Friday, August 21, 2009

Chef Michael Shares a Secret

I would like to depart from my usual drivel and suggest cooking something. Some time ago, probably after watching too many Tony Bourdain shows on the Food Network, I decided to learn to cook. I have no delusions about being a foodie or a gourmet chef, although I have dined at both of Tony’s restaurants in New York City. I simply wanted to learn to cook what I like to eat. I know that this is selfish, but I admit to being selfish. I know what I like to eat and if I can’t get someone (my wife) to cook it for me, then I can cook it myself. If I screw it up then I take the blame. Also, if you can cook it yourself, then you can cook it whenever you want and you do not have to wait for dinner time. You do not have to share, either.

This recipe is not complicated. Anybody with a room temperature IQ can follow this recipe. Even a stove-shy man can cook this and I guarantee that it will come out tasty. Please forgive me if this piece seems to be directed toward men, but the recipe is so simple most women who are real cooks will turn up their noses at it. On the other hand, a smart woman will cook this for her husband, boyfriend or whomever and tell him that she made it especially for him. Serving it in bed might not be a bad idea, but we will not go there.

First of all, you men need to go to the grocery store. Now I am aware that that is a strange and uncomfortable place to most of you. Suck it up and be a man and go there. Personally, I find the grocery store to be my favorite store, next to the Ducati shop. Groceries are a lot cheaper. You might think about printing this out and taking it with you to the grocery store, as any clerk can help you find the ingredients if you are totally helpless.

Go to the produce section. That is where the vegetables and green stuff are located. Grab someone who looks like he knows what he is doing and ask where the onions are stacked. Buy one large sweet Vidalia onion. Look around for the tomatoes and buy one medium sized, red tomato. Look around again and get one lime and a container of mushrooms. Go to the check out and pay. It will not be more than $3.

A word about mushrooms is in order. You will find that you can buy them cut up or whole. Real men do not buy the already cut up mushrooms. The reason is that if you buy those, you cannot use your really cool, super sharp cooking knife. For what it is worth, I cooked this recipe last weekend and nicked myself with my Global knife. That sucker is so sharp that I was bleeding all over and didn’t even know I cut myself. Four days later, it still hasn’t healed. Some men should not be permitted to play with knives.

Anyway, go home with your purchases. Get out two medium frying pans and put each on its own burner on the stove. Turn on the burners to low. Put about 2 tablespoons of butter in each of the cooking pans and while it is melting, mix in a tablespoon of olive oil. Swirl the mixture around the entire cooking surface so that it is coated.

While the butter is melting, take out the onion and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Put the pieces into one of the pans. Take out the mushrooms and slice them lengthwise. You do not want equal amounts of onions and mushrooms. 2 parts onion and one part mushroom is about right. Take out the tomato and slice it into bite sized pieces. Put these into the pan with the onions. Do not put them in with the mushrooms, yet.

Another word about mushrooms is in order. When you cook them, there should be enough room in the pan for each mushroom slice to lay flat in the pan. I know this because I read Julia Child's book. The mushroom deserves respect.

Cook the mushrooms and onions until they are golden brown. It should take about 5 minutes. The tomatoes should not be brown. If they are, you burned them, you dolt. They should be red and squishy.

Take the pan of mushrooms and dump it into the pan with the onion and tomato. Mix it thoroughly. Put two more tablespoons of butter into the mix and melt the butter. Season with a little salt and pepper.

Take the pan and dump the contents into a bowl. Now, cut the lime in half, and using your manly strength, squeeze the lime until the juice runs down your leg. No, no, wait a minute, that was a line from Robert Johnson’s classic acoustic blues tune Traveling Riverside Blues.
I got carried away there for a minute. After all cooking is a lot like making music. Good cooks, like good musicians, are artists.

Squeeze the lime over the mixture and serve. This is enough for two, easy. However, if you are a selfish, sexist pig like me, you can eat it all yourself.

A final note. Some of you may be afraid of the lime. Trust me on this. DO NOT FEAR THE LIME. It makes the dish. If it is just too much of a stretch for your taste buds, the recipe still works without the lime. On the other hand, a little Tabasco sauce can perk it up. You make the call.

If you try this recipe, let me know how it turns out.

Mike out.


  1. Mike, you are just too funny. I am going to make Steve cook this for me. Is the lime song anything like the Lemon Song from Led Zeppelin? Cathie Davis

  2. I love it when you write, Michael. I hear your voice. I see your face. It all makes me smile. Now -- if you could just make me like mushrooms and make Ken like tomatoes, we'd be all set.

  3. Three dollars???? Not in my city. The mushrooms would be more than that. Love your post and sensiblity. So happy to read your musings about making yourself happy in the kitchen. I can be found on Facebook. Missed the reunion....just wasn't in the cards for me.

  4. The combination of cooking and Michael brings to mind your signature dish....Salsa Eggs (my mouth is now watering). If you recommend it, I'm game. XXO Krust

  5. Made the dish for dinner tonight...we enjoyed it a lot. I experienced a slight panic while searching for a Vidalia onion in the produce section of Ralphs Grocery. I whipped out my iphone and googled Vidalia onion only to discover it is from Georgia. Should anyone else west of the Mississippi bump into this problem a Walla-Walla onion (or a Maui onion for those with cash to burn) can be substituted. XXO Krust