Fanfare Ciocarlia

Fanfare is a gypsy brass band from Romania that I discovered using the app Shazam. I was watching a documentary on Gogol Bordello and heard this crazy music in the background so I whipped out my phone, fired up Shazam and sure enough, the band playing was Fanfare Ciocarlia.

The video above was taken from their show in Pittsburgh but we also got to see them here in DC a couple of days later with the kids. They are releasing new music in January and have already committed to DC and we will be there.

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Onto the turkey

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This year I get the chance to do something I’ve wanted to do for a long, long time and that is to participate in the slaughter of my own dinner.

This years turkey comes from Wagon Wheel Ranch. They are farmers whose mission is to raise free range animals who have been fed food “that they would eat.”

Without getting too much into why I think that it’s important as meat eaters to see that the food we enjoy wasn’t born in the plastic wrap of convenience just to fill our bellies but rather, is a living being and that death and the gore that possibly goes with it has happened to every animal we’ve eaten. Basically, it’s a matter of thanks and respect.

So, on the day before Thanksgiving I am heading up to this farm with hatchet in hand and hope to bring home a wonderful bird that I will silently give my respect and thanks to as we gather to give thanks in general.

More Thanksgiving fun

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When we were in Las Vegas last year Kelly and I went to L’Atelier de Joel Robushon and had an AMAZING dinner. One thing we had to try was his infamous mashed potatoes. They have a ratio of 2 potatoes to every ONE whole stick of butter.

I found the recipe online so that is another side dish we’re having for Thanksgiving

Ultimate Mashed Potatoes by Joel Robuchon

There is no question that Joel Robuchon, one of the greatest chefs of all time, created the ultimate recipe for mashed potatoes. Because of the techniques involved, sometimes this recipe is called potato puree. The success of this recipe depends on both the ingredients and those techniques. The ratio of potato to butter is outrageously high: 2 to 1. The results are rich and velvety and rich.

In terms of technique, put the mixer away. Potatoes are starch and starch needs careful love and care. Not whacking. Here you’ll need a food mill and a sieve.

These are the ultimate mashed potato. If you want a memorable Thanksgiving, then this is the most dramatic way possible to upscale your meal.

Joel Robuchon’s Mashed Potatoes

Yield: Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 500 grams Ratte potatoes (fingerlings or Yukon’s can also be used)
  • 250 grams chilled unsalted high quality French butter– chilled and cut into small pieces
  • Hot Milk, as needed 1/2 -3/4 cup
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

Scrub the potatoes, but do not peel the potatoes. Cook them in their skins covered by at least 1 inch of water. For each liter of water add 10 grams of salt. Simmer uncovered over moderate heat for 20-30 minutes or until a knife can easily be inserted and removed. As soon as the potatoes are done remove and drain. Do not allow them to sit in the water.

Meanwhile, bring the milk just to a boil in a medium sized saucepan and set aside

Once potatoes are cool enough to handle (but still hot), peel them and cut into manageable pieces. You can discard the skin or use them in another dish. Then pass the potatoes through the grid of a food mill (or use a potato ricer) passing them into a large heavy bottomed saucepan.

Discard the skin after it has been peeled away. Place the pan over low heat and using a wooden spatula stir the potatoes to dry them out (approximately 4-5 minutes).

Begin adding 3/4 of the butter, little by little vigorously stirring until the butter is incorporated. This should be done in a similar manner as one prepares any butter emulsion (starting off with a very small amount of butter to start the emulsion).

Slowly add the milk in a thin stream (a little at a time) till the desired consistency is reached. You may only need a very small amount of the milk, depending on the potatoes used, amount of butter used, and personal taste. Stir vigorously till all the milk is incorporated.

Then stir the puree with a whisk to incorporate air and make the puree fluffy.

Pass the puree through a fine drum sieve to further lighten and smooth the dish. This can be repeated 2 or 3 times for to make the puree silky smooth.

Taste for seasoning. If not using immediately, place in the top of a double boiler over simmering water. Whisk occasionally to keep smooth. The puree can be further adjusted with hot milk or butter before serving

If you don’t serve the potatoes immediately you can keep them warm for an hour using a double boiler.

Remember because they are so rich you only need a small amount per person.

Music begins where words leave off

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Today is “More Music Friday” and the selection is a happy surprise. Billy Martin (of Medeski, Martin and Wood) is releasing a compilation album of music he helped to write and record when he was a member of the John Lurie National Orchestra. Here’s a taste.

 

More about the music:

The John Lurie National Orchestra featuring John Lurie, Billy Martin and G. Calvin Weston

Available on Digital Formats and Limited Edition 180 Gram Vinyl

artworks-000062217711-y2yehs-t500x500Billy Martin’s Amulet Records have announced the January 21, 2014 release of The Invention of Animals by The John Lurie National Orchestra. The archival compilation assembles seven previously unreleased live and out-of-print studio recordings by the acclaimed musician, actor and visual artist John Lurie leading his early 1990s’ trio with percussionists Billy Martin and G. Calvin Weston.

“The three of us got together to try and write stuff for my band The Lounge Lizards, but what happened between the three of us was magical. After about a year of playing live it really came together,” says John Lurie. “There is something so unique and beautiful about this music. I don’t think there is anything else like it.”

Billy Martin adds: “John and I share the idea that this is like someone discovered a field recording of a lost civilization. Some strange and beautiful tribe unlike any other known to man.”

I, for one, cannot wait.

Animals

Your blogpost soundtrack: ANIMALS by Talking Heads

Recently Kelly was at the animal shelter to help our neighbor choose a cat for her daughter when I got a text from her asking “What do you think?” and with that we now are the proud parents of 4 cats and 2 dogs (with a hamster and fish coming soon). Let’s meet ’em all, shall we?

IMG_8634.JPGFirst, here’s Milo, the three-legged cat. He’s the “what do you think” cat. He’s Kelly’s lovebug

IMG_8681.JPGNext is Puma. He’s my cat (bonus video to follow)

IMG_8314Meet Lulabelle, the only female cat we have. She’s Liam’s baby.

IMG_8719Hey, says Thea, don’t forget MY cat. Well hello George.

IMG_8728.JPGSay hi to Dog, #1, Tina, she’s wonderful but a little on the hyperactive side

IMG_8551.JPGIf you’re gonna have a three-legged cat then you better have a mostly blind dog. Hank fills that role admirably.

BONUS VIDEO

I had a cold recently and once when I sneezed Puma made those sounds a cat does when it sees a bird out the window, THEN I found out he would do it every time I made a sniffle sound. Don’t believe me? Here is proof

Early Thanksgiving gift

Every year you hear how you’re gonna die if you eat stuffing that was cooked inside the turkey so this year I’m trying this approach to the stuffing before I put it in the oven. It’s so incredibly simple and brilliant. (Thank you ATK)

First off, make the stuffing you or your family loves. Stick to traditions. Then do the following:

Add Turkey wings before you bake.

1. Prep wings
Cut through the joint with a sharp chef’s knife. If the turkey wing comes with a tip, cut through this joint as well.

2. Brown Wings
Sear the turkey wings to trigger the flavor-producing Maillard reaction. Remove them from the skillet.

3. Sauté Aromatics
Cook the chopped onions and celery in rendered fat and butter to develop a savory flavor base.

4. Deglaze with Broth
Deglaze the pan with broth to release the fond and capture every last bit of flavor. Add mixture to dried bread cubes.

5. Top, Cover, BakeTop the stuffing with the browned wings, cover with aluminum foil to trap moisture, and bake.

Oh, and yes, I will still stuff the bird as well. Why? Cause I am a REAL seeker of danger, that’s why.