Check This Blog Out

You know what? When perfect strangers take the time out to take a look at my blog and “like” a post or follow my blog, I am both flattered and thankful. I don’t even know if my friends read my stuff. And two people over the last two days took the time out to give my blog some love. So, like I did with the lovely father’s day blog that I posted a link to on my other blog, I want to share this blog with you. It’s a little bit of everything and it’s interesting and I’m sharing it with you guys.

And I still plan on talking about the food co op I’m going to tomorrow. According to their website there should be some bell peppers in my share so I am going to try to make a vegan version of stuffed bell peppers, roasted corn on the cobb, home made refried beans (and actually with the exception of the quinoa that I plan on using, all the ingredients will have come from the food co op or a farmer’s market).

Okay, happy eating!

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F*!ck Porn… This Is Better!

So I just got a bar tending job. My friend Lisa hooked me which was serendipitous because this will make the third time we’ve worked together, we work really well together, and I need a job while I’m not teaching over the summer.

This also gives me a chance to learn more about alcohol. Not wine though which is what I would really love to do. But I sort if have this little dream of teaching in the spring and fall and spending my summers working with wine and beer and some food. After all it will be fodder for my writing and it’s something I am passionate about.

The beers we have on tap are pretty decent. We have the usual suspects, Guinness, Stella Artois, Blue Moon, some Karbachs, Lone Star (yuck) and Shiner (eh) to name a few. But our wine selection is a sad affair. Our house wine is of the Vendange variety and our “high end” wine is Robert Mondave private reserve which could be okay if it wasn’t usually turned. Our Scotch is okay… Glenlivet and McAllen for our high end. But it’s a dive bar so it’s to be expected. However, I am learning bartending techniques that could help me should I venture out and try to get a second job at a place that’s more high end. I think I would enjoy the balance between the two since beer and wine snobs can get tiresome at times.

Let me say this: I LOVE my bartending job. It’s hard work but it’s fun. Unlike Whole Foods where a bitchy, tiresome customer was stuck to you like (as my best friend Cindy put it) a star fish is stuck to your face, when working the bar you’re too damn busy to sit there and grab your ankles while they berate you and excoriate you for something that developed out of their own stupidity. Usually a shitty customer in a bar gets charged douchebag tax.

What was my point? Was this post about bartending? I guess so. Anyway, I know what a properly pulled Guinness should look like and this isn’t it:

Yeah. That’s supposed to be a pint of Guinness.

Well, I will admit, I suck at pulling pints. I have gotten much better over the last few weeks but I am clumsy and our pints are at arms reach for someone who is six feet tall and I’m five foot three so I am usually standing on my tippy toes trying to angle the glass right and pull the handle just right because there actually is an art to it. I even shouted “Jesus, it’s like performing cunnilingus!” when Daniel was trying to show me how to do it properly. However, my Guinness pints don’t look like that

If you love a good pint of Guinness, watch this video. As one YouTube commenter put it: “Fuck porn! This is better”.

Fuck Porn, This Is Better

I hope the link works… I still fumble with this stuff.

See? Douchebag tax! They never let us charge for that at Whole Foods. Can you imagine how much more money that company could have made if they did?

Okay, two other things: I am thinking of trying to commit to a weekly post. It would be sort of a post of about five things that week I think are worth writing about. Food, products like body care or cooking ware or grocery items, a blog that I came across that I like, etc. We shall see if I can stick to it. And it would be really awesome if I had readers that commented on posts or emailed me with suggestions or things they would like to hear about… hint hint.

So! On Wednesday I’m going here. I’ve already purchased my share online and the first time is free for non-members (the membership fee, not the produce!). I am really excited to shop the open market as well and try local, organic strawberries and other forms of produce that I have been buying from less than stellar sources. I hope to have something to write about when I come home on Wednesday.

And tonight I am making this. I will try to have thoughts and pictures for anyone who may be curious. The ingredient list alone makes me happy. You had me at fresh mint and feta!

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Happy Father’s Day… Even If He Is Dead

So, it’s been forever since I have written. It’s been a crazy year and I guess I get discouraged when I don’t get instant results. However, today being Father’s day I thought it was a great opportunity to revisit my blog again. I hope to stay with it this time. I have a lot of photos and things to write about.

I have always loved cooking and eating healthy and love the challenge of letting these two often opposing forces marry. But thanks to this blog I have been able to go back to mostly vegetarian ways while not feeling deprived.

That being said, when my husband called me on Father’s day morning after playing golf with his father and brother-in-law and asked me if I wanted to go eat wings, I couldn’t say no. I LOVE wings. I spent most of the day eating wings, cheese, and bread. And wine. Did I mention that the bread was homemade? Yeah. You heard me.

My father loved to bake bread. LOVED it. He had a bread machine and would make bread every week, often giving me some as a gift. When I got home from stuffing my face with wings and blue cheese dressing and quaffing pints of Blue Moon, I had a burning desire to try my hand at baking bread. I have never been good at baking. My cupcakes come out dense. You could probably kill someone instantly by clocking them upside the head with one. I used to bake my husband a birthday cake as a surprise and it took me a while to realize why he always looked as thought he wanted to cry when I would surprise him at the door with a “cake” lit up with candles. My friend Walt came over one Sunday and taught me how to bake. For about a week I could bake. But then it went away! But bread I can do.

So, back to bread. As many of my friends who lost their fathers already probably feel, father’s day is hard on me. You see advertisements every where, you get emails from places you shop at reminding you to make this father’s day really special. You feel like shouting, “Yeah, I would if my father wasn’t DEAD!” I’m so very lucky to have the in-laws that I have. Not everyone is this lucky. Most people I know tolerate their in-laws at best but I love mine. My mother-in-law is Vietnamese and cooks all the time and she is so sweet and smart and funny. My father-in-law is a real fiery guy with a kick ass collection of Beatles records (some even on reel to reel). When we go to their house for dinner he always opens a bottle of wine for me and we usually end up getting a bit sauced together. Occasionally he breaks open his extensive Scotch collection and we do the same. It’s the little things like this that make it possible for me to stay positive when I’m feeling the dearth of familial love. Because I’m lucky enough to have another family through my marriage. Does that make sense?

So, I found a recipe that only included ingredients that I already had and pulled out the Kitchen Aid that belonged to my dad. When he died it was one of the things I got and not only is it an awesome thing for a foodie/wanna be chef to have in her kitchen, it also has sentimental value because of course it feels like my dad is right there in the kitchen with me when I use it.

And when I started mixing everything up, I realized how serendipitous it was that I was using it to bake bread on Father’s day.

My father’s Kitchen Aid.

I love Kitchen Aids. They make baking so much easier. I’m still not sure what to do with the dough hook but I’m sure I’ll get it.

Mixing it all up.

Mixing it all up!

So, I mixed it all up, let it rise, and then separated the dough into two balls (ha ha ha ha ha!!!! two balls!!) and stuck them in the oven. The recipe yielded two round loaves. I was pleasantly surprised when I cut myself a steaming slice of bread, put some butter on it, and liked what I tasted. The outside was crusty, the inside was soft, and you could taste the caraway seeds. I added some kosher sea salt after brushing on the egg wash so along with the rye goodness there was a crunchy saltiness at the end of the bite. I’m also going to go ahead and admit that the entire loaf is gone. The whole thing. The other loaf I immediately gave to my downstairs neighbor. I asked if I could watch her eat it. Luckily she’s used to my quirkiness and knew that it wasn’t some strange food fetish thing (then again, maybe it is). This bread made me think dirty thoughts. It’s that good. Like slap your mom in the face with your dick good. You get what I’m sayin’?

Fresh baked bread, right out of the oven.

I made a second loaf with the same recipe but this time I added onions, shallots, and fresh dill. I dipped this in olive oil when it came out. This loaf was awesome! It made me want to touch myself. Not to mention that it made me want to slap your mom in the face with my dick. Seriously that good.

Now, about eating that other loaf in one day, here is why. I decided to make goat’s milk ricotta. At least the recipe said it was ricotta even though it came out as more of a chevre in my opinion but it was still delicious. I used this recipe and I don’t think I did it correctly because the curds and whey didn’t separate. I also don’t think I used a very good cheesecloth because it seemed as though the holes were too big to catch the curds. I ended up heating it back up, adding more lemon juice and some tarragon vinegar. I used a metal strainer designed for fine grains and tea so that it would catch more of the curds. An hour later I went back and scraped what I could off of it and while there wasn’t much, I did end up with about a fourth of a cup of a very fluffy, tangy cheese that I spread on that first loaf of bread and topped with raspberries and blueberries. This put a tingle in my dingle. Heee heeeee!

It’s not a lot but still enough for a few slices of bread!

So, I hope I haven’t bored any of you. But it has been a food filled weekend and I just wanted to share with all of you, whoever may be reading. If you are reading this now, thank you! It’s nice to be heard. And before I sign off I will include some more food porn. Happy eating!

Home made goat milk cheese with fresh raspberries and blueberries on fresh baked bread. The colors are almost patriotic.

Of course I have to include pictures of yesterday’s breakfast that my cat seemed to think was actually his breakfast.

Maxwell Silverpaws just being polite and waiting for everyone else before he digs in.

Also! My husband and I bought patio furniture and we have taken to dining al fresca on occasion.

Roasted miniature multi colored potatoes and a poached egg on top of a roasted portobello mushroom and fresh spinach. I cooked the egg a bit too long because the yolk should be slightly runny but it was still delicious.

And more pictures because I cannot resist.

I couldn’t resist those cute little potatoes.

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Italian Food- That’s All I’m Gonna Say

 

So, it’s been almost two years since I have written anything. I don’t really have an excuse. I suppose it doesn’t matter since I am pretty sure no one actually reads this thing but I’m back. I guess I give up easily sometimes. I’m a wanna be food critic, chef, writer etc. But while having dinner with my husband and his parents to celebrate their birthday, I realized that none of that matters. I write because I love writing. I write about food and cooking because aside from reading and sex, those are a few of my favorite things. So why not keep writing about food and cooking to share new ideas and great places to eat with my friends or the few people who actually read this… does anyone actually read this?

Well, if anyone is reading, I am going to share with you my favorite Italian restaurant.

I usually eschew Italian food. Why go pay to have someone make you pasta? I can make my own pasta. And I don’t want to pay ten dollars for a plate of it either. I remember one time in college (before I even realized that I was a food snob) I excoriated a fellow classmate because she didn’t understand why I didn’t want to wait thirty minutes for a table. At the Olive Garden! But this restaurant I am about to review is far from the Olive Garden.

We went back and forth on where to eat. First we decided on Maggiano’s (Italian… not bad for a chain). But we couldn’t get a reservation. Then Lupe Tortillas was brought up (DO NOT get me started on Lupe Tortilla, aside from Katz’s I think it is the biggest waste of money for sub par Mexican food… I’m going to stop because I’m getting angry and should dedicate this to another blog entry).

Patrenella’s however, is an Italian restaurant in an old house just off of Washington avenue on Jackson Hill. When you walk in the delicious aroma of garlic, cooking wine, bread, and other things greet you. It is a warmly lit place and we were seated immediately.

The service doesn’t suck either. I’m not going to bore you with drink orders and such but we decided to start off with the stuffed artichoke and the fried calamari. My husband accidentally ordered the Sammy’s eggplant but when he called the waiter back to change the order, the waiter was very accommodating but said he was going to bring some of the eggplant out anyway (comped) because we didn’t know what we were missing.

So, they ran out of stuffed artichoke so he brought out cheese and olives instead (listed on the menu for $4 but we were comped those as well. What did I say? Great service!) The cheese and olives are a must, inexpensive and delicious. When I was there before, I was told that the cheese was pecorino cheese. Pairs very well with a starter glass of wine.

 

The olives and cheese appetizer.

Any Italian restaurant that serves mussels and clams as an appetizer has my undivided attention. I have actually eaten this as my entree in the past.

The eggplant appetizer wasn’t bad. I wasn’t overly impressed with it because it really just reminded me of Eggplant Parmesan that was thinnly sliced. The calamari on the other hand was delicious. I’m a bit picky about calamari. The first time I had it, it was rubbery, greasy and reminded me of something off the menu at Long John Silvers. After being covinced to try it at other restaurants I realized that there was such a thing as good calamari.

This was some of the best I have had. For those of you that don’t know, calamari is usually squid and baby octopus fried and served with a side of maranara sauce. Most of the calamari that I have had is usually chewy which I can’t stand. Not at Patrenella’s. Both the squid and the octopus were tender, buttery, and the batter was light and crispy without a hint of the greasy rancidness that often accompanies this dish when it’s not made right.

I was torn between the butternut squash ravioli in a brown butter sauce with pancetta but finally decided on the seared scallops over a basil risotto with pancetta and tomato jam. The scallops were perfect; sweet, delicate and they melted in my mouth, The risotto paired nicely with the scallops and the tomato jam. And the pancetta added the saltiness that would have otherwise been missing from the dish.

Seared scallops... yummy!

My husband ordered the spaghetti and meatballs. I don’t really know what to say about that other than… it tasted like spaghetti and meat balls. My mother in law ordered the seafood linguini which comes with a light garlic and wine sauce and clams, mussels, shrimp, squid, and scallops. This dish tasted like the ocean (in a good way) with that fabulous taste of garlic and wine that has been heated.

Does this really need a caption?

 

So, enough said. They have something for everyone but if you love pasta and seafood, this is the place for you. If you are tired of the same repetative fair that you find at most Italian restaurants then give this a try. I’ll even post a link to the website so you can check out the menu. The actual menu has even more than on this one .

Or since I never get that insert the link thing right…

http://www.patrenellas.net/main/menu.php

Enjoy!

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Taco Truck Tour

Seriously, people. When you find this truck, text me immediately or comment here on the blog and tell me where it is. I passed it one day and was so excited because it has my last name on it!!! Yeah!!!!

When I find these people, Ima gonna eat me some tacos!

I am thinking this: I want to start a taco truck tour. It would take a few months but I want to do it. Apparently there is a Puerto Rican food truck. Do you know how I feel about Puerto Rican food. Not quite as amorous as I am of sushi (no free show) but I love it.

But I digress. The best tacos come off of a truck. Hot warm tacos, that spicy green sauce that is so hot it makes you cry and later scream in the litter box.

You know what I am saying?

So, taco truck tour? Who’s in?

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New T-shirt slogan: I Put Out For Sushi

Once again I am feeling a food rant coming on. I love sushi. LOVE it. Like love it enough to show strange men my fun bags for some sushi. That’s how much I love it. I should get a T-shirt that reads “I put out for sushi”.

I am also a bit of a purist where sushi is concerned. When I first tried sushi, I was barely twenty, vegan, and not a fan of raw meat or fish. My how the times have changed. As you can imagine my first reaction to the concept if trying sushi was “Ewww, gross! I’m not eating raw fish.” My friend, who was also a veggie at the time, assured me that it wouldn’t be as bad as I thought. Somewhere inside me was a little tiny foodie screaming to get out because I decided I wanted to try it. We ordered avocado and cucumber maki rolls. They were delicious. I loved the seaweed rolled around the rice. I honestly think I liked the wasabi the most. Anything in the horse-radish family makes me happy. From then on I was hooked. But my taste changed over the years. I became more adventurous but I was eating all these weird rolls that while tasty, are not what I would call authentic. As I have become more interested in different types of cultures and ethnic food, I have also become more concerned with how true to the culture the food I am eating is.

Sushi is one of the most Americanized foods I have experienced. I love a good tiger eye role as much as the next wasabi junkie but some of these rolls are too much. What is wrong with keeping it simple?

Tuna rolls!

One birthday a few years back, I chose to go have sushi. I ordered something called a New Orleans roll. It was okay.

It had Tony Sachari’s seasoning on it. I couldn’t keep the curl of disgust off of my lips. What the fuck? I don’t want that shit in my fucking sushi. Since then, I have eschewed the fancy rolls and stuck with the basics. Just a nice piece of fish, some seaweed, and some rice is all you need. I don’t even like a lot of soy sauce on it. You want to taste the fish, people. Don’t be a pussy.

I also remember going to Ra Sushi in highland Village. It was okay. The wackiest I get with sushi these days is a spicy salmon or tuna roll, which I ordered. My friend ordered something called the Texas Tuna roll, or something like that. It was basically a chunk of tuna sashimi placed on top of rice and then the whole thing had been breaded and fried. Yeah, but no. No, thank you.

I cannot describe the way a good piece of sushi-grade salmon tastes and feels when you are eating it. It is just heaven. It’s almost sweet, tastes nothing like seafood and positively melts in your mouth. Good sashimi is never chewy, but always buttery and satiny soft.

My husband made sushi last night for our wedding anniversary. He forgot the cream cheese. You know what, it was perfect without.  Just tuna, salmon, rice, and a fresh jalapeno.

Keep it simple. You won’t regret it.

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Namaste

 

So, I know it is completely unoriginal to write about a restaurant only days after a real food critic does a write-up of it but this review had my stomach rumbling and my head filled with dreams of dahi puri. I love the thought that somewhere out there hides a new food that I have not yet discovered. It really gets my Christopher Columbus complex in a bit of an uproar.

I go to my Zumba workout and come back ravenous and ready to devour one of our pets I was so hungry. My husband has read the review and he is down with it. When we get there we realize that Sweet N Namkin does not open for another hour but Salaam Namaste, the brother restaurant, is open. It is not a fancy place. There are no colorful decorations that one expects to find in an Indian (or Indian family) restaurant but the scent of the food has my mouth watering. There is a game of some sort on the television, there are four huge pool tables in the back. The menu is on the wall above the cash register and I don’t understand much of what is one it. I recognize a few things that I love such as Biryani, bindi masala and many chicken dishes that one usually sees on the menu at such places. I order the Tawa chicken at the owner’s suggestion and my husband orders the Bihari Beef. Of course we couldn’t eat these dishes without a side of rice and naan. And to top it off, we both ordered mango lassis.

The naan was everything the review promised it would be. Big, pillowy pieces of bready goodness. Shiny with a bit of oil, or perhaps, ghee, hot and not dried out. My Tawa Chicken was spicy, full of flavor, and had the right balance of every type of Indian inspired spice that you could think of. The owner laughingly described it as Pakastani gumbo. I was truly surprised and delighted to bite into a huge strip of fresh ginger. The Bihari Beef was a thick, beefy brothy bowl of nurturing goodness. My husband would have liked it a bit spicier but it was still delicious.

The Tawa Chicken

If you have never had a lassi, I highly recommend the mango lassi. Lassis are thick, creamy yogurt drinks that manage to be both tart and sweet and the mango is the perfect addition to this menagery. They also really complement the spiciness of the dishes. Kind of like sweet and salty.

The Beef Birani

Sweet N Namkin was finally open at this point so we headed next door. The woman behind the counter was very friendly and patient while she explained the difference between some of the menu items. We ordered on what we originally came for: the dahi puri.

They looked like little bowls filled with shredded wheat and topped with cilantro. White, creamy yogurt peaked out of the top, threatening to ooze out. I took a bite and was surprised by the mixture of things happening in my mouth. First there was crunchy and salty, then tangy and creamy, then sweet, then spicy. The yogurt and chutney dripped down my chin and onto to my boobs. I looked like a slob but I didn’t care; I was a happy slob.

The Dahi Puri- words cannot describe...

Bellies full, lassis finished, and warm food in to go boxes, my husband and I headed home where he made sushi for dinner to celebrate our second year wedding anniversary. Somehow we managed to make room for more food later that evening. Like good little foodies.

Oh, I would like to point out that (unless I am mistaken) Salaam Namaste is actually more Pakistani than Indian food. I found the food to be very similar to Indian food with the exception of the few beef dishes on the menu. If you love Indian food, you will love this place.

Address: 10736 W. Bellfort, just off 59 S. The hours are crazy. I think they open at 9am and close at 2am most days. The day we went (on a Saturday), the Sweet N Namkin did not open until 3pm. But take note, they are closed on Mondays.

Namaste!

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