Saturday, June 30, 2012

Yelp Review - Backyard BBQ Pit

Backyard BBQ Pit

5122 NC Hwy 55
Durham, NC 27713
(919) 544-991
August 2011

Oh. my. goodness.  I thought the pork was amazing.  I had the pulled pork with the coleslaw, mac&cheese, and sweet potatoes.  Hubby had the collards, so I tried that too.  Oh, and hush puppies...cannot forget the hush puppies!  The pork was moist and flavorful and I could really taste the smoke.  I did not add too much extra sauce as I was sharing with Lilly and did not want it too spicy for her.  I did not think it needed it, and believe me, I am a sauce person.  The mac&cheese was good, but not as good as my mom's.  I was not thrilled with the sweet potatoes.  They were in a sweet, gelatinous sauce that was just so-so.  The collards were delicious as were the hush puppies.  Oh and the sweet tea was great!  I am not always a fan, but I loved theirs.  Affordable, tasty, casual....I liked reading all the writing on the wall.  It said it all!  I left our mark: Melvinly 2011 and Jersey girls like BBQ :)

Yelp Review - Mami Nora

Mami Nora's Rotisserie                              
302 Davidson Ave
Durham, NC 27701
(919) 220-9028

August  2011
Peruvian Fare

When I was staying with friends in Durham they mentioned that one night we would have chicken from here.  They said it was the best ever, or at least close to it.  Well, it was awesome.  Super moist and flavorful, falling off the bone.  For sides we had the coleslaw, yucca fries and rice and beans and the tostones.  I liked the yellow, mustardy sauce but was afraid to try the green sauce.  It just smelled hot!  But I heard it was good.  My daughter (3 y.o.) gobbled it all and we just could not stop eating it!  I mashed some of the tostones with the chicken and rice and beans and ate it, so good!  Go there!!!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

First up - latkes

The final latkes. 
The first food I am making with the campers next week is potato pancakes, or latkes.  The camp directors really want the cooking session to have an international range of recipes.  In order to make things easier, I am starting with pancake week.  We will be making potato latkes.  Lots of them!  Three times a week I will be getting some of the older campers so on those days we will be making other recipes as well.

Today I decided to experiment with the egg substitute to see how it will work.  And since I have never made a potato latke before, I needed to make some before I make them about 27 times next week.  I did not decide to take pictures until half way through, so use your imaginations for the first few steps!

Potatoes went into the food processor and were shredded quickly. grated knuckles necessary.

I also grated the onion that way, though in camp I think I will use the hand chopper.  Kids love using that!

I drained all the water ( I thought) from the shredded potatoes.  I pressed down with a paper towel and tried to squeeze out as much as possible.  Note to self: squeeze out liquid in small batches, as they are shred.  Trying to squeeze the liquid out of 4 large shredded potatoes doesn't really work too well.

I mixed the egg substitute with warm water as directed.  It seemed too liquidy, but I since I have never used it before, what do I know!  In it went.

Salt, pepper and flour went in and I mixed everything together.

I had been heating the oil in a heavy pan so it was good and hot when ready.  I scooped a small amount of the mixture and put it into the hot oil.  I made 3 and they all sucked.  They were sticking and falling apart and soaked in oil.  By the end I realized that they key is waiting until they loosen naturally, kind of like when you are cooking chicken.  When it is done, it comes up easily and you don't leave half your food stuck to the pan.

Round 2...
I scraped all the loose bits out and added a touch more oil.

I frantically texted my friend Julie who makes awesome latkes.  She gave me some hints.  Namely, squeeze that liquid out!  And when I think I am done, squeeze some more.  Who knew there was so much moisture in a potato?

I took a smaller scoop and squeezed more liquid out.  I placed it gently into the oil.  When it was done I flipped it.  Then I put it onto a paper towel lined plate.  This one looked perfect!

This batch definitely came out better than the last.  The problem was that now the liquid seemed to be multiplying in the bowl.  Seriously, it was a soup mess. I ended up having to squeeze out each latke as I formed it.  Unfortunately this meant that they lost flavor.  I think the egg substitute did not have enough viscosity.  Maybe more powder next time?  I think I can get away with not adding any egg.

All in all I think the latkes were a success.  I am only making applesauce with the older group on Wednesday.  I have made it before so I am not worried about trying that out first.  I just hope that I can fill up the 40 minutes without having too much or too little time leftover.  Any latke tips for me??  

Recipe I used:
Potato Pancakes
  • 5 large russet potatoes, peeled
  • 1 medium onion
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup matzo meal or flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (I actually started using 1/2 tsp pepper and flavor was boosted!)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil, for frying
Grate potatoes and onion into a bowl or pulse in food processor. Drain any excess liquid, then add the eggs, matzo meal, salt and pepper.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Spoon the mixture into hot oil forming small pancakes. Cook until underside is golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip pancakes and cook until other side is golden and potatoes are cooked through, about 2 minutes more. Serve hot with fresh applesauce or sour cream.

A New Chapter

As you can see, I have written a grand total of 6 posts, with the last one being more than 10 months ago.  I would LOVE to devote a chunk of time to developing my grilling skills and recipes but that time will not be now.

What I can do, I think, is keep track of the recipes I am using for my summer camp job.  There are a few hurdles for me; the first being my anxiety about how this is going to pan out.  I have never done anything like this before.  I just like to cook and bake and eat!  I am also a teacher, and I always cook with Lilly, so I am hoping that I can draw from all those experiences.

The next issue which will require some experience, patience and learning on my part is accommodating all the allergies and food sensitivities.  There are children with type 1 diabetes, Celiacs, egg allergies, dairy allergies, berry allergies, etc.  There is really no room for trial and error.

My plan is to post the pictures of my successes and failures and the in-betweens, as well as the recipes.  You know what they say about the best laid plans, so be kind if I am too overwhelmed the first couple weeks!

I will probably also start to post some more food/restaurant/eatery reviews.  I have a few on Yelp that I am going to copy over here.