Friday, February 25, 2011

What I want right now

Perfectly pink tuna and the spicy scallop from Imperia.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pasta shells and arugula

All week, I've been craving this meal I used to make all the time. A simple spaghetti, tossed in nothing but olive oil, lemon, garlic and some crushed red pepper flakes.

But we didn't have spaghetti; we had pasta shells. Turns out, they're about the same size as arugula, which I bought on a random trip to our Wednesday afternoon farmer's market. It was an unexpectedly lovely pairing.

I sprinkled the arugula with some fresh parmesan in one bowl, and then I drained the pasta and put it back in the pot with Mike's olive-oil-red-pepper-lemon concoction.

Once the pasta was thoroughly coated, I spooned it directly onto the arugula and parmesan. When I combined the two, the arugula wilted perfectly and the parmesan got just a bit melty. Delicious, fast and somewhat Weight Watchers friendly. (Olive oil is good for you, right?)

Easy Peasy Zuchinni-easy

Fastest. Dinner. Ever.

I saw this on a food blog not very long ago, only it was done in a skillet. Possibly a cast iron.

But I wanted to make sure this got a nice brown, bubbly broil on the cheese topping, so I went the oven route.

I am pretty sure there is no recipe required for this three-ingredient masterpiece. The photos below should be enough to walk anyone through this. Just be sure to cook the zuchinni on its own for a bit (I did about 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees on a very lightly olive-oil coated cookie sheet*), then add the tomatoes and cheese and broil on low.


*I really do have nicer cookie sheets but I keep this one around for the messy jobs.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Pork Cracklins - Louisiana Kryptonite

I thought Valentine's Day was the perfect day to share this guest post from my husband and first-time blogger to AAFB. Here's his take on two variations of a Louisiana treat - pork cracklins.

Let's face it, the modern middle-class American is a superhero. By using our super powers of international currency exchange, low transportation costs, and instant global communication, I can get anything I want. Superman had to fly around the world to get gifts for Lois Lane. Who's got that kind of time? I just use the Amazon app on my phone and all the world's goods appear at my door. Who needs X-ray vision when I can see everything simultaneously on cable news? Super strength? I've got great credit. I am more powerful than Superman. Suck it Kal-El! Of course, with great power comes inevitable boredom. Once I have it all, who wants it anymore?

But even for a jaded foodie, the world is still full of surprises. My kryptonite is the lip-smacking, finger-licking, artery-clogging treat of fried pork skin.

The billboards start soon after you cross the Sabine River. Smiling cartoon pigs entice you at each exit. At a gas station I picked up a pre-packaged plastic bag of locally made cracklins. As a fan of pork rinds, I was more than ready to give them a try. They were just like pork rinds I can get in Austin, but with a little bit more fat attached. Served at room temperature, the extra fat had a buttery mouth feel on top of the crunchy of the skin. They were fine, but they did taste like I bought them at a gas station. This was clearly not the real thing.

After discovering that mufaletta's are hard to find on Sunday, I needed one more culinary adventure before I drove out of the Sportsman's Paradise. Some Chowhound and Yelp research led me to the town of Scott, Louisiana, just west of Lafayette.

Don's Specialty Meats has the biggest billboards and is right on the interstate. Best Stop Supermarket is one mile north of Interstate 10. Both are good, but Best Stop is worth the extra mile.The pork cracklins are ordered by the pound. Your cardiologist will recommend that you order by the fraction of a pound. They are placed in a paper bag, which quickly becomes translucent from the grease. Each cracklin is a different experience. Some are pure crunch with a little meat attached. Some have an interior core of luxurious fat which melts on your tongue. All are delicious.

When you have two sets of pork cracklins within ten minutes it is hard not to compare them. It is also hard to not have a heart attack. I'll give it to Best Stop because the cracklins were larger and some were less fried and still had a molten core. Don's were slightly spicier, however. What really charmed me about Best Stop was that it was a Louisiana meat market at opposed to Don's tourist gift shop. Not only was service was infinitely friendlier at Best Stop, but they have balls. They have the balls to proudly offer stuffed pork stomach (chaudin), but they also sell fried balls of boudin sausage.

Now just like Superman I know the limits of my super powers. For some things, you have to get into a car and go there. The internet won't give you the thrill of an unexpected discovery. Also, just like Superman, I know what is going to eventually kill me. Fried pork-induced heart disease.