Archive for June, 2010

Double Fried

When you’re bussing home from work on the 96 bus and it gets pulled over at Union station for “passing w/o caution” I tend to agree with “he didn’t smush anything” is caution enough.  Thank you for your concern Mr. police officer, but me and the 40 other people on the bus want to get home.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m usually on the law enforcement side, but this time I shot the police dirty looks as our bus emptied and boarded the 20 minute later 96 bus that had caught up.  Sigh.  Tomorrow I suppose I’ll take the train.

Believe it or not, my night was not ruined by a sucky commute.  Stat Man French fries saved my mind.  I’ll be the first to admit that my mind, not being fantastically complex, is soothed (and easily bribed) by perfect French fries.  So, I was a happy little girl.

Stat Man Fries

2 potatoes

Water

Vegetable oil

Salt

Garlic (optional)

Wash your potatoes, then cut them into long sticks or whatever shape fry you would like.  We left the skin on, but peeling is also a delicious option.  Put all of your potato parts in a bowl and cover with water.  Let the potatoes soak in water for 15-25 minutes.

Fill a sauce pan with enough vegetable oil to fully submerge your potatoes, and heat the oil.  Strain the water and dry your potatoes.  Before actually frying the potatoes, set up a drying rack or baking sheet with paper towel.  In batches, place the potatoes in the hot oil until they are golden, then remove and cool on the paper towel.

Once all of the potatoes are fried once, start over and fry them all a second round.  The first fry job cooks the inside potato portion of the fry, the second fry crisps the outside.  Salt your fries soon after they are removed from the oil.  If you want a taste of garlic, rub the inside of a bowl with a clove or two of garlic and toss the fries in the bowl.  Then go bribe someone with them.

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Faux

Pho.  The essence of pho is the broth.  Which is why I hesitate to even classify this as pho; I totally cheated.  Or so I thought until I read this article.  Let me explain.

Just when you thought that dumb beef tongue post was out of sight I bring it up.  Yep, consider this tongue part duex.  Okay, so traditional pho does not require you go buy a tongue—however, I surely advocate that you do.  Generally the broth is made from boiling cheap cuts of beef, bones, spices etc.  It just so happens tongue is a cheap cut of beef, and I saved the liquid (better known as “broth”) we simmered the tongue in to make tacos.

Perhaps the lack of marrow-y bones classifies this broth to faux.  I’m okay with that.  When fish sauce and ginger were added to the re-simmered broth, it transformed.  All I’m sayin’ is at least it sounds like the real thing.

Faux

1 beef tongue (or other cut of cheap beef and bones if you have them)

1 thinly sliced low fat content steak (sirloin or skirt would work)

1 yellow onion, quartered

Fresh ginger

½ C fish sauce

4 green onions, chopped

Cilantro

Chiles, halved (we used jalapeno, but thai or Serrano would work well)

A bunch of water (ie. However much broth you want to make)

1 tbsp per serving hoisin sauce (optional)

1 tbsp sriracha per serving (optional)

Okay.  Fill up a big ‘ol cauldron with water and toss in your tongue (or other cheap meat and bones—NOT your lean beef), chiles, yellow onion, fish sauce, ginger, and ¼ of the green onions.  Simmer every-thang for at least 3 hours.  Then strain and make tacos de lengua out of your tongue.  Place the strained broth back on medium heat.

Meanwhile, thinly slice your lean beef and soak your noodles in room temperature water for 15 minutes.  Bring a pot of water to a boil and toss the noodles in for not much longer than a minute.  Those suckers cook fast.  Strain the noodles, and rinse with water—you don’t want them sticky.  Divvy up noodles amongst the bowls you will serve your pho in.

There are two ways to do your lean beef—it depends done-ness preference.  I would recommend the raw version, but I like tender almost under done meat.  1.  Done.  Toss the meat into the broth and let simmer until it is done to your liking.  2.  Place the raw meet on top of the noodles in your bowl.  (when you pour the broth in the bowl it will warm and cook the meet).

Place the remaining green onions in bowls and pour broth over everything.  Add cilantro, and stir in a dallop of hoisin and sriracha to your taste.  Beef-noodle-faux.

FROM THE LAND OF SKY BLUE WATERS

I’m going to try something different in this post.  I’m going to let someone else do the talking.  Let me introduce MY FIRST GUEST BLOGGER!!  This guy is one cool cat, and just happens to be my dad (Awwww).  Give it up for Joe Maassen!
For those too young to remember or otherwise unfamiliar with Hamms Beer, the  Hamm’s Bear and the “Land of Sky Blue Waters,” four of us spent this Memorial day weekend beneath the clear blue, sun filled skies, and along the crystal clear waters of the Turtle – Flambeau Flowage in far northern Wisconsin.
Occasionally, more like rarely, the stars actually do align and this “Land of Sky Blue Waters”  comes to life for a  few days in late May.  You cannot plan for a Memorial Day weekend like this, you just stumble onto it.  And like this setting, our Memorial Day Breakfast would never have occurred if planning had interfered with chance.
Sunday evening my friend Lee and I spent a couple hours fishing.   Reports, from trusted neighbors and the people in town were similar. The Walleye were just not biting.  With that in mind we set out with low expectations. Somewhat surprisingly, er, actually because of our extraordinary fishing skills,  we were able to net three perfect eating size walleye.  Of course, an equal number, or more, dined on our minnows and swam away.  Yet those three Walleye were sufficient to set the stage for Monday’s breakfast of fresh pan fried walleye, scrambled eggs and toast.
The fish produced six very nice filets which were promptly sealed in a glad bag containing  water and small bits of ice, and placed in the refrigerator to await the morning meal.  Ah, but what about the eggs?  Nope, no eggs in the refer, and no local chicken coop nearby. Instead, a trip into town for dinner required a detour to the local Quik Trip.
What happened Monday morning is, perhaps, more surprising than a “Land of Sky Blue Waters” weekend in May, and fresh caught fish in the refrigerator.   The males, with only a smidgen of female prodding, did the cooking.  For some, perhaps many, a “so what” moment will accompany this revelation.  However, the chefs, while progressive and free thinking in many ways, have long clung to the notion that cooking is someone else’s responsibility.  For instance, it is not necessarily a rarity for either of us to settle for a glass of Jameson and a cheap cigar rather than go through the hassle of cooking.
That morning, fresh, golden brown, pan fried Walleye filets, and fluffy scrambled eggs, with or without onions, awaited our wives when they returned from a short morning walk. The meal put a large exclamation point on this “Land of Sky Blue Waters” weekend.  Oh, just in case your wondering, we also toasted all the men and women,  who in so many ways, military service, Peace Corps, American Red Cross, Americorp and on and on who serve and have served.
Preparation is largely self explanatory.  Finding the fish is why such meals are best left to chance.

Good Enough for Summer

So, I kind of wish this was my blog post today.  I mean, baseball holidays are best.  There are no two ways about it.  Now don’t get me wrong, the weekend’s constant supply of tacos, fried chicken, and cake meant something was going right.  But, I didn’t get to spend Sunday with the Brewers.   I’m just sayin’…I think Craig Counsel is cool.  Kapeesh?

On Monday the Stat Man and I decided running 8 miles in 90 degree weather would be a good idea.  It turns out, it wasn’t terrible thanks to Rock Creek Park.  By the time we made our way around the tidal basin and up to Constitution, we had Gatorade in hand and caught the end of the Memorial Day parade.  I really like floats.  And marching bands.  And Veterans.

Instead of the Brewers we got sweaty, hung out with some good folks, ate their food, and baked a few cakes.  Two of the exact same cakes actually.  That’s right.  It was that good, we made it twice.  (toot toot).  What it really boils down to is I would make this cake for my home-dogs, Craig Counsel or Grandpa Maassen.  It tastes like summer.

Str-lue-Berry Buckle Cake

Adapted from Closet Cooking

Caveat(s):  If you only have an hour this cake is do-able, as long as your friend has an oven.  Jubs and Jon-o have an oven; they get cake #1’s baking credit.  And if you ran the Madison ½ marathon this weekend (ahem, Maren) might I suggest you eat the entire cake.  ½ marathon=you earned it.  Oh, and if you happen to be fixing the world from Hawaii—McArdle  (I’ve never called you that in my life…somehow it seemed appropriate)—toss in some vine ripened exotic something that the rest of us only know thanks to refrigeration and 18 wheelers.

2 C flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

¼ C butter

½ C sugar

¼ C brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

½ C milk (if you don’t have milk, water works–at least it did for us)

1 pint blueberries

1 lbs strawberries

In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set it aside.  In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar.  Add an egg.  Then the vanilla.  Mix together the flour mixture, milk, and butter mixture.  This won’t look like a typical cake batter, it should be much thicker in order to support the fruit.  Cause that’s what goes in next.  Fold in the berries.

Grease a 10 inch pan, and pour it in.  Then make the strudel topping.

Strudel Topping

½ C flour

¾ C brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ C butter (melted or softened)

There are two options depending on what type of crumb you prefer on your cake.  Option 1:  Chewy-caramel-like.  If you’re going chewy top, melt the butter before adding.  Option 2:  Crumble.  If you’re going crumble top, simply soften the butter before adding.

Mix the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and butter together in a bowl until crumbs form.  Sprinkle the crumbs on top of the cake and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the top is light brown and it smells like put-me-in-your-belly.