Trout And Tomato Sandwich

I’m bad about eating lunch. Sometimes I just forget to or skip it, but this is a great one – tinned trout in oil, plus some super-sweet cherry tomatoes from my CSA and a generous amount of salt.
And it’s a sandwich. Guess I’ve still got that whole thing still going on. Still – light, flavorful, and consumed with a couple more handfuls of those tomatoes – quite a satisfying lunch.

Albany John, Slick, Benny and I took a day trip to Amherst, MA yesterday for revelry and merriment at Mama and Papa Amherst’s. Best In-Laws EVER. Trust. I took a brief stop at The Goode Trader’s (Trader Joe’s) and picked up this tin of trout fillets ($0.99) in my haul. They taste really fresh – not fishy or heavy (even though they’re in oil). More Trader Joe’s goodness to come, I’m sure.

Latin Fest & Sandwiches

I’m not normally a sandwich person. For me, sandwiches were the de rigueur packed lunch as a kid, and usually either:
Peanut Butter & Jelly
Peanut Butter & Butter
Peanut Butter & Fluff
Turkey (occasionally buttered)
Cream Cheese & Jelly

So it’s taken me a while to get all excited over sandwiches. I like seeing cool combinations when I go in a deli or something, but for the most part I usually think “Eh, it’d be cheaper to make at home” and not worth buying. Sometimes I’ll treat myself and get one just because that previous theory generally means that no sandwich will be had at all since it’s hard for me to buy exactly the right amount of ingredients for one sandwich. So I guess basically what I’m getting at is that I’ll buy a sandwich when the yen really hits, but not very frequently. And at home? Hah, I never really make them.
(It looks like the last time I bought a sandwich was in March. And even then I remember eating the pork out of the bread like it was a boat, not like a sandwich)

I did go on a panini kick a few years ago, and man was that ever expensive.


After hanging out with my brother though – good gosh, he eats a lotta sandwiches. And so does Margarita. And Benny. I am not easily influenced but after months of viewing tons of sandwichery I have switched from “Eh, sandwich” to “Hmm, sandwich?” I quizzed him on it, since before we were both pretty ambivalent and he’d said that he initially would refuse to eat them when he and Margarita would have sandwiches for meals, but eventually he got into them once he found out how diverse and tasty they could be. He enjoys Quiznos, and I really think I need to get that boy a sandwich from Via Fresca. (And how have I not shown you all pictures of their paninis or sandwiches? I might not get them often, but damn do they always stand out as my first rec when someone asks where to get a great sandwich)

This all culminated over the weekend with me planning on bringing sandwiches to Latin Fest to enjoy and save money in the process. I went to Roma Importing and got sliced pork, genoa salami, munster, and provolone. It was around $11. I wasn’t really sure how they priced things since the munster and provolone were the same price, but I noticed I got charged 25 cents more for one (when I got the same amount and thought they were the same price, but maybe not?). I’m still not really sure, but they slice their deli meat and cheese really thinly and they are so tasty.

Those meats and cheeses got turned into various sandwiches. Here is my favorite of the bunch – salami & provolone sandwich with some greens and olive oil-red wine vinegar. Yummy and simple. The bread is from Bella Napoli and is a 12 inch kind. It was thin, which I liked and really went well with the sandwich. We also got some hard sub rolls that really tasted yummy.

Albany John preferred a pork loin + munster + mustard + horseradish + greens sandwich, and our buddy Slick got a one-of-everything sandwich with all of the deli meats and cheese, plus some mustard and greens. He’s a bit of a carnivore.

The sandwiches were a total necessity at fending off hunger pangs at Latin Fest. Unfortch it was rainy so it was held under the I-90 underpass and not Washington Park. Not the most beautiful of locales, but at least it was dry. The pop band singing was SO energetic. Like, crazy energetic where Margarita and I were like “Jeezus, they’ve been at it for an hour now! We would have collapsed!”

However, it was a good/bad thing we didn’t have much/any cash on us because EVERYTHING LOOKED SO FREAKING GOOD. So we didn’t spend money, but we also didn’t get tasty Latin foods. This booth and a Peruvian food both really called out to me as in “GO GET YOUR ASS BACK IN YOUR CAR, GO TO AN ATM, COME BACK, AND BUY ME. I POSESS DELICIOUS THINGS.”

We left to go back to my bro’s to get him and Benny to bring back to Latin Fest after Albany John, Slick, Margarita and I had checked it out, but we got a little lazy, ate more sandwiches, and then Albany John and Slick had us all watch Ice Pirates. Crazy movie, and Angelica Houston can really do no wrong.

Casablanca Moroccan Restaurant

Anyone been to the new Moroccan restaurant on Central Ave in Albany, NY yet? It’s called Casablanca Moroccan Restaurant and while I haven’t formally dined in yet, I can tell you the owners are really nice people.

Why?

Because they gave me a cookie!

I was snapping pictures like a fool of their menu and storefront since it looked new and cool, and this one man came out and said “Hi! Come on in, come on in – have a free cookie!”

I immediately walked into the open door for a cookie.

I mean, dude. Cookie. You don’t argue with free cookies, despite what you may or may not have learned growing up. Besides, it’s not like I was walking into a windowless unmarked van marked “Free Puppies”.

He gave Albany John and me a coconut cookie, and dear goodness it was buttery, coconut-y goodness.

It’s a small space, and it’s got pretty red charger plates at the tables. The picture above is the closest to the window.


And here are tables closer to the back. They didn’t mind my constant picture taking at all.

And here is a TRAY OF COOKIES. The coconut ones are in the tray second from the left. I think I have to try all of the other ones now.


And here you can see their menu. I also took a copy and could have scanned it in for you, but I lost it somehow over the weekend.


Hopefully you can click to enlarge these and see them. Or you are of Kryptonian descent and have excellent vision.
The Lamb Tagine is the most expensive thing on the menu at $12.75, so this looks like quite a nice new restaurant for those of us on a budget!

Address: 14 Central Ave, Albany, NY 12210
Phone: 518-463-1111

Hours: M-F 7 am – 9 PM, Sat 11 am – 9 PM, Closed Sunday

(Those of you not on a budget – I am free any night of the week. I’m waiting. [Oh, ew, I sound like one of those skeevy late night phone lines, only for dining.])

Everything In My Fridge

Do you like seeing what other people have in their refrigerators? I know I do.

Here is what I’ve got in my fridge. Well, most of it at least. I know I’ve forgotten some of the innards of the main refrigerator, but they are mostly condiments any way.

A lot of stuff we’ve had forever and will probably have forever. Like some of those salad dressings and condiments Albany John and I bought for our wedding last October… As long as stuff is still good, I don’t throw it out. I am a pack rat, and fine with it.

Maybe next time I’ll show you my cabinets, pantry, and spices.


Fridge Door
Sweet Hot Mister Mustard
Paprika
Chili Oil
Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
Black Bean and Garlic Sauce
Liquid Smoke
3 kinds of chipotle hot sauce
Kikkoman Soy Sauce

Hannaford Teriyaki Marinade
Italian Dressing
Cocktail Sauce
Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce
Non-pareil capers
Hoisin Sauce
Creamy dressing
Mustard
Boysenberry Jam
Whipped Topping
Banana Sauce
All Purpose Sauce
Blueberry Syrup
Sweet Chili Sauce
BBQ Sauce
Worcestershire Sauce
Hot Sauce

Lawry’s Teriyaki marinade
KC Masterpiece Caribbean marinade
Ortega Taco sauce
Garlic Chutney
Ortega Sauce
Cilantro Chutney x2
Salad Dressings
Sriracha
Louisiana Hot sauce
Oyster Sauce
Chicken Wing Hot Sauce

Main Fridge
Special Sauce
Orange Soda
Salami
Pitcher of water
Kimchi
Vlasic Pickles
Nacho Cheese/Chip Dip
Miso based soup
Moldy beets
Tahini
Bilinski’s Chicken Sausage
Chili sauce
Fresh Dill
Hannaford Ketchup
Small Sriracha
Honey Mustard
Chicken Stock
Liquid from soaking dried shrimp and scallops
Hellman’s Mayo
Almaden Golden Chablis (Box O Wine!)
Sauce from making Chicken Korma
Old failed attempt at making more yogurt from Liberte
2 cans Milwaukee’s Best
Tarma (fish roe)
Maple Syrup
Imitation Maple Syrup
Kraft Cheese in Baggies
Leftover zucchini and sausage
Bacon Fat
Chicken Fat
Butter
Scallions
Zucchini
Summer Squash
Snow Peas
Green Beans
1 tomato
Carrots
Pickled Carrots and Daikon
1/2 gallon Stewart’s 2% Milk

Freezer Door
Galangal
Whole Edamame
Oatmeal bread crumbs
Beef Patty
Spinach or Peas
Heel of Loaf of Bread

Main Freezer
2 bags of joong / zongzi
2 frozen 1 lb packages of beef
Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka
Potato Puff Crowns
Soft Pretzels
Wonton Wrappers
Breadcrumbs

Ice

Latin Fest

Hey Gorgeous Peepal,

It’s Latin Fest this Saturday in Washington Park, Albany, NY.

11 am – 6 pm, I plan on blanketing myself at some point in the park, perhaps partaking of tasty beverages with some amigos. Anyone else going? It would be cool to run into some of you folks too! (Coughall of you local peeps of awesomeness and suchCough)

Clambake @ Home

On Sunday Albany John whipped out his cutest puppy dog eyes and mentioned “clam bake” and slightly lamented the fact that we’ve never done one. Budget be damned this month (seriously, I just paid off everything that’s showed up for the month and… geeze. I really love food), I said “Go for it” and he came back with $40 of clams. The big ones and little ones (he also brought back some beer).

At first I was like “Wait, wuh?” but then he started looking at his feet going “Well, I didn’t know they were that much, and they put them in the bag, and…” oh my gosh, he is so freaking adorable. He was just overwhelmed with clams (that’swhatshesaid!).


Earlier in the day he had made some dilly potato salad (no mayo [mayo = ew]) that had been marinating in its own goodness. These were little potatoes from our CSA and whatever kitchen chicanery he used certainly turned them into dilly delicious little spuds. Extra points for all of that diced red onion.

av


It turns out that being overwhelmed with clams is not really a bad thing. Benny was also over and he’d never tried clams before. He speared one and said “Oh. Oh, these are good. Yeah, I like clams.” (or something like that)

And here you can see the culprits that started it all – the corms. These ears of corn reminded Albany John so much of clam bakes that he just had them on his mind all day. Who am I to say no? (I mean, besides the fact that I hate saying ‘no’…) The corn is also from my CSA and was nice and sweet.

Oh, we didn’t get any other of the normal clam bake accoutrements, but I tossed in some lop chong sausages as well. They were nice and tender.


I also made some broa from the book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. It is Portugese cornbread, basically bread with some cornmeal in it and woah baby was it ever good. It does a great job of sopping (either your liquids or gobs of butter. mmm, butter) and had a nice crunch throughout the body because of the cornmeal.

Does anyone know if you can just buy a big ol’ bag of clams somewhere? I think we need to do this again, except buying them from a fishmonger or in bulk or something would probably be cheaper.

Asian Supermarket Hot Bar

So the other day I was kind of side swept with a cold. I’ve been feeling a bit run down lately, but just chalked it up to not catching enough Zs. My immune system sucks, so the other day I felt crappy in general and in need of some comforting food. When I get a cold sushi is generally out of the question (since I can’t taste it), so I went for option number two – Chinese.

Hiya, hot bar!

Man, that hot bar at the new Asian Supermarket is awesome – $5.13 (looks like they fixed the slight error I mentioned in my previous post, where it was ringing up at $5.16) for the 3 items from the buffet + rice/noodle. I initially wanted congee, but they were out of it for the day.

I got some simple fried rice (I think just egg white, scallion, and onion) as my carb. The onion was still nice and crunchy but sweet. I know I’m sick when I opt for rice over noodles. It’s weird, but it’s one of those sick-foods I really crave when I’m feeling a little under the weather, and this fried rice was perfect. Lightly flavored. It was like regular rice, but just a little better. I might start tossing in some diced onion with my rice in the rice cooker to see how that comes out.

For the 3 dishes I got:
Baby bok choy with garlic (the top left greenery with white bits on it). Holy crap, this was excellent. Like, NYC restaurant excellent. The greens were nice and wilty, while the stalks were just softened but still had a crunch to them. The light broth they were in made them taste almost buttery. Yum. And not too greasy either. This was possibly my favorite dish since it tasted so refreshing and good.
In the center are mustard greens and 1 slice of roasted duck. The duck was moist but not fatty, and the piece I got was very flavorful. Initially I thought these were bitter melon, so I was all “Woo hoo, I bet this is great for my cold!”, but the more I looked at it, the more I thought it resembled the stalk of mustard greens, especially since it tasted very mild in bitterness for a bitter melon. Either way, the flavors were very complimentary (and the greens also went very well with the fried rice).
On the top right is pork spare ribs and fried tofu. Also very good. The tofu absorbed a lot of the sauce and the insides were full of liquidy goodness. The fried exterior helped it maintain shape. They were in a slightly sweet [but more] salty sauce.

And guess what? Albany John went to check them out later that day too. He also got the mustard and duck and wasn’t a fan of the bitterness. He’d also gotten some other green that was bitter, so he was bitter-overloaded that day. He said he wished he’d tried the bok choy since it looked good and I casually mentioned (read: totally rubbed in his face) that I’d gotten it and it was fucking awesome.
I think this hot buffet is really affordable and could easily feed a very hungry person for lunch, or two people who aren’t big eaters. Or two people who also get a bun or something (they’re right behind you. Get one, they look good). And it’s also such a treat since it’s not too greasy and well made.
The only hard part is not eating it all because it tastes so good.

Garlic Knots

BEST GARLIC KNOTS EVER!

I saw a tasty looking picture of garlic knots on Food Mayhem’s site (new site to me, and it is freakin’ awesome!) from Serious Eats’ Photograzing. I’ve now made them two days in a row and can shout from the rooftops how totally delicious these are!

This batch is a double recipe of what she posted – I think it’s a little easier since water measurements aren’t given. For double her recipe, I used 3/4 C water (just for your reference, a shaggy dough isn’t hard to achieve either).

Above is the garlic mixture, which is just garlic cloves, olive oil and salt.


So here’s the dough rising. 1 3/4 C flour + 1.25 t yeast + 1 t salt + 1 t sugar + 3/4 C hot/warm water. Slathered with some olive oil to coat the outside generously, and then left covered to rise for 1 hour. This is the end of the 1 hour rise time, you can tell by the bubbly goodness.


I can’t get the dough to spread out evenly by hand without tearing it, so I just roll it out into a large rectangle-ish shape. At least my cutting board and rolling pin are getting some oil/conditioning!

Since this is a double batch, I use this gigantic kitchen scraper (thanks, Mom!) to cut it horizontally down the middle so I’d have 2 batches.


Slathered each side with half of garlic and olive oil mixture.


Then use the scraper to cut them into thin strips.


Here is my pointer finger, hopefully this will give you an idea. Think Sharpie permanent marker sized ribbons.


Then you just tie them into knots! I stretch the dough a little longer when I pick up each ribbon and very gently loop the ends over themselves. I know they’re called garlic knots, but you don’t need to be forceful about making them! You can see some garlicky goodness poking out of this little knot.


And… hey, hey, the gang’s all here! Two olive oil slathered cookie sheets with twee garlic knots spread over them, waiting to go into the oven.


…And now out of the oven. I made these the first time with the other half slathered over them while baking, and this time like the recipe said by reserving the remaining garlic and olive oil mix to slather with parsely. The ones covered in garlic/olive oil will come out more golden.

I also baked these at 350 F instead of 400, just for a longer time since the bottoms were darkening too much for me (and they came out just dandy!).


Here are the hot knots being tossed in the remaining garlic-olive oil mix with some chopped parsley (fresh from Albany John’s garden!).

I spread them back out on the cookie sheet so they wouldn’t get soggy.

Et voila! A parsely and garlic-coated garlic knot!

The olive oil used in this recipe really elevates these simple knots into flavorful, delicate, soft and amazing blobs of carby happiness.

The size is great, too – it means they cook quickly, and I don’t know about you, but I love tender, delicious bread products in under 15 minutes. Please don’t ask me how easy they are to eat (ok, go ahead… SO EASY).

I deffo prefer the garlic knots with the olive oil-garlic mix spread over them before baking – it still tastes plenty garlicky. These ones were a little too harsh for me and Albany John. Midway through dinner we were both like “Oh, so good, but, uh… oh, my stomach…” the raw garlic was intense and biting, so I’m sure my sis would love them, but I just popped them back in the oven to mellow out and cook for a few more mintues (didn’t hurt anything, either!). I’m bringing her some tonight though, so we’ll see how the verdict goes. Then again, I’ve never heard the phrase “too garlicky” from her.

I am now officially addicted to these easy peasy garlic knots. 2 nights in a row. Will I go three?! I’m not sure, but the next time people come over to mi casa for foods, they need to eat these. (BTW, the original recipe is PERFECT for 2 people as an appetizer, not an appetizer-woah-we’re-so-full-b/c-it-was-really-big, but like an actual whet-the-appetite-a-smidge appetizer)

P.S. – does raw garlic give anyone else a crazy amount of poots? ‘Cause I am like the mayor of Poot City this mornin’!

Joong Again


On Friday night I made joong, only I used a ton of fillings like my Dad mentioned he liked eating. I thought the last ones I made were kind of bland – the strip of pork belly in the center was not enough for me.

Wow, what a long night. Like, 6 hours of joong making. Plus all the prepping the night before and morning of. Joong is definitely not something you can do spur of the moment. It’s a Clear-Your-Calendar kind of thing. And this time I was making them by myself and pretty much underestimated how long it would take.

But these were well worth the time spent making them. More fillings = yum.

I still have to work out how much rice/fillings/bamboo leaves to have so I don’t have any leftovers, but I used all the rice that I’d soaked this time, so I was pretty happy about not having any go to waste. I’d rather have filling leftovers than rice leftovers any day.


The soaking. THE SOAKING!

The morning of I put some bamboo leaves in a big honkin plastic space-saver storage container. Don’t worry – I soaped it up and made it all squeaky-clean. The bamboo leaves tend to rise up to the top, so I just placed my bowl full of rice on top of the leaves to weigh them down. The rice is also covered with water to soak.

What were my fillings?

Peants, whole dried shrimp (these were what my Yeh Yeh had bought for me when I last visited him specifically for making more joong), marinated pork belly, lop chong, split mung beans, dried shiitake slices, and dried scallops.

Here are the some of the fillings I used, just in case you’re curious. (And also for my future reference)

Small Dried scallops – I really like this brand. They have a nice brine-y flavor that isn’t too overpowering. These are also covered in water to soak for the day.


Dried strips of Shiitake mushrooms – these are soaked for the day. I like that they are pre-sliced and not as intensely flavored as other dried mushrooms I’ve tried. Or maybe it’s just that they’re sliced so thinly they aren’t as intense as thick slices/whole mushrooms. Either way, I think I’ll stick with this brand again.

Dried split mung beans – again, soaked with water to cover them for the day.


These are the special large dried shrimp YehYeh got for me. I like them quite a bit. As with all the other dried goods, these were soaked in water to cover them and left for the day.


And here’s where I started dragging everything out from the kitchen to the living room:

I laid down some newspaper so I wouldn’t create a mess on the carpet. Soaked rice is not fun to clean up or step on and have stick to your feet.

Up top is the storage container with soaked bamboo leaves (leave them in water so they don’t dry out) with an empty pan next to it for finished joong to sit in.
The big purple bowl has soaked sweet rice in it.Then there’s all the soaked stuff, drained and ready to go: whole shrimp, peanuts (yep, I also soaked peanuts. Those things really swell up!), scallops in the pink bowl, mung beans below them, and the shiitakes on the right end.


As I was about to start I realized – d’oh! I’d forgotten the twine, lop chong (sweet Chinese sausages) and marinated pork belly! So I quickly peeled and sliced the lop chong and set out the pork belly. Phew, problem averted!
Here’s how the filling goes: grab a leaf or two of bamboo (I made small ones with one, but I had trouble making them with all of the fillings, so I switched to 2 leaves to make it easier on myself) and wrap it into a cone. Then add a spoonful of rice, toss in a bit of all of your fillings, and cover again with some rice. Then fold the ends of the cone over the bottom tightly and wrap with twine. I’ll be honest, this isn’t one of those things that’s easier than it sounds. It’s a bitch and a half to get down, and if a tear pops open while you’re tying the package up you might end up half-cursing like I did: “Oh, gahhh… Son of a… Mother ffff” you get the gist.
Then you boil them in water for 1.5-2 hours. So after you make a few of them, put a pot of water on to boil and let them go. I eventually had two large pots of water boiling and man; my kitchen was a sweltering jungle!



And here’s one of the finished guys. Pretty unassuming, right? Just cut off the twine and open it up.


All in all, it just looks like a dense-ass triangle of rice, but you can see something peeking out of the right side. Once you open them up, you see all of the fillings. I would have taken a picture, but by then my fingers were sticky and I didn’t really feel like it.

I don’t think these normally have any dipping sauce, but I’m really not a fan of plain rice, so I wanted something to dip the rice-ier bits into. I made basically the same dipping sauce as for XLB (soup dumplings). Basically, black vinegar, sliced fresh ginger, and dark soy sauce.

I wanted some of the black vinegar since I figured it would help cut some of the heaviness and density of the rice itself. Sticky rice always seems really heavy to me. And success – it worked very well! Albany John didn’t care for the black vinegar, he said it left a lingering sharp/floral note on the tip of his nose.
The brand above is “Chinkiang Vinegar”. It’s in a large-ish bottle (think: wine bottle) and was $2-3.

I used “Superior Dark Soy Sauce” from Pearl River Bridge. It was around $3 and is also in a bottle similar to a wine bottle. It’s a little thicker than regular soy sauce and tastes a little better than my usual Kikkoman brand.


I liked these a LOT more than the ones I made last time – all of the different fillings made it much more enjoyable to eat (especially if you’re impartial to rice like I am). My sis is even offering to ferry some down to my dad this week when she goes to visit so that he can try them out and give them a thumbs up or down. This is my vegan sister, who knows that basically any Chinese dish I make has pork in it, so I really appreciate the gesture.

I packed them all up in ziploc bags and now they are sitting cool in my freezer. I’ll pull them out if I need a quickie meal or snack.