Saturday, November 22, 2008

Food Safety is for Suckers...

It's probably just a given, but food service workers are at a higher risk of contracting (not just spreading) a foodborne illness. While the average civilian works with a relatively small amount of raw food, chicken for instance, I find myself sticking my hands in leaky 40lb. boxes of raw chicken almost daily.

I wash my hands obsessively while at work, and God only knows how many pairs of latex gloves I use in a week, but sometimes... Well, as Dennis Miller once said: He's a slack-jawed lil' fuckin' rat, and all rat's have gotta suck the pipe Baby...

Thursday, my number was up. It started with the wrenching stomach pain, then went on to dizziness and profuse sweating, leading up to bodily excretions SO profound and disgusting that decorum prohibits listing them here.

Yeah, it was bad. Thankfully a day in bed and Kerrie's attentiveness got me back to a state of up-and-running. I was able to start eating again around 1:00 yesterday afternoon, and by around 8:00 last night I had enough energy to take a shower without collapsing from standing too long. I slept pretty soundly last night despite an overactive kitty tear-assing around the apartment, and today all I've really had to contend with is a dull headache.

But here we are, trying to figure out what went wrong, and what I'll do next. I'm pretty sure my own overambitious culinary prowess is to blame. I made Pasta with Vodka Sauce a few nights ago, and had the leftovers for lunch on Thursday around 12:30. I was really hungry and nibbled on a few pieces of the cold pasta before I got to the microwave. I shouldn't have, but I did. There was a slightly off flavor. Metallic, kinda... But once I had the pasta screaming hot, that "off" flavor was gone and I thought nothing of it. Well, I sure-as-hell was thinking about it Friday morning at 2:35 when so many bad things were coming out of so many open holes.

Yeah, did I mention it was bad?

Thankfully I'm on the mend, and I'm even stable enough to make dinner myself. And what does everyone get when they're sick? Chicken soup baby. Glorious chicken soup...

I have, since my last chicken soup post, evolved the recipe a bit to expand the flavor a tad. Nonetheless, comfort food is comfort food, and sometimes that's just what bitter low-rent chef needs.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

This one's on FIRE...

With the Fall weather quickly going from warm to cool to WTF?! IT'S FREEZING OUT!, It's become obvious that it's time for more baked goods and lots of hot cocoa.

This past week I managed to pull together an exceptional batch of biscotti. Not just homemade biscotti, but the kind you want when you go out to some high end rug-joint. The kind that just comes with a cup of coffee because it is so damned good.

What I've found, is that making biscotti is actually pretty easy. All you need is a little time and a steady hand for slicing, and what could possibly be the best biscotti are well within your reach.

And Sunday was, without a doubt, the best possible day for Hot Cocoa and Biscotti. Not just any Cocoa either... Salted Caramel & Dark Chocolate Cocoa.

3 oz Butter
4 3/4 oz. Sugar
1/4 t Salt
1 t Vanilla
1 1/2 t Baking Powder
2 Large Eggs
2 Cups Flour

Preheat oven to 350F.
Beat Butter, Sugar, Salt, Vanilla, and Baking Powder until mixture is smooth and creamy.
Beat in Eggs, then add Flour. Work until a sticky dough comes together.
Turn Dough out onto a greased cookie sheet and form into a log, as wide as you like, but only 3/4" thick.
Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes.
Reduce oven to 325F.
Use serrated knife to cut log into 1/2" slices.
Place slices, standing up, back on cookie sheet.
Return to oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Note: When you remove the biscotti from the oven the second time, they may feel a little soft. Do not worry, they will continue to dry out after they are placed on a rack to cool.

Other Note: If you want to add sweets like chocolate chips, do so after the dough has come together. Also, don't get crazy adding stuff. Use a little moderation and these will turn out exponentially better.


So yeah, Sunday was a perfect chilly day to enjoy some winter treats. There were some snow flurries early on in the day, and a nipping wind that made it feel so good to settle down to a cup of hot chocolate and a freshly baked Italian cookie. Oh, and the Clubhouse for our Apartment complex burned down. Did I not mention that? My bad.

And here we have the money shot:

Never a dull moment for this simple baker, no siree...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Evil Shenanigans...

Kerrie and I found a new place to get coffee today. While my Cafe au Lait was amazing, the whole experience was a bit of a letdown...

The Daily Grind is, without a doubt, one of the best places to get coffee - evar. I had, as I said, a Cafe au Lait and a Glazed Donut. The donut reminded me of the ones Grounds for Thought used to have - which were the best in Bowling Green! The Au Lait, however, was the best I've ever had. The coffee was hot, the foam was thick, and the coffee actually tasted good. I haven't enjoyed a cup of coffee that much in a loooong time. Kerrie had a Chai and a Cherry Danish. She seemed pleased, so the question remains, what was the letdown?

This place is tiny inside. They only have two small tables in a very cramped space, presumably for people to wait for their order - not for dining in. I was looking for more time to lounge around, but Kerrie and I just ate our pastries and left.

The bulk of their business is drive-through I suspect. And there is nothing wrong with that, I was just a little unprepared for the "no-room" aspect of breakfast. I'll go back too. I'll make that very clear right now. I enjoyed the coffee and pastries enough to look past the fact that it would be more comfy to eat in the car. I hope this place is doing well and holds on. It's definitely a good place for some Saturday morning caffeine. Plus, this place is in the same plaza:

If that doesn't make any sense to you, then you've never seen Super Troopers. Here...

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Sexual Nightmares and Sleep Crimes...

It seems like forever ago now, but there used to be a time when I would inevitably wind up at Myles Pizza with a variety of Bowling Green's seedier characters after closing at Cosmo's.

There was always something insanely cool about Myles. No windows, old high-back booths, pinball machines, and the heaviest gutbusting pizza on the planet. Personally, I would never try to make pizza the way Myles did/does, but it was something I would crave after a long boring night of ambient downtempo music and cup after cup of Sumatra.

It was always basically the same routine too. I would get a scotch (usually Dewars) and split a Pepperoni pizza with any of the other part-time sociopaths, serial killers in training, or robot makers that would tag along. Some nights the group was bigger than others, and some nights it would just be two or three of us. Either way, this was one of my more comforting routines from back in the day...

Now, as time has passed, there are no more 12:30 Pizza runs. Life has taken on a new shape, and I'm proud to say I make my own pizza from scratch. Frequently I might add... I've spent a lot of time trying to create both the perfect thick and hand tossed pizza crusts, and recently all my hard work finally paid off.

Tonight was Scotch and Pizza night. After a generally good recommendation from the Commodore, I purchased a bottle of The Famous Grouse scotch whiskey and proceeded to create an excellent Meat pizza on a hand tossed crust.

My pizza dough is a merciless quest in excellence. I don't need perfection, I need my dough to be excellent. And the hand tossed dough I made? Fucking excellent.

I chose some good toppings too. You can't go wrong with Pepperoni, but when you add a nice hard salami, some prosciutto, and a little sweet Italian sausage, you're coming close to nirvana.

Hand Tossed Pizza Crust
6 oz. Water
1 T Olive Oil
2 C Flour
1 t Salt
1/2 t Sugar
1/2 t Yeast

Combine all ingredients into pan of breadmaker, set to Dough and allow to run.
Turn dough out onto floured surface, punch down, and stretch to desired size. (12" to 14" is optimal but can be stretched further for a thinner crust.)

I use a breadmaker for this because of the extremely important, but often overlooked, steps involving kneading and proofing. It's gotta be done, and this is a crazy-easy way to knock out a great pizza dough fairly quick.

Gary U.S. Bonds - New Orleans
Prodigy - Smack my bitch up
Breeders - Cannonball
Daft Punk - Digital Love
KMFDM - Naive
Revolting Cocks - Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

When there is no more room in Hell...

Halloween came and went, with very little fanfare. Kerrie and I were going to be Fry & Leela, but her Gall Bladder surgery made quick work of that.

For Halloween, instead, Kerrie and I played it a little more low-key. I baked some amazing Sour Cream Sugar Cookies, and Kerrie and I went to Bonefish Grill for dinner.

Bonefish, for being a chain, was a bit of a revelation for Kerrie and I. Neither of us are big fans of seafood, but neither of us have had the quality of seafood we had Friday night. To put it another way, We were impressed...

We started with Drinks. I had a Pino Grigio, while Kerrie had a Lemongrass Martini. We started the meal with a plate of Fried Calamari. I love Calamari, and this was damned close to the way I make it. For our entree, Kerrie and I shared a Pairings Plate made up of four separate seafood recipes. First, there was Shrimp and Scallops in a Pan Asian sauce. The second was Salmon with a Lemon Butter, followed by Chilean Sea Bass with a Warm Mango Salsa. The last, and my favorite, was a Grouper with Chimichurri. We finished off the meal with two desserts, Creme Brulee and a Macadamia Nut Brownie with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and a Raspberry Puree.

I was slightly disappointed, only because the lighting was too dim for my phone to get any good pictures. The meal, however, completely wowed me. For once I was really into the flavors brought forth by different types of seafood. Salmon, for example, has generally disgusted me in the past. This however, grilled over a wood fire, actually inspired me a little.

To finish off the weekend, Kerrie and I rented some fun horror movies and we'll just lounge around nibbling on whats left of the cookies.

Sour Cream Sugar Cookies
1 Cup Butter
1 Cup Sugar
1 Egg
8 oz. Sour Cream
1 1/2 t Vanilla
4 Cups Flour
1 1/2 t Baking Powder
1/4 t Kosher Salt

In a medium size bowl, mix together Flour, Baking Powder, and Salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream sugar and softened butter together.
Beat in egg, sour cream, and vanilla.
Gradually add flour mixture to sour cream mixture and mix well.
Chill dough for at least 1 hour or until firm enough to handle.
Roll dough to 1/4" thickness, and cut into desired shapes.
Bake at 350F for 10 minutes. Allow to set for 1 minute, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

My Top 5 Halloween Movies:
(In no general order)
1.) Night of the Living Dead (1968)
2.) Dawn of the Dead (2004)
3.) Pet Semetary
4.) Young Frankenstein
5.) American Psycho
Honorable Mention (Post-Apocalyptic Fun)
1.) The Running Man
2.) Escape from New York