Arroz con Pollo

 

Of the two most joyful meals to cook over an open fire, choosing one over the other is always the same gut wrenching dilemma. For if you favor one, the other will surely stew in a fit of jealousy and next time you cook it, be prepared — for revenge is sweet and chooses its moment to strike, whether in confab with local weather systems like winds from nowhere, a sudden shower, or mysteriously misplaced kindling — or the coincidental malfunction of a refrigerator door left unhinged and dangling overnight, and now what sarcastically seeps out is the ring of skank from questionable clams within. For there is a lot in life that we mortals will never understand. After all, it’s a thin line. Although one thing I have learned over the years for sure: do not fuck with the kitchen gods.

Whether the job site is your back patio, a roof top, a local park or anywhere in the great outdoors, you go through the same rigmarole: should I choose chicken or should I use fish? If you go with chicken, you’re making Arroz con Pollo. If you use fish, you’re making Paella. Continue reading “Arroz con Pollo”

Merguez

 

On a visit to southwest France some Junes ago, I found my all time favorite sausage: Say the word once and you’ll see: Merguez. It’ll coat a guileless mouth in Moorish mystery and unctuous intrigue.

We stayed with our good friend Martine, who returned to her native France after a 30 year stint in London. Her house sits in a tiny village an hour’s drive from Toulouse. It’s an ancient stone structure with interior walls constructed of rough-hewn wood, river sand and horse’s hair. We were there for her daughter Aisling’s wedding and the house was filled with famished folks from England and France for days upon days. Such is life in the southwest. Continue reading “Merguez”

Camp Breakfast

 

 

Sometimes when camping, especially if there’s an early morning hike involved, we’ll settle for a quick working breakfast: a slice of cold Spanish tortilla, a hunk of cheese, or just a handful of Ionah’s granola and a cup of tea and hit the trail. But, there are times when camping has nothing on the books other than to rise, pee, perform ablutions (minimal) chop wood, make fire and cook breakfast over said fire’s coals.

We had brought wood gifts for the fire from the 7,000 foot high desert home of our good friends Frank and Ruth Ann, in Carbondale, Colorado, of seasoned juniper and piñon pine.

Juniper and piñon had been sustaining and warming the Arapaho and Cheyenne people who lived in this part of the world for centuries until the unwelcome arrival of the Europeans and the subsequent land-grab. Continue reading “Camp Breakfast”

Tortilla

 

Purple potato tortilla. July 4th. La Garita wilderness, Colorado…
cut the potatoes into small chips…

By the time you read this the July 4th holiday will be over. But the smell around here from fireworks, lighter fluid and charred flesh from wannabe grillers still fogs the air. Independence from under the English thumb will have been celebrated with beer, burgers, hot dogs and fireworks galore. When the sun goes down on the great day, our neighborhood becomes a war zone — an exaggeration, no doubt, in light of what some people in the world are going through — but the blasts are sudden and furious. Some are louder than gunfire, the reverb drives our dog to the safe places behind the couch, under the table and in the closet.

fry them in a cup of olive oil…

Couple of years back, a house half a mile from here had its roof burned off from a direct hit from a misguided rocket. Supposedly, It’s illegal to set off a firework in Denver, but you can buy them in Adams county — which is just down the road — the small ones anyway, like ground spinners, Catherine wheels, sparklers and glow worms. But that’s just small potatoes. Continue reading “Tortilla”

A Trumpet Chard Pie

I’ve been thinking lately about what to cook in my newly acquired outdoor Moroccan oven. If you haven’t seen one, It’s a small earthenware container that houses a little charcoal fire. You put a tagine (also earthenware) on top and voila — you get an outdoor slow cooking oven that is compact, transportable, low tech, and downright fun to use.

chard pie under the hood: slow cooking on a bed of coals…

Continue reading “A Trumpet Chard Pie”

Sardine Pâté

If you’re squeamish in the slightest about sardines—if a high omega 3 content, a healthy dose of vitamin D and a minuscule mercury level don’t persuade you— you could make this sardine pâté, which is milder by far, than eating them straight from the can.

Everyone, if you probe deeply enough, has a sardine story, and they’re not all pretty. Maybe yours is the time you opened a can for your father in law and the oil spurted down his new trousers.  You packed a can in your luggage on a flight and it burst open and soiled your only pair of clean underwear. The pull clip came off and you had to smash the can open with a rock. But there are good tales too and here’s mine. Continue reading “Sardine Pâté”

Make Offal Great Again!

Any fool can whip up a jar or two of chicken liver pâté. Growing up, it was a staple around the house, usually taken with a glass of sherry on Sundays after Mass, and from the age of ten or so, I was allowed a sip, just enough to wet my lips, enough to feel how it was to be a grown up.The combination of dry sherry with chicken liver pâté, taken on an empty stomach, after Mass or not, still sits in my inside pocket pleasure bank of memories, and still, to this day, generates interest and groovy salivations. In fact it’s one of the most pleasant memories I have of being a kid, along with the mischievous pleasure of stealing cigarettes from Sunday visitors, as my parents were strict non-smokers. Mother thought it a fearful habit. Continue reading “Make Offal Great Again!”