Monday, October 22, 2012

Candied Pecans




One day pecans just started raining down on my patio.

"Free food is falling from the sky!" I thought as I heard that sweet thump and roll, "Jackpot."

Was it some sort of miracle? Or was there a simpler explanation? Garden variety magic, maybe an enchanted patio situation? Either way, let's dial back the expectations. Magic and miracles aren't like they appear on TV*, there's real life baggage that comes with that shit.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pandering to the Times: Sweet Potato Fries


When and where did the whole sweet potato fries thing come about? I realize that's a very broad, what-the-fuck-ish sort of query, but it all happened so fast. One day I started seeing them at pubs here and there. That was followed in short succession by seeing them everywhere I might sit down to have a burger. It's like this: I can remember not having a cell phone (I should hope so, it was 2007) but I can't imagine going back to that place - nor do I have any idea how I ignored people in elevators in all the years prior to that. That's the way it'll be (hopefully) in 10 years or so when we all have bad ass, affordable jet-packs that are just part of our everyday existence. No big deal/how did we get by before? Such has become the way of the sweet potato fry.

Chicken Chili Verde


Chili verde. I don't know where they came up with that name. I don't even know who “they” are, but I would like a crack at their job – food namer sounds like an easy job. I could do that shit from home. Goodbye pants, hello financial security!

Anyway.

Chili verde, eh? Verde means green in Spanish (its English translation is "Spanish for the color green") and you do use green salsa, so that checks out. But chili? C'mon guy. I wasn't born yesterday*. That's not chili (we've been over this). Now, maybe if chili meant stew in Spanish (it doesn't), you'd have a point. Here's what I'm getting at: not to fuck with your mind or anything, but chili verde is actually stew (gasp). In fact, if it gets any thinner, you've crossed the border into soup country and you'd better hope you're carrying a valid form of ID, because the soup TSA doesn't fuck around.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pickled Onions


Pickles are disgusting, yo.

Sorry, I've been watching a lot of Breaking Bad. Normally, I wouldn't casually end a sentence with "yo"*.

I don't like pickles. They're gross. Icky. Weird. I can't imagine how they even got invented other than the obvious explanation: some asshole food scientist** invented them as a sick, sick joke and they caught on immediately somehow. My sources inside the internet suggest, however, that pickles have been around since at least 2400 BC***. Whatever. (shaking fist) You win this round, facts!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day part III


Now, by this time you're probably exhausted, ready to take a nap after all that hummus and bacon. Not so fast! Labor Day isn't over yet, you little bitch.

Labor Day isn't over until something gets cooked over a flame (called "grilling" colloquially). I don't care that you're now coming to the sobering realization that you have to work tomorrow and you'd rather watch half a season of Wings than light the grill. Not my problem*. 

Do not skip the all-important grilling portion of your Labor Day activities. If you do, Labor Day will not be over and you will risk pissing off the ghosts of famous statesmen past and having them haunt you. Sure, you might draw ghost George Washington, whose approach to haunting is more benevolent and advice-based than, say, ghost Henry Clay, who might hit you with a whiskey bottle, or ghost (and possibly undead) Andrew Jackson, a belligerent sociopath if ever there was one.**

This year, I'm grilling salmon burgers, not just for deliciousness and richness of omega-3 fat booty acids, but also because I didn't have the time, space, suckling pig or apple needed to do a spit-grilled suckling pig with an apple in its mouth. Maybe next year.

Salmon Burgers
(makes 2)

Ingredients:
6 oz salmon filet, cut into chunks
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup crushed saltines
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 egg
1 tsp capers
1 tsp dill
salt and pepper

Instructions:
1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse a few times, until well incorporated.
2. Form into 2 patties and place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. This helps them hold together better.
3. Grill over high heat until cooked through, about 6 minutes total. Serve on a toasted bun with other stuff on it. I used some of the hummus from Labor Day part II, but don't do that, as it's kinda overwhelming. Avocado would be good...

Note: I hope you have enjoyed this peek into the mysteries of Labor Day. You might be wondering why I waited until Labor Day to post all of this shit about Labor Day. I don't have a good answer for that, but I recognize that you may be wondering it.

*Actually, it's totally my problem. F.
** Seriously, good luck with the ghost of anyone ever involved in a duel.

Labor Day part II



When you wake up on Labor Day (if you can even sleep the night before) you'll want to get right up and have a nutritious meal before you look in your Labor Day stocking and see what Lenny the Labor Day Union Rep brought you this year. Don't get excited, it's probably just paper work. Possibly a summons. 

meh. I mean I ate them. Still, meh.
This year, I made some nutritious olive oil and oat muffins that I derived from two muffin recipes by Mark "Muff Diggity*" Bittman. The only problem is that they kind of sucked, which I certainly don't blame on Mark "Mark in quotation marks**" Bittman, so please don't sue me, thanks! They tasted about like you would expect healthy oat and olive oil muffins to taste: edible. Which is the culinary equivalent of telling a girl you don't want to "do" that she has a nice personality.

Instead, I'm gonna recommend that you have eggs, toast and 10-15 pieces of bacon for Labor Day Breakfast, which is what I should have done in the first place. A quick note about bacon: bacon splatters and is one of the few food products that doesn't taste better when cooked shirtless, so don't be a hero.

Let's move on to an LDW appetizer: Labor Day Butter Bean Hummus (motto: just like hummus, but with different ingerdients)! We all know the story behind why butter bean hummus is always served at Labor Day Feasts, so I won't bore you with the details. Enjoy!

Note: this can also be used as a spread for a twist on a traditional Arbor Day sandwich.

Butter Bean Hummus
Slightly shittier hummus pic


Ingredients:
1 can butter beans, drained
1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil, depending on the consistency you like***
small handful chopped parsley leaves
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp cumin
juice of 1/4 of a large lemon (or more)
salt to taste
tahini paste (optional)****

Instructions:
1. Blend. 
2. What? Fine. Put ingredients in a food processor and blend until blended, then eat it using pita chips as a dipping vessel and your hand(s) as a shovel to shovel it into your face hole.

*No one actually calls him that.
**No one actually calls him that, but they should.
*** I did mine closer to the consistency of a bean dip, with less oil than a silky hummus.
**** I don't really know how much tahini to use -- I didn't have any and the imaginary variety leaves something to be desired -- but if I had to guess, and I'm not very good at this, I'd guess about a quart. Or maybe a hectare. Whichever is more.

Labor Day part I



Just as Christmas is the Thanksgiving of Jesus holidays and Thanksgiving is the Hanukkah of secular holidays*, Labor Day is undoubtedly the Chinese New Year of vague American (Mon)days off of work. 

Labor Day -- Labour Day, as they call it in England (where it doesn't exist and where they call England "Bri (pause) An")** -- comes from somewhat murky origins. No one is really sure when Labor Day started or why, but, interestingly, cultural anthropologists*** suspect that the origins lie in both traditional monotheism ("thank a single, all knowing god I don't have to work today!") and paganistic ritual ("I'd do anything to not have to work today, including donning goat leggings and sacrificing something/someone!"). Yowzah! Who knew well researched facts could be so interesting?

So what does all of this mean to the modern human on Labor Day Weekend? 

Hahaha. What a stupid question. Traditionally, one starts by getting drunk on Friday, possibly with one's colleagues. Quite drunk (again traditional), as if to say to the world "Fuck you, I earned this!... (something indecipherable)...Oh yeah buddy?!? Where's my phone? (sob)" Hopefully your cab driver sees it that way too, especially if the ceremonial vomiting occurs. 

Then you have Saturday, a day for reflection and shame spiraling, followed immediately by Sunday, Labor Day's Eve. This is when you realize that you don't have to work tomorrow and the real reason for the season sets in: You don't have to work tomorrow.

For a Traditional Labor Day's Eve Dinner, prepare Fish and Chips. In this recipe, I've used tilapia instead of cod or halibut or whatever. Tilapia is super cheap and that's what I had in my freezer. Instead of tartar sauce, I used a (not pictured) horseradish must-ayo-chup that I used on a burger the night before. Also, I only took like 5 pics of the fish and chips and most of 'em were out of focus, so you get what you get (filler).

where's the be...erm...fish??
Fish and Chips:
(serves 2ish)

Ingredients:
2 Tilapia filets, split in half
1 cup flour plus several tbsp for dredging
1 cup beer
4-5 yukon gold potatoes****
salt
1 qt oil
parsley and lemon wedges for garnish

Instructions:
1. Cut the potatoes into wedges, shorter and fatter than regular fries -- more like steak fries. Fry according to these directions.
2. Whisk together 1 cup flour and beer. Dredge split tilapia filets in a couple tbsp of flour. Dunk them into beer batter and fry at 350 until golden, about 4-6 minutes. Drain and salt. 

*Interestingly, Ramadan and Rosh Hashanah are the respective Halloweens of Islam and Judaism. That's actually how the whole Palestine conflict came about -- when to celebrate Halloween. 
**That English language is some zany shit! Although not as zany as Japanese, which just sounds like hilarious non sense. 
***Goddamn, that's a long word.
****You don't have to use Yukon golds. I like them for their nice color (and taste). Use anything but a waxy potato.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Croissants ala Cobb


Famed ball player and easily enraged bigot Ty Cobb said memorably of our National Pastime:
Baseball is a red-blooded sport for red-blooded men. It's no pink tea, and mollycoddles had better stay out. It's a struggle for supremacy, a survival of the fittest.

That quote has absolutely nothing to do with making croissants, but the idea of a man of such notoriously foul temperament as Cobb using a word like "mollycoddles" with a straight face is hilarious to me, and you'll need to have a sense of humor to make this recipe, because, like Cobb, it's a ferocious pain in the ass.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Maple Bacon Glazed Donuts


So this is awkward, but I'm not into the whole "throw some bacon on everything" scene*. Not exactly anyway.

Look, I'm a good person. I do a lot of volunteering (for blogs), I typically stab drifters only when provoked and I love bacon. My own dad, a fine citizen of the highest order, makes bacon everyday, so bacon as a food group has been deeply embedded in my brain/mouth/stomach for several decades.

But bacon just doesn't belong on everything. Get a hold of yourself, sit the fuck down and read the preceding sentence again if need be.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Corn(y) Dog(s)

So again, here I am -- a few weeks behind on my own blog, because I'm giving up all the new shit (which you can check out every Thursday at sidedish.dmagazine.com) to another blog. Whatever, get used to it...

The State Fair of Texas is coming up in 6 weeks. As such I've had Fletcher's Corny Dogs (whose web presence is astounding) on the mind of late. Other things too (ex: the other day I thought about Superman II, and then funny names for race horses for awhile), but mostly I've entertained thoughts of those batter dipped, deep fried, nitrate sweepings on a stick that appear exclusively in Dallas for 24 days a year, then, like the mythical fire bird*, burst into flames, only to be reborn from its own ashes sometime in the future (or so I assume).

I know what you're thinking: Every state has a fair, and they all sell corn dogs. This blog is stupid.

In a way, what you're thinking isn't wrong. Although in the way that has to do with reality, you're completely wrong/you're stupid, stupid.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Lose 15 Lbs. Without Doing a Thing!


I feel like nobody will read this unless I lead with a picture.



Dear Oodblo readers, 

Elephant in the room: It's been awhile. I missed you terribly, you lovely bastards and lady bastards.

The culprit here was/is a colony of bacteria that have been having an orgy in my guts for a couple of weeks. It's bacterial Studio 54 down there; bacteria wearing sunglasses indoors and doing blow off of the asses of bacteria strippers doing blow off the asses of more bacteria strippers. Bacteria Mick Jagger is there, hanging out with (anybody famous in the late 70's). And the goddamn disco music...

Suffice it to say, thinking about food constantly hasn't been at the top of my list so much of late as, say, visualizing myself not throwing up all day and then acting that out in real life. Or visualizing that there's a reliable toilet nearby....

I know what you're thinking. Do you have to talk about gross stuff like that on a food blog? It's not very appetizing. I'm not making you read this blog, asshole. Although, if you were real and I knew where your house was, I'd come over to your house and I would, in fact, make you read this blog. Moot point, jerk.

The upside of all this: unintentional weight loss. And that's the real recipe here. Looking to lose that extra 15 pounds? Get your hands and then your mouth on some bacteria. Make sure you get it in your stomach.* (laugh track) I kid, I kid. 

Seriously though, it's amazing.  I just walk around naked all the time now. It's not all that different than before, except for the fact that my dog seems impressed now. My dog doesn't speak English**, but I read between the lines. When someone (or some mammal) watches your every move then occasionally licks their privates, you know you're doing something right. 

Well, that pretty much wraps it up... Oh wait. You want an actual recipe of food, eh? Fine. Just this once.*** 

This is another warmed-over SideDish recipe. Not that I'm dogging anything but the writing in the last SideDish recipe I rehashed here -- it was fantastic. This one is OK. It's just that there's some bad blood between me and this dish, because despite my stomach's protests, I had to choke it down several times on account of, how's that old saying go? Oh yeah, if you don't eat food, you'll fucking die. 

So... make this, don't make it. I absolutely do not give a shit. Never talk to me about it, please. It disgusts me.**** Hopefully, by the next time we have one of these little chats, it'll be the early 80's in my digestive tract and the pathogen FBI will have swooped in and shut down Studio 54 for good. Disco sucks motherfuckers. Enjoy.

Grilled Pork Chops with Peach Salsa
(serves three)
Ingredients:
Pork chops:
3 roughly 1" thick pork chops
1/3 cup olive oil
tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp cumin
tsp chipotle powder (or chili powder)
Peach Salsa:
2 peaches, diced
1 jalapeno, finely diced
1/2 a small red onion, finely diced
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
juice of 1 or 2 limes
splash of olive oil
salt to taste
Instructions:
1. Make the pork chop marinade. Mix the olive oil, soy sauce, cumin and chipotle powder together. Pour mixture over the chops and marinate in the fridge for several hours to overnight, flipping occasionally, if you can. You want the chops nicely coated.
2. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients for the peach salsa together, except 1/2 cup of the diced peaches, the lime juice and olive oil.
3. In a food processor or blender, puree the reserved peaches with the lime juice and olive oil until smooth, then mix with the other ingredients in the bowl. The salsa can be made the night before.
4. Preheat grill to medium-high and grill chops, flipping once, until the internal temperature has come up to 145, probably about 10-12 minutes total; grills vary.
5. Let the chops rest a few minutes (it's been a long day for them), then top with peach salsa and enjoy.
You can see my reflection in the fork. Nice photography, douche.

*really don't. Not because it's gross and horrible, which it is, but because you'd be copying me. Nobody likes a copy cat.
** immigrated from Finland.
***And forever.
**** You can talk to me about it if you want, but in an ironic twist, if you do, I'll pretend I don't speak English. Just like my dog does. Only, unlike with my dog, no one will be licking their balls in approval.




Saturday, July 7, 2012

Charred Poblano Pesto




So, I do a weekly (Thursday) contribution to D magazine's food blog, Side Dish. Typically, it's a watered down for the masses version of a recipe already featured on oodblo. I take out all the salty (giggle, you see what I did there) language, and… well, it's basically just what you'd call a "recipe" at that point.

This week, for whatever reason, I gave Side Dish some new material first, leaving oodblo kinda out in the cold searing heat. Now, I'm too lazy to just make new shit up, rewrite this and make it funny. So here's what's gonna happen: I'm taking this week's Side Dish post, adding some random profanity (a fun game would be for you, the reader, to try and spot it) and calling it a day.



Don't let the lack of curse words in the original post throw you; it's still good. Enjoy.

It’s July. Summer is real. Shit. Boner. The silver lining: fresh peppers abound.

Also, in spite of the heat, my (Thai) basil plants are thriving. Fart.

Poblano pesto was an easy call. Boobs.

This recipe is a summertime nod to the most basic pesto formula — basil or other herbs, nuts or seeds, oil, salty cheese and garlic — and, as such, is easily adapted to any taste or season.

Charred Poblano Pesto
(makes about 3/4 cup)

Ingredients:

Half a poblano pepper, charred (grilled, broiled or charred over the flame of a gas stove) and chopped
1 cup rinsed basil leaves
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup olive oil, or more
3 Tbsp cotija cheese*
Tbsp lemon or lime juice
1 clove peeled garlic
salt to taste

Instructions:

1. Combine all ingredients, except half of the olive oil, in food processor (a stick blender with a mini food processor attachment works perfect for this amount). Blend until the mixture is just starting to become smooth.
2. Add the rest of the olive oil. Blend until smooth, using less oil if you like a thick pesto, more oil if you like it runnier. Taste and adjust salt if needed.
3. That’s it. Have a cocktail and pretend this was exhausting. Serve with bread, rice, pizza, pasta or carb of your choice.

*I went with a less pungent alternative to Parmesan cheese here to give the pepper more of a starring role.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Grilled Ham Steaks with Grits and Red Eye Gravy. Sorta.



Red Eye Gravy huh?

Coffee and gravy, together at last!

I don't know, man. That sounds like a bottom of the barrel idea...

This blog is comfortable with the bottom of the barrel*. Let's make some red eye gravy (and grits and ham).

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Chicharrones (nee Pork Rinds)


Americans, it seems, are eating a dangerously small amount of pork rinds.* Damn shame.


Most of us would eat pillow stuffing if it was covered in bacon, then politely demand more. Seconds with bacon on top is the American way. But the very same patriots just won't eat pork rinds**. Probably because pork rinds are exactly what the name suggests they are.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

fries



it's hot. let's fry some shit.


Nothing says every day in the life of an American quite like fries. Except maybe exploiting poor people. But I don't have a recipe for that, other than to say if you find yourself in the proximity of a poor person, see what you can get out of him.

Why would you spend time & make a mess frying something at home that you can buy at nearly every sit down restaurant or bar & with processed reliability at every fast food chain, you ask*. 

I don't have a good answer for that.

Friday, June 15, 2012

tex benedict




I never make time for breakfast.

Breakfast.

The one between brunch & last night's dinner. It lasts until 10:30. I mean, I eat breakfast (a little parfait here, a little granola there, waffles in the toaster, breakfast tacos in my mouth...). But I don't have a real one often enough. 

It's not that I don't have time. I have a shitload of time. Are you kidding? Machines and gadgets do almost everything for me, so I don't have to do any real work; it's ideal. *
And the stuff that the machines refuse to help with, I just have my servants do.** Like driving me around & typing this blog entry (asshole). I saw that. You're fired. Turn in your tuxedo and get the hell out of here.

But despite my abundance of convenience based spare time, I rarely have a proper sit-down breakfast.

When I do, it's exciting. And this was a good one. And filling. A take on eggs benedict, at least in the sense of stacking starch/meat/white sauce/poached egg. Represented here as tostada, breakfast hash, poblano cream, poached egg. A way-the-fuck out there re-imagining of eggs benedict, I guess.

I licked the plate, smashed it on the ground in approval, had the staff pick up after me, tuck me into bed & then a solid 7 hour nap before polo in the evening. On youtube.

Note: I made this with a grilled corn relish in between the egg and hash. It was tasty, sweet from the corn & colorful. Also completely superfluous. I made it for something else and needed to get rid of it. It's an ear of grilled corn, a couple tbsp picante sauce and about a tbsp of cotija cheese.




Tex Benedict
(1)

for the tostada:
2 tostadas from fiesta (which you have to re-heat in the oven) or 2 fried tortillas (fry a tortilla in 1/2 inch of oil until crispy, drain on paper towel, repeat)

the hash:
1/4 lb breakfast sausage, crumbled
1 small potato
1 piece of bacon, cut into small pieces
about 1/8 of an onion. You heard me right, 1/8.
Tbsp bacon grease that you should be keeping in your fridge
spices: chili powder, cumin, mexican oregano

poblano cream (adapted from Steven Pyles Ancho Cream:
grilled or roasted poblano
couple tbsp milk
1/3 - 1/2 cup mexican sour cream or regular sour cream.

In a skillet, cook the all of the hash ingredients on medium-ish until brown and cooked through. 15 minutes or so. Try not to flip it so much, so it'll get a nice crust. Also, bacon cooks s,lower, so nuking the pieces for 30 seconds, to give it a head start, is a good idea.

Blend the milk & poblano in a food processor*** until smooth. It takes a couple of minutes.

Press poblano-milk mixture through a fine strainer or sieve into the cream. 

Fold the milk & poblano mixture into the cream. The cream is runny & you want it to kinda stay that way-- mix it together gently, so you don't add more air to the mixture.

When this is done and you have warmed tostadas, poach your egg.

Layer thusly: tostada, hash, poblano cream, tostada, hash, poblano cream, poached egg. Garnish as if it was your last day on earth. Go to town.


*They even keep me entertained 100% of the time I'm awake. Me bored -- the stimulus my mind gets when I'm bored as shit -- would have been the most exciting day in someone's life in the 1700's. I do not envy you, forefather.
**that's right: servants. It's like downton fuckin' abbey in my apartment.
***I have one of these, which changed my life.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

tamales


A tamale looks nothing like what the name sounded like to me as a kid.

Same thing with sweet breads, Candlestick Park, and anyone with the name Carmen. I'm not entirely sure what I thought a tamale would look like based on name-sound alone, but the sound of "tamale" was exotic to me. Exotic in a "no way I'm eating that" 8 year old's kind of way. Like guacamole. "why the fuck*" kid me wondered "would would anybody eat guacamole? It looks weird, and that name..." ** Sight, smell, name, or just because-- I was a picky kid & nothing was going to stand in the way of me not trying new things. I could handle a lot-- baths, not being allowed to drive or make most of the family decisions, but not progress.

But with tamales it took a long time before I saw one & someone was like "no dummy, that's a tamale". I knew only that it sounded like more than I was up for. So when I finally really saw one, I was pissed off....

Why didn't anybody tell me tamales looked like this? I'll eat that shit. They should really change the name to something that doesn't sound challenging to an eight year old's palate. This looks like a wet, shiny, meat & cornbread bar. That sounds good. Why didn't they call it that? I'm going to pull Bernadette's hair & blame it on someone else.

etc

What did I know? Children are dumb, everyone knows that.

Anyway, not to hyperbolize, but tamales are good. This was my first stab at making them, so I looked around & followed the basic concept here . I was very happy with the result. Not pinche bad for a gringo.
Oh and this is a sweet potato tamale. About that. Stay with me, weiners. The sweet potato flavor was mild and the texture was strictly tamale. No funny business (maybe second base). The sweet potato was a great ingredient, because I just mixed it into the tamale dough. In a meat or bean tamale, you've got separate layers to roll together. Easier. good.

sweet potato tamales
(8 or 10 large ones)

corn husks
1 sweet potato, cooked & mixed with cumin, cinnamon, chili powder & mexican oregano
1 3/4 cup instant masa
1 cup hot water
1/2 cup lard (don't use lois for this)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup chicken broth
salt
soak the corn husks in water for a few hours before you start your dough.


play the waiting game, or better, yahtzee. if you play yahtzee, you wanna get that 35 point upper bonus. trust me.

pour the water in the masa in a bowl & mix it together until it gets the consistency of moist brown sugar.

in another bowl, beat together the lard, baking powder & cooked sweet potato.
add the masa mixture, a bit at a time, to the sweet potato mixture.

when the masa is fully mixed with the sweet potato mixture, add in the chicken stock and BEAT. go to town. you want to get some air into the mixture.

when the mixture is light enough that a pinch will float in a glass of water, it's ready.

spoon about 2 tbsp of the mixture onto a corn husk & roll up the husk, folding in one end.

stack the tamales on end in a steamer***

steam for 2 hours with the lid on. check it every 15 minutes & add more water if needed. it will be needed.

after two hours, take one out and check it. If it looks like canned pumpkin, put it back in and check in 15 minutes. repeat until you have a firmer texture that resembles, oh i don't know, a tamale. I had to do this a couple of times, so don't get discouraged-- you will lose your tamale virginity with grace. The end.


*yup, even as a kid I liked working the blue. Who knew kid me & adult me would have something in common? Small world.
**Amazingly, it didn't taste like a cat's asshole when I finally tried it 15 years later.
***or as much on end as you can get them. I have a regular basket steamer, so it was hard to get them to not lay on one side. The result was that one side looked prettier than the other, but the texture and taste wasn't affected.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

red beans and rice



Sometimes I make something & I'm about to eat & I go "oh shit, I have to put this on the blog!" And then I cobble something together. It's like thinking you're going to watch youtube videos in a t-shirt and no pants all night & then getting invited to try out the world's first actual-- like you always imagined it-- rocket pack*. In one hour. And you need a tux.  

Not to worry, I always wear a tux when I cook. And while I can't prove that wearing a  tux will make you excel at creating this dish, I can't disprove it either. I never haven't donned a tux while making this dish. It's a comfort/sophistication thing. For the very same reason, I always wear swimming trunks under my clothes. Nothing's more uncomfortable than seeing a swimming pool & not being able to get in.

Red beans & rice is a creole classic, as well as a Caribbean favorite (where it's called rice & peas). This version, with the addition of the coconut milk, has more in common with Caribbean rice and peas & has been adapted over time from a recipe in "How to Make Everything" by the great Mark "Bobo" Bittman. No one actually calls him that.

Note: the coconut milk in this dish made me think of thai curries, which is what made me think to use curry paste. Meatwise,  Iitalian sausage, brats, spanish chorizo, bbq pork, carnitas, shrimp, rotisserie chicken, etc or certainly no meat at all, can be substituted here.

kinda curried red beans and rice
(good for about 36 hours worth)
don't take my pic, i haven't done my face!

for rice and beans:
can of red beans, drained
can of coconut milk
cup of rice**, preferably wild rice*** or a wild rice mix.
1tbsp red curry paste
juice of a lime
finely chopped cilantro for garnish

For meat:
use whatever you want (see notes above)
I used spiced ground turkey, crumbled and cooked in a pan, with chopped onion, garlic & ginger & some turmeric to give it some color. 

add the wild rice, coconut milk and curry paste to a pot or skillet and bring to a boil. if you aren't doing meat, first fry some onions, garlic and ginger in the pot then add the aforementioned stuff. 

reduce heat to a low simmer, and cap. Let it go 20 minutes****.

stir in drained red beans. if there is liquid left from cooking the rice, turn the heat up a little until it is absorbed.

stir in lime juice, & cilantro (hint: use a shitload).

serve & top with cooked meat. 

*like you wouldn't compare your blog to a rocket pack. especially a reliable one. with a good warranty.
**I used a 99c box of rice-a-roni wild rice mix. It had a "spice packet" that smelled like dehydrated feet. the rice was fine, but if you can get Rice Select or Mahatma brands, both are way better.
***wild rice isn't actually rice. which probably explains why it's so good (rice kinda sucks)
****you want the rice to absorb the liquid, rather than it evaporating, so keep the lid on

Thursday, June 7, 2012

comfort food (or food to listen to appetite for destruction to)

i hope you like fried chicken and guns n' roses. read on.

There are entries in our culinary lexicon, like foodie and comfort food that make me want to punch a baby penguin*. Foodie (cringe)? Really, you like food huh? Cool. I'm really big into breathing air. That's my thing: air. A need isn't a hobby. That's just being lazy (also not a hobby). And comfort food? Comfortable how? Comfortable like farting in front of your significant other? Comfortable like wade boggs settling in for a cross country flight? I don't need my food adjectives to evoke belucosity or the ballplayers of my youth tying one on**. Nevermind that comfort food is actually the gateway to discomfort (who doesn't overdo it?), it just sounds weird to me. Like calling food "fun". Why would you need to eat fun? You don't go to a picture show because you're hungry. And your stomach doesn't go "look, I'm really empty here and everything, but could you play that shake your ass song by Mystikal? I'm just looking for a good time." Dumb.

Whatever. That said, comfort food totally rules.

Yes, the term is a little twee***. It's also evocative & I get it. I'm thinking warm, filling, not-too-challenging to the palate stuff. Kids' stuff. Stuff that takes you back. Like Appetite for Destruction or whatever album you grew up on. Yes indeed, Appetite is the comfort food of sounds (honorable mention) & not a certain later GnR offering.****

In fact, where are you Weird Al? Appetite lays the perfect framework for a concept food parody album (appetite for consumption?):

maybe it's just the knife, but i'm comforted
Welcome to the Jungle-- Welcome to My Mouth Hole

Out to Get Me-- Out to Get Beef

Mr Brownstone-- Mr Brown..fuck...uhhh... pone… I don't know. Work in progress.

Think About You--Think About Food

Rocket Queen-- Refried Bean
(here's a haaaaam/and you're a refried bean/ooooh yeeeaaah…)

This stuff practically writes itself. Anyway, here's some food so comfortable you'll swear there's a Barcalounger in your mouth.

Notes: this is a bit of a rerun, as I already covered fried chicken. Ignore the old recipe. This is far far superior & I will always do it this way from now on. The combination of the buttermilk marinade & spiking the flour mixture with a bit of corn starch (thank you korean fried chicken for giving me that idea) gives the chicken a perfect, crispy, slightly crunchy crust. Plus pan frying in the cast iron is simple. Lastly, I had steamed broccoli and mac 'n' cheese with this. I can't do MnC better than the stuff from the box, so no recipe there. And the broccoli... steam it for 10 minutes. chop it up. end of recipe.



Pan fried chicken
(so comforting I ate it all. It's the equivalent of 10 chicken wings)

5 chicken wings (not the "wing" and drumette, the full-on wingage)*****
1 cup flour
1/4 cup corn starch
Oil for frying

for marinade:
1/2 pint buttermilk
seasoning (I used cumin, paprika, garlic powder)
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp hot sauce or to taste


mix together the marinade ingredients. pour marinade in a freezer bag with the chicken and toss to coat the chicken. refrigerate several hours.

stare vacuously at the ground.

mix the corn starch and flour in a bowl. take the chicken pieces out of the marinade, shaking excess off, & drop them in the bowl. toss to coat.

let the chicken stay out until it gets kind of a gluey sticky exterior. this is the buttermilk bonding with the flour & starch & is what's going to give you that great crust.

pour oil about half way up in a cast iron skillet & heat it to about medium, maybe a little less. do it slowly. If you get cast iron too hot, you'll have smoking oil and a pan that wants to stay too hot.

fry the pieces for about 20 minutes, flipping and rotating once, midway through. they should be brown and basically cooked through.

turn the heat to med-hi. fry 3-5 more minutes, flipping the pieces. This is just to get them super crispy. they'll look browner after being out of the oil a few minutes, so don't overdo it.

drain on paper towels, dust with salt, let the pieces rest a few minutes & enjoy.


 *not really. I usually think seafaring birds are bullshit (Because they are. What are you doing? Ever heard "it's for the birds"? They're not talking about swimming.), but come on…. look at these little bastards! I might even smuggle one home from a a zoo, only to realize later that raising a penguin is harder, less sitcom-ish than I thought & then abandon it in a field where it will be free.
**but I do like wade boggs getting hammered memes. also, Boggsy is purported to have eaten fried chicken before every game. No wonder he's in the Hall of Fame!
***kinda like the term "twee". I had to do the right thing and punch myself in the stomach after I wrote that.
****it's sure as fuck not Chinese Democracy. You took it too far Axl, especially when you ate Van Morrison and took to wearing his skin as a raincoat.
*****keeping the wing whole allows you to have sort of a chicken wing kebab. The chicken's wing provides the familiar drumette & "wing" you get with buffalo wings. This simply keeps it in tact, plus the wing tip acts as a little fried handle.

Monday, June 4, 2012

truck month carnitas

what's it gonna take to get you into a pile of carnitas today?

Bottom line: June is Truck Month in Texas, or so the TV tells me. Constantly. Truck Month is a traditional & festive time at one's local ford, chevy or dodge dealer. The dude from blazing saddles is there. It's a magical, magical, limited-time only season.

I love the truck holidays.

Were you good this year? Yeah? Then enjoy the best payload* in class in your stocking. Unwrap a crew cab. Decorate your shrub (it'a shrub for truck month) with very low APR. Have a new car smell flavored gin cocktail. And never forget the true meaning of truck month: hurrying to get yourself a good deal on a full size pickup before the savings on model year end close outs is history.

Obviously Truck Month is important, so I wanted to ring in the Season with savings! Er, with deliciousness. I give you the national dish of Truck Month. Carnitas.
i accept the responsibility, taco gods

I bitched a while back about taquerias serving up bad carnitas. Don't ruin truck month by making me talk about it again. This is how to not make them bad. It's a pretty simple pork shoulder confit. What's a confit, you pompous douche, you ask? In olden (pre-refrigeration) times it was a preservation method whereby meat (or whatever) was cooked in rendered fat, then allowed to cool in said fat. The fat congealed, got covered in cloth & the contents were preserved inside soooo much cooled, rendered fat, like Han Solo in carbonite. Nowadays obviously, a refrigerator stands in nicely for the old (whatever they used to store it in) of fat, so what you're left with is the cooking method. Essentially: simmering something immersed in hot fat. A slow deep fry.**

Before you start bitching about your arteries, it's not as bad as it sounds. There's no breading; no fat is being absorbed by the meat. Pork shoulder is naturally fatty, but a confit of pork is no fattier than braised pork. It also keeps the meat more moist, because... fuck it, somebody else explain...

meet lois, your new bff
If you're gonna start confiting, you're gonna want to start keeping a bucket of lard in your fridge. Reusing lard adds flavor. I know what you're thinking: a bucket of lard in my fridge? C'mon guy, isn't that disgusting and weird? Relax. And don't call me guy. It's not what it sounds like. Its actually a tupperware filled with lard. Totally different. Stick it in the back of the fridge and don't think about it. Or try giving your lard a name, like Lois, to humanize it, so you stop judging it. And if Lois gets nasty and has to go away, invest in Lois 2. You have to get over the lard thing if you want to make this.

Trust me: do it.

Make these carnitas and then maybe head out to your neighborhood Toyota dealer. Bring 'em some. Let them know you appreciate what they do. While you're there, if you wanna take a look at some serious savings on Tacomas & Tundras... hey, all the better. Happy Truck Month, everyone.

truck month carnitas
pork is for lovers
(servings vary. it goes quickly)

gotsa have:

2 lb pork shoulder, cut into 2 squarish chunks
salt, pepper, cumin
zest or peel of a navel orange (that's the size you're going for but any type of orange is ok)
lard. 4lb bucket of lard (you only need half, don't be a pussy). you'll know when you see it, because it's in a damn bucket
a sweet catch phrase-- I suggest "sweet sassy molassey"

bring the lard up to about medium heat. i like to spike mine with some bacon grease too***

dust your pork chunks with salt, pepper & cumin (or whatever you like if you wanna not copy me). press it in there to help get a crust.

drop the pork chunks and orange peel into the lard and reduce the heat to low to med-low. you want a lazy lazy simmer.

(catch phrase)

burn in heaven carnitas
let it go about 2 hours (maybe 2.5), turning every hour if the pork pieces are not quite covered (cover them as much as possible). they should have some give, but not be jiggly yet. when you get that par-jiggle, crank the heat to med-hi, until you get a nice brown crust (20 minutes or so). the pork should now have a little wiggle to it (catch phrase).

take the pork out & let it drain and rest (it's had a long day) for a bit, at least 15 minutes. should be up near 180-190 internally.

time's up? (catch phrase)**** whack it to pieces with a big knife.

If you've done it right, you'll have this rich, juicy pulled pork/cripsy bits/fleshy bites hybrid. With a little orange hint. Good luck not grabbing a handful off the top and shoving it into your mouth. Suffice it to say, it's a gift from the taco gods.

Random pic of my brother's mustache:
another taco pic. add it to the pile.
And scene.

*payload? what the fuck is payload supposed to be and how are we supposed to not think it sounds porno-ey?
**you can still, like the traditional method, cool the meat inside the cooking fat. some people say this method is best, that it adds flavor. it doesn't, but suit yourself. its not gonna hurt.
***yup, vat o' lard in the fridge, bacon grease in the freezer, virginia ham next to my fax machine: the pig essentials
****you overdid it with the catch phrase. you're just... you're over selling it.



i wish every month was truck month. oh snap. it is.