Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Making massive amounts of pulled pork for a barbeque while trying to finish history essay/call grandpa cause it's his birthday/ e-mail grandma back/ read a few english articles.

Catch ya soon.

P.S. I've changed up the brine on my Ultimate Pulled Pork. I'm brining the pork in apple cider, liquid smoke, and a few other funky things now. I'm excited to see how it will turn out. I'll let yall know.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Homemade Cottage Cheese

If you thought it requires any special equipment, it doesn't. If you thought it requires any special skill, it doesn't. Making cottage cheese is easy. Too easy. Chefs will always tell you that processes that you would never try at home are actually easy. Like pasta. I tell everyone that homemade pasta is the easiest thing to make. But you really don't know easy until you meet that girl from school, I mean, until you make cottage cheese.

 Bacteria is just so goddamn generous sometimes. Really. Whenever you wanna make cottage cheese, it will shoulder the workload without desire for repayment. And they work frikin fast--my cheese was done in 30 minutes--and don't complain. Such simple creatures are so superior to humans in some ways. Anyway, all the process really entails is heating milk, adding acid, letting cool, straining. Really. I made a mistake however. You are apparently supposed to use skim milk because the curds are more prone to separate. After you make the cheese, then you add heavy cream or half and half to adjust the fat content. I used 1% and my yield seemed small--I got a little over a cup of cheese using a 1/2 gallon of milk--but I wouldn't really know since I've never made it before.
 The product was fresh and clean and refreshing. You ever find that grocery store versions have off tastes?  The homemade version was like a nice ricotta--creamy and light, not thick and gloppy. I'm going to do it again. It's too easy not to.

1) 1/2  gallon skim milk
2) 3 oz lemon juice, white vinegar, or any other type of acid (I used lemon juice and got a nice clean, light lemon flavor)
3) Cheesecloth
4) Thermometer
5) Heavy Cream or Half and Half to adjust consistency

1) Bring Milk to 120 degrees then turn off heat.
2) Add Lemon juice then cover the pan and wait 30 minutes.
--after 30 minutes the milk will have separated into curds and whey. It will look kinda green and gross on top. Don't fret. This is natural.
3) Pour mixture into a colander lined with cheesecloth and drain for five minutes
4) Take the sides of the cheesecloth and squeeze the excess liquid out. Run the cheese under water kneading as you go.
5) Drain the excess water and put cheese in a bowl. Add heavy cream and salt and mix until you reach the desired texture and fat content.
6) Enjoy!

Cottage Cheese

So I made it! It's good. It's fresh. It worked pretty well actually. Now I'm off to work at Lacroix but when I'm back I'll upload the pics and detail the process.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Improve Chicken Breasts by Factor of 5!!!

What's an extremely easy way to substantially improve chicken breasts? 7% salt, 5% sugar. It's simple. Simple math. Get a scale if you don't have one. And try it. Now.

I'm talking about a brine. I feel kinda bad that I haven't discussed this too much; that I haven't yet given the brine the blog space it truly deserves. True, I've mentioned it, but I've never really delved into its mystic powers. But don't get too excited. This post isn't for that. Someday in the near future I will write a comprehensive post about brining in general, my favorite brines, and my favorite foods to apply the brine to. But today's just a lil post on chicken and how to elevate their status in your home kitchen.

Brining is osmosis and diffusion at the same time. I think. Everyone else, as in food scientists who I probably shouldn't be contradicting, just mentions osmosis, but after water leaves the low concentration of water in the meats cells, and flows into the high concentration in the brine, salt, diffuses into the meat, dissolving some of the meat's fibers thus creating more space for water which flows back into the meat,  making it juicier.

But why not bring some more flavor to the party? Bring sugar! He's oh so sweet. And if you want to make it a real banger, why not add some thyme, and lemon and peppercorns (if the water is infused with flavor as it enters the meat, it will bring that with it into the meat), and maybe instead of sugar bring honey--better flavor. Steep everything together (I squirt some lemon juice in and then just throw in the segment that I squeezed in), let cool (or use 1/2 of the weight of the water as ice and cool it down real fast after it has steeped) then put your breasts in for an hour or two. Now that's a party I wanna be invited to ;)

If you're in a rush, just use cool water and dissolve sugar and salt into it. Also 7% means 70 grams of salt for every 1000 grams of water. You can use ml to measure water but grams is more precise. Your chicken will be noticeably moister than if you hadn't used a brine.

Ok, that's all for today.  I'm off to make my cottage cheese.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cottage Cheese

Puke and peaches? my friend asked me today at lunchtime while pointing at my lunch. I tried to think of something clever to say back at him about his peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Nothing came to me, but my mouth kept moving, so I simply said "peanut butter and jelly?" Nice comeback Nick.

I use to hate cottege cheese also. My mom would get it when I was younger in tubs pre-mixed with pineapple. It was nasty. Or it looked nasty. I never ate it myself. The texture was enough. Thick, heavy curds in pale swamp combined to form bleached mud. Gross.

My friend had been talking about my peaches and cottage cheese that I had brought for lunch. I saw where he was coming from--an observer might lose his appetite if he stared at it long enough--but to me it was bliss. Peaches and cream. Sweet and salt. I don't know how I got into it. One day I just tried it. And loved it.

But I don't think every type is worth eating. Eating Lucerne, for instance, is like eating glue; I have absolutely no desire to eat it. Friendship cottage cheese on the other hand, is delicious. I can't stop eating it. Tell your friends. Tell your colleagues. It is the best. Add some berries, or peaches, or pineapple, and there's nothing better. Really nothing. I eat 1%. Unlike after eating Fage, I'm completely satisfied with the lower fat version, I have no desire for full fat. It's that good.

I guess however, it's time for me to stop being lazy and make my own. And make it better (anyone notice I love starting sentences with and? It's like HAHA I'm not in English and I'm free to do what I want). After browsing a few recipes, I see it's incredibly easy. I think I'm going to use this recipe with 1% milk and maybe I'll try using lemon juice instead of acid. I guess the real trick to making this cheese well is using good milk. I don't drink milk myself so I don't know squat. Anyone have any favorite milk brands or maybe a favorite cottage cheese recipe?

My results will be posted by Saturday at the latest.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

College essays

Remember that I mentioned that I was getting to work on my college essays last week? Well they're done ( there's 2) and I need help deciding which essay to use for the common application. E-mail me if you're interested in participating in this poll. Of course I'll have to make sure you aren't trying to steal it or publish it somewhere else, but come on would you really do that anyway?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

College Essay

It's that time of year again. I have a four day weekend (Rosh Hoshana) starting Thursday, and I'm really trying to get my college essay done.

If anyone has any ideas for a good essay topic, I'd love you forever if you e-mailed me left it in the comments :) I'll contact you (if you leave your e-mail) if I decide to use your idea.


Ocean City NJ Boardwalk Fudge

So I'm ending the summer with a post I should've used to begin the summer. It's funny. I'm telling you all where to go to get the best boardwalk fudge when you're not going to get any fudge for another nine months. And why aren't I making my own? The post is a big mess-up in a few respects.

But then again, now that the summer has come to a close and you have (hopefully) been eating astounding amounts of fudge for the past three months, this may be the perfect time for a post like this. Now is when you will be best suited to discuss, dispute and deliberate over my decisions.

Anyone ever been to Ocean City? It's great. I've gone there all throughout my childhood and it has hardly changed--it has the same boring rides, mediocre beaches, and awful food as always, but it's all so endearing. And by awful food, I meant awful real-food--don't try to have a nice sit-down dinner-- but the junk food there is great. Ice cream, funnel cake, fudge, fried oreos, it's all there. 

When I went down with my family, we would always go to the same hotel. It was right off of the boardwalk, and right as you walked on the boardwalk from the hotel was a place called Steele's Fudge. I've always been loyal to Steele's. It was the place we always went to and I had always loved it. We never really tried anything else. It was just the best.

Last weekend I was walking along the Ocean City boardwalk with a few friends. We were talking about food--that's all I talk about--and fudge came up in the conversation. They mentioned that they wanted to go to Fudge Kitchen because that was the best. I disagreed. I claimed that Steele's was better. But then I thought about it, and realized I had nothing to compare it to. I didn't really know if Steele's was the best, I had allowed a bunch of factors other than taste to enter the equation...

So we set up (my mom really set it up) a blind taste test. My mom bought chocolate fudge from six different places on the boardwalk and we brought over the neighbors, who tasted the fudge. The test was completely blind. The fudge was the only isolated variable. They had to be silent when they were eating so as not to alert the other tasters of something. They were not shown the preferences of other tasters (I didn't participate because I don't love chocolate fudge. It's good, but it's good just because it's straight sugar. I try to avoid such things if the reason that I like them is only because they are straight sugar and instead indulge in things whose taste I find appealing in addition to their sweetness.)

The six companies are as pictured. Which is your favorite?

The winner was Shrivers. Overwelmingly. Out of six testers, 5 picked Shrivers as their favorite. Steele's did really poorly, though in my defense, I only eat their vanilla fudge. We used chocolate because chocolate is the classic and we thought it would best exemplify the shops' skills. Next summer I will have to do the same test with vanilla. And I'll do it at the beginning next year ;)