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September, 2011 | Manolo's Food Blog
Archive - September, 2011

Sunday Food Porn: Farewell to All That

Thai Ice Cream Pr0n

Thai Ice Cream Pr0n

Goodbye, Summer! It’s not you; it’s not me. It’s September! There is only one solution to this conundrum: Affogato!


You’re a bad role model, that’s what you are!

And last month he was coffee; this month he's tea. So hard to keep track!

And last month he was coffee; this month he's tea. So hard to keep track!

Quote of the day, via Dane Morgan:

Once there was a little teapot, short and stout. But then some of the other utensils in the kitchen started making fun of it on the internet and it went on a diet. Now no one gets to drink tea any more. the end.


It’s beginning to look a lot like…

Autumn. How do I know? The change of the seasons as heralded by the Starbucks menu board.

Batman has a love hate relationship with pumpkin spice lattes

Batman has a love hate relationship with pumpkin spice lattes

But it’s not just Gotham City that’s been visited by early Autumnal bevvies:



Chicago, you bear the burden of being ahead of your time. As for us here in Upper Muskox, even the tomato plants are wearing sweaters now, and a week of frost has done for my basil harvest, withered in its prime like a deflated Kardashian Sister (if one of them ever springs a leak, it’ll be like the Dead Sea in a radius of about 15 feet but where was I).

The pumpkin spice latte is all very well, but you could always, you know, just not order it until later in the season. It’s not like they’ve discontinued ice. And this is as handy a place as any to re-post my Starbucks Without Tears guide for getting the Starbucks Experience absolutely wired. Seven years of working there has to pay off somehow, if only in blog filler. This isn’t exhaustive, obviously, but it has sound tips for negotiating your way through the forest of mochawhippichhinolattes and so on, to the goal of real espresso flavour.

1- order a cappuccino instead of your regular latte and you’ll cut calories by half and get a stronger espresso flavour at the same time.

2- if you want to drink less fatty dairy in your espresso drinks, but hate skim, order 2%. Sure, it’s not on the menu, but any competent barista will simply mix equal parts whole and skim in the cup for a good approximation of 2%. [UPDATE: now 2% is standard, but you can work this trick, splitting 2% with half skim and get 1% too. You can even do this to lower the fat in eggnog lattes]

3- to use less sugar in your espresso drink, sprinkle half your normal amount of loose sugar on the foam crust and don’t stir it in. Drinking through the sugar crust makes the drink taste sweeter for whatever reason. White sugar works better than plantation sugar because the grains are finer

4- DON’T ORDER THE VENTI!!!! Sorry to bust out the all caps, people, but this is crucial. A venti-sized drink is 20 ounces of liquid. I used to feed horses for a living, and horses will drink 20 ounces of liquid at a time. People watching their weight shouldn’t. I once read a calorie chart in a diet book that included the calorie count of a venti mocha; people who need diet books shouldn’t be drinking venti anythings. [this was written before they had the latest size, the Gut Buster I think they call it?]

5- on that note, Starbucks does still offer the small size, a Short, even though it’s not on the menu. It’s cheaper than a tall, too, and because it has the same number of espresso shots in smaller volume, the coffee taste is stronger than in the same drink in a tall size. A short is eight ounces, or about twice what a coffee cup used to hold in the Sixties and Seventies, so it’s not like you’ll waste away; it is still a substantial size.

6- frappuccinos without whipped cream are technically low-fat, and don’t have as many calories as you’d think, because they’re primarily ice. The lowest-calorie frappuccino is also my favorite and also not on the menu: an espresso frappuccino. That is just a regular coffee frappuccino with a shot of espresso added. Because the espresso takes up an ounce that would otherwise be creamy frap mix, the drink has fewer calories than a plain one, and a great espresso flavour.

7- which reminds me, a quick and tasty way to reduce calories is to order the same size drink you normally do, but add an extra shot of espresso. A shot of espresso has three to six calories, while an ounce of milk has several times that.

8- drinks always taste better in “for here” cups, partly because they’re generally kept heated on top of the espresso bar. You can also use your own travel mug (don’t worry if it has the logo of another cafe on the side; nobody minds) and save ten cents at most cafes while helping the environment.

9- the best way to get in and out in a hurry is just as Lifehacker suggests: order a tall coffee and (my contribution) have exact change in your free hand; you may not even need to go near the till, if the baristas are efficient enough about working the lineup.

10- tea, of course, has no calories. Coffee itself only has about five in a strong cup, but people often find tea doesn’t seem to need sweetening the way coffee does, particularly herbal, fruit-based teas like licorice root or dried berry. Teas are, if you think about it, essentially weak vegetable extract, and contain many health-boosting phytochemicals. I’m not talking about those diuretic “dieter’s teas” that keep you in the bathroom all day; those are no good, particularly as nobody can admire your slimness if you’re stuck in the bathroom stall all damn day.

11- green and black teas (oolong to a lesser extent) contain tannic acid, which is a mild, easily tolerated muscle relaxant. If you’re stiff, you get jitters from coffee, or you’ve got cramps of any kind, give these teas a try. Red wine works too, but it’s more expensive and you can’t get that in most Starbucks.

12- caffeine enhances the effectiveness of the painkillers ibuprofen, codeine, ASA, and acetominophen, so if you are taking any of those, consider taking them with coffee or tea. This appears to be variable: most people get the effect, while for some it does nothing whatsoever. Test it and see how it works for you.

13- cafe mochas have measurable amounts of fiber in them, but you’d need to drink almost a hundred a day to meet your dietary requirement; there are cheaper ways to achieve regularity. I just put that in here because what the hell: it’s amusing.

14- that stuff called “nondairy creamer”? It’s an incredibly fattening petroleum byproduct, not a food. Cream is a lower-calorie choice; this stuff is offered for those who have lactose intolerance or other reasons to avoid dairy (and it was invented before we had soy milk). I had a customer at Starbucks who used to order grande mochas made from the stuff, until I asked him why one day and he told me that his doctor had him on a strict diet to reduce his cholesterol, calories and fat. I talked him into drinking black coffee instead of the 1100 calorie monstrosityhe’d been drinking, thinking it was healthy. Seriously, if you keep Coffee Mate around, consider buying powdered skim instead.

15- ask to read the label of the soymilk your cafe uses, if you’re a soymilk drinker. Not all of them are fortified with calcium and vitamin D, although people assume they are, and it can be quite high in fat as well. Soymilk is not nutritionally identical to milk, so read the label and make an educated decision. And apparently Almond Milk has half the calories of skim and more protein at the same time!

16- ask your barista for recommendations. They are generally very knowledgeable and love the chance to use their learning. Tell them what issues you’re dealing with, eg “I am lactose-intolerant and diabetic, but I really miss my vanilla cappuccinos. Is there something else I can order?”

17- here’s a recipe for homemade frappuccinos, if you’re into that sort of thing. You can mix up your own flavours: I like coffee and peanut butter (no, you may not laugh at me).

18- if you want something indulgent but not a total calorie-bomb, try espresso con panna, espresso with whipped cream. It’s definitely got that decadent feeling, but only a dollop of cream, and you feel so pleasurably Eurotrashy, sipping from your tiny little cup.


What the hell is Galangal?

It sounds like something nasty or something that you have pierced, but only if you are kind of a freak.


I love the tv show Chopped. It is on the Food Network. It is the perfect complement (antithesis?) to the Iron Chef (America, sadly, because I can’t seem to find the original around any more). The perfect ratio is about 5 Chopped’s and then 1 Iron Chef. The Iron Chef is just kind of a palate cleanser to show you what great chefs with staffs of helpers, virtually any ingredient they want, and advance notice, can do.

Chopped is better. This is the show where you get four professional chefs, but usually your average Joe chef who works in some smaller restaurant in New York and wants to win 10,000 dollars. They get a mystery basket for each course (Ted Allen “For the entree course you get – beef tenderloin, sour worms, feta cheese and GALANGAL!”) Which leads me to my somewhat of a complaint.

Do they make these things up? What the hell is Galangal? Where do you get it? Why does it exist? I have never in my life even heard of galangal, and I am reasonably well read and conversant in food. Not a professional or anything, but seriously – Galangal?

Now, before you yell at me, I googled it up, so I now know what it means, and that it is not a made up term – although, Ted Allen might be messing with Wikipedia, hmmm- and here is a picture, although I could also post a picture of the “moon landing” as if that proves anything.

There, rant done – for now.

Does this actually exist? GALANGAL!


But...is it decaf nonfat ricenog? I asked for decaf nonfat ricenog!

But...is it decaf nonfat ricenog? I asked for decaf nonfat ricenog!

Time to rub the crumbs of sleep out of our eyes and frappé la rue; we’re back to regular blogging chez ManoloFoods. What’s that you say? The coffee’s just not doing it for you?

Well, maybe what you need is a little pastry to go with:

In what must have seemed like a scene straight from a movie, hundreds of Orthodox Greek mourners were mistakenly served kourabiedes, a traditional Greek biscuit, at a funeral reception. Shortly after tasting the biscuits, the guests started acting incredibly strangely and the funeral bureau officers called the police.

Authorities and funeral goers were surprised to find out that instead of icing sugar, the biscuits had cocaine toppings sprinkled all over them.

MOURN FASTER! MOURN FASTER! Compared to the staid Anglicanism of my upbringing, this is looking mighty interesting; do you think it’s some kind of marketing outreach?

Just to keep you suitably off-balance, and in case you don’t happen to have any Greek mourning biscuits handy, we present this awesome tribute to David Lynch’s Coffee…

and a mashup of Wilkins Coffee pitches, from the revered, and apparently somewhat demented, Jim Henson.

Chicago Steakhouse Sandwich – This is a Great Sandwich

We were flipping through the channels the other day, which means mostly looking at the Food Network, Comedy Central, and wishing there was a Booze Network. We came across this show hosted by the Sandwich King, as he styles himself, Jeff Mauro.

He was doing two sandwiches on this show, the Greek Taco, which I have yet to try, and what he called a Chicago Steakhouse Sandwich. This sandwich turned out to be awesome. The first time I made it, I used his exact recipe, but did three things wrong, or weakly. First, I forgot the bleu cheese in the dressing, I used too little red pepper in the spinach (and I had thought I used a lot) and I did not get the garlic chips as crispy as I needed to.

The second time I made the recipe I used LOTS of red pepper, remembered the bleu cheese, but I used a nice grilled, lightly marinated tri-tip. This was less greasy, but still had great flavor and the sandwich was AWESOME. The only thing I would have done differently is maybe cooked up the spinach just a little closer to serving the sandwich, instead of 10 minutes before. It was just a bit too done. Should have done it closer to the serving time and also just a little less.

So, here is just a great sandwich recipe. Easy, quick and super tasty. Try it, you will not be disappointed. Kudo’s to the Sandwich King. And here is the link to his recipe, while below is almost exactly the same with just the recommendation of the tri-tip and a couple of small things like a much more generous amount of mustard.


What you need:


2-1/2 to 3 lb. tri-tip, trimmed. Marinate for about 2 hours in a plastic bag with 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup good soy sauce (not low sodium) and some crushed garlic)

Garlic Spinach:

3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
2 lbs. baby spinach
Salt and Pepper

Buttermilk Bleu Cheese Dressing:

1 tablespoon crumbled bleu cheese
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
black pepper as desired.


2 French baguettes, cut in 10 inch lengths, buttered and grilled.


Get grill very hot. Sear meat 5 minutes per side, then cook at medium heat turning often until it reaches desired doneness. I prefer medium well, but many would like it much rarer. Let meat rest for 5 minutes, tented in foil, before slicing in quarter inch slices.

For the sauteed spinach: Heat the oil and sliced garlic in a Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the garlic is golden brown and crispy. Remove the garlic put in paper towel. Add the crushed red pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the spinach and stir to combine. Cook over medium-high heat until the spinach is wilted but still bright in color, about 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper.

For the buttermilk blue cheese dressing: Mix the mayonnaise, buttermilk, blue cheese, dill, mustard and pepper together in a bowl and set aside. This can be mixed well in advance for flavors to mix. If you do it well in advance, keep it refrigerated.

To make the sandwich, layer meat, followed by spinach. Place garlic chips evenly about the sandwich and pour dressing on the sandwich. Eat and marvel at how tasty it is.

Finally, I encourage you to follow Jeff Mauro, Sandwich King on the Food Network. His show is great. Check your local listings for times.

Hurricane Irene and the Waffle House

Okay, I must admit that I live on the West Coast.  That being said, I might enjoy 45 seconds on the nightly news about how much the East Coast sucks.  Then an additional 45 seconds on these “hurricane” things that they make so big a deal about.  Then, move on to important stuff like how nice the weather is today in California.

Instead, I get 20 or 30 minutes of NPR and CNN and Whoever talking about the damn rain and wind and how you should have heeded Obama and taken the subway to safety (although the subway was shut down for safety, but hey, whaddayougonnado?).

However, I finally got something that speaks to me, personally, about the dangers of hurricanes.  And that is:


This is the most clear and concise measure of how dangerous conditions are that I have ever seen.  Threat Level Chartreuse?  Code Red?  Defcon 3?  Who the hell knows what any of those mean?  But

“Waffle House Green means the restaurant is serving a full menu, a signal that damage in an area is limited and the lights are on. Yellow means a limited menu, indicating power from a generator, at best, and low food supplies. Red means the restaurant is closed, a sign of severe damage in the area or unsafe conditions.”

Those are clear measures of danger.  I mean, I have been to Waffle Houses in the most severe of personal conditions.  But I have always held the faith that the Waffle House would be there when I needed it.  (And a vomit cleaning crew who, sadly, I was too messed up to leave a tip for).  So, if there is “Waffle House Code Red” that is a clear indication that I need to take things seriously and immediately finish that storm cellar that I kept meaning to build.

So, the next time there are warnings of impending doom, ask for-nay demand-that they refer to the “Waffle House Scale” so you have a reality based idea of how much crap you are in for.