June 2007


Last night, instead of choosing to post, I chose to make cheesecake. This is not to say that you, my reader, will not WHOLEHEARTEDLY benefit from this decisionmaking process.  The cheesecake was quite tasty.

Okay. So I started off with a semi-recipe ganked from the box of cream cheese. (so unofficial, I know). The crazy people at the cheesecake place think this will only make 1 cheesecake. If you’re making a cheesecake like a new york with the spring pan and the sides, this is true. If you are like me, however, and desire more crust, and thus make it in a normal pie pan…..the filling makes 2, with space for a little to go into the mouths of whomever is not bothered by raw egg.

Pie crust! Be lazy/cheap and get the 44c premade piecrust at the grocery store, or buy graham crackers and add 2 tablespoons of butter. If you go the work-intensive route, add a small amount of orange zest, would you? Oh, and save the rest of that orange.

So, on to the delicious and yummy part! Take 3 packages of (softened) cream cheese. I am wholeheartedly impatient, and can never actually find it in my heart to wait until everything is actually softened. So I just do the extra work.  Beat this in a bowl. Add 1 cup of sugar and 3 eggs, slowly while beating. Starting to be delicious! Add 1/2 tsp vanilla.

Now for something truly spectacular.  Add at LEAST one full tablespoon of orange zest, or until you can’t fathom getting any more zest off that darn orange. Be irritable at aforementioned darn orange for not producing more zest. Be irritable at self for eating other orange.

(or you can skip those last two steps. I’m not sure they affect the deliciousness at all)

Right, so then go rummaging in your kitchen cupboard for the chocolate. No, not the week-old tortilla chips for the party you had, or the baking soda or the flou….there. The chocolate! mmmm. 3/4 a bag.

Well, either way, use a 1/2 bag of chocolate chips (dark if you’re extravagantly delicious) and stir those in.

45 minutes in my oven set at 400, so it’s really 350. Start checking at 30 minutes. Feel free to make some kind of orange chocolate sauce. This is entirely unnecessary.

And there you have delicious cheesecake. Now excuse me, my cheesecake  er, breakfast, is calling!

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Burgers are one of Josh’s favorite fusions, and he’ll brag on my burgers to anybody. These are a super-easy hit around here!

1 lb 90% beef hamburger. (If you want, 75% beef is also acceptable, but then leave out the egg)

1 egg.

1/2 tablespoon cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp garlic

1/4 c bread crumbs.

Squoosh. Kids like this, but make sure they don’t lick their fingers, of course. Once thoroughly combined, make into patties. We like small ones, so I break it up into sixths. Your milage may (should?) vary.

Grill, broil, or fry as you like your burgers, substituting regular cheese slices with pepperjack or mexican shredded cheese blend. Grill your hamburger buns, too.

Instead of ketchup and mayo, use sour cream and salsa! Delicious!

Take well-drained pineapple chunks (or cut, core, and dice a pineapple) and dust with oh, a tablespoon of cayenne. Put in snackable sized container and put in every lunch box. DELICIOUS!

Workshop Cookery will be a series of methods and basics in a workshop format posted every week on Monday. It’s definitely aimed at the beginning cook and the recipe is walked-through as opposed to a written out recipe. Should I post the recipe as a supplement? The recipes are pretty basic (alfredo to make a roux, chicken noodle on making stock, chicken pot pie in making pie crust, etc.) Thoughts in the comments!

So you’ve never made a “Roux” No big deal, but you really don’t know what you’re missing. This is a no-miss start to a million meals! I use it all the time as a super-cheap, oh-no-what-do-I-make!!! backup in my emergency food toolkit. (Actually, you want to be totally honest? This recipe was *totally* a “Oh-no-what-do-I-make!” food emergency)So, a roux is fried flour with milk. Yep. Stupid french saying fancy things like “roux” when they mean FRIED FLOUR. So to start this recipe, and any roux:

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
Lots of milk (2-3 cups, depending on your roux)
(garlic, in the case of this recipe, 2 cloves. Not in all roux, though. Just this one. Also, 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning.)

Melt your butter in a non-stick pan over medium/medium high heat. High if you’re REALLY IMPATIENT and you happen to have a gas stove so you can turn the heat up and down however you feel. Lucky duck.

Anyway, so you have 3 tablespoons of melted butter over medium heat. Add your flour slowly. (In this case, also add your garlic and seasonings now.) Stir and stir and you’ll get a funny, pasty, weird looking substance that is COMPLETELY INEDIBLE AND NASTY. ew….

So! Now you’re going to cook it. Not long, though, you only want it to be a little dark yellow. (Here is where a camera would be SO helpful, but we’ll just say the color of alfredo sauce) So really, in the case of a “bechamel”, only make it all warm and let any seasonings get to smelling nice.

Now, add your milk slowly! Maybe a half a cup, stir that in, maybe a cup more, stir that in, and so on. You’re looking for something that’s relatively thin and creamy looking. If it’s very thick in the pan, when it’s really hot, it will taste like flour and everyone beg for water. This is generally considered a horrible thing. Look for just thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and drip, but not stream, off the bottom.

Congratulations. you just made a roux, and then you turned it into a “bechamel” sauce. Also, you finished dinner. Okay, okay, so only the first two-thirds of that is true. Two out of three ain’t bad! Plus, you’re REALLY close to being done with dinner.

1/2 c parmesan
salt
pepper

Add cheese (mozz is good here too, but don’t bother wasting your good, expensive fresh stuff. The cheap bag is fine) and salt and pepper to taste. Taste again. And again. Yummy, innit? Well, once you add the salt and pepper. There might be a bit much seasoning for you (my hubby is a seasoning nut) or too little (you’re more of a nut than he is. ^.^) but you’ll know that for next time. There might be too much cheese for you (okay you’re REALLY weird) or you may add more than a 1/2 c parmesan, and add as much mozzerella as you want! Roux, and bechamel (and veloute and espagnole, which I’ll cover someday) is a canvas. Add what you feel you want. It’s just a great creamy base for you to work with.

Serve over fetticine, and then EAT!

PS: If you want real mac and cheese, start with a roux+garlic, add 2 c cheddar cheese, and pour over macaroni. If you want EVEN MORE bonus points, put it in a cake pan and put breadcrumbs on top. Welcome to cheddary heaven.

Thoughts before watching the episode: I so hope Rory leaves. I really don’t like her. I hope that Amy and JAG get to stay. I also like Paul and Adrien. I’m still SO VERY GLAD Colombe is gone. She seemed so utterly insincere, and she didn’t teach me anything about cooking. I was horribly sad, however, to see Thomas Grella go, though…..WE WILL MISS YOU TOM!

First thoughts: Hello, bawlfest. The “What You Did Wrong” scene got really emotional at the end, when Amy started crying — she realized that the line between public and private doesn’t exist when you’re on TV. (Doesn’t she watch the box?!) This got Mike off crying, I think Rory teared up, Jag cried because of military memories – not a dry eye in the house!

So Paul and JAG had major troubles in the actual competition (which was to make homemade food for soldiers at Fort Dix). You see, they were making meatloaf covered in delicious bacon, but a half an hour before the end bell rang, they checked the oven to discover that NOTHING HAD HAPPENED. Their oven simply did not work. Obviously, this was hugely awful for them, but they really rocked it by DEEP FRYING the meatloaf. This, in my mind, sealed their winnings in my head absolutely. However, they rocked it even further by having this absolutely hilarious presentation in which stereotypically-gay-guy (possibly just metrosexual?) Paul does like, 10 of the hardest kind of pushup. JAG, the actual ex-military guy, just stands at the mic jamming it up. The people in this household were on the floor in stitches!

Rory and Amy made lasagna, and it did kind of look like your standard lasagna, but I really felt that Giada was a bit mean here. When you are cooking for army men, you don’t go into quality “riCOT-ta” and “parmeSAN”, you make them FOOD. Good food, that is hearty and sticks to your ribs! (especially when they’ve specifically requested home cooking. I don’t know about your grandma, but mine raised her nose at people who thought you had to buy the most expensive stuff at the store to eat right). I love watching Giada’s show for the camera action, and I’ve started to like Giada herself in the past months, but this Food Network Episode really took all that away. I think that, really, they did a great job. Though I have to say that their garlic bread DID look a little gross. The cookie, though……I’m with Paula, I want the recipe! Rory and Amy’s presentation was also tear-jerkingly hilarious. Amy comes out all, SIR YES SIR. I AM ARMY WOMAN! (And if you’re not watching the show….okay, Amy is small. Adorable. Sweet. Kinda quiet. Not mean, not hardened, not….anything, really, that is stereotypically army. Very sophisticated gourmet.) You’d expect this militant from super-country, super-loud Rory. So what does she do? Puts her hand on one hip and answers Amy in a hilariously, almost-flippant way. Much like the JAG-Paul thing, this switch of personality is so hilarious. I totally approve.

Adrian and Mike….oh, man. They didn’t make home cooking. Their pot pie was topped with “Crispy Deep-Fried Potatoes” (read: potato chips) instead of pie crust. This sounds good, this sounds tasty, this sounds like something I’d do, and also this sounds like home cooking. That was where it ended. They sided it with a tomato-pepper salad thing (this is a little vague in the memory, but it was definitely girly-food). And the dessert? It was billed as cobbler, but it was just mixed fruit in a little bowl with some whipped cream on top. Fruit was still frozen, too. Tsk tsk! And their presentation was an embarrassment. I stuck my head under a pillow and CRIED. CRIED, people. CRIED. It was just awful. They sounded insincere, they sounded unsure, they sounded unprofessional. JAG and Paul had to wing it, but these two actually sounded like J&P theoretically should have. Oh, it was awful.

I approve of 4 people being “safe” at the end, definitely. I approved of all of those four being safe, of course — well, okay, not Rory, but she can be safe, since her being safe means my beloved Amy is safe too. But really, I felt that Paul, JAG, Rory and Amy all deserved that safety when everyone could see that really, Adrian and Mike blew it. The worst part? Mike was talking about in the interviews about how he thought he did SO great and he thought he had this one in the bag. I felt so bad for him, especially when I felt that of the pair, Mike really had done the worst. In my opinion, this failure comes only in second to the embarrassment that was Colombe cooking Cheese Whiz and Tostitos and calling that her homemade nachos.

For a minute, though, I thought Adrien was going home. They started his review with “Why do you think you’re still even here?” As Steve said — Wow. That is like tossing someone a grenade, pin pulled, and saying, Here! Catch! Thankfully, the judges actually agreed with Josh, Steve, and I, and bye, bye, Mike! You can see his exit interview here (when they post it — likely sometime tomorrow)

I am so excited for next week! Alton Brown is running it, and they have to work with the food they like least! It’s going to be amazing, I am sure. A huge challenge for all of them — and from what they’ve shown, they all do pretty badly. It’ll definitely be intense.

So what did you think of this week’s episode? Discuss!

 Tortilla Soup!

1 Yellow Pepper
3 Serrano Peppers
3 Cloves Garlic
2lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
2 Tbsp Cumin
1 tsp hot chili powder
Fresh ground Pepper
Salt
Oil
Water
1 bag frozen corn

Dice the yellow pepper, removing all white flesh and seeds. Cut the serrano in half, VERY CAREFULLY remove all seeds and white flesh. Make VERY sure that there are no seeds and white flesh at all before you go ahead and mince this. Spicy stuff, here! Also wash your hands before you touch any parts of yourself you want to keep. Mince the garlic as well.

Cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes.

Put the cumin and chili powder in a small bowl and put a very healthy pinch of salt in and a couple of twists of fresh ground pepper. Stir this around a bit, and then toss this with the chicken.

Put sufficient oil into the bottom of a soup pot to coat, and put this onto a very hot burner. Quickly sear the peppers and chicken and then cut the heat to medium. To this, add approximately 3 quarts of water. You can really add as much as you need to feed your family, if you boil long enough, you will flavor all the water and make it into a great spicy broth — and you can add more “stuff” later, once you have this broth, and have really fast soup.

Boil until everything tastes good, and chicken is done. 45 minutes is a good benchmark.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and tortilla strips.

Tortilla strips:
Cut maybe 4 tortillas into 3 inch long, 1/2 inch wide strips. Deep fry for about 3 seconds. Crunch!

Hi! After having read the first 10 posts of most of the blogs I read, I have come to the conclusion that there really is no graceful way of doing this.

There will be technical difficulties, please hold. There will also be deliciousness, so you should…well, hold! Food is worth holding for. Right? Right? Who doesn’t like eating?

My husband and I, we eat lots of food that isn’t quite what you would normally think of. For example, fried spaghetti with asian chili sauce. Not quite what you would expect. Oh, and that time that we had Thai hamburgers….also not quite what you would expect. Don’t ever, ever make butternut soup, though, okay? I promise, it tastes like baby food, and it will MAKE YOU CRY.

CRY.

So we make a lot of fusion food. But we don’t think of it as fusion so much as we just think of it as something good to eat. We are both of the camp that if it tastes good, it doesn’t matter if it’s trendy or not!

I will also apologise. I will not be contributing to the food pornography of the internet, due to the very sad fact that, well — my camera sucks. Sometimes I’ll post a couple pictures that came out okay. Sometimes I’ll even post the crappy ones, if they are very important to the description of what on earth my batty bum is talking about.

I hope to post a lot of recipes, of course, but more importantly I hope to post lots and lots of tips for you. I think that cooking is, above all, a plaything. You shouldn’t cook with a recipe, you should cook with tips! I will also post reviews of foodie things that I approve of, and reviews of Food Network shows.

So welcome, sit down, and have somethin’ to eat.