Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Random Quotes from the WIP Household, Part VI


Me: Where did the day go?

Youngest: To the left. That's where it likes to go.


If only Communion tasted this good, people would go to church more often.


Youngest, eating a hot fudge sundae: It's like Jesus. Only better.


"I ain't gonna conversate with bitches I ain't gonna hit."

(Sorry for that, I try to keep this blog mostly PG, but that one was really funny. Or maybe you had to be there.)


Good Lord, the History Channel rocks!


I'd be sexy in China.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Breaded Fried Sardines

A while back I was at Marukai Market, and picked up a package of four whole sardines for about a dollar. What was I going to do with them? I had no idea, but was sure I could come up with something.

After a while, I decided I wanted to stuff them with bread crumbs, cheese and herbs, and pan fry. So I got to work.

Imagine my surprise when I opened the package and discovered that these fish were whole. I mean completely whole, guts and everything included. It looked like I had to learn how to gut a fish.

It actually wasn't too bad. And by that, I mean it was thoroughly disgusting and I really don't ever want to do it again. I learned two things: fish guts are gross, and sardine skin is incredibly fragile. But in the end, I had 8 fillets, relatively intact. I had been aiming for whole (so I could stuff them), but that apparently doesn't happen once you pull out the spine. Oh well, on to Plan B - no stuffing just rolled around in seasoned bread crumbs, and fried in a little oil.

Tasty? Heck, yes. These taste nothing like sardines from a can. They taste like...well...fish. Good fish. Crunchy fried fish. So good, that I'm now on the lookout for more (already cleaned) sardines.

Friday, May 21, 2010

French Onion Soup Cups

I rarely buy those packages of refrigerated biscuits, but I read On My Plate's post on French Onion Soup Cups one day, then saw that Trader Joe's makes their own dough-in-a-tube. Coincidence?

I modified the recipe slightly, using milk instead of cream. I also caramelized the onions for about an hour at low heat, instead of the higher heat / shorter cooking time in the recipe. Left out the thyme (Hubby hates it), and added bacon (because I could).

The end result was happy sweet onions in a cheesy peppery sauce, studded with bits of always-delicious bacon, topped with more cheese, all in a carbo-cup.

That's some serious comfort food.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Shrimp Salad for Cooking to Combat Cancer 4

I made this salad a while back, took a photo, and promptly forgot about it. But then Chris from Mele Cotte reminded us that she's hosting Cooking to Combat Cancer, in it's 4th year.

I figured that this was a healthy salad, but after doing a little research, I realized I need to make this more often!

Since it's a salad, there's not much of a recipe, just slice, chop, cook the shrimp (seasoned with tons of garlic, paprika and salt), make the dressing (olive oil, balsamic vinegar, crushed garlic if you wish, salt & pepper), and toss everything together. Since there's no recipe per se, instead you'll get a breakdown of why this salad is a cancer-fighting bowl of delicious:

Lettuce - The darker the better for cancer-fighting properties, but even romaine has health benefits.
Shrimp - High in selenium, a trace mineral helpful in keeping prostate cancer away. Shrimp are good for you in other ways, too.
Tomatoes - One of the best sources of lycopene, a cancer-fighting carotene.
Fennel (bulb and fronds) - Contains anethole, a powerful antioxidant.
Radish - Contains lots of vitamin C, folic acid and anthocyanins.
Balsamic vinegar - Lots of antioxidants, including quercetin.
Olive oil - Fights colon and breast cancer.
Garlic - It's an allium, therefore it's good.

The only component of this salad that isn't cancer-fighting is the feta I crumbled on top. But with all the other healthy goodies, I feel no guilt.

So, have this salad with a glass of red wine (another cancer combatant), and you'll be doing yourself a favor.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Franks and Beans, or Beanie Wienies

Can you believe I've never had franks and beans before? I know I've never made it or had it in a restaurant, and I can't remember my parents ever making it when I was a kid. But I came across this post for Beanie Wienies for Grownups over at Homesick Texan, and I just knew it would be good.

After sauteing the onion and garlic (plus a jalapeno, because I could) in bacon fat (from crisped up bacon instead of the salt pork), in went the beans, sliced Nathan's hot dogs, the sauce ingredients, and the chopped up bacon. I omitted the brown sugar, because I thought it was sweet enough with the molasses. My chile powder was a mix of ancho, chipotle, and New Mexico powders, along with a little Aleppo pepper and a habanero flake or two.

I didn't make my beans from scratch, because I've found that Sun Vista beans are better than anything I can do myself. Instead of the white beans the recipe called for, I used pinto beans, because Hubby insisted on it.

Was it good? Hell, yeah. Especially served with a biscuit and a poached egg.

Hubby said he thought the coffee made it bitter, but I totally disagree. He wouldn't have know there was coffee in it if I hadn't told him.

Like I said, I've never had beenie weenies (I prefer the incorrect spelling in this case) before today, but I can guarantee this is 100 times better than anything out of a can.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Sun Flour Bagel, Carlsbad CA

The other day I had the pleasure of visiting Sun Flour Bagel, at 6955 El Camino Real in Carlsbad (in the Vons shopping center, across from the post office). My iFriend hifisamurai had contacted me, wondering if I’d like to post a review of the shop. I jumped at the chance, because I had been there once before, and enjoyed what I had.

Sun Flour Bagel will celebrate their four year anniversary in June, and I'm kicking myself for missing their first 3.5 years. Besides the regular bagel shop offerings, they have Japanese pastries on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. The rush starts at 11am, and they usually sell out by noon. So if you want to get your hands on some of these goodies, get there early!

Sun Flour Bagel has a loyal Japanese clientele for the pastries, and a loyal American clientele for the bagels, but the owner, Mr. Numata, is looking to bridge the gap, and get more Americans to try the Japanese pastries. And so they should, for these are delicious, and most likely different from anything you've ever tasted.

I asked about the bread, and what makes it special. Mr. Numata told me (with help from his employee Sayoko as translator) that the Japanese have the perception that good = soft, and hard = bad. He had me squeeze a loaf of his bread – this is definitely not Wonderbread, people. It’s pillowy and squishy and airy, the softest, lightest bread I’ve ever seen. Mr. Numata said that he doesn’t know how to make the typical “hard” American bread, but that it did take him some time to get the recipe right for his Japanese bread, due to the ingredients available here. He said a lot of the texture has to do with the water – American water is hard (i.e. full of minerals), while Japanese water is soft – and also that the flour must be high in gluten to get the proper texture.

All the sweet buns (or pan, which means bread in Japanese) are made with this bread dough, are sweet but not too sweet, and are stuffed with various fillings. Japanese pastries are typically much less sweet than American baked goods, but Mr. Numata adds a little more sugar than is traditional to his pastries, to better fit the American palate. I tried the green tea cream and red bean pan, and the custard cream pan. Both were delicious.

Green Tea (Matcha) and Red Bean (Adzuki) Pan

Custard Cream Pan

I also sampled the croquette pan, consisting of potato and vegetable croquettes, rolled in breadcrumbs and fried, and tucked into a bun with cabbage. The bread crumbs for the croquettes are made from the loaves of Japanese bread, grated while still fresh. Sayoko told me that the crumbs don’t work as well if they’re dried or flaked very small, because they absorb too much oil when fried.

Croquette Pan

But my favorite hands down has to be the curry pan– a light bread shell, filled with a mildly spicy curry (don’t think Indian curry, folks, this is Japanese all the way), and fried until golden. Fried, but not greasy in the slightest. And they reheat very well in a 350 degree oven. So stock up if you can.

 Curry Pan

Also on offer is the yakisoba pan - yakisoba and cabbage in a bun, topped with shredded pickled ginger.

Yakisoba Pan

And for more sweets, try a melon pan or a red bean pan. I didn't taste either one, but a coworker said "that's some good stuff".

Melon Pan

 Red Bean (Adzuki) Pan

There's also the cream cheese French toast pan, made from the thickly sliced bread, with a layer of jam in the middle.

 Cream cheese French toast

And finally, the sausage cheese pan, which made me think of a grown-up version of pigs in a blanket.

 Sausage Cheese Pan

All of the pastries run from $1.75 to $2.80 - a better deal cannot be found in La Costa!

There are sandwiches available, including the special tonkatsu sandwich, which isn’t on the menu, and is made to order. Call it on the “secret menu”, if you wish.

And, just to prove to you all that they serve typical bagel shop goodies, here are some menu shots:

Bottom line: If you find yourself in Carlsbad, stop by Sun Flour Bagel. Whether you get a bagel or a pastry, it's money well spent, and your taste buds will thank you.

Note: I was not compensated monetarily for this review; however, all the goods in the pictures were provided to me free of charge by Sun Flour Bagel (and subsequently shared with my happy and grateful coworkers).

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Lamb Kebabs with Spicy Tomato Sauce and Yogurt

I had some ground lamb languishing in my freezer, and came across this recipe for Yogurtlu Kofte Kebabi, or Lamb Kebabs with Spicy Tomato and Yogurt Sauce, over at Amuse Bouche.

I followed the recipe to the letter, except I omitted the pine nuts, because, frankly, I don't care for them.

Lamby meatballs, spicy tomatoey sauce, cool yogurt, lemony sumac, all on top of crispy pita bread that slowly softens under the warm sauce. Absolutely delicious.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Things I've Cooked Lately

Here's another installment of "things I've cooked lately", otherwise known as "I'm too lazy to write a whole post on one thing".

First, we have almonds for biscotti. Yummy little cookies. And I thought the picture was cool. Although it made me realize just how badly I need to send my knife to Kyocera to have it sharpened.

Next up, my take on a Cubano sandwich, using pork from a shoulder roast I made, Swiss cheese, deli ham, pickles, and mustard. Tip: Leave the pickles off the sandwich until after it's toasted. Because hot pickles are weird.

And from the same pork shoulder, crispy happy cracklings. Just peel off the skin and bake it at 350-400 until crackly.

And finally, butter. Why butter? Because I made it myself by shaking the hell out of some leftover cream. It was awesome.

That's all for now, hope everyone's enjoying their weekend!