Sunday, November 23, 2008

Hooked on queso

In my pre-Spork days, I didn't care for queso. I know, I know! What was wrong with me? I have no reasonable explanation to offer. I just didn't like it. I didn't eat fries or potato chips back then, either. Fortunately, Spork helped me to see the light. Unfortunately, I seem to be making up for all those lost calories now by regularly indulging in all my newfound favorite foods.

We had a light frost yesterday morning, causing my pepper plants to shrivel up and die, so it was time to use up the last of the peppers. My entire veggie drawer is now full of poblanos, New Mexican chiles, sweet Italian peppers, pimientos and a new variety I tried this year, Holy Mole. I couldn't fit the 4 pounds or so of jalapenos and serranos in, so I'll be drying them and making chile powder.

However, I decided to use my windfall to indulge in my newfound love of queso and make this recipe from Homesick Texan. I've made it before, so I took the liberty of adding a little breakfast sausage (how could that possibly be bad?) and I used salsa instead of the tomatoes and cilantro. Spork thinks my cavalier attitude towards recipe directions is reckless, but I'm not afraid!

Results: Yum! It was totally worth every single calorie. But now I need to go sleep off my cheese coma.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thanksgiving just got a little more kick

Woot! I have had an official request to bring Red Rooster to Thanksgiving this year. Red Rooster is much better than the casserole I was asked to bring. The last time I brought it, I ended up with a giant metal palm tree bird feeder.

Here's the recipe, in case anyone else needs to brighten up their holiday:

Red Rooster

3 Quart(s) cranberry juice cocktail
12 Ounce(s) thawed frozen orange juice concentrate
4 Cup(s) vodka

Combine all the ingredients and freeze in a large plastic container for several hours, or until slushy. (It won't be frozen solid.)

Stir and scoop the mixture into punch cups or wine glasses.

Notes: I usually use rum instead of vodka, generally a combo of gold rum and vanilla rum. All I have right now is 151, so I'll be buying some new supplies. I don't want Thanksgiving to be that exciting.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Omnivore Meme

This is a a fun meme-you know the routine post this list and bold what you've eaten. Some blogger somewhere decided that these are the 100 things every omnivore should eat before they die. I'm copying Lorie (again) who copied webfrau who thanked jww for this.

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn or head cheese - I bought some once, but couldn't make myself taste it!
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper - unfortunately!
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar - I skipped the cigar part
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat's milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald's Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips - but I don't see the point
61. S'mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs' legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis - no, but I would try it
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost - ick, ick, ick! I think I'd rather try the roadkill
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe beef
86. Har
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Looks like I'm at 59%. Hopefully I'm being graded on a curve.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Get thee to Jason's Deli and order a JB's Best Bagelini

Warning: Shameless plug ahead!

Spork and I ventured out in the rain today to try an awesome new sandwich at Jason's Deli, JB's Best Bagelini. It consists of turkey, provolone, guacamole, pico de gallo and (I think) a spicy aioli, all combined on a bagel and then pressed in a panini grill . It's served with blue corn chips and a really tasty fresh salsa. Yum! I snarfed the whole thing in record time, trying hard not to growl every time someone walked past the table.

Now for the "truth in marketing" disclaimer: My nephew, Jeff, is the mastermind behind this sandwich and it won a Major Award* in a Jason's Deli employee contest and is now on the menu board in all the restaurants. I think it's only available for a limited time, but I'm not sure about that. So just to be safe, you should probably jump in the car and go get one right now!

*If you're not enough of a fan of A Christmas Story to get the Major Award reference, then shame, shame on you...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Coconut cake #1

I've been trying to bake something every Saturday in an effort to:
  1. improve my baking skills
  2. NOT bake (and eat) something on the remaining days of the week
My informal rule is to bake on Saturday and share with others, if possible. Whatever is remaining on Sunday night gets a free ride to the trash can.

I took a cake decorating class last year and while I thought it was fun, I don't actually like decorator frosting, which is composed of shortening, powdered sugar, flavoring and food coloring. I just don't like the taste or texture the shortening gives it. You can make a similar frosting with butter, which tastes a lot better, but it melts too easily to pipe well. Especially for a slow-poke decorating newbie like me. Soooo, my current goal is to be able to make very tasty and (hopefully) pretty cakes with real frosting. From scratch, that is, since I'm not too fond of the mixes I've tried, either.

Sometimes it's hard being so picky having such refined tastes.

I am a coconut fiend, so I decided to start with a coconut cake. I used a basic cake recipe from my 1947 Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book (which I guiltily admit that I bought for my mom as a gift and then ended up keeping). I used half vanilla and half coconut extract for flavoring and since it is apparently assumed that I add booze to everything, I went ahead and boozed this one up. I made a simple syrup from water, sugar and coconut rum and brushed it lightly over both (baked and cooled) layers of the cake before I frosted it. It's what Julia Child would do. Julia is my hero, even if she did get stuck in a chimney once, which is a pretty idiotic thing to do. But I nearly died on a treadmill, so who am I to judge? Stupid margaritas.

I frosted the cake with "Fluffy White Frosting" from the same cookbook, which is just a version of boiled or seven minute frosting. I used coconut extract in the frosting, but I think vanilla would have been a better choice. I then coated the whole thing in toasted coconut. Oh, and I also added some toasted coconut between the layers when I frosted it.

Taste results: I have to say, it was pretty darned good! The cake is very tender and slightly coconut-flavored (I was worried I might have overdone it between the extract and the coconut rum). The frosting is, as the name implies, fluffy and white, but is mild enough to let the coconut shine. Some of these egg-white frostings turn sticky on humid days, but this one remained, well, fluffy and white even a day later. My one complaint is that the cake recipe was intended for 2-8"x2" round cake pans and I have 9" cake pans, so the layers are a little thin. It seems to me that a trip to the restaurant supply store could fix that problem right up!

Finally, here she be, my little coconut cake.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A fun way to waste a few minutes

In case you need to know what the Billboard #1 song was on the day you were born, now you can find out at The #1 Song on This Date in History website.

Sadly, mine "Everything Is Beautiful" by Ray Stevens. If it had to be a Ray Stevens song, I wish it could have been "The Mississippi Squirrel Revival" or maybe "Erik the Awful".