Leggo my Russian apples

(Craig’s Cuts is not a food place.)

So this week, I wanted to do something new for the Provo Food Blog: try to make food from a recipe that I’ve never tried before and post a how-to/step-by-step guide on how to do said recipe. Turns out, this was a bad idea. Apparently, if you’re going to teach someone how to do something, you need to be able to do it competently yourself. Oops.

So, first off, I was given a mission cookbook my first day in Russia. In my mission, missionaries didn’t eat with members very often, so if you wanted to eat good, y’all had to learn to do it yourself. I assume the cookbook was compiled by some senior sisters or the APs because most of the recipes are American, but there is a section of Russian recipes.

On my mission, I decided I would try to make one new recipe a week so that I could try new things and learn how to cook. Well, it’s been nearly four years since the Russia Samara Mission Cookbook and I first met, and I’ve gone from making lots of crappy cooking mistakes to getting as good at cooking as sharks are at having black, soulless eyes.

Anyway, whoever compiled this cookbook (whether it was senior sisters or some lousy APs) didn’t completely realize they were writing it for missionaries in Russia who can’t find many American ingredients a lot of the time (like Worcestshire sauce or cornmeal) and don’t have fancy kitchen appliances (like mixers).

As such, after I make a recipe, I write in the margins any adjustments I would do, like extra ingredients, substitute ingredients, a variation in cooking time, etc. It makes me feel like Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince when I do it, so I’m not planning on stopping any time soon.

One of my first dishes: Hawaiian Chicken with flour substituted for cornstarch, tangerine slices substituted for orange slices, and no pineapple chunks because Elder Olsen don’t like those (in Balakovo, Russia!).

Anywayz, so off to why this week’s recipe didn’t turn out so good.

I was working in the Russian section of the cookbook, making a dessert called “Apples Under Snow.” I’d never heard of it/had it before, butt it was in the cookbook, so I was going to make it! I assume that it was supposed to be a baked apple delight with crust on the bottom, apples in the middle, and white frosting on top. That’s not how it turned out.

First, I was supposed to “peak” egg whites. I’d never separated eggs before and I didn’t know what “peak” meant, so I googled how to do both. Eggs can be separated by cracking an egg in half, then pouring out the white into a bowl while leaving the yolk in the shell (or you can just crack the eggs into a bowl and pull the unbroken yolk out with your hands … I won’t tell you which method I chose).

As for peaking egg whites, apparently you’re just supposed to beat them really hard until they’re white and foamy and stand up a bit when you pull the whisk out. Also, apparently you’re supposed to use an electric mixer to do this, cuz I used a whisk and my muscles, but after a half hour of beating, all I got was half runny egg whites, half foamy (butt nott peaked) egg whites.

Second, the recipe said to make the dough by combining two and a half sticks of butter (actually, it said 250 grams, but I rounded it to two and a half sticks) with three tablespoons of flour. Needless to say, my dough looked like this:

If that looks like a bunch of butter greased to the bottom of a cooking pan, it’s bacuz it iz.

The rest of it went okay. I added cinnamon to the apples because I’m Merican and I know how to make a grood appo pie.

The frosting on top was supposed to be the peaked egg whites mixed with a crapton of sugar, so I took my almost-peaked egg whites and mixed it with the crapton of sugar.

The recipe also told me to freeze a little bit of the dough, then grate it on to the top of everything before I baked it. I thought that was weird, butt then I thought, “Russia,” and I did it anyway.

Last, the recipe told me to bake for thirty minutes at 400 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. I thought that might be a little too high/a huge gap between temperatures, butt again I thought, “Russia,” and did it anyways. After smelling what I thought was burning, I turned the temp down to 350 and shortened the baking time a bit.

Now, I’m not sure if the egg white/sugar thing was supposed to puff up and be fluffy and white (like snow), but everything just turned brown/blackish in the end. Maybe the recipe should have been called “Apples Under Black Mold.”

The crust turned into a bunch of melted butter/crumble-like stuff (you can see it glistening in the bottom of the pan in the pic) and the egg white/sugar combo caramelized all along the edge of the pan and all over the apples. The apples baked perfectly and were super soft and moist. Obviously, with the crapton of sugar and butter, this stuff tasted great, but was a mess to clean up afterward.

I ate mine on top of ice cream, which I think is probably the best way to eat anything. And, since I’m such a good brother, I shared with my sister and her huzbond.

They really liked it too.
After making this recipe, I googled “Apples Under Snow” to see how to do it the right way. Turns out, the Internet doesn’t even know about this recipe, leading me to think that it may not a real Russian recipe/a real recipe at all. Oh you sneaky sneaky senior sisters/lousy APs.

Burrito monster in my stomach

Let me tell you: I love rice and beans, but they don’t love me, especially when they’re mizzed with hot sauce.

This week I took a little excursion to a place on the east side of Provo ironically called West Mountain Burrito (I don’t know whether it’s named after a mountain around here or what, but the mountains in Provo are definitely to the east if you ask me).

This place is spankin’. It’s located where the Awful Waffle used to be, but unlike the Awful Waffle, it actually has seating arrangements with a fancy covering to protect eaters from the sun, rain, hail, snow, thunder, lightning, rain mixed with hail, snow mixed with hail, thunder with lighting, thunder with rain, rain with lighting, and all other sorts of weather.

A special highlight of MWB is the artwork along the eatery area. I heard that some crazy cool rocker art dude did it, but I just googled it to find out for sure, and I didn’t get no info about it (what the h, Meredith?!!). I like it, though, because it reminds me of leaves reflecting off the surface of a pond onto the ceiling or wall of something next to the pond.

This place was a little bit fancy: the food here is locally grown and organic. When I’m eating out, I don’t really care too much about healthiness, butt I can roll with it when it tastes good.

On this trip, nobody accompanied me, but I wasn’t lonely or nothin’: I sat next a trash can and that was good enough for me.

Food here comes in three different sizes: mini, regular, and giant. Mini is probably as much as you should eat, regular is for those want to go the extra mile, and giant is for those people who really don’t know what’s good for them.

Even though it’s a burrito place, I ordered the regular Chicken Chimichanga.

The chimichanga was stuffed with brown rice, pinto beans, cheese, and (b-duh) chicken with a big ol’ scoop of pico de gallo on the side. For an extra dollar, I went deluxe and got sour cream, GUUUUUUACAMOOOOOOLE!, and salsa on the side because if I have the choice of living with or without avocado, I choose with. It’s just the kind of person I am. And I was given a complimentary side of hot sauce by the lovely cash register girl (service here was great, by the way).

If you’re a hot sauce lover, you’ll love this stuff: it’s literally the devil. Made from jalapenos that grow in the deserts of the sun, it tasted like someone sandpapered my tongue, poured acid on the inside of my cheeks, and punched a hole in the roof of my mouth with a rhino tusk. I wasn’t a huge fan of it, but crazy hot sauce lovers might be.

The rest of the chimichanga was pretty chill. It was just rice and beans wrapped in a deep-fried tortilla. The flavor was very simple. The seasonings were not overdone at all. I mean, it’s an organic chimichanga, so it’s not gonna be too cray-cray bursting with all sorts of crazy things or else it would explode whilst it was being deep fried and that would be gross. Even so, I wish I had ordered something else.

The guac, salsa, and sour cream were really good and qualit-tay. They were welcome additions: the guac and salsa added more flavour and the sour cream toned down the devil hot sauce.

I meant to take another shot halfway through eating to show you guys how “artistic” and foodsy I am, but I got in the zone while I was eating and I forgot to, so I just took an after shot.

So overall, I wouldn’t get the chimichanga or devil hot sauce again, but I would give Mountain West Burrito another chance.

On my way home a saw a restaurant called Craig’s Cuts. I think maybe it’s a rib place? I’ll have to go there next week.

Chicago meats my mouth

What has two thumbs and went to Cubby’s yesterday?

This guy did.

Cubby’s lives right next to Little Caesar’s and the Coffee Pod. Despite it’s janky location, it’s actually kind of a swanky place to eat. I saw old people, fat people, muscular people, skinny people, pretty people, little people, and cool people while eating there. Needless to say, it caters to a lot of tastes.

The specialty here is MEAT, specifically Chicago-style BEEF. What does that mean? I don’t even know, but I do know that Chicago is the capital of Illinois.

I went with my two sisters, their husbands, and my niece and nephew. My favorite one in the company was my niece because she was the cutest and she let me hold her.

Sister #1 was all like, “I’m gonna get the Cockadoodledoo Sandwich,” (grilled chicken sandwich with greens, Swiss cheese, grilled onions, tomatoes, and avocado) and I thought that sounded totally good because I’m wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy partial to avocado, but I didn’t want to be a copycat, so I ordered the the Portabella Sandwich (beef burger with marinated and grilled portabella mushroom, grilled onions, greens, tomatoes, and pesto sauce) with rosemary pepper fries.

Let me tell you: I really liked what I ate. It was so good. The beef was way flavorful, but not gross/juicy/raw. I also liked the spidnach mixed in with the greens. It was just a teeny bit surprising and it made the texture of the burger a little bit different from other burgers. I also liked the mushrooms (homeboy served in Russia: got nothin’ against mushrooms, they’re just a vehicle for more butter). The marinade on them was a teensy bit sweet, but it didn’t ruin the overall taste or nothin’. And the grilled onions were perfect: crunchy and oniony. Dang fetch.

The rosemary fries were okay: a hint of rosemary with a satisfying smack of pepper on potato fries.

BUTT: Bro-in-law #1 ordered the sweet potato fries (which I def sampled) and them things were good: crinkle-cut for so to get more fry sauce in each dip and THICK for more chewing action. Gordy liked them and wished he had ordered them instead.

While I didn’t eat everything on the menu, I received satisfactory reports from my fam about the Original Mr. Beef Sandwich (that thing was LONG: Bro-in-law #2 couldn’t finish), the Cockadoodledoo Sandwich, and the Apple Chicken Pecan Salad (sister #2 LOVED the candied pecans).

Thinking about this food makes me want to spend money and eat it again, BUTT I’m too cheap/healthy to do that.  But if Chicago tastes like anything that Cubby’s tastes like, I want to visit it in my mouth some day.