Miss Fats and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Meal

A very sad thing occurred on Friday.

Miss Fats went to Xoco and got froyo afterwards, at Froyo.
Oh no? What could possibly be wrong with such a delicious combination? Well, one half of Miss Fats (M) got a fairly mediocre bowl of pozole, but followed it up with a tasty bowl of fro’ed yo.

The other half of Miss Fats (J) SPENT THE NEXT THREE DAYS PUKING. Miss Fats shares everything – so the culprit has been narrowed down to a lousy TWO shrimp that were swimming in the seafood caldo, or some poisoned passion fruit boba. There will be no photo of this meal because J already got to look at it again. And again. And again. And then was forced to eat nothing but freaking Saltines, applesauce, and Gatorade; and now is coming down from a three day high fructose corn syrup high.

Just a heads up, Chicago: WATCH OUT. SOMETHING IS ROTTEN IN THE STATE OF XOCO. Which is so, so, SO sad. Because Miss Fats loves that ahogada.

 

 

Advertisements

just accept the jelly

IMG_5740

Never in a million years would Miss Fats think she’d be ok with jelly dessert.  Asian jelly desserts have been a long time problem for her.  Since she was little, the excess of bean and jelly in Asian sweets has created haunting nightmares: you know, the kind where all you want is an excessive amount of chocolate and all you get are wiggly “puddings” stuffed with canned fruit.  Terrifying.  As you all know, Miss Fats has an insane sweet tooth and has gotten used to a certain-standard-of-living that involves a sweet treat post meal.  Always.  It’s damn reflex.

Since she’s been professionally nomming in Singapore and Malaysia, the sweet treat reflex is constantly out of control.  Food here is often super savory and demands a little sugar to clean up the crazy spicy/savory/umami/sweet flavor mouth party.  Typically that means Miss Fats and T will pick up a cold piece of fruit, served up on the roadside, beautifully laid out in an ice-filled case and individually packaged in little bags.  However, sometimes a particularly hot night or especially rich dish demands proper dessert.  At the beginning of her travels, Miss Fats’ taste buds were still in chocolate town, which was problematic in a world of coconut and fruit.  Not to mention chocolate costs a pretty penny in Singapore, and stores seemed to only carry US and British brands like Nestle and Cadbury (and that shit ain’t cheap).  Not to mention, if you buy chocolate in Southeast Asia it basically melts instantly.  That’s recipe for messy purse bottom (believe Miss Fats: she’s made that mistake more times than she’d like to admit).

not that into it

Unfortunately this meant that Miss Fats made some pretty critical dessert mistakes in the first week.  Her brain and stomach were still craving the buttery, bready, cakey confections of the U.S.  Nothing sounded better than a cookie, a big ‘ol scoop of chocolate ice cream in a waffle cone, or flaky Danish.  So, if she’d see some sort of “puff” or cake that resembled her favorite baked goods, she’d snatch one up immediately.  Never a wise choice.  None of them were that good.  Not to mention they were often significantly more expensive than the local delights.  Most of her cake, pasty and ice cream endeavors resulted in massive disappointment and waste.  She’d take a bite into a dense croissant, flavorless gelato or spongy cake and throw that shit away.  The reality is that here real butter is damn expensive, so most baked items are in fact made with margarine, producing the fluffy sponge cakes with whipped topping filling and fruit that I’m sure most readers have tried at some point.  These Asian cakes have haunted Miss Fats’ family birthday parties for years.  She just never understood why there wasn’t a damn chocolate ganache ice cream cake.  Miss Fats cannot stand these synthetic oil cakes.  They leave a slippery trail of transfat on the roof of her mouth. Not acceptable.  So, after shelling out S$4 for a flat and oily chocolate almond croissant, Miss Fats made a resolution: she would only eat local dessert specialties.  No matter how good something looked.

IMG_5243

So how does one satisfy a sweet tooth here?  The answer is weird jelly, fruit, sweetened condensed milk and ice.  Most drinks either come standard with some sort of jelly business or condensed milk and they give you real weird looks if you ask for either to be omitted.  She can’t even tell you how many times her “black coffee” has been served up with creamy sweet milk.  Now you’re probably thinking: why not just skip the drink?  Certainly not that big of a deal, right?  Well you just try walking around the sticky streets of Singapore all day and not indulge in the magical drink cart.  These little metal pushcarts just taunt you with their colorful vats of cold cold drink, ladled into plastic baggies (preferred to-go cup) and served up roadside.  Miss Fats dares you to resist that when you’re drenched in sweat and sitting over a hot and spicy bowl of laksa.

At first this problem resulted in Miss Fats ordering drinks, filling her mouth with sweet creamy jelly business, making a face, and handing it over to T.  She was just not into those chunks of tapioca or grass jelly worms swirling around in her mouth.  She just doesn’t believe in chewing one’s drink.  And she’s still a pretty firm believer.  Though the heat has taught her that a cold cube of grass jelly can be a good little temperature break for your mouth in a pinch.  So why the foray into jelly drink versus dessert?  She wanted to contextualize the omnipresence of jelly that exists here, and just how damn tempting the sparkling gelatinous cubes of gelled seaweed and grass can be.  No matter how disgusting you find jelly, the stuff is everywhere and the oppressive heat can breakdown even the most reluctant travelers.

The fact that jelly is always around, taunting her, is what has created a major breakthrough in Miss Fats’ dessert palate.  She’d like to introduce you all to one of the strangest desserts out there: Ais Kacang.

IMG_4718

The name and combination of ingredients varies from place to place: ABC special is probably the most common.  This towering pile of ice starts with a base of jellies: grass cubes, green wormy-looking ones, clear, bright pink little chunks.  Then comes a freshly shaved pile of ice, topped with super-sweet, synthetic strawberry syrup, brown rice syrup, sweetened condensed milk, red beans and canned creamed corn.  Yep.  You read right.  And, if you’re real special, you’ll get a big scoop of cheap imitation vanilla ice cream.  Sounds pretty gross, right?  Yeah, that’s what Miss Fats thought too when she was served up this incredibly weird frozen treat on her first day in Singapore.

As Miss Fats and T sat in the sweaty seats of East Coast Lagoon Food Centre, after stuffing their faces with duck, satay and noodle as they could, they noticed everyone around them had a crazy looking dessert.  Ais Kacang.  It looks just as crazy as it sounds.  Therefore it had to be ordered.  Soaked in sweat, T and Miss Fats were so excited for their cold treat, completely unaware of what exactly went into this thing.  Each scoop unearthed a new ingredient: hmmm jelly; oh weird, bean; ummm, corn?  They found it real weird.  They agreed upon the assessment: “not bad. Just not sure I’m into it.”  The corn had set them a little over.  So Ais Kacang ended up on the back burner for a bit, having been ticked off the “to do list” of food items.  They felt they had bigger and badder things to eat (true, but at the same time naive).

IMG_4728

It should also be clarified that T absolutely does not share Miss Fats’ distaste for jelly.  In fact she loves all things jelly, coconut and tropical.  Perhaps the ultimate concoction being the coconut that is jellified and served up ice cold with a straw and spoon.  So Miss Fats has now had ample opportunity to try a number of jelly drink items via T’s wiggly obsession.  A turning point occurred when T ordered up a milky matcha green tea one day, filled with a soft grass jelly to be broken up and slurped through you straw.  “Actually, not that bad” was Miss Fats reaction, surprising T and herself.  Somehow, this drink’s not-too-sweet tea and springy black jelly business were the perfect combo in that moment: a slippery mouth delight of fun and flavorful textures.

IMG_5425

It wasn’t until Melaka, however that Miss Fats finally dove into the jelly dessert on her own.  Seeing hope after the grass jelly situation, she ordered up a strawberry ice one night following all-out binge fest on peanut sauce satay (more to come).  Full of fish cake, Miss Fats hesitantly ordered the safest looking item on their menu: what looked like a delightful pile of ice topped with syrup and fresh cut strawberries.  Little did she know the jelly that lurked beneath.  Diving into her ice mountain, she unearthed the kaleidoscope of wiggly bits at the bottom: clear chunks, springy tapioca, and delightful boba balls that popped like fish roe when you bit into them: a surprisingly fun array of treats for mouth playtime.   It was like unearthing a colorful and strange nest of jelly monsters for you to destroy with your face hole.

photo (25)

After this life changing experience (literally.  You have no idea how much Miss Fats complains about jelly and bean.  Just ask T.), she was down on jelly desserts.  The heat and humidity in Asia has required Miss Fats to throw out her very short and flexible list standards (mostly related to sticky skin and hygiene), so out went jelly problems and in came the embrace of all things cold.  The climax of the weird ice jelly dessert came on the second day in Penang.  In a city without much public transportation and a heck of a lot of scooter traffic, Miss Fats and T found themselves walking all over the city, nomming on whatever street food took their fancy.  They had just indulged in the most incredible Nasi Kandar (Malay buffet-like eatery found all over every city) at Line Clear where they had stuffed their faces with mutton, biryani, okra, chicken, etc in an alley way filled with hot burners and hungry cats.  Having had their fill of savory, sweet was obviously required.  So they walked their way to the park located at the northeastern tip of Georgetown.  There, one can find Esplanade Food Centre that houses some of the best food in town.  Looking around, they saw almost everyone with an icy treat from this one stand.  They marched on up and ordered the ABC special, taking a spot at a table facing the water.  The mountain of ice and ice cream came served up looking all crazy as usual.  This variation boasted the usual array of jellies, with the addition of some white bean action, fresh bananas, and a healthy sprinkling of peanuts on top (Miss Fats cannot get over the addition of peanut to everything.  She might adopt this as her religion).  The ABC special provided layer upon layer of strange, cold delights as T and Miss Fats watched the water and sun set over Georgetown.  Unreal.  She was a huge fan of the little cubes of green jelly business as they mixed with the creamy cheap ice cream and crunch toasted peanut bits.  Pure food nonsense.  She was into it.

photo (24)

With only about ten days left in Asia, Miss Fats is already missing her bizarre ice desserts and sorely regretting not indulging in them daily from the beginning.  She knows this shit is stuff you cannot really get stateside, and certainly not in the heart of Chicago.  However, today, with the beach stretched out in front of her, and Taiwan just hours away, she’s sure she can make up for lost time.

vanilla toffee swirl and peanut butter cookie ice cream

IMG_3824

Crack alert. Miss Fats does not like to brag about recipes.  She’s all about praising and reviewing other’s work, but she hopes description does more of the work than pure judgement.  But this ice cream demands a string of subjective adjectives that culminate in a child-like pool of giddy word nonsense: it’s-like-a-spontaneous-party-in-my-mouth-that-all-my-favorite-people-came-to-and-then-a-magician-showed-up-and-performed-tricks.  See: what does that even mean when you’re talking about ice cream?   Miss Fats is not even sure she’s talking about ice cream anymore: more like dream cream. And that’s what this treat is: the salty, sweet, crunchy, creamy stuff of dreams manifest in a frozen bite.

Following some semi-disappointing work with egg whites (more on that later), Miss Fats found herself with twelve egg yolks that demanded a custard of some sort.  Chicago has been disgusting the last couple of days (nothing in her life is dry any more) and some sweet cold ice cream seemed like the perfect remedy.  Since she’s moving in a month, Miss Fats has been determined to work through some of her freezer treasures.  So the first thing she did was unearth the unopened box of Girl Scout Do-si-Dos: how and why this managed to survive the last months is beyond Miss Fats.  She fears she may have actually had stroke at some point that caused her to forget she had cookie crack in her freezer that prevented consumption.  Anyway, lucky stroke cookies were all set for some ice cream lovin’.  She figured there should be some swirly, salty action, so she opted for a caramel-y toffee sauce that could stand up to the peanut butter goodness of the cookies and cut through the sweet creamy vanilla.

IMG_3822Now Miss Fats is no expert on ice cream making.  She was given her ice cream maker a couple of years ago but it unfortunately hasn’t gotten much use .  There’s all that freezing/sugar/temperature science-y business that’s just bamboozling.  Why can’t ice cream just be perfectly creamy and light every time you throw it in the magical spinning machine?  Anyway, in the last month or so, her attempts at ice cream have shown a lot more success.  Riding that (irrational) high, she decided she was capable of just throwing together her own ice cream recipe.  For some reason it worked, but she’s sure this is a total fluke.  You’re likely reading Miss Fats first and last original ice cream recipe.

IMG_3823

The recipe itself is fairly simple.  It starts with a basic vanilla custard base.  Following a good churn in your ice cream maker, you throw down that sauce and a heaping pile of crumbled cookies.  The hardest part is waiting.  Stupid ice cream and it’s freezing process.

Vanilla Toffee Swirl and Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream:
makes 1 quart

vanilla base:
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp good vanilla
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 cups milk
6 egg yolks

toffee sauce:
2 tbs butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp salt

crushed peanut butter sandwich cookies (do-si-dos or Nutter Butters)

1. Make the vanilla base: heat the heavy cream, milk, about half of the sugar, vanilla and salt in a sauce pan.  Bring just to a boil and remove from heat.  In a small separate bowl, whisk the remaining sugar and egg yolks.  Carefully whisk in about 1/4 cup of the hot cream into the yolk mixture, stirring constantly (don’t go cookin’ those yolks).  Pour the remaining cream into the yolk/milk mixture and stir to combine.  Return the base to the sauce pan.  Over medium-low heat, cook the custard base until it’s thick.  Stir constantly heat until it coats the back of a spoon.  (Do not let it boil.)  Strain the custard and store in the fridge until it’s fully chilled (about 4 hours in the fridge or less in the freezer if you’re real lazy and impatient like Miss Fats.)

3. Skim any skin that may have formed on your custard and churn the ice cream according to your machine’s instructions.

4. While the ice cream is churning, make the toffee sauce: In a sauce pan, stir together the butter, brown sugar and half of the heavy cream.  Stir and cook over medium high heat until it caramelizes and bubbles.  Continue stirring and cooking for an additional 3 minutes as your sauce darkens.  Remove from heat and stir in remaining cream and salt until smooth.  Allow to cool for about 10 minutes.

5. Working quickly, dump your churned ice cream base into your tupperware container.  Dump the cookies and sauce over top and use a knife to quickly stir in all that goodness.  Don’t over stir: you want to ensure a nice, fat ribbon of that sauce running though it.  Store in freezer and try to be patient for at least 4 hours while it freezes through.

IMG_3826

Four painful hours later you have a quart of the most addicting ice cream ever.  Dig that spoon into a whole mess of salty-sweet swirl and go to town.  Miss Fats is pretty sure this would reach critical flavor overload level if you crumbled some chocolate covered pretzels on top.  She’s almost too afraid to do it: not sure what would happen to her brain/taste buds at that point.  All impulse control would easily be lost and she’d probably just die.  So on that note: she hopes you all go out there and test death with this one: it’s worth it.

Oscar Food, Fashion and Felines

Obviously Miss Fats had an Oscar Party.  And obviously there was an excessive amount of food and celebration.  It was a long day and night, so Miss Fats is going to Joan and Melissa Rivers this evening to you and stick to the important things: food and fashion (cats implicit).

[Disclaimer: J got really sick and totally slacked on doing her half of the work lately, so the untimeliness of this post is totally her fault. But you shouldn’t take it out on her, she’s suffered enough. She had to eat nothing but stupid soup and pudding snack packs for like, a week.]IMG_2067

This was the massive spread of food Miss Fats got to indulge in all night.  There were nine dishes total: one for each best pic nom.  Don’t worry, Miss Fats tried them all.  The savory dishes can all be credited to Miss Fats’ friend, who slaved away all day (way to not get the message of the all anti-slavery films, friend).  Since she cannot speak to the specifics of these dishes, Miss Fats is going to give you a quick photo tour of all the amazing dishes of the night.  She leaves everyone else to just be envious of how awesome her friends are.

IMG_2069

M: Here are two yummy steaming bowls of meat and spice: The “shredded tarantino” was a spicy pulled pork served on top of cheddar biscuits; “hushpuppy’s gumbo” paid homage to the south with some andouille sausage action.

photo(6)

Yummy gumbo

 

J: Can I just add that M made the cheddar biscuits and they were SHAPED LIKE HEARTS. And kind of tasted like Red Lobster biscuits. This is why I love her!

IMG_2070

M: “Manicotizone with Vodka” obviously is the tastiest prescription for depression ever.
J: This was disgusting. I hate melted cheese.

IMG_2068

M: With so many films set in the Middle East, there had to be a pita feast.
J: Little turkey (?) meatballs in a delicious white bean hummus with pita hats!

IMG_2077

M: Miss Fats’ personal favorite: “Hathaway’s Method” perfectly captured Annie’s pre-Mis diet.
J: Guys, it’s an empty plate. GET IT? GET IT!?

IMG_2073

M: This half of Miss Fats was on dessert duty for the evening.  Her first addition was a Life of Pie, which was a simple apple pie, complete with Pi cut out.  She was horribly disappointed with her crust so, out of shame, she refuses to speak any more about this dish.
J: Shut up. I ate the leftovers for breakfast the next day and it was delicious. I’m not saying it was Bang Bang level, but IT WAS A DANG GOOD PIE.

IMG_2076

M:   “Assassination by Chocolate” was a crazy combination of chocolate cupcakes, filled with chocolate ganache, topped with whip cream and a hand-sculpted hat made of brownie and dipped in dark chocolate.  CHOCOBOMB.  Oh and please note the inappropriate use of red frosting.  Yep.  Miss Fats WENT THERE.  Note: these were completely successful: Miss Fats wanted to die afterwards.

photo(5)
J: Dear Abe, Miss Fats is very sorry that you had to die in such a violent and unexpected way, but these tribute cupcakes were freaking awesome, blood spatter and all.
This was really two desserts in one. The chocolate cupcakes were full of creamy ganache and totally were enough death on their own. You had to take your hat off (haha yes, take your hat off to this cupcake because it ruled) and eat it separately, and let me just say that was CHOCOLATE INSANITY. Ughh why don’t I have one of those right now. Dense rich brownie covered in super rich chocolate.

photo(4)

She doesn’t want to brag, but Miss Fats came in first at the Oscar pool. In true Miss Fats form, she used the money she won to buy froyo the following day.

And now on to FASHION.

As a whole, Miss Fats found the dresses to be a serious snore this year. Way to out-do the women, dudes.  In order to make things better, Miss Fats has outfitted her best dressed with better heads in hope of recuperating some of the joy of the red carpet (which seemed to have been tragically strangled by 90’s chokers).

BEST DRESSED LADIES

sandracat

Sandra Bullock

M: First up: Bullock.  Miss Fats was into this beaded vintage-y gown.  She likes the scalloped beading because it reminds her of her excessive Downton Abbey binge sessions.  Though this is a pretty safe (and typical) move for Bullock, Miss Fats would still be into having a pretend picnic in tiaras with her any time.
J: Now that I’m looking at it again, I don’t like that you can see her knees through this. It was still a bazillion times prettier than all the other dresses. She should stop marrying d-bags and making super stupid movies though.

chastaincat

Jessica Chastain

M: Miss Fats was a big fan of this beaded number.  I mean she loves her sparkle and Chastain worked that with her damn pretty face and skin.  Not everyone can do this goldy-peachy business, but Chastain looked good.  Which Miss Fats was VERY thankful for because so far she’s been pretty hit or miss (lets not recount the Globes hair situation. She needed cat head photoshop immediately.)
J: Not really excited by this. She didn’t look as shitty as Hugh Jackman’s scary wife so she made the list.

hallecat

Halle Berry

M:  Picking a third winner was tough for Miss Fats.  They ultimately went with Berry because at least she tried something different.  Plus there were sparkles. Clearly Miss Fats is attracted to shiny objects.  Miss Fats, unlike most, enjoys a youthful dress with sleeves, and Berry’s gown managed to look covered but still fun and oscar-worthy.  She’s not so into the little strappy things up front, but the curve-emphasizing work on the sides makes up for it.
J: My vote was either for the top half of Nicole Kidman’s dress or all of Clooney’s ladyfriend’s dress, but the bottom of Kidman’s dress was weird, and Miss Fats decided you can’t make a best dressed list if your only claim to fame is that you’re shtupping the Cloons, so CONGRATS HALLE! Your dress was visually non-repulsive, you are a legitimate actress, and Miss Fats did actually like the Art Deco-ish-ness of it.

WORST DRESSED

annecat

Anne Hathaway

M: Don’t even get Miss Fats started on how DISAPPOINTED she was by Hathaway’s gown.  Unlike many, Miss Fats actually likes Annie and she typically tops the dressed list.  And frankly, Hathaway has kind of been killing it on the red carpet this season.  THEN SHE SHOWS UP IN THIS.  Why?  Why nipples? Why halter top? Why back necklace?   She does not understand why Hathaway wants to be the thirteen year old version of 90’s Paltrow.  The worst part?  Her dresses for her Les Mis performance and the Vanity Fair after party were far superior.  Easily would have won her best dressed of the night.  Bad move, Annie.
J: You really would think the heir to the throne of Genovia would have a better stylist. Miss Fats called this dress “fancy apron” all night, because, well, IT’S A FANCY APRON. Anne, did you bring some scones to the party? Were you at home all day roasting a chicken? Miss Fats couldn’t find a photo where the hideousness of this ensemble really came through, so CONSIDER YOURSELVES LUCKY.

BEST DRESSED DUDES

Daniel Day Lewis Cat

Daniel Day Lewis

M: DDL really stole the fashion show for Miss Fats.  I mean, who you do you think you are, DDL, with that navy and black suit? You cray on so many levels and Miss Fats is into it.
J: Day-Lewis be on that suit and tie shit.

christophe waltz cat

Christophe Waltz

M: Miss Fats loves this little guy.  Despite being small, Waltz always looks sharp.
J: He’s all like, lemme show you a few things. Long as he’s got his suit and tie, he gon leave it all on the floor tonight.

robert downey cat

Robery Downey Jr.

M: Black on Black.  Not many can do it. Downey can and clearly he knows it by that steady green-eyed stare.
J: Miss Fats has always said, put any dude in a tux/suit and he’s automatically 60% cuter. It’s freaking TRUE, people. This shit is hella sharp. So into it. Also have had new Justin Timberlake song stuck in my head for a month, in case you couldn’t tell.

WORST DRESSED

chancat

Channing Tatum

THIS AWARD GOES TO CHANNING TATUM, BECAUSE HE WORE CLOTHES. Sorry Chan, being dressed is just not your best look.

brunch for a crowd

Last Saturday Miss Fats put on her social chair hat (yes, that position is real) and threw a brunch for a crowd.  Her task was to feed between 20 and 30 people following a boozy department party the night before.  Since Miss Fats attended the prior night’s festivities, she wanted to keep morning cooking duties to a minimum.  BUT that doesn’t mean she wasn’t all about a spread.

IMG_2062

Clearly Miss Fats opted for the excessive cheese and meat platters.  Who doesn’t love a wide variety of cured meats and creamy cheeses?

IMG_2064Epic cheese plate. Miss Fats doesn’t really know that much about selecting cheeses, so she basically just went for one of every animal.  And since she wasn’t paying for it, obviously fancy jam had to happen.  Thanks to her brilliant friend, Miss Fats now knows the beauty of blue cheese and Bon Maman cherry preserves.

IMG_2059Yeah you know you want that salty porky goodness following a night of too much wine and department nonsense.

IMG_2055Along with some bowls of salted almonds, pineapple, grapes, cantaloupe and papaya, this end of the table featured all of Miss Fats cooking additions.  In the early morning hours she whipped up two quiche lorainnes, a batch of her patented peanut butter chocolate chip cookies (not sure the reasoning behind that menu addition), and some of that crazy delicious buttery lemon cream cheese coffee cake she told you all about last week.

IMG_2056Now there’s no way Miss Fats could have done this on her own, and she is no drink expert, so she handed bar duty off to her co-social chair who turned it out.  They had the good orange juice (no concentrate for Miss Fats), bellinis, and bloody marys (and of course a TON of coffee).

Miss Fats considers this brunch to be a big success.  Plenty of food for their large hungry crowd and even some leftovers for post party snacking.  It’s hard to say what the final budget came to (this was thrown in conjunction with the department Oscar party), but she’d say somewhere around $150-75 for everything (including alcohol!).  Miss Fats enjoyed this little get together, but can’t say she’ll be throwing any more of these big brunches any time soon:she prefers to leave brunch to the professionals.  She resembled this sleepy kitty afterwards:

Sher-A-Punjab = Share a pile of chicken!

Miss Fats is pretty sure there’s no such thing as a bad Indian dish (this is not to say that there are not poorly executed Indian dishes), but that makes it pretty hard to choose what you want when you go out for dinner. This is why she has been such a huge supporter of Indian buffet for years. Unfortunately, buffet usually equals lunch, and the best of Chicago’s Indian restaurants are way the fuck far away from Miss Fats: and as much as she’d like it, driving forty five minutes for a mid week lunch just doesn’t happen. However Miss Fats made the greatest discovery of all time last week: INDIAN DINNER BUFFET SEVEN DAYS A WEEK. Sher-a-Punjab is located on Devon, a stretch of West Rogers Park that is littered with Indian and Pakistani options. There’s so many options up there that Miss Fats has basically just been hopping about, trying one place after another. And everything has been good. Really fucking good. But Sher-a-Punjab’s dinner buffet has officially risen to the top of Miss Fats’ list.

Downside of Indian? Terrible food porn. Curry never looks that good in photo form. Therefore Miss Fats added laser cat to emphasize the tastiness, despite appearances.

Image

M: So one of the greatest cuisines in the world has to be Indian. Miss Fats does not understand how so much flavor and crazy crazy spice is able to make it into every single freaking dish. Seriously, Indian Food? You make bland LENTILS taste that goddamn good WITHOUT meat fat? Sher-a-Punjab’s buffet contained a huge assortment of meat curries and veggie dishes along with yummy yummy sides like samosas, dosas and probably a couple of other “osa” items Miss Fats shoved on her plate. Her approach to these things is to always try everything. She just throws down a scoop of every option out there on the first round. She never has any idea what she’s eating but who cares when you have toasty chewy naan scoop of steaming Indian goodness in your mouth?
J: All Miss Fats knows is she wanted some palak paneer, and that definitely happened. Let Miss Fats take you on a journey through the magical rainbow of Indian dinnner:
ORANGE GOO WITH CHUNKS.
BROWN GOO.
WHITE RICE.
DIFFERENT COLORED RICE WITH COLORED CHUNKS.
BROWN GOO WITH CHICKPEAS.
RED CHICKEN.
OTHER BROWN GOO WITH GREEN CHUNKS.
DIFFERENT, LESS CHUNKY ORANGE GOO.
GREEN GOO WITH GREEN SQUISH.
SAMOSA (these actually weren’t that great, but then Miss Fats noticed one of the 700 waiters carrying a huge bowl of super hot fresh samosas over to the buffet so she shamelessly went back and got a new one. SHAMELESS, PEOPLE. MISS FATS EATS FOR YOUR SINS. Or something.

IMG_1911

M: Miss Fats’ experience with Indian Buffet is that the naan can really be hit or miss (usually WHO CARES BECAUSE YOU GET AS MUCH AS YOU WANT). But Sher-a-punjab kindly brings you a heaping pile of FRESH, HOT naan to your table when you sit down. Chewy, bready, crispy bit naan heaven. Not to mention they were super good about making sure that naan stack was to our liking: they just wanted it to keep on coming.
J: Miss Fats probably should’ve signed a Naan-disclosure agreement about the egregious bread consumption that occurred, but what fun would that have been for y’all? It should be embarrassing, how much naan she ate… but you know Miss Fats. SHAMELESS.

IMG_1920

M: Now this is really the spectacle of Sher-a-Punjab. Along with the fresh naan, you’re brought a sizzling platter of tandoori chicken to your table. Yep. You show up: they bring the meat platter. Miss Fats is really more of a curry person, but she is never going to turn down a sizzling platter of spiced meat. This tandoori chicken was pretty good (especially when dipped into her curry mess plate), but wasn’t her favorite dish of the night. She could take it or leave it. But since she doesn’t even need to make that choice, obviously she’ll take it.
J: Hey Sher-A-Punjab, Miss Fats just met you, and you are crazy, you brought a giant pile of hot bright red chicken… she’ll eat it… maybe. Dude, seriously, this was just SILLY. Miss Fats had a bite, cause it was there, but there’s just no sane reason for this much chicken to ever appear on your table while you are trying to p0wn the shit out of a buffet. DO NOT DISTRACT MISS FATS WHEN SHE IS ON A MASALA MISSION.

IMG_1913

M: Oh second round. Yep, Miss Fats went back for more. Hey, you’ve got to pick your favorites once you’ve sampled the spread, people. Clearly she was into that brown one, that red meat one and some veggie and chickpea biznas. However this picture is deceptive and frankly exposes a HUGE mistake made on Miss Fats’ part. Perhaps she was just too hungry and her brain was off, but Miss Fats’ number one rule of Indian buffet? NO RICE. That’s right. Absolutely no rice. It just takes up belly space that could have been filled by more curry or naan. Let’s be real people: rice doesn’t really have any flavor and is just a vehicle for curry awesomeness. So skip that useless carb ride and just load up on star curries.
J: Agree to disagree. The logic here is sound, and this advice SHOULD be followed. But Miss Fats has a serious carb problem and there’s just no way she will ever be able to not put a big spoonful of rice on her plate if there is a big spoonful of rice to be had. And oh, there were big spoonfuls. And then there was big spoonful of rice pudding. Some people are addicted to drugs. Some people are addicted to gambling. Some people are addicted to reddit (which is understandable, because there is foodporn AND kittyporn there!). Miss Fats is addicted to CARBS.

IMG_1915

M: Obviously Miss Fats was uncomfortably full after that curry attack. (She blames the critical rice mistake. Amateur move!) Like that was going to stop her from getting some rice pudding though. She topped off her bursting gullet with a little sweet creamy dessert action. She wishes she could really remember what it tasted like but at this point she thought she might die. Indian buffet win.
J: Alanis Morrissette said it: “Thank you India.”

fat ginger cat ate too much rice

                          WALK AWAY FROM THE RICE, FRIENDS.

Oh man, Miss Fats forgot to mention that after tax, you will pay a grand total of $11 for this meal, so put that on your plate and eat it!

Fried and Fresh Life Advice

Miss Fats has to spend a lot of time reading.  So when she comes across some excellent life philosophy that combines her love of film and food, she has to share:
(Feel free to commence I rolling)

“we can declare that in the films of Ozu, tofu is no privileged cuisine…one of the characters in Late Autumn does declare that as he gets older, he crafes nothing so much as hijiki, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, dried diakon, and tofu–fresh and deep-fried…Ozu’s world is never one to be reduced to some simple dichotomy between everyday simplicity and the richness of ceremony.  On the table at the pub where old friends from high school or university gather, whisky and sake bottles line up next to each other, along with bottles of beer, complementing a cornucopia of mea-centered Western cuisine vegetable-centered Japanese cuisine.” -Hasumi Shigehiko, “Ozu Yasujiro”

Miss Fats feels we should all embrace this little life advice: eat all foods (see all films).  Fried and fresh.  Except for deep fried sushi. Never. Ok Miss Fats needs to go eat some sushi now. Good bye.

galentines part 1: affordable fetes from miss fats

image

image courtesy of Michelle Taylor

Happy Galentines everyone! Miss Fats is a HUGE supporter of this made-up holiday.  She doesn’t need any excuses to brunch or celebrate with girlfriends, but whatever, she’ll take it.  Since Miss Fats remains technically single this year (though obvi her better half of Miss Fats is her real valentine), Galentines is getting a double feature: february 13 AND 14.  So for all you out there looking to share galentines (or valentines) with friends, Miss Fats is sharing some ideas for budget entertaining.

This past weekend she hosted two little get togethers: a larger dinner celebration for a friend, and a valentines cookie decorating dinner party.  Since she’s in grad school, budgets are tight. However Miss Fats is obsessed with a deal.  And both of these parties were a steal.  (She hopes her excessive enthusiasm for thriftiness doesn’t cheapen the experiences for those readers out there who might have attended one of these shindigs!)  Now, none of this is Martha-style, but both parties are fun, casual ways of providing guests the opportunity to play with their food while you don’t have to do all the work.  Now put your hostess hats on and get the partay started (sorry, that just happened).

IMG_1823

Gyoza Making Party: 12 guests, 2 hours prep (3 including dessert)

Yeah, Miss Fats just wanted to give you a taste of just how epic gyoza party is.  We’re talking way too much food, satisfied guests and activities: all for about $30.  Yep. That’s right: $30. For 12 people. INCLUDING dessert.  For a party of this size it will require a bit of leg work, but this is easily scaled down depending on the number of guests.  Miss Fats is going to give you the run-down for the gyoza and sides, and for the dessert, you can head on over to Monday’s post.  So here’s how you do it:

Shopping List:

  • Round gyoza wrappers. This can be a little tricky to find, but for the most part, grocery stores (Whole Foods or fancier places) will carry them.  The ideal spot to find these, however, is an asian grocery store.  They’re dirt cheap (about $1.50) and can easily be frozen/hoarded. For 12 people, Miss Fats used 3 packages of about 40 wrappers. (FEAST)
  • 1 head of cabbage
  • 1 package of firm tofu
  • 1.5 lbs of ground pork
  • 1 large ginger root
  • 1 bunch of green onions
  • About 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tbs sesame oil
  • Ingredients for Obachan Spinach (Miss Fats quadrupled this recipe)
  • 2 cups uncooked white rice
  • Any assortment of dipping sauces you’d like. (Miss Fats likes to keep it simple: she just mixes half white vinegar and soy for her gyoza dipping sauce).

onionandginger

Prep:

Basically, get ready to spend at least an hour chopping. Miss Fats recommends turning on your favorite tunes and entering into a mental chop zone.  For lazy people out there, you can purchase things like shredded cabbage to make your live easier, though this will up the budget a bit.

Essentially all that needs to be done pre-guest arrival is chopping up and mixing together all the ingredients to make the filling.  This can even be done the day before (which Miss Fats almost prefers because it gives the yummy pork and tofu time to hang out in the flavorings).  For this past weekend’s party, Miss Fats opted to do both vegetarian and pork gyoza.  This means chopping everything up and simply dividing the ingredients between two giant mixing bowls.  Thinly chop the green onion and shred the cabbage (Miss Fats probably used about 4/5 of the large head of cabbage).  Grate in about 2 inches of fresh ginger into each bowl. Roughly chop the tofu (do not worry about this- it will look like crap) and throw all of it into one of mixing bowls).  In the other, dump in the pork.  Divide the soy, and sesame oil between the two bowls (this does not need to be exact by any means) and mix!

Filling

Store your filling in the fridge until guest arrival.  Meanwhile, make that Obachan Spinach, and about 30 minutes prior to guest arrival, begin the rice.

Spinach

Party Activities:

At your dining room table, set up your big bowls of filling, wrappers with small spoons to go around, a couple of trays or baking pans to put the gyoza on, and a few bowls of water.

Now it’s time to teach folks how to fill.  Miss Fats thinks that this blog did a much better job documenting the process, so she asks you to head over there for instructions.  While peeps are hard at work, you should set up a couple of nonstick frying pans and a steamer if you have one, on the stove. For a crowd this size, Miss Fats highly recommends as many cooking pans as possible.  It seriously speeds up the process.

To pan fry the gyoza, heat some canola or vegi oil to medium high in a nonstick pan.  Once the oil is hot, place the flat side down and allow to brown (about 1-2 minutes).  Pour about 2 tbs of water into the pan and immediately cover with a lid.  Reduce heat to medium and allow the gyoza to steam through (about 7 minutes for the pork, less for the tofu).  (Just break one of those bad boys open to make sure they’re all cooked.) Repeat this process until your giant trays of gyoza are all done! (This is exactly why Miss Fats recommends also using the steamer.  That shit has three levels and doesn’t need to be attended to. Plus then guests get even more food options.)

To serve these up, Miss Fats just sent them out on some large trays and allowed people to grab what they wanted, along with the big bowls of rice and spinach.  Now there’s a rule to this party that Miss Fats fully believes in upholding.  There can be NO LEFTOVERS.  You and your guests did all that work, and frankly, those gyoza aren’t that great the next day, so get your fat pants on and FINISH them.

IMG_1877

Cookie Decorating Party: 5 guests, 2 hours prep (plus 1 hour a day prior)

This delightful little holiday-themed get together was a fun way for Miss Fats to share her love of baking with her friends, while indulging in some much-needed child-like crafting and nostalgia.  This party was basically part two of last week’s card crafting sesh, and this time it was Miss Fats’ turn to host.  For dinner, she kept it light with a hearty winter salad of brown rice, baby spinach and roasted sweet potatoes.  This allowed for maximum cookie consumptions during decoration.  The budget for this party came to about $30, which when you compare to the gyoza party, is not as much of a deal.  However this could easily be subsidized by asking folks to bring along sprinkles and candies. (Sprinkles ate up this budget.)  Miss Fats also recommends spreading the prep over two days, because the sugar cookie dough or even the baked-off cookies can easily be stored over night.

Shopping List:

  • 3 sweet potatoes
  • 6 cups baby spinach
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cups uncooked brown rice
  • 1 inch fresh ginger
  • About 2 tbs honey
  • About 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbs curry powder
  • 2 lemons
  • Feta cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups butter (for all recipes)
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 cups flour (plus extra for rolling)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Any assortment of sprinkles
  • Ziplock bags

IMG_1879

Day Before: make cookie dough and bake cookies

The day before the party, Miss Fats recommends just banging out these easy cookies.  Her favorite recipe is an old-school dough from an ancient copy of Joy of Cooking.  She will share it with you below:

Sugar Cookie Cuouts

1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour

1. Beat butter and shortening on medium to high speed for 30 seconds.  Add sugar, baking powder and a dash of salt.  Beat in egg and vanilla. Mix in flour.  Divide dough in half and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Roll out your dough on a floured surface to about 1/3 inch thick.  Cut out your hearts and bake for about 8 minutes (depending on the size of your cookies), or until edges are ever-so-slightly golden.

Store these in an airtight container for the next day.

table

Day of Prep:

With all that pesky baking out of the way, all that needs to be done is the salad and frosting.  About an hour before the party, cook the brown rice.  Then work on the following components:

Roasted Sweet Potatoes:

3 diced sweet potatoes
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 inch grated ginger
2 tbs melted butter
2 tbs honey
1 tbs curry powder
2 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large bowl, whisk honey, ginger, butter, oil and curry powder together.  Add potatoes and onion and toss to coat.  Season with salt and pepper.  Spread the potatoes out on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Roast for about 30 minutes or until they are tender and browned.

Dressing:

Juice of 2 lemons
Zest of 2 lemons
2 tsp honey
About 2 tbs olive oil
Salt and Pepper

1. Whisk together all the ingredients.  Add warm cooked brown rice and toss to coat.

To serve up this salad, lay down a bed of the baby spinach, followed by about a 1/3 cup of the brown rice, a couple of heaping spoon fulls of the potatoes, and finally top with a little feta.  Pretty, heathy and delicious.

IMG_0050

Ok ok, so far this party sounds pretty contained and bougie, right?  Well Miss Fats doesn’t do under-indulgent, prim and proper.  Not to mention, this valentines day themed party was seriously lacking chocolate.  So, because this meal was looking too healthy, Miss Fats decided at the last-minute, to throw together some salted double chocolate chip cookies for snacking (got to keep the energy up).

IMG_1895

Unfortunately, these were not factored into the budget because Miss Fats literally had all the ingredients on hand (obvi.)  She used Martha’s double chocolate chip cookie recipe , added salt, and simplified them by refusing to use more than one bowl.  Simply skip a couple of steps by melting the chocolate and butter together in the microwave, and moving directly to step 2 of the recipe.  Once the batter is done, sprinkle a little kosher salt over top.  Miss Fats also recommends allowing the dough to sit out on the counter for about 30 minutes to firm up: she found her second batch to be a lot fluffier once it had sat for a bit.

IMG_0051

Chocolate and Salt: literally one of the greatest combos in the world.

Now after enjoying your salads and cookie apps, Miss Fats recommends stepping away from your guests to make the buttercream frosting.  This will take you literally 5 minutes.

IMG_1902

Buttercream Frosting:

1 cup butter (2 sticks), soften to room temp (VERY IMPORTANT)
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
food dye (optional)

optional: make your frosting chocolate buttercream.  All you need is 1/4 cup chocolate chips, melted and cooled

1. Beat the butter on high for about 2 minutes until fluffy,  and light in color.  Scrape down sides.  Sift in the sugar in batches (so as not to make a huge mess), beating to combine each time.  Add the vanilla and salt.  Beat to combine. Optional chocolate: remove about 2/3 of the frosting into other bowls.  Beat in melted chocolate into the remaining frosting.

2. In separate bowls, divide your frosting and mix in whatever colors you’d like.  Miss Fats kept it simple with white, pink and chocolate.  To make little pastry bags, distribute frosting into ziplock bags and simply cut the tip off of one corner.

And now it’s decorating time.  Miss Fats kept it simple my throwing down some paper bags to protect the table and allowed people to just have at it.

Deocrating

So much craft delight, with treats to take home.

IMG_0049Clearly Miss Fats’ friends are not the most adept pastry chefs, but it’s about the experience, people. Plus they all taste damn good.

Miss Fats hopes this inspires you to celebrate with your girlfriends today.  In the very least eat a waffle or watch a chick flick.

Miss Fat Tuesday

Miss Fats showed up to work today and was rewarded! WIth a giant box of paczki (pronounced “punchkey”). Turns out Fat Tuesday is also a special day when Catholic Polish Midwesterners eat a lot of Polish jelly donuts right before Lent. Miss Fats APPROVES of this tradition. She proved it by eating the apricot one. Paczki are poofier than regular donuts, and have just a wee little bit of filling. Plus they’re called PUNCHKEYS, so you get to say PUNCHKEY a lot when there are PUNCHKEYS around, and that’s fun.SAMSUNG

Half an hour later, another co-worker showed up with MORE paczki! This bunch was from Glazed and Infused… Miss Fats isn’t sure if the chocolate heart shaped one was a true paczki or just a fun chocolate heart shaped jelly donut, but she sucked it up and ate it anyway. It’s a hard-knock life.SAMSUNG SAMSUNG SAMSUNG

Happy Valentines Day. If only all the hearts Miss Fats breaks bled raspberry jelly.

Since Fat Tuesday got off to such a good start, Miss Fats decided to keep the awesome coming by collecting on a bet she won over the weekend. The bet was the loser buys lunch and the winner chooses where, so Miss Fats also received a delicious giant Sam sandwich from Lucia’s on North Ave. The Sam is always kind of hard to eat due to its size, but the bread has roasted tomatoes stuck to the top of it and that is an awesome thing. She also had a bowl of chicken noodle soup because IT’S FAT FREAKING TUESDAY!!!!! And 2 sugar free Lifesavers! Shit got cray! Miss Fats hopes some of you out there also learned about the wonderful world of punchkeys today!SAMSUNG