The Happy Tummy

for the love of food

Category: Uncategorized

Weekend in Downieville

Downieville is a California gold rush town about 2.5 hours North East of Sacramento. Zoom in, there are many trees. About 280 people live in Downieville, and two of them are our good friends Jim and Yvonne, and four of them are their dogs.

We ate a great deal of cheese, including Manchego with honey, cambazola with pear and something really creamy with a grape on top. I would highly recommend Ak-Mak crackers, despite their name.

Some eggs I made for breakfast. Chunks of cheddar rather than grated cheese is a little trick I have up my sleeve.

Another breakfast, eggs baked with tarragon, leeks and gruyere cheese. Fat slices of toast slathered with butter. Coffee, sausage links and bacon not pictured.

Wow, I thought I took way more pictures. I blame wine.

Pizza Night

Caroline came to visit us in Sacramento, and we decided to do a pizza night. The first: barbecue chicken with mozzarella, gorgonzola, red onion and scallions. Not unlike the barbecue chicken pizza at CPK, although I daresay ours was superior.

The chicken was grilled on our indoor barbecue, which we’d never attempted before.

The second was made after a fair amount of wine, and was therefore a tad on the sloppy side. It was ricotta, fontinella (I don’t know), mozzarella, fresh tomato slices and whole basil leaves. We went overboard with the ricotta, it’s true.

We cooked the pizzas on a pizza stone, which only cost about $12 at Cost Plus World Market. You’re welcome, Cost Plus World Market.

The dough was purchased from Famous Pizza on Freeport Blvd. in Sac. You, too, are welcome.

Halloumi and Sweet Bell Pepper Crostini

This is what we had for lunch the other day, with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil to top everything off.

You might recall that I greatly, and perhaps inappropriately, enjoy Halloumi, a salty and firm Cypriot cheese that gets crusty and melty on the stove or grill. Pair that with sauteed sweet red bell pepper and tangy vinegar for a nice little lunchtime lunch.

A few capers on top would have been perfection. I did not have any. Capers.

The Roast of This Pumpkin

This is my last pumpkin. It was sitting – forlornly, annoyingly, loserishly – on my doorstep and I finally decided to do something about it.

I had to fight to split the thing and in the end I tore it apart, UFC style. And now I have a huge bowl full of pumpkin meat. And now everyone I know will be getting at least one loaf of pumpkin bread. And they had better like it.

Important and Famous

Some kind soul was giving my blog a few pageviews and asked me to do a brief review about Casa Gourmet Burrito, which I had written about here. Check it out at The Food and Wine Hedonist’s website.

I probably could have said something more poignant in the mini-review section though. Durr, they are gourmet-style burritos…it’s in the name of the GD restaurant.

The point is, someone asked for my opinion. This is how people get their start…just like the Pioneer Woman. JUST like her.

(See blog roll below if you don’t know who the Pioneer Woman is. And watch more TV.)

Ramen Love

Another fairly entertaining food read from the Atlantic, which is ostensibly about Lucky Peach, the new food mag from Momofuku‘s David Chang, but is more actually about ramen noodles, which, when done fancily, look like this:

This looks pretty good, but I also like the Maruchan beef flavor.  The noodles must be overcooked so they’re slightly transparent, then dumped into a bowl with the flavor packet powder, stirred around for a bit, then topped off with about a third of a cup of the cooking liquid.  Then I eat them Italian style, wrapping the noods around the tines of a fork while being cupped by a spoon.

By the way, I found this photo on a Turkish-language forum dedicated to Japanese culture. It was confusing.

Everything is Pretty

It’s such a beautiful day, especially compared to the wet gloom that was yesterday.  The house is in good shape, the dogs are happy, and it’s time for a walk in the Shanghai sun.

Gonna grab some lunch too.  Ooooooodelally!

I Call this the Chinese Shwarma

Layers of pork (and pork fat) roasting forever on a spinning stick sounds like something you’d find in Middle Eastern cuisine, but the Chinese have their own version.  They’re not the most common staple of street food here, but luckily I have a stand up the street from me where a guy with a knife thinly slices the meat from the roasting spit, stirs it up with some julienned cucumber, sesame oil and a little bit of 辣 for heat.  This filling is stuffed into a steamed pocket of bread, and it is sooooo good.

It’s kind of also the closest thing the local cuisine has to a sandwich.

Homemade Popcorn

My dad would always make popcorn from scratch on the stove using Orville Redenbacher popcorn kernels.  None of my friends’ parents did that – they used a microwave bag or a full on machine – so I thought it was weird and maybe poor that we were making popcorn like the Amish.

Dad cooked the kernels in a bit of vegetable oil in our big soup pot over medium heat.  As the kernels buzzed, crackled and finally exploded, he would intermittently give the pot a quick two-handed shake, keeping the lid firmly in place, to make sure the popcorn didn’t  stay too long on one side and burn.  When it was done, it was drizzled with just-barely-melted butter, and finished it off with a generous sprinkling of salt. 

So anyways, now I am into making popcorn from scratch.  It gives you better control over your ingredients than the microwave kind, and is WAY easier to clean up after than a machine.  Not to mention it’s cheaper than both methods.  Here in Shanghai I buy dried kernels at my local Jiadeli – about 20RMB for two quarter pound bags.

I like flavoring popcorn with parmesan cheese (the super-finely-grated kind – even a Microplane doesn’t work so well here), cinnamon and a touch of sugar, or herbed butter with a hint of garlic.  Truffle butter on top would also be delicious.  The version here is just salted.

SUCH an addictive snack.

  • You’ll know when your popcorn is ready when a full 3 seconds elapses between individual pops
  • Make sure the pot you’re using has been thoroughly dried – excess moisture in the vessel will screw things up
  • Throw the salt into the pot while the oil is heating up for perfectly even sodium distribution

A Smattering of Danish Food

My mom and dad are both of Danish descent, so my first language was Danish, and I spent my childhood summers visiting my family in the viking town of Roskilde.  Some of my best ever memories were formed as a kid on those trips, and a large portion of those focus heavily on food.  Summer foods, like soft-serve ice cream with coarse chocolate flakes, or perfectly grilled hotdogs from street kiosks, crispy, salty french fries with remoulade dipping sauce.  Breakfast foods, like a soft boiled egg eaten with a teaspoon and some salt, a slice of fresh bread from the bageri spread with Gamle Ole cheese and homemade strawberry preserves, and yes, danishes (but not the kind you’re thinking of).  Family lunches in Denmark are always seated around a large patio table in a green backyard (weather permitting) with a smorgasbord of coldcuts, pickled things, a variety of herring, cold eggs and potatoes, freshwater shrimp, raw veggies and baskets of pumpernickel and French bread for creating open-faced sandwiches which are eaten with a fork and knife and plenty of dollops of mayonaise.  And for dinner, meat and potatoes a thousand different ways, followed for dessert by strawberries splashed with sugar and cream.

Of course, Danish food is best when served in Denmark.  Because it’s not just the flavors, smells and textures of the cuisine itself.  It’s cobblestone streets, outdoor cafes, ancient cathedral spires, Tivoli’s twinkling lights, blustery fjords, rolling wheat plains, thatch-roofed summer homes, bike rides, harbor trips and my family.  Despite the geographical distance, though, it is possible to make some excellent Danish dishes outside of Denmark.  My mom, who moved to the U.S. when she was 18 years old and ended up staying, is a fantastic home cook, having learned from her mother, and always cooks vast Danish feasts even on an average Tuesday night.  My family also shops regularly at Nordic House in Oakland, California for impossible-to-find ingredients like cheeses, salty licorice, meats and sassy licence plate signs that say things like, “Uf, da!” and “Caution: Danish Driver.”  You can also find these in mug and apron variety.