Pork Butt, Bom chicka wow wow

Pork Butt, Bom chicka wow wow

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Leftover Makeover

So, I've been trying to be the efficient housewife during this time of low income and unemployment. I've been trying to shop smarter and not waste any food. This calls for planning, which I never really used to do. We've been in the habit of shopping meal to meal, instead of stocking up like normal people might do. Part of the reason for this, is when we buy lots of perishables, some of them end up unused and spoiled. So, I realized, if I buy a few items that can be a base for a meal, then I can later go to the store to fill in the gaps.

So, on 4th of July, I went shopping. I had no clue what I was going to buy. We had been talking about a shrimp boil, but it's difficult to find good head on shrimp. I looked at the meat and seafood at Henry's, Vons and Pancho's. So I got some shrimp at Pancho's. They didn't look offensive. I also got a big pack of chicken breasts. And then I saw that Hebrew National hot dogs were on sale bogo, so I got two packs of hot dogs, even though I forgot to get buns.

So, I berled the shrimp, and they sucked! Really. We were drinking margaritas, so we were using up all the ice in the freezer. So, the shrimp were not very good, and along with me not icing them enough after cooking, they were mealy and soft and hard to peel. We ate all the potatoes, corn, garlic, mushrooms and hot dogs that were in the boil, though. Yes, I put hot dogs in. Usually, we use sausage, but I didn't buy any. Since I had all those hot dogs, I figured I would throw two in the pot. They were good, don't knock it.

So, the next day, I made a greek chicken salad, a la the restaurant that the Food Pimp and I used to work at in New Orleans.

It had romaine, bell pepper, cucumber, feta, chicken and a mustard, greek yogurt and lemon vinaigrette. It was pretty delicious. It's the kind of salad that makes boneless skinless chicken breast appetizing. It was way better than the attempted shrimp boil.

So, I had three pounds of shrimp. I couldn't just chuck em. The FP said, make bisque. I think he was kidding.

But, he left for work, and I walked down to the Jaycees Market and bought celery and heavy cream. I came home and I peeled all those shrimp. Usually, with bisque, you want to use the shells. But these shrimp were just sketchy, and there were so many that I had enough to sacrifice the shells and heads. So I peeled and peeled. And I made the bisque. My forte is taking what others perceive as garbage and making something delicious - I'm kind of like a found food artist. My cooks used to tease me about this.

Leftover Shrimp and Corn Bisque

3# nasty leftover boiled shrimp
2 oz unsalted butter
4 stalks celery diced
1 onion diced
5 cloves garlic smashed
1 ripe tomato, diced
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 ear corn, cut
1 c heavy cream
salt and pepper
feta cheese (optional)

Sweat the onion, celery and garlic in the butter in a soup pot, ten to twenty minutes on low until transparent. Add diced tomato and a third of the shrimp, and cook another 5 minutes. Add the rest of the shrimp, and both cans of tomatoes. Let it come up to a boil, then blend with a hand blender or in a blender. Put it back on the heat and add the corn. Bring it up to a boil for a minute, then reduce to a simmer and let cook 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. You can let it cook on low for as long as you wish. Five minutes before serving, stir in the cream. Taste again for seasoning, and serve with chopped parsley, croutons, and a little feta if you wish. (Feta and shrimp are one of those cheese and seafood combos that actually work. I don't abide by the no seafood with cheese rule, but I don't gloop cheese on any seafood either.)

So, the FP came home and asked, what's for dinner. I said, bisque, like you said. He did not seem enthused at all. I thought it was good - I had already eaten the equivalent of one good sized bowl. So, I served him, as a good housewife does. I didn't put feta in his, I didn't want to push my luck. The FP has this kidlike quality in that if he's got an aversion to the idea of eating something, he is going to be judging it before it goes into his mouth. But, I waited, and I watched. He thought it was outstanding. I believe I heard the words "the best shrimp bisque I ever had". Although, the FP tends to get caught up in the moment and use hyperbole. That's part of what makes the FP the FP. Enthusiasm. Anyway, I got him to eat the nasty leftover shrimp and enjoy it! Score!!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I got crabs

So, I am a sucker for advertising. I tend to see something I want, and I get fixated on it until I get it. Like crabs. I've been watching that new Cooking Channel show Hook, Line & Dinner. So, there was an episode with blue crabs. I love blue crabs. I didn't realize how much I loved them until I moved away from the eastern seaboard. People don't always appreciated something that they grew up with that was always around.

Anyhoo, I got crab on the brain. So one day I dropped the Food Pimp off to band practice and I went to 99 Ranch Market. It was a weekend, and it was packed as to be expected, but I wasn't in a hurry so I didn't really care. I made some groceries - baby bok choy and chinese broccoli, ginger and stuff. But my main reason for being there was for seafood. So, I bypassed all the madness of the meat counter and headed for the back corner of the store. Where it was actually relatively calm compared to the rest of the store.

So, I looked at the two boxes of blue crabs. They were pathetic (pa-tet-ik is how my mom would pronounce it) They were overall pretty small, some were dead, others were not lively at all, and most of them had claws missing. But in the tank above, there were stone crabs, $3.99/lb - good price point. So, I picked out 3 fatties. Then I waited in the checkout line to spend my hard earned cash (no laughing please - I spent many years working hard to receive my measly unemployment checks).

Anyhoo, I was thinking of this lobster dish at this chinese restaurant in Metairie, LA, and it influenced me in my preparation of the stone crabs. So, this dish was like lobster in the shell stir fried in ginger and other stuff. It was really delicious.

So, I wanted to stir fry the crab. I left them in the sink in the plastic bag while I was doing stuff.

So they started to move around a little. My cats were laying on the futon, having a snooze.

When the crabs started moving, their ears perked up, but I guess they were too lazy to investigate, which was good - I didn't want to deal with any pinched cat noses or anything.

So, I steamed the crabs for a few minutes. They were mostly cooked. Then, I broke them up into easy to pick pieces and threw them in the fridge. Then I picked up the FP. So, to finish the dinner, I chopped up lots of baby ginger and garlic. I sauteed that in vegetable and a little sesame oil. I added some chopped thai chilis. Then I brought the heat up pretty high and added the crab, some soy sauce, rice vinegar and a little patis (fish sauce). Then I tossed in chiffonade of mint to garnish.

I sauteed some chinese broccoli and king trumpet mushrooms in the same pan.

I also made some dipping sauce, which was more of the same - soy, rice vinegar, sesame oil, patis, and chilis.

Of course, I steamed some rice to go with it.
I have to say, it was pretty fucking good.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Greek Rush

So, it appears that every city has a Greek Festival. Okay, I don't know that, but I do know that New Orleans has one and San Diego has one too. Both at these rather large greek orthodox churches. So, I had been to the one in New Orleans a couple times, and it was amazing. So, festive, lambs on spits, dancing and drinking.

So, we had been to the San Diego Greek Festival the first year in San Diego. It was a good day, so, this year, we were excited to be able to go back again. Also, I had just read a blog from Kirk from Mmm Yoso about the lamb plate. So, we went in, and I noticed all the grills were shut down. It was the evening of the last day of the festival, so maybe they had already cooked it all and it was waiting in steam tables. So we headed straight for the lamb tent. We ordered a lamb plate, and the woman told me that they were out. Out?! What? Out??!!??!!! That's why we came!! Wait, did she mean out for now? So I asked her. No, out for good. No lamb. :(

So, we had paid our cover, and we weren't going to just walk right out. There must have been other food to eat. We walked around, and we saw the pastries and saganaki and other stuff. I looked at the map, and I saw the cafeteria had a buffet line. So, we walked in there. It was like a church luncheon with more older people sitting together communal style. We looked at the serving line, and the food looked...old. I'm sure it was better when it was fresh, but it was probably a few hours old at this point. So we skipped the cafeteria.

We finally decided on a gyro. $9 for a gyro.

A little pricey, but, I figured this must be a hell of a party to put on, and the profits go back into the church, right? There was a bit of a line, but it moved fast since they already had them wrapped and ready to go.

What can I say? It was good gyro meat. There wasn't much to it. Meat, onions, tomatoes and yogurt sauce. I wasn't blow your socks off, but it wan't dogmeat either (no offense to you guys who actually eat dogmeat from dog that is "humanely treated" I guess. I have no idea what dogmeat tastes like).

So, then we got this sausage.

I don't remember the name of it. (bad food blogger, bad). Loukaniko. I felt bad so I took the 3 seconds to look it up. Anyway,it came with bread and greek feta type cheese. The sausage was nicely grilled. It had the char on the outside, but it was still moist inside and not all shriveled up as amateur grillers sometimes tend to kill their meat on the grill with the poking and prodding. So, the bread was like that Sysco type frozen sesame roll. Not good. The sausage and cheese. Oh - Ma - Gawd. Flavor! Having dull tastebuds, I like food with bold flavor. Like this sausage. It was so fucking good. I thought about getting another.

But, we wanted to taste more. I wasn't too excited, but I thought I'd go back to the lamb plate tent and get whatever they had left. So, I got a spanakopita and 2 grape leaves.

The grape leaves were smothered in this yellowish sauce that actually looked unappetizing. But, boy, looks do deceive. This was the best grape leaf I have ever had. Ever. The sauce was a creamy tangy lemon sauce. I mean, this was the best grape leaf ever and ever and I will probably never have one as good again! The grape leaf was nicely cooked - tender - not chewy at all. Sometimes you have to kind of tear at the grape leaf with your teeth to bite through, not this one. And the lamb and rice filling was nicely seasoned, but that lemon sauce was the icing on the cake!!!! I get hungry thinking of this! The spanakopita was good too. It was nicely cooked and seasoned, but it was spanakopita, and it just paled in comparison to the grape leaves.

So, the FP went back and got four more grape leaves, and we gobbled them up and talked about getting a few more. But, we didn't. We just sat in the beer garden and enjoyed our greek beer, the weather, the general festival chatter, and the music and dancing. It was a beautiful day and a wonderful festival.

But, I was not done. I was ready for dessert. Loukoumathes. (Yes, I did have to google the name to spell it right.) So, these are like greek doughnuts. I saw them as we were walking in. And there was always a line for them. And I remember wanting them the last time we came to the Greek Festival but not getting them for whatever reason. So, this time, I was on a mission. I stood in line by myself while the FP held down our table in the beer garden. I was so excited that I got anxious. They weren't going to run out were they, like with the lamb? But when I moved further along in the line, I could see the fryer. They were just continuously pumping out the little balls of fry heaven. They would pop them in the fryer with a portioning batter thingamajiggy and then turning each one by hand when the time was right. Then, they would drain them and coat with honey syrup, garnish with powdered sugar and cinnamon and pistachio nuts. So, the deal was by the four. Some people were getting like 4 dozen. And seeing them get such big batches, I wanted a big batch. But I had to be reasonable. These were fairly perishable - I'm sure they would get soggy fast. And the FP isn't a big dessert guy unless it's an unbelievable dessert. So, I could probably eat four. I figured the FP might eat one or two, so that meant I had between four and seven for myself. That had to be enough. So, I got eight. It was difficult walking the few hundred feet back to the table and not digging in. But I had to follow protocol. Picture first.

I cannot explain to you how fucking perfect these little fried ball of goodness were!!!!!!!!!
The honey syrup coating had hardened on the outside, but the dough was soft and sweet and warm on the inside. And the extra powdered sugar, cinnamon and crushed nuts (crushed nuts and fried balls? Sounds a bit redundant!) were not at all overkill, but a welcome garnish to a perfectly fried ball!!!!!!!!!! Sadly enough, for me, the FP ate all his balls. But, I knew that was a good stopping point for me. Because if there were ten more balls in front of me, I would have made a go at polishing them off. Yum Yum Yum. I cannot wait to go to the Greek Festival next year!

Greek Festival at St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church
it happens around the first weekend in June
Go there!!!!!!!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Yakitori Yakyudori

So, I'm very much one of those "judge a book by it's cover" kind of people. I mean, if you know who Francesca Lia Block is, her book covers look appealing to me, and I love her writing. Same with Irvine Welsh.

Anyway, Yakitori Yakyudori is on the corner of Convoy Street (oh how I love that street) and Clairemont Mesa Blvd. It is next to a Starbucks. The signage for the restaurant is kind of minimalist, black and white. I never recalled hearing about the place, so I never thought much of it, as there are still some places on Convoy Street that I have heard of and not tried yet.

So, one night, I was looking up late night restaurants, and I found this place listed. So, it was on the radar. One day, we were on Convoy, and for whatever reason, the place we were going to wasn't open or too busy or something, so I suggested Yakitori Yakyudori. So, we parked, and that corner of the parking lot was packed. We walked in, and everyone kind of stopped and looked at us for a split second. It's a small place. So we were seated next to the other non-natives who seemed to be on their lunch break. Our first impression was that it was like one of those great little restaurants in Little Tokyo in LA. It was much warmer and homey looking than what the sign indicated to me.

So, the lunch menu doesn't have a huge variety of choices, but we were getting ramen. The Food Pimp, of course got the spicy ramen.

So, it had a plethora of components, most notably, corn! Corn. I love corn, but I don't expect to see it in a ramen bowl. But the FP said, that is actually made the dish. It "infused" the soup with that sweetness of the corn. (I hate that word infused now because lately it connotes an uppity attempt to be fancy and on the cutting edge, usually in dishes that are just generic and overdone) Anyway, it was a good bowl of ramen. It had all kinds of scraps of meat too.

I got the soy ramen.

Soy. Soy sauce. It's like addicting. There was one time in my cooking when I pretty much put it in almost everything I made, sometimes things like chili. Anyway, this was the bomb, the shit, the shiz - just homey goodness. I didn't get the corn. But, the strips of pork were so tender and fatty melt in your mouth and porky goodness. My broth had a more simple flavor, but it still had depth of flavor at the same time. I know, I'm not the most prolific when it comes to describing food. But that's probably just one of the reasons that no respectable online or printed media genre would pay me to be a food writer.

Anyway, we also got the octopus balls. We thought we should get something else, so we got octopus balls. When they came to the table, they did a little table dance for us!

At first I thought I was having a major flashback, but then I realized that this was indeed really happening! There were bonita flakes on all the balls that were reacting to the heat from the freshly fried octopus balls, so it appeared that they were alive. They were amazing. They just kept dancing, so finally we just started eating them as they danced. There was like a sweet teriyaki soy sauce on them, so I drizzled a little vinegar on them. This was amazing. One of the most exciting balls I have put in my mouth for ages! I mean I really enjoyed the exclusive VIP all access party that was being thrown in my oral cavity! There was ginger and bonita flake and octopus, and a very light and seasoned batter holding it all together. I was just wonderful! It was like fireworks on the 4th of July, like ice cream and marshmallow and fudge sauce and caramel and colored jimmies, like unicorns and pegasus and rainbows and jelly bellies...like fostering a whole litter of golden retriever, samoyed, St. Bernard and beagle puppies!!!! I don't have any prior experience with these specific octopus balls, but I have never had a better seafood fritter, period. End of story. I don't think there's anything more to say!

And a week or two later, we went back about an hour before closing. We walked in, and they were all happy and friendly, and the place was still hopping, and they didn't seem annoyed at all at us being there. We ordered the exact same things. This time, my ramen had corn in it! That sweet perfumed broth was wonderful. And when we got the octopus balls, they were just as delicious and lively and interactive as the previous balls. Just great! I can't wait to go back again! Normally, I shouldn't give a premature chopstick review, but based on these 3 dishes, I'm going to do it anyway. \/\/\/\/ 8 chopsticks. 8. isa, dalawa, tatlo, apat, lima, anim, pito, walo. That's 1 - 8 in tagalog for those of you who couldn't figure it out. My friend's birthday was the other night, and the same night her boyfriend was in a hip hop battle show at the Kava Lounge. So we went to see them, even though that is not our thing at all. But the 2 times we've seen him, he was by far the best. Anyhoo, the 2 guys that went after him were Pilipino, at least one of them was. Sometime in one of their, songs, pieces, poems, raps, whatever you call it, they counted to three in tagalog. I could appreciate that. I used to be able to count quite well in tagalog when I was like six. Anyway, I've digressed. I like Yakitori Yakyudori, and they stay open a little later that most places.

Yakitori Yakyudori
4898 Convoy Street
San Diego, CA 92111