Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Product Review: Budweiser & Clamato

So what's better than one Chelada?

Having one with a friend, lol

But, seriously?  This chelada thing is horrible.  Think strained Campbell's Manhattan-style Clam Chowder mixed with Budweiser.  It's really taking a lot of effort to drink this but drink I will because I don't abuse alcohol.  :P  A solid D-.  DON'T BUY

Sunday, December 27, 2009

X-Mas Eve Dinner

All right, a bunch of random stuff in here.  Christmas Eve was basically Meatfest.  For instance, this is what I had for lunch:

Food courtesy of Memphis Minnie's.  Other than the B+ sausage, the rest of the meal was uniformly awful.  Let's talk about the ribs for a second because this takes real talent.  First of all, the meat still had a deathgrip on the bone which would imply that it was undercooked, right?  However, the majority of the meat was already dry and stringy implying that it was overcooked.  I just don't get it.  Anyhow, several people had told me to avoid this joint but I just had to go see for myself.  BBQ FAIL.

In addition to the BBQ plate, we ate a ton of meat later that night.  I've been pretty obsessed with a cooking technique called "sous vide" which I'll detail in an upcoming post.  This post is dedicated to simply giving you an overview of the technique and my X-Mas Eve dinner.

Sous vide hanger steak.  One of the great things about sous vide is that it gives you a lot more control versus cooking over high heat.  For instance, say you like rare steak.  Normally, you might season it and throw it in a hot pan, right?  But notice...there is a ring of gray, overcooked meat surrounding the rare interior.  Compare this to sous vide cooking.  The temperature for rare steak is between 120 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit.  All you have to do when cooking sous vide is to set your water bath at the desired temperature, drop in your steak and the steak never cooks past the preset temperature.  This technique is used in many high end kitchens but it is also very practical for home cookery.  I've sous vide cooked two hanger steaks and they've both been amazing.  For the X-Mas Eve dinner steak, I flavored it with garlic cloves, thyme and a few bay leaves.  In addition, I also added a ton of butter.  I probably went a bit overboard with the butter but you do need some fat to help carry and disperse the flavors. After you cook it in the bag (I use Ziploc brand bags...I've read that cheap plastic bags use cheap plastic.  Whether or not this is true is beyond my knowledge but I figure it's only marginally more expensive to use brand-name plastic) you need to sear the steak because it comes out sorta gray.  After that, slice and serve.
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In addition to the hanger steak, I cooked a turkey leg sous vide.  I packed the bag with all sorts of aromatics...oregano, orange peel, garlic, ginger, star anise, a few cloves etc.  Very Christmas-y.  Throw in the turkey leg (rubbed with allspice and a bit of salt) and cover with duck fat.  BAM.  Turkey leg confit.  176 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 or so hours.  When cooked, I shredded the meat and folded it into some lentils. 

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Given how heavy the rest of the meal was, I decided that a light salad was necessary.  Lots of citrus in the market this time of year so that made my choice easy.  Mint, olives, a little red onion and romaine hearts finished it off. 

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This just gives you an overview of sous vide.  I'm doing research for an upcoming post which will be more detailed but I hope this whets your appetite for more.  Hardy har har.  :)

Momofuku Ginger Scallion Sauce

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I've made a sauce like this in the past but I decided to make David Chang's version just to check it out.  This recipe is from the Momofuku Cookbook.


2.5 cups thinly sliced scallions
.5 cup finely minced peeled fresh ginger
.25 cup neutral oil (I added more)
1.5 teaspoons light soy sauce (I added more)
.75 teaspoon sherry vinegar (I added more)
Salt to taste

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.  Season with salt to taste.  Give it 15 minutes before you serve or keep it for a couple of days in the fridge. 

I eat this stuff on just about everything.  Hot bowl of rice?  A few dollops, please.  Noodles?  Done.  Straight out of bowl?  Don't mind if I do.  Rub it on my face to maintain my youthful visage?  Guilty as charged. 

Time- Pretty much none.
Food cost-  Cheap as all get out. 

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Scallops with Champagne Sauce

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So I am a liar.  I didn't use champagne in the sauce but a Spanish cava.  Anyhoo, back in this post, I made fish stock which is used in this scallop recipe so this is the completion of the "Budget College Cook cooks something outside of his comfort zone" experiment.  This recipe is from Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook.  Bourdain is sarcastic, funny and a bit of a character so it's an entertaining read.  As for the recipes, well, this is the only one I've ever made so I have no comment other than this dish tasted great!

2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 cup of fish stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
Sea Scallops (Please use dry this for more info)
Clarified butter (I used olive oil)
1/2 cup Champagne (I'm using cava)
juice of 1/2 lemon (I hate instructions like this because lemons are so different...grrr)
4 chives, finely chopped

1. Melt half of the butter in a pan, add the shallots.  Cook over med-low heat until soft but not browned (I screwed up here...there is a bit of browning on my shallots).  Add the fish stock and bring to a boil, reduce heat and reduce by half.  Add the cream, bring back up to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  Strain out the shallots, season with S&P.

2. Pat the scallops dry (if necessary) season with S&P (I only seasoned with salt but added pepper after cooking...I don't like burned pepper).  Heat clarified butter (or olive oil) until it's just under smoking.  Add the scallops, cook on one side for about 3 minutes (resist the urge to move them around or peek!  Moving and peeking will result in a less caramelized crust!).  Flip the scallops over and cook on the second side for 3 minutes (your scallop will now be cooked on the exterior but slightly rare on the interior...adjust cooking time to suit your taste).  Set scallops aside.

3.  Pour off excess grease from scallop pan.  (See that nice brown stuff?  If it's too dark, clean out the pan.  If it's golden brown, GREAT!)  Return the pan to heat and pour in the sparkling beverage.  Scrape the pan to incorporate the brown bits (if they're there).  Reduce the wine until it's syrupy.  Add back the strained cream sauce.  Bring to boil and throw in that last tablespoon of butter.  Add lemon juice to taste.  Stir in chives.  Arrange scallops and sauce on a plate.  DONE!

Time- I'm not going to include the time I spent making the fish stock.  Probably about 30 minutes total here.

Food Cost-ugh.  So expensive, probably not for the college crowd although it makes an easy and impressive main course for a Valentine's Day Dinner?
Scallops- The 8 scallops I purchased cost $16.50.  Wowzers
Wine- $11.99 for the bottle (very tasty wine, would buy again.)  About two bucks worth in this dish.
Cream- $0.50
Fish stock- $2.00
Incidentals- $1.50
Total- $23.50.  I got two servings (4 scallops per person) so $11.75 per person.  Jeeeeeebus.

Last Meal: The Ulterior Epicure

(I am asking other bloggers for their perfect "last meal."  See this post for additional details.)

Today's participant is The Ulterior Epicure, author of the eponymously named blog.  His blog is about his restaurant exploits.  However, unlike the multitude of other restaurant blogs with pretty pictures, UE is actually a good writer so stop by and read what he has to say!

1. Who would you dine with?  I don't like crowds. I prefer intimate affairs. So I'll assume I've already said the proper good-byes to everyone I've needed to. None of my family members would be in their right frame of mind, so they'd be a killjoy. I think I'd limit my last meal to no more than a party of 10 - all of my closest food-loving friends - around a big round table with no centerpieces, maybe some candles. Don't make me name you, you know who you are. If you have any doubt, you're probably not on the list.

2. Where would you dine?  I'm assuming that you're giving me carte blanche, sky's the limit? I've been blessed with many travels. I've seen and visited many places that are beyond words. But few things take my breath away like New York City's skyline. It beams with excitement, potential, hope, and magic - everything that I enjoy about life and living. I'd want my last dinner on a rooftop terrace overlooking Central Park and the city.

3. What would you eat? This is trouble. I'd like to be more thoughtful about it, but I can't. I love too many foods and am too equal opportunity about it to exclude anything I like. If you've read the book "My Last Supper" by Melanie Dunea, I'm going to ape Jacques Pepin and assemble the impossible feast, with the things that bring the biggest smile to my face. Some would be reminders of childhood; others of comforts on a bad day; and still others would massage my bourgeois tastes. Clearly, this meal would have to last all day (milking every minute of my precious life). Even if fate were mistaken, I would eat myself into oblivion anyway. I could be somewhat pretentious and lazy and rattle off specific restaurant dishes, but I'll refrain. Instead, I'll just assume that all of these foods will be prepared by experts.

Pâtés en croûte.
Fat oysters on the half shell.
Caviar, crème fraîche, red onions, blini.
Scallops, raw and served with melted seaweed butter.
Conch salad, with hot peppers, lime, tomatoes, red onions, and salt.
Steak tartare with a raw egg.
German potato salad (heavy on the diced cornichons).
Bread (extra crusty, elbows and knees only) and butter (good farmhouse, raw dairy).
Foie gras au torchon.
Deviled lambs kidneys on toast.
Grilled cheese sandwich and a shot of tomato soup.
Matzo ball soup.
Salad with candied nuts, blue cheese, and roasted beets.
Gravlax with sweet mustard and rye crackers.
Sea urchin roe on warm, short-grain rice.
Negitoro maki.
Hot borscht.
Ox tongue with sweet, grainy mustard.
Falafel, lettuce, cucumber, tomato, and lots of tzatziki rolled up in warm pita.
Pasta with butter, cheese, and white truffles.
Pizza Margherita, Neapolitana-style.
Carolina pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw.
Ramen noodles with pork broth.
Omelette aux herbes fines with crème fraîche and caviar.
Vegetables of all shapes and sizes gently cooked and simply tossed with buerre fine.
Glutinous rice, chicken and pork fat and shiitake mushrooms steamed in a tea leaf.
Steamed pork riblets coated with cracked glutinous rice.
Roast beef sandwich (extra bloody) with melted Brie cheese.
Boudin noir.
Dry-aged beef burger with tomato, lettuce, red onions, and blue cheese, on a whole-grain bun.
Lobster with sauce gribiche.
Soufflé de poisson.
Wild mushrooms sautéed in butter.
Oyster mushrooms drizzled with olive oil, smashed on the plancha, and dusted with sea salt.
Clam chowder with oyster crackers.
Crabs rubbed with salted egg yolk and wok stir-fried.
Scallops, pan-seared and served with a caviar cream sauce.
Oyster pan fry.
Roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon.
Xiao long bao.
Tandoori chicken.
Naan roti.
Lamb rogan josh.
Char sui bao (extra fluffy, please).
Fish and chips with malt vinegar and sea salt.
Sole à la Hollandaise.
Choucroute garnie.
Stuffed pig trotters, braised.
Chinese hand-pulled noodles and beef broth.
Tacos al pastor.
Tafelspitz, boiled potatoes, carrots, and turnips, with a heap of freshly shaved horseradish.
Dol sot bi bim bop (raw egg, please).
Tarte flambée.
Popcorn (sea salt and just a touch of butter).
Tripe alla Romagna (grilled bread on the side).
Gong bao fried dofu.
Ris de vea, roasted and pan-fried.
Poulet en vessie, vin jaune cream sauce and rice.
Lièvre à la royale.
Pommes Anna with freshly shaved black truffles.
Chinese salted fish with a bowl of short-grain rice.
Palak paneer.
Filet de boeuf Chasseur (medium-rare, please).
Frites, a whole haystack of them - thin and extra crispy.
Cheese. Every cheese you could possible muster with lots of thinly-shaved and toasted bread.
Macarons (every flavor imaginable).
Sweet, fermented rice porridge.
Apple pie with vanilla ice cream.
Cherry pie with dark chocolate ice cream.
Peach pie with almond ice cream.
Blueberry pie with sour cream ice cream.
Poppy seed strudels.
Prune & Armagnac ice cream served with warm prunes macerated in Armagnac.
Strong coffee ice cream affogato (best quality, dark espresso, double shot).
Banana split with strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate ice creams, pineapple, chopped peanuts, hot chocolate sauce, and maraschino cherries (hold the whipped cream).
Baba au rhum, extra boozy (hold the whipped cream).
Fruit macerated in Grand Marnier and vanilla beans.
Cannelés Bordelais (they had better be crunchy, or I'm sending them back, yes, I will be a pill about this).

UE's disclaimer: These are three age-old questions that I have never sat down to really think through. Even now, I'm sure my three answers aren't quite right. Ask me a few years down the line, and I'm sue they'll all be different.

UE, Thanks!

To see all of the posts in this series, click here.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fish Fumet

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Don't let the fancy French fool you, fumet is just fish stock.  Classical French fish fumet is a far cry from my usual fare so what gives?  The fact of the matter is that I was sorta bored a few weeks back and decided to stretch myself as a cook.  How, exactly?  By executing a recipe totally outside of my comfort zone!  I picked a scallop recipe (I'll post it soon) which called for fish stock and, instead of buying the fish stock, made my own.  If you're at all uncomfortable around blood and/or fish carcasses, this is not a recipe for you.  I am using Thomas Keller's recipe from the Bouchon cookbook because TK is THE MAN.  I really like that he gives weight measurements for the recipe.  Volume measurements kinda suck.

In the recipe's preface, Keller points out three details which affect the final product:
  1. Fish bones-Keller specifies that the fish bones should be free from veins.  Also, an overnight soak in cold water is essential.
  2. Be sure to cook out the wine's alcohol.
  3. After the stock has simmered, let it sit for an hour so the solids settle to the bottom.  Use a ladle to scoop the stock instead of pouring it. 
 ~5 lbs of bones from halibut, bass, sole, flounder and/or other flatfish, tails, heads, any skin, and fins removed

 1 tablespoon of canola oil
4 ounces sliced (1/8 inch thick) leeks and/or leek tops
4 ounces sliced (1/8 inch thick) fennel
3 ounces sliced (1/8 inch thick) shallots
2 ounces sliced (1/8 inch thick) button mushrooms
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1/4 ounces thyme sprigs
1/4 ounce Italian parsley, leaves and tender stems only
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup dry white wine, such as sauvignon blanc

1.  Cut fish bones into 3 to 4 inch pieces.  Rinse the bones under cold water and place into a pot.  (I made sure to slice open whatever veins I found and rinsed them out with water.)  Cover with ice water and soak the bones overnight.  (I didn't have much ice so I substituted an ice pack in a Ziploc bag.)  Change the water several times to remove any blood (yes, I actually did wake up in the middle of the night to change the water) until the water remains clear.

2. Heat the oil in a large stock pot.  Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the wine, to the pot.  Cook gently for 2 or 3 minutes.  Add the wine and reduce the heat to medium high.

3.  Drain the fish bones and place them over the vegetables.  Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot, and steam the bones until they are opaque.  Add 2.5 quarts of water (or enough to cover the bones) and slowly bring to a simmer.  Skim any flotsam.  Simmer for 30 minutes.

4.  Turn off the heat.  Allow the stock to sit for an hour.  Ladle the stock through a cheesecloth lined sieve or a chinois.

5.  Freeze or keep in your fridge for a few days.  I got 7.5 cups out of this recipe and I froze mine in 1 cup baggies.

Time- A long time but most of it is inactive.  There's probably only about 30 minutes of active work here.

Food cost-
Bones- One place gave me two pounds of bones for free.  The rest I purchased for $0.99/lb.  $3.00 total
Wine-  I purchased a $9.00 half bottle (375 mL) of wine.  After the math, about 6 bucks of it went into this recipe.  You could should get a cheaper wine.
Incidentals- 5 bucks or so.
Total- $14.00.  Not exactly cost effective but you know what?  The sauce for the scallop dish was tres bien so I'm not complaining.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Last Meal: Viet World Kitchen

(I am asking other bloggers for their perfect "last meal."  See this post for additional details.)

Today's participant is Andrea, author of Viet World Kitchen.  Her blog is about Vietnamese food traditions.  I love Vietnamese food and have frequented this blog for a while now.  A few people have asked me about fish sauce so here's Andrea's post to get you started.  Go check it out!

1. Who would you dine with? As you posted on 12/5, it's hard -- who do you like to spend time with over food? I'd have to say my husband, parents, and friends Michelle and Alec. We all like food and are talkers. To dine well, you have to love to engage in conversation.

2. Where would you dine? At home. I love home cooking and you can do things up as elegant or casual as you like. I love to cook, but I'd have someone clean up after us. It is my last meal, no? Can't I be a little diva?

3. What would you eat? Vietnamese food. Lots of deep fried stuff like cha gio rolls and pair such rich foods with French champagne. A small bowl of pho and then rice with fish simmered in caramel sauce and a stir-fried vegetable. I'd be happy with that. Thinking about this makes me hungry and thirsty!

Andrea, thanks!

To see all of the posts in this series, click here.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Garlicky Noodles with Maggi and Butter

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I really, really, REALLY want you to make this recipe.  Despite it's ease and simplicity, it's wondrously delicious.  The recipe is from Into the Vietnamese Kitchen by Andrea Nguyen.  I've blogged a recipe from this book in the past and have made several others which haven't made it onto the blog.  All of the recipes have been great.  I highly recommend this book.  If you want to learn more about Ms. Nguyen, check out her blog!  She even has a second recipe for this noodle dish and goes into the dish's history


1/2 pound fettuccine, preferably fresh (Chinese egg noodles would be great here)
2.5 tablespoons Maggi (When I went shopping for it, I found Maggi and European Maggi...the cookbook recommends the non-European Maggi...the Asian one has a red and yellow label and the European one has a blue (I think) label)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced (or, if you're a garlic fiend, use more!)

1. Lightly salt a pot of water and bring it to a boil.  Add the noodles and cook until al dent.  (If you haven't ever cooked fresh noodles, they cook much more quickly than dry noodles...3-4 minutes and they're done.)  While the noodles are cooking, add the Maggi into a bowl large enough to hold the cooked noodles.

2. Drain the pasta but do not rinse with water.  Drop the hot noodles into the prepared bowl with the Maggi.  Toss the noodles until they've absorbed all of the seasoning.

3. In a large wok or skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.  When it is foamy, add the minced garlic and saute until the garlic is slightly golden.  Add the cooked, Maggi'ed noodles and toss in the butter and garlic.  They'll want to clump up so use some tongs and break them up.

4.  Turn up the heat.  Leave the noodles alone for a bit until the bottom layer browns.  Toss the noodles around and allow the new bottom layer to again brown.  Repeat the process a few more times.  The noodles aren't supposed to be crisp so don't go too far!


Time-- Very little.  15 minutes.

Food Cost: Noodles--$1.00
Total--$1.75...recipe says serves 4 as a side dish...or one hungry Budget College Cook for lunch.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Last Meal: EatingAsia

(I am asking other bloggers for their perfect "last meal."  See this post for additional details.)

Today's participant is Robyn, author of EatingAsia, a blog about "Asian food and the people who produce and cook it."  Go check it out!

1. Who would you dine with?  Nice of you to start with an easy question. Without a doubt I'd share my last meal with Dave Hagerman, my husband, collaborator, and partner in life and all things food. We generally share likes and dislikes (though, come to think of it, there's not much we don't like) so he'll be easy to feed -- he's having whatever I'm having.

2. Where would you dine?  The answer to this question changes daily, depending where I've traveled recently, what I'm writing about, what I cooked the night before, what I ate yesterday for lunch or this morning for breakfast ....

I just finished a piece on old Chinese restos in KL and so I've got old-fashioned Chinese classics on the brain at the moment. The best place for those sorts of dishes is Sek Yuen, a 60+-year-old restaurant in Kuala Lumpur with a kitchen that is still fired entirely by wood. There's no written menu but we first visited Sek Yuen 3.5 years ago and have been nearly weekly customers ever since, so we've worked our way through a good number of dishes. While we're waiting to get our order Dave's usually in the kitchen with his camera. The staff is not overtly welcoming at first, but they've become used to us and now greet us really warmly. It's a nice feeling. The food's great, but we also always leave with a good feeling that has nothing to do with what we ate.

3. What would you eat?  That's difficult -- everything there is really, truly delicious! But if I must choose -- I'd call ahead and order the babao ('8 treasure') duck, which is boned, stuffed with chopped meat, gingko nuts, lotus seeds, black mushrooms, cilantro etc., steamed for a bunch of hours and served with a fantastic gravy. It literally falls apart with a nudge, and it's so good that Dave and I almost finished a whole duck between us on one occasion (with other dishes!)

I'd also order the sweet and sour fish -- which is a whole fish with a hardly-there batter, very piquant (and no pineapple!) ,nothing at all like the dreadful versions you might find in the States. Definately something porky, bec. Sek Yuen excels at preparing the other white meat -- maybe chunks of pork seasoned with five-spice and deep-fried, or thick slices of pork belly layered with yam and steamed. A stir-fried green vegetable, bec. the kitchen does it perfectly: slightly singed in spots, crisp-tender, with lots of finely minced garlic and loads of wok hei. And yam puffs ... which are round dumplings made from mashed taro, stuffed with cubes of char siew (more pork! Chinese barbecued this time) and -- I love this -- mixed carrots, peas, and corn, the type that comes frozen. The balls are dipped in some sort of batter and arrive at the table too hot too pick up and encased in this incredibly light, lacy 'net' that dissolves on the tongue.

I would accompany all of this with a really nice bottle of red wine, a Gigondas or a Cote de Rhone heavy on the tobacco and leather.

Sek Yuen doesn't do dessert so I'd bring my own -- a pint of Haagan Daz dulce de leche to eat with steamed chocolate cake, which is pretty popular here in Malaysia. It's very moist, frosting-free, and has a not-overpowering cacao-ness that would go fantastically with the ice cream!

Thanks for participating, Robyn!

To see all of the posts in this series, click here.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Have Fun with Cooking!

Longtime readers know that I mostly blog things from cookbooks but I often improvise with what I have on hand.  Here was a recent experiment.

I saw a fig tree a block away from where I lived.  I know that wrapping things in fig leaves is a popular way to cook fish so I figured, hey, why not?  I asked the tree's owner if I could grab some leaves and he told me to grab as many as I liked.

Now, fish wrapped in fig leaves.  Hmm.  I went to the local fishmonger and looked over options.  I settled on the ling cod because it was relatively affordable and because I've enjoyed it in the past at Commis.

I walked home and thought to myself, hmmm, what do I do with this piece of fish.   

I looked in my fridge and spied leftover harissa.  A ha!  I'll rub the fish with harissa!  I also had some leftover coconut milk so I decided to mix some harissa and coconut milk for spice paste.  Seem weird?  Not really.  In Cambodian cuisine, there is a dish called amok trey.  It's basically a fragrant curry paste mixed with coconut milk which is rubbed on fish.  The fish is then wrapped in banana leaves and the banana leaf packages are then steamed.  I figured chili paste (harissa) and coconut milk is similar enough to the Cambodian original so no biggie deals.  Done.

From here, it was easy.  I put some thinly sliced red onion underneath the fish and some very thinly sliced Meyer lemon slices on top of it.  Wrap fish in fig leaves and bake (initially, I figured 375 degrees for 15 minutes would be sufficient but that seemed a little underdone so I threw it back in for another 5 minutes.  At that point, the fish was a little over done.  Ooops.).  I served it with leftover hummus and some oil cured black olives.


Anyhow, things here at the Budget College Cook aren't always perfect...witness my undercooked and then overcooked fish but who cares?  The end result was still totally delicious.  I've always thought that cooking should be fun.  Sure, mistakes will be made but it's just food.  The Food Network mentality of perfect food everytime is poisoning our minds.  It's an unrealistic expectation which keeps Average Joes out of the kitchen.  Real people (and even professional chefs) screw things up but, most of the time, even the mistakes are edible.  Just smile, move on, and please don't let failure prevent you from trying again.  It sure hasn't stopped me over these past few years.  :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009


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Harissa is a North African sauce/condiment/seasoning most commonly associated with Moroccan food.  I looked through my cookbooks, found 3 recipes and they're all fairly different.  Sure, they all seem to use dried red peppers, coriander seed, oil and garlic but, after that, it's wide open.  Caraway, bell peppers, mint, cumin, lemon, it's pretty wild. 

This is Marcus Samuelsson's recipe from The Soul of a New Cuisine.  I've discussed the book in the past.  If you want to read those posts, click here.   

3/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground caraway
1 cup mild chili powder (I was skeptical about using chili powder but it makes a lot of sense if you think about it...chili powder already has ground cumin, onion powder, garlic etc in it...saves you a step, imo)
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chopped mint

1.  Heat oil in a small pan.  When oil shimmers, add garlic and saute until golden.  (This step takes a few minutes so be patient.)

2.  Turn off heat.  Add the rest of the ingredients.  Let cool.  Store in refrigerator for  up to 2 weeks.

So whaddya do with this stuff?  So far, I've used it as a rub for lamb and for fish.  I also introduced some hummus into my standard hummus recipe.  I'm going to spend the majority of the next two weeks cooking Moroccan/North African food so we'll see where else I go with this stuff. 

Time- 5 minutes, if even that much.

Food Cost- More than I would've liked. 
Chili Powder- $3.79
Caraway Seeds- ~$0.20
Incidentals- About a buck? 
Total- $5.00.  Servings--unknown.  Alot.  You'll probably have more than you can use.  I probably should've made a half recipe.  Next time.  :)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Last Meal: kevinEats

(I am asking other bloggers for their perfect "last meal."  See this post for additional details.)

Today's participant is kevinEats, author of the popular foodie blog kevinEats

1. Who would you dine with?  Three of my friends: Eric, Minh, Ryan. They were who I dined with when I first started getting interested in gastronomy. Without their support, I doubt that my passion for food would've developed as it did.

2. Where would the meal take place?  Urasawa, arguably my favorite restaurant. Imagine a 35-course extravaganza of Japanese delights, an intimate, personal experience that transcends a mere meal, exposing you to the very heart and soul of the chef, Hiro-san. A meal takes five hours, but if it's my last, I'd take my sweet time!

3. What would you eat?  I'd have to leave it up to Hiro-san, though I'd probably request extra servings of toro, wagyu, and matsutake (if it's in season). To wash it all down, we'd have the finest sakes and Champagnes, of course.

Thanks for participating, Kevin!  All the best in your future restaurant exploits!

To see all of the posts in this series, go to the label cloud on the right and click on "Last Meal."

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


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Have you ever owned a cookbook which you compulsively reached for?  A book which took your taste imagination on a never ending journey?  For me, The Soul of a New Cuisine by Marcus Samuelsson, is that book although it is far from perfect.  (For those who don't know, this book focuses on African food and the New World countries populated by ex-Africans during the slave trade.)  The writing kinda sucks, the pictures don't always match the recipes and the scope of the book is too broad to serve as a reference book but man, these recipes.  I love 'em so let me tell you why:
  1. Chile peppers are frequently used in African cuisine and if you've read this blog for any amount of time, you already know that I love spicy food.
  2. Liberally spiced recipes.  Much like Indian food, African food seems to be built on layers of spices.  This philosophy appeals to me
  3. Lots of condiments and sauces.  I like dipping food into sauces...think Indian food and chutneys and you get the gist of it.  African food seems to share this idea of little taste enhancers.  In addition, the book contains recipes for interesting spice blends. 
The book also intrigues because of Samuelsson's heritage.  As I explained back in this post, Samuelsson was raised in Scandinavia but of Ethiopian heritage so his book represents an effort to get in touch with his roots.  It's obviously extremely personal to Chef Samuelsson although it's a shame that so little of his passion comes through in the writing.  Finally, it seems like only two African cuisines have made it to the United States: Ethiopian and Moroccan.  It's nice to see some material on what the rest of the continent eats and, given my experience, they eat well so let's get to this recipe.

First, a note on callaloo.  There is no definitive recipe for callaloo.  Much like other beloved ethnic foods, there are as many recipes for callaloo as there are cooks.  However, 15 minutes of Googling research have turned up a few commonalities.
  1. Dasheen aka taro leaves and onions.  I didn't feel like trekking to Chinatown to get taro leaves so I used a mix of mustard greens, kale and collard greens.  The cookbook recommends spinach.
  2. Some sort of pork product.
  3. Okra
  4. Chili peppers.
This version focuses on the Trinidadian version.  Callaloo is sometimes eaten as a soup but is just as often used as a thick condiment.  Either way, it's crazy delicious and very, very easy to make.  Please please please please please please give this a try.


2 tablespoons oil
1 medium Spanish onion, chopped
2 minced garlic cloves
2 bird's-eye chiles, seeds and ribs removed, finely chopped (I couldn't find these chiles in my 'hood so I substituted 2 whole, chopped serrano chiles...very mild heat, I will probably add a third serrano next time)
1.5 teaspoons ground cumin
1.5 teaspoons coriander seeds (I will grind the coriander seed next time...the blender didn't do a good enough job pulverizing the seeds)
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup bottled clam juice (I see you raising your eyebrows...I was equally skeptical but just roll with it...think of the clam juice as a substitute for crab meat which is a common addition to callaloo...I found clam juice at my local grocery store)
1 cup heavy cream (You could probably add another cup of coconut milk if you are lactose intolerant)
Two 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach (I used 1 16 oz. bag of mixed, chopped collards, mustard greens and kale from Trader Joe's...definitely one of the best things they sell)
Juice of 3 limes

1. Heat oil in a large pot.  When shimmering, add the onion, garlic and chiles and saute until the onion is soft and translucent.

2. Add the cumin, coriander, chicken stock, coconut milk, clam juice and heavy cream and bring to a simmer.  Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

3. Add the spinach and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until spinach is cooked.  (If using the bag of Trader Joe's greens, or if you are using other hearty leafy green, I recommend simmering the cumin, coriander, chicken stock etc. for 15 minutes, throw in the greens and simmer until the greens are mostly took me roughly 45 minutes)

4. Transfer the soup to a blender, in batches if necessary (definitely necessary), and puree.  (Please exercise caution when blending hot ingredients.)  Transfer to a bowl and stir in the lime juice.  Serve hot. 

(Next time, I will add even MORE greens.  I was dubious that this amount of liquid would support such a large quantity of veggies but I was dead wrong.  In addition, more greens equals a more vibrant color.  Hmmm, I can't think of a reason why you couldn't use broccoli in this recipe in place of the greens.  Both are from the brassica family, right?  Hmmm, the wheels in my mind are spinning...)

Time: An hour, almost all of it inactive cooking time.

Food cost:
Clam juice- $3.15
Chicken broth-~$2.50
Greens- $2.29
Cream- $1.99
Coconut milk- $1.39
Incidentals- Maybe $1.00?
Total- $12.32.  If you serve this as soup you'll probably get 4 large bowls so ~$3.00 per bowl.  I've been using it as sauce over hot rice...probably 6 servings...~$2.00 per bowl.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Hold On, Little Dude

Look what I found on today's exploratory walk of Oakland:

I know nothing about botany but is that the last strawberry of the year?  Only 4 more months of cold weather!  Hold on, spring is right around the corner...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Last Meal: Mine

Just now, I got the idea to start a series of posts on last meals. That is, if you could control who, what and where you ate your final bite, what would you choose? Somewhat creepy, I know, but I think it's interesting because it cuts to the core of who you are. Here's what I'm all about:

Who: Very tough. A huge part of me wants to include my parents but this is my last meal. I want it to be fun and my parents just aren't all that cool. Ideally, I'd have a penultimate meal with mom and dad and then a bash with my friends. So, final meal, my brothers and close friends. You know who you are.

What: My mom's fried chicken by the bucketful. This was what I always requested for my birthday celebrations. It's magically good...chicken marinated overnight in garlic salt, sesame oil, crushed ginger, crushed scallions, white fragrant and delicious. Coat in some seasoned flour and fry until golden brown. There would also be white rice (I LOVE to make sushi rolls with fried chicken skin and rice) and simple stir-fried Chinese greens. Lots of beer and gin & tonics.

Where: The beach. I love the waves. Very soothing.

There it is. I'm a humble man.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Guest Post: Scallop Sauce with Olive Oil, Garlic and Hot Pepper

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I just put on a t-shirt. Not only did I put it on inside-out but I also managed to put it on backwards. Maybe I'm not in the best state of mind to write a blog post?

Whatever. This is another of my brother's pastas from my recent trip to St. Louis. For the past 2 years, he's been raving about how great it is and how I really need to make it. He even took pictures of the recipe and e-mailed it to me. However, my near constant obsession with Asian food got in the way and I never got around to it. James decided to chef it up for me so here we go. This recipe is taken from the previously recommended Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan.

P.S. I keep hot sauce on my desk the way most people keep pens and pencils. Just thought I'd share.


1 lb fresh bay or deep sea scallops (my brother swears by the bay scallops, says they're much better than the sea scallops for this recipe)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon garlic chopped very fine
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Red chili flake to taste
1 lb pasta (cookbook recommends spaghettini or spaghetti)
1/2 cup dry, unflavored bread crumbs, lightly toasted in oven or in a skillet

1. Rinse scallops and pat dry. If using bay scallops, leave as is. If using sea scallops, cut into 3/8 inch thick slices.

2. Put olive oil and garlic in a large pan, turn heat to medium and cook until garlic is colored a light gold. Add parsley and hot pepper, stir and toss in scallops and salt to taste. Turn heat to high and cook until scallops turn white. Taste and add additional salt or red pepper if needed. The cookbook points out that if the scallops shed a lot of liquid, remove them from the pan and boil down the water juices and then add the scallops back into the pan.

3. Toss the scallop sauce with the cooked pasta, add bread crumbs, toss again and eat!

Thanks, James! Really tasty and much, much better than the shaking beef stew. :)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Coi & Commis

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Coi Photoset. Meals are arranged in order of courses served. M1 is from the first meal, M2 from the second etc.

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Commis Photoset. Meals are arranged in order of courses served. M1 is from the first meal, M2 from the second etc. M3 is a special tasting menu I arranged with Chef Syhabout.

In this piece of required reading (note that the author is one of this post's featured chefs), Chef Judy Rodgers says, "All I care about is making delicious food. When there's plenty of delicious food in the world, then I'll start worrying about creativity." This is stupid because isn't it entirely possible for food to be both creative and delicious? While Chef Rodgers may lack the ambition to create tasty, creative food, chefs James Syhabout and Daniel Patterson do not.

You see, it all started with Alice Waters (whom I am told is a lovely woman. Please don't send your hippie assassins after me!) Back in the 70s, she had a revolutionary idea: Let's get some of the wonderful produce available in the Bay Area and cook it simply and beautifully. I believe it was a direct reaction to the heavy French food which was served in that era's fine dining restaurants. Put another way, it's similar to Mozart's reactionary light, clean writing to Bach's heavy, stodgy German compositions. However, Bay Area restaurants (and Bay Area tastes) haven't developed and many of the most highly rated eateries in this area still faithfully follow Ms. Waters' original conceit.  Commis and Coi are different because they bring a different perspective to Bay Area dining.

Now, I've got nothing against excellent ingredients. In fact, I believe quality produce is the first step towards quality food but it's not the last. Because great restaurants have access to great produce, it's what you do with those ingredients which makes me stand up and take notice. Furthermore, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with technique if done with intelligence and sensitivity. Take a carrot dish from Coi (pronounced "Kwah"), a Michelin ** restaurant helmed by Chef Daniel Patterson. In it, carrot coulis and carrot shavings sandwich burnt rice porridge, cocoa nibs and micro cilantro, the carrots providing sweetness and lubrication for the rest of the dish. This tiny, 3 bite dish really encapsulates Chef Patterson's mindset of local, seasonal food with a bit of manipulation, more of which can be read here.

Coi needs a bit of explanation. The restaurant is divided into two halves. On one side, the fine-dining dining room where you are fed a set menu. On the other side, a casual lounge where you can order the entire fine dining menu, individual courses from the fine dining menu or items off of the separate lounge menu. I am a lounge devotee because I love the flexibility. When I eat there, I typically look through the tasting menu and target one or two dishes. After that, I look at the lounge menu. Patterson always has a terrific Soul Foods Farm chicken dish...I know, it's just chicken but the quality of the bird and its seasonal accompaniments are FANTASTIC. However, I wish he'd put some seafood on his lounge menu...I bet he could work wonders with some local squid or sardines. If you're squeamish about wine, the service staff will be more than happy to pour you something that they think will go well with the food. I've yet to be disappointed with my dining strategy.

While Daniel Patterson is very vocal about his views, it's hard to get anything out of James Syhabout, head chef at the newly Michelin starred restaurant Commis. Chef Syhabout might be the quietest, most humble cook I've ever met. I almost always sit at the chef's counter and I rarely hear him say a word. However, his food speaks volumes. He adheres to the same principles of local, seasonal food which is de rigeur in the Bay Area but his plates are more intricate than what you might find at other places. While Patterson's fare leans towards acid and a cleaner flavor profile, Syhabout's food seems more lush and luxurious. His liberal use of butter adds a rich dimension to his food which Patterson's lacks. However, this richness is also the source of my one criticism. I find that his food, specifically the big meat dishes, can be a little TOO big. That is, they start to bore me halfway through. I start to crave an acidic/bitter counterpoint because all that richness becomes monotonous. I am specifically thinking back to my last meal and a dish of guinea fowl, confit leg, bread crumbs and escarole. The roulade of fowl was great but to add a large serving of confit leg? Meat overload. More bitterness or acid, please.

However, I am always excited to go to Commis because Syhabout has the ability to come up with smart yet unexpected flavor combinations which make you wonder "Why didn't I think of that?!?!?" In short, go early (meal pacing gets a bit long if you go during rush hour), sit at the chef's counter and watch one of the Bay Area's best chefs do his thing.

Anyhow, I'm not really a food writer so kudos to you if you made it through my rambling paragraphs. The next time you find yourself thinking about dining out, do yourself a favor and consider one of these two restaurants. If you're as sick as I am of generic Cal-Mediterranean restaurants, it's up to you to vote with your pocketbook. And, in the case of Coi and Commis, your mouth will thank you. Happy eating!

373 Broadway
San Francisco, CA 94133
Phone: 415-393-9000

3859 Piedmont Ave.
Oakland, CA 94611
Phone: 510-653-3902

Guest Post: Bucatini all'Amatriciana

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Loyal readers might remember these two posts: #1 & #2 and my little brother is back for another round of pasta posts! I'm not much of an Italianophile but his pasta is pretty much the best I've ever had. That's right, I went there.

My brother's Italian food bible is the excellent and widely available Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan.


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion chopped fine
A 1/4 inch thick slice of pancetta, cut into strips 1/2 inch wide and 1 inch long (Pancetta is salt and spice cured like American bacon but isn't smoked. James also doubled the amount of pancetta and cut it into simple chunks)
1.5 cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, drained and cut up
Dried red chili pepper flakes to taste
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons freshly grated romano cheese
1 pound pasta (James used bucatini pasta. So fun to eat! It's kinda like spaghetti but hollow on the inside.)

1. Put oil, butter and onion in a sauce pan and heat over medium flame. Saute the onion until it is a pale gold then add pancetta. Cook for a minute. Add the tomatoes, chili flake and salt. Gently simmer for 25 minutes. Taste for seasoning.

2. Toss the cooked pasta with the sauce. Add cheeses, toss thoroughly and eat!

So easy and so good. Please try!

Friday, November 27, 2009

St. Louis Eats

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I just returned from a trip to St. Louis. It's not exactly a gastronomic capital but my brother and I decided to focus on two things: BBQ and fried chicken. We succeeded on both fronts.

1. Let's start with the BBQ. Pappy's is, without question, the best BBQ I have ever had. I'm no expert when it comes to BBQ'd pig but I can not imagine BBQ'd ribs which taste better than this. These Memphis style ribs (dry rub only, no sauce) have a great texture. They're toothsome enough to resist but still tender so that you can cleanly rip the meat from the bone. Sauce is served on the side if you are into that sort of thing. In addition to the ribs, I ate some brisket (not a huge fan), BBQ'd chicken (dark meat, really moist and tasty) and the best BBQ'd sausage of my life. I LOVE THIS PLACE. I think the coleslaw is a must. It's not the mayonnaise-y stuff you find at most joints but is just a simple cabbage, celery seed, vinegar and sugar concoction which works beautifully as a palate cleanser. My brother, a semi-regular, says that it's essential to go during busy hours as Pappy's times its meats to coincide with the lunch and dinner crowd. If you are at all interested in BBQ and find yourself in St. Louis, you owe it to yourself to check this joint out. AWESOMELY GOOD.

Fried chicken, oh how I love thee. I am a fried chicken fanatic. It is my favorite food and has been for quite some time. In fact, my mother would always ask us what we wanted for our birthday dinners and the answer was always "Fried Chicken!!!!!" This river runs deep so it was with great excitement that James and I embarked on our hunt for poultry perfection.

2. Newstead Tower Public House- This establishment bills itself as a restaurant which "specializes in high-quality food a step above the more basic 'pub grub.'" I guess their claim to fame is that they were voted "Best Hamburger in St. Louis" back in 2008. At any rate, we went on a drizzly Sunday night to experience their hamburger but were side-tracked by the Sunday night fried chicken special. It cost around 28 bucks for the entire fried bird and came with roasted potatoes and a well-dressed side salad. Sundays are also 1/2 off canned beer night but we're not talking Miller Lite...think Fat Tire etc. in cans for half off! Anyhow, the chicken was technically well done. It's breadcrumb crust was completely greaseless and the flesh was quite moist. We also found the flesh more chicken-y than most other birds because Newstead uses free range chickens from Benne's farms. You can really taste the difference although some diners might find the chicken a little too flavorsome. Anyhow, the bird was very well fried but just didn't satisfy that lip-smacking craving we both have when eating fried chicken.

3. Porter's Fried Chicken- Our winner of the fried chicken challenge. Porter's is in a janky little storefront location but its appearance belies the quality of the bird. This chicken came incased in a thin, yet crispy, crust. We could not stop eating this chicken. James must've pounded down 6 pieces and I stopped at 4. In addition, we ate nearly an entire order of fried gizzards. PHENOMENALLY good gizzards. The chicken was definitely on the greasy side but we both loved the slick of oil the chicken deposited on our lips and fingers. Healthy fried chicken just doesn't feel right, ya know? A definite must visit when I return to St. Louis.

4. Hodak's- Along with Porter's, Hodak's was the other name mentioned most often when we did our fried chicken research. It wasn't bad but it sorta fell into the Newstead camp of fried chicken. A great, greaseless fry job but the meat was sorta bland and it just didn't have that lip-smacking goodness. However, I have to give them props for the insanely juicy chicken breast. I think it was the first time in my life where I ate the breast before tackling the thigh. Also, we split an order of toasted ravioli. Toasted raviolis (or T-Ravs as they are commonly called) are a St. Louis original and consist of meat ravioli which are breaded, deep fried, dusted with parmesan and served with marinara sauce. Eh, they weren't bad but once is enough for me.

5. Wei Hong Seafood Restaurant- My brother has a fairly serious allergy to soy products so it's really nice for him to find a Chinese restaurant which is willing to work with him. However, this isn't the only way in which Wei Hong is extraordinary. First, it's in an old movie theater so it's absolutely cavernous on the inside. Second, the lights like to dim themselves mid-meal so it's a fun variable. Third, THE WAITRESSES DOUBLE AS THE COOKS. Let me say this again: Not only do they take your order but they also cook your food! I've never been to another restaurant like this. And not only is their service friendly and gracious but they're also pretty good cooks. James tends to stick to a fairly standard set of dishes so that's what I ate. The best thing? Harbor-style crab...Dungeness crab which is stir fried with pork, garlic, ginger, green onion etc. Really, really tasty. Also, you can't go wrong with stir-fried pea shoots. A very enjoyable meal, even given that I have pretty high standards for Chinese food.

All in all, a pretty fun food trip. Much better than I was expecting and, given the quality of Pappy's and Porter's, I've got two GREAT restaurants to look forward to on future visits.

Pappy's Smoke House
3106 Olive Street
Saint Louis, MO 63103

Phone: 314-535-4340

Newstead Tower Public House
4353 Manchester Ave
St Louis, MO 63103

Phone: 314-535-7771

Porter's Fried Chicken
3628 S Big Bend Blvd
St Louis, MO 6314

Phone: 314-781-2097

2100 Gravois Ave
St Louis, MO 63104
Phone: 314-776-7292

Wei Hong Seafood Restaurant
7740 Olive Blvd.
University City, MO 63130
Phone: 314-726-0363

Friday, November 6, 2009

Oven-Crisped Chicken with Maple Vinegar Sauce

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All right! Given that I am unemployed, I am 1. Cooking more at home & 2. Have tons of time so you can expect lots of future excitement! And can any of you tell me why custards are baked in an oven but custard sauces are cooked on a stovetop? I need answers people, not excuses!

This recipe is from The Elements of Taste by Gray Kunz and Peter Kaminsky. It's an interesting book which has a unique view on food and taste. In it, the authors dissect taste into 14 distinct profiles. For instance, "Tastes that Push" contains 3 subdivisions: Salty, Picante and Sweet and each one of these subdivisions has a few recipes which demonstrate the characteristics of the subdivision. It's an intellectual approach to flavor which is quite different from other cookbooks. Additionally, there are "Taste Notes" on how each recipe tastes. Here's the "Taste Note" from this chicken recipe:
First a tangy vinegar aroma and, right along with it, nuttiness from the almonds and butter. The crunchiness from the chicken skin and intense saltiness follow. There's a smooth overall sweetness from the maple syrup, cut by the bitter cranberry and the nuts. The cranberry also has tang, which works with the vinegar to pull out more meaty taste. The flesh of the chicken gives texture and punctuation, plus a full meaty aroma. The end notes are sweet, meaty, and salty.
Neat, right? I really like the perspective this book provides but, at the end of the day, would not recommend it to beginning cooks. The recipes are a little bit complicated and it lacks the kind of clear instruction beginners need. Furthermore, the food might be a bit too adventurous for middle-America. Although today's recipe seems fairly benign, this book contains recipes such as "Poached and Crisped Turkey Leg Provencale with Lemon Pickle and "Okra-Bell Pepper Ratatouille with Mung Bean Curry Crepe." Not the kind of food most people crave on a busy weeknight.

And we're off!

2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup maple syrup

1. Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat.
2. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally until they are soft and transluscent.
3. Add the pepper and nutmeg.
4. Add the vinegar, bring to a boil, then add the maple syrup.
5. Return the sauce to a boil and reduce by half. Set aside.

1 3-4 pound spatchcocked chicken
Salt and Pepper
Vegetable Oil

1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Make an incision in each of the chicken's thighs, then tuck in the legs. Season chicken with salt and pepper.
3. Heat oil in a large heavy ovenproof skillet. Place the chicken, skin side down in the hot pan and transfer pan to oven.
4. After 10 minutes, flip the chicken. Continue to roast until the thigh juices run clear. This will take somewhere around 30 minutes.
5. Remove chicken from pan and allow it to rest.
6. Pour fat from the roasting pan. See all those little brown bits crusted to the bottom of the pan? Those taste good so we're going to deglaze the pan with the pre-made sauce. Pour the sauce into the hot pan. You should be able to scrape up the brown bits. Set the sauce aside.

3/4 cup slivered almonds
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup leeks, sliced and THEN measured
1 tablespoon dried bread crumbs
Salt and Pepper

1. Combine almonds and butter in a skillet. Heat and cook the almonds until they turn golden brown.
2. Add the cranberries and leeks. Cook for another minute.
3. Add the bread crumbs, stir, and season with salt and pepper.

Cut the chicken into serving size parts. Arrange the chicken on a plate, spoon the sauce over the chicken, then the topping and serve.


Cost- I forget. I made this a while ago. Serves 4 hungry adults.
Time- Mebbe 45 minutes? It doesn't take long.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Corn, Tomato and Bacon Salad

I'm back...sorta. Anyhow, this is easy, fast and everything you need is probably at your local farmers market or grocery store.

1. Saute 2 pieces of bacon until brown and crisp. The bacon fat is the only oil in this dish so don't get rid of it.

2. Throw in half of a minced red onion and half of a minced jalapeno (or more to taste). Saute until onion is translucent. Add salt.

3. Throw in the kernels from one ear of corn. Cook for roughly five or so minutes.

4. Allow corn mixture to cool slightly and then add in lime juice to taste and some chopped tomato. I used one large, fist sized heirloom tomato.

5. Add some corn mixture to plate.

6. Grab a few handfuls of salad greens and add to the remaining corn mixture. With any luck, the warm corn mixture will slightly wilt the greens.

7. Adjust seasoning...lime juice, minced jalapeno and salt.

8. Add salad green/corn mixture to plate.

9. Optional. Garnish with toasted bread. I mashed up some avocado with lime and salt and used that as topping.

10. Eat!

Time- 20 Minutes

Cost: 40 cents for avocado, 1 buck for salad greens, 1 buck for bacon, 50 cents for corn, 2 bucks for tomato, incidentals 75 cents. 'Bout $6.00, total.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


One of my favorite restaurants in San Francisco. I'm not big on the whole Cal-Mediterranean thing (wood burning ovens are de rigeur in this city) but NOPA has one of my favorite dishes EVER. Little fried fish. I dream about these things. The rest of the menu is solid, affordably priced and they have a neat cocktail menu. Loud and crowded if you go during prime time but they're open until 1AM so going late is a definite possibility. Grazing on nothing but appetizers is how I usually roll when I go. Try to score a seat at the bar in front of the open kitchen---if you're lucky, the chef will be working the pass next to you and you can grill him (no pun intended) on what's good. Dinner and theater, all rolled up in one.

560 Divisadero St
(between Fell St & Hayes St)
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 864-8643

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mixed Fruit Crisp

Boy, I've never blogged from my office computer so don't blame me if this sucks. I need a dual-core processor to properly do this, see?

Keith, this one is for you. Recipe is taken from The New Best Recipe.

I made a double recipe which fits nicely into a 9x13 baking dish.



3/4 cup AP flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

pinch of salt

1 stick of butter cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1.5 cups of chopped nuts...I used walnuts...feel free to use whatever you have on hand.


3 lbs (or so) of cut up fruit--i used approximately 3 lbs of nectarines/apricots (post-chopping weight) and 1/2 lb of boysenberries

zest of 2 lemons

3-5 tablespoons of lemon juice (use your taste buds)

1/3 to 2/3 cup of sugar (again, use your tastebuds...if your fruit isn't very sweet, add a bit more sugar...if you over did it on the lemon juice, add sugar to compensate)

(Advanced move...I made a corn starch slurry with the lemon juice to help thicken the filling...feel free to do the same if you so wish)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Whisk together flour, sugar, spices and salt. Add cubed butter and, using a pair of knives, "cut" the butter until it is pea-sized. If you're lazy, just squeeze the butter and flour/sugar mixture until it's totally homogeneous. Nobody will know the difference. Mix in the nuts until evenly distributed. Refrigerate the topping for at least 15 minutes.

Process the fruit. If you're using stone fruit, please make sure you're not an idiot like I am and don't buy clingfruit. Freestone, please. At any rate, you just want chunks of fruit. See picture:

Toss the fruit with the lemon zest, sugar and lemon juice.

Distribute the chilled topping over the fruit:

Place crisp into oven. Bake for about an hour.

Serve! It's great warm or room temperature. Great with whipped cream or ice cream. It's a winner.

Time-15 minutes of active work, an hour of baking time.

Cost-Depends on where you buy your fruit. If you buy organic nectarines from the farmer's market, it'll cost an arm and a leg. Say, anywhere from 3-15 bucks total depending on food cost.