Turdmania at the Eatateria

We are what we eat. We eat. We shit. Our produce grow from shit-fertilized soil. We become shit. Festive as that may be, enter the the "Eatateria," to discover an ever-increasing assortment of recipes for lovely meals, which we will soon shit out. I eat, and I shit; therefore, "I am."

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Cray-cray Fruit-tay-tay

Snapped at the Chinese market (not to be confused with the Korean market, where I do the bulk of my shopping).

I have eaten this fruit precisely one time. 

Strange, indeed. 

Funky, sweet, odd combination of fruity flavor profile, with a top note of rotting onions, yet inoffensively so, if that makes any sense. Will I eat it again? HELL NO. 


Pineapple Pork

In the bottom of my Nesco, I put, fat side down, big hunks of Boston butt. And then I layered:

Garlic powder (a few shakes)
1 pouch of Prince of Peace Ginger-honey drink mix
2 T Trader Joes Pepper Jelly
20 oz can Cubed Pineapple (though, I drained out about half the juice)
2 T Schug, Red
Few grinds black pepper
1 tsp Penzeys orange peel
A few squirts Sriracha
1 onion, sliced
1 fistful sultana raisins
1 fistful dried cranberries

Stir to distribute. Slow cook 5.5 hours.  

When done cooking, taste and adjust salt if need be.


Turn on brown setting to get it bubbling again, then add in whatever thickener you use. I use xanthan gum powder, as it renders out a very nice end product, and isn't as pesky as cornstarch. Also, it adds a negligible amount of carbs.

This is good for 1-3 lbs of pork cubes.

Serve over rice, bowtie pasta, corn bread or toasted garlic bread.  Keeps nicely in the fridge for up to a week to ten days--if it doesn't get consumed sooner!

Brain storm! Thinking of perhaps a brioche type based stromboli (eggy like a Hawaiian roll), with this pork tucked inside.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Saga of the Stuffed Squid

Nearly a month ago I pestered my mom’s sister for this recipe for stuffed squid, which my grandmother used to make. My grandmother died 26 years ago, and had oral cancer for 7 years prior to that, and towards the last 3 years (thereabouts) of her life, she was no longer eating solid food, so it’s been roughly 30 years since I last ate this.

My grandmother (Irish) married my grandfather (Italian, first-generation born here in the US) when she was 17. When they married, she didn’t even know how to scramble an egg. He taught her everything she knew. And when my aunt replied back and gave the “recipe,” she informed me that grandpa showed grandma how to make this, as it was something HIS mother (my great-grandmother) used to make.

Now back to the “recipe.” Well it was effing vague. All the ingredients for the stuffing, but no proportions or measurements, or additional information on what exactly to do with the ingredients. So essentially, it’s pretty much a shopping list, rather than a recipe. My aunt told me that’s all she had on the dish in question.

So three weeks elapses, and I’m still jonesing to know about this dish, and well, my grandfather passed in 2012, and isn’t here for me to pester for it.

When my grandfather passed away in 2012, at his wake and funeral, I was in a veritable OCEAN of first and second cousins. My grandfather was one of seven siblings. And due to some grudge between my grandmother and great-grandmother (daughter-in-law and mother-in-law, respectively), which is now nearing 54 years long (great grandmother died in 1976, and my grandmother passed in 1990), we have nothing to do with my grandfather’s family—which, as I said, IS EXTENSIVE.

So, I was told by my mother to seek out my great-aunt E. So I schmoozed her up and she was as pleasant as could be. And I became acquainted with her son, my first cousin once-removed. The last time I saw any of these people I was roughly 7 years old. ROUGHLY.  Sadly, all, strangers to me. 

I decided I needed to find out more about this recipe, so I zapped off an email to my cousin, and asked if his mom (great-aunt E.) knew anything about this elusive stuffed squid recipe. He emailed me back, informing me that not only did he know what it was, but that they eat it every Christmas eve. Ah! At last, I’m going to get the Rosetta Stone and DECODE THE RECIPE!!!

He photographed the recipe card and sent it along to me—and hilariously enough, it was EQUALLY VAGUE as my mom’s sister’s version of the recipe she sent me. 


In addition to the recipe card photo, he sent as an attachment in that first email, a photo of my great grandparents at what I suspect was either their 40th or 50th wedding anniversary. Emails with attached photos continued to pour in that first day. What a delight:) 


The final email the cousin sent that day, quite literally, yet temporarily, took my breath away. It was the formal portrait of my great-grandparents’ wedding day (which I thought was in Italy, but I could be mistaken).
So while I am not really any closer to my family’s particular version of this recipe, I ended up getting some great photos of my great-grandparents. Every other day or so, the cousin continues to send me photos he thinks I might enjoy seeing. 

Now about that recipe? I think I'll use the ingredients that were on those "shopping lists," and apply the ratios listed in this recipe I found online, and doctor the tomato sauce with a bit of anchovy, and I think between the two, I have a winner.   

Sunday, October 12, 2014

More Cray-cray Fruit-tay-tay (or in this case, VEG-ay-tay)

Sundays typically are my BIG COOK day, where I do a big batch of 1-2 items, portion out half for fridge, half for freezer, then set up some things to marinate, or be otherwise prepped for quick preparations during the week.

This Sunday, after I did a batch of chicken based bone broth for my lunch bag, I also made about three quarts of a special sambar.

This batch of sambar is special because it involves drumstick and jackfruit seeds. The left item in the photo is of pearl onions and drumsticks thawing, middle is parboiled, peeled jackfruit seeds, and the third item is shelled fresh tamarinds awaiting a soak in boiling water. 


This sambar is also special because I am using up some of my mother-in-law's custom blended and ground sambar powder. She gave it to me a while ago, and I keep it in a huge zip lock bag inside an air tight container and keep it in my freezer. While it is not fresh ground, it's about as well kept as possible.  When I return to India in 2015, I look forward to not only procuring MORE of this, but also learning her super secret proportions of it.

And sadly, neither pics of the end product (sambar) nor a recipe shall be forthcoming. Some things I choose to keep to myself. But by all means, ogle the strange veggies! :)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Bone Broth: My Version

Reading up on the benefits of bone broth, and decided, that despite my failure to get a good "gel" in the stock I made for my ramen a few weeks back, I wanted to try again to achieve a good demi-glace "gel" for bone broth.

LOOK AT THAT IMPRESSIVE, GELLING ACTION!!!! 
Yes! That is my soup mug (at my desk in my office), which is on its side, to demonstrate the structural integrity of the gel!

Into my DRY Nesco, I added 3 lbs of "chicken hocks" (yes, pretty much what you think it is, all those knuckles at the bottom of chicken legs, essentially the ankle of the birds. I struck gold at the Korean market, where I was ISO a package of necks and backs (or even FEET), and in the absence of everything else, I found the hocks and knew I found a winner.

I had the Nesco on the brown setting, and I stirred once in a while and got most of the pieces browned and started for the bone broth.

I then filled the cooker 4/5 full (had to double check the manual for capacity) with water and added about 1-2 T vinegar.

Initially I set the cooker on high pressure for 18 minutes. I let it depressurize and upon looking I was unsure if 18 minutes was enough time to get the collagen to release from the joints. So I gave it a good stir, put the lid back on and set it for another 5 minutes at high pressure.

Again, I was unsure if this was adequate. I fished out all the bones, and took the cartilagey pieces off the bones, put the cartilage back in the Nesco, and with it, I put all the aromatics I was going to use for this batch. As I've been Jonesing for tom kha gai or tom yum, I decided to add lemongrass, makrut lime leaf, scallion pieces, garlic scape, ginger, white pepper, and set the Nesco for another 6 minutes, high pressure. After cooking I let it depressureize on its own.

After, I fished out all the solids, and ran the stock thru a cheesecloth, as to ensure no bone chips end up in final product.

While the broth was still scalding, I added a few fistfuls of enoki mushroom, cilantro, scallion piece, diced up bell pepper, and a few glugs of nam pla to salt/season and add some funk.

Last night it was served up with a few Korean vegetable mandoo, and I actually got compliments from the husband on the soup.

I made this specifically so I could take it to work each day in my feed bag, and get the therapeutic benefits of the collagen. Hoping it will be helpful in dealing with my joint pain, and also enjoy the side benefit of additional protein my diet.

That's a Fact, Jack! Part 1


 I enjoy going to the Korean market, as it's like finding an 
Easter egg every week.
This week was jackfruit. 
Behold the pictured jackfruit. Each of them formidable 
in size and heft, and I suspect they each 
weigh the equivalent of an American toddler (or more).

Given that we're celebrating Navratri in our household,
I figured this would be a nice treat for the holiday.
And by "nice treat," I do mean  "worth the effort," 
because for those folks not well versed in jackfruit,
it's a tricky, sticky endeavor. 

And by "sticky," I mean resinous.
Most people would oil up their hands,
however, I have nitrile gloves on hand, so I used 
them instead, as they give a better grip, and 
when done, I can just toss the gloves in the trash.
Here I am, dispatching the fruits and arils (seeds).
While yes, $1.19 a pound is pricey, I use both,
the fruits and the seeds, so that helps justify
the cost.

The fruits we generally eat out of hand. The seeds,
however, are an unusual treat. In India and Thailand,
boiled, peeled, salted jackfruit seeds are a delicacy.

Much in the way that fava beans need to be peeled,
so, too, do jackfruit seeds.
I found the best way to do so is to put them in a 
microwave safe bowl, submerge in water, cover,
and microwave until you start hearing the seeds
pop. Let cool, and it's easier to peel off the 
skins this way, or at least that's what "I" think.

The seeds from this point can either be salted and eaten,
and have the taste and texture similar to chestnuts,
OR! They can be tossed into a batch of sambar (whole) or
sliced up and added to sundals and poriyals.

Last night's Navratri sundal was (whole) green moong 
sundal, with sliced jackfruit seeds, and gave it all a
bit of tang from some amchoor powder.
I would have liked to have added some fresh 
green mango to it as well, but didn't have it on hand
and worked with what I had. And it was lovely.

Next up will be a batch of sambar, which I will
add the leftover seeds, perhaps some drumstick (another
favorite Indian vegetable/delicacy).

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Navatri = Nine Nights of Noms

A tasty holiday, celebrating Shakti Devi, or Goddess Power.
Each night, a special sundal snack is made as offering, and then enjoyed.
For our first night, I prepared peanut sundal, and rather than use boiled peanuts, 
I used roasted, as I prefer my peanuts to have a nice crunch and toasty flavor.

Sadly, there was no photo snapped of the ultra-special sundal
I made one of the nine nights, which was a combination of
green whole moong, jackfruit seeds and flavored 
with amchur. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Maven's First Attempt at Ramen, Part 3: The Recipe



I'll break my recipe up into three portions:

1. What I did with the pork belly;
2. The composition of the broth itself;
3. The plating.

PORK BELLY

Ingredients:
Approx. 1 lb fatty pork belly
Maple syrup
Tamari
Garlic powder

Essentially I took a 2T. of the maple syrup and the tamari and about 1 tsp of garlic powder and brined the belly in this for two days before smoking.

On day three, I dried off the pork belly, pressed some sesame seeds onto it, and smoked it in my Cameron's smoke box for about 20 minutes, and let it cool down in the closed box, which I believe only intensified the smokiness. This was then stuck in the fridge until I set up the ramen broth the following day. What did I use to smoke the belly? That secret I am keeping to myself.


On the same day I put the belly in the brine, I also stuck the pork bones for the broth in a zip lock bag, marinating with some Sky Valley Miso Marinade overnight.  These bones were then slow roasted in a 275 oven for about 2 hours, on a bed of cut up scallions. When I took the roasting pan out of the oven and while everything was still piping hot, I poured an entire can of Sapporo beer on it, and then let it set out for almost two hours to cool down enough where I could put it in the fridge.

BROTH:

The following morning, the following components went into the slow cooker to cook for nearly 6 hours while I was at work:

2# roasted pork bones (with the beer, pan juices, and scallions)
3 long stems of garlic scapes, rough diced
6 scallions, rough dice
1 T. Tamari
1 T. Rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. Dashi powder 
6 Big, dried shitakes
1 T sushi ginger, shred
1 star anise
Dashes white pepper
1 T Sky Valley Miso Marinade
1/4 lb slab pork belly 
(Then added enough water to fill the slow cooker to capacity.)

I gave one stir to distribute everything, and set my slow cooker for six hours.

When I came home, I did not have the time (nor the cheesecloth) to properly strain everything out for a "consomme" type experience. I did a rough skim and got all the solids out of the water, however, my broth was not crystal clear.

I gave it a taste. It needed more oomph. So at this juncture, I added a few splashes more of tamari, rice wine vinegar, and miso.

RAMEN NOODLE

I used fresh, store bought ramen noodle by Sun Noodle Co. I followed instructions. And after draining, I drizzled a wee bit of sesame oil on the noodles to keep them from sticking while I got everything else ready for plating.

PLATING FINAL PRODUCT:

I put a nice mound of noodle in the middle of each bowl, and on top of that, was arranged nicely:

1 hard boiled egg, cut in half
More sliced mushrooms
Pork belly, sliced
Some pork from the roasted bones
Minced scallions
Seaweed
And over the top of everything, I gave a good dash of  Simply Asia ginger-sesame spice blend.

On my own bowl, I had some pork & leek shumai already steamed up and ready to go.

The husband gave me 3 stars out of 5; however, I suspect it's closer to 4 stars, for me personally. And I dare say it rendered out a passable, authentic product.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

More Cray-cray Fruit-Tay-Tay

In the first picture: Still Life, Jackfruit and Banana Blossom (or banana heart, or vaizhpoo, if you want to use the Tamil word).


 Both are labor intensive to prep, and I wear purple nitrile rubber gloves when handling both. Banana blossom tends to stain horribly, and the jackfruit is super sticky/resinous. Hence the gloves.

(And no, contrary to what my friends think, I am not enterprising enough to color coordinate my clothing with my cutting board with my gloves. It's colorful serendipity!)

Both are fabulous south Indian treats. The jackfruit itself is eaten (each of those golden globs are individual fruit inside the wedge, and inside those globs are arils or seeds which are ALSO treats.)

The third photo is vaizhpoo paruppu usili, which is a labor intensive, labor of love. My husband adores this dish, and allegedly, banana blossom is very uterus-friendly. My flaw here was not removing the right part of the banana blossom (see also: those long strands, the hard stamens should be removed. Totally edible, but they add a bit of bitter to the dish, and also, I am unable to chew them sufficiently for me to swallow them, given my gastric bypass, I don't want to run the risk of a blockage).

The recipe itself, I cannot lay claim to; however, this is the recipe I used. And the only alteration I did was to cook the batter in the microwave.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Maven's First Attempt At Ramen, Part 2: Load Up Slow Cooker!

(Thanks, Justin, for the enthusiastic reply!)

This a.m., before heading off to work, I loaded up the slow cooker with everything I am using for my first attempt at soup stock for my ramen.

 Here, you can see I'm pre-soaking some shitakes (both, the shrooms and soak water go into the cauldron, by the way), some rough chopped garlic scapes, one star anise, a bunch of scallions, a big fat glob of the sushi ginger (It is the only ginger I use now, for pretty much everything--including Indian and Thai cooking, it's a great multi-tasker and time saver), Hondashi, and though I haven't seen it mentioned in others' recipes, I love white pepper.
 Into my six quart slow cooker, I layered the pork bones and aromatics, for even distribution.

 I then took a slab of my smoked pork belly from last night, and put it ontop. The ratio of meat to fat on this slab seemed "off" (more meat than fat, I mean), and I thought the meat dried out a wee bit in my smoking process, and I figure the slow cook will be good for a couple reasons, the least of which is to exude the smokey flavor to the broth, and perhaps break down the meat fibers a little bit.
I then put the dashi, some vinegar, some tamari, and some miso-marinade (since I don't have straight up miso/white miso here). Closed the lid, set the delay timer to start cooking in six hours, and a slow cook time of roughly six hours.

About to shower up, and head off to work. And will make an "accoutrements run" to pick up the enokis, more scallions and some wakame for the finished product! I cannot wait!