Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pancakes

Weekends we make pancakes. Two things I've learned in five years of making pancakes routinely: one, to employ two skillets at a time, in lieu of a proper griddle, and to not overstir. Leaving the mix a bit chunky ensures fluff. Oh, third thing: forget making pancakes without buttermilk. Fourth thing: buttermilk is low-fat. Look it up.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

El Guapo

We sent off a colleague, Barbara Allen, last night at El Guapo, one of Elliott Nelson's thriving joints. The place was packed. Getting a drink was like hailing a cab, never an easy thing to do in T-Town, even downtown. As I waited between rounds, I chewed on chips and salsa, tasting the comfortable corn and the zippy tomato dip. "Chips and salsa is in our blood," we will quote a local restaurateur next week in the Spot. Indeed, it is in all of ours. So many baskets of chips, cups of salsa, pints of lager and ale. Doses of salt and crunch and spice and malt. Stuff that fills the hungry haps in our hurry-up-and-wait lives.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Chicken

One is roasting as I write. What else smells so rich and rewarding as a chicken roasting? Crisp of skin, moist of meat, both white and dark, the seasoning pulling the bird to the fore, the gelatinous sinews that hold together bone and juice and gristle. Even the gristle! I, tonight, sing a psalm to gristle:

Here it cooking
a slow whistle
a smell of golden fat fading over threaded flesh
so white and in need
Open the oven cave and out comes
a rush of August wind and a
gnarl on each blackened end
of gristle.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Wine and food

I spoke Friday in Stillwater at the inaugural Oklahoma Wine Forum - about the one thing I actually have something informative to share, that being a year of living in a French wine village - and I happened to catch a lecture by Tim Hanni of Napa Seasoning. Hanni's worked in wine and food for 35 years and it's come to this: He believes that you can drink any wine you want provided that you cook accordingly, i.e., incorporate into your food the four innate senses of sour, sweet, salt and umami (he omits bitter, explaining that it's the one sense that tends to age along with the taster and, I guess, less predictable as an element of taste).

Yes, he has an agenda in that his Napa Seasoning (available in Tulsa at Akin's) is an effort to, essentially, render cooked food more wine-friendly. But his attack on the idea of food and wine pairing - and the often laughable vocabulary employed in order to make wine critics sound as learned and timely as possible - is worth noting, and his take on wine traditions as largely the masterminding of marketers and salesmen is a breath of fresh air.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Mojo

I had an avocado going south on me, and then I remembered Teresa Barrenechea's splendid treatise on Spanish regional cooking. Sometimes, cooking comes down to channeling, which recipes from which books, which flavors embedded in which crevices.

Mojo is Canarian, the Canary Islands part of Spain but southwest of the Moroccan coast. Fish and meat are the traditional protein for the mojo accompiment, they and the wrinkled, roast, salted potatoes famed of the isles.

Mojo verde, which I made, relies on avocado for silkiness, but it's largely a garlic, oil and sherry vinegar sauce, spiced with cumin and dried chile, and freshened with cilantro (or parsley).

I am about to slather it beneath - and perhaps even atop! - a Spanish tortilla, a dish whose praises I have sung before.