27 December 2008

Yalumba Barossa Bush Vine Grenache 2007

Playing catch-up here but I should not neglect to mention that on the night of the excellent Chickpea-Carrot soup, E. came over and brought an excellent bottle of wine. The (take a breath) Yalumba Barossa Bush Vine Grenache 2007, which was very smooth, incredibly flavorful and an excellent complement to a nice hearty soup and salad. Worth remembering and picking up.

26 December 2008

DIY Hot Wings and Bleu Cheese

In one of my intermittent mass-cookings, I found myself with several odds and ends and not quite knowing what to do with them. There was horseradish that had been sitting in vodka for a week, hot peppers about to go bad, and chicken wings that I'd thawed but was now unsure how to handle. So, of course - horseradish+peppers+chicken wings=hot wings! I'll do this in three steps.

First, I made the horseradish pepper sauce

Horseradish Pepper Sauce

  1. Peel and slice up a bunch of horseradish
  2. Cut off stems from peppers
  3. Put in food processor
  4. Add some white vinegar
  5. Blend
  6. Repeat, adding white vinegar until desired consistency is reached
  7. Refrigerate

Then, I poured the sauce over the chicken wings, threw 'em in the fridge and let them sit for a couple days (overnight would be fine). This would also work well with, e.g., extra-firm tofu or seitan.

The wings themselves are easy - crank oven to 350 for 10 minutes, and put the wings on a baking tray in the oven for 20-30 minutes.

The Bleu Cheese dressing is actually a Bleu Brie dressing - there was a full mini-wheel of it on sale for $1.99 (!) at Harris-Teeter. Totally improvised, but took my inspiration from the ingredients list on the bottles of Ken's Dressings and online.


  • Bleu/Bleu brie cheese
  • White vinegar
  • Full-cream yogurt
  • Mayonaisse


  1. Combine in bowl
  2. Blend until desired consistency
  3. Chill in refrigerator

Wish I were more help here, but just have some bread and taste as you go along.

So, remember - if you have a hankering for trashy foods, you can probably do it yourself and pretty cheaply. Back of the envelope, the ingredients used for this meal probably cost me $2-3.

21 December 2008

Chickpea-Carrot Soup

I had been excited from when I saw this recipe from 30 Bucks a Week, to make chickpea soup. Of course I couldn't just leave well enough alone and follow the recipe, so I modified it a bit in procedure at a few points, more or less doubled the batch, &c. Many thanks to P. and T. for a dynamite recipe!

  • 4 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 3 cups collard stock (or other veggie stock, but collards work well - use the stems and boil down until the broth is a dark golden brown)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • white wine and balsamic vinegar
  • 1 large onion
  • 5 large carrots
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Chop carrots, onion and one clove garlic coarsely and blend in food processor into very small pieces
  2. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pot and add garlic.
  3. Sauteé for a few minutes and then add the carrots and onion mixture.
  4. Let the combination cook down for 5-10 minutes, and then add vinegar to cover bottom of pot
  5. Let the vinegar begin to cook down, and place chickpeas and 1 cup collard stock food processor and blend until chickpeas reach a creamy consistency. This is not hummus, so add more liquid if you need to.
  6. Add the chickpea puree to the pot and bring mixture to a boil.
  7. If it seems too thick, add more vegetable stock until it becomes the soup-like consistency you desire. Add salt and pepper to taste, cover and simmer for a few minutes.
  8. Serve and enjoy!


Spectacular, actually, if I don't say so myself - and I do.

19 December 2008

Brooklyn Flemish Gold

Tyler's in Carrboro [guys - pretty that website up there a bit, will ya?] boasts of their being the only bar in North Carolina currently featuring the Brooklyn Brewmaster's Reserve series, a collaboration between Brooklyn Breweries and Brasserie d'Achouffe. On my previous visit they were between kegs, but yesterday they were featuring the Flemish Gold. I'm not always the biggest fan of the Belgians, but their goldens generally get it done if they can avoid the wineyness of their co-nationalists. This beer does that and more - a nice bright nose is followed by a perfect golden ale, full of citrus flavors, effervescent and with a nice full mouthfeel. It finishes clean and with a very nice bitterness (this would probably be the dry-hopping, here). Never sweet or overly alcohol-tasting (nor should it be at 6.5% ABV), it isn't an overly complex beer but it's very, very tasty. Get it while it's still there.

Pickled Radishes

At the market yesterday, I needed to pick up some onions and carrots, the former because I'm out and the latter as I'm gearing up to make the Chick Pea Soup recipe from Brooklyn food confederates 30 Bucks a Week. I'm not much of a fan of carrots on their own so I thought about the other uses that I could put the surplus carrots to and it occurred to me that pickles would be the way to go. Sandwhich makes a lovely pickled carrot and I might need to go there just to have some so I can backwards engineer.

So it was with pickles on my mind that I stumbled upon radishes bagged up and priced to move, past their sell-by dates. I love radishes in pretty much any form, and have had some excellent Asian radish pickles, so this seemed like a perfectly fortuitous set of circumstances.

I saved the pickling for the end of a productive evening of cooking (burrito assemblage, in part), and it was a snap. I pulled together a semi-consensus of online recipes and added a couple of twists; haven't had them yet - letting them steep in the fridge for a bit - but they sure look pretty.


  • 2 cups radishes, sliced, ends removed
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tblsp salt
  • several dashes herbs of choice
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 8 cloves


  1. Slice radishes; set aside
  2. Place one clove garlic and four cloves in each of two medium mason jars; slice open garlic a bit if it's a large clove
  3. Combine vinegar, salt and sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved. I only had turbinado sugar so I needed to put it on the stove at low heat for a while to get the big crystals dissolved; fine processed sugar should dissolve with a whisk
  4. Add herbs to vinegar mixture
  5. Pour vinegar mixture over radishes in a large bowl; stir until all are covered
  6. Transfer radishes to jars, and then cover with vinegar mixture. Top off each bottle with enough white vinegar to cover the radishes
  7. Put in fridge, let sit for a couple hours/days, and enjoy!

The radishes are outstanding. Just really, really tasty.

16 December 2008

Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Thighs

Spencer Ackerman has led me right before in combining bacon with other meats, so I figured that wrapping chicken in bacon would be a good call, too.


  • ~1/2 lb. pepper bacon
  • 3 chicken thighs
  • 1 onion
  • 1 cup mead (or other white wine - I had mead)


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Wrap chicken thighs in bacon; 3-4 per thigh, whatever it takes to mostly cover
  3. Chop onion
  4. Slice one slice bacon; put in pan along with other preferred cooking fat (e.g., bacon drippings, butter, etc.)
  5. Sauteé onions until they begin to brown
  6. Add chicken and let cook for 7-8 minutes
  7. Flip chicken, add mead/wine and cook for 5-7 minutes
  8. Place in oven for 10-12 minutes
  9. Serve and enjoy


Well - just about what you'd expect:
Totally excellent.

15 December 2008

Food Policy

Matt Yglesias (again) makes a fine point about the United States' food policies:
The United States could urgently use food policy reform. Right now, we have a lot of subsidies to food growers. That’s questionable economics. But what’s more, we subsidize people to grow food that’s bad for public healthy in ways that are environmentally unsound. That’s terrible. If we’re going to subsidize farming, we ought to be subsidizing people for growing healthy crops in a sustainable way. On the merits, this is a no-brainer — there’s obviously no public interest in taxpayer subsidies for high-fructose corn syrup — but the politics is another matter.

He then goes on to discuss the particular politics of it, but I'll stick with the opening sentiment first. It really is a much better idea for so, so many reasons that if the Federal government has to be in the business of subsidizing agriculture - and there's a pretty good argument that this is the case - then it should be doing so in a way that encourages people to eat healthier rather than less-healthy foods. Yglesias points out that while it's all well and good for, e.g., Oregon's farmers to grow for local farmer's markets, the geography of Iowa - lots and lots of amazing land, not that many people - means it couldn't do the same. Which is true enough. But we don't have to go that far: even if we keep subsidies at current levels, subsidizing Iowa's farmers to grow a healthy mix of crops rather than all-corn, all-the-time would be a better way to go. Because we don't eat that corn: it goes into feed, mostly, and then some ethanol. And the feed goes into artificially-cheap-and-abundant meat - beef, primarily - which then goes into your colon and gives you cancer. Or just heart disease!

But, at any rate - the thing about subsidies is that they make it pretty easy to convince farmers to switch production: just make sure to guarantee that they'll get as much (or more) money for gorwing Crop X rather than corn, and they're good to go. There's no real sentimental attachment to millions of acres of feed- and ethanol-corn. And what would we do with all this stuff? Well, you know who needs lots of food, and food that it would be better to have healthy than not? Kids. And as the Federal government is already pretty deep into the business of school food and nutrition, it would not be a huge leap for them to become the facilitator/buyer of first and last resort for a lot of crops, which would then be directed to healthy school lunches. As a bonus, Federal subsidies of all school food could then have the effect of keeping expenses lower for school districts around the country, and of course the long-term public health benefits of kids eating a healthier, more diverse diet would be enormous.

12 December 2008

Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron

Dogfish Head is one of the best breweries in the U.S., and is especially expert at complex, flavorful, high-alcohol beers. Their 60-minute IPA is a perfect citizen of the genre; their 90-minute IPA is a tasty treat that'll knock you on yer ass if you're not careful; and the Raison D'Etre is one of the more innovative brown ales of recent years.

Their Palo Santo Marron is a new entrant, an unfiltered brown ale aged in Palo Santo wooden barrels. The nose starts with a hint of banana, and the very full-bodied beer delivers, as promised, caramel and vanilla, finishing with a nice dark roast. The 12% ABV does not come through particularly strongly, and overall it's a solid beer.

Solid, but not spectacular. The word is that last year's batch was far preferable, more complex and balanced - this year's is a solid, tasty big brown ale but at ~$4/bottle retail, other cheaper or similarly-priced beers (including and especially Dogfish Head's own) deliver at a higher level. Maybe next year!

03 December 2008

Founder's Backwoods Bastard Bourbon-Barrel-Aged Ale

Ohgodohgodohgodohgod. This beer is... unique is a word that's thrown around a lot and thus cheapened, but I've honestly never tasted anything like this before. Saranac's Single Malt was sort of the same idea, but really... nothing like this. Founder's Backwoods Bastard Bourbon-Barrel-Aged Ale. Okay, lemme give a go at describing: pour it into a glass and give it a smell - bourbon with nice rounded edges. The taste stays bourbon, moves to vanilla and finishes with everything together. Neither hoppy nor malty, sweet or overly bitter, this beer is just singular. Highly recommended as a counterpart to a rich meal that will hold its own with the meal, with dessert, or by itself. Just, wow.

01 December 2008

Vidya's Garlic Pickle

My cousin Amanda and her husband Peter lived in Madurai, India for a while (Peter for several years across a couple of stretches) and among the wonderful things they returned with was serious cooking chops, and a book of recipes from their friend Vidya. The shining star of those recipes, without question, is the Garlic Pickle, reproduced below. I just made a batch and even my inexpert execution produced an obscenely tasty result.

Vidya's Garlic Pickle

Highly spiced preserves such as these are served as a condiment with rice meals. Prepare a batch and keep in the fridge. They last for months, getting better with time.


  • 6 to 7 cups of fresh peeled garlic (cloves should not be bigger than ¾ inches in length, and larger cloves should be cut into halves or quarters)
  • 2 cups of fresh Indian sesame oil (do not use Chinese roasted sesame oil)
  • 3 tablespoons fenugreek
  • ¼ cup tamarind concentrate
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons turmeric powder
  • 3 tablespoons black mustard seeds
  • 6 tablespoons red chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar


  1. Roast 3 tablespoons of fenugreek in 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, until the fenugreek turns reddish golden. In a blender, grind the fenugreek into a coarse powder. Set aside.
  2. Dissolve the tamarind in 1 cup of water, and set aside.
  3. Heat the remaining sesame oil, and fry the mustard seeds until they pop and turn gray.
  4. Reduce heat to medium, add turmeric and chili powder, and stir thoroughly.
  5. Add the garlic and fry for 1 minute.
  6. Add the tamarind water and roasted fenugreek powder, and bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce heat to a simmer.
  8. Add salt and sugar.
  9. Continue to cook for 3 to 5 minutes on low heat, stirring gently.
  10. Cool the pickle mix, transfer it to a glass jar or other airtight container, and refrigerate. This pickle can be served right away, but it tastes better after one or two weeks or more of soaking in oil and spices. The recommended serving size varies depending upon an individual’s tolerance for spicy food, but a small servings of one teaspoon is a reasonable starting point. Garlic pickle can be served with any Indian dish, but it is particularly delicious with curd rice.

27 November 2008

Thanksgiving: The Cookening

Like with any successful feast-y meal, any successful very large blog post requires serious prep work. And so it's 9:30 Thanksgiving morning and here I begin the chronicling of this year's meal, the first one that I've really cooked for. Posting draft early and will update throughout the day.


  • Mead: LG is bringing this, and it's like liquid joy when mulled. Mead!
  • Wine:
  1. René Barbier Catalunya Mediterranean Red: dry, a little spicy with some nice acidity, and without some of the rawness that I find Spanish reds have sometimes. Another excellent deal from Mariakakis' at $5.99.
  2. La Terre California Merlot: another Mariakakis' special - $4.39 a bottle for all of the La Terre varietals! - AC says, "It's good, I like it." LG says - "It doesn't really have an aftertaste - it swallows well."
  • Horseradish schnapps: my first foray into liquor-infusion gets its debut tonight. I took a nip last night just to test it and it's quite pungent and refreshing. Directions below, and more recipes for infusing here. Plus, when chilled it makes an amazing digestif - dangerous, actually. Goes down reeeeaaaallllly smooth.
Horseradish Schnapps
  1. Wash, peel and slice a small piece of horseradish root.
  2. Put the slices in a clean glass jar with tight-fitting lid.
  3. Cover the root slices with clear, unflavoured vodka - 40% alcohol content (80 proof).
  4. Let steep for 1-2 days in a dark place at room temperature,
    18-20°C (64-68°F).
  5. Shake lightly and taste from time to time. Must not get bitter.
  6. Strain and filter your infusion into a clean glass bottle or jar with tight-fitting lid.

  • Rack of pork: I went to the Carrboro Farmer's Market special Tuesday edition determined to get myself a pork shoulder for long, slow roasting - the good folks at Cane Creek thought they had one but after 15 minutes of searching couldn't find it. However they did recommend a half-rack of pork which looked, well, delicous [that's it below, marinating], so I was sold.
Bacon-crusted rack of pork

Rack of pork, marinating in bacon, mustard and caraway seeds


  • 4 ounces sliced bacon, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons caraway seeds
  • 1/2 small jar bacon drippings
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • One half-rack pork
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a food processor, combine the bacon, mustard seeds, caraway seeds and bacon drippings
  2. Set the pork rack on a large rimmed baking sheet. Spread the bacon paste over all but especiallythe meaty side of the rack and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  4. Bring the roast to room temperature and season all over with salt and pepper.
  5. Set the pork in a roasting pan, fat side up. Roast in the upper third of the oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes
  6. Transfer the roast to a carving board and let rest for 10 minutes. Carve the roasts and serve.

Rack of pork, just after roasting

Rack of pork, just after roasting


  • Salad with walnuts and cranberries: AC's specialty
  • Roasted potatoes, sweet and otherwise, and onions: pretty standard; gonna quarter them, salt, pepper, roast
  • Collard greens: with garlic and some red pepper flakes in... butter.
  • Brussels sprouts with walnuts: a very solid favorite - one of the two preparations I often use
Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts


  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, base and outer leaves trimmed, and halved
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
  • 1 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan


  1. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil and add the Brussels sprouts.
  2. Cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes; drain.
  3. In a large saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the shallots and garlic, and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add the sprouts in 1 layer and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
  6. Remove from the pan.
  7. Add the remaining 1 tablespoons of butter and when melted, add the walnuts and cook, stirring, until golden and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  8. Add the lemon juice, salt, pepper, and sprouts, and stir well to coat and warm through.
  9. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the Parmesan. Serve immediately.

  • Mac'n'cheese: TG is making - AC got really excited the other week when a bunch of friends mentioned that they ate mac'n'cheese for Thanksgiving and decided we must
  • Spanikopita: LG is bringing - apparently a psuedo-tradition for her, and no complaints here
  • Biscuits: AC brings the dough

  • Pumpkin pie: verrrry excited for this, which TG is making
  • Chocolate and clementines! LG brought these as a bonus - superb!
More later, but - a great dinner.

20 November 2008

Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout: A Second Look

I had a really bad experience with a bottle of Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout at Local 506 last year. It was absurdly carbonated, way too alcohol-y and just not good. But Milltown has it on tap as their beer of the month, the barkeep recommended it as being smooth and not too kick-your-ass, and I generally trust their judgment. So I tried it and - it's really nice. You definitely taste a big full beer , but nothing over-the-top, and the aftertaste is really nice, super-chocolate-y and roasted. It's a cold day and this is the beer for't (though my first was a Fuller's ESB, which is really never a bad call).

19 November 2008

Bell's Christmas Ale

After earlier adventures in non-stout beer-making that were sometimes spotty, the good folks at Bell's seem to have really hit their stride. Their Christmas Ale - so new it's not even on the website yet! - is, as befits a winter beer, heavy on the malt. But it's not heavy on the sweet, balancing out the full taste with some excellent bitter hops. Nice full flavor and good for drinking either alone or with food - definitely pix up a sixer while they're out there, as it will be a limited release.

12 November 2008

Steelhead Scotch Style Porter

With chilly weather settling in for at least the medium-term, I was feeling a porter at the beer store yesterday. There were a few varieties in the singles case and I'll get around to them in time; for now, the first, Mad River Brewing Company's Steelhead Scotch Porter. I'll admit to having been pretty disappointed in some of Mad River's offerings in the past - the Double IPA was really just pretty mediocre, maltiness overcoming anything like hops - but decided I'd give 'em another shot. And... it's fine. Nothing really distinctive but nothing bad, either - a pretty decent porter but not memorable. So while not particularly disappointing, not something I'd really go with for a repeat performance. And given the superior brews offered by so many of their West Coast cousins also on offer locally (e.g., Green Flash), really no reason to bother with anything else from Mad River. Sorry guys.

11 November 2008

Notes on Two Soups d'Italia

This week, after two huge soup successes, I decided that I'm not really a huge recipe guy. Sunday night was a Tuscan white-bean-inspired, and tonight a Pasta e fagioli kindof. But, you know - I'm pretty sure I've never had either of those soups. And didn't read a recipe. So here's more or less how I made the soups, both of which received good reviews:

Tuscan White Bean [inspired]

  • Center cut ham steak
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Butter
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Chard (or another hearty green of your preference - kale would also work here)
  • White wine
  • White beans [fresh if possible, of course]
  • Whatever else is in the fridge that seems like a good idea


  • Cut ham into small cubes and set aside
  • Dice garlic and onions; tear chard from stems and cut stems into small sections; wash beans
  • Set large pot on medium-low heat and put in a generous amount of butter
  • Add garlic for a minute, and then onions, stirring until clear
  • Add chard stems and stir in; pour in a little wine
  • Add beans and a little more wine; let it cook down
  • Add ham and stir thoroughly; add a bunch of water now, raise heat to medium and cover
  • When boiling, add chard for a few minutes, and turn heat back to medium-low
  • If there's anything else you want to throw in, do it, and simmer until eating. Salt to taste.
  • Serve with a whole buncha bread
Pasta e Fagioli [kindof]


  • chicken bones
  • collard stems
  • aduki beans
  • beans of some other sort
  • onions
  • sweet potatoes
  • potato
  • salt
  • clove
  • ziti or similar pasta


  • It doesn't have to be chicken bones and collard stems but that's what was in the freezer. Basically, set a pot to boil and make stock for about an hour with what ya got.
  • Fish the bones and stems out; throw the bones, cut the stems into small pieces and set aside
  • Set pot to medium heat
  • Chop onions medium; dice potato and sweet taters small
  • Add all veggies, beans included, and stir
  • Add cloves and whatever other spices you want
  • Cover for 10-15 minutes or so
  • Uncover and raise to boil again, adding water if necessary
  • Add pasta and cook for a minute or two longer than dictated
  • Serve with parmesan grated on top, and with plenty of bread on the side
As an aside, I realized that the above soup is actually absurdly healthy - fiber, protein, carbs, veggies and very little fat. Definitely make sure you cook the beans enough to get them falling apart, makes it a really lovely hearty texture.

02 November 2008

Uh-oh! Soup

Forgot that I had Soup Collective today until... about half an hour ago. Thankfully, a quick search of the fridge revealed there was plenty to work with. So, Uh-Oh! Soup:


  • Lamb stock
  • Onion (small)
  • Spring onions (a few)
  • Mild red peppers (many)
  • Pinto beans (soaked)
  • Rice (cooked)
  • White wine
  • Italian spices
  • Garlic powder
  • Bay leaves (if you're into that sort of thing)
  • Olive oil
  • Water
  • Salt to taste
  • UPDATE: Large number of pre-cooked greens - collards, mustard greens, kale. Could be engineered to cook these simultaneously but that's not how this went


  • Chop onions finely, peppers coarsely
  • Heat oil on medium-low in a large pot
  • Add onions (both) and sauteé for a minute or so
  • Add bay leaves, garlic powder, Italian spices and continue to sauteé, adding more oil as necessary
  • Add pinto beans and sauteé
  • Add peppers and cook until they begin to soften
  • Add wine and cook until it begins to reduce
  • Add stock and as much water as is necessary
  • Cover, and cook for... as long as necessary
  • When soup is basically ready, add rice and cook for another couple of minutes - should soak it up fast
  • Add pre-cooked greens and cook for a while longer. Make sure greens are cut into smaller pieces or, as I did, retrieve from pot with slotted spoon and cut with scissors. Also - make sure you made the greens spicy (helpful when mustard greens are part of the equation)


  • Not sure yet! Will update later
  • Okay - delicious.
UPDATE: Okay, bit the bullet and added leftover greens and broth. We shall see!

UPDATE 2: Despite idiotically burning my tongue, greens definitely add a kick and heartiness. Good call, JKD.

UPDATE 3: Still needs a little more time for beans to properly soften but, adding a little more water, it proceeds apace. Also, no need for rice with greens now providing plenty of body.

UPDATE 4: Okay. Success - this is a damn fine soup, somehow. smalljones advises that this verges on Caldo Verde - and me with leftover mashed potatoes sitting unused in the fridge! Oh well - next time, and this functions well as is.

01 November 2008

3Cups Back Open!

Very happily, 3Cups is now open in their new location at 227 S. Elliott Rd. in Chapel Hill (next to Great Harvest, just down from the ABC store). Thew new store is much bigger, better wine selection, better flow throughout. Can't walk there anymore but it's great to have them back - picked up half a pound of Kuta roasted yesterday and can't wait to grind it up.

25 October 2008

North Carolina State Fair 2008 Food Extravaganza

On Wednesday, I went to the North Carolina State Fair with trel, Kelly, Kelly Chi and Ian. It was of course fantastic, and filled with food. Below, a photo essay on same.

After initial acquisition of delicious free hushpuppies, trel and Ian got some grilled corn, which scored an A from both.

We then headed up to the BBQ tent that I remembered as having such superlative Q from previous visits to the fair. I'd had the ribs before - amazing - but not the standard Q sandwich. And it was... amazing. One of the best I've had, o tender with excellent slaw, drenched in vinegar and Texas Pete.

After meeting Kelly, we headed up to the NC State School of Agriculture ice cream booth. Always superlative, we split two massive cups between the four of us - strawberry and cookies'n'cream. Meeting up with Kelly Chi, we reprised trips to corn and BBQ, and frm there hit some attractions and took a short break from food.

The next food adventure was a long wait for Country Ham biscuits - a wait well worth it.

Salty, meaty, doughy - perfect. And a while later: another country ham biscuit, from trel's favorite stand.

Different - smaller and not as doughy, but excellent in its own way. Note the grease stains.

More meandering, trel got some fried Oreos (also good), and then my final dish of the evening - fried okra.

Good stuff. We headed up to the pig races:

And from there to the fireworks:

Great success!

24 October 2008

Mustard Greens

Needing to do something with the wonderful greens from last week's market, and needing a dish for the pot luck tonight - well, good coincidence! Found a tasty-sounding mustard greens recipe and modified it - good stuff.


  • mustard greens
  • bacon drippings
  • garlic, minced
  • 2 cups hearty stock (I had lamb on hand, use what thou willst)
  • 2 tablespoons Worchestershire sauce
  • hot sauce, to tase


  • Mince garlic
  • Wash and coarsely chop greens
  • Heat pan and add bacon drippings
  • Sauté some garlic for about a minute in the bacon grease.
  • Mix broth, Worchestershire sauce hot sauce
  • Put greens in the pan and pour broth mixture over the greens, rotating greens to make sure they are all exposed to both the heat and broth
  • Cover and cook over low heat, stir occasionally, adding salt to taste
  • Serve and enjoy



23 October 2008

Crane Lake (CA) Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

Especially with global hops and malt prices remaining high, I keep telling myself - "JKD - drink more wine. Good stuff is cheap and it's good for you anyhow, as long as you can avoid the hangovers." The warm-until-recently weather (as for the most part, I can tolerate but not fully enjoy whites) has conspired with whatever else to blunt my enthusiasm for this plan of action, but with it being nice and chilly all day today, I decided it was time. So while at the Harris Teeter, I saw a bottle of Crane Lake (with a nice picture of a crane!) that was $3 off its normal $7.50 and, well, at $4.50 even if it's bad, I have one glass and then 5/6 bottle for cooking wine.

I hadn't known this prior to purchase, but a little searching around reveals that Crane Lake is made by none other than Bronco Wines, more famous for their work with Charles Shaw, aka Two (or Three)-Buck-Chuck. While glad that I paid the more reasonable $4.50, I must say that this does nothing to dampen my initial assessment of the wine - which I now realize I've forgotten to include so far. Here 'tis: fine! Not at all sharp, goes down really easy, and would be accepted as a merely-okay-but-not-offensive marque at a higher price-point. Still might use some for cooking, but this is a wine I can drink.

21 October 2008

Founder's Breakfast Stout

Okay, so I didn't actually have it for breakfast. Rather, Founders Breakfast Stout (another crackerjack recommendation from m'local beer store) is a beer that takes its inspiration and ingredients - oatmeal and coffee - from breakfast. And it does so very well. Incredibly smooth rather than dry for an oatmeal stout, and with the same smoothness providing a wonderful end-note on the bitter of the coffee, there's a lot going on here but all in the service of the same goals. They say there's cinnamon in there, too, but I couldn't pick that up until... this is totally gross, but until I burped. Then I tasted it. Don't let my grossness deter you, however - for a cold fall evening, this is an excellent beer to start off the night, though at 8.3% and with a nice viscous texture (not nearly so viscous as Expedition Stout, but that's a high bar), it's not a beer you'll also be finishing the evening with. Highly recommended.

18 October 2008

Food-Related Twitters for 18 October 2008

  • Carrboro Farmer's Market: greens (mustard and collard); peppers (many, spicy and non-); lamb leg; fat back; tomatoes for sauce; sweet taters
  • lamb stock in fridge; collard stock in freezer.
  • getting ready to plow through things-that-need-to-be-cooked/eaten to make week's food, and to clear deck for today's acquired bounty.
  • Step 1: Burrito Assembly Line. Refried beans, rice, fresh guac, cheese, lettuce.
  • Step 2: burritos in fridge and freezer. Preparing to make tomato sauce and then fry chicken.
  • Step 3: tomato sauce cooking down. Green tomatoes sliced, salted, sitting in preparation for breading. Chicken breaded. Pan oiled.
  • Step 4: eating. Fried green tomatoes outrageously good; chicken also tasty but I need work on my chicken-frying technique.

14 October 2008

Best. Dinner. Ever.

Well, not the best dinner I've ever had, but definitely one of the best all-elements dinners I've ever cooked. I had a hankering for MEAT today, and lamb happened to be on sale at WSM. So I headed home with a 6.4 oz. Niman Ranch lamb sirloin and got to thinking. After briefly considering warming up rice that I had already made, I said to myself,
Self, are you stupid or something?
and so proceeded as I should've,
  • slicing up half an onion and
  • three small Yukon Gold potatoes,
  • drizzling with olive oil and
  • coating in pepper and salt,
  • for roasting.
  • other half of the onion, sliced, along with a
  • large clove of garlic, and combined with
  • dry red wine,
  • olive oil, and a
  • bunch of dijon mustard.
  • Lamb was placed in said mixture, and from there to the
  • fridge for half an hour.
In the interim, I popped open a bottle of the Best Beer Evar (aka Bell's Special Double Cream Stout) and mixed up some of the ol' KD family salad dressing and a baby-spinach and romaine salad.

Then, to the grilling.
  • After putting the taters and onions in the oven for a bit,
  • I broke out the large cast iron enamel skillet, heated to medium
  • and threw on the lamb along with onions and all the sauce.
  • Turning intermittently, I added more wine as the sauce cooked down,
  • took the lamb off at medium-rare and
  • let the onions and sauce reduce some more.
  • The potatoes and onions came out and joined the lamb on the plate,
  • and all were then covered in the astonishingly tasty gravy and onions
The stout was a perfect complement, but really, every single thing was perfect in this meal. I don't even know if I dare try to replicate it. Just perfect, on a cool fall evening.

08 October 2008

Larry's Beans Costa Little Ricky

Despite the great selection of Counter Culture coffees now on offer at Weaver Street, I must admit that among local world-class coffee roasteries, it's Larry's Beans that's captured my heart and palette. In addition to always stocking their creamy, buttery espresso, I've been cycling through whatever happens to be on sale. This week, it was their Costa Little Ricky, which out of the French press is one of the best yet. Wonderfully chocolatey and balanced with no acidity, it's just a great smooth brew. Highly recommended.

05 October 2008

Cornbread muffins with blackberries

Stole/borrowed one box of Trader Joe's cornbread mix from my roommate, mostly because i was too lazy to walk to the store and get my own. Followed the instructions, but added 1/3 cup brown sugar and some frozen blackberries, eyeballed at half a cup or 3/4 of a cup, before mixing the dried ingredients with the wet ingredients.

Ate them with a little bit of cream cheese, smiling.

02 October 2008

Lamsbräu Organic Dunkel Premium Bavarian Dark Lager

On high recommendation from my local beer store, I picked up a singleton of the Lambsbräu Dunkel. And as usual, the recommendation was a good one - beautiful nose, smooth, smooth mouthfeel and not too malty (sometimes a problem with the Germans, IMHO). Just a super-solid beer.

30 September 2008

Mad Scientist Kitchen

Warren Ellis relates recipes for garlic mashed sweet potatoes and onion marmalade. His procedure for roasting the garlic:

* Roasting garlic

Pull a good length of tin foil. Fold it in half. Fold the edges together, a half-inch or so, to make a seam. Fold it in half again. Fold a seam along the sides, leaving the top open. See what you’ve made? A tinfoil pocket. A shiny silver scrotum from the future. Now get a garlic, a whole head. Find a knife and slice the very top off, so you can see the tops of the individual cloves inside. Put it in the tinfoil pocket.

Open a bottle of beer. Not fucking Budweiser or Labatts — a proper beer, damnit. During this experiment, I used the outstanding Black Adder ale from Mauldons. A good bitter, an ale, an IPA — a proper fucking beer, you know what I mean. Pour some down your throat. Now pour some in the tinfoil. A mouthful or so. Spit your mouthful out into the pocket if you’d like. I mean, it’d be disgusting, but the person you’re cooking for will never know, right? Close up the pocket, so you now have a sealed tinfoil bag full of a head of garlic and (possibly regurgitated) beer.

Sling it in the oven. Your oven is set to 190 degrees C, which is 375F or Gas mark 5. It’s going to be in there for an hour. Have some more beer. Swallow it this time, you freak.

It continues in a similar vein. Go read.

21 September 2008

Potato-Watercress-Basil Soup

With a bag full of potatoes a few weeks old, and hosting Soup Collective today, there was a fairly obvious course of action: potato soup. I called JD and asked if she had any particular favorites; she found one that wasn't quite what she was thinking, but still sounded pretty good. I modified slightly onnacounta lack of leeks.

  • 6 cups stock (vegetable or chicken)
  • 6 potatoes unpeeled and diced
  • 2 small yellow onions, diced
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, fresh
  • large bunch of spring onions
  • 8 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup watercress, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice or cloves
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 cups milk


  • Combine stock, potatoes, onions and cook over medium heat for 15-20 min. until potatoes begin to soften
  • Dice spring onions; melt butter and sauteé spring onions w/allspice; add 1/2 cup white wine and cook off partially; add watercress and sauteé 5 more minutes; set aside
  • Add basil to potato soup mixture and cook 5 minutes
  • Add spring onions to soup; simmer
  • Stir in milk; do not reboil

14 September 2008

High-Fructose Corn Syrup

Ezra Klein explains the badness:

But that's not the real problem with high fructose corn syrup. The bigger issue, which the industry neither can nor particularly cares to rebut, is that the product exists at all. We pump absurd quantities of cash into subsidizing corn (we also have a huge tariff on Brazilian sugar cane, incidentally). Over the past 10 years alone, Congress has appropriated more than $50 billion to encourage farmers to grow the stuff. But people don't want to eat $50 billion in subsidized corn. And if the cobs just sat around developing mold, Congress would cut off the spigot. Enter high fructose corn syrup, which sucks up the subsidies and created a world in which calories from a sweet, highly caloric additive have become the cheapest of all energy sources. That's the primary way the syrup contributes to obesity: Not by being more fattening, but by being so heavily subsidized that it makes it far cheaper to sustain yourself on sweetened carbohydrates than on nutritious food. That might be fine if the sweetener were naturally cheap, but instead, taxpayers are funding a concerted effort to flood grocery stores with unnaturally cheap, utterly unhealthy, foods.

Nothing more to add, there.

03 September 2008

Lentil Soup

Sick, and without canned soup, I looked through the cupboard and found enough for a lentil soup recipe, modified slightly for lack of other vegetables:


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups dry lentils
  • 8 cups water
  • 1/2 cup spinach, rinsed and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste


  • In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat.
  • Add onions; cook and stir until tender.
  • Stir in garlic, bay leaf, oregano, and basil; cook for 2 minutes.
  • Stir in lentils, and add water and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for at least 1 hour.
  • When ready to serve stir in spinach, and cook until it wilts. Stir in vinegar, and season to taste with salt and pepper, and more vinegar if desired.


  • Success!

27 August 2008

Don Jose Tienda Mexicana

Finding myself on West Rosemary Street and in need of food, I remembered Asher's recommendation of Don Jose's tacos. A good call - after ordering two carnitas at $1.79/per (my general baseline for taco-quality around here), I repaired to the back, and the tables I wasn't aware existed there. Not only tables but big-screen showing Mexican soccer, and bowls of chips (small bowl, encased in saran-wrap). The tacos and salsa arrived, and they were - enormous. Heaping mounds of pico de gallo on top of the carnitas - again, yet another method of preparation different from the taco trucks and other counters - the pork itself perfectly tender but not spiced. No worries - the salsa verde was outstanding, taste itself with just enough spice, and a few drops of the spicier stuff was enough to make $4 for one of the perfect meals.

It's raining still like cats and dogs out there, and we've not even gotten the hurricanoe yet. As I write this, sitting in Milltown with their beer of the month and it's... mead. Black raspberry from Redstone Meadery in Boulder. Good, and curiously satisfying post-taco. Actually neither too sweet nor too fruity, but I do get the distinct impression that a night's drinking of this olde bevvie might induce a hammer-of-Thor level hangover.

29 July 2008

Food Econ 101

This interview of one Paul Roberts is a tad too simple, even for someone who, at some point of his or her college life, may have fallen asleep on an open copy of Mankiw's Principle of Economics, but it still is an interesting read. I think it's because he does say some things that make a lot of sense. So I think I'll add his latest book, The End of Food, to my list of "Books to Check Out of the Library When I'm Done with my MA."


"So we need to ask: How do we make trade more effective and equitable and efficient? I think that there’s a lot of ideology flying around here: Let’s do local, not global; free trade is bad. There’s a lot we have to reverse, but you have to separate the moral argument from the pragmatic argument, and that’s hard to do."


"What I think consumers are really hungry for at this point, if you’ll excuse the pun, is an understanding of the economic forces that are shaping things. If you go into a grocery store, everything that’s there represents a business calculation. I think consumers need to begin to unpack and understand those business decisions: Why is that stuff here? You realize that all these decisions have massive consequences on the flavor and quality of our food, on the health impacts, the safety of the food supply, and, I think in the long term what we’re realizing is, on the sustainability of the food system."

Sound impossible? Mate, we've got to start somewhere and each one could be a bit more responsible, no?

26 July 2008

Sandwich! Salad!

The spinach was getting ready to be totally unmanageable, so - needed to use it. And while some was fine for a salad, some of it was really only fit-to-be-cooked. So - sauteéd spinach of some sort. Which naturally fits very well into a sandwich. So, recipes two parts:

Salad: spinach with KD family salad dressing:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Vinegar (balsamic, cider, white, or mix thereof)
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Garlic (several cloves, freshly smashed)
  • Lemon juice (fresh, if possible)
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
Preferably, this is made by combining all above elements in a large salad bowl, and then tossing the salad in just prior to serving. I already had some in the fridge, so just drizzled over the salad.

Sandwich: prosciutto with mozzarella, sauteéd spinach, red onion and garlic on pane.
  • Heat extra virgin olive oil in pan.
  • Add thinly sliced garlic (not minced) for one minute; add red onion for one additional minute
  • Add spinach; sauteé and coat in oil until reduced (~2 min.)
  • Slice mozzarella thinly on one slice pane; layer prosciutto generously on other slice; toast
  • Layer spinach on top of prosciutto; place mozzarella slice on top of that, and slice.
  • Enjoy!

21 July 2008

Death by Raspberries

Please don't quote me on this, as I am not an agricultural expert, but I think that there are a couple interlinked reasons for the produce to be so tasty in Bosnia-Herzegovina. First, it is a land with a wide network of rivers, and water is plentiful probably even underground. It also rains often, even in the summer, though during that season the sun can still reach the plants. I also suspect that during the war the use of fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals was probably limited, which means the soil is probably less artificially chemically enhanced than it would have been without that terrible war. Even though, as I type this, chemicals are probably increased in just about every corner of most Bosnian gardens. For this is where people grow fruits and vegetables: I haven't been able to travel everywhere in Bosnia, but quite a bit nevertheless, and, apart for farms around Mostar, I haven't seen any extensive piece of land covered in trees or plants obviously destined for human consumption. Part of it is that the land is so hilly, apart for a few valleys, you couldn't have a super-farm as there are in western Europe for example, in France especially (I leave the US Midwest in a league of its own). This means that most of the produce in B-H is grown on a small scale, and while any budding economist would despair at the missed opportunities of economies of scale, what might lack in increased effectiveness is compensated by tastiness. Deliciousness. Real flavour.

All this goodness is best purchased at the Sarajevo market rather than at the (Slovene) Merkator supermarket branches (which I cannot help myself but call Mercosur) and than at the small ubiquitous corner shops. The Sarajevo market is open everyday until 4 or 5 pm, except on Sundays.

Raspberry season was in full swing when I arrived, and through a combination of laziness and ingenuity, I came up with this simple recipe:

Death by Raspberries

  1. Come to Sarajevo in June.

  2. Go to the central market, preferably in the morning, otherwise the fruit sits there all day in the heat.

  3. Buy 1 kilo of raspberries (should cost between 5 and 7 Convertible Mark (KM) on weekdays, a bit more on Saturdays. Do haggle if the price is higher, it is a matter of principle, you shouldn't have to pay more just because you are a foreigner)

  4. Go home, wash your hands, wash the raspberries, let them dry for about 10 min.

  5. Sit on the balcony and eat until you feel your stomach might burst, about half a kilo.

  6. (Optional) Die happy.

14 July 2008

Boozy Nationalism

Yglesias says:
Obviously, like all red-blooded Americans I'm outraged by the idea of a Belgian company with the silly name InBev purchasing our beloved Budweiser. Still, wouldn't it be kind of great if the Belgians started turning Budweiser into something more like the, um, vastly superior product they have in Belgium? Just saying. Relatedly, wouldn't it kind of suck to be Claire McCaskill and duty-bound to endorse absurd claims about the quality of mass market American beer?

I will not go so far as to plant my tongue in cheek: this is Good. I can think of absolutely no potential downsides to this transaction, up to and including the (highly unlikely) prospect of Budweiser and all related products being discontinued immediately and replaced in distribution with Leffe (or indeed any of InBev's other lagers).

And, yes - it'd be much nicer (for many reasons) to be a Senator from, say, Oregon or Washington and be able to promote with a straight face both the dramatic superiority of your state's product (made from local hops!) and the thoroughly American (self-starting small businessmen! great products!) nature of the micro-brew movement generally.

12 July 2008

Somerville Cheladão

I found myself in Trader Joe's last night, picking up the usual variety of cheeses, veggie patties and deodorant, and noticed a bright-green Portuguese beer, Sagres Chopp selling for $5/6-pack. Why not? Wiki sez of the beer -

Chopp (4.9% ABV), a "Brazilian style" light lager, similar to Branca but with jazzier advertising. Launched in 2006, it has a lemony taste.

...and, given that Boston has a substantial Portuguese and Brazilian community, this makes sense. It being a lovely warm-not-hot Saturday afternoon, I decided I needed not just a beer but a beer drink and remembered my chelada. But no clam or tomato juice in the house, sadly. So, looking over some recipes, I improvised and thus the Somerville Cheladão:

  • In imperial pint glass, coat rim with salt
  • Add liberal dashes of hot sauce (I used Goya picante), a few dashes soy sauce, lime juice. Mix.
  • Add several ice cubes
  • Pour Sagres Chopp (or, really, any light lager, but this worked nicely) slowly
  • Gozar a sua cerveja!

01 July 2008

Blatant self-promotion

Milan was in Ljubljana a few weeks back and found this bottle of wine. Of course I knew that there were Germans all over Central and Eastern Europe, but I had assumed that most had been 'relocated' after the Second World War (payback's a bitch, das ist sicher). Anyhow, Sturm is a very common name, and I have no relation that I know of with the people who may be producing this (some Slovene may just have kept the name). The wine was a Muskat a bit syrupy, very sweet, and to be chilled for a good while before consumption. I wish I could say it was really good, but it was so-so only.

Brussels Sprouts and Macadamia Nuts

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, base and outer leaves trimmed, and halved
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts
  • 1 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano

  • Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil and add the Brussels sprouts. Cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain.
  • In a large saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat.
  • Add the onion and garlic, and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add the sprouts in 1 layer and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan.
  • Add the remaining tablespoon of butter and when melted, add the macadamia nuts and cook, stirring, until golden and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the lemon juice, salt, pepper, and sprouts, and stir well to coat and warm through.
  • Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the Pecorino Romano. Serve immediately.

14 June 2008

Boston Beer Roundup

North Carolina has, as I've mentioned, a surprising and growing microbrew community. But as I'm in Somerville, MA for the summer it's worth giving the necessary shout-out to Boston as certainly one of the original homes of the microbrew movement - there was a time, yes, when Sam Adams had indie cred.

There is no lack of excellent options here, now, from Boston proper but also from Portsmouth, Portland Maine-not-Oregon, and assorted other New England hamlets. A short review follows.

  • Harpoon IPA. At this point, perhaps the iconic Boston good-beer - on tap pretty much everywhere, often brought to BBQs, and an exceedingly solid choice. It doesn't have the lovely stanky hoppiness of, e.g., Green Flash IPA (indeed the Eastern IPAs generally shy away from that, in contrast to CO, CA, WA and OR), but it retains a solid bitter character, is not overly malty and is eminently drinkable. Good standby.
  • Cisco's Whale Tail Pale Ale. Sweeter and maltier - not an IPA - but still a good balance of hoppiness. Not an all-night beer but nice early in the evening.
  • Shipyard IPA. Just superb. Crisp, hoppy, refreshing, bitter, and balanced. Very little malt but again, not West-Coast-hoppy. At $7.25 at my corner store, this will be a reliable choice through the summer.
  • Geary's Summer Ale. As with all Geary's, it's good-not-great. Nothing distinctive but just nice and drinkable.
  • Magic Hat Circus Boy. A nice hefeweizen, if unremarkable save a crispness sometimes lacking in hefes. Magic Hat, generally, is nice-but-overrated, for my beer $.

13 June 2008


I would like to strongly associate myself with Andrew Leonard's thoughts on the bid by InBev for Anheuser-Busch:

I know these are dangerous waters in which to tread, and that I will soon be pilloried as a coastal elitist beer snob, but I must be true to my own deeply held beliefs. Anheuser-Busch, the controller of half the U.S. beer market, symbolizes everything that is wrong with America. With special emphasis on the foul stain upon the brewer's tradition that goes by the name Bud Light. Great-tasting? Have we all gone mad?

For true beer-lovers across the world, Budweiser is a joke. It's embarrassing. Since when does America mean watered-down pablum, forced down the throats of an unthinking populace by sheer power of mass-marketing muscle? Since when does America stand for homogenized, lowest-common-denominator swill? Michelob? Busch? These are not the names of American patriots -- these are signposts of the triumph of a particular strain of capitalism in which true identity and taste are sacrificed in the service of gaining greater market share.

If we're looking for real American icons that represent the grandest traditions of our Founding Fathers, who threw off foreign rule so they could stand independent and seek their own destiny, we have to search elsewhere than in the realm of giant conglomerates with humongous Super Bowl advertising budgets. I'm talking home brewers, microbreweries, and those brave, privately owned breweries that have yet to sell out to the false dream of "going public" -- and all the betrayal of brewer freedom that such slavery to the market implies.

Amen. I'll also note that civilization didn't end when the vastly superior SAB acquired Miller a few years back [but, come on guys, can we please get some Castle stateside? please?].

12 June 2008

Gardening your own food = sport of the future?

Of course!

Here's the link to the NYT article. Frankly, there is one sentence in the article that bugs me, along the lines of seed and gardening stores 'who didn't see the soaring demand coming'. Really? Is that true? Food prices go up, and people--people in the vegetable seed business-- are surprised that consumers are turning to more reasonably priced sources of food?

Come on, people, grow some imagination! It's pretty obvious that considering the state of our food and the prices of it, we will have to turn to some self-reliance, which does not mean just a return to simplicity, or a step backwards in evolution. It's adaptation.

11 June 2008

Spicy Collard Greens

Ingredients (multiply based on quantity):
Bunch of collard greens
Jalapeño pepper
Soy sauce
1/2 onion
Water or light beer

  • Roast jalapeño pepper on cast-iron pan, turning periodically to blacken entire skin. When complete, place in paper bag for 15 min.
  • Chop onion coarsely, and set aside; do same with ginger, chopping finely
  • Wash collard greens, and break into stem and leaf sections. Rip leaf sections smaller, and chop stems in half; separate.
  • Peel jalapeño pepper, and chop
  • In large-enough pan or saucepot, heat oil on medium-high. Add onions, ginger and jalapeño pepper to pan, and sauteé until onions become translucent.
  • Add collard green stems and mix with contents of pan; add portion of water or beer and soy sauce, and cover for a few minutes.
  • When stems have become bright green, add leaves, mixing thoroughly to wilt. When leaves are bright green and wilted, remove from heat.
  • Enjoy!

06 June 2008

Friday Afternoon

Time for a Manhattan:
2 oz. Phillips Union whiskey
1/2 oz. sweet vermouth
several liberal dashes Angostura bitters

03 June 2008

A Cruel Sad Joke

I love organic markets - good attitude, nice atmosphere, friendly people, etc. But I was looking for tortillas yesterday - eventually I found some passable facsimiles at Shaw's, for apparently there're no bodegas in the Cambridge-Somerville area - and found only the above on offer. Flax, oat bran and wheat flour: all acceptable ingredients. Not suitable for tortilla production. And again, I say this as someone who lived (happily!) the last two years in a vegetarian co-op, but - stuff like this makes me understand why Anthony Bourdain hates hippies.

12 May 2008

Oats and Beans and Barley Grow (Hops, not so much)

This article in Wired picks up on something I've noticed recently - the reaction of brewers to the worldwide hop shortage and skyrocketing hop prices. Most of the new beers I've had and reviewed here in the last few months have been maltier, less-hoppy beers (the Hopfen-Weisse an exception, but that's a special case, in production for two years previous), and most of the "seasonal" and specialty beers I've seen recently - from everyone from Trader Joe's to Carolina Brewery to Bell's - have been the same. Now - I love me a Double IPA or a bitter, but as a fan of local and situational cuisine, I don't find this altogether unsettling. Excellent new beers will be produced out of adversity, more hops planted in more places to stabilize supply-routes, and in the end - this is a difficult situation because of the success of good beers. Good beers will out.

07 May 2008

Schneider & Brooklyner Hopfen Weisse

The German product of the Brooklyn Brewery-Schneider-Weisse collaboration, this Hopfen Weisse packs a punch both with a very full flavor and deeper golden color than most hefes, and clocks in at 8.2%ABV. But it's not syrupy or overly alcohol-tasting, the banana flavor is not cloying and it is overall simply a superb late-afternoon summer beer. Highly recommended.

27 April 2008

The Spice That Wasn't There

I made an absolutely beautiful spicy potato curry tonight - soft, well-cooked potatoes, bright red cherry tomatoes in a lovely tumeric-infused yellow. A lovely afterburn, coming from the roasted serrano and two roasted jalapeños. But... it wasn't that good. Fine. But it was missing something - mostly I think I just didn't put enough spices in as I added the potatoes and more milk to simmer. A minor disappointment, given how lovely it looked and how nice it smelled whilst cooking, but - a learning experience, non?

26 April 2008

Okocim Porter

Dark, thick and sweet with lactic sugars. Not saccharine, and not too alcohol-tasting. Not bad. Polish.

13 April 2008

Bonne Soireé

V. won her NCAA pool, so it was time for a really nice dinner out. Our first thought was of course Lantern - always a good bet for "pricier meal than normal." Calling ahead we were assured that arriving after 8 o'clock would result in a minimal wait. The word at the door, of course, was 1.5-1.75 hrs.' wait. So. Around the corner we went to Bonne Soireé, which I'd only heard good things about, and... well, simply no offense meant to Lantern, but this experience placed it on the "good for Chapel Hill" list, and Bonne Soireé solidly on the "best meals I've ever had" list.

To begin with, and most impressively - after placing our orders and asking for a recommendation on wine, we settled on our server's first choice, the Sono Montenidoli Vernaccia di Carato 2003. I hesitate not for a second in saying that this was the best white wine I've ever had: not too sweet, or tart, or dry, or sulfuric - notes of fruit and anis and an unparalleled (in my experience) depth of body for a white. Simply astounding, and paired perfectly with our meals. Which were:

asparagus with cream sauce - the first crop of the year, tender, tasty, and very much of the "asparagus I could eat forever" school.
Rockfish with roasted root vegetables, yam, and red wine reduction - a perfectly done piece of fish, tender, flavorful, and complemented beautifully by the sweet, savory, rich-but-not-overpowering vegetables.
creme bruleé - perfect. Creme bruleé is a test of any great restaurant, and this passed with flying colors.

V -
mixed green salad - with candied walnuts, pears, bleu cheese, onions and a vinegarette - the walnuts balanced out the cheese well, onions not overpowering, dressing just enough.
scallops - and now I'm forgetting what else was with them, but they were excellent. Tender, not rubbery at all.
creme bruleé - see above.

Just exemplary, and the service was unpretentious and among the best I've ever had. Not cheap to be sure, but unbeatable enough on so many levels that I can guarantee multiple return trips when the wallet allows.

31 March 2008

Chicken liver souvlaki

Lately we've heard quite a bit about Serbia (and the newly independent Kosovo), and while there are quite a few interesting things to write about it on political terms, that's for another blog altogether... Here, I'll focus on the the food, the drink, the parties. Let's go to the photos. Exhibit A:
I don't remember where this one was taken, but if you drop me off near the parliament in Belgrade, I'm sure I'll find it. I ordered what seemed to be a simple dish, but did not expect the Serbian proportions: no less than 10 chicken livers, each wrapped in bacon, cooked on skewers, with a balsamic sauce. Fear not, the livers had their accompaniment of vegetables, not the side salad I eventually ordered, but the little bowl of chopped fresh onion, naked, no sauce. Garanteed to make anyone the popular guy/gal on the dance floor afterwards. The truth actually is that the onion was pretty tame compared to the appetizer of roasted garlic to go with the cornbread muffins (easily top 3 cornbread I've ever eaten--but i have to admit i've never been to southern USA).

25 March 2008

Einbecker Ur-Bock

I've noted before that all in all, I sometimes tend to shy away from German beers. Not that they're bad at all, I just prefer the crispness and hoppiness and bitterness of, e.g., ESBs and IPAs. That being said, Einbecker Ur-Bock (currently on draught at Milltown) is a lovely beer - sweet-but-not-too, more hops than many, and very nicely malty. A good bockbier - apparently Rogue Dead Guy was based on this.

25 February 2008

Bell's Consecrator Doppelbock

Another day, another exciting new release from Bell's, this time the Consecrator Doppelbock. Keeping with the general pattern from Bell's in their non-stout (and non-Sparkling Ale)(well, and Two-Hearted Ale)(okay, also Oberon) offerings, the Doppelbock is very-good-not-quite-great. It's not really fair comparing their non-stout offerings to their world-class stout line, but there's the rub.

Which is to say: the Doppelbock is a very good beer. Good balance, tremendous mouthfeel, nice and malty. Neither too bitter nor too sweet, it is an excellent beer to pair with hearty foods.

24 February 2008

Poblano Peppers and Mushrooms

An altogether successful experiment, this dish was just good enough that it left open the tantalizing possibility of perhaps being great with a little tweaking.

  • three poblano peppers
  • two packages/hefty number of white mushrooms
  • garlic
  • two serrano peppers
  • slice poblanos lengthwise; mushrooms across; garlic lengthwise; and chop serranos very finely
  • heat oil to medium in a pan; add garic and serranos, cook for a minute or two
  • add poblanos and sauteé until softening
  • add additional oil; wait one minute until heated, then add mushrooms
  • sauteé until mushrooms are cooked
Very good already, but what's missing here? Some wine? Something else?

UPDATE: maybe orange juice?

Taco of Opportunity

Saturday brought physical labor, and so Saturday lunch necessitated high-protein refueling. Result - the Taco of Opportunity.

  • spicy pork sausage
  • kale
  • garlic
  • beer
  • flour tortilla
  • spicy German yellow mustard
  • Sauteé pork sausage in pan on high heat; when lightly browned on both sides, add beer to pan and cook until beer is half boiled off; remove sausage
  • Sauteé garlic and kale (with stems intact) in pan until half-wilted; after removing sausage from other pan, move kale to sausage pan and finish in beer/sausage juices
  • Warm tortilla. When warmed, slather with mustard, followed by a layer of kale, and then sliced pieces of sausage.
  • Enjoy!

27 January 2008

Lifeblogging Food Bits

Warren Ellis has an excellent post on/example of lifestreaming. I deal with the geekier aspects of it over here, but contained in the post are also some excellent foodie resources:

Right now, I’m eating jerky and drinking a cup of coffee. Neither of these came from objects with a net presence, of course. I have to photograph them, curse the really fucking cranky camera in my phone, and upload them. What’s the information? What is the context?

If my camera wasn’t playing silly buggers, you’d doubtless be able to make out that the jerky comes from the excellent Martin’s Jerked Meat. You can’t find the Lewis & Clark Expedition 1804 jerky on the site, they don’t make it any more — I bought the last of it a few months back at Cressing Temple. They made it according to a recipe actually employed on that expedition — one of Martin’s specialties is “historical” jerky.

What do you divine from this? Other than that perhaps I earn too much money? Well, even in the crappy picture you can see the coffee is El Paraiso Lot 20, a first-harvest ground coffee sold by Fortnum & Mason.

...in the summers I start saving money, to make Xmas a bit of a production for them. I get a goose ordered in from David Harrison, Lili gets to pick a tree from the Hawkwell Tree Farm (unless she decides she’d derive more amusement from watching us try to assemble the stupid, massive, electrocution-risk artificial tree we got given a few years back), I get a crate of champagne and some edible gold and silver leaf to sprinkle in it… and I order a hamper and a fruit basket from Fortnum & Mason to be delivered on Xmas Eve. And that can of coffee was in the hamper this past Xmas.

And the jerky? Lili has always loved doing the country fairs, and Cressing Temple hosts the Essex Food Fair twice a year. Martin’s Jerked Meat were exhibiting there. Lili had never tried jerky before — that’s why she loves these things, she gets to try new stuff and have a go at local arts & crafts, plus there are usually horses and she’s been riding since she was two and so is besotted with the shit-deploying bastards. We came away with six bags of jerky varieties, plus some fruit leathers.

(Fruit leathers she knew, since we once attended a banquet consisting entirely of medieval foods, as orchestrated by the marvellous Stuart Peachey. I hugely recommend his books, for those with an interest, on Tudor- and Stuart-period food. Apparently we couldn’t leave without lots of fruit leather too.)

Jerky! Fruit leathers! Christmas geese!

21 January 2008

Hot Slavic

From the Real Paul Jones, Borscht Mexicali:

I took borscht the famous beet and cabbage cream soup South of the Border with some good results. The sweetness of the beets, the heat of the serraño peppers, a slight tang of lime and some chorizo made for a lovely fuschia colored soup which I accented with blue corn tortilla chips. Yummmm.

I started with a “Mexican Beet and Cabbage soup” from Epicurious and subbed serraño for jalapeño. Added some Mexican chorizo (before and after the blending as some in my family like to taste a chunk or two of meat now and then even in soups). To keep with the winter vegetable feel, I also added a few carrots. Some borscht recipes call for parsnips, potatoes, and vinegar. I passed on all of that.

That does sounds pretty good.