Monday, March 31, 2008

Food Allergies

Anyone want to read a list of things I've developed allergies to over the years? I thought so!

In no particular order:
Honeydew melon
Persimmon (the hard variety, not the soft one)
Brazil nuts
Hazel nuts
Wheat flour

All of the above result in some sort of throat-constricting, mouth-itching uncomfortableness. If my lips are even slightly chapped, avocados make me swell up like Angelina Jolie. Raw cookie dough? Can't. Even some chocolates (e.g. Fannie May, Ghirardelli) make me itch, no idea what ingredient causes that. And the nut thing? I can't eat a cashew that's even come into contact with a pecan.

Interestingly, once any of the above are cooked (although I've never cooked watermelon), I'm fine.

Also a little strange, I have no problem with peanuts, strawberries, shellfish - all the typical allergies.

However, allergies be damned, I say! I just finished a BLT with overeasy egg & avocado. And later on for a snack I may have some canteloupe. Yes, the itching and constriction is annoying (and a little scary in the case of watermelon). But it's never been so bad as to require medical attention. So I'll continue to get a little satisfaction by eating the bastards.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Asado de Puerco

I bought some country-style pork ribs a little while ago, but had no idea what to do with them. Through the wonders of the Internet, I found this recipe from The Spice Must Flow, and decided to give it a go.

I halved the recipe since I had 2 lbs of ribs instead of 4. Because of that, 2 hours was a little too long of a cooking time, and the sauce got slightly dried out and burnt around the edges, and way too bitter. I salvaged the sauce by scooping up the non-burnt parts, adding a little water, then mushing through a sieve. Still bitter, so I added a little sugar - success!

I also had to rinse the bitter sauce off the ribs (yes, I rinsed off my pork).

After all that, this was hands-down the best hunk-o-pork I've ever cooked (except for Robert Rodriguez's cochinita pibil). I roughly shredded the meat, and we made mini-burritos with some of the salvaged sauce and some guacamole on flour tortillas.

I highly recommend this recipe, but make sure you don't burn your sauce!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Cucumber, Tangelo and Radish Salad

My go-to no-cook side dish is sliced cucumbers tossed with chili powder, Lawry's and lemon juice. Tonight I decided to experiment by adding radishes and tangelo sections, and replacing the lemon with lime. (Tangelos could be replaced with oranges or tangerines, depending on what's available.)

The verdict? A winner!

Cucumber, Tangelo and Radish Salad
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 2 tangelos, cut into sections, sections cut in half, obvious seeds removed
  • 4 radishes, cubed smaller than the cucumber
  • chili powder
  • salt
  • juice of 3-4 limes
Mix everything together, seasoning to taste with salt and chili powder.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Egg Salad & Cheddar Cheese Quesadilla

I love egg salad.

I love quesadillas.

Never did I think the two would go well together. It sounded strange. It sounded a little gross - hot egg salad? Bleh. Or so I thought.

The first bite (dipped in Tapatio of course) was startling. Cheesy egg salad in a crisp tortilla is yummy! Eldest child and hubby each had a suspicious taste. Suspicion was quickly dispelled and replaced with "Can I have another bite?"

Thanks to Kalyn's anonymous reader for the inspiration.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Post #100 - Hot Wing Sandwich

I don't do hot wings very often. But when I do, they're from Wings 'N Things. And they're not really wings, they're the Boneless Chicken Strips. They offer mild, medium, hot, and extra hot. I like hot, my husband likes medium. I've never had the extra hot - I'm sure I can handle it, but at the same time, I'm sure it would be extremely uncomfortable.

Note - the sauce uses what hubby calls "white people chilies". For some reason, he can eat serranos or those hot yellow ones with no problem, but give him a vinegary cayenne sauce, and he's burning for hours.

Anyhow, if you go to Wings 'N Things, order some chicken strips, celery/carrot and blue cheese, and some garlic breadsticks, and bring them home. Also make sure you have some cilantro and some kind of cucumber or pickle on hand (but go easy on the hot pickle because of the sauce).

Now, to make your sandwich, kind of a bastardized banh mi:

Slice open your breadsticks. (I scoop out some of the bread in the middle. Carbs are bad, y'know.) Slice the carrots and celery lengthwise, kind of julienned. Into the bread, layer in your chicken, celery, carrot, cilantro, cucumber/pickle, and blue cheese dressing.

Damn, that's good.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Post #99 - Pearl Chinese Cuisine, Rancho Bernardo CA

We went to Pearl for dim sum on a recent Sunday. It was our fist San Diego dim sum experience, and it was delightful. The clientele was about 70% Asian, which was a good sign. The layout was the typical banquet dining style. All the cart ladies were friendly and willing to explain (though not in any detail) what the various items were to us white people.

Here's what we had:

Fried chive and shrimp dumplings - little balls of noodle wrapper filled with a lightly seasoned shrimp and chive mixture, then fried. A little greasy, but very good, probably my favorite.

Fried coconut shrimp ball - chopped shrimp, breaded with coconut, and covered in wonton strips. Messy, but worth it.

Sugar cane shrimp - shrimp dumpling skewered on a piece of sugar cane, then breaded and fried - husband's favorite, I wasn't as impressed.

Chinese broccoli - simple, the only green vegetable not enclosed in some sort of wrapper. The greens held up amazingly well throughout lunch, and were even good cold (but I'm of the opinion that anything can be good when dipped into Chinese hot mustard).

Barbecue pork pastry - Sweet barbecued pork wrapped in a bun, sprinkled with sesame seeds, and baked - a bit strange to the American palate, but very tasty.

Pork shu mai - the wrapper texture was perfect, the filling nicely spiced. I could live on these.

Pork potstickers - these probably would've been good if they were hotter than room temp and less greasy. The only disappointment.

I wish I had tried the shrimp cheong fun (shrimp in noodle, in sauce) and the fried taro ball, but we were too full. Oh well, just one more reason to go back.

Pearl Chinese Cuisine
11666 Avena Place
San Diego, CA 92128

Friday, March 21, 2008

My 3rd Chunky of 2008

My 3rd chunky of 2008 for the Chunkster Challenge (hosted by Dana) was The Art of Eating by MFK Fisher. (See here and here for my first two.)

I had been hearing references to Ms. Fisher for years, and finally decided to get The Art of Eating, which includes 5 books, Serve It Forth, Consider the Oyster, How to Cook a Wolf, The Gastronomical Me, and An Alphabet for Gourmets.

I'm so glad I finally picked this up! On the surface, the books are about food, but they're more of an autobiographical culinary journey of a woman who lead a very interesting life.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Post #98 - I Made Sushi!

I made sushi.


Oh, yes I did.

A big thanks to Soy and Pepper for helpful tips (like the bowl of water!). I think it turned out pretty darned good for my first attempt. The rolls didn't fall apart, and I got a nice rice-to-stuff ratio. But I think I could've seasoned the rice a little more.

Here's what I did:

Cook frozen sauced eel according to package directions. Let cool, then slice into 1/4" thick matchsticks.

Cook sushi rice according to package directions. Season with rice wine vinegar, mirin, sugar and salt.

Chop green onions into 2" lengths.

Spread rice on nori (shiny side down), add some eel and green onion, dribble some of the eel sauce on top, then roll. Serve with pickled ginger, wasabi and soy sauce.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Shameless, Selfish Plug for Cooking by the Seat of My Pants

I'm sure you've heard of Cooking by the Seat of My Pants. You haven't? Then get over there!

Not only does Jerry have great recipes, the Morning Cuppa (where you get food-related information of-the-day), and Thursday Thirteens, he's giving away an iPod Touch.

Hence the reason for the title of my post.

Seriously, though, the site is great, and I strongly encourage you to check it out if you haven't done so already!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Post #97 - Poetry

This is the most beautiful poem I've ever read. It was written in English (of the 13th century), mixed with Latin.

Of on that is so fayr and briht
Velud maris stella,
Brihter than the dayis liht,
Parens et puella,
Ic crie to the, thous se to me,
Leuedy, preye thi sone for me
Tam pia,
That ic mote come to the,

Leuedi, flour of alle thing,
Rosa sine spina,
Thou bere Ihesu, heuene king,
Gratia diuina.
Of alle thou berst the pris,
Leuedi, quene of parays
Mayde milde moder es

Al this world was forlore,
Eua peccatrice,
Tyl our lord was ybore
De te genitrice.
With aue it went away
Thuster nyth and comet the day
The welle springet hut of the

Wel he wot he is thi sone
Ventre quem portasti;
H wyl nout werne the thi bone
Paruum quem lactasti.
So hende and so god he his,
He hauet brout ous to blis
That hauet hidut the foule put

Of kare conseil thou ert best,
Felix fecundata;
Of alle wery thou ert rest,
Mater honorata.
Bisek him wit milde mod
That for ous alle sad is blod
In cruce,
That we moten komen til him
In luce.

Explicit cantus iste.

Post #96 - Corned Beef and Cabbage

No, I'm not Irish. Yes, I made corned beef and cabbage. (And yes, I know corned beef and cabbage isn't really all that Irish.) And I swear the only reason I did it (make that 2 reasons) was 1. to make hubby happy and 2. so I can make corned beef hash tomorrow.

And even though corned beef hash is a lovely thing, I think I'm done with corned beef. The amount of fatty gelatinous blech that I removed from the brisket is scary.

If you're still interested, here's how to make corned beef and cabbage:

Buy a brisket already seasoned. Drain off the blood (eww) and dump into a big stockpot. Barely cover with water. Bring to a boil, then skim the scum from the surface. When it stops scumming, add a quartered onion, some peppercorns, and a bay leaf or two. Bring back to a boil, cover, and simmer at a low boil for about 2.5 hours for a 3.5lb brisket. Check a stringy bit in the middle - is it still tough? Boil it some more.

Remove brisket to a dish and keep in a low oven. To the boiling liquid, add red potatoes (I used 8 medium) cut in 1/4s or 1/8s, 2" pieces of celery (3-4 stalks), and 2" pieces of carrot (3 carrots). I know carrot shouldn't be in there, but like I said, I'm not Irish. Boil about 10 minutes, then add wedged cabbage (almost a whole head), and boil another 10-15 minutes or until everything is done.

Remove the veggies from the liquid, and serve with the brisket, sliced across the grain (after you've removed the aforementioned fatty gelatinous blech).

But now, for the leftovers, in my opinion better than the original...the hash.

Cut up all your leftovers into 1/2" chunks. Heat a skillet. Mix whatever quantities of cut-up stuff you want and dump in the skillet. Season with lots of pepper. Let brown a little. Toss. Let brown some more. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

No, I don't use any butter or oil. The damned brisket and fat-slicked veggies have enough fat in them already, thank you very much.

And, the best part? Poach, sunny-side, or overeasy an egg, and slide it on top of your plate of hash. That's what heaven tastes like.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Post #95 - Chicken Legs with Zucchini and Rice

To serve 4:

8 chicken legs, rubbed with olive oil and lemon juice, sprinkled liberally with Lawry's, garlic powder, paprika, dried basil and oregano.

Place in a cast iron Dutch oven over a layer of lemon slices and garlic.

Bake uncovered until done (1 hour at 350 or so).

Cut 3 smallish zucchini into sticks, sauté with olive oil, paprika, garlic powder and salt. Grate parmesan over the top when done.

Cook jasmine rice (if you want to know how I do it, ask.).

Chicken, zucchini, rice, soy sauce and a plate.

Brainless, and good.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

My 2nd Chunky of 2008

I committed myself to reading 4 chunky books this year (chunky being defined as at least 450 pages) by signing up for the Chunkster Challenge, hosted by Dana.

My second chunky of the year (see here for the first) is Duma Key by Stephen King.

Duma Key is similar to King's other works since his accident in regards to writing style - I'm not sure how to describe it, but post-accident is definitely different from pre-accident. One thing that Duma Key has in common with earlier works, however, is that it takes a looooong time to get going. Remember Insomnia? The first half of the book was a cure for it.

Like all King books, I read it fast, and retained little of it. I think that's more my fault than King's. (Ask me where Edgar says "If they didn't take any of my pictures with them ,they'll be fine", and I can tell you it's about 3/4 of the way through, left-hand side, bottom 3rd of the page. But ask me how the book ends, I can't tell you.) But I enjoyed every second spent reading it. King once again achieved that perfect balance of reality and supernatural, where you start believing that it could actually happen. Until you wake up in the morning with a book-corner-depression on your cheek because you fell asleep reading.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Chicago Summary

We're back from our whirlwind tour of Chicago and its surrounding 'burbs.

Here are some of the paintings we saw at the Art Institiute:

Georges Seurat, A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grande Jatte:

Vincent Van Gogh, Bedroom in Arles:

Georgie O'Keefe, Cow's Skull with Calico Roses:

I forgot to note the artist/name on this one, please forgive me, if anyone knows, please let me know!
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Beata Beatrix (thanks to caninecologne!):

Pablo Picasso, The Old Guitarist:

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Chicago Time-Out

To all 3 of my subscribers: I'm in Chicago for a while visiting family. So, most likely, no posts for a while. And, unfortunately, with my continued lack of a camera, no photo roundup of Chicago eats when I get back.

Speaking of photos, go to Bill Slater's site, and take a gander at "Cloud Gate", aka "The Bean", in Millennium Park in Chicago. I love The Bean in all of its hideously tacky glory.

Back to the important stuff, we went to Portillo's tonight, and I ordered what is quite possibly my favorite sandwich in the world, Italian Beef, hot, dipped (that's dipped in au jus and sprinkled with a pickled mix of hot peppers, celery and carrot). This is the first thing I eat every time I visit "home". They ship to anywhere in the country, but it works out to $8.25 per sandwich after shipping (and putting it together yourself). Better to let absence make the heart grow fonder, and spend $4.59 once every year or 2, and let the experts make it for you.

A side note, Portillo's has a Buena Park CA location, and a new one set to open in Moreno Valley in a few days. I haven't been to the Buena Park location, but if you go to the website, you'll see slight differences in the "California menu", most notably a prominent salad section, and higher prices. My $4.59 sandwich in Chicago is $5.15 in CA. I hope that's because they import Gonella bread from Chicago. Don't get me wrong, you can get some darn good bread in CA, but nothing close to what's required for Italian Beef.