Wednesday, October 24, 2012

fall hard.

the end of the farmer's market is always depressing for me. i have to start relying on grocery stores for my produce again, and the options become more limited. the only thing that saves my mood is cooking with the root vegetables that i stock up on in the final weeks of the market. boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew...whatever, i'm all about them. soups and gratins are my favorite applications for them, so here's a chowder that sort of combines the two.

Roots Of Autumn Chowder

3 large parsnips, peeled and chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
3 medium waxy potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 stalks celery, diced small
1 medium onion, diced small
1 Tbsp curry powder (i used Penzey's Vindaloo, but you can use whatever kind you're partial to)
1 Tbsp dill (dried or fresh)
1/8 teaspoon asafoetida (optional)
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock (homemade, either way. no excuses.)
1 cup heavy cream (or light cream if you prefer)
2 Tbsp butter
olive oil
salt and pepper

firstly, i'd like to mention that you can go ahead and use any combination of root vegetables you'd like for this. turnips, rutabegas, sweet potatoes, even golden beets would probably work just as well in this. in fact, you could even throw in some squash if you were so inclined.

start out with your trusty dutch oven over medium high heat and splash in enough olive oil to cover the bottom, melt the butter, then add your onions and celery. cook them til they're softened and translucent. add the curry powder and asafoetida (if you're using it) and stir just to work it into the oil. dump in the chopped parsnips and carrots (but NOT the potatoes yet) and cook until everything takes on a little bit of brown around the edges.

add the stock and potatoes, season with salt and pepper, raise the heat and boil until the potatoes are tender. remove from heat and stir in the cream and dill. oyster crackers or saltines will go nicely with this.

Monday, October 1, 2012

something to do with tomatillos.

this recipe began it's life as a soup. never one to leave well enough alone, i messed about with it, and the results were pretty awesome, if i do say so myself. the tomatillo base is essentially a salsa verde, and you can definitely use it as such.

Mexican Chicken and Rice

tomatillo base:
2 lbs tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed well and cut in half
1 habanero chili, stem removed OR 1-3 jalapenos, serranos or chili of your preference (this is how you're going to determine the heat level, so choose wisely. i went with the one whole habanero, seeds intact, and it was a good slow burn that builds rather nicely. if you're not really into spicy food, go with the 1 jalapeno, or remove the seeds before adding it to the base.)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons salt
2 Tbsp lime (or lemon) juice
1 bunch cilantro, rinsed well, stems intact
Pinch of sugar

2 lbs frozen, boneless, skinless chicken thighs and/or breasts
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
4 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups white rice (i used jasmine, because it's what i had, but you can use whatever you want. brown rice would probably work just as well.)
1 teaspoon dry oregano (preferably Mexican) or 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped
1 teaspoon dry epazote (you don't *need* this, but i like it. and obviously, use 1 tablespoon of fresh if you can find it.)

start with the tomatillo base. place chili and tomatillos, cut side down, on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil until they just start to blacken in spots. set aside to cool for about 5 minutes, then add them to a blender or food processor with any juices that accumulated and the garlic, salt, lime/lemon juice, cilantro and sugar. blend until there are no large chunks remaining.

preheat oven to 400° and place chicken on a foil-lined sheet. spoon enough of the tomatillo sauce over the chicken to coat, then cover with more foil and bake for 20 minutes, then remove foil, turn over, add a little more sauce and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until juices are clear and the internal temperature reads about 160. set aside to cool, then cut into 1 inch cubes.

heat olive oil in a dutch oven or large heavy pot over medium-high heat. add onions and cook until just starting to brown. add cumin, coriander, and garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

add tomatillo sauce and cook until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. add chicken stock, raise heat and bring to a boil. add rice, chicken, oregano, epazote and salt and pepper to taste and lower heat to medium-low. simmer, partially covered 25-30 minutes, or until rice is cooked.

serve with sour cream and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

easy stuff that will impress your friends.

a few months back i finally learned to like hummus. weird that it took so long, right? the problem was the tahini. i just hate an overpowering sesame flavor. so i came up with this recipe, which i like to think is infinitely better than that stuff you get pre-made at the grocery store.

Fruitcake Ambush Hummus

2 15oz cans garbanzo beans (also known as chickpeas, but you probably know that if you're reading this)
juice and zest of 2 lemons
1/4 cup sunflower butter (this is in place of tahini, but feel free to use that if you like it, or any other nut butter)
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (i also occasionally add an entire head of roasted garlic)
1-3 teaspoons Sriracha, depending on your preference
1 tablespoon smoked Spanish paprika (one of those Penzey's spices i find invaluable)
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)

you will need a food processor for this, or a masher of some sort and a lot of determination.

drain one can of the garbanzos, keep the liquid from the other and add it all to your Cuisinart. pulse it a little to start the beans breaking down. add the garlic, lemon juice and zest. process until smooth. add sunflower butter, Sriracha, paprika and salt. make sure everything is combined well, proceed to making pita chips.

...what? you didn't think i was going to let you eat store-bought pita chips with this, did you?

Ridiculously Simple Pita Chips

8 pitas
3 tablespoons, or thereabouts, cooking oil (i usually use a combination of olive and safflower, and i just drizzle...i'm not much of a measurer with this stuff)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons Penzey's Forward! spice mix (optional, or you can use whatever spice blend you prefer)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)

cut up pitas into whatever size and shape pleases you. drizzle with oil. toss with salt and spices. arrange on two foil or parchment lined baking sheets and bake for about 15 minutes (or until edges just start to get dark brown) at 400°. cool on a rack and enjoy with your awesome hummus and a cold beer.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

happy 100th, Julia.


Julia Child. what's to be said about her that hasn't been said? she's widely regarded as a saint of the culinary world. she's the person who made it okay to try scary new things in the kitchen, and goof them up, then try again 'til it comes out right. she's been an icon in my world for as long as i can remember, as i spent many weekend mornings on the couch with dad watching PBS reruns of The French Chef. i've seen every episode so many times, she feels like family. she also always reminded me of my grandmother, so there's that too.

to honor her birthday recently, i finally tried my hand at homemade mayonnaise. because why buy something in a jar that i can make myself, and better? the whole process sounds a little daunting at first, but it really wasn't that tricky at all. and the sense of accomplishment is nicely disproportionate to the actual product, so try it!

here's Julia's recipe, with some notes from me:



Julia's Homemade Mayo

3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon wine vinegar or lemon juice, more drops as needed (i used lemon because it's what i had, and also because i usually prefer lemon.)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon dry or prepared mustard
1½ to 2¼ cups of olive oil, salad oil or a mixture of each (i made the mistake of using a strongly flavored Spanish virgin olive oil for this. it came out a little bitter. if this happens to you, just add about a teaspoon of sugar and that should balance it out. and make sure your oil is room temperature if you're one of those people that keeps everything in the fridge.)
2 tablespoons boiling water

Start with a large-ish, round bottomed glass or aluminum bowl. Doing this on a hot day will be beneficial, as everything will already be at the right temperature to prevent separating. And don't think you have to do this with a hand whisk. Your electric hand mixer is the way to go. For this quantity, you definitely don't want to try to use a stand mixer, but if you were doing a larger quantity, it might work.

First step: warm the bowl in hot water (if not doing this on a warm day); dry it. Add the egg yolks and beat for 1 to 2 minutes until they are thick and sticky.
Add the vinegar or lemon juice, salt and mustard. Beat for 30 seconds more.

The egg yolks are now ready to receive the oil. While it goes in, drop by drop, you must not stop beating until the sauce has thickened. A speed of 2 strokes per second is fast enough. You can switch hands or switch directions, as long as you beat constantly.

Add the drops of oil with a teaspoon, or rest the lip of the bottle on the edge of the bowl. Keep your eye on the oil rather than on the sauce. Stop pouring and continue beating every 10 seconds or so, to be sure the egg yolks are absorbing the oil.

After 1/3 to 1/2 cup of oil has been incorporated, the sauce will thicken into a very heavy cream and the crisis of potential curdling is over. The beating arm may rest a moment. Then, beat in the remaining oil by 1 to 2 tablespoon dollops, blending it thoroughly after each addition.

When the sauce becomes too thick and stiff, beat in drops of vinegar or lemon juice to thin it out. Then continue with the oil.

Beat the boiling water into the sauce. This is an anti-curdling insurance. Season to taste.

If the sauce is not used immediately, scrape it into a small bowl and cover it tightly so a skin will not form on its surface.


“...operational proof...it's all theory until you see for yourself whether or not something works.”
― Julia Child, My Life in France


happy birthday, Julia (tomorrow). you will always be one of my greatest inspirations.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

stuff and things.

sorry, once again, for the lack of updates. but thanks to Joe for filling the space with his fabulous beer review. farmer's market season is upon us, so there should be lots of updates soon, among announcements of some top-secret projects. there may also be an account of my upcoming Maine vacation, since most of my vacations are nothing if not culinary adventures. so thanks for your patience and continuing interest, and stay tuned!

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Top 5 Most Metal Beers

Hi! I'm not Jackie. Your regular hostess has been temporally subdued in favor of me, Joe. I'm here to bring you the top five most metal beers out there, which is a bit of a different turn for 'Fruitcake Ambush', but one you can surely benefit from. Y'see metal and beer have been going great together for years and once you get them together with Jackie's recipe's your going to be in for a serious treat! Amazingly, when drinking and even once drunk I capitalize most of the words that should be. Another new thing for this blog, apparently. :D So, without further delay, throw the horns up, put the beer back and get ready for a metallic alcoholic overload!












#5 Dragonhead
I'm not a huge fan of the Finnish metal band Ensiferum, but how could I resist a beer that just so happened to share the same name as one of their old releases? ...that's right, I couldn't resist! Therefore, 'Dragonhead' is #5 on the list of most metal beers!

The Orkney brewery beers are brewed in the beautiful Northern isles of Scotland and this dark, intense and fully-flavoured beer is their tribute to the Vikings and their cultural legacy in Orkney. At 1 pt and 0.9 oz in size and with 4.0% alcohol by volume its probably going to please that wannabe Viking within us all as well as the household pet (as you can see in my photo). Dragonhead is a creamy dark brew similar in appearance to Guinness with a bitter chocolate and dark coffee scent to it as well a taste that again reminds of chocolate, coffee and nut with a spicy sort of finish to it. It goes down fast, smoothly and satisfies without a lingering odd taste in my mouth either. Also if your an admirer of stupid Viking stuff the bottle is large and worth displaying on your mantle or whatever.

Although meant to be a tribute to the Vikings I expected the beer to have been a bit more intense on the tongue with a stronger after taste and I think the 4.0% alcohol is slightly low. I mean after all weren't the Vikings a bunch of rowdy drunken motherfuckers?! Right, therefore more alcohol more rape, pillaging rowdiness!

Would I buy it again? Possibly but since it does remind of a less intense Guinness and since I paid $5.00 for a single bottle I'm sure I could find something more worth while. Either way this is a decent brew that would go well with dinner and as far as I'm concerned a fitting tribute to those Scottish Vikings of many moons and beers ago.

---

#4 Brasserie Dieu du Ciel! - Solstice d'hiver
Want me to buy your beer? Just put some cool artwork on it and you've got a bottle sold! Actually, as soon as I spotted this brew, Gris' sophomore release, 'Il Était une Forêt...' came to mind and since both Gris and this beer come from Quebec it seems appropriate enough, although I don't suppose I'll be drinking while listening to their music. Or maybe it's the best thinkable combination imaginable?

Solstice d'hiver is a dark beer with burning red highlights within and pours out with nearly no head. Its taste is both sweet but also slightly bitter, there's a hint of malty caramel with each swig as well as some sort of fruit-ish taste, cherry perhaps. The aroma is distinctively hoppy and alcoholic in character, likewise the aftertaste is quite hoppy too. At 11.5 fl oz and 10.2% alc/vol its a wonderful lip smacking tasty beer or barleywine if you want to be technical about it, which honestly now that I think about it probably don't have much experience with. I really wish I'd bought more than one, but the $4.99 price tag held me back from doing so. I'd really like to see this available in a 4 or 6 pack someday as I could surely make an evening out of this one.

Not much else to say other than this is one to check out, maybe even more so if you have much experience with barleywine's or enjoy listening to depressive black metal while sipping down a good brew.

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#3 Fade to Black
"Life it seems will fade away, Drifting farther everyday, Getting lost within myself, Nothing matters no one else, I have lost the will to live, Simply nothing more to give, There is nothing more for me, Need the end to set me free..." What metalhead hasn't taken these old Metallica lyrics to heart and deep thought at least a few times during their lifetime. I know I have and although its probably just a completely random thing, I'm glad there's a brew that is named after this legendary song.

Fade to Black pours out a jet black shade with barely any head at all, in fact I even thrashed the glass around like a maniac just to create a little with very barely any results. Oddly this stouts aroma seemed a bit lacking too, with just a faint scent of burnt coffee, but perhaps a mild cocoa smell too. The taste follows my nose fairly well too as again there's a typically stouty coffee taste with a little bitterness, but that's what life is like sometimes, bitterness. Interestingly there's also this pepper-ish aftertaste, which really adds a certain zing to the whole thing and makes it a bit unique.

I found this one as a six-pack and the price was reasonable at $8, but would I buy it again? Its hard to say as there are so many good stouts out there, but this creamy peppery coffee one really has something interesting going on with it. Definitely recommended for fans of stouts or for those that just want a brew with a random weird heavy metal connection.

---

#2 Lucifer
All true metalheads love the fallen angel Lucifer, and now that he's got his own brew, simply titled, 'Lucifer' you've got even more reason to worship the unholy one. Lucifer comes corked and caged to hold his divine evil, wisdom and taste carefully inside, but once you've unleashed the malice within and launched your thirst be prepared for something extreme with this one.

Lucifer, curiously doesn't pour out a dark blood red, but rather a hazy yellow-ish shade with a very fluffy white head. The initial smell is very citrus in character as well quite yeasty and alcoholey after a few more inspections. The first swig reveals a very typical Belgian yeast taste, though a few more and I discover a citrus lemon tangerine-ish zest, as well a very carbonated, pale, barely sweet and mostly bitter taste with each turn. Hell, there might even be a fruitcake somewhere in there. Curiously this one seems to taste slightly better as it warms up.

'Lucifer' is not for everyone as its a bit more harsh and the way I see it the dark lords brew should be a tough taste to swallow. However, at least for me this 1 Pt 9.4 fl oz. 8% alc/vol drink is something slightly different for me, but I definitely do enjoy it... but is it metal though? Why, yes it is, simply because Evil and Satan have been inspiring metal since the beginning. "Look into my eyes, you will see who I am, My name is Lucifer, please take my hand..."

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#1 Wake Up Dead Imperial Stout
"Wake up dead, you die! Wake up dead, and buried, Wake up dead, you die, Wake up deeeeeeeeead!"

Oh, excuse me, every once in a while beer makes me break out singing and why not when you've got a stout in your glass that's unintentionally named after one of Megadeth's most legendary songs. Therefore, I sip, drink and chug, 'Wake Up Dead Imperial Stout' for you today as the last and final brew in this top five countdown!

Wake Up Dead pours out a dark brown almost dark burial gravel black color with a minimal amount of head, which is light tan in color and all in all very typically stouty in appearance. The aroma is like the fetid reek of rotting flesh, but, well, no... as its quite hoppy and coffee like on the nose, but I can at least wish for a zombie brew, right? The first swig reveals many different tastes - Burnt coffee, licorice, smoke, woody and a little caramel & toffee-ish zest. As the stout sits I find it becomes a bit more bitter in taste, but still quite good with a strange lingering cherry-ish taste somewhere in there too. All in all, not too bad at all with a semi-creaminess and easy after taste too.

'Wake Up Dead' is 1 Pint and 6 fl. oz in size and 10.2% ABV, which means you'll probably be feeling just fine by the time you finish it off. If truth be told though I did buy this one just because of the name and the artwork, which fucking rules, and in an odd sort of way reminds me of the Inquisition artwork on their latest record, 'Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm.'

Off hand I don't recall what I paid for this stout, but I don't seem to remember it being anymore than $6-$7, which isn't bad, but perhaps due to it not tasting wildly different from other stouts I might not pick it up again. However as always if your looking for a drink that has random weird metal connections, then here you go. Crank some Megadeth and keep longing for that zombie epidemic!

It's Black Friday, paint the devil on the wall!

What! You're not drunk! Well, at least you've just downed five total rockin' metal brews, anyway! I now return all ownership of this blog back to Miss Jackie.

drinking weather is upon us.



despite my love of kitchen experimentation, my history with mixology is decidedly sparse. so imagine my surprise when i managed to put together a damn-near perfect beverage last night. it's been done, certainly not too new or exciting, but here's my tasty version of a bourbon mojito:

The Fruitcake Ambush Bourbon Mojito

2 oz good quality bourbon (i used Black Maple Hill because it's my favorite)
2 oz fresh lime juice
2 oz water (still or sparkling, your choice)
1 spearmint sprig (homegrown, if you've got it)
1 tbsp raw sugar
ice, crushed if you're so inclined, and i am

firstly, if you intend to take your summer drink making seriously, it would behoove you to acquire a muddler. you will need this piece of equipment for some of the best hot weather cocktails, specifically (because it's one of my favorites), the caipirinha.

moving on, take your new muddler, mint, sugar and a Collins glass and start muddlin'. you don't want shreds of mint, so just do this enough to release some of the plant's oils.

add your ice to fill the glass, add your liquids, stir with the iced tea spoon you should all have (i have a southern grandmother), savor, repeat. best enjoyed on a wraparound porch with fragrant night-blooming flowers nearby.

Friday, May 18, 2012

rum files.


my friends, i must find this rum. if anyone in the greater Boston area has seen it, please contact me.

Made from four year aged rum, steeped with genuine spices, and named for the famous quote regarding “Rum, sodomy, and The Lash.” If you’re a typical Bilgemunky.com reader, then you’re already intrigued. Now how about I tell you that The Lash literally discourages mixing their spiced rum with anything save ice or nada – got your attention yet?

The Lash is a class act from the bottle onward. Short and squat with a synthec cork, this rum takes a far more old-world asthetic to its packaging. The cat-o-nine tails logo is present enough to lend the sense of high seas drama, but not so blatant as to make you feel like you should be wearing bondage gear to purchase the stuff. And the rich, deep amber color of the rum inside is not only warmly inviting, but gently swirls with a small amount of sediment left over from the spices.

To the nose, The Lash is spicy indeed. Nutmeg quickly rises to the top, followed shortly by allspice and cinnamon. As the rum sits in the glass and plays with the air, this initial spicy barrage is subdued a bit, and largely replaced with oranges and old pipe tobacco (the warm, friendly sensation walking into an old sea-captain’s study, not the less pleasant sensation of licking an ashtray.)

On tasting, the aforementioned spices quickly regroup, and they’re not exactly gentle. Much akin to drinking mulling spices, they definitely wake up your mouth before leaving a warm, spicy, slightly dry finish. I found that adding a splash of water nicely softened the blow on future sips, and resulted in a much more enjoyable experience.

In all this review, you might note that I’ve yet to mention much about the inherit flavors and smells of the rum itself, and this is no accident. Apart from the spices added, I really couldn’t get a fix on it. It’s clearly present, but in the case of The Lash, the rum is almost more of a spice delivery system than a flavor factor in its own right. This makes for a very unique drinking experience, and not one I’ve previously encountered. When splashed with water, it can be a very enjoyable beverage – especially for those who’ve yet to develop a full appreciation for aged sipping rum. However, I would disagree with The Lash’s creators on one point – this rum absolutely should be mixed. Not with coke, and not as a way of making the rum more palatable, as is the usual for “mixer” rums. But rather, The Lash carries so much flavor in its own right that it would make an incredible ingredient in an artfully crafted cocktail (one local mixologist suggested shaking it up with an egg to create a first rate “Flip”.) In the hands of a truly heroic bartender, The Lash could surely be the key to some legendary concoctions.

But meantime, a splash of water and you’ll do just fine.


(review source)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

messing with Martha's shit.

anyone who knows how i cook knows that i’m not so good at following directions. i have this tendency to think that any recipe i find can be made better. such was the case when i found one of Martha Stewart’s recipes for some onion rolls. they were totally awesome, but i felt like the bread would be better suited to a lemony breakfast roll. and it was.



Ginger Lemon Rolls

ingredients-
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus 4 tablespoons melted
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/3 cup, plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons warm water
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for surface and pin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
zest of 2 lemons, about 2 tablespoons
1/3 cup finely chopped crystalized ginger

start with the yeast, 1 tablespoon of sugar and the water in a small bowl. wait about 5 to 10 minutes, until it’s foamy then mix it up a little and stir it up with the buttermilk and egg. make sure your yeast foams. if it just sits there looking dead, it is. dead yeast=no rise.

dump the flour and salt into your electric mixer bowl (or get all hardcore and do this by hand). pour in your wet stuff and mix. once you have it mostly combined, toss in the butter. mix with your dough hook on medium for about 10 minutes. flour your counter and turn the dough out. knead for about 5 minutes, or until it starts looking smooth. shape it into a ball and put it in a large, buttered bowl. cover with a kitchen towel and set in a warm place for about an hour. if your kitchen is kinda cold or drafty, i recommend setting your oven to the lowest temp for 10 minutes then turning it off and leaving the dough to rise in there.

once your dough is roughly doubled in size, punch it down, dump it back onto your floured work area and roll out into a vague 17x10 inch rectangle. it will probably fight you a little but but just keep rolling until it looks somewhat rectangular.

brush the entire surface with the melted butter, sprinkle with sugar, zest and ginger. roll it all up starting on the long side. pinch the seam to seal. cut into 12 rounds and put them in a buttered 9 inch cake pan like you would for cinnamon rolls. butter tops. i use a springform pan because it makes unmolding them easier, but a standard cake pan will do. cover with plastic wrap and set them to rise for another hour.

preheat oven to 375 degrees. bake rolls until golden brown, about 30 minutes. invert the pan onto a plate immediately and glaze if desired.

…if you do want that glaze, just whisk about a cup of confectioner’s sugar with 2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice until you have a slightly runny consistency. you might have to play around with the liquid amounts a little. drizzle over warm rolls.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

back soon friends.

The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude. -Julia Child

Sunday, March 4, 2012

small business.

several of my friends share my love of culinary exploits. and in lieu of a real blog post, here are some links to those friend's baking businesses:

Jen's Baked Good
Jackie's Sweetest Kill
Laura's Love, Laura Cookies

these lovely ladies are all Boston/MA based, so if you're local, get your sweet tooth on.

Monday, February 20, 2012

gpof.



because sometimes you want to eat something with 40 cloves of garlic in it.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

caffeinated history.

i have few addictions. in fact, only two, those being music and coffee. where this isn't exactly a music blog, we're just gonna talk about the drinkable stuff for now. (if you do want to talk music though, head over to last.fm)

i've been drinking coffee since i was about 12. it started with heavily sugared and milked cups of my dad's morning brew. shortly thereafter i progressed to Dunkin Donuts (Dunkie's, kehd. medium french vanillah regulah. wicked pissah.), which really isn't much of a progression but when you're 13 you don't know any better. in my high school years, i spent a fair amount of time skipping first period at Bickford's drinking their vile, bitter preparation and eating equally terrible, though fondly remembered, greasy fried food.

it wasn't until after high school that i started to understand that coffee could be just as much a culinary experience as anything else. i suppose the revelation was in line with my growing interest in cooking. i realized that DD was swill. that Starbucks was over roasted. that espresso should never be instant.

and then i got really serious. i got this magical coffee maker:



this video is very much like every one of my mornings for the entire life of this machine. i stood there and watched it. it was like watching a tiny thunderstorm being birthed from the heavens. okay, maybe not that dramatic but god i loved that thing. i was very sad when it died and decided not to replace it. i guess the Bodum people felt the same way because they stopped production on them a few years back. after that i moved on to the Bodum french press. the same french press that i currently use and have been using (and against all odds, have not broken) for about 6 years.

so what have i been putting in this workhorse of a kitchen implement, you ask? lots of stuff. but my favorite, the best, the most enlightening coffee i've found comes from Portland, Oregon. from Stumptown Coffee Roasters.


(yes, i save all the description cards from the bags. i'm a nerd.)

everything these guys do makes me happy. simple, unpretentious cafes, perfectly brewed cups, a wide range of varietals all freshly roasted. the offerings rotate, so when you find something you like, either buy a lot of it or don't get too attached because it might be gone when you go back. and don't think you're getting any flavored coffee from these people...you heathen.

you can order online if you can't make it to PDX, or if you're lucky enough to live near one of the very few cafes that carries their beans you can pick it up there. as for the Boston area, Diesel Cafe in Somerville and Thinking Cup downtown carry them. one more option would be a subscription to Craft Coffee, as they regularly include Stumptown in the monthly selections.

and the point of all this? to hopefully inspire at least one of you to seek out well grown, well roasted and well prepared coffee instead of getting your morning jolt from mediocre suppliers. i know it's just easier to go to one of the 12 or so chain coffee shops you likely pass on your way to work, but do yourself a favor, make your morning wake up something to truly enjoy.

Monday, February 6, 2012

things that made me happy this weekend.


Left Hand Brewing Company-Fade To Black Vol 3 Pepper Porter:
"Imagine Robert DeNiro sitting in your darkened parlour near the fire in his Louis Cyphre persona smoking a Tuscan cigar.
This may be the beer with which to save (or lose) your soul. Dried fruit flavors entwined with smoky pepper and licorice embossed on roasty malt sweetness open on your tongue as the slow warmth of chilis creep up on your tongue and throat, finishing in an herbal smoke ring flourish."



Widmer Brothers Brewing-Lemongrass Wheat Limited Release #5 Fall 2011:
"Lemongrass Wheat Ale is brewed with a unique mixture of malts and Muscat grape juice. This brew has a traditional malt backbone, hints of late harvest grape sweetness, and a distinct lemongrass flavor and aroma. Champagne and ale yeasts were used in tandem to produce a sparkling, crisp, yet fruity profile. Alchemy and Crystal hops balance and compliment the citrus, earthy, and spicy notes of the beer."


blood orange carnage. those became sorbet.

not pictured, yet another slow roasted pork shoulder.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

chili.

chili is one of those great American foods that pretty much everyone has their own rendition of. there have been, and will likely always be, grand arguments about what goes in it. should it have ground beef as opposed to cubed? should there be beans? if so, what kind? should the heat level be mild, spicy, atomic? i say there is no "right" way. but this is my way. and just in time for football! if you're into that sort of thing.

Atomic Kitchen Chili

ingredients-
1 lb ground beef
1 lb Italian sausage (you can use hot or sweet for this. Mexican style chorizo works well too.)
1 large yellow onion, medium dice
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 28 oz can of chopped tomatoes, fire roasted if you can get them
1 4 oz can of green chiles (you can omit this if you can't find them, or if you're more industrious you can roast your own. the ones i get from Trader Joe's are Hatch chiles.)
1 bottle beer (use whatever you want, but the less bitter, the better. i actually prefer darker beers for this. chocolate stout works well.)
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 guajillo chiles, rehydrated and minced (or spun through the Cuisinart)
1 tsp chipotle powder OR 1 chipotle in adobo (or more if you want it spicier. this is a modest amount and i usually use more)
3 tbsp chili power of your preference
1 tbsp mexican oregano
1 tbsp smoked paprika (if you don't have this in your kitchen, give up on life now. or go to Penzey's and get some.)
1 tsp cumin
3 tsp salt (this is really to taste, so use less or more as you see fit.)
4 cups beef stock (or any stock, or just water)
1/2 cup pickled jalapenos, and 1/4 of the pickling liquid
1 28 oz can beans (i use red kidney, but use what you like)
2 tbsp masa harina, optional (this is really just to thicken, so you can leave it out if you don't have it)

set the burner to medium-high and heat up a big, heavy pot (like the Le Creuset you should have) and add about 3 tablespoons of oil. dump in your onions and cook until translucent. add the garlic and cook another minute or so. add the ground beef and sausage and start browning. you want to make sure you break up the sausage well or it will make the texture of the overall chili sorta lumpy. at this point, most people would drain the fat off the meat...i don't. do whatever you want, but i feel like it's just an unnecessary, messy step.

add the salt and seasonings and tomato paste, mix well. then the beer, tomatoes, chiles and stock. bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium-low and let it bubble away for a solid 3 hours. stir it every now and again and make sure it's not simmering too hard. you're basically just cooking it until you like the consistency and this will vary from person to person, so you should start checking it around the 2 hour mark. near the end of cooking is when you want to add the pickled jalapenos, beans and masa if you're using them.

and that's it. put a bunch of stuff on it and serve with cold beer.





Tuesday, January 24, 2012

kitchen shit.

so i assume if you're reading this you have some interest in being in the kitchen, and as such probably enjoy a good kitchen gadget from time to time. this website has killer stuff at usually great prices, curated by semi-respectable celebrity chef types. like Martha Stewart, Bobby Flay, Michael Ruhlman (you HAVE to get his wooden spoons...they'll change your life) and Jacques Torres. i'm keeping my fingers crossed for an Alton Brown shop. there's a lot of non-culinary stuff there too, but who cares about that? go sign up. if you buy something i get points for being the referral, so you can consider it doing me a favor if you want. either way, it's totally useful.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

blackened cooking.

to preface this, i would like to say that i am in no way endorsing a vegan lifestyle. i loathe the idea of skinny-jeaned, self-righteous, tofu-eating douchery. however, i am not opposed to challenges in cooking and have been known to experiment with meat and dairy free options for my few confused vegan friends in the past. but then this guy comes along and makes it positively entertaining. and worse...i might actually eat things he makes. so i salute you, Vegan Black Metal Chef, however misguided you may be. because when i have the choice to judge people based on what they eat or what they listen to, metal always wins.



visit his blog.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

cold season. it’s a bitch.

something you should always have in your freezer, and i mean ALWAYS, is home made chicken stock. it’s not hard to make, really. ever go to the grocery store with little motivation to actually make anything for dinner and settle for one of those rotisserie chickens they always have? yeah, me too. frequently. so after you tear off all the meat like a savage with your bare hands, you take all the bones and throw them in a pot with some veggies and herbs and water and three hours later you have liquid gold. if you want specifics on that, email me. for this post is not about making chicken stock. it’s about the magical soup i just made with that chicken stock. because i have a cold. a nasty, black plague bitch of a cold.



Cold Killer Chicken Curry Soup

ingredients-
4 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, sliced
3 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces¹
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
a 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced thin
3 cloves of garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
3 bay leaves
2 tsp curry power²
salt and pepper
meat from 1 roasted chicken, about 2 cups
4 cups home made chicken stock

heat up your dutch oven (or whatever you use to make soup in, you want a large one, at least 4 quarts) and melt the butter over medium heat. toss in the onions and cook them til they’re transparent and slightly browning on the edges. add the garlic, ginger, bay leaves and curry powder. cook about a minute to open up the spices a little. dump in the parsnips and potatoes, stir to coat. add the stock and bring to a boil. reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. adjust salt and pepper as needed.

¹feel free to mess around with the ingredients a little. this could easily be made with any root vegetable.
²a note on curry powder: i used a vindaloo style curry for this, but any kind would work. i pretty much exclusively use Penzey’s spices, so i definitely recommend getting your stash from them.


(originally posted october 2011)

southern heritage.

ah, late summer. the minute peaches show up at the market, i pounce like a rabid animal. i buy them with abandon, and occasionally, with no plans for them. this week was one of those times. so i scanned the fridge…whipping cream (almost expired), buttermilk (almost expired)…

OLD FASHIONED PEACH SHORTCAKE!

so i whipped up some nice little buttermilk biscuits (thanks, Alton Brown) and a boozy peach compote. you’re welcome.


Buttermilk Biscuits (adapted from Alton Brown’s Southern Biscuits)

ingredients-
2 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp cold butter, cut into smallish chunks
1 cup buttermilk, chilled

preheat oven to 400 degrees.

mix all your dry ingredients in a large bowl. toss in butter chunks and start smooshing them with your fingertips. once you’ve broken them all down and the mixture starts looking something like sand, make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk. stir til just combined then turn out onto a floured surface.
this stuff is going to be pretty gooey so make sure you have enough flour down. knead the dough a few times then pat out into a circle, roughly an inch thick.

line a cookie sheet with parchment. cut out your biscuits with whatever you have around. a proper cutter, a soup can with both ends taken off…get creative. i used a small cutter so i would get mini biscuits. place them on the baking sheet so that they just barely touch, or else they won’t rise properly.
bake for 15-20 minutes. they should look like this when they’re done:


Rum Peach Compote

ingredients-
4 large or 5 small yellow peaches, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 stick butter
5 tlsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp rum

in a pot over medium-high heat, melt butter. add brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla and cook til bubbling. carefully add in rum and peaches and continue cooking til slightly thickened.
cool slightly, pour over biscuits, top with homemade whip cream and enjoy!


(originally posted july 2011)

cool things for hot times.

a few days ago i had a bunch of limes lying around. and it was 85°. the only logical action was make something deliciously frozen. thus,


Lime Coconut Gelato (adapted from here)

ingredients-
juice and zest of 3 large (or 4 small) limes
1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup coconut (whatever kind you have lying around)¹
1/2 tsp ground cardamom, optional²
2 cups water

in a saucepan, add the lime juice, zest, coconut, cardamom, sugar, and water. stir and bring to a boil. simmer for 2 to 3 minutes until the sugar dissolves. strain and set aside to cool.

mix the cooled citrus syrup with the heavy cream. refrigerate for at least an hour, better if left overnight.

transfer mix to whatever ice cream maker you have and follow instructions. i have the KitchenAid attachment, which i highly recommend.

¹note about the coconut: you have options here. if you have coconut milk lying around instead of the flaked coconut, feel free to use 1/2 cup of that. this recipe can take quite a bit of experimentation. also, if you’d like to make this vegan, just substitute coconut milk for the heavy cream. just make sure you use the full fat kind, not the light.

²note about the cardamom: if you have whole cardamom, even better. just toss three or so into the pot with everything else.

things you can do with this gelato include eating it straight from whatever you froze it in, sandwiching it between two lemon cookies, or, my favorite application…put two scoops in the blender with a few ice cubes and your favorite rum. i prefer Kracken spiced rum. Enjoy!


(originally posted june 2011)

one of my favorite things: garlic scapes.

if you’re an early season farmer’s market goer in the northeast, there’s a fair chance you’ve seen garlic scapes in the last few years. what are they? basically the immature flower stem of the garlic plant. they taste like a slightly less harsh, greener version of bulb garlic. they look a little daunting to work with-long, curly, with an unopened flower head. but once you start using them you’ll lament the 11 months out of the year that you can’t get them. yes, friends, these unexpectedly delicious gems are pretty much only available for the month of June. and good news for anyone who can’t get to a farmer’s market-they’re popping up in Whole Foods here and there.


my favorite application for these is pesto. good chance it will be yours too.



Garlic Scape Pesto

ingredients-
1 lb garlic scapes, rinsed and dried
1/2 cup nuts (i use pistachios but walnuts and pine nuts work equally well)
1/2-1 cup olive oil
1 cup freshly grated parmesan
salt and pepper
red pepper flakes, optional

cut off the flower head and end of all the scapes. you might want to use scissors for this, it will make your life easier. cut them into roughly 1 inch pieces and toss into your food processor (or blender if you don’t have a processor…or chop it all by hand if you’re really hardcore). pulse them a few times to get them broken down a bit. add the nuts and pulse some more. turn the processor on and slowly start adding the olive oil until you have the consistency you want. add the parmesan, salt, pepper and hot pepper to taste and process another few seconds to mix.

serve this stuff however you want. things i like to use it for: pasta topping, on toast for garlic bread, spread on grilled cheese, as a dip with pita chips…and i’m still finding new things to do with it. let me know if you come up with anything genius!


(originally posted june 2011)

pics from the (re)past.





“Cooking is like love; it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.”
Julia Child

new home.

welcome to the new home of the fruitcake ambush. i'll be transferring over some of the older stuff as i plan to keep the tumblr as a photo-only blog, so apologies for the things you've already seen. and as for the new stuff, get ready to salivate.