Tuesday, September 29, 2009


It's just so crispy, so moist. How can anyone dislike this fried chicken? So I thought last Friday Night after making an 11:00 stop at KFC.

Yes, that's right, KFC, the restaurant that has stores in more than 109 countries, and that is one of the world's most recognizable restaurants. Yet the American icon is also a corporation that's been known for inhumane treatment of its chickens, and has, for the most part, refused to change its ways.

Im almost embarassed to admit how much I enjoyed the succulent, crispy-crunchy thigh that I crammed down my throat on Friday Night, but Anthony Bourdain has a point when he says that chefs are in the pleasure business, and as long as the food tastes good, it doesn't matter if your chicken came from the black market in Djabouti (he didn't exactly say that part) as long as it tastes good.

I can't say necessarily I agree with that, but there are a lot of people who do, and if it's 11:00 on a Friday Night and you're craving some fourthmeal and you can put the ethical issues on the back burner for a few minutes, what's wrong with a crispy thigh with those 11 signature herbs and spices every once in a while?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Roasted Broccoli Snack

This week I roasted broccoli in massive quantities. It's a salty delicious snack that I will definitely gravitate towards (as opposed to say potato chips) if it's already prepared and ready to be eaten. It also makes a great salad when tossed with a lemon vinaigrette, some pine nuts, and some parmesan.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Listen to me on WHYY!

Click listen to this show on the right then skip ahead to 13 minutes

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

School Column

Here is my unrevised article that I hope will make it into the school paper. Should be interesting to see how much of the first paragraph gets edited out.

How can I about food and simultaneously interest the students of Lower Merion? I thought when I first sat down to write this piece. After having my awesome article that was supposed to accompany my cookie recipe last issue scrapped, I had to think of something else. See that was my launching pad, my unpretentious attempt to win the attention of the students so that I could go on to describe more involved cooking. Alas, my accompanying article was blown into oblivion, and all that remained was a lonesome recipe without explanation. But my original question remains, and I think I may have found an answer. What if I told you that you could quite easily make Chipotle’s carnitas, the braised pork that they stuff into the burritos, at home?

Carnitas is my favorite meat at Chipotle. It’s tender, succulent, salty, even slightly crispy, and it has a depth of flavor that neither the steak nor chicken can match. The meat however is not predisposed to be so tasty. To get such satisfying results, carnitas requires slow, moist cooking, yet demands little effort on the part of the cook.

Carnitas comes from pork shoulder, a fatty cut of meat that is relatively tough, due to large amounts of connective tissue. In cooking, you must use some type of liquid so that the connective tissue can be dissolved and the meat pulled apart. My choice moistening agents are coke and orange juice, however even just plain water works fine. The basic process is really simple—the pork is cooked in the liquid with some spices until it is falling apart—and since the Merionite probably won’t let me take up another half page with a recipe, I’ll just describe it right now.

Ok so start out with a whole pork shoulder that you can buy from any supermarket, and cut it into manageable pieces (roughly the size of a tennis ball). Salt the pieces thoroughly, then heat a ½ inch layer of oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven. Sear the meat in the oil, browning it thoroughly on all sides (turn on the fan too, it might get smokey in there). Remove the meat and pour in a can of coke, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. At this point, preheat the oven to 325. Return the pork to the Dutch oven and cover 2/3 of it with coke and orange juice. If you have them, throw in a few cloves of garlic, a cinnamon stick, plenty of chili powder, some ground cumin, some thyme, and a bay leaf. Place the pork in the oven for 3-4 hours, until it is so tender that it is falling apart. Remove the pork from the liquid, and when it’s cool enough to touch, heat a film of oil in a pan over medium-high heat . Shred the pork, then throw it in the pan and just let it cook, don’t touch it, for about three minutes, so that it can get nice and crispy on the bottom. Remove the pork and stuff it in a taco, or burrito, or just a sandwich, you name it! Try it now, thank me later.

Lunch Yesterday

Chicken, broccoli, chorizo, avocado

Monday, September 21, 2009

Library Auction Dinner: Formulating a Menu

So on Saturday I went over to the house of the people I will be cooking for (if you don't know what I'm talking about check here), and talked about the dinner.

Overall there were not many things that they are completely opposed to. The wife cannot take concentrated amounts of sugar, and they are not big fans of anything that slithers down the throat (oysters, sea cucumbers etc.). They also dislike lima beans and any overcooked veggies (like canned).

Thankfully, the likes far outnumber the dislikes. They are not vegetarians (thank goodness) and they enjoy all protein. They have however, been eating a lot of fish lately so they requested less of an emphasis on seafood. They are very into sauces and they like "good basic food with fresh ingredients." They absolutely love mushrooms in any form and enjoy the pairing of sweet and savory (something like figs and bacon).

To Drink:
They believe that whites have their place but generally prefer reds, namely Spanish Varietals.

Not overly sweet (double chocolate anything).

Generally they prefer sturdier breads over white.

So what am I gonna make:
I haven't decided yet but I have a general idea. The couple did not place a lot of restrictions on me so I have a lot of room to work with, which is perfect; I can pretty much cook whatever I want. In terms of bread, they said they generally preferred sturdier types, but I'm really tempted to make Thomas Keller's brioche-- I've made it many times and I'm sure they will love it.

In terms of the main courses, I'm still not sure whether I want to do 4 or 5. Maybe four and an amuse bouche? Dessert will definitely only be one course and if I decide to do 5 I think the fourth might be a cheese course where I would pick a few of my favorite cheeses and put together a composed plate with condiments and all.

I have an idea for a dish that I've wanted to try out for a long time scallops with chorizo sauce and roasted broccoli. They used to make an awesome chorizo sauce at Lacroix that I'm confident I could replicate. Scallops are really nice and meaty and they definitely would go well with a strong sauce like that of chorizo. When roasted, broccoli is no longer a little harmless green vegetable. It becomes more assertive and develops a deeper flavor. I'm thinking that this dish might need some acid, or maybe something else in general. I know I can just finished the sauce with some lemon juice, but I'm not completely sure if I'm satisfied with the dish like that.

That will probably be the second course. To start off I need something really nice and light. Maybe a refreshing soup? Maybe pumpkin, but would a light version of pumpkin soup taste good? What about a pumpkin soup with some sauteed mushrooms on the bottom and a dollop of creme fraiche on top?

Third Course I definitely want to feature duck confit. Duck Confit is just something that I'm 100% confident I can make taste awesome that there's really no reason not to include it. Right now I've got a duck confit risotto with some veggie on my mind, but would I be progressing too fast? Is that too heavy for a third course?

Yea I know I'm running out of courses, but I also wanna fit in pork belly somehow. The pork belly that I made a few weeks ago, was just so astonishingly good, that I can't not give it to someone I'm hoping to please. But what would I pair the pork belly with?

It's gotta be something with apples or pumpkin. I've never really been into making refined dessert plates so I may just do like a pumpkin cheesecake, cut out 2 pieces, garnish them with some fruit puree, then save the rest for myself as a reward for a hard day's work.

All these are questions that I will have to address, and if you would like to offer suggestions or advice please feel welcome to. I will keep yall updated as I refine my ideas.

Pistachio Crumbs

So this is why I've never seen a jar of pistachio butter.

Crispy salmon skin

I'd take salmon skin chips over potato chips any day

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Library Auction Dinner

Every year my local library hold a fundraiser with a dinner and a silent auction. This year I agreed to allow a dinner cooked by me to be one of the auction items.

The fundraiser was held last week, and tomorrow I'm going to visit with and talk with the people for whom I'm cooking. I plan to discuss preferences, allergies etc, so that I can make their meal a pretty personal experience.

I plan on cooking four or five courses, and the food will be high end. This I'm sure, will prove to be an exciting challenge. I will update you on the menu as soon as I formulate it. I hope to use you, the readers, to help me with the process, if you would be so willing.

Top Chef

Yea I know I'm a little late but regarding Top Chef on Wednesday, come on Bravo, I'm getting kinda bored. Let's get down to business. It's time to get rid of Ron, and the red-headed woman who was in the bottom 3 last episode. They really should've just trashed the whole bottom three cause I'm just getting sick of watching them each round. There's only about 5 people who can really cook and they are Jen, the two bros and the two chubby Jewish guys.

Mike, the one with the spiky hair, is basically the kid at school who thinks he's so cool and tries so desperately to hang out with the popular kids, and he almost succeeds, until they realize that he stinks at football. He really thinks hes part of the top crew, but from what I've seen, hes really not.

So alright Bravo. Let's get it down to the bottom five. Maybe cut two people in one episode like you did two weeks ago? Like seriously, why is Ron still here? I mean he seems like a cool dude and all, but come on now. And if you're gonna keep him around at least put up some closed caption when he talks. The talent this season is really concentrated in the top 5 and until it gets down, it won't be as interesting.
End Rant. It's 12:30, goodnight.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

On this blog I often praise stinky cheeses. Garrotxa is subtly flavored, yet delicious nonetheless. It comes quietly, yet lingers on the tongue. It, along with figs from my friend's tree, is the perfect way to end a meal.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Past Week's CSA Shipment

Brown Butter Banana Walnut Bread

I wonder how brown butter will taste when spread on bread as if it were regular butter.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Me in the Guardian?

I was featured in the Guardian! Yes, The Guardian as in the British magazine. Weird huh? Check out the article here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My Lunch Today

The school day is so much better when I have an awesome lunch to look forward to. The extent of my suffering in math class is significantly reduced when I can drift off into dreams of the delicious delicacies awaiting me in my backpack.

This in mind, last night cut off a slice of fat from my pancetta, rendered that down with some chorizo (which I've been eating at practically every meal), removed the fat and the chorizo, then took some meat that I had pulled from a sous vide chicken leg and seared it in the hot fat. I took some red pepper pesto (pesto minus the basil, some call that identity theft, I call it delicious), smeared it on a tortilla, then topped it with the chicken and sausage. And even though the red pepper pesto was made with roasted jalapenos, I had to squirt some sriracha on top just to add a little fun for my tongue.

I nearly forgot I was in class.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Beefy Breakfast

It's the first day of the school year, and our school just adopted this policy that grants each student their own laptop. So right now I'm writing to you from my homeroom. I wanted to talk about my awesome back-to-school-breakfast, a magnificently meaty melange of protein.

I rendered some chorizo in a pan, then pushed that to the side, using the spicy fat to fry an egg. At the same time I cooked some bacon. I threw the meat into a bowl then slid the fried egg on top and poked the yoke, allowing it to run over the meat.

I'm now ready to start my day.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Pay Day

The upper echelon of candy includes Reese's, Snickers, Baby Ruth, and the lesser known

Pay Day.

I gotta figure out how to make this at home.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Braised Pancetta

A few days ago I tweeted "If there is a god, he's eating pork belly right now" and I was completely serious. And that goes for any god. How else did Buddha grow such girth? Even if their religion prohibits the consumption of all porcine products, the gods are sneaking pork belly behind their backs. I'm convinced that if wine is the elixir of the gods, pork belly must be the food. It's really just that good. I would live off of it, if obesity wasn't linked to heart disease and diabetes among others.

Anyway, enough of my ranting. Maybe you remember my bacon post from a while back. In that post I made half of hunk a pork belly into bacon and used the other half for pancetta.

Since I had more than enough belly at the time, I froze the pancetta for later use. Just this past week I defrosted it, and cooked it sous vide at 180 degrees for 12 hours. It came out AMAZING. Seriously, this is probably the greatest thing I have ever created. Not only is it moutherwateringly tender and fatty, it's extremely flavorful and salty from the salt and herbs and spices that I used a while back to turn it into pancetta. The best part of the belly is definitely the fat which carries the flavor of the cure so well. The belly is great cold, but even better when crisped up. The fat renders very nicely and it becomes crispy nice and quick. In fact, I think I'll crisp up some of the fat and put it in a salad right now...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Recent Chat with a friend

Her: when i grow up i wan t to have a huge kitchen with herbs and hams and lavender and copper pots hanging from the ceiling and a stone cellar full of homemade wine and cheese, that would be amazing.

Me: I've decided that even if it means the rest of my house has to be small and I have to sleep in a cupboard, I'm gonna have a huge kitchen in my house. If I have enough money, Ima have a wine cellar with all these expensive vintages, and my basement will smell of curing meats and aging cheeses. ahhh what a thought

Her: haha thats so good, honestly i could just sleep in my cellar if it was like that. actually though, i think it would be totally awesome to have a super fun adventurous life and then when i retired to own a little farm in like, the netherlands and have an enormous garden and horses and cows and goats and chickens and just make cheese and tend my garden till the end of my days. kind of silly. but nonetheless.

Me: Wanna get married?

Didn't actually say the last part, would've been weird.

CSA shipment for this week

Now what to do with it...