Monthly Archives: October 2011

Happy as a Clam: Or Baked Oysters with Garlic Breadcrumbs

No matter how old we are, it’s good to be kids again. This weekend I’m happy as a clam because my Dad (aka Big Tim) is visiting from New England. In a family as big (and admittedly self-congratulatory) as The Malarkeys someone is always having a birthday, graduation, bon voyage party, welcome home party. You name it…we’ve celebrated it. Tomorrow we’ll be raising our glasses to toast Topher’s Birthday at Dinette. Before we do though, there have of course been multiple family dinners and meals to be had.

One of the things I love about cooking with my Dad is that if it’s possible he loves meal planning, and cooking, and talking about food, and brainstorming over the next feast almost more than I do. Yesterday we went to three grocery stores to get all the goodies for a delicious dinner of Cider Braised Pork Shoulder, Homemade Biscuits, Steamed Broccoli, and Tim’s very own gingerbread cake that was out of this world.

Big T Baking up a Storm in the Kitchen

To start though we had absolutely delicious baked oysters from Ethan Stowell’s New Italian Kitchen cookbook. I’ve been wanting to make these for a while and they didn’t disappoint. The reserved oyster and lemon juice helps keep the flavor typically lost when baking oysters. The garlic breadcrumbs are so good I could eat them on their own, and served on rock salt it makes a very festive and pretty dinner appetizer.

Team Malarkey

Serve them when you couldn’t be happier to have your Daddy in town for the weekend and you get to be first and foremost a daughter.

Baked Oysters with Garlic Breadcrumbs
Adapted from Ethan Stowell’s New Italian Kitchen

These were so good we actually rationed out how many we could each have.

1/2 cup Garlic Breadcrumbs

3 cloves garlic, very finely chopped

3 heaping tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly cracked pepper

24 Penn Cove Oysters (Ethan recommends kusshi, but they’re twice the cost of Penn Cove which for this I think are just as good)

Rock Salt

Juice of 1 lemon

Extra-virgin olive oil.

  1. Pre-heat the boiler on the lowest setting.
  2. Combine the breadcrumbs with the garlic, parsley, and salt and pepper.
  3. Shuck the oysters over a bowl to catch the liquid. Discard the top shells. Put an inch or so of rock salt in a 9×12 baking dish. Stabilize the bottom shells in the rock salt and return the shucked oysters to that shell.
  4. Strain the reserved oyster liquid through a strainer and add the lemon juice. Divide the liquid among the oysters.
  5. Sprinkle the oysters very liberally with the breadcrumb mixture and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Broil for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and crispy. Serve immediately.

Garlic Breadcrumbs

1/2 pound stale bread, sliced

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, smashed with a knife

Kosher Salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Place the bread slices on a cookie sheet and bake until lightly toasted and dry, 10-12 minutes, turning halfway through. While the bread toasts, place the olive oil and garlic in a saute plan and set over low heat. Cook gently, allowing the garlic to infuse the oil.
  3. When the bread slices are toasted, place in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add the crumbs to the garlic oil and stir gently until coated. Season to taste with salt and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the oil is absorbed. Remove the garlic cloves. Will keep in an airtight container for about 2 weeks.

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Filed under Entertaining, Seafood, Uncategorized

Small Triumphs: Polenta Gratin with Kale and Cremini Mushrooms

First of all…wow! Thank you all for the support, encouragement, comments, and words of wisdom. “I’m not writing in a vacuum! There are people out there! Hooray!” Thanks to you all, Old Spice Man generated more hits in one day than any other post, save for when Food & Wine re-tweeted my Short Ribs (which I was embarrassingly excited about.)

But enough whining and philosophizing about The Writer’s Process…let’s get back to the food. And damn good food at that.  This year we had the pleasure of participating in Hand-Farmed Organic‘s first community supported agriculture (CSA) project. We signed up for a half-share, which proved to be plenty for two of us, so every other week Casey would drop by our house at the end of the day and deliver a wax covered cardboard box brimming with beautiful vegetables. Perhaps the only one more excited about its arrival than I, was this guy, who proved to be a veritable vegetable lover.

Happy Dog

His Royal Highness, the Duke of Tacoma, 10 mos old

Duke would eat just about anything…carrots, squash, and what quickly became his favorite…the radishes which he would bat around the house, sneak up on, and dive bomb from the top of the stairs until it rolled under the couch at which point he would flop down and look at his lost treasure beseechingly until Matt or I caved and got it back out for him.

In each and every box there were delicious fruits and vegetables…and then there was the kale. The freaking kale that just kept coming and coming and always seemed more bountiful and plentiful than the week before. I tried making Kale Chips like my friend Karla, but they weren’t nearly as good as hers…I made a Kale and Gruyere Frittata, but there’s only so many of those you can eat, and once or twice I guiltily yard-wasted the kale when the new box arrived and I still hadn’t done anything with it.

Up until last night it was Kale: 10, Erina: 0.

Photo Compliments of

Until last night, when trying to think of a starch I could make for our friend CJ who is wheat intolerant I stumbled across a polenta and spinach gratin. I love all gratins (I mean, what’s not to love, creamy unhealthy deliciousness), and thought there’s no reason I couldn’t substitute kale for spinach.

It was outstanding. The polenta in the tube couldn’t be easier, and the recipe calls for 8 cups of Kale, which totally cleaned out my supply and rendered me obnoxiously triumphant.

The perfect side to a yummy fall dinner.

Polenta Gratin with Kale and Cremini Mushrooms
Adapted from Food & Wine
Serves 4-6

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

12 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms (5 cups)

1 large shallot, minced

8 cups kale, center stems removed, washed, dried, and coarsely chopped

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (I used rice flour)

3/4 cup beef stock (or vegetable stock)

1/2 cup whipping cream

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

One 18-ounce log of prepared polenta, cut into 1/4-inch slices

3 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded (1 cup)

Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the mushrooms and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Add the shallot and cook over moderately low heat for 3 minutes. Add the kale and cook over high heat until the kale has wilted, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the kale and mushrooms evenly in a 2-quart baking dish.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour over moderately high heat. Add the stock, cream, and nutmeg and whisk until thickened, about 10 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper and pour over the kale. Arrange the polenta slices on top of the kale in overlapping concentric circles, pressing to submerge the polenta slightly. Sprinkle the Gruyère on the polenta, cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.

Preheat the broiler. Uncover the polenta and broil 6 inches from the heat for about 2 minutes, or until golden. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

 Make Ahead The unbaked gratin can be refrigerated overnight.




Filed under Comfort Foods, Entertaining, Make ahead, Seasonal Cooking, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

What Old Spice Man and Amanda Knox have in Common

Tonight I attended a dinner where the lead speaker was Jason Bagley (Creative Director at Wieden & Kennedy), the mastermind behind the hunk-a-hunk-a burning love Old Spice Man.  Also in attendance was David Marriott, the man currently being heralded with having a critical role in shifting Amanda Knox’s  public persona from “she-devil” to “all American girl” being penalized for anti-American sentiment by a corrupt Italian legal system.


Now, since it’s my shameless dream to become a famous food blogger like the lovely Molly Wizenberg of Orangette, or perhaps even better yet, become a famous food critic who travels the world eating in amazing restaurants while still miraculously maintaining my size four (ha) figure, I paid close attention.

He had ten tips for how to absolutely 100% guarantee something goes viral. Unfortunately for me…the ones I really liked are still a bit out of reach (hire a team of geeks and get random celebrities like Michael Bolton and Fabio to do TV spots for you), but there were a few that also resonated that I’m going to try to employ into my blogging.

Note: This is where you, reader, come in.

  1. Be Nimble – It’s easy to start overthinking something like a blog. “Who’s reading it? Is anyone reading it? It can’t just be my mom reading it…can it? Do people think I’m funny? Do they think I’m pretty? Do they like my food?” The more that little voice goes off in my head the longer it takes for me to post. So resolution #1 – Don’t get so hung up on being perfect. Just Shut Up & Cook.
  2. Be Controversial – It’s not my nature to be controversial (unless you count Foie Gras or pink headbands at funerals), but I’m going to try to stretch the limits a little bit here. Even the title of this post is beyond my comfort zone. I promise I won’t make penis cupcakes or anything like that…but get ready for some wild times here at ‘ol Shut Up & Cook.
  3. Keep the Conversation Going – This is your blog too. Tell me what food you love, what you hate, what you can’t seem to figure out. A new reader from Pennsylvania is interested in, “Healthy breakfast muffins! I have eaten the same quinoa carrot muffin every morning for too long now!” What do you want to talk about? Come on….comment people! Please?

And with that I’m going to curl up with my man and my dogs…no recipe, no distraction, no crappy iPhone picture,…and commit myself to Jason’s last piece of advice as it applies to this blog and my pursuit for it to be your favorite (and your friend’s favorite…and your friend’s friends favorite), which is:

Fail Harder.

You should just see how terrible some of the Old Spice ads were before Isaiah Mustafa graced us all with his devilish good looks and gorgeous abs.

I’m going to take a deep breath, hit “Publish”, dive into bed, and definitely, not at all, not even a little, feverishly check my site stats to see how many of you have read this thereby satisfying Jason’s ABSOLUTE 100% GUARANTEE SOMETHING GOES VIRAL.


Filed under Kitchen Trials and Tribulations, Uncategorized

The Classics: Knife and Fork Chicken Parmesan Sandwich

I almost never make the same thing twice. Perhaps it is because the ever-growing pile of cookbooks and magazines in my kitchen creates a minor level of anxiety that “I don’t have time to make that again!!! Do you have any idea how many recipes there are in the world??”

And yet, as I look at the search terms that consistently drive people to Shut Up & Cook, it’s the same few items over and over again.

There are also the slightly ridiculous search terms. A few favorites include:

  • “shut up and cook chili”
  • “how to pronounce seared”
  • “big butt cupcakes” (isn’t that awesome?)

So yesterday when I was starving and thinking about what to make, what I really wanted was a good ‘ol fashioned Chicken Parmesan Sandwich. And without fail, the little voice in my head went off, “You can’t make that!! You just got a new Food & Wine. Do you have any idea how EASY and BORING that is?!?!”

Fortunately for me, sheer hunger took over as did our impending trip to Ikea and I threw my culinary snobbery to the wind, grabbed the bag of prepared Chicken Tenders from our freezer (yes, gasp, I know) and made a massively delicious sandwich.

To be fair, I dressed it up with slow roasted tomatoes and cilantro pesto, but it was still damn easy and damn good.

Sometimes we need to remember it’s okay to stick with the classics, and not always reinvent the wheel…remind me of that when I forget, would you please?

Knife and Fork Chicken Parmesan Sandwich

Knife and Fork Chicken Parmesan Sandwich

As the name implies, this is definitely a knife and fork sandwich. Delicious with a glass of red wine such as a Syrah.

Serves 2.

  • 4- 6 Breaded Chicken Tenders, pending on size. Costco has some good options here
  • 2 Ciabatta rolls, cut in half
  • Cilantro Pesto – Recipe coming soon or store-bought would be fine
  • Slow Roasted Tomatoes – Recipe coming soon or store-bought would be fine
  • 2 Slices Mozzarella
  • Handful of Arugula
  1. Preheat oven to 450. On a cookie sheet lined with foil place tenders and cook for 20 minutes until beginning to brown. Turn half-way through.
  2. Meanwhile, spread approximately 2 TB pesto on the top half of each ciabatta. Top with a slice of mozzarella. Spread approximately 1/4 cup slow roasted tomatoes on the bottom half of each ciabatta.

    Slow Roasting Tomatoes

  3. Pull the cookie sheet from the oven, and leaving the chicken tenders on there, add the bread next to the tenders, with the pesto/cheese and tomatoes facing up.
  4. Add back to the oven and cook until bread is toasted and cheese is bubbling. About 10 minutes.
  5. To assemble sandwiches take the bottoms, add the chicken tenders, add a handful of arugula, and top with the upper halves.
  6. Enjoy with a knife and fork!

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Filed under Comfort Foods