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In-N-Out Double Double Animal Style Burger Dip

In n Out Animal Style Dip

I may seem like a hoity toity food person (has anyone seen my baker’s twine?) but deep in my heart I really love a good cheeseburger. And the cheeseburger I really love best is a Double-Double, animal style, from In-N-Out.

If you’re not from around here, or you’ve been hiding under a rock, In-n-Out makes the best fast food burgers in the world.  And I, like many Southern Californians (and frankly non-Southern Californians) am borderline obsessed with them.

Los Angeles is a burger town, in the way that New York is a pizza (or hot dog) town, and Chicago is a hot dog (or pizza) town (and San Francisco is a ?  town?   Odd ice cream flavors?  Fresh figs? Mesclun?)   Angelenos take their burgers seriously.  As I craved cheeseburgers during my entire pregnancy with Boo (who is turning out to be a meat and potatoes man, no surprise), I’ve sampled many of the fine burgers that LA has to offer — Umami Burger, Father’s Office, Pie and Burger, Big Jo’s … but in the end, I’m a burger purist, because none really measure up to In-N-Out.  It’s the ur-burger.  It’s not that the ingredients are stellar (good quality, I would say, for fast food, but not stellar) or that the burger is everything you can imagine a burger to be – but I don’t think you can do much better, food-wise – for your $3 than to spend it on an In-N-Out Double-Double Animal Style.
Animal Style, off the In-N-Out Not-So-Secret Menu, means the burger patty has been grilled with mustard, the raw onions (never my favorite) have been replaced with the addictive little flavor bombs of fried onions, pickles have been added (!) and there’s extra “spread” – really Thousand Island Dressing (!!).  The combination of all the elements is a salty flavor explosion that makes you want to go back again, and again, and again.

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Honey Lemon Hot Toddy

Hot Toddy

I, like everyone else in the known universe, have a cold.

When one has two small children, it is inevitable. Boo has had a runny nose practically nonstop since he began daycare, and Nuni has a nagging cough that seems to be going around Kindergarten. I am the one who wipes the noses, who picks up the grubby toys, who finishes the half eaten food. I am on the receiving end of many hugs, many kisses, and many germs.

Sometimes, in my more bitter moments, I think back to the halcyon days of my childhood. When I was sick, I took to my bed with a mug of my mother’s homemade chicken soup and the admonition to get lots of sleep. Now, I drag myself to the office (because I have to save my sick days for the times when my CHILDREN are sick, natch), fix the chicken soup myself for everyone else to eat, get all the children to bed and then settle in for the night and do dishes (or, you know, write a blog post.) And sleep? I like to joke that I haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep since 2006. It’s only sort of a joke.
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Garlic Butter Mushroom Sliders

Mushroom Sliders

The Super Bowl, oddly enough, seems to be one of the biggest food holidays of the year.  I don’t know why it’s more food-centric than the Fourth of July, or Easter, or Cinco de Mayo, but there you have it.  I myself am not a huge fan of professional football (LA hasn’t had an NFL team since I was in elementary school, which lessens the thrill somewhat) but I can always get behind a party.  Especially a party that involves those semi-junky foods that you always want to eat but usually don’t because they are not good for you.  Foods like buffalo wings, potato chips with onion dip, and jalapeno poppers.

Mushroom Sliders Ingredients

This year, however, I am trying to eat more vegetables, and last time I checked, buffalo wings are not vegetables.  In the past, I have scoffed at “healthy” Superbowl recipes. The whole point of Superbowl food is that it’s unhealthy.  Nobody wants to eat kale chips while watching men pummel each other in freezing cold weather.   This year, though, I saw my vegetable challenge as a Super bowl challenge too – could I come up with a healthi-ER recipe that doesn’t feel like a compromise?  Something that’s so delicious you want to eat it MORE than the meaty alternative?

I don’t mean to brag, but I think I’ve accomplished just that.   Little sliders (fun to eat!, finger food that one can eat on the couch while watching the TV), made from mushroom caps (We’ll ignore the fact that for purposes of the challenge, mushrooms aren’t exactly Vegetables.  They are like vegetables.) oozing with garlic butter and melted cheese.  Forget the Super Bowl.  I want to eat these EVERY day.  (And I could, too- they do contain butter and cheese, but it’s not excessive.)  They’re so good that nobody will notice they’re eating healthi(er) food because they’ll be too busy licking their fingers and asking for more.

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Ten Ways to Use Roast Chicken

The fantasy: Your house is clean. Your children have finished their homework and are playing by themselves quietly and without incident. You have the time to chop, sauté and simmer, and fill your house with good smells as you make a leisurely, healthy dinner, which your delighted family eats with enthusiasm.

The reality: There was an accident on the freeway, so you’re home from work 40 minutes later than usual. Your daughter has emptied the contents of her backpack all over your living room, which is now strewn with glitter and various bits of paper. You’re supposed to send a signed form to daycare with your son, but you can’t find the paperwork anywhere. Your husband is working late. Bedtime is approaching. You need to get dinner on the table, quickly, but if you try to serve carrot sticks and chicken again your family will storm the barricades.

OK, maybe that’s just my reality. But I’m sure you have your own unique challenges.

The point is, we all want to live the fantasy. We want to cook entirely from scratch and feed our families healthy, homemade food every day of the week. But the reality doesn’t always stack up, and that’s where the harried cook turns to shortcuts, in the form of the supermarket rotisserie chicken. It’s healthier than frozen lasagna, quicker than starting from scratch, but not the most exciting meal. Here, then, are ten ideas for turning that rotisserie chicken into something fabulous. (Or, if you are living the fantasy, and have managed to follow the constant food writer suggestion of “Just roast a chicken!” then these are ideas for using up the leftovers.)
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