Strawberry Shortcake


What is a Shortcake? A miserable little pile of secrets. Did you know that as famous as strawberry shortcake is, most people actually don’t know what a shortcake is? I certainly had no fucking clue until recently. Many “shortcake” recipes call for using yellow cake, pound cake, or angel food cake. But none of these are actually authentic shortcake. We’ve all been living in a world of lies.

As it turns out, a shortcake is a kind of crumbly, biscuit-like object that tastes like a cross between a buttermilk biscuit and a cornbread muffin. It tastes nothing like a cake. You might even say that the cake is a lie. The shortcake tastes even less like a cake than banana bread, and banana bread, well, it calls itself a bread! Jesus fucking Christ on a stick.

But enough of this rant. You might be thinking that every food blogger and their mother has probably done a strawberry shortcake blog. What do I have left to offer you? Merely a small, humble twist to the classic strawberry shortcake. Involving bananas and honey. Read on!

Ingredients

Were you looking for an ingredient spread? Please fill out form 56-b and my lawyers will be in contact with you within 3-7 business days.

Total Time: ~35 minutes
Yields 5-6 shortcakes; recipe can be multiplied as needed.

Macerated strawberries:
3/4 lb fresh strawberries, cleaned and thinly sliced
3-9 tbsp white granulated sugar, depending on berry sweetness

Whipped cream:
1 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp white granulated sugar*
3-4 drops vanilla extract

Shortcake:
1 + 3/8 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp honey**
1/2 medium banana, mashed***
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup whipping cream

You will also need: 1 muffin mold

*Do not attempt to use honey in whipped cream. The flavor of honey will completely overpower anything else you put into the cream.
**You can also use sugar if you do not have honey here. The honey merely adds an extra something in flavor.
***1/2 medium banana per 1.25 cups of flour, do NOT add any more than this unless you want some kind of bastardized banana bread.

Construction

Begin with the fruit. Get rid of the green leaves on the berries and lop off the tops if need be. Thinly slice the berries. If you have some particularly large berries, you should cut them in half across the width before slicing. Taste the berries for sweetness, then add anywhere from 3 to 9 tablespoons of sugar depending on how sweet your berries are. Toss the berries and refrigerate for now.

Have you noticed your girlfriend never asks you if you think she looks fat while holding a strawberry shortcake, or maybe a large pot roast?

Obtain two containers. In one container, mash half a banana with a spoon until it is a pulpy mess. It may be helpful to first cut up the banana into smaller pieces.

Alternatively, feed banana to a baby, then shake baby violently until the banana is vomited back up, ready for use. Be prepared to run from the law.

In the second container, measure out flour and add all the wet and dry shortcake ingredients together. Add the mashed bananas and then mix just enough to combine. Do not over-mix! The less you mix, the better your shortcake will turn out.

A land of milk and honey isn't actually ideal since there's no way to get your dietary fiber. You'll be constipated all the time.

Pre-heat your oven to 350F (175C). Butter your muffin mold and divide the dough evenly between 5-6 molds. The dough will be sticky, but do not worry too much if your batter is not beautifully even.

Is it dough or is it batter? I dough not know either, but it doesn't really batter.

Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Most shortcake recipes give a baking time of 18-20 minutes, but the added moisture in the banana lengthens the baking time.

They look a bit like pufferfish that smell nice and won't kill you with a neurotoxin when you eat them.

Leave your finished cakes to rest for at least five minutes. Meanwhile. you can whisk your cream. I highly recommend using an electric mixer (which is ironic, since I whisked mine by hand. Whip the cream until it is nice and thick before adding sugar and vanilla extract.

Just beat it, beat it, beat it, beat it. No one wants to be defeated by a bowl of whipped cream.

When you are ready to serve, cut each shortcake in half. Place the bottom part on a plate. Heap a generous mound of macerated strawberries on top, then a dollop of whipped cream. Top with the second part of the shortcake. Do not be afraid to let it all overflow! The shortcake is not meant to be eaten as a neat sandwich.

Alternate serving method: take a clean transparent glass and wipe down the insides for moisture. Cut your shortcake into bite-sized pieces. Place one layer of shortcake on the bottom of the glass. Then a layer of cream, a layer of strawberries, another layer of shortcake, another layer of cream, and top off with a final layer of strawberries. Garnish with a mint sprig and serve.

The Result

Sucking a baby's cranial fluid through a straw.

I dub it the "strawberry-banana shortmuffin-biscuit conglomeration". Rolls right off the tongue.

4.5 / 5 I won’t lie. I personally still think yellow cake or pound cake or some type of cake fits the dessert better than shortcake. The texture of shortcake just clashes with strawberries and cream. But if you want strawberry shortcake, REAL strawberry shortcake, that’s what this is (plus an extra hint of honey/banana aroma from the shortcake).

Conclusion

Anyhow. This is the end of yet another blog entry, and this one took far, far less time to assemble than the three-day monstrosity that was the previous entry. Strawberry shortcake is a very fast dessert that you can whip up very quickly. If you are very, very lazy, you can even directly substitute store-bought buttermilk biscuits for the shortcake. Top with cool whip and sliced strawberries for a two-minute dessert. Until the next entry, cheers!

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Summer Pudding II, Part B: Summer Pudding


Previously on Food in Mind: a bold trap was laid for billions of dry yeast cells in hibernation, a feast of flour and honey. They took the bait: eating, shitting, and reproducing in a cesspool orgy of activity. Suddenly they were swept up in a massive goop of flour and water, only to be tossed into a fiery oven where every single yeast cell suffered the terrible, terrible fate of being cooked alive mere hours after being awoken from their slumber.

Oh yeah, some challah bread was made too. Do not fret! Those yeast cells did not die in vain. We will honor their sacrifice by using the bread (laden with their tiny cooked bodies) to make a refreshing summer dessert known in the British isles as Summer Berry Pudding.

This pudding is traditionally made with raspberries, strawberries, and red and black currants. Unfortunately, red and black currants are not readily available where I live, and raspberries and strawberries are not yet on sale. This blog is devoted to a variation on summer pudding, preserving the essence of the idea while using seasonal fruits that are on sale.

Again, please read through the entire recipe to make sure that you have all the ingredients and equipment necessary to create the pudding. Some Macguyver action may be required on your part in order to make the pudding happen.

NOTE: the pictures for this blog are taken from two separate iterations of the dessert. I used the same process but with different vessels.

Ingredients

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the British invented puddings to compensate for the fact that their bad teeth could not handle real food.

Total time: 30 minutes prep + 5-12 hours of waiting

1 loaf slightly staled white bread (brioche/challah is a good choice)
1 cup diced fresh mangoes
1 cup diced fresh pineapples
1 cup diced fresh supremed* navel oranges**
1/4 cup castor’s or baker’s sugar***
1/4 cup water****

*To “supreme” a citrus fruit is a method of cutting out certain sections of the fruit. More detailed instructions will be included below.
**These fruits are what I used because I felt they pair well together. Feel free to substitute whatever you have on hand. Ripe peaches can stand in for mangoes, or you may wish to use an assortment of melons instead. If any of the fruits turn out to be not quite ripe, macerate them in a tablespoon or two of sugar beforehand. Also I will include fruit suggestions for making a budget pudding below. Substitute and swap fruits as you see fit.
***This is also known as superfine sugar. Its fineness is between that of granulated sugar and superfine x10 sugar (aka powdered sugar). It is a bit more pricey than granulated sugar, so feel free to use granulated sugar if you do not feel inclined to do some extra shopping.
****An “adult” version of this pudding is possible if you replace the water with some type of spirit, such as a brandy or a white wine. Yet another alternative is to skip the water and sugar altogether, and reduce some type of canned fruit juice (I personally tried guava nectar in one of the puddings for an added “tropical” kick) down to about 1/3 of a cup).

Budget/lazy alternative for fruits:

Canned peaches
Canned pineapple (preferably diced)
Canned mandarin oranges

I recommend buying “pure” forms of these canned fruits as opposed to a medley such as a fruit salad. Furthermore, it is better to buy canned fruits as preserved in juices rather than syrup if at all possible. Certain fruits such as mandarin oranges may only be found preserved in syrup. If that is the case, choose to purchase fruit that is preserved in the lightest syrup possible. Separate the juices from the fruit before proceeding, but keep both the juice and the fruit.

Assembly

There is very little cooking involved for this recipe but a fair amount of preparation. First you will want to peel and dice your fruits. I do not have any photographs of how to peel and dice pineapples and mangoes. I assume you know how to dissemble these fruits. In any case, here is a quick run-down:

For mangoes, you may find it useful to not peel the fruit at all, but cut slabs of flesh from the fruit (two large slabs from each side of the mango and two thin strips from the narrow sides of the pit). Then, using your knife, slice horizontally and vertically through these slabs (being careful not to cut through the skin!) to cube the mango to the desired size, much like how you would for an avocado. Finally, use a spoon to scrape the cubes of mango into a bowl.

For pineapples, there is a fast way and a slower way to peel the fruit. Both ways begin with using a knife to cut off both the top and bottom ends of the fruit, giving you to flat ends to rest the fruit on. Then, cut away the skin from top to bottom using your knife whilst following the contour of the fruit. For the fast way, cut deep enough to peel away both the skin and the “eyes” on the sides of the fruit. For the slow way, cut only deep enough to get rid of the skin, but keep the eyes. Then, use your knife to make “v” shape cuts to get rid of the eyes two or three at a time, following the spiral pattern that the eyes make. You will end up with a peeled pineapple with a spiral groove pattern all around the fruit.

Checkpoint! Your ADD timer has been reset by this picture.

Finally, supreme your oranges. To “supreme” a citrus fruit is to cut out all the juicy sections of the fruit, leaving the rind and the membranes behind. Simply take a citrus fruit and cut off both the top and the bottom, making sure to cut deeply enough to reveal a cross section of the fruit itself. Then, resting the fruit on the cutting board, cut away the rind while following the contour of the fruit. Again, you should cut deep enough to reveal the flesh of the fruit itself. The last step is to take the skinned fruit in your hand and make v-shaped cuts in between the membranes to dislodge only the juicy sections of the fruit. You may wish to cut these sections into halves or thirds so they conform to the sizes of the other diced fruits.

This is a picture of sucrose crystals melting in dihydrogen monoxide.

Now we are ready to cook! Measure out and dump both sugar and water/wine into a pot or pan large enough to hold all of your fruits. Cook over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add all of the fruit, and cook for about 3-5 minutes just to warm the fruit a bit. Do not overcook your fruits! You want to preserve the fresh fruit flavors.

If you are using canned fruits: pour all of the juices from the cans into a pot/pan large enough to accommodate all of your fruits and reduce through boiling to approximately half a cup. Taste the juice. If it is too tart, add one or two tablespoons of additional sugar. Then place all of the fruit into this mix, cook for 3-5 minutes, and proceed as normal.

A great opportunity to trade your scurvy for diabetes

…And that concludes the cooking portion for this blog! Separate the fruit from the juices. Set both aside. Now comes the tricky part.

You will need to find and prepare a vessel for your pudding. This vessel should be deep enough to hold the fruit and the shell of bread that will encapsulate your fruit. You will also need some kind of lid or flat object that will cover the entirety of the pudding, yet fit snugly inside the vessel in a way that you can place a weight on top of the lid to press down on your finished pudding. My solution was to measure and cut out a cardboard shape that fits the size required, then cover this cardboard shape with aluminum foil.

Cover the inside of your pudding vessel with plastic wrap. This will make turning the pudding onto a plate easy. Slice your loaf of bread into approximately 1/2 inch thick slices. Cut the crusts off, leaving only the white centers. Dip the bread pieces into the fruit juice for a few seconds to soak, then strategically layer them inside your vessel to create a bowl shape. Place most of your fruit (leaving half a cup or so) into the shell to fill it.

What to do with the crusts? Well, you can eat them, or possibly dry and toast them to make semi-sweet bread crumbs for coating fried dessert items.

Fully cover the fruit with your final layer of bread. You should still have about half a cup of fruit left, and possibly a bit of juice left. Set these aside for now. Cover the pudding with your lid contraption, then place some kind of weight on top of the entire pudding, such as canned food, a gallon of milk, or jars filled with water. Place the entire contraption into the refrigerator to chill for at least 5-6 hours (overnight preferred).

boobies

An aluminum eclipse to blot out the pudding. Merlin would be impressed with my wizardry.

When you are reading to serve the pudding, take it out of the refrigerator. Remove the lid to uncover the pudding. Place a plate face-down on top of your pudding vessel and flip your pudding over on top of the plate. The plastic wrap should make removing the pudding from the vessel easy. Peel off the plastic pudding, and top the pudding with the rest of your fruit/juice. The reserve juice is also great for shoring up any bits of bread that are not yet fully drenched.

Serve cold, possibly with whipped cream, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or a glass of wine.

The Result

I know this looks like Pac-Man lying on his side vomiting fruit, but it does taste good. HAVE FAITH.

4.7 / 5 It has been an epic saga, a strange tale of the marriage of bread to fresh fruit. Usually fruit is eaten with bread in the form of preserves; we most often imagine these foods as breakfast or snack items, not desserts. Even then, the sharp tartness of the fruit is often dulled by the application of some type of dairy or creme product so that it does not taste so harsh against the mildness of the bread. But when the bread itself is drenched in fruit juice, it is transformed into something tart and juicy itself, becoming a fitting partner for the refreshing flavor of fresh fruit.

Conclusion

It is now 5 AM and I’m finally almost done writing up the second part of the Summer Pudding blogs! I must admit that I am personally not a big fan of soggy foods. The very reason why I attempted this dessert at all was because I was intrigued by the idea of how bread drenched in fruit juice (of all things) could possibly taste good, and I have a bit of a fetish for trying foods that do not seem appealing at first sight. I am glad I tried summer pudding. This dessert is definitely a keeper in any cook’s repertoire, being flexible enough to accommodate a variety of fruits. If the prospect of baking your own bread to make the pudding is too daunting, you should at least try to make the pudding with store-bought bread. You’ll be glad you did (probably).

Summer Pudding II, Part A: Challah Bread


Author’s Note: Summer Pudding I hasn’t been written yet. Don’t bother looking for it. Summer Pudding II starts below 🙂
Hello ladies and gentlemen! After slaving away the past three days, I am proud to present to you a twist on the classic British summer dessert, the Summer Berry Pudding. Unfortunately, the whole unabridged process involves baking a loaf of bread then assembling the dessert. Because of this length, I am splitting the entire dessert into two blogs. This is part one, on how to make Challah bread. The blog following this one will detail pudding assembly.

Many of you non-British gentle readers may be wondering, what is summer pudding? Well, it is kind of like a fruit pie, except instead of a baked flaky crust you have a soft, juice-drenched bread shell, and instead of a bubbly stewed fruit center you have an assortment of fruit that has been only lightly cooked to bring out its juices. A light, refreshing dessert.

Many of you readers may also be wondering, “my god, three fucking days for a dessert?!?” The thing is I actually made this dessert twice over the period of time with a few overlapping ingredients. I used my own fresh-baked challah bread and an assortment of tropical fruits as opposed to the traditional berry mixture. If you really wanted to make this dessert the way I did it should only take you parts of two days, and if you are lazy you can create this dessert using pre-bought bread (I recommend challah or brioche) with about only 30 minutes’ worth of work.

So without further adieu, how to bake challah bread. To be fully honest, it is a lot of work (to do it the proper way), so unless you absolutely love cooking I recommend you seek shortcuts as I recommend them. Finally, please read through the entire recipe before you begin in the event there is something required that you do not have on hand.

Ingredients

Scarlett Johansen and Jessica Alba together, in bed.

Silly Westerners, eating bread when cooking rice is so much easier.

Prep Time ~5-10 hours

Adapted from Here

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour + 1/2 cup reserved for sprinkling
1/4 cup honey OR white granulated sugar
2 eggs + 1 egg for eggwash
1/4 cup vegetable oil
7/8 cups warm water*
1 tsp yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar**

*Water should be warm but not hot, between 110-118F (43-47C) to allow yeast to flourish.
**Only if not using a poolish

Baking

There are two ways to start the bread: either by proofing (fast) or by using a poolish (slow). I used the poolish method, but either is fine.

For proofing: in a plastic container, measure out 7/8 cups of warm water. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of yeast. Lightly cover with a lid and wait for 5-10 minutes until there is a beige foam floating above the water. If this foam is not there, dump out the water and start over: either the water is too hot and killed the yeast, or your yeast has expired. Only proceed once you have seen the foam.

For poolish: 5-7 hours (or the night before) baking, place 1/2 cup of warm water, 1/2 cups of flour, and 1/2 teaspoons of yeast into a plastic container, mix and cover lightly. Leave in a warm place until bubbles are seen and a slightly fermented aroma rises.

Nipples

Resist the urge to rub this all over your nipples, you'll need this poolish later.

Regardless of which method you use to activate the yeast, step two is to join the yeast/water mixture with all of the listed ingredients that have not been added yet. You may need a larger bowl for this step. Mix everything (remember to use only two eggs, the last egg is for egg wash) until you have a coherent mass.

Challah is a Jewish bread and all but it goes damn well with bacon.

Dump this coherent mass onto a lightly floured works surface. Knead your dough until you have a smooth coherent mass, about 8-15 minutes (People usually say 8-10 minutes, but I’ve never been able to do it in 8). The dough might be a bit sticky due to the honey. Continuously flour your hands if the dough becomes too sticky, but try not to add too much flour since that will negatively impact the resulting bread.

Your mother's wild younger years.

Dough. Rhymes with tough, cough, though, through, and trough. Isn't the English language so wonderfully intuitive?

Lightly oil the surface of a large pot. Place the dough into the pot and roll around to cover. Put a lid on the pot and let sit in a warm place (an oven that has been turned on for a while at 150F then turned off is a good place) to rise for 45 minutes.

After one hour, take the dough out. Gently press some of the air out of the dough, then return it to the oven for another 45 minutes of rising.

Looks like that dough really let itself go. As if it's American and McDonald's just opened next door.

Now take the pot out of the oven. You will need a relatively large work surface to work the bread into shape. Lightly flour your work surface. Take the dough out and divide it into six even pieces.

Tw- tw- tw- TWINS?!?

Try to make sure the pieces are exactly even, or one of the pieces might think you favor the other more and hate you forever when it grows up.

Roll each piece out to about 18-20 inches. Do not over-flour at this point, as it will make the rolling difficult. Braid the strands together to form your loaf. I would give instructions on how to do it, but it is rather difficult to describe. Instead, it is much better to look up how to do it in a Youtube video, such as this one:

Here are some additional photos of my own braiding in progress:

Once braided, transfer your loaf onto a lightly floured baking sheet. Let it sit for 30 minutes to rise for the third and last time.

Pre-heat your oven to 375F (190C). Beat an egg. Using either a brush or a paper towel, brush your loaf with the beaten egg two times. Bake the loaf for about 30-35 minutes (but start checking at 25 minutes) depending on your oven.

The Result

The Mona Lisa, naked.

Challahkazam! Super effective against ghost-types.

 4.5 / 5  If you’ve never tasted fresh-baked bread warm from the oven, you are missing out on one of the great food pleasures in life. To be honest, the only reason why I recommend using 3.5 cups of flour to shape the loaf is because you will need that much bread to make the pudding in the next blog. Otherwise, I recommend shaving down to 3 cup flour loaves or less. This is because with large loaves there is a delicate balance between cooking the bread through fully and not over-baking the eggwash exterior. As you can tell, the exterior of my bread is already near the limit of what is acceptable without tasting burnt.

Conclusion

This is the end of part one of a two-part blog series on how to make summer pudding. If you are not interested in summer pudding this loaf is perfectly good for consumption as is. Optionally, if you only wish to make Challah without making the pudding, you can opt to sprinkle sesame seeds or poppy seeds onto the bread prior to baking, and incorporate raisins into the dough (soaked for an hour in warm water or brandy).

Please stay tuned for part two.

Saute Rabbit


Recently my room mate (who likes to buy a lot of organic/super healthy stuff) has commissioned me to help her cook her rabbit meat. I’ve never eaten or cooked rabbit before, so of course I immediately thought it would be a really cool thing to cook and then blog about. The thing is, these furry lagomorphs clock in at roughly $8 per pound. The prospect of being allowed to cook something like this just sends chills up my spine, but the possibility of fucking up is also quite real.

So, saute rabbit. This is the cooking method I decided upon after much research on the subject of lagomorph cookery. It is a method suited for cooking a young, tender rabbit (or fryer rabbits). The recipe is lifted directly from Larousse Gastronomique (the bible for French cooking; 2004 First American Edition, page 375 of the Meat, Poultry and Game volume). Here is the exact text of the recipe:

Jesus fuck that's one tiny paragraph.

It’s the simplest recipe in the book for rabbit with the least amount of ingredients. From what I have read on rabbits from the internet, the flavor of the meat is somewhere between chicken and turkey. It certainly seems possible to re-create a cheaper version of this dish using chicken.

A NOTE BEFORE I BEGIN: I’M A TOTAL FUCKING NEWBIE AT FRENCH COOKING. I FOLLOW THE RECIPE TO THE BEST OF MY ABILITY USING WHAT I KNOW ABOUT COOKING MEAT. IF YOU’RE LOOKING AT MY PHOTOS AND THINK THAT IT LOOKS LIKE SHIT, PLEASE JUST FOLLOW THE RECIPE DIRECTLY WITHOUT GOING ALONG WITH WHAT I’M DOING.

Ingredients

Looks like dis wabbit is vewy vewy dead.

Total prep/cooking time: 25-30 minutes.

1.25 to 1.5 pounds (~600g) of rabbit
1/2 cup white wine
~2 tbsp lemon juice
2.5 tbsp butter, divided into 1.5 tbsp and 1 tbsp
4-5 tablespoons of stock*
1 small shallot
salt
pepper
parsley**

*The recipe did not specify what type of stock, so I assume any type is fine. I actually did not have any stock on hand, so I used the trimmings from the rabbit to create a tiny batch of makeshift stock.
**Italian parsley pictured, since it looked significantly fresher than the other parsley at the supermarket. You need only about 1/4 of what is pictured here.

Also worth noting is that this is a recipe for young rabbit. Do not use it for old rabbits or hare, which have a different type of meat.

Cooking

We start with the prep work as always. Give your parsley some gentle chopping and thinly slice your shallot. Roll your lemon around to loosen its juices for easy squeezing.

Bugs Bunny, rest in pieces. MUHAHAHA

Complement your dead animal matter with some dead plant matter. It'll taste better.

On the rabbit side of things, wash and rinse off your rabbit pieces. Trim off any excess fatty bits. Rabbits are quite lean so you shouldn’t have to cut off too much fat. Pat the pieces dry with a paper towel. This is important so that your pieces will brown while they saute instead of steam. Salt and pepper the pieces after you have pat them dry.

Meanwhile, prepare a lightly oiled, oven-safe vessel and pre-heat your oven to 200F. This step isn’t directly in the recipe, but the recipe did say to keep the rabbit warm once they are pulled off the saute pan, and the oven is my chosen receptacle for when the rabbit is finished sauteing.

Elmer Fudd can learn a thing or two from whoever killed this rabbit. No need to go digging for buckshot here.

Over medium-high heat in a non-stick saute pan, melt 1.5 tablespoons of butter. The butter should be smoking before you put the rabbit pieces into the pan. If you place your rabbit into the pan and do not immediately hear sizzling, take the rabbit out and let the pan heat up more.

Saute your rabbit pieces on one side until it is brown, then saute it on the other side. From hindsight, I think I did not completely brown the pieces thoroughly enough (it’s difficult to judge because the recipe did not provide pictures, but from the text it seems as if you are supposed to completely cook the rabbit through simply by sauteing. I had to finish cooking the rabbit in the oven at 300F for about 6 minutes). Cover your pan with a lid while sauteing to keep the heat from dissipating.

If you think about it, before a dish passes into the annals of history, it also had to pass through the anals of history.

When the rabbit is done, transfer the pieces into your oven-safe vessel and stick them into the oven for warm safe-keeping. Pour 1/2 cup of wine into your pan and dump in your chopped shallot. The wine should help loosen up all the stuck bits of meat, which will form the flavor base for the sauce.

Peering through the mists of time.

Keep the pan uncovered and boil away the wine until it is at almost nothing. Then, add your stock, and reduce again to a few tablespoons. At this point add your last tablespoon of butter along with a squeeze of lemon juice. Melt the butter until you get a congruous looking sauce.

When I die, I'll ask to have a sauce prepared like this one poured all over my dead body too.

Plate your rabbit. Pour the sauce over it and sprinkle on some parsley. Serve warm with potatoes or rice or salad or whatever constitutes a meal.

The Result

Don't think about Bugs Bunny. Don't think about Bugs Bunny. God dammit. Looks like he took the wrong turn at Albuquerque and ended up done like dinnah.

?? / 5 Well I didn’t eat it, I cooked it for someone else. This is what French cooking is about, right? Right? Oh, well. I should probably eat out more at restaurants that serve this type of thing so I know what I’m dealing with. There certainly is some appeal about this type of cooking: it is simple in principle and uses few ingredients, but the amount of depth, skill, and possibilities to master the dish is tremendous to behold. Here’s hoping it turns out good enough for me to have another chance at cooking something like this.

Conclusion

Learning to cook is both exciting and daunting. You can be putting your best foot forward at all times, yet never be satisfied with each dish you make, because you know the next time you make that dish, it will turn out even better. All you can do is continue trudging forward, and one day, sometime far in the future, you just might become a bad-ass cook.

Until next time, feel free to shoot the next furry bastard that crosses your path (unless it’s Robin Williams or something like that), because it’ll certainly be delicious. Happy cooking.

Mac N’ Cheese


Good old macaroni and cheese. From my personal experience, it was a staple elementary school cafeteria dish, usually served as a mess of congealed macaronis stewing in a puddle of melted processed cheese. When I moved on to middle and high school, I tried to recaptured that nostalgia with 25 cent packs of Easy Mac, which somehow managed to taste even crappier with its faux cheddar tang (that tasted nothing like cheddar) and unnatural orange coloring. The venerable mac n’ cheese is one of the most iconic and yet most bastardized of American comfort foods.

Here is a basic recipe for real macaroni and cheese. Nothing fancy, nothing difficult. From this recipe endless modifications can be made, to spawn as many variations of baked pasta as you would like (but not lasagna, which is something different). If, like me, it has been a while since you have had macaroni and cheese, this is a good dish to try.

Ingredients

Such lucious breasts you missed out on.

What? Real cheese? Preposterous. But the dish is called "macaroni and cheese", not "macaroni and processed cheese product (now with real milk!)".

Cooking time: ~1 hour

8 oz dried macaroni*
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
milk**
bread crumbs***
2 cups cheddar****
salt
pepper
nutmeg

You will also need: A pan, a pot for pasta, and an oven-safe vessel which will be the ultimate resting ground for your finished dish.

*Many varieties of pasta can be used, really. I’ve even seen linguini cut into small pieces to make this.
**You need at least 1 1/2 cups, so make sure your milk carton/bag/jug isn’t almost empty.
***You can buy them or make your own. Method for making own bread crumbs is shown below.
****Fancier recipes call for a mixture of cheddar and gruyere, and possibly some goat cheese. I decided to forgo gruyere since it is quite expensive in the US.

Cooking

First, let’s start with the breadcrumbs. If you have store-bought breadcrumbs you can skip this part. Some weeks ago when I first conceptualized this blog I intended to make baguettes ahead of time to make breadcrumbs, but that didn’t happen for various reasons.

All you need is a baking sheet, aluminum foil if you need it, and a few slices of bread. White bread is preferred so you can make white breadcrumbs, which are useful mainly due to their ability to turn various shades of golden and brown to indicate doneness (or burnt-ness). I only had store-bought wheat bread, which makes it much more difficult to tell doneness, but whatever. Place a single layer of bread slices onto your sheet and toast in the oven at 250F (120C) for about 45 minutes to 1 hour until bread is completely crisp and dry. You may need to turn the bread a few times through the process.

Oh look! The same photo from the cheesecake entry! Just kidding it's wheat breadcrumbs. Or is it?

Once the bread is toasted, toss either into a food processor or a zip-loc bag and crush until into tiny bits (but not powder, which is too fine). If you are going the zip-loc route I highly advise actually using a zip-loc type bag, which are quite sturdy. I’ve tried doing the crushing in various other ghetto plastic bag, including the bread bag that the original loaf came in, but all of those bags tend to tear rather easily. So don’t do that.

To the finished breadcrumbs you can add a variety of herbs and spices which are purely optional. I added some black pepper, basil, parsley, and garlic powder. Onto the main dish.

Prep work comes first. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the macaroni. Meanwhile, shred either with a grater or a knife about 1 1/2 cups of cheddar cheese.

Picture of shredded cheese for the uninitiated, and people from Kazakhstan.

Melt your butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Sprinkle all of your flour over the melted butter and mix around for a few minutes. Try not to let the concoction brown. If it is starting to turn brown, turn down the heat and move on to the next step, which is…

"I'M MELTIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINGGGGGG!!!!! AHHHHH!!!" "SO AM IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!!!!!" Was what the butter squares said to each other.

…adding milk to your roux. Some recipes recommend adding room-temperature milk to avoid lumps or some shit like that, but cold milk is just fine if you add it slowly while whisking until each bit of milk you pour into the pan is absorbed by the roux. You’ll end up with a nice thick shiny sauce.

AKA Bechamel sauce, which was invented by the French so they had something white to surrender with at all times, even when cooking.

Now is a good time to season your sauce. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste, but keep in mind that cheddar also has salt content. At this point your water is probably near or at boiling. Pre-heat your oven to 350F (176C, or probably 180 on your oven dial).

Add macaroni to your boiling salted water. Cook for 5-6 minutes or until they are just short of al-dente. Turn the heat off for your milk sauce. Add all but 1/2 cup of cheese to your sauce and stir incorporate. Save this 1/2 cup of your cheddar for later.

Sorry, I just can't help but make fun of France whenever it comes up. They're kind of like Canada in that way. Except when you make fun of Canada fewer people get offended.

Drain your cooked macaroni and fold it into your sauce. It probably looks like a lot of sauce at first (about 1:1 volume ratio between sauce and pasta), but it’s perfectly fine. Deposit all of this sauce/macaroni amalgamation into your oven-safe vessel. Sprinkle your remaining cheddar cheese on top and top off with a layer of breadcrumbs. Stick this into the oven for 30 minutes.

This would look a lot less brown if the breadcrumbs were white and not wheat. In other words, it's not burnt.

After 30 minutes have elapsed remove your pan from the oven. Let rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.

The Result

If you were French, you could eat the top part and surrender with the bottom part. LAWL.

4.6 / 5 These ratings are just getting more and more arbitrary. It tastes good. Crispy topping, gooey cheese, pasta with creamy sauce. If you’re not someone who likes cooking you might take a look at this and think, “who could even bother to make this souped up version of mac n’ cheese? It’s ridiculous”. But in reality once you’ve made mac n’ cheese this way, you’ll realize that this is how mac n’ cheese is meant to be. It’s not souped up at all, and anything less is just some bullshit that is only fit to be fed to young children in shitty American elementary school cafeterias.

Conclusion

Have you ever felt that feeling where you’re writing a rather long piece, and somewhere in the middle you realize that you’re slowly running out of steam? Your writing turns to crap and you lose the inspiration to keep churning out interesting sentences. That’s what happened with this conclusion.

Anyways I apologize for not writing these blogs as often as I’d like. Oftentimes ideas come up but I didn’t have ingredients, or sometimes I try to alter a recipe to use cheaper, different ingredients only to have the result come up sub-par. I do usually have at least 3-4 ideas floating around at all times, so each blog is a combination of luck with ingredients, time constraints, and my own limited skill. Happy cooking.

Cheesecake II


Hello gentle readers, it’s been a while. This hiatus wasn’t intentional. Blogs and dishes were planned… beautiful plans. But the stars of the universe fell out of alignment and re-arranged themselves into the “FUCK YOU” constellation. I got sick. I injured my wrists. Life sucked.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star.

The only hope laid in a single block of cream cheese left in the refrigerator. It was time for the return of the cheese cake. This time I know how to make it right. And as always, there is a twist to the theme: a fusion dessert between a cheese cake and an apple crisp. Cinnamon crust, creamy vanilla cheese cake filling, spiced apple topping. It’s time to kick ass and chew bubble gum, and I’m health conscious so I chose to chew sugar-free Trident gum instead.
Ingredients

No spread this time, so you're just going to have to reverse engineer the ingredients from this photo instead. Good luck.

Total Time: 3-8 hours (depending on how you’re counting)

Crust:

20 squares of graham crackers, crushed
6 tbsp rolled oats*
2 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp butter/margarine, melted
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon

*Do not used instant oats. Rolled oats may also be known as old-fashioned oats.

Filling:

One 8 oz block cream cheese, room temperature*
8 tbsp sour cream, room temperature
6 tbsp white granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg + 1 egg yolk, with yolks and whites separated, room temperature**
2 tbsp cream or half-and-half***
1 tsp vanilla extract

*Allow 3-4 hours at least to bring these ingredients to room temperature.
**This isn’t essential, but I’m told by TL poster fire_brand that it results in a lighter filling.
***This also isn’t essential, but makes beating eggs easier.

Topping:

2 medium crisp apples, such as Fuji or Granny Smith
Juice of 1/2 lemon or 1/2 orange
3 tbsp brown sugar*
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 tbsp flour
6 tbsp of water, as needed**
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

*This is for Fuji apples. You may need 4-5 tablespoons of sugar for a tart apple such as Granny Smith.
**More or less, depending on desired thickness of sauce.

You will also need: A (preferably two) muffin tin mold, at least two somewhat large bowls, a small pot, among other things.

Cooking

We begin with the filling. Take your pieces of graham crackers and stick them into a sturdy bag, such as that of the Zip-loc variety. Then either using your fingers or some other implement, crush the graham crackers into tiny bits. You can also beat them into submission with a rolling pin if you are feeling particularly violent.

If you have a bomb shelter, simply place the crackers in a small pile in the center of the bomb shelter, toss a grenade into the bomb shelter, and close the door. Let the grenade do the work.

In a separate container, melt the butter. You can do this in a microwave by microwaving at 5 second intervals and swishing the melted butter around until everything is melted. Add your tiny graham cracker bits and all the other ingredients.

This flour looks like cocaine cut with feta cheese. But it's flour. Really.

Mix thoroughly. Preheat your oven to 300F (150C). Butter your muffin tin and spoon about 3 tablespoons of this mixture into each mold. Using a spoon or a small butter bowl (what I used), press the mixture into a hollow bowl shape against the sides of the mold.

Possibly the most annoying step in making mini-cheesecakes. A lot less annoying with practice, but still annoying.

Bake these crusts by themselves for 7 minutes. Meanwhile, onto the filling! You can use a mixer or do the filling by hand. Making the filling by hand is obviously more difficult but not impossible, especially if the ingredients are softened at room temperature. Measure out 8 tablespoons or 1/2 cup of sour cream into a bowl. Mix this by itself for a bit so that you coat your bowl with sour cream, which will prevent cream cheese from sticking to the sides of your bowl. Dump your block of sour cream into the midst of sour cream, and mash everything together.

White-on-white dairy product action. What luck, to not be born lactose intolerant!

Somewhere along the line, when sour cream and cream cheese have intertwined themselves into a near congruous mass, add sugar. The sugar will lighten and somewhat fluff up this mixture. While you are doing the mixing, especially by hand, your blind-baked crusts may be ready. Remove them from the oven. If at this time your filling mixture is already done, do not pour it into the molds right away! Let the molds sit for at least 5 minutes to cool down, or it will instantly cook the part of the filling that touches it, and you will receive the game-over screen have a disaster-flavored cheese cake, which doesn’t taste very good.

I know I listed "cream" on the ingredient list, but your mother just happened by, and I noticed she was lactating... two for two, yeah?

Now prepare (or add to your cream cheese/sour cream mixture) your beaten, separated egg yolks and egg white. You can add a bit of half-and-half or cream to the egg parts at this time to make it easier to beat. Add the eggs, salt, and vanilla extract to your filling. Mix everything until smooth.

I was kidding about the above image caption. The flavor of this cheesecake would be totally ruined if I added sour milk. MUHAHAHA

While you are doing all this, you will want to reduce the oven temperature to 250F (120C) and prepare a pan filled partially with water as a water bath. Filling your muffin molds to the brim with cheese cake filling. Bake for about 25 minutes.

Okay, I was kidding about the above comment also. I'm sure your mother is a very nice woman. And if she smacked you while you were young, well, you deserved it.

After 25 minutes, check your cheese cake. It should still appear soft, but solid. At this time turn off your oven heat and leave the door open for about a minute. Then, close the door and leave the cheesecakes in the oven for another hour. This will let the cheesecakes finish cooking to perfection.

Meanwhile, you can start on your spiced apple topping! First juice your lemon/orange into a container. This is so you can dunk your apple pieces into the juice as soon as they are chopped to prevent oxidation (browning). Peel and core your apples.

Have you seen how Sakai peels his apples on Iron Chef? He uses his chef knife, does it 3x faster than I do it with the small knife which is what most people use, it's fucking ridiculous.

Chop them into bite-sized pieces (preferably 1/2 inch, or even smaller than what I have chopped here). Dump them into the citrus juice and toss them around. Add all the spices, flour, salt, and sugar. Mix together. Chill for at least half an hour to marinate.

When people call other people the apple of their eye, I wonder if they think of all the terrible things we do to apples that involve sharp objects or intolerable heat levels.

Take your apples out of the refrigerator. Cook your apples over medium heat until the sauce starts to thicken, then add as much water as needed to thin out the sauce and partially cover most of the apple pieces. Once the liquid comes to a boil, bring the heat down to low. Put a lid over your apples and simmer them for 8 minutes or so. The steam will cook through your apples. Add water as necessary.

Let me just say here that apple sauce tastes like shit. Apples have nice texture as well as nice flavor. It's like bacon in that way. Would you puree bacon into bacon sauce? Of course not, you lose the crispy texture. Don't fucking puree your apples and make it into mush.

Once the apples are cooked to your desired texture remove them from the heat and set aside. At this point in time your cheesecakes may have finished cooking. Deposit them into the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour. If, like me, you have only a single muffin tin, you may move onto making your second batch of cheese cakes. Otherwise, top your chilled cheesecakes with your spice apples and enjoy.

The Result

Cheese, or cake? Cheese, or cake? For millenia have men struggled to answer this question. But now, you can have both at the same time.

4.9 / 5  Cheesecakes are one of those things that take a long time to make, but the procedure is rather easy and fool-proof to producing a great tasting product. It is also flexible enough to allow for easy experimentation. In this case, apple crisp cheese cake. Apples are one of the cheapest fruits in the United States, next to bananas, navel oranges, and occasionally grapefruit. To work them into a cheesecake is a natural step in the logic of a budget cook. If you have most of these ingredients in your house, consider investing in a bit of cream cheese and sour cream to make this dessert. You won’t regret it.

Conclusion

…Thus man and cake were united, first at the lips, then through the esophagus, and then into a bath of hydrochloric acid, then…. the tale doesn’t end happily every after and becomes a bit disgusting. Well, at least the beginning of the tale is deliciously sweet. And what more can you ask for? We’re born with taste buds on the tongue and not around the rectum for a reason. The end. Happy cooking!