Tuesday, August 29, 2006

You're just too good to be true...

A long time ago, in a city not so far away...

Once upon a time, long before I became a man of The Scotch, I used to love gin. More specifically I used to love Gimlets and Martinis. Until, of course, a very unfortunate evening with some gin-soaked green olives and some truly shitty cheap gin.

Nowadays, I'm more of a scotch type of guy. (Cutty at Trotters, Blue Label at the Bronze Boar...) I'm also very partial to 100 Proof Stoli. (Just ask Wes about THAT one.) That being said, every once in a while I get the craving for a Vodka Martini. Further more, when a Callebaut rep comes to the University you work at to do a demo for the culinary students, you do what any and every mercenary cook does: You raid their tables for anything that isn't nailed down while they eat at the restaurant you're supposed to be working at.

Okay, yes... I'm kind of all over the place so far. But I needed to give you the setup. Ya see...

Yesterday was the last day of the Summer Semester. Being that this is break-week, the culinary institute invites all of these big-grin salesmen types to case the joint and hawk their cheesy wares. The big attraction this week, though, is a demo from Callebaut Chocolates. My fellow cooks and I saw them setting up and our sleazy Cosmos-esque minds immediately went into planning mode. We knew they weren't eating chocolate for lunch, so we decided to wait for the right moment.

Callebaut, I'd like to say, is the best chocolate I've ever tasted. And I have quite a taste for Lindt and Valrhona chocolates. Callebaut is exceptionally smooth and has no waxy feel or taste whatsoever.

So yeah, as these doofus pastry kids came pouring into the main dining hall, 3 or 4 or, like, 8 of us flanked out the back of the kitchen with baggies and parchment paper envelopes and grabbed everything we could get our hands on. I got a really cool cheap pen from Vanleer Chocolates.

Now this brings us back to the beginning, in a very Pulp Fiction sort of way... The second I saw the box of Chocolate Pencils, I knew I needed to make some Chocolate Martinis for dessert.

Chocolate Martini
2 .oz Vodka (Preferably 100 Proof)
1 .oz Baileys Irish Cream
1 .oz Creme de Cacao
2 - 4 .oz Heavy Whipping Cream (Depending on how strong you like the drink to be.)

Shake vigorously in a shaker with three or four ice cubes.

Garnish as you see fit.


Ah, the good life.

Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons - Can't Take my eyes off of you
Portishead - All Mine
Bobby Darin - Chubby Clementine
Low - Those Girls
Cassandra Wilson - The Good Life

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Let the suckas know that it's THEM that'll be dyin'...

Every Saturday morning, Kerrie and I go grocery shopping. We go to the greatest grocery store on planet Earth - Jungle Jim's. Thing is, I usually need coffee on Saturday mornings. Hell, I need coffee EVERY morning... And since there is a Starbucks in Jungle Jim's, I usually hit it up for a "tall" (WTF?) house coffee.

Kerrie, not a big coffee drinker anymore, found a nifty little treat in their Blackberry Green Tea Frappuccino. For those of you who just clicked the link, notice the lovely fluorescent green color. Not a color I find too appealing. Also, you'll notice Starbucks doesn't provide any ingredients for this delightful beverage. My original intention was to re-create this item at home without the fat, calories, and creepy green color while duplicating the flavor.

I found, with a minimum for work, a very good homebrew version of this drink.

First, I made a simple syrup with green tea. After that, everything else was simply a matter of portioning ingredients....

Fruit Smoothie Frappuccino
1/2 Cup Green Tea Simple Syrup
2 Cups Skim Milk
8 oz. container of low-fat fruit yogurt (In this instance, Blackberry)
Crushed Ice

Start by making the "green tea simple syrup". You will need 2-4 good quality green tea bags (hehehe - tea bag), 16 oz. of water, and 1 Lb. of sugar. Bring the water to a boil in a tea kettle. When the water is ready, pour into a glass measuring bowl to insure you still have a full 16 oz. of liquid. Add the green tea bags and allow to steep for 5 minutes. When the tea is ready, remove the bags and pour the liquid into a sauce pan or stock pot with the 1 LB. of sugar. Stir regularly to get ALL of the sugar moistened. Bring to a boil, dissolving the sugar. Remove from heat and allow to cool. When finished, this will leave you with roughly 32 oz. of syrup - Plently for lots of smoothies that keeps quite well in a pitcher, refrigerated.

To make the smoothie, simply add the first three ingredients (in their designated portions) together in a blender, then blend with ice until frothy and frozen.


And there ya have it folks. The nice thing is that when you make one of these for yourself, you know EXACTLY what's going into it. That is, no weird colors or preservatives. Just my little contribution to the Food Baddie Universe...

Faith No More & The BOO-YAA T.R.I.B.E. - Another Body Murdered
DJ Rap - Good To Be Alive
Xzibit - Muthafucka
Misfits - Come Back

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Hey! Pistolero!


A great day to make a slow cooked dish. That's right, I made Puerco Pibil.

You know, everyone always raves about Johnny Depp and his Pirates character, but no one ever mentions Once Upon a Time in Mexico. I'm not a huge Robert Rodriguez fan, as most of his movies are b-grade shit, but Mexico was right on the money. And in the end, I now have Puerco Pibil.

I don't have any EYES fuck-mook!
You want me to shoot the cook?

Puerco Pibil, also known as Cochinita Pibil, is a traditional Mexican dish of slow-roasted pork from the Yucatan. It's a very simple dish to prepare, if you have access to the components, and it has an amazing flavor and tenderness when finished. Plus it's a great excuse to drink lots of Tequila.

The Recipe is pretty common, and a good interpretation can be found here. A good Margarita, on the other hand... Well, here's MY interpretation:

1 Cup Gold Tequila
1 Cup Bacardi Ciclon
1/2 Cup Triple Sec
1 Can MinuteMaid Limeade
1-2 Can(s) Water (Depending on taste)

Juno Reactor- Pistolero
Link Wray - Rumble
Dick Dale- Miserlou
Tito & Tarantula - Angry Cockroaches

Saturday, August 12, 2006

It's a long way to the top if you wanna rock'n'roll...

I'm in the middle of reading a few different books right now. Among them: The Nasty Bits by Anthony Bourdain, Bistro Cooking at Home by Gordon Hamersley, Chef on Fire by Joseph Carey, and the utterly compelling The Whole Beast - Nose to Tail Eating by Fergus Henderson.

Although I am continually re-examining the pages of The Whole Beast, I must admit that I am just not as adventurous as I'd like to think I am when it comes to exotic cooking. Or, more appropriately, what we as Americans consider to be exotic.

I've always been fascinated by classic French cooking and I'm constantly trying to create foods that reflect the ethic of "using it all". That is, all the fancy crap we as Americans never really see. I find it ironic that most of the exotic and rare items we never eat were (and are) derived from a simple ethos: "Use it all or starve. Your Choice."

Items of interest that comes to mind; Tripe, Trotters, Hearts, Brains, and to quote Chef Elzar - "The Garbage parts of the animal..."

What's sad is that I have never had any of the items I just listed, nor do I really have the desire to. Well, maybe if it was prepared for me I'd try them. I can't honestly say. Growing up in a good 'ole German Lutheran family (We like coffee and Pot Lucks) I found there to be no time tested traditions other than boiling the shit out of cabbage. (Which I will no longer eat.)

This isn't to say that I don't like many of the foods you don't see on menus at restaurants across this great nations of ours. Country Pate for example. Yummy! Or a plate of freshly roasted Bone Marrow to spread on baguettes. All the excellence and wisdom of the ages, but still... really pretty safe.

A few years back, my New Years resolution was to re-discover my love of food. I felt I did that. Until recently, I suppose. The honest-to-God truth is that there is ALWAYS something else to be experienced; something else to be learned...

What then? Where do I go next? Well, my goal is this: I want to cook a Pigs Head. Oh yeah! Cheeks, ears, snout... I can actually see Kerrie cringing in disgust, and I haven't even told her about this yet.

C'est la vie. Mangez la chose foutue!

AC/DC - It's a long way to the top if you wanna rock'n'roll
The Wiseguys - Cowboy '78
KMFDM - More 'n' Faster
Andrew WK - We Want Fun

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Did you stand by me?

Many of you know, by now, that I hate useless gadgets. I hate having flash-in-the-pan (no pun intended) utensils and kitchen accessories laying in wait for their specialized use. I have come to not only understand, but firmly believe that all you need is a good Hard Anodized Saute Pan, a really sharp chef's knife, and a few wooden spoons to have a complete kitchen.

But damn if I don't love a good Quesadilla... And I only mention this because Kerrie -and by association: Me- owns a Foreman Grill. Or something very close to the Foreman design. Doesn't really matter. What matters is, I love a good Quesadilla. See where I'm going with this?

In my travels -which haven't been very far- I've developed the perfect Quesadilla recipe and now have the perfect method for cooking it.

This guy I work with- he loves frying tortillas in a pan, adding meat, veggies and cheese, then baking them off for a few minutes in a convection oven. Not very practical when you see all the steps performed and time lost. Plus his ghetto-assed "sauce" sucks.

Moving on, anyone who has gone to college or lived in a college town knows, loves, and hates Taco Bell; scourge of Mexican Inspired cooking. Nonetheless, they have a procedure and they make it work. A lot can be learned from their process, and thus starts us on our little adventure.

The Perfect Quesadilla

1/4 Cup Lime Juice
1 T Soy Sauce
1 T Molasses
1 T Chopped Cilantro
2 Cloves crushed, minced Garlic
1/2 t ground Cumin
1/2 t Chili Powder
1/2 t Black Pepper
1 t Kosher Salt

Quesadilla Sauce
1/4 Cup Mayonnaise
2 t minced Jalapenos
2 t Lime Juice
3/4 t Sugar
1/2 t ground Cumin
1/2 t Chili Powder
1/8 t Cayenne Pepper
1/8 t Garlic Powder
1 Dash Kosher Salt

The Rest of it
6" Tortilla Wraps
Shredded Cheese of your liking
Sliced Rib Eye, Sirloin, Flat Iron or Flank Steak

First, slice the meat into thin strips and set into a 1 Gallon Zip-Loc bag.
Next, combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl and whip until thoroughly mixed. Pour over meat and seal bag. Marinate in refridgerator overnight.
For the sauce, place all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until completely mixed. (I used a mini processor for this. They are cheap and indispensable items for making small portions.) Pour the sauce into a squirt-bottle and refridgerate overnight. (The flavors develop quite a bit over those 24 hours.)

When ready to make your Quesadilla, fire up your counter-top grill. Once the "grill" is heated, quickly sear off all the meat until it is just cooked through. Place all the meat in a bowl and set aside. Next, spread the quesadilla sauce on one tortilla and lay it on the grill. Put down as much meat, then cheese as you like per portion on the prepared tortilla. Spread more sauce on another tortilla and place, sauce side down, on top of the quesadilla. Put down the lid and grill the Quesadilla just until the cheese is melted and the tortillas have some nice grill marks on them.


And that's that. I never thought I would applaud such a device, yet it is extremely useful for making these quesadillas and - I suspect - pannini sandwiches. Hmmph. There ya go.

WTF Doritos?!!?

The Clash - Train in Vain
Screamin' Cheeta Wheelies - Right Place, Wrong Time
Johnny Cash - The Man Comes Around
Andrew WK - It's Time To Party

Monday, August 07, 2006

Livin' after midnight, Rockin' till the dawn...

Before I start, I feel like I already owe Jeb an apology.

You see, in the wanning days of the Cosmic Cluster Fuck, Jeb and I used to go to El Zarrape quite frequently for deep fried cheesecakes and Ciclon with Lime.

Yes, it was a ritual. There was, and IS, something hypnotic and intense about combining these two items together. Some people like smack, and others dig weed. I am ALL about the deep fried cheesecake.

As time went on, and I did the appropriate research, I found these little treats were not made "in house" but were a product of a company by the name of Sweet Street Desserts.

Moving forward, I've wanted of those little muhfuhs ever since Kerrie and I got to Cincinnati. Making them seemed impractical until last week when I stumbled blindly onto a recipe that broke it all down for me.

So I made 'em. And then I got a bottle of Ciclon. And some limes too... So, yeah. Sorry Jeb. I had to.

Deep Fried Love...
Deep Fried Love...

The Donnas - Livin' after Midnight
Lionrock - Fire up the Shoesaw
Musto & Bones - Dangerous on the dancefloor
Screamin' Cheeta Wheelies - Wrong Place, Right Time

Friday, August 04, 2006

If yer gonna be dumb, ya gotta be tough...

One more reason why I no longer answer the phone when the dopey kid calls me.

To quote the prophet Lewis Black: "Don't think about that too long or BLOOD will shoot out of your nose..."

Also, please note that the person who wrote this paper did so in April of 2006, and grad-gee-ated college with a degree in the Culinary Arts 2 months later. I should be weeping with disappointment, but I just can't stop laughing.