Friday, March 30, 2007

Spring has sprung!

*Disclaimer: This blog is about gardening, but I do almost none of this gardening myself (no patience), but I'm blessed to have family who enjoys it...I get to walk out and reap the bounty like I'm in a grocery store!

Spring is the best time of year for veggies...well, right now I say that, but I'll say it again at the turn of every season. Everything is so green, the weather has been near-perfect, and we have a whole new selection of produce to choose from! I'm lucky enough to live where I can have a garden to "shop" in...check out these pics! This is a large pot of cilantro just getting ready to be used...we go through this stuff like crazy: burritos, anything on the grill, salads, pesto. Davis Farmer's Market tip: the Afghan/Italian food booth has awesome cilantro pesto if you aren't into making it yourself.

The garlic is taking it's time, and because I'm impatient I just chop up the tops or dig up some green garlic to add to whatever I'm making. This works well for soups/stews, stirfrys, you can sub it for pretty much anything you would normally use fresh garlic in. We're also sprouting our first round of corn for summer, strawberries are almost red, pea tendrils are everywhere, and it seems like we might have tomatoes and lettuce till the end of time! They're not ready yet, of course, but all that summer stuff has to start sometime.

I love walking through Farmer's Market and seeing all the spring standards: asparagus, strawberries, morels, green garlic, leafy greens, baby carrots....I'm so overwhelmed sometimes that the only thing I can do is make the oh-so-cliché "pasta primavera" (which means 'spring', so it's ok)...I end up with so many bright, delicious veggies in the pan that I don't have room in my tummy for the pasta! I also love spring vegetables because they don't need much in the way of prep: you can walk out into the garden and dust off whatever you want on your jeans and take a bite!

I was really bummed after the bad freeze a couple months ago because we lost all our oranges and meyer lemons, but fortunately the trees survived. Obviously that cold snap had a negative effect on citrus, avocados and strawberries, among other produce....this lower market quantity has led to higher prices for what's left, but it doesn't seem as bad as I thought it would be. The good news is we're getting into warmer weather and a HUGE selection of head is spinning from the culinary possibilities! I love going out to eat and seeing what other people come up with. It's amazing that new and original dishes are always being created...that's the nature of Spring!

Oh, and I've included a picture of my buddy Mr. Lizard...or maybe it's one of the other 3,000 lizards who live out here. They like to rustle around under the last of the dried leaves and scare the kitty, whose name is Monster....go figure. -K

Monday, March 26, 2007

Steak Frites!

We all know that the French make the best food. Some people may think that they like Italian food or Mexican food, these cuisines are great as well, but I guarantee that the French can cook any country’s cuisine better than the chefs of that particular country. I was inspired to make Steak Frites tonight. This is one of my favorite meals because I get to eat steak and French fries, while not feeling like white trash for eating French fries for dinner because they are frites, not fries. See? I’m not going to talk about my steak too much, there isn’t much to it considering I don’t like it cooked very much. I prefer ribeyes, while Kristen prefers the New York steak. When it isn’t barbequing weather, I fry it in olive oil until I feel that it is just approaching microbiological safety. This is very French as well, since a rare steak in France is room temperature and purple 2mm below the surface. I only require that it be hot enough to properly melt all of that wonderful marbled fat.
The fries are a little more labor intensive. I like them thin to maximize the caramelized crispness that I aim to achieve. I cut the taters to approximately 1cm squared crossectional area and soak them in ice water for 30 minutes to remove extraneous starch (Is there such a thing in potatoes? Curious… makes a better fry anyhow). Then I blanch them in Peanut oil at 270 degrees for about 8 minutes until they start to get translucent. Remove the blanched fries and allow them to cool before frying at 375 degrees for a few minutes until they are crisp and browned. The first step actually cooks the fries while the second step caramelizes the outside and delivers the crispness that French potatoes deserve. My deep fryer conked out a while ago so tonight I thought I would just use a pot of oil on the stove. This experience served to remind me why I bought a deep fryer in the first place…..I enjoy having eyebrows. If I had some marshmallows then I would be blogging about roasting them over the bonfire in my kitchen. I wish I could have snapped a picture of the inferno in my kitchen, but I was too busy packing up my valuables. Anyway, this method results in a perfectly cooked French fry with a delightful crispness. If you like the Flaccid “Freedom Fries” commonly found in Dumbf@$kistan then just plop some chopped taters in hot Pennzoil.
If I have a high quality steak I don’t like much on it other than salt, pepper and maybe a little Worcestershire (I like pure Worcestershire directly in my mouth as well, and am looking for some Worcestershire based drinks if anyone knows of any) (come to think of it, I think I will learn how to make my own Worcestershire and blog about it. I’ll make it all fancy with white anchovies and then wrap it in a brown bag like a 40 of Old English). However, tonight I prepared my steak with some blue cheese butter, or maybe I should say beurre de fromage bleu. This is easy to make and great because it adds some nice flavor, but it doesn’t mask the flavor of the steak. Just mix unsalted butter, blue cheese, shallots, garlic, flat leaf parsley, salt and pepper. You all know what you like so I am not going to give any specific amounts. If you really like blue cheese, then you will probably want to add a lot of it, etc.
Et Voila! Half of your plate is covered with steak and the other with two kinds of fries. The top layer is nice and crisp while the bottom layer is soaked in steak juices. Fry flaccidity is acceptable only if it is due to absorption of steak juices. I would pair French fries with a nice Rhone wine, while Freedom Fries are best paired with a 60oz Mountain Dew or Bud Light purchased at a NASCAR event. Considering the political climate these days, I think I’ll be paying homage to French cuisine for a while. Don’t get me wrong, I love America, I just want all our troops to be able to enjoy French food like Kristen and I do. I’m signing off before I get too fired up about politics.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Fox and Goose (part 1)

I went to the Fox and Goose earlier this week for lunch with friends and was disappointed...I have actually never eaten there before, and I'm not a raging fan of English food, but we arrived with open minds. We ordered off the "British Specialties" section of the lunch menu, thinking we would get an accurate slice of British cuisine and the best the restaurant has to offer. It's possible we did, and if that's the case I still don't like English food.

The items we ordered sounded interesting on the menu: Vegetarian Pasty (like a pot pie in the shape of a calzone, pictured above) with welsh rarebit sauce, Welsh Rarebit: an english muffin smothered in welsh rarebit cheesy beer sauce, and Fish and chips: pretty self-explanatory. I thought the welsh rarebit sauce was a cheesy, greasy, pungent goo rather than a sauce, but smear cheese on anything and it can't be that bad. The vegetarian pasty was plain: just chopped veggies cooked with some herbs, rolled up in pie dough and baked...nothing to call home about. It was also rather dry.

I couldn't believe the appearance of the Welsh Rarebit, but I've never seen it anywhere before, so maybe that's what it's supposed to look like: literally an english muffin on a plate with that cheese sauce drowning it, garnished with red onions and sliced olives. I have to say my friend really enjoyed it, though...she liked the pungent quality of the sauce, a self-proclaimed "stinky cheese lover". Don't get me wrong, I love me some stinky cheese, but I found that sauce....well, see the description above.

On a positive note the Fish and chips was incredible! The batter was perfectly crispy and freshly fried, and I think I would have eaten a paper napkin if it was fried in that batter! The tartar sauce didn't blow me away, but the dish was great none the less.

I owe Fox and Goose another try, and I've heard many people rave about their breakfast and beer selection....that's two more trips if I don't want beer with pancakes. Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3, and I'm definitely bringing Brooks with me to check out the beer selection.

Fox and Goose Pub
corner of 10th and R st in downtown sac

*On a blog note, I am working on my technique when it comes to lighting and focusing with the pics...bear with me:-)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Clean-out-the-fridge Cobb Salad

One of the best ways to clean out a veggie drawer or fridge is to make Cobb salad, as long as your produce is still in good shape, of course. On Friday I used almost every scrap of vegetable I could find left in the fridge, and the salad turned out pretty good! Slightly blog-worthy, only because Cobb salad is so picture-perfect with its neat rows of whatever you want to put on it. I should mention here that the plate the salad is on is one I think is very ugly, but almost unbreakable, which is a priority with a toddler in the house.

On to the ingredients:
Romaine and iceburg lettuce, red onion, english cucumber, roma tomatoes (yes, I know they're not in season), hard-boiled eggs, smoked gouda and honey ham (yes, the kind at the deli counter), and the all-important avocado. Remember, I used what I had...I know Cobb salad should have blue cheese and bacon, and I should probably keep those ingredients in my kitchen in case of emergency, but I don't. I made a quick vinaigrette with shallots, garlic, dijon, red wine vinegar, olive oil and s&p, which I tossed the lettuces in before plating the salads. I also drizzled more vinaigrette on top of all the good stuff. When I have red onion on a salad, the only way I can enjoy it if it's super-thin, or else it seems to overpower other flavors. I love english cukes because you can eat the peel and seeds without gagging, plus when the peel is left on cucumbers I'm able to more easily identify my food, and it looks more like how nature made it. Now about those out-of-season tomatoes: I know, I know, spare me the lecture....there are two things I prefer to have tomatoes on, even when they're out of season: sandwiches and salads. It's just a vice of mine, I always have to have the tomatoes. I got pretty lucky this time, at least they weren't white in the middle and crunchy.
I worked in restaurants for a few years, and one of the standards that stuck with me was the perfect hard-boiled egg. I can't stand to see a blueish-green ring around an overcooked yolk. I brought water to a boil, put a few large eggs (straight outta the fridge) in for 15 minutes, then pulled them out into an icebath. To make peeling easier I cracked the shells in a few places as I put them in the icebath...I think this allows water to go between the membrane and the meat, which would allow for easier separation. It definitely makes a difference.
I also had honey ham to use up, a good sub for bacon on salad, so I sliced it into ribbons. It worked well as a salty, smoky element, which was repeated by the smoked gouda. The avocados have been sitting in my fruit bowl all week waiting to ripen...they've been on super-sale lately and I couldn't pass them up, even when they were hard as a rock! They were perfectly ripe by friday, and as you can see in the pic there's not much more beautiful than a perfect avocado. That's my trusty 10" Wustof, Bob, in the background. I also have a perfect saucing spoon named Phil, but that's a story for another day, and I'm getting off track. I ran outside and grabbed some chives and flatleaf parsley to chop and garnish the salad, but I don't think they really added much. I think it would have been better if it was a nicoise salad and I tossed the potatoes in herbs. Anyway, all in all it was one of my better clean-out-the-fridge dinners, inspired by the warm weather lately so conducive to salad enjoyment! -K

Sudwerk, Shmoodwerk.....

I went to Sudwerk in Davis the other night, which I have always looked forward to in the spring. I used to love sitting on the patio with a liter of beer and some fried food as the days get longer and the nights warmer. Lets just say that I don’t think I can look forward to this any more. Late last year, Sudwerk changed ownership and it seems the quality of food and beer has gone down ever since. Sudwerk was never known for incredible food, but it was good for what it was….glorified German pub food. I usually opted for your average fried pub food and was quite satisfied. Everything has changed… It used to be good for bar food, but even the hallmark of bar foods, hot wings and fries, has changed for the worse. I won’t take the time to describe the perfect hot wing, but I had to choke them down this time. The calamari is now served chewy and soggy. I can’t speak for the regular dinner items on the menu because I don’t dare order real entrees at a place that only knows how to make bar food, or used to. The new owners have tried to make the menu feature more fancy “California” cuisine, but if they can’t master the use of a deep fryer then I am hesitant to try any real cooking.
As for the ambiance and service, the patio is still nice but I think it might be hard to enjoy while the thug bouncers are pestering you to pay a cover charge as you finish dinner. I actually witnessed the bouncers harassing some diners to pay a cover charge for “dollar pint night” as they were trying to finish their dinner. The bouncers gave them ten minutes to finish up and leave or pay the cover to remain at their table. I guess freeing up a table to sell dollar beers to the frat boys is more important than letting people enjoy their poorly fried food.
As I mentioned before, the food was never anything to blog about even in the past, but the beer was usually great and a liter cost little more than a pint at other establishments. That doesn’t seem to be the case any more. I had intimate experience with their beer in the past when I went to brewing school in a room right above the brewery where we had beer piped up to the classroom for our enjoyment during lecture. The beer they are serving lately is old! Most people don’t realize that beer goes “stale.” This is why self respecting breweries date their beer and ensure that it never leaves refrigeration. One should always be wary of the discounted beer that is piled up outside of the refrigeration unit in stores. Heat, oxygen and time are beers worst enemy (like wine, except time my be beneficial or detrimental depending on the particular wine). Instead of dumping the old beer down the drain I suspect Sudwerk attempts to recover every penny of their cost.
Bottom line, In lieu of satisfying customers with friendly service, fine beers, and quality beer drinking appetizers, they seem to be more concerned with getting rid of their old beer, bullying out diners to make room for beer swilling college students, and pretending that they are something that they are not in the food department. I think I will be spending more time on the Little Prague patio when I want beer and apps……

Monday, March 19, 2007

Pork and Potatoes

I can't believe it's warm enough in March to barbeque! Well, I guess it doesn't have to be warm to grill, but it sure helps get me in the mood. I had some beautiful fingerlings in different colors from farmer's market that were begging to be rubbed in rosemary and garlic and slapped on the grill with the pork loin chops. The picture doesn't do the purple potatoes justice...believe me, they're not burned, just deep violet. There were also some cool red fingerlings with crimson-swirled flesh. Too bad I went on a veggie binge yesterday, I wish I had some shrooms and asparagus left to grill! I'll have to stock up again on Wednesday...I love spring! -K

Mason's...very high brow!

Brooks and I went to Mason's 2 weeks ago, and we're finally publishing the review! We made reservations for 6 and arrived a few minutes late (my fault), but they had no problem seating us right away. We had a great table with an incredible view of their open kitchen. I was sitting with my back to a mirrored wall, and Brooks enjoyed admiring himself and people-watching all the goings-on in the restaurant. A problem we've had at a few places is table size: Brooks and I like to order LOTS of plates, so table size is essential (as well as timing on the part of the server)...anyway, the table was definitely big enough, and the service was professional. I've always wondered about the correct pronunciation of prix fixe...our server took time at the beginning of our meal to inform us: apparently it's "pree fee"...I thought it was "pree fix". The only problem we had was the chronically late wine: almost every glass that was paired with my prix fixe menu came a minute or three after the food. Other than that the service was friendly, available and not overbearing...exactly how I think it should be. Our busser was also very attentive and friendly.
The menu descriptions are incredibly mouth-watering, and they mention the geographic origin of most main ingredients. Local ingredients are emphasized, and I loved knowing more about the menu items and where the food was coming from. The sparkling clean open kitchen also contributed to the transparency of the menu.

What we had:
I had the chef's prix fixe menu with wine parings, while Brooks ordered a la carte from the menu and wine list. The kitchen sent out amuse bouche, one-bite 'previews' to encourage our appetites, as if we needed any encouragement! They consisted of a shrimp salad (I didn't catch the description from the server) on a dill scone...very delicious! Brooks' champagne opinion: As always we started the evening off with sparkling wine/champagne. The only choices by the glass were Chandon and PiperHeidsieck, so we ordered one of each. The Chandon was a Blanc de Noirs, a standard decent sparkling wine, the Piper Heidsieck Brut is a much more subtle mature sparkling wine with the creamy taste and texture expected from the Methode Champenoise.

Our first course was Jerusalem artichoke, toasted cashew and wild mushroom soup with cashew cream and crispy artichoke chips (Kristen's prix fixe) and a roasted beet, avocado and citrus salad with mache and an herbed ricotta crostini. I think we are pretty much in agreement about the soup: it was tasty, but the smokiness of unknown source overpowered any other flavors...nothing special. The roasted beet salad was exquisite...possibly the best I've ever had. The earthiness of the beets went well with the classic combination of citrus and avocado, and the balance of acid was perfect! I've encountered a few beet salads that overdosed on the vinegar, and this one blew them out of the water. Wines: 2004 Loosen Brothers "Dr. L" Reisling and Patassay Pinot Noir. Brooks' wine opinion: The Dr. Loosen Riesling was very good, but I thought it it was odd choice to pair with the smoky soup. I would have preferred a crisp Sauvignon Blanc. The Patassay Pinot Noir was excellent.

2nd course: Sautéed Massachusetts dayboat sea scallops with yukon gold potato gnocchi and an english pea broth (Kristen's prix fixe) and Brooks had sautéed Equadorian white prawns and braised Bledsoe Farms pork belly with vanilla bean caramelized pineapple and braised romaine hearts. The scallops were excellent at first taste, but an overpowering, almost burning saltiness took control of my palette the longer that they were in my mouth. Too bad because they would be great otherwise. The english pea broth was quite salty as well. The prawns and pork belly dish was very innovative. The prawns were served with their heads intact, but were still peeled and deveined. The individual elements might have been unremarkable by themselves, but with the vanilla bean and caramelized pineapple stand out unexpectedly; this was one of our favorite dishes of the night. Wines: 2004 Beringer Private Reserve Napa Valley Chardonnay and the Cabernet. Brooks' wine opinion: The chardonnay was good for chardonnay, but I don't like California chardonnays in general and this was a good example of why. Any semblance of fruit character was overshadowed by burnt butter and a skunky mercaptan odor. The Cab was good, but not particularly remarkable hence I can't remember who made it.

3rd Course: Grilled Beef tenderloin with wild mushroom raviolo, foie gras-porcini cream and braised winter greens (Kristen's prix fixe) and Brooks had a duo of Sonoma artisan duck: seared duck breast and confit leg with roasted brussel sprouts, applewood smoked bacon and caramelized rhubarb. Both of these entrées stood out to us on the menu, and we didn't really consider ordering anything else...what sounds better than foie gras-porcini cream?! The beef tenderloin was beautifully cooked mid-rare on the charcoal grill. The porcini and foie sauce imparts an earthy flavor to the dish. I was a little disappointed with the duck...the menu description had my mouth watering, but the breast was overcooked to medium (we ordered mid-rare) and the sauce seemed too sweet. Brooks, on the other hand, enjoyed the duck breast despite it being slightly overcooked. The duck confit was good, but I would have liked it to taste different than the carnitas that we make, which it didn't. Wines: 2004 Norton, Mendoza, Argentina, Reserve Malbec and another glass of the Pinot. Brooks' wine opinion: The Malbec was badly corked. It was a bit surprising that this obvious taint was not detected before the glass arrived at the table, but the wine was quickly replaced when brought to the server's attention. The Patassy Pinot was so good that we reverted back to drinking pinot.

Dessert: Warm meyer lemon soufflé with passion fruit anglaise (Kristen's prix fixe) and Brooks had a meyer lemon panna cotta with marinated strawberries and organic balsamic gelée. Though these desserts had Meyer lemon in common, the similarities ended there. The soufflé was amazing...warm, moist, tangy, with a little crunchy sugar on top. I couldn't pick up any passion fruit in the angaise, but it was yummy anyway. The panna cotta seemed too firm, and the mouthfeel was not enjoyable; I felt like I almost had to chew it. The strawberries lacked flavor and had a strange, soft texture...I'm guessing from marinating them? The balsamic gelée was actually pretty good, but I think the flavor was way too strong considering what it was being served with. The Wines: 2004 Sobon Estate Orange Muscat Reserve and Banyuls.

All in all, an evening at Masons is a memorable dining experience. Apart from some oversalting issues and overpowering rogue flavors, Masons creates some of the finest food in Sacramento. If you want to go to the swanky lounge next door, be sure to wear shinable shoes.

Mason's Restaurant
15th and L in downtown sac

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Brunch & Pops...YUM!

I know farmer's market is still going on, but I couldn't wait to say that the grits with greens and bacon was amazing! Even my 16 month old son loved it, and that's saying a lot! The grits were smooth and creamy inside with a slightly crispy texture outside with a little heat. The greens were so perfectly cooked they were almost silky while still having enough 'chew', and the bacon was so yummy...thinly sliced bits of perfectly crisp, smoky salty I sound like Homer Simpson with a donut? We also tried the beignets...a liberal dose of powdered sugar served with the tangy and slighty bitter orange marmalade. This was pure comfort food...thanks for the heads up from Something in Season! My ruling: YUM! -K

*Thanks to Brendon from Something in Season for taking this beautiful photograph of the scrumptious grits and sharing it with us!

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Jazz and Bug Zappers = "Classy"

I just got back from a science nerd recruiting event that was catered by "The Buckhorn" which is based in winters. I was pleasantly surprised by the food at the event since I usually don't expect much from catered food. I am generally not a big fan of tri tip when it comes to red meat, but this was some of the better tri tip that I have had. Not much else to say about the tri tip, it was simple and well cooked, with a nicely seasoned crust on the outside. You all know what simple good meat tastes like so there is no point in elaborating. In my twelve years in Davis I have always meant to make it out to the Buckhorn in Winters, but have never made the trip. From what I hear it is good, as long as you don't mind being surrounded by the severed heads of the animals that you are eating looking down at you from the walls.
On another note, I had an interesting conversation with a dude named Phil on the subject of the word "Classy." If you have read our brief glossery of terms on the website you will see that we have our own interpretation of the word "Classy." We weren't sure if other people would identify with our definition of the word, hence we felt the need to define it for the readers. My hero Phil justified my reasoning for how Kristen and I use the word. To set the stage, Phil and I were eating in the illustrious UC Davis Alumini center. Phil says "Wow this is really classy....." This particular phrase demanded my attention of course, so I asked him to elaborate. Phil replies "well you know....It's really classy eating this tri tip and listening to some groovy jazz while eating right under the big bug zapper that's mounted on the wall right above our heads. That says it all....... I am just happy to be justified in our definition of the word classy. After that all I could think about was one of my food science classes were I learned that when female "bugs" encounter bug zappers, it tends to make them explosively disperse their eggs over the area below the zapper. Thank you Phil from Missouri, you made my night.

Monday, March 5, 2007


I just cooked up my latest batch of carnitas for backup feeding for the week. I have learned a lot about carnitas in the past few months, but I have to give Kristen credit for teaching me the method that I have been using lately.
I used to buy a big ‘ol pork shoulder and chop it into 2x2 or 3x3 inch chunks and then boil in lard for 5 hours with a variety of spices and oranges. There is more to that method but it was time consuming and left me with about a gallon of lard that I would have to discretely dispose of somewhere outside.
These days I procure a large pork shoulder, preferably with a small bone cause I want the most fat for my buck, though Kristen says that the bone provides moisture and flavor. With the centimeter or so of fat in the bottom of the pan after cooking for a while I don’t worry about moisture very much though.
First I peel a head of garlic and halve the cloves. Stab the meat all over and insert as many half cloves of garlic as you think is reasonable. Push them in deep because the meat will constrict upon heating and the cloves may come out I liberally salt the pork (with Kosher salt……ironic huh?), ground pepper, some red pepper flakes and a liberal dousing with cumin and rub it all in with some olive oil. It is hard to overdo the seasoning at this point since the surface area to volume is pretty low.
Note: When I am out of carnitas I am not always at the top of my game, and may choose spices based on outward appearance rather than reading labels. Warning!!! Cinnamon looks just like cumin, and unfortunately it flows out the holes of the container much more fluidly than cumin. I don’t think you want cinnamon on your carnitas. To top it off, cinnamon is very water insoluble, so it is hard to wash off afterward. So read spice labels and don’t keep cumin next to cinnamon. Not that I have ever done this, this is strictly a hypothetical situation that I can envision happening, this kind of thing is way below me.
After all the spices are rubbed in, sear the meat in a hot pan with oil until crispy on one side, then flip it to the other side and put in a 250 degree oven. Roasting takes 4-6 hours depending on the piece of meat. The pork is done when it can be pulled apart and off of the bone just by looking at it. Put the pan directly onto a hot stove and and start frying to crisp it up while you tear it into smaller pieces.
At this point I add 1-2 cups of orange juice and mix well to get an even coating on the carnitas. I used to cook several sliced oranges with the pork chunks in the lard, but I've abandoned the lard method for now. I have also tried inserting orange slices into the pork shoulder, but that doesn’t work out too well so I am sticking to the OJ. Another failed bright idea was adding onions to the melted fat in the bottom of the pan. When I tried this I added them after only two hours and the onions were cooked way too long. It may work out well if the onions are added during the last half hour of cooking, but I haven’t tried this yet. Keep frying the carnitas in its own fat until it is too your desired crispness. At least make sure that all the water from the orange juice is boiled off before removing from heat. Carnitas are done!
Store in the refrigerator or frozen aliquots long term. Before eating eating them, fry them over high heat in their own oil until they get nice and crispy (if that is how you like them, I hate ordering carnitas somewhere and getting soft shredded pork.....). During my waking hours I like to eat them in a tortilla with some hot sauce and not much else, in the middle of the night a microwave and a fork is all I need. Just pure carnitas with fat dripping out both ends of the tortilla, some down my wrist, some in my mouth. I use both flour and corn tortillas but I like to quickly fry the corn tortillas in some hot oil to soften them up and prevent them from cracking and feeding the cats lurking below. At this point a little extra fat added to the tortillas is just a drop in the bucket. I recommend eating carnitas with El Pato (mild) or El Yucoteco (super habanero hot, Tigon likes it too) brand hot sauces. Both are strait outa Mexico and are sometimes in the mexican section of the grocery store rather than the shelf harboring the dread Pace Picante. Though it may be hard to resist, try not to eat carnitas every day until they are gone, your body will thank you.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Comfort Curry

Because it's been so cold lately and I have some sicko's in my family right now (colds and such), I was inspired to make comfort food tonight. I usually open the veggie drawer to see what I've got to work with, then make the meal around that. What else could I do with cauliflower, butternut squash, ginger, garlic, cilantro and potatoes but make veggie curry?! But then what to serve it over?
A few years ago my parents discovered some really cool looking 'Forbidden Black Rice' at the co-op. It has a sweet, full and almost fruity flavor, plus I thought it would look awesome with bright yellow curry. It takes about an hour to cook, much longer than the standard basmati or jasmine, but it was definitely worth it tonight.
Every bite I took was a little sweet and spicy, so perfect for a cold evening. As I ate, the broth from the curry mixed with the rice and became a sweet, tangy deep purple jus...yum!!! Even better: I have tons of leftovers!

Here's what I threw in the pot:
-1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
-5 small potatoes, peeled and large dice
-1/2 butternut squash, peeled and large dice
-1 and 1/2 yellow onions, large dice
-5-ish cloves of garlic, finely chopped
-about 1 inch of ginger, finely chopped
-2 cups stock (I used chicken)
-1 big can (~30 oz.) organic chopped stewed tomatoes w/juice
-1 T. good curry powder (check it out first, people...I've ended up with curry powder that tasted like pumpkin pie before, yuck!)
-small pinch of cumin seeds, toasted
-s&p tt
-1/2 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped for garnish

I sweated the onions, garlic and ginger first, then threw everything else in and put a lid on it for 30 minutes or so.

'Forbidden' Black Rice (sounds spooky, huh)
-2 cups black rice
-3 1/2 cups water

steam for about an hour, then let sit for another 15 minutes or so.

If you try it out, let me know what you think, any cool variations, etc...I'd love to hear from you! -Kristen