Chard Cakes with Sorrel Sauce

Debbie saw this recipe in the New York Times and talked the Crummy One into making it last night.  I have to admit the title of the food wasn’t very appealing.


It doesn’t look too bad in their picture.  But things were more challenged chez moi.

The core problem was structural integrity.  You’re supposed to make the chard, pine nuts, cheese, bread crumbs, and egg into patties, but mine wouldn’t hold together; they didn’t even pretend to hold together.  I put in an extra egg.  I put in more panko (we were using panko instead of dry white bread crumbs, which possibly caused the problem…).  All to no avail.

I ended up frying heaps of chard cake batter in the pan.

Tasted pretty good, as it happened.  The sorrel sauce, as promised, was something you might want to put on a bunch of things.  Debbie approved.

We’ll try again some time with new approaches to the binding.

Slow-cooked lamb stew

Yesterday I expected Debbie home about 8 pm (it turned out to be more like 10, thanks to those lovely weather systems we’re getting more and more of nowadays).

Plus I had the yen to slow cook something.  We have a crockpot from the dawn of time (I think we got it as a wedding present in 1982), and the idea that I’m a crock-pot cook or a slow cook or whatever is deeply appealing to me.

In any case, I had seen a recipe in a magazine I picked up in Whole Foods for slow-cooked lamb shanks, but you had to cook them three different ways in the recipe (brown them, then bake them, then broil them) with various manipulations in between.

The heck with that.  But it fixated me on lamb.  I started looking around in our cookbooks for slow-cooked lamb recipes, and came up with a relatively simple “Neapolitan Lamb Stew” in a book on slow cooking from Ten Speed Press.

Harry, my guest blogger, business partner, and friend, tells me that “Neapolitan” is a code word for “tomato sauce”, and, indeed, this recipe had 2 lbs of tomatoes in there.  But also red wine, rosemary, and boatloads of lamb stew meat.

Recipe ordinaire, I was fretting, but 8 hours of slow cooking in the crockpot turned it into what Joy of Cooking or somebody called a “Heavenly slumgullion” after a while.  It was really good. All the gnarly bits were rendered out of the lamb chunks, the sauce came together, and it was A-1.

Soft-shelled Crabs

On Friday night I did soft-shelled crabs, which I love.  Once Black Salt Fish Market cleaned the crabs (which, the guy told me, was “easy” if you had a scissors) they were pretty easy to prep.  I dipped them in milk, dredged them in panko, and fried them in a mix of butter and oil.  One of the two came out just about perfect, the other was not well-done enough: it would have squeamed out Debbbie but I was able to eat it fine, it wasn’t like raw or anything.

Sorry, no pix.

Miso Stew

I was alone most of this week (Debbie in CA again, business and family), so cooking away.

On Wednesday night I was inspired by a couple of huge cans of miso we have in the fridge.  What can we make?

From Epicurious comes the Miso Stew recipe.  It’s essentially a very hearty miso soup with oodles of “sea vegetables” (aka seaweed), tofu, and, surprise of surprises, quinoa (I’m sure that’s not too authentic).

image Here’s their version of it.

And here’s mine:


Aside from irrational exuberance with the asune flakes, it doesn’t look too shabby.

Tasted good, but not remarkable.  I guess there isn’t a remarkable miso soup unless you count “perfection of small things”.

Thoughts on Journalism 2.0

By commenting on a blog posting on Internet Evolution about one of our companies, statSheet, I ended up having a great conversation with Joe Grimm the author, who ended up inviting me to an online chat about Valhalla and Journalism 2.0.  I had never done a chat before, but it’s essentially marathon top-speed IM-ing with a live audience whose comments are moderated but real-time.

Terrific group.  Mainly journalists trying to figure out how to make sense of the new world.  The remark I made that was most enthusiastically received by the group was that the transformation of the journalism industry produced “opportunities to make lots of money”.  Good luck, I know the journalists of the world will migrate to the new world of Journalism 2.0 and make out well.

Here’s a widget with the whole chat:


Guest Blog: Harry on Zeppole

March 19 is the feast day of St. Joseph, celebrated as a holiday in Italy, and in fact Italian Father’s Day. Italians enjoy the day with an abundance of Italian breads and cookies. In some households a “table” laden with these treats is dedicated to the Saint. Sometimes an open house is held and friends and family are invited to partake of the offering. The most famous of the foods served on that day is zeppole (Zeppole di San Giuseppe). The zeppole is a cream puff-like shell usually filled with one of two types of cream, pastry and cannoli, and topped with a bit of sour cherry preserves.

We were recently invited to a belated Saint Patrick’s Day dinner, and decided to expand the ethnic fare with a plate of homemade Zeppole, pictured below.

clip_image001Zeppole di San Giuseppe  were invented in 1840 by Don Pasquale Pintauro. His pasticceria (pastry shop) still stands on Via Toledo in Naples. My wife and I visited the shop on a trip to Naples last fall. It was October, so they were of course not serving zeppole. We were able to enjoy the shop’s delicious Sfogliatelle. But I guess that is a topic for another entry on the Crummy Cook.

Quinoa Wars, Part 2 (The Revenge of the Inca)

I’ve become determined to make quinoa tasty, or at least find one or two palatable uses for it.

My inspiration this week was Chinese fried rice, where you take leftover rice and stir fry it with vegetables, etc.  Why couldn’t you do the same thing with leftover quinoa (which  I had from The Qunioa Wars Part 1)?

Well, one of the few forms of cooking I knew something about pre-CrummyCook was stir frying.  I read a paperback back in the ‘70’s with a “theory” or stir frying: a generalized approach to the cooking method that helped you improvise.

So you cut up everything your going to cook into bite-size (and cooking-size) bits.  You heat up some oil in a wok (which is better than a frying pan because you can push food out from the center and let it rest (relatively) while other stuff cooks) and cook the things in a sequence determined by their cooking time and their contribution to the taste.  So: garlic and onion and ginger first, then meat, then vegetables in order of longer cooking time, then tofu or whatever.  Then you put a sauce in (1 part soy sauce to 1 part sherry or mirin to 2 parts chicken stock + minced ginger and other tastes) and cover the wok so everything steams in the sauce for a while, then you open up and finish (cornstarch, garnish, whatever).

OK.  So I did onions, cauliflower sliced thin, and then the quinoa.  When I put in the sauce it formed, to my astonishment and dismay, a kind of slurry.  Either I had erred on the side on too much sauce or somehow the quinoa was forming a new form of matter with the liquid.

It didn’t taste too bad (i.e., the quinoa was subdued) but if I try this approach again I’ll put some stronger vegetable tastes in there (and probably some meat too) and try even harder to throttle back the — well, soap – taste in the mix.

Convergence of the Network, Divergence of the Client

Valhalla’s Art Marks had an insight about one way the Internet transforms existing businesses: it weakens the value of special-purpose networks.

Consider what is happening with pay TV today.  Today some $56B flows into the cable providers, satellite providers, and other “MVPD” organizations who essentially control special-purpose networks for distribution of video entertainment content.  The “entertainment-weighted” equivalent flowing into Internet Service Providers for so-called “over-the-top” video is something like $5B.

It doesn’t take a genius, reflecting on the history of music distribution, software distribution, and news distribution, to conclude that most of the $56B will flow over to the Internet providers over the next four or five years, and the Internet will eat the lunch of yet another special-purpose network.  What VPNs did to VANs, what VoIP does to TDMA, an Internet video stack will do to pay TV.

At the same time that networks are converging, the devices attached to the Internet are diverging.  Yesterday we had PCs, then laptops, then netbooks.  Now we have smartphones and tablets.  Tomorrow we will have so-called net-tops (desktop appliances with Internet access and cloud-oriented computing), connected TVs and set-tops.  And the day after that, perhaps the full-blown “Internet of Things”.

It makes sense, and to paraphrase what, for example, David Isenberg said in 1997: “dumb network, smart edges”.