Friday, October 29, 2010

Simple Tostadas

Tostadas are one of my favorite "healthy" meals. Sometimes I get complicated and make my own beans and tostada shells, but this time I opted for purchased shells, and beans from Compadre's (house-made, no lard).

You could also add any meat you want - pulled pork, shredded chicken, ground beef. Or skip the beans and top with ceviche. Endless possibilities. These particular tostadas were vegetarian out of laziness and lack of thawed protein.

There's no recipe, just spread some beans on the tostada shell, and top with whatever you want. This one had tomatoes, lettuce, avocado, cilantro, red onion, green olives, yellow chile, green chile sauce, Tapatio, and a squeeze of lime juice. (Yes, I have a tendency to over-chile.) No cheese, because I typically only use cheese when meat is a topping. But go ahead and use cheese if you want.

Visually appealing (look at all the colors!), always delicious. Great for when you don't feel like turning on the oven/stove. Lots of chopping, but worth it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Clam Chowder

Due to the crappy rainy weather we've been having lately, I had a craving for soup. I thought about going out and picking up some pho, or maybe menudo, but then my husband said he'd make clam chowder. Score!

He finely chopped celery and onion, diced potatoes, and sauteed the mix in some olive oil. While the veggies were cooking, he made a roux, then added heavy cream, broke up the lumps, then added 1% milk. In went the veggies to cook for a while, then he added a few cans of chopped clams (rinsed!), the strained liquid from the clams, and an additional bottle of strained clam juice.

He simmered the soup slowly, stirring frequently. (Creamy soups have a tendency to stick to the bottom of the pot.) Pretty soon the soup thickened nicely from the combination of the potatoes and the flour in the roux. Salt and pepper to taste, and serve with crusty bread.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Things I've Cooked Lately, Part IV

"Deviled" eggs. With anchovies, roasted red peppers and capers. Oh, stop it. Most people who say they don't like anchovies have never tried them.

Sandwich with homemade pickles (cucumbers in peperoncini juice for 3 days). And yes, those are indeed Doritos.

Sardine omelette on a toasted bagel. Again, stop it, sardines aren't bad. You can get some very good imported Spanish and Italian ones.

Spinach and strawberry salad with candied pecans. I used Simply Recipes' method for the pecans, but used smoked paprika and cumin instead of sweet spices. The dressing was white balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Hope you enjoyed the random collection. I'm sure there will be more in the future.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sab-E-Lee Restaurant

After reading Kirk's and Kirbie's accounts of their visits to the best Thai/Lao restaurant in San Diego, I finally made it to Sab-E-Lee. And I'm kicking myself for not having gone sooner. I want to go again. Tomorrow. It's that good. (Even my husband loved it. And he purportedly "hates" Thai food.)

So here's what the outside looks like.

Inside is very tiny, only 6 tables. But that's good, because the rest of the space is devoted to their kitchen and the wonderful things that come out of it.

We started with the Papaya Salad, or Som Tam. Shredded green papaya, tomatoes and tiny green beans, dressed with pounded peanuts, dried shrimp, and lime juice, fish sauce, something sweet (maybe palm sugar) and chiles. This was amazing.

My husband had the BBQ Pork Neck, or Kaw Moo Yaang (thanks, Leela!). Extremely tender pork, served with a small bowl of a spicy dressing/sauce for dipping. We both loved it.

I had the Duck Larb (Larb Ped). Strips of grilled duck with the skin still on, with red onions, roasted rice powder and chiles. Spicy, tart, ducky, earthy. Delicious.

We're most definitely going back. There are so many other things on the menu that we have to try - Beef & Tendon Stew, Nahm Tok, Spicy Raw Beef, Thai Sausage...yes, I must really get back there soon.

2405 Ulric St.
San Diego, CA 92111

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Egg Balls

What the heck are egg balls? They're delicious eggy cheesy puffy things with a terrible name.

My best friend learned to make them from her father, and she passed the recipe on to me, but only after getting permission from her son, who has insisted that the recipe remain a family secret. She asked him if she could show me how to make them, and he said "of course, she's more a part of our family than some of our blood relatives". How warm and fuzzy.

So since it's a secret, I can't give you proportions. But it's not too hard to figure out. Make bread crumbs from a fresh French or Italian loaf. Mix in parmesan (NOT the green can, for God's sake), chopped parsley, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Some chopped basil if you so desire. Beat in eggs, until you get something with the consistency of polenta that needs to cook a little longer. Kind of like a thin Cream of Wheat.

Heat about an inch of oil (vegetable, canola or corn) in a skillet. Use an ice-cream scoop or two large spoons to scoop up dollops and slide them (gently!) into the oil. Fry, flipping to cook all sides. As they're done, remove them from the oil, drain briefly, then put them in your tomato sauce.

On this particular night, we also had meatballs in the sauce, topped with sautéed mushrooms, along with fettucine.

But my favorite? Leftover eggballs and meatballs on a sandwich with provolone and torn basil.

So, there you have it - egg balls. Anyone have a better name?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Random Quotes from the WIP Household, Part X

Please note: Slightly less PG than previous installments.


"Did you feed the puppies?"

"Yes...No...You mean food?"


Dad: "You don't want to go to the fight with us? Frank Mir is fighting."

Youngest: "Did you say I get free beer if I go to the fight?"


Dude, I'm like the black-up pan. I mean back-up plan.


I refuse to marry anyone that can't make his penis dance.


You got to watch me grow up into a lady. With tits.


Chester's hips don't lie. He IS the she-wolf in the closet.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Olive Bread

I felt like doing something productive in the kitchen, but was too lazy to go to the store (that seems to happen a lot, doesn't it?). Glancing through what I had on hand, I soon came to the conclusion that I had to bake something, since every protein product I had was frozen solid, and pasta with homemade sauce just wasn't what I was looking for.

So, the first part of the decision was made. But what to bake? Hmm...I've got yeast. And a new bag of flour. Yeast + flour = bread. (Of course there's more to it than that, but you know what I mean.) Then I saw the containers of olives in the fridge, and remembered Ravenous Couple's no-knead olive bread. Everything about it was appealing, especially the no-knead part (see above regarding lazy).

So I grabbed my Oxo cherry pitter, and set to work on the olives (Castelvetrano and a marinated mix). I love my cherry pitter, and it's allowed in my kitchen because it pits both cherries and olives cleanly, and therefore has more than a single function.

I halved the recipe, and was later extremely glad that I did, because the jiggly puffy bubbly dough rose pretty close to the top of the largest bowl I own. After a few hours on the counter and a few more in the fridge, I scooped out a very sticky glob of dough, coated it in flour because I was out of cornmeal, and plopped it into my pre-heated enamel-coated cast iron Dutch oven. Into the oven it went, along with a tray of water below it to provide steam.

Ten minutes later I turned on the vent fan and removed the batteries from the smoke detector.

Twenty minutes after that I had delicious olive bread with a crackly crust. I had a slice still warm, spread with butter. The rest we ate with soppressata, Spanish ham, and cheese.

The best part? The dough keeps in the fridge for days, getting a little more sour with the passage of time. Four days later I had another loaf that was even better than the first.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Simple Tomato Salsa

Everybody likes salsa, right? It's so versatile - you can put it on top of eggs, fish, chicken, tacos, whatever. Or just eat it with tortilla chips (the typical mode of consumption in this household).

Here's my basic salsa recipe. (Yes, it's a lot of chopping. Make sure you have a sharp knife, and hide the tips of your fingers. Bobby Flay has a good video showing basic knife skills.)


3 large tomatoes
¼ - ½ red onion
1 serrano chile
1 jalapeño chile
1 yellow chile
a handful of chopped cilantro
the juice of ½ - 1 lime
1-2 garlic cloves (optional)

Quarter the tomatoes and remove the stem, core and seeds. (I freaking hate tomato seeds.) Do the same for the chiles. Dice up everything. I personally like ¼" pieces for the tomatoes and onions, and smaller for the chiles and garlic. Mix together, adding lime juice and salt. Let it sit for a while so the salt can work its magic on the tomatoes, i.e. it'll pull the water out so you have a salsa, not just a bowl of diced vegetables.

Serve. With everything.