Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Italian egg hash ranchero

Yeah, yeah, yeah I know: I'm posting pretty sporadically lately. Look, my repertoire of food is pretty limited, and my coworkers and I have fallen into a rut of always going to the same restaurants for lunch. 

Actually, last week, my coworkers finally went to a different place for lunch. They had sushi with bread on it. But I was absent, having to stay home with a sick toddler. So no pictures of an empty table that once had bread sushi. And no, they're never going back there again, so there will never be any pictures of that empty table. (One of my coworkers said he preferred the tables at the bread sushi place over the tables at any other restaurant, by the way.)

To make up for the bread sushi, I present to you Italian Hash Ranchero!

So about two months ago, I went to a brunch place where I ordered something called Huevos Benedictos Rancheros, which was eggs benedict with guacamole and fresh tomato salsa instead of hollandaise sauce. It was pretty fucking awesome. It was so good that I resolved to eat my eggs with avocado and salsa from then on. It was an interesting experiment.

My first attempt to add avocado and salsa to my egg universe (eggiverse?) was with scrambled eggs. Let me tells ya, scrambled eggs do not go well with avocado and salsa. Scrambled eggs with avocado and salsa kinda tastes like random mush. It was not good.

However, eggs over easy, eggs sunny-side-up, and fried eggs in general taste really good with avocado and salsa.

But the best type of eggs with avocado and salsa is Italian Hash! 

Italian Hash is so oily and salty and cheesy that it practically begs for salsa and avocado. Seriously, the salsa and avocado totally take Italian Hash to an entirely new level. You know how on Top Chef sometimes the judges say things like, "I felt this needed some acid to break it up" or "It needed something fresh"? Yeah, well the salsa is the acid that breaks it up, and the avocado is the freshness. 

It is the best breakfast ever, even if it's probably 6 zillion calories. On the upside, though, you will not be hungry at the office, and you will not stuff your face with veggie straws from the snack closet.

Six Zillion Calories of Pure Fantastamagoliciousness.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Isn't This a Cute Coffee Shop? Let's Go In!

Look at this picture from a cute, hip coffee shop in a newly-gentrified neighbourhood:

Cute, no? That's two espressos and a caramel brownie right there. 

The place had a children's corner where all the newly-moved-in hipsters could let their kids play with educational toys and read educational books while they had their coffees and cakes and paninis made with natural, locally-sourced, organic ingredients and only the best roasted beans.

The brownie was good. 

The coffee though...what can one say about the coffee?


Seriously, it was disgusting. Neither of us could drink it. It tasted like when you accidentally put Taster's Choice coffee into a stovetop espresso machine (yes, this has happened to me). In fact, it tasted worse than Taster's Choice instant coffee.

This was surprising since the entire coffee-making process was automated. They had a fully automatic push-button espresso machine. The grinder and doser were automated, grinding and dosing out the exact amount of coffee for a single shot at the push of a button. 

The only variables were the beans and the tamping. They over-tamped the coffee, but that couldn't explain the awfulness of the stuff. No, the awfulness had to have come from the beans or the grind. My guess is that the beans were bad/stale, and the grind was too coarse. 

But that doesn't really matter, does it? Because the fact remained that we paid $5 for undrinkable espressos.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Bacon Fail/Prosciutto Win

It's been a while, hasn't it?

It's not that I haven't been eating, so much as I have been completely forgetting to take pictures altogether. And when I do take pictures, I forget to upload them because my htc Whatever S phone won't show the pictures I've taken if the card is too full. Out of sight, out of mind, as they say.

But I did take pictures of my porc cookery!

When I was at the butcher's getting my all-naturally-raised, hormone-free, free-range. antibiotic-free, locally-sourced meat, I saw that the butcher's had thick-cut "Danish style" bacon. I had no idea what that was, but it looked good. The kid behind the counter -- the butcher's nephew, I believe -- told me it was way better than regular bacon because it was thick cut. So I bought 8 slices.

The next morning, I made 4 slices of bacon. I'm going to admit that I'd never fried bacon before that moment. I had either let Spousal Unit do it, or I'd let my mom do it. So I had to look up how to fry bacon.

The Internets told me that the best thing to do was to make one layer of bacon covering the entire pan, and let the pan warm up with the bacon in it. Then, once the bacon started to sizzle, you let it cook for 6 minutes per side.

I did that. The first problem I ran into was that my bacon was longer than my pan. I had bacon edges running up the sides of the pan. The other problem I ran into was that the pan was not warming up uniformly. This may have been because the slice of bacon on one side was just slightly bigger than the slice on the other side.

The next problem I ran into was that once the bacon started sizzling, it started to attack me! It was spitting grease at me like nobody's business! I put the pan lid up and used it as a shield. I got the baking soda out of the fridge and prepared myself to put out a grease fire.

The source of my humiliation

Fortunately, while I did burn the bacon, I did not start a fire.

The bacon tasted pretty good, even though it was slightly burnt. But I didn't try frying the last 4 slices. Instead we cut them up and used them in black bean soup (not pictured). It made tasty black bean soup.

The next day I decided to try something else to satisfy my still-unrequited desire for bacon: I decided to bake some prosciutto.

My mom had made prosciutto chips as a garnish for salads a few times and they had been really tasty (the only good part of the salads, for the most part). I knew they were baked, not fried, so I didn't have to worry about the prosciutto attacking me with grease. It sounded fool-proof.

And it was!

For the first time ever something I tried from an online recipe worked out perfect! I mean, beside the Martha Stewart one-bowl muffins. Those were good.

But seriously, the prosciutto chips were easy to make and were absolutely fantastic! I just layered the prosciutto on parchment paper and baked them for 10min (I think I baked them at 375F or 400F). Then I took them out, put them on a rack to cool, and ate them.

My redemption.
And so my weekend was a time of sadness and rejoicing.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Mid-Century Madness French Onion Soup!

Well hello! It's been a while, hasn't it? That's what happens when you end up with deadlines, another blog, and a personal trainer who means business: you end up letting something go.

Anyways, I return with mid-century madness!

Have you heard about the Mid-Century Menu blog? It's basically this chick who makes food from her ancient cookbooks and let's her husband taste-test them. What's most interesting about the blog is that as they eat more and more of these hideous concoctions, the less and less they find them revolting. 

As I read the blog, it occurred to me that I don't have to try mid-century recipes from ancient Good Housekeeping and Family Circle magazines because I can just go over to visit my parents and eat my mom's food to experience mid-century madness.

No yolks, thanks to my mom's nameless ex-boyfriend.
Case in point: French Onion Soup. My mom made French Onion Soup over Easter weekend. She even made them in the individual little pots that she got when she got married in 1972. And of course my mom told her French Onion Soup Story as she served it. It wouldn't be French Onion Soup if it weren't accompanied by the French Onion Soup Story.

Here's how it goes: A long, long time ago, in 1965 or so, my mom found a recipe for French Onion Soup in some magazine. It called for an egg yolk emulsified in the broth and some kind of bizarre spice mix (which probably accounts for the ancient bottle of marjoram that resided at my grandparents' place). She went home and made it for her family and it was a big hit. Everyone loved it and she made it for many years.

Then one day some nameless boyfriend of hers took her to a fancy French restaurant for dinner and my mom had French Onion Soup. My mom said that she was amazed that this simple onion soup was so good. So she went home and tried French Onion Soup without the yolk and without the spices (but keeping the bread and gratin). It was an even bigger hit! And she's been making it this way til this day.

If it weren't enough that my mom pulled out her onion soup bowls, she also gave me a mid-century-madness-coloured espresso cup set for Xmas (which she only ended up giving me at Easter, but that's an entirely different story). Seriously, each cup-and-saucer in the set is a different mid-century-madness colour: mustard yellow, dark powder blue, burnt orange, etc. 

Of course my favourite cup is the avocado green one: 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Saturday Experiment: Nutella Swirl Muffins

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "What kind of Google fail caused my search for 'Winter Gazebo Maintenance' to land on this page?" (hint: remove the quotation marks.) 

Alternately, if you actually came here on purpose (which is unlikely), you're thinking, "This chick who makes lentil soup that tastes like dirty water experimented in the kitchen? What kind of disaster was that!"

Well ye of little faith (and ye of the winter gazebo maintenance), let me tell you it was awesome! It was the best thing I ever did. Nothing will ever compare to my Nutella Swirl Oatmeal Muffins. Nothing!

Except maybe the dirty water lentil soup I'm making right now.

Is this sink or swim?
*sigh* It sounded like a good idea at the time. I saw this recipe online for Nutella Swirl Banana Muffins where you just made banana muffin batter as usual, dolloped Nutella on the top of the batter once it was in the pan, and then swirled the Nutella into the batter with a toothpick.  It sounded so simple:  I could just swirl Nutella into any muffin and have a tasty, wavy gravy, Nutella treat.

Alas, that was not so. First of all, oatmeal muffin batter is kinda thick. Second of all, because it's been cold, my Nutella was kinda solid.  The result was that I couldn't actually swirl the Nutella into the batter. Instead it kinda just mushed into the top of the muffins. 

The result was oatmeal muffins with gross-looking Nutella tops. You should be happy that I don't take pictures of my food before it's eaten.

It wasn't bad. I washed it down with some coffee. Spousal Unit liked them, but Spousal Unit also drinks almond milk. 

Fortunately I only ruined half the batch of muffins. I just put chocolate chips in the other half and called it a day.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Keep Your Turkey Away from my Chili!

There's this guy in the office who eats chili every day. OK, he may not eat it every day, but he eats it so often that if I smell chili reheating in the microwave, I assume he's nearby.

His chili smells really good, and one day I asked him for his recipe. He told me his recipe wasn't authentic, and Ireplied that I didn't believe there was such a thing as an authentic chili recipe. But then he told me that his was made with ground turkey and lima beans, and I changed my mind.

Then again, I eat lentil soup that tastes like dirty water.

Anyways, Spousal Unit bought organic, free-range, antibiotic-free, all-natural, old cow ground beef the other day. I asked him if, for the love of all that was good and true, he could, for once, not insist on making spaghetti with meat sauce with it. He asked what I suggested, and I suggested chili with black beans.

Spousal Unit hates black beans -- but he loves lima beans, ironically enough -- but he made it anyways. I brought the leftovers for lunch. He made himself a turkey sandwich instead.

Not authentic, but lima-bean-free.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

100th Post! Polenta! Chicken! Cheetos!

Hello everyone -- if anyone is reading this at all at this point...

Welcome to the 100th post here at Food I Have Eaten.

Posts have been few and far between lately. I have an actual deadline approaching at work and a toddler who doesn't believe in sleep, so I have almost no time to actually write anything that doesn't go something like, "When developing a custom component, ensure that you have imported all the SDK libraries."

To top it off the God of the Snack Closet i.e., Linda, the office manager, was on vacation for a while before and after the Christmas/New Year break. This meant that the snack closet was bare. There was literally nothing in the closet. It was so bad that people started eating the sugar. I kid you not:  By the second week of the new year people had eaten through the whole giant box of sugar packets and everyone had to have their coffee -- espresso included -- black.

Needless to say, mutiny was imminent.

Fortunately Linda came back from vacation and the closet was replenished. And what bounty! There were chocolate chip cookies, Two Bite Brownies, chips, crackers, and, the piece de resistance, Cheetos! And not just any Cheetos: The crunchy kind!

The chocolate chip cookies and brownies disappeared within a day and a half. I had two cookies on the morning the package was opened. That was it.

The sacred imprint of crunchy Cheetos!
But Linda, in her wisdom, had provided us with a family-size bag of Cheetos. Oh how we pigged out on those! We had them for breakfast; we had them as lunchtime condiments; we had them with our coffee; we ate them as a late-afternoon snack. It was glorious!

During this time, spousal unit and I decided that we were sick of  making food that consisted of opening a can and heating it up. Just because there's a resurgence of 60s/50s nostalgia doesn't mean we have to eat like we're still on war rations.

Anyways, as such we made chicken cacciatore with polenta.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking how two people who seemingly can't get a lentil soup to not taste like dirty water can make a chicken cacciatore with polenta that doesn't suck. Well the answer's simple: chicken cacciatore is easier to make than lentil soup. You can't really fuck up a dish that involves chicken, tomato and wine -- it practically flavours itself. Meanwhile, you can totally screw up flavouring lentils boiled in water.

As for polenta: it's deceptively easy to make. You should try it. It's very tasty.

Easier than a lentil soup! Faster than a beef stew! It's chicken cacciatore!