Category Archives: Sauce

Trader Joe’s – Poutine Review

I’ll be the first to admit that I was never a fan of Trader Joe’s. I remember when family members would make a trek to one store, nearby downtown Milwaukee, and as we recently had one built not too far from where we currently live. I’ve been there, once, and bought random frozen products, only to be nearly disappointed every time I tried one of their products. I’ve asked my coworkers who live near the downtown location, and they also did not believe the hype. They’ve stated (and others) there are a couple of things that they did like about some of their stuff, including some of the jarred salsas, frozen Indian food, and wine specials. That is about it. Regardless, during last year’s Christmas season, my colleague gave me and my coworker a bag of Trader Joe’s poutine, yep, that’s how we roll in our office. Months later, I figured I would give these a try. As much as I love poutine, and I’ve made it before back in 2007, as well as put a twist on a chicken satay poutine (which rocked  by the way), who could go wrong, right?

Trader Joe's Poutine - Product Review

While looking at the bag, I had to somewhat drool. If you never had poutine, you are essentially getting french fries, drizzled or soaked in great gravy, and smothered with cheese curds. It’s pretty awesome. So when I opened the bag, I got a frozen packet of gravy, a frozen packet of cheese curds, and frozen french fries. Directions were simple, bake the fries until done, and simmer the two packets in hot water until cooked through.

Trader Joe's Poutine

When everything is ready, go ahead and assemble. I laid out the cooked fries, which looked good, onto a serving plate, then cut open the bag of gravy and curds. I squeezed the gravy all over the fries, and layered on the curds.

I then dug in. My first bite was just OK, second bite, less then OK, and it seemed to hang at that point from there on out. In all honesty, I was tasting every bite as though I was doing a product review. The fries were just OK, maybe slightly less than OK. I had to add salt, even though there was gravy and curds to be dealt with. The cheese curds kind of freaked me out to the point where I no longer wanted to eat them. Granted, the cheese curds had a great squeak to them, as every good cheese curd should, but the texture was totally off, and that is when the squeak freaked me out. I did not even want to look at the ingredients, or better yet what the hell that squeak was.

Overall, I would not purchase a bag of Trader Joe’s Poutine again, but I was appreciative of my colleague giving us the bag as a gift during that time. It really confirmed why I do not shop at Trader Joe’s, and I will continue to not believe the hype. If you are wanting poutine, make your own. You know what you are getting, and putting into your dish. Have you tried this product, and if so, what were your thoughts?

Chinese Fried Red Chili Sauce

I visit the Asian markets probably about twice a month. I often pick up green papaya for making som tam, maybe some dumplings, or siapao, and a couple of condiments. One of my favorite condiments is this Chinese fried red chili sauce. It’s basically a lot of red chili flakes, garlic, ginger, and fermented black beans that is slow cooked in a bunch of oil. It’s flipping amazing. I put it on everything, and I mean everything. It’s almost as addicting as Sriracha, but more mellow. It stores great as well which makes it even better. As I ran out, my buddy sent me a recipe that I tweaked ever so slightly, and it was just as good, if not better.

Chinese Red Chili Sauce

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of Chinese black fermented beans
  • 6 cloves garlic, grated into a paste
  • 2 tbsp ginger, grated into a paste
  • 1 cup red chili flakes
  • 2 tbsp dark sesame oil
  • 2 cups peanut oil
  • 1 tbsp salt

Start by adding the fermented black beans, and any remaining garlic ends into a food processor. Pulse until it is nice and fine.

How to make Chinese Fried Red Chili Sauce

Add the oil to a saucepan on medium-low heat. Add in the ginger, garlic, and fermented beans, along with the red chili flakes. Give a good stir, and cook for about 30 minutes, making sure the oil mixture stays at about 225 degrees. Once cooked at that temperature for 25 minutes, remove from the heat and let cool.

Once cooled, stored in a sealed tight container.

Chinese Fried Red Chili Sauce

Again, the sauce is awesome. It is perfect in every way. It’s not to spicy which is why it goes great with pretty much everything. I put it on my eggs in the morning, kebabs, rice, pasta, and well, you get the idea. Give this one a shot, I’m certain you will love it as much as I do.

Son-in-Law Eggs

I’ve told you before, but I will mention it again, I am a big fan of hard boiled eggs. They are so simple to make and provide a quick energy boost when you have a busy schedule. I have been hooked on the 8 minute eggs, but then again I am always thinking of other creative ideas such as these Son-in-Law eggs. If you have never heard of Son-in-Law eggs, don’t worry, that’s why I am here to tell you about them, and after you make them, you can thank me. Trust me, these are wickedly awesome.

I’m not too sure of the naming of this recipe, but it probably has something to do with having a man’s mother-in-law inflict a bit of fear into the man, that if you do not treat her daughter with respect and love, well, she will indeed inflect some fear into you and well, you probably get the point. But there is something beyond this, and something so amazing about the combination of flavor and texture that really makes this dish shine.

Son-in-Law Eggs Recipe

This is a perfect use of hard boiled eggs, and believe it or not, the eggs are deep fried. Yep, deep fried. Who would have thought?

The sauce has this great sourness and spice that when paired with the creamy deep fried egg and shallots, just blows ones mind. Again, trust me. You will probably want to use the sauce on things like fried chicken or fish. It’s awesome.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 3 whole eggs, cooked to your hard boil liking (I go with 8 minutes for a creamy, yet set yolk)
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp palm sugar (you could use light brown sugar as well)
  • 4 tbsp tamarind sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1 Thai chili pepper, smashed
  • 1 pinch of chili flakes
  • 3 cups of cooking oil for deep frying
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

Start by making your sauce.

Add the one tablespoon of cooking oil to a small pot. Bring to medium heat, then add in your garlic. Cook for about a minute, then toss in the fish sauce, palm sugar, tamarind, and chili pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes, then remove from the heat and set it to the side.

Peel your hard boiled eggs.

How to make Son-in-Law Eggs

Heat another pot with the cooking oil on medium heat. After a few minutes, add in the thinly sliced shallots, and cook for about 5 minutes or so, until they are lightly browned and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and set them on to some paper towel to drain.

Bring the oil back to about 350 degrees, then carefully add the peeled hard boiled eggs. Cook for about 8 minutes or so, until they are lightly browned. You can go longer if you want, but I always think they are going to explode. Once lightly browned, remove with the slotted spoon and let them drain on the paper towel, lightly patting.

Slice the eggs in half and add them to a serving plate. Shower the eggs with the fried shallots, then pour the sauce over the eggs. Shower with fresh cilantro and dig in. Feel free to serve with cooked jasmine rice if you desire.

Again, the flavor combination is out of this world. Thai food at it’s best in terms of texture, and flavor. Hope you enjoy!

 

Ramp and Basil Pistou

Last weekend was a blast. My wife and I (more so my wife) planted the vegetable and herb garden, and got all of our planting done. Not only that, but I was able to venture off and go on my first foraging adventure. I had signed up to go foraging for morel mushrooms with Braise restaurant some time ago, and I was really stoked to learn about mushrooms, and foraging in general. I was lucky enough to find three morels that weekend morning, along with a bunch of ramps, and violets. I donated the morels to the chef as he prepared a lunch after the hunt, but I did keep the ramps to be used in in pistou.

Ramp and Basil Pistou

Pistou is much like a pesto, however pine nuts are not used, and well, I’m a big fan of that. I actually prefer a pistou over a pesto as I like it’s texture much better. Pistou’s can be used in salads, sandwiches, or pastas to name a few, and they can also be made with a variety of herbs, not just basil.

Let’s get started.

  • 1 cup ramp leaves, loosely packed
  • 1 cup of fresh Italian basil, leaves only
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ~ 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp salt

Add the garlic, herbs, cheese, and salt to a food processor. Turn on and slowly start drizzling in the olive oil. Store in a sealed container until you are ready to use.

How to make pistou

I used mine in a simple pasta dish by adding about 1/2 cup to one pound of cooked penne pasta. It was super awesome, and simple. Who doesn’t love that right?

Ramps and Morel Mushrooms

The result is a sauce that had that subtle hint of onion and garlic, along with that great basil.