Chocolate covered pecans

With gray Brittany sea salt. Gros, crunched down to be less gros with a mortar and pestle although I have no idea which part is the mortar and which part is the pestle. I do know the thing is amazingly heavy.

The chocolate is tempered this time because the coating bloomed on those flat lemon cookies down there ↓. And that is ruinous! Not really, but it's not that nice. Tempering stabilizes the cocoa fat, that is raising the temperature beyond melting, then lowering the temperature until it thickens, raising it again to a working temperature just barely beyond the melting point, or less specifically the melting range of temperatures. That makes the finished product more stable, less susceptible to slight changes in ambient temperature and therefore less likely to blooming, makes it possible to produce an attractive sheen, and to break with a distinctive and desirable snap. The self-proclaimed Chocolate Bible, Christian Teubner, recognizes three acceptable methods for tempering chocolate, I declare a fourth for which I shall become famed, the double bath method, hot water bath, cool water bath, back to hot water bath. I've had a little trouble with this method so I cannot yet recommend it, but I'm working on that. I also have a chocolate tempering machine, but it's much messier than my own simple method. I might give up on my method and revert to the machine if I don't start getting more consistent and reliable results.

See, I have all this couverture chocolate laying around that must be used before it starts picking up undesirable flavors like an odor magnet, and I just discovered the most difficult of all to mess with is the best tasting even much better than the most exclusive and expensive by 100%. So I have learned by having it. Now I'm sort of eager to use it all up and make it go away so I can get some more. And it does make wonderful gifts. And kids do love it equally as well as adults, And it is health food, after all. What's not to like?

Doubt that last thing? Chocolate is comprised of up to 55% fat, 14% protein, 9% starch, 2.6% minerals, 5% water, 14% salt-free essences concentrates high nutritional value into the smallest volume. I read that in a book! So therefore it must be true. What?

I heated the pecans in the microwave. Then heated more when I saw there wasn't enough to use up this batch of chocolate. Heating the nuts excites and activates the oil within them and tends to bring it to the surface. A taste-test before and after confirms the point. The sea salt was just a decadent extravagance and to insist I'm not listening to anybody when it comes to cutting back on salt. I make all my own food here so I'm not subjected to overly salted prepared commercial food that is ruining everybody else's health so disastrously in America. Salt is necessary to body functioning, the nervous system particularly, and I can't get salt unless I add it myself. So there you have it. Those are my opinions and for now I'm sticking with them. *crosses arms.*

Oh wait! Maybe they're ready.

Nom nom nyom nom, nope, nom nom nom, they're not, nyom nom nom, lick, nom nom, crunch, nom nyom nom nom, smack, nyom nom nom ready yet, nom nom nom, Oh my God, nom nom nyom nom, this is, nom nom nom, good. Lick lips. Lick fingers. Suck lips.

New York steak, green salad

I picked these up on sale. They were like half price. How could I refuse? I should have gotten a dozen -- but whatdaya think, I'm crazy? New York steak set out for an hour to bring to room temperature. Salted on both sides with kosher flake salt. This causes the juices to be drawn to the surface then drawn back to the center of the meat dragging the salt with it. The advantage of this, like brining is the juices, the moisture, tends to stay there. Take care not to over salt because that would be gross. This is one of the reasons why kosher salt is so cool. It facilitates control a little better. There is actually nothing inherently kosher about the salt, it's just that it's used in the preparation of a lot of kosher foods.

Simple olive oil/vinegar dressing. As you can see, I used an entire avocado and tomato, which is a meal in itself and which indicates I'm a total undisciplined hog with no sense of portion control.

Hashed browned potatoes, two fried eggs

My stomach is bulging out like Santa Clause.

A single Russet potato pealed and shredded in the Cuisinart, rinsed and spun like a salad. Fried in 50%/50% butter/olive oil on medium. Flipped like a pancake. And, Boy, is it ever good.

Mussels with white wine

Not shown, butter, quite a lot, almost a stick, say, six ounces. White wine, I forget what kind, the airline type where one cup comes in a bottle, I could look but I can't be arsked. Let's say generic.

Brined the mussels this time. It hardly helped any if at all. Caused the buttered wine to go all salty. Couldn't enjoy the broth like it was mussely soup like last time, and that's a no-good, low-down, dirty rotten wasteful shame that is.

But isn't my bread nice? It's sort of a careless brioche, in that its' fortified with lots of butter, milk, and eggs. I could make that stuff blindfolded. Mind you the kitchen would be a gigantic mess and I'd risk burning down the building, but I could do it. It's 1/4 whole wheat flour I milled myself. The next time I'm going to use a higher percentage of whole wheat since that commercial yeast is so powerful it can easily do the heavy lifting, and include flour more coarsely milled resulting in a denser and more interesting texture, I'm imagining.

Huevos casitos

Not precisely a ranchero over here, just a little house.

This is my new way to make scrambled eggs -- similar to a failed sauce, or almost like a custard. I'm aiming for very wet, barely cooked, creamy with miniscule curds. It's cooked on the lowest heat possible. Coriander and cumin and mustard are added to the egg mixture before it's cooked, pre-heated onion and jalapeño mixture is added after it the eggs are cooked.

I made bread just so I could have toast with eggs, but now my eggs are Mexican so they need tortillas. Corn tortillas.

Buy this.

Mix with hot water. keep adding one or the other until a workable consistency is reached. Too wet and you won't be able to peel them from the plastic. Too dry and they'll crack when pressed. Use your intuition.

Spray oil on the plastic, at least for the first one. Not necessary to re-spray for each tortilla.

Smash it with your hand. Fix the edges which tend to crack.

Let 'er rip.

Rotate and press again. Much more gently this time. I like to press each one three times. Hard, light, light. Turning it, thinking of it as a clock. Producing a few failures will show you where you went wrong. Too thin, too thick, too dry, too wet, those sorts of things. Once you get going, you can really whip 'em out.

Peel off the plastic from one side onto your palm, then c-a-r-e-f--l-l-y pull off the plastic from the other side. If you're not careful, the thin and delicate tortilla will rip, and that will ruin everything and everybody dies!

Fry the tortilla on medium heat for no more than a few seconds. It does not have to actually brown. Incidentally, this is the first step of chips. For chips, you can take a stack of COOKED tortillas and cut them all at once. Deep-fry them in batches and salt immediately out of the oil for the best doggone tortilla chips you'll ever have, and I mean it. We make them here for parties. Guests get a kick out of helping, and they're always completely devoured. I urge you to try this sometime. It's fun.

You do not have to oil the pan.

Milk, cream, chicken soup, whatever, some kind of liquid, beat into the egg.

Jalapeños in a tiny tin. These are sliced. The tins can come in diced, sliced into rounds, or whole. These are strips, so another cut on the board turned 'em into diced. Where I live, these can take up an entire grocer's aisle. They can be mild, medium, or hot. They come in all sizes of tins. Get the hot ones, or why bother? You know you're in gringo-land when your only choice is mild. Which is so pathetic it makes me mad.

We're aiming for a thick egg sauce cooked on very low heat. This can be speeded by heating the liquid first then tempering into the eggs. In that case, you're half way there before it gets to the pan. I did not do that.

You'll notice I didn't add cheese. What, do you think I'm insane? I'd have garnished with cilantro if I had it, but alas, for I am presently cilantroless.

Deep-fried oysters

Man, oh, man, I am totally over shucking these things. What a tremendous pain in the butt. The batteries on my cordless drill are drained. So I used a Dremel, and ewww Lordy does that oyster shell powder ever stank! Screams like a banshee too. But it does work. Makes a little hole to wedge in a flat-headed screwdriver.

Is that a cop out?

I need oyster shucking lessons.

Made a dredge with AP flour, masa (tortilla cornmeal treated with lye) S/P, cayenne powder, garlic powder, prepared Vindaloo curry. Doesn't that sound wonderful?

Made a drench with an egg and 2% milk.

Dusted with the dredge, knocked off the excess, drenched, shook off the excess, re-dredged, tumbled off the excess. Dumped in batches into 350˚F vegetable oil. Drained on kitchen paper.

Pork and eggs

This is my new favorite thing, meat cut into chunks, seasoned, dusted with flour and quickly fried. I just love it. The thing is, I can keep it in the pan then keep returning to it and nibble on it like a little monkey. I'm lazy that way.

Today it's pork.

The bread I made myself. 

I cut off the tops and bottoms of the bread slices to make sticks to poke in the eggs. Fried 'em in the same pan as the eggs in olive oil. Like elongated delicate croutons. They're delicious.

Used jumbo eggs because I think they're cool. 

Brioche bread

How to make toast:

Step 1.) Make bread.

Bread fortified with milk, cream, egg, and butter. I suppose you'd call it brioche.

Made the usual careless way. I wrote out the whole thing but then when I finished I read it and go, "This is boring." I guess I should say this bread is 1/4 WW flour, 3/4 AP flour. I made it to have ordinary bread around for sandwiches, toast, and such. I'm compelled to add, this is child's play -- easy as tossing a loaf of bread into a shopping cart.

Really. This commercial yeast style bread is fun. Like it's made for children or something, the way it magically puffs up so fast, and with a b---r---o---a---d margin for error.


Zabaglione, zabaione, zabajone, sabayon, whatev, runny pudding if you like.

Egg + coffee made with milk instead of water + Nestles cocoa, a children's drink. No wine or sugar as usual. Certainly no corn starch. This turned out to be insufficiently infused with chocolaty goodness, so after photographing I tossed in a handful Ghiradhelli chocolate chips, whipped it up, and that fixed it.

I consumed two bowls at once because no one was around to say, "DON'T DO THAT, YOU PIG!"

And what kind of dinner would that be then? Well, it would be a two egg and a pint of milk kind of dinner, that's what.

Lamb chunks

Leg of lamb in chunks, fried wid nut'n, 'cuz I'm a glut'in for mut'in.

No sauce, no gravy, no wine, no beer, no spice, no vegetable, no bread, no nut'in.

Frozen chunks of lamb dusted with flour S/P right there it its freezer bag, and then fried. That's it. I recall the joy that filled me last time I did this, then blew it by pressure cooking further under the misguided effort to tenderize the meat more than it already was. It doesn't need that. The result was worse.

I ate this whole pile in one continuous scarf, like a cave-dweller that doesn't share. 

Chocolate tipped cookies

Don't even ask me what type of cookies these are because I do not know.

The thing is, when I made those meringue mushrooms for the bûche de février -- haha, I kill myself -- down there ↓, I thought at the time, "you know, stiffened with a little flour, and backing off from the sugar a little bit, these would probably make a decent cookie."

So that's what I tried to do.


I just have to admit it, I don't know what I'm doing. The first try I learned you cannot blend the meringue into the mixture. It flattens completely. The resulting cookie isn't at all bad, they're just not what I was looking for. So I made more meringue and folded the remaining mixture into that. They flattened out too. So I don't know what gives. I have no idea how to stiffen meringue with flour.

Oh, I also learned to plug the hole of the piping bag or you'll get it all over the floor when you're filling it. That was stupid.

I used butter. Maybe that's the problem. I also added lemon zest. Dusted the flour into the mixture. I forgot to lighten the mixture with 1/3 the meringue before folding it like you do for a soufflé. Maybe that was another problem. I did add salt because I know that it's essential. I used 50/50 granulated/confectioner's sugar. They are delicious, and worth keeping, but back to the drawing board. Or work surface, whatever. I still think it's a good idea.

I haven't a clue what kind of chocolate this is. It's been in the pantry now for about two years, possibly three. I have about 20 LBs of various couverture chocolate around that I use for the Egyptian candy molds I made. 

This chocolate here is not tempered. It's just melted. That means it will not have the attractive shine nor the tensile snap that tempered chocolate has. That's okay, they're only cookies.

When I learned that ladyfingers are made of Génoise, that put me off the idea because I wasn't thinking about cookies from cake batter. I wanted something to go with coffee. Something light and dry. Maybe I'll re-access that bias and give it a go.

Don't they look good? The lemon and the chocolate are like, wow. But they're not that great for dunking in coffee. That's why I gave 'em the chocolate treatment.

Chicken soup with avocado

This is as easy to make as eating pie.

That is if the pie you have requires a sharp knife, a cutting board, a pot, and a stove, to eat.

I used:

• Commercial chicken broth. Cop out, I know. But the stuff that comes in cartons is actually rather good. I have my own chicken broth, of course, but it's precious and I keep it around frozen for very special occasions -- like dinner.

• S/P, coriander and cumin, the usual Mexican suspects, that lend their authenticity to the most simplest of dishes.

• The avocado and the tomato are not cooked. If you do cook them then the whole thing is totally ruined and you're not playing along so just forget it!

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