Thursday, August 31, 2006

But, I Digress...

Today's thought:

You haven't lived until you've experienced the joy of using a hammer to smash a computer to bits. Sometimes pulverizing spices just doesn't pack quite enough of a punch.

I'm getting very hungry.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Sundays are for Cooking

My obsession with removing every last bit of clutter from my life had kept me away from the kitchen for a long stretch of days, and it was making me cranky (and hungry!).

But yesterday the pull to the kitchen was utterly magnetic, and piles be damned, I found myself going crazy in the kitchen for much of the morning and evening.

First up: easy home fries that are crispy and golden brown. I learned this little trick when I worked at Bette's Diner in Berkeley. In fact, I learned quite a lot about food while working there. Perhaps I'll have to interview Bette herself for a future posting; now there's a woman who can cook!

Anyway, the trick is, you gotta fry the onions separate from the potatoes, and don't combine the two until you're ready to eat.

So it goes like this: take your 6 to 8 organic yellow finn potatoes (or whatever you like) and lightly steam them. While they are steaming, dice an onion - it can be white, yellow or red; whatever suits your fancy. Dice a little garlic and set it aside. Now start frying the onion in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently. I like to cook the onions slowly so they turn golden brown and begin to carmelize. This takes about 20 minutes.

Once the potatoes are steamed, cut them into quarters (or smaller if you like little bites) and fry them in a separate pan w/ just a small bit of oil. I do this in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, flipping occasionally. When the potatoes are mostly golden brown all over, throw in a little bit of minced garlic and sautee for a few minutes more, then add a sprinkling of salt, and whatever dried spices you have laying around. In this case I used this tasty all purpose seasoning mix called Vegit. But you can also use curry powder, dried oregano or basil, or even fresh herbs. Use your imagination; it's fun!

Now combine the potatoes and onions, and if you're feeling inspired, garnish with some thinly sliced green onions.

Stuff yourself, and then waddle around the house for a bit trying to get organized until you can't stand the drudgery any longer. Take your coveted Rick Bayless cookbook and head to your local Mexican grocer. Stock up on black beans, herbs, chiles, and all the fixin's for an exquisite Mexican feast. Who the hell cares if the weekend is over and it's 10 pm by the time you get to sit down and eat? Getting there is so much fun...

To be continued!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Happiness is having the right tools for the job

It's been another week of minimal activity in my kitchen. Several times, I've looked longingly at my Rick Bayless cookbook, dreaming of Mexican Fiestas yet to come.

My parents were kind enough to leave me with a few parting gifts after their day of shopping and wandering around on 4th street in Berkeley on Monday.

I can't wait to zest to my heart's content with my new microplane, and pound and pulverize garlic and other delights in my new mortar and pestle. That will especially come in handy when I dive into the Rick Bayless book.

For the uninitiated, a microplane is a very sharp grater that works especially well on things like ginger, nutmeg coconut and citrus, and you can also use it for good old fashioned cheese.

Among other things, a mortar and pestle can be used to smash garlic or nuts into paste (a la pesto...another fine selection to make at the end of summer!). You can use it to crack peppercorns, cumin seeds or other spices. And in case you happen to be full of pent up aggression (I don't know ANYONE like that), using a mortar and pestle is a delightful way to vigorously smash and break things while creating an end result that is delicious, full of tantalizing aromas, and generally good for you!

So let's transform a little bit of that hidden rage into something positive and tasty, shall we? The experts at Soup and Song recommend pulverizing spices as a healthy part of any anger management program.

Until next time, may your kitchen and your heart overflow with good things ;)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Shred it, trash it, burn it, tear it!

tear v. , tore , torn , tearing , tears . To pull apart or into pieces by force; rend. To make (an opening) by ripping: "tore a hole in my..."

Wow. I am on a serious tear tonight. And what a liberating feeling it is! I moved recently (for the bazillionth time) and purposefully left all my boxes of junk in my spare room and scattered about the house so that I will be forced to look at them every day until I finally do something about them. Well I guess tonight is that night. Or at least, it's a start.

I started diving into my boxes one by one. Not the boxes of the usual stuff that you move like furniture, kitchen stuff and you know...useful stuff. I already unpacked all that. What I'm talking about here is just random stuff. I am horrified to admit that I recently discovered that I have been moving a BOX OF PENNIES from one place to another for about the last 17 years. Why?!!!!??

Well tonight, I disposed of a good 5 bags full of stuff. Amongst this was a box of old 4-track demos that I have been saving for years, (much of it from the now defunct Ramona the Pest)"just in case" I ever get around to doing anything with it.

It was both heartbreaking and humbling to see these physical reminders from a different chapter of my life, one that I loved so very much. But I was also struck with the very clear and strong feeling tonight that whatever was meant to see the light of day has already done so, and that it's ok to let the rest of it go. I am SO thankful that I have been blessed to live all of these amazing experiences, and am honored and grateful to report that with Ramona the Pest, I put out 8 full length releases of original material. And now, I don't need to keep carrying around these tapes! It was actually rather fun to shred them one by one. Making space for the new can feel so good. Who knew?

Tonight's soundtrack: my favorite, Bootliquor radio.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, I ate so much over the weekend that tonight's dinner was salad and an icy cold Anderson Valley Hop Ottin' India Pale Ale. Oh yeah, life is good, good, good.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Parents Weekend

It was a lovely weekend with the family and friends.

Mom and Dad arrived on Saturday afternoon, and our first snack together was an antipasto plate I made with fresh mozarella, heirloom tomatoes & fresh basil with olive oil on nice thin slices of sourdough rustic loaf. Makes one really appreciate the last days of summer.

My Mom said my kitchen reminded her of my Grandma Esway's, with all the aprons hanging on the wall and the tomatoes & basil out on the counter. Dad added that his mother's basil and tomatoes came from her own garden (she also had her own chickens and made her own wine!). I'm pretty sure that a good part of my passion for food was inherited directly from her. And probably my tendency to use swear words, and of course, my love of a pretty apron as both function and fashion!

Dinner was Lanesplitter Pizza, which my parents love. And would you believe that I still love their pizza too, even after working there for two years? It was a great bonus to learn so much about beer while working there. Heather and I have been threatening to do beer reviews so perhaps we'll have to make good on that threat soon.

Later that night, after singing some songs at the Nomad Cafe w/ the always fabulous Danny Allen's High Diving Horses, I "wound down" by baking buttermilk muffins with blueberry, banana and an oat struesel (or is it strudel?) topping. I'm not gonna post the recipe yet though, cause it still needs work!

Sunday my brother Ricardo & his sweetheart Michaela came over for dinner, along w/ my friends Berge and Alison. Much wine was enjoyed, as well as two big pots of Moroccan stew - one with chicken and one with potatoes and chick peas. The Moroccan Chicken came from a recent issue of Cooks Illustrated and it was a big hit.

Dessert was broiled figs w/ dark chocolate over vanilla ice cream. On top of all this, we enjoyed a fantastic brunch at Venus in Berkeley earlier that day. I'd like to write more about Venus in the near future, cause this place really rocks. What a gluttonous weekend, and what joy to share such good food with such fine company.

Yes, life is good!

I'm happy to report that the talented Bob Wiseman sumbitted a recipe which I shall post very, very soon. I should probably go do some sit-ups now.

Till next time, ciao!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Lonely kitchen, Drunken Sushi and Beyond

It's been another action packed week full of music and food. But
sadly, I've been on the go so much that I haven't had a damn moment to
cook anything. My sink currently holds 5 dirty coffee cups, and my
fridge is a big lonely empty place.

I did however, have the good fortune this week to eat at The Drunken
not once, but twice! When you click on the link for Drunken Fish,
you'll be directed to the homepage for Koryo Sushi, which is owned by
the same folks, cause I can't seem to find a web site for Drunken Fish.
Koryo Sushi is also fantastic, and for you rock and roll or vampire
types, it stays open until 1:30 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and 2:30
a.m. on Fridays & Saturdays!

No matter which place you choose, it's sure to please. Some of my
favorite dishes: Sukiyaki.... such satisfying comfort food especially in
the winter time, featuring tender yam noodles in a savory broth served with
veggies and your choice of meat or tofu, served in a heavy cast iron
pot. Divine! The "Ika Sansai" salad is fresh and bursting with
flavor - especially enjoyable in the summer. It features delicate
calamari in a lively sesame infused dressing, and I could just eat this
stuff by the bucketful...but I suppose I shouldn't. Their Sashimi Salad always hits the spot. It's a huge bowl with rice and thin slivers of
lettuce, garlic and daikon radish, plus tobiko and tons of sashimi
chunks, with a big egg on top. It's dressed in a spicy sesame-chili
dressing, and it seriously rocks! The portion is quite generous so
it's good for sharing.

And now ladies and gentlemen, I gotta gripe. Just before our Widows
show on Wednesday (sorry, us Widows don't have a web site yet - we're
an underground sensation!), a couple of us ran over to Chipotle to grab
a quick taco. It had been years since I'd eaten there, and I soon
remembered why. $5.95 for tacos that are served in FLOUR tortillas,
and don't even include the traditional onions and cilantro?? Dude,
where's the corn? I guess that's the McDonald's interpretation of
Mexcian food. Go figure. To their credit, the carnitas were pretty
tasty and tender, and Denise reported the same thing in regards to her
pollo. But Heather's salad was pretty wimpy. She reports the dressing
and the guac were good, but we all agreed that the chips left much to
be desired. Then & there, Denise and I
agreed to embark upon the "Taco Truck Tour of East Oakland" in the very near future.
We will stuff ourselves silly, live to tell the tale, and report it
all back to you, dear reader. So stay tuned.

Alright alright - I keep threatening to write about the fabulous Bob
, but I'm waiting till he sends me a recipe, and have every
faith in the world that this will happen soon. But he's on tour right
now, winning over the hearts of music and film lovers far and wide, so
let's just all be patient, shall we?

Till next time, enjoy every bite of life! My parents are coming to
town this weekend, and you know what that means.... lots of eating out
at restaurants I usually can't afford! Three cheers for Mom & Dad :)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

You say tortilla, I say fritatta...

A couple months back, my co-worker Christine went home for lunch. When she came back, she brought me a delectable slice of the spanish tortilla that she had just made. It was such a wonderful treat - tender, thin slices of potato and velvety red peppers sauteed with lots of garlic, served in an egg pancake of sorts. The flavor seemed so complex and the texture so perfect that it was hard to believe it was made with so few ingredients. The recipe that I've linked to here is from Dean Derhak, and it is very similar to Christine's recipe.

BUT...the musician in me likes to improvise sometimes, and on Sunday I couldn't quite remember the recipe, so mine was a bit more like a frittata. But wait, are tortilla and frittata just two different ways of saying the same thing? Aren't they both essentially diced or sliced sauteed bits of goodness held together by eggs? Never mind; I'll just call it delicious and leave it at that. But not until I tell you how I made it:

I cheated a bit by steaming the potatoes first so they got a head start on becoming tender. I used about 4 yellow fin potatoes. I didn't peel them, and after I steamed them, I sliced them very thin. Then I sauteed them slowly in lots of olive oil. While this was happening, I roasted a red pepper, because why not spend all morning in the kitchen when you're avoiding doing other things like trying to manage the overwhelmingness of life? Cooking is so much more satisfying.

I happened to have some leftover roasted garlic in the fridge, so I sliced it up and added it to the potatoes. When the potatoes were tender, I turned off the heat and added the sliced roasted pepper to the pan. Then I added about 6 beaten eggs, and cooked it on low heat till it was just slightly set on top.

Next I put it into the oven which was preheated to 300. I took it out after about 15 minutes and flipped it onto a plate. It would've been a good idea if I'd remembered to use a pot holder upon removing the pan from the oven but oh well, if I can't remember the recipe, how would one expect me to remember to use potholders?

After flipping it, I used my un-burnt hand to sprinkle some grated parmesan cheese on top, and popped it back into the oven for another 10 minutes or so. Call it whatever you want, but it sure was good.

I'll have to save my music rant for tomorrow; I told you my weekend included lots of good music, and I can't wait to tell you about Bob Wiseman. Until then, don't forget to use your potholders!

Monday, August 14, 2006

At long last, granola!

Wow, it's been a busy week. I had the "brilliant" idea that I'd try to paint and reorganize my entire apartment before my parents come to visit next weekend. Well, at least I finished the kitchen and the living room.

I managed to find time to make a pretty decent spanish tortilla on Sunday, and today, I finally got to make that granola I've been threatening, and damn, is it good!

I adapted this recipe from the Food Network (be sure to read it all the way through!):

5 to 6 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup slivered almonds
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
3/4 cup pecans
Grated zest of 2 oranges

Combine all those ingredients in a big bowl. Feel free to vary your choice of nuts. I just used what I had leftover from my mole making frenzy.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the following:

1/4 cup maple syrup or cane syrup - I used cane syrup cause that's what I had in the house
2 to 4 tablespoons brown sugar, depending on how sweet you like it
1/4 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons pure coconut oil - it's truly worth it to stock your pantry with this!
Juice of 1/2 orange
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt

Now, combine the two mixtures till the oat mixture is nicely coated. Spread it out onto two sheet pans and bake in an oven preheated to 250. Keep a close eye on it so it doesn't burn, and stir it up every 10-15 minutes or so, over the course of about an hour. Surely you've got some dishes to do as you pass the time...

Once the granola is nicely golden brown, transfer into a large bowl and let it cool a bit. Now add a couple of generous handfuls of currants and dried cranberries and mix it up.

Enjoy, and be sure to share with your neighbors!

Yay - I'm finally able to upload photos, so I reposted the entry w/ the pasta in spinach creme sauce. Now you don't have to imagine the loveliness; you can see it with your own eyes!

One last bit before I sign off - I listened to a lot of great music over the weekend, but I especially enjoyed Jesse De Natale's "Soul Parade". And I swear, it is NOT because I sang harmony on a couple tracks! Jesse is a gifted song writer and storyteller whose songs wash over you like sweet relief after a long, hard day. Kind of like coming in from the rain and warming up in front of a fire, with a big pot of soup simmering on the stove. And what could be finer than that?

Friday, August 11, 2006

Don't forget to eat your greens

I'm reposting this entry cause I was finally able to upload my photos.

Thursday's lunch was a delicious spread: fettucine with lemon, chili flakes and creamy spinach, plus white bean & roasted garlic spread, and sliced heirloom tomatoes w/ olive oil served on rustic sourdough bread. Damn do I love living in California.

Here is the recipe for this very simple, light, and incredibly tasty pasta dish that I adapted from Celia Brooks. The recipe originally appeared in the current issue of Food & Wine Magazine:

First, put on the pot of water to boil the pasta.

While the water is heating, prep your ingredients: mince 4 cloves of garlic, finely chop the zest of 2 lemons and set aside about 1 or 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. Thinly slice a handful of fresh basil leaves. Have a healthy sprinkling of red chili flakes handy, as well as some salt & fresh ground pepper, and some parmesan. You will also need about 4 to 6 generous handfuls of baby spinach, and olive oil for sauteeing. Lastly, take about 1 1/2 cups of plain lowfat yogurt, and whisk 1 tablespoon of all purpose flower into it.

Once you add the pasta to the water, start the sauce. Heat some olive oil in a skillet and sautee the garlic and chili flakes over medium heat for a couple minutes. Add the yogurt mixture and simmer for a couple minutes, stirring frequently. Add the spinach 1 handful at a time, and cook just until wilted, stirring all the while. Now turn off the heat and add the lemon zest & juice, and season w/ salt & pepper. Drain the pasta as soon as it's ready, and toss it with the sauce. Garnish w/ parmesan and fresh basil.


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Good eating

Today was a good eating day!

I got some lovely green curry from one of my favorite local Thai restaurants, Ruen Pair - tangy, fragrant green curry in coconut milk with perfectly tender-crisp green beans and whole basil leaves. Served over some nice sticky rice, it made me one very happy girl. Ruen Pair has many fantastic dishes, such as the seafood salad, bursting with lime & chili, dressed just lightly enough so that you can still enjoy the distinct flavors of perfectly tender calamari, prawns and mussels. And their pad thai is also perfectly balanced, with just enough sweetness and plenty of tanginess.

Then this evening, I had the unexpected pleasure to share dinner w/ Emily, Berge and Heidi at Dona Tomas, and what a treat it was. Instead of serving their house made tortilla chips with traditional salsa, they serve it with this amazing puree of mostly roasted peppers & tomatoes. It's very mole-like, so of course I was intrigued! Their chile relleno is nothing short of exquisite - the chile is roasted so perfectly tender, it nearly melts in your mouth. Our fine waitress pointed out that the chile relleno recipe is available in the Dona Tomas cookbook. I guess I know what cookbook I'm buying next... and then, look out cause I'm sure my chile relleno obsession is not too far off!

And speaking of cookbooks, my evening was topped off by the wonderful gift that Heidi gave me - Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen. Heavenly! I can't wait to dive into recipes like Guajillo Sauced Shrimp with Quick Fried Cactus! You can take the girl out of the desert, but you cannot take the desert out of the girl. My heart is in the Bay area, but I think my soul is in the desert.

Yeah, it was a good food day!

3 Booking Tips/3 Cooking Tips

Today I'm gonna keep it short & sweet with 3 Booking Tips & 3 Cooking Tips.

Since a large portion of my life involves my adventures in being an indie musician and booking agent, I'd love to share these tips with folks who maybe are musicians themselves, or who aren't musicians at all but are interested in knowing what goes into putting all that music out into the world.

So... we'll start w/ booking before we move on to cooking!

1. When you're pitching a show to a booker, give them a reason to want to host the show. The reason can be because you have a great following, or that you work diligently and creatively to promote your shows, or that your fans are a bunch of heavy drinkers who love to spend money on booze (or perhaps all of the above!). Could the reason be that you put on a great show? Well, that's a good reason, but not so good if there is no one there to see you put on the show.

2. Keep your messages, whether by voicemail or email, BRIEF! Remember, you're probably just one of many fine musicians looking to book a show. Be the cream and rise to the top by keeping your inquiry succinct, while still being interesting. I know that's sometimes easier said than done, but it's worth practicing!

3. When sending a booker an email, identify the name of the band and the date in consideration in the subject line! As a booker, there's nothing like having a hundred emails in my inbox, with half them showing the sender as "booking" or "info" and the subject line saying "booking" or "show". Now if the email looks something like.... "Sender: Iggy Pop -- Subject: I want to be on your cooking show on September 30th...." then I'm definitely going to pay it more attention, long before I sort through those 50 emails from "booking".

That's it for tonight on booking, and now onto cooking:

1. When you have leftover fresh herbs, make herb butter. Take one stick of butter at room temperature & using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, blend the following into it: finely minced fresh herbs, a small amount of finely minced shallot, a little bit of grated lemon zest and a little bit of salt. Delicious on bread, in rice or in soup.

2. When you have leftover pita bread, you can make these tasty chips in your toaster oven: Slice the pita into little triangles. Toss them in a bowl with some extra virgin olive oil (just enough to lightly coat the pita!), a couple dashes of cayenne, some cumin (freshly ground is always best) and a pinch of salt. Crisp them in your toaster over for a couple minutes, then flip them and toast the other side. They're the bomb!

3. For perfect hard boiled eggs that peel easily and maintain a nice bright yellow yolk: Bring the eggs to room temperature & cover with water. Bring to a boil. Turn the pan off & cover, let sit for 12 minutes. Gently drop into an ice water bath - the colder the better. Peel, and enjoy!

On second thought... I guess this wasn't exactly short, but I sure hope it's useful!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Obsessed with Songs

Wow, what a day.

Our little Immersion Composition Society lodge is called Iconolodge, and we have loosely around 10 or 12 folks who meet quite irregularly after a day's work of dedicated songwriting and recording. We spend the evening together listening to the fruits of our labors, shaking our heads in amazement and laughing uproariously over the amazing and insane art that comes out of each of us.

Being turned on to this community of songwriters and this approach to songwriting has been one of the most amazing, most inspiring things that has ever happened to me. It has also been one of the most terrifying and humbling experiences I have ever known. One thing is certain; it has changed my approach to songwriting and creativity forever and I cannot thank my friends Michael Mellender and Nicholas Dobson enough for inviting me to do ICS for the first time.

Today my 4-track broke after I completed my first song, and I bit the bullet and did what I've been wanting to do for several years now - I bought a digital 8-track recorder! And what's more amazing, I managed to figure out how to work it, and crank out another 2 songs by the time 8 o'clock rolled around and my fellow songwriters started to arrive! For a luddite like me, this is nothing short of a miracle! But of course, this happened only by my sacrificing the urge to cook a 4 course meal for my beloved guests, or at the very least, some tasty appetizers. All day long I was fussing with cables and wires and levels, as the big bowl of nuts, seeds, dried fruit and oats stared blankly at me from their big bowl in the kitchen, as if to say, "We are waiting for you to make us just a little more delicious...". Or, something like that.... Well, that was my day. Granola adventures will be coming soon, but for tonight, I'm basking in song.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Out with Mole...for now at least!

I swear I'm gonna move on from mole real soon. But I just had to share the results with those of you who weren't actually at the party last night, or lucky enough (or unlucky enough, depending on the day) to live, or find yourselves, within spitting distance of my kitchen. It's no surprise that the winner is.... Mole #1.... with Mole #4 in a close second place - while sad, strange Mole #3 just sat there congealing in its lonely little bowl all night long.

As soon as I figure out how to archive recipes, I will post the recipe for Mole #1 (perhaps with a more creative title?) with my adaptations.

And just what the hell am I gonna do with that plethora of leftover nuts & seeds? I thought you'd never ask. Get ready for granola, baby. Granola all the way...

Couple things I want to mention today:

1. Anthony Bourdain fucking rocks. Check out this intense first hand account of his being stranded in Beirut while there to film an episode of his most excellent show "No Reservations".

2. Lately I've been reunited with my Nellie Bly (self titled) CD - and what a beautiful reunion it is. The music that these folks make is at least as good as - or possibly far superior to - anything on the radio these days. Listening to their music is almost as good as enjoying it live. Singer Missy Gibson is a force to be reckoned with, highly skilled in the art of making the audience become putty in her hands. She and guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Mike Flanagan make music that is both gorgeous & rocking, with choruses that will haunt you for days (...listen to "Bucket of Blood" and see if you can get it out of your head!).

Lastly.... tomorrow is ICS day! That stands for Immersion Composition Society. That means I'll be up stupid early, spending the whole day obsessed with songwriting and recording. And I shall not emerge until I've written & recorded a butt-load (or at least a handful) of new songs. What can I say? I'm an obsessive kinda gal. More details about ICS will be coming in future posts.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Mas Mole

So last night I found myself a little extra ambitious (or perhaps just extra insane) and decided to work on two different mole recipes at once. It turned into such a long project that Emily had to call me from next door around 11 pm and ask me to quit making such a racket in the kitchen.

The results: one really kick ass mole, and one that was just kinda.... weird.

I've come to the conclusion that to make a really killer mole, you have to include roasted onions, garlic and tomatoes - you can either roast them in the oven or toast it all in a cast iron skillet. But you cannot make a really tasty mole without these ingredients.

You also have to use dried peppers. I know this seems counter-intuitive, but I've now made two different batches with freshly roasted peppers and it just doesn't float my boat!

So mole #3 was again from Emeril Laggase. The first recipe of his that I tried was really quite exquisite, so I had high hopes for this one, but it was just... thick and weird. I followed the recipe exactly, and what I got was this thick green substance with a very mild flavor. It's not really a bad flavor, just not very complex. I'm tellin' ya, it's lack of garlic! The recipe called for, among other things, tamarind paste, cane syrup, and cocoa powder. I'm going to bring it to the party with the other sauces just to see if anyone likes it.

But mole #4, now there's a winner! It was a LOT of work but really worth the effort. I followed the recipe pretty closely, but I wasn't able to find all the varieties of peppers at my local Mexican grocery store, so I used mostly anchos, guajillos and pasillas, all dried. The recipe also called for a very small bit of fried plantain, which turned out to be just the right amount. In addition to tomatoes, there were tomatillos, which I haven't really used much before so that was a treat. Lastly, I didn't use lard to fry the mole; I used olive oil. The end result: delicious! The perfect balance of heat and sweetness! Blows mole #3 away!

But how does it compare to mole #1? As you may recall, that one was pretty darn tasty. I guess we'll find out tomorrow night when I bring all but mole #2 to the party.

Last night's soundtrack was a really cool compilation made by none other than the aforementioned Tara Linda. It featured some really beautiful sounds from Lhasa, Calexico, and Lydia Mendoza, just to name a few. Thanks, Linda!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Mole Cabaret

Mole Cabaret

I had high hopes for Mole #2 - I was so intrigued by the addition of plantains that it almost didn't bother me that the recipe didn't call for any onions or garlic (what can I say? I'm Italian). I also decided to do a little improvising by roasting fresh poblano peppers instead of using dried. The result? A syrupy sweet, thick nut buttery mess. Now don't get me wrong; it tasted pretty wonderful, but it didn't taste like mole. Of course I'm no expert... in fact, I'm just learning. But it was such a letdown after the flavor explosion of Mole #1. Mole #2 was all sweet, no heat.

I'm sure my using fresh roasted peppers didn't help. I even added half a dozen soaked dried anchos to bring up the heat, but to no avail. I think the combination of a pound of raisins and three plantains was just overkill, even before the chocolate was added. Ah well...that's why they call it recipe testing!

Two down, one more to go.

As I'm writing this, I'm enjoying the soon to be released album from local artist Tara Linda. What spooky loveliness. This woman's voice is like a cool glass of water, and her soulful cabaret is the perfect soundtrack to a lazy afternoon....the kind where you fall asleep in the grass and find yourself in the middle of bizarre circus dreams, and you're not quite sure if that lovely accordion wielding siren is coming to save you or poison you, but you can't help but want her to come closer....