Monday, May 19, 2008

Cinco De Mayo: Mexican Hot Dogs

To celebrate Cinco de Mayo (yes I'm way behind on posts, but this one actually catches me now it's time to cook more), I had some people over to eat some mexican hot dogs. What are mexican hot dogs? Well, I thought it might only be a San Francisco thing, but googling mexican hot dogs does indeed seem to bring up the same food. Basically it's your typical hot dog wrapped in bacon. To complement the dish, I also made some stuffed potatoes. Since we're already using bacon, I decided to go for a ranch based potato recipe.

To bake the spuds a little quicker, we can use the microwave to help us out. In order to stick it in the microwave, make sure the puncture holes in the potatoes, otherwise I'm told they might explode.

For both the potatoes and the hot dogs, we're going to need some sauteed onions.

My eyes were feeling particularly sensitive that day, and I had to walk away 3 times while cutting these.

Now after 15 minutes in the microwave, put them in the oven for 15 minutes so they're a little crispy.

In the meantime, we'll saute the onions. Just having watched Paula Dean, I decided to go with the butter approach...and a pretty good amount.

Saute until a little translucent.

Take the potatoes out of the oven and chop off the top.

Take out all that starchy filling, being as careful as you can to leave the skin in-tact.

You can see I didn't do the greatest job here as one of mine is a little sloppy.

Take the potato and mash it together. Even though the recipe didn't call for it, I decided to add a little butter.

I also took some oil and coated the outside of the skins. Then I salted the skins with kosher salt.

I took some frozen broccoli, and since my friends don't like veggies that much, I put less than the recommended amount.

With half of the sauteed onions from before.

The heart of this recipe is the ranch dressing. Because it requires half a cup, I decided to go with the fat free version. I should probably try to taste test the two, but the fat free seems to be good enough for me.

Mix it all together

And stuff them as high as you can. Anytime I stuff potatoes or mushrooms or anything else, I never know what to do with the leftover stuffing...

Anyways, put them in the oven for another 15 minutes or so.

The main ingredients for the mexican hot dogs: hot dogs and bacon. I really like the Hebrew national hot dogs, plus I'm supporting my own brethren. The motto always cracks me up to: "Hebrew Nationao. We Answer to a Higher Authority"

One slice of bacon seems to fit perfectly around the hot dog.

Then just stick them in the pan. No oil's needed since bacon emits so much grease.

Anytime I deal with bacon, I'm usually disgusted with myself afterwards, and I make sure to pat it down with paper towels to get rid of some of the grease.

And here's the final product:

The hot dogs were good. Not quite as good as a drunk mexican hot dog from the vendors in the Mission district, but what is? As for the potatoes, they were pretty good--a little bland IMO, but the others seemed to like them a lot.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Trip to Pittsburgh, Ebay's Birthday Party

I went to Pittsburgh for spring carnival. It was awesome going back, seeing everyone, and eating the food that I missed. I still hold that Korea Garden in Pittsburgh has some of the best Korean food in America. You'd think it'd be easy to find a replacement in SF, but I haven't been able to so far.

Anyways, while we were there, it happened to be Inbae's birthday. He's becoming an old man (and acting like one too). He turned 25 (26 in Korean age), so Christine and Angela came up with the idea of making his cake a quarter. So I baked a red velvet cake. This was my first cake, and I took it out about 10 times to check to see if it was cooked through, but it came out really, really well. No one seemed to know what a red velvet cake was (I guess it's a Southern thing) but everyone seemed to really like it, especially the frosting which was a mix of butter, cream cheese, and white chocolate. The recipe I used is here:

Angela decorating the cake...

So I made the cake and icing. Angela and Christine assembled the cake and put the icing onit. I was pretty incredulous of how it'd turn out, but after 2 hours of hard labor, I can say they did an awesome job with the cake. One mistake you can see above is putting on the candles before finishing the cake completely...juts silly.

As you can tell it looks awesome so far.

Last finishing touches. You can see all the attempted drawings of ebay's big head on the paper.

Just awesome

Jay and Christine lighting all 25 candles.

Ebay's so happy.

Drawn to actual proportion.

And ebay became even tastier...

Playing with his girlfriend's hair???

The cake: so red, so delicious. Annlouise would be proud.

This is a really good party dish. It's lil smokies and some secret sauce. If you don't know the sauce, you'll love the dish. If you do, you'll question my sanity (recipe's actually from my mom and who knows where she got it from). At any rate, I guarentee most people like it.

Basically you take a package of lil' smokies. Put them in a bowl of water and into the microwave for about 4 minutes. Then drain the water to remove some of the excess fat. Now to make the sauce take about 1/2 a bottle of grape jelly and 1/3 a bottle of yellow mustard. Put it in a pan on medium high and cook for a few minutes. Put in the little smokies and adjust the sauce as you see fit.

I know the sauce sounds disgusting, but it's really friggin' good.

A pic of all the asian party goers.

Party was pretty sweet. I was in a rush, so I didn't take pics of me making the cake, but if you've neve rmade one, the red velvet cake recipe I used is super simple, and it came out amazing. I'll try to make some other cake soon and take some pics along the way.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Fried Chicken

There are a few goals I have in life. One of them is to be able to cook good fried chicken.

The chicken pieces. For skinless chicken breasts, I always get the costco brand and just freeze it. I tried it for thighs and drumsticks, but the meat just looks a little too bloody, so I probably won't get it anymore.

Decided to do a little marinade. I like fried chicken with a little spice, so besides the usual marinade of buttermilk, I looked up some dominican fried chicken recipes and decided to throw in some lime juice as well. Then of course garlic salt, cayenne pepper, and some korean pepper flakes.

Marinating away for about 24 hours.

For the egg wash, some eggs, baking soda, and baking powder. The baking soda/powder gives it a some fluff.

Some flour in a pan.

The seasonings I used: white pepper, paprika, and garlic powder. Just put it right in the flour.

Following America's Test Kitchen's advice, I used the double-dip approach: flour, egg, flour.

Need to roll it around and cover it fully.

Here's the first batch.

Repeat with the rest.

Now for the part, I'm still struggling with. The only other time I tried making fried chicken, I used vegetable shortening, which is a little disgusting. Again, following America's Test Kitchen, I decided to use peanut oil, which is a little harder to find in supermarkets.

Need to get it to about 375 to start.

Put the chicken in.

Me checking the temperature of the oil. I cooked it for about 10-15 minutes on each side. I think a big problem with cooking the chicken was that the temperature of the oil dropped significantly when I put the chicken in, and it took a while to get back up to 325/350 range.

Since I had to do it in batches, I put the finished ones in the oven on a very low heat, 200 degrees to keep it warm.

Along with the fried chicken, I made some mashed potatoes. Since I don't really like anything bland, I put some horseradish and scallions in them.

I was a little paranoid, so some chicken came out a little overcooked. I'd like to blame this on the oil temperature, though. I've already purchased a cast iron so I can see if that helps for next time. It was relatively cheap, like $20.

And the people who have to put up with my cooking. I dunno why, but the photo just amuses me.