It is blowing like stink outside right now. We’ve been watching the weather sites and they’ve all been predicting big winds coming due to a huge pressure gradient between the Sea of Cortez and the Great Basin up in the States. Well, the wind finally hit yesterday afternoon and continued to build through the night. And, of course, the wind is bringing the temperatures down smartly. It was 50 degrees outside at 0730 yesterday. I forgot to check this morning but I’m sure it was 5-10 degrees colder. With the wind chill it’s probably 10 degrees colder yet. It’s bright and sunny outside but it is definitely cool.
We’re staying nice and toasty down below with the little electric heater pumping away. I walked to the store this morning and, although it was really, really windy, once out of the wind it wasn’t all that cold. Lots of dust and dirt blowing around, though.
Our friend Steve (s/v Kashmira) reported getting wind readings of 35 knots here in the marina. Granted that was at the top of his mast but still. And if we’re getting 35 knot winds here behind the breakwater, I can only imagine how hard it’s blowing out on the Sea. I can see the water from here a little and it looks nasty. Big, breaking waves. Glad we’re here and not out there.
This weather does lend itself to cooking, though. Right now Lulu is making bread. We also tried a couple of new recipes in the last couple days. One was a definite keeper and the other was a surprising “also ran”.
Let’s start with the keeper. This is another recipe from Serious Eats. It’s called Chicken and Penne in Vodka Cream Sauce. Naturally we had to make a few adjustments. But, amazingly, this time the only change we had to make was to substitute tequila for vodka and we only did that because we had tequila on hand. Oh, and we also didn’t have any fresh or dried parsley for the garlic bread nor any fresh basil. Lulu’s basil plant that she kept going from last winter in Mazatlán (with a little help during the summer from the plant’s foster parents, Katie and Mark on s/v Selkie), finally had had enough and succumbed to the vagaries of old age awhile ago in San Carlos. But, no matter, we just used dried basil instead. Not as good but you gotta do what you gotta do. Anyway, this recipe turned out to be a definite keeper. The photo really doesn’t do it justice.
The other recipe which was not nearly as good as we’d hoped was Kung Pao Chicken. The reason it was such a surprise that it wasn’t more flavorful is that Serious Eats’ Chief Creative Officer, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt was its creator. Generally, if Kenji’s involved, we know it’s going to be good. And, truth be known, this may not have been entirely Kenji’s fault. It may have been at least partially due to our inevitable substitutions. Por ejemplo, we had neither Shaoxing wine or dry sherry, nor were they available here in Santa Rosalia, so we just substituted our standard cooking wine: Carlo Rossi Bergundy. We also substitiuted distilled white vinegar for Chinese black vinegar, green onions for leeks, and sambal-olek chili paste for Sichuan fermented chili-bean paste. In each of these cases, the recipe ingredient was simply not available. Oh, and we also substituted dried arbol chiles for Chinese dry chili peppers. Now, I’m not saying the resulting kung-pao was bad, it just didn’t have any oomph. Ultimately we were able to give it the extra kick it needed by adding some MSG. We will probably make this recipe again but we will definitely add MSG to the recipe. And, although the dried peppers look right, I think we’ll exchange them for red pepper flakes for easier eatibility.
Dinner tonight is the leftover chicken and penne. Then, next up is going to be Chicken Marsala from the Serious Eats site. I confess up front, though, that we don’t have any Marsala and so, will probably be dragging out the Carlo Rossi again.