Wednesday, March 31, 2010
That Manishevitz marble cake looked real pretty for about 45 minutes here at Chez Allison before it was all gone. I went back to Publix to get another'ne ... and I got skunked.
Maybe next year!
During my two-week stint in Montréal, I was introduced to poutine. If you've never heard of poutine, here's what you should know: It's a specialty dish in Montréal, and it consists of thick-cut fried potatoes, brown gravy, and cheese curds. Oh, and a small order of 'em comes on a hubcap-sized plate.
I've eaten some very unhealthy things over the years ... but the large order of poutine I ate in Montréal has to be the most unhealthy, indeed.
I couldn't help but think about my experience(s) with poutine when I read this ...
Field House Pizza and Pub has written a dubious new chapter in the history of this city's signature dish. "We made something very unhealthy even unhealthier," co-owner Tom Hart says.
That's saying a mouthful, considering the dish he sought to outdo: the horseshoe sandwich, a platter-size, open-face Springfield original, consisting of bread, meat and a pile of French fries smothered in a thick cheese sauce.
Field House adds an extra layer of grease by stuffing the meat and fries into a tortilla, which stands in for the bread, and dunking the mass in a deep-fryer before ladling on the cheese sauce. The resulting colossus, called the "Shoe Burrito," weighs in at 2,700 calories—the equivalent of five Big Macs.
"It's a horseshoe town," says Rick Sennings, Mr. Hart's partner.
Read the rest here.
Friday, March 26, 2010
An article in the March 3 Metromix Nashville tells us 'bout absinthe ...
Just mention the word "absinthe" and peoples' minds turn immediately to the urban legends they've heard about the spirit described as "the green fairy." It'll make you hallucinate. It'll send you into a murderous rage. It's illegal in the United States.
To which we say: false, false and, as of three years ago March 5, false.
The history of absinthe is as complex as the spirit itself. Originating in Switzerland as a distilled product of anise, fennel and absinthium wormwood, absinthe became extremely popular in France in the latter 19th/early 20th century, thanks to its popularity with the bohemian culture of the day.
Read the rest here.
After watching an episode of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations program recently, in which he tried absinthe during a visit to France, I purchased a small bottle of Absente absinthe at my favorite local liquor store. I can say without equivocation that it was the last bottle of absinthe I'll ever buy.
Absinthe smells like prescription cough medicine; and straight-up it tastes like prescription cough medicine with wee bit o' liquorice thrown in for "flavor." I prepared my absinthe just like it said on the bottle, i.e., pouring it over sugar and adding cold water, but it didn't improve the flavor, at all.
Honestly, I don't know how in God's name Van Gogh et al. drank the stuff back in the day, let alone drinking it to excess. To borrow a line from Bart Simpson, absinthe is one craptacular concoction.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
John Folse is one of my favorite "celebrity" chefs. And a sauce piquant, whether it's made with chicken, game meat, or seafood, has long been one of my favorite Cajun/Creole dishes.
Here's a great seafood sauce piquant recipe, courtesy of Chef Folse ...
[Note: One trick I came up with a long time ago is to add a little tomato juice (a third of a cup or a half-cup, depending on the size of your sauce piquant) to your sauce picuant for a little added tang and sweetness.]
Louisiana Seafood Sauce Piquant
1 pound (21-25 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat
1 pint select oysters in liquid
1 pound redfish, cubed
½ cup oil
½ cup flour
1 cup diced onions
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced bell peppers
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 tbsp minced jalapeños
2 whole bay leaves
½ teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon basil
1 ½ quarts fish stock
1 cup sliced green onions
1 cup chopped parsley
salt and cracked black pepper to taste
The foundation of sauce piquante definitely came from the early Spanish. Since then, the popular dish has been altered by the Cajuns of bayou country and is often made with seafood.
In a 1-gallon heavy-bottomed saucepot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Whisk in flour, stirring constantly until dark brown roux is achieved. Add onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic. Sauté 3 – 5 minutes or until vegetables are wilted. Stir in diced tomatoes and jalapeños. Blend well then add bay leaves, thyme and basil. Slowly add fish stock, one ladle at a time, stirring constantly until all is incorporated. Bring to a low boil, reduce to simmer and cook 30 minutes. Add additional fish stock if necessary to retain volume. Add fish, shrimp, oysters and oyster liquid and continue to cook 5 – 10 additional minutes. Add green onions and parsley. Season to taste using salt and pepper. When shrimp are pink and curled, carefully fold in lump crabmeat. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve over hot white rice or pasta.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Chess pie, after all, is a Southerner's crème brûlée. The spoon cracks a thin yet crisp toasted-amber layer before slipping through buttery egg goo and gently bumping against firm crust. It's like pecan pie without the nuts, the syrupy sweetness balanced by a touch of cornmeal, vinegar or buttermilk.
Although we claim it as our own, chess pie isn't necessarily Southern, and, like its filling, its history is murky. In his book Southern Food, local author and historian John Egerton said the British had a "cheese pie" with similar ingredients. Older Southern cookbooks included similar pies with names like transparent pie and Jefferson Davis custard.
Read the rest here.
The Tennessean's article includes a list of restaurants and stores in which you can purchase quality chess pie. I'm chagrined that Murfreesboro's famous Kleer-Vu restaurant was not included. I say this with some authority, having consumed at least 100 slices of chess pie therein over the years: Kleer-Vu serves the best chess pie around.
Let me know when you want to go and I'll prove it to you.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
I tell you, the more I hear about the so-called "ghost chili," the more I want to try one ...
The Indian military has a new weapon against terrorism: the world's hottest chili.
After conducting tests, the military has decided to use the thumb-sized "bhut jolokia," or "ghost chili," to make tear gas-like hand grenades to immobilize suspects, defense officials said Tuesday.
The bhut jolokia was accepted by Guinness World Records in 2007 as the world's spiciest chili. It is grown and eaten in India's northeast for its taste, as a cure for stomach troubles and a way to fight the crippling summer heat.
It has more than 1,000,000 Scoville units, the scientific measurement of a chili's spiciness. Classic Tabasco sauce ranges from 2,500 to 5,000 Scoville units, while jalapeno peppers measure anywhere from 2,500 to 8,000.
... I just hope I don't do this:
Monday, March 22, 2010
Japanese bureaucrats and seafood industry execs are taking drastic steps to arrest the decline in fish consumption. For example, one seafood trade group has enlisted one of Japan's most famous rock bands, Gyoko, to sing the praises - literally - of eating fish. Here're some lyrics from Gyoko's "Fish Heaven":
Fish, fish, fish
You get smart when you eat fish
Smart, smart, smart
Fish, fish, fish
You get healthy when you eat fish
Healthy, healthy, healthy
Doesn't that sound like something from a Simpsons episode?!
Read the entire article here.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Well, Caesar's hasn't closed; it's just changed hands. Kind of a bummer 'cause I always enjoyed chatting with Caesar when I visited.
I had hoped to do a review of Caesar's back around the first of the year, but I had a problem with my digital camera and it just never happened. I did eventually retrieve the pics I took at Caesar's during my most recent visit ... but now that it's under new management, I'm gonna have to go back (as if I needed an excuse to eat at Caesar's.
All I'll say at this point is this: if the pizza on the Caesar's lunch buffet is as good as it was, and if they still serve those wonderful meatballs, I anticipate giving them a favorable review. Here's a pic to tide you over until I can get back:
Caesar's Ristorante Italiano
71 White Bridge Road
Nashville, Tennessee 37205
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
A majority of the recipes called for meatballs to be fried before stewing in a tomato sauce. Some, however, called for meatballs to be baked for a bit before getting tossed in tomato sauce. I tried all the fried 'n' baked recipes ... and with each one, it was like biting into golf balls made of dense, dry meat.
Then I found a meatball recipe which called for the little round buggers -- made o' ground beef, ground pork, fresh breadcrumbs, eggs, salt pepper, fresh basil and parsley -- to be slowly poached in a savory tomato "meat sauce." I tried it once, and it became my preferred way to cook meatballs.
Unfortunately, I can't recall the cookbook which inspired me so. Oh, well. Click here for proof of the inspiration.
All that said, this Slashfood.com story caught my attention ce soir:
Take approximately 327 pounds of beef chuck, season it and cook it over a day and a half. The end result? One humongous meatball that should beat the world record set by a restaurant in New Hampshire last November. At least that's what a group of staff and students at Glen Oaks Community College in Michigan are hoping.
On Monday, after cooking for 32 hours, the behemoth was removed from the oven and placed on a scale (by a forklift). It came in at a little over 400 pounds, but that included the rack and wrapping.
Just in case you were concerned about people surreptitiously placing their chubby fingers on the scale to jack up the weight, have no fear. The weigh in was overseen by official witnesses for the Guinness World Records. (Who knew that could be a job?)
That meatball mighta been big; but there ain't no way it was as flavorful or juicy as a meatball that got plucked from a pot o' Joltin' Django's savory "Sunday gravy." Indeed.
Truth be told, I'll bet that ****in' thing was hard as a rock, hard as a rock ... and then some (apologies to BulletBoys).
Monday, March 15, 2010
A dish that good-looking ain't hard to re-create:
Get you a package of Italian sausages (I prefer spicy Johnsonvilles). Use a really sharp knife to cut 'em into inch-long slices. With the same knife, chop up a couple o' green peppers and a couple o' onions (white onions, preferably). Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a non-stick skillet and brown your sausages over medium heat, turning frequently. When the sausages are cooked through, remove 'em to drain on paper towels and pour off all but about a tablespoon of the accumulated grease in the skillet.
Throw the onions and peppers into your skillet and cook 'til the onions are clear, 'bout 5 minutes. Then throw your sausages back in, along with a healthy pinch of sweet basil ... and an even healthier pinch of red pepper flakes. Stir it all up and enjoy the hell outta it.
With all that said, it's my duty as a bloggin' foodie (!) to say this:
Joltin' Django's sausages 'n' onions 'n' peppers are damn good, but they're not as damn good -- perhaps I should say my stuff ain't as ***damn good -- as the sausages 'n' onions 'n' peppers served on the buffet at Angelo's Picnic Pizza.
And, as I'm very often wont to say, that ain't no shit, neither.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
With all due respect to Slashfood.com, I seen this on AgDay two weeks ago:
What's worse than having to endure a long, hard winter? Enduring a long, hard winter as a crawfish.
Crawfish hate the cold. When the temperature dips, they respond in kind, burrowing into the mud and refusing to eat. That means the few critters that have wriggled into farmers' traps this season are too puny to impress the many Louisianans who traditionally feast on crawfish during Lent.
"Mother Nature's throwing us a curve ball, and the trouble is she keeps throwing them," says Stephen Minville, director of the Louisiana Crawfish Farmers Association.
Minville's 2010 harvest stands at about 30 percent of his typical year-to-date haul, with the most successful farmers topping out at 40 percent. "Optimism is running out," Minville says.
Read the rest here.
I hate to think what my annual Spring crawfish boil's gonna cost me this year, indeed.
Friday, March 12, 2010
I met up with one of my b'iness partners at Rudino's ce soir. Restaurant-reporting wasn't foremost on my mind, so ... please to enjoy this blast from the past from the AMGE archives:
I've said it before and I'll say it again: the quality of a grinder/hogie/sub is almost wholly dependent on quality bread. The bread at Rudino's is is very quality, and then some.
Now, thick and doughy Rudino's bread is not. Instead, it is thin enough to be crispy on the outside, with a firm middle that don't become mushy when pressed against meat and condiments; and it is just thick enough to hold a half-pound of meat, vegetables and cheese without falling apart in a feller's hands.
As for my steak sandwich, it began with Rudino's signature crispy bread ... turned out, if you will. The overturned top-half of the bread was served with a big-assed portion of browned Swiss cheese. On the bottom bread, if you will, there was a pile of grilled beef, sautéed onions and green peppers, and fresh mushrooms.
I smashed the sandwich together, after adding a goodly portion of provided hot sauce, and I chowed down. This is my verdict:
The meat, cheese and vegetables I et on my Rudino's sub, er, grinder, last night did not set the world on fire. However, the bread was so very crispy - and the Swiss cheese was so expertly melted - I kept telling myself:
"This is a damn-fine sandwich ... and I can't wait to eat another one."
Thursday, March 11, 2010
According to a South Korean study set to be published in the May 2010 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, booze that's been brewed or distilled with enriched oxygen can effectively alleviate hangover side-effects. Science Daily reports "high-oxygen water can enhance the survival ability of mice and fatigue recovery" of mice that hit the bottle. The South Korean study tested 49 volunteers and discovered that elevated oxygen concentrations in alcoholic drinks accelerates the metabolism and elimination of alcohol. Here's a pull-quote direct from Science Daily littered with smartypants scientific jargon:
Results showed that elevated, dissolved oxygen concentrations in alcoholic drinks can accelerate the metabolism and elimination of alcohol. For example, the time to reach 0.000 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for the 240 ml of 19.5 percent alcoholic beverage with 20 ppm dissolved oxygen concentration was 20.0 min faster than with 8 ppm (257.7 min). The time to reach 0.000 percent BAC for the 360 ml of 19.5 percent alcoholic beverage with 20 ppm (334.5 min) and 25 ppm (342.1 min) dissolved oxygen concentration was 23.3 min and 27.1 min faster than with 8 ppm, respectively.
"The oxygen-enriched alcohol beverage reduces plasma alcohol concentrations faster than a normal dissolved-oxygen alcohol beverage does."..."This could provide both clinical and real-life significance. The oxygen-enriched alcohol beverage would allow individuals to become sober faster, and reduce the side effects of acetaldehyde without a significant difference in alcohol's effects. Furthermore, the reduced time to a lower BAC may reduce alcohol-related accidents."
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Men's Health magazine is on the side of the joke-tellers ...
You’d think that a breaded lump of chicken would be pretty simple. Mostly, it would contain bread and chicken. But the McNugget and its peers at other fast-food restaurants are much more complicated creatures than that. The "meat" in the McNugget alone contains seven ingredients, some of which are made up of yet more ingredients. (Nope, it’s not just chicken. It’s also such nonchicken-related stuff as water, wheat starch, dextrose, safflower oil, and sodium phosphates.) The "meat" also contains something called "autolyzed yeast extract." Then add another 20 ingredients that make up the breading, and you have the industrial chemical—we mean, fast-food meal—called the McNugget.
Monday, March 08, 2010
I hate to toot my own horn, but I've become an expert on cookin' a pork roast in a slow-cooker. Toot and toot. Here's what I do:
I get me a pork butt and season it - liberally - on all sides with mild and hot paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper. I rub in the spices real good and let the butt sit (!) for about 30 minutes. Then I throw it into my slow-cooker, along with a large chopped onion and a couple o' chopped carrots, and I pour in enough water to fill the slow-cooker halfway. I put the dial on "low" and I let the whole shebang simmer, simmer, simmer (apologies to the late Justin Wilson) for 8-9 hours.
Now, when my pork butt is cooked and all tender, I take out a goodly amount and shred it:
Yesterday, however, I kicked it up a notch (no apologies to the individual who was once called an "Ewok" by Chef Anthony Bourdain) by using Pappy's XXX White Lightin' sauce:
I promised you a review of Pappy's XXX BBQ sauce, and here 'tis:
I do not like sweet BBQ sauces ... this regular AMGE readers know. Pappy's sauce is sweet, but the sweetness is tempered by an almost perfect balance of vinegar, black pepper and Kentucky bourbon. Thus, it ain't too sweet, and it don't burn your tongue with too much bourbon flavor -- despite its label boasting that it has as much alcohol as the Feds "will allow."
Sauer's will always be my favorite store-bought BBQ sauce, followed very, very closely by Stubb's. Pappy's XXX White Lightin' is a "show" on my Best BBQ Sauce list right now; but that might change given that all Pappy's products are on sale at Kroger as we speak.
Stay tuned ...
Sunday, March 07, 2010
Saturday, March 06, 2010
If you like Cajun/creole cookin' like Joltin' Django likes Cajun/creole cookin' (and that's a lot), I urge you to sign up for Louisiana Cookin's weekly e-mail newsletter. Each week you'll find special offers on Cajun and creole cookbooks, as well as a bunch of great reciepes. Like this:
1 loaf French bread
Olive oil to taste
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound crawfish tails
1 cup chopped green onions
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon white Worcestershire sauce
½ cup Louisiana Fish Fry Products Rémoulade Sauce
½ cup Italian salad dressing
12 ounces soft cream cheese
Cut the French bread into thin slices and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush the bread with olive oil. Toast at 500 degrees until the bread is light brown. While the bread is toasting, melt the butter in a saucepan. Add crawfish and green onions and sauté until onions are tender and clear, about 10 minutes. Add salt, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, rémoulade sauce, and salad dressing. Mix well and set aside to cool. Place the cream cheese on a plate; cover with plastic wrap. With a rolling pin, roll the cream cheese to cover the bottom of the plate. Discard plastic wrap. Spread the crawfish mixture over the cream cheese. Serve with toasted French bread.
Tip: This dish is best served at room temperature. If it is served cold the cream cheese will be stiff.
Friday, March 05, 2010
Thank God the folks in Atlanta came to their senses and gave us Coca-Cola® Classic, n'est-ce pas?!
Thursday, March 04, 2010
I'll tell you, a barbeque sauce that's spiked with Kentucky bourbon (3% alcohol by volume) sounds pretty good to me! I'm going to locate some over the weekend and, hopefully, I'll have a review sometime next week.
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
A friend gave me some Rendezvous Famous Seasoning recently and I tried it on some pork chops tonight. As much as I don't like Rendezvous the Resturant, I gotta say that I enjoyed Rendezvous Seasoning very much.
If you like lots of sweet paprika and garlic flavor, Rendezvous Seasoning is a wonderful accompaniment to grilled meat. To wit:
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
White BBQ sauce. I've had it - a lot of it, in fact - and for the record, I don't like it.
If you've never had, or even heard of, white BBQ sauce, you should know that it's a mayo-based sauce, spiked with vinegar and spices, that's quite popular in Alabama.
The first white sauce I ever consumed came from Nashville's famed Hog Heaven, which is owned by Alabama native John Cowan. That was about 15 years ago. In the intervening years, I've had white sauce in a dozen different BBQ joints in Alabama and South Tennessee. And each time I ate a pile o' pulled pork garnished with the stuff, I became more convinced that the Good Lord never meant for mayonnaise to be poured over smoked pig. (And I say this as a feller who loves him some mayo.)
That said, Slashfood.com tells us about a new gourmet white sauce, developed by the aforementioned John Cowan, that may be coming to a store shelf near you:
A Birmingham restaurateur is putting a gourmet spin on a barbecue tradition that's thus far remained fiercely regional.
Sweet Bones Alabama, a downtown 'cue joint, last week began bottling its version of Alabama white sauce, a mayonnaise-based concoction pioneered in 1925 by Decatur's legendary pitmaster Big Bob Gibson, who liberally slathered the stuff on chicken. The sauce has since become a favorite dressing for just about anything fried or smoked in North Alabama, including pickles, tomatoes and venison.
"It's a very versatile sauce," Sweet Bones' owner John Cowan says.
While many white sauce fans make their own batches of Big Bob's famous sauce – an authorized cookbook published last year revealed the exact proportions of mayonnaise to pepper to vinegar -- Cowan thinks he's improved on the original. Among the first artisanal barbecue sauce makers to tackle white sauce, Cowan's crafted a recipe he describes as "much more complex, with more layered flavors."
In a somewhat incestuous stroke that would likely stun barbecue purists, Cowan's white sauce includes a splash of his North Carolina vinegar sauce.
But Cowan's no stranger to the white sauce game, having introduced the condiment to Nashville back in 1978. A foodie buddy of his had mentioned the sauce in a "have you eaten" one-upmanship contest, so Cowan drove to Alabama to try it. White sauce was soon on the menu at his barbecue restaurant, Hog Heaven.
Still, Cowan concedes white sauce's lingering exoticism might inhibit its sales beyond Birmingham – even if the bottle looks pretty.
"To be honest," he says of the traditional preparation, "it really doesn't sound appealing at all."
Doesn't sound appealing, indeed.
Monday, March 01, 2010
I like crawfish and I like pie; and for the record, I can't f'ing wait to try this recipe from Louisiana Cooking:
Louisiana Crawfish Pies
1 stick salted butter
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 cup finely chopped green bell peppers
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in 1 cup water (a slurry)
1 pound peeled Louisiana crawfish tails
1/4 cup chopped green onions, green part only
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
6 3-inch pie shells or 1 9-inch pie shell, pre-baked according to package instructions
Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and bell peppers and cook, stirring, until soft and lightly golden, about 6 minutes.
Add salt, cayenne, black pepper, tomato paste, paprika and 1/2 cup water. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes.
Add cornstarch and water. Cook mixture, stirring often, until it is smooth and slightly thick. Add crawfish and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add green onions and parsley and adjust seasoning to taste.
Remove mixture from heat and cool. Spoon mixture into the pre-baked pie shells. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F until the mixture is bubbly, 8 to 10 minutes for small pie shells or 15 to 18 minutes for a 9-inch shell.