"Perhaps the most impressive of all the cookbook blogs are the three devoted to the 2004 edition of Gourmet magazine's "The Gourmet Cookbook" -- all 5¼ pounds and 1,300-odd recipes of it. Befitting this culinary Everest, all three writers are overachievers in their professional lives."

--Lee Gomes, The Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2008
"I should have told you before how much I've been enjoying reading your thoughts. You seem like such a great cook."

--Ruth Reichl, Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine, June 8 2008, comment on "Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream".

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Creamy Slaw

Hey, doesn't that coleslaw look nice? I didn't make it! Somebody at Worldwide Gourmet did! Thank you Worldwide Gourmet for letting me use this picture without asking!

Why do I not have a picture of my own coleslaw? Because if you read the prior post you will see that I was in a big freakin' hurry to put this dinner together and so had no time for the niceties of photography, but don't we all love the internet where you can find all kinds of imagery, even imagery you're really not expecting. For example, I entered Creamy Slaw into the Google, and on the first page there were a few pictures of coleslaw on its own, and the rest were pictures of coleslaw on HOT DOGS. What is the deal with that? Everybody knows the only proper topping for hot dogs is sauerkraut because it's the best at masking the flavor of the hot dogs, especially if there is some really spicy mustard to go along with it.

Although it must be said that in Salem last weekend (home of Halloween wackiness this time of year) I had a pretty good hot dog--I was upsold to some kind of all beef hot dog which was truly the most hugely massive hot dog I've ever seen (I couldn't finish it--O'Malley did) and it was actually juicy, which is an experience I've never had with a hot dog. And now this whole post is making me uncomfortable because of the whole imagery thing and Jeez you people have dirty minds!!! Stop it!!

But back to the Creamy Slaw, believe it or not I still had some cabbage kicking around from earlier in the summer (hooray for veggies that have holding power!) and figured a) perfect opportunity to use it up b) because it's perfect with fried fish.

If you've made coleslaw before this will probably be familiar to you--this is the creamy slaw we all know and love from our childhoods. which is to say that it's pretty much equal parts mayo and sour cream w/ a little cider vinegar, salt and pepper. Best for me, NO SUGAR. I hatehatehate coleslaw that is sweet, which is why I usually eschew the coleslaw option from restaurants and supermarkets. What is wrong with people that they have to ruin a perfectly good salad with sugar?

I was also happy about this recipe because I got to use some late-appearing green peppers from some containers on our deck. Local cabbage AND peppers! How awesome is that?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Cheddar Pecan Crackers

Really, these were more like Cheddar Pecan Cookies. Why? Because as per usual when I'm throwing a dinner party I'm in a screaming hurry, working at top speed, and when I spotted the directions to flatten each ball into a 1 1/2 inch disc I said Feh and threw them in the oven instead.

Oh but let's back up...why the dinner party and wherefore?

So you'll remember I'm in this fish co-op, right? Like a farm share thingy but with fish? I was in it over the summer (you may recall me complaining about icky fish guts) and decided that all that fish every week was too much so I split my half share with my friend Elizabeth for the fall. But still, every two weeks, we get A LOT OF FREAKIN FISH...so, survey says, time for a dinner party!

This past week it was a gigantic pollack. You don't find out what the fish is until about two hours before you go pick it up, but I've pretty much decided that the best way to handle most forms of fish is to dredge them in a batter of cormmeal + potato starch, hot hungarian paprika + salt, mixed with either beer or lime seltzer water and then deep fry it. So by the way when I say I'm working at top speed it means besides all these recipe type things I am chopping up a gigantic whole fish. Well, not chopping it up. That sounds so inelegant. I mean I am (as they say in the business) breaking it down. And I have a fish rack (complete with head) cuddled up next to the ice cream in the freezer, even now.

OK, cheddar pecan crackers. People who eat at my house on a regular basis (you know who you are) know that I rarely bother with apps, and very often not dessert either. It's like--booze, and then dinner. With more booze.

BUT. In my quest to get people to help me eat this fish I happened to be communicating with somebody from work who helps me out A LOT and I said, hey, why don't you come help us eat this fish and bring your girlfriend too?

And then I thought, shit. There was much to-do when I first came on to my job about me being a chef, and these folks are going to be expecting something more than fried fish and coleslaw. I mean, I guess I have a reputation to maintain!

So I made a little game plan, which was roasted pepitas (which I had in the freezer), cheddar pecan crackers, a veg dish which Elizabeth was going to bring, creamy coleslaw, fried fish, cherry tomatoes and lemon semolina cake with raspberries. That's do-able, right? In 2.5 hrs?

Anyway, this is where you came in. Me in a screaming hurry, throwing un-flattened cheddar pecan crackers into the oven.

So let's talk about the actual recipe here. Epicurious has it, and you can see that it's got a nice short ingredient list with nothing too weird. You beat the butter and cheddar together until they're smooth (hooray, btw, for cabot x-sharp shredded cheddar)--this placed considereable strain on my mixer and I had to fiddle around a lot with speed and so forth. Finally I threw the egg yolk in there to loosen it up and that helped. I blanched a little bit at the 1/2 tsp. of cayenne but what the hey--throw that in with salt, flour and chopped pecans and mix it all up. If I were doing this again I would definitely use my Kitchen Aid with the paddle attachment.

Then they say "roll rounded teaspoons of dough into balls" Hahahahahaha--how about a little mini-scoop with a release bar instead? Sounds about right for the chef on the autobahn of food prep. In a calmer moment I might chill the dough and try the rolling/flattening thing--the warm dough is super-sticky.

And, these were really really good, even in their cookie-not-cracker state! Taste--awesome--sharp and spicy, and full of pecan. Classic taste combo--perfect for a party. Keep it in mind for the holidays, folks! And stay tuned for Creamy Coleslaw and Lemon Semolina Cake with Raspberries.


Fran, I have not forgotten you! Busy composing a dirty limerick about cooking and blogging. Keep your eyes on the mailbox!

Jessica, send me your mailing address!!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Mexican Hot Chocolate and....Contest Winners!!!!

OK, the exciting stuff first! Not that Mexican Hot Chocolate isn't exciting--it certainly IS, especially on a cold blustery day.

But who doesn't like a winner?!? And here we have not one, but two!

The Grand Prize Winner is Fran of Frantastic Food, who will be receiving a copy of the new Gourmet Today, and the first runner up is Jessica of The Joy of The Joy of Cooking, who will be receiving the mini-Gourmet Today that I got way back in the wintertime!

Congratulations, you two! If you send me your mailing addresses, I'll write dirty limericks in them and pop them in the mail post-haste.


One of the most exciting things about Mexican Hot Chocolate (aside from drinking it) was the excuse to go out and buy an exotic form of chocolate.

I'd been hearing about Mexican chocolate for years, usually in the types of venues that also say things like "you can use regular oregano instead of Mexican oregano, but it won't be the same". So yes, this recipe suggests that you find some Mexican chocolate like Ibarra...and since I happen to have the spiffy food store Lula's Pantry right down the street from me, I trotted down there and bought some.

Of course I could hardly wait to open up this mysterious chocolate--with hints of cinnamon, it says!--and try it.

This is not your ordinary chocolate! For one thing, it comes in round tablets, and for another thing, it's completely mixed up with granulated sugar! See that whiteness on the edge of the break? That's cut sugar.

So here's the thing about all this sugar mixed in with the chocolate--it makes for kind of a chalky eating experience if you're just nom-ing it right out of the wrapper. BUT--all of that sugar, evenly spaced throughout all of that chocolate goodness makes for brilliant MELTING capabilities--super fast! Swiss Miss, who needs you when we've got Ibarra for our hot chocolate needs???

Here's the rundown for making Mexican Hot Chocolate, and I'm doing this from memory because it's not online and also my neighbor Don borrowed Gourmet Today to make an Indian dinner for our book group last week (OH MY LORD THE LAMB BIRYANI) so bear with me if I screw up.

First thing--whip some heavy cream with a dash of almond extract and a little powdered sugar. Then bring equal parts whole milk and half and half to an almost-boil (I think it was about 4 cups altogether) and add 5 or 6 oz of chopped Ibarra chocolate. Also add a pinch of cayenne. Whisk until smooth, pour in cups, top with whipped cream and chopped macademia nuts.

There, that sounds about right! Where is the sugar, you ask? In the chocolate. I'm telling you, Ibarra should be right next to all those crappy powdered hot chocolate mixes in the beverage aisles.

This drink was creamy and really satisfying, although for my tastes I would have added about twice the cayenne and also some cinnamon since the "hint" of cinnamon in the Ibarra was pretty much nonexistant for me.

And...I still have some of this in my fridge. I've been adding it to my coffee and THAT is another really amazing beverage experience. In fact I'm going to go get some right now.

(blogger's note--I went just now to find an image of a "satisfied woman" and aside from the expected and distracting and not-at-all what I was looking for pictures of naked women (though much could be said about sex and chocolate I guess), I found this one:

Hahaha--it has nothing to with hot chocolate but how could I not put this up?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Shock--Condé Nast to close Gourmet Magazine

You know, I heard this rumor sometime last year, but I never ever thought it could possibly come true. Axing Gourmet over Bon Appetit? And on the heels of not just one but two amazing cookbook releases? I can see how it could be considered in a devestated economy, but come on--the tide is rising again, slowly but surely.

There is much to say here about corporate overlords, shareholders and profit margins vs. cooking, writing, art and love. But right now I'm thinking only about the hard-working staff of Gourmet and their families, and of course our Ruth, who is the front man for this band and is absorbing a lot of praise and criticism in the media right now.

Ruth. Our director? I'm thinking Tarantino.