Archive for December, 2010

East Coast Holiday Trip

Oh, my.

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind tour of the East Coast, a “This-is-your-life, Militant-Carnivore” kind of experience.   It was delightful (if a little exhausting) visiting friends and family in eight different states to celebrate Saturnalia, Christmas, Winter Solstice, lunar eclipses and all of the other observances of the passing of the seasons and the rebirth of the light in the time of darkness.

Delightful, exhausting and filling.  Very filling.

I’m still stuffed.

My New Year’s Resolution is to actually post one recipe—a real, honest-to-God recipe, since this is a cooking blog, after all—per week for the coming year.  But for now, a brief montage, a highlights’ reel of the best eating, drinking and cooking from the Militant Carnivore’s 2010 Holiday Season.

#10:  Borscht at Veselka (New York, NY)

When my Polish father-in-law (jokingly?) suggested going to a Polish restaurant in New York, my Lovely Vegetarian Wife said, “Well, a friend of mine went to a Ukranian restaurant in the East Village and loved it.”  I’ll let others fight over the distinctions between Polish and Ukranian cuisines.  All I know is that the borscht at Veselka’s Cafe (the carnivorous version for me, the vegetarian one for my LVW) is all I want to eat when it’s cold outside from now on.  Why haven’t I been making soup with beets all of my life?

#9:  Pan-Fried Risotto Cakes (in-laws’ house, New York)

When your Lovely Vegetarian Wife makes killer mushroom risotto for dinner one night, here’s what to do for brunch the next day:  Form patties of the leftover risotto, dredge them in flour, pan-fry them in olive oil and butter, and serve piping hot.

#8:  West Indian Curry and Roti (friends’ house, Maryland)

I highly recommend that everybody become good friends with someone of West Indian heritage.  A lifetime of rib-sticking chicken curry and roti (thinly rolled flatbread with chickpea puree inside) awaits you.  To the Emperor’s Parents (and to the Emperor’s Grandmother, the genius behind this stultifyingly delicious meal), many, many thanks.

#7:  Victory Hop Devil, on cask at Zeno’s (State College, PA)

None of my friends in the Pacific Northwest understand, but what can I say?  I’m from Pennsylvania.  When I want a bracingly bitter IPA, I want my Hop Devil (but on cask, please).

#6:  Et Tu, Brute? salad (parents’ house, Pennsylvania)

I invented this variation on the classic Caesar to suit the oo- and icthyphobic needs of my Lovely Vegetarian Wife.  The salad uses escarole instead of romaine for a little more oompf, and the dressing depends on little more than mashed garlic for body and character (no eggs, anchovies or Worcestershire sauce here).  The salad is, in fact, little more than garlic tempered slightly by lemon and escarole.

And the name?  That’s ’cause this salad kicks the s*** out of a Caesar.

#5:  Steak Tartare, White Dog Cafe (Wayne, PA)

The holidays are definitely a Militantly Carnivorous time of year.  If I had any restraint at all, I would limit my meat consumption to the significant roast centerpieces of a holiday banquet (and its attendant leftovers, of course).  However, sometimes you just need some steak tartare.  Every meal should start off with a Negroni and a plate of freshly chopped tenderloin served with duck egg, caperberries, Dijon mustard and cornichons.  Even breakfast.

#4:  Grilled Pork Tenderloin (in-laws’ house, NY)

I was really pleased with how this turned out:  I butterflied the tenderloin, mashed up some garlic and rosemary (my winter vacation was essentially spent pounding garlic and rosemary together), added some orange zest and olive oil, and smeared it over the tenderloin.  I let this marinate in the fridge all day, then grilled it at night.  I was pleasantly surprised at how well the orange flavor carried through into the pork.

#3:  Baked Stuffed Acorn Squash (parents’ house, PA)

Back to the vegetarian highlights:  This recipe is inspired by one from Gourmet magazine (may it rest in peace) for a pumpkin stuffed with cheese, bread and chicken stock.  Fondue in a pumpkin, basically.  I’m glad I added some broccoli to the vegetable stock before stirring it in with the Fontina and bread cubes:  It makes the dish more like an actual vegetable entree and less like a culinary dare (“Dude, get some cheese up in that pumpkin!!!).  It also serves as a pretty decent side dish for those eating roast animal as the main course.

#2:  Shrimp Salad with Apples and Celery (in-laws’ house, NY)

I would have walked back to the East Coast for this.  When I first spent the holidays at my in-laws, all I heard was everybody raving about my mother-in-law’s shrimp salad.  Every year, a clamor would go up, insisting that shrimp salad be part of the Christmas Eve repast.  Now, my voice shouts as loudly as anyone’s:  It’s just not Christmas Eve without this salad.  It is perfect.  Just perfect.

#1:  Roast Beef with Garlic and Rosemary (sister’s house, West Virginia)

This is what I look forward to all year.  This is what my family has been eating for Christmas dinner for as long as I can remember.  This is what I plan to eat for Christmas dinner for the rest of my life.  Standing rib roast.  Garlic.  Rosemary.  Salt.  Pepper.  Merry Christmas to the Militant Carnivores.

I can’t believe that tomorrow marks the first anniversary of The Militant Carnivore Cooks for his Vegetarian Wife.  Thank you to everyone who has loyally read this blog, provided comments, suggestions and constructive criticism, and then told their friends and relatives to check it out as well.  I’m looking forward to another great year of cooking and eating and of sharing my adventures with you.

Happy New Year!


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