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Chicken Pot Pie

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Using trimmed chicken thighs and herbs de Provence with lavender kicks up the flavor of this classic for a modern twist without ramping up the calories in kind. Sure, it’s called “Chicken Pot Pie”, but in these parts it’s known as CHICKEN POT AWESOME.

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Ingredients

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs trimmed of any excess fat and cut into 1″ chunks

3/4 cup roughly chopped carrots

2/3 cup frozen peas

2/3 cup frozen corn

1 cup chopped mushrooms (“Optional,” my husband says. They’re not.)

1 cup chopped celery or fennel (I prefer the fennel)

1/3 cup butter

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 clove garlic, minced

4 tsp kosher salt, divided

2 tsp black pepper, divided

1 1/2 tsp herbs de Provence (if you can get it with lavender it’s better)

1/3 cup flour

1 1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup dry white wine

2/3 cups milk

2 9″ frozen pie crusts or pie dough

 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Roll you pie dough into a deep casserole pan, leaving enough to top the pot pie if using. If you are going with 2 pie crusts, one will be your bottom and the other will be used for the top. I used pre-made pie crust in the aluminum pans, but turned one out and pressed it into my oval casserole pan, while rolling out the other for the top and it just worked fine.

In a medium pot heat 1/2 TBSP vegetable oil and combine chicken, carrots, peas, corn, mushrooms, and celery or fennel. Sprinkle with 2 tsp salt and 1 tsp black pepper, and sauté over medium heat for about 6 minutes. Carefully add enough water to cover chicken and veggies, leaning away so steam doesn’t hit you in the face. Crank heat to high, cover, and boil for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. This step can be done as much as a day in advance if need be. Simply store in an airtight container in the fridge and take out about 30 minutes before you’re ready to assemble the pie.

In a bowl or large measuring cup, mix the wine, broth, and milk. In a saucepan over medium heat cook the onions and garlic in the butter until soft. You don’t want these to brown. Mix in the remaining salt and pepper, and herbs, toasting a little while, stirring for an additional 1-2 minutes. Add the flour, followed by one fourth of the liquid mixture. Stir until incorporated. Continue mixing the liquid in batches, stirring until incorporated each time. Once the liquid is well mixed and smooth with the onions, garlic, and herbs, let slightly thicken an additional couple of minutes (should coat the back of a spoon). Remove from heat.

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Pour the chicken and veggie mixture into the bottom pie crust. Pour the liquid flour-onion mixture over the top of the chicken, letting it move down and around every thing. Cover this deliciousness with the top crust, sealing the edges with the tines of a fork or your fingers. Cut 4 or 5 vents in the top about 1 inch long to allow steam to escape while baking. If you’re feelin’ fancy (and that’s okay) you can use extra pie dough to make a design on top or whisk an egg with 2 TBSP water for an egg wash to brush on for an extra shiny golden crust.

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Bake for 34 – 38 minutes until the top is nice and golden brown and the insides are bubbling hot. Allow to cool 10-15 minutes before serving. We didn’t bother to serve ours with a side of anything, though I suppose mashed potatoes might be the norm or sautéed spinach might be good. The fact of the matter is any other food would simply detract from the pie, and who wants that? No one, that’s who.

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Austin Gastro Graze 6: Stiles Switch

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So, I haven’t written a Gastro Graze in a while. We have been trying to cut back on eating out, but the amount of new eateries popping up in Austin hasn’t slowed. Yesterday Chip and I decided to try Stiles Switch, a new local barbecue joint on North Lamar.

Stiles Switch has a nice location with an industrial feel and, best yet, lots of parking. That being said, it was 1:30pm on Saturday…and the place was almost empty. The interior of the restaurant was very clean and well kept, and it has a more established feel than the 10 months it’s been open. The gentlemen behind the counter were very nice, as well. For our lunch, Chip and I decided on BBQ staples: 6 pork ribs, 1/2 pound of brisket, and cole slaw. There wasn’t an option for moist (fatty) or lean on the brisket, and we didn’t notice that they also served sausages until after we’d paid for lunch, so I would go back to try their jalapeño cheddar offering. I generally stay away from chicken at BBQ places, which Stiles does serve, only because of its tendency to be dry. We also got a root beer and an orange soda. The total came to $31, which means they’re a bit pricier than Black’s or Smitty’s out in Lockhart, but that’s the price of not having to drive an hour out of town.

Ribs are a staple when gorging myself on smoked meats. A rub can make or break them; I find Cooper’s to be too black peppery though Chip disagrees. Stiles had a decent rub on their ribs, however, that was a good balance of smokey, sweet, salty, with the flavor of pepper coming through without being over-powering. Our lunch order came with a cup of the Stiles sauce which was…interesting. I’m not a big fan of BBQ sauces, but they seemed to be attempting a new spin. Rather than use a base of ketchup in their sauce, it tasted heavily of canned tomato soup. It was odd to say the least, though not all together bad, but most of it remained when Chip and I finished eating.

Stiles Switch sells two kinds of cole slaw and we got a small serving of each. I’m generally not a fan of mayonnaise based cole slaws, but theirs was tasty and not heavy. Chip felt it seemed to be a very basic slaw, however, and nothing special. The other slaw they served was a lemon vinaigrette variety, which was  flavorful and bright, and a nice change of pace from the usual offering. Stiles also offered potato salad and macaroni & cheese, neither of which Chip or I tried.

Now to the brisket. I am picky about my brisket. It should be moist – but not too moist. Unfortunately, the brisket we had at Stiles was closer to beef jerky than to juicy, tender brisket found at Iron Works or Franklin’s. As you can see on the left side of the picture, this brisket is dry. It was also cut very thick, which only served to make its texture all the more unappetizing. Between the two of us, Chip and I only finished one piece of our 1/2 pound of brisket. The bark was tasty, but was ultimately too tough to enjoy.

Would I return to Stiles Switch? Yes, because I would like to try the sausage, and maybe even give the brisket a second chance, but it won’t be any time soon. Would I recommend it? Probably not. My issue that barbecue is not cheap, and there’s so much competition near and far in this area, that a restaurant really can’t afford to make less than great.

Like Dinos for Ponies

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A few weeks back I made this big stink about writing more frequently and yet since that time I have wound up writing less than ever.

I haven’t cooked anything new.

I’m still in the office a million hours a week.

And now I’ve taken on a second job, albeit a small one at one night a week, as a Quiz Master.

So, I’m writing today, dammit.

I’m trying to find meaning and balance in my life. I say “meaning”, maybe that’s a bit harsh. I am an adult now, which is easy to claim on the basis of age, but much harder to grasp in terms of…everything else. I have no children because they are expensive. Also, they smell, but I could probably get over that. I do not feel settled in my career because when you’re a child there is only the want to be. To be an astronaut, a veterinarian, a doctor, a teacher, a lion wrangler, something definitive, something viewed as great, and you’re blissfully unaware in youth of the lesser positions, such office administration, personal assisting, the horrible world that is retail, etc. You think everything is fair, that you work 8:30am to 5pm, at which point you’re allowed to have a life and holidays off. And for working those hours you earn enough cash to afford said life, a vacation once a year, medical bills, the surprise of a car breaking down. The world has changed, however. And I am cranky for it.

Where am I going with this? I don’t know. Maybe the world hasn’t changed.

Adulthood – Something I’ve sparred with more than once on here. It’s hard to view one’s self as a true adult as I base my idea of an adult on my parents, who I viewed most while a child in the 1980’s. Also, at its core my life is one of learning, of being excited for art, history, the beauty, destruction, and evolution of our past. This blurs the lines of being an adult personally because one is supposed to let go of the loves you have as a child as you grow into maturity. As a child I loved learning, I loved museums. And I will not let go of those.

Speaking of cores, we all have an inner voice within us. If we didn’t we wouldn’t be able to read silently. Boom. Inner voice. As we grow, mature, and learn this inner voices matures with us, is us, defines our rationals and decision making processes. Every once in a while, however, my inner voice isn’t me.

That sounds bizarre and creepy. Scratch that.

What I mean to say is that every once in a while my inner child speaks for my inner voice.

This morning I read an article about a new “Alien Horned” dinosaur discovered in Canada recently. It’s called an “Alien” based on it’s scientific name (Xenoceratops), Xeno of course being latin for Alien. Yeah, no, stop thinking Scientology. I mean, their use of Xenu isn’t exactly wrong, but it’s also not real. Dinosaurs were real (unless of course that offends you, but if it does then you probably wouldn’t be reading my blog).

The point is the new dino didn’t look all that different. He’s instantly recognizable as a close relation to the Triceratops.

Ole’ Xeno himself. (Photo Credit Yahoo News)

So, I see the headline of a new dinosaur discovery and I can’t click fast enough out of childlike wonder and excitement, only for my eyes to rest on a rather familiar-though-slightly-different face. And my inner child’s inner voice takes over and says to me:

“That’s not new. That’s the dinosaur I’d ride like a horse if I lived back then.”

And that’s my first thought on this matter. Not “My, a new relation of a classic. How interesting!”, not “A new discovery! How delightful!”, not “Oh, joy, something new! The World as we know it is astounding!” Nope.

My first thought is that this is boring, because I would ride a triceratops and all of his or her kin like wild ponies of the Cretaceous Period.

WHY is that my first thought looking at poor Xeno Horn over here? First of all, no I wouldn’t have. In the improbable event of finding myself stuck back a few dozens of millions of years ago in the Earth’s beginnings, I would not be saddling up great monsters. Trampled to death? Maybe. Stung by a giant, horrifying insect of yore and left for dead? Most likely. Tour around on a Xenoceratops? Absolutely not. Not only did my inner child hop a ride on a Jules Verne or H.G. Wells premise, but I also came up with the girliest, most childish thought:

Big beast. I ride. He my friend. I call him “Friendy”.

I say “girliest” because though I spent much of my youth working on farms just so I could ride horses, I would have much rather had a dinosaur or pterosaur as a trusty stead; ponies were just practice. This was me at my girliest.

I love history, I respect history, I learn from history. Apparently, however, I will not grow out of my periodic inner child no matter how immature she may forever be.

I don’t think I mind this, though. It’s that childishness that keeps me enthusiastic over the interesting things I love, and I find that joy to be easily contagious to those around me. Maybe it will even make me a good parent, if ever I decide to embark on that experience. I know it certainly made my father a good dad, albeit a pretty corny one.

Panko & Coconut Crusted Escolar with Grilled Baby Bok Choy

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I’m not a fish eater. I like Salmon every once in a while and filet of sole (or flounder) in Franchaise sauce, but that’s pretty much it. And the second I eat something “fishy”, I’m off fish for a month or so before having the stomach to try, try again. I’ll happily eat sushi and I’d love to indulge in grilled rare tuna steaks more often…provided someone else wants to foot the bill.

One affordable fish I do love, however, is escolar, also know as Butter Fish. Boy oh boy, is it delicious, BUT there is a reason sushi restaurants serve it in limited quantities when they serve it at all. I’ll get into that later. Escolar is rich, super delicate in flavor, fresh, and almost sweet. It’s much less expensive than Tuna, but, like it’s red relation, it’s excellent for those who swear they “…don’t like fish.”

Inspired by Ming Tsai, I wanted to make a version of crispy fish without having the added calories and heaviness that comes with frying. Using his cooking method combined with my own flavors ended in crispy, summery, deliciously bright fish that was perfectly complimented by smokey grilled baby bok choy and a spicy lime cream sauce.

The recipe:

Two 4oz. center filet cuts of escolar, no blood line and as uniform in shape and thickness as possible.

1/2 cup flour

2 eggs, beaten

2/3 cup panko

1/3 cup coconut flakes

3 TBSP olive oil

Cream Sauce, served under fish and on the side:

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

3 TBSP sour cream

The juice and zest of 1 lime

1-2 tsp red pepper flakes or wasabi paste/powder

1/2 avocado, optional

1 tsp salt

Grilled Baby Bok Choy:

6 heads baby bok choy, split in half the long way

2 TBSP olive oil

2 tsp sesame oil

1/2 TBSP ginger, ground into paste

1/2 tsp chili oil, optional

1 TBSP ponzu

For the sauce, combine everything in a bowl to a smooth consistency and keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

For the fish, rinse and pat dry your filets. Set up the flour and beaten eggs in two separate shallow bowls. In a third bowl or dish combine the panko and coconut flakes. Lightly coat all sides of the escolar in the flour, gently shaking of the excess. Dip into the beaten eggs and then into the coconut/panko mixture, making sure each side is coated. Place to the side.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a medium oven safe pan (I used cast iron) heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Once the oil is nice and hot turn the heat down to medium and put the fish top side (serving side/pretty side) down in the pan and cook until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Once nice and tan, flip the fish and place the entire pan into the oven to cook the fish through, about 7-8 minutes.

To complete this dish with grilled bok choy, pre heat your grill on high. Take the liquid ingredients and ginger, and whisk together in a bowl. Paint the mixture liberally over the cut sides of the baby bok choy. Place on the grill cut side down, and grill for 2 minutes. Flip bok choy and continue cooking one minute on other side.

To plate this dish, I did a zig zag drizzle of the creamy sauce on one side of the plate, piled the bok choy high on the other side, and placed the Escolar right onto the sauce. It was light, bright, crunchy, summery, smokey, and well balanced. I can’t wait to make this again in the near future.

Now, 4oz doesn’t seem like a large serving, but if you’re still hungry have some sticky rice or a salad, NOT more fish! It’s nicknamed Butter Fish for good reasons: It’s rich, indulgent, and so fatty that too much of it will make your body be unable to digest it, expelling it opposite your mouth rather quickly. Yes, over 5 oz of the stuff can turn it into the Olestra of the fish world, so definitely partake, but do so within reason. Besides, 4 oz is a healthy serving of any protein; we’re just used to HUGE sizes that are unnecessary.

Get Out of My Poppin’ Way: Dark Shadows, Sherlock, Hunger Games + More

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Argh.

I finally had the interview for the job I truly, truly want and I’m not sure it went super well… it went okayish, but I don’t think it went exactly awesome. I just wanted to blurt out “I want this job more than anyone else you’ll ever interview and the work I’ll produce will prove it!”…but what kind of crazy bitch would do that? So, I’m kinda pissy. On top of the job search, it’s SXSW, the time of year when my town is both awesome and super annoying. So, I’ve been busy. I’m throwing out some bytes and moving on until a weekend recipe comes up. It’ll be thrilling. I think.

*First things first: The first trailer for Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows has been released. It’s…well, it’s not like the original series, that’s for sure. Oh, is Helena Bonham Carter in it, too? Oh, good, ’cause I’ve always wanted to see her do a movie with Depp. It’s going to do as well as his stuff normally does, i.e. you’re going to see it because you love Tim Burton, or it might peak your interest a bit, or you’re not a Burton fan so you’re just going to pass. I, of course, will see it. See the trailer below.

* Going back to SXSW, let it be known that it was here in Austin that Joss Whedon announced a sequel of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog is on its way. Dr. Horrible sat in my Netflix cue for the longest time. It took forever for me to get around to watching it. I’m not normally into stuff like that (Glee can kiss my shiny, metal ass), but I was thrilled once I finally sat and watched it. My one disappointment was its brevity. It’s hysterical and well worth the hype. A continuation of the story is definitely an exciting prospect. [Wired]

*Remember when you read Ender’s Game in junior high? Well, some punk kid made a complaint against his teacher reading it aloud, claiming the content was “pornographic”. We are raising a bunch of entitled sissies. Suing is entirely too easy and this twerp just ruined his teacher’s life over a book that has been deemed suitable for school children 12 years of age and older for well over two decades. We’re reaching a point where being appropriate will wind up being entirely too sheltered. This really sickens me. If they think Ender’s Game is pornographic, they must think Hunger Games is down right hardcore bukake. [Blastr]

* If you haven’t watched the BBC’s Sherlock, stop wasting your life on the internet and go watch it right now. Amazing, thrilling intelligent, very well directed, love, Love, LOVE. And, thankfully, a third series will be upon us soon!…Well, I say “soon.” Perhaps “eventually” would be better. Alright, you want to know the truth? We will all see both parts of The Hobbit before we get to see the next series of Sherlock. BUT at least we’ll be able to get our Sherlock Holmes and Watson fix in the form of Smaug and Bilbo, respectively. No, you’re right, that’s not much consolation at all. [NME]

* How cool is Gillian Anderson? So cool that she turned down a role in Downton Abbey. Lady Cora’s got nothing on this stone cold fox. I don’t look at this as a mistake on Anderson’s part; I look at it as her solidifying her BadAssed-ness. It’s a word. I’m sure that’s a word. [Metro]

* Mario isn’t just a video game character. He and his tall, thin, clumsy brother are an intricate part of my childhood. I would tend to disagree, however, that they are the world’s greatest piece of surreal art. In a new show on PBS’s Idea Channel, the Mario Bros. are scrutinized in an entirely new light. Entertainment in a new scope. I don’t play video games to waste time – I do it for ART! Watch below.

* Eugene Fomin over at Ugo.com has compiled a list of Doctor Who‘s most famous guest stars. Simon Pegg is near the top of a very short list of Plan B guys if this whole marriage thing doesn’t work out, so Pegg’s a natural favorite guest star of mine, though it is pretty funny to see Rowan Atkinson with long flowing hair. [Ugo]

* And, finally, the newest clip released from the Hunger Games  is of a scene that any fan of the books can tell you was not in the original novel. It is, however, a good summarization that could help the storyline if, over the course of what I assume will be a trilogy of movies, the producers decide to cut some necessary points. Watch below.

The Proof is in the iPudding: New iPad3 Announced Today!

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You know how I feel about a new iPad: In short, I’m so in love with my Macbook Air, that I only have eyes for thee. That being said, new Apple announcements are always exciting.  And besides, I may say I love it, but Polly really “loves” my Air.

I’m really hoping we hear something regarding Apple TV. It’s thanks to that ‘lil hockey-puck sized device that I was able to ditch cable for good. We even talked my retired parents into getting one (Incidentally, my mother couldn’t be more in love with her iPad 2 than she already is).

Regardless of your Apple device of pleasure, be aware that iOS 5.1 is available today, so make sure you get that update.

Enough chatter – What’s so special about the third generation of iPads? Plenty.

Photo Credit WSJ 

There’s a reason no other tablet on the market can come close to competing with Apple’s iPad, but as far as the newest generations specs go, it offers…

  • The newest iPad will be offered at the same starting price point, $499, as the previous models, and will be available next week (3/16)!
  • According to GadgetLab, it will also be 4G LTE. Does that mean anything to you? Well, it doesn’t mean anything to 99% of the world’s population. Their statement on it is roughly “So, 4G LTE means it’s faster….?” Check out SNL’s take on it HERE.
  • Super mega Retina display, better then flat screen tv’s. Of course. Seriously, I haven’t heard enough incredible things about it. For those who have seen it in person, it’s apparently beyond incredible.
  • A better 5mpxl camera. Excellent, but I’d still rather take photos with my 4s than an iPad.
  • An A5x quadcore chip means better and faster everything, with super speed and better graphics.

Is it worth it to upgrade if you already have an iPad 2? Eventually. Immediately? Only time will tell.

[WallStreetJournal]

Oscars Be Damned: New Harry Potter Box Set Is (almost) HERE!

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Amazon just put up the new Harry Potter Blu-Ray box set. All 7 years, all 8 movies, all on blu-ray, and housed in a gorgeous, knock your socks of box set.

The catch? The $350 price tag. It costs more than a PS3 on which to watch the damn things. And, really, who out there doesn’t already have all the movies already?

Sure is pretty to look at, though (see pictures below). Add it to the list of things I would have if A: I had the money, and B: I was never going to have kids. I should really rethink the hole procreation thing. Kids would touch all my stuff…

You can pre-order your wickedly expensive boxed “shrine” (Thank you, Sarah) now, though there is currently no release date. Amazon is, however, offering a $150 discount on the suggested retail value of $500. Wankers.