30.1.12

terrific, pacific.























We need more vegetables. Back in our former lives, we vaguely remember making a couple of broccoli things that we used to eat all the time, but I can only seem to find this one, from an oft-used and now dilapidated and barely-usable pan-Asian cookbook called Terrific Pacific by Anya von Bremzen.

You can see that this was a well-loved cookbook, despite the mid-90s graphic design nightmare that is the cover. That is the whole book really. As a physical object, this thing is quaintly misguided, dated, and, um, shoddy (! damn, grrl, wtf? It uses Curlz MT, OK?).

But the content! I'd kind of forgotten about it until this week, but looking at it again, it's one of the most useful cookbooks we own, almost every sidebar is informative in one way or another, and the recipes are well-selected and authentic.

Since it's only $0.01 from Amazon I should buy another one, because as you can see, this one has fallen apart into 10 or 11 sections. Not so useful for actually finding anything, but kind of nice as a random-access nostalgia generator: for example, the "Cooking Squid" page sticking out of the top reminds me of one of my earliest bachelor gourmet cooking attempts, where I actually did that thing that cookbooks always fucking tell you to do. "Go see your local Asian fishmonger for the freshest (and cheapest!) fish around."

I went to Buford Highway to one of the "International Farmers Markets" (really just a big Asian grocery store), and as the only non-Asian person there, I must have provided a few minutes of good entertainment trying to pantomime "squid" and "dead, please" to the non-English-speaking guy with the dirty apron and the big knife.

But when I got it home, it was in fact squid and thankfully dead. And I did cook it the way Terrific Pacific told me to (3 minutes, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, basil, lime, sugar, cilantro, mint, basil). And while I was doing so, a repairman came to fix something, probably something one of our friends had pissed on or threw up on or otherwise destroyed, and he said: "Man, what the hell you cooking? You a chef or something? Smells like a damn restaurant in here...I got to get me some lunch after this".  

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broccoli with miso sauce.

2 tbsp shiro miso
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 and 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp raw sugar
2/3 cup chicken or vegetable broth
2 tsp sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste

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pock pock.























When the hangover strikes: strike back with ma po tofu and a frozen pizza.

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ma po tofu.

500g tofu
90g ground beef or pork
1/2 cup scallion whites, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces

1 tbsp Chinese chili bean sauce
1 tbsp Chinese black bean sauce
1/2 tsp shirichi togarashi

1 tsp chilli oil
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp dry sherry
1 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp sesame oil
1.5 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1.5 tbsp cold water
1 tsp szechuan peppercorn, toasted, ground, and well-sifted
Boiled white rice to serve

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evil twin.


Two new beer places finally visited last night: Beer Temple and Cafe De Spuyt.

Well neither place is really "new": Beer Temple's probably been there a year or two and de Spuyt has supposedly been there for 50 years.

I wish I'd gone to de Spuyt much much sooner, it's my kind of room: dark wood and red walls, seats at an actual bar, and 100 interesting beers. It's been on my list of recommendations for a long time, so it was good to verify that it's totally worth recommending.

Beer Temple is quite different, run by the Arendsnest people and focusing on American microbrewed ales. The ambience is fine, a bit sterile but at least it's nice and dark. Prices are a little expensive, but most of these beers can't be found anywhere else in this neck of the woods, so it's all about priorities. One extra nice thing about Beer Temple is that for snacks they offer unusual trappist cheeses and some bootykicking chorizo from Frank's Smoke House.

It was all, yes, you guessed it: nice.

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28.1.12

pud'nhed.

I've seriously been living like a lazy retired person for the last month (versus an industrious retired person), and I really can't remember the last time I've enjoyed doing so little so much.

There's almost no guilt at all: I just kind of wake up whenever, usually around 11. I have one or two cups of coffee and shoot the shit with Mara, at which point there's often the first discussion of the day regarding what's for dinner.

Then I fuck around online for a bit looking for recipes and/or stretch some work-related task that should take 10 minutes into something like 2 hours. Throughout we will typically engage in some sort of advanced kung fu dancing or hallway battle or general horseplay to liven things up.

I usually threaten to work out at this point but never end up doing it. Sometimes I take a shower regardless.

Then about 50% of the time we've been taking a nap around 3 or 4. After which we get up and possibly play Scrabble and I go to the store and then we make dinner or we make dinner and watch a movie or some other combination of those activities.

Around 7pm I sometimes like to watch Eggheads or one of TLC's makeover shows (during which I am actually saying to my TV screen things like "Oh you're not going to put her in that, are you)?. Then we either eat or watch a movie or fuck around on the internet for a bit or whatever leisure activity we didn't do before dinner. Then we go to bed and read for a while.

It's about to end, but while it lasted it was AWESOME.

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When I was little, I wasn't really the foodie I am today. I was a celiac kid, so I didn't eat the same way most other children ate until I "grew out of" my illness/allergy (more on this soon, I'm considering returning to a gluten-free diet for a while). I tended to fixate on sweet things more than savory.  One of my absolute favorite things was either Rice Krispies or Frosted Flakes with blueberries and/or bananas, I've been fantasizing about it lately (when I say fantasize, I mean in a wholesome way, like imagining a version of Momofuku's "cereal milk" with blueberries and bananas).

I also loooved lemon, just about more than anything except maybe chocolate. At some point in my adult life, lemon kind of faded away or receded into the background of my favorite tastes, but at some point over the past few years it's come back.

Tonight after a diverting won ton soup experiment and some Dun Yong gyoza, Mara whipped up a perfect lemon pudding topped with blueberries and we ate it. That's the whole story. Supersatisfying.

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lemon pudding.

2/3 cup raw sugar
1/8 cup cornstarch
1 cup milk
2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
Pinch salt
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature

This will all happen superfast, so watch it. Whisk the sugar and the cornstarch together in a medium saucepan. Add the milk and whisk until smooth. Add the egg yolks, zest, and salt and cook, stirring frequently at first and constantly towards the end, over medium heat until thickened enough to thickly coat the back of a spoon.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and butter. Pour through a strainer into a large serving bowl or 2 individual serving dishes.

Let cool to room temperature. Chill, loosely covered, for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days, or until set and thoroughly chilled. Serve chilled.

27.1.12

sloppy quo.























EDIT 2012: How is it possible that Mara and I are the only people in the history of the internet to have uttered the phrase "sloppy quo"? We are toying with the idea of making them again, inspired by this.

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Original post, May 1, 2005: Fucking Wikipedia, man. So impressive sometimes. This post shall be completed at a later date, but the gist of it is: Mara and I had serious nostalgic cravings for a Sloppy Joe the other day (the normal American version, not that Jersey abomination, which should be called the "Cuban Reuben"), only problem being that we're not eating meat these days.

Turning to our cadre of meat substitutes, I tapped Quorn Fijngehakt as the lucky cadet. And frankly I thought the results came out perfect...you know, as perfect as vegetarian Sloppy Joes can. If I can ever find the recipe I scribbled down on some piece of paper that I'm sure has something else even more important on the other side, I'll post it here (2012 EDIT: the paper was never found).

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rarebit.

Yeah, not even sure what I'm writing about yet, makes it hard to title a post.

One thing: I think we're headed back down to normal food budget levels, after enjoying a month or so of eating like some other family, one with money. It was nice while it lasted.

Also, it's been a looooong, long time since there's been any kind of dietary moderation happening here, like sustained moderation in the form of what many would call a "diet". Which, as I understand it, when combined with a program of daily exercise, can result in personal size diminishment.

One challenge is that after a year of pretty much eating whatever I felt like eating, I have kind of fallen in love with crusty bread again. And soft cheese. And dark chocolate. You know, the Good Things. Also, I have renewed my love for eating whenever I feel like eating, which tends to be later in the evening. Like after midnight. They don't call me Ratboy for nothing.

This is just kind of turning into a complaint, isn't it, albeit one that I hope will serve as a mopey manifesto for Winter 2012 Cooking and Eating.

It's too cold for raw vegetables. Bah.
I don't love soup.
I just want sandwiches.
And hot gooey things. I feel like I could easily eat pizza every day for a few weeks. Maybe I'm pregnant? High?

Maybe I'll just try and exercise constantly so I can spend my all of my non-exercising time eating pizza.

There's a post in here somewheres.

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26.1.12

this is how we clean the pantry.



















This was highly edible, almost really super good. I'd had dried black-eyed peas sitting around for a long time so I made a very harissa- and garlic-centric hummus out of them last night. Today I tried an Israeli-style hummus-crusted fish with it, then served it with a pile of cilantro and the leftover ruby kraut from the tempeh thing.

Drizzled with sriracha, it was a totally gourmet lunch, but would've been even better with a drizzle of a tahini cream sauce and some quick beet or cucumber pickles. I must warn you, this makes a lot of hummus.

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black-eyed pea hummus with harissa.

3 cups cooked black-eyed peas
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1-2 tbsp harissa
2 tbsp EV olive oil
1 or 2 tsp ground cumin
3 or 4 tbsp tahini
salt to taste
possibly water for thinning, or more olive oil

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24.1.12

this is how we clean the fridge.























I think I'm going to try two computerless days a week. I've been considering it for a couple of days, but haven't had the balls to start.

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We've made this recipe a few times without ever writing it down or really talking about it other than here. And it's because there's something just a little not quite right about it (IMHO). There's too much going on in its original configuration, which reminds me a little bit of a certain style of  vegan cooking that desperately throws things into a dish willy-nilly in order to make it taste like something.

But: the combo of textures and flavors here is really promising (why ginger and rosemary go together always mystifies me a bit, but they continue to do so). The quickest and easiest solution to the overcomplicatedness of the original was to eliminate the sourdough bread that it is supposed to be served on. So now it's just tempeh, gravy, slaw, potatoes, spinach.

EDIT: HBF/tc showed up in the Comments section to emphasize the gravy. And she's totally right: when I started putting this dish back together to figure out what parts went great together, the tempeh and the gravy were indisputably chompable. I didn't post the gravy recipe b/c ours wasn't vegan, but I will re-amend this post eventually with the real thing.

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de-sandwich-ized open faced tempeh sandwich with herbed mushroom gravy, garlic-rosemary mashed potatoes, fresh spinach, and ruby kraut.

tempeh
400gr tempeh
1/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup apple cider
1/4 cup tamari
1/4 cup brown rice vinegar

Bake uncovered in a single layer for 35 minutes at 350F.

ruby kraut
almost a head of red cabbage
2 cloves garlic
1-2 tbsp ginger syrup
2 tbsp oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tsp sesame oil
3 tbsp cilantro, chopped
salt and pepa to taste

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sunday potluck.























Salpicon. Courgette in agrodulce, kind of based on these flavors. Manicotti with spinach and artichokes. Those brownies.

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21.1.12

buñuelos.























buñuelos de bagre con srirachaioli.

500gr panga/catfish filet
3 medium potatoes
3 eggs
3 cloves garlic, pressed
pinch saffron
1 onion, minced
1/2 cup celery leaves, minced
3 tbsp white port
1 to 2 tbsp smoked paprika
salt
pepper.
oil for frying

sriracha
mayonnaise

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the final countdown.


















Maybe the reason I always like arriving in Rotterdam is because it seems like I always end up walking through Chinatown and having a sandwich at Kiem Foei (two below), their bread is excellent and everything I've ever had there has been nice and spicy. Mei Sum (one below) is a bakery that I keep meaning to try. Electricity (bottom) is, yeah, pretty much just that.

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18.1.12

the cruelest month.

















Oooh. Seriously nasty winter weather. Above photo taken from ferry, which crashed into the dock earlier in the day, with little Mara on it, injuring six people, bleeding head wounds, etc. It was in the news and everything.

Below photo taken from Stork, where we had post-run debrief and weather escapement accompanied by little expensive fried things: good shrimp croquettes and really really good bacalao fritters, I'm going to try and recreate them tonight.

Bottom: three things from Le Sud, a new vegetarian Mediterranean/Middle Eastern deli on the Haarlemmerstraat that has been getting great reviews. Everything was pretty good if a little undersalted.

















15.1.12

time machine.























The photo is from November 2011 after a WAFTUG rehearsal in Groningen. The recipe below is from our past (and our present I guess, we made it last night), it's one of the first delicious things we cooked together back in 1997 or so. It sounds boring and retro, but man is it a complementary and comforting mix of flavors and textures that almost justifies the term fusion. I feel like I've posted about it before but I can't find it if I did.

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salmon a la 1997 (maple-soy-ginger glazed salmon with mustard mashed potatoes and sesame spinach).

1 cup pure maple syrup
2 tbsp finely grated peeled fresh ginger
4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 pressed garlic clove
500gr salmon
1 bunch scallions, whole but with roots cut off

Basically combine first five ingredients and reduce over very low heat for 10-20 minutes to make a thickish glaze, salting to taste. Preheat oven to 175C. Coat salmon pieces with reduced glaze and lay on bed of scallions. Bake for 20 minutes, checking halfway through to reglaze if necessary. Serve each piece of salmon on a bed of 3 or 4 scallions on top of a pile of mustard mashed potatoes with some sesame-sauteed spinach on the side, none of which really requires any further explaining, does they?

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12.1.12

feelin' froggy.























Blogging like the wind I am. This will probably turn into a discussion of one of the following: our new refrigerators; what to do with current leftovers; or Moroccan bread.

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basbousa.























Wow, I just had a blip of a flashback/fantasy where I wrote a piece of code that went out to the online TV Guide, looked at the three to seven Hollywood films that are on the major Dutch networks every night, then went out to Metacritic and found out their metascores and averaged them, so I could have like a daily Cultural Apocalypse Quotient just handed to me.

Tonight's is a good one: we have Demolition Man (34/100), The Saint (50/100), Night at the Museum 2 (42/100), A Cinderella Story (25/100), and Intolerable Cruelty, which gets a 71 out of 100, BUT unfortunately stars Catherine Zeta-Jones, for whom Mara and I harbor such an irrational hatred that we are unable to watch any movie featuring her except High Fidelity (79/100), so there would be some automatic adjustment code happening for special cases like this.

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Ummm....right. A few days ago I sent Mara an article from Serious Eats about 10 great winter desserts featuring oranges or something, oh wait here it is. I sent it to her because she really likes winter oranges and because I really like it when someone makes dessert for me.

Her choice from that list was the Orange Semolina Cake, which sounded great and was an interesting recipe (you puree two oranges whole, skins and all, for example): little did I know that it was essentially a recipe for one of my favorite desserts of, if not all time, then of the last 5 years or so: basbousa. Anyway, it turned out really really authentic-tasting, and if you want some, come by, 'cause there's lots.

Speaking of which, this recipe: it makes an imposingly dense cake that you will want to share with other people. We tripled the amount of syrup in the original recipe because that's the only way it really seemed like the basbousa that I know.

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orange semolina cake (aka basbousa, revani).

syrup
2 cups sugar
3 tbsp lemon juice
3 tsp orange blossom water
2 and 1/4 cup water

cake
2 almost softball-sized navel oranges, scrubbed
3/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup sugar
5 large eggs
2 cups semolina
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup almond flour
1 cup untoasted almonds with skins, chopped

Fill a medium pot halfway with water. Add oranges and boil until softened, about 45-60 minutes, you might have to add more water. Drain and let cool. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9 1/2 inch cake pan.

In a small saucepan, combine sugar, lemon juice, orange blossom water, and water. Bring heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves. Let mixture come to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 6 minutes. Let cool.

Quarter oranges and remove the seeds but not the skin. Place oranges in a food processor and pulse until you have a smooth pulp. In a large bowl, combine orange pulp, oil, sugar, and eggs. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. In a small bowl, whisk together semolina, baking powder, and almond flour. Stir dry ingredients into orange mixture.

Pour batter into pan and garnish top with chopped almonds. Bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 40 minutes, but keep an eye on the almonds on top, ours browned really fast and we had to cover the top with foil. Cool cake for ten minutes then pour syrup over the top.

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11.1.12

space invadors.















In progress, based on this but the below proportions/ratios seem to work OK.

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niu rou mian (sichuan beef/noodle soup).

1/8 cup peanut oil
a 2 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled, cut into 1/3-inch-thick rounds, each smashed with flat side of knife
3 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 cups chopped onions
2 1/2 tbsp chili bean paste (Sichuan hot bean paste; dou ban jiang)
3 whole green onions, trimmed, plus 2 cups chopped green onions (for garnish)

1/2 cup (or more) soy sauce (do not use low-sodium)
3-4 whole star anise
2 tbsp raw sugar
1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
1 pound eggless Chinese wheat noodles (Shandong la mian)
2 to 3 cups bok choy, sliced
Chopped fresh cilantro (for garnish)

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x=2012.

This entry is in-progress. I could just save it as a draft, but I never finish anything I save as a draft, and I would like to finish this.

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I really thought I was going to write some kind of year-end wrapup for 2011. I had all that time and everything, from, say, 21 December til, say, now, and then, yeah, nothing happened. Excessive punctuation happened.

OK, useful things too. Reorganizing the apartment happened. Going out like normal people happened.

I read something about introverts a while back that seemed familiar enough to where I kind of adopted it as an explanation for why I do things. It basically said something like "extroverts thrive on social contact and are energized by it, whereas introverts are worn down by it and need time to process their experiences and recharge before continuing to be social", or something along these lines. 

And basically for me, 2011 was a year of downright historical amounts of social contact, so it would make sense that the quiet aftermath would involve a proportional amount of processing time. I think at some point around October it was almost like I couldn't handle any new social/experiential input b/c I had this backlog of recent input shit that needed dealt with. 

I mean yes, also, perspective: it wasn't like any of this just "happened" to me. I did it all to myself. But yeah, the two big new things I did this year, I did them at the same time: one work-related and planned, one personal and totally unplanned, and together they just tore my unprepared ass up.

What's the opposite of a phoenix? At a certain point I just devolved into this frustrated, selfish, burned-out, more-unhealthy-than-usual version of myself because it seemed like I was constantly failing at everything, including the existing personal life I'd enjoyed pre-2011.

Lessons Were Learned. Personal Growth Occurred. Etc. But: if you were engaged with me in some humanoid form throughout the March 2011-December 2011 timeframe, I'd like to simply offer you a brief but heartfelt apology and say: I think I'm better now.

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7.1.12

a-fusion + onze eigen willy (nsfw).


















This is a record-breaking number of evenings out for me and Dr. Moop. Tonight's adventure started with a beer at Brouwerij De Prael, and then we relocated a couple of streets over to A*Fusion for some little various nibbles. A couple of Singhas, some sushi, a garishly marinated octopus salad (sorry guys), an unusually syrupy but somehow good hot & sour soup, Peking duck pancakes, and cha siu buns, all tasting relatively homemade and not too chock full o' preservativos.

I've always liked A*Fusion. It's a good place to go when you know you want something Asian and can't make up your mind exactly what. Plus it's a way for me to get some Peking duck for under 10 euros. And they have my favorite daikon cakes. And the staff has always been very friendly and ready to laugh. I don't know: the sushi is fresh, everything else seems pretty well-done, you could do a lot worse in Chinatown.

Then a walk through the red light district (maybe I'm getting old, but I had no idea that fisting had become mainstream enough to warrant its own dildo variant, below, on the wall, above the giant penis dildo) to In de Wildeman for a nightcap (Rogue Double Dead Guy and Rodenbach Grand Cru). Well done.










my birthday dinner.



















These were actually the best bitterballen I've ever had. And not just because I was rabidly hungry. Our movie at Kriterion (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) started 20 minutes late and then had the gall to last 127 more minutes. Which meant that by the time we got to Cafe Maxwell (above) to taste their supposedly delicious 14-euro burger, the kitchen was closed.

But the deep fryer was open and my blood sugar was dangerously low, so we ordered some bitterballen, which we kind of expected to be the most pathetic and bad birthday dinner ever, but they were actually way more edible than your average bitterbal. There was a hint of curry to them and, I don't know, they were just pretty much delicious.  Then we had a couple more beers, then we came home and ate a bag of BBQ Baked Lays (which have somehow only just arrived in Holland) with sour cream.

4.1.12

vegetize me.























Above, an irrelevant but delicious taleggio/sundried tomato/basil/chive/black pepper knackepizza.

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Just a note: spinach salad with hard-boiled eggs, candied pecans, red onions, a tiny bit of gorgonzola and warm bacon dressing is a great great thing. How could we do a vegetarian version of this?

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