Saturday, February 13, 2010

White Chicken Chili


1/2 pound dry white cannellini or Great Northern beans, soaked 4-6 hours in unsalted water until plump
1 andouille sausage link, casing removed
2 chicken breasts
1 large white onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, minced
8 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 jalepenos, minced
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. cumin
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. dried oregano
dash of cayenne (optional)
1 4-oz can roasted Hatch chilis (mild or fiery)
1 7-oz. can salsa verde (we use Herdez)
3 pints chicken stock
1 small container plain yogurt
plenty of queso fresco, fresh chives, and chopped cilantro, to serve
1 bottle of Paulaner Salvator Doppelbock (to drink!)

1) In a big heavy-bottomed pot, cook the andouille sausage until it releases its fat and browns, about 5 minutes over medium-high heat. If there doesn't seem to be enough fat in the pan to saute the veg, add a little olive oil.
2) Add onion, bell pepper, garlic, jalapeno, and celery. Sweat for 5 minutes.
3) Add dry spices and dry herbs. Toast for 2 minutes.
4) Stir in Hatch chilis, salsa verde, chicken stock, and white beans. Cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook about 40 minutes, until beans begin to soften.
5) Place chicken breast in pot, submerged in broth. Cook through, about 20 minutes.
6) Remove chicken breasts from liquid with tongs and shred with a fork. Return meat to the pot. Test the beans; if still firm, cook a bit longer.
7) When beans are finished, stir in plain yogurt and season to taste. Garnish with chives, cilantro, and fresh white Mexican cheese.
8) Open Paulaner Salvator. Enjoy together.


Let's chat about Germans for a second. Germans are awesome in several ways. First--and this is truly important to me--they are completely, utterly unafraid of moustaches. More on moustaches later. Believe me, we are going to cover the topic of moustaches. But the second thing Fritz and Hans are entirely unafraid of is beer, and drinking it out of glassware with the liquid scope of a horse trough.

The doppelbock style was invented by monks. That's because, back when water was filthy, the Church decided that the best way of purifying it was to make a kajillion different varieties of beer, thus proving that sometimes even something as questionable as all-powerful Catholicism can produce good in the world. Most doppelbocks are dark and fairly rich, with a nice creamy head to them. They are not hop-forward, in fact are often quite mild and sweet, preferring to explore varieties of toasted malt complexity.

Paulaner is a monk founded brewery itself, and has been actively brewing for the monks' consumption (and other lucky people's, of course) since 1634. It could be argued that they know what they're doing by now. Paulaner currently makes fifteen classic varieties of German beer (they also make a non-alcoholic bottle, but I refuse to label that as typically German in any way, shape, or form). Their doppelbock is beautifully dark and caramelized, with tons of toasted sugars and a lingering aftertaste of spicy prunes. Delicious, and great for rounding out a nice bowl of chili.


Gabe has a moustache.

(No. I'm not going to spell it the other way. Don't ask me to spell it like that. People in Williamsburg with pointy elf shoes and Louis Vuitton trucker hats have mustaches. Real men have moustaches.)

I'm emotionally attached to the moustache. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that it's an awesome moustache, and I really like awesome things better than I like lameass things. Or maybe it has something to do with Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday in Tombstone being awesome, or Dr. John H. Watson, M.D. being awesome. I have no idea, but moustaches rule.

People in the United States are rightfully wary of the Moustachioed Man. He has a certain panache in the literal "face" of adversity that other men find enviable and women (the women without moustaches, and even some of the women with moustaches) find epic. The thing is, the moustache can easily go too far, or not far enough, and a powerful moustache is all about balance. You don't want to end up doing what Michael Phelps has recently been accused of.

There are certain moustaches, you see, in the United States in particular, which convey the inevitable impression that you work in the pornography field. Now, this plays on the archetypal paradigm of the Mighty Moustache, no question, but do you really want schoolchildren to see evidence of your involvement in the sex industry on your face?


And that is what Michael Phelps has done here. Granted, he is an Olympic Gold Medal-winning professional athlete. And not the sort who goes to cheap suburban hotels in LA with film crews to take off his trousers and lay pipe like a contractor. Or not from what I've read about him, at any rate. It's nowhere in his Wikipedia bio.

The problem is, you would never know it from this moustache. He's famous, so his profession is going to be clearer to everyone than the average Joe's. But moustaches speak, and Michael Phelps's moustache is saying, "I'm here to fix your cable. Can I take my shirt off?" Yes, Michael Phelps, you can take your shirt off, because your torso looks like the Google Earth terrain map of the Appalachian Trail. But expect bright lights and girls named Taffy to want to get involved.

The Germans, on the other hand, have taken moustachular expressionism to new heights.

Here we have an example of another way that a moustache can get out of balance. A moustache, I believe, is exactly like a man's car: if you see a man, and he's car-less--you know, walks, bikes, takes the subway--you're not ever going to judge his manliness on the basis of his vehicle, obviously. But if a man has a Fiat with the paint peeling off and a CARTER/MONDALE 1976 sticker on the back, you might form some thoughts. If, conversely, you see a guy driving a red 2010 Corvette with a bumpersticker that says MY OTHER CAR IS A JET on it, that guy is going to be conveying a different impression entirely. What I'm saying is, neither of these looks is going to get you laid by any of my friends. If faced with the choice, they'd take the guy with the Fiat in a heartbeat, of course, because that guy is compensating for nothing whatsoever, but it's not ideal.

So then there's this moustache.

It's technically, from what I know of moustache types, the Wingspan Facespanner. Is it awesome? Yes? Is it beautiful? Yes. But so are Corvettes, sort of.

Meanwhile, don't even try to tell me this guy isn't German. This guy MUST be German. There's just no other explanation for his total moustache abandon here. It's a bravery that borders on recklessness. Only the Germans can treat moustaches with such wanton inhibition. This guy's name is Wilhelm Sigisfried Poppycock Krapp VonSchittekatter.

Finally, we have an example of the sort of moustache you want from a fellow. (A fellow who, I must add, just bought a straight razor, and things called boar's bristles and hones and strops and I don't even know what.) This man will rub the hide of a boar over his face and then shave it with a deadly weapon from the 19th century. This moustache commands respect.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Baked Eggs in a Leek Nest with Sourdough

(Note: obviously, this recipe is open to endless variation. You could make the base of this dish out of hash browns instead of leeks, maybe baked tomatoes, why not shittakes?, throw some Parmesan or feta on top, whatever you like. Go crazy. Then bake the eggs 8-10 minutes in a 390 degree oven and serve with warm, fresh bread.)

1 massive or two smaller leeks, cleaned thoroughly, halved and then sliced thin (about 5 cups)
4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
4 eggs
a big handful of fresh parsley and chives, chopped
2 oz. hard Italian-style dried sausage or salami (we used finocchio), minced fine
2 tbsp butter
salt and fresh black pepper
and to serve, sliced fresh sourdough (recipe link and tale follows)

1) Preheat your oven to 390 degrees.
2) Heat the butter in a cast-iron skillet until foamed subsides; brown it if you like. Mmm.
3) Add leeks. Season with salt and pepper and saute about 3 minutes.
4) When leeks have begun to soften, add minced or pressed garlic. Continue to saute, about 3 more minutes, until garlic is toasted and leeks are starting to brown and melt a bit further. Taste to adjust seasoning.
5) With a wooden spoon, make 4 little nests in your leeks. They should *not* expose the cast-iron pan beneath.
6) Add the eggs to your nests, like so. Crack sea salt and pepper over eggs. Add minced hard salami, sprinkling over pan.
7) Bake 8-10 minutes (10 for cooked very nearly through).
8) Dish up the eggs in the nests. Garnish with herbs. Best breakfast ever. Voila.
9) Get yourself a growler of Sixpoint Double Sweet Action from Whole Foods.
10) Enjoy together.


Oh my lord.

So I joined Twitter about...oh, maybe six months back...because after all it's a free marketing tool and (more convincingly) my friend Leslie Klinger of Annotated Sherlock Holmes fame told me I was ridiculous not to be on a free social media site everyone follows and I should get with the program. (He is right in this evaluation, as he is right to laugh when I put ice in my Maker's.) I joined, and let me tell you, it is a challenge for me to come up with posts that DON'T have to do with food. (My handle is lyndsayfaye, if anyone cares.) My friend Melinda told me that she can't check my Twitter feed without getting hungry. I have reached, meanwhile, some stirring low points in 140-character statements of self. Examples: going to cozy up for some niece and nephew time. I hope there are ninja turtles involved, of the teenage mutant variety.

is uncannily skilled at forgetting to water Christmas trees. In my living room, in plain view. Thereby killing them.

has decided that duck ragu=delicious thing to have in fridge. Can you put it in pasta? Check. Risotto? Check. Hash? Check. Soup? Check.

I'm really none too good at it. And I refuse to say things like " sitting on the couch watching The L-Word. Shane is hot." What was this section about? Beer, you say? Ah, yes. What does Twitter have to do with beer? Well, kids, I soon discovered after joining Twitter that apart from following interesting people, I can also follow WHOLE FOODS. This was a seminal moment. Because a few days ago, the lads from Sixpoint (best Brooklyn brewery ever) finished a concoction they're calling Double Sweet Action for their fifth anniversary. And with admirable haste, they dispatched it and themselves to the Bowery Whole Foods Beer Room and started passing it around. For free. Free Sixpoint Double Sweet Action. Where did I find this out?

Twitter. That's what a full circle looks like, ladies and gents. We grabbed our coats and flew down to Whole Foods with the swiftness of fleet pumas.

The regular Sixpoint Sweet Action is a supremely highly rated American Blonde Ale. We love it. And so when we asked the brewers what they'd done to make the Double Sweet Action and their answer was "Doubled the malts and doubled the hops," we were very pleased. It tastes more like an IPA than does the original, of course, but the honeyed overtones and the lush tangerine really even out the bitterness. Which makes it a perfect...brunch beer! And it's nine and a half percent alcohol! You'll be out of commission by two in the afternoon. You're welcome. Go get a growler.


Gabe made a sourdough starter. Actually, there are two of them, living in the fridge like brothers. I have named them Terwilliger and Newt. One is a wheat starter and the other is a white-flour starter. Now, I don't understand the first thing about baking (you follow rules??), but here's a good discussion of starters and sourdough recipes with pretty pretty pictures of sourdough toast. Gabe followed America's Test Kitchen's recipe here, but unfortunately you need a subscription to access it. The Test Kitchen is rock solid when it comes to baking things, however, and a subscription to their website is hugely worthwhile.

Like I said, I can't bake. Meanwhile, I got to eat it. It was soooo tasty. We had it with white bean chili, and with smoked mackerel, and with jam, and with butter and cracked sea salt, and with olive oil and balsamic. And we weren't sorry.


I have a short story in friends Jon Lellenberg's and Dan Stashower's Sherlock Holmes in America anthology called "The Case of Colonel Warburton's Madness." It was a hat trick to write it, because it's an "armchair" mystery: Holmes solves a case presented to him by Watson without ever so much as leaving his chair except to pour a couple glasses of wine for himself and the Doc (hey, it's me writing Holmes here, after all).

Well, the story was just selected for the Best American Mystery Stories 2010 anthology! Huzzah! I am so chuffed over that I can't tolerate myself. Thanks very much to Otto Penzler and Lee Child for picking it. I'm thrilled. And I will probably never manage to pull off writing an "armchair" mystery of any sort ever again.