Manolo's Food Blog Manolo Loves the Food!

September 10, 2011

What the hell is Galangal?

Filed under: Philosophy — Erik Nabler @ 11:48 pm

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!

September 6, 2011

Chicago Steakhouse Sandwich – This is a Great Sandwich

Filed under: American Food,Chefs,Meat,Sandwiches — Erik Nabler @ 9:00 pm

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.

September 1, 2011

Hurricane Irene and the Waffle House

Filed under: Uncategorized — Erik Nabler @ 11:32 pm

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.







May 5, 2011

Arriba, abajo, al centro, para adentro!

Filed under: Mexican Food,Tequila,Toasts — Erik Nabler @ 5:21 pm

(up, down, center, inside – a slightly uncouth toast to use at Cinco de Mayo)

And while you are being uncouth, how about a last minute, very tasty salsa.  This is so easy and so tasty.  Use it on the Carnitas if you are making them, on chips, on eggs the next morning (pardon me, huevos).


    -1/2 small jalapeño minced
    -1/4 small red onion , peeled
    – 1small clove garlic , minced or pressed
    – 2tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves (Or one tablespoon cilantro paste)
    – 1/4teaspoon salt
    – pinch ground black pepper
    – 2teaspoons lime juice
    – One (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
    – One tablespoon Corzo Silver Tequila

*Pulse all ingredients except tomatoes and tequila in food processor until minced. Add tomatoes and pulse until roughly chopped, about two 1-second pulses. Place in bowl, pour out a small bit of juice and stir in tequila.

Salud y amor y tiempo para disfrutarlo.

May 3, 2011

Oven Carnitas for Five-O de Mayo

Filed under: Mexican Food,Pork,Recipes,Uncategorized — Erik Nabler @ 7:50 pm

Well, Drinko de Mayo is coming up, an American drinking celebration commemorating a relatively minor battle in Mexican History where the Mexican Army in the Battle of Puebla in 1862 scored a surprising victory over French Forces. Widely celebrated in the United States, it is of minor note in Mexico. It is akin to St. Patrick’s Day, where those of Mexican Heritage in the United States can celebrate their roots. However, it is also a good reason to hoist a glass and for the rest of us to pretend we are Mexican, or at least un poco Mexican. It is also a good time to dig in to some great Mexican food, such as –

This is a very easy and great recipe for Carnitas. Instead of having to slow roast the pork for hours and hours, this recipe takes very little work. It takes time, 2-1/2 to 3 hours start to finish, but mostly that is just having things in the oven. So, whip this up and impress your friends. It has a great pork taste and makes wonderful carnitas tacos, or really outstanding carnitas burritos. If you are going to make burritos, I highly recommend black beans rather then refried or other types.

I did, once, go to a true Mexican Carnitas roast where they butchered the pig right there, cooked the carnitas and some other stuff for several hours while we drank beer and anything we could get our hands on. I was pretty useless for butchering a pig, but I could certainly hold my own in the drinking department. The carnitas were awesome, but this recipe is easily as good and about a thousand times easier.

Oven Carnitas

Serves 6-8 depending on garnishes and stuff.


*Pork Shoulder, boneless – about 4 lbs. Trim fat cap and cut into large (2-3 inch) chunks

*1 teaspoon ground cumin

*1 medium onion , peeled and quartered

*2 bay leaves

*1 teaspoon dried oregano

*2 tablespoons lime juice

*2 cups water

*1 orange , halved

* salt, pepper


1. Put oven rack to lower-middle position and heat to 300 degrees. Combine pork, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, cumin, onion, bay leaves, oregano, lime juice, (optional ground chipotle pepper) and water in large Dutch oven (you should just barely cover meat). Squeeze orange juice and remove seeds. Put juice and spent orange halves in. Bring mixture to simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Cover pot and place in oven; Cook about 2 hours turning meat once. Meat should tear easily.
2. Remove pot and turn on broiler. Strain chunky junk from pot (do not skim fat from liquid). Place pot over high heat and simmer liquid, stirring frequently, until thick and syrupy, 8 to 12 minutes..
3. Tear each piece of pork in half. Toss in reduced liquid; season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread pork in even layer on wire rack set inside rimmed baking sheet or on broiler pan (meat should cover almost entire surface of rack or broiler pan). Broil 5-10 minutes per side until meat is browned and edges are very brown but not charred. Serve immediately with warm tortillas and garnishes.

Suggested garnishes are shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, salsa fresco, lime wedges, sour cream, a good bottle of bourbon, Mexican rice, a good bottle of bourbon, guacamole, thin sliced radishes, and perhaps a good bottle of bourbon

Ummm, Ummm, Bueno!

January 17, 2011

Wonderful French Toast – First, buy the Challah

Filed under: American Food,Bread,Breakfast,Gin,Uncategorized — Erik Nabler @ 8:23 pm

For this recipe I recommend an unseeded Challah.

I am a big fan of breakfasts, as is the rest of my family. I often skip it, but I love it. Lunch I can pretty much do without. Dinner is the best.

One of my favorites for breakfast is French Toast and a while back I cam across a recipe for for French Toast that I love. It is less eggy than many recipes which look like nothing more than a fried egg with bread in it. The recipe can be made with other breads but Challah (or Hallah), makes it an exceptional breakfast item, as good as virtually any you will find at a restaurant.

As an aside, Challah bread is a traditional Jewish bread generally eaten on the Sabbath and holidays. It is made generally with eggs, sugar, water and fine white flour. It is very rich and eggy which helps make it a perfect bread for this French Toast recipe which omits the egg whites. Another special ingredient makes this even better.

French Toast:

One loaf of good quality Challah

1-1/2 cups room temperature milk (2% or whole)
pinch of salt
a generous 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
0-2 tablespoons melted butter
3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons brown sugar

And, in order of awesomeness, one of the following:
One Tablespoon Pear Eau De Vie (Our present favorite is Kuchan™ Poire Williams / Bartlett Pear Eau De Vie from Old World Spirits . For the LiquorLocusts review of this product, click here.)
One Tablespoon Bourbon, of a kindler, gentler nature like Woodford Reserve or Makers Mark.
One Tablespoon vanilla.

The Pear Eau De Vie should be tried. It is great. A subtle but rich flavoring. Bourbon versus vanilla is more a matter of personal taste, but everyone should try the pear.

For the bread, preheat the oven to 280 degrees. Slice bread about 1-1/4″ thick. Put on a baking sheet and put in oven for 15 minutes, flipping bread once, half way through. Take it out and let it cool. Alternately, take your bread out of the wrapper and let it get stale for a few days. The baking works better though, but if your bread is already stale, there you are.

Mix milk, salt, cinnamon, egg yolks brown sugar and your choice of the eau de vie, bourbon or vanilla in a medium bowl. Add melted butter by preference. It is not necessary but does add a bit of richness to the flavor. If you use non-fat milk I would definitely add 2 tablespoons, one for 2% and personally I would still add one with whole milk. If you are not using Challah, which is a rich, buttery bread, I would perhaps add 3 tablespoons melted butter and definitely two,.

Pour the liquid in a 9×13 baking dish. Put slices of challah in and let soak 15-20 seconds per side (both sides) and move to another sheet to sit. Let the bread sit for 2-3 minutes before putting on griddle.

Cook the french toast on a griddle or non-stick pan until golden brown.

Serve with a simple

blueberry compote:

2 cups fresh blueberrys or 1-3/4 cups frozen Wyman’s Wild blueberries.
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon corn starch
3-4 tablespoons of Sugar in the Raw (Turbinado) or plain sugar

cook in heavy saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook approximately 10 minutes, until blueberries break down somewhat. Allow to cool to just warm.

Finally, a bit of ham, a half a grapefruit, and to kill your day,

Diamond Gin Fizzes.

Recipe is here at LiquorLocusts.

Anyway, I think you will find this an excellent and enjoyable recipe.

December 30, 2010

An Aged Roast

Filed under: Uncategorized — Erik Nabler @ 7:06 pm

This week I tried my first dry aged roast and I must say that I was quite happy with how it turned out.

Meat in the United States is almost always wet aged.  It is kept in a plastic bag of some sort and refrigerated at just above freezing for 1 to 4 weeks.  90+ percent of the beef aged in the United States is done in this fashion.  This makes the beef more tender as the aging process allows the natural enzymes to break down the connective tissue in the meat.  However, there is no flavor concentration because the plastic bagging keeps the moisture in the meat so there is no weight loss.

Now very fine beef for schmancy restaurants and such can be dry aged.  This is where large primal cuts are kept in air for approximately the same 1-4 weeks in refrigeration. This promotes the same tenderizing from the enzyme process and enhances it because it promotes the growth of certain molds on the surface of the meat that increase the tenderizing process. These molds do not actually rot the meat and the moldy surface is trimmed off before it is cut into roasts and steaks.

Fine cuts are used because a nice marbling of fat is important for dry aging.

Dry aging is not often done because you will lose up to 20% of the meat from it drying out and being trimmed. This does, however, result in a delicious concentration of flavor in the beef.

Now, I had read about doing this at home for 3 or 4 days instead of long term aging so this week I tried it out. I had a top sirloin roast of about 4 pounds. I put it in the refrigerator set at 34 degrees up on a rack and covered with paper towels. All that I did was change the paper towels twice during the aging process. After this trim away dry parts of the meat and fat. Leave as much of the fat as possible for the flavor and also so you can make a nice gravy, as I did.

This bit of aging made a wonderful roast. Very tender, with a mellow but full beef flavor. Tasting this you realize that the regular roasts have a much more watery flavor at the same degree of doneness. Next I need to try aging the meat for a full week and see how that is. My mouth is watering already.

You can also age the meat very nicely in cheesecloth, but change it a couple of times.
For safety, make sure that your refrigerator is set below 40 degrees for the aging and perhaps use a thermometer to check your actual temperature.


December 20, 2010

It’s Christm…..National Sangria Day!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Erik Nabler @ 7:31 pm

Yes, it is that most wonderful time of the year, National Sangria Day!  And since that coincides with the Holiday season through some weird coincidence, Cava Sangria would be excellent as a holiday punch.

Here is a good basic recipe for Cava Sangria:

8 oz. Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice (or good Tropicana not from concentrate)
A Generous shot of gin (if you have it, a nice citrusy one like Leopold’s)
A Generous shot of vodka
A bottle of Cava (which is a sparkling Spanish white wine-Spanish champagne as it were)
3 Tablespoons sugar or 4 of simple syrup (more or less according to your sweet tooth)
A double shot of Gran Marnier
Orange slices
Strawberry slices
Mix everything except the Cava and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.  Just before serving add ice and then the Cava.  Serve cold over ice.  Refreshing and invigorating until glass #4, then not so much.

A beautiful cava sangria for a festive New Year's or Christmas party.

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