Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Malaysian rendang

Malaysian rendang
Originally uploaded by rachelita2.
In Mark Bittman's March 16 column in the NY Times, there was an article on braising. The braised food sounded good over spring break in cold Washington DC, but now that I've been back in Florida, it seems like winter food that is waiting for a cold day that never comes. So after spending an hour in my backyard reading in a lawn chair and catching some rays, I headed inside to prepare this easy dish.

I'd been curious about the recipe for Coconut-Braised Beef, which sounded especially tempting because of the final step, whereby the braising liquid was reduced to a savory, caramel-colored sauce that clung to the meat.

The first step is throwing 2 dried red chilies, 3 garlic cloves, a one inch piece of peeled ginger, 1 Tblsp chili powder, and zest and juice from two limes into the food processor. It forms a reddish paste, which I then sauteed in a medium-hot skillet in a tablespoon of oil. After two minutes, I added 1.5 pounds of stew beef that I'd cut into 1 inch cubes. I browned that and then added a can of coconut milk and a half cup of water. All this I simmered, covered, for about two hours.

I then reduced the liquid to the aforementioned caramel-colored sauce, adding salt at the end, serving the curry with basmati rice.

The final product was pretty good, with a substantial kick to it from the peppers that the rice tempered slightly. The acidic flavors of the lime were prominent. I would probably give it four out of five stars, but I wasn't overwhelmed. It was a nice venture into a different kind of curry from the Indian curries I usually make, but those are the dishes that always end up Number One in my book...

Monday, March 28, 2005


rosa mexicano2
Originally uploaded by rachelita2.
Over Spring Break, I went to Washington, D.C. to visit friends. Since I hadn't left the state of Florida for several months, I had high hopes about my return to the Northeast. Ah, for those several years I lived in the Northeast. I missed the energy of it all, the presence of so many good friends, and of course, the great restaurants. Florida has a different pace. Terrific weather, and restaurants that are not bad, but I am learning that you have to hunt for them.

Big chain restaurants like Olive Garden and Chili's surround me all too reliably. I can count on the fact that in every city across America, someone else is eating the exact same thing, which is disturbing when you think about it. Although the food is consistent, it's never surprising. Sometimes it's hard to seek out locally owned, unique establishments.

When I got to DC, it was like I had been asleep for several months. Suddenly I was awake, and at each subsequent instance of restaurant debauchery I felt I was tasting life again. It had been almost a year since I last celebrated my dissertation defense at Rosa Mexicano, and I was happy to return to their pomegranate margaritas and thick guacamole redolent with cilantro. Samples of French bistrot fare in DuPont Circle, Italian pizza with organic ingredients and a perfect crust, and some of the best french toast I've ever had in my life were part of the whole experience. And my friends also cooked for me lovingly-- a tofu stir-fry from Mara that hit the spot after too much indulgence, and Beth braised spare ribs in a wine and olive sauce, courtesy of a recent Mark Bittman column in the NY Times.

I resolved to come back to Orlando and attempt only to eat at local establishments. Today I tried Bosphorus, a Turkish restaurant that just opened up near my work. The menu features an array of kebabs and different types of stuffed Turkish bread and flatbreads. I remembered living in Istanbul in 1995, when all this was street food for me. Here it was a bit more pricey, filled with Botox-branded society matrons having a ladies' lunch. The tastes were authentic-- I had a perfectly crusty pide (similar to a pizza, pronounced "pi-day"), topped with Turkish cheese, tomatoes, and spices, and stuffed with grilled doner kebab, the type of meat that turns on a spit for hours, cooking in its own juices. All washed down with a glass of white wine.

Even better was the fact that it was an official lunch, so I did not have to pay for it.

I'm going to have to get invited to these more often.

Saturday, March 26, 2005


Originally uploaded by rachelita2.
The Barbecue is back, with a new look, a new address, and a new (free) web hosting service.

The Barbecue has moved to the Sunshine State, bought a house and a Weber grill, and endured three hurricanes (one of which resulted in a tree landing on the aforementioned house). The Barbecue has run a marathon (26.2 miles). Finally, The Barbecue has moved from the seemingly eternal grad student existence and into the role of Assistant Professor of Anthropology, specializing in Levi-Straussian theory (particularly his work on oppositions: Raw versus Cooked).

Although The Barbecue has less time than ever to compose blog entries, we missed mediating our life through food.

Hopefully, unless things get too overwhelming, we will be back for awhile now. Since we were gone, we tasted many unusual things, and had many strange and wonderful experiences we eventually hope to relate.