Saturday, March 26, 2011


You haven't heard from me in a while. Sorry about that. Life has been hectic, as usual, but more so. The highlight of the last couple of weeks was five glorious days in [mostly] sunny Puertro Rico visiting family and laying around doing absolutely nothing (oh, and kayaking in the ocean and hiking in the rainforest). When I wasn't doing absolutely nothing I was eating delicious food. Why am I bothering to write about this? I know Puerto Rico's part of the US, but except for the money and USPS infrastructure, it feels almost like a foreign country. Everyone's speaking Spanish, the driving is...special, and they have some great food. I got to try some greasy beach food and pina coladas on the coast, and my cousin Karl let me help make Puerto Rican style rice and beans while my Aunt Sandra made chicken with rice. I'll give the best recipes I can, but we didn't really measure anything so it will all be approximate. Make it however you want - it'll still be good. Pictures are after the jump as well.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cooking emergency

As many of you may have heard, my refrigerator broke over the weekend. When you stockpile enough food to feed an army at any given moment, as I do, this is a PROBLEM. Fortunately, with a lot of damage control (giant bag of ice in the freezer, my landlords inexplicably keep a mini fridge running on the back porch) it was not a tragedy. I got it back up and running on Monday (not fixed, but running and, more importantly, cooling), but while I didn't lose much, the vast quantities of meat in my freezer were thawed, meaning they needed to be cooked right away.

If I hadn't been so overwhelmed by the amount and variety of meat to cook in such a short time, this would have been an excellent opportunity to do something crazy for this blog. But I just didn't have the time or mental energy to put together a cohesive meal or find any exotic ingredients. So why are you telling us this, you ask. Well, it was kind of funny. Except for some [delicious, thanks to Kenny] barbecued country-style boneless ribs and a vat of chicken stock, nothing I made was 100% American. Peruvian-style chicken kebabs, Hungarian goulash, osso bucco, pork chops with Senegalese onion-mustard sauce, carnitas, and dijon-garlic chicken. None of it except for maybe the carnitas was necessarily authentic (Peruvian chicken is supposed to be rotisserie, the pork chops were supposed to be lamb, I didn't have the fresh ingredients to finish the osso bucco, etc.), but it was all delicious and made almost entirely from ingredients I had on hand (Kenny brought rib supplies, skewers, and sides to grill). My major goal in starting this blog was to become a better, more versatile cook, and there's no way I could have hacked such a diverse smorgasbord last summer without obsessing over every recipe and buying a lot of stuff. So I'm feeling pretty good about the whole thing.

If anyone wants recipes, I'll provide them where I can (or at least give you an idea of what I threw into the marinade). But I hope this will inspire you to pick a flavor or cuisine you enjoy and wing it yourself! I'd love to hear how it goes.

Friday, March 4, 2011


Bulgarian food seems to be pretty generic Mediterranean food, so when I found a couple of recipes in the Barbecue Bible that were supposed to be pretty stereotypically and even uniquely Bulgarian, I jumped at them. It helped that they were simple. One was a tomato and feta salad. It was pretty delicious, but I would say that lessons were learned. Kenny, who gave me the Barbecue Bible, loves to grill (I say he's a master, he says he's a hack) so we decided to grill as much as possible. Afterward, we decided that grilling the tomatoes had been a mistake (it compromised their structural integrity more than I would say is ideal), but if I do it again I should grill the onions too. I used the Greek-style feta in brine from Trader Joe's and oh my goodness was it good. Creamy, just like I remember it being in Athens (although I'm pretty sure Molly will say that marinating it in oil is the only way to go). We also made kufteh, or Bulgarian meatballs. Only the Bulgarian way is to make them more like burgers, but we ate them plain. Kenny liked them much more than I did; he was thrilled to take the leftovers home. All in all, a solid meal, but maybe not stuff I'd make again.