These Are a Few of My Favorite Foods

This week’s prompt from Ginger at Ramble Ramble? Make us all hungry–what are your top 10 favorite foods (individual foods, or full meals, your choice)?

Well, I do love food. So here goes.

1) Steak. I don’t eat it often, but I do like it. My all-time favorite was the dry-aged New York Strip at the Chicago Chop House. But I’m certainly not going to turn down Fogo de Chao’s fraldinha or prime rib at Lawry’s. Or Ruth’s Chris. Or Morton’s. Mind you, I’ll need a gift card to go to any of these places. Oh, and while we’re on the subject–medium rare.

2) Ice cream. I’d meet my poorly identified weight and fitness goals more quickly if I stopped eating ice cream.

3) Potatoes. I love them so much, I once–no joke–gave them up for Lent.

4) Mu shu pork. This is one of my key comfort foods. I don’t need the pancakes.

5) Pancakes. Although I love them beyond mu shu. I’m still working on my perfect recipe, but that’s okay, because it means I get to eat pancakes.

6) Chocolate-chip cookies. I make the recipe on the back of the Nestle package, with some slight variations. I could eat these all day, which is why I rarely make them.

7) Corn. Corn on the cob. Corn in soup. Corn pudding. Creamed corn. Fritos. Pass the corn.

8) Tomato sandwiches.

corn and tomatoes from garden

9) Clam chowder. I like the thin milky, buttery kind, not the thicker kind, although I’m certainly not going to turn that down if you offer it to me.

10) Vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting. I also like lemon. And coconut.

Mom-Friendly Meals: Shrimp and Potatoes in Garlic Butter

I love shrimp. Love, love, love it. Yet for some reason, I almost never cook with it. I’m trying to change that, though, because I have come to the conclusion–quite vocally, if you check with Mr. Sandwich–that I don’t like chicken.*

So a couple of weeks ago, we bought a bag of frozen shrimp at Costco. Surprisingly, it was not enough shrimp to feed all of Los Angeles–but we will get several meals out of it. We started last night (well, the night before, because the shrimp had to thaw) with this dish.

First, I cut up some Yukon Gold potatoes into chunks and boiled them until they were cooked, at which point I drained them.

Then I deveined the shrimp (it didn’t take as long as I always imagine it will; this stage was done before the potatoes finished cooking). In a skillet, I melted about half a stick of butter and sauteed some minced garlic. You know how people say not to use the pre-minced garlic that you can buy in jars? Well, we use it anyhow. It’s easier.

Once the garlic started to brown, I added the shrimp and flipped them once after about 2 minutes. You want to be careful not to overcook them, because they can get tough. Meanwhile, I returned the potatoes to the pan and dry steamed them to remove any additional moisture. After I turned over the shrimp, I added the potatoes to the skillet and tossed everything to coat with the butter and garlic.

Shrimp and Potatoes

Then we ate it.

You might want to have some vegetables, too. That’s always a good idea.

*Except fried chicken. I still like that. Because it is fried.

Meal Planning

I want to do it. I just have a lot of trouble finding the time to sit down and think about it.

Fortunately, last night we had friends over for dinner (afterward I realized that this was the first playdate we’ve hosted, and it went pretty well overall); we made pulled pork sandwiches with cole slaw, Ranch Style Beans, mashed potatoes, and roasted asparagus.

And when I say “made,” I mean that the only things we actually made ourselves were the potatoes and asparagus. Everything else came straight from the store or was assembled.

But we have lots of leftovers (except for asparagus), so there are a few meals there.

And I’ve got a Crock Pot full of steel-cut oats, so there are some breakfasts.

Really, I think we’ll be pretty set as long as I make one more dish today. So should I clear out some space in the freezer by making meatball and tortellini soup? Or should I have something hearty but light and make more curried lentils and brown rice?

Decisions, decisions.

Fogo de Chão

Are you a vegetarian? Well, Fogo de Chao is not the restaurant for you. But if you, like the Sandwiches, are an unrepentant carnivore, then this may be just what you’re looking for.

When you are shown to your seat, the host explains the system: first, start with the salad bar. Then, when you’ve finished with your salad, take the red paper disk by your place setting and flip it over so that the green side is displayed.

A tip: restrain yourself at the salad bar. While everything is delicious, you didn’t come here for the salad. You came to display the green side of your disk.

With that cue, servers come by with skewers of meat–a wide range of cuts of beef, pork, chicken, and lamb, as well as linguica. They carve the meat directly onto your plate, and the servers don’t stop until you’ve flipped that disk back to red.

My favorites were the fraldinha, a seasoned cut from the bottom sirloin; bacon-wrapped chicken breast (one of the frango options); and, most of all, the lombo–pork filet in a parmesan cheese crust. Mr. Sandwich particularly liked the fraldinha, the chicken, and the filet mignon.

In addition, there were side dishes (garlic mashed potatoes, caramelized bananas, and crispy polenta), as well as pão de queijo, a small roll with a tiny dollop of mild but rich cheese in the center. The meal was followed by the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had, and that was the decaf. I have no idea what desserts they offer; neither of us had room, and I didn’t want to know what I was missing.

Beyond that, the service was attentive and responsive. This is clearly an establishment that wants you to have a good experience, and they make sure that happens.

This was a wonderful splurge, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Go hungry.

We’re Cooking with Gas

Sandwich Père and Sandwich Belle-mere came to visit this weekend, and today Aunt and Uncle Sandwich joined us. As you might imagine, there was a lot of food.

Friday night the four of us went to the Canoga Park Yang Chow. We’ve been to the Chinatown location several times, and were delighted to find that the closer location also has fantastic black bean sauce, as well as excellent dry sauteed string beans.

Saturday morning found us at Vip’s, reputed to be John Wooden’s favorite diner. I’ve yet to see Coach there, but if he comes for the pancakes, then it’s clear that his expertise extends far beyond sports. (My favorite pancakes in L.A. are still at Rae’s Diner in Santa Monica, but Vip’s are worth repeat trips.)

That evening, following a trip to the ER that turned out just fine, we ordered pizza from Brooklyn Pizza. One medium pepperoni and one medium Hawaiian later, we were sated. Another of our Westside favorites was The Coop, which had excellent New York-style pizza; Brooklyn Pizza seems like an excellent alternative.

Today was a whirlwind of cooking, to meet a variety of dietary requirements and preferences. Fortunately, I was able to find a menu that met everyone’s needs. So what did I cook?

For brunch:
Sour cream coffee cake
Scrambled eggs
Sausage links

For dinner:
Rosemary-ranch chicken skewers
Mashed potatoes
Grilled bell peppers and onions
String beans

Why, yes, I am exhausted.

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday. Mr. Sandwich’s parents are coming over, and here’s what we’re feeding them:

creamed corn (recipe from Lawry’s)
roasted asparagus
cheesy potatoes
Triple Sec pound cake.

So what is everyone thankful for? I’m thankful for friends and family, and for our new home. Most of all I’m thankful, as I am every day, for Mr. Sandwich.

Grillmasters, part 1

This weekend my dad and stepmom came to visit, and to see the new house. We had family and a few close friends over on Saturday, for the first of many (or at least several) housewarmings. In spite of the fires raging around the Southland, we cooked burgers, dogs, and chicken drumsticks over a borrowed charcoal grill.

Indeed, we are good citizens.

But we didn’t set fire to anything–not even the food–and a good time was had by all.

The next day, the four of us (Mr. Sandwich, Sandwich Père, Sandwich Belle-mere, and me) traveled to more than one hardware store so that we could host future events–and just cook dinner–on a grill of our own. We decided on propane; while both of us appreciate the romance of the charcoal grill, we also appreciate the ease and predictability of propane.

Last night I stopped by the supermarket to pick up a New York strip steak for the inauguration of our new grill. We sprinkled Barbecue of the Americas (a Penzeys spice mix), black pepper, and rosemary, and let it sit for 30 minutes. Then we grilled it about three and a half minutes per side, so that it was seared on the outside and pink in the middle.

The rest of the meal? Maple-glazed carrots, mashed potatoes, and the ubiquitous Ranch Style Beans for Mr. Sandwich. (He does love those beans.)

I don’t have the camera on me, so photos will come in a later post.

Potato Mania

This weekend, Mr. Sandwich and I made a trip to Salt Lake City and Idaho. Well, mostly Idaho. And considering that we flew to Utah on Saturday and came back on Monday, there really wasn’t that much of anywhere.

I can say, though, that Idaho is beautiful. We only saw the stretch along I-15 between Salt Lake City and Idaho Falls, but the mountains, valleys, and farmlands were breathtaking.

As we were driving north, we saw a billboard that said only

Then. as we approached the town of Blackfoot, we saw one of those brown highway signs that indicates a cultural or historical site. It said “Potato Museum, next exit.”

I turned to Mr. Sandwich and said, “If we have time on our way back, I totally want to stop there.”

This may seem odd, but I love potatoes. I love them so much that one year I gave them up for Lent. And it was the hardest Lenten sacrifice I ever made. I did really well right up until Thursday of Holy Week, when partway through dinner I said, “Wow. These potatoes are really good. These potatoes are. Oh. Potatoes.”

After leaving the highway, we followed additional signs and wound our way through town for a couple of miles. And then we found this:

Irresistible, no?

But perhaps you need more:

Lured in by the king of potatoes, we took the tour. It cost $2.50 each with the AAA discount, and the exhibits traced the origins and spread of potatoes (thank you, Columbian Exchange!) and presented an array of farming techniques and equipment.

On our way out, the woman at the desk said, “Oh, since you paid for the tour, you get these.” She handed us each a carton of freeze-dried Nonpareil Homestyle Hash Browns. And do you know what it says on the top of the carton?