three mushroom pappardelle

When you throw three different kinds of mushroom into a dish, the only question that comes to my mind afterwards is why didn’t I use four?

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three mushroom pappardelle

2 cups chicken stock

dried porcini mushroom pack

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 pound hot Italian sausage, diced

4 shallots, minced

1 sweet onion, chopped

1 Tbsp brown sugar

12 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced

6 oz shitake mushrooms, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

pinch nutmeg, rosemary, thyme, crushed red pepper, cayenne, garlic powder, salt & pepper

1/2 cup dry sherry

1 lemon, juiced

1/4 cup pickled jalapenos, chopped

1 Tbsp pickled jalapeno liquid

1 spinach bag

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 pound pappardelle pasta

parmesan reggiano, grated

in a pot, warm the chicken stock, add the dried porcini & soak for 20 minutes, strain & chop porcini, reserve the stock

in a stainless steel pan warm 1 Tbsp olive oil over high heat, add the sausage & brown, use a slotted spoon to remove the sausage, set aside

stir in shallots & onion, saute until softened, then add brown sugar & caramelize onions over low heat

increase heat to medium, add the baby bella, shitake, garlic, and the spices to your taste and cook until they begin to stick to the pan, then add dry sherry, scrape pan and reduce until all brown bits are absorbed and most moisture is gone

add reserved chicken stock and reduce until all liquid is gone

add lemon juice, jalapenos, and jalapeno liquid, cook for a few minutes, then stir in the spinach and wilt it

add chopped porcini and heavy cream and simmer until a thick sauce is created, return sausage

separately cook pasta, in a large serving bowl add pasta, then add sauce, mix until combined but don’t aggressively stir

serve in bowls with grated parmesan reggiano

 

Let’s begin!

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Soak the dried porcini mushrooms in the chicken broth, then strain and chop them after about 20 minutes of hanging out.  Keep the chicken broth, we’ll use it’s mushroom infused tastiness later.

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Sausage improves any dish.  I shall duel anybody who claims otherwise.  But honestly, this is just extra credit.  The dish will do just fine without the sausage if you want to go the meatless route.

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Whoever discovered the concept of slowly caramelizing onions should have been appointed Emperor of All Humanity for at least one day.

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After you’ve added the other mushrooms, garlic, and the spices, you really want them to get a nice golden brown look throughout.  As they start to stick to the pan, this will help give it a nice deeper flavor.

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Then we use the dry sherry to deglaze the pan and start the sauce.  You can use white wine instead of sherry if you want, but really you should go with sherry if you can get it.  It gives the dish a unique flavor.  And if you take the trouble to buy it, try and get the better sherry that is like $20 a bottle.  It’s remarkably better than the $10 bottle.

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While you’re cooking the pasta, slowly reduce the cream until you’ve got a nice, deep sauce.  The recipe calls for pappardelle, but any long pasta of your choice will work great.

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You can eat this by itself or serve with a side salad.  Either way works, but most people would like to have the salad with it too, as the dish can be a bit heavy for some folks.

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Most of my recipes come straight from my silly brain.  But where I am inspired to steal the ideas of others, I shall always try and give credit where credit is due.

In it’s original form, years ago, it was based on this decent Giada De Laurentiis recipe.

But it evolved after I had the Pappardelle con Funghi e Capesante at Vigiluccis in Coronado.  Work made me go there with the bosses, the food made up for the otherwise weird evening.  It was one of those moments where you eat something, and you’re like, “I wonder if I could do that?”  So I did.  But theirs is much, much better than mine.

controlled dreams

I remember few concrete things from the wacky Jetsons cartoon.  But certain things remain sharp.  They had robot football, this angered me.  They also had a machine that could control dreams.  You got to dream about whatever you wanted.  How cool would that be?

I find the older I get the more garbage my dreams are.  It’s a mess of bad nonsense.  I can barely remember a thing.  I think a pet dinosaur stole my television.  Whatever.

But Japan is there quite often in a way nowhere else is.  I have no idea why.  I haven’t been to Japan in ten years.  Money and time keep getting in my way.

I think it’s because I lived there.  I suppose I equally dream about places I lived growing up and just think nothing of it.  Japan’s different because it’s the outlier.

I’m usually like scaling mountains, or somewhere near the water, and always roto-sushi.  I’m always wandering around crowded streets trying to find a place to eat roto-sushi.  If I was a billionaire I’d first open my own brewery.  Then I’d open my own roto-sushi place so I could visit it forever.

I don’t know what all this means.  Don’t really care.  So whatever, here’s a shot of Fugi in the fog I took back then.  This seems dream-like.  Win.

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the consolation prize of your incineration

Your office just caught fire. Folks are screaming. Smoke is everywhere. You think so just saw the office clown basting some ribs over an open fire pit inside his cubicle. As you make your way to the designated fireproof stairway, you’re at least consoled that once you get in there it’ll be rough but safe journey down the high-rise to the street. You’re glad for this, for a whole bunch of your elder coworkers can’t get around too fast.

Oh my, it’s getting really hot, but you’re close. You get to the stairwell, and, and, the door handle’s broken off. What? How? But don’t worry, there’s a little yellow sticky over the door handle hole. In exquisite cursive it says the door will be fixed today. You take this yellow sticky, and you hug it tight. Then you and your coworkers are slowly incinerated over several agonizing minutes. Your only consolation (beyond the kind sticky note) is you’ll probably succumb to smoke inhalation long before hungry fire meets your tasty, tasty flesh.

In my kind place of employment, the door handle to the escape stairway was broken for four days before they got a handle on it. I’m sure this wasn’t a big deal, that didn’t violate seventeen different laws, but whatever. Oh, also, this building was renovated less than six months ago. So apparently a renovated new door handle last six months. You would think folks could / would fix an emergency door handle in like seven minutes. Nope.

You know my work is asked / trusted by a whole lot of people to operate and solve huge problems. I wonder if those people who trust us know we’re such a mess we can’t even fix normal basic things that a homeowner could ask the 13 year old to take a crack at.

We even had a fire in the basement on Tuesday that luckily didn’t require evacuation. Otherwise it’s like, uh, do we take the elevator? Does that thing even still work? Apparently, yes, it did. We would have used that to escape our doom.

Wow, humanity sure does suck. We can’t do anything right. Luckily, soon enough machines or aliens will be our masters and faulty emergency door handles will be the least of our problems. Or maybe one of those seven exoplanets they found yesterday is composed entirely of door repair personnel. Here’s hoping.

spiced crab cakes with lime cream

We break several cultural rules by melding a variety of the planet’s tastiest spices into your usual crab cake.  The crab thus becomes happy.  Which will make you happy.  Which will make everybody happy.

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spiced crab cakes with lime cream

crab cakes

1 pound crab

1/4 cup roasted red pepper, small diced

1 celery rib, small diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 cup panko bread crumbs

2 Tbsp harissa

1/2 lime, juiced

salt & pepper

1 Tbsp Old Bay

1 Tsp cumin

1 Tsp cardamom

1 egg

lime cream

1/2 cup sour cream

zest of 1 lime

1/2 lime, juiced

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp Old Bay

cooking

1 Tbsp olive oil

bread or buns

1 tomato, sliced

greens

Combine all the crab cake ingredients in a large bowl. Form eight patties, place on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

Combine all the lime cream ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator with the crab cakes.

Heat the olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the patties for about four to five minutes on each side or until golden brown.

Or, grease a baking pan, and bake the crab cakes in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until light brown.

Serve on toasted bread or buns, with tomato, greens, and the lime cream.

dsc00627Let’s begin!

dsc00629Throw all the crab cake ingredients into the bowl and mix with a spoon.  Don’t stir too hard or too much.  You want the mixture to stay a little loose.  Too much moisture is not your friend here.  It using canned crab like I do, make sure you drain out the excess liquid.

We use the necessary awesome Old Bay, but also add harissa, cumin, and cardamom for an extra special taste.  Harissa is a Moroccan chili paste that you can make yourself very easily.  But more and more I see it in the grocery store which is a win for all humanity.  Crab cake enthusiasts or Moroccan traditionalists probably might not agree with this combination of spice.  But to me, breaking the rules is fun.

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Make eight balls with your hands.  Don’t pack them too tight, you want to leave some of the air inside the cake.  If the balls are too wet, you can add more bread crumbs.  If they won’t stay together you could add a second egg and remix it.  Put them into the fridge for at least an hour so they can set.  You can use plastic wrap to cover or (blasphemy) since it’s only an hour you can just leave the plate as is like I do.

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The lime cream ingredients are just put into a bowl and stirred using a fork until it’s all combined.  It’ll be loose at first, but after an hour in the fridge it’ll make a nice and easy spread.

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A little olive oil and a nonstick skillet is all you need for less than ten minutes of cooking.  Use a spoon and spatula when turning over the cakes to keep them together as they should be a little loose.

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A slightly healthier and easier way is to just bake them for a half hour.  You’ll get a lighter brown color, but it’s less work and the cake will stay together easier.  I use both methods, but usually prefer the skillet.  Try both, and see what works best for you.

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You can eat the cakes with the cream on their own.  But I usually toast some bread and add tomato and some greens.

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Enjoy life!

we reaffirm our commitment to “giving it a hard time just for the sake of it”

The goons of humanity who try and remote control other people’s lives are shockingly transparent. So when the Communist Party backed a movie they placed supreme faith in, gee, who would have figured they’d lose their minds when it turned out to be the terrible, mindless, bad action flick everybody expected?

Beyond my original thoughts on all this, I’ll simply put down the international failure of this movie to two concepts:

1) Zhang got himself trapped (as many a good filmmaker has) by the power of special effects. Since computers allow him to do anything he wants, he lets his mind go insane. Simple decent scenes become a mesh of digital action nonsense so disconnected from reality that the audience can’t connect with the movie. It’s like watching a bad video game or seizure inducing Japanese anime. You don’t feel anything. See the Star Wars prequels or the Transformers films for similar forays into the awfulness.

2) Despite (1), a whole bunch of movies succeed in this format and make a ton of money, see Fast & Furious. I think the Red goons wanted The Great Wall to make an insane amount of money. If it did, it would have been a critical first step of an organic Chinese blockbuster. The problem is nobody cared. Folks probably saw the terrible trailers for this movie and were like, “eh, whatever”.

The movie debuts in America tomorrow. So I guess we’re about to find out just how dumb the American theatergoer is. If this movie makes $300M in the States, I’m moving to the Moon. But the Chinese theatergoer already figured this out, and they weren’t happy.

But hey, even though the movie sucks, it’s not the movie’s fault. But rather you, the viewer, who is wrong. Per The Economist, Xinhua (the Party mouthpiece) called the film “innovative” and accused online detractors of “giving it a hard time just for the sake of it”.

I’ll wear that appellation with pride. As I hope every Chinese citizen who rightly criticized this movie online will. We can’t let the goons control human lives. To the point that the bad, is made to be good. Just because they say so.

The question again, is can you make good art, a good movie when the Party is pulling the creative levers? I don’t think so. Zhang used to make great movies, when he was a rebel and against the Party. Now he’s a team player and the art is over.

I hope he learns from this, dumps the handlers, and goes back to making great films.

The Great Wall

Human actor plays medieval part in movie about aliens who got to Earth on an asteroid and attack once every 60 years. Eh, wait, what? Well, what could go wrong?

the bizarreness of modern work communication

You need something from somebody who sits 18 feet from you. How do you go about interacting with them? Normally you’d just go talk to them face-to-face, right? After all, a family member who is 18 feet from you inside your home is just a normal random conversation. Not so, apparently, within the dreaded confines of cubicle hell.

A guy three cubicles over has called me on the phone this week. Twice. I can hear him talking to me in one ear through the phone. In the other ear I hear him talking in the same room. It makes no sense. But other people do this too. They call each other in our bank of cubicles. I can hear them both phone talk like they’re standing next to each other.

This stuff has also occurred recently:

– The boss e-mails an employee who works 30 feet from him saying “come see me”

– The boss shouts from his office at somebody who works 50 feet from him asking if they’re in the office

– The other boss talks to somebody over a cubicle wall, and then says they’ll just instant message the work task instead of telling them

– People say they will respond to an e-mail, but then call somebody instead

– People will call you and make decent shit happen, but then ask you to send an e-mail to work out all the details again

– Folks will e-mail somebody who works 10 feet away asking a simple question

I think all this text messaging, Snapchat, mind meld, e-mail, Internets, etc, etc has destroyed normal human communication. Any one of the above scenarios is best handled by two people talking face-to-face. Instead, this easy straightforward method of interaction is devolved into a whole plethora of ineffective means. This ineffective nature increases stress and otherwise further harms an already unhappy place to work.

Just talk to people face-to-face. It’s better for all of us.

Or, just go off the rails. Whatever.

– E-mail your boss when you arrive at work saying “I’m now at my desk”

– Call the person who works in the cubicle next to you to say “Good morning”, then immediately hang up

– Instead of handing your boss a printed 53 page report with a face-to-face explanation, scan each page individually, then e-mail your boss the document as 53 attachments

– Instant message somebody 17 feet away and ask them their lunch plans, then regardless of their actual response, tell them to send you an e-mail calendar invite for lunch

– Put up a sign with skull and crossbones icons all over it that says, “today I can only be reached via e-mail”, and when people try and engage you in face-to-face conversation you just tap the sign without saying a word

– Bring a small bird into the office and inform coworkers you’ll communicate via carrier bird only, but never ever actually do this, you just have the bird in the office for months without ever using it

– Shout over the cubicle walls, “what day is today?”, “what’s the deadline for that bullshit product we owe to the boss?”, “where are my keys?”, “is the concept of anti-matter an oxymoron?”

– E-mail your boss, “I’m coming to see you”, before leaving your cubicle to go speak with her

– Write “I went to lunch” in your own blood on a single white sheet of paper, leave it on your desk, then dump a 28 ounce can of tomato sauce all over your cubicle floor and walls, then go hit the pub for about three hours before nonchalantly returning to work