Archive for February, 2009
So I have a bunch of wooden chairs from Ikea that I bough for my patio table. They never took the weather that well and a few of them are now falling apart. My backyard also has a bunch of fallen branches that had yet to be cleared out. Why provide such background details? Well..
Friday night while waiting for some friends to come over to the house, my good buddy and I were sitting in my backyard drinking crappy beers (Natie light) and catching up on the week’s debauchery. Friends were delayed, we got bored, and somehow or another, we started a chair throwing contest (I won after 5 competive rounds) with some of the older chairs. This somehow devolved into us collecting the fallen branches and piling them on one of the wooden chairs so we could light it on fire. We honestly weren’t even that drunk. The few nips of scotch before hand doesn’t count. This would probably have happened stone sober. AS you know damn well it would have!
Why am I posting about this? Well, once the fire got going we decided to cook some sausages on metal hangers which in my mind qualifies this story as relavent to food blogging. You’re welcome.
If God came down from the heavens and told me that I would only be allowed to use a small handful of cooking techniques and skills to last me the rest of my days on earth, and I would have no other means of cooking for myself and family outside of this absurd and narrow restriction, making my own pasta would be at the very top of the list. And if God decided that pasta making from scratch wasn’t a choice, then well, that may be the day I sell my soul to the Devil (same applies for any restrictions God may find amusing regarding bacon).
So what I’m trying to say in not so many is make your own pasta. Basic, basic stuff pasta dough is, and on a lazy Sunday afternoon you can bust out enough pasta to last you a month. There are good arguments for making a lot of different stuff from scratch, all valid, but with pasta, once you get it right, there is nothing you can pick up at the store that will come close. Not Even Close.
Also, the sheer, almost limitless varieties of Italian pasta in all it’s variances is enough to keep any cook trying new stuff for years to come. Not to mention the skill lends itself to other ethnic cuisines as well (wontons, dumplings, manti). It’s probably going to take a few tries, but trust me, it is worth it!
I’m going to explain how to make nice and simple linguine (flat spaghetti) for this post.
Read the rest of this entry »
Why can’t Jamie Oliver be happy with keeping his ventures limited to great cooking shows, philanthrophy and killing baby chicks in front of horrified live audiences? I suppose someone figured since Gourmet was getting shut down that maybe there would be a spot open on magazine stands. But a whole magazine? Jaime. Come on buddy. Someone talked you reluctantly into this right? Are action figures next? How about a late night talk show instead?
I stumbled upon the first installment of the Jaime Magazine in a book store near my office and bought it without even opening to the first page. I don’t intentionally follow what most tv personality chefs are doing on regular basis, but when I come across something with the J.O. brand my ears usually pirk up.
I’ve followed Oliver for years, more so than I have of Bourdain even. One of my very first memories about how much fun it could be to tear through some through some fresh produce, was when I was flipping channels one morning as a kid, stumbling on a commercial for Naked Chef, expecting what any adolescent boy is hoping to find, being annoyed and disappointed by this punk, British kid talking about radishes, and then becoming completely hypnotized by whatever technique and ingredient he was explaining. I was still eating cereal at least 2 meals a day, so the fact I was interested in the pork shoulder he was prepping still makes no sense to me. From then on if I thought to cook something myself, he was my refence point. For the life of me understand how Food Network isn’t bending over backwards to get the rights to air his how Jaime at Home, or any another of his many food shows. They’re seriously some of the best food tv I come across.
So why am I pouring the Hateraide on the new Jaime magazine? Some degree of sentimentallity I suppose, that the guy has shifted from being the young up and comer to larger corporate brand, but mostly it just seems like a stretch that a $10 magazine is going to have quality content for the long hall.
The first issue is fine. Nothing new or special though. Typical Oliver recipes and a few nods to chefs bringing British and Indian cuisine to higher levels which were interesting and well done. There’s a few articles devoted to wine & spirits and sustainable farming which are also very appropriate. Then you’ve got a bunch of celebrity garbage and cameos (most annoying of which was the Brad Pitt interview), which I could give two shits about. More sections on “studies” or flavor profiles is something I’d really like to see. The travel section wasn’t anything to get too excited about, but the right destinations wouldn’t hurt. Overall it’s not a bad if you’re in an airport, but it didn’t do much to inspire more time spent in the kitchen, which is something Oliver has always been a natural talent.
I know the magazine is new, only one issue off the presses, and I should just chill the fuck out. I’m sure my new found blogging hobby has a lot of room for improvement as well, so I shouldn’t throw stones, but I really don’t need another magazine on my coffee table. Someone tap me when J.O. is debuting his new show, “Anthony Bourdain and Jaime Oliver Get Shitfaced and Cook till Dawn.” Now that’s entertainment.
I’ve long since given up on predicting DC weather. On my way to work yesterday it was snowing. Lunch it was cold and raining. Going home it was warm. Sooo, grill out? Yup, grill out. I’ve been itching to play with our underused gas grill for a while now, so I’ll take the excuse. Pork, starch, and open flames is a really fucking beautiful thing. This dish isn’t too involved either. The marinade is good to go after 15 minutes and the veg and yams just need a coat. Easy, slam dunk and ready by Top Chef.
Ever since I got a pressure cooker for Christmas I’ve been making soups on the regular. Nothing fancy. Honestly, I’ve only really put together butternut squash soup (and pumpkin soup one time when I stole a whole pumpkin from my neighbor’s yard that had been sitting out since Halloween.. it was still good and Giant was out). But so far my favorite recipe has been one my mom recommended to me that included an apple. Crazy right? Or brilliant?! It’s not fall anymore but it turns out squash and apple are pretty good friends. This recipe is one of the better ones I’ve tried, but all you really need is the veg and some stock.
Gnocchi is all the rage these days, but there are so many recipes out there for home chefs that in my experience, fall short of hitting the mark. “Just boil water, add salt and boil till the gnocchi floats to the top,” is what you’ll read in most home recipes I’ve come across. Ummm, bullshit. Store bought gnocchi in my experience gets undercooked, becomes chewy, and is nothing in comparison to the dish when made from scratch even if it’s frozen for a week. If anyone has figured out how to cook well with pre-packaged store bought then hats off to you. What am I not getting!?
I’ve tried cooking it longer than the instructions say to, I’ve served it tossed with whatever sauce immediately after pulling it out of the water, and time and time again I’m chewing a starchy mess halfway through the meal. So if you are cooking a dish where gnocchi is the center piece and have the time, honestly, just make your own. It’s a little effort up front to use a gentle touch down, but once the technique of rolling the dough out properly, you’ll be able to make light, fluffy, delicious potato pastries the rest of your life. But hey, we’re all pretty busy right? Have a craving but not the time? Well, one way I’ve found to make the store bought stuff sing is to put it in a casserole dish. Hearty, rich, and perfect with a good Cesare salad this dish is a crowd pleaser and pretty easy to put together.
… Actually it means “little rice,” but as far as I’m concerned stirring is the most memorable part. I wish I kidding, but this little dish demands your undivided attention.
Cold evenings to me mean comfort food, and one of my favorites is the always labor intensive, joyously gooey risotto. I’ve failed to make a proper risotto more times than anything else I’ve ever attempted. Fortunately I have friends that have always been good sports. You kinda have to be when you eat crunchy, undercooked rice, or flavorless, goupy crap. It was maddening to not be able to figure out this dish. After some research I wasn’t any more enthusiastic. All the recipes pretty much say the same thing. But after a lot of trial and error, including a Friday night or two with a bag or rice and a glass of scotch, I got a pretty good handle on this temperamental and wonderful dish.
I’m not really sure how i missed the memo, but I only recently found out that Top Chef is putting together not one but TWO spin-offs of the Bravo franchise that will no doubt be an orgy of product placement, celebrity chef camios and I can only hope, some really fantastic food porn. Please Jesus, God let Top Chef Masters be good! And touché Bravo for finding another reason for me to have to suffer through even more horrible horrible Desperate Spoiled Wives of Don’t Give a Fuck Planet. I honestly didn’t think there was anything other show out there that I’d be willing to do that for but Top Chef Masters I’m pretty sure I’ll find a way to deal.
Don’t get me wrong, i can’t imagine a Mario Batali/David Chang/Alice Waters cast locked up in a house together for six weeks, but getting some real talent sans Food Network established personality ego is a fucking awesome prospect. It’s not like they have to tweek the formula too much. I can live with the same music cues, graphics desplays and suspensful pauses as the last show. Just do this right please. Less drama, more cooking.
The other spin-off is supposed to be a kids show. And to that I say.. sweet. I won’t lie, probably won’t go out of my way to watch some kid make waffles, but it’s a sound idea and I’d still put that show against half the Food Network programing out there right now. Actually I’ll probably watch the hell out of it and curse the kids for being considerably better with a knife then I am. Either way, well done Bravo. I hate everything else you put on the air, but at least you aren’t trying to put some sad repackaging of a show on a call it Chopped Forked.
Yeah, fuck it. I’ve been working on this fucking site for over a month and I’m sick of dicking around. Awesome episode of top chef and nothing but good company. Fuck it. I thought it would be a good night for something, and it’s too damn nice in DC to not be grilling. Here’s the meal. Enjoy. We loved it.
All I could think about was pork walking home so after a quick call to a friend i picked up a some pork loin (both sliced and whole) and a bit of mustard. Green beans were easy and there i was, home after 10 minutes ready to throw my gnocchi in with the dish.
Spice rub of (SC spices) with a generous helping of cayenne pepper and Chinese five spice. After a mustard rub and a rub of the spices a touch of olive oil and were off. 2o minutes after the rub on the grill four ways and on the plate with g nocchi and greenbeans.
Greanbeans was in deep pan with cup of chicken stock and extra salt/pepper. A 1/2 lbs. of greenbeans laid out and 2o minutes later we’re good.
Gnocchi is a whole other story…