July 28, 2012

Cakes....Of Crab

When I hear the word "Cakes", I don't usually think of birthday or wedding cakes. Instead, I tend to think about its use as slang for...you know....ASS. Don't know what I'm talking about? Let me give you an example: I happen to be walking down the street with a good friend and we will pass by a lovely young lady. As she passes, we might notice that she has a large, succulent back side. I might be inclined to tap my friend on the shoulder and say "DAMN! Baby girl got cakes for days!!!" See what I'm getting at? Those are the kind of cakes that need my special icing. ;)

So why all the talk about cakes and ass? Truth is I'm stalling. Doing another post on crab cakes was not my first choice. In fact, I'm not the one that made the crab cakes for this post. My good friend Michelle is the one that made them. It was her idea to put them on the blog. I was a little reluctant, but then went a long with it.

I took a few pictures and those came out ok. But in the end, I had no info on what she put in there. I don't even know what the hell is in that sauce in the top picture! It's sour cream and....SOMETHING! Shit, I don't know! I couldn't even post a picture of her. "Don't take a picture of me right now! My hair ain't right!" She said some bull shit like that or something pretty close to it. In any case, there's no picture of her. Just know she's a cutie pie. :)

So, here it is Michelle! This one's for you!

We used the recipe from the older post as a base, but I'm not sure if we add all the ingredients. I think we also added baby shrimp to it as well.

Those aren't my hands! So, after she mixed it all together, she formed her patties and got the oil nice and hot.

To be honest, she made some healthy fuckin' crab cake patties! These things had some size to 'em! THAT'S NOT A BAD THING! I'm just sayin', Last time I made some dainty, petite lil' fuckers. She comes in and makes some manly crab cakes! I think I need to step MY game up.

At this point, a shallow pan fry is in store for these guys.

Once they hit the right color, set on a paper towel to grab that excess oil and eat when it cools down a bit.

Now that I think about it, she might have made two dipping sauces that night. But my brain is shit right now and I can't remember. I can barely remember what I had for lunch at work today. Oh well, what I can remember is that the crab cakes came out good and the sauce I had wasn't bad either.

That's about it for this one. I hope this post is ok for ya' Michelle. If it isn't.....GET YOUR OWN DAMN BLOG THEN!!!

Ha Haaaaaa! I'm out!!

J. Miller

July 22, 2012

The 50th Post!!!

It's finally here! The 50th post of the most underrated blog on the web: Food And Such Things. Who thinks it's underrated? I do, for one! Once you browse through some of the older posts, you'll be sure to agree with me. So lets get this party started!!!

Now that I got you here, I think we can get back down to earth. Sure, 50 blog posts isn't the biggest deal in the world. For people that post everyday, it's very small potatoes. For me, it's a pretty good accomplishment. I started this whole thing sort of as a hobby. My personal life was more or less in the crapper and I was really just looking for a distraction. I was already posting these long, drawn out food reviews on Facebook. I asked friends and family if doing a blog would be a good option, and everyone said "Yes". So, why am I making a big deal about this? Here's why...

Writing this blog really gave me something to look forward to. I'm always thinking "Maybe I should try and make this for the blog?" Or I will drive past a restaurant and think "I've never been there. Maybe I should do a review there?" These are now questions I ask myself all the time. And that's just fine.

The big accomplishment for me is the fact that I'm still doing this. To be honest, I thought for sure that after the third or fourth post I would leave this stuff alone and move on to something else. Instead, I kept wondering what else I could do on here. It was fascinating looking at the stats of my blog and seeing people around the world reading what I had to say. Every chance I had I was going on to the blogger dashboard to check how many hits I had gotten. I don't check as often as I used to, but I still grin a little when I see that the number has gone up.

One of the best surprises about doing this was that I've managed to find some foods that will forever be on my personal menu, like the homemade ricotta and spanglish muffins. After making those two items, I knew I could never buy them from the market again. They are just that damn good.

What I really want to do is just to take a quick look back at some hits and misses of my little corner of the web. YES, I'm doing one of those kind of posts. Don't like it? Well, what are you gonna do about it??? huh??? HUH??? Yeah, that's what I thought!!! Now get comfortable and enjoy this mutha fuckin' blog! DAMMIT!!!

This wasn't my first post, but it's one of my favorites. I had to talk about the humble meal of Grits. If that little fucker Alton Brown could dedicate a show to grits, I knew I had to do something on it.

That's such a bad picture, but I still like it!

As we jump forward, we are gonna see what would soon become my future mistress.

At this little place called Papa Hassan's Grill, I first discovered turkish coffee. I've been hooked ever since. It's got so much flavor and enough caffeine for 5 people, it really puts your average cup of coffee to shame.  I eventually did a post entirely on the coffee itself. 

As I look back at some of these, I also see a few where I really just half-assed it. This would have to be the shining example.

I did a post on doughnuts. Yeah......I......Uh.......Let's move on, shall we?!?!?!

When it comes to the food I've made for the blog, a good number of those dishes I had made before and felt pretty comfortable with. When I did venture out and try something new, it was a little exciting to possibly post a major fuck up. 

To keep from screwing the pooch too bad, I would look up at least a dozen different recipes before I would choose 1 recipe or form my own recipe based on all the different variations I would find. Nine times out of ten, I would get it right. I did screw up one attempt on a dish, but I haven't posted that yet. Don't worry, it's coming soon.

Out of all the posts that I've done, the one that has had the biggest impact is the homemade ricotta. I was never that big a fan of ricotta before. After I made it, I knew I was hooked. I make this stuff about every two weeks or so. So simple and so delicious!

And if you want to make good use of that ricotta, make some Gnudi.

There are other posts that have really stood out for me, but I'm happy with this little highlight reel.

Before I go, I want to say thank you to my second family, my wonderful work family. All the ladies and gents who have been kind enough to give me their honest opinions on the food I make as well as helping me with ideas for the blog. Not to mention that these folks have to put up with me on a daily basis! That alone should get them a hearty pat on the back. 

Of course, having the support of my family has always been a huge help. They always have my back and are willing to try anything I throw in front of them. Thank you guys so much for all the love.

Last, and certainly not least, thank YOU, the reader! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time out of your day to see what's going on in my world. Please feel free to leave comments and let me know what you think of the blog.

That's it for this very special episode of Food And Such Things. I hope all you enjoyed it and will check back often for updates. I'm not gonna stop doing this anytime soon. The day that this becomes a burden, I'm gonna post a long, curse-filled goodbye and call it a day. For now, I'm having too much fun.

I'm out!!!

J. Miller

July 16, 2012

Bruegger's Bagels

Bagels are something I don't really have as much as I'd like to. It's not like I have to put 100 different toppings on it to enjoy it. The only thing I normally put on there is cream cheese. Every now and then I might slice some some onions to put on there, but that's really about it. When I saw this place, I figured 'what the hell!' and decided I'd break out of my bagel routine.

In southern California, bagel shops aren't exactly high on the foods most wanted list. I think the main reason I went in there was because I was surprised to see a bagel shop in the first place. I lived in Fort Lauderdale, FL for a short time, and down there you'll find a bagel shop on every corner.

When I walked in, it was a little after 2 p.m., and the place was relatively quiet. They closed at 3 p.m., so I got a  little lucky in that regard. It had sort of a quaint, coffee shop feel to it. They offered free wi-fi and had a good number of seats inside and outside. Not too shabby!

The menu offered a wide variety of bagels and sandwiches, ranging from breakfast specialties to the savory side of things. I perused the menu for a minute and decided to go with a classic: Smoked Salmon.

The picture above is how it looked when it was given to me. To me, that looks pretty damn good. In fact, when the young lady handed it to me after she made it, the person in line behind me and myself gave her a compliment on her craft work. Hey, there's no harm in telling some one "Good Job".

I got the smoked salmon on an onion bagel. It also had tomato, red onion and capers.

Capers are one of those ingredients I tend to forget about. I like them, but it's not something I normally reach for or think "Man, this dish would be even BETTER with capers!". When I took a bite, I was a little surprised at how well the capers worked into the sandwich. It brought a nice "pop" of texture along with a hint of salty to the mellowness of cream cheese.

The smoked salmon itself was great. I've had some that are more salt or smokey flavor than fish. This salmon was incredibly tender and light in overall flavor. You could taste that it wasn't old salmon.

The only thing I felt this sandwich needed was a tiny drizzle of olive oil and some freshly cracked pepper. Even without those two items, it was still a great meal. If you happen to be in the Santa Ana-Costa Mesa area, give this one a try.

Bruegger's Bagels

2841 W Macarthur Blvd # E
Santa Ana
(714) 557-3855

On another note, my next post will be number 50. To be honest, I didn't think I would even be doing this for that long. If this is your first time seeing my blog or you have been following it for some time, I just want to say Thank You for taking the time out of your day to see my little corner of the web. I also would  like to invite you to come back in about 5 to 6 days to see the 50th post. It should be a doozy, that's for sure!

Until next time my friends!

J. Miller

July 10, 2012

The Waffle Breakfast Sandwich

This is actually a first for me. I'm writing this, and going to publish, right after I got through eating the food I'm going to review. Normally, I end up writing these within the week of going to the restaurant. But not this time. I still got the food in my belly, and I'm not screaming in pain or shoving people out of the way to get to the toilet. I would call that a good start.

What you see above is the latest breakfast sandwich unveiled by Jack In The Box. I think the name and the picture basically say it all. If I had to make a comparison, it would be to the McGriddle from Mcdonald's. Instead of pancakes as the outer layers, you have waffles. Not a bad start, in my opinion.

I walked in and placed my order. I would say it took about 4 to 5 minutes to get it. Anytime you order a waffle, don't expect to get it in 30 seconds. These things take time. When I did get my order, I sat down and unwrapped my food. This is what I was looking at:

Aside from a bit of bad photography, yes, that is a little bit of black crispiness on top of that waffle. Both sides had a little bit on there. That's not exactly a great start, but it's not a deal breaker either. I couldn't begin to tell you how many times I've gotten those Eggo Waffles a little too crispy.

Before I even took off the wrapper, I could smell the maple syrup coming from the waffles. I took a couple bites and realized that it wasn't as sweet as I was anticipating. I was expecting the same kind of sweetness like you would get in a McGriddle. I would say this sandwich had about 1/2 that sweetness.

Overall, it's not a bad breakfast sandwich. It did seem a lot lighter in the belly than other breakfast sandwiches, though. I felt like I could have downed a couple of those things easily. I like the idea of going with a waffle, but they need to be more careful with toasting them.

I would have liked a little more sweetness to the waffle. It had a good flavor and texture, but not enough of those maple crystals or whatever the hell they use to get that maple syrup flavor in it.

If you happen to stop by a Jack In The Box, give this one a shot. If you feel like the McGriddle is more than what you are looking for, or it's after normal breakfast hours, the waffle breakfast sandwich may be right up your keyster, uuhh, I mean alley. :)

J. Miller

July 6, 2012

Bao Down

As happy as I am with that picture, I have to admit that it is a tad misleading. Now, don't hit that "Next Blog" button just yet! Give me a chance to explain myself. Think of this picture above like the cover of a Lowrider Magazine. If you have never picked up the mag, they always have some hot chick standing next to a car on the cover. You pick it up and flip through it to try and see more of her, and at the most they have 1 or 2 more pictures of her! Well, that's what this picture is. Sadly enough, this is the only picture I have of this. It's basically a steak sandwich between steamed buns. That last part was the reason I did this to begin with. Steamed buns.

Cha Siu Bao, or steamed barbecue pork buns, is what I originally was shooting for. And when I say shooting for, I mean shooting blindly at a target about a mile away. I honestly didn't know what I was really getting into. I couldn't ever recall ever eating one previously. What I did know was that steamed buns are getting very popular these days. They are appearing on more restaurant menus and food trucks.

In my opinion, there is one chef who had a lot to do with the surge in popularity of the steamed bun. That would be Eddie Huang. He is the chef behind the restaurant BaoHaus in New York City. If you watch enough of the Cooking Channel, you are gonna see him on there. Talented chef, and a bit crazy too.

To switch gears a minute, I'm gonna give a little insight as to why I even tried this in the first place. I kept seeing it on TV and it looked good. I knew it involved a little baking, at least in the prep of the dough. And when it comes to baking, well, I can be a bit cocky. I thought "Shiiiiit! A dough?!?! I'll bang this shit out like some pussy! BANG!BANG!BANG!BANG!"

Of course, whenever I start getting a little too big for my britches, I tend to fuck things up. And that's basically what happened through out the making of the bao. In the end, it tasted good, but I know I could of have done better.

From the time I started making the dough, I knew I was in for it. I forgot to add the vegetable oil at the right time, and the dough got really weird. It was as hard as a rock! I knew that couldn't be right, so I added more water and flour until it seemed like it was ok. While the dough was fermenting, I got the fillings ready.

On the left side, I have Portuguese sausage, carrots and ginger. I sauteed that in a soy sauce mix I threw together. On the right is braised pork shoulder, garlic and onion. I sauteed those three in a Korean barbecue sauce.

After the dough doubled in size, I punched it down and divided it into 16 pieces. The recipe said to go either 32 pieces or 16 pieces, depending on how much filling you were going to use. After I wrapped a few up, I quickly realized I should have gone to 32. There was simply too much bread and not enough filling.

When it comes time to fill them, you are supposed to roll them out, place the dough in your hand, put a couple spoonfuls of filling in the center and wrap them up all pretty-like with this little spiral design. For the life of me I couldn't get them to look like that! After the third monstrosity I made, I gave up on the spiral thing and just did a four-sided fold.

I didn't even have enough filling for all the dough. That wasn't really a bad thing in the end. The extra buns got used to make to pretty little steak sandwiches. So, that was a plus.

After the buns rested one more time, they were ready to be steamed. Since the fillings were already cooked, it didn't take too long to finish them. Here they are in the steamer.

Here's closer look after they cooled off a bit.

By the end, I was kinda bummed out by the way things were going that I didn't even take a picture of the bao with the sausage filling. But when I tasted the finished bao, I knew I couldn't be too far off the mark. The bun had a nice flavor and a soft, pillow like texture from steaming. The fillings were good, but to be honest, it really could have been anything at that point.

To get a second opinion, I took some to work with me the next day and had some friends try 'em out. To my surprise, they really seemed to like it. Out of the two, the pork shoulder was the clear winner. I even had a request to make more steamed buns! No joke!

Overall, I wouldn't call this a total failure. But I can't call it a win either. I think I'll put this one down as a "Work In Progress".

Yeah, that sounds about right.

J. Miller

July 2, 2012

The Arby's Salad

This one is gonna be a quickie. Honestly, I'm not in the mood for a long, drawn out post. Plus, it's a fast food salad. Do I really need to get in-depth on this thing? Fuck no!

The official name of this is the Roast Chopped Farmhouse Salad. I chose to do a post on this because it's become a common after-work meal for me. If I'm not going straight home when I leave the slave ship, there is a good chance I might stop by Arby's and get this. It costs about $6 and some change for the meal and is healthier than a lot of other options I would normally go for. Plus, it's close to work, so I don't have to go too far for it.

Now, I know a lot of people like to shit on Arby's. Why? I don't know! The food ain't that bad and it's not nearly as expensive as Carl's Jr. I'm not saying it's the best food out there, but at least give it a look.

Here is a closer look:

As you can see, it's got bacon and thinly sliced roasted chicken on it. The bacon is nice and crispy and the chicken slices are tasty. You can get it with deep fried chicken pieces, but I usually get this one.

I like this salad. It tastes good and you get a good amount of it. No frills here, it's just a fuckin' salad. Take it for what it is.

I'm out.

J. Miller