Gordon Ramsay Out, Anthony Bourdain In

I admit it, I find chefs sexy.  (Real actual chefs, not that guy you know that thinks he’s a culinary genius because he mixed horseradish and mayonnaise together and put it on a roast beef sandwich.)  It’s something about the hard work, long hours and dedication to a art that gets, well… eaten.  As a good friend of mine who is a professional chef who specializes in wedding cakes once told me, in his darkest hours of depression he thinks about how all his hard work always ends up in the toilet.

I had a major thing for Gordon Ramsay for awhile, but I have to be honest with him and let him know that our short-lived romance is over as I have found someone new:  Anthony Bourdain.

Anthony’s not new to me – I read his book, Kitchen Confidential, years ago. And I always watch his Travel Channel show, No Reservations, when I get a chance.  But, something’s changed.  Maybe it’s that he’s getting older and not quite so arrogant and in-your-face rude.  Now, he’s just smart and biting and a little bit more mellow.

Gordon, on the other hand, has turned into a media whore as well as a literal one.  I mean, how many different cooking/restaurant shows can you have on the FOX network?  And, they’re all the same:  He gets some dolt who either doesn’t know how to cook or doesn’t know how to run a restaurant and he screams and yells at them for an hour.  If I wanted to listen to screaming and yelling that much, I’d just go home and visit my parents.  And, after proclaiming to anyone who would listen what a great family man he is, he gets caught snogging some babes in the hotels attached to his restaurants around the world!  Smooth move, Gordon – considering that your father-in-law owns half of your companies.  Bet that has been awkward at the old board meeting.

Anyway, I have officially replaced Gordon on my Chef Do List with Tony – FYI.  Plus, this picture is hot.

Gelatin is Back, Baby!

You know how one generation finds things that they think are “new” and it’s really just a retread from two generations back?  Kind of like how the 20-somethings these days are drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon and Manhattans like my grandfather did?  Well, the same goes for food, I guess, and it seems that that scary obsession of mine is making a comeback: Scary Gelatin Recipes

I was looking through the latest issue of Saveur magazine and there, on page 36 was the first photo of a vegetable-suspended-in-gelatin-loaf recipe that has been published in the last 40 years.  Accompanying such photo was a glowing and rather romantic essay touting the beauty of this disgusting product.

I try and think of myself as a foodie, but I’m sorry –  I can’t eat this crap – I don’t care if Grant Achatz himself made it.  Jello is a nothing short of gross and is good for nothing other than delivering Everclear into your body via a paper cup.  The End.

See Saveur article here, along with recipe for above “Perfection Salad.”

My Love for the Chicken

Can I please tell you that I love this stuff so much, I just slather it on bread and eat it?  I love hot sauce in general, but this stuff is the bomb.  Where have you been all my life, Huy Fong?

The first time I ever had this was when I was doing a week-long river rafting tour down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho a few years ago.  We had these awesome guides that would set up our tents each night and cook us three incredible meals a day while we fished , hiked and rafted all day.  The first morning at breakfast, the main guide was putting out the spread and was worried because he couldn’t find ‘the chicken sauce.”  I was getting worried because the last thing I’m eating for breakfast is eggs with chicken sauce as I  have a serious problem with eggs and chicken in the same meal – it seems wrong on many levels.  Turns out “the chicken sauce” was Huy Fong brand Siriacha chili sauce.  He found it, I tried it, and I’ve probably consumed 10 gallons of it since then.

The sauce is a Vietnamese-inspired sauce made from red jalapeño peppers, garlic, sugar, salt and vinegar invented by Huy Fong Food’s founder, David Tran.  He took the sauce one step further by making it his own concoction and marketed it a “sauce for everyone” instead of just for the Asian community.   There have been many imitators over the years, but no one beats Huy Fong brand.

I eat it on everything: soups, sandwiches, pizza, potatoes, sushi – you name it.  But, for some reason (must be the rooster on the label) it goes the best with eggs in any form.  Now, if they make a cocktail out of this, I may have to give up the rum.

Just kidding.

( If you’re interested, here’s an interesting article about the sauce, from the New York Times from last year._

Cheddar Paella: Take That, Spain!

I just realized that it’s been awhile since I posted one of my vintage recipes.  What was I thinking? Oh, and I’ve had a few comments berating me for not including the actual recipe and just making fun of them.  Because I guess you really want to make what I am considering a disgusting abomination of food, right?  Well, I guess I’m one to pander to my few fans  – I will now include the recipe itself.

Well, here is one in honor of the Olympics beginning today:  the Cheddar Paella.  Nothing like taking Spain’s National Dish and ruining it by putting  a couple of cups of Kraft Cheddar all over it!  Using margarine, bouillon cubes and not using olive oil are also somewhat of an atrocity.  Why not just call it “Cheezy Seafood Casserole” and avoid the offense? The saddest part is that the picture actually has the paella in an authentic paella dish, so you can’t chalk this one up to not knowing what they are messing with.

America, fuck yeah!

CHEDDAR PAELLA
from the 1973 McCalls Great American Recipe Card Collection

Serves 6 to 8

INGREDIENTS
1 dozen small clams, in shell
2 lb shrimp, deveined and shelled
4 Tbs salad oil
1 Tbs margarine
1 cup long grain white rice
1 tsp salt
1 bay leaf
1 chicken bouillon cube
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
2 green peppers, seeded and finely chopped
2 large tomatoes. peeled
½ cup pimiento green olives, sliced
2 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 ½ cup grated cheddar cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. Wash clams and shrimp thoroughly.  Place clams in saucepan with 6 cups water; bring to boiling.  Ad shrimp; cook over high heat 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.
  2. Pour off enough shellfish liquid to make 2 ¼ cups.  Set aside clams and shrimp in remaining broth. Keep warm.
  3. Heat 2 Tbs salad oil and butter in 3-quart saucepan.  Add rice and stir to coat well.  Add reserved 2 ¼ cups liquid, salt, bay leaf and bouillon cube; bring to boiling; reduce heat and simmer, covered without stirring, 25 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 375F.  Meanwhile, in 2 Tbs hot oil in 6 quart Dutch oven, sauté garlic, onion and green pepper until green pepper is tender, about 10 minutes.
  5. Chop tomatoes, add to sautéed vegetables with olives, paprika and cayenne pepper; cook 5 minutes longer.  Keep warm.
  6. Drain shellfish, add with rice to tomato mixture; stir gently to blend.  Turn into paella pan or shallow 4-quart casserole pan.
  7. Sprinkle cheese over top and bake 10-15 minutes in preheated oven until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Christmas Eve Menu 2009

Well, another Christmas Eve down the hatch – and yet another disaster to write about.  I was worried about the ovens – we ended up fixing them in a very “creative” way and I was worried about them working correctly when all 4 ovens are on at the same time.  I discovered through trial and error that if I wanted the oven at 375, I had to turn it to 400 and then down to 375 for if I just put it to 375 it would go to about 300 and turn off.  A great way to cook a $125 piece of meat, right?

Anyway, it turned out I was worrying about the wrong thing as we had an ice storm Christmas Eve and our electricity went our for three hours about 20 minutes before we were supposed to eat.  When this happened I have to admit, I yelled FUCK about three different ways in front of children and my 80 year old mother in law.  I couldn’t believe it!   Luckily, the beef tenderloin in the oven was pretty much done, and the other beef tenderloin was on the grill,  so no problems there.  But, I couldn’t bake the dinner rolls, properly re-heat the twice baked potatoes and the roasted cauliflower got mushy since it was sitting around too long, so that was kind of a disaster.  I was glad that we were all eating by dim candlelight, because everyone was raving about the meat but I know that had they seen it, they would be screaming, well, bloody murder.  Oh well, funny how alcohol + darkness = fabulous meal.  And everyone forgot about my F-bomb… I think.

Happy Holidays everyone!

CHRISTMAS EVE DINNER 2009

Justin Wilson’s Holiday Cheese Ball

Grilled Beef Tenderloin with Rosemary & Red Peppercorns
Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Garlic Parsley Butter Crust

Chateaubriand Sauce

Roasted Cauliflower

Twice-Baked Potatoes

Sandy Salad
(a favorite by my friend Sandy – will post recipe soon)

Dinner Rolls
(never made!)

Hot Chocolate & Christmas Cookies

From Adam to Zane

Meet the hosts of my new favorite two shows: Man vs. Food and Three Sheets. Adam Richman (left, above) hosts Man vs. Food on the Travel Channel where in each episode he travels to a different city, stops by a couple of local joints to eat some junk food, then finishes each episode with a cringe-inducing food challenge, such as eating a 8 lb. giant hamburger or eating 20 super hot wings in 20 minutes.  Most of the time he wins the challenge, and it makes me almost throw up watching him.  Yet, I cannot look away.  (Fellow Travel Channel host/chef Anthony Bourdain was recently quoted as asking someone at the network, “”Did this guy sign a 30-page liability waiver? You’re going to kill this guy!”)  I’ve also noticed that he seems to have gained a considerable amount of weight between seasons this year, although he claims to work out twice a day while on the road and wear the same size pants as when he auditioned. Not sure I’m buying that. Coming in 2011:  Man vs. Echocardiogram.

Zane Lamprey hosts the fun and informative Three Sheets on the FLN Network (I know: the what network?  Never heard of it before this show…) where in each episode he travels to a different country, stops by a couple of joints to drink different alcoholic drinks that the region is known for, then ends each episode showing us all the fun he had while getting drunk during each trip, like drinking marijuana in Jamacia and lots of champagne in France. The difference is the Three Sheets show actually teaches you something about the region and/or the drink being consumed, so at the end of the episode you feel like your learning something instead of like on Man vs. Food where you feel dirty for watching a man stuff 10 lbs of food down his gullet. I’m sure you can figure out which one of these jobs I would like to have.

Frankly, I think they should just combine these two shows into an hour-long glut-fest of drinking and eating.  Kind of like Thanksgiving every episode!  Zane could drink until he passes out, and Adam could give us lessons on how they put together the 6 lb burrito he just ate.  Although Zane is cuter, Adam is funnier, so together they could be the perfect host.

And put it on a network I’ve heard of…  are you listening Bravo?

The Scam of the Ovens

Okay, so as you may or may not have gathered, my two double-ovens have died.  After a few years of strange problems, the fine 1994 Thermador motherboards have fried themselves.  I find it more than odd that both ovens died at the exact same time, but our handy repairman has told us that we can salvage some parts from the main ovens to fix the basement ovens for the time being.  This means I get to buy a new oven!

It’s kind of a sad statement that I have gone through life this far and have never bought a new appliance in my life, especially an oven.  So, imagine my surprise when I saunter in to my local oven shoppe and soon realize that all built-in ovens are completely different lengths!  Yes, there is no spec as far as oven sizes go.  Oh, sure – the widths are standardized: 24″, 27″, 30″ – but the lengths are a free-for-all!  That makes perfect fucking sense, right?

The saleslady told me that they do it so that you basically have to replace your old oven with the same brand.  Oh, not so fast!  Not that I want another Thermador considering all the problems I have had with them over the years, but when I went to spec them out, none of them will fit in my overly-small cutout either!  All I went in for was to buy a replacement oven, and I walked out with nothing except the sales person telling me that they also do cabinet refinishing in case I have to rearrange my whole cabinet system because I need to cut a bigger fucking hole for the new ovens.

So, now I am searching in vein for a good quality double-oven that is no longer than 48″ and may be contemplating sending the motherboards in to an “oven hacker” who can supposedly fix it for $500.

It’s a fucking oven!  It just needs to heat up to the temperature I want and stay there until I turn it off!  WTF?????