April 26, 2012


Arepa! Arepa! WooHoo!! Every time I say that word I wanna yell and scream and act like a fool! AREPA!!! HOOOO!!! Ok, now that I got that out of my system, lets get this show rolling. That little concoction above is my first attempt at making arepas. What is an arepa? It's a cornmeal cake that I believe originates from Venezuela and Columbia. I'm not sure which one it is, and I don't think either country will admit that the other is the originator. In any event, arepas are very tasty and very easy to make. Seriously, it doesn't take a member of Mensa to put one of these things together. In fact, you don't even really need a recipe to make one. But, there is one main ingredient that you must have to accomplish this, and there is no getting around it.

Without this stuff, you aren't making arepas. It's as simple as that. What's in the bag is pre-cooked cornmeal. I'm not sure what P.A.N. stands for, but this is your main ingredient. You can find it in your Mexican food aisle in the supermarket. I got mine at Food 4 Less for about $2.50 or so.

If you search online, you can find a lot of crazy and elaborate recipes for this. That's cool and all, but the basic recipe only needs about 3 ingredients: P.A.N., warm water, and salt. The one I used added a pinch of sugar, which I totally agree with. Remember, it's all about balance.

The bag has a recipe on there, which works just fine. But, you don't have to really worry too much about that. When making this, you are really going by feel. You are gonna use your hands to mix it together, and when it becomes a soft dough, you are done. Then you shape it into a patty and pan fry for about 6 to 8 minutes on each side. Place on a paper towel when done to drain the excess oil and you are done. Let me break this down a little slower.

Start with about 1 cup of warm water. Add in about1/2 to 3/4 of a teaspoon of salt, and a good pinch of sugar. Use your fingers to get the salt and sugar mixed in. Now start stirring in about 1 cup of  the P.A.N. a little at a time. At first, it's going to seem like it's not doing anything. After you add about a half cup, it will get to the consistency of warm cream of wheat.

Keep stirring in the P.A.N. and soon it will start to pull away from the sides and tighten up. When it does this, it's about time to back off the P.A.N. If you add too much, it will seem really dry and crack around the edges when shaping your patties. If dry, then just add a bit more water.

You can shape these to whatever tickles your fancy. I kept it simple and just made them round.

Now it's time to cook. You are not trying to deep fry these things, but you do need to have enough oil in the pan to make sure the entire side is in oil. I learned this the hard way. The first batch came out a beautiful golden brown. There wasn't that much oil left in the pan and I thought it would be ok for the next batch. WRONG!! What ends up happening is that the few spots in oil are the only spots that turn colors, and you end up getting black, burned  spots in a few areas. No mess up pics to show you, but take my word on it. Here is what they should look like.

Some recipes say to throw them in the oven for a few minutes once out of the skillet, some don't. I did it just to be on the safe side. I'm not sure if it made a big difference.

Once it cools some, get a serrated knife and split down the middle. From there, feel free to stuff the shit out of it! For the top picture, I put in sour cream, cheese, and taco mix from the night before. And guess what? IT FUCKING ROCKED!!! The outside has this super crispy texture while the inside is nice and light. This is some seriously good eating!

One of the best ways to enjoy this warm, pocket of love (Wow! I need to start using that line more often!) is simply with butter. Corn and butter go hand in hand. This is no exception. Butter is rich on it's own. You add it to an arepa, and the richness jumps up 10 fold. It really is that good.

When my mom tried it, she was like, "It tastes like hot water cornbread!" Know what? She was right. It did remind me of that. For those of you not from the south or happen to be African American, you probably have no clue to what I am talking about. Well, it's....you are just gonna have to wait until next week when I make it! HA! Or just search google, which you will most likely do.

Two days after this first batch, I decided to try it again. This time I wanted to do something more breakfast or brunch oriented. Here is how I shaped them this time.

While that was cooking, I chopped up some onion and tomato. Once the arepas were done cooking, I made a quick omelette and cut it to fit the arepa. I just used one side of an arepa for this. Here is the prep station.

The greenery is basil. Once everything got on there, I sliced it in half on the bias and put a spot of sour cream on top. What do you think? Good for breakfast?

I thought it was good. And that's what counts, right?

I hope you liked this one. I had fun making it. Even more fun eating it. All in all, just know that you don't have to work hard to make really good food. When it comes to Arepas, you can add anything to it or nothing at all to enjoy it.

I'm out.

J. Miller

Oh yeah, AREPAAAAAAAA!!!!!!

April 19, 2012

Zankou Chicken

I first heard about this place not too long after I started my blog last year. I had mentioned that I went to a middle eastern restaurant, and one of my coworkers said "Was it Zankou's?" I said no. She told me it was down the road a couple miles and that the food was good and I should do it for the blog. I said "yeah, I'll have to check that out". Now, if you know me, you know that what I just said translates to "I'll probably never get around to it. If I do, it will be months from now." Hey, that's just me, and I really am trying to work on that. I'm only human, people.

Fast forward to just a couple weeks ago. I pass by this same girl at work, who we will now call by her name, Hannah. She says "You still haven't been to Zankou's yet, huh? What's your problem???" I said " I don't know!!" I then suggested that I'd be willing to go if she joined me after work. She said "That's fine. After work it is."

And that, my friends, is the story of how I got to eat at Zankou Chicken. Wait, I never said I was telling a story. Uh..........Lets just move on now, shall we?

Before we get any further, let's meet Hannah. She works in the same kitchen I do and is an all around cool person. Plus, she's got a thing for my lips. I don't even have those big DSL's either. I don't mind her looking though. :)

They got "Chicken" in their name, so I wanted to try something with chicken in it. Hannah recommended the kabobs, so I went with that. She ordered the chicken plate, I ordered the mix of beef and chicken.

When you order the kabobs, they tell you it's gonna take around 10 minutes to get your food. Reason being is that they cook all the kabobs to order. If it's going down like that, I have NO problems waiting for my food.

Here is what Hannah's plate looked like.

Here is what my plate looked like.

Have you ever gotten together with friends or family at a restaurant, and your laughing and talking and almost forget that food is there? Well, that's what kinda happened here. We got to talking and catching up on current events, and the food was really secondary. Now, that's not to take anything away from the food. It was very good. The chicken was cooked perfectly, the beef was on point, and I am really jealous on how creamy they got their hummus. I think I make a pretty mean hummus, but they got me beat. They also have this garlic paste that goes great with anything.

Really, it was chillin' with a homie after work. Now, before you start getting any funny ideas, she's got a man and my name aint Sancho. So don't go there.

All in all, I'll be back there to try more stuff. Good food at reasonable prices. Check it out if you ever head to Anaheim. Here is the address:

2424 W. Ball Rd. Anaheim, CA

That's it for now. Hope you enjoyed this one as much as I did. See you next time!

J. Miller

P.S. The whole "Lips" thing is a running joke I have with her.

April 17, 2012

"Classic With A Twist!"

First off, I want to apologize for the title. Every cooking show or food blog ever made has at least 1 show or post with that title. I didn't want to go down that road myself, but I honestly couldn't think of anything else that might seem close to relevant. Titles are really a side-note for me. I guess I should care more for "search" purposes so I can get more hits, but it's not that big of a deal to me. Oh well.

What you see above is a grilled cheese sandwich with sauteed chicken and caramelized onions, and tomato soup with chives. It is also something I wasn't even going to do a post on. At first, I made all this with the clear intention of this making the blog. But after I made it, I didn't like the idea of doing something so many have done a million times over. So, I just saved the pictures and put it on the back burner.

When I was trying to figure out what to write about this last weekend, I came across the pics and almost felt a little bad for not posting this sooner. It actually turned out to be a very tasty and satisfying meal. So, with all that thought of, I said "Fuck it". This could be my "Pluto Nash" of blog posts. For those of you that don't know, the movie Pluto Nash was filmed and then shelved for a year or two before being released because movie executives new it sucked balls and didn't want to release it. Somehow it hit the theaters and became one of the biggest flops of all time. So here it is, my shelved and now released blog post. If 10 people read this, that will be twice as many people that paid to see Pluto Nash in the theater.

And for the record, Eddie Murphy should cut off his right pinky finger to atone for that crime against humanity.

The real reason I ended up making this was because I wanted to caramelize onions. Up to that point, I had never made it before. I've enjoyed them on burgers at restaurants. I've seen them done on TV more times than I can count. I knew eventually I was gonna have to get in the kitchen and give it a go.

I did this a while back, so I may be a little sketchy on a few details here. Please bear with me on this. :)

I think I used a white onion for this. Could have been yellow. I'm not sure at this point. I tried to slice them as evenly as possible so they can cook evenly. I sliced two whole onions and dropped them into a pan with about 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil and at medium-high heat. I sprinkled some salt on top and sauteed the onions for about 2 or 3 minutes with constant agitation. Then I turned it down to a very low simmer and just stirred every so often. Here is the progression of the color change for the onion.

As you can see, what starts off as a lot turns into a little. This whole process took around 45 minutes or so. And that's ok. Some things are going to take time. Try and remember that you are not in a race. Just relax and let the food and heat do what it has to do.

When I finally shut the heat off, I had gotten the onions a tad darker. I've seen some caramelized onions that were almost as black as the skillet I cooked the onions in. The truth is, you don't need to get them that dark. Just as long as you get the sweetness out of them, you will be in good shape.

When it came time for the grilled cheese sandwich, I used a 7 grain bread with cheddar and provolone cheese. I had some left over chicken thighs and put those on there as well as the caramelized onions.

As far as the soup goes, I have Campbell's to thank for that.

When I finally sat down and took a bite of the sandwich, I realized I should have used a sharper cheese in it. Both cheeses were mild. And mild plus mild just equals really mild. It wasn't bad, it just needed something with a little more kick to really stand against the sweetness of the onions. All in all it still was a good sandwich.

Wait a minute, aren't I supposed to go nuts and rant about how good my food is? Ok, fine. YES, I loved it. It was the best sandwich ever. I hugged it. I kissed it. I contemplated sticking my dick in it. Happy now?

All in all, I'm glad I made the onions. They go great with just about anything and it was a learning experience.

Hope you enjoyed this little episode. I'll be back sooner than you know it, so don't go too far and check back often.

Take Care,

J. Miller

April 8, 2012

Food Truckin' It Part 3!

Here we are, folks. The end of a short, yet exciting, story has come upon us. As much as I hate to see this come to an end, I know that it has to. Reason being is that this was just a moment in my life. A good moment, to say the least. But just a moment. And that's really how I try to see life, a series of constantly changing moments. Some good, some bad. Some never seeming to end, and some leaving you thinking that you will never have a moment like that again. Wait a minute...isn't there some song where a chick is singing about a "moment like this" or some shit like that? Dammit, I think there is. OK, enough with this "moments" shit. Let's get to the food, shall we?

What we have is the Piaggio truck. Or Piaggio on wheels. Or Piaggio: Gourmet on wheels. I honestly don't know what their exact title is. A quick search on google, and all three came up. What I do know is that they are an Argentine taco truck and chimichurri is one of their claims to fame. When I first saw the name on twitter, I thought it said "pigeononwheels". What I hadn't seen was this truck at any featured spot locally. Let me break this down a little.

On twitter, certain locations will advertise on a weekly basis that food trucks will be at that spot. They will post address, time, and all attending trucks. I had never seen this truck going to any location remotely close to the area that I live in. To see it just a few feet away did pique my interest.

If you have been following the story, you know that I have already downed 2 sliders, some tater tots, and a hot dog. I'm pretty much at capacity. But a part of me kept saying "I may never see this truck again.". So, full belly and all, I walked up and started examining the menu to find something to try.

I don't know much about Argentine food, so I was up to try something new. They had "Chimichurri" all over the truck, so I knew that had to be on whatever I was going to get. What first caught my eye was their Argentine sausage sandwich. Sausage, chimichurri, in between french bread. That's it. Simple. So I ordered that, and the lady told me it would be a few minutes. No problem.

Then the second thing caught my eye. It wasn't food or prices. It was the people working on the truck. More precisely, their age. The lady that took my order looked like she was in her 50's. The guy working the grill looked to be close in age. Now, for the record, I don't hate old people. Sometimes they may slow you down or smell funny, but I don't hate 'em. It was just that it's certainly not the norm in the food truck world.

If you see who's working a food truck, 9 times out of 10, it's a bunch of twenty or thirty-somethings bouncing off the walls because they are hopped up on redbull, espresso, and possibly cocaine. To see some older cats putting it down was a nice change.

Have you ever been to an Italian or Chinese restaurant, and with a quick peek in the back, you can see someones grandma or grandpa in the back? I see that, and it puts me at ease because I know they been making whatever it is longer than I've been alive. Odds are you will be in for a treat.

To sum it up: Old folks in a kitchen is good. Old folks driving slow on the road is bad!

Where were we? Oh yeah, my sandwich! Here it is!

I sat down and took a bite. I then realized two things: This simple sandwich had a complex flavor and there was no way I could possibly finish this. I can't recall trying chimichurri before, but I knew I liked this green, garlicy stuff on this sandwich. As good as that was, that sausage was something else. It didn't come right at you, like an Italian sausage. It was subtle, yet the flavor lingered on the palate for a bit. I can't quite describe it, but is was very good. The bread was nicely toasted to round everything out.

It's things like this make you appreciate the little things. No frills on this one. Just good food.

My only regret is that I didn't have the room to finish it. Maybe next time.

Well, that's it. No more surprises, no unexpected food flying at you. It's been a hell of a ride over the past few days. I hope you had as much fun reading this as I did writing about it. But know that while this little journey may have come to an end, Food And Such Things isn't going anywhere anytime soon. So stop by often and leave comments.

Take Care and Happy Easter or Passover or whatever it is you may do that day.

J. Miller

April 6, 2012

Food Truckin' It Part 2!

Here we are people! Part 2 of this sizzling, three day epic culinary journey! Wow, that makes this whole thing seem a lot nicer than the brutal truth of what is really going on here. But we aren't gonna talk about that now. We are gonna talk about this green and black monster in the above picture. This is the Dogzilla truck. And you guessed it, they are knocking out the hot dogs.

I had no idea that another truck was gonna be at the same location as the Burnt truck. Was I surprised? Not really. Most of these gourmet trucks run in packs. It's better for business and I see nothing wrong with this in any way.

This time I actually took a picture of some of their menu. Here's what I got.

I had never seen this truck before this day, but as soon as I saw this menu, I knew what I was going to try. The Loco Moco Dog.

For those of you that don't know what a loco moco is, I will explain. It's origin is as a Hawaiian box lunch. It usually starts with 2 scoops of rice, 2 hamburger patties, brown gravy, 2 over-easy eggs with a side of macaroni salad. To sum it up, it's a heart attack in a to-go box. But it fucking rocks. I lived in Hawaii for a short time, and I can still remember my first loco moco. I remember opening up the box and thinking "Holy Shit! All this food for 6 buck?!?!". Seriously, it's a lot of food. But so, so good. When they talk about food that will stick to your ribs, this is what they mean. When I finished the meal, I didn't want to move. Even to take a piss. I figured my pants were dark, maybe no one would notice.

Seeing that they had a take on a loco moco just brought back all those wonderful memories of Hawaii. I had to try it. They had some side orders, but I wasn't interested in trying anything else.

I stepped up and made my order. The guy taking the order was like "Yeah bruh, you gonna like this one."

Here is the Loco Moco Dog in all it's glory.

To be safe, I grabbed a fork and a wad of napkins with me before heading back to the car. I considered using the fork, then I said screw it. I picked it up and ate it like any other dog. The first couple bites were mostly dog and onion. Both were good. At this point, I really started to hit the egg and spam and gravy. 

Honestly, it seemed that the spam and hot dog almost blended together. I was expecting it to stand out, but it was more of a side note. The gravy was a tad on the mundane side, which is fairly common ground with the loco moco. What was a nice touch was the runny yolk. Once it broke, and you get that with the grilled onions and hot dog, it really does create something special. 

The final touch is with the nori. There was just a little sprinkled on there, but it added a great, subtle touch to the whole thing. It really added that extra little something to it. I might have to start using that on dishes I make at home.

When I finished eating, I managed to roll my ass back to the truck to let 'em know I liked it. 

Let me just say this: The guys that run this truck are really cool dudes. I say this because 1. They are cool dudes. and 2. Not all food trucks have friendly people working there. They were in between customers, so one of the guys came out the truck and we talked for a little while. He told me how when they first started, it was just a weekend thing, maybe twice a month. Then, after they saw how they were doing at local fairs, they took the plunge, quit their day jobs, and did the truck-thing full time. A year and a half later, here they are.

When a few more customers showed up, he had to get back to work. At this point, I really didn't want to move that much, so I figured I would go sit down to some coffee and sudoku, and let that food settle.

I drove just a couple blocks down to the Starbucks on Chapman, located near a Best Buy and Wendy's. As I pull in, I see another food truck in the parking lot! This one is......

You really think I was gonna tell you now? HA! You should know better! But don't cry too much. Tomorrow, we will reach that sweet, sweet climax of this incredible journey. Hopefully at the same time! Until then, have fun my friends!

J. Miller

Food Truckin' It Part 1!

What you see above is the first truck in a fun filled trilogy that will have you salivating like a virgin in a strip club. If you have never tried food from one of these trucks, or any food truck, before reading this, you will leave here and find yourself on twitter following as many of these things as possible. And you know what? I will understand you completely. And then I will smile, knowing that I am the reason for your new addiction. I will be the reason you finally put your GPS Navigation app on your phone to good use trying to locate your favorite truck. I will be the reason behind your steering wheel always having a slightly greasy feel to it. HAHAHAHA! All this power I have is really getting the blood flowing to the nether regions! But before all this happens, lets take a little time to talk about the food. :)

I had heard about this truck from a friend and decided to follow them on twitter. Sure enough, I got lucky and saw they were gonna be just around the corner from the Block.

I wasn't quite sure what their menu was, but I had heard that sliders were their main staple. Hell, you can't go wrong with a slider!

Upon stepping up to the truck, I see the menu. The first thing that catches my eye is the fried chicken slider. Why did this catch my eye? I don't fucking know!! Was it because my negro dna instincts drew me to the fried chicken? I hope to god that's not the case! I'd like to think that it's because fried chicken just tastes good.

Then I saw their combo deal. 2 sliders, fries or tater tots, and a drink for $8. Not too shabby. I told the girl working on the truck (Who happened to be very cute, by the way) that I was gonna go with the combo. I ordered the chicken slider, but asked her what I should try for the second slider. She recommended the Korean bbq. That sounded good to me, so I went with it. I got the tots and a bottle of water. Here is what I got.

I added the sriracha to the bbq slider, but that's it right there. I first tried the tater tots and they were good. I can't even remember the last time I had tater tots. It was a nice little treat.

Next I tried the the bbq slider. I gotta say that this was a very good slider. My only other comparison that I could make is with the Korean bbq from the Kogi truck. I think the Kogi version might be better, but not by much. Both are worth every penny. It was very tender and easy to tell a lot of time went into it.

Last up was the fried chicken. On top of the chicken is a white gravy. On the bottom is garlic mashed potatoes. All this is between a King's Hawaiian Roll sliced in half. I took a bite and...it was...it was....outstanding. Just fucking incredible. Everything was spot-on. This really tasted like a family dinner in one bite. After taking about 2 bites, I put it down and ate everything else there. I had to make sure that chicken slider was going to be my last bite.

I've tried a good amount of food from various food trucks, and I can easily say that fried chicken slider is one of the best things I've had. I can only think of 1 or 2 other things that impressed me that much. I highly recommend this one.

But, things didn't end with this. There was another food truck at this same spot. What was it? You will have to come back tomorrow to find out! So make some calls, tell a friend or 3, and let them know that it's all going down at Food And Such Things!

J. Miller

April 3, 2012

Buffalo Wild Wings

To all of you that are coming back for another awesome post by this awesome negro, Welcome Back! For all you visiting my little home on the web for the first time, I'm glad you stopped by. Kick off your shoes, put your feet up and relax. We got all the time in the world, so there's no need to rush anything. I'm gonna start this thing off with a famous hip hop quote: "Relax your mind and let your conscious be free."

This week, my journeys landed me at Buffalo Wild Wings at The Outlets at Orange (Formerly The Block at Orange). From talking with the bartender, I learned that they had only been open for maybe a month. And to be honest, it was easy to tell. Every server had a newbie shadowing them. You could the see the deer-in-the-headlights look on their faces as they tried to ring up an order. Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking the place for training it's staff. That's a good thing. It's just seeing that nervousness in them makes me think of when I first started my job. I was scared shit-less that I was gonna burn something and be fired on the spot! Luckily, they don't fire you for that. They just take you out back and beat you with a water hose.

For this adventure, I had the lovely Michelle with me. We go way back and she's always up for trying a new restaurant. There's no pic of her up here because I forgot to ask if it was gonna be ok to do that. So you are gonna have to wait to see her. :)

After getting the drinks, out came the appetizer. Fried mushrooms.

It came with a mildly spiced aioli as a dip. To be honest, I could have eaten 3 orders of those things on my own. We tore through those 'shrooms within' a few minutes. Very tasty and went perfectly with the beer I had (Stella Artois). I strongly recommend these to start your meal.

Now for the main course. It was an easy choice to pick the wings with the bone in. What took some thinking was what kind of sauce for the wings. This place offers a big variety of sauces and levels of heat to please almost everyone. Me, I wanted to go for the heat. Michelle doesn't do heat, so we came to a compromise and split up a larger order 3 ways. This way we get to try more flavors and I still get to have some really hot wings.

The top picture is of the wings I had for myself, mango-habanero. The name alone gives you a clue to the taste. A little sweet, a little spicy. And yes, it was spicy. Not to the point of screaming "Get me the fucking milk! NOW!!", but it does get you sweating a little. But even with the heat, it had a really good flavor. The wings were very tender. Overall, a good sauce to go with.

Next up are the honey bbq wings.

This one was pretty standard. Nothing that's gonna knock your socks off. It tasted alright, but you quickly think to yourself "been there, done that".

Finally, the garlic-parmesan wings.

Before I tried these, I already had written these off as being more of the same thing at every other wing joint. Many places will cook their wings first, then toss them in garlic and herbs. When they do that, the flavor is really just on the outside. With these, the flavor was deeper. The whole wing tasted like garlic and parmesan, not just that first initial bite. My guess is a marinade. In any case, it was a good wing.

We also got some fries which were average at best. No need to really focus on those.

Overall, the experience was a good one. Our first bartender was kind of a tool, but he left half way through the meal. Loud music and tons of TV's for sporting events make this a nice spot for gameday. But there was one feature that caught my eye. One that not everyone gets to see.

Yes, they have TV's right above the urinals! Now you don't have to miss a second of the Superbowl or women's golf to use the bathroom! What a glorious time we live in!

Sadly, there are no TV's in the crapper. I know that day will come soon, my friends. Very soon....

Honestly, I got very lucky that no one was in there with me when I took that picture. There was NO FUCKING WAY I was gonna take a pic of some stranger taking a piss. That just says all the wrong things. And if someone had walked in while I was taking the picture, I'm not sure how I was gonna explain that either. But, like they say, timing is everything.

That's it for this episode. Hope you enjoyed what I had to offer this time around. Check back often to see what's going on this corner of the internet.

J. Miller