Chocolate and bacon make good eatin'

The updating of the blog is creeping along ever so slowly due to work overload and Thanksgiving. My long-awaited food lab date has come and gone, and I'm pretty happy with the results. Each student in this seminar is supposed to research and present an international cuisine to the rest of the class and then actually prepare dishes in the hotel school's kitchens. My menu consisted of:

Fresh lumpia. These are Filipino "eggrolls" with pork, hearts of palm, shrimp and lettuce wrapped in crepe-like skins. Deelish, but a pain in the ass to make in a short amount of time. Lots of prep involved.

Champorado is a chocolate rice pudding served with dried salted fish or meat. We used bacon. Such a bizarre combo. It's eaten for breakfast in the Philippines. I made a batch of this at home and we tried it as our morning meal. It's tasty, but sits like lead in your stomach.

his sinigang was supposed to be a dinuguan with chicken blood, but there were some complications requisiting the blood. Apparently I would've had to obtain signed waiver forms from my classmates were they to eat this, even if cooked. I personally think this block was simply an aversion to the idea of consuming such a taboo food in class. Who knows? Perhaps cooked blood is prone to carrying more diseases than chicken meat itself. Anyway, this stew was a quick revision to my original recipe using almost all the ingredients for the dinuguan sans blood. We added tamarind, fish sauce, and tomatoes.

For dessert, we made yema, an egg yolk confection with condensed milk and potato flakes. A bit gummy and super-rich, but edible. I think it the sticky consistency and the bright yellow yolk appearance freaked people out a bit.

Overall, I thought it a decent meal, but I'm definitely tired of testing Filipino recipes for the past month. My arteries are probably clogged solid now from the vast amounts of coconut milk I've eaten in stews and desserts.


New foods, in brief

Haven't had much time as of late to update the blog, but instead will take the lame-ass way out and post a few pics from the hotel class.

Basque baked eggs and my first attempt at matzo brei.

Everytime I think of matzo brei, I remember Ruth Reichl's description of how she tried to win a boy's heart by cooking this after nights hanging out with friends. Seemed to go over well with the group, but I'm not really sure I cooked it "authentically" or if it even had the right proportions of crackers to egg. Oh well.

These are crazy green Indonesian coconut rolls. Pretty yummy, although the day-glo color is a bit frightening.

Lastly, a pic of us tasting underdone Hawai'ian laulau. Laulau = pork butt, chicken, and butterfish mixed together, wrapped in ti and poi leaves, and steamed. Not bad, but a bitch to make under pressure. I seemed to be allergic to the ti leaves and broke out into a nice rash the day we cooked it. Photo of rash not provided.


makin' good use of CSA produce

This is what happens when you have an overabundance of produce from your local CSA. We've had to think of a great many new uses for root veggies and cabbage.

Our CSA, West Haven Farm, invited shareholders to harvest corn smut this year from the fields. Corn smut aka Mexican truffles aka corn disease aka huitlacoche are apparently a delicacy in parts of Mexico and fancy restaurants in the U.S. The outsides have these nice shades of purple, but when you bite into them, they pop open and the smut kernel's powdery black guts come spilling out. Strange tasting; they turn any dish dingy and leave a dry taste in the mouth. Kind of mushroomy yet slightly corn flavored. We tried them in burritos and with a sausage spaghetti sauce. I have a feeling we harvested too late and suffered the penalty of overly dry, spore-filled galls. Next year I'll be the first in line to pick and eat fresh smut. I guess one can buy them canned in international supermarkets.


Rastafarian and Burmese...bizarre combo

Last week's lab: Rastafarian and Burmese food. Burmese is incendiary, while food of the Rasta is woefully bland (unless you add cannabis oil, the traditional condiment for the culture!)

Burmese (or Myanmar-ese?) basil-pumpkin soup. The "pumpkin" is really butternut squash, since the traditional orange veggie we use for Halloween is indigenous to North America. I don't think it transferred over to Southeast Asia, but I could be wrong...
Prawn salad. Self-explanatory. I'm thrilled we get to requisition all these great ingredients - the shrimp were massive!

My lab is set for the second week of November, and I'll be featuring Filipino food. I'm thinking about procuring the infamous (and terrifying) balut egg. For those unfamilar with the snack, it's a fertilized duck egg best eaten after 7-14 days. Check out deep end dining's detailed blog entry. Warning: brace yourself for small, sickly, bloody baby ducks. Mwa ha ha ha! Actually, given the chance, I might take a small nibble, but I wouldn't dare unwrap the thing., but this means that I'll have to probably take the first bite.

Rastafarian cuisine, is, to put it bluntly, terrible. At least the small sampling we were subjected to. The culture doesn't believe in salt since it's processed, and its people subsist mainly on nuts, grains, fruits and vegetables. No fauna or fish, despite the fact that most constituents of Rasta beliefs live on the ISLAND of Jamaica. Surrounded by fruits of the sea, but not even able to eat a single crab. How sad! Apparently frequent droughts also leave Jamaicans and Rastafarians in dire environments. It must take incredible restraint to not dip into those waters and pull up a briny feast.

This here is groundnut stew, which is essentially peanuts, condensed milk and paprika. No salt, and no flavor. Not exactly mouthwatering. Again, the cannabis oil might help.


grasshoppers, scrapple and other culinary delights

So I'm taking a class in Cornell's Hotel School titled "Seminar in Culture and Cuisine". It's wild - we discuss communality and eating habits around the world, and then actually go into lab and cook all the food. We've had American Southern, Rastafarian and Burmese cuisine in the past two weeks. I've also eaten a number of new comestibles - grasshoppers, scrapple, and tobacco & betel breath freshener mixes. Check out the grub from the first week:

Dandelion salad. Still more of a fan of these leaves when they're cooked. I suppose I haven't developed that acquired taste for really bitter foods yet. The salad made in class was slightly wilted with lots of savory additions (i.e., bacon bits & fat).

Behold my second try at fried chicken! Turned out relatively well, although it could have used more salt and spice. Luckily the recipe requires hot sauce as a condiment, so all other possible rank flavors are masked. My first shot was pathetic - the oil wasn't hot enough and I removed the chicken before it was thoroughly cooked. The result? Slick, greasy, and very raw bird pieces. In a last desperate attempt, I put the mangled chicken in the oven to cook. No miracle ensued, and Tony had to gag down a few token pieces as to not insult me. These, fortunately, were edible and didn't make the class sick.

Frog legs had a yeast batter which left them nice and fluffy but not exactly pleasant when re-heated. I heart amphibians! They're especially delicious eaten with red chili sauce and ketchup. More food and knitting to come soon. The instructor promises we'll cook a turducken at the end of the semester. Exciting!


portland, my dream city

A few photos from the city of roses...

View from the teahouse's second floor at the Chinese Garden.

Pipe sculpture at McMenamin's Edgefield resort in Troutsdale. Nice place, fabulous food, but way too white for me. I mean, the place had a tribute statue of Jerry Garcia! Rock on. Tony and I got a few funny looks from other visitors who turned to gawk at "one of those interracial couples". The restaurant's offerings are to die for, though. Perfectly tender calamari, and peppered lamb chops that literally melted like butter in the mouth.

Japanese-American Memorial Park on the Waterfront.

Almost a year later....

Prompted/guilted into by a family member, I've decided to update the blog after almost a full year. What a waste of web space! I take solace knowing that other worthless blogs out there are still going strong.

The latest finished product I've knitted was months ago. A knitted box from July from: Mason-Dixon Knitting: The Curious Knitters' Guide: Stories, Patterns, Advice, Opinions, Questions, Answers, Jokes, and Pictures.