Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Dottore Gustavo's Last Meal of 2013


Meals.

Last meals.

A study in fritters...

I woke up New Years Eve day with the fog of New Years Eve eve upon me (office is closed for New Years Eve and New Years Day, so I decided I should celebrate this disaster of a year - no, decade - early).

No kind of breakfast would be had until significant progress was made on the high stack of dishes in the sink and after a good 15 to 20 minutes of scrubbing my motivation to do anything complex had waned substantially.

Here is where I play a game I play well: pantry roulette. 

A smidge of left over refried black beans, some mashed potatoes, eggs, rapini that was rapidly going limp.

Breakfast: Fritter of Beans and Potatoes with Broccoli Rapini -

  • 1 large egg.
  • 1/4 cup of all purpose flour.
  • 1/3 cup refried black beans.
  • 1/4 cup mashed potatoes.
  • Pinch of salt.
  • A few dashes of Tapatìo hot sauce.
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder.
  • 3-4 stems of broccoli rapini.

Mix egg, flour, beans, potatoes, salt, baking powder and hot sauce.

Fry one large fritter on a hot skillet or cast iron pan with a small amount of oil or butter. Reduce initial heat to medium high and cook about twice as long as you would a similarly sized pancake.

Cut tough ends of rapini and steam in the skillet with some cold water (about 1/4 cup) until water is evaporated and then sautée over high heat until the rapini browns slightly. Salt to taste and spoon over fritter.

Garnish with a pat of butter and serve with a refreshing seltzer with a splash of orange juice. There will be time to drink later...

Basically this is a giant glass of rye whiskey.
Things go significantly downhill from here. Let's start with my après breakfast, while I was still sober, when I wrote this about the end of the year on Facebook:
Well, this decade has certainly been an unmitigated fucking disaster and the shit-show that was 2013 is no exception; perhaps the worst year in a string of years that has kept me perpetually, it feels like, behind the 8-ball, on my heels and spun around backwards at once.

But there have been little silver linings... I've discovered the gym, and although I don't go as often as I should, I do go. I have a newfound desire to beat life at it's own cruel game, not just for me but for my too many fallen comrades whose fight is over (this year has been no exception).

I'm eating more vegetables!

And I've seen this year bring new lives, perhaps rebalancing the vast vacuum left by those who have left... there's something to be said about seeing a new pair of eyes stare up at you in wonder and grab at your face.

I'm watching my blood pressure. I want those eyes to see me for many years to come. Maybe many years from now a new generation of small humans will grab at my age-whitened beard with their chubby little fingers.

I will never get answers as to why... why some people have to die, why we get pushed around this planet like a pinball... why life has to kick you in the balls again and again, but it's better than nothing and hey, look, it's a palm tree!

I'm going to ride my bike in the sunshine, for I need to honor this year properly with a glass of bubbling sunlight. We had a good row, this year. You certainly put me through the paces. A worthy opponent deserves a worthy toast.

Good riddance, 2013. Bring it on, 2014.
Yep. Take that, 2013!

So I left my house on bike, with the sun still out.

I roll my bike out of the garage, lean it against the garage car door and lock up. I make sure my helmet is fastened and I roll west toward the Mission.

I rolled up to the precipice of a large hill. I wait at the top for the light below to turn green. I spot my friend Snowball Tim, acknowledge him and them bomb down the hill past him as he looks on in disbelief. I reach a good 35mph by the bottom of the hill (this is why I wait for the light to change) and speed past the MUNI repo, brakes squealing.



Ostensibly I am leaving the house to get "champagne" and food items for dinner, but really I'm going to a local bar to get a few cocktails in me first.

I meet a woman I haven't spoken to in months. A stranger comes up to me and kisses my cheek.

Is it going to be one of those nights?

I pump jukeboxes full of Sonic Youth - saving San Francisco from itself one jukebox at a time.

Finally I break free and head to Duc Loi... I'll need corn, cream, shrimp, booze and a few other random items.

The following is the result of some serious drunk shopping and cooking.


Sweet Corn and Carrot Hash Crêpe "Enchiladas" With Prawns and Chili Curry Cream Sauce:

Crêpe Batter -

  • 1/2 cup of AP flour.
  • 1/2 cup of half and half.
  • 1/4 cup of heavy cream.
  • 3 large eggs.
  • Salt.
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk "cream". (Why? It was in the fridge...)

Blend it and let it rest.


Shrimp Broth -

  • 6 whole (head on) 30-40 count shrimp.
  • 6 shell-on 12-15 count tiger shrimp.
  • 1/2 cup Italian parsley stems, chopped.
  • 1/2 medium shallot, chopped roughly.
  • 1 bunch carrot greens (tops), rinsed and chopped.
  • 1 1/2 quarts cold water.
  • A shot or two of vodka.

Bring greens, shallots and water to a boil.

Blanche shrimps in small batches for about 45 seconds to a minute, flipping shrimp over to get even pinkness on either side.

Set shrimp aside and cover broth.

When shrimp are cool enough to handle, separate the heads and shells from the shrimp meat. Put shrimp meat in refrigerator and put shells, legs and heads of shrimp into the broth.

Lower to a simmer and cover for about 15-20 minutes then strain broth into a measuring cup, You should have about 2 cups.


Carrot and Corn Hash -

  • 1 cup of frozen sweet corn kernels.
  • 1/2 medium shallot, diced.
  • 1 bunch of rainbow carrots, chopped into 1/2" pieces.
  • 4-5 large shiitake mushrooms, chopped into 1/2" pieces.
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced.
  • 1 serrano chile, seeded and deveined, small dice.
  • 1/2 pepperoncini chile, seeded and deveined, small dice.
  • Leftover greens or salad, about 1/2 cup.
  • 1/3 cup of roughly chopped Italian parsley.
  • Salt and pepper.
  • Shrimp broth, about 1/2-3/4 cups.
  • 1 shot of bourbon whiskey.

Go ahead and put on Hatful of Hallow. You're all alone at your apartment and this world is not for you and you are not for it. 

Where's your fucking roommate? Look at all this food I bought! At least I got booze.

The mushrooms get sautéed first, dry in a hot pan. Remove and set aside.

Next sautée the carrots, adding 1/3 a cup of shrimp broth and reducing.

Add the corn and, well, everything else. Sautée, add more broth, reduce then cover and hold at low heat while you make some fucken crêpes.

Totally screwed the pooch on the first one.
Crêpes.

You're going to fuck up the first one or two, for sure.

That's just how it goes.

Even Jacques Pepìn fucks up a crêpe now and then.

But eventually you'll pull your head out of your ass and start churning out some good looking crêpes.

Or maybe not. Maybe you have no talent at crêpe making what-so-ever. That's fine. Keep reading. Not everyone can get up every day and make perfect crêpes, or even passable crêpes. That's why they sell tortillas, avail yourself to them. Six of one, one half dozen of the other, really. Life is short.

At the end of this exercise you should have 8-10 decent 9" in diameter crêpes and a couple cups of filling, plus some par-boiled shrimps in the fridge.

Pick the 4-6 best looking shrimps and halve them lengthwise. Chop the rest and warm them on the stove with the corn and carrot hash.


L'Assemblage -

Fill each crêpe with 2-3 tablespoons of corn/carrot/shrimp hash and roll tightly.

Arrange in a casserole.

Garnish with the halved shrimps and then cover with the cream sauce...

Shrimp Cream Sauce -

  • Remaining shrimp broth (about 1-1 1/3 cup).
  • 1/4 cup of heavy cream.
  • 1/2 shot of bourbon whiskey.
  • 1 tablespoon of Tapatìo hot sauce.
  • A pinch of madras curry.
  • 2 tablespoons of cold butter.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Reduce the shrimp broth until napé - when a spoon is drawn across the sauce pan a dry trail remains momentarily. By volume, you are reducing 1 cup to about 1/3rd of a cup.

Add cream, curry powder, Tapatìo and whiskey and simmer momentarily until the thickness returns to napé.

Check the seasoning and adjust as needed.

Remove sauce from heat and mount with cold butter.

Pour over your rolled crêpes.

Put the whole thing under the broiler for 3-5 minutes and try not to burn it like I did.


...Is some idiot firing a gun outside? Get a grip this isn't even a real holiday. Leave your guns at home.

Nope... just some jerk lighting off M-80s and a crowd of kids on the other side of the highway waving around sparklers.

I watched the fireworks going off as traffic passed by on the US101. 

I went inside to finish eating my crêpe alone, listening to Hatful of Hallow.

Happy New Year, jerks.

--

Duc Loi Supermarket
2200 Missions Street
San Francisco