Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cheese Pronunciation

I haven't had a single one of these cheeses, but there is just something about a goat speaking French that is awesome.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Young Cooks

Jay Rayner on the issue that "nearly 60% of 18- to 25-year-olds are leaving home without the ability to cook five simple dishes":
I don't think I could really claim that I could cook in a meaningful way until my late 20s.
Hey, me too! Though I guess I was really just learning to cook at that stage, not really cooking "meaningfully"... but the point stands.

I certainly don't think it's any kind of culinary death sentence to escape college with no ability to cook... I turned out OK after all. However, from what I've seen... any youngin in the aforementioned 18-25 range gains a distinct advantage by being able to cook a prospective partner dinner, though it's probably more a more pronounced advantage for young men. Just sayin.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ragu alla Bolognese

Cook's Illustrated - Ragu alla Bolognese

The above was made from a recipe in the latest issue (November/December 2011) of Cook's Illustrated (sub required), apparently based on the Bolognese sauce of Dante de Magistris - chef/owner of Dante and Il Casale. I think pretty much everyone with a passing knowledge of Italian food knows about Bolognese sauce... basically it's the quintessential "meat sauce"... with ground beef, pork, and veal all making an appearance. What I didn't know is that there is some argument as to what role dairy ingredients should play in the sauce, with some swearing by their presence and others saying they have no place in a proper Bolognese. I've made Bolognese a couple of times but I've always made it with milk or cream, so the fact that this sauce was a "no dairy" version was kind of intriguing.

Otherwise the meat profile here is: pancetta, mortadella, ground beef, ground pork, ground veal, and chicken livers. I'm a little intimidated by offal... and haven't really tried it since I was a kid, but I couldn't detect the chicken livers presence despite the fact that they are pureed and added towards the end of the cooking process... so keep that in mind if the liver thing is a turn off (or just omit them). One tip I would have if you are going to make this is to use a large/wide pan... I used our smaller dutch oven (3.75 quarts) and it held everything fine, but it took forever to cook off the liquid from the meat.

Regardless, good recipe and I didn't miss the dairy... certainly a little less silky, but the big and complex meat flavors stole the show. Worth making.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Peeper Ale

Peeper Ale

Had this nice little pale ale over the weekend... not sure how hard it is to find in the New England area (presumably not available outside it), but I got mine at The Wine and Cheese Cask in Somerville. A very solid beer that isn't too hoppy and is pretty well balanced... you can find more in the way of reviews over at Beer Advocate.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cheesy Heirloom Tomato Pie

Cheesy Heirloom Tomato Pie - In Mold

This is another recipe that Anna made out of Emeril's Farm to Fork (recipe here)... though he calls for Creole tomatoes and Anna used heirlooms from her mother's garden in Maine - hence the slight name change. Anna has actually made it twice, but this is the only time I've tasted it... not really sure how I missed it the first time, but I'm glad I tried it the second. While it didn't totally blow my mind, I thought it was a good dish... especially once it had fully cooled down. The tomatoes could probably use peeling, but that's a lot of work to add on to an already involved recipe.

Emeril calls for a deep dish pie plate... which we don't own... so Anna used the 9 inch ring mold we use for quiches. Worked out well with no leaking (always the worry when using a ring mold)... I'm sure the egg wash helped here. 

Cheesy Heirloom Tomato Pie

Monday, October 17, 2011

Small Apartment Kitchen

Things are crazy here at work with a move to a new facility coming on Tuesday, but I took some pictures of the new kitchen that I thought I'd post. Nothing that exciting, but this is the cleanest and most put together it will probably ever look so I thought to preserve it for posterity. I'm also proud of our use of space. So here we go:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Preserving an Open Bottle of Wine

I wish this column at Snooth wasn't in slide show form, but it's a pretty interesting discussion of what causes and remedies there are for wine going bad when you can't finish a bottle... with this as the take home message:
1. Minimize surface area
2. Keep it cool
3. Introduce as little oxygen into the wine as possible
By which he means, if you know you're not going to drink a whole bottle of wine transfer what you plan not to drink it to a smaller container (minimizing surface area and exposure to air) and put it in the fridge (cooling it). Anna use the Wine Saver which the author seems to think isn't a great solution... his argument being you're sucking all the good aromatics out with the air... but we've had surprisingly good results with it... at least in the respect of the wine lasting well beyond when you'd think it'd be vinegar.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sriracha Roast Chicken With Root Vegetables

Sriracha Roast Chicken With Root Vegetables - Close up

Sadly, I think it's no longer cool to like the omnipresent hot sauce known as Sriracha, but that didn't stop NPR from doing a column on the stuff five years late. But I'm not complaining since they can pry my Sriracha from my cold dead hands. This weekend I made the roast chicken with root vegetables you see pictured above. I didn't really detect any Sriracha flavor on the skin of the chicken, which was a little disappointing, if not surprising... but the veggies were great. Perfectly cooked and nicely spicy. I'd make it again.

Sriracha Roast Chicken With Root Vegetables

You'll notice that the chicken is trussed... which I did not do myself. The Bell and Evans chicken I picked came that way. Kind of odd, but nice.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Quinoa and Kale Crustless Quiche

Quinoa and Kale Crustless Quiche

I've been on a pretty long (unintentional) break from cooking... and even though I have some decent excuses (our kitchen is still in pieces, my lab is moving in a little over a week, etc.), Anna has still been cranking out the dishes and making me look bad. Whose food blog is this anyway? Well, for now... and I hope to rectify this over the weekend... I guess it's Chimpanzee Tea Party guest starring Anna.

Here is her effort on the Quinoa and Kale Crustless Quiche recipe from Food52 user Hillarybee. One thing she thought was important to note is that the recipe calls for caramelized onions, which can take quite some time if you're not risking a burned mess by rolling on high heat like some kind of culinary cowboy. So keep that in mind when you're figuring out how long this will take to make (probably longer than you expect).

While I played no part in making it, I did help with the eatin', and I can say that it's quite good. I would probably put the finger quotes around "quiche" when referring to it since it really doesn't have a custard base... it's more like a frittata variant in my view, but I suppose that's quibbling. Regardless, the flavors are really good and the hipster grain quinoa a welcome presence.

Quinoa and Kale Crustless Quiche Close-up

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Chimpanzee Grill Party

pan-sanma-ikebana by drawndie

If you've ever wondered where the name of this blog comes from, this video shows you the Japanese take on the concept. Originally... in the version popular early 20th century... it was just chimpanzees in a cage dressed up in suits/dresses having "tea" for the amusement of visitors... but grilling some fish and flower arranging share the same elements. Not to get all "deep" on what has become a full time food blog, but what I find interesting about these displays is what it says about our concept of humanity's place in the world. That we seem to need to dress up chimps in clothes to laugh at how bad they are at using chopsticks seems to reveal a deep insecurity. As I think our fellow primates insanely awesome, I find that need to distance ourselves from them both curious and a little sad. If you have any interest in the topic of humanity's relationship to chimpanzees I recommend The Ape and the Sushi Master.

But mainly the name is about me feeling like Pan-kun, trying to act like I know how to cook for (hopefully) the entertainment of others.

Affinage Controversy!

OsterCheese nerd post: A couple weeks back I linked to a blog post from Formaggio Kitchen about their trip to the Jasper Hills cheese caves, hoping to improve their "affinage" (i.e. aging of cheese) operation back in Cambridge. Well today we've got a foodie controversy about the practice laid out in the New York Times:
“This affinage thing is a total crock,” said Mr. Jenkins, the cheese monger at Fairway and the author of the pivotal 1996 book “Cheese Primer.” “All it does is drastically inflate the cost of cheeses that have benefited zero from this faux-alchemical nonsense.”

Mr. Jenkins, a New York retail pioneer, argues that affinage is ultimately about marketplace savvy. Long ago in places like France and Belgium, the affineur first stepped in to extract profits by acting as the middleman.

“It has nothing to do with making cheese taste really good,” he said. “It has to do with getting paid. And it’s morphed into a typical ‘French things are cool’ thing that Americans have bought hook, line and sinker. They all think, ‘I can even turn this into a marketing tool, so people will see how devoted I am to my craft.’ ”
It suffices to say that affinage aficionados disagree. My cheese knowledge consists of a cheese making course and putting together a few cheese plates on the advice of experts, so I really have no idea how true this charge is on the merits... but you should read through the article and see the results of their blind taste test. I tend to be a skeptic on most things, but I think it's pretty easy to see the difference aging makes in a cheese... so why would it be surprising that there are ways to do it right and ways to do it wrong? Which is not to say there isn't some "faux-alchemical nonsense" mixed in there, but that seems true of almost everything.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

2 Minute Mayo

While we're on the topic of quick cooking hacks, here's a video by Kenji on how to make mayo with a stick blender... no slow dribbling of the oil required! You can read the full post here. I've honestly never had a problem making mayo before, though I've done it less than a handful of times so my sample size is pretty small... but I still feel like it's more intimidating to people than it needs to be. Well here's your excuse if you've never made it before (and own a stick blender).

Monday, October 3, 2011

10 Second Garlic Peeling

Don't know how often I need to peel an entire head of garlic, but still pretty cool.

Jalapeno Cheese Bread

Jalepeno Loaf

Anna did all the work on this one, but I thought I'd post it because a) it was good, and b) the picture came out reasonably well. This one is from Homesick Texan, whose cookbook needs to be put on the library list methinks.