Friday, July 30, 2010

Minute (steak) to win it!

I get these cheap sandwich steaks at Pathmark for like $2 and change. I figure, they're both twice the size of my hand so how bad can that be. We get the mental joy of eating 'steak' and it doesn't kill or even bruise the budget. But these little 'fellers are fickle. You have to season them not too much, but enough and mainly get the heat and timing right. You don't want to dry them out and you can't really under cook them but you want to get a little fry on them suckers. Both Patrick and I have fond memories of fighting back with our meat a bit, these same steaks that our moms fried up sort of like shoe leather. I (hopefully) make them a little easier on the teeth but if the edges are a little charred, it just makes us happy.

But really the main star of the plate was P's favorite cucumber-dill yogurt salad. Its simple but adding the lemon zest and cayenne pepper brings it home for me. I think the shelf life of this salad is 'same day' really but of course I'm not throwing out good food so I just drain the liquid and add some more fresh yogurt. We're in a recession ferchrissakes!

pork and chicken

It seems like the only types of meat that is affordable when I go to the store are pork chops and chicken thighs. I'm thinking of doing a '101 ways with my thighs' because God knows there are so many great ways to eat that part of the bird. I mainly make the inexpensive cuts of pork chops during the week when I'm just looking to eat well, not make a huge production out of it. Usually that means seasoning them up both sides and frying em up fast and hot. Tonight I thought I'd dip them in egg and 'bread' them in panko crumbs, kinda like I do the chicken and bake 'em. Pretty good. I figure its still better than having two tortillas. I'm trying to cut down on the breads but you crave that shit. The key to chops (and chicken) since they can be a little bland for me is really flavoring the egg, the crumbs and then the meat before it takes the dip in the egg.

Anyway, served this along side some nice summer green and yellow squash with corn (it looked so pretty!) and my leftover cucumber-dill yogurt salad.

This is feeling really good and I got 8 chops for $4.68, so I feel even better. Pathmark is not the devil as I had thought previously this week...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Can you be in love with a broccoli?

I love Broccoli Rabe and I don't care who knows it! There is something you get from this dark green that automatically makes you feel stronger and clearer. Someone tell me what that is. Also, if you're a female and you are about to get 'the curse' and you eat a bunch of this, you are ready for anything mother nature wants to burden you with.

The best I've had it? With loads of garlic and sweet italian sausage over penne pasta with just olive oil as a dressing.....Delicious!!!

speaking of breakfast spots....

You know who also has a great inexpensive breakfast? Cubana Cafe'. There's one on Smith Street but one that opened on 6th too, right off Flatbush. I don't know my cuban food but I know a good breakfast and they do it right. For $3 we tried a side of Yuca With Mojo boiled yuca with roast garlic and olive oil, lime and parsley and that shit was tasty!!! The coffee is great and its all colorful and fun in there.

Mexican breakfasts....ahhh (sigh)

Mexican breakfasts are big and bold and right up my alley. We have Pequena Restaurant right around the corner that serves the best chicken chilaquiles on this planet! They have a salsa verde and you can get two fried eggs on top, which is almost too much food (but is there really such a thing???). I'll get a picture next time I'm there. I make mine (chilaquiles) differently with the egg tossed around the chips but I am there only to worship and devour their dish, not get technical.

So, my dad used to make the most delicious eggs rancheros but with summer sausage of all things. He made his own quick-style tomato ranchero sauce with peppers, onions and garlic and it was tangy and spicy and so so good to sop up that sauce with my mom's freshly made flour tortillas. But I'm trying not to eat summer sausage because it has so much fat (but man is it worth it actually, thinking about it now....) So, I made steak & eggs ranchero with torts and I sorta loved it, although if I coulda got a better grill on those steak slices, I think it could of been better. I used a $2 sandwich steak though so come 'on! I like heat so I added chili powder, cumin and some cayenne to my tomato, onion, garlic base. If I would have had fresh jalapenos, I would have added those.
I think the key though was deglazing that ding-dang hot grill pan that I made the steak on to get that flavor into the sauce.
Served it along with some canned black beans with a little jalapeno jack cheese and pickled jalapeno peppers.

tuna and white bean salad can work

I used to make huge pots of beans, bean soup, chili beans, white northern beans, and whatnot, then the summer came and I really want beans mainly in salads and cold dishes so even though its not as cheap, (it's still pretty darn cheap) I buy canned beans and I can have a variety ready for me at any time. My favorites are black beans, small white beans, cannelini and garbanzo beans.

I get lazy in the summer. I still want to cook but I don't want to work too hard, and also I'm trying to eat lighter, and use more fresh ingredients. So anyway, canned beans - they're my main staple along with cans of tuna. So, tuna and white bean salads have been really doing it for me as a lazy day quick meal. I also love me a greek salad so tonight I just combined the things I like best in both and it was good.

I also have plenty of melba toast crackers and those are great to go along side this salad.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

posole for the soul-y

I think posole might have some of the same healing elements that menudo has so I'm thinking it might not be as much about the tripe as I had once thought. But I am making my posole now with chicken thighs since they seem to be the only meat I can afford. I start by making like a chicken broth with celery, onion, garlic, bay leaves, jalapenos and peppercorns. That broth is enriched with a smoked pork neck or turkey neck. The rich, (real)broth being seasoned with chili powder and cumin, cayenne might be key I guess.

Everything about menudo was a little mysterious and magical growing up actually. When I was little and to about my early-teens my mom & dad would take us to the mexican dances at these mysterious 'halls' in surrounding small towns in Ohio and Indiana. The live bands were happening and there was always plenty of alcohol in little plastic cups around to make it easy to get into another mind-set and lose track of time in these unfamiliar landscapes. Everyone would dance and they would break up the tex-mex country type sound with rock and roll for the kids and we'd have our moment on the floor to show our stuff. I had some James Brown moves as a really small kid that I myself thought were pretty right on the money. Later it became about the fabulous dresses and shoes I'd debut at these events. Then I sorta drifted into a way different scene and the two worlds really couldn't meld, so I quit going altogether BUT the MAIN event really was the 'after' dance drunken ride back to Fort Wayne with my dad at the wheel and the only thing that mattered was that we were gonna get to eat some really good menudo. He could always get us there even though I remember it was sort of a death ride of chance. And the place we'd eat it was not nice, it was all about the soup. It was a truck stop area of town near the slaughter house so the smell of old blood alerted my drunken head we were nearing this miracle soup.

So menudo is supposed to cure hangovers and prevent them. I think it works. But it may do even more than that and I'm trying to figure out if posole also shares some of this magical power. There's something soothing about soup in general right but that's not all. It calms the soul sort of instantly and then you start to have a feeling of being back in the womb or some shit. I've never had tripe in anything else, so I just assumed it must be something about that weird cut of stomach lining that slides down your throat that may hold some relief that you haven't drank all the lining out of your own stomach. But maybe its the broth, the combo of spices with the chili that can soothe the soul.

Menudo is like the chuppacabra though in Brooklyn, you hear about it but never actually see it. Maybe someone will have it on their menu but no one ever has it available. I have to make my own soon.

Until then, I think posole is really its healthier (although tripe is not bad for you as far as I can tell) less time consuming cute cousin that can do the job almost as well.