Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hoe Cakes Re-Visited

Over labor day weekend, M and I were invited over to Becky's for a small BBQ. Included as a guest was one of my favorite friends Kevin who was visiting home from Portland, Oregon.

We made pork spare ribs with a Jamaican jerk BBQ sauce, and hoe cakes. We also took over a watermelon for dessert. Becky made potato salad, her famous burgers, and fresh green chile salsa. It was a delicious meal, and we had a great time visiting..

The ribs were amazing! I used a dry rub and put them in the oven for 3 hours. Then we finished them off on the grill with the Jamaican BBQ sauce. They were were so moist that the meat nearly fell off the the bones. No pictures though! I totally forgot!!!

Ahhh, hoe cakes. I had previously blogged about them here. I was so excited to try the recipe. I have a lot of thoughts about them:

First, M insisted that what I was making was NOT hoe cakes. He's from Georgia and subsequently the subject matter expert on all things southern. He said that I was making hoat cakes or hope cakes. I told him that I got the recipes from CNN and I was right.

Second, this is a pretty labor intensive recipe. It took me forever to get everything together. Maybe I just spazzed when prepping because I was so hot from the oven being on for so long. 

Third, my cast iron skillet is about 5 inches high, and about 10 inches round. It was really hard to maneuver the spatula into the pan and flip the little suckers correctly. Maybe it had something to do with my bright idea of making them larger than what the recipe said. After seeing my frustration, M suggested that I use his electric griddle. It was a lot easier and they came out looking pretty good, but since I didn't fry them in butter they weren't as crisp as I thought they should be.

They were a hit at the BBQ, but I don't know if I'll make them again. When I went over to Becky's for the season finale of TruBlood, 2 Sunday's ago, we all cheered when Sam made Tara hoe cakes for breakfast. See M, I was right!!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Recipe: Soft Pretzels

When I was a kid we lived in Germany. Every day, and especially on weekends, there were a slew of food vendors selling their goods to the silly Americans. My favorite truck sold fresh baked bread and every variety of Haribo gummi candy imaginable. The best thing that they sold though, were these humongous soft pretzels. I swear that they were about a foot wide. I dream about these pretzels.

On Superbowl weekend I tried to make my own. They came out pretty good, but not great. The other day I while perusing the blogosphere I found a really easy recipe, so I thought I's give it a shot again. While they didn't look as beautiful as I hoped, they tasted delicious. I took them to work the next day, and received great reviews from the guys. The only complaint I heard was that I didn't bring mustard!

Here's the recipe that I tried from Alton Brown via Annie's Eats:

For the dough:
1½ cups warm water (110-115° F)
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. kosher salt
2¼ tsp. instant yeast
22 oz. all-purpose flour (about 4½ cups)
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for greasing the bowl
For finishing:
Cooking spray
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tbsp. water
Pretzel (or kosher) salt

To make the dough, combine the water, sugar, salt and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on low speed to dissolve the yeast.  Add in the flour and melted butter and mix just until the dough comes together.  Switch to the dough hook and knead on medium speed until the dough is smooth and clears the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes.  Transfer the dough to a bowl lightly greased with vegetable oil, turning once to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place, about 50-55 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Preheat the oven to 450° F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray.  Bring the water and baking soda to a boil in a large saucepan or stockpot.

In the meantime, divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.

Working with one piece at a time, roll a segment out into a 24-inch long rope.

cross them over each other and onto the bottom of the U-shape in order to form the shape of a pretzel.  Place onto the parchment lined baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 or 2 at a time, for 30 seconds.  Remove from the water with a slotted skimmer and return to the baking sheet.

Once all the pretzels have been boiled, brush the tops with the egg wash and sprinkle lightly with salt.  Bake in the preheated oven until dark golden brown, about 12-14 minutes.  Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Lunch Dessert

I rounded out my lunch today with this home made red velvet cupcake. I fell victim of a "traveling" bake sale just as I was leaving for lunch. Isn't that a great idea?

Review: Olympia Cafe - Albuquerque, New Mexico

Gyro Platter
Chicken Souvlaki Platter

oh Olympia's, you have captured my heart with your tantalizing meats and generous portions. If you love Greek food and haven't been here you are really missing something special. I imagine that this is the type of Greek restaurant that you would find in New York or Chicago.

The outside of the restaurant is painted in the traditional white and blue colors of Greece. The inside is small, but quaint. You order before you sit and grab your food when your number is called; be sure to have your ticket handy. No ticket, no food. I prefer to sit in a booth; they line a nice row of windows and it's always fun to watch the people walking by.

I have been frequenting Olympia's for years, but M had never been. I think I had been "saving" it for when I knew he was ready. M is very food adventurous and loves to try new things, but I was worried that he may not appreciate this place as much as I do. Last Friday, he was ready. Well, maybe he wasn't but after trying to think of what to eat I decided that this is what I wanted and he agreed.

M ordered the Gyro platter, and I had the Chicken Souvlaki platter. Thinking it would come ahead of time, we also ordered some calamari. In hindsight, it was a bad move considering how much food we got and it all came out together. PLUS, menu items are not on the cheap side. Compared to other places in town, it's pretty pricey but so worth it.

Both meals had Gyro meat, and it was moist and flavorful, so much so that M couldn't get enough. We each got a Greek salad, tzatziki sauce, pita, and rice too. The salad was the perfect sized accompaniment and the rice was moist, slightly lemony and delicious!

Olympia Cafe is so good! I totally recommend it. My only complaint is that it's pretty pricey. The two of us ate for $35.

Olympia Cafe on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Review: Nob Hill Bar & Grill - Albuquerque, New Mexico

This is one of M and I's favorite places. We love the atmosphere and hip vibe that we feel as soon as we walk through the humongous front door. We'll go often for dinner, and occasionally we'll just stop by for drinks. This is the only place in town where we have been able to designate a booth as "ours." We've been lucky enough to sit there 90% of the time.

At first I thought the food was just alright, and that it was pretty pricey for what you get. I mean seriously,12 bucks for Mac and Cheese? But as I've worked my way across the menu I've discovered that there are a few gems that were completely worth their weight in gold. Some of our favorites are the Kobe Sliders, Buffalo Calamari, This Ain't Yo Mama's Meatloaf, and in my opinion they have one of the best cheeseburgers in town. I particular love how I can choose which 2 toppings I want. I always get bacon and green chile.

I think that the food has gotten progressively better since the self proclaimed "Upscale Joint" first opened. I wasn't sure if this joint was going to make it, but alas it has and I'm glad!

On this particular visit we were kind of worried, as the first thing that happened to us was the the buser spilled a glass of water all over the table and floor and it took a long time for the server to come over. Once she made initial contact she was pretty attentive and even took time to ask about the photos that I was taking. She even asked for the name of my blog. Which I thought was pretty cool... so here's a shout out to Jessica.

I wanted to try something lighter, so I opted for what I think was called the Santa Fe Chicken Sandwich served with fries. It was a grilled chicken breast topped with green chile and jack cheese. The menu changes pretty frequently, and this was the first time that I eyed this delicacy on it. The chicken was grilled perfectly and was very moist. My only complaint was that the breast didn't fill the whole bun or maybe it slipped. It was deceptively covered in chile, and I only made the discovery when I went in for my second half.

M had the meatloaf and I am pretty sure that he loved it. It was served with mashed potatoes and sauteed carrots and asparagus. He devoured every last bite and even ate some of his veggies. Not the cooked carrots though. Even though they looked so nice, they still tasted like cooked carrots do. Not good!

Overall, it was another great visit and we'll defiantly be headed back!

Nob Hill Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Happy Post Labor Day!!!

Becky's famous burgers!
I hope that you all had a fantastic weekend. I did! M came down from Alamogordo and we ate, relaxed, and ate some more. Needless to say, today I will be hitting the gym and drinking nothing but water. I've been pretty good for breakfast (yogurt) and lunch (salad from Dion's), so hopefully I'll be just as disciplined at dinner time, after the gym, when I'm tired and hungry.

Here are some of the things we did this weekend:
  • Ate out, a lot. (stay tuned for some reviews)
  • Rented the new version of Clash of the Titans (reminded me how much I have always liked Medusa)
  • Went to a BBQ at Becky's
  • Played Wii Just Dance and Rockband
  • Procastinated
  • Laundry
  • Slept; then slept some more
  • Cooked one meal (Pork Spare Ribs that I completely forgot to photograph)
What did you do? and more importantly what did you eat? 

Friday, September 3, 2010

Recipe: Lazy Girl Enchiladas

Just out of the oven

As a proud New Mexican, I often crave green chile and I love it smothered over just about everything.  People here eat it over apple pie, in ice cream, on burgers, french fries, beef jerky, and I could go on and on and on. It’s an insane addiction, and you can find it all over the state not just in one area. I have never met one person that didn’t like it.
My hands down favorite Green Chile dish is chicken enchiladas. I love to make them in the most traditional ways, but sometimes I’m just too lazy. You all know what an undertaking it is…boiling a chicken, shredding cheese, roasting green chiles, stuffing and rolling, etc. (Ok, ok - I buy the pre shredded stuff and usually use a jarred LOCAL sauce). Anyway this is a simple, yet delicious way to get your enchilada crave on in half the time!  
I made these on Friday of last week. I had enough to share with my parents, share with M, and there were enough to freeze. M loved them by the way. He took them back to Alamo with him and had them for lunch on a crazy hectic day when he got back. I got an email from him that said this: The only good thing to happen today was having your chicken enchiladas for lunch…they were awesome!  You couldn’t even tell they were lazy style!  This made my little heart do a huge leap!
  • One grocery store pre-made rotisserie chicken
  • 8 oz. bag of Colby shredded cheese
  • 12 pk of corn tortillas (yellow or white)
  • 2/16 oz jars of Green Chile Enchilada Sauce (make sure it’s sauce and not chopped) (I prefer Santa Fe brand. This stuff is amazing. 505 is my second favorite)(If you are not in NM, I don’t what you can use. We are very very lucky here)
8x8 baking dish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  

Shred chicken meat off of bones. Throw away skin and bones. Cut stack of tortillas in half. Layer the bottom of ungreased pan with tortilla halves (Face the straight edge on tortillas to the straight edge of pan). You will use about 5 halves per layer. Next add a healthy portion of chicken, cheese, and sauce. You should have enough ingredients to make at least 3 layers, and one final layer of tortillas only. Cover the top layer with the rest of the cheese, and sauce.

Cover with foil, and bake for 30 min. Let stand for 5 min before serving.

Recipe: Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Last weekend I had a taste for beef.  Isn’t that a funny way to say that? When we’re deciding what to have for dinner, M always asks me “what do you have a taste for?” It’s one of those quirky Southern things that I find absolutely adorable. Anyway, we decided to grill up some sirloins and chicken breast tenders.To accompany our meal I sautéed some green beans and found this delicious recipe for Rosemary Roasted Potatoes.
These potatoes were so easy to make, and came out perfect. The outsides were crispy and the insides melted in your mouth.  My only complaint was that it took like 10 min to prep and over an hour to roast evenly. Oh and also, this is defiantly a winter time dish because having the oven on for so long made the house so HOT.
The green beans came from Sacha’s garden and were extraordinarily good; nice and crisp. I was the lucky recipient of some cherry tomatoes, green onions, and a jalapeno too. All were delicious!!! Earlier this week I got another garden gift from my friend Chuck, he gave me some pear tomatoes that I made into a tomato and cucumber salad. To all of my friends with gardens: keep the veggies coming!
  • 1 1/2 pounds small red or white-skinned potatoes (or a mixture)
  • 1/8 cup good olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoons minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut the potatoes in half or quarters and place in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and rosemary; toss until the potatoes are well coated. Dump the potatoes on a baking sheet and spread out into 1 layer; roast in the oven for at least 1 hour, or until browned and crisp. Flip twice with a spatula during cooking to ensure even browning.
Remove the potatoes from the oven, season to taste, and serve.

Review: Two Fools Tavern - Albuquerque, New Mexico

Scotch Eggs

One of the best parts of living in my "on the border of the ghetto" town home, is that right on the other side of the hood are some of , in my opinion, the best places in town for food. I am course referring to the Nob Hill area. This is where I practically grew up since I attended a highschool right down the street.

One of mine a M's favorite places to chill is Two Fool's Tavern. We love the old Irish feel, and that futbal is always on the telly. It's generally always packed, so be prepared to sit at the bar; we certainly don't mind. On this particular visit, we showed up on a Sunday night around 6 and we couldn't get over how not crowded it was. It was totally out of the ordinary. We sat at the bar anyway.

I wish that I could say that I've worked my way through the menu - I can't. I fell in love with their fish and chips a long time ago and even though I look longingly at the menu I can never bring myself to order anything different. M, on the other hand, has navigated his way around it but only far enough to try a burger. My buddy Neil likes the Cottage Pie, and another buddy Chuck swears they have one of the best burgers in town.

These are no ordinary fish and chips either. These puppies are huge pieces of Icelandic Haddock that are ale battered. They are deep fried to perfection, and served with a mountain of perfectly salted fries. It also comes with the best, and I'm ashamed to say the only coleslaw that I have ever tried (so what? I'm afraid of cabbage). The tarter sauce is house made and it tangy and creamy. I dip my fries in it. The portions are pretty hefty, so M and I get the 2 fish meal, and add an extra piece of fish that he usually eats.

For an appetizer we always get the Scotch Eggs. These are hard boiled eggs wrapped in house made sausage and bread crumbs, cooked to a golden brown. They are served with pub mustard, which is a seedy thick mustardy mustard that is absolutely delicious!!!

The only complaint that we had on this visit is that we asked for Gin and Cranberry's (our out of the ordinary refreshing made up drink), and instead we got gin and tonics. We drank them anyway. It's hardly a complaint though. Overall, I highly recommend this place on all aspects!

Two Fools Tavern on Urbanspoon
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