Month: November 2012

Get Your Pudding On…

If this were a perfect world, I’d probably publish this recipe on Christmas Eve. You would get all kinds of unreasonably giddy with thoughts of Christmases long past. You’d conjure up memories of diving into that mammoth matriarchal pudding by the fading light of the brandy flame and claiming the little sterling prize. You’d then jump up, run to the kitchen and whip your own Christmas pudding in fifteen minutes – just in time to carve the Christmas Goose. But this isn’t a perfect world… or land of kitchen make-believe… or the 1700’s. And, truth be told, you just can’t whip one of these puppies up in a jiffy… or a semi-jiffy. To be done right a Christmas pudding takes in the neighborhood of a month to do it up. And, if any of you wanted to make your own pudding, then an early start on the pudding beats a mad rush any day. And before you go and get all technical on me – No, it isn’t a traditional recipe (you ought to know me better than …

The Potting Shed

In search of my mother’s garden, I found my own. Alice Walker We’re a little off topic here today. So, if you were looking for a recipe, a witty little piece of angry rant, or anything food related, you’re going to be disappointed. Instead, I’m talking about the garden and Jane’s new potting shed (teahouse). But first we have to jump back four years ago. When we finished Turtle Creek, like a great many construction projects, we ran over budget in the building. And while we had the good sense to wall-in the area for the garden, there simply wasn’t enough extra cash lying around to landscape the house and grounds… it was a shoe-sucking mud pit enclosed neatly behind an attractive gated fence. We eventually got around to hiring a landscape architect to develop plans for the future garden and quickly realized that even with a modest design, the construction costs were going to be astronomical. I decided to take on the project, spending that first year wheel barrowing in load after load of …

Warning, Turkey-Free Zone

I’m not what you call a turkey fan. I mean, I’ve cooked ’em… and, I eat ’em… But I really don’t want that half butchered carcass hanging around in the fridge for a week while I work up the nerve to re-purpose it into something less recognizable as turkey. It has just never made sense to me. I’ve always made sure to gauge the # of people attending against the number of servings per pound so that whatever bird I bought would be gone… history.. vamoose!… at the end of the dinner. Cleaned platters and bowls… I’m a happy guy. So… no Turkey (insert appropriate quasi-ethnic dish here). We’ll do something else instead. Now… Breakfast-4-Dinner is something I can always get behind. Most nights, a waffle or fried eggs and toast will do the trick. Or, if I’m feeling super gluttonous – then it’s scrambled eggs, bacon, biscuits, hash browns and pepper gravy. And then there’s those times when I don’t want anything sweet or super heavy. Those nights it’s Savory French Toast. Savory French Toast with Fennel and Mushrooms …

Simmering Sweetness – Mochi Rice Pudding

Over the years, I really never warmed to the idea of rice pudding. I have had it over and over, in varying degrees of chefdom expertise, expecting it to somehow be different. But regardless of what diner, colorful commercial packaging or elevated restaurant, the promise and the hype never seem to gel into deliciousness for me. It is, after all, pudding with rice in it. If the pudding were silkier… if the rice was less rice-like and more like tapioca… Some time ago I received a package of mochi rice from Marx Foods in one of the numerous contests I entered. I thought the tiny, delicate, ovaline pearls were intriguing but I really had no desire to cook them down and smash them into a translucent, elastic paste. Mochi, or glutenous rice is a super starchy, somewhat sweeter rice typically used in Asian sweet cake preparations. I thought that one day I might try a hand at rice pudding… Plate Fodder style. Glutenous rice can be deceiving. Even with it’s diminutive and fragile grains, it still needs a considerable amount of cooking in order to …

One From Column B – Twice Cooked Pork

Alright, it’s confession time. This really isn’t authentic Twice Cooked Pork. But in my defense, I can probably count on one hand… with 3 fingers missing… the number of times I had authentic Twice Cooked Pork in a Chinese restaurant… including my trips to Asia. I’ve decided that it has become the Chinese version of refrigerator stir fry, where as long as you’re using already cooked pork – you’re golden. In the past, the pork has been left over Chinese BBQ pork (my personal favorite), left over stir fry, pork belly, or just roasted. It’s come with pineapple, bean sprouts, big chunks of onion, water chestnuts and whatever diced veg goes into every other dish. The sauce is often laden with garlic, hot pepper, or overrun with gloppy, sweetened generic brown sauce. It’s a hot mess. So, in all fairness, I’ll tell you what it’s supposed to be: The Pork is to be boiled in water, rice wine and ginger – cooled and sliced. The Vegetables should only be leeks and red bell pepper. The Sauce is …

Hello, My Loverlies…

Okay, I know you’re supposed to let fresh sweet potatoes cure for a couple of months before you eat them. It allows the flavors to concentrate, the water evaporate and the sugars develop… But, this year’s Baleful Bounty produced some gargantuan sweet potatoes and  I just couldn’t wait any longer to get into them.. I mean… it  was   huge!  the size of a football    –   no lie! I initially  cooked up a soup-kitchen sized vat of whipped sweet potatoes… and we ate on it for several days. But, as I found out, sweet potatoes on the ready – really isn’t as glamorous as it sounds. They don’t exactly go with everything. I eventually portioned out a bit for now-time and packed the bulk of it away in the freezer for later Holiday uses. My eye caught on a package of pre-cooked, pre-sauced, pre-sliced Jack Daniels BBQ brisket. I’ll be honest, I’m 99.999% of the time completely uninterested in prepackaged foods. It just doesn’t do it for me. I like food that gets me… and …

Tales Of Woe – “The one with the Cauliflower…”

The other week I picked up several (read that as five) heads of cauliflower. Do I love cauliflower? … yes, yes I do. But that isn’t the point of this tale. No, the poking and prodding to  stock up, as it were, was my nagging little inner voice concerning that absurd thing called  The Cauliflower Pizza Crust. If I were to believe the reams of articles and post comments on this anomaly… If I were to believe everything they tell me on the internettyweb-o-matic (because they can’t put anything there that isn’t true)… If I had absolutely zero taste buds… – then this would be the be-all-to-end-all in non gluten pizza crusts. It isn’t. And “it isn’t” a lot of things…. good – being first and foremost. It isn’t crisp like 50 of the recipes would have you to believe. I couldn’t cook it long enough or hot enough to make it crisp. No, it isn’t just like pizza crust. It’s like dried out, over-cooked cauliflower. And there’s not enough sauce, toppings, cheese-like substance to make you think it …