I was a good father. I don’t care what anybody says.
Of course, there were issues. I used to work late on my doctoral dissertation, really late. So I was not up to making breakfast for my son and daughter at 7AM. “Do it yourself,” I would say. And they did. Until the day I discovered my 10 year daughter was making strawberry daiquiris for breakfast. In the blender. With rum. There was a heart-to-heart parent-teachers conference where her inability to walk a straight line was discussed.
By then, certain patterns had been established. My son cooked at age 6 and he’s still at it. He was great as a kid. I would ask him for breakfast. That one incident with smoke in the kitchen was not his fault.
And now, with his own family, Michael is the master cook. He’s there every day doing what he loves: working on computers by day and assembling dinner by night. And he owes it all to me.
Michael lives in Austin, a culinary gem of a city. Yes, the cuisine is heavily Tex-Mex, and, yes, the restaurants all vie to outdo each other by adding heat. Michael cruises those hot spots and finds the best recipes. Here’s his take on a mouth popping combo: shrimp, avocado and chipotle.
Shrimp Chips with Avocado Cream and Chipotle Drip
Yield: serve 4
- 1 avocado
- ½ cup sour cream
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- ½ teaspoon salt
Mash or puree the flesh of avocado. Stir in the sour cream, cilantro, lime juice, and salt.
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 canned chipotle pepper in adobe sauce
Puree mayonnaise and chipotle pepper until smooth..
- blue corn tortilla chips
- Peeled, deveined and cooked shrimp
- Cilantro leaves
Cut shrimp in half lengthwise. Place avocado cream and chipotle dip on chips and top with a shrimp and cilantro leaf.
Source: Michael O’Rourke
I was enjoying lunch, and then Suzen spoke.
“Such a goyisher meal.”
“What?” I asked.
“You are going straight to hell.”
“I’m eating a hot dog, for Christ’s sake.” I said. I lifted up the hot dog. I hoped it was Hebrew National. I didn’t have a clue.
“Not the dog, this,” she said, lifting up my milkshake. “Milk and meat.”
We are an ethical family but not very religiously observant. Some days Suzen will raise matters of Jewish culinary laws. I can only feel sorry for her to have missed all those weekends growing up with burgers, dogs, and fries matched with great shakes. If there had been soft ice cream machines in Jerusalem in 500BC, I think the culinary laws would have been adjusted.
Of course, when dinner comes around, well, there is wide discretion about what we make and eat. Witness this fine creation with ham, shrimp and god-knows what kind of sausage.
James Villas has been a food journalist and cookbook author supreme for 30 years. His previous book, Bacon, was a tribute to a meat that deserves more than the BLT. Now, in Pig: King of the Southern Table, the whole hog is on the table. And it is a Southern table. Cream, cheese, bourbon and other fine ingredients show up here on a regular basis. I’m personally fond of the Memphis County Ham and Corn Chowder with Bourbon. The half dozen cornbread recipes all contest for “best.” Villas is a North Carolina native who has the experience and integrity to capture the dazzling flavors of pork in every one of his dozen chapters. From appetizers to breads, his authentically researched and superbly tested recipes are for your enlightenment and culinary satisfaction.
We’ve dog eared many recipes but Suzen first made this jambalaya and I don’t think anyone could resist the sensory appeal of this dish. Authentic to traditions of jambalaya preparation, this dish will have you stirring constantly for the first 20 minutes or so. The resulting flavor is worth all that wrist work.
We’ve enjoyed Pig immensely and will be posting more of its terrific recipes.
Creole Ham, Sausage, and Shrimp Jambalaya
Yield: serves 4
2 ounces salt pork, cut into pieces
4 medium onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound cooked ham, chopped
½ pound spicy smoked sausage links, cut into ½-inch rounds
2 teaspoons salt
½teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 bay leaves
2 ½ cups uncooked long-grain rice
5 cups water
1 pound fresh shrimp, shelled and deveined
In a heavy 8-quart pot or casserole, cook the salt pork over low heat until all the fat is rendered. Add the onions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic, and stir until the vegetables soften, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the ham, sausage, salt, pepper, thyme, cayenne, and bay leaves and continue stirring for about 10 minutes longer. Add the rice and water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes.
Add the shrimp, stir well, increase the heat to moderate, and stir with a fork until the rice begins to dry out and is fluffy, about 15 minutes.
Serve the jambalaya hot with Tabasco on the side.
Source: Pig by James Villas