Monday, April 30, 2012

Great Balls of Fire

Mexican turkey meatballs. Had some leftover corn and black bean salad so I mixed it with ground turkey, spices and bread crumbs, an egg to form small meatballs.

Finished cooking those off in a canned fire roasted tomato sauce with green chiles. Served over Orecchiette pasta. Flavorful stuff! I have a hard time not OD'ing on pasta. I get in a trance and must eat large amounts until I can't see straight. It's like a sedative or knock out drug. So to combat that urge I put just enough heat in the sauce and balls to make it hard to overload. One small portion did the trick.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

There's Been a Change, Yeah There's Been A Change of Heart

At PathMark there are some Latin cheeses that for my budget are a bit too high priced to experiment on unless they're on sale. I am glad they have them but I wish they were more affordable on a regular basis. I've wondered if they are worth the full ticket price. I mean really good cheese is expensive too but when you eat it, its taste is so far superior than the crap we usually melt down and digest.

As a matter of fact, I was all ready to start bashing this so called Authentic Latin cheese company out in Jersey, called Tropical. Then I read about the owner and he seems like a real nice Cuban man that just likes cheese and runs an honest business. Its simply the processes that change for making Latin cheeses so I guess the location isn't as important? And looking in the fridge, it seems there have been recent sales sufficient for me to purchase the Oaxacan style string cheese, the aged Cotija and the finally the Queso de Freir. So I shut my pie hole and made a nice pan-roasted grape tomato salad featuring fried chunks of this cheese. A baked pork chop as the main. The cheese could have been even better tossed in seasoned bread crumbs and it did keep it's shape. Almost like tofu.

Pretty good. But I wouldn't say any of these cheeses were special due to their flavor as much as their texture. Would I buy them again? Yes actually. I already have some ideas for new dishes. They're different enough to freshen up some old favorites but yet versatile enough to add almost anywhere because they are so mild.

Just Beet It

As soon as you eat something really healthy and earthy you realize just how amazing food can be in another way. You get a pure divine sensation. Different than say a slice of pizza or a quarter pounder even though those are instantly gratifying. I'd imagine like porn versus real love making. I'd imagine.

Warm roasted beet salad with feta cheese. So simple yet out of this world and I am not kidding about this one. Serve it over micro greens dressed with lemon juice, garlic and olive oil, s&p. A good toasted bread would make this a meal. I could not believe all that intense flavor came through those simple ingredients.

Love Won't Let Me Wait

They made it official, they put a big sign next door on the yogurt shop that now serves pizza. Lean Crust Pizza. Pizza lives next door to me. Right next door! Its almost too much to handle. Who could resist? Don't they know I love pizza in that scary unsound kind of way?

The good thing is that its thin crust, its real mozzarella and they don't make super huge oily slices. So in my head I can file it as 'healthy' pizza. And for that reason I didn't feel as bad when I was forced to grab two slices to drag back to my cave and devour back with a mini Coke chaser.

Give a Little Bit of Your Time To Me

Breakfast. Poached eggs with turkey sausage and thin sliced stove top potatoes. Nothing new here. The main difference is that I felt the need to bring the meal to an actual table instead of on our laps or while staring at a computer screen or the television.

I set up the plates and juice at our little table and waited for the resistance. There was a bit of a struggle. Questions like why? What the hell? What's this all about? Do we have to talk?

And honestly, I don't even know why I wanted to eat at the table. I think I just wanted to save my new bedspread from spills. But it was different sitting at that table. If the computers are gone and you face your partner, you do end up talking and even acting differently. P looked uncomfortable like he does at restaurants and had better manners. He looked at me when I was talking, possibly even listening. I realized that there is something to this eating together thing. And I like it.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Nothing You Can Make That Can't Be Made

Green Onions in the wok alter their flavor from fresh and raw to vibrant, alive and what I imagine the color green would actually taste like. First of all I love green onions. They remind me of Indiana and my mother. I eat them raw with salt in their entirety, no problem. Green onions are a happy food.

Canned beans have replaced much of the white rice and pastas for me this year. I'm trying to get that gratification and fullness but also the nutrition. The high fiber and protein also let me feel full but not get the couch lock of the pasta carbs.

Wok cooking has also been a weeknight savior. As long as you enjoy what you're throwing in that hot pot it almost doesn't matter the mix. And again, you don't need to add much to make it all come together. This is my take on a quick ham and beans.

Friday, April 27, 2012

If You're Ever in a Jam, Here I Am

I've gushed and gushed but now here I go, gushing some more. I love, love, love my pizza stone. It's my little buddy in the kitchen.

When I don't know what to make but just want something nutritious but lots of flavor, I throw it all on my pizza stone and wait 20 minutes for amazing.

The same way I'm sure I man feels about his grill if you're lucky enough to live where you have a slice of yard. Here in the city though, you have to be creative. My pizza stone roasts, grills, chars and gives my foods that rustic tastes that you normally could not accomplish indoors. It's like the power booster for my little barbie oven to achieve the heat it normally can not accomplish.

Chicken sausage with asparagus, potatoes, onions and tomatoes over mixed greens. The sweetness and juiciness of those roasted tomatoes is heaven on earth. Eating fresh produce roasted at its peak with nothing but its true flavor, a little salt takes you to church so to speak. Amen!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why Me Lord?

I say this now to you and the world. I am not worthy to have been blessed with all the good food that I've eaten here on this earth. I know this to be true. I never would have dreamed I could someday phone in this meal I'm eating today for a very small amount of money and feel the tremendous satisfaction and joy, the excitement and wonderment.

Foods here in New York can be like the great paintings from Da Vinci, Michelangelo, El Greco. And I'm just talking the neighborhood spots, not even the high end Chef restaurants. These cooks are cranking out treasures, classics, gems... daily and for cheap! They are masterpieces and yet a dumb shlep like me can just call up and within minutes be enjoying it in my dirty sweats and Target bunny socks.

I don't have money or material things, just enough to barely get by usually. But I've been rich in flavor opportunities and variety of foods. I've done nothing to deserve any of this pleasure. I've only wished for it and it came. For that I'll be forever grateful.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Here Comes the Sun(ga)

Don't ask me from where but in my bedroom window floats in the most delicious smells each night of all kinds of foods. We should smell barbecue, pizza or Central American food because those are the closest restaurants. But instead we sometimes smell curries. And it leaves you with the deepest cravings for great Indian food. Tonight despite my fear of attempting ethnic foods, I got right in that kitchen and proceeded to make a super solid effort at an unnamed curry dish just based off the aromas.
The colors were all so purrrdy, almost guiding my hands to include the red tomatoes and the bright green spinach to the pork and chick peas. Lots of chili oil and shaky shakes of tumeric, curry powder, garlic and cumin until my eyes said 'time to plate'!
A squirty squirt of lemon and some Jasmine rice to soak up some of that deeee-licious sauce.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Pretty On the Inside

After the pizza weakness, we went directly to a healthy light meal the next night. You feel you need a cleansing after a meal like that.

I did a pretty spring green dish in the wok with chopped Napa cabbage, canned white great northern beans, steamed edemame and shredded chicken. It was pretty to look at and healthy to eat.

Salt and lots of black pepper was all it really needed for seasoning.

For a little kick we added a nice dollop of Sriracha sauce, that nice red garlic chile sauce with the rooster on the bottle. Don't have a bottle in your fridge right now? This is a gotta have it item. It tastes good on everything similar to Frank's or Tabasco sauce but better because its more bold in flavor with the garlic. Get it or regret it.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Regrets, I've Had a Few

Pizza shame. Hey, we're not above it. They make these deals that no man is strong enough to pass up. Even in New York where you have the best pizza. We have a pizza place that sells slices on the corner AND right next door now and its good pizza, thin slices, what we like.

How lazy can you get? I'll tell you. Even putting on your pants and going next door is a hassle you sometimes require to avoid. Domino's lets you go on-line. You order without talking to a soul. Magically a man appears at your door 20 minutes later with hot boxes of edible satisfaction. We tried the Artisan pizza with thin salami but also got the regular thin crust as a back up. Really tasty but on the back end...didn't sit well. There was some funny flavored oil almost mayonnaise taste that lingered in the gut and started setting fires.

The coupon deal allowed a chicken side, so....

Judge not, lest ye be judged!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Won't You Smile Awhile For Me

Brunch in Clinton Hill with our friend J. We didn't know but it seems brunch has become a thing out here. There are so many great spots all over Brooklyn to have brunch and there are competing menu deals to make it fun, including drinks.

My friend M at work spoke to me about an all you can drink fixed price brunch on 5th Avenue. When I asked how many drinks can someone drink at noon, she said her highest was 8. That's not brunch, that's a bender. She's a wreck.

Anyway we went to Maggie Brown where the service was so pleasant. We had an especially sweet waitress and host. We sat outside and enjoyed our first al fresco dining experience of the year. I love these little backyard patios because it's all sort of Alice in Wonderland feeling back there. Apartments on all sides and up the side walls so you can peak at the back end of what you never see of these blocks. But in that little patio they create a tiny world for you to sit back, enjoy the sun and actually relax as though the hustle bustle of the sidewalks in front is not happening.

J ordered the corned beef hash and eggs. It came with a little homemade biscuit and some interesting looking flavored butter or jam, I forgot to ask. But a huge portion and from what I heard, pretty tasty.

For what reason I can't remember but me and P stuck to cheeseburgers and fries instead of being adventurous and trying one of the great brunch options. But the burgers were great and we loved them. I'd love to go again.

Good friendly service is worth so much and in a town where smiles are an anomaly, I find myself craving a friendly face just as much as a good egg.

Friday, April 20, 2012

This is the End Beautiful Friend

It's the end of the ham, the post Easter baked smoked ham that I slow baked all night in my little Barbie oven. We've reached the bone. It's like the carcass of a wildebeest and we're the lions lying around licking our chops.

I froze the bone and some big chunks to use for the split pea soup finale. I used my freshly made stock that I poached the chicken thighs in along with root vegetables and spices.
This was a super rich soup and since the smoked ham wasn't as salty, you really tasted the pea. We've had way too much ham but I have to say it was so incredible that you just couldn't help yourself. This soup didn't even need the croutons.

When it Comes to Eats Well I'm the Fiend, I Like My Sugar With Coffee and Cream

We were off the chicken for a month or so but with thighs for $5 a family pack, it would be a crime not to take them. I baked half and poached the others also making a nice rich stock.

My sister had mentioned she had pulled BBQ chicken sandwiches from her deli and that sounded so good. But I forgot I had no BBQ sauce. Like pizza sauce, like many sauces, its easy to whip up your own but you forget just how easy.

First I made a quick roux in my cast iron pan with flour and oil and I toasted up cumin seed, chili and cumin powder. Then I added some chicken stock, orange juice and whisked that. Added a splash of red wine vinegar and a couple tablespoons of ketsup, salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder and let it heat to bubbling. Robust and Amazingly simple.

For that extra umphh I added chunks of pineapple to the shredded chicken into the sauce and let it all marry before piling it on my toasted potato rolls. I don't suck tonight!! This dear friend is a winner! The way the heat of the BBQ sauce lights up when you chew into the sweet juicy pineapple and then get a bite of the roasted spicy chunks of chicken. And the comforting soft slightly toasted potato roll blankets each bite and mellows it all out.

Using my Cuisinart for ease I also made a Red Cabbage Green Apple slaw with carrots and red onion dressed just with EVOO and red wine vinegar and a little sugar. Perfect match.

I don't even want to look on the web and see if someone has thought of this already, the pulled chicken with pineapple. For tonight I want to believe that I alone came up with this winning combo. I'm out of this world, intergalactic, dyno-mite! Thank you, thank you. No, please, sit.