Tarragon Soda

Tarragon Soda

If you haven’t heard of it, try it. It smells wonderful and tastes just as delicious. I found it while wandering through a shop called Sasha’s International Market in San Antonio, Texas. The market has Eastern European food/drinks with a focus on Russian specialties (the shop will have its own post on my blog).

Tarragon is used medicinally as well cooking, and is definitely my favorite herb. When I read “tarragon” and it looked like a liquid I got so excited. The idea of tarragon soda was invented in Georgia (the country), and is very popular in Russia, and other Eastern European countries.

I personally have never seen this offered in any grocery store, though maybe I haven’t looked hard enough.

Enjoy!

Battalion – San Antonio, Italian

I just got the food to-go as I heard the music choice was not the best, and when I picked it up, I confirmed that. The interior decor inside an old fire station was definitely contemporary, but in a good way. The main color scheme was red and black, and was very well designed.

I had to wait longer than the app “Toast” said, though they explained that 20 minutes was too short of a time to prepare a 3 course meal, which I totally understood with me working in the food industry. The offered me a soda or water while I waited which made it up in my mind, and was very considerate.

The food (again with no star ratings)

Ricotta Gnocchi Amatriciana (tomato, guanciale, red onion, chiles, pecorino) $12- the gnocchi was classic sized gnocchi though there could have been a little more guanciale. Overall, great taste, and for the price, I would recommend.

Berkshire Pork Saltimbocca (charred lemon polenta, prosciutto, sage, pork jus) $24- I didn’t see the charring on the polenta, though it was delicious and the star of the night. The sage leaf was left whole and definitely could have been more incorporated though I guess they were looking for more of a decorative item. The saltimbocca was flavored well, though overcooked. I never judge a dish by the way it was cooked due to that being an error by the cook, and not the chef. Too small of portion for me to reorder. Simple pork dishes should be less.

Tiramisu (marsala-mascarpone,coffee, cocoa) $10- there are only 3 things I am truly a snob about: gnocchi, risotto, and tiramisu. Tiramisu is my absolute favorite dish in the world, when prepared right. There was too much cocoa powder and left a chalky taste, and definitely not the melt in your mouth, heaven on earth type of feeling. If you have had delicious tiramisu, you know the only thing that can come close is Kentucky Bourbon Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce (forget about ice cream).

Overall, for the ambiance alone, I would recommend trying it once, though for the food, it is worthy of the prices mostly. I wouldn’t personally recommend this Italian restaurant for any foodies, though it is a neat experience.

Haluski

Haluski

An Eastern European food typically attributed to Polish origin. It can be a vegetarian dish by not using pork, and is mostly omitted anyways. I added it for more filling. This takes about 10 minutes from starting your prep to finish. Cheap, delicious, and easy.

  • Butter
  • Onion
  • Cabbage
  • Egg noodles
  • (Optional) – pork: bacon, pancetta, kielbasa
  1. Heat a pot of water and a pan with some butter and pork if using.
  2. Chop the onion then put in pan of butter and sauté for a couple minutes
  3. Add egg noodles to water then chop your cabbage
  4. Add your cabbage and some salt and pepper to pan of onions and cook until soft
  5. Add drained egg noodles.
  6. Done

Roast Vegetables

Oil and seasonings are the main thing.

For potatoes I may do the standard mix I use: salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Then I may add Italian seasoning.

For broccoli, cauliflower, or broccolini, I just use that 4 spice mix.

For carrots I add some brown sugar and the 4 spice mix.

Whatever the vegetable; toss in olive oil, garlic oil, or your preferred oil, and season generously.

Then put on a pan with parchment paper on 375. Stir once or twice and turn pan around to cook evenly. The time varies greatly depending on the size you cut the vegetables, and the variety.

Broccolini will be done in less than 15 minutes, while carrots may take over 30.

Roasted Garlic – Garlic Oil

Garlic oil is a byproduct of roasting garlic and is commonly used in restaurants to create a more flavorful oil.

I usually buy the peeled garlic for this when I make it at home due to the large amount of garlic I used.

How-to

Fill a bread or similar sized pan halfway with peeled garlic then add olive oil until it covers it by at least 1/2 inch. The garlic that is uncovered will cook more quickly and may brown too much if left alone.

Put the pan in the oven with foil loosely on top at 350 for at least 45 minutes. You are waiting until the garlic is soft and mashable. It will be a long while before the garlic is burnt. I usually check every 10-15 minutes from here on out, though you can lightly roast the garlic until it has not really changed color, or you can wait until it is a golden brown.

Cool the pan once it is done so you can put the strained garlic oil into a container that won’t melt.

Either keep the garlic as is, or purée it and find the many useful ways such as marinating chicken or making garlic bread.

Risotto – about

Risotto is a dish with starchy rice cooked in a broth/stock. The rice used primarily are arborio, carnaroli, and vialone.

The rice is usually cooked by adding the liquid a ladle full at a time with very frequent stirring, though many are now just adding the liquid and letting be.

When starting the risotto, there is usually at least onions sautéed in butter and sometimes celery as well, then the rice is toasted, then deglazed with vermouth or wine.

The broth is then slowly added, waiting until it gets absorbed before adding more.

It is classically cooked al dente, but most restaurants in America will serve it tender.

Restaurants from different cuisines have taken on this delicious rice dish. I have seen it in Albuquerque at a Spanish (Spain) restaurant who put hatch chiles and corn it, and at a German style restaurant in Fredericksburg.

  • Fun fact of the day: Mussolini tried to get Italy to eat more risotto instead of pasta due to the country’s reliance on importing the wheat.

Himmel und Erde

Himmel und Erde

“Heaven and earth”. Mashed potatoes and apples.

  1. Peel an equal amount of apples and potatoes, then large dice the potatoes and large slice the apples.
  2. Boil gently until both are tender in salted water.
  3. Drain, mash together, then add butter, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

Forelle Müllerin

Forelle Müllerin
  • A classic trout dish, known as trout meunière.
    1. Put salt, pepper, and lemon juice on a piece of trout filet with the skin on. Let sit for a few minutes.
      Dredge in flour and pan fry.
      While frying, melt butter in another pan and brown to drizzle on top of the trout.
      Serve with lemon and any side you want.

    Faust, Part 1

    Faust, Part 1

    Faust is a German book by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, published in 1808. I am still working on my German, so I got an English copy at the library.

    The book revolves around a man selling his soul to the devil in exchange for his youth and true love. It is a very thought out book with references to the Bible and some German mythology, and is including some Shakespeare characters.

    I first heard about Faust from the 1926 movie with the same name, directed by F. W. Mornau, which is one of my top ten movies of all time. The movie revolved around the same plot as the book and was very well done as well (I will detail more and even make a post of it when I rewatch the movie.)

    As I mentioned, the book does have references that you may need to look up to clarify the significance of a character or theme, as I did. The translation I obtained is well worded and I was able to fully understand Goethe’s meaning, though I did buy a German copy on Amazon for $7.

    EBay and Thriftbooks are 2 other great options for used books.

    There is a part 2, though it is a different story, and it was actually writen by Goethe over many years later in Goethe’s life. I have not read this part.

    Overall, if you are looking to get started in foreign literature, especially German, this is a great place to start.

    Fredericksburg Home Kitchen Cook Book

    Fredericksburg Home Kitchen Cook Book

    This is a neat book with recipes from 12 other editions with the first one being from 1916 and having 500 copies. Each recipe is submitted with their name and the year it was submitted. The 13th edition was released in 1996.

    There is a decent amount of German food recipes, and the rest is good home cooking. Every recipe is simple and no one is trying to overcomplicate everything.

    I got my copy at the Pioneer Museum in Fredericksburg, though next year is the 175th anniversary so I’m sure there will be something special for that momentous occasion.