Misadventures


As an unabashed Yankee living in Alabama, I had naturally been curious about ‘Chitlins’ for quite some time. What are they? Why does everyone suddenly cringe and make disgusting noises whenever they are mentioned? Even (many) southerners?

I’ve earned quite the reputation around the office over the years (I eat anything and everything and a lot of it), and I knew a Chitterling show down was inevitable.

Luckily for me, Chris Spencer, the Director of Community Development at the Center for Community-Based Partnerships, had the hook-up.

I finally did my research, instantly regretted agreeing to eat them, and then put my game face on. For all you Yanks out there, this one is for you.

(You need to click on these photos to see the scrumptious Chitlin textures and awesome facial expressions in greater detail)

Yummy!

They smell bad.

Hot sauce to the rescue!

Maybe?

The cornbread helps.

Sorta.

Feeling queasy.

Another take.

Also queasy.

Last bite!

You can do it!

I did it!

Pass the good stuff!

Mission accomplished.

Special thanks to Chris Spencer for providing the Chitterlings and Robert Wood for providing the photos.

I love curry and order it out at many restaurants, but I’ve only made it a few times myself. When pineapples were on sale at the grocery I saw it as an excuse to jump start my curry cooking career and try something a little different. It turned out pretty well!

Curry Mixture

2 tbs red curry paste

1 tbs mirin (rice wine)

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 lbs chicken, cubed

Cook the curry paste and mirin over a low heat until it starts to foam like in the picture below.

Add the chopped garlic and onion and cook until they start to soften, then add the chicken and cook at a medium heat until about halfway done.

Coconut Milk Mixture

1 13.5 oz can coconut milk

1 tbs fish sauce

1 inch ginger root, peeled and diced

1/8 cup fresh lime juice (1 lime)

Add the above and stir until well mixed.

This process makes sure that the curry spices ‘activate’ – the curry wouldn’t be nearly as flavorful if cooked in the coconut milk right away.

Veggies

1 bunch of broccoli, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 chili pepper, chopped

12 oz mushrooms, sliced

1/4 cup carrots, peeled and chopped

1 can bamboo shoots

Continue cooking until the chicken is done. Remove from heat and serve over rice, garnishing with chopped cilantro and pineapple slices.

Pretty and delicious.

Note: While pineapple is my favorite fruit, I’ve never really liked it all that much in savory dishes (pineapple on pizza? please!), so I chose to use it as a garnish. You could very easily put it in the pot with the vegetables and you would have a much sweeter curry. If you try it, let me know how it turns out!

My lovely parents gave me a baking stone over the holidays, and making pizza is quickly becoming my new favorite hobby. My first masterpiece:

White Wine – Red Potato Pizza

That’s right, potato, not tomato (although there are those too).

Dough

1 cup warm water

0.5 oz packet of yeast

2 cups self-rising flour

1 tsp olive oil

2 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tsp chopped basil

Let the yeast dissolve in the warm water, then mix in the olive oil, sugar, salt, basil, and flour. Cover the mixture and let it rise for about 20 minutes, then place it in the fridge for another 30-60 minutes  to chill (keep it covered!)

When the dough is ready to roll (ie not too sticky), sprinkle some flour on your rolling surface and shape into a nice, thin pie (the dough will rise beautifully), and set aside.

Sauce


1 large onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tbs olive oil

1 jalapeno pepper, chopped

1/2 cup white wine (I use a pinot grigio)

1/2 cup diced tomatoes

Heat up the olive oil in a small pan and cook the onions and garlic until they start to soften, then add the pepper and white wine. When most of the wine is cooked away, add the tomatoes. When most of the juices from the tomatoes are cooked away, remove from the heat and set aside.

We want a nice solid sauce, not too thick or chunky, but not runny either. The sauce in the picture above has the right consistency.

Potatos


The potatoes are like the pepperonis of this pizza, only ten times better. I’m beginning to think I could actually survive as a vegetarian, but naw, that’s silly.

2 small red potatoes (or 1 large), sliced

1 tbs olive oil

1 tsp chopped basil

1 tsp black pepper, ground

Mix and rub the potatoes in a small bowl with the olive oil, chopped basil, and black pepper. Pan fry until lightly browned and set aside.

Top it Off

You can use any combination of cheese and toppings you desire (which is half the fun), but this is what I decided on:

shredded cheese (I used a generic 6-cheese Italian variety pack because it was cheap and easy – but feel free to go all out with the fresh parm, mozzarella, et al)

shredded spinach

sliced jalapeno peppers

sliced mushrooms

diced tomatoes

and the potatoes

Distribute the sauce evenly along the dough and cover generously with cheese. Add a layer of spinach, then place the potatoes, mushrooms, peppers, and tomatoes on top, then sprinkle with another healthy layer of cheese.

Slide that bad boy into the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Done!


I’m officially ruined on 99% of all restaurant/delivery/take-out pizza. Not a horrible problem – when you have the solution!

Let me know what topping combinations you come up with!

And a special thanks to my pizzeria sous-chefs, Andrea and Linn!

P.S. You definitely want to chill the dough. This is what happens when you don’t chill your dough:

You get calzones! Sorta…

But hey, bonus, now I know how to make calzones, and you do too! Just fold the dough over the toppings! So easy! Impress your friends!

It’s good either way!

This is a very flavorful soup that I have absolutely fallen in love with. Fresh ginger and cilantro pack a punch that dissipates wonderfully and transforms each drop of broth into a tangy, tasty treat.

Aside from the broth itself, the main standout in this soup is the meatballs. I happened to have a package of quality ground buffalo (lucky me!), but ground beef or pork can easily be substituted, or you can eschew the meat entirely if you prefer – see vegetarian option below.

Meatballs

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1/4 cup cilantro leaves and root, chopped – distribute evenly and pour remainder into soup stock

1 chili pepper, chopped

1 lb ground buffalo (or beef or pork)

2 tsps fish sauce

To make the meatballs, chop the garlic, cilantro, and chili pepper. Mix into the buffalo meat and add the fish sauce. Roll into 1-inch balls and set aside.

Soup

5 cups chicken stock

1 inch ginger, peeled and sliced

1 tsp sugar

1 tbs fish sauce

1 cup shredded cabbage

1 cup cooked rice

Pro tip: Peel the skin off the ginger root with a spoon. If you use a knife or a peeler you’re bound to waste precious ginger in the process. A spoon glides along the contours of the root without removing any excess. Brilliant!

Heat the stock, ginger, sugar, and fish sauce and let bubble for 5 minutes. Add the meatballs and simmer lightly for 3 minutes. Add the cabbage and rice for another 2 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked.

If you decide against meatballs, I would definitely add the cilantro, garlic, and pepper into the soup itself instead.

Alternatively, if you still want the soup to carry some heft (and treasure to seek out!), you could try frying ~12 oz of sliced mushrooms, those same meatball ingredients, and some sesame oil in a separate skillet, then add to the soup with the cabbage.

Voila!

Remember, names can be deceiving. Just like Mongolian Fire Oil, this wasabi-beef spinach dish is not spicy. It is however, tasty.

The marinade for the beef includes wasabi powder, peeled ginger, minced garlic, some orange zest, and a little sugar. Mix the above with soy sauce and you have your marinade.

Only don’t ask me how much of each ingredient to include, I don’t measure. That’s half the fun though, experimentation!

If you’re afraid of just throwing a bunch of stuff together and hoping for the best, start with a base of soy sauce appropriate to the amount of meat you’re going to cook, then slowly add the spices and taste-test to perfection.

Look closely and you’ll see just how much I love life!

Once the marinade is done, add the slices of your favorite cut of meat (I prefer beef for this one) into a Ziploc bag, shake (make sure to seal it first!), throw it in the fridge and let sit for a few hours or as long as your hunger will allow.

Fry the meat in a wok with a little oil, then add fresh spinach and a sliced onion. The spinach and onion do a great job of absorbing flavor, so the marinade is critical to making sure the veggies don’t steal all the juices away from the meat.

Serve over noodles with some tea and enjoy your new meal!

I make stir fry all the time. It’s super easy, super tasty, and super versatile. You can add just about any meat (even tofu!), any veggies, you can use all kinds of marinades, and serve over noodles or rice (brown, white, wild, whatever), or with any starchy sides (I like potatoes!)¬† This is my old standby: chicken, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, and onions, served over rice – with the holy trinity of sauces (and a little fresh garlic).

Cooking the chicken in Mongolian Fire Oil gives it a great flavor, and is not actually spicy if that concerns you (ignore the picture of chili peppers and the word ‘fire’). Soy Vay Island Teriyaki, if you can find it, is an amazingly tasty marinade to add after you throw the vegetables in. It has a soy sauce base with pineapple juice, sesame seeds, and some other spices that make it absolutely awesome. Finally, as a garnish, House of Tsang’s Szechuan sauce is spicy, and has been a staple of my life for at least 15 years. I throw that stuff on steak, fish, burgers, fries, anything and everything.

Experiment, have fun, and most importantly: eat!

Oh, and the best part about stir fry? Fried rice the next day. Start with a few eggs in the middle, recook all your leftovers in a wok, and you have an even easier meal that takes about ten minutes.

I love meat, and 95% of the things I prepare have some kind of meat in them, so consider this my one and probably only bone to all you crazy vegetarians (see what I did there?) Of course, without an actual meat in the dish, I still like to have something meat-like. Enter the mushroom, a fine substitute. This is an extremely quick and simple sandwich appropriate for any lunch occasion where turkey or ham just won’t cut it.

Tear the stalks off a few shiitake mushrooms and pan fry them in a little olive oil over low heat for a few minutes, then place them on a slice of your favorite fresh bread.

Cover with a fine cheddar cheese and threw them in a conventional oven until the cheese melts and the bread gets nice and toasty.

Cover with fresh spinach.

Top, add your favorite fixens, and enjoy!

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