Posts Tagged ‘food’
This, my friends, sums up the one thing that is wrong with American food.
(Well, there’s also the misspelling of ‘mayonnaise’, but that’s less egregious. Also, I dearly wish T hadn’t kept insisting on getting coleslaw so often, let alone in Disneyland, since it was always a disappointment – and of course, I usually felt compelled to taste it as well.)
But let’s not dwell on that for TOO long. See, we also had plenty of good eats in America – mostly Mexican, BBQ, and hole-in-the-wall diners, the kind of stuff we gravitated to since we don’t get it at home. Here’s a few of our favourites:
Best Burger – Hook Burger
Blows In-N-Out out of the water.
Best BBQ – Mrs Hyster’s
We had some pretty good BBQ in Memphis, but the downhome sloppy, saucy stuff in this New Orleans hole-in-the-wall edged it out.
Best Chain – Chipotle
Please, please, please, open up in New Zealand. In the meantime, I’m going to have to start making my own burrito bowls.
Best Diner -Welcome Diner
This is kind of a hipster diner, tucked away in Phoenix, where we were served by a dead ringer for Seth Rogen, who wrote the comics that you’ll find tucked into the shelf. For more old-school, downmarket dining, I tip my hat to Mike and Ronda’s The Place along Route 66 in Flagstaff.
Best Pizza – Joe’s
It wasn’t so long ago that we were enjoying pizza in Naples for real, but we HAD to try New York pizza too – and Joe’s is where it’s at.
Best Hot Dogs – Superdawg
Chicago institution. Enough said.
Best Mexican – Fat’s Burritos, Roswell / Garcia’s Mexican, San Antonio
Really dug the relleno plate at Fat’s, but beware, it’s tricky to find (it’s moved a few times – don’t be fooled by the mural/building that catches your eye on the way in! Keep driving till you hit the actual street number.) And Garcia’s breakfast tacos can’t be missed.
Tags: america, food
Until we got to the Mediterranean, I was unexcited about the cuisine through middle Europe. I gorged on potato salad for weeks, but otherwise, the meats and such weren’t terribly enticing. Perfectly serviceable food, and filling too – just not the kind that would get me out of bed in a hurry.
For example, bread bowl soup in Prague was cute in a gimmicky way, though overpriced, as was all the other (albeit tasty) street stall food we bought during our brief visit.
Things started to come right in Greece. Succulent lamb. Dolmades. Salad with feta.
But Italy? Italy blew my tastebuds out of the water. Stopping to take photos before devouring food proved too difficult in many cases, but here are a few meals I did capture.
One of our first pizzas (if not the first) in Italy – in Bologna, to be precise
A lunch stop in Orvieto – Umbrian wild boar with pasta!
A simple bolognese in Rome
Tiramisu at an all-you-can-eat Roman lunch buffet
‘Squid ring’ pasta at La Buca di san Fastino, Viterbo
Followed by sausaged stuffed eggplant
My kinda salad…
Splurging on seafood in Amalfi town
And again, in Naples
Naples was a bit of a bust, much as I wanted to love it. Like Bologna, it’s meant to be a city of great food, but I found it somewhat underwhelming. Many places were shut down, being early/mid August when locals go away on holiday (timing couldn’t be helped in this instance) and while we had a LOT of great meals (including countless excellent pizzas) we also had one terribly underwhelming one. Never mind – Pasticceria Mazzaro more than made up for that.
After eating our way through the country, I can only say that it has totally changed my outlook on food. Particularly after our HelpX stint, where we ate veggies and fruit fresh from the garden almost every day, I am committed to shaking up how we eat when we get home. Simple, GREAT ingredients. No more quick and dirty pasta dinners, with a $1 packet of pasta, $3 jar of sauce, maybe some minced meat and a handful of veggies. Nope. Just some top-notch EVOO, tomatoes, cheese, and maybe some courgettes, eggplant, or string beans. For example:
Not only do I want to change my diet, I think I need to change how I eat overall. I’m not going to give up sugar or fried food, but my body definitely knows what it likes. I was almost constantly hungry on the farm in Italy while HelpXing, but hunger aside, I felt great. Even though we rarely had dessert and didn’t snack, I didn’t have any cravings at all. On days that I did ingest meat or sugar, I definitely felt an immediate difference, digestively speaking. It was like a second, more complete detox post-Asia.
Tags: food, travel
A few culinary highlights so far:
Steamboat style lunch in Hat Yai (restaurant in the Robinson’s mall). SO MANY KINDS OF MUSHROOMS!
Larb gai (minced meat salad) from a roadside stall in Phra Ae, Koh Lanta.
Thai stirfry and green curry at The Tavern, Koh Lanta.
As it turns out, we were stationed in a pretty good spot at Phra Ae. Palm Beach is down a driveway with about four other resorts, and emerges onto the street among some street stalls and very close to some good eateries. I enjoyed rice and noodles at 50 baht a pop (about $2), for example. Credit also to:
- the very good Indian restaurant, which I THINK was called Little Indra, advertising 15% off while we were there
- The Tavern, a restaurant/bar that serves good western AND Thai food at reasonable prices (T thrived on the big breakfast – 180 baht) and I can recommend – surprisingly – the nachos and stuffed potatoes. Take advantage of their specials, too – we feasted on a banquet of spring rolls, fish cakes, stir fry and curry for 299 baht on our last night.
Tom yum kung hotpot on Soi Rambuttri, Khao San Rd area, Bangkok.
Spring rolls at The Blue Pumpkin, Siem Reap.
Noodles with barbecued pork in Hue.
Fried wontons at Trang Buc in Hoi An.
Hoi An, surprisingly, captured my foodie heart. From the cao lau to my quang (both traditional local noodle dishes) to com ga (chicken rice) and white rose (shrimp dumplings), good eats were to be found everywhere in this tiny town. I could have easily gotten used to wandering over to the street stalls every morning for a bowl of noodles, followed by a spicy banh mi around the corner. I rarely carried my DSLR on these outings.
That said, I don’t think any cuisine will ever surpass Malaysian for me. Laksa. Nasi lemak. Sugarcane. Ais kacang. Soya milk. Sometimes the stuff of childhood will simply never be usurped.
Tags: asia, food, travel
As soon as I posted about heading to Vietnam on my blog’s Facebook page, a reader wished me luck.
Eep. I didn’t want to jinx it by saying anything, but I hadn’t had any tummy troubles up to that point.
Sure enough, though, before I’d even finished my first bowl of noodles in Ho Chi Minh, I felt my guts start to roil. I was up off my stool in a flash, ready to seek out the nearest toilet. Luckily, the first stab of indigestion passed quickly, as did the momentary sweats and dizziness.
I didn’t even pause to consider it at the time, but I believe I had a pretty good detox after arriving in Asia. Existing solely on fresh, simple, real food was a treat for my tastebuds – and it also did wonders for my innards. It wasn’t until I had my first bar of chocolate or pastries that I started to experience stomach pains or gas again (TMI? Sorry). I didn’t crave sugar ONCE during this time; amazingly, I didn’t miss the absence of ice cream, cake, and cookies.
Honestly, Ho Chi Minh/Saigon was not wonderful for us. I spent a lot of it lying in bed feeling pretty crappy. It’s fairly international, so T took the chance to get in a lot of Western food. I’m pretty sure this didn’t sit too well with me, and I quickly swore to get back to noodles and rice, which seemed to help.
I wonder how the changes in diet once we hit Europe will affect me … and whether processed foods are going to be totally off limits.
Tags: food, reflections
I had a pretty heavy post planned for today, but have decided to put it off for now. Enjoy the sweetness and light…
It’s easy to succumb to fast food when you’re busy, stressed and pressed for time. But seriously. Here are three takeaway foods you can just as easily make at home; it’ll taste better – and be better for you.
Tomato paste/puree/sauce – or BBQ sauce – or whatever you prefer
Toppings of choice (suggestions: mushrooms/tomatoes/pineapple/capsicum/salami/ham/cheese
I think everyone makes their dough slightly differently. A friend uses self-raising flour and milk in hers (???!!!). But you can’t go wrong with a basic dough of flour, yeast, salt, water and olive oil. Don’t forget the oil! It gives it a nice smooth texture and will make it easier to knead and roll out.
Start with the dough, and once you’ve got your bases ready, smear them with tomato paste. Arrange your cut-up toppings over the top, and sprinkle with cheese. Bake in the oven at 180 degrees C for about 20 minutes or until cooked – when bases crisp up and toppings are bubbling.
Tip: shake things up by mixing a couple different kinds of cheeses, or new vegetable combinations – I’m a big fan of eggplant on pizza.
- Burger patties (or if you’ve got minced meat on hand, mix with an egg and a little flour and make your own)
Sauce of choice (tomato, BBQ, aioli, mayonnaise…)
Vegetables of choice (lettuce, tomato, beetroot…)
There are really only two steps. Cook patty, then assemble.
To make it a little more interesting, try adding a fried egg, hash brown, bacon strips, or some caramelised onions.
- Corn chips
Beans (red kidney, black, or a mix of types)
Brown the mince. Add in the tomatoes and beans, bring to a boil, then simmer until the mixture thickens. I like to add a few squirts of pure ketchup into the mix, and sometimes a dash of paprika, cayenne or chili powder.
Take it to the next level with toppings: sour cream, cheese, spring onions, fresh herbs. You win.
What fast foods do you recreate at home?
Tags: cooking, food, recipes
Believe it or not, I did not used to like any of the following vegetables. But I’ve seen the light. And I’m including a recipe for each to whet your appetite.
My brother still refuses to touch this beautiful vegetable. What he calls slimy, I call succulent.
This Smitten Kitchen recipe for roasted eggplant with tomatoes is ace (I don’t like mint so exchange it for other herbs).
Until recently, I only ever ate carrot when grated up into a coleslaw (or perhaps a couple of carrot sticks at a time, coated liberally in hummus or dip).
But my absolute favourite way to enjoy them now? Roasted, of course. You can’t go past a tray of succulent veggies crackling away in the oven. The Perfect Pantry suggests sea salt, EVOO and balsamic vinegar to accompany along the journey.
Beans and chickpeas
It took me until my 20s to discover the likes of couscous, chickpeas and beans. Really.
Rachael Ray’s chickpea salad with celery and capsicum is a quick way to get some legumes into your belly. But I suggest you add a soft cheese. Cheese makes everything better.
Are there any foods you converted to late in life?
A tad extravagant for a Saturday lunch? Perhaps…
I’ll be honest: duck doesn’t really do it for me. It was the veggies – mushrooms, onions and basil – that I really wolfed down. And the sauce! Oh, the sauce. After a couple of wildly unsuccessful guesses, T shared with me exactly what went into it:
- Tomato paste
- A dash of oyster sauce (yes, really)
How about you – are you a duck fan?
It’s funny how your eating habits as a child can shape your eating habits as an adult. I’ve grown to like certain vegetables I would previously never have touched with a barge pole (a subject for an upcoming post…) but by and large my tastes have remained the same. I don’t do green salads and I don’t really know how to deal with solid hunks of meat (we grew up eating stirfries). I think rice pudding and bread and butter pudding are two of the strangest concepts ever. And I’m just not into raw foods in general. At all.
We didn’t eat a lot of pork, either, but it’s something I’ve gotten more used since to living with T. That boy could eat bacon every day, but he also loves crackling, pork chops and roast. I’ll willingly go along with it, as long as he’s cooking – though as I’ve learned, pork can substitute for other meat in practically any dish (here’s one site to bookmark if you’re ever looking for pork recipes).
An interesting aside: pork cuts are getting new names in the US, ostensibly to lift flagging sales. (I don’t think we have the same problem here, as I haven’t seen any NZ Pork ads recently, though Beef + Lamb seems to be doing a bit of a push.) Personally, I always make a beeline for the leanest, cleanest ones – when you’re as noobish of a cook as I am, simple is best.
Are there any foods you’ve learned to like over time?
I’m embarrassed to admit it, but there’s nothing shameful about admitting the truth. RIGHT?
T outcooks me in every possible way. He even makes better Chinese food than I do.
All I can really say is: Noodles. Mushrooms. Beef strips. Garlic. Spring onions. Coriander. And some kind of sauce (play around with soy/oyster sauce/fish sauce/vinegar/cornflour?).
Sorry to those of you who like detailed recipes, but we’re both pretty fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants types, especially T. I don’t understand how he can just conjure up meals out of nowhere. Just like I don’t understand people who can bust out amazing musical solos off the cuff. Maybe it’s a skill that can be learned, but I think I’ll leave it up to him.
Also, what am I gonna call this series once we’re married? Husband in the kitchen just doesn’t have the same ring to it. Also, I have lingering linguistic issues with the terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife’, so it may take me a while to adjust to them. Then again, I imagine we won’t be doing much impressive cooking on the road, so there’s a while to figure it out.
Tags: food, recipes
I like to batch recipes. Got a bunch that use lots of the same ingredients? Group ‘em and make them all in the same week or month.
With the end of summer fast approaching, I thought it was high time I got onto all the berry/lemon baked treats lying neglected in my Delicious folder.
Mini blueberry cream cheese tartlets
His words, not mine. Because third-party validation always carries more weight.
I was pretty sure that this was going to bomb from the very start. For one, I didn’t have anywhere near enough fruit, so I cut Poor Girl Eats Well’s recipe by about 2/3 and turned this into mini tarts/bites rather than a pie. (Things usually go haywire when I do this). I eyeballed everything, more or less, and totally winged the pastry part. It seemed way too wet for its own good, and came out a little delicate and crumbly, but overall, a win. Here’s the original recipe.
For the crust
- 1/2 cup of butter
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup flour
- 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
For the cream cheese filling
- 250ml package of cream cheese (normal or spreadable, softened)
- 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the blueberry topping
- 3 cups blueberries
- 1/2 c sugar
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons cornflour
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Mix flour and baking powder in one bowl. Separately, cream butter and sugar.
Add the flour gradually, then press dough into muffin tins.
Bake until golden (10-15 minutes). Remove and set aside to cool (I actually popped them in the fridge briefly.)
Meanwhile, whip the cream cheese in a food processor until it’s soft and pliable, then add condensed milk and give it another whirl until incorporated. Finally, add the lemon juice.
For the blueberry filling: Combine the cornflour and lemon juice in a small bowl and mix. Then, in a saucepan, cook the berries and sugar over medium heat until the berries start to release their juices and break down slightly. Add the lemon-cornflour slurry and bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the berry mixture starts to thicken. Remove and set aside in a bowl to cool completely.
Once the crust is cooled, pour in the cream cheese filling. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (I skipped this second step).
Finally, spoon the cooled berry mixture over the top to make a pretty layer. Cover and refrigerate again until ready to serve (or just dive in, like me!) at which point you can add extra fresh berries (I didn’t have room on the tarts, nor did I miss them).
Frugal factor: average. I happened to already have condensed milk at home, but berries ain’t cheap (I don’t know about where you live, but a cup’s worth runs me about $3, and can’t be found out of season at all. Still a big ouch value-wise, but hey, we live to eat, not vice versa), nor is cream cheese.
Lemon berry yoghurt slice
Molly at These Little Moments made this loaf last year. I gave it a spin this month. Just look at that glorious glaze atop it!
Here’s the recipe:
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (I skipped this)
- 2 containers of 5.3oz organic Greek yoghurt (I kind of guessed at the amount here, and tipped in all the yoghurt left in the container)
- 1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
- 3 large eggs (I used two; after the yoghurt, it seemed plenty moist enough)
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used a little less; again the mixture was pretty wet)
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
- 1/4 cup frozen blueberries
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and flour a small loaf pan.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.
In another bowl, whisk yoghurt, 1 cup sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly blend the dry ingredients into the wet.
Fold in the oil, then mix in the berries.
Pour into pan, and bake for about 50 minutes or until cooked through.
Meanwhile, cook the 1/4 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.
Once the cake is done, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. The glaze went solid as I made it right after putting the baking tin into the oven, so I heated it up again at the end to re-liquefy it in order to pour over
Frugal factor: high. You don’t need many berries for this one, and you probably have everything else in the pantry (plain yoghurt might be the only one that trips you up).
Blueberry butter cake
I actually started my berry craze with this cake recipe found via the Joy of Caking. I also wanted to make this buttermilk bundt by Smitten Kitchen (mainly because bundt is an awesome word!) but quite honestly, it looked too hard and this cake seemed pretty close.
I am, sadly, a poor excuse for a food stylist. Rest assured that despite the presentation (I have never been able to make pretty food – this cake was lopsided, for goodness sake) it was moist and palate-pleasing.
- 1 cup of butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup blueberries
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Generously grease your cake tin.
Beat butter, sugar, eggs, sour cream, and milk until well mixed (I used our food processor).
Add flour and baking powder, then the vanilla extract.
Pour half of the batter into the bottom of the pan and sprinkle blueberries on top. Pour remaining batter over the berries.
Bake for approximately 35-40 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
Remove from oven and cool completely before removing from pan.
Frugal factor: high. Just the basics of baking ingredients, plus half a container of sour cream and a punnet of blueberries (expensive, as above).
Got any berrytastic recipes to share?
Tags: baking, food, recipes