Sunday, August 31, 2014

El Toro Stewed Chicken Salad

Take out chicken salads from El Toro with hummus and bed. yeah.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

It's That Pivotal Moment, It's Perpetual Bliss

Isn't that a weird tree?  It seems out of Whoville.
Breakfast was out of a storybook too.  So yes at first it appeared impossible but last night's Mexican Smothered Pork Chops were improved upon this morning for a breakfast extravaganza!  For easier morning digestion, I added the pinto beans in with the sauce, and the leftover pork chops were reheated underneath to make them even more tender.... and then..... poached eggs on top!
You're welcome!!!
The lettuce, onion tomato on the side like a true restaurant breakfast plate.
I was kind of beside myself again, just tickled pink and struck by the sublimity of the dish as a whole.
There are several various types of pleasure a cook gets from preparing meals.  If I use all my produce and not waste, that's an accomplishment because I'm not squandering money regardless of if the food was great. When I invent something, I get a chip that can erase one of the thousand voices in my head screaming that I am a piece of shite. When I make dinner and I like it, that is satisfying.  When I love it, it can be euphoric.  When the person you're cooking for loves it and you love it too, and in your mind you know other people would love it, it almost transcends normal satisfaction and branches into some sort of zen peace of mind or bliss, no matter how fleeting.  It's pretty damn cool.

Friday, August 29, 2014

When I Think About You I Touch Myself

You know how sometimes you cook and what is on the plate is a lot less pretty than you had imagined in your mind?  And then other times you make something with such intent that somehow magically, it comes together even better!?
I've made this Mexican Smothered Pork for real and in my mind even more times. I invented it, meaning I conceived it in my mind. I didn't find it in a recipe even though I'm sure someone has written one out there.  It's always been good but either I dressed it with too much sauce or didn't get the pork chop just right underneath.  This time the consistency was right on, along with the amount.  The pork chop itself was perfectly seasoned and cooked to perfection, meaning to have a bit of a char on the outside for the sauce to really pop and then tender meat on the inside.  Topped with cold iceberg lettuce, tomato and onion, a wee bit of cilantro and a squeeze of lime.
This was accompanied by simple pinto beans made with just fresh chopped 'penos and Chili lime seasoning.
This dish made me silent for a moment and I was just touched by it's flawlessness.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

No More, No More

67 Burger. The forbidden fruit.  This now has a name, cheat days.  My dad told me he now has them on his Paleo diet.  I like it.  Give something a name and it gives relevance.  I worked five days in a row with a couple of 'clopens' in there, closing late shift followed by an opening shift.  Those are hard but if I get through them, feel as if I've really worked one long shift but two days have passed.  I think it's a form of retail brain washing.  Now, I barely make it through 3 days in a row without a day off let alone five because we're asked not to sit while working on the sales floor and the floors are concrete.  We do some physical work and lots of walking around. You'd think we'd all be in great shape but you know customer service and sales generates a lot of stress and anxiety, not to mention indigestion.
To get to that fifth day I needed to invent a dangling carrot.  That reward was to be curly fries, a cheeseburger and a chocolate vanilla milk shake from 67 Burger.  It was like blasting out of the doors on the last day of school before a long summer, like getting out of jail and your friend picking you up in a boss ride with your favorite music playing, it was being tired and burnt out and someone bringing you a cheeseburger, fries and a shake!!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Oh Won't You Show Me the Way, Everyday

I forget where I picked up these ingredients for a salad but I just had an email to self that read: artichoke hearts, onion, black olives, feta, lemon and chicken.  I predict there will be a tv chef that becomes famous by communicating recipes in a new way, such as a simple list of ingredient combinations like this.  This chef will appeal to home cooks like me that don't want a science lesson necessarily just to get dinner made.  But they do want fresh ideas.  They're working with much of same players each week so it's easy to get in a creative slump.  Many folks are getting more exotic products in their local grocery stores so they can experiment but need foundation building blocks.  For me, it's like I want a Garanimal system of cooking for all kinds of cuisine.  I learned this idea from the Mexican-American fundamentals at my mom and dad's restaurant.  You almost can't screw up, they all taste good together in a myriad of unions.  Salsa, lettuce, meat, torts, beans, rice, avocado.  How many dishes could you make with that small list?  Lots!
I truly admire real professional schooled chefs and love to learn from their dishes but for me, realistically, day to day, I'm a home cook that loves to eat, can't afford lots of expensive items, and have limited time to prepare.  But not just that, depending on the season, mood, time of day, etc, I can decide how I want to prepare them, I just need the basic concepts.  
So I took sliced chicken breast, marinated it in lemon juice, oregano and garlic and charred it up on my Emeril grill pan.
In a large bowl I thin-sliced my sweet Vidalia onion, chopped Moroccan oil-cured olives, capers, artichoke hearts and mixed baby greens and dressed with lots of fresh squeezed lemon juice and olive oil, salt and pepper.
Crumbled feta cheese goes next and honestly, this alone would be such a nice fresh salad but I needed this to be dinner so I added the sliced grilled chicken.

This might be fun as a phone App or computer game of sorts.  Players get the daily combo lineup and decide how to put it together, maybe share their pics via a food instagram!  Jazz hands!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Asian Patty and Veggetti Sesame Noodles

To go along with my leftover sesame 'noodle' side, I made an asian burger with garlic, fresh ginger, soy, chopped bamboo shoots and onions.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

It's Getting to the Point, Where I'm No Fun Anymore

I insist we watch all the Country Music Award shows because it's like getting a peek into a hidden universe.  It makes me feel all tickly inside.  Everyone is so dern patriotic and many of the songs are so literal with matching videos in case it wasn't blatantly obvious otherwise.  You gotta wonder if most of these new bucks  have even driven a real pick-up truck or ever made a girl in the backseat of anything.  The accents are a bit put on but that is one of the enjoyable parts.  Before the producers went the way of the Carrie Underwood, Reba Mcentire would host and that little lady would give it her all.  You sorta knew she tried her very best.  She certainly couldn't smile any bigger.  My personal favorite is when she goes all rock and roll, complete with black garb and what Reba considers, hard licks.  This birthed the term giving it the full Reba.  You know who also always gives the full Reba?  Tom Cruise.  And my cat monkey when she sleeps.
Have you ever really watched Tom Cruise run in movies?  It's intense.  Profoundly, hysterically serious.  That man does not disappoint!  He's got a whole thing going with his hands in a straight chop position.  There are entire video montages dedicated to his run. He moves robotically as he builds speed and usually reaches a point where it almost seems he may run clean out of his own body.  And his face is not taking a break during all of this, no sireee. It's fully engrossed in the action.  Full Reba action.  
I was eating breakfast in bed this morning and noticed how my cat monkey really gets full on into her sleep positions.  She never holds back and I admire that about her.  Again, she's giving it the full Reba.  See, this is what you concentrate on when you don't have kids.  I always tell Gay Mike (let me explain....there are about 20 Mikes in the store that I work with so eventually I have to start sorting them into categories and by the way, there is a Gay Mike 2, the asshole and a Straight Mike, the asshole, so I don't discriminate).  Anyway, I always tell Gay Mike that you're never truly pathetic until you start sharing pictures of your cat with everyone (like he does).  Doh!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Every Time I'm Near Ya, I Get that Urge to Peel ya

The first time I tasted Sesame Peanut Noodles it was at a block party on State Street.  My landlord whipped up her batch late after most dishes were out already.  The presentation was modest so I wasn't expecting much but they were such a dream!  I was shocked.  Coincidentally I was sporting my own trademark Whacky Guacky recipe fresh that day with charred chorizo chunks and grilled corn.  It was on the money and some of the neighbors even took the time to come tell me while we were sitting on the stoop.  I was quite proud.  But then Leslie's noodles all humble sitting there was a great reminder that food can be brilliant on so many levels.  The peanut butter, ginger, the garlic, the sesame oil and crunchy peanuts, I mean it was just so right up my alley.  And spaghetti noodles to boot.  A girl's best friend.

Well thanks to my Veggetti, I can have this dish again!  And God bless 'em, they have a recipe right in the package.  
I added snow peas and chicken to mine only because I was famished and needed a one pot meal.  I also used peanut butter powder that my sister M sent me, (she also sent Bacon salt, the best thing ever!, another post).  That made the sauce a bit runny but just as tasty. I did a mash-up recipe using Emeril's and the simpler Veggetti concoction.  So awesome.  Words fail.  Now every time I see a zucchini I wonder what my next discovery will bring using my Veggetti!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Now That I Have Found Ya, How Did I Live Without You (I Don't Know Baby)

Eggplant has not been my favorite, nor has it been any kind of familiar item in my kitchen.  Anything that you need to cut and then put on paper towels to salt and bleed out the liquid always sounded way too laborious to me.  Foo foo unnecessary silliness with food, I am not a fan.  But PathMark had them for a dollar.  Huge ginormous eggplant for a dollar!  And it came with two green bell peppers for another forty nine cents.  Who can argue with that logic?  Sense would tell you to get two but I knew it would be a miracle if I got one made before it went bad.  Once in a blue moon P speaks coherent sentences and something stuck a long time ago.  He said, if you get an idea, do it right then, don't put it off otherwise it will never get done.  And so many of my brilliant designs have done exactly that, gone the way of the dinosaur.
So I was baking a whole chicken that night and the oven was to be on already.  Roasting this monster would be my best bet.  The web said to score it, season it well, drizzle in oil and face it down on a roasting sheet for 45 minutes.
And that is just what I did and not only was it roasty, toasty caramelized on the outside but it was soft and juicy delicious on the inside.  You could scoop it out bite by bite with the scoring and to my surprise we ate the whole thing.
The revelation was this gentle giant did not need a bunch of prep work and I did not need to drown it in oil.  I just sprayed it with my Misto oil spritzer before and when it came out of the oven, spritzed it again with a good tasting EVOO right before serving and a squirt of lime.  Eggsalent!  So good I plant stand it! Thank you, I'll be here all week!