Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Hello All! We hope this finds you well-fed and ready to eat normally once again. As lunch sits on my desk, I feel remiss in not sharing the tale of its creation.

What we have here is an Orzo salad. Orzo is a delightful, rice-shaped pasta that is fairly perfect for your cold salad needs. Just cook and rinse in cold water while you prepare your other ingredients.

For today's iteration, we first took 2 links of hot italian sausage, which I cooked on the grill the other night while my steak, the shrimp, and Misty's Parrano-covered sockeye salmon got toasty. This brings to mind an important point: if you are grilling, especially with charcoal, don't waste the fire. You can bring many meats to even the most averagely sized grill at one time, and you know you've gots to eat the rest of the week. Grill up those proteins (and veggies and whatever else) and have them at the ready when you want them. Then when you're ready to use them, it'll be like you bought pre-prepared food at the store, only better 'cause you cooked it.

So, to add to the sausage chunks, we dropped in some cubed feta, green onion, diced white onion, celery, 1-2 garlic cloves, parsley, and halved grape tomatoes. Salt and (lots of) pepper. Squeeze in a lemon. Combine your goodness, add some olive oil for viscosity and flava and sit it in the fridge for 15-20 minutes. If you don't have the time, eat up, but it won't be as good.

On today's leftover lunch, we rocked this dish up exactly 2 notches: (1) sliced avocado on top; and (2) halved Kalamata olives in the mix. You really don't even need to add salt for your avocado because the olives take care of you.

This is a nice, light dish that you could make in any quantity for a cool, tasty alternative. As I eat it, I feel like I could eat buckets of this lovin, so make extra, you're gonna want it.

Glad to have you back! Robot out!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cold in Texas

The other night, I made some chicken stock. Not just because I had some chicken parts laying around to make stock with; and not just because I wanted to freeze this stock in ice cube trays so that I could dose out a tablespoon or two at a time to make sauces. It's soup time folks.

Chicken Enchilada Soup
1 onion diced
1 Tbsp Chili powder
2 tsp Cumin
2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 Bay Leaf
1 Chipotle pepper in Adobo minced
1 Cup Masa Harina
2 Quarts Chicken Stock
1 Can of Crushed Tomatoes -- the small can (14.5oz or so)
1/2 Cup of Velveeta, diced
1&1/2 lbs of cooked chicken
1 bag frozen corn kernels
Chicken bouillon, if necessary

Alright -- dice that onion and sauté it in some olive oil. After you've got your onions nicely coated with oil, add all the powdered spices. Sautee these till they're nicely golden.
Meanwhile, take a quart of your stock, and add your 1 cup of Masa to it, whisk until all the lumps dissolve. When your onion is golden, whisk in the Masa/stock mixture. Stir this concoction until it comes to a boil, or you'll have lumps.
Mince your chipotle, and add it to the pot along with the bay leaf. Add some more of the adobo sauce from the can if you like it spicy. I like it spicy.
Let this simmer/thicken for ten minutes or so. Drink a beer, or open your mail. Whatever. Once the mixture has thickened up, add your 2nd quart of stock, the tomatoes and the cheese.
While the soup comes back to a boil, fire up a sauté pan and dump the frozen corn in with some olive oil. Let this roast in the pan until it’s well, roasted. Then sprinkle on a little chili powder. The roasting process is going to take a few minutes, say 15 - 20.
By this point, your soup should be boiling. Check it for seasoning. If it needs something (cumin, mabye?) add it. You'll note we've added no salt to this soup as yet. You're going to need some, probably a good bit. Make sure your soup is chicken-y enough first. If it doesn't have the chicken flavor you're looking for, add some bouillon. I'll admit, I added a couple of teaspoons. This also adds a good portion of salt. So, add your bouillon before your salt. And taste again. Once it tastes delicious, add your chicken. When the corn is good and roasted, add that too, but save a little for garnish. It looks pretty. If you want your soup thicker, this is the time to add more Masa. Make sure you whisk it in, or you’ll have lumpy soup.

Once your chicken is warmed up, the soup is ready to eat. However, it will be much tastier the next day, if you can wait that long. Garnish your soup with some of the reserved roasted corn, and a light dusting of paprika. Smoked if you've got it. It adds a little flavor to the mix. Maybe you want some lime? Lime might be nice.

Yeah, you're going to have to go buy a 5lb bag of Masa to make this soup, but, you can use it for other things. Like tamales. Looks like I'm going to be making tamales sometime soon. Maybe your Mexican market carries Masa in a smaller quantity than 5lbs. Mine doesn't. Oh well -- that gives us excuses for more delicious experiments.

Also, I admit this is a straight knockoff of the Chili’s Enchilada soup we all know and love. Except this tastes better, mostly because you made it.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Indian Extravaganza?

Cory posts about what sounds to be a delicious Indian restaurant, shortly before I'm going to post about some home cooked Indian I made the other night. How odd.

I love Indian food -- What I don't like is the fact that Indian restaurants are generally expensive. I'm not talking fine dining money here, but, dinner for two @ Roti Grill is approaching $40 these days, and they don't print coupons anymore, as far as I know. I've been going to the Kroger @ 635 and Macarthur just because they print coupons for Chatt Cafe on their receipts. Chaat Cafe is pretty tasty too...

So, a few weeks ago while @ Target, we bought some Archer Farms Tikka Masala sauce. Yeah, yeah, I know I should be making my own sauce, as this is a food blog, but, I didn't want to take the time, and I didn't want to have my first foray into Indian home cooking fail miserably, so, I consulted an "Expert".

That being said, I did put a nice Indian spice rub on the chicken before I sauced it, that, I did make on my own.

Indian Rub --
1/4 tsp Smoked Paprika
1/2 tsp each: Garlic Powder, Turmeric, Thyme, Cumin, Coriander and Ginger
1 tsp of Chili Powder
pinch of cinnamon

That's it. Check your Chili Powder for salt level, and season the meat/veggies accordingly with salt and pepper before cooking. I was able to season the one pound or so of chicken I sautéed last night and still had enough left over to season the peas and shallots (slice shallots thin, sauté in olive oil. Add frozen peas, cook to desired doneness, season, serve) that I served with our Tikka Masala.

Yes, next time I'll make my own masala sauce. Once I make it to the spice market, or farmers market, to get some garam masala and cardamom.

Oh and here’s that Chili Powder I promised you weeks ago:

Chili Powder –
4 parts Paprika
2 parts Garlic Powder
2 parts Salt (table, not kosher)
1 part Cumin (maybe more, if you like it more cumin-y)
1 part Chile New Mexico powder
½ part Chile de Arbol powder (hot!)

Mix together in and give it a taste. Add more salt/garlic/Chile to your taste. Also, if you want to add some Ancho, Chipotle or otherwise, that would make an excellent addition to the mix.


NYC Thanksgiving

Upon a recent trip to the Dutch outpost in the New World/food mecca, New Amsterdam, which people in certain circles have now presumptuously begun calling New York City, I and my wife-to-be, Misty, found several ways to fill our now-sated bellies. Though we were in the city to visit BeefRobot's vegetarian contributor, Libby, we took this meal with a high school friend of Misty's and his wife.

I will stick to a report of the finest meal, which took place at a tiny spot in the East Village, Graffiti. Operated by Jehangir Mehta, this place satisfies your food needs like few others. All the plates are small, and come out in succession, making for the perfect family style meal. Also, every bottle of wine is $25 - an excellent concept at worst. You can venture into the $35 all you can drink plan, should you choose that particular course for your evening, though we decided against this, as one of our number was preggos. For the record, el prego was/is not Misty, as far as we know.

The menu is divided by item price, which is pure genius. We started with the green mango paneer, and found ourselves enmeshed in a yummy deluge of pure goodness soon thereafter. This paneer actually had its own independent flavor: sweet, salty, milky; paired with the green mango lovin and placed atop a small piece of naan, it is truly transcendant. We then had the three cheeses plate, which starred two more-solid white cheeses and one more-soft white cheese. Memory fails, but they were all very good and were a nice second part to the meal.

Third up were the scallops, sliced thin and topped with pickled ginger and candied red chili. These were showstoppers, no doubt, and nothing I can add will further explain to you the delight the scallops caused in us. The fourth plate was a noodle roll with seaweed salad in the bottom and topped off with duck breast. This was my favorite of the night. Ridiculously good.

We followed that up with the Graffiti burger, fingerling potatoes, and chipotle mayonnaise. This was 2 mini burgers that we cut in half. The burger was deliciously juicy and starred some rockin sauteed onions on top. Next up was pork bun with apricot chutney. Uh, hell yes! This pork bun beat out the lunch pork bun we had at DimSum in Chinatown, hands down. The fluffy, pancakey bun kicked the hell out of the DimSum sweet roll version. Oh, and the meat inside was gloriously juicy, topped in some sort-of-barbecue goodness. I feel like we ate another item, but am drawing a blank; rest assured, it was awesome.

We started finishing up the meal, at the suggestion of Mr. Mehta, who was also our waiter (awesome!), with a prosecco lychee martini. Ohdeargod, this thing is ridiculous. They took lychee slushee (or whatever the proper culinary term for that is) and added prosecco. I think I just found meaning in life!!! This was a handsdown success, and even preggo had to try it!

Our dessert-dessert was a three sorbet delight: salty guava, grapefruit, and blood orange. Salty guava is delicious, especially followed up by the slow tension of the acidic-yet-sweet-undertoned g-fruit, and resolved with the front-of-the-tongue-titillating, sweet blood orange. We also had a fruit crumble of unremembered variety with ice cream, and it was good, just not stellar like everything else.

The price is your normal fine dining, $50 a person, which, considering our location, was damn good. The place is tiny, and I highly recommend reservations. They have a couple of stool spots for 2, which I understand come in very handy for the odd single diner. The kitchen is unbelievably tiny for the quality of food they put out here. Seriously, there are 2 industrial hot plates and 1, maybe 2 people cooking. You can barely scoot behind them to get to the bathroom and, once in there, have very little change of actually doing the required 180 to sit. In any event, the place succeeds completely, with expansive use of the basement via the front steps (which are outside). The constant opening of the door might be my only complaint, but it is mightily overshadowed by Mehta's and his chef's service, attention to detail (almost without a thought, but after asking our permission, they converted every dish to a 4 person dish), and overall tastiness of their food. Get a reservation now!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Monday Night

So, after a delicious dinner on Sunday with the crew, Monday left us to our own devices, and an opportunity to get back in the kitchen after a solid two weeks of not cooking. The wedding/honeymoon and general activity/business travel kept us eating out for a solid week upon our return. No more, my friends. Monday brings us to simplicity in the kitchen, simplicity in the form of Salmon Patties.

Yep -- think crab cakes, but, made with canned salmon. A family recipe perfected over the years exists; however, I didn't have that recipe handy when it was time to make them. So, we improvise.

Salmon Patties:
One can (the big one) of Red Salmon -- I like Honey Boy. Mostly for the name.
One Lemon
1/2 a small red onion, minced
Spices -- garlic, lemon pepper, Old Bay
If, you had some celery, red pepper and/or zucchini, that would be nice too.

Mince up that onion, and throw it into a skillet with a little olive oil and salt & pepper, to sauté. If you’ve got red pepper, mince it and add with the onion. If you’ve got celery and zucchini, mince and add after the other vegetables have softened a bit.

Meanwhile, open up that can, and dump your salmon log out onto a plate. Take some time to pick out the big bones. I also like to de-fat and de-skin the salmon as much as possible. This makes for a better patty. Once you've cleaned your fish a satisfactory amount, throw away those bones and mash up the remaining fish, and then place in a mixing bowl.

By now, your onion should be nicely golden. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool. While the onion cools, zest and juice the lemon into the bowl with the salmon. Add your onion. Now, spice the patties as you see fit. I probably used 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon+ of Old Bay. As has been suggested by so many chefs, season the mix until you think it tastes good.

Add a handful of Panko crumbs, and mix it all together. It should form balls fairly easily. If it's too dry, add some mayo -- a tablespoonful at a time. Too wet? Add more Panko. Let the mix firm up a bit in the fridge, maybe twenty minutes or so, before you form the mix into patties -- I generally get 5 from a batch. Heat a skillet with a bit of olive oil, and sauté the patties till golden brown and delicious.

These patties were served with green peas from a can (gross! -- Joy likes them) and cheesy garlic biscuits from a package -- which were delicious. Though, not nearly as delicious as the cheddar bay biscuit from Red Lobster -- which, as it turns out, is the only thing worth eating at the Pirate's Cove.

*Please note, I added an egg, for binding power, to my patties. This was absolutely unnecessary, and should not be repeated.


Beef returns! Posting extravaganza!

He's back, all full of marriage and wedded bliss. And with more reviews and recipes to post than time, so, we're going to try and roll them all up into one.

For those who haven't figured it out, I was recently married. It was a glorious affair, which took place on the Carnival Conquest, in Galveston Texas. Let me start by mentioning something which most of you have heard me say in the last couple of weeks; do not, under any circumstances, attempt to plan a wedding (and honeymoon) in a hurricane prone area anywhere near hurricane season. Even if the event is slated to take place [the day] after hurricane season ends, it takes time to clean up after one blows through your destination. Or so it would seem. Anyway, when it was all said and done, it was wonderful; a good time was had by all.

On to the review[s].

Cory and I had a brief conversation the other night about the food at my reception. And he's right, the good people at Carnival excel at all things fried, buttered, or covered in cheese. What little bit of food I had at the reception was tasty. Especially the smoked salmon and cream cheese on little toasts. I made more than one breakfast out of that smoked salmon on a bagel. I also enjoyed the blue cheese stuffed mushroom, and the tasty, if not overly warm, spring roll. Cory mentioned the drinks, particularly the blue margarita, or hangover punch. I was made aware that we could order beer, so, that's what I did. I did have a sip of the aforementioned margarita, and can say with some confidence that it was likely vodka fueled, and possibly made with Boone's Farm. Melonball-tini anyone?

I'm not going to review all the meals, but I will mention the highlights, and the lowlights.

Let's start low. The entree on the first night was not what I would call spectacular. I, among others at our table, ordered the strip steak. It did come out the requested medium rare but was grey and tasteless. I used steak sauce on this guy. I never use steak sauce, except of course when I'm having the $2.99 strip at The Horseshoe and it's 3am. The rest of the meal was good, standouts including the Caesar salad, and the warm chocolate melting "cake". The cake, which is a soufflé, is outstanding. Served with vanilla ice cream, it's available every evening. This would be our dessert on more than one occasion.

Highlight: Sur Mer, the fish and chips restaurant hidden on deck 10. Great fish and chips, crispy, light, and prepared to order. Joy really liked the fried oysters, I can't say the same, but I'm of the opinion that if you're not eating them raw, you're wasting them. With the occasional exception for a rockefeller-ing, or bienville-ing of said bivalve. The standout at Sur Mer was the zucchini, artichoke[?] and calamari fritter. Fried to order, full of spice, and deliciousness, and available every day from noon to two-thirty. Carnival's fry team strikes again.

Lowlight: The breakfast buffet. It's fairly standard hotel style breakfast buffet. There is a guy cooking omelets, which is nice, but, other than that, it's food for the masses. Joy did like the French toast, however. My advice, skip the buffet and order continental from room service.

Highlight: The appetizers at dinner. Particularly the escargots. So much butter and garlicky goodness. It's important to remember that you can order as much as you want, so, if you find something you like, hit it again. Other appetizer standouts include the stuffed mushrooms, the always available shrimp cocktail and Caesar salad. In general, the apps were really well done – I can’t think of one that I didn’t enjoy thoroughly

Mediocre-light: The evening that included a duck entrée choice, or shrimp and lobster. The lobster was tough, the duck was overcooked. The duck was delicious, and the sauce was tasty, but, that doesn’t change the fact that it was WELL done. Also, the poor fowl hadn’t been prepped properly and was left with 100% of his fat, making his all too delicious skin soggy and inedible. Yeah, I know, I should know better than to order duck, but, up until that point, with the exception of the first night, they’d been doing really well.

Highlight: The “supper club” restaurant, aka “The Point”. A $30 per person up charge gets you into this 5 course extravaganza of made to order dishes. Think of a Kirby’s or Bob’s, that costs $30 per person. For apps, I had the French onion soup, and Joy had the Lobster bisque. Both were overly congnac-ey, but, still very tasty. Follow that with a Caesar salad, and then, the entrée. Joy and I both had the rib eye, at 18oz, prepared to our liking. I had the three peppercorn sauce; however, it was not necessary. We had a side of the mashed potatoes, and creamed spinach. For dessert, Joy had a trio of chocolaty things, which were all tasty, but, at this point we were too full to eat them. This brings me to my dessert, the cheese plate.

I’ll pull a still from the video of the cheeses that I shot. Suffice it to say that I was served approximately one pound of cheese, from a selection of four cheeses. No joke, they laid down what was likely at least $25 worth of cheese on my plate, if not more. All of them were some level of delicious, and I managed to eat at least one bite of all four, before I had them wrap it up and send it to my room for late night snacking. All in all, the supper club is NOT a Bob’s, Kirby’s or Silver Fox. It is delicious, and at only $30, quite the value.

As I’m now deep into my 2nd page, I’ll go ahead and end here. If you have any specific questions, let me know, but, I’ve done my best to give the highlights for a full week of cruise food.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Massive [Economic Stimulus] Package / Chili Post

Because it is now almost Thanksgiving and because temperatures in TX have dipped below a frigid 50 degrees at least 5 times, with it is high time for a post about chili. This is a post that could likely go on forever, given the endless permutations of sweet, hot, and beefy that you decide to combine. We start with a fan submission, entitled "Bernice's Favorite Chili," named after Bernice. She is a comely woman from the suburbs of an area not far from here and encourages us to listen in class and pay attention to our pension funds.

"Bernice's Favorite Chili" makes 6 servings, and consists of the following:

2 16 oz. cans red kidney beans, drained
2 14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes
2 lbs. ground beef, browned and drained
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1 green pepper, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. pepper
2 ½ tsp. salt

Combine all ingredients in order and cook, covered, in a slow cooker, Crock Pot, I guess, on low for 10-12 hrs or on high for 5-6 hours.

The BeefRobot fans who contributed Bernice's now-famous concoction are no other than Blake and Jennipher Rice. Blake tells BR that he enjoys adding a habanero or two to the mix, probably, by our accounts, in inverse proportion to how manly he's feeling that day. For an Asian kick, he will rock a little Sriracha into the mix. If, true to his Xavier U. roots, he's feeling a little country, he rocks some Tony C's. Both are commendable.

I have a hard time really nailing down a chili recipe for you, loyal readers, but will chance an attempt at the chili I would make right now, if required to do so. Call it improv food blogging if you will. Call me Charlie Parker.

Grab a sautee pan (not your big chili receptacle). Add:

Some olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced (or just quartered, if you or your upper GI tract don't love garlic)

Sautee for on medium low (don't forget to add salt and pepper -- my instruction on how much is: as much as 1 onion and 6 cloves of garlic need, doi) while you take . . .

1 lb ground beef
.5 lb italian sausage (remove from the casing)

Add to the onion/garlic mixture - make the meat exceedingly fine by letting it cook a little and then separating every last piece until your arm is really f-ing tired

now, grab a beer and wait until you've got about 10 more minutes left on the meat; take the pot in which you will put the chili . . . make a roux; at medium low heat, add

4 tbsp bacon grease from this morning's bacon (or from your bacon grease stash in the fridge. what, you don't have one? start one!) [if you don't have bacon grease, use vegetable oil, unless you happen to be an old soul who has Crisco, then use that]
black pepper
lots of chili powder (like 10 shakes)
get a big spoon and and the flour
Parse a little flour in at a time while you stir your oil/spice mixture
stop adding flour when the mixture becomes a paste; if it is too dry, add oil; too wet, keep adding flour
when you're at the consistency, keep stirring and let it cook for 5-10 minutes

now drain your meat and add the onion-garlic-meat mixture


2 cans of pinto beans
2 cans diced tomatoes (or 5 diced tomatoes)

Add more chili powder and as much cayenne as you think you need (or a chipotle pepper); give it a little brown sugar - 2-4 tbsp

Add a thing of chicken broth (whatever you've got); if not, just use water but remember you'll need a little more seasoning. Some people add beer. I think this is wasteful; same for wine. If you want to be able to call your chili "Shiner Chili," add the beer. Whatever.

Hit this with a touch of cinammon. 1 shake. Taste the chili. You probably need more salt. Maybe Tony C's? Maybe just salt.

Once I start making chili, I really crave it, so I hate cooking it for long times. I can usually contain myself for an hour or two, though if my chili is looking watery, I will force myself to wait. Keep an eye on the stuff for getting too dry. This is one of the perils of cooking as I do, not measuring ingredients. I like to think the additional attention I have to give food is a good thing.

When its ready to eat, I add shitloads of cheddar and maybe crackers. Sometimes, rarely, sour cream. Oh yea, and some green onion, if, as my dad is known to say, "you are rich."

Grub on this mess hard. You will not hate yourself for it.

Robot OUT (to search for Beef)!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Some wine

After so much food, who can forgo a little wine? I give you a wine review in the absence of a review of Bistro D'Oc, where we hit up a pre-theater menu (the [cheap] way to grub here -- for me: pate, poached salmon with hollandaise on mashed sweet potatoes rife with cumin, and cream puffs + a free glass of [what I have determined to be] Franzia Burgundy -- $21.95).

But, on to the promised fare: a wine review. Tonight allowed us consumption of 2 bottles. Both were from the Whole Foods 20% off on a case of wine sale that just happened. The first bottle tonight was from a part of the Monterey County AVA that I only thought was new to me, Arroyo Seco. You will find the 2005 Jekel Vinyards Cabernet Sauvignon we had tonight described here. It was, indeed, quite tasty. To the review found there, I would add that this wine was incredibly drinkable and with a mild flavor of jalapeno jelly.

The second bottle was the 2007 Cline Zinfandel, which, I will be honest, I thought would be way too young to be anywhere near desirable. I was wrong; it was tasty as hell. While it is very light at the rim, which did not help my initial judgment of the wine, the body is full and with a hefty tobacco/clove punch. This punch is followed by a nice vanilla (from the oak), cherry flavor and a medium finish. This wine, in other words, is what you want.

So far, the Whole Foods / Cory-is-buying-anything-under-$12 sale rocks. Tomorrow very well may lead to another case, so stay tuned!

Robot out! Beef should be back from the cruise any day now -- reviews, it will be certain, await!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Beef on Honeymoon, Robot Reporting

After the electric-blue-and-definitely-not-tequila-based margaritas at the Peveto reception aboard Carnival Cruise Lines' best impressionist painting-cum-ship, I simply had to report in. The "Degas-rhymes-with-Vegas" Room [a quote from one of the hands on deck] was the reception site; Toulouse-Latrec's art decorated the ceremony area. Degas ballerina caryatids were the newel posts of many a stairwell, making for a delightfully arty promenade around, well, the promenade deck.

We grubbed a solid lunch buffet, including some standard chicken and lasagna dishes and the unquestioned winner of the hour, the Eggplant Tart. It was a slice of the aubergine atop puff pastry, topped with some mozzarella. The puff pastry was fairly light and the balance of all three flavors (along with a little tomato sauce, I believe), was very well-executed. Given more time (say, a week on the cruise ship), I might have added a couple of inches to the old waistline in Eggplant Tart alone.

By the way, did you know the eggplant is classified as a berry and is closely related both to tomatos and to tobacco? Try peeling your next eggplant and using it in place of potato for an interesting changeup. Or, continue to hate it because you "don't like the texture." (Now that we've said that, I should tell you that I initially left out the 'l' in peeling in the second sentence of this paragraph. That particular method is for paid professionals only. Do not try at home!)

The reception featured some tasty mushroom balls - a delight to Brad, no doubt - as well as some very good chicken nuggets. They weren't McDonald's quality or anything, but it is hard to make a chicken nugget really good, and these were really good. The ship seemed to succeed at frying various things, and even if they didn't keep everything piping hot, the food at least tasted very good.

I conclude with a great prayer of thanks and love to the fine folks at Pappasito's, who were so kind as to have added a take-out location at Houston's Hobby airport. 3 cheese enchiladas, rice, and beans made for 2 full bellies on the flight back to D.C. You may scoff, but Pappasito's was the best Tex-Mex we have had in months.

Robot out (to finish the capicola and emmenthaler sandwich sitting here).

Friday, October 31, 2008

Pumpkin Soup

Damn, this is all Misty, but it is truly a fine meal.

2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons cumin
1 tablespoon red pepper flake
4 cups vegetable broth
1 (29 ounce) can pumpkin
1 1/2 cups half-and-half cream
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon white sugar
salt and pepper to taste

1/4 onion, finely chopped

Start your onion to sautee very slowly. Make a roux with the flour, curry powder, and cumin. Once this is cooked over medium heat (a few minutes - 3? 5?), whisk in broth gradually. Stir in pumpkin and 1/2 and 1/2. Season with your sugar, soy, salt, and various peppers. Cook for awhile, maybe 15 minutes. Adjust the thickness with liquid of your choice. It occurs to me that beer would make a fine thinning agent, though someone with more cooking experience may tell us that is a bad idea. Don't know. Try it?! Garnish with onions.

If you want to make this a veggie dish, you are probably adept enough already at making veggie dishes that it is pointless for me to try and instruct you in these dark arts. I yield the floor to -- and am happy to annouce -- BeefRobot's official Vegetarian Correspondent, Libby Rice.

Enjoy your fall cooking.

Robot out!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Capping Off a Weekend

. . .And we find ourselves here at the end of another week, hungry no more, overjoyed by the prospects that met with our collective will and were overcome.

First off, I am kinda sick, so things weren't quite up to par this weekend. We did pizza night on Friday, see the last pizza post for the details. This pizza was half mine, half Misty's, and thus, half sausage, cheddar, tomato sauce, mozzarella, jalapenos, and orange and green peppers. The other half was pesto, mozz, and orange and green peppers. We again added fresh tomatoes after the pie came outta the oven as we have many, many tomatoes left to eat. A salsa will be fashioned from these fine red globes and soon.

Today saw a fine festival of meats: I decided this afternoon that I should eat the steak that was sitting in my fridge after I pulled it out of the freezer. A pan fried ribeye makes the perfect mid-afternoon snack for a slightly cold- or flu-ridden dude. Put steak on plate, add salt, cracked black pepper. Heat pan, add butter, add steak. Cook to desired doneness, today, the medium side of medium rare.

How, you ask, do you follow up a ribeye at 5pm? Pork loin, of course. Tonight, I pulled out a Cory special as it was my task to prepare dinner tonight. Take a pork loin, grab a sharp knife. Take your knife and cut up an apple into small pieces. The size of your pork loin determines how big your apple slices will be. Cut up some garlic into slightly smaller pieces than the apples. Using your sharp knife, make as many pockets in the pork loin as you can fashion. Be sure not to cut through either the side or bottom of your fine loin while doing this. Fill your pockets with apple and garlic. I generally put the garlic in first. Now, the important part: wrap your loin, apples and all, with bacon. Your average pork loin will take 4 slices of bacon. You now have achieved harmony in your life; the use of 2 or more pork products in any one meal constitutes a superlative use of your time on this planet.

Bake the loin at 375 until it is 155 degrees inside. This can be anywhere from 40 - 60 minutes, depending. Before you complain about my cooking directions, go buy a meat thermometer. Beef will be giving you cooking times in degrees Fahrenheit as well, so follow my (Robot's) advice and spend the dough. MOST IMPORTANTLY: let your meat rest for about 10-15 minutes under a tent of foil before you dare cut it.

I dump the liquid left from the meat and add 1/2 cup of white wine. Bring to a slow boil while your meat rests. Add to top of meat. Mmm.

Dessert tonight was a pomegranate. The pom is a delightful fruit - and when you get it ready to eat, it looks like a bowl of red corn. This may serve any number of scary looking Halloween food needs. To get your pomegranate to an edible form, do the following: (1) quarter it; (2) drop these into a bowl of cold agua for 5 minutes; (3) peel the nubbins from the flesh of the fruit. This is not a clean process, and you will certainly accomplish a blood spatter pattern on your shirt. Act accordingly, as pom stains just like red wine.

This reminds me, I didn't tell you about the wine pairing with the pork. Tonight was a 2006 Michael Lynch White Bordeaux, which is sauvignon blanc. This particular wine is really coming into its own - we had it a while back and it was very gravelly, almost chemically so, especially on the aftertaste, without much fruit. Tonight, I felt it was quite fruity, with a wonderful melon flavor dancing around the edges all the way through. Misty still thought it was a little chemical tasting on the finish, and I can see that, but tend to think it is more a preference against the white Bordeaux than anything. If you don't like it, you just don't like it, nothing wrong with that. We bought this at Best Cellars - not sure if they have these in your city yet - I know they're in Houston. This place is great for having a small but high quality collection of well-priced wines. Also, they deliver for free.

Time for some rest - got a long week of Halloween party prep to do.

Robot Out!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sometimes you just have to make do...

Inspired by Cory's pizza post, I decided to make one of my own. So, while at Sprout's the other day, I grabbed some frozen dough. They make it in their bakery, and I can only assume it's some kindof delicious. I came home, and immediately threw it in the freezer.
Yesterday, when I was ready to create this pizza, guess what was still frozen?

Lucky for me I had some ground beef and pork available, already thawed. What's good to do with ground beef and pork?


Not just any old Meatloaf. It's the "whatever Brad's got in the pantry is going into this to add nutritional value" meatloaf.

Chipotle Meatloaf:
2lbs total of ground meat -- beef, pork or turkey. The choice is yours. I like a combo.
1 Red Bell Pepper -- diced
1 Yellow Bell Pepper -- diced
1 Onion (yellow, in this case) -- diced
1 Can Ro*Tel -- I used regular strength – partially drained
An Egg
2/3 Cup of Panko -- or any old breadcrumb (+-)
1 Tbsp Chili Powder* (+-)
1 tsp Garlic Powder (+-) or fresh, if you've got it.
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper (+-)

Chipotle Meatloaf Sauce: -- you might want to double this.
1 Can Tomato Sauce – the small one. 8oz I think?
2-3 Chipotle peppers (from the can, with the adobo) -- chopped
1 tsp Chili Powder*
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
3/4 tsp Garlic Powder
Pinch of salt

Let's get started.
Get those meats out of the fridge, so they can come to room temperature. Set your oven @ 350.

Throw your diced peppers and onion into a skillet and sauté them for a few minutes, until they’ve softened and the rawness is cooked out of them. Don’t overdo it. Let those cool while you add the remainder of your ingredients to that pile of meat in a bowl. Put all the sauce ingredients together and mix half of the sauce in with your meat mixture – know that chipotle’s are HOT, so, if you don’t like spicy use less. Reserve the other half for spooning on top of the loaf while it bakes. Now that your veggies are cool, throw them in with the rest of the mix. Place your hands into the meat mixture and fold it together until all the ingredients are incorporated. Don’t overdo this either. The more you mix, the more like sausage and less like meatloaf this thing is going to be. Mine was pretty wet when it all came together, so, I added more breadcrumbs. Now that your loaf is nicely mixed, put it in your loaf pan, and throw it in the oven. After about 15 minutes, spoon the rest of the sauce on top of the loaf, and bake until the internal temp is 160. Mine took about an hour.

Note if you had some sautéed zucchini, squash, tomato, celery or otherwise, these would also be delicious in this meatloaf. That’s the cool thing about meatloaf. You can put pretty much anything into it. Also, you’d be wise to make a double recipe of the sauce, so you can have some on the side for dipping. Or, put less in the loaf, it’s up to you. If you made double, and had some left over at the end, you could make a Bloody Mary with it.

*Taste your chili powder. If it’s really hot, use less. If it’s really salty, use less salt. Maybe it’s old and has lost its punch – do not add more in this case. Go buy some new. Or, better yet, make your own. Look for that post this weekend.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Friday night

So yea, Friday night was pizza night chez nous. We grabbed some premade dough (it comes in a plastic baggie), homemade mozzarella (ditto), and pepper salami. The guy at the Italian store knows Misty.

We dropped down some red and green bell peppers and the requisite 4 cloves of minced garlic and threw the pie in the oven. After it was done, we sliced up the tomatoes (grown in our front yard), basil (still thriving after the 2 batches of pesto we've made), and 2 more cloves of garlic because that's how we roll.

Man, this was our Friday night. We are effing old.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fine Thighs

I don't own a microwave. It's not because I don't like microwaves, or think that they irradiate your food, or feel that some day the microwave is going to combine with the coffee maker and the toaster and create some sort of kitchen appliance robot with stick blender hands that will slice me into pieces and go on to terrorize the neighborhood. The microwave is the brains. Take away the brains, and you just have a regular robot... Wait. Sorry. I don't really know where that came from. I don't have a microwave because I don't have the counter space. I'm working on getting an over the stove one mounted to the wall. This requires a cabinet, so, I'm working on getting one of those too. My kitchen is kind of a work in progress.

Now, on to the meat of this post. When you don't have a microwave, you have to plan two days in advance when you want to have some frozen chicken thawed out to cook. This gives you two days to think about what you're going to do with those delicious thighs. Yep, thighs. A word that never looks like it's spelled correctly. And, by far, the most delicious part of the chicken. I used to be exclusive to the breast. The boneless, skinless thigh fillet turned me on to good, dark meat* chicken. Now, it's almost all I use. Though today we're talking bone in, skin on, cheapest thing you can get at the grocery store, thighs.

Greek Chicken
Bone in, skin on, thighs -- I used four last night.
Your oven -- set at 400
A lemon
A quantity of dried oregano
Garlic -- powder, or fresh
Olive oil
Leftover kalamata olives that you forgot about in the back or your fridge. Or not. It's whatever.

Trim those thighs of whatever excess skin and fat you want to remove from them and set them in your finest roasting pan. If you want to put them on a rack in said roasting pan, they'll just cook a little faster, but, won't swim in their own juices. Your choice. I like a rack, but, it works without.

Zest that lemon into a bowl, and then juice that lemon into the same bowl. My lemon wasn't all that juicy, so I added a little rice wine vinegar. Throw in some dried oregano -- probably a tablespoon or so. Maybe a 1/2 a teaspoon of garlic powder or a couple of cloves minced fine. Add enough olive oil to make this a runny paste, and then smear it all over those fine thighs. On the skin, under the skin, all over. Hit them with some salt and pepper (don't be shy about this) and throw them in your oven.

Last night my thighs took 50 minutes. Yours might take less time. Or possibly more. If you're using boneless, I'd certainly drop the heat, and time. Mine came out golden, with deliciously crispy skin.

Set those thighs on a plate, and drain all those juices into a cup. Strain off the fat, then pour those juices back into the pan, put that pan on a burner, and scrape up all those tasty bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Let that sauce reduce, and if you have them, throw in some kalamata olives, and a bit of butter. If you don't, don't worry about it. It will still be delicious. Pour the sauce over the chicken, and eat.

Last night my chicken was accompanied by some wild rice from a box, and some sautéed zucchini and yellow squash. It made for a fine meal.


*Dark meat chicken isn't nearly as dark as it used to be. Unless you're buying free range. I don't, so my dark meat isn't really all that dark.

Eastern Standard Time Means I Beat Brad to Work on Hangover Fridays

Leading off this fine Friday morning, I would like to share a simple drink that became out of a couple of strange coincidences. First, one of Misty’s friends brought over some pineapple in a can, you know, the kind your mom used to put on a piece of iceberg, add a dollop of mayonnaise, sprinkle with cheddar, and call a salad? Maybe you didn’t grow up in my house. Anyway, can of pineapple leaves behind 1/3 can of pineapple juice, which Cory knows will be good later when inspiration strikes.

Second strange coincidence: Misty and I are going out to meet her friends, so I am certain that a glass of Pyrat Rum (props to Blake/Jandro for finding this one) is necessary before we put feet to pavement. About halfway through this glass, either I am tired of drinking it or she is ready to go, who really knows which one, meaning that, the next morning (a Saturday), I wake up to a rum slushy in my freezer.

Inspiration, as you now infer, strikes, and pineapple juice meets rum slushy for a delightful breakfast cocktail. The Pyrat Rum is really the lynchpin to this drink. If you think you left behind the darker rum varietals in college, think again. This is your grown-ups’ rum, y’all. Maybe you add a cherry if you’re feeling special.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Second Post

So, yea here we are. We are better than you. Our daddy's gonna have yo' job.

Watching the #24 TCU Horned Frogs whip up on #8 BYU (for the moment at least) makes me think of a pic I saw today of frog leg pizza, about which some idiotic people in an idiotic land were angry because frog legs are taken from frogs while they are alive. In some terrorist haven like Indonesia. Where they eat kids, cats, and probably also muddle ground bible pages into their mixed drinks.

It is true, we will be strikingly imprecise in most measurements, but we will commit to letting you in on most all of the food we eat. It will, as noted, be mostly us telling each other what it was that we decided was tasty enough to grub on the night before. If that isn't sexy enough for you, click back over to redtube. Otherwise, read our effing blog once in awhile and, maybe you like. More sauce? I get you more sauce.

More to the point, what did I eat tonight? Leftover Chinese delivery from perhaps the icon among icons of that particular genre, City Lights. Say it with me. Now with an accent, elongate that long I. Starter was your hot & sour soup and some Crab Rangoon. These disappear fast around here, meaning last night. For tonight's starter, I eighthed 2 smallish tomatoes from our garden and we dipped them in Trader Joe's Tzatziki sauce. For some dumb reason, we have no Ranch in our fridge.

For an entree, I had shredded pork in garlic sauce. This is one of the best things you have ever eaten, thank you Darren/Chong. Misty had sauteed lite chicken in General Tsao sauce with broccoli. They never fail to make the thinly sliced chicken wafers the perfect combination of juicy and done. Tonight, a nice BudLight accompanied my dinner.

Brad and I have both independently come to the conclusion that some chili is in order, so come prepared for that in the near future.

BeefRobot out!

First Post

So, were here to talk about food. Mostly what we've cooked at home, but, occasionally what we eat at restaurants, friends houses, or what our wives cook. Neither of us are actually married, yet, but, we're both pretty close. Ok, some of us are closer than others.

You may occasionally find us rambling about something completely different. I may mention, from time to time, something about welding, or building a natural gas assisted fire pit from parts I stole from a hot water heater my neighbor discarded on trash day. I recruited my neighbor from across the street to help me load it up and move it to my garage, so, I'm slightly less WT than if I had just gone and stripped it for parts right there on the curb, right?

If we publish a recipe, and suggest that you add 'some' of an ingredient, or a handful of another, or a pinch of something -- don't send us a note and ask us how much this incredibly non-specific measurement is. I promise, if we had any idea how much it was, we'd have put a specific measurement down. Sometimes, you just have to try things on your own.

Anyway, don't expect much from us, and you likely won't be disappointed. We make no promises as to how often we'll be updating this, or if the content will even be worth a damn. If you don't like it, eat me.