Friday, February 12, 2016

Ha-Tuna Matata


I love tuna, guys.  For me, it's just one of those foods that does it all.  It can be comfort food, it can be refreshing, it can be spicy, it can be easy, and it can be fancy.  This is a fancy jar of tuna:




It's not cheap. It will cost you about $8/jar (and you may have to get it at a specialty store, because the grocery store that must not be named doesn't carry it.) And I would say use fresh here, but I was following orders from the New York Times cooking site (which has some amazing recipes).

I saw a picture of this sandwich pop up in an email and I had to have it. That day. So I made it. That day. And I ate it. That day. And the next day. And the next day. I'm not lying either.  It was so outstanding, that I kept craving it. I couldn't get enough. I tried it on different types of breads. Toasted.  Not toasted. I tried it with different eggs.  Hard boiled. Soft boiled. I tried it with and without Serrano (though, the spicier the better).

I think what turned me on the most about this sandwich was the fact that there was no mayo involved. But let me tell you...there is so much flavor in this sandwich, that you won't miss mayo. And don't get me wrong, I love me a good old fashioned tuna, onion, celery and mayo sammy on some white bread.    But this sandwich is divine.  It's the best tuna sandwich I've ever eaten.

PS - If you're laying off the bread, it would be just as amazing all mashed up together in a bowl and eaten with a fork.
PS2 - Don't let anyone tell you eggs are bad for you.

Try it here.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

DO NOT MAKE THIS ON FAT TUESDAY


I remember in high school or college watching MTV while they were in New Orleans for Mardi Gras and thinking to myself, God, that is the last place on Earth I would want to be during that time. What I saw was a bunch of drunk, half-naked people acting like complete idiots, doing things they probably regret and wouldn't want their mothers to find out about, all to get on tv. I decided back then that Mardi Gras was not for me. I was wrong.  I take it all back.  Unless you are looking for that type of behavior, it's really not like that at all.  

I finally went a few years ago (maybe 4) and I LOVED IT!  My experience was more about the parades, the floats, and catching the goodies thrown from the floats.  It was the happiness in the eyes of kids who had just caught something special thrown to them from an elaborately designed float.  It was the cheering on of the creative people everywhere.  It was a city, turned family for the weekend. It was eye candy on every corner. Carnival. History. Tradition. FUN. This year, Mardi Gras (aka, Fat Tuesday) is Tuesday, February 9th.  

It was also during the Mardi Gras celebrations where I first tried shrimp and alligator cheesecake from Jacques Imo's. And it changed my life. You see, I hate cheesecake. The smell of it makes me want to puke. In fact, cheesecake tastes like throw up to me.  I can't explain it. But something in my genetic makeup doesn't allow me to enjoy cheesecake. Unless, it's shrimp and alligator cheesecake. I can get down on on some shrimp and alligator cheesecake.  

I was thumbing through a magazine at work one day and I came across this holy grail of a recipe:


So I ripped it out of the magazine, shocked quite frankly, that Chef would even THINK about giving this recipe away. I mean is nothing sacred? And I held onto it until the next Fat Tuesday, when I would whip it up and serve it!  I was wrong, I take it all back.  

I got home from work around 3 that day and started working on gathering the ingredients I needed, which included a trip to buy a springform pan, cause I didn't have one, and I couldn't find alligator sausage so I went with andouille (pronounced on-DOO-ee, for those of you who don't know). It's now 4:30, so I start the step by step process of making this thing. There is some prep work. Cutting onion and bell pepper.  Getting the cream cheese to a workable temp. Shredding cheese. Peeling and deveining shrimp (my least favorite kitchen task on the planet). None of which I thought about before hoping to have this dinner ready to surprise my biggest New Orleans fan and foodie when he walked in the door. 

It's now 5:30, but I keep chipping away at each step.  And I'm doing it with the New Orleans Funk station blaring on Pandora, so there's really no stopping me now. So the cheesecake goes into the oven around 6:15, and I see that step number 7 says to bake for 90 minutes.  So ok, dinner will be ready at 7:45. That's a little late, but not too late for shrimp and andouille cheesecake from Jacques Imo's on Fat Tuesday. But then I see step 8.  I now have to let this bitch cool for 60-90 minutes and THEN cover and refrigerate it for 3-4 hours???  You have GOT to be kidding me?  I am crushed.  There will be no cheesecake tonight for Fat Tuesday.  So all my previous tasks have been a waste at this point.  

But then I think to myself, no way am I going to spend all this time on this thing and not eat it tonight.  So I let it cool for 40 minutes and then I stick it into the freezer for 25 minutes.  Whip up the creole sauce and serve it around 9:00ish.  I hate eating this late.  But it's pretty spot on to the original recipe from Jacques Imo's, minus about 3 hours of time I should have let it sit and refrigerate and subbing the andouille for the alligator sausage.  

The morals of the story are:
1. Always read a recipe from start to finish before diving into it head first hoping to have it ready at a reasonable hour. 
2. Never judge anything by something you first saw on MTV.
3. Always partake in a day that encourages you to eat too much, drink too much, dance too much and laugh too much. Too much is good for you every once in a while!  

Laissez les bons temps rouler!!

  





Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Music. The Verb.

Here's something that might blow your mind.  I moved to Memphis.  On purpose.  I wasn't forced.  I wasn't paid to live here.  I actually moved AWAY from the beach to live in Memphis. Not because I'm crazy. Not because I was running from the law. Because when I came to visit Memphis in 2002, I fell in love with Memphis.

It's the people mostly. Everyone is so friendly and accommodating here. If you're lost, just ask!  People love to give you directions. Need a recommendation on what to do? Again, ask someone. People who live in Memphis LOVE to talk about Memphis. They LOVE to point you to the hidden gems of their city. Nothing is too private or too exclusive. If it's good enough for them, it's good enough for you!

Then there's the food. I'm not even talking about the BBQ.  I dig BBQ, and I love the dry rub technique of Memphis, because BBQ sauce is just not my jam. But again, I'm not even talking about the BBQ.  I'm talking about the love that these people put into their food. You can taste every ounce of passion.

And of course, I didn't forget the music! This is the birthplace of Rock n' Roll baby! And I am a rockstar in my dreams. A non-instrument playing, knock you over dead in a karaoke bar singing, dances like Elaine from Seinfeld rockstar in my dreams (ok and in real life too). I remember being at a North Mississippi Allstars show at the New Daisy. The Gamble Brothers Band opened for them. I danced. My ass off. With no worries in the world. And I thought to myself, how have I not heard this sound before? Why was it not all over the radio? It was the most delicious music to my ears! And it was at that show that I told myself I would live in Memphis as soon as I could.

And today I have surrounded myself with beautiful friends and people I love dearly. And we get together to music. The verb, music. We music the shit out of life together! And fortunately we live in a great city to music. So when we find ourselves all off of work and able to get together to music, we go all out. Here's our spread at the Hall & Oates show. Ok, so we music and we food. It's what we do here in Memphis.


It's easy to music and food. You just get a few of your favorite people together. Find some music that you like (it's not hard, at least it's not in Memphis). Assign each couple or person a food item to bring (in this case, a cheese person, a meat person and an olive, nut and condiment person). Sit down and lay out your amazing spread. Pop open your favorite wine or local Memphis beer. Enjoy each other.  Listen to music. Dance. Laugh. Laugh at the people dancing. Dance with the people you laugh at. Make new friends. Food. Music. The verb.

I learned how to Music in Memphis. And here I am. Almost 14 years later. Happy to be here. Fortunate enough to be surrounded by music at my job. Fortunate enough to have many musical playing and loving friends. And it's not perfect. Nothing is. There's crime. There's poverty. There's corrupt politics. But open your eyes people. That shit is everywhere! Ever heard of a place called Manitowoc? Maybe if the people in Manitowoc musiced more often...

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Curry Chicken Pot Pie-yi-yi


It's freaking cold! The heat is on. I hate turning the heat on. Normally, I don't turn on the heat until I can see my breath in my house. I hate heaters. They suck the life out of me and out of my skin. But when it starts to get cold enough to wear a cardigan (and if you know me, a cardigan is what I consider a Winter coat), that's when I start craving my favorite winter foods.  Chicken and dumplings, Beef Stroganoff, Beef Stew, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Spaghetti Carbonara, Chili.  You know, those kinds of foods that make you feel like you're wrapped up in a blanket while you're eating them.  Those kinds.

Today, I made Chicken Pot Pie.

Here's What You Need:
Olive Oil
2 tablespoons of butter
Salt and Pepper
2 chicken breasts (or thighs, or rotisserie leftovers, but I had 2 breasts)
2 carrots, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 heaping tablespoons of flour
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon curry
1 1/2 cups of chicken stock
1 egg (for egg wash)

Pie crust (make you're own. I know you're busy, but mine took me 5 minutes to make...it's so much better tasting and better for you. I even made mine the day before.).

Here's How I Did It:
I roasted 2 chicken breasts with some salt and pepper and some olive oil, at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.  Allow to cool, then dice the chicken.

Lower oven temperature to 375.  I then diced up 2 carrot sticks, 2 celery sticks, 1/2 an onion and the garlic.  I also thew in a handful of diced fennel, because for some reason I had a hankering to buy fennel at the store.  Saute the carrot, onion and celery in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter for about 3 minutes, until they are soft.  Add in the garlic and cook another minute.  Salt and Pepper.  Add in 2 heaping tablespoons of flour and cook another 2 minutes.  Add in 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock, 1 teaspoon of Turmeric, and 1 tablespoon of curry.  Mix until thickened, about 3-5 minutes.  If the mixture is too thick, add in more chicken stock.  You want it to be thicker though, not like soup.  Add in the diced chicken and stir to incorporate.

Get a pie pan and fill the pan with the chicken mixture.  Take your crust out of the fridge.  Roll the crust out large enough to cover the pie pan and then some.  Cover the filling with the crust and crimp the edges.  Make these with any leftover crust you might have! Place the pie pan on a baking sheet because shit ALWAYS spills out the sides.  Cut a few vent holes in the crust and brush with an egg wash.  Cook for 25-30 minutes, keeping an eye that your crust isn't burning.

Then cool for 20 minutes.  Then warm your heart with comforting food.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Never Enough Muff


Usually when I go grocery shopping without a plan, I come back with things I don't need.  A block of cheese I've never had.  Chocolate. Chips. A weird fruit or vegetable I've never tried. But the other day I came back with some shit I would never in a million years buy.  I'm not sure what the grocery Gods were trying to tell me, but they took over my body and forced me to buy salami and bologna.  I can't tell you the last time I bought bologna.  My guess is about 20 years ago.  And once I bought that, I found myself in the olive aisle, buying an olive spread.  And that's when it hit me. The grocery Gods wanted me to make a muffuletta. And I don't mess with the grocery Gods. They know what's up.  Maybe I needed some New Orleans in my life. Who knows?  I'll tell you who knows... the GROCERY GODS! So I continued on and bought some provolone and some ham.

And then I got to the bread section and wasn't happy with any of my choices.  So on to another store I went.  And their bread options were better, but still, nothing was really blowing up my skirt, so I ended up with a sourdough baguette.  Now don't get all up in arms that I didn't use the correct type of meat, cheese or bread.  Normally a muffuletta is made with ham, salami, mortadella, provolone and mozzarella on an Italian sesame bread.  But this is a not a normal muffuletta.  This is MY muffuletta.  Not yours.  If you want to tell me how wrong I'm doing it, make your own damn muffuletta.  And please don't get me started on how to pronounce it.  That's a whole argument in itself.  Just eat it, don't dwell on it.

After I gathered all the ingredients, I went home and knocked this bad boy out.  And I must say, it was damn good. So if you get a hankerin' for a muff, all you have to do is this:

Here's What You Need:

Bologna or Mortadella (I used 4 thin slices of bologna cut in half so the meat fit on my bread. I also tried mortadella the next time around and must say, it's way more delicious, buttery-er.)
Ham (I used 3 slices)
Salami (I used 3 slices cut in half)
Provolone (I used 3 slices cut in half)
Olive Salad (Boscoli is my favorite)
Loaf of bread of your choice

Here's What You Do:
Preheat oven to 350.  Cut your loaf in half and scoop out the bread so you have hollowed out bread.  Put the bread in the oven for a few minutes, just to get it a little toasty.  DON'T FORGET ABOUT THE BREAD.  Put your olive salad in a food processor and process it until you have a fine paste.  Take your toasty, unburnt bread out of the oven.  Coat the bottom of your bread with 1/2 of the olive salad (I used a lot because I love olive salad and I like my muffuletta to drip down my arms as I eat it).  Next place the meats and then the cheese or cheeses on.  Top the other half of the bread with olive salad and then place it in the oven for about 20 minutes until the cheese is melty and the bread is crusty.

Another way I do this, is I heat up all the meats first, then assemble the sandwich, then cook for about 5 minutes.  Do what you like.  Either way, you can't go wrong.  It's just a fine ass sandwich.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Bi Bim SLOP




So look, the reality of it is, I knew I wasn't going to be making myself an authentic Bibimbap today.  But I had a bunch of shit in my fridge that I had to cook.  I am trying to not be as wasteful in the New Year, so here's what I came up with.

And look, don't email me freaking out that this isn't an authentic recipe!  I know all too well you crazy people who get your panties in major wads when people don't make authentic recipes but CALL them by the same name.  That's why I didn't call it a Bibimbap.  Pay attention.

Here's What I Did:
Grabbed everything in my fridge or on my countertop that I wanted to put into this recipe.  This included some leftover cilantro-lime rice, baby corn, carrots, spinach, green onion, rosemary ham, garlic, shallot and brown beech mushrooms.

Then I heated up some coconut oil, cooked the shallot, mushrooms and garlic until browned.  Threw in a scoop of rice, a few drizzles of sesame oil and a tablespoon of soy sauce.  I cooked this until the rice had a slight crunch to it.  I then added in the ham and the spinach and stirred until just warmed through.  Then I plated it, added sliced carrots, baby corn and green onions and cilantro.  Topped it with a fried egg and there you have it.  Not a Bimbimbap, but a Bi Bim Slop that will make you slap your momma!

건배 (That's Cheers! in Korean)



Wednesday, May 21, 2014

My Go To


This is my Go To meal.  On any given night I usually have some type of green in my fridge.  I ALWAYS have garlic, shallot and Parmesan.  And I USUALLY have some type of fish or chicken.

I love fish.  But have been kind of discouraged lately by all the farmed fish I see in the grocery store.  I don't want farmed fish.  I realize that farmed fish may be the future of fish, but while we are still able to eat wild fish, I want wild fish.  A long time ago I watched a documentary called Food, Inc.  If you haven't seen it, check it out.  It may or may not make you want to throw up.  I didn't.  It did however make me want to know where my food is from.  And it did impact me in a way that I never want to eat farmed fish.  At least, farmed fish that are fed corn.  That would be like eating deer that was fed catfish.  I don't want to eat deer that tastes like fish.  And I don't want to eat fish that tastes like corn.  I want to eat animals that eat what they are meant to eat.  Not fed food that is not natural to their habitat.  And so that is my long ass rant about why I won't buy farm raised fish until I absolutely have to.

So I found this delicious piece of Corvina at Costco today.  And I must say, I've eaten corvina in restaurants and always liked it.  But it tasted better when I made it.  I think it's just the challenge of cooking something new.  But this is an excellent fish.  I highly recommend it for those a little sketchy about fish, as it has a really mild flavor.

Anyhow...back to my Go To dinner.  The easiest, most delicious way for me to quickly cook up fish or chicken is to saute it and then make a shallot, lemon, caper, butter sauce and add some mixed greens.  Dinner in 15 minutes.  This time was Corvina.

Here's What I Did: 
(This is one of those meals where I don't measure anything, so bear with me) Preheat oven to 400.  Wash and dry your fish.  I cooked 2 fillets.  Heat a skillet over medium high heat and melt 2 tablespoons of coconut oil.  Get your oil super duper hot.  Yes, that's a cooking term.  Super duper hot.  Salt and pepper your fish and add it to the skillet.  Cook for 4 minutes without touching it.  Don't shake the pan.  Don't disturb the fish at all.  When 4 minutes are up put your fish (in your oven proof skillet) in the oven.  Set a timer for 7 minutes.

In the meantime, chop up a shallot and cut a lemon in half.  Chop some parsley and get a tablespoon of butter ready.  Also, have some chicken broth nearby and your capers.  In another skillet add about a tablespoon of olive oil.  Add in the shallot and cook until soft.  Add in the juice of 1 lemon and about 1/4 cup of chicken stock.  Add in 2 tablespoons of capers.

By now your fish is ready.  Take it out and plate it by flipping the fish so that your browned side is face up on the plate.  Add in your tablespoon of butter to your sauce and your parsley.  Top fish with sauce.

There you have it.  Wild corvina with a butter, caper, lemon sauce.  Saute up some greens with some garlic and crushed red pepper, sprinkle with some Parmesan, and you're set.

My Go To dish that will please anyone.    

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