Archive for June, 2011

Allow me to bring you joy.

June 29, 2011 - 6:35 pm 1 Comment

Toasted garlic lemon chick peas.

Let me show them to you.

I got so many inquiries about this on Twitter I decided to devote a whole post to this delicious concoction so that you can make them in your own home and stop pestering me about them.

Whatcher gonna need:
1 can chick peas (garbanzo beans)
4 cloves garlic
2 tbsp dried lemon zest OR the juice of one lemon
1 tsp margarine/butter
1/2 tsp olive oil
A pinch of salt and pepper
Large frying pan and lid
Paper towels

First things first – prep:

Open the chick peas and dump them in the colander.  Shake them around to get them as dry as possible.  Then line a bowl with a paper towel and pour the chick peas into the bowl.  Let them sit a moment while you put the frying pan over a medium heat and put in the 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil and 1/2 a teaspoon of margarine – not the whole teaspoon, just half of it for now.

Fun fact: Why butter AND oil?  Butter or margarine is for taste.  Oil doesn’t absorb as much into the food and takes a much higher temperature to burn.  A little of both is delicious and a better environment for your food!

At this point you can also chop up your four cloves of garlic.  Do them to a consistency you like: if you don’t want to actually eat any of the garlic pieces, halve them.  If you don’t mind munching some (absolutely delicious) roasty-toasty garlic, chop it up fine.

Let’s get cooking:

At this point you can go ahead and pour the chick peas into the hot pan.  A word of warning: they’re going to sizzle, since they’re very moist on the inside, and sometimes they even pop with enough force to escape from the pan.  Just chuck ‘em back in.  Add your lemon zest or juice now as well so it has enough time to integrate well into the chick peas.  DO NOT COVER, since you want the peas to become as dry as possible.

Depending on the size of your pan, you can let these guys toast up for between ten to fifteen minutes.  Every few minutes, put the lid on the frying pan, hold it down tight, and give those chick peas a good hard shake.  Flip ‘em all around, take the lid back off, and let them toast a little more.

Once the chick peas are looking dry and significantly darker than when they started, add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of butter and your garlic.  Let it toast up, continuing to put the lid on every now and again to give your chick peas and garlic a proper saute.  This step should take between five and seven minutes, and you can consider your garlic good and done when it’s toasted brown on all sides.

Take the chick peas off of the heat and sprinkle with salt and pepper to your own liking.  Let them sit in the hot pan for another moment or so, and then put them in a bowl lined with a paper towel to absorb any remaining moisture, butter, or oil.  Give ‘em a good shake, pull away the paper towel, and enjoy!  Careful: those little buggers are very hot right out of the pan!

If you want to mix it up, here are some other ingredients you could use (some of these I’ve tried, some I’ve not):

Add these ones at the same point you would add the lemon:
Red pepper flakes
A favorite salad dressing (this could get messy if it’s a creamy dressing, and might burn, but oil-based ones should be fine)

Add these when you would add the garlic:
Fresh chili peppers
Baby spinach
Mint leaves

Or anything really.  Just be aware of the burning times of the things you want to add: chick peas are extremely resilient, where as herbs and vegetables burn quickly, but dried ones take a while to re-hydrate and release their flavors.  If you come up with something good, let me know!

Bonus round:

If you like a little more salt and don’t mind getting a little messy, while the chick peas are still hot in the bowl, add a little Parmesan cheese – nothing fancy, just the sprinkly kind out of a canister.

So there’s my magic snack time recipe – super filling, and super healthy.  Now you can stop bugging me about it and add a whole new level of delicious to your life.

All sushi is good sushi. I guess.

June 20, 2011 - 9:39 pm No Comments

Well, I was gonna clear out all my spam comments but I got really bored with that so instead I’ll talk about two things I really love:

Food and Pittsburgh.

More importantly, food in Pittsburgh.

A good friend of mine had a birthday this past Friday and since nobody doesn’t like hibachi, he held his party at Saga, which is that new sushi/hibachi in Settler’s Ridge (that’s where the Giant Eagle USS Market District Starship Food Emporium is, and that is another tale for another time).

I’d mentioned the gathering to my boss, and though he had not personally eaten there, many of his friends had, and he had… well, let’s just say, not heard good things.

And now I know why.

Let me say on the face of it, Saga is not a bad place to eat by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I’ll say up front that the hibachi chefs themselves are the best I’ve ever seen.  Those who ordered hibachi (see: everyone but me as I am a pescatarian, though I regretted my decision upon finding out there was swordfish hibachi and I’ve always wanted to try swordfish) said it was good, though I’ll get into that more in a moment.

First I ordered iced tea.  Let’s forget I’m a tea snob for a moment, but when my iced tea arrived it was very much warm tea and very little ice, and I was the only one at the table who didn’t get a lemon.  The waitress also forgot to mention that the tea is unsweetened and you have to ask for sugar and you’d better damn sure want that sugar because it’s gonna take a good ten minutes for you to get it.  It also tasted less like black tea and more like burnt.  That about set the tone.

I ordered sushi, two different rolls, with a sashimi appetizer.  My sashimi arrived with everyone else’s appetizers and was possibly the most gorgeously plated dish I’ve ever seen.  It came with the standard bean sprouts and ginger, but the whole thing was served on a sasa no happa (a large bamboo leaf) with an orchid bloom and was arranged immaculately.  It was cheaper than most sashimi plates at only $9, but for obvious reason: I only got nine pieces of fish, which I considered reasonable.  But though all the garnish was beautiful, there was a hell of a lot more of it on the plate than there was food, and it left me thinking I’d missed something somewhere.

Though I got my appetizer at a reasonable time, I also got my first sushi roll at… exactly the same time.  Now, I’m not a fan of warm sushi, and I’m also not a fan of being done with all of my food by the time everyone else has, well, started, and I wanted to watch the hibachi being cooked, so I had to sit, and let my sushi get warm.  That was the first real problem.  The second was that the sushi was far too huge.  Proper sushi etiquette (and if you don’t care for that, simple ease of eating) dictates that you don’t take bites, you put the whole slice in your mouth at once.  Let. Me. Tell. You. What.  I would have to have been a tyrannosaurus to fit one piece of this sushi in my mouth at once.  They were huge!  Bigger may be better, but when your sushi is the width of a pepperoni roll and so loosely configured that if you do try to take a bite it all falls apart in your soy sauce dish, you become aware that there may be a problem.  These, despite the impossibility of such a maneuver, were three-bit pieces.  And that is not cool.  I’m sure they would have been delicious if I could have fit them into my mouth in one go, but as it stood, I had to pick them apart and eat them bit-by-bit.  Warm.

I also stole the husband’s ginger-dressed salad since he’s anti-ginger (but loves red-heads, I promise), and I have to say…  Well, there’s good ginger dressing, and there’s bad.  They tried to make this gingery enough to soothe those who actually know what ginger is supposed to taste like but palatable enough for those more familiar with ranch dressing, and they failed.  The dressing tasted like nondescript orange vegetable mash.  And that’s bad.

The husband, having ordered hibachi, informed me that the food was fine but had perhaps a bit too much teriyaki.  Take that with a grain of salt, as he likes his food a bit blander than most.  What he was right about were the sauces.  The traditional sauces, being the shrimp and steak dipping sauces, were both a little bit off.  The shrimp sauce was not creamy enough and a bit too tangy, in an effort to be more akin to cocktail sauce.  It didn’t work.  The steak sauce was a good sauce all around, but not a shining example of hibachi by itself.

I was left with the feeling that Saga had gone out of their way to hire the very best chefs they could get their hands on, who put on the best food-related show anyone had ever seen, and hoped that that would cover for the mediocre nature of absolutely everything else in the restaurant.  So if you want a good show, by all means, give Saga a try.  But if you just want some delicious and reasonably-priced sushi or hibachi with good service and a good atmosphere, for heaven’s sake just go to Yokoso.


June 12, 2011 - 1:05 am No Comments

Since I last updated this blog,

I have incurred over $21 in library fines. I will pay them off, I promise.

I got a new job, which didn’t at first leave me much time for updating this blog.

I received over 1600 emails, about three of which I’ve read.

I have not checked Facebook more than thrice.

I became addicted to a certain series of video games which I’m sure will work their way into this blog.

And so on.

What I have been doing, aside from playing said video games, is reading like a fiend.

Kristen, who makes myriad appearances within the text of this blog and even more within the context of my life, convinced me finally to watch BBC’s Sherlock.  It being streaming on Netflix didn’t hurt either.  Suffice is to say, I fell in love.  But what does one do when one is faced with a series containing only three episodes?

One reads the books one should have read as a child.

And that’s what I’ve been reading.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s collective works are now lodged firmly at the top of my Kindle’s list, right underneath Thread Words (it’s a real problem).  I read at least one of the short stories every day, mostly on the bus to work (which, I confess, was initially a plot to stop people from talking to me on the bus.  It didn’t work).

But what do you say about a century-old series of short stories which everyone knows and no one has read?

You say how funny they are, how the clever interjections Holmes makes and the first-person narrative of the keen Watson hold up to a century of hype and expectation.

You say that the absolutely logical deductions that Holmes makes are typically neither far-fetched nor impractical and that if you yourself were capable of such leaps someone would have created dozens of television programs loosely based on your life as well.

And you say that if such crimes really ever took place the world would be a more interesting place to live.

So that’s what I say, in brief.  I also say that everyone should be forced to read Sherlock Holmes and I also point out how Wishbone cleverly forgot to mention all the cocaine Holmes jammed into his arm.

Funny thing, that.