Saturday, October 29, 2005

Raisinhater Favorites

I love fall. I love the changey leaves, the crisp air, having an excuse (“football”) to spend all of Sunday laying on the couch, and the return of cozy foods like risotto. And I love the pumpkins! Pumpkin pie, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin bread – all delicious and festive. I’m not a fan of everything pumpkin though. I’ll pick normal over pumpkin risotto any day, and I don’t enjoy pumpkin’s evil cousin, squash, which is just baby food for adults.

Normally I use this method to augment my pumpkin consumption…

But I'm trying to branch out a bit so last night I tried to make a batch of pumpkin muffins. Unfortunately, when I got home from the store with my spooky little Halloween theme muffin papers, I couldn’t find my muffin tin, only my mini muffin tins. I know I had a regular size muffin tin because I went through a phase in law school where I made myself healthy bran muffins for breakfast (in attempt to avoid the biscuit drive through). They were big size. So where was the tin? My kitchen really isn’t that big, so after I looked in my two cabinets and in the oven, I gave up and decided on one pumpkin cake and 12 mini pumpkin muffins.

I based my recipe on my favorite banana bread recipe, leaving out the nuts and substituting pumpkin for banana. Really, it is not so much banana bread as it is chocolate chip banana cake, but calling it “bread” certainly makes it sound a bit more healthy. I used this pumpkin stuff.

Do not taste the pumpkin stuff. It may look like a pumpkin pie but it is NOT, it tastes mealy and bad and not pie like. It will make you unhappy. I added the baking soda to the butter first, before the sugar, because I am an idiot, and I used mini chips – perhaps a cup, perhaps a little more.

When I got everything all mixed up it was way, well, stiffer than the banana bread. It was definitely VERY different. I didn’t really know what to do about that, adding another egg sounded like it would make the whole thing gloppy, sort of heavy and wet rather than heavy and dry, so I just smeared it into the pan and the muffin cups and threw it in the oven.

Do you know how hard it is to butter and flour mini muffin cups?

I baked the muffins for 25 minutes and the cake for 50 minutes.

They taste pretty good (if you like mini chocolate chips) but they really aren’t noticeably pumpkinny. Not really like pumpkin pie in cake form, which is what I was going for. My rating: C minus. I’m definitely going to have to give it another try.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Cloud of Paaah?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Two Mistake Chicken

The other night I made spicy chicken milanesas. J is from Argentina, where milanesa, primarily beef or veal, is extremely popular. Milanesa is thin, flat meat breaded and fried, sometimes with a sauce. Because of diet, finance, and what I found lurking around the fridge, we used chicken. And to make it even a little less authentic, instead of a flour/egg treatment before the breading, I marinated it in buttermilk and Sriracha (see yesterday’s entry!). And I served it with hot sauce!! Sort of a American South meets South America combo.

But I made two big mistakes that I would like to share with the world at large here on the internets.

1.) I did not pound. All recipes say to pound. Buuuut, last time I made this I had some pretty thin cutlets and was yapping on the phone and drinking wine and I completely forgot the pounding step, to no visible detriment. This time, the omission was deliberate. I had chicken breasts and I was feeling lazy, so I just sort of cut them up into strips, without the salmonella spraying pounding step that requires more counter space than I have. (You wonder why my kitchen photos all look the same? Because you’re seeing my entire kitchen.)

2.) Big bread crumbs. I used Whole Foods panko style. They were big and clumpy and fell off. They augmented the problem of non-pounding by cooking before the inside was anywhere near done. This negated the salmonella avoidance achieved by not pounding.

Nevertheless, it was not a total disaster, and we certainly didn't starve.

And a closeup...

The recipe is quite simple - trim, halve and POUND your chicken breasts. Put then in a nice buttermilk bath with a few tablespoons of hot sauce and some black pepper for at least 1/2 hour. Remove from bath, let excess drip off, coat in seasoned (non-panko) breadcrumbs. Put a few tablespoons of oil in a big frying pan on medium high (hot but not smoky) and cook the chicken for a few minutes on each side, untill it is cooked through. I always have to slice into one to check. Serve with hot sauce on the side.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Raisinhater Favorites – A Very Special Sauce

As a result of Saturday’s excesses, as well as spending 8 hours outdoors in the cold cold rain, I’ve developed a nasty cold. Please forgive any resulting incoherence or typos. I was away on Saturday (see aforementioned excess and cold rain), so today I’m going to share another of my favorite foods. I’ve mentioned it a few times already, but it certainly bears mentioning again.


I first discovered this hot sauce in Richmond, Virginia, of all places. Richmond isn't generally known as a culinary destination, but its the home of one of my favorite little restaurants, Millie’s Diner.

Although Millie’s is housed in an old diner and bills itself as such, the food is innovative, modern and precise, and it was one of the only places in Richmond that concentrated on fresh seasonal foods. But it is without pretense; the atmosphere is casual and the lines stretched way out the door. To give New Yorkers a basis of comparison – it is very similar to Prune.

Millie’s brunch is legendary in Richmond. When I lived there, my friends and I would wake up early to get there before the “churchies” got out of services and the line got too long. (As I mentioned before, I worship at the temple of food.)

The first time I had Sriracha was on the Devil’s Mess, a house breakfast specialty of sausage, eggs, cheese and other breakfast deliciousness, along with Millie’s absolutely fantastic home fries. The home fries were more like roasted red potatoes coated in garlic and spicy stuff, and were always served on a plate with red dots or squiggles around the exterior. Although they were too spicy for many brunchers, those red dots and squiggles drew me back every Sunday. I watched the chefs (working in an open two man space the size of a NY closet right by the front door) and I saw the bottle with the green lid. It never appeared on the table and I thought it was a secret ingredient at Millie’s. It wasn’t until I moved to NY that I saw it in other restaurants and, finally, to my overwhelming delight, in a Chinatown grocery. I bought three bottles.

Cooking With Sriracha

First, it is an excellent marinade. Spicy fried chicken cutlets thrive in a marinade of buttermilk and Sriracha. See...

Second, and more importantly, it makes all condiments better. Many times I have spiced up my salsa with a squirt of sriracha, or added a bit to ketchup for a little extra flavor. But it truly shines when combined with mayonnaise. J loves this so much he tried to convince me to bottle it and sell it. Just mix Sriracha with Hellman’s mayo (light mayo is ok, I guess, but do not use cheap mayo, nasty miracle whip, or any other substitute). I guess about a 5:1 or 4:1 ratio of mayo to Sriracha. Here it is before mixing (so you can get a sense of amounts)…

And after…

I use it on tater tots, French fries, and all other potato products. For Mexican food, you can substitute sour cream for the mayo. And I was delighted to see the ever-foxy Tyler Florence use Sriracha mayonnaise on last night’s episode of food 911.

Go to your local Asian market and stock up. If you live in an area where Sriracha is unavailable, the lovely folks at Huy Fong Foods will happily ship it to you.

Friday, October 21, 2005

I Love the Deli

Lemon Lady

Princess Tomato Head

And cool Mr. Cucumber

were all sitting on the deli counter today, handmade by my favorite sandwichmaker. I don't think anyone else noticed them, but I could tell by the extra salsa on my wrap that he appreciated my awe of his fruit/veggie sculpting skills.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Thanks Marco!

A little confession about my cooking habits. Here in the Raisinhater household (members: 2) we have only one cook. J, the other member of the household, is utterly useless in the kitchen. It was only 6 months ago that I taught him to heat up his own Hot Pockets in the microwave (remove wrap, put Hot Pocket in crisping sleeve, put Hot Pocket on plate, put in microwave, shut door, press “2,” remove after beep, remove crisping sleeve, eat).

So I’m pretty much on my own. Right now I’m mostly focusing on J’s culinary appreciation skills. When we first started dating, he would eat a bagel or a slice of pizza from the same deli every night for dinner. I think we’ve come a long way since that time. He was the one that noticed the mysterious “healthy” taste to the sausages (cooked in olive oil), he suggested the creamy sauce for the chicken pitas (tahini). He is improving. Nevertheless, I have resigned myself to the fact that he’s never going to be able to cook much more than a grilled cheese, and that would pretty much be the culmination of my ten year culinary education plan. So I did what any sane person would do in my circumstances. I invented an imaginary friend/sous chef.

Marco is not only handsome and swarthy, he is extremely handy with the Wusthof. He loves chopping, slicing, dicing, mincing, hand-tearing individual basil leaves, washing and trimming cilantro, and generally sous-cheffing around the kitchen (shirtless). The thing Marco loves most is prepping veggies and putting minced garlic and premeasured herbs in teeny tiny little containers. Like on a cooking show. Like this…

Marco toils as I sip wine in the living room. When I swoop into the kitchen I do not have to trifle with the humdrum tasks of measuring or chopping; I can just toss ingredients around with an emphatic flourish. It was with his invaluable assistance that I was able to prepare Tofu with Green Beans and Coconut Sauce, based on this recipe.

Have your assistant prepare the following ingredients:

1/2 (14- to 16-oz) package firm tofu (sliced as shown below)
3 T soy sauce
1 T rice wine vineager
2 T vegetable oil
1 T finely chopped garlic
1- ½ tsp. finely chopped peeled fresh ginger (it’s a pain to chop, so I just grate it instead)
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1/2 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch-long pieces
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips (2 inches long)
1 teaspoon salt
½ can low-fat unsweetened coconut milk (I froze the rest)
½ T fresh lime juice
1 tsp. honey
green curry sauce (optional)
Rice or Rice Noodles (cook this while you're making tofu)

Halve tofu lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices and pat dry. Marinate tofu in mixture of 2 T soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and ¼ tsp of red pepper flakes for 1/2 hour. It helps to use a big flat bowl, but I didn't have one.

Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking, then add tofu in 1 layer and cook, turning over once, until tofu is browned, about 6 minutes total. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a large plate, reserving oil in skillet. Tofu should look like this...

Add garlic, ginger, and 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes to skillet and sauté, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add beans, bell pepper, and salt and sauté, stirring, 1 minute.

Stir in coconut milk and remaining tablespoon soy sauce and bring to a boil, then boil, uncovered, until beans are tender, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove and set aside vegetables.

Add a little bit of green curry paste (optional) and simmer sauce until thickened slightly and reduced (a few minutes). Stir in lime juice and taste sauce. At this point I thought the sauce REALLY needed a little sweetness, so I added honey and a little more soy sauce too. It made a huge difference.

Note: the recipe very explicitly stated that you should not use low-fat coconut milk. All I had was low-fat, I used it, and it was delicious.

Note 2: mine was spicy!!! Leave out some spicy stuff if you don't want yours so spicy.

Put the tofu and veggies over rice noodles (or rice) and pour the sauce on top. See...

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Uh, After the Diet?

So the diet went very well for exactly 1.5 days, and then I was lured to the dark side by nothing other than free Aui Zhou Spicy Chicken. I do not have the kind of inner strength needed to resist that!

And now I learn that the Shake Shack is serving breakfast?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Before the Diet

Curses, the Raisinhater diet started today, and all was sadness and misery in the household. But I think it will be easier to run 26.2 miles without those 2.5 extra pounds I am carrying on the midsection. Its actually a lot – imagine running a marathon carrying a hardcover book duct taped to your stomach. Ugh.

But not today! Today, instead of starting the week by whining about my calorie deficient lunch, I’m going to show you what J and I ate before our run. (HA! You thought we ran 18 miles fueled only by Shackburgers and cheese fries??)

The night before a long run, it is essential for me to scarf down as many carbohydrates as possible. I am the anti-Atkins. Most people suggest eating something bland so you don’t anger the stomach, but the thought of a plain bagel or spaghetti with bleh sauce is just too sad for me to bear, especially when I’m spending the entire weekend avoiding all non-food vice just so I can torture myself for well over 3 hours on Sunday morning. For me, a little spice, and a little cheese, is essential.

I'm normally not a fan of baked pasta, but this was quite tasty. The pasta wasn't really baked so much as broiled to melt the cheese on top. I based it on this recipe, here’s my version. Please note that amounts were dictated by two factors 1.) the size of my pyrex dish (see photo) and 2.) the fact that I was trying to make three servings (I miscalculated, the recipe using my amounts actually made at least four servings, but the leftovers are pretty tasty).

¾ lb of penne (I don’t like rigatoni)
¾ batch of Dad’s Marinara Sauce (you could use jar sauce to save time, but next time, make a double batch of marinara and freeze half)
¾ of medium size ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced (see photo for amounts & sizes)
½ lb of hot sausage (casings removed)
¼ cup (at least, I’m sure I used more) Parmesan cheese

Boil pasta water and cook pasta. While pasta is cooking, break sausage into bits and cook completely. I cooked on medium high because I wanted to brown the sausage a bit. Drain the pasta and add your sauce and the cooked sausage.

Stir well and dump into a big flat baking dish. The original recipe called for many little dishes, but that sounded like a monstrous pain in the ass so I used one big dish. Cover with mozzarella.

Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and put under broiler until cheese is brown and bubbly. Note that if you have one of those underneath broilers, like I do, you must lay on the kitchen floor so that you can keep a close eye on the cheese. Take it out too early and you will have sad, cold, un-melty cheese. Too late and you’ll have a kitchen fire. Remove when it looks brown and delicious.

Serve as soon as possible, with extra parmesan on the side.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Raisinhaters On The Run

J and I finally did an 18 mile run on Sunday morning. The entire weekend was spent either eating in preparation for the run or eating to recover (and replenish our precious carbohydrate stores). The 18 mile run was pretty dreadful, actually, and I think my right leg almost fell off.

I attribute the fact that we finished at all to our pre-race preparation. For lunch the day before we braved the hour long line at Shake Shack!

We enjoyed cheese fries

and burgers, of course. (In the interest of full disclosure, I must mention that we ordered and consumed more than one Shackburger burger apiece. Running 18 miles requires a lot of energy.)

These burgers are blessed with a special sauce, described by the cashier as ketchup, mayonnaise, and chipotle. The bun is squished and not so special looking at all, but is blissfully unobtrusive and not overbready. I found it quite pleasing that the bun top and bottom remained joined on one edge in a clamshell fashion. This design helped maintain structural integrity while catching any special sauce that would otherwise have dripped away. The balance between burger, bun, cheese, lettuce, tomato and special sauce was perfect.

When I first tried the Shackburger a few weeks ago, I thought I had found burger nirvana. And yesterday’s burgerfest was satisfying and scrumptious. Nevertheless, the POP Burger has a certain grilly flavor that the Shackburger lacks, and seems a bit saucier than the Shackburger. Both of these factors help it nose out ahead of the Shackburger, at least based on my limited research thusfar. Obviously continued testing is warranted.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Raisinhater's Favorite Sausage

Today is Saturday, so I get to share one of my favorite foods.

But first, Ancient Noodles!

The food of the day is Hans’ All Natural Jalapeno & Cheddar Cheese Smoked Pork Sausage.

These are available at Whole Foods, if you are lucky. I can not find them anywhere else, and was not able to order them on the internet. But not in Chelsea. If you are looking for them please don’t bother going to the Whole Foods in Chelsea because they’re just not there, nope, no siree. None there for you.

I’m not sure how I first discovered these tasty treats; I suspect I stumbled across them when I was buying some boring healthy chicken sausage in Whole Foods. As with most of my favorite items, I was instantly hooked. J and I blithely enjoyed the sausages for a year or so, and one week we noticed that they were on sale. We stocked up zealously.

The next week they were gone.

I assumed that other sausage lovers had simply stocked up as well, creating a temporary shortage, but upon further investigation (and some tearful interrogation of the guy behind the meat counter) we learned that Hans’ was no longer supplying these sausages to Whole Foods, and there was no telling how long the drought would last! Repeated requests did nothing to provoke Whole Foods to restock. Beseeching emails to Hans’ were not fruitful. Dire measures were necessary.

I called Mom Raisinhater in a panic and urged her to run, not walk, to her local Whole Foods and stock up immediately on any sausages she could find. Ten packs later, she slunk out of the store.

Our needs were temporarily filled, but what about a long range plan?? On Mom Raisinhater’s next trip to Whole Foods she called me from the sausage section cheerfully, “they’re on sale!” I explained that this was not simply a happy sausage windfall but a harbinger of doom, the first horseperson of the sausage apocalypse. She bought them all (only 12 more packs!) and froze them. They subsequently disappeared from her store.

We worried, we fretted, I went to every Whole Foods in the city. Nothing. All summer we rationed our sausage intake to preserve our dwindling supply. We couldn't keep it up much longer, a cold, sausageless winter was coming.

Fortunately, this tragic tale has a happy ending. This September, our local Whole Foods (but not the one in Chelsea, noo, they still don’t have any and don’t go buy them up) began stocking the sausages again. At first, I bought the entire stock. Over the past month, I have become quite complacent, buying only 3 packs at a time. Writing this has made me realize the risk I’m taking, and tomorrow I will likely head over and buy up the whole stock, especially because we have a little extra room in the freezer.

Here is my suggested method of preparation. Put a little butter and a little olive oil in a pan on medium. (Note that J disagrees, he thinks the olive oil adds a suspicious “healthy” taste and should be eliminated, but it does cut down on the smoke.)

When melted/hot, add the sausages. Turn them often so that all sides are browned. Don't try to grill them; they need to cook in butter to get the crispy brown exterior. And they'll give your apartment a delicious sausagey smell for the rest of the day.

Serve them with tater tots and salad.

Yep, tater tots. Even if you remember them as a creepy and soggy high school side dish, give them another try. The Whole Foods 365 brand is the best, but Ore Ida will do just fine in a pinch. Overcook them till they're very crispy. They are a perfect companion to these spicy cheesy sausages.


Friday, October 14, 2005

Beans All Over The Floor

Uh oh. The beans, they have been spilled. R. Raisinhater, my eldest younger brother, was formerly the only person in my family (and really, almost the only person on earth) that knew that I was writing about my hatred of raisins and other such food topics here on the internets.

But last night there was drinking. Not by me, nooohooo, I was safe and sound at home making tasty dinner of linguini with marinara. The drinking was done by R. Raisinhater and my youngest brother, C. Raisinhater, and there was talking, much talking, and revealing of the blog!

And when R. Raisinhater alerted me to this news, I had thoughts of stopping, and of deleting, and of hiding under things, because I am shy that way. But R. Raisinhater has declared my website to be a "Foodicious Monumentary." And even though he was snoot deep in the wassail bowl when he made this statement, it still sounds like a good thing, a culturally significant thing, and a thing worth continuing to pursue even though the cat, she is out of the bag.

So, HI!, Mom Raisinhater, Dad Raisinhater, P. Raisinhater, C. Raisinhater, and all other ginormous Raisinhater extended family members who will now be stopping by for a little read. HI!, numerous aunts who will talk bad about me when I leave the room. HI!, nice people at my mom's office (please stop making her work so hard).

Whew, I am sure glad I didn't write all those mean things about you here on the formerly anonymous internet.

And so then, if there are going to be all these family members and whatnot stopping by all the time, I think it behooves me to post a bit more frequently. Accordingly, I am placing my Fresh Direct order this afternoon to facilitate additional and more risky food experimentation. And tomorrow, and each Saturday thereafter until I am sick of it, I shall write about one of my extra special favorite food things.


Monday, October 10, 2005

POP Burger!

Damn those mini burgers are so so good! What was I thinking? Why hadn’t I partaken in the past? I know exactly what I was thinking – that this little burger joint / lounge and bar was established for the purpose of providing late night sustenance to star-seeking B&T masses in the Meatpacking District (I'm from NJ, so I can say B&T all I want). Restaurants catering to a highly inebriated clientele are not known for their focus on quality - I assumed the burgers would be standard diner type fare, dry and uninspiring. I WAS SO WRONG.

My dining companion and I arrived around 2pm, starving after a morning of athletics and errand running, and soaked by the rain. We would have eaten cardboard with ketchup. I ordered something called “pop burger (2)” and my companion ordered a fried shrimp sandwich (he is surprisingly adventurous that way), with fries to share and a strawberry shake. My companion asked if his sandwich could be made spicy and they cheerfully agreed. Nevertheless, we were dubious. There was quite a bit of chaos in the kitchen and hungry tourists crowding the counter snapping photos of each other (photos - who could be so tacky?). But out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw one of the cooks shaking up a red bottle with a telltale green cap. Could it be?

I had no time to wonder, our food arrived....

First of all, you don’t get one burger, you get two mini burgers. They come in a box and when you open the lid they look like parts of the human anatomy!

Beware - if you are eating with someone else, especially if that someone else ordered something other than a burger, the presence of two miniburgers will too hard for that someone else to resist and he or she will INSIST that you "share," and by "share" I mean give them a mini POP burger NOW! I graciously gave J. one of my miniburgers, he removed the knife from my throat, and we began to eat.

The burgers had cute little slices of plum tomato, delicately chiffonaded lettuce, melted cheese, and some kind of special sauce that looked intriguing and, could it be, In-n-Out like? The glossy bunlets were toasted and light, not too bready for the tiny burgers. It was clear that these burgers were assembled with love and care.

I took a bite and was astounded – my babyburger was incredible! So much taste in such a little package. The meat was fresh and had a grilly flavor, it was juicy, the sauce was tangy and indeed reminiscent of my beloved In-n-Out. They were gone all too soon and I cursed J for ordering a stupid shrimp sandwich instead of MORE! MINIBURGERS! But alas…

The shrimp sandwich proved to be an excellent surprise because my eyes had not deceived me, the red and green bottle waving around the kitchen was indeed my beloved Sriracha, the best hot sauce in the world, and it liberally coated the bun of our shared shrimp sandwich. Even without the Sriracha it would have been good – the shrimp was sliced to lay flat(ish), was freshly fried, and again, the other elements of the sandwich were in good balance. But the burgers are better, cuter, and worth the excursion to the Meatpacking District.

Friday, October 07, 2005

MeBeth Eats Tofu

I made a delicious stir fry last night and I think it was actually quite healthy, and may have even been vegan. As usual, this is based on an epicurious recipe. During the week I tend to stick to my standby favorite dinners, many of which are adapted from Gourmet or Bon Appetit and published on epicurious. On the weekends I’ll experiment with my own recipes or try more adventurous ideas. But these weeknight recipes can really be quite tasty, and so I love to pass them on.


For the marinade
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon oriental sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper (or a little more, if you are me)

The rest of the stuff
half of one 12-ounce package extra-firm tofu, patted dry and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon cornstarch
4 ounces mushrooms in ½” slices
4 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed (or substitute asparagus, snow peas, whatever)
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
3 green onions, sliced on diagonal
Olive oil
Brown rice – enough for 2 large servings.

Mix the marinade and add the cubed tofu – put in the fridge for at least ½ hour. It will look like this.

Start cooking brown rice. When you have about 10 - 15 minutes left on the rice, start your stir fry. Remove the tofu from the marinade and reserve the marinade in a bowl. Add the water and cornstarch to marinade and let sit. Cook the tofu in olive oil in a nonstick pan over medium high heat – I like my tofu well done so I cook for at least 5-7 minutes, until it gets brown and crispy looking on the outside. Remove tofu from the pan. Add mushrooms to the pan and sauté till soft (usually at least 3 minutes), add snap peas (or whatever vegetable) and green onions, sauté till snap peas turn bright green and onions soften, add garlic & ginger, stir often, till it starts to stick to the veggies (1 min or less). Return tofu to pan and add marinade, boil down till the sauce is thick and sticky (not very long at all). Remove from heat and serve over rice. It will look like this…

The original recipe calls for ½ as much sauce, less cooking time on the tofu, the addition of salt and pepper, the use of shitake mushrooms rather than whatever mushroom is on sale at the market, less green onion and garlic, etc. As you can tell, I like to add a little spice with the extra pepper, garlic, green onions, etc. If you wanted to tone this recipe down, you could omit or decrease the amounts of these ingredients. Although it is great with snow peas and snap peas, my favorite was asparagus. I think broccoli would also be a perfectly fine substitute. You could probably use pretty much any vegetable you found lurking around in the fridge. I think this recipe is vegan other than the honey, but I’m not sure.

My recommendation – great for using up veggies and having a healthy and quick meal!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Chili and Football

On Sunday I hosted a little Raisinhater partial-family gathering. In attendance were J and my brothers R and P Raisinhater. We also had B Almost-Raisinhater, a family friend and a fan of frequent channel changing. R, P, and B A-R came over around 4 for an afternoon of football and snacks. I had elaborate plans for a multi-appetizer menu, but I was so exhausted from the morning’s training run (15 miles!) that I commenced Stella based carbohydrate replenishment immediately upon their arrival.

Once strengthened, P and I ventured out for provisions. I scaled back the list so the modified menu included Ruffles and onion dip, chili and biscuits. My mother makes a fabulous dip of caramelized onions; it is sweet and salty and sharp and creamy all at the same time. Because I could hardly move my limbs, I made Lipton “Recipe Secrets” Onion Dip instead. (What is the secret – the sour cream into which you mix the packet of dip mix?). It was fantastic in its own special way, and was enhanced by the Ruffly chips. Here is R Raisinhater about to enjoy a generous scoop of dip.

The rest of the menu, chili and biscuits, was designed for group enjoyment, easy cooking, low cost, and football friendliness. I certainly did not make the biscuits from scratch – not for this occasion. Not that the group isn’t worthy, but I am a picky biscuit eater and I didn’t have the time, the energy, or the skillz, to do things right. Furthermore, I had these fabulous biscuits sitting in my freezer just waiting for a day like this one. So all I really made was the chili, and I think it was quite good! I based it on,
but I made a number of modifications. Here is what I did…

2 large yellow onions
2 cloves garlic
2lbs ground chuck
1lb spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
1 ¼ cups beef broth
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 14 oz. can peeled tomatos
1 T tomato paste
3 T cider vinegar
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon crumbled dried orégano
1 tablespoon dried hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 green pepper
1 can kidney beans

I chopped two fairly large onions, threw them in the big nonstick pot with about 3T olive oil, and added two minced cloves of garlic. I cooked over med-low until the onion was translucent, turned up the heat to medium, and added the ground chuck and the sausage. I cooked, stirring frequently, until the meat was no longer pink. (Next time, I would put the sausage in first and let it cook for a minute or two before adding the beef, just so the beef doesn’t overcook). Once the pink was gone, I added the beef broth, tomato sauce, peeled tomatos, tomato paste, and vinegar and returned to a boil. I added the spice mixture. I turned it down to a simmer cooked for an hour to 70 minutes. I added the chopped pepper and the beans and simmered for 15 more minutes. Initially I thought that in the future I would cook it even longer, as it was a bit saucy, but the leftovers were quite thick so maybe not. Here is a photo of it bubbling away...

Things I would change – I would add 1 cup of beef broth, rather than 1 ¼ cups. I would use diced tomatoes rather than whole peeled, as I ended up having to pull them all out and chop them up anyway, I would add a bit more tomato paste. I would add a bit of anchovy paste. (I wanted to on the first go round, but got scared. Why? I do not know. Next time I’m going to do it.) I would perhaps do 1.5 lbs each of sausage and beef, though those amounts are harder to buy. I would even consider doing 2lbs sausage and 1lb beef, very exciting! The green pepper initially seemed superfluous but was actually quite good. We left out the carrots because the Raisinhaters don’t like cooked carrots unless Mom Raisinhater makes them. We disregarded any suggestions to add sweet things to the chili, such as brown sugar, honey, cinnamon, etc. Not that those things are bad, but it just wasn’t that kind of chili. In my opinion, that sort of behavior is only appropriate with the shredded meat type of chili.

I served the chili with biscuits on the side and cheddar cheese sprinkled on top. Additionally, we crunched up fritos and added them right in – absolutely delicious. There was sour cream on the side for those who wanted it (like me).

The chili was excellent leftover. I wish I’d made twice as much.

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Grip of Addiction

What did I eat this weekend...

Yes, more Aui Zhou spicy chicken. I cannot control myself.

I also learned that I need to improve my public photoblogging skills. On Friday I snuck out of work at noon and headed to Pearl Oyster Bar, where I sat at the bar and enjoyed the best fried oyster sandwich ever along with a delightful Sierra Nevada draft. And I was too shy to capture it on film. I am convinced that this was a deliberate plan, hatched by stomach in cahoots with my subconscious brain, to force me to return to this venue and eat this sandwich again. Mostly when I think of this sandwich, my head swells with violin music and my heart feels a little melty, like I caught the eye of the sandwich across a dark smoky bar, as we sipped our martinis.

I recall only flashes, scenes of our lunch together. I remember pickles in the tartar sauce, like the little cornichons served at the old Deux Gamins. The top split hot dog bun was painted with butter and just a little toasted. The oysters, all 47 of them, were piled in a mound of fried perfection and the bartender seemed amazed that I finished every single morsel of food on that plate (except the lemon rind, perhaps?). That is not enough information for you, I know. You read and you do not understand the perfection that is the Pearl Oyster Roll. What do you want? What? You want me to go back tomorrow? For lunch? With my camera? Instead of working at the office?

You are right - it is the only way for me to overcome my fears. I understand that it must be done, as a learning experience. Very well then.