Archived entries for food

And low the maw of heaven open, and the hot rains became sweet. The skin of holy men turned to fondant and sloughed off, to be licked at by mongrel dogs. Men beat their chests and women tore at their hair, weeping rivulets of liquid chocolate.

The children did not know if they should cry or cheer in gluttonous jubilation.

Somewhere in the distance, a white-whiskered prophet whispered, “It is as foretold, the sugary elder god has arrived…”

“Behold Diabeetus! And weep at the doom of icing come to your world!”

(That really is some kind of Lovecraftian vagina-dentata made entirely out of cake frosting)

I won’t even attempt to explain the long, complex string of missteps that led to where I’m sitting right now, staring into the face of one of the most foul things that has ever (and hopefully WILL ever) cross my lips. Suffices to say that I love a bad idea and as soon as I heard that someone that I knew personally had decided to infuse a pint of Beefeater with a link of spicy Mexican sausage, I was there. And as soon as I recovered from the experience of actually tasting the stuff (which took several minutes, to be sure), I knew I had to share it with the world. My friend Richie’s dark genius must be made known to you all. I am but the humble messenger. If you ever end up actually trying this stuff, please don’t shoot me. Remember: I Warned You.

Chorizo Gin.

What in the unholy fuck.

Go read it. You’ll laugh, a lot.

What happens when you invite people over to a pizza party, giving them the simple, but vague direction of “bring some toppings”?

Pure awesome, that’s what.

PS: Avocado on a pizza is better than it has any right to be. It is like plant foie gras. So good.

Posted via email from brainreleasevalve’s posterous

Memphis. I love you, you know I do. I love your foibles and your charms and I take the bad with the good.

But, I’ve gotten a bit bored with your ability to deliver raw fish wrapped in seaweed to my table. There is a shortage of quality sushi in this town.

Partially because a lower income town several hundred miles from the coast can’t really support a top of the line sushi bar, and partially because everyone has just gotten used to the Jimmy Ishii-style of copy/paste sushi. And by that I mean Ishii dominates the Memphis sushi scene, but in doing so, pulls in every other sushi place into his wake. Ishii deserves his credit, though, he wanted to bring good sushi to a larger Memphis audience, and did so with great success.

But, my god, every place makes the same shit because of it. Even places like Blue Fin end up just cribbing stuff from his menu to make the fussy Memphis eaters happy. Do is probably the most free of his influence, but their menu is far too limited to really be considered a competitor in the sushi field.

In this environment, who would’ve thought that the the most original sushi place in Memphis would share a block with a porn store/strip joint, the best Chinese market in town, and a crumbling movie theatre, all in a mostly Hispanic neighborhood. Not me. But I love being proved wrong.

I am, of course, talking about Ryu Sushi at the corner of Summer and White Station.

As the waitress described it to us their sushi combinations were the result of “The chefs hanging out after hours, putting stuff together.” If they came across something they liked, it went up as a special. If people liked it, it went on the menu. Which leads to things like spicy fried tofu rolls, seared steak and avocado rolls, spicy bits of delicious on fried rice wafer things, and this absolutely mind blowing combination of sweet and spicy sauce, tuna, cilantro and avocado. And the best part? You’re not paying out the ass for original, quality sushi. Two people cleared out, very full, for around $60.

Ryu Sushi impressed the crap out of me. It made me honestly excited about Memphis sushi for the first time in years. I think you all should go find out why.

*click for big

My lunch, grits with two kinds of mushrooms from the just-opened Grace in Cooper-Young.

Food was excellent, but the servers need to pick up their game. We waited a half hour after food was delivered for our waiter to come back. I would have loved dessert, but there was no time.

I’m also worried about the portion size. What I had for lunch is the appetizer at dinner. I’d be fine with it as an appetizer or small plate before an entree, but as a whole meal, that’s asking a lot.

Still, it is still a soft opening, and none of this has put me off having dinner there as soon as I can.

Iceland is in the shitter, big time. The country is on a $2.1 billion dollar economic life support loan from the IMF after the three largest banks in Iceland racked up debt work approximately ten times the size of the country’s yearly economy.

Side-note: For a while the Land Rover was the most popular car in Iceland. Nearly all of them being bought on insane loans that should never have been given out in the first fucking place. During the economic collapse, people took to setting them on fire in hopes of recouping some kind of insurance money to put toward the debt. It was said you could hear a few of them blowing up every night in Reykjavík

Side-side-note: This may be shit for the companies involved, but it is great for their air quality, which was among the worst in the world.

And what happens when everyone is broke? Businesses suffer, sometimes even the most unlikely ones.

McDonald’s Closes in Iceland After Krona Collapse

Oct. 26 (Bloomberg) — Iceland’s McDonald’s Corp. restaurants will be closed at the end of the month after the collapse of the krona eroded profits at the fast-food chain, McDonald’s franchise holder Lyst ehf said.

McDonald’s in Iceland, which imports most of the ingredients it uses in its meals, will shut after costs doubled over the past year, Lyst said in an e-mailed statement today. The franchise holder said it doesn’t expect the situation to change in the short term.

“We would have to raise our prices by 20 percent to get the margin needed on our products,” Magnus Ogmundsson, Lyst chief executive officer, said in a phone interview. “That would have sent a Big Mac to 780 kronur” ($6.36), compared with the 650 kronur it costs today, he said.

I view McDonald’s like I view Walmarts and Starbucks. There are so many of them that they can open up right across the street from each other and still maintain a profit because there are just so damn many of them. The strong locations support the weak locations. But, I guess having to import all of your frozen, hormone-injected beef and mechanically separated chicken nuggets to a half-frozen/half-boiling island country on the edge of the Acrtic can get a little costly.

Cold irony of this? I’m willing to bet even if they went to the 6.36 for a Big Mac, the Icelanders would still be playing less than a jackhole who’s forced to eat at one of those hellish fast-food pitstops on the New Jersey Turnpike. Those fuckers are committing highway robbery every day, and they do it with meth-whitened smile.

I’m all about countries having their native dishes, and those dishes being a bit…unique. One of those batshit Scandinavian counties has rotten fish as a national dish, and another has half a boiled goat’s head. Those aren’t the first things that I’m going to be reaching for at the international buffet, but whatever, its traditional food from a place that didn’t have a whole lot of options when it came to food. But, there are always exceptions to every rule, especially when the food dates back less than half a century.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the gastronomical abomination from Canada, our neighbor to the north – poutine.

poutine

Let’s just take a look at what we have there. First up, pomme frites, then cheese curds from some flavorless white cheese, and all of that is topped off with – and God help me I wish I was making this up – “brown” gravy. That’s right, there isn’t a specific name or any other descriptor attached to this. It is just “brown”. In much the same way blue has become a flavor in the US, brown is a flavor north of the border.

Can you just imagine that? Oh, excuse me, can you pass the brown? My poutine is a little bit light on the brown. Wow, this brown tastes amazing.  Gggghhhhhyyyeeecccchhhh. My skin crawls just thinking about it.

And then you’ve got the cheese curds, which are akin to that bland string cheese stuff, only, you know…squishy. Sort of like chewing on cheese silly putty. But, that’s fine since it melts into this stringy consistency! Unless, of course, it isn’t prepared correctly or God forbid, you let the fucking thing cool down enough so the cheese re-solidifies after the frites have gone soft from the “brown”.

When that happens, you end up with something like this:

second_curd_layer

Canada, I’ve never really had a problem with you. Sometimes decent things come out of you, and you seem to have your head on straight when it comes to drug policy and healthcare. But this is really something unconscionable. I mean, yes, we might be killing brown people for sport, but you fuckers make poutine and that is truly unforgivable. Hell, this stuff is like something you’d find in a cookbook from the early 60s. Modern cooking killed those bloated, inoffensive dishes like a back alley doctor kills teenage pregnancies with a rusty coat-hanger. But no, you’ve got to be some crazed baby woman that dresses up her aborted fetus in baby clothes and carries it around talking about how its going to go to college one day and marry such a pretty girl. Frankly its just a bit sad.

This weekend I planned on making feijoada for our regular potluck. Feijoada (pronounced like drunk would say “fish water”) is a Brazilian peasant dish made up of all the left over bits from a pig stuck into a pot of black beans and spices, then boiled for half a day. It comes out looking like black pitch tar with unidentifiable bits of meat floating in it. I love it. But, one of the key ingredients of feijoada is salted meat – both beef and pork. The cured meat is soaked in water and used as a base for the rest of the soup, and it isn’t the most common of ingredients. People have shifted toward pre-fab food, and it is becoming increasingly hard to find the building block ingredients for dishes like this. But, that’s another matter entirely.

My quest for salted meat sent me back and forth across the city. Out east to the suburbs, down south into the poor Latin neighborhoods, up north into the burned out ghettos, all the while looking for a bit of what I was jokingly referring to as “super bacon”. While bouncing around, I started to notice a trend: Hispanic grocery stores were closing. Ones that I’d known for years were gone, others that were supposed to be there weren’t, hell even restaurants that I’d noticed were being boarded over at an alarming rate. Unless you were a shitty Tex-Mex place that foists watered down margaritas on milk-eyed house wives or a culinary keystone like La Guadalapana or Las Tortugas, your prognosis wasn’t good.

By the time I’d formulated the question of why, I’d already had my answer. The economy’s gone to shit, baseline construction and manual labor jobs have vanished as credit lines snapped and building contracts frozen. With no way to pay for themselves, large numbers of Hispanics have gone home, both legals and illegals. They’ve taken with them the support structure for the service business they patronized. Grocery stores, restaurants, and the like have found themselves without a clientele. Which means that I’ve found myself without access to some of my favorite food.

This got me thinking beyond the financial cost of the recession, to the cultural cost of it. America is browning like a perfectly marbled slab of beef in frying pan. Give it a little bit more time, and it’ll be brown all the way through. Hispanics are taking over the nation, by mid-century, they’ll be the majority. Which I’m fine with. More than fine with. I love the food, the culture and the people. I can’t wait for the days when burger joints are replaced by tortas stands. But, because of the economic collapse, looks like I’ll be waiting a bit longer.

It just gives me another reason to look forward to things going back to normal.

(PS: I found the salt pork at the Kroger in Poplar Plaza, never did find any salt beer, though.)

This time around he’s got roasted, salted duck eggs from the local international market. Here’s all you really need to know about how insane this man is:

oh. oh man. oh that is bad. oh dear god that is just nasty and awful. it’s so… salty. and gamey. and… it’s not rotten, it’s definitely not rancid or anything, i mean it’s definitely preserved, but fucking jesus shit ass hell that tastes really bad.

Video Snapshot 3

Read the rest of it here. He starts adding hot sauce later on. Results are mixed.

For centuries, a rite of passage for French gourmets has been the eating of the Ortolan. These tiny birds—captured alive, force-fed, then drowned in Armagnac—were roasted whole and eaten that way, bones and all, while the diner draped his head with a linen napkin to preserve the precious aromas and, some believe, to hide from God.

My Sunday night potluck group has started a food-oriented group blog to collect all of the various recipes of the things that we make for the potluck. Most of what you’ll find from me there will already have been posted here. But, if you like those posts and want more, check it out.

The Horn of Plenty

A few days ago I was wondering through the Viet-Hoa looking at the assorted carnage of their meat counter, wondering what gastronomic challenge I wanted to conquere next. And then I saw it. Half of a catfish; the head removed, guts gone, skin pulled off and fins sliced away. About 4lbs and a foot and a half long. Sticker price? $4.59. Fuck, I was sold. I had no idea what the hell I was going to do with it, but I was sold.

Into the freezer it went, which is the best bet for fish if you don’t know what you’re going to do with them right away. Fish degrade incredibly fast above freezing, and most firm-fleshed fish can take a freezing without much loss of taste. Which is why I can pull out sauger that was caught in the 90s from my Dad’s freezer and have it taste fresh.

I thawed it out the day I cooked it, soaking it in warm water to make sure there wasn’t any ice left in it before I tried to filet it. Most of the prep work was already done on the fish, but I still had to perform surgery on it. I needed to remove the meat from the bones. Well, fish don’t really have bones, but little pieces of cartilage that will slip through even an experience cook’s hand if they aren’t careful.

The way to filet a fish like that was to place the fish on its side and run a very sharp knife along the side of the spine that is facing up. Slide the knife down to the tail, keeping parallel to the spine and slicing as you go. Keep repeating this motion, working your way down toward the belly side of the fish. There is a line of bones that come down from the spine. If you feel the knife start to bite into something that gives more resistance than fish meat, stop and adjust your angle, you’re hitting cartilage. Work the knife to the bottom of the fish, and off the fillet comes. Check it for bones with your fingers, and then repeat with the other side of the fish. There you go, two beautiful catfish fillets.

Heat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, and put the fillets in a baking dish. Melt a stick of butter and pour it over the fish, turning them once to make sure the butter has coated the fish.

And now the fun part – the alchemy.

There are no set ratios for the proper blackening mix. Just a list of spices you mix and match to your preference:

-Oregano
-Thyme
-Paprika
-Black Pepper
-Garlic Powder
-Chili Powder
-Cayenne Pepper

Mix them up and you want, and then toss them over the catfish. The method I used was to just apply the spice directly to the fish, then dredge a fork through butter and over the fillets, mixing the spices. The end result should look like black sludge and smell like a spicy heart attack. Chop a lemon in half and squirt both halves out over the fish.

That goes into the oven for about 20-25 minutes. Pull it out half way and squirt another whole lemon over the fish, then put it back in. You’ll know the fish is done because the meat flakes easily with a fork.

You’re going to want a starch and green side to go with this. I picked up a black beans and rice mix for the starch side. The Mahatma brand black beans and rice mix, to be exact. Because, once again, I am the culturally insensitive white male and I feel the need to pick the food product with the stereotype caricature mascot. The best part about this stuff is that the seasoning goes perfectly with the blackened spices on the fish, and it takes the exact same amount of time to prepare as the fish.

For the green side, I went with broccoli sauteed in garlic and red pepper flakes. Cut up two heads of broccoli, removing the stems and breaking the broccoli up into small bunches. Steam them, and then once they get just tender enough to eat, pull them off the steamer and run them under cold water. This will blanch the broccoli and stop the cooking process from the steam. Once the broccoli has cooled off, put a skillet with some olive oil on the stove over a medium heat. Crush up a three or four garlic cloves and throw it into the oil. Add a few strong shakes of red pepper flakes to the mix and let it simmer in the oil until the flavors release. Take care not to burn either the garlic or the flakes. After a minute or so, add the broccoli. Stir it around to coat it in the oil mixture. Turn the heat down a bit and squirt a whole lemon’s juice over it. Toss it for another minute or so, then cover the whole thing and turn the heat off. Leave it until you are ready to serve.

I know I’m supposed to have some sort of concluding thought, but all I can tell you right now is how much I want to go home and eat my leftovers from last night. We’ll see if the fish holds up in the pale light of the next day.

I’m betting so.

This is what I served on election night, and it is wonderfully simple. Plus, like all chilis, this gets better the more it cooks down.

What you need:

  • Big fuck-off pot.
  • Vegetable oil
  • Giant onion, red or white. Red will give the chili a slightly sweeter flavor.
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 15 ounce can of pinto beans
  • 15 ounce can of black beans
  • 15 ounce can of kidney beans
  • 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cilantro to garnish

The Process
Put your big fuck-off pot on the stove, and pour some oil in the bottom of it. Turn the heat up to medium and let the oil warm up. You don’t want it too hot, at least not yet.

Dice up the whole onion, the finer the better. You don’t really want onion texture, but you want the liquid and the sweetness of the onion, which really comes out when you dice it finely. Throw that into the pot, stirring it around so it doesn’t stick.

Crush and mince up the garlic clove, then toss it in with the onion. Be careful not to burn either the garlic or the onion. You’re shooting for translucence in the onion and a strong smell from the garlic.

At this point throw in everything else. Open up the beans, drain out the liquid and toss them in. Tomatoes in after that. Water in after that. Then the spices. Stir it all up until everything is a uniform color. Turn the heat up to about three fourths of maximum, cover, and crack a beer.

The chili needs to simmer for at least an hour, preferably at least 2. While this is going on make some corn bread. The chili really needs a base to sit on, and corn bread is perfectly. I use Aunt Jemima corn bread mix because I am a culturally insensitive white male. Oh, and because it is simple to prepare and tastes like I want it to.

A note about the corn bread, do yourself a favor and throw in some chili powder into the mix. You won’t notice it straight out, but it makes a difference as a base for the chili.

At this point, you’ve got a pot of bubbling chili and a pan of golden corn bread. Cut out some corn bread and put it in a bowl. Ladle some chili out over the bread then snip some cilantro for a garnish. Enjoy.

If you’re looking for more of a kick with the chili, bump up the spice amounts. If you’re looking for something non-vegetarian, throw in a pound or so of ground beef or turkey when you’re sauteing the onions and garlic. Let it brown and then add in the rest of the ingredients.

And the best part? After the initial out-lay of money for the spices, a pot of this stuff (about 1.5 – 2 gallons with this recipe) will run you less than $10.

Several pounds of fresh catfish. Needless to say, I am a mite intimidated.

photo.jpg

Since people have started asking me for recipes to what I make, I’m going to start occasionally putting them up here. I’ll start with the white lasagna from last night.

What You Need

  • Lasagna noodles
  • 3 packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 cans of artichokes hearts, chopped
  • 1 tub of white button mushrooms (you can use portabello if you want an earthier taste), chopped
  • 1lb of ricotta cheese
  • 1lb of shredded mozzarella
  • 1 jar of alfredo sauce
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt, pepper (I also add some red pepper flakes to give it a kick.
  • Lasagna pan
  • 1 gallon pot
  • Big mixing bowl
  • Large skillet
  • Aluminum foil

The Process
Start your water boiling for the noodles. This will probably take you longer than anything else. Keep in mind that you don’t want your noodles completely cooked, err on the tough side. They are going to be baking in the lasagna, surrounded by boiling lasagna juices for a good 40-50 minutes. Any toughness left in them will cook out during that time.

While your water is warming up, mix together the ricotta, half the mozzarella, the alfredo sauce, and the two eggs in a giant bowl. Mix in your salt and pepper at this point, plus any other spices you want. A warning – don’t use a bowl that is just big enough for what you’re putting into it now. All of the vegetables are going into this, and the mixture is going to at least triple in volume, so you’ll want something much bigger.

Warm up a large skillet on the range and put some olive oil in it. After a minute throw in the onion and the garlic. Keep them moving so none of it burns. Once the onion has gone soft on you, add the artichokes and the mushrooms. Stir this for a few more minutes until the mushrooms are cooked. Toss this and the thawed spinach into the cheese mixture. Stir it all up until it looks like the best damn spinach dip you’ve ever seen.

Put down a layer of the mixture, then cover that in noodles. Repeat until you fill up the whole pan, leaving just enough room for one last layer of the mixture. Cover that final layer with the rest of the mozzarella. Cover the whole thing in aluminum foil.

Place it in an oven heated to 400 degrees. Let it cook for 30 minutes. After that, take the aluminum foil off and let it cook until the top is golden brown and the liquid on the top is 90% gone. The center should still be a little gooey when you take it out, but that’s fine.

Take it out of the oven and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Or, if you’re just making this for yourself, throw it in the fridge and eat it the next day. It is much better once the cheeses have had a chance to re-solidify.

Enjoy.

Oh, this makes a lot of lasagna. You might need one big lasagna pan and another smaller one to hold it all.



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