Wednesday, January 28, 2009

butt-burnin' chicken

Let's just say I'm paying for this dish today, but in no way do I regret the actions of last night. Ashton and I hadn't made a meal in a while, so we gathered up some of our ideas and worked off of our initial craving of spicy chicken. A coworker had Creole for lunch yesterday, and I've been enjoying some chorizo burritos this week, so I had spicy on the mind. For this particularly succulent dish, we used the following:

5 chicken breasts
about 15 asparagus stalks cut into quarters
4 cloves of garlic, minced
a generous layer of cayenne pepper over the chicken
1 diced green chile pepper
1/2 can of chipotle peppers in adobo
1/4 block of monterey jack cheese (I'm sure shredded would have sufficed)

I layered the bottom of the dish with half of the asparagus and then placed the chicken on top and sprinkled the cayenne over them. Then I placed 1 blob of chipotle on each breast and spread the rest of the asparagus over the breasts. I sprinkled the entire thing with the chile pepper and garlic and then coated it all with the cheese.

We baked it for 45 minutes at 350 degrees, but much to my chagrin the thicker pieces were definitely not cooked all the way through. We nuked 'em, but next time I think I'll plan to use maybe smaller breasts or make it more like a casserole to make them a bit thinner and easier to cook through. Also, I would like to marinate the chicken or spread the spice a bit more in a sauce somehow, because the top of the chicken tasted great, but there wasn't any flavor in the cracks. Nevertheless, we mixed 2 packets of Mexican and Taco rice and placed the chicken on top of a pile of rice for each person and enjoyed! There were definitely some watery eyes and a bit of coughing, but all in all it was a good meal. About a solid B with definite potential.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009



Monday, January 26, 2009

The Mission Part 2

I've been very naughty in that I've had a few repeats of brunch spots before exploring some new places. Everywhere we go is so damn good though! It's hard to break out when you are guaranteed deliciousness, but I promise that soon I'll be stepping out of my brunch comfort shell and exploring a bit more. Regardless, this week BFF Annie Duffy came out from RVA for some San Diego sun, and I wanted to make sure that this vegetarian got her socks knocked off with some California cuisine. We went to a few favorite spots, like Ranchos, and I DID take her to Rubio's for what was also my first time... even though it is a chain, let me just tell you that the Fish Especiale taco was absolutely superb, and cheap to boot! I couldn't take any chances with brunch, so I took her to the Mission in North Park for my 2nd trip there.

This is the Papas Loco, a hangover remedy sent straight from God. 2 over medium eggs, 2 flour tortillas, a generous pile of rosemary potatoes, black beans, jalapenos, avocado, and cilantro. Brunch with a kick. Paired with a Thai Coffee and a side of chipotle cream, I got about halfway through before I admitted defeat. My only complaints were that the avocado and jalepenos were definitely lacking in quantity. Annie had it far worse though, with a heaping plate of eggs and potatoes with an entirely separate plate of steaming hot cinnamon french toast with 3 different kinds of berry compote circling around the french toast like a halo. Later that night I took a bite of her cold french toast and I was still blown away with its capacity for delicious. Truly, the Mission had pleased me once again.

Monday, January 19, 2009

El Zarape part 2

Brunch this week was superb. El Zarape is quickly becoming a staple for Ashton and I, so before heading to the beach this weekend we made a quick stop there for brunch. I got the Supreme Breakfast burrito with some trepidation- I am outspoken with my anti-breakfast burrito sentiments, and often don't give them a chance. Some things just weren't meant to be burrito-fied, and I think eggs and potatoes might be some of them. Ashton got the Aloha Burrito, whose flavor greatly resembled that of a fajita. Strange!

All in all, as far as breakfast burritos go, this was pretty choice. Plenty of eggs, potatoes, tomatoes, and cheese all rolled up, and I added a pretty generous amount of their salsa to top it all off. I was only able to finish about 2/3 of it- breakfast burritos are HEAVY! I'll rate it a B, because as far as brunch is concerned a burrito sometimes isn't the way to go, but this was a pretty decent one. I think from now on I'll stick to meat and/or seafood lunch/dinner burritos.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

El Zarape

WOW! And I sang Ranchos Natural Market's praises? Our Richmond-transplanted friend Dennis described the majesty of this magical place a few days ago, and Ashton and I decided to try it out last night before heading to Encinitas for a hangout sesh. Apparently they have fish tacos for $0.99, which of course sold me. Ashton had also sampled their offerings for lunch that day, and told me in so many words that we must make this a go-to-often spot. It's on Park Avenue just north of the University Heights sign on the left, and it's just a small hole-in-the-wall place with minimal seating and a casual atmosphere. They had a pretty extensive menu with a ton of unusual options for very reasonable prices. I opted for the Calamari Burrito, and Ashton went for the Veggie Supreme Burrito.

Let's just say that the Calamari burrito was the best thing I have ever had. I had even noticed that at Ranchos they have calamari strips as an appetizer (random) and verbally wished they could add it as a burrito option. This was above and beyond what I could have expected. Just the right amount of things, and everything tasted FRESH FRESH FRESH. Stuffed full of fried and steamed calamari rings, lettuce, tomato, and a chipotle white sauce. Nothing more, nothing less. I took the liberty of adding some of the thick red saucy salsa from the salsa bar, and was NOT disappointed with the result. They also have an EXCELLENT variety of salsas available at the bar, all of which were superb.

Ashton's veggie burrito was also in the top 10 category. Full of beans, crisp lettuce, ripe tomatoes, sour cream, potatoes, all rolled into a tortilla of delight. Both came with a small sampling of chips as well, so we were able to even further enjoy the salsa selection. Neither burrito was obscenely big or skimpy either, just the right sizes for the price.

They also offer Coke Zero as a fountain drink! Awesome! El Zarape gets 2 enthusiastic thumbs up. Not only is it right around the corner, it's in a hip neighborhood, it's cheap, fresh, fast, and incredibly tasty. I've read a few reviews online, and the lack of seating does seem to make it more of a take-out spot, but when we went at 6:30 it was no problem grabbing a table. I guess it's a case by case scenario. But I can't recommend this enough. I look forward to eating there again VERY soon!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Phony Pho

Ashton and I had big hopes for this one. I really wanted to make a Thai Lemongrass soup, but to our dismay Albertons had no sort of lemongrass or a variety of other ingredients that were pretty necessary to that sort of venture. We altered our plans a bit, and with only the roughest of sketches managed to whip up one of the most delicious things I have ever had. If I had been served this in a restaurant, I would have been incredibly pleased, so to have created it pleased me doubly!

For this we used:
3 cups chicken stock
a few splashes of fish sauce
Chopped cilantro
a generous heap of brown and white mushrooms
Salt and Pepper to taste
Spring onions
a sprinkle of dried basil
a sprinkle of dried oregano
juice of 1/2 a lime
Crushed Red Pepper
1/2 a green chile pepper
splash of olive oil
and although it is not pictured in here, a boiled chicken breast and rice noodles for a pretty hearty soup with an incredible broth. My only complaint was definitely too much cilantro, but that is easily remedied. This was truly our best yet. Incredibly basic, but incredible tasting.

I was especially pleased with this because we were looking at a few different recipes, and none of them seemed to be exactly what we were looking for, so we just altered several to fit what we wanted. Plus, if we were able to create something this amazing without lemongrass, which is pretty key, imagine what we could accomplish with it! Next time we'll plan a little more in advance and go to the Asian Market to make sure we get everything necessary to re-create and enhance this delicious dish.

Monday, January 5, 2009


Sunday consisted of a burrito brunch at Pokez, a Mexican/Vegetarian restaurant downtown (not unlike Ranchos in North Park). We'd been once before as newbies to SD, but it made a favorable impression on me and I had wanted to repeat the experience. It was a beautiful day so we rode our bikes the few miles downtown to indulge. I got the Mahi Mahi burrito in a wheat tortilla, and Ashton opted for the bean and vegan chorizo burrito in a wheat tortilla. Honestly, I expected to come out on top of this venture, but surprisingly his was unbelievable. Mine was "good", even "enjoyable", but the chorizo/bean combination was stellar. The Mahi Mahi was grilled nicely and everything was obviously fresh, but the white sauce was not anything special and the salsa fresca was simply okay. The beans and chorizo had a great spice on them and were exploding with flavor. Also, the salsa and chips they bring at the beginning of the meal were first rate. I'll definitely re-evaluate my choices next time.

Of course, in my anxiousness to dig it I realized I hadn't taken a picture until I had dissected my burrito, so here they are in all of their sloppy glory.

Ashton refused to stop eating for me to take a picture of his, thus the fork movement. Coming up next, our Vietnamese soup experiment that possibly is the best thing we've made so far. Stay tuned.