Sunday, September 28, 2014

Tonight's Dinner: September 27, 2014

Tonight was another cemetery dinner with our family in the City.  Nick and I drove out to Colma to the cemetery where my grandparents are buried and then headed to Empero Taste for dinner.  Midway through the dinner, Nick started feeling ill.  He had been complaining that he felt strange after coming back from the shooting range in the morning, but chalked it up to being out of shape while doing their drills.   After a while he just didn't look well.  He went to sleep in the car with Emmy while I finished up dinner with my family.  It was pretty usual fair.  We've gone to this restaurant countless times over the last several years; probably since I started blogging back in 2006.  It was really salty tonight.  I really wanted the salt and pepper pork, but was only able to eat half a piece because it was so salty and I was too full to eat more rice to balance it out.  Maybe it was just an off night for them.  After dinner we headed home instead of going to my Grandma's for ice cream and got stuck in two hours of traffic.  We may as well have gone up to her house!  I thought people want to get into San Francisco on a Saturday night, not get out.

Fried fish

Pork belly

Pea sprouts

Stirfried broccoli with chicken

Sweet and sour pork

Fried calamari

Krispy chicken and shrimp chips

Glazed fish with fried tofu.

Chicken Hong Kong style chow mein.

Tonight's Dinner: September 24, 2014

Tonight I was still on a mission to use up the excess food from the BBQ.  When my family came over for our tester Spanish dinner we made one pound of chorizo so I figured for a larger party that I should get much more.  I bought five pounds of chorizo, which turned out to be way too much.  I think we only ended up cooking about half of it.  I wanted Nick to grill it with all of the other sausage that we didn't end up serving (that will be for another post), but he thought that it would fall apart.  He was probably right.  Instead, I broke up the chorizo and mixed it with the left over tomato soup.  I let it boil down and then put it over pasta.  Wa-lah!  I was able to use left over Potatas Bravas sauce for soup and then again for pasta sauce.  Is that gross?  It was boiled, so whatever.  It was all eaten and that's what I care about.  As much as we try not to waste, we always have a little bit of something to throw away at the end of the week.

I really, really like chorizo in pasta sauce now.  I think I'll be making a similar version on a regular basis.  Technically it's a meat sauce, but it definitely has a different flavor when you use chorizo.  I get it from our local Mexican market for around $3.25/lb. 

Tonight's Dinner: September 22, 2014

After our BBQ I was feeling a little run down and sick.  I had been fighting a cold all week and it finally caught up to me.  Nick took pretty much all of the leftover food (there was a ton) to the office for them to have a second feast.  There was no way that we would have been able to finish it all by ourselves.  Truth be told, we are getting a little tired of eating our faux Spanish food.

We had made two large containers of the Potatas Bravas tomato sauce so I asked Nick to leave one at home.  Since I wasn't feeling that great, Nick to pick up white bread and American cheese.  I really wanted tomato soup and grilled cheese. All I had to do was heat up the sauce and add some vegetable stock.  Nick is our resident grilled cheese maker so he made me one plain sandwich and one with grilled onions.  For himself he made a plain and one with a little bit of sliced Chateaubriand. Boy, did it hit the spot.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Tonight's Dinner: September 21, 2014

As you know, Nick and I were planning a Spanish inspired BBQ for his coworkers. I had my usual timeline all laid out for us.  I showed a coworker and he looked at me like I was crazy-cakes.  He even took a picture of it to send to his wife.  I'll admit, it is pretty OCD, but it works.  We have yet to serve dinner late when I use this system.

Turns out that some things took longer than I expected so Nick had to jump into my schedule sometimes to help me out.  I had planned to plate all of the cured meats that were on our menu on Saturday night, but there wasn't any room in our fridge to take them out of their compact packaging so I had to do it all the day of.  Laying out meats and cheese took up a little more time than I planned, but we still managed to get things ready in time.  It also took me a while to get my chalkboard writing in presentable condition.  The only major over sight in the schedule was that I didn't work in time for me to get ready.  By the time the first guest arrived I was running upstairs to get dressed.  Luckily, it was a friend who Nick hangs out with regularly so I didn't care as much that he saw my chorizo-greasy, makeupless face.

Chips and salsa
Mixed cured meat plate w/ cheese
Potatas Bravas
Serrano ham wrapped fruit
Tomato bread
Grilled sausage (this got cut from the list last minute)
Tuna Tartare
Green olives
Beef tenderloin
Chimichuri sauce
Grilled veggie salad
Roasted mushrooms
Shrimp and chorizo over cilantro rice
Red sangria
Izzi Pop

BBQ DayAllisonNick
10:00 AM
10:15 AM
10:30 AMClean bathroomsFinish cleaning
10:45 AM
11:00 AMWrap fruit
11:15 AMGrill and slice Veggies for salad
11:30 AM
11:45 AMPlate olivesBuffer
12:00 PMStart RiceLunch/ buy bagguettes
12:15 PM
12:30 PMLunch
12:45 PM
1:00 PMCut potatoesChop fish for Tartar
1:15 PM
1:30 PMMake tartarSlice and toast bread
1:45 PM
2:00 PMCook potatoesGrill and slice sausage
2:15 PM
2:30 PM
2:45 PMAssemble tomato breadPrep pismos
3:00 PMPut out prepped tapasGrill/cook Pismos
3:15 PMDress veggie salad
3:30 PMCook Chorizo and Shrimp
3:45 PMPut out Chips & Salsa/ Pismos rest
4:00 PMGuests ArriveGuests Arrive
4:15 PMGrill Portobellos
4:30 PMSlice meat
Pretty efficient, right?  You should see the Christmas schedule...

Now that I'm putting in all my pictures I realized that I don't have a full buffet picture or any pics of the sangria.  The sangria looked like normal sangria, so not missing much there, but I would have liked to have had time to take a picture of the full spread.  You can still get the idea of how much food we had though.  Nick pretty much brought in a whole second meal for everyone the next day for lunch. I had planned to have grilled sausage too, but Nick didn't think that we needed them.  He was right, of course.  He grilled them later and brought them into the office for everyone to have lunch.

This is the first time that I got to use my chalkboard armoire.  It worked out really well, but I need to work on my chalk writing skills.  I only had sidewalk chalk so I'm going to have to try to find some regular chalk for better control. 

Serrano ham wrapped honey dew.  These also took quite a bit of time to wrap up, but one of the guests commented on how good they were and thanked me for taking the time to individually wrap them.  Mission accomplished. 
Green Spanish Olives and pitted Kalamata Olives.

I got this awesome Spanish meats mix from Costco.  I don't know if it's a permanent thing, but they had both Spanish ham and cheese.  On top is Jamon, bottom left is Lomo, top right is chorizo, bottom right is Salchichon

The packaging on the top is what the cured meats came in.  I put it with the cheese as an after thought in case anyone wanted to hunt it down at their Costco.  I believe it was only around $12.00 and well worth the money.  I was also extremely pleased that they had Spanish cheeses.  

I made a tons of red potatas bravas sauce (forgot to take a picture), but usually the dish is served with a mayonnaise based sauce as well.  One of our guests doesn't like mayo, so we had it on the side as an option.  I just used about a cup of mayo mixed with a little bit of water to make it more viscous, grated garlic and dried oregano.  It was really quite tasty even though I don't care for mayo much myself.  

One of Nick's coworkers went deep sea fishing and caught a wild white tuna.  He vacuum sealed it and gave some to Nick.  Since he was coming to the party we thought it was a great time to make it.  We didn't think that there was enough tuna for the whole party so I got this piece of sushi grade wild tuna from a local grocery store.

We were originally going to make a tartare, but Nick didn't want to hack up the pretty fish so we made it poke style instead.  We ate quite a bit of tartar while we were in Spain. 

Even though this isn't Spanish style, I used Eric Ripert's Asian Tuna Tartare recipe because he's a world-class chef and rustworthy source.  To keep the fish cool, we filled a larger container with ice and set the plate of fish on top.  It worked out really well. 

Not accustomed to making huge pots of rice, the edge of my rice got a little toasty.  I used this for jook and was able to use the soft middle for the party.  The toastiness adds flavor. 

Grill vegetables with a balsamic-garlic dressing. 

Roasted mushrooms

Potatas Bravas.  We had the white and red sauces on the side. 

Garlic shrimp over chorizo. 

There was way too much on the other platter so Nick started a second platter just for the shrimp.

We did half the tomato bread with anchovies and half without.  Some people really liked the anchovies, but were calling them sardines.  

Chateaubriand served with chimichurri sauce (forgot to take a picture). 
By the end of the night I was exhausted.  Since it was a Sunday, everyone was gone by 9:30pm and I was sleeping by 10:00pm.  I was recovering from a cold and was just so tired afterwards.  Nick and I had planned ahead and gotten all disposable dishes and we only had to use a few of our regular serving platters.  It makes such a big difference in clean up when you can throw everything away. Normally, I would insist on our platters, but conceded because it's always tiring cleaning up a big party and then having to go to work the next day. Plastic is the way to go.  

Friday, September 19, 2014

Tonight's Dinner: September 18, 2014

Tonight I headed out to Costco to do our big shopping trip for Sunday’s BBQ.  By the time I got home and unpacked, our friend came over bearing deer and boar sausages that a friend of his had given him from a recent hunting trip.  He got rid of his grill, so he wanted to share with us and have Nick grill them up. While Nick grilled the sausage, I set to making a light garlic and shallot oil pasta dish.  I sautéed a whole head of garlic with one shallot and then added one small tomato and a couple of handfuls of baby spinach.  I tossed the spaghetti in the pot and once the sausage was done cooking we sliced it up and put it into the pasta.  The sausage was sooo good.  

Tonight's Dinner: September 17, 2014

I’ve been nagging Nick to get a new ceiling fan with a light installed in our living room since we moved in.  We had a ceiling fan, which is really nice to have, but it had no light attachment.  I hate sitting in dimly lit rooms.  I think this is mostly because my Mom always said to watch TV with the lights on, but also because my eyes are so poor that I have a really hard time seeing things when it’s not bright enough or there is transitioning light. For example, I can drive at night with no problem, but I have a really difficult time with depth perception during dawn and dusk.  This being the case, our large living room was dimly lit and I didn’t like sitting down there at night to watch TV.

After much debate on which style we wanted, we finally picked one on Amazon.  It came a couple days before our trip to Spain, but we didn’t have time to install it.  Subsequently, Nick wanted to wait for his cousin to finish the last leg of his Spain – Italy trip to help him install the light.   Three weeks since we got the ceiling fan, it’s finally installed.  Nick’s cousin came to help install the light and his sister came to have dinner with us.  Den was feeling how we were at the end of our trip and a little bit tired of heavy food, so I made chicken rice as a throwback to our Malaysia trip. 

I've been trying different recipes for Hainanese Chicken rice, but can't get it to taste nearly as good as the hawker stands in Singapore.  I think I'm missing a key ingredient of Pandan leaves, but I can't seem to find them when I need them.  Sometimes Ranch 99 will carry them, but those aren't the times I'm making Chicken Rice. Tonight I tried the Serious Eats version. I also started off with left over chicken stock (defrosted) from the previous adventure with Chicken Rice.  A just added some water to make more stock.  I used the left over stock to cook the rice also.  Once the rice was done cooking, I ladled in about another cup of hot chicken stock from the finished chicken.  The rice turned out really well, but the chicken was rather flavorless.  To go with the chicken, I made a stirfry of sugar snap peas and a salad with pickled shallots. 

Ginger Garlic dipping sauce.  Nick also made a brown sauce from soy sauce, Siracha, and sesame oil.

Ginger garlic sugar snap peas

Romaine salad loaded with pickled shallots and avocado.

Traditionally you use a whole chicken to make chicken rice, but I only had chicken quarters.

Tonight's Dinner: September 16, 2014

Tonight we had our second training session with Ally from Tailored Dog Training.  I am really kicking myself for not getting Emmy formal training sooner.  All the manners (good and bad) I taught her myself from Youtube and training books.  Ally has made such a huge difference already.  She basically  teaches us what to do and will leave us alone for a few weeks to implement the training.  Today we were working on reaffirming Emmy’s Stay command and not barking at the doorbell and running to the door.  Ally says that I sing the “Stay Song”, which is when I say over and over, stay, stay, stay until I finish what I’m doing.  We worked on just “Stay”.  I have to also break the habit of not saying it a bunch of times.  She picked that up quickly and now only moves when we say “release”.  As for the doorbell and knocking, I think it will take a little while to get that real life experience in with her, but we’re working on pretending to answer the door and talk to someone.  I sound like I’m off my rocker.

Me: Hi! How are you?
Deep voice me: I’m doing well.
Me: That’s good to hear.
Nick (inside the house): You sound crazy.

So, it’s a long process, but we’ll get there.  She’s already much better about people leaving the house from our first training session.  I’m just really glad that she is receptive to the training in her advanced age.  My thinking though is that if she can learn new bad habits, she can learn new good habits.

Since we knew that Ally was coming over, I threw a couple of turkey thighs in to the oven to bake with bell peppers and onion.  Nick ate it over leftover rice and I had mine with an avocado.  Nothing spectacular, but it filled our bellies.