Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Possible Loss to Food Culture, My Hero, and More

Epicurious's blog reports that Atlanta's "Soul Food Museum" (officially the National African-American Culinary Arts & Hospitality Association Museum, which evidently has not learned from MySpace that you should not under any circumstances automatically load music with a webpage) is in dire financial straits. Which is too bad, because I didn't know about it last time I went to Atlanta and instead ended up having a crummy meal at a Ted's Montana Grill. The only thing worth getting at one of those is a stuffed bison. So,

Speaking of soul food, and music that one actually desires to hear, two weeks ago the Sherbs and I had a delightful dinner with music at Twins Jazz on U Street. We heard the Jonathan Kreisberg Trio, which, despite the name and the fact that they all look Judaic, are not three men named Jonathan Kreisberg (only one of them).

Twins Jazz is a cozy music venue, and it does have tasty Ethiopian food (and variants like the lentil nachos we had to start), but the cooking's a little bit uneven (my lamb was overcooked) and we didn't get enough injera, which is disappointing. As the Sherbs mentioned, we returned to Harar Mesob last weekend, and their combo platter is still incredibly tasty and filling (and the honey wine ain't bad, either). We'll be going there for our Ethiopian food in the near future, although Twins Jazz will still have our jazz club business.

Finally, I have a new hero: William Buckland, the man who would eat anything.

Dr. Pepper Post!

They now have Dr. Pepper-flavored lip gloss.

Also, a blogger vindicates my obsession with putting commercial beverages into food (he calls it an extension of the "found art" movement).

According to a post on the Chicago Moms' Blog, there is a cupcake establishment that makes Dr. Pepper flavored cupcakes. However, that offering is not currently in their flavors of the week.

Finally, Dr. Pepper pork chops. Honestly, any meat cooked in four cups of Dr. Pepper, brown sugar, garlic, onion, cloves, ginger, and pepper will be pretty darned tasty. I think a strong case could be made for chicken breast.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Faux Burger Time!

Last night was a party for "the awards show," whose name I do not mention because the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has registered it, just as the National Football League compels me to refer to their football championship as "the Big Game" unless I have their express permission (at least they've backed off on preventing churches from showing the Big Game).

The Sherbs and I had a party for the show. We made many foods tenuously (but amusingly) themed on various nominated movies. I was responsible for vegetarian mini-cheeseburgers, which were related to this year's winner for Best Original Screenplay.

The mini-burgers were facilitated by shopping trips to both Costco and the Teet. The ingredients:

First, I sliced the Boca burgers in fourths after a little defrosting. I won't defrost them next time; they get gooey and almost as bad as raw meat (which is no good because ground chuck is so much tastier). I then cooked the burger fourths, melting the cheese on top, and reserved them for later.

In a small bowl, I placed the dehydrated onions in water and let it sit for a while as I was cooking the burgers. I also halved the rolls and lightly toasted them in the toaster oven.

Once all the cheese patties were done, I laid the toasted burger bottoms a large Pyrex cooking plate. I then put on a small amount of the rehydrated onion, topped it with the cheese patty, and finished it with a bun top. I put the Pyrex into the oven at 250 degrees for ten minutes, then left it on "Warm" until the party.

The verdict: more White Castle-y than I was hoping for - actually pretty tasty. Might add a pickle slice or finish with ketchup next time; the burger can take the extra flavor.

"During the Commercial Break, We Talk About What You're Wearing at Home" - Jon Stewart

So after a busy, busy Saturday of errand running and diner brunch (also Ethiopian food for dinner! Yay! So tasty - it's slowly becoming one of my new favorite foods, also because you can eat with your hands), we had an exciting time on Sunday preparing for the Oscars and our Oscar Party. I enjoy the Oscars - getting to make fun of people's clothing, feeling like I've seen more movies than I actually did, etc. This year, with a new fancy TV and a recent acquisition of an HD antenna (because once you HD it's hard to go back), The Pedant and I decided to host an Oscar Party and serve food based on Oscar Nominated films. We had a lot of fun planning the menu. Although less people came than we excepted/hoped, we still had fun (and leftovers!).


(* = Winner)

Mini Hamburgers (for Juno - Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay (and only?) Written by a Former Stripper With a Visible Tattoo And Leopard Print*, Actress, Use of Michael Cera): See TP's previous post, but in reference to her Hamburger phone

Chummus (for Persepolis - Best Animated Film; No End in Sight - Best Documentary): A Costco sized Sabra tub (double yay for leftovers and the best mass-produced diaspora chummus), served with baby carrots and broccoli florets

Multi-Vitamins (for Sicko - Best Documentary): Self explanatory - our health care system as a country sucks, so take your vitamins

Ratatouille (for Ratatouille - Best Animated Film*, Sound Editing, Mixing, Use of Cooking in a Movie): We made a batch of Ratatouille in the slow cooker which came out pretty well. Since the nature of this dish is very simple with a "peasant" like atmosphere to it, but it came out well. It was done in the slow cooker and was: 1 diced eggplant (sauteed in olive oil), 1 onion (also sauteed in OO), 2 zucchini, 1 bell pepper, 1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes (Glen Muuer, because Cook's Illustrated told us they were the best), and some thyme. The trick was stir in pesto at the end which gave it a good flavor.

5-Layer Dip (for No Country for Old Men - Best Picture*, Director*, Adapted Screenplay*, Supporting Actor with a Bad Haircut and an Awesome Mom in the Front Row*; There Will Be Blood - Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor*): So TP and I didn't see either of these movies (I hate violence and blood) but we knew they took place in the Southwest/California and in NCFOM the villain kills people with a cattle prod. Since I don't eat steak, we went with something Southwest-y and a crowd pleaser. It was a layer of Guacamole (avocado, 1 mined clove garlic, 2 Tbs or so of minced red onion, lime juice, salt, pepper and a bit of cumin), a layer of black beans, a layer of salsa (which was a bit too watery but tasty), a mini layer of red onions, a layer of "Fiesta Corn," and a layer of light sour cream with some lime juice to keep it limey. Served with Tostidos Scoops and very tasty.

Chana Masala (for Michael Clayton - Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Score, Actor who is ohsohandsome with a beautiful house in Italy, Supporting Actress who Looked Like She was Going to the David Bowie Impersonation Gala not the Oscars*, Supporting Actor): This was a reheatable packet of Indian food that was really tasty. It is a nod to Tom Wilkinson's line "I am Sheva the God of Death!!"

Beer and Cheese Fondue (for Elizabeth: The Golden Age - Best Actress, Best Costumes*; La Vie en Rose - Best Actress*, Costumes, Makeup*): This was reheated from the fondue we made for the Superbowl, and like Cate Blanchett, a little funky the second time around (oh, snap!, no seriously, she's very talented, and to get nominated twice for the same role PLUS in the same year get nominated for 2 Oscars in very impressive! And her dress was pretty) but was served in our new, adorable Little Dipper. The way it worked with the 2 movies (besides the fact it was in our freezer) was the Beer = what they drink in England (Elizabeth) and the fondue = French (La Vie en Rose). Served with whole wheat baguette slices.

Drinks of Soda and Beer (for
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End - Best Makeup, Visual Effects): Really, we needed a tag for the soda and 3 beers we wanted to get rid of but sadly didn't. Want to come over and drink the mediocre, er, delicious beer in our fridge?! We need room for the leftovers!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

My Expertise Is Needed Again!

So, while we were expressly not blogging, the Sherbs and I were checking out the naked pictures of Lindsay Lohan in New York magazine (gaze upon her works, and despair!). They are "tasteful" nudes, by which we mean "recreating a Marilyn Monroe photo shoot so it's plausibly art." Still, she's starkers.

My takeaway from this was that Lindsay Lohan has many, many freckles. If you see a picture of her without freckles, it's been airbrushed. This is what I have learned.

According to Radar magazine, there may have been some "confusion" as to what the pictures would be used for - as in, someone expected to be only in a museum, and instead got to be on every newsstand in the Five Boroughs (and delivered to the homes of people who like to think they still live there, like us).

As everyone knows, I once wrote a published academic article on this very subject. Yet, for some reason, no news organization is calling me up.

In other news, the bok choy was made according to Cook's Illustrated's basic recipe, but with the addition of Morningstar Farms' "steak" strips. It was tasty awesome.
The Pedant and I have not been neglecting our blog but we have been preoccupied (basically, we added a third queue to our netflix subscription). Dinners haven't been extraordinary recently, tasty, but nothing too out of the ordinary. Monday, after TP had a run to a local Asian Grocery, we made Vegetarian Monte Cristos which were interesting. It was slices of tofu (cut horizontally) with a Dijon-thyme spread, cheddar cheese and crumbled soy bacon (it also called for tomato slices but I didn't put it on mine because tomatoes are icky). After you assemble the sandwich you brush the top with water and drizzle bread crumbs. Broil for 2 minutes, flip drizzle bread crumbs, broil for 2 minutes, eat. It was an interesting taste - the tofu worked well and the soy bacon was, as usual, amazing. We did notice that the tops of the bread crumbs were burning before the cheese melted, but that's probably our broiler. Next time we've vowed to make them in the toaster oven.

Tonight is bok choy (from the Asian grocery) with tofu. Not sure how we'll do it yet. My new favorite go-to book, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman had many good suggestions (as did The Best Vegetable Recipes).

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Ogres are like Lasagnas...

Yes it's true - The Pedant and I aren't blogging the way we used to. Maybe the pangs of guilt I'm feeling are coming from the new book I'm reading, Julie and Julia. It's very good so far, and I really like Julie Powell (I kinda want to be her friend and I'm only on page 183!). I even dreamt last night about making fancy French food. I didn't make fancy French food last night before bed, but I did prepare dinner for tonight: Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lasagna. It came straight from Vegetarian Times and it was not to difficult to prepare. The only problem (and this is where I felt similarly to Julie) was the sauce - made of 2 cans of fire roasted tomatoes (we got with extra garlic), an onion, 2 cloves of garlic (I used three) 1 cup fresh basil, 8oz tempeh, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon dried oregano, salt and pepper. To make the sauce, you simply put in the ingredients into a food processor in an order and then begin the layering processes (layer of sauce, layer of ready bake lasagna noodles, layer of frozen spinach, layer of ricotta cheese, layer of sauce, layer of swiss cheese, repeat 3x). Only problem: TP and I don't own a full sized food processor yet. We do have a "mini chopper" attachment to our hand blender, but that holds about 1 onion, 1 cup of basil and 2 cloves of garlic. So I punted and chopped each part separately and then mixed it in a bowl. Hopefully it will turn out well. The other kink was that it was to cook 4 hours on high, 6 hours on low. Great, except TP and I left the house before 9 and will be returning after 7, so changing the temperature and the time would be, well, miraculous. So we compromised and have it set for 7 hours on high.

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Battle Began

Friday evening for a special event, The Pedant and I reveled in our food network nerdiness and went out to a lovely restaurant run by a loser of an Iron Chef and cast member of the Next Iron Chef. (He didn't make it to the final 4 because he "plated everything the same." It's true.) Well, we wanted to go anyway and got all gussied up and had a late reservation (which was nice since we got to loiter) and got a tasting menu - 7 courses. They even had a 7 course vegetarian menu! Yay! (Although, I will say, 7 courses is A LOT of food. All tasty, but I had trouble finishing them and woke up the next morning very full.)

I will describe my dishes and let TP tell you his world of meats later.


Porcini mushroom flan with pesto and a micro green (yes, one single micro green). It was a great start to the meal - very small and creative.


Slices of French bread, and French bread with cranberries, with an assortment of spreads: a pesto, a orange butter, a sun-dried tomato, and a cheese curd with horseradish (didn't try the last one, looked too much like cottage cheese).

WINE: I got a glass of merlot and it was perfect. All warm, and berry-ey and smooth.

COURSE 1: Mixed Green Salad with Crispy Shallots and Vinaigrette

A simple salad with a few pieces of fried shallots and in a fried filo dough "bowl" (think Taco Bell's taco salad but classier to the factor of 10). The only problem I had with it was the salad was too difficult to eat gracefully and the dressing all pooled in the bottom of the shell. But still amazing.

COURSE 2: Painted Soup - Gingered Squash and Beet Cider

They say presentation is everything and here it was. The soup was well cooked - gingered squash done to perfection - with a small swirl of the beets. Sadly, the beet didn't add much, but it looked very elegant.

COURSE 3: Crispy Grits

I wanted to take a bath in this dish. The grits were well fried and the sauce was decedent.

(NOTE: By this time I was full)

COURSE 4: Black Eyed Pea Risotto

Again, amazing. The black eyed peas gave it a warm flavor and it was all creamy and great. There was a giant tomato in the center (and I don't like tomatoes) but it didn't hurt the dish at all.

COURSE 5: Porcini Gnudi

The Gnudi were similar to gnocchi but with a bit more bite. There were porcini mushrooms in the sauce, and a truffle foam on top. My first experience with foam, and it wasn't worth it. It tasted like air and was just fair. The dish was super good though.

COURSE 6: Mushroom Pot-Pie

Although it was amazing and delicious (a pot pie of porcini mushrooms [ED NOTE: I'm sensing a sale on porcini...] and root vegetables with the pie being a layer of puff pastry over the top (and it looked like a mushroom! clever!). I was only able to take 2 bites of this cause I was about to burst, but it was very good. It wasn't like a chicken pot pie of my youth, or the variants TP and I have been trying lately, but it was very good. What's even better is the waiter packed it up for me! Hooray! I had it for lunch on Saturday and it was still good.

COURSE 7: Dessert: Apple Crisp

Although sadly I was stuffed like a goose on a foie grais farm, I had a few bites of the apple crisp. The filo dough was excellent and I so badly wanted it all.

POST COURSE: Mini Desserts

As a "thank you for blowing a sizable portion of your paycheck on our trendy, tasty food" with the check comes several little desserts: a fantastic chocolate truffle with cocoa powder (I was only able to enjoy half, but it was perfect), a little mango fruit gel (to put Sunkits' Fruit Gems to shame), and a tiny cookie.

A worthy experience. I enjoyed it tremendously.