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Your Own Back Yard – Michael Gillan Maxwell

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The Lunch Lady Cookbook Summer Edition Sizzlin’ Summer Slam Extravaganza Volume I

Blues in the Bottle

Hey there everybody! This is The Lunch Laddy, Michael Gillan Maxwell, bringing you a special summer edition of The Lunch Lady Cookbook. As Alice Cooper said:” School’s out for summer!” Right? You know it Baby ~ and when school’s out, that means the Lunch Lady is chillin’ like a villain and gellin’ like a felon ~ but there are  still plenty of Lunch Lady doings to rant and rave about.

First of all, it’s been a scorcher. It’s as hot as a dockers armpit, so hot even my sweat is sweating, hot as a marathon runner’s jockstrap, sweating bullets and hotter than a two peckered billy goat, hotter than Hades and sweating like a stevedore, hotter than a hen in a wool blanket, hotter than a two dollar pistol, hotter than bus station chili, hotter’n a burnt boot, hot as Methodist Hell, hotter than the hinges hangin’ off the gates of Hell, oy it’s a schvittz out there!

Conflagration

Some of you have been writing me to say:”What gives Lunch Laddy? Who takes the summer off anymore? People gotta eat!” You have spoken and I am listening, good people. Not only do people gotta eat, but people gotta drink too. There may be some of that here in The Lunch Lady Cookbook Summer edition. Just you wait and see.

Summer Grill

Summer is the right time for the night time to fire up the grill! The coals should be just past the point of incinerating anything that comes near them. I always find it best to start with a humongous pyre on a spit of land that is surrounded on three sides by water. That way if things get out of control it greatly increases your odds of outrunning the conflagration, should things get out of hand and if that doesn’t work, you can dive into the water in any one of three directions. On Seneca Lake there are any number of wineries or microbreweries that you can swim to while you recover from the trauma.

Dusk on Fir Tree Point
Firing Up the Coals I
Firing Up the Coals II

So getting down to brass tacks. The Event of the Season was The Lunch Laddy’s “Lunch Lady Cookout for the Summer Babies” (which of course was a thinly veiled excuse to invite all my friends over to give me presents!) My oldest childhood friend, Mike (by that, I mean he’s 1 day older than me) flew out from Wisconsin so we could celebrate our birthdays together. Needless to say, our reunion set a new standard for civilized discourse and sophisticated entertaining for generations to come. It was ascots and cocktails at Noel Coward’s all the way..

English Butler
Basic Supplies
Fancy Hors D’oevres
Basic Munchies

The menu was replete with summer classics ~ all kinds of skewered stuff, flaming grills, blues, cold beer, watermelon, sweet corn, chicken spiedies, venison spiedies, shrimp on the barbie, summer salads a-go-go, carrot cake, banana bread, blueberry bread  and about 52 bottles of wine that my friend Jeff brought (what kind of man does he think I am anyway???) I served elegant hors-d’oeuvres on pirate themed dinnerware and we played ukeleles ‘till dawn. Thankfully no animals were injured in the making of that party. I even successfully navigated that most prosaic of summer dishes, but one who’s essence has eluded me ~the time honored, but very underestimated: “Potato Salad”

Lunch Lady Summer Slam Potato Salad

2 pounds eensie weensie itty bitty fresh red potatoes (no ~ don’t even THINK of skinning them!)

1 cup Spanish onion (finely chopped)

1/2 cup fresh celery (finely chopped)

3 scallions sliced diced signed sealed and delivered

Cilantro, basil and chives from the Lunch Lady’s Herb Garden

Pink Hawaiian Sea Salt, pepper, garlic powder

Mayonnaise (4 tablespoons ~ maybe more)

1 Tablespoon of hot, horseradish mustard

Steam potatoes until done ( not too done ~still a touch on the firm side ~ if potatoes could be ‘al dente” that would be it) Chill in fridge until cool. (or even cold)

Slice and dice ~ along with everything else on this list. (Watch your fingers)

Add together with mayonnaise in a large mixing bowl.

Add spices liberally. (Season to taste)

Chill.

Serve on pirate themed dinnerware.

Pirate Themed Dinnerware
Pirate Themed Napkins

Beverage pairings:

9 bottles of wine ~ mostly Spanish Reserve Riojas

Ice cold beer

Grey Goose Vodka and Pomegranate Juice (it’s brimming with antioxidants)

What Kind of Man Do These People Think I Am?

Music pairing:

The Lunch Lady Summer Baby Birthday Mix

  1. Birthday     The Beatles
  2. The Stumble      Freddy King
  3. Treat Her Right Roy Head & The Traits
  4. Boogaloo Down Broadway     The Fantastic Johnny C
  5. Haunted House  Roy Buchanan
  6. Mr. Pitiful Otis Redding
  7. Barefootin’     Robert Parker
  8. Tramp     Otis Redding
  9. Knock On Wood  Sam and Dave
  10. Land Of 1000 Dances Wilson Pickett
  11. Cool Jerk The Capitols
  12. Nashville Cats The Lovin’ Spoonful
  13. Respect Aretha Franklin
  14. Soul Man Sam & Dave
  15. Walking the Dog Rufus Thomas
  16. Peter Gunn     Duane Eddy
  17. Rumble Link Wray
  18. Darlin’ Companion The Lovin’ Spoonful
  19. California Sun    The Rivieras
  20. Bad Boy The Beatles
  21. Lovin’ You    The Lovin’ Spoonful
  22. Polk Salad Annie    Tony Joe White
  23. Henry Thomas The Lovin’ Spoonful
  24. Six Days On the Road Dave Dudley
  25. (You’re The) Devil In Disguise Elvis Presley

Repeat as necessary then follow up with playing ukeleles ‘till dawn. It helps if you can pay your neighbors to leave town for the weekend. I think that’s one of the reasons I still have a squeaky clean criminal record. If you ever sleep over at my house there will always be a fresh kazoo next to your bed, in case of emergency.

That’s it for Vol.I ! Stay cool and keep it on the DL…..

Be back soon with:

The Lunch Lady Cookbook

Summer Edition Sizzlin’ Summer Slam Extravaganza ~ Volume II

(Spoiler alert ~ It involves 2 pounds of BACON!)

Happy Dance

Lunch Lady Husky Tuscan Rustic Pizza

~The Lunch Lady Cookbook Presents ~

Lunch Lady Husky Tuscan Rustic Pizza

Cooking

Hey there fellow gustatory travelers, gastronomic wanderers, and seekers on the epicurean path! This is the Lunch Laddy, Michael Gillan Maxwell coming to you across space and time with a spontaneous and unplanned outburst that has morphed into a new installment of The Lunch Lady Cookbook. Today we venture down the path of one of the most sacred and venerable of all comfort foods ~ the time honored classic with humble beginnings ~ PIZZA.  Ah yes pizza ~ and I’m here to tell you, that unlike some of the other recipes in The Lunch Lady Cookbook, this IS a staple served in Middle School cafeterias by Lunch Ladies the world over.

Lunch Lady Action Figure

Some of the most delicious pizza ever is an elemental combination of the most basic staples ~ dough topped with simple everyday foods such as tomato sauce, vegetables, cheese, and meat. The ‘traditional” pizza is about as simple as it gets ~ flattened dough topped with olive oil, fresh sliced plum tomatoes, chopped garlic, fresh shredded basil and baked in a wood fired brick oven. However, this simple dish can also be rendered as a gourmet delight with endless variations. Certainly entire books have been written on the subject. However this is not the realm of Lunch Lady Husky Tuscan Rustic Pizza.

Go ahead ~ sing it with me peeples ~ in fact ~ try saying it 10 times real fast and see what kind of trouble you get into ~ Husky Tuscan Rustic Pizza. It’s a tongue twister and a mouthful to say, and it’s also a mouthful to eat. You can make everything from scratch. It’s really not that difficult. Dedicated true believers will settle for nothing less. In fact I have a friend who went so far as to construct a wood fired brick oven for bread and pizza in his own backyard. However, even though the Lunch Laddy has a reputation for going to extremes, he took the path of least resistance on this one and this particular recipe uses commercially prepared fixin’s and leftovers from the Lunch Laddy larder. In fact it could  just as easily have  become  Lunch Lady Slum Gullion Stew, but I’m glad it didn’t. By the way, “why Husky Tuscan,” you may ask? “Is the Tuscan husky or is the Tuscan rustic or why Tuscan at all Lunch Laddy? Just friggin’ tell me!” I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I am in love with the very IDEA of Tuscany, although I’ve never actually been to Tuscany. I’ve been to Tucson, which is no where near Tuscany, but it’s almost spelled like Tuscan. “Tucson ~ like Tuscany, only different.”

Gnaw Bone City Limits

Sorry. I tried to find a sign that said “Tucson City Limits”, but this is the best that I could do. But I digress, so ~ getting to the point, I present:

Lunch Lady Husky Tuscan Rustic Pizza

This is the stuff I used:

(While this version is admittedly a carnivore’s delight, it’s easily adaptable to vegetarian or vegan cuisine. There’s undoubtedly gluten-free dough as well. If you’re lactose intolerant, well, I’m not even gonna go there. Just don’t use this recipe.)

1 Package pizza dough (already mixed from my local supermarket)

1 Jar Joey’s Famous Italian Pasta Sauce ~ Fra Diavalo (Hot&Spicy) Made in Syracuse

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Spices ~ basil, garlic powder, black pepper, red pepper flakes

Ground beef (Left over taco meat, but it worked)

1 Spinach and feta chicken sausage

Roasted red peppers, sun dried tomatoes, chopped sweet onion (also from taco night)

8 0z package Italian Cheeses ~ mozzarella, provolone, parmesan, asiago, fontina & romano

  1. Lightly flour some surface ~ I used a butcher block, but a counter top will suffice.
  2. Bend, spindle, mutilate, roll, push, prod, poke, pinch, coax & coddle dough into whatever the hell shape it wants to take. (This is the “rustic” part) I somehow ended up with a shape that looked like the state of Minnesota. I kind of felt like Richard Dreyfuss with his mashed potato mountain in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. “This means something!” 
  3. Coat lightly with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. (Extra virgin olive oil in a 450 degree oven is about as close as you can get to sacrificing a virgin in a volcano without actually doing it.)
  4. Season the state of Minnesota (dough) accordingly with spices.
  5. Spread sauce evenly over crust. Don’t go right up to the edge because it gets legs, runs all over the place and makes a helluva mess. Nobody needs that.
  6. Top with the aforementioned meats and vegetables sliced and diced to your own discerning specifications.
  7. Spread 6 Italian cheeses.
  8. Pop in oven pre heated to 450 degrees. (Unless you’re at my friend’s house, in which case you open the door to a roaring fire, singe your eyebrows and set your hair on fire, & use a 6 foot paddle to place pizza on hot bricks dusted with cornmeal.)
  9. Bake for about 15 minutes (much less if you’re using my friend’s wood fired oven)
  10. Let rest and cool for at least 5 minutes. (unless, of course, the roof of your mouth is made of asbestos and impervious to the boiling hot cheese sticking to it)
Implements of Destruction

MUSICAL PAIRING:  “SHOWDOWN!”

Showdown!

One of my favorite blues albums of all times ~ Showdown ~ Albert Collins, Robert Cray & Johnny Copeland  An absolute classic. Albert Collins’s telecaster is an icepick in the temple (in a good way) Robert Cray’s voice and strat ~ smooth as silk and Johnny Copeland is a funky, soulful, visceral presence throughout. Their cover of T-Bone Shuffle will blow you away and you’ll never be able to fall in love with another cover of that song again.

BEVERAGE PAIRING: Il Sogno Sangiovese

Totally Tuscan

OK ~ so this is where things finally get totally Tuscan and you know we’re not in Tucson anymore Toto!  One sip (or, in my case, one massive gulp) will have you saying: “Hmmm ~ Tastes like more!”  That’s AMORE!

Husky Tuscan Rustic Pizza

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