Monday, April 20, 2009

Animal Style

It is no secret that I love me some In 'N' Out. I always order the cheeseburger animal style, with animal fries on the side. On our drive back from Las Vegas this weekend, Kho and I stopped at the In 'N' Out in Barstow, just in time for the Sunday dinner rush. Loads of road-bound families and a few locals.

Somehow I am never satisfied with just the regular amount of animal style. For the un-initiated, animal style means adding fried onions, extra spread and pickles. And I simply cannot get ENOUGH! So I tried asking for it Double Animal Style this time. Here's what I got:

Quite frankly, I could still add even more! I don't know what's wrong with me, but I just can't get enough. I wonder if they'll let me have Triple Animal Style next time...

P.S. If you'd like to feel informed next time you step into the In 'N' Out go here.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Cilantro Experiment Update!

I am very pleased to report that not only did I hear back from the friendly people of the cilantro debacle/experiment, but I heard good news about the deliciousness of the meal and even received photos! Hurray! Christian, who appears to be the ringleader of a wily group of brothers, has approved my posting an excerpt of his email regarding the meal in question (and the photos).

"Jennifer, thought you would enjoy some pics of the cilantro experiment. In all honestly, it turned out really well, the meat was extremely moist and flavorful, and I think it may be a permanent addition to my repitoire. If you want the recipe, let me know and I will forward it along. Bob, by the way, is somewhat of a cooking disaster, but we love him nonetheless. He is only job that night (after giving an obligatory "what can I do to help" while swigging a coors light from the couch and noticing that many of us were sweating it out in the kitchen) was to finely dice the parsley. He was given specific instructions to not dice the cilantro (which, as you know, is much more potent) several times and he even orally confirmed to me that he was not dicing the cilantro whilst, in fact, he was dicing the cilantro. After applying the crust for the mandated time period (about 4 hours), it wasn't until I was making the guac that I noticed the herb mishap, and that point, it was too late to make another crust (well, that, and I was out of kosher salt).

Bob's punishment was to call you for advice, so, many thanks for your timely reply and for sound advice to move forward rather than abort.

All the best,

Thanks guys!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Loquat Chutney

I just made my first ever chutney! I can't believe I've been missing out on this for so long, it was so simple and enjoyable. Pretty much like making preserves.

The inspiration to start this little project came from the Loquat tree in my backyard, which is currently dropping its fruit all over the place. I'd never had one or heard of one until I moved here, and now I'm hooked. They taste like a cross between an extremely mild peach or nectarine, and maybe a pear? I don't know how to better describe it at the moment.

The skin peels off easily, but isn't distasteful to eat, so why bother. The flesh is extremely soft, and the center has between 1 and 3 smooth stones in it. I'd been trying to think about what to make with them for a while, and putting it off, and then I looked at some ingredients in the cupboard that were about to go bad, and realized they could come together nicely in a chutney.

I found a recipe online, but modified to suit my tastes. Here's where I found the original. Mine goes like this.

6-7 ripe loquats, chopped or julienned, stones removed
2 apples, chopped into small, 1/4" chunks
a handful or two of dried apricots, chopped thinly
1/5 finely diced onion
1/8 c julienned fresh ginger
one finely diced chile, seeds removed
2 T mustard seed
1 c sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/8 c apple cider vinegar
1/4 c water

Get all of your ingredients prepped, toss them into a saucepan and bring to a boil.

Turn heat to a simmer and let go until chutney is cooked down to your liking.

It took me a little over an hour. Basically, you want the apples to be nearly mush, everything to be congealing into one mass, but still have a bit of form and definition. Here's how it looked when almost ready:

Then eat it with EVERYTHING. I tried with some roasted root vegetables, indian style yogurt, baba ganouj, eggplant caviar and crackers. Would have been great with naan or samosas, pita or basmati rice, but that's what I could do the quickest for my hunger.

I plan to make a bigger batch next time and properly seal several jars for future enjoyment!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

recent food recollections

I have been eating pretty well the past few weeks. Accompanied by an out-of-town visitor, I made many a scramble, roasted many a beet, enjoyed homemade hummus, birthday cupcakes, and some very fancy chocolate chip cookies.

I also revisited some of my new favorite LA eatin' spots: Mashti Malone's (incredible Iranian ice cream with flavors like Sour Cherry Faludeh and Ginger Rosewater), Kogi BBQ Taco Truck (best idea and execution of fusion cooking ever), The Nickel Diner (best burger I've eaten in my life and possibly best cupcake too), and fresh mango in a bag with chile and lime from the side of the road, which was a favorite of mine in Chicago days too.

The best thing about those fave spots is that they are all totally reasonably priced and excellent for sharing. Thank you, LA. Next week I hope to find the restaurant/diner in Griffith Park that I keep hearing about...I think it's near the golf course area. Supposed to be delicious.

Here's a recent frittata meal. Made with miscellaneous starchy leftovers, fresh carrots, onion, garlic, potatoes and broccoli...and chipotle with adobo sauce.

And a great tapenade plate from Le Pain Quotidien (where the ricotta and radishes were the real stars):

Oh, and the Food Hotline also had some nice calls recently! Thanks for calls about artichokes (don't boil!), sugar cookies (be sure to chill the dough), and especially the comment from Erin about the Cilantro Experiment (so glad it turned out!).

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Cilantro Experiment

I had an interesting phone call this afternoon, from Bob S., who from the area code, seems to live in Massachusetts. He (and some cohorts that I could hear in the background), were cooking up what sounded like a delicious feast:

Salt and herb encrusted Beef tenderloin
Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta
Small red potatoes
Guacamole for snacking

Delicious, right? The only problem was that, even though he was reminded more than once to be sure he chose parsley instead of cilantro, he got the whole herb/salt mixture applied to the tenderloin before realizing he was using cilantro! Goodness.

Here's where the Emergency Food Hotline comes in. Somehow he found the blog, and made a quick call about his food emergency. We discussed the options. Either he could remove the crust from the tenderloin immediately and redo the whole thing, hoping the herbs had not already embedded their confused flavor into the meat....OR...he could go the experimental route (always my favorite) and follow through with his accidental flavor combination.

Bob decided that experimental was the way to go, and I thought perhaps he could use a sauce to tie the flavors together, and make one that would go with another of the dishes too. So I asked if he had any types of peppers, and they had bell peppers and a jabanero. I recommended broiling the peppers til the skins were good and roasted, then pureeing together with some oil, salt and pepper and maybe a few spices if the mood struck them. Then the sauce could be a side for both the tenderloin and the squash, hopefully bringing a splendid complement to the cilantro mixup.

Oh, and we decided they could use a bit of cumin with the tomatoes and onion in the guacamole since there was no cilantro left to brighten it up.

Bob & co., I cannot wait to hear how it turned out!