Friday, July 27, 2012

Old Bread

So, I have a confession.  I hoard stale bread. I inherited this from my mother.  Any bread; the heels of a loaf, part of  a baguette, leftover biscuits, the last muffin, or cake trimmings from the spouses latest masterpiece, all fair game.  I have a bucket on the counter, where it all goes to dry. 

  It is with good cause, however. When I was first married, the spouse was about to throw out the heels of a loaf of bread (as neither of us likes to eat them), and I told her to save them.  She asked, "why?", thinking I was nuts.  I answered, what I thought was obvious, "for stuffing".  As her mother wasn't much of a cook, she only knew stuffing out of a box.  So, for our first thanksgiving, I made the sage dressing the way my mother and grandmother did, and she learned how right I was.

 Once the bread is thoroughly dried out,it gets cut up in cubes.  I put a collender over a bowl.  When it gets full, it gets shaken, and the pieces big enough to count as cubes get picked out.  Course crumbs collect in the collender, and fine crumbs in the bowl. 

Sweet breads get cut up and stored seperately.

By doing this, I have ready ingredients for stuffing, strata, bread pudding, meatloaf, or breading.  It is frugal, using something otherwise thrown away.

Happy eating!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Beer-steeped grilled sausages, zuchini, and cold noodle salad

Still using the grill for most of the cooking.  Tonight, we had beer-steeped grilled sausages, horseradish jelly-pomegranate molasses glazed grilled zuchini, and an ancho chili-tangerine cold noodle salad.

I used Hillshire Farm Gourmet Creations Beef & Bacon and Chicken Apple with Gouda sausages.  I grilled them, then simmered them in a pot with a pint of Shock Top Belgian White Beer and an equal amount of water. I love the chicken sausages, which I also used on July 4th.  Sinmmering in beer ensures the sausages get fully cooked, while remaining plump and juicy.
For the zuchini, I mixed about 3 tablespoons of horseradish jelly with 2 teaspoons of pomegranate molasses and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt.  I split the zuchini lengthwise, and grilled them cut side down, until they acquired good grill marks.  I turned them and brushed them with the glaze, then cooked them until tender. The pomegranate molasses added tangyness.

Ancho Chili-Tangerine Cold Noodle Salad

1 inch diameter bunch whole grain thin speghetti
3 dried ancho chilies
1 1/2 cups white wine
1/4 cup slivered almonds
8 ounces fresh snap peas
juice of 3 tangerines
zest of 2 tangerines
2 Tblsp. rice vinegar
2 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Remove stems and seeds from chilies. Place in bowl, cover with wine, let stand until rehydrated.

Boil speghetti in salted water until al dente, then shock in an ice water bath to stop cooking. Drain.

Toast almonds in a dry pan over medium heat.

Wash pea pods, and cut into 1 inch pieces.  Drain and dice chilies..

Whisk together juice, zest, oil, and salt.

Toss speghetti with pea pods, chilies, and almonds, and dress with juice mixture.  Chill until ready to serve.

I used dry mead for the wine, as I had an open bottle that needed to be used up. I was really happy with this salad.  The fresh pea pods and almonds added crunch, and the chilies I had were very mild and fruity.

Monday, July 16, 2012

School Application

Applied online for Grossmont College.  They have an extensive culinary program, including a two year degree aimed specifically toward catering.  I'm nervous, but excited.  Spent some time going over the course catalog.  Some of the courses look really interesting, including Menu Management.  Assuming I get accepted, the first thing to try for are the Essential Skills and Principles of Baking classes.  Without those, only a few lecture classes can be taken.  Need those essential pre-requsite classes!  Really want to do this!

Website review: I think you're saucesome

So, last week was San Diego Comic-con International.  Long four days.  Spent it doing historical fencing demos, and wandering the dealer's room.  I especially love the small press area, web comics area, and Artists Alley.  That's where I think the coolest, most innovative stuff can be found.

I met a lot of cool people, but one of the coolest was Sarah Becan. She runs a webcomic/blog called I think You're Saucesome.  It's food oriented, with great watercolor illustrations.  One of my favorites is Sausages of the World.  There are bits of food history, recipes, restaurant reviews, and personal bits of information. 

I really like this comic.  Most of the other webcomics I read are serial stories, mostly fantasy/gaming oriented.  This one isn't.  It hadn't ever occured to me that 'food webcomic' existed as a genre.  I love the charming, homey watercolor style artwork. There are a lot of archives, two year's worth, that I am just starting to work through.  There are great little personal bits, showing Sarah's evolving attitude toward herself and food, which are touching and endearing.

Sarah was an amazing person to talk to.  Knowledgeable, funny, sharp witted, and thoroughly geeky.  Would love to have her over for pizza on the grill, while drinking local microbrew, and talking sci/fi.  Read her comic, get to know her better, I'm sure you will agree with me.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Zatar marinated chicken kabobs with safron - cranberry rice

Summer in inland Southern California:  Grill season (not that it's ever really not grill season here, but July and August, I definitely do not want to heat up the kitchen).  Dinner tonight was a Middle Eastern inspired affair.  I made white wine and zatar marinated chicken kabobs with a cucumber yogurt sauce, safron - cranberry rice, and steamed spiced sweet corn.  I was really happy with this meal.  I got the skewers grilled just right, with the chicken completely cooked, but still moist.  I didn't have much in the way of fresh veggies to work with at the moment, so I used frozen corn.  I know, this results in a less than exciting color palette for the food, but my roommate won't eat green beans, which was the only other veggie that came easily to hand. I put the frozen corn in a Tupperware microwave steamer (an outdated model they don't sell anymore) with about a half teaspoon of kosher salt, and two teaspoons of Auntie Arwen's Shy Panda Kosher Oriental Stir Fry Blend, and microwaved for five minutes. 

Zatar is a Middle Eastern spice mix of thyme, sumac, salt, and white sesame seeds.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

4th of July Potluck

Like so many others, I got together with friends for the 4th of July holiday.  We had a potluck, and so I needed to bring things to share.  By now it's obvious that I am a serious foodie.  I love intricate, challenging. sophisticated cuisine.  However, I am not a food snob.  I freely acknowledge my middle class roots. 

As a child, my grandmother often babysat for me.  A common lunch was that classic; beenies and weenies.  Yes, Van Camp's pork and beans with hot dogs sliced into them.  Now, due to an unfortunate incident of food poisoning, I cannot bring myself to eat canned pork and beans ever again.  But, being nostalgic, and wanting to do something classic, I was determined to do an upscale version.  So, I made my own baked beans, and grilled some very good chicken, apple, and gouda sausages,  which I cut up and added to the beans.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Grill Night!

Last weekend, finally cleaned off the back patio, so I can get to my grill again.  Summer in San Diego, most meals are on the grill, so I don't have to heat up the kitchen.  Monday was the first grill session, and was grilled top sirloin with berra berra - cumin butter, grilled sweet corn, and spicy grilled potato wedges. 

Grilled the steaks medium rare.  I grill the corn in the husks, it prevents them from getting too charred.  The compound butter was 1/2 stick of butter, 1/2 teaspoon each cumin and berra berra (berra berra is a hot Ethiopian spice mix, you could substitute chilli powder), and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt.

Spicy Grilled Potato Wedges

3 medium russet potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tblsp. each garlic powder, onion powder, paprika
1/2 Tblsp. kosher salt

Wash potatoes.  Cut in half, then into 1/4 inch wide slices.  Place in bowl with oil, spices, and salt.  Toss to evenly coat. Grill on both sides until brown and crisp.

This is one of my favorite replacements for french fries.

Happy eating!

Restaurant Review: Seasons Fresh Buffet

Seasons Fresh Buffet at Barona Casino has become my favorite buffet in San Diego.  The price is reasonable (about $17, if you join Club Barona), the variety is good, and everything is fresh and well made.

They have a good, if limited, selection of maki roll sushi, and good anti-pasti. They have very good fresh seafood.  The crab legs are not oversteamed, so are very flavorful. The Gulf of Mexico oysters are quite good, this is the first place I have eaten raw oysters and not thought they were disgusting. The prime rib  is also good, I've always been able to get a proper medium rare center cut.  They have a nice selection of dim sum.  They have Mexican, Chinese, and Mongolian Barbeque sections as well, but I haven't eaten anything from those, because, well crab legs and prime rib.

They have a nice selection of desserts, including hand scooped ice cream and banans foster, as well as a person making crepes to order.  I really like their ameretto cheesecake, and they have very good creme puffs.

Happy eating!