Tag Archives: food

Mobile Spanish Omelete

“See, if I had something that I could eat for breakfast while walking to the light rail then it eliminates that 10 minutes it takes for me to make the oatmeal as well as the clean up time at the end of the week when I do all the dishes and at the end of the week that’s almost an hour more  I could be sleeping! Too bad we don’t know some smart people who could make something like that!”

So goes the long winded logic of BreakUp Guy, which was a flimsy attempt to challenge me to come up with something that was a walking breakfast. I really should tell him that type of psychology only works on people who don’t know its being applied. Naw, where’s the fun in that?

Actually I liked the idea of a omelet that could be eaten while walking since that’s my mode of transport to work. I took inspiration from Torta Española, the Spanish potato omelet but modified it a bit to include some veggies.

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Veggies

  • 1/4 C + 2 T Olive Oil
  • 4 Small Potatoes, boiled, cooled, sliced
  • 1 Red Onion, chopped
  • 1/4 C Green Onion. chopped
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 1 T Smoked Paprika
  • 1 t Seasoned Salt (pick one)
  • 1 t Black Pepper

With the 2T olive oil, fry up the onion till brown, add garlic till brown, toss in remainder minus potato, shut off the heat and stir a few times. Let cool, put aside. With the 1/4 C olive oil, fry up the sliced potatoes till browned and crisp on both sides. Drain, set aside.

Egg Mixture

  • 4 Eggs
  • 4 Egg Whites
  • 1/4-1/2 C Mahon Cheese, grated
  • 1 t Smoked Paprika
  • 1 t Black Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Veggies set aside

Whisk up veggies (minus potatoes), eggs, egg whites, cheese, paprika, pepper. Oil down a muffin tin (large). Put a few potatoes in the bottom of each muffin tin container. Top with egg mixture. Bake at 325 for 25 minutes.

 

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I’m usually my own worst critic but these are good. So good, in fact, BreakUp Guy isn’t getting any.

Drag Queen Jambalaya

I was late getting to Boheme for drinks with some lesbian friends. I tried to play the “parking was awful” card but it was a half-baked attempt. Truth is, I became obsessed with finding a kitchen gadget on the internet and while my iPhone was frantically beeping to tell me I had something to do, I ignored it. In retrospect, I’m glad, since when I arrived two of the four lesbians were in an awkward argument. It ebbed and flowed for an hour but it never stopped. I gulped down my second Manhattan and pulled out a believable exit line. I don’t know about you but I try to stay clear of arguing lesbians.

On the walk back to my car, parked a zillion miles away since it was Saturday night in the heart of Houston’s gay community on Gay Pride Weekend, I tripped and fell over a bit of uneven sidewalk. Yes, I was looking at my phone and yes, it was my first instinct to protect the phone as I fell, not so much worrying about a sprain or bone breakage. Neither occurred and two drag queens en route did a 1-2 stop to make sure I was OK. As I looked up at the pair, I realized I had never seen powder blue eyelashes with sparkle-tips and blonde hair about 3 feet tall done up B-52’s beehive.

Convinced I was OK, they restarted the arduous process of walking in 10-inch stilettos and pencil skirts. One drag queen stopped under the street light, turned to the other, backed up with hands on hips and said – “You know what, your gonna need some foundation, your face is lookin’ like Jambalaya”.

I completely forgot about the road rash on my forearm.

I suppose all roads lead to food, since the experience reminded me that I haven’t had Jambalaya since Parents lived in New Orleans. Thanks to Breakup Guy, my new slow-cooker focus is still in play so here is my rendition of Jambalaya. It is not the traditional rice-in Creole version, I like rice on the side.

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Meats

  •  1 lb each Andouille Sausage, Chicken Thighs and Shrimp; sausage and chicken sliced, shrimp peeled and deveined.

Vegetables

  • I C each Celery, Onion, Green Bell Pepper; chopped
  • 3 Tins Chopped Tomatoes; drained
  • 5 Fresh Cayenne Peppers; chopped (optional depending on heat tolerance)
  • 1/4 C Parsley; chopped

Spices

  • 1-3 T Cajun Seasoning, like Tony Chachere’s (again, heat tolerance depending)
  • 1 T Dried Oregano
  • 1 t Dried Thyme
  • 1 t Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 C Chicken Stock

Put everything into the slow-cooker except the shrimp and parsley. Set it up for 8 hours on low then get on with other more important things. At hour 7 put in the shrimp and parsley, give it a good stir then come back in an hour when its done.

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Its done! I have a friend raised in New Orleans and he cries “Heresy!” every time I make Jambalaya with rice on the side. Now that I’ve added the Drag Queen descriptor, I’m sure he will be well on his way to an aneurysm.

Modified Breakup Pork

Breakup Guy is still in no-girl mode and hes on a roll with the slow cooker, this time a dish very clearly showing his Southern roots, Pulled Pork. In between a new self-awareness which included a monlogue-ish questioning of whether or not a relationship was good for him right now, I got the complicated instructions from him on a walk about downtown: 2 pounds pork tenderloin, one bottle of root beer, one bottle of Liquid Smoke, 1 T salt then into the slow cooker on low for 8 hours.

Breakup Guy is entering into what I often see in the 20’s – identity refinement;  separating out the parental upbringing from what he wants to be, taking the bits he wants, leaving the rest behind. Parents have been married for 30 years, all the brothers are married, he was brought up Southern Baptist in Southern Alabama. There is heavy expectation  to “fall in line”, however its a contradiction for him and hes creating his own path to reconcile the discrepancy.

I did the same, I hope it works as well for him.

I attempted Breakup Pork at home last night, assembling the pot at 11p, expecting my pulled pork to be done at 7a. Apparently, my slow cooker and I are going to have a sitdown about working together as a team. This means the slow cooker cannot go off on its own agenda, which, last night,  included turning itself off waay before the end of the 8 hour cook cycle. Pork poisoning was not on my to-do list this weekend, so that lot was chucked into the bin.

Round 2, with the slow cooker brooding in a time-out, I went with an oven method using a quicker-than-normal marinade.

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One adjustment I made was swapping out the Liquid Smoke, it tastes metalish to me so I use a strong brew of Lapsang Souchong Tea. If you don’t know Lapsang, its just a smoked black tea, a strong one. I brew about 8 tea bags to one cup of hot water – poof, Liquid Smoke.

Put the pork tenderloin in a Ziploc with the root beer, tea and salt. Into fridge for 4 hours, drain, then oven-roast at 400 for one hour, flipping once midway.

My oven is gas and I speculate that it cooks a little higher than normal, so the pork had a really good flavor but it was Death Valley dry. I’ll probably need an actual meat thermometer before the next attempt.IMG_1169

I turned them into pork tacos, in memory of my visit to Carnitas Snack Shack in San Diego. A little homemade BBQ sauce, Fontina cheese, some avocado and some itsy-bitsy Turkish peppers. A pretty good overall taste experience!

Breakup Mole

Breakup Guy is a friend I met a few years back while having drinks at Anvil. We bonded over shared interests in adventure sports. He was interested in my ziplining and white water rafting trip to Costa Rica, having never been himself. He did make it to Costa Rica the following summer however he pointed out that not only did he zip and raft, he also rock-climbed and para-sailed.  Yeah, you could call him competitive.

Since, I’ve noticed a distinct pattern in his life: girlfriend for 6-9 months, a breakup, followed by 3 months of intense adventure sports, followed by another girlfriend. We usually get together at the start of the breakup cycle or sometime in the middle of the adventure sport cycle. We also follow the NYC credo of living your life outside of your house so I’ve only been to his apartment twice. It’s done up post-grad Spartan; one bed, one table, two self-assembled chairs from IKEA, a 55-in flatscreen and about $100,000 in sports equipment.

This time when he called at the beginning of yet another cycle we met at Leon’s, he vented and drank heavily,  then we walked back to his apartment. En route I noticed some new behavior – the declaration of a no girl zone at home. And I quote – ” I will clean when I want, I will throw my dirty gym socks where I want and I will not lift up the seat”. Also, I found it funny that he had picked up a new cooking style he called “man cook” which meant only grilling outdoors and assembling meals in a slow-cooker. Did you pick up on the slow cooker part? Right, my mom was a working mom so dinners from the slow-cooker were common, I  don’t really see that as “man cook”.

Anyway.

Sure enough there were piles of muddy running shoes and gym clothes everywhere. But what I really noticed was that the apartment smelled like Mexico City and it was due to the Chicken Mole he had brewing in the slow cooker. I liked this new side of Breakup Guy, since I’m a huge fan of slow-cooker meals. I could not extract a recipe out of Breakup Guy just ” I threw a whole bunch of crap my sister gave me into the pot with some chicken, pressed on then went for a run.” However, I sampled and now I’m sure I can recreate.

Damas y caballeros – I’m proud to present Breakup Chicken Mole

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  • Chopped Tomato (26 oz)
  • 1 Chopped Onion
  • 1/4 C Raisins
  • 1/2 C Almonds (roasted, salted)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 C Bittersweet Chocolate
  • Chipotle in Adobo (4 oz)
  • 4 T Olive Oil
  • 6 Garlic Cloves
  • 1t each Regular Chili Powder and Ancho Chili Powder
  • 1/2 t Cinnamon
  • 1 t Cumin
  • 1-2 T Agave (honey)
  • 1-2 T Salt
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  • Throw all of that into a blender or processor, make it smooth. Now you have mole.
  • Salt and pepper 3 pounds of chicken thighs on both sides, rub it in.
  • Put the chicken in a slow cooker, cover with mole. Cook low for 8 hours.

My tip to you –  don’t taste the mole until its cooked for a while, it will taste like raw onion.

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8 hours later, its ready. I’ve tried many moles in my life and this ranks high on the list. Good balance of sweet and savory with a good dollop of heat. The chicken falls apart by merely staring at it. Good with a bit of cilantro and sour cream.

I was going to try to a full plating and  wine pairing session with Breakup Chicken Mole but late start and all.

It does however work for a late snack after an involuntary Manhattan drinking episode in midtown.

I’ll try the wine parings tomorrow if I can remember the stupid ass laws in Texas about purchasing alcohol on Sunday. I’m thinking Zinfandel or Pinot Noir.

Batanga

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Having been to Spain I can appreciate traditional Spanish tapas. However, I don’t live in Spain and the word tapas in Houston, typically only connotes “small plate”. The content of the small plate varies widely in this city, however, taking liberty with tradition should not detract from whats on the plate. While food crazes sparkle and fade in this city, fusion tapas, those loosely based on traditional plates, appear to have some longevity.

Batanga is a relatively new entry in the fusion tapas arena. I liked it.

Atmosphere: Casual, open, warm tones, expansive windows, sprawling patio, modern music with an ethnic bent, diverse crowd. If you’re a Barbie with teeter-totter heels and lip gloss cemented to a nylon smile, you are not going to feel very comfortable here. I saw singles, couples, groups of friends and families, age ranges from toddler to grandparent. Nice, who wants a narrow, homogenized crowd in an urban environment?

Service: Friendly, informative, they were never too aloof nor too intrusive.

Food: Mostly wins

  • Beet Salad: Beets, a creamy-firm blue cheese, roasted walnuts, chive with a splash of extra-virgin. Great combination of flavors and the beets were firm, not squishy. I don’t know about you but I like my beets with muscle and crunch; soft, squishy beets remind me of those losers my grandma used to serve from a can. ‘Nuff said.
  • Chicken Satay, Mojo and Cinnamon Plantains: Chicken breast, marinated and grilled served atop cinnamon-dusted caramelized plantains, a spicy mojo sauce accompanies. Good flavor balance; the salty chicken and spicy mojo balance the sweeter plantains nicely. The only problem was the chicken was cut too thick, which caused it to dry out while being grilled long enough to not be raw.
  • Duck Confit Arepas: I mentioned that I was interested in them but wanted to wait until I finished the first two, you know, in case I became full. These appeared half-way through my other tapas since they “had one left over”. Riiight, “left over”, very shrewd public relations. And I totally appreciated it. The arepa itself was extremely good; strong corn flavor in a pillowy disc. The duck was moist and slightly smoky and the julienned chayote added textural balance and eye catching appeal.
  • Espresso: OK, it was good but more like a small cup of really strong coffee. As coffee snobs know, espresso gets its kick from high pressure and high heat, which was not the case here.

Batanaga is well-positioned and obviously off to a good start. I’ll certainly make another trip to check out more tapas and some of their specialty drinks. With all the erratic swings in downtown Houston’s “revitalization”, which have ebbed and flowed now for more than a decade, its nice to see more momentum to the positive!

Sucky photos courtesy of my dirty-lensed iPhone – you’re welcome!

Lunch: Sunday, 4/28/2013

Batanga | 908 Congress | Houston, TX 77002

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