This Week

Mack's Corner

This Week

Best Meal you ever had..

I Went to a culinary school graduation and the speaker asked: "Do you remember the best meal you ever had?" .. I knew it immediately.. I knew #1,#2,#3,… #22.. 5 of them here in Memphis, Iris, Andrew/Michael, Deli Mexicana, Swiss Manner (closed), La Tourelle (closed)… 2 in New Orleans, 5 in Napa, 3 in San Francisco, 1 in New York, 1 in Chicago, 2 in Dallas, 1 in Fort Worth, and 2 in Austin. Then he said the thing you remember most about a restaurant is not the food or the service but how they made you feel. Did you feel loved? Did you feel special? … #1 was in New York at Per Se, Some of the most amazing food I've ever had and 2 of the nicest guys ever waiting on our table. I felt so at home and so comfortable, I could have stayed there all night. It overlooks Columbus Circle from the 4th floor of the Time Warner building with an all glass front. I was hypnotized watching the traffic make the loop, watching the graceful waiters flow through the restaurant, hearing them quietly announce to each table what course they we about to eat. It was so peaceful. I just sat there and let them take care of me. They kept bringing food (I cried at course #3, it was so good) and talking to us, suggesting things they thought we would like.  4 hours later I was surprised when we had to leave…  Already?

I also remember the worst meal I ever had, that was in north Mississippi. The chef is from New Orleans and supposed to have great Cajun food and great seafood… As I looked at the menu I noticed everything had shrimp in it, everything!.. I'm allergic to shrimp so I asked the waiter to recommend something without shrimp. She said "Everybody likes the "Surf & Turf".. Steak & Lobster.. How about that?" ..  I haven't had Steak & Lobster since the 70's but that sounded ok and she was so excited about it, I figured they sold it a lot. I said ok… Steak & Lobster should be a small filet about 2 inches thick, nice crust on both sides, red in the middle, and a small lobster tail (probably frozen, but delivered the same week) baked with butter and served with butter. It should have a light, sweet ocean smell, like fresh shrimp only richer .. The more I thought about it the more excited I got, this was going to be ok.. maybe he'll put a little dirty rice on the side or some Andouille slices to make it Cajun ….. I smelled it the second she came through the kitchen door 50 feet away. It smelled like the inside of an old shoe that somebody had just taken off. Like they had a bunch of those perfume spritzers like they have in the perfume department at Macy's and 20 girls had just walked out of the kitchen spritzing "ode de foot". She put the plate down in front of me and said "Enjoy!"…. Not only did the lobster have that weird smell and look dry and hard, but the steak looked more like a hamburger. Round, 4 inches across, 1/2 inch thick, rounded over edges, gray, perfect grill marks. This steak came out of a bag, frozen and then cooked in a microwave. This was like Hospital food. Those grill marks had been put there before it went in the bag. I felt like I was being filmed as part of "Kitchen Nightmares" on the first day… I called the waiter over and told her the lobster smelled really bad and asked her if the chef had smelled it. She took it back. A few minutes later she came back and said the most amazing thing I've ever heard in a restaurant: "The chef is checking the "Cook by" dates on the lobster."… So he's probably had it in his freezer for 6 months, maybe a year… She brought back another one, same smell. I bet he had 10 cases of this junk. I told her she could take that one back too… All I could think of was how good this could have been with the smallest amount of effort. As simple as buying small amounts, fresh every day and not accepting it if it wasn't. Simple, Fresh, cooked right.. I felt cheated…. I couldn't wait to go home eat a can of tuna with some  crackers.. Haut Cuisine! And it didn't smell like feet..

God's like that: He's got so many good things for us, simple and fresh. "Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!" He wants you to feel loved. He wants you to feel special. He wants to take care of you. Let him… Or you can smell like feet!

Anybody want to go to New York? I'm buying! Maybe Just Deli Mexicana for lunch …


Cooking 220 - 2 pans, 2 burners, 20 minutes:

With Fall in the air I thought I would give you a great quick soup. This is from Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc cookbook …. I'm going to change it a little to make it easier and quicker …

Cooking 220 is a thing I came up with while I was trying to think of something to do for The Hope Market Square(This Wednesday 9/26 & Thursday 9/27). Rick Farmer (a real chef) and I were doing a cooking demo. I'm always trying to come up with something that is simple and great for cooking 220.. So here's the rules for Cooking 220: 2 pans, 2 burners, 20 minutes …. This is how I used to cook in college. I had an electric skillet and a popcorn popper = 2 pans, 2 burners. I fed 6 guys almost every night…. Here's the first one..

Cream of Cauliflower soup with red Beets

Don't let the beets run you off. Beets are great. They don't really taste like those funny things your grandmother made..

2 heads cauliflower (4 to 5 pounds)

4 tbsp butter

3/4  cup chopped onion (1 medium onion)

3/4 cup chopped leeks (2 leeks) or just use another onion.. (to clean leeks chop off root end, then slice through the middle from root to start of green part. Turn the leek and slice again so that you have the leek still together but sliced in to 1/4 's . Hold it under running water and wash out all the dirt between the layers… then chop across starting at root end up green part)

1/4 tsp Yellow curry powder or Madras or sweet curry powder (Penzey's)


2 cups milk

2 cups cream

2 cups water

1 bunch of beets (usually 2 or 3 tied together) Green stems still on.

For the beets:

The best way to trim a beet without getting red beet juice all over you is to hold the stem in one hand cut the tail end off. Then peel the beet with a veg peeler while still holding the stem. Cut the beet in to slices from the bottom up …  set aside in a bowl..

For the cauliflower:

Remove the leaves and cut out the core.

Coarsely chop the cauliflower in to 1 inch pieces.. You need 8 cups of cauliflower..

Melt 3 tbsp of butter in a large pot. Add onion, leeks, curry, and cauliflower. Season with 2 tsp of salt, cover and cook, stirring occasionally until vegetables are almost tender, about 20 min…

I know this is longer than 20 min, so go watch TV or take a nap during this next part ..

Pour in Milk, cream, and water.. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 min…

Working in batches, transfer the soup to a food processor and puree. Pour in a bowl and do the next batch … After it's all processed Pour the soup back in to the pan and keep warm… adjust seasoning .. salt, pepper…

Heat up a skillet, add 2 tbsp oil and sauté the beets till tender.. Season with salt and pepper .. Taste the beets… Great aren't they?

To serve: Ladle the soup in to a bowl, then place some of the beets in the center, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with pepper … a big hunk of bread and you're ready…..

This is great comfort food, like getting a hug from your best friend..


How about saving a kid's life!!

When you give Platelets it's like giving St Jude $700 - $1000. If we don't give them, they have to buy them.

Giving Platelets is like giving blood, it just takes longer (1 1/2 hours) and you get all of your blood back (so you can do it every week if you want) . I know it's a long trip to go all the way down to St Jude, but you may be saving a kid's life . plus you get to watch a movie while you're there. Call Kim at 901.595.2024 and she'll setup an appointment and treat you like family. Just tell her you're from Hope.

Directions: From Poplar, turn north on Third Street, then right on Lauderdale/Jackson Ave (first right after you go under the expressway). Enter through the north guard gate (you'll see the Danny Thomas Pavilion. Gold top).

Tell the guard at the gate that you are here to donate blood. The guard will instruct you where to park. You will then enter the hospital by the red side door closest to the blood donor parking lot. The Blood Donor Center is in the southwest corner of the hospital on the ground floor.

Appointment times are generally available Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 4:00pm. Except on Tuesdays they start at 9:15am.

See you this weekend. Bring a friend. It's going to be great!!!



Posted by Mack Oates at 10:12 AM