Kelly the Culinarian: June 2007

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Food find: Chimichangas taste different here

The chimichanga was supposedly invented in Tucson. So recently when I was out on the town, I stopped into The Taco Shop Company in downtown Tucson. The shops are an Arizona chain.

The line was long, but moving fast. I got this combo platter, which was a huge chimichanga topped with sour cream and guacumole, rice and beans and a drink.

The rice and beans were super, I enjoyed them. The rise was not instant and the beans were a smooth texture with a smokey flavor. The chimichanga was crispy and hard to cut into. It was filled with refried beans and meat. The meat tasted a little bit like roast beef, which I wasn't really a fan of. I guess I should have asked for chicken instead.

I will continue on my quest for the best Mexican joint out here, because I feel like I popped into the Taco Bell of Arizona.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Media meal: Tucson is ripping me off

A camera malfunction has prevented me from me proceeding with my normal blogging routine, so I thought I bring this up. The other day, I was flipping through the stations and saw this on TV: University workers cook in their cars.

Seriously? I can't decide if it's the University of Arizona of KVOA News 4, but someone is ripping off my idea. This happened a full week after I gave it a try.

I guess I'm not the crazy intern now -- safety in numbers.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Tasty Tucson Tour: Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum

Last weekend, I went out to the Arizona-Sonara Desert Museum. The place is famous for its integration of natural elements in its campus. It's a zoo/museum/botanic gardens with a little bit of everything. I spent many hours there in the scorching afternoon desert sun, but I would go back again.

As for the food out there, I stopped at the cafeteria-style dining establishment out there. Everything was overpriced, but it's a tourist spot. I got the southwest chicken cheese steak with peppers, onions and montery jack cheese. It wasn't so great. The bun got quite soggy and there wasn't a lot of flavor in it. It's hard to make a sandwich this messy look good too.

Before I left, I stopped at the gift shop. There were so many food-related items I barely knew what to do with myself. There were jalapeno and cactus jellies and jams and cookbooks and dip spice mixes. After admission and lunch, I let price be my guide. I picked up a few prickly pear pops for $.95 a piece. Prickly pear is only third on the list of ingredients, so I should have known it was just a tourist trap. It tasted just like a safety sucker you can get at the bank.

It's a good thing I came for the scenery and not the food because that's one thing that could never disappoint. For photos of the food and landscape, come on over here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Food find: Sonic hits the nostalgic spot

For all of those back home, you do not know the glory of Sonic. The drive-in restaurant with the cooky commercials for things we can't get in Illinois is all over the Arizona. And it's as glorious as you can imagine.

First, it's a drive-in, which means it automatically get points from me. I love getting the food brought out to my car on a tray. It's just so cute.

Then there's the burgers. I got a standard cheeseburger -- it was huge. It also came with your choice of mayo, ketchup and/or mustard, along with all the standard toppings. I was definately full.

The fries were no big deal, but was unique was their drink menu. You can order and beverage you want and any combination of add-ins for $.10 a piece. My combination was a Diet Coke with strawberries. I assumed that I'd just get some type of strawberry syrup. But instead, I got a coke with real strawberries and strawberry flavoring.

On another trip, Tim and I were lucky enough to stop in during their Happy Hour from 2 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday in which all drinks were half off. I got a green apple slush and Tim got a root beer float, which is normally $.99 anyway. Our tab was just $1.77. His float was not as good as A&W, but satisfactory nonetheless. My slush was very yummy. I'm a Slurpee devotee in any occassion, but their variety of slushes brings this obsession to a whole new level.

Overall, it's standard fast food fair with unique touches such as giant burgers standard, cool funky drink mix-ins and a nostalgic delivery method. Plan to see more reports on this joint as the summer progresses.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Cooking with Kelly: Carside cookies part II

As the temperature hit 107 degrees Fahrenheit again today in Tucson, I tried to bake cookies in my car today. This time, we experienced success.
I think the difference is that I nestled a few different-shaped plates together so that the hot air could circulate under the cookies and the foil wouldn't deflect any of the heat away. Also, the use of a generous co-worker's meat thermometer was invaluable so I could make sure to properly "preheat" my car. It reached 170 in my car at one point and I baked the cookies for 1 and a half hours this time.

I also used my sun shields to block off the front of the car and reflect the sun back toward the cookies. After the time was up, I let them sit for a while inside to firm up.

All in all, they were still a bit mushy, but my co-workers and I didn't seem to mind. I could get into this whole solar cooking thing, but I know the press room is starting to talk about me as "that crazy intern."

Food news: Scientist want your fruit to have a carbonated kick

This article on CNN is about a fun new food invention. Because so few American children eat their daily dose of fruits, some entreprenurial scientists are looking at new ways to make fruit exciting. One man found that by leaving a pear in a cooler of dry ice, the cardon dioxide infused the fruit with carbonation.

Although the article points out that no long-term studies have been done to discern the long-term effects of cardonation in fruit, Fizzy Fruit is already on shelves at Wal-Marts in the Southeast. They only add cardon dioxide, which presumable makes it good for you.

I'd give it a try, but I do worry how one's body would react. Then again, I'm prone to drinking diet soda all day, which I'm sure has more cardonation.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Cooking with Kelly: No-bake ice cream cake

On Sunday, my boss was nice enough to invite me over to his family's weekly dinner. While I was assured there was nothing I needed to bring, I feel naked walking into a get together with nothing in hand. With the Irish, food is love, so we must distribute it at every turn.

Since the temperature was hovering somewhere between 107 degrees Fahrenheit and blazing, I decided first thing I would not be cooking. I get a couple of food-related magazines and one that I like is Food and Family. The free publication is put together by Kraft in order to show people how to use their products.

I usually go with the off brands of their products, but it's great for starting ideas at least. I found this beautiful-looking ice cream cake that simply required layering. They call it an Oreo Fudge Ice Cream Cake and the recipe is here.

Essentially, you need ice cream bars, whipped frozen topping, oreos, hot fudge Sunday topping and chocolate pudding. Mix a cup of the topping with a 1/2 cup of the hot fudge, warmed of course, then stir in the pudding packet. Add eight crushed oreos. Then, start with a bed of four ice cream sandwiches lined up together on a big sheet of foil. Top with half of the chocolate mixture, then repeat, using 12 ice cream sandwiches to make a little tower of yummyness. Finally, top the whole thing off with more whipped topping, wrap it loosely with the foil and stick it in the freezer for a few hours.

I didn't let mine set in the freezer long enough and the drive out to the party nearly turned it to mush. This cake couldn't win a beauty contest, but it was really quite tasty. The picture up top is the magazine's rendering of what the cake should look like. The one lower is mine.

I was nervous with my dessert standing up to such great food off the grill, but it appeared to be well received. I would definitely make it again -- super easy to make and simply clean up.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Food find: Sushi does not require water

I'm not a big fan of fish -- I think it's the smell of it cooking that I dislike. I am, however, I big fan of sushi -- the sign of a good sushi joint is that the place should not smell like fish. Otherwise, you should just turn around a leave. I was a bit skeptical about a sushi joint in the middle of the desert nowhere near where the fish is caught, but when a craving strikes, you have to feed it.

Sachiko Sushi was recommended to me by my boss, who said it was one of the better sushi places in Tucson. It's also located across the street from our office on Valencia. It was so close that I should have walked.

When I got there, the lunch rush was in full swing. The tiny shop is a combination of regular tables and bar seating along the sushi chef's work station. This place offers cooked dishes in addition to nigri and sashimi sushi. I personally can only bring myself to eat the rolls. Because it was so busy, I opted to just get a spicy tuna roll to go. I know it's boring, but I was skeptical and wanted to stick with something that I know how it should taste.

Other patrons at the place were getting ornate tablets with mutliple rolls or little boats filled with noodles, nigri and chopped chicken. The special of the day, which I believe was $12.95, was a huge bento-box style tray with different types of sushi, rice and noodles. It looked quite appetizing and cute too. But this place is not cheap -- my tuna roll was $4.50 and I saw people with $40 tabs.

But, my tuna roll was a success. It was spicy, but not overpowering. The rice was cohesive and moist and the sesame seeds were toasted nicely. It also had crunchy cucumber in the rolls and I dipped it all in a combination of soy sauce and wasabi.
I read a sign by the cash register that said the restaurant's secret is that they have used the same California fish monger for years and has a good relationship with them. Also, they're located right by the airport, so they have a good transport system in place for bringing in fresh fish.

Whatever the case, I was surprised by the quality of the sushi and I plan to return to try something a little more exotic now that I know they have the basics down pat.

Web find: Keeping your pantry safe

Ever wonder when it's time to pitch those kitchen staples? This article goes through many common condiments and cooking items to tell you when it's time to say goodbye to it. I would have never guessed, for example, that Worcestershire sauce is good for 12 years or eggs are OK for up to five weeks. As someone who usually just cooks for one or two people, sometimes pantry items just get away from me because I don't use them that often. This article will be a good reference for me, just in case.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Food find: Denver is cool and tasty

Last week, Tim and I made a pit stop in Denver, Colo. It's a cool city, temperature and otherwise. We had to eat because I was famished, so we went to Marlowe's on 16th street, which is cool little place that leads up to the capitol building and has all kinds of shops. It's also a walker's paradise because the only traffic allowed through are the city's alternative fuel vehicles.
Anyhow, I picked Marlowe's primarily because I wanted to sit outside on their cute little terrace and do some people watching. Most of the crowd at the joint looked like professionals who just got out of work, but there were also some tourist types.
We both ordered pasta dishes: Tim got the Chipotle Chicken Alfredo (RIGHT) that had cosarecce pasta, roasted red peppers, garlic, spring onion and grilled chicken. I got the Malfalda Pasta (LEFT) that had sun dried tomato pesto, sweet garlic, capers and button mushrooms. Both dishes were really filling and beautiful. I liked the food because the plates offered pasta that wasn't spaghetti or the humdrum kind with innovative sauces. Also, the portions were not such that I walked out feeling stuffed and overindulgent. I think I liked Tim's dish better than my own, though. The Alfredo was smoky and orang-ish in color and the vegetables were still crisp.

Overall, a really great meal in an awesome city.

Food tip: College parties can be quite profitable

I went to 4th Avenue in Tucson last night, which is a street of bars and funky shops students frequent. It reminded me of how one can make a profit while attending the college parties. It's a very simple process:

1. Find a populated party (frat houses, porch parties or after party)

2. DO NOT DRINK, simply observe

3. Around midnight, hit up your local Taco Bell and buy a variety of items off the Value Menu

4. Return to said party with the food and act as though you're going to eat it

5. In less than two minutes, some tipsy person will ask "Dude, can I get a bite?"

6. Tell said person that you really wanted to eat all 20 tacos, but you're willing to part with them -- for a price

7. Repeat

I'm sure this can be recreated with a variety of value menu items from McDonalds, Wendy's or Burger King. This method is not only profitable, but it makes for great people watching. Every party needs a designated driver. You can be the DD that comes home with cash.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Media meal: I wish I had a TV

This summer's TV menu for reality food shows whets my appetite. I may have to buy a TV because I'm so curious.

First, you have a new season of Top Chef, which I have enjoyed immensely in past years. I love their quirky quick-fire challenges and the fact that their food ranges from Kobe and truffles to sweet bread pudding made with stuff from a gas station.
Next, Hell's Kitchen is back on the air. I've never seen it and I'd prefer to miss it because I'm more concerned with the food, not some chef who makes himself feel better by belittling others.
Finally, there's Next Food Network Star hosted by Giada De Laurentis. I love her food and her approach, so naturally, I love this show too. What's interesting about it in my mind is not only do the contestants have to come up with awesome food (recipes available online), but they have to consider everything that goes into a television show about food. It makes me appreciate what I've been watching on TV on these years.
Thankfully, I can watch most of my favorites online, but I may have to breakdown and buy a TV.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Cooking with Kelly: Carside cookies

It was projected to be 109 degrees Fahrenheit today in Tucson. I've heard the expression "It's so hot, you could fry an egg on the sidewalk," but I'm not a big fan of eggs. Chocolate chip cookies, though, is another story. Harnessing the power of the sun, I attempted to make cookies on the dashboard of my car.

"Attempted" is the key here. I figured it would get up to 200 degrees in my car if I let it sit in the sun with the windows up. I "preheated" my car all afternoon, then placed a sheet of tinfoil on the dash with evenly-spaced cookie dough balls. This was the packaged kind, so all the work was done for me.

Nearly an hour and a half later, the butter was running out of the batter and the cookies were not set. It simply was not hot enough.

I will attempt again later in the week as the thermometer reaches 110. I will also be enlisting the help of a co-worker's thermometer to make sure my car reaches optimal temperature. I have faith this will work -- people use solar cooking all the time with fabulous, energy-efficient results.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Food find: Tusayan is a waste of a town

This is a tale of two cities. The first is called Chicago, a glittering town of history, art and amazing pizza. The second city is Tusayan, Ariz., a town that also glints in the night, but that's where the similarities end. This blink-or-you'll miss it town is located just outside the South entrance to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. I am convinced that it's sole purpose is to offer sub par services to tourists.

Because I was not astute enough to make hotel reservations, Tim and I had to spend the night there in a gross, overpriced hotel that served prepackaged processed muffins and instant oatmeal for their continental breakfast.
I digress. Anyhow, we had to eat dinner and all that was left open was We Cook Pizza and Pasta. The name is as original as the pizza.

We ordered the pesto pizza, a premium pie. It came with a pesto base in lieu of marinara, cheese, broccoli, red peppers and pine nuts. I assumed the pine nuts would be part of the pesto, but apparently that's not how they do it in these parts.

In addition to that quirk, the vegetables on top were not parboiled or otherwise partially cooked before serving. They were crunchy and practically indigestible. And there wasn't nearly enough pesto to keep the pizza moist throughout the cooking process. The crust was good, but that was about the only thing on this pizza that wasn't gross. Here's hoping that perhaps since we ordered a designer pizza, this was just outside of their area of expertise.
Otherwise, this place should be renamed to We Barely Cook our Pizza and Pasta.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Food find: Utah's fry sauce

As a good Irish girl, I love potatoes in any context. Especially with ketchup. But on our cross-country journey, we encountered something new to serve up with fries. I was starving one afternoon so we stopped at the first place we saw off the Utah highway. It was an A&W that was also a gas station, grocery store and movie rental place.

It was a small town.

Anyhow, the food itself was nothing too special. They have a new burger called the Papa burger, which is two patties with cheese and all the fixings.

But the "fry sauce" was something new. It was served unrequested with our food. The sauce, which was orange in color and thick than ketchup, was made with mayonnaise, ketchup, buttermilk and sugar, according to the package. It was also packaged in Utah, which led me to believe (rightly so) it was a regional item. This article explains its origin and composition.

I found the sauce to be a bit tasteless. Also, reading the ingredients before trying it out probably turned me off from the product as well. Tim didn't mind it, but said he'd prefer honey mustard sauce. Maybe you need to be from Utah to enjoy its complexities.

For me, I'll just stick with ketchup.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Food find: Bill's Pizza and Pub North

On this little road trip, we had so much food that I don't know where to begin. So I'll start at the beginning of our journey, now about 2,000 miles away. The morning that I began this trip to Tucson, my sisters and my mother and I met at Bill's Pizza and Pub North, located in Grayslake near the College of Lake County.

This place aims for an outdoor atmosphere by nesting its establishment in what's meant to look like a giant log cabin. Inside, you'll see all kinds of dead animal parts mounted on the walls and outdoorsy light fixtures that look like little viking ships. Also, every table gets a basket of salted peanuts that taste a bit like almonds. The discarded shells belong on the floor in this joint. Yet, it's still classy.

But we came for the pizza. Although I had a burger, my sister ordered the doubledecker pizza with just cheese. This is an original in my book because it has two thin-crust cheese pizzas (or any other type of pizza you want) layered on top of each other and anchored in place with a thick, braided crust.

The taste was nothing too special but the concept was pretty nifty. The sauce was a bit sweet for my taste, but I give it points for the fact that it was both homemade and originality. I'd eat it again.
And because I heart pizza, I've brought the movie back -- a Kelly Mahoney original about pizza joints in Evanston, Ill.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

An adventure

We made it to Tucson! We arrived at my new apartment yesterday after days of driving. We stopped and ate at some great places, which I'll be sharing at a later date. Now the true adventure begins: living in Arizona in the summer. I will be updating my blog tomorrow with a food-related post.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Food find: Dining at Clarke's is no walk in the park

The other day, I was feeling self-indulgent because I was sad to move from Evanston. I left my graduate apartment Sunday at Engelhart Hall to take an internship in Tucson. The apartment was nothing too special, but I'm still sad to leave Evanston. It's a beautiful city that I've packed a lot of memories into for nine months.

So my sister and I went to Clarke's in Evanston for what I thought would be one nice final breakfast in my city of departure. The last time I went, my friend ordered the baked blueberry pancake. It took 30 minutes to make and it was burned on the edges -- overall a poor dining experience.

So I had hopes this would be a better time around. First off, I couldn't find a waiter for the first 10 minutes. No one greeted us, brought us water or anything. And I was hungry.

As, soon as our waiter showed up, my sister and I ordered just the food. Who knows how long it would take for drinks to come, then food. Katie got the silver dollar pancakes, I got the chocolate chip pancakes. I was feeling sad, I wanted something chocolately. Food is love.

When the pancakes came, I couldn't see the chocolate. The chips were on the underside of the pancake, baked into it. But my guess is they made these pancakes by mixing chocolate chips in with buttermilk pancakes. The problem is the chips sunk to the bottom, becoming overcooked on the griddle while the rest of the pancake continued to cook. The chips were crunchy, not chocolatey.

Then the pancakes were dry. I had to add butter and I felt the need for syrup to make them more edible. That led to sickly-sweet breakfast food. I'm sure I consumed more sugar in that meal than I usually get in a week.
Additionally, no one ever refilled our drinks, came to check and see if the meal was OK or anything. Our waiter didn't even bring out the food. I saw him when we ordered and when he brought the check. I'm sure we got crappy service because we were two young chicks. At least Katie like her pancakes, but I know I won't miss this place.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Cooking with Kelly: Burgers on the grill

In the Midwest, we don't have a ton of days that are perfect for grilling. In my 10 years living in Libertyville, Ill., I'd say we get about 10 perfect days per year -- the rest we just get out there anyways to get our money's worth out of the grill.

Luckily, we were ready for one of those perfect days Saturday. We cooked hot dogs and burgers on our grill for a family lunch. Here are my mom's secrets for burgers on the grill.

Ingredients for four burgers:
1 pound 85 percent lean beef
salt and pepper
Lettuce leaves
Tomato, sliced
American cheese slices
Onions, pickles, sliced
Make four patties larger than the buns because they will shrink when cooking. Dust with salt and pepper. Put on the grill and baste the other side with ketchup to keep the burgers moist. The fat in the burger is what gets it flavor. Keep the grill cover closed as much as possible. Only turn the burger once and don't press down on it with your spatula -- this creates flair ups. If you want cheese on your burger, place one or two slices on the burgers while they're still cooking. When the meat is finished, let it rest in a foil-covered container for a few minutes to lock in juices. Place the patty on a warmed bun and top with all your favorites.
For more photos, visit here.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Free food: Diet 7-Up Challenge

My apologies for the lack of blogging -- I was in Holland, Mich., presenting a newspaper product to Morris Communications Co. as part of the Media Management Project here at Medill.

Anyhow, a few days ago, I got this curious package. It was postmarked from an address I didn't recognize and to be on the safe side, I opened it in the lobby. You never know what kind of wackos are out there. But instead of finding something obscene or otherwise, I got this little marketing beauty: the Diet 7-Up taste test challenge kit.

7-Up loves their new product so much that they're shelling out a ton of money to send potential customers a can of Diet 7-Up, Sierra Mist Free and Sprite Zero. They even give you an instruction sheet on how to conduct a blind taste test. 7-Up wants you to chill the box for at least one hour, take out three glasses, mark each one with a letter, have people randomly taste them, then tally up the scores.
I didn't not do it so randomly. The first time around, I'll admit, I did think 7-Up had the better lemon-lime flavor. It was crisp and refreshing compared to the other two. But on further inspection, I thought they tasted all the same. My classmate Matt Bigelow pointed out the fact that drinking all of these beverages is pointless: they have no caffeine or calories. What makes it any better or different than water? It's just fizzy and probably eats away at your tooth enamel anyways.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Kelly's kitchen finds: Boxed wine gets top-shelf treatment

Franzia is not a product one can savor. Nor is it a product the vast majority of adults consume, or even buy in a regular store without worrying if they might run into a neighbor.

Target wants consumers to come out of the closet about boxed wine. From the superstore that has made everything from Isaac Mizrahi shoes to bridal gowns cheap chic, Target brings another option. For $15.99, the store serves up wine "cubes" (not cardboard boxes.) The three-liter boxes come in a variety of flavors and serve up the equivalent of four bottles of wine. There is also a 1.5-liter $9.99 model.

What I find so interesting about the product is the marketing. Target not only carries this product, but I found it on an endcap at the front of an aisle towars the front of the door. They want adults to check out this product and not be ashamed that they are purchasing boxed wine. Also, the Target Web site about this product explains that the packaging (usually associated with subpar wine) helps preserve the wine for up to a month, right in the fridge.

Target has to foresite to market this product with accessories as if it was an iPod. Yet again, instead of relegating this product to the back shelf of your fridge, Target wants consumers to bring it to the table using a wrought-iron cube stand. Or, place it on the edge of a table with a black leather-like cover. Or, take it to a party using the neoprene cube cooler, available in both the 3- and 1.5-liter cube. Another smart part of these accessories that I'm sure Target thought about was that if you buy the accompanying items, which are branded with the cube logo and currently fit no other boxed wine product, the cosnumer is much more likely to come back and buy the product again.

Too bad I can't tell you what they taste like -- I wasn't really in a wine mood. But I'm certainly curious and may have to try the Australian Shiraz or perhaps the Reisling, which will debut in the fall.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Cooking with Kelly: Dip-able party foods

I love parties, and I especially love party foods. Appetizers are just fun because they're designed to let you taste many different foods in small amounts. In about a week, I will be westward bound for Arizona to spend the summer interning at Inside Tucson Business for Wick Communications. So Tim, the diligent boyfriend that he is, threw me a wonderful going away party.
I, because I like to cook, made up far more food than my friends could eat, despite telling them to come hungry. What you see in the foreground is a taco dip that probably has more than seven layers, technically. In the background is a chili cheese dip. And on the left is store-bought salsa, spinach dip and guacamole -- life is too short for me to try and make all that.
So, for the taco dip you need:
Two cream cheese packages
1 packet taco seasoning
1 can refried beans
1/4 cup prepared salsa
1 bunch sliced green onions
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 tomato, diced
2 cups shredded lettuce
1/2 cup sour cream
Chopped cilantro for garnish, optional
Mix together the cream cheese and taco dip. Then layer them in a large baking pan in that order, picking produce that suit the layer of spice you're striving for. Chill together for a few hours and serve with tortilla chips.
And then the chili cheese dip:
2 packages of cream cheese
2 cans hormel chili without beans
2 cups shredder cheddar cheese
Layer these in another large pan. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes or until the cheese melts and it's heated throughout. Serve with tortilla chips, Wheat Thins or Fritos (I like Tostitos scoop chips).
As for the store bought items, I topped them with tomatoes, chopped scallions and cilantro to make them look appetizing and a little more fresh. I served all of this up with Tostitos, Wheat Thins and homemade tortilla chips (that I bought from a restaurant).
While it was a quiet night, no one went home hungry.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Cooking with Kelly: BBQ Chicken bites

Originally uploaded by kelly_mahoney26

Because I had leftover chicken, BBQ sauce and mozarella, I tried to make something different. For this recipe, you need: four chicken cutlets, pancake mix, barbecue sauce, oil for frying, a tomato and a handful of shredded mozarella.

I marinated chicken chunks over night in barbecue sauce. Then, I dredged then in dry pancake mix. Next, the got a dip in a batter of pancake mix, barbecue sauce and water mixed to the consistency to pancake batter.

Then they fried in the oil for about three minutes. What you see in the photo is what was left after several, several tries. First, there wasn't enough oil and the pan wasn't hot enough. Then, the batter was too thick. Finally, I realized that my stove isn't really level, so I had to work around the fact that certain parts of the pan were hotter than others.

The side dish is just a tomato cut into wedges with a little bit of cheese on top. I put it under the broiler for a few minutes, until the tomato was soft and the cheese was melted.

All in all, the food was worth the effort. The chicken was crunchy and had a distinct, smoky barbecue taste. The tomato was delicious and didn't even need the cheese.

For future reference, I'll use a smaller pan so the heat is better distributed.

Check out more photos here.