Salsa Eating Salsa

They call me Salsa and I like eating salsa. Learning, exploring, obsessing, indulging-- home cooking, restaurant, high end or low end, I don't care-- I want to enjoy every meal every day.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Interesting experiment, but...

I'm stopping this blog.... er, not like I've posted in a while anyway!

Reasons include...
* My little camera busted in Mexico, which broke my momentum,
* Since getting more serious about food, I want to put more time into it-- that's less time for trying to journal everything,
* I spend too much time editing copy,
* I have too many other projects.

These posts will reappear elswhere at some point, but for now....

Over and out.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Flavor machine!

Mom sent me and Deb 7 qt. Le Creuset ovens for Chanukah-- sweet! It's amazing-- the heft and the enamel finish work wonders, and it's easy to clean.
Le Creuset
I made a pork loin last night-- marinated it, browned it on the stove, then poured the remaining marinade in the pot and put it in the oven, covered, for ~:40. It came out like this-- I was worried about the thick crust baked onto the enamel. But after removing the meat and pouring off the fat, it deglazed perfectly with a little chicken stock and red wine and made my most succulent pan sauce yet-- it wasn't a burned crust but a build-up of tasty fond.

Keeping it real (trefe) for Chanukah

As I lit the Chanukah candles last night, it occurred to me that I'd never made latkes. I checked in Measure for Pleasure and changed the recipe a bit-- I added a second egg (since it didn't hold together with one and the potatoes were big), and I grated a small red onion into it for savoriness.

I tried different oils for different batches-- olive oil, canola oil, and ghee-- the ghee worked the best since it could get really hot so the pancakes browned beautifully. I kept them under foil to eat later, planning on going out for applesauce, but made some instead while the pork roast cooked in the oven.

I stuck to the plan to make the pork loin (making it a trefe night in the kitchen) and marinated it in the fridge with a garlic/oregano/salt/pepper/citrus marinade from the Gourmet cookbook.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Grandma's chicken soup

I made a batch of soup last night and it came out great, yielding 2 1/2 quarts of clean, gold soup after separating, straining, and defatting.


I've just discovered the variety of salamis at Molinari's Italian deli (a block from home), their best being the "Sopressata" which at some point is cured in red wine.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

French Bread

After getting pork chops in the oven, I was still bored, so I mixed up a batch of french bread dough and let it sit in an oiled bowl for a while. The apartment felt chilly so I put the bowl under a lamp so the magic would happen.
The recipe is from The James Beard Cookbook.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Found the book!!!

Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1
first edition found at Green Apple Books! I've looked for it every time I've gone to the store for a few years-- makes sense that I'd find it at some point.

I've cooked a lot of good stuff lately, but without the camera to start the quantization, it never makes it to blogland!

Recent seasonal cooking: Mrs. Tuchman's honey cake (recipe coming soon), FoodTV pumpkin chocolate chip, and Gourmet mini black+white cookies.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Thai fried cashew with chicken dinner

For dinner, I put together a delicious dish of fried cashew with chicken using my trusty cook book from Baan Thai cooking school in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

1 smallish chicken breast, sliced thin
1/4 C raw cashews
~1 1/2 C oyster mushrooms, torn in strips
3 baby corns (or a small carrot)
1/2 large onion
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small bell pepper
1 green onion
1/2 t fish sauce
2 T oyster sauce
1 t sugar
2 T peanut oil

Heat the oil in the wok (er, pan) and fry the cashews until cooked, then remove. Add the garlic and chicken and mix it until the chicken is cooked. Add the onion and bell pepper, and cook for a few minutes. Add the mushrooms and corn. When cooked, add the fish sauce, oyster sauce and sugar, and mix together. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the green onion and cashews. Serve over rice. I like to dribble sriracha on top for some heat.

Best... tacos... ever

I say a lot of things are the best ever, especially tacos, and I got what I wanted in Los Barriles. The guys and I pulled up to a little home front taqueria-- two tables with chairs and a counter with some stools-- and were greeted by a large, smiling hostess who took our orders and went inside to cook. The fish was fresh and delicious, deep fried in a light batter, served on homemade corn tortillas. With the tacos came two salsas (verde and chipotle), a bowl of grilled jalapenos and onions, and fresh cabbage, cucumber, and limes. "Prefecto" was uttered more than once during lunch.

Monday, October 17, 2005

¡Viva Mexico!

Sorry for not posting lately, but work was rough and I took last week off to travel to los cabos in Baja California Sur, Mexico. Unfortunately my digital camera took on water during a fishing trip, so I don't have pics of tasty plates like I'd like to, but pics will come later.

We spent most of our time around Los Barriles, staying at Martin Verdugo's Beach Resort. We also spent a night at Hotel Punta Colorada the eve of our big fishing trip-- 8 tuna, 5 red snapper, and a 100 lb marlin. The marlin and one of the tuna went back in, and we had three of the tuna and two of the snapper filleted and flash-frozen-- there will be pics of cooked fish on this page soon enough.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Gaggia MDF coffee grinder

IMG_1714.JPG I got my Gaggia MDF grinder (left) last week to complement my Gaggia Classic espresso machine (right)-- it's wonderful! I got sick of buying beans pre-ground after getting good at pulling good shots, and now I can dial in my system-- a 22-25 second grind at setting 4 seems best for pulling a perfect 22 second double shot.

So far, I've enjoyed Caffe Trieste's "Italian Dark Espresso" roast. After that was done, I filled it with 1/2 lb of 3-week old beans from Graffeo that were sealed in the fridge, and they were flat-- no complexity or richness, esp. since they ground 1/2 lb for me a few weeks ago and it was stellar-- I need to get fresh Graffeo beans. I got 1/2 lb from Caffe Roma to see how they roast, and while it's fresh, I'm not impressed.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Roasted Pork Loin Dinner

IMG_1713.JPG_cropPeople came over Wednesday night for dinner and I roasted a 5 lb pork loin from Little City Meats. I generally followed the recipe from Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home-- seasoned, browned, then roasted on apples at 375. Guests brought sweet potato patties with a spicy sauce, pan roasted brussels sprouts, a red cabbage salad with pine nuts and goat cheese, and an amaretto cake for dessert.

IMG_1715.JPGI browned the meat in a pan with some shmalz (skimmed from the chicken stock) and a little canola oil. I had to cut the pork loin cut in two since it wouldn't fit in the pan for browning. Having two pieces of meat made it easier to brown the sides-- the tongs held them together.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Condensing and cooling stock

I didn't have enough room in the freezer for another three quarts of stock, so I put it back in the pot to reduce it to 1/4 volume. When it was done, I wanted to cool it fast so used my regular ice bowl method.
The stock went into a bowl: 167 degrees.
On went a bowl of ice water, and after 5 minutes, it measured 79 degrees-- ready to pour into an ice tray. The remaining cup went into the fridge, uncovered: will it evaporate? I marked the level and will check tomorrow.

Monday, September 19, 2005


I made pizza dough last night before going to bed-- I let the bread machine do the work. It sat in the fridge all day in oiled Saran wrap and since a meet up time of 8:30 (really 9) was declared by the crew, I'm eating fast... typing between pizza slices...

I rolled out half the dough into a square and on went heirloom tomato slices, fresh mozarella, chopped up parsley and basil, salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Cooked ~10 minutes in the convection oven at 425 and it's delicious. I'd never made pizza from scratch before, but I'll do it again soon (since, you know, I've got the other half of the dough...:).

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Chicken stock

Besides cooking with stock, I like making it-- there's something homey about a pot simmering on the stove for hours.
3 lbs chicken carcasses, 2 good sized onions, chopped up Chinese celery, and a few garlic cloves. I skimmed fat a few times and filtered it for schmalz. The pot yielded ~3 quarts-- I'll freeze pints in ziplocs tomorrow and fill an ice cube tray.

Sunday surprise: mini crawfish boil!

Walking through Chinatown on Stockton, I wandered in and out of a few fish markets-- always fun to poke at the live crabs, frogs, and turtles. One shop had the best surprise in a big box at the front of the store-- live crawfish! Even though it was 2:30, I hadn't had lunch (figuring I'd stop at Little Paris for a sandwich or pho), and my late lunch mission was clear: I needed to boil some crawfish! I'll post the name of the market later-- they were all very nice, the owner asking me what I would do with them. I said "I'll boil them spciy-- I'm going home right now!" and took off with 2 lbs of the suckers.
When I got home, I put a pot of water on the stove immediately, then rinsed the mud off the crawfish in a big bowl, then looked up a boil spice mix recipe-- I didn't have Zatarain's. I do not recommend the recipe, but it got the job done. Tip: spraying water on a crawfish's underside makes it slap its tail against its belly.
It was fun playing with the crawfish, and I was tempted to keep the biggest one ("Jacques"?) as a pet... but mercy came and went, and they all went in the boiling water.
Fifteen minutes later, I dumped out a dainty, dirty pile and had at 'em. In no time, I'd grabbed, twisted, ripped, sucked, and bit everything I could.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Quick Saturday night dinner: PCC

Plain dinner, :45 start to finish. I pounded flat some boneless chicken breasts from New May Wah and did them up as "pork chop chicken" or "PCC," the scourge of Camp Centerland: seasoned, floured, then dipped in egg, then in seasoned breadcrumbs. I didn't have breadcrumbs (or bread) so used instant potatoes. I cooked them in an olive oil and butter mix on medium-high. I roasted some red and green bell peppers and broccoli in the convection oven, oiled and seasoned with herbes de provence. I made jasmine rice and had plenty of leftovers-- I'll bring in lunch on Monday.

Flickr for recipes

After uploading a few pics to Flickr, I found a link on Boing Boing that led me back there-- a photo set of scanned recipe cards, stains and all. I love stains on recipe cards and cookbooks... mmm... stains...

Monday, September 12, 2005

Monday is red beans and rice day

Continuing this New Orleans kick has been strange. It makes me sad to think about the devastation, but, I feel like pots and pans hanging idle in empty kitchens means the world is missing something. Cooking my favorite New Orleans dishes is my way of carrying the torch until New Orleans is "back."

With no plans for dinner and cans of beans in the cupboard, I ran home over lunch, stopping at Safeway for Aidell's andouille and smoked turkey legs. I got some store brand andouille too, to compare. Sausage, turkey legs, veggies, seasonings, four small pork chops (from the freezer-- random factor), and water went in, the fire was on low-med, and I went back to work.

It was bubbling away gently when I got home, with maybe 1/3 reduction of the liquid. The pork chops broke apart easily, and the meat fell off the turkey leg bones. I made rice, toasted some bread, and sat down for a traditional New Orleans Monday dish-- it was great, but the Safeway andouille was garbage. Still, between the pork chops and turkey legs, there was plenty of meat.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Gumbo for the Crab Boil

In honor of New Orleans, a crab boil was called for Labor Day weekend in the Mission. I volunteered to bring some gumbo and foolishly bought a bunch of okra-- looking at recipes after getting home, I realized that recipes for game bird and andouille gumbo used roux, not okra, for thickening. Anyway, after getting some andouille and game hens, I got to work.

I mostly followed a recipe from Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen-- the recipes are complicated, and the results are well worth the effort.
Here's the stock simmering away. The biggest piece of work was sectioning the four game hens-- I'm OK with a chicken, but these things were small and there were four of them. I had to do it fast because the stock depended on roasting those extra bits-- innards (but no liver), necks, backs, wing tips and splits, etc.
The hen parts were seasoned, dredged in flour, and fried for a few minutes per side to get a golden finish, but not cooked through.
Some of the frying oil was saved to make the roux. Some of the trinity (New Orleans mire poix: onion+celery+pepper) cooked in the roux off the heat, and the mixture was stirred into the stock to start thickening, and and then everything went in.
This cooked down for about two hours-- check out that color...
Bringing it over to Mike's, we all ate boiled crab and shrimp with some gumbo on the side. And beer-- lots of beer.