Friday, March 28, 2014

Tap, tap, tap... Is this thing on?

Apparently it is, as I have just hit almost 20,000 page hits!  Not bad for a blog that has a layer or twelve of dust and hasn't been updated in 20 months!

Just a quick note to say, yes, I'm alive.  I'm working at The Firm, doing major felony cases, and cooking is back to being an alchemistic hobby, along with writing, gardening ((which I am surprising good at)), and refereeing Betsy The Pit Mix and Kirin The Chow Hound.  Foster Kitty watches from afar...



Okay, so you can't possibly kill a succulent, but still.

I'm sad to report that Astidoodle has joined Doogie on the Rainbow Bridge.  The last real kick we saw of him was when Jeffrey was playing his guitar in my dining room.  He came running, yes, RUNNING, for the first time in over a year to come sit at his feet.



But life goes on here in Scottsdale and it has been a most enjoyable ride.  Here's to another rotation around the sun.  Maybe I'll be back before that much time passes.  One never knows.



 XO, Jules

PS.  Say hi and you might persuade me to come back more often!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Lemon Rosemary Roasted Chicken, a Treatment Update, and Other Random Nonsense

Oh.  Hi there!  ((Waves vigorously.))  I got distracted again.  I swear, I don't have ADD/ADHD, I've just been incredibly busy... back to doing some legal stuff part-time, doing a couple of freelance writing gigs, adopting a pit bull (or maybe I should say she adopted me), FINALLY resolving my horrendous back pain, having my wallet stolen...  You know, the normal course of events.

This situation with my lower back had gotten completely and totally out of control.  Finally, after 6 straight MONTHS of it being at a Level 9 I Want to Chop My Leg Off Just to Make It Feel Better, without so much as a single minute where it wasn't basically excruciating, I found the answer.  I started treatment at a place which specializes in athletic injuries.  I knew I was in the right place when the words I heard most outside of the normal "physical therapy" speak were "gymnastics," "jiu-jitsu," and "MMA."  After the first treatment, I had 2 glorious minutes of being completely pain-free.  After the second treatment, two hours, at which point I declared that the doctors there were all getting lap dances for Christmas.  After the third, it was back down to intermittent, with several hours of being pain-free in a row, but the peaks weren't even holding a candle to what I had been having at the BEST moments previously.  At this point, it is SO much better than I'm really only fighting with it for a little bit in the morning.  My liver wrote me a nice card saying thanks for not pumping me full of painkillers, you rotten bitch, you're lucky I have the capacity for regeneration.

((If you're lost, I wrecked myself in gymnastics at the age of 12 with a complete hamstring tear out of the origin, a ruptured disc, and a fractured vertebrae.  It has been bad on and off for the last, ahem, some number of years, but this went completely batshit insane and was far worse than when I actually broke it.))

Let me just tell you:  Nothing wrecks your life like being unable to walk, sit, stand, or lay down without throbbing pain.  Jeezus.

Anyway...  

Deb's birthday was last week and Sunday night I went out to make dinner for her and a friend.  I ended up making Lemon Rosemary Roasted Chicken.  Recipe adapted slightly from The Pioneer Woman.

Looks fancy, no?

What you need:

1 FRESH whole chicken
1 stick of softened butter
4 springs rosemary
3 lemons
Salt and pepper

Ready? Go:

Preheat the oven to 400.

Open up the chicken and remove the giblets.  Yes, this is completely revolting.  I know.  Power through it.  Rinse the chicken inside and out with cold water, contemplate whether you are really a vegetarian after all, and then pat dry with paper towels.

Line a baking dish with aluminum foil and spray with a nonstick spray.

Realize you forgot to soften the butter and stick it in the microwave for about 15-20 seconds.

Chop the rosemary leaves from ONE sprig as finely as you can.  Add that to the butter.  Zest two lemons ((being careful not to get the white stuff)) and throw it on the butter/rosemary mixture.

Stir to combine.

Using your hands, spread the buttery gooey goodness all over the chicken, getting it into all the nooks and crannies and feel slightly dirty while doing so.  ((Wash your hands with dish soap to cut the grease quickly.  You're welcome.))

Squeeze the juice of one lemon all over the chicken.  Crack some salt and pepper over it as well.

Now slice the other two lemons in half and cram them and the remaining rosemary springs ((whole)) into the chicken cavity.  ((You may not be able to get it all in.  TWSS.))

Roast uncovered for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Remove from oven, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  Carve it up ((or hack the living shit out of it, whatever)) and serve.

*****

So that's it!  Talk to you tomorrow or next week or maybe in November!

Monday, August 13, 2012

We Need to Talk

We need to talk.  You know how I originally said this was a space for information on cooking, recipes, and crap like that?  Turns out I was wrong.  I'm not sure I've ever publicly ((wow, major typo just caught... the "L" is important in that word)) admitted I was wrong before.  Well, maybe once before, but I might be wrong about that in which case that makes this the second time I have publicly admitted wrongdoing.  Or the third?  Or maybe less.  I don't know.  Math is super hard.

Back to the point... While I still cook quite a bit, I found myself in a position where I was coming up with things to make just to have something to put in this space.  While that was fun for several months, as with many things, it can become an obligation and an obligation can become something that lacks fun-ness.  I have always said that I started doing this because it is fun and I *want* to.  But then, I started to kind of feel like I *had* too, which I know is bullshit, but then some commenter says, "What, did you run out of ideas?"  Then someone else told me I wasn't funny anymore ((do you know how hard it is to make a turkey burger funny?)) and commence Jules going on strike because that is certainly the best way to counter that idea.  Counterproductivity for the win!

I also read a lot of cooking/recipe blogs and Jesus H. Christ, some of them are the drollest things I've ever seen.  I swear to carbs, if I see one more picture of some fucking overnight oats that are the Best! Thing! Ever! I am going to hurl chia seeds through the internet into that asshole's eyeball.  I don't want to be that person.  On either end.

((No, I'm not breaking up with you all.  Relax.))

Anyway, FROM NOW ON, ((and that was in all caps so you know it is important)) we are going to talk about whatever the hell we ((I'm not sure who "we" is, probably the Royal We)) want to.  If you know me In Real Life or via Facebook or Twitter, you are aware that a LOT of really bizarre shit happens to me and around me.  We will still cook stuff sometimes.  ((Read as:  We will still cook stuff and screw it up and try to figure out how to fix it.))  But we will also talk about the time I took a javelina named Javier to a book signing while I was wearing a red satin gown and how my picture got blasted to 258,152 people because THAT JUST HAPPENED and then even more awesomeness unfolded.

Trust me.  I can explain.

Explanation ((or the best one I can muster which honestly isn't all that good)) will be forthcoming.  Thanks for playing and I'm serious, I'm not breaking up with you.



Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Chile Lime Chicken, Microwave Sweet Corn, and Cilantro Butter

I still maintain that it is too hot to cook, BUT I am officially over the cereal straight from the box routine.  Over it.  However, as frequently happened, this seemingly simple idea turned into a "what the hell do I do now?" moment.

The chicken is a total cheat, but I have an explanation...  I was given a Williams Sonoma gift card for my birthday ((Thanks, Jimmy!)) and in an attempt to use the remaining four dollars on it after I got some REALLY good stuff, I ended up buying one of their spice rub thingys.  All you do is to throw a cup or so of breadcrumbs with 3-4 tablespoons of their Chile Lime Spice Rub into a baggie and toss it around until it is fairly uniform in color.  I then just threw the chicken in there ((no egg wash required)), tossed it, and threw it in the oven for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.  Easy.

The picture sucks because the pool guy who has more than a slight resemblance to Mr. Belding showed up and I didn't have the gall to take food out to photograph in front of him.  Oops.

About 20 minutes before the chicken would be done, I put on a huge pot of water to boil.  When I went back to check on the boilitude ((that's a word, eff off spell check)), I found the pot was full of foam.  Uhhhh... Well, I had used that pot to boil a huge batch of Chinese herbs to make a tincture for my back.  That concoction smelled like a combination of Christmas, despair, and a flop house.  I soaked that damn pot for days to get rid of the residue.  And then more days.  And then I scrubbed it some more.  Then it soaked for another week.  I'm afraid whatever medicinal properties ((and contact high)) I got from the "treatment" may have resulted in ruining the stock pot.  Oh well.  

At this point, there is now 6 minutes left for the chicken so I quickly googled if you can microwave sweet corn and if so, how.  Basically, you shuck the corn, wrap it tightly in paper towels, and nuke it for 5 minutes.  I have to say, it turned out pretty well.  It didn't get quite the same golden color as when you boil it, but it was perfectly edible.


I then basted it with a cilantro butter.  Melt the butter and chop up a LOT of cilantro into really small pieces or until you get annoyed with it.  Add it to the melted butter and let it all seep together for a while.  Brush it on the corn with a basting brush.  

*****

All righty... I need to quickly finish up some freelance work.  Happy Wednesday!  Or Happy Whatever Day You Read This! 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Cheesy Mexican Hash Brown Potatoes, "I Have a Cooking Blog?!" and a List of Excuses

WAIT.  I have a cooking blog?!  Who updates it when I flake out for a couple of weeks?  Oh.  No one?  OOPS.  Ready for a list of excuses that will be interesting to exactly no one?  That's what I thought.

1.  It's hot.  It's like 108-112 degrees hot.  It is damn near impossible to confront a hot grill, an oven, or even to boil water when it is that hot.  It also kills your appetite.  I assumed ((rightly, I believe)) that no one was interested in a recipe for Cheerios from the box.  Or a store-bought popsicle.  If you are, well, you have other issues that I don't feel capable of addressing at this time.  Maybe later though.

2.  I broke up with the co-op which apparently provided a lot of my inspiration.  The suppliers had a rough early summer... quantities went way down, the quality went down, and it was no longer the massive savings that it typically is.  The other thing is that the people there had gotten too familiar with me.  What used to be a less than 5 minute in and out/pick up the shit and go turned into 20-30 minutes because of all the chatting and asking for advice.  I realize this is actually a compliment, but I just don't want to be that chatty at 7 am on a Saturday.  When I relocate next week, I will pretend not to speak English.

3.  Negative comments.  I understand that the Internet is a place where people can hide behind anonymity and I know that ((like everyone else who publishes shit on the internet)) people will sometimes be horrible to me.  I purposefully moderate the comments so that a bunch of negativity doesn't get spewed by ugly people who seriously need a hobby.  Well, two negative comments got under my skin last weekend and I went on strike.  If you don't like the way I swear, what I make, the randomness of any of it, just don't read it.  I'm really not that interesting anyway.

4.  Did I mention it is hot?

*****

That said, let's make something.  In typical style, I set out to make one thing and ended up with something completely different.  The plan was to make breakfast burritos with Italian sausage, but it turned out my eggs were closer to being chicks than eggs, the milk was expired, and defrosting the sausage at that point seemed like a waste of time.  ((Must go to Trader Joe's.  Stat.))  Instead I ended up with cheesy Mexican hash brown potatoes.


What you need:

16 ounces of hash brown potatoes ((I prefer the refrigerated kind, not the frozen ones.))
1 tablespoon of butter
1/2 cup Mexican style shredded cheese
1/2 cup salsa
1 tablespoon chopped jalapeno pepper
Salt and pepper

What to do:

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium to high heat.  Add the potatoes in a thin layer and smash them down with a spatula.  ((The instructions call for vegetable oil to "fry" them in, but that's just gross.))  Let them cook for 6-7 minutes, or until they get golden brown and crispy on the bottom side.  Oh and leave them alone!  Don't be stirring them all around or anything.  Let it be.  Put a few cracks of salt and pepper on top.

Flip the potatoes over ((if it breaks up, that's totally fine)) and cook for another 5-6 minutes.  Again, add a little salt and pepper.

Smash them up a little and add the salsa and the jalapeno.  Stir it around and add the cheese.  Let cook just until the cheese is melty and gooey.

This can be eaten as a side dish or on a tortilla.  ((The original plan was to mix this with scrambled eggs  and browned sausage...  I'm sure that would be even better.))

*****


I'll be back some time with something!  ((Just kidding.))  I *believe* we are doing a photography shoot next weekend so there will be much to look forward to.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Cake Batter Truffles, A Shot of Insulin, and Bourdainmania

Last week, I announced that I thought Tony Bourdain might be my spirit animal... After devouring his latest book, "Medium Raw," in less than 24 hours, I am now convinced that he is not just my spirit animal, but perhaps my long-lost ((and oddly enough at least 15 years old than I am)) twin ((science is funny stuff)) or at the very least, my soul mate ((which is tricky because I don't really believe in soul mates, but I don't know how to get across the depth of feeling I have for this person.))

This passage is when I knew our bond was true:  "...members of families who eat together regularly are statistically less likely to stick up liquor stores, blow up meth labs, give birth to crack babies, commit suicide, or make donkey porn."  YES.  A thousand times YES.

All hyperbole aside, it really is a stellar, funny book that is a bit of a gossipy, insider view into an elite foodie and traveller scene.  You should read it.  Now.  He talks shit about Emeril and a whole bunch of other famous people.  I love that.

Let's make something not terribly foodie like... Cake Batter Truffles.


What you need:


Recipe source: The Girl Who Ate Everything

1 ½ cups flour
1 cup yellow cake mix
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
3-4 Tablespoons milk
2 Tablespoons sprinkles

Truffle Coating:
16 ounces ((8 squares)) almond bark ((or white candy melts))
4 Tablespoons yellow cake mix
Sprinkles

Beat together the butter and sugar using an electric mixer until combined. Add the cake mix, flour, salt, and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Add 3 Tablespoons of milk ((or more if needed)) to make a dough-like consistency.  Roll dough into one-inch balls and place on a parchment or wax paper lined cookie sheet. Chill balls in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to firm  them up.

((Side note: come back tomorrow to see what search terms have led people here.  I've managed to use "donkey porn" already and now I'm on a personal mission to write "balls" as many times as possible.  Balls.))

While the dough balls are chilling, melt the almond bark in the microwave in 30 second intervals until melted. Stir in between intervals. Once melted, quickly stir in cake mix until incorporated completely. Using a fork, dip the balls into the almond bark.  Shake off the excess by tapping the bottom of the fork on the side of your bowl.  Do not become frustrated when you repeatedly drop the entire thing into the bowl. However, quit doing it the exact same way and being surprised when that keeps happening.  Place the truffle back on the cookie sheet and top with sprinkles. Repeat with remaining balls until finished.  ((Balls.))

Chill cake batter truffles in the refrigerator until serving. Makes around 24-30 truffles.

Use the leftover bark to dip some strawberries too.
These are SWEET.  I'm not kidding.  They are like scream your fillings out, beg for an insulin drip, smack my ass and call me Sally, sweet.  A little will go a long way.  See also:  If you see me bring these to some kid's birthday party, you can be assured I either hate the little bastard or the little bastard's parents and you can guarantee that I will not stay very long because the sugar rush that will occur is apt to throw the planets out of their orbits.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Oaxaca Mole Verde, Measurements are Dumb, and Please Come Back

I, semi-last-minute, decided to make dinner for my mother and her friend, Kathy, last evening.  I had been given this totally gorgeous cookbook by Kathy's daughter ((one of my favoritest people)) and was itching to try something from it.  I decided on a pork tenderloin with a mole verde sauce.  ((Little did I know, pork tenderloin is one of Kathy's very favorite things, so look at me, I'm a winner.))



I'm going to warn you, the ingredient list and the instructions look long, but it comes together relatively quickly and is completely worth it.  As you are reading this, you will probably say, "Oh screw her.  This is ridiculous."  I swear to you, I left for the store at 3 pm to get the missing ingredients in within one hour I had made the rub, the sauce to completion, and 2 dozen green chile muffins, Mexican rice, and loaded up everything I needed to take this show on the road.

Original recipe from "Sharing the Table at Garland's Lodge"

What you need generally:

4 pork tenderloins

For the rub:

2 tablespoons each oregano, sage, thyme, cumin seed, and ground red chile
1 tablespoon each cinnamon and nutmeg
1/4 cup of salt ((I used a lot less))
2 tablespoons coarse black pepper

For the mole verde:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium white or yellow onion, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 pound tomatillos, peeled, rinsed and sliced
1/4 cup chopped hot green chiles ((not the canned crap-- I used less and deseeded them for wimpier palates))
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
2 teaspoons each oregano and cumin seeds
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup loosely packed chopped cilantro ((so like half a bunch with some of the stems left on))
2 - 2 1/2 cups of chicken stock
2 tablespoons of lime juice

Are you still with me?  I know.  It seems like a lot, but the vast majority of this stuff is in your spice rack or pantry.  If you don't have something and aren't going to the market, leave it out.  It's fine.

Start by making the rub.  Combine everything BUT the salt and pepper in a small skillet and heat until it smells like heaven.  ((This won't take long, just a couple of minutes on a medium heat.))  Remove from the heat and let it cool a little.  Put into a small baggie and add the salt and pepper and shake it around.  ((I confess, I didn't measure anything, I totally eye-balled it.  Feel free to do the same.))

Preheat the oven to 350, after putting the rack on the highest shelf you can, but still being able to get the pan in.  Drizzle the pork with a little olive oil and then spread the rub over it.  Give it a good pat to make it stick and get all the sides.  Set aside for 30 minutes.  ((I know.  I was a little concerned about leaving pork to sit out.  It's fine.  You won't die.))

Next, we will make the mole.  Heat the olive oil in a heavy sauce pan over medium high.  Add in the onions, garlic ((I didn't chop the garlic cloves, I put them in whole)), tomatillos, and salt.  Give them a stir and then reduce the heat to medium.  Add in the chiles.  Loosely cover the pan ((like make it so that it is half off)) and cook for 10 minutes or until everything is soft.  Stir it every so often to make sure nothing is sticking.

Combine the pumpkin seeds and the oregano and toast in a small skillet until they begin to smoke.  ((Technically, you should grind them with either a grinder or a food processor after this, but I didn't, so don't worry about it.))

Add the pumpkin seed mix, the cilantro, and 2 cups of chicken broth to the pan with the onions/tomatillos.  Stir it well and let cook for just a couple of minutes.

Transfer the sauce ((it's hot in case this isn't obvious!)) to a blender and process until it is very smooth.  You may need to do this in more than one batch depending on the size of your blender.

Return the mixture to the sauce pan.  If it is really thick, add a little more broth.  Add two tablespoons of lime juice and some more salt.  Keep warm while the pork cooks.

**These are their instructions... This did not work for me.... Roast the meat for 8 minutes, reduce the oven temp to 300 and continue another 8-10 minutes.  A meat thermometer should read 140 at the center.  ((I followed these instructions and knew there was no way in hell they were done.  I turned the heat back up to 350 and let them cook for an additional 20 minutes.  I thought maybe I had somehow missed the part where you slice them first, but no.  No idea.))

When cooked through to 140 degrees or just barely pink, remove from the oven and cover with a clean dish towel for ten minutes to rest.

Slice them diagonally at about 1/3 of an inch thick.  Serve with 1/3 cup of the sauce ((which you have kept warm)) over the top.  ((I put it on the side because I was concerned it would still be too spicy for them even though I had mellowed it out some.))

Not the greatest picture because of the lighting, but I was trying not to be "that person" who keeps everyone waiting while they take pictures of food.  
I repeat, this sounds way harder than it is, but whoever you are making it for will think you are a superhero.  I served it along side ((as alluded to)) Mexican rice, black beans with cojita cheese, green chile corn muffins with honey butter, and the now famous, sopapilla cheesecake.

The verde sauce will keep if kept tightly covered in the refrigerator and would be good on basically everything.

*****

All right, this might win the award for the longest post ever.  I'll be back with something a little less daunting ((or at least wordy)) tomorrow!