Archive for the ‘Gastronomy’ Category

Filed Under (Gastronomy) by Sean on February-17-2008

So many hours at the piano makes a guy hungry. For tonight’s meal it was chicken breast in a tomato vodka cream sauce accompanied by sauteed broccoli. Yummy and fast. Take a boneless, skinless chicken breast, season with salt and pepper and saute in a saucepan with olive oil over medium high heat. After cooking on both sides for a few minutes, pull the chicken out of the pan and throw in some chopped shallots and chopped garlic. Saute for a minute or two and deglaze pan with a cup of vodka. Reduce for 2 minutes and add can of chopped tomatoes along with 1/2 cup of chicken stock. Simmer for 5 minutes for flavor to meld and add the chicken back in until cooked through. Add in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of cream to taste and check for seasoning. Depending on the sauce’s consistency, I’ll typically add a beurre manie to pan sauces. You should taste the tomato, vodka and cream all together, balanced in harmony. Yum.



Filed Under (Gastronomy) by Sean on January-26-2008

Here is the update you’ve been waiting for complete with pictures from the party. I believe it was an overall success! Much food and good company to be had, and another thanks to Reggie, our gracious hostess with the mostess!!

We had a couple missing in action, but I won’t name any names (Keith, Jen).

Here are some takeaways from this feast:

  • a 55 gallon drum of guacamole would not be enough – a huge bowl was devoured within minutes
  • ditto on sweet potato chips
  • make a list of what you’re supposed to take with you when catering an event such as this, and check it three times; we forgot a myriad of ingredients: 5 avocados (see above), quart of cream, eggs, two huge heads of romaine, and probably a couple of things I’m still forgetting ;)
  • when empanada dough made from ripe plantains requires the empanadas to be soft (from roasting about 45 minutes at 350 F), they really need to be soft; I rushed and added cream (fat) to the mixture to make it doughy, which does not work if you’re going to be frying them! We’ll be doing this one again soon.
  • taking the fryer is a good idea! If you run out of things to fry, you can start frying up shoes, severed fingers, whatever for wholesome party fun!
  • ’tis best to take the time and bring implements to make a proper fry station, i.e., dry-wet-dry dipping for things like chiles rellenos. using shallow bowls and your fingers makes for splotchy batter coverage
  • definitely no drinking whilst you’re preparing the feast, especially in the days leading up; we wouldn’t have gotten half the dishes done if we had been
  • tune in BeatBlender on SomaFM and crank it as loud as it will go while cooking!!! Loud deep house music creates the best energy in the kitchen ever. Perhaps we can start powering cars on house music?

My personal favorites:

  • the roasted tomatillo serrano salsa rocks! Tangy, zesty, spicy with a hint of sweetness. This is a distinctive green color.
  • the roasted tomatillo chipotle salsa – tangy and spicy with a touch of sweet. This one is mahogany colored (uses dried chipotles not ones in adobo).
  • enchilada suiza – made this a gillion times and it’s always a fave, esp for such a simple dish
  • guacamole always a fave – my shortcut on this one is to make the fresh chopped tomato jalapeño salsa as a stand-alone dish, add several tablespoons of the salsa to mash fresh avocados with a fork, chop up several cloves of garlic and mince with coarse salt, throw it all together and voilá!
  • simply made, freshly fried corn chips with any salsa

Finally here are some pics from the party! Click on an image to zoom in and get a full description.

Wardrobe Cheese! What’s Allen so excited about?
Heather and Mike May I have this dance? Yikes!

 

The Hostess! BK and Allen It’s MF, right?!?

 

Derek and Michelle Wendy and Christy Manning the fryer

 

Aren’t they cuuuute . . . :) Krisna and Derek Plotting
Christry and Krisna Wendy and Reggie BK

Until next time . . .



Filed Under (Gastronomy, Life) by Sean on January-25-2008

Garden of Plenty

All I gotta say is, we threw down some serious groceries tonight! Paul and I cooked for a solid 5 and a half hours, both running 120% speed. Thing is, we’ve got about 2 more hours full speed cooking tomorrow, so we’ll be getting to Reggie’s a little early, schedule permitting. So what is the MF menu exactly?

For conidemento, or accoutrement, we have:

  • roasted, simmered tomato jalapeño salsa
  • fresh chopped tomato serrano salsa
  • fresh chopped tomato habanero salsa
  • roasted tomatillo serrano salsa
  • roasted tomatillo chipotle salsa
  • fresh guacamole
  • plantian chips with chimichurri (yes a little further south but what the hell)
  • sweet potato chips, dusted with chipotle salt
  • chihuahua cheese
  • queso fresco
  • tortillas de mais (corn tortillas)
  • fresh romaine lettuce
  • cremini and shiitake mushrooms
  • freshly made tortilla chips

For starters, appetizers, side dishes and main dishes:

  • ripe plantain empanadas with cheese filling
  • picadillo stuffed jalapeños (chiles jalapeños rellenos de picadillo)
  • fresh enchilada suiza
  • shredded poached chicken in seasoned broth for tacos
  • freshly grilled flank steak (carne asada) with spicy ancho seasoning paste
  • chile rellenos (poblano) stuffed with chorizo and queso fresco in a tequila lime sauce

I’m sure there are things I’ve missed. The general motif is kind of like a taco bar (kind of like a bruschetta bar party if you’ve ever done one of those – and that word, just like chipotle, is almost always mispronounced; it’s bruce-KETTA, not brooshetta, bershetta, broshitta or any other such nonsense). We’ve basically got three proteins, chargrilled beef, shredded poached chicken and roasted pork. These can be served up in warm, soft tortillas with a myriad of choice ingredients and condiments as you so please. The only exception would be the chile rellenos, enchiladas suiza and empanadas.

I’ve got some pictures of our preparations this evening for your enjoyment. Click on the links to get the full pic and description:

Ok as you can see it’s very late and there is much to do tomorrow. I look forward to seeing all you MF-ers out there and hope you enjoy the vittles as much as I’ve enjoyed making them!



Filed Under (Gastronomy, Life) by Sean on January-24-2008

Well it’s really late and I need to get to bed. My sous-chef de cuisine, Paul, was out of pocket tonight since he hasn’t been feeling well lately. In addition, I whittled away lots of time working on a remote web caching proxy server I set up (so I can surf and conduct my affairs privately online when I’m on an open, unsecured WAP; people have no idea how easy it is to get all their website account passwords, email passwords, etc. on open wifi hotspots – I’ll eventually make this available to others), and on a bridge scoring and reporting web application I wrote for my father’s bridge league – yes very exciting stuff indeed. In any case, Paul will be here tomorrow early and we’ll get a lot of stuff done, so no need to worry.

Since all this technology work makes a guy hungry, I poached up some chicken breast, made a quick guacamole by fork crushing a ripe avocado with yesterday’s Chopped Tomato and Serrano Salsa and some extra garlic and adding a little lime juice. To that I added some red romaine lettuce, grated chihuahua cheese and the aforementioned salsa and threw it on some steamed corn tacos and commenced hodgering (yes that’s a word my family has used forever, so I added it to urbandictionary.com myself – see here).

Take a look at the mess of ingredients for this feast on my cutting board (excuse the crappy ass phone pic):

Taco Ingredients

In any case, I’m going to check out and go to bed now. I’m listening to one of my other favorite Internet radio stations, BeatBlender from SomaFM as I type this, but I think the DJ is getting a little whiff of the crack pipe this late at night.

Look for tomorrow’s progress!



Filed Under (Gastronomy, Life) by Sean on January-23-2008

Today I had the pleasure of getting together with my oldest brother (who is a grandfather and has officially entered his fifties – a sobering thought if it weren’t for the fact that he plays in two bands three nights a week and parades around like he’s in his thirties and still looks it; I have more gray and more of a receded hairline than him) for lunch at P.F. Chang’s to use up a couple of gift certificates from the winter solstice (that holiday many people call kriss-mess or something . . .) holidays. So we went full court press and hodgered some serious groceries, as we like to say in my family.

So we had some hot tea in a lead-encased pot that weighed about 62 lbs and of course the waiter whipped up their dipping sauce which is essentially a mixture of chile oil, rice vinegar, chinese mustard, and soy sauce. Of course to kick that up (as is it could be thinned out with a little stock and eaten as a soup) we added sambal oelek (I love wikipedia) and more chile oil. Then our server told us he would bring out some more spice to kick it up. Scot (my brother) and I dig in with a couple of teaspoons and slurped up the mystery sauce (it was hard to tell with the lighting and the small ramekins) and noted it was simply Sriracha.

Anyway, there was plenty of banter whilst we scarfed on the first two choices for appetizer: salt and pepper calamari and Chang’s chicken wraps. Most of our discussion was BS and catch up since we hadn’t seen each other since the holidays. Some of it was light ranting about dumb-ass drivers in Houston (quick question: why is the speed of a vehicle over rough pavement/rail road tracks, etc., inversely proportional to the size of the vehicle? Why do Ford Ex-screw-me-sions and Cataract Escapades slow to a stop before driving over pebbles? Why? There will be a blog entry about that sometime soon . . . :) ) including people driving slow while on the phone in the fast lane and other things that perplex me no end.

Anywho . . . . back to the vittles. We had decided upon a couple of dishes we hadn’t had before: Sichuan (i.e., Szech(w/u)an) Beef and Chengdu spiced lamb. The beef was good, but the Chengdu was kick ass. I will definitely be getting that again and urge everyone to try it. It is described on the menu as “Richly spiced marinated lamb, wok-caramelized then tossed with cumin, mint, tomatoes and yellow onions.” It is seriously yummy is what it is. According to the restaurant’s website, we each ingested about 1,760 kcal. With that I should be running, not driving, home . . .

Anyway, I’ve got to get back to wrapping up here at the office (while I’m listening to one of my favorite Internet radio stations: GrooveSalad at SomaFM) so I can get home and get back to cooking for this Friday!



Filed Under (Gastronomy) by Sean on January-23-2008

What the f#$*& is Margarita Friday?!? Ok – here’s a very short description (longer one coming soon): My friends and I do this thing called Margarita Friday, MF for short. Now entering its tenth year, it basically is a get together (either physically or virtually) every Friday for happy hour (or sooner) where we all meet at someone’s house, or a bar or restaurant and celebrate the end of the week drinking, yeah you guessed it, margaritas. Even when we all can’t physically be together in attendance, absentee participants usually check in from far, typically using their picture phones to photograph a picture of the margarita they’re enjoying, and sending it to the rest of the crew using MMS (look for article explaining that better in the soon-to-come geek section – for now: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multimedia_Messaging_Service).

All right. Where was I? Oh, MF. So anyway, we’re doing MF this week at Reggie’s Condo where we can discuss plans for our tenth anniversary edition of MF in some distant tropical land (FYI – themed Margarita Fridays are declared editions, e.g., Margarita Friday, Black Tie Edition [yes, we've done that]). I was volunteered to cook for the gathering, which I’m always happy to oblige. So, what are we having and why the hell am I writing about it three days in advance, you ask? Well, my friends typically want to actually eat something on occasion and I’ve been known to get a little carried away in preparing a 13 course meal of haute cuisine when all they wanted was hot dogs and chips . . . so, I figured I would get a head start on this one so we can eat at a normal hour and still have really great food. I will let you know the day-by-day play of what I’m working on. For now I’ll actually get with the program and let you know what I did tonight (Tuesday January 22 though this is late so the date will be off on this article).

My friend and sous-chef de cuisine, Paul, who will also be in attendance, came over tonight to assist with tonights duties. In addition to making two trips to Central Market, we prepared three dishes:

  1. basic chopped tomato-serrano salsa (salsa mexicana)
  2. roasted tomato-jalapeno salsa (salsa de jitomate cocida y jalapeno)
  3. chicken tacos with roasted poblano, mushrooms, cream and queso fresco (pollo a la poblana rajas con hongos)

I’ll dive into these in more detail in a proper cookery page article, but I’ve got to first credit Rick Bayless, Mexican food bad ass extraordinaire (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rick_Bayless and yes I’ve eaten at his two restaurants in Chicago) for the inspiration and recipe base and techniques from which I’m creating these dishes. What’s in for tomorrow night? Most likely, a roasted chipotle tomatillo salsa, an ancho seasoning paste, and some other spins on tacos, the perfect fiesta food. <Begin Rant>I know most of you know this by now, but chipotle is pronounced chip-OAT-lay, not chipultee or whatever other god awful pronunciations I’m sure you’ve heard.<End Rant>

Ok – post number 2 and climbing! More to come very soon! Also expect a further dissection of these dishes, recipes and techniques in the soon to come page dedicated to all things culinary. Also more to come about MF and other stuff . . . . stay tuned!
Hasta Luego!