Thursday, March 27, 2008

Lost and Found

This Bananamaretto bread came dangerously close to being named Bananamabreado, but the triple-word score didn't seem worth the near-total obscuring of the meaning or pronunciation. Tamalehawk invites you to take your pick. This recipe is Part 2 of the ongoing Banana Bread Variations, in which a standard recipe is remixed to unlock everything that could possibly be paired with the namesake fruit. This time, a healthy nip of amaretto and heaping handful of toasted almonds permeate and puncture the pan perilously, and the resulting crunch and flavor should silence any bananaysayers. That word didn't work as well as he hoped. If you have any suggestions, please let him know.

Tamalehawk also took a chance on a new and nearby pizza place unfortunately called Pizzaco Italian Eatery. He called to confirm the suspicion borne from a blurry glance during a recent flight down Ashland: New York Style Pizza. Could it be? Should it be? The man on the phone confirmed and 45 minutes later Tamalehawk was eating what in several crucial respects was "in the style of New York" pizza. Pie cut, close enough thickness, good cheese-sauce ratio - all enough to warrant a second order. There was no trademark rivulet of neon orange olive oil gently cascading down the center of the folded slice, but he's keeping the menu near the top of the folder all the same. Update: Never really been back, Apart pizza is way way better.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Shipment

The S.S. Suffocating Duck fruit barge sailed into port the other day, much to Tamalehawk's chagrin. It was an unexpected arrival, and all the locals wandered out to stare as it lurched to a grinding halt. He couldn't identify whether it was a diving or dabbling duck, but judging by the tell-tale slit on the top of its head, it was definitely an unusual species of banking duck. At first, he was concerned that the jagged spires of assorted fruit spiking out of the duck's back were painful, but one look at the wry, casual grin confirmed that this duck was proud of what he was doing.

After getting lanced several times, Tamalehawk finally defruited the duck bank and pried free the head of half-rotten lettuce into which everything was skewered. That was a disheartening and lengthy process. All in all, a thoughtful, if a bit unwieldy and initially frightening, mostly delicious gesture. A BaeRating of B-. If you are interested in sending congratulations to someone about their recent waterfowl investment, or condolences about the loss of ceramic animal bank options on the market, you can shuffle down to Edible Arrangements on Southport and Waveland. It's an actual store. He must warn you though, the urge to heave the duck bank off the balcony is dangerously high.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

All Together

This is not the prettiest thing Tamalehawk has ever created. It is in fact ridiculous looking. But it is in the running for the most delicious thing he's made recently, and certainly wins the prize for healthiest. The Strangeloaf stakes a special place in Tamalehawk's echoing heart chamber and will, with this record as his guide, be served again.

Strangeloaf: Rinse and drain a can of red kidney beans, dump them in a bowl, add some salt, and mash them to death with a fork. Step away from the bowl and start immediately regretting ever having decided to make dinner. Shred a zucchini, a carrot, and some garlic and toss it into a pan with some oil on medium heat. Add some salt, some thyme, and saute until lightly browned. Start to feel better about your decision because things are smelling pleasantly edible. Dump the veg in the beans. Add a pound of ground turkey to the party, along with coriander, paprika, breadcrumbs, and Worcestershire sauce. Start scouring your cabinets like a newly-crowned king mad with power. Mix the ingredients together with your wings, getting burned by the molten vegetables now searing your feathers together, regroup, take an odd comfort in the resulting texture, and push onward towards your destiny. Lightly oil some foil on a cookie sheet and shape your amorphous mass into a loaf. Put it in an oven that is around 400 degrees and cook it until it is cooked. Forego side dishes because it deserves the whole plate.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

More Than Ever

Tamalehawk was thinking about some enchiladies that a gentle heron makes and decided to take a stab at it. Hovering in the grocery aisle, he realized he didn't know what constituted an enchilada, so he grabbed some sauce and hoped for the best. He went with a pork, beef, and bean concoction, with some jalapenos to spice things up. Toast the tortillas, wrap them up, sauce and cheese them, and bake. Close enough? Who knows. The shredded chicken number the heron crafts taste better, but he'll take that as a personal challenge.

Staying in the Mexican vein, Tamalehawk also took some chicken tenders, painted them with some jarred sofrito, and rolled them in pulverized tortillas chips. Throw those in the oven until they are done. It smells like a Mexican street fair. With another bird in the nest, he's trying to hone in on a repertoire of house favorites that are easy to make without compromising the desire to hunt that fills his hollow bones.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Wake Up Call

This marked Tamalehawk's first official attempt at the Veal Milanese he often dreams about. Bread some veal scallopine beneath an avalanche of arugula and fashionably functional lemon slices. Pair it with some parsnip mashed potatoes if you want. Eat until the shame melts away.

Breakfast round-up: Are you ordering breakfast appetizers? A little something to share before your first meal of the day? It's the latest rage and Tamalehawk is not one to buck a trend that involves eating more food. First up, Deleece. Start with the homemade beignets with cinnamon caramel glaze. Excellent. Move to the homemade corned beef hash, poached eggs, and potatoes with melted Gruyere at Deleece. Huge chunks of corned beef and a tangy Dijon vinaigrette makes this a total stand out. Trade in the side of potatoes for some fruit because there are potatoes in the hash and you're not a hero. It is a rather embarrassing mound of food. Next up, Angel Food Bakery. Support this local bakery and cafe because the coffee is Intelligentsia and the small breakfast and brunch menu is carefully crafted. Order the sour cherry muffin as a breakfast appetizer and move to the basil, sun-dried tomato, and goat cheese scramble with a side of fresh whole wheat toast. Third, Southport Grocery. Finally made it through the sea of strollers to see what all the fuss was about. Pretty good. Got caught in the lunch or breakfast limbo and experienced some menu paralysis, completely unlike Tamalehawk. Went with a sandwich while envying each entering egg dish.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A Look Beyond

Is slicing garlic Mafia-style with a razor blade too much? Tamalehawk might argue that it is the kindest way to treat the precious bulb. The garlic guillotine exposes more surface area, releasing more flavor into your dish, and retains the essential oil you might normally smash into your cutting board. Also, any time you get to rummage through the tool box in order to make dinner is an opportunity you should seize. Just don't take the blade you used to score the bathroom drywall.

Results of the most recent Apple Challenge, where Tamalehawk gets bored with a giant apple he is eating and starts putting everything in reach on it to see if some kind of flavor covenant can be broken wide open: Apple and balsamic vinegar, meh. Apple and cumin, meh. Apple and coriander, meh. Apple and Creole seasoning, bad idea. Apple and apricot brandy, hmm. Maybe in a cocktail, but not for snacking. Apple and red wine vinegar, yes. Reasonably sized, ripe apple by its own natural self, always.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Emerge Victorious

Hot on the heels of the best brownies ever, Tamalehawk tried to put some questionable bananas to use by making banana bread. Banana bread is the last respite for listless bananas, no one willing to look past their mashed and mottled skin to appreciate them. Feeling vaguely guilty, Tamalehawk swiped a recipe from the internet and set the dial to remix.

Orange Ginger Banana Bread: Print out a banana bread recipe that you're comfortable with and doesn't usurp an obnoxious amount of your meager staples. Try to print it in black and white but get the color version despite your efforts. Start making it, but replace the cinnamon with ginger. Like 1 1/2 teaspoons if you're using the dried stuff, and if you have fresh ginger laying around, then fashion yourself a medal because you've already won life. Add the zest of an orange. Consider locking the door because you've just defied Mother Nature and you are about to feel her wrath on the back of your neck. Bake for about 50 minutes or something. Circle around the bread, touching the pan and burning your fingers, finally letting it cool for a least a few minutes already. Pen the second part of Unwavering Citrust, wipe off the flour that is on your temple and walk around triumphantly.

Monday, March 3, 2008

That Fading Light

Part one of the series Unwavering Citrust. The cinnamon variety is a steadfast shelf occupant; the coveted orange flavor was merely a myth whispered about in distant warehouses. Then, suddenly, Tamalehawk started seeing this anomalous offering popping up on supermarket shelves after years of fruitless searching. He likes to attribute its reappearance on the market to his dogged pursuit, confident that he single-handedly nudged public demand high enough to create supply ripples on the Pillsbury corporate radar. It was very similar to how Tommy Lee Jones is always hunting someone in every movie. Undeniable proof that if you flap your wings dejectedly in the dim glow of enough refrigerated displays, someone will eventually take note of your awkward tantrum and quietly resign to shut you up.

His citrust soared again after eating the veal osso bucco at Erba. Following an excellent white bean and rocket bruschetta, the orange-laced interpretation of the classic left Tamalehawk reeling as he clawed at the pillow-soft veal shank. The shank! The most reviled of all cuts, too similar to the natural leg to be consumed without shuddering! It would have been a real turning point had he not been too busy shoveling shank into his beak to turn. He's 3 for 3 with Erba, for those counting. Update: Erba is totally closed.