Monthly Archives: September 2003

Burrito time!

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Burrito time! My mother gave me a 10-pack of wheat tortillas, burrito sized. I decided to make burritos. The idea was to freeze them, but I won’t have the chance. I have taken them to school for lunch, and heat them up in the microwave with a glob of shredded cheese on top. I have made burritos in the past – slapping together beans and rice and stuffing them, but I wanted to be creative. I also opted not to add rice, since the tortilla has plenty of carbohydrates already. Here is what I made. (By the way, one of the tortillas was missing – either I got short-changed, or my husband snatched it!)

Black Bean Burritos

1 can of black beans

1/2 onion, chopped

1/2 bell pepper, fresh or roasted, chopped

1/2 to 2/3 cup of corn

1/2 cup crushed tomatoes or salsa

1 can green chiles, chopped

Cumin, garlic, pepper sauce, to taste

1. Sautee onions and fresh bell pepper until soft (if using roasted peppers, wait to add)

2. When onions are soft, add other ingredients and heat until bubbling.

3. Add seasonings, to taste

Chicken Mole Burritos

Olive oil, for sauteeing

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1/2 onion

1 bell pepper or poblano pepper (careful, some poblanos can have heat!)

1/2 jar mole sauce (I used Rogelio)

1. Saute onions and peppers, then remove to another container. Set aside

2. Saute chicken in same pan, adding more oil if necessary. Remove from pan and chop carefully.

3. Put all ingredients back in pan.

4. Dilute the mole sauce according to directions on jar (you may dilute with water or chicken broth). Add to pan and mix thoroughly (do not worry if it doesn’t mix perfectly, it will blend in the pan.).

Burrito tips:

Be careful not to add too much liquid to your filling – you don’t want your burritos to be soggy!

Don’t add too much filling – it will be difficult to roll your burritos!

I am really excited about burrito fillings now – look for more in the future! I am especially interested in using Mexican veggies, like nopales (cactus), to fill burritos! I also want to go buy some barbacoa and lengua, and fill some with that! Yummy!

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Restaurants I have to visit

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Restaurants I have to visit:

Sylvia’s Pastry 6065 S. Norcross Tucker Road, #9, Norcross (nearby!) Here’s why:

(Creative Loafing): “I’ve struck culinary paydirt at Silvia’s Pastry, a teeny tiny little Mexican spot in Norcross. It’s the tortillas. The steaming hot corn tortillas made mere moments before you eat them. They’re incredible, better than any tortillas I’ve had in Atlanta, including those at the now-defunct Oh…Maria!”

“Some caveats about this place: It’s cash only, and the hours can be irregular, so be sure to call ahead to see if they’re open.”

Cafeteria La Oaxaquena, 1669-B Spring Road, Smyrna, GA (old neighborhood). Here’s why:

(Creative Loafing): “The ingredients of La Oaxaquena’s tlayudas may look familiar — refried beans, tomatoes and cheese — but they bear little resemblance to the “Mexican pizza” served at Taco Bell. Refried beans, for instance, are not a dense, globby layer but rather a light, almost invisible paste that serves to bond the meat against the huge, crispy corn tortilla that comprises the base of the tlayuda. On top, a massive pile of cool iceberg lettuce is speckled with the aforementioned quesillo. Bright tomatoes and avocados hide within the green mountain.”

Any place that serves dim sum. Why? I had it in Houston with my friend Laura, and I’d like to have it again. Here is one recommendation from Creative Loafing:

Canton House

Favorites rotate as chefs and owners of restaurants change, but Canton House is currently on the top of my list … and just about everyone else’s in Atlanta. The room is not nearly as big as the others mentioned here, and the waits are longer during prime time, but it’s all worth it. The steam rolls out of the baskets and the dumplings are blazing hot. Aside from doing the classics — steamed buns, turnip cakes, rice noodles — justice, someone in the kitchen has an inventive imagination. I’ve seen cinnamon rolls Asian-style and bacon-wrapped shrimp roll through the dining room as well. Kudos to Canton House.

4825 Buford Highway, Chamblee. 770-936-9030.

Gaucho’s Grill,5495 Jimmy Carter Blvd., Norcross, GA. There’s also one on Buford Highway. I’ve been to that one for pastries, but apparently there are kidneys to be eaten there! Here’s more:

(Creative Loafing): “Perhaps it was the proximity of the International Farmer’s Market or the elderly customer blowing his nose directly onto the pavement outside while an unfazed waiter chatted with him in rapid Castilian that told me that Gaucho’s Grill, an Argentinean/ Uruguayan eatery, was truly free of pretense. The restaurant is named after the archetypal Argentinean cowboy figure, paintings of whom adorn the wall. Gaucho’s is a comfortable, everyday spot that serves up traditional, no-frills South American favorites. Hyper-drive air conditioning blankets the windows with a Christmastime-like frost and fútbol flashes on the restaurant’s TVs. Large tables of celebratory families clink glasses and pose for group photos, heightening Gaucho’s cheeriness.”

“It takes repeated asking — close to wheedling, actually — to get the check. However, the staff’s exceptional graciousness, paired with the fair prices and large portions, make Gaucho’s an enjoyable choice for even the pickiest cowboy. ”

Malaysian Food! (Creative Loafing): “Thai Palate Cuisine (265 Ponce de Leon Ave., 404-685-9988) has opened next to MF Sushi, in the complex that wraps itself about the temporarily closed Krispy Kreme donut shop.”

“I know that (Malaysia borders Thailand) but I’ve been to many Thai restaurants and do not recall ever going to one that chose to feature Malaysian food.”

This sounds good: “I ordered a special — not too spicy — of two fried soft-shell crabs in a green curry sauce with sugar peas, red peppers, asparagus and basil, served with rice. Every ingredient glistened and the crabs were the best I’ve had this season.”

From the same article: “La Feria (1860 Corporate Blvd., 404-728-0830) is not a gourmet restaurant but it does offer more authentic and challenging dishes than any other Mexican restaurant in town that I know. Opened by the folks who own Marisqueria 7 Mares, La Feria is located in an old Denny’s where Buford Highway intersects with Corporate Boulevard. Look for the Pink Pony. You’re there.”

Something to scare my husband: “The dinner menu is staggering. Any regular reader of this column knows that I will happily eat just about anything from any eco-system. But I’m sorry: I ain’t ordering La Feria’s bull testicles. I hope that gives you an idea of how extensive and odd this menu is. There’s also rabbit and goat, quails and Cornish hens.”

Something to make my husband happy (and an alternative to Folks?):

Greenwood’s – There’s nothing like Greeny’s when you’re hungry for soulful fare. From the pile of corn muffins slung on the table by a sassy server to the trout with lemon butter sauce, broccoli casserole and dense, cinnamony apple pie, this is stick-to-your-ribs chow with an irreverent yet patriotic heart. Leftovers for lunch the next day are all but guaranteed. 1087 Green St., Roswell, 770-992-5383.

Madras Saravana Bhavan – Located across from North DeKalb Mall in a barely renovated Folks restaurant, MSB has some of the most compelling South Indian food in town. It’s all vegetarian, but carnivorous types won’t miss the meat. The menu is huge, though a few keepers include the texturally multi-layered bhel puri, the lithe masala dosa crepe stuffed with potato and the saffron-scented shrikand for dessert. Come with a group and find your own favorites. This is food meant for sharing. 2179 Lawrenceville Highway, Decatur, 404-636-4400.

Sala– Connoisseurs, welcome to your Holy Grail. Sala serves the most precisely and seductively engineered margaritas in town. Yes, the martini-esque shaker presentation is kinda pretentious, but wait until you taste. I’m perpetually jonesing for the Longhorn (their take on a Texas margarita) or the Reales, a bracing yet refreshing creation with no sweet and sour mix added. I’ll warn you: They ain’t cheap, and you can spend a small fortune here, but they’re worth every sip. And now that the restaurant has a new chef, it’s safe to move from the sleek bar into the lively dining room and stay for dinner. 1186 N. Highland Ave., 404-872-7203.

Falafel Cafe, 950 Cobb Parkway Suite 100, Marietta, GA. Here’s why:

(Creative Loafing): “There’s the standard stuff that everyone knows and may or may not love — hummus and tabbouleh and the like. But since owner Reza Gharaat bought the restaurant a few years back, his food has largely shifted to seductive, esoteric delights of Persian fare. One may wonder why he didn’t change the restaurant’s name, but given the relative obscurity of Persian food in this country, how many folks would show up at a place called Ash-e-Reshteh Cafe?”

This sounds good: “start with Kashk-o-Bademjan, a dense but silken eggplant dip drizzled with cream of whey and garnished with a clump of gooey caramelized onions. It’s served with smokin’ hot flatbread fresh from the griddle.” “If you’re with a crowd, order the herbaceous beef variation known as Gormeh Sabsi. The combination of cilantro, parsley and fenugreek in the mix is pleasantly astringent and compliments the other tastes on the table, but I wouldn’t order it alone.”

One of my Iranian students brought gormeh sabsi to our international day, and it was fabulous!

Okay, I know this is not all. In fact, I finally found Creative Loafings restaurants listing page, and here are some more:

I haven’t had pho yet, so:

Ca Dao Vietnamese Restaurant, 4166 Buford Hwy., 404-982-0700. The cold weather requires soup. My favorite ethnic soup is the Vietnamese pho. Usually made with beef stock, to which rice noodles, herbs, chilies, lime and a variety of meats are added. Buford Highway is lined with pho restaurants, including Ca Dao, which probably serves the best pho in the city. $

Pho 79, 4166 Buford Highway, 404-728-9129. Go here to find a remarkable Vietnamese soup that is not strictly pho. I’m talking about the menu designation of K-10, called mi quang. It is from central Vietnam and features beef broth with broad yellow noodles. It’s full of pork, shrimp, eggs, rice wafers and roasted peanuts that add a fascinating dimension to the usual soups. Of course, you’ll float herbs and chilies on top. It’s $5.75. What could be better? $$

Noodle, 205 E. Ponce de Leon Ave., 404-378-8622. Stylish, moderately priced noodle bar features appetizers, noodle bowls, soups, rice plates and entree salads, four or five of each, all more or less Chinese, Korean, Thai or Vietnamese in derivation and presentation. Oversize crockery, decent wine-and-beer list and touchy-feely industrial decor emphasize the distance Asian-American-style restaurants have traveled — from mainland to mainstream. $$

Other Places:

Little Malaysia, 5150 Buford Highway, 770-458-1818. Bare-bones Buford Highway establishment serves authentic Malaysian cuisine. Beef rendang is a good measuring stick for any Malaysian restaurant — and at Little Malaysia, it’s irresistible. The slow-cooked beef with spicy brown sauce and coconut flakes melts in your mouth. Curries, soups and noodles are stellar as well. Like the environment, the service is no-frills. $$

Panahar, Northeast Plaza, 3375 Buford Highway #1060, 404-633-6655. Owner Mirza Chowdhury and his staff are all Bangladeshi, and Panahar’s menu mirrors that fact: The food is less oily, less spicy and less meat-oriented than standard Indian cuisine. There’s tons to choose from on the menu, but once you exhaust that the chef is willing to make up anything else that might tickle your fancy. Truly one of the best new Indian restaurants in town.

Salumeria Taggiasca, 209 Edgewood Ave, 404-524-0006. In the midst of the Sweet Auburn Curb Market is the unassuming Salumeria Taggiasca counter, a mini Italian market that serves the best sandwiches in the city, while offering olives, cheeses, meats and an array of imported products. The hardcore Italian sandwich list may seem overwhelming with its difficult-to-pronounce names and exotic ingredients (all imported from Italy, except for the Bread Garden bread). But don’t despair — you won’t regret any of your choices. $

Casbah, 465 N. Highland Ave., 404-524-5777. A fun place to take yourself, and not just for a special occasion, this comfy, affordable North Highland harem features belly dancing, notable sweet-spicy salads, first-rate couscous and more-or-less traditional versions of Moroccan poultry pie and lamb with apricots and honey. $$$

Pangaea, 1082 Huff Road, 404-350-8787. The coolest sandwich shop we’ve encountered in years. It’s not far from Bacchanalia and Taqueria del Sol and definitely worth the drive wherever you are in the city. The menu boasts sandwiches from Mexico, Cuba, Vietnam, the Middle East, Italy and America. The panino grosso — a flat-grilled Italian classic with salami, cappicola, sopressata and ham with provolone and pickled red onions — is delicious but pales beside the Vietnamese banh mi. $

Georgia French Bakery & Cafe, 3512 Satellite Blvd., Suite 5, 770-622-2682. The accents of the bakers at Georgia French Bakery & Cafe are real. And so are the wonderful breads. In addition to the baguettes, there’s a chewy pain de campagne (country French), a firm-crusted pain au levain (sourdough), pain complet (whole wheat), pain de seigle (rye with plenty of caraway seeds), sweet brioche (perfect for breakfast) and a full-flavored pain de semoule (semolina). As befits a French bakery, everything is made fresh every day, which means that sometimes, the one thing you were planning on getting will be gone. $$

Costa del Sol, 6265 Jimmy Carter Blvd., 770-840-6040. Central American cuisine includes Salvadoran, Honduran and Ecuadoran as well as more familiar Mexican-oriented items. No matter, the must-eat are the pupusas — a pancake-like item filled with gooey cheese and meat. $$$

Aires Latinos, 3853 Lawrenceville Highway, 770-407-4654. Aires Latinos is proof that gifted cooks are not the province solely of four- and five-star establishments. A Colombian family in Tucker is producing an array of startlingly sophisticated dishes at moderate prices. Enthusiastic menu descriptions pale in comparison to the real things. $$$

The only thing missing is a section on the Brazilian churrascarias that I want to try!

You have got to try this cake!

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You have got to try this cake! I posted a link to it while I was in Mexico, and I was explaining what cajeta was. I wish there was a way (there probably is, and I just don’t know how!) to link to specific posts. Anyway, it was in July sometime, but here is the recipe. As the website where I found the recipe states, you may not want to have it all the time, but it’s great for special occasions. I am thinking of serving it with fruit, pecans, whipped cream, and a drizzling (be careful, a little goes a long way!) of cajeta. Cajeta can be purchased at any international or Mexican market, or check out the link to MexGrocer.com to the right.

Cajeta Pound Cake

3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

3 cups sugar

8 large eggs

4 cups sifted all-purpose flour (sift before measuring)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups cajeta

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and set a rack on the lower-middle level. Grease a 10-inch Bundt pan or tube pan. Dust lightly with flour, shake out the excess and set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until the mixture is light in color and texture, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl down with a spatula if necessary. Beat the mixture until it is light in color, about 3 minutes.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and slowly add to the creamed mixture, beating on low speed. Increase the speed and beat for 2 minutes. On the lowest speed, beat in the cajeta.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake the cake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the middle comes out clean. (Begin to test after one hour of baking.)

Remove the cake from the oven, and let it cool in the pan set on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Unmold the cake onto the rack, and let it cool completely.

Well-wrapped, the cake will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days and, in the refrigerator, for several days longer.

-from A Cowboy in the Kitchen:

Recipes from Reata and Texas West of the Pecos by By Grady Spears and Robb Walsh

I also did some experimentation with stir fry vegetables and shrimp. I made a big pot of rice, and was planning on making stir fry. I had the shrimp, and the rest of an unsatisfactory packet of stir fry veggies (it is offensive to my husband because it contains squash…), but nothing to season it with – no sauce. I collect packets of seasoning and sauces from the Farmers Market, and settled on one for

Mama Sita’s Tamarind Seasoning Mix, with which I made a bastardized version of the following recipe – served on rice, no less! I almost added a can of collard greens I had, but chickened out!

Sinigang na Hipon (Shrimps in Tamarind Broth)

Ingredients:

5 cups water

1 pc onion, medium-sized, quartered

2 pcs tomatoes, sliced into wedges

1 pc Labanos (radish), peeled and cut diagonally

1 cup sitaw (long beans), cut into 2″ (4 cm) strips

2 pcs sili (green chili pepper)

1/2 tbsp patis (fish sauce)

1 pouch Mama Sita’s Sinigang (Tamarind Seasoning ) Mix

20-25 pcs sugpo (prawns), trimmed 1 cup green leafy vegetables such as kangkong (asian watercress), spinach, or mustasa (mustard greens)

Directions:

Bring water to a boil. Add onion and tomatoes . Simmer for 5 minutes. Add radish, long beans, chili pepper, fish sauce, and Mama Sita’s Sinigang (Tamarind Seasoning) Mix. Continue to simmer for another 3 minutes uncovered. Add the shrimps and simmer for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the green leafy vegetables. Cover to steam-cook vegetables. Serve immediately.

Variation:

Fish or pre-boiled beef brisket may also be used instead of shrimps.

What I ended up with was a much larger amount – I got the Economy Pack! – with crushed tomatoes, onions, stir fry veggies, and shrimp – served over rice. I will try it again – I am always looking for something to do with fish pieces from Harry’s Farmer’s Market!

I just found an interesting article on Filipino food, and this dish called sinigang, in particular. Very interesting!

Olive Mix and the Muffaletta – I was raised in Lo…

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Olive Mix and the Muffaletta – I was raised in Louisiana, and any trip to New Orleans automatically meant a trip to Central Grocery, in the French Quarter. That shop was my first taste, not only of this delicious sandwich, but of exotic foods in general. They stocked, and still stock, all sorts of European ethnic foods. If you get a chance to go, my father’s picture is on a newspaper clipping to the left of one of the cashiers, pinned to the wooden partition. It was taken in the 70’s, I believe! We would buy a muffaletta sandwich and something to drink, and either eat it there or outside. We would also be sure to purchase a jar or two of the olive salad mix to take home.

Going to Central Grocery is still a part of my “Visit to New Orleans Routine” – (only two more weeks until I am there for the TESOL Convention!), only I might add a bag of Zapp’s Potato Chips to the lunch. I will have to talk to them about my purchase last year, however. Usually, I can store the jar of Olive Salad in the pantry until it is opened. This time, however, after storing it, I opened it and it started bubbling up and over the sides of the jar like a volcanic eruption! My father-in-law’s jar did the same! I guess it needs to be refrigerated pronto from now on!

In this entry, I hope to share with you some alternatives to going all the way to New Orleans to experience this delicacy – although any reason to go to New Orleans is good for me! I have had recipes for Olive Salad – or Olive Mix, as it is sometimes called – passed along to me, but have not made them. Actually, in the Costco deli section, there is a great olive mix that can be used. You can also order Olive salad over the Internet!

Muffuletta Olive Salad from Fabulous Foods.com

Note from Cheri: Although technically a salad, this recipe is usually served as a spread as a basis for New Orleans’ famous Muffuletta Sandwich. However, it is a versatile ingredient that can be used to season pastas, vegetable and meat dishes as well. Think of using this much in the same way you could use pesto. You can find Giardiniera in Italian markets and in the pickle sections of most supermarkets.

1/2 C black brine cured olives, such as kalamatas

1/2 C green olives

1 C finely chopped celery, with leaves

1 C Giardiniera (Italian pickled vegetables)

1/3 C chopped fresh Italian parsley

3-4 clove garlic

1/4 C olive oil

1/2 – 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pit olives (if necessary) and combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Process until mixed, but still somewhat chunky — do not puree (see photo). For the best flavor, cover and refrigerate for a few hours before using.

Here is another recipe, which seems more authentic – only because it has so much more stuff in it!. It is from Gumbo Pages.com – a recipe for the sandwich is included:

The Muffaletta Sandwich

For the olive salad:

1 gallon large pimento stuffed green olives, slightly crushed and well drained

1 quart jar pickled cauliflower, drained and sliced

2 small jars capers, drained

1 whole stalk celery, sliced diagonally

4 large carrots, peeled and thinly sliced diagonally

1 small jar celery seeds

1 small jar oregano

1 large head fresh garlic, peeled and minced

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 jar pepperoncini, drained (small salad peppers) left whole

1 pound large Greek black olives

1 jar cocktail onions, drained

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl or pot and mix well. Place in a large jar and cover with 1/2 olive oil and 1/2 Crisco oil. Store tightly covered in refrigerator. Allow to marinate for at least 24 hours before using.

For the sandwich:

1 round loaf italian bread

1/4 pound mortadella, thinly sliced

1/4 pound ham, thinly sliced

1/4 pound hard Genoa salami, thinly sliced

1/4 pound Mozzarella cheese, sliced

1/4 pound Provolone cheese,sliced

1 cup olive salad with oil

Split a muffuletta loaf or a loaf of Italian bread horizontally. Spread each half with equal parts of olive salad and oil. Place meats and cheeses evenly on bottom half and cover with top half of bread. Cut in quarters. Enjoy!

Serves four timid dieters, two hearty New Orleanians or one incredible maiale.

Now, there are many variations, including this complicated one from The Culinary Institute of New Orleans.

Now, for the variations. As mentioned above, there are many things that Olive Salad can be used on. I was visiting Emeril Lagasse’s site, and he has recipes for Muffaletta, Muffaletta Calzones, and Fried Calamari with Creole Olive Salad. Sounds yummy!

I believe that it was my sister, or my father, that first told me about a pasta salad that was being made with muffaletta ingredients. Until I get her recipe, here is one from Sara Moulton.com:

Muffaletta Pasta by Jeff Lane

Makes about 15 (2 cup) servings or enough for the whole neighborhood

1 pound shaped pasta (such as spirals, wagon wheels, penne)

kosher salt

2 pounds andouille sausage, cut into ½-inch cubes

1/2 pound tasso (Cajun spiced ham), cut into ½-inch cubes

1 (32-ounce) jar olive salad

4 large stalks celery, coarsely chopped

2 bell peppers (any color), coarsely chopped

1 large red onion, coarsely chopped

1 bunch green onions, white and green parts chopped separately

1 pound salami, cut into ½-inch cubes

1 pound Italian-style grated cheese mixture (or ½ pound each Provolone and Swiss cheeses, grated)

Ground black pepper

Cook pasta in salted water in 8 quart stockpot following package directions until al dente; drain in colander and set aside.

In same stockpot, saute andouille and tasso in 2 tablespoons oil from olive salad (or olive oil if salad doesn’t include oil) until sausage is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Add celery, pepper, red onion, and white part of green onions. Saute, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are just tender, about 8 minutes.

Stir in olive salad with any remaining oil, salami and the cooked pasta. Cook, stirring, over medium heat until all ingredients are hot. Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary. Remove from heat and stir in cheese. Transfer to large serving bowl and sprinkle with green part of green onions, if using.

Note: If you have trouble finding these ingredients in your part of the country – olive salad, andouille sausage and tasso are available on the internet at Cajun Grocer.com

I plan on making something like this for my husband’s choir potluck this week, as well as for packed lunches!Semolina Restaurant in New Orleans has an interesting hot pasta dish with Muffaletta ingredients.

Last, but not least, my father put together Muffaletta bites for a party once. Basically, he sliced good french bread into thin slices, chopped up luncheon meat and put a layer of that on the slices, which were spread on an oiled cookie sheet. He then added a bit of chopped olive salad and some provolone or mozzarella cheese on top, and baked the slices in the oven until the cheese was bubbly.

I am a big fan of pizza, and this translates well to pizza – no tomato sauce, please! Here is Emeril’s version of Muffaletta Pizza and another fromRecipe Gold Mine. I don’t make dough of any kind right now, so I prefer to use pocketless pita from Kontos. They taste great!