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Barkitecture Doggy Trailer House

7 Nov

The spirit of the Austin food trailer movement was captured at Barkitecture this Saturday, a family and pet friendly event benefitting various rescue groups happening just across the river from Gypsy Picnic.

Happy Lunar New Year!

14 Feb

A peek into how we ushered in the Year of the Tiger at my folks’ last night:

Dad’s spring rolls filled with napa cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, and pork in the fryer.

Fresh out of the fryer spring rolls, great with a little soy sauce and black rice vinegar dipping sauce!  The Shanghainese also enjoy these with what they call “spicy soy sauce,” which is a sauce that is a cross between Worcestershire’s sauce and soy sauce due to the city’s long history of western influence.

Five spice roast beef and eggs, another one of Dad’s specialties and a perennial favorite around the house.

Sichuan Basa

Dad trying out something new: basa fish with dried chili peppers, pickled Sichuan chilis, and garlic over napa cabbage.  It’s similar to the water boiled fish dish at Sichuan style restaurants but this preparation doesn’t require quite as much oil.  A fish dish is always present at a Chinese New Year’s dinner because the Mandarin character for “fish” sounds exactly like the character for “surplus” (homonyms), thus eating fish is a wish that the rest of the year will be plentiful.  During tougher economic times in the history of China, when families could not afford real fish on New Year’s, a carved wooden fish (painted red for good luck) would be plated for the feast as a hopeful symbol of more bountiful times to come.

And a favorite from the Jiangxi Province where my mom is from: Jiangxi rice noodles (round instead of flat like Hong Kong style chow fun) with pork, onions, and green and red chilis.

The grand finale, the Doughmonkey Underground Patric chocolate cake foursome by the great pastry artist Rhonda Ruckman:

  • 70% Rio Caribe Superior chocolate cake
  • 70% Venezuelan Coffee chocolate cake
  • 70% Madagascar and Tasmanian Leatherwood Honey Chocolate Cake with Tasmanian Honeycomb
  • 70% Madagascar Sambirano Valley chocolate cake

Happy New Year to all!  May the Year of the Tiger bring you peace, prosperity, and most importantly, plenty of adventures in good food!

Cooking Tips from the CIA

14 Dec

Between the luggage fees, lack of peanut/pretzel snacks, and early 90’s TV monitors, I didn’t think anything could be enjoyable about my flight back from Puerto Rico.  But if American Airlines can’t do anything else right, the monthly American Way Magazine remains a trusty source for in-flight entertainment.  The November 15 issue featured an article about the Culinary Insitute of America in NYC with a useful list of cooking tips.  A few that I’ll be posting on my fridge:

  • Keep your knives sharp.  Dull knives are more dangerous than sharp knives.
  • Salt after, not during, sauteing for better browning (salt draws out water).
  • When boiling potatoes, start them in cold water so that the outsides don’t cook faster than the insides.
  • When you turn over a piece of meat or fish, set it down in a new spot on the grill or pan.  The previous part of grill/pan will not be as hot and will cause the meat/fish to stick.

Link for the rest of the cooking tips.

Happy Thanksgiving!

25 Nov

I won’t be having turkey on Turkey Day this year.  Instead, I’ll be indulging in some good old lechon in Anthony Bourdain’s #3 spot in the Hierarchy of Pork, Puerto Rico. 

I didn’t completely miss out on my favorite holiday, though.  This past Sunday, I cooked my very first whole turkey for a Thanksgiving potluck with a group of friends.  I was nervous about roasting the giant bird, but following the steps to this Bon Appetit recipe led to a juicy bird with great flavors of sage and apples.  I didn’t make my own turkey broth like the recipe recommends, just used some store bought chicken broth combined with the pan drippings to make the gravy.  If this is your first year doing the Thanksgiving bird, try this relatively easy recipe as it yielded a plump and moist turkey without any crazy tricks.

And thanks to the great friends who brought over all the trimmings (green beans, sweet potatoes, roasted potatoes, corn bread stuffing, and pumpkin pie), I’ve already had my awesome Thanksgiving feast.  Happy Turkey Day everyone!

Real Ale Coffee Porter

24 Nov

I brought home a six pack of this seasonal brew from Real Ale Brewing Company down in Blanco out of curiosity after reading its description, “brewed with organic barley and organic fair trade coffee from Katz Coffee Roasters.”  Caffeine and alcohol, two vices in one potent potion, how could I not try it?

The dark beer has a rust red tint when held up to light and smells strongly of roasted coffee.  The body is not as full as its nutty and caramely aroma would suggest, and feels a bit watered down.  The finish is mostly smooth with a tinge of bitterness like tasting that last cup from the coffee pot.

I’m no beer connossieur but this was an interesting product to try at least once.  For a fridge staple though, I’d much prefer Real Ale’s Fireman’s #4.


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