Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Birrieria Aguinaga

So, a while back I lost a work related bet with one of my sales guys. The wager was a taqueria lunch of the loser's choosing. So, thanks to a recent DMN article about the popularity of the taquerias around town, I chose Birrieria Aguinaga. This joint was recognized for its Goat (Birria) tacos, so we figured we'd give it a shot.

We arrived at the location on NW Hwy shortly after 11:30, and the place/parking lot/neighborhood was empty. This isn't normal for this side of town, but I can only assume we were early. When on the way home from work, and around dinner time the parking lot is always packed.

My meal started with delicious chips and salsa -- They were not superb, but pretty tasty. I ordered two Birria tacos, one Carnitas and one Al Pastor. All on flour tortillas (with the cilantro and onion on the side). I know I'm non traditional, but I prefer the flour tortilla, and want to make sure I'm not over cilantro'd. The plate of taco's came with some DELICIOUS pickled onions. The flour tortillas were clearly homemade and fresh.

The Birria taco is delicious -- it's vaguely smoky, greasy and tender, much like good barbacoa. This was my first experience with birria, but I'll be back for more, it was perfect just with a squeeze of lime and a few of the pickled onions.

My carnitas was also a fine specimen. I treated this more traditionally and loaded the tortilla down with cilantro, lime and onions, and added the house green salsa. The carnitas was tender, with just the right amount of crispy on the edge.

The Al Pastor left something to be desired. It was clearly Pork, not the traditional lamb, but I'm ok with that. It didn't have the usual slight sweetness one associates with al pastor. I loaded it up with lime juice and pickled onions and enjoyed it none the less.

I can assure you I'll be back for a fine goat taco, but have many more locations to scout out for my favorite carnitas in the NW Dallas area. We're now making bi-weekly trips to different taquerias, so I'll continue to update.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Smoke Dallas

Saturday was a fine day of Christmas shopping for Joy and I. Fighting the sea of Dallas holiday traffic and huddled masses of shoppers really embiggens the holiday spirit in me. Or anger, one of the two. Just so you know driving on NW Hwy at 3pm on a Saturday 2 weeks before Christmas sucks.

I had decided that I wanted BBQ for dinner Saturday night early in the day. I figured we'd go give Smoke a shot <www.smokerestaurant.com> as I had heard good things. We'd have gone for lunch, but it's pretty well out of the way from anything we were going to be doing that afternoon. So, we had Great Outdoors (#12 hot please). Note that the Great Outdoors is next to Backcountry BBQ on Park @ Greenville. We almost had a double bbq day. Or maybe we should have just had Backcountry for lunch, and skipped Smoke for dinner.

We arrived at Smoke about 8pm, were seated at a table too close to the next couple, and enjoyed a couple of complementary cornbread sticks with jalapeno jam. Good, but not great. We ordered strictly bbq and bbq related sides. Smoke has quite the extensive menu, most of which looked delicious, but I was here for BBQ. Brisket sandwich, Pulled Pork sandwich, 1/2 rack of ribs. For sides we enjoyed fries and the hominy casserole.

First, let’s talk about sauces. They bring a four pack to the table. House sauce is a tomato/molasses sauce which isn't overly sweet, but isn't overly flavorful either. There is a vinegar/red pepper SC sauce, a mustardy sweet NC sauce and a "Tex Mex" chipotle/tomatillo sauce. None of them are very good, but the SC sauce has a nice punch of heat.

Brisket Sandwich:
Unless specified, I want sliced beef. This came out chopped, and topped with two 3/8" thick slices of sour pickle. I didn't ask for chopped, nor did the menu indicate that I was ordering a chopped beef sandwich. Either way, the bun was fantastic and the meat just so/so. A little dry and no real smoke flavor to speak of.

Pulled Pork:
This sandwich, on the same fantastic bun as above, was good, but not really bbq. The tender shreds of pork were sauced lightly with the vinegar/red pepper sauce and topped with cabbage slaw. Traditional style, which I can respect. Unfortunately there were not chunks of bark in the pulled pork, and NO smoke flavor. If I didn't know any better, I'd assume it came out of a slow-cooker/Crockpot.

1/2 Rack of St. Louis cut spare ribs. Here's where all of the smoke flavor in the restaurant went. Wow. There is no lack of smoke flavor in these. There is also no lack of rub, or sticky sweet glaze. I really, really wanted to like these ribs but there are just too many flaws to approve. The first bite was pretty outstanding, but after you polish off a rib or two it's just too much. Too much rub -- caked on uncooked powder in your mouth. Too much or the sweet glaze that's masking the flavor of the pork. Too much smoke. I'm guessing there's smoked paprika/smoked salt in the rub which is causing part of the problem. The ribs did come with pickled carrots which were pretty awesome.

The fries have a smoky sweet dusting of salt -- like a Wing Stop fry with attitude. At first, you love this. After a while the smoke becomes slightly overpowering and you wish they were just good fries.
The hominy casserole, on the other hand, is awesome. Bacon, jalapenos, grits, hominy and cheddar. I'm going to be making this for Christmas dinner, assuming I can find a recipe.

There's a chance I'll give this restaurant another shot -- cause I really want to like it. I've heard nothing but good things about their house made sausages, so I'll likely be back to try those. We'll see.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


So, venturing through the local Salvadorean market and hunting for dinner stuffs, I found a tray of radishes. For about $1.60, we got 20 or so radishes. A couple of them went on a salad last night and today, we have a lot of radish left.

Misty did some work on google, and up popped green beans and radishes. We sliced them thin, tossed them in with butter, the beans, added a little green onion, garlic, soy sauce, and pepper. We sauteed this up and went to work. The radishes took on the soy and garlic flavors so perfectly and their semi-transparency made them the perfect addition. I could see eating just the sauteed radishes - they are also somewhat sweet when cooked down, and they really are delicious.

We will be doing this one again - for your winter, pick up a radish!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Best Water Ever

The Ioussen Pot treats your water like royalty. Charcoal pieces and rocks from Mt. Iou, an active volcano on the eastern part of Japan's Hokkaido, filter the water in a magical way. It is said the minerals imparted by the rocks have a natural power that will properly orient your healthy life.

I don't know about all that, but I do know the water that pours out of this magical little pot is delicious, slightly rocky tasting, and, at the least, makes me feel like I am doing something right.

This device is not inexpensive, but we got it as a wedding gift, so bonus to us! Try some next time you're over.

[see? instructions in Japanese mean this is the real deal]

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gin & Tonics, Tom Collins and a Rickey

The last time Cory was in town, we decided to find the best tonic water for your standard Gin and Tonic. We tested five tonic waters:

Canada Dry in the Plastic 1 liter bottle ($1.29 per bottle)
Tom Thumb brand in a 12 ounce can ($1.25 per six pack)
Target Brand (Market Pantry) in the plastic 1 liter bottle ($0.99 per bottle)
Q tonic Artisanal Tonic Water in an eight ounce glass bottle ($7.99 per four pack)
365 Organics (Whole Foods) in a 12 ounce can ($2.50 per six pack)

Our Gin of choice was Boodle's London Dry, and we eyeballed the ratios of gin to tonic to lime. Adjustments were made if we felt they were too strong or weak.

After a round of tasting, here's what we came up with.
The overall winner was the Whole Foods brand -- good carbonation/quinine flavor and minimal sweetness. The whole foods brand tonic water is made with real sugar, instead of corn syrup, which we both believe made for a cleaner tonic taste.
Second place in my book was the Q-tonic brand. This stuff is in your face tonic, with a strong quinine flavor. Sweetened with agave nectar, it has the same minimal sweetness, just enough to take the edge of the quinine. Q-tonic is fantastic, but really too expensive to be used for daily or weekly tonic making.
Third was the Canada Dry, your standard tonic. It's good.
Fourth and fifth are really not worth mentioning. The Tom Thumb tonic is really sweet (not that you would notice if it was the only one you drank), and the Target brand was lacking in the carbonation department.

Our Tonic testing got me thinking about other Gin cocktails. Namely the Tom Collins and the Gin Rickey.

Cory and I got some Tom Collins mix when we were in college, and tried it out. That was a mistake, and it turned me off to the Collins for many years. I recently re-discovered the Collins, and will provide you with a recipe for your enjoyment.
Tom Collins:
1 Ounce fresh Lemon juice
1 Ounce simple syrup
3 Ounces Gin
Club Soda to fill the glass

Mix your lemon juice, syrup and gin in a highball glass, add club soda to fill (4 ounces?) and a few ice cubes. Enjoy.

Similar to the Collins, the Gin Rickey replaces the lemon juice with lime. Since limes generally have more tartness, I'd use about 1/2 the amount of lime juice. True, the original Rickey does not use sugar/syrup, but I like the added sweetness.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Ginger-Habanero Syrup

I know, I know, why the hell am I posting again about a syrup. Well, to execute this one properly requires a little technique. Not a lot (or alot, as your 7th grade sweetheart might have written), mind you, but some.

The syrup starts the same as others: 1 part water, 1 part sugar. Add a few slices of ginger. Add 2 whole, rinsed habaneros for hot, 3 if you are crazy and you are making your first batch and don't know how hot you want it so you just add three because "why not?"

Set your heat to simmer - that's right, I said "simmer." And, if you didn't catch it, do not cut the peppers! Let this little pot cook for about 30-45 minutes at least, though 1 hour is probably optimal.

Your required technique usage: once the chosen allotment of time is up and your heat is off, you must squeeze the habaneros. A wooden spoon works well as you can squish your pepper underwater, as it were. We learned this the hard way when a habanero exploded on the wall and splashback portion of the cooktop. But is it even a splashback if it isn't behind a sink? That must be a question for another day. In any event, you squoze out your habaneros into the syrup, let cool, and go.

While we are only in the infancy of dealing with this syrup, one thing is clear: it is hot as hell. Recipe one for the syrup is an easy one: vodka, soda, a teaspoon of syrup. It will burn favorably in your body and you will indeed be happier for it.

Stay posted for additional uses of the ginger-habanero syrup!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Stone's Ginger Wine

Not too terribly long ago we posted about Domaine de Canton, a delicious ginger-infused brandy. Do not get me wrong, Canton is awesome. Tonight, however, on a rain-soaked walk to the local liquor store in search of said Canton, Misty and I found ourselves in Sportsman's Liquor, where Canton was nowhere in sight. The proprietor, though, suggested we try a ginger wine he had. Stone's it was, and Stone's it will be!

At only $12.99, this boldly flavored drink is less than half the price of trendy Canton, and while it is only 13.25% alcohol to Canton's 28% or so, it is an excellent substitute for the trendy Canton.

And for your continued attention to this post, you now get a drink recipe we discovered at a local joint, PS7s. They call it the Cure and charge you $5 (cheap, no doubt). Put ice cubes in a glass. Add about 2-3 shots' worth of either Stone's or Canton. Now pay attention: add half a Miller Light. Yes, a Miller Light. Finish it off with a touch ginger syrup and stir it up (to make the ginger syrup, add 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, and some roughly cut up fresh ginger - simmer until it boils to get the maximum ginger flavor - keep it in the fridge after that - duh).


Monday, August 24, 2009

Hatch Chile Season

Oh yes, It's that time of year again. Hatch Chile season is upon us. If you're lucky enough to live in a part of the country where you can procure these delights, you'd be wise to stock up. If the Hatch Chile is not available in your neighborhood, be aware that the Hatch Chile is generally any variety of the New Mexico Chile, which happens to be grown in Hatch, NM.

This is the first year where I've noticed all of the local markets carrying both a mild (New Mexico #20) and a hot (Big Jim or Sandia) pepper. In the past (at least at the stores I shop in) you've just had the luck of the draw; this is not the case this year. Both Sprouts and Central Market were advertising fresh chiles in mild and hot. I chose to make my purchases at Central Market, mostly because they roast on site and they make just about everything you could imagine with the Hatch pepper on the "roasting" weekends. For example, in my adventure on Sunday, I procured the following:
2lbs each of hot and mild roasted peppers -- roasted on site, in front of me
1lb each of hot and mild fresh peppers
1lb of Hatch Chile Pork sausage
1 jar Hatch Chile salsa verde
1 package fresh Hatch Chile Hamburger Buns

There were many other options include fresh guacamole, pepper jams and fresh pepper jack cheese made with the delicious Hatch Chile, but I thought I had done enough.

Anyway, the fresh chiles are good for many of your standard chile applications, and the roasted go great in everything; my meal plans include Hatch Manwich and Hatch Chicken Enchiladas. I might make rellenos with the fresh peppers; we'll just have to see.

Tonight, I made Hatch Chile Rice. And it was awesome.
1 Cup Rice
2 Cups Chicken Broth
3 Tbsp minced roasted Hatch Chiles (I used the Hot ones)
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Granulated Garlic
Salt to taste.

Rinse your rice, throw it in your rice cooker, add the broth, chiles and seasoning and fire it up. Don't have a rice cooker? You're on your own. I've forgotten how to cook rice w/out one.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Quick word about BYOB

You may have noticed that I mentioned the fact that Citrus Bistro is BYOB several times in the review. Post dinner at CB, I decided to do a little research on other BYOB restaurants in the Dallas area. I'd like to thank Google for the below link.


Lists all of the restaurants with a BYO option, and their corkage fee, if any. Only in select cities, but the "select" cities happens to cover the majority of the BeefRobot readership.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Black Pepper Simple Syrup

So, sure, we have all tried simple syrup at one point or another. Maybe we've even made it. But lately, simple syrup is, well, a little too simple for me. I saw a recipe a while back for black pepper simple syrup and it sounded delicious! Tonight, it is achieved.

Start with your basic simple syrup recipe, though I thought it a good idea to add a touch more water than normal. I use a 1:1 ratio of sugar to water, though it is not unheard of to make the sugar portion 1.5 or even 2 to 1 part of water. Then I added about 25 black peppercorns to the pot. I set it to simmer for about 25 minutes, though I will experiment with a longer simmer for greater concentration of the pepper.

The first drink I made with the syrup was an easy one: 4 tsp black pepper syrup, vodka, soda. This drink is very clean, and with a nice undercurrent of pepper. The combo of sweet and pepper really is a mellow way to add a little kick to a drink.

Drink #2: ice to half a rocks glass; just cover with tequila (I did gold tonight); add 6 tablespoons BP syrup. Enjoy this - the syrup adds a layer of complexity to your tequila and gives it the illusion of having been aged. Tasty!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Citrus Bistro -- a review

While shopping in the Preston and Royal area a few weeks ago, I had noticed Citrus Bistro. I did my internet research, and decided it would work well for a nice Friday dinner.

In my research, I had noticed that Citrus Bistro is BYOB, so I grabbed a bottle from the wine fridge and we headed out, arriving at around 7pm. We walked in the back door, near the patio and were asked if we had a reservation. We said no, the host said "no problem" and lead us to a table in the front of the restaurant. Note, this place can get pretty loud, and it appears as though there are a lot of regulars, so you might be wise to make a reservation.

We were seated, and the host went to retrieve some wine glasses for our bottle. He returned shortly, and poured our glasses and explained the numerous (4 or more) nightly specials, and explained that if there was something we wanted that wasn't on the menu, they'd make it assuming they had the ingredients. One of the specials had some soft shelled crab involved, and I seriously considered ordering a plate of crabs, but decided that I'd stick with the current specials/menu options.

Misstep #1. Joy's wine glass had lipstick on it, that wasn't her own. The glass was quickly replaced, but, we didn't notice till after the wine was poured. Ok, now we're short one glass of wine, and they still charged the corkage fee? I should have said something, but for some reason was in a good mood or something, and didn't.

After some deliberation, and assurance that the "Dover Sole" special was indeed Dover Sole, and not Black Flounder, Lemon Flounder or any other Flounder I chose the pan seared Dover Sole, and a Caprese salad.

Misstep #2. My Caprese salad was made with some run of the mill Roma tomatoes -- which I know are traditional, but... For an $8 salad of tomatoes, cheese and basil dressing, I want something heirloom.

My Sole, on the other hand, was probably one of the most correctly prepared pieces of fish I've ever had. And quite delicious. The lemon butter sauce was just right, and as an added bonus, the fish came out whole but was de-boned table side by an extraordinarily adept member of the wait staff.

Joy had the Copper River Salmon special, which, as we were in the height of Copper River season, was spectacular. Cooked perfectly medium, with a delicious crust and silky smooth interior.

In short, since this review is really long, Citrus Bistro is solid, though if you're ordering off the specials menu it can be a little pricey. BYOB is really nice though, and is not just limited to wine, judging by some of the clientele’s flasks, and road scotches they brought in with them. It can get a little loud though, as most of the customers seemed to have imbibed some level of alcohol and the space is small. I can say, with all certainty that we'll be back, cause I love a restaurant that doesn't frown upon you walking in with a pre-poured road cocktail.

Citrus Bistro


Monday, June 29, 2009


As you might have noticed, if you live your life in the DFW Metro area, it's damned hot here lately. Mowing the lawn, grilling and other related outdoor chores/activities have become increasingly difficult, due to the unbearable temperatures. When it's this hot outside, sometimes you need a cocktail instead of a beer for your post outdoor activities, so, I started experimenting.

I tend to have a lot of booze around the house, but for the most part drink beer, with the occasional bourbon and coke, gin and tonic or scotch thrown in the mix for varieties sake. I don't do a lot of vodka or rum based cocktails, but do have these liquors on hand most of the time.

#1 -- The Cape Cod type Summer Beverage.
Your standard Cape Cod is vodka, cranberry and a squeeze of lime. I like the Cape Cod, but it doesn't really excite me the way it used to. So, I decided to play around with it a bit. I had some pomegranate/cranberry juice in the fridge, so I substituted that for the straight cran -- It's delicious. Added a splash of lime, and hooray, it's a non-boring Cape Cod. At the same time, I thought it could be lighter/less sweet. So, add a splash of club soda, and you have quite the refreshing cocktail.

#2 -- The Fruit based Rummy Drink
You've heard us extol the virtues of Pyrat Rum here at BeefRobot. It's sweeter and more complex than most of your rums, and quite delicious. I don't do much with the Pyrat, other than drink it straight or on the rocks. I was thinking to myself the other day that I need to develop other beverages with the Pyrat as the base liquor.
Enter the slightly over-ripe Nectarine. I took said nectarine, cut it into wedges and dropped half into a shaker. Muddled this with the end of a wooden spoon, and looked to see that I had about an ounce or more of pulp and juice. I added a splash of cranberry to this, and an ounce and a half of Pyrat. I poured this over crushed ice and added club soda (3 ounces or so) to fill the glass. Delicious. I highly recommend this cocktail, as the tanginess of the nectarine is softened by the sweet rum. I do not think this would work with your garden variety light rum, you're going to have to spring for the good stuff.

Two cocktails for your summertime enjoyment. I hope they help to keep you cool.

*Please Note -- If you're going to make this in mass, you should probably use a blender to grind up your nectarines. However, if you're going to use a blender, you'd be wise to peel them, as the skin can be quite bitter, and no one wants that. If you're just doing single servings, the peel stays fairly intact while you muddle, so there's less bitterness.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dinner 3

Simple. Leftover steak, cold. Asparagus, roasted with olive oil, garlic salt, pepper. Yellow squash, cooked in a pan under a lid with olive oil, butter, garlic salt, pepper. All eaten with hands, no utensils. Beer on the side.

Man meal!

Dinner #2

Dinner 2 turned out to be a rush job, as I realized late in the game that I had to hustle or else I wasn't going to be on time to meet up to see Star Trek. (for the second time. yes I've seen it twice)

I had already pulled out the 1/2 pound of ground turkey we had in the freezer, though it was still pretty frigid. I sauteed onion and mushroom for awhile, then added the turkey and a diced tomato. When I added the turkey, I squeezed a lime in. When I don't have time to marinate (or haven't planned adequately) I like adding lime to raw meats while they are in the pan. The lime flavor comes through so much better than if you wait til the end. At that point it is meat plus lime, not delicious, limey meat. Next, I added chili powder, garlic salt, pepper, a little cayenne. I let this all cook up and when it was cooked, but still liquidy in the pan, I had a thought: we have masa harina (the flour used to make tamales). So, I added a tablespoon of this and stirred.

The masa flour was a solid addition to the mix. I will do this again, no doubt. It gave an authenticity of both sight and taste that I am happy to be seeing coming from my kitchen. The liquid turned to delicious gravy and I had myself the perfect filling for a burrito.

Achieving the burrito involved 11 seconds in the microwave. Then I added grated cheese and put it back for 11 more seconds. I added chopped cilantro and put the filling in. Start to finish, this thing took me about 12 minutes.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Dinner #1

In the week Misty is in the great state of Maine, I am chronicling my dinner solutions. Part one is easy. I went to the store tonight after racquetball to find myself enmeshed in a desire to do something new. That something new came quickly as I hit the greens area. I have been big on greens lately, focusing most of my energies on spinach, baby to be exact. This stuff is great. Put in a pan with butter, garlic, salt, and pepper, and you win in about 2 minutes. Every time. Winner.

Tonight's greens aisle trip found me atop some collards. I have only ever eaten others' collard greens and tonight, I made my own. These are not hard to make. I haven't researched their nutritional value as compared to other greens, but they sure were good. They are also easy to make. Rinse the hell out of them. Roughly chop your green, removing the thicker parts of the stalk. Mince [] cloves of garlic and start them to sautee in about 2 tsp oil/butter. Your greens will still be a little wet, which is fine. Drop them in. Salt and pepper them. The collard does not seem to lose its color like spinach, staying a reasonably bright green. I tasted continually as soon as I thought they might be done and you are well-advised to do the same.

Oh, and I had a t-bone and some mushrooms cooked down in Burgundy for my other dishes. That all paired with the '06 Beringer Founders Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. Word.

Night one is done.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Shrimp & Grits

Low Country cuisine is something of an anomaly. Not quite Southern or Soul Food, and not quite Cajun or Creole -- it's somewhere in between. I've been thinking about Shrimp & Grits for a week or so now and finally got an opportunity to cook some last night.

If you're asking yourself "Shrimp & Grits, what the hell?" Don't feel bad. Many people asked me the same questions as I was eating the leftovers for lunch at the office. It used to be a breakfast thing, in the shrimping towns of the Carolinas. As with all things comfort food, we've turned it into dinner. And a delicious dinner it is.

Shrimp -n- Grits
1lb raw shrimp -- peeled (I used 26-30s, cause they look nice on the plate)
6oz breakfast sausage, or bacon, or chorizo [for that Mexican flair]
1 Can Rotel
1 Can Chicken Broth
1 Cup Grits (yellow, white, quick -- doesn't matter)
1 Cup shredded cheese
1 Onion, diced and divided
1/2 Cup water +-
1 .5 tsp Thyme, divided
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/4 tsp Cayenne
2 Lemons
Chicken/Shrimp stock – maybe a cup or so
S&P to taste

Take 3/4 of your diced onion and add it to a two quart sauce pan over medium-high. Sauté the onion till it’s translucent and beginning to caramelize. While this is going down, start browning your breakfast sausage/bacon/whathaveyou in a large skillet. As the onion becomes golden, add the turmeric, 1 tsp of the thyme, the can of Rotel -- with juice, the can of chicken broth and the water. Bring this to a boil.

By this point, your sausage/bacon should be browned. Remove it from the pan, and sauté the rest of the onion in whatever leftover grease you have. When your stock/Rotel/onion mixture comes to a boil, add your grits and cook as the directions on the package dictate.

I used quick grits, so there wasn't really a whole lot of waiting for me. Basically you want your shrimp gravy to be done at the same time as your grits. If the grits are done first, that's ok -- they'll stay warm. As the grits finish, stir in the 1 cup of shredded cheese.

So, now that you've got some onion browned in bacon grease in the skillet, add some flour (roughly the same amount as fat you estimate to be left in the pan) and make a roux. Cook the roux for a couple of minutes to get the raw taste out of the flour. Then, add a few cubes of the frozen shrimp/chicken stock I'm sure you have at your disposal, Loyal BeefRobot Reader. Your goal is to make enough gravy to poach all the shrimp. As this thickens, add the cayenne and the sausage back in and your raw shrimp. I poached the shrimp in the gravy for 3 minutes or so -- just till they've turned pink and are opaque in the center. Add the last 1/2 tsp of thyme and turn off the heat.

Spoon your grits into the bowl, top with a few shrimp and some of the gravy, and enjoy. A toasty piece of crusty French bread might be nice, for a starch on starch component, but, I served mine with roasted broccoli.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Domaine de Canton

Ever taste something and wonder how you never craved it before?

This is what happens when you taste the gingery sweet Domaine de Canton. Holy cow. The first time we had it, it was straight, as an digestif. Hells yes!

Then, we had to go buy a bottle. The guy in the store said they had a tasting of it a few days prior, and the woman poured it with sparkling lemon water. We did not have this at home, though we did have club soda and lemons. You can imagine what followed. If you try this, note that you must just 2 shots of the liqueur to make your drink. It needs a lot of the Canton to really shine. Otherwise, the soda overtakes it and you have a watery version of a delicious cocktail.

A brilliant idea occurred to me as I sipped my cocktail: what if I add my other favorite liquor, bourbon? Despite the look on Misty's face (and, no doubt, on some of yours right now), I moved forward with the work of discovery. "Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it. - Buddha" "Every man takes the limits of his field of vision for the limits of the world. - Arthur Schopenhauer "

Ok, whatever, I went about 2:1, Canton to Bourbon, and it was unbelievable. This drink, properly shaken and poured into a martini glass (or a plastic cup, whatever you prefer), will make your life better. Get to work...


Yo one, yo all:

This past Saturday night followed a gloriously sunny and temperate day, which meant meant had to find its way onto my grill. Local grocery store X (aka Harris Teeter) provided the meats: 1 rack of beef back ribs (not baby backs, regular backs), some italian sausages, and some chicken thighs.

I took my beef ribs, which I had to cut in half because there was no container I have that would contain them for the dry rub process I was about to have them undergo. That process was short and sweet, as follows: (1) add lime juice; (2) add tons of BBQ 3000 spice; (3) let sit in Ziploc bag for 1 day. (Did you hear that, yea, that's right, I said Ziploc. Not zip-top, zipper bag, or any other lame, generic, and non-brand specific names that they have to use on Emeril and Rachel Ray. )

The chicken met with some Northwoods Fire rub, and the sausages stayed naked.

After seeing ribs several times at the store, I decided it was my prerogative, even my responsibility, as a good Texan to know how to make ribs right. So, I started these bad boys off in some foil packets so as to keep in their juices while they cooked in my low temperature oven. I let them sit for about 2 hours in the 220 degree oven, and pulled them out about half an hour before I was ready to let them hit the grill.

Keeping them in their foil packets, I added a little worcestershire sauce to one half of my rack. I honestly am not sure if it added much, but that one was looking a tad dry and I felt the need to add moisture other than either water or bottled barbecue sauce.

I let the ribs grill over indirect heat (push 1/2 your briquets to one side and the other 1/2 to the other) for a good 30 minutes as we had a beer to start things off. The rules say, if you are grilling you must have a beer. I know because I have read them. On this particular night, it was a Newcastle, which goes surprisingly nice with 60 degrees, no mosquitos, and a quiet night.

The chicken thighs, as I am sure I have mentioned before, got their fill of sitting right on top of the fire, as did the sausage. I pulled the sausage off after about 15 minutes, as it was starting to get a tad too dried out. For the chicken, I know that the thigh will take a lot of heat before it gets dried out, so I let it go for about 18-20 minutes. This made for delicious chicken. Also, I keep the lid on my grill for most of the time I am cooking. I will pull it off to check things and turn my meats every 10 minutes or so, especially with the chicken/sausage combo working up. This also allows oxygen into the fire, which brings back the flame to where it should be.

All said, this grilling experience was a winner.

Oh, yes, there were 2 salads, of Misty creation: 1--potato salad (quartered small red potatoes, coated in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and oven-roasted til brown and crispy in a 350 degree oven; let cool; add the dressing [olive oil, grey poupon, rice wine vinegar, chopped green onion, paprika]); and 2--greek salad (diced cucumber, onion, red pepper, tomato, feta, olive oil -- done!)

This dinner rocked your world!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Worst Dinner

Because we are a food blog, and an equal opportunity one at that (see our vegetarian contributor), I will now tell you about the utter piece of shit that my dinner tonight turned out to be.

It all started with a craving: egg salad. Some of you may already be grossed out, but this is a dish I enjoy about twice a year. So, I had a sour cream based mixture in my fridge (lots of chili powder, lime, garlic salt - this was for fajitas the other night). Boiled up my eggs and cooled them down. Then, chopped up some green onion and red bell pepper. I mixed these things together and hacked off a couple of slices of bread from my garlic loaf.

This was, quite simply, the worst egg salad I have ever had. Thin (blame the sour cream and lime), not so flavorful (not enough salt?), and none of that goodness that the mixture of mayo and egg yolks gives you. Also, I probably failed by adding no mustard. Anyways, this was just a horrible dinner, and if it hadn't've been from the incredible guacamole I had beforehand, tonight would have been a total culinary failure.

I am not really sure what the lesson learned here is; perhaps it is, never make egg salad without mayo. Anyway, I really just want to eat something good to wipe this taste out of my mouth, but the worst part is that I am full and can't think of eating anything else. This sucks.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Grilled Fish x2

So, I've been cooking lots of fish lately. It's tasty, and Omega 3s are good for you. So, here are a couple of different fish recipes for ya.

Spicy Miso Glazed Salmon
Miso Paste
Sweet Soy (I use Kecap Manis, but any sweet soy would work)

Mix together equal portions of Miso and Sweet Soy, and then thin it out with some boiling water. Stock of some sort would also work, if you had some lying around. Just make sure you're not using anything overly salty, as both Miso and the "sweet" soy have a goodly quantity of sodium. Once you've got this material thinned down to a sauce consistency, add about 1/4 of a portion of Sriracha. Take part of this marinade and brush it on the fish. Meanwhile, go preheat your grill.

Once you're grill gets hot, make sure it's nice and clean, then lube up the grill grate with a little canola oil. I like to make a pad out of an old washcloth and soak it with oil. Then rub the pad vigorously over the grill. Don't stay in one spot too long, or it will catch fire. You'll only make that mistake once.

I cook my fish over medium high -- but, it depends on the thickness of your filets. While the fish cooks brush it with the remaining glaze every minute or so. I cooked my salmon for about 3 minutes per side. Remember, your grill at medium high is probably completely different than yours, so you might need more or less time. I was shooting for the fish to be medium-well @ service, and probably overdid it a little bit. It was still delicious though.

Montreal Tuna
Tuna Steaks -- Ahi
Montreal Steak Seasoning
Sesame Seeds

Yeah, this is a tough one. Rub your tuna steaks with the seasoning and some sesame seeds. Grill over the hottest part of the grill for 45-60 seconds per side for rare.
Serve, Enjoy.

This wasn't so much to add filler as it was to suggest that you try some more beefy flavor combinations with your tuna -- it's pretty stout, and can handle the flavors you'd normally use for steak. Especially when you serve it medium-rare or less.



A while back I had to make some meatball appetizers. You know the ones. Crock pot full of bubbling BBQ Sauce and pre-cooked frozen meatballs. Yeah, you've seen them at parties and probably the occasional reception/buffet. I used store bought BBQ sauce for this, as making my own for some meatballs seems like a waste. Normally, my bbq sauce of choice for a base/home doctoring is plain Kraft bbq sauce. They didn't have this at my local Sam's, so I bought the KC Masterpiece original that was available, as I remembered liking it when I was in college.

I was wrong. Or maybe my tastes have changed. I don't know, but this stuff is way sweet, way thick and not nearly "zesty" enough. I doctored it a little for the meatballs, adding some beef broth, chili powder and Sriracha for some heat. The meatballs turned out ok, everyone seemed to like them, but I was dissatisfied with my sauce. KC Masterpiece got tossed into the fridge and forgotten about.

Last night, after digging up seven Boxwoods in my backyard, I decided we needed BBQ'd pork chops for dinner. Rubbed the chops with some standard BBQ rub and let them marinate for a while. Open the fridge, and cringe when I realize that if I'm going to sauce these chops, I'm going to have to do it with that crappy leftover KC Masterpiece sauce. So, I made some adjustments to the sauce.

As you might have realized, I don't seem to like my BBQ sauce sweet. So, here's what I did to make my bottle of KC Masterpiece a real masterpiece: (someone please shoot me for saying that)
For salt -- probably around 1/4 cup of Soy
For tang -- probably about 2 Tbsp of Worcestershire
For sour -- 2 Tbsp each white vinegar and rice vinegar (I'd have used cider or red wine, but didn't have any)
For heat -- 1-2 Tbsp Sriracha
For flavor -- 1.5 Tbsp of my BBQ Rub

So, what I'm trying to say here is that you don't have to be a slave to the store bought. And even if you are, don't be afraid to add something to make it more "your own". Decide what you think is missing (salt/sweet/sour/spice), and then add something you've got around to punch up the flavor. Little things like using soy instead of salt can really make a difference in flavor. Don't be afraid to make changes, if you screw it up, remember, you really didn't like it that much to begin with.


Saturday, February 28, 2009


After seeing the bags of clams at various places around town and decided to buy some. They are delicious, tasty as the sea, and are the perfect way to start a meal (as an app), or to be your entire meal.

Here is what the internet told us to do to them: Get your clams out and turn on the cold water. Rinse them thoroughly and toss any that are cracked or open. Be careful not to toss them around as they may crack and it will be your fault you have one fewer clam.

Then take your medium saucepan, in our case, of the 3 qt variety. Add 2 tbsp butter and saute you up some garlic. Add pepper. Probably aren't going to need salt as your chosen protein came from the effing ocean. After the garlic is good and sauteed, add about 1.5 cup white wine. Let that warm up for a couple of minutes.

Next, you carefully place a layer of bivalves down in the bottom of the pan. While it is fine if the clams touch, you cannot stack them. Cover this mess with your lid. Back to the no-stacking rule: You may need to do 2 batches, so when batch one is done, put it in a bowl and cover w/a kitchen towel. How do I know if they are done, you might be asking. Clams remind me of popcorn: they will pop open. They are done when that happens. Sometimes, you have a straggler, so pull out his friends when the majority have popped and let slowy-mcslowerson pop on his own. If he doesn't pop after a few minutes, toss him and start batch two.

After all the clams have opened, you have a delicious broth in the bottom of the pan that, if you have chosen your clams properly, will taste like the ocean. You will want this in a bowl on your table for frequent tasting. I eat it like a soup.

One nice pairing with clams is bruschetta. Obviously, you will want the wine you didn't use in the broth, but of course, you may need an extra bottle. Quite frankly, we have found it pretty damn nice just eating a ton of clams. To each his own, I suppose.

In any event, try some clams. Pleasant surprises await!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Leftover Chicken! Whatever will we do?

One of us got a nice chicken/asparagus lunch yesterday. The other enjoyed a sandwich, so that there would be enough chicken leftover for dinner last night. How, might you ask, would one stretch a chicken breast and a wing into a meal (or two meals) for two? Add vegetables, rice, and chicken stock and turn that into Risotto.

To make a delicious risotto, you need a few things:
2 Cups Arborio, or other short grained rice
1 finely diced onion
3 Zucchini/Yellow Squash -- diced
5-7 dried Shitake mushrooms (you could use Porcini if you're rich)
2 quarts of chicken stock, or a combination of chicken stock and wine/water
your leftover chicken parts
seasonings complementary to said leftover chicken parts

Yep, you could cut this recipe in half, but, then you wouldn't have any leftovers...

First, get a big pot -- taller is better than wider. I like a nice stockpot. Last night I used my chef's pan, and, well, there was too much surface area and it took more time/liquid than it should have. Tall and narrow is the way to go. If you do this right, you can make the whole meal and only dirty two pots.

Sauté your zucchini/squash in butter/olive oil and season with complementary seasonings. I used some garlic and onion powder, celery salt, some soy and sesame oil. Once softened, and beginning to brown. Remove this to a bowl and set aside.

Add a little more butter/oil and begin to sweat your onion in the same pot. A little salt on the onion will go a long way toward the sweating process.

Meanwhile, get another saucepan on the stove and add a good portion of your chicken stock to it. I warmed up a quart and a half at first. Add your dried mushrooms to this and bring it to a simmer with the lid on. When the mushrooms have softened (10 minutes) remove them from the cooking liquid, stem them and dice them.

Back to the onions, when they become translucent, add all two cups of rice to the pan and sauté the rice with the onions. By the time the onions start to color, the sides of the rice should be beginning to become translucent. This is a good thing.

Turn the heat to low and add enough of the simmering broth to just barely cover the rice. Let the rice absorb all the liquid, stirring the rice occasionally (like every minute or two). When the first dose of liquid is absorbed, repeat the above process. As you start to consume your broth, add more to your pot of simmering broth. Last night, I used two quarts, but, you could probably do this with less -- go ahead and heat the whole amount just in case. Please note it should take approximately 45 minutes to use up all your broth. By the time that happens, you should have a creamy, thick delicious risotto. But wait, it's just rice and stock.

I hope, while the rice was busy absorbing all that tasty liquid, you were dicing up your leftover chicken. As the rice absorbs the last little bit of stock, add the chicken, mushrooms and reserved zucchini/squash. This would be an ideal time to check the seasoning. I added salt, pepper and garlic to my risotto. Oh, and a little parmesan cheese. I know, parm isn't the most complementary flavor to Chinese 5 Spice chicken, but, it adds creaminess and saltiness.

Serve with a side salad, and some crusty bread. (Starch on Starch! My favorite!)


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Surprise! I cooked Chicken!

Yeah, I know, I eat a lot of chicken. It's good though, especially when you grill one whole, on the bone.

This isn't so much a recipe post, as it is a technique post -- A technique I learned from Mr. Alton Brown. Yeah, I'll include a rub recipe, just for you.

Since I didn't take any pictures of the process, the good folks over at the San Francisco Chronicle will provide those. How to Spatchcock a Chicken I will give you the step by step instructions though.

Step 1. Cut a hole in the box.
Step 2. Put your... wait, wrong instructional

Ok, for real this time
Step one. Place your chicken on the cutting board breast side down, and cut (using a knife or better yet, kitchen shears) down one side of the backbone.
Step two. Cut down the other side of the backbone. You should know have your shears in one hand, and a chicken backbone in the other -- save this bone for the next time you make stock.
Step three. Use your paring knife to cut the membrane over/around the breast bone (from the inside -- you should have easy access to this, as it's directly opposite the now removed backbone)
Step four. Place both hands on the chicken's shoulders and flex him, similar to the way you'd open a book and stretch the spine. You should hear an audible pop.
Step five. Lever the breastbone (keel bone) out of the chicken. You're now done.

Not only does this method allow for quicker cooking, it makes it real easy to get some good flavors under that skin. Now that your bird is more flexible, you should be able to go under the skin at the former neck hole and spread your rub all around.

I grilled my bird last night, and decreased my cooking time even further by placing two foiled bricks on the bird. Started skin side down, finished skin side up. About 25 minutes per side over LOW heat -- your grill in the 350-375 range. I'm not telling you your bird will be done in 50 minutes -- your bird is done when it reaches the right temperature, which took 50 minutes for me last night.

Last night's bird was rubbed with a Chinese 5-spice blend, and served with some grilled asparagus.

5 Spice Rub
1 tsp Chinese 5 Spice Powder
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Kosher salt
black pepper to taste
enough toasted sesame oil to turn the above mix into a paste -- 1/2 to 1 tsp

Rubbed that all over the bird, both under and on the skin and prepared as directed above.

The asparagus got a bath in sesame oil, black vinegar, a little soy and salt and pepper. It hit the grill about 10 minutes before the bird was done.

Tonight, what to do with the leftovers (other than have them for lunch) the next day.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

First Chinese BBQ -- a review

I think we've established that I'm a big fan of all food. And, occasionally, I get on kicks where I'll crave a certain food, or genre of food for days or weeks on end. Lately that has been all things Chinese/Asian. So, I began doing research on Chinese cuisine close to my abode. Something a little better and more authentic than the take out places around the corner though.

It's well known that there is a mini-Chinatown in Dallas. Richardson, actually. Well, maybe it's not that well known, but, I knew about it, and have tried a couple of restaurants in the area and liked them. Jeng Chi is one of the few places to get Xiao Long Bao in the Dallas area. This place is great. And super cheap too. Check it out next time you're in the mood for soup dumplings, and your happen to be in Richardson near Greenville and Beltline. Most all of the Asian restaurants in that area have been given rave reviews by the folks over at Chowhound.

So, yeah, there's great Chinese in Richardson. But, Richardson isn't exactly close to the house, so I consulted the good folks at guidelive and chowhound for a recommendation. Enter First Chinese BBQ in Carrollton. Not the fanciest place, with its Beltline/Josey strip mall location, but from what I gather, super tasty food.

Joy and I went Monday night for some good Chinese-American foods. Yes. That's all I have to say. We split an order of Hot and Sour soup with pork, and an order of BBQ Pork with soft noodles. The hot and sour soup was some of the best I've ever had, but, more importantly, the pork within said soup was super tender, not the least bit chewy. The BBQ Pork was just right. Bright red and crispy on the outside edges, succulent and tender on the inside. Trust that I'll be figuring out how to make this stuff in the not to distant future. Oh yeah, and the whole meal (which, if I weren't such a glutton, would have made at least a lunch for one of us as well as the dinner) was $14.

We'll be going back to this place in the future, to try more of the incredibly extensive menu options. For those more adventurous types, they do include such options as "Duck Feet in Black Bean Sauce". While I can't guarantee that I'll be trying that one, I'm sure that you'll hear more about the place in the future.

First Chinese BBQ


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Tomatillo Salsa

Okay, I know I promised this a while back, and I now apologize replete with a full remedy: my tomatillo salsa procedure.

First, get yourself to your local store and buy about 12 of these bad boys. You will need to be sure they are firm to the touch, but not rock-hard. Think: the texture of a regular tomato you would buy and plan to eat about 5 days later. Get a bunch of cilantro. Buy one jalapeno. Buy 2-4 limes, depending on size. You will need 2 cloves of garlic.

Second, and this is the odd part: get a large (1-2 qt) bowl; add about 4 drops of dish soap; and run water into it to make a soapy water bath. One by one, peel the paper skin off the tomatillos, trash the skin, and then wash the fruits in the soapy water. As you'll understand when you do this, these bad boys are sticky-gooey. Give them a good soapy bath, paying special attention to the woody part in the top middle where the skin is ultimately connected to the tomatillo. Then, MOST IMPORTANTLY, rinse them off under the faucet. Rinse more than you think you need to. You do not like Dawn in your salsa, though if we know you it is probably true your mouth needs a good washing out with soap.

Third, check your tomatillos to be sure that they aren't sticky and gooey any more. This stuff doesn't really taste good in your salsa. If they are, re-clean and re-rinse them.

Fourth, now that your tomatillos are peeled and rinsed, you are ready to quarter them. So, fuckin quarter them already.

Fifth, get out your food processor or blender. Add tomatillos to fill up your receptacle about halfway. You can do this part in small batches if you need. In total, for 12 tomatillos, you'll need about half a bunch of cilantro to go with. Add about a quarter of your jalapeno. Add the garlic. Add about 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 tablespoons of pepper, give or take. YOU can always add more (salt and jalapeno) later! Squeeze in a lime. Blend this mess.

Now, once you have blended all your tomatillos and all your other stuff together, put them in a medium saucepan on medium-low heat. After about 10 minutes, taste your salsa and see if you need more jalapeno, salt, lime, or garlic. Once it comes to a boil, let it cook down for another 10-15 minutes, until the consistency is pretty good and thick. Another way to judge when your salsa is done is when it is a forest green (see your box of 64 Crayolas if you need). This is not the darker "pine green," but it is a solid, full, deep green. Remember, this is a salsa VERDE, so yea, that's what you want.

Sometimes we eat this one hot, and sometimes let it cool down. I think it is phenomenal the next day as a rule. Also, the tomatillo salsa can be used as your salsa in chilaquiles (eggs scrambled with salsa, tortilla chips crushed in while the eggs are still liquid, cheese (usually a white cheese) added as you would normally). In short, this salsa is ridiculously versatile and can be kept up to a couple of weeks in the fridge. Enjoy!

Robot out!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Nachos, Burritos and Tacos, who knows...

I dig Mexican food, as you may have noticed. One thing I'm particularly fond of is a good tamale. As you might recall, I've got a 5lb bag of Masa waiting to be turned into tamales. Whatever will I fill them with? Pork, also highly likely will be chicken, cheese and jalapenos, in some combination or another.

In preparation for my tamale-stravaganza, I decided to make some "pulled pork" tacos for dinner, and then save the leftover meat for the tamales.

Mexican shredded braised pork (aka Carnitas)
4 lbs of Pork butt (shoulder, Boston butt) -- boneless is ok, bone in will taste better
1 onion, cut into large chunks
rub -- whatever you'd use on your bbq -- these days I'm using Mesquite Country (if I don't make my own)
canned tomato sauce
beer! -- Miller Lite, the official domestic light and cold of BeefRobot
The below spice mix will season approximately 6-8 oz of liquid.
1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
2 tsp Cumin
1 Tbsp Chili Powder
1tsp Mexican Oregano
a Bay leaf or two
1.5 teaspoons Garlic Powder
1 tsp crushed red pepper

You'd be wise to start this process two days before you really want to eat. One night will work, if necessary, and I suppose you could do this all in the same day, but, you're going to be with this thing for some time should you choose that option.

Coat the outside of your butt with your bbq rub. Heavy, on all sides; don't be shy, remember, you're seasoning at least 4 inches of meat here. Note: if your rub is of the sweet variety, this is probably not the application for it. Get, or better yet create, something savory, preferably with some heat. Once you're good and coated, wrap the whole thing in plastic and let it rest in the fridge for a few hours. Hopefully overnight.

Warm your biggest dutch oven on the stove on medium-high heat and add a tablespoon of oil. I like this Le Creuset knockoff that I got as a wedding present. This thing rules. And it's way cheaper than the real deal. Anyway, when the oil just starts to smoke, throw your hog in it. Don't move it for a good 5-6 minutes. Once it's seared nicely on the one side, flip sides and repeat. Continue this until the butt is seared all over. Meanwhile, mix up your first round of spices. I'd start with enough to season two cups of liquid and make more if necessary. What liquid are we going to season? Beer. Pretend you're making the most hardcore michelada ever. Mix all the dry seasonings, combine the beer with a can of tomato juice, and whisk in the dry seasoning.

I will tell you that I cheated at this point, and used a can of Hatch Enchilada Sauce as part of my braising liquid (along with the seasoned beer). You should feel free to do the same, assuming you can find said sauce. It is absolutely unnecessary though; you could certainly just make your own braising liquid as described above. Throw the chopped up onion in the pot and add enough liquid to the pot to come 2/3 of the way up the sides of the meat. It took about 16-18 ounces for me. Cover this and put it in your 275 degree oven until the butt is done.

How do you know when it's done? Well, its temperature should register in the 170 degree range, but, it should also be fall apart tender. This will take some time, probably upwards of 3 hours, if not longer. Don't rush it; you're developing flavor and tenderness. If it needs to cook to 200 to be tender, let it. Tough tamales/tacos = not so good.

When the pork is 170 degrees and fall apart tender, pull the meat out of the pot and allow it to cool. Pour the juice from the pot into your gravy/fat separator and allow the fat to rise to the top. When the meat is cool enough to handle, remove as much fat as you can and pull it apart using two forks, or your fingers.

Once you've got the meat shredded, add it back to the pot and add a little of the cooking juices back at a time until it reaches the consistency you'd like. I had to use ALL of the liquid from mine. If you run out of liquid, season up some chicken stock and use that. This is a divergence from true carnitas, which would cook in the pan in its own fat until crispy. If you want crispiness (for tacos or burritos) throw this mess under the broiler until it has the crispiness you desire. Then add more of the braising liquid. It's up to you. The meat is now ready to eat, but, if you can refrigerate it and wait until tomorrow, it will be so much better.

For the tacos, I made a simple slaw with cabbage, lime juice, garlic powder, oil, salt and pepper. This went atop my pork taco with some avocado slices and sautéed onions/tomatoes. Coro's tomatillo salsa would have been nice as well, but he has yet to publish the recipe. A-hole.

When you try this, you're going to like it. Prepare yourself, as this is going to be an ongoing theme until I've decided I've got enough filling to ensure making tamales is a worthwhile effort.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Comfort Food V.1

The other day, Cory and I were chatting back and forth via email and discussing "what to do" with the pound of boneless skinless chicken thighs I had lying about. We had discussed many options, including marinating them in the Jerk seasonings I returned from Jamaica with, creating some sort of Italian chicken type dish or possibly turning them into some form of fashion of stir-fry. The stir-fry option got me thinking about another chicken and vegetable combination. The pot pie. That pot pie got me thinking about other pot pie options, so, you get a two-fer today.

I never used to like the pot pie, maybe because I wasn't really all that into vegetables when I was a kid or maybe it was the "gravy-esque" sauce inside. I don't really know, but I do know that my tastes have changed and I now love me some pot pie. The below recipe could be adapted to any cut of chicken, or even leftover chicken. Also, it could be seasoned and flavored however you like. It's your call. Do what you will. Pot pies are also an excellent way to get rid of vegetables that are nearing the end of their usefulness.

Chicken Pot Pie (Italian, in this case)
1 lb Chicken -- cooked
1 sheet frozen puff pastry
1 onion diced
3 ribs of celery diced
3 zucchini diced
2 squash diced
2 random colored bell peppers diced
3 tbsp fat (oil, butter, bacon grease)
3-4 tbsp flour
Chicken stock
seasonings of your choice -- I used garlic powder, some chicken bouillon, salt, pepper and basil.

Chop up your onion and place it in a sauté pan over medium heat with a touch of olive oil. While the onion softens, chop the rest of your vegetables (3-4 minutes). When the onion has become somewhat translucent, add the celery and the bell peppers. Cook all of this till the onion begins to turn golden, and the celery and peppers are beginning to soften, and then add the zucchini and squash. Now is the time to hit all this veggie mess with some salt and pepper (and in my case, some basil and Italian seasoning).

Once your veggies have obtained a nice golden hue, add a couple of tablespoons of butter drop the heat and stir in 3 tablespoons of flour. Stir this in and make a nice roux, and cook this roux for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. You want to cook the rawness out of the flour. If your roux looks to thin, add more flour. To thick? Is there really such a thing? You could add more butter, I suppose. Now, whisk in some chicken stock. I used about a half a cup of stock and a little bit of milk, for some added creaminess. You're going to want to make enough sauce to lube up all your veggies, and all the chicken you're about to add. While your gravy/sauce thickens, shred your chicken and add it to the pan.

Once you've achieved the desired viscosity of your chicken/veggie/sauce mix, pour it into a casserole and top with the puff pastry. Trim the edges and crimp them so you get a nice seal around your casserole. Brush the top with egg wash and jam it in the oven @ 400 degrees till the top is golden. Mine took about 25 minutes.

You'd be wise to place a sheet pan under your pot pie in the oven. Mine boiled over. It makes what some might call "a mess".

My wife really, really likes the crust, so, next time I'll likely make a bottom crust also, or use a store bought pie shell. Or, as Cory suggested, crescent roll dough. That suggestion made me think of a pocket pie made with crescent roll dough. Yum.

I was on a bit of a pot pie kick, and wanted some Mexican food. I found this recipe for Tamale Pot Pie on Texas Monthly and decided I'd give it a shot. With a few minor adjustments, of course.

Things I changed --
I used ground chicken, instead of pork
I added a diced chipotle or two, and discarded the Tabasco
I added some zucchini and squash (surprised? I didn't think so)
2 tsp of Cumin instead of a whole tablespoon, no allspice
For the topping, I used a packaged cornbread mix to which I added Velveeta, a can of green chili peppers and chili powder. I would have used another cheese, but, all I had was the Velveeta.

All in all, it turned out pretty nice. I'll probably use a mix of ground meats next time, as all chicken was just a little dry.

So, there you have two tasty pot pie type meals for your weeknight consumption. Go forth, experiment, and if you have any questions, let me know.

By the way, there are no pictures of these meals for a number of reasons. One, cause a forgot to take a pretty picture before service and two, because after service it's really hard to take a picture of a pot pie and have it come out looking like anything other than vomit.