Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A renewed commitment to food...

...and, I suppose, to food blogging.

The harsh winter months are (hopefully) long gone, and with them the lethargy that had overtaken me. Get bent, old man winter. Summer is here. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wok out with my...

Aka "Cooking with friends"

Our friend Jen came over for dinner last night, so in honor of her semi-Asian rearing (long story), we decided it was time to pull out the last unused wedding gift — our electric wok.

I have never used one of these things, and the instructions make it sound absolutely terrifying (the sheer number of pages devoted to avoiding an eruption of boiling peanut oil calls to mind that special episode of "Rescue 911" about burn victims).

Alas, no crisped, blistered skin necessitating a trip to the ER, just some delicious garlic chicken, which necessitated a short nap.

Garlic Chicken:
1 lbs boneless, skinless chicken parts
1 medium yellow onion, sliced paper thin
1 bunch green onions
1 pkg sliced mushrooms
1 lbs mung bean sprouts
2 bunches broccoli
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
hot chili paste
cooking wine or sherry (white)
peanut oil (for frying)

1. slice meat about into 1/4-inch thick strips (easiest when still just slightly frozen)
2. marinade meat with tbsp chili paste, 1/2 tbsp garlic, crushed, and a few tbsp wine for 30 min prior to cooking
3. prep all ingredients before cooking begins

Once all of your prep is done, heat the wok according to instructions and throw in your ingredients. Start with the meat, end with the sprouts and green onions. Done.

PS - We served ours over lo mein noodles.

My southern side

There are, from time to time, things that come up in my life that remind me just how southern I truly am.

Like, for instance, when I catch myself pronouncing "our" and "are" the same. Or when I am feeling ill, and all I want in the world is chicken and dumplings.

Since I am not a guy who has the patience for making my own stock or boiling a whole chicken for hours before I eat, my recipe takes some short cuts, but it still fits the bill.

Chicken and Dumplings:

1 large rotisserie chicken, meat stripped of skin and bones
2 medium onions
1 bunch of celery
2 tablespoons garlic
1/2 small bag baby carrots
2 quarts chicken stock
2 cups Bisquick mix, prepared according to biscuit recipe
salt and pepper
Cajun seasoning to taste

1. Finely chop onion, garlic, carrots and celery
2. Saute together in pot with a pinch of oil until onions are clear
3. Add broth and chicken, bring to a boil.
4. Mix Bisquick according to the biscuit recipe and drop 1/4 cupfulls of dough into boiling soup
5. Boil uncovered for 10 minutes, covered for an additional 10
6. Add Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper to taste
7. Feel better

*Note: if you want to butch up your stock, you can gently simmer the chicken bones and skin in there for an hour or so before you make the soup. Hell, add a bay leaf or the leafy parts of the celery, what do I care?

Monday, February 8, 2010

In honor of the Saints' Super Bowl victory

A little muffaletta, sort of.

Rather than consume a day's worth of calories in the form of cured meats and heavy bread, I decided to make a lighter substitute with the same NOLA spirit.

Daly's Almost Muffaletta (for two)

4 slices of hearty bread
4 slices of provolone cheese
4 tablespoons olive tapenade
1/4 pound shaved turkey breast
handful of arugula
tablespoon of olive oil (to grease the pan)

Layer as such: bread, cheese, olives, meat, arugula, cheese, bread.

Listen to me now and hear me later, keep the wet parts away from the bread. If you don't, your sandwich shalt be soggy.

Heat the oil until almost smoking, then plop those dudes in, browning both sides. Reduce the heat and cook until the middle is warm and the cheese is melted.


Eat at Elote

I work very literally just around the corner from this delightful little restaurant, so it seems only natural that I would end up there a lot. I mean, more often than not, convenience trumps quality (evidenced by my frequent flyer account at Papa John's).

But Elote isn't just convenient, it's absolutely delicious, satisfying, surprisingly healthy food. Dubbed "fresh mex" by its owner Libby, this food focuses on organic, locally grown ingredients and light, but still satisfying cuisine.

I often get the veggie burrito, stuffed with spinach, sweet potatoes and all sorts of goodies. As you can tell by the photo below, I can't get it down fast enough.

Some catching up to do

So I have been a little lazy about posting, but I'm new to the blogosphere, so cut me some slack. (luckily, the bachelor is on tonight, so I have some time to catch up)

Something else I was lazy about was getting to the grocery store, which left us in a strange — though not entirely unheard of in this household — predicament of having hunger pangs but no groceries to speak of.

So this is what it came down to, the emergency staples we keep laying around — frozen chicken, a large can of crushed tomatoes, a jar of minced garlic, a few cans of black beans, a quart of chicken stock and a premixed tortilla soup seasoning packet that we got from the vendor at the fair grounds flea market.

The icing on the cake? We actually had some shredded cheddar cheese and corn tortillas.

Thrown together, sure, but absolutely delicious.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The sandwich that brought my afternoon to a grinding halt

Yeah, the title was a pun, want to fight about it? If you did, you would probably win, because at the moment I am barely able to muster the energy to type.

My insides are filled to the brim with a Lou's Deli (5th and Main, downtown) grinder — ham, turkey, salami and roast beef topped with provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions and creamy italian dressing, all slathered across a monstrous roll of white bread. It is probably around two pounds of food, topped with chips and a drink. Clearly not much to look at, but inarguably the best-tasting sandwich downtown.

I always buy the large, sure that I will wrap up half of it to take home. The next thing I know, I'm sitting at my desk in my current state: greasy and slightly nauseated. All I can say is "worth it."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

And then there were ribs...

...and pulled pork, and home fries, and fried okra and genuine Luzianne sweet tea — one of my very favorite things.

And legendary boxer James "Quick" Tillis, the first man ever to go ten rounds with Mike Tyson, on location in full cowboy regalia every Wednesday from 11  a.m. to 3 p.m. shaking hands, signing autographs and eating ribs.

All of this, and more, at the fabulous, and apparently famous, Big Daddy's BBQ, located at 11th and Garnett.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Along the road to victory

"A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon."
— Napoleon Bonaparte

I'm not going to pretend trying to win a chili cook off is anything like trying to win a war, but you have to admit, it's a pretty solid metaphor.

Whether invading a foreign land or going after the title of best chili in Beaver, Okla., you start with a plan. You test and tweak that plan, battle after battle, batch after batch. And in both cases, some of your friends may die along the way.

OK, maybe not die, necessarily, but my recipe contains a full pound of bacon, so at the very least they are left bloated and useless.

My Italian sausage and white bean chili started as a recipe I found in an issue of Esquire, sandwiched between an article about Vince Vaughn and a full-page photo of some nearly-nude starlet.

It quickly became my go-to weekend recipe, and as such has been edited a bit along the way.

For starters, the original recipe calls for pancetta. Fuck pancetta. Pancetta is expensive, hard to find bacon, that's all.

Then there was the surprising lack of garlic. Unacceptable.

This weekend I added a can of crushed tomatoes and used uncased Whole Foods butcher counter sausage instead of the Krebs-made stuff I usually use (available at the Reasor's at 15th and Lewis).

The tomatoes ended up being a great idea, they added some much-needed color and acidity.

At the same time, the sausage took away from the texture and heat.

One of the things I love about cooking is the constant trial and error that exists in the kitchen. There just aren't that many opportunities in life to learn that way.

Here is the recipe as it stands now:

Italian Sausage and White Bean Chili

2 lbs spicy Italian sausage
1 lb center-cut bacon, chopped into small pieces
3 yellow onions, minced
1 green bell pepper, minced
3 tbsp garlic, minced or pressed
3 cups dry white beans, rinsed
3 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
1 large can rushed tomatoes
1 tbsp dried fennel seeds
1 tbsp red pepper flakes (or more for extra heat)

1. Render bacon and brown sausage in large pot
2. Remove meat, retaining grease
3. Cook onion, garlic, bell pepper and pepper flakes in grease until clear
4. Add tomato, with canning liquid, and scrape bits off bottom of pot
4. Cut sausage into thin slices and return meat to pot with veggies
5. Add fennel, beans and broth and bring to a rapid boil
6. Reduce heat and simmer around 2 hours, until chili reaches desired consistency
7. Top with cheddar cheese and sour cream

Friday, January 29, 2010

A note on intentions

It started with a tuna melt.

Not just any tuna melt, mind you, but one hell of a tuna melt. A tuna melt I made. And some advice from my wife, an avid blogger and equally avid consumer of my culinary wanderings.

"Why don't you start a blog about your food?" she asked between bites of tuna and provolone. "You could call it, 'She married well.'"

Funny, my wife. It's one of the reasons I love her. But the idea stuck, and so here it is.

If you choose to waste your time on the ramblings that will follow, you'll hear about what I cook, what I eat and how I feel about the whole thing. So go ahead and eat your heart out, Oklahoma.

Tuna Melts for Two:

2 packages/cans tuna fish, drained
4 thin slices smoked provolone
4 slices whole grain bread
olive oil
Tony Chachere's cajon seasoning
Williams Sonoma mediterranean drizzling oil*

1. mix tuna, a tablespoon of fancy-assed oil and a decent pinch of cajon seasoning
2. heat a dash of olive oil in a skillet until almost smoking
3. toss in two slices of bread and crisp on one side
4. flip the slices over and distribute tuna mix on crispy sides of bread (this prevents a soggy sandwich)
5. top tuna with provolone and slap on the other slice of bread
6. drizzle outsides of bread with a little of the fancy oil and cook the sandwich over medium-low heat until insides are hot and outsides are brown.

*Absent the fancy oil, which was a gift from my brother in law (thanks, Rob), you can use extra virgin olive oil mixed with some ground kalamata olives and a pinch of red pepper flakes.