Posts Tagged With: opera

Chicken Flautas

Mexican Entree

CHICKEN FLAUTAS

INGREDIENTS

4 chicken breasts
2 garlic cloves
1 small onion
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (4 cups more later)
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ pound queso fresco or feta cheese
½ cup salsa
12 uncooked or freshly made corn tortillas*
4 cups vegetable oil (or at least ¾” deep)
2 tablespoon fresh cilantro

* = Cooked tortillas from the store will require softening in the skillet or microwave. Uncooked tortillas while harder to find will make preparation easier.

SPECIAL UTENSIL

toothpicks

Makes 12 flautas. Takes 1 hour 20 minutes.

PREPARATION

Add chicken breasts and enough water to cover to pot. Bring to boil using high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove chicken to plate. Shred chicken using forks.

While chicken simmers, mince garlic and dice onion. Add garlic, onion, and 2 tablespoons oil to pan. Sauté at medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until garlic and onion soften. Stir frequently. Add shredded chicken and cumin. Stir until well blended. Remove from heat. Add equal amounts of the shredded chicken/onion mixture, queso fresco, and salsa to the middle of each tortilla. Roll up tortillas tightly and pin together with toothpicks.

Add oil to pan. Heat oil using medium-high heat until a tiny piece of the tortillas starts to dance in the oil. Add rolled-up tortillas to pan seem-side down. Sauté at medium-high heat for 4 minutes or until tortillas turn golden brown. Turn frequently, but carefully, to ensure even browning. You will most likely need to cook in batches. Remove from heat. Drain on plate covered with paper towel. Dice cilantro. Garnish with cilantro. Goes well with salsa.

TIDBITS

1) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, “The Angler of Vienna,” was also a pretty darn talented musician, writing such toe-tapping operas such as, Il re pastore, Zaide, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Le Nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Cossi fan tutte.”

2) By the way, Mozart’s agent, Paolo Fettucine, arranged for tutti frutti, a new ice cream with chopped and candied fruits in it to be served at Cossi fan tutte’s debut. It was a stroke of P.R. genius. Ice cream lovers came for the dessert and stayed for the opera. Wolfgang never looked back, except when on the way to his secret fishing places.

3) But it is in Mozie’s culinary operas where The Angler of Vienna’s talents really shined. Who can fail to be uplifted by his sole English work, The Three Penny Hot Dog? or feel the anguish of Gibt es wirklich keine Apfelkuchen? (Is There Really No Apple Pie?)

4) The years 1784 – 1787 were his happiest; he had great fishing spots to himself. These interludes of quietude were also the moments of his greatest musical creativity as witnessed by the Fish Cycle operas: Der Kabeljau auf dem Markt (The Cod at the Market), Limone Pesce Impanati (Lemon Breaded Fish), and of course, “The Angler of Vienna’s favorite, Il Mio Punto di Pesca (My Own Fishing Spot.)

5) It’s ironic that Mozart, a famous fan of German cuisine, would write his greatest opera about Mexican food. But who could not be inspired by the brilliant cuisine of Vienna’s famous restaurant, “Los Cinco Tacos?” Wolfang tried the restaurant’s chicken flautas and fell in love with them. He would stay up all night to compose the brilliant, brilliant I say, opera, Las Flautas Mágicas (The Magic Flautas.) Unfortunately, the politics of that year dictated that no operas be performed in Spanish. (Do try to see it if it’s being performed nearby.) Broken hearted that he was, Mozart rewrote his opus. And so we have the not too shabby Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute.) But Mozart would never again write about Mexican food.

6) Then on December 5, 1791, Mozart’s muse, Ernestine, imparted to him the idea of writing the opera Stoßen der magische Kugelfisch, (Puff the Magic Pufferfish.) So strong was Mozie’s excitement over what he knew what would be his magnum opus that he grabbed his fishing pole and raced to Danube River. He continually glanced over his shoulders to see if anyone were following, for all the local anglers would descend on him en masse and fish and fish out his little side pond. It was heartbreaking. Mozart had to scrap one seafood opera after another because he couldn’t bring in enough fish to give a true, abiding sense of its flavor and abiding soul. On one occasion, competitors once fished all the trout from his special inlet. This is why we never got to hear his Guten Morgen, Forelle (Good Morning, Trout) and had to settle for the markedly Don Giovanni.

7) Anyway, Mozie eluded all anglers that day and caught six pufferfish. (1791 was an extraordinarily bountiful year for Viennese pufferfish.) Wolfie scurried home as fast as his chubby little legs would carry him. He cooked all the fish. Unfortunately, he died. For while his wiener schnitzel was second to none, he didn’t know how beans about preparing the potentially fatal pufferfish. His last words were, “Gott im Himmel, where are my car keys?” There were, of course, no cars in 1791 and so need for car keys. Culinary historians Mozart had channeling the frustration of millions upon millions of people two centuries later.

9) But Wolfgang’s musical vision for the pufferfish lasted through the centuries floating through the atmosphere until it found a suitable vessel, a worthy receptacle. This is how we got the classic song, “Puff the Magic Dragon” by Peter, Paul, and Mary. Sure the name and length of Stoßen der magische Kugelfisch changed a bit, but that magnum-opus had been floating around for centuries and became susceptible to modern musical scenes. And there you go.

Chef Paulcookbookhunks

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with 180 wonderful recipes is available on amazon.com. My newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, is also available on amazon.com

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Spotlight on Kathy Minicozzi – Author of “OPERA For People Who Don’t Like It”

Spotlight on Kathy Minicozzi – Author of OPERA For People Who Don’t Like It

 

 

OperaFinalCover


Excerpt

 

INTRODUCTION: Singing Opera and Writing Funny

I am weird, but not dangerous. Okay, maybe I’m dangerous when I’m on a stepladder trying to install a window shade. Other than that, I am harmless and kind of cute, in a way.

But I sing opera and I write funny stuff. Go ahead and look at me like I have two heads. I don’t mind. I wish I did have two heads, so I could change them back and forth, according to the look I wanted. But I don’t. Have two heads, that is.

Don’t ask me to explain in detail how I ended up being an aging opera singer and budding humor writer. It would take too long. Besides, I might write my memoirs someday, and if you already know all about my life you won’t want to buy a copy.

My father, who didn’t have much faith in the earning power of a singing career, urged me to get an Education degree so that I could become a teacher. The teaching profession is a noble one, and good, dedicated teachers are always needed. That was my problem. I would have been a terrible teacher, and I hated the whole idea. So I got my degrees – B.A. and M.A. – in music, and set out to be an opera singer. Fortunately, I had office skills to fall back on, so I didn’t starve in the process, and, although I never sang at the Metropolitan Opera or La Scala or any of the other major houses, I had a much better career singing in smaller places than most of my opera singing colleagues.

The process of building an opera career is difficult, filled with traveling on a shoestring, singing many auditions for every job you get, rejection which is relieved by an occasional encouragement, backstage intrigues, greedy, sometimes unscrupulous agents and colleagues who are either the finest people in the world or the most treacherous (and you have to find out who is which, sometimes the hard way). If you make headway in the business, you also have to deal with spending huge amounts of time away from home. For some of us, this means picking up and making a new home in another country, with another culture and another language. There is also a thing called poverty, caused in good part by the big expenses involved in a singing career: voice lessons; coachings; audition wardrobe; printed music; mailings; travel all over the place; etc.

When you get onstage, though, and you are in good voice and the performance is going well, it’s the most satisfying, practically orgasmic thing in the world.

Now that I am a woman of a certain age, no longer actively pursuing an international singing career, you would think I would settle down, get a job with benefits, look for some lucrative sidelines to build up something for my old age, and reflect back on all the fun I had. I actually did one of those things. I got a job with benefits, at which I work five days a week. Instead of lucrative sidelines, I chose to become a writer. I guess I can’t live without dedicating huge amounts of time and energy to something at which most practitioners never make any money.

The process of building a writing career is difficult, filled with things like submitting work to many publishers for every acceptance you get, rejection which is relieved by an occasional encouragement, greedy vanity publishers and other people dying to take a writer’s money, and colleagues who are either the most supportive people in the world or the most envious (and you have o find out who is which, sometimes the hard way). If you hope to be able to live only on your writing without any other source of income, you also have the prospect of poverty.

This is a clear case of déjà vu. I have gone from one profession where the prospects of getting rich are dismal and the rejection is constant to another profession where the prospects of getting rich are dismal and the rejection is constant. What can I say?

I’ll say this: writing is hard work, but it’s fun. Like singing, it is satisfying in a visceral way. It is even more satisfying to me if I can make people laugh. I can’t imagine a life without doing something that I love to do, so this is it.

The irony, which I think is hilarious, is that, in other ways, singing opera is the direct opposite of writing humor. I have listed the disparities below.

SINGING OPERA vs. WRITING FUNNY

Opera: I have played serious, tragic, beautiful heroines. I have died onstage of everything from tuberculosis to poison to hara-kiri to jumping off a building, while costumed in gorgeous gowns, peasant costumes, a poor seamstress’ dress, kimonos and nightgowns. I have worn glamorous wigs and complicated hairdos and my face has been covered with a thick layer of gooey stage makeup.

Writing: I often sit in front of my computer looking like a bag lady in the most comfortable things I have that are clean. Sometimes I just leave my PJs on. Nobody is looking at me, so what the hell. If by some chance anyone is looking at me, I’m covered up and that’s what matters. I never wear makeup if I can help it. And I have not died yet, at least not that I know of.

Opera: I am in front of a bunch of people, singing very loudly and hoping for a lot of applause.

Writing: I am in front of my cat, typing on a computer keyboard and hoping to get a few laughs. If I sing I scare the cat.

Opera: People have sometimes asked me to sing something on the spur of the moment, especially at parties or family get-togethers. On the other hand, if I break out in spontaneous song in public, the people I am with pretend they don’t know me.

Writing: Nobody ever asks me for a free writing sample, and I have to practically bribe my family members to read my stuff. I can sit in a public place, such as a café or a park, and write until my fingers get tired without attracting any attention at all.

Opera: Opera singers try to avoid getting sick, especially with performances coming up, even if it means putting themselves in an isolation booth.

Writing: I don’t want to get sick, but if I don’t get out and around (breathing germs and touching things like subway poles and escalator rails) I won’t find anything funny to write about. Agoraphobia jokes get old really fast. Writers are expected to be observers and interactors. It comes with the vocation.

That’s enough. You get the picture.

What is the one subject that an opera singer turned humor writer should write about? Opera, of course! Opera is one of the greatest art forms ever invented. It is a marriage of great music and drama. It can move audiences in a special way not shared with other forms of theater. Operagoers easily become hooked, because they love it.

It is also rich in possibilities for humor. That’s where I come in. Just because I love opera and even sing it doesn’t mean I can’t poke fun at it.

By the way, as a humor writer I am allowed to exaggerate to make something funny. Please remember that when you read this book. Opera is one of the greatest, most fascinating art forms ever developed and perfected by humans. Attending a good performance is an incredible, cathartic experience. Singing a good performance can be just as cathartic in another way. If I appear to be dissing opera in this book, know that that is the farthest thing from my mind. What I do here is like cracking jokes at a good friend who is free to crack jokes right back. In a way, I am also poking fun of myself.

I hope that, by now, you have been so captivated by my brilliant lead-in that you just HAVE to stick around and read the rest of this book.

Biokathy2

Kathy Minicozzi was born on Long Island, New York and raised in the Yakima Valley, Washington State. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Eastern Washington University and a Master of Arts in Music from Washington State University. As an opera singer, she sang with the Regensburg Stadttheater in Regensburg, Germany, the Israel National Opera in Tel Aviv, Israel, the New York Grand Opera in New York City, Opera of the Hamptons on Long Island, New York, the Ambassadors of Opera and Concert Worldwide and other groups. Although she no longer auditions, she continues to sing as a church soloist and in an occasional concert or recital.

She has now taken up a second career as a humor writer, and has been a regular contributor to HumorOutcasts.com.

OPERA  For People Who Don’t Like Like It is available on amazon.com.

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Chimole Recipe

Belizean Entree

CHIMOLE

INGREDIENTS

1 small pumpkin squash, or nearest orangish squash you can find
1 large white potato
1 medium white onion
1 chayote4 large, ripe red tomatoes
4 garlic cloves
3 medium whole cloves
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 tablespoons red recado
1 tablespoon black recado
2 vegetable bouillon cubes1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon allspice
1 tablespoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 tablespoon red pepper
6 cups water2 chicken breasts
8 hard-boiled eggs
8 or more flour tortillas

UTENSIL

spice or coffee grinder

PREPARATION

Peel pumpkin, onion, and white potato. Dice squash, potato, onion, chayote, and tomatoes. Mince garlic cloves. (Just in off the internet news. Five people stole 9.5 tons of garlic. They were caught by the Hungarian border police who noticed a strong garlic smell coming from the five cars.)Put whole cloves and black peppercorns in spice grinder. Grind until you get a powdery substance. Crumble red recado, black recado, and bouillon cubes into soup pot. Add salt, allspice, oregano, cumin and red pepper. Pour in water and heat on medium for about 40 minutes or until all veggies are soft.

While the vegetables and spice are cooking, chop up chicken breasts into 1/2-inch cubes. Also, boil eggs for about 12 minutes and let them cool. Add chicken cubes to soup pot.

Ladle soup into bowls. Peel eggs and slice each three times. Put an equal number of egg slices on top of the soup in each bowl. Serve with at least two flour tortillas and one plate per person. The tortillas may be used for dipping or for making burritos from the soup.

TIDBITS

1) January is National Soup Month. What does this mean? I don’t know. Have you ever celebrated National Soup Month? Me neither.

2) Soup is an anagram for opus. Opus means an artistic work such as an opera.

3) Soup is also an anagram for puos. Puos is the plural form of puo.

4) Soup lovers in America eat about ten millions bowls of soup a year.

5) Soup haters consume considerably fewer.

6) Nebraskan bar owners may not sell beer unless they are cooking soup. That and possessing a liquor license.

7) Andy Warhol ate tomato soup every day for lunch for over twenty years. He became a famous pop artist. However, hundreds of millions of people have devoured rivers of tomato soup without achieving the slightest bit of fame. So, who can say?

– Chef Paul

4novels

My cookbook, Eat Me: 169 Fun Recipes From All Over the World,  and novels are available in paperpack or Kindle on amazon.com

As an e-book on Nook

or on my website-where you can get a signed copy at: www.lordsoffun.com

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