Wednesday, October 31, 2007
I did know from the beginning that this dish was where I would use the grilled corn (because I also knew that I was going to take the corn and grill it), the roasted red peppers, and red onion. It's bright, it's tasty. It presents well.
Rubbed the corn with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper; then grilled it for about 15 minutes so it was fully cooked.
I baked off the bruschetta (just baguette sliced on a bias at about 1/2") with olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper. Thanks Chez.
Then I added a slice of Amish Farm Cheddar (mild, very creamy) and maybe 3/4 T of ground rib eye (thank GOD for the food processor) and rebaked in the oven for about 5 minutes.
Each plate had three little open faced burgers in a tre-foil pattern with a couple spoonfuls of relish in the middle.
The relish was really simple. Grilled corn cut off the cob, roasted red peppers diced, red onion diced, one jalapeno diced. Saute that through with olive oil and a touch of salt. Toss through chopped cilantro when you pull it off the heat.
Hindsight, this is where the bacon went. If I had made fancy-pants bacon cheeseburgers, I'm guessing I could have pulled a couple more points. Maybe T-Hib would have forgiven me for the lack of mayo.
I did think later, too, that I could have mixed some coconut milk and mayo together to make a spread that T-Hib could have used to ghetto-up her burgers.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Picture if you will a double sink, on either side of the sink is a cutting board. On the left, Herb. On the right, Randy. Around the corner to the left was the stove (all four burners of glory). There was a fifth burner that Greco and I agreed would not be used because it would be unfair if one team got more aggregate burner time.
We started using the 5th burner about 20 minutes in...
To the right of Randy (after an L counter and the microwave) was the refrigerator. Greco's half of the stove was closest to his cutting board, Randy and I were on the outside of the stove.
The food processor was between Randy and the Microwave.
The 'Pantry' was the kitchen table in a corner behind us all and three TV Dinner stands on the wall.
Oh, and the door into the house to get to the bathrooms for everyone there was between the pantry and the cooking. Fun!!!!
So we were there for just over 2 hours.
Randy and I had chatted a little bit before the competition started. He had a sauce in mind that would work with pretty much everything on Mark's list. I was going to do a risotto, with the secret or without as a side, it just made sense (cold night, hot creamy risotto-y goodness).
Basically though, we looked at the beef, looked at the pantry, I said 'two apps and two entrees, one sweet with your sauce and one savory. Let's fill in the blanks.' Five minutes later we were off.
The fun stuff (and I'll let commenters question to get more details, much is still a blur):
- If there was a search for anything, Herb's immediate response was: "It's hidden in a secret crevasse...up my A@#."
- Greco would call, Herb would answer, and it was incredible. Greco would be at the pantry table, pick something up, yell 'left shoulder lemon' and Herb would answer 'heard' as the lemon was hurtling toward him. They never dropped a thing.
- Greco cut himself 3.2 seconds into the competition...with the corkscrew. Tracy walked through the kitchen asking if that was wine or blood. It was blood. Greco cooked the whole damn time with duct tape on his thumb.
- Randy spoke twice, maybe, during the entire 2.25 hours.
- Herb had his knife pointed at me at least seven times (but only once below the belt).
- At the 30-minute mark (after we had added the 15 minutes to the total, so we're 1:45 in to the cooking), I remember that I have carmelized onions and sauteed spinach, AND NO RISOTTO STARTED. I ran into the kitchen from outside, screamed "F#@!, I haven't started the risotto! How much time???!!!???" and started stirring.
- I sweat. A lot.
- Heather has a favorite quote from the evening.
- We ran out of Jaeger at about the 1 hour mark.
- I used a can of Grape Big-K soda in a recipe.
- We helped each other out.
- One bottle of olive oil and one jar of pre-ground black pepper is NOT enough for us.
- I CAN hurdle Diesel if needed.
- I must have walked over to the pantry table 10 times in the 2 hours and stared at the coconut milk.
- We used: at least 3 bottles of wine, all the yellow onion, all the eggplant, all of the scallions, all of the mushrooms, most of the olive oil, both bags of tri-peppers, all of the baby bok choy, at least a pound of butter, several heads of garlic, 1 cup of walnuts, 1 bag of frozen raspberries, 1 bag of frozen cherries, 2 quarts of heavy cream, several boxes of chicken stock, 1 box of manicotti, 1 cup of arborio, half a baguette, four ears of corn, half a knob of ginger, one tub of ricotta, at least a pound of pecorina romano, a brick of amish cheddar, a pound of shrimp, a couple bags of spinach, some sugar and some brown sugar, and gobs of other stuff I'm sure I'll remember eventually.
- We did not use any of the saffron Herb brought (and we should have), any of the cocnut milk (see above), any black beans, any of the tortillas, any of the chipotles, any orichette, spaghetti, or angel hair, any of the filo dough, puff pastry shells, or pie crusts, any of the cornmeal, any chickpeas, and i'm sure several other items in that category as well.
- Most shocking of all...there was a slab of amish bacon (unsliced) in the fridge...and I never touched it. Not once. Never even thought about it. I had MEAT, and I could have WRAPPED IT IN BACON...and I never even thought to...
Next Post is the Recipes...
And know that this space is where I will describe the awesome fury of Iron Chef South Charleston - Una-Greco vs. Mori-Dano - Battle Rib Eye.
My father, being unfamiliar with the show, thought to warn me about my weight when I e-mailed him listed 8 dishes all containing rib eye. Poor guy thought it was an eating constest for me...
Greco and I cook all the time at Mark's. We grill, we make big pots of soup, we make cornbreads, and chicken wings, and roasts, and 12 bean salads, and dips. Like I said, we cook.
So we decided eventually that it would be fun to go Greco a Dano, head-to-head. We talked about it for a month, read up on the show, sorted out our judges, talked through the ground rules, and generally got everyone excited for the cookin'.
320 points possible per contestant: 20 per dish per judge. 10 for taste, 5 for presentation (food only, we were all using paper plates to serve), and 5 for originality.
4 judges: Chez, Trish, Rodney, and T-Hib (who was subbed for Big Game Wayne, who apparently is more all about the benjamins, but who can blame him). We figured these guys had all had my food and Greco's, liked both, and wouldn't put up with our pathetic attempts to bribe them.
2 hours: Bumped up by an extra fifteen minutes about an hour into the competition because four large men in one small kitchen with four burners...it ain't happenin'.
2 sous chefs: And Greco and I will both tell you we could not have pulled this off without them. Herb Gardner and Randy Lowery were ON IT. Slicing, dicing, tasting, grilling, suggesting, running. A grand time.
1 ingredient: Secret, that is. Greco and I had a list of five we knew it would come from so we could at least shop for the pantry with some ideas.
Flipped a coin to see who went first to the judges. G won the toss and elected to go first. Randy and I got to reheat/keep warm our dishes, but we still had to have one of each dish we were presenting plated at the 2:15 mark.
It was RIB EYE.
Can't do this properly without thanking Dave "Alton Brown" Thomas for having abirthday we needed to celebrate and for doing running commentary for the crowd and keeping time for the cooks.
The biggest thanks go out to Mark and Tracy for hosting a bunch of drunken-monkey fools with knives and too much coconut milk for their own good. Those two put up with a lot, and if you all had seen the kitchen after four idiots got done with it (with no intention of cleaning up after themselves), you'd know just how much.
Coming up in a separate post...
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
6 T Butter
6 T Flour
4 cups milk, plus
4 cups mild cheddar
1 cup gruyere or fontina
2 cups parm, pecorino, or romano (or the handy three-blend at your local uber-store)
1 lb large elbow macaroni (you know the drill, sub whatever you want)
Cook the noodles by the book.
While that's going on, medium heat y'all. Melt the butter in a large sauce pan. Add the flour. Whisk for a few seconds (60-ish). Add the milk and keep stirring.
Add the gruyere/fontina by handfuls and stir until incorporated. Add 3 cups of the cheddar in batches while stirring. Add 1/2 cup of the parm/pecorino/romano.
Drain the noodles, put them in a 9/13 pyrex. If you don't have one, tell your roommate to stir the cheese sauce while you go get one.
Pour the cheese sauce over the noodles. Stir through so the noodles are all coated.
Admire the awesome fury of your creation. (Remember the feeling, it'll only get better).
Throw the last cup of cheddar and the rest of the hard cheese on top evenly.
You did preheat to 375, didn't you? Good. Put it in the oven for 40 minutes.
Pull it out.
Admire the awesome-er fury of the crusty-cheesy goodness.
Trusy me here. Let it cool for at least a few minutes. Unless you're putting it in a bowl. Cause really, when it's that hot and bubbly, it's still just mac n' cheese soup.
I usually add some dry mustard powder to the roux. Sometimes a dash of nutmeg too. Go REAL EASY on the nutmeg if you try that. Both add a depth of flavor that takes it over the top. I had neither tonight. C'est la fromage.
Okay, so the picture's weak. It's a camera phone, I'm not Heidi.
The tabbouleh recipes at epicurious.com, the Food Network, and Cooking Light were all very similar. Different amounts of water to bulgur, different amounts of lemon juice, some without garlic (P-shah), some without scallions (on which commenters always said add, so i did). Suffice it to say, it's not Sahara's or Ali Baba's. Again, I'm not those guys. Hopefully Raya will think it's sufficiently far away from white guy cooking lebanese, and sufficiently close enough to good flavors. I think it's pretty damn tasty.
1 cup Bulgur (use about 1 1/2 cups boiling water)
1/2 cucumber, seeded and diced
4 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 bunches of parsley, finely chopped
4 lemons, juiced
3 small cloves of garlic, finely diced
1 small bunch of scallions, finely chopped (white and green, ain't no onion racists here)
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Add the boiling water to the bulgur in a bowl. Cover with plastic and let set for 30 mins.
Drain in a seive.
Add it into a bowl with all the other stuff.
Adjust the salt and lemon as needed.
Chill and serve.
Eat it already.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
So here's what happened today, and why it matters to you. The votes (that is Steph and Rudi's e-mails) were in support of the Good Eats recipe. You all know me, I never looked at the recipe before heading to the store. So we got a teeny bit off track.
Instead of garlic croutons, I used Italian breadcrumbs.
Instead of his glaze recipe, I used some Carolina BBQ sauce (about 6 T) with extra ketchup (about 2/3 cup). It'll be nice, real nice.
Instead of chuck and sirloin, I used 2 lbs. of ground chuck, 1 lb. of ground pork, and 1 lb. of ground chicken.
Instead of 1 red bell pepper, I used four stalks of celery.
I had no cayenne, ooops.
And, as I type this, I realize that I forgot the egg in one of the loaves. Quel damage...we'll see on that one. Won't taste any different. I'm guessing the bar staff won't mind too much.
Now y'all might read all that and say to yourself..."Self, that's not even close to the recipe Alton had."
Oh contrair, mon frere. Go back and look at what he had and what I substituted. The only real flavor difference (cause that little cayenne won't drastically change the flavor compound) is probably the celery for red bell swap. And I stand by it. I like the celery in there.
Ok, ok, the meat swap will change the flavor. The pork will add more fat content. And that IS flavor. The chicken won't really add ANY flavor, it'll just counterbalance the added fat from the pork.
But still, this is basically the same recipe. That's the fun part. Goof, and recover. Forget, and substitute.
I'll let you know if anyone I feed with this give me grief for subbing out their favorite ingedient (red bell peppers? really?).
Why It Matters To You
Because this was democracy in action, and it will be democracy in many peoples' bellies.
And because it inspired Rudi to go home and make himself a meatloaf sandwich.
And finally, because it might just make me a happier person for all of you to encounter. Trust me, if I get a cold meatloaf sandwich for lunch tomorrow, I will be happier. And that, dear readers, should matter to you.
1 - Emeril Lagasse - Closest to mine, but glazed instead of bacon-wrapped.
2 - Guy Fieri - Guy is coming very close to 'favorite' food network dude for me. That might be due to his hosting this and giving the world this. Here we have cornbread-stuffed meatloaf.
3 - Tyler Florence - Tyler makes good food. I have learned to trust him. But this meatloaf doesn't really speak to me. Uber-simple recipe for loaf, bit-o-fancy for the topping.
4 - Alton Brown - I love this recipe. Everything he said it would do in the episode, it did. Veg kept it all moist, cook time and temps got it done quickly, the technique for molding and baking makes for nice crusty goodness.
5 - Cooking Light - Light and Italian-y. So I'm not shy about linking Cooking Light. They usually make good tasting recipes.
Last time I made the loaf, it was close to Alton Brown's. I made a channel and stuffed it with cheese (string cheese, you heard me. it's what i had), and wrapped the thing in bacon to finish. No tomato glaze.
Which one should I make?
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Oh, the pot roast i could make in this MASSIVE cast iron goodness. Just think how much puttanesca sauce would fit in here (well, 9-quarts, that was kind of a rhetorical just think).
Truth be told, I could use a larger stock pot. I almost blew up the kitchen last night making black-eyed peas and collard greens.
(Really, you try stuffing five large bunches of stemmed, chopped, rinsed greens into a Cuisinart pasta pot that already has three diced onions, 4 minced cloves of garlic, two smoked ham hocks, 1T of thyme, and salt and pepper in it; then pour three boxes of low-sodium chicken brother over it, bring to a boil, reduce and simmer for 2 hours; then remove the meat from the pot, pull it from the bones, chop it and return the meat to the pot. Honestly, it's not easy.)
And then...oh, then little foodie-friends of mine, there's the kitchen buster. That is of course what any cooking set must be called if it causes, nay, requires a NEW kitchen (or the designation of all non-essential living space in the apartment for storage) just to hold it all.
This really is excessive. I'm putting this here because i was surprised to learn a 20+ piece All-Clad set existed.
I am a firm believer in having the right tool for the job. That sometimes means the right material for your pot/pan. I make cornbread in cast iron. That's the right tool for the job. I make marinara sauce in a saucepan. A saucier will do in a pinch, but not a skillet. And really, i prefer stainless for that, next to cast iron, because i get the best heat transfer possible with the stainless. (I have electric, I need the heat transfer to work as well as possible in my house fools.)
So the stock pot here would work too, but since you're likely cooking things in a stock pot for a LONG time, i'd rather have the cast iron.
Of course, if someone wants to buy me this monstrous set, I won't scoff...
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
anyway, his idea was to talk about the food and the music together. so here it goes (and i promise this will get better).
that iMix below this post. you see it. you know you want to hear it. you know you'll remember where you were when you listened to it in high school.
you might even remember who your fake best friend was dating when that song came out and you were at the ice rink in the summer when there was no ice and Lacy Neff from WVAQ DJed Friday night dances but you went over to South and made out on the front steps.
i remember what i ate after i got out of the car while listening to that mix...
if you're not from morgantown (or clarksburg/western PA), you will not get this
water with a plate of lemons
breakfast smile over easy, sausage, rye toast
2 smiley face cookies
never order the veal parmigiana in a restaurant that has chicken parmigiana that costs more than the veal.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
This was technically the sixth mix for the Treehouse at Sam's
1/3 C quinoa (health food stores, world's OLDEST grain, looks like couscous);
1 C water (you know what this is, right?);
1 t olive oil;
4 t fresh lime juice;
1/4 t cumin;
1/4 t corriander;
1 T chopped cilantro;
2 T minced scallions;
1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained;
1 medium red onion, diced
2 C diced tomatoes (seeded);
1 C diced bell pepper;
2 t minced fresh green chiles;
salt and pepper to taste
cook the quinoa in the water until it's done (use broth if you like, flava ya' know?);
dice everything else up;
mix it together.
best if it can sit overnight.
i make about a double order, and i am (MUCHMUCHMUCH) heavier on the cumin and cilantro than they are (MUCH heavier).
props to the moosewood cookbook for the original. can't understand for the life of me why they DID NOT have red onion in there version. it's the bee's knees. you need the red onion.
Other bits to consider: I didn't have quinoa last weekend, but i did have chick peas, edamame, small red beans (not kidney, if i meant kidney i would have said kidney, i really don't like kidney all that much). so i made this with those things and no quinoa. i also omitted the green chilles, tomatoes, corriander, lime juice, and the green onions this time. still close, cilantro and cumin flavored bean and stuff salad with a little crunch.
diced carrots would be AWESOME in this.
Yet another crack-like meal. BTW, I find it strange that no one finds it strange that I refer to things as crack-like. I don't know what crack is beyond some dark movie scenes and bad Nancy Reagan voice-over don't do drugs ads from the 80s.
Yeah, so I needed to feed the bar again (it's my thing, they like to eat. works out well for everyone). Online recipe shopping is a nice way to kill a lunch hour. This one was gonzo with a couple Dano additions.
You need an 8x13 baking dish (glass/pyrex probably your best bet here), a large sauce/sautee pan for the making of the filling, and a large bowl for the battery (er, making the batter).
4 cans whole green chiles, drained and split open flat;
1 lb ground chicken (or cow, or pig, or ostrich if you're that guy);
one large sweet onion, diced (or red, or yellow, we don't discriminate here);
2-3 green onions, diced (green and white part);
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped (if you don't like it, don't use it, the original recipe didn't);
1 16oz. can refried beans (veggie, low-fat, full flavor, whatever you have);
cumin (1/2 T-ish);
salt and pepper to taste (and to sweat the onions and season the meat in the pan);
shredded cheese of your choosing (jack, colby, Kroger mexican blend, etc.);
flour, eggs, milk, hot sauce (i'll explain this later, you'll need at least a cup of flour, a couple of eggs, and a cup of milk).
Do This To It
treat the ground chicken like ground beef. you know what to do with that. oil in the pan, then chicken for 3-4 minutes, onions and green onions for another 3-4 minutes.add the salt, pepper, cumin, oregano somewhere in here. doesn't have to be all done, there's an hour in the oven to come. stir the cilantro through at the end.
off the heat in a large bowl, mix that with the refried beans to create, well, the filling. bear with me.
about here is where you turn the oven on to 350.
8x13 baking pan, no grease, put a layer of green chiles down, leave a 1/4 to 1/2 inch ring around the outside (this means don't layer the chiles all the way to the edge y'all, there's batter comin').
put some cheese on top of the chiles, then some of the chicken/bean goodness.
repeat until you're out of stuff. top with cheese as last layer.
mix flour milk and beaten eggs into a batter. this will vary. eyeball it. don't be scared. you want it to look like pancake batter. 1.5 cups flour, 1.5 cup milk, one egg, one egg white-ish on the proportions. probably will take that to fill the baking pan, which is the goal.
fill the baking dish with the batter.
put it in your lovingly pre-heated oven for somewhere between an hour and 1.25 hours.
this one is worth letting set for a few so it de-liquifies enough that you can slice it and scoop it. think lasagna. you could just scoop straight out of the oven if you don't care about the meal having any shape on your plate.
some other little thoughts, I will make this again. when I do, I'll probably make the batter with cornmeal for a more rellano kinda flavor.
also, this was originally a cooking light recipe (skim milk, low-fat cheese, low-fat refrieds). it's still pretty healthy my way, but they would tisk my use of cheese and 2% milk. let 'em. it tasted good my way...would've tasted good their way too. but I added the green onions and cilantro, and it surprised me they didn't have either of those ingredients in the original.
Freezes well, sops well on crusty bread (more about that, and maybe even a blog devoted to the joy of crusty bread, later).
First off, the business. Your stock pot should be at least 8 quarts or it will be the fullest little soup pot ever. This version will feed 8 comfortably. Conveniently, it also freezes well for a four meals now, four later kinda life.
What To Get
6 links italian sausage (mix of hot and sweet or whatever you have. the hot sausage REALLY makes the soup though), browned and sliced (doesn't have to get all the way cooked in the browning)
4-5 slices of bacon, cooked, chopped, and drippings reserved
4-5 celery stalks, diced medium
2-3 medium onions, chopped
4-5 medium carrots, chopped
4-5 medium yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped (don't peel when you do the other veg, wait until the soup's on and you're ready to add them, then peel and chop)
1 cup lentils (brown is classic for the recipe, green/red/yellow are cool too)
1/2 can tomato paste (or all of one, they're a pain to keep. if you're really cool and have it in a tube about 2 T)
2 bay leaves
1 T thyme (if you use fresh thyme sprigs, throw 4 in)
one bunch flat leaf italian parsley, chopped
lots o' water (bout 8-10 cups)
salt and pepper to sweat the veg and then to taste after the taters go in and cook for about 20)
What To Do With It
Brown the sausage. Put it on some paper towels to drain.
Cook the bacon in your soup pot. LEAVE the drippings (you can, if you must, drain some out to lighten this up).
Remove the bacon and add the celery, onion, and carrots. Enjoy the aroma. Salt to sweat and saute for about 5 minutes until the onion and celery are softened and the carrots are just starting to soften.
Add the bay leaves and thyme.
Add the tomato paste and stir it through for a minute.
Add the water, lentils, sausage, and chopped bacon. Stir through. The water should be enough to completely cover everthing that's in the pot, plus the potatoes to come, and be a soup. You want 'broth' here.
Cover, bring to a boil and then drop it to a low simmer for 30 minutes.
Add the taters and continue to simmer covered for 30 minutes.
Add in the chopped parsley and stir through before serving.
Remove the bay leaves (and thyme sprigs if you went that way).
Get your bowls and bread plates ready and serve it up.
If you really want to 'one pot' this meal, brown the sausage in the soup pot, then remove and add the bacon. Nothing wrong with co-mingling pork fat from multiple sources in my kitchen.
The bread is key here. When I was growing up it was usually rye or a pumpernickle/rye marble loaf. Last Sunday it was a HUGE round loaf of sourdough. And let me just say, sourdough bread and this soup are AWESOME.
This soup, like almost all others, is better the next day. This is especially true if you use hot italian sausage (like I told you too) because the spices from the sausage blend in with the soup.
If you want substitutes (and my dad always did when we were living together and he was low-carbing it) try eggplant --cubed and sauteed quickly in a bit of oil before adding to the pot -- and sweet potatoes (suprisingly lower-carb than the yukons). Turkey bacon could also substitute (but you all know I am not morally capable of making that particular sub).
I also recommend counting the number of sausage pieces in your bowl and making sure to apportion them evenly throughout the meal. You will satisfy the cosmic balance I strive to achieve when making and eating this soup.
For the wanderers who are curious what this will be...It will be the food I cook and tunes to which I listen. It will have poor grammar at times (though not in my prepositional phrase placement per the previous sentence), and irreverance always. recipes might be from books and mags, or my twist. I'll let you know if it's from somewhere other than my head.