Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hot, hot, hot! (Apologies to The Cure)

Asian soup ... hot ... lots o' noodles ...

This looks like something that'd be right up my alley, and then some:

Friday, October 30, 2009

Noodle with this caserole

I got creative while we were housebound during a snowstorm one winter...and used ingredients I had on hand to come up with this hearty casserole.

--Judy Munger of Warren, Minnesota

I'm a sucker for Taste of Home 's recipe magazines, especially the ones that have a home-cooking theme. Last one I got was the "potluck" issue, and Judy Munger's Taco Noodle Dish was the first dish I cooked up. I didn't take it to a potluck, but I imagine you'd be the hit -- or one of the biggest hits -- if you toted it to a potluck near you.

Two things: I substituted three-quarters of a jar of Goya Sofrito Cooking Base for taco seasoning and tomato sauce (I always have a jar of Goya Sofrito on hand 'cause it adds an extra-rich tomato flavor to Mexican-style soups, stews, and casseroles); and I added some heat by seeding and mincing two jalapeño peppers, which were thrown in when my ground beef/sofrito sauce mixture was cooking-through.

Taco Noodle Dish


2 cups uncooked yolk-free wide noodles
2 pounds lean beef
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1 can chopped green chilies
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded lettuce
1 cup diced fresh tomatoes
1/3 cup sliced ripe black olives, drained
1/2 cup taco sauce
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream


Cook noodles according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, cook the turkey over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in the tomato sauce, water, green chilies, taco seasoning, onion powder, chili powder and garlic powder. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Drain noodles; place in an 11-in. x 7-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spread the turkey mixture over the top. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Top with the lettuce, tomatoes, olives and taco sauce. Dollop each serving with 1 tablespoon of sour cream.

Postscript: Lest anyone say that my Taco Noodle Dish, based on the above pic, looks like a "mess" (I did kinda throw taco sauce, shredded lettuce, sour cream, and sliced black olives on it without once considering what the thing'd look like to AMGE readers). Here's what it looked like out of the oven, without taco sauce, lettuce ... etc.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mon chocolat préféré

I was introduced to British-made chocolate back in the late 90s. I immediately became partial to the Mother Country's dark stuff (I'm talkin' chocolate here).

You see, I have some good friends - Mr. P. and Mrs. S. - who hail from the U.K., and it was in their home when I ate my first Flake, Curly Wurly, and pack o' Buttons.

The main thing you need to know about British chocolate is this: it's richer and smoother than American-made chocolate, and you won't never have a chalky aftertaste on your tongue after eating the U.K. stuff. Guaranteed.

But don't just take my word for it. The Wall Street Journal recently ran a piece 'bout folks who like British chocolate. A relevant passage:

There are real differences between Cadbury chocolates made in Europe and the U.S.

Greg Ziegler, a food-science professor at Penn State University, says certain ingredient types -- say, condensed milk versus powdered -- can radically alter taste and texture. Also, U.S. government regulations ban the use of vegetable fat in chocolate, while European Union rules allow it.

As a result, the American product uses more cocoa butter, which makes the chocolate "harder, melt slower and deliver its flavor over a long period of time," says Mr. Ziegler, who has conducted research for chocolate makers including Cadbury and Hershey.

Read the rest here.

All that said, I recently ran across this bar o' chocolate in my local Publix's "international" aisle:

If you will recall, one of the things I most like about Publix is the fact that each and every store stocks a goodly portion of foodstuffs from across the Pond ... like chocolates from the U.K.

Main reason I bought me a Yorkie was its politically incorrect slogan, which you can see in the pic above. (I'm surprised a company can get away with such a slogan in today's PC-happy Europe, indeed.)

Now, I may've bought a Yorkie on a principled whim, but I'll buy me some more 'cause, quite frankly, it's one of the best candy bars I've ever consumed.

A Yorkie is very dense -- I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who doesn't have his or her original teeth. But it's also dense with whole milk and deep cocoa flavor. Next to a Curly Wurly, I have another favourite (!) candy bar.

Question: Since Yorkie's slogan is "It's not for girls," reckon Tony Blair's ever had one?! (I started to say Elton John but I figured that'd get me in trouble with one of Obama's czars.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Who wants to be slapped?!

I had a great uncle who could smoke a hunk o' meat like nobody's business (he specialized in smoking pork steaks, whole chicken, and whole turkeys). When he was smokin' meat, my great uncle would often say something like this: "It's so good, it'll make you want to slap your pappy."

Speakin' of pappy-slappin' ...

This is interesting:

A pair of Cajun seasoning companies whose names allude to domestic rough-housing are now preparing to scuffle in court.

The makers of "Slap Ya Mama" last week sued the entrepreneur behind "Punch Ya Daddy," claiming the upstart brand infringes upon their trademark. William Stagg, attorney for the plaintiff, says it's not what's in the cartons of Kirby Falcon's proprietary South Louisiana spice blend that concerns his client: It's the name and logo emblazoned on their labels.

"We don't really know what the recipe is, but we believe the packaging and image my customer has created for Slap Ya Mama is unique," Stagg says. "We believe this brand is calculated to capture our market."

Falcon's attorney did not return calls seeking comment.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"[W]hat a damn fine cheeseburger it was ..."

My bestest bud Bruce and I recently hit a show at the Exit/In (you'll hear more 'bout said show at The Nigh Seen Creeder soon), and we dined beforehand at the Gold Rush 'cross the street.

I'd been to the Gold Rush a couple-dozen times prior to my most recent visit, and all I'd ever eaten there were assorted appetizers, several of their "famous" bean rolls, and one hamburger. I remembered that burger being pretty good, so I ordered this ...

That, my friends, is the jalapeño cheeseburger I ate at the Gold Rush. And what a damn fine cheeseburger it was. Here's why:

Cooked medium-rare per my order -- ain't many restaurants that'll indulge a customer's medium-rare burger order these days -- my Gold Rush burger was topped with expertly-grilled slices of fresh jalapeño (I was expecting canned jalapeños, but the Gold Rush went and got all fresh on my ass!). And the bun ... it was buttered and obviously browned on the same grill-top on which my burger'd been cooked. Très bon! (One of them Food Network travelling dickheads would've been very impressed if'n he'd been dining beside me, indeed).

Oh, I washed my burger down with a draft Yazoo beer, and I drank me another draft Yazoo beer when a well-dressed fellow Gold-Rusher bought me and every near-the-bar parron a drink of my/our choice. I ain't countin' on anything like that ever happening to me at the Gold Rush again. However, you can count on me eating another Gold Rush jalapeño cheeseburger in the very near future ... December 1, before the Billy Joe Shaver show.

You're invited to come with.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Django sez ...

A Man's Gotta Eat has kinda been on hiatus the past couple o' months. Not no more.

Stay tuned for daily updates ...

The return of Uncle Bud's

My heart sank a bit when I read this:

The rumor is true: Uncle Bud's will take up permanent residence in Nolensville.

Co-owner Craig Dever has signed a lease with property owner Vern Patterson to put an Uncle Bud's restaurant where Martin's BBQ Joint now operates. The timetable for the restaurant transition is a little muddy, so stay tuned. Once Martin's vacates, Uncle Bud's plans to set up its familiar trailer out front and will be open for business from 4 to 8 p.m. everyday. Meanwhile, Dever and crew will be setting up shop inside — moving in fryers, grills and décor, which is somewhat similar to Martin's décor.

Never fear, Martin's BBQ ain't closin'. It's just moving to more spacious digs.

That said, I'm more than a little indifferent about the return of Uncle Bud's. For those who don't know, Uncle Buds's is best known in these parts for its all-you-can-eat catfish 'n' fixins spread. At its apex in the early 90s, Uncle Bud's had a dozen or so restaurants operating in Nashville and Middle Tennessee. When the last Uncle Bud's went belly-up, well, I figured that was the end of Uncle Bud's.

I never cared much for anything that was served at Uncle Bud's. (I ate there many times -- more than I like to admit, actually -- but it was almost always at the insistence of family or friends who, thank God, picked up the tab.) The catfish was greasy; the white beans were from-a-can, and the hush puppies were from-a-mix; and the cole slaw ... well, let's just say that the cole slaw wasn't anywhere near as good as my Granny Ruby's cole slaw.

Now, Uncle Buds' wasn't all bad. They could serve up a fine plate of frog legs ... sometimes. Frog legs ain't chicken legs, lemme tell you. Leave 'em in a deep fryer two secends too long and they get hard as a rock. I never had bad frog legs at the I-40 Uncle Bud's; however, I had bad frog legs more than once at the I-24 Uncle Bud's, more than once. "Sometimes," indeed.

You can rest assured that I'll be visiting the new Martin's as soon as it opens. The new Uncle Bud's?

Unless you're paying, I won't be goin' there any time soon. So there.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Connecticut, By Rocky Patel

The state of Connecticut is widely respected amongst cigar-smokers due to the fact that a lot of domestic and semi-domestic premium cigars are wrapped in leaves that were grown in the Nutmeg State.

When you head south on I-91 outta Hartford, you pass lots of red barns in which Connecticut's famed cigar wrappers are cured. And if you're a cigar-lover like me, you reckon what it'd be like to own one of them red barns. My, what I could do with a barn of cigar wrapping leaves. I digress ...

I recently unwrapped and smoked another cigar from my Cigar International haul, this time a Rocky Patel Connecticut (RPC) toro .

Verdict on my RPC cigar: It was exceptionally mild, and it was a very fine smoke. Each puff tasted of cream-tempered black coffee, and not once was my tongue burned whilst smoking it (even though I smoked it down to an inch-and-a-half nub, which I almost always do).

RPC is a fine, fine cigar brand, and I just now placed an order for s small box of toros to replace the toro I already smoked. Ask nicely and I'll give you one.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Step over to Donelson and fetch Fletcher's pizza, pasta, and ...

Back in the mid-90s, I played in a sandlot baseball league in Donelson. It was my chance to re-live my glory days of pitching for a local high school, made even more glorious by the fact that I was playing with guys who were former college and minor-league baseball players. One of 'em even showed me how to throw a screwball ... and my elbow still hurts to this day 'cause of it.

That said, THE after-game haunt for me and my fellow base-ballers was Fletcher's Pizza. At the time, Fletcher's was located in an old strip mall on the corner of McGavock Pike and Lebanon Road. Six bucks would get you all the pizza, spaghetti and salad you could eat, and five bucks would get you a pitcher of beer (I think the options then were Bud, Bud Light, and Miller Lite). We went mostly for the beer, so I don't remember much about the quality of the pizza back then.

Don't waste your time looking for that strip mall. Ten or twelve years ago it was torn down to make way for a Walgreen's. (A feller could write a lengthy essay about parcels in Nashville that were torn down to make way for chain drugstores.) Fletcher's moved into a vacant building on Old Lebanon Road which, if memory serves, was a Hardee's back in the day. For years I've been threatening to give the "new" Fletcher's a try. I finally -- finally -- made my way over there last week.

Fletcher's surely will never win any awards for its pizza, mainly because the crust has a too-crispy-'cause-it's-a-frozen-crust taste to it. The toppings are pretty good, however, and there are a half-dozen different toppings options on the buffet (the pepperoni 'n' sausage and the pepperoni, sausage, onions, peppers, and mushrooms were standouts).

If you're looking for a reason to hit Fletcher's buffet, go for the spaghetti and the cole slaw -- yes, cole slaw. The meat sauce has a rich, slow-simmered flavor, and it's loaded with Italian sausage. In addition, fresh spaghetti noodles are frequently placed on the buffet, so you don't have to worry about getting mushy, overcooked pasta (which is usually a hallmark of buffet spaghetti).

Now, about that cole slaw ...

I don't know what possessed the folks at Fletcher's to put cole slaw on their buffet, but I'm certainly glad they did. It's mayo-based, with crisp cabbage and plenty of carrots, and it tastes a lot like my grandmother's cole slaw. That right there is enough to make me go back ... indeed.

Fletcher's Pizza
2715 Old Lebanon Rd
Nashville, TN 37214

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ain't it funny ...?!

During the one and only episode of Green Acres that I ever watched in my life, Eva Gabor was accused o' ****in' up a pot o' "hot water soup."

Maybe I don't remember that episode right (I'm pretty sure I do); however, I couldn't help but think 'bout it when I seen this comic strip in a newspaper in Alabama some two months ago:

[Click the pic for a better view]

Saturday, October 17, 2009

"Gimme $10 ..."

Gimme $10 and I'll make enough macaroni and cheese -- creamy noodles and cheese with one hell of a crispy crust -- to feed a dozen folks. And nobody will be asking for seconds, 'cause there won't be enough left for seconds.

I'll bet none of the mac 'n' cheese-making-chefs mentioned in the following article can make an equally bold statement, indeed:

Mac 'n' Cheese for Hipsters

Monday, October 12, 2009



-- Homer Simpson, "Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy"

The Tennessean recently published one Lynda Cameron-Bayer's father's (!) enchladas recipe, which I tried ce soir. Here 'tis (my comments follow):

Dad's Enchiladas


4 cups shredded cheese (I recommend extra sharp cheddar, but a blend is also delicious.)
1 medium onion, diced small
2 small cans tomato sauce
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
Dash hot sauce (to taste)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
1/2 teaspoons crushed garlic (to taste)
1/2 cup water or chicken broth
12 corn tortillas


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine cheeses and onion and set aside.

In a large skillet on medium heat, combine the tomato sauce, cumin, chili powder, hot sauce, salt and pepper, garlic and water (or broth). Let simmer for a few minutes with a nice rolling bubble. Turn sauce down to low heat.

Ladle enough sauce into a 9-by-13-inch pan to cover bottom. Place tortilla in sauce in skillet to coat it all over then pull it from sauce with tongs (it will be hot). Place it in sauce-covered pan and spoon cheese into the middle. Roll it up, seam side down (it should be cool enough by now). Be sure to get the edges moist, as they tend to dry in the baking process if you don't.

Continue with this process until pan is full. Ladle leftover sauce from the skillet onto the enchiladas. If it seems too thick, whisk in a little more water while it's still in the skillet.

Sprinkle enchiladas with leftover cheese and onion mixture. Cover in tin foil and bake for 30 minutes. Take foil off and brown for 10 more minutes. It should be bubbly and delicious.

Note: All of the spices in the ingredients are more or less to your own personal taste.

I followed Ms. Cameron-Bayer's dad's recipe to a "T." (The only liberty I took was a fresh cilantro garnish -- see above pic). I'm here to say that it was very, very tasty. If I cook up a batch of Ol' Man Cameron's, er, Ol' Man Bayer's, enchiladas again, however, I'll use a mild cheddar cheese, and I'll throw some cooked chicken into my corn tortillas as well. Stay tuned for pics ...

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Two of my bestest friends in the world are expats from the U.K. who own a very successful pool-'n'-spa biz in Nashville. (If you live within 100 miles of Nashville and you have a television, you've seen their ads.) Some 10+ years ago they turned me on to British-made chocolate, and I ain't looked back.

Monday, October 05, 2009

I'll smoke 'em 'cause I got 'em

Back in August, I took advantage of Cigars International 's "20 Assorted Cigars for $20" offer in Investor's Business Daily. I figured it'd be a cheap way to fill my humidor.

The first smoke I, well, smoked from my 20-for-$20 sample was a 5 Vegas 6" torpedo:

Said smoke not only burned -- for some 10 minutes -- evenly, it left a very subtle "burn" on my tongue; and each puff had hints of dark chocolate and coffee.

"This was an eight-dollar cigar!" I said to myself when it finished. Damn Cigars International for selling it to me for a buck!!!

Just so you know, I paired my 5 Vegas with a pint of Guinness, but I imagine it would go just as well with a glass of red wine ... and a steak.

NOTE: Stay tuned for more smoke reviews from my CI Collection ...

New Seasoned Flour in town

As much as I like Kentucky Kernel flour for seasoning chicken and chops, I have a new favorite:

[What you see there is a boneless pork chop breaded in House Autry "pork" seasoning and fried to juicy-on-the-inside-crisp-on-the-outside perfection. Oh, it was good.]

What sold me on House Autry is this: It's loaded with black pepper. Not enough to offend the Frank Costanzas of the world ("Again with the pepper? What do you gotta use all the pepper for?"), mind you, but enough to make your Southern-food-loving palate stand up and take notice, for sure. It is the best pre-packaged meat breading with which I've yet breaded meat.

So there.