March 26, 2013
When it comes to cookies, biscotti seem to be the bastard step-child that doesn't get the attention it should. Well, that's at least how I see things here in the U.S. In the land of the chocolate chip cookie, I don't really see the reliable biscotti making a huge impact. I go to coffee shops on the regular, and I never see anyone eating any of the biscotti being sold there. Maybe I'm wrong and have never paid enough attention to it. Or maybe these little treats are just a little misunderstood.
In my personal experiences, when most people hear a non-English word when talking about a food item, they tend to think that item is "fancy" or somehow special. This couldn't be farther from the truth in the case of biscotti. Don't look at it as some fancy Italian cookie that only Guido's grandma knows how to make. Look at it for what it really is: A big fucking cookie that is baked twice. Once you do that, you have nothing to worry about!
Since I didn't have a base recipe of my own, I searched online and managed to find what seemed like a good base to start with. My philosophy is that when you are working with new recipes or ingredients, start with something simple to test the waters. If it comes out ok, you know it's something you can build off of. If it doesn't work out, it's not a big loss because you didn't go crazy with a lot of expensive ingredients.
1cup Granulated Sugar
3 1/4 cup All Purpose Flour
1TBS Baking Powder
1TBS Vanilla Extract
1 Vanilla Bean, Seeds Only
1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
Fresh Ground Nutmeg
I started by creaming together the butter, sugar, and all the spices. I know, most recipes won't tell you to do this, but I find that doing this ensures an even dispersal of the spices.
When you have a smooth butter and sugar mixture, it's time to add the eggs and dry ingredients. I like to alternate adding the wet and dry ingredients a little at a time. Again, most recipes won't tell you to do this. I like this method because I tend to see less clumps of flour that don't incorporate into the mix.
When your dough is done, it will be a bit drier than what you might be used to seeing when making cookies. Don't worry, it's supposed to be like that.
Now it's time to separate the dough in half and roll them into logs about the length of the tray you are using.
Once they are shaped and on the tray, brush a little melted butter on the top and sides of each biscotti log and sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar. You don't want to be too heavy handed with the cinnamon-sugar, but you do want to know it's there.
I baked them for close to 40 minutes. To be honest, I probably could have gone a little less. I would say to take them out between 30 and 35 minutes and you should be good.
When finished, they are going to be a little larger than when they went in and shouldn't have too much color on them. Remember, they are going to be baked twice, so you don't want a golden brown after the first run.
Now it's time to let these cool down completely before slicing. Since I was an impatient bastard last night, I didn't wait too long before slicing. In doing so, some of the pieces cracked and broke. But I am totally blaming the dough on that part!
Since I have a conventional oven and all the heat is really at the bottom of my oven, I laid the cookies on their side and baked them about 8 or 9 minutes on each side until I got the color I was looking for. If you have a convection oven, just stand them upright and check on them at 10 minutes. They might not be done, but you should get an idea of how much more time they need.
In all honesty, I was happy with how this turned out. The vanilla was the star of the show, but not overpowering of the cinnamon and nutmeg. They were crisp, yet not hard enough to chip a tooth, which can be the downfall of many biscotti. The topping of the cinnamon-sugar was also a nice touch, adding a little something extra to my coffee as I dipped it.
If you are looking for something not too sweet to go with your morning tea or coffee, I think this is a great way to go. Plus, if kept in an air-tight container, these things will last for a while. How long is a while? I don't know! Odds are, you and family will eat these up way before they would start to go bad.
That's it for this one. Hope you enjoyed the ride. Now it's time for a beer. CHEERS!
Flavor has time to define
Patience must be held
March 20, 2013
Glad you could make it back for another post. As you probably guessed by now, this one is about one of the true spectacles on television today. Hell's Kitchen brings you some of the best and worst qualities of "Reality" TV in a mere sixty minutes. For that, the show gets one complimentary slow-clap at the end of this post.
If you have never seen it, what the hell are you waiting for? You get so much drama in one hour! You get to see the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. The games of strategy and back-stabbing manipulation all laid out before your eyes. Plus, you get to dimwits get yelled at and called Donkeys at every turn. It is quite a sight to behold!
Being in the food biz, you almost feel a slight obligation to at least peek at a food related show on network TV. You want to see if they are at least showing something that might resemble what it's like to do what we do. In the case of Hell's Kitchen, I would compare it to the likes of a cheesy horror movie.
For someone outside the biz, seeing Chef Ramsay yell and berate his cooks might be a scary sight. There has always been rumors of mean, tyrannical chefs tormenting everyone who works in the kitchen. The truth is, the reality of it isn't that bad. Yes, there are loud, angry chefs out there. Most cooks will be able to give you at least one story of being yelled at or called out in front of everyone on the line. But, the degree that Ramsay does it is down-right comical. From the obvious cursing and name calling to throwing pots and plates around like a spoiled child, Ramsay does whatever the little devil on his shoulder tells him to do. And the end results are ratings good enough for another season.
Some of you might be wondering why I would take so much pleasure in seeing people take that kind of abuse. Is it because I might be a bit sadistic? Of course I am! Aren't you?
The main reason I enjoy his yelling and screaming is because I know it's what EVERY chef and cook out there wants to do at one point or another. I couldn't begin to tell you some of the scenarios that run through my mind about yelling at the top of my lungs to some dingle-berry in the kitchen about their continual fuck ups! Or insulting my superiors to point of tears for their lack of....EVERYTHING! AAAARRRGGGHHHHH!!!!!
And that right there is the heart of the matter. This isn't a "reality" show for me, it's a fantasy. The reality is that you don't treat people like that. You don't act like a whiny child in front of your brigade or customers. Because if you try and treat someone like that who is making just above minimum wage like, your odds of getting stabbed or having hot oil thrown on you will increase substantially!
With that said, don't let the reality of it stop you from being entertained. Remember, these idiots signed up to be abused on camera. They are all striving for the prize at the end of the road and are willing to take anything Ramsay will throw at them. So save your pity for that poor seal being bludgeoned to death for it's pelt. Instead, saddle up for the ride known as Hell's Kitchen!
Youth is no excuse
Your efforts disappoint me
Make it again, chef!
March 13, 2013
Personally, I totally dig coffee shops. Whether it be a small, mom & pop shop or the Starbucks located across the street from it trying to put the mom & pop shop out of business. Hey, it's a dog-eat-dog world out there. In any case, one of the main reasons I like them so much is that you get to see so many sections of society pass through the doors. Nerds, jocks, doctors, bums and anyone else you can think of has, or will, make their way to the coffee shop.
I was originally planning to do a documentary-like post about your average coffee shop patron, but a blogger friend of mine in the UK said he was doing something similar about his trips to cafe's and bars in the USA. I asked him if he would share a little bit of his work on my blog, and he was more than happy to oblige.
So, from here on out, all the writing is from my buddy Richard. He asked me to find the pictures, but the writing is all his, aside from an editors note or two from me. To enjoy this post the best, read this out loud with a swanky British accent!
Hello there readers of the blog Food And Such Things. My name is Sir Richard Stroker, and my good friend from across the pond has been so kind as to allow me to share some of my findings from my recent tour or cafe's and pubs across the United States. While my experiences were many, I am going to just highlight some of the more interesting characters that I had the opportunity to come across.
(Editors note: I didn't know he was knighted!)
(*Editors Note: I would sooo bang her!)
The first group to address would have to be the man or woman serving the coffee: The Barista
In most of my experiences, the barista was usually kind, courteous, and had the ability to withstand the rudest of blokes getting in their face demanding soy in their drink!
But, in some cases, the barista would lack any shred of humility. They would take on an air or arrogance. Parading behind the counter, giggling and joking with coworkers, all the while showing no care to the customer. There were some moments of disbelief that I almost lost my monocle!
(Editors Note: My man rocks a monocle?!?! That's gangster.)
Alas, not all the blame can be laid upon the barista. There is a sect of Yanks that have branded themselves outcasts, yet usually come from well-to-do families. These cretins are most commonly referred to as Hipsters.
These "Hipsters" are and odd bunch. Many of them try so hard to set themselves apart with a certain look that I find...amusing. They seem to want to look like they pulled their clothes from the rubbish bin, yet are willing to spend vast amounts to do so. Why is this?
I am all for rebelling an unjust cause, but the hipsters don't seem to rebelling against anything other than a sunny day.
My next subject is something that honestly set my weary old heart ablaze. The Coffee Shop Date!
With the invention of internet dating, it was only a matter of seconds before the internet creep would make his presence known. Because of this, women had to find ways to meet potential suitors in a safe, public environment. What better way to do so than over a cup of Earl Grey.
Watching some of these young couples had me reminiscing about my younger years. As young lad, whenever I fancied a shag, I would just make my way to the port. Those boys in the Royal Navy knew how to have a good time!
(Editors Note: What the Fuck??? Why would he put that in there!?!?!)
While my more naughty days have passed, it's time to finish the article. I've saved the worst for last. This group of vile, bottom feeding, sheep shagging wankers disgust me the most. I call them "Laptop Snobs"
These blokes seem to feel that bringing their laptop to a coffee shop somehow makes them a bit more important than the rest of the patrons. They must make a grand entrance to ensure everyone sees them setting up their table and plugging in each technological gadget they have brought with them.
Once plugged in, they are almost dead to the world around them. They cannot hear anything, due to the headphones and music. They dare not look away from the monitor, in fear of missing that crucial update on one of the many social media websites they are addicted to. I say, a man could be running around the shop with his arse on fire, yelling as loud as he can, and these tossers with their laptops would never know it was happening. Unless it interfered with their Wi-Fi connection, that is.
I could taunt these snobs relentlessly, but I don't feel like I need to give them anymore of my energy.
I hope you enjoyed this piece as much as I enjoyed writing it! I would like to thank my new best mate Jason for this chance to share my work. Now, it's off to Ramsbottom Lane to meet up with a dear friend for tea and crumpets.
That was....a very interesting....clever piece. Especially the part about him cruising the port! Damn, Richard and I need to have a long talk.
So, did you like the piece? Want to see more works from this guy? Let me know!
Roasting takes patience
All the senses should be used
Timing is crucial
March 10, 2013
As the name says, this one is all about roasted chickpeas. They are also called garbanzo beans, but I've never cared for that name. In fact, fuck that name! This is a chickpea neighborhood mother fucker! Yo ass better recognize!
Now that I have that food gang bangin' out of the way, lets get down to business. I had heard about roasted chickpeas and thought it would be something good to do for the blog. I love hummus, so I didn't see any reason not to try it.
To make this dish doesn't require a whole lot. Besides chickpeas, all you need is a little EVOO, some spices, and a working oven. That's it!
What you see above is the spice rub I threw together for it. I used salt, pepper, sugar, smoked paprika, and something else I just can't remember! Ugh, my mind has really been all over the place lately.
After that, rinse off the chickpeas well and dry them off with a couple paper towels.
Once dry, toss the chickpeas with a tablespoon or two of EVOO. When they are evenly coated, start to sprinkle in your spices. Do your best to keep the chickpeas moving as you season them, so each on can get an even amount of spices.
At this point, you can place them on a lightly oiled sheet pan and roast at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 to 40 minutes.
When finished, they will be smaller in size and should look something like this:
Let them cool down, then place in a purty bowl, and you are ready to eat!
So, how did it taste? Well...I wasn't impressed. At all. I know some of you might be wondering why I did a post on this in the first place if I didn't like it. Or why I didn't say that in the beginning. First off, I wanted you to read the whole post. Sorry about that. Second, this was something new for me and I wanted to share it with you.
If you have had this before and liked it, good for you! But for me, these were dry little mother fuckers! Yes, I know the intention is to dry them out, but damn! I felt like I needed to drink a full glass of water after eating a single chickpea. Not cool at all.
Something I did wrong was not seasoning them enough. I needed to be a lot more heavy handed in that aspect.
I really wanted to like these things. But, it just wasn't meant to be. Oh well, hummus will have to do for now. :-)
The Life Of Bread
This room is too hot
And the steam is not helping
Shit, I'm being BAKED!
March 4, 2013
Food and music have been very good friends for a long time. Not as long as drugs and music, but pretty close. Over the years, we have been blessed to get great music that has food either in the title itself, the lyrics, or in the name of the band. So, this post, I'm going to explore a few of the gems that I personally like.
It could have been very easy for me to just Google a list of all food related songs, but what fun would that have been? So, I just picked through the music on my computer to bring you the list I have. I did simply remember a few I didn't have, but most are songs I have.
Lets get this playlist started!
Wu-Tang Clan - C.R.E.A.M The name says it all. Really, it does. The song itself doesn't have anything to do food related, but it spells out "cream". Also, it's a hip hop classic.
Led Zeppelin - Custard Pie Yup, a custard pie. I might have to make this for the blog one day.
Warrant - Cherry Pie We've all heard this one. We've all seen the video. I think many a young, white males rubbed one out to this video back in the day.
Def Leopard - Pour Some Sugar On Me You knew this one was coming! In more ways than one if you know what the song is really about! :)
System Of A Down - Sugar and Chop Suey First off, both of these songs fucking rock. And more often than not, I usually say Sugaaaaaaar! You know you just said it like they say it in the song!
Peanut Butter Jelly Time I'm not even sure who did this song, but it gives me an excuse to put this picture up.
Cam'ron - Cookies and Apple Juice This song is a hidden gem. Never made the radio, but should be played every hour. Plus, when you hear a woman rap "Lick my cookie, drink my apple juice", you know it's a good song.
Kelis - Milkshake It's been a long time since I've heard this song. I'm quite happy about that.
2Pac - Pour Out A Little Liquor This is probably my favorite song from him.
The last song I have for you is....special. Before I say it, look at this picture first and see if you can figure it out.
Figured it out? Here's another hint: The guy that did this song says that the Ladies Love him and his name is James.
You guessed it! LL Cool J and his epic song Pink Cookies In A Plastic Bag!
LL Cool J, the sauve, lip-licking, muscle bound negro every woman loves made a little song about pink cookies in a plastic bag getting crushed by buildings. Yeah, sounds weird, huh? Well, in the song he explains that the phrase is a metaphor for sex. So, that would mean the "buildings" are dicks and the "pink cookies in a plastic bag" represents pussy. Wow. I mean.....wow. I've read a good number of books in my life, but never have I come across anything quite as eloquent as Pink Cookies In A Plastic Bag Getting Crushed By Buildings.
To this day, LL has never matched that poetic genius.
The group Red Hot Chili Peppers - They rock.
The group Cream - Clapton rocks. 'Nuff said.
The group Salt & Peppa - If they weren't common spices, they'd get more credibility. :)
The group Peaches & Herb - I laugh whenever I think of this group because of a skit on the show In Living Color. They had a fake group named Cephus & Reesy. And every song they did ended up being 20 minutes long because they would stop and discuss every line they just sang.
Not-so Honorable Mention
Limp Bizkit - They just fuckin' suck.
That's it for this one. Are there songs I missed that should have been up there? Let me know and leave something in the comment section.
Lastly, I'm going to try something for the next month or so. At the end of each post, I'm going to leave you with a food Haiku. It may be serious, it may be ridiculous, but it will be an original from yours truly. Take care and come back soon!
Fire and steel combine
A union passed down through time
The blade is now forged