Monday, May 30, 2011

The Boys are Back in Town, The Boys are Back in Town

I was so excited to make these Cuban Steak Sandwiches and try out this new potato salad I've been dreaming up in my head all week. I just needed a holiday. And all the sudden here was Memorial Day! Shha-wing! P had a three day weekend. In my head I actually thought, beach, celebration, party, food, etc. I sent my menu to my sister R, via email as I do before every holiday. She wrote me back and said, hmmm, I never thought of MD as a day to celebrate, especially these days. Its more a day of mourning and its sad. guhlmmp (swallow)! She's right, dang what was I thinkin'? I feel like one of the a-holes I'm always screaming Asshole! at. Good thing I didn't read the email until the next day.

If you look up Memorial Day in Wikipedia it'll tell you that originally it was a day for enslaved southern blacks to remember union soldiers of the civil war. Later it was extended to honor all Americans who have died in all wars.

But after all that it became known for being a three day weekend, trips to the beach, family gatherings. People devoted it to shopping! And it also marks the Indy 500 media event. Now I don't feel so bad.

I can vouch for the shopping idiocy because I work retail and I was there. It was ugly busy. Americans love to shop. I love to cook.

I found a great recipe for Cuban Steak Sandwiches (recipe from Food Network I followed the recipe except for switching the flank for cheap London broil. Flank is too expensive. Are you kidding me? Thinly sliced grilled steak with onions on chimichurri slathered Ciabatta bread. Sick.

At the Smoke Joint BBQ, they have a Bed-Stuy potato salad that is so good you have to make up new adjectives to describe it. So I was browsing new recipes and Sunny Anderson roasted her potatoes in one I found interesting. My p-salad was a combination of Sunny's, the Smoke Joint's, my mom's and my own. I added some of my homemade chili powder, crispy bacon and pickle juice. Ridiculousness!!!

But I got the trifecta! I also conquered with an arugula, Feta and watermelon salad with red onions in a vinaigrette.

Next year I'm going to be more respectful and not eat so well and try to spend time thinking more about not only the people who have died but the ones still alive coming home after being through hell. They deserve our observance and respect. What must that be like? I know I sure the hell wouldn't ask them to go shopping. I'd celebrate their return, feed them Cuban Steak Sandwiches on Ciabatta bread, my newly invented Fort Greene potato salad and arugula salad with watermelon. And a vat of ice cold beer.

My Friend Goo

We like thejalapenonyc truck. Its my friend. Its green and the men inside make us tacos to take away and eat under a tree. They provide cold radishes, limes and salsas to squeeze on top. They also have a cooler of ice cold drinks to wash it all down. They make eating good Mexican food affordable and fun.

I know they're not just my friend but must serve several areas of the city. The men probably work really hard in that truck. We appreciate that truck and the work it must take to get that bad boy up and running each week.

Thejalapenonyc truck has been like a little angel magically appearing when we need him on the street.

There are tons of amazing wonderful brunch spots in Brooklyn, with outdoor seating, festive environments and great food. Sometimes though, you just want to whisper in your little green friend's truck ears and tell him I want four tacos por favor. You want to catch them like a butterfly and run off to a babbling brook and show your unicorn. We love thejalapenonyc truck! Goo!

Get on Your Bikes and Ride!

Now get this! Springtime means getting on the bikes not only as a means to get to work but to actually enjoy some leisurely time. Get some wind in your hair, feel the breeze where it ain't been for some time. Relax. If that is possible with a million other bikers on the road. Best to get out nice and early to avoid the (m)asses. We filled up this morning on fried egg toasted bagel sandwiches with tangy summer sausage, mustard, onion and tomato!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Knockin' Me Out With Those American Thighs

If you want the crispiest, juiciest baked chicken ever, try this. Start with a bunch of chicken thighs, dip them in seasoned egg. I put Louisiana hot sauce, salt and pepper and lots of it. Then roll them in a mixture of herbs, salted and seasoned Panko bread crumbs and crushed French Fried Onion rings. Put them on a roasting pan and bake for a good hour and fifteen, a little more depending on your oven, 350 degrees.

Nothing is crunchier and more tasty. The juice stays inside the little package and its also good cold like fried chicken. Great chopped up for salads the next day too!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hey ! You! Get Off of My Cloud

I enjoy eating leftovers because some might say I'm cheap. I prefer frugal. And when I know nothings gone to waste then I feel a heightened unrealistic sense of accomplishment. And that works for me!

I like it too when you can even refresh and stretch leftovers by adding an ingredient. In this case I added whole wheat macaroni to my taco salad and cold peperoncini peppers.

Summertime, And the Livin' Is Easy

As the weather heats up, you find yourself wanting lighter fare. Also dishes you can make quick style and without all the burners blazing. Salads are good but salads with meat are even better! Taco salads are perfect because its a meal in a bowl.

I love hard shell tacos, so this is sort of the lazy monkey's version of that. You see buying hard taco shells for me is like an Italian buying a can of Spaghettios. It could happen but it really shouldn't. No, I must make my own but then that takes another pan, wasting oil and a bit of mess if you do it right. So the taco salad bowl makes it super easy, you just add your favorite store bought chips. My dad would look down on me knowing I even bought store chips, but they have some great ones on the market. Nothing compares to a freshly fried tortilla though.

Tacos, tostadas, tex-mex salads - they're all super affordable. Its a bargain with ground chicken at $2.13 a pound. You stretch that by combining with spices, black beans, onions and green peppers to make an excellent starting base. Anything you like for the toppings but this time I took out much of the fat by eliminating the cheese and sour cream. Instead I added more tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, red and green onions.

Why does a dog lick his shmackel sack?

I was servicing a couple yesterday when they began arguing. The woman kept trying to initiate new questions before her husband was ready. He finally said, 'Look, I'm tackling one problem at a time today, that's how this is gonna work'. Made sense to me. Then he said 'why do you always do that?!' and walked away angry. She smiled at me, put her hand on my arm and quietly said 'because I'm a woman, I'm used to doing several things at once'. I felt her. She looked like a mother, a little tired, but even in that moment when her husband was being a little irrational, she wasn't ruffled or mean. She spoke calmly, she wasn't being arrogant, just honest. And she had a sense of humor, which I love to see in women.

My coworker told me almost that exact same story a few weeks ago, a conversation between her & her husband. I never thought about it much but its very true. Women are thrifty, time-saving, effective, productive power houses in many ways.

There are new cooking shows where you cook once and eat three times. Even your food is multi-tasking. Same concept. Now they're gonna pay some 20 year old fresh out of cooking school to teach us what women have probably been doing for years, just out of being naturally efficient. I usually think of what I'm making tomorrow while making tonight's dinner. Case in point, while I was stuffing my turkey thighs the other night, I went ahead and took those same fresh amazing herbs already out, lemon and tons of garlic and added orange juice to start marinating these chicken legs overnight. Then the next day, I had this amazing fall off the bone stewed chicken with very little effort.

Why does a woman do three things at once. Because she can.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Sun's Not Yellow It's Chicken

Spin Magazine called Red Hook salty and wild; a vestige. There is a lot to that, but way beyond the underground artist scene. The real tenants of that neighborhood are far more interesting than a line of hipsters waiting to pay $20 to learn to play the washboard. I always felt Red Hook was a bit Emperor's New Clothes-ish. That's just me.

I used to love coming here on bike before they built the blue & yellow prison where I do time each week. But get a day off and there I go, right back to it. The new bike paths join up the Brooklyn Bridge Park to Red Hook, although it ends abruptly with no warning and you look up and there you are, nowhere. But its so nice to be able to get to nowhere so close to everywhere. Sometimes you just need to get to a quiet spot and Red Hook has a bunch of those.

And IKEA's pristine promenade is fun to sit and look out unto the big ships and stroll along the pier, look at the museum-like dry dock remnants, sit in their giant chairs.

But our destination is usually to watch the soccer matches and eat Central American food from the carts. I'm not sure if the best vendors jumped ship for the hipster flea market in Williamsburg and Fort Greene or they had to cut corners a bit but we noticed a small decline in the quality of our huaraches. Did we go to the wrong cart? I assume they've kept their positions.

The tortilla was cold, smaller and far less succulent than in previous years. In previous years we had to sort of stop talking whilst our eyes rolled back and our taste buds rejoiced in the flavors for the first 10 minutes of eating. We always had to talk about how good it was even though we'd say the same things each week. This year, we sort of felt it was no great shakes. The toppings were a little chintzy, I used to lose half on the ground with tons to spare. We washed them down with watermelon juice, which was still super refreshing, different cart.

I really hope we just got a bad batch or caught them at a bad time because it would be a big spiritual loss if suddenly their food was simply mediocre.

Watching soccer is very fun but the park is dusty with black soot I guess from the BQE? It's hotter than the devil's a-hole out there and sitting on the bleachers for any length of time gives you sunburn on the top of your head.

I do hope the food stays incredible, especially the huaraches. This burnt headed sweaty girl can't live on mouth watering pupusas alone.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Did You Ever Had to Make Up Your Mind

I'm off sugar for a month so my savory dishes really have to satisfy. Turkey Thighs slathered with herbed butter and packed between the skin with bread stuffing slow baked until the skin was crispy and the inside was juicy tender. Break out in song Jim, THIS IS A WINNER!

Made my cucumber tomato salad which is nothing new although I do have several variations. A little secret of mine is I put a dash of cayenne pepper and that with the dill in the yogurt packs a major flavor punch. Also a huge squeeze of lime on the tomatoes. This time I also added a big palm full of fresh shredded basil. The key to any salad like this is chopping it fresh with veggies at their peak. Duh, right?

The corn was 8 for $2 at Pathmark and I was so surprised how sweet and deeeelicious it was already. I did an herbed butter on that!

I was having a hard time deciding what to make for this so called 'Last Supper' and if by some freak chance this old Charlatan was actually on to something I figured Thanksgiving turkey would be a fitting meal. But since I don't like to waste food, I just made two thighs since there would be no leftovers eaten.

I'm Stuck in Fulton (Street) Prison and Time Keeps Dragging On

This week was a little low key in the creative cooking department. The transition back to nowheresville is a sad and lonely walk so there was some weak moments. We need fun things to look forward to in life or the day to day grind is much too grueling and mundane. But one must find ways of coping. Sometimes you have to celebrate life even when all you can see is bleak miserable Monday coming your way. Poor some beer on it, I say. That always seems to work but when you've exhausted that option, like me it means semi-decadent food. You do what you do to get by in the world and as long as no one is getting hurt, vices are understandable and permissible.

If eating amazing affordable take-out Thai food gets our asses to prison on Monday than I say how soon can they deliver?

Kang Kyo Whan Koong - shrimp with eggplant, bamboo shoots, peppers and carrots in a green coconut curry sauce.
and mixing it up we tried Nuur Kraprow - sauteed sliced beef with peppers , cabbage, carrots and onions in a chili basil sauce.
Appetizer - Fried Tiger Shrimp Rolls in Plum sauce

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Nobody Does It Better, Makes Me Feel Sad for the Rest

When we visited Nashville a couple of weeks ago I was most excited about our potential culinary adventures. I knew we'd hit some dives and some fast food. It became apparent pretty quick though that unless we actually settled somewhere and didn't just drive through towns we'd be forced to do fast food or a chain dinner house, which seemed real odd to me. Could we actually go into a Chili's or a Red Lobster type establishment having been to the crossroads?

In my mind we were eating our way up an imaginary roller coaster and the big thrill ride at the end was going to be this Nashville BBQ. Mind you, we were in and out of that city before most people woke up BUT we both did some research and you have to trust the web at some point. We reached the same conclusion, that Jack's BBQ on Broadway was supposed to carry the town's treasure. And so to Jack's we went. And like I mentioned, it was very descent. Respectable BBQ indeed. No complaints.

But this is how spoiled we are food-wise anyway in New York City. Casually we went to brunch with our good friend the other day and picked the spot on the corner for a BBQ lunch. We're lucky enough to have a BBQ place on the corner, as well as a Thai, a Greek diner, a pizza parlor,a bar, an amazing burger spot and a few others. The Smoke Joint was..I'm gonna say it...better than Jack's. The smoked meat somehow was more tender, more juicy and more flavorful. The sauces, I'm gonna give those to Jack's, although Smoke Joint's are super good too. But the key to really good smoked meat is when you don't find yourself reaching for the sauces right away.

Side dish wise, I'm gonna have to give that to Smoke Joint as well because they have a kick ass Bed Stuy potato salad that rivals any, maybe even your moms. And seasoned fries that are crisp and small and go so well with the flavors. Their beans are incredible with chunks of sausage just in case you start missing the brawn, which you won't because they are TOO tasty.

Corn bread award goes to Jack's. Some of the best I've ever eaten. It wasn't too sweet, yet it was moist and delicious, I'd go on to say addictive. In fact just talking about it makes my mouth water.

We're always complaining about New York, rightfully so 'cause she's a big 'ole mean unrelenting muhthuh but one of the bonuses are that she has some of the most amazing food being cooked on thousands of corners around every borough. And so she may be mean, but that bitch sure can cook!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Who Run This Mother? (Girls)!

I bought some pork cutlets, not enough to do much with. We had amazing take out Thai, then those Asian lettuce wraps so it seemed right to keep the flavors East and try a stir fry.
Baby portabella and shiitake mushrooms along with a head of large bok choy, onions, ginger and garlic gave the strips of pork lots of encouragement and support. This recipe ( was easy and something you could change up as you felt. I used pork instead of chicken.

Stir fry make you feel like you can do anything, make any ingredients fit together. You get that heat going and there's no time for second guessing yourself. With a little drop of this or that the whole thing comes together at the end.

I control very little in my life. I can barely ensure that I run properly and timely, let alone anyone else. In the kitchen though, I feel the satisfaction of building on an idea, preparing the food, cutting the vegetables to the right sizes, administering the spices, herbs and seasonings, setting the proper heat, choosing the right pan, understanding the timing, and finally tasting what I had imagined in my mind.

Once in awhile it actually works and I am not just a retailer coworker in an ugly yellow shirt but an amazing kick-ass can-do creative cooking She Ra!