Thursday, February 2, 2012

Gourmet Ramen Noodles, Is It Possible?

As a former chef and future restaurateur, I am about the last person that most people would expect to be into some Ramen Noodles, but I just about always keep some handy in the house. These not only bring back memories from college when I needed to conserve my money. They also allow me to develop new and interesting creations from such a simple base.

The majority of people simply boil the noodles and add the packet of seasoning and call it a day. While this is a great way to get a salty snack or an accompaniment to a meal, it leaves something to be desired in the form of a culinary delight. Okay, I am not advocating this as something that you might find on the menu for a four star restaurant, it is still something that you can enjoy on a night when you do not want to use seven pots and pans to make a quick dinner.

The best way that I have found to enjoy these in a quick manner is to make some Thai Style spicy peanut butter ramen noodles. The ingredients are simple. You will only need to have:

·         Chicken Ramen Noodles (1 package)

·         Creamy or Chunky peanut butter (1TBS)

·         Trader Joes Chili Pepper Sauce (1 tsp)

You can add other things like cabbage, boiled eggs, roasted peanuts, chicken or anything else you might want to have. I will sometimes add some slices of garlic just to make it REALLY offensive! The process is simple:

1.       Just boil the noodles with about one cup of water in a small pot just big enough for the noodles to fit in.

2.       Flip the noodles as soon as the water starts to boil.

3.       While the noodles are finishing, add into a bowl peanut butter and chili sauce.

4.       When noodles are tender, add in noodles and broth to bowl.

5.       Stir the broth carefully to fully incorporate the peanut butter and chili sauce.

6.       Add green onions, garlic or whatever else you might want or just eat them like this.

My wife used to laugh at me for making this until I got her to try just the broth. She is a staunch opponent to ramen noodles and she asked me to make her a bowl. If you don’t like it, I understand. All I am saying is that there are so many ways that you can something ordinary and make it worth your time.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Coffee and Tea for Me

Caffeine has long been an important part of my life. Ever since I discovered the great benefits that a big cup of coffee could provide me, I was all in. My addiction started in high school with the late night trips to Waffle House. This was a great way to have a place in which my friends and I could hang out for hours without ever getting hassled. We could drink buckets of coffee and make plans for how we would take over the world.

College was also fueled by coffee. It was able to bring the kind of late nights that I wished I had experienced in high school. Spending all night at the raves and doing whatever I wanted was a welcome relief from military school blues. I discovered Jittery Joes in Athens and started experimenting with “classy” coffees like cappuccino and latte. Through it all, I still came back to the standard coffee for which I have come to know and love.

After college, I started working in restaurants full time and learning the finer things about coffee. I learned about the kinds of beans that I liked best and the conditions which would allow me to get the kind of flavor that I liked best. I learned that I like hilltop, Arabica beans much better than Oceanside Robusta beans. I also learned that I am not a can of the common Italian roasts. I prefer a dark roast with nutty characters instead.

Teas started out as something which I liked more for herbal tastes than I did for black teas. I only ever enjoyed black tea when I was at the Chinese restaurant and I was drinking it with a meal. As I matured and discovered haunts like Teavana, I discovered the world of white teas and all of the other varieties. While I am far from a tea connoisseur, I am a bit more educated than the average tea bag drinker.

Through it all, I still prefer to have a great cup of coffee. I have a wonderful Krups coffee maker with a filter built in to make a perfect pot of coffee. I have not bought into the pod technology as it is just too much for me. I cannot fathom paying so much for coffee. I am spending enough to get the best coffee beans and a wonderful machine to make it with. I will keep it simple right now and keep feeding my addiction to caffeine in the way I like best.