Thursday, October 28, 2010

What's in here

Anyone wanna venture a guess as to what's in here?

And ya can't just say doughnuts smarties, I need some specificity.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Pop Tarts

 I was surprised and impressed by how many people guessed correctly from my last post. Kudos!

I've noted on this blog before that I'm a huge fan of anything pumpkin. Pie, soup, muffin, lattes, scones, whoopie pies, even the little pumpkin candy corn that have no pumpkin flavor in them. You name it, I love it.

And so as I was perusing the aisles of Genuardi's the other day, my pumpkin radar started going nuts as I passed the snack aisle. I doubled back and sure enough, there they were: shining like the holy grail of autumn: the pumpkin pie pop tarts. I beamed like a kid on Halloween then flew home like a witch on a broomstick to try em out.

It occurred to me on my way home that they probably were not going to taste anything like pumpkin. They would probably taste like cinnamon and sugar and nothing else. I began to doubt whether they even contained pumpkin.

So I popped em into the toaster and tried them out. They were fine. Just average. Not very good if you're a sucker for pumpkin flavor like me, but I mean, it's a pop tart how bad can it be. Compared to other pop tarts, like the brown-sugar cinnamon flavor and strawberry though, it just can't compare. So if you're going for it because it's a pop tart, you might as well get a better flavor, and if you're going for it because of the pumpkin, you're better off sticking with the muffins.

If you got a great pumpkin recipe. Send that thang over. I'm trying to get my full pumpkin fix before the season's over.

Monday, October 25, 2010

What is this?

Can you guess what this is just by looking at the ingredients?

Prob not. But there's one word hidden in there that  could clue you in.

Answer coming tomorrow night.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Cheesecake is the best. That's my thesis and body and conclusion. Cause that's all there is to say. That's all that should be said. At least that's what I thought until today.

Everytime I take a bite into any cheesecake I leverage my expectations tenfold. I have such high hopes for the pleasure I will receive when the cream cheese, the crust, cream topping hits my taste buds. But sometimes my expectations aren't justified. Sometimes cheesecake is like a tech stock of the 90's. And this particular cheesecake that I ate today was the I kept artificially increasing the value in my head until I actually tried the cake and completely burst my bubble.

Ya see, because cheesecake such potential for success in my mind, my expectations are naturally elevated, and are therefore much more prone to a crash.

So I got this cheesecake from this place in Philly that dubs itself "Best Cheesecake in Philly." It was the worst cheesecake I've had anywhere near Philly. I was so frustrated because I had expected the greatness that's usually a tag-team with cheesecake. The denseness. The richness. The feeling of ultimate indulgence. The knowledge that you are committing sin, and the decision to resign yourself to gluttony.

That was vacant from each of these three pieces of cheesecake--they were light and fluffy and puffy and airy--and I walked away a discouraged and pessimistic man.

Bananas Foster, Peanut Butter, and Pumpkin Cheesecake

Monday, October 18, 2010

Halloween Costume

Anyone interested in some Kudos? I'm giving out Kudos points to whoever gives me the best idea for a food-related Halloween Costume.

So if you're low on your Kudos points and looking to re-up, leave me an idea in the comments and I will kindly bestow them upon you. It's almost like being knighted ;)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cooking Bacon

Frying bacon in the frying pan is a pain in the ass. I remember when I thought that was the only way to do it. It was so hard to get it nice and crispy. It demanded constant attention, and despite my constant care, it would curl up around the edges in defiance of my pampering.

There finally came a time when I realized like any parent must, that bacon in the frying pan is like that preteen who really just wants you to leave it alone. It will be happiest when it's left to do its own thing. It will also be on its best behavior when you do decide to check up on it. Ya see, bacon is just a free spirit that can't stand being controlled. Just let it breathe, let it live a little, and it will pay you dividends.

To truly unleash the free spirit of bacon, lay it on a rack over a foil-covered baking sheet, the place it in the oven.

Then preheat the oven to 350.

When the oven reaches 350 check on your bacon, depending on how fast your oven preheats, you may need another 15 or so minutes (mine needs about 10 extra minutes but my oven is real slow)

Your bacon should be flat and crisp and perfect. Now take away its freedom and DEVOUR IT.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Departure Part 2

I'll miss him because he's the who made cooking cool for me. The spiked hair. The take-no-bs attitude. The tough guy demeanor and appearance. He's shaped my idea of a chef. When I'm trying to decide on, or make a judgement about another chef, I compare them to Jason. He's the reference point, the standard to measure up to.

And he is Lacroix to me. He represents Lacroix and he is what Lacroix represents. It's hard for me to imagine the two entities separately. They're inextricably linked. I feel like he has tamed Lacroix, but at the same time Lacroix has tamed him. It has matured him: ingrained in him a certain responsibility that only being the head chef of a four star restaurant at 25 can. But he gives back to Lacroix what he takes from it. He has given it structure and security. Maybe I'm not the best judge, but when Jason is at Lacroix, I always feel that everything is under control: that nothing will happen to the restaurant. Mistakes will be made but they will be worked out.

In the darkest days of the recession, however misguided, I was never worried. He was at the helm. He's had it under control. Maybe it's a false sense of security, maybe not, but the aura he emits is infinitely valuable in a work environment.

And as valuable as his aura is the sense of importance he gives to his profession. He gives cooking significance. In his kitchen, it isn't a job for slackers, or people who aren't striving for success, or people who thought they'd try cooking cause they thought they wouldn't have to think. It's legitimate, and serious and professional. But he doesn't take it too seriously. There is work time and play time: stress time and chill time.

These qualities combine to make him a leader. A great leader. A born leader. That's how I'd describe him if I only had a few words. That's what I'll miss.

After reading this through I almost feel like I've just written an obituary. Haha. It's kinda weird that I can't get my mind around the fact that he'll still be around here and there. And I'm talking as if Lacroix is going down too. It's not. Accomplished chefs are taking over. I have nothing to worry about. But I still wonder if I'll work for him again. I'll surely be eating his food again.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Departure Part 1

Jason's is leaving Lacroix.

Jason is the head chef at Lacroix at the Rittenhouse Hotel, the restaurant where I work. He has been for a while. He was a sous chef when I started there, (four years ago last week), and as people dropped out--as chefs left to move on to their own things--he remained and moved up. You must understand that since I come in for only 8 hours once a week, change is magnified for me. He has been the only constant at Lacroix. All else is variable. I can't believe he's going.

I remember the first day I started at Lacroix. I had no idea what I was doing. I was shy, helpless. He shook my hand, "You're coming in because want to be a chef? That's awesome." Two weeks later, I saw the other side of the coin. I had been leaving my cutting board out and not cleaning it up when I left the kitchen, simply because I was 13 and completely naive of how the restaurant functioned. He came up to me, "How bout you clean up your cutting board this week. I've been doing it for you every week"--that's the censored version.

Haha! What a slap in the face. I remember another time. I had to mix proportions of 2 expensive chemicals for some gel. I measured the 47 grams of agar and 36 grams of some other chemical, then gave it to him. A bomb exploded in the kitchen.  I had missed the decimal points in between the 4 and  7 and  the 3 and  6.

Another time, a girl I was really into showed up at the restaurant for lunch with her mom. He sent them out a few extra dishes on the house, and when she came back into the kitchen, he told her that I had cooked everything, though of course I hadn't.

He's volatile like that. He's made me cry, laugh and everything in between. But this hardly relates to why I'll miss him...

To Be Continued later this week