Thursday, April 10, 2014

All Aboard The Gravy Boat!

I love ugly food. Beige plates of beige food swimming in beige gravy. That's my jam. Comfort food rarely looks pretty. Even after you put a sprig of parsley on top it usually still looks like crap, just a little fancier. You know the saying "Never read a book by it's cover". Well, I never judge a plate of ugly food until I know what's hiding under the gravy. A bunch of the "chefs" on television turn their noses up at comfort food. "Oh wow, that sure looks comforting." they say fully meaning "What the hell is this pile of unsophisticated shit doing in my presence. I only eat farro and monkfish fermented with lemur urine presented in a hollowed out coconut." I hate those people. Yeah, I like fancy food too but I'm no snob. I'll happily eat a funeral casserole any day of the week.

But Violet, gravy is fattening you say. Yeah, it is. I'm not telling you to drink gravy for every meal. Use some common sense. Learn how to find balance in your damn life. Drank a boat of gravy for breakfast? Eat a salad for dinner. Easy peasy. I can't hold your hand your whole life. Life's too short to never eat anything fattening. You can diet when you're dead. Okay, maybe you're dead because you ate nothing but gravy your whole short life but who's fault is that? Like I said, common sense.

Everyone has their own version of a sandwich that is open-faced and dosed with some form of gravy. In Kentucky it's the Hot Brown. In St. Louis it's the Prosperity Sandwich. France has the Croque-Madame. When I was young my dad taught me a sandwich from his Marines/Nam days called Shit on a Shingle which is essentially chipped beef on toast covered in gravy. I was so obsessed with it I wanted it for every meal. However, my mother did not share my excitement so it was a rare treat when my dad would cook for me and my brother. I would yell "shit on a shingle!" and my dreams were often made true.

Here's my version of an open-faced turkey sandwich, hot brown, prosperity sandwich, croque-madame, and shit on a shingle all rolled up into one sandwich.

To make it. Layer these things in order on the plate. Eat. Be happy.
white toast
sliced Cajun turkey
Swiss cheese
brown gravy (1Tbsp butter + 1 Tbsp flour in a hot pan. Make a roux. Cook 3 minutes. Slowly add 2 cups beef stock. Add salt, lots of fresh pepper. hot sauce. Cook until gravy)
fried egg
parsley (for pretty)


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Hey There my Little Chickpea.

When I was little I'd invite my friends to come over to my house to play D&D, video games, throw rocks at each other, and watch horror movies until my mom yelled at us to go to bed. "Normal American kids" pretty much, whatever that means. I lived outside of Atlanta, Georgia at the time and the few friends I had, had deep Southern drawls. But I remember it always being a little strange the first time a new friend would come over and hear my mothers hardcore New York (where I was born) accent and my grandparents Cuban accents. "Are you a Mexican?" they would ask with confusion and a hint of displeasure. "No asshole. I'm Cuban." would usually be my reply and then we'd awkwardly play by ourselves until their parents picked them up and we'd never hang out again. It wasn't the fact that they though I was Mexican. Or even the fact that they were young racists in the making. I was just proud to be Cuban (among other things). I wasn't going to let anyone make me feel bad about who I was. I had one or two friends that didn't care where I came from though.

I had one friend named Brian who came from a stingy, fat-shaming Baptist family. We became really good friends. I hated going to his house to play though. He was a bit husky and I remember his parents making him drink diet soda and they would order a medium pizza for the whole family of four plus me to share. Fuck that. One slice of sad cheese pizza and diet coke. What is this, prison? I told my mom how terrible it was over there and now whenever I'd go she would pack my backpack full of snacks. However the majority of the time he came to my house to play. I think he especially liked coming over because he could eat as much as he wanted. My family always shoved food on anyone who came over. It was kind and giving. Always trying to make everyone feel taken care of and included. A trait I still try to uphold.

I recall one of our favorite things that my grandmother would make us was the garbanzo and potato omelette (called omeletta). There were no eggs involved, just mashed chickpeas and potatoes with garlic and lots of spices. We would eat like three of them and drink regular cokes and eat bags of chips and candy and watch R-rated movies and life was good. Anyways, the last time I saw the guy we had all grown up (well he did I guess) and it was awkward and kind of unpleasant. He smoked a pipe and thought my mohawk looked "childish". After dropping him off I went out and bought some whiskey and cranked Minor Threat in the car. If growing up means getting all judgmental and boring then you can count me out. All I know is that I'm happy and I will never again be starved by Baptists.

Omeletta (Garbanzo Bean and Potato Omelette)

1 19oz can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and small diced (1/4"x1/4")
1 bunch scallions, sliced on the bias (separate the white from green)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp pimentón (smoke paprika)
1 tsp (Goya) adobo seasoning (you can just use a little seasoning salt if you don't have)
1/4 cup Spanish olive oil (plus an extra Tbsp)
kosher salt and fresh cracked clack pepper tt
parsley for garnish

sour cream (leave it out to keep it vegan)
hot sauce (I use Tapatio)

In a large non stick pan over medium high heat. Add 1/4 c. olive oil. Add the white parts of the scallions, garlic, and diced potatoes to the pan.
Saute until the potatoes are mostly tender (about 5 minutes).
Toss in the garbanzo beans, spices, and 1/2 cup water (or chicken stock/veg stock to make it even yummier). Cook for 5 more minutes until the liquid is mostly dissolved and the veggies are fully tender.
Pour half of the mixture into a large bowl and mash it until it become a chunky paste. Pour in the rest of the mixture into the bowl and gently stir to combine it.
Wipe the pan clean and add a Tbsp of olive oil. Spread the garbanzo and potato mixture into the pan so that it even and flush against the sides of the pan. Turn the heat down to medium and cook for 6 minutes until the bottom becomes golden brown.
Lay a large plate over the top of the pan and carefully flip the omeletta onto the plate. Then slide the omeletta back into the pan to brown the other side. After 5 minutes flip it back onto the plate.
Mix a few dashes of hot sauce into some sour cream.
Slice the omeletta into quarters. Garnish with the hot sauce/sour cream, green scallion and parsley.
Eat as much as you want. Enjoy life. Don't be a jerk. xoxo

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Show Me The Green.

Winter salad. The words just sound wrong together. Like mortal enemies being forced to paint each others' nails. Salad may not sound like something you want to stuff your hibernating belly during winter but Spring is upon us my dears (well in Seattle the weather's been so screwed up this year that Spring started last October and skipped right over winter. ie: the apocalypse). It's time to start filling your mouth with green leaves that don't start with K and end in ALE. Screw kale. I'm frickin tired of kale. I swear if my small farm CSA sends me one more box of kale i'll seriously lose it. I just need a few months of a kale free life and perhaps I can come to love it again come next winter.

So yes, winter salad. We've started to get some really nice heads of lettuce (butter, red leaf, romaine) in our veggie box and I decided that it was time for a salad. My belly is full of cheesy warm casseroles and my blood has been replaced by soup. I need something light and not 100% beige in color. My body had officially shut down and it refused to function until I put some fresh vegetables in there. The circles under my eyes reverted back to the usual lovely greenish black color versus the sunken-in weird yellow grey they had become. My over bloated stomach went back to it's usual slightly pudgy but happy self. My teeth felt a little less loose in my mouth and my gums stopped crying tears of blood. This salad made me feel alive again. It was either that or the massive amounts of PCP I smoked prior to eating dinner. I think it was the salad though. I really do

Roasted Cauliflower and White Bean Salad with Truffle Parmesan Dressing

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 19oz can white beans, rinsed and drained
1 head romaine lettuce (or what ever greens you want), washed, dried, chopped
1/2 English cucumber, peeled, halved longways, seeded, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, peeled, thinly sliced

1/4 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp Syrian za'atar (if you don't have it you can sub a mix of cumin, coriander and a tiny bit of cinnamon)

(the dressing)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp white truffle oil
2 tbsps white wine vinegar
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper tt

Preheat the over to 375F. Chop up a head of cauliflower and spread it out on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice, kosher salt, fresh cracked black pepper, and Syrian za'atar. Toss to coat and roast the cauliflower in the over for about 30 minutes or until tender (toss them once or twice while cooking so they don't burn). Set aside to come to room temp. 

In a bowl whisk all of the dressing ingredients until emulsified.

In a large salad bowl toss the beans, lettuce, cucumber, and red onion and enough dressing to coat until combined. Add roasted cauliflower and gently toss one more time. Add more dressing if needed and season with salt and pepper. Eat it as a meal or serve with some roasted fish or chicken. 

Side note. I don't smoke PCP. Especially not when I'm eating a healthy salad. That just seems counter-productive. xoxo

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Waiter, there's a potato in my soup.

One of the things I love about Winter is all the damn soup. I love soup. I'm pretty sure soup runs through my veins. I dislike the word soup though. It sounds creepy. Hmmm. I wonder why that is? When I was a kid I used to get cans of the Campbells cream of potato and bean and bacon soups all the time. You were suppose to add water or milk and heat them up but I would not add anything and eat them cold out of the can. I like salty. Yummy salt sludge. Now, I can't eat those soups without tasting the chemicals. Those chemicals are still nostalgic though and when I'm sick I crave them. Chicken and stars helps the flu every time. It probably kills the virus with it's salt content.

So now I make my own soups. It's better, cheaper, healthier, yummier, and most likely isn't preserving my internal organs with canned salt glue. In these cold months, I'll make a giant batch of whatever soup and eat it until I start crying because I need to eat something that tastes different. So I'll freeze half of it and have the rest at a later date. Nobody wants dinner time to be "let's play were in prison and eat soup and bread for every meal for the rest of our lives until we die" time. Three days of a soup diet is perfect for me though. Especially when it's one of those soups that you love to death.  "I'll give up whiskey and the ability to walk for this soup." "I'd go blind for more soup." Those kinds of soups are rare but there are a few.

My Leek and Potato Soup with Bacon is one of those soups. I'd kill a nun for this soup. It's that good.
I made like ten gallons of this soup but it only lasted two days. It was like I lived in a potato junkie rehabilitation center. You couldn't say the word potato without somebody crying in a corner.

Leek and Potato Soup with Bacon
1 lb. bacon, diced
2 Tbsp butter
3 large leeks, cut in half lengthwise, washed, and chopped. (Use the white and light green part only. Save the green for stock.)
3 lbs potatoes, peeled and diced
4 cups seasoned chicken stock
2 cups milk (or half and half)
1 bunch of scallion, thinly sliced
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
2 tsp cayenne (less if you do not spicy)
In a large pot of well salted water, boil the potatoes until tender. Drain and set aside.

In a large pot over medium heat render the bacon until crispy and browned. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon from the rendered fat and set aside on a paper towel. Add the butter and the leeks to the bacon fat and saute until tender. (5-6 minutes)
Add the broth and cooked potatoes to the pot. Bring to a low simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Using an immersion blender (or carefully using a regular blender), puree the soup and return to pan (I like mine smooth and creamy but do as you like). Add the milk and cayenne and simmer for another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. The soup should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon but not too thick. Serve in a bowl and garnish with crispy bacon and scallions. Add hot sauce if you like (I like). Sleep in the soup. Brush your teeth with the soup. Join a soup cult. xoxo

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Delicious Brick of Chemicals.

America has a knack for turning beautiful, artfully crafted foods into cheap, fast, over-processed shit. We turned the lovely hamburger into a quarter pound of bone sludge, sawdust, and "meat droppings" with processed plastic cheese between a bleached bun. Yum!!! Don't get me wrong. I'm as addicted to those chemicals as everyone else and when you're broke, some loose change for a meal (whether or not it actually sustains your body) is nothing to sneeze at. I'm a fast food whore. I can't say no. I know that I can feed deliciously fresh cheeseburgers to my family for not much more money than the drive-thru crap but I have a problem. The junk (soon to be in my trunk if I eat too much of it) calls my name. I allow myself fast food once in a while. I have too or I will die. It's a fact. I need my tasty, beefy drugs!!!

Anyways, one of those foods that we have turned into a brick of chemical is the amazing noodle dish ramen. In Japan and Korea they have mastered the art of making pre-packaged ramen with quality. It's not just for college students or half elf mages who cant pry their lazy asses away from their WOW session. The good stuff is only par-cooked and dried and when cooked has a springy chew to it (unlike the icky version which is fully cooked and dried and the second you hit it with water it becomes mushy). They are actually quality noodles. Not melty, low class cardboard strings. Ick.

One of my favorite ramens is the Korean Shin Ramen. It's spicy and beefy and pretty complex for an instant noodle. I always add an egg and some scallion and if I have it a few slices of fish cake called Kamaboko. It's the perfect snack or meal when you're in a hurry. See, you don't always have to resort to a bag of scary mystery. Sure there are a few chemicals in shin ramen but at least I know what they are and that they are not so bad for you. xoxo

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Filipino meets Korean meets Chinese meets Yummy.

Magandang hapon!!! Hey there friends and enemies keeping an eye on me. I hope your day is going well unless I hate you in which case I hope you are currently being force fed balut (vegans hide your eyes: Balut is Filipino fertilized chicken eggs with gooey chicken fetuses inside). Yum! I sure hope you brought your appetite! Anyways, enough talk of eating babies. Let talk about other super delicious things. 

I love Filipino food. Even though we have a pretty decent size Filipino community here in Seattle, there aren't very many restaurants to snack on the food. There are a few places out in the sticks but I don't want to brave the suburbs. Every time I leave the city (unless I'm going out into the wilderness to forage or soak up nature or bury the bodies) I am bluntly reminded: "Don't leave the city. It's scary out there. They'll eat your brains out there." There is one little joint in the market (called Pike Place Market if you don't live here) in the back of a cheapy "Oriental" dollar store market which consists of around ten beat up stools and a greasy, steamy window containing hot pans of beautiful Filipino delicacies. It's called Oriental Mart (or Ate Lei’s place depending on who you talk to). Grab some pancit (Filipino noodles) or chili beef and chat with the hilarious owner. There are different specials all the time depending on what Leila (the owner) felt like cooking. Everything I've ever had there was delicious and made with love and care.

However, in the summer months I tend to stay away from the market. I can't deal with the hordes of khaki cargo shorts and socks and flip flops that stagger around the cobblestones like lost, blind, sun-burned lobster-pig hybrids doped up on a volatile mix of cheese samples and big gulp sized frappuccino shakes. "OMG is that the very first Starbucks ever? Let's block traffic and take 17,000 pictures. We only have 90 billion Starbucks on our block back home so this is a real treat!" Ugh, I'd rather eat broken glass infected with ebola than deal with that shit show. Anyways, sorry for that outburst. In the winter months when the market becomes a little more local and quiet I love going there and filling my belly with some chicken adobo and pancit bihon. Last time I went there Leila smiled affectionately and said "My niece is one of you, referring to the fact that I'm a transgender woman." She then pulled out a picture of a pretty Filipino girl. "See, she's pretty like you." she said lovingly. I smiled and nodded and then she said "Eat the chili beef. I just made it."  I always feel welcome when I stop by. Slightly awkward, but totally welcome.

Anyways, this summer I made a sort of Filipino/Korean version of Pancit Canton to stave of my hunger for Filipino chow. It came out pretty damn damn delicious. I think Leila would have even liked it. 

Pancit Canton with Kim Chi and Beef

one package of pancit flour canton sticks/noodles (12oz)
1/4 lb bacon, chopped
1 lb. ground beef or thinly sliced top round
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 white onion, diced
1 cup kim chi, thinly sliced
1 red Korean chili (or what ever chilies you like), thinly sliced
2 cups beef broth
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tbsp fish sauce
4 tbsp soy sauce
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper tt

In a large saute pan or wok over medium high heat add the bacon and cook until rendered (4-5 minutes). With a strainer remove the bacon and set aside. Leave the bacon fat in the pan. Add the onion, garlic and chili and saute until translucent (3-4 minutes). Push the vegetables to the side and add the beef. Cook until browned and mix with the veggies. Add the beef broth, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and fish sauce and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the noodles and simmer until noodles are cooked through (about 4-5 minutes). Toss in the bacon and kim chi and serve. Garnish with fresh basil if you like. Masarap!!! xoxo

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Wacky Packages.

Climbing in your windows. Snatching your pantry up. So, I love finding new ingredients to cook with. Sometimes I'll go the Asian supermarket and just grab stuff that looks interesting or has super kawaii packaging. Oh look, that bottle has a picture of a little happy squirrel on acid holding hands with a crying squid. Aww I need it. I also like things with lots on exclamation points on the package!!!! That must mean that it's insanely awesome right? I sure think so. 

Here are five meals (all of which happen to be vegan) in which some fun ingredients were used (all tested out on my protégé Lucy). Some are wackier than others but all super delicious!!! Yes, they are all in the reddish brown color spectrum but it's not my fault that miss Lucy needs a quart of some form of hot sauce on everything she eats. She has a heat deficiency due to her cold black heart. It can't be helped. Anyways, here we go.

Filipino Black Vinegar Marinated Tofu Adobo with Red Pepper and Carrot. This one is pretty chill as far as crazy ingredients go. Aside from the black vinegar which is made from sugarcane and taste kinds like a really sour balsamic there is also a little bit of Maggi seasoning which taste kinda like soy sauce and Worcestershire mixed together. After marinating the tofu in soy sauce and black vinegar I seared it off in a hot pan with julienned red peppers, onions, carrots, and garlic. Added some of the marinade and a little veg stock and reduced a tiny bit. Yum.

Jerusalem Artichoke Angel Hair with Vegan Chorizo and Pimentón Spiked Tomato Sauce.
The Jerusalem artichoke pasta has a similar texture to whole grain pasta (which truthfully I don't care for) but better. I did a South American style fideo (noodles) with a spicy smoked paprika laced tomato and roasted red pepper sauce. I crumbled in some vegan chorizo (Field Roast brand) which actually has a pretty great texture and flavor. Not at all like some other brands which taste like spicy wet sawdust.

Szechuan Fried Rice with Fried Lemongrass Tofu and Chòu Dòufu (Preserved Tofu and Soybean). Fried rice made with tiny red Szechuan chilies that will burn your face off. I almost choked to death cooking this one. Chòu dòufu (also know as stink tofu or preserved tofu) smells like a rotten egg in a moldy wet sock. Here's the thing though. Cooked down it adds this amazing umami flavor that kills you with deliciousness. Super deep and rich and salty. A lot of people eat it raw which I cannot do. My gag reflex can't get past the lovely aroma. Super tasty cooked though.

Mushroom "Shrimp Ball" and Soba Noodle White Miso Soup.
I bought these taro root mushroom "meatballs" at Uwajimaya. They lay right next to the giant pink knobby fake ham logs. They're awesome. Firm and chewy in texture they really do well at impersonating shrimp balls. I would be fooled. The broth was white miso mixed into a little veggie stock and some soy and chili. Simple. Soba noodles are pretty much my favorite noodle. They are made from buckwheat. So yummy.

Vegan "Steak" and Kidney" Pie (Deconstructed)
Another Uwajimaya purchase, these fake kidneys looked like the inside of a bicycle tire. They were tasty though (although I've never eaten a tire so who knows). Lucy wanted steak and kidney pie but she is vegan. Damn you food network for putting terrible ideas into our impressionable minds! I also used boca meat crumbles for the steak portion and the usual suspects in steak and kidney pie. It was 90 degrees outside that day so instead of baking (screw that nonsense) I made a "crust" using honey panko and vegan butter. Lucy said it was delicious. Now I crave the real deal. Bollocks!

Anyways, try new things. Get creative. Have fun but don't stick your face in a hot deep fryer or juggle your chef knives. That would be dangerous. xoxo