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Tim Foolery

Home » 2012 » July (Page 2)

Monthly Archives: July 2012

What I’m Cooking…Pork Larb Lettuce Wraps

I never read the magazines, I subscribe to, when they arrive. I let them build up, hoarders style, and then read several months worth in one sitting.  The cooking magazines I get, I don’t keep. When I find an intriguing recipe, I just pull the page out and file it away. Once I make the recipe, I decide whether it deserves to make into my recipe box or it goes into the trash.

Last night I made a recipe from the August 2012 issue of Food and Wine called Pork Larb Lettuce Wraps. This recipe is from Salt Lake City chef Ryan Lowder.  I am not familiar with Ryan (nor have I done any research on him).  The one thing I did look up was the definition of Larb (a/k/a laab, laap, larp). Am I the only one who didn’t know what this is?  It is a Laotian (or northeastern Thai) meat salad.

I chose this recipe because it is hot and we are planning a trip to southeast Asia next spring. Plus, I never make Asian food at home.  Needed to try something new and this really fit the bill.

The recipe was very easy to make and had just a handful of ingredients – most of which were already in my pantry.  You can even make the larb early on then just reheat before dinner time (which is what I did).

So, the real question, what did we think of the recipe?  It was pretty damn good.  The recipe had only tiniest bit of spice – I was expecting it to have a nice little kick, but not so much.  I don’t use fish sauce all that much (read: never) but the sauce recipe was really mellow — not harsh at all (like the smell of the straight sauce).

Would I make this recipe again? Absolutely!  I would add a bit more spice/peppers to this recipe.  I couldn’t find thai chilies at my grocery so I used serrano peppers instead.  I would probably make a double batch of this recipe since you can easily re-heat this later in the week.  Instead of using the larb in a lettuce wrap twice in one week, you could stuff it in a pepper or even a nice sweet onion.

I made a Thai Pineapple Salad as a side with this as well — I will provide the recipe and a review of it later in the week.

Prepping tonight’s dinner.
Toasting the rice – which adds a great
smokey flavor to the larb.
Serving the Pork Larb with the Lettuce
to Wrap in the background

What did you have for dinner Sunday night?  Did you try a great new recipe?  To beat the heat, what part of the world do you look to: SE Asia? Africa? India? South America?  Do you use fish sauce more frequently than I do?

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The Power of Victoria Falls

It is a rainy day in Chicago today.  I hate walking to the bus in the rain. Each time I do, I think of my trip to Zimbabwe in March of 2011.  We visited Victoria Falls – we actually visited both sides of the Falls, the Zimbabwe side and the Zambian side.  I do really think the Zambian side was much prettier.
The video below is from the Zimbabwe side of the Falls and you can see the power of the Falls.  It wasn’t raining the day we visited the Falls but you can see the mist from the Falls “falling up” and utterly soaking us.  This is just one of the several great views of the Falls.

Have you been to Victoria Falls?  Which side did you like better: Zimbabwe or Zambia?  How did it compare to the worlds two other largest Falls (Iguazu and Niagara)?   Do you want to visit Victoria Falls? Well, South African Airways flies from their Johannesburg hub O.R. Tambo International Airport.

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Olympic Tickets Have Arrived!

On Monday, I received an unexpected overnight package: A small envelope containing my tickets to the Olympics!  I am attending the gold medal football (soccer) match at Wembley Stadium.  Two quick thoughts on the tickets:

  1. I was surprised that the tickets included tube passes  for the day of the match.  It makes perfect sense of course, keep people on public transit anyway possible. Although I can’t imagine many people attending would be driving to the events, would they?
  2. I was expecting the tickets to look a bit “cooler”. I was surprised that these tickets just look like regular old tickets to a Bulls game or the Super Bowl.  I just figured that Olympic tickets would  be a bit more elaborate.



Are you going to the Olympics in London? What events are you seeing? If not going, what events would you want to see?


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Grilled Pineapple with Gelato and Balsamic Glaze

The dessert from our Rendezvous Under the Stars class was a Grilled Pineapple with Gelato and Balsamic Glaze.  We actually didn’t make this dessert, Chef Michelle made it while we ate dinner.  The dessert looked pretty easy to make.

She started out by “topping and tailing” the pineapple.  Now that she had a flat stable surface we was able to cut the thick skin/rind off the pineapple.  Once the rind was removed, she sliced the pineapple into 1.5″-2″ slices.

The ingredients needed for this recipe are:

1 Pound Seasonal Fruit Prepared as needed (see above)
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon Orange Zest
Gelato
Cream of Balsamic
1/4 cup Unsalted Pistachios, Toasted and Rough Chopped

  1. Heat a gas or charcoal grill over medium heat.
  2. Toss the fruit with the olive oil and orange zest. Grill the cut side down until caramelized.
  3. Place the fruit in a bowl, top with a scoop of gelato, drizzle with cream of balsamic and top with a sprinkling of pistachios.
I have not hidden my love of the Chopping Block, in any sense, but I must say this is probably the worst recipe I’ve collected from them — not the worst dish, the worst recipe.  Maybe it is because we really didn’t participate in the making of this dessert or because the recipe isn’t all that clear.
I must say this dessert was fantastic.  The balsamic paired wonderfully with the caramelized pineapple and the gelato.  Sorry, TCB, but even the best can’t hit a home run every time at bat.
Chef Michelle showing us how to prepare
a pineapple for the grill.
A beautiful and amazingly tasty dessert.

What are your favorite fruits to grill?  Do you often grill your desserts?  Do you have a recipe that you love to use during the summer?

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Where I’m Eating…Jamieson Grille (Alexandria, VA)

I  was in the greater DC area for a few nights a couple weeks ago.  Based on wild hotel prices, I decided to stay at the Westin, in Alexandria.  There really wasn’t a whole lot of options in the area for food (within walking distance).  The first night in town, I decided to eat at the restaurant in the hotel, the Jamieson Grille.
I arrived late in the evening, around 21h30 and the restaurant was almost empty. I checked the menu and found a couple of options that looked good.  I asked my server which of the three items I was interested in was the best.  Which three items? Grilled Pork Chop, Grilled Ribeye Steak or Pan Seared Breast of Chicken. Without missing a beat the waiter suggested the pork chop. 
Grilled Pork Chop with smoked bacon
and gouda mashed potatoes, caramelized
onions and kale, jus

Thankfully this pork chop was served with a jus – otherwise it would have been as flavorless as eating a piece of paper.  The mashed potatoes were very good, but then again what isn’t great with gouda and bacon?  The pork was pretty tough too.  I’m still working to get my strength back in my right hand following my accident and I had a difficult time cutting this pork chop.

The server was very good. He always made sure I had everything I needed.  I didn’t tell him the chop was flavorless and tough.  He really did provide excellent service.

Would I return to Jamieson Grille? Only if I had to. If I arrived late at the hotel and didn’t want to leave, of course I would visit again.  Would I recommend the pork chop?  In a vacuum, no, I wouldn’t. Since the server was very quick to recommend, I wonder if this really was the best of the options I gave him — what do the other items taste like?

Have you been to Jamieson Grille before? What is your favorite menu item here?  When staying in Alexandria, where do you eat?

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