pork in my belly!

•May 17, 2010 • 2 Comments

houston bacon takedown

the 1st bacon takedown has commenced and it was such a great event! a special thanks to coordinator matt timms and to hormel for the bacon of course and to warehouse live for hosting.

adam signed up for the event first, then i got a little competitive and signed up to compete too. lastly, linda, a friend of ours wanted to help, so she joined forces with adam.

linda & adam experimented with a few options, even practiced on a very delicious bacon bahn mi! their final recipe proved to be a winner, bacon lolipops! carmelized bacon with garlic & red pepper wrapped around a piece of granny smith apple, held together with a lolipop stick.  they won judge’s choice for ‘sweet tooth’ 🙂

i tested a few dishes last week and had a very solid bacon cheese soup. i was really happy with the recipe, but day of, it didn’t turn out exactly as planned, still good, but not a winner. not to mention one pot burned beyond recovery, so i ran a little short and couldn’t serve the last 25 people or so. 😦

VERY fun event, lots of cool people, great turn out and amazing food. more pictures to come from the nikon, but here’s a preview.

there were 20 dishes, here a sample of the line up:

  • bacon crusted pork loin
  • double happiness cacon pot dtickers
  • pork belly burritos and bacon boxes
  • bacon avocado tartlets with bacon brittle
  • bacon jam & ravioli

a sample of the dishes at the houston bacon takedownline of contestants

bacon takedown certificate of completionhungry in houston and matt timms

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a grocery store rant : why i wont go to randalls ever again

•May 15, 2010 • 3 Comments

for starters, i have not been a fan of randalls for quite some time. but tonight, they crossed the line. no more randalls, EVER.

heb is by far my favorite shopping experience, however, there unfortunately happens to be a randalls right outside my neighborhood so they are often the convenience run if i need a few items.

reasons why i do not enjoy shopping at randalls:

  • they never staff enough people so there are always 1 or 2 lanes open, maybe 3 in peak hours (if you’re lucky). this means each lane is always 4 – 5 deep.
  • they are expensive. compare the prices, its the truth.
  • horrible customer service
  • limited selection they don’t carry boar’s head or breakstone’s, for example

so, what happened tonight that really did it for me?

adam and i are competing in a bacon takedown this weekend, and had been given FREE vouchers from the event coordinator to pick up our bacon that we are to use for the competition. these  vouchers can be used at any grocery store. this is a charitable event sponsored by hormel. the coupon is good up to $4.49, but of course, because randalls’ prices are high, their packages were $5.69 – so this would mean, that each of my FREE bacon packages would still cost me $1.20. OK, i could live with that. i picked up what they had…19 packages, along with some other items i needed (coffee, creamer, veggies, etc.).

i made it to the front and there were 2 lanes, 1 express and 1 regular. there were 3 people in each line. i was not surprised. i got in line prepared to wait, grabbed a gossip magazine and read.

10 minutes later – ok, checkout time. the clerk was friendly. she rang me up and i handed her my coupons. “oh, we arent taking any more ‘free’ coupons, manufacturers havent been redeeming them. i will have to ask my manager.” I say, “ok, no problem, i am in a hormel sponsored cooking competion, they gave us these vouchers to get our bacon, i’m sure its fine.” manager comes over, looks at the coupon and says the has to ask HER manager. oh boy, here we go.

she came back 5 minutes later. “i’m sorry, we can’t take these, we aren’t taking any free coupons anymore”.

i honestly couldn’t believe it. they started to void the bacon and i said forget it, i wasn’t about to spend another dime at this store. i refuse to give my money to such a poor quality company. no matter how much of a hurry i am in, no matter how far the next store is, i will NOT be going to randalls ever again.

i hope all that ‘FREE’ bacon was worth losing a customer. i went to food town and they gladly accepted my coupons. and wished me good luck at the competition. 🙂

tokyo beer from brewdog – review

•May 9, 2010 • Leave a Comment

12 ounces
13 dollars
18.2%

tokyo beer by brewdog

tokyo beer. it seems proper that I try this given the recent trip in Japan. i saw this bottle and although expensive, it called to me. Not only because it is called tokyo, but because of the description on the bottle. check it up:

“This is a beer inspired by a 1980’s space invaders game played in Japan’s capital.

“The irony of existentialism, the parody of being and the inherent contradictions of post-modernism, all so delicately conveyed by the blocky, pixelated arcade action have all been painstakingly recreated in this bottles contents.

“This imperial stout is brewed with copious amounts of speciality malts, jasmine and cranberries. After fermentation we then dry-hop this killer stout with a bucketload of our favourite hops before carefully ageing the beer on French toasted oak chips.

“It is all about moderation. Everything in moderation, including moderation itself. What logically follows is that you must, from time, have excess. This beer is for those times.”

large sign from taito station showing a space invaders character from Tokyo

my bottle says “tokio” (which, to me, would seem to be the correct spelling). the rest of the web, including brewdogs site, calls it tokyo…

i just opened this brew. it has been in the fridge all day. i’m about to take a sip. let me share my experience with you.

first reaction: very bold and hoppy. sweet and strong. top shelf quality.

the flavor should change as it begins to warm.

very reminiscent of Sam Adams Triple Bock but hints of a fine port.

stef tried – we will just say this is a manly beer.

this beer as character, it has personality, i even think it has a degree from MIT.

i don’t know how it has Space Invaders inside it, but I am realizing I am getting quite jacked up as I continue to drink and write.

a few sips from the bottle – now I am going to pour the rest in a wide mouth rim glass. due to the complexity of this brew, it does change the taste. I would recommend drinking it this way – but at the same time, it has also probably warmed by 10 degrees.

final assessment. this is quality. this is complexity. this is a damn good beer. sure one bottle costs as much as a typical 12 pack, but you can’t drink a 12 pack of very fine wine. you will only need and want one of these.

as a beer fan, as a retro video game fan, as a food blogger – this beer is at the top of my list. if you are a true beer connoisseur, you will find this a true delight. if you find yourself with a bud light far too often, stick with that – as one of my favorite brewer’s would say, “you are not worthy”

stay thirsty, houston and enjoy a Tokyo from BrewDog.

adam

fish galore! japan’s tsukiji fish market

•May 4, 2010 • 2 Comments

the tsukiji fish market and fresh sushi joints nearby was the #1 thing on my japan to-do list. so the 2nd day in tokyo, we jumped on the oedo metro line and headed that way. tsukiji is the largest wholesale fish & seafood market in the world! they sell 2,000 tons of seafood a day and make over $5.5 billion a year. the market is famous for the early morning (4am!) tuna auction, but unfortunately due to too many visitors, they close this from the public during peak vacation times.

being the huge foodie that i am i couldn’t wait to scour the aisles and admire all of the different kinds of seafood. there are 2 different sections, the inner market and outer market. the inner market is where most of the seafood is and where the processing takes place. then you typically head towards the outer market, for seafood that has already been packaged, and FRESH sushi joints. I couldn’t wait to have a sushi breakfast after admiring all the amazing fish.

here’s what we saw…

buckets of fresh seafood in tokyo

clams, eel, sea cucumber, fish, sardines, sea slugs, shrimp – you name it!

a bucket of fresh octopus, japan

fresh bright red octopus

a big slab of tuna being packaged tokyo

there were some enormous pieces of tuna being prepared and packaged for sale. i don’t think the picture does it justice but this was a huge piece.

pieces of flash frozen tuna for shipping tokyo

the pieces that need to be shipped and are not going to be sold right away are immediately flash frozen and put into trucks packaged in between huge blocks of ice. this was really cool to watch.

after a great walk around the market i was really hungry for some sushi! that’s the great thing about japan, they eat sushi for breakfast – well, and any other time of the day really. i need to move here. we stumbled upon a VERY good shop. one thing to never forget – DO NOT DIP RICE IN SOY SAUCE, EVER!. pick nigiri up with your fingers, turn it over to fish side and dip that side slightly into the sauce. enjoy!!

chef preparing sushi in tokyo near tsukiji fish market

different types of tuna nigiri and a tuna roll tokyo

this is what i ordered. i am a tuna junkie. (special tuna plate – assortment of different types of tuna, and a tuna roll.)

assortment of fine nigiri and a big piece of eel

this was what adam got – the fine nigiri plate. yellowtail, tuna, snapper, omelet, shrimp, roe the biggest piece of eel ever & tuna roll.

the fish market is a must see for foodies & non-foodies! very interesting and very delicious!

stay hungry,

stef

Houston Taco Run

•March 28, 2010 • 5 Comments

hola. uno mas cervesa, por favor. and that’s about all I know. but, with one exception, my mexican amigos know how to cook. taco’s make the world go round. stef just got done with a 10K race and we thought we could finish it off with a great houston taco run. like the 10K, this means running… running to every taco stand, hole in the wall, taqueria, anything we could find in our vicinity. unfolding before you is the great “houston taco-capade”. you know that dr. suess book, “the places you will go”… maybe this is what he wrote about….ok maybe not, but these are some damn good tacos.

jarro cafe tacos

Stop 1 – taqueria cancun
really good taco’s
taqueria cancun tacosdam brower at taqueria cancuntaqueria cancun

Stop 2 – Jarro cafe
Jarro is about flavor. their meat, their hot sauce. they differentiate themselves from the rest by bringing something unique. i would say they raised it up a level – gourmet style. you HAVE to visit this place. the green sauce is for professionals only, so watch out!
jarro cafe wonderful saucesjarro cafe taco standjarro cafe tacos

Stop 3 – Nortenita market
what a fun place. meat market, mexican grocer items, and food ready for you. an experience you have to take part of. I shopped and dined – and was not disappointed (REAL mexican cokes — HELLO!!). love this place.
Nortenita market shoppingnortenita tacosadam brower drinking a mexican drink

Stop 4 – La Balita : Con Sabora Mexico
la balitala balita tacosla balita tacos

ok. something magical happened here. green sauce, tacos, everything. if you want to go to a popular local restaurant chain with a Pappa in it, you will not get the the satisfaction as you would here. at that other place with the pappa, you will pay 3 times more, get less service, and mediocre food. go to this “unknown” and get everything you ever wanted. stef has feverishly been researching how to re-create this green sauce, its not a tomatilla. its an avocado and sour cream thing we are trying to perfect.

to break it down, I would prioritize accordingly:

1 – Jarro Cafe – unique and bold flavors
2 – La Balita – wonderful authentic food
3 – Nortenita Market – shop and eat – all is good
4 – Taqueria Cancun – good food, its only last because they didn’t have anything truly unique for me. I still recommend.

happy taco hunting.

stay hungry houston, and let me know if you find the great taco place.
mine for now – first on the list is Jarro – GO!

-adam

and for more taco fun, visit Jay – http://www.gunsandtacos.com/

cajun crawfish boil

•March 17, 2010 • 4 Comments

christmas comes but once a year to every girl and boy.  we all have a favorite season we wait all year, every year, for a cherished annual event to take place.  it is almost spring in houston.  the temps reach 70, the tree’s are blooming, spring training baseball travels through the air from your AM radio.  it is my favorite time of year – and this time of year means crawfish season!  i will show you how to purge crawfish and how to boil crawfish in this hilarious video with some catchy cajun music.  of course we have beer, humor, and lots of spice!

view the hi-res version of cajun crawfish boil from Hungry in Houston on Vimeo.

cajun crawfish boil with corn and potato

stay hungry, houston!

-Adam

homemade sushi, lights out!

•March 13, 2010 • 4 Comments

if anyone knows me they know i love sushi! but eating sushi out can begin to rackup, making it at home is much cheaper – and makes for SUCH a fun evening.

here’s what you do:

first, stop by your local japanese market and pick up some fresh pieces of sashimi. i go to nippon daido, at wilcrest and westheimer. i picked up a slurry of different pieces:

  • tuna
  • salmon
  • super white tuna
  • yellow tail
  • fluke (a white fish similar to flounder)

i purchased about 5oz of each kind. for the additional toppings, there is nothing specific, just get some things that you like. for this i used:

  • avocado
  • philadelphia cream cheese
  • cucumber
  • scallions
  • pepadew
  • yellow bell pepper
  • steamed asparagus and squash
  • jalapeno

then, for wrapping the sushi, watch a quick little tutorial video here. you will need bamboo mats, nori (seaweed paper) and soy paper (this is optional, but i like to mix).

next big thing is perfecting the sushi rice. basically, its white rice with a sugary/rice wine vinegar paste that you spread throughout.

sugar, salt and rice vinegar for sushi rice melting sugar with rice vinegar for sushi rice mix the sugar and vinegar mixture with the white rice

last, before assembling the rolls, i get the wasabi and spicy mayo ready. you can buy wasabi powder at the asian markets. you mix this with water until you get a gummy consistency.

wasabi powder and water wasabi paste sriracha and hellman's mayonnaise to make spice mayo

now everything is set up, let’s roll…no pun intended.

homemade sushi rolls supplies

OH NO, all the sudden the lights in the neighborhood go out. SERIOUSLY?!? looks like its sushi by candlelight….

sushi by candlelight

now for the rolls! be creative here, use what you like and what sounds good. here is what we created:

roll #1, fluked up on dew: jalapeno, pepadew, cream cheese, avocado and tuna on the inside w/ avocado, fluke and salmon on the outside. wrapped with nori.

roll #1, fluked up on dew: jalapeno, pepadew, cream cheese, avocado and tuna on the inside w/ avocado, fluke and salmon on the outside. wrapped with nori.

roll #2, spicy sea monster: scallions, orange bell pepper, jalapeno, asparagus, fluke and salmon wrapped in soy paper and topped with spicy mayo

Spicy Sea Monster salmon fluke jalapeno avocado wrapped in soy paper and topped with spicy mayo

roll #3, sushi taco: orange bell pepper, cream cheese, jalapeno, peppadew, scallions, mandarin juice, mayo, yellowtail wrapped in soy paper. sesame, cucumber, jalapeno and tuna on the outside.

roll #3, sushi taco: orange bell pepper, cream cheese, jalapeno, peppadew, scallions, mandarin juice, mayo, yellowtail wrapped in soy paper. sesame, cucumber, jalapeno and tuna on the outside.

roll #4, it came from the water: avocado, squash, scallion, mayo, yellowtail, salmon wrapped in nori. topped with avocado, white fish and cucumber.

roll #4, it came from the water: avocado, squash, scallion, mayo, yellowtail, salmon wrapped in nori. topped with avocado, white fish and cucumber.

making sushi may seem like a big process, but its so fun and totally creative. i really think the secret is in the sticky rice – its a MUST. if you feel uncomfortable, just watch a few videos and get up to speed on the rolling technique, you’ll get it. and if you don’t, you’ll have a fun night trying.

enjoy!

stefanie