Tuesday, February 27, 2007

the chicken AND the egg

Last week at lunch a co-worker was eating some leftovers that looked very similar to my Bubble Tea lunch a few weeks ago. She said she had made it in her crock pot and gave me the recipe. Get ready, it's a doozy...some chicken, and 1/4 cup each of rice wine vinegar, soy sauce and sugar, and some hard boiled eggs. Oh! and some slivers of fresh ginger! I used 6 chicken thighs and 6 hard-boiled eggs in mine. Cooked it on low all day while we were at work...about 8 or 9 hours. Served it with some jasmine rice, shredded cabbage and beans sprouts. So easy! So tasty! Here's some photos:

Friday, February 23, 2007

irish stew

Yesterday we had Irish Stew cooking in the crockpot all day. We came home to a wonderful dinner. The meat was soooo flavorful and the whole experience was downright comfy. I used this recipe. It's so strange that the recipe left out salt and pepper. Of course I added salt and pepper...I mean 6 potatoes and NO salt? Crazy. Ayway, I love that there was a pint of Guinness in it. Guinness in cooking? Brilliant! Here's some photos:

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

zen eats

Here are some quotes from the 2006 Wisdom of the East mini calendar that are food related. Because food and eating is so very important for the body, mind and soul.

"When you do something, you should do it with your whole body and mind; you should be concentrated on what you do." -Suzuki

"God is in the abundant harvest; he is also in the famine that occurs when the harvest fails." -Mansur al-Hallaj

"When the flower blooms, the bees come uninvited." -Ramakrishna

"This ritual is One
The food is One
We who offer the food are One
The fire of hunger is also One
All action is One
We who understand this are One."
-Hindu blessing

Monk: "I have just entered the monestary: please give me some guidance."
Master: "Have you eaten your rice gruel?"
Monk: "Yes, I've eaten."
Master: "Then go wash your bowl." -Zen mondo

"Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security
and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people's approval
and you will be their prisoner."

"Who has never tasted what is bitter does not know what is sweet." -Chinese proverb

"when you drink water, remember the mountain spring." -Chinese proverb

Monday, February 19, 2007

the king of fruits

Friday I got the opportunity to cut open and taste a durian fruit! I was so excited. After seeing them on TV and reading Anthony Bourdain's experience with this exotic stinky fruit, I couldn't believe I was face-to-face with one here in Missouri! I had the honor of opening the thing. It was very spikey and hurt my delicate hands a bit, but I toughed it out and stabbed a huge knife through it, at one of the seams, cutting it in half. The smell got stronger once it was opened, and the insides looked like soft organs of some sort. I scooped a piece of the smelly flesh up and tasted it. Despite reports, it kind of does taste a little like it smells. But, yummier. Very yummy in fact. Creamy and silky like some kind of custard. The taste was kind of like over ripe melon, stinky cheese and and aftertaste of green onions. Yeah! Green Onion! Crazy!!!

So, another fun food to cross off the list! Oh, and coincidentally, when I got home that evening, I saw that Slashfood had a post about durian cupcakes! I don't know about getting a durian and bringing it home, though. Maybe in the summer, when I can have an outdoor picnic. The smell is really pungent. Oh, and the burps? Eeek! To learn lots more about this very interesting "King of Fruits," check out the best durian webpage I've come across so far, Durian Palace.

And since it was where I first heard of durian, here's the bit from Anthony Bourdain's A Cook's Tour:

"I knew it was close. I could smell it. The fabled durian fruit. You can smell it a hundred yards away. Imagine a big green menacingly spiked football - only it exudes an unforgettable, gassy, pungeant, decomposing smell. It's an odor that hangs over markets and produce stalls all over Asia. It is said to be delicious. I was intrigued. Expensive, ugly, difficult to transport - it's against the law to take durian on most planes, buses, and trains - it is said to be one of the most prized delicacies of the East. I had to try it. I bought a nice big one; it looked much like the relatively benign jackfruit, except spikier. I'd planned on taking it back to the hotel, but after ten minutes in the car with the reeking, foul-smelling object, the crew were crying for mercy. We had to pull over by Wat Phnom, a pagoda and park in the center of town, where, under the watchful eye of an elephant, I carved up my durian, sawing through thick skin and cutting myself on the stegasauruslike armor. God it stank! It smelled like you'd buried somebody holding a big wheel of Stilton in his arms, then dug hime up a few weeks later. After sawing through the skin, I pulled apart the fibrous yellowy pulp, exposing, around the avocado-sized pits, lobes of cheesy, gooey, spreadable material that looked very much like whole foie gras. The smell inside was less intense. I took a thick smear of the stuff - it had the consitency of a ripe St. Andre - and was shocked. It was fantastic. Cheesy, fruity, rich, with a slightly smoky background. Imagine a mix of Camambert cheese, avacodo, and smoked Gouda. OK, don't. That's not a very good description. But tasting the stuff, one struggles for words. It didn't taste anything like it smelled; the flavor was much less assertive, and curiously addictive. Durian was one of the first truly 'new' flavors I'd encountered - unlike anything else in its uniqueness, its difficulty. Remember the first time you tasted caviar? Or foie gras? Or a soft ripened cheese? There's that same sense of recognition that you're in new and exciting territory. You may not love it right away, but you know you've tasted something important and intriquing."

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

meat-al heads

Looking at various packaged meats and meat products, It occured to me that some of the phrases on the packaging would make great band names. See?

-Fully Cooked
-Heat & Serve
-Resealable Bag
-Thaw Slightly
-with gravy
-Coated with Seasoning
-Caramel Color added
-Fully Cooked, Homestyle
-With Catsup Sauce
-Serving Suggestion
-Artificial Flavor
-Net Weight
-Strictly Kosher Beef
-Great For Grilling
-Sell By Date
-Sandwich Style
-Leak Proof
-Mechanically Separated Chicken
-With Shaped Minced Beef
-Packed in Broth
-Without Giblets
-In Milk Gravy

Rock on!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

yes! yes! yes!

Anthony Bourdain sounds off on Food Network Personalities. Good stuff. Right on. Hilarious. Especially the parts about Rachael Ray and Sandra Lee. Here'w what he says about Sandra:

"Pure evil. This frightening Hell Spawn of Kathie Lee and Betty Crocker seems on a mission to kill her fans, one meal at a time. She Must Be Stopped. Her death-dealing can-opening ways will cut a swath of destruction through the world if not contained. I would likely be arrested if I suggested on television that any children watching should promptly go to a wooded area with a gun and harm themselves. What’s the difference between that and Sandra suggesting we fill our mouths with Ritz Crackers, jam a can of Cheez Wiz in after and press hard? None that I can see. This is simply irresponsible programming. Its only possible use might be as a psychological warfare strategy against the resurgent Taliban--or dangerous insurgent groups. A large-racked blonde repeatedly urging Afghans and angry Iraqis to stuff themseles with fatty, processed American foods might be just the weapon we need to win the war on terror."


And here are his thoughts on the Top Chef contestants. I love how he talks about Mikey. Adorable!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

pretty purple pesto with penne

Last night we teamed up to make some pesto. I had gotten some really pretty Opal Basil, which I'd never seen before. It's a deep purple color, and I was hoping the pesto would be really purple, so I could have a Pretty Purple Pesto with Penne. I have a thing for alliteration, you see. Alas, I didn't have enough of the Opal basil, and used lots of the regular green basil. You can still see some of the dark purple specks, though. And it was very tasty. Basically, it was the 2 kinds of basil (one bunch of the opal and a big tub of the regular), toasted pine nuts, 5 cloves of garlic, some parmasean cheese, salt, pepper, lemon juice and lots of olive oil. All blended together in the food processer, served with whole wheat penne topped with shredded parmesan and more toasted pine nuts. Can you say MMMMMM?!?! I had it with some Red Diamond Cabernet, which worked well. It's an extremely fruity wine...kind of sweet even. The combo of that juiciness and the salty nuttiness of the pesto was very nice.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Wine-ing and bitching

2 weekends ago I went to the St. Louis food and WIne Experience. It's a wine and food show put on to raise money for the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. This is the third year I've gone, and as usual, it was a blast. Basically, you walk around and taste wine. It's a great way to learn about wine, because reps from the wine companies are usually there to answer questions. It's also a great place to find a bunch of wines that are new to you. Most booths have little take away cards so you can remember which wines you liked. I went through our pilke of cards last night, so here's a list of some of our favorite wines we tried that day:

Sterling Vitner’s Collection Zinfandel

Red Guitar Wine

Dynamite Zinfandel

Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin

Taltarni Vineyards 2002 Shiraz (I think this was our favorite find of the whole day. I remember we both took a card so we'd be sure to remember this one)

Crane Lake Petit Sirah

Clos Du Val 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon

Shoo Fly 2004 Shiraz

337 Wine

Shingleback Shiraz 2003

I also came away with a nice informative brochure detailing all of the Missouri Wineries. I haven't been to any besides 4 of them in St. Genevieve. And I didn't realize that there were so darn many!

And in other local wine news, the St. Louis Post Dispatch ran this article about wines with naughty names a couple weeks ago. I love Fat Bastard Wines. I'd like to try some of these other wines with funny names. I know it's more of a gimmick, but darn it, you're gonna resist a wine called "Bitch"?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

cheesey labels

I came across this awesome collection of cheese labels today. It is in French and arranged by themes. I could spend hours looking through them.

Here's some of the more cute/fun/bizarre ones I've found so far:

Astronaut cheese!

Pretty livestock drawings.

Squirrel. Looking for a nut-tier cheese.

Mailman cheese!

Ummmmmm...errrrrmmmmm...WTF cheese.