Wednesday, September 26, 2007

It's America's Dream Ticket

Showing the nation that he can 'get her done', Fred Thompson makes and early announcement for his running mate. A nation breathes a heavy sigh of relief...we're gonna be OK.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bad news here at work

Looks like there letting a bunch of folk go, which stinks for me because I'm the guy who has to collect their computer equipment....a potentially ugly task.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Boiled Dinner, one of my favorites

Tonight (or to be exact, today) I am making one of my all time favorite meals, Irish American Boiled Dinner, I say Irish American, because I have been told by actual Irish people from Ireland, that they don't eat this dish, they use another cut of meat.

But I'm not from Ireland, my great grandparents, yes, they were, but not me (my grandfather was even an Irish cop in Boston, Sgt. Joe McGill, he was the Sgt. of the Division 16 police station, so let it be known that my family embraces our stereotypes...I'm even a drunk!), so I'm using corned beef brisket for my boiled dinner.

Preparation is as simple as can be, cover the brisket with cold water, about an inch over the top of the brisket (mind you, it will float, so approximate), you could, at this point, just get it a' simmering (it's been corned, i.e. brined in a salty flavorful solution), but I like to add a couple of extra flavors here, so I added 4 bay leaves, one onion (approximately, I actually used left over onion ends I had from other dishes, and don't be afraid to throw em in skin and all, we will be straining the pot liquor later) and about a quarter cup of whole peppercorns. Set your stove to medium low, and let this thing simmer for at least 4 hours, or until fork tender.

I then pull out the meat, and rest it in a roasting pan, I strain the pot liquor (the left over water from the simmer) removing the peppercorns and spent onions. I use this liquid to boil the vegetable components of this dish, cabbage, potato, and carrot.

Lastly, I crank up my oven, and place the brisket in the oven at a very high temp, what I want is to get a quick brown crust on the outside (as far as I know, I am the only person who likes to do this step, but I do like it, it's just not the usual method is all). Once the crust is established, slice against the grain into luscious thin strips and serve with your veggies and a side of mustard, it's Irish American bliss.

I saw The Departed yesterday, and wanted to reconnect with my roots.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Now that wasn't so bad now was it?

My dentist appointment went remarkably well. It just goes to show (as my own Mom pointed out to me) that there have been many advances in dentistry since I have gone to see one. The worst part was being administered the Novocain, 6 needles on my upper gum, 6 below, on some sensitive gums. It also goes to show that the dentist I grew up with is the stereotypical sadist type, who encouraged us not to use Novocain for things like, root canals, and tooth extraction (this is not a joke, I thought it was just us kids, my brother and sisters, who were at fault, like we were all wimps or something, turns out the guy was kinda sick, so says my Mom). My dental hygienist was very gentle and was genuinely concerned for my comfort, I can't praise her enough. The second part of the procedure takes place next month, and then I will be back to normal, for the most part, in the dental department, none the worse for ware for not going in .....I think it must be at least, oh god, 15 years. Kids, don't be like me, go to the dentist.

Pray for my SOUL!!!! or at least my comfort

You may remember last month that I mentioned that I was going to the dentist for the first time in umpteen years. The visit went somewhat smoothly, as I only had 3 cavities (I guess my teeth are kind of hard) which is good.

But good is always counterbalanced by the bad (like Fox News! always fair and balanced) and I have to have a procedure done on the base of my teeth called "scraping and planing", which, I am told, is a fairly descriptive name for the procedure.

In the interest of science and for the betterment of the blogging community as a whole, I will report on this procedure once completed, look for my blog later today...if I live.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Tooling around with an ancient copy of Illustrator

Tell me what you think of the new banner (I got jealous of Becca from No Smoking in the Skull Cave, her banners are incredible), maybe when my illustrator skills get better I can do a better job, but for now....I kinda like it.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Would you like a buffalo wing? Take two! There's plenty!

Wipped up a batch for the Patriots Home field opener....I freaking love buffalo wings!

Sunday, September 16, 2007


As of 6:00pm tonight, my little guy has MASTERED walking, tomorrow, he takes over America.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Jeannie Jonston Pub

The last restaurant I worked in before hanging up my apron for good and retiring from professional food service was the pub at the end of my street. I was still kind of recovering from my broken leg, and wanted some part time work while I continued on with school (for the computers), so I walked on down the street and asked if they were looking for help. The bartender seemed very eager for me to fill out an application, but they were out, so he asked if I could come back later, which I did.

I rolled in again around 5:30 and the owner Hank had arrived, they wanted me to start right then and there! Okay, I said, why not, let me just get my tools (knives, spatulas, etc., I kept it all in a toolbox from my hotel cooking days), and we'll get this party started. You see, the head cook of the pub had gone MIA (turns out he was in the poky) and the owner had been cooking for the last 3 days.....and he ain't no cook, believe me.

It was a trial by fire, the kitchen was a disaster area, food was unwrapped and unlabeled, meats had turned, in short, it was a shitshow. However, I am a professional, and I cleaned up as I went along, threw out the bad foods, and wrapped and labeled the good, all the while cooking up a menu that was brand spanking new to me (not THAT big a deal, since it was pub grub, but still, when you don't know where everything is it can be hard, oh, and I also had to do the dishes too, the kitchen was literally too small for another body to be in there doing dishes).

A few days later the full time guy got out of jail. The owner told me since I helped him out of a pinch, that I could pick which days I wanted to work, I chose Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and noooo weekends (I had school on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and every other Saturday), for awhile there life was sweet.

The head cook, however, was a slob...oh, and a crack addict, and he didn't like what I was doing to his little world. One day I stopped by for a beer on one of my off days, and he tried to tell me to stop wrapping and labeling the prep work on my days because it's too difficult for him to unwrap it for use!!! I just looked at him for a few seconds, and then said "yeah, I can't do that".

Let me tell you something about myself, in the kitchen, I am a bit of a control freak. It's my nature to fix what's wrong in a kitchen and get the ship steering right, this was not to the liking of the head cook, so he did what any sane person would do, smoked a ton of crack, beat his wife and got thrown in jail for 6 months, problem solved!

I told the owner Hank "look man, you need a head cook, school is wrapping up for me, let me do one year here for you, fix your kitchen, fix your menu, and make this a place where people would want to eat", he was happy to take the offer. That following year I did all the ordering, cooking, cleaning and menu retuning for the pub, it was a pretty good time, and when my shift was done, he let me drink for free, which was HUGE (well hugely dangerous, I kinda drank too much during that period).

All told, I worked there for one year (plus a few months extra as a favor while we looked for a suitable replacement), and still drink there to this day, in fact, less than 24 hours ago to be exact. I met people who I will be friends with for life, and some folk who I never want to see again, all told it was a fun year, and a great way to hang up my hat on the cooking world. I will leave you with a picture of me, in the window of the Jeannie J, screaming to be let out (you can see this photo and more on the Jeannie Jonston's web site where I am still (it's been 3 years now Hank, change the site!) listed as an employee...I am Unkle Joe)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Who wants a slice of Calzone???

Okay, let's talk about an easy no fuss dinner that you can make yourself, you can serve it for dinner, or slice it smaller and serve it as an appetizer or hors de vors at your next dinner party.

While you could make your own calzone/pizza dough (they are identical), I have found that your local supermarket or bakery can provide you with a perfectly portioned parcel of dough for very little er, dough. Lame joke I know.

Buying your dough will save you HOURS of time, believe me. Pizza dough is easy to make, but the rising process is time consuming, I would just assume buy it than wait that long. HOWEVER, you will have to wait some, as if you try and roll out cold pizza dough, you are fixing up a recipe for frustration (believe me, in my restaurant days I had been known to have meltdowns and throw uncooperative dough across the kitchen, but what can you do when the orders are up?). So do yourself a favor, let the dough rest at room temperature (or even a bit warmer), in a flour lined bowl, covered with a damp tea towel. You can use it when it's room temperature.

In the meantime, whilst you wait patiently on your dough to proof and get pliable, you can prep the fixins. I want to stress that you can stuff these bad boys with anything you want, healthy things, unhealthy things, hard things, soft, you get it, I have even heard tell of desert calzones...but that sounds gross to me (I have no sweet tooth).

So I started by searing up some of Tony's awesome sausage links (Tony is the butcher of my local Italian butcher shop, he is a sweet genius of meat). Once the sausage had cooked out I threw in some onions and peppers to carmelize in the lovely pork juices.

Once my dough is ready, I rollout it out on a floured surface into a big oblong oval (is that redundant? I think it might be), I roll it out pretty thin, less than a centimeter thick, but not much thinner than that, think a thin crust pizza. Then arrange the fixins in a line down the center of the oval and liberally apply your favorite cheese, I like good ol' mozzarella for this, fold in the ends and wrap er up like an envelope. I like to tuck the excess underneath, so it looks neat and seamless.

Place the whole rigamarole onto a lightly greased cookie sheet, at this point I also like to cut slices in the top of the calzone, it looks nice, and releases excess steam while cooking, it's a good thing. Brush all exposed sides of the calzone with an egg wash (merely a beaten egg, with a splash of water to loosen it up some), season the outside with some salt and pepper, and I like to grate some fresh Parmesano Regiano on the top, it melts nice, and looks pretty, but you can sprinkle poppy seeds, or sesame seeds, or nothing at all, it's your calzone bub, not mine.

Pop it in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy. I like to give the ends (where the dough is thickest) a good tap, if it sounds hollow, I know the dough has cooked through to the center. Allow it to cool for at least 10 minutes, as the cheese will be MOLTEN hot, and the fixins will spill out on you if you don't. Slice it up nice and enjoy with a cold beer or a glass of wine, yumm!

Monday, September 10, 2007


Sorry for not blogging lately, that co-worker of mine that I mentioned who was leaving has left as of last week, so my work load has kind of doubled. On the upside, due to circumstances beyond my control, I have, HAVE! to take a week off next week, so expect some steady blogging then. Also this week I plan on doing a calzone post, that I hope you will find interesting, so until then, wish me luck, and let's hope they hire someone soon to give me a hand. Your patience is appreciated.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Video of the CHAOS that is my family

My little guy clearly just wishes we would all just shut up and go away.

Sunday, September 2, 2007


Today was the wee man's birthday, so be so kind as to tip a glass friends. We had barbecue over here (as is my way) with smoked baby back ribs in Carolina mustard sauce, creamy potato salad, and Whiskeymaries' excellent heart impairing Mac & Cheese. A good time was had by all.

The kid scene here got a little intense for me, but all in all I was pleased, at least my ribs and sausage were a hit, as well as the previously mentioned Mac & Cheese. So without further ado, here are some phots of the day.


Sort of like the shadow in the backround in this next pic

Finally, cake and ice cream!

And as the day ended, we got a well deserved rest.

A hat tip to Whiskeymarie and her Mac & Cheese Recipe!

Just prepped this up for my son's first birthday barbecue, and I must say it's delicious. I took some liberties with the dish (I always do), however, the thing that I took to heart was the American cheese part. It's absolutely necessary, in the past I would use only cheddars, and they melt grainy (especially sharp cheddars) so today I used a mix of American and cheddar (mild as well, we have kids coming over) and it came out lovely. Thanks Whiskeymarie! Your a whiz in the kitchen!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Good Morning! And Happy Labor Day Weekend!

Hello everyone, gearing up for a pretty big day tomorrow. The little guy is having his first birthday. We are gonna barbecue up some ribs and sausage, and invite the family over for a wee celebration. Stop by tomorrow for pictures of the day, as no one can get enough of babies smearing cake all over themselves!