How to turn leftover barbecue into a solid dinner

I used my new barbecue for the first time on Monday night. Because I love grilling, I cooked all of the chicken and Louisiana hotlinks that I had.; so of course I ended up having a few leftovers. When I came home tonight, I thought it’d be a good idea to make a hotlink sandwich with a healthy twist.

The whole meal took less than 15 minutes to put together.

Ingredients:

  • 1 leftover hotlink
  • 1 mini baguette
  • A few mixed greens
  • A block of sharp cheddar
  • Sriracha
  • Pinto beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Beets

1. Butterfly the hotlink and throw it on the frying pan. While the sausage is cooking, turn on the oven.

2. In the meantime, rinse the mixed greens.

3. Get our your big block of sharp cheddar and your baguette. Cut the cheddar in long, thin slices and slice the baguette in half.

4. After the sausage is at a sufficient temperature, put the cheese on top and pop it in the oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese on top.

5. Plate the sausage on the baguette, topping it off with the rinsed mixed greens and some sriracha. Also plate the mixed beans and beets, lightly drizzling balsamic vinegar on the beans.

You end up with a nicely balanced meal that’s a lot more exciting than just eating leftovers.

What I would’ve done better:

I originally meant to include avocado in the sandwich, but because I was rushing to get home in time to catch the second half of the Giants game, I forgot.

Go Giants!

Sayonara Japan?

Dear Japan,

This may be the end for us.

I first met you in high school. I was introduced to you because Spanish already had a date, and according to my older sister, French would not be good to me.

I mildly enjoyed our first three years together, but it was the one summer when I went with you back home when I truly fell in love. I learned a different side of you, and in turn, learned a great deal about me. I felt that summer was our first step towards something truly special.

You went with me to college. In true Williams fashion, our steady relationship was more like a marriage – we were inseparable. I simply couldn’t live without you, and everyday, my love for you grew.

After I graduated, we decided to take our relationship to the next level and move in together. I can honestly say that those were two of the best years of my life. I can’t even count how many amazing moments we had: breaking in dawn in Osaka, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Sapporo and Fukuoka; laying out on the beach together in Okinawa; and who could forget our tiny studio next to rice fields in Shimane and the special times we shared there.

Eventually, we moved back to San Francisco so that I could be with my family. At first things were rocky, but of course, we persevered…until last Friday.

It’s been a week since we’ve spoken to each other. Our separation happened so fast, and I’m to blame. It wasn’t you; it was me. I felt that in order for me to grow, we needed to spend some time apart. I haven’t thought about you until now. And as bad as it sounds, I don’t regret my decision.

I always thought that we’d be together until the end, but things change. People change.

ちょっと悪いけど、今俺と君のことは無理だ。ここまでにありがとう。またいつか会う気がするけど、とりあいず、さようなら。

Rod

When we were young…

When we were young, it was easy to dream.

It was easy to reach high.

Easy to see far.

But now we’ve grown up.

Those dreams seem so close, yet so far.

Time to make decisions.

Which one’s right?

Who’s to say you’re wrong?

These days its more about the means.

How to live, instead of why we live.

Too many choices?

Too much indecision.

Your move.

Quesadillas turned Fajitas

After spending the day at Angel Island and a nice Saturday nap, I woke up around 8PM. I’m still not drinking, and I didn’t really feel like going out. I was going to walk over to a neighborhood Malaysian/Singaporean restaurant to have dinner by myself, but it was too crowded. So I decided to head to Andronico’s for food inspiration. I was originally going to make mac and cheese, but after browsing the ‘ethnic’ section, I decided to go with quesadillas.

Ingredients:

  • wheat tortillas
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 mushrooms
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • chicken

Dice all of the ingredients. Cut the chicken into small pieces.

Grading cheese will add more flavor, as opposed to buying already graded cheese. I went with sharp cheddar.

Saute the ingredients. Start with the bell pepper, onion, and garlic. After they start to brown, add the diced chicken and mushrooms. For seasoning, I used fresh group pepper, sea salt, and a dash of cayenne pepper.

As I was sauteing, I realized that this was too much food to fit into a quesadilla, so I ended up making fajitas. When the saute was almost finished, I popped two tortillas into the oven to warm-up. After the tortillas are nice and toasty, plate the food.

And voilà!

The seasoning was subtle and not overpowering. The flavor and the heat built nicely towards the end of the meal (I did not use any hot sauce, surprisingly).

What I would’ve done differently:

  • Had I known that I was making fajitas, I would’ve bought taco-sized flour tortillas.
  • I also would’ve bought boneless chicken breast, had the butcher’s shop still been open, as de-boning is a pain in the butt.

Taking back Friday

One movie ticket. 2 tall Starbucks coffees. 2 pieces of leftover pizza. This was probably one of the cheapest and best Friday nights that I’ve had in a while.

Today, I spent time with the person that I should enjoy spending time with the most – me. In a society of constant movement and stimulation, it’s hard to unplug and just think. Time set aside for reflection is highly underrated and very rare. I found that once I sat back and became an observer, as opposed to an actor, I started to think. Thoughts about life. Am I happy with where I am? Am I close to achieving my goals? At this pace, will I be where I want to be in 5, 10, 15 years? No x3.

While the past few months have been eventful, I feel like I’ve been a passive actor. Wake up. Go to work. Horse around until bed. Sleep. Repeat. Things that I have looked forward to were 5 o’clock, alcohol, and getting time to pass quickly. A bit depressing once I started to think about it. What I realized is that I’m essentially the same person in the same place that I was a year ago. I said that 2009 was about growing up and that 2010 is about moving forward. Well, it’s time to move forward.

I was once told that if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never get there. Well if you don’t make the effort to get where you want to go, you’ll just be stuck in neutral. Time to put it in drive, baby.

Chili and cornbread

Realistically, I think that I can cook 2-3 times a week. So in an effort not to spend anymore money until my next paycheck, I decided to kick-off the cooking with chili. One can cook chili in bulk, and because of the heavy chili base, it is easy to make it Cajun style. I also decided to bake some cornbread to pair with the chili and to even out a bit of the bite with some sweetness.

Step 1:

Bake the cornbread.

About a year ago, I had a hankering for cornbread, and I looked up a recipe for Sylvia’s cornbread. I’ve never had Sylvia’s cornbread, but the restaurant is renowned as one of the best soul food joints in Harlem. I used this recipe, which always plays to great reviews. The result:

Step 2:

While the cornbread bakes, start the prep for the chili.

Start off with the ‘trinity’ of Cajun cooking:

- 2 stocks of celery

- 1 bell pepper

- 2 medium sized onions

- 2 cloves of garlic

Put about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a big pot and turn the heat on high. Saute the mix for about 5 minutes, until golden brown.

Add 1-1.5 lbs. of ground meat (I used turkey for the healthy look). Throw in 1.5 tablespoons of Creole seasoning to season the meat. If you like your chili spicy like I do, add a few more dashes of cayenne pepper to the chili.

After the meat is browned, put the heat on medium and add:

- five small diced tomatoes

- 28oz of canned tomatoes (with the juices)

- sliced mushrooms

- 2 cans of kidney beans (drain and rinse)

- 1 can of black beans (drain and rinse)

- 1 cup of chicken broth (leftover from making jambalaya over the weekend)

A lot of the recipes that I found online said that this chili only takes 30 minutes to cook. After 30 minutes, it was soupy, and the flavor wasn’t quite there. More than anything it was a vegetable soup that had a bland taste in the beginning and a subtle, building spice at the back end.

To combat the lack of flavor, I added:

- 1 tablespoon of cumin

- 1 tablespoon of oregano

- 2 tablespoons of chili powder (which I forgot to season the meat with)

I turned the heat down low and let the chili simmer for 4 hours, while I went to rugby practice. By the time I came back the chili had thickened (the top needs to be off during the cook time to let the excess liquids burn off). Pour it into a bowl, top it off with cheese, cilantro, and cornbread and voila:

(Yes, i know my camera sucks, but I don’t see any upgrade in the near future. Maybe djjewelz can do a cameo sometime)

The chili turned out to be thick with great flavor throughout the meal, and the cornbread complemented the chili as planned.

Day 2:

I had some left over barbecued hamburgers and at Peter’s suggestion, decided to make a chili locomoco. Rice topped with cilantro, cheese, chili, and tabasco sauce (the rice cuts the heat, so I had to bring it back up). Stack the hamburger patty on top of this goodness with a slice of chedder, and let a fried egg sit on top (runny yolk adds to the flavor).

The charbroiled flavor of the burger lended itself nicely to the flavor of the chili, and this dish was surprisingly really good. Chili locomoco – you heard it here first!

What it’s all about

Getting back into cooking, I’m trying this ‘blog thing.’ Heard it has to do with the ‘internet.’

Instead of going to expensive restaurants, I enjoy comfort food with a kick. Good fried chicken with mac and cheese, etc. is what does it for me. However, I have always been bothered by the blandness of popularity. What’s that? It’s when a restaurant tries to cater its food to too large an audience and loses the most basic facet of cooking: seasoning. I love big bold flavors, but also am intrigued by the subtleties of how flavor builds in a complex dish.

My favorite flavor is spice. Adding that extra kick can usually fix the plague of under-seasoning. Since most restaurants don’t make food spicy when I ask for ‘spicy,’ I’m trying to give cooking a little bit more BOOM! Cayenne pepper? Yes, please. Tabasco? Bring it on! And top it off with some fresh cilantro.

I’ve been intrigued by Cajun cuisine because of the flavors and the colors, which in some ways reminds me of Southeast Asian cuisine (Thai, Vietnamese, etc.). The exuberance of a dish is conveyed not only in its taste, but also in its aesthetic. To be completely honest, I do not have any experience with Cajun food which is why one of the reasons why I’m starting this blog is to explore it.

I live in San Francisco, one of the culinary capitals of the world, and I have also lived/traveled extensively in Asia. Thus, I am looking forward to trying out traditional Cajun recipes with a unique twist (combining Creole with a little bit of Korean, Indian, etc. spice). I am not a big fan of ‘fusion,’ and this is by no means an attempt for a new type, although I have been to restaurants that have done fusion quite well. But more often than not, I feel that most restaurants piggy-back on a trend to be part of the “it” crowd, while neglecting what they do best (usually not fusion).

A lot of flavors that I have experienced are unique to California (I have yet to hear of a good Viet place in the South). California cuisine in my mind is fresh and vibrant, combining different styles and tastes to make something utterly unique and hopefully delicious. So through this blog, I’m going to try to mix California cuisine with Cajun.

I’ll try to post weekly update of things that I have cooked, followed by what did and didn’t work. Stay tuned…