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