All posts by The Gentleman Caller

Balsamic Pineapple Salad – More acid than a 60’s flashback (video)

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Now that Trip of Love has closed (sadly) and I am taking a tiny break, the weekend is for brunch. Hell, any time is for brunch. Who doesn’t get down with brunch fare?

Pineapple is one of my favorite fruits; number two behind cherry. Even though it is a huge pain in the ass to cut up and leaves little black things that resemble mouse shit on your cutting board, that sweet tart acidy flesh makes everything ok.

I didn’t want to serve a block of straight up pineapple today, so I set the wheels in motion.

Here’s what I ended up with.

What you’ll need:

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  • one ripe pineapple
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup(ish) fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 tsp citric acid
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar **see note at the end
  • at least 5 sprigs of fresh mint

Spread the blueberries on the bottom of a small saucepan; cover in honey. Add juuust enough water to cover (appx 1/3 cup). Crank up the heat. When a simmer is achieved, reduce heat and allow to cook.

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Here come the knife skills: peel the pineapple, core it, try not to eat it. Good luck. I like my pieces cut into 1/4 inch slices with about an inch of width. Sprinkle the citric acid on the chopped pineapple. By the time you finish that, the blueberries should be cooked. Mash them with a fork. Allow them to continue to reduce. If it looks dry, add a splash more water. You do not want it to be watery. You want it to be syrupy. A good test is seeing if it just coats the back of a spoon.

Once achieved, take the blueberries off the heat and stir in the 2 tablespoons of balsamic.

Most likely there is some syrup residue on the sides of your sauce pan. We want that. Put the pineapple into the sauce pan and let it get all that syrupy syrup all over it.

Chop your mint pretty finely. Toss it in.

Put this all in a bowl or serving dish and allow it to cool before serving.

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Just a hint: if you aren’t serving cheesy eggs, grab some chèvre, put it down on your serving plate and put this all over the top. Heaven.

Can you believe this is good for you? Shhh, I never said that.

Bye for now.

The Gentleman Caller

**Balsamic vinegar comes in a multitude of varieties. This recipe doesn’t call for a tart screw top bottle variety. The bottle should be well aged and have a cork. It doesn’t need to be super expensive, but it should be corked.

Pairings: works beautifully with Italian Brunch Pudding.

 

 

The Italian Brunch Pudding, aka How to Make Your Sleepover Guest Think You Have All Your S*** Together

Printable PDF at the bottom of the page!

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

I hesitate to give you this information because it is so powerful. If you want to go from engorged to engaged, this is the way to do it. Now is your chance to turn back, because once you have this information you can’t un-learn it.

It’s the sleepover strata, the Italian Brunch Pudding.

Sleeping over with someone is a thing. No toothbrushes. Did I sleep in my contacts? You know what I mean. If you have an inkling it might happen and you do a  little pre-production, you can FULLY entrap your prey with this little trick.

Take these steps a day or two before and have it set up in your fridge. Here we go.

What you’ll need:

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  • 8 eggs
  • 2 challah rolls / half an old french loaf / old bread (the diner by me gives away challah rolls and I never eat them)
  • 1 cup of half and half
  • 5 stalks of rapini
  • 3/4 cup cheese (I used a pecorino with a  red chili pepper coating. Go with something nutty like a good parm; gruyere would be nice as well)**see note at the bottom
  • fresh chopped flat leaf parsley (couple of tablespoons)
  • fresh chopped marjoram (to taste, a couple of tablespoons)
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp salt (adjust if your cheese is really salty)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder

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Steam the rapini for 60-120 seconds depending on how thick the stalks are. Do not overcook it. During those two minutes cube your bread in 1 inch by 1 inch squares.

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Grate the cheese. Chop the rapini.

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Assemble in layers in a square baking dish. I used a disposable because, well, sometimes I am lazy and these are recyclable. Butter the pan, put a layer of bread, spread some rapini, parsley, marjoram around, add some cheese. Continue till the baking dish is full/level. This should work out pretty exactly.

Combine the eggs, half and half, salt, pepper, onion powder and nutmeg and whisk to break up the eggs. Carefully pour the liquid evenly over the bread mixture. I say carefully because if you go too fast the eggs will slop out. I assure you this did NOT happen to me.

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Here’s where the trickery begins: cover it with foil and stick it in the fridge. For as long as you want.

Now when you wake up in the morning to peewee, take it out of the fridge and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. While your guest is showering, put it in the oven covered for 25 minutes. Take off the foil, and while you enjoy your coffee, bake it for another 25 minutes. Then BAM, present a fully cooked breakfast. Just like that, you tricky bitch.

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KelKel helped me eat it on this particular morning.

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Trust me – you are getting afternoon delight.

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If you don’t hurt yourself. Bye for now.

The Gentleman Caller

THE ITALIAN BRUNCH PUDDING, AKA HOW TO MAKE YOUR SLEEPOVER GUEST THINK YOU HAVE ALL YOUR S*** TOGETHER

Pairing: this pairs delightfully with Balsamic Pineapple Salad.

**I got my very special cheese – Red Pepper Coated Pecorino – at Calandra Cheese in the Bronx. 2314 Arthur Avenue. This store will exceed all your cheese dreams and the guys hand you samples like you’re at Costco on a Saturday. If you don’t use red pepper coated pecorino, add some chili flakes for a little heat.7909971862_7e3bd78274_z

Seeing your loved ones even more: The Photo Wall

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Welcome back, friends. If you’re like me you probably don’t get to see your loved ones as much as you like. I was thinking about how to bring some character and life to my grey walled kitchen and harkened back to something I’d seen at my favorite haunt, Bar Centrale. Simply stated, it’s a collection of photos hung closely on the wall. What I wanted to bring to it was a cohesive point of view.

So I took to my photo editing software. I culled images of people I loved and missed and perhaps weren’t here anymore. I had the good fortune to know my great-grandparents very well, but of course they’re gone now. Friends, sisters, cousins, loved ones. I adjusted all these photos and put them in black and white so they became more of a background than a colorful collection. Then, I had them printed in varying sizes.

I started collecting frames from second hand sources: craigslist, the wallapop and letgo apps (which are basically garage sales on your phone), Goodwill. I bought no new frames and ended up with a great collection for very little money. Of course they were all filthy, but who cares.

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You can see that I got some of these from the York Theater Company. They were from old sets. Haha.

I disassembled them all and did a fair amount of cleaning, which I didn’t mind since I paid less than a dollar per frame.

I got myself into a real quandary wondering where the hell I was going to spray paint these things. And then it hit me: THE FIRE ESCAPE. Through the bedroom window I went. I chose navy blue for the paint color – neutral, but not.

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Now quit being envious of my Jem and the Holograms tank top.

I realized that trying to back-mount these frames would make me insane, and I knew that seeing silver screw heads would also make me insane. I inserted my screws into a piece of cardboard and painted the heads.

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I realized it was going to be necessary to drill pilot holes for the screws or the frames could potentially crack. I measured and marked where to drill the pilot holes.

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Most of these frames aren’t flat and I didn’t want the screw heads to extend out from the surface, so in order to get a more recessed look with the screws, I used a drill bit that was the same size as the screw head to notch out a little divot on the surface of the frame where the screw would go in.

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Now, making sure each plate of glass was carefully cleaned and free of streaks and fingerprints, I reassembled all the frames.

TIME TO HANG!

Determine how close you want them. I chose an inch and a half. I am working with between 20 and 25 frames, so that’s a lot of surface area to cover. I am using the existing features on the walls as guidance – measuring out an inch and a half from door frames, etc.

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Using the level app on my iPhone and my careful measurements, I start hanging the frames with my pre-painted screws. Now, my old ass New York apartment is not square AT ALL. Sometimes you need to trust your eye and not your level. Having symmetry and making it orderly is very important.

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I re-thunk my configuration as it evolved. Even though I had laid it all out on the floor prior to hanging, it didn’t always look right once up. That’s ok.

As luck would have it, I found frames that allowed me to hide my circuit breaker box, which was a huge eye sore, and frame out my door buzzer!

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Some of the frames chipped some paint as the screws went in, so I got a piece of cardboard and cut a small opening. I put the opening over the screw hole and hit it with a quick squirt of paint.

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I will concede this task as a whole became a little more involved than expected. But it looks fantastic. If I may say so myself.

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Good luck with yours! Send me your photos if I have inspired you.

xoxo

The Gentleman Caller

The Gentleman Caller’s Patented Salsa

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

I’ve said it once and I will say it again: before I go to the electric chair I am going to have chips and salsa. There are mornings when I wake up and have that craving and literally plan my day around getting good chips and salsa. And you know what? In New York City it takes some planning. That whole Pace picante sauce ad campaign had tremendous validity to it.

Several years ago I devised a homemade salsa recipe out of necessity and it’s damn good. I have tinkered with it, and I modify it from time to time, but right now I am presenting to you the basics.

I present to you The Gentleman Caller’s Patented Salsa!

Note: this recipe makes your hands stink and if you are careless about touching your eyes or your junk after handling jalapeños, wear some gloves.

Assemble your ingredients.

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  • One 32 oz can of plum tomatoes
  • scant half of a large red onion
  • large jalapeño pepper
  • bunch of cilantro
  • juice of 1 1/2 limes
  • whisper of lime zest
  • capful of cider vinegar
  • capful of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • a teaspoon of salt (that you will likely adjust)
  • 1/3 teaspoon of sugar

Get out your blender. Rough chop your onion, jalapeño, cilantro tops and add to blender carafe. Add the lime juice and microplane a touch of zest. While the microplane is out grate the garlic into the carafe. Add the vinegar, oil, salt and sugar. If you’d prefer, you can use a teaspoon of honey instead of the sugar.  Pour the tomatoes on last.

Put the lid on your blender. Pulse on low patiently to desired consistency. I like it pretty chunky but it’s delicious smooth as well.

When you reach the desired consistency, stick a spoon pretty deep in there and taste it. You will probably need to add some more salt and possibly some more sweetness, but you really can’t know till you taste. Tomatoes vary tremendously in sweetness, and sometimes the acidity of the limes and things differ. Just be patient and go a little at time.

This salsa is pretty piquant, but if you don’t like super hot food, remove the ribs and seeds from the pepper. Also, cilantro is very polarizing. If you don’t like cilantro, google another recipe. I’m kidding. You can leave it out. It won’t taste as good, but you can totally leave it out.

Careful if you take this to a party. Once your friends taste it, you will be asked to bring it constantly.

This is The Gentleman Caller signing out!

xoxo

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Tubin’ in the Creek

Printable PDF at the bottom of the page!

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Summers in Texas were spent, in my family at least, at our family ranch in the sleepy one-stoplight town of Johnson City, Texas at our family ranch. ranch

One of the best things about the ranch was a spring fed creek, Miller Creek, which ran behind one of the more rustic dwellings on the property. It was heaven for a kid: vast acreage, wild animals, phenomenal food; and, if you were good, Poppa would take you to the Dairy Queen after naps. Mind you one time I didn’t have shoes on and the girl behind the counter asked us to leave the Dairy Queen.

My dad and Poppa would collect assorted inner tubes off of big trucks and such. They’d fill those big black tubes with air and down to the creek we’d start. We’d drop our tubes in the frigid spring water on one end of the fence line and let the current carry us to the other. Me and my little sisters, who are all little shits, would try to flip people off their tubes or drag my Granny into the “snake bank” – areas with high grass that no doubt (in Granny’s mind) were maternity wards for water moccasin.

Johnson City, Texas is famous for Freestone Peaches and we’d always get bushels of succulent peaches in the heat of summer. That memory inspired me to concoct this sweet summery cocktail topped with a brightly colored “tube” – a delicious peach ring candy. Yeah, it ain’t classy, but it’s delicious.

I present to you the Tubin’ in the Creek.

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tubin

What you need:

Put your shaker and a pint mason jar in the freezer. When the shaker is cold, put some ice in it.

Add to the ice:

  • 2 oz. peach whiskey (I am using Bird Dog)
  • 1 oz. peach nectar (this is easy to find in ethnic food sections – I am using a Greek variety)
  • 1/2 oz. Aperol
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 2 oz. San Pellegrino lemonata
  • 2 oz. club soda

Shake it shake it shake it!

Fill your mason jar with ice cubes. I like square ice. Square ice is the most visually appealing. They make silicon molds to get perfectly square ice.

Strain the shaken liquid into the jar. Top with a candy peach ring. If you can keep from eating more than one peach ring, I’ll send you a prize.

You’re going to love this. It’s summer in a glass.

This is The Gentleman Caller signing off!

xoxo

TUBIN’ IN THE CREEK