Toasted Guajillo Salsa

October 12, 2012

Ok, so it’s not really a salsa in the way that us gringo’s think of salsa in the traditional way. Salsa means sauce and this is more of a sauce than a salsa, at least to americans. I pulled this right off the June issue of Bon Appetit as it looked to good not to replicate. Douse (sparingly) on tacos, burritos, pizza…whatever and enjoy.

Ingredients
4 ounces dried guajillo chiles (about 18), stemmed
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder

Preparation

-Heat a large dry cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, toast chiles until slightly puffed and fragrant, 15–20 seconds per side. Let cool.

-Using kitchen scissors and working over a medium bowl, cut chiles into thin rings, reserving seeds. Cover with 2 cups very hot water and let soak for 10 minutes.

-Meanwhile, heat the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; cook, turning often, until tender and skin is lightly charred, about 8 minutes. Let cool. Peel; trim ends.
Transfer chiles with seeds and liquid to a blender; add roasted garlic, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, and remaining ingredients. Pulse until a thick, coarse purée forms. Season with salt.

Homemade seitan thrown into some tacos

October 5, 2012

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The directions below were lifted off the Bob’s Red Mill website being that it was the product I used to make this. It should be available at Whole Foods or online.

2 cups Water
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Marjoram
1/2 tsp Sage
2 cups GLUTEN FLOUR

Broth
2 Tb Soy Sauce
2 Tb Molasses
6 cups Water
Directions

Bring to a boil the water for the broth, molasses and soy sauce.

Mix together the gluten flour and spices. Add water to mixture and stir into a sponge-like dough. This should not be excessively wet. Knead dough a minute to make dough tougher and more elastic. Cut into 2 x 2 inch pieces and place into boiling broth. Cook in broth for about 1 hour, lowering heat as needed. Drain and use seitan for a stir-fry, sandwiches, stews and more.

Makes 12 servings.

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Yesterday was National Taco Day (I know, horrible that I didn’t even make a post about it…and I’m the taco hunter!) so for dinner I made some tacos up with this seitan. By itself, the seitan is lacking. It’s a little rubbery and doesn’t have a ton of flavor. I think some tweaking to the recipe is definitely in order. Especially adding some authentic Mexican spices.

My tacos consisted of some chopped grilled onion, cilantro, a touch of cotija cheese and a light drizzle of Whole Foods Chipotle Ranch salad dressing to add a little fat to the otherwise extremely healthy and reasonably light meal. I tossed the corn tortillas in a skillet for about 20 seconds on each side to warm and char just a bit. For a quick vegetarian meal, it was pretty tasty. A side of my guacamole rounded the evening out.

Check it out and let me know what changes you made to the recipe…if any.

Braised pork belly tacos

October 2, 2012

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A few weeks ago I received an email that the local New York Butcher Shoppe had gotten in some pork belly. This rang like dinner bell in my head for some pork belly tacos. I’ve had them a few times around town but never had I cooked them so in the car I went. I picked up a piece that was about 3/4 oz. and coated it with some salt and sugar to marinate for a few hours. It only took about an hour to cook and during that time I whipped up some BBQ sauce made from a ketchup base and some locally brewed Porter. I wanted some Asian flair so I made some cabbage slaw with a little rice wine vinegar and toasted the tortillas before serving. As you can see below the results were nothing short of extraodinary visual and for taste. If you can find the pork belly this dish is a must-do.

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Pork Belly

Ingredients

1 lb. Pork
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Kosher salt

Blend salt and sugar together and rub onto dry pork belly. Cover and let marinate for at least 4 hours, overnight if possible

Asian Slaw

Ingredients

1 carrot, julienned
1 cucumber, julienned
1 radish, julienned
1 Serrano pepper, sliced
1/4 cup cilantro, barely chopped
Splash of rice wine vinegar

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and let sit at least 30 minutes before serving.

BBQ Sauce

2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup water
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon mustard powder
¼ cup canned chipotle peppers
1 cups Old Chub or similar beer

In a 2-quart pot, heat butter and sauté onions until they’re soft. Add the remaining ingredients except for the beer and simmer 20 minutes. Add the beer and simmer until it thickens to your likeness. Adjust seasoning as needed.

Enjoy this, it’s a fantastic indulgent recipe.

Food Truck Festival in Greensboro

September 28, 2012

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Last weekend some enterprising individuals brought some of the regions food trucks from Charlotte and Raleigh to the Greensboro area for a food truck festival to the Spring Garden and Chapman intersection. I don’t know if the organizors expected it do be as successful but man it was slammed! It looks like this is becoming a normal thing to the area, which brings some much needed innovation to the GSO food scene.

There were about 12 trucks serving burritos, sausages in baguettes, cakes, ice cream, sandwiches, dumplings, bbq, do I need to keep going? There was also music going at the Blind Tiger and at Sessions. Some random folks were hawking their ‘wares. All in all it was a really cool scene. I wish I would have brought more of a hunger to try more things.

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Natty Greens was pouring some beers and there was a winery pouring vino. The blind tiger and Sessions were also serving beers. I thought I was going to have a bunch of smaller meals at multiple trucks but the lines were just too long and the serving sizes were pretty large. I found myself at the 1618 food truck for the some Korean braised pork tacos (what else?) with a side of truffle fries. It was fantastic and well worth the $8 bucks. Crappy pics, but I was shooting a pic with my phone while palming a beer and balancing all of it in a crowd. Did I mention there were hundreds of people here? Those hundreds of people made the lines for food 20 minutes plus.

Below is a link to the food trucks that will be set up during lunch and dinner hours during the week. It’ll be located by the Grasshopper stadium around Eugene and bellemeade streets.

Check it out!

http://www.greensboro-nc.gov/index.aspx?page=3839

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Spring-Garden-Food-Truck-Festival/405813872800174

BBQ Tofu Tacos

September 12, 2012

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I made this recipe for my wife as a substitute for the Pork Belly Tacos I’ll be posting shortly. Although I was sucking down braised pork belly, these were pretty damn delicious too. It’s straight up food truck style too. I started with a BBQ sauce I adapted from my fathers recipe and added some Oskar Blues Old Chub beer. It’s a fantastic mix of sweet, spicy and savory and works well on…just about everything.

Outside of preparing the BBQ sauce this meal takes no time to prepare, if of course you dont count the 45 minutes it was in the oven. Oven you say? this means you can easily fit in a couple of drinks and have time to whip up some fresh salsa. The drinks will do double duty to make the meal taste better should you burn it.

In this version I also used an off-the-shelf coleslaw mix that’s readily available at most grocers. Mine came without any sauce to it, just cabbage and carrots so it makes a perfect base to season with a little rice wine vinegar and some spicy peppers should your taste buds be looking for a little bit more heat.

The Souse (spelled incorrectly on purpose)

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup water
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon mustard powder
¼ cup canned chipotle peppers
1 cup Old Chub or similar beer
Directions
-In a 2-quart pot, heat butter and sauté onions until they’re soft. Add the remaining ingredients except for the beer and simmer 20 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender or transfer to a blender and return to pot. Add the beer and simmer until the sauce begins to thicken. Adjust seasoning as needed and use however you want.
Pressing tofu. This is absolutely necessary if you want the tofu to retain any seasoning. It only takes about an hour so it needs to be done ahead of time and even a day ahead should you want to marinate it. Since tofu is a block of soy soaked in water it will repel marinades and sauces. Fold a paper towel and place it in the center of a deep dish, place tofu on top of the towel and set something weighted on top of the tofu, sauce pans work great. Let it sit for about an hour and pour off the water. You will see immediately the tofu block is drier and lighter. NOW you’re ready to cook up some amazing tofu. It’ll spatter a lot less if you fry it too.
To cook the tofu (in the oven) preheat your oven to 375* and line a cookie sheet or similar in aluminum foil. Spoon out a base layer of sauce and lay the slices of tofu on top. Then spoon more bbq sauce over top of the tofu. Put it in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour depending on how much you’re doing. These times are for one standard block of tofu sliced into pieces about 1/4″ thick.
In a very lightly oiled pan, cook the tortilla’s just to brown them slightly on each side. Add tofu and some slaw. Roll up and enjoy!

New cocktail in search of a name…EDIT: Indian Summer

September 11, 2012

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I was playing around with a bottle of Aperol in the kitchen tonight while cooking up some bbq tofu tacos (recipe to follow). I wanted to make something with some tequila similar to the Crimson Ghost recipe from last winter. I think I came about it with this take on a Negroni meets Crimson Ghost meets…whatever. It also needs a name. Everything I’ve come up with is a smash of lame cocktails and lacks inspiration (maybe I haven’t drank enough?). Anyway, it’s delightful. The flavors really work together and I could see making a few small substitutions to really brighten it up.

1 oz. Aperol (you could sub Campari but I’d lessen the amount as to not overpower the remaining ingredients)
3/4 oz. Gin
3/4 oz. Blanco Tequila (choose a fuerte’ tequila so it doesn’t get lost, I used Espolon. A repo like Espolon of Chinaco could do nice things as well.)
3/4 oz. Dolin Blanc Vermouth ( the sweet kind, NOT dry vermouth)
Twist of Lime
Dash of Angostura Bitters

It’s too bad summer is over as this is a great summer drink…Indian Summer is the name!

The Bourbon Trail

June 28, 2012

So this last thursday we embarked on the sacred bourbon trail roadtrip from Atlanta to Loiusville, I know you’re saying “what? that’s got nothing to do with Mexico”  and I would agree but if you’re in the southeast and/or a spirits enthusiast like myself, you have to spend at least a day on the trail. I did have some taco’s to make it legit…

My brother, author of the infamous Garry Owen Dining Facilty in Iraq review came along for the ride, as did two of our old roomates, one of which who led the NYC trip reviewed back in May. We had a pretty solid plan for the 4 days of our journey but also left some breathing room for side-trips and random “stop here’s”.

Our first distillery was Prichards in Kelso, Tn. It’s a smaller craft distiller with a fairly wide range of product from rums to whiskies and liqueurs. Outside of passing right by the facility due to practically no signage Prichards turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip. We went along on a tour that was highly informative, personal and finished with a killer tasting…of everything. There were no stingy pours here, and everyone except our designated driver thoroughly enjoyed it. Highlights included their Double-Barreled Bourbon, Chocolate Bourbon, and their duo of aged rums; “Private Stock” and “Fine Aged Rum”. I see some of these bottles making it into my collection so eventually I’ll do a more in-depth review.

We stopped in Fayetteville, Tn for some lunch at Ken’s Fast Foods and got to try the local favorite; The Slawburger. Ken’s was a great “local flavor” stop that you just don’t find anywhere but small towns. Ken himself popped out to ask “I’ve never seen you boys ’round here, are you visiting?”

Our next stop brought us to Nashville, the time change to central gave us an hour to drive around and get stuck in traffic and mobs of people heading to the Country Music Award something or another. That wasn’t our bag so we headed over to our 3.30 tour at Corsair Artisan a bit early. Housed in the beautiful brick warehouse that used to hold the Marathon Motors company until 1918 we had high hopes which were dashed quickly. The tour was anemic at best and took literally 6 minutes. Our guide seemed more interested in getting back into the air-conditioned bar room than spending any time detailing their facilities. After getting the cliff-notes tour we pulled up a seat at their tasting room bar and proceeded to taste their 5 flavors; Vanilla Bean Vodka, Gin-Head style  Gin, Spiced Rum, Un-aged Rye and the Triple Smoke Whiskey. My brother is a certified Gin-aholic so they also sampled us some Barrel-aged Gin. After the sampling we had them make a few cocktails with their wares, a gin and tonic with a bit too much tonic and a grapefruit based cocktail featuring their triple smoke whiskey and agave. I found this to be an excellent cocktail similar to a paloma but with smoke and peat added to the mix. We ended up buying a bottle of Gin and getting on the road to Louisville. On the drive everyone mentioned the disappointment with the tour. This could have been that we had just finished up with Prichard’s fantastic tour but it was more than that. We felt like we were shuffled along and didn’t get any of the personality that a small craft distiller would give. I expected this out of a Jim Beam or Jack Daniels but not the little guys.

Driving through Bowling Green we stopped at Smokey Pig BBQ where we chowed a plate of pulled pork and a beer before getting back on the road to Louisville. The next stop was the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert which we almost missed due to the time change BACK to eastern time. Luckily we only missed the first song. As usual the Peppers killed the show, with Josh easily picking up where John Frusciante left off. While the big improv jam sessions weren’t as good, Josh nailed every song and added his unique style. A stop a Third Street Dive for some beers and pool rounded out the evening and we headed back to the hotel, but not before some White Castle.

Friday we decided to skip the distilleries we had planned (Jim Beam, Makers Mark, Heaven Hill) to see some non-alcoholic sights which included the beautiful Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville Slugger Museum and betting on the ponies at Churchill Downs. I finally got my mint julep, although it was a premixed Early Times poured over ice with a sprig of mint…sucked. Before the ponies we ate lunch at the New Albanian Brewery in New Albany just across the river in Indiana. We had a killer meal that included Duck Wings (yes I said Duck wings), pork taco’s, a killer burger and some of the best fries I’ve ever had. Oh yeah the beers were pretty good too. Their Elector Imperial Red was a standout as was Hellbock and Hoptimus. Before heading back to Kentucky we stopped at a local bar, you know the kind where you get blank stares walking in the door and have a fear of siting in one of the regulars stools. A $5 pitcher later we hit the road and stopped for a Cuban (sandwich) and adult beverage at Habana Blue’s. The sandwich was fantastic but the Mojito’s and Caipirinha’s were premixed and didn’t attack your pallet with any fresh mint or lime.

That evening we happened upon a Greek festival for a few more beers and a Gyro before heading to Fourth Street Live for the Makers Mark Bar. While these overtly corporate drinking/eating venues aren’t typically our bag, we made an exception for Wet Willies which was a Savannah favorite being that we all lived there. Every one we’ve visited since has sucked so one drink later we left to start our next day.

Saturday was our distillery day. Bright and early we started at Four Roses. Their production was shut down for the summer but we still toured and tasted. It was a great tour that was indicative of the size of the distillery, not too big, not too small. Their grounds were beautiful with plenty of roses bushes and freshly manicured lawns. The Spanish architecture while somewhat out of place was equally as striking.

Just down the road was Wild Turkey, this was the largest tour we did and our first few of all the processes happening live as well as the barrel warehouses. The scale of everything going on here was worth the visit whether you enjoy WT or not. They have 30 warehouses…30 warehouses. Each fermentation batch holds 30,000 gallons of mash and yeast, did I mention they have 23 fermentation vats? They produce more in one batch than everyone I know and all the people that will read this article will drink in our entire lives. Their still is 4 stories tall, Four Roses column wasn’t half that. We journeyed into their oldest warehouse “No. 1” and the smell was intoxicating. This is one experience everyone needs to have in their lifetime. The cool breeze wafting out the hundred year old door was laced with the sweetness of aged spirits and heartiness of oak. It was almost like catching a buzz. We also nabbed a taste of a barrel that was dripping which was a unique treat. It had a yeasty sweet flavor that I’ll probably never get again.

Our last tour was Woodford Reserve. They by far had the best presentation. Everything about their facilities was made for bringing visitors through it. At first I worried that the overabundance of rules and cleanliness made it reek of corporations and HOA’s but that was quickly erased when we walked into the fermentation room. The highlight was the 3 copper pot stills and raised wooden floors allowing you to walk right up to them. The barrel room was also a sight and that’s not mentioning the aromatics seeping from the oak barrels.

Although we missed the tours, we swung by Buffalo Trace for a short walk around the buildings and a tasting. As we walked scents of yeast and barrel sweetness clung to the air so we all got one last smell of the barrel warehouses by sticking our heads through the windows on the lower floors. One day I’m building an office or house INSIDE a barrel aging room.

That evening we did some bar hopping and had dinner at Doc Crows before bar hopping some more. Earlier in the day Woodford teased us with some Double Oak Bourbon that they were out of so I finished the night off with some hefty pours. We rolled out in the morning stopping by the Corvette museum in Bowling Green and then onto Atlanta.

 

If you’re within a days drive of the trail you owe it to yourself to make a go of it. Louisville and the surrounding area offers a lot to do for a long weekend. Highly recommended! Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

INC Street Food

May 15, 2012

Last weekend we took a drive into Downtown Roswell. It was a beautiful day that was calling for food and drink outside and a stroll. We saw an open table at INC Street Food and sat down without a clue as to what was on the menu. Turns out it was inspired by Mexican street food…score!

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These were our damn fresh cocktails. The margarita was good but the Pomegranate Paloma was fantastic. I can appreciate that they used Heradura Blanco and freshly made sweet and sour but it tasted a little flat especially next to the Paloma. While not an authentic Paloma, I can appreciate the new take on it. It didn’t help that it was good. They also had a stout tequila menu with some killer prices. We didn’t try any but we’ll definitely be back. The only thing that I question about the tequila menu is the abnormally low prices. This could be a 1 oz. pour instead of a 1.5-2 oz. pour that other place would normally do. We’ll find out and update you.

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INC Street Food

948 Canton St
Roswell, Ga

770.998.3114

http://www.incstreetfood.com/

Cinco de Kentucky Derby

May 4, 2012

Wait…what? This year Cinco de Mayo and the Kentucky Derby fall on the same day. So I thought about bringing together two of my favorite adult beverages that are synonymous with each of their prospective holidays, Tequila and Mint Juleps.

4 Mint Sprigs
2.5 oz Tequila Reposado
1tsp Powdered Sugar
1tsp Water

Muddle the mint, water and sugar in a Highball glass. Add crushed ice and pour tequila over top, add more ice until it forms a mound. Garnish with a spring of mint. Enjoy!

Airplane bottles aka minis

April 1, 2012

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Since we’re on a booze kick we might as well run with it for another day. Over the years I’ve been picking up these 50ml “airplane” bottles or mini’s to taste different bottles of alcohol(mostly tequila’s) and I’m always thrown by the range of tastes I get from them. Case in point, Avion, which we reviewed here. While I had posted a decent review of their juice, I had written Avion off as a bottle I keep around as I just never found it interesting. I felt it’s flavor profile was too “Americanized” like they filtered all the stuff that could have made it great, out. Recently I had a chance to taste it out of some airplane bottles and it was far different than I had remembered. When we tasted it from the mini’s, it took on a completely different profile, for the worse. All the ages had this weird salty, spiky agave vibe, especially the blanco which I had previously enjoyed. This and some previous tasting from mini’s got me thinking that they aren’t always the best way to review spirits, so I did some research.

It turns out, the internet told me that a lot of distilleries will bottle the different sized bottles at different times, say the 750ml’s first, liter’s, handles, and onto the mini’s. So it makes sense that the alcohol at the top of the vat can taste different than the bottom. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen as the distilleries aren’t exactly forthcoming about their processes, and rightfully so. Now I’ve had mini’s that I thoroughly enjoyed, both as introductions to the brand (treasure bottle Espolon) and samples of things I’ve had before (Casa Noble).

So where are we going with this? Don’t take a sampling of mini bottles as the end all be all of a brand. You owe it to your pallet to get a second taste from a different source. Now that I think about it, I’d be willing to do the same for brands I’ve had pours from at a bar. So I’m not rendering previous reviews as useless but as a reviewer I will do due diligence in having another pour before reviewing. I’d love to know your thoughts on tasting mini’s as well.

Salud!