Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Bacon Christmas Miracle

With the help of the internet and a really nice librarian named Terry, I have in my possession the bacon recipe from Modernist Cuisine. If you are half as excited as I am about this, you are pretty damn excited my friend. Terry kindly found the page I wanted out the the 6 volumes (a mere 2500 pages), scanned it and then emailed it to me. Now I have to go ingredient hunting. The recipe calls for Fermento.  I wish I knew that last week because I was in Buffalo and could have picked some up. Luckily I have a friend out there that will be able to hook me up so I can avoid shipping charges. The other ingredient I doubt I can find locally is sodium erythorbate. I'll just have to pick a store online and go from there. Everything else is just spices and Cure#1. I've got plenty of Cure#1.

Definitely going to get a whole Berkshire belly from Adventure in Food for this one. This is so awesome. I have been looking for this recipe off and on since the book came out.

Thank you, Terry.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Food & Whine

The PTA and the Girl Scouts were both running magazine drives at the same time earlier this year. In an effort to pad the girls magazine sales, I ordered a 2 year subscription to Food and Wine. I had never looked at an issue before receiving one in the mail. Many years ago, I had a subscription to Bon Appetite. My first Food and Wine looked pretty much the same as those did. Seemed like every page had an ad and each issue could be counted on for 1 or 2 tidbits that were interesting.

The first issue I got had two "OK" articles, no recipes or techniques worth trying, and a crap-ton of ads. Even some of the articles were ads. You know the kind, write ups for $40 salad bowls you shouldn't have to live without. Typically, I save every food magazine I buy. This one went out in last weeks recycling. 'Nough said.

My second issue recently came. This one has some better articles and one recipe that I might actually try sometime. Jonathan Waxman gave a list of his top 10 obsessions. He also supplied a really good looking beef stroganoff recipe. This issue was also very Top Chef centric. They had their own little Top Chef magazine inside the larger magazine. Personally, I watch the show. If you don't, this issue would have been a waste of time.

One of the features in the Top Chef insert was a trivia quiz. I aced it, but the Just Desserts spinoff question was a lucky guess. Not sure if I should be proud of that. Multiple choice always helps. Phairhead...hope you studied....

1. On Top Chef, Season 4, Spike Mendelsohn was told to pack his knives after using what ingredient?
   a. canned peas
   b. frozen scallops
   c. freeze dried ice cream
   d. smoked salmon

2. On Top Chef Just Desserts, Season 1, which cheftestants were members of Team Diva? (I dunno)
   a. Zac, Yigit, Heather H
   b. Erika, Tim, Eric
   c. Morgan, Heather C, Yigit
   d. Seth, Maleka, Zac

3. On the Top Chef Season 8 Finale, Mike Isabella made _______, which the judges went nuts over.
   a. noodle kugel
   b. pepperoni sauce
   c. stuffed peppers
   d. fish tacos

4. On Top Chef Season 5, cheftestants cooked the dishes for Gail Simmon's _______.
   a. birthday party
   b. book release party
   c. bachelorette party
   d. bridal shower

5. On Top Chef Season 7, Alex Reznik was accused of stealing Ed Cotton's ______.
   a. pea puree
   b. chicken stock (seriously? no reason to steal his box of Swanson's)
   c. whipped cream
   d. watch

6. Who was the first-ever guest judge to appear on Top Chef Season 1, Episode 1?
   a. Ozzy Osbourne
   b. Big Bird
   c. Hubert Keller
   d. Jacques Pepin

7. What celebrity did the cheftestants cook vegan dishes for on Top Chef Season 6?
   a. Natalie Portman
   b. Alicia Silverstone
   c. Beyonce
   d. Moby

8. What flavor of ice cream did Richard Blais serve on the Top Chef Season 8 finale?
  a. froot loop
  b. foie gras
  c. chocolate chip
  d. cheddar cheese

Pencils down, hands up. You aced it, didn't you?

Only 22 more issues of my subscription, but who's counting?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Meat The Competition

It is nice to be included on the list of people that completed all of the Charcutepalooza challenges. While I have no aspirations of actually winning the grand prize (some of my fellow contestants went all out and took beautiful pictures while they did it), it is nice to be on the list.

The Charcute-paloozers

Friday, December 9, 2011

Micky on the rocks

Well not rocks, ice. Once again, I shouldn't have an opinion about this. We saw Micky and Minnie's Magical Journey (on ice) tonight. Maybe I was just tired and grumpy, but the show didn't do anything for me. Nice sets, good skating but the stories and music weren't anything special. Granted, I'm not exactly in the target demographic and the kids did enjoy the show. I hate to name drop, but Woody and Buzz Lightyear in last year's Toy Story 3 on ice were significantly better. That show was actually entertaining.

This was a few Disney stories introduced by Micky, Minnie, Donald, Daisy and Goofy. The first half was a Lion King summary, a Little Mermaid summary and Lilo and Stich summary. I'm assuming it was a Lilo and Stitch summary because I know nothing about the story. The second half was Peter Pan. Casey was very concerned about Tinkerbell, clapped hard and was quite relieved to see Tinkerbell come back to life.

I snapped a picture of my favorite thing to hit the ice tonight.

There is something strangely hypnotic about one of these things. Plus the envy and jealousy of every man in the arena is palpable. We all want to drive it. We all really, really want to drive it. Please let me drive it.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Charcutepalooza Good-bye Dish

Utica Inspired Greens

Tomorrow night, Charcutepalooza comes to and end. I've had some ups and some downs, but overall I have enjoyed the ride. I did some things I had been meaning to get around to trying and the deadlines and goals set by the Charcutepalooza got them done. I thought I'd say good bye to Charcutepalooza with one last dish. These are Utica Inspired Greens so don yell at me for not being exactly traditional. If you want exactly traditional, as near as I can tell you should do this:

I'm more of a kinda make it up as I go cook with dishes like. The more you make them, the more they evolve. I made them once before and this time around they were significantly better. In my mind, the reason why is homemade pancetta. Homemade pancetta is pretty easy to make and significantly better than anything I have tasted bought from a store.

First thing I did was grate some Parmigiano cheese (yes I know that is Romano, but I like it). I usually by pieces of Parmigiano and grate it myself. A microplane really makes quick and beautiful work of it.

Beautiful and pillowy, right?  Then I was a head of escarole.

The escarole goes into salted, boiling water until it is tender. I cooked it for about 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, start browning some diced homemade pancetta. I didn't weigh how much I used. I don't think you can use too much of it.

On the right is the boiled escarole with a quick chop to it. On the left are 4 or 5 pepperoncini that were cut and rinsed.  I was going to use a hot pepper, but they looked like crap in the store. I had a bottle of these at home and I think they worked pretty well.

The pepperoncini get added to the pancetta fat for a quick saute.

Then come the breadcrumbs. These were left over from Thanksgiving stuffing. I added a good handful and stirred. Then I added some chicken stock. This is another place where homemade stock will elevate your cooking.

Mixed in a bunch of the grated cheese...

Topped it with some more breadcrumbs and grated cheese...

Then it goes in the broiled to get a top crust. A few minutes later you have a pan full of really good eating.

The key ingredient here is the pancetta. It totally made the dish. And you can't but this ingredient. Which is a shame. If you'd like to try some, let me know and I'll share.  I'm starting to get low myself and that is unacceptable. There is another batch somewhere off in the near future.

So long Charcutepalooza. It has been a fun year. I look forward to taking the skills I learned in your challenges and honing them over the years to come. I picked up some more sausage casings today at Price Chopper. What to make...what to make...