Monday, January 6, 2014

Bucatini all'Amatriciana: The Best Pasta and Tomato Sauce You Will Ever Eat

I first learned of this recipe in one of my first non-Betty-Crocker cookbooks, Mario Batali's Molto Italiano. I first made this about 6 years ago. For those of you who know me, you know that I rarely make the same dish twice. In fact, I get bored after 1 night, even if I like it. Life is short, and there are too many recipes to try.

So naturally, when I make something more than 3 times, you know its got to be GOOD. Don't take my word for it. If I lived alone, I might have forgotten about it by now. After all, its way too mainstream now, and I'm an irritating recipe hipster. But whenever I ask my husband, Dan, what I should make for dinner...he always, always requests "Bacon Pasta" (the much easier way to say "Bucatini all'Amatriciana"). Not just him - family and friends have asked for it time and again. So now, with this post, you can quit nagging me to make this dish, and make it yourself! But don't forget to invite me over...

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Happily eating my way through Portland

One of Portland's greatest mysteries is how a city full of such amazing and wondrous food and drink also contains some of the skinniest hipsters I've ever seen. Maybe it's an optical illusion. Or heroin. If I lived in this town, there is no way I could bike or jog my way to not gaining 25 pounds. There is nothing you can't find in this town. Beer. Wine. Beer and Wine. Meat. Vegans. Meat and Vegans. Clouds. Sun. Clouds and Sun (but mostly clouds). Incredible. If you've never seen Portlandia, download this show, my friends, as it is shockingly truthful. Food aside, you can have all the fun in the world just people watching alone. Even the 10 year olds are decked out in retro-80's punk eclectic garb. Frump is even trendy around here. I feel right at home.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Sriracha Smackdown Part II: Who Reigns Supreme?

Round 2 is complete! Folks, these results will knock you out of your chair.

But this time, I didn't run the show. Oz du Soleil, of DataScopic, took the lead on this round and built the most incredible interactive sriracha spreadsheet in history -  he also enlisted the help of Ashley Bower for the final design. (This is what happens when you get some data nerds like Oz and I to design a sriracha review). And we had some very special contributing judges - Griffin Hammond, the producer/director of the Sriracha Documentary, and Brian Meagher of Hot Sauce Daily! Round 1 judge Juli Johnston joined us again to contribute. We compiled the results LIVE through Google Hangout. What an awesome crew! 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Adult update of a childhood favorite: "Asian" deviled eggs

Forgive me and my gaijin offenses, these deviled eggs aren't Asian, and I don't claim them to be. But, by extension, loading up normally boring deviled eggs with oils, spices, and seasonings that I also tend to find in Asian-American cooking indicates that I might be able to call these Asian-inspired.

This reminds me of the time I went to Belgium last year and we ordered "filet americain" (akin to the French "steak tartare", or raw beef chopped and mixed with mayo, mustard, parsley, egg, etc) and someone was shocked to learn that 99% of Americans would never dream of eating raw beef (we are such a wimpy bunch). So why is it called American filet in Belgium? I'm still not sure, but when we asked our server one day at a train-station diner in Liege (where we had what I thought was the best filet americain on that trip. I lived to tell the tale), the answer seemed to be that Americans love hamburgers and filet americain was the consistency of hamburgers, and therefore seemed American. Seems legit.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Fish Tacos with Indonesian Sriracha

 So, I'm on a quest to find uses for 20+ bottles of sriracha from the Sriracha Smackdown, and I'm always curious if the srirachas taste better in food than on a plain cracker. Most folks feel pretty safe and secure with a fish taco served with something remotely Mexican, like Valentino, Tapatio, or Cholula. Well, sorry, ain't nobody got time for new hot sauces, let's look into the existing inventory!

ABC Extra Pedas, an Indonesian brand, only scored a 12 out of 19 on our original list. And in looking at the raw score, it was me that brought it down! Take away my taste score and discard the bottle art as criteria...and it was number 2 (and HT Traders wins). Well, there is a reason for that. This sauce has a time and place. And it is on a fish taco.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Sriracha Smackdown ROUND 2

Update 7/16/2013: The results for Round 2 have been posted by Oz! Check it out. Full SFB analysis coming soon!

And just when you thought it was over. There has been an outpouring of new data/recommendations on srirachas we didn't try. So you know what that means. ROUND 2!

How will this work? This time, we want more judges. And you don't have to be here. Here is the list of new brands we will be trying. If you can get your hands on any one of these, you can participate. We're going to limit Round 2 to about 5 more brands, and compare them with the results from Round 1. Blindfolding is optional.

Scoring will work the same as the last round so we can compare results - simply rank on overall taste (1-5), heat (1-5), bottle art (1-5).We'll run it through our algorithms and come up with the new winner.

Send me a note if you are interested in participating! And send me some additional srirachas! We may even do this live!

Here are the list of newcomers so far:

1.) Saigon Sisters T-racha Awesome Sauce (only available if you live in Chicago)
2.) Yuzu Pao Sriracha (only available online)
3.) "Pain is Good" brand (only available online and in some specialty shops)
4.) Dark Star Sriracha (only available online)
5.) Thai and True "Sarachee" (available online and in Oregon specialty shops)

We wanted to find Polar brand which was a winner on a recent Serious Eats sriracha contest, but they are out right now (probably had a run as a result of the blog).

We will also be re-testing the following brands with the newcomers:

1.) Huy Fong (available everywhere)
2.) Lee Kum Kee (available at many asian markets and some regular grocery stores)
3.) Sky Valley (Whole Foods sells this brand)

We will be doing this live at an upcoming Google Hangout!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Help support the Srirachumentary

Griffin Hammond, valorous independent filmmaker, has decided to pay homage to the holy grail of hot sauce, our beloved sriracha. Get ready for Sriracha the Documentary! Or shall we say... cockumentary? Griffin is pulling out all the stops - palling around with Randy Clemens (author of the Sriracha Cookbook... I smell a "cooked-through" project coming...) and David Tran (the inventor of the rooster sauce), and even travelling to Sriracha, Thailand to learn more about the original/authentic inspiration to the American version (we wonder if he'll be swayed by the well-scoring Sriracha Panich... or to other local brands we can test in Round 2).
You can check out more about the film on his page. For a 5 dollar donation through Kickstarter, you can get your name in the credits. For more, you can get a poster, pre-releases, video chats, etc.

Photo of the poster courtesy of Griffin and his fans.