Monday, September 29, 2008

Shove it in Your Face!

Greetings comrades! Unfortunately, you've already had to hear about the failing economy and the most recent failures of national banks. You've probably already heard tips on what to do, what to expect and how to plan for your future. But, if you're a fan of this blog, then we hope that you feel proud, and maybe even a bit smug, because you've already been economizing in your kitchens. We believe that the guerrilla gourmet movement shouldn't be tied to losing stocks, but to making stocks; and shouldn't rely on the happiness of fat cats, but instead on the happiness of hip cats. Okay, maybe the last one was a bit of a stretch, but honestly? Schaefer's usually the one who spins our vision of the guerrilla in the gourmet, I'm just plain creative and a bit cheap. I want to eat as well as I can, but I also need to be able to pay next month's rent. Therefore, as times are getting tighter and leaner, I'm hopeful that our recipes, insights and outlooks maybe able to help us all get through this! With that being said, I still would rather have our portion of the bailout to cook dinner with...
This week's menu after the jump...
Monday: Red Chile Empanadas with Black Beans and Spanish Rice. Lager. Tuesday: Quiche with warmed spinach salad. White Wine. Wednesday: Green Chile Stew with Corn muffins. Lager. Thursday: Colcannon. Lager. Friday: Schaefer's blow-out birthday dinner, details to come. I'm thinking red, red wine.
Photo: Schaefer trims the fat, off a ham hock and our budget.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Jottings

"...Sometimes a food that looks strange can be quite pleasant in ways you don't expect. I have fond memories of the time I ate a squirming live octopus tentacle in Korea—not only did it taste pretty good, it also brought fond memories of a woman who used to twirl her tongue while French kissing." -Tim Wu
Photo: Courtsey of Flickr user, fboosman

Friday, September 26, 2008

Writings on the Wall

Roasted Vegetable Couscous Salad with Harissa Dressing Dina Sarhan, often called the Martha Stewart of the Middle East, brings together my favorite ingredients to create an amazing salad. With the holiday season coming up, this dish could easily become anyone's signature pot-luck contribution! Plus, her website features this amazingly useful, category detail search.
Ancient Egyptian recipe inspires modernized brew Brewers at Dogfish Head breathe new life into an ancient cocktail, the Midas Touch Ale. Using university anthropological studies, they were able to create a modern ale involving, among other ingredients, Sake yeast and chrysanthemum flowers. While we know that the ale is distributed by DBI beverages in the area, but we can't figure out where to try the stuff...so, if you've see it around, or tried it, let us know!
After the jump - Cooking judgements, Trumpets of Death, and a hungry Eric Schlosser...
The Dish on Being a Cooking a Judge in a Cooking Contest Ever wonder if you had what it took to be a judge for a contest like Iron Chef? Well, Marlene Parrish, of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, was invited to judge two back-to-back cooking contests and has all the gooey details! Red Mullet stuffed with Trumpets of Death and wrapped in Ham...on a bed of Romesco and Potatoes. As if the name wasn't enough to get someone interested, Nuria, of Spanish Recipes, serves up a recipe that is guaranteed to drive your palate crazy. Her creative use of a rather untested fishy and boutique mushrooms combined with traditional jambon is a must try for this fall. Eric Schlosser is Hungry for Change Author Eric Schlosser speaks candidly about boutique tomatoes and the workers who endure slave-like conditions. Part of Edible Nation's "Hungry for Change" promotional tour for the upcoming documentary Food. Inc.
Photo: Courtesy of Ultraclay(dot)com

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Artful Eater

Two weeks ago we had the rare pleasure of an audience with three incredibly wise men. While they left their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh at home, they did bestow their own personal, and unique, brand of extravagance upon us. And, in this day and edible age, what exactly would one want with any traditional anointment anyway, when instead one could enjoy sustainable wines, supple ham and stunning mortadella? Our point exactly! The three wise men were summoned to the west coast by following the lustrous star of Slow Food Nation and gathered together that very afternoon to throw caution to the wind and disclose the wisdom of their trades to hungry devotees. We, mere plebeians, were sent forth, by our philosopher kings in order to report back on these wise men, and their secrets....so without further ado, we happily invite you to enjoy a bit of what we like to think of as...
“Free Head: An Olde World Approach.”
High-flown prose aside, Foodbuzz scored us tickets to a Slow Food Nation "Slow Sips and Charcuterie Snacking" taste workshop, where we got a chance to meet Sam Edwards of the Virginia Traditions Smokehouse, Marc Pastore of Incanto and Boccalone, and Kenneth Rochford from Medloch-Ames winery. We and two dozen industry professional, sampled two excellent salty pork products and accompanying "sustainable" wines and learned a little about modern preserved meat and what to drink with it. On the plate was a great prosciutto-style ham from Virginia Traditions and Mortadella from the Fatted Calf. This was more intense ham than I was used to; more "porky" and with a good, dark grain to it. Each ham ages for at least 400 days, and ours had been "hanging out" for 700! That is some very slow food... I don't usually like the fine, squishy texture of mortadella, but this one was rougher and more flavorful. In the glass, we had a 2007 rose and a 2001 merlot, both from the Bell Mountain vineyard in Alexander Valley. Rochford explained that while most roses get their blush from soaking the grapes' skin it the juice briefly, in this wine, the skins are left in for five days. The result has the same dry, light body and citrusy character of classic rose, but with a darker tint and a tannic edge that stands up better to strongly-flavored meat. The merlot was more robust and "Old World" than what you usually find in California, with intense fruit and An excellent complement, but not so unique as the rose. "So", you should be asking, "what's so special about this meat? What makes this 'Slow Food'?" If you're us, you are also be asking, "why should I be ready to pay so much more for what looks, on the surface, like very fancy packaging?" It's become pretty clear to me that the current meat industry is unsustainable, but it is not so clear to me what the alternative is. I've been cynical about its motives in the past, but could the Slow Food movement hold the answer? Apart from a few technical digressions on the fat content of plum-fed pigs versus cranberry-fed pigs, the panel focused largely on the question of "sustainability." Here in San Francisco, I usually roll my eyes and get ready to reach for my wallet every time I hear the word, "sustainable", especially after visiting SFN's beautiful, over-priced "farmer's market." There is way too much hype and marketing surrounding "sustainability" when it comes to food, so I was excited to hear from some people on the inside. To Rochford that means making room for symbiotic animals around the vineyard, brining in miniature cattle and sheep to keep the weeds down and fertilize the soil, using native yeasts in their wine, selling and distributing locally, and paying a fair wage. For Boccalone and Incanto, that means buying naturally-fed and humanely-raised animals, making use of every part of that animal, and (oddly enough) eating less meat. Like he said, "We're carnivores, but we're trying to eat less meat in a greater variety." He does concede, however, that it is hard to get people to go along with their idea when "two or three generations have grown up without even tasting liver or kidneys." Pastore's advice on learning more about cooking those things that I've never tasted was simple: "go to Italy" and "Ask your butcher." It was actually Edwards' view that amusd me the most. When I asked him what his father or grandfather might have thought about the idea of sustainability, he said simply, "That's just the way we raied them when I was a kid." After talking to the panelists, I felt a bit less cynical about the idea of . Places like Boccalone, Virginia Traditions, and Medloch-Ames are building a new food-business model from, literally, the ground up and in deciding always to err on the side of art over commerce they are doing something I respect. I may not be able to afford to be an "early adopter", but I share their goals, and even if I don't see myself going to Italy anytime soon, I will follow Pastore's advice and talk to my butcher more.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Writings on the Wall

Streaky bacon looses to the sorbet at UK food awards The Great Taste Awards 2008 were held this week in the UK, and with record level participation and a few record breaking upsets. Explore the award winning foods on their website and discover the new and unique foods available. Lamb berbere with grilled vegetables, jalapeƱo pesto and smoked tomato orzo I've been in love with Berbere since I discovered how easy and inexpensive Ethiopian stews were, but Heather over at Gild the (Voodoo) Lily takes it to a whole new level. The lamb and orzo are a perfect combination for entertaining or just a weeknight meal. Ohh, plus, I can just imagine how tasty those leftover lamb sandwiches would be the next day!
Even more amazing foodstuffs and stuff about food after the jump...
Empanada of the Month--Empanadas Margaritas We love making homemade Empanadas, but we're mere amateurs compared with the genius and art that Rebecca, of From Argentia with Love, puts into her recipes. This month's empanada uses tomato and basil, combining italian flavor with an amazing empanada crust and creates an amazing fusion food! Time-savers choosing grocery-prepped foods According to a recent CNN article, more people are purchasing pre-prepared foods at grocery stores lately. Now, don't get me wrong, I am a total sucker for the roasted chicken at our local market, and their deli sandwiches cannot be denied, go ahead I dare you to try! But, we want to know what you think. Grocery-prepped foods, an expensive or efficient short-cut? Blackberry Fest I cannot imagine too many blackberries...but then again, I'm an absolute nut over berries in general, so maybe thats just me! Taylor of Mac & Cheese serves up a nice combination of different recipes which will having you seeing black(berries) day and night! Bonus, her photographs are pure pleasure...note to self, must buy blackberries this weekend!
Photo: Upper right, "I Dream," courtesy of Ultraclay(dot)com.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Burrito Justice

In response to recent taco truck closures one San Franciscan created this shirt. In response to a rash of shootings he adds, "Don't fuck with my Mission or I'll turn you into Al Pastor."

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Playing with our food

Why Weekends are Fun.... Eric makes this: and then Tiffany makes this:

Tomato Pulp

We love making pizzas and calzones with fresh from the farmer's market ingredients and delicious varieties of cheese...but we absolutely hate the soggy crusts and mushy toppings which pizza sauce so often causes. Then, we discovered...tomato pulp! This easy, fresh addition will add serious pizazz to your pizza, plus leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to a week (great for quick pasta lunches!) or canned for a taste of summer this winter. It is essential to use ripe tomatoes for the pulp, but its not necessary to use the "prettiest" tomatoes. We've had really great results using slightly bruised and ugly heirloom tomatoes (dirt cheap at your local farmer's market, right before the vendors pack up to leave!) You can also play around with the different varieties of tomatoes in order to create sweet, tart or colored pulps.
Full Recipe and details after the jump...
What's Guerrilla: Tomato pulp is easy to make and easy to save. It's uses are nearly unlimited, pizza or calzone sauce, pasta sauce, a sandwich spread...etc. And, as mentioned earlier, it's the flavor quality of the tomatoes that matters, not necessarily the visual quality, so tomato pulp is a great utilizer of ugly and almost over-ripened tomatoes. What's Gourmet: This tomato pulp pops with seasonal flavor and intense citrus notes. The vibrancy of the slow braised tomatoes is reminiscent of summertime and sun-dried tomatoes, and can be used to accent any number of complex flavors in entree dishes. The Minutia: Don't freak out when you make the pulp, because you're basically cooking down a pound or so of tomatoes into a half cup of pulp. The pulp is incredibly rich and you really can use a lot less than your typical tomato sauce! This recipe yields sufficient pulp to lightly sauce for either two calzones or a 14-16 inch pizza, with dipping sauce for the crusts while your eating. You can always double, triple or quadruple the recipe (your only limitation being availability and pan size!) if you want to ensure leftovers. The Means: 1 1/4 pounds ripe tomatoes -We use Early Girls or SF Fogs, but any ripe tomatoes will do! 3 tablespoons Extra-virgin Olive Oil 1-2 cloves of minced garlic * 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes * 1 teaspoon of oregeno * Salt and Pepper to taste * These ingredients are optional, but strongly encouraged! The Method: * Blanch, peel, seed and drain the tomatoes. (I use the Dame Child's method.) * Smush tomatoes with either a) food processor, b) potato masher or c) hands! I am an obvious fan of option "C," but you can use which ever method you prefer so long as the tomatoes are blended into a chunky puree. * Mix in red pepper flakes, oregeno, salt and pepper and set aside. * Heat oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic becomes fragrant and soft, but not browned (roughly 1-3 minutes.) * Add tomato puree and simmer, uncovered, stiring occasionally, until almost all the liquid is evaporated. This can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on the tomatoes and the heat...just be patient, it's totally worth it. You'll know your done when you drag the spoon through the pulp and the liquid does not "fall" into the spoon canyon. Check your seasoning throughout, adding salt and pepper as needed. * Once the pulp is done, allow to rest and come to room temperature before using. You can refrigerate the pulp for up to a week (always remember to bring it to room temp. before using!) or jar it for longer preservation.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Jottings

“They take great pride in making their dinner cost much; I take my pride in making my dinner cost so little.”
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Writings on the Wall

Writings on the Wall, Slow Food Edition. I swear I couldn't move last weekend without someone telling me to "come to the table," so a lot of these links are about, you guessed it, Slow Food. Hangover Observations on Slow Food Nation: We only got to see a tiny slice of the Slow Food Nation pie, so I've relied on Eater SF for vicarious pleasure. The Challenges of Slow Food: Just about everyone in San Francisco was gushy over Slow Food Nation, including me, so it was nice to get a little East Coast view on the subject. It gets a bit graphic from here... Porchetta di Testa: Just to warn you, this one's a bit graphic. Last weekend we went to a little workshop on tasty salted pig parts. Here is the chef at Incanto and co-owner of Boccalone demonstrating how they make their (in)famous "porchetta di testa." Ten worst drinks. I'll stick to Scotch, neat... Pickle Lab: A few weeks ago, I made some pickles. They were quite good, but I could have saved myself a lot of trouble by playing around in the pickle lab first.
Photo by pixelm. Thanks.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Shove it in Your Face!

Lately, we've been trying to plan our menus a full two weeks ahead in order to save on trips to the grocery store. It's been rather a challenge, since there is just no really good way to predict when you are going to run out of, say, pine nuts. So I guess that until we hire a full-time Garde Manger, we'll just have to stay on top of it as best we can. The picture on the left is of a delicious pot-roast pie we made this weekend with a Horseradish and Chive Havarti Crust. It was a spectacular success, and clean up was incredibly easy! We'll post the recipe as soon as we work on the minutiae! Before we forget, this last weekend at Slow Food Nation, Foodbuzz scored us tickets to a "Slow Sips and Charcuterie taste workshop", where we got a chance to meet Sam Edwards of the Virginia Traditions Smokehouse, Marc Pastore of Incanto and Boccalone, and Kenneth Rochford from Medloch-Ames winery. We sampled two excellent salty pork products and accompanying "sustainable" wines and learned a little about modern meat. Look for a bit more about later this week.
And on to the menu...
Monday: Pasta in citrus-zest pesto. White Chuck. Tuesday: "Hot Pockets!" Just kidding. We're raiding our frozen, home-made empanada stash. Black beans, mexican cole-slaw, beer. Maybe some cake for dessert... Wednesday: Grilled Calzones with Farmer's Market fillings. Red Chuck. Thursday: Red chile enchiladas, more beans, sopa de fideo. Lager! Friday: Misir Wot with Polenta. White Wine of some variety. Saturday: Eat out. Maybe IHop? Sunday: Folks' house.