Archive for January, 2009

Snapple, Made from the Best Stuff on … WHAAAAT??!

Posted on January 30, 2009. Filed under: hodgepodge, review |

When you’re in New York, you notice many things.  One of the things you notice most is that Snapple is everywhere.  Every store, deli, lunch counter, Snapple is the iced tea of choice.  As a tea drinker, this presents a problem, because Snapple is crap.  It claims to be made from “the best stuff on Earth”.  This, as they say, is a lie.

Let’s take a look at the ingredients listed on the most common Snapple beverage, Iced Tea with Lemon:
Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Citric Acid, Tea, Natural Flavors
Alright, water is a good ingredient.  I’ll give you that one, Snapple.  But, high fructose corn syrup?  Please.  That’s the main flavor in Snapple- cheap sugar.  Call me crazy, but I’d like the main flavor in my ice tea to be tea.  But tea is listed second to last, meaning, there’s not a lot of tea in Snapple.  There’s more sugar than tea in my iced tea. There’s more citric acid than tea!  
Citric acid is added to make Iced Tea with Lemon seem…lemony.  Why did they do that?  Well, the did that because there is no lemon in the iced tea with LEMON!  Oh boy.  Doesn’t seem “best” to me.  The “lemon” comes from citric acid and natural flavors.  I don’t have a problem with that, per se, but, come on, when rating best stuffs, I’d say actual lemon ranks above chemicals made to seem like lemon.
Sadly, most of Snapple’s beverages are no better.  Various tea and fruit drinks are made of mostly sugar water and flavors, with a teensy bit of tea thrown in to make you feel good.  There are a few rare exceptions- the “classic” line, with 3 varieties, are decent.  Still too much sugar for me, but only by a wee bit, and the sugar is actually sugar, not HFCS.  
Maybe Snapple should change the motto to : “Snapple, Made from a Bunch of Crap and a Little Bit of (Probably Not Very High Quality) Tea”.  Just a suggestion. 
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Citrus Chicken

Posted on January 28, 2009. Filed under: healthy, poultry, recipe |

The farmers’ market is overflowing with citrus.  So, I thought I’d go a little crazy and mix a few together.  The result is similar to a Cuban mojo, but even more…citrusy!

4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
2 Oranges
2 Lemons
2 Limes
4 Cloves Garlic, smashed
1 Small Hot Pepper, seeded and chopped
1 Tbs. Mustard
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
2 Pinches Salt & a Wee Bit Fresh Cracked Pepper
1/8 Cup Olive Oil
Juice the citrus.  Add remaining ingredients, except olive oil.  Using either a hand blender or whisk, slowly add olive oil.  You want to go slow in order to incorporate the oil completely.  Add chicken to marinade, and refrigerate for about 3 hours.  Don’t leave it in too long (more than 12 hours), or the acid in the fruit will do very bad things to the texture of the chicken.  Like turn it to mush.  Bad.
If you’re able to, grill the chicken, because grilled chicken just tastes better.  If you can’t grill (it is, despite being 70 degrees today in Los Angeles, the middle of winter), broil chicken for about 6 minutes per side.
While that’s happening, bring marinade to a boil, and cook for 5 minutes.  Stir in 1/8 cup olive oil.  No need to be quite as careful this time- it’s ok if the sauce breaks a little bit.  Spoon over chicken while it’s cooking, then spoon more when it’s finished.
Any leftover chicken makes for a killer addition to salad.  The marinade (one boiled) makes for a great dressing.  So make extra.
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Quaker True Delights

Posted on January 26, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

I was given the opportunity to sample Quaker’s new granola bars, True Delights, this weekend.  The bars were sent to me via Foodbuzz, as a free test sample.  I will do my best to balance my love of free stuff with a fair report.  Bars come in 3 flavors.

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Almond: Very good!  The balance between sweet/bitter/nutty/fruity was really nice.  Dark chocolate nibs add both a deep flavor and nice texture contrast.  Could use a few more almonds.

Toasted Coconut Banana Macadamia Nut: Toasted flavor is great.  It reminds me of eating breakfast.  Very satisfying.  Less sweet tasting than the other bars.

Honey Roasted Cashew Mixed Berry: It’s a little too sweet.  Not
by much, but enough.  (Reading the label shows that, indeed, it
contains 2g more sugar than the other flavors.)  I think the lack of
cashews throws off the balance.  Good flavor mix, but I really only
enjoyed the first 2 bites.

The specific nut/berry/fruit mixture for each bar is added on top instead of being blended in.  There could also be a little more of it, especially when it comes to nuts.  Sourcing information for ingredients is not available. 

Overall, Quaker does a pretty good job with these bars.  They’re probably the best mass produced granola bars on the market.  Recommended for an occasional snack, especially if you’re in an area where a (tasty) locally produced bar isn’t available. 

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Chicken in Peppered Tomato Sauce

Posted on January 23, 2009. Filed under: one pot, poultry, recipe |

1 Lb. Chicken Breast, sliced fairly thin

32 oz Can Crushed Tomatoes

1 Green Bell Pepper, sliced
1 Medium Yellow Onion, sliced
4 Cloves Garlic, smashed
1 Tsp. Chili Powder
or your favorite dried, ground hot pepper
1 Tsp. Sugar
1/4 Tsp. Fresh Grated Nutmeg
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
Begin by seasoning chicken with salt & pepper.  Then dust with a thin coat flour.  Very thin.  Just a tad.  Don’t overdo it.  Brown on both sides.  Remove.
Drain oil from pan, add bell pepper, onion, garlic, nutmeg, & chili.  Stir for about a minute, then add tomato, sugar, & chicken.  Simmer over medium-high heat for about 20 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir in olive oil, and serve.  It’s nice over angel hair pasta.

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The Awesomeness of Youth : Amore Pizza

Posted on January 19, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

There are certain places that will always knock our culinary socks off.  The places of our youth.  They might not be the greatest in objective terms, but, in the part of our belly that remembers everything, they will always be the best.  My last visit to New York (and indeed again this time), I drove to my old home town to eat at Mandarin.  This time, through lucky circumstance, I was able to stuff myself at Amore Pizza, the first pizza joint I ever went to.

After wrapping a day on Stuck, I was being driven back to Manhattan by one of the crew dudes.  We had to drop someone off in Queens, and, as we drove, I realized we were going to pass Amore.  It didn’t take much convincing to have the driver make a stop, he’s a pizza fan himself.

Amore has been around since 1975, but it’s history goes deeper.  It began as Gloria’s Pizza in downtown Flushing, and has been owned by the same people throughout it’s history.  The owners, though retired, still visit often, and the place is now run by their sons.  Speaking of sons, I’m not the first Klein to have a deep love of Amore.  Gloria’s (then Amore) was the pizza of my father’s youth, too.  History runs deep.

Amore serves both slices and whole pies, as well as an assortment of other Italian-American entrees.  The pizza is the epitome of New York style- fairly thin crust with a chew, simple tomato sauce, and fat filled cheese that drips down to your elbows.  Pat off the excess oil at your own risk!  It’s of the gas oven variety, not to be confused with the charred crust of the brick/coal oven.

I’m not sure if I can step away and rate this place.  Luckily, I’ve been there with a few people who didn’t grow up with it, and they all agree- Amore Pizza is worth the trip to Flushing!

Amore Pizza is located in the Pathmark shopping center, down the street from Whitestone Bowl.  Visit them online at

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Pollos El Paisa

Posted on January 15, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

It always amazes me how you can find the most wonderful food in the most unnoticed of places.  I’m shooting a film on Long Island, and, on the way home, the director asked me if I liked Colombian food.  I told him I’d never tried it, but I was ready to change that.  So we headed to Pollos El Paisa in Levittown New York.

I was hit by the wonderful smell of roasted meat when I entered.  The place was packed.  The diners diverse.  Good signs indeed.

My main course was a marinated and grilled skirt steak, served sizzling on a cast iron skillet.  It was, well, perfect.  The outside charred to a brilliant mahogany, the inside pink.  It was mildly spiced, the mix of fat and flavor in wonderful harmony.  The steak was served with a sauce that was similar to the Argentinian chimchurri, with chopped onions and roasted red bell pepper substituting for garlic and hot pepper.  Buttered rice and fried cassava were served on the side.  I also had a crazy tasty guanabana (sour sop) juice.  Man, this was one belly-rubbing meal.

Good Food is everywhere.  You can, and should (!) make it yourself.  You can also follow someone’s lead, and find it in places you’d never expect.

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Curried Tomato Soup

Posted on January 10, 2009. Filed under: healthy, one pot, recipe, vegetable |

28oz Can Crushed Tomatoes
1 1/2 Cups Vegetable Stock

3 Cloves Garlic, crushed
One Medium-Hot Pepper, chopped fine
     I Used a Fresno Pepper
1 Tbs. Curry Powder
1/8 Cup Olive Oil

1/2 Cup Milk or Cream
1/4 Cup Fresh Basil, chopped
1/8 Cup Cilantro (Optional), chopped

1 Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Heat olive oil over a medium hot flame.  Add garlic, pepper, and curry powder.  Heat one minute, stir frequently.  Add tomatoes and stock.  Heat 20 minutes.  Remove from heat, blend in milk.  Add basil and, if you’d like, cilantro. 

Yeah, it’s that easy.

Serve, clearly, with a grilled cheese sandwich.

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Tuesday Special: One for the Dogs

Posted on January 6, 2009. Filed under: hodgepodge, pet, recipe |

The Farmer’s Thighs

I went to the farmers’ market the other day, planning on picking up a little bit of food for the kitchen.  Well, after seeing the beautiful free range chickens on of the vendors had, plans changed a little bit.  No longer was I just going to cook dinner for myself- my little Lucy would get a meal out of it, too! 

Buying a whole chicken is a great way to cut down on cost.  The breasts were $7.99/lb, the thighs alone $6.99/lb.  For the whole chicken?  $2.49/lb.  What a deal!

 The breast and leg would be for me, the bones would be frozen for later stock making, but the thighs- the thighs would become a special meal for Lucy.

In addition to two chicken thighs, I used:

One Carrot: Provides vitamin A and fiber, carrots are great for vision

1/2 Apple:  Lucy’s favorite fruit.  A sweet treat!

1/8 Cup Italian Parsley: Fantastic for sweet breath.

1/8 Cup Olive Oil: For a shiny coat.

One Clove Garlic: This is a little controversial.  Garlic, in large quantities, is toxic to dogs.  However, in small quantities, it is a natural flea/tick repellent, and boosts the immune system.  If you feel funny about adding it, don’t!  Consult your vet if you have any questions about garlic.

I cut the carrot, apple, and chicken into half-inch cubes, and chopping the garlic and parsley.  I added the carrot and garlic to one cup of water, already boiling in a small pot.  After 15 minutes, I added the chicken and apple, then cooked for an additional 5 minutes.  After removing from heat, I stirred in the olive oil and parsley.  Much to Lucy’s chagrin, she had to wait a few minutes for everything to cool.

The recipe can be multiplied as much as you want, and is great to freeze.

Here’s a time saving tip:  Cut the carrots and garlic first, while they are cooking, prep the rest of the ingredients!

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