Friday, November 6, 2009

Wednesday Test Kitchen – Long Overdue

Sorry, this took awhile, but I’ve got a logjam of stuff I guess to post, so this will be first of the stuff.

So a few weeks ago, some friends and I went fishing and we caught a pretty well sized Striper in the Suisun Bay.  Here’s a look at the sucker with my buddy Ben:

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I think the fish measured out to around 31 inches and it was probably close to 10-12 lbs.  During out boat ride (sucks I don’t have pictures of this), I performed ike jime on the mofo while it was still pumping its dear heart out.  Here are some pics of the cuts that we had for sashimi, and ceviche.  To say that they were impeccably bloodless, translucent white, and clean tasting is an understatement.  We grilled the other half to perfection.

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I didn’t bother with taking pics of our food, but here is what we had:

Striper Sashimi, Striper Ceviche with Granny Smith Apples and Grilled Striper.

With the bones, collar and the head, I roasted them and made a fumet.  Well, I ended up eating most of the collar, so we’ll scratch that out.

With the fumet, I add Japanese yam for some sweetness, but mainly to build a broth that has a tinge of that earthy sweetness.  The yams (still whole after cooked in the stock) are mashed and mixed with a small amount of milk.  The end result is:

Striper Fumet Ube Soup (kinda fun to say)

Pics:

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A couple of other Test Kitchen dishes:

Pork Chops with Bacon White Bean Puree and Ong Greens & Enoki Mushroom “Noodles”

Sauteed Chicken Hearts with Maitake Mushrooms and Andouille Sausage

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Greatest Show On Earth

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You too can see Guy Fieri’s shit Roadshow for as little as $28 or if you go with the “Off Da Hook” package, you’re guaranteed:

Off Da Hook Package Includes (MUST be 21+ older):
-1 Seat On Stage
-Tour Laminate
-Copy of Guy’s New Book
-2 Squirt Bottles
-Pre-Show Meet and Greet

Linkage: here.

Wow.  I could barely contain my enthusiasm for such a fantastic offer.  Grand total cost of this wonderful night of joy: $253.00. 

A few things that I can’t understand are: why must you be 21+ to meet him and why does anyone want 2 squirt bottles? 

This is the event description I got off my ticketmaster email:

“The famous Food Network Chef is bringing his first-ever culinary tour to a city near you with the Guy Fieri Roadshow. Don’t miss this two-hour Food-a-palooza as Guy marries mouth-watering fare and rock-‘n’-roll while he gets away with everything they won’t let him do on TV!

Look for great seats to catch all the action or get up close with one of these tasty ticket packages.”

Holy shit man, food and rock-and-roll go together like PB&J, right?   You too could have both things and lessons on how to bleach your upper chin hair and make pink smoothies at the same time. 

Oh yeah, take all that good stuff and add “everything they won’t let him do on TV.”  Too bad I don’t know what that means, but I’m pretty sure you’re not going to get your money’s worth unless he’s humping a goat or taking it from a donkey – even then, it’d be a show for an entirely different crowd. 

To put things in perspective, with less than $253 dollars, you could do something like:

Dine at Alinea, buy the Alinea cookbook, possibly meet the chef, buy two squirt bottles, buy the Fieri cookbook and burn it with some free matches.

P.S. Maybe the squirt bottles are for putting out the flames and ashes.  Show producers are so smart.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Fantasy Cooking League – Cook Ratings

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I was in a pointless but rather fun discussion with a couple of friends of mine the other night. We somehow started debating the idea of 1). restaurant cooking as a sport and 2). physical ratings for cooks - whether or not there is such a thing as physical advantages that make a cook better than another of equal skill level. The hypothetical discussion was really centered on some different examples. For instance, take a physically bigger cook: does he naturally have a physical advantage with butchering that makes him better than a smaller cook with the same experience level? Other examples that we argued included a cook with longer nimble fingers who could be assumed to be “naturally” better at making dumplings/dough shapes.

I’m sure repetition and experience is the ultimate development of talent, but I’m thoroughly convinced that no matter how much time I put in, my hand paws could never put the fine touches on making dumplings like my grandmother’s longer thinner fingers could. Like I said, it was really a pointless conversation, but I thought it’d be kind of fun to make a ratings guide or judging game for cooks. And if you play an EA Sports type game like Madden, you might recognize some of the categories… onwards:


The Basics:

Speed: The basic judge of how fast you can consistently go in a kitchen when it comes to prep, cleaning, mis-en-place, etc..

Endurance: How long you can maintain your speed.

Accuracy: Going fast means nothing, if your cuts look like you were using a hacksaw. Oh yeah, the salmon tastes like cardboard.

Power/Strength: Are you the puny guy that can’t lift the deep hotel pan alone or are you the beefcake that pours out the hot oil every other night?

Agility: How well you juggle multiple pans, navigate behind other cooks/chefs and avoid hot pans running right at you while ducking back and forth in your own station


The Finer Points:

Hands: How well you do peel, cut, catch, mold, press, position and handle items, e.g. the skills to make dumplings, samosas, pinch pie crusts, stretch out pizza

Coordination: Naturally clumsy people are not very useful in the kitchen obviously. Fumbling eggs are bad, fumbling hot trays are worse.

Palate: You might think it tastes right, but too bad everyone else is scraping their tongue over the garbage can.

Touch: No more obvious than the difference between medium and medium rare.


The Intangibles:

Teamwork: Are you the disgruntled guy watching everyone burn or are you trying to save someone from the weeds?

Awareness: Do you even know who’s in the weeds? Stop leaning on your station, wipe something.

Toughness: Ouch, it burns… or… ouch, it burns so good baby?

Coaching: The ability to coach and the ability to learn and be coached.

Chemistry: Look around - if you don’t like anyone, then in all likeliness, nobody likes you either.

Clutch: When it comes to being on top of your shit during game time, are you the rock or are you the sand? The difference between the guy who walks away when he’s done cleaning or the guy helping everyone else finish at the same time.


The Random:

Equipment: Your tools, your clothes.

Professionalism: Work is work, play is play. Learn to keep it in the pants buddy.

Appearance: I don’t want to eat the fleas of your pube-y looking beard or your blood stained apron.

Cleanliness: Nails, hands, hair, bodily fluids – the less the better.

Attitude: Go Big or Go Home.



To make a fun profile, tally up your scores on a rating of (1-100) for each category and then divide everything by 2 to get your overall. What do you think your rating is?