A Blog Mainly About Food

If by "mainly" you mean "sometimes"

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Drink This


2004 Margan Shiraz Saignee
Originally uploaded by Kanishka.
Enjoyed a bottle of rose last night. And when I say enjoy, I mean savored every last drop as if it was the last bit of booze left on the continent. If it wasn't 11:30 and if I weren't drunk, I would have gone to Schneiders and purchased another bottle.

Oh yeah, as the title of the image says, this is a bottle of Margan Family 2004 Shiraz Saignee. I'll probably write a DCist entry about it Monday. This stuff is totally and utterly the wine of summer. Two more months of heat to enjoy it -- so get drinkin', people.

(For those who have an aversion to pink wine: try this. You'll change your mind.)

Friday, July 29, 2005

Turning Green (or Grey)

Here's the easiest way to make me extremely angry short of being mean to Reenee (only I'm allowed to do that): say something pejorative about my race. To wit, read the first comment on my latest DCist post to see a prime example.

I love cowardly white people who hide behind pseudonyms and spout trash. It's a testament to a person's upbringing. And seriously, can't you be more creative than using "off the boat" as a euphemism for an immigrant? Most immigrants eschewed using boats as conveyance years ago. If you showed some sort of creativity in your insults -- maybe referring to H1 visas, or call centers, or something with more current relevance to the issue -- I'd be just as insulted, but also slightly impressed by the expression of basic intelligence.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Buffalo Smolder


Buffalo NY Strip Steak
Originally uploaded by Kanishka.
In your semi-regular "what did Kanishka cook" photo update, I present you Buffalo NY Strip Steak, medium rare, with a mesclun salad. Every Saturday, Cibola Farms come to Eastern Market to sell their outstanding free range meats and eggs. I had their version of a Slim Jim, a Buffalo Trail Stick, last weekend and gotta say even that was good. Their eggs are truly outstanding, if a little unpredictable. The ground free range pork and ground buffalo make some good burgers.

But the highlight is the buffalo steak. This was marinaded simply in chili flakes, salt, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil overnight. Tonight, it was grilled for about five minutes over hot hot flames -- witness those great grill marks. It was delicious. One of measures I have for a good steak is that you shouldn't need more than a butter knife to slice it, and that was certainly the case here. Helps that buffalo are totally lazy animals.

Oxymoronic Shrimp


Shtimp Pasta, Day 2
Originally uploaded by Kanishka.
First, man is my camera sucky. Must have investment for future: very good digital camera.

But this was, I think, one of the better dinners to come out of the depths of "I'm too good for recipes" land. I picked up some nice looking jumbo shrimp along with the other ingredients from the market on Saturday, but waited until Sunday to do it up. Stem to stern this recipe took about an hour or so, and was well worth it.

1 dozen jumbo shrimp (head on if available)
2 medium or one large, fresh heirloom tomato, diced
1 shallot, sliced
4 cloves garlic, sliced or crushed
Cilantro to taste
Salt to taste

Peel and devein the shrimp, reserving the shells. Pour 1 cup water in a small saucepan or pot and bring to a boil. Add the shrimp shells (and heads if you have them) along with a touch of salt and spare veggies (celery, carrots, that sort) if you like, lower the heat, and simmer uncovered for at least 30 minutes. Sit back for a bit; have a glass of pinot grigio.

After 20 minutes, start your pasta going in a large pot while sautéeing the shallots and garlic over medium heat in a heavy pan. Throw in the tomato and stir around, breaking up any large pieces with your spatula. Here's where I differ from many: I don't care if the tomatoes are skinned or not. You may, in which case good luck to you; this is where our paths part.

Throw in the raw shrimp and lower heat to medium low. Take your shrimp stock and strain in a very fine sieve or cheesecloth. Discard leftover solids. Your stock should have the color of a Sam Adams, though it certainly won't taste like one. Pour half a cup of the stock into the pan and heat (your stock should aleady be at a boil) until the shrimp is just barely opaque. Finish the pasta in the sauce and add in cilantro as you like. Enjoy.

***

A few things about this meal. I realize now I should have used thinner pasta, but oh well. But the real fun part here was making the stock, which I'd never done before. I assume that since shrimp shells are significantly thinner than, say, veal bones, shrimp stock is much easier to make. I was actually inspired by the ground beef episode of Iron Chef America, where I believe the opponent made a consommé from the beef. Not a bad idea! Finally, I would have benefitted with some citrus on this to brighten it -- lemon zest, or maybe lemon juice. But that's an experiment for another day.

(btw, it was fine reheated, but not as good as day 1, natch.)

Intermezzo

I'll have a picture and a basic recipe for what I suspect was one of the best meals I've ever cooked up for perusal later. It was really, really, really good. Until then, please, read the latest Waiter Rant. Don't give a toss if Waiter's stories are true or false. This guy can turn from melancholy to potty humor on a dime. He's fantastic.

Also: The dining agenda for the coming weeks: 8/2 Poste, 8/3 Zola, 8/6 a restaurant in Baltimore to be named later. Suggestions for the third are welcome. Cannot be chain, cannot be only sushi, seasonal cuisine preferred, cost should be average (well, high for Baltimore). Might also do Etete in Lil'E this weekend. I'm living off the fat of the land.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Chicken Curry and Running Commentary

2 chicken breasts, skinned, bone in
1/2 large white onion, broadly sliced
2 jalapenos, diced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup basil (I used purple)
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
Salt
Flour
Spices to taste: may include chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, whatever strikes your fancy


I've never made "curry" from scratch -- that is, without using curry powder or something of the like. Whatever; it's not like the term curry has any *ahem* currency. It's a catch all that just means gravy.

(speaking of gravy, just found out that I'll be financially covered during the lag between new and old job. Not taking a vacation for two years paid off, nice.)

Take a strong knife and chop the chicken breast, breaking the bones. Leave the bones though -- there's a lot of flavor in there! Boneless chicken breasts are an abomination. Cover the chopped pieces in your choice of spices and let sit for a while.

(speaking of sitting for a while, that is what the last few weeks at this job are gonna be for me. Just sittin'. W00t!)

In a large and heavy saucepan, sauté the onions in a healthy glug of olive oil over medium-low heat until almost translucent. Throw in the chicken and cook it all until the chicken is cooked on the exterior. Then add the chicken stock and jalapenos and bring to a boil. When at boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes. Now is the time to start your rice.

(speaking of rice, am having trouble conceiving of the fact that my ultimate boss will soon be Condi Rice. How crazed is that?)

After 20 minutes, mix in small amounts of flour, stirring carefully with a whisk or small spoon to avoid clumping. Add salt to taste -- you'll need some, especially if you go heavy on the flour. At the very, very last minute throw in your basil and cilantro; your curry should now have a nice green color to it.

(speaking of nice green, there's a lot more green coming my way now. Dream job + raise = elation.)

This curry turned out very spicy, and I did under salt (me, under salt? weird) the dish a little. But it was good. Next time I make it, I think I'm going to eschew the breast and go for the tastier leg and thigh pieces of the chicken. Chicken breast is overrated anyway.

(speaking of chicken breast... err, actually not, everything has now been made official. Contract is in, papers are signed. Oddly, right now Radiohead lyrics are going through my head... "I'm not here... this isn't happening..." Of course, the feeling behind those lyrics and my current feelings are pretty much opposite.)

Thursday, July 21, 2005

FSO: Feeling So Odd

Enough teasing. Yesterday I found out that I made it in to the Foreign Service -- that is, passed the written, passed the orals, passed the language, passed security, and passed the medical. Paperwork in regards to my salary is currently being worked out, and it's about 99% that I'll be starting my training at the Foreign Service Institute on September 6th. Seven weeks of intense training followed by a 6-8 month period of more training.

I've got so many mixed feelings about this. This has been a dream of mine for some time, but the actuality of it all still hasn't hit me. And from the moment I received "the tap" things have been moving very, very quickly. Thank goodness I live in DC; otherwise, this would have been an even more nervewracking situation. And there are the feelings of sadness about leaving my current job, my first real job ever.

So where to from here? I don't know. There's no use in theorizing about where I'm going to end up until I see the actual bid list. There's no use thinking about packing, as I'm here in DC already. Predictably, fashion has become my preoccupation. Suits every day! Those Esquires were really handy.

It appears that the months after this summer will be amazingly intense. So I'll probably spend ample time in celebration in August. And then? Life changes. Significantly.

Woah.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

So Close

I'm very, very close.

Life is funny sometimes.

Stay tuned for details.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

@Q$_Q@!

Stupid work things, bringing me down on the day I find out I'm fit to work in Tajikistan, Lesotho, and even Detroit.

Sudden news -- even if it isn't surprising -- isn't particularly pleasant. It's got me down, that's for sure.

Apologies, by the way, for the vagueness. It's related to the real job, and won't be of interest to others. Real job readers/friends, a formal announcement is coming.

Non Food Related Life Update

So, guess what? I got a letter in the mail yesterday with five really nice words. They were "Unlimited Clearance for Worldwide Assignment."

Unfortunately, this is just the med clearance. No word on security yet. But I'm keeping my fingers crossed. (for reference, new reader, I'm talking about this.)

If you had this chance, where would you go? I think about it like every day, and my choices constantly change...

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Summer's Harvest

Just got back from the market, where I picked up

-- A bunch of beets (official discovery of summer '05)
-- Purple basil (this stuff looks so good -- wish I didn't leave my camera at work)
-- An eggplant
-- Locally grown white peaches
-- Locally grown tomatoes
-- Some of Cinda Sebastian's fantastic mesclun salad
-- A piece of buffalo NY strip
-- Two organic chicken breasts (bone in, natch)

There's good eating ahead. I haven't been cooking as much as usual, but I want that to change.

Tonight, I'm off to Corduroy for some softshells. Did you read Kliman's cover story in the City Paper? You should. I don't think I want to return to Phillips, ever.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Swilling


Beer at Trustys
Originally uploaded by Kanishka.
Sorry, haven't blogged in a while. Since Grass left, we've radically restructured the way DCist works. It's more decentralized, and a little more time consuming -- but worth it. It's becoming a more collaborative effort, and (sorry to go all meta blog on you, my four dedicated readers) post pacing, advance planning, and intrastaff communication have become well structured. My current wishlist for the site includes a monuments writer and another newsblogger. There are feelers out there for the latter, but if, on the off chance, there's a reader of this blog that would be interested in the former, please leave a comment.

Also in DCist stuff, check out the inaugural Coalition of the Swilling! If you've got bars you'd like covered, leave a comment in the post.

Last night Audrey and I checked out La Lomita on 13th and Penn. A totally non-descript place serving good, solid food. Nothing to write to your congressman about, but nothing to write the health department about either. One problem: I wish they had more clearly delineated smoking and non-smoking sections.

Weekend dining outlook: cloudy.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Pork & Pineapple "Salad," Wilted Beet Greens, Chili Vinaigrette

So this was my leftover solution, with the addition of the pork chop.

I took an extremely thick pork chop (about .75 lbs.) and dry rubbed it in chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, and kosher salt for about two days (flipping about every 12 hours).

After the two days, I threw the pork on the grill over medium high flames for 40 minutes, 20 on one side, 15 on the other, and 2.5 on the two longer edges. In the meantime, I washed and chopped a cup of fresh beet greens, minced half a shallot, and minced four cloves of garlic. Oh, and diced a half cup of pineapple.

After the pork was done (easily told -- test the resistance the meat has to slight pressure. If it's like the heel of your palm, you're at medium rare; your forearm, rare; the top of your foot, thoroughly inedible), I took the meat off to rest. While it was resting (4-8 minutes) I sauteed the garlic and shallots in a healthy glug of olive oil and threw in the chopped greens, sauteeing them all together and mixing over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes. You can tell the beet greens are done when they turn bright red green (it was late, I was tired! Yeesh).

I plated the greens and put 1/3 cup cider vinegar and a tablespoon of chili flakes in a teeny sauce pan to heat. I chopped the pork into pieces about the same size as the pineapple and plated the whole mess, and then drizzled on the vinegar/chili flake mix.

The result was interesting. The garlic had caramelized because of a heat mishap, but the sweetness wasn't a bad element, especially when countering the bitter greens. The pork, well, it was too salty, even for me. Must learn to have a lighter hand with that. But all together -- the pineapple, the pork, the greens, the dressing -- I enjoyed this meal. A bit much to prepare when you start at a quarter to 9, but it was good.

One question: what the heck kind of cuisine is this? Its surely not Polynesian. Good god, I think I'm cooking fusion.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Fish Evaluated

Below is my photo log of cooking Bacon wrapped trout. I realized later I hadn't posted my thoughts on the meal. One thing I don't know how to do yet is incorporate multiple flickr images onto a blogger blog well. I'll have to, you know, study or something for that.

Anyway, I'm not sure how to do this right and I'm currently annoyed at how crappy my camera is. But seriously: finished product later in the blog, or first, telling people to scroll down? That whole "scroll down, read down, scroll up" routine is straight up played.

But enough of that. The trout was good, not great. As mentioned earlier, the savory was a little too strong and the flavor of lemon -- probably because I bought one of inferior quality -- wasn't that evident. But the fish and the bacon matched fairly well, and any meal is made better with the addition of corn.

Next up: some party attendees will remember the pork and pineapple appetizer I made. Tomorrow, I swing that baby main-course style, in a dish I like to call "delicious pork and pineapple thing made up after seeing a show about dry rubs and realizing there was leftover pineapple in the crisper."

The Finished Product


The Finished Product
Originally uploaded by Kanishka.
Here's the finished result in all it's poorly lit glory. Bacon wrapped trout served with bi-color corn and a mesclun/sorrel salad. I'm not at Scott's level, but hey, I can hold my own. Wait till winter, peeps, when I rock it soup style. Though I love summer meals, stews where I gradually add ingredients over the course of six hours, drinking the whole time -- that's more my steez.

For the full tale, scroll down to the first fishy picture, blog style. Come on, you guys have heard of blogs, right?

Obvious Choice of Cooking Apparatus


Flame On!
Originally uploaded by Kanishka.
What else would I use for this purpose? The sheer possibility of singeing my eyebrows off from flying flames caused by cooking bacon on a grill was temptation enough. Here we see Mr. Fish (who I didn't actually name, come on guys, that would be weird) enjoying a nice bath of flame. His bacon blanket was clearly not the best choice to bring out that evening. I mean really, it looks kind of uncomfortable.

All Wrapped Up with No Place to Go

I hear that fish actually love it when you wrap them in bacon. Or is that women? In any case, doing this was pretty fun. Barely visible are the soaked toothpicks used to hold that bacon onto the fish. Piercing the skin of the trout (not to mention skull) with toothpicks? Not as easy as you'd think.

Stuff That Cavity


Summer Savory, a Bit Too Smoky
Originally uploaded by Kanishka.
I used summer savory, thyme, kosher salt, and later slices of lemon to dress the interior. Here you see the filleted trout with all the ingredients sans the lemon. This was my first ever experience with savory and I have to admit, I wasn't huge about it. I mean, it was okay, but I think I overused it and the distinct peppery notes overpowered the fish and the citrus. It was okay, but not great.

I'm So Cute and Filleted. You Know You Want Me

Its time for trout! Actually, I don't know why I put an exclamation point there. I mean, I like trout okay and all, but really, fish bones scare the living daylights out of me and trout is about as boney as a female marathon runner. But you know, I'm always up for experimenting, and remembering Missy's adage that everything is better with bacon, I decided to take a shot at a recipe I'd heard of but never tried, bacon wrapped trout. Plus, you know, grill and all... how could I resist?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

MetaBlogging the London Bombings

Not much to blog about except the ever interesting meta-blogging. Recommended (other than the obvious Londonist) are the Guardian's news blog and the Flickr photo pool. The latter has some rather morbid and/or darkly funny pictures. For example, this image. Utilizing a combination of MSPaint and Flickr to communicate with your friends in the wake of disaster... wow. In a utilitarian sense, I guess when mobile lines are jammed (as they are in London, apparently) all of a sudden the 'net becomes the quickest method of communication. But to me, this is a marriage of a clumsy standard application and a fairly elegant website to result in something approaching profundity.

Updated to Add: This is in no way to trivialize what happened today. It's an incredibly sad day, and on reading back I realize my off the cuff statements seem to trivialize things a bit -- which is not my intention. This is all very, very scary and as many of you know, a part of my heart has long been in London, especially in the areas around Aldgate East and King's Cross/St. Pancras station. Prayers for all affected...

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

In Retrospect


Food Almost Gone
Originally uploaded by Kanishka.
The party was great. Very crowded, lots of randoms making up for some people not showing *coughcoughcertaincoworkerscough*. Also, fireworks, an 8:30 beer run that turned into having no beers left at 11, nice comments on the new place and the food... I really like this apartment. Though I really didn't like the hangover, the hangover hangover, and the fact that I couldn't move my shoulders this morning.

But all that is okay. This was the first party, and ambitious. Next time I'll probably go for smaller menus, maybe more interesting food with less guests. I'm still kinda scared, but would love to grill a whole fish. And scallops. And if I could find them, softshells (I know they're around, I'm just lazy). But for now, I'm looking forward to a weekend where I get my sit on.

Man That Chicken Can Drink


Beer Can Chicken
Originally uploaded by Kanishka.
Beer can chicken about halfway through grilling. You may notice that it is rather precariously balanced. This was a problem towards the end of the grilling process, as it toppled a couple of times. Still, it was supposedly good. The skin didn't get as crispy as I wanted it, but thee flesh was pretty tender. I've got to experiment with different rubs and probably some woodchips and stuff to perfect this one.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Appetizer Spread


The Appetizer Spread
Originally uploaded by Kanishka.
From 12 O'Clock, clockwise: nuclear chedder and sour cream potato chips; pork and pineapple skewers; deviled eggs two ways (with and without bacon); peppers with a dill/chive sour cream dip; homemade salsa; Tostitos. I only had a touch of the dip and one deviled egg, but people said everything was good.

(oh yeah, I've joined flickr)

Sorted

Full on report about party to come. Brief summation: Bee ay enn ay enn ay ess.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Mixed Nuts

Quite the mental bouillabaise today. I'm riding the warm and fuzzies for all the DCist love (thanks Judy!), vague nervousness about the coming nuclear summer, and a mix of panic and anticipation for what will probably be a ridiculous party Sunday. Like woah.

Last night Martin, Rob, and I went to Oohhs and Aahhs for dinner. We sat upstairs and despite the unexpectedly long wait for food, everything was pretty darn awesome. The blackened catfish was so spicy and so good -- I definitely want to get some more of that. Normally when I get something blackened, the spice level is okay but requires some hot sauce to keep it going. Not this fish... so so so good. Three "so"s people! This place is fo'rilla. I was also charmed by the service; it seems clear that Oohhs and Aahhs hires local, and what the food runner lacked in polish he abundantly made up for in politeness and attention.

There will be many more people coming to the house Sunday than anticipated. Nice. Hey lurkers, how much food do you think is needed for like 40 people? So far, I'm buying 2 chickens and probably 5 lbs. of meat for burgers. Also around 15 sausages, a dozen eggs to devil, vegetarian grilling options (probably portabello 'shrooms and eggplant), and a dozen ears of corn. Am wondering if that is enough. Am nervous that it won't be. I've seen my friends eat. They're animals.