October 29, 2011

Literally... Dinner & A Movie

Among many of the words or phrases that go hand in hand-
dinner & a movie is one of them.  
You know when you're planning to catch a flick and your food at the restaurant is taking
FOR-EVERR to come out and you keep looking at the time  to make sure you will
make the movie at least by the time the previews are running.
WELL...  if you don't know about it yet...  you can actually do dinner and a movie.
All at the same place.   You can do it at the MOVIE TAVERN
There are about 15 theaters so far but the closest one to me was the one in Collegeville.
140 Market Street  Collegeville, PA- in the Providence Town Shopping Center.

So you walk in, purchase your tickets and you can order a drink while you wait...
or you can  eat at a table.  We wanted the full experience so we decided to get
a drink and get in line. The movie Real Steal was to start at 9:30pm so at 9:00
they started to seat us.  You walk into a small and intimate theater and there
are really big and comfy seats with swinging table tops.

A server comes to you and takes your food and drink order from a pretty simple
but decent menu. American food mixed with a little flair.
We ordered fried pickles and the Game Day Platter.

The food overall was pretty good. The buffalo wings were quite tasty and the fries were good 
(could of used a little more bacon though) and the Mini Me burgers come from 1 regular
sized burger cut into 4 pieces...all were ok.  
The best of the night was the hot (temperature) deep fried pickles with chilled
ranch dressing. The overall experience was great.  The theater wasn't too busy
but being able to eat before and during the movie was pretty sweet.
You might think it would be distracting because the server comes in here and there but
after the first 5 minutes or so... it's no big deal! (there is also a button
that you can press that allows the servers you need them for something)
I would recommend The Movie Tavern!  I would also recommend watching Real Steel.

October 26, 2011

Chipotle Lime Guacamole Tacos

So, as I was saying the other week, I like to try to re-create food I've had in restaurants.
It's almost like a weird challenge.  So after seeing a Louie C.K. show a few weeks ago,
we hit up Chelsea Tavern in Wilmington, DE.  It was basically a midnight snack
of Pork Belly Tacos.  Here is a picture of the tacos from Chelsea Tavern.

Granted the picture is not the clearest picture and it was kind of late for a school night....
these pork belly tacos from Chelsea Tavern were really flavorful and yummy.
(It's amazing what the difference in a photo can be with and without turning the flash on!)
Below is my cultivated replica of pork  tacos I made inspired by these late night tacos!

I started with cutting my pork belly into smaller cube-like pieces. (Pork belly is a thick cut
of the famous.... BACON) I added a little spoonful of grated garlic, chipotle powder and cumin.
Cumin is the really odor-heavy spice but, makes food very earthy and gives good flavor.
I also added a heavy drizzle of Kraft BBQ sauce. I tend to spread out my spice or seasonings
next to each other so I can remind myself of what was already added.

To get the guacamole ready, I chopped a handful of cilantro, split an avocado in half and
diced a quarter of a medium sized red onion. I also added some chipotle powder and squeezed
the juice of half a lime.  (Guacamole is an avocado based dip that originated in Mexico.)

I took a spoon and smushed the avocado while squeezing the lime.
I decided to zest some lime to garnish my finished chipotle lime guacamole.

The pork belly sat in the bowl as I browned up a little bit of diced onion to give extra flavor
to the pork. I sizzled the pork in a pan turned on high to get a slight char on the meat.

I used a mandoline to slice some radishes. I added a splash of vinegar on the radishes
to make them less spicy. I guess at this point, I just wanted to take all the hand held
kitchen tools out. I took the scallion shredder out and shredded some scallions.

Oh, I started the night with roasting some garlic in the micro-oven on 350 for about
20 minutes with a drizzle of olive oil and sea-salt.  Everything turned out quite flavorful
and tasty, the only thing I will change next time is to cut the pork belly into even smaller pieces.

And that was Wednesday night.

October 23, 2011

Braised Short Ribs aka Kalbi Jjim

Making Kalbi Jjim which is also known as Korean Braised Short Ribs
was inspired by eating some that the famous Julia Lee made.

I bought short ribs from Trader Joe's that I first, put into a big bowl and filled it with water.

After letting them soak for about a half hour, I rinsed the water , cut little strips in the ribs
and boiled the short ribs in a pot for about an hour.  (I made cuts so the ribs would get
more tender as a large piece with cuts rather than one larger chunk.

As the beef boils, there will be lots of foamy stuff that you want to scoop out and toss out.
(You can save the rest of the liquid to use as a beef stock if you'd like)

As far as the sauce,  I started by grating an apple for the sweetener and the apple actually
tenderizes the meat as well...double duty- sweet!  I added about 1 cup of soy sauce, 
slightly less than  a cup of water (to lessen the saltiness of the soy sauce), 
about a 1/4 cup sesame oil, 
3 TBS of Splenda, 
1 large Yam cut up,
2 carrots cut into bite size pieces or baby carrots,
1 large onion cut into large chunks,
1/4 teas of black pepper
and lastly, 4-5 garlic (I grated them but you can add them whole as well)

These are the ribs after about 15 minutes or so....

After the first hour, you can see how the grated apples have caramelized.
This might be a good time to cook a pot of rice to eat with your Kalbi!

At about hour 2 is when I added the veggies. By putting a lid on the pot allows the veggies to get
tender and you'll notice there is a slight steamy effect going on in the pot.
After about 3-3.5 total hours, your Kalbi will be tender and full of juices and flavor.
If you really want it to practically fall off the rib bone- you can cook it for another hour.

October Crack

October CRACK-ed corn is inspired by "The Wannabe Chef"
It's an Autumn snack that can be fairly healthy.... mostly.

I was quite excited to carve a pumpkin this year to make roasted pumpkin seeds.
I carved a face on my pumpkin, washed the seeds, dried them out  and
roasted the pumpkin seeds and during the last 2 minutes in the oven  as I was
spreading out and turning some of the seeds over...
my pan turned over and spilled all over the oven door and floor. ARGHHHHHHHHHH.

So, after getting another pumpkin I decided to forget the face carving and just cut
the pumpkin in half to get the seeds out.

After washing the seeds, I dried the seeds out, and once they were dry
(best if next day)
I just added some sea salt and olive oil.
After about 15-17 minutes- my pumpkins seeds were roasted and
I CAREFULLY pulled the tray out from the oven.

I then made a cup of pop corn and then added some garlic salt to the popcorn
and some craisins and candy corn to be a little festive. (the not so healthy part)

The combination of the salty pumpkin seeds and garlicky pop corn with the sugary candy corn
and tart craisins make you want more and more as you sit and watch your favorite t.v. shows
after a long day whether at the office or with kids.

October 20, 2011

Garlic Sea Salt Knots

I love to go to a restaurant and then try to duplicate it at home.
I usually give myself up to 3 tries to perfect it.  With time and practice
just like any thing else.... I seem to not need the 3 tries anymore.... at least lately.

I've always enjoyed the garlic knots especially in Italian restaurants.
So I decided to make my version of garlic knots with sea salt at home.

I took some Pillsbury Pizza Dough and rolled it out on a cutting board.

It made sense to cut the strips of pizza dough with a pizza cutter.
Also double duty. I then tied them in a knot and folded the ends underneath.
I did say  garlic sea salt.... heavy on the salt please.
I grated 2 cloves of garlic and sprinkled the salt on.

I brushed some egg on it with a silicon brush  and laid the garlic knots
on parchment paper to prevent the bottom of the rolls from getting too brown.
Bake in the pre-heated oven on 350 for about 10-12 minutes.

And ta-da! Garlic salt knots at home.

Sapporo Ichiban & Jin Ramyon

These 2 brands and flavors were my favorite ramen noodles. I've definitely
had my share of these, and yes, the  mild flavored.  A cousin of mine used
to make fun of me back in the day because I would be the only Korean ordering
fried rice as my main entree from a Chinese restaurant.
These days, I wouldn't pay for let alone order fried rice as my main and only entree.

Almost every Asian child knows how to cook Ramen noodles, not that it's so difficult
but, you've got to put an egg in it and everyone has their little garnishes they like to add
whether it's hot dog slices for some, fish cakes, scallions, kimchi of course (if you're Korean)
among other things that people add or some- just eat it plain....... and dry!  Dry? Huh?.....
It's a crazy world out there!

Now, a teeny, little bit of history.... it's still up for debate whether Ramen (Japanese word)
came from Lamien (Chinese hand pulled noodles) or not and it's a question of when.
Cheaper flour was imported from the USA to Japan after World War 2 and that's when ramen
noodles , all kinds of noodles started to emerge.
Momofuku Ando, a Taiwanese-Japanese chairman of Nissin Foods (not Nissan the car)
invented instant noodles around 1958. He invented the idea of making noodles dry so that
they can be cooked in boiling water at a later point.  In the early 1980s is when ramen noodles
really became almost like a cultural icon in the US and around the world.

I will end my post with that... I hesitated to talk about the negatives and the lab experiments
etc with Ramen noodles but... this is a food blog..... let's end with....  moderation is a good practice!

October 16, 2011

Pumpkins Like You've Never Seen!

Now, if you enjoy arts and crafts like the way I do....
you will LOVE these snacks!
Everyone has had the simple cheese and crackers so
let's cultivate the cheese and crackers.

I took a block of Cracker Barrel Cheddar Cheese.

And trimmed the block into 1/4 inch slices. I then took the 1/4 inch slices and 
cut those into  4 pieces. I smushed each square with the palm of my hand to 
make it easier for  molding. 

The cheddar pumpkins can be rolled into balls with your hands and then 
you can take a toothpick and just press in to make an indentation around 
the ball to make it look like the lines in pumpkins. 

My ingredients were little pretzel sticks broken in half (for the pumpkin stem), 
cilantro leaves for the pumpkin leaves (you can use parsley as well)
and liquid cheese as a gluing agent for the pumpkin seeds on the 
everything flavored pretzel chips. 

It just seemed right to lay the cheddar pumpkins on pumpkin seeds. 
Ya know what I mean?

Matzo Ball Soup

Have you ever gone to a Jewish Deli and ordered Matzo Ball soup?
Just like anything in life- especially when it comes to food-
once you know how or what it is, making it can become a lot simpler.
You start off with a "mirepoix"  aka Holy Trinity
in French cooking of celery, carrots and onions.

I like to use chicken broth as my soup base. As far as the Matzo balls, you can simply
purchase a box of Matzo Ball Mix.

The directions on the back of the box is quite simple-  but it's basically adding eggs and oil.
After you mix the mix around with a fork- it is important to put it in the refrigerator for at least

10-15 minutes. (by doing this- it starts to slightly harden the matzo balls
which makes for easier molding). As the mix is chilling in the refrigerator-
you can be boiling your broth of mirepoix.
I like to Asian Fusion it up and add a few drops of Soy Sauce instead of adding salt.
(noodles are optional but I like to add some noodles-
I usually boil the noodles separately or first in the pot before the mirepoix.
(celery, carrot & onions) Once the matzo ball mix is ready-
you can mold them like the way you would meatballs.
Toss them gently into the already boiling pot.
1 packet of mix usually gives me about 5 matzo balls.
The key and tip with cooking the matzo balls all the way through
is to put a lid on your pot and let them cook in the hot steaming broth  for 12-15 minutes!
(no more than 20 minutes) Matzo Ball soup has become a comfort soup for me.
Yum.Matzo Ball Soup