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The End

I could not go out on chicken cooked with chocolate. It has been weeks since my last post, an utterly failed attempt at “chocolate rabbit”, and I have faded out of this blog thing. It was a blast while it lasted and great way to document my kitchen successes and failures over the past year and a half but now I just do not have the time. With culinary school and work, even though I spend most of my day cooking I feel like I hardly really cook anymore outside of making food for my friends in return for a couch to sleep for the night and rare night I make dinner for the fam. So I am hanging up my keyboard, for now, and retiring No More Caf Food. To wrap it all up though here is a collection of my favorite and strangest meals and posts (in chronological order):

Fish Friday!

Gelatinous Goodness

Last Fish Friday of Lent

Sun and Snacks

Dogfish with Dogfish

Menudo

Quail Man

Reading Terminal Market Philadelphia

Chicken Into the Unknown

Black Bear Meat (Grrrr!)

Live Eel

Seafood Feast

Pork Roast with Balsamic Mashed Potatoes 

Clams with Guanciale and Lemon Verbena 

Rabbit Dumpling Sans Wrapper

Mind Blowing Skate

Putting a Face to Food

Whole Shrimp Again

Apartment Marinated Sardines

Getting Nosey

Taking Advantage of My California Trip

Sardines and Raisins. Who woulda thought?

Good bye! See you at my next project.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Bunny

I have this dream. Of creating a dish that is jet black but tastes amazing. Squid ink could do that trick, but that is cheating. The idea is really a jet black sauce to go with already jet black squid ink pasta. I have been playing around a little with the idea, seeing what sort of ingredients could get me a black sauce. I first make flour out of black rice and black quinoa but that didn’t get me the color I wanted. I am thinking that black beans or black olives could do that trick in the future. But as for now I made an attempt with raisins and unsweetened chocolate, turned out brown not black but I did get a chocolate bunny.

I had never made a savory chocolate dish before. But I have had mole and did hear about a recipe for rabbit in a savory chocolate sauce. Rather than look up a recipe I just tried to figure it out on my own.

I first browned the rabbit in butter with onions, figuring the butter would work better than any other fat with chocolate. Then I added some water, cloves, the chocolate, and raisins along with salt and black pepper. On first taste I got worried. Not at all what I was expecting. Tasted like bitter chocolate and onions. It needed something else. So flip flopping between sweet and savory I added honey, tomato paste, chili powder, and dried ancho chilies until it tasted right.

It actually tasted pretty good. Some bites were more bitter than others but some had a really good, hard to describe flavor that went well with the lean rabbit meat. At the end I did puree some of the left over sauce to blend in the raisins, adding sweetness, and it actually tasted a lot better.

It looked like shit on the plate, literally, not the most appetizing effect but that is kind of the point. Rabbit and chocolate doesn’t sound very appetizing either.

It was my day off so that meant it was my turn to cook dinner. Now I was not just going to make something plain and simple. This was my one opportunity each week to try and make something wild and different, while at the same time attempting to satisfy everyone in the house, which is never an easy task.

So I found myself wandering through Fairway Market trying to come up with something. Earlier in the day my sister had said she wanted some sort of seafood. So through a series of text I learned that scallops and clams would make everyone happy. Now what else to make?

I had bought black rice while at Eataly and had wanted to try it. I assumed it would not be much different than regular white rice, possibly a little more fibrous, like brown rice. Also I have been in love with shiitake mushrooms for months now so figured I would make a faux risotto with the rice and shiitakes.

I needed a green though. I’m tired for steamed or sauteed veggies though. Something I do love, but never have at home, is Asian cabbages. So I bought some small bok choy to make a raw salad with. I tossed it with some julienne kohlrabi, oranges, and a mirin and sesame vinaigrette. I found it delicious, no one else did.

Everyone did like the scallops and clams, which I cooked with lemongrass, ginger, and scallions. But the rice, was not a hit. I thought it had a lot of flavor, and though the texture was fibrous I didn’t find it over powering. The color was a shot though. It was dark red and turned the shiitakes dark red as well, making them impossible to find. My mom said it should have been mixed in with other rice. I totally disagreed because by doing so you ruin the texture that the rice has. Alone you get something new, something different, rice unlike rice. My argument was why does rice have to be the way we have always known it? Why can’t it be entirely different, in color, flavor, and texture?

So though everyone else hated my dinner, retiring to cereal after a few bites, I thought it was a success because I loved it, pushed the comfort zone in my house, and tried out a new ingredient.

Next I want to try and make my own rice noodles with the rice and turn the rice into flour and bread something with it.

 

 

 

 

Since I have been working in the afternoons nearly everyday of the week so far this summer the only time I have to cook for myself has been breakfast. Usually I am not a huge fan of breakfast. At school it was either cereal or an omelette of what ever I had in the fridge. But lately I have been on a egg kick and been trying different combos of bread, egg, and whatever I have in the fridge. This morning I hit a winner though with an open faced sandwich.

The sorrel in my garden was looking good this morning so I used that as a starting point. I also had some garlic scapes. But now what to turn that into. Looking around the kitchen I noticed a loaf of Portuguese bread my mom had bought on the counter and looking into the fridge for something to give it flavor I found ‘nduja and fresh ricotta.

So I mixed the ‘nduja, garlic scapes, and ricotta together and heated it up. Then I sauteed mushrooms before frying the eggs. I layer the sorrel, mushrooms, eggs, then ricotta mixture on top of the bread. It was fucking awesome.

Eggs and Weeds

I stopped by my friend’s garden the other day to see what was ready to pick, and look for some weeds that I could eat. While there I snagged some garlic scapes, wild mustard, and lambsquarters (real ones this time after I discovered I was eating some other plant and not lambsquarters. Woops!).

At home I planted some of the mustard in my garden. I have dreams of creating my own vegetable from it. A lot of vegetables were breed from wild mustard so figure if I start soon enough maybe in a few years I could have something. The rest I brought inside and cooked.

I wilted the mustard leaves and lambsquarters but my oil was too hot and I ended up frying them a bit. They didn’t have mush flavor though. Also they disappeared into nothing once wilted. I slow cooked the eggs with some garlic scapes. Altogether it was alright, nothing exceptional.

Space and sunlight have always been scarce for me. I had a plant on every square inch of usable space in my apartment but with little to no sunlight I was forced to bring in an old fish tank light and use stacks of books to hold it up. This started the rogue garden, in one sense. I planted as many seeds as I could, assuming most would not come up in my pots made of used yogurt containers and tupperware. Then if nothing sprouted I would reuse dirt. Then what I hadn’t recently planted would sprout or I would save a seed from a vegetable or fruit, forget to properly label it, and plant it, the resulting plant unknown.

Once home I used dirt from my compost pile to supply my garden and pots. Most of the plants already growing on my apartment desk failing to survive the trip I was forced to replant seeds. In my compost pile I already found potatoes and tomato plant sprouting, which I replanted, no idea what plant lied beneath or was going to fruit.

I then spread this compost, full of ungerminated seeds from produce long tossed, into my garden and into my pots. Left and right mystery plants began to sprout up. Then lack of keeping track of what was planted where, I had five types of tomatoes and two types of eggplant seeds and quickly lost track, plant began to pop up and for know I have no idea what they will produce.

Here are the big mysteries:

Possibly a cucuzza long. Planted two that had sprouted in that general vicinity in the garden and they died but there were at least two other seeds in the pot I replanted them from, so it could be them.

Tomatoes. Nearly every tomato in my garden right now, with the exception of a handful just sprouting out of pots, I have no idea what they are or where they came from. I had an entire pot shoot up with dozens of plants and I don’t remember planting them. So we will see what comes of them.

Eggplant or Tomatillo? Having never planted either, so I have no idea what the plants look like, I accidentally planted both in the same pots and mixed up dirt from multiple pots. So far am about 85% sure one is definitely a tomatillo. After that its a crap shoot.

Pepper, be it hot or sweet. This plant is the sole survivor of my trip home from my apartment. I know it is a pepper, that is about it. Came from a grocery store seed I had saved, but I don’t remember from what.

What I do know. I do know that I have soybeans, punterelle, arugula which I am letting go to seed right now, sorrel, basil, and fennel.

On the bottom right is another rogue tomato plant I just noticed.

I also have planted red new potatoes, fingerling potatoes, purple potatoes, borettana onions, and mini-watermelons that have yet to sprout yet, and a lot of wild mint and raspberries in my yard.

Potato flower.

Bait Stealers

Every fresh water angler has caught them. Most likely more of them than any other fish. Whether you call them sunnys or bluegills they have robbed more bait than the Hamburgeler. But I recently found out these little spiny pests taste pretty good. So screw trying to go for the big guys when these guys are more fun to catch anyway.

So I headed off to the Mianus this morning, early, to head out to the spot far up stream where I had caught many sunnys in the past. On the first cast they were hitting the bait. But my hook was a bit to large so it took a few more tries before I hooked one. For a little fish a fun fight. Way more exciting than the small walleye I was also catching.

After snagging three okay sized ones, the little fish would be a bitch to clean I knew, I decided to head back but before I did I would try another spot up river a little to try and catch something larger. After a few casts and no hits I saw something jump from the water. A few casts over its way still yielded nothing. So I had my last worm on the hook and decided to give it one more cast before heading home and what do you know, a hit, and something big. It was a trout! Most had been fished out of the river by now but this one was far enough up no one had fished it yet. After a short fight I got him within feet of the bank, but had no where to put him. I was standing at the bottom of a steep drop off and was barely keeping my own balance. But he made the decision for me and a foot from the shore jumped hook. A beautiful rainbow trout lost back to the river.

Once home after spending what seemed like forever scaling, cleaning, and filleting the small fish I cooked them in butter and olive oil and also wilted some lambsquarters then put it all on whole wheat bread with mayo for a sandwich. The fish were really good, a clean tasting white fish, and the lambsquarter added just enough flavor to not overpower the fish. Didn’t take a picture because it didn’t look like much, just a flat sandwich.