ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Weston Ochse is a former intelligence officer and special operations soldier who has engaged enemy combatants, terrorists, narco smugglers, and human traffickers. His personal war stories include performing humanitarian operations over Bangladesh, being deployed to Afghanistan, and a near miss being cannibalized in Papua New Guinea. His fiction and non-fiction has been praised by USA Today, The Atlantic, The New York Post, The Financial Times of London, and Publishers Weekly. The American Library Association labeled him one of the Major Horror Authors of the 21st Century. His work has also won the Bram Stoker Award, been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and won multiple New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards. A writer of more than 26 books in multiple genres, his military supernatural series SEAL Team 666 has been optioned to be a movie starring Dwayne Johnson. His military sci fi series, which starts with Grunt Life, has been praised for its PTSD-positive depiction of soldiers at peace and at war. Weston likes to be called a chaotic good paladin and challenges anyone to disagree. After all, no one can really stand a goody two-shoes lawful good character. They can be so annoying. It's so much more fun to be chaotic, even when you're striving to save the world. You can argue with him about this and other things online at Living Dangerously or on Facebook at Badasswriter. All content of this blog is copywrited by Weston Ochse.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Eating, Restraint, and the Best Thing I Cooked in 2014

I've been slacking. There are a bunch of blog posts I've been wanting to make--I actually have a list of them-- but I've been sick on and off for a month and deep in the nightmare realm of writing deadlines and edits. I know it's a terrible excuse, but it's all I got, so it will have to do. 

As many of you know, I take a lot of food pictures and do a lot of cooking. I even host a FB group called Taste of Sierra Vista highlighting the foods of the town and region in which I live. I'm not doing it to show off. I'm also not doing it to brag about my mad cooking skills because as a chef I am a complete work in progress. I cook like I live life, two steps forward and one step backward. No, I write and blog about food on the occasion because I once weighed sixty pounds more than I do now. I got that way by eating crap. And a lot of crap. Basically, I'd shove down my big fat maw anything that tasted good. I was like a kitchen krakon, eating anything you'd offered me.

But no more.

That was then. This is now.

If it's something loaded with calories, then it better be damn good and special. I need to be convinced to expend the calories and it has to be a rare occasion.

For instance, if I'm going to have a burger, I'm not going to go to a  fast food restaurant. I'm going to
APE Burger - Brie, Bacon and Apple Burger
expend those calories on the best burger I can think of-- best burger available. I'm not going to do it often, but when I do, it's going to be the best ingredients, cooked the best possible way, and in the coolest place. For instance, my go-to burger spot is a place called The Cafe in Sonoita, Arizona and run by Chef Adam Puckle. They have the APE Burger (APE-Adam Puckle Experience). It's a half pound of either farm-raised beef or bison, prepared your way, with his choice of toppings. It's mad good and an experience to boot. So when I said it needs to be special, THAT'S what I'm talking about.

By the way, I wrote about this burger place back in September in an article called Burgers with Chefitude. You can find that here.

Don't get me wrong. I expend calories for food all the time, but most of the time it's pretty healthy. For instance, last night I cooked Miso Glazed Cod over Steamed Cabbage and Basil with a sesame, mirin, and lemon vinaigrette, with quick pickled cucumbers in matcha mirin. It was pretty freaking awesome. But I'd be surprised if the entire plate was more than six hundred calories. It was light, it was filling, and it was sumptious and it's something I'd definitely cook again. (I can provide the recipe to anyone who asks.)

So driving into work today, I listened to a Mimi Sheraton being interviewed about her book 1000 Foods to Eat Before You Die. You can listen to it here if you want. It got me to thinking what was the best thing I ate last year. I was surprised to say that it was probably the Razor Clams I had in Portland back in May. Razor clams are one of my new favorite foods. I'd move to Oregon if I could have them everyday. THAT's how much I love them.

Then I asked myself what about all the food you cooked--which recipe do you like the best? It came to me right away. There was a simplicity to this dish, but there was also a depth and combination of flavor that I loved. This wasn't my wife's favorite dish by far. I think she'd say the Pacific Lobster Tails or Penne Con Ragu di Mortadella, which is a dish I love that I stole from Chef Michael White, which is his go to dish when he's hungry late at night. 

No, this is merely my favorite and I'll share it with you here.

Let me start by saying that this isn't my recipe. Sometimes I make up my own recipes based on ingredients available and the taste I want to cultivate. Other times I look at a recipe and tweak it, making it my own. In this case, I followed someone else's recipe-- Master Chef Geoffrey Zakarian. 

The Recipe is -- Orecchiette with Shrimp, Pancetta and Fresno Chiles

Orrechiette is sort of the perfect pasta. It means small ear in Italian and is the perfect pouch for containing small ingredients. I want to use it more. In fact, in 2015 I WILL use it more (You didn't see it, but I just pinky swore to myself).

I'm not going to rewrite the recipe. You can find it here. You should try it. It's awesome. Truly.

I'd be curious to see if you'd make it and then get your opinion. Please share it here if you do.

I'm also curious to know of all the things you cooked last year which is your favorite. I'd like to know.

Now back to writing and editing. So many ideas, so many works in progress, so much glorious life to live and so little time.


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