Moros y Cristianos

Is that politically incorrect? Fine! Beans and rice then. First, sofrito dun my way, with jalapeno, cumin, and coriander. Those orange things down there are capsicums, not carrots.  And in'nit purdy?

Cooked the beans in a pressure cooker and it accidentally went to high instead of staying on beany low and that made the tender beans go a little bit splody, but I don't care, I love them anyway.

St. Ándre tartine

Tartine is fancy talk for open-face samich, a word wot I lernt on the interwebs. I intend to use this word often as possible to make people feel stupid, and then sniff arrogantly when asked to explain it.

* Carl's 1847 Oregon Trail sourdough bread, sliced thinly as possible
* St. Ándre triple cream
* Sweet onion sliced to one molecule thinness <--- br="" exaggeration="" molecules="" of="" possible="" several="">* Peperonata prepared previously, an alliteration that occurred randomly
* AeroGarden basil
* fresh tomato
* Sea salt.

Chicken and shrimp tempura

Guests and I ate this standing in the kitchen. Sliced chicken and peeled shrimp lightly dusted with flour so the batter would adhere, then dipped into a thin batter of cold water, cold egg, three types of flour; a tablespoon of corn starch with double that amount of rice flour and double that of white AP four, with pinches of salt, pepper, and Jamaican jerk proprietary blend and a trace amount of baking powder. Batter adjusted to thinness with ice water. Most of the batter was rubbed off the bits, otherwise the narrow slivers of chicken would be too heavily battered, then dropped into vegetable oil heated to 360 ℉, carefully monitored, and removed following a few minutes cooking, and boy, oh boy, was the thirteen year old impressed! Or at least he said so, charming young fellow.

* straight honey

* sauce of soy + mirin + fish sauce + water. Mmmmmm, fish sauce.

Late night snack

And by late night, I mean early morning.

100% within The Zone™.

Eggs Florentine

Did you know an English muffin is properly pan fried sourdough bread? I have sourdough bread that has been baked, already available and sitting right here, so there is no point in working up a batch just for this. And there is no point in frying it either since mine is already baked. Add to that my strong preference for my own bread, and well, there ya go. I wonder what the British think of us calling these lazy-ass pan-fried bread things English. Do you think they're offended or amused? The British do not claim them. They were invented by an American. It's like Swiss meatballs. The Swiss never heard of them. How dare us invent something so no-class and then attach another nationality to them. Think of anything like that: Irish stew, Canadian bacon, French fries or toast, Italian bread, Polish sausage, and chances are, those countries had nothing to do with them.

As a friend says, "But I digest."

Although it is kind of fun.


* Minced onion and garlic into a small pot with a scant Tablespoon of flour and a Tablespoon of butter. Sweat and heat through. Toast the flour, cook into a roux.

* A half Cup of milk. Bring to simmer. This forms a loose sauce.

* Chop desired amount of spinach and add it to the pot to wilt.

* Grate Parmigiano Reggiano cheese . Remove the pot from the heat and add the cheese. With salt and pepper, this finishes the Florentine mixture. It would be good in a little pile all by itself. Consider sprinkling it with nutmeg.

Ta daaaaaaa.


Hollandaise is exactly like mayonnaise, and I mean zakly like mayonnaise, 'cept diff'ern't. Like mayonnaise, you're adding oil to whipped eggs slowly at first then steadily drizzled. The difference is, lemon juice instead of vinegar, and butter instead of vegetable oil. Here, I substituted 1/2 olive oil for butter, so my mixture was 50/50 butter and olive oil. Same difference. Salt and pepper finishes. Like most all dressings, it's a combination of oil and acid. It's heated. But then, your store-bought mayonnaise is also heated. It seems scary, but it's not. It's simple and it's fun and it magic. Teach your children this, they'll love you for it. Kids love magic.

While using the double boiler (bowl set above barely simmering water), the egg can cook within seconds. You'll notice as you're stirring, the portion that rises up the side of the bowl by your whipping action has a tendency to cook first. When this happens, simply remove the bowl from the double boiler as soon as you notice cooking occurring and continue whipping the mixture being sure to incorporate that portion that is beginning to cook back into the mixture. Return the bowl to the double boiler (the top of the gently simmering pot) and continue merrily on your way. If your mixture turns out too thick, as mine did, add trace amount of water and whisk it in. Salt and pepper, and whatever else strikes your fancy. It'll blow your socks off.

* lemon juice and egg yolks into a bowl to be fitted above a pot of gently simmering water.

* whisked.

* butter / olive oil dripped in, then drizzled in, then dumped in while whisking.

* the immersion blender is not useful for this because the bowl is too shallow and it flings sauce all over the kitchen. Guess how I would know this.

Ta daaaaaaa.


* Trimmed sourdough slices instead of so-called English muffins. Ha ha ha ha ha. English. That kills me.

* Honey baked ham instead of Canadian bacon or regular bacon or cod, for that matter.

* So there's two substitutions right there. Deviance from canon that would get me kicked out of culinary school. But if I was kicked out of culinary school for creative deviance, then I would mock my teachers, I would say, "This is why you're stuck teaching instead of running a five star restaurant you narrow minded provincial precisian martinet! Then I would pop the flat of my hand over my mouth making that hollow "POP" sound, as an audial explanation point, glare menacingly, spin on my heel, and abruptly exit. In my mind.

Asian chicken, vegetable stir fry

I am wokless. La la la, I don't care. I'm making a stir fry anyway.

* White rice steamed in the usual way. Rinsed. Slightly less than double the amount of water brought to a boil, temperature cut to low, covered and steamed for 25 minutes, heat cut off, continued to steam another 10 minutes. The whole time of steaming the cover remains ON. No peeking, or this puppy here get's it ! To mold the cooked rice, moisten the inside of a small bowl by swirling water in it and dumping it out, then lightly pack in the rice, invert the bowl of rice over a plate and lift off the bowl, the rice will slip out but still hold the shape of the bowl, if you cooked sticky rice as above, if you used Uncle Ben's™ reconstituted, reconstructed, resurrected rice, then, well, pfffft, you're on your own. Converted. That's what it is. Converted. What? Did it used to be Protestant and now it's Jewish? Converted from what to what?

* A sauce is prepared in advance, 3/4 Cup chicken broth, in this case, turkey broth, 1 Tablespoon corn starch for thickener, can be flour of nearly any type but that would be a nearly intolerable deviation and most unAsian, your karma would suffer, soy sauce, Hoisin sauce, ginger and garlic, powdered forms are OK if you're slumming it, scant teaspoon sesame seed oil. This oil burns at lower temperature than plain vegetable oil so it's not that great of an idea to include it with the oil but rather added it at the end with the sauce. Sesame seed oil is more of a flavor thing than a cooking oil thing.

The vegetables and protein are all cut in advance and ready to go, mise en place, as pictured below, because the actual frying goes quickly, especially with a flat pan, and you don't want to be messing around dicing things and mixing sauces once the action starts. Because of the increased surface area of the flat pan, and because it is a non-non-stick pan, meaning things stick, I kept handy a jar of water to control the temperature, to steam vegetables quickly as I'm layering them, and to lift the fond off the pan to mix with the frying/steaming vegetables. Were you to observe this in action, you'd be convinced I'm a pro, or in the very least probably did this before. I recently saw Paula Dean do this with a wok and she was risibly, ridiculously, woefully unprepared, chopping as she went along, mixing up a sauce while things were frying. She was clearly out of her element. And this makes me laugh. It makes me laugh a sinister, malevolent and unsympathetic, ridiculing laugh, one that goes, Buaaaa haaa haaa haaaa hooo hooo snort hooo hoo heh heh heh, and then I roll my eyes in disgust, and then I imitate the way she talks exaggerating her foibles which I'm convinced are contrived, so I add that too, the self-awareness of what I'm doing, subtracting syllables from multi-syllabic words like "oil" and "boil" and adding syllables to words like "flour," but I say that's what I'm doing in her accent and her speech pattern and her volume, which is unnecessarily and obnoxiously LOUD. If you were here you'd either crack up laughing or punch me in the face. I'm especially annoyed with her substituting the phoneme "tuh" for the word "to." George Bush does that too. That's why these two people often go directly to mute.

But I forgive her for all that because she was so considerate to her dog, Gracie.

 The dog was sleeping on a rug right in front of the sink and when Paula Dean went to dump a heavy pot of water into the sink she struggled with the heavy pot, more so for not disturbing the dog, risking throwing out her back by extending the pot over the dog exceedingly unergonomically instead of kicking the dog out of the way, or pushing it with her foot, or verbally shooing it off. That made me love her, and it forces me to forgive her verbal annoyances which are considerable.

But I'm talking about Asian chicken. Turn on a fan aimed at the smoke alarm because it's going to go off. Heat the pan to high. Add oil. It should shimmer immediately. Protein first. If the protein is really tender, and if you have vegetables that take a long time, consider removing the protein after it fries, then add it back after the vegetables, otherwise, begin layering vegetables before the protein is finished, that way it won't be overcooked by the time you get to the end. Help the vegetables along with steam if you think it's necessary, as I did here with the broccoli, it was screwing up my timing so I added a little water to quick-steam them off, otherwise simply continue to add the vegetables in increments, most durable first, most tender last. You can see in the photos how I added mine, celery and onion first, mushrooms and spinach last. Your combination of vegetables will differ. The heat was cut when the sauce mixture was added because Hoisin contains sugar and I didn't want that to burn onto the pan. Also, I used some of the reserve water to rinse out the jar with the sauce mixture and added that too. The flat pan guaranteed excess moisture would evaporate quickly. A wok will act differently.  

The white stuff in the bowl with the mushrooms is asparagus.

Colorado potato salad

Colorado potatoes. Ha ha ha ha ha ha. See? Now that's funny right there. No SRSLY, think globally but buy produce locally, which is a fine adage to go by if you happen to live in the Alsace Lorraine or the Burgogone, or possibly even California, but Colorado, eh, not so much. But we can at least try, thus the Colorado potatoes, if that's what these things are and not a cat poo variety pack. I'll let you know. I bought 'em because they were cute.

New potatoes put into boiling salted water, not cold water and brought up to a boil together like usually with potatoes, which is done with larger potatoes to guarantee even cooking all the way through the potato from the surface to the inside. That's not a great idea with Pigmy potatoes like this. The larger of these diminutive tubers should be cut to be the same size as the rest, for even cooking, which turns out to be fast. They're unceremoniously dumped into a vinaigrette while still hot because they absorb the flavors better that way. Otherwise, they just become lightly coated.

The vinaigrette,

* vinegar
* oil
* honey
* mustard
* a dash of Vindaloo curry
* salt
* pepper

No messing around with the vinaigrette, just dump it all in and whisk. I could have probably left out the habanero chile flakes I added impulsively, seemed like a good idea, but I could have done without burning my lips off.

That up there ^^^ was the main idea. Everything else was just stuff I had around that struck me like it might be good tonight, and it turned out great. I just kept adding stuff and turning it around in the vinaigrette as I added. I wanted to be sure to use a lot of basil because my plants are almost touching the lights and I can not move the lights up any more because the whole thing is on top of the refrigerator and there isn't any more room, plus the cuttings are starting to bolt. There is as much basil as there is lettuce, and that is fine with me. The main flavors coming through are the curry and the basil, and this fills my mouth with glee.

The shrimp was added frozen to the same water as the potatoes, which halted the boiling, and then promptly lifted out with a slotted spoon after just a few minutes cooking and before the potatoes finished, which themselves cooked fairly quickly, so the whole thing didn't take but a few minutes. Total elapsed time, well, time's not really my bag, but I'd say about 8.23784938 minutes. Just guessin'.

You'll notice a little puddle of vinaigrette at the bottom of the ingredients as they're first added that disappears as more ingredients are piled in. The first ingredients are what coat the following ingredients as they tumble. How do I judge the quantity to start with so that there's enough without supersaturating? Experience! That's how.

The following is a photo essay on a carelessly improvised salad that turned out stupendously.

Carl's 1847

Oregon Trail Sourdough Starter, available here for free. Carl's Friends homepage here, updated with fresh new linkies on how to get started with sourdough, with links to photographs of successful loaves, various famous sourdough people who were early to putting up information for dissemination over this here interwebnetthingie, plus more information on fondly remembered Carl Griffith, famous among sourdough bakers, along with different types of bread and various techniques, ideas on approaches and methods including the no-fuss no-knead method, used here to produce the loaves pictured below, that has brought hundreds if not thousands new enthusiastic and eager bakers to the otherwise impenetrable and mysterious wonderful world of sourdough bread. Ha ha ha. What a loon.

The exhausted starter was removed from cold storage and rejuvenated incrementally and exponentially in the usual way already discussed at length in earlier posts. The weather was mild so the large storage tub containing the sponge was placed on the balcony for two days extended proofing in cold but not freezing temperature without the need to regulate.   The sponge did that through slight fluctuations all by itself, although I did feel a need to monitor only because I'm just a little neurotic that way. It was brought inside to the warmth and comfort and temperature ideal for yeast cells to abandon all repression and really let themselves go in uninhibited undisciplined carefree orgiastic abandon and to fully proof as far and as fast as their food supply will take them which is considerable. The whole timing regimen was quite careless. Full use was made of the sponge's broad range for error, which is possible by knowing the limitations. Yay! * dances *

25% whole wheat flour milled at home, 75% flour specific for bread. Oddly, though, this particular mill markets flour for bread with the same protein level as AP flour. I have to assume the bread flour contains a blend of a higher mixture of hard grain compared to soft grain for the AP flour, without jacking up the protein level, but I'm not sure. I called the mill and asked about this puzzling situation that confounds me greatly, but I could not get a straight answer. I don't think there is a straight answer. I think they do the best with the grain they've got season to season following general guidelines, but they can not be nailed down to anything specific. They also market a higher protein flour for bagels and other dense bread that results in too dense a crumb, lacking in large open holes that are valued by us artisan bread bakers. The gluten level in that brand of high protein flour is ridiculous, and the resulting crumb too tight. Me no likey. Plus it's sold in 50 LB bags. I've gone through about eight of those 50 LB bags before switching to flour with lower protein, just to show ya how much fun I've been having.

A woman on my floor rode up with me in the elevator. She asked me, "Aren't you the guy who bakes all the bread?" I go, "Yup." She goes, "D'ya still do it?" I go, "Yup." She goes, "Don't you ever get tired of it?" I go, "Nope. I go through periods but I never get tired of it. As a matter of fact, I just bought some more flour" I pointed out the 25 LB sack of flour in the cart loaded with bags. She looked at the bag of flour closely. Her eyes widened. She goes, "I've never seen a bag of flour that big before." I said, "This is a half size." Ha ha ha ha ha. "Want some?" So she gave me her name and apartment number. Now, you have to admit, that's quite a conversation to have within the span of five floors, in'nit?

The loaves were baked two at a time, with the required amount of sponge cut from the bulk sponge as needed through three baking periods at 500℉, oh, how I do like to live dangerously. I aimed a fan directly at the smoke alarm just in case it was caused to scream at 5:30 am., which is when all this baking started. Wouldn't do to have the firemen roused that early, nor my neighbors wakened. By 9:30 am, two of the loaves were already given away.

We had a little group photo before they left.

Confessions of a pineapple thief

I nicked a pineapple on Maui. This satisfied a life-long yearning and I do believe it was the most delicious pineapple I have ever eaten, possibly because it was pilfered.

Jaws is the name given by surfers to the beach Hawaiians call Peahi, their word for "beckon." It is the beach with the killer surf that exceeds sixty foot waves due to unique underwater topography, chiefly a massive underwater ridge of unusual steepness. Average swells pass over the edge of the reef without incident, but larger storm swells strike the reef and abruptly build upward in a process termed shoaling.

But there's more. The swells on both side of the reef bend inward funneling the energy on the center of the wave crest forming a veritable pyramid of stacked water. The deep water channel next to the subsurface ridge ensures a safety zone where the wave doesn't break.

The waves hitting the reef at Peahi travel from deep water to shallow water in less than a minute. The rapid change in depth cuts the regular speed of the wave in half, like slamming brakes, it compresses the wave and causes the rear of it up to an impressive maximum height. The most impressive on Earth, actually. Surfers fly in from around the world to take advantage of the surf in season.

Our trip coincided with the Tsunami in the Indian Ocean, and record waves at Jaws.

I have wanted to traipse through a pineapple field ever since I first saw them at the beginning of fourth grade. Our plane held over in Honolulu for a few hours on our way to Tokyo when I was nine years old. I could see the fields from the car window, and yearned intensely to explore them. But we didn't have time, and I was with my family, and I didn't have any control, and my father was unsympathetic to my childish desire. I do recall thinking of all the people on the beach, "Everybody is so old!" I concluded Hawaii was for old people.

I came close to another chance at twenty-two when I traveled again to Honolulu with a small group of friends. Again, I could see the pineapple fields we drove by. My friends didn't share my desire to explore the fields. They thought the idea bizarre. Once again, I was with friends, I didn't have control, and the people I was with were unsympathetic to my childish desire. But I do recall thinking of the people on the beach, "Gosh, everybody is so gorgeous!"

I was provided a third opportunity when my brother and I traveled to Maui together. Once again I could see the pineapple fields from the car window. But this time I was with a person entirely sympathetic to my childish desire to explore the pineapple fields. And the cane fields. And the diving reefs, and the helicopter rides, and the beaches, and the restaurants, and the jeep trips, and the whale excursions and the dolphin viewing, and pretty much anything we could think of.

To observe the surf of Jaws from the overlooking cliff requires a short hike of about a mile skirting the edge of a pineapple field. I couldn't believe how carelessly the trucks bashed through the edge of the field squashing the valuable yield of carefully cultivated bromeliads. At least they seemed that way to me.

The cane at the end of the pineapple field and edging the steep cliff was taller than we were so it had to be stomped down and then stood upon as an uncertain smashed-reed platform, then one had to strain to see the surfers as tiny dots within the maws of gigantic waves far below. Filming crews had already assembled and taken up the best spots. But for me, even greater than observing the surfers brave the record-breaking waves at Jaws, the helicopters swooping the area, the general excitement of the surfing season, was the satisfaction of the hike and exploring the pineapple field.

Pineapple fields are bastards. The plants are tightly packed and their serrated leaves are like vicious protective swords. There are undoubtedly insects in there as big as your hand. It's no place to be in short pants. Frankly, you wouldn't want to be in one for more than a few minutes. So that was that. A childhood fantasy fulfilled. I nicked a pineapple on the way out. One of thousands that wasn't crushed by the cars lining the path at the edge of the field. I was simultaneously filled with guilt and glee. If I owned that land, I'd be seriously pissed. But I recall thinking of all the people on the beach that trip, "Everybody is so young!"

For the record, the pineapple pictured above is less than half the cost in Denver than on Maui, unless you steal one, of course.  And it occurs to me pineapple leaves are not really serrated but it sure seems like they are when they're cutting your legs.

Lemon pie

I want this lemon pie to be a little bit foamy, not like thick lemon pudding, unless it's like a light and airy lemon pudding. I will avoid Eagle Brand condensed milk. It will contain eggs, cream, sugar, dash of salt, fourteen gallons of vanilla extract, which is possibly a slight exaggeration. Oh, and lemon, the juice and the scrapings from the lemon skin. It will have an ordinary pie crust but one that's extraordinarily flaky. I will put those flakes in there myself, one by one, and by hand. I will do this rapidly and efficiently without the use of specialized tools. It will be a thing of wonder.

How to do this:

* Two lemons, the juice and the scrapped skin
* Four whole eggs
* One cup sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt or a pinch of sea salt
* one and 1/2 cup cream
* one Tablespoon vanilla extract (a lot, to take the edge off the saccharine/tart combination)

* Flour, a little over a cup
* Butter, Crisco, lard,  I think about a little less than 1/2 cup. Possibly more. 
* pinch of salt, cinnamon, allspice.  
* 1/8 to 1/4 cup ice water. A spray bottle would be great for this. 

* an immersion blender makes this really fun, but it's not necessary.

A little bit of the cream is heated along with the eggs and the juice and the scrapping and the sugar. It is blended with the immersion blender. It's bubbly but not foamy. It threatens to curdle it is removed from the heat and the blending continued.

The remaining cream, about one cup, is whipped in a separate container. It turns out to look like not enough so a little more is added, about 1/3 cup.

I taste the cooked mixture. I decide I don't like those skin scraping in there. They're too annoying. They are strained out. They did their job. Now, begone! I taste again. It hits me right in the jaws, like something tart should. I decide it needs more vanilla. I'm a fiend with this vanilla, and have no problem going overboard with it.

The two mixtures are combined, the cooked lemon curd and the whipped cream. I'm expecting the heat from the brought-just-to-simmer-curd to melt the whipped cream like the hot soup did, but it seems to be holding up. Whatever. It lightened the mixture and that's all that I wanted. The total mixture got whipped a lot together, not like a souflé, but not dense as pudding either. This is beginning to look like it just might work.

The crust was made with butter and a little less Crisco and a lot less lard rubbed into it. The fats were cold. The cold lumps were rapidly smashed and rubbed through the flour quickly so that the heat from my hands wouldn't have time to melt it. Each little flour coated fat particle will translate into a separate flake once the crust is baked. The entire flour mixture was cold. There wasn't enough fat in the flour so I nicked off a little more Crisco and rubbed that in too. When my fingertips felt the crumbly mass of flour coated fat particles was sufficiently enfattenated I drizzled ice water in the moving particles while mixing thoroughly and rapidly attempting to add as little water as possible to bring the dough together into a shaggy evenly dampened mass. One that would stand a bare chance of holding together once rolled. The dough was put into the refrigerator while I cleaned up the place, where it rested, hydrated, and chilled.

The dough was rolled out onto parchment paper with its plastic wrapping on top. The parchment was used to lift the dough into the pie dish, actually the dish was inverted over the rolled dough and the whole thing, parchment, dough, and dish were flipped over. The dough was put into the freezer. to re-firm. The chilling again, is so the dough doesn't shrink when it is pre-baked, and to help convince it of its structure. It seems a little odd, to put something chilled directly into a hot oven, but that's what you do. Great pie crusts are all about temperature control. Well, that and water control. And also fat control. And I suppose flour control to. What the hell, it's all about control.

The parchment paper was cut to fit inside the pie and covered with spoons to hold it down. It's basically flour and fat and it tends to bubble up. The crust was docked to let steam escape and prevent bubbles, and briefly pre-baked. (10 minutes) The weight of the spoons also helped prevented it from bubbling.

The spoons and parchment disc were removed and the pie shell filled with the combined foamy mixture. Returned to the oven and baked for 40 minutes.

The pie shell pre-baked at 400℉, it could have gone a little longer than 10 minutes, and the whole pie was baked at 350℉ for forty minutes, that could have also gone longer without suffering.

It puffed up for now and that's a good sign. It'll probably deflate, such is the nature of puffy things that are baked.

Do you know what goes with this? Perfect coffee.

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