Tuesday, July 31, 2007

It's Like Chinese Food...

...but it won't leave you suddenly hungry an hour later.

So, now that we're back home, I think it's only proper that we continue to make the new camera pay for itself by taking cool pictures. For example, here's tonight's dinner:



It's based on Tony Bourdain's recipe for "Mignons de porc l'ail" from his Les Halles cookbook, although I'm fairly certain he didn't serve his pork tenderloin with leftover shrimp fried rice from last night's take-out.

I changed his recipe slightly to reflect the fact that I would serve it with fried rice. Here's my take on the recipe:

Mignons de Porc a la Chinoise

2 1 lb. pork tenderloins, trimmed of fat and membranes
8 oz. assorted mushrooms, diced (I used shiitake and oyster)
6 scallions, chopped finely (white and green parts - reserve 2 T. of green tops)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp ginger, minced
2 T. canola oil
3 T. butter
2 t. sesame oil
1-2 t. chile garlic paste/sambal
2 shallots, sliced thinly
1 1/2 T. light soy sauce
1/2 c. dry white wine
1/2 c. water
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

1. In a large heavy skillet, over medium high heat, cook the mushrooms and scallions in 1 T. of canola oil (or use Pam) until mushrooms are brown and the scallions are tender. Add the garlic, ginger and chile paste and saute until fragrant - about 30 seconds to a minute. Add 1/4 c. of wine and 1/2 T. of soy sauce. Bring to a boil and cook until the liquid no longer remains. Remove the vegetables to a plate and spread them out to cool.

2. Butterfly the pork tenderloins. Open them up like books. Use a mallet or the heel of your hand to flatten any parts of the tenderloins that are egregiously thicker than other parts of the butterflied meat. Lay the tenderloins side by side next to each other on the board. When the mushroom/scallion mixture is cooled completely, pile it down the middle of the tenderloins (where the meat meets as they lay side by side). Drizzle the vegetable stuffing with 1 tsp. of sesame oil. Cut three lengths of string. Slide one under the middle of the meat and one under each end. Truss the meat up so it becomes a cylindrical roast. You probably will want to add at least two more trusses to the points in between the middle and the ends. Bondage that bad boy up and poke any stuffing that tries to escape back inside. (note - Pork does not get a safe word.)

3. You can probably use the skillet you cooked the vegetables in here if it is oven safe. Just wipe it out before you start this part. Heat the skillet back up to medium high. Add 1 T. canola oil and 1 T. butter. Season your meat with salt and pepper to taste. Brown it on all sides (about 4-5 minutes per side). Put the skillet with the roast in the oven to cook for about 25-30 minutes (I like mine to be solidly medium when it comes out).

4. When the pork is done, remove it to a plate to rest. Carefully wipe out the oil (but leave the fond). Put the skillet back over medium heat. Add 1 T. of butter and let it melt. When the foaming subsides, add the shallots and cook until they are translucent. Add the remaining wine and bring to a boil. When it is reduced to a glaze, add the water and remaining soy sauce. Boil until it is reduced by half. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the remaining butter and 1 tsp. sesame oil. Whisk until the butter and sesame oil is well incorporated. Stir in the reserved scallion greens and check for seasonings.

5. To serve, slice the roast carefully into 8 slices (leave the string on, it makes it easier to keep everything in one piece - just don't forget to remove it at the table). Place 2 slices on each plate. Pour a couple of spoonfuls of the pan sauce over the meat. Serve immediately with rice or mashed potatoes.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Memories Are Free

San Diego is not a cheap place to vacation, at least not in the area central to the Convention Center. Our coffee and danish (you know, the continental breakfast that most hotels usually give the guests for free?) was eight dollars this morning. We tried to go to a place that offered a sweet deal of a large beer and a small sake for $5.50 at dinner time last night and it was going to be an hour wait for a table. I want to be frugual, but I am impatient - and every moment I don't keep Mr. Scoop juiced to the gills is a moment he realizes he can probably pee on a wino with impunity (particularly if he wait for one of the trains to go by and obscure the view. They come every 2.67 minutes.).

We ended up at a fish taco place not far from the Convention Center. Along the way, we had a Stan Lee sighting. He was hustled away by his people before we could get a photo. Perhaps their spider sense was tingling. Or they could just smell Jack Daniels failure impending doom. Mr. Scoop discusses it here.

However, here was a cool moment that happened during the Con:



Yes, that is George fucking Romero.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Morning

Yesterday was a long day. The convention has attracted even more people to it than in previous years. They didn't let us plebes in (even the pre-registered ones) until exactly at 10. So we waited in a line that wrapped all the way around the convention center. I watched as some model from Texas in front of me frantically called her handler on the inside so she could jump the line with her preregistered, but not industry little friend. She was successful. The rest of us baked in the hot sun until The Powers That Be opened the doors and let us finally pick up our passes. While waiting a cool guy named Trey shared his sketchbook with us. He'd amassed quite an awesome collection of artist sketches. He was a San Diego native and marveled at how big the show had gotten from when he was a freshman in high school. Mr. Scoop said, "If you guys wouldn't throw such a cool party, we wouldn't come." This got a chuckle out of another couple of guys in front of us. It also distracted Mr. Scoop from the annoying kid in back of us who wanted to be involved with someone, anyone's conversation, but only if he could point out how his anime character costume last year was much cooler that the dude "over there with too much hair gel". Yeah. The one who came with friends.

Just sayin'

However, once inside, things were fun. Overwhelming, but fun. Too damn many people and too much to see. Warren Ellis was kind enough to share a couple of pleasantries with me as he signed some comic books for me. That was probably the highlight of my day. Later we sat in on some panels. I learned that Matt Wagner is a gourmet cook. Sure, there's a new Grendel project coming out, but I like learning about the trivia sometimes. We also caught panels on Hatchet (cool new horror movie) and George Romero. That one was made even more awesome by Max Brooks who, in addtion to being an incredibly talented writer (World War Z, anyone?), made the interview with Romero seem intimate despite the size of the room and the audience.

Then there was drinking and debauchery, a lot of which I can't remember, other than the lounge of the Hyatt is entirely too nice. And I'm really sorry about what happened to the potted plant in the lobby. I think.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Nerd Prom: Day One Teaser

It's like the Unknown Comic and Reed Richards had a freaky love child:



Does Sue Storm know?

The sign on the back, in case you can't see the writing (although you can click to enlarge the pic), says "Kick Me".

Ok. We're off to drink beer and generally embarrass ourselves in front of strangers. Must be a day.

More tomorrow, depending on how crippled I am.

We're Heee-ere

It is 20 minutes to eight o'clock, Pacific Daylight Time. I've been awake since 5, since my body thought that was eight o'clock. My hotel room as a lovely view of a construction site and the train tracks. The trains have been running nonstop for much of the night and the morning. Fortunately, I had ear plugs and was mostly not bothered. Mr. Scoop was not quite as fortunate and has begun the morning from his hip flask. Every so often I have to swat the phone out of his hand and remind him that he can't demand that room service "bring him all the Oxy".

Last year we had a beautiful view of the bay from this very hotel. Oh well. I suspect we're not going to spend enough time in the room to really have it make that much of a difference. They turn the power off from 10 to 3 to do renovations on the hotel this year anyway...and by then I expect we'll be hip deep in folks dressed as assorted heroes, villians and freaks. Our real purpose here, after all, is the San Diego Comic Con.

Ok. Mr. Scoop has emerged from the bathroom and has decided that he "needs more liquid dynamite" and has informed me that his hip flask is "broken". Apparently we need to find him Jack Daniels prior to hitting the breakfast buffet and the convention shuttle.

I'll keep you posted as long as we stay out of jail.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Weapons of (M)ass Destruction

"Inhale my vengeance!" Mr. Scoop shrieked as he sat at his computer.

Lo, there was much farting.

Farts don't go well with Malbec. Neither does atomized Febreze, no matter how tightly I clamp my hand over the top of the wine glass as Mr. Scoop darts around the room with an aerosol can like an apologetic, but spastic monkey.

Ok. Maybe not so apologetic:

"I will never apologize for my vengeance! Yea, look upon my anus and tremble. I walk the world and clear whole rooms as I do so with my mighty wind. My gas is a gift unto man. A killing gift."

"I promise I will never give you beef and cheese again in one sitting", I said. "Just, please...stop...", I croaked.

"Oh, no. There must be more beef and cheese. I will be in first class tomorrow on the way to San Diego. The ManTM must be made to know how I feel about...things..." There was more gnashing of teeth. Wailing. Stuff.

"What things", I asked.

"The 'Weekly World News' has gone out of business for one thing. Plus I think first class needs to start offering midgets for lap dances. Midgets are funny. Oh, and...I should be allowed to poke other first class passengers with a stick. At will. Especially when then are snoring while I'm trying to watch the in flight movie."

"The last in flight movie we saw was 'Titanic' - who in Christ wouldn't want to be distracted from that? And, we're not even booked to sit in first class."

"Who said we were booked to sit in first class," Mr. Scoop replied as he filled a small cooler in his carry-on with roast beef and spray cheeze. Yes. I said cheeze.

I expect I'll be blogging to you tomorrow from Git-mo.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Because You Won't Stop E-mailing Me...

...and because I can finally get photos off my phone again (such as they are).



I went ahead and made the veal heart. I decided to try the grilling route (well, actually, I used my broiler - which Alton Brown says is an upside down grill). I came to this decision after Googling "veal heart recipes" and coming across Chris Cosentino's Web site Offal Good. On that site he has a recipe for Grilled Beef Heart With Roasted Golden Beets & Horseradish. Since all the other heart recipes I found involved baking, I took this as a sign that I was onto something. I even went so far as to email him through his Web site to ask what he thought was the best method. Turns out he prefers a quick grill or sear because he feels it dries the meat out less. He even suggested it would make great tartare! (I'm not quite prepared to go that route. Yet.) I thought it was pretty cool that he emailed me back.

Here's what I ended up doing:

Broiled Veal Heart with Chimichurri

Chimichurri

1 cup lightly packed chopped Italian parsley
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
2 tablespoons shallot
3/4 cup vegetable or olive oil
3 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
3 tablespoons lemon juice

Zap in food processor until combined but not pureed. Set aside for at least an hour at room temp to let the flavors blend.

Prep the heart

Remove what remain of any sinews and fat or other membrane. You should be left with two pieces of heart that are about 3 1/2-4" across and about 5 1/2-6" long and about 1/2" thick. Halve the chimichurri. Add a half cup of white wine to one half and add the heart. Let this marinate in the fridge for about an hour and a half.

Cook the heart

After heating the broiler to high, broil the veal for about 3 minutes per side. Then let the pieces rest for about 10 minutes under a foil tent. When ready to serve, slice the pieces across the grain thinly and serve it with the remaining chimichurri and some crusty bread.

Impressions after eating the veal heart:

Taste - the flavor is not like liver or kidney at all. Not "organ-y". Very close to "regular" veal flavor. A little deeper, but not gamey or anything.

Texture - This was the most tender piece of meat I've ever eaten. More tender than some filets I've had. And, again, because the heart is a muscle, it's meatlike when you bite it. Not like organ meat. I'm really glad I went the grill/broiler route on this.

Mr. Scoop dutifully ate the heart because that was what for dinner. I had recently had success in getting him to eat beef tongue under the guise of "Here, try this" and offering him mystery meat in a taco. He thought it tasted like pot roast and later rationalized that it was ok because the tongue is a muscle and not an organ. Therefore it was acceptable to eat. He applied the same logic to eating the heart. He has told me that he'll eat it again, although he found the tender texture less meatlike than I did and a bit weird. He'd rather I sauce it up in something that was a bit stronger, like a mustard sauce or something. Dave's Insanity Sauce might do the trick.

So, in summary, I personally recommend picking up a package of this if you see it at your supermarket at the prices that I've been seeing it ($1-1.50/lb.). Yes, you do have to trim some weird looking sinews off it, but once you get past that the meat marinates really well and cooks quickly. It results in flavorful, tender eats for bargain prices. I'm definitely going to try my hand at making this again in the near future!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Oh Happy Day!

Happy Independence Day!

I'm still free. This, despite engaging in flagrant open container violations while standing across the street from the local fire station.

Our new place is located in just the perfect place to not quite see the fireworks displays from either our town or the next one over without going east or west two blocks in either direction.

The street corner across from the fire station turned out to be the best place to stand to see some smattering of legal fireworks whilst celebrating a legal holiday that falls on a Goddamned Wednesday with no hope of a day off on either the day before or the day after (Bitter? Me? No! I'm not arrested. I'll take that.) Several of my town's finest were out there watching the display. None of them seemed to care that Mr. Scoop and I were each carrying about a half liter of sweet, sweet booze apiece to ring in the day.

Mr. Scoop takes comfort in the fact that, as long as the cops don't care, the street is the last place he can have a drink and a smoke at the same time without catching hell or a fine.

God bless America.