Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Things I Ate While I Was Gone

Things I ate while I was away:

  1. Publix Fried Chicken. Satellite Beach, Fl.
  2. Da Kine Diego’s Insane Burrito. Satellite Beach, Fl.
  3. Bizarro’s Pizza. Melbourne Beach, Fl.
  4. Tamales, Gator, Sausage on a Stick. The Houston Rodeo, Tx.
  5. Feast. The Restaurant. Houston, Tx.
  6. Charbroiled Oysters, Fried Shrimp PoBoy, Turtle Soup, Debris Sandwich, Stuffed Bell Peppers, Jambalaya, Boudin (in ball form), Oysters Rockafeller, Muffaletta, et al, NOLA.

Big Surprise It was So Good:
      Turtle Soup 

Big Surprise It Tasted Just like Antipasto:

      The Muff

Pounds I gained:

     We’re not talking about it.

Pleasure I derived from eating these things:

     Cannot be measured.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Guac, Fish Tacos, Mandatory Hot Sauce

While I was gone I had the pleasure of hanging out with my mom, who is a lovely person and notoriously doesn’t try a lot of new food. This plus the fact that we were in the south – where everything is delicious, fatty and fried – inspired some home cooking by the boyfriend and me for mom. My mom lives in Florida on the water, so the fish selection is pretty fresh and so are the avocadoes, etc., which naturally led us to guac and fish tacos.

To start, I made my super easy guac recipe with homemade corn tortilla chips. There is hot sauce in it, but I feel like I should tell you it’s not spicy at all unless you really, really pile it on. In other words, Don’t Skip the Hot Sauce. You need it. The Guac needs it.

For the Guac:
2 ripe avocadoes, cut open, pit out and flesh smashed to bits with a fork
1 tomato, diced
1/3 of a red onion, diced
hot sauce (Louisiana or Chalula work well but any is fine.)

Do This:
Mix it all together. Start light with the salt and hot sauce and tweak it. Try not to eat it all while you’re testing.

For the Chips:
Corn Tortillas
Extra Virgin Olive Oil and basic seasonings
Tin Foil

Do This:
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Cut corn tortillas to look like chips. Any chips. I like triangles.
Put them all in a bowl with EVOO (or any oil really), salt, pepper, garlic + onion powder, whatever strikes your fancy, and mix with your hands.
Place them individually on a tin-foil-layered pan and into the oven they go.
I actually have no idea how long you cook them, less than 10 minutes. Check them frequently; they’ll get crispy and brown, and they’ll cool down pretty quickly after you take them out so you can get to munching.


For the Fish Tacos:
Mahi mahi, cut into strips
Lime juice

Do This:
Mix it all together and marinate for a half hour or so. Then pan sauté it all with salt, pepper, etc. A pat of butter wouldn’t hurt either.
Serve it on briefly warmed (IE, thrown in the preheated oven for 30 seconds) corn tortillas. If you don’t do this, the tortillas will break in half. True story.

Add salsa & hot sauce if ya like it hot. Some do. My mom, of course, doesn't.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Giant Pots: Veggie Soup

Giant pots of food get me excited for so many reasons. Most importantly, they are the gifts that keep giving, especially when you work a soul crushing 9-5 job that often requires you to take lunch at your desk. So I make a giant pot of something on a Sunday and bring a vat of it to work to parcel out throughout the week. This helps me avoid lunchtime decision fatigue and spending 5-10 bucks on something I don’t really want to eat, and it provides a whole ton of vitamins I can be happy about. (As opposed to getting a fast burger and sitting at my desk all day.) Veggie soup. Have at it.

Ingredients: Everything in the picture plus chicken or veggie broth (no salt) and a dollop of red sauce at the end. The things in the bowl are soaking kidney beans, but you can replace those with a canned version (rinsed). You’ll use only half of the onion, the eggplant, the red pepper and the green pepper. Honestly, you could really tinker with the amounts of ingredients one way or the other and be fine. Most vegetables play well together.

Caveat: You MUST salt & pepper at every stage in the process. It won't taste quite right if you just add it at the end. Take note!

1. Dice several cloves garlic, ½ the onion, the whole Serrano pepper and sauté them in extra virgin olive oil in a soup pot until they’re soft. Salt & pepper. Medium heat.

2. Add chopped tomatoes, stew for a couple minutes.

3. Throw in chopped potatoes to soften for a few minutes. I like to do the potatoes early, but I bet you could toss them in with step 4 with no serious consequences.

4. Chop up ½ eggplant, ½ of each pepper, whole yellow squash, zucchini. Throw in the whole mess and toss everything around so that the liquid on the bottom coats everything. Add more olive oil if you like. You’ll want to let these simmer, covered, until all the veggies have softened up and gotten to know each other. About 15 minutes. If it gets extra hot and sizzly during this time, throw in just a little of the broth, lower the heat and keep covered. Basically, you want to keep the veggies from frying.

5. Add all of the broth and the kidney beans.

6. Let it simmer on low for a super long time. 2 hours or longer, covered. If you’re using the dry beans that you soaked (instead of the can), then make sure you let it go for at least 2 hours because they need to cook. No matter what you do, it’s going to taste better the next day. This is the nature of a big pot of food.

7. I add a dollop of red sauce (like Classico 3 cheese) to the pot right before I serve it. This doesn’t do much to the color/style of the soup, so don’t despair if you’re not into red sauce. I just find the unique combo of Italian spices in red sauce really works with the veggies and ultimately gives the soup this “mm, and what is that delicious thing I can’t put my finger on?” quality.

This recipe will yield about 10 medium bowls of soup, and the ingredients cost about $12 (I get the organic stuff). You’ll have leftovers of most of the produce. If you want to stretch the meals so you don’t need seconds, serve it over a hunk of rice. The finished product does well with some added spice, so add chile powder, pimenton (spicy paprika) or Sriracha. 

Remember how I told you I'm terrible with pictures? See below for an example of both that and the finished product.