CATEGORIES

Mikey’s food resolutions for 2013

Happy New Year foodie friends! My first resolution is to post more regularly here. Beyond that, here are some of my food resolutions for 2013, and feel free to add yours in the comments or by e-mail to mikeyskitchen@gmail.com.

1. Create two new original recipes per month. Any of you that are creative types know that getting started is the most difficult part. But once you figure out your medium (meat/veggies/sauce/herbs/spices), the possibilities are endless.

2. Try four new foods I’ve never tried before. This one is tricky as I am not the kind of person who wants anything to do with foods like snails or even squid. But one new food item every three months? I think I can do that without having to try anything too far out of my comfort zone.

3. Make better use of a local specialty. In Wisconsin, that would be cheese. I have had some of the best cheddars of my life here in Madison, and yet there are so many other varieties. Maybe this will also go hand in hand with both #1 and #2.

4. Eat less junk and eat more healthy but tasty food. That means less packaged chips and crackers and more homemade beef jerky or celery with spicy hummus. It can be done.

5. Create a new column or two. The first idea I have is to re-create vintage food items that I can’t find or that no longer exist. The first of these–Buitoni’s toaster pizzas. I think I have written about these before, and I miss them dearly. But I think with some experimentation, even without an elaborate test kitchen, I can work on coming close to re-creation. Intrigued? So am I.

6. Figure out a better way to organize recipes. We have mountains of magazines and cookbooks, and it’s getting scary. I try and clip recipes, and toss magazines when I can, but it’s hard to keep up. But hey, it’s winter time in Madison, and that means it’s freaking cold outside and time for indoor projects. No excuses.

7. Watch more food TV. Not necessarily Food Network, but any of the other food related shows that are popping up on various channels. Or maybe just watch all of the episodes of Sandwich King and Best Thing I Ever Made or The Minimalist on DVR for a change.

Okay, that’s enough for now. Any more, and I won’t even try to keep said resolutions. Now let’s get cooking….

Bacon and egg torpedo

Sometimes you just gotta eat a pile of bacon. I didn’t know what I wanted for breakfast this morning, and pulled out some bacon. I took four thick slices out and cut them in half, and put them on the bacon tray. So that meant 8 short slices of delicious bacon. Now what? I spotted some hot dog rolls, and then it came to me–a little sub of sorts…..a torpedo. Of course, sometimes you have to accent the bacon with a scrambled egg, and you have to then accent that with cheese. So I stacked the bacon on the bun, put the egg on top and the cheese on top of that, and closed it up.

Bam–the bacon and egg torpedo. If I would have thought about it, and if I wasn’t so hungry that I didn’t have time to look for them, I would have thinly sliced up some jalapeno too for some good, clean heat. But hey, it was still pretty good.

Foods I miss from…..Cleveland

After living in New York from when I was born until I was around 27 or 28, I moved to Cleveland and kick-started my life and career in various ways that, while involving many twists and turns, were somewhat defining. I also went through various phases of food experimentation–and back in the late ’80′s, and ’90′s there was a lot of low-fat this and that, and less meat. Thankfully the pendulum for that stuff swung back toward high protein, low-carb, which is still not ideal (I want to eat everything, yo), but, well, I love bacon. Let’s leave it at that.

Anyway, as was the case when I moved away from New York, moving from Cleveland to Nashville left a void in some areas food-wise. And so here are a few items I miss and still do from the Buckeye state…..

Aladdin’s–okay so this isn’t a food item as much as it’s a restaurant, but it’s something I have to have when going back there. Aladdin’s is a local chain that serves delicious and inexpensive Middle Eastern food. They have great stuff like hummus, stuffed grape leaves and falafel. But it’s more than that–they have some delicious signature items like pita pizzas and one I miss in particular is the one with spicy chicken, peas, fried onions and a spicy tomato mixture. Also, they have these smoothies that you can get with combinations of fruits and vegetables. Seriously, they make veggies more palatable than you can imagine using a blender.

Pad thai–I’ve never had pad thai like the pad thai at Phnom Penh in Cleveland. It’s….wait for it…..Phnomenal. Sadly, I haven’t been back there since moving in 2003, but maybe next time. I mean, we have great Thai and Vietnemese and Laoatian food here in Madison, but….

Pizza–There really is great pizza in Cleveland. There is Mama Santa’s, Tasty, Geraci’s on the east side. There is Antonio’s and Santos on the west side. This is all coming from a New Yorker too.

West Side Market–There is nothing like the West Side Market in Cleveland. It’s an institution, and you can get all kinds of fresh produce, but also the indoor portion has vendors selling meat, bakery products, cheese, nuts, candies, and more. It was always fun to go there hungry, and we try to get to the market whenever we are in town. My mouth is watering thinking of the spicy jerky at this one place, and I think Michael Symon profiled it on The Best Thing I Ever Ate on Food Network once.

Krispy Kreme Donuts–I don’t think there is a single donut shop in Madison. In fact, you have to go to grocery stores and gas stations to find donuts at all. Yikes. But the ones in Krispy Kreme are freaking heavenly. The glazed ones in particular are their signature item, and it’s quite easy to down five or six at a sitting (no, I really haven’t ever actually tried that. No, really!).

Homemade granola/fruit bars–The Arabica coffee shop at University Circle has these pastries they sell at the counter, and they are like granola bars with a layer of cherry or berry preserves. And I go way out of my way to get some no matter how long we are in town for. In fact, last time I think I brought home a dozen.

Tommy’s fries–Tommy’s in Cleveland Heights has amazing french fries, but also makes some mean sandwiches and veggie creations. Oh, and milk shakes!

I know there is more. But we’ll have to just re-visit this column from time to time!

It’s Grilled Cheese Month!

Grilled cheese sandwiches. Who doesn’t love them? Well, it’s your month–April, specifically, is Grilled Cheese Month. I have a few ideas of sandwiches I’d like to create, but the first one I tried yesterday was killer–maybe literally if you eat too many of them, but I digress….and digest. I give to you, the Wisconsin cheddar/bratwurst grilled cheese.

First of all, as I may have mentioned before, it’s best to use real butter for these. Set a stick out and let it get to room temperature to soften. And get some good sturdy bread, preferably as I did that I cut from a loaf, but not too thick that the cheese won’t melt. This particular sandwich is best with white, rye or pumpernickel bread.

For this sandwich, I found some mini-brats at Trader Joe’s, and cooked those in a skillet over medium heat. I added water after they started to brown, just like cooking sausage, although these are fully cooked and probably didn’t need to be cooked through too much more. If you can’t find these mini-brats, you can use sliced regular brats. After cooked, slice two of the links in half lengthwise, and set them aside (or slice into 1/4 inch rounds for larger links). Shred some good cheddar and set that aside. Butter the outside of two bread slices, and spread some thousand island dressing on the inside of one or both bread halves (you can buy it or make your own mixing mayo, ketchup/chili sauce, and sweet pickle relish). Put a pat of butter in a small nonstick skillet and warm over medium heat until just melted. Lay the brat pieces on the inside of the bread, and then put about 1/3 of a cup of shredded cheese on top. Close the sandwich, and cook in the pan for about 2 minutes or until browned, and then flip it over and cook for another 1 minute or until browned. The second side takes a much shorter amount of time.

Slice and serve with pickles, chips and a cold beer (or a frosty root beer or cola is even good with grilled cheese). Oh, and tomato soup, but it’s getting too warm for soup already. Oh wait, I had mine with these kickass sweet/hot peppers from Trader Joe’s…..you’d think I was on their payroll, right?

Enjoy the weekend everyone!

Why diets are a downer

I have excellent intentions every new year. I start every January on a diet and sometimes they last a few months, sometimes a few hours. I started this one on Monday and have made it thus far to the end of Wednesday doing the South Beach Diet, and if you have done this particular diet you know that the first two weeks (Phase 1) are extremely restrictive–no carbs of any kind. That means only meat, dairy, vegetables, eggs, beans and nuts. And it’s freaking HARD. Especially if you’ve been just eating whatever for whenever. And I think the reason so many of us fail at dieting is that we go from eating so bad to so good so fast, as I just did.

I’m not saying I can’t keep it up, but let me tell you a few reasons why all I want tonight is a huge plate of fries, a pizza and a whole coconut cream pie. One, I haven’t had time to adequately plan, which has left me scrounging for jerky and nuts mostly. Oh and sugar free candy. You get sick of these items real fast, believe me. Secondly, the broccoli cheese soup I made yesterday was great, but for whatever reason my belly was not happy yesterday. And today it really wasn’t happy after I ate it again for lunch. Finally, my breath smells like a large metropolitan market’s sewage plant. I know this because my wife keeps reminding me of it. And I can just feel how bad my breath smells.

Mrs. Mike is on Weight Watchers, so it’s pretty easy for us to synch these diets. But I have a feeling we’re about to binge, and try to start this diet again (or skip to Phase 2) tomorrow or the next day, or Monday!

Do you have diet horror stories, or anything else you’d like to share this January?

Mikey’s Food Resolutions for 2012

The last few years, Mrs. Mike and I have done New Year’s resolutions together on New Year’s Day. And I must say, we’ve stuck to many of them, often referring to our lists as the year wears on. That’s what resolutions are intended for, but many of us forget about them on or around January 3. But I thought it would be fun to put together a few food resolutions for 2012–feel free to add yours below or on Facebook:

Try one new kind of cheese per month–I started doing this in 2011 and got sidetracked or disinterested. But wait, I live in Wisconsin. Disinterested? Not an option, so I’m going to follow through this time. There are simply too many good cheeses to try in this part of the country.

Try a few things that are out of my comfort zone–I’m not a big fan of seafood, or anything in the organ meat vicinity. But in a meal at Graham Elliott in Chicago this past September, Mrs. Mike and I had a meal that had cooked fish; a deconstructed Caesar salad with a whole anchovy on top; and a foie gras lollipop with watermelon pop rocks. That was enough out of comfort zone for a whole year for me, but the foie gras was phenomenal–and I’m glad I took a step out of my comfort zone to try it.

Eat less junk–and by junk I mean stuff like candy, snack cakes and greasy chips. I am vowing to get back into shape in the New Year, and especially after having back surgery in February. And while I don’t think there is anything wrong with occasional junk food, I ate far too much of it in 2011. Time to start eating more nuts, dried fruit and sensible snacks when possible.

Work even harder to eat what’s in season–we belong to a CSA (community supported agriculture) but found ourselves not using everything in our box before some of it went bad. I want to make more of an effort on that one.

Teach our son to eat better–our four year old, who has autism, is very picky about his food. We work hard on this, but it’s extremely difficult to get him to open his mind with food. I think we can work harder at it.

Revive “a can a week”–that was a fun column I started here but need to revive it, reviewing a canned food item per week, be it a new product or one that we’ve been eating for decades.

Use the deep fryer more–I don’t think I took that thing out at all in 2011, and that’s a shame. Who doesn’t love fried food (except me, when my doctor is reading this!)?

Find more cool restaurants and review them here–We live in Madison, one of the coolest food cities on the planet. Mrs. Mike and I love trying new places to eat but need to do so more often. And I’ll bring you the play by play here.

DVR more food shows–I keep seeing press releases and then forget to DVR the shows.

Eat more tofu–seriously? No, that was a joke. Blech.

Thanks for reading, and happy new year!

Quick breakfast frito pie

Don’t tell your cardiologist about this one. Also, don’t tell my doctor, either. But I whipped this up this past weekend and it was too delicious not to share with you. And it’s real easy. It also was the perfect breakfast after I had a few beers Friday night.

First, take a generous handful of Frito’s and put then in a shallow bowl. Cook 2 slices of bacon in the microwave (or as you would normally cook bacon) for about 2 minutes or until crisp. Cut 3-4 slabs of Velveeta off a hunk and cut that into smaller cubes. Sprinkle over the Fritos and nuke for about 30 seconds. Crumble bacon on top of Frito mixture. Meanwhile, spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and warm over medium heat. Crack an egg (or two) into the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes or until the whites are set and yolk is still runny. Slide egg(s) onto the top of the Frito mixture and sprinkle with hot sauce. Serve with a big glass of OJ or big mug of coffee, and enjoy (trust me, you will!).

Bacon woes

I had good intentions with another bacon recipe to post this past weekend, but lo and behold, not every recipe I develop is any good. My plan was to take refrigerated crescent rolls, and fill them with bacon and sausage and cheese. Mmmmm, breakfast-y goodness, right? Well, not really, and this makes me wonder how many recipes out there that are really good actually fail sometimes and fail as miserably as my breakfast sandwich.

I cooked a bunch of bacon, and our 4-year old son ate more of it than I needed. That’s my boy. I was left with two slices. I cooked a link of turkey breakfast sausage. Then I took the rolls out or should I say, Mrs. Mike and I (mostly her) had to fight to open the package, which should have been our first sign. I won’t say the brand, because I don’t want to throw anyone under the bus here, but I will say this–the crescent rolls I bought were butter flavored. Now, you’d think that anything’s better with butter, right? The catch here is I don’t think it’s real butter we’re talking about.

Anyway, I assembled the roll by pinching two triangles together to make a rectangle, and then I laid down some cheese, bacon and the sausage link and rolled that sucker up. I baked it for a few minutes longer than what the recipe suggested, and took a bite. B-L-E-C-H. I took another bite. B-L-E-C-H. It was the butter flavored roll, not anything else that made it disgusting. I imagine that with normal crescent rolls or biscuits, this sandwich would taste really good. But I haven’t recovered from that vile butter taste to give it a go.

I will say this, though…..it’s been fun writing about bacon and coming up with recipes, so why not extend bacon week for another little while? I’ll be preoccupied for a few days but will deliver more bacon posts next week and into the following week before turning our attention to Halloween candy. Sound good? I thought so.

Maple-y bacon breakfast sandwich

Psst, don’t tell your cardiologist about this one.

Last week, I saw Eggo French Toast Waffles, which are more of a waffle and less like French toast (the key is there is maple syrup baked in), in the freezer case at the grocery store. I thought our 4-year old would like these, so I picked them up. Then of course, I realized it’s bacon week and anything goes.

So this morning, I toasted two of these “waffles,” and scrambled some eggs. I cooked up two slices of thick cut bacon in the microwave. When the pillows of maple goodness were toasted, I put a slice of cheese down on one of them, then topped with the scrambled eggs and the bacon slices and put the other waffle on top. And there you have a breakfast sandwich that is every bit as tasty as it sounds, and looks (above).

Chicago meal number 1–The Purple Pig

Mrs. Mike and I rolled into Chicago last Friday night, sans kid–that meant that it didn’t matter how late we arrived, that we could just drop our luggage and go grab some grub. And we did just that as the clock struck 10pm. The first place we intended to check out was called The Purple Pig–and their theme is “swine, wine and cheese.” It sounded too funky and cool to pass up. So we were disappointed at the 60 minute wait. However, the hostess assured us that a lot of folks did not stay, so that it could be much less than 60 minutes.

We thought about not staying, but then decided to just have a drink and see what happened. Turns out 60 minutes was more like 3 minutes, and we were thrilled. Then we got a look at the crazy menu–which had sections such as appetizers, fried items, sandwiches, cheeses, sausages, and main courses. It is a tasting menu too, with most dishes being small portions that are meant to be shared.

Okay. So we ordered some wine, and then chose a few food items–salt roasted beets with goat cheese and pistachios; fried manchego cheese; fried olives with chorizo; a coppa, cheese and fennel panini; and a JLT–their take on a BLT with the J standing for “jowels,” i.e. pork cheeks, i.e. just real tender ham-like meat. Anyway, Mrs. Mike was willing to try the fried pig ear and/or the bone marrow, but not me. The jowels were the extent of my ambition.

Anyway, the beets were sweet, salty and had the creamy cheese–a crazy combination of flavors that just worked. The cheese was in squares and along with the really tasty olives were like sophisticated bar food. Seriously, that was some killer fried cheese. The panini was good, but the JLT was better–and the duck egg on top was the weirdest part of it. So much for tasting menus– we were rolling out of there, and ordered dessert to go–a nutella, banana and whipped cream panini–that I could not force a bite of until the following morning.

But the meal itself, and especially the experience, was a great start to our weekend in Chicago.

Related Posts