tortilla chips, guacamole

This is one cup plus 1/2 cup of masa harina mixed with an equal amount of hot water. 

The dough ball feels light and airy, almost bouncy. It does not feel like bread dough. 

This time I formed the balls a little bit too small so the disks formed from them are smaller than usual. 

The dough balls are smashed between layers of plastic (I use a cut plastic grocery bag) sprayed once with spray oil. 

The tortillas are fried incompletely so that they hold together when shallow-fried in oil.

This time they're cut into thirds rather than fourths because the discs are small.

Salt, pepper, cumin, cayenne.

They're fried at 350℉ for about 3 minutes until the bubbling stops indicating dehydration. 

If the chips are brought out before bubbling stops then the chips will not be crunchy.

The guacamole is from Torchy's next door. They spaced out my chips so I made them at home. 

Turns out, my chips are better than their chips because my chips are flavored generously and authentically, and my guacamole is better than their guacamole because my guacamole is 50% diced tomato and it's also flavored similarly. That right there makes a gigantic difference.

The next time I buy their guacamole to bring home I should also buy a few large tomatoes to fix it.

Face it. I'm a better cook. Plain simple fact. And these guys are all just beginning to learn things. They can't even be trusted to include chips with their order, when they make the chips. You must check every little thing.

As if speaking separate languages. 

But all that aside we still love them so. More so than Arby's before them. Because they're still good at their business, and still reasonably priced, and still fun to visit. They attract a very large crowd.

The package of guacamole weighs 11 and 1/4 ounces. 

A whole avocado with seed weighs 7.5 ounces.

So right there you get nearly two avocados worth of lumpy green sludge with cheese and lime and whatever.  A good deal as avocados are so iffy. All those previous shoppers pressing them all over, bruising them up. Sometimes only a portion is useable. 

This is dinner. Is that weird? 

green chile queso, beef and avocado taco

They're very good. And inexpensive too, about five dollars each. From Torchy's. Such a pleasant place.

The dip is like cheese soup. And there is only so much melted cheese a guy can take in one sitting. 

While there I used the cellphone to order another similar meal takeout. Best to keep orders separate. The place sometimes has a bit of difficulty managing orders mixed between in house and takeout.

penne and olive oil

The sauce is olive oil, parmesan and starchy pasta water, cayenne and tarragon. 

hashed browned potatoes with fried eggs

Shredded potatoes are blanched for a minute in boiling water then fried with cayenne pepper. 

I'm always starving and that makes simple things like this satisfying and taste great besides. 

What? Fussy eater? In my world that means you're not hungry enough. 

Free cole slaw, apple and jalapeño, Zep's Epiq Sandwiches

I didn't make this, Zep's did, and it is very good too. It's just the sort of thing I'd think up myself. I have used these ingredients in slaws. You know, jazz it up with something sweet and something hot and with textures like raisins and nuts. 

The new hip Quizno Grill experiment nearby closed and new hip Quizno Grill experiment opened in its place called Zep's Epiq Sandwiches. Menu

I walked in. The place is empty. I took the guy's recommendation without looking at the menu without any fuss or decision making.  

Right then another customer came in. Then another. Then another. My order is up. Then another customer, then another customer. 

I'm waiting right there sitting on a low table right in front of the register and facing the service window. The table is the type that is put at the end of a bed or behind a sofa, 

While waiting I see four employees but only one guy works the register and the orders. He's busy taking orders so my take-out bag sits unattended. So close I could just take it. The last woman comes in with an inordinately wide butt. The place offers menus at entry and a large brightly lit menu board overhead but the woman never looked at those, even looming right over her face, preferring instead to spend a good deal of time scanning her cellphone and calling out to the young man at the register what she wanted one by one as she scrolls her cellphone up and down. I checked my cellphone to see what she's seeing. The information is good but compressed compared to the menu right there over her face. Finally she finishes.

"I think my order is ready." 

The guy twirled briskly showing a bit embarrassment for temporarily neglecting outgoing orders. The last woman threw him off his game. 

"You know, now that I realize the cole slaw has apple and jalapeño I decided to have that too. I already have a mixed salad in the bag. I'm ready to go. I pulled out my wallet again. 

"Here. On the house." 

Another free thing! 


Shhh. The dough is resting.

Look! One is skinner than the rest and right next to one fatter than the rest. Man, I sure hope this insouciant distain for uniformity doesn't ruin everything.

Straight cream would make a decent sauce. 

This has 
* butter
* nutmeg
* chile flakes
* salt/pepper
* mustard powder
* grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. 

My dad used to say "This Parmesan cheese smells like toenails!" 

That never failed to crack us up. Because it did smell like toenails. Maybe. We didn't know. It just seemed hilarious. And we had that Kraft Parmesan in the green cylinder container on hand always but none of us knew what a poor imitation it is and what the real stuff is intended to taste like. We had no idea what the real stuff does. 

And there was no way a young family could justify the difference in cost without appreciating what the real cheese is and what it does. 

Too bad. And that lasted my parent's lives. So much is forfeited by not knowing. Except for the humor of hearing your dad say that then gleefully sprinkle some over his spaghetti.  

whole chicken, cut, brined, baked

unbaked  ↑
baked  ↓

Un problema menor: no me gusta.

* The chicken is insufficiently overcooked for me. I like chicken overcooked. When the chicken reaches the recommended temperatures for dark and for white the tendons and things in there haven't had time to break down. They're too tough. And I don't like that. The whole thing, this plate, is covered with aluminum foil and returned to the oven, and for a long time too, like forty-five minutes. 

* The brine is too salty. I predicted that and took measures of soaking in clear water for a long time, and that didn't work. The over salting ruins the chicken.

* The panko breading does not contribute. It mostly falls off and that's good because it's not good. Better to not have any breading at all. Plain skin chicken is better.

grilled steak dinner with baked potato, zucchini and tomato

The cast-iron-y smoke flavor imparted into the zucchini is heavenly. Oil from the beef works for half a dressing on the zucchini and a faint drizzle of balsamic vinegar over both tomato and zucchini makes the other half while the faint smoke can not be improved from just sitting there on the pan off the heat while the meat rests. 

Meat cut into cubes as a nursing home benefit. I have the chef's knife and cutting board at hand in the kitchen so might as well use it and save all that scratching on plates. 

A cheeseburger with fries next door, or a full size Philly sandwich and chips from across the street both cost more than this meal. 

commercial Italian sandwich, tomato and red bell pepper soup

This is the kind of sandwich that you buy from a machine. I bought two from the small store across the street. One sandwich was smoked turkey and cheese, and half that sandwich straight out of the package was truly horrible. I thought that if I were sufficiently hungry then anything will taste good, but that is not the case here. One bite sates starvation like swallowing a rock and you're ready to toss the rest. But then the second half was toasted in a pan and that changed the sandwich completely. The cheese melts, the meat heats up and the white bread in both sandwiches is greatly improved by toasting.

Torchy's guacamole and chips

This is what you get when you order guacamole with chips at Torchy's.

It is pureed guacamole with lime and salt. By my perception it tastes bland, one-dimensional. 

How can it be repaired? 

It needs: 

* double its volume and weight with diced tomato, squeezed and de-seeded.
* diced onion
* copious chopped  aromatic cilantro or basil if you are an  anticilantroite.
* cumin (essential for Old World Mexico)
* coriander (the ground seeds of cilantro plant)
* jalapeno peppers
* cayenne powder

I prefer lumps in the guacamole, that is, the avocado not processed to smoothness.  Puree paste is for sissies. Every time that it comes like that I go, "Ooooooh, bummer." 

I like Torchy's quite a lot. I do really like all the people over there. They've got a great thing going on. My experience is they cannot quite get a mixed order straight, an order for there and to-go at the same time. Wrong things bagged. Missing items. It's too much. Too complex to get straight. While they're so obsequious and charming and attentive about correcting the error that they cannot be faulted. Everyone that I've encountered over there is splendid, workers and guests. There's something about the place that has everyone behaving pleasantly and helpfully. 

A guest gave way graciously at the refill area. But I wasn't refreshing a drink. 

"Where's a trash can around here?" 

The woman stopped short. Looked around. Puzzled over the absence of a trash bin. Recalled the large  box concealing two bins near the front door. She veritably insisted on running my trash cup up to the font for me. A customer! She really really REALLY wanted to save me the trouble of walking over to the bin once she assessed the situation with my two canes. It's embarrassing. "That's fine. I'll be going out the front door. Thank you." Still, it's an example of how people are moment to moment right up to the very last moment of being in the place.

Edit: I must mention.

* The bag of chips that they give you is larger than the amount that you get at the table. It is a lot of chips.

* It's also a lot of guacamole. I didn't weigh it, but it is not a small container and it is heavy. It felt like two avocados worth by volume and weight.

* There are lumps in the mixture. Once I dug into it.

* Mine was repaired with generous cayenne and cumin.

pasta shells with chicken and bacon

And with processed cheese dip and regular plain ricotta, and Hatch chiles and with picked jalapeño.

steak sandwich with enhanced jalapeño

The young man at the small city store recommended these chile peppers. He said, "These ones are hot." 

And they are.

But not so much with this sandwich. It's weird, the sandwich with its cheese cloaks the heat of these chiles. 

If you ever see this stuff, you should just buy it.

This is half a sandwich from yesterday. The bread has been refrigerated. And it's never a good idea to microwave bread. Nevertheless this was microwaved for over a minute. Bread abuse.

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