Mack's Corner

This Week

Just another Day

I was thinking about New Year's eve. I don't really get why it's such a big deal to people. It's just another day. The only thing different is that you have to learn to write the new year on your checks, not really a life changing event. I was trying to think of a New Year's Eve or a New Year's Day that was memorable, couldn't. The only thing I remember about New Year's Eve parties was the minute before midnight. That's when everybody feels like they have to kiss somebody, and you have to start getting in position. Of course if you're there with your wife or girlfriend, it's not a hard choice, at least not if you want to live through New Year's Day. If not you want to find several pretty girls all standing together and kinda get in the middle. Then you improve your chances. Most of these things don't look like those soap opera New Year's Eve parties, where everybody is beautiful and looks like they just came in from the beach, you have to be strategic. Then the moment comes… 12 o'clock, you turn around, you're all ready and you get it right on the lips from Freeda Farkle, the only girl you know that can count with her ears, and whistle Dixie through her nose and has breath like she just ate a frog. She steps back with that look in her eyes as if to say "When are we getting married?" …. Some women will say that's terrible, but they know that they do the exact same thing. They don't go to New Year's Eve parties because the guacamole is good. But they too usually get to kiss Ferd Burffel who's car smells like several dogs have been living in it and has to spit after the kiss because he's got that little pinch between his cheek and gum. Romance is everywhere!!  If anybody asked me what I was doing at midnight any time after 1977, I was either kissing my wife or sound asleep. Before 1977, I have no idea, It's just another day with one scary minute ……

God's like that: people get all excited about something God does in their life and then they start saying they're going to change this part of their life or they're going to never do that again or they're going to read the whole Bible every month. Then they fail and they think it was all for nothing and they'll just go back to what they were doing before. God doesn't mind if you fail, he only minds if you quit. To God it's a daily thing, it's a relationship: "Hey, how you doing? Sleep good?" .. "It was OK … What are we doing today?" …  "Tell you later …. That was fun last night wasn't it?" …"yep!" …. "I've got lots of cool stuff planned for today ….. Ready to start?" …. It's just another day….

Maybe I can start a new tradition where at all New Year's Eve parties everybody has to wear a mask and they hand out breath mints 2 minutes before midnight… that might be too scary? ….

Happy New Year!!!!


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

So New Year's day, guys going to watch football all day, girls are going to the movies. So I'm going to start you out with something great for breakfast/brunch then something you can leave at home for the guys to eat later at halftime….

First one: Sherried Mushrooms with Fried Eggs on Toast … This is from Cindy Pawlcyn. Her Restaurants are Mustards, and Cindy's BackStreet  .. both are in Napa Valley … Cindy's BackStreet in in St Helena is one of my favorite places .. It's right next to Terra, another one of my favorite places..  

Sherried Mushrooms with Fried Eggs on Toast 

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing

3/4 pound mixed mushrooms, such as button and cremini, sliced 1/4 inch thick (nothing fancy)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 small onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup dry sherry, such as Oloroso (optional)

Four 1/2-inch-thick slices of rustic white bread (thick sourdough.. something like that.. nothing fancy)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 large eggs

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional - just garnish)

Preheat the oven to 400°.

In a large skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering.

Add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper.

Cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring a few times, until softened, 4 minutes.

Add the onion, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and the mushrooms are browned, 3 minutes longer.

Add the sherry and cook until almost evaporated, 1 minute.

Taste, Taste, Taste!!!

Re-Season with salt and pepper.

Remove from the heat, cover and set aside.

Arrange the bread slices on a large rimmed baking sheet and brush/drizzle with olive oil and lightly sprinkle with salt.

Bake for about 6 minutes, until toasted. Transfer the toasts to plates. (pay attention!! It will burn in a heartbeat!!!)

In a large, nonstick skillet, melt the butter over moderate heat. Crack the eggs one at a time into a ramekin and then slip into the skillet. Cook the eggs, sunny-side up, until the whites are firm and the yolks runny, about 5 minutes. (Obviously, you can cook them as hard as you want… I like runny)

Spoon the mushroom mixture onto the toasts and top with the fried eggs. Garnish with the parsley and serve.

MAKE AHEAD: The cooked mushrooms can be refrigerated overnight. Reheat gently.


Second one: This one is from Scott Conant, one of the great Italian chefs in New York. His Restaurant is Scarpetta on West 14th Street (corner 9th ave).

Mushroom Spaghetti:

4 ounces white button mushrooms, thinly sliced

3/4 cup peeled garlic cloves (4 ounces, from about 4 heads) (Seems like a lot doesn't it .. you'll see …. Whole cloves, don't cut them!)

2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (nothing fancy)

Two 28-ounce cans peeled Italian tomatoes with their juices (Hunts)


Freshly ground pepper

1 pound spaghetti (De Cecco)

1/4 cup torn basil leaves

Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving (use Romano Cheese, it way cheaper)

In a saucepan, bring the mushrooms and 3 cups of water to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until the broth is reduced to 1 cup, 1 hour. Strain and discard the mushrooms.

Be Careful Here!! Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the garlic and olive oil to a boil, then quickly turn it down to a simmer (small bubbles). (This is why it takes so much garlic. It is going to cook most of the strong flavor out.) Simmer over moderately low heat, stirring, until the garlic is very tender and golden, about 30 minutes.

(if you don't have an immersion blender, skip this step)In a large enameled cast-iron casserole or Dutch oven or Iron skillet, bring the tomatoes and the garlic and oil to a boil.

Add the mushroom broth and, using an immersion blender, puree the sauce until smooth.


Put the tomatoes and cooled oil and garlic in a food processor.. be careful, it's really hot.. While it's running, add the mushroom broth… puree the sauce until smooth.... Put the sauce back in a large enameled cast-iron casserole or Dutch oven or Iron skillet.

Bring the sauce back to a boil, then simmer (small bubble) over moderately low heat until thickened, about 1 hour. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Taste, taste, taste!!!

STOP!!!! At this point you are done until game time. Put it in the fridge. The guys can take it from here..

Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente (according to directions on the box… use De Cecco pasta and follow the directions and it will be perfect every time.. Blue & Yellow box).

Drain the spaghetti and return to the pot.

Add 2 cups of the sauce (or all of it) and cook, tossing, for 2 minutes.

Transfer the spaghetti to bowls, top with the basil and serve with grated cheese.

MAKE AHEAD The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

If you've got a bunch of people coming, triple the recipe. It's easy and cheap…. Don't go broke making football food..


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 9:18 AM