Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Condiments I Have Known and Loved

From the makers of BaconSalt: Baconnaise.

Not technically a condiment, but looks delicious nonetheless.


Monday, September 29, 2008

The Church of Baconology

Normally I wouldn't publicize my religious views, but I want to spread the good word.


Friday, September 19, 2008

In-Home Entertainment

With all the bacon and dumplings and oddly-flavored naan lately, I know it looks like I never actually eat at home.
Which I do.

Proof: This pizza, which I made last week. In my house. I have this troublesome compulsion to grocery shop, buy a ton of perishable goods, and then eat out every night until everything I bought goes bad. I know I have a problem, and this pizza is part of the solution. Pizza is a great way to use up whatever's hanging around the fridge, on the brink of moldy death. In my case, critical patients included prosciutto, mushrooms, spinach, cherry tomatoes, and a tub of ricotta cheese.

I know that making pizza dough is really easy and cheap and blah blah, so shoot me, I bought prepackaged dough from Trader Joe's because it costs all of $2 and saved me at least an hour of prep time. Some might argue that this whole defense of me cooking at home isn't even cooking, because I'm actually really just assembling all my groceries on top of store-bought dough, to which I respond "meh" and point out that I had to turn on the both the stove and the oven for this venture, which constitutes cooking.

Anyhow. Here's the recipe:

1 bag pizza dough
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 lb fresh spinach, washed
1 cup cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced in half
(optional) 5-6 thin slices prosciutto or other cured meat
fresh mozzarella cheese
fresh ricotta cheese
1/2 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pizza dough to fit whatever you're cooking it on (I used a cookie sheet, so my pizza was rectangular). Brush with 2 tbsp olive oil.

Heat the remaining oil in a saute pan over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the onions and garlic. Cook until onions get soft, 5-7 minutes. Add the spinach and saute for an additional 2-3 minutes.

That's all the cooking we'll be doing today.

Arrange your pizza: I layered the prosciutto on the bottom, then mozzarella, the spinach/onion mix, mushrooms, and sprinkled the tomatoes and olives on top . And then spooned globs of ricotta over that. Salt, pepper and red pepper flakes were last.

Bake for appx. 25 minutes, or until crust is brown.

This recipe screams for adaptations, substitutions, additions or subtractions. I was trying to use up what was in my fridge, and pizza is pretty much a blank slate. It's stupid easy to make, but for some reason people are always really impressed with homemade pizzas. So remember, kids, every once in a while it's ok to have a night in.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

On Gluttony

Those who know me know I love pork. Those who love pork know that bacon is the crown jewel of pigs.
It is with this introduction that I present chocolate-covered bacon, the penultimate sweet/savory snack. It is sold at Roni-Sue's Candy Shoppe in lower Manhattan's Essex Market. Roni starts by taking 6 lbs of raw bacon, renders it down to about 1 lb, and then dips each strip into milk or dark chocolate.
Roni is a twisted genius.
Close-up on this magical, artery-clogging treat.


Friday, September 5, 2008


Xiao long bao from Nan Shian Dumpling House in Flushing, Queens. Wrapper thicker than traditional Shanghai-style, but still not doughy. XLB's nickname "soup dumplings" stems from the melted gelatin "broth" that spills out once the first bite is taken. Potentially very dangerous to the roof of the mouth. Hasty eaters, proceed with caution.

So I've been on blahg vacation. What did I do over my summer break? Mostly, I ate. (Shocker.) In particular, I ate a veritable shitton of my favorite food ever: DUMPLINGSSSS. I was actually reluctant to even post this because I worry that I might launch into some epic dumpling rhapsody that never ends. I love dumplings in all of their cultural/ethnic incarnations:
gyoza, ravioli/tortellini, kreplach, peirogi, mandoo, shu mai, gnocchi, matzoh balls, etc. Whatever. I'll take it all.

But my favorite dumplings are Chinese ones: xiao long bao (soup dumplings), jiaozi, potstickers, wontons, bready steamed bao, and probably 999 others I can't think of right now. It is not at all uncommon for me go significantly out of my way (i.e., Flushing) in the hunt for quality dumplings. I never get sick of them. Maybe this is a product of living in China for 5 months, but I seem to recall that my obsession with these bad boys began much earlier--in all seriousness, I once asked the counselors at my Jewish summer camp if any of our SYSCO-catered meals would include pork dumplings.

Hong-Kong style shrimp/pork/ black mushroom wontons from Sifu Chio in Flushing, Queens. Very thin wrapper, chunky filling (whole shrimp), garnished with sliced scallions. Broth unexceptional. These wontons kind of look like brains, no?

I can't even begin to break down the regional dumpling differences across China, so suffice it to say that I am careful with my ordering: never expect quality XLB (xiao long bao) at a Cantonese restaurant (if they offer them at all)--XLB are Shanghai specialties, nowhere near the southern Canton province. Conversely, the best steamed bbq pork bao are usually found at southern bakeries, and the potstickers from Fuzhou-style shops usually have thinner wrappers and lighter filling than their heavier, doughier Beijing jiaozi counterparts. I'm not even going to attempt to tackle dim sum.

!!!SERIOUSLY THE BEST DUMPLINGS EVER!!! I am so psyched about this place. Lan Zhou Hand-Pulled Noodle on East Broadway in Manhattan. Fuzhou-style potstickers, impossibly thin wrapper, fried gently on the bottom, with a nice coating of wok hay, then steamed on top. Filling is only pork and tons of scallions. Served with a sweet-garlic soy sauce mixed with Sriracha. $2/10 dumplings. OMFG! I LOVE LZHPN.

Traditionally, dumplings are a great way to dispose of leftovers: nasty little bits of meat, the top end of scallions, random chunks of vegetables from other dishes. I prefer to completely ignore any of the potentially unsavory aspects of my little pets; why do you think they're so cheap? No one ever died from tainted dumplings. It strengthens your immune system. Get over it.

Spicy Shanghai-style pork/cabbage wontons, with hot pepper oil, from Unnamed Wholesale Dumpling Distributor Place That Looks Confused Every Time I Go There, by my house in Brooklyn. I love it when Asian places ask white kids if they want their food spicy, and the white kid says yes, and then the Asian cook goes apeshit with the hot oil and the white kid is left clutching their tongue and gasping for breath while attempting to eat in a public place. These were pretty good.

In conclusion, dumplings are basically God's Ideal Food. And I <3 dumplings of all shapes and sizes. But especially the Chinese ones.