surimi salad

It's marketed as imitation crab meat but that is irrelevant. It is its own thing; Alaskan pollock. I love this stuff more than I love lobster or crab meat. And I know that because all those things were in the case along with other great seafood, but it is this Alaskan pollock that I wanted.

When our family lived in Japan all the little soups that we had off base would have a little white disc with a pink rim floating on top for decoration. "What is this stuff?"

"It's a food product of processed fish."

"That's wild. I like it."

Japanese were decades ahead. They started this trend. And a delightful side benefit is that it's remarkably inexpensive.

If you look on YouTube for [surimi  salad] you'll see that you can do anything that you like. What follows is a photo essay on the things that I like that I had on hand. You can add olives, noodles, avocado, tomato, sweet peppers, fennel, hard-boiled egg, herbs; cilantro or basil or dill, green onion, artichoke hearts, apple would be good, jicama would be nice, corn, spinach, peanuts, pecans, almonds, sesame seeds, grapes, raisins, you name it. Just include the things that you like. But not peas! God, what are you insane? Kidding. Make your own sauce to replace mayonnaise, or adjust mayonnaise. I like to think in terms of color and texture and flavors. Know what? Ham or chicken would be cool too.

Salted with onion to draw out the moisture, and the onion to remove the sulfur sting, then rinsed a few times and pressed really hard against the side of the bowl and squeezed really hard in my hands. 

This is one carrot. Each sliver was cut twice. They overwhelmed the whole thing. 

cherry Jell-o, nectarine

I forgot how good this is.

Over a decade ago one of my brothers, my father and I went to a cafeteria in Englewood (Colorado). That's where my dad told us the meatloaf he saw was the worst because of the tomato sauce they used to cover it. He'd prefer catsup. While I thought it looked very good. Neither of us got the meatloaf but all three of us saw it there. It looked like the perfect meatloaf, but my dad disparaged it by sight. 

Dad, I love you, but when it comes to food, you are wrong about everything. 

He's dead now. But I pretend he's still alive.

While there we caught the most unusual sight. A family walked past us as we sat there in amazement. It looked like this.

chicken thigh and leg, nectarine

Peach season has ended but these nectarines sure are juicy and flavorful.

The chicken is simply salted and peppered and tossed into a bread pan and baked. I never did that before but it works fine.

blueberry pie

It's small. I used two clam-shell containers of frozen blueberries, coated them with a tablespoon of corn starch with salt, sugar, cinnamon and trace of ground clove. 

And pecans.

The crust is 1.5 cups flour, salt, sugar, cinnamon, 3/4 stick of butter cubed and rubbed in, with 1/4 cup vodka to bring it together. The vodka burns off and evaporates leaving nothing.  

ham, egg and cheese sandwich

My pullman bread, with wheat this time, three types of grated cheese, deli ham and an egg cooked for less than one minute. 

Light as air breadsticks, cheese, bacon, sun-dried tomato

Heavy, dense, powerful Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese,
Thick, heavy, powerful deli bacon,
Intense, condensed, powerfully flavored sun-dried tomatoes.

Combined with yeast bread and over-proofed then baked twice to produce feather-light breadsticks that literally melt in your mouth with an explosion of flavor spread by the moisture of your own saliva. Bite into one and it disappears, and you're all what, WHAT WHAT just happened inside my mouth? Where did it go? Then boom, the flavor is spread all over you mouth to every nick and cranny inside there. Food isn't supposed to be like this, yet here it is.

I urge you to try this. Get your kids involved or your grandkids. It's fun. Like Play-Doh.

There are three tricks that come into use.

1) Lots of fat. Flavorful fat. The cheese is considered a fat, and the bacon is fatty. Use all of that and supplement with olive oil cooked with the bacon to get the bacon to crisp evenly and flavor the oil intensely. ALL of the flavor in expensive bacon is spread throughout the dough. Oil makes things light and when baked twice oil makes things crispy.

2) Process bacon and tomato and even cheese to dust with some of the flour to capture every atom of flavor.

3) bake the breadsticks in batches 10 minutes at 375℉. At this point they're like bread. Then lower the temperature to 250 and bake them all again for 20 minutes to dehydrate them.

If the the breadsticks are rolled and cut thinly then they tend to bend as they bake and dry out, but when they're rolled thickly like these are then they hold their shape better. These thick ones are every bit as light as the thin ones.

This was a large batch beginning with 2 cups of hot water, and that determines the rest. Rarely do I ever use 2 teaspoons of yeast, but I wanted these to go good and fast, and do heavy lifting with all the heavy elements I'm adding. It's not necessary because yeast multiplies exponentially, but I did it anyway.

Also, although a large batch I didn't want to mess around with a million thin breadsticks. And I only have five sheet pans and four plastic storage boxes that I used for proofing. Plus I was lazy yesterday and I didn't want to keep rolling out dough and cutting thin ones that would require extra makeshift tinfoil trays and makeshift cling wrap covers.

I used to break off small amounts of dough and roll out snake shapes, and that's a major pain in the beau-tox so recently I bought a pizza cutter wheel and that works very nicely on dough rolled out to a rectangular pizza shape.

Come to think of it, this combination of flavors, intense tomato, intense cheese and intense bacon does taste like pizza. What a BUMMER! That's not what I was aiming for. These flavors without the tomato and in moderation are a lot more elegant.

Also chipotle powder, Held back a bit, so that it doesn't stick out.

I suppose garlic would work too.

Or any dry herb.

The dough is divided in half for two batches.
A smaller batch cut to pencil-thin sticks can be rolled out all at once.

Breadstick pagoda ↑.

I'm short one baking tray
and two plastic storage boxes for proofing. 

These are unbelievable. I cannot keep off them. It's ridiculous, it's like 5 cups of flour and I cannot keep off them. They'll be gone in just a few days. 

They're terrible for one's diet. I'll have to give some away.

grilled cheese sandwich

This is Jamie Oliver's idea, toasted cheese on the outside, so cheese inside and out, and I must say, it is brilliant. Here, watch. 

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