December 28, 2011

Papa Hassan's Grill

For the first time with this blog, I wasn't quite sure where to start with the writing. I knew how I wanted to finish and what pictures to put up, but the opening lines.....I drew a blank. I couldn't think of a witty line to open with or a famous quote that would tie into this. In fact, I'm not really a "Quote" person. Some people have quotes for every day of the year. I mean, I know a few quotes, but I don't go around spouting  them off like some....wait a minute. Where am I going with this? Oh yeah, FOOD! That's what's I'm trying to get at!

Papa Hassan's Grill is the name of the place. It's located on Brookhurst St. in Anaheim,  CA. It's in a tiny strip mall sandwiched between a Sizzler and a tobacco shop. I had been to this place once before and found it by pure luck. I was driving around looking for a place to eat and stopped in the shopping center. At first I was just gonna do the salad bar thing at sizzler. But I saw the place next to it and took a chance. Turned out to be a pretty good find.

My first time there I had a beef shawerma sandwich. If you know me on Facebook, you probably saw me post a picture like this sometime ago.

As soon as you walk into the place, that is what you see. Aint it just gorgeous???

As awesome as that looks, I wanted to try other items on the menu to see what this place is all about. The menu had a nice variety to it. A good number of vegetarian options as well as a few things thrown in to ease curious americans into trying something new. Example: Burgers.

Now, my first thought seeing burgers on the menu was "BURGERS?? Why in the hell would I wanna order a burger here with all this other good food here?". But upon reading the descriptions for the burgers, I saw that they are heavily spiced and nothing like the run of the mill burgers so many of us run into. Next time I go there, I'm probably gonna try one. I might not write about it though. I may keep that just for me. :)

So, when it came time to order, I decided to try an appetizer and a panini. First up, the app! I ordered the Batata Harra. It's diced potatoes that are fried and tossed with cilantro and garlic. It comes with a small cup of hummus and a few slices of pita.

Truth be told, I felt that this dish fell flat. I was expecting a strong flavor with the spuds, but it wasn't there. I thought the hummus was ok, but they could've done more the potatoes. More cilantro, more garlic, more SOMETHING! Not quite the way I wanted to get this going.

Next up: Sujuk! That is the name of the panini on the menu. Armenian sausage with pickles and tomatoes.

Now, lets be honest. This is probably NOT the picture you had in mind when I said panini. You probably had an image of something that you might get from Corner Bakery or Panera. A square sandwich that has perfect grill marks and could make the cover of any food magazine. Guess what? This aint that kinda place.

I can't recall ever having Armenian sausage before. I have had ground lamb patties from some Indian and Pakistani friends that I had. This sandwich took me back to that. Very simple at first glance, but the flavor was a bit complex. I couldn't put my finger on the spices in it. What I do know is that it had just a hint of heat to it. After a few bites, you would start to feel it. Overall, I liked it. Good flavor and filling. You can't ask for much more.

What I forgot to mention at the beginning is that this took place before I went in for work. By the time I finished the sandwich, I had about 20 minutes before I had to leave. I looked at the menu a bit more to see what I might check out next time. Next to the register, written in pencil, they had a short list of drinks they served. One of them was Turkish Coffee. I asked the guy how it was, and he told me it was like espresso, strong, but with a hint of sweetness. I still had some time, so I went for it.

The place got a little busy, and about 7 or 8 minutes later, I got my coffee. As a rule of thumb, when I try new foods or coffees or teas, I don't add any salt or sugar on first taste. I want to see how it is on its own. I took a sip of the coffee was amazing. AMAZING!!! My eyes widened, my jaw dropped a bit and I sat back in my chair. I could not believe how GOOD this was! The guy at the register was not kidding around. It was super smooth with a slight hint of sweetness that just slides across the palatte. The little silver pot next to the cup? More coffee!!

I added a little sugar to it, and it was perfect. All I wanted to do at that point was get my sudoku book and put my headphones on and CHILL THE FUCK OUT! Then I looked at my watch and I only had 6 minutes before I had to leave to go work! Shit!

With what was in the little pot, I got about 3 shots of coffee, and drank all three. Lets just say I had more than enough energy for work!

That's all for this post. Now I think I'm gonna run a marathon until I come down from this caffeine high! Haha! Just kidding!  I'm out!!!

J. Miller

December 22, 2011


Well friends, It's time for something a little different. No dish that I prepared this time. No restaurant review. I guess you can call this one an editorial. Or you can sum it up to a bitch session. Call it whatever you want. Point is, I got some stuff on my mind I wanna get out. I'll try not to bitch too much, but I'm not promising anything.

Now, the main point I'm going after is balance in food. But to get to that point, I gotta start with something else.  Trust me, it will all come together.

First up to bat: Food Trends.

Food trends come and go just like other trends. Some are gone before you know it. Some catch on, and inspire new ideas and techniques. And just want to find who started it so you can beat the hell out of them. Case in point: Cake Pops

Simply put, I can't stand these fucking things. How is shoving a stick in a truffle so damn popular? I really don't get it. When searching for a pic to put up, I saw some really insanely detailed cake pops. Some looked like elves, dogs, cats, mr. potato head, all kinds of crap. So much detail for something so small.

But why the need to put it on a stick? Why is the stick so important with this? I don't remember people going this far with your average chocolate truffle. But shove a stick in it, and people will spend hours decorating it. I don't get it.

Not all food trends mystify me though. Take for instance cupcakes. Personally, I don't care for cupcakes that much. If I want cake, I want a slice of cake. But I understand how people like them though. Small, easy to handle portion. Lots of flavor options and quickly brings up fond childhood memories. They really sell themselves.

The next trend that has me a little concerned is about the top picture for this post. Salted caramel. Not just salted caramel, but salted desserts in general.

Now, let's get a couple things straight. I like the taste of salted caramels. I think it cuts through all that richness just right.

Another thing is that I was taught the yin and yang of cooking. For something savory, a pinch of sugar. For something sweet, a pinch of salt.

But this salted dessert thing is starting to go too far. In a cooking magazine, I saw some recipe for salted brownies. Another for salted chocolate truffles. Really???

My main issue is that everyone is scrambling to get a salted caramel dessert on their menu, all the while knowing that this is a country knee deep with HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE!! We get more than enough salt from all the other foods we consume. Now we gotta start topping our desserts with salt?

My belief on this push for salt has to do with this new, unrealistic idea of what balance in food is. The salted caramel works. It does balance all that sweetness. But this new idea of balance that food network and shows like Top Chef push is insane. They expect every single taste sensation and every single texture type in one single bite. It just can't happen. If it could, it probably would taste pretty bad.

Theses assholes in the above picture are a prime example of what I'm talking about. Everything they try, they always say, "This needed more acidity" or "This was missing something". I'm sorry, let me go cook a steak that's salty, sweet, spicy, tangy, and full of umami that is soft, firm, AND crunchy. Oh yeah, you want that medium rare?

One my favorite desserts is a New York style cheesecake. I can't imagine taking a bite, then saying "This would be great, but it's missing something really crunchy and needs umami.".

See, I told you it would all work out in the end. With the holidays here, I'm going to take a short break from this. Next post won't be here until after Christmas. Probably a week from now. In any case, you'll know on Facebook.

Thanks for reading my short rant. YES, this is a short rant. I could go on and on about those damn cake pops. Anyway, Happy Holidays and have a great time with those closest to you.

Take Care,

J. Miller

December 18, 2011


Before I get started, there's a lil something I gotta say. Thank you. First off, to all you who have taken to the time to come by and visit my little spot on the web. I'm almost up to 100 hits and that feels pretty cool. Thanks for checking back in. Next I wanna say thanks for the compliments I've gotten from friends and family about my writing. For me, that's a shock to hear that. Believe me, english was my WORST class in high school. I used to hate writing. I was the one that would stare at a blank page with no clue how to get started. Yet with this, I have no trouble getting started. I don't do any rough drafts or anything like that. I just sit my ass in front of the computer and try to keep up with my thoughts.

Besides age and a little wisdom gained, the biggest difference between high school Jason and current Jason is "Wants". Now I know what I want in life. I didn't know what the hell I wanted in high school. I knew I didn't want to be in class. I knew I didn't want to do any damn homework. Now, life is a bit more clearer. It's easier to see what I want and what I need. I don't think I needed to start this blog, but I certainly want to.

Lastly, a special shout out to my future baby-mama at work, Sammy. If wasn't for her, I wouldn't have made this dish tonight. Today at work I asked Sammy "Should I make something myself for the blog, or just go eat somewhere and write about it?". She quickly responded, "Make something! You did the restaurant thing last time.". So, thanks Sammy for setting me straight!

And for the record, I'm kidding about the whole baby-mama thing. She's just the homie like that. ;)

With all that's been said, it's time to get down to business.

A frittata is like a big, open faced Italian omelette. You can use all the same ingredients as in an omelette. In most cases, a frittata will have a starch included, such as potato or pasta. Once the eggs are introduced to the pan, you usually stir for a few seconds, let it cook a little bit to set the bottom and sides. From there, you top it with a little cheese and slam it in the oven until cooked through, which shouldn't take too long. Let it cool for a few, then slice into it like a pie. Done.

The above picture I grabbed online. That's what I would call a medium to light thickness for this dish. I saw Alton Brown make one that was almost paper thin. But, the first one that I had was about the size of a healthy portion of lasagna. It's really up to you on how big or small you wanna make this thing.

With so many variables on how to make this thing, I'm not going to write an exact recipe for what I made. A frittata doesn't need a recipe. It's more of a concept than an exact thing. You got some left-over veggies you need to use up? Make a frittata! You like omelettes but scared to flip the eggs in the air? Make a frittata! Got some people staying over and need to feed 'em something before giving them the boot? MAKE A FREAKIN' FRITTATA!

Clearly this is a dish for many occasions. So here's what I did for mine. I started by chopping up some onion and red bell pepper and sauteing them for a short time.

Once the onions turned clear, I added some diced canadian bacon to the mix.

When the bacon got a little color, I took the mix off the heat and set to the side. I had a day old baked potato, so I got most of the skin off and sauteed that for a little bit to bring a little crispy and heat to it. When the taters were good, I added the first mix to it.
After combining the first two mixes, I spread the mix evenly in the pan. From there I added 7 beaten eggs to the pan. I stirred the eggs just a little bit, but let the heat from the pan do most of the work. I then topped the whole thing with a couple hand fulls of cheese. From there, into the 375 degree oven it goes.

To be honest, I wasn't paying attention at how long it was in the oven. If I had to guess, I would say 7 to 10 minutes. It may look like a lot from the pics, but I'm just using a 10" sautee pan.

Once done, it rests for a few. Then it gets sliced. Then it gets eaten. :)  For real, you can top it with whatever you want. I went simple. Sour cream and chives.

And there it is. This is something that can be as good as your imagination can make it. Or it could be a way to make good use of left overs. It's up to you.

That's it for this one. Hoped you enjoyed it. Please feel free to leave comments. I'm all ears and ready to listen.

Take Care,

J. Miller

December 14, 2011

Thai Food

Today I went to a small Thai restaurant named Cuti. The above picture is from the inside of it. This place is located on the corner of Euclid and Chapman in Garden Grove.

Now for a little back story on this location. I've been living where I'm at now for about 5 1/2 years now. In that time, I've seen that restaurant spot change hands about 3 or 4 times. I know it's been a boba shop before. I think it was even a Chinese restaurant at one point.  Point is, that spot might not have the best history. I will say this though: I have never that spot look so good.

Now, before you run over there, a small warning. The parking is terrible. There are only a few spots available, plus you have 3 other places for food and drink in one little corner shopping center. I went around 1p.m. and had to park across the street.

History and warnings aside, it's time for the good stuff. FOOD!!! 

After being seated, I was given a menu and got a few minutes to check it out. Honestly, it didn't look bad at all. Everything sounded pretty good, the prices were reasonable, and they had a 1-3 heat level for certain items.

One thing that did catch my attention was the appetizer menu. And it probably wasn't for one of the best reasons.  Out of 6 or 7 items, only 2 were NOT deep fried. Don't get me wrong, I love fried food as much as the next man. But to have all your apps deep fried seems like a little bit of overkill.

When I got to the back of the menu, I found the lunch specials. That's I what I went for. It was like most places, smaller entree' portion with a soup or salad. I ordered the Pad Thai noodles. I know, how predictable! But I love 'em.  And it's a good tester to gauge how other dishes might fare.

First up, vegetable soup and iced tea.

The soup was good. Not great, not bad. I did like that the veggies still had some crispness to them and weren't completely limp. The tea was.....very good! I was pleasantly surprised at how flavorful their unsweetened tea was. I didn't add any sugar to it. It was that good.

Now for the main course.

I think the picture says it all.  Noodles, bean sprouts, peanuts, and rice. It was delicious. Great flavor and great amount of heat. Not too much, just enough to make sure that drink isn't too far away.

This was a great meal. I was gonna go more into the flavor of the noodles, but I feel like I don't need to. It was freakin' good! That's it!! And one the best parts was the price. Soup, main course and drink cost me $7.05. THAT'S IT!! And I was stuffed!

Overall, cool place to go to. When I was finished, a lady, who I am going to assume is one of the owners, came up to me and said "Thanks so much for coming. Please let me know if you didn't like anything so we can improve on it.".  I thought that was cool.

Thanks for reading and I'm gonna keep posting up my little food experiences.


J. Miller

December 11, 2011


Grits rock. Plain and simple. I can never seem to get enough of them. Yet I always run into people who have never had them. The only thing I can really do is tell them to just take a chance and try them.

Often times I'll ask someone who hasn't had grits if they have had polenta. And the usual response is: "Yes! I love polenta!" Then my usual response is "Then why the hell haven't you tried grits??? What the fuck is wrong with you???" OK, that's not my usual response, but that's what I'm usually thinking. The fact is, polenta and grits are very similar.

Like polenta, grits can be handled in lots of ways. You can serve them once they are done cooking. You can pour them into a tray to cool, then slice and saute'. Plus, you can season the hell out of grits. They are very good at absorbing flavor.

My favorite way to have them is probably the most traditional. Butter, salt and pepper. Throw in some scrambled eggs, a hot link and a biscuit or toast, and that equals up to one happy negro. :-)

One of the coolest ways I've cooked grits was to bread and deep fry them like a mozzarella stick. I got the recipe from the Thomas Keller book "Ad Hoc at Home". I lost the exact recipe, but with google, I'm sure it won't be that hard to find. I suggest picking that book up and taking a long look at it. Thomas Keller is the man. And to see a book from him that is pretty much all comfort foods is awesome. His technique alone is worth checking out the book.

I don't have any fancy pictures this time. But the picture I do have is of a very practical application: My lunch for work. Grits and a hot link. Gets the job done every time.

That's it for this post. Now I'm gonna leave you with a song based around grits. Ya see that? How many foods have songs based around them? That's why grits rule!

I'm out!!!

J. Miller

December 7, 2011

My Ode To Musubi

What you see up top is one of the best "on the go" foods ever created. Spam Musubi. That's right, spam! That meat in a can that seems to stay fresh for a very long time. Yet this humble little meal in your hand has a special place in my heart.

Years ago, for a short time, I lived on the island of Maui. Not long after arriving, Maui had stolen my heart. It was just beautiful. The travel shows get close to showing you how awesome it is, but you really need to be there yourself.

When you get to Maui, or any Hawaiian island, you have to hit the beach! Don't even bother unpacking. Get into your board shorts or bikini, and hit the waves head first! But all that beach play will quickly wear you out if you aren't prepared. This is where musubi comes into play.

You get yourself a couple musubi, a big ass gatorade, and baby you are set! It's nickname isn't the "Hawaiian Powerbar" for nothing. Rice, meat, nori, DONE. It's so simple, but very satisfying.

I wanted to make something in honor of this tasty bite, but I didn't want to stray too far from it's origin. Since it basically looks like a big sushi roll, I went with that as my base. Here's what I came up with.

There is only one recipe I did myself for this, and that's for the avocado sauce. I will post that at the end.

First things first: cook your rice. I used the Japanese short grain variety. Follow the directions on the bag for that one. When the rice is done, toss it with a little rice wine vinegar. You don't have to go crazy with the vinegar. Just a little will do.

Next, slice your spam thin and cook until you get a light brown coloring on it.

When cooled, get a small ring mold and cut the circles out of the spam. The trimmings can be chopped up and thrown in some scrambled eggs. NO WASTE!!

Before you add the rice in mold, spray a little non-stick on the inside of the mold. No non-stick spray? Use a little vegetable oil. Either way, it will help keep that rice from sticking.

Now for the sauces. The dark sauce is Hoison sauce. You can find this stuff at almost any super market now. The green sauce is something I slapped together. Here's the recipe:

1/2          Avocado (not too soft)
1/2          garlic clove
1 tbs        sour cream
                Juice from half a lime
                salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs         veg. oil

Throw it all in a blender and go to town on it until smooth.
Now, if you feel that recipe is missing something, or just doesn't taste quite right, by all means tinker with it! I did that on the fly. Anyway, now you're ready to plate up! Have fun with it!

Until next time, Take Care.

J. Miller

December 5, 2011

Lets Get This Started

For all my friends and family from Facebook, I'm glad and thankful that you are taking a minute or two out of your day to come and visit my blog. If you don't know me and somehow stumbled upon this little spot in the world wide web, Hello. My name's Jason. Nice to meet ya.

I was very hesitant to start this. Mainly because I don't have the greatest opinion of most food bloggers. In fact, I think most food bloggers are assholes. Too many hacks out there who dropped out of journalism class at a junior college and have no real culinary experience slamming a restaurant because they didn't refill their water glass quick enough. I didn't want to be part of something that ugly.

After a little soul searching and encouragement from friends, I decided to go for it.

When I started coming up with ideas for what I wanted the blog to be about, I quickly realized what I didn't want the blog to be about. First off, this is not going to be strictly restaurant reviews. I don't have the time or money for something like that. In fact, it's not going to be strictly anything. What I'm really trying to do is just show a glimpse of how food is in and around my life. Sometimes I'm gonna talk about a lunch truck I happened to try. Sometimes I'm gonna talk about the dinner I made. I may just talk about a food trend I can't stand (i.e.: food popsicles).

Before I even started looking up sites to host the blog, I realized that this was a long time coming.

Years ago, somewhere around '99 and 2000, I used to visit a website based around all things hip hop. They had a forum section where people could talk shop. Who's hot, who's not, and everything in between. They had different rooms for each topic. One of the rooms was called The Rec Room. There, you could talk about stuff outside of the rap game. There, in the rec room, I would post a Recipe of the Week. Usually nothing too complicated. Sometimes it wasn't even a recipe. Just tips or tricks to enhance something mundane.

I did the recipe thing for a couple of months. After a while, I stopped due to lack of time and interest in that site in general. But looking back on it now, I see that this is something that might fit me well. My own little place on the web to talk and vent about food. And you know what? It doesn't sound bad at all.

To end my first post here, I'm going to give you a small warning. For those of you that don't know me that well, I have a dirty mind and a foul mouth. Don't be scared if you see a mention of donkey punching or mother fuckers in my post. I'll try and use the dirty stuff only when necessary. :)

On that note, I'm gonna end it here. Again, thanks for stopping by.  I hope that you come back soon and that I will post stuff that will make you wanna check back often.

Take Care,

J. Miller