Rooster vs. Rooster

I love hot sauces.  Mexican, Asian, Southern, thick, thin, red, green, brown.  I'm not picky.  I love them all.  Los Angeles' own Sriracha Thai-style hot sauce is one of my personal favorites. It has a white rooster and green screwcap on a backdrop of bright red deliciousness that is recognizable from 50 yards away.  For those who have some difficulty pronouncing Sriracha, they just call it Rooster-sauce.

A Louisiana-style hot sauce is also always a staple in our house.  Usually these are watery, vinegary, and often have a backbone of paprika and black pepper notes.  Tobasco took the Louisiana-style to the moon and back.  Even celebrity chefs like Jaques Pepin use it; like advocating the addition of a squirt or two into his French onion soup.

I'm not a big fan of Tobasco. Although I'll sprinkle it, I feel like it lacks much flavor.  Maybe I'm just too used to it.  Maybe your average bottle at the diner has been sitting next to the sugar, salt, and maple syrup for 6 or 7 years.  In any case, for Louisiana I prefer Crystal and Red Rooster.

I decided to put Sriracha and Red Rooster into a Title Bout, pitting them in a no holds barred battle of the heat...


In the first corner with the little green cap, hailing from Los Angeles, at 31 years of age and weighing 17 ounces, fighting in a Muay Thai style, from Huy Fong Foods, SRIRACHA!!!

In the second corner with the bright yellow shirt, from New Iberia Louisiana, 83 years young and weighing 12 ounces, fighting in a Southern Preying Mantis style and from Bruce's Foods, RED ROOSTER!!!

Round 1

Round 1: Trader Joe's Toaster Oven Gorditas

Trader Joe's Toaster Oven Gorditas

Both levels of heat were appropriate and necessary, the Gorditas are pretty bland on their own.  Although neither sauce was anything like a Mexican picante sauce, they both worked well.  The dry corn pupusa-like shells absorbed the sauces almost completely.

The Result:  A Draw!

Both were good and I couldn't eat these things without hot sauce.


Round 2

Round 2: Deep Dish Pizza

Deep Dish Pizza

We opted for a layer of spicy Giardiniera on this and it was a load hotter than either of us expected.  My face and neck sweated profusely as I pounded out this battle but I prevailed in determining a winner.  I can't say I entered the fight without prejudice, I fully expected Red Rooster to win.  I have been putting Louisiana hot sauces on my pizza since before I learned how to use a fork.

The Result: Sriracha!

I liked the strategic placement the squirt bottle top provided and how the thicker Sriracha stayed where it was placed.  It also has a little sweetness which may have given me that extra edge against the heat to continue judging.


Round 3

Round 3: Tin Roof Sundae

Tin Roof Sundae

Oh no he didn't!  Oh yes he did! This half gallon of Tin Roof Sundae kept taunting me every time I went into the freezer, haranguing me, challenging me.  Well, with great power comes great responsibility and I couldn't let anyone down in case they were looking for a hot sauce comparison with ice cream.

The Result: Sriracha!

Again, I came in with prejudice.  I thought the garlic in Sriracha would make it an unbearable mix with the fudge swirls but when I hit a peanut, it reminded me of Pad Thai. The Red Rooster has no distant cousins on tin roofs.


Round 4

Round 4: Taco night!

Taco Night!

This was a tough decision.  I wonder if I did this battle with Taco Night 10 times what the end result would be.  The sharp vinegary-ness of Red Rooster was strong and held its own against the seasoning of the ground beef.  

The Result:  Sriracha!

Again, both sauces worked well but it was the smart-bomb delivery system that comes from the magic green squirt top.  I was able to place the exact amount on each bite right where I wanted it to hit my tongue.  This was a close, hard-fought battle.


Round 5

Round 5: Breakfast Sandwiches

Breakfast Sandwiches

Eggs, cheese, English Muffins - a staple around here.  Having a good hot sauce makes a good thing wonderful and this was another fight I was especially interested in the outcome.  The paprika and black pepper notes in the Red Rooster aided their cause well, the garlic and catsup-y consistency of Sriracha benefited their camp.

The Result: Sriracha!

I think it came down to our American association of eggs with catsup.  Sriracha is like catsup's bigger, more worldly older brother that spent time abroad and came back kissing women on the cheek and saying things like, "Ciao." 


Round 6

Round 6: Thai Food

Thai Food

This battle was in Sriracha's back yard.  We had some Pad Thai and some Eggplant in Green Curry.  The squirt bottle top was playing in the Thai fighter's favor but the piquant acidity of the Red Rooster put up a solid defence.

The Result: Red Rooster!

Well, if you bet on Sriracha winning this one, you lost.  I'm not exactly sure what it was that I liked so much in the Red Rooster; maybe it added some flavors that were not already present in the Thai dishes that gave it a little more depth.  Who knows?  


Round 7

Round 7: Chicken Tacos and Homemade Black Beans

Chicken Tacos and Homemade Black Beans

This was another close one.  The Red Rooster had an early lead, that Sriracha closed in on.  Both faired well.  Although either would suffice in lieu of a real Mexican hot sauce, I would have much rather had some Tapatio, Pico Pica, or Valentina (mmm, Valentina).  

The Result: Sriracha!

In the end, it came down to delivery again.  With a finger-food, like a taco, precise delivery is the key to success.



Round 8

Round 8: Stouffer's Frozen Lasagne

Stouffer's Frozen Lasagne

The Stouffer's product is a good one as is, and especially with some homemade garlic bread and a salad - but it could still use a little pick me up.  I tend to touch this up with a dash of hot sauce so this was another result I was curious about.

The Result: Sriracha!

Again I thought Red Rooster would take the cake, again I was made a fool.  The garlic melded well with the Italian fare.  That little green squirt top is like a flavor laser, it goes right where you want it.


The Final Countdown: Sriracha wins with a 6-1-1 record.  I didn't think it would be the landslide that it was.  I love my Louisiana-style hot sauce and I especially love Red Rooster.  There are always 4-6 hot sauces in the rotation at any given point in our fridge.  It's not as if I am going to put Sriracha on everything and it does surprise me a bit that it won so many close battles.  It is one heck of a condiment however, and there's good reason why Huy Fong Foods is now building a brand new $40 million, 655,000 square foot facility to keep up with demand.

Long live sauces with roosters on them!

Authordavid koch
Authordavid koch
Your author, having fun  
This is an entry for Project Foodbuzz, so get out there and ROCK THE VOTE for me!

In high school had a pair of shorts that read on the inside label, “Life is a lot more fun when you're having fun.”  It was written upside down and really, the only time it would have ever been seen was when the person wearing them happened to be on the toilet.  The people who made the shorts knew that oftentimes those moments are spent in reflection, and that mantra has been with me ever since.

There are many ways to have fun while cooking. You can have fun by creating new things: Hibiscus Bubbles, Lemon Verbena Fruit Salad, Spanish Almond Soup, Tomato Martinis, Oven Dried Persimmon, Gaucho Chili Verde, and Chelada Turkey Tacos.  What is more fun however - is making the mundane interesting.

Let me show you some of the fun things we have incorporated into our daily lives.

Make your own pepper blendMake your own pepper blends:  Black pepper (Piper nigrum) goes in nearly every savory dish in western cuisine.  Boring.  Make your own pepper blends to "spice things up a bit" - get it?  Never mind.  While green peppercorns are the unripened seeds of the same species, pink peppercorns are not.  Many blends come with those three, black, green, and pink, but have fun by adding more exotic spices that play nice with the black pepper profile.

Grains of Paradise (Afrimomum melegueta) are in the ginger family and taste like a cross between black pepper and nutmeg.  Our current grinder (yes it's a plastic disposable that's earned a second life) currently grinds out a 50/50 black pepper / Grains of Paradise blend.  It’s delicious, and it adds such a delicate nuance, unsuspecting guests cannot tell.  For the next blend I think we’ll introduce some Sichuan pepper.

Make your own Seasoned SaltMake your own Seasoned Salt.  Salt is boring too.  When I was a kid, I became intrigued by the salt alternatives like Accent, Spike, and Mrs. Dash.  I still am.  How could something taste salty if it doesn't have any salt in it?  Lowry's built an empire on their Seasoned Salt and nearly every home in the US has a jar, but that doesn't mean that you can't make your own.  Currently our consists of Kosher salt, paprika, smoked paprika, Tony Chachere’s Cajun blend, and sumac.

Try interesting oilsTry interesting oils:  There are other cooking oils besides olive oil.  Of course you should keep some great olive oil on hand, but branch out!  We have been through bottles of Avocado, Walnut, Peanut, Almond, Sunflower, and Grapeseed Oil.  My current oil of choice is Coconut Oil; the poor guy has been accused of being unhealthy but has a ton of healthy lauric acid.  Next on my list is cold-pressed Canola, it is supposed to be much more flavorful than the normal Canola you cook with.

Never buy salad dressing:  At the very least, an acid, an oil, and salt, make dressing.  Use some fun oil (besides olive oil) and mix it up with different citrus fruits and different vinegars.  Tangerines and Grapefruits make excellent dressings, as do Sherry and Champagne Vinegars.  Add some Brewers Yeast, and try adding different mustards.  One of my favorite dressings is with red wine vinegar, brewers yeast, grapeseed oil, salt, pepper, and stone ground mustard.  Try it on a Spinach Salad.

Make the most amazing cup of coffee every morningMake the most amazing cup of coffee each morning:  Every day brings a new world of possibilities.  Start it off right with the best cup of Joe you can muster.  It has taken me 18 years of making my own coffee each morning, and I’ve got it nearly to a science.  It starts with buying beans from your coffeehouse and I have them grind it on a #2.  This is fine like an espresso grind.  I know what you’re thinking, I ground my own for more than a decade.  If you drink coffee every morning, don't worry, you will easily go through that pound of beans before it gets stale.

Next buy a plastic cone and some paper filters.  Boil your water and I add a heaping tablespoon for each mug, maybe a little extra for those mornings when the eye boogers are especially thick.  If you like sugar, add it to the coffee in the filter.  This, I assure you, will be the best cup you’ve ever had.  Mess around with the extras, different sugars, soy, almond, and hemp milks.  There’s no need to mess with the process.

When it comes to the kind of coffee, mix it up.  Different regions produce different styles of coffee; the major ones are South East Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and South America.  Go through each one to become familiar, then start working on blends.  Make them your own.  If your coffeehouse sells loose beans, ask them to mix them for you and grind them up together.  Peet’s sells an excellent blend called Major Dickason’s that was developed by one of their customers.  Maybe one day you’ll have your own blend named after you.

Brew your own beerZymology, brew your own beer:  People have been doing it for thousands of years.  It’s easy and your results will often be better than anything you can find in a store.  I make my own beer and I have been since before I could legally buy it.  They don’t ID for yeast, hops, and malt.  I have been to the edges of good taste and back.  Some of my creations include: Kava Kava Cranberry Mint, Agave Lime beer with Chilies, Mocha Stout, Multigrain Light and Multigrain Dark (they included barley, wheat, oats, rye, and rice), and a Hoppy Hard Cider.  

Brewing is easy.  If you drink beer, you should make beer.  Read a book, buy a kit, and make some.  My dad made his own wine when I was growing up and although I’ve taken a home-winemaking class, I don’t have the storage for it right now.

Brew your own vinegarBrew your own vinegar:  A friend gave me a vinegar mother about two years ago and I’ve been brewing my own red wine vinegar ever since.  I started with a bottle of Petit Syrah and, whew, it is intense!  Now, whenever we don’t finish a bottle of red wine, we add it to the jar and it continues.  Call it a cuvee if you will.  This is how the ancients did it.  There is nothing I’ve ever tasted like real red wine vinegar.  It not only makes salad dressings amazing, but a little splash adds that note of acidity that make dishes pop.

Brew your own kombuchaBrew your own kombucha:  I started drinking kombucha with the rest of the masses about two years ago and when I finally read up on it, I realized how simple it is to make.  I ordered a kombucha mother on eBay for about $10 and have been cranking it out.  I have made mint, cranberry, orange, lemon, basil, and pomegranate.  Sipping a kombucha after a good workout really hits the spot.  

So there you have it.  Change up your nuts and bolts routine to make things more interesting and you will have more fun in the kitchen.  Listen to my shorts, “Life is more fun when you’re having fun.”  Or, if you don’t listen to my shorts, listen to Vince from the Slap Chop commercials, “Stop having boring tuna.  Stop having a boring life.”


Authordavid koch
CategoriesHumor, Science
16 CommentsPost a comment
Authordavid koch
2 CommentsPost a comment

Brunch Sausage Casserole
As a working mom with a stay at home dad hubby, I don't get to cook too often...  I know, I know, I have it pretty good BUT I like to cook...
...sometimes, on the weekends.  
So, for father's day, because our daughter is two years old, and because I had no idea what else to get him, I thought I'd make Steve (hubby) some great meals.

I have been wanting to make this casserole but did not have an occasion...until now!  We had bought the Jimmy Dean sausage tube a while ago and then threw it in the freezer for a while longer.  In recent weeks, it had been moved to a precarious spot where it would fall out everytime you opened the freezer - the universe was telling me to cook it.
The menu took shape based on what we had in our freezer and fridge as well as flipping through all the magazine pages I've torn out and saved.  For breakfast, a Brunch Sausage Casserole and a Fruit Salad with Candied Ginger.
This recipe can be prepared the night before so that you don't have to spend your morning cooking.  You can enjoy the company of your family.  So Saturday night I made the casserole:
Brunch Sausage Casserole (Serves 4-6)
  • 1 16oz Jimmy Dean Sausage (cooked, crumbled, and drained on a paper towel)
  • 4 cups cubed day old bread
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 10 eggs (slightly beaten)
  • 2 12oz cans evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard (the dry seasoning)
  • 1 teaspoon salt and pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup peeled chopped tomatoes
Place bread in the bottom of a greased cake pan.  Sprinkle the cheese over the bread.  Combine in a bowl the eggs, milk, mustard, salt, pepper, and onion powder and pour the mixture over the cheese.
Sprinkle the sausage, sliced mushrooms and chopped tomatoes on top.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.
The next morning, uncover and bake the casserole for 55-60 minutes at 325 degrees.  Keep the foil cover and place back on the casserole the top starts to brown too quickly.
The next time I make this recipe, I may try to "skinny" it up by using less eggs or sausage. Or to "mex" it up by adding diced chiles and using pepper jack cheese.  You could also spinach or diced zucchini for a bit more of veg.  It is yummy regardless so I may not mess with it...depends on my mood.

I like that you can make this the night before and then just toss it into the oven in the morning. The only catch I have found is when we have company over for a weekend and this type of dish would be ideal, we're always busy the night before either going places or making a big dinner so I never actually end up making anything the night before...I usually just make a big scramble the next morning or hope that someone suggests going out :)

Fruit Salad with Candied Ginger
I threw in what we had: 2 peaches, 2 mangoes, 2 kiwis, the rest of the strawberries and 1.5 bananas. The key is to dice up about a tablespoon of crystalized ginger (ours is from Trader Joe's) and then simmer that in 1/4 water for a few minutes then blend it and toss with the fruit. I also added a squeeze a lime when I cut the bananas to keep them from browning.

AuthorHeather Ward


Highlights of the week included a fun-filled trip to Vancouver.  Many thanks to Eric and Anderson for putting everything together.  There some great meals there where, unfortunately, camera-phone pictures didn't turn out so well in the dimly lit restaurants.

I may have filled up my memory card taking pictures of all the beers we drank; I just hope we put some bar owner's daughter through college.  And, after a long weekend with the boys, there's nothing like a carton of chocolate milk to settle the stomach for an airplane ride home.  

There were also some oysters to spice things up and some amazing halibut tacos at a not-so-secret spot in Carlsbad.  There was Salmon Jerky, heaps of berries, Crunchy Snack Mix with 46 ingredients, and another batch of Potica

This week was brought to you by the phenomenal Stone Brewery, Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, Curtis Winery, and Pannikin Coffee Roasters.

Chicken Taco with Cabbage, Sour Cream, and Avocado

Authordavid koch

Burritos, coffee, some Russian food, and a triathlon of sorts where the biking has been replaced by drinking beer.  Perfect for me because I don't even own a road bike but even if I did, I'm not a big fan of road bike seats.  The event was hosted by a Navy Seal, god bless 'em, those boys sure know how to host a BBQ.

We grilled a whole turkey, compliments of Honeysuckle White, after brining it for several hours in a Chelada brine (recipe to come) - and it came out fantastic.  I had my doubts about grilling turkey but now I think that's the way to go.

I made some homemade Seasoned Salt with paprika and a couple of odd spices I don't run into often, sumac and filé.  Sumac is most comonly used on salads and kabob; filé is generally associated with gumbo.  This mixture makes for a close relative to a Lawry's-style seasoned salt but with a je ne sais quoi.

Fueling up for the big race

This week was brought to you by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and Tekate.

Authordavid koch

pasta dish

I attended the Gallo Salame Old World Workshop, on Thursday 06-10-10, and had a great time. The people from Gallo were warm and inviting.  The workshop was lead by Chef Catherine “Cat” DeOrio, and she was fantastic. 

She demonstrated to our little group of foodies, food bloggers, and food writers ways to add excitement to everyday meals by adding Gallo Salame.  Each participant received a tray of ingredients and Cat led us in combining them into a delicious pasta salad, made all the more delicious with the addition of strips of Gallo Salame. 

Cat also instructed us in making a ham, turkey, and Gallo Salame sandwich which could be easily turned into a panni with a little butter or oil brushed on the outside of the bread and then grilled with a weight on top.

Gallo Salame Tasting

All yummy things to do with Gallo Salame, but these were just the show pieces, or stunt dishes if you will because the period dressed wait staff whisked our creations away from us once we were done.  “Wait, no take food away,” I heard my stomach say.   But all was not lost. 

Our hungry little gathering soon learned that the people at Gallo Salame were ready to fill our gullets with whatever we wanted from their Trattoria 1910 menu.  I must say the antipasti and the primo entrée selections looked intriguing, but being from the planet Bake, I was on the edge of my seat at the prospect of tasting a Salame macaroon, and if I was exceedingly charming I might even get them to offer me the Trattoria 1910 Cheesecake.

Antipasti and Primo Menu

I was, and they did, and it was delicious and it had only a hint of Salame flavor, and the rest was all rich and creamy cheesecake. The salame macaroon tasted like a cross between a French macaron and a salty, spicy bite of salame.  

Think of it as sitting on your couch and eating bag full of French macarons will watching TV (no judgments, and sadly, yes, I have done this) and then you take a bite of a salame rich panni, and your taste buds start to quiver with confusion, unsure if it wants more sugar, salt or spice to determine if it likes the combination or not. 

It’s not bacon drenched in chocolate or anything, but salame macaroon could be a hit one day.

Gallo Salame Workshop

After Gallo fed us we all had a chance to sit around and talk food.  I met the lovely Aihui Ong who runs the website Love with Food.  Aihui says she wants to bring food lovers and food makers together without all the red tape and bureaucracy.  I am all for that. 

Aihui was sitting with a very pretty food blogger whose name begins with an L, and I did not get her card.  It’s not like me to forget the names of pretty women. I apologize for that.  I also met TerriAnn van Gosliga who runs Cookies and Clogs a food blog for budget minded moms, and she gave me ideas on where to find bargains, and I am not even a mom.

Delicious pasta dish

I also talked to Chef Cat about traveling in Italy and Italian food.  Cat, Aihui, the pretty "L" named girl, and I then sat around and did what foodies do, talked food, restaurants, and food gadgets. That was a lot of fun.

It was a great event and I thank the people at Gallo Salame (Alex Bie and his colleagues) for inviting to participate.  And if you have time, visit the Gallo Trattoria 1910 (90 Natoma Street, San Francisco).  The food is free!

AuthorAntoinne von Rimes

We are still moving in to our new place, and have still been eating a lot of take-out.  There have been a ton of berries in season lately and we've been taking full advantage.  Raspberries, blueberries, cherries, and even the biggest blackberries I've ever seen.

We found a little bagel shop run by a Japanese family that not only makes amazing bagels (when they say "Everything bagel", they mean "Everything"), but they also make some amazing bread and some Japanese-style pastries.  We picked a half loaf of their raisen loaf and a Croquette sandwich.

Some highlights of the week included a little half-price sushi (my favorite kind), lunch at George's at the Cove in La Jolla, a fish burrito from Wahoo's, and some homemade borscht - made from the biggest beet I've ever seen

It feels like a long week.  How about you?  What's that?  A baby is crying, gotta run...

This week was brought to you by Curtis Winery, $1.99 Quail Oak Chardonnay, Orion Beer from Okinawa, a Chelada, Samuel Adams, Hinano Beer from Tahiti, Modelo Beer from Mexico, and Cristal Beer from Peru.  Many thanks goes out to all of our international sponsors.

The music in the video is by Chi McClean - you can buy his album on iTunes.

Russian Cookbook

Authordavid koch

Spring Vegetable Risotto with Goat Cheese and Mint

This is a lighter, more healthful risotto featuring spring vegetables.  It doesn't take long to prepare so it is great for a weeknight meal.  The earthiness of asparagus and peas are brightened with mint.  The goat cheese rounds out the whole dish and adds some creaminess without weighing things down.

Spring Vegetable Risotto with Goat Cheese and Mint (printable recipe)

  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 1 leek, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced 
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 pound arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 pound asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup peas - fresh or frozen
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/3 cup parsley, chopped 
  • 1/4 cup mint, chiffonade
  • Salt and pepper
In a small saucepan, warm stock on medium high heat. Once it comes to a simmer turn heat to low and keep warm.

In a large pot, heat olive oil with 2 tablespoons of butter on medium heat and add onion. Saute for 3-4 minutes or until translucent and then add leek and garlic. Saute for an additional 2-3 minutes. Add rice to pot and stir to coat in fat for 2 minutes. 

Pour in white wine and let it come to a simmer. Once wine has reduced, ladle in warm stock so it just covers rice. Stir and let simmer. As stock reduces, keep adding liquid (about 1 cup at a time). 

Once rice is almost cooked through, about 10-15 minutes, add asparagus and peas. Continue adding stock and stirring until rice and vegetables are all cooked through. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons butter, 3 oz of goat cheese, 1/2 cup of Parmesan, parsley, and mint. 

Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately and pass remaining goat cheese and Parmesan cheese at the table for garnish.

Serves 6



AuthorAmy Koch
8 CommentsPost a comment
Authordavid koch

Delicious Cocktail Wienies

10. Top 10 Foods with Funny Names (via the Los Angeles Foodie)

With such classics as Super Dickmann's, Mini Dickmann's, Cock Soup Mix, and Fart Juice how could you go wrong?  I didn't know that Heinz made a microwavable Spotted Dick Sponge Pudding in a can!  Sounds scrumptious!

9. 10 Great Health Foods for Eating Well (via the Mayo Clinic)

Well, hasn't this subject been beaten like a filthy rug on a windy day?  I thought this was interesting because it is from the freaking Mayo Clinic, not, bestfoodsforstaying, or  Let's get real, the list starts with Apples, Almonds, and Blueberries...

8. Top 10 Mispronounced Foodie Words (via Chicago Tribune)

I've been told that Bruschetta can be correctly pronounced at least two different ways but confusing Chicken Mole with a dish consisting of a flightless bird with a dark spot on its skin is unacceptable.  Pączki?  They got me on that one but I think there are at least two more common ones they missed: chipotle and asiago.  No Vern, it isn't che-pote-el and ah-see-ah-joe.

7. Top 10 Food Hacks (via Lifehacker)

First there's the old "Open a banana like a monkey" trick.  Hint: don't tear it from the stem.  Then there's the "DIY microwave popcorn hack" and the "Making Super Mario-style mushrooms from radishes" how-to guide.  Lastly, they teach you how to make edible shot glasses.  Do all four hacks at the same party and you unlock a badge on Foursquare!

6. Top 10 Food Trends for 2010 (via Epicurious)

Lamb is in, Pork is out.  Home Made Beer is in, Mad-Science Cocktails are out.  Mini Whoopie Pies are in, Mini Cupcakes are out.  Vancouver is in, Barcelona is out...  I'm so bummed right now because I just booked my tickets for the 1st Annual Spanish Basil-Lavender Gin and Tonic, Cupcakes, and Chorizo Tour.  I leave in May.

5. Top 10 Foods Only America Could Have Invented (via the Endless Simmer)

From staples such as a ground pig parts, dipped in batter, skewered with a stick, and deep fried (the Corn Dog) - to more delicacies like impaling a turkey with a duck, that's been impaled with a chicken, that's been packed like a musket with sausage stuffing (the Turducken), this is a solid Top 10 of American gluttony.

4. Top 10 Common Food Poisoning Risks (via the New York Times)

"Each year, about 76 million people in the United States become ill from the food they eat, and about 5,000 of them die, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

Harmful bacteria are the most common cause of food-borne illnesses..."

3. Top 10 Food Related Stand-up Comedy Bits (via LA Weekly) - Mature Audiences

The highlights?  9 minutes with Richard Franklin Lennox Thomas Pryor III talking mostly about Chinese food.  CK Lewis discussing how he won't even try duck vaginas lest he finds out how much he likes them.  There is also Patton Oswald lamenting on how KFC piles everything they have in to their Famous Bowl, and we Americans proceed to eat out of them like dogs.

2. Top 10 Most Common Ingredients in Fast Food (via The Learning Channel)

Would it surprise you if I told you that there are 67 ingredients in a Big Mac?  How about if I told you that Xanthan Gum was in a lot of fast food?  Do you know what Xanthan Gum is?  It is produced by the bacteria Xanthomonas campestris and is used as a thickening agent and stabilizer the world over.  Enjoy!

1. 10 Food Feuds (via Chow)

The list includes such [sort of] heavyweights as Jerry Seinfeld's wife, Scanwich, and Rick's Original Philly Steaks.  They close each showdown with classic quotes as: "The intern has been dealt with, we took away his zero pay," "Mr. McFarland called the allegation that he was a Caesar salad thief ‘a pretty ridiculous claim,’” and “I want to be a good neighbor, but I am nobody’s fool, and nobody’s pushover, and I should not have to carry a baseball bat on my truck in order to sell cupcakes.”

Authordavid koch
2 CommentsPost a comment
Authordavid koch
2 CommentsPost a comment

This week we broke up our burritos with a trip to a farmer's market where we grabbed some baby turnips.  The little guys made it into our salads and we satueed their greens up with a little shallot and olive oil, mmm mmm delish.  I also saw the biggest squash I've ever seen.  They were Tahitian and the purveyor said they grew some as big as 80 pounds.

We had a proper St.Patric's Day meal complete with Corned Beef and Boiled Cabbage.  We managed to find a nitrate-free Corned Beef at Whole Foods, not that we normally care but one of us is pregnant.  Just when I thought it was safe to back to the grocery store... the Girl Scouts struck again.  Another box of Samoas, another 22% of the RDA of saturated fat per 2 cookies.

We ate a lot of Strawberries which are just now coming into season.  The baskets later in the week were far better than the ones in the beginning.  I don't know if it makes any difference, and would love to know if there are any strawberry experts out there, but we noticed that in the better ones, the redness had penetrated closer to the center.  The less flavor they had, there seemed to be more white inside.

I found a joint called Bite of Boston that some days has a Lobster Roll.  It was amazing and they are now on my radar whenever I'm in the area.  We also had an amazing meal at Mario Batali's Pizzarria Mozza, unfortunately they weren't selling orange Crocks at the attached market or I may have bought some.

To wrap up the week, I had a great meal at Stone Brewery, likely my favorite brewery.  I was warned about the food from multiple people so my expectations were set low; unfortunately, they came in right at mark.  Nevertheless, the place is amazing.  If you like beer, the place is worth making a haj to.

Authordavid koch

Home made Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

My mother in-law roasts fresh pumpkin seeds on a regular basis.  Almost weekly.  They are a wonderful snack; delicious, healthful, and have an amazing crunch.  I asked her recently how she makes them because I wasn't seeing piles of pumpkin carcasses laying around everywhere.

She simply uses the ones from Trader Joes, tosses them in a little olive oil, and roasts them at 350 degrees until they begin to pop, about 15 minutes.  She uses Trader Joe's brand because they are not too salty.

If you can only get your hands on David's pumpkin seeds (and you can, they're ubiquitous, they're even at 7-11).  You'll need to soak them in water for about 10 minutes to remove most of the salt.  I've had them before and they are unpalatable.  They then will need to be dried with paper towels and roasted longer as well.

Once they come out of the oven, add salt as needed.  Let them cool, and store them in an air tight container.  They'll keep for weeks.

I thought it was interesting to read David's nutritional facts.  Besides showing they are high in zinc, iron, and magnesium, I was baffled they that they only stated 10mg of sodium.  "But they're indelibly salty," I protested in my head. Who do they think they are?

I also noticed they only showed 1g of fiber per 30 gram serving.  What gives?  Pumpking seeds are mostly fiber!

Eureka!  At the bottom of the facts, it states, "Nutrition facts are for the Pumpkin Seed Kernal.  Eating the shell as well would bring the sodium total to 940mg (39% Daily Value)" - Unfortunately, they fail to mention that it would also bring the fiber total to a whopping 10 grams!

Americans don't eat enough fiber.  Eat more pumpkin seeds.

Authordavid koch
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Happy St. Patty's Day!  Kiss me I'm 3/8ths Irish (and I just found out that I'm 1/8th French Canadian too, but that's another story).  I plan on drinking beer in green bottles if I don't find green beer today and we're making some corned beef and cabbage.  Maybe I'll post the recipe.  Maybe I won't.

Looking back at last week, we've got a veritable mish-mash of meals.

Exhibit A (above):  I started making myself a "shake" in the mornings made up of psyllium husks, water, and yogurt.  I have some gross rituals that I blame on my pre-coffee sleep walking.  It either isn't that bad, or I'm a complete zombie in the AM.

I finished off my Samuel Adams variety pack called the Brewmaster's Collection (Boston Lager, Ale, Noble Pils, Cream Stout, Scotch Ale, and Coastal Wheat).  I was somewhat surprised to read the the Coastal Wheat actually had lemons on it.  Not bad though, hmm.  I also found a $29 beer at Whole Foods (no, I didn't buy it), and I tried two of Dogfish Head's more bizarre brews, Midas Touch and Palo Santo Marron.

At times Wheel of Fortune was on in the house, against my will, and I noticed they went through several food-related puzzles: Hungarian GoulashKiss the Cook, Swiss Cheese, and Dinner Menu.  I still don't understand how people leave that show with more dough than the nerds on Jeopardy.

The Girl Scouts struck again this week... in ice cream form, with Tagalongs ice cream from Dreyer's.  We made huge vat of Chili Verde that took a few days to finish off.  I ran out of coffee for the last two days and had to drink tea; although I bought more today (and got a free tote bag from Peet's, thanks!), I wasn't in dire tea straights like I thought I was going to be. 

To close the week, we had an earthquake last night.  A real, bona fide earthquake.  Enjoy the video.

Authordavid koch
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Gaucho Chili Verde

This recipe has nothing really to do with Argentinian Cowboys (Gauchos) except for the fact that UCSB's Basketball team made it to the Big West finals last Saturday and we don't get to celebrate sports very often.  UCSB is most known in sports for throwing tortillas at games, not winning them.  We decided at the last minute to have some friends to cheer them on over and make a big pot of Chili Verde.

This is a great dish for entertaining because it is A) relatively inexpensive B) can sit on the stove for hours and be served from its cooking vessel C) is freaking delicious.  We served it with some Mexican rice, a black bean salad, tortillas, and a bunch of fixin's... beer too, obviously.  This is a crowd of Gauchos after all.

The Verde (green, in Spanish) must have brought out the luck of the Irish because UCSB triumphed over Long Beach State and we're going to March Madness!  We're going to need a lot more than luck this Friday the 19th, unfortunately, to make it past Ohio State who is favored by 17 points.  We may need a truck full of tortillas too.


The recipe was adapted from Joanne Weir's recipe Slow Braised Pork in her book Tequila.  Among other changes, we omitted the tequila because there were some pregnant ladies running around.  Feel free replace a 1/2 cup of water with a 1/2 cup of tequila

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2 large pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 small green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 3 jalapeños, seeded and minced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 cups chopped tomatillos (fresh or canned)
  • 2 cups water
Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat.  Make sure it is one that you have a lid for.  Season the pork well with salt and pepper.  Add the pork to the pot and sear until golden brown on all sides, about 10 minutes total.  Remove the pork from the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low, add the onion, bell pepper, and jalapeños.

Cook everything, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, 10 to 12 minutes.  Add the garlic, cumin, and oregano tomatillos, water, and pork and bring everything to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the pork is very tender, about 1-2 hours. 

Take the lid off, remove the pork, increase the heat to medium, and simmer until the sauce thickens.  Shred the pork with a pair of forks and add it back to the pot.  Served with warmed corn tortillas and accoutrement like sour cream, chopped cilantro, hot sauce, avocado, chopped scallions, and diced onions. 
AuthorDave and Amy Koch
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Wonton Vegetable Soup

You can find bok choy anytime of year but its peak season is during the winter months. I like the baby bok choy for this soup but if you can't find it feel free to substitute for the larger bok choy or even Napa cabbage. 

I kept this soup on the simpler side with just the wontons and vegetables, but it would also be great with some shrimp and chicken thrown in. Also, don't feel you have to limit yourself to these vegetables, throw in whatever you like or may have on hand!

This recipe makes a good amount of wontons, so if you have extra throw them in the freezer and save for later use. This recipe was adapted from Emeril Lagasse.  



  • 20-30 wonton wrappers
  • 8 oz ground pork
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • 2 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoon scallions, finely sliced


  • 1/2 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 slices ginger root, 1 inch thick
  • 10 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon, fresh ginger juice**
  • 2 medium carrots, peel and sliced
  • 2-3 baby bok choy, sliced
  • 4-6 cremini or shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • Scallions and chili paste for garnish

**grate ginger and then squeeze out the liquid


To assemble the wontons: In a bowl combine pork, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce and scallions. Lay wontons on counter and place 1 teaspoon of pork filling in the middle of each square. 

Brush all four edges of the wrapper with a little water and fold corners together so it forms a triangle. Seal tightly so that all the extra air is removed from inside.  Continue to fold the 2 bottom corners together so they stick together. Let wontons sit while you make the soup.

For the soup: Add oil to a large pot over medium heat.  Add garlic and ginger and saute for 1-2 minutes then add in broth and bring up to a boil.  Reduce heat and let soup simmer for 20-30 so the garlic and ginger infuse into the soup. Once it has infused, remove garlic and ginger pieces and add in soy sauce and ginger juice.

Add in carrots, bok choy, and mushrooms and let simmer 3-5 minutes or until they begin to get tender. Add in wontons and simmer an additional 5-10 minutes or until pork is cooked through.  Check soup for seasonings and add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle in soup bowls and serve.  Garnish with sliced scallions and pass around chili paste for those who like a little heat.

Makes 4-6 servings

AuthorAmy Koch
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photo by richad ling

We've all seen them but for most of us Lionfish seem reserved for aquariums; sometimes in public places, sometimes in the homes of friends bold enough to pull off salt water boxes.  Unfortunately for other fish, people have been seeing them in the Atlantic (where they are not native).  Unfortunately for us, we are not seeing them enough on our plates.

In a recent article in The Economist called, Eat for the Ecosystem, that's exactly what Sean Dimin, one of the owners of a firm called Sea to Table is proposing.  In order to help fend off the invasive species - eat them. Sea to Table "partners with local fishermen from sustainable wild fisheries, finding better markets for their catch."

The problem is not just that Lionfish are non-native, it is that they eat nearly everything

Mark Hixon, an Oregon State University professor of

Authordavid koch

Braised Beef Ragu

This dish is amazing, There is such depth of flavor that each bite takes you to the streets of Rome, sans motorscooters of course.  The texture of the shredded beef stands up well with the bite of al dente Campanelle.  By puréeing the mushrooms and the panchetta the richness of each is multiplied.

We got this recipe from Joanne Weir which she calls Braised Beef in Two Courses but we only made the first course here, the pasta course.  It is a little bit more work than your standard pasta dish but well worth the effort.  Spend a little time on a Sunday afternoon and make enough to take to work for lunch on Monday.

Your labor will be rewarded.


  • 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 pounds beef chuck
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 ounces pancetta, diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 cups peeled, seeded and diced tomatoes, canned
  • 1 pound pasta, we used campanelle
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano



Pour 4 cups boiling water over the dried porcini mushrooms and let sit until the water is cool.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot or heavy casserole over medium-high heat. Season the meat well with salt and pepper and brown the meat, turning occasionally, until browned on both sides, about 10 minutes. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside.

Add the pancetta to the pan and stirring occasionally  cook until golden, about 10 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, and onions to the pan and cook until they begin to soften, about 15 minutes. Strain the porcini and reserve the liquid. Add the revived porcini mushrooms and the garlic to the pan.

In a large bowl, combine the tomato paste, sugar, porcini soaking liquid and tomatoes. Increase the heat to high, add the tomato mixture and add the meat back into the pan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, turning the meat occasionally, until the meat is tender and falling apart, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  You could also place the meat in a 350 degree oven.

If the sauce thickens too much, add water.  Remove the meat from the pan and cover with foil. Purée the sauce in a blender until it is smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until tender. Toss the pasta with as much sauce as needed. Serve with the grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Bon Appétit!


AuthorDave and Amy Koch
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