Thursday, 16 August 2012

Not Even Close... But Tasty. The Paradox Tamale

            There is something very cool that happens when my friend Toby and I put our heads together. We cook some pretty bad ass home cooking. Very rarely do we find that we have the  same days off but when it does happen the results are generally pretty damn tasty. Such was the case when I decided that I was going to take on making tamales. I have never made them before and I am absolutely sure that they are not a correct and proper tamale, but man, they were tasty. Bolstered by Toby’s what is the worst that can happen attitude, I drove in and after it was all said and done, and upon the consultation of a friend of mine, I created what I am going to call the paradox tamale. I have created tamale which is inside out but also inside. The sort of Schrödinger’s Cat principle applied to tamale. That reference is for my buddy Matt and my friend Conor who will appreciate it. So here we go with the paradox tamale.

Paradox Tamale to the tune of My Best Friend’s Girl by The Cars

2 ears of fresh corn, save the husks that is what you will be wrapping these bad boys in.
2 jalapeno peppers diced fine
½ lb of pork cubed, whatever cut you like diced. I used shoulder.
1 cup of cornmeal
½ cup of milk
1 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp of oil

-Shuck your corn, saving the husk for the wrappers (they are traditionally made with dried husks but I am lazy); remove the corn from the cob

-Heat up a skillet add your oil, once it comes up to temperature add your corn, chilies, and pork and cook until the pork is cooked through. Remove from the heat and allow to cool in a bowl.

-In a sauce pan, over medium heat, dump your cornmeal and milk. Stir constantly until you get a cream of wheat texture. Dump that into the bowl of filling with the butter, stir everything together and let cool.

-Lay out your husk plop some filling in the center and then roll them into a cylinder and tie the ends  it should look like a tootsie roll.

-Now either bake in a 350 oven or steam them until they become firm. Bust them open and enjoy. I served them with a guacamole but a fresh tomato salsa would be awesome too.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Cake... Bourbon... Yes Please

            If there is one thing that I know for sure it is that the people that I choose to surround myself are awesome. It may sound like I am bragging but it is simply a fact: my people rule. Not only can I confide in them, grab drinks and shoot the shit with them, or count on them to nourish my fragile male ego by telling me that I am wrong and that my latest kitchen experiment tasted great (great and beautiful liars they are) but most of them put out some pretty bad ass recipes. Such is the case with my friend Fyfe. Now Fyfe and I are opposites in the kitchen. I lean heavily towards cooking. Fyfe loves to bake. There is something about the precision of baking which appeals to Fyfe. I don’t claim to get it; maybe it is a patience thing. I guess I am just an instant gratification guy and waiting an hour to figure out if the thing worked appeals much less than tasting it right now. So now I hand you over to my friend Fyfe and her absolutely awesome recipe for bourbon cake. It kicks some serious ass. Enjoy. (This cake should not be eaten by anyone under the age of 19 by the laws of where we live.)

            PS: Fyfe did not put down any musical accompaniment to this recipe. So I will suggest that you go with the entire Who’s Next album by The Who and then The Devil Went Down to Georgia by the Charlie Daniels Band. (Baking takes forever so that should do you.) J

I am here to talk about baking, something which is a reoccurring obsession throughout my life and really the only food that I can produce with any consistency.  I do not cook, I try and try but find that I lack the creativity necessary to play and tinker until the perfect dish is created.   But I do bake. I love to follow a clear recipe to the fluffy, delicious end. 

I have very fond memories of baking chocolate chip cookies for my sister and me. Her half with chips and mine without just so we both got what we wanted out of it. Throughout my late teen years I made box cakes for every occasion in my life and cupcakes made regular appearances at any event I was invited to.  But as much as I love baking and any type of desert, it was not until recently that I started actually making most of my baking from scratch and playing around with it.  So I am glad for the opportunity to share my love of a great recipe here.

Today I present a cake recipe that I stumbled across by pure chance and that is now something that I fantasize about at least once a week.  Chocolate Bourbon Bundt Cake.  I have made cakes and I know chocolate. I stumbled upon this recipe with no working knowledge of bourbon and no Bundt pan, so I give my thanks to Johnny for providing me with both in order to create this epic cake.

Most recently I made this cake for a work gathering and it went over very well. But, I realized that this cake should come with its own disclaimer.  This cake has alcohol in it: a lot of it.  It bites back, but only in the very best ways possible.  I love making this cake because it makes the whole house smell like the love child of a distillery and a chocolate factory, that smell is one of my happy places.  The cake is moist and delicious but it is also a practice in patience, it takes time to create.  I find that setting aside about 2-3 hours from start to finish is best and it does not pay to rush.  So without delay I give you my Chocolate Bourbon Bunt Cake.

The Ingredients:
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 ounces unsweetened dark chocolate
  • 1/4 cup instant espresso (I use instant coffee)
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Boiling water
  • 1 cup bourbon whiskey (can be reduced to 1/2 cup), more for sprinkling
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling

The Cake


Preheat your oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a large bundt pan (10 cup capacity), or two 8- or 9-inch loaf pans.
Start melting the chocolate in a microwave oven or in a double boiler. Once fully melted, set aside and let cool.

Put instant coffee and cocoa powder in a 2-cup (or larger) glass measuring cup. Add enough boiling water to come up to the 1 cup measuring line. Mix until all the powders dissolve. Stir in the bourbon and salt; set aside and let cool.

In a fairly large bowl, beat softened butter until fluffy (2-3 minutes on high).  Next add sugar and beat until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract, baking soda and melted chocolate, scraping down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula.

With the mixer on the lowest speed, beat in a third of the whiskey espresso cocoa mixture (I find it best to stir the mixture right before adding it as it tends to separate). When liquid is absorbed, beat in 1 cup flour. Repeat additions, ending with whiskey mixture. The batter will have the consistency of a moist cloud.

Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Bake until a cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes for Bundt pan (loaf pans will take less time, but for both types of pan, start checking after 55 minutes).

When done, transfer cake to a rack. Unmold after 15 minutes and sprinkle warm cake with more whiskey. Let cool. Sprinkle powdered sugar through a mesh sieve over the cake before serving.

Now enjoy an almost legendarily good cake.  Happy cake dances are optional.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Simply Put the Reason That I Have Started Running

            So my buddy Toby sent me a picture on Facebook saying that we needed to try to make this thing. We haven’t had the chance. After a tough week at work I buckled and made it on my own. I am sorry Tobes but I could wait no longer. There is no recipe included in this post because I am not sure that anyone without professional fat kid experience and a strict regimen of stretching should take on cooking this beast let alone eating it. It borders on the verge of extreme and it took the route through gluttony to get there. I admit that I made it and that I ate it and that I lapsed into a food coma. It was evil and kind of perverse but so freaking tasty. So anyway here are some pretty pictures for you. 
It Begins
Okay fried onions that's good
Some ham sure that sounds good
Burger with some Swiss cheese, cool
That is a serious looking burger
Surprise.... I am a sick man. It was delicious just so you know.

Bacon For Dessert

            You will often hear me refer to bacon as my favorite vegetable. Anthony Bourdain refers to it as a gateway protein. Vegetarians I know say that they would never touch meat but they eat bacon. Bacon is one of those magical substances which makes everything it touches, somehow better, tastier, and just plain good. It is one of my go to fix it ingredients. Messed up a recipe, no problem, put bacon on it. It turns the inedible into tasty. I have friends that cure their own. What up Toby?  It is so good that I am willing to concede that there might be a god with the only proof being bacon. I love it, ‘nuff said.

            So the idea for this recipe came from a couple of places. The first being a doughnut joint in Portland. Voodoo doughnuts makes a bacon maple glazed doughnut that is simply killer. The second is a farmers market in my town and a very lovely tattooed lady who was selling bacon apple fritters. Both of these things are freaking delicious and they got me to thinking: I love bacon; I could probably pull off a bacon dessert. And so I delved into my shallow pool of baking knowledge head first and came up with this recipe.

            Now everyone I got to try these liked them but they seemed to be a bigger hit with the dudes. The ladies would say that they were good or I would get a reserved mmmm. The Dudes eyes would roll back in their heads like a shark mid frenzy. They would grunt like Homer Simpson at the Frying Dutchman and one guy just pointed at the container and gave me puppy dog eyes like he was begging for a treat. So I guess this one goes out to the dudes.

Bacon Shortbread Cookies to the tune of Mr. Someone Else by, who else, The Dudes

½ cup butter at room temperature
½ cup caster sugar: This is very fine sugar, I buzz regular sugar in a spice mill until it is really fine
1 large egg beaten
1 cup flour sifted
8 slices thick bacon diced
1 heaping tbsp of honey
Splash of milk

-Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

-Fry off half of your bacon and drain off the remaining fat.

-In a mixer beat your butter and your sugar until it is smooth and fluffy.

-Add in your egg and bacon and beat some more.

-Turn the mixer to low and add the flour in a little at a time until the dough comes together. Form into a ball wrap it up and refrigerate it for about an hour to let it firm up.

-After it has chilled roll it out to about 1/8 of an inch thick and cut it into whatever shapes you want. I went with rectangle ish. Place on a greased sheet pan and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden. Place on a cooling rack and let them cool.

-While they are cooling heat a pan over medium heat and add the remainder of the bacon and let it work.

-In a bowl whisk together the honey and the milk and then add to the bacon reduce the heat stirring often remove from heat when the bacon is all sticky and beautiful looking. You want a little bit of residual liquid in the pan.

-Drizzle over the cookies and let cool.

You my friends have now made Bacon Shortbread Cookies. Mad science or evil genius? You be the judge.