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Did someone slip something into my coffee yesterday morning? Or even earlier, in my sleep, was I powdered with magic dust over my dreamy eyes? From the moment I pulled one leg out of bed, the other one just jumped. From then on I was just bouncing around the house like an energizer bunny on crack. And I will acknowledge that I really don’t know what I’m talking about here, as whenever I see any drugs (crack, marihuana, ibuprofen, aleve) heading in my direction, I spin around on the ball of my foot and… sayonara! Gone, I am. Still, I was clearly high on something when I entered the kitchen soon after noon that day. I didn’t leave until 6 PM, thus sacrificing the playtime with Cosmo and completely ignoring any of my own physiological needs. What happened in between the 1200 hour and 1800 hour is a mystery, which nonetheless resulted in the birth of the following:

–       Edamame Dip

–       Pita Chips with Gruyere and Paprika

–       Quinoa Salad

–       Tuna Salad

–       Zucchini Chips

–       And last but not least – Romesco Sauce.

A sample of each and every delicacy landed on the dinner plate I assembled for Jason last night. He devoured the meal with such passion, the temperature in our freezing house (the furnace is kaput, to be fixed any day now) rose by 17 degrees. Celsius!

Ladies and Gentlemen, today I present to you…

ROMESCO SAUCE

Starring:

–       2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded

–       3 red fresno peppers, dipped in boiling water for a few minutes, then peeled      and seeded

–       12 garlic cloves

–       1/2 cup toasted almonds

–       3/4 cup halved heirloom grape tomatoes (red)

–       1/2 red onion, roughly chopped

–       1 lrg slice of rusting bread, crust off, diced

–       1/2 cup aged balsamic vinegar

–       olive oil

–       fresh dill, handful, roughly chopped

–       kosher salt, paprika and black pepper to taste.

I discovered ROMESCO SAUCE recently when I was watching one of the Bobby Flay shows on Food Network. I was so intrigued I poked around on the Internet and pulled out one of his recipes for a yellow version of the treat. But Agi being Agi, I had to do things MY WAY, because that’s how I roll.

Romesco is a Spanish sauce traditionally served with fish. However, you can use it as a dip or spread as well. I would go even as far as accenting a pork chop with a teaspoon of the delight. You see it tastes like a sweet pepper jam, if you can imagine that. Have you ever had a sweet pepper jam in your life? Exactly! You’ve got to try this one. It’s divine! Probably due to all the love it requires to make it. Some of you may think it’s a lot of work. I just call it INTENSE LOVE THERAPY.

Are you ready? Then hit that PLAY button on your screen for instructions.

Get all your ingredients ready in separate bowls. Only this one trick will make your life SO MUCH EASIER you’ll send me thank you notes and a pair of Cirque du Soleil tickets! Pour a few splashes of olive oil into a deep saucepan and heat it until it smokes. Now, one by one, sauté each ingredient for a few minutes over medium heat, ensuring that all elements of your sauce are cooked. Leave the almonds aside for toasting sans the oil. Let them get their own natural oils out when in a toaster oven or on a small dry and heated skillet. And for crying out loud, do NOT burn the garlic. Those little suckers of cloves really don’t like high heat for prolonged periods of time, so be sure to toss them around in the pan until lightly golden, and get them out of there asap.

Each ingredient, after it’s been sautéed, may be dumped directly into your prearranged food processor. When everybody’s in, pour the balsamic vinegar into the saucepan, deglaze the pan, reduce it for a minute or two, and also pour the mixture into the machine on the counter. Add fresh dill, close the lid, and press ON button. Leave it be for a couple of minutes until the sauce is of smooth and unified consistency. Turn of the food processor and taste your creation… What did I say? Isn’t it heavenly?! You may want to season it now with salt, pepper and paprika to your liking. You may spread it thinly on your toast and top with a slice of turkey, cheese and cucumber. You may want to serve it with grilled salmon or tuna, or next to the pork chops we talked about earlier. You could also bake various veggie chips and use the sauce as a dip. The possibilities are as many as you can come up with. It’s your game. You set the rules.

All I know is that by making this sauce I raised my very personal bar of culinary standards set in my house. I have so much more respect for myself now that I made my own Romesco Sauce. Are you kidding me? This rocks! Now it’s your turn. Go and make me proud. I promise that your every effort will be rewarded tenfold.

All right. That’s all she wrote.

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Summer is officially over. Gone. Dead. Caput. Finito. It’s true all around the Northern Hemisphere EXCEPT from Los-fooking-Angeles. I am so over the heat wave it’s not even funny. I haven’t had a drop of alcohol in forever it seems (at least five days) and yet, I can still literally feel the grey cells in my brain frying to death, one by one, forming a globe of sunny-side-ups. Conclusion – high temperatures make me stupid. In the body of evidence I wish to include:

Exhibit #1: I chased Cosmo on all fours with his tennis ball in my mouth. (By Cosmo I mean our almost 4-year old pup.)

Exhibit #2: I listened to Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros so loud that I pissed off Einstein and he dropped his own biography off of the shelf right on my head, “Watchmen” dove next, and Bukowski straight up threw at me his “Tales of Ordinary Madness”. Ouch!

Exhibit #3: I jumped in my underwear around the bedroom kangaroo-style convinced I was dancing, causing Cosmo to howl out loud an aria from “Madame Butterfly” – the only way he knew to get my attention while in the state of this…non-ordinary madness.

Exhibit #4: I made Fettucini with Scrambled Eggs for dinner, which my boyfriend, whose level of tolerance and love for me is bewildering, actually enjoyed! Wait, this is not proof against my mental proficiency. I guess the part of my brain responsible for cooking remained intact.

Baruch Hashem! Yes, thanks to all gods for not taking away the one dubious skill I’ve been mastering in this chapter of my life, especially now that I think my sweat-laden efforts are about to come to fruition. I’ll explain.

When I entered my thirties, like many, I also realized it was time to stop the silly games of uncontrolled youth, recover my self-respect and find a purpose and place within society. (I know you’re secretly judging me now. If you think that I did … well… you’re wrong!) I decided that I needed to find some good man and have the poor fuck make an honest woman out of me. And then I met Jason…

JASON IN NATURE

This man exceeded ANY expectations I may have had for a Future Father Of My Children. We are so disgustingly happy I will spare you the details, because they get graphic and may cause you nausea, headache, and shingles. However, my original objective (from when – remember? – I had first gone on the man hunt to merely swap my last name for a one easier to pronounce and seal it with a semi-precious metal band on my finger) inevitably changed. Because I care about the guy SO MUCH, not only did I want HIM, but I also needed to sway the “in-laws” and prove I was THE ONE for their beloved firstborn.

The perfect opportunity arose when Jason’s parents agreed to come and visit with us for a week. Yes, we’ve met before, and – as one would expect gauging from how they raised their offspring – they are a perfectly delightful and lovable couple. They are so adorable, in fact, every time I see them I want to squeeze their cheeks and hug the living god out of them. But that’s just me.  You never know with the in-laws!

Since I didn’t have a royal family to back me up, nor did I live in an African tribe where my father could just offer me to any willing male along with a cow, a mule, and three silver coins, I had to rely on my own resources. I cleaned the house, dusted my “cute” Polish accent, sprayed myself heavily with virgin-like innocence and charm, and planned with Jason a fun week for his folks.

We didn’t waste any time and drove them straight from the airport to the wine country for wine tasting. We let them get happy in Solvang, after which we all HIT THE PARTY SCENE in LA.. Considering their average alcohol consumption is nearly zero I must admit – Jason’s parents were great sports!

J'S FOLKS

After all that play, it was time for my last bullet – an olde trick my witch mother (good witch) taught me years ago in Poland. I was going to woo them through their stomachs with my secret ingredient – LOVAGE, an herb for centuries used in love spells and love tonics. I invited a few friends over under a pretext of a party, and prepared a feast. On the menu were:

ORZO SALAD

1.    Orzo Pasta with Asparagus and Smoked Salmon

2.    Whole-wheat Fettucini with Short Ribs and Chocolate

3.    Penne with Butternut Squash and Mascarpone Sauce

4.    Baked Brie with Honey and Roasted Walnuts

5.    Homemade Pita Chips with Hummus and Edamame Dip

6.    Almond Meal Cake with Balsamic Reduction (see the recipe here)

HONEY

At least three of the above listed items had flakes of dried lovage in it. And the herb did its magic! Just days after they left, Jason’s parents emailed me for the recipe for the pita chips and a soup I made for them earlier. Not only did they already make both, but they are entering a Soup Contest this Sunday with my soup. Did they get hooked or what?

Since it was such a hit during the impromptu party today I’ll share with you a recipe for the Edamame Dip that you could also serve with homemade Pita Chips.

EDAMAME DIP + CHIPS

Nothing easier than the latter. Preheat an oven to 350˚. Remove pita bread from a bag, and cut all pieces into eights. Spread the wedges on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle over with any kind of coarse sea salt, dry herb (Lovage, Herbs de Provence, Oregano – your choice), and/or ground parmesan cheese, or sesame seeds. Load the sheet pan into the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes until the chips are crisp, but not burnt to DEATH!

As for the Edamame Dip, you’ll need:

–       1 package of frozen edamame (14 oz –ish)

–       1 small container of non-fat greek style yogurt

–       1-2 tbsp of good olive oil

–       1-2 cloves of garlic

–       lemon juice of 1 lemon

–       1/2 cup of fresh cilantro or dill, chopped

–       sea salt + freshly ground black pepper to taste

–       If wooing is an objective add 1/4 tsp of dry lovage (optional)

What do you do now? Empty the packaged edamame into a pot of boiling water and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool. Next, throw your chilled beans into a food processor, add the yogurt, roughly chopped garlic, lemon juice, herbage, salt and pepper, and close the lid. Pulse until all components are semi-combined. Then turn the machine back on again, and as its blade is spinning and massacring the ingredients inside, pour the oil in and let it all become one coherent light green mass of a dip. Take a taste, and if the flavor feels balanced set in a refrigerator in a closed container to cool. Serve as suggested above. Feed it to someone special and just watch what happens!

I expect a report back on Monday.

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