Baking Tools

Last week, I mentioned how some baking success sparked a new passion, to bake bread. Delicious, full gluten, and wholesome bread.

I did buy some special equipment to assist and streamline the baking. Today, I used it.

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Restaurant Review – Sinaloa Cafe

Restaurant Review – Sinaloa Cafe

When I lived in San Jose in the past, one of my favorite places to eat was a little Morgan Hill staple, Sinaloa Cafe. Solid Mexican cuisine, fun atmosphere, and packed on Friday and Saturday nights. Sadly, their original building burned down a few months before we left San Jose for Tucson, and I lost touch.

I heard that they rebuilt, and moved closer to downtown Morgan Hill, but hadn’t made the trek.

Well, we moved back in 2014, and finally I got the chance to try it out.

First, the interior is a bit cleaner than the old place (not that it was “dirty”, but it was a well visited restaurant with 40 years of history). We went on a Wednesday night and arrived at about 6:45. No wait, and we sat in the front part near the bar. The chips and salsa arrived almost immediately, and it was how I remembered it, freshly fried chips, and a tangy salsa, not chunky. Yum. Our first round was their “Cadillac” margaritas, and they were delish.

We ordered, a Chile Verde burrito for me (wet), and the Enchiladas Especial for Barbara. I also ordered a side of guacamole to nosh on.

Food was hot, and while I can’t speak for the enchilada’s, I can say that the pork chile verde was delightful. It was zesty, the pieces of port were succulent, and the sides (rice and beans) were a perfect complement. A fabulous meal.

The second round of drinks was a bit more reserved, a margarita for Barbara, and I had a Pacifico, as I had to drive.

In summary, it was much how I remembered it, the quality remains high, and we will definitely be returning to the new location. Next time I will buy a new t-shirt, as my old ones are about to fall apart.

I see that Yelp has them rated at 2.5 stars. Definitely a bum rap.

What’s the Point: Sees Candy Nutritional Information

A little splurge, a pound of Sees candy, some good noms. While I am eating some delightful milk chocolate covered toffee, I noticed that there is a little pamphlet. Thinking it might be a guide to the luscious treats that are enrobed in divine milk chocolate, I was disappointed.

It is a pamphlet of the nutritional values. Things like calories, fat (saturated and non-saturated) and even the ingredients.

For fuck’s sake, while I do care about my health, and I do read about ingredients and nutrition on my food, when I decide to treat myself to some exquisite chocolate, basking in the glory that is Sees, I just don’t give a damn.

I eat a piece, savor it, enjoy it, and move on. I don’t even put it in my diet tracker, as I prefer to hide that guilty pleasure.

Some things just don’t need to be tracked…

NB: I poked around their web site, and don’t see the nutritional information. Good for them.

Pizza Primero

Now I'm hungry
Now I’m hungry

One of my specialties is hand made pizza. I first came in contact with making pizza when I got a job at Chuck E. Cheese in the early 1980’s. Apart from the access to wicked cool video games, I got to learn how to build a pie.

Of course, Chuck E Cheese isn’t known for their pizza, but it was a start. Crust, sauce, cheese, toppings, in a very hot (550 – 600F) oven and 7-8 minutes later you have a bubbling gooey top, yet crisp crust.

My next exposure was at Florentines. There I was a bit more than just an assembly line like Chuck E Cheese. There, a single person was dedicated to making pizza per shift, and I learned about other toppings than the standard.

The tools are simple. A peel, pizza pans, a stone an oven that gets hot.

The Process

Dough balls ready to rise
Dough balls ready to rise

The foundation of a good pie is the crust. There are literally thousands of recipes on the art of making pizza. The one we used at Florentines was good, but it was a bit impractical for home use, as it started with a 50# sack of flour.

The recipe I use is a very basic one:

3 Cups All purpose flour
2 teaspoons fast rise yeast (I use the Fleishmann’s in the small jar)
2 teaspoons salt (I use kosher salt, but it really isn’t important)
2 tablespoons olive oil

In a food processor, with the standard blade, put the dry ingredients in. Start the processor, add the oil (I will admit that I don’t measure it, just a couple of glugs).

Then slowly pour in 1 cup cold water. You really want to trickle it in, so do be patient.

If the dough ball doesn’t form, add more water, one tablespoon at a time. If it is too wet, add flour one tablespoon at a time.

When you are done, you will have a nicely formed dough ball. Remove it from the food processor, and transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Knead it by hand for a couple minutes. Split into two equally sized pieces, and then place in a container and cover with a towel to let it rise.

After the dough is made, I begin to cook the ingredients. Today, I am making a pepperoni and sausage pie. Since I don’t have a very high BTU oven, that can get to 600F, I precook my sausage to ensure that it is properly cooked.

pizza-799% of the time, when I need shredded cheese, I use my trusty box grater. Not for pizza though. This is the one time I get out the grater blade for the food processor and let it rip. About 15 seconds for a full package of partially skim mozzarella.

Sauces – If I am making a margarita pizza, I will make a very simple sauce – canned tomatoes, olive oil, and some sea salt in a food processor. But for all others, I get lazy. Classico Tomato Basil spaghetti sauce is really good. Or I will make a white sauce pizza, again using a premade alfredo to start. Yes, I can (and have) made both, but for the small amount needed for a pie, it isn’t worth the effort.

The end result.

Tonight’s pies were the aforementioned pepperoni and sausage, and another staple of mine, a basil cream sauce with mozzarella and fresh tomato slices.


Meals in the new Kitchen – Arroz con Pollo

A series of posts about the meals I cook in our new house. I have posted on some of my culinary exploits in the past, but these will be special.

For the first time ever, I have new appliances (mainly a quality range) to cook with, and that brings me no small measure of joy.

The first meal was Arroz con Pollo, a hearty Mexican classic, single pot meal.

You really need a good heavy dutch oven for this. I have a Le Cruset “second” that I bought at an outlet store probably 25 years ago.

Browning the chicken
Browning the chicken

Arroz con pollo is traditionally made with a cut up whole chicken. You brown it in oil (I use olive oil), remove the chicken to a plate, then cook some veggies in the oil. Onions and bell peppers are essential, but you can get creative.

After you have sautéed the onions and firm veggies, you add a cup of rice, uncooked, 1.5 cups of chicken broth (the chicken pieces, and cover and cook in a 350F oven for about 90 minutes. The rice will be cooked, and the liquid from the chicken will run clear. Then you add some drained stewed tomatoes, some peas, and any other quick cook veggies. Again, you can get creative.

Ready to eat! Yum.
Ready to eat! Yum.

Back in the oven for 15 more minutes, and Voilá, a delicious meal that is easy to make, and to clean up after.

Buon Appetité!