Sunday, March 30, 2008

Mabo Chicken and Seared Tofu

this was sunday relaxing and de-stressing meal. i lazy-day-ed it and got up for a late brunch at bluegrass, laundered (tragically not money) for multiple hours at the ALWAYS entertaining coin-op, and then grocered my way to a tasty dinner.

the Mabo sauce was from my trip to Morgantown and the asian grocery a couple of weeks ago. recipe says brown pork, add sauce, crumble tofu, and serve

i needed more veg and less pork. i know, i said less pork. don't worry, i'm still big on the pig. i'm also just big. so ground chicken it was.

plus i needed veg.

so after browning the chicken, i added a diced onion, three stalks of diced celery, four cloves of minced garlic, and the mabo sauce to a pan. threw in a dash of spicy bean sauce too.

wait, bubble, gurgle, sizzle.

add diced red pepper. add four chopped baby bok choy.

meanwhile, back at the non-stick pan, add a bit o' oil. take the brick of tofu and slice into 6 pieces. pop it into the pan and let it sizzle. drizzle some sweet soy sauce on it and flip. drizzle again. sear it on both sides.

that rice? yeah, two cups of rice, 6 bay leaves, and 15 whole cloves. press the button. wait for the rice to cook. really, buy a rice cooker people.

plate it on up and scallion the top. some sesame seeds would have been nice too.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

rendang beef over carrot noodles

last night's dinner came out of a box. but a box of luv from the asian market in morgantown. my sister hopped a little bit when she saw the rendang in the markey aisle. that's a strong enough endorsement for me to try it.

a mild coconut curry with singapore history according to box-slash-google-for-three-minutes-research. it was mild, with a typical curry blend tang and a smoothed edge from the coconut. i added some red onion at the beginning (pulped out and added some flava) and some brocolli at the end (chez diggs the b).

i was going to do rice, but then remembered i had the carrot noodles. honestly, when you cook from a box, you should not be surprised by this. the carrot noodles were the best part of the meal.

the curry needed a slurry to thicken more and i needed to buy a fattier cut o' beef to avoid the drying out part.

i did put the broccoli in the soup at the right time to keep it crisp tender! it didn't totally suck.

and i had scallions. garnish, damnit! for a wednesday.

Monday, March 24, 2008

easter supper

mostly photos. i think they're good enough.

eight kitchen...lots of family you get to choose.

i started off with caramelized onion and wild mushrooms, added madiera wine, deglazed, repeated, added tomato paste, added madiera and reduced. put it on half-baked bread drizzled with olive oil and salt, topped it with shredded asiago, and then watched the gang make love to it.

taters. peel. slice. arrange with butter dabs and cubes o' gruyere. add chicken stock. baked covered for an hour. uncover. add asiago. bake more.

same drill...out of gruyere and asiago. use romano!

we decided on beef for dinner.

i decided to wrap it in peppered bacon from the bacon of the month club.

Burger's Smokehouse in California, MO provided the peppered bacon.

oh, yeah. i also stuffed it with wild mushrooms, baby spinach, romano cheese, and fresh rosemary.

when we sat at the table i said i might have overdone the rosemary.

7 people said "no" faster than clemens talking about steroid use.

it looked pretty on the table. that was weg's doing. she's the doll that hosted us all and let me take over most of her kitchen.

and then.

and then.

weg proved she's no slouch.

talk to me about homemade raspberry ice cream.

heavy on the berry, easy on the rasp.

then smash it between some puff pastry lightly smeared with lemon curd and throw a few fresh berries on the plate.

breath. eat. breath. drool. eat. eat. eat...BREATH.

Not to be outdone, J brought four mini-chocolate lava cakes. her sister owns Tennis Skirts Desserts in southern california. we benefited.

i whipped up a simple reduction with the last of the fresh raspberries, some sugar, and some golden balsamic vinegar.



i want to cook with this so much more.

that's my easter.

first meal i've cooked since BEFORE my SoCal trip. way too long. and that won't happen again.

one last thing...

this is what the meal made us all look like...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

bluegrass kitchen - PEI

PEI mussels in white wine broth with spinach, tomatoes, and garlic toast.

had it with a savignon blanc. nice pair.

had it with 4 extra toast points. bless you roomie.

bluegrass kitchen - meatloaf love

after a great concert at the local, roomie and i needed sustenance. sue and jay were in the kitchen this morning and they provided it.

go ahead, read that menu and weeeeeeeeep. i wouldn't even trade that for a tray full of buffet bacon.

you all know me. you know what that means.

i, of course, stopped reading when my eyes saw meatloaf. h and i had already said "biscuits. comma. pregnant pause. GRAVY." about ten times this morning.

we're dorks, but we're your gravcy dorks, and you love us.

i have to tell you again how wonderful these guys are. they love to make good food. sue comes out every saturday morning when we come in to tell us how good the biscuits are. she's never wrong. today's were more chewy, dough-y, bread-y champagne biscuits. they were excellent. and the less-sweet of the biscuits today was the perfect balance to the more-sweet-than-the-pepper-gravy tomato gravy.

slather that all over meatloaf that was 2/1 beef/pork with peppers and onions, and love.

not sure if it was intentional that the potato cake was crispier than usual, but it was the perfect texture match with the smooth meatloaf and the creamy gravy.

i might have to go back again tonight for dinner.

Bluegrass Kitchen on Urbanspoon

burger bluegrass style

burger bluegrass style
Originally uploaded by kitchen geeking
someone else's food, pt. 1. the burger special at bluegrass kitchen, march 21, 2008. spring sprung one hell of a burger.

manhattan d'herb

manhattan d'herb
Originally uploaded by kitchen geeking
sometimes, even when you're in charly-west, you understand "Manhattan," up.

Friday, March 21, 2008

coming home

i've learned techniques and recipes all over the world. this chopping, that braising, a couple of those grillings. picked up the early ones from mom and bec, some on my own through the tube (and tubes), and most i haven't even started to learn yet.

but i was going through pictures. and then i was going through memories. and technique wasn't so important to meals that were made by gnarled hands and paring knives, thin-skinned pans and worn wooden spoons.

a bag of peppermint candies on the front seat of aunt ida and uncle milt's car.

pitchers of sun tea on the back porch off the kitchen sitting by the old tin washtub.

last year's wasp's nests clinging to the eaves of the garage.

the painted silver swing set in the yard and the green porch swing being hung up by dad and uncle paul.

and the more i think back, the more i wonder if this wasn't where my earliest memories of food exist. if 'comfort food' isn't so glittery and enticing to me because it came from here.

here's where i learned to pass the salt and pepper; that is was okay to have a peanut butter cookie with a kiss on top while waiting for dinner; that tomatoes come from the vine to the table through the back door; that white bread with butter is how sandwiches start.

here's where i learned that faster isn't always better; that people who grew up in the 30s don't eat medium rare burgers; that old things ARE good things; that handmade, be it wooden toys by great uncle dan or parker house rolls by grandma, are always better than what you get somewhere else.

the picture you see is after the most recent face lift of a house built in 1884. the gutting is happening now.

we never had central heating or air, the warm morning stove has been passed on to a neighbor and the house will have modern now.

there was never anything bittersweet about that to me. i miss the feel of the room with the stove, sure.

but for some reason, not a strange one, the thought of turning into the yard and parking; walking down lawn and in through the porch; turning in to the kitchen and setting down a load of bags; and starting to get christmas dinner ready in this place with these's just what i want to have always had.

corn grit thick

corn grit thick
Originally uploaded by kitchen geeking
dear readers,

please help my find out what to do with this item. i wandered through an asian market last weekend and it came with me when i left. it was an alton moment to grab something you know nothing about and cook it. yes, yes, i paid for it before it left the store with me.

googling "chinese thick corn grit recipe" does not help me. perhaps you can.

my inclination is to make corn-porridge-y glop and put miso or rice-wine-vinegar-steamed fishies on top of it. or maybe some grilled beef wrapped in scallion with a honey-soy marinade. i dunno. what do you think?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

some people LOVE burgers

in and out burger menu
Originally uploaded by kitchen geeking
From A Hamburger Today:

"New reliever Matt Wise almost didn't sign with the Mets because they train in Florida and play in New York—in other words, nowhere near his beloved In-N-Out Burger. "I'm serious. I love 'em that much," Wise told the Post's Bart Hubbuch. Wise is from Southern California and grew up on the popular West Coast chain's famous "double-double" cheeseburgers, which have been known to prompt 1,000-mile roundtrips by some crazed fans just to get them."

That's love, people.

packed in hog casing

packed in hog casing
Originally uploaded by kitchen geeking
went shopping with my sister at the asian market in morgantown on sunday and bought some tasty treats. i'll be sure to blog them when i cook them.

i was disappointed that i couldn't buy this. it was too warm and i was a two-hour drive from home with no cooler in the car. i guess i could have stopped at a Sheetz to buy a styro-foam cooler and some ice. mother earth is glad i didn't.

Monday, March 17, 2008

tidewater greek salad

tidewater greek salad
Originally uploaded by kitchen geeking
Renovations happen, staff turns over, menus lose some focus. With all of that, and having been eating at the Tidewater for over 20 years now; you still want to go there for two things. Rolls fresh from the oven with sweet cream butter. And greek salad with juicy beets, thick feta, and tart red onion crunch.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

pan fried catfish over grits with red pepper gravy

It was one of those mornings when BOTH herbert and I stopped reading after seeing the first special on the board. nummers.

sausage comma biscuit

sausage comma biscuit
Originally uploaded by kitchen geeking
It's always good when the waitress comes to your table and says "I'm sorry it's taking so long, they had to make the sausage."

Friday, March 14, 2008

Taquerias of Anaheim, pt. 2

First, sorry for the delay. Working from 8am to 10pm pretty much every day the past couple weeks.

After starting my Anaheim weekend off with a goat burrito on Friday, I was ready for more. And lucky for you, there WAS more.

Jailhouse J suggested I try Rubio's for a fish taco. She said she'd had them and they were good. She was right.

They're a chain, but a clean, pleasant, tasty chain.

Since I was full of goat burrito still, I just got one. But a treat.

Crispy fried fish fillet-lets with fresh lettuce, cucumber/onion, and a creamy sauce. I added a squeeze of lime (which were at the salsa bar for the taking) and set to work.

I'll have to try more, because they were tasty little morsels.

But they weren't the highlight.

That was driving around Saturday night when we just decided to drive around until we found a place to eat.

Boy did we ever!

Folks were getting hungry, and mutiny in the rental car was a distinct possibility. We saw the Pollo Loco and I said, "Let's take a right here and find the next place on this block to grub up."

Two Mexican dudes sitting on folding chairs. Cardboard signs that read "$1 Tacos."


A tent set up in front of the Taqueria Garcia. Regular menu inside, two folding tables, a cash register, and lots o' meat under the tent outside.

We had to ask what the cabeza and al pastor were. Clearly, we 'weren't from around those parts.' Everyone at the joint was smiling and enjoying a Friday night out at the local. A gentleman leaning against a pickup answered us and let us know what the deal was. Beef head and spit roast shredded pork. Done and done.

I convinced Chris he needed to try something new, and he went for chorizo with his asada. Good call.

I went for one of each. With everything.

Thanks mr. bitter, you are now my official foodie-traveler man-crush. Deal with it.

Everything on my plate was amazing, in part because I was eating it. In part because I loved it.

Trust me, local food, freshly produced by people who have been doing so for hundreds of years, is the best crack on the planet.

The cabeza was a fatty pot roast flavor, deep, unctuous (thanks for the food vocab Tony), and tart/slow-heat with sauce.

Two small corn tortillas grilled fresh for a few minutes in front of my eyes, two tablespoons of meat, a half tablespoon of onion and cilantro, and about 2 teaspoons of sauce (red here, tomatillo-based Sunday morning.

Well-sated for the evening, we tackled Space Mountain, Indiana Jones, and the Matterhorn.

Now you understand more clearly the 'geeking' part of kitchen geeking.

The next morning we went in search of a diner. Couldn't find the one a Google search produced, but we found Billy Boy's.The parking lot was packed.

This was the taco gods smiling upon me.

That's because the parking lot at the strip mall across the street was not full, and there was, of course, a taqueria.

The ladies were not interested, so they went to get in line at Billy Boy's. Chris, Karl and I felt hobbit-ish, and determined to get a 'first-breakfast.'

Mine was a pollo and a beef tongue. I LOVE this stuff.

The tongue was delicious. I only knew it was tongue because I ordered it. Had someone else put it in front of me and said "This is beef," I would have believed them and thought, "Ah, that's a great spice rub/marinate." There was just a depth of flavor, a tang if you will, to the tongue. It was tender, juicy, again with the unctuous, and the perfect first breakfast to get me back across the street to Billy Boy's and the carne asada omelet that awaited me.

So, CD, I am so sorry I didn't get far enough north to see you, and I owe you a visit. But I hope you're proud that four years later I still remember driving to Boston in a snowstorm and talking about your need to get back to California so you could eat a 'real burrito.

Taqueria Garcia on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 10, 2008

Flickr Trouble

You can NOW find me and my Flickr photos HERE. The old address still works because Flickr apparently can't delete it. But I can't upload to it use this post's address for the Flickr!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Red-Eye Redux

Y'all didn't believe me, did you?

Well, this was a special treat. And not just because I had red-eye gravy two days in a row. Nor because I had yet another perfectly poached egg (which I did) or one of Sue's crumbly delicious biscuits with honey-butter (again, ditto).

This one was special on the plate because I learned that when the board at Bluegrass says "Choice of Meat" that one of my options is sausage.

"That's strange D, you always talk about bacon."

"Well, yes, I do LOVE bacon. But I am also big on the pig and a firm believer that the swine is fine. I love PORK. It's just God's gift to omnivores."

And (and here's the kicker), Bluegrass makes their own sausage.

Think for a minute about making sausage. It's not hard. It's taking ground pork and spices and mixing them together. These weren't even in casings. They were just spiced-pork meatballs.

But someone MADE them. Someone I could meet if I had asked Herbert to introduce me. They would have come out of the back to the end of the bar with a quizzical look wondering who the weirdo was with the camera and the pork-fascination.

That's the best part to me. Those guys make their food. And they can tell me where it came from.

A word on the bialy before I leave you.

I will make them soon. A crispy crust, a soft roll center, a yeasty flavor in every little pocket of yeast-formed air-pocket that screams "Pour gravy in me."

A slight chewiness to your breakfast that makes you work for it, and relish every tender bite of goodness.

Yeah, this brunch did not suck.

Bluegrass Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Saturday Brunch - The Bluegrass Kitchen Chronicles

Brunch yesterday was a classic. Organic ham-steaks with red-eye gravy, one of Sue's biscuits, a MOUND of grits, and two perfectly-poached eggs.

Upper left from the plate?

Oh, that's just my coffee cup. Nothing I need to write about there.

Ohhhhhhh. You meant that little corner of a saucer you can see all the way at the top left?

Yeah, that was the other gravy we ordered.

And I am now going back to the kitchen for Sunday brunch too.


Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Taquerias of Anaheim, pt. 1

Tacos Mi Peublo

I'll start you off slow. Just one taqueria in this post. And that's mostly because I didn't have a taco.

I get to the hotel about noon on Friday and have not eaten since a cold McDonald's drive-thru for a large coffee and a free McSkillet burrito sometime after 4:30 in the morning in Columbus.

Note to readers, if you think there's some kind of foodie-indie-cred, and that I have just lost it, please remember, you're here for the snark too.

Thankfully, I ran into SK and CW at the Bell Station. They wanted nail work done, I wanted food, and I had a car.

So off we went out the back entrance of Disneyland to the Wonderland shopping plaza on Katella. They found their nail place, and I found this.

Followed closely by the Modelo below that I grabbed from the cooler at the register.

Followed, yes also closely, by a basket of crisp (FRESH) tortillas and a bowl of smoky, piquant salsa.

While enjoying my beer, the salsa, and the light coming in to the front of the restaurant as I sat in the relative cool and dark of the back of the joint, I perused.

What to get? What would the table of four middle-aged Mexican women have set down in front of them? Or the family one more table up to the front?

If you can read that and don't know that I ordered the goat burrito, you haven't been keeping up on my fascination with The Dark Prince of Food and Adventure. This was the first Bourdain inspired menu choice of the weekend, it was far from the last or the most inspired.

The burrito was packed with goat, a tasty, tender, braised beef-like cut of the meat with a slight game to it. Not Venison, mind you, just a hint of "this is not the normal meat." I'll get it again.


Two of the ladies at the next table got a soup that was tomato-based of some sort, had shrimp in it, and was squeezed with copious amounts of lime before it was consumed.

SK and CW were grossed out when they heard my selection.

That was to be a theme of the weekend.

Taco Mi Pueblo on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 7, 2008

Hibachi Flaming Volcano

Hibachi Flaming Volcano
Originally uploaded by kitchengeeking
This is what happens when 14 of my friends head to Hibachi. We decide that Flaming Volcanoes are 'classy' in the best way.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Say Hello to my Li'l Friend

The last pound tasted of pork and salt.

Say hello to the new flavor element. Pepper.

Also, I can count at least 10 slices in this pack. So there will be 1) less fat bacon (heh); and 2) more bacon to share.

I have talked to the manager at the local gourmet pizza place about bringing the pound up and having them work magic on it. We'll have to see. I do LOVE me some pizza.

I also know that I haven't personally cooked anything in over a week. And that's damn fine Sunday morning bacon and eggs product right there kids!

Minneapolis Airport

The Minneapolis airport is stunningly user-friendly and comfortable. There are at least a half-dozen options other than Starbucks for your coffee. You can buy luggage (which always seemed funny to me when you're already in the airport), iPods (from a vending, I'm serious).

And, if you get hungry, you can sit down and enjoy a nice hot bowl of...

...ICE CREAM!@$&^%

These people are CRAZY. In West Virginia, we have DQs. In Morgantown, where I grew up, it was seasonal. CLOSED WHEN SNOWING.

Blew my mind. Of course I had woken up at 1am after getting two hours of sleep to drive to Columbus (3 hr. drive) to catch my ungodly early flight to get to Minneapolis...and wait for my flight to SoCal. So I was delerious. But c'mon. DQ? In Minneapolis? In late February?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Billy Boy's

Or: My Other Non-Taco Meal in SoCal

Quickly now children, gather round. I'll tell you about the joy of being in Southern California.

Before I ate the meal I am about to describe in halting, clipped detail...I had two tacos for pre-breakfast.

That's right. The parking lot of Billy Boys was completely full. This led out intrepid foodsters to believe that parking across the street at the strip mall was a) a viable solution, and b) meant that we would have a long wait. SK and CW were not into the concept of first breakfast (or icky-meat tacos) so they went ahead to the restaurant. We got there with a little snack in our belly and proceeded to order up massive amounts of breakfast.

I mean, look at the sign of the place we were eating.

In addition to letting us all know they served three meals. They tell us what we can get for those three meals. Burgers, Tacos, and Burritos. Classy.

I slacked on the photos of the menu behind the cash registers for the take-out folks, SK's strawberry waffle (normal food apparently must be a waffle), CW's French Toast (which looked delicious), or little-C's massive full stack of pancakes with a side of sheese hashbrowns to boot. Sorry, you'll just have to trust me that they looked good and tasted good. And that no one at the table finished their breakfast (even the people who were eating their first one).

Karl and I went for the Carne Asada omelette, and we were not disappointed. See?

They put down five little paper condiment cups of salsa on the table. We, of course, used them.

This was closer to store bought, slightly chunky salsa, not the salsa sauce of the tacqueria. It was slightly sweet. Nice with the salty, asada-y omelette.

Not much else to do but tell you the hash browns were crisp on top and tender all through. And the omelette was good enough to make Karl lie down in the grass in front of the restaurant when we got outside. Or maybe it was that we don't have grass on the ground right now in WV?

Eh, regardless, it's time for the close-up to close out.

Billy Boy Burgers on Urbanspoon