Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The pig with three lives.

Repurpose- verb: To use or convert for use in another format or product

I love when a dish can give you several days worth of pleasure.  Leftovers with ninja skills.  The edible masters of disguise.  Sure you can eat them as is but what's the point of trying to relive the delicious glory days of one or two days ago?  Sure, some foods get better after a bit of resting (I'm looking at you soup) but the second you pop that beef stroganoff in the microwave, it's all over.  Mushy, grainy, gross, stinky, depressing are descriptive words that come to mind.  Okay, so you've progressed to using a full grown adult oven.  Still, some foods just aren't going to be the same.  They might look and smell like the food you know and love but in fact they are just ghosts of their former selves.  It's the Invasion of the Body Snatchers starring yesterdays rump roast.  

However, if you and your food have initiative your leftovers can in fact become something new.  A whole new identity.  Just as Diana Prince becomes Wonder Woman your leftover Swiss steak can become a mighty chicken fried steak or even a crime fighting steak sandwich.  All it takes is a little know-how and elbow grease (or perhaps bacon grease).

Take these Spicy Ginger Pork Spare Ribs for example.  Marinated in ginger, scallion, chili garlic paste, soy, sesame, and maple.  Slow roasted for a few hours until extremely tender.  Day one I served them with a tasty Cold Soba & Braised Endive Salad all drizzled with a Ponzu Ginger Vinaigrette.

Day two I served the ribs for breakfast with steamed sticky rice, rice wine braised scallions, a fried egg, and a sour Filipino style spicy adobo.  Still the same tasty ribs with a different supporting cast to spruce it up.  By the way, steamed rice with fried eggs and kimchi or some kind of spicy chili sauce is one of my all time favorite breakfasts.  The pork ribs threw it over the top.  So good but I needed a nap afterwards.

On day three it was time for a face lift.  I made Chino Latino Pork Rib Tacos with Baby Bok Choy Slaw.  Still the same ribs just spruced up for excitement and flavor.  I pulled all of the meat off the bones and tossed it with a little black pepper and black bean chili sauce.  A quick toss in in a saute pan and piled on a corn tortilla.  I then thinly sliced some baby bok choy and tossed it with some scallion, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, Maggi sauce (best secret Southeast Asian ingredient ever), light soy sauce, and a little pickled chilies.  Topped off with a drizzle of Sriracha hot sauce these Asian tacos blew me away they were so good.

Like I said, it's easy to eat leftovers they way they were.  There's no shame in reheating food.  It's disgusting how much food people waste.  They get tired of leftovers or let them go bad and toss them in the trash.  I know I've been guilty of this several times.  I love taking something tired and making it fresh and new again.  I get excited about these kinds of challenges.  I don't know about you but I cook because it's fun.  It's an adventure.  I cook because I have to.  It's in my blood, my soul.  If I'm not constantly creating then I have become what I fear, mundane.  Be in charge of the food in your fridge, don't let it control you.  If you're tired of what you're eating it's because your imagination has failed you.  You don't have to be Tony Danza to be the boss.  Food is like paint.  All you have to do is add a little bit of yellow to the blue to make green.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Salad Days.

Radish Greens and Heirloom Tomato Salad with Truffle Curry Vinaigrette 
(Wash radish greens, slice radishes thinly, toss radish and greens with tarragon and parsley, slice heirloom tomato,  season, whisk together olive oil, champagne vinegar, tsp curry powder, salt pepper, tsp truffle oil, drizzle over salad.)

Eating a salad for a meal is not something I usually get behind.  Unless of course we're talking about one of those "salads" where a bed of greens is piled precariously high with meat and cheese and other yummy, fatty toppings and then drenched with enough creamy dressing that you can drown out any worries of eating "healthy".  I love it when people eat out and while their happy companions are eating burgers and fries they pretend to eat healthy.  "Oh my god, burgers are so fattening."  "I'll just have a Cobb salad with three pounds of ham and cheese and avocado and chickpeas and bacon.  Can I just get that with a quart of blue cheese dressing and a doughnut on the side (most salads come with a bread option)."  Just own up to it, that salad is fattier than a double fried bacon tater tot gravy burger ever will be.  And if it didn't come with all that delicious nonsense it just wouldn't be worth eating.

 La Floridita Cobb Salad
(Cut romaine bite sized, top with avocado, ham or Cuban roast pork, turkey, manchego cheese, mushrooms, hearts of palm, sliced starfruit, cumin spiced croutons, top with favorite creamy dressing)

Okay, so that's not entirely true.  There are beautiful salads to be had that are simple little palate cleansers and dainty, delicate, summertime flavors.  I had the most simple arugula salad at Mistral a while back and it blew me away.  It consisted of arugula, pecorino cheese, croutons, and a tart lemon vinaigrette.  Simple, yet an amazing starter to a lovely meal.  But to eat a simple salad like this as a main course?  No thanks.  I'd rather eat fried chicken and go jogging (who am I kidding, I don't "jog").  As a kid I loved going to the all you can eat salad bar.  I would pile my plate so high with fixings (my favorites were always the hard cooked eggs, ham, and black olives) and I would forgo the lettuce.  Was it still a salad?  I don't know.  All of the ingredients came from the salad bar so it must be.  How would you categorize a towering monument of pork, cheese, eggs, covered in dressing?  Is it the lettuce that makes a salad a salad?  Is it the dressing?  Or is it the artfully stacked, loosely composed construction, that says "I'm a salad".  I'm no salad expert, but I say a salad doesn't have to be some weigh watching torture.  It can be whatever you like.  If it's delicious, I'll eat it.

 Warm Turnip Salad with Roasted Poblano Chilies and Bacon Mustard Vinaigrette 

(Roast Poblanos in 450 oven 30 minutes, remove skins, set aside, pan fry diced bacon, remove bacon and add butter to bacon fat, saute quartered turnips, season, add sliced poblanos, add bacon, serve with sliced scallion and a drizzle of lemon juice.)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Burger Master.

I make a pretty damn good burger.  Medium rare with just the right balance of toppings and condiments. I use ratio of 80/20 - Beef to fat.  Sometimes I grind hanger steak or brisket or even boneless short rib and add 20% pork fat.  The fatty gind is the secret to having the most succulent burger ever.  If the juice isn't dripping down your arm and drooling off your chin, you made it wrong.  The bun is also extremely important in the building of a good burger.  Too spongy and soft and the juices will soak and destroy (get it?) the bun before you've finished.  Too thick or dense a roll and the meat will get lost like a ugly middle child.  Bad bread is a serious burger crime.  Also, if you're going to put some veg on your burger such as tomato, lettuce, pickles, onions, kimchi, etc... be sure to use good quality vegetables.  I hate when people ruin a perfectly decent burger by slapping a tasteless, out of season, trout gene spliced, slice of beefsteak tomato or slimy, wilted gray lettuce on top.  Use great ingredients and great meat and great bread and you will have a great burger.  That burger up there is an Thundering Hooves Bacon Cheeseburger with local Brandywine Tomatoes, Arugula, and Irish Smoked Cheddar.  It's on a Frans Pub Style roll (which stand up perfectly to the juicy burger) with a little strong Dijon mustard, sliced Alvarez Farms onions and Bubbies dill pickles.

The burger down below is an Olsen Farms Bacon Cheeseburger with Beechers Flagship, Avocado, Black Krin Tomato, and Fry Sauce.  Served on those very same Frans rolls.  What is Fry sauce you ask?  We'll supposedly it was invented in Idaho or Utah depending on who you talk to.  It's basically one part ketchup to two parts mayo.  I spice it up a little a little hot sauce and a dash of smoked paprika.  It's a lot like a spicy Thousand Island dressing.  Perfect for dipping fries or slathering on a burger and you don't have to be Mormon to enjoy it.  Next time, I think I'll make an Asian inspired short rib burger with Sriracha Aoili, grilled shiitake mushrooms, and pickled carrot and daikon slaw on a steamed bun.  Yum.   

Here's a few of my all time favorite Seattle burgers:

The $28 Coupage Burger
Ground short rib, foie gras, truffle mayonnaise, red onion "kimchi", served with truffled potato crisps.  The Holy Goddess of all Seattle burgers.  Those of you who would scoff at the price tag for this burger need to live a little.  Thanks to Live To Eat for the photo.

The Dick Deluxe
Go ahead, make your jokes.  I've been making them for 13 years and it never seems to get old.  Gonna go eat some Dicks?  Har har har.  Freaking hilarious.  All childish hilarity aside, the deluxe is what "fast food" burgers should be.  They use fresh, quality ingredients to do old school burgers and the deluxe reigns supreme,  Two beef patties, American cheese, lettuce, "special" sauce.  Delicious.  Plus they are a pretty awesome company and they treat their employees pretty well.  Photo courtesy of Stop Screaming, I'm Driving.

Spring Hill Burger
A half a pound of Painted Hills beef teetering on a beautiful crusty bun, covered with a few slabs of bacon, two layers of cheese, and slathered with thousand island.  So freaking juicy and rich you will not want to wear clothes that you like when eating this burger because you will get messy.  Photo thanks to  Seattle Met.

Red Mill Bacon Double Deluxe Cheese Burger
I love Red Mill burgers.  This little Seattle mini-chain does a just couple of burgers and they do them right.  Apparently Oprah really loves this burger so you know it's good (she knows all).  Here's the description according to their menu: Two 1/4 lb. Patties, Pepper Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, Pickle, Red Onion, American Cheese, Mill Sauce.  I don't know what mill sauce but it's delicious.  Thanks Seattle PI for the pic.

The Burgermaster
Class since 1952 says Burgermaster's menu.  It's true what they say you know.  Keep it simple and good and people will love it.  That holds true for Burgermaster.  The only difference between then and now is that the waitresses don't take your order on roller skates which I am sad about.  I sometimes dream about being a drive-in waitress in a cute diner outfit and roller skates and when some idiot gets mad at me for getting their order wrong I "accidentally" dump the tray of food and shakes all over the poor saps lap.  Oh well, at least I don't have to dream about getting the delicious Burgermaster in my mouth because they are still here and hopefully will still be here in 50 more years.  Thanks Seattle Met for another photo.  Yum.

oh, and while you dream about delicious burgers tonight, don't let this happen to you....

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Green Gold.

5 delicious things to do with fresh avocados.

1. Fresh Guacamole.  This one's a given.  Such an easy sauce/dip/spread to make.  Especially delicious with some homemade tortilla chips and a few cold cervezas.  It's so easy.  With a fork, mash a few avocados and mix in a little chopped red onion, a little minced jalapeno or serrano chili, diced tomato, chopped cilantro, some lime juice, salt and pepper.  Sabroso!

2. Put avocado on you torta (that's Mexican for sandwich).  A torta can be made with diced chicken, pulled pork, whatever yummy fixin' you like.  Try my Torta con Chorizo de Bolita with some sliced avocado in it.  Delicioso!

3.  Garnish a spicy soup with some slices of the green gold.  Like I said in my last post about pozole rojo as well as this classic Hunger recipe for pozole verde, garnishes are the funnest part of eating a composed soup.

4. Avocado ice cream.  Yes indeed.  Avocado is actually a fruit and it's creamy texture and fattiness makes a tasty frozen treat.  Jamie Oliver's recipe is pretty damn delicious.  I also love how he served them in eclectic cans.  Pretty cool.

5.  Okay, so this isn't a food tip but a beauty tip for all you fashionistas out there.  Take an avocado, peel and pit it, mash it up and apply it to your face.  Leave it on for 15-20 minutes.  Wipe it off with warm water and rinse with cold water to close your pores.  Your skin will feel soft and your pores will be clean and happy.  Just don't forget to wash it off before going anywhere or you'll scare people.

Oh and don't forget this fun fact.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Liquid Breakfast.

Some days I feel like I need a little more than a two Bloody Mary breakfast.  Although I do get the vitamins I need from all the tasty vegetables (ie: celery sticks and olives) I often end up getting really sleepy in an hour or so.  I usually only have that kind of liquid breakfast on sunny Summertime days and on any day that ends with the letter Y.  Okay okay, don't get your briefs in a bunch.  I'm just kind of kidding.  All alcoholic jokes aside, I do love me a liquid breakfast (and the occasional Bloody Mary with breakfast).  No, not a morning bottle of vodka.  I'm talking about pozole.  The rich and murky Mexican soup filled with hominy and pork swimming in a spicy broth.  I never would've thought to eat soup for breakfast but the Mexicans, Vietnamese, Indonesians, and Chinese (among many others) have been eating an early bowl of soup since the invention of water.

An interesting blurb on Wikipedia claims that at one time, pozole was made of people.  Kind of Mexican soylent green. 'Since corn was a sacred plant for the Mexicans and other inhabitants of Mexico, pozole was made to be consumed on special events. The conjunction of corn (usually whole hominy kernels) and meat in a single dish is of particular interest to scholars because the ancient Mexicans believed that the gods made humans out of cornmeal dough. According to research by the National Institute of Anthropology and History and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, in these special occasions, the meat used in the pozole was human. After the prisoners were killed by having their hearts torn out in a ritual sacrifice, the rest of the body was chopped and cooked with corn. The meal was shared among the whole community as an act of religious communion. After the conquest, when cannibalism was banned, pork became the staple meat, as it "tasted very similar", according to a Spanish priest.'  In the name of authenticity I use pork, the other white meat.

Part of the fun of pozole is the garnishes.  Piled high with fresh avocado, cilantro, green onions, radishes, limes, tortilla chips, and queso cotija.  I like the contrast of textures and colors.  So many lovely things to choose from yet you need to find just the right combination or everything gets out of balance.  Plus you have to pile it precariously high because you don't want to miss out on anything.  I personally like to garnish the bowls of pozole myself if I'm feeding guests because A) I'm a total control freak, B) I have a total lack of faith in people garnishing their own food correctly, and C) I am a total arrogant control freak.  "No really, you don't like avocado?  Get the hell out of my house."  "You don't want cilantro in your pozole?  Why do you have so much hatred towards my Hispanic heritage?  No really, just leave."  I take it personal, ya know?  Quit so being picky about your garnishes and we'll get along just fine.

Pozole Rojo
8 cups pork stock or chicken stock
1 lbs pork shoulder or butt
1 large white onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 poblano or Anaheim chilies, sliced (seeded if you want less heat)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp dried New Mexico red chile powder
1 30-ounce cans white hominy
salt and pepper tt

fresh cilantro
diced avocado
thinly sliced green onion
chopped white onion
sliced radishes
lime wedges
tortilla chips
queso cotija or jack cheese

Cut the pork into 1" cubes.  Season with salt and pepper.  In a large pot with little olive oil, saute the pork over medium high heat to get a nice brown crust (4-5 minutes). Remove to a plate and keep warm.  Add a little more oil and add the diced onion and saute 2 minutes.  Add the garlic, carrots, and peppers and saute a few more minutes until all the vegetables are soft (3-5 minutes).  Add the pork back to the pot.  Add the chili powder, oregano, and cumin and stir until fragrant.  Add the white hominy and pork stock, cover, and simmer over low heat for 1 1/2 hours or until the pork is almost falling apart.  Garnish and serve. Such a simple and perfect breakfast.  Sometimes I top it with a fried egg.  Delicioso!