Search This Blog

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The food of my people: TACOS!!

Slow cooked pork tacos with fresh salsa and avocado

By Mango

People here sometimes mistake me for being Mexican or Hispanic. And not just any people. Mexicans and other Hispanics think I'm one of them. My Indian peeps, however, and most others, see me for what I am. A strange Indian person. Panda and I often joke that whenever we crave the food of my people, we go to our favorite taco place down the street. This would usually be the greeting from my always friendly Hispanic neighbors:

To Mango: Hola!!
To Panda, after pensive pause: H-E-L-L-O

So yesterday, I had the urge to make a crockpot dish, which is the best thing ever during the week, because you can make a big batch of food and you're set for a couple of days, if not longer. We had a giant pork chop in the freezer, a little smaller than the diameter of a dinner plate, and about 2 inches thick (Panda guestimates that it was about 2 pounds in weight). We also had one bunch of collard greens. Pork + collard greens = two things that are amazing when slow cooked. Perfect.

I apologize in advance, because this blog post doesn't have too many pictures except for the star of the dish - pork. I didn't plan on writing a blog but it turned out so delicious, that Panda said "FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY, WRITE A BLOG ABOUT THIS". Okay, not that dramatic, but close. The recipe I used is adapted from a "slow cooker Mexican pulled pork" recipe that I found online. I used their spice blend, but added the collards, a couple of other spices, and tweaked the quantities. This is what I used for the pork:

1 Tbsp chili powder (the type used to make American chili. Not the chile powder typically used in Indian dishes.)
1/4 Tbsp kosher salt
1/4 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 Tsp ground cumin
1/2 Tsp cayenne
1/2 Tsp smoked paprika
1 Tsp dried, crushed oregano
1/2 Tsp freshly ground pepper
A pinch of cinnamon

Note that any cut of pork will work so long as it has some fat to it - we just used a pork chop because we had it on hand.

Mix all of the above together in a bowl. Then rub and pat down the pork chop (make sure it is fairly dry first, use a paper towel to wipe off excess moisture) with a generous amount of this spice mix. You will end up with this:

Let the pork sit for at least an hour in the fridge or at a cool temperature. You will likely have some spice rub left over. Save this. In the mean time, slice a large yellow onion, smash 3 cloves of garlic, and wash and chop the collard greens. Also set aside 5 cloves.

After about an hour in the fridge, let the pork sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes. I honestly don't know if this matters much, given that it will slow cook overnight, but I did it anyway. Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet. Bring to high heat. Sear the pork on each side for about a minute, until you can smell the spices and see a nice brown on the seared pork. Once seared evenly, remove and place in the crockpot.

Add the sliced onions, collards, garlic, and a crumbled cube of chicken bouillon to the same pan that you just seared the pork in. Saute for about 5 minutes with the remaining spice rub. Add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and use this to deglaze any pork and spice bits and mix it all in with the onions, collards, and garlic. Transfer all of this to the crockpot. Throw in the 5 cloves, and add enough water to just barely cover the pork. Set the crockpot on low, and let it go overnight. The next morning, you will wake up to this:


The meat will fall apart easily with just a gentle tease of the fork. We had chunks of the pork on corn tortillas, topped with a simple tomato-red onion-thai chiles-cilantro salsa for a burst of freshness, and some sliced avocado for a little creaminess. The pork was magical. Melt-in-your-mouth, smokey, and a deep, gradual surge of warm flavor that can only come from low and slow cooking. I'm definitely saving this recipe and will use it again.

Panda: You do realize that this is just going to further convince people that you're really Mexican.
Mango: Si.  Uh, I mean, yes.
Panda: ......

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Mmm Burgers: The General Muir

by Panda

The General Muir, a Jewish deli, opened at Emory Point not long ago, and I heard that they were serving a great burger.  Todd Ginsberg, chef at the General Muir, used to run the kitchen at Bocado.  Bocado is very well known for their double stack, and so it only makes sense that Chef Ginsberg would want to have a burger at his new establishment as well.  While the two burgers are very similar, the burger at the General Muir has few tweaks that make it a different experience.

Inside the General Muir.
My friend Justin and I were here for the burger, but the fact that we were sitting in a Jewish deli was not lost on me.  I love Jewish delis - the bagels, the pastrami, the "shmears" - but in particular I love the pickles.

I thought that the pickles might have all been pickled the same way, but boy was I wrong.  Each pickle had a very unique character to it.  The first one we tried, the big dill pickle in the middle, was fermentation pickled, and it was a great example of your standard pickle done remarkably well.  The green tomatoes were unexpectedly sweet and spiced with clove.  The carrot pickles were sweet, sour and spicy.  The cauliflower had a bit of curry flavor to them.  The radish pickles were refreshing and a bit tart, and I could taste some anise in the cabbage.  You have to try these, especially if you like pickles.

And now on to the main event:

Knowing how good the Bocado burger is, I was expecting this burger to be great as well, and I was not disappointed.  The burger patties had a great crust on them from being seared on the flat top, and the cheese and pickles were great.  The "tweaks" I mentioned earlier come in the form of special sauce *cough*thousandislanddressing*cough* and a Holeman and Finch onion roll.  I have a soft spot in my heart for Big Macs, having eaten many of them as a kid, and this burger was like a Big Mac that had been elevated to a grander, loftier place.  The fries were also great, as I expected them to be - every bit as good as Bocado's.  Maybe a bit crisper in fact?

We finished the meal off with some dessert.  Justin opted for the rice pudding, which was bruleed with sugar.  Very good and highly recommended.

Again, being in a Jewish deli, I felt compelled to get something Jewish for dessert:

Behold the noodle kugel.  If you're not familiar with this dessert, the best way I can describe it is that it's like rice pudding made with noodles.  This was quite tasty, although the top was not as crunchy as I was hoping it would be - but that happens when something's been sitting in the fridge.  I think something like this would be fantastic if served warm and crisped up on the top a bit.  There were chunks of cinnamon laced sugar throughout the kugel, which was quite tasty.

I will be making a trip back here to try their other delicacies, although it'll be hard to keep away from the burger on my return trip.

Panda: *after leaving* I have stuffs for you!
Mango: :)

Monday, April 8, 2013

We're making fish sticks!!

By Mango 

WE CAVED *lowers head in shame*. Processed food made it into our bellies. BUT IT'S FISH STICKS!! When I was little, I went through a too-long-to-correctly-estimate phase, where my dinner every night had to be a fried egg (sunny side up, of course), with 2 fish sticks, and a dollop of ketchup. My mom would make sure some veggies made it in me (beets, to be exact, which still makes me barf. Blog for another time, perhaps), but I had to have those fish sticks. Panda also fondly remembers his fish stick binges as a child. Which also would have happened today, if I hadn't eaten my way through a pile of them first. 

So, before we share our grand recipe with you, what exactly is in a fish stick?

Evil fish stick ingredients.
Let's focus on those last 2 "ingredients", shall we? Sodium tripolyphosphate, according to the Googles, has applications in both detergents and food products. So, what you use to clean your underpants is quite possibly what you're eating. And TBHQ, in addition to food preservation applications, is also added to varnishes, lacquers, and the like. Both compounds are GRAS, or "generally recognized as safe", by the FDA. That's right. Generally. So yeah, we just ate that. AND IT WAS DELICIOUS.


1. Heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Remove fish sticks from bag. 
3. Place on tray. 
4. Place in pre-heated oven. 
5. Bake for 19 minutes.

Panda: I feel no shame in eating fish sticks.  It felt good, and it tasted good, and I would do it again.  I made a home made tartar sauce to go with it, so we did make something at least:

Bread and butter pickle chips, about 5 or 6
1 dill pickle spear (or 4-5 baby dill pickles as above)
1/4 red bell pepper
1/4 red onion (use shallot if you feel like being fancy)
1 heaping tbsp capers
1/2tbsp lemon juice
1/2tbsp bread and butter pickle brine
1c oil (use a neutral flavored oil, or olive oil if you like the flavor)
1 egg yolk
1tsp sugar
1tsp dry dill
Salt and pepper
A few healthy dashes of your favorite hot sauce

Mince the first 5 ingredients together.  Add sugar, salt, pepper, dill and hot sauce, mix together and set aside.  Add the lemon juice, brine, oil and egg yolk to a container (preferably something tall and not too wide).  Blend together with a stick blender until everything emulsifies (congratulations, you just made mayonnaise!)  Fold in the other ingredients, adjust seasoning to taste.  Stash this in the fridge to let it chill.

We also had a fresh salad with it. It was a really delicious dinner. Not one that we will have again (maybe in another decade), but it brought back happy memories. And everyone deserves a little cheat meal.  

Mango: Can I have more?
Panda: Sure.
Panda: *Comes back with a bouquet of fish sticks* For you my love.