Mexican style salad

Mexican style shrimp cocktail, actually, but people don't seem to like that idea very much so I chopped the ingredients more crudely and called it salad. I don't know, maybe people are put off by the familiar 60's era American style shrimp cocktail that has half a dozen shrimp arranged around the rim of a Sundae glass filled with catsup and horseradish, the red menace. I do know. This combination is delicious with interchangeable ingredients to suit one's own wishes.

This time the salad doesn't have avocado, because I want to have this around a few days, and it doesn't have cilantro because I forgot to buy that. I also left out horseradish.

Shrimp was soaked in brine for fifteen minutes to plump them.

The water in the pan shown above was brought to a boil. Then the heat cut off and the shrimp added. So the shrimp never actually boiled. They sat in the hot water for four and a half minutes. Then transferred to ice water to chill them.

I cannot keep off this stuff so this time I made half a batch. I can eat it continuously and nothing else until it is gone. And that's probably not a great idea.

No worries. I love it so much I'll be at it again soon enough. 

This can be eaten as taco, with or without something else, like chicken and like lettuce. It can be rolled into an omelet. It can be spooned over fish as a sauce. I can add pineapple since I have so much of that on hand. Or mango, or apple, whatever. Even watermelon would be great. Off the top of my head I can think of a million combination possibilities. 

Maybe twenty possibilities, but you get my point. 

Fine! Ten possibilities. 

The thing is, if I have it around I love it so much that it cannot last long enough for those possibilities to happen because I'll have already eaten it to the last molecule then lick the bowl. Like a maniac.

Major win.

heterodox pizza

In any discussion about pizza involving more than two people, totally unprovoked, someone must aver flatly and by apparent compulsion that pineapple is unacceptable on pizza, as natural law, without any supporting reasoning beyond it's simply not done. Not ever. Not ever among sensible people.

Too bad. 

Here is an excellent out of canon pizza made with those myopic and limited taste having dopes in mind. Not Italian, not necessarily Hawaiian, not Mexican either. But who cares? Who made any of those guys boss of us anyway? 

The dough is started the night before with scant 1/4 teaspoon yeast to proof overnight. Formed carelessly into a haphazard shaggy dough. Barely mixed. Time does the kneading. 

1 + 1/4 cup water, 2 cups flour + 1/2 cup semolina for strengthened body. 


Excellent cheddar. Monterey Jack all the eh. And honestly, I don't know how mozzarella won the pizza war. It's not that interesting so far as cheese goes. However it does melt very well. ↓

Completed mise en place.  ↓
That means all the ingredients are ready and waiting. 

Now pressed and stretched in corn meal both top and bottom for additional texture.  ↓

Tony's apple cured ham. It's very good, somewhat exclusive and expensive. Maybe pizza isn't its best use. 

Mild and unchallenging and uninteresting Monterey Jack cheese and mozzarella. ↓

Mushrooms and onions are oiled. ↓

Jalapeño.  ↓
Mexican cooks understand that jalapeño is unripened fruit and so best cooked.

Pineapple and very strong outstanding crumbly cheddar cheese. ↓

The little grape tomatoes have the most flavor of all other tomatoes available right now. Later this sad situation will change.

unbaked  ↑
baked  ↓

You don't have to die for heavenly pizza.

tossed salad

From Taste of Philly nearby.

Much better than expected. This is the large and honestly it's large enough for two normal salads.

I don't bother with their prepared dressings. Instead, they're brought home and drizzled with top olive oil and rice vinegar. 

So worth it. Think of all the shopping, and storing, and chopping of vegetables out of the way.

So are the full sized sandwiches there large enough for two regular meals, and if you can eat an entire full size sandwich then that means you're a pig. 

Or else very hungry.

Or a male teenager.

Truth is, the guy in front of me ordered two full size sandwiches and ate both of them right there, BLAM, gone, just like that. So there you go. 

porterhouse steak, baked potato

Old standard. Nothing special. Grocery store steak. 

I look back at all those steaks I saw cooked wrongly before other people allowed me to do this myself and I wonder how we ever got by.  

I recall the steaks taking achingly long to cook and requiring so much unnecessary attention. 

The oven is started first. So might as well bake the potato in there. The potato peel becomes irresistible to eat when it's baked in the oven. It's one of my favorite parts. That does not happen when cooked in the microwave. 

The stove burner is turned to high and the pan preheated to its most extreme. The steak is cooked on one side for only two minutes thereabout give or take a few seconds. Then flipped and finished in the oven. Harsh surface heat then gentler air heat. The second side seared in the oven by residual heat then removed and covered with foil for eight or ten minutes. 

Only a few minutes stovetop. That's it. The stovetop is turned to extreme high then shut off two minutes later. It's an odd way to go for a home cook by emulating restaurant chefs.

That rest period out of the oven prevents the steak from bleeding all over the plate when it is cut open. The steak actually continues to cook. Apparently moisture inside the steak self-distributes throughout. 

That's the hardest part. Letting the steak sit there. Because the impulse is to dig right in. Resist that. It does make an appreciable difference. Make everyone wait.

Now that right there is some mad cheffery skills. 

And maturity. Eh? 

fried potato chunks with blackberry honey, fried egg

My brother sent me a pan. He also sent a shirt from Maui, four jars of honey, a memory card of his boys showing their art, samples of their origami paper projects, their spirograph pictures, a plastic heart made from beads and green tea. It was like Christmas over here.

Simple and easy while still satisfying. All that I wanted was a potato. The potato is cut irregularly so that it cooks irregularly. It was blanched first to guarantee that each piece is done all the way through.

It has chile powder, tarragon and honey. 

fried chicken sliders, house salad, Stoney's Bar & Grill

Stoney's... Denver... It's not what you might be thinking. 

The place was packed. All young people. I sat at the bar, people engaged me in friendly fashion. 

One young man asked me, "What makes you different?" 

His idiosyncratic icebreaker. 

I demurred. On account of being so normal. 

I honestly did not know how to answer. 

People were gathered outside as shown on their website, people were gathered inside engaged in a trivia game. Others meandered the other half of the place in conversation, watching sports on t.v. and reading their phones. It is a gathering place of mostly millennials. Equally male and female, all terribly well behaved. They spoke mostly about work.

I must say I was surprised at the quantity of food. I would have brought home three fourths of it but I brought only one storage container. It is the best salad I've had in awhile. I love it when salads are done well. 

steak fajita, Quijote's Broadway

Such a nice clean place with lovely people. Family run and they do treat me as family. Better than that, actually.

We can copy this. But it'd be a major project. The reason why it appears such a feast is in my way each element is its own separate meal. To have it all at once, pow, it's like Thanksgiving right there. Except for it all being Mexican, of course. The roasted jalapeño is a nice touch. You usually don't see that.

fried chicken, Charcoal restaurant

I did not make this. 

Ordered fried chicken because restaurants do better with this than I can do at home.

Charcoal restaurant is a few blocks from my apartment. I walked there. They've done a fine job of redesigning a one-time garage later turned into an art gallery. Their menu is crab cakes and oysters and flank steak, interesting salads and exotic desserts. They pair wine with each item. Cost is medium high. 

So I was surprised that my meal was only $10.00 even though there is not very much on the plate. 

And then further surprised when they comped the meal for completing a survey designed mostly for training their staff. Yes, this meal was free. 

Except 80¢ tax. 

And $5.00 tip. 

What the heck. 

The day I was there the staff were all tall thin young men. Friendly and helpful and engaging as can be. Explaining the free dinner for the survey the waiter threw me off by saying, "... as retribution for completing the survey."  

Is that adorable, or what?  

pork country ribs and white beans

A little bit of brown sugar and these strongly flavored fresh grape tomatoes together have a similar agridulce effect that bbq sauce has. Minus the mess of eating ribs baked with in bbq sauce. The cheese is incredibly strongly flavored cheddar that honestly vies with Parmigiano Reggiano for its own standard of excellence. 

The meat is pork country style ribs. Their bones contribute significant body. The whole thing, meat, bones, dry beans all started at once and cooked in water with spices and garlic cloves, bay and the like, until the beans are softened and the meat falls from the bones. 

Acid is held off until the beans are fully cooked. Acidic pH prevents the surface of beans from softening fully. Unless they're baked overnight. There is acid in brown sugar and in molasses and tomato. So those things are better added at the end.  Fresh tomato is very nice switch out for cooked tomato paste and tomato sauce.

I cannot say enough about this cheddar cheese. Expensive, yes, but it's not used as slices for sandwiches. I've always seen offered mild, sharp, very sharp, but this cheddar is explosively powerful without being sharp. It's the strangest thing and most impressive.  I'm using the cheese as flavoring similar to hard Italian parmesan so a block of it goes a long way. If it were used for a sandwich then a cheddar sauce would be the way go with this cheese. Not to be cheap about it, rather, to prevent having your mouth blown off your face from intense cheese flavor. In moderation it's a very nice addition. To everything.

hotdog with cheese, bacon, pineapple and jalapeño

Bread dough started while heating morning coffee and finished baking at noon. 

1/3 cup mashed potato flakes substituted for flour. 

Jalapeño bacon from Tony's market.

All beef hotdogs handmade at Tony's market.

Cheese is incredibly strong Cheddar applied in thin flakes or else its flavor would overwhelm everything else. 

The idea for jalapeño and pineapple comes from Hawaiian pizza that pizza purists flatly reject. I must say this combination is delicious. 


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