Artsy Photo of the Day

Earlier this week, Mexico met Japan in an artsy cocktail, and in round two, Mexico meets Japan in this artsy ramen:

ESKChickenTortillaRamen

This  Chicken Tortilla Soup Ramen hybrid is made with bacon dashi, chicken-tortilla-Tom-Yum paste, shrimp paste, chicken thigh, soft soy egg, avocado, corn, fried casino online tortilla, pickled yellow onion, jalapeño, cilantro, garlic, and lime. Talk about fusion.

It”s from East Side King at Hole in the Wall, Top Chef winner Paul Qui”s newest Austin venture (for now–He”s working on some other new exciting projects too, so expect a stream of PQ food pics from me in 2013-2014, you”re welcome).

Oh, by the way, it”s amazing.

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Cooking with Fabio: Drunken Red Spaghetti

Has anyone else missed Fabio Viviani? I know I’d take his crazy Italian ramblings over this year’s boring Top Chef-testants any day. Well, not to worry—I just stumbled upon his new web series, in which Fabio and his disturbingly hot mom cook up drunken red spaghetti—pasta doused in red wine and smothered in pecornio, walnuts and caramelized pancetta. I love this dish because he doesn’t add just a little bit of booze. Uh-uh. He adds enough wine to turn those noodles purple! Now that’s Italian.

Also – check out his nickle-and-dime pasta serving size trick at 2:40!

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Top Chef 10 Preview: Wolfgang Puck on Going Back to Basics

What a week. Election yesterday, and the premiere of Top Chef: Seattle tonight! As someone who lived in Seattle for the past six years, I’m especially excited to see what beautiful Northwest sights and tasty Seattle restaurants they decide to feature this season. (It doesn’t seem fair; when they did Top Chef in Austin I was in Seattle, then I moved to Austin and they went to Seattle! I just want to befriend Padma!) Anyway, what I’m saying is: I’m psyched for tonight, so obviously I was also psyched when I got the chance to jump on a call with Wolfgang Puck, one of the judges this season, to get a sneak peek at what we can expect from Top Chef 10.

On thing Wolfie (can I call him Wolfie? I feel like we’re BFF at this point, so it’s probably cool) is particularly vehement about is the whole “back to basics” thing that Top Chef is touting this season. He explained: “To me… I judge these chefs on how they can cook an egg… I say, okay, make me an omelet. All these people say they cook in fancy restaurants, but you need to know the basics. Cooking an egg is like cooking a steak or something. Oil, butter, some cream, cook them fast enough so they’re cook on the outside and soft in the center. And it’s amazing how few professional cooks can actually do that.”

Amen, my Austrian brother.

Wolfie says it was interesting to see the new contestants and the choices they make. Some he assumed would be good ended up being very spotty, and a lot of them “tried too hard.” He described the judging experience as, “some terrific dishes where I said ‘wow, I would hire them!’ Then the next show, ‘wow, is that the same person?'”

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Cooking with Love: Carla Hall's Rustic Mushroom Tart

Hey, guess what? I got an opportunity to review Carla Hall”s brand new cookbook, Cooking with Love: Comfort Food that Hugs You.  I was obviously very excited.  Thanks, ES!

I have been a fan of Carla Hall since her first season on Top Chef, Season 5.  When she came back for All-Stars, I also enjoyed rooting her on.  She has a southern style of cooking that focuses on comfort food and fine dining spins on classics.  Plus, she has a super perky and positive personality, but not in an annoying sort of way.  Like in a contagiously sunny kind of way.

This book has so many great recipes that I”ve bookmarked to try, like goat cheese grits and buffalo wing burgers (yum!)  It also has some little anecdotes and tips from Carla.  Carla was a caterer before she made it big and has some great tips about serving large groups, if you are into that kind of thing.  If I had to give a constructive criticism about the book, it would be that I would like a picture for every recipe.  That”s probably not doable to have so many photographs, but that”s what I like.  Although the pictures that are already in the book are quite stunning.

All in all, I”d say everyone should definitely have this cookbook on their shelves.  It”s pretty rockin”.

So, I decided to make the mushroom nbso tart recipe and it was pretty boss.  Super easy and oh so tasty.  I didn”t use a paddle attachment on a food processor , so my dough was a little more crumbly than hers appears.  It was still really good, though.

You should make this and pop over to Amazon to preorder her book, which comes out November 6th.

Rustic Mushroom Tart from Cooking with Love

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The Endless Road Trip — San Diego’s Top 10 Eats: 3. Pacos

To be honest, I went to California with a mission to eat the best and craziest tacos I could find, and I like to think I succeeded. I won’t argue that scrambled eggs and pork belly are both awesome inside a tortilla, but I’ve definitely found the best breakfast tacos, ever.

I’ve already expressed my love for R Gang Eatery after they served me the <best tater tots ever>. But you know, after BS and I consumed an entire basket of fried potatoes and cheese, we just couldn’t resist ordering what sounded like the best breakfast item ever: pacos. That’s right, pancake tacos.

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The Endless Road Trip — San Diego’s Top 10 Eats 1. Pickle Tater Tots

I’m probably not in the majority when I say I don’t love tater tots. I mean, I don’t dislike them; they are fried potatoes after all. On their own I just find them greasy and kind of boring. They never hold salt the way I want them to and are more often than not soggy; I’d prefer fries or home fries any day.

Imagine my surprise when BS and I sat down at R Gang Eatery in San Diego, the laid-back base of Top Chef’s Rich Sweeney, and were offered a slew of stuffed tater tots. After some debate (do we want foie at 10am?) we ordered the craziest ones (clearly) — tater tots filled with pickles and cheese. They were the first thing to come out of the kitchen, and let’s be honest, we both stared at them for a minute before touching them. Were we really going to eat pickles and cheese as breakfast?

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Super Snacks: Poutine Potato Skins

At Endless Simmer we’re a little obsessed with all thing poutine. We eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We haven’t figured out how to turn it into a dessert just yet (any ideas??) but breaking news…we now have poutine as a handheld appetizer.

The idea for poutine potato skins came when I saw that Mile End — the champion of our tour de poutine — was offering these as a take-out Super Bowl snack. I made my version for Super Sunday as well, but I’m pretty sure they make sense for March Madness, too. Or St. Patrick’s Day. Or Easter Sunday. Or a random Monday morning.

These aren’t actually so different from regular potato skins; you’ve just got to pair the spuds with gravy and cheese curds, the other two elements of the holy trinity that make up poutine. The biggest hurdle, of course, is finding fresh cheese curds. In New York, I tracked them down at Saxelby Cheesemongers. For the gravy, I decided to go a little more American than the dark gravy usually found on Montreal poutine, and went with a white bacon gravy. Since I had to cook up bacon strips to produce that gravy, in the end I crumbled them up and added that to the top of the skins as well, because…yeah, I don’t have to explain myself there.

Poutine Potato Skins

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