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    Friday
    Apr012011

    Murder Most Foul

    We know the Holiday season is long past, but we just laugh our heads off everytime we see this post from Salt and Fat.


    Link http://saltandfat.com/post/2166654276/friend-of-the-site-jelisa-castrodale-has-a-little

    Thursday
    Mar312011

    Mandelbratwurst

    Tuesday
    Mar222011

    Rules of Chef's Club

    The First Rule of Chef's Club is Don't Talk About Chef's Club. 

    The Second Rule of Chef's Club is Never Admit You Used the Microwave.

    Photo by kokopinto (flickr).

    Sunday
    Mar202011

    Chocolate Lab

    Chocolate.

    How much chocolate is in that bar, and how much milk and sugar? These are the questions that move men’s minds, well, when they aren't thinking about boobs.

    Really if you are going to cook with chocolate, eat it, or melt it and drizzle it all over the slowly building curvy under-edge of...well, never mind…you really need to know which chocolate is best to use for various applications.  Tom is here for you.  Tom took one for the team and taste-tested a whole array of chocolate bars.

    There are more than just Hershey bars out there, and if this is news to you, we have some other things to break to you. For instance, there are at least 17 types of bra clasp and as many shapes of breast as there are wine glasses, coffee mugs, and melon analogies.  So open your eyes up!  There is a great deal of variety out there in the world and it seems you’ve been missing it.  We had to go out and buy the Chocolate Blanc, and the 100% chocolate. Aside from that, Tom had seven kinds of chocolate already in the cupboard.  If you count the fruit and spice flavored chocolates Tom had 12 varieties in the pantry.  Yeah, he’s an underachiever.


    The photograph is really a very simple guideline, it only represents big jumps in percentages and ignores all the "other" ingredients nor does it look at where the beans are from, or the number of sources. 




    Running the numbers:

    White chocolate, is in fact…Not...Chocolate.  It is cocoa butter with milk and sugar.  Tom only put it on the cutting board so that we could tell you that.

    The Hershey bar is good if you like that sort of thing.  To Tom’s taste it contains a little too much "other stuff” like milk, and not enough chocolate.

    “World Famous” fund raiser chocolate had a bit more flavor but every bit as much “other stuff” in it and was very milky. So if you really are not looking for chocolate but more just something sweet to eat, it is okay.  Tom will be embarrassed for you, but it’s alright, Jim would probably eat it.

    Bakers Simi-sweet Chocolate had a very hard texture which is fine in a baking product. Nice big chocolate taste and once it melted, it was nice and sweet as well.

    The 34% chocolate bar's packaging didn't seem to want to tell us how much chocolate it had on board but it was nice to eat and had the distinctive milk chocolate flavor but was a bit too sweet for Tom’s palate.

    Now the 54% chocolate bar was rich chocolaty deliciousness on the tongue, it melted into warm sweet goodness rapidly and was VERY chocolaty. Tom ended up eating most of this one, and letting the flavors mellow before he refreshed the palette with coffee. The milky taste was gone at this level of chocolate, replaced with a creamy smoothness to the flavor.

    Now we jump to serious levels of chocolate and the dryness starts to come into play and with some brands, a bitterness creeps into the flavor.  Ghiradelli, however, is just a really big chocolate flavor.  Tom crunched this up a bit when ate the sample rather than letting it slowly melt.  Hey, we are guys after all, people to do, places to cook, and meat to broil.

    Tom sank his teeth into the Godiva 85% chocolate and WHOOP, there it is.  Dry and a bit bitter, but in a spice way that he liked.  This level of chocolate is why Tom is the lab rat here.  Jim’s skull would have exploded out the back of his head like a sniper’s bullet.  Tom is a professional Chocophile.  Magna cum Laude.

    The Ghiradelli 100% dark chocolate is not really for eating at all. Even for Tom.  It is very dry and bitter, all the while tasting INTENSELY of chocolate.  It really is too bitter to leave in your mouth unless you are super dedicated.

    So we hope this run down of what the percentages of chocolates was helpful.  Tom just headed out to have his blood donated as a source of laboratory grade sucrose.

    Saturday
    Mar192011

    Peanut Butter and Chocolate

    Last night I wanted a peanut butter cup in the worst way and there were none to be had, trust me I searched near and far in the kitchen. Now I know I could have gone to the store, but that seemed like giving in so…
    I opened a package of chocolate chips and poured my hand full of them, just to starting to drop them. Dumped them in a little ramekin and set it into a pan of shimmering water to act as a double boiler. Second rule of chefs club. Then I grabbed another little glass bowl (see I know what they are really called) and squirted in a bit of light corn syrup (and no I don’t know how much, just enough to cover the bottom) added two heaping spoonfuls of light brown sugar, a shake of cinnamon and set that in the shimmer to warm as well.
    Next I stirred the slowly melting chocolate and tasted it, I decided that it was too sweet (I know, right) and added some of the 85% bar left over from last weekend and back into the shimmer. Next step was to stir the sugar mix and taste it, it was yummy so I added two HUGE spoonfuls of peanut butter (Creamy Skippy in this case) and gave that a bit of a mush and then set it back to warm. By then the new chocolate was all melty so I tasted it again and finding it good I pulled it out of the double and poured in about 5 ounces of heavy cream. This is slow to mix and took me some time and patience, once it was a smooth mixture I set it back to warm for about 30 seconds. Next I added two spoonfuls of powdered sugar to the chocolate and mixed some more, then back into the hot water. I stirred up the peanut mixture and tasted it. It was good.
    So off heat and out onto the counter top with both bowls, I set out a good sized piece of wax paper. I turned out the peanut butter mix and kneaded it a little bit and then formed it out into a thin square of peanuty goodness. Then I flipped it out to the edge of the wax paper. I spooned half of the chocolate mix out on the wax paper and spread it out about the size of the peanut butter blob. I set the peanut butter blob onto the chocolate. I poured the remaining chocolate on top and folded it up in the wax paper. I set the whole deal in the fridge to chill.

    5 min later cut it into squares to serve, or if no one is around, just eat it off the wax paper.

    Saturday
    Mar122011

    A procession of Chocolate

    Do you want to know what happens next?

    Tuesday
    Mar082011

    Four Rules of Dining Out

    Yes we go out to eat. There, we admitted it.  Happy now?

    We are as thrilled as the next dude to let someone else feed us. When we find ourselves at the end of a long day of shoving the mouse around six inches of desktop real estate, we like to sit at a table and have someone, anyone really, set victuals in front of us so we can tank up our astoundingly awesome bodies again. So sue us, we are effort-challenged Americans too, what did you expect?

    But here’s the thing, it turns out that once you are kicking ass in the kitchen, making great food from stuff you bought by the pound, well, it starts to make you think a little different about where you go out to eat.  We have developed enhanced standards as to how we pick our purchased dinners and lunches. We have an awareness of food, and what you get when your order from someone else's kitchen.

    The Man Meets Stove Four Rules of Dining Out:

    1. The food has to be better than we can make in our kitchen, and we are pretty damn good, so don’t try to pull anything over on us.
    2. The meal has to be cheaper than we can do it for ourselves.  
    3. A big plate of meaty goodness has to land in front of us faster than we can say “Meat! Meat! Cheese!”
    4. The place needs to provide a feeling of utter relaxation, dominance of our world, and validates the simple truth that we ARE in fact superior specimens of humanity.  In short, the atmosphere has to be better than our living room, leather couch, BIG plasma TV, Xbox, and 80s hair metal videos on demand.
    Now we are regular blokes (well that’s what we tell ourselves that anyway), so we just need two of the four rules to be true or MOSTLY true for us to head out to the checkered table cloth and the busboy with the two opposable left thumbs.  Ladies in tow.

    Of course we break the four rules; we made ‘em! But not as often as you think. Life is too damnably short for cheap crystallized ice cream, soggy burgers, noisy, and annoying restaurants. We tend to buy our meals where the food is more difficult and/or requires longer to make than a half hour prep time. We like to eat spices, veggies, and meats that are either hard to get, or hard to store. If the restaurant has equipment that we don't (and really how likely is that?) we will line up in the rain with the unwashed masses to get “flavor-infused-zero-gee-Sous-vide-Himalayan-Yak-and-Couscous burgers”, but only because we can't afford a space station.  Or a yak.

    Lastly, restaurateurs, we expect staff to be available at a moment’s notice but not intrusive, and we REALLY hate waiting to pay.  If we are ready to give you our Benjamin’s and your idea of customer service is to have us wait in line to do so, then you aren't very likely to get our cash the second time. If the food was bad, you might as well do the honorable thing and impale yourself on your Wusthoff Chef’s knife. Okay don’t do that, but you really should think about the possibility.

    Now go forth and buy a meal!  Say hi to the yak.

    Yak picture curtosy of [TheAsarya]

    Thursday
    Feb242011

    In Defense of Fast Food

    What with the whole organic, cage-free, grass/grain-fed, no hormones, anti-GMO, no MSG, anti-pesticides, no additives, anti-preservatives, every-chicken-must-be-stroked-by-hand-once-an-hour-and-called-by-it's-first-name-Bernard, movement, it is easy to forget that Americans actually still like fast food.

    Yes…we....do.

    Despite the food movement, the United States of hypocrisy has not slowed down the consumption of burritos, noodles, fried chicken, grilled chicken, nuggets, sandwiches, donuts, tacos, fish sticks, and of course….the almighty hamburger. A quick browse of stock prices for fast food companies shows that Wall Street sure likes it's fast victual companies too. The stock prices of fast food companies fell during the worst of the recession, but only just a little. Wall Street must know something we don't. Fast...food...still...sells.

    Perhaps it’s the addition of those “healthy” 10,000 calorie salads to the menu? Yeah, that must be it…

    So what is this fascination with food that’s been processed through machinery till it screams? Well, we’ve got to think it boils down to one thing. We like the taste. We like the convenience. Yes, we like the food! People deny it, yet McDonald’s numbers wouldn’t be the way they are if everyone didn’t like the food.

    So what’s a Green, anti-corporation, Monsanto-hating, Hippie person to do about this? Well, first of all, cook at home! Try to buy what your farmer grandparents would recognize as food. But it IS important to try to keep perspective. Pack a lunch when you can, but don’t drag the square yard of wheat grass into your cubical.  It's embarrassing.

    Today’s hyperactive lifestyles means we may be forced to eat lunch with a co-worker in 15 minutes.  Good luck finding a Farmer’s Market in that time. 

    Mr. “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Michael Pollan wrote “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and freely admits that “Social values count as much as environmental values with me”. He’s even been known to eat unsustainable sushi! *Gasp!*

    So, eat up America! Drop another dime fiver into the McDonalds meatwagon.

    Enjoy!

    Just try to do it less.

    Much less.



    Image: Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    Wednesday
    Feb232011

    Alcohol helps prevent heart disease, Yay! In moderation, Boo!  ;-)

    BBC reports "14% to 25% reduction in heart disease in moderate drinkers compared with people who had never drunk alcohol" plus an increase in "good" cholesterol. 

    Party on, Dudes.

    Photo by iskir / Oscar Castañón Barragán

    Monday
    Feb212011

    Velveeta Fudge? No, really!


    I was watching Iron Chef a while back and I about jumped out of my Barcalounger  when I saw Paula Dean slap down some Velveeta “Cheese Product” and start mixing in sugar, butter, corn syrup etc into what was to become a…wait for it…fudge.  You heard that right, Velveeta Fudge. 

    The virtual taste buds in my brain went to work on that flavor profile, and the verdict was “It may not suck!”  So I went over to the Food Network website to check out the Paula Dean recipe.  I read through the comments and found out that Paula’s version of the fudge was highly variable, depending on which cocoa powder you used.  Failure meant fudge that tasted of cheese product.  Not good.  I also found out that Paula quite possibly got the recipe from Kraft itself and that the commentators said the Kraft recipe worked fine!

    So I ran down to the grocery store to get the ingredients to try this recipe out.  I recommend that if anyone looks at you funny when you pick up the “Cheese product”, just tell them it’s a gag gift for a bachelor party and involves a stripper.  They won't ask any more questions.  Do not admit your actually going to eat it, and certainly not in fudge.


    The first thing I noticed when making the cheese fudge was that it is a damn sight better than Ole’ Fashioned Fudge in that it is cooked fast in the microwave, and doesn’t require a candy thermometer.  Win!  Aside from the cooling off period in the refrigerator, the whole thing takes about 10 minutes to make, mixing and all.  Pretty slick. 

    The taste test was….interesting.  I am used to eating fudge that grabs you by the teeth, slaps your jaw with richness, and then goes off in your brain like a firecracker of sweetness.  With Old Fashioned Fudge you KNOW you just ate a chocolate bomb. 

    This was not that. 

    It isn’t a chocolate bar, but it’s not quite decadent fudgie goodness either, it was something in between.  Medium fudge. 

    That’s just not right.

    That being said, I can see two possibilities out of it.  One possibility is that one could modify the recipe with more chocolate and sugar to get more bang out of it, or the other possibility it that one can simply get another recipe for microwave fudge. 

    In Part 2, I am going to mix up a batch of microwave fudge and do a taste smackdown...

    UPDATE: Jim's wife, the Teutonic Goddess, woke up and pronounced the fudge "excellent" and "salty goodness".  Just goes to show, we are not the final word! 
    Kraft Velveeta Fudge

    12 oz VELVEETA Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product cut into 1/2-inch cubes
    1 cup  (2 sticks) butter or margarine
    6 squares BAKER'S Unsweetened Chocolate
    2 Tbsp.  light corn syrup
    2 pkg. (16 oz. each) powdered sugar (about 8 cups)
    1-1/2 cups  chopped PLANTERS Pecans
    1 tsp. vanilla
    Add chocolate mixture, in batches, to sugar in large bowl, beating with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended after each addition. Stir in pecans and vanilla.


    Pour into greased 13x9-inch pan. Smooth top with spatula; cover. Refrigerate several hours or until firm before cutting into 1-inch squares to serve. (For longer storage, wrap tightly and freeze up to 2 months. Thaw in refrigerator overnight before serving.)

    Place Velveeta, butter, chocolate, and corn syrup in large microwaveable bowl.  Microwave on High for 2 min. Stir.  Micorwave and additional minute; stir until well blended.

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