Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I'll be right back with your ketchup, Wes-ley...


I've been reading Chowhound's recipes and posting on their threads for a while, but I never really got into their blogs until I read this story about menu development on "The Grinder". Guerrrilla cooks like me may not be looking to sell the same volume that a restaurant is, but guerrilla cooking is all about adding value (a bourgeois, reactionary expression, I must think of something else) to dishes for a minimum of cost. Instead of "ox tongue kale and cheese ravioli in herb butter" tonight, maybe we can have "Pillows of ox-tongue, red kale, and ricotta salatta dressed with sage brown butter."

What do you think comrades? Is "fluffing" the name of dish fair game or foppery? Discuss!

PS: The same blog also ran this story. Personally, I think this whole thing with the rails is weak sauce. I'm holding out for fully android waiters, perhaps with built-in pepper grinders and anti-cellphone missiles. Continue reading "I'll be right back with your ketchup, Wes-ley...."

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Boiled ox tongue



I've had an ox-tongue brining away in the fridge for the last two weeks or so. Last night, I pulled it out, boiled it up, and served everything with roast roots, and Brussels sprouts a la Leftover Queen. This is how it went down:

Tiffany: Ooh, wow! It's tender.
Eric: Yes, very. It spent three hours in the pot. Much more flavorful than the tacos de lengua I used to have at El Palenque. The brining really paid off nicely. I wish the horseradish weren't so wimpy.
Tiffany: Um, Eric, what's that stuff there.
Eric: Maybe...veins? I guess that's where the tongue is, I mean was, fastened to the bottom of the mouth. Hmm...
Tiffany: And I think...can you try and get the taste buds off better next time? Or maybe smother things up with gravy?
Eric: I don't know, I "peeled" it just the way the cookbook said. And I don't really have any jus for gravy...I guess I could do the whole roux thing, but that's kind of a pain.
Tiffany: The tastebuds are kind of nasty looking.
Eric: But not without a certain irony...
Tiffany: It's great, but I don't know if we should serve it at any dinner parties.
Eric: Yeah. I think it will work nicely in the ravioli this Wednesday.

Read on for the rest of the story.


Boiled Ox Tongue

What's Guerrilla: At $4/pound, tongue is not the least expensive beef at the butcher's. But considering it's tenderness and ability to sneak chameleon-like into a variety of dishes, it's a great deal.
What's Gourmet: Tongue is velvety tender and, after a few weeks in brine, very flavorful.

Ingredients:
One ox tongue, brined. They're about three or four pounds each. I got mine here.
An onion, cut through the middle. No need to peel it here.
A few hearts of celery.
A head of garlic, unpeeled.
A few carrots. (Again, no need for the peeler, just give them a good scrub.)
A bundle of herbs. (I tied up some sprigs of thyme, a few bay leaves, some parsley stems, and the leavy tops of the celery.
A pinch of whole cloves and peppercorns. Stud them into the flesh of your halved onions.
I didn't use any the first time I made this, but I'm sure a leek or two would be lovely.

Method:
Cut your stock vegetables in half, the better to fit in the pot. Nestle tongue, vegetables, and bundled herbs snugly together, cover with water, and bring to a merry boil. Reduce the water to a whispering simmer, and let the tongue get acquainted with it's new friends. After about three hours, spear with a thin, sharp knife. If it's tender and giving, pull the tongue out and rinse under cool water until you can just handle it without scalding yourself. (The outer "skin" won't budge if you let everything go cold.) Starting from the root, "peel" the outer membraney skin off and dispose. Put the tongue aside to rest for a moment before slicing. Serve with the British duo of horseradish and green sauce, or the French trinity of sea salt, mustard, and cornichons.

A note: When all is done, you're left with some spent vegetables and a decent, tasty broth. I really should have saved or served it, but Tiffany and I already had plenty of food for the evening and the freezer is getting a bit crowded.

Continue reading "Boiled ox tongue."

Monday, April 7, 2008

Deep-fried lemons, or, Inspiration

Here at the Guerrilla Gourmet, we don't eat out much. We spend more time in our mountain redount (the kitchen at home), saving money and enjoying the process of cooking itself. But last night we, and a huge posse of young alumni from St. John's College, launched a daring raid on Globe, near Jackson Square. Such raids into more "gourmet" than "guerrilla" territory are pricey, but well worth the money in inspirational value. In fact, I would much rather save up for one $50 meal that teaches me something than blow the same amount on five meals that just stuff my belly.

I really should have brought my camera. Details after the jump!

We had the "Sunday Supper", a seasonal, locally-sourced prix-fixe menu. There were four options for each of four courses. I had beet green and farro soup with beet greens, carrots and barley-like grains in a beety-red broth. Then a salad of potaotes, chopped egg, mint, and olives with anchovy fillets on top. Then braised pork shoulder with brothy gigante beans and sliced baby artichokes. Finally, "Mt. Tam" cheese from the Cowgirl Creamery with toast points and dates. Tiffany had a super-garlicky romaine salad, deep-fried fava beans with deep-fried lemons, seared lamb and bitter greens, and an appley-tarty pastry.

The meal was good but not great. My pork was very tender but bland, the artichokes were fibrous, and the soup was rather bland. Tiffany's fava beans were delicious, but she had to pull the strings out of her teeth and the dressing on her salad literally burned with garlic. Also, the highly-recommended Tilamook mac'n'cheese was just not very Tilamooky. But the anchovy salad with potatoes was fantastic and I seriously considered gnawing the bone of Tiffan'y lamb chop when she was finished. Also, the broth with my pork was very rich and great with the beans. I probably wouldn't go back (it's a bit too much for anything short of perfection) but I was inspired by seeing a professional chef play with the same fresh, seasonal material I have at my own disposal.

A dish is already taking shape in my mind... The next time I'm at Sun Fat, I will pick up some anchovies (or mackerel or sardines, they're all very cheap fish with similar character). At the farmer's market, I'll be on the look out for inexpensive little potatoes, baby artichokes, and meyer lemons. (I know Meyers aren't remotely in season, but in California they bear at least some fruit most of the year.) Gigante beans shouldn't be hard to find either. Grill the fish; roast potatoes and olives then garnish with fresh mint from the garden; sautee slices of artichoke with beans, white wine and garlic. Dredge and deep fry some slice of lemon (and maybe capers?) and toss over all. Hmm...


An intersting note: that afternoon there was an alumni reception at The Waterfront Restaurant on, well, the waterfront. As we were leaving Globe, arund 10:00pm the waiters from the reception came strolling in, presumably jonesing for cocktails. The place is open until one in the morning on weekends, and I gather it's an after-work gathering spot for chefs, waiters, and other industry rogues. Maybe I will go back some late night...
Continue reading "Deep-fried lemons, or, Inspiration."

Shove It in your Face

Week of April 7th

This week we’ll be dealing with two very pressing matters. First, I’m going to be working way too much over at the office (last week of tax season!!) so we’ll be doing lots of pre-prep stuff that can be finished up quickly the night we’re going to eat. Since I work late a lot during this time of the year ,we have to be diligent during the weekends, making sure we plan out the menu and get whatever we can ready while we have the time. That very diligence in pre-prep actually brings us to our second pressing matter, remember this little guy?
Yup, the tongue is finally ready, and I for one will be glad when Schaefer’s “brine bucket” finally vacates my veggie crisper! Since the tongue is huge, much larger than the two of us can do justice to in one meal, we’ll be using it twice this week. Once as a main dish and then again as a ravioli filling. This will be the first time we’ve attempted homemade (nearly) ravioli, and we’re kind of excited. So there you have it - this week’s menu is going to look like this:

Monday: Tongue with Brussels Sprouts and Roasted Roots (turnips and rutabagas) with a decent red wine
Tuesday: Red Enchiladas with Black Beans and Coleslaw with Trader Jose dark.
Wednesday: Tongue Ravioli with Salad with a decent red wine.
Thursday: Blue Cheese Mac with Salad with a decent Pinot Noir
Friday: Pizza with toppings tbd with a somewhat decent red wine
Saturday Brunch: Giant Omelets with a Pinot Grigio Continue reading "Shove It in your Face."

Friday, April 4, 2008

Some Writings on the Wall

Week of March 31st , 2008

Rabbit & Noodles Casserole
Woah, did you just feel that? It was like a hate laser on the back of my neck. Just kidding... but honestly it would probably be best if Damian, or any other vegetarian/vegan/animal lovers that I know, just looked away for a moment.

I understand that bunnies unquestionably equal cute, however bunnies also equal tasty, prolific and inexpensive. This pasta dish highlights the very best of that combination. Forgive me…

Roulade of Wild Seitan, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
Not just because I feel guilty! Well, maybe a little bit… either way, this is an interesting vegetarian spin on a French classic, which everyone can enjoy!

Info about the SF Food Bank, "Guerrilla Shopping" and the answer to what's going on the pizza after the jump.





Visit the San Francisco Food Bank
This is an amazing charity which I am proud to advocate for. I don’t think that any of us on a daily basis truly understands what it is like to need the Food Bank. However we, as food lovers, can appreciate the level to which what we eat, or don’t eat affects our lives. If you’re in the Bay Area please consider giving to the Food Bank, or if money isn’t flowing, then consider volunteering some of your time.

Also, the Food Bank is hosting a night out at AT&T Park where for a 5$ donation, or 5 non-perishable food items you will receive a 50th Anniversary Commemorative Giants Mug. AND! As if that weren’t already enough, Del Monte is matching all food donations. You can purchase tickets here.


Pizza Topping Generator

Okay, who hasn’t had this problem? I know that we make and order pizza enough to always be stuck asking what we want on it. This is a cute generator that makes up interesting pizza combinations.

The Chicago Tribune's version of “Guerrilla Shoping”


While I don’t entirely agree with them, they have some good suggestions. I agree with their idea of shopping around, but I’d caution against blowing gas in order to do it. While I agree with them that buying bulk saves money, I would actually suggest trying to avoid it altogether. Buying in bulk, or cooking in bulk, tends to become a bit of an elephant in the room. “Pasta again?” “Yeah, we bought ten pounds of it.” “Oh…” Instead, buy seasonally and locally if you can.

Also, as much as I would love to have a “well stocked” pantry, many of us can’t afford to actually –start- that pantry. When we first started working on our pantry I remember physically wincing everytime I saw what those spices cost – and no, you do not have a “well stocked” pantry unless you have at least one of the following: saffron, vanilla beans or Schezchun Peppers. If you do have those things then you know my pain! Instead of relying on creating your own “well-stocked” pantry, I would suggest talking to friends, family and neighbors, and create a communal or group pantry. That way no one is biting the bullet alone, but of course that does mean that if you ask to borrow some vanilla for a cake, you’ll probably have to share!

Photo: Woman Grinding Maize by Diego Rivera, 1924, courtesy of Humanities Interactive.

Continue reading "Some Writings on the Wall."

All the world’s a buzz

As you may have already noticed, things have been changing around here.

Beginning this month, we have partnered with Foodbuzz.com, whose loverly ads you’ll see featured above this very post. “Oh, yucky advertisements, yucky yuck,” you may be thinking. “What are they doing?” You might ask. Well, I invite you to explore Foodbuzz.com a little bit before judging us too harshly. We haven’t sold out, not even close. First off, Foodbuzz.com is a San Francisco based company, and we’re always happy to see food excitement here in the bay. Also, we had a profile on Foodbuzz.com before becoming a Featured Publisher, and we have loved exploring the site. The site is a searchable collection of food blogs, restaurant reviews and recipes. So, go ahead and give them a chance before anyone gets all uppity about consumerism and capitalism, I venture to say you might even enjoy it!

In honor of our newest friends, I’ve picked out a couple of my personal favorite finds to share with y’all.

As seen on Foodbuzz.com:
Continue reading "All the world’s a buzz."

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Shove It in Your Face!


I haven't been posting hardly at all this week. What's up with that? Mostly I've been in the garden getting a compost pile up and rotting, clearing out a deep rooted nest of blackberry vines, thinning out seedlings, and willing my plants to grow tall and be fertile. In other words, I've been bitten by the gardening bug harder than I expected.

But we'll been having fun in the kitchen this week, too. There's more offal AND an interesting vegetarian experiment. I'm also very excited to finally pull the ox-tongue out my brine bucket (actually, it's more of a brine bag.)


Monday: Heart of pork stuffed with onion and herbs. Celery root gratin. Beets with their greens. Green garlic soup to start.
Tuesday: Tag-team lasagna with (jar) bolognese sauce and roasted mushrooms, carrots, and chard.
Wednesday: Persian "polo", a pilaffy dish made with rice, dried fruit, spinach and seitan (rather than lamb). This recipe comes from fellow blogger Taylor.
Thursday: Pasta in gorgonzola sauce with carmelized onions and mushrooms.
Friday: Unless inspiration strikes swiftly and decisively, it's probably gonna be takeout. Pizza? Chinese? Thai? Japanese? We haven't ordered Indian in a while...
Saturday: Ox-tongue with beets, potatoes, and whatever looks good in produce aisle. Haven't had asparagus in a while, but it can be pricey...

Cheers! Continue reading "Shove It in Your Face!."