“Consider the eggplant, shiny purple, tight skin. Like something Prince would wear.”
Aaaah, it seems like yesterday we uttered those words. They ring with the poignancy of Edison’s “Mr. Watson, come here. I want you.” It may just as well as been yesterday as it was three years, and four kitchens ago that we shot our first episode of DIO! Where does the thyme go, I tell you. It goes in the pantry, you know that.
Sista Sal and I lived together in a tiny little cottage on the sleepy CT Shoreline. Yes, Yankee Key West as I liked to call it. And I maintained the outdoors for she and I. We had hanging baskets, decorative barrels, pots, cans and window sills. There was a festive Perennial Love Garden chock filled with hasta, Allium and black-eyed susan’s. I grew giant-sized sunflowers that stopped traffic. There was bamboo. Side note, the bamboo grows spreads like, well you know, it spreads crazy like. It spread under the neighbors fence who thought he might harvest it. He was sure it was asparagus. Oh, Yankee Key West. My point was around here and I know it will resurface. Like bamboo.
The size of our vegetable garden grew each year. It was lined with brick (we’re Italian) and subject to many trips by Ma (The Tomato Thief). Eventually a fence was put around it to prevent rabbits, deer and
yes, Ma. Every fall I buried fish breakdowns in the native american traditions to fertilize the soil. Our bounty was always amazing. The tomatillo plants and the eggplant plants were the most amazing. Their leaves and branches had a jaunty raconteur nature to them. These plants were the “Zoot Suit Riot” of my 90’s garden life. Take a moment and smell the Seattle Coffee. Such a fun time.
Sista Sal asked recently if there was a great recipe for her bounty of eggplant and if it could be kid friendly. Sista Sal speaks, Li’l Bro listens.
- 2 medium eggplants, peeled and cubed
- 1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend (I like Tillamook)
- 1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 tablespoons dried parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped onion
- 3 clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup oil for frying
- Salt and Pepper to taste.
- Place eggplant in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on medium-high 3 minutes. Turn eggplant over and microwave another 2 minutes. Eggplant should be tender, cook another 2 minutes if the eggplants are not tender. Drain any liquid from the eggplants and mash.
- Combine cheese, bread crumbs, eggs, parsley, onion, garlic and salt with the mashed eggplant. Mix well.
- Shape the eggplant mixture into Patties. Heat oil in a large skillet. Drop eggplant Patties one at a time into skillet. Fry each side of the Patties until golden brown, approximately 5 minutes on each side. Freezing Patties for half hour prior to frying help with keeping their shape.
It’s a meaty day, prime for celebration! It’s National Prime Rib Day!!!! Usually the stuff of proms and weddings prime rib is the most easily recognized celebrity meat.
The enormity of the entrée is the stuff of wonder. The tenderness of the meat is due to the amount of the fat in the cut’s area and the slow roasting cooking technique. As does the deliciousness, and some simple seasonings applied don’t suck.
I worked in an establishment that had the tastiest prime rib. It operated under different names over the years. Eileen’s and LL Chapman’s were staples on the Boston Post Road in Old Saybrook. The chef was an old autocrat. Maurice Davies Blake was rumored to have cooked for the Truman Administration in the White House. He was very active in the CT Chef’s Association. The CT Chef’s Association’s membership also included my very dear Godmother Mary Marino (Their FIRST woman president) and her husband Joseph Marino. Maurice was a pain in the ass, and his food was the stuff of magic. The CT Shoreline (Yankee Key West) was eating Yankee Pot Roast, Hamsteak Hawaiian, Chicken Broccoli Alfredo, and Chicken Caesar Salad in the mid Eighties until their belts moved open a notch. These staples of his cuisine were so popular throng of the same people lined up every Friday and Saturday to get some. Chef Blake told great tales of his former restaurant ‘Maurice’s, and Peggy’s too’ in East Haddam. He had a throne reserved for him in the lounge. He could see the entire goings on of his restaurant, and fans could line up to kiss his ring. He didn’t work the line in the evening, his talents best used in saucing and seasoning the prep for the night cooks. Things had to be as he wanted. Exactly.
Young Tony: (writing special board) Chef, what’s the soup of the day?
Chef Blake: Old Fashioned New England Corn Chowder.
Young Tony: (writes) Corn Chowder.
Chef Blake: OLD FASHIONED. NEW ENGLAND. CORN CHOWDER. Write it like I told you or I’ll cut your god damned fingers off.
To be savored, Maurice in the above exchange needs to be read in a very thick Maine accent.
His prime rib would run out every weekend night. It was that good, and the source of the expression, “While it lasts”. That last part may or may not be true. Maurice was so full of stories that you couldn’t discern bullshit from bouillabaisse. You would want to listen anyway as his Maine-iac accent was earcandy, like Tom Bosley’s in ‘Murder She Wrote’. The prime rib was in two sizes; King 16 oz, Queen 12 oz. You could almost cut it with a fork, it was so tender. The color was perfect red on the medium rares, pink on the medium cooking temperatures. The au jus was so amazingly perfect for it’s seasonings, we would consume it with loaf after loaf of fresh french bread. So what if our tables needed anything at that moment, we were in church. It’s twenty five years later and you can ask any long time Shoreline Resident if they know of this prime rib and they’ll smile broad and say, “oh, yes….”. Sigggghhhh. That was some good eating.
Go find some good prime rib tonight, you deserve it. Make your night a banquet you deserve.
DISH IT OUT EXTRA:
My favorite picture of Aunty Mary.
Today, April 16th there are two overlapping holidays; National Eggs Benedict Day & Day Of The Mushroom. While the second appears suspect, we embrace it. We choose Joy here. We understand that the fungus has a National day October 16 but sympathize in that maybe it deserves two? Mushrooms have lousy cred if you think about it. It takes pigs to find them in France. They have symbolized nuclear destruction. The growing process involves keeping them in the dark & feeding them manure. We welcome their day!
National Eggs Benedict Day is a little treasure too. Such a luxurious way to start the day. Poached eggs, English muffin, hollandaise, and ham are the traditional ingredients. But this recipe continues to evolve. Sometimes there will be spinach or asparagus added. It can be fantastic with crab or lobster in place of ham. A favorite from a long gone breakfast temple on The CT Shoreline, was the Martha’s Vineyard Eggs. Two perfect poached egged atop fresh picked lobster claw meat with crisp asparagus. Generously sauced in hollandaise, the MV Eggs came on a fresh baked English muffin that was flaky heaven sent yumminess. We came back often for plates of Martha’s Vineyard Eggs, not even blinking that it was the only thing we had ever eaten there. This Temple Of Breakfast actually boasted one of my first head shots on the wall.
Obviously a talisman to “Come Hungry”, hopefully not a reason the place closed two years later.
Today in recognition of both holidays DIO! salutes two favorite foods with a tribute from Marmalade Cafe in Los Angeles! Marmalade’s Portobello Benedict is a new obsession of ours. The shroom has seized position from the English and there is spinach aplenty, Popeye. The sauce is always delicious, the cocktails are too. Marmalade has many locations to find your Bennie at, so there’s no need for the Le cochon francaise mentioned afore. (Dish! You spoke French…) We frequent the Sherman Oaks location and usually order the same thing every time. Funny what becomes a creature of habit most. We should probably send them a headshot.
Sherman Oaks, CA
14910 VENTURA BOULEVARD
Located at the corner of Ventura Blvd and Kester
For years the Portuguese Fishing community lived in peace
with the throngs (you read that right) of LGBT community that flocked to Provincetown MA. PTown, as it’s called, is the furthest point on Cape Cod. It was a haven for those wanting a peaceful life. Gays, artists and fishermen made PTown their year round home despite the cold wintry blows. It’s surrounded by water on three sides, a serene shore community fragrances with pine and jasmine. In the summer tourists cue up to take in the tonic that the beach brings.
Before tourism the Cape’s number one commerce for many years was fishing. Swordfish, lobster, bluefish and cod were in abundance. With gays, artists and fishermen is residence the food consumed in PTown has long
been incredible. Do you think any of them would eat anything but?? Portuguese cuisine is a rustic flavor trip with notes of cinnamon, spice, pepper and sweet. The families of the fishermen made great use of wonderful fresh fish and shellfish. Clam boils, roasted fish and amazing soups had wonderful earthy notes that tucked the appetite away, wrapped in a soulful way. Portuguese seafood chowder can be found on almost every menu in restaurants that line Route 6 all the way to the heart of PTown. Important elements of the soup were fresh shellfish and or fish, delicious broth flavored with saffron garlic and herbs, kale, potatoes, and spicy chorizo sausage. It was a great opportunity to clean out the fridge of leftover veggies. The magical broth and seafood bounty were a great welcome to the table.
Recently DIO! Producer Michael Vinton (Michael’s Funny Or Die Rihanna Parody here)
had a birthday that gathered his nears and dears. Family flew in to Los Angeles and guests were invited to #ComeHungry as you can imagine. A great New England Shore Dinner was planned to feed the thirty coming to celebrate the arrival of Michael’s next decade. His Mom and I rocked CostCo for the bounty needed. It being Easter Weekend, you can imagine the crowds. A late-hour snafu was discovered as the 32 gallon fryer/steamer was not going to participate in the ‘great New England Shore Dinner’. Normally the machine performs admirably, but it seems to be holding onto a grudge since Thanksgiving. With guests two hours away, a mad dash was made to assemble dinner IN BATCHES in three stock pots, keeping the catch warm in cater trays in the stove. Of course this led to some shellfish overcooking (Thanks Eric, we heard you) and a thirty minute delay for serving but all in all dinner was amazing for all to pick at.
So, why are we telling you this? Well there were bound to be leftovers. There is seldom an event that the food was plentiful and delicious. Plentiful leftovers and what was to make of our catch???? Of course the natural thing to be done was Portuguese Seafood Chowder (PSFC) A fair amount of the Shore Dinner Broth was reserved. Extra Manila clams were steamed in sautéed leeks, celery and bay leaf with the magic broth. Then came the separating the clam from their shells. EVERYONE INTO THE POOL!!!! Leftover potatoes, corn, artichokes, asparagus hopped in. Next came sausage, andouille in this case. My inner Cajun falls out on occasion, deal with it. In went fresh kale to keep it from going to mush. Finally cracked lobster claws and knuckles and shrimpies. The end result was epic, and had to be mobilized to good homes.
This PSFC may be an episode one day on the show,
but for now we hope this post inspires your love for seafood, kale, purple potatoes and Portuguese food. It’s a recipe of inclusiveness, everyone’s welcome in the bowl.
Much like PTown at the end of Cape Cod.
You heard me.
It’s March 16th and you better be loving all things green. Like artichoke hearts. Maybe they’re yellowish beige, for our content here today they’re pale green, from a green plant. For those who are green. We heart these hearts.
We first met a 1000 years ago in Yankee Key West (The CT Shoreline). We both had more hair then, me in a bi-level with a rat’s tail, Arty with a fibrous leafy covering. The chef at LL Chapman’s (more on LL another time) took three little hearts and put them in an oval ramekin. Splashed with white wine they then got a scoop of creamy italian dressing, creamy bleu cheese dressing and two pieces of swiss cheese on top. In that little Love Boat went to the oven. Ten minutes later you had Artichoke Hearts Roman (chef name) my favorite appetizer of the Summer of 1987. I couldn’t believe how easy they were to assemble, how easily they went down. Tasty tasty. The melted cheese on the side of the dish was crusty and delicious. The entire ramekin was sponge cleaned with loaves of hot Italian bread. This was of course back when carbs were something completely different. It was there we first met, in 1987. There went my heart.
Subsequently we’ve dallied together in saute with chicken, we’ve fried in a tasty breading. Arty Choke and I maintain our mutual admiration society to this day. Arty’s and mine latest spin is a great Gluten Free hors d’ oveur. In lieu of a cracker a halved artichoke heart makes a great base for tapenade or hummus or even a grilled shrimp.
Sometimes when I eat one of these little yummies I hear Celine Dion in the background crooning “……my heart will go on, and on……” and I smile about my rat’s tail.
Food For Thought:
“Almost every artichoke produced in the United States comes from California. Did you know that the town of Castroville, California crowned its first “Artichoke Queen” in 1947? The winner was a young actress named Norma Jean Mortenson who later changed her name to Marilyn Monroe!” National Artichoke Heart Day, punchbowl.com