Wednesday, December 29


Okay, I admit -- its real name is Hand of Buddha. But c'mon. Look at this thing!

I don't think I'd found a religion around anything that hands that looked like that. Mouth feeder tentacles on the other hand...

And now you see why Kate has dubbed this the Cthulhufruit. So what's in this thing?

For starters, nothing. It's all rind and pith, with no actual flesh. Makes me wonder how the thing carries seeds around. Anyway, I had read elsewhere that the pith isn't as bitter, and you can just slice it right into salads, so let's taste spthhhhhhspspthspt okay, whoever said that is going to hell for being a filthy, dirty liar. Like any other citrus pith, it's a nasty, nasty affair. Maybe the one I have was a little old, but still.

Well, plan B is to candy it. Now, this process starts by boiling it in a bunch of water. After it comes to a boil, let it go for 5 minutes, then taste the water. If it's still bitter as hell, do it again. And again. And again. It took me 5 tries to get this down before I actually just gave up. If or when you get to this point, add as much sugar as there is water. Leave the fruit in there, naturally.

Let that go until it gets to 230 degrees, a.k.a. the thread stage. Cut the heat, and dig out the fruit chunks with a strainer. A small one, like half a tea ball. Set the fruit out on a plate full of sugar for dusting.

Let it come to room temperature, along with the syrup you've inadvertantly made.

For those of you who haven't had candied rind before, it's actually got this neat gummy texture, with the outside sugar crunch. And since you boiled most of the bitter out, it tastes nice and light. The syrup is ideal for squirting on things, or sweetening your tea, or adding to seltzer for a refreshing drink.

See? Don't be afraid to try something out of the grocery store, even if it looks like an eldritch horror.

Sunday, September 26

Monday, August 16

Bacon Bash 2010

Hiyo folks! I'm back, and so is Mr. Baconpants's Bacon Bash! Apparently Vande Rose Farms wasn't around this year, so the man himself reeled in a sponsorship from Sugardale and hosted the Bacon Bash under his own power. What a guy, eh?

Ah, there's a welcome sight. A little further up...




Also in the "no just no" category:

I'm not big on the taste of vodka, but I hate to say it, this is one thing bacon can't improve. In fact, it's downright nasty. Now granted, I tried it in its straight-up form. If you're into bloody maries (which I'm not) it's probably better.

Let's eat! Returning items included pierogies, wings, and deep fried bacon, which I sadly missed. Let's take a look at the new entries.

Bacon wrapped meatball: Why didn't we think of this earlier? I mean, I could do without the maple glaze, but the concept is sound as a pound.
Bacon wrapped breadsticks: Again, why didn't we think of this earlier? Topped with a little parmesan, this was a great little treat. Maybe could use more bacon.
Bacon wrapped tofu: About time! Finally, tofu I can stand.
Bacon shotglass of cheesy bacony mashed potatoes: Heaven in a bite. You know you want some.

Bacon sushi: It's back, and this time it includes that thing you see in the upper right corner of the corner frame. It's got some bacon, scallions, and bound by baconnaise, and put atop a little sushi rice cake and wrapped in seaweed. Nice!
Bacon wrapped jalapeno popper: Really, the fattiness of the bacon cuts the heat of the jalapeno. Fantastic.
Bacon alfredo: I'm dying to take this for a spin. I think the best alfredo I've ever had was salmon, and that gave me the idea to add stuff to alfredo sauce. In this case, shallots and bacon. Very very nice.
BLT slider: You know, anyone can make one of these. So, um, yeah. Still good though.

They're talking about a cookout next year. I'm there!

Sunday, August 1

Snapshot: Chicken and Salad.

Yeah, yeah, I know. I haven't posted in months. I've had all sorts of excuses - bad camera, at school all the damn time, too tired... But I'm out of excuses. So I'm just going to drop you guys a line, open a window into what I do for dinner these days.

Lo! This here's an arugula and watermelon salad with a honey-balsamic vinaigrette. And to the side is chopped sesame and soy-braised chicken on a cracked-wheat crostini.

Snapshot taken. Can't let Diko take all the credit here. Carry on.

Sunday, July 25

Parmesan french toast

Greetings, gentle readers! I’m sorry about the lapse in the almost-back-on-schedule monthly schedule, but things really fell apart here. I’ve got flooding damage in my basement, and Raoul’s running around crazy with his taco shop. But I’d better get back on the ball quickly, or something will collapse by the time the Bacon Tour comes back on August 10.

So at some point, I was flipping past Rachel Ray on the Food Network, and she was doing something with french toast for dinner. "That's interesting," I thought. "Savory french toast. Let me think about this."

So I did. And it wasn't really the toast that was the difficult part, it was creating the rest of the meal around it. But let's start at the beginning. Take some nice crusty bread, slice it thick and on the bias. Soak in custard a la normal, but then smush both sides in grated parmesan cheese before sending it to the frying pan.

Cook like normal.

Well, it looks pretty good and smells pretty good. Tastes pretty good too, but what now? In this case, I decided to go with something I haven't had in a while. So here's a veal chop of some persuasion. Let's start by seasoning it and browning it on both sides.

Oh hey look, it's our best friends, fond and fat! Add some flour to start the roux, then use a little white wine to deglaze.

Add some whole green beans and plate nicely... know what? I'm going to register for white dishes when I get married, so when I put together a nice plate, you can see it.

Friday, May 28

Fish stick sushi

Sushi, in case you didn't know, refers to the rice, not the fish. This is why you can get stuff like egg (tamago.) And if they can stick krab with a k in sushi, well, where do you stop?

Kate and I had a bunch of leftover rice and nothing better to do with it, so this was her idea. She dug up the rice wine vinegar, I made some tartar sauce, and since the process is pretty standard sushi making, I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves.

Nice and crunchy, but very silly.

Thursday, April 22

Bacon Wellington

So after that salmon wellington, we had to do something more... Caes-like.

Come on. You had to see this coming.

Take your hunk of slab bacon and split in half, then fill the middle with chopped dried apples. I stole that from St. Alton who used chopped dried apples in his pork wellington.

Wrap in puff pastry and baste with beaten egg...

...then bake like the pastry calls for.

You're drooling. Admit it.

Pavlov calling!

Serve along with chunky mashed potato. It may be a little dry, so make a little gravy. Start with a roux of bacon grease and flour, then add ham boullion.

As they say on the internet, I'll just leave this here.

Sunday, March 28

Salmon Wellington

Wellington. It's a pretty neat concept. Kinda like pigs in a blanket for people who wouldn't be caught dead eating "pigs in a blanket." So instead of biscuit you get hoity-toity puff pastry, and instead of sausage you get high-end beef tenderloin.

Or anything, really. But what? Beef is classic, and I watched St. Alton do pork tenderloin. A little digging around on ye olde internet suggested salmon. Mmm, I loves me some salmon.

So, you're supposed to add a little something on the inside, right? Well, I found a recipe for creamy cheesy kale that called for two leeks. And since you can't buy two leeks at my local grocery, I had to find something to do with the other two. So they're in the food processor with a stick of softened butter, some salt, and a few shakes of dill, and spun until it looks like this:

Kate swears by this stuff. I have to find more applications for it.

Use a bit of care when wrapping, since salmon doesn't have that nice cylindrical shape to work with. It's also got a sharp edge on the thin side, so be careful. A spot of egg wash will seal the deal, and cause some browning on the top.

This it what looks like in cross section...

...and here it is next to that combination of cream, harvati cheese, leeks, and kale.

Oily and flaky inside, light and flaky outside. Very nice all around.

Must... post... more...!

Wednesday, February 17

S'more cake

Here we go again, another idea taken too far in the name of food. What idea is this? Well, St. Alton did graham crackers, home made marshmallows, and pound cake within a three month span of my wonky memory. Put together with Ina Garden's chocolate buttercream icing and the goofy Wilton heart-shaped fill-in cake pans, and here's another experiment in the making.

In short, I took the pound cake recipe, then adjusted the flour and sugar to match what was in the graham cracker recipe. I maintained the ratio of the flour ingredients and the sugar ingredients, and ended with 13 oz. graham flour, 3 oz. AP flour, 9 1/8 oz. brown sugar, and 6 7/8 oz. molasses. The butter and eggs were the same.

Oh, just as a side note, when it calls for you to grease and flour a pan, use butter. Not nonstick spray. Take a guess why.

I was in for a rude surprise when I filled the first pan and one recipe filled... one pan. A quick whipping together of a second recipe filled the other pan plus 6 cupcakes. So keep in mind that this cake is upwards of 2 pounds of butter right now. Stick all of this in a 350 degree oven. Pull the cupcakes at 30 minutes in, or less. Start testing the actual cakes around 1:45.

Now for the chocolate buttercream. Accent on the butter.

Yeah, that's a few tablespoons into a pound and a half of butter. That's six @#$%ing sticks of butter. Mark this down, because this may be the only time you'll ever see these words in this blog: This may be too much butter.

The heart-shaped cavity is filled with marshmallow. I started with a full recipe, and there's plenty left over. But that's okay. I'll use it.

For example, as little garnishes on the cupcakes.

So... there's also this little issue of the crowns of the cake. You know, the part you have to cut off in order to level the cake. Well, we ate one because it wasn't that big. But the other one, well, it needs another application

On the left: half of the crown laid out as a cutting pattern on top of some of the leftover marshmallow. On the right: the other half frosted with chocolate buttercream. You know what's coming next.

It looks like a giant Oreo, but so, so much better.

Ah. The taste. I knew I was forgetting something.

Well, it does taste like a graham cracker, a little. I think I'll try honey next time because the molasses leads to a heavy texture. The marshmallow, well, if you have ever had home made marshmallows, you're going to have a hard time stomaching store-bought ever again. And the chocolate buttercream. Um. I have a quart of it left over. The recipe says "makes 4 cups," but that's a filthy, dirty, undercutting lie. It makes something more like 7. I'm going to have to figure out something to do with it....

Monday, January 25

Christmas 2009 cookies

Um, whoops. So much for that New Year's resolution. 25 days in, and not only is it broken, but you never heard it.


Okay, so, Christmas cookies. This is usually Kate's department, but since she's in grad school right now, she's a lot busy. So I took over cookie duty this year, and in true Bayani fashion, went completely overboard. Let's survey the damage....

Snickerdoodles: Classic. I love the little crunch that the caramelized cinnamon sugar brings to these cookies.

Dipping sticks: This idea came about after watching St. Alton make zabaglione. Well, it's an Italian custard, so I figured sorry Alton, but we're going with Mighty Mario this time. These are shortbread and gingerbread cookies cut into sticks suitable for dipping into marsala wine and custard. Pretty slick.

Toll house: This is pretty standard stuff too. Take the recipe from the back of a bag of chocolate chips. Then replace the chocolate chips. In this case, with some chopped up cinnamon almonds left over from the last Reniassance Faire, or chopped up pistachios. Double extra boo-yah on each of them.

Tricky business: Meringues are always a bit of a stunt. I found that using a star shaped tip rather than the usual nozzle keeps them from looking like poo. These are cotton candy flavored, somewhat ironic given that meringues are mostly sugar to begin with. And whee, pinwheels. Take a half batch of sugar cookies, half a batch of gingerbread, and render them into sheets. Roll them together into a festive log, and then slice and bake. It's pretty good for presentation, plus, if you're not completely keen on gingerbread, the sugar cookie blunts the taste a little.

Spritz: Kate got me the Cookie Gun a few years ago. It's a joy to play with. I pulled it out a couple of years ago at Tita's, and I was like, "Raoul, you wanna try?" And he was like, "Nah, I'm okay." And then I shot a batch. Then he was like, "Um, can I try?" They don't make this particular model any more, but if you can get your hands on one, it is a lot of fun.

I swiped the tin from the cookies the cleaning company left for my company in the office. It's about 16" across and 8" high. And now it's full of cookie love.

Happy holidays guys. Keep on reading, keep on eating.