snack, napa cabbage

The first time I did this with plain napa cabbage and salt and pepper flakes and that worked fine for me. The cabbage fries much more quickly than green and savoy cabbage and releases water when its done.






Butter, salt, black pepper, scant sesame seed oil.





Since then I've upped my game simply but with considerable affect.  Just a few alterations changes things magnificently. Tonight I forgot the red pepper flakes, an ingredient I considered key, but it turned out just fine without them. 



This fish sauce is awful on its own. It's the Asian equivalent of ancient Rome's garum. You wouldn't think of eating it straight while in very small doses it fills out other ingredients incredibly. 



All these ingredients in near trace amounts. 1/4 teaspoon, thereabout.

I also added 1/4 teaspoon sugar to create a sweet/sour effect with the vinegar. Also about 1 teaspoon of soy sauce. 



Tonight I added a cup of commercial chicken stock that comes in a carton. The whole thing turned out very nice. I don't know why I find this so satisfying. It's so easy and fast it makes the perfect late night snack. 

Obviously it can be further enhanced with anything. I was thinking about bacon tonight but didn't want to get involved with that. Any other vegetable you happen to have around will go with this. So will noodles, so will miso, so will fish, shrimp, whatever you have and feel like using. 

sourdough bread

Denver starter. The thing is, when you fire up your starter then you're in it. It's on. You must continuously feed the starter at least twice everyday or have a batch of sponge fermenting while you eat the loaf that you baked. It does not end until you shut down the project and suspend the starter, dry, frozen, whatever.

I'm not ready for this loaf of bread but here it is anyway.

This loaf did not ferment the customary three days, rather it proofed for one full day and had additional flour added. So it does not have very much sour while it is loaded with rustic farm-like character. It is chewy toothsome bread.  It was kneaded thoroughly yet still has its own rough uneven skin. This is a trait of this starter, a very thick bumpy crust, but not so thick as some other starters make. Maui, for instance has an incredibly thick crust. This hard thick crust can be vitiated by storing the loaf in plastic that softens it to be more manageable. One slice of bread amounts to a meal. It's the real deal, Daddy-o.




The bread is baked in an oven turned to high as it will go inside a pre-heated clay cloche designed for a whole chicken. The clay chicken baker shown above is sold on eBay for $10.00 with $10.00 shipping. The price range for similar bakers ranges wildly, up to $75.00, but they're the same things. I have two of these bakers. And another designed and marketed for bread that was much more expensive and still the same thing with the same results. It works very well. 

What does the clay baker do?

It's especially good with wet doughs. It keeps the dough wet long enough for the bubbles inside the bread to heat up and expand to maximum size before the crust begins to form and gets too hard for them to continue. Then dries out the bread quickly. That's why bakers spray their ovens. But sometimes that's just not good enough. Home ovens have a vent that allows the moisture to escape. 

shrimp and grits






pan perdu

Pour vous, Boo-Boo



It's an idea for stale bread. Fresh bread doesn't work as well.

If the bread is really stale then it soaks up the egg/milk/sugar/cinnamon portion like a sponge to the extent that it cannot be lifted from the soaking dish and placed into a pan without falling apart. It must be pushed into the pan sideways from the plate that held the soaking liquid. It will puff when it cooks and the bread literally dissolve inside the set egg. You'll be all, "What? What? Where did the bread go?" It's lost. 

If the bread is halfway stale then the soaked bread can be lifted and it doesn't entirely disappear when cooked. 

If the bread is fresh then it simply coats with egg mixture. None goes inside like a sponge. It still works, but not nearly as well.

Have you noticed how French have so many great ideas for stale bread? 

tenderloin steak, baked potato


Finally. After all these years. I finally accepted the reality that butter greatly enhances beef.

A very long time ago, let's say decades, I went out to dinner to a famed steak house in Denver, one-time Emilene's, with a group of new friends. One of them immediately put butter on top of his steak to melt all over it and I thought he was nuts. 

But now I see the advanced wisdom in his ways. It's also a great way to improve hamburgers. Stick a generous pat of butter inside the patty to melt as you fry it and boom greatly improved right there. 

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