Saturday, January 23, 2016

Kitchen Comeback Update 3

I made something I always wanted to make from scratch, well at lest the sauce. That was rice noodles in Thai peanut sauce. It was good, but the recipe is not the right one for me. I found another that does not use quite as many salty ingredients and I plan to use unsalted peanut butter the next time. My second attempt at Filipino pancit and my third attempt at Grandma’s zucchini casserole were spot on. I perfected both of those dishes, which is good since they are childhood favorites. I am glad I now have great versions to make from now on.

Turkey breast  in guajillo marinade roasted in banana leaves

I bought two of the Hungarian sausages from the German delicatessen. They were a tad steep in cost, so that will be something I do as treat every great once and awhile. I got a little burned out on the hummus, salsa, and tzatziki sauce. I toned that down the last few months. I still have the fixings for hummus and tzatziki sauce.

                                      Pipián rojo de Pepitas

I did use the Veggetti to make cucumber noodles with a tzatziki like dressing, I liked it. I also used it to make cucumber noodles with tonnato sauce. I preferred it with the cucumbers. I made zucchini noodles with marinara and Thai cucumber condiment salad with cucumber noodles. The Veggetti is turning into a well used device.

                                           Masa stuffing

I learned that veggie pizzas take longer to cook, otherwise they will get soggy. Last time I made Filipino adobo I thought the rice wine vinegar was too mild, I am going to try white or cider vinegar next time. When I made the zucchini noodles with marinara sauce they got too soft after blanching. I sautéed the zucchini noodles in the sauce as I warmed it. That infused the noodles with the flavor of the sauce and the zucchini noodles had the right amount of body to them.


I was really happy with my first attempt at my own chili con carne recipe. I added chipotle powder, ancho, powder, and Hungarian hot paprika to the recipe. I also added more cumin and paprika to it. The second attempt I used the identical recipe. It was a homerun. Next time I may add some guajillo chile puree. I started making bean and cheese burritos as a snack or meal. I use beans, cheese, salsa or taco sauce and pickled jalapeños. I ended up buying two jars of pickled jalapeños in December. My getting reacquainted with chiles continues. I used to eat pickled jalapeños on nachos growing up, but stopped in the last 30 years. That is when my tolerance for spicy foods started to wane. The last four or five months I have really increased how much heat I can handle. I tend to get things in the medium range. 

                                  California roll nachos

I finally did a holiday dinner. In the past I have made it following either my family’s traditions or that of my ex’s family. This year I went with Mexican dishes or Mexican inspired dishes. I made turkey breast roasted in banana leaves with guajillo marinade, pipián rojo de pepitas (a Mexican red pumpkin seed sauce), masa stuffing (stuffing made from masa harina {tamale/corn tortilla flour}), and esquites (Mexican roasted corn salad). There were a few tweaks needed to prefect the dishes, overall it was a huge success. The turkey breast was very moist. Next time I will use a little less lime in the esquites, more stock or broth in the stuffing, and guajillos instead of ancho chiles in the pipián.

                                            Salumi pizza

January had some speed bumps. I made a salumi pizza (pizza with Italian cured meats). The first attempt stuck to the rack. The second attempt stuck to the baking sheet. The third worked out well, however the edges were a little on the dark side. The fourth was still a little dark but I think I got it ready for next time. I made Puerto Rican arroz con gandules (rice and pigeon peas). I was confused by the cooking direction and scorched the dish. Luckily I had enough to make it a second time. The second attempt the rice was a bit overcooked. The pegao, the crispy layer of rice at the bottom of the pot or pan, was a tad dark, but my mom loved it. Third time, I hope will be the charm.

                            Puerto Rican arroz con gandules

Since I started cooking again I have done the following family/childhood favorites: Quaker Oats meatloaf, Grandma Mac’s zucchini casserole (this one I perfected), 10 layer salad (a variation of Grandma Mac’s 7 layer salad), Filipino chicken pancit with mung bean thread noodles (AKA pancit sotanghon), Filipino chicken adobo, Filipino pork adobo, chile relleno casserole, Rick’s taco meat, shoyu chicken, and beans with smoked pork shank. I created my own chili con carne recipe. I found recipes for dishes I have loved as an adult: rice noodles in Thai peanut sauce, sopa de lima (Yucatan style chicken and lime soup), tzatziki sauce, roasted garlic hummus, picante sauce style salsa, pork chile verde, pipián rojo de pepitas (Mexican pumpkin seed sauce), tortilla Española (Spanish tortilla: egg onions, and red potatoes), Puerto Rican arroz con gandules (rice and pigeon peas) and enchiladas Suizas. 2015 was a banner year for my cooking journey. Yes, it was only 8 months of the year that is still two thirds of it.

The one thing I had missed with cooking from scratch is the constant experimenting. Be it with flavors or the cuisines of other cultures. I plan to expand my culinary horizons. There are other Filipino recipes other than the two I know how to make, adobo and pancit with mung bean thread noodles, and Filipino lumpia (AKA Shanghai egg rolls: a taquito sized egg roll), which I do not know how to make. I need to look into what else is out there. I plan to explore more with Mexican cuisine, Thai cuisine, Indian cuisine, Indonesian cuisine, Cuban cuisine, Puerto Rican cuisine, and so much more.

November 2015

Filipino chicken adobo with rice.

December 2015

Rick’s veggie pizza (marinara, mozzarella, parmesan, mushrooms, olives, green bell peppers, and pickled jalapeños), Hungarian sausage with mashed potatoes, quesadillas with chipotle powder, bean burritos (beans, green taco sauce, cheese, and pickled jalapeños), Filipino chicken pancit, rice noodles in Thai peanut sauce, tangy chilled avocado soup, smoked turkey sausage and mashed potatoes, turkey Polska kielbasa with mashed potatoes, toasted cheese sandwiches, zucchini noodles in marinara with parmesan cheese, Grandma’s Zucchini casserole, gazpacho Mexicano with lime and cilantro, cucumber noodles in tonnato sauce, toast points with tonnato sauce, zucchini in pesto, 10 layer salad, turkey breast roasted in banana leaves with guajillo chile marinade, pipián rojo de pepitas (Mexican red pumpkin seed sauce), masa stuffing, esquites (Mexican corn salad with roasted corn, cotija cheese, lime, cilantro, mayo, and Mexican hot chili powder), Rick’s red rice (rice, dice tomatoes, diced mild green chiles, guajillo puree, black beans, onion, garlic, and corn), Indonesian sweet pork with jasmine rice, and quesadillas.

January 2016

Quesadillas, bean and cheese burritos, Rick’s homemade chili con carne, California roll nachos, salumi pizza (salumi means cured or salted meats in Italian/ prosciutto, Genoa salami, capicolo, and pepperoni with mozzarella, parmesan, and homemade marinara), Puerto Rican arroz con gandules (rice and pigeon peas), quesadillas tradicionales (corn tortillas, Oaxaca cheese, and Spanish chorizo), zucchini noodles in marinara, and Thai cucumber condiment salad with cucumber noodles.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

David Bowie & Me

I write this on the evening of January 10, 2016, I just learned of the passing of David Robert Jones or as the world knew him, David Bowie. Before I get to his accomplishments, I will get to my personal history with this musician, music producer, actor, and artist. Growing up in the seventies he was on the radio everywhere. At my Pentecostal Junior High, he was characterized by the teachers and school literature as one of the more morally corrupt rockers of the 60’s and 70’s since he was a self admitted bi-sexual. When I read about him I did not realized who he was based on his music till I was in High School. During that time my musical tastes were hard rock and metal. I loved his work from Space Oddity to the work in the mid 70’s. I was not a fan of his late 70’s to mid 80’s work, due to the genres David Bowie was working on in that period.

In college (1986-1988) at Forest Grove, Oregon when I was a Disk Jockey on KUPR, Pacific University’s radio station, I had a Classic Rock/ Oldies show. David Bowie was in serious heavy rotation. It did not hurt that the station had so many of his works on vinyl. In college I was experimenting seriously with music. When I immersed myself in his music, in college, I did not care about his sexuality. His work sung to me. I learned to love all of his work in college. I was the ultimate misfit in my mind, the genetic freak of nature. David Bowie loved freaks of all shapes, sizes, creeds colours, and endless varieties.

I have to admit David Bowie, along with another hero who just happened to be a friend of David Bowie’s, Freddie Mercury, taught me to accept all people for who they are. My credo is unless someone is doing harm to others and themselves I do my best to be accepting. In High School I started a path of rejecting some of the moralistic judgmental parts of my upbringing, by college and my mid-twenties the last vestiges of this were gone. I, to this day, see David Bowie’s work as instrumental in that path. As an adult I realized how he seriously influenced music from the 70’s on.

I saw many of his films: Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983), The Hunger (1983), Labyrinth (1986), Absolute Beginners (1986), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), Zoolander (2001), and The Prestige as Nikola Tesla (2006). Even if I did not care for the film, his performances were always impeccable.

Let’s get to his musical accomplishments. First was the hit Space Oddity in 1969 followed by the albums Man Who Sol the World (1970) and Hunky Dory (1971). David Bowie helped usher in the Glam Rock era of the early 70’s with The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders of Mars. He continued to experiment with rock, soul, funk, ambient, and electronic music over the years. He inspired punk, the new romanticism movement, Goth, new wave, alternative, electronic, ambient, industrial, synthpop, grunge, and so much more. Some of the inspiration was musical, some was style, and he inspired others with attitude.

He was behind the re-mergence of Lou Reed post Velvet Underground with Transformer in 1972. Lou had released a solo album prior, but it did not do well. Transformer blew the hinges off things. David Bowie and his guitarist Mick Ronson were instrumental as the producers of the album that helped Lou re-discover his voice. That album had Lou Reed’s best known classics on it: Vicious, Perfect Day, Walk on the Wild Side, and Satellite of Love. David Bowie had a long working relationship with Brian Eno. He helped Iggy Pop with his solo career post Stooges with producing and writing songs for the albums Idiot (1977) and Lust for Life (1977). He even co-wrote Under Pressure, his duet with Queen in 1981. In 1982, David Bowie worked with Nile Rodgers of Chic on the album Let’s Dance. The Post Disco era had been hard on Rodgers. Let’s Dance led to Rodgers producing INXS, Duran Duran and Madonna. David Bowie was an artistic advocate; he helped other artists he valued.

In 1988 he started the band Tin Machine, going back to his rock roots. In 1995 he worked with Eno again on Outside. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. In 1997 he allowed Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails to remix I’m Afraid of Americans. His last album Blackstar (2016) was released in the same month as his passing.

He was a true Renaissance man and artist. He did not allow himself to become stagnant in any musical style, he evolved with the times. No one ever thought he was irrelevant, ever. He was a true inspiration and innovator. I hope he will inspire generations to come.