Monday, January 8, 2018

INSTALOVE

 It's 2018!  Remember how crazy that year sounded when we were kids?  It was the future!  We're living in the future.  But without the jetpacks.  Anyway, happy new year, everyone.

I was looking for some cooking inspiration in 2018.  And friends, I found it.  I have discovered the Instant Pot.  And I'm SO EXCITED. Do you have one?  Have you heard of it?  Of course you have.  I was late to this game.  Instant Pot  was one of the 5 best selling items on Amazon and Target on Black Friday.  I read that Amazon  shipped an Instant Pot to 2/3 of American zip codes in 2017. Is that possible?  I don't know, maybe that's exaggerated BS, but I tell you what, it's a freaking miracle.

It sautes.  Pressure Cooks.  Slow cooks.  Steams.  Warms.  It even bakes cakes and makes yogurt. 


Its story is a great business story.  The New York Times called it:

a remarkable example of a new breed of 21st-century start-up — a homegrown hardware business with only around 50 employees that raised no venture capital funding, spent almost nothing on advertising, and achieved enormous size primarily through online word-of-mouth. 

Robert Wang, 53, did not set out to be a kitchen mogul. An engineering whiz who grew up in Harbin, China, as the son of two professors, he earned a Ph.D. in computer science and intended to develop artificial intelligence systems for a living. After a series of telecom and tech jobs, he was laid off from his dot-com position in 2008, just as the global financial crisis hit.


After a brief and unsuccessful attempt to start his own tech company, Mr. Wang turned his attention to kitchen appliances, a market that hadn’t yet been visited by the tech industry’s disruption fairies. A lapsed home cook whose busy schedule rarely allowed him to make healthy meals for his wife and two children, Mr. Wang recruited two other engineers and spent 18 months and $350,000 of his savings developing a high-tech device that would combine pressure-cooking, slow-cooking, sautéing and other common cooking functions in a single appliance.  

In 2010, after several months of sluggish sales in and around Ontario, Mr. Wang listed the Instant Pot on Amazon, where a community of food writers eventually took notice. Vegetarians and paleo dieters, in particular, were drawn to the device’s pressure-cooking function, which shaved hours off the time needed to cook pots of beans or large cuts of meat.  Sensing viral potential, Instant Pot sent test units to about 200 influential chefs, cooking instructors and food bloggers. Reviews and recipes appeared online, and sales began to climb.


I asked Santa for an Instant Pot, and had to wait a bit because the model I wanted was out of stock, but, dear reader, Santa hooked  me up yesterday.  

I have to admit, it's a bit complicated and intimidating.  Pressure cooking is no joke and if you screw it up you can get yourself hurt.  But I went from out of the box to full meal on the table in an hour with a dish that included brown rice and to me that's nothing short of miraculous.  If you get or have an Instant Pot, please make sure to follow all the safety instructions therein. This was my trial run and a totally thrown together recipe mashup based on what I had available. 

 What's so different from the  crock pot is that this sucker can get HOT, and you can saute in it. 
I heated up some olive oil and sauteed a large chopped onion.
  After they were translucent and yummy, 
I added:
2 cups of brown rice
1 package baby carrots
2-1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 can cream of anything soup.  (SO much better if you can make some version of this yourself, but I am all about making what you have on hand work for you....)
2-4 chicken breasts, sliced or pounded thin.
add a ton of ground pepper and a dash of worcestershire sauce 
 Then seal that thing up tight and set it to high pressure for 25 minutes.

Ok here's the scary part. 

When time is up,  you have to release the pressure.  You can release it slowly or you can do the quick release by releasing the steam valve.  But holy shit, people, be careful, because that steam is hot and dangerous and powerful and scary. 
But then?  You have perfectly cooked rice, tender chicken that falls apart with a fork, and a delicious sunday night comfort meal.

One last fact, and my favorite tidbit from that NYT story.  

He (Wang) also revealed a secret: in every official photograph of an Instant Pot, the unit’s timer is set to 5:20 — a series of numbers that, when spoken aloud, sounds like “I love you” in his native Mandarin.

“It’s a subliminal message,” he said. “It shows how much we care about our customers.”


Don't you love that?  Insta love!!

 Happy 2018!!




Monday, December 18, 2017

Lillian

Last week my family bade farewell to my Aunt Lillian Corey Nelson. 
She was 92, tired, at peace and ready to go. 
But still, it felt, and feels, so final, as she was the last of the Corey siblings to go. 
Marion (aka Babe aka Uffie), Dad (aka Joseph M Corey Jr), Lillian and Gloria 
As so many American immigrant stories do, theirs goes back to the turn of the 20th century, when my four grandparents immigrated to America, two from Ireland (see here for detes) and two from Lebanon.  My Dad's mother, our Sittoo,  came over with her immediate family, and my Dad's father, our Jidoo, with a couple of his brothers.

Ellie shared this family history with me last week - written in Dad's handwriting.  I love staring at it, re-reading it, imagining all the  decisions and heartache and bravery and excitement all these transitions entailed.


My aunt Lill led a rich and interesting life, as my sister Ellie chronicled so beautifully in Lill's obituary.  She had a career,  albeit constrained by the limitations of her era.  She graduated from Merrill Business College in 1946 and spent two years in the early fifties in Japan, serving as an administrative assistant to the Army Colonel of the 8th Army Headquarters in Zama, Japan. She kept loads of pictures from these two years, which were wonderful to pore through.
Lill married our Uncle Rod, a widower with three grown children, later in life.  They spent 37 happy years together before he passed away in 2004, and they were regulars at our house in Norwalk growing up.

Lill was funny and direct and smart and warm.  She let her opinion, and her love for us, be known.
We had a lovely sendoff, reuniting with cousins  we haven't seen in years. 
It wasn't sad, but it was poignant.  And funny and reverent and absolutely perfect.  

When we were going through Lill's condo each of us tried to find something meaningful to take home and remember Lill by.  I found, wrapped up in old newspapers in boxes in her basement, a gorgeous set of delicate tea and demitasse cups and saucers, some of which came from her time in Japan.  I come home for lunch every day and make myself an espresso or a latte after lunch.  
Now I get to enjoy my afternoon treat with these.

When I opened one of her kitchen drawers I found this nondescript folder, which turned out to be her recipe box, of a sort.  
 It held a ton of recipes, most written in my dad's hand, organized by category within folded pieces of paper. 
I am particularly excited to dig into this group, which contained no fewer than six variations of kibbie and tabouli.  But that's for another day.  

Today we're going to talk about sausage bread.

In her obituary, and in every set of remarks at her service, someone mentioned Aunt Lill's legendary sausage bread.   Lill was hugely proud of her Lebanese heritage but at our Lebanese feasts I think she was more of an appreciator than a chef.  But sausage bread?  That was Lill's specialty.  

So yesterday, in Lill's honor, I made some.  The response was nearly ecstatic.  Dylan, 'This is really good. Can I have seconds?"  Noah, "Oh My God this is amazing.  You have to make it all the time." 
 I will.








We will miss you greatly, Auntie Lill.  But we will think of you often, especially when wolfing down your sausage bread.  Godspeed.  I love you.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

KNIVES

One of my favorite wedding gifts in 1992 was our knife set.  It was a generous gift from Mr & Mrs Gardella (I looked it up last night - I still have the little file box in which I recorded all the invitees and all the gifts!) and I still use it.   Many of the items my 24 year old self put on my wedding registry seemed so formal, and although I believed my mom when she said they would all come in handy - and they have - it's the knives that have, hands down, gotten the most use these 25 years.  Daily use.  But, I regret to say, they've sort of had it.
 The initial knife set has grown, incorporating a few that I inherited when my parents downsized, and a few I've purchased over the years.

But they aint as sharp as they used to be, and if I miss Tony Delciello, the knife-sharpening-guy, during his annual walking tour around the 'hood, I am left to my own devices and my own devices aren't that great.



So I'd been saving some of my birthday money from my big day this summer, and this week, I pulled the trigger.  And I bought me some NEW KNIVES.

Before I did this, though, I felt compelled to do exhaustive research, as I do for every major purpose, because I am neurotic diligent.   So I went to my favorite, tiny, Pulitzer-prize-finalist, food writing college roommate, Laura Reiley, to get her recs. Conveniently, she had recently written a story on that very topic.


Isn't that so serendipitous

Don't you love the word serendipitous??
ser·en·dip·i·tous
ˌserənˈdipədəs/
adjective
adjective: serendipitous
occurring or discovered by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

"a serendipitous encounter"

synonyms:chance, accidental, coincidental


But I digress.  Back to KNIVES!






So tonight, these beauties arrived. Well, all but the bread knife, due in Wednesday.    F Dick knives.  Chef's, serrated/bread, 2 paring and a slicer, plus a new set of steak knives, a sharpener and a gorgeous bamboo magnetic stand. If you need me, I will be in my kitchen, slicing and dicing.




for the whole story please read

Knives 101: How to choose and maintain the right knives for your home kitchen


ps. don't you love the word scunge?

Thursday, October 26, 2017

quiche-o-rama

Have I mentioned that I love my family?  I do. I was born into a bevy of babes who are a)supportive b)fun c)fierce and d)great freaking writers.  The volume of daily emails is staggering and sometimes overwhelming.  Take yesterday, for example.  Ellie put out the innocent and altogether reasonable query, "Do you guys make quiche?  Do you have any tricks or tips?"  I just tallied the 30 responses to the chain, some of them classic Corey.

-----Original Message-----
From: Ellie Corey
Sent: Wed, Oct 25, 2017 11:21 am
Subject: Quiche


Do you guys make quiche? Do you have any tricks or tips?

Jacqueline Corey wrote:
I have a great tip: buy them at costco.

Janecoreyholt wrote:
I never make them.  But I should, because I like eating them.  

Ellen Corey wrote:
Ditto

MB Corey  wrote:
never. but yum!

Ellie Corey wrote:
You have all been very helpful. 😜

 On Wed, Oct 25, 2017 at 11:36 AM, elllen corey wrote:
Happy to help you out xoxo 

 


this was all within about five minutes.
   
Jacquie jumped in with this:
Could someone please bring me some quiche? It really is so delicious. One of my teachers makes a mean quiche, we demand it at regular intervals. I think I've tried making it before but the recipe contained all sorts of automatic disqualifies and called for like 12 sticks of butter so I tried to make a healthy version and it tasted like shit. The broccoli quiche at costco is delish. 


to which I replied: 

It probably has 12 sticks of butter in it.

I am DEFINITELY making quiche tonight. I think I have frozen crusts in freezer. They might date back to  the bush administration but who cares right?
 
now do you understand how hard it is for me to get work done?

So guess what we had for dinner last night???  I am wondering what percentage of Corey women did the same.  It's so easy and delicious and you can basically clean out your fridge.  So here's how it went.

I extracted the ancient pie crusts from the freezer and let them sit for a bit.  I inventoried my fridge and found spinach, bacon, zucchini, fresh mozzarella, fresh parmesan and one lonely tomato.  And 8 eggs.   So I decided to make two quiches:  zucchini, bacon & parmesan, and tomato, mozzarella & spinach.
First I cooked up some bacon and chopped it. 
 Then I sliced thin and sauteed two zucchini in olive oil, salt & pepper about ten minutes, until tender.
 I chopped them up a little bit then dumped in pie crust with three pieces of chopped, crisp bacon.
I added about 1/2 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese
 
Meanwhile, let's go to pie #2
 I chopped up the mozzarella.
 added a chopped tomato
 Then I chopped and sauteed a big bunch of spinach.  I would have done more if I had it.
I dumped the wilted spinach on top of the cheese and tomato.
 I mixed 8 eggs with about 1-1/2 cups 2%milk and a good dose of half-and-half.  I would have used whole milk if I had planned ahead, but, um.... 
Mix well.
 Pour over each veggie situation.
 Cook at 350 for about an hour, until eggs in center are set.  
Check at 45 minutes - the zucchini quiche took about ten minutes less than the spinach one.

 And there you have it!  
YUMMMMM.  They were both delicious, although I'll give the nod to the zucchini numba.

When Dylan got home from football he asked, as he always does, What's for dinner?  I replied, excitedly, QUICHE!  Now,  Dylan loves my cooking (I was reading the food section while we were eating and saw all these great recipes and said, out loud, wouldn't it be great to  have a chef? and he said, "I kinda do.")  He responded to my enthusiasm with what I can only describe as skepticism.  I explained that my sisters and I had been emailing about quiche so, naturally, I had to make it that night.  He said, in his monotone way, "why were you and your sisters emailing about quiche?"  I explained. He replied, "I'm generally not a huge fan of quiche."  "Really? Why?"  "Whenever I go to a brunch I'm so excited about a big meal and they always serve quiche and I'm like, I don't want quiche, I want waffles."    
Love that kid.  And he loved the quiche.