Archive for August, 2007|Monthly archive page

Tofu’s Perfect Match

Tofu Fest

This is probably one of those “only in LA” festivals but it’s a yearly thing here on the west coast.

I’ve seen posters all over town and it’s finally embedded in my head. Their posters and the whole Tofu Fest campaign is pretty clever. Head over to tofufest.org to help find tofu’s perfect match.

As for the festival itself, here’s what you need to know.

The 12th Annual Los Angeles Tofu Festival will take place on August 18, 12pm – 8 pm and August 19, 12 pm – 6 pm. General admission is $5, kids and seniors are free, and there’s a $2 off coupon here. Proceeds go to charity.

Festival Grounds are located at 237 S. San Pedro Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013 on San Pedro and 2nd.

Attractions include:

Beer, Wine & Sake Garden: A selection of sake and beer is served in a sectioned off portion of Tofu Fest, supplementing Little Tokyo’s own beer gardens and Nisei Week’s attractions. The sale of alcohol was under debate by the festival’s committee in 1994 in regards to making the festival more family friendly.

Celebrity Chefs: Famous chefs exhibit their craft on a cooking platform, with fair goers getting the chance to taste dishes from the demonstrations. Masaharu Morimoto of Iron Chef is a recurring guest, appearing in last year’s 2006 festival.

Children’s Pavilion: Children were previously given an additional area to enjoy the festival, as parts of the festival, like the alcohol garden, were unsuitable. However, as of 2006, Children’s Pavilion is no longer a featured event.

Entertainment Stage: Bands and artists appear live at the festival, ranging from instrumental groups, such as taiko and orchestra, to hip hop groups like Blackalicious.

Tofu Eating Contest: The tofu eating contest is a race to eat a 14-ounce block of tofu in the shortest amount of time. Several elimination rounds are held before the final battle and winner’s ceremony, where a prize is given to the winner on the entertainment stage.

And if you’re interested in the Tofu Eating Contest it will be held on Saturday, August 18th at 4pm. Here are the rules:

  • Contestants will be required to eat a 14 ounce block of House Foods Medium Firm Tofu.
  • Festival Judges will be judging the Tofu Eating contest. Contestants agree to abide by the Festival Judges’ decision. Festival Judges’ decisions are final.
  • Contestants will not be able to use their hands during the contest to eat the tofu.
  • There will be 10 contestants competing in each round with a total of 5 preliminary rounds. The first 2 contestants to eat the entire block of tofu will advance to the Final Round.
  • The first contestant to eat the entire block of tofu in the Final Round will win the Grand Prize
  • The second and third place winners of the Final Round will receive also receive prizes
  • In order for a contestant to completely finish the block of tofu, he/she must have swallowed the last mouth full of tofu as decided by the Festival Judges.
  • Contestants must be at least 18 years old.
  • Contest Rules are subject to change without notice.

Info seen here was collect from the Tofu Festival site as well as Wikipedia.

Watermelon Steak

Watermelon Steak

As you may have read on an earlier post (scroll down a few posts) certain steak cuts are becoming sparse, as prices are rising and availability is decreasing.

Maybe steakhouses should take note of this recipe and add watermelon steak to their menus.

I saw this on the Boston Globe’s food section and did some investigating.

Turns out watermelon steak is a dish served at 51 Lincoln in Boston. It’s been on the menu for some time now and gets rave reviews.

Chef and owner Jeffrey Fournier adds a confit of tomatoes, eggplant chicharrones, and French feta to the dish. “We sell out of it most nights,” says the chef. His general manager Eric Cross adds, “It’s a great conversation piece.”

Slashfood also had a mention of this saying…

This is something that’s actually growing in popularity. You cut the watermelon into slices (removing the rind) and cook it in a roasting pan (350 degrees) with sherry, butter, and salt and pepper.

Here’s the recipe.

Ingredients

  • Vegetable oil (for brushing)
  • 1/4 large watermelon
  • 1/4 bottle cream sherry
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Have a large roasting pan on hand. Oil a piece of parchment paper about the size of the pan.
  2. Discard the rounded end of the watermelon. Cut the watermelon into 4 even slices, each at least 1-inch thick. Remove the rind.
  3. Place the slices in the roasting pan. Pour the sherry over them and dot with butter. Sprinkle with salt, and very lightly with pepper. Cover the watermelon with the parchment paper, then cover the pan tightly with foil. Roast the slices for 2 1/2 hours or until charred around the edges.
  4. Place watermelon on a rimmed baking sheet to cool. Strain cooking juices. Serve watermelon with juices spooned over, and feta cheese.

Adapted from 51 Lincoln (from The Boston Globe).

Paint by Chocolate

Chocolate Shoes

You missed the exhibition (so did I), but this is still cool nonetheless. Good find by Swissmiss.

A design gallery in Tokyo decided to launch with a gallery of 30 designers using chocolate as their medium.

Thirty designers, artists and photographers plunge into our peculiar relationship with this sticky stimulant, using an array of differing media.

The designs are all over the place, from paintings to a pair of shoes (see above and yes, those are chocolate) to seeds sprouting, paint cans filled with chocolate, a replica beating heart and more. Click here to see photos from the exhibit.

Shortage of Steak

Lugers

Say it isn’t so!

Upscale steakhouses around the country may be experiencing a rise in cost and a decrease in availability for some of their top-notch steaks.

It’s become such an epidemic that classic steakhouses, such as Peter Luger’s in NY, have been forced to introduce new menu items. In 120 years, Peter Luger’s has never introduced a new steak…until now!

But why is this happening? According to the NY Sun

The production of ethanol, which is made from corn, is one major reason classic cuts of prime beef are becoming more and more expensive, an analyst at the cattle market analysis firm Cattle-Fax, Tod Kalous, said.

Corn is the primary feed for cattle that produce USDA-grade prime beef. Corn is also the main ingredient for what many believe is the fuel of the future, ethanol. The production of ethanol has not only increased the demand for corn, it has made harvests more profitable for farmers, who receive the fruits of government subsidies when it is sold to ethanol producers.

Even with the price of prime beef so high, and with Mr. Kalous predicting continued high prices, most steakhouses have yet to pass on the brunt of the drought to the customer.

And according to NY Mag

Peter Luger’s menu has changed about as much as Stonehenge: You can get a porterhouse steak, lamb chops, hash browns, and tomato-and-onion salad. Technically, there’s salmon on the menu and maybe a few other sides, and they did add bacon, but the genius of the place has been in its simplicity. But as of last month, a rib-eye steak, a relative bargain at $38.95, is for sale. (The slim, seldom-ordered single strip steak is the same price.) It’s the restaurant’s first new steak in 120 years. Why the sudden change?

Simply said, there just aren’t enough porterhouses to sate their rabid customer base and still maintain a semblance of quality.

This can’t be a good thing. And I, for one, will not be ordering a rib eye on my next trip to Peter Lugers!

Photo from Flickr.

Meet the Chins!

Mr. Chin

Since I’m not asian, I can’t really comment on the politically correctness of this, so hopefully no one is offended by it.

However, if it was a little jewish boy kitchen timer, I wouldn’t be offended. I’d find it funny. So that said, here’s the Mr. Chin Kitchen Timer.

Mr. Chin comes from a long line of Chins, including an egg cup, as well as a salt & pepper set, which includes his wife, Mrs. Chin. According to Uncrate

Questionable use of ethnic stereotypes aside, we really like this Mr. Chin Kitchen Timer ($45) from Alessi. The timer is made from thermoplastic resin, hand decorated, and can be set for any time up to one hour. For more fun with the Chins, check out the Mr. Chin Egg Cup as well as the Mr. & Mrs. Chin Salt and Pepper Set.

Foldable BBQ

Fold BBQ

I saw this on Mighty Goods and thought I’d share.

This is one of those “why didn’t I think of that” things that is a brilliant idea. A foldable BBQ. Why not? And such a simple design!

I’m assuming you just fill it with coal or something burnable, light it up and get to work.

It’s available in the UK so shipping might be a bit much, but it converts to only $40 US. Might be worth it if you don’t have room for a BBQ at your place or want something that’s ultra portable.

Order it here.

10 Things Your Restaurant Won’t Tell You

Kitchen

Who doesn’t like going to a restaurant? Usually the food is good and it’s always nice having someone serve you. It’s also less clean up and usually cheaper than if you had to make a complete meal at home. But what are restaurants keeping secret? What aren’t they telling us?

Slashfood has a link to an article that MSN Money published back in May. It’s a short list of 10 things your restaurant won’t tell you such as…

…being careful when eating out on a Monday…

If you think that Monday, when restaurants tend not to be crowded, is a great time to eat out, think again. “You’re being served all of the weekend’s leftovers,” says Francis, the exposé co-author. Kitchens prepare food on a first-in, first-out basis, meaning whatever is oldest gets served first. It’s a way to ensure that everything on the menu is as fresh as possible.

The system works great most days, but it can run into a little glitch over the weekend. Distributors typically take Sunday off and make their last deliveries Saturday morning, which means that by Monday any food not used over the weekend is at least three to four days old. And it will be served before the same ingredients arriving in Monday’s delivery.

What to do if you wish to dine out on a Monday? Ignore your instincts and go to a place that’s perpetually crowded. “If you are open 24/7 and busy all the time,” says New York chef Lucia Calvete, “all your ingredients are fresh all the time.”

…and, there’s no such thing as too much butter.

Think that salmon fillet you ordered for dinner is good for you? Think again. Restaurants load even their healthiest fare with butter and other calorie-heavy add-ons. Restaurant meals average 1,000 to 1,500 calories, says Milton Stokes, a registered dietitian and spokesman for the American Dietetic Association. That’s roughly two-thirds of the daily average calories recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And according to a recent study, women who eat out five times a week consume an average of 290 additional calories per day.

Though most Americans assume that fast food is the worst offender, similar fare at casual sit-down restaurants can be even more caloric. The classic burger at Ruby Tuesday, for example, has a whopping 1,013 calories and 71 grams of fat. The McDonald’s Big Mac, with its 540 calories and 29 grams of fat, seems downright diet-worthy by comparison.

“We butter our hamburger buns,” says Julie Reid, the vice president of culinary for Ruby Tuesday, “so we tell people if they’re looking to cut calories, they shouldn’t eat the bun.” If that sounds less than appetizing, try splitting an entrée with someone, or order an appetizer instead of a main dish.

Wanna see the rest? Click here.

Photo from Flickr.

Taix French Restaurant

Taix

Taix French Restaurant

by Anthony Vargas from The Rockit News 

My last trip to France was a drunken blur. After drinking heavily on the Eurostar from London and de-training at Gare du Nord, all I remember is the urine soaked Paris Metro and a near death experience in a Mercedes taxi cab. I do, however, recall some great food and, luckily, one does not have to drive far to experience the same.

Amongst the hipster dives, old cop hangouts and paisa clubs of Echo Park lays the pride of France. Taix Restaurant has been serving hearty French fare since the days of de Gaulle and not much has changed since the Fourth Republic. The pronunciation of Taix can vary depending on who one asks. The restaurant itself refers to itself as “Tex” while my Francophile cronies beg me to say “Tays.” Darlene tells me the reason aix in aix-en -provence is pronounced “eks” is because of the vowel that follows the x so that Taix is pronounced “Tays” by itself and one pronounces the “X” only if it is followed by a vowel. Confused? Let’s eat!

Looking for a suitable restaurant to take a date before a show at Spaceland or the Echoplex? This is the place to go. Flying solo since you couldn’t even give away that extra Keane ticket? Go anyway. You might just meet a lonely French ex-pat who won’t know any better.

Parking can be tricky in Echo Park so just go ahead and valet the Citroën before heading into this rambling restaurant. Past the entrance, to one’s right is the 321 Lounge, which often hosts live bands and the occasional Tiki Extravaganza. Continue past the lounge and go to the podium, where you might wait a minute before a host arrives.

After being seated, just lean back and take a look around. The dining rooms are, in my opinion, reminiscent of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion and others seem to share this view. There have been numerous times where I sat within sight of several well-heeled gothic couples whose ghostly visages fit in perfectly with the décor.

One can order dinner either à la carte or, for a few dollars more, a complete Taix dinner, which adds soup, salad and sherbet to your entrée. It is quite a bit of food for one person to handle.

Start with the escargots de bourgogne (1/2 Dozen for $9.95). These are served with the proper utensils and are warm and buttery. Plus, it’s great way to make your dinner companions cringe. Who would have ever thought of escargots in Echo Park? If you opt for the Taix dinner, try the famous clam chowder. They give you enough for an invading army, so don’t fill-up just yet.

Our waiter, Bernard, was a most amicable and proper fellow. He is a fond reminder of a more civilized time where waiters were highly trained individuals who did their job expertly and were not seeking a Hollywood movie contract. If Bernard isn’t too busy, he’ll spend some time chatting. A great guy!

The côte de porc grillé or grilled pork chops were amazing. They were so large I thought they had served me a New York steak or Porterhouse by accident. The caramelized onions and wine sauce were just right and the miniature carrots went well with the almost too tender pork chops. The chicken dinner with its lemon butter sauce is the specialty. They also did a great job with pâtes aux fruits de mer, which were scallops, shrimp, clams and fish on a bed of linguini. The wine selection is very affordable and well worth buying by the bottle. The martinis are cold and the size of a pond.

In Los Angeles, food, like clothing and vocabulary goes in and out of style. With the closing of L’Orangerie in Los Angeles and the bulldozing of Marcel and Jean-Claude’s in Montebello, French food must be out of fashion for the time being. Readers of The Rockit are above all that, so I’ll see you at Taix Friday night before we hit Underground at the Echo across the street.

Taix French Restaurant
1911 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90026
(213) 484-1265
www.taixfrench.com

The Paul Giamatti of the Culinary World

SPAM

A recent article on NPR had me wondering what Spam really is.

Spam is the Paul Giamatti or John C. Reilly of the culinary world, an everyman food that lacks the charisma or looks of a leading ingredient, but consistently makes all other ingredients taste better. (from NPR)

Spam luncheon meat is a canned precooked meat product made by the Hormel Foods Corporation. The labeled ingredients in the Classic variety of Spam are: chopped pork shoulder meat with ham meat added, salt, water, sugar, and sodium nitrite.

Varieties include: Spam Black Pepper, Spam Less Sodium, Spam Garlic, Spam and Cheese, Spam with Bacon (Hormel bacon), Spam Spread, Spam Fritters, Spam Lite (containing pork and chicken), Spam Golden Honey Grail (named after “Spamalot” and Monty Python’s Holy Grain, Spam Hot and Spicy (with Tabasco sauce), Spam Hickory Smoked, and Spam Oven Roasted Turkey – the latter is a halal food, meaning that it is permissible under Islamic law, and is especially popular in Muslim markets.

Introduced on July 5, 1937, the name “Spam” was chosen in the 1930s when the product, whose original name was far less memorable (Hormel Spiced Ham), began to lose market share. The name was chosen from multiple entries in a naming contest. A Hormel official once stated that the original meaning of the name Spam was “Shoulder of Pork and hAM“. According to writer Marguerite Patten in Spam – The Cookbook, the name was suggested by Kenneth Daigneau, an actor and the brother of a Hormel vice president. At one time, the official explanation may have been that the name was a syllabic abbreviation of “SPiced hAM”, but on their official website, Hormel denies this and states that “Spam is just that. Spam.” The fact that the originator was given a $100 prize for coming up with the name, however, still appears on the site’s Spam FAQs.

According to Hormel’s trademark guidelines, Spam should be spelled with all capital letters and treated as an adjective, as in the phrase “SPAM luncheon meat”. As with many other trademarks, such as Xerox or Kleenex, people often refer to similar meat products as “spam”. Regardless, in practice, “Spam” is generally spelled and used as a proper noun. (from Wikipedia)

But what can you make with SPAM that actually tastes edible, perhaps, even good? Here are a couple that sound good, both from NPR.

Photo from Flickr.

—————————————————–

SPAM MUSUBI

More Spam is consumed in Hawaii than any other state in the U.S. By far, Hawaiians’ favorite dish is Musubi, a ready-to-eat Spam snack that resembles a large piece of nigiri sushi. In Hawaii, you can buy Musubi in nearly any convenience store or grocery store for between $1 and $2. This is adapted from a recipe on the Hormel Foods Web site. (Makes 8 servings)

Ingredients

  • 1 12-ounce can Spam Classic
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 3 cups cooked white sushi rice (found in the Asian section of supermarket)
  • 1 package hoshi nori (Japanese dried seaweed, available at Asian markets)

Directions

  1. Slice Spam lengthwise into 8 equal pieces.
  2. In a shallow dish, combine garlic, ginger, brown sugar and soy sauce. Place Spam slices in the mixture and let sit for 30 minutes. Remove and pat dry.
  3. In a medium-sized skillet, fry the marinated Spam slices over medium heat, 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.
  4. Moisten hands and mold rice into 8 thick blocks with the same outside dimensions as Spam slices. (You can get a perfect block shape by using a special plastic Musubi mold found online or in specialty stores in Hawaii.)
  5. Cut nori into 8-1/2 inch strips. Place Spam slices on rice blocks and wrap individual nori strips around each middle.
  6. Moisten one end of nori slightly to fasten together. The remaining marinade may be used as a dip.

—————————————————–
Or for the really gourmet SPAM enthusiast…

Lobster Thermidor Aux Crevettes with Mornay Sauce, Truffle Pate, Brandy, Fried Egg and Spam

Don’t expect to earn your third Michelin star with this dish. But any diners who are also die-hard Monty Python fans will be delighted. (Makes 4 servings)

Ingredients 

  • 4 lobster tails
  • 16 jumbo shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon brandy
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, scalded
  • 1/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 1 12-ounce can Spam Classic
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 can truffle pate (found in gourmet food stores)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or peanut oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to broil.
  2. Place lobster tails into large pot of boiling water. After 3 to 4 minutes, add shrimp. Cook another 3 to 4 minutes until lobster and shrimp are done.
  3. Remove from pot. Drain and rinse under cold water. Using kitchen shears or carefully with a knife, remove but save lobster shells. Cut lobster meat and shrimp coarsely into 1/2-inch pieces.
  4. Heat 4 tablespoons of butter in skillet over medium heat. Add onions and saute about 4 minutes, until translucent. Add flour and stir, cooking for another 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Whisk in brandy, then hot cream.
  6. Remove from heat and add Gruyere and half the Parmesan cheese, stirring frequently. Add lobster, shrimp, paprika, salt and pepper.
  7. Arrange lobster shells in a casserole dish. Pour lobster shrimp mixture over shells and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs. Broil on high until golden, 3 to 5 minutes.
  8. While waiting for the dish to broil, slice Spam into 8 pieces. Fry eggs over medium heat, then remove. Fry Spam slices until light brown.
  9. To serve, place each lobster shell on a plate. Top with one or two slices of Spam and then a fried egg. Serve truffle pate on the side.

Wacky Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers

The diet days of the 1970′s and 80′s are long gone, but this site is still around and is still fantastic.

It’s a collection of Weight Watchers recipe cards circa 1974. These recipes are hilarious, creative and disgusting at the same time.

Some gems include “Cabbage Casserole Czarina,” “Fish Balls,” “Chicken Liver Bake,” “Frankfurter Spectacular,” and “Fluffy Mackerel Pudding.” Seriously, who doesn’t like mackerel and pudding? Now if only someone could make those two ingredients fluffy…

Oh, and be sure to note the props in each photo. Like the urn strategically placed in the “Chicken Liver Bake.”

According to the sites founder…

I found them while helping my parents clean out their basement a few years ago. They were neatly arranged in their own plastic file box. Plenty of the dishes seemed normal enough, but as I flipped through them, some of the recipes began to alarm me. And then I found the card for the Rosy Perfection Salad.

I fell over. Like I Iaughed so hard I started coughing and I fell back on the floor and I waved the card at my mom, who just rolled her eyes. “Can I please have these? Please?” I begged. “What do you want them for?” she asked. “To cook?” “No,” I said. She let me have them. I think they might have been my grandma’s, but she never copped to actually buying them. Nobody else did, either.

These cards mystify me. None of them have calorie or nutrition information of any kind, and in some instances it’s hard to tell what’s dietetic about the recipes at all, except that they’re unspeakably grim. And yet also, completely insane. They appear to be from a much kookier era of Weight Watchers. There’s a certain serve-it-at- your-next-key-party freakiness to a lot of these dishes.

Once upon a time the world was young and the words “mackerel” and “pudding” existed far, far away from one another.

One day, that all changed. And then, whoever was responsible somehow thought the word fluffy would help.

Oh, and eggs, too.

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