Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Killer Fried Chicken!!

I remember years and years ago watching an interview with Wolfgang Puck where he was asked what was his favorite "American" food. He went on and on about how he thought that the American could do better in the kitchen, OK, this was over 20 years ago and he was right, at the time. But he also said and not facetiously, that he thought Kentucky Fried Chicken was one of the best things he had ever eaten.
And I agree. When I was a wee little foody I remember my mom taking us to KFC when she could afford it, which was not very often as she was a single mother of three who worked full time and refused to go on public assistance. we have learned so much from her.
Anyway. I was hooked on this stuff. It was heaven to me. the sweet fried smell of those secret 11 herbs and spices and the heat ripples coming off a perfectly cooked leg as I had to have one even before getting into the car in the cold of winter. Running with a chicken leg in my hand like it was an Olympic torch as I held it up high over my head.
So for awhile now I have been trying to replicate this secret 11 herbs and spice concoction in my kitchen, and I did! 

It has taken awhile to do it. But I think I pretty much nailed it. I came up with 13 secret herbs and spices, I had to one up the old Colonel of course. Above is a shot of the raw chicken after I applied the batter. I use a simple egg wash to coat the chicken first and then roll the wet chicken parts in the Killer Fried Chicken mix. then I let them sit for 10 minutes before frying them to golden perfection.


I don't like to use the cast iron skillet to fry my chicken. I don't really like the black or semi burnt parts that it gives fried chicken, I know that in the South, these burnt parts are prized, ehh, not for me I like perfectly golden fried chicken that has an even look and texture. I use a large sauce pan with a heavy bottom and pour in one 48 ounce bottle of a neutral tasting oil such as vegetable or corn oil.
Here's a trick for you. If you don't have a proper thermometer to check how hot your oil is, you can use the tip of a wooden soon. Just submerge the spoon into the oil and hold it. Take a look at the and see if bubbles are coming of it, if so, your oil is ready and should be about 350 degrees.

I fry them in batches with pieces that are the same size, turning every few minutes to get them frying evenly.

OMG! this stuff is so good. It's like poultry injected with crack!! 

I could literally eat an entire hen house at one sitting and end up blubbering like Renfield catching imaginary flies and giggling to myself.

So you might ask, Where is the recipe for this heavenly food of the God's concoction?
Well......I'm not gonna post it! hahahahahahaha......It's mine all mine! 

Ok, ok, I'm really not going to post it. it took me forever to come up with it. But if you ask really nicely I will send you some of this heavenly mixture and you will be hooked on poultry crack like I am.

Killer Fried Chicken chow!


Friday, December 17, 2010

Pink's open's at Harrah's Rincon Casino!

 Pink's, the Hollywood legend opens it's newest location at Harrah's Rincon Casino in the Northern part of San Diego.  And I cannot be happier about it, Pink's is one of the most iconic Southern California cult eateries out there. I rarely miss an opportunity to stop at the Los Angeles stand when I am in the area. And now one is a little closer to home.
This place has been open since 1939 and has been serving Hoffy hot dogs from day one. Hoffy by the way is another iconic food maker and in Los Angeles as well.  I know there are a ton of food / hot dog rule makers out there. Ok so even Dirty Harry uttered the phrase "Nobody... I mean NOBODY puts ketchup on a hot dog", But then again Sudden Impact wasn't the best Dirty Harry film either.
We are in Southern California and we not only put ketchup on dogs but Tapatio and Sriracha sauce as well. And oh  by the way, Both Tapatio and Sriracha sauce are both made in Los Angeles.

  And at Pink's we put chili on them, Lot's of Pink's secret recipe chili. I can eat two or three no problem.
But it's Orson Welles that holds the record of eating 18 at one sitting!! And it's where Bruce Willis proposed to Demi Moore. This place is the keeper of the heart and soul of the city.

Pink's is right there with In-N-Out Burger another cult food Southern California company. There was nothing like cruising down Melrose eating a Pink's chili dog and looking at those crazy Angelyne billboards in the 1980's.

All of the best of Southern California culture met at Pink's the epicenter of it all to eat hot dogs.
Every low rider and Rat rod, starlet and star, stage hand to studio exec, all met and ate here.  And still do.
If you are from SoCal then you know Huell Howser and Cal Worthington , MoonaLisa and Elvira and you definitely know Pink's.

Hot Dog Facts and Trivia:
* Believe it or not, nearly 500 franks are eaten every second every day in US alone.
* In 2009, about 10 billion dogs were consumed by Americans.
* About 15% of these numbers are hot dogs bought from vending carts.
* More than $1.6 billion were also spent on dogs in 2009.
* Every 4th of July, at least 150 million frankfurters are consumed.
* During the Hot dog Season, approximately 818 (or roughly 7 billion) dogs are gobbled down by American hot dog lovers every second.
Most wiener carts and stands are found in big cities. Regular customers are those people who are too busy with their careers that often they find no time to cook real meals for themselves, or to even sit for a full half an hour and enjoy a gourmet dish in a restaurant. Time is too precious and limited for them.
And so to make the most of their time, they go to the nearest cart, order for their favorite wiener and toppings, pay for it and done. They eat the dog with much gusto while on their way to their meeting or office. This is the very reason why franks became the staple food for highly urbanized and very busy individuals.
But which US cities consume much of these hot dogs?
Here are the top five cities that consume a great amount of franks all year round.

#1 Los Angeles
The biggest and heaviest consumers of dogs in 2009 are the people of Los Angeles.
# 2 New York
New Yorkers spend more than $101 million for franks alone annually. And the most interesting thing is that this number is actually increasing regardless of the city's lesser population compared to other bigger cities.
# 3 San Antonio and Corpus Christi
#4 Baltimore and Washington
# 5 Chicago was surprised that Chi town came in 5th. By the way, what is that neon green relish stuff made of anyway? I don't think it's legal in this state.

So jump into your hoopty and head to Harrah's Rincon Casino and throw down a few dogs!



 Harrah's Rincon Casino
777 Harrah's Rincon Way
Valley Center, CA 92082
(760) 751-3100

Saturday, December 4, 2010

La Torta Cafe

If i had a choice of last meals, Man, this place would be a consideration. Mexican taco shop meets deli and does it extremely well. I never understood why places like Subway and the rest of the franchise sandwich places make it. I mean, I don't get the concept of a salad on an air puffed roll with a fly over of cold cuts. Doesn't work for me. But this place does.
The place had it's start more than 10 years ago with a small busy cafe on the main drag in the La Mesa village. They started to expand around this time as well. There used to be one by SDSU.  Then they just disappeared off the map? Until last year when the owner decided to open up again in La Mesa at the site of where  All'Italiana used to be. And it's the same quality and quantity as I remember it to be.

Huge portions on these torta's. Everything has flavor and works well together.

 The bread is where it all starts. It's fresh and light and there to hold the massive sandwich together.
I ordered the Beef Machaca torta. I am a machaca maniac. I can't get enough of this stuff. If done right it is sublime, like a Mexican pot roast, tender and flavorful, and that's how my torta was. just so tender and full of slight chili spices.

The home fries they serve with the sandwiches are very good. and there are a ton of them. I also am a huge fan of the salsa they have in red plastic squirt bottles. very nice stuff. Lot's of thought went into this menu and it shows.

I also like the fact that this place serves grilled chili's as a condiment. they go so well with the torta's.
But the most pleasantly surprising  dish on the menu is the Tortilla Soup. I have never been a fan of this soup. Most places you order it from just destroy it. It's supposed to be a mild broth soup with veggies and beans and tortilla strips placed on top so they soften and melt into the liquid. And the Tortilla Soup at La Torta nails it perfectly. I had heard from a few folks that this is the best soup in town and I'm gonna have to agree it's pretty tasty.

 On a cold day like we have been having here lately this stuff is magic.
Here's a shot of the menu, which has traditional taco shop offerings as well, which are very good, but don't match the sheer perfection of the torta offerings.

So after you put up that Festivas pole, head out to La Torta in La Mesa. You won't be disapointed.



La Torta Cafe
8356 Allison Ave
La Mesa, CA 91941
(619) 741-6230

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Homemade Bratwurst

Ahhh the humble Bratwurst.  One of the great food treats that come from America's beautiful immigrant history. Specifically given to us by German immigrants who settled into and around the Wisconsin area and popularized in Sheboygen County during the 1920's.
There are so many different versions and recipes of this great sausage that it took me quite awhile to nail down a recipe that was simple and as close to a Wisconsin style Bratwurst as I could get. Man, Delving into finding a recipe for this humble link was no easy task as I encountered literally 75 different recipes, All are very specific and of course no leniency in altering the recipe at all, or you will suffer the wrath of Bratwurst purists everywhere. Some recipes called for beef and pork or veal and pork, or a combination of all. Some had raw eggs in them. While others had potatoes and dry milk in them. Wow, it literally is spread across the ingredient spectrum.I mean even the Gods of Charcuterie, Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn in there book, aptly titled, Charcuterie have a Brat recipe that calls for eggs and cream.
So I really had to think of this for awhile and I tried a ton of experiments. I wanted to find the essence of the flavors that make a Brat well, a Brat.
As I listened to one of the quintessential jazz albums for inspiration, the 1957 album Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section and specifically the song Tin Tin Deo it came to me, like a perfect jazz free form melding of individual players coming together as the musicians on this album did one day in 1957, and in one take. Listening to this album and specifically that song, and the manic drumming of Philly Joe Jones you can smell rock and roll coming around the corner, Like running home for dinner on a Sunday afternoon and catching a whiff of your mothers cooking, man, you can smell it, but you don't know what it is, but you know it's gonna be good. So I came up with this recipe, clean, simple and it combines all of the Bratwurst flavors that I love.
Fresh ingredients are always the best way to go. I always wait until the local store has Pork Butt on sale. and I don't really know why this cut is called "Pork Butt", because it's actually from the shoulder.

With this cut you really don't have to add additional fat to it, as the Pork Butt cut, I have found usually has the proper amount already.

I bought a two pack of "Butts", for .99 cents a pound. After cutting off a huge hunk to make a pork roast with I was left with around 15 Lbs of Pork. the recipe below is for 5 Lbs of sausage as I didn't think anyone would want to make the large quantities I usually do. The recipe that follows is a two day event.

The first thing you have to do is cut your meat into cubes that will fit into your grinding machine. I use a Kitchen Aid , This is the most valuable tool you will have in your kitchen. You can see the fat cap in the above picture, You want to keep this as fat is the very most important ingredient in sausage making. You will have to cut away the connective tissues as they will not only cause Hell in your grinder , but aren't very tasty.
There is a bone in this cut, so be careful and cut around it. Your work will be amply rewarded. Remember good cooking is an art and takes time. This is a two day process. On the first day you will cut and clean your Pork meat and then grind it and season it. Then you will let it sit and let the flavors mingle together over night.
Then you will put the meat into casings.
And remember to roast off that leftover bone for your dog. As you can see Cali is a very happy girl.
Make sure that after you cut your meat into the desired size cubes and that you place the meat in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes. You have to keep the meat very cold as the continual grinding will start to heat the meat and melt the fat. we are not too much worried about keeping the meat cold for sanitary purposes right now. It's mainly to keep the fat from melting. If it does melt, then you could end up having a sausage that is very mealy tasting. No fat, No fun.

After you grind your meat, Back into the freezer for 15-20 minutes to firm up the fat. at this time you gather your spices together.

Then add the spices to your very cold ground pork. Do this by hand to get a good mix. Your hands will get extremely cold doing this, so make sure you can heat them up under warm water and dive in again. Now it's very important  to mix the spices in as evenly as you can.
Your mix should look like this when you have it all incorporated.

Ok, So now that you have your meat ground and your spices well incorporated. It's time for a test patty, or two, to be cooked off.

Remember that the spices will get more pronounced as the ground mixture sits for a night. Test here for texture and taste the spices. You can always add more in the morning, So I wouldn't add any today. you can always add you can't subtract.


 Add the 1 Cup of fresh cold water to your ground pork and mix in by hand. This will help moisten the meat and it will go through the stuffer much easier.
Test again the mixture by frying up a small batch. this is the time to adjust your seasonings and this is the place where a lot of people go wrong. Don't add to much salt, let the sweetness of the pork come through. I find the biggest problem with mass produced sausage is that the makers add tons of salt as a flavor and not as a flavor enhancer. In this case less is more.

I buy hog casings at my local butcher shop for .30 cents a foot. it's expensive but they are fresh. You can source them through the internet as well. You will need 10-12ft of casings for this recipe.

Load up your KitchenAid stuffer with your casings.

Tie a knot in the end of the casing. Ok let's get stuffing. I do this myslef, but you might want to have someone help you if this your first time. You must always have one hand on the sausage stuffer as you need to continually feed and fill the casing. Do not over fill!
Easy right? It will be after you do it a few times.And the results are outstanding! the best homemade Brat you will ever have! hehehe..I can't wait for the Brat police to knockwurst on my door.
Let the sausage roll off your stuffer in one link. After you are done, then go back and twist them into 6 inch individual links. There is actually a method of twisting these things that won't get you aggravated. I must say that I haven't mastered this twisting part yet.


5 lbs Pork Butt also called Shoulder
3 Tbsp Kosher Salt
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 1/2 Tsp grated Nutmeg
1/2 Tsp Ground Coriander
1/4 Tsp Celery seed
2 Tsp Fresh Gorund Black Pepper
1/8 Tsp Dried Marjoram
1 1/2 Tsp dried ground Ginger.
1 Cup Cold Water

10-12ft Hog casings

This recipe to me brings out all of the Bratwurstian flavors that mainly work off of the Nutmeg and Ginger.
I hope you enjoy it.



Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pickled Green Beans

Right now there seems to be an over abundance of fresh green beans on the market. Take advantage and pickle a few jars of them. They make great treats in a bloody Mary or just put a side out for an appetizer or snack. They are delicious. Sometimes I think we forget that we can make most foods at home, and make them better quality than what we can get off the shelf. This method I use is a cold pack method, no pasteurizing by boiling the jars for 20 minutes, just a very simple brine. If you follow basic kitchen cleanliness, you will have no problem at all.

As with all cooking, you should start with the freshest ingredients you can find. farmers markets are the perfect place to look for quality fresh produce. But you can get very good quality green beans from your local market as well. Just pick a few up and snap them in half, they should give a good pop when snapped in two. Also taste them, they should have good moisture and taste fresh with firm flesh.

You will need at least 3 quart sized Mason jars and lids. sanitize them by running them through your dishwasher on the "sanitize" setting. You can also achieve the same results by using a mix of water and bleach and scrubbing them in hot water.


1 to 1 1/2 Lbs of fresh Green Beans. Cleaned and scrubbed.
3 cups water
3 cups distilled white vinegar
3 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp kosher salt
3 Tbsp Dill seeds
2 Tbsp whole black pepper corns
1 Tbsp whole Coriander seeds
1 Tbsp whole Mustard seeds
1 Tbsp Red Pepper flakes
3 cloves Garlic minced
3 bay leaves
3 Chili peppers. Jalapeno, Serrano. Your choice.

If you are using smaller or larger quantities, you can measure the amount of brine needed by first stuffing yoour jars with green beans and then adding water to the jars. Pour out the water into a container and measure the water used. This will give you an exact measurement of how much brine to use.

Add all ingredients into a large sauce pan and gently bring to a boil. Once you have reached a low boil, turn off the burner and let the ingredients steep for 5 minutes.

Stuff your jars with the green beans and place one of the peppers and bay leaf in each jar. Make sure that you place the peppers at the bottom of the jar, they will float to the top otherwise.
Pour the hot liquid over the green beans. Filling the jars almost to the top. Make sure you get a good amount of pickling spices in each ladle full as the spices will intensify in the coming weeks.

Seal each jar with your clean lids. And keep jars on your counter until lids seal. Your lids will seal themselves. It may take anywhere from 5 minutes to 20 minutes, but they will form a vacuum and seal. You can test this. as you put the lids on the jars, you can press your finger in the middle of the lid and it will give way and pop up and down. When the lids form a vacuum seal, the center part of the lid will be sucked down. and will not give.
After lids have sealed, place them in your refrigerator and let sit for 2-3 weeks. As the flavors will mature and get really good.
They will last up to 3 months or more in your fridge.

This is a classic and basic pickling recipe that you can use on all sorts of veggies from Pickles to zucchini. 
Use your imagination and add or subtract ingredients to fir your taste.



Tuesday, November 2, 2010

San Diego Food & Beverage makers

Hola San Diego foodies!
I'm on a quest to find makers of high quality food and beverages in Southern California and want to tap into the vast foody wealth of knowledge of all my foody friends out in the blogosphere in finding them.
I want to start to change the blog over to covering the small but growing cottage industry of small makers in Southern California.
So if know of any small company that is handcrafting high quality foodstuffs, hit me up with their info and we will do an indepth article on them. 
It should be fun and I look forward with your help in identifying and bringing to the internet all of the locals who take pride in what they are making. Together we can make sure the current growth in small sustainable makers stays alive.
Please feel free to drop me a line or comment and any insight you might have on the local makers.



Wednesday, August 25, 2010


OK, now it can be told. This stuff is taking my time away from food blogging. But I'm having an awesome time at it. So if ya got a spare minute, check out the new site and let me know what you think.


Arty chow


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Basic Tomato Sauce - From Fresh Tomato's

 Making tomato sauce from scratch is a messy endeavor for sure. Friends of the kitchen had a bumper crop of tomatoes this year and I mean bumper crop of every kind you can think of, from Meaty heirlooms to sweet cherry tomatoes. And nothing and I mean nothing tastes better than a fresh off the vine tomato.
Like I said, to do basic red sauce from scratch is a huge operation and you need to give yourself time to do it right. For this recipe use what ever tomato you are growing. Keep in mind that store bought tasteless tomatoes will not do at all.


10-12 Fully ripened tomatoes

1 -  Medium onion coarsely chopped

5 - Garlic cloves coarsely chopped

1 - Cup Fresh Basil coarsely chopped

1 - Bowl of ice water

1 - Large pot of boiling water

1/2 Cup Olive oil plus 1 table spoon 

Olive Oil, Kosher salt and Fresh ground Black Pepper.

To peel the tomatoes

1. Bring large pot of water to boil.

2. Wash and core the tomatoes, then cut an X in the bottom. this makes it easier to peel.

3. carefully place the tomatoes, a few at a time into the boiling water for 30 to 45 seconds. When you see the skin start to pull away from the X cut. it's time to take them out and plunge them into the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. The idea is to not cook the tomato but to just peel the skins off.

4. After all tomatoes have cooled down. peel the skins off with your fingers.

5. Cut the tomatoes in half. Squeeze out the seeds and the juice into a bowl and discard. You just want the flesh of the tomato.

6. Roughly chopped the tomatoes into chunks.

 7. Saute onions in the 1 table spoon olive oil. when they are translucent add the garlic and saute.

8. Place the chopped tomatoes in the pan with the onions and garlic. Top the tomatoes with salt, This is a crucial part of this recipe. The salt goes in at the beginning part of the cooking process to help draw out the moisture of the tomatoes so it can evaporate.

9. Turn heat down to medium low and let simmer for 35 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. The length of cooking time will vary depending on the ripeness of the tomatoes used.

10. Smash the tomatoes with a wooden spoon as they cook, so the sauce becomes smoother.

11. When the sauce is reduced by half and is thick add the olive oil into the pot and stir to combine.

12. Cook the sauce for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and to emulsify the sauce.

13. Mix the sauce with your favorite pasta while it's hot and enjoy. Oh, and don't forget to top it all off with copious amounts of cheese!


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