Tuesday, January 29, 2008


I was lying in bed, eagerly awaiting my nightly slumber, when I realized that my priorities were all mixed up!

You see, I usually put all of my cooking energy into the meat/protein component of the meal and treat the vegetable component as a simple side-dish...usually some sort of stir-fry. No longer!!!!! I have realized the error of my ways and, from now on, am going to spend the majority of my time on the vegetables and cook the protein with a minimum of fuss! Totally radical, I know...

It's amazing what your brain can come up with when you're trying to go to sleep. Of course, I am now totally jacked up and am only starting to comprehend the implications of my revelation. You can be sure that I will be awake for the next few hours poring through my cookbooks in search of new, unexplored terrain...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

100th Post! With Music!!!

Dearest Readers,
For my 100th post (I can't believe it either), I thought I'd do something completely different. I fielded a question from a friend regarding the background music for one of my videos. Although I have a deep relationship with classical music, I LOVE EUROPEAN DANCE MUSIC. Funny thing is, you'll NEVER see me on a dance floor shakin' my booty. I just happen to love this style of music. Rob Mayth, Dan Winter, Cascada, Groove Coverage, Master Blaster, Special D., BassHunter, Sarina Paris, Rocco, Scooter, Erika (any of these 'artists' ringing a bell?)...I love it all. If I'm plugged into my iPod, chances are that I'm listening to EuroDance. Or Paganini #1. How bizarre.

So, for this 100th post extravaganza, I thought I'd link to two of my current faves and share the wealth. Yes, yes, the music of the gods. Wait. What? You disagree? You think that because you've memorized a few Coldplay lyrics that you're suddenly a music expert? Pssssht. Whatever. Go play a Brahms symphony (or four) and THEN come back and talk to me.

The first tune is CHINESE (like me...err, I'm actually TAIWANESE) Here's a YouTube video of the original song, Yu Jian by Sun Yan Zi. Must be from a movie or something...I noticed Takeshi Kaneshiro. I hope I'm not stepping on any toes by embedding the video. Even though the original tune is kinda slow and boring, I thought it important for all of you to hear the original vocals which inspired the remix. At least wait until 0:47 in so you can see Kaneshiro butchering a violin...What a stiff bow arm...noob.

And here is a link to the Steve Twain remix. If you have glow sticks, now would be a good time to break them out. This link sends you to another page. From there, right click, save link as on the newly-opened page's song hyperlink:
Great tune, isn't it? I LOVE remixes...kind of like EuroDance's Theme & Variations. And no, even though I took a year of Mandarin, I'm unable to give you even a cursory translation of the song's lyrics.

This next tune, Let's All Chant by Straight Flush, is from the summer of '07...I have a feeling that a few years from now, it'll come back with a slew of remixes. I'm going to post the original tune and the Rob Mayth (!!!!) remix. Again, the links will open a new page and you have to right click, save link as on the newly-opened page's song hyperlink:
Again, I recommend listening to the original and then the remix.

And if you like these artists, check them out on iTunes. Can I recommend the Manians Freak in da Morning RMX Edit of Barbie Girl? Or the Rob Mayth (!!!!) remix of Barbie Girl? Both quality cuts.

I hope you enjoyed that little musical diversion as much as I did!!!

So what's ahead for TBCC? I guess more baking posts, more fish (ughh, do I really have to?), and I'm going to install a search engine so looking stuff up on my 'blog will be easier. George and I are also looking at maybe doing another food contest...we're still coming up with feasible ideas. Let me know if you've got a good one!!!!

Looking forward to the next 100 posts,

P.S. Just for fun, I thought I'd throw up a link to German Hip-Hop. Pimpin' is hard here in the US and A, but it must be doubly difficult livin' the thug life in Berlin.
(same as before, the links will open a new page...right click, save link as on the newly-opened page's song hyperlink)
Click me...you know this beat, right? der Doktor Dre?
Song #2.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Guest Post: Irvin's Frittata (with video!)

My buddy Irvin and I went on a man-date and saw Cloverfield. It's better than I thought it was going to be. However, if you become nauseous when you view shaky camera work, avoid this movie. Afterwards, we didn't know what to do so, naturally, we went to a bar to talk things over. A few beers later, we started to feel hungry and decided to chef up dinner. Since we were next door to Irvin's apartment, he shouldered the cooking duties.

He decided to make a frittata. Click the link if you're unsure what a frittata is.
Most of the ingredients...not shown, garlic.
Chop, chop chop.
So here's what goes into the frittata:
5 stems of rapini (sliced into 1/2 inch pieces)
5 cloves of garlic (minced)
1/2 an onion (cut into half-moons)
7 brussels sprouts (quartered)
4 small potatoes cut up into rapini sized pieces
A dozen (???don't really remember...we started with 8 then added a few more) eggs
4 oz of cubed pancetta.
a handful of chopped, pitted olives
cheese for grating, whatever you have on hand will be fine.

Here's Irvin explaining the origins of the dish.

Soooo, do I still sound like a complete nut?
Here was my contribution...crack and beat the eggs.
Season well (salt and pepper) as the eggs will be the seasoning for nearly everything else.

Time to start the cooking...
Add a touch of oil to the pan. Saute pancetta, onions and potatoes...cook over low heat until the potatoes are partially cooked through:
No cooking is complete without a beverage by your side...sparkling sake:

Once the onions/potatoes are at the desired state of doneness, toss in the brussels sprouts, garlic and rapini and let that saute for 5 or so minutes. You just wanna pre-cook the veggies because the egg cooks rather quickly.

Add the beaten eggs:
Cook until the eggs are partially set on the bottom...use lowish heat because you don't want the bottom to burn.

Grate the cheese over the top of the frittata
and place into a pre-heated oven. I don't remember what temperature but, if you did it correctly, the bottom and middle of the frittata should already be cooked through. You are just cooking the top 1/3.

Finished frittata:
Irvin checking to see if it was cooked through:
It wasn't so Irvin chucked it back into the oven.

When it is cooked through, give it 10 minutes to rest. Cut into wedges and serve. Irvin likes his with warmed tortillas.
Mmmmm, monch, monch, monch...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Citizen Cake

Citizen Cake. Click the picture for a larger, annotated image. Some macadamia nuts scattered about. Really good dessert. All the flavors melded together perfectly. I wouldn't have minded if the chef had created a more inventive/interesting plating but it all tasted good. Tasted even better with a glass of vin santo!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Tartine Brownies

So, I'm back with another "I'm trying to learn how to bake" post. It's humbling to think that millions of Girls Scouts can chef up a batch of acceptable brownies and I'm pulling out my hair trying to figure out where I went wrong. Damn you, Girl Scouts of America!!! I will infiltrate your ranks and steal your chocolicious secrets!!!!! To be fair, half of the brownies are great. It's just that the center of the batch seems significantly undercooked but I'm getting ahead of myself.

This recipe also admits to yielding a slightly fudgy brownie. I don't like fudgy brownies. In fact, I find brownies pretty tricky. They can be neither too cake-y nor overly fudge-like. It's a fine line.

This recipe is from Tartine.

Obligatory picture of ingredients.

Preheat oven to 350.
Buttered pan, am using an 8x8 so I had to cut the recipe down:
Butter, in grams:
Bittersweet chocolate, in grams. Am sticking with Ocumare:
Melt butter:
Add chocolate, set aside to cool:
Measure out 80 grams of flour:
Sift and set aside:

Sugar, 217 grams:
Add three eggs:
Also add a teaspoon of vanilla extract. I surrounded the bowl with a wet towel...makes whisking easier because there's less slippage.Whisk until "mixture falls in a wide ribbon." I have no idea what this means so I made a video:

Does that seem about right? Clueless here.

Add the melted chocolate/butter:
Fold with a spatula. Cool marbling action:
Add in the flour and fold. At this point, I guess it's brownie batter. Here's a video of what it looked like...George says that I sound like a complete psycho in this video...I can see where he's coming from:

Looks about right, I guess.Scatter with nuts. I used walnuts.Bake until the "top looks slightly cracked and feels soft to the touch, about 25 minutes." I baked mine for 25 minutes and I guess it looked cracked and felt soft.

At first, I thought the brownies were a success because I had a bit from the edge:
They look good, right?
However, I got deeper in and the center was problematic. I've taken a picture and annotated it (click the picture to view a large version):
So where did I go wrong? Not enough time in the oven? I assume that might be it but the edges were cooked so do I leave the brownies in the oven for a longer time and run the risk of overcooking/burning the edges to insure that the middle is cooked? ARGHHAHASETHLSGHL:WETHIL:W#TQ:GHIL:!!!!! Stupid baking.

Time- About 1 hour
Food cost:
Chocolate- $7.00
Butter- $0.50
Eggs- $0.50
Incidentals/Nuts- $1.00
Total- $9.00...servings, unknown.

Sake-Simmered Mackerel (Saba Nitsuke)

Longtime readers (all five of you) might have noticed that I cook very little fish. The reasons are manifold. First of all, fish is expensive. Even the cheapest, on-sale fish inevitably costs more than pork. Second, I hate fishy, off-tasting, old fish and, because my fish selecting skill are poor, I have very little confidence that I will choose a fresh specimen. Third, I have lots of experience cooking pork/chicken etc. They are familiar while fish might as well be from a different planet. However, given the delicious fish preparations I have had at restaurants, I have given the consumption and cookery of piscine species a high priority.

So, I have to start somewhere. I end up going to the Japanese market because they sell lots of sushi-grade fish. Given that sushi is meant to be consumed raw, I figure that my chances of finding pristinely fresh fish are higher there than anywhere else. However, immaculate fish comes with a correspondingly high price tag so I have to shop at the low end. Ah yes. Mackerel. Extremely fatty/oily, especially in the middle of winter. Very fishy tasting. I immediately start to have second thoughts. But, aha! The Japanese cookbook I have with me (yes, I go grocery shopping with cookbooks...) has a technique for cooking mackerel which helps "rid the mackerel of odor." Well, then, that's all need to hear!

Here's how it all went down. Ingredients used:
Cleaning and trimming the mackerel...I've got 1 pound of mackerel pieces:
Handsome looking fish, isn't it? I trimmed off some of the fatty belly meat and a few fins. Rinsed the fish and peeled off some gristly looking stuff.
There's all the fish. Really, a fine looking specimen. Only a slight, pleasant odor. I love the stripes on the back of the fish. Set the fish aside.

Measure out 1.5 cups of sake, 1 cup of mirin and 2/3 cup of dark soy sauce. This is a double recipe.

Finely cut 4 tablespoons of ginger.

At this point, I was optimistic. I figured that the simmering technique and the ginger would eliminate any sort of overly fishy flavor.

Find a pan large enough to easily accommodate the fish fillets. Pour in the sake and bring to a simmer. Lay in the fish, skin side up. Bring the liquid back to a boil. Pour in the mirin and soy sauce. Add the ginger. Bring back up to a boil.
Sprinkle in two pinches of sugar and allow to cook over high heat for 10 minutes. Then you're done!
So, umm, how was it? To be blunt, I found it nearly inedible for a number of reasons. First of all, I hate picking around tiny fish bones when I'm eating. It's annoying. Second, I ain't down with the skin. Finally, it still had a fairly intense fish flavor. Just take a look at the thick layer of fat on the fish:So. What to do. Throwing it away would have been too easy. I decided on picking the bones out, removing the skin and getting rid of the overtly fatty pieces, such as this brown piece of oily fish:Now, I know that some people probably consider this sort of thing a delicacy so if I've offended you, sorry. Here's the carnage.
The palatable pieces:
I poured over the leftover simmering liquid and am hoping that it will overpower the natural fish flavor:
So, as you can see, not everything is sugar and spice at TBCC. There will be failures. However, I'm going to chalk this up as a learning experience and not let it affect my desire to cook fish.

Time- 20 minutes.
Food Cost-
Mackerel- $7.00
Incidentals- $1.00
Total- $8.00 I think I can probably get three meals out of this in its current form. So $2.66 per serving

Katsudon (Pork Cutlet on Rice)


An unequivocal success. Well, except for the price but that can be remedied by better shopping. On my NYC trip, I enjoyed Oyako-don, a dish of rice with a chicken and egg topping. Katsudon is a derivative of that style of dish...keep the rice and egg topping but add a fried pork cutlet. How can you go wrong? Well, lemme tell you...you CAN'T.

To the recipe! I used Japanese Cooking A Simple Art.

Have fresh, hot rice ready and waiting.

A 6 oz. Kurobuta pork cutlet.Score the fat so the cutlet doesn't curl when you fry it. Generously salt and pepper the cutlet. Dredge in flour, egg and bread crumbs. Here's a pretty good webpage to help you through that. I can't remember the French term for the technique, anyone want to jog my memory? I used panko bread crumbs.
Set the cutlet aside while you do the rest of your prep work.

Slice a small, white onion into thin slices. Slice 4 green onions into 1.5 inch lengths.

Combine 2.5 cups of dashi, 7 tablespoons of mirin, 3 tablespoons of light soy sauce, and 3 tablespoons of dark soy sauce.

Beat 6 eggs.
You can simultaneously fry the pork cutlet AND make the sauce, but it's easier to fry the pork cutlet first and then make the egg mixture. The pork is fine if it sits for a few minutes while you cook the egg.

So. Heat up oil to 350 degrees. A candy thermometer will help here. CAREFULLY place the cutlet into the hot oil. It's gonna sizzle.
After a few minutes, maybe two, flip the pork chop.
God damn. Look at that delicious golden brown color. Cook for another two minutes. My cooking timings are somewhat iffy...I overcooked my chop by a little bit. The finished product:Set aside while you make the egg mixture. Feel free to use a wire rack so the underside of the pork doesn't steam and get soggy.

Saute the thinly sliced onion (NOT the green onion) until wilted and slightly transluscent.
Add the green onion and the dashi, mirin, soy mixture and bring to a simmer.
When simmering, pour in the egg. This is where I made an error. Allow the egg mixture to set...and then give it a stir and turn off the heat. I made the mistake of stirring too early so I ended up with something akin to egg drop soup. Oops. I will do better next time. This quantity of egg mixture/dashi is intended for four servings...I made the full quantity because I didn't feel like doing the measurement conversions for one serving.

Time to assemble the dish. Slice up the fried pork chop.
Add rice to a large bowl.Ladle some egg/onion mixture over the rice. Remember to get some of the broth to help season the rice.
Arrange pork cutlet on top.

Time- About 25 minutes total.
Food Cost-
Cutlet- $3.50...kinda expensive, i know, but i will buy cheaper pork next time
Eggs- $1.00
Incidentals- $1.00
So, the cutlet is $3.50, the egg mixture is $2.00/4 servings so $4.00 for my serving.