Monday, March 23, 2015

Meat of the Sea and Grass.

Okay, so every once in a while I ask my adorable wife what her death row meal would be and she pretty much always says the same thing: "Steak, scallops, & mashed potatoes." It's also her stranded on a desert island meal (which would be much harder to procure, unless of course it happens to be a creepy island filled with desert cows). So I make it for her. I tell her she does not need to commit murder or hijack a yacht to scary cow island to obtain such a meal. I make a damn fine steak, a juicy seared scallop, and my Joël Robuchon style mashed potatoes are freaking bomb. We eat, make creepy chewing moany noises, and then we fall into a delicious coma. Beaten into submission by meat and fat. If my doctor ever told me that I had to cut back on these things I would tell them "Screw it, I'd rather die salty and filled with butter then sadly chewing on a carrot stick". Damn right I would.

So yeah, wanna know how to make a perfect Seared New York Strip Steak with a Sherry Caper Sauce? Just so happens I'm going to tell you. First off, buy some nice steaks. Make sure they have a nice amount of marbling (see those little white fatty veins running through the meat?) and are bright dark red in color. Don't buy no grey stinky steaks from your crappy grocery outlet. I know it's on sale, put it down! Okay, set the steaks out on the counter an hour before cooking. Seriously salt and pepper them and just let them sit there. After an hour, preheat the over to 500F degrees. Rub the steaks with a tiny bit of canola oil. Put a cast iron (or heavy duty stainless steel) pan on the stove over high heat. When the pan in blazing hot toss the steaks on. Sear for about 3-4 minutes each side until you get a nice crust formed. Toss the pan into the oven and finish cooking about 5 mins for medium rare. Okay, now this part is super important. Take the steaks out of the pan and set them on a cutting board. DO NOT TOUCH THE STEAKS FOR 15 MINUTES!!!!! Let them rest. If you do not follow this step and cut right into your steaks they will bleed out and all the tasty juices will pour out onto the counter and floor and you will cry because your dry sawdust steak sucks. Okay, so while your steaks are resting put the pan over medium heat and add 2Tbsp sherry wine vinegar, 2tsp Dijon mustard, 2Tbsp butter, 2Tbsp capers (add a 1/4c chicken stock or water to loosen it up). Scrape up the steak fond (they tasty brown bits in the pan) and stir. Cook for 1 minute and your done. Eat. Die happy.

Wanna also make a perfect Seared Scallop with Smoked Paprika Butter? Also easy peasy. Buy some fresh sea scallops. Pat them dry. Season with salt and pepper. Put a pan over high heat. Add a tiny bit of canola oil. Sear the scallops for 2-3 minutes each side. Remove from the pan. Turn heat to medium. Add 2Tbsp butter, 1 tsp pimentón, 1 squeeze fresh lemon juice. Cook for 30 seconds. Pour over scallops.

You'll have to wait for another time to hear about my potatoes. They are a secret for now. They wanted me to tell you that they are delicious and contain more cream and butter than mashed potatoes can possible fathom. Oh yeah, I also cooked garlicky wilted spinach too. They are my mashed potatoes best friend. They are tasty. I'll throw that recipe at you another time as well. I am only one person and I only have so much time to write for you. Jeez. You take and take and take... Where am I? Blacked out for a minute. Went to the dark place again. Hmmm well, until next time my dears. xoxo

Friday, March 20, 2015

Cozy Pork Blanket.

Yeah yeah, I eat a lot of pork. I really dig to dine on the swine. I am Cuban after all. I don't quite know how many times I've written about pork chops but I can tell you that it has been many times. Somewhere on this blog in multiple locations are my recipes for brined and seared pork chops. Find them here and make them. My pork chops rock if I do say so myself. I'm pretty sure I've also written about collard greens with ham and stewed black-eyed peas before too. Okay, so this blog post isn't so original. It's not about making something new and adventurous. It's about making the old tried and true. Having those household favorites that comfort and nourish your brains, body, and soul. These are the meals that wrap you up in a cozy blanket of deliciousness and rub your belly until you take a nap. Think about what those meals are to you and make them. Make them now.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

When You Wish Upon A Casserole.

My sweet little family and I took a trip to the Magical Kingdom of Disneyland not long ago. It was enchanting and wonderful and I wanted to stay there forever and ever (minus all the rude and pushy sunburned tourists). The night before we left I pulled out the old Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Cookbook to get some inspiration for a pre-Disneyland dinner. Most of the recipes in this book involve some sort of creamed can of something soup and rice and chicken. Well, I just happened to have chicken and rice and cream of mushroom soup on hand. I also had cheddar cheese and broccoli and that right there my friends is the fixins for a damn spectacular casserole.  In the cookbook Mickey Mouse had a recipe for a chicken casserole but it was a little too bland for my refined caviar and Champagne taste (lol, yeah right, I'd eat chili dog soup from a creepy gas station). I asked myself "What would Minnie Mouse do?" Minnie Mouse would do whatever the hell she wants because she's a super cool mouse like that.

So I took what I liked from Mickey's recipe and I kicked that recipe right in the taint. I made Minnie Mouse's Super Fine Chicken and Broccoli Casserole. Besides, I needed to use up a bunch of stuff in my fridge so nothing went bad on out trip (I'm looking at you sad broccoli). This is the kind of Americana casserole that my mom would make when she wasn't cooking Cuban food. Something bubbly and chickeny and covered in bright orange cheese. Hell yes.

The awesome thing about these kinds of dishes is that you can feed your whole family (or yourself for many meals) for not much money and they are super filling. It's the perfect post apocalypse meal. Aside for my theory that chickens will be over 10 feet tall and carnivorous. That will be scary. Maybe use pork or beef then. Either way, casseroles usually mean more bang for your buck leaving you more money for hookers and cocaine or whatever your hobbies are. xoxo

Cheesy Chicken and Rice and Broccoli Casserole
2 cups of diced cooked chicken
2 cups broccoli florets, chopped small
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 cups cooked rice
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp melted butter
2 tsp hot sauce
2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper, tt

Preheat oven to 375F degrees. Melt the butter in a casserole dish. Toss all of the ingredients together (except for the cheese) and spread evenly into the casserole dish. Cover with cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes. Eat. Ride the Pirates of the Caribbean ride again. Repeat.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Adventures of Fried Chicken and Pork Fat in The City of Roses.

Portland Oregon is delicious. This past weekend my bestie Lucille and I took a kamikaze road trip to the lovely city of Portland for Rose City Comic Con. There was lots of cosplay and comics and oh yes, lots of tasty food. We packed up the rental Mini Coup with our costumes and beef jerky and headed out bright and early (so frickin' early) Sunday morning. Before we even made it to the highway I decided I need Mcdonalds breakfast (my addiction to fast food is my business) consisting of sausage and cheese biscuit sandwiches and an ungodly amount of their crack filled hashbrowns. I was fueled up and ready to rock (perhaps it was the gallon of Coke I drank). After a couple of hours of driving and singing Cure and Sisters of Mercy songs at the top of our lungs we finally arrived. We changed in a parking lot and stormed the convention center. I was dolled up as Death and Lucille was Dream, both from Neil Gaiman's Sandman. It was super fun.

After the con we checked into our fancy room at The Hotel Deluxe (one of my fave hotels). A quick fancy cocktail in their cute lounge the Driftwood Room (it was awesome until we got swarmed with a wedding party). Then off to dinner. I was famished.

Lardo: Sandwiches and pints of beer. Perfection. We both got the Porchetta sandwich. One of the best things I have ever put in my mouth. It was so simple: porchetta, caper mayo, gremolata, crusty bread. I took a bite as the grease ran down my arm and I squealed like a kitten. OMFG. Fatty porky goodness with salty caper and acidic herbs. I contemplated buying a few more to bring back to the hotel room but by the end I was so full I thought I had died and gone to pork fat heaven. I don't think Lucille and I spoke the entire time except for the occasional "mmmmm" and "Oh my god so good". The people next to us probably thought we were creepy as hell but I really didn't care. I was having a moment. There was only sandwich. I have now changed my religion to The Church of Sandwich. Oh yeah, we got some yummy pints of cider to wash it down. I dreamt of that thing all night long. Life will never be the same. I wonder if the kind folks at Lardo will mail me sandwiches? I must have them.

Pine State Biscuits: The next morning we headed out to Alberta street and lined up for one of my favorite breakfasts anywhere. The Reggie Deluxe is perfection on a plate and since I was still on my Gravy & Fried Meat Diet™ I could not come to Portland without eating at least one of these heavenly creatures. It starts with a perfect buttermilk biscuits sandwiched around deliciously moist and crunchy fried chicken, gooey cheese, salty fried egg, and a creamy and sausagey country gravy. We also ordered a side of more gravy to pour over the top which was a total win for us. "Goddamn that's fucking delicious!" Lucille exclaimed. She then yelled to the dudes cooking behind the counter "You guys are wizards!" They appreciated the comment. I fully agree. There must be some kind of black magic involved in such a perfect breakfast sandwich. Somebody's soul was sold for sure.

After drinking off the remaining gravy we went for a walk down Alberta and came across one the cutest little candy shoppes ever called Candy Babel. The lovely owner Amani Greer was so cheerful and sweet to us. We chatted and tried candy and had a brief but wonderful time. You must go there, she will definitely put a smile on even the saddest of goth faces and make you feel like the world is not completely lost. I got a bag of mixed gummi candies including grapefruits, peaches, chicken feet, brains, and worms. Lucille got a cute vintage tin and she threw in a free chocolate. So amazing. This place is so rad and needs to exist forever.

Portland was awesome as usual but as all fun things have to end so did our little mini-vacation. Besides, I was severely missing my adorables wife. We hopped in the car, blasted Birthday Massacre, drank energy drinks, and sped home. On the way we watched a car exploded into flames on the side of the road, made friends with a motorcycle guy who tailed us forever (we named him Derick), and most importantly, we stopped off at the strange little army base town of Lakewood, WA for some chicken.

Popeyes, Louisiana Kitchen is the bomb. Southern fast food at it's best. I had been craving Popeyes since the last time I stopped to get some over 10 years ago. Why did I wait so long? What the hell is wrong with me? So good. Spicy chicken strips, Cajun fries, buttery biscuits, and tons of different sauces. Oh yeah. It was as good as I remember it being. We finished up and rolled out the door tired and full. Mission accomplished. We safely arrived home and that night I dreamt about fried chicken and pork fat. Ya know, life aint' so bad sometimes. xoxo

Oh yeah, at one point during the trip we drank lots of hard ciders and ate a stale bag of Sabroso Pork Cracklings that came with a salsa packet. The guy from the minimart said he just watched a guy leave with a case of beer but he couldn't do anything about it. I said "That sucks, I'm sorry that happened". He said "It's okay, at least it's better than the other day when some mean guy came in and punched me in the face." Fair enough dude. I hope your week get's better. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

My Beef is Better Than Your Beef.

Every culture has it's own version of barbecued meat. In the states, pretty much every city (especially in the south) claims to have invented the meaty practice (I'm pretty sure Captain Caveman and the like figured it out long before that). Let's see, what kinds of BBQ are there:

Texas is BOLD with their smoked beef ribs and steers, beers, and brisket.
The Carolinas brings in the tangy pulled pork with vinegary dosed, nasal clearing sauce.
Memphis has the spicier ribs and sandwiches serve up on a Mystery Train.
Kansas City's got some sweet, saucy rib tips. Am I the only one who felt uncomfortable just now?
California smokes it's chickens and makes briskets on the Santa Maria.
Washington smokes salmon and trout on wooden planks. It also legally smokes other things.
Hawaii roasts whole pigs wrapped in banana leaves. Sometimes, they eat fire too.
etc... Don't cry because I left you out. I'm sure your BBQ is nice. Take a Valium and relax.

As far as other countries, let's see:

Canada: Just kidding, I love you but you're not known for your barbecue. You invented poutine though and for that you are my hero. (Also, I just wanted to give a shout out to my Québécois peeps.) xoxo

Mexico: Barbacoa and Adobada and all the other delicious things that are perfect in a taco. Damn I need some tacos now. Damn you tacos, stop taunting me!

Japan: Yakitori is perfect. Roasting meaty things like chicken skin and hearts over charcoal on little sticks. Yum. Skin. Hearts. Sometimes, I like to make chicken skin lamps and dresses. Oh, haha just kidding. Yeah. Oishii!

Lebanon (and many other Middle Eastern countries): Shawarma and kofta and other delicious fire roasted beasts. Even The Avengers love shawarma.

Greece: Souvlaki and gyros. Food of the gods. Especially Hades. He loves gyros.

Korea: Bulgogi. Sweet and spicy marinated beef seared off to delicious perfection. Sometimes at restaurants, they let you grill it yourself on a fiery pit in the middle of the table. It is dangerous and fun. The danger makes it taste even better.

Okay, you get my point. There are lots of variations on meat + fire = tasty in my mouth. Everybody has a version (yes, even you Canada). When people claim they have the best this dish or that dish it annoys the crap out of me. You can't really compare it. It's all preference. I like pretty much all food. Except for the food I don't like. Catch my drift? You know.

So yeah, anyways, I made some Bulgogi 불고기. Korean grilled marinated beef served with grilled onions, kimchi, and steamed rice. Simple. Tasty. Aside from the marination time it only takes about 2ne1 minutes to prep and about 4Minute to cook. Wink wink.

Bulgogi 불고기

1lb thinly slice sirloin

4 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp Gochujang, Korean chili paste (or use Sriracha or something similar)
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp fresh Asian pear juice (put peeled/seeded pear in a blender and strain)
1 Tbsp Mirin, rice wine
1 Tbsp sesame oil
3 green onions, thinly sliced on bias
1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper

Thoroughly mix all of the marinade ingredients. Thinly slice the beef against the grain. Marinate overnight.

On an outdoor grill or grill pan over high heat. Sear the beef for 2-4 minutes or until fully cooked. Serve with rice and kimchi and listen to K-Pop and drink a few Hite beers. Oh yeah. xoxo

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Sovereign State: Burma


The Menu:
Ngapi Kyeik (Shrimp paste condiment with fried garlic, scallion, and green chilies)
Thanhat (Cold cucumber salad with sesame and lime)
Ohn-No Khao Swè (Spicy coconut chicken curry over egg noodles)
Jet-U Jhet (Blistered hard-cooked eggs with chilies, tomato, and fish sauce)

Okay I'm skipping quite a few countries on my super fancy, new and improved Sovereign State tour fun time show for this one here. It was time sensitive and we'll be returning to your regularly scheduled program shortly (aka don't get your undies in a bunch). As a wise man named Frankie once said: "Relax". See this: Sovereign States

My best friend Lucille is Burmese. Her parents were Burmese rebels who along with many other students, scholars, and free thinkers fought back against the tyranny of the military dictatorship that has ruled the country for decades. Long story short, they fled being captured and killed by walking through the mountains and escaped into Thailand. (Flash forward 20+ years later.) A few years back, my wife and I met the charming little creep called Lucille at her work while shopping for spooky monster dresses. She was sad but cheerful at the same time and apparently surviving off of undercooked lentils and Batman cartoons. She realized that I made tasty food and had a steady supply of vodka and before we knew it she was at our flat everyday, just in time for dinner. Not long after that she brought over everything she owned and happily formed a nest in our dining room. We've all become a very close little family. Her mother always says "Without Violet, you dead." Life can be very strange sometimes.

Sadly, when you say the word Burma, most people have no clue what or where it is. It's a whole country. In South-East Asia. Between India and Thailand. People need to look at a map once in a while. It's a big world we live in. There's more than "Merica and that country below us with the tasty tacos and that country above us with all the hockey.  Burma has officially changed it's name to The Republic of Myanmar to escape the ill thoughts of bloodshed that people associate with Burma. The government may have changed the name but most of it's people haven't.

Anyways, this year on the 8th of August we decided to celebrate Burma and to pay homage the brave people fighting for freedom in the infamous 8888 Uprising and still today. I researched as much as possible on Burmese cuisine and racked Lucille's brain for her mothers recipes. I cooked a feast and made her a t-shirt based off the 8888 protest flags and then we watched the amazing film The Lady (2011) based on the story of Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the Burmese National League for Democracy. I cooked all day in the sweltering summer heat and we ate until our stomachs nearly exploded. After dinner Lucille got teary eyed and said "It tasted like my mom's cooking." I was so glad everything turned out delicious. Not that I enjoy making Burmese girls cry (well, maybe sometimes) but I was excited to help her connect to the country that runs through her blood. Okay enough with the sentimentality. Let talk food, shall we?

I always cook with a martini in hand. Just in case.

Ngapi Kyeik (Shrimp paste condiment with fried garlic, scallion, and green chilies)
I was seriously surprised how much I like this condiment. It's salty and sour and not fishy at all. Hell, I'd put it on everything. Pizza, cheeseburgers, ice cream. Everything.

Thanhat (Cold cucumber salad with sesame and lime)
This salad was probably my least favorite dish I made. It was tasty but a little too sweet for my palate. Plus I hate when sesame seeds get stuck between my teeth. Then I spend the rest the night picking my at my mouth with a steak knife. It's dangerous. It was nice to have a cold refreshing bite while eating the other hot salty foods though. 

Ohn-No Khao Swè (Spicy coconut chicken curry over egg noodles)

My favorite dish of the night. It was super velvety and savory like a cozy poultry blanket. I kept calling it coco-sghetti (coconut spaghetti, get it?) because it was comfortable and familiar like a bowl of spaghetti but with Burmese flavors. Sourness from the lime and fresh coriander, salty from the fish sauce and chicken stock, spicy from the paprika and chili flakes, chickeny from the yummy chicken thighs, and a hint of sweetness from the coconut milk. I wanted to eat it forever until I die. So good.

Jet-U Jhet (Blistered hard-cooked eggs with chilies, tomato, and fish sauce)
Hardboiled eggs deep fried until the whites get all blistery and then simmered in a salty spicy tomato sauce. Hell yes. Sign me up. This was a perfect accompaniment for the Ohn-No Khao Swè. I loved the crackly skin of the eggs soaking up all the salty goodness. Yum.

So yeah, Burma is freaking delicious. I have a feeling I'll be cooking a lot more of it in my future.

Ohn-No Khao Swè (Coconut Chicken Noodle)
1 large white onion, halved and sliced
1 inch chunk of ginger, peeled & minced
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
2 shallots, minced
2 spring onions, sliced
16oz package egg noodles (I used these)
2lbs de-boned chicken thighs, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chickpea flour
14oz coconut milk
3 tablespoons chili flakes
3 tablespoons paprika
1 lime, sliced into wedges
2 eggs (I just used the eggs from the Jet-U Jhet)
2 cups chicken stock (or bouillon)
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 bunch fresh coriander (cilantro)
crushed peanuts
peanut oil

Heat a 1 Tbsp peanut oil to a large saute pan over medium high heat,.

Add the white onion, garlic, ginger, and spring onions to the oil and cook until translucent (5 mins or so).

Transfer to a blender or food processor and pulse until it forms a paste.

Add another Tbsp of peanut oil to the hot pan and saute the chicken thighs (season with a little salt) until cooked through and slightly browned.

Stir in the chili flake and paprika and stir until fragrant (1 minute).

Add the onion paste and stir.

Whisk the chickpea flour with the chicken stock and then add to the pan. 

Add the fish sauce and coconut milk. 

Bring to a simmer and turn down the heat to medium. Simmer for 45 minutes to an hour uncovered. Add water if it thickens too much. Season with more fish sauce if needed.

Meanwhile in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the noodles until soft. Drain.

Thinly slice the shallots and soak in a little cold water. Drain.

To serve place the egg noodles in bowl, then ladle the coconut chicken over. 

Top with the sliced shallots, Hard cooked eggs (cut in half), crushed peanuts, fresh coriander and lime wedges. 

Kan kaung ba zay! Good luck. xoxo

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

She's Chopping Broccoli.

When I was little all I ever wanted to eat was meat. I had no time for vegetables. I was like a wild little wolf cub gnawing on cold hot dogs and lunch meat. It's not that I disliked vegetables but I just craved carrion. Sometimes I would walk on all fours and growl at my mother. "I need more meat!" I'd say in my raspy little voice. She would just give me that motherly "what the hell is wrong with my child?" sort of look and pull out some more ham slices from the fridge. I'd snatch it from her hands and run laughing out of the room. She knew that it was better to indulge me rather than stir up even more insanity on my end. I truly am amazed that she didn't smother me lifeless or drop me off in the middle of the Georgian Blue Ridge mountains and leave me to be the crazy little beast that I was. Though I must admit that it was my dream to live in the wilderness and live off the land like a wildling. I would make friends with wolves and bears and we'd hunt together. It would've been great.

I'm not going to lie. I still eat the occasional raw hot dog though I rarely scurry around on all fours while growling anymore. Now I eat my cold meat products all sophisticated and lady-like (delicately with pinkie in the air). Speaking of sentient creatures I also eat the occasional cold plant/vegetable (do pickles count?). I mostly prefer cooked veggies to raw ones (except for tomatoes and radishes). Every two weeks I get a New Roots delivery of small farm, organic vegetables delivered right to my door. I love it. It challenges me to cook with things I don't normally go out of my way to purchase. I try to have the same principals with vegetables as I do with meat. Nose to tail or tip to stem. Use it all. Waste not and all that. We hit broccoli season a little early this year so we started getting it in our bin. Most people just use the end little florets but the stems are so delicious it's a shame to waste them. Peel them, slice them, and cook them. Yummy.

So the other day I was standing in the kitchen, eating a slice of ham wrapped around a pickle while staring at my abundance of broccoli and I thought "I'm going to make something super fucking delicious out of you". And I did so. I made Yakisoba with Broccoli Pesto and Steamed Broccoli Florets with Pickled Egg. It's pretty easy and super tasty. Your vegan (if you leave off the egg) friends will be impressed and your meat eater friends with look at you sadly but then be pleasantly surprised that broccoli can be so delicious.

Yakisoba with Broccoli Pesto and Steamed Broccoli Florets with Pickled Egg

8oz package of dried yakisoba noodles
1 lb. broccoli, florets and stems separated, stems trimmed and peeled
1/2 c fresh basil
3 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp fermented chili bean curd (if you can find it don't worry about it)
1/2 cup olive oil, plus 1 Tbsp
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
pickled eggs (or thousand year eggs or basic hard cooked eggs)

In a large pot of boiling salted water add the yakisoba and boil until tender (5 mins or so). Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.

While the noodles are boiling saute the broccoli stems in 1 Tbsp olive oil until tender Add the whole garlic cloves and saute a few more minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Steam the broccoli florets until just cooked and tender. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a food processor pulse the cooked broccoli stems, garlic, basil, lemon juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, fermented bean curd, and 1/2 cup olive oil and pulse until pureed. Pour through a fine meshed sieve (use a spoon or spatula to push it through) to strain out the fibrous bits. Season with salt and pepper if needed.

Toss the yakisoba with the pesto. Top with steamed broccoli and chopped pickled egg.

Enjoy. FYI: This dish may taste even better if paired with a raw hot dog eaten in the forest. xoxox