Archive for the ‘iron chef polish’ Tag

Kitchen creativity

Or at least mixology, and a quick websearch suggests it’s original: there’s no drink by the name I call it, or with the ingredients I used.

I present the Dreamsicle:

1 shot Cointreau
1 shot whipped cream flavored vodka

Simple and to the point, yes?



Spent most of today in bed with a blazing migraine; it seems to have mostly passed now, but ugh. Nothing like wasting a day off by lying in bed drugged into insensibility. Dunno if it’s post-con comedown, the change in the weather, or both. Need to go out and pick up something bland but filling, or just make rice, but I haven’t anything really suited to go with it.

I made a sort of chirashizushi last night — had some leftover smoked salmon that I wanted to be rid of, then sliced some green onion shoots and carrots to go with. It was pretty good; the rice was the wrong texture, but I was using the wrong rice to begin with so it wasn’t really unexpected.

I’m hoping to feel stable enough the rest of the night to bake a pumpkin pie for the halloween thing at work tomorrow, but I’m not optimistic. My stomach still does a bit of a backflip whenever I walk into the kitchen, so cooking may be well out of the question. We’ll see how I am after running to the corner store. Well, okay, walking to the corner store.

Vintage Beanistry

Those who know me, know I’m a coffee fiend. My kitchen contains a major caffeine workstation with almost all the major ways of preparing coffee represented: stovetop Pyrex percolator, Bialetti, electric espresso, pourover, French press, and drip (never used but there in case of emergency). Still missing is the cold drip (aka cold toddy) system. Not on the list at all is the over-priced and over-rated Keurig — we have them at work, and using a refillable cup only leads to water spraying everywhere and a weak cuppa anyway.

Recently added to the list, however, is a vintage Silex vacuum pot had from eBay for about $30 after tacking on shipping.

Wow. Barring a home-built operation made from lab glass and brass fittings, this is a delightfully mad science way to make your morning brew, and it looks great while doing it, and it makes a wonderfully smyoooooth cup at that.

Of course, it’s not for everyone. You can’t set it and forget it like an electric drip; you have to pay attention to the process. Since the process is fun to watch, I haven’t found this to be a problem.

I’m not giving up my percolator, pourover or French press — they all serve their purposes, and now I can work on figuring out which system makes the best cup out of which kind of grounds. But none of them are as much fun to watch as the Silex, and possibly none are as educational: your daily dose of C8H10N4O2 prepared via the equation PV=nRT.

As a side note, I’m a huge fan of vintage appliances, at least where appropriate. Sure, I’d rather have a recent model casement A/C unit for my place than a monster from the 50s or 60s, or a plasma flatscreen TV than an old portable B&W set for the few times I bother watching TV (although I do perfectly well with a 26″ set from 1994 or thereabouts — I don’t watch enough TV to justify buying a new set). There’s no reason, however, not to get a piece of equipment that may be 50 or 60 or 70 years old, since more often than not those were built to last. I don’t mind that my percolator and vacuum systems are my age or older; they work. There are no little impossible to repair fuses or wires to randomly go kablooie; they only stop working when they’re physically broken. And more often than not, these are home appliances that were designed not only to be functional, but to look good while doing it. Let’s face it, a Pyrex percolator with a glass basket and syphon is a lot more interesting to watch than a Mr. Coffee.

I’m also enjoying slowly adding more and more glass equipment to my kitchen. Since I don’t have kids or pets or earthquakes to worry about, I can indulge myself. Glass doesn’t impart flavors to whatever you’re preparing, and again, it looks cool. And if it gets broken, well, that’s my own damn fault and I should be more careful anyway.

Anyone know how to brass-plate the metal fittings on them, though? :)

There has been much cookery of late.

My new place does not have a large kitchen, but it has a larger kitchen than my old place, and I have been enjoying the heck out of it. It’s nice having some room to work, even if it’s not a lot of room to work, since the old one had no room to work.

I am finally tackling baking. I’ve made bread (without using a bread machine) which was just lovely and I’ll probably make another loaf tonight. I’m going to tackle red velvet cake from scratch (the one from a mix was just lovely, but I think I can do better than that).

I’ve also engaged in some just plain experimentation. Ramen, for example, can be made just lovely if you put a little extra effort in. I chopped up a yellow pattypan squash (have I mentioned how much I love having a weekly farmers market only two blocks away?) and sautéed it with onions and garlic in butter, added the requisite water and only half the flavor packet, and then the noodles. Oh, that was good.

I also learned how to make fried rice — it’s really easy. I chuck a handful of peas and corn into the rice cooker with the rice, and whatever herbs and spices seem a good idea at the time. The hard part is that you have to plan well ahead since the rice needs to cool before you can make it.

However, my pizza sauce and my peanut sauce seem to have fallen off, so I have to work on those. Not sure what’s on the menu tonight other than the pork chops thawing in the fridge right now. I’m sure I’ll figure out something to do with them. I’m leaning towards a brief soak in dry vermouth with rosemary before pan-frying, but I dunno yet. Depends on how tired I am when I get home. If I had some pineapple and almonds, I might make a Hawaiian pizza… hm. May have to stop at the store on the way home.

Om, nom, and furthermore nom.

Starting this past January, every weekend I go out to visit Evil Twin et famille, I end up cooking something out of Julia Childs’ Mastering the Art of French Cooking. First was a roast pork that included the first gravy I had ever made from scratch.

All modesty aside, it was amazing.

Then on the Blue Man Group weekend, I made beef braised in beer. It was very good, although I wasn’t happy with the sauce. It needed to reduce more. It was delicious, but it wasn’t as delicious as it could (should?) have been. I will re-approach it eventually and do it better.

Last night was Fondue de Poulet à La Crème — chicken cooked in cream and onions.

Three cups of whipping cream.

Three cups of whipping cream.

Three cups of whipping cream.

Just sit back a moment and let your arteries contemplate that. If you hear a little *crik!* they’re probably just spontaneously hardening at the thought.

Now imagine all that lovely whipping cream, having spent half an hour as the braising liquid for chicken breasts with yellow onions, and a dash of white pepper, curry powder, salt and cognac, being cooked down in to a sauce. The flavor brightened by a bare dash of lemon juice, smoothed by the addition of a tablespoon or two of additional whipping cream, and then strained, leaving a bowl of smooth, off-white perfection.

The whole was served atop the basic risotto recipe provided later in Mastering…, with a side of peas and carrots (more to provide a little color to the plate, which between the sauce and chicken and rice was otherwise very very white and off-white).

Suffice to say that as long as humans need to eat, Julia Child will be remembered and her books will remain in print. This was a fairly easy recipe, all things considered. Prep was fairly straightforward (next time I’ll cut the chicken chunks smaller, though), ingredients were nothing that the average kitchen wouldn’t already have for the most part–everyone’s got salt, pepper and curry powder, yes? Cognac was only one of several choices for deglazing–Calvados, white wine and dry vermouth were all suggested alternatives. Everyone’s got at least one of those, or can get a bottle nearby. The rest was whipping cream, yellow onions, and chicken. The recipe called only for ‘chicken, cut up’, but we went for chicken breast.

The great thing about cooking from Julia’s recipes is that once you look at them, the points at which one might vary, substitute or experiment without wrecking the whole thing are fairly obvious. It inspires a great deal of confidence, and Mastering… is written in a way that you really feel like Julia has your back.

I’ve been advised that scallops and lobster thermidor (not necessarily at the same time) are in my culinary future. I can’t say I’m looking forward to disassembling a lobster, but I think I can cope. Or I’ll fob off the disassembly on someone else so I can “concentrate on the cooking”. :D

Food for thought.

Or maybe just thinkin’ about food. Try these websites on for (super)size:

Fancy Fast Food
My Food Looks Funny

My face is melting!

Local hot sauce company CaJohn’s apparently was on TV last week for their Holy Jolokia! sauce, and a cousin of mine asked me to pick him up a bottle and send it to him.

They had a sample out. I had to taste it.

So that’s what the strong force tastes like. It was a mouthful of nuclear fusion. Smoky, tangy, subtly sweet starcore.

I think that was what surprised me the most — that it actually had a flavor beyond “HOLY SMOKING SNOT ON A STICK, MY TONGUE IS DISINTEGRATING!”

For comparison, the Red Savina, the most vicious habanero, runs about 580,000 Scovilles max, give or take a few.

The Bhut Jolokia, the beast inside this sauce, starts around 850,000 and can top a million.

It didn’t clear my sinuses. It boiled them dry.

As it turned out, I got their last bottle. When they have more, I need to get one for myself.

Further evidence of the decline of human civilization.

Spray. Pancake. Batter.

Oy, my back…

Took advantage of my time off from $EMPLOYER to visit a couple days with my friends Walt and Siobhan, their two children, and three oversized dogs who are convinced each of them that they’re really no more intimidating than a chihuahua.

Absinthe—prepared the traditional way with a sugar cube and a cold water drip—has been consumed. It’s lovely.

Golf was played. I shot two bogeys and a 74 at Kyber Run. Unfortunately the two bogeys were my *best* holes and the 74 was for nine holes, not eighteen. I reached a par-5 almost in the regulation three shots—a five iron off the tee, a five-iron out of the woods, and a five iron up close to the green. I then took three chips to get it up on the deck, and three putts to get it in the hole. Oh, well.

We talked–and this will hopefully be of interest to , , , and any other Vanguarders that I’m forgetting as I’m really exhausted—about the possibility of a 20th anniversary special issue for Vanguard Dossier in 2010.

The Greatest Invention in the History of Junk Food

Red velvet cake twinkies. I mean, damn.