Tangled Branches: Satiated

riveting tales of how we sustain ourselves

Friday, August 27, 2004

Pork Chops and Chopped Pork

When last we talked, I was fuming about the lack of unadulterated pork products at my closest supermarket. We grilled the "All Natural" Smithfield Lean Generation pork chops on Wednesday night. I have to admit that there was nothing wrong with them exactly....but they had zero flavor, and they stuck to the grill even though I rubbed them with olive oil before putting them on. They were seasoned with salt, pepper, a dash of vinegar, and the aforementioned olive oil, and they tasted like **nothing**. As an aside, yesterday the parent company of my local supermarket announced disappointing financial results for the second quarter. Note to management: try stocking better quality products - I used to rely on this store for good meat (even if the prices were high and their produce was always horrible).

Now actually the whole point of this exercise was to try the Virginia Gentleman Bourbon Berry BBQ sauce that I bought at Wegman's a while back. We got the full flavor of the sauce, since the pork chops had none of their own. And the sauce was just OK. I may try their Chipotle sauce before giving up on them. I really wanted to like it, since Virginia Gentleman Bourbon has a local history.

We had two pork chops left over after grilling on Wednesday, so they became Thursday's Pork Vindaloo. I generally followed the recipe in Maya Kaimal's Curried Favors, but doubled up on the amount of ground red chile (wanted more heat) and tomatoes (needed to use up some). And I substituted whole dried Thai chiles for the green chiles called for by the recipe. I've been having a hard time finding green chiles that are actually hot these days, even at the Asian and Hispanic markets. Anyway, the vindaloo was very good, and I will definitely use that recipe when I make it again.

posted by Entangled at 8:01 AM 0 comments  

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Giant and Smithfield

Just went to Giant to pick up some pork chops for the grill. Was hoping to find the nice thick loin chops that they used to have there, but imagine my dismay when I see that every fresh pork product in the display case is Smithfield Lean Generation Self-basting. Grrrrr! I don't want this $#@&! And the pork chops were all thinly cut...no wonder they have to do something to fix the flavor and the dryness. Yuck.

So I walked with trepidation to the service meat counter, hoping for something better. The service meat counter is very lightly stocked these days and you have to ring the service bell to get somebody out to wait on you. At least they still have a service bell. And in the case at the service counter, I found "All Natural" Smithfield Lean Generation pork chops, cut thick. According to this website, "All Natural" just means they haven't injected any junk into it. Well, I plan to grill them anyway. {sigh} But I am not going there again for pork chops.

More later....

posted by Entangled at 6:22 PM 0 comments  

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Neisha Thai

Tuesday night I was offering BBQ pork sandwiches, but DH wanted to go to Neisha Thai in Tyson's Corner. So we did. Construction at the mall has really left them with a mess in front of the restaurant - outdoor tables gone, and no parking (free valet parking available), but this food is still worth a little hassle to get. For an appetizer, we had Goong Fu - deep-fried green beans, tiny shrimp (with panko bread crumbs?) & cashews with a lime juice dressing. For the main course we shared Passion Beef, and Grilled Salmon in Banana Leaf. Passion Beef is Thai fajitas - strips of beef marinated, then cooked over high heat and served on a sizzling platter. Grilled Salmon in Banana Leaf is the only Asian-style preparation of salmon I have ever had that actually complements the salmon. They use lemon grass and kaffir lime leaf, and I'm not sure what else - all wrapped in banana leaf and grilled, served with grilled vegetables, and a lime juice-fish sauce dipping sauce.

posted by Entangled at 8:08 AM 0 comments  

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

BLTs

Monday's dinner was BLTs and sauteed green beans. I made the BLTs with 2 different kinds of bread and we had half a sandwich of each kind. I've been trying to find a replacement for Mom's Apple Pie Co.'s sunflower seed bread. This bread made the very best BLTs, but alas it is no longer easy to obtain. Used to be sold at Chantilly Farm Market (way back when) or at Mom's Apple Pie Co. store in Herndon. Unfortunately, Mom moved to an industrial park in Sterling and now only has one retail location in Leesburg. I never go to Leesburg anymore - too much effort. So I'm still looking for a similar bread for BLTs. One of the substitutes I tried was Great Harvest's Dakota - this has lots of seeds in it and a good crunch, but not the same firm texture (to keep all the juicy sandwich ingredients in without falling apart). The other substitute was a country whole-wheat from Atwater Breads - a nice bread, but not quite what I am looking for in a BLT bread.

For a nice change from the usual BLT, use flavored mayonnaise. I usually make basil-garlic mayonnaise, but this time I made mustard-chile-honey mayonnaise. Just a few spoonsful of mayo, a dollop of prepared coarse-ground mustard, a dash of Penzey's Aleppo Chile, and a dab of honey. Mix all together and slather generously on sandwich.

posted by Entangled at 6:08 PM 0 comments  

Monday, August 16, 2004

Catching up

I haven't posted anything here for a few days, so let's get caught up.

Thursday: We went to Dominion Brew Pub, because it was a gray, rainy evening and because I was offering BLTs at home, but DH said he had one for lunch. The food at Dominion used to be great, but is now just OK. Fish & chips is reliable though, and the batter-coated French fries are addictive. I had Tupper's Hop Pocket Pils, and DH had Spring Brew.

Friday: I made "Grilled Eggplant Salad" from Taverna, a Sunset cookbook. Though called a salad, to me this is a cross between Baba Ganoush and a Raita - a roasted eggplant mashed up with some garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil (the Baba Ganoush part), with yogurt and hot pepper (the Raita part). I roasted the eggplant in the oven instead of on the grill, so to give a bit of a smoky flavor, I added some Spanish smoked hot paprika. A little of this goes a long way - it's quite smoky - but it gives a nice round flavor to the dish. I used a bit of Penzey's Aleppo pepper for the heat in the dish, instead of cayenne or fresh jalapeno as suggested. Accompaniments to the eggplant were tomato wedges with chopped red onion and basil, dressed with olive oil, salt and pepper; and Great Harvest's plain Focaccia.

Saturday: lunch was more tomato wedges with onion, basil, olive oil, served with some toasted bread we picked up from Atwater Bakery at the Arlington Farmer's Market.
Dinner was pizza at Emilio's in Sterling, our every-alternate-week pizza place.

Sunday: lunch was scrambled eggs with bacon, onion, and mild chile peppers, wrapped in tortillas with some fresh tomato salsa.
For dinner we decided to get a dosa at Amma Vegetarian Kitchen. I had masala dosa and DH had onion rava dosa.

And that brings us to today (Monday), where I am once again offering BLTs for dinner.

posted by Entangled at 5:39 PM 0 comments  

Friday, August 13, 2004

Julia Child

I just learned that Julia Child died yesterday. Being a self-taught-from-books cook, I am in her debt. I only have one of her books - Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home - but I enjoy reading it and cooking from it.
Some good Julia links:
Julia's Kitchen at the Smithsonian
Judith Jones, Editor of Mastering the Art of French Cooking

posted by Entangled at 12:59 PM 0 comments  

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Pollo Campero

Last night, we tried a new fast-food place. Yes, fast food. And we were very, very happy.
A few weeks (months?) ago, I noticed a new chicken place in Herndon. Ho hum, we are awash in chicken places around here. Didn't think much about it. Then yesterday, the NY Times Food section had a short piece on the opening of Pollo Campero with customers lined up down the street. Aha, that is the name of the place in Herndon. So we must try it.
The fried chicken was moist and flavorful, with a crispy, spicy coating. The dinners come with tortillas or biscuit, one side dish, and a soda. DH chose the mashed potatoes, and I had beans; we both had tortillas and a selection of salsas from the salsa bar. It was all good.
They have a few tables outside in front so we sat there and devoured everything. As we were leaving I said "We will be back.......tomorrow".
More info on the NY opening here and here.

posted by Entangled at 6:40 AM 0 comments  

Easy Dinner

Tuesday, I spent a lot of time gardening and wasn't eager to come inside and make a big mess in the kitchen. And DH came home early to mow the lawn, so going out was not really an option either. So Trader Joe's made dinner. Well not quite, but their Seasoned Rack of Lamb requires nothing more than removing it from the package and heating it until cooked (we grilled it). Add some sliced potates and onions (salt, pepper, olive oil and a dab of butter) in foil on the grill, and some sliced tomatoes, onions & basil (salt, pepper, olive oil) and there is the meal. Serve with a nice bottle of wine.

posted by Entangled at 6:11 AM 0 comments  

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Tamale Hash

Last night we had Tamale Hash. This is based on a recipe in The Border Cookbook by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison. I fried 2 stips of bacon, then removed it to a plate. Removed some of the bacon fat and replaced it with olive oil (does this really make sense?). Sauteed some chopped onion and mild chile peppers, seasoned with salt and black pepper, until fairly soft. Added some (3/4 cup?) frozen corn kernels and stirred until the corn was heated through (because it was still frozen when I added it). Then added 2 fresh corn tamales (frozen actually; it is the corn that is fresh, not the tamales), sliced into about 1/2" pieces, and crumbed the bacon back into the pan. Then put the lid on the pan and left it to sit on medium heat until the tamales started to brown a bit. Gave it a stir, and let the tamales brown some more. Meanwhile, fried 2 eggs. When the hash looked like is was browned enough, put some thinly sliced sharp cheddar cheese on top (let it melt) and divided the hash onto 2 plates and topped each with a fried egg and fresh salsa. I don't think I've made this dish the same way twice. You can vary the type of tamales, seasoning vegetables, bacon or sausage or neither, any kind of salsa (fresh, canned, tomatillo, whatever), cheese or not, sour cream/creme fraiche or not, etc. etc. You get the idea. The only thing I have kept constant in all versions is the onion and the corn kernels (but I have used leftover grilled sweet corn sometimes instead of frozen corn).

posted by Entangled at 5:52 PM 0 comments  

Restaurants & Leftovers

We bracketed the weekend with leftovers, and in the middle we went to restaurants.
Saturday night was pizza at Buon Appetito, one of our two usual places for pizza.
Sunday we had brunch at Southside 815. They have a couple of dishes only on Sunday that are worth the trek to Alexandria - Stuffed French Toast, and Southern Eggs Benedict. The French Toast is stuffed with cream cheese, pecans, and raspberries - 3 big slices. The Southern Benedict is 2 poached eggs on sweet cornbread with hollandaise sauce with tasso, served with potatoes fried with peppers and onions. A bit of vinegar from Crystal Hot Peppers in Vinegar is good on the potatoes.

posted by Entangled at 5:33 PM 0 comments  

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Indian Food

Last night I cooked Indian food. We had Maharashtrian-style Prawns (this is the exact recipe; shame on her for publishing a copyrighted recipe) and Cucumber-Peanut Koshambir (this recipe is similar). I wanted to use up the other half pound of crab meat left over from Thursday's crab cakes, so I made the prawn curry with half crab meat and half shrimp. Both recipes are from Madhur Jaffrey's excellent book (all her books are excellent) A Taste of India, now out of print. We ordinarily have bread with Indian food, but last night I made rice with butter and onions, from another Madhur Jaffrey book, Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking, now available in a revised edition - mine is quite old and was given to me by a dear departed friend.
And with it being Friday, we had beer. I had Dominion Summer Wheat and DH had Dominion Pale Ale.

posted by Entangled at 5:46 PM 0 comments  

GrandMart

Yesterday's lunch was prepared by GrandMart (was going to post a link but they don't seem to have a web site), and consumed sitting by the pond at Ellanor C. Lawrence park. Anyway, I picked up some chap chae (transliterated into Roman alphabet many ways) and some marinated tofu (I like this, DH doesn't), and found an interesting item for dessert - sweet hot dried mango slices. The mango slices are coated with sugar, salt, and red chile (so says the label) but we didn't detect much red chile.
There was a lot of competition for the picnic tables by the pond - I suppose because the weather was so nice yesterday. Usually we have the place to ourselves.

posted by Entangled at 5:18 PM 0 comments  

Thursday's Dinner

Crab cakes & cole slaw. I made the crab cakes generally following the recipe on the back of the Phillips can with a few important changes. The crab cakes will hold together better (as in "not fall apart in the frying pan") if you do 2 things. 1. Puree about half the bread crumbs, the egg(s), all the seasonings, and part of the crab meat together in the food processor first. Then mix in the rest of the bread crumbs and the crab meat by hand. 2. Form the crab mixture into balls. Then roll the balls on a plate containing dry bread crumbs, seasoned as you wish (this time I used salt, white pepper, and a small amount of Penzey's Chesapeake Bay Seasoning). Then flatten the balls, using more bread crumbs if needed to keep the patties together. Refrigerate the patties uncovered for an hour or so before cooking.

posted by Entangled at 5:01 PM 0 comments  

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Clean the Fridge

I have not done any notable cooking yet this week. Or maybe I have, if you consider using up things in the fridge to be notable cooking.


Monday's dinner was a frittata that used up: grilled eggplant slices & some sauteed onions/tomatoes which was a topping for last week's grilled eggplant sandwiches. I chopped 2 slices of bacon and sauteed those medium-crisp and removed them from the skillet; added frozen peas and some chopped seeded tomato; cooked that a bit and added the leftovers, sort of coarsely chopped; cooked that down a bit and then removed all to a bowl which already contained the cooked bacon. Beat 4 eggs; wiped out the skillet and added a bit of butter and olive oil to it; heated over low heat until butter melted; then added about 1/2 the beaten eggs (or enough to thickly cover the bottom of the skillet); then added the filling mixture and topped with the rest of the eggs. Placed in the oven (400 degrees) until puffy and starting to brown. Served with a mini baguette (partially pre-baked from La Brea Bakery), and Trader Joe's California Estate Olive Oil from Arbequina olives (?), with some black pepper ground over the oil. We didn't much like the oil - thought it was objectionably "green" tasting.


Tuesday, DH was not home for dinner, so I snacked (bad, bad, bad).


Wednesday's dinner was also about cleaning the freezer. We grilled some Aidell's sun-dried tomato turkey/chicken sausages (freezer), served on Ecce Panis ciabatta rolls (freezer), topped with (sauteed: red onions and Trader Joe's Roasted Red & Yellow Peppers and Trader Joe's Pepperoncini (fridge) and leftover ketchup-Sriracha sauce (fridge)) and leftover basil-garlic mayonnaise (fridge). Had some Original Terra Chips alongside the sandwiches. We now tend to buy the Terra Potato Chips instead of the orginal mixed vegetable chips, so this was a nice change.


posted by Entangled at 9:39 AM 0 comments  

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Dinner

DH usually doesn't want an evening meal after we have dim sum, but today he did. So...he picked up a lamb kebab wrap from Sorrento Grill. We always enjoy the food there, and we can easily split an entree between us and have plenty of food. But we feel guilty sharing just one dish if we eat in the restaurant, so if we want to go light we get carry-out.

posted by Entangled at 8:00 PM 0 comments  

Lunch

After hearing about the wonderful wedding banquet my parents attended last night, I had a strong urge to have Chinese food for lunch. So we went to Mark's Duck House for dim sum. Hadn't been there in months. We got there around noon, but didn't have to wait too long. Everything was great, but looking back at what we chose, we didn't have much variety - shrimp & chive dumplings, shrimp & scallop dumplings, shrimp dumplings, shrimp in seaweed rolls, seafood in bean curd skin rolls, and stir-fried chive blossoms with dried shrimp.

It looks like the Vietnamese bakery next door has given over half its space to a taco/coffee shop and is now calling itself Fiesta Cafe. Looks like they do both Vietnamese sandwiches and tacos - including tacos de lengua (tongue) if you like. And you can get a cup of Green Mountain Coffee to go with.

posted by Entangled at 5:43 PM 0 comments