Archive for August, 2006


Frittata all gone? No!!!

August 31, 2006




Before my wife begins what I believe is an undeserved ego-inflating entry (Thank you dear. Made my day. So did eating the remaining frittata.), I want to thank two other sites. This is our entry into Weekend Breakfast Blogging #4. This month it’s being hosted by Pavani over at the Cook’s Hideout and the event was started by Nandita over at Saffron Trail. I love breakfast. I frequently make fancy weekend breakfasts and remind my wife I’m likely made up of 13% pancakes. As a result, writing up this post was pure pleasure. So, make sure you visit them and see what other people are eating.

Back to my wife:
This looks delicious, no? It is!

I feel compelled to rave about my husband’s frittata, since he is inappropriately modest in his portion of the post. This frittata was so tasty, so fresh, so spicy and so flavorful that I could have eaten half of it if I hadn’t needed to run out the door. (I can’t eat fast. It’s my stomach’s one failing. Why, stomach!?) Anyway, my husband talked me out of packing the leftovers for lunch, even as I was eyeing them hungrily. “Remember the pasta in the refrigerator?” he cooed. I was torn — this is my lot in life: Choosing between fresh homemade pasta or freakin’ delicious homemade frittata. I took the pasta, knowing it was slightly less likely to keep.

Big mistake.

Not that the pasta wasn’t good. But I was daydreaming about this frittata all day long. It has beautiful salsa verde, and is mounded with still more fresh salsa, those photogenic red onions, and sweet queso fresca. The eggs were cooked beautifully, delicate but not runny, and the chorizo had a delicious bite. The whole thing was magical.

So I get home and tell my husband about my plans to devour the rest of the frittata the following day. Pause. “It’s gone.” WHAT? All of it? He nods, stoically. What!? He had eaten the rest of the frittata! This is tragic! This is terrible! This is an outrage! Why!!??

I’m getting worked up again just writing this. But the point is: It was that good. Really. Make it, try it — and if you can, eat the whole thing or insist on packing the leftovers in your lunch. Read the rest of this entry ?


It’s alive!… Wait, is that sourdough bread I smell?

August 30, 2006


I remember a scene from one of Vogue critic Jeffrey Steingarten’s books (either It Must Have Been Something I Ate, or The Man Who Ate Everything), where he determined to make a homemade yeast starter and master the art of breadmaking. The episode is — as usual — a bit fuzzy in my memory, but I think it had something to do with him keeping his apartment dark and chilly for a matter of days in order to cultivate a particular kind of yeast. His wife had to walk around their dim apartment in a winter coat, muttering bitterly, while he and his yeast had a good old time under some darkened stairwell.

Recalling this, I was a little trepidatious when my husband approached with a foamy, dough-colored substance in our little-used cocktail shaker — now re-purposed as a yeast nursery. “I’m making a homemade starter!” he declared. I waited for the lights to go dark and the air conditioning to kick on. But, thankfully, there was no such inconvenience to me (my sympathies, Mrs. Steingarten) in my husband’s yeast-making, bread-baking endeavor.

So, I can now endorse the proposed methods my husband describes below for yeast-making — knowing that spouses everywhere won’t have to suffer. The one drawback is that when you think about how a homemade stater actually works — yeast (fungi) in the environment have a party in some nasty flour-water — it makes you want to wrinkle your nose, not open your maw. But trust me, you quickly get over it when you smell the bread a-baking. (Just don’t knock over that yeast nursery. Ew.)

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It puts the pasta in the press

August 29, 2006

More pasta

That pasta machine is the gift that keeps on giving. As I mentioned in an earlier post, my husband’s much-asked for birthday toy was an Atlas pasta press. But let’s face it, I’m getting as much use and enjoyment out of it as he is — which is the exact way all gifts should work, if they possibly can.

It isn’t all joy here in MHC-ville, though, fans. I did have to suffer some chewy pasta (one time) and the more odious duty of mopping up flour from our kitchen floor and vacuuming crushed pieces of noodle from our dining room carpet. Ah, what I suffer for my stomach. But all that experimenting and cleaning has paid off: K seems to have mastered the art of fresh pasta.

So to read about his success, and my satisfied belly, continue reading, baby…

Read the rest of this entry ?


Pork, ready for its closeup

August 24, 2006

Hoisin pork tenderloin

I can only describe this meal to you… Sweet tangy sauce melding with tender, savory pork tenderloin. It was quite delicious. But this meal was one of those happy occasions when I walked in the door, and there was nothing for me to do but to pick up my camera to photograph — and whine about when dinner would be ready.

So here’s a little more about this meal from my dear husband, before you get to the recipe portion of the program:

One of my first introductions to food outside of my comfort zone was dim sum, or as I like to think of it, Chinese brunch. My wife’s father is Chinese and we make our ways to Chinese eateries often. As a result, I was slowly exposed to more fish in my diet and gained a growing love of flavors such as soy, anise (which is still growing on me), five-spice powder, sesame, and delicious hoisin.

Much as I like dim sum, my greatest weakness for things Chinese is Peking Duck. My love affair with duck began a few years back and I’ve been fortunate that we’ve been to a number of really great Chinese restaurants in recent years. (These are two of our favorites are Peking Gourmet in Falls Church, Va., outside of DC, and Tse Yang in Midtown Manhattan). This Peking Duck obsession has gotten so out of hand that I am sure my wife’s Chinese grandparents call me “duck boy” in Cantonese. They are promising me many, many ducks when we come visit them next.

Duck, unfortunately, is not the dish of the day. What’s pictured is pork, another Chinese favorite. Read on for the recipe!
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Thai food — for the peanut wary

August 24, 2006

Cashew chicken satay

Cashew chicken satay

Yes, I love Thai food. At least, I think I love Thai food. I haven’t actually been able to eat much of it — although everything I’ve consumed has agreed with me, to say the least. Why can’t I eat it every day and twice on Sundays? The husband is deadly allergic to peanuts… and you know, those Thai cooks love their peanuts. (Not so allergic that he can’t be on a plane with that bag o’ nuts, but still.) So, being a dutiful and loving wife, I don’t drag him to eating establishments where his death could be imminent.

But… being the dutiful husband he is, he has actually gone and made Thai food for me. Better still, it… was… awesome.

This is the kind of the culinary endeavor that leaves me speechless. He doesn’t eat Thai food. He’s never made Chicken Satay before. And yet it was a complete success. Such grand culinary experiments by me inevitably end up in the garbage, not down the gullet. So, I bow to you, husband… who once (I have to say immodestly) learned to cook from me. You have done well, little grasshopper.

Read on for his recipe, and for more close-ups of deliciousness.

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Five Things You Must Eat Before You Die

August 23, 2006

Fellow bloggers at the Traveler’s Lunch Box have put out a call to the rest of us who write about food. They ask the intriguing question: What are the the “Five Things to Eat before You Die”? Heeding that call, last night the wife and I sat down and discussed it. Some things were added, some things were subtracted, but in the end, we came up with these five of our very own. Our hope is that you enjoy them as much as we do — and add your favorites as well.

So, the list begins with:

North Carolina Barbeque (Eastern style):
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Fresh pasta!

August 22, 2006

Da machine



As you can tell from this blog, I eat well. For this, I can thank my husband, who seems to love, love cooking. (It’s now become a running joke for him to shout, spontaneously, “I love cooking!” with a slightly maniacal look in his eye.) Occasionally, though the man needs encouragement — and even more tools.

Now, although my husband is a devoted acolyte of one Alton Brown, Food Network star, he doesn’t always live by Alton’s creed of disavowing all tools “unitasker.” In other words, he kind of has a thing for kitchen gadgetry. Not useless kitchen gadgetry, but things like garlic presses, waffle irons, double-headed silicon spatulas, panini grills, etc. We hardly have enough room for it all in our quite nice-sized kitchen. Actually, since we have most of these things and I eat their output regularly — they do seem like essentials after all. Well, done, husband: I’ve been duly brain washed.

For his birthday, Kendle hinted — no, constantly reminded me — that he wanted a pasta press. Who can deny a man who cooks so well a much-beloved gadget? Plus, I could already almost taste the fresh pasta. Well, now he has said pasta press — and I’m not sure how we lived without it before. It’s amazingly easy and quite rewarding. Now we only need one more gadget: A pasta rack so we don’t have to hang the pasta over our dining room chairs.

Below, my husband takes you on his journey of exploration of his new toy, with more posts to follow on how to make fresh pasta! Read the rest of this entry ?


It’s, like, a fruit

August 21, 2006

Dragon fruit


Dragon fruit

So my husband tells me he has a special treat for me tonight. It tells you a lot about him that no, it wasn’t a fancy piece of jewelry, and no, it wasn’t a homemade dessert, and no, thankfully, it wasn’t a swift kick to my butt. It was a piece of fruit. (Pause.) Exactly.

At least it was an incredibly exotic piece of fruit (to me). A dragon fruit, to be precise. It looks like a poor man’s Faberge egg or a prop that went astray from that dinosaur movie, The Land Before Time.

(You just had to see my husband’s face when he pulled out. So excited and expectant. He was so delighted with himself. For my part, I look at him blankly. “What is that?”)

But my excitement quickly grew to match his as he brandished the giant chef’s knife and lobotomized it. Who doesn’t like to see things sliced open to reveal gleaming, seed infested insides?

So, I’ll cut to the chase and describe my experience of eating a dragon fruit. Inside, it’s a white, soft melon-type texture with hundreds of tiny kiwi-like seeds suspended in its heart.

Sorry to disappoint, but frankly, it didn’t really taste like anything — at least the one that our local Whole Foods provided. Kind of like an unripe honeydew. A nothing kind of taste, but still melon, with an earthy aftertaste. The texture was pleasant, though, and you can scoop it out with a spoon.

I let my husband eat most of mine…. So it’s only fair that you read his version of these events. He was the one, after all, who inflicted this food tasting on the family…. Read the rest of this entry ?


Calories be damned

August 18, 2006

Chocolate chess pie

Under that giant blob of home-churned vanilla ice cream lies a chocolate-y, pecan-y delight. My husband said it’s pecan chocolate chess pie, and the resident expert on things chocolate chess pie — Tessie — did not dispute him. To me, though, it tasted like a pecan pie that had gotten it on with chocolate pudding. Yes, a pecan-pie-chocolate-pudding love child (aka, apparently, pecan chocolate chess pie). And it was delicious. Velvety chocolate with a sweet crunch of pecans, all dripping with homemade vanilla ice cream. It’s enough to make me wish I went to the gym more often and deserved to eat this. (Fear not: I ate it anyway. Who could push that plate away?)

For those who aren’t tempted by things chocolate (there are so few of you), don’t despair that there’s nothing in this post for you. My husband also unravels the mystery of homemade pie crust in his explainer. See that thick, golden and flaky crust that the pecan-pie-chocolate-pudding love child is sitting on? It’s also magical. Read on for his secrets. Read the rest of this entry ?


Cincinnati chili, baby

August 16, 2006

Coney. Ready for its closeup? A coney, Cincinnati-chili style, is a dog slathered with mustard, swimming in Cincinnati chili, dotted with onion and mounded with freshly grated cheddar. If only it were possible to take a bite out of a photo.


'Nati chili

A four-way (hold your laughter) Cincinnati chili platter. Yes, four-ways: 1. Noodles 2. Chili 3. Onion 4. Cheese. Makes perfect sense, no?

Cincinnati chili — and more specifically, Skyline chili — is an acquired taste that quickly becomes an unhealthy addiction. Unhealthy is easy to explain: It’s a meaty chili sauce splashed over spaghetti or a dog with at least 1/4 lb. of cheddar cheese piled on top. Acquired, because most self-respecting Texas-type chili people would not recognize Cincinnati chili as anything of the sort. And since I spent the first part of my childhood in San Diego, the cognitive dissonance of being told I was going to eat chili and being served this was, at first, too much. Chili over noodles? Chili without beans or peppers? What the heck? Why don’t they just all it “weird spaghetti,” I thought.

Fortunately, native-born ‘Natians don’t have to overcome this semantic difficulty. They’re served this stuff in their high chairs (or at least they sample the oyster crackers every chili parlor serves). So they quickly know the joy of ambling up to the counter of a chili parlor and asking for a three-way (I said, no laughing). And ultimately I got over my Cincinnati chili aversion to the point that I actually went through withdrawal when we moved away. It’s hard to come by in any place besides Cincinnati… which, once you’ve gotten the taste, will be hard to fathom. So, I insisted on hunting down some semblance of a recipe and making it. God bless the Internet.

Now my husband has taken that faithful to Skyline (king of chili parlors) recipe and forced it to submit to his will. The result is a spicier, and slightly hotter, concotion that is quite delicious. Although I still splash mine liberally with Tabasco. It’s the secret ingredient to making Cincinnati chili perfect. How some go without is beyond me…

Read on for my husband’s recipe and backgrounder… Read the rest of this entry ?