Here’s Gavagirl’s simple sugarsnap pea recipe
Wash the sugarsnap peas. Serve. Eat raw, pods and all.
Here’s Gavagirl’s simple sugarsnap pea recipe
Wash the sugarsnap peas. Serve. Eat raw, pods and all.
Since I’m in the mood to update the website, I thought I’d post one of my stand-bys. This is a pretty simple dish that should take about 20 to 30 minutes to complete.
dill, chopped fine
oregano, chopped fine
basil, chopped fine
cilantro, chopped fine
pre-cooked frozen shrimp
package of minute rice
Prepare the minute rice as per the direction on the package.
In a pan, heat up the olive oil and the butter until the butter melts, add the garlic and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the, dill, the oregano, the basil and the cilantro and saute for a minute or so. Add the shrimp and heat thoroughly. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour entire concoction (including butter/oil) over cooked rice and enjoy.
So, this one time, on-line, Gavagirl says out of the blue, “I think I’d like to make a brie sauce.” Just like that. And I’m thinking, “That’s just crazy enough to work!”
So we put our differences aside and joined forces and made:
A pesto brie sauce
Pan seared scallops wrapped in prociutto served with the brie sauce on a bed of cous cous served with a caprese salad.
Squash, zucchini, broccoli and carrots stir-fried in olive oil with tarragon and fennel
For dessert, tart berries and Mexican vanilla ice cream
Here’s how they were prepared:
Amy’s Mexican Vanilla Ice Cream
For the pesto, mix spinach, pressed garlic, ground walnuts, olive oil, basil, salt and pepper into a food processor and finely chop and set aside
For the brie sauce, warm some butter in a sauce pan, add in equal volume of flour, add in heavy whipping cream once you have a nice roux going then mix in the brie.
Once the brie is all melted, add in the pesto.
The scallops are self explanitory. Use a very hot heavy pan with butter and sear the sea scallops on each side, maybe a minute or two per side. Be careful not to over cook the scallops or they get really chewy. Once pan seared, pat the excess butter off with a paper towel and take a strip of prociutto and wrap the scallop. Place the wrapped scallop over a bed of cooked cous cous.
The vegetables are just as straight forward. Stir-fry some yellow squash, zucchini, broccoli and carrots in a pan with olive oil, spicing it up with tarragon and fennel.
The caprese salad is basically a slice of tomato, a slice of fresh mozzarella and a basil leaf on top. Drizzle some balsamic vinegar on top and you’re done.
TANGENT: As a variation to the caprese salad, you can take a decent quality Balsamic vinegar and reduce the heck out of it in a pan on medium heat until it becomes a sludge. Dip a slice of fresh mozzarella into the sludge and place it on fresh slices of strawberry and kiwi. Then drizzle some fresh balsamic on top. I like to accent it with fresh chives as garnish as well.
For desert, get some fresh, tart berries like blue berries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries. Spoon them between layers of Amy’s Mexican Vanilla ice cream. Serve with an almond biscotti to balance the tart and sweet. On a whim I decided to put a slice of brie in there as well. Don’t. It’s bloody awful.
So, when I think bacon, I immediately think mustard. Well, no I don’t. But this chip makes a strong argument that I should.
The taste of bacon is distinct, but the mustard creeps up on you with a delightfuly pungent pow. Almost like wasabi. This chip gets an enthusiastic foodie.
So, in Taiwan, you can purchase potato chips flavored like corn. Not just any corn, but corn on the cob corn. Fresh corn on the cob. With butter. No kiddin!
Now this is the damnedest thing. Ever since tasting this, nothing has made sense. I thought I understood the world, but the moment I put this chip into my mouth is the exact moment that I started to go nuts. Honestly, your brain tells you “You’ve got a potato chip in your mouth” and your mouth is like “Naw, dude. You’re eating flat crunchy corn on the cob. With butter.” And your brain is all like “Shit, mouth, you’re trippin’” and your mouth is all “Just ’cause you’re the brain doesn’t mean you’re smarter than I” and your brain is like “It’s smarter than ME, Einstein. You need the objective case there, not the nomanitive case” and your mouth is like “GOD You can be such a dick sometimes” and your brain is all “Don’t be hatin’” and your mouth is like “OK, wise guy, I’m eatin’ Oreos and ketchup just for that” and your stomach’s all “HEY why is that when you guys fight I’m the one that suffers?”
Yeah, before I go totally nuts, I give this snack a huge foodie rating because I swear it’s the damnedest thing. Seriously.
Back in the 80s there was a comedian by the name of Rich Hall. You may know him as the guy with all the sniglets books. Well one of his stand-up schticks was how America leads the world in snacks. I still believe that we are the technological leader in snacks, but if we’re not careful, there are other nations poised to take the snacking crown away from us. The following is the first in a serious on the wealth of flavored chips one can find in Taiwan.
First up, Lay’s “American Filet Mignon”
These are the chips that kicked off the obsession with trying all the other flavored chips. Though there is a distinct “meaty” flavor about this chip, I wouldn’t describe it as “filet” nor “mignon” or “american” for that matter. It’s not an unpleasant taste, in fact it is pretty good. But in the interest of accuracy, I would challenge Lay’s to rename this “Generic Meat-Like-Flavored Potato Chips That Don’t Taste As Bad As The Name Suggests” Your marketing department can thank me later. All in all, I would give this flavor of chip a foodie because it didn’t make me retch.
Nothing like a complaint to get something done. For a while now, spammers and assholes have been doing things to my poor website that was unbecoming of a gentleman. Basically, they were using a hole in the content managment software I was using to post naughty things and links to their crappy websites. This has a side effect of raising their rankings in various search engines (search engines factor in the number sites that link to a site as part of their ranking).
In any case, I moved to a different content management platform, which is also open source, called WordPress. I moved my entire site’s content to WordPress in less than 30 mins on my lunch break. It was a rush job so every post is under my name and I didn’t move any of the comments over. I did make note of the original comtributor when necessary. And if you had an account on the old site, well it’s gone. You’ll need a new one.
I’ve been meaning to do this for a while but I figured no one really reads this stuff, but a disgruntled user wrote me a letter today telling me how offended they were and I do not blame them. Thanks culturerat for the swift kick in the butt that I needed.
Anyway, I’ve been cooking at home lately and have come up with excellent recipes that I will post here soon. Thanks for your patience. Now go out there and eat! Make this cheap bastard proud!
For appetizers we had seared tuna. I like seared tuna, but I didn’t care for these. They tasted fine enough, if chewed and swallowed quickly. Others at the table disagreed with me. They thought it was fantastic. Unfortunately, they weren’t burdened with my sophisticated palate forged by a strict diet of chee-tos and diet coke.
Fleming’s serves healthy portions for their sides. Healthy enough to encourage liberal sharing of said sides. So I had a taste of the spinach salad and mashed potatoes and the chipotle mac ‘n cheese. The spinach salad was pretty good, the mashed potatoes were good. The mac ‘n cheese…holy crap! It’s like the mac ‘n cheese you grew up with suddenly grew breasts and stared wearing make-up. Before, you’re like “I’ll give you a call if I got nothing going on. I’m supposed to have a chicken taquito later, but it that doesn’t work out, we’ll hook up.” Now it’s like “hey, mac ‘n cheese. How you doin’?”
For my entree, I had the prime ribeye. I ordered it medium-rare, expecting it to come out medium as is typically the case for chain steak houses. To my surprise, it came out exactly as I ordered it. Pink and cool in the center. They didn’t try to be too fancy with it. I would guess they used a little salt and pepper and just slapped it on a hot grill. Very good. Nothing extraordinary.
A couple of the foodies opted for dessert. They had the chocolate volcano. It’s a chocolate baked pastry with some chocolate goo on the inside served with vanilla ice cream. You pierce the top with your spoon and all this chocolate “lava” oozes out. I don’t do well with sweets but I had a bite and it wasn’t overly sweet as typical of desserts.
The service was exceptional. Much like Jeffrey’s they were attentive without being intrusive. A fellow foodie ordered the NY strip steak and they mistakenly served him the prime ribeye. He was more than willing to let it pass, but at the end, they sent him home with a NY strip steak. Nice to see they pay attention to customer service. It’s because of this and the rockin’ mac ‘n cheese and the decent steak that I would give Fleming’s a foodie.
A couple of months back in the middle of Blue Bonnet blooming season, a fellow foodie invited me out to Mason, Texas. You may have heard of Mason before. Not only is it host to one of the best barbecue joints in Texas, it is also the birth place of a shadowy underground organization of bricklayers who control everything from the government to…um…you. You may not be aware of it, but the Masons made you read this review.
But most importanly, Mason is home to Santos Taqueria. The name Santos Taqueria is Spanish for “The Best Freakin’ Food You’ll Stuff In Your Piehole, Ever!” The place itself is very homey and friendly, much like the people who own it. Everything is made from scratch and the taste certainly makes that evident.
I ordered the Combo Plate with the gordita and the crispy taco. It was served with rice and refried beans. The rice and beans were tasty enough. The crispy taco was very tasty, but to be fair, it’s a freakin’ crispy taco. I mean seriously. Anyone could make a passible crispy taco. Case in point - I think Taco Bell is the closest thing you can get to food using without actually using anything food-like and yet they manage a fairly decent crispy taco.
For those who are only familiar with the previously mentioned Taco Bell’s abomination of the gordita, lemme tell you something. You’re being taken for a chump. The true gordita is a corn tortilla, expertly sliced in half, part way, so that the tortilla forms a pocket. Don’t ask me how they do this. I think it has something to do with scientifically calibrated lasers. Or gnomes. I don’t fucking know. Anyway, they fill up this pocket of heavenly corn goodness with heavenly meaty goodness. Lord knows I love my meaty goodness. My particular choice was the fajita gordita. Basically beef sliced into strips and seasoned and fried along with peppers and onions.
How was it? Well let me tell you. So I sink my teeth into the gordita and holy shit I just creamed my pants. Sticky semen all over the place. Orgasm galore. Really. I jizzed all over the place. My shorts were spooge-soaked. Spunk city in my pants. Population, me.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that the gordita was good. Very good. I’d eat it again. I’d have to first change my pants.
Santos gets a major foodie from me. And the cleaning bill for my pants. They’re still stiff and smell like chlorox and cabbages.
Originally submitted by CriticallyInsane
On an uncomfortably warm evening in late October, my wife and I joined the Foodies for what we expected would be quite the treat at Aquarelle, a cute little French restaurant in central Austin.
Lemme ‘splain something first: Mrs. Insane and I are weird. We venture into most restaurants looking to be conquered, expected to be blown away by a knowledgeable wait staff fronting for a brilliant chef assisted by a crack kitchen staff. Each bite should be a solid shot in the battle for our culinary soul, whether it rocks us back on our heels with its boldness of flavors or veers us off into deep discussion of the subtle contrast of textures or just makes us want to jump up and slap our mamas (not a good idea, by the way). It’s a high bar to set for most restaurants, but it had been suggested to us that Aquarelle could be a worthy adversary.
The restaurant itself is in a not-too-small house, with a 1940s charm (though the county says it was built in ‘64), with a warm, clean interior that made me think that the two hundred bucks I was about to drop might be worth it. We snooped around a bit while waiting for the slower Foodies to arrive and came across a small but cozy bar area which was being used as a prep area of sorts. This is a shame, but it’s probably not Aquarelle’s fault.
Lemme ‘splain something else: This out-of-the-way gem of a bar is the kind of place in which Mrs. Insane and I used to like to hole up for four or five hours and marvel at how much enjoyment we could derive from two bottles of wine, two appetizers, two entrees, a pack of smokes, and the occasional dessert. Unfortunately our preferred habitat has all but disappeared in this town thanks to the hoards of hippie-like dorks who value their lungs over our dining experience. I think I’m digressing, but let me leave with you with my explicit lament that we can no longer fold nicotine into our courses unless we go outside or stay home. This empty bar made me sad. I need a smoke.
Once the full crew showed up we were escorted through the traffic of polite wait staff to the table. Small houses have small hallways, and this crew seems to have mastered squeezing around slowpoke patrons like myself. I was impressed enough.
Most of the Foodies (including myself, excluding Mrs. Insane) decided to go with the Menu Gourmand with wine pairings, a fixed-price menu of reasonable-sized portions. Generally I expect Pre-Fix menus to be a showcase of the chef’s imagination and the kitchen staff’s talent. Maybe it was an off night. On to the food…
In addition to the obligatory rolls and butter (which were tasty enough but nothing special), we were presented with a spoonful (you know, the fancily-shaped football-looking spoonful) of celery root mousse bisected by a crostini and surrounded by a drizzle of olive oil. Once we all got over the idea of a “celery root mouse” we dug in and I believe we were all pretty impressed. The mousse was delicate and balanced, though the crostini was more like a flat greasy crouton.
I like pleasant surprises. Not a bad shot across the palette. It’s on now.
Warm Puff Pastry Goat Cheese Torte,
Oven Braised Pear Tomatoes, Frissee Salad,
Thyme Infused Olive Oil
Paired with a too-sweet Riesling (though to be fair, most whites are too sweet for me), this course started off woefully nondescript. But I tend to wade in to new dishes very carefully, sampling the individual elements first before building up to the perfect bite as I calculate the chef intended. The pastry was standard puff pastry. The tomatoes got my attention, being tart and flavorful, but not so overwhelming as marinated sun-dried tomatoes. The frissee had the proper slightly chewy crispness and hint of spiciness. I gave Mrs. Insane a bite and she was about as unimpressed as I was. I then found the goat cheese hiding in the middle of the pastry petals I had been sampling. Combining all the elements into one bite created a nice bright mouthful. Even the too-sweet Riesling played well with the tart saltiness, forcing me to admit that maybe the sweeter wines do have their place in the world.
I found myself wishing for more when I scraped up the last bits of pastry crumbs with the frissee and tomato, so though while not a crushing wave of attack, I had to concede this round to Aquarelle.
First Salvo (Mrs. Insane)
Prince Edward Island Mussels Bouillabaisse
Canadian Black Mussels Served in a Crock with
White Wine, Tomato, Saffron, Fennel, Onion,
Garlic, and Parsley
Mrs. Insane loves mussels. Mrs. Insane loved these mussels. For that matter, I’m not sure Mrs. Insane ever met a mussel that she didn’t like. I should ask her about that.
I thought they were a bit too delicately seasoned (read: bland), but the accompanying broth was pretty awesome when mopped up with the dinner rolls.
Roasted Atlantic Salmon Fillet,
Creamy French Green Lentils, Hot Apple-wood
Smoked Bacon Gastrique
This was a tasty dish, and received much praise from the other Gourmand Foodies. However, Mrs. Insane and I both thought this dish belonged on the menu of a fine Japanese establishment due to the extremely overbearing Teriyaki-style syrup covering most everything. They kindly provided a very dry sparkling white wine to wash down the sugar (which is the only reason I’d pair this wine with this dish at all). The “creamy French green lentils” were not creamy (actually they were kind of stiff) and would have seemed horribly out of place without the bacon.
I will admit that I was somewhat appreciative of the flavor combination and may experiment with it at home, but the medium-well lentils and the in-your-face Asian sauce really turned me off. (After all, I didn’t come here looking for fusion cuisine.) Aquarelle may have inflicted come collateral damage (none of the other Foodies seemed to care about being served what amounted to Teriyaki Salmon at an expensive French restaurant), but I was ready to ask the chef to explain himself. In the culinary battle, Aquarelle lost some ground with this course.
Pan-Seared Beef Tenderloin,
Portabello and Button Mushrooms, Forme d’Ambert Blue Cheese,
Shallot-Port Wine Reduction, Walnut Persillade
This was my fault. I ordered a showcase menu with a steak at its center. It was a damn fine cut of succulent (seriously!) tenderloin, but I peeled the slab of blue cheese off the top (a piece of meat this nice needs no cheese) and quickly realized that I’d had this dish at numerous fine steakhouses and Italian restaurants. Aside from some pretty shitty baby potatoes and an either unmemorable or absent persillade, the reduction was pleasant and the mushrooms perfect. But they once again forgot the French. Or does a slab of French cheese make a steak “French”? Were I in France and came across “Tenderlion Américain: tenderloin smothered in Velveeta” I’d be pretty put off. Then again, many Americans would probably go for that. F**k ‘em.
It was a great steak, but it’s a sucker punch. I’m calling this round a draw.
Third Salvo (Mrs. Insane)
Pan Roasted Pork Tenderloin
Crispy Polenta, Sage Duxelle, Roasted Tomatoes, Bell Pepper Veal Stock Reduction
This was an appalling excuse for a dish. I felt so bad for Mrs. Insane that I offered her as much of my lovely steak as she would eat. She was pretty full from the mussels and thus didn’t feel so bad leaving more than half the food on her plate. The polenta was gummy on the outside and dry on the inside. Try all you want, you can’t make polenta that bad. The duxelle more resembled pan scrapings and the sauce lacked body (again I say: French?). Then there’s the pork. I understand that some restaurants are so afraid of trichinosis that they habitually slightly overcook all pork dishes, but that’s no excuse for this dish. This pork was abused. If I didn’t know better I’d say that this dish had been under a heat lamp for most of the day. Another Foodie had the same entrée and it was about as bad.
I usually express such dissatisfaction to the staff after paying the tab (I believe the criticism is taken more seriously when they know you’re not just looking for a free meal). I didn’t even bother here. That they even let this out of the kitchen pissed me off.
“Profiteroles au Chocolat”
Pastry Puffs Filled with Vanilla Ice Cream, Topped with Hot Chocolate Sauce and Chopped Walnuts
“Profiteroles” is French for “uninspired”. The pastries themselves where pretty overdone (Mrs. Insane is experienced with pate choux-based pastries, and her experimental batches are better than these were). We all agreed that the ice cream reminded us of the dairy-like substance you get at Dairy Queen. The sauce was powerful and far too heavily applied.
I may have forgiven (but been equally critical of) this dessert had it been a ‘gift from the chef’, but this is the finale of the showcase menu? It’s almost like Aquarelle was already in retreat, or they were so proud of the tenderloin that they thought they could stop trying. Some follow-through, fellas.
I have no problem paying good money for a good meal. Mrs. Insane and I plan on spending about $100 a piece at a fine restaurant the first time we go so we can sample a bit of everything, and our experiences at most restaurants of that price range have been worth every penny. Our first experience at Aquarelle left me with the impression that there were amateurs at the helm and that there is a lack of attention to detail in the kitchen. I’ve been guilty of the occasional blown course myself, but I don’t charge people $80 to eat at my table.
There are definite foodie elements at Aquarelle, and from other reviews I wonder if we had the misfortune of visiting on an ‘off’ night. As much as it pains me to say so, we paid $200 for a doodie experience. But we’re insane and may just be crazy enough to give Aquarelle another chance in a few months.