Tuesday, September 28, 2004

i've moved

hi all-
this site has moved to http://dexygus.typepad.com/, and has been renamed feeding dexygus seconds. as far as i know, this site will still exist unless blogger decides to delete it due to inactivity. i don't know if i'll be back. thus, if you make any new comments, i may not see them. please join me at my new site. mission saveur has begun!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

my new project

i've been feeling rather uninspired in the kitchen lately, and i'm even a bit over my indian food phase. flipping through cookbooks just hasn't helped. then an idea began to form. i've got stacks and stacks of food magazines that i rarely ever cook from. why not give them a try? i've decided to stick with saveur magazine because 1) i love it so, and 2) it will give me a wide variety of cuisines to choose from. so, my plan is whenever i cook something for dinner, i must choose something from saveur, AND i must cook at least one item from each issue i own, and in sequential order. the issues i have are 13-26, 32-35, 37-39, 47-78(current). so stay tuned to find out what issue #13 has in store for me.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

buddha's delight

a bowl of jai

it's times like this that i wish i'd paid more attention to my mother when she tried to teach me about our culture and heritage. first of all, i don't really know how to cook chinese food. second, i don't know much about chinese food in general. apparently, there are some "symbolic" dishes. well, the ingredients in the dishes are symbolic of things, anyway, like happiness, long-life, fertility, etc. one of these dishes is jai, or buddha's delight. (as an aside, i grew up knowing this dish only as jai. it wasn't until later in life that i discovered that it was also known as buddha's delight. in researching this topic, and googling "buddha's delight", i discovered this which i thought was quite amusing. if you've already seen it on my other blog, i apologize for repeating myself, but it's just too funny to mention just once.)

my mom used to make jai for us every so often, and later when i became a vegetarian, i realized just how good this dish is. it's sort of a stew of various ingredients including napa cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, wood ear mushrooms, bean threads, all manner of tofu (bean curd sheets, deep-fried tofu, pan-fried tofu), dried oysters, and possibly the most fun, hair moss, which is a freshwater algae that resembles, surprise, human hair. you can imagine the glee (or revulsion, depending on who you were) with which we ate this particular ingredient. the broth that is produced from cooking these ingredients together is thin and light, yet flavorful. i hate this word, but it's like "nectar" from these delicious ingredients. my mom also used to add fermented bean paste to give the dish more complexity.

now that my mom is gone, my dad has taken it upon himself to make jai for us. to be honest, it's not the same. it lacks the depth that my mom's had, and the flavor of tangerine peel is too over-powering. another thing is that his chunks of tofu are HUGE. don't get me wrong, i appreciate his effort. i just wish i'd paid attention to when my mom used to make it.

Monday, September 20, 2004

eastward ho!

i'll be visiting new york city october 5th to october 10th. so far we have reservations at babbo, cafe boulud (lunch), and joseph's citarella (because my friend m is dying to try bill yosses' warm vanilla cake. come to think of it, so am i). we're also planning to hit blue ribbon bakery, angon on the sixth, artisanal, pearl oyster bar, katz's deli, russ & daughters, kossar's, chikalicious, payard, city bakery, rice to riches, sugar sweet sunshine, magnolia bakery, jacques torres, and probably others i've forgotten. so many places to try, and only 14 meal slots. plus, breakfast is kind of a throwaway meal unless i find some really good pastries. i'm getting anxious thinking about how to whittle down my list. but really, where we are will dictate where we'll eat.

anyway, to any new yorkers reading this, or any others familiar with the city, am i missing any "must-tries"? i'm not interested in really high-end places on this trip. i travel with one large carry-on, and cannot fit in any fancy clothes. is there anything on my list that is a waste of time? i've heard that rice to riches is not all that good, and pretty touristy, but mr. dexygus is a rice pudding fiend, and is adamant about going, so no need to dissuade me of that choice. any other thoughts are much appreciated.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

when is a creperie a crap-erie?

yes, clever title, i know. ok, if you're offended by bodily functions, i suggest you skip this post. mr. dexygus and i had a quick lunch at la creperie du monde in san bruno. we hadn't been to this restaurant since it first opened, but as it got a pretty good review, and since i was craving cheese, we decided to give it another try. it seemed promising. the decor was much cuter than the sparse design i recall. there were many tempting items on the menu. i decided to go with the jardiniere. leeks, cheese, and creme fraiche in either an organic unbleached white flour crepe, or an organic buckwheat crepe. naturally, i chose the buckwheat.

i should've been wary when the crepe was served to me just warm. i actually mentioned it a couple times to mr. dexygus. i guess i thought i'd take my chances. i'm not sure what was going on in my mind. what a fool, but more on that later. the buckwheat crepe was actually very tasty. nutty and substantial. the filling was a bit lacking. i really didn't taste any tang of the creme fraiche, and like i said before, it was just warm. it was all edible though.

for dessert, i went with the honey and almond crepe which i enjoyed. the nuts were nicely toasted and crunchy. it was the perfect textural contrast to the soft honeyed crepe.

fast forward about 5 hours later. little twinges in my stomach. i knew there would be problems. went to the bathroom, and everything was fine. no pain or anything. then 30 minutes after that, oh man. cramping, sweating, doubling over. that was a bad session. curse you, la creperie du monde! mr. dexygus had been afflicted, as well, but not as badly as i. i wasn't sure if i'd gotten everything out of my system. what should i do? our dinner reservation at acquerello was in an hour. should i stay or should i go? well, i took my chances, and went to dinner (more on that in another post). i'm glad to report that i came out of that dinner unscathed. no emergencies to speak of. phew. but i'll be damned if i ever go back to that crap-erie.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

strange bedfellows

tofu sandwich

i used to eat this sandwich during my ovo-lacto vegetarian healthy days. i'd had something similar in a small cafe in a small northern california town. it was out in the boonies. i want to say it was guerneville, but i can't be sure, but it was definitely a town where you wouldn't expect vegetarian fare. the sandwich consists of tomato, avocado, cheese, and tofu marinated in a soy dressing. i know, i was hesitant at first. cheese AND tofu AND an asian marinade? sounds strange, but it's also strangely good, and very satisfying.

when i got home, i just had to make this sandwich. my trusty copy of vegetarian cooking for everyone happened to contain a marinade resembling the one from that small town cafe. i've changed it just a bit.

Sesame Ginger Marinade
adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
Deborah Madison

2 large garlic cloves, minced
4 tsp. finely chopped ginger
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
3 Tbsp. sesame oil
4 tsp. brown sugar
3 Tbsp. soy sauce

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Pour over drained, sliced tofu. Move slices around so that everything gets covered. Let sit for 15 minutes. Pan-fry each side until brown. Serve on whatever bread you like with whatever accompaniments you like.

my staples, part 4

fish jook with very cute spoon

i've been so drained from work lately that i haven't had any inclination to cook. last night we had takeout from porridge king (or as we affectionately call it, po king) in daly city. it's not fabulous, but when the chinese place down the street is closed, and you're craving jook, this is the place to go. jook, also known as congee, or rice porridge is the ultimate chinese comfort food, for me, anyway. it's basically rice and stock simmered for hours until it's a thick soup. some people like it thin, some like it thick. i usually don't have a preference, unless it's thick as oatmeal, then i really can't eat it. you can put pretty much whatever you want in it. my very favorite is hundred year old egg. my least favorite jook ingredient is boiled peanuts. i can't stand how soggy they get. this time i just had fish jook. it had a great texture. the rice still had some form, but was very soft. and it was full of big chunks of white fish and shredded ginger. i'm actually eating the leftovers as i type. mmm, slurpaliciously good.

dad used to make jook for us every sunday. i really miss that now that i'm grown and out of the house. i've only made jook once, and it was years ago. it turned out ok, but it was a lot of work. and really, when you can get it cheap, fast, and good elsewhere, i can't really imagine going through the trouble.

Porridge King
55 Skyline Plaza
Daly City, CA 94015

Friday, September 03, 2004

ew ew ew

creepy crawly colony

you may be wondering what the above picture is depicting. i was about to make biscuits for my dog kurn yesterday when i opened up my container of whole wheat flour, and found this. grain mites. luckily, the infestation was limited to that container, and an adjacent bag of semolina flour, but man, it grossed me out. it makes me wonder what the source of the mites was. i'd used both flours before with no indication of mites. the whole wheat flour was quite old, maybe 2 years, and if it was the source, i would expect the infestation to be more severe. i know, i know, you're not supposed to keep whole wheat flour around that long, but do you expect me to toss it in the trash? well, the colony of mites made me trash it in a hurry. so it must have been bob's red mill semolina flour. unless those beasties are hiding out elsewhere in my pantry. *shiver* perish the thought.

kiss my grits

a down-home meal

on wednesday i found myself in intense need of some comfort food. if you've ever tried the white cheddar grits at Miss Millie's in noe valley, then you'll know that this dish is the epitome of comfort food. warm, creamy, cheesy, goopy goodness. i found a recipe here awhile back that is incredibly good. it's been some time since i was last at Miss Millie's, so I don't remember exactly what their grits are like, but these grits are close to my memory of what they were like.

i decided to make that night's dinner a southern meal, or at least what i, being a native san franciscan, believe to be a southern meal. i served up some fried catfish, and fried okra. hoo boy. that was some serious artery-clogging chow.