Friday, November 28, 2014

Food Truck Road Trip Cookbook Review and Giveaway: Loco Moco Mazemen (Beef Ramen with Miso Gravy)

Shortly before I headed west for the World Food Championships, I got an email about doing a review of a really fun cookbook called Food Truck Road Trip by bloggers Kim Pham and Philip Shenn with food writer,Terri Phillips. You very might well recognize Pham and Shen as the bloggers behind Saveur magazine's pick for Best Culinary Travel Blog, I usually always agree with Saveur's blogger picks, so when I got a chance to look this book over, I was more than happy to oblige.

Food Truck Road Trip is a bright, colorful cookbook loaded with the authors' picks of some of the best food truck recipes from around the country. All of the recipes are prefaced by a little history of the chefs and their inspiration for their trucks and their recipes. I love reading the background on these entrepreneurs, because deep down inside I wish I could load up a cute little trailer with my favorite recipes and watch the diners line up at the window. Maybe someday.

For some this is dream is a reality and Pham and Shen have sought them out and compiled 100 of their best recipes for this book. From soup and sandwiches, to American comfort food with a little Latin, Asian and fusion foods in between, this book is a beautifully photographed tour of some of America's best food trucks. Oh yeah, they didn't forget about those with a sweet tooth. There's lots of recipes for drinks, desserts and snacks in there too.

Since I always like to cook the books that I review, I combed through this one no less than ten times trying to land on just the perfect recipe. It was really a tough decision, what with trying to decided between Wes Islip's (Melts My Heart, San Jose) crab salad grilled cheese, Timothy Mark Abeil and Caleb Patrick Orth's (Flat Iron, Los Angeles) Oxtail Mac N' Cheese, and Joe Glaser's (La Bella Torte, New York, NY) Rosemary Olive Oil and Blood Orange Cake. See what I mean?! Hard choices!

After changing my mind several times I finally landed upon Loco Moco Mazemen from the tiny food cart, Poi Dog Philly, owned by Kiki Aranita and Chris Vacca, from (you guessed it) Philadelpia, PA. I just loved the Hawaii meets Japan vibe of this beefy noodle dish. Nevermind that I found 8 packages of ramen and an unopened container of miso when we moved. Well, maybe it did have just a bit to do with my decision, but I'm so glad it worked out like this, because we really enjoyed it.

Loco Moco Mazemen (Kiki Aranita & Chris Vacca, Poi Dog Philly)

3/4 pound ground beef
4 eggs
4 - 1/4 ounce dried ramen noodles

1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, grated
1/3 cup diced white onion
2 tablespoon shoyu (I used soy sauce)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Miso Gravy
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups beef stock
2 tablespoons white miso
1 teaspoon black pepper
Salt to taste

4 tablespoons fried shallots
Pinch of furikake (a spice blend also known as rice seasoning)
8 sheets roasted Korean seaweed for garnish (optional)

To make the marinade, combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl.  Add the ground beef, cover and marinate in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.

Bring a small pot of water to a boil over high heat, add the eggs and boil for 6 minutes. Drain and immediately dunk in ice water. Peel and set aside.

Cook the ramen noodles according to the package directions, drain and set aside.

To make gravy, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and stir in the flour. Once the roux browns lightly, 1 to 2 minutes, whisk in the beef stock, then the miso. Add the black pepper and salt to taste. Cook for about 6 minutes until the gravy thickens.

Remove the beef from the refrigerator, add to a skillet set over medium-high heat and saute until cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes.

Divide the noodles among 4 bowls, dress with the miso gravy, then top evenly with the beef, 1 egg, the fried shallots and furikake. Tuck 2 sheets of seaweed next to the rim of each bowl.

My only note here is that I thought that the gravy was a bit floury so next time I will back off the flour a bit and go with my trusty 1 to 1 ratio of fat to flour and use 2 tablespoons instead of the 1/3 cup called for in the recipe. We also thought this dish needed a bit of a spike in flavor (maybe because I didn't have any seaweed) so we squirted a little sriracha on top and sprinkled it with a bit of cilantro and some chopped green onions. 

OK, now for the fun part, my giveaway. I've got one copy of this fun book to give away to one of my readers. I like to keep my giveaways simple so just by commenting here or on Savoury Table's Facebook page (click the button at the top right of this page), you are entered to win. I will hold my drawing on Friday, December 5th. If you are chosen as my winner, you have 48 hours to contact me or I will choose another winner so please be sure that I have a way to contact you. Good luck!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Finally Home and Cooking Again: Maple Pumpkin Bread and Butter Pudding

Well, the big move is over. While the last few loads of stuff we really didn't want but were afraid to throw away is still haunting me in corner of the garage, things are starting to come together. We can now locate everyone's underwear, and toilet paper is no longer a scarce and precious commodity since the Costco box has been located.

If you are new to this site, you might not know that we recently traded a nice new-ish house in the burbs for a smaller 50 year old house closer into the city. No longer wanting the high taxes that support the highly rated and sought after schools that we no longer need, we are now living in an older established neighborhood that is very reminiscent of ones where my husband and I grew up. The taxes are low and the trees are big. Just what we wanted.

Fifty-two years ago to be exact, a man named Pifer built our new house for his family. From that moment until just a few weeks ago, his family owned this home. Although they did rent it out for years, no house flippers touched one single light switch in the house. Most of it is exactly as it was built all those years ago. Again, just what we wanted.

Mr. Pifer chose the best of materials for his house. From the select hardwoods in the bedrooms and hallway, to the bronze tone Tappan oven in the kitchen (which still works perfectly), it was nothing but the best for this house. We are now discovering the ups and downs of plastered walls and the basement boiler and loving every minute of it.

By trade, Mr. Pifer was in the tile business. Most of the rooms in this house were carefully designed by him and applied by some of the best tile layers in the city. Our new to us house was no doubt a tile showplace back in 1962.

Unfortunately for us, Mr. Pifer didn't cover his house with octagonal marble or white subway tiles. It is decorated in spearmint and forest green in two of the bathrooms, a pinkie beige and chocolate brown in the master bath, and a bright lemon yellow and burgundy in the kitchen. The striking blue/gray, coral and white chevron pattern in the entry hall defies all description. It is a virtual porcelain rainbow around here.

To avoid a double move and do most of the renovation ourselves, we decided to just move in and redo it one room at a time. What the hell were we thinking?! Not only are we living with unattractive decor, but we are also living with grime in every nook and cranny. So, instead of painting and primping, we are scrubbing, scouring and stripping . . .  and having a blast.

If all these goings on aren't enough, I have just landed from a whirlwind trip to Vegas for a cooking contest working holiday. It was fun and I got to see scores of friends, but I have never been so happy to get back home and back to work.

Seeing that I am now back to semi normal, I guess that it is about time to get back into the swing of things, and I think I'll start off with a holiday themed blog post. Even though I'm not a huge pumpkin fan, I have gotten the distinct impression that many cooks are, so I am going to dedicate this one to you, and you know who you are.

This pumpkin recipe is a beautiful bread and butter pudding. It starts off with some stale or dried out bread spread with some of my favorite Epicurean Butter and is then doused with a pumpkin custard and baked to a golden brown. It is a great dessert when you don't want something that is overly sweet to end your meal.

Well I guess I better quit talking and leave you with this delicious pudding. There is a well built cleaner known as the Rug Doctor waiting for me in the basement and he is growing impatient. The excitement never ends around here. It is good to be back.

Maple Pumpkin Bread and Butter Pudding 

8 ounces (1/2 loaf) of stale sweet Hawaiian bread, sliced into 1/2" slices

1 - 3.5 ounce container of Maple Syrup Epicurean Butter or 6 tablespoons softened butter blended with 1 - 2 tablespoons maple syrup, depending on how sweet you like it

1 cup pumpkin puree

3 eggs, beaten

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger root

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 healthy pinch ground cloves

1 healthy pinch allspice

Butter the bread slices liberally on one side with the flavored butter. Stack slices one on top of the other and slice into 1" squares; set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the pumpkin puree, eggs, whipping cream, salt, ginger root, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and all spice.

Add the bread crumbs and stir gently with a wooden spoon to coat; set aside.

Spray an 8" square baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Pour the bread mixture into the dish and spread evenly. Cover and refrigerate for approximately 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place pudding into the preheated oven and bake for 30 - 40 minutes or until the custard is set. Remove and cool for approximately 10 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar and serve warm or chilled with a dollop of melted maple flavored butter, whipping cream or ice cream.

*I was given samples of Epicurean Butter to create fun recipes. I was given no monetary compensation in return.