Thursday, January 31, 2008

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

RECIPE - Roasted Broccoli with Garlic and Parmesan

Awhile back, I wrote that every vegetable I've been eating lately was roasted. I do it because it smells and tastes better than steaming and there's less cleanup than anything else. I don't feel awesome about creating a sheet of aluminum foil waste, but I do recycle nearly everything else.

No one I grew up with ever ate roasted broccoli. As a result, everyone I recommend it to reacts like I'm telling them to make their own stock (difficult, no matter what Michael Ruhlman tells you) or slaughter their own chickens (icky, no matter how noble).

What they're missing is that roasting broccoli brings out a sweeter, nuttier taste, and that throwing some garlic and parmesan into the mix actually makes me not hate a vegetarian meal. Here's how I does it....

What You'll Need:
  • 3 heads of broccoli, or however many of that sort of thing (florets, etc.) you need
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic, depending on taste
  • olive oil, just enough to barely coat broccoli
  • black pepper, to taste
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • grated Parmesan cheese (please not the kind that comes from a can)

What You'll Do:
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Cut broccoli into florets, small enough to be manageable bites
  • Mince garlic
  • Toss florets and garlic with olive oil, black pepper, kosher salt
  • Place florets on baking sheet (I spray mine with Pam because it's easy and tasteless), place in oven.

  • Roast for 10-15 minutes, or long enough so that the broccoli has just started to crisp and brown.

***I like my broccoli just past al dente. It's a product of growing up in a household where every vegetable was cooked to mush***

  • 7. Once your broccoli is al dente, turn oven to broil and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. You'll only need to broil for a minute, possibly 90 seconds, before it's barely melting and starts to smell verrrrry good.

This is what happens. It's not burnt, it's browned. It's not bitter, it's sweet and nutty and (possibly, it's a vegetable) healthy and tasty.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

An Open Letter to the Vegans of the World

Dear Vegans,

Hello. How are you? Actually, I'm only asking to be polite, as I know from experience that the majority of you are sallow, pallid, malnourished, unhappy little grouches. I honestly don't care how you are, but you probably don't care that I don't care. According to you, I'm a bloodthirsty evildoer intent on decimating cute and cuddly creatures all over the world.


Seriously, Vegans, who do you think you're kidding? You're so kind, so just, and so fucking evolved because you don't eat anything produced by a being that can blink. You're convinced that eating meat is cruel, and that by loving me some bacon, I'm participating in the worldwide slaughterhouse conspiracy to ruin the planet for tree nymphs like you. By not buying varying shapes of bean curd (it's just like you're eating meat, only squishy and tasteless!), I've become nothing more than a humanoid collection of carcasses.

Maybe the correct question isn't "who do you think you're kidding?" Maybe it's "what are you so afraid of?"

Look, it's not like the animal agriculture industry is ideal. I've seen the PETA videos, too. On the whole, the meat-producing industry in the United States is a giant, unsanitary, killing machine built with the single purpose of providing the worst quality for the cheapest price. I'll agree that most Americans are content to chaw on flavorless, factory-farmed crap as long as it costs less than a free-range chicken. Well, Vegans, I hate to burst your "I am so smart" bubble, but I'm not most Americans.

I'll gladly pay more for pork chops if they came from a fat, free-to-turn-around, grain-fed pig. I've got no problem with $3.00 extra if I know I'm not ingesting scary amounts of growth hormone. But even though these options are widely available in nearly every major city, you're still terrified of polluting yourself with meat or its by-products.

And speaking of polluting your bodies, what must you think of societies that evolved around the necessity of killing animals and eating them? Would you decry an indigenous village in the Amazon because they spear fish? What about a family in Nepal whose entire livelihood -- food, clothing, shelter -- depends on the yaks they raise? Are they somehow barbaric because they still depend on animals for sustenance? They might not have iPhones, but there's something to be said for a culture that has survived for a millennia without toilet paper. You have a full-on meltdown if Whole Foods doesn't carry your particular brand of spelt (don't lie, I've seen you).

How arrogant can you be?

Let's not stop at arrogance. How about joyless? Tell me with a modicum of honesty that any one of you actually gets excited about food. Foie gras (responsibly farmed, STFU about the torture of gavage because these geese come to be fed...that's one video PETA doesn't want you to see) has rendered me speechless, but I've never experienced a near-transcedental moment with mung beans. You're not monks, for Chrissakes. Don't act like shunning eggs is a holy act of sacrifice.

In case I've managed to offend vegetarians with this, I apologize. I know several vegetarians. I won't go to their barbecues, but they're decent people. They've chosen their path for health reasons or because they truly do care about animal rights. They're also not stupid enough to claim that a wool sweater was made from the exploitation of the noble sheep.


Vegans, do the world a favor and keep your eccentric fears about food to yourselves. Don't you scoff at me for my cheese, my omelets, my sirloins, or my floor-length mink coat (I kid, I kid). Don't claim to be silent until someone asks about your choice, either. I know a disapproving look when I see it.

I don't want your Tofurkey. I don't want your disdain. I don't want you at my table, either, because even the potatoes have pork fat in them.


The Eater

Logo by Stu, available in T-shirt form at Threadless.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

REVIEW - Three Monkeys

Three Monkeys
3153 Morganford Rd.
St. Louis, MO 63116
(314) 772-9800

I'm not so much concerned with living in the hippest of places, so the martini bars and vodka lounges that do so well on South Grand and in the Central West End aren't what impress me. However, I'm always excited about new businesses in South City, and I'm especially glad when they do well. With this in mind, I stopped by Three Monkeys on Saturday night.

I got there around 7:30 and the place was packed. I was sort of taken aback by this, because I've been to Tin Can (right across the street) and Tower Pub (a few blocks up the street), and neither of them had ever been this busy so early on a Saturday night. When I walked in and looked at the majority of the customers, it made sense. The clientele of Three Monkeys seems to be mostly 35-60, heavier on the -60 portion.

(This was surprising, because I first heard about Three Monkeys from some 20-something friends, one of whom spends money on his Air Jordan collection and the other with impeccable taste in modern furniture. Maybe more people my age do go to Three Monkeys, just not at 7:30 on a Saturday night.)

Although the wait for one of the seven tables was 45 minutes, Three Monkeys does have a gorgeous bar and a friendly staff, one member of which was the hostess who didn't even blink when "Fuck" was my response to the wait time. (I later apologized.) There's also an excellent draught beer selection featuring the standard Schlafly line (Hefeweizen, Pale Ale, APA, and the seasonal ESB) as well as harder-to-find selections like Delirium Tremens and Young's Double Chocolate Stout. It was the beer selection and impressive, dark wooden arches that made the wait bearable.

Standing around for about an hour (45 minute waits are highly subjective when a group of 50-somethings refuses to get up after they've been finished for 30 minutes) makes you hungry, so we each decided on appetizers. Jungle Love is Three Monkeys' name for nachos with "fire-roasted" ships, beef, pulled bbq pork, lettuce, tomato, onion, olives, jalapenos, and cheese.

Nice concept for people who have been drinking beer for an hour, but more pulled bbq pork and chips that don't taste like sawdust might be nice. I will say that the jalapenos were especially potent, though, and that I really don't know why I expect so much from nachos.

I was given free reign over the pizza selection. This is why we came to Three Monkeys in the first place. I'd been told that their wood-fired pizzas were awesome, and my friends who had the Seafood Pizza (crab, shrimp, crawfish, calamari) were very happy. Seafood is all well and good, but I'm still a carnivore at heart. With this in mind, I decided to choose my pizza (12.95 for a 16", $1.75 extra for each topping). I picked andouille and crawfish.

Our pizza took awhile to arrive, and our server explained that someone in the kitchen had dropped a slice. When it did get to our table, it seemed like the resulting rush on our order might have been responsible for the soft and wimpy center of the crust. That says a lot, because these are New York-style pizzas and are best eaten folded over. LOTS of soft, wimpy crust to deal with. The crawfish was fine (not fishy), but the andouille was so bland that I thought it might be Eckrich smoked sausage.

(At least it wasn't a provel-and-Saltine St. Louis style pizza.)

Overall, I'd say that Three Monkeys has a beautiful bar, a friendly and genuinely happy staff, but that their menu selections are a bit too stuck in the bar food category to make me want to eat there again.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

What I Need

Happy 2008 from STL Delicious!

My grandmother couldn't cook without Crisco. Paula Deen can't cook without cream cheese. Plenty of people I know can't cook without one or more of the following: American cheese, Mrs. Dash, boullion cubes, canned vegetables, hot wing sauce, pre-packaged chicken tenders, a George Foreman grill. These people cook with an entirely different set of ingredients than I do, and I can't fathom how they manage to create anything edible without basics like olive oil or butter. They don't know that herbs come fresh, too, or that any sauce beyond the nuclear orange sludge from the blue macaroni and cheese box is necessary.

It is, my friends, it really really is.

Well, if I'm so smart and culinarily adept, what do I have in my kitchen? Here's the essential list....
  • olive oil
  • butter
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • thyme (nicely aromatic, balances acidity)
  • garlic
  • shallots
  • lemons
  • canned diced tomatoes
  • Yukon Gold potatoes
  • stock (vegetable and beef)
  • demiglace (frozen in ice cube trays)
  • basmati rice (better aroma and texture than ordinary rice)
  • bacon
  • crumbly, tangy cheese like chevre or Bulgarian feta
  • balsamic vinegar
  • Italian dressing (yeah, sounds like a cop out, but still the best marinade I've found for double-cut pork chops later sauteed in olive oil and finished with a splash of the above-named balsamic)
  • roasted vegetables (every vegetable I've eaten lately has been roasted)
  • my chef's knife
  • stockpot
  • heavy-bottomed, heavy-handled, steep-sided, I'm-gonna-git-you-sucka skillet
Although the below items aren't on my Always Must Have List, I've been using them more often lately....
  • capers
  • lamb
  • parsnips (smash them with potatoes, garlic, butter, olive oil, and whole milk and you've got a tasty mashed mess)
  • tahini (mix with garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil for a poultry marinade)
  • sriracha chili sauce
  • fig preserves (mix with chevre for the most awesome bagel spread)
  • savory (great, versatile herb)
  • smoked paprika (I use this on oven fries and baked chicken legs for complex flavor and warm color)
Aaaaaand here's what I'd like to start using more....

nam pla -- Southeast Asian fish sauce. Supposed to be funky and an acquired taste, but I'm already a coffee addict and beer drinker. Fermented fish can't be far behind.

Pinotage -- A South African red wine. Food & Wine Magazine recently named the Argentinian white Torrontes as the Next Big Wine, but I drink like a man and therefore prefer reds. My money's on the Pinotage.