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Everything posted by carp

  1. So the LA Times says it's National Margarita Day and who am I to argue? As my ode to margaritas I offer you the Calamansi Margarita:
  2. All of my mother's cooking defies logical explanation. She cannot use any setting on her stove above medium, her pans (all saucepans or small stock pots of one sort or another) have razor-thin bottoms that are so round they can't stand up on their own when empty. Her wooden sppons are stained, worn, and splintered. And it's best not to talk about her knives. To say they are dull is an understatement, or better yet, to say that they are knives would be at least somewhat of an exaggeration (there are prisoners, I'm sure, who would reject my mother's cutlery as unsuitable). Yet she daily turns out good food that would be completely impossible for me to reproduce in her kitchen. I'm not just saying this because I'm her kid and I grew up on the stuff. The whole family marvels at her cooking. And every year when gift giving opportunities come up, they all give her stuff to replace the crap she uses, but she won't budge. It sits in her pantry, often still in the box, waiting for a special occasion.
  3. There is a certain irony to the situation, which I think she had a right to point out. She did whine, but she was expressing her opinion and when it came down to the cooking it didn't seem to get in her way.
  4. With things, you know, what about a cooking stay-cation?
  5. carp

    Grilled Chicken Wings

    I make a lot of buffalo-style wings on the grill. I just grill the wings straight out of the butcher paper or freezer until they are nice and crispy and then I toss them in a hot buffalo wing style sauce made with olive oil, hot sauce, more hot sauce, vinegar, salt, and pepper. I then usually serve them with a blue cheese sauce made with yogurt and, of course, blue cheese. They tend to turn out pretty well even without any brining, marinating, or rub. Not that I'm opposed to any of it, but I usually end up doing this on a whim and whatnot.
  6. I smoked a butt part last week. The exciting photos that follow, are raw and uncensored, so take this as your warning; If hardcore images of mis-labeled bone-in butts offend you, then I guess... well, prepare to be at least somewhat offended. These photos chronicle the hot action from the moment I bought the butt from the butcher to the point at which I pulled the butt off the grate. Here is where the mis-labeling comes in... It's actually a bone-in portion of sweet, sweet porcine leg carcass. This is the rub. Your basic paprika, etc... While I prepared the rub and got the smoker ready to go, I put the butt in the freezer to get a bit of a chill. Unfortunately, the slight freezing adhered some of the butcher paper to the meat. It came off easily, but is conspicuously visibile in this photo. After a thorough hand-rubbed application of seasonings, the butt was ready for action. Only 16 or so hours to go... Way too early on the following morning... It's time to start spraying the butt with something. I think this was apple juice. Cup of coffee later... Yep, it's apple juice. With a lot more smoking yet to go, the butt is already starting to look like something. ....about six hours later (about 15 or so hours after going in the smoker): After the lengthy cooking the butt was disposed of quite unceremoniously...
  7. I don't think it's gone far enough. I'm looking for something where competitive cooking meets survivorman meets fear factor meets joanie loves chachi. Like you put somebody in a survival situation and make them cook fancy pants haute cuisine in the wild. Or a cooking competition where they throw in some questionable ingredients like in fear factor. Or where the cooks are given ingredients that are potentially poisonous or spoiled and the winner is the one who avoids getting anyone sick while at the same time serves the most delicious fare. Or a show where people compete to either make out with or open a restaurant with Flavor Flave, and when the show is over, America gets to choose.
  8. I've had good luck frying tortillas to a crisp using the CI method, but not much luck using it to get tortillas right for enchiladas. I tried and either the tortillas were not quite fried enough and they separated or fell apart or they were too stiff to roll. I have better luck using hot oil and frying the tortillas just long enough to soften them.
  9. So why did my 8-cup soft sandwich bread recipe kill it? As it turns out, the Professional 600 mixers made before August of 2006 have a plastic gear housing that is completely inadequate for the size of the motor. Put a strain on the mixing head — bread dough, for instance — and the housing flexes, throwing the whole gear train out of alignment. When that happens every gear strips, locking up the whole assembly and causing an ear splitting shriek that will be etched in your memory forever. It is a horrible sound. Kitchenaid redesigned the gear housing in 2006, replacing it with a metal housing capable of taking the load put out by the motor. They repaired the Professional 600s that died under warranty but didn’t put out a service bulletin or recall notice for the others. We were left on our own. You see, the mixer doesn’t self destruct the first time you use it, the problem is cumulative. The flex gets worse with time until one day the gearbox flexes just far enough to cause a train wreck. It happened often enough that the Kitchenaid engineers built a new gearbox. They just didn’t tell the rest of us. It took an engineer with a dead mixer to find out why the gears stripped the way they did. My mixer is out of warranty so I wanted to see what my options were. I did a little research and found dozens of other Professional 600 owners who experienced exaclty the symptoms and mixer death. One of them was an engineer who took his mixer apart. It was he who discovered why the gears stripped the way they did. There was a detailed analysis with photos on his website, but it is no longer available. Given that this was a known design flaw — one that Kitchenaid admitted when redesigning the gearbox — I asked them to cover the repair of my mixer. They refused, charging me $150 to replace the gears and gearbox housing. Their customer service representative claimed A) that mixing 8 cups of flour for seven minutes, rather than the recommended five, was responsible for the lockup that killed the mixer, and B) that while the gearbox did indeed crack, the gears stripped first, so the gearbox couldn’t have been the problem. I pointed out that the gearbox flexes, causing the gears to strip before the housing cracks but she didn’t want to hear it. The problem was obviously my fault, and her tone suggested that I was probably lying about only mixing 8 cups of flour. It was an infuriating conversation. In short, Kitchenaid markets the Professional 600 as a heavy duty mixer designed to knead bread dough knowing that 90% of their customers are going to be making cakes, cookies and meringues, which put no strain on the motor. It’s the 10% of us who do bake bread (or use the meat grinder) on a regular basis who are fucked because Kitchenaid won’t stand behind its products. Chad ← A couple of years ago I tried making my own rice flour by grinding some rice using the grain mill attachment. About half a cup into the operation, the mixer made a terrible sound signaling that rice flour was not going to be in my immediate future. $100 later, my local Kitchenaid repair shop returned my mixer, newly improved.
  10. carp

    I'm on a puff binge!

    I tried this in an Orville Redenbacher hot air popper, just to see what would happen and, uh, it did not work, so maybe don't try it. The rice just shoots out, almost immediately, unpopped and totally unpuffed. This is just an FYI. I tried this with raw and parcooked rice, BTW, and both times the results were not good. Basically, the only result was rice all over my counter. I suspect the problem is that the fan is set a speed suitable for corn and the rice I'm using, even with added moisture, is too light for the fan.
  11. carp

    Cheddar Cheese Sauce

    Cheese melted into reduced cream can be made to be as thick as you want it without any added starch. Reduce cream until it reaches roughly the thickness you're after, then add the cheese.
  12. I am trying to get the most sour results I can with a San Francisco culture. I have a pre-ferment at 28C and I have been baking samples from it every 24-hours since Sunday. I am using your EGCI recipe, so I began with one-cup of cold starter then added one-cup of AP flour and one-cup of water. My first sample was baked after 4 hours. Then every 24-hours I take a cup of starter to bake my sample and then refresh the culture with another cup of water and a cup of flour. So far the results don't show much increase in sourness. I am still getting a healthy rise out of the yeast and good bread, but it seems the bacteria are not producing appreciably more acidity. Should I increase the temperature of the culture? Should I try a less-hydrated pre-ferment (or more hydrated)? Should I be looking at the flour? Or is there some other factor I should be considering?
  13. carp

    slummin' it!

    mayonnaise sandwiches
  14. Here is a link to another thread that has some good points on making Guanciale (I think Ruhlman is right and you should avoid making guanciale in your typical fridge).
  15. Hoppe's Garden Bistro in Cayucos.
  16. I don’t see why it would harm the process to refrigerate the meat mid-way and then finish it later. However, I think it will take longer that way because you will have to slowly bring the meat up from under 40 degrees, out of the fridge, to near 200. But the bottom line is barbecue takes a long ass time. If hanging out on the terrace in the middle of the night babysitting some meat product is not your idea of a good time, maybe you should give up on BBQ.
  17. Brisket is a little more challenging than, say, a pork butt because it can dry out if you overcook it. I would definitely take a butt to 190 and beyond as with lower temperatures you don’t get as nice a pull. But brisket I would tend to pull out a little sooner, wrap it tightly, and let carryover take it from there. On the WSM, if you don’t keep it hot enough to pull through the stall, you can dry out the brisket. As it turns out, if you are using the minion method, by the time the meat hits the stall, the charcoal level is sometimes too low and I’ve had trouble maintaining the right temperature at this very crucial stage. Just be sure that about hour-10, when you notice that the meat seems to just stick at around 170 something degrees and doesn’t seem to budge for what can seem like hours on end, that you keep the heat from dropping. At the stall, I make sure to have the smoker at 222-230, and not much lower, because I find that otherwise it takes too long for the meat to work through the stall and, by the time the temperatures start climbing again, the brisket has lost a lot of moisture.
  18. You would not want to start it in the oven. However, you could choose to finish it there. For reasons that my high school science training did not fully prepare my feeble mind to comprehend, meat only absorbs smoke flavor while raw, so putting it in the oven first would leave you with a lot less flavor than you might want. Nonetheless, since once the meat gets over 140 degrees or so it doesn’t absorb smoke flavor, you can certainly choose to finish it in the oven and it will come out just about as well as if you had smoked it all the way through.
  19. As you probably know, but which I will repeat so that if you don’t know now you know; Grandma’s OG is not real molasses in that it is not a by-product of cane sugar manufacture. Molasses is made from the liquid left over after the sugar crystals have been drawn out of cane juice for making granulated sugar. However, Grandma’s is made of whole cane juice. The result is a much smoother, sweeter syrup that lacks a lot of the qualities one looks for in molasses. I think it lacks molasses flavor and has none of the bitterness that I believe is an important characteristic that is a necessary element in most applications that call for molasses.
  20. I am sooo excited about this! I can’t wait to fill my shelves with month after month of exciting lifestyle tips from Rachel Ray. This magazine will fit right in with my other subscriptions. I’ll read it right after Hustler and Swank, but right before my NAMBLA newsletter and Oprah (I always have to save some erection for Oprah).
  21. You’re already breaking eggs open, busting out the measuring cups, and pulling out the mixer… so just go ahead and make the cake from scratch already… C’mon! You know you want to… Don’t be scared. It’s only a cake. My main problem with the mixes, is that no matter what you do, they all taste just about the same and have the same strangely “moist,” “fudgy” flavor. Sure the box says, Devil’s Food, or Triple Chocolate, etc… but the cake has the same cloying flavor and weirdly “fudgy” texture. The butter cakes and yellow cakes pretty much have the same problem and although some “doctoring” or “Sandra Lee-ing” can change the flavor a little, the cake is still a fudgy mess with a weird crumb. Have some respect for yourself and don’t mess with the mixes. It’s the karaoke of pastry. Don’t go there. Who decided all cakes needed fudge anyway? It’s not necessarily the chemicals I want to avoid. I recently saw a brand of “organic,” “all-natural” cake mixes. The chocolate version contained flour, sugar, dutch-process cocoa, baking powder, and salt… The instructions required separated eggs, butter (or oil), and milk. What is the price? …you might ask… an alarming $6.99 for just enough mix to fill a couple of 9” pans. (For those who took the short bus I’ll explain why I think $7 is too much: YOU ARE MAKING AN “ORGANIC” CAKE FROM SCRATCH, BUT PAYING THROUGH THE NOSE FOR THE INGREDIENTS AND THE PRIVILEDGE OF HAVING SOMEONE MEASURE THEM OUT FOR YOU.)
  22. There is a myth, perpetuated by many including Alton Brown and armies of cake decorators, that mixes yield better cakes than from scratch. Bullshit. Just keep trying. Egg foams are not easy to pick up and occasionally you are going to have a dud, but keep at it. Cake from a mix is better than my genoise? Hell no! Are you fucken kidding me?
  23. carp

    Good fish recipes

    Swordfish is all over the place. As for the mercury... What? You don't like mercury? Unfortunately, mercury is a contaminant that is common in fish and it is particularly common in long-living or predatory fish. In most parts of the world the methylmercury is actually of natural origin. But swordfish is still pretty common to American menus. The USDA warns some people against consuming too much, I believe, although I don't recall the guideline or to whom it applied.
  24. carp

    Pork Shoulder

    Pork shoulder is extremely versatile. It is my cut of choice for making sausages because it has just about the right proportion of fat. It is also great just simply cut into chunks and braised. I like tossing them in paprika, salt, and pepper and then braising the chunks in whatever liquid they release over low heat (starting cold and dry). This also a cut of choice for making carnitas.
  25. I'll admit that the WWF analogy has some problems. I doubt either chef in any given contest is aware if the outcome is being manipulated by the network. Otherwise I doubt any reputable chef would want to put themself through that kind of spectacle. I don't even think the Iron Chefs are in on it. I believe both sides generally put forward the best possible effort, which is why I still find this all worth watching. This is also why I find it so incomprehensible that the contest would not be scored with the fairness and transparency owed to the talented men and women who put their craft on such display.
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