Fr. Z’s Kitchen: Healthy and Not

In an earlier post, I affirmed my love of country. I think honorable men should love God, family and country.

Today I love America also because of this.

Last night at the parish we had a BBQ with a large group of men in part for one of the guys – in the Air Force – who is being deployed again (5th time?) to Jihadistan.  Yes, wife and little kids. He’s stoic.

One of the bonus of getting together with men only is that the FFLF* doesn’t figure.  Therefore, we can have food that goes straight to the Left Anterior Descending.

Behold: Bacon Pie.

Cheese is not excluded.

The evening also included cigars and pipes and pints.  This cigar was given to me by one of the Swiss Guard on the evening of my 25th Jubilee supper in Rome.  Thanks!

Meanwhile, on Friday my market has fishy things on sale.  I got some mussels at $3.95/lbs and made them with white wine, garlic, green onions, herbes de provence, tomatoes.

This is easy, if you have never prepared them.  I keep them in the fridge until I need to work with them.  Then I fill a large pot with water and put them in: they tend to open and let go of sand and some seaweed.  Meanwhile, in a pot or pan that that you can cover with a lid that seals well, put a little white wine, and some veg like I mentioned, perhaps a dash of Pernod.  Turn the heat up so that you have a boil and then put the mussels in and cover it.  They will open fast.  Don’t overcook them.  You can sprinkle some parsley for flaver and personality.  Turn the whole batch into a large bowl and have a bowl for discarded shells.  Don’t try to eat the mussels that don’t open.  You can use connected shell halves like tweezers to eat the others.  Having some good bread to soak up the broth is not a bad idea.

 

I roasted another bronzino and used as a garnish some of the veg and broth from the mussels.  Yum.

See?  Bacon pie and cigars and healthy fish.  Right?

 

*FFLF – Female Fun Limitation Factor, defined as that effect produced on one or more males having fun when a female of any age asks in that special tone of voice, “Do you really think you should be doing that?”, and in all its variations, especially through The Look and other non-verbal signals.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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28 Responses to Fr. Z’s Kitchen: Healthy and Not

  1. Seattle Slough says:

    You’re one smart priest, Fr. Z. And, may I share the most fundamental difference between men and women? All men love The Three Stooges and all women hate them.

  2. Auggie says:

    Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine… there’s always laughter and bacon pie…

  3. un-ionized says:

    I love the “Three Wise Men!” We were hurt many a time trying to imitate their antics.

  4. DeGaulle says:

    Alas, Father, I am allergic to mussels. However, this is all fabulous food. All healthy too, not just the fish. Like so much of the standard narrative, the notion of fat and nearly all tasty food being unhealthy is slowly being revealed as a lie and the opposite of the truth. Fat is good for you, with dairy fats being positively protective of the heart. Fats in general move quickly to the small intestine for digestion, consequently slowing the passage of other foods from the stomach, thus lengthening the feeling of satiety-in other words, fat stops you getting fat.

    Anyway, I never bothered with all this health-food propaganda. I followed the advice of a long-dead local doctor who, upon being asked by an elderly patient if the latter would live longer if he quit smoking and drinking, replied that he didn’t know but could assure him it would feel a lot longer. I always apply the same rule to food.

  5. Jack says:

    Seattle Slough posted that “All men love The Three Stooges and all women hate them.”
    I beg to differ.

    Every New Year’s Eve for the past 30 years, my Bride and I have indulged in the annual Three Stooges Marathon. In fact this is one of the reasons I married her!

    Recently she advised that she wanted to attend the Sig Sauer Academy. [WOW! I’ll meet you there! I’ve always wanted to go.]
    She must have been secretly lusting after my service weapon all the years I was working.
    She loves Cruise Nights, Clint Eastwood & Mel Brooks movies and BBQ.

    Now if only I could get her to swim the Tiber…..

  6. NBW says:

    Is there perchance a recipe for the bacon pie?
    It looks delicious! The mussels and fish look good, but I still like the bacon pie better.

  7. The Mad Sicilian Geek says:

    You had me at bacon…

    mmmmmm

  8. Kathleen10 says:

    Hey now, I love the Stooges! I can even remember my favorite bit, when a car was up on a lift and one of them was under the wheel working on it, the car started and the wheels started turning and wooop, out came the Stooge! Classic.
    However, I have to admit, we women are often party poopers, and not nearly as much fun to hang out with as the guys.

  9. John Nolan says:

    When you mentioned ‘Jihadistan’ my first thought was that your Air Force buddy was being posted to England … Or Germany …

  10. Charles E Flynn says:

    I assume that the originally clam-specific technique would apply with equal success to mussels.

    The “joe” in “book of joe” bills himself as the world’s first blogging anesthesioligist:

    Cook’s Illustrated recommends removing each clam from the steamer as it opens, and keeping the cooked ones warm together:

    <>

    Tips are in the July–August 2012 issue of Cook’s Illustrated.

    Linked from <> :

    From the “Kitchen Notes” feature of the July & August issue of Cook’s Illustrated: “When cooking hard-shell clams in the test kitchen, we’ve noticed that there can be as much as a five-minute difference between when the first clam opens and the last clam opens (indicating doneness). Clams can easily overcook once opened, leaving them chewy and shriveled. To ensure perfectly cooked clams, remove each as it opens and hold them in a plate-covered bowl, where they’ll stay warm while the rest of the clams finish cooking. This method becomes unwieldy when cooking loads of clams, but if it’s just a dozen or two, we’ve found that it’s well worth the extra effort to guarantee the best texture.”

  11. Charles E Flynn says:

    Cook’s Illustrated recommends removing each clam from the steamer as it opens, and keeping the cooked ones warm together:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IScX7YvnqU&feature=player_embedded#!

    Tips are in the July–August 2012 issue of Cook’s Illustrated.

    Linked from http://www.bookofjoe.com/2012/07/experts-experts-steaming-clams.html#comments :

    From the “Kitchen Notes” feature of the July & August issue of Cook’s Illustrated: “When cooking hard-shell clams in the test kitchen, we’ve noticed that there can be as much as a five-minute difference between when the first clam opens and the last clam opens (indicating doneness). Clams can easily overcook once opened, leaving them chewy and shriveled. To ensure perfectly cooked clams, remove each as it opens and hold them in a plate-covered bowl, where they’ll stay warm while the rest of the clams finish cooking. This method becomes unwieldy when cooking loads of clams, but if it’s just a dozen or two, we’ve found that it’s well worth the extra effort to guarantee the best texture.”

  12. Sandy says:

    It must have been fun! What tugs at my heart is your young man who is about to deploy, again!! Especially being from a military family, I feel for these people and know what deployments are like. I wonder what we are doing to all these young guys,some gals, who go over to these hellish places. Dear God, please bring them home safely and soon. I pray for our troops every day. Thank you Lord, for keeping my pilots safe (Dad and husband and son). There sure were miraculous stories!

  13. Charles E Flynn says:

    You may read in otherwise authoritative works (including those of Julia Child) that you can purge clams of sand by feeding them cornmeal. I cannot tell you how many hours it used to take to debunk this myth. It is easier now, and more recent books by seafood experts debunk the myth:

    From How To Purge Sand From Clams, by Hank Shaw:

    There is a library’s worth of bad information out there about how to purge clams, ranging from mythical to downright scary. Hopefully I can set the record straight. Here’s what you need to know to get the sand and grit out of your clams.

    Let me start by saying that the vast majority of clams, mussels and oysters you buy in the market have been purged already. You will almost never need to purge your clams if you bought them at a supermarket. The exception is if you buy from a small purveyor, and in that case just ask: Have you purged your clams?

    Wild clams and mussels are an entirely different story. They should always be purged, clams especially. Different clams need different purging times, too, depending on how and where they live. Hard shell clams in clean sand, like Eastern surf clams, cockles and quahogs, tend to be easier to purge than open-shelled clams like steamers, horseneck clams and geoducks. The worst of them all is the Western bent-nosed clam, which lives in dense mud and can take days to purge.

  14. Legisperitus says:

    My wife likes the Three Stooges, but I get sort of bored by them. More of a Marx Brothers man, I guess.

  15. cortona says:

    Cigars and fish.. lol .. hope someone had some ‘Mentos’ in their pocket.
    My son in law got himself a humidor this year. Heard the Cuban cigars aren’t what they use to be. Don’t know. Dominican Republic is suppose to be a good match for its quality.
    Heard St. Padre Pio smoked.

  16. Phil_NL says:

    Traditionally, in the low countries (Belgium and the Netherlands have an excellent cooperation regarding mussels: we know how to fish (or I should say ‘farm’) them, the Belgians know how to cook them.

    However, there’s one rule that seems to be violated here: mussels are to be eaten in all months with an ‘r’ in the name. (applies equally in English as in Dutch). June is therefore out. Of course, in modern days seafood can keep better for longer, but still… tradition has its demands!

    Or shall we note this one down as ‘organic development’? Bon appetit!

  17. Peter in Canberra says:

    eat, drink (smoke?) and be merry …

  18. un-ionized says:

    PhilNL, The R month rule originally was for those species of European oysters which brood their young, which makes the oysters taste yukky.

  19. Imrahil says:

    I wonder if there is any connection of the R month rule to the rule of St. Benedict which says that fish is to be eaten from the Exaltation of the Cross to Easter and Meat from Easter to the Exaltation of the Cross…?

  20. CoffeeBeanStina says:

    Hello–I made the infamous “bacon pie”–here is the recipe I used. Enjoy! http://chefmichaelsmith.com/recipe/potato-bacon-cheddar-tart/

  21. un-ionized says:

    Imrahil, The Rule of St. Benedict doesn’t say to eat fish at one season and meat at another. It says that one should always abstain from eating meat except in cases of illness or other special cases.

  22. Imrahil says:

    Thanks, I seem to remember that wrongly.

  23. un-ionized says:

    But you’re probably right in that it probably started way way back as some sort of Church tradition or something.

  24. un-ionized says:

    Oh, no, we’ve created two factions. The Church tradition faction and the Yukky Taste faction.

  25. Phil_NL says:

    Un-ionized,

    It most surely is a rule for mussels in these parts. And I’ll bet good money that you’d need to look no futher than the fact that, in these parts, May/June/July/August are the only months that could be warm, and hence make seafood go off quickly in the era before refrigeration, for the cause of this rule.

    Come to think of it, do mussel-fishers (or eaters, for that matter) have a patron saint?

  26. ConstantlyConverting says:

    Bacon and dairy can both be healthy and Catholic social teaching approved. Source locally, assure 100% grassfed/pasture raised and minimally processed and you’ve tied the subsidiarity and solidarity in with the environmental concerns of Laudato Si in perfect continuity. Dairy is healthier raw, but pointless if cooked ;)

    The fish is another story. Although high in omega 3 fatty acids, the farming habits and possible radiation contaminated migratory problems make it a very complicated option, health wise.

    Baaaaaaaaaacon.

  27. un-ionized says:

    Phil, surely, I was just speaking of where a rule like that comes from. Is there a patron saint of food poisoning?

  28. robtbrown says:

    For those who like oysters on the half shell: If you’re ever in New Orleans, try the charbroiled oysters @ Drago’s or Don’s Seafood (jacked up)