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Posts Tagged ‘Mrs. BurgerDogBoy’

On Being Diabetic and Eating This Kind of Stuff

I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes about 2 years ago. Decades of not paying attention, being overweight, not exercising.  I can still enjoy all these foods I write about, but in moderation, which should have been the case from the get go.  I guess I was absent that day in health class.

I’ve made good progress in getting it under control, tho, or I should say, we’ve made good progress, for combating any disease requires (usually) a strong advocate/partner, and Mrs. Burgerdogboy has been there for me on this one, helped me modify my habits, gotten me to eat a lot more fruit and vegetables, dutifully peeled oranges, sliced celery and carrots, mastered baking with sugar substitutes, kept me stocked with sugar free jello, and searched out some sugar free candies and such for my snacking.

It’s tougher to maintain the straight and narrow on the road, but I just think of her looking at me, telling me she wants me to live a good long life, and I snap back into line.

I owe her a debt for this, that I can never repay.  I hope she knows that.

Home Cookin’ – Trader Joe’s Frozen Croissants

There once was a young man who took a chance
On living with a philandering woman in France.
He’d say “oh this could be so neat,
“Look at all the things there are to eat,
But dammit, woman, keep on your pants!”

She didn’t care for my suggestion, and eventually I took off. Isn’t it funny how sometimes we are convinced if we just love someone enough, that alone will help the other person stop unhealthy behavior?

In any case, France, and Paris, in particular, are awfully fine places to find bakery products. In our apartment in the 10th, we had any number of fresh bakeries nearby, and often early in the morn’, our courthouse would act like a bakery’s chimney, and the pleasant wafts of freshly baked baguettes or pains de chocolate, would rise into the courtyard, float delicately through our bedroom or kitchen window, and beckon me and my horrible French to the street below.

Thank god I had fingers to point with!

I have never missed much about Paris or that woman, but I have missed croissants, and it’s a product Americans have yet to figure out, who to make and bake well.

But leave it to Trader Joe’s to find a supplier of a product that lives up to both THEIR and my own standards!  Their line of frozen croissants (regular, mini, and chocolate) are absolutely superb, and it’s hard to find a disparaging word about any of them online.

Some people might find these to be “too much work”, because you have to remember to leave them out overnight to proof. But it’s worth it, certainly. In the morning, the virginal white rolls have thawed, shaped, and are ready for a few minutes in the oven to turn them into the most reasonable facsimile of a Parisian baker’s effort.

They truly are excellent. As a treat for Mrs. BDB, I sliced a couple lengthwise before baking, and stuffed them with Belgian chocolate. ( It was a big week at the BurgerDogBoy household for Trader Joe’s heat & eat! )

Eating  these croissants right from the oven, these suckers will delight your family or guests, and especially the chillun’.

Bake on!

Trader Joe's Mini Croissants

Trader Joe's Mini Croissants

Trader Joe's Mini Croissants

Trader Joe's Mini Croissants

Home Cookin’ – Trader Joe’s Shepherd’s Pie

Ok, it wasn’t “cooking”, but rather,”heating.”   We picked up a frozen Shepherd’s Pie at Trader Joe’s last week, and Mrs. BurgerDogBoy had a hankering for it last night.  It seemed like the perfect comfort food choice for a snowy night in Portland.

Having lived in London, I’ve consumed my share of shepherd’s pie, good, bad, and indifferent.

According to Wikipedia, the shepherd’s pie first came to light in the late 1700s, but known then as “cottage pie,” and was basically any leftover meat baked in a dish lined and covered with mashed potatoes.  The first reference to the name “Shepherd’s” seems to have occurred about 100 years later, as a distinction from “cottage” containing any type of meat, but “Shepherd’s” being made with lamb.

The classic recipe calls for a layer of mixed vegetables in a casserole dish, topped with meat, and covered with the mash.  The dish is baked first, then set under the broiler to crisp up the potatoes.  On occasion, a pan gravy is mixed in with the vegetables and meat.

Trader Joe’s version is described on the box as “seasoned beef with gravy and vegetables, topped with creamy mashed potatoes.”   It can be heated in the microwave for 8-10 minutes, or conventional oven at 425 for 25-30 minutes.

I chose the latter prep method, as I usually do, but after the required time, the dish was still frozen in the middle, so I finished it in the microwave.  Taking the opposite tack might have been a better idea.

Like most eat and eat products, you should let this one rest for a few minutes after  it is pulled from the oven.

The dish was flavorful, and fairly ample for two servings with 170 calories per serving and 22 g carbs, 1.5 g saturated fat.  That’s not really that unhealthy, if you watch what else you serve it with (we had more mixed vegetables).

We both liked it, and will have it again, I am sure.  On those few occasions when I have made it from scratch at home, I have used ground beef, but using rough cuts of beef was a better idea.

I do not have a photo of the finished product, straight from the oven.  Why?  Er,ah, camera trouble?   Nah,actually, I dropped it.  It wasn’t pretty!  7 second rule applied.

It would appear from the USDA plant number of the package, this product is made for Trader Joe’s by Huxtables of Vernon, CA.

Trader Joe's Shepherd's Pie

Trader Joe's Shepherd's Pie

 

Mrs. BDB Discovers Some Tasty Potato Chips

Ordinarily, my wife wouldn’t walk across a small room for a potato chip, just doesn’t care about them one way or another.  Me, on the other hand, I was pretty used to consuming two big bags of them (Wavy or Ruffles) a week, until recently.  I’ve slacked off.   I especially like them to dip into cottage cheese.  Or crumbled on a peanut butter sandwich.  No matter.

But Mrs. BDB was at the grocery store the other day, and picked up a couple of bags of chips for me, as a treat, they were a BOGO that she couldn’t pass up.  The brand is Oregon’s own (formerly) Kettle, and they were the baked ones with sea salt.

“Once you eat one….”  could be her new motto.  She pronounces these the best chips she has ever had, outside of a restaurant.  I have to admit they are pretty damned good.  (We do have a fondness for an order of “Half and Half” (cottage fries and onion straws) at the Palm, thus the restaurant reference).

My reference to the above about a ‘formerly’ Oregon brand, five years ago Kettle was sold to a British investment company, and last year, they sold it to Diamond Foods, the California nut people.  (They also make Pop Secret microwave popcorn, it seems).

So, if you’re looking for a tasty chip with Mrs. BDB’s endorsement, check out the baked line at Kettle.

Kettle Baked Potato Chips

Kettle Baked Potato Chips


Portland, Or – Nostrana

Local Portland business Attorney, Will Du Val, and his better half, ok, 2/3, Victoria, invited us out for some holiday cheer last night, and their choice was Nostrana, the locavore-oriented Italian place on SE Morrison. It’s always been a hang-out of theirs since the early days of couple-dom (2nd anniversary coming up Jan 1, if you want to send gifts), and I quickly saw why it’s special to them.

With a menu that changes nearly nightly, Nostrana is one of those places which has taken local ingredients to ethnic dish variations, with a vengence, resulting in a wide variety of interesting offerings.

It becomes a study in juxtapositions. One notices this right off, when you enter the cavernous, high-ceiling room, which is huge and intimate at the same time. Mrs. BurgerDogBoy said the wood beams reminded her of an upside-down Noah’s ark. To me, it said “Aspen Apres Ski” motif.

An open bar, kitchen, and the wood burning ovens are the centerpieces of the room.

The menu is limited by seasonal availabilites of ingredients, and that’s not a bad thing. Rather than trying to offer the sun, moon and stars to suit every single diners’ tastes, Nostrana limits what they do, and in turn, that means what they do prepare, they do well.

Interesting starters last nite included garlic roasted cabbage, and a plate of an orange/onion salad. I favored both.

The Du Vals went for the flat iron steaks, prepared, by waitress mandate either “medium rare or rare”, and the result was a wonderfully flavorful piece of beef.

Mrs. BurgerDogBoy went for gnocchi (served only on Thursday nites), with a basil pesto ‘sauce’ that was heavy on the herbs, and light on the sauce, a nice change. Savoring each delicate potato pillow, she opted to bring a big portion of it home, surely destined for the breakfast table this morning.

And, choosing for me, Mrs. BDB ordered  a fennel sausage pizza, great cheese, great sauce, larger than I would have suspected, crispy and bubbling out of the wood-fired oven, Neapolitan style.

Undoubtedly one of the best pies Portland has to offer.

I know we’ll be back as the seasons change, to sample more of this chef wunderkind’s masterpieces. I heartily recommend reservations, as the place was jammed early in the evening. We were somehow blessed with the corner booth (no doubt due to the Du Val’s influence in this burg), which was just great, for permitting a view of the entire room and kitchen operation both.

Service? Uneven. But not so much as to dampen the entire experience.

Thanks B and V for sharing a wonderful night, and a place so special to you.

(Yes, I know, I can’t believe I didn’t shoot the pic before taking a slice, either!  But it looked sooooooooooo good!)

Nostrana, Portland

Nostrana, Portland

Nostrana on Urbanspoon

Portland, OR – Cara Amico / Delivered Dish

cara amico portland

cara amico portland

Rang up (ok, logged on) to Delivered Dish tonight for a change of pace.  We use them quite often, really, I’ve never had a bad experience with them.  They’ve always showed up on time, and the delivery people are pretty courteous.   Delivery fees are apparently set by the individual restaurants and can range for a couple bux to ten.  There is usually a minimum $ amount food order as well.  Tonight’s occasion was that Mrs. BurgerDogBoy is out making the bacon, as she has been known to do, so that means it’s burger or pizza night (or both) for me!

I’ve never been into Cara Amico, even tho it’s older than dirt, as far as Portland restaurants go (1949).   That’s even older than BurgerDogBoy!

But we had ordered a couple of  delivered dinners from them before (also thru Delivered Dish) and I recalled once I had them include a small pie, merely as an afterthought.    I seem to recall it was pretty good.

And since my local Dominos bit the big one (two owners in a row!), and  Apu, over at 7-Eleven, hasn’t gotten around to putting in the new whiz bang Turbo oven to crank out the 7-Eleven two minute pizzas yet, I have to scrounge around for delivered pies.

So I ordered the large pie (at 18 inches, larger than most pizzeria larges), with three toppings, Italian Sausage, Pepperoni, and extra cheese.  Cara Amico offers you a choice of several different sauces as well, but one type of crust only, a thin baby (fine with me).

My email order confirmation said my pie would be delivered at (approximately) 6:37pm, and it is now 6:17.   Tick…..tick…..tick….

So they pulled in the driveway at  6:39, but only because he cruised by twice, couldn’t see the house number, I guess.  We concluded our transaction quickly, and I zipped up to the kitchen to pop open the box and examine my prize.

It’s not 18″, it’s 15″ x 13″ of rectangular goodness.   That’s 195 square inches.   (18″ round would have added another 25% of noshing surface, if you’re wondering).  The crust is “New York thin”, which is fine for me tonight. Crispy at the rim, chewy working inland.  Strong enough to hold the toppings, and no hang or slippage at all.  Nice.  I am surprised at how much this pizza weighs!  It’s a heavy sucker! (No, we don’t have any scales in this house, what are you, nuts?)

The irregular shape of the pie tells me it is definitely hand-formed.  There’s a slight char in spots, which is fine as well.  The bulk sausage is crumbly, also fine with me, I like it small, I like it big, as long as it wasn’t formed in a machine.  There’s ample quantities of the sausage (in fact the pie is wall to wall with it) as well as the pepperoni, which is mild.

Real damned cheese, too. The red sauce is mild, there’s some fresh garlic somewhere.   (Tell them if you don’t want it, or tell them you don’t want it and to put the extra on my next order!)

It’s big, it’s beautiful, and it’s filling! Eating as I am typing this, I have come to the realization I won’t be able to finish 3 slices.  Wow. But baby, that means ‘za for breakfast!  YAY!

(Postscript)  Mrs BDB came home from her event and enjoyed a couple of slices, a rare event for her – she liked the heavy garlic and mild sauce.  As for me? I can report positively on my usual “morning after test.”   A night on the kitchen counter doesn’t diminish the quality or taste of this pie.  Yummy brekky!

Pic of pie is mine. Pic of exterior is from their website.

 

Cara Amico Pizza Portland

Cara Amico Pizza Portland

Cara Amico Pizza Portland

Cara Amico Pizza Portland

 

Caro Amico Italian Cafe on Urbanspoon


Portland, Or – Dragonfish Asian Cafe

 
 
 

Seafood Hot Pot at Dragonfish

Seafood Hot Pot at Dragonfish

Located on the ground floor of theParamount Hotel, across the street from Director’s Park in downtown Portland, Dragonfish is a mash-up of the cuisines of various Asian countries, and sushi, with a sprinkle of American fusion added.

I’ve been here several times, even tho I am not a big sushi fan, it’s been a preferred location for numerous business lunches over the past year.

While I always thought it was “nice”, it really didn’t float my boat as a preferred dining destination for me.

But last nite, after viewing a couple hours of the best British television commercials at the Portland Museum of Art, Mrs. BDB and I walked down the park blocks searching out some grub. You can rarely imagine a boy so torn as we got down the block, Dragonfish on one side of us,Violetta on the other (and I wouldn’t mind seeing if that latter had improved since my last visit).

But always eager to bring a smile to Mrs. BDB’s face, I steered in to Dragonfish, because a) she loves sushi, and b) she hadn’t been there, and c) she said she was buying.

Dragonfish has a half dozen full entrees as well as some seasonal ones; the sushi focus is on mash-up rolls, but sashimi (the fish/seafood only) or sushi nigiri (the hand-formed rice topped with seafood that Americans are so familiar with) are available as well. Frequent robo-sushi type diners might be confused by Dragonfish’s menu, which does a poor job of explaining the options. Fear not, tho, the servers are usually well-versed.

Mrs. BDB started with a poke, the Hawaiian version of ceviche. Poke (pou-KAY) means “sliced or cut” in Hawaiian. The “Spicy Poke”, her selection at $8, was tuna, toasted garlic, sweet chile sauce, rice vinegar, seaweed and ginger. It came with small dices of the tuna, in a savory sauce, with fan-tailed pieces of pappadum (a ‘spicy’ fried Indian cracker for cradling.

I started with steamed dumplings (of course), a Thai peanut chicken concoction, packed tight with premium white meat. I enjoyed them very much.

For an entree, Mrs. BDB went with a roll, and some of her favorite nigiri. I opted for a most interesting melange/fusion/mashup of Chinese influenced seafood hot pot, in a broth that was straight out of Louisiana gumbo cookbook, with the addition of cilantro for a SE Asian influence.

Lots of squid in that puppy.The broth was very tasty.

We passed on dessert in favor of an espresso and Earl Gray under the stars (and rain) outdoors at Violetta.

If you absolutely love sushi, you’ll love Dragonfish. If you’re not familiar with sushi, this is the place to get your feet wet. Some online reviewers say it is spendy, but I don’t think so. Our dinner, with a small bottle of saki and a beer, was less than $50.

BTW, just for the record, I am writing this whilst eating a 7-Eleven Italian Baguette, which I have previously opined about.  Apu, at my local 7-Eleven, says it is one of their best sellers.

Dragonfish dinner menu.  

Assorted Sushi at Dragonfish Portland

Assorted Sushi at Dragonfish Portland

Dragonfish Asian Cafe on Urbanspoon

Assorted Sushi at Dragonfish Portland

Assorted Sushi at Dragonfish Portland

Portland, OR – Spice of Africa Cooking Class

Spice of Africa Cooking Class, Portland, Oregon

Spice of Africa Cooking Class, Portland, Oregon

Mrs. BurgerDogBoy treated me (us) to a cooking class in Portland, recently, held at Whole Foods – Fremont, conducted by local cultural ambassadors, Spice of Africa.  This was a birthday present for me, and what a grand idea it was.  We had pre-selected Kenyan cuisine (one could also choose the foods of Cameroon or Nigeria), and the class was held from 5-8p on a Saturday night, with an intimate audience of about a dozen participants..

Our lead instructor, Wambui Machua, and her trusty Kenyan flat-bread expert, “Edward”, led us through a background of growing up in Kenya, and the foodstuffs of daily life there.

Spice of Africa Cooking Class, Portland, Oregon

Spice of Africa Cooking Class, Portland, Oregon

We took a hands-on approach to making the traditional wheat flat-bread, rolling, kneading, and marking with a B, producing fancy-pants swirls of dough, before Edward told us he was only teasing, and we smashed them back down into circular thin shapes to be pan-fried.   Next came prepping and sauteing collard greens, with onion, a little garlic powder, and tomatoes.  These simmered on the stove while we worked on a traditional corn bread, basically corn flour stirred into boiling water, until it absorbs, bakes in a pot, and comes out a spongy meal loaf.

(Editor’s side note:  Nobody, but nobody, makes better collard greens than Mrs. BurgerDogBoy.  She always makes a huge batch and we freeze several portions for ‘later.’   Think I’ll have some for Sunday breakfast!)

The main course was a ground beef (YES!) casserole with mixed vegetables and Africa spices.  As Kenya is on the east coast of Africa, its cuisine was influenced by both travelers from nearby India, and from Portuguese explorers back in the day.  It’s an interesting combination.

We had a great time in this class, and have been meaning to do cooking classes together for some time.   Can’t wait for the next one!

Spice of Africa Cooking Class

Spice of Africa Cooking Class

Portland, OR – Golden Horse Seafood

 

Seafood Dumpling Noodle Soup

Seafood Dumpling Noodle Soup

What? BurgerDogBoy writing about Chinese food? You bet.  A secret you don’t know – I lived in China for 8 years, loved every moment of it, and even managed to find a burger or two of unknown origin there from time to time, which I shared with my trusty sidekick, Chinese pop superstar Kayoumin.

Portland’s largest minority population is Asian, I suspect, so once and awhile you should be able to scrounge up some fairly authentic cuisine, not that Americanized pablum you get at most places.

We regularly go to House of Louie for dim sum, which is fairly authentic, if you know what to ask for, but even then, sometimes you have to order directly, rather than select from the rolling trolleys.

Often when I finish a business lunch at Louie’s, I  will wander down the block to the Golden Horse Seafood Restaurant  (yeah, I have no clue either about the name), and get an order of Peking Duck to take home for Mrs. BurgerDogBoy, and if I am feeling especially generous with myself, some pepper/salt shrimp avec heads, for moi.

Garishly lit, with uneven service, the Golden Horse is my choice for authentic Cantonese (Southern China and Hong Kong) food.  It’s here you can savor delicacies like geoduck, hot pot, chicken feet, and some pretty authentic Chinese vegetable/arian dishes.

While we usually get Chinese take out from our neighborhood staple, Happy Fortune.  His food is ok, and he’s a really nice guy who has been around the hood a really long time.  And we like to support the locals.  He has considerably Americanized the food to suit the local taste.  But he’ll make ya something special if you ask.

But tonight was a special occasion (it’s Sunday) and I pushed Mrs. BDB out the door to hit the Golden Horse, mostly because I like spinning lazy susans til they are out of control, and they bottles of condiments launch across the room.  OK, in my fantasy brain, anyway.

It did not disappoint this old China Hand.   While most of my favorite Chinese vegetables (yes, I eat vegetables) (OK, but not until this year) are not available in the US, the Horse offers some fairly reasonable facsimiles.

We over-ordered.  No surprise there.  Mrs. BDB was in the mood for soup, to compliment her previous night’s repast of copious amounts of diffused juniper berries.   She chose the seafood dumpling noodle soup, which was really excellent.

I went with the spinach and garlic (excellent), crispy tofu (surprise, folks!),  and one of their “ceramic pots” – a combination of scallops, shrimp, squid, tofu and a few other assorted vegetables.

The Golden Horse Seafood restaurant is about as close as you can come in Portland to eating in a working man’s restaurant in Guangzhou (Canton), complete with the specials board in Chinese, that we ‘furriners’ don’t get to order from, a completely disinterested wait staff, and often, large Chinese families sharing dishes on the lazy susan, and bickering about one issue or another.

It’s a definite happy place for me.  Takes me back to a far more pleasant (and climatically warmer!) place in my life.

Combination Seafood Ceramic Pot

Combination Seafood Ceramic Pot

 

Golden Horse Seafood on Urbanspoon

Portland, OR – Lotus Card Room

Lotus Card Room and Cafe, Portland

Lotus Card Room and Cafe, Portland

I have written a more extensive review of the Lotus Card Room previously,  this post is just an update on a couple more items from their happy hour menu.  Mrs. BDB and I were in Pioneer Courthouse Square (Portland’s Living Room!) for the 26th annual giant Christmas Tree lighting ceremony, on black Friday.

Generally, the fete went off without a hitch, and a totally packed square and the surrounding streets enjoyed Christmas music from a variety of acts, including Portland’s own “Pink Martini,” (their first Christmas album available online and everywhere now) and brief addresses from politicians and local hoo-haws in general.

After the event, we walked the streets for a bit, decided to have a drink or something, and walked into the Lotus Card Room on 3rd.  While joints nearer the Square were backed, the Lotus was just far enough away as to not get the crowd.  As is her habit, Mrs. BDB ordered a gin martini with vermouth and olives, and I splurged for a Stella on tap.   (In case you are  a new reader, ‘splurge’ doesn’t mean $ for me, but rather food and caloric choices.

From the appetizer menu, we went with coconut shrimp atop Asian slaw, and a basket of bar fries.    Our server was very genial, and we enjoyed the efforts of her labor.

The four large shrimp in the appy came in a bath of sweetened Thai Chili sauce, with a small portion of the slaw beneath a similarly-sized small portion of onion strings.   The fries, rather pedestrian,  hot and salty (I would have preferred them at a more mature ‘done’ stage, came with a ramekin of ranch, and I enjoyed them despite their ‘immaturity.’

Lotus is part of a local ‘entertainment’ group, and you can enjoy the same fare at any of their locations, including their newest “Thirsty Lion,” which recently opened at the out lot at Washington Square (across Greenburg from Gustav’s).

Lotus Card Room & Cafe, Portland

Lotus Card Room & Cafe, Portland



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