Crispy Fish Cakes


Crispy fish cakes? Is there any other type of fish cake? Well there are, just not edible ones. I just needed to pad out the title with an attractive adjective so people will read this blog. Did I getcha? Good.

Wait! Don’t run away! What I’m technically going to show you is “chipotle fish cakes with mango pico de gallo”. It actually tastes pretty good. Much better than the frozen pizzas and hot pockets I’ve been eating in between being too lazy to cook. And probably better than that raw, half-frozen drumstick you’re gnawing on right now too, since that was all that’s left in your fridge on a Wednesday night and you can’t be arsed to go out into the cold after a hard day’s work to buy real food.

This shit is legit. Buy the ingredients over the weekend and spend a couple of hours to make something nice.

Ingredients

A lot of people don't seem to like fish. That's because they suck.

A lot of people don’t seem to like fish. That’s because they suck.

Total Prep & Wait Time: 2 hours
Serves 2-3

Fish Cakes:
1 lb boneless fish fillets*
2 tbsp chipotle mayonnaise or spread**
3 tbsp scallions
4 tbsp cilantro, parsley, or dill
1 tbsp minced red pepper***
2 tbsp minced celery
3 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 beaten egg
2-8 tbsp panko bread crumbs
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp cooking oil
1 1/2 cups panko, for coating

Mango Pico:
1/2 large ripe mango
1/2 medium yellow onion
4 small or 2-3 medium tomatoes
1 large lemon
1/2 tbsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3 tbsp cilantro (fresh coriander)

*Can be any white-meat fish, salmon, or crab meat
**Any chipotle flavored mayonnaise or spread can do. Lacking that, you can try using ranch or a mayonnaise and mustard combination.
***I used green because red is currently prohibitively expensive where I live. Red is more flavorful and adds better color.

Cooking

For once we can start with cooking before prep. Get all your ingredients out and have your fish on hand. Add oil and butter to a pan over medium-high heat. Melt the butter and let the large bubbles dissipate. Cook the fish until it is just done, salt and peppering it on both sides. Place the cooked fish into a large bowl and set aside. Reserve the pan and the oil.

Allegedly, Osama Bin Laden is sleeping with the fishes nowadays. In a few years, we fish eaters may all have a small piece of Bin Laden in us. Think happy thoughts.

Allegedly, Osama Bin Laden is sleeping with the fishes nowadays. In a few years, we fish eaters may all have a small piece of Bin Laden in us. Think happy thoughts.

As the fish is cooking, get out your small tidbits of vegetables (scallions, celery, garlic, and pepper) and mince them. The pieces should be about 1/8 of an inch or 1/3 cm in size.

If eating things that eat things that eat decomposing human beings is the cycle of life, then Soylent Green is just cutting out the middleman. Or middleanimal, as it were.

If eating things that eat things that eat decomposing human beings is the cycle of life, then Soylent Green is just cutting out the middleman. Or middleanimal, as it were.

Saute the vegetables in the same pan as the fish for about five minutes, until softened. Place them into the bowl with the fish. Add all of the other ingredients except bread crumbs. Add 2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs and mash everything together. You want to break up all of the fish into very small pieces, but not completely mashed.

For a group of people who don't like cannibalism, Americans sure love zombies.

For a group of people who don’t like cannibalism, Americans sure love zombies.

Ideally at this point, your mixture should be dry enough to form into cakes with only 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs. However, depending on the moisture of the fish, this may not be the case. Add bread crumbs a tablespoon at a time until you can just form 4-8 delicate cakes. Try to use as little bread crumbs as possible. (For reference I used about 5 tablespoons and came out with 6 cakes)

Dump 1 1/2 cups of panko bread crumbs into a container and use them to coat your fish cakes. Set the cakes aside. When all the cakes have been formed, pour all of the remaining bread crumbs on top of the cakes to coat them and prevent them from drying out. Refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours to allow cakes to firm up before cooking.

Not that I endorse cannibalism, just observing how things turned out regarding this topic while showing you how to make food. You are what you eat and all that, right?

Not that I endorse cannibalism, just observing how things turned out regarding this topic while showing you how to make food. You are what you eat and all that, right?

Right! As the fish cakes refrigerate, we can move on to the pico. Pico de gallo is very easy to make, delicious, and refreshing. It is an excellent relish that goes along with many savory dishes. Gather together all the fruits and vegetables you need, and a container to hold the pico.

Just think of this as an awkward conversation I'm having with myself that you can't help but overhear.

Just think of this as an awkward conversation I’m having with myself that you can’t help but overhear.

Small dice your tomato, mango, and onion. Place them into the container. Roll your lemon around while applying pressure to help loosen up the juices. Cut it in half and squeeze the juice into your pico. Be careful with the lemon! If it has seeds in it, you should squeeze the juice into another container and do something about the seeds before adding the juice into the pico. Roughly chop your fresh cilantro and add it to the pico. Add salt and pepper to taste, then refrigerate the pico to let it marinate together.

Look at the pretty colors! If you're colorblind, that last sentence probably didn't mean much to you.

Look at the pretty colors! If you’re colorblind, that last sentence probably didn’t mean much to you.

When the fish cakes are ready to cook, bring them out. Heat equal parts 2 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Cook the fish cakes for about 4-5 minutes per side, until golden brown. Serve immediately with pico on the side.

The Result

Anyways, forget about all the cannibalism talk earlier. God only knows how many parts of dead babies, grandmas, and other human beings you've indirectly ingested.

Anyways, forget about all the cannibalism talk earlier. God only knows how many parts of dead babies, grandmas, and other human beings you’ve indirectly ingested.

Wow, right? These actually turned out way better than I expected. They’re crispy on the outside, and filled with savory, juicy fish on the inside. The chipotle adds a ton of flavor while the pico de gallo is a perfect pairing. I’m completely gushing right now, but probably only because I haven’t cooked anything this good in a while. There’s no shame in that. It’s good stuff, and very easy to make. If you like fish, or if you don’t dislike fish, you owe it to yourself to try this.

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Bootleg Snickers


Bootleg? That’s right, but not illegal. The thing about food is that there isn’t really such thing as piracy. In fact, people (even chefs of famous restaurants) actually share many of their recipes with the world, and you can freely recreate the exact dish provided the resources and skill. Of course, not all recipes are shared, especially branded mass-marketed foods such as Snickers. The recipes for these types of food (and others like it such as Coca Cola) are very closely guarded secrets. That’s where some unscrupulous (and Chinese) bastard such as myself comes into the picture. This isn’t an exact recipe for Snickers per se, but a close approximation that is good and easy to make to boot.

Ingredients

Unfortunately my recipe doesn't include exotic ingredients such as calcium benzoate or xanthene gum or whatever the fuck the real Snickers has. Feel free to add it on your own time though.

Unfortunately my recipe doesn’t include exotic ingredients such as calcium benzoate or xanthene gum or whatever the fuck the real Snickers has. Feel free to add it on your own time though.

Prep and Wait time: 2 hrs
Serves Many

You will also need: two pots, one of them NOT non-stick, a wooden spoon or chopsticks, a sheet pan, parchment paper.

1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
2 cups (1 12 oz bag) semi-sweet chocolate
1 12 oz can of roasted peanuts
2 tbsp vegetable shortening (not shown in pic)*
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup cream
3 tbsp water

*Vegetable shortening only. Do not replace with any other type of oil such as butter or lard or vegetable oil.

Assembly

If you have read any of my other blogs, you’ve probably seen me make caramel a couple of times. Well, here it is again! There’s a new trick this time though, if your sugar is dry and clumped together like mine is. Dump the sugar along with the lumps into your pot, and add just enough water to break up the lumps over medium heat. This will allow you to break all the sugar down into a homogenous mixture.

If you dip your peanuts in now all you'll get is a hot sticky mess. Wait... let's try that one again. Basically, you want to hold off on the peanuts.

If you dip your peanuts in now all you’ll get is a hot sticky mess. Wait… let’s try that one again. Basically, you want to hold off on the peanuts.

Bring the sugar to a boil and boil it down. Eventually it will be come transparent, and then start to brown. As the sugar boils, prepare another small pot and bring your cream to a simmer. You will eventually pour the cream into the sugar, and since the sugar is extremely hot, you want the cream to be hot also to avoid crystallizing the sugar instantly.

That sugar, it just caramelts in the pot. But don't try to taste it, or it will caramelt through your mouth and burn a hole in your tongue.

That sugar, it just caramelts in the pot. But don’t try to taste it, or it will caramelt through your mouth and burn a hole in your tongue.

If your caramel is darkening too quickly, take it off the heat to slow the cooking. Add salt and vanilla to the caramel at this time. Once the caramel has reached a deep amber, take it off the heat. Hold the small pot of cream in one hand and a wooden utensil in the other hand (I used chopsticks). Stir the caramel in a circle vigorously while pouring the cream into the caramel. Be sure to keep your hand to the side as you stir, as the steam rising out of the pot of caramel is VERY hot. You should end with a creamy looking caramel.

Now, dump your entire package of peanuts into the caramel. Mix. Prepare a sheet man lined with parchment paper. Pour the caramel/peanut mixture into the sheet pan. Stick the sheet pan somewhere cool, such as the refrigerator or the freezer, for at least an hour (an hour in the freezer, longer in the refrigerator).

This is actually quite good as is. It's like a Snickers bar if you licked the chocolate and caramel off first.

This is actually quite good as is. It’s like a Snickers bar if you licked the chocolate and caramel off first.

Once the peanuts are cooled, dump the entire thing onto a cutting board and peel off the parchment paper. Reserve the sheet tray and parchment paper, you will need it later. Cut the peanuts into bite-sized pieces, or however large you would like the pieces to be.

Prepare your chocolate by placing 4/5ths of it into a microwave-safe bowl along with the vegetable shortening. Microwave on high at 30 second intervals for about 2 minutes total to melt the chocolate. Stir. The shortening thins the chocolate out a bit, allowing you to get a thinner coating on your peanuts.

If you're one of those poor bastards allergic to peanuts and/or chocolate, read on, there is something for you at the end! But you are still a bastard.

If you’re one of those poor bastards allergic to peanuts and/or chocolate, read on, there is something for you at the end! But you are still a bastard.

When your chocolate is smooth and melted, stir in the remaining, unmelted chocolate. This allows you to “temper” the chocolate a bit so that when it resolidifies it will melt at a much lower temperature than it would otherwise. Ideally, professional candy makers would keep melted chocolate between 88-89F for optimal tempering, but that is extremely difficult to do at home. This substitute method is not as good, but easily executed at home.

Turds.

Turds.

Now, dip your cold candy pieces into the warm chocolate with your fingers, wiping off excess chocolate, This is a bit difficult because the candied peanuts soften in the warm chocolate, but you should be able to persevere. Once all the pieces are coated and on the sheet tray again, cool them for a second time for about half an hour in the freezer, or longer in the refrigerator. Then, store in a container for future consumption.

How do these taste? I actually made them a while ago, so it's all a blur.

How do these taste? I actually made them a while ago, so it’s all a blur.

The End…..?

Extra Stuff: Blueberry Vodka

These blueberries weren't eaten, but they were still in high spirits nonetheless.

These blueberries weren’t eaten, but they were still in high spirits nonetheless.

What? Two recipes for the price of one? Unheard of! Who does this kind of shit? Anywho, blueberries were on sale a few weeks ago, and what better to do with blueberries than to infuse a bottle of vodka? Here’s what you will need:

1 750 ml of decent quality vodka
2 cups blueberries

First, pour about 1/3 of the bottle of vodka out. Use that however you like. Then, make a small cut in each blueberry (yes, it’s tedious, but if you do it while drinking the vodka it’ll all pass quickly. You won’t even remember it in the morning). Deposit all of the nicked blueberries into the bottle, and store somewhere dark for two weeks. Shake the bottle vigorously at the end of the first week.

After two weeks, prepare a few coffee filters and filter the blueberries out of the vodka.

Thanks to the antioxidants in blueberries, it's bad for your liver but prevents cancer. So it's like chemotherapy in a bottle.

Thanks to the antioxidants in blueberries, it’s bad for your liver but prevents cancer. So it’s like chemotherapy in a bottle.

Pour the vodka back into the bottle (or down your gullet) and store in a cool place. Enjoy!

A gift for a friend.

A gift for a friend.

The Result

Here is finally a self-contained food blog: there is something to eat, and something to drink. Why, you could even call it a meal, if you’re still in your teens or are on a destructive path to gastronomic suicide. If the bootleg snickers are too complicated for you, at least try the vodka. It’s worth the wait. Hell, buy two bottles if you can’t wait. Drink one bottle while the other marinates.

Borscht


Borscht! What an interesting dish, right? Whenever some TV cook pulls an exotic dish out of his or her ass, it usually comes off the tail of a trip to some foreign land where they acquired the taste for such dish, or maybe a recipe was handed down to them by a grandma of a friend who lived in said land for 87 years. Not me. I was sitting on my ass, as usual, browsing Wikipedia, and came across this.

Anyways, it’s not the journey that matters, it’s the result that makes you sit here and read this blog, right? Borscht is a healthy, hearty, easy soup made with red beets. Due to its diverse origins in about a dozen Eastern European countries, the ways to make borscht are near infinite. This is just one such variation that I’ve cobbled together from several recipes.

Ingredients

This is just most of the ingredients. Read the list for all of them. Or if you're feeling plucky, proceed blindly off of this picture alone. What's the matter, chicken?

This is just most of the ingredients. Read the list for all of them. Or if you’re feeling plucky, proceed blindly off of this picture alone. What’s the matter, chicken?

Total time: 1 1/2-4 hours
Serves 4-8

Beef Stock*:
~1 lb raw beef bones, tendons, etc.
1 yellow onion
1 carrot
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp rosemary
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp fresh or dried parsley
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Borscht:
4 cups beef stock
5 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 medium head of green cabbage
1 yellow onion
1 large carrot
3 medium beets**
3 medium or 4 small potatoes
salt
pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp fresh parsley
2 bay leaves
3 cloves garlic
sour cream or fresh yogurt for garnish

*You notice that salt and pepper are not listed. Do not season your stocks so that they may remain a neutral ingredient when it comes to seasoning the actual dish. If you use store bought stock, you will have to take sodium into account. Use vegetable stock for a vegetarian and vegan version.
**With their leaves, if possible.

Cooking

We start with the beef stock. You can either buy the stock, or make it ahead of time. Heat up a tablespoon of oil in a pot and deposit your beef bones. Brown them for about 1-2 minutes on all sides.

The Necromancer from Diablo 2 would make a great soup cook.

The Necromancer from Diablo 2 would make a great soup cook.

Meanwhile, peel your carrot and onion and chop them into chunks. Deposit the chunks into the browned beef and cook until soft. Pour about 5-6 cups of water into the pot. Add thyme, rosemary, garlic, and parsley. Simmer for about two hours, then strain into a container. Either use immediately, refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze for long-term storage.

Some of you might be wondering sarcastically if this is a vegetable stock with a bit of beef or a beef stock. Well if you are wondering that, just remember that I'm way Soup Nazier than you are.

Some of you might be wondering sarcastically if this is a vegetable stock with a bit of beef or a beef stock. Well if you are wondering that, just remember that I’m way Soup Nazier than you are.

Now, when you are ready for the borscht, the borscht is ready for you! Chop your onions and carrots into similar sized slices. Saute them in oil until soft in your soup pot.

You can also add meat to your borscht, but I'm only using vegetables here. Beet your meat on your own time.

You can also add meat to your borscht, but I’m only using vegetables here. Beet your meat on your own time.

As the onions and carrots soften, peel and dice your potatoes. When the vegetables in the pot are soft, add your tomato paste. Stir to mix, then add your beef stock, garlic, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and add the potatoes. Simmer for five minutes.

If you make the soup with chicken instead you can call the soup

If you make the soup with chicken instead you can call the soup “the birds and the beets”.

While you were cooking your vegetables and waiting for the potatoes to cook, you should peel and shred your beets. You can shred by knife like I did, but it takes a longer period of time. Also chop your beet leaves into pieces and shred your cabbage.

If you put your beets into a box that's called beet boxing.

If you put your beets into a box that’s called beet boxing.

Dump all of your vegetables into the soup and simmer until tender, about 20-30 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste and add your vinegar. When the vegetables are as tender as you desire, turn the heat off. Roughly chop 3 tablespoons of parsley and stir them into the soup.

If you eat enough beets it'll turn your piss orange. Romantically speaking, it's like pissing a sunset.

If you eat enough beets it’ll turn your piss orange. Romantically speaking, it’s like pissing a sunset.

Serve the soup hot with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt. Garnish with parsley (or more authentically, dill).

Finished borsch. It looks almost like an aborschion in a pot. Probably how the name came to be.

Finished borsch. It looks almost like an aborschion in a pot. Probably how the name came to be.

 

The Result

Too many beet puns. At this point I'm really beeting a dead borsch.

Too many beet puns. At this point I’m really beeting a dead borsch.

Wow, this soup isn’t bad at all, even without meat. It is slightly sweet, with a rich meaty flavor from the beef stock. Some recipes ask you to add a bit of sugar or honey, but I think that sweetners will definitely push the soup over the edge. Be careful not to spill the soup on your shirt while eating though. That shit’ll never come off. Or, if you do live in an Eastern bloc country, it might feel like you’re being drenched in the blood of revolutionary patriots or something. Wear it outside proudly.

Fun with Eggs


…Specifically, eggs of the chicken. Most people will agree that chicken periods are considerably more palatable than human periods. Furthermore, they are cheaper. Requests for human egg donors in the classified section of newspapers often offer thousands of dollars for a single egg.

This blog entry isn’t as much about egg dishes as it is about what you can do with eggs. The first dish is a broccoli and tomato salad with home made mayonnaise. The second dish is a cherry clafoutis. Both dishes use eggs in a supporting role, but the eggs are critical enough that the dishes will not work without them.

If you hate eggs, this is not the blog for you. And shame on you for hating on eggs.

Module 1: Tomato and Broccoli Salad

Hullaballoo

What came first, the chicken or the egg? The chicken, of course. Eggs can’t come.

Prep Time: ~30 minutes
Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1 lb broccoli
1 lb tomatoes
1/3 cup grated parmesan
1 tbsp salt

Mayonnaise

1 egg yolk
1/2 cup dijon mustard
2/3 cup oil*
1/2 tbsp salt**
1/4 tbsp pepper (white pepper if you want consistent coloring)
1 1/2 tbsp wine vinegar or lemon juice

*Typically you will want to use a neutral tasting oil. I used half olive oil and half vegetable (sunflower) oil. Pure olive oil will have too strong a flavor for making mayonnaise.

**I tend to under-salt my dressings and my food in general. You may wish to up this to a full tablespoon for the final salad.

Cooking

Bring about two quarts (2 liters) of water to a boil in a pot with 1 tablespoon of salt. Meanwhile, cut your broccoli into bite-sized pieces.

I bet you can’t spot the egg in this picture.

Blanch the broccoli (which means to cook something briefly in boiling water) for about a minute, keeping the heat on high. When you first put the broccoli into the water, it may cause the water to stop boiling. The water should come back to a rolling boil before the minute is up. This will quickly cook the broccoli until it is slightly tender, but the broccoli should still retain some of its crispiness.

Just kidding, there weren’t any eggs in the previous picture.

Lift your broccoli out of the water and let it cool in a colander. Do not dump the hot water yet. As the broccoli cool, you can start on your mayonnaise. Mayonnaise is quite easy to make, but also easy to screw up if you do not pay attention. Crack open an egg and separate the yolk and the white. Discard the white. Deposit the egg yolk in a medium sized bowl. Add the mustard. Mustard is a good emulsifier, which means it will help bind the oil to the egg yolk.

Salmonella? Never heard of her. Is she hot?

Whisk the mustard and the egg yolk together while holding the bowl over the hot water. You will want to bring the two to room temperature without overcooking the eggs, so check the bottom of your bowl every now and then to make sure that it is not too hot. Oftentimes mayonnaise recipes will tell you to use “room temperature eggs”, and this is the best and safest way to bring eggs to room temperature. Simply leaving egg outside for a few hours will “age” the egg significantly and it will be considerably less fresh than if you used the method described here.

Once the yolk and mustard mixture is well whisked and at room temperature, you are ready to make mayonnaise. Have your oil ready at hand and add ONLY a few drops to the yolk. The key to mayonnaise is to start adding oil very slowly. If you add oil too quickly, the mayonnaise will never form and you will have to restart.

The mayonnaise starts out yellow and becomes paler over time. As a Chinese living in the United States, that’s the story of my life right there.

Whisk the few drops of oil into the yolk until it is smooth and uniform. Add a bit more oil this time, and whisk the oil in. Continue to add oil, increasing the increments each time, and whisk the oil completely into the mayonnaise before continuing on.

Whisk until all the oil has been incorporated. Now you can season the mayonnaise. Add salt and pepper, and vinegar or lemon juice for acidity.

The primordial ooze of French cuisine

The time for salad assembly is now. Cut your tomatoes into bite-sized pieces. Throw in parmesan and toss your vegetables together with the mayonnaise (add as much as you need). Serve right away, or refrigerate and serve chilled.

Vegetables just aren’t the same without a ton of fat drenched all over it.

Module 2: Cherry Clafoutis

A custard had sex with a flan once upon a time. The flan got pregnant and gave birth to the clafoutis.

Adapted from Julia Child’s recipe
Prep time: ~1 hour
Serves 3-4
Makes 1 8-inch cast-iron pan

2 cups ripe cherries*
5/6 cup milk (or part milk, part cream)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tbsp vanilla eggstract
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
butter, for buttering pan
1 tbsp powdered sugar

You will also need: a vessel which is both stove-top and oven-safe, such as a cast iron pan.

*The traditional dessert can be made with either apricots or cherries (pitted or not). I used unpitted bing cherries, which allegedly gives a more intense flavor. You can either pit the cherries, or use pitted canned cherries. Drain the canned cherries of syrup before use.

Cooking

A clafoutis is like a mix between a flan and a custard. It can be eaten either as a dessert or for breakfast. It is fast and easy to make. First, pre-heat your oven to 350F (175C) sift your flour into a bowl. Add eggs to the flour and mix together into a thick, yellowy batter.

Chopsticks, so named because they are excellent tools for chopping objects. If you disagree, it means your kungfu is weak.

Add sugar, mix thoroughly again, then add the milk slowly while mixing to avoid lumps. Add salt and finally vanilla extract. You should end up with a very thin batter.

If you stir 13 times counter-clockwise using your feet while doing a handstand underneath a ladder with a black cat as witness, a unicorn will appear and grant you one wish.

Prepare your cherries however you want them to end up in the clafoutis. Butter your pan. Turn the heat to medium on the stove top and place your pan on the stove. Pour a thin layer of batter into the pan, just enough to cover the bottom. Heat the bottom just enough for the layer to thicken slightly, then pull the pan from the heat. Place all of your cherries into the pan in a single layer and pour the rest of the batter into the pan.

This clafoutis just got clafruity.

Stick the clafoutis into the oven and bake for about 45 minutes. Check in at about 40 minutes. Once the edges are puffed and brown, and a knife stuck into the center comes out clean, the clafoutis is ready. Dust with powdered sugar and serve at room temperature.

Don’t forget to warn people about the cherry pits when you serve this to them, unless you secretly hate them.

Conclusion

Aren’t eggs useful? And not even in the impregnation/reproduction way either. Even when they are not the centerpiece, they serve as critical instruments that bind many dishes and sauces together. I like eggs, and so should you. Eggs are there to serve. They exist for your nourishment. Instead of beating your children or your wife, consider beating your eggs instead. You will discover that the results are much more desirable.

Caramel Quesadillas


Pull a dessert out of your ass, why doncha?

Don’t mind if I do. June is apparently a dessert month or something, since I’m doing a lot of these, and I don’t even have a pregnant wife or anything like that. At any rate, this time it is a dessert of my own concoction. The premise is simple: a sweet version of the quesadilla. I ran the idea past a friend of mine who is a pastry chef, and he said it sounded pretty good.

The idea is to mirror the savory quesadilla in its entirety. Toasted, crispy tortillas, gooey caramel in place of cheese, and roasted hazelnuts to complete the filling. On the side is a fruit version of pico de gallo, using fruits to reproduce the texture of your standard tomato and onion pico.

Ingredients

If it doesn’t have queso, is it still quesadilla?

Prep Time: ~1 hour
Serves 4-6

Tortilla:

4 medium-sized flour tortillas (about 6 inches diameter)
1/2 cup sugar + 1 tbsp for sprinkling
1/4 cup cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
3 oz hazelnuts toasted or roasted (about three dozen nuts or so?)

Pico de Gallo

1 medium sized Granny Smith apple*
2-3 dozen red seedless grapes**
1 tbsp fresh mint
2 tbsp honey
juice of 1/2 lime or 3 tbsp grapefruit juice***
1 kiwi (optional)
salt****
pepper****

*Or 1 1/2 small granny smith apples. Try to find apples that are as crisp and tart as possible.
**Red seedless grapes are the best because of their combination of sweetness and crispness. Their skin texture is tender and a good imitation of a tomato’s skin texture. You can also use plums, but make sure that they are very sweet and firm enough to be diced.
***I used lime juice, but grapefruit juice could add an interesting hint of bitterness
****You only need a tiny pinch of both, less than 1/4 of a teaspoon

Assembly

Pico de gallo becomes tastier over the passage of time as the flavors marinate together. Therefore, it is made first. Wash and assemble all the fruits. Dice the granny smith apple into roughly 1/4 inch (~3/4 cm) cubes.

Who is this Granny Smith, that people hated her so much they named the sourest fucking apple in existence after her wrinkled ass?

Follow it up by dicing your grapes into quarters. The work might seem tedious, but it is necessary to make sure the grape pieces are as close to the apple pieces in size as possible. Put both fruits into the same container.

What did Granny Smith do, pour acid on her grandchildren as a form of punishment?

If you have a kiwifruit, dice that as well and dump it into the container. Pick out a tablespoon or so’s worth of mint and slice it into fine strips. Put everything into one container, add salt, pepper, honey, and juice. Toss everything together and refrigerate for the moment.

I guess if you have grapples you can just use those instead of grapes and apples.

Now it is time to make the caramel. Measure out your sugar and place it in a heavy bottomed pan (not a non-stick one! you will ruin your nonstick pan). A lot of caramel recipes tell you to add water, but that isn’t really necessary. Simply keep an eye out on your caramel as it melts. You can stir it around, but not too much as that will form lumps.

I’ve found a way to turn white into brown! But Michael Jackson is unfortunately dead.

In a separate pot, bring your cream to the boiling point. Add vanilla extract and salt to the cream. Let the sugar melt until it is a deep amber but not brown color. Take the caramelized sugar off the heat. Stir it around to prevent it from solidifying, then pour the boiling cream into the sugar while constantly stirring. Ideally no lumps will form and you get your caramel sauce. However, if lumps do form, you will have to put the sauce back on low heat and stir until the lumps go away. At the end of the process you should have this:

Never lick melted sugar until it is completely cool, unless you wish to intimately discover how cooked human tongue tastes like.

At this time you are almost ready to move onto the tortillas themselves. Bring out your hazelnuts. If they are not already toasted yet, toast them (a small toaster oven is the easiest and most efficient. You can also do it in the conventional oven, or over the stove. Make sure you do not burn the hazelnuts if you use the stove).

Pre-heat your oven to 400F and set it to broil. Prepare a sheet pan by covering it with parchment paper. Place two rounds of tortillas onto the pan. Take a knife and stab a bunch of pinpricks into each tortilla. This will prevent air pockets from expanding and ruining the shape of your tortillas as you toast them. Butter each tortilla on one side only and sprinkle sugar all over the buttered side.

These two tortillas are the most Mexican part of this dish that you will see, so savor the moment.

Broil each tortilla for approximately 5 minutes or so. I say approximately because the tortillas can go from completely white to thoroughly burnt within the span of thirty seconds, so you should start checking them at around 3 minutes. As soon as some parts of the tortillas start becoming dark brown, remove them from the oven.

When they are reasonably cooled, turn them over and spread the caramel sauce on the untoasted sides of both tortillas. Sprinkle one of the rounds with your crushed hazelnuts. Place one tortilla over the other to form the quesadilla.

If you didn’t turn your tongue into a slab of well-done meat by tasting the caramel while it was hot, you’ll probably enjoy what is about to come a lot more.

Serve the quesadillas while they are fresh alongside the pico de gallo.

The Result

This one is dedicated to all the vegetarians out there. So you can all get diabetes faster MUAHAHAHA

It’s pretty good. The first time I made this dessert I used plums instead of grapes, but I find that grapes are superior due to their tenderer skin and their sweeter flavor. Both parts of the dessert can be eaten separately or together.  The tortilla is a bit chewy, so the dessert is not for those with bad teeth. Where is the sour cream you ask? Well, you can use whipped cream or ice cream to replace sour cream for this dessert. I did not do it because I never liked sour cream anyways.

Conclusion

What is with all these desserts? I have no idea. They just keep popping into my mind so I make them. I think this one turned out rather well, but I don’t exactly have a large number of people to back me up on that, so you’re just going to have to make this one yourself. Tell me how it turns out, and if you have suggestions for improvement, tell me about it as well.

Bakin’ with Bacon


The twenty-first entry proper: today Food in Mind reaches drinking age! YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH…..

This installment is dedicated to bacon. There will probably be more installments in the future also dedicated to bacon, but this is the first. Vegetarians, tree huggers, vegans, and practicing Muslims: cover your eyes, hold your noses, lock your doors, and pucker up your assholes, because you know that sweet, sweet scent of savory smoked pork will rape you senseless. The only thing better than lust and gluttony is the lust of gluttony.

There are three items in all, listed in order of difficulty. None of them are particularly difficult though, so be bold!

Stage 1: The Elvis Sandwich

He's the King in a country that shunned monarchy. Go figure.

Ingredients:

1 ripe banana
3-6 strips of bacon*
peanut butter
2 slices bread

*3 strips of bacon for single layer, 6 for double layer of bacon. You may also wish to consider a teaspoon of honey if you are going for double layer.

Elvis has a sandwich named after him? Fuck yeah. It’s reputedly his favorite sandwich, according to his mother no less. Making it is easy.

Fry up your bacon strips until they are crispy. Slather one slice of bread with peanut butter on one side; top with banana slices. Place crispy bacon strips on top of the bananas. The sweetness of bananas are a nice balance to a single layer of bacon. However, if you wish to use double the bacon, I recommend drizzling a teaspoon of honey over the bacon. Cover with second slice of bread, and toast both sides of the sandwich in a pan until golden brown. Slice (or not) depending on preference and eat.

Stage 2: Yorkshire Pudding

NOTE: Yorkshire Pudding should be served as soon as possible and consumed within 30 minutes of production. Take this into account when timing your cooking.

What do you do with all the rendered bacon grease from frying your bacon? Throw it away? NO! Of course not. You’d find other ways to clog your arteries with it. Enter Yorkshire pudding. I have no idea where Yorkshire is, but their pudding is pretty decent. Recipe adapted from here with additional research and testing.

Yorkshire, it's New York except for hobbits.

Ingredients:

3/4 cups milk
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 eggs
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup bacon grease (Most likely less)
1 muffin/cupcake mold

Yorkshire pudding is essentially equal parts milk and flour with eggs and a little salt, fried in an oven. The ingredients are simple, so the key is in the execution.

If you're thinking you'll never eat this because it's unhealthy, it's probably time to get off your ass and go for a run.

Preheat your oven to 425F-450F. Stick your empty muffin mold into the oven. The temperature varies depending on your oven, so experiment with both settings.

Measure out your flour and crack two eggs over it. Mix together to form a wet dough. Crack the third egg and mix some more to form a thick batter. Add a teaspoon of salt. Dump in all of your milk to create a very thin batter.

I used skim milk because I'm so health conscious!

Once your oven has reached its target temperature, remove the hot muffin mold and pour a thin layer of bacon grease into each mold. Many recipes tell you to pour as much as 1 cm of oil into each mold, but I find that you do not need nearly as much oil. Too much oil will result in lakes of grease within your puddings.

Return the mold to the oven until the oil is very hot, about 20-30 seconds. Then take the mold back out again, and pour about 4 tablespoons of batter into each mold. Don’t fill the mold entirely! This pudding puffs up like a wolf that’s about to blow your house down.

Is there anything that isn't called a pudding by the Brits? Christmas pudding, vanilla pudding, bread pudding, Yorkshire pudding, all of these things are nothing alike one another

Bake the puddings for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Stage 3: Breakfast Pizza

Ate this for lunch the other day. By white middle class standards I'm a rebel.

Dough (for ~15 inch pie)*

2 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 tsp yeast
1.5 tsp salt
2/3 cup warm water**
1/2 tbsp sugar

Topping

2 eggs, scrambled
5 strips of crispy bacon, cut into small pieces
1/2 cups shredded cheese***
1/3 medium onion, diced and either sauteed or caramelized
thin slices of tomato (optional)

*You can use store-bought dough, but where’s the fun in that?
**Water should be between 110F and 118F (~45C to 48C) for optimal yeast activation. It can be cooler, but do not go over this temperature lest you kill the yeast cells.
***Mozzarella is optimal, but I only had cheddar. It still works. A combination of both is also super.

Begin with the dough. Measure out 1/3 cups of warm water, yeast, sugar, and 1/2 cups of flour into a container. Loosely cover the container and let sit in a warm area for about 20 minutes. This will proof the yeast to make sure that it works; you should see pockmarks where air bubbles have surfaced in the mixture.

Yeast infections are so delicious

Dump your remaining flour and water into this mixture as well as the salt. Mix together a bit, and get your hands into the mixture until all the water is absorbed and you have a dough. Knead this dough for about 8-10 minutes on a floured surface until it is smooth and elastic. Pour about a tablespoon of oil into a pot. Roll your ball of dough around in the pot to cover it with oil. Cover the pot and let it sit somewhere warm for about two hours.

A left testicle

It's so shiny! Stick it into a socketed weapon to confer bonus damage against the undead

Meanwhile, get started on a filling. Shred your cheese, chop your onions and bacon, scramble your eggs. For the bacon, I prefer cutting it first before frying; some people recommend doing this the other way around.

Bacon

Don't be a dumbass like me: try to buy bacon as lean as possible so your pieces don't shrivel up once the fat is rendered out.

For the onions, I was going to caramelize them but decided against it since caramelizing onions take such a long time. Feel free to use caramelized onions if you happen to have some on hand or are already going to make a large batch.

For the eggs, well, here’s a picture of how mine turned out:

Egg

The black specks are the dried ground pieces of a rare dung beetle species found in India. They're optional.

Let all the ingredients cool once you have cooked them. Once cooled, assemble everything except for the tomato slices in a dish. Mix evenly.

Chopped Bacon

If you got to this step but became too lazy to carry on for whatever reason, these things are all great between toast or inside a breakfast burrito.

When your dough is ready, gently press some of the air out of it and remove it from the pot.

Dough

IT'S BIGFOOT

Pre-heat your oven to 500F, or as high as most ovens will go. It’ll take a while.

Pat the dough into the desired shape of your pie. Resist the urge to play around with the dough too much. It’s wonderfully elastic, but you can still run the risk of having it become too thin in certain areas, or worse, punching a hole through the dough.

Pizza

Yo dawg, I heard you like toppings so I made two toppings so you could top your topping while you're topping your pizza.

Place the dough onto your baking sheet/pie pan/stone slab and top with your bacon/cheese/onion/egg mixture. Place the tomato slices on top of your topping. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and the crust is golden.

Pizza

It certainly beats your tofurkey omelet made with egg whites from a carton and your soylent green side salad. Real men eat real food.

Slice and serve however you like.

Conclusion

Mmmm, bacon. I came, I cooked, and I ate. Its possibilities are limitless, its power level, over nine thousand. Sure, you could fry them and eat them straight up, but why do that when you can combine them with so many other tasty things? If you love bacon, you owe it to yourself to diversify your bacon consuming methods. Be bold!

Mini-Quiches


Mini Quiche. What is that? Well, it’s like smaller quiche. Basically what happened is that asparagus was on sale, and I splurged on some bacon and some cheese, but I wasn’t willing to spend money on a proper pie tin. All I have is this muffin mold. So while the ingredients were not completely ghetto, I’m still stuck in the ghetto mindset. Shortcoming in tools and ingredients are no match for a cheap-assed imagination.

Ingredients

"Quiche" comes from an old French word meaning "very complex way to get fat".

Crust*

1 cup 2 tbsp All-purpose Flour
3 tbsp Butter/Margarine, cold
1/2 tsp Salt
4 tbsp Milk
1 stick Green Onion, finely chopped

Filling

Asparagus Spears, diced
Bacon Strips, cut into small pieces
2/3 cups Cheddar/Gruyere**
1/4 onion***
1 cup half-and-half
2 eggs
Salt
Pepper

*Crust adapted from this helpful website. I read through several recipes for crusts specifically tailored for quiches. There is another recipe here that calls for using creme fraiche/sour cream, but since I do not use either often I opted for this recipe. The dairy component seems to be what is important from these recipes anyways, so milk is just fine. This crust recipe makes 4 small crusts, or one large 9-inch crust. However, the filling is enough for either one large pie, or 12 small pies. Plan accordingly.
**Cheddar is cheaper here. Gruyere, Swiss, Parmesan, and even goat cheese can work, Experiment to see what is right for you.
***Not pictured. Optional.

Procedure

You should start with the crust. Measure out flour into a container and add salt. Cut cold butter into small pieces. Using a fork, incorporate the butter into the flour. Mash the butter into the flour with your fork until they are in small pieces. Add finely chopped scallions and mix together.

I'd say I'm "sharing" this recipe with you. If I were French, I would be "surrendering" this recipe to you. A small technicality.

Slowly add the milk a tablespoon at a time. I found that four tablespoons of milk is only barely enough to hold all the flour together into a ball. Use your fingers to roll all of the flour into a ball of dough. Refrigerate this ball for an hour.

If you are French and were offended by the above remark, remember that since I'm Chinese it's only natural I'd reproduce a cheap knockoff of your product and flood the market with it.

Meanwhile, cut your bacon into small pieces and dice your asparagus and onion. Over medium heat, cook the onions and bacon pieces together for about fifteen minutes. Drain bacon fat (but don’t throw it away! More on why in a future entry ;)) then continue cooking. Add asparagus, salt and pepper to taste, and cook for five more minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

Jessica Alba. Naked.

If you are Chinese and were offended by the above remark, remember that since I live in the US I'm naturally tainted by Western ideology and biased against Chinese traditions. Not that rampant piracy is a tradition.

By the time your pastry dough has been in the refrigerator for an hour, your asparagus and bacon mixture should have cooled to near room temperature. The cooling is important because you will eventually pour a cold custard mixture over this asparagus, and you would not want hot asparagus to instantly cook the egg in your custard. Add shredded cheese to this cooled mixture and mix thoroughly.

Take your pastry dough out. If you are making a single pie, roll the dough out flat on a floured surface to roughly 1/4 inch thick. Press it into a buttered 9-inch pie pan and trim off the edges. If you are making mini-quiches like me, divide the ball of dough into four with a knife. Roll each section out, cut with a circular cutter, and press into your buttered muffin/cupcake tins. Try to make some kind of consistent pattern with the rims of the pie crust using your fingers.

Your mother, naked.

If you're from the West and are offended by my use of "taint" and "western ideology" in the same sentence, remember that like human beings, giant pandas also have opposable thumbs.

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Beat the two eggs together then add your cup of half-and-half. Salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 tsp salt) and whisk until smooth. This is your custard. Spoon about two tablespoons of asparagus/bacon/onion into each pie dish and fill with custard. Leave about 1/4 inch of space for the custard to expand during the baking process.

At this point the dough feels, smells, and most likely tastes a lot like play-doh.

Bake! If you are making a 9-inch pie, bake for about 45 minutes, checking first at 35 minutes and then regularly afterwards. If you are making mini-quiches, bake for about 30 minutes, checking first at 25 minutes. The quiche is done when a knife/toothpick inserted into the custard comes out clean, and pressing on the custard yields no spurting fluids.

Man, these quiches look totally baked.

Let your pies cool for about 10-15 minutes before serving warm.

The Result

Always remember that France is Bacon.

4.5 / 5 The last time I ate quiche was some 12 years ago, made by someone else. No joke. Quiche tastes pretty good though. I’m certain I’ve nailed the filling down. The custard is tender and savory, neither under nor over-cooked. Asparagus, bacon, and onion is a wonderful flavor combination. It seems that I still have some improving to do with the crust though. A ghetto cook’s work is never complete.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I conclude that this is the conclusion to this twentieth installment of Food in Mind. As this series moves forward, I will slowly expand outwards from the core of ultra-ghetto ingredients in order to bring you, my dear readers, increasingly complex, tasty, and wonderful dishes. This is just the tip of the iceberg, the first steps on a long journey. Please continue to read and comment!

Side Dishes


Variety is good. No one wants to just eat only a pot roast and nothing else for a meal. You want something on the side to distract you and amuse you in between giant bites of whatever it is that is the centerpiece. This Food in Mind entry is dedicated to these side dishes. There are four in all. Feel free to try one, four, or none at all.

Tier One: Yogurt

White like snow that hasn't been peed on. Except for that one spot that's slightly yellowish in hue. It's not what you think.

Didn’t see this one coming, did ya? I mean, you can buy yogurt from the store and all. And to even [i]make[/i] yogurt, you need to buy a small container of yogurt from the store as a starter. Well, this entry is really for either those who wish to consume yogurt and save a dollar or two, or those who enjoy trying to make everything with their own bare hands.

Ingredients:
Milk (anything from skim to whole is fine)
Small can of yogurt
Stove
Pot

First of all, you will need a small container of yogurt from the store. Feel free to buy the smallest container you can find. Plain yogurt is recommended so that you end up with a pot of neutral yogurt with which to customize to your heart’s content. The most important thing to look for is that the yogurt contains [i]Live and Active Cultures[/i]:

Live cultures

The logo we have stateside.

This means that there are active yogurt bacteria inside that will help you kick-start your own yogurt. So here’s what you do: First, pour however much milk into a pot as the amount of yogurt you wish to make. I used half a gallon of skim milk. Heat the milk up on the stove, and bring the milk to almost a boil. Try to stir every now and then to prevent a layer of burnt milk from building on the bottom of the pot. If you have a thermometer, the key temperature is 185F, or 85C. The milk must reach at least this temperature to prepare the milk proteins for transformation into yogurt.

Once milk has reached this temperature, remove from heat. You should wait for the milk to cool to roughly 110F or 43.3C. Pour your container of yogurt into the pot of milk and stir. Store this concoction in a relatively warm place. This may be difficult to do in the winter months. What I usually do is strategically time yogurt-making to coincide with when I bake or roast, and let the pot sit on top of the warm oven. A half-gallon of milk will need at least 8-10 hours to turn into yogurt. You do not need the temperature to stay exactly at 110F, but significantly cooler temperatures such as room temperature will severely hamper your yogurt culture.

The only proof I have that this is yogurt instead of milk is that the pear slices rest on top of the yogurt. Either that or they're Jesus pears.

After 8-10 hours have passed, you should be able to see results. A successful yogurt attempt will show a glossy surface within the pot, almost like tofu. Refrigerate the yogurt and enjoy as you please.

Tier Two: Tuna Salad

Looks like something fishy is going on.

Ingredients:

2 cans tuna, drained
diced celery, roughly 1/3 inch pieces
carrots, cut into strips of similar diameter to celery, then sliced thinly
fresh parsley
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt
pepper

Combine all ingredients. Chill for an hour before serving. Tuna salad makes a great sandwich filling between two slices of toasted bread. The lemon juice might be a bit tart for some, but is essential if you plan to make sandwiches. It allows the flavors of the salad to pierce through the dry bread.

Tier Three: Mashed Potatoes

The gravy train derailed so we're gonna have to go solo.

Familiar territory for a lot of people probably. This is just my own preferences, feel free to share your own take in the comments 🙂

Ingredients:

Potatoes (Russet, the cheapest variety, is perfect for this type of dish)
butter
salt
pepper
dried parsley
garlic powder
milk/cream

Fill a pot with enough water to submerge your potatoes. Add a dash of salt and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, peel and cut potatoes. If you are using relatively new potatoes with fresh skin, you can opt to keep the skin on one or two of the potatoes. The skin will provide a nice rustic texture to your mash. My personal preference is to cut the potatoes into 2/3 inch blocks or so.

Dump cut potatoes into boiling water. Cooking time depends on the size of your pieces, but mine are cooked thoroughly in about 15 minutes. You will want to cook your potatoes thoroughly, since nothing is worse than undercooked chunks in your mash. Drain the potatoes. Add all of the seasonings, butter, and cream. Garlic is an essential addition. If you can make roast garlic, it is amazing in mashed potatoes. Otherwise, powder is fine. Milk or cream help soften your mash and improve its texture. Cream is obviously tastier, while milk is healthier. I tend to favor a softer mash (more milk/cream) that can still stand on itself.

Mash the potatoes with a spoon. I don’t quite understand why people use specialized mashing tools, since it takes only about a minute to produce the desired mash with a spoon. My preference is for a slightly chunky mash, but any consistency is possible given time and effort. Serve warm.
Tier Four: Glazed Carrots

It's 24-carrot solid vegetable.

Carrots and onions are two vegetables that are almost always present in my kitchen because they’re two of the cheapest vegetables sold in grocery stores. They are also flavorful and nutritious, which makes being poor easy.

Ingredients:

carrots
fresh parsley leaves
2 tbsp white granulated sugar
1 tbsp butter
salt

Begin by making a caramel. Pour your sugar into a pan at medium heat and let the sugar slowly melt. Do not add anything else. Meanwhile, prepare your carrots by slicing them into bite-sized pieces and tearing the leaves of parsley from their stems.

What came first, the carrot or the stick?

When the sugar has melted and turned into a beautiful deep amber color, melt your butter into it. Try to make sure that the butter is at least room temperature beforehand; this will prevent the formation of sugar lumps in your caramel. If your butter is still cold, microwave it for 10-15 seconds before adding it into the sugar. Mix into a sauce.

Add your carrots. Again, if your carrots are cold, their contact with your caramel may result in lumps. This isn’t too much of a problem for how much carrots I had, since I still had more than enough caramel to coat all the carrots. If you really care about not having lumps, you can try tempering your carrots by first submerging them in boiling water for a while. Add salt to taste.

Cook the carrots until desired consistency. For me, I like the carrots not completely soft, but not completely crispy, which is about ten minutes uncovered. If you like your carrots cooked completely soft, you may wish to cover your carrots with a lid and let them steam.

When the carrots are done, remove from heat and stir in parsley leaves. Serve warm.

My First Avocado (Macaroni Salad)


Sup doods. Welcome to the fifteenth installment of Food in Mind, where you will (so far as the current installments go) learn how to make ghetto variations of non-ghetto dishes! This installment is dedicated the avocado: or more specifically, the first avocado I’ve ever purchased.

Now you may ask, “but Newbistic, why would any ghetto cook ever buy avocados? They’re upper middle class fruits if I’ve ever seen one, much like pomegranates, grapples, and berries”.

The thing is, when you grow up in a conservative Chinese family, avocados are basically the devil fruit. They’re universally panned as shitty fruits that just taste bad. I’ve eaten avocados here and there as parts of California rolls and guacamole, but never actually sat down with the fruit by itself to contemplate its flavor. As an aspiring cook, I wish to cast aside my Asian misconceptions and learn about the taste and applications of the avocado. So I bought one.

This is not the avocado I bought, but it looks helluva lot better than any picture my camera can take

It turns out that avocados basically taste like plant flavored butter. This is slightly confusing, since avocados aren’t used like butter in that they aren’t spread on toast, or melted in a pan to fry things. What the hell kind of dish actually requires the use of something soft, buttery, and plant-flavored?

I present to you the dish for this installment of Food in Mind: Macaroni Salad

Ingredients

Didn't do a spread but needed a picture here, so... The camera man was all like "okay, now look at the salad like it's giving you an orgasm. Yeahhhh just like that."

4 tbsp Mayonnaise
2 tbsp Dijon Mustard
Salt
Pepper
2 tbsp Sugar
1 tbsp Parsley (fresh preferred, dried is fine)
8 oz Elbow Macaroni (dried)
Diced 1/4 large onion (or 1/2 small)
Diced carrot
Diced 1/2 green bell pepper
Diced 2 celery stalks*
Diced tomato
1 large Avocado

*You really don’t need specifically all of these vegetables. Feel free to omit or substitute at will. Chunks of ham, bacon, or cubed boiled eggs can also be added. I do recommend at least retaining the celery, since its aroma is one of the key factors in a good macaroni salad.

Build Order

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the macaroni. Cook macaroni until al dente and set aside.

Meanwhile, begin with the avocado. I’ve never worked with avocados in my life, but I’ve watched enough food network to know how to dismantle one like a master. You will only need your avocado, a knife, and a cutting board. Begin by cutting in a circle around the avocado’s pit, lengthwise:

Is the avocado a tropical fruit? I don't want to sound gay, but George Carlin once said "show me a tropical fruit and I'll show you a cocksucker from Guatemala"

Twist both halves to dislodge the pit from one half. Then, hold the half with the pit in one hand and give the pit a good thwack with your knife. This should lodge the blade into the pit. Twist the pit to dislodge it from the second half.

Avocado

Sorry, that last caption was completely insensitive towards gay people. Here's another one: what is a gay horse's favorite food? Haaaaaaaaaaaaaay. That's not insensitive, right?

At this point, you can scoop out the avocado with a spoon if you were making something such as guacamole. Or, if the avocado is ripe enough, you can probably push the entire segment out by applying pressure to the bottom of the segment and peeling the skin aside.

But since we are interested in a diced result, here’s what you do: Score the avocado half horizontally and vertically with your knife, taking care not to pierce the skin of the fruit, like this:

Cubed avocado is a metaphor for the current American middle class, working in tiny clustered cubicles, soft, pliable, and full of fat. Not really though, just made that up.

Before you liberate the avocado cubes from the skin, take out a plastic container (or a large mixing bowl or a pot) and pour out your mayonnaise and mustard, and sugar. Mix thoroughly. Now either using your hands or a spoon, deposit the avocado cubes directly into the dressing and coat the pieces. This step is necessary to prevent the avocado pieces from oxidizing.

Now begin dicing your other vegetables. Start with the onion first. Dice your onion and soak the pieces in a bowl of ice water. This dilutes the acid in the onion, which removes the sharp biting flavor of raw onion and gives it a sweeter, more refreshing taste.

Chop the onions, cry into the bowl, then soak onions in your tears. Removes acid and adds flavor.

Dice your celery, carrots, tomato, and green pepper. You can use almost any crispy vegetable, including other colored peppers, asparagus, cucumber, and so on.

If you mix all this together, cram it into your mouth, then spit it out really fast, it will look like you're puking a rainbow

Now the salad is ready for assembly! Separate your onions from the water. Mix everything you have cooked and diced up to this point in a large pot or mixing bowl. Add parsley, salt, and pepper to taste. Chill for at least two hours in the refrigerator before serving.

You've gained five pounds just looking at this picture.

The Result

Macaroni Salad

This is what you get for following the recipe. IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT? HUH?

4.4 / 5 Pretty good, very genuine. Two things to note: one is that the creaminess of avocado means you can use less mayonnaise. This is reflected in the recipe I listed but not in my own attempt. Second is to USE GOOD MAYONNAISE. Store brand products are often hit-and-miss. Fred Meyers mayonnaise have a distinct taste of cooked egg yolks which really distracts from an otherwise very tasty dish.

Conclusion

I’m trying (not very hard) to do less Asian themed recipes, since they’re what I grew up with and I’m trying to branch out. The next installment will probably be a Chinese dish though.

Breakfast


Hello all, it’s the tenth installment of Food in Mind! OK, so it’s not nearly as groundbreaking as when the entries were originally posted on www.teamliquid.net. It’s been a while since I’ve written one of these things because the high production values take time and drives up cost into the millions, mostly due to laziness and lack of inspiration. This installment will feature two simple breakfast dishes: savory oatmeal and chocolate chip pancakes.

Breakfast foods generally tend to be simpler because after all, who the fuck wants to wake up 3 hours ahead of time just to make some shit to eat. Both of these dishes can be made in under 20 minutes with the right ingredients. They are also highly modifiable if you wish to experiment with variations.

One: Savory Oatmeal

Preface

Sweetened oatmeal with brown sugar, cinnamon, and raisins is pretty good. So is oatmeal with white granulated sugar, cinnamon, and a tablespoon of peanut butter stirred in at the end. But eat that too many times and you’ll still get sick of that shit. That’s what happened to me.

I searched around online for some savory oatmeal recipes. Some simpler ones called for salt and pepper with olive oil and parmesan cheese, or oatmeal served with a fried/poached egg and some greens. The salt and pepper one turned out to be too bland, and greens kind of taste like shit alongside oatmeal. So I formulated a recipe which suits my own tastes.

Ingredients

Your minerals and gas for this dish. No additional pylons required.

1/4 Cauliflower*
~1 cup dried oatmeal**
~2 oz cheddar***
Chicken stock (low/no sodium)
Vegetable Oil
Salt
Pepper

*I know yellow squash is pictured. I was too lazy to take pictures when I actually made it with cauliflower. In reality any crisp vegetable without a strong aroma can be used, such as asparagus.
**Use rolled oats and not the instant-cooking crap. Both are usually the same price. Rolled oats take longer to cook but are superior in texture. A lot of ingredients are basically eyeballed so I don’t know the actual amounts. Add as much as you generally would per serving.
***You can try many different types of cheese, I just like cheddar. If you are using a very sharp cheese you can get away with as little as half that amount.

Build Order

First, dice your cauliflower into 1/2 inch blocks, and shred or chop your cheese into tiny pieces. Set both aside. Place a medium sized pot on the stove at medium heat. Add about 2 teaspoons of oil and saute your cauliflower for about 3 minutes with a little salt. When sauteing, the trick is to not spend so much time stirring the vegetables around. Let the cauliflower sit and sizzle in the oil for about a minute before tossing and letting it sit again. This will lightly brown the cauliflower, providing a lot of aroma and flavor.

At the end of 3 minutes dump your uncooked oatmeal directly onto the cauliflower and cover with the appropriate amount of chicken stock. To my experience, this is roughly enough to submerge the oatmeal plus about 1/4 inch extra, but the amount really changes with how much oatmeal you are using. At this point in time you can season to taste. If you are using store-bought chicken stock that has been salted, you may not want to add any salt at all. Keep in mind that cheddar cheese itself has a good amount of salt, so you do not want to over-salt the dish.

It's not a stool sample, it's oatmeal! Really!

Stir your oats around with a spoon as it cooks. This isn’t too important early on, but once your oats start to thicken you want to stir constantly to prevent it from sticking and burning on the bottom of your pot. Cook until the pieces of oats start to expand and “bloom” a little. You want to fully cook your oatmeal.

Once the oatmeal has been fully cooked, take it OFF the heat. Stir it around for a few seconds to dissipate a bit of heat, then add the cheese. Fold the cheese into your oatmeal until it is completely melted.

Almost done. The cheese part is like when Terran has almost won and is calling down MULES

The oatmeal will begin to look creamier as you stir. You’re done when the cheese is melted. Serve warm.

How the fuck is a walkthrough on cooking oatmeal this long? I dunno either.

This is your basic savory oatmeal. If you wish to un-ghetto-ify your oatmeal, here are some suggestions:

1) Serve with bacon and eggs, or some other combination of breakfast items.
2) If serving solo, you can add bacon directly to the oatmeal. Top the oatmeal with a poach egg or a fried egg (sunny side up or over easy preferred).

Two: Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Adapted from http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chocolate-chip-pancakes-2.

Ingredients

Store bought mix is for dickless pansies. Or if you are a girl, for chicks with dicks. Something like that...

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk*
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp white granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract**
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup chocolate chips

You will also need measuring cups, two containers, and a non-stick cooking surface such as a griddle or a flat pan.

*I’ve experimented a bit with the milk. If you add more milk, it will make the pancakes a bit mealier and denser. I presume adding a bit less milk will make it fluffier.
**This is the important part, highly recommended. It’s what makes the pancakes amazing instead of just good.

So this is kind of just the original recipe with all the ingredient amounts halved, plus vanilla extract. Most pancake recipes are similar, with slight variations in ingredient amounts. You can safely change the sugar and salt amounts without affecting how the pancakes cook. Like all pastry/baking type recipes, certain ingredients like flour and baking powder heavily influence the outcome so precise measurement is necessary.

Procedure

Get two bowls or containers. In one, combine flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar. In the other, whisk the egg with the milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract.

Segregated, like the US in the 1950's

Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients (not the other way around!). This is to avoid the formation of flour lumps in your pancakes. What you want to to is pour a couple of tablespoonfuls of liquid in at a time, and stirring to incorporate as much of the dry ingredients as possible. After the first few tablespoonfuls of liquid you should be able to stir together something like a dry dough. Stir that around several times to smooth out the mixture. Then add the rest of the ingredients to create a smooth batter.

Integrated, like US schools after Brown vs Board of Education. Except today there are still a lot of segregated schools which would be like... if this batter still had a lot of lumps. This metaphor is going nowhere.

Looks great! Stir in the chocolate chips and heat up your pan/griddle. You want it pre-heated to about medium-high and hot BEFORE you add any pancake batter. Drop batter 4 tablespoons per pancake onto the hot pan surface. Pancakes cook really really fast, so I didn’t have time to take any pictures. Sorry. Mine came out kind of crappy because I recently ruined the surface of my non-stick pan and am now using a large pot, which makes cooking kind of awkward.

Let the pancakes sit until you start seeing bubbles on the surface. Count out ten seconds, then flip the pancakes and cook for roughly twenty seconds or so. The entire process takes only about a minute. Pancakes should have a smooth golden brown surface on one side and a rough golden-ish brown surface on the other. Serve warm. If you want to get fancy, serve with powdered sugar, maybe some fruit on the side, and a glass of milk.

Look kind of like hamburger buns from this lighting

Conclusion

There it is, two recipes, one savory, one sweet. The oatmeal recipe may be a bit unorthodox for some peoples’ tastes, but pancakes are loved by all. I don’t really have a rating for the dishes, probably around a 4-4.5 for both.

I’d like to end this installment on a sad note. Shortly after I made the pancakes, my room mate’s dog got to them so I was only able to eat one before the rest got destroyed. Luckily the dogs didn’t eat much of the chocolate parts so I’m (probably) safe from getting sued for poisoning them. But man, fucking dogs can be so dumb sometimes.