Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pressure Cooker

This post marks a couple firsts for me: It's the first time that I will post not one single recipe, but a full course meal as well. It also marks the first time that I have ever completely lost my shit over one of my recipes.

It started a couple weeks ago when I took a request from Vincent Lambert, porn reporter extraordinaire, for a chocolate mousse recipe. Despite my previous attempt at mousse a couple years back resulting in White Chocolate Soup, I decided to go for it, as I am something of a gigantic idiot, and also because I like Vince.

A couple days later, I got an email from Mama Feist telling me that she was bringing me a sofa. In return I offered to have her and her boyfriend over a dinner of General Tao Chicken, her favourite dish. I figured I would do both recipes at the same time, as to kill two birds with one stone. Easy? Not so much.

Dark Chocolate Mousse
(Adapted from Bobby Flay)

  • 5 1/2 oz. of Dark Chocolate
  • 14 oz. of Cold Heavy Cream
  • 3 Egg Whites
  • 1 oz. of Sugar
  • Whipped cream and shaved chocolate for garnish
Looking at the above recipe, I figured it wouldn't be anything too difficult, right? Well, it started out that way. I chopped the chocolate coursely and melted it in a bain marie (which is like a bowl placed in a pot of boiling water. It serves to heat something without burning it using direct heat). Once turning the dark chocolate into liquid pleasure, I set it aside to beat my the heavy cream.

You have to beat it until it stiffens and begins to form soft peaks, and the only way to do it is by placing it over some ice. Unfortunately, I didn't make enough, causing me to run around The Village like a chicken with it's head cut off. While I never found a bag of ice, I did manage to stumble upon my gay uncles (who happen to be getting married this weekend!) who also happen to be chefs. Lucky, huh? Anyway, they told me to put all the utensils in the freezer for about ten minutes, then beat it again hard. After doing so, I found my cream stiffening nicely until I got a whipped consistency.

Then came the eggs...The reason I failed the last time was because of the eggs. You're supposed to beat these while incorporating the sugar until it forms soft peaks as well, and if you don't beat it enough, your mousse won't solidify. After a first attempt where my eggs did little more than turn into high-protein foam, I added a bit of cream of tartar with the sugar, and my eggs became the meringue like substance I was looking for. After that, it was just a matter of folding in the eggs, then the cream with a whisk, then letting it cool in the fridge. I served the mousse in some goblets, topped with whipped cream and shaved chocolate.

It was at this point that Mama Feist, the boyfriend and my family dog Kahlua came through the door. While they sat down on the new couch and discussed whether Angel's David Boreanaz was also in Bones, I got to work making...

General Tao Chicken
  • Cubed Chicken
  • Flour
  • An Egg
  • Soy Sauce
  • Oil
  • A bottle or two of General Tao Chicken Sauce
For the most part, this isn't a very exact recipe. Got cut up the chicken into 1" cubes, then mix it with an egg and some soy sauce. When sufficiently moistened, toss it with the flour then fry it in oil until browned. Once it's fried, cook it in a wok with the oil and General Tao sauce. You can also fry it up with some copped peppers and onions for a little extra zing, then serve it on a bed of rice. Honestly, it's the simplest thing to make, but it tastes SO good.

For the salad, just toast some almond slices, then toss them in a bowl with mixed lettuce, sliced mandarins and some raspberry vinaigrette, then serve with a nice Pinot Grigio. Bon Appétit!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Chicken Pot, Chicken Pot, Chicken Pot Pie!

I'd like to start off this week's post with a round of shout outs. First one goes to Matt the Great! who took the time to send me a beautiful apron, matching chef's hat, and oven mitts and dish towels. The hat's a little doofy, but you gotta admit, it is totally cute. And floppy!
Next one goes to my Dad, who came over during the week with a fuckload of brand new kitchen utensils, saving me from having to use a spoon as a spatula. Thank the good lord for that one, huh? Finally, one last shout out to Sarah Larson, my most favouritest pie-hating Empress of Everything ever.

Alright, now that that's out of the way, Chicken Pot Pie: It's the first savory dish I've made for the site, which I suppose is something of a good thing for my belly. Honestly, I've funneled enough sugar down my throat to supply Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory for a year ever since I started this thing. It also gave me an opportunity to break out Amy Sedaris' wonderfully funny I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence, something I really wish I could do more often than I actually do.
Chicken Pot Pie
(Adapted from Amy Sedaris' I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence)
  • Puff Pastry Sheets (Or failing that, store bought pie crusts)
  • A 4 lb Chicken, pre-cooked
  • A Large Onion
  • A Large Carrot
  • 3 Potatoes
  • 2 Cups of Frozen Peas
  • 1 Cup of Flour
  • 3 Cups of Chicken Stock
  • 1 Stick of Butter (1/2 Cup)
Start off by prepping your veggies: Peel and slice your carrots and your onion, and then cube your potatoes. Boil the carrots in a covered pot for four minutes, then drain them out and set them in a bowl. Brown the onions in some butter, and then throw them in the bowl. Boil your little bitty potato cubes for seven minutes then, you guessed it, also in the veggie bowl!
Once you have those out of the way, slice up the three stalks of celery and toss them in the bowl with your frozen peas.

Alright, now that your veggies are out of the way, it's time to make your cream sauce. In a pot over medium heat, boil the chicken stock with the flour and the butter, whisking until smooth. Feel free to add extra butter and flour as you see fit, for the sake of taste and texture respectively.

Now, assuming you have a pre-cooked chicken, skin the fucker. I'm not really sure how to do this, although after spending half an hour staring at mine, trying to flay off it's skin with my mind à la Dark Willow, I ultimately just got tired and proceeded to tear the damn thing apart with my hands. It lacks finesse, sure, but it's quite effective. Just pull off the skin, then slice the meat off the bone and chop it up into little bitty pieces. There's a good chance that if you enjoy this too much, you will end up becoming a serial murderer (or at the very least, an arsonist).

Now that you have your chicken and your cream sauce, throw them all into the bowl and toss them well, seasoning with salt and pepper. You can add a bit of tabasco sauce if you want a bit of a kick, but I'm a pussy, so I left that out.
Now, line a pie plate with the puff pastry sheet, or if like me you weren't able to find it, the Pillsbury Pie Crust. Bot work equally well, I must say. Once you have it pressed into the plate, scoop in your well tossed pie filling and seal it over with the other half of your choice of pastry. Use a fork to seal over the edges, as well as giving it a little of that ye olde charm. Cut a few slices into the top of the pie, and try to make it look pretty. I prefer my pies to have a simple, rustic look to them, so I just did a simple little pattern with some slices. When that's done, bake the pie at 450 degrees for 35 minutes until brown, then let it cool on either a wire rack, or if you're feeling folksy, let it cool on a window sill while Lassie saves Timmy from the well.

Bon Appétit!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Vegetables? In Cake? EVERYBODY PANIC!

Veggie cakes tend to get a bit of a bad wrap. Considering how often most people actually eat vegetables, wouldn't incorporating greens into all the sugary junk you actually WANT to eat make more sense? And before you even go there, sugar does not count as a veggie. Neither does chocolate. I'm sure you must be crushed.

This week's project is for Pornobobbie, who requested Carrot Cake, because let's face it, who doesn't fucking love Carrot Cake? The answer of course is Hitler. Hitler didn't like Carrot Cake. Or puppies. Or gay porn. What I'm trying to say is, Hitler was a fun-wrecking dickhead and Carrot Cake is delicious.

Carrot Cake

(Adapted/stolen from Stephanie Jaworski at Joy of Baking)

  • 1 Cup of Walnuts
  • 2 1/2 Cups of finely grated Carrots
  • 2 Cups of Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp of Ground Cinnamon
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 1/2 Cups of Sugar
  • 1 Cup of Canola Oil
  • 2 tsp of Vanilla Extract
Start of by preparing the nuts and the carrots. Toast the walnuts by heating the oven to 350 F, then throwing the walnuts in the oven on a cookie sheet for about 7-8 minutes. One thing you should probably know though: apparently, you need to toast these little fuckers BEFORE you chop them up. I, however, bought a bag of pre-chopped walnuts. Because I'm an idiot. Awesome. Anyway, once those are out of the oven, chop them up coarsely.

Now the carrots...God I hated this part. Chop off the ends of the carrots, peel them then grate them into thin little pieces of orange, carrot-ey goodness. You're gonna need about 2 1/2 cups of it, which is roughly the size of three big carrots. You can eyeball it yourself, but to be honest, your cake probably won't blow up into a flaming ball of failure if you're a little under.

Next up, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon in a bowl and set that aside. In another bowl, beat the eggs until frothy, while gradually adding the sugar in bit by bit until thick. Add the oil in afterwards in a steady stream, then add the vanilla.

Once you have your dries and your liquids sufficiently mixed, it's time to combine those fuckers. Once incorporated, fold in both the carrots and the nuts, then pour the whole thing in a greased 10" cake pan. Bake it at 350 F for 40-45 minutes, then cool it on a wire rack. Once it's cooled, it's time to ice it...

Cream Cheese Icing

  • 8 oz. Cream Cheese
  • 1/4 Cup of Butter
  • 2 Cups of Icing Sugar
  • 1 Tsp of Vanilla
This one's a little easier. Just cream together the butter and the cream cheese until smoothe, then add in the icing sugar and vanilla, then beat until thick and ribbon-ey. Afterwards, cut the cake in half horizontally and ice the inside and the top of the cake.

One final word of advice...While licking the beaters is one of those things you simply HAVE to do when baking, you might not want to do this with a handmixer, unless of course you enjoy having your tongue caught and subsequently ripped out by one of these little fuckers.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Key Lime Pie: Fun With Whipped Cream

To be honest with you, I have a bit of a rocky relationship with pie. While there are a lot of pies I'm quite fond of, it seems like the only ones that get any press are the shit ones. I'm looking at you, apple pie. You hear me? You're dead to me, apple pie! You and all your fruit pie brethren! YOU'RE ALL DEAD TO ME! DEAD LIKE LINCOLN!

...Ahem. Sorry, don't know where that came from.

Anyways, the smoother pies have always held a place in my heart. Custards, puddings, shit like that, really. Stupid fruit pies think they're so great...Lemon and lime pies are a favourite, mostly because they have that tangy little kick to them, but they're still topped off with some sweet, fluffy goodness. Anyhoodle, thanks to Rocco Giovanni, I decided to try my hand at a Key Lime Pie this week. The recipe is as follows...

Key Lime Pie
(courtesy Joe's Stone Crab Restaurant)

  • 200 g of Graham Crackers
  • 5 Tb of melted butter
  • 3 Egg Yolks
  • 2 Tsp of lime zest
  • 14-oz of Condensed Milk
  • 2/3 cup of lime juice
  • An entire can of whipped cream
Start off by crushing the graham crackers in a food processor, or just wreck their shit with a rolling pin. You have no idea how much fun this part is to me. Love it. Anyway, once your done with that, stir in the melted butter until it's all sticky, then press it into a pie plate of your choosing. I always have trouble with this part, but who the hell are we kidding, no one cares about the crust anyways. It's all about the filling. Your crust can look like it was beaten to death with the fugly stick, but as long as you've got some rockin' filling, no one cares. Anyway, bake that at 350 degrees (F) for 8 minutes until it's golden brown.

Next, beat together the three egg yolks with the lime zest into a frothy goodness with an electric mixer, or, if you're like me and you're too cheap to buy one and you're too lazy to steal the one your dad never uses, beat it with a whisk until your arm gets tired and your sex life goes down the drain. Afterward, beat in the condensed milk gradually until it becomes thick and delicious, then do the same for the lime juice. Pour the filling into the pie crust and bake it at 350 (again) for ten minutes. When it's done, cool it on a rack, then fridge that bitch.
Once it's completely cool, break out that can of whipped cream and go to town. Put as much or as little on it as you want. Personally, I like to smother it with whipped cream because, let's face it, whipped cream is delicious. Actually, I might have gone just a tiny bit overboard with the whipped cream...
What can I say? I loves me my whipped cream.