Friday, June 26

Sushi at Jerry-San's

Y'know, I usually post-date posts to reflect when the actual nommage occurred, but at this point, I'm so bleedin' late it doesn't really matter. In fact, I haven't posted anything worthwhile in ages. I have only myself to blame, folks, and I do apologize. I just haven't been doing anything interesting in a while, and it's reflecting itself in my food.

But enough excuses. To the sushi!

Jerry-San's has been a family tradition ever since Kuya found it some seven-odd years ago. I really can't remember how long it's been, but I remember I still had ideals and morals, so it had to have been a while. Fact is, this place is fresh. Every time you go, there's always at least one or two cuts of fish that just taste like butter. Everything else is fantastic, but you just catch that one piece of fatty tuna and black out with joy.

Anyway, enough babbling. You'll have to forgive the poor quality of the photos - I managed to forget ma petit amie's camera for the excursion, so I had to go back to just using my phone.

We opened, as we always did, with the delectable and irreplacable crunchy spicy tuna hand roll.

It's like a fishy ice cream cone. It's sweet, it's spicy, it's got that crumbly crunch that comes from the tempura flakes... I could seriously eat these all day, every day. They're just so damned addictive.

Next up was some clam thing he always makes for us...

And a little somethin' extra he made for Kuya and I.

Hee! Wasabi tobiko with a quail egg. A perfect little palate cleanser, snacky enough for us to enjoy while he set up our next course:

Mmmmm. Sashimi. Left to right, that's salmon, yellowtail, regular tuna, and scallops with lemon slices. Everything was fantastic - the salmon was deliciously fatty, the scallops go great with that nip of citrus, and the yellowtail just melted on the tongue. I love tuna, so I'll spare you the description of nomming on those luscious hunks of fish.

And while we took our time chewing on the sashimi, we chatted with each other and Jerry, catching up on former sous chefs, the opening of his new location... it was nice, especially since we all got spider rolls out of it, too.

I've always got a soft spot for tempura crab, especially in family situations. Probably because it was mom's favorite roll, and I like to think we honor her when we get them at Jerry's.

We were coming up on the end of the meal. Seeing as how it was my birthday, I knew I wasn't getting away without dessert, but before I did...

Just one more crunchy spicy tuna hand roll. For the road. Before the tempura cheesecake.

Happy birthday to me! Mind you, after this delicious wad of creamy, crispy sweetness came four sake bombs in quick succession. I think Ku's got all the pictures of that. I'd have to say, this decade is starting out right.

Cheers, guys! I'll catch you 'round. Stay good in the meantime.

Wednesday, June 17

Happy Birthday To Me!

I've got a post on standby about the wonderful sushi I had last weekend (Thanks, Kuya, Ange, Tita and Tatay!), but for now, you'll have to suffice with my breakfast.

Mmm. That there's an egg fried in bacon fat on top of a crusty fried pork chop, sitting on top of a slice of really dark German wheat toast. Fancy? No. But it did put me in a hell of a mood, especially with that mug o' coffee.

Cheers, guys! I'll catch up with you later.

P.S. My other option for breakfast was chocolate cake.

Wednesday, June 10

Lasagna Rolls

Sorry about the radio silence there. Life n'at.

Anyways, there I am on the couch, looking at an Olive Garden commercial for their rollatini -- basically a large pasta noodle rolled around a delicious filling of some kind. I took one look at this and thought, "This can't be that difficult, or too far removed from stuffed shells."

Since I don't have the flat noodle rolling attachment for my Kitchenaid (owing to the fact that it's $300) I had to go with a noodle that starts large and flat: lasagna. Start by measuring the width of the lasagna, and forming "bullets" from bulk Italian sausage. Cook those through, and get some browning on them for good measure.

Cut your cooked lasagna noodles in half, and spoon a little ricotta in the middle.

Lay one of your sausage bullets on the ricotta, then top it off with more ricotta.

Carefully roll the entire thing up and lay seam side down in a casserole.

Lay on your favorite tomato sauce. I don't think I have enough here in this picture.

Bake at 350. I'm not sure how long. 30 minutes should be enough to warm the entire thing through. I also missed the opportunity to layer on some mozzarella or parmesan.

Still comes out pretty well. Serve in a bowl.

They're a little less structurally sound than a stuffed shell, but definitely cheaper and probably better for you than what you'd get at Olive Garden anyways. I mean, it's not like I don't just go in there starving, order the soup and breadsticks, and ignore the salad.

Monday, June 8

More Assembly Foods

I know, I know. I've been slacking. It's been a week. But seriously, I've been having difficulty being culinarily creative lately, in part due to my severe Mass Effect addiction. Ever since Mass Effect 2 has been announced, I've been on a mission to make sure the characters I port over into the next installment of galactic drama are friggin' perfect. As a result, I've been sticking to the basics. I mean, yes, beer-brined pork chops with roasted potatoes are delicious, but who wants to watch me make them?

But enough about my nerdish addictions. I've been thinking lately about presentation, how we eat with our eyes first. And I realized that in the course of making food, there are times where the product looks awful. Today, I will study one such food: the pizza roll/stromboli/stuffed bread. Someone should get around to standardizing the term for this thing.

Has anyone out there actually gotten the Pillsbury Pizza Crust in a can? it looks pretty nasty. All off-white and sticky and rectangular. I tried rolling it into a sphere once, so I could reshape it into a disc. I failed miserably. However, the rectangular shape is ideal for what we need it for today. Though really, if you get the chance to make your own dough or pick up a ball from your local pizzaria, go for it. Pillsbury ain't bad, but I imagine anything else would be better - I'm just lazy today. Here, I have the dough stretched out in some sort of mishappen quadrangle.

Note the dollar for size reference. It's surprisingly large, this hunk of gooish dough. This is what I'm talking about in terms of appearances. This is kind of gross. Basic, but gross.

The assembly process isn't hard from here.

I just layered cheese, sopressata, spinach, and capricola on top of the dough, taking the time to squish down the spinach as I did. After all, the spinach was going to lose moisture and shrink as it cooked, so we want to minimize that. Yes, I could have avoided that by wilting the spinach down before I put the layer down, but what do I look like, a guy that isn't lazy? Anyway. At this point, all the layers actually look pretty on top of that pallid palate of pizza dough. But it's not hard to go from this:

(Ooo. More fontina!)

To this:

Again, with the dollar for size reference. Tell me that doesn't look like a palette-swapped dinosaur turd covered in parmesan. It's that weird, football-on-a-pasta-binge look to it that's less than appealing. It doesn't even look good when it's done cooking.

Bleah. No, this is not a visually appealing dish... until you cut it open.

Take a look at that. That's all cured meat and spinach and cheesy goodness, all rolled up in an easy-to-eat crust. So let that be a lesson to you.

Okay, so I'm not really sure where I'm going with that. Ugly food is tasty food, too! Now leave me alone, I have a headache.

Monday, June 1

Why I Do What I Do - The Steak and Egg Breakfast Wrap

I'll admit, I've been kind of slacking lately when it comes to the blog. But to be honest, I really haven't been making anything interesting lately. I mean, heck, I was going to post something yesterday about putting peanut butter on an Entenmann's chocolate-covered donut hole.

Delicious, yes, but not exactly worthy of its own post. I mean, what can I say about it? "PEANUT BUTTER ON DONUT NOM NOM NOM" isn't particularly compelling food writing.

That's all part of the problem, I suppose. In the last few weeks, I've been doing construction work - putting together sandwiches and wraps rather than actively cooking remotely complicated dishes. But there's something of value to talk about there, too. Take my breakfast, for example - a steak and egg wrap isn't really complicated, but there are bits and pieces that bear explanation.

Let's start with the choice of steak. Me, I went with skirt.

There's a reason skirt steak is generally viewed as the steak of choice when it comes to fajitas and other such wrap-like applications. Since it's so thin, it takes to marinades very well (mine consisted of teriyaki, Worcestershire, red wine vinegar, honey, Sriracha, and a dash of garlic powder) and cooks remarkably quickly (2:30 on each side on a 400+ degree skillet). The flavor is quite beefy, while the fat marbling and quick-melting connective tissue lead to a very toothsome, yet delicate texture. And since the grain of the meat goes side to side, it's ridiculously easy to cut it across the grain, leading to shorter meat fibers and therefore more tender mouth feel.

Amongst beef cuts, this quality is bested only by the tenderloin's similar grain pattern. But tenderloin's also generally three times as expensive as skirt, so I call whatevs on this one.

One of my biggest problems when it comes to creating wraps is estimating how much filler I need. Filler is that ingredient that provides bulk and texture to the wrap while offering little in the way of flavor. It tempers the more flavorful elements of the wrap, spreading it out across the breadth of the construct while simultaneously filling the stomach. It can be anything from rice to lettuce; in this case, it's fries. Why fries? Because whenever I order steak and eggs at a diner, I always swap out the home fries for fries fries. I like crunchy things.

But I digress. As I was saying, I always overshoot when it comes to the filler, which inevitably leads to overstuffing the wrap. In the end, I'm always stuck with a gigantic half-wrapped monstrosity that I can barely cram into my mouth (that's what she said), and that's never fun to eat.

The solution? Measure out your fries before you cook 'em.

Ta da! Perfect. No muss, no fuss. Into the fryer with 'em.

It's time to put the wrap together. First up, the steak.

Natural instinct would be to lay the steak out vertically, right? More visually appealing, easier to figure out the breadth of the wrap. So why am I laying the steak strips horizontally? The answer comes from thousands of frustrating steak wraps before. I'd bite down, and, no matter the tenderness of the steak, I'd wind up pulling away with an entire chunk of meat. This, of course, would mean the next few bites would be sadly meatless. By laying the steak out horizontally, each piece gets pulled away by each bite - no more struggling to tear off with each chomp.

Next on would be the fries.

Why put them on top of the steak, and not the other way around? The answer here is easy - the fries are sharp and pointy. The layer of steak under them keeps them from poking through the wrap itself. Nothing's sadder than a sandwich or wrap with poor structural integrity.

And finally, the egg.

Why over easy rather than sunny side? Here, we're using the pokiness of the fries to our advantage. The fries will pierce the yolk, freeing the yolky goodness into the interior of the wrap, where it can be soaked up by the potatoey fries rather than run down the inside of the wrap itself. Even distribution of the yolk is key, since it's effectively the sauce. And since the side facing up has seen the majority of the heat, it's just tough enough to shield that side of the wrap from the wicked spears of crispy potato.

The end result is a delight to eat. The fries capture and hold the yolk, preventing it from running out the bottom of the wrap, while each bite delivers a careful balance of steak, egg, and potato. Because that's how we do. Don't just be delicious when it comes to your eats, folks. Be smart about it, too.