Monday, December 29, 2008

Random Food

I've been hella lazy with posting recipes. As a consolation prize, have a looksie at the random things I've eaten over the past month.

Featured Restaurants (in order of appearance):

Han Il Kwan

1802 Balboa St
(between 19th Ave & 20th Ave)
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 752-4447

Tartine Bakery

600 Guerrero St
(between 18th St & 19th St)
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 487-2600

Vietnamese Noodle House

726 Clement St
(between 8th Ave & 9th Ave)
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 668-8896

Golden River

5827 Geary Blvd
(between 22nd Ave & 23rd Ave)
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 668-5105


3621 18th St
(between Guerrero St & Oakwood St)
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 552-4055


2435 Clement St
(between 25th Ave & 26th Ave)
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 668-1676

Luna Park

694 Valencia St
(between 18th St & Sycamore St)
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 553-8584


1740 Buchanan Street
(between Post St & Sutter St)
San Francisco, CA 94115

Dragon River

5045 Geary Boulevard
(between 14th Ave & 15th Ave)
San Francisco, CA 94118

Ton Kiang

5821 Geary Blvd
(between 22nd Ave & 23rd Ave)
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 752-4440

Swan Oyster Depot

1517 Polk St
(between California St & Sacramento St)
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 673-1101

The Cheese Steak Shop

1716 Divisadero Street
(between Bush St & Sutter St)
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 346-3712

Although I love my Chinese food, I'm having an affair with Italian.  I checked out A16, Delfina and Oliveto Cafe.  With more to come.

Panda Country favorite Chinese restaurant in San Francisco.

4737 Geary Blvd
(between 11th Ave & 12th Ave)
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 221-4278

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Do any of you have experience with re-teaching yourself to play a musical instrument? I am looking for a three month plan with about 5 hours of practice per week. My goal is to get to a decent enough level to join some other amateurs for a public performance night at a local coffee shop. My background: 20 years of violin lessons, attended a prestigious music conservatory where I studied with, his-eminence, Victor Danchenko. I was playing at a fairly high level when I quit but went cold turkey for 7 years. There is significant rust.

I am thinking scales and arpeggios (played against a drone to check intonation), double stops (thirds, fourths and sixths), and slow bow exercises for the first month. With a metronome, of course.

After the first month, let's hit up some Kreutzer etudes! With rhythms and bowings.

For the third month, I think I'll play it by ear (no pun intended).

I also need to buy new strings and get my bow re-haired.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Wakakusa Nabe

I am currently testing hot pot recipes for an upcoming cookbook which is slated for an October 2009 release.  Although I am not able to post recipes, I thought I'd post a few pics.  This first hot pot featured pork and  a whole mess of greens...napa cabbage, mizuna, spinach, shungiku and watercress.  The broth is mirin/dashi/soy.  Really, really terrific.  I will definitely make this again. 

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Help Needed

Hi gang. Sorry for not posting for nearly a month but, aside from a notable exception, I've not cooked anything worth mentioning for quite some time.

Anyhow, I'm here to see if any of you want to help out in my kitchen and be a taste-tester! I'm doing some recipe testing for an upcoming cookbook on Japanese hot pot dishes and have three recipes I need to create and taste. Given that the recipes make far too much food for one person, I need mouths to food! So, you help out in the kitchen and, in return, get fed!

If you are interested, drop me a line at

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Omnivore's Hundred

I'm a little late to the party but here goes:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at linking to your results.

1. Venison

2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

I hope that you had a good time. I'm currently sitting at home drinking martinis (gin, ftw) listening to Mozart ( K. 365) at an ear-splitting volume while contemplating whether or not I should shower and head out for the night. I think I'll walk to a bookstore and browse cookbooks....

And, oh yah, I'm really bummed. My favorite part of Halloween is handing out candy to the lil' trick-or-treaters. Not. A. Single. One. Not one. Seriously, parents. Do your damn job and take your kids out on Halloween!

Monday, October 27, 2008


Sexy reader Nyrd06 writes,
"exactly when do you plan your meals? do you plan a week's worth the weekend before? or do you plan for two weeks? I'm curious because I'm looking for more efficient strategies/ routines for planning my meals. It's been especially hard lately because I've been busy this semester plus my dorm this year (and thus the kitchen) is not nearly as big as the one I had last year..."

Well, I typically spend 30 minutes to an hour on a Saturday or Sunday deciding what it is I want to make for the upcoming week. My final choice is a function of what we have in the 'fridge, what I'm craving, what the weather is like, whether I feel fat or not (don't laugh...this actually does play a part), what I think I can find at the local markets, which cookbook I've been reading, what I've recently seen on TV, what friends have suggested...etc. I'll generally have two index cards with shopping lists. There's usually one ingredient which might be hard to find so, if I can't find that ingredient, I have another shopping list for a different dish. Kind of anal but it's saved me on many an occasion.

I do almost all of my cooking on weekends because I have next to no time on weekday nights. I get off work around 6, grab a bus home and get back around 7. I go running most weeknights so there's another 40 minutes. I really don't have the time to go grocery shopping and cook. I need cooked meals already in the fridge.

Let's talk about how I planned for this week's meals: On Saturday, I purchased some apples at the farmers' market. I decided to cook something with those apples. I'm awful at dessert so I needed something, voila, apple crumble. That part was easy.

For the savory component of the upcoming week's meals, I peeked in the fridge. We had somewhere around 40 eggs, all nearing expiration, so I decided that I needed to do something with eggs. A frittata popped into my mind. My usual frittata recipe involves onions, potatoes and cheese. Eggs=breakfast=sausage so I decided to toss in some pork sausages. I used a combination of breakfast links and mild Italian sausage.

Frittata, even a 14 egg frittata is only going to get me through 6 meals (breakfast and dinner Monday-Wednesday...I eat lunch in the office cafeteria). I knew I needed four more meals so I kept that in mind while on my grocery shopping trip. While at the butcher, I saw some good looking steak on sale. In addition, it was still in the vacuum bag so it would last longer than an unwrapped steak. I talked to the butcher and he said that the steak would be fine until Wednesday night. Great, so I can finish the frittata on Wednesday night, cook the steak, and be set for Thursday and Friday. I need something to eat with steak so I grabbed some salad greens/lettuce. I get a little bored of rice so I grabbed some whole wheat lavash. A ha. An idea...sliced, grilled steak, lettuce...I'll make steak wraps for Thursday and Friday. Done. So, I've got dessert for the week, frittata for the first three days and steak wraps for the last two. Not a bad plan.

I find that stews, soups, braises etc. also work really well for this kind of schedule. Not only are they super convenient (just pair them with the starch of your choice), they actually taste better the longer they sit (up to a certain point...don't be an idiot about it). I guess this is why I make so many chicken curries...they're affordable, go great with rice and work well on my schedule. Also, hearty soup, bread and side salad is a fine meal although I don't do that as often.

Thinking ahead and going grocery shopping with a general plan is absolutely key. I'm definitely not one of those people who goes to the store with an open mind. Nope. If I see a great sale or an ingredient which looks especially good, I'll find a way to fit it in but I generally know exactly what I'm cooking before I go shopping. Just think about your schedule and what you can do with it. Hope this helps.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Black Bean Sauce Chicken with Onion

Super duper basic chicken stir fry. This recipe uses very few odd ingredients. I'm writing on a weeknight so no time for an introduction--I'll get straight to the recipe.

This recipe is from "The Breath of a Wok" by Grace Young and Alan Richardson. If you're interested in how to cook in a wok, this is the book for you. Stir-frying, steaming, smoking, this book shows you how to use your wok in a multitude of ways. Although I've mostly only cooked the stir-fry recipes, they've all been dependable and delicious. Recommended, although the scope of this book is rather narrow. Definitely an enthusiast level cookbook but, if you're into the subject matter, it's fantastic. Does that make sense? I hope so.


1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thigh cut into bite sized pieces

1 tablespoon of soy sauce plus an extra dash

1 teaspoon of Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry

.5 teaspoon sugar

.5 teasoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon fermented black beans, rinsed

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon minced ginger

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

4 small whole shallots, peeled (about 1/2 cup) (I used large pieces of diced onion)

1/3 cup chicken broth (or veggie broth, I used water and it was fine)

1 green onion, chopped

Combine the chicken, tablespoon of soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, salt and white pepper in a bowl. Mix to combine. Add the corn starch and mix. The mixture should be slightly sticky.

In a small bowl, combine the black beans, garlic, ginger and dash of soy sauce. Mash with a fork.

Heat up a wok over high heat. Toss in a few tablespoons of oil. Add the chicken mixture and spread flat. Allow the chicken to brown. Depending on your heat source, temperature of the chicken, how long you allowed the wok to heat up etc., this might take a few minutes. When brown, stir fry for a few minutes, just so the chicken changes color on all sides.

Toss in the black bean mixture and onion (or shallot). Stir-fry for a few minutes. Toss in the broth and bring to a boil. You'll see it thicken and give the rest of the dish a glossy sheen. Toss in the green onion, give it a quick stir and you're done!

Time-15 minutes

Cost-3 bucks for the chicken, 1 dollar for the rest. Will serve 2 as a single course stir-fry dinner or more depending on how many other dishes you serve.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Liuyang Black Bean Chicken

Did you know that my original chicken, tofu and black bean post is the most widely read page on this blog? Even if you take into account that that post has been up the longest, it still kills every subsequent entry. Given that I think the original chicken/black bean post sucks (not the recipe, just the post), I decided to do another chicken and black bean stir fry. Is this redundant? I don't think it is because the flavors are very, very different. Also, it involves an interesting technique. Chinese food aficionados already know that the Chinese LOVE to cook things multiple times. There are countless examples of this in Chinese cookery and, in this recipe, the chicken is twice cooked in hot oil and then stir-fried.

This recipe is from "Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook" by Fuchsia Dunlop. I absolutely love Dunlop's cookbooks because they focus on under-represented regions and cuisines. Her masterpiece on Sichuanese cooking is considered one of the all-time English language Chinese cookbook classics. While her volume on Hunanese cuisine doesn't quite scale those literary heights, it is still an excellent addition to any Chinese cooking enthusiasts' library and comes highly recommended.


1 lb. boneless (and skinless, if you like) chicken thighs
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 head of garlic, separated into cloves and peeled, larger cloves cut in half
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
4 scallions, green parts only, cut into 1.5 inch segments
4 tablespoons of fermented black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon of Shaoxing rice wine or other Chinese rice wine
3 teaspoons of dried chili flakes (I used Korean chili flakes...they provide an outrageous amount of color to the final dish but you can use whatever you have on hand even if it's leftover chili flakes from pizza)
2 teaspoons unseasoned, rice vinegar ( I actually used more because I like a bit of vinegar tang)
1 teaspoon sesame oil (I omitted the sesame oil from my version because I was out)
2 cups of oil

Cut chicken into bite sized pieces. Add to a bowl and season with salt and the soy sauce. Mix well.

Organize all of the other ingredients, other than the oil, into little ramekins or bowls. The cooking process goes quickly so you want to be prepared.

Heat up the oil in a wok. Wait until it is good and hot or, if you have an oil thermometer, until it's 350-400 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the chicken and cook until the color has changed. Remove the chicken. Allow the oil to heat up to 350-400 degrees and add the chicken. This time, cook the chicken until it's golden-brown. When done, set the chicken aside.

Pour off all of the oil except for a couple of tablespoons.

Put your pan on medium heat, toss in the garlic and ginger. Stir-fry until the garlic is soft. Toss in the black beans and rice wine. Stir fry for 30 seconds. Toss in the chili flakes and stir-fry until they've colored the oil.

Add the fried chicken to the pot along with the vinegar. Stir fry. Add salt to taste. At this point, the chicken should be mostly cooked but grab a piece and check. Toss in the green onions and stir-fry for 30 seconds. The onions should be slightly wilted, not cooked through.

Turn off the heat, add the sesame oil and serve with plenty of rice.

Time- 15 minutes. Fast enough for a weeknight dinner.

Chicken- 3 bucks.
Incidentals- 2 dollars
5 bucks total, will serve 3-4 people as part of a multi-dish stir-fry dinner. Or two people as a single-dish dinner.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


No new post for this week as I made another batch of this recipe. I LOOOOOVE curry leaves.

To be served with dal and brown rice. Cauliflower and potatoes on the side.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Chicken with Honey, Lime, & Chile Glaze

I had a craving for something homey and delicious so I decided to make a few roasted chickens. This first one features a sweet, sour and spicy glaze. The next, which I won't discuss today, is brined in a Mexican flavored brine. I'll discuss the chemistry behind brining in a future post. Anyhow, for this chicken, I asked the butcher to spatchcock it but they just butterflied it. The distinction, AFAIK, is that a spatchcocked bird has the backbone and sternum removed and a butterflied bird is just cut in half. Anyhow, the reason to do either one is so that it cooks more evenly.

The glaze recipe is from John Ash Cooking One-On-One: Kitchen Secrets From A Master Teacher by John Ash. I don't really have an opinion on this book. It's organized in chapters which deal with specific techniques and then specific ingredients. As always, please try to use a naturally raised bird.

The Glaze:
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup honey
1.5 tablespoons of Ancho or Guajillo chile powder
.5 teaspoon of ground coriander
.5 teaspoon of ground cumin
.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 4-5 pound chicken, cleaned
Salt and peppr

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Liberally season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Place the bird, skin side up on a baking sheet or roasting pan.

Whisk together the ingredients for the glaze. I found that microwaving the honey to melt it and then whisking in the other ingredients made for an easier mixing process.

Toss the bird into the oven. Let it cook for, say, 1/2 an hour. I'm sorta improvising the cooking times. The recipe says to start brushing the bird with the glaze after 20 minutes but I disagree because the bird still has 30 minutes before the thighs are cooked through and the glaze has a tendency to burn if left on the bird for that long. After the initial glaze, keep brushing more on every 10 minutes. Don't let the glaze puddle on the skin. Just paint the bird with the's actually pretty cathartic.

After 50 or so minutes of total cooking time (poke the thighs and see if the juices run clear), remove the chicken and let it rest for 10 mintues. Cut it up and serve. If you want, keep a little extra glaze on the side to use as a dipping sauce.

Time- About an hour.
Price- REALLY depends on the price of the bird. My naturally raised chicken was $3.99/lb. So, about 20 bucks for my monster roaster. The rest of the ingredients are cheap.

Serves 5 comfortably.

Sunday, September 28, 2008



Seriously, I'm back. I won't be posting quite as often because I'm not cooking quite as much but the blog is far from dead.

Today's post is from Croquet Day. Jorge decided to have a Croquet/BBQ so I pitched in by making kalbi. Kalbi (or McCune-Reischauer is rusty) is a beef dish...marinated flanken style short ribs. I should mention something about the cut of meat. This is not your normal, boxy, rectangular short rib. The cut for this dish is done across the bone. Click here for a picture. You can find this cut of meat in Asian markets. If you don't have an Asian market near you, I'm pretty sure your local grocery store will be able to do it if you place a special order.

Anyhow, the marinade is really, really simple.

1 cup of soy sauce
1 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup of mirin
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1 Asian pear, peeled and roughly chopped (There is an enzyme in the pear which helps tenderize the meat...if you're familiar with short ribs, you already know that they're quite chewy unless properly cooked or otherwise tenderized)
5 Tablespoons of minced garlic
3 tablespoons of dark (use Korean or Japanese) sesame oil
5 lbs of flanken style short ribs, cut 1/4 inch thick
Sesame seeds

Chuck the first 8 ingredients into a food processor or blender. Process. If you don't have a food processor, just grate the onion and Asian pear. It'll take a little more time but the result will be the same. Mix the short ribs into the marinade. Sprinkle in some sesame seeds and mix again. Marinate overnight.

When you are ready to eat, prepare your grill or use your broiler. Remove the meat from the marinade and rub off the excess marinade.

Cook. You'll need to be careful because there's enough sugar in the marinade so that the meat chars at a fairly high rate. However, I think that a bit of char is essential. It helps offset the sweetness of the meat and gives the ribs more character.

The dish is traditionally served in lettuce leaves. Take a lettuce leaf, add a bit of rice and then a piece of the cooked meat. Eat. I usually get some sort of fermented soybean paste whenever I'm in a Korean BBQ joint but I don't know what it's called.

I've seen all sorts of recipes for Kalbi. Ginger is sometimes used. Other times, rice wine vinegar is added. I also like to add some red pepper flake to mine.

For the nerds out there, I'm pretty sure that the enzymes in the pear which help break down the meat are bromelain and papain. Don't quote me on that but I'm pretty sure that I am right.

Time- 5 minutes to marinate the meat. However long it takes to cook.

Food Cost-
Beef- $5.00/lb. $25 bucks for 5 lbs.
Incidentals- 2 bucks. Will feed many, many hungry mouths especially if you do the rice/lettuce thing.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Soon, very soon.

As soon as budget planning season is over, I'll be back with new stuff. Work has been keeping me busy.

Another friend suggested that because I am now very busy working man, my blog should reflect this new condition. So, I'm tossing around an idea of showing people how to cook/plan 5 days worth of food. Just an idea.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Strawberries for Supper

Strawberries are one of those foods which are seasonally dependent. Sure, you can find them year round at your local Safeway but those tasteless, cotton-filled impostors should be avoided at all cost. I went to the farmers' market and picked up a pint of summer strawberries and, in my opinion, the only thing better than strawberries and cream is strawberry shortcake. For supper, I made my own strawberry shortcake free-form plate. Just mix and match the components and make your mouth happy!

A yummy and fun dinner...If this is what it is like to be a vegetarian, I might convert. :-)

Click the picture to learn about each component:

Sunday, August 10, 2008

My Friend Matt

If you have a chance, click here to vote for him. He is in a NYC TV stations competition to find the city's best busker. FYI, busker is synonymous with subway musician.

Click here to vote for my homie.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

No New Posts Until My Commute Concludes

This is just so everyone knows what is up. I'm AWOL.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Pasta with Tomatoes and Anchovies

If this isn't my little brother's signature recipe, it should be. It is ridiculously easy but yields disproportionately delicious results. When I made it for a Sunday supper, all you heard was "slurp, slurp, yummm, slurp, nom nom nom." Don't be scared of the anchovies...they aren't particularly fishy...just ultra savory.

1 28 oz. can of whole tomatoes in juice (James recommends Muir Glen)
1 2.5 oz. container of anchovies
3 cloves of minced garlic

1 box of spaghetti
1/4 cup of good quality olive oil (important because the olive oil is very present)
1/4 cup of rough chopped Italian parsley

Take the tomatoes and remove them from the can. Leave the juice behind. Rough chop the tomatoes and place in a bowl. If any juice from the rough chopped tomatoes collects in the bottom of the bowl, that is okay. You just don't want to use all the juice from the can.

Drain the anchovies and cross cut. Mash with a fork and set aside.

Start heating up your water for the pasta. Salt the water.

Heat up the quarter cup of olive oil. You don't want to color the garlic...just get a mild sizzle going to help release the garlic flavor into the oil. After a minute of two of this, toss in the mashed anchovies and distribute. Mash the anchovies into the oil and cook for another minute. Add the chopped tomatoes and bring to a simmer. You will want to cook the sauce for 15-20 minutes. The sauce is done when the tomato juice has evaporated and, when you slide a spatula through the pot, the tomatoes part and the bottom of the pan is clearly evident. Add a touch of salt...remember, the anchovies are quite salty.

About 10 minutes into the tomato sauce simmering time, toss in the pasta. It'll take 8 or so minutes to cook. Drain the pasta.

By now, the sauce should be done. Dump the drained pasta into the tomato sauce and mix well. Toss in the parsley and mix again. Dish up and dig in!

Time- 25 minutes, most of it is inactive.

Food cost-
Tomatoes- $2.59
Garlic- Like 4 cents?
Pasta- $1.00
Olive Oil- $0.19
Anchovies- $1.49
Parsley- Ummm, another 4 cents?
Total- $5.35...3-4 servings so $1.78 or $1.33 per serving.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


I love pancakes. There's just something about them, a certain je nais sais quoi which I can't put into words. For this batch, I used whole wheat flour in conjunction with white flour. My younger brother was aghast at my decision to use whole wheat flour. Indeed, his response was so extreme that it made me think that using whole wheat flour was morally reprehensible in some way...a sin against breakfast foods. Anyways, I've been on a whole grain health kick over the past few weeks so that's why I decided to mix flours. Furthermore, I read a recipe which called for the addition of cooked quinoa to the pancake batter. To accompany my pancakes, I made a ghetto peach compote.

1 Peach
4 tablespoons of sugar
Juice of one lemon
3 tablespoons of butter
1 cup of whole wheat flour
1 cup of white flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of salt
1 egg
1 cup of buttermilk

For the peaches:
Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Make a small, x-shaped incision on the bottom of the peach. When the water is boiling, drop the peach and cook for 30 seconds. Remove the peach. When cool enough to handle, peel the peach. The skin should be easy to remove. Cut the peach into bite sized wedges. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a small pan and drop in the peach wedges. Cook for a minute or so. Add much is up to you...personal taste....I must've used 1.5-2 tablespoons. Allow the melted butter, peach juice and sugar to form a caramel. When the peaches start to take on a bit of color, turn off the heat and squeeze in some lemon juice. How much is up to you...just enough to add a bit of acidity. Set the peach compote aside.

For the pancakes:

Combine the whole what flour, white flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a large bowl.

Melt the remaining two tablespoons of butter in a microwave. Allow it to cool for a don't want the residual heat to scramble the egg. Whisk the butter and egg together. Whisk in the buttermilk. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix to JUST more than that. Allow the batter to rest for 10 minutes. If you wanted to incorporate the cooked quinoa, now would be the proper time. Add about 3/4 of a cup.

If you are planning on cooking all of the pancakes before eating, you'll probably want to keep the first few batches warm. I use my oven...just preheat it to 200 degrees and put a plate in there. I place a cotton cloth on the plate and place the cooked pancakes under the cloth...a pancake blanket. This method works well.

Heat up your pancake pan. I spray it with a bit of oil but a light glaze of butter also works well. I use an ice cream scooper to scoop up the batter. I used about two scoops per pancake. Expect the first batch to's just an inviolable rule of pancake cookery.

I can't really tell you how long to cook the'll find your own groove.

Serve with maple syrup and peaches (if you made them). Done!

Time- 30 minutes, total. Includes 10 minutes of batter resting time.

Food cost- Too cheap. Not going to bother with it.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Bar Vs. Liquid

After much deliberation, I have made the switch to liquid bath soap. Thus far, I am quite pleased with the change.

A food post coming on Sunday. I would do it tomorrow but I'll be at work.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

No Updates...Sorry!

I am swamped with work. This leaves me unable to update my blog. However, I will try to put something up tomorrow night...

Until then, check this out. Definitely NSFW....tastefully NSFW.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Calling All Math Nerds....err, Mathletes

So, I'm currently reading this book which is one of the most thought provoking books I've ever read. I e-mailed my older brother one of the sections from the book and it led to a vigorous and animated discussion. During the course of the argument, we started thinking about a math problem and neither of could solve it on the spot. Having given it some thought, I've come up wiht my solution and have recreated it for all of you with the hopes that you might be able to show me if and where I've gone wrong.

Assume that we have a two person population, STD+ and STD-, with STD+ composing 75% of the population and STD- = (1-STD+). Given that we have a two person population, there are three kinds of interactions that can occur:

1) STD+/STD+
2) STD-/STD-
3) STD+/STD-

Our goal is to figure out how many NEW STD+ people there will be at the end of the night assuming that all individuals successfully couple with another individual, no discrimination or preferences are evident, the STD is 100% contagious and that there is no use of STD prevention devices.

The first two couplings are irrelevant because they do not create any new STD+. Only in the third coupling will there be a new STD+ person. With this in mind, it should be easy to compute.

1) (.75)(.75)= .5625
2) (.25)(.25)= .0625
.5625 + .0625= .625
1-.625= .375

So, in a 1,000 person population constrained by our above conditions, there will be 375 new STD+ people created.

Seem right?

edit: Studly reader Mark R has written in with what seems to be the correct solution. Read the comments to see what he has to say...

Happy 4th!

See more funny videos at CollegeHumor

I LOL'd more than a few times.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Prince Cafe

Let's get this out of the don't go to the Prince Cafe for delicious food. Oh sure, it's totally acceptable Chinese food....if you live in Arkansas. Given the plethora of nearby Asian options on Geary Blvd, you'd be insane to declare Prince Cafe the monarch of Asian eats. However, it is cheap as all get out. Incredibly cheap. That's the main attraction here. You'll eat the food and wonder (especially at happy hour) how the hell they turn a profit. It's an intellectual exercise mixed with a bit of physical sustenance. Go for the experience, NOT the food.

I first went to Prince Cafe for is one of the few places in my neighborhood which serves congee aka jook aka rice porridge aka Chinese gruel. I ordered the classic preserved egg & salted pork. It's fair, not great. Certainly no Hing Lung. Needed salt. The side order of Chinese donut was pretty crappy. Coffee is acceptable. Milk tea is somewhat poor. Toast with butter is acceptable. On subsequent visits, I tried the side order chow fun and chow mein. Chow mein is great but it is a horribly greasy start to your day. Chow fun is a little better. Tried a few other porridges...assorted giblet is good...lots of fun bits of offal in there.

Lunch rice bowls are a pretty good deal. Soup and a rice bowl for a little under 5 bucks. Soup is vegetable beef. Sounds strange but it's a Hong Kong style Chinese joint...they do spaghetti with ketchup and things like that. Fusion. My rice bowl, though, was pure Chinese. Soy-braised pork belly with mustard greens and ground fish meatballs. FANTASTIC. Easily the best thing that I have ever eaten at Prince Cafe. Pork belly is richly flavorful without being greasy. A delight. Sparerib and pepper with black bean sauce rice bowl is prepared for lots of bony bits.

Happy hour ($2.88 per plate!) is a mixed bag. I get the feeling that you need to know what to order. Some of the stuff we ordered was pretty good...most of it fell flat.

Same with dinner. The dinner menu deal is rice, soup, 3 main plates and dessert for 18 bucks. Again, I feel that you need to know what to order to maximize your experience. However, for 18 bucks, it is a hell of a deal.

Anyhow, I will end with this...the Prince Cafe is one of the few Chinese restaurants where I get decent service. I dunno...the servers are friendly. Not the surly bunch you find in most other Chinese.

5423 Geary Blvd
(between 18th Ave & 19th Ave)
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 876-2828

Monday, June 30, 2008

First Day At My New Job

After last summer's debacle of a commute, I told myself that I'd never again take a job which involved a 4+ hour daily commute. Well, Oops!....I Did It Again!

However, it is a mixed blessing. I get plenty of time to read! Yay for words!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sorry So Slow

I apologize for the lack of quality content. Not only did we have an internet outage but I have been getting ready for my new job. I start in less that 12 hours.

Wish me luck!

Oh Noes!!!1!

I've recently been informed (from Han through George) that LOLCats "are sooooo 2 years ago." So, even though LOLCats give me great pleasure, I will defer to my more trendy friends and no longer feature them on this site. Thanks for pissing on my parade, boys.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

No New Posts for the Next 7-10 Days...

...because we are changing the home internet service and will have an internet "outage."

How will I survive?!?!??!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mexican-Style Zucchini Tacos

So many thoughts running through my head! I am having a really, REALLY hard time focusing on any one thing so this post might be desultory and/or spastic. THAT'S a good SAT word.

This is the final installment in the taco trilogy. Hot weather provides tacit encouragement for the consumption of vegetables and I thought that this recipe would be appropriate...however, I failed to take into account the richness and lush texture that 2/3-cup of whipping cream would add. FAIL. This recipe is from Bayless' Mexico One Plate At A Time. As before, I consider this an excellent introductory book to the art of Mexican cuisine. If you happen to go looking for it, don't be perturbed by the gringo on the book's front cover. You might be obsessed with finding a Mexican cookbook by a Mexican but I assure you that Bayless and, by extension, this book are legit. The real deal.


1.5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium white onion, chopped
18 ounces of canned, whole tomatoes in juice, drained
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 large fresh poblano chiles (I used three because I really like the flavor of poblano chiles...Poblanos are large, fresh, green chiles with a vegetal flavor and mild spice...If you've ever had a chile relleno, you already had a poblano without knowing it!)
1 large ear corn, husked and kernels cut off (Canned corn would be fine, I suppose...use1 cup)
4 medium (1.5 pounds total) of zucchini (I used Mexican zucchini) cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (or, if you can find it, leaves from 1 sprig fresh epazote)
2/3 cup crema, creme fraiche or heavy whipping cream
Crumbled queso fresco or other crumbly fresh cheese

Pour oil into a large (12-inch) skillet and set over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until well browned...recipe says 8 minutes. While the onion is cooking, puree the tomatoes in a blender. Add the garlic to the browned onion and cook for a minute, stirring, then add the tomatoes. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover the skillet and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Roast the poblanos over a gas flame or on a baking sheet 4 inches under a hot broiler, turning regularly until the skin is charred and blistered. Cover the peppers with a kitchen towel (or place into a bowl and cover with saran wrap) and wait 5 minutes. Rub off the blackened skin and pull out the stems and seed pods. Rinse BRIEFLY to remove any stray seeds and bits of skin. Slice into 1/4 inch strips.

Set the skillet with the tomato mixture over medium-high heat. Stir in the poblanos, corn, zucchini, cilantro, and the crema (or the substitution). Cook, stirring frequently until the zucchini is cooked through and the liquid is thick enough to coat the vegetables. This took me about 10 minutes. Season with salt.

Serve with warmed tortillas and the crumbled queso fresco. Done!

Time-Roughly 40 minutes, some of it unsupervised.

Food Cost-I'm not going to break this one down because I don't have the receipts in front of me but it's around 6 bucks total. Should make enough filling for ~20 tacos. About 30 cents per taco, 3 or 4 per person so $.90-$1.20 per serving

LOLCat This one is kind of a toughie...Click here for an explanation:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Midweek Mayhem

So, the nice thing about having all this Mexican stuff in my fridge is that I can quickly throw together a meal...for an evening snack, some leftover brown rice, a fried egg, some avocado salsa, a few shakes of bottled hot sauce (some homemade stuff is in the works), and some crumbled queso fresco.

Delicious! And incredibly cheap! I've also been doing some recipe research for the rest of the week...Mexican zucchini tacos, some Mexican chicken broth, tortilla soup (with the homemade chicken broth) and something with the shredded chicken from the broth. Enchiladas? I dunno.

Potato-Chorizo Tacos with Simple Avocado Salsa

This is one of the easiest recipes that I've ever blogged. Very few ingredients, easy technique and the only specialized piece of equipment is a food processor. Mexican for noobs. From Mexico One Plate at a Time...which, by the way, is one of my favorite Mexican cookbooks. I'm gonna say it. I "heart" Rick Bayless. Ugh. I've defiled my moral core.


12 Ounces of Yukon Gold or red-skin potatoes cut into 1/2 inch cubes
12 ounces of Mexican chorizo sausage, casing removed (my local Mexican grocer had both pork and beef chorizo...I went with pork...However, in the future, I will be making my own...the first ingredient is "pork salivary glands"...subsequent ingredients were equally unsavory)
1 small white onion, finely chopped...(yes, I usually let shoddy knife-work rule the day but I decided to actually do some fine chopping for this recipe...I just kept repeating to myself "take some pride in your damn work!")
4 ounces of tomatillos (you should be able to find these in any well stocked grocer...they are related to tomatoes, in the nightshade family, but are NOT unripe, green tomatoes...whenever you go to a Mexican restaurant and see the ubiquitous green salsa, tomatillos are involved...they have a bright, citrusy flavor)
1 clove of garlic, peeled
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed
1 large ripe avocado
corn (NOT FLOUR, please God not pasty, flavorless, flour tortillas...actually, I read earlier today that flour tortillas are consumed in Northern Mexico...) tortillas

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the cubed 'taters and simmer until they are tender...took me about 13 minutes. Drain.

Heat a large (12-inch) skillet and add the chorizo and onion. The chorizo will be sorta pasty so you'll have to break it up with the back of a spatula. Stir regularly. I cooked mine for about 10 minutes. You're looking for soft onions and for the sausage to be cooked through. When you've achieved this, look in the pan...if it looks hella greasy, pour out some of the oil. Just leave a light coating.

Add the pre-boiled potatoes and continue to cook. Stir regularly and mash the potatoes into the chorizo/onion mixture. Scrape the bottom of the pan to ensure that nothing burns. Cook for 8-10 minutes. The recipe says that the mixture will look like hash (not that kind, you druggie) and it really does. At this point, you can refrigerate the mixture if you're not immediately eating it or continue on and make the salsa.

The salsa is pathetically easy. Take the tomatillos, and remove the husks. Rinse them and rough chop them. Toss them into the bowl of your food processor. Rough chop the garlic and jalapeno and add to the food processor. Blend it all up.

Add the flesh of the avocado to the food processor and blend. (I should've made a video to show you how to process an avocado but here's a good link). You'll end up with something close to green, light mayonnaise. Season with salt.

Serve the filling in warmed tortillas with some of the avocado salsa on top. Done!

Time- ~35 Minutes from start to finish.
Food cost-
Chorizo- $1.99
Potatoes- $1.00
Tomatillos- $1.00
Avocado- $1.50
Incidentals- $0.50
Total- $6.00...So far, we've had 8 tacos....maybe another 4 left. So, fiddy cents per taco. 4 tacos per person for a decently sized meal.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"Drunken" Pintos with Cilantro and Bacon

Mexican food with no beans? Difficult to imagine. My blog without beans? Difficult to imagine. I love beans. Not only are they cheap and delicious, they will be a staple of my month-long Mexi-centric cooking. This recipe is a variation of the slightly soupy Mexican pot beans but with extra flavoring. This recipe (crudely adapted) is from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitche.


1.25 cups of dry pinto beans (yes, you can use other beans)
6 slices of bacon
1 small white onion, diced
1 jalapaneno, stemmed, seeded and sliced
2 tablespoons of tequila
1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro (or more to taste)

Pick through the beans and remove any stones or sticks. Rinse the beans and remove any which float. Add the beans to a large pot, throw in 4 slices of bacon and add enough water to cover the beans by an inch. Bring to a simmer and cook until the beans are soft. This will take a few hours so be patient. Make sure that the water is a good .5-1 inch above the beans at all times.

When the beans are done, set aside, cooking liquid and all. Throw out the boiled bacon unless that's what you're into.

Chop up the remaining two slices of bacon into bite sized bits and fry up in a hot pan. When brown and crispy, remove the bacon but leave the drippings in the pan. Toss in the onion and sliced jalapeno. Get a nice deep, dark brown on the vegetables. This will take some time. Be patient and don't turn up the heat to accelerate the process. Don't want to burn the onions/jalapeno, ya know.

When the veggies are well browned, add the beans back into the pan and simmer for 20 minutes. The beans shouldn't be soupy but rather thick and stew-like. If the beans are soupy, continue to simmer until the your ideal consistency is achieved. Alternatively, you can just mash up some of the bean with the back of a fork. Season with salt and pepper.

Toss in the tequila and cilantro. Garnish with the reserved crispy bacon. Done!

Time: 2 hours of initial simmering, 25 minutes after that.
Food cost- Pathetically inexpensive. Not worth talking about.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Shredded Beef Tacos with Chipotle-Tomato Sauce

I've been kinda bummed out with cooking...Just couldn't get inspired or excited, ya know? To fix the problem, I spent some quality time with my cookbook collection and found inspiration in the words and pictures of Rick Bayless and Diana Kennedy. For those of you who don't know, Bayless and Kennedy are the world's foremost Caucasian experts on Mexican cuisine. They've done it all, seen it all and, thankfully, have written it all down in a series of excellent cookbooks. In addition, finding quality purveyors of Mexican ingredients is quite easy in San Francisco so Mexican food is pretty easy to recreate. I am going to cook Mexican food until I am sick of it and long to taste the flavors of a different cuisine.

To begin, I decided on a series of tacos. The first is this shredded beef taco. I've taken a general recipe from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen (it's a classic) and modified it to suit my tastes and what was available at the local upscale butcher. The recipe calls for pork shoulder but I found some terrific looking beef chuck so that's what I bought. And oh, this is my ghetto version. If you want to get fancy, you can roast the tomatoes and all that. But I wasn't feeling it and the ghetto version is still really tasty. Lastly, I'm terrible at re-warming corn (wait, you were gonna use flour? don't EVER return to my blog) tortillas...I guess they should be steamed but I don't have the patience. I wrap them in a damp paper towel and microwave them.


1/2 of a white onion, diced
6 cloves of peeled garlic
2 pounds of boneless beef chuck, cubed
3 chipotles in adobo (pretty easy to find...any well-stocked grocery store should have them)
10 ounces of diced, canned tomatoes
1/4 teapoon of freshly ground cloves
Olive Oil

Put 5 cloves of garlic, the meat, and the onion into a pot and cover with well-salted water. Bring to a simmer and skim off the nasty meat foam. You'll probably need to skim 3-4 times. Simmer until the meat is tender...It took me 1.75 hours. Allow the meat to cool (in the broth) and then shred with your fingers. Pour off the broth and set the shredded meat to the side. It's okay of there are a few onion/garlic bits mixed in with the meat.

For the sauce:
Blend the chipotles, the tomatoes, the remaining clove of garlic and the ground cloves. Just get it nice and smooth. Heat up a pan and add a few tablespoons of olive oil. You need to sear the sauce. Get the oil good and hot (add a drop of the tomato/chili sauce to see if it vigorously sizzles) and add the tomato/chili sauce. Here is a video:

After 5 minutes, the sauce will be thicker and darker in color. Don't let it burn. Add salt to taste. This step cooks the sauce and gets rid of the raw flavor.

Set the sauce aside. Heat up another pan and add a few tablespoons of oil. When the pan is hot, add the shredded meat. Allow it to brown a bit and then add in the sauce. Cook for a minute...just enough to let the flavors mingle. Meat is done!

Make tacos...garnishes might include pickled onions, fresh onion, fresh chopped cilantro, queso fresco, lime juice, any number of salsas...really, it's up to you. Have fun with it!

Time- Not much at all...2 hours to simmer meat, 10 minutes to make the sauce, 5 minutes to brown meat.

Food Cost-
Beef- 10 bucks...$5 per pound, two pounds total.
Chipotles- about a third of a can, 2 bucks per can, 66 cents.
Can of tomatoes- $1.25
Incidentals-50 cents.
Total- About 12 bucks. Not sure how many tacos I am going to get out of this one batch of meat.

LOLCat (they bring so much joy to my life...the "bukkit" is sort of a LOLCat insid):

Friday, June 13, 2008


Given that I have basically no social life, I am making a concerted effort towards weekend socializing. Friday night has consisted of watching a movie, drinking liquor and CONSIDERING leaving the apartment. the CONSIDERING part is, for me, a step forwards.

i hope to have a recipe post up by Sunday...I made a huge batch of chickpea stew on Monday and have been (slowly) working my way towards the bottom of the barrel...maybe some sort of stewed pork...pork vindaloo? we'll see. earlier today, i treated myself to a plate of salt and pepper squid. salt and pepper squid is one of those dishes that I HAVE to order when I see it on a menu...something about the tender, supple squid flesh with salt and hot pepper just really gets me going. To know salt and pepper squid is to love salt and pepper squid.

on a completely unrelated note, isn't it interesting that both Italy and France could, potentially, be knocked out of the Euro Cup? I mean, in the "Group of Death" featuring Italy, France, Netherlands, and Romania, what bold prognosticator would've figured that both Italy and France would be eliminated in the group stage? Nostradamus, that's who. It is confusing, to say the least. Just like is also quite confusing.

I'm going to sign off before I embarrass (I remembered the second "r" in "embarrass") myself. laters! Hope your Fridays were more interesting than mine!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Alaskan Food Stuff

So being a food focused blog, I decided to make a specific post for food related things which I experienced in Alaska. The first photoset is just some random food which I ate:

This next photoset is restaurant-y stuff from Alaska:

This final set is an actual recipe! It uses a...wait for it, wait for it...Rachael Ray recipe! I find her TV personality extremely irritating but don't mind her all that much because I think she does encourage and draw people into the kitchen who wouldn't otherwise attempt to cook. Anyhow, my mom is a cherry freak and she wanted cherry cake.


4.5 cups flour (Weight measurements would be nice.)
1.5 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
.5 cup buttermilk
.5 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
two 10-ounce bags frozen cherries, thawed and drained (I see no reason why you can't use other types of frozen fruit.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish. In a bowl, combine 3 cups flour, the brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix in all but 2 tablespoons of butter until large crumbs form; set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, the egg and the buttermilk.

In another bowl, stir together the remaining 1.5 cups of flour, the granulated sugar, baking powder and the remaining .5 teaspoon salt. Add the egg mixture and stir to form a thick, smooth batter. (This is where I ran into trouble. The egg mixture was totally insufficient to produce a smooth batter. I ended with a sticky mess so I kept adding buttermilk until a batter texture formed...I think I ended up quadrupling the initial quantity of buttermilk.)
Fold about a third of the reserved crumb mixture into the batter; spread evenly into the prepared baking dish.

Scatter the cherries over the batter; sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture on top. Bake the cake until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes (Mine took closer to 1.25 hours..the home oven runs cold, I guess. And I used the toothpick to see of the cake was done...stick a toothpick into the cake...if the toothpick comes out clean, it's done.). Transfer to a rack to cool for about 20 minutes before serving.

A very, very solid cake. It was actually really tasty. Maybe a tad bit overly sweet and buttery but it was very well received by my mom and dad.

Time- about 1.5 hours...most of it baking time.
Cost-I dad paid for the ingredients

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I Am Back!

Back from Alaska.

Tour of my bedroom:

Flickr with my Alaska pics:
Click me!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Red Cabbage with Apples and Honey

I want to play the greatest game ever so this is going to be quick and dirty. This recipe is from this cookbook. We had it with roast pork. It would be equally at home with a roast chicken or braised chicken/pork.


4 cardamom pods
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 cup honey
4 cups apple juice
1/3 cup white wine vinegar (both George and I agreed that the dish needed more maybe a little more that 1/3 cup)
4 ounces smoked country bacon, cut into 1-by-1/2 inch strips
2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 head red cabbage, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and diced

Put a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 300F.
2. In a spice grinder or coffee grinder, finely grind the cardamom and coriander seeds. Bring the honey, ground spices, apple juice and vinegar to a boil and reduce by half.
3. In a medium cast-iron pot or Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes more. Add the red cabbage and apples and cook, stirring, until softened about 15 minutes. (Unless you have a really large pot, you might have to add half the cabbage, cook until wilted and then add the other half.) Pour the reduced honey-apple mixture over the cabbage and toss to coat. Cover the pot and transfer it to the oven.
4. Braise for 2 hours, or until the cabbage is very tender. Taste for seasoning...shouldn't need much salt.

Btw, the cold cabbage is delicious on sandwiches. Just take the leftover roasted meat, some good, strong mustard, cabbage and bookend it with hearty bread.

Time-10 minutes of prep, 2.25 hours of cooking time.

Cost-Cheap...I think the most expensive part of this recipe is the apple juice.

No LOLCat for you!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Rabbit Stew

There were some pretty strong reactions when I told my friends that I was going to make rabbit stew. One friend called me a "rabbit murderer." My response? "The rabbit is already dead, I just happened to buy him from the market!" However, I do understand why people get a little bit upset over rabbit. After all, they're cute and cuddly mammals. It's not like a chicken...nasty little peckerhead. However, I don't make a distinction between animal proteins. To me, an animal has died so I can eat. Their sacrifice demands my respect no matter how ugly or cute the beastie might've been. I feel like Hawkeye and Chingachgook from Last of the Mohicans. If you understand this, you get an automatic pass into the Budget College Cook pantheon of fame.

Kind of a funny story how I found myself buying a rabbit. Since I'd recently finished my final year of college, I considered going out to a fancy dinner. However, I didn't exactly have the money but still wanted to celebrate. I settled on buying some sort of protein that I had previously avoided due to its prohibitive cost. The other contestants were duck breasts, Kobe beef and squab but rabbit won. And it certainly wasn't cheap...around $10.50/lb. Having purchased the rabbit, I wasn't really sure what to do with it so I had to do lots of research. Stews seemed pretty easy and most books said that a rabbit is actually pretty easy to cut up...just follow the natural lines of the meat and the rest basically takes care of itself. I've made two videos. WARNING--NOT FOR THE SQUEAMISH. AVOID-AVOID-AVOID IF YOU DON'T LIKE REMEMBERING THAT MEAT COMES FROM ANIMALS!



I hope you found the videos interesting. I know I do so I thought I'd share what I find to be a fascinating subject.

This recipe comes from The River Cottage Meat Book. As I haven't really had the time to fully explore this book, I hesitate to enthusiastically recommend it but what I've read so far has been a call to arms regarding factory raised meat. The author really creates a strong, logical argument for abstention from mass-produced meat while simultaneously building a case for naturally, lovingly raised meat. I've met a few vegetarians who turned veg because of factory farming practices. However, taking a stand against factory farms doesn't necessarily mean that you need to stop eating meat...just stop eating factory farmed and start eating family farmed! At the very least, if you're in a bookstore and see this book, pick it up and read the first 10-15 pages. Remember what Socrates said: "The unexamined life is not worth living."

Oh yah, let me also make a confession...I had assumed that because I bought the rabbit at the fancy, expensive butcher that the bunny had previously led a pampered existence. WRONG! When I got home and did some research, it was a rabbit factory farm. The lesson? Don't be afraid to ask the hard question while at the butcher.

INGREDIENTS (Quantities have been slightly altered)

1 rabbit (mine was around 3 pounds)
4 ounces of bacon (Try to find bacon made from naturally raised pigs...not as difficult as it sounds.)
olive oil
1 large onion, thickly sliced
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1.5 inch lengths
4 celery stalks cut into 1.5 inch lengths
2 bay leaves
a sprig of thyme, if handy (the recipe's wording, not mine)
2 cups of hard cider (the cookbook is English and I have no idea what English hard cider is like...I ended up buying an artisinal French hard cider which was fermented completely dry...I don't recommend this...get something with some leftover residual sugar)
1 teaspoon honey
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan. Gently fry the bacon until it is lightly browned and the fat runs. Transfer the pieces of meat to a flameproof casserole but leave the frying pan on the heat. Brown the rabbit pieces in the bacon fat, in batches, transferring them to the casserole as they are done. Finally, sweat the onion in the same pan but do not allow it to color. Add the carrots, celery, bay leaves and thyme to the casserole. (I kinda avoided this whole casserole business. I cooked the bacon and transferred it to a bowl...browned the rabbit in the bacon fat and transferred the browned pieces to a plate. Sweated the onion in the bacon fat and moved the onions to another bowl. He just wants you to have, from bottom up, bacon, rabbit, onions, carrots, celery, bay leaves and you get there is your own business!)

Push everything around so it is fairly tightly packed, then pour over the cider. Add a little water if necessary to cover the meat. Add the honey and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook at a very low, tremulous simmer for 1.25 hours or until the rabbit is completely tender. You can also cook this in a 250F oven with a lid on the pot. (I used the oven.)

Serve with plenty of the juice ladled over, with mashed potatoes.

Time-30 minutes of prep work, browning. 1.25 hours of cooking.

Rabbit- $33.00
Bacon- $2.00
Cider- $8.50
Veggies- $2.00
Total- $45.50..I'm going to get 6 meals out of the $7.58 per serving...pretty expensive, by my standards.


Monday, May 26, 2008

Split Pea Soup with Smoked Ham Hocks

I love soup and I love pork so this is a no-brainer recipe. It's also ridiculously easy. Chop stuff, shovel it into a pot and let it cook. It's not much more complicated than that. For those of you who don't know what a ham hock is, a hock is the lower part of a pig's hind legs. Think above the foot but below the lower end of the meaty part. So a ham hock is that cut of meat which has also been smoked. It's a pretty tough piece of meat filled with gristle, bone, connective tissue and some meat so you would never want to quick cook ham hocks. They need a nice, long stewing to transform the meat into something palatable. Beans and ham hocks are classic as are ham hocks and greens. In the south, they commonly throw in a smoked ham hock when they're cooking collards and things like that. In that same vein, I also like ham hocks with braised cabbage.

This is my recipe and, as I mentioned before, it's pretty basic. There are lots of ways to jazz it up so get creative!


3 cups of green split peas picked over, rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 stick of unsalted butter
2 carrots peeled and cut into 1/4 inch thick coins
2 onions peeled and cut into a large dice
2 stalks of celery cut into half inch pieces
2 cloves of peeled garlic, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon Cayenne pepper (optional; it doesn't add much heat but a nice roundness of flavor)
12 cups of water
3 pounds of ham hocks (I have the butcher cut them lengthwise)

Heat the oil and butter until the butter melts. Add the carrots, onions, celery and garlic to the pot. Season with a teaspoon of salt and a few generous grinds of pepper. Cook over medium heat until the onions are translucent and soft. Add the drained split peas and cayenne pepper. Stir well and cook for a few minutes. Add the water and ham hocks. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat until the soup is just simmering. Make sure you stir the soup every now and then so the peas don't stick and burn.

After about .45-1 hour of cooking, I usually remove the hocks and place them into a bowl. Leave the peas in the pot to continue cooking. I like the meat to have a bit of texture so I try not to cook it to the point of being completely soft. When cool enough to handle, I peel the skin off the hocks and discard. I then remove the meat and break it up into bite size pieces. Set aside. I usually freeze the leftover ham hock bones because there's still quite a bit of flavor in them.

After around 1.5 hours, the veggies and peas should be completely soft. I turn the heat off and wait for 15 minutes. I then blend the soup with an immersion blender or with a regular blender. Use some care as the soup will still be very warm. Taste the soup for seasoning. Undersalting isn't a bad idea because the ham hocks will add a nice hit of saltiness. When the soup is blended, stir in the ham hock meat and you're done!

Feel free to have fun with the seasoning. Maybe go Indian? I mean, I make Indian lentils all the time and lentils aren't too far from split green peas so I think it would be delicious.

As for garnishes: croutons, freshly minced herbs, olive oil, pumpkin seed oil, tangy yogurt, sauteed carrots, onion or celery, shucked, blanched green peas...ummm, this is right off the top of my head. I'm sure you can think of a few for yourselves!

Time- About 10 minutes of prep, 1.5 hours of cooking...most of it unattended, passive cooking.

Food Cost-
Peas- $1.35
Veggies- $1.50
Ham Hocks- $12.00 (Somewhat expensive, I know...gotta hate the upscale butcher's prices)
Total-$14.85...18 cups of soup. Say, 2 cups per serving? $1.65 per serving