Tim's Food Corner

Please welcome guest blogger Shannon Fitz!
A Found-Dog Dinner
(photos by steve marks, dedicated to dan weiss)

Last week, our dog got loose. He slipped out of his collar while with the dog walker (who was subsequently fired). It was a stressful and awful week but all ended well when we found him, limping and tired, at the pound on Friday. We celebrated all weekend by lounging with the pup, soaking in his sweet unconditional love, and spoiling him with chicken for dinner.

But then Monday arrived and I had a whole trip-to-Stanleys fridge-worth of vegetables and was going out of town on Friday. So I decided to have an impromptu dinner party - Tim and Hannah (who were late, which was ok, because it allowed that extra baking time to make the polenta that much more crispy), Steve's sis Cayce (a master chef in her own right), and Steve "sofa king" Marks himself, joined me around the table. Here's what I put together. I guess the loose theme here was "southern":

Seitan "Buffalo" Chunks (ha, chunks):
I won't give away my exact recipes, mainly because I don't cook using recipes or measure anything, but also because my mother is extremely tight-lipped about some of her most famous culinary creations and I think it adds an air of mystery and glamour to the process. Here's a general overview of how I made these.

Make a buffalo-style hot sauce - mine contained some or none of the following: Cholula, Louisiana hot sauce, Texas champagne hot sauce, Italian dressing, ketchup, chopped up tomatoes, onion powder, cumin and coriander, white wine, and Worcestershire sauce. Take the prepared seitan out of the package and saute it in the sauce for 10 minutes or so. Be careful not to let the hot sauce burn on the pan by keeping the heat low. Once it reduces a bit and becomes more gravy-ish, it's ready to go. It'll be spicy, yowza!

Next up, Creamed Spinach (healthy style):

I used 2 whole bags of spinach, ripping off the stems and bad leaves, and could have easily eaten more but spinach cooks down so much. If you want leftovers here, use more than 2 bags of the healthy green leaf. I boiled the leaves in skim milk until they were soft, poured our any excess cooking milk, added some secret spices, lowfat sour cream and Parmesan cheese...garnish with a dollop (great word) of the cream and a sprinkle of parm. Deeeelish and nutrish.

Finally, the pièce de résistance, Mushroom, Barley, and Cabbage Soup with crispy polenta rounds, goat cheese and toasted pepitas(pumpkin seeds).

This is so easy to make and so yummy, you must try it right away. To the kitchen!

Start with a pot of broth - because I don't eat meat - I used "not chicken broth" which is a veggie broth and a little bit heartier than most vegetable broths. Cook some barley in the broth and add water as needed - be sure when you add water, to also add some salt and seasoning to maintain the brothiness. Once the barley is cooked (30 min or so) add a whole chopped head of whatever type of cabbage you like (red cabbage may be weird because it will dye your soup purple - but maybe that's your thing), a few onions chopped up, finely chopped mushrooms, and season it to your taste. Boil until everything is cooked and your kitchen smells like a polish grandmother's.

For the polenta rounds - slice premade refrigerated polenta into rounds about an inch think, brush with olive oil (I used truffle oil because I am fancy) and bake in the over (350 or so) until crispy. Season with salt and pepper.

When assembling the soup, use your creativity to make the presentation fancy-pants! I stuck two rounds in the soup, standing on their side, sprinkled with goat cheese, pepitas and chives from my "garden".

Healthy, filling, delicious, and always containing some sort of cheese pretty much sums up my cooking philosophy - bon appetite!

Here's a pic of our dog just so Tim's blog can start rivaling cuteoverload.com

One last quick note about the unique and eclectic Toy Tower on Ave B in NYC. Lindsay told me today that it's been torn down! I know Tim is a fan of this odd east village art tower, as were most people who saw it. Just seems like one more way that NYC is being stripped of some of the weird/unique things that makes it such a great place. Wah wah. Ok, here's a link to some pics of it.


Anonymous said...

You are the best guest blogger in the whole damn blogosphere! YYYYYYooowwwwwwwzzaqaaa!!!!


Alex said...

wow - u should write a book . The colors represented made me feel warm inside - - bet the meal was divine.


shooting from the hip said...

these photos are food network dot com worthy! GO STEVE! and yay I get to have shan for my very own this weekend WOO. x Ange F.

Anonymous said...

Shannon is a natural born food writer. Great Stuff.

Pat & Sheila

Tim said...

Kudos all around. KUDOS!
Seriously the food was very impressive. I ate it so I know!

Anonymous said...

Way to go...have a feast for your dog and all he gets is chicken?! I'm glad he made it home safe and sound. Things like that never happen in NY...come back (Steve)! Toy towers rock.

Tim said...

Also, re Toy Towers and our discussion of Epsom Salt foot baths, I found this old photo gallery from a visit to New York.


Anonymous said...

Spunky delivery, serious food! You are a natural writer, Shannon. And great photos, BTW, Steve. I'd say you two should be contributors to the Food Network.

Anonymous said...

...something about Twenty Rooms...

Really great!

Sarah said...

looks great, but next time I want a post about veggie medley, dammit!

Anonymous said...

Wow Shannon, more than a week ago and I'm still salivating! You're an amazing cook and a great writer. you should start you own blog - I'd subscribe. Keep it up girlie!