Posts Tagged ‘Food’

Tropical Caramel

January 30, 2012 - 12:54 am 1 Comment

Or as I like to call it, the mouthgasm.

It’s been a while since I’ve done a food blog, and I don’t think I’ve ever blogged anything sweet even though my friends would insist I’m a much better dessert chef than a savory chef, which is especially weird because I only very rarely enjoy sweets.

Tonight was one of those nights when I wanted something sweet.

I hope you do too.

What It Is:

Tropical Caramel, an amazing topping for… Fuck, I don’t know, everything ever? I used mine to top some right-out-of-the-box just-add-hot-milk banana oatmeal.

What You’ll Need:

1/2 banana, sliced into coins
3 tablespoons canned pineapple chunks(reserve some juice)
1/4 cup sugar (I used white)
1 tablespoon butter
1 dash cayenne pepper, powdered
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
A small non-stick frying pan

How to Do It (No Not Like That):

Heat yo’ pan, yo’. Put your frying pan over medium low heat, until it’s hot enough that when you drop your butter in it, the butter immediately sizzles but does not burn. If it doesn’t sizzle, turn up the heat.

Add the sugar into the melted butter and add just enough of the pineapple juice so that the sugar is damp. You won’t need very much at all. Let that ooey-gooey mixture bubble a bit. The moment it starts to take on any color, any at all, add the banana coins and the pineapple chunks.

Now wait. Okay, don’t just stand there. If you’ve got teh skillz, you can saute the fruit – and I do mean saute; make sure all of the pineapple bits and banana slices get flipped over at least once. If you ain’t got the skills, you can use a spoon or a fork or something I guess.

Once the fruits have taken on some nice, brown color, add the cayenne and the vanilla.

But wait! It’s time for science!

Why are we adding the vanilla now? Why don’t we just add it at the beginning when the sugar needs more moisture anyway?

Vanilla extract, as you probably know, is like 99% alcohol (okay, it’s actually a minimum of 35% and unless you’ve got the extra-strength stuff, it’s probably not much more than that) and if you paid attention in science class or have ever had a bonfire, you know that alcohol is pretty darn flammable. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean your caramel will catch fire (well, not if you’re careful) (I mean, unless that’s what you’re going for, but I wouldn’t attempt a flambe in my non-stick cookware), but it does mean that if you add the vanilla too soon, not only will all of the alcohol cook out, the flavor will as well and you just wasted, what, a buck fifty’s worth of vanilla.

That was science!

After you’ve added the pepper and the vanilla, another 30 seconds at a slightly-higher medium heat should give your fruits a nice color and a little bit of a singe.

It should look a bit like this:
Tropical Caramel
…but it wouldn’t hurt to be a bit darker.

That’s it. Seriously, that’s it. Use it like I did to top some really boring oatmeal, pour it over ice cream, or, fuck, eat it with a spoon.

Oh, and for the record? You’re welcome.

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.

Vegetarian Japanese Polka-Dot Rice

June 15, 2010 - 8:41 pm No Comments

Welcome to a segment I’m going to call Adventures in Being a Dirt-Poor Foodie.  Today I bring you a recipe I just concocted.  The inspiration for this was how much I love veggie dogs and how lazy I truly am.  What it is is pretty much the title: white rice with Japanese clear soup mix and polka-dots (maybe this is a Pittsburgh thing, but ‘polka-dot macaroni’ is when you cut up a hot dog and put it in a bowl of mac n’ cheese.  For this, I used a veggie dog, being the meatless sort I am, and put it in rice instead. Because, that’s why).


1/2 cup white rice (though I’d imagine any grain or variety of rice would work just fine)

2/3 cup water

1 veggie dog (if you’re a veggie person, go ahead and use whatever hot dog you please)

1 packet Japanese clear soup mix (though, once again, I’d imagine you could use miso mix or even a packet of ramen powder, butthat would seriously up the sodium content.  Additionally, it may make a difference that this mix is one packet to eight ounces of water.  It’s Sushi Chef brand, if we’re getting super technical)

Baby spinach leaves (as many as you like; I used four big’uns)

White mushroom caps (again, as many as you like, and probably whatever mushrooms you prefer. I used three)

1 medium garlic clove, chopped

2 tablespoons shallots, chopped (or onions, though you may want to use more, especially if you’re using white or sweet onions)

A pinch of habanero (if you’re into spicy food like me)

Margarine or butter (or vegetable oil or non-stick spray, it’s not really the flavor that matters here, it’s the fact that garlic is sticky)

Sounds yummy, now what do I do?

In a small to medium sauce pan, melt about a tablespoon of margarine (or butter).  Over a medium-low heat, saute the shallots, garlic, and habanero lightly.  Add as much margarine as it takes to keep the herbs scootin’ across the pan.  As they begin to brown, chop up the mushrooms and put them in.  You may need more non-stick.  Saute them, but only very lightly, since they’re going to continue to be cooked.

Splash in your 2/3 cup of water.  Now, I know most rice only requires as much water as rice, but there’s a lot going on in this pan already, so it might get soaked up.  Let the veggies mix in a bit with the water, then add the rice.  Mix it up, and add the packet of soup mix .  While that cooks, prepare your veggie dog.

Cook the hot dog however you prefer; boil it, fry it, grill it (though that would be a lot of work for one stupid hot dog).  For the record, I put mine in the microwave wrapped in a wet paper towel and nuked it for 45 seconds, because i am truly lazy.  Then, just let it hang out and cool.

Now, de-stem the spinach and chop or tear it up, and put it in with the rice.  Don’t forget to stir occasionally.   Let the spinach cook down just a smidge, and turn the heat down to low.  While that last bit of water is cooking away, get a bowl.  Chop up your cooked veggie into bits (I like mine dime-sized) and put it in the bottom of the bowl.  Then just pour the rice on top and voila! Dinner!  With plenty of food groups!  Enjoy with a spoon or chopstick and milk or Coke or whatever.  I’d imagine this would also be good as a side for something, though perhaps sans hot dog.  It might even be good with fish.

Now, as you figured, pretty much everything in this recipe is optional except for the rice and the soup and the hot dog, hence it being Japanese Polka-Dot Rice (don’t even hafta be vegetarian).  It’s really whatever you like; add carrots, celery, potatoes, whatever, just be mindful of individual cook times.  Pretty much everything in this recipe cooks up fast, but say, potatoes, not so much.

Since I am a giant foodie (read: a huge pig), I’m hoping to include more recipes in here, of my own styling, and maybe even of yours!  If you want to send me a recipe to try and/or post, just email it to me or even leave it in the comments (though if it’s got meat in it I can’t promise I’ll try it, though I may use Chris as a guinea pig).  And, if you’d like to be on my much neglected blogroll, hey, just drop me a line and let me know.  I’d love to get some affiliates, which I’m under the impression are internet friends.  I love friends!

That’s all for now.  I’m off to continue playing Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure on my pink DS, because secretly I’m nine years old.

The n00biest n00b, and a tea review.

May 17, 2010 - 4:53 am 2 Comments

You guys, you guys.

I just figured out how to reply to comments.

I will now reply to you.  I promise.

I won’t, however, be replying to ALL past comments (well, the ones that I would have, at any rate), just ones I receive from now on.  Okay.  Now tea.

I’m house sitting for my grandmother through next week, and I have discovered she has a cupboard full of wonderful-sounding teas.  The one which first caught my eye was Duchess-brand Peach Apricot Pure Ceylon tea.   I am a big fan of Republic of Tea’s Ceylons, and I thought this might be similar to the mango Ceylon that they carry (yes, I am aware that mangoes, apricots, and peaches are all entirely different fruit; it was just the only thing I had to compare to).

It was not.  I let it steep for about 4 minutes, added one teaspoon of sugar and one teaspoon of honey.  It was terribly, terribly bland, which was not what I was expecting, since the color was so dark and the smell upon opening the can was so rich, and, well, peachy.  All I could figure to do was add a little more sugar, and when I did, all I tasted was sugar.  Honestly, Lipton’s little tea bag peach tea was better than this (admittedly, I think Lipton has very good teas, but they’re not very adventurous, and yes, they are a little bland unless you let them steep a good while).

I had never heard of Duchess Teas before, and after this, probably won’t go out of my way to find anymore.

If you’ve had a different experience with them, let me know! In the comments! Which I now know how to reply to!

On a final note, a few hours ago I started reading Brock Clark’s (what a name) An Arsonist’s Guide to Writer’s Homes in New England.  I’m about a third of the way through, and if I have my way (read: if I don’t fall asleep on the couch) I’ll comment on it, and the final book in Christopher Paolini’s final book in the Inheritance trilogy, sometime tomorrow or Wednesday.