Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy 4th To The Biggest Eaters Of All Time!

Oh my goodness! What has finally gotten me back to my blog? What has inspired me to sit down at my (rotten, new, impossible-to-use Windows 8) computer? Another new barn being built by Ina? No. A shakeup at the Food Network? Nope. Decimated marriages of various Food Network stars? No, even though that has actually happened. So what has gotten me to finally post again? Well, it’s July 4th and Nathan’s Hot Dog Championship happened earlier today!

I’m not bragging when I say that I totally called it before the event even started! And I have witnesses. Moments BEFORE the legendary contest at Coney Island began, I said that I doubted whether Joey Chestnut could win his 9th consecutive hot dog title at Coney Island. I’d watched many of his previous wins. I was a reluctant fan at first, when my favorite, Kobayashi, was banned from the storied contest. But Joey earned my respect with his unbridled enthusiasm and his disciplined training regimen year after year. How did I know that this time, sad to say, his streak wouldn’t hold? 

First, he looked more pasty than usual.  

Also, his head many not have been in the right place. Last year, he proposed to his girlfriend and then went on to win his 8th Championship on a high note. This year, they are no longer together.

The last reason I doubted Joey was that Matt Stonie had a hungry look. And, after all, Joey only beat him last year by 5 hot dogs. 

The final results:


You can see it better here. Joey started to come back, but Matt beat him by 2 dogs.

Joey showed the heart of a champion after his loss this Independence Day. He took responsibility for the results saying, “I just had trouble. I was slow and, uh, he was eatin’ fast. I couldn’t catch him.” 

There’s always next time. There’s also always the World Bacon Eating Completion. (Stonie is its current champion, downing 182 strips in 5 minutes.) Oh, and there are a few other crowns to be won. Here are just SOME of the other foods waiting to be devoured in athletic eating competitions:

Pork Rolls
Chicken Spiedies (No clue what they are…)
Tacos, slugburgers(!), bratwurst, tamales, ribs, oysters, burritos, gyros, boysenberry pies, chili, shrimp cocktails, Twinkies and fish tacos
AND there are hardboiled egg contests to aspire to. Joey won the Hardboiled Egg Championship in 2013, swallowing (and keeping down) the world record amount of 141 hardboiled eggs in 8 minutes.

Joey says he’ll be back next year. I hope the competition is intense and the contest is a close one. Happy 4th to all the competitors who took on the monumental challenge of stuffing themselves with more hot dogs at one time than humans were meant to consume.  

By the way, although I do love this annual patriotic ritual, I have to be honest. I can’t watch the actual eating. I put my arm over my eyes to block the shoving of the hot dogs into their mouths. It’s so gaggable that I feel as if I’m competing myself.  

Happy 4th of July! I hope you had as many hot dogs as you could comfortably eat. For me, competitive hot dog eating is a pure spectator sport that I don’t have to participate in or even fully see to enjoy.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Katherine Heigl As Domestic Goddess?

Katherine Heigl was on Today this week cooking with Hoda and Katheeee Leeee. I didn’t get too involved in all the tales of her fractured relationships when she left Grey’s Anatomy. In fact, I think it was around the time she left that I stopped watching. In one episode, there was an incredibly graphic scene of a guy with a telephone pole or metal rod or something EMBEDDED IN HIS CHEST! Yup! It went in one side and out the other. I turned off the television at that moment, hesitant to ever watch Grey's again. I loved the soap opera-y aspects of the show, but not the ghoulish, gratuitous, gross “realistic” (as if) scenes in the operating rooms.

Anyhoo, Katherine Heigl appeared on The Today Show shortly after her new show was not picked up, so that must have been a bit of a downer. But State of Affairs was never mentioned and she gamely went on with the segment. Why am I telling you about this? Well, firstly, I thought it was interesting to watch someone, who must have been just recently supremely disappointed, act as if she weren’t. (THAT’S excellent acting.) AND, secondly, Katheeeeeeeeee Leeeeeeeeee RAVED about this recipe when she first tasted it and then gave it kudos AGAIN later in the show. I’m not sure what the cheese-challenged Hoda thought of it, but I liked its simplicity and freshness.  The possibly inebriated hosts also suggested that Heigl write a cookbook. She said she'd love to.

So here’s my version of Katherine Heigl’s recipe. Her quantities were a bit inconvenient. (Who uses a pound AND A HALF of pasta?) And I rarely use the full amount of olive oil in any recipe (or butter if it’s Ina’s). I don’t know exactly WHY this was so good, but it was better than good. I will never NOT make this when I have fresh summertime tomatoes and basil. In other words, I plan to make it a standard dish in my kitchen.

Some notes:
Make sure you cook the pasta to al dente and not more. When you have the leftovers the next day, you don’t want the pasta to be soggy.

If I had had parsley in the house, I would have added it with the basil, just to add to the freshness. And, whichever herbs I was using, I should have reserved some to sprinkle over the top.

I really do recommend taking the time to remove the center stalk of the garlic because you’re serving it raw AND it’s sitting in the dish for quite a while. It definitely removes some of the bitter, strong, indigestible aspects of the garlic.

Next time, I’ll use better brie.

And I’ll buy it in wedges to make up to three quarters to a pound of cheese.

I didn’t measure the pepper. I just ground enough to basically cover the top layer of tomatoes. Can you see it here?

Katherine Heigl's Brie Tomato Pasta with my quantities and a few changes (serves 3 nicely)

Printable recipe here.

12 to 16 oz. Brie
3 garlic cloves
5 ripe tomatoes, cut into ¼ inch cubes
1 bunch of basil, cut into thin strips (I had a big bunch, so it was 1½ cups of loosely packed basil, but don’t stress – one bunch of any size is good.)
1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped (Reserve a tablespoon or so to sprinkle over the final dish.)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 tsp. salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 lb. spaghetti

Freeze the brie for about 20 minutes. This makes it a brieeze (get it?) to remove the skin and get a nice, clean dice without the cheese melting all over the knife. Peel garlic cloves and remove center stalks. Put remaining garlic through a garlic press and add to a large glass bowl.

To the garlic, add brie, tomatoes, basil, parsley, olive oil and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Let sit at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours at room temperature.


Cook pasta to just al dente. Strain and toss into bowl with brie and tomatoes. Make sure to get all the ingredients at the bottom of the bowl fully mixed in. Serve immediately.


So could Katherine Heigl be the next domestic goddess? There's no disputing that she's a goddess. She IS truly stunning, but does one fine recipe make her a DOMESTIC goddess? I’m going to say possibly, because I imagine there are more recipes where this one came from.