Sunday, July 31, 2011 Oops!
I'll admit it. I have totally neglected my blog over the past week or so. Sorry :(
I've had a big week! Big week for Vanessa David the playwright. We performed my new play Connect Couples (dot) Com at the Piedmont Club in Darien and at the Mystic Performance workshop in Mystic. If you're not familiar with the state take a look at a map - I-95 runs along the shoreline, Darien is exit 10 and Mystic is exit 89. Quite a trip.
Dinner parties were forced into the back seat during the month of July, partly because of the show and partly because of the HEAT! It gets hot in my place as it is - add in the heatwave and a dozen guests and you can see why this wasn't a doable option.
I did have a great time cooking up my blueberries! Two pies, blueberry BBQ sauce, pasta salad...I feel like I'm forgetting something. I did take video while picking at Jones Family Farms - if I can manage to focus my brain I might make something out of it. Right now my mind is trying to work on rewrites of my play so I can send it off and start collecting my royalties! The play has commercial potential - isn't offensive, no swears (besides pussy and asshole) and it can be easily produced. But I always have trouble parting with any of my words... So the rewrites are slow going.
We've had a little pizza drama here in Stamford. Colony pizza is an institution down here. Thin crust bar pizza that locals will swear by, complete with terrible service and old school ambiance. For YEARS Colony didn't even have menus. They had their toppings, you knew them, and some old guy would write your order down on a paper plate and, if you were lucky, he'd eventually bring it to you.
Fast forward to now and there's a new place opened up across town that has the same thin crust pizza, but better. Plus you can get crazy things like salad. AND they deliver. Word travels fast and before you know it Colony is suing them. It's all in the paper.
Shut the fuck up, Colony! It's called the free-market douchebags! How's about bringing back the quality of your pizza (which stinks these days) and try giving good service, or at least passable service, and give your customers what they want! Because now we have somewhere else to go.
We actually tried. We called Rico's (the new guy) and were put on hold...so we gave up. I'll give them one more chance before I just resign myself to making my own damn pizza - which IS the best in town :)
Tonight I'm planning on making a breakfast pizza - bacon, eggs, maybe some deep fried mashed potato tots :) I've discovered another way to proof my dough. I put it in one of those clear domed cake stands on the porch and let the sun and the heat do its thing. Worked last time :)
So, again, I apologize for my lack of focus. I'll be getting back on track, yet I'm committed to my inner playwright getting her due. So this should be interesting. Vanessa David - Playwriting, Performing, Culinary Artist :) Oh, yeah. And my certificate came in the mail! Boo yeah!
Thursday, July 21, 2011 Blueberry Creations (Part One)
Yesterday my husband and I were up at the crack of dawn so we could go to Jones Family Farms to pick blueberries. This was my first time picking blueberries. Last year we went strawberry picking, but the season passed us by this year so I was extra happy we were able to find our way to the fields before the end of the blueberry season.
We picked over three pounds! Now what?
My first blueberry creation was a pasta salad with fresh blueberries. I made it last year for Blueberry Night! This time I left out the chicken. First I made the pasta, about a half a cup for the two of us. In a mini-blender I combined onion, garlic, basil, salt, pepper and olive oil and gave it a good go 'round until it was all finely chopped. Throw that in with the cooked pasta and add some finely chopped carrot and red pepper and then let it all chill. I had some shredded lettuce left from the previous nights tacos, so I put that in a big bowl and topped it with the pasta mixture. Dress it with oil and vinegar, toss, add fresh blueberries, shred some Parmesan cheese on top, toss again. Bang! Really nice, refreshing, crunchy, chewy, tangy, spicy. I ate two bowls of it, and so did my husband.
As for my second blueberry creation...I'm gonna cut myself some slack. Of course I made it up in my crazy mind and it didn't totally turn out the way I expected. BUT it was still super tasty, not too sweet, refreshing and nummy beyond belief.
Blueberry Cream Pie was what I was going for...here's how I went about it. I used this recipe for the pie crust, plus a pinch of cardamom. When you make it it'll be a pile of crumbs and you'll say to yourself "this Headbanging Hostess is crazy! How is this gonna make a pie crust?" but trust me, it'll work. Push the crumbs into the pan and trust that it's gonna work.
After that was done I let it sit to cool and I made a pastry creme. At this point I have to hope my college baking teacher isn't reading this because I had me some pastry creme trauma. I'm just being honest. I'm not saying you shouldn't try or it's too hard. I'm just saying I had a tough time with it but I DIDN'T GIVE UP! It's only food! You gotta keep at it!
I won't go through all my mistakes, but I'll tell you what worked in the end.
1 cup milk (whole milk, don't use 1% like I did)
2 Tablespoons corn starch
Put the milk and sugar in a heavy bottomed pan and slowly bring to a simmer. While that's going on, whisk the eggs and corn starch together in a separate bowl. Once the milk mixture comes to a simmer carefully whisk it into the eggs, slowly so the eggs don't scramble, and then return the whole lot to the stove until it's thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Then put it all in a chilled bowl to cool in the fridge.
You just made pudding. It should thicken up as it cools. If it doesn't, don't freak out, just send someone out to get you pudding from the store :)
Then whip up a pint of whipping cream. Fold about half of the (unsweetened) whipped cream together with the homemade (or store bought) pudding. Add a couple spoons of sugar and a cap of vanilla extract to sweeten it just a tad. The goal here, as with most of my fruit desserts, is to allow the berry to speak for itself, or as in this case, sing for itself.
Next I filled the pie crust with berries, poured the pudding cream in an topped it all with the last of the (unsweetened) whipped cream. You may want to fold the berries and pudding cream together first. The cream didn't quite surround the berries as I'd hoped and the pie crust and pie innards never quite connected because the berries were in the way which made for an interesting plating experience.
BUT! As always, it was super tasty. A gallant first try! And I still have ton of berries to play with! Stay tuned!!!
Saturday, July 16, 2011 Big Things on the Horizon!
One week from today my new play Connect Couples (dot) Com will premiere at the Piedmont Club in Darien, CT. My friend and fellow playwright Kato McNickle made this fabulous poster, first thing I saw today on Facebook, can't think of a better way to start the day.
I'm very proud of this play and I hope you are able to come and see it. Call the Piedmont at 203-655-7884 to make a reservation. If you can't get through e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll make the reservation for you. We're also performing it on Monday July, 25th somewhere in Mystic, CT. How funny is that? I don't even know where it is. I'll post the information as soon as I have it.
And speaking of the Piedmont...
Sometime in the fall we will be holding the first ever Headbanging Hostess Night at the Piedmont! That's right! No longer will my guests be crammed into my little apartment, baking in the heat and smoking in the garden. There'll be plenty of room to romp and enjoy my food along with the cash bar.
You know it!
This time the food will be on us. Let's show the folks at the Piedmont that people will come out to eat my food, enjoy their club, and spend money at the bar. Are you catching my drift? If we can make it a successful night we can do it again! And next time, no the food is not on us. It's time for me to start making a living and I ain't gonna do that by giving away my fantastic food. So start saving your pennies, kids, because Mamma is hitting the big time.
And speaking of the big time. I'm thrilled to announce Sacrament from Finland has agreed to let me use their music in a video! In addition to that I've got music from Headstone Hawkins, Mongrel and Dark Blu in the cue! Rock on, mother fucker \m/
Friday, July 15, 2011 Grilled Pork Chops, Peaches and Squash
As you can see, I didn't end up stuffing my squash. Well, I stuffed it onto my face, along with a pork chop and a peach.
There's just something groovy about having your husband out on the grill, cooking away. I did the prep work - sliced the squash into steaks and seasoned it, seasoned the pork chops with some Worcestershire sauce and cinnamon, allspice, black and red, ancho, cumin and salt and then sliced the peaches in half and dipped them in vanilla extract.
As you can see, they were all grilled very nicely. The peaches could have been a bit more ripe, but I liked the toothiness (is that really a word?) and, of course, the sweet and the savory were playing off each other like Satriani and Vai (best example I can come up with right now).
I still have one more patty pan squash in my fridge. We'll see if I get inspired to do something else with it!
Thursday, July 14, 2011 Farmers Market in Full Swing
I love me some patty pan squash. In the past I've stuffed them with mac-n-cheese and chili but I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do with these bad boys yet. I could go ahead and make my faux-chetta which was a hit last year around this time, or I could go off the deep end and make something totally new. I'll keep you posted.
If you haven't gotten to your local farmers market yet this summer you'd better get a move on! It's amazing how quickly things go in and out of season. Last weeks cherries are gone and blueberries are in. Squash is everywhere in every shape, size and color. Garlic, onions, lettuces, beets, Swiss chard, tomatoes, cucumbers. I'm tellin' ya! Get your ass down there before the season is over and your stuck with supermarket produce.
Thursday, July 7, 2011 Eating Healthy Takes Time (and a little money)
Yesterday I promised my husband two healthy meals - and I delivered, of course.
Wednesday is Farmers Market day in Darien, 11-6 in the lot behind the firehouse, across from Goodwives Shopping Center. But I began my shopping at Stop & Shop across the street. We all know how our trips to the Farmers Market can quickly get out of control budget wise. So I wandered aimlessly around the produce department, as usual, until it hit me. I was going to recreate the veggie melt that my husband missed so much from his days back at Tumbleweeds.
Tumbleweeds was a bar in Bridgeport, that closed before I even met my husband 16 years ago, but it was home to him for a rough period in his life so, even though I have little understanding of bar culture, I tried my best to bring back the feeling of home away from home.
I crammed my basket full of veggies - I figured I'd make a salad for lunch and the veggie melt for dinner. So I bought celery and broccoli and sweet peppers and Swiss cheese and a portobello mushroom cap and corn (20 cents each, how could I resist?) and an onion and...I think that was everything. Oh, and the wheat pita. 21 bucks and change...not too bad.
Then I wandered across the street to the Farmers Market. They key to the market for me is first wandering around all the booths to find what I'm going to buy and from whom I am going to buy it. I have my favorite farmers and I like to spread the money around. So I ended up buying a tomato and a cuke from one guy for $1.95, a squash and some green beans from another woman for 95 cents, a couple carrots from another booth for 50 cents and then a quart of cherries for 5 bucks.
I don't think I've ever gotten out of the Farmers Market that cheap!
So, I get home and start to prep the salad. I had half a head of iceberg that I trimmed up and I added some lettuce from my garden to give it some color. I sliced up the cuke, some pepper, threw in some carrot ribbons, tomato, celery. I made pasta and dressed it with an onion, arugula and basil concoction - this salad probably took me a good 45 minutes to make! (This is why I'm not Food Network Competition material.) It was damn tasty, though! Worth the effort, and our bodies needed the veggies after the holiday weekend.
Dinner might not have taken as long - I really should time what I'm doing, but I'm usually too busy cooking to take pictures, never mind keeping score. I prepped all my veggies separately - putting each one into its own bowl. Little bits of broccoli, sliced peppers and onions, squash circles, mushroom chunks and corn off the cob.
I cooked all the veggies separately but in the same pan - putting the cooked ones into a big bowl and tossing them all together at the end. The pitas I bought were ridiculously thin, like tissue paper - I guess that's how they're low calorie, there's nothing to them. So I carefully opened them up and scooped the hot veggies inside. Then I stuffed them with slices of Swiss and carefully transferred them to my pizza stone in the hot oven for about 5 minutes to melt the cheese.
Hard to eat because of the pita, but a fork and knife managed to get the cheesy chunks of veggies into my mouth. I don't think I nailed the taste my husband was looking for, but I did manage to make us a nice healthy dinner.
Two healthy meals in a row! WTF? It's a good thing we polished off a bag of Swedish Fish for dessert...
By the way - Check out the article I wrote for CT Bites about Dinner on a Stick Night!
Friday, July 1, 2011 Grape Soda Night! - Featuring "Hit The Ground Running" and "Shadows" by ...
Posted by Headbanging Hostess at 9:21 AM