I suppose you have already guessed that the oven is temporally out of order. So needless to say, I have not been doing any baking. I have however being doing a few other things to keep me entertained while I wait for The Outlaw Repairman to fix said oven, and I have compiled a top ten list of my favorites.
10. Read the oven manufactures owners manual (I wouldn't really call this entertainment, and I wouldn't say that I actually "read" the owners manual)
9. Try to fix the darn thing myself
8. Visit the emergency room (maybe I should have "read" the owners manual)
7. Oven? Who needs an oven? I'll just try cooking in the fireplace
6. Testing the fire extinguisher
5. Chatting with the local fire rescue team
4. Redecorating the living room
3. Try making brownies in a dutch oven on the counter top range
2. Chiseling burnt brownie out of the bottom of my dutch oven
1. Finally giving up and going to Krispy Kreme
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
This week I thought that I would take a break from my usual subject matter in order to address an issue that has been on my mind for some time.
There is an alarming amount of bicyclists in the Seattle area, this is fact that I am sure no one disputes. These said bicyclists as a group, I am sure, are probably fine upstanding members of their respective communities, that is until they climb on a bicycle. It's as if the bicycle it's self causes some sort of Jekyll and Hyde phenomenon. Enter bicycle exit brain. I never had an issue with bicyclists until I moved to Seattle. Then again, I never thought that I'd be sharing a four lane highway with a bicyclist. Here is the deal: IF YOU WANT TO PLAY IN THE ROAD, THEN PLAY BY THE RULES. That means signaling before turns, stopping at stop signs, and yielding to on coming traffic. I am generally a fairly compassionate person, but I find it very hard to feel sorry for a bicyclist that gets hit by a car, because most of you are asking for it. Don't get me wrong I'm not saying that I want anyone get hurt. Just keep in mind that when you ride like an ass you may be putting someone else's life in danger as well.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
I love, love moussaka. Not only does it taste good, but it's also fun to say: moussaka... mooooouuusaakkkkaaa. It's been said that moussaka can be any layered dish with vegetables and meat, and certainly there are many different Greek and Italian variations with similar sounding names. Traditionally moussaka is prepared with eggplant and bechamel (a white sauce) and seasoned with cloves and cinnamon, but it's not uncommon to see it made with zucchini and potatoes. I wouldn't call my moussaka traditional (I'm not Greek), but I think it still deserves some notice.
1-2 medium eggplants peeled and cubed
2-3 summer squash or zucchini sliced thinly
2 medium onions diced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
4 cups seasoned mashed potatoes (I'm talking the real thing here people not the crap you buy in a box)
2 cups grated colby jack cheese
1 cup bread crumbs
2.5 pounds of ground lamb or beef
.5 cup of chicken stock (or beef stock if you are using ground beef)
1 large tomato sliced
2 cloves garlic minced
a good amount of olive oil
preheat oven to 350
Wash the eggplant and zucchini, then place in a large bowl or tray. Next sprinkle liberally with salt and let them sit for 30 to 45 minutes, this will remove any bitterness and it will help absorb some of the natural juices. Place the eggplant and zucchini in a large, deep baking pan and then douse lightly with olive oil. Put the pan under a broiler until the eggplant and zucchini turn light brown and become soft. remove from heat and let cool.
Preheat a frying pan or skillet over medium heat. As soon as the pan becomes hot add 2-3 tbs of olive oil and brown the meat, add the onions and mushrooms and continue to cook until onions have caramelized and the mushrooms are soft. Season with salt and pepper. Next add the stock and let simmer, then add the bread crumbs and let simmer until most of the liquid has absorbed. remove from heat.
Now then... about the mashed potatoes. You can make them fresh or you can use left overs. It is important that they be warm and soft. If you have left over mashed potatoes put them in a pot with a little milk and butter and stir over low heat until they become warm and pliable. Speaking of leftovers, you could also use left over ground beef from a taco night and/or meat sauce from spaghetti night. Just add it to the onions and mushrooms as they are sauteing. Nobody will ever know...
Next comes the fun part (it's all fun, but this part is especially fun), the layering. Go back to that huge baking pan of yours. Take the meat mixture and spread it evenly over the eggplant and zucchini. Next take the mashed potatoes and spread over the top of the meat and zucchini. Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for 30 min. sprinkle cheese over the top and bake for an additional 10-15 min. Remove from heat and let cool for 20 min (if you can wait that long). Garnish with fresh tomato and enjoy.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
I think we can all agree that after a great meal the last thing that any of us want to do is, WASH DISHES. I for one would much rather finish the evening with a good cup of coffee, and some stimulating conversation. Enter the dishwasher. The dishwasher is a great time saving, soggy raisin finger saving, what in God's name is stuck to this plate saving miracle machine. Yes I am a fan. But, as with any machine, there are rules for operation. Some times we as human beings tend to go a bit overboard when trying to save time. It's not that we are lazy, it's just that we would rather do something else. There are some impulses that we must learn to tame. That being said, I have compiled a list of things that should never, never go in the dishwasher.
1. My baseball cards, no really these should never ever go in the dishwasher, that's number 1.
2. Silver flatware, The detergent will tarnish the silver, flatware also has a tendency to move around in the dishwasher, silver is a soft metal, the flatware could "scar."
3. Anything made of crystal i.e. vase's, lamp shades, glass ware. For some of the same reasons as the silver.
4. Your roommates ferret, sure he's a smelly little bugger, and it may seem like a good idea, but trust me you'll be sorry.
5. Expensive knives (regardless of what the handle is made out of, they shouldn't go in the sink either for that matter) The blade has a tendency to dull faster and it can become damaged.
6. Soft plastics i.e. some of the containers you get food in, like sour cream and such, if you want to reuse them hand washing is the way to go because they have a tendency to melt in the dish washer.
7. A bag of flour, I don't know why anyone would want to put a bag of flour in the dishwasher, I'm just putting it out there that it's a bad idea.
8. Anything made from cast iron i.e skillets, dutch ovens, and stew pots. The iron has a tendency to rust when it gets wet. Washing should be done by hand, and it should be done quickly. Also, the dish washer will ruin the pans seasoning. ( if you don't know what I mean by seasoning just leave me a comment and I'll be glad to explain it to you).
9. Your record collection. I know it seems like a quick and easy way to wash the dust and grime off old lp's, but it will compromise the integrity of the vinyl.
10. Anything made of wood i.e. cutting boards, wooden spoons, knives with wooden handles. A lot of these things are held together with glue, hot water from the dishwasher can melt the glue and also lead to splintering of the wood.
True, dishwashers are great, and I am a fan of anything that can make my life easier. But some times there is just no substitute for doing things by hand, we wouldn't want machines for everything. It's important to remember that the dishwasher is a tool and that it has limitations.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
French onion soup. It's simple yet sophisticated, easy but, complex. French onion soup is one of those things that even when it's bad, it's good. I can honestly say that I have never had a bad French onion soup, and if I have, I probably didn't realize it at the time of consumption. You folks can feel free to disagree with my synopsis, as I am most certain at least a few of you do. I have a thing for onions... it's weird I know, and probably the reason why I can't get a date, but I digress. There is one sure fire way to avoid such a profoundly heinous atrocity as consuming bad onion soup, and that is to follow this recipe.
2 Large golden or white onions, sliced not diced ( red and green onions don't work to well in this recipe, if you have Walla Walla onions by all means use them)
3 Tbs ( give or take ) olive oil
2 Tbs flour
4 cups beef stock (hey just cause it's onion soup doesn't mean it's vegetarian)
2 splashes of marsala wine (one for the pot and one for me... better make it 3 splashes)
2-3 cups garlic cream cheese croûtons ( this is more involved than it sounds because your going to make your own, don't worry it's easy, and they taste so much better)
5-10 slices of Munster cheese ( true swiss is probably more traditional, but this is my recipe and I want Munster, or a really good mozzarella.)
Seasoning (you can use freshly minced garlic and coarsely ground pepper, rosemary, sage, or you can cheat and use some of that Montreal steak seasoning, it works good, just don't go over board with it.)
Place a shallow sauce pan over medium heat and pour in your oil. Let the oil heat up a bit ( you want it hot but not smoking, smoking oil... now there's a habit you wanna avoid, not so sure they have a twelve step program for that) you can tell it's hot by slowly adding a little bit of the onion, when it starts to sizzle the oil is hot. When the oil is hot go ahead and add the rest of your onions, be sure to stir or shake the pan fairly frequently ( the idea is to caramelize the onions not burn the crap out of them) add your seasoning. When the onions have caramelized take a whisk and your marsala wine, add a splash or two of the wine to the pan and then use your whisk to scrape the bottom of the pan to break loose anything that might be stuck down there (this is called deglazing, it's where a lot of good flavor comes from). When you've got that done next you wanna whisk in your flour, you just want a little bit, the soup is supposed to be a little on the thin side, whisking in the flour just gives it a little body. After you've got your flour whisked in then you want to add your stock slowly while stirring the pan. Let simmer.
The croûtons are less like croûtons and more like a cubed grilled cheese sandwich using cream cheese and garlic butter ( yes your right I am a genius, and you are right, that is awesome).
Place the croûtons in the bottom of your bowls ( or ramekins or coffee cups or whatever basin type dish that you have) then ladle the soup over them. Next place a slice or two of the cheese over the tops of the bowls. Place the bowls on an UNGREASED cookie sheet then place said cookie sheet under the broiler for 1-2 minuets or until the cheese is all melted and bubbly brown. if you don't have a broiler you can put the bowls in the microwave, sans cookie sheet, the idea is to melt the cheese. Serve hot and enjoy
Monday, July 21, 2008
What is it that makes the donut so compelling? Is it the soft texture, the sweetness, the fresh baked goodness? In a word... yes. Nothing... but, nothing beats the the moment you spend with a freshly made donut. It's warm icing still dripping, its poetry in baked goods. It's amazing what a donut can do, not only to your figure, but to your disposition as well. Sure they may not be the healthiest way to go. But hey, what's more important your pants size or your happiness?
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
This last weekend Yours Truly was honored to "father" a lovely batch of pear, yes, pear cider at Gallagher's U-Brew in downtown Edmonds, WA. This lovely concoction of fruit and yeast is both smooth, and dry with lots of pear flavor and yet it's not overly sweet. I couldn't be happier.
This being my very first time brewing I have to admit that I am still a little oblivious as to how the process works, all I know is I have a shit load of cider and it tastes GOOD!!! Not to worry though, I was under the close supervision of an experienced brew mister, who was more than happy to guide me through the brewing process. This experience, as a whole, was both fun and very, VERY rewarding. I have plans to spend many a weekend brewing at Gallagher's in the future.