Which is kind of like a foreign language.




I have come to a point in my life where I am shrewd enough to realize I don't know everything,  but naive enough to think I can still figure it all out.





Which leads me to a wonderful Southern twist on the word 'educate'.
School Me.
Translation: Please explain this to me.
If you live in NJ , you may say it like this: WTF?




I kid.
But not really.




The first time I heard this I was relaxing in my backyard with a neighbor who would quickly become a close friend and staple in my life. I was asking her to stay for dinner and telling her I was going to barbecue up some chicken.
"You're going to do what?" she quizzically inquired.
"Barbecue up some chicken. You know, the feathery little bird that struts around laying eggs and clucking all day?"- duh
She giggled, patted me on the knee and looked at me the way you might look at someone who has forgotten to put on their pants before leaving the house. -crazy.
"Lemme School you child: barbecue is a cuisine like Thai or Italian. NOT a method of cooking like roasting or sauteing. What you mean to say is grilling. You are going to grill some chicken for dinner. In that case, Yes, I'd love to stay. Should I mix up another batch of bloody marys?"




So, in the North you barbecue.
In the South you grill.
In both places a pat on the knee and a bloody mary will make you feel better.
Now you know.

grilled tomato, goat cheese and pesto sandwich

tomatoes (1 or 2)
goat cheese
pesto (3 cups basil, 2tbsp olive oil, pinch lemon zest. Pulse in blender until sort of smooth)
crusty bread
olive oil
salt & pepper

place a bunch of tomatoes on some tin foil. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then wrap up and place on the grill for about 10 -15 minutes until the skins have broken open and juice is everywhere.
To assemble the sandwich: crusty bread > goat cheese > tomato > pesto
drizzle olive oil on top, salt & pepper to taste.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bless your heart




Bless your heart-
is a perfect example of : It's not what you say, but how you say it.


You will hear this often down South and if you're unfamiliar with the phrase you will smile at the person who said this to you and walk away feeling good about yourself.
But you may have misinterpreted its true meaning.

Like ketchup, it's versatile. It can be used to augment something great, like a french fry or cover up something ugly, like head cheese.




French Fry Scenario:
I often encounter this when I'm at the grocery store with my kids. My five busy bees buzzing around helping get what we need and returning back to the beehive with their loot.
For an outsider it's mayhem.
For us: choreographed chaos.

Bless your heart - the man, woman, or child behind me will inevitably say. And what (I'd like to think) they mean is: 'Wow, that's a lot of kids! They are so helpful and well behaved...you are an amazing mother. '
Little do they know I have bribed my children with lollipops that are waiting for them in the car, my entire shopping trip took only 15 minutes, I forgot 75% of the items I originally came in for, and we left with enough marshmallows to last us through the next millenium. 
But the overall sentiment is positive and uplifting.
A warm fuzzy, if you may.




Head Cheese Scenario:
Perhaps you know someone who regularly likes to indulge in the evening cocktail right after breakfast.
You could say, "That Miss Sheila, she drinks like a fish...bless her heart"
And what you are doing is judging her by pointing out her drinking problem.
Alleged drinking problem.
Maybe it's a cultural thing to throw back a martini with your scrambled eggs...
What do I know?
And if you say it with a  twinkle in your eye and a smile on your lips, it won't even seem ugly.
Even though it is.
An ugly, Ugly, cold prickly.
Yes, ma'am.




I am drawn to the duplicity of this idiom. And if I am to be honest, I will admit that I am more suited toward the latter usage.
The Head Cheese scenario.
But since I'm a Jersey girl at heart it sounds ridiculous rolling off my tongue no matter what the intent.
In fact, every time I use it,  I do so in jest.
Poking fun at myself for being an impostor.
So I'll raise my glass to you Miss Sheila when my 5 buzzing bees, arms overloaded with bags of jumbo sized marshmallows, topple you over at the grocery store in the morning, spilling your drink,  desperately trying to earn their lollipop.
Bless my heart. 




Mimosa with pomegranate juice


fresh squeezed orange juice
pomegranate juice
Proseco

here's what I do:
1/3 part OJ + 2/3 part Proseco + splash of pomegranate juice.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Ugly- Parmesan and Goat Cheese Pizza



 I love Ugly.

As in, "I don't care if you think Uncle Sal smells like a skunk... don't be ugly, give him a hug!"
Or, " I don't mean to be ugly, but Uncle Sal really does smell like, a skunk."




Ugly encompasses all bad behavior.
Rude.
Obnoxious.
Disrespectful.
Mean.
Gossipy.
Catty.




It's a frank, poignant and powerful word.
It will stop any 9 year old in his tracks after talking back.
Well, okay, maybe that's an exaggeration.




What I really love is that it describes a behavior.
Not a physical attribute.
We may not be able to change the crookedness of our nose or the natural color of our eyes, but we all have the ability to change our behavior.
Or make a point of letting someone else know they need to changes theirs.




Inevitably,  at some point during the week while I am preparing a meal, one of my crew will respond with an all out Oscar worthy gagging production complete with bulging eyes and a reddened face caused by the clipping of the air supply with a choke hold grip on the throat.
Theirs, not mine.
I'm still taller than they are.
For now.




It may be caused by the vegetable soup or the lentils I am making.
In any event, it's ugly.
However, the one dish I can consistently prepare without drama is pizza.




Naturally.
I'd like to believe it's because we can make it to suit our tastes .
We get be an individual.
Which is big deal when you are one of five.

I have one child who prefers only sauce.
One only cheese.
One neither. Just spaghetti and olive oil, thank you very much.
And the babies? Well, they still have that wonderful Labrador quality about them.
They will eat anything..




And so here is another pizza recipe slightly different from this one.

Pizza with Parmesan and Goat Cheese
*the trick to stellar pizza is to put the cheese on FIRST. Trust me.

flat bread
goat cheese
parmesan cheese
tomato sauce
dried basil
olive oil
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
Assemble your pizza in this order:
flat bread > goat cheese > parmesan cheese > sauce > parmesan cheese > olive oil > salt & pepper
Bake for 8-10 minutes 
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