All posts filed under: International

1 From Column “B” – Sesame Chicken

When I lived in the city, my house was within spitting distance of 4 different Chinese restaurants… none of them, really, very good. Be that the case, my fridge was awash in half-eaten Chinese take-out boxes trying to find that one thing they cooked really well. I had gotten to the point where I’d only order Salt and Pepper Shrimp from one guy.. and nothing else. Another would get my Mu Shu Pork order.. And the other guy?  Well, he got the Lemon Chicken / No Sauce. “That’s just fried chicken…! “Yes, Mr. Woo… that’s right…. I’ve always loved the idea of Sesame Chicken. Sesame oil, Toasty, Toasty sesame seeds and a rich aromatic sauce surrounding crispy bits of marinated and fried chicken….. At least that’s how I imagine it would be. But what I THINK – and what I GET rarely match up. Doing the take-out route, I’ll rarely order anything that’s fried and comes in sauce. Invariably, whatever they have battered just becomes a grease haven, and the sauces, for my tastes, are usually way too sweet and …

Mixed Paella

Admittedly, I was going to go all Martha on you all and tag this a Simple Dinner Sunday, but my conscience just wouldn’t let me. Point In fact, there’s nothing simple about good paella. True, you can buy one of those “yellow rice” tubes, toss in a chicken breast and a package of that mixed seafood you find at the back of the freezer cabinet – but why bother. Sometimes, taking a shortcut is as believable as opening a can of Chef Boyardee and telling your family “Look, I made ravioli!”. Although I have been to several Atlanta restaurants that appear to have done just that…. um, the yellow rice thing… not the canned ravioli. When I started researching the paella, I knew I wanted more depth of flavor that saffron and garlic alone were going to give. I stumbled on an old recipe for the broth that I liked – but not the rest of the preparation. I decided to keep the broth and tweaked it a bit. The chicken marinade is my own creation …

Little Sparrows

Don’t get alarmed, we aren’t talking actual bird-like sparrows, but rather Spätzle. Quite possibly my absolute favorite when it comes to a fresh-made pasta.  Why?  Some of you Italian pasta purists might be asking yourself that very question… Because start to finish they take 4 minutes Because its a close inbred cousin to my other addiction – dumplings Because you get all these nooks and butter grabbing crannies when you make them the traditional way and… Because you can infuse the batter with all sorts of killer flavor boosters – like sausage, liver, cherries and apples… try doing that with penne. Traditional Spätzle is really stupid simple. It is a soft noodle made with a fairly wet batter. The batter is spread over a cutting board and then scraped into salted boiling water. I’ve found an easier way to accomplish the same effect, is to apply the batter to the back of a wide spatula, then scrape the noodles off into the water with the edge of a knife or second spatula. I really don’t want to say …

Sopes Sopa – or – Chicken Masa Soup

I came back from the beach to find these Sopes in the fridge. Gummy, doughy little Masa cakes called sopes. Usually, you steam or grill them and fill with a savory meat saucy thing. The Masa turns a cheesy consistency and the whole dish should remind you of a tamale. Texture in food is a big thing for me, so they are, Far and Large, my least favorite Latin ingredient. I’ve been craving a good tortilla soup lately, so I decided to deconstruct (a nice word for chopping them to hell) and used them as Masa flour for my Chicken Masa Soup.  – If you don’t happen to have your own package of redi-made sopes in your fridge… you can use cornmeal…or regular Masa. Chicken Masa Soup Serves 4 Ingredients 4 Chicken Thighs – (Bone In / Skin On) 2 Cups Tomato Juice 2 Cups Chicken Stock 1 Medium Onion – Minced 2 Poblano Peppers – Diced 1 Red Bell Pepper – Julienne 1 Clove Garlic – Chopped 1 Bay Leaf 1 Tablespoon Oregano 2 Teaspoons Ground Cumin 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper 2 …

One From Column B …

Recently Sung, a good friend of mine from Taiwan, asked why I don’t write about good Chinese recipes. A fair enough question… The truth? I don’t know any. I mean, I make a killer Fragrant Crispy Duck and a passable Peking Duck – but that’s pretty much the extent of my repertoire. Anything else I try just ends up being a generic stir fry… and you don’t need me to tell you how to do that. And… since I’m being perfectly honest,  if I want Mu Shu Pork or Mongolian Beef – I’m going to go someplace that knows how to make it right, and not waste the fifteen bucks in groceries to make an inedible copy. I’m all for Cooking the World, but sometimes you just have to admit someone does  something better than you… and besides, I love those little white boxes. But Sung’s question stuck with me, and while I’ve been recuperating from last week’s wedding I thought I’d relax by putting my spin on a Take Out Classic…. Chicken with Snow Peas – and see …

Mr. Tamale?

Never really satisfied with drip coffee makers, whenever a new model, or different design came out – I bought it. Over the years I’ve bought a lot of coffee makers. I mean… currently, there are 9 sitting on the work table out in the garage, and – that’s only counting the ones that are still working. With each pot came a lifetime supply of coffee filters which I dutifully wedged into the gadget drawer with the cacophony of measuring spoons, extra lids and filters… stacks of filters. I have since switched to the coffee pot of my youth – a vacuum pot – and will probably never return to the antiquated Mr. Coffee brew pot thingy on the counter-top. So now … I have all these filters. and as I’ve never been one to throw something away that might – sometime in the distant future – be useful, I’ve kept them… in the gadget drawer… … blocking out the light. I had a hankering to make some tamales the other day and went to dig …

Love and the Lard Bucket

There used to be an old home remedy where you would massage an infants head with sweet oil (olive oil) in order to encourage the hair to grow. It doesn’t work. There is nothing in olive oil to stimulate hair growth. In fact, all you are liable to accomplish is upsetting your infant – and greasing up their head like a huge Idaho potato. Be that as it may…. My aunt came into the world kicking and screaming (like all infants)…. and bald. The kicking and screaming eventually abated – but the baldness remained. And by the age of 2, the hair still had not arrived. Clara and the other family members knitted and crocheted little sock hats for her little shiny head, but the follicles just weren’t cooperating. This distressed my mother greatly – the thought of her sister growing up – going through life bald as an egg – with a wardrobe full of knitted and crocheted caps to cover her shiny, pink dome. And when she was about six, she overheard a …

Breakfast in Brazil

I had the opportunity to travel quite a bit over the past 20 years – some of it for business – most of it for pleasure. I made my first trip to Brazil in 2000. The company I was associated with at the time had an opportunity to purchase a small island just off the coast near the old colonial city of Parati. My job was to evaluate the island for development. The island, unfortunately, proved unsuitable for anything more than a vacation rental. But… it did leave me with a ton of free time before I was scheduled to fly home. So I decided to head out and see Sao Paulo, about 4 hours away. Now… when I travel.. I like to get away from the Hyatts, Hiltons and any other global homogenized lodging. I.. stay.. cheap. If I can find a room for under $30.00 a night..I’m a happy camper. Forget about the electric showerheads that shock the crap out of you when you touch them, the questionable sheets, the far from sanitary …

The Sandwich Diaries ~ Das Good!

Oh, Dunderbak, Oh Dunderbak,  How could you be so mean? To ever  have invented the sausage meat machine? Now all the rats and pussy cats will never more be seen, they’ve all been ground to sausages in Dunderbak’s machine. Back in the late 80’s I ran Mr. Dunderbak’s,  a German Delicatessen in Marietta. I adored the place. It was cheesy, kitschy, and everything you’d expect in a “Disney-gone-wrong” kind of theme restaurant. But, for everything that was wrong with the atmosphere – we had excellent food… an extensive deli.. and at that time…items you just couldn’t get anywhere else. I carried authentic German meats and sausages, superior cheeses and a full line of imported beer. I still think about our Reuben Sandwich sizzling on the griddle and a slow cooked pot of German Potato Salad…and drool. I thought today I’d just treat us all to a trip to Germany – ish  … So crank up the polka music, donne your Lederhosen, and dust off that tacky beer stein you bought in Helen. Es ist Zeit …