ham and cheese on Denver sourdough

ham and cheese on sourdough sandwich
* uncured ham
* some white aged cheddar
* Denver sourdough
* Moutarde de Dijon dans le style

spaghetti with chicken tenders in curried chicken broth

spaghetti with chicken tenders in curried chicken broth
close up spaghetti with chicken tenders in curried chicken broth
I'm culling the contents of the refrigerator and was delighted to discover a package of mushrooms that I previously opened and carefully re-packaged rolled in paper towel so that they'd be both aerated and protected from the, um, air.  Having forgotten them, I expected they'd be entirely turned to mush.  Not so, they were perfectly fresh.  Fresh as a daisy.  Fresh as a baby's bum.  Fresh as a ... as a ... as something that's totally fresh.  I also found half a small zucchini.  Well.  There you go.  My course of action was determined. 

Leftover chicken tenders in curried chicken broth seasoned with a mix of two curries, which sounds like a lot but isn't because scant amounts of both were used. Plus pineapple because I'm also culling the freezer, and regular spaghetti this time instead of spinach spaghetti.  Over night in the refrigerator, the broth turned into sauce so I just left it like that.  Lifted the noodles out of their cooking water, rolled them in butter, then with Parmigiano Reggiano, then covered with reheated sauce. 

This was so delicious, it's a shame it only comes around once in ever, if you know what I mean. It can never be duplicated exactly, although the careless idea can be recycled.  

spinach spaghetti in curried chicken broth


Chimi-Churi is the Spice Boys way of spelling Chimichurri, a blend originating in Argentina and popular in Latin American countries. It's said to be derived from the name Jimmy McCurry, an Irishman living in Argentina. Other stories vying as authentic all involve the difficulty of Argentineans pronouncing an Irish name, or a similar Scottish name or yet another similar English name. The blend contains chopped parsley, garlic, vegetable oil, vinegar, pepper flakes, paprika, oregano, cumin, and bay, that is to say, pretty much anything, or not, in other words, a curry. Another explanation for the name is a distortion of the sound "Gim'e the curry."

So there's that, and that being insufficiently complex I added a smidge of proper Vindaloo curry. Satisfied the combination of curries would confuse my taste buds enough to keep them interested I added peanut butter and pineapple to seared chicken tenders. Homemade chicken broth thickened with corn starch slurry. Poured over spinach spaghetti pasta. Does that sound good or what? No? It's a bit hot. Here, have a look.

fish sticks

Salmon fish sticks. I love the writing in that Revenge of the Nerds movie where the nerd is asked, "Don't you know what this writing on my hat means?" The nerd responds, "Malcolm ten?" Later, the nerds marvel at the dinner prepared at their hero nerd's house who is now a Bill Gates type character sold out to the success of nerddom and now a changed personality. The nerd hero asks over dinner, "What's wrong?" The nerd answers, "It's just that I've never seen fish before that wasn't in stick form." Fish sticks. Just the idea cracks me up. I vaguely recall my mom fixing them when I was in the first grade. She also heated breaded scallops. I picked off the breading revealing a white disk. I put my disks together forming a cylinder. I recall asking if scallops were really a snake that was cut up. My mom laughed and answered, "Yes." Suspicion confirmed, I lived with this untruth for an additional 16 years. Scene II: Cape Cod, oyster shack. The proprietor had a large poster behind the fish counter depicting various seafood items. I noted the scallops were pictured, as, well, scallops. I said to the owner, a rough looking fellow unshaven and with an unclean white apron and twice my weight, "Your fish poster is wrong," with all of the certainty of a twenty-one year old. The owner sneered, "Oh yeah? What's wrong with it?" He left off the "Punk" but it was implied. I go, it shows scallop like a clam and it's really a snake that is chopped up." He looked at me hard and pathetically, then laughed like I was totally retarded. Then carefully explained the truth and the details behind their preparation. I blame my mother.

salmon fish stick with green salad
uncooked salmon fish sticks with seasoning
uncooked salmon fish sticks

* Lightly sautéed in coconut oil
* Madras curry powder, garlic powder, S/P
* The trick, if there is one, is to cook these minimally.
* I tend to over-season things, because that's just the way I roll.
* Hand-mixed mayonnaise, because once you discover the joy of hand-mixing mayonnaise, you'll never go back. This was made with olive oil, which is oddly traduced as being too strong for mayonnaise. This confounds me greatly and I dismiss the criticism as irrational, then proceed to load it up with other strong flavors, chiefly mustard, which I inevitably mix with mayonnaise anyway so I might as well put it in directly. Garlic and ginger.

sole filet on sourdough bread

With hand-mixed mayonnaise made with raspberry vinegar and heavy on the garlic and ginger powders.

late night snack



* thinly cut sourdough bread with olive oil
* thin slices of uncured ham
* apple
* drunken goat cheese

catfish hushpupies

Made with real cats! Catfish, that is. 


When we first moved to the South (She shall riiiiiiiiiise again) my dad hooked up with the Shreveport masons. Maybe it was Bossier City masons. The only masonic lodge I've ever seen made of wood. Go figure. They hosted a catfish and hushpuppy dinner. It was fun. My introduction to both catfish and to hushpuppies, and it was love at first sight. Incidentally, to get there we had to pass vast fields of cotton, and that was fascinating too. It was like popcorn on scraggly sticks.


No recipe here, I just threw my favorite things into a bowl. I used 1/4 of a large onion because that's all I had left. Three scrawny limp stalks of celery, the end of a large package of three or four whole things of celery bushes or whatever they're called. One orange bell pepper. That was the most of the vegetables. I added adobe chile powder, and the last of a package of Vindaloo curry. I have a whole 'nuther jar but that was the last of the little bag. S/P and one egg. I used masa herena which made it smell all Mexicany and fantastic, not a normal ingredient, corn meal, and flour for adhesion, plus a little baking powder to lighten the mixture. Should have used more of that. They could have been more moist too. I still have some of this mixture left so I might fix it. That's all.

Hot vegetable oil for no more than a few minutes.

Sriracha sauce is the red stuff in the little bowl, and weeeee doggie, it that stuff hot. I should have mixed it with catsup but I was too lazy.

Shrimp Étouffée


This would be shrimp and scallop étouffée, and everybody knows there’s no such thing in the annals Cajun or Creole cuisine so we’re off to an independent start right there. No prob. Étouffée means suffocated or smothered, asphyxiated, choked or snuffed. Delightful, in’nit? Let’s stick with étouffée.

Instead of using shrimp broth, which I would do if I were on Ironic Chefs or some such, instead I used dashi katsuobushi, the long way of making it not the shortcut way. Also tossed in some clam juice left over from a Mexican shrimp cocktail that I wanted to get rid of use.

Didn’t have enough fresh tomatoes nor canned tomatoes but I did have cans of diced tomatoes with jalapeño with onions and garlic and some other spice so I used that. Sounded perfect, actually.

This time, the kombu seaweed used for the dashi was rolled and finely sliced using the julienne technique -- those French and their reticence to capitalizing their own proper nouns, how I do love them so -- and returned to the mixture because I like its interesting texture and I think its seaweedy goodness contributes considerably to the whole seafood flavor thing going on. And where else on Earth are you ever going to find such a thing. Nowhere!

* brown rice pressure cooked in equal part water on high for 35 minutes then allowed to cool on its own without hastening with a chilled douse to the closed pot. That’s cheating, and there’s no point since I’m not starving and I'm not in a race.

* Scallops quickly and briefly browned in coconut oil in a large pot separately then removed and cut. Added back to the mixture at the end. Wouldn’t do to overcook the tender little lovelies. Same with the shrimp. Added at the very end and barely cooked into the stewed mixture.

* Étouffée started with a roux made of coconut oil in place of butter, brought to peanut butter coloration.

* Southern trilogy added to roux; bell pepper (I used red, and that’s just plain wrong), celery, and onion.

* liquid (dashi and clam juice) added to roux along with canned tomato and spices. I used curry with habanero powder.

I forgot to add the canned tomatoes. Ha ha ha. I don’t care. Didn’t miss ‘em. I'm not that big on canned tomatoes anyway.

chicken supremes a la meunier



Chicken tenders dusted with Madras curry flavored flour lightly sautéed in coconut oil. Coconut oil based chicken gravy flavored with poultry seasoning proprietary to Spice Boys, Denver. They're two blocks from my house, so what the heck.

I am love, love, love'n this Tropical Traditions Black Label® coconut oil. It's a keeper. Contrary to presumption, it does not make everything taste like coconut.

Mix curry powder with flour and S/P. Flatten chicken tenders with a pounder. Dust with flour mixture. Sauté in coconut oil.

Remove tenders from the pan, add a teaspoon of flour to excess oil and heat through to thoroughly cook the flour. Toss in three or so frozen cubes of homemade chicken broth. Stir until sauce forms and ice completely melts, about 2 minutes.

Dressing = olive oil +raspberry vinegar + S/P

Does it get any simpler than this? No! It doesn't.

moon pies, cupcakes with coconut oil

I am so well pleased with my coconut oil experimentation.

cupcake moon pies
chocolate cupcakes, vanilla icing, with coconut oil
I made vanilla frosting incorporating coconut oil. It is not purely coconut oil, but rather a combination of butter, Crisco®, and Tropical Traditions® black label coconut oil.

The moon pies and cupcakes are boxed cake mix which is incredibly inexpensive. I divided the box in half by weight and made two batches, one with coconut oil and one with vegetable oil. The batch with coconut oil won hands down.

Cupcakes at altitude is a bit of a trick. You can not get a straightforward answer on this by searching the internet. Most recommendations are to add a few tablespoons flour and to increase the eggs. I just backed off from the water instead of adding flour. I oiled the pans with coconut oil and used a scant tablespoon of batter per cup. This turned out to be too much. Pictured above are the coconut oil batches using a tablespoon of batter. Later batches used a teaspoon of batter. Made with vegetable oil, they all collapsed.

The moon pies were made with a coconut oil and a tablespoon of batter. I dropped the batter on Silpat®. I should have used only a teaspoon and even denser batter. Oh well. Next time.

For the record, this frosting is not an improvement over commercial frosting, IMHO. But I'm not giving up. It occurs to me buttermilk, or cream cheese would be an improvement. I collected a dozen recipes and averaged the amounts. All the recipes I collected said, "This is the best!" They're not. It's a bit too saccharine to suit me. Another thing I learned; the bowl of my Bosch mixer sits atop the motor which gets hot with prolonged use. It doesn't do to blend saturated fats for much longer than a few minutes. It melts the fat, and that's not good. I had to re-chill it and fluff again. Although the coconut oil is very stable at room temperature, it hardens more than butter when chilled. It's fun.

Still, after all I've read on high altitude baking, cakes, cupcakes etc., and the difficulties encountered by bakers, I must say, coconut oil appears to be the perfect ingredient to control results. I melted it to liquify the fat before mixing it in.

apple, plum, oatmeal with trail mix pie

slice, apple, plum, oatmeal with trail mix pie
raw palm sugar
raw palm sugar ground
pie crust with coconut oil
apple, plum, oatmeal with trail mix pie, whole
The experimental crust of this pie is made with coconut oil in place of butter, shortening, or lard.  I do believe the experiment is successful.  It results in a slightly crunchy crust, at least mine is.  I like it.  

This started out as an ordinary apple pie but then I decided to include plums.  Then instead of using corn starch or flour to thicken, I chose my prepared oatmeal mixture which includes trail mix.  I augmented with more dried fruit, raisins, cherries, cranberries, and pecans.  I added a cup.  Decided that wasn't enough so added another cup.  I included coconut oil in place of butter in the filling.   This made more filling than the pie could contain so I ate it apart from the pie. It was a little bit like the most amazing granola in the history of ever. 

Pie crust 

*  1 + 1/2 cup sifted flour (cold)
*  3 rounded tablespoons coconut oil (cold)
*  1/8 teaspoon salt
*  1 Tablespoon palm sugar, organic sugar, whatever
*  1/4 cup (cold) water

Rub the chilled coconut oil into the flour in the usual way to pea-sized flour-coated nodules.  Add just enough water to bring the mixture together.  This needn't be sweetened.  It can be seasoned however the impulse strikes.  

Pie filling

*  5 or 6 apples, depending on size
*  3 plums
*  1 + 1/2 cup to 2 cups oatmeal combined  with trail mix
*  extra dry fruit as desired
*  1 rounded tablespoon coconut oil

I used organic palm sugar because I had it on hand but it's not necessary.  Any sugar will work, including brown sugar or honey, or none at all if you prefer to keep it to the natural sugar in the fruit. I added very little, just a tablespoon.  

My prepared oatmeal mixture contains a load of cinnamon, various nuts and dried fruit, so I didn't add any more spices.  If I didn't use the oatmeal, then I'd have added spices, namely, cinnamon, allspice, clove or possibly ginger.  I have a tendency to overdo things.  

Pre-bake pie crust for 12 minutes at 400℉.  Heat the pie filling on stove top  to cause apples to shrink and fruit to release liquid which is soaked up by oatmeal. Bake for 25 minutes at 400℉.




diced salmon in miso


Diced salmon, diced onion and capers left over from salmon on sourdough breakfast. Lightly sautéed in coconut oil, placed in bowl before adding mixed light and dark miso, which imparts to the miso a delightfully rich unctuous goodness it would ordinarily lack.

Plus
* one crushed and finely diced garlic clove
* several cubes of previously frozen homemade chicken broth, up to eight cubes.
* chicken seasoning proprietary to Spice Boys, Denver
* extra sage, because I just love sage. Love it. Love it. Love it.

raw salmon on sourdough toast


Parents, hide your children.  The little darlings would not like this. 

Raw salmon on sourdough toast.

Pacific salmon from pre-packaged frozen filets. I picked one of the brightest filets in the larger package and carefully sliced, then diced by hand.

Anything, and I mean anything, is better than plain Philadelphia cream cheese, which seems to me a blank whiteboard upon which actual flavors are intended to be written. Therefore, I scribble away. Supplemented with my own handmade ricotta, which wasn't very much, along with commercial ricotta. But then ricotta is hardly much of a flavor improvement over Philadelphia, then is it? Therefore I fortified it with some incredibly strange raw Wisconsin cheddar which is, oddly enough, spreadable. So there's four different white spreadable cheeses and its cheesy flavor is not ordinary. Plus horseradish, and S/P.

The sourdough is toasted to about 85% toastiness because the bread goes Melba if you toast to 100%.

sourdough bread pudding with sole

Bread pudding made with sourdough bread with cubes of sole embedded.  This was an experiment and I do believe it worked, although I wouldn't serve it to guests on account of it being a tad outre, unless I lived in Cincinnati where, from what I can see, apparently they'll eat anything. No offense intended. Just say'n.

sourdough bread pudding with cubed sole

This is an extreme taste treat for taste extremists, like myself. Not for the faint of tongue or stomach nor for children.

*  two eggs
*  one cup milk, approximately
*  1/4 onion, diced
*  two celery stalks, diced
*  two cups cubed sourdough bread, approximately
*  two sole filets
*  one tablespoon vanilla, here's where it gets a little weird
*  one tablespoon raw horseradish, told ya it was strange
*  1/8 teaspoon habanero powder
*  S/P

Salad

*  Romaine
*  tomato
*  1/2 avocado
*  olive oil/rice vinegar
*  S/P

bread pudding mixture
sourdough in bread pudding mixture
frozen sole filets for sourdough bread pudding

It took forever for the bread to soak up the liquid mixture so I hastened the process by squeezing the bread like a sponge. 

fried eggs, uncured ham, trail-mix oatmeal


This is a new batch of prepared oatmeal that contains several ounces of some kind of tropical trail mix scooped from the bulk bins at Whole Foods®. The trail mix contains sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, Brazil nuts, raisins, dried papaya, mango, and has an overall slightly green coloration. I got it because it was different. The oatmeal is about ten or twelve cups, the trail mix is about a cup and a half, and the pile was augmented with more raisins, pecans, dried cherries, dried cranberries, brown sugar, salt, and a ton of cinnamon, and by ton I mean a few full rounded tablespoons.

Uncured ham. Try this some time, you'll fall in love with it.

Eggs fried in sweet butter, that means unsalted, with a few dots of Chulula® sauce.

Dairies salt butter to prolong its shelf-life. Salt masks a multitude of sins. It's a way of cheating really, otherwise, they'd have to be a lot more careful about handling, processing, transportation, storage, etc. Unsalted butter keeps everybody honest down the line. There's just no way of disguising rancidity.

Chulula is made with arbol and piquin chile peppers. Arbol means "tree," and pequin connotes "tiny," (pea-ken, as in pequeño). These tiny piquins are the most fiercely hot of the annum type of Capsicum cultivars. I have two stock funny personal stories regarding piquin pepper plants that involve their fiery hotness and human scrotums but I must leave them for another day. Annums are the most frequently encountered types of chiles. They're distinguished from the Chinense which includes the extremely hot habaneros, called Chinese because of their resemblance to Chinese paper lanterns, but this is a misnomer because all chiles, ALL chiles originate in the American continents, that is notwithstanding all the exotic African types, Thai, Japanese and Indian, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish and Austrian paprika. Got that? American. So, if the Indian Tezpur or the Zimbabwe Birds Eye is billed as the hottest chile pepper in the world, be assured it's actually nothing more than the Central American piquin that found its way to India and to Africa via Portuguese explorers, because I said so.

Birds are immune to the affects of capsaisum, an alkaloid evolved by plants to deter mammals but not to deter birds. These tiny birds' eye chiles are easily dislodged from the plant by birds, ravenously consumed, and their seeds broadcast within convenient packages of organic fertilizer. Along with the extremely popular annum and the very popular, generally much hotter Chinense chile types, there are also the less frequently encountered Frutescens, Pubescens, and Baccatum types.

Arbole chiles are just beyond midway on the Scoville scale of hotness, they'd be a 6 out of 10. But that scale is bollox. Piquins would be a 7 out of 10 on that scale, but really, they're much hotter than that, hotter than Thais and they rival the heat of habaneros and the Indian Tezpur. I know, I've grown them. So there.

My dad used to put catsup on fried eggs and that totally grossed me out.




cubed salmon in coconut oil vinaigrette



The coconut oil is heated and the vegetables are barely cooked. The lime juice is added to complete the vinaigrette and the salmon is added at the very end and cooked briefly and barely using mostly carry-over heat. Served warm.

* rigatoni pasta
* two tablespoons coconut oil
* two stalks celery
* half an onion diced
* garlic clove cut in slivers
* mushrooms sliced (not cooked)
* half a bell pepper (not cooked)
* half a small zucchini
* juice of half a lime, added to coconut oil and vegetables after they're cooked but still in the pan
* salmon steak cubed, added at the very end, barely cooked through
* S/P

kombu katsuobushi dashi

kombu seaweed dried
kombu seaweed boiled
katsuobushi, dried bonito flakes, packaged
katsuobushi, dried bonito flakes
kombu katsuobushi dashi with sole and vegetables
Dashi is a classification of stock basic to Japanese cooking. There are several types, seaweed, sardine, mushroom, etc.

Kombu is a large flat dried seaweed.

Bonito usually refers to shipjack tuna, katsuo in Japanese.

Katsuobushi is flaked dried bonito. It's sort of like instant fish broth or a kind of fish tea. It can be used otherwise too, as a savory flavor topping, for instance.

Thus kombu katsuobushi dashi is seaweed and tuna flavored broth. This is dashi with sole, vegetables, and egg noodles. Plus the usual suspects, to round out its Asian cred, a dash of the three-crab type fermented fish sauce, a few glugs of mirin, and a drizzle of toasted sesame oil. This time I added something different by way of experimentation, one tablespoon coconut oil, which is a solid like lard. I would have added saki if I had it, and chile flakes wouldn't have hurt.

But even Japanese rarely do authentic kombu katsuobushi dashi anymore due to the ubiquity of powdered, granular, and liquid substitutes. They're just like us when it comes to convenience foods, possibly worse. I've tried them, those substitutes, like bullion cubes, they're gross. In fact, I have some substitute dashi here and with no intention of ever using them I might as well toss them out creating space for stuff I actually would use like tamarind paste.

The white streaks on the dried kombu is concentrated salt and minerals. It's wiped off with a clean damp towel before starting. Kombu is soaked in water for ten minutes while slowly bringing the water to a boil. Just before the water boils, remove the kombu seaweed and dump in the katsuobushi flakes. Only allow it to boil for fifteen or so seconds then remove from the heat and allow to soak until the flakes sink or until the flakes are sufficiently steeped to bring the flavor to the desired point. Strain the flakes from the liquid. Ta daaaaaaa. Fish broth. I mean, kombu katsuobushi dashi. The kombu seaweed can be sliced and returned to the broth if you want. It's a little toothsome but its taste is not unappealing. It tastes like -- how do I put this? -- cooked chlorophyl and ocean. Mmmmm, ocean.

fried eggs with sourdough toast

Eggs fried in unsalted butter. Sourdough toast spread with unsalted butter. Do you know what unsalted butter needs? Salt, that's what.

falafel with tzatziki sauce

Falafel is like stiffened hummus. Tzatziki is a cucumber / yogurt sauce. There are as many recipes for these things as there are cooks so I put into them the things I like in the amounts that suited me, but I would be deeply offended if you did the same. Just kidding.

The smoke alarm sounded, always right at the critical moment at the stove, causing me to abandon the stove to dash over and turn on a fan aimed at the sensor to make it stop screaming. It's only the faintest amount of smoke, after all. This is something like the tenth time that's happened and each time I can't help but to think that's a pretty stupid thing for a smoke alarm to do -- to insist on being shut off right at the critical most dangerous moment. Haven't smoke alarm designers ever heard the story of the boy who cried, "Wolf!," five thousand times? The townsfolk eventually dragged him out and shot him. Or something.


*  chickpeas or lima beans or both, either canned or dried. I used dry chickpeas because I think observing them swell up is fun. Cooked or not because eventually they'll be fried. I pressure cooked mine, bringing them to high pressure then immediately allowing them to cool down on their own before opening the pot.
*  olive oil. I'm short on olive oil right now, an inexcusable situation, but long on butter, so I used butter instead of olive oil so my falafel is deep with rich buttery goodness usually absent in ordinary falafel.

*  one egg
*  sourdough bread crumbs 
*  diced onion
*  crushed garlic
*  lime juice
*  tahini
*  S/P
*  coriander
*  cumin
*   habanero powder

Tzatziki sauce

*  1 container of plain yogurt
*  half an English cucumber
*   tahini again
*  lime juice
*   honey
*   S/P
*   ginger powder

I read several people commenting to recipes online complaining about their falafels coming apart when set in the oil, and the whole thing being a disaster.  This was a common complaint.  I did not have that problem because I viewed the process like making hushpuppies which caused me to add an egg to the mixture.  I can see how this would be unacceptable for some vegetarian types who turn to this sort of chickpea recipe precisely to avoid such things as eggs.  I have no advice to impart to vegetarians aside from considering using more breadcrumbs or flour to hold the mixture together.  





tempura chicken




* lightly flour chicken tenders so the batter adheres. The flour should be a combination flour, wheat, rice, potato, or corn starch, seasoned with S/P, chile powder, or curry powder, or 5 spice, anything your heart desires, garlic powder and ginger powder are also good.
* batter is comprised of
a) the flour used to dust the chicken tenders, wheat, rice, corn starch, potato flour, it's all good
b) cold egg beaten
c) cold milk to thin the batter
* oil maintained at 350℉ (177℃)

dipping sauce

* soy sauce
* mirin (or any other sweetener)
* fish sauce (fermented anchovie +water -- the ancient Romans would have loved this stuff)
* toasted sesame seed oil
* water to thin

bacon wrapped sea scallops


I feel very sorry for anybody who isn't eating this, for I am deeply sympathetic.

* bacon cooked to 3/4 completion concentrating on evenness along their lengths. Wrapped around thawed sea scallops, secured with a toothpick and sautéed in the bacon fat. Set atop holdover florentine from the previous post, now thick with sourdough bread crumbly goodness. Bacon oil and rice vinegar dresses the lettuce.  S/P.




flounder rolls with florentine



Flounder stuffed with florentine that is stiffened with toasted sourdough bread crumbs. Coated with butter and lime sauce, which I tasted along the way and go, "Eww, yuk!" Added sugar, fixed. Topped with shredded basil and toasted sesame seeds.

florentine

* butter
* flour
** butter and flour to a roux
** 1 or 2 cubes of frozen home-made chicken broth sufficient to bring roux to a thick sauce
* garlic
* diced onion
* chopped spinach
* Parmigiano Reggiano
* toasted bread crumbs to stiffen
* nutmeg
* S/P

Florentine daubed onto flounder filets on top of oiled aluminum foil. Then rolled up and sealed as a roll within the foil. This is the tricky bit, the flounder doesn’t want to roll. It would rather fold. Bake for 20 minutes in toaster oven, less if your filets are tiny things, more if they’re thick. Use your fish-baking judgement here, and remember, overcooked fish is the big fail, so better to undercook and return to oven than to overcook and ruin the whole thing.

sauce

* butter
* 1 cube frozen chicken broth
* 1/2 teaspoon corn starch in 1/4 cup cold water
* juice of 1/2 lime
* 2 teaspoons sugar
* S/P
* juice exuded from the cooked fish.

flounder, spinach sauce, biscuit



These are small flounders, and they made me think, "Isn't there a size limit on flounders?" Probably not. Once on T.V. I saw a guy pull up a flounder somewhere in the Bering Sea that was the size of a garage door -- a two car garage door. It took a long time. His pole was thicker than a broom stick and he broke one of his fingers getting it into the boat, which then took up the entire topside area of the boat. These are like aquarium size flounders and that broken-finger sport fisherman would mock them with derisive laughter.

The flounder is cooked in an excess of butter that is then used as the basis for my trademarked spinach sauce. The sauce is started by dropping a chicken broth ice cube into a mini Cuisinart along with a handful of spinach and a clove of crushed garlic. All that is thinned down a little bit with buttermilk that was already out from making the biscuit to get it out of the Cuisinart, but then the sauce is thickened with corn starch and further acidified with lime. The butter milk is not essential, it's just that it was convenient, I could have used milk, more chicken broth, water, or white wine.

And of course salt and pepper on the flounder and in the sauce.

How to make a single biscuit.

* 1/4 cup flour
* nob of butter, say a tablespoon, rubbed into the flour. If it's not enough butter to completely affect all the flour then add more. By rubbing, I mean smash it with your fingertips then get it off your fingers using the flour in the bowl before the heat of your fingers has a chance to warm it. Keep doing that until the butter is completely smashed and ALL the flour has butter in it. So you end up with a bunch of little butter dots coated with flour.
* use two leavening agents for double rising action.
a) 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
b) 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* aprox. 1/4 cup buttermilk to moisten the mixture and to react with the baking soda. Drizzle it into the combined mixture while stirring with a dinner knife. Add just enough buttermilk to bring the flour mixture together. Do not knead and do not overwork, just bring it together and smash it into a ball.
* bake on high for 12-15 minutes. Ideally, you'd put a batch of biscuits into a HOT oven to force the heat-activated portion of the leavening before setting, then cut the heat back immediately after putting them in. But this is not realistic with just one biscuit in a toaster oven. I used the convection oven that is a component of a combination microwave at its highest setting. I baked it for 12 minutes, then two more minutes, then again for two more minutes. So this biscuit was baked a total of 16 minutes.

elk gravy, Denver sourdough


This is the all that's left of the elk rib eye that was sautéed and pressure cooked. Alas.  About half a cup of frozen chicken broth was added to the fond left over in the pan which were the dregs of singed bits of elk flesh, butter and seasoned flour, along with a teaspoon or so of Worchester Wustersher Warchestershire, goddamnit, Worcestershire sauce.

Sourdough made about a week ago and held in tight cold storage but not frozen. From a culture captured and cultivated in Denver, and I must say, none of those places famous for their sourdough have anything on this, in my arrogant opinion.

elk steak


This was the package of elk steak that Deena McDonald gave me marked "rib eye." Upon opening the package, the irregular shape of the steaks precluded cooking them as ordinary rib eyes so I cut them into pieces and lightly dusted them with seasoned flour then sautéed the segments in butter. The segments were marbled with connective tissue, most un-rib eye like, some were tender others excessively chewy so I put the whole batch in a pressure cooker and ran it up to high for thirty minutes -- to teach it a lesson. The result was unbelievably tender meat chunks, the connective tissue having completely melted away. The pale globules that look like fat are actually the flour coating that skimmed off and picked up cooking juices. The meat is deeply flavored in a way grain-finished beef does not compare. I intended for the packet to supply two meals, but I must confess, I couldn't keep off it, I finished this plate then just kept nibbling until it was gone, for I am a hog myself of the first order.

Salad dressing = olive oil + lime juice.

salmon with honey and ginger sauce

It's actually a lime sauce, but it's heavily flavored with honey and ginger and mustard. The oil is unsalted butter in which the salmon was gently sautéd. The salmon was cut into strips and lightly dusted with seasoned floured. Flour that was seasoned with S/P and some kind of Spice Boys proprietary hot mixture of powders. At least it says HOT on the little can. The pan retains some of the seasoning from having fried the salmon. The butter never got hot enough to burn so it was still in good shape to serve as the basis for the dressing. The same seasoned flour mixture that dusted the salmon is used for thin roux to form a sauce, or a gravy if you prefer, which is sufficiently interesting to also serve as a dressing for salad. It has everything it needs and more: oil (butter), acid (lime), sweetener (honey), umami (ginger and mustard), seasonings (S/P some kind of mysterious hot combination powder), in this case, it also has thickener (flour) which could easily have been corn starch or some such.

Some chefs count capsaicin as a whole 'nuther separate taste sensation, but this is disputed by scientists who say that it's an effect on nerve endings and not an effect on actual taste receptors. I consider it a separate taste and use it as such because in my opinion all taste sensations are effects and I don't care if it's sensed by nerve endings or taste receptors, oh, and my other reason is because I said so. However, if were taking a test in college I'd go ahead and bow to authoriTAH and answer the proper way expected because I'd have concern about my grade, but now I don't have such ridiculous and debilitating concerns so la la la -- LA --la la la in my world capsaicin is a taste.

I didn't pour the sauce over everything, I just kept dipping the vegetables and salmon sticks into it to varying degrees of thoroughness so each forkful was a little bit different in sweetness, mustardy heat, and KAPOW!, ginger.

Salad
* orange bell pepper
* cucumber
* tomato
* half a Romaine heart
* slice of purple onion.

Fish
* Pacific salmon sliced into stick shapes
* dusted with flour, S/P, hot powder
* fried in unsalted butter that doesn't burn on moderate heat

Dressing for both salmon and salad
* same seasoned flour that dusted the salmon
* grated fresh ginger
* teaspoon mustard
* 1 whole big juicy lime, or possibly two discouraging scrawny not so juicy limes.


chickpea patty with green salad




Don't you think hamburger should have ham in it? Otherwise it could be a person from Hamburg, according to generally accepted principles of English syntax. Why would anyone worth their grammatical credentials associate the prefix ham with a beef product? This confounds me. I wanted to say "chickpea hamburger," but that would muddle the nomenclature doubly bad. Therefore, I say chickpea patty.

Pat-a cake, pat-a-cake, baker's man.
Bake me a cake as fast as you can.
Pat it and roll it and mark it with a "B"
And put it in the oven for Baby and me.

I wonder what kind of cake that baker would be up to, rolling it for a baby.

Patty. That's a funny word. Hamburg patty -- it's ground schnitzel formed into a cake, vee call dem Hamburgers.

It's like ein Berliners are jelly rolls, as in ich bin ein Berliner. The "ein" changes the meaning of the sentence. That's the hazard of applying English syntax to a word for word German translation. You end up sounding foolish. Not that there's anything wrong with that. If you meant to say I am a person of Hamburg and you said ich bin ein Hamburger, you'd end up saying you're a ground schnitzel formed into a patty.

A freshman year high-school friend, Gary Hennigan tells a joke. Gary is the most obese person I have ever known, so it's doubly funny when he tells the joke with his shirt off. I believe he made it up on the spot, he was naturally quite consistently and reliably funny, we were mischievously and arrogantly denigrating hotel cooks at the time, and we considered ourselves mature.


Restaurant owner: "Ada Bell, why is there hair in these hamburger patties?"

Ada Belle: "I don't know Massa Rogers."

Restaurant owner: "Well, Ada Bell, what are you doing in there anyway?"

Ada Belle: "Nothing, Massa Rogers. I'm just sitting here mak'n these here hamburgers."

Here Gary pantomimes a woman making hamburger patties by alternately shifting hand positions.

"Patty cake, patty cake ..."

Then pats the imaginary hamburger under each arm pit.

"Patty cake, patty cake ..."


To make these patties I used ingredients you'd expect in a regular hummus except I added:

* 1 egg,
* bread crumbs
* jalapeño peppers
* Jamaican jerk
* melted butter

Regular hummus

* chick peas, canned or dried (having been soaked, of course)
* tahini (I used the tahini I made out of sesame seeds with their husks)
* olive oil
* garlic
* lime juice
* S/P

fruit salad with toasted oatmeal


I knew exactly what I wanted -- fruit salad with granola. But alas, for I am granolaless. Would the oatmeal mixture that I combined in advance work? How? Certainly not raw. Certainly not cooked in the usual way, all wet and gloppy. Should I make granola? It’s such a sticky mess, what with the molasses and the oil. Don’t want to get into all that right now. I decided to toast it.

The oatmeal mixture already has cinnamon, brown sugar, and salt added to it. It also has raisins and nuts. Those must be picked out lest they burn and then added back. It worked brilliantly and I will repeat this innovation for added interest to the usual mixed fruit salad, which itself is already unusual in that it changes with each articulation depending on what is available and what looks good at the moment I'm shopping. For instance, this batch hasn’t any watermelon, grapes, or berries, but is heavy on kiwis, plum, pineapple, mango, and papaya. Other than that, it’s exactly the same as the last batch.

Fish with butter/lime/spinach sauce

Pangasius. Ha ha ha. That's a funny word. I learned it's another name for catfish, Iridescent Shark Catfish. That leaves me a little bit disappointed because given the Greek sounding name I was hoping for something a little more exotic. And you know what? That does it! This is not going in my ceviche because that last catfish was pure crap for ceviche. Too giggly. Although I confess it was excellent fried. I have a lot more of it in frozen form.


I look at this fish and think, "Eeew, you're just asking to be eaten."

This photo set blew my socks off. Oh,wait. They were already off. Anyway, I couldn't make up my mind which one to use. I keep reading professional photographers saying fluorescent lighting is the worst, but I'm finding as long as I tell the camera we're in a fluorescent light situation, and the fluorescent is the good kind and not the sickly blue kind, then the shots I get are fine. I took shots under all different settings. In the live view the shots looked out of focus in the area I was concentrating, the flaking of the cooked fish flesh, so I kept snapping away trying to get what I wanted. They ALL came out great. Finally I put the camera on automatic and they came out great too, although very different in overall appearance.

I placed a few objects on my work table and picked a few basil leaves so I'd have some vaguely interesting background to bokeh. Bokeh is a photographer's term that refers to the out of focus portion of a photograph. There are different kinds of bokeh depending on the shape of your shutters and depending on your lens and depending on whether it's the background or the foreground that's out of focus, and depending on your camera's ability to produce it. It's all very technical. There is good bokeh and there is bad bokeh. Anyway, I wanted me sum bokeh. These are the objects. ↓ They are not in bokeh, they're in focus.




The fish was gently and briefly fried in an excess of butter. Excessive because I wanted it to be sloppy and have extra left over for sauce. I melted a few cubes of chicken broth, half of it went into butter that was frying the fish about a minute after it started frying. So the fish was steamed in butter and chicken broth with the juice of half a lime. A very large lime. A lime so large it wouldn't fit in my lime squeezer. A big honk'n dripping juicy lime. That took about three minutes to steam then removed from the pan.

The sauce was started in the mini Cuisinart. A handful of baby spinach pre-chopped to give the little blender a head start, plus the remainder of the chicken broth and the other half of lime. Salt and pepper, a garlic clove, and habanero flakes. Then dumped into the buttery pan that fried the fish. See what's happening here? Oil + acid = vinaigrette. Butter + lime = dressing. This is spinach flavored. It disappears as spinach and turns a beautiful bright liquid green that darkens into a an olive shade when it's cooked. I thickened it with a little corn starch which tends to lighten it again, but didn't gauge it and it could have used a little more. It was rather thin. The slab of dead fish filet was placed on a bed of Romaine with tomato, orange bell pepper, cucumber. The sauce drips off the fish and onto the vegetables. It’s all quite cold by the time I get around to eating it.



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