Saturday, December 31, 2011

Thai Fish and Broccoli: A Simpler Year

Happy New Years! And happy 75th post, Tommy K! I know, I know, this blog isn't quite a year old, but we're ending the calendar year here, so I've got to celebrate. I haven't forgotten about the pumpkin pie recipe- I'll add it one of these days- but I feel that in the spirit of the new year and resolutions and such I ought to make one myself:

For the calendar year 2012 I resolve--- no, that's too much commitment and I'm still probably still some years from resolving away my fear of commitment, so...

For the calendar year 2012 I might--- ah, much better--- try, possibly, maybe, hopefully, if the mood's right, to cook simpler meals.

Wow it feels great to get that off of my chest! It's something I've wanted to say for a while, but now that I've said it, I don't know what I was so afraid of! Anyway, in the spirit of simpler meals, here's some fish and broccoli that I made the other day:

Thai Fish and Broccoli



2 Fillets "Vietnam Farm Raised Fish" from the Asian Grocery Store
1 Crown Broccoli
Sesame Oil
Fish Sauce
Srirachi
Soy Sauce
Salt and Pepper
Thai Basil
Lemon Wedge

Put each Fillet on a piece of tin foil large enough to enclose the Fish and do the same for the Broccoli. Drizzle some Oil on each Fillet and the Broccoli and spritz a little Fish Sauce, Soy Sauce, and Srirachi. Sprinkle Salt and Pepper on each. Squirt some Lemmon Juice on them. And finally, on just the Fish Fillets, lay Basil leaves on them as seen in the photo. Broil for 20 minutes on your hottest oven temperature. Either my oven doesn't get hot enough or tin foil is the most heat-resistant compound known to man, because I thought these would be cooked in 10 minutes, max. I had to put them in for more time after I checked! If I'm ever banished to the sun, I'm going in a suit made of foil. And with some hip shades. Holla. Preparation of this meal was about 5 minutes and it tastes great- just like what you'd expect at a Thai restaurant. I can handle that. Rock on!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tamales

My earliest memory of tamales was when I couldn't have been more than four or five. My grandfather's sister, my Tia Koncha, was a crazy woman. She had so many plants that I used to think she lived in the jungle. I don't think she knew how many cats she had, and she had an amazing parrot that lived in her laundry room (in a cage) and spoke fluent Spanish- well according to five-year-old me who knew even less Spanish then than he does now. She had a TV in every room of the house (not exaggerating) and reeked of perfume. I never understood a single thing that came out of her mouth, but she was one of the sweetest women I've ever had the pleasure of knowing, and honest to God she made the best tamales I've ever had. My only real memory of them was the anticipation I would have in the car when my parents would tell me that she was making tamales for us and then the sheer pleasure I got from eating them. I couldn't tell you what type they were or how she made them, and I know there's no written recipe for them, but that's okay, because nothing I could make could ever compare. My only hope is that one day when I have kids and grand-kids, one of them looks back on my meals and is inspired to cook them for their families.

Normally tamales are made by many hands. Not only is it a long process, but it's also a pain in the ass to do by yourself. My Tias make tamales each year and invited me to help once, but I couldn't make it due to school, so instead of the loving care of my family, I had to turn to the cold disinterested attention of the internet for the basics. Fortunately I'm a boss in the kitchen, so they didn't turn out too badly. They're not my Tia's, but they're a start.

Tamales



Filling



3 Onions
3 Tomatillos
8 Cloves Garlic
1 Poblano Pepper
1 Bunch Cilantro
3 Jalapenos
2 Tomatoes
2 Large Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
1.5 tbsp Cumin
1 Lime
Salt and Pepper

Boil the Tomatillos, Garlic, Poblano, Jalapenos, and Tomatoes. Liquify with Cilantro and Onion in a Blender. Add the Cumin. Boil off a lot of the liquid and cook Chicken Breast in small pieces in the Salsa that you've just made. Shred the Chicken and Salsa in your mini-food processor. Salt and Pepper and Lime to taste. Set aside.



1 can Black Beans

Boil off most of the water from the Beans and mash as if you were refrying them- which is to say: Hulk Smash!

Masa



??? Masa
1.63 lb. Pork Lard from the Mexican Grocery Store
1 Lime
2 tsp Baking Soda
Salt

I didn't measure the amount of Masa I used, but mix it with the Baking Soda and Salt. I just used enough to fully absorb all the Pork Lard and feel moist, but not wet. Kind of like a when you're with a girl and you're- never mind. Squeeze in the Lime. Why? Why the heck not?

Wrapper

x Corn Husks

Soak however many corn husks you intend on filling in warm water. This will make them pliable and will keep them from cracking. I made about 30 tamales and ran out of Masa before I used all of the filling.

Now comes the fun part... Smear the Masa mixture on each Corn Husk. Scrape some beans on them. Slap some Chicken mixture on them. Roll them up.



This takes forever, so try to enjoy yourself. Like do this part naked or something; you're not working around a flame or knife, so hukuna matata. It's fine if you're not getting a super thick layer of Masa on each Husk- when you steam them they puff up a lot.

Ideally you want your tamales to fit snugly in your pot, but since I was using a giant brewing pot, I rubber-banded them in half-dozen batches.



This worked pretty well. Make sure your tamales aren't sitting in the water. They should be on a perforated surface above the water. I improved this with random pans and crap that I had in my cabinet. I'm pretty you you could come up with something involving tin foil if you were really in a pinch. Steam them for 60-90 minutes. I don't know how to tell when they're done. Just don't worry about it, they'll turn out well.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Spaghetti and Meatballs and The Bugle

The semester's over and not a moment too soon. An enraged parent has sent my name to the "superintendent's counsel," whatever that is, after I failed her student who didn't learn geometry. I can't wait for next semester! Whatever, hopefully I'll get into grad school. Also, I have a one word defense: scoreboard. Yeah that's right, my kids' scores are pretty damn high this year, so bring it on lady.

Ok, so screw this, you want to hear about my balls:

Spaghetti and Meatballs



Noodles

8 oz. Spaghetti Noodles (half a pack)

Cook per usual.

Sauce

10 Tomatoes
6 Cloves Garlic
4 Dried Red Chili Peppers
1 tbsp Basil
1 tbsp Oregano
2 tsp Fennel Seeds
2 Bay Leaves
Salt

Liquify Tomatoes and Garlic in blender. Simmer to thicken with Spices and Pepper, then Salt to taste.

Meatballs

1.75 lb. Ground Beef
1 c. Bread Crumbs
1 Egg
1 Onion
3 Cloves Garlic
1 tbsp Basil
1 tbsp Oregano
1 tbsp Cracked Red Peppers
1 tbsp Dried Parsley
2 tsp Fennel Seeds
Salt

Puree the Onion and Garlic in a mini-food processor with Egg and Spices. Mix mixture with Meat and Bread Crumbs and pat into small balls. Cook balls in a tiny quantity of Olive Oil in your cast-iron skillet. When cooked, add to Tomato Sauce.

Mix everything together and enjoy. This is by far the most delicious Spaghetti I've ever made!

***On a sadder note, my heart goes out to John Oliver, Andy Zaltzman, Chris, and even Tom, of The Bugle. You've made my life better since the moment I first discovered you three years ago. Every time a tyrant is knocked off, or an athlete shoots himself, or penis is mounted for the world to see (that was my high school, baby!), or pun is made, oh God, what am I doing? I can't do justice to the glory that is and always will be the Bugle. It only seems fitting that I lose you the same day that I find out we lost Kim Jung Il. Just promise me, Bugle, that you'll come back, if only for a day, to give Rupert Murdock the fuckeulogy he undeniably deserves. Fuck you Chris, John, Andy, and Tom in order of who I am most afraid will steal the girlfriend that I will certainly be able to get now that I don't have you fuckers wasting all my Friday nights with the complete and total bullshit that I've come to crave like Silvo Berlusconi craves underage women. Oh yeah, stay down! But most of all, my heart goes out to my fellow Buglers. This sucks.