Author: platefodder

One from Column “A” ~ Mongolian Beef

Strictly speaking, There is no such thing as Mongolian Beef. There is a “style” of Mongolian Barbeque and a style of stewing things in a Mongolian(ish) way…. but Mongolian Beef as we know it … is an American thing. Almost as American as Apple Pie, as it were…. I know… weird. It varies drastically from take out menus to affected restaurants to quasi~authentico~chinesey places in shopping strip centers. So, while mine might not be what you’ve had before – I have just as much right to call it Mongolian Beef as anyone else.  And… if I’m going to be completely honest, this is better than anyone else’s….I don’t care who they are. Right then… You all know I’m working in a soy deficit environment. So I’m always on the job to make soy delicious things without using the actual ingredient. In our case I’m putting the Haddar Sauce to work again… so, that’s our starting point. Depending on where you get your MB fix – the rich, sticky, sweet/salty sauce is either a mix of …

Tales of Woe – Those Sunbutter Cookies

FANTASTIC!!!!!!! AMAZING!!!!!!! STUPENDOUS!!!!!!!! 3 INGREDIENT SUNBUTTER COOKIES!!!!!!!!!! … the internetowebbyverse screamed at me as I searched for a peanut-free cookie recipe. All of the recipes.. and I mean ALL… were simply an even swap (Sunbutter for peanut) in a standard peanut cookie formula. I threw caution to the wind, and blindly followed their advice.. wildly inappropriate punctuation. Here’s the hitch… Peanuts and sunflower seeds aren’t the same thing. Peanuts work so well for nut butters because they are homogenized easily. Oil seeds (like sunflower) resist blending… they naturally separate and continue to separate even after incorporation into a dough. Is that a big deal? Certainly.  Butters that want to be oil will be inherently greasy… meaning, the Sunbutter cookies are going to be overly oily on the exterior as the oil migrates to the surface, while the interior becomes dry as a powder keg. And all that oil is going to turn to laquer, creating an odd plastic texture to your finished cookie. There’s also something green going on. Sunflower seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds and the …

One from Column ‘A’ – Five Spice Caramel Pork

To be fair, I’ve never seen this on any Chinese take-out menu. I have only been able to get it in Bangkok…. or at my favorite Chinese fare haunt in the city. So, dont hate me there. In fact, if you are going to hate me at all – its because I’ve monkeyed around with the traditional recipe a goodly amount… I’m not using pork belly, Jane is deathly allergic to soy, neither of us like our head blown off with heat….. and (God forbid), I’m not using a wok, it’s a Dutch oven. Five spice pork is an old Cantonese recipe that has cousins and distant relatives across most of Asia. And, unlike most take-out oferings, is more of a stew rather than a quick wok fried dish (hence, the dutch oven.) It is smoky, spicy, slightly sweet and terribly flavor packed. Short of Char Sui, it is my absolute favorite way to enjoy pork. Alrighty then… on with the changes we’ve made. Chinese Five Spice Powder – If you wanted to go through …

Camera Obscura

About 37 years ago my dad and I went on a safari. No, we didn’t see lions…. or wildebeest… or even meerkat (although, truth be told, that would have been epic.)  Frankly, we didn’t even leave Marietta. It was a different kind of safari altogether. We were in search of the vanishing Cobb County. Even then, so very long ago, he knew what we had that made Marietta and the surrounding areas special was disappearing, vaporizing, and being ground into indisquinishable landfill fodder. He had the idea of capturing it all on cellulose,  preserved for all eternity in a little metal can. Now, driving all around town, snapping photos of every old building, house, and tree-lined street  we could find sounded like a laudable exercise. In fact, it sounded, well… fun. And, seeing that my father and I  really never did that much stuff together (just a wholly different set of interests going on) other than yard work… shop work… tree work…. repair work… ( see all those works there?) , I was game…. hell, …

Bread Whore ~ Perfect Caraway Rye

I’m really a simple guy in a lot of ways… it doesn’t take a lot to make me happy.  But perfection in the grand order of things is one of them. You don’t see it a lot; small perfections are elusive and fleeting. But if you slow down just enough to take it all in, you can catch all those bits that classify as Perfect. A perfect pair of shoes… the kind that feel magnificent as soon as you take them out of the box.  The ones, whether socks or commando – dirty or shower fresh, your feet are absolutely at home. A perfect day… Where first thing in the morning there is such a crispness to the air, you don’t know if you want to jump out of bed as not to miss a second… or snuggle deeper into the covers to make it last as long as possible. A perfect loaf of rye bread… Loaded with caraway seeds, it’s a delicate balance of softness, chewiness, structure and flavor. One that adds pedigree to …

Tales of Woe ~ Love, Hate, and Fake Soy Sauce

Shortly after Soy became an ugly four – letter word in our house (okay… 3, but it’s still a terrible thing), I was convinced I could produce a fake soy sauce that would mimic the properties, taste and joy of the luscious dark brown elixir. I’m here to tell you – I can’t…. And, neither can you. There is an army of crazy people out there that believes just because it looks like soy sauce… you can trick people into thinking it actually tastes like it. I fell into their trap; mixing balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, and instant coffee – – – Roasting mushrooms and steeping them in beef broth, or this attempt,  expressing the heavenly ( garbage )mixtures into soy-free nirvana – – – Fake soy sauce has become the culinary equivalent of the  alchemist transmutation of lead into gold… it can’t be done. However… that isn’t to say that  finding a suitable medium (like chickpeas, or lentils), then submitting them to rigorous fermenting, salting, and aging (like a traditional soy or tamari) can’t …

Bread Whore ~ I Pita the Fool

  I’ve been sucked in to the hype. “The Bestest Ever Pita Bread!”, “The! ONLY! pita! recipe you’ll ever need!!!!” (note – and be wary of – rampant exclamation points), “Throw out ever other Pita recipe… this one is the BOMB!!!” meh…. They’re not even close to the hype. And why they aren’t is several fold: Pita Dough needs massively long proofing periods (+ 8 to 12 hours) in order to create structure and flavor… or, a proven cheat to create those effects. Wet  Doughs produce flat breads… ” If the pitas don’t rise… don’t worry – they make great flat breads”… well, that just defeats the whole purpose of making pita… If I wanted roti, I’d find a roti recipe… right? Dry Doughs produce crackers. 100% All Purpose Flour (regardless of the proofing time) doesn’t have enough Gluten to create a structure capable of capturing the steam in order to get a puff. So… with all those road blocks in the way, we’re going to cheat. Here’s the thing… This is not a traditional …

Radio Silence (2017)

“Whack”… “Whack” …”Whack!” Is this thing on? My great-googly crazy, Aunt Dora….. I’ve been gone a long time! And for that, kind readers, I am truly sorry. Life here at Turtle Creek has been … let’s just say …. … .. . . Interesting. The past two years have been rife with the sound of ambulances, frantic midnight calls, sleepless nights.. and days, and a never-ending parade of hospital stays. It’s taken a while, but Jane is finally on the mend. Life is returning to something that has a vague resemblance to normal, and I’ve had a deep heart to heart with my inner 10 year-old self to reconcile the fact that my mother isn’t going to live forever. It’s true…. Life moves on…. And it’s either hop on board, or stand there and get crushed under the weight of it all. So, I am Back. Fair warning…. I’m ever so slightly more cynical this time around… and I’m not suffering fools gladly. Some bat-crap crazy sh*t has been happening in the world of food …

Open Sesame! ~ Not Chocolate, Not Peanut Butter Cookies

“I’d kill for a peanut butter cup.” It hasn’t helped that the Comet Halloween just whizzed past us tossing chocolate & peanut debris in it’s wake… nor that the typhoon “Winter Holiday” is churning out in the distance, chocked full of every imaginable forbidden delight in that never-ending advertising rotation, hitting the airwaves every… fifteen… minutes. Luckily, I’ve been able to igg out  a few small miracles. Watkin’s makes an impressive imitation chocolate extract. It’s not quite chocolate (being made from yeast), but it does give you the impression that you’ve doused the kitchen in chocolate liquor… and it does trick the mind a bit… just as long as you don’t think of it as Bosco. And, I’ve had a moderate amount of success with Tahini replacing peanut butter in savory situations for satays, peanut butter marinades, and an odd bout of mixing it with blue cheese for Ants on a Log… but, never anything sweet. I guess it’s about time. And, yes… they’re every bit as good as the ones we can’t even think about eating.  In …

Tales of Woe ~ The one with the Cauliflower

Since in this month’s Raw Spice Bar shipment I got an extra packet of Memphis Rub Dry Mix, I didn’t want it to go to waste… so I put on the thinking spurs. Jane and I have both seen wondrous, spiced, roasted cauliflowers on various media outlets and really wanted to give one a try… this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Slather on your spice mix – roast for 30 to 45 minutes – be rewarded with amazing roasted cauliflower deliciousness. It sounds easy… right? It sounds too easy to be true… right? Okay.. like everything else that sounds too good to be true… so was the cauliflower recipe. Here’s the thing. Cauliflower is dense. 30 minutes… 50 minutes… 1 hour in an oven just isn’t going to heat deep enough through all that bulk to do anything more than softening up the outer lobes a bit… and heat the center….maybe. All in all – cooking time was 1 hour and 20 minutes at 375. I then turned off the oven and let the head rest in there …