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Alive and well!

16 Dec

Hello all, it’s been awhile and I’m sorry about that, but as Nerf 1 pointed out I recently moved to Chicago and am just starting to get settled down. Even though it’s mid December, the weather here has been surprisingly warm for the past six weeks I’ve been here but we had our first really big rainy day yesterday. What better dish for lunch than soup on a rainy day? But I didn’t want just Campbell’s chicken soup, I wanted something healthy with some saltiness and not too much fuss so I went to my go to favorite dish of udon with shitake mushrooms and spinach. It’s not quite a soup because there isn’t a bowl full of broth but I really love it because it’s easy and quick to make.  I got the recipe about a year ago off of NPR from an article all about tofu but because the recipe is so simple I don’t follow it exactly. For example, the recipe calls for about 10 shitake mushrooms, but I love mushrooms so much I add about 20 and a mixture of shitake and oyster. Basically I use whatever amount of whatever I have (half a bag of spinach instead of the instructed 4 cups of spinach) and it comes out tasty every time. Here is the recipe but tweak it however you’d like!

Image

1 tsp of toasted sesame oil

1 block of tofu (I use extra firm for easiness), cubed

2 teaspoons of olive oil (I honestly forgot about this ingredient all the times I’ve made this. I just either use the toasted sesame oil left behind or use a little more from the bottle).

6 cloves of garlic, sliced

10 shitake mushrooms, sliced with stems removed

4 cups of spinach

4 Tbs of soy sauce (I use low sodium soy sauce because I find regular soy sauce way too salty for my taste)

2 Tbs of sesame seeds

2 bunches of udon

Instructions:

  1. Cook the udon according to the package instructions.
  2. Over medium heat, heat the toasted sesame oil in a pan.
  3. Lightly fry all sides of the tofu cubes; when finished put in a bowl and set aside.Image
  4. Now add the olive oil to the same pan and add the garlic cooking for a few minutes over low heat.
  5. Add the mushrooms and a tiny bit of water; cook until tender.
  6. Add the spinach and soy sauce and cook until spinach is wilted.Image
  7. After being drained, add udon noodles and mix into vegetables.
  8. Toss in tofu and sesame seeds.
  9. Enjoy!Image
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A Most Interesting Night…

17 Jul

San Diego was alive and bumpin’ last Thursday night with the first night of Comic-Con officially in full swing.  My partner in crime, Pablano and I didn’t make our way to the Gaslamp but to the Marina 5 Penthouse in Little Italy. There we took the elevator to the top floor of the building where we were greeted by masked hostesses in a swanky penthouse with a beautiful view of the San Diego skyline. Why were we there? We were representing this very blog, Nerds with Food, at a culinary event sponsored by Dos ImageEquis (yes the beer).  Dos Equis’ “Most Interesting Academy” teamed up with chef Craig Thornton, who operates the covert operation known as the Wolvesden up in Los Angeles, to bring some lucky San Diegans and visitors from all walks of life a true culinary experience. Wolvesden is an underground supper club where Thornton and his team cook for a small invite-only group at a private residence, which is exactly what happened Thursday night here in San Diego.  But, why here in SD? Why now? I had the amazing opportunity to ask Thornton himself, in which he responded: “What I want to do here in San Diego was bring this retreat from the craziness and chaos of Comic-Con. We had two meals today, the first attended by Comic-Con visitors and the second by artists working at the event. I want to give them something so completely different from con food [such as pretzels, corndogs, nachos, etc.] and give them something completely unexpected.” Thornton clearly accomplished what he set out to do when I heard one of my fellow eaters proclaim, “This is the most un-Comic-Con thing I’ve ever done in San Diego.”Image

Now for the good stuff—the food! For our first course we had a pimento cheese sauce, with a cheese fritter, and spring onion all under a piece of grilled savory steak. We were off with a bang. The second course, which was a personal favorite, was a light and flavorful corn chowder. The warm corn chowder was sprinkled with chunks of fresh cold crab; the two contrasting temperatures were so great. Seared halibut with polenta made up the third course. Now, the next half of the meal was truly amazing. For the fourth course we had a mélange of beans, haricots verdes and yellow beans, and fruit such as golden beet and peach with a crispy potato skin. Now here’s the kicker: this mélange was brought together with cool and tangy horseradish sprinkled with cocoa-coffee “soil.” A-MA-ZING!!! This was Paul’s favorite dish of the night, and was one of the most memorable dishes I have ever eaten. ImageWhen I asked Thornton how he chose his dishes for the evening, it was this dish that he really focused on. “This dish is farmer’s market on a plate, I went to the farmer’s market and bought so much—they were really happy with me! I wanted to put the best of the farmer’s market and contrast it with the soil. We make the soil by mixing the cocoa and coffee and making almost a cookie, then we ground it up. I wanted this dish to serve as a bridge from the halibut, which is somewhat Italian, to the Mexican al pastor dish.”  Mission accomplished; this was one great dish that refreshed the palate and lead to another fantastic dish: the al pastor dish. This was incredible! It consisted of a delicate pork belly that Imagedid not over power the accompanying ingredients of caramelized pineapple, radish slices, a slice of creamy avocado and a scrumptious fried tortilla ball all tied together with a sinfully tasty al pastor sauce. As if that was not enough of a treat, dessert threw me back to my childhood days. Okay, maybe it wasn’t the concentrated strawberries over crumbled short cake topped with whipped crème fraiche with a hint of lime juice, but it was definitely the incorporation of pop rocks in the dessert that took me back. What a fantastic way to elevate a dish that much higher, giving it a tangible layer that brought a smile to every person at our table. Truly memorable! This is a meal I will never forget. Image

I want to thank everyone at the event for an interesting and memorable meal, because atmosphere is also included in the meal experience. First, I’d like to thank Dos Equis for sponsoring the event. I’d like to thank Bjorn for being so nice and hospitable, all of the artists working the Comic-Con event for the lively conversation, the masked hostesses and bartender for never letting me or anyone else end up with an empty beer bottle in our hands, and of course to Craig Thornton and his hard working team for filling our bellies with some of the best food I’ve ever had.

‘Tis the Saison to be Jolly…

22 Dec

Well maybe not the consumption season but traditionally it is the brewing season for my favorite types of brew: the Saison. I remember my first rendezvous with a saison well. Like a bored housewife I was lured by the intrigue and excitement of this unfamiliar style…you, you’re new, and I’ve never had this taste in the past…

Ok, so I’m exaggerating a bit. My co-worker and I wanted to get smashed during our lunch hour; and where can we successfully get smashed and call it “lunch?”…Karl Strauss to the rescue!  Their special brew for that month was their saison and I was intrigued by the description of “floral tones” and what not (or whatever, as stated I got pretty inebriated so I can’t remember). However, what I drank that afternoon was nothing short of spectacular; I instantly fell in love with this brew.

This event happened maybe about two and a half years ago and ever since then, if I ever see a saison on draft at a bar (like tapping out the keg at Hamilton’s and getting the glass for free, score!), I must get it. What I have found is that a saison differs greatly from brewer to brewer but I still find it delicious. For the most part saisons are not very hoppy, have floral and fruity components as well as some spice and they are always very refreshing.

So for our blog I decided to hit up BevMo and choose two bottled saisons, the only requirement for choosing a specific brewery was that the beer had to be cheap. This type of brew was, after all, made on farms to give to farmhands in the hot hot heat of the summer.

Pablano and I got our hands dirty. First up was Hermitage’s 1 Door Saison Style Ale, which was very cheap (I think less than $3!). The color was an orange-brown and very clear (usually saisons are unfiltered since they are/used to be brewed in such a rustic manner on farms. The flavor was not very strong– it was pretty spicy and a little floral.

 

Next up was Odonata’s Saison Ale. At around $6 for a bottle it was a tad pricier however, this saison was a bit more fun. First off, the color was more golden and it was most definitely unfiltered. Because I had not thought of it at the moment, I wasn’t careful about pouring and lots of sediment was in my glass. But I let the sediment settle as I polished off my previous glass of 1 Door saison. Another thing that was different about this pour was that there was a lot more head compared to the former. The flavor was definitely stronger than the former, with some spice, a little bit of sweetness and some citrus fruit flavors (I think I remember reading that it had some pineapple in it). Very refreshing!! This was exactly what farmers wanted to do: brew a cheap refreshing beer.

But who am I kidding…I am not a beer sommelier or connoisseur I just love any excuse to drink lots of beer, especially saisons!

**Authors note: I think I still like Karl Strauss’s saison more. I will most definitely have to try Green Flash’s saison next. Beer run anyone?

Eh, what up doc?

22 Sep

I know, can you believe it–I nerf #3 is still alive, and still cooking and eating! Firstly, Big Ups to nerf #2 Allison for providing everyone with some fantastic information and posts for some tasty eats!

Restaurant Week is coming up soon here in San Diego, so during a mind-numbingly boring employment session I decided to look at the menus being offered by participating restaurants. All of the menus that I looked at seemed uninspired, except for two menus that were serving…rabbit. I thought this was awesome and my fantastic Pablano took it one step further; we would cook a rabbit dish at home. So on Monday night, after flipping through the bible (Jacques Pepin’s Complete Techniques) we decided to cook a rabbit stew. This was my first time eating and cooking rabbit and I had so much fun learning how to butcher a whole rabbit and finally eating the end product!

The interesting thing about rabbit is that it is quite healthy. It has 10.2% fat and is 792 calories per pound, which is less than chicken and also has the highest percentage of protein than most other meats consumed.

Pepin used white wine but since we had quite a few bottles of reds we found a red wine recipe. Also, we decided to serve the stew over couscous; we wanted a different starch from the usual rice.

Aren't those kidneys the cutest things you've ever seen?

Ingredients used:

1 3lb rabbit to be quartered

3-4 slices of bacon

1.5 cups of sliced onions

3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

3 Tbs of flour

1 14.5 oz. can of beef broth

0.25 cup of red wine (we chose to use a Cabernet Sauvignon)

1 tsp dried thyme

2 tsp dried parsley

2 bay leaves

salt and pepper to taste

1. Quarter the rabbit; I used my boning knife which worked fine but you can definitely use a chef’s knife for a couple of the bones.

Who needs culinary school when there's YouTube?

2. Using a Dutch or French oven, cook the slices of bacon on medium high heat until cooked. Remove bacon strips leaving the bacon grease in the oven.

3. Add the onions and garlic to the hot bacon grease and cook for 5 minutes or until translucent.

4. Place the rabbit pieces into the oven and saute until golden brown.

5. Sprinkle the rabbit pieces with the flour and stir well; cook for about 2-3 minutes.

6. Pour the beef broth and the red wine in with the rabbit and add the dried spices.

7. Cover the oven and simmer on low heat for about an hour.

8. At the end of the hour add salt and pepper to taste; stir.

9. Serve stew over a starch; we used couscous but I’m sure mashed potatoes would be great (if you’re into that sort of thing).

10. Enjoy!

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!!!! Day 1

11 Jul

Darlene here to report that I have taken on a new project today. I’m very excited about growing my own tomatoes. I essentially cheated and bought the tomato plant already seeded but that’s because it’s already pretty late in the season. I should have seeded in April or so but it’s ok, it will be a trial run. Hopefully next year I will seed before the season starts. I also plan on adding some herbs to my project. Status posts will be put up every so often. Hopefully I don’t kill the tomatoes!

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