Monthly Archives: January 2013

I ate a kangaroo. What did YOU have for dinner?

Hiiiii guys.

I know, I know. I’ve been away for a minute. Work got rull busy, so fake food fun had to take a back seat. Actually, work being busy caused me to break two of my New Year’s resolutions: blog twice a week (NOPE!) and exercise a bit (does exercising none count as a bit?). 

I went up to NYC (that’s New York City, hayseeds) to shoot some videos for one of our clients. And have do I have some exciting shit to tell you about. I ate kangaroo.

I ate kangaroo. 

…Has it sunk in yet?

I ATE KANGAROO.

Maybe this is not that special to some people. But I’d literally never seen kangaroo on a menu. Let me start from the beginning.

The studio where we were shooting was right next to this restaurant in Soho called Public. This restaurant has a Michelin Star, so you know they aren’t playing around. This might be the first Michelin Star restaurant I’ve ever eaten at. And from start to finish, it was the JAM.

By the way, I had just finished a day of work. So I walked into this really hip, beautiful restaurant with my backpack on. My navy blue Jansport bookbag with pink polka dots. WHAT’S UP, NEW YORK. HOW YA LIKE ME NOW. I’m a 28 year old 3rd grader.

Anyways. I’m there with my friends Emily and Sarah and we get the menu. And I see this:

Grilled kangaroo on a coriander falafel with lemon tahini sauce and green pepper relish

And my metaphorical jaw dropped. And then when I tasted, my actual jaw dropped. I got it for the story, you guys. To be like “oh, yeah, I tried kangaroo. Before I ate him, he used to be boxer in cartoons!” Sidenote: How come kangaroos in cartoons are always boxers? Is that a thing? Was that like a circus attraction where humans boxed kangaroos? I’m joking but I’m also actually asking.

I digress. The kangaroo was grilled—but only barely. So it was sort of like a carpaccio. It was tender. It was a little bit sweet. If I had to compare it to something, it would be similar in to beef in terms of it’s texture, but it was much leaner. And it was so much better than beef because it was so much more tender. And with the spices in and crunch of the coriander falafel? Damn, y’all.

My question about the dish is: what part of the kangaroo was it? Tail? Arm? Leg? Loin? ….Pouch? Do I not want to know? Is that why we’re just generically calling it kangaroo?

I took a picture, but it’s dark. So, I’m not posting it. Look, I couldn’t be the asshole who went to the Michelin star restaurant with a pink polka dotted Jansport backpack AND took flash photography at the table. I mean, as it was, I kept hitting my head on some functional wall art that might have attached to a lamp that could have come crashing down on our heads.

I was NOT cool enough for this restaurant.

For my entrée, I got the porkstravaganza: Szechuan crusted pork tenderloin and roasted belly of Berkshire pork with braised daikon, pickled baby carrots, and slow poached egg in a truffle dashi broth. It was out of control. I can’t even… To try to talk about it would be to dishonor it’s memory. 

But the best comment of the night came when we tried one of the two side dishes we ordered: sweet potato miso mash. Seemingly unassuming. But it was sweet, but savory. So harmonious, with the salty miso balancing out the natural sweetness of the sweet potato. (Please note, I’ve said the word “sweet” 4 times already. Let’s see how many times I’ll say it by the end of this paragraph!)  So. The sweet potato mash. Emily tries it and says “um, you’ve got to try this.” So, Sarah and I do. And then Sarah says the best thing I’ve ever heard anyone say about food. “Oh my god. How did they even get it to do that.” (Total ‘sweet’ count: 5)

And she’s right. Cause it was the perfect bite. And my last bite…of the entrees, that is. 

Cause then, we split this for dessert. Yuzu lime tart, coconut and meringue sorbet, kaffir lime sauce, candied macadamia nuts. It was stunning to look at and exciting to eat. Sweet and tart and soft and crunchy. The perfect end to the meal. And bonus, the only photo that doesn’t look like a super dark blob! What a terrific blog this is. Dessert

The meal was great, the prices weren’t outrageous. But all in all, the whole night has given me something new to strive for in the food department. One day, I hope to cook something good enough to get a comment as awesome as “Oh my god. How did they even get it to do that.”

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How to Open a Pomegranate: A Guide

So, you want to open a pomegranate. Great! You’ve come to the right place. I’ve stolen the steps learned the steps for how to do this from YumSugar.

…Wait. You also want to learn how to select a pomegranate? Well, ok. You probably should’ve mentioned that. You know, before I started out by saying “So, you want to open a pomegranate…” No, whatever, it’s fine. I don’t know how to do that either. So I’ll Google it.

Ok. This site that I found has some tips. It’s called pomegranatefruit.orgI mean, it has pomegranate IN the name, so it must be good.

Look for one that is brightly colored, large and heavy and with hard smooth skin. That’s what she said. (What? That one didn’t even make…sense… You’re an idiot, self.)

Congratulations! You have selected your pomegranate. If you’re anything like me, you will wait a solid 4 days to attempt to open it. You will contemplate throwing it away. But then you will remember you have a food blog and this would be fascinating scintillating unbelievable kind of interesting for a post and you could’ve spent as much as $5 on it, which you would verify but you cannot find your receipt. 

Well, the time has come! It’s time to open your pomegranate. Remove it from the produce bag. Hmm. It’s seeping a little bit of juice. That probably isn’t supposed to happen. But no matter, remember you have a food blog and you’ve paid maybe $30 of American money for this damn thing. This is for the greater good. (The greater good.)

The first step is to cut off the blossom and stem ends. I’ll use my powers of deduction to figure out which is which. I mean, I have TWO liberal arts degrees from a good college, so this should be easy!

Image

Then, score the skin. YumSugar’s picture has 6 score lines. So 6 score lines I shall do! Be careful not to puncture the seeds by going too deep (that’s what she said, which actually made sense this time.)

Next, submerge the pomegranate in a bowl of warm water and gently crack along the score lines. Wow, that water looks a bit cloudy. That’s kind of gross looking.

Ew

Tease the seeds away from the membrane (ew) and the flesh (ew) underwater. The damaged seeds will float to the top, though none seem to be doing it for me. And bits of the membrane (ew) and flesh (ew) will too. But wow, that looks really cloudy. I mean, disgustingly cloudy. But we must soldier on! Remove the bits of membrane (ew) and flesh (ew) and any dead seeds with a skimmer, slotted spoon or a sieve.

Remove any remaining damaged seeds, which in the case of the pomegranate that I selected, was almost all of them. Dry your good seeds on a paper towel before you eat.

Example of good seed versus bad seed is in my hand in the photo below. The good seed is on the left: clear, firm, and bright. The bad seed is on the right: cloudy, dull, and wrinkly. As you can see, the hand that is holding it is in dire need of lotion. Much, much lotion.

You can do so many things with pomegranate seeds. Like, you know. Eat them. And other things! I put mine in some yogurt. That was kind of a fun little adventure. But to be quite honest with you, I think that all of my work on my pomegranate yielded me about a half a cup them gorgeous, jewel-like seeds.

So ask yourself yourself, gentle reader, is all it worth it? Perhaps you should find yourself a less commitment intensive fruit. Like an apple. Or an orange. Or a cheeseburger. Cause fuck your new years resolution. It’s been a week. Health is so last year. 

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Navy Bean Soup: Jowl What Now?

Happy 2013, fake food friends!

For my first meal of 2013, I had something SO un-blog worthy that I’m going to blog about it anyway. BECAUSE I CAN. 

I had a turkey sandwich (Boar’s Head, bitches. ON SALE.) with white cheddar cheese on toasted sourdough with Inglehoffer Sweet Hot Mustard (WHAT WHAT) and Duke’s mayo (best mayo ever, y’all).

…the standards of this blog have really sunk, huh. 

My first REAL meal of 2013 was something that I tried over the holidays and it went over gangbusters. If you’ll recall, Mom was on a whole “I don’t want to cook ever” kick, so she suggested I make some sort of soup for Christmas day lunch. Problem is: my dad hates soup. (WHAT!!!! HOW CAN ANYONE HATE SOUP!?!?) So, we had the following conversation:

Me: Ok, I’ll make soup. But what kind of soup would Dad eat?

Mom: Well, he doesn’t really like soup.

Me: …Yeah, I know… well, ok. Dad. What kind of soup would you eat on Christmas?

Dad: Soup? I hate soup.

…Yep… We finally settled on navy bean, which is, I dunno, less soupy than other soups? I made the soup the day ahead, so all the flavors could meld and I could focus on dinner on Christmas day. And Dad made some grilled cheese sammiches. Because my dad makes the best grilled cheese sandwiches evar. 

I got back from my folks’ on New Years Eve and went shopping for navy bean soup ingredients on New Years Eve. In North Carolina. In the South. On New Years Eve. There was nary a ham hock to be found. And I couldn’t figure out why. And then I realized that I was in North Carolina. Which is in the South. On New Years Eve. And everybody had scooped up the ham hocks because they were making their collard greens. 

Sidebar: I grew up in Florida, but Jacksonville is not the deep south by any means. So the first time I experienced the black eyed peas and collard greens thing was when I was maybe 8 or 10 and we were over to a friend’s house. She told us that it was tradition to put quarters in the collards for good luck. Is that a thing? It seems like a choking hazard to me. And the ones who are lucky are the ones who avoid the quarters.

I asked the Lady Butcher at Harris Teeter if they had any ham hocks and she told me no, but asked me what I was making. So I told her. And she said “hold on a second.” I waited. And I waited. And I waited. And I started wondering if I imagined that she’d said “hold on a second.” Did I dream it? Am I asleep right now? Is this the series finale of St. Elsewhere? Did anybody get that joke other than my dad?

Anyway, she finally came out and said “yeah, we’re out of ham hocks but you can use jowl bacon.”

Come again?

Jowl bacon, I was told, would work in place of my ham hocks. It was smoked. And she often fried it up with eggs. And you could only get it at Harris Teeter in January. And she often bought a ton of it up and froze it. Even though you could get it at the meat market. I got a LOT of information from this woman in a very short amount of time. 

Sponsored by Paula Dean

The only thing that was troubling is that I didn’t know what exactly a jowl was. And then I remembered something.

My friend Sarah had a baby about 6 weeks ago. Her name is Lana and I love her. She’s got these amazing cheeks. In fact, I very recently decided to start calling her The Cheeks because of her very yummy cheeks. A couple weeks ago, Sarah posted a picture of Lana, saying that older southern ladies referred to Lana’s cheeks as ‘jowls.’

And then I realized: jowls are just cheeks, y’all.

 A quick Google search confirmed this. And noted that jowl bacon is a very close relative of guanciale, the Italian unsmoked bacon made with jowls or cheeks. And I love guanciale. So I’m sure to love good ole fashioned American jowl bacon.

Having not tried the stuff before and being far too lazy to fry up a piece, I made a guess on how much to replace the ham hocks with based on my vast fake food knowledge and more googling. And it turned out pretty well. 

This soup is easy breezy, y’all. Not a whole lot of work to bring this together. It’s creamy, without having any cream in it. It’s filling and sticks to your ribs without a lot of meat.

There are two main differences between the jowl bacon vs. the ham hocks. 1. Because the ham hocks have the bone in (that’s what she said), they give a much deeper deeper flavor. The jowl bacon still brought the smoky ham flavor, but I’d take the ham hocks in the end. 2. Ham hocks have a lot of fat and very little meat. And the jowl bacon has a lot of fat. But more meat. So, you have more meat in the jowl bacon soup. 

I got an extra special treat because my friends Jenny and Ben dropped off a gift of homemade pretzels and homemade rice krispie treats (not pictured, but very delicious). The salty pretzel paired perfectly with the soup, especially for dipping (I did not dip the rice krispie treats in the soup). You can find the recipe here on Jenny’s bread blog chronicling all of Ben’s breadventures. Pancussion: A Regular Hit of Bread Experimentation

I’m gonna try the jowl bacon with eggs. Like Overly Informative Lady Butcher said. I might even make a JBLT: Jowl Bacon Lettuce and Tomato sandwich. 

If jowl bacon ain’t your thing, let me suggest you make friends with Lana. Cause those cheeks are the kind that anyone would want to nibble on.

…see what I did there…?

 

Navy Bean Soup, from foodnetwork.com 

Ingredients

  • 1 pound navy beans, picked over, rinsed and drained | I’m not exactly sure what I’m picking over. So I took out any beans that were really ugly (I’m judgmental) or split open.
  • 10 sprigs parsley
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme or rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 large smoked ham hocks, about 1 1/2 pounds | Or about ¾ lb. of jowl bacon! Heavy on the jowl! 
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped | I did 2 garlic cloves. Cause I like garlic. And I didn’t invite any vampires over.
  • 8 cups of cold water
  • 1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Butter for garnish | I didn’t think that this was necessary. But then I tried it. Adding the butter adds a smooth creaminess. Don’t think, just do.

Place the beans in a large saucepan and cover with cold water by about 2 inches. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes; remove from the heat, cover, and let sit for one hour. Drain and reserve. Tie the parsley, thyme, and bay leaf together with kitchen twine. 

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven combine the beans, herb bundle, hocks, onions, and garlic with the water. Bring to a boil, cover, and adjust the heat so the soup cooks at a gentle simmer. Cook until the beans and hock are completely tender, about 1½ hours.

Turn off the heat and remove the hocks. Cool slightly. Remove the meat from the hocks, discarding the bones, fat, and skin. (If using jowl bacon, remove the fat as well. Cause it’s gross.) Cut the meat into small cubes. Remove the herb bundle and discard.

Puree about 3 cups of the beans with some of the liquid in a blender. (I used an immersion blender.) For a smoother soup puree all the beans. Stir the puree and diced meat into the soup. Heat the soup and adjust the seasoning as needed with salt and pepper.

Pour into heated bowls, place a small pat of butter on top of each soup, and serve.

 

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