Friday, June 30, 2017

Homemade Corn Tortillas (and How They Can Blow Your Mind)

I don't really have time to write right now...

But I just finished one of the most delicious multi-cultural dinners I have ever made, and I'm presently completely obsessed with the amazingness of fresh corn tortillas.

I swear more will follow. I PROMISE more will follow. But I will also tell you this right now: I will NEVER buy packaged corn tortillas EVER AGAIN. I don't care if they are $1. I don't care if they are

All I know is that what Chef Reiton and I made tonight fricking blew my mind. It wasn't even the same food. Like, seriously. It in no way resembled the tasteless, perfectly round, I-have-to-cook-them-anyway tortillas that I buy at the store.

Which means they were flawed in their roundness. Yes. My anal side really struggled with not being able to make them pretty. But it made no difference in how they tasted. What we made were earthy, vaguely sweet, hearty and hefty. We loaded them with shredded chipotle beef, and did they break like measly, pasty, supermarket tortillas? No. Were they supple, golden and screaming with flavor? A resounding YESSSSSSS!!!

And now I must go. We have to get up at a ridiculous hour tomorrow morning. I just needed to get this off my chest. I'll post the menu tomorrow. Swear...

Buenas noches, amigos. Te veo mañana.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Learning to Devein Fresh Shrimp: A How-to Video

A while back I posted a recipe on Ginger-Lime Shrimp. I promised you all at the time that I would create a video showing how exactly to "devein" (or de-poop, really) the little suckers without tearing into the entire back, destroying the aesthetic quality of a beautifully curled, perfectly cooked shrimp.

Well, a year later, here I am. It's ridiculous, I know, but there were just too many times that I was peeling and deveining shrimp while Chef Reiton was still at work, and my camera is too heavy for my tripod, and... Ugh. Excuses. But good ones, I swear.

Before I show you the video, I want to descriptively run through what I do, as well as show you a few pictures, in case it is unclear in the video.

And, remember, this is how I do it. Technically, you don't even need to devein your shrimp. You can eat the whole damn thing—head, shell, guts and all—if you want. I don't want to, so the following video shows how I choose to prepare my shrimp, fresh (not frozen) and beheaded by the local fishmonger.

To begin with, you first must PEEL the shrimp (unless you are having guests peel their own at the table during a casual dinner). I generally do this by pinching the legs between my thumb and the side of my pointer finger and tugging them sideways. This usually loosens the shell, too. Then I peel off the shell surrounding the shrimp and gently tug off the tail casing. You CAN leave the tail on if you prefer a kind of "handle" on your shrimp if it's acting as a finger food.

After your shrimp are peeled, it's time to devein. When you buy shrimp, the entire head and guts portion are already cut off and discarded—except for the intestine. "Deveining" means that you are removing the intestine that runs down the back of the shrimp. You do NOT need to do anything to the dark line running along its belly: it's just a nerve. See the shrimp diagram below for clarification (thank you,

Shrimp diagram for learning how to devein shrimp

Yes, you can buy deveined shrimp at the store, but this usually means the shrimp are handled by a machine which leaves a huge slice down their backs. They are typically then frozen into an unsightly mass of flayed, frost-bitten flesh. Such shrimp still taste and look just as frost-bitten and unsightly after they are prepared, and being a cook that likes to make my food not just attractive to the tongue but also to the eyes, I have learned to buy fresh shrimp and peel and devein them myself. Does it take extra time? Yes. But I'm not making shrimp every day, so I'm willing to put in the extra work when I need to. The sweet tenderness of un-frozen, un-molested shrimp is definitely worth it.

To devein, you will need a paring knife and a colander. I usually do this activity over a sink with running water to rinse the shrimp or knife as needed. You will be inserting the blade of your paring knife BLADE UP into the shrimp.

How to devein shrimp pictures and video

The intestine USUALLY shows as a dark "dot" in the neck of the shrimp. This is the start of the intestine. What makes it dark is the poop.

The intestine of a shrimp that is removed while deveining shrimp

Just below and beside this dot is where you are going to insert the tip of the knife.

Where to insert a knife while deveining shrimp

Only insert about 1/4-inch of the knife tip and slice up. With a little bit of fishing with the knife tip, you should reveal a section of the intestine. Using your thumb and fingertip, grasp the end of the intestine and pull firmly but gently. If you yank, you will snap the intestine and have to slice further down the back to reach the rest of it.

Let me show you with a video. It's not professional, but it will at least give you an idea of what I'm doing.

If you are even more confused than ever after watching the video, please feel free to ask me a question in the comments section below. I will do what I can to help. Or you can send us a picture of your beautiful, poop-free shrimp! Yippeeeeeee!

And check out the other videos in CAF's "How the Hell do I...?" video series. You can subscribe to our channel at

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Use Them While They're Hot!: Learning to Grill Ahead

Last night I sat outside at the dinner table, noshing with utter abandon on this glorious baba ghanoush made straight from the grill (thank you once again, Melissa Joulwan!), when I had an epiphany:

Use Them While They're Hot!: Learning to Grill Ahead

It's summer, it's hot, and cooking outside on the grill is really the way to go. Food magically tastes twice as good cooked over smoky charcoal. But I have to be fair to Grillmaster Reiton. Standing over 600° coals in 90° weather night after night probably isn't as much fun as sitting on the deck with a chilled glass of rosé in hand (which is what I do). Sooooo (here comes the epiphany)...

Why not grill several meals' worth of stuff all at once? Use those coals once for a week of food?

It's kind-of like that cooking fad that my mom and aunt got into about ten years ago, where you would do this huge shop and cook like a mad woman for an entire day to make meals that would last you a month.

Except I love to cook. And I love to eat fresh. And, call me impractical or inefficient or what-have-you, I don't really freeze a lot of food. Maybe I'm doing it wrong, but I find that the freezer changes the texture of foods in ways that I don't like, so instead I tend to grocery shop for the week.

So if I shop for the week, why not grill for the week?

For example, my dinner menus for this week call for a number of things that I could have grilled last night and then reheated or eaten cold. Here's a snapshot of my notes for dinner this week:

Planning the dinner menus for the week

(Yes, I had a dinner party Sunday!)

A more efficient grill could look something like this: before Grillmaster Reiton grilled our chicken and eggplant for last night's dinner, we could have grilled the ribs (later reheated at low heat in a foil packet in the oven), the butternut (finished cooking the mash in the oven), the steak (grilled slightly underdone and reheated it in a cast iron skillet) and the burgers (also slightly underdone and finished in a skillet).

Then Chef Reiton could also be sitting with a chilled glass of rosé, eating this silky, smoky dip with crisp, cool veggies as an appetizer, now that a decent chunk of time was added back to our summer evenings.  

Use Them While They're Hot!: Learning to Grill Ahead

I think I'll give this a go and see what we think, then I'll get back to you to let you know if it's successful.

I hope it is. I mean, really, I'd rather not be drinking alone...

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

A Foodie's Obsession:

I have a confession to make. My kitchen and I have a new addiction in our life, and it is called...

The name is cheesy, I know, but this site has become my go-to for all things kitchen-y. It's a restaurant supply store, and it has EVERYTHING for amazing prices.

Check out the mongo, commercial-grade, I'll-grind-anything-you-feed-me blender I just got for $199!

The Avamix blender I bought on

Look at the size of the motor:

The size of the motor of the Avamix blender I bought on

For a third of the cost of a Vitamix, I got more horsepower, all-metal gears, a larger motor AND an extra polycarbonate canister.

The all-metal gear on the motor of the Avamix blender I bought on

The all-metal gear on the bottom of the Avamix blender canister I bought on

Note the super simple, no-frills control panel. No more wondering what exactly it means to "frappe" and if I should have done that instead of "grind..."

The simple, no-frills base of the Avamix blender I bought on

And as for how well she works? She blitzed my marinade made of whole (fat!) garlic cloves, ginger root, soaked dried chiles and yogurt into a gorgeous mess in seconds.

The spicy marinade I made with my Avamix blender bought on

If you decide to go buy this exact blender,  you will also get FREE SHIPPING. Am I serious? Yes, sir, I am. Normally you have to pay a fairly hefty shipping charge as a residential customer (which is why I usually make a list and order a bunch of stuff I need at once or split an order with a friend), but with certain items like this, the shipping is free. Wooot!

A few notes that may be of interest or concern regarding the Avamix:
  • This is a commercial blender. There are no safety latches/mechanisms/features. The canister drops onto the base, you flip the switch, and it goes. So if you have curious little kids running around your kitchen, you might want to be especially careful or save this purchase for another decade. If you want to reenact the scene from Goonies and scare little kids with a running blender, you will be able to do so with this blender.
  • The measurements on the canister are metric. There are no standard measurements.
  • This thing is BIG. You will not be able to leave it on your kitchen counter. If you can because your kitchen is that big, I hate you.
  • This baby is heavy. If your arm strength is somewhat lacking, either don't buy this baby or DO and use it to do some bench-presses in the kitchen. I won't ask questions, I promise.
Another side note that may be of interest and get you to shop at my fantasy store: if you write a review or submit a photo or a video of a product after you receive it, will give you WEBbucks to use on a future purchase. And I'm talking $2 for a written review, $4 for a photo and $10 for a video! Serious! It's a really generous perk, and I've gotten quite a bit of free stuff because of it.

SO. If you haven't discovered it already for yourself, go visit Now go make your list of kitchen things you need (bulk spices? cast iron skillet? pizza peel? silverware? mongo blender? bamboo cocktail picks? kitchen towels?) and get ready to save some serious money on your kitchen needs!

P.S. If you want the recipe for the marinade in the picture, you will find it in Bon Appetit's June 2017 edition under chile-and-yogurt marinated chicken

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Visit Me on Pinterest!