Total Pageviews

random musings of a crazy cat lady

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Recipe Geek: Impossible Coconut Pie

I'm a sucker for really weird recipes. I'm also a sucker for coconut. This week, my local newspaper had an article about "pies" with self-preparing crusts. I hate making pie crust, so this was right up my alley. Basically, you make a thin batter and then the flour sinks to the bottom and forms a crust as the pie is baking. This sort of recipe was popular in the 50's and 60's, I think. I vaguely remember it as being sort of retro when I was a kid. I decided to make the coconut pie. I mixed all the ingredients in my stand mixer and poured it into a glass pie pan. You could also mix it in a blender. Then I popped it into the oven.
As it baked, it puffed up a lot and turned toasty golden brown. It smelled pretty good. It was still jiggly when I took it out of the oven. I let it cool or a while and tasted it. Bleah! It was too greasy and kind of eggy. I should've trusted my instincts and used less butter. I gave the rest of my portion to Recipe Geek Taster Cat. She liked it better than I did. I put in the fridge to chill overnight. Being cold did not improve it. I dumped it in the trash, which I NEVER do. For the next few editions of recipe geek, I'll be sure to avoid recipes in which the proportions seem off or the synthesis is unusual. Or I'll just avoid pies.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Blogger libel case

Today Google was forced to reveal the identity of a blogger who was sued for libel. If you haven't read about it, someone had a lovely blog called "Skanks of NYC" or something similar. Someone who was named the "skankiest skank" sued for libel and won.
Now, in case you were getting worried that you might have to sue me for libel, rest assured that I would never, ever do that in my blog, and even if I did, you already know my identity so you wouldn't need to take on Google before you haul my ass into court.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Recipe Geek: Enjococado Sauce (First Attempt)

As I mentioned in a recent post, Fiesta del Mar and their sister restaurants all serve various chicken dishes with enjococado sauce. It's a delicious creamy, mildly spicy orange sauce and they fiercely guard the recipe. Maybe my palate is not very sensitive, but I could not guess the mystery ingredient(s) other than to hazard a guess that there were ground pumpkin seeds in it.
A quick Google search turned up two kinds of recipes. Yogurt/sour creme is common to both types of recipe, since there is a type of Mexican yogurt called jocoque. One type is mainly pepper based, and the other one contains oranges and almonds. The latter recipe sounded more like what is served at the restaurant, although not exactly. Here's the recipe, and the story behind it can be found here.
Pollo en Jocoque (Chicken in Yogurt)
4 to 6 persons
1 mandarin (a mandarin is somewhere between
an orange and tangerine and more sour)
1 orange (large)
3 large garlic cloves
3 green onions
2 -3 red poblano chiles
3 tbl olive oil
1 cup cooking oil
2 cups jocoque (jocoque is a type of yogurt
that is close to "creme fraiche")
2 lb chicken pieces
1 cup sliced almonds (soak in hot water and
remove skins)
1) Wash chicken and dry well
2) Char chiles over open flame or in frying
pan and place in plastic bag for 5 minutes
to sweat.
3) Remove from bag and remove charred skin,
inside veins and seeds.
4) Heat cup of oil until very hot and fry
chicken until done and remove from pan..
5) Remove remaining oil from pan, leaving
chicken residue and add olive oil to same
6) Chop garlic. onion, almonds and chiles
and saute in olive oil until done.
7) Add chicken, orange and mandarina juice
and cook for 10 minutes, stirring gently so
as not to break up chicken.
8) Add jocoque and salt to taste (do not
add pepper)
** you can add more juice or jocoque to
taste as you play with the recipe
This afternoon I headed off to the Mexican market in search of ingredients. I shouldn't have bothered, since my local supermarket actually has a bigger selection of peppers and Mexican dairy products. I bought a couple of mandarins, two green pasillo peppers (I couldn't find red poblanos, but the green poblanos are also called pasillos), some green onions, and some yogurt and Mexican sour creme.
I followed the recipe fairly closely, but used twice as many green onions since I know that Mexican green onions are picked later so they're bigger than the ones I bought. I added some orange zest and coarsely ground up the almonds. I used mostly yogurt with a blob of sour creme. Lastly, when I fried the chicken, I used about half the oil that was called for, and put the cooked chicken on papers towels to sop up the oil.
Given my recent recipe geek experiences, I was expecting a nasty color and texture. Ground almonds + green peppers + yogurt and orange juice just did not sound promising. Much to my surprise, the sauce looked OK - pale yellow orange with green pieces of peppers. I served myself a bowl and ate it with a corn tortilla.
Results: It was very tasty. I wanted to lick out the bowl, but Recipe Geek Taster Cat (aka Rugrat) was intent on doing the same thing, so I let her. She liked it, even though there was no chicken left in it. It did have that certain je ne sais quoi of the restaurant dish, although it was not identical. The combination of oranges, garlic, almonds and yogurt is right. I think the restaurant uses more peppers, and red rather than green ones. They puree the sauce, too. They may add a bit of chicken broth too.
As a stand alone recipe, I will make it again, although I will lighten it a lot and just saute the chicken instead of using so much oil. I will probably add more peppers. The yogurt really toned them down. The almonds were tasty and I'll add them if I have them, but I think it would be tasty even without them, or with less of them. Likewise, the sour creme wasn't necessary.
I'm going to try one of the pepper based sauces to see how it compares to the restaurant version, and may try to come up with my own version based on what I learn. Nonetheless, this recipe is a good start.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Swim Class Update 2

So tonight was the second to last session of swim class. It would've been the last class, except for the unfortunate poop-in-the-pool incident a few weeks back.I've gotten a lot better in terms of speed, form, and endurance, although I still am not quite where I'd like to be on anything other than freestyle. Butterfly and doing flip turns were a lot easier than expected, and breaststroke was a lot harder. Meghan, the instructor, thinks this is mainly due to my knee surgery. She should know - she switched to swimming after she blew out her knee at soccer, and doesn't like breaststroke either.
I don't feel weak anymore, which makes me happy. Soccer is a good whole body workout, and I lost a lot of muscle all throughout my body after I injured my knee, and for a long time it was very slow to return. When the class started, I gained two lbs at first, and then lost it. My waist is slightly trimmer. My shoulders, ribs and arms are slightly more muscular, although it's not noticeable unless I wear my black blazer, which no longer fits even though it was fine two weeks before class started. Sigh. Some people hate shopping for swim suits or jeans, but I hate shopping for blazers.
What I like the best, however, is the fact that I can do an exhausting workout and not feel the least bit sore afterwards. That is a very good thing. I get cranky if I don't get enough exercise but I also get cranky if I'm too sore, so swimming has been a good way to wear myself out.
A few random notes, in case you're thinking about hitting the pool. If you can, buy a swimsuit made of a certain kind of durable polyester rather than lycra/nylon. (I won't bore you with the chemistry reason for this) They're usually marketed as 'endurance' suits or some similar name. I've had one for five years. It's outlasted at least five or six lycra suits.
If you wear a swim cap, wet your hair down with unchlorinated water before getting in the pool. That way your hair is saturated with plain water and it takes a lot longer for the chlorine to diffuse in. I've noticed a big difference since I started doing it.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


Last week, Sheila visited me for a few days. As usual, I'm a little bit slow to document the trip.
Sheila's flight got in last Wednesday at 2. We had lunch at a pho place and then went to Sports Basement to get last minute stuff for camping. I also bought a purple rashguard top since I wanted to look as sausage-like as possible in all the pictures. We then went to a free Celtic music concert in Redwood City featuring Molly's Revenge.Although the concert was part of the same summer series as the Tempest concert a few weeks ago, and the two bands frequently play together, the vibe was totally different this tie. This time it was definitely the yuppies (of the Bay Area mid-peninsula variety) with kids scene. Seriously, it was even worse then going to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's right after work. Although, form the looks of everyone's picnics, that's where they'd just been. Anyway, it was fun but I think I prefer other venues, particularly ones with single guys over the age of 5. After the concert we had sushi and then came back to my house.
On Thursday we got up, drove to Pt. Reyes and backpacked in to the campsite. it was about a 4 mile easy hike to Arch Rock, then a harder hike to the campsite (about another four miles.) There were some great ocean views, although the fog was really rolling in. There was a deceptively long uphill stretch,and I received multiple death threats from Sheila during this portion of the trail. Eventually, the trail leveled out, and then we were greeted with a view of a valley and beach. That was our campsite. We walked down the hill and found our campsite. The camp was nice. It was about 100 yards from the beach and there were two toilets, running water, and trash bins This was not exactly backwoods camping. I began to wish I'd packed some steaks and charcoal instead of couscous and foil packs of Indian food. Although our spot was officially a group campsite, we didn't have to share it.
We unpacked our stuff, put all the food in the raccoon-proof cabinet, and went down to the beach for a walk. When we returned, we drank mojitos and cooked our dinner. At this point the fog was turning into mist which was very close to turning into rain. We went to sleep rather than tough it out. In the tent, we could hear the waves crashing, with the occasional seal barking plus a few airplanes flying out of SFO.
The next day everything was completely drenched. It didn't really rain but it really misted. The night before, we put everything away except for our matches. Yes, we both have PhD's! We had breakfast and discovered that someone had walked off with out trail mix and some of our granola. Grr... I suspect the stoners at the next camp over. If this had been a multi-day backwoods trip we would've been in serious trouble. We walked to go see a waterfall on the beach and then packed up our gear and hiked out. We took a different trail, which was shorter and easier, although it was still 6 miles.
My knee help up fine on this trip. It helped that the trail was very even. I did roll my ankle when I got distracted by some good-looking guys, but it was no big deal.
Once we got back to the car we bought sandwiches at a deli and drove north to go see Drakes Beach + the lighthouse. There was some serious fog rolling in at the lighthouse. I found some sand dollars. The lighthouse was cool but we had to climb up a hill and then do a bunch of stairs. we were pretty tired. We came back and had dinner at Fiesta del Mar.
Fiesta del Mar and its' five sister restaurants are owned by an extended family. (Side note - it's a small world. When one of my coworkers was installing some reactors at JIRSA in Mexico City, one of the chemists there told him that her cousin owned one of the restaurants.) All the restaurants serve excellent Mexican food. The enjococado sauce (aka Grandma's secret sauce!) is not to be missed. It's a creamy orange sauce that they put on chicken dishes. We did our best to chat up the waiter and find out what the secret ingredients are, but he wouldn't tell us. I wasn't surprised - I've tried before, as have a lot of other people. I found a recipe on the internet, so I'm going to test it in an upcoming edition of Recipe Geek. Stay tuned! (Hint - oranges and ground almonds...)
On Saturday we went to Angel Island. We were slow moving in the morning and then hit a lot of traffic. We parked, got lunch and then got on the 1 pm ferry from Tiburon. I've never been to Angel Island before. It's pretty cool. We hiked to the top. It was sunny but SF was covered with fog. We couldn't even see the Golden Gate Bridge for more than a few seconds at a time. Once we were done with that trail it was around 4. we decided to catch the 4:30 ferry. We drove over to Rodeo Beach but it was foggy and cold, so we didn't stay long. it was around 6 pm at that point so we drove over to Sausalito for dinner. We went to a seafood restaurant right on the bay. Sheila's new iPod was very helpful with its restaurant app. We got really lucky and got a table right away, but it then filled up immediately. If we'd gotten there just a few minutes later we would have had a 1 - 1 1/2 hour wait. We could see Angel Island and the ferries from our table. That was massively cool.
After dinner, we drove back to my place. It was too short a visit, but nonetheless I was exhausted. After I dropped Sheila of at the airport at 6:30 AM on Sunday I came back and slept until noon. Yes, I'm an old biddy.
Sheila's got a great photo blog and posted a lot of stuff from the trip. Scroll back through the photos until you get to the Point Reyes/Angel Island pictures.
Random note #1: We saw two dead seals. I wanted there to be a lot of seals for Sheila to photograph, but this was NOT what I had in mind. However, we also saw a pair of extremely feisty seals who were leaping in the water. That was really cool.
Random Note #2: The weather was very typical for this time of year. It can be gorgeous, sunny, and warm, but you get tons of fog once you're within a half mile of the Pacific Ocean.