Sunday, August 31, 2008

just an amazing day....

i'm tired but in a real good way. it was an amazingly great day today. it began at lunch at out the door



...then a pit stop at a slow food conference talk....then hours and hours at the slow food conference taste pavilion...having some amazing goodies like salted caramel ice cream.....


and mini cupcakes from citizen cake.


i am exhausted from the week...yet it are days like today that i am reminded of how wonderful life truly is with great company and great food. hugs to all. i'm going to bed and will post more about the slow food conference later...

happily yours-

fh

Saturday, August 30, 2008

davy in the morning

well, davy rice, i must say that i'm very glad that i took the time out to get to know you. totally worth it.

if this doesn't make sense...then please read this post.

now, i just wished i could have something sweet like the plain frozen yogurt from yogurt harmony. yet, they...like most places in berkeley, aren't open at 1:50am.

sigh. maybe hot chocolate will have to do.

Friday, August 29, 2008

quackity quack quack


earlier today, this is what appeared on my twitter stream

"foodiehunter i'm free! i'm free! i'm in serious need of some retail therapy. maybe some duck soup too. quackity quack quack."

obviously, i had to burn off some steam. this time (unlike the last time i burned off some serious steam) i didn't end up in a pool fully clothed (that is a story for another time....just look for the heading "what will it take you to get into the pool?" sometime in the future). this time, i went-a-shopping. it was fun. so frivolous. nothing remotely heavy or analytical. just light and fluffy.

by the time i arrived to the noodle joint off of union square, i was pretty lighted headed as well.... since i hadn't eaten anything at that point. i think i was so damn excited to not be working. don't get me wrong, i'm still lovin' the new job and all. it is just...well...you know... working til 3am ish (although last night i stopped at 10:30pm woohoo) for over seven days gets kinda hard on the body...especially when you aren't getting the full 6-8 hours in. so hence, my excitement.

at the noodle joint, i ordered my usual...the roast duck noodle soup with egg noodles...and loaded it up with chilis and began slurping away....


perfecto. i'm bouncing around in my chair right now just remembering it. sigh.

dear hearts, to give you all a very good idea of what my mindset is right now, i'll show you one of my purchases....


can you believe i bought these?

purple suede pumps with pink accents.

PURPLE. PINK.

this is me we are talking about here.

where, you know, my colors are usually black, black, more black, with a little white (maybe. sometimes. almost never.) thrown in....and well, admittedly red for the more appropriate occassions. yet, before you fall over in shock, no worries, they were only $25 bucks.

quack.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

almost there...


well, there goes the last of the leftover vindaloo. i'm not incredibly broken up about it as i still have some more leftovers....remember, i completely over-ordered takeout from biryani house. it will tide me over until i get to the slow food conference....i cannot wait for the slow food conference. it is my shinning beacon at the end of the tunnel. i think DH was probably wondering why i said i couldn't work or fly to the UK this weekend. if he knew (which he doesn't) then he may think i'm kinda nutz...but then, i don't think he has the same passion for food that i do.

re: projects...so far...so good... mr french boss boss just signed off on one of the projects....so i suppose we'll see next week if some of my potentially provocative (i.e., unpopular) analysis is going to go over. maybe it will be good that i won't be in the room when it happens...or even the same continent.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

breakfast noodles


hmmmm. the days are starting to blend together. it is like i've been taking "naps" instead of actually "going to bed". it is very doubtful that i will be keeping this up for much longer. yet, as a result...august has just flown by. it is so difficult to believe that labor day is almost here. this morning, it appeared that my appetite had returned. so instead of having toast for breakfast, i went for noodles instead. somewhere, the foodie hunter voice inside said "i want noodles! now!!!" so i listened. i decided that the broth should be pretty light and delicate...just chicken broth, nuoc mam, cayenne, and an egg. the other components of the soup included fresh egg noodles, broccoli, shiitake mushrooms, nigari tofu, and garlic cloves. hearty yet not too heavy. hmmmm. good.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

taking a break


ok. i'm tired. really tired.

i am feeling so tired that i didn't really feel like eating today. you know i'm tired when the foodie hunter isn't really feeling like eating. yet, i know if i don't eat, i'll just get more tired. vicious little cycle.

i also knew that i needed to leave my place today, even if it is just for a few moments...just for a change in scenery. so i walked to biryani house to get some dinner to go. i totally over-ordered. oh well, lots of leftovers for me this week. the food here is what i think of "fast food indian"...not the true fast food (i.e., chaat ...reminds me, i need to get over to vic's to have some chaat)..but it is pretty good, particularly for the price. everyone is usually really nice too. did i mention that i'm tired? jez, i'll be glad when friday afternoon gets here.

so while i was at biryani house, i sat there with my chai,


just thinking. not really reading, but just thinking.


thinking about things like how i'd really like to read jumper, if i had the energy. i remember the moment i knew that i wanted to read this book. ironically, the moment happened while i was watching the movie in a theatre. it was the moment where the main character "jumps" from a bad situation at home and ends up in the public library. interesting isn't it? that the place that the character felt the most secure and safe was among rows and rows of books. it was at that moment that i thought, i'm going to read that book. now, i just have to find the time and energy.

Monday, August 25, 2008

here i go a twittering....

first it was flickr....and now i'm on twitter!

http://twitter.com/foodiehunter

hmmmmm. where will this all go i wonder?

deja vu

well, here it is just after midnight and i find myself doing the same thing as last night. there is currently silken tofu simmering in a broth of coffee and hazelnut agave on the stove. yet, i also find myself pretty hungry at the moment, so there are also ca shiitake mushrooms roasting...to put on toast of course.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

racing toward deadlines...


officially back on coffee...well, at least until friday. i'm actually racing toward some deadlines at the moment and wanted to take a much needed break. oh, coffee, how i have missed you so. it has been years and years since i've had more than a sneak sip here and there. oh, how difficult it will be to set you aside once more.

well, last night as i was working until 3am (yup, 3am), i realized around midnight that i would need to stop drinking coffee but there was quite a lot left in the french press....and i had made blue bottle coffee. it seemed a bit blasphemous to just pour it down the drain. i mean, really! then i decided to experiment a bit...(at midnight of course). i put the rest of the coffee into a small sauce pain and added some hazelnut agave. then i slid some soft silken tofu into the mixture, let it simmer for about 35-45 minutes, and put it all in the fridge once it cooled down.


while it doesn't exactly look incredibly pretty....i'm eating it for a snack right now...and, looks aside, it is pretty good. it is like having a coffee custard...more like a coffee asian flan like custard. those who have had "flan" from an asian deli will know exactly the consistency i am talking about. hmmm, who knew what kind of inspiration i'd get in the middle of the night?

Friday, August 22, 2008

"get off the phone and go socialize"

priceless.

absolutely priceless.

earlier this afternoon, DH and i were talking on the phone about some the projects we will be working on this weekend as well as the meeting with the big cheese (aka ceo) next week. well, it was afternoon for me...but it was about 8:30pm in the uk. he was calling me on the way to the pub with some friends. about 20 minutes into the call, i heard his fiancee say "get off the phone and go socialize".

i had to snicker a bit. priceless. absolutely priceless. to be fair, in the uk, it appears to really be frowned upon to work beyond the "typical work" hours. although, DH does some pretty chaotic hours, i have a feeling that is not exactly the norm. i also have a feeling that my hearing her say that to him wasn't exactly ideal. oh well.

after we hung up, i went to reheat some braised tofu i made last night....this time i braised it in a thai green curry broth...and it, as i indicated yesterday, reheated wonderfully. it was a good lunchtime snack.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

braising tofu

although i obviously will have a lot of pork sugo to get through the next week, i cannot subsist on solely pork sugo (as much as i would like to). one of the snacks i've been making for myself on-and-off recently is braised tofu. this is perhaps one of my favorite ways of making and eating tofu. i'll typically braise it in different broths for at least an hour if not longer. even as i type the words to this posting, i can smell the thai green curry broth that is bubbling away on my stove. it won't be ready for a while...so hence i'm showing you shots of some braised tofu that i made a few days earlier.


one of the reasons why i love braised tofu is that it reheats wonderfully. the braised tofu that i made a couple of days ago was braised for just under two hours in a broth that consisted of tom yum paste and nuoc mam. yummmo.

in order to ensure that the tofu can withstand the longish braising time (well longish for tofu anyway), i use the extra firm nigari tofu. i also peek into the pot about every half an hour to see how things are progressing. once the cubes expand about 15-20% (about an hour), i do a taste test to see how well the flavor has penetrated the tofu. sometimes the tasting is also a part of the fun.

sigh. i do think that i have an awful lot of pork sugo sauce to get through.
actually, i have a feeling some of it will be going into the freezer this evening after i eat my braised tofu.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

remaking memories


once there was a time where i would make a "pot" of meaty red sauce on a pretty regular basis. it was a particular favorite and i can remember hearing leftovers being reheated at 1am or 2am in the morning....while someone was working particularly late. they could eat it every night for multiple nights in a row...and still look forward to the next time i would make it. this went on for years.

i've been honing my red sauce since i was a neophyte foodie hunter. one of my earliest memories of the origins of this sauce involves me standing on a stool in order to see into the pot of my latest iteration....usually inspired by watching saturday cooking shows on PBS. some kids watched cartoons on saturday mornings...i watched cooking shows. figures.

for various reasons, i haven't made my meaty read sauce for a long time. a very long time. a few days ago i decided to retake the memories and make this sauce mine once more. i bought the meat and put it in a prominent place in my fridge....so that every time i opened the fridge, i would see it. it was a reminder..."you are going to make the sauce...RIGHT?" i'm not very subtle about certain things, not even to myself.

after a conference call meeting with DH this afternoon, i decided to take a break from work and make the damn sauce. well, at least get it to the point where it was simmering away on the stove....i usually simmer it for about 4 hours. so i started by getting the hot oil and bacon going...once that was sizzling away, i added the anchovy fillets and once they started to disintegrate, i added dried sage, chili flakes, thyme, oregano, basil, and a bay leaf. remember, i dry my own herbs and it makes a huge difference. all of these herbs sizzled around in the hot fat. after a few swirls around the pan, then i added chopped onion (one large onion) and about 5 cloves of smashed garlic. once the onions began to become translucent, i added the meat..and in this case it was ground pork (other meats work well with this dish). as the pork was browning and still a little pink, i added some milk and let it simmer away.... at this point, it looked like this....


the dairy helps tenderize the meat. once almost all of the liquid has evaporated, i added some red wine...notice the difference in the color.....


then simmered that until it was almost all evaporated.....and then added the tomatoes......


more herbs (sage, thyme, oregano, and basil) as well as some salt, black pepper, and cayenne.


then it sits for a few hours on simmer...i check and stir it occasionally.

when it was sauce was ready, i added a scoop or two of hearty spicy sauce to some cooked buckwheat pasta (fresh).


there, i have done it. all mine.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

hmmmmm....another surprise

i noticed that pre-made spicy chocolate (i.e., hot chocolate, brownies, etc.) products are never spicy enough for me. there was always this moment of anticipation and then the inevitable disappointment. how...well.... disappointing. so i decided to change that and made myself some cayenne brownies a couple of days ago. yummmo. they were gooood. VF tried some and i believe i obtained the seal of approval....but as she aptly pointed out...they are not for everyone, especially not for those without a pretty good spice tolerance.

well, today, there was a little bit of brownie left. sniffle sniffle. i wanted to give it a proper send off. what to pair it with? this question is one i seem to be asking myself on almost a daily basis these days. after a moment or two of reflection, i decided to pair it with a plucot pudding that i had made last night. i am extremely happy with my plucot pudding...i used about 4 times more homemade conserve than i did with the blackberry pudding, blended the plucot with some silken tofu, and
voilĂ ... i have an amazing snack that think will be a part of my regular routine. it is that good.

so why not add these two experiments together and see what happens? i already knew that spicy heat and plucots go well together in a conserve...so why not try it with chocolate? fruit and chocolate...hmmm....i think sweet tart fruits and chocolate go very well together.

and you know what? they really do. what a surprise! no disappointment in sight.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

a surprising treat

i found another use for my homemade fruit and agave conserves....pudding! in this case, it is a blackberry pudding made with a homemade blackberry conserve (fresh blackberries and agave) and get this... silken tofu. this is the first time i've made a dessert with tofu and it turned out quite nicely. i can hardly believe it...it is actually tofu. quite a nice surprise.

the last of the figs

well, i used the last of the homemade fig conserve this morning. the sun has gone into hiding at the moment, so it seemed like a good morning for oatmeal.

i like my oatmeal super thick...so thick that i bet i could eat it with a fork. it has a risotto like consistency to it. in order to get it to the consistency i like, i cook it with milk and butter...and stand there stirring quite furiously so that it doesn't burn....until i get the consistency i want.


i then topped the thick and creamy oatmeal with the last of the homemade fig conserve. yummmmoooo.


sigh. bye bye figgy. i appreciate the time i was able to have with you. maybe i'll see you around sometime.

Friday, August 15, 2008

feast for friday


i had a veritable feast this afternoon. i think i needed it. i feel like i'm fending off this creeping sadness that would like nothing more for me to just curl up in bed and forget. sometimes when i wake up in the middle of the night...disoriented in the dark....i do forget.....i think i am somewhere else. that though, just makes me more sad. for so many different and conflicting reasons. like how can i be happy for my life now and sad at the same time? for my super analytical logical brain...it doesn't really compute. someone said...a while ago... that i can't treat my emotions like i'm parsing code.

it really would make things so much easier.

sadness is kind of funny that way. it likes to remind you that it is still there sometimes. just when you think it might be ok...that it has taken its tithe of time and memory... it decides to envelope you a bit unexpectedly.

i think there are many people that do not see or taste the healing power of food. i am definitely not one of those people. there is something about it...the balance of flavors....the "listening" to your body...finding the foods that you need. do you need warmth? do you need soothing? do you need a resounding crunch or a subversive crispiness? smooth custardy textures perhaps? how about the saltiness..the heartiness? do you need tastes of remembrance? or comfort? what is it that you need? these are all things i think about when it comes to healing and food. i don't just do this for myself, i also do this for loved ones...as you likely already know, and perhaps have already experienced.

today was a feast of pepper, spice, and sweetness....of soft savoriness with a crunch.

the first course was an arugula salad with fresh figs and ricotta salata. the dressing was a bit of an experiment.....rice wine vinegar, hazelnut oil, agave, kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper. it was superb for this salad. the pepperiness of the arugula, the sweetness of the figs, the saltiness of the salata...all complemented with the sweet, sour, and nutty dressing. it was absolutely lovely.

here is an even closer shot...


the next course consisted of ripe chunks of avocado, seasoned with freshly ground dried chili pepper (i'm experimenting with a mix of dried cayenne, habanero, and black pepper at the moment) and salt....



then i chopped some organic cherry tomatoes......the bright colors are amazing......doesn't that look absolutely lovely....

and mixed it together to put it on some toasted acme upstairs bread.



the combination of softness with a crunch. i think texture in food is extremely important and is often underrated.


at the last minute, i decided to smash some avocado on a second slice...so that it was more like spread...and then placed three slices of hot salami on it.


it was all very yummy and just what i needed. the sadness is still there...yet it just makes things a bit easier to bear.

good night.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

a fig in her ear...

tee hee.

what other blog out there makes references to george feydeau (j'adore farce), will smith, joss whedon, shakespeare, edgar allen poe, nina simone, hellboy, china mieville, jet li, and dickens when talking about food? naturally, these are just a few of my references in the odd ball posting mix that make up my random thoughts about food.

yet, sneaking in a reference here and there makes me snicker to myself while i type.....and it is my hope that you, dear heart, while you are reading these words...that maybe you'll be snickering too. maybe it is the ex-english major self maki
ng an appearance for a moment. or maybe it is because this blog reveals a bit more than just food...depending on what meta messages you can identify.

well, as you saw yesterday with my roasted figs with ricotta salata....i'm really into fresh figs at the moment. i decided to make a small batch of fresh fig conserve the other day that came out wonderfully. i didn't even add any habanero. no worries, i wasn't even tempted to add it.

making small batches of conserve is quite satisfying as it involves no canning. unfortunately, i'm not great with giving out recipes because...well...that isn't really how i cook. i go by look, taste, and feel.

yes, i know that is frustrating. many of you have frowned at me quite a bit after finding that one out. i bet you are frowning right now.

yet, i am much better at "showing you". so that is what i am going to do today.

first i quartered the fresh figs and put them in a small heavy sauce pan


then i squirt about...hmmmm.....maybe two or three tablespoons? of agave into the pot. then (here is the important part) i put it on the stove and crank the fire up to high. this is very important.


did i mention how important the heat is? making the small batch of conserve is all about having the high heat. something about the high heat releasing the pectin in the fruit..making it gel. the high heat also evaporates the water from the fruit. i also don't walk away. i stand there carefully stirring as it bubbles away....


you can see the conserve begin to change color and thicken. once it thickens to the point where it coats the back of a spoon....kinda like a chocolate syrup kind of thick...then it is ready to be removed from the pan to cool.

here is a close up shot.... see the thickness and the color....

at this point, i'll immediately put some on toast......yum...warm conserves


in this case, it was a slice of toasted cinnamon challah from semifreddi's. then, i'll put the rest aside for it to cool. once it has cooled, it goes into the fridge. it will thicken even more in the fridge and is great on cake, toast, morning buns, and yogurt. i think i may even try it on some oatmeal this week.

people that have tried my conserves are pretty shocked to find out that i don't have to use regular sugar. i used to make things primarily with sugar until a member of the family was put on a no processed white sugar restriction....which definitely motivated me to figure something out. a life without fruity sweetness? i think not.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

getting figgy with it

i saw you across the room. i couldn't help be drawn to you. it was just a moment. i suppose that is all it really takes doesn't it? just a moment. a glance....to peak a bit of curiosity and set anticipation in motion. as i approached you, i could see quite clearly how lovely you were. i picked you up gently from the display and shepherded you through the store. even the store cashier recognized your potential and handled you quite gingerly as well. once at home, i had to decide...what would be your best complement? what would be unique that would pay you appropriate homage? what could couple with your fresh juicy sweetness? ahhhhh. how about the salty and firm ricotta salata?


yes, that is it. hmmmmmmm. perfect.