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!