Chilebrown at home

Wednesday, December 31, 2008


What is Malfatti? Malfatti was, and continues, to be Ms. Goofy's favorite pasta(?) dish. We used to travel to Napa Valley, California with one destination in mind, the"Depot" This restaurant was a small 'Italian Family Style' establishment housed in an old building that sort of looked like a Train Depot. It was very popular for its good , inexpensive, and plentiful food. Clemente Citonni and his Brother owned and ran the joint. The Brother was the bartender, Citonni's Daughter was the host and the rest of the Family helped out. It was a family affair. They also had a thriving 'To- Go" business that ran out of the back door. You would have to bring your own containers to hold all the great Malfatti , Ravioli. and Sauce. Unfortunately they closed a couple of years back.

You are probably still wondering, What is Malfatti? Malfatti translated from the Italian language means, "'Poorly made', 'Mistake '". In this case it is the filling of ravioli with out the pasta. It is a spinach and flour mixture that is boiled and served with a sauce and grated cheese. It is a delicate and filling dish both . The Chilebrown kitchen has tried to duplicate the expertise of Clemente Citonni with un-stellar results.


Hallelujah!, Clemente and his Daughter Angie have returned to Napa to make their famous Malfatti and other Italian dishes to take home. They have created a space in Val's in Napa. It is only a couple of blocks from the original location. This small kitchen turns out Pasta, Minestrone, Gnocchi, Spaghetti, etc, and sauce too. Everything is 'To-Go' and bringing your own container is encouraged.


Tonight, We are having Malfatti and Ravioli accompanied with a Heritage Porterhouse Pork steak from the Fatted Calf. (Only a couple of blocks away). It will be grilled over a mesquite fire. This will be a dinner from the 'Depot Memory Lane'. The only thing missing will be Clemente's Brother telling us jokes from behind the bar!

Saturday, December 27, 2008


The Chilebrown Household is very lucky to have good friends. Ray, a friend, for 28 years, makes Tamales every year at Christmas time for his family and friends. We are the recipients of these special Mexican Holiday Treats. These are the real deal. They are made with Love and Years of practice. Once you have a taste you will be in Masa Heaven! They will be served with some homemade
refried pinto beans drenched in 'Nueske' bacon fat and salt. Some fresh Salsa, that Ray made will also accompany these Yummy treats.

We are very Lucky. This was some serious good food. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Prime Rib, not really. Choice Rib Medium Rare. It does not get any better. Leftovers for the week!
Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


I cannot sleep. Did I get the new barbeque? Is Ms. Goofy going to like her new lawnmower? What the Hell is a sugarplum? Peace, Paul


We have never needed an excuse to have beef with dinner. A large roast is always welcome in the Chilebrown household. Christmas time is traditionally celebrated with a Prime Rib Roast at our home. It also helps that our local supermarket puts them on sale at this time of year. Our local store has Choice Rib Eye Bone-in Roast for 5.99/pd on sale this week. It is usually a good idea to order in advance, because sometimes they sell out. This conversation actually took place when I ordered our roast. The names have been changed to protect the "Intelligence Challenged"

IDGIT..... Hello, 'Acme Superstore Meat Department', How may I help you?

MMG ........Hi, I would like to order a 6 pound Rib Eye Roast for the 24th.

IDGIT..... How many bones will that be?

MMG...... I am not sure, I would like 6 pounds please.

IDGIT...... You have to tell me how many bones.

MMG........ Okay, How much does one bone weigh?

IDGIT....... I do not know. How many people do you want to feed?

MMG........ We want to feed 2 but we want a lot of leftovers.
IDGIT...... You know that is an awful lot of meat for two people, Have you
ever considered cutting down on your red meat consumption.

MMG...... Your kidding right, Who put you up to this? I would like
to order a 6 pound roast. Why don't you ask somebody to help
You, Okay!

IDGIT .....Please, Hold

IDGIT.... Okay your 3 bone roast will be ready on the 24th. Oh, and have a
nice day.
MMG .....Thankyou, and Merry Christmas.

Well the Roast was picked up and it is a 7 pound, 3 bone beauty. Ordering the roast was a little challenging for some parties. Have a great Christmas Eve. See you tomorrow!

Saturday, December 20, 2008


The following pictures will be a day in the life of Chilebrown and Ms. Goofy at our Christmas best.. This is our version of a Christmas Carol. We went to the Dickens' s Faire in San Francisco, California. We met Scrooge and all of his characters from the past. We then went to the Tornado for the present. We partaked in a few Christmas Beers. Anchor Steam Christmas Ale and Drakes Holiday Ale. The Tornado has a huge selection of beers. So many beers and so little time. The future was the leftovers that we would get from Memphis Minnies. This is our favorite barbeque joint on the West Coast. A Christmas Carol that we enjoyed!!

Dickens Faire Meat Pies
Uncle Beezlebob
Tornado Beer List
Anchor Christmas AleCleanup Crew
Pork Rolls
It was a fun day, Past , Present and Future.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008


Last Saturday, We made a trek to the Ferry Plaza with some fellow food bloggers. It was very cold for California standards. We actually had to wear a coat. We happened upon Tierra Vegetables stand. They have some great smoked chiles and hot sauces. Today a Jalapeno sauce looked good to me. Lee, the proprietor told me that I could probably drink it, because it was not so very hot. She said it had great flavor. That was enough for me.

There was some leftover Chile Verde from our quest. This would be put in a tortilla to give the sauce a try. The label on the bottle is fairly plain. It only says Hot Sauce. The ingredients listed are Jalapeno, Vinegar, Onion, and Salt. Some sauce was poured on the plate. It was pretty thin. Jalapeno seeds were scattered throughout the sauce. The color is bright red almost fluorescent. It smells of Jalapeno with a slight whiff of vinegar. It is time to taste. The first thing that hits your palette is sweetness. The sauce is almost alarmingly sweet. Was sugar, or some sweetener added? After the initial sweet punch subsides the pepper flavor shines through. There is just the faintest hint of hotness. The flavor of the Jalapenos is the star of this sauce.

This sauce was very enjoyable. It could be served on pizza or pasta. Because of its sweetness, I might even try it on ice cream. Hot Sauce printed on the label might be a little misleading because of its mildness. This Sauce should be labeled Jalapeno sauce. If you are looking for a flavorful Jalapeno Sauce made by a local producer, head on over to the Ferry Plaza and look for Lee at the Tierra Vegetable booth.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


It is that time of year the weather is turning brisk. The heavy jacket is taken out of the closet. Comfort food that is warming and satisfying is craved. What better way to warm up, than a big plate of Chile Verde. I am on a quest to find the Ultimate Chile Verde. The last three Saturdays Ms. Goofy and I have partaken this magical dish of pepper delight at three different establishments. La Tapatia, located in historic Martinez California was our destination yesterday. The picture above was a beautiful plate from La Tapatia that was thoroughly enjoyed.

The Saturday before was an old standby. La Estrellita's in Oakland California. I have been going to La Estrellita's for over 20 years. They have a full bar with 120 different tequilas. I go for the Verde and have almost tried every Tequila. The Chile Verde made with Niman Ranch pork is what makes me want to return.
La Tapatia
536 Main St
Martinez, Ca. 94553

La Estrellita
444 E. 12th St.
Oakland, Ca. 94806

Friday, December 12, 2008


You know its the Gravy Man. It is an art to make gravy. Gravy makes the World go round. What does not go with gravy? Have you ever had leftovers from Thanksgiving? You know gravy is the ingredient that you are craving. Ms. Goofy was in charge of the gravy. We used a Pork Rib Roast. It was roasted in the Chilebrown fire cave. There was a pan that caught all the drippings and Love. Ms. Goofy added her secret ingredients and stirred to the Boys and I were begging.

Gravy, Gravy, Gravy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008


They are in! Hot off the press(bacon press that is). It is the 2009 Mad Meat Genius Bacon Calendar. It is 12 months of porky delights highlighted by an image of bacon or pork that has been featured on Mad Meat Genius. They have been printed in a very limited quantity. Featured today is February, a beautiful hunk of smoked belly from the Fatted Calf. Throughout the year, days have been marked with images of friends and events to be noted. This is the perfect stocking stuffer. You can purchase one if you hurry. Oh! just a second, the phone is ringing.

I am sorry to announce that the last 2009 Mad Meat Genius Bacon Calender was just purchased. This is the perfect excuse to make your own. It was very simple. All that is needed is some photos, computer and a credit card. There are dozens of photo web sites to purchase and make your own. They do make a great personalized gift. Have Fun!

Monday, December 8, 2008


"What the heck is that?" Exclaimed Ms. Goofy. This was Ms. Goofy's first reaction when seeing a Buddha's Hand. Buddha's Hand is an ornamental fragrant citrus fruit. It is a type of citron. It is mainly used as a decoration that will also perfume the room with a lemony citrus smell. It can be consumed. The rind may be candied and used for the same purposes of lemon rind. I just like the way they look.

Ms. Goofy bought me a tree last Christmas. It still is pretty small. If there is any danger of frost, Ms. Goofy will have to go outside and cover the tree during the night. They do not like the cold. You can purchase one at some farmers markets. The Buddha's Hand pictured was procured from the Monterey Market in Berkeley California. The Monterey Market is one of the best produce markets on the West Coast. They have any vegetables or fruit that you could ever want at great prices. They also carry unusual and or special items that are in season. It is always crowded. This guarantees the turnover and freshness of the produce. The Monterey Market is a gem.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Like the search for the Gold Standard of Bacon, I am on a quest for the ultimate Chile Verde. We have traveled the country in search of the tender cubes of pork swimming in a pool of green chile love. Attempts at creating chile verde at home have been fun Sometimes we have come close to reaching Mecca. Santo Coyote sure was close. The picture says it all!

Santo Coyote

4806 International Blvd

Oakland, CA 94601

(510) 261-8696

Friday, December 5, 2008


If you are a resident of the Bay Area you may remember a restaurant called Solomon Grundy's. It was located on the Marina of Berkeley. It was a nice place with a bay view and a great place to watch the sunset. I would go for the black bean soup. This soup was 'Black Bean Heaven'. It was thick and hearty. Sadly they closed and took their soup with them. In the food section the other day was a recipe for Solomon Grundy's black bean soup. I could not resist to give it a try. Of course a couple of Chilebrown touches were added. I accompanied this soup with corn bread made with freshly ground corn meal laced with chipotle powder that was found at the Tierrra Vegetable stand at the Ferry Plaza. It had corn bread written all over it.


  1. 1 1/2 cup of corn meal
  2. 1 1/2 cup of flour
  3. 1 egg
  4. 1/4 cup honey
  5. 1 cup buttermilk
  6. 1/4 bacon fat from Nueske bacon
  7. 2 slices Nueske bacon cooked and chopped
  8. 1 teaspoon salt
  9. 1/4 cup corn
  10. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  11. 1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients and bake in a hot oiled black iron skillet for aprox 30 minutes at 400 degrees. It is done when bread is brown and a knife pulls out clean.

Solomon Grundy's Black Bean Soup
  1. 8 ounces black beans
  2. 2 bay leaves
  3. 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  4. 1 teaspoon black pepper
  5. 1 slice of bacon finely chopped
  6. 3 quarts of water
  7. 2 ounces sherry
  8. 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  9. 4 tablespoons of Nueske Bacon Fat
  10. 4 tablespoons of flour
Place beans, bay leaves, bacon,spices and water in a large pot. Bring to boil and lower to simmer. Cook for two hours or until beans are falling apart. Make a roux by mixing flour and fat together in a separate bowl. Slowly add to soup mixture stirring constantly. Add sherry and simmer for 15 more minutes.
Let me tell you how good the corn bread was. If you get a chance to go to the Ferry Plaza, be sure to pick up some freshly ground chipotle corn meal. The soup was okay. Sometimes pleasant memories are just that.

Friday, November 28, 2008


Baconnaise is the new taste treat in the Chilebrown pantry. The beginning of crab season has started and crab and Baconnaise might just be the winning combination. It is off to the the local International Market for live crab. This beauty weighed out at 2 1/2 pounds. The price is still pretty high because of Thanksgiving and the local catch has not been very productive. The crab was secured in the back of the car. It still made a lot of noise trying to escape its fate of a boiling cauldron of water. Once the crab was dispatched and cooked it was combined with Baconnaise and a couple other ingredients. Form into patties and fry in a butter and oil combination. It does not get any better.

  1. 1 live crab or 1 pound of lump crab meat
  2. 1/4 cup of Baconnaise
  3. 1 egg
  4. 1/2 cup and 1 cup of bread crumbs
  5. 1 stalk of celery chopped fine
  6. 1 green onion chopped fine
  7. pinch of salt and pepper

Combine all ingredient reserving 1 cup of bread crumbs. Form into patties and coat with reserved bread crumbs. Refrigerate patties for at least one hour to firm. Fry in a combination of butter and oil. Fry over medium high heat. Cook until a brown crust forms on one side. Flip over and cook for another minute or two. The object is to form a crust and heat the center. Be careful to not overcook because they are gentle.

Are you ready for the results? We kicked it up one notch farther and added a little dab of Baconnaise on the side. You will never order Crab Cakes from a restaurant ever again if you make these. These cakes had just a little hint of bacon flavor. The crab taste shined through as it should. After another cake, the couch will be taken, with left over Turkey and a Jar of Baconnaise!!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


We are cooking our bird on the grill. This has worked for us for years. The only problem is the gravy. Wood chips and ashes usually make it to our dripping pan. The turkey drippings are laced with harsh and bitter remnants. Gravy is one of the best components of Thanksgiving. It is a link to gather all the parts of the meal together. Jello salad and pumpkin pie can be kicked up a notch with a little spot of gravy. Gravy makes the world go round.
The culprit used was picked up at Trader Joe's. Boxed Gravy, I am so sorry, Dr. Biggles, to let you down. Every thing will be so good. I am a gravy looser!!!!!
Pecan Apple Pie

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Fruitcake, Love it or Leave it, most people fall into either of the two categories. Fruitcake has been the butt of many jokes. There is even a novelty blow up fruitcake, called the INFLATABLE FRUITCAKE, of course. You may have had a fruitcake with citron and maraschino cherries that is dry and hard as a brick. This has slighted the image of fruitcake. There is another school of fruitcake thought.

Thanks to my Mother, who introduced Me to quality fruitcakes. These are made with dried fruits, nuts, sweet butter, flour, sugar, and a whole lot of love. It is not cheap to make fruitcake. Nothing but quality ingredients will do. Once you have tasted a piece, you will be a convert too. You may even join the 'Society" for the Protection and Preservation of Fruitcake'.

    Ms. Goofy and I traveled to to the Alemany Farmers Market to purchase the bulk of the ingredients. We bought fresh eggs and a bevy of dried fruits. Some of these fruits included; Raisins, Apricots,Figs, Plums and Peaches We found some great Medjool dates. A quick pit stop to the liquor store for an optional bottle of Brandy. Did I mention this cake is for Adults Only. We made it home to the Chilebrown Fruitcake Factory and got down to the first step off marination. This step is crucial. Sample your brandy for quality control. Good luck!


    1. 4 pounds of dried mixed fruits
    2. 1 pound of mixed whole nuts
    3. 1 cup of brandy
    4. 1 tablespoon instant coffee
    5. 1/4 cup of molasses
    6. 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon ground cloves, ground allspice, ground mace
    7. 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
    8. 3 1/2 cups flour
    9. 1 tablespoons baking powder
    10. 2 sticks butter
    11. 1 1/2 cups white sugar and 1 1/2 brown sugar
    12. 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
    13. 6 large eggs

    Take all the dried fruit and cut into chunks. Place in large bowl with nuts. Add instant coffee, molasses, spices and salt. Pour cup of brandy over mix and let marinade overnight.

    The next day, mix in 1 cup of flour into fruit mixture. Mix well and reserve.

    Beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. When fluffy add eggs one at a time until well blended.Blend the rest of the flower and baking powder. Add vanilla. Take mixture and add to fruit and flour mixture. You probably will have to use your hands. It is a stiff mixture.

    This will make 16 cups of fruitcake. Find some appropriate baking pans. I have used store bought decorative paper pans. You can purchase these at Sur La Table. You can use small loaf pans. Whatever you use, butter them well so the fruitcake will not stick. I line the bottom of loaf pans with wax paper and butter both sides.

    Bake at 275 for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. It may take longer. Test with a clean knife. Insert knife into cake. It should pull out clean. Remove from pans and let cool on cookies cooling rack.

    This next step is to lace with brandy. This is optional but necessary to experience the fruitcake at its best. Take a skewer and poke holes in the top of the loaf. Take a quarter cup of brandy and brush into top of cake. Wrap in plastic and then tin foil. Let rest for a couple of weeks. The resting gives the cake time to soak in the alcohol and mature the flavors.

    Fruitcake is a labor of love. A quality cake is to be cherished. A tiny piece will go a long way. The cake will last a long time if properly stored. I will leave you with a parody song about fruit cake.

    Sung to Last Train to Clarksville (Monkees) and Modified by Chef Frank

    Eat the last piece of fruitcake

    that we got from Auntie Mabel

    We can't keep it in the kitchen

    'cause it broke right through the table

    and the floor

    Oh no no no

    Oh no no no

    "Cause your father lost a filling

    and your sister broke a cap

    And I lost a half a filling,

    the rest is on a string tied to the door

    Oh no no no

    Oh no no no

    And I don't think I can chew gum anymore

    Eat the last piece of fruitcake

    that came via forklift

    Or use it for a doorstop

    Might as well get some good use out of this gift.

    Oh no no no

    Oh no no no



    Eat the last piece of fruitcake

    That we have in our homeI don't know how old it is

    But I bet that it was baked by Wilma Flintstone

    Oh no no no

    Oh no no no

    And I don't think that I like her anymore.


    The Meatmen will be competing at the Sportsmen Show in Sacramento on January 17 2009. We will be competing in a three-pot dutch oven cook off. A three-pot cook off comprises of cooking a main dish, dessert, and a bread. My contribution to the team is to usually make the bread. It is something I enjoy and have had some success in past competitions. This competition will see a jalapeno cheese bread created. To achieve success one must practice. The best part about practicing is you get to eat and share your experiments. Let's get cookin!


    1. 1 teaspoon yeast
    2. 1 3/4 cups water
    3. 4 cups flours
    4. 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
    5. 1/4 cup oil
    6. 5 tablespoons chopped jalapeno (3 peppers)
    7. 5 ounces grated cheddar cheese
    8. 1 1/2 ounce grated parmesan cheese
    9. 1 egg beaten

    Add yeast to water and let proof. Mix together flour, yeast, oil and salt. Knead for 5 minutes. Add cheeses and jalapeno reserving 1/4 cup parmesan,1 tablespoon jalapeno, and 2 tablespoons cheddar. Knead for another couple of minutes. Let rise in an oiled bowl for 1 1/2 hours. Take dough and place in well oiled dutch oven. Punch down and let rise for another hour. Brush top of bread with egg. Spread remaining cheese and peppers on top. Bake in Dutch oven. If using a home oven bake at 400 degrees for 50 minutes.

    This bread was spectacular. I would not have won with this particular bread. There was a small area that was a little underdone. No problem, that is what practice is all about. See you at the Sportsmen Show.

    Tuesday, November 18, 2008


    What the heck is a Rambutan? It sure caught our eye at the Alemany Farmer's Market. It is an exotic fruit from Southeast Asia. If you live in Malaysia, Rambutan would be fairly common. Rambutan in Malaysian means hairy. This seems appropriate when you see this fruit. It has fleshy pliable spikes. The Rambutan is a very colorful eye catching red . We asked the vendor what does it taste like. He told us it has a taste like a lychee. Since I have no idea what a lychee taste like, we bought one.

    Once home, the Rambutan was sliced around the center. One side of the skin was peeled away. A pale white flesh is revealed. Under this flesh is a seed. We cut a small piece and tasted. It was sweet. The texture could be compared to a grape. It was pleasant in curious sort of way. I guess you could make a jam or jellies with them. The Rambutan will be left out of the Holiday fruitcake this year.