November 24, 2010
I’ve ,missed YOU!
And while I’m blogging my thankful little heart out over on eGullet, I can’t put quite as much of “me” into those posts. I mean, those folks, unlike y’mama ‘n ‘em, just want to hear about food.
So for food stuff, go here:
For other slings and arrows and various vicissitudes (isn’t that a LOVELY word???), you can check here, particularly as I ought to have a bit more time to write tomorrow and over the weekend, amidst shopping and football and basketball and other assorted fun stuff.
Two noteworthy incidents of the week: the great turkey debacle, and the great chili ripoff.
Every year, our crew participates in the Downtown Merchants Association Chili Cookoff. This year was no different. Now, bear in mind, we have won the best decorated booth for the past three years in a row, and won best non-traditional chili last year. This year, we were primed to defend both our crowns.
First, the booth:
This sucker was a work of art. Art, I’m telling you. (And Your Faithful Cook/Blogger did not look too shabby in her boots and cowboy hat, herownself, either.)
October 15, 2010
You know, I love my job. I love to travel. I just don’t like to do a whole lot of it in one big clump, as I’m in the process of right now. Two trips down, one to go, and I will have been away from home for 15 of the first 20 days of October.
OH, BUT BEFORE I GET INTO THAT: I AM ONCE AGAIN A FINALIST IN A FOOD 52 COMPETITION. PLEASE GO TO WWW.FOOD52.COM, CLICK ON CONTESTS, AND VOTE FOR MY MARINATED CAULIFLOWER! I would just be insufferably proud of myself if I could win twice, and get in two successive cookbooks.
Assorted travel notes:
In ‘n Out Burger. Good fast food burger. Possibly the best fast food burger I’ve had since Back Yard Burgers was a fairly new concept and still did decent beef. It’s a thin patty; get a double if you want lots o’ beef. Comes standard with tomato, lettuce, pickle, a sauce that’s remniscent of good homemade Thousand Island. Can get it with a slab of grilled onion. Bun is flat enough to be manageable.
It was good. I wouldn’t throw it out. Meat was decidedly of the highest quality I’ve ever had at a fast food restaurant. Veggie were fresh. Sauce was spicy. Onion could’ve been grilled longer. But at the end of the day, it’s a fast food burger.
Albeit the No. 2 combo (single cheeseburger, medium drink, fries) will run you $5.15 including tax. That ain’t bad.
Elsewhere on the culinary landscape in Arizona….after that absolutely To Die For steak on Saturday night, my host-with-the-most, John, made enchiladas for us on Sunday night. John can make enchiladas for me any day, I might add. Thusly:
The shrimp got an hour-long soak in a marinade of tomatillos, jalapenos, onion and cilantro, all whirred up in the FoPro. Then they and their marinade, which was left somewhat chunky, got a quick sear in a hot skillet. And when they got cooled down, they got lined up in corn tortillas (softened for a few seconds on a side in a hot skillet with oil), topped with a strip of jalapeno, a sprinkle of green chiles, a few onions, a sprinkle of cheese, and rolled.
Chicken got the grocery rotissere chicken, boned, plus the jalapeno-chiles-onion-cheese trimmings. Shrimp got canned green sauce, chicken got canned red sauce. They got about 45 minutes in the oven, and they were some fine enchiladas, I am here to testify. They were near-bout in Sweet Baby Jesus territory, and likely would have been had I not had a touch more tequila than I ought to have had the night before (because John makes SUCH a stinkin’ good maragarita), and my stomach was not as happy as it might have been.
Oh. The margaritas? Herradura tequila. Margarita mix. Triple Sec. Chambord. And a wedge o’ lime. They’ll hurt you, they’re so good.
Here would be Chef John with the finished product. His wife, Nancy, is a fortunate woman. But then, he didn’t do so bad, either.
Other than that, it was a relatively uninteresting week, culinarily. Beef medallions at the banquet Wednesday night. Junk food on the plane Thursday. Heavy hors d’oueves at the receptions Monday and Tuesday. And I took NS out to eat at the Purple Cow tonight.
August 3, 2010
This, I am sorry to report, was not all that exceptional. Just OK.
This, on the other hand, was freakin’ awesome. Yes, we’re talking Sweet Baby Jesus territory. We’re talking “Damn, I’m good!” We’re talking I want to take a bath in this sauce.
May 27, 2010
Go to the Food 52 website, www.food52.com, and vote for this:
This would be my “Bell-less, Whistle-less, Damn Good French Toast,” which has only three ingredients, none of which are good for you if you have cholesterol problems, but which combine to make the best French toast you have ever consumed, I promise.
For the second time in my Food52 career of six months, I’m a finalist. I didn’t win last time; I would really, really like to do so this time. If I win, the recipe gets published in a cookbook, and that would make me feel really important.
And you love me and want me to feel important, don’t you?
So go to the website, sign up if you haven’t, and cast your vote for my recipe. Pretty-please. And then go find you some good Challah, and make you and y’mama ‘n em some of this stuff for breakfast over the long weekend because is is, in fact, Damn Good French Toast.
January 5, 2010
As any of you who’ve read much of this blog know, I’m a confirmed experimenter when it comes to recipes. Thus, I discovered this one during some of my flirtations with North African cuisine. And as it’s couscous dish competition time over on http://www.food52.com, I figured I’d tweak it just a little bit and have it with couscous, and if it’s as good as I think it’s going to be, I’ll enter it. (If not, I’ll fall back on one I know to be a good one.)
October 6, 2009
First Tuesday or the month, and that means it’s time for Michelle’s Tight Ass Tuesday competition over at http://www.Thursdaynightsmackdown.com.
This month’s challenge: Fusion cooking. Combine two disparate cuisines, the disparate-er the better, in a single under-five-bucks dinner.
I give you: Udon carbonara with honey-miso roasted vegetables!
I can now testify that the Japanese and the Italians, as interpreted by a Southern cook, get along pretty well.
July 7, 2009
I was all prepped and ready for the Tight-Ass Tuesday challenge, successor to the Hobo Monday challenge on http://www.thursdaynightsmackdown.com. Until I read today’s reminder and was duly reminded the theme was picnic food. So I’ll just delay my pork quesadillas, using some of the leftover pork from Sunday, until later, and offer this instead:
Which I will hereby term “Central Avenue Asian Burritos.”
June 1, 2009
OK, y’all. See, it’s like this.
Michelle, over at Thursday Night Smackdown (www.thursdaynightsmackdown.com), has thrown down this gauntlet as part of her Hobo Mondays thread, which thread involves cooking dinner for two for under five bucks’ worth of ingredients, excluding pantry staples. Which I can do standing on my head whistling God Bless America and tapping my toes on the sink, and make you like it.
And then the heifer goes and changes rules on me. But NOOOOOO, this week, the very first week I am going to officially compete, it’s THREE bucks for a two-person menu!
U’mm h’mm, thank you, drive through. Look, sistah, I raised three kids as a single parent. I know from cheap. Many’s the night I fed the four of us beans and rice, and they loved it, and still do (particularly with smoked sausage and leftover chicken and ham in it). And I can whip up a pretty mean quiche, a basic tuna-noodle casserole, and chicken spaghetti that they begged for. All of which would feed four of us for under five bucks, given the basics I always had in the pantry. Not to mention mac and cheese, because my kids didn’t care if you fed them anything else as long as you fed them mac and cheese as long as it was my homemade variety, and chili mac was always good for a change.
But that was then, and I don’t cook for three kids any more, and much of that was with packaged mixes and timesavers and none of it was of the tastes to which my adult and better financially set palate has adapted itself. So three bucks was a freakin’ challenge, OK? And since I still have Child C here at home, and since she still thinks my mac and cheese is the epitome of haute cuisine (it’s pretty damn good, I must admit), my “meal for two” constitutes a meal for me with leftovers I can take to work for lunch in a day or so.
So, all that said — I originally thought whether or not this meal qualifies depends on how Michelle treats the issue of leftovers, because this one was built around a leftover grilled tuna filet which someone didn’t show up to eat on Saturday. If I get a break on that, I’m in; if not, I’m over the three-buck limit even if you eliminate the side salad. Deal with it. If you were here to eat dinner with me, you’d say it’s worth it. This is some Damn Fine Stuff, and I will be making it again. Frequently. As in all summer. You could sub a thin-sliced or diced chicken breast filet and get the same effect, and could, in fact, add all sorts of neat stuff as the notion struck you.
Kudos, once again, to Mark Bittman, my kitchen hero. This was a recipe of his I snatched out of the NY Times and added stuff to. Because, you know, Mark’s never steered me wrong. Man can COOK. He can write recipes, too.
Without further ado, my el-cheapo main dish version of
CITRUS RICE SALAD WITH GRILLED TUNA
1 1/2 to 2 cups any rice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed citrus juice, or more to taste (lemon, lime, orange, tangerine, grapefruit, or a combination)
2 tablespoons grated citrus zest
1 tablespoon sugar or honey
1 cup chopped citrus flesh (or whole segments, if small)
1/2 large red or mild white onion, minced
1/4 lb. grilled tuna filet, flaked
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup or more grated Parmesan
Chopped almonds or pecans, optional
1. Cook rice in abundant salted water, as you would pasta, until it’s just done; white rice will take 10 to 15 minutes, brown 30 or a little longer. Drain, rinse in cold water, drain again, then put in a large bowl.
2. Combine olive oil, citrus juice, zest, sugar or honey, salt and pepper in a blender and turn the machine on; a creamy emulsion will form within 30 seconds. Taste and add more citrus juice a teaspoon or two at a time until the balance tastes right to you.
3. Drizzle vinaigrette over rice. Use 2 big forks to combine, fluffing rice and tossing gently to separate grains. Stir in citrus flesh, onion, tuna and mint; taste, and adjust the seasoning or moisten with a little more dressing. Serve, sprinkled with Parmesan and chopped nuts, at room temperature, or refrigerate for up to a day, bringing salad back to room temperature before serving.
This, my friends, is some FINE stuff. Sufficient unto itself for a meal; I had a tomato, and I had mozzarella, so I added a caprese salad, because I will eat caprese salads at any excuse. I’ve got a gracious plenty to take to lunch tomorrow. And I opened a bottle of Robert Mondavi Fume Blanc, because I could.
Life is good.
Rice — I used 1 1/2 cups, $1.89 for a two-pound bag, so maybe, what, 20 cents?
Citrus — three limes, at 3/$1, provided everything I needed, albeit I was a tad short of the full cup of chopped flesh. I sprinkled with a little sugar. too. $1.
Onion — I’d almost call it a pantry staple, but I used a quarter of a big Vidalia, and sauteed it slightly to sweeten it. At 89 cents a pound, call it 30 cents.
Tomato, 50 cents
4 1/2 ounce slices fresh Mozzarella, at 8.99 a pound, $1.25 or so.
Salt, pepper, olive oil, honey and the balsamic vinegar for the salad, pantry staples.
Mint and the basil for the salad, out of my pots of herbs on the deck. I gave up two mojitos for that salad. It was worth it.
I contend the tuna should not count, as it was a leftover. If it does, it was $2.25 for a quarter-pound and I am Over The Limit for the two dishes (but still well under the $5, I might note.)
For a grand total of…….. (drum roll, please)
$1.50 for two salads, without the side caprese; $3.25 with.
No photos because I’m still cameraless, a condition to be remedied this week when my new Olympus E-Volt 420 DSLR arrives!
Y’all tell y’mama ‘n ‘em to make that salad when they’ve got company coming. You can afford to feed a Baptist preacher and his flock on that kind of cheap.