Friday, January 12, 2018

Dough It Right.

Hey there friend, long time no see. Yeah, so the past year(s) I've been a no-show and I apologize for that. You know how it is... depression, being sick, loss of inspiration, the world becoming a "shithole", blah blah blah. Life has a way with making you feel small and insignificant. My love for food is always there, however sometimes my mind has a hard time showing it. I forget that this is a way to express that passion and express myself through food and that everything else is just a bonus. So to you I say this; Thank you for being here and sharing this love of food with me. Having readers is a very lovely bonus. I promise to try and stick around a bit more regularly this time. xoxo

Sooooo..... now that we got all of those damn feelings out of the way let's talk about food. Here is a fact. I am not a good baker. I think it all comes down to the fact that I am a very sense driven cook. I like to improvise. Also, not gonna lie, I hate being dirty and covered in flour. Too damn prissy to bake. Yeah, I am that brand of virgo. Add in being slightly impatient and you have all the makings of a terrible baker.

But one in a while you come across a recipe that is too damn easy to not screw up and before you know it you just baked something that doesn't resemble the usual concrete block you are so adept at making. So yeah, the night before last I had made my favorite comfort food, picadillo. Then the next day I made empanadas stuffed with leftover picadillo. Then I baked and ate them. And guess what, it was super damn delicious. They were flaky and juicy and savory. So damn good. So yeah, let's make Cuban Empanadas. Start with this:

Cuban Picadillo 

2 tablespoons Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and medium dice
1 large green bell pepper, seeds/stem removed and medium dice
5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 ½ pounds ground beef
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika)
2 teaspooons Goya Adobo seasoning (optional)
2 bay leaves
2/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup pimento stuffed Spanish olives, sliced

In a large, heavy pan set over a medium-high heat add olive oil.  Add onions, bell pepper, and garlic and stir. Cook until the onions and pepper have started to soften, approximately 10 minutes.

Move the vegetables to one side of the pan and add the ground beef. Season with salt and pepper and brown the beef. Add tomatoes, vinegar, cumin, bay leaves, pimentón, adobo, olives, and raisins and stir to combine. Lower the heat, and let the stew simmer, covered, for approximately 30-40 minutes. Adjust seasoning, remove bay leaves, and serve over white rice. Top with a fried egg if you are so inclined (aka always).

Old terrible photo of my Cuban Picadillo
I make this dish whenever I am sad or feeling off. It brings me back to when I was a kid and my abuela aka Aba or mom would make this for me. I hated the raisins when I was little but now I think they are delicious. Kids are weird. I was especially weird.

So yeah, make picadillo. Make enough for leftovers. Then make the empanadas dough. Here's the recipe I used and tweaked:

Empanadas Dough

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large egg
1/3 cups plus 2 tablespoon ice water
1 tablespoon white Champagne vinegar

Sift flour and salt into a bowl. Add the flour, salt, and cold butter into a food processor. Pulse 10 or so times or until mixture resembles coarse meal with some (roughly pea-size) butter lumps.

Beat together egg, water, and vinegar in a small bowl with a fork. Add the flour mixture to the bowl, stirring with fork until just incorporated.
Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently with your hand once or twice, just enough to bring dough together. Quickly form dough into a flat rectangle and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.


1/2 cup white Champagne vinegar
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Pulse it all for a few seconds in a food processor. Season. That's it.

Cuban Empanadas with Chimichurri

empanadas dough, thinly rolled out & cut into 6" rounds (recipes above makes about 12 empanadas)
leftover picadillo
1/2 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 400F degrees. On a lightly floured clean surface roll out a dough round to thin it out a little. Add about 2 tablespoons of cold leftover picadillo to the center of the dough round. Wet the edge of one side of the dough with a dab of water. Fold the dough over and press to seal. Use a fork to press down the edges. Place empanadas on baking sheet covered with parchment. Brush empanadas with butter. Bake for 40 minutes. Eat while hot. 

Hey Vegan!
I sees you. Make it meatless. Here are some subs for you:
* In the picadillo instead of using ground beef use a block of firm tofu that you marinated overnight in some soy and garlic powder. Also add a cup of chopped sauteed shiitake mushrooms to make it "meatier".
* Use vegan "butter" for the empanadas dough.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Remember when food wasn't popular? I do. PBS had Julia and Jacques teaching you basic French techniques while drinking cocktails. Martin Yan was awing us with crazy butcher knife tricks and chef Justin Wilson was teaching us how to make a roux and yell like a Cajun. On many afternoons I was put to sleep by the calm humming of the kitchen vents and soothing jazz of the show Great Chefs. Then technology happened and cable arrived. The cooking channel came and chefs that actually looked like the sleepless trucker-speed abusing chefs they were cooked recipes for you to try at home. Then suddenly, Emeril happened. Now I actually like Emeril. He seems like a really nice guy, but I always hated his show (I didn't like getting yelled at when he had a hard-on for garlic or some other asinine ingredient). With his growing popularity he made people food crazy. People filled stadiums to watch the man toss a salad. Food culture was changed forever.

The Good:
People started supporting restaurants that weren't awful chains. Small farms started to flourish. People started to care about where their food came from. Locality and sustainability were no longer words that only hippies used when lecturing you about peace and love and something something... sorry I wasn't listening. Food brings people together. Food is life. Obey food.
The Bad:
Everybody became a food expert. Foodies (can we please just let that term die? It's stupid.) came crawling out from their couches and people at home were calling themselves chefs because they new how to cook spaghetti that wasn't from a can. And I swear if I see another cooking show where these poor bastard have to cook using only their feet and fight to the death with a raw piece of chicken to be recognized I'm going to stick my head in the oven.

The Ugly:
The gentrification of food. The gluttony of mediocrity. "Upscale" comfort food troughs. The raw food movement (I bet with all that raw fiber).

So I follow a lot of food peeps on the Instagrams. I love looking at delicious food. It inspires me and make me feel all funny inside. I use my Instagram as a diary of sorts. The thing I ate or made. The days I feel pretty cute. Adorable pics of my loved ones on our adventures. But mostly the delicious things I stuffed into my mouth. Anyways, I guess this post was just a shameless excuse to show you my not-the-greatest but-oh-so delicious food pics from my phone. You read all this so you might as well look at the photos. Yeah, thanks.

Oh yeah, follow me on Instagram.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Thai Soup Is Good Food.

The first time I had Thai food was when I moved to Seattle over 20 years ago. I remember I had spicy green curry with fresh basil and lemongrass, a bowl of jasmine rice, and some tofu fresh rolls with peanut sauce. It blew my mind a little bit. Truthfully it took me a few minutes to comprehend the amazing complexity of flavors I was ingesting. The sweetness of coconut milk, the savoriness of the curry spices, and the heat from the chilies and ginger. I went back to that restaurant pretty much every day for lunch the next few weeks and tried everything off their menu. The staff was grumpy as hell but their food was so good so I didn't care. Red curry, massaman curry, pad Thai, pad see ew, larb, tom yum, tom kha gai... it was all delicious. I decided I needed to learn how to make Thai food at home so I bought a few Thai cookbooks and checked out the entire Thai selection at Uwajimaya. After many years of practice I slowly but surely I built up my Thai cookery skills. I am by no means a master of Thai cooking but I can make a pretty mean tom kha gai.

Tom Kha Gai
1 lb. boneless and skinless chicken thighs, sliced
1 cup oyster mushrooms
1 13.5oz can coconut milk
1 yellow onion, halved and sliced
3 cups chicken stock
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 stalk lemongrass, cut into 3" pieces and bashed with the back of your knife
4 kaffir lime leaves
3" knob of galangal (or ginger) sliced into thick pieces
4 Thai chilies, sliced
3 tablespoon fish sauce
1/4 c. fresh lime juice
fresh cilantro or fresh Thai basil, lightly chopped for garnished
In a large pot over medium high heat add a little peanut oil. Add the onion, garlic, chilies, to the pot and saute until soft but not caramelized. Add the chicken thighs, season with salt, and cook through. Add chicken stock, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves into a pot and bring it to boil. Simmer over medium heat for a 15 minutes. Add mushrooms and coconut milk and simmer for 5 more minutes. Turn off the heat and add lime juice and fish sauce to taste. Serve with steamed jasmine rice and chopped cilantro to garnish.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Joy (and sometimes drudgery) of Cooking.

I'm not gonna lie. Sometimes cooking is just not fun. Says the girl with daily migraines, vertigo, painful arthritis, and other fun chronic illnesses that I do not wish to bore you with. Then again, sometimes having fun is just not part of the equation. We all do the things we need to survive. I take care of my family whether I am sickly or not. It's my job. I make sure everyone is taken care of and has what they need to be happy and healthy. If I take a day off my family turns feral. Next thing you know the kitchen is on fire and someone is eating out of the trash. That's just no fun.

So I thought I would write a post on how to make life easier for those of you cooking for your family or yourself when you're busy or tired or sick or sick and tired of being busy.

Step 1. Preparation
The most important thing that makes cooking easier is having a stocked pantry. Nothing makes cooking harder than not having ingredients to cook with. Try making pasta without pasta or flour. Try it. I dare you. Take a few minutes and make a list. Stock up your pantry and it'll save your butt on many occasions. Check out my Keys to Having a Bad-Assed Pantry series.

Step 2. Shopping
Build up good shopping habits. Such as:
a) Figure out your budget prior to shopping.
b) Plan meals for the week. Make sure you have back-up meals and snacks planned too.
c) Make shopping lists. Don't look like a lost child taking up the entire bread aisle because you can't make up your mind.
d) Eat something before you go. 10 boxes of Hamburger Helper Nacho Beefaroni and a 24 pack of Hostess Ding Dongs looks pretty damn necessary when you're hangry.

Want to save some money? If you actually have a choice of where to shop see who's got better prices. Shop around. If you have the time split up your grocery needs into more than one place. I buy my veggies and meat (and Asian ingredients) at a small family owned Asian grocery nearby. Super fresh and super inexpensive. Then I go to the regular big supermarket for American/Euro items, canned goods, frozen junk, bread, dairy, etc. They both lie on a direct route to my house so it's not really that big of a deal stopping off at both. In the end, it saves us quite a bit of money.

Step 3. Make Extra
Even if you're just cooking for one person cook extra so that you have leftovers. You can bring the leftovers to work for lunch or for your kids school lunch or for next day's dinner. Heating up leftovers is super easy compared to cooking something from scratch. Sometimes a dish or soup tastes even better the next day.

Step 4. No Waste
If you get tired of your leftovers you can re-purpose it into something else. Chicken Parmesan easily becomes chicken enchiladas with just a few extra ingredients. Cooked rice can become congee or fried rice. Soup can become a sauce and vice versa. Use your imagination. My uncle taught me a dish when I was little called pizza eggs. Yes, it's as easy albeit strange as it sounds. Diced leftover pizza cooked with scrambled eggs. It's actually super tasty. Lol. Use what you've got. Nothing needs to get wasted.

So yeah, you can save yourself a lot of headache and money. It just takes a tiny bit of your time and a little bit of planning. Don't be that person that's all dead eyed and starving in the grocery store staring at $10 boxes of frozen chimichangas.

Here's a few ideas to get you started:

Buy a whole chicken. 
Roast it. (Or if you're in a real pinch, most supermarkets sell rotisserie chickens. It'll do.)
Day 1. Eat the cooked chicken breast with salad/chicken Parmesan/chicken salad sandwiches/with rice pilaf and veggies.

Day 2. Use the legs and thighs for Arroz con Pollo/gumbo/enchiladas/chicken fricassee

Day 3. Make a roasted chicken stock out of the bones and add leftover scraps of meat to soup. I make a mean matzo ball soup out of scraps.

Buy a large pork shoulder roast.
Roast it.
Day 1. Pork roast sliced with pinto gallo/adobada tacos/with mango salsa and veggies

Day 2. Pork and beans/pork chili/pork roast sandwiches

Day 3. Pozole verde soup/pork quesadillas/pork fried rice

Buy a bunch of bulk dried chickpeas.
Soak them overnight.
Day 1. Grind some soaked chickpeas in a food processor to make falafel sandwiches or with salad.

Simmer them with herbs until soft.
Day 2. Chana masala/Cuban chickpea and potato omeletta/Moroccan chickpea stew

Day 3. Chickpea and tuna salad/fried chickpea fritters/hummus and flatbread

You get the idea. Make your life easier. You don't have to eat canned soup and microwave pizzas if you don't want to. Eat well by planning out your life. A little organization goes a long way. Now go take some aspirin and cook yourself something tasty. xoxo

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Rabbit Season.

When you talk to the average American about cooking a rabbit they tend to get all frowny face at you. A few tears build up in the crook of their eyes and they immediately say something like "How could you eat Thumper?" To which I reply "This was not that cute bunny from Bambi. For all you know this rabbit could've been a total jerk." I find it very interesting that our culture is super happy to eat a Mcwhopper made of franken-cow or some nice factory white chicken breast all hermetically sealed up in the grocery store but eating animals that resemble actual animals is frowned upon. Hypocrytical perhaps? Meat comes from animals. Respect that animal by knowing what it is, where it comes from, and using every single bit of it. Nose to tail cooking is what it's all about. The rest of the world (yes, I am generalizing and I'm okay with that) isn't so squeamish about their food. As Englishman Fergus Henderson said "Nose-to-tail eating is not a bloodlust, testosterone-fueled offal hunt. It's common sense, and it's all good stuff." 

Okay, so here is a random aside. I am a huge Catherine Deneuve fan (hence this blog's name The Hunger wink wink). Okay so there is a scene in the 1965 film Repulsion (which I have another blag lovingly named) where Miss Deneuve slowly goes insane in her sisters apartment where she stares at a defrosting rabbit that's sitting out for days. It is very upsetting and wonderful and for whatever reason my twisted little brain simply could not make rabbit without paying homage to that film. Okay, end random crazy aside.

So I'd only made rabbit a few other times in my life. I usually cooked it French hunters style with wine and olives and fresh herbs. The other day I came across a old recipe in one of my Spanish cookbooks for Catalan rabbit stew. My family (the Cuban/Spanish side derp) originally came from Catalonia Spain so I wanted to try it. It has braised rabbit, crushed hazelnuts, tomato and pancetta. I added my touch of a little pimentón and crushed Spanish olives for extra smokey brininess. I served it with roasted baby potatoes with fresh thyme and tons of lemon. Salty and gamey and rich and rabbity. Perfect for a winter stick-to-your-ribs meal. It would be delicious with chicken too if you can't get a rabbit or just don't want to. Either way it'll be tasty.

Conill al Romesco (Catalan Braised Rabbit with Romesco Sauce

1 rabbit, jointed into six pieces
1 cup AP flour
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, tt
olive oil

1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
4oz pancetta or bacon, diced
1 medium onion, diced
6 ripe tomatoes (or one 28oz can of whole tomatoes)
3 piquillo peppers (or one red bell pepper), diced
4 Tbsp Spanish olive oil
1 Tbsp sherry wine vinegar
2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 Tbsp pimentón
1 pinch saffron (bloomed in a little water)
2 Tbsp crushed and toasted hazelnuts
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup crushed Spanish olives

Season the flour with salt and pepper. Coat the rabbit pieces with the flour. In a large pan/dutch oven over medium high heat add some olive oil. Fry the rabbit pieces until browned. About 3 minutes each side. Remove the rabbit to a plate and set aside.

To the same pot add the pancetta, onion, peppers and garlic and cook for a few minutes as the pancetta renders out some of it's fat (add a little more olive oil if you need to. Add the rest of the ingredients and the rabbit back to the pot. Turn heat to medium low and simmer for 40 minutes to an hour. The rabbit meat should be falling off the bone. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Yum. Serve with potatoes or rice. Pretend you are a Spanish hunter and sit in the forest while you eat this. xoxo

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Incredible Edible Egg.

The egg is one of the most versatile ingredients in the culinary world.  Eggs are one of my favorite foods besides pizza, cheeseburgers, & hot dogs. I have been known to lurk awkwardly at social gatherings searching for the ubiquitous tray of deviled eggs. Once found I stand my ground. Mingling only with the delicious eggs. I must consume them all. "No sir or madam, you may not have a deviled egg. Perhaps you would prefer a slice of walnut coated port wine cheese ball on a fancy cracker. Don't make me tell you no again. Leave while you still can."  Ahem, where was I? Oh yes, I eat at least one egg a day. I show my cholesterol who's boss. Just like Tony Danza.

The first time I had Eggs Benedict was at a Mother's Day luncheon at a fancy hotel in downtown Miami. "What is this magical creation?" I asked the man at the huevos station as I pointed to the English muffin mound covered in yellow gravy. "Eggs Benedict. English muffin, ham, poached egg, and Hollandaise sauce." With a creepy grin from ear to ear I took three of them back to my table. My mind nearly exploded. An open-faced ham and egg sandwich covered in butter sauce. Hell yes. I went home that day with a new favorite food.

But then my skewed version of reality hit. Eggs Benedict was not something you could make at home. It was food you can only have on Easter or Mothers Day at fancy hotel buffets. I had never seen them anywhere else. I once asked my mother for Eggs Benedict for breakfast and she scoffed at me. "Yeah, I can't make that honey. How about a fried egg sandwich?" I would never turn down a fried egg sandwich but as I ate it I cried a few salty sad tears.

Many years later the internet happened and people could find out how to make anything but by then I had pushed the Benedict out of my mind. I started culinary school in my early twenties and on the first day I cracked open my textbook and what was the first thing I see? I saw a recipe for Eggs Benedict. I was so stoked. I was going to learn how to make it myself. Unfortunately my excitement was immediately crushed learning that eggs were a second quarter subject. I waited patiently learning about the fundamentals of cookery (okay I lied, I tried to make it without instruction and I failed miserably). My time would come. Second quarter eventually came and I learned how to make a hollandaise sauce. I could now achieve what I thought was a magical gift only passed down to Mothers Day buffet chefs from some secret ancient breakfast scrolls hidden away in a mysterious mountain egg temple.

Many many years have passed since my culinary school days. Technology has changed. Cooking knowledge has changed. There are secrets that you learn with experience but recipes have been broken down so that even the least experienced home cook can make fancy food. Eggs Benedict may not be the secret magical dish it once was but it is still really damn delicious. And that's what matters.

Spanish Style Eggs Benedict
(serves 2)
Hollandaise sauce
2 large egg yolks
2 tsp water
2 tsp sherry vinegar
6 Tbsp room temperature butter, cut into small cubes
2 tsp pimentón (smoked paprika)
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper tt
1 Tbsp white vinegar
4 large chicken eggs
lightly salted boiling water
2 English muffins, halved and toasted
sweet cream butter
4 slices Spanish ham or Serrano ham (or whatever ham you have)
4 warm poached eggs
hollandaise sauce
celery leaves for garnish

Make the hollandaise.
Set up a double boiler. I use a pot of boiling water and place a larger stainless steel bowl over the pot so that the bowl gets steam from the boiling water but doesn't touch the base of the pot. There you go, double boiler. Before putting the bowl over the boiling water, whisk the egg yolks, 2 tsp water, 2 tsp sherry vinegar, pimentón, salt and pepper until fully incorporated and slightly lighter in color (20 seconds). Place the bowl over the boiling water and vigorously whisk while adding in pieces of the butter. If it starts to separate or scramble the eggs pull the pot off the heat to adjust the temperature. As you add the butter the sauce should thicken and become emulsified. After you've whisked in the last bit of butter turn off the heat and season if needed. 
Make the poached eggs.
In a large pot of barely boiling salted water add the vinegar. Crack an egg into a small bowl. Create a whirlpool in the pot by stirring quickly in one circular direction. Carefully add the egg from the bowl to the center of the whirlpool. The circular water motion will help keep the egg from falling apart or disintegrating. Poach for 1-2 minute or until just cooked through. Carefully remove the egg with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Season with salt and pepper. Repeat the process until all the eggs are cooked.
Make the Benedict.
Place two halves of the English muffins on a plate. Spread a little butter on them. Place a slice of ham on each. Top each with a poached egg. Cover with a large spoonful of hollandaise sauce. Garnish with pimentón and celery leaves. Pretend it's Mother's day and drink mimosas for lunch. You deserve it. xoxo

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Sandwich for the Wrong Side of the Tracks.

The sandwich is the greatest human achievement of all time. Meat, cheese, other stuff between bread. Let me tell you, there is rarely a sandwich that pisses me off. Now I've had some ugly bad sandwiches before but they almost always are the result of sandwich person being a cheap bastard. Don't skimp on the good stuff. Pile it on. But not too much. Like I learned in The Karate Kid, balance is the key. If I can't insert a sandwich into my mouth hole you have failed. Messy is fine and dandy but if I HAVE to use a knife and fork to eat my sandwich you have wronged me and I will have revenge. Don't be a sandwich loser. Be a sandwich winner.

So anyways, I lived in good ole' St. Louis, Missouri for a while during my angsty years. I was broke and hungry and full of sad emo tears and I needed cheap food that didn't taste like garbage (or actually was garbage). There is a delightful sandwich with strange origins from Gateway to the West. It's called the St. Paul sandwich. It was invented in the 1940s by a guy named Steven Yuen at his restaurant Park Chop Suey in Lafayette Square, a neighborhood near downtown St. Louis. He named the sandwich after his hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota. It was cheap and filling and used up easy to get ingredients. The St. Paul is basically a egg foo yung sandwich. Egg, meat (or meatless if you're a hippy), sometimes cheese. Sometimes bean sprouts and scallion. Either way, it's really damn delicious.

When I was a kid I made up a sandwich called The Hobo. I was 6 years old and imagined myself riding the rails, traveling from town to town looking for work with a hearty breakfast sandwich in my hand. I also wanted to be a pirate. So yeah, I invented a basic breakfast sandwich of eggs, sausage, and cheese. A more breakfasty version of the St. Paul. But i love the addition of bean chopped sprout and scallion. My family loved it and I felt as though I had really accomplished something. I also thought that perhaps now my mother would let me follow my train-hopping pirate dreams. Alas, she said no. It was a damn good sandwich though. So I give to you:

The St. Paul Hobo Sandwich.
(2 sandwiches)

4 slices of toasted white bread
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 lb breakfast sausage
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped bean sprouts
2 cloves garlic
2 slices American cheese
Sriracha mayo (just mix some hot sauce in your mayo)

In a non-stick pan over medium high heat add a little bit of butter. Saute the garlic and scallion for 2 minutes. Add the sausage and cook until browned. Add the chopped bean sprouts. Spread the ingredients out in a single layer in the pan and pour the egg over the top. Cook for 1 minute. Cover the pan and cook for 2 more minutes or until the egg is just cooked through. Cut the omelet into four wedges. Take a slice of bread. Slather the hot mayo. Place two wedges of the egg filling. Add a slice of cheese. Slather the top piece of bread with mayo and top off the sandwich. Enjoy while you hop a train and get a job at a coal mine. xoxo