Monday, June 21, 2010

Eating Out Fresh and Local

Howdy y’all! And a happy Monday to ya’s. I trust your weekends were mostly quite pleasant and involved enjoyable activities that dovetail nicely with the sunny and rather warm weather. Preferably scantily clad activities. Sadly, I myself was in a more pants-on sort of position.

But, it wasn’t all bad. There was of course some excitingly experimental (for me) cooking going on in the kitchen of love. The bounty of spring is tidal waving it’s way into summer and it’s been bashing it’s way past the levies of my laziness. A post all-nighter trip to the farmer’s market drained me of about 80 bucks, but left me awash in fresh blueberries, strawberries, squashes, eggplant, sprouts, lettuce, fresh bay leaves, sage. The usual rampage of far too much good stuff for me to conceivably eat in a timely manner.

And in our amble through all things dirt-born and delicious we discovered most happy news! Fabiano’s amazing coffees are going to be served at the bar at Charlotte’s BakerEatery’s new location at 609 E. Olive! I’m wildly excited for them! But I better still be able to buy my kona too, or I’m gonna be a pissy Mr. Bloggerpants…

Speaking of pissy! It’s official. EoF has made it’s very first hate-hardon. Remember that rant a while back about the assault of the food Gestapo at the Vineyard Farmer’s Market? Me neither! But apparently the property owner and instigator of the rant does. Have you ever seen someone, as they’re about to confront you, begin shaking like they’re about to either have an epileptic episode?  That, or they’re gonna freak you all night long.  And then their opening phrase is shrill and quavers like formerly mute rooster who just got his voice box back?

It was like that. I haven’t seen barely controlled rage like that since Hulk Hogan stole the beautiful Miss Elizabeth from Randy Machoman Savage, as she pops off with a “I’m surprised to see you back here.”. Huh? That’s a line a bartender uses the day after you lost a fight to the local King of the Watering Hole. Hardly a witty comeback to the pithy smartass that threw you under the bus for having poor public relation skills. Mainly, I don’t see where the fight is. She has an unpleasant attitude and likes to run all over the place and pretend that she’s the bespectacled Red Queen of Vegetable Town. So, I suppose in that light, I did lose. Because she certainly didn’t learn that she is her own and the market's worst PR rep. Still, it’s amusing that I have apparently not only gotten her goat, but I have shaved it, given it a pink mohawk and tattooed “Hot Stuff” on it’s butt. People with overblown egos are fun!

So with the good coffee news and a bit of a giggle we flee back to the Hobbit Hole for a leisurely nap and to consider the dinnerly options. And while the larder is stocked to the gills with fresh and delicious, we’ve also got a few items on their last legs that we gotta get cooked up. Number one on that list was a pack of fresh asian noodles that we had picked up. Pretty much undried pasta noodles. And it hits me. I freaking LOVE pan fried noodles. With not a damn thing on ‘em either. No sauce, no sprouts, no pork. Give ‘em to me plain and crunchy and yummy! So we’re gonna give that a try. Chicken sounds like a nice and simple protein, we can marinate it in something nummerly. And I did grab some nice salad greens from Il Giardino Organico as well as some sprouts from The Sprout Lady and a nice head of green lettuce. So maybe I’ll throw together a vinaigrette for that.


1 half package of fresh asian noodles from the Korea Market
Enough water for boiling
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce

First, boil the noodles as indicated on the package. Like 5-6 minutes. Then drain the noodles. I don’t rinse because I like them to be a bit starchy and sticky later. Now heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok or frying pan. Make sure the noodles are well drained or it can splatter on ya, so be careful true believers. Toss ‘em in and arrange them into a relatively even, round, mess and fry on med-high heat. They’re moist, so it’ll take a few minutes per side to get the toasty brown color you want. Once you’re almost ready to flip, sprinkle the uncooked side with soy sauce and the remaining oil and then flip. It’s ok if you can’t pull off the perfect pancake flip, if it breaks up on your spatula, just give it the best turn you can. It’ll still be delicious and done in a few minutes. Crunchy, chewy, sticky, with a hint of salt from the soy sauce. So good!

Farmers market salad with grapefruit walnut vinaigrette


1 bag of mild mix from Il Giardino Organico
1 head green lettuce
1 handful mixed sprouts, beans and flowers from The Sprout Lady
½ cup chopped walnuts


¾ cup grapefruit juice
¾ cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon honey from Bee Bob's
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 minced baby shallots from KMK Farms
1 clove minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced chives
2(ish) cups of olive oil

Combine all of the ingredients in a non-aluminum bowl except the oil and let come towards room temperature, about 10 minutes. Then whisk everything in the bowl together well. Afterwards, make sure your bowl is snug because this is a both hands move. While whisking like a madman, slowly drizzle in your 2ish cups of olive oil. Ish is because it’s to taste and until it’s emulsified. I like mine thin and tangy, some like theirs thicker and oilier. Your call, comrade.

Take all the salady stuff, toss into a bowl, lightly drizzle with the vinaigrette and toss again and serve!

Marinated chicken breast with soy lemon thyme sauce

2 chicken breasts
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 cup Ramos Torres muscato blend wine
½ cup rice vinegar
1 lemon
½ cup minced shallots
3 cloves minced garlic
3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoons minced fresh sage
2 tablespoons chili sambal
2 Fresno chilis
2 tablespoons minced chives
1 teaspoon corn starch dissolved into 4 tablespoons of water

Put your chicken breasts in a plastic bag and pour in all of your wet ingredients. Slice half of the lemon and place the slices into the bag along with the juice of the remaining half. Put in all of the herbs except for 1 sprig of thyme and 1 bay leaf. Slice the Fresno chili and add it along with the sambal and then seal the bag. Allow to marinate for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. I prefer the hour. Then take the chicken from the bag and add to a frying pan with 2 tablespoons of oil and cook covered until done. Depending on your hen-boob thickness that could be a short or long time. But nobody wants chicken tartare. Take your done chicken and set aside.

Now take all of your marinade goodness that you reserved and strain out most of the chunkies. I was able to do this mostly just by pinching the end of the mouth of the bag so it trapped most of the stuff while the liquid poured over. You could use a strainer too I guess. If you’re a pussy. But anyway! Juice in pan, use a whisk and whisk up any of the brown bits left from the chicken and toss in that last sprig of thyme and a bay leaf and simmer until it begins to reduce. Now, instead of fully reducing this (because it’d be WAY too salty) we’re going to thicken it with some corn starch. So get it to a nice bubbling simmer and adjust the taste to your liking, then begin to whisk in some of your corn starch slurry until your sauce reaches the consistency that you want. My first shot, I went a little overboard and wound up with a Gulf of Mexioesque gravy blob. But texture aside, the flavor was still nice over the chicken.

If I weren’t such a purist about pan fried noodles, I probably would have cut up the chicken and added it to them and then toss the whole affair with the sauce that we made. But I am. However you don’t have to be, so if you do wind up doing it, let me know if it’s as good as I would hope, or if it tastes like a bag of dicks. You never know until someone else tries it and complains, right?

So here’s hoping that you’re out there being insane and experimental. Saying “Damn the torpedoes and ladies in bad hats and lederhosen!”. There are already too many bad influences out there that make it seem inconvenient or messy or unfun or whatever, to make your own food. Fuck all that! Our farmers turn out far too many delicious delicacies. Far too much of the rare and never before seen. And I eat far too well to ever consider letting such small things and minds prevent me from enjoying one of my dearest pleasures outside of boobies. Haters gonna hate, eaters gonna Eat Out Fresno.