Monday, August 30, 2010

soft tacos to soften the blow

Spiced up some of the shredded pork and whipped up some fresh pico for some quick and dee-licious soft pork tacos last night. Sunday nights need no fanfare or fuss. Best to keep it simple and calm. I like Sundays but lets face it, they are a lead-in to a whole 'nuther week of getting it all done and everything that comes with that. It's an exhausting thought! Sure, life is Gooood and I'm super happy to be alive and healthy and working and blah, blah but man, Monday's can suck ass and people are STUPID on the road and I won't go on. But I think its important to put a little love in your belly to soothe all of what you've done and what you're about to do again.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


I had a white bean hummus snack dish on my short list this week. I love white bean dip and I love hummus. Matter of fact I guess the only difference is the addition of Tahini and cumin because the garlic, lemon, oil remains the same. Oh yeah and using cannellini beans instead of chick peas. Maybe it shouldn't be called a hummus, without the chick peas because I think that is the translation in Arabic.

I also added some fresh rosemary because I had some and it tastes nice with the beans. This was heartier I think too than regular hummus. I toasted up some whole wheat pita slices with a dash of spice mix and olive oil. I can see why hummus has been around forever. I read it is one of the oldest known prepared foods in the world. The way you eat it, feels very earthy and honest, dipping the warm bread and drizzling the olive oil over the bowl. Kinda feels like a step back in time. Like if one of the apostles dropped in unexpectedly, you could whip up this snack and they'd be pretty psyched. Except Judas, don't let him in. He might steal your money and your hummus.

Back to the S%*t!

Does anyone remember that Millie Jackson album? What gall she had. I was in the height of my too cool days in SF when she released that little gem. I remember in my young mind wondering what kinda crazy-ass woman would ever put herself out there like that, defecating on an album cover. You really couldn't get more punk rock and it was shocking, even to the unshakable. And the sentiment. Her facial expression. It was great to see everyone pick up the album off the New Release rack at Leopold Records where I worked in Berkeley.

But I've been fighting that same sentiment this week as I struggled back to my shit job. Instead of giving energy to the misery that Monday brings, I made a short list of cheap fun side dishes to play with this week. One of them was using red onions. The pork roast was the big man on campus so it was hard to focus on the shy brooding dish on the side of the plate but man, those were so sweet and tasty, all carmelized! Very simple, just roasted red onions with Spanish smoked paprika, salt pepper and a pinch of sugar rolled around in some olive oil, roasted on 350 for 1/2 hour. Left them in their skins for that rustic look and it helped to keep the innards all tender and juicy. So good. I'd do these again and maybe in a sandwich or with pasta maybe??

Fun fact: Millie Jackson recorded a version of Merle Haggard's 'If you're not back in love by Monday' in 1977.,g/Millie-Jackson-If-You-re-Not-Back-In-Love-By-Monday.html

A pork shoulder to lean on

Pork shoulders were on sale down at the PathMark dontcha know so I slow roasted one last night with a garlic, vinegar, dried pepper rub. Oh my gosh, it looks and tastes so so good. I've done this lots before but I read a Nigella Lawson recipe where she left hers go for 24 hours on 275. I went 15 just because I woke up and had to taste it! The skin is crisp and amazing, the meat stayed nice and moist. Thank Goodness, because that was my fear, that it would dry up like my soul on a Sunday night.

Now pulled pork sandwiches are gonna happen no doubt this week but I wanted to go for something more interesting today. When we lived in SF, we started trying lots of Vietnamese food. They're soups were incredible. Here, they've opened a bunch of Vietnamese sandwich shops that serves these super cheap, super great pork sandwiches. So I'll do an homage to that 'Bahn Mi' (pronounced BUN mee) sandwich tonight in celebration of Tiger Wood's Jersey tournament 'come back' (we hope). So, they do a spicy butter-mayo spread on a toasted baguette and a julienne of carrots, cucumber and lots of cilantro. I thought there were jalapenos as well but I can't find a recipe. I'm going from memory and pics. Also, a big missing part is this amazing pate but this is an homage, not a total recreation so LAY OFF ME!

In place of the carrot, cucumber chop, I'm going to put in this fresh carrot, apple, radish, cabbage slaw that I made last night while I had my cuisanart out. I wanted to keep it light, so I opted out of the mayo and the sour cream and just went with rice vinegar, a pinch of sugar and lots of salt, pepper and fresh 'peno's. I'm adding a little heat with some chipolte mayo.

I've loved watching golf when Tiger was playing, like so many. This whole year has been tough with all that nonsense and what a shocker that whole fiasco was, huh?! This week the divorce went final and that's always rough to see but seems like the best thing. Hey we all got problems, hate our jobs, wanna kill our bosses, can't see any light until 'bout Thursday BUT or AND, no million dollar bankroll to soften the blow of it all. So, they'll be okay but our main concern is T's game. Will that recover? We're thinking possibly this will be the tourney that turns that boy around. I'm always looking for a good reason to make a small feast so I'll make some sides and call this a party. Sometimes you need a shoulder to lean on, even if he's a pig.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Is it wrong that I dreaming up concoctions to blow out my man's ass?

We're getting more peppers shipped to us and this batch will include some whole habaneros! I love heat but I can take it. P, he's a little less tolerant if you will. I usually take that into consideration.

But you know, this week P has a mouth on him. He likes to pick and tease and get under my skin. And it always seems to fall on the days where I'm super sensitive. I'm thinking these peppers may just be my sweet revenge.

I'm considering Jerk Chicken. Think double entendre.

Oh, it's not nice to fool with Mother Nature! Remember that commercial?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

What About (ka) Bob?

Summer is almost over and I completely forgot about Shish Kabob! I was making a pork stir fry and was cutting the meat and vegetables in sizes perfect for kabob'ing. Oh so much food, so little time. But I also don't have a grill. But you got to work with whatchagot - so the broiler would have done just fine. I am having dinner remorse? Will I be eatin' Asian and dreamin' of Greek? Will there be enough summer left to do this Kabob and still feel like I'm not wearing white in September? The leaves are changin' already! Why do I think it's strictly a summer thing anyway? It's not right?

Vacation (food) 's All I Ever Wanted

I hated the Go-Go's. The female equivalent of Frat boys. Mainly Belinda Carlisle - drunken sorority girl with a mic. But I don't want to talk about that.

I was all about the vacation food on this trip. Dreaming of what sorts of seafood delights would be in store. Where would we eat first? Would we swim and then eat or dine poolside???? Well long story short it was just great, the whole thing was so relaxing and just what the doctor ordered. The food....well, lets concentrate on the highlights. Of all places, McDonald's had THE best Angus Beef burger. Now we haven't had McDonald's in a year or so, and you know fast food in New York is questionable. Let's just say the regular standards are sub par. But this thing was a livin' dream.

It is Florida now, so don't expect good Mexican food or probably any Thai, Chinese, etc. (obvious!) And maybe the food isn't all that creative but you know food is like sex. As long as you're gettin' some, don't complain. They do seafood, Italian and Fried. They fry up stuff good. That is a talent actually and one you probably shouldn't explore too often.

Other highlights -
Trio salad and calamari lunch, poolside!! This was chicken, shrimp & tuna salad but each had its own. You can't underestimate a good tuna salad and this one was on the money.

BLT at the Paradise Cafe'. I had a turkey wrap but P's BLT had fresh mozzarella and it was GOOD!

Grouper Sandwich & Burger w/sweet potato & regular fries - That was really good! at the Beach Club. The sweet potato fries might be the best I've had. You could really taste the sweet potato. It inspired me to create a (pepper)hot baked version.

Not pictured - Baha taco's & shrimp poppers at NACHO MAMA'S *see mexican food expectations above. Yikes.

The winner though...Joey's NY Thin Crust Pizza. This was so good, we did 'er twice...for dinner.

No, we're not big spenders and we're lucky to be able to go on vacation period, but when you're swimming and sunning who wants to be bothered. These simple dishes were more than satisfying.

The serrano doesn't fall far from the plant

After a week of good, but fried and pretty fatty food, I felt the need for green and clean. I started thinking I wanted some type of Asian vegetable rice dish with heat, not a heavy sauce. I found some cheap pork and thought it might be dressed up quite nicely with some orange, garlic pepper sauce. I also found some fresh green beans looking really sharp. I wanted the vegetables to be really crisp and bright. Basil in the rice and a big bunch dropped in at the last minute to the pork and vegetables also made this dish almost medicinal. The heat came with more of those fresh dried peppers sent to us by my aging brother in law.

It was cool to chop up all my own vegetables and choose exactly what I wanted inside. You know, I couldn't wait to eat out on vacation and just 5 days of it left me longing to be in my own tiny kitchen and doing all the work again. Go figure.

I wonder if I'm going to end up like my parents, where all their dining out experiences left them a little disappointed in the world. I used to love to ask them for a review after they came from eating out. I wanted to see their faces scrunch up and contort. They hated to complain buuuuut... especially with Mexican food, most meals fell way short of perfect. My dad would be on the verge of being pissed and it was great hearing him describe what they did wrong. 'No, they put all the Damn sauce all over everything and everything was soggy! Why do they gotta put so much Got'damn sauce on everything! They don't flavor their rice!" My mom used to just shake her head and seemed amazed that someone could screw up her enchiladas so badly. In his and her defense, they made some amazing Mexican food. Of course, they were in the mid-west and in small towns too where pickin's were slim. They also had their own restaurant so....that had a lot to do with it.

But I have amazing choices here in NY and so many of even the cheap ones do what they do so well. Now Florida...they could use some work. Uh oh.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hot Potato

Holy smokes! I had a few old spuds that I had to use up before we flew the coop for Florida. So I remembered I found a good recipe for baked fries on another blog awhile ago that looked really good. I tried them once before but this time....this time, all the stars aligned and let me tell you these little suckers were pert' near perfection.

What made the difference this time? I turned up the heat son! By adding a good heaping spoon full of these amazing freshly dried pepper seeds to the garlic oil. The heat was mellowed a bit but the flavor of the peppers was enhanced somehow but then mixed with all that garlic and slow crisp baked in that flavored olive oil.... Girrrrrrrrrrl! You gotta make these, like right now. And when I say make, I mean make hot sweet monkey love to them. They are what you need. Put cold ketchup on them and maybe a little vinegar or just some sea salt and maybe a dash of hot sauce.

Sure it's August in NYC, and in the hottest summer on record to date but get that oven on low and set yer ass down and relax. This old potato still has some gitty-up to it.

Here's the link:

Saturday, August 14, 2010

(Path)Mark of the Devil

One of the oddest memories I have is my mom driving me and Annette Harbor to see 'Mark of the Devil' at the Rialto Theater in Fort Wayne, Indiana when I was about 8yrs old. Odd on so many levels. My mom didn't drive much. I never went ANYwhere. Hell my mom never went anywhere, not by herself anyway. And then me with a friend from school!!! A friend from school?? It all sounds so normal. I didn't have friends at school. Annette was a normal girl. She was popular. The Harbor's were like an institution, several generations had attended that school and they had roots, ...cheerleader roots. The movie it was sort of an adult horror movie and the location of the theater was a little sketchy. I think we saw 'boob' like in one scene. The audience was mostly men. And we had to wait outside to be picked up and it was 'evening'! What? This is freaking me out to even think about it. I'm racking my brain to wonder what prompted this whole semi-normal scene. I think my mom even gave us $5 each for candy???? Could it be? No.

Anyway, PATHMARK is pretty scary on any day but Saturday...forget it. You'd have to be almost nuts to brave the lines. What got us there was cheap beer and $2 steaks.

food forward

I'm surprised I'm not 300 pounds because I constantly think about food. What will I eat in Florida next week? What possibilities are out there for breakfast? What will they be serving for lunch at work? What can I make for dinner? Thank goodness though really. What a blessing to have something simple bring so much joy.

Choices are abundant out here in Brooklyn. Prices for breakfast or brunch in relatively clean fun surroundings are around 8 bucks. But places can stiff you for coffee or like only serving fancy coffee. They get you when you're easily confused and groggy - needing coffee - and then they ramble off about 10 types of coffees you can get which none of them are actually just a cup of black strong coffee that you could add cream to which is what you really want. Today P got Cafe' con Leche and it was sweetened. It was good though but felt more like hot cocoa. You can get regular coffee at this place, I think but we've been tricked about 4 times with these $3 leches. We're not that smart.

Cafe' Cubana on 6th and Flatbush. It's easy and they open up the front window doors to make it all breezy and sunny and refreshing. The blue paint on the slatted walls calms me. The nice waiter usually brings these plantain chips with two types of salsas, the dark green one is almost pesto-like. They only give you a dollop and so it doesn't ruin your appetite. I don't know a lot about Cuban food but from what I eat, they don't use many spices and the food is more healthy and simple than say mexican.

I am almost on vacation (just one more day of prison time) so I really wanted to try something new but you know that doesn't always pay off. (((think back monkey, perm of Ot 04', whew!!! What a bad idea! Good intentions gone immediately south))))

I wanted meat, of course, when doesn't meat sound better. So Chorizo omelet right? ..with snow peas and cheddar cheese. C'mon! Clearly the best choice! No.... I need to try something new and take chances, I think. P was smart and got the tropical vegetarian BLT which was amazing actually. Okay, so scrambled eggs with tomatoes and artichoke salsa served with coconut rice sounded amazing too. Are you with me on this? It was pretty tasty but amazing...uh, honestly, not really. Okay, big disclaimer: I'm Catholic (sort of) or at least I carry tons of C-guilt so I'm lucky to be eating at a restaurant at All and deserve NOTHING. Them's the facts. This I know because the good nuns done 'tole me love this place and I'm just happy to be here and with my lovin' man out and about, with two legs, health insurance, a place to live,..blah, blah, blah. Okay. That said. But now I'm thinking that maybe I really love coming to this place not so much for the food exactly but because it feels light and airy, therefore it makes me feel like I'M light and airy. The food never weighs me down and everyone is friendly and its never super crowded (because we go as they just open).

Like I said, it was good but not 'special' but it could have been with a few small changes I think. So I thought it would be fun to recreate the meal as it could have been presented based on the description. It's the 'artichoke salsa' that reeled me in. That's different. You visualize something colorful. So maybe they could have slow cooked the scrambled eggs so they are fluffy and light. You throw in the tomatoes at the very last minute so they keep their bright red color. Then, put a big dollop of this special, different 'artichoke salsa' on the top for presentation purposes, it will be the main attraction and visually you can be excited. Whatcha think? Sounds better right?

The actual salsa was canned artichokes cooked with tomatoes I believe. Not bad. Maybe I'll try to make it with artichokes but add peperocini peppers, vidalia onions, and how about mint???

But I did cover my carnivore cravings by ordering a side of home fries with chorizo and green onions. And they didn't disappoint. Hey, this ain't my first time at the rodeo.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Global Recipe Competition

Oh let me think. How could a contest be any more accessible then to be with the company I work for, a cooking competition and if that wasn't enough it should be around healthy cooking. And let's see, the ingredients could include items featured in the Swedish Food Market, you know, the one I pass EVERY DAMN DAY! Boy, what a maroon!!! I can't believe I didn't enter or even try to come up with a recipe. Hey, sometimes I sits and thinks but a lot of times I just sits.

The last entry was due on 7/31. Maybe next year. It looked like it could have been fun. I don't know many (any) swedish recipes and I'm allergic to fish so it would have been a little tough but that is water under the bridge my friend. Because I'm an idiot.

Here was the ad -

Whatcha got Cookin'?
Do you have passion for food? The Global Recipe Competition is your chance to prove it!
Cooking and eating is all about togetherness and we want to share the passion and pride around the food we serve in our restaurants, and we need your help to do so! That’s why until July 31, all IKEA co-workers can compete for the best food recipe.

Depending on the character of your winning recipe(s), it might be served in IKEA restaurants all over the world or published in an upcoming IKEA cookbook! If you are one of the top five winners, you will be awarded a culinary trip to Sweden.


pesto manifesto

I love how you can forget about a food and then remember and make it that night! It's like love has blossomed again. I had forgotten just how tasty pesto can be and also how fun it is to create different types with various greens and nuts and spices. I know its not exactly revolutionary but I'm easily impressed by my own accomplishments since they're so few and far inbetween. I was hankerin' for something with a little more zip last night but had no real energy (it was Monday - need I say more?)or food to work with except some left over baked chicken. So I made some chicken and corn with spinach quesadillas. Tasty enough but I'm really trying not to load on the cheese, just use cheese for a teenie-tiny accent. I say I'm 'tryin', not that I've reached success. It's day to day. So I made some cilantro pesto. I put lots of garlic in and added some cayenne, lime juice, and walnuts (left over from my Better-For-You-Brownies). Okay, I did throw in some parmesan cheese. You HAVE to!! I use a quarter of the olive oil they normally advise in a recipe though so I feel as though I have some 'credit calories' coming.
Good stuff! I just want to keep eating it like a dip. P likes it too. I think the only one of my pesto concoctions he didn't care for was the arugula pesto but that may be my favorite. I love Basil & pine nuts but they're real proud of that stuff as P says, down at the PathMark, so it's top dollar. I would rather experiment with the cheaper nuts and greens. Because I'm a cheap nut with not much green.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Don't underestimate the drink

I love eating and tasting food but drinks are also really important. You have to be creative if you don't drink alcohol. I really miss ice cold Corona with my mexican food and also Budweiser just about any time of the day or night. I also miss the strong taste of whiskey and how it really transformed my outlook on the night. Good tequila too in a salt laced margarita. And a well-made bloody mary could just about change your day. But nowadays I can find happiness in a cranberry seltzer with a lime twist. Don't knock it. You can gauge the amount of sweetness and tartness that you hanker by getting just the right mix. Lots of nights I only put a little squirt in the seltzer and on the weekends I go hog wild and put half and half. I even make 'suicides' as P calls 'em with OJ, seltzer and cranberry.

Another little discovery this year. I've been having some anxiety and when I'd visit my folks we'd make chamomile tea at night. It would help my mom to rest and it would help get me through watching the mexican novellas on full blast volume because my dad can't hear well. We'd all be asleep by 9:30. I really love the calm I feel at my folks, like time is standing still and stupid shit doesn't matter, like celebrities and going to work. Everything is stripped to basics like eating breakfast and lunch and having tea at night to help you relax.

A little cup of hot tea is fine in the winter but you know what really helps?? Drinking a big-ole honkin' glass of iced chamomile tea REALLY helps! I put the mint in it and the whole idea of it just starts make me feel relaxed.

Andy's Philly Tapenade

So, did the contest, well one video anyway about a hunnerd years ago and it was fun to do it but of course I didn't get noticed and my recipe was weak! It was fun making the video though but now the youtube video is forever on the web. P actually made it and we did about a zillion takes and I learned I pretty much turn into a moron while the camera is on.

I made an olive tapenade that you spread on crusty bread and it was actually really tasty. I learned you should test recipes (duh!). And I know that some contests are geared towards certain types of winners, ie.,cute housewives and mothers. I don't know if I'd trust a cook in NY either actually. Something is not authentic enough... but who cares. I also learned its real easy to make things taste good with cream cheese and then again, that shit is mad fattening and not good for you so its sorta hard to highlight a whole entire dish with cream cheese as the main ingredient.

I'm more into discovering new ways to cook with the least amount of processed products right now. I like the way its making me feel to eat less packaged foods and new grains and vegetables. I still like to have a romp on the plate with cheese often enough but not necessarily the creamy kind in a plastic tub. Don't get me wrong, Philly Cream Cheese is super good and nothing will replace it on a toasted New York bagel.

The next real challenge for me though is to finally come up with the ultimate snack street food that one could carry around and purchase off a cart or a small food's a dream.

Monkey Bars

A lady I work with took me to see how the other half lives in the Hamptons a couple of weeks ago on my day off. She used to have a nice house over there herself where she raised her kids. The coolest thing for me was to see houses directly on the beach just like you imagine. The houses were also over the top, like pretty unreal. I kept thinking of the parties you could have in them and how good the food would taste looking out over those vistas.

The bottom of my flip flop fell off while were were walking on a beautiful restaurant outdoor deck all dressed up in white linens and flowers and heavy silverware. Somehow it felt fitting that my sole came apart. Something came to me about material things and money and how its all so silly. I just want to have fun and laugh and eat really. And create, always...continue to create things and that will keep me feeling alive and healthy in the mind and spirit. That's what P tells me anyway and I guess I believe him. There are so many wonderful things to do in this life for free (thank God!) and while I was walking in downtown South Hampton with 1/2 of a flip flop I remembered a few of those things.

One of them is baking. I'm not that good at baking 'cause I'm not that precise but I love the science of it. Things rise when you do this, they stay all moist when you do that. They can withstand high heat and even have a specific moment when it all comes together.

Like anything you create, when you present it to someone you sorta want them to get all happy and gush over it. Midwesterners gush. We're humble, we're grateful people (believe me, grateful to be out of the midwest!). But this lady is really not a gusher. She's a tough New Yorker. They play it much closer to the chest. I came into work with two bags marked with the names and calorie content of each dessert, all proud of my dorkiness. And she thanks (I think) and took a really small bite out of one of the brownies and said 'they're good' without an exclamation put them in her locker and that was the end of it.

Who cares really. I shouldn't 'give to get' they say. She said she liked them, so what do I want, a medal? But P gushed and really liked the monkey bars which were made with ripe bananas, egg whites, whole wheat flour and we had them with coffee this morning. I liked them too and had fun making them!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Pizza Pizza

My super cool 'brother-in-common-law if New York recognized common-law, which is doesn't' sent me some fresh pepper seeds from his garden! YES! So naturally I had to get busy making a pizza. Well, I guess its not exactly a natural progression but I think of those little pepper seeds just so happy to be all over my freshly baked pizza slice and I get all giddy!

I usually make the white flour crust but I heard Mark makes a super good whole wheat crust dough so I thought I'd try one in his honor and then the whole thing would be sorta spiritual. You see I often believe my food means much more than it probably does but its a harmless belief really. Why not believe? It's like my hope that there really are space aliens. Wouldn't it be cool???!

I forgot how many little steps it takes to make a pizza though so I had to make up time tonight when I finally came out of my on-line Scrabble coma. Lots of ways to screw up a pizza. Your dough, your sauce, your toppings. How you layer it. Cheese last or first? I end up getting all my toppings together while the dough is rising and my sauce going and I have to decide if I want to make separate topping pizzas or put it all on there and who minds that?! 'Everything' pizzas were a huge luxury growing up.

I think I'll do two separate pies to make it exciting. One will be pepperoni, green & black olives, & artichoke hearts - the other italian sausage, onions, spinach & ricotta. Yeah.

Of course there is always one thing to be stressed out about because you gotta have like 20 items on hand to make these things. I only had tomato sauce and diced canned tomatoes and I usually like to make my sauce with paste, so time will tell if this will make a runny sauce.

Then there is my oven. It gets too hot and its basically a piece of crap but you know you work with whatcha got and so I just gotta watch it closely. We like our crust thin and crispy so should I pre-bake the crust??? Now see, that's another freakin' thing you gotta decide. But I got the wild-card oven to think about, so ....better not chance the burnt bottom.

Lots of things can go wrong with pizza.

And then again, how bad does a pizza have to be to not get excited about it? When you see it all ready to eat and hot and cheesy - all is forgiven in the kitchen.

...and then the gift...the little morsels of magic, the red pepper flakes, fresh from the garden get to dance all over and make friends with the sausage and pepperoni. They like each other, no, they LOVE each other!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Bobby Flay's got nothing on the Monkey!

To me, summer salads are like tex-mex food in a way. You really can take just about any fresh ingredients and mix them together and it tastes really good. I have been doing the chick peas a LOT lately because I love them for one and for two they're cheap and for three they really fill you up and for four you can add them to anything and they taste good. So I made this salad yesterday and then I got caught in a hour or two of mindless recipe watchin' and I found Bobby Flay did the exact same salad (minus the nectarine).

Speaking of nectarines, I chopped some fresh green jalapeno and then cut the nectarine with the same knife and ended up lickin' the knife and discovered, you know what tastes really good together??? Nectarine and jalapeno!!! I think I'll do something with those two as the main highlight. Maybe a grilled something...hmmm. I guess fruit in salsa is becoming common but maybe just adding lime and garlic to these two ingredients would be pretty good, especially if the nectarine was not super ripe.

Everyone seems to be adding watermelon to their salads lately and I think that would taste great in this one too. How do they keep it from getting too watery though?