Showing posts from 2009

TV: Dinner With The Band

I just watched Dinner With The Band on IFC. You know, that Sam Mason (WD50 alumni and ex-Tailor chef/owner) TV show. This show will not resonate with a lot of traditional jerk off to food porn types that tune into the food network. But I suspect that IFC watching crowd that watch The Rollins Show, and watched Dinner For Five might have found a new show to glom onto. In fact, I think the show might be a pretty even mix of both, plus... uhm... cooking. What You Might Not Like The show is more about the music than it is about the food. It is far from being an instructional cooking show, and if you don't like the band, you are unlikely to make it through the episode. Right now, this is really a live music show with a chef-host. If it were my show, which it clearly isn't I would tip the scales to feature a little more cooking. Most people that tune in will know who Sam Mason is and not know who the band is. What I Really Liked Inside of the cooking segments are the mechani

TGRWT #20: Pumpkin and Cooked Chicken

This month's TGRWT is being hosted by John Sconzo over at docsconz . There is some good discussion this page as to the definition of 'Cooked Chicken', and I think the conclusion was, as opposed to roasted (as opposed to Raw Chicken). This is one of those pairings that is a little easier to combine, and google will refer people to all kinds of recipes from different cultures. Some commonalities will include: Rice dishes. Chicken/Pumpkin Risotto? How about we move over a a bunch of time zones make it a Pulao. Curries/Sauces. Both ingredients hold up well with anything curry-like or even sauces like a mole. Soups/Stews. You can also use both of these ingredients in a soup or stew from any cuisine that has something kinda pumpkin'y/squashy. Pureed Pumpkin Soup topped with chicken. Both ingredients in a more simple stock. Anything goes. Use of Pumpkin Seeds. Awesome tossed with salt and some spices then roasted. Can be used as a garnish or as part of a sau

Ordering Technique Part I: The Screenplay

INT. ANY OVERPRICED RESTAURANT -- EVENING The restaurant is packed with beautiful people jammed into clothing that no human being should actually be able to fit in. At the table where these beautiful people will not have to be encumbered with his physicality, sit PABLO and his girlfriend PICKLED JALAPENO. PABLO is underdressed and waving his arms wildly as he is talking. PICKLED is trying to pay attention, but her phone is lighting up with text message after text message. PABLO If a tip is to (airquotes) "To Insure Proper Service" (cont) why do we do it at the end of a meal? You can't insure your house after it burns down. It's really To Reward Proper Service. T-R-P-S. It's tuh-errrpppss. PICKLED just stares at him, her eyes revealing that she is calculating the cost/benefit analysis of a nice dinner versus her ability to endure another evening with this raving lunatic. She looks over PABLO's shoulder noting that their waitress

Ordering Technique Part I: Servers As Advisors

There is nothing more infuriating than having someone scoop you on a topic you wanted to write about. Actually, that's not true. It is even more infuriating when someone gives it a really good treatment, like Adam Roberts, who had a great post over at The Amateur Gourmet about why you shouldn't ask your server for ordering advice at a restaurant. With a couple of exceptions, he breaks down a number of reasons for why you shouldn't ask "What's good?". Reasons like: all of the items on the menu should be good (at a certain level of restaurant), they can't know your palate or mood, and that you never know if you would have been happier with your own selection. He also mentions the social awkwardness of asking for a suggestion and then not ordering it. I think menus can be deceptive, descriptions are terse and sometimes inaccurate. At a restaurant you have never been to, your server is the only interactive window you have into the food. The real iss

NYPL: Achatz And Myhrvold

Sadly, I had this post mostly written for the better part of a year. I finally sat down, listened to the audio again and finished the post. It is important to note that this reflects my understanding and take on their conversation, and I am may have unintentionally misrepresented them. As mentioned previously , I had the privilege of attending "WIRED & LIVE present GRANT ACHATZ & NATHAN MYHRVOLD Moderated by Mark McClusky The Cutting Edge: Tales from the Culinary Frontier" way back in october. Of all the events I have attended recently, this was the only one with really good moderation. In attendance, I saw Jeffrey Steingarten, Tim Zagat, Alex and Aki from IDEAS IN FOOD , and even one of the teachers from cooking school. Best part of all of this is: you can listen to it yourself. Don't want to listen to it? Here were my take-aways: On The Beast That Shall Not Be Named Mark was pretty relentless in trying to get Grant and Nathan to discuss the labeling of

Carbonation Not Just A Sensation

When you are drinking that can of cola you aren't just feeling those tiny bubbles, you are also tasting them, according to a new paper entitled "The Taste Of Carbonation". From the press release: Ryba added that the taste of carbonation is quite deceptive. "When people drink soft drinks, they think that they are detecting the bubbles bursting on their tongue," he said. "But if you drink a carbonated drink in a pressure chamber, which prevents the bubbles from bursting, it turns out the sensation is actually the same. What people taste when they detect the fizz and tingle on their tongue is a combination of the activation of the taste receptor and the somatosensory cells. That's what gives carbonation its characteristic sensation." There are two crazy factoids here. The first is that the sensation is identical when the bubbles aren't bursting, which seems to defy logic. You'd think there would be some sensory difference. Second, somewhe

Sous Vide Supreme: One Small Step For Cooks...

If you read this blog then you know (and probably agree with me), that some form of sous-vide device is going to be the next microwave oven. It seems weird and scary to the general public today, but my great grandkids won't remember life before them. "Great Grand Pa-Pa, what does overcooked mean?" Ok, maybe a little far fetched, and, uhh, did my great grandkids grow up in Bavaria? But the first big step forward towards my utopian future will be available for pre-order on October 23rd. What is this, you ask? Why it's the Sous Vide Supreme , of course. SousVide Supreme With Rack Introductory pricing is going to be $399, which puts it between DIY style PID Controller like the Sous Vide Magic ($140)/Rice Cookers ($0-100) combo's and professional immersion circulators (~$1000). This price point is excellent news, because if a small company can produce them and make money at $449 MSRP, then when the Kenmore's of the world produce them, the price will


On my walk home today, I stopped underneath Katz's awning (or ledge, whatever that thing is) to get out of the wind and rain. Almost as soon as I ducked under the awning, a man with one of those secret service type ear things walked out holding a laminated sign. I watched as he tried to affix said laminated sign with some tape to one of the windows. Did I mention earlier that it was raining? Yah, didn't work too well. He finally managed to kind of get it stuck to the window, giving me a chance to finally read it. My dreams that the secret services were forcing Katz's to discount were quickly dashed as I read that they were filming Gene Simmons' reality TV show. Looking inside, I saw people crowding around Gene, gawking and taking pictures. While I was peering through the window to get a better look (never said i was better than those other gawkers), a guy leaves with his two sons. At least I hope they were his kids. EXT. KATZ'S DELICATESSEN - NIGHT It is rainin

TGRWT #19 Tomato and Tea: Round Up

Hi TGRWTers! Tomato and Tea seemed to have pretty mixed results. I think there is a tremendous number of possibilities with these two ingredients, especially with tea. Black tea has a bazillion different varieties, which: can be used to smoke, can be steeped into a liquid, added to a crust or rub, etc. Leanne Opaskar made a Lapsang Souchong Tomato Bisque and Sun-Dried Tomato Crostini . She writes: The soup is smooth, tomatoey, smokey, and pretty tasty. I'd like to play with the balance of flavors just a bit, because I'd like a little more depth with the clove and anise flavors. They're kind of swallowed up in the smokey tea taste. This is very satisfying for a first pass, though. The crostini are also tasty, but there's really not much tea flavor to them. I'm not quite sure how I'd play with that to improve it, but they taste good as it is. I didn't think about it at the time, but I should have saved the soaking liquid -- it would have made a f

TGRWT 19: Tomato And Black Tea

Special Note: We are extending the TGRWT#19 deadline to October 5th! Hot on the heels of TGRWT18 , Martin Lersch was  foolish  kind enough to let me host TGRWT 19. In case you've forgotten, They Go Really Well Together ( TGRWT ) is a challenge where you are encouraged to find creative ways of pairing flavors (that may sound unusual) but have one or more key odorants in common. I've written and quasi-contributed to TGRWT several times, mostly cause I think it gets you thinking about food. If Michael Pollan is right , then now more than ever we need ways to inspire people to actually cook. This isn't a competition, as such there can be no winner and there will be no fabulous prizes. But, maybe, just maybe, you can use this to get your creative juices going, and find your way back into your poor, neglected kitchen. I wanted to choose common ingredients that were familiar, seasonal and could still be exciting for people to riff on. I also wanted to choose things


first things first. this is built on the shoulders of others . [caption id="attachment_336" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="prosciutto consomme"] [/caption] fat's rendered. stock's clarified. notes on prosciutto: Obtain Hocks. ask deli person about the hocks. don't let them slice it. also, sometimes you can get the superior quality prosciutto in hock form for the same price as the lesser ones. fortune favors the bold. Trim Fat and Render. rendered prosciutto fat is amazing. you also get prosciutto cracklings if that's your thing. i popped the cracklings into the oven afterwards. Boyle ye meats. you are going to think you want to add other flavors, but put the bay leaf down. be careful not to overcook. it goes from tasting like prosciutto to not in the blink of an eye (Optional) Clarify. i'm still weeks behind the interweb and using gelatin clarification. risotto made with prosciutto stock? sv or

Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch Reflections

Michael Pollan wrote a pretty excellent article on the rise of food related television programming contrasted with the decline of home cooking. You should read it now and then come back and finish reading this. I don't even mind if you don't come back. When I read the article, I started thinking about how much of our cultural identities are passed down by home cooked meals. When families get busier (e.g. both parents working, single parents), we have the potential to lose our cultural identity. I have been thinking about what I ate as a kid, and I cannot remember a meal cooked by either of my parents that reflected our heritage. I remember baked sole, burgers, some kind of orange chicken dish, and tv/microwave dinners. This is probably a social indictment, and/or an indictment of my all too frail memory, rather than my parents. They raised 2.75 children (I was 1.75 of a child, especially when measured in units of trouble). We just don't have time to cook. As a res

The Molecular Gastronomy Nomenclature Debate

Molecular Gastronomy often refers to a form of modern cuisine characterized by use of newer ingredients, techniques and equipment. Many industry folks really dislike the name, preferring Technoemotional, Spanish Avante Garde, Modernism or more truthfully, not being labelled at all. Dave Arnold sums up the reasons for this, but I will condense it for you here: Offputting. Molecular gastronomy does not sound delicious. I think this is also why most chefs that find themselves in this bucket don't want it to apply to them. Out of all the reasons, this one is of particular concern. The term discourages people from trying the food, as it sounds like food with chemical additives and that's scary. Too encompassing. Many of the chefs that fall into this bucket. Dave's example is comparing WD~50 and Alinea. Which I actually think is a bad (or good) example, because the average diner is not going to be nuanced enough to understand the different approaches Grant and Wylie

Calçotada: A Catalan Allium Bacchanal

The Calçot is a scallion varietal that is grown in Catalonia. Commonly accepted folklore (e.g. Wikipedia) tells us that Xat de Benaiges, a Catalan farmer, grew Calçots by covering the edible part in dirt. This induces a phenomenon called etiolation. There I go again using one of those sexy food words. Etiolation occurs when plants don't receive sunlight, preventing chlorophyll from forming, keeping them a pale white color. This is the same process used to create white asparagus. A similar process, that involves burying me in work, is used to induce etiolation in Pablo. The Catalans or Catalonians as they would probably rather not be called, throw barbeque like parties called Calçotada's, where calçots are grilled over dried vines and then smothered in sauce and eaten while drinking ridiculous amounts of wine. I don't live in Spain, which makes me sad for a whole host of reasons. But fortunately, in my own neighborhood, I discovered: Wintered leeks (about as close as y

Zero Effort Pulpo A La Gallego

Octopus is a notoriously finicky ingredient. You are usually battling flavor and texture. As McGee writes : The recipes themselves are all over the map with their advice for making octopus tender. Salting is essential to tenderness, or fatal; brief dips in boiling water tenderize, or long slow cooling, or a rubbing with grated daikon, or the addition of a wine cork to the cooking liquid. McGee continues to perform his own experiments with which he does come up with two ways to prepare octopus. Brine/simmer and self-braise at low temp. While I am sure they both work really well, I found that sous vide is hands down the way to go. And it makes sense, because it is sort of like a self braise. One of the best things about cooking Octopus is that you can cook it at a temperature perfect for cooking vegetables. Starches break down around 80C, while pectin doesn't break down until around 85C. And when I think Octopus and starches I most certainly think of Pulpo A La Gallego. Pulpo

easiest way to enjoy octopus.

olive oil, salt, lemon juice. 180F. drop and go to work.

TGRWT17 Redux: Apple/Rose

Two months in a row with rose based food pairings. This time it's Apple/Rose. It is pretty hard to get around the whole persian/middle eastern connection. So I am not going to shock you with MORABAA-YEH SEEB , an apple jam with citrus (usually lime, sometimes lemon) and rosewater. Will you be dazzled with the Rose Scented Apple Pie ? What if I were to tell you of a tree that produces a fruit called the Rose Apple, which is neither Rose nor Apple and is yet reminiscent of both? That's right... the Syzygium jambos produces a fruit that is according to some random sources on the internet both apple and rose like. The above picture comes from here , where you can also find some recipes. I think when: nature itself the ancient persians, and the mother-f'n food network have managed to combine the two flavors, we can call this pairing a lay up.



Blog Migration

I am going to be moving to Blogger soonish. To minimize disruption, I am going to ask that you make sure that you are subscribed to Medellitin via FeedBurner . Sorry, but isn't doing it for me anymore. mgmt

Food Cliche: Spring

It must be spring, because i just saw {ramps, morels, fiddleheads} at the farmer's market. If you wrote this in 2009, you need some new material.

Thoughts on TGRWT16: Chicken and Rose

TGRWT-16 was Chicken and Rose. I am pretty late to the party on posting this, but the gears of work are grinding away at my free time. However, I did make a note to myself: I am sure there is a persian or middle eastern recipe for this already. Something old school. Googling around, I did manage to find a recipe: Take Orenges or Lemmons pilled, and cutte them the long way, and if you can keepe your cloves whole and put them into your best broth of Mutton or Capon with prunes and currants and three or fowre dates, and when these have beene well sodden put whole pepper, great mace, a good peece of suger, and some rose water, and either white or claret Wine, and let all these seeth together a while, & so serve it upon soppes with your capon. So old school, this recipe is simply called "To Boile A Capon With Orenges And Lemmons" and which according to the some random site on the internet was first published in the 1594 classic cookbook, The Good Huswife's Handmaide Fo

Spherification and Molecular Gastronomy

A lot people involved in Molecular Gastronomy (the modern cooking revolution, Modernism, Molecular Cooking, Techo-Emoti{ve,onal} Cooking) use the term spherification to describe the technique of forming food into spheres. Some folks hate the term Molecular Gastronomy (for many reasons, some good, some bad) and rail against its use to describe a style of cooking. A lot of energy is expended debating the term, or attempting to change this part of the culinary zeitgeist. While it rails against one word, it invents another. That's right. Spherification is not a word. The closest Merriam Webster provides (in Mar. 2009) is: sphere Function: transitive verb Inflected Form(s): sphered; spher·ing Date: 1602 1 : to place in a sphere or among the spheres : ensphere 2 : to form into a sphere Do I really care about this? No, I actually like that language is fluid and that made up words can become real words. Up next, actual spherification sphering.

Saturday Shopping: The Parsnip

This picture speaks for itself.

Top Chef: 3 Steps To Predicting The Loser

DISCLAIMER: READING THIS BLOG POST MAY RUIN TOP CHEF FOR YOU FOREVER. IF YOU DON'T LIKE SAUSAGE, DON'T TOUR SAUSAGE FACTORIES. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. I started to reliably predict who was going to be eliminated around season two of Top Chef. This isn't because I am a super genius, it's on top of me being a super genius. If you think about competition-based, reality television, each episode is a story with a winner and a loser. The winner and loser of an hour long television show are likely to get more airtime. When there is someone going home, it is in their best interest to make you as invested in that person as possible. This breaks down to three simple rules: The loser is the star of the episode. The star needs facetime early and often. The star of the show needs to have in-episode strife. Today's episode (Season 5, Episode 7) is a great example. While livetweeting (f'ing shoot me now, I livetweeted something), I called Gene and Melissa being elimina

What's grosser than gross?

A: My Next Blog Post.

Altered Tastes: Unholy Mackerel

It is really uncomfortable to admit my love for fishing. Even before I started my culinary love affair with fish, I have always enjoyed the simple pleasure of casting a line out into the water and waiting for something to happen. And waiting. and waiting. Most of my angling experiences were in a southern Vermont lake, teeming with perch, large and small mouth bass, and trout. In the ten years we went up there, I think we caught about three fish that the state would allow you to keep. In later years, I would occasionally get out on the ocean, mostly in New England and primarily blues and stripers. Just before new years I had the chance to go ocean fishing in the Florida Keys. According to our first mate, are likely to catch (in order of my personal preference): Blackfin Tuna, Grouper, Wahoo, Mackerel, King Mackerel, Sailfish, Barracuda. As luck would have it, we caught about 15 fish in three hours, which was mostly barracuda, king mackerel and 1.5 Mackerel. "One point five&