Saturday, December 31, 2016

The 2016 Tucson Homeskillet Year In Review

OK, so 2016 has gotten a pretty bad rap this, well, year, mainly because it took so many celebrity lives. You know, Prince, Mrs. Brady, Snape, Princess Leia, her mom...and some others apparently. Yeah, that sucks when someone you admire and has been in your life for so long passes but for us here at the Homeskillet, we actually had a pretty banner year.

This was the year where this lil' dopey blog started to break, in a manner of speaking. We went from just a few hits to a bit more hits. That alone is reason to celebrate! Our likes on social media went to literally none to almost some. Hot doggers! And we owe our success to you guys, the readers, the followers and the believers.

Thank you for believing in the Tucson Homeskillet.

So to look back on a most eventful and delectable year, we compiled the most popular and talked about posts and how they all came about. This should be fun, right? Right.

2017 should be just as awesome if not more so because Metal Mark is now the new food guy for the Tucson Weekly. So we are up to the challenge of eating all of the foods. How thrilling!

Anyway, you ready to get this year in review thingy started? Because we are.

Cool. Here we go...


January started off with a bang as we gave you some suggestions on how to cure your hangover from various remedies across the globe which then segued into a piece about Metal Mark's lifelong obsession with the pastrami sandwich. 

But the highlight and most hits came from our blog about the world losing both Lemmy from Motorhead and David Bowie. That was a big shock for everyone. Still is. 

Okay, officially Lemmy died in 2015...ON METAL MARK'S BIRTHDAY! Yep. As the crew settled down for some birthday libations, the notice came out that Lemmy died and we all got even drunker than usual. Then as 2016 rolled in, Bowie called out. Not the best way to start a year.

So what we did was find recipes that were inspired by both iconic artists. David Bowie loved shepherd's pie and Lemmy loved cold spaghetti and we think we did alright with the recipes we found. 

Not to mention we told you how to make the "David Bowie" cocktail and, of course, the Lemmy (Jack and Coke). This was a really fun post and we are so stoked that you liked it as much as we had fun writing about it.  


We at the Homeskillet are far from being vegan but we do like delicious food and we do love us some Black Metal. So when Brian Manowitz (aka the Vegan Black Metal Chef) came out with his own cookbook you know we had to get our greedy mitts on this thing.

The recipes he supplies will make you forget you are eating a dish that has absolutely no animal products in them. With the use of spices, sauces and ingenious components, the Vegan Black Metal Chef takes you on a worldwide journey of flavor all the while invoking the darkness of foreboding lore at the same time being funny as all heck. 

This is a cookbook that everyone needs but probably not everyone will get. We really can't see Aunty Myrtle cozying up to a recipe for aloo palak as the VBMC asks you to "stare into the abyss" while "unholy spirits" command you to add more ginger. 

We love it, we love him and obviously you loved this post. Yay!

*insert wailing banshee shriek here, but...all happy like*


We literally just drove by this place on Stone Avenue and went "Whaaa?"

Not hearing anything about it; no notices or twitters, we slammed on the brakes, stepped inside and decided to see and eat for ourselves. 

Luckily, Yogi's was awesome and we have been back a few times not just for their cuisine but for their vegetables and goods as well. This place rules and we are so happy that they are doing well. 

The food at Yogi's is lighter than most other Indian restaurants in town, and that's what we love about it. Each dish just has a airy freshness to it and when you want to gorge or delicious Indian food (as we usually do) it's nice to come out of it feeling nourished as opposed to feeling like you want to food nap for a few hours. 

So if you are in that area and have a craving for some delicious Indian food (as you should) step into Yogi's and say that you heard about them from the Tucson Homeskillet. Then the Bhati family will just look at you funny and be all "Um...sure."

Trust us here. 


April was an awesome month. It was the month where we discovered Manna From Heaven Indian fry bread tacos, ate at the wildly overrated Blake's Lotaburger and explained why we don't like covering downtown eateries. There was a lot going on but the post that took the prize that month was our ode to the Omar sandwich.

The Sausage Deli offers up a ton of delectable treats served between bread but the Omar is an entity all its own. It sounds pretty simple when you break it down: turkey, salami, Swiss cheese, onions, peppers, mustard and Italian dressing, but when you bite into it you know you are eating something special.

We love the Omar so much we took it to the fair, for a beer, to an Iron Maiden concert and then finally let the Homeskillet's own compound cat, Lil' Poundcake, get in on the action.

It was a grand day out with one of the grandest sandwiches Tucson has to offer and we are so happy that you guys liked the post as well.



It is well known that we are food truck obsessed. Some of our best posts have been because of the efforts and cuisine from the various carts, trucks and trailers set up serving absolute deliciousness. 

In May we confessed to our inclination to Bam Bam's Korean / Mexican fusion. Oh dear lord, is their food fantastic. 

Owned and operated by Fernando Sanchez, a Tucson native that was raised in Mexico, he is able to meld together the tang, spice and elegance of two rather different regions only to fuse them into a savory journey that we still just can't get enough of. The tacos, the yakisoba noodle dishes the...everything, is just divine. We have yet to have a bad dish from him and his truck. 

Lately Bam Bam can be found by the Flycatcher on 4th most nights, so when you're in the vicinity and need some amazingness in your life, Fernando will clearly set you up. 

So good.


Our favorite go-to bar, Danny's, always gets a good supply of food trucks and we were lucky to feature a good amount of them for this site. But one truck that stood out for us was The Bronx Tale. 

Run by the gentle giant of a man, Michael Eure, Bronx Tale dishes out some "New York" style BBQ and the few items he does offer are simply exquisite. 

The ribs are saucy and fall apart at the bone, the pork sliders are tender and juicy but what we really fawn over is his catfish sliders. 

Not too sure if it is the seasoning, the crunchy yet creamy slaw or what but these things are addictive. His mac 'n cheese is rich and heavenly as is his strawberry cornbread which we can't decide if it's a dessert or a meal unto itself. Doesn't matter. 

So when you see the usually hidden red truck with the little sign that reads "BBQ", you need to pull over and get your face into that mess. And its a good mess. Its a New York saucy mess. 

And thanks for reading and sharing this post. It was almost as fun writing about him as it was eating his food. Yum.


It was summertime and things were heating up, even though there wasn't a whole lot of new stuff to write about, food wise that was.

Luckily Tucson's own competitive eating champ Michelle "Cardboard Shell" Lesco hung out with us at Boca Tacos n Tequila and we chatted about what it takes to take down 40 hot dogs in 10 minutes, how one gets into the competitive eating circuit and how the heck does someone stay so skinny when they eat the Lindy's OMFG burger on a regular basis. 

Michelle was awesome, we became good friends and best of all she invited us to come along and try to accomplish some of the other food challenges around town. We still have yet to take her up on it but perhaps in the new year we will be brave enough to take down a 5 lbs burrito or hot wings that register just off of the "are you fxxking kidding me" scale in Scoville units. 

Don't give up on us Michelle. It's just that we need to train for those challenges just like you do before heading off to Coney Island for the Nathan's eating event. 

Does drinking beer and marathoning old VH1 elimination game shows like "Rock of Love" and "America's Most Smartest Model" count as 'training'? 

We hope so... 


When we eat garbage food the general public seems to, um, eat it up. Every time we gather around to ingest sandwiches infused with flaming hot crap or seasonal shakes that taste like minty toothpaste, the few that click on this here blog go a little nuts. 

This time we ate potato chips that were flavored like tzatziki, szechuan chicken, tikki masala and Brazilian spit meat. All we can say is that, didn't go so great. Not that we didn't have fun trying them, we sure did, but the flavor combos on those chips were like dusty, curdled waves of horror. But that's the nature of the food blogging biz. Sometimes you eat the deliciousness and then sometimes you eat the toilet that the delicious food eventually winds up in.  

Luckily for us we were able to hand off these bags of crispy swill to some rather intoxicated suckers, uh....customers down at the end of the bar and leave with a scant amount of dignity. 

Don't try this at home kids. Leave the garbage food eating to the pros...


And speaking of garbage food. Holy god forsaken crap for crap!

The friggin' Whopperito. 


We ate two of these things. We are not proud of it. We went a little insane.

Can we move on from this one please?





It's always sad to see one of your favorite places to grab a bite to eat totally eat it. 2016 was fraught with all sorts of closures and we tracked down a few and told you our feelings about them.

We were totally convinced that the Orenccio's fast casual concept on Campbell Ave would make it but it shut down like a week after opening with a cease and desist note on the front door. Yikes.

Tokyo Rice Bowl was awesome as was Cali Grill (sometimes) but the one we are totally fine with being gone was La Fuente because, man, we never had a good experience there.  Sorry, we know it was open for many years but the food will not be missed.

Hopefully 2017 will be a little more forgiving on some of our favorite eateries, unless its that place where we ate the "Best Burger and Burrito in Tucson" because that poo hut has got to go.

Just saying... 


November kind of slowed down a bit because of the oncoming holidays, Metal Mark going full throttle with the Tucson Weekly and various other distractions. We did get a chance to review the new cookbooks from Marcus Samuelsson and Anthony Bourdain, which was cool, but the one post in November that garnered a ton of hits (aka, more than 23) was our votes on who should have gotten the Best Of in Tucson.

Not to knock his new gig but every year the Tucson Weekly puts out the "best of" which is totally voted by the reading public. A lot of the winners were fine but a big majority, especially in the food and eating department, we just had to speak up against and give our nods to. 

It just feels as if a majority of readers vote for the same ol' places because its what they know and its what they are comfortable with. Now that Tucson is a food destination and the first official "US city of gastronomy", the way we eat and how it is served up is changing...big time. 

So look back and see what you think. Thank you again for all of the shares and comments. 


To round out a most sumptuous year we hung out with our good pal Erik "Chili" Hulten and his hot dog cart the Sausage Fest. This guy not only runs our home away from home but he comes up with some enticing combos and fits it all on some squishy buns.

Squishy buns!

Anyway, so the next time you are at Danny's or various events about town you need to stop by the Sausage Fest and eat one of his creations that usually involve lots of bacon, IPA infused 'kraut, fried green tomatoes, his secret chili (hence the nickname) and most importantly Chili's house made pickles. So good and such a good guy.

Thanks again for making 2016 a fantastic, fun and food filled year. We are looking forward to another year of eating, drinking and writing all about it. 

You guys rule.


Camera, Typing and Looking Back
"Metal" Mark Whittaker
New Years Eve, 2016

Metal Influence:


Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Hot Dog Hustle

As you probably already know, if you know us or have been reading this blog for a while, we tend to hang out at our neighborhood bar, Danny's Baboquivari, on most given evenings. It is our transition from work mode to house mode and we are friends with most of the staff there. If you are lucky, you should have a Danny's in your life as well. It's just our place you know.

You know.

Anyway, to make things even more cool about Danny's is that co-owner Erik "Chili" Hulten has purchased an old food cart, fixed it up real awesome and serves up some of the best hot dogs and brats in town. Now that the cool evening weather is here, you need to get to Danny's, order up a real honest drink and dig into Chili's amazing food.

How this guy does it - runs a business, raises a family, goes on food adventures with us AND now operates a hot dog cart - we just don't know.

But we are glad he does.

Chili in full servin' it up action

There are hot dog carts all over Tucson, and we like a decent amount of them, but something about Chili's dogs that we are kind of obsessed over. Sure he's a good friend and, yeah, maybe we're giving him some preferential praise, but, c'mon, the man is a beardy wizard when it comes to creating delicious condiments and combinations.

But we think it's his pickles.

Oh man. Chili's pickles are some of the best we have ever had the pleasure to suck down on a warm summer night or brisk autumn afternoon. Not quite dill, not exactly bread and butter, sorta fridge style but...not really. They are crisp, tangy and best of all sometimes really spicy. If you get a particular chip that is nestled next to a jalapeno....hoo doggies! That's some heat for yo face and butt. But we love it and he always serves them on the side of his delectable creations.

But not just dogs, oh no. The man grills up some serious bratwursts as well. Man style. This is manly food for manly people who want manly meat logs in buns. Chili doesn't fool around. No sir. You see, he's manly. His height, girth and beard should prove that.

When you've got dogs that are slathered in peanut butter and finished with thick cut bacon, there is literally no going back. Why would you want to?

Here's the thing: Chili and his stand, the Sausage Fest, do not do Sonoran hot dogs. That was one decision he made early on seeing as you can get those here in Tucson from almost any cart on any corner.

On a "chili" night, you need these

"I just didn't want to do Sonoran style dogs," Chili says handing off a brat to a customer about to brave the crowds at the Winterhaven festival of lights across the street. "I just can't compete with the amount of those stands here in Tucson. So I just mix it up with different styles and toppings.

"At first the menu included various sausage options, like real exotic stuff such as rabbit sausage. I got a little ambitious. Turns out people just want really good quality hot dogs and bratwursts which I am totally fine with and I think provide.

(Ed.note : He does)

"This is a great creative outlet for me and it's really fun to feed people. I try to be at Danny's every Wednesday and would love to expand to events, festivals and parties, which I have occasionally but even more so. It's hard work but I love it."

Oh....I see what you did there. Funny. That's funny...

Danny's usually has a food truck parked in their lot but when a vacancy opens up Chili and Sausage Fest take over when they can. Lucky of us because the man comes up with delicious arrangements of toppings to go over his already tasty dogs.

"One of my more popular brats is called the East Coast. I make a roasted garlic cream cheese then top it with some caramelized onions. It's simple but really tasty. I've got a Reuben brat that has a home made sauerkraut that I infuse with an IPA beer and then finish with a tart 1000 dressing. So good.

"A favorite of mine is the Arizona BBQ dog where I include a bunch of bacon, thick bar-be-que sauce and two different styles of onions. That'll warm you up on a cold night after some cold beers. But one of my more ambitious brats is called the Cali. The thing is topped with arugula, more bacon, avocado and my own pesto mayo. It's interesting because there is a lot going on with that thing."

Yes we have tried them all and, yes, "interesting" is the key word here. And if by interesting you mean "Aww hellz yeah!"....then yes.

Super good food made by a super good guy.

A manly guy.

All aboard the tube meat train

The secret to Chili's brat and hot dog success just doesn't come in the form of sausages or fun and inventive toppings. For Chili, it's all about the buns.

"They have to be soft, they have to be big and, most importantly, they have to grill up perfect," he says as he applies his signature chili (hence the nickname) onto a brat that is steaming in the early winter evening. "Alejandro's on South 12th Avenue makes the best. Hands down. Now you know."

Now that you know where he gets his amazing buns (umm...that sounded weird) from, and that Sausage Fest is your next go to cart for a tasty brat or hot dog, we just wanted to know how it all came about in the first place.

"This cart was just sitting around, unused, so I bought it earlier this year. It used to be called Uncle Tom's Hot Dogs and, yeah, I wasn't going to use that. So the first order was to change the name. Short of buying a restaurant or a food truck, the cart allows me to financially try the food business. It's tough but it's also something one person can manage. So far so good. I'm having a blast."

Good, because we are having a blast eating your sausage and buns!

Wait. That sounded weird again...

Los pickles es muy caliente

To see where Chili and Sausage Fest are setting up next you can follow them HERE.

Most likely they will be in front of his other business, the one where you will most likely find us inside. And when Chili is grillin' up some of his super awesome treats, you will most likely find us with mustard and bacon bits on our faces.

It's what the man would want.

And we wouldn't have it any other way.


The man, the myth, the mustard

Camera, Typing and Eating
"Metal" Mark Whittaker
Middle of December, 2016

Metal Influence:

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Feeling At Home In The Shish Kebab House

Believe it or not it actually gets cold here in Tucson.

No, really.

The weather stream here in the Sonoran southwest can be pretty extreme. Like just a month ago we were in the 100s then, boom!, before you know it we are wearing jackets and turning on the heat at night. It can really be that quick of a temperature change. Where once our garden was suffering because of the beating heat and intense stare from the sun, a few weeks later we have to cover up the plants because of a freeze warning. It's pretty crazy.

It can even snow in Tucson.

No, really.

One of the first winters here since moving from California it actually snowed a bit in midtown Tucson and we made tiny snow people in the courtyard of our home with our then neighbors. That was like ten years ago and its has only flurried a few times since then. But, still!

It snowed.

Not that this day that we are blogging about now was anywhere near a wintery wonderland but...well, it was a lil' chilly.

So, there's that.

Come on in

The temperature of this particular day was probably somewhere in the high 50s or low 60s but because of the piercing wind it felt much colder than that. Plus it was really overcast. The usual blue sky was blanketed in a thick gray screen which doesn't happen a lot here. Late autumn/early winter was definitely upon us in the Old Pueblo and we needed to warm up a bit.

Finding ourselves near the Park Place mall on Broadway (for no real particular reason, we were just there, not shopping just...there) we took to our phones to see what we could find lunch wise that didn't come in food court form or some mega chain glop. Luckily we hit pay dirt.

Tasty tasty pay dirt.

Can we have some salad with our feta please?

The Shish Kebab House is a place we have been meaning to try out for quite some time and fortune smiled on us seeing as we are rarely in that neck of the woods. Craving some hearty grub and a spot to chill out in away from the chill, we walked into the little restaurant in a strip mall bookended by pizza joints to see what we could see. And eat. That was the most important part.

We were really hungry. Hopefully Shish Kebab House would not disappoint.

Happily, it totally did not.

Kafta Be Seyneyiah be amazing

Hate to use this word but, The Shish Kebab House is cute. Its cute! Just a few tables lining the length of the place with a bar prominent in the entrance, with a look and feel of an Arabic cafe, we took a seat near the window so we could stare out at the midafternoon gloom and gawk at people entering a pizza colossus with a roller coaster inside as we dined.

Wait. Did we make the wrong decision? Pizza AND a roller coaster? Oh man, we should really...

Oh. Nevermind. There's a kid's party going on and dads in golf shirts are hitting the Bud Lite pretty hard.

No, we're good. We're happy here.

Whew...that was a close one.

Gyros about to go down

We got the gyro platter, some salads and something called kafta be seyneyiah which is a Jordanian dish made with beef, lamb, potatoes and tomatoes. Sure. let's give it a whirl.

Yeah. It was incredible.

First off, the plates are huge. Not just the plates, but the food atop them. Heaping mounds of delicious seasoned meat, steaming and sizzling among the holiday shoppers wrapped up like Eskimos...but with cargo shorts. All of it succulent and divine.

We really wanted to try a traditional dish from Jordan called oozie (mainly because its called oozie) but we weren't in the mood for pine nuts which that recipe calls for. Made with rice, peas, lamb, beef, chicken, ton of spices and, yes, pine nuts this dish is ginormous and we will definitely try it next time we are here.

Just not a fan of pine nuts. Eh. What are you gonna do?

Shish Kebab House also house makes their humus, falafel and offer a zatar pizza that we are sure will rival their neighbors. All the patrons in the place were silent yet happy, eating and thriving on the savory goodness of very generous portions. The service was friendly, the music was lively and mercifully muted and we left with full bellies and a lot of leftovers.

This is a place everyone should try. Plus there are a lot of vegetarian options so you can bring your picky yet conscious minded friends with you. The flavors and use of spices and ingredients were supple and well honed. The dressing for the salads were herby, bright and fresh over crispy greens and seasonal tomatoes. The meats were cooked to perfection and warmed us from the inside because once we got back outside we needed that Mediterranean influenced heat.

At first you might be put off by some of the prices (you will average about $10-15 per plate) but believe us it is well worth it. We had Shish Kebab House food for lunch and dinner and, yes, we could have had it for breakfast too.

So when you find yourself by the Park Place mall and want an incredible and very satisfying meal, do yourself a favor and avoid all of the corporate crap that tends to bottom feed near shopping areas and step inside Shish Kebab House. Even if it's not cold out it'll wrap you up in a warm pita blanket and give you visions of cous cous dancing in your heads.

Give Santa a shawarma to eat instead of some crappy cookies and milk. He deserves it even though he forgot to bring you at new iPhone thingy you wanted. Maybe next Xmas he will make all of your wishes come true, all because of the power of Shish Kebab House magnificence.

Gyro bless us, feta one...

You need the Shish Kebab House in your life right now

Camera, Typing and Eating
"Metal" Mark Whittaker
Early-ish December, 2016

Metal Influence:

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Salvation Came In The Form Of A Food Stand

"The day after Thanksgiving and all you can think about is eating more food?"



Ordering up the Maico goodness

You see, Thanksgiving is full of American tradition, as far as the spread is concerned.

There's the the turkey, usually, the stuffing/dressing, cranberry sauce (typically in the cylindrical form of the can is spawned from, with ridges still in the gelatinous glop), some potatoes, some green bean casserole, some drinks, some vaguely racist comment from your weird uncle, more drinks, more debates on who won the election, even more drinks, the dog gets into the pecan pie, you loudly slur to your mom and ask her why she never loved you, quick run to the booze store for more alcohol, grandma wont stop farting and the football team you bet on to win just lost. But there's gravy!

This is America. This is what most of us do on the third Thursday in November. It's a very bizarre right of passage but we do it anyway. Why?

Yeah we don't know either.

But the next day when you wake up devastated from the holiday's overdose of gluttony and grandpa's strangely dirty jokes, you need a serious pick me up. We know we did.

So on the third Friday in November, we drove over to a little food shed on 22nd Street to regroup and above all, recoup.

And we were glad we did.

Sort of like nachos but...not really

Maico Mexican Food is a funky little stand on 22nd between Park and South Tyndall Avenue. We have been meaning to come here for quite some time and after the debacle of the goings on the day previous we really needed some cold beer and good food.

Not that mom's cooking is bad it's just, well...she didn't make tacos did she?

Just a touch of citrus to the ceviche tostada

It was a really warm day. No, scratch was pretty hot. Like high 80s/low 90s hot. Unseasonably toasty for being late November. You even tried to convince your conspiracy theory cousin of yours that global warming is in full effect and all they did was shrug it off and blame the current president. Whatever. It was time to order up and set our post Thanksgiving blues on the stoop and forget about it all for a while.

At that time, Maico was our only friend.

Why wasn't this mentioned on Food Wars?

At Maico you order at the window then take a seat in their picnic-esque area to the side. It's all outdoor seating, which is great, but we were burned out and the sun was really beating on us. Luckily we found a fairly shady spot and took solace in its brief shelter and ice cold sodas from Mexico.

No beer here, that was a bit of a let down, but the fizz and caffeine from the caramel colored drink did perk us up a bit. Something about cola from across the border; it has a different taste to it, less sweet, more depth. Not too sure. We just prefer the bottled sodas from Mexico.

And here is a secret: They are not listed on the menu. But if you ask they will provide.

Beer will have to wait till later.

And we desperately wanted one. Or two. 

The Arizona burrito in all of its glory

We started off with just some chips and salsa. They were good. Not too sure if the chips are homemade but the salsa they have on the tables in red plastic ketchup squeezers was tangy and full of flavor. They come almost "nacho style", topped with cheese and a house pico de gallo, which helped get the stomach ball rolling as we knew some welcomed food sanctuary was about to be delivered.

The smiling and loud laughing guy that took our orders was also the one bringing the goods. As he plopped down our rather ambitious order all he could do was chuckle and say:

"All this stuff for just you three? I love it!"

You know what? We love him now.

The cabeza taco, so cheeky

At a place like Maico, if they offer a Sonoran hot dog, you get a Sonoran hot dog.

Kind of confused as to why theirs isn't in the competitive ring along with BK and El Guero Canelo, this sloppy meat log was divine. A good soft bun, the dog was cooked perfect and wrapped in thick bacon, with a smooth slather of various sauces, their version of that Tucson OG is right up there with some of the greats. Highly recommended.

The Arizona burrito was chock full of beef and potatoes and even after eating three different styles of potato at yesterday's dinner we were stoked to be trying Maico's version. Tender, full of vibrant life and heavy in the hand, their burritos made us forget that we were craving beer and made us food drunk instead.

All of the proteins, the chicken, pork and carne asada, were all cooked wonderfully and were seasoned correctly. Even if you have a not so decent cut of meat, it is always important to finesse what you got with skill and care. The guys at Maico did just that.

We also got their ceviche tostada, a specialty of the house apparently. Awesome. So bright and full of personality, the seafood was as un-fishy as you can get then finished with ripe avocados, we can see now why the dude at the window recommended it.

Thank you dude at the window.

We love you even more now.

The California burrito almost took us out...almost

Like most successful Mexican food stands Maico started out as a cart. Through time, test and tribulation, they finally got themselves a proper place right across the street from some tactical weapons outlet. So as you watch beefy dudes getting ready to pop off some rounds, you can chow down on some beefy tacos and burritos and leave the macho posturing to the guys not eating amazing food.

Maico is awesome and we will definitely be back for more. We highly suggest you try one of each because everything that we got was delicious and made us forget about the savage ravage aunt Myrtle gave to that turkey leg. It was quite violent and oddly erotic.

Thank you Maico Mexican Food! You now have the Tucson Homeskillet's badge of approval. we have such a badge? We don't. Oh...nevermind.

Then we're just going to have to give you a sincere Metal horns salute. That's about the same...right?


The lil' cart where it all began

Camera, Typing and Eating
"Metal" Mark Whittaker
The Last Friday in November, 2016

Metal Influence: 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

When Marcus And Anthony Came To Dinner

How can you not love Thanksgiving?

Its the one true day a year that you can get away with eating almost anything, all day long, and the best part is you have leftovers for like a month. Do you get sick of eating turkey after a week? Yeah, us either. That stuff goes with almost anything. Its a great lean protein that can be utilized in soups, stocks, casseroles, sandwiches and a ton of other options. You can use the stuffing/dressing a million different ways too. And green beans. And cranberry sauce. And...

You know what, we're just going to stop here because two new cookbooks have arrived just in time for the big day of feasting and giving thanks for doing so. We here at the Homeskillet are big fans of both cookbooks along with the chefs/authors as well.

The always engaging Marcus Samuelsson has finally given us a full rendition of what goes on in his Harlem restaurant Red Rooster and Anthony Bourdain breaks down his favorite recipes from all of his travels and time honored traditions in his first actual cookbook.

Plus Xmas is arriving quicker than you think so both of these food tomes would make an awesome gift for that fussy "foodie" home cook buddy of yours. Both of these books are unpretentious, a bit artsy but most importantly jammed with all sorts of fun ideas and innovative recipes.

Let's get started shall we?

"Red Rooster : The Cookbook"
By Marcus Samuelsson

We have been a huge fan of Marcus' for a long time now. It wasn't only his incredible rise to culinary power, but after reading his memoir, Yes, Chef, we kind of fell in love with him.

Lots of longtime Harlem residents have both praised and chastised Samuelsson for bringing his concept to a neighborhood that, at one time, was thought to be quite, um..."dubious". Now it seems because of Red Rooster and its upscale jazzy approach to soul food, it and he have invited other like minded chefs and business owners to join them. Some residents love that their neighborhood has gotten a well deserved face lift while others find it has become gentrified and with the new digs a new rent hike has come into place.

Whatever the case may be, Marcus Samuelsson can cook and by the character of his other works, the man can really write too.

Red Rooster is a departure from his other cookbooks, Marcus Off Duty or The Soul of a New Cuisine, which are more straight ahead cookbooks, where Red Rooster features more of the community that help build, inspire and support his iconic restaurant. The pictures are stunning, creating an air of musicality and swingtime style which go great along with the eclectic and savory recipes.

The book goes from some suggestions of the ingredients you will need to make a successful dish, advice on how to stock your pantry, tools you will want in the kitchen and a whole laundry list of tips, techniques and even music playlists to get you moving and cooking.

Red Rooster is very new Harlem and very Samuelsson which makes this one of our new favorite cookbooks of 2016.

As far as Thanksgiving is concerned you can find a slew, a slew!, of inspiration to make a memorable meal this year. And next year too if you like. Whatever man. It's your with it what you will.

We really like his "Bird Broth" recipe that infused white miso and jalapeno on a down home take on traditional ramen. There are also a ton of chicken recipes, such as hot wings and chicken and waffles, along with lamb and all sorts of fun ideas for a delicious yet uncommon family dinner.

His herb roasted turkey with cranberry gravy is delectable and smart. Using parts garam masala, lavender, ruby port and even prune juice, this one will surely turn heads as grandma pipes up "But this isn't the turkey I used to make!" followed by everyone rolling their eyes and sighing in relief.

And after the holiday has come to pass and you still have half a bird leftover, his recipe for a Thanksgiving banh mi is really fun. This time we use the livers and he walks you through a simple process of dusting the offal, deglazing your skillet and assembling the sandwich. It's pretty simple and a great way to use some parts you normally might throw away. Now we are not a huge fan of livers but this take changed our minds.

Or if you wanna cook short ribs for Thanksgiving he provides the recipe for the ones he made for the Obamas for their first inauguration. Using plum sauce, some horseradish and a few herbs, this one just feels, and tastes, like eight years of awesome. We plan on making these when whats his name takes office in January. We plan on fighting the power with the strength of good food.

At least they can't take that away from us.

Included in Red Rooster are playful cocktail recipes, delicious side dish options, appetizers and desserts. Sure, you'd expect all that from a normal cookbook, but what makes this one so special is the man behind your mouth watering.

Marcus Samuelsson was born in Africa, raised in Sweden, trained abroad and now calls New York his home. The influences from his life come alive on these pages and it makes you want to don a sharp suit, pick up a saxophone and blow soulfully into the night knowing that at the end of the jam session some blackened catfish, peanut bacon pork chops, curried goat stew and a strong house cocktail made with homemade ginger beer and black rum waits for you.

This book is vibrant, it is essential and best of all it has stories to tell.

You have to think; Marcus is a writer at heart. His memoir was so well done that it took our basic fandom to a new level of respect after reading it. Heartbreaking and captivating, Yes, Chef should be in the library of any food fan or cook.

There are so many narratives in Red Rooster that you almost feel as if you own a novel with a bunch of pictures in it rather than an elegant street smart book filled with innovative, sumptuous while at the same time hands on recipes to bring your family, and community, together.

This Thanksgiving do everyone you are cooking for a favor by picking up a copy of Red Rooster and see how many smiles you can muster up by giving them something new to both eat and think about.

Or give it as a Xmas gift. Either way.

Red Rooster rules.

"Appetites : A Cookbook"
By Anthony Bourdain

Now you all know Anthony Bourdain right? Yeah, of course you do. He's like super famous now. You've seen him on the TV on such shows as No Reservations, The Layover, Parts Unknown and various appearances on chef competitions and the like. He has traveled all over the world, probably several times over by now, and has a taste for real and sometimes debatable street food.

He likes to drink, he swears, he was a heroin addict, he's brash, he's funny and best of all the man can really frikkin' write. In some cases, and even according to him, Anthony Bourdain is a better writer than he was a chef and Bourdain was quite an accomplished chef so that's saying a lot.

So it's really cool that he actually wrote a cookbook and, yes, just like the guy that wrote it, it is intriguing, amusing, sometimes scary but best of all totally entertaining.

Basically if Anthony Bourdain is going to compose a cookbook, you know you can trust it.

This is a man that puts up with very little bullpucky and it comes across on his shows, in his writing and most importantly his food. Appetites is just another reflection of what he has bestowed upon the globe as far as his take on food and eating is concerned. Its full of candid, slightly insolent photographs, some teetering on the grim and near pornographic. The colors are as raw as the subject matters; chicken pieces, whole boars heads, steamy piles of red noodles served in helmets, bloody jujitsu gear, stuff like that.

Composed alongside these shots are recipes both fairly commonplace and extrinsic. You have wedge salads, Caesar salads even, deviled eggs, lasagne, sandwiches and so forth. But these are dishes that Bourdain deems worthy of writing about and putting his name on so you know the techniques and ingredients are not going to disappoint.

And they dont.

Of course, just like Marcus Samuelsson, Appetites is filled with all kinds of well crafted stories and anecdotes, most filled with profanity and blunt observations. But you expect this from the man. This is why we love him.

But we are not here just to blow smoke up Bourdain's bum, we want to talk turkey here. Thanksgiving turkey most importantly.

This is why Appetites works on so many levels and can be added to this here blog post.

Bourdain has a whole section in his book totally dedicated to doing a Thanksgiving that will be not only tasty but relatively stress free.

Here's how he does it:

Bourdain breaks down what you need to do for a successful Thanksgiving in three days, all of which should start about a week before the actual event.

Day 1 is buying all of the stuff you will need: vegetables, herbs, butter, oil, bread, seasonings, etc etc. And this is where things get awesome: He suggests buying two birds instead of just the one. Yes. He has one called the "stunt turkey", this is the smaller version that is on display for the family and can be used for sandwiches and stock later. Then there is the "business turkey" which is the actual turkey you will be serving. It's a bigger version of its stunt double and will already be sliced and dealt with when family arrives.

Clever huh?

Day 2 is making stock into gravy, assembling and baking the stuffing, making his cranberry relish (whole orange, some cranberries and sugar...that's it) and putting it in the fridge and, of course, knocking out all of your side dish prep. This way when the third Thursday in November rolls around all you gotta do is keep everything warm, keep everyone happy and get into the Thanksgiving nog.

Is there a Thanksgiving nog? We sure hope not.

Day 3 is roasting the stunt turkey, finishing the side dishes, roasting and dismantling the business turkey, fixing the stuffing to your liking, making the stunt turkey look all pretty and displaying the business turkey in a delightful manner.

The side dish recipes are awesome: Robuchon (use a ricer) style mashed potatoes, creamed pearl onions, candied sweet potatoes and bacon-y Brussels sprouts.

If you follow the simple rules that Bourdain lays out then your Thanksgiving should be fairly tension free. Unless uncle Jeb gets into the horse liquor again and starts chanting old Polynesian naughty limericks to the kids then you might have a problem there.

Appetites as well as Red Rooster are simply fantastic cookbooks by simply fantastic chefs that can really write as well.

We love both the chef's take on Thanksgiving, or at least components that could be construed as Thanksgiving, and it is up to you to find inspiration from both Samuelsson and Bourdain to make a memorable holiday feast.

But as both authors say, its good to have have a razor sharp and heavy chef knife, always have a "mise en place" (everything in place) in your kitchen ready to go (salt, pepper, oils, spices, onions, garlic, etc) and always have some kind of music playing. This is important to keep the rhythm of the cooking and maneuvering around the kitchen like a schizophrenic ballet more enjoyable.

But is it safe to cook while listening to Thrash Metal?

We are about to find out.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Camera, Typing & Eating
"Metal" Mark Whittaker
The Week Before Thanksgiving, 2016

Metal Influence: