Thursday, July 22, 2010

Marinated Tofu Goodness

Hey all,
Yet another long-time-no-post, but I just hit upon something that I definitely had to share with you. Particularly since I've been advised at the recent unveg-friendly posts as of late, something to remedy. After all, I don't eat too much meat either, so it's probably good to make some good stuff.

This recipe is for marinated tofu - I've found that marinating and searing gives a whole mess of flavour to tofu, and definitely mitigates the blandness a lot of people associate with it.
Here's how.
You'll need:
  • 2-3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp hot sauce (I used my trusty rooster stuff here)
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1-2tbsp lemon juice
  • Pinch of chili flakes (just because)
  • 1/2 lb tofu, cut into squares about an inch across and half thick.
  • Optionally, some cooked rice and more soy sauce
First, mix the soy, hot, lemon, and chili together in a sealable container or plastic bag. Then add in the tofu cubes. Let this sit for a while. I gave it about three hours before the first batch, and the second batch later tonight will probably be even tastier.

Set some rice to cook, read a book, write the great american novel, whatever you want to do. Shake it up once in a while to make sure it's evenly marinating. When the three hours or so is up, heat up sesame oil in a pan on medium to high heat, and cook the tofu, flipping when it's nice and crispy.

This was probably the best tofu I've had in my life. Just had a lot of flavour, and great texture thanks to the marinating. You'll want to use either a firm tofu (with maybe some draining) or an extra firm tofu, so it takes in the flavours.

On the side, I tossed some cooked rice with some of the marinated, and fried it up in the leftover oil, adding a good dose of soy sauce. This also picked up some of the flavours, and crisped up some of the rice.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Coffee crusted lamb, and other adventures in cooking

Howdy y'all.
Let me start off this post with a quick apology to the veg-heads out there. This one is not for you. I keep meaning to do more vegetarian cooking, but my knowledge is limited. That said, there's a block of tofu in the fridge waiting for me, so hopefully I'll make some use of that. One other note - due to the distraction of cooking, this is a little less picture-riffic that my previous posts, so I'll try and be nice and verbal about the food.

Good? Good.

Anyways, for this, you will need:
  • 1 tbsp coffee grounds
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 rack of lamb ribs, frenched, crown or not (I prefer not, really)
  • Good salt
  • Canola oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 sprigs thyme, taken off the stems
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
Start by oiling up your lamb, and preheating your oven to 400 degrees. Proceed to salt it, then rub it (really dig the spices in there) with the four spices/ingredients. It helps to just blend these up beforehand so you don't get messy lambey hands all over your spice jars

If you're not made of dolla dolla bill y'alls, you can do this with a beef roast or pork tenderloin, but adjust cooking times appropriately.

Heat a cast-iron pan with canola oil up, and sear the lamb on both sides. Toss it in the oven, and cook on both sides for 10 minutes each.

Give it a ten minute rest, and cut into it. Depending on done-ness (if you like rarer, serve it), carve into lamb lollipops and sear for about 1 minute on either side in the pan again afterwards. Let these rest for a few minutes, and in the meanwhile, stir in the butter, thyme and garlic into the pan and make a sauce. Dose your chops with this, and serve with a giant bottle of beer.

The pictured beer is Mill Race Mild, from Grand River Brewing in Cambridge. Absolutely delicious, especially from a growler. Need to refill it soon.

What's that on the side? Well, it's some veg-friendly food after all.

You'll need:
  • 1 head (not just a clove) of garlic, with a layer of the top sliced off to expose the cloves
  • Olive oil
  • time.
  • 2 russet potatoes, chopped coarsely
Add about a tablespoon of oil to the top of the garlic, and wrap in aluminum foil and roast at 400 for 30-35 minutes (or 375 for 45 minutes, or 350 for 1hr)

Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in salted water, and when tender, mash with copious amounts of butter and possibly some milk or heavy cream. Only do this when the garlic is ready, because you're going to add all of the delicious browned roasted garlic in, and you'll have all of the omnoms you'll ever need. Makes a good side dish to roasted lamb, obviously.

See what I mean?


Monday, June 14, 2010

back on topic: mac and cheese!

Hey folks,
So after reviewing some six year old insight below, I decided it was high time for some comfort food.

Also, I had bechamel sauce lying around. Who does that?

I guess for starters in this post I should teach you how to make Bechamel.
As follows:
- Melt two tbsp of butter in a wide saucepan, and when fully down (or even browned slightly, yum), add in an equal amount of flour. Whisk this together to make a roux, which is sort of a looser paste. This can be browned, but for this purpose, leave it till it gets golden.
- Add in 2/3 of a cup of milk (I used 1% like a heretic, but you can use any kind really), a little bit at a time, whisking as you go. Heat this over medium heat until it thickens up. Season with salt and pepper.

That wasn't so hard now, was it? Here's the fun part.

You'll need:
  • some kind of pasta (about a little less than you'd normally eat)
  • the sauce from before
  • bacon, salami, and/or vegetables (wuss)
  • about 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • a crushed up stale bun for breadcrumbs
Really, it's just an excuse to use up fridge stuff. anyways.
Cook the bacon or whatever till nice and crispy (or done) in a cast iron or oven safe pan, and in the meanwhile, cook the pasta till a little before al dente.

When all is said and done, drain your pasta and leave a bit of the water in (very important.) Add the bechamel to the bacon, and stir around. Soon after (like, a minute), add the pasta and water. You'll notice I added a bit much - this will cook down quickly on the higher heat.

Then, you have two options. Both begin with topping the whole mess with breadcrumbs and the cheddar cheese. You can either: broil it to brown the topping, or bake it (around 325 for 20 minutes) to encase it in a shell of brownage (that sounds so gross). I was hungry, so I did the broil.

Voila. Probably best to be prudent and remove this to a bowl or plate, and mix around all the crispy and soft parts to have good textural contrast. Also make sure to have your copy of Romance Bloody Romance standing by for the dance party you'll have shortly after.


PS: welcome additions include hot sauce, chicken, or other goodies for a flavour mixup. This is good, but can be a bit bland on its own.

Friday, June 4, 2010

And now for something completely different.

Hey folks,
if you haven't noticed, I've been in a real bit of a cooking lull lately. Having a tough time coming up with stuff. So if you have any good recipes, send them my way, and I'll be glad to try them.

That said, to cure this lull, I've been trying different cuisines and flavours, and I think I might be getting.. somewhere. That brings us to this week's post: thai (sort of?) noodle bowls!

Now, this can be as complex or easy as you want it to be. I'll make sure to note what can be changed for you slackers out there. Keeners, you guys get gold stars.

As follows:
You can EITHER make a broth for this, or use a canned/dried mix. If so, it changes the flavour immensely, but is much easier and takes much shorter. Kudos to this book for the recipe, with some changes made by me for my tastes (mushrooms? we don't need no stinkin' mushrooms!)
For those of you ambitious types, you'll need:
  • 2 red chilis, chopped
  • 6 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 5 cups of veggie stock
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, peeled and chopped
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar (or palm if you have it)
  • 1/2 a lime
  • 2 green onions, chopped
All of this can be easily procured on the cheap at your local Asian market/bulk store. Mix the chilis and vinegar together in a glass or ceramic bowl and let sit for an hour. In the meantime, bring the stock to a boil, add in the lemongrass, soy sauce, sugar, and juice of the lime and simmer for half an hour.

When your chilis and vinegar are done.. doing whatever they're doing, add them in, along with the green onions. Let this simmer for about 10 minutes.

And, while I hate wasting food, strain the mix and throw out/compost the vegetables. The book also adds mushrooms and tofu and makes it a soup, but it was just. not. doing it for me. So I strained it and let it sit in my fridge for a few days for me to figure out what to do with it.

Here's what happened:

I went BACK to the Asian market and got some pho noodles (rice sticks) and cooked them to package directions (basically let them sit in hot water). These were summarily added to the broth on medium heat.

In the meanwhile, I heated the bejeesus out of my wok. Then diced 2 sprigs of asparagus, a quarter onion, a clove of garlic, and a carrot, and cooked on ridiculous heat with canola oil (more neutral, higher heat tolerance than olive) till just coloured, then moved to a bowl.

Then I grabbed a pork chop, sliced thinly, and cooked THAT on the same high heated wok to brown each side. I could very well have used tofu, chicken, or nothing at all.

When all was said and done, I mixed all of the broth, noodles, veg, and meat together, deglazed the wok with some of the broth to get some of the nice brown bits and added that in, and...

Hot damn. This was really, really tasty. Really interesting mix of flavours (the broth is for tom yum, or hot and sour, soup). Different hot and sour than most people are used to though (not the kind with egg and shrimp).

Try your various combination of veg and proteins, and let me know what you think!


Monday, May 31, 2010

LOST Finale party! (and delicious food, of course)

As some of you may know, I have been pretty ridiculously addicted to the show LOST for a good solid five years now - and it has reached its conclusion. I was pretty satisfied with it, but definitely wouldn't have enjoyed it as much had I not had the pleasure of some good company and the joy of some good eats.

What did we eat? Oh boy.

Well, we made a trek about an hour north of here to Big Tusks to buy the only meat really suitable to eat at a LOST party - Wild boar!

So much meat. Damn, it was good. Bacon, sausages, burgers, all the good stuff.

First up: John Locke's 'Special' Sausages (with a surprise addition - Sawyer's Southern Biscuits and Gravy). Basically, cook the sausages in a pan as described before (sear, then 300deg oven for 20 minutes. Then the fun (kind of gross) part. Take out the sausages, and leave the fat. Add in an approximately equal amount of flour to fat. Whisk together till it browns, then add in about a cup of milk, and salt and pepper to taste as it thickens.

Hot damn. hoooot damn. Serve over country-style biscuits, and enjoy life. I sure did. Was the answer to Natasha's question "What are you going to do with all of that grease?"

Next up? Tropical fruit salad. Weird how major stores like Metro or Zehrs doesn't stock them, but No Frills and Food Basics have all the crazy tropical fruit you could eat. We just diced up some papaya (about half of one), a few mangoes, some pineapple and a couple bananas. Squeeze over some lime juice, and mix in some orange or pineapple juice. Tasty goodness.

Marc-approved, apparently.

Second-to-lastly, we had a bunch of ground boar meat as well. To use it up, we made tacos! I cheated like a schmuck and used store bought taco seasoning - if you have a good recipe, please share. On top was cilantro sour cream (just finely chopped cilantro mixed in) and a mango salsa. That consisted of mangos (durr), cilantro, red onion, and lime juice. Add in a jalepeno for spice, but we didn't because it magically disappeared.

Finally, wash it all down with some tasty DHARMA-brand beer or wine. If you watch the show, it makes sense. If you don't, you should.

yum. (and good job on the labels, Dave)

Thanks to all the people who joined in on the fun, and for making this little finale shebang all the better.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Hotlanta - Home to good food, good people, and good fun

Hey y'all,
I've made it back from the wonderful land of the South, and I have to say - it's a wonderful, amazing place down there. Well, in Atlanta, at least. We met some lovely people, had some great adventures, and got to see some really great parts of the city.

And the food. good lord. the food.

It all began at 3:45 am, en route to pick up Tressa and go to the Buffalo airport. Some odd bus ride later, we went to the little eateries there and discovered this monstrosity:

Breakfast pizza - you know, scrambled eggs and bacon on a pizza. Wacky american convenience food - also pretty darn delicious when you haven't eaten anything all day. We also visited the Anchor Bar - home to the original Buffalo wing. Not bad, but not really picture worthy.

Some hours later, we landed in the lovely city of Hotlanta, and made a sketchy cab ride journey through some interesting parts (great first impression!) to get to the Hotel. Shortly after, we arrived here:

Where we proceeded to devour (again, hungry) the specialties of the place. Deep fried peach pies (amazing), chili dogs with mustard (sounds weird, but great), really unique onion rings, and the Frosted Orange, sort of a super cold orange slurpee. Below, see me devouring my second peach pie. Recipe here. (thanks Catie!)

Followed by an epic dinner of hot dogs and onion rings.

We later found out via Mike, our shuttle driver (which was a Holiday Inn service we abused mercilessly) that Georgia Tech and Georgia State were playing at Turner Field (where the Braves play) for charity, and obviously to settle a serious ongoing rivalry. Tech proceeded to beat down State, and we saw the amazing difference between Tech students and State students. Lots of light (really, really light) beer and popcorn later, we crashed and burned at the hotel.

In the morning, our first stop was the wonderful place known as Waffle House. With our seriously massive breakfasts, Tressa got a pecan waffle, and I got biscuits and gravy. Reason #100002 why I loved the city - so good! Will have to learn to replicate.

To try biscuits and gravy yourself - check out the Pioneer Woman here and let me know how it pans out. I may try this as a future GRC post later.

Believe me when I say this was pretty much all the ohnomnoms.

Next up, we hit up CNN - and made a stop at Chick-fil-A, a southern institution, after. Fries in the south are a bit weird, but man do they know how to fry up chicken. Served with an odd thing known as "polynesian sauce" - it really hit the spot. I can't imagine how a real spot would be, compared to one in a pretty easy business park like the CNN complex.

Afterwards, we went out for a drink with our friend John, and visited his workplace. By which I mean we went to the World of Coke and learned all about that crazy drink.

Nice guy, that Mr. P.
At the end of our tour, we were able to sample all 64 products Coke sells world-wide, including some delicious (Nestea varieties) and some heinous (Beverly, an Italian apéritif which I was peer-pressured by some sugar-buzzed children to try). We also got punched in the kidneys by the 4-d ride, assuring us that the secret ingredient of Coca-Cola is bruised, candied kidneys. Below is just a small sample of what was on offer:

We also made an adventure to the Georgia Aquarium, which is certainly a lovely spot if you're in town. Lots of cool animals, and some damn scary sharks that still haunt my dreams.

That night, we made the trek to Mary's for some drinks and possibly one of the funniest things I've ever seen on a bar TV. Due to it being a Wednesday night on Georgia State & Tech finals week, it was pretty dead, so we made it back to the hotel bar for a drink, saw the Habs won (hell yeah!) and crashed pretty early. There was also a dinner in there that didn't sit too well, so consider that a negative recommend for "Fire of Brazil" - but maybe it was just a bad night.

The next day was much easier going - we started off with a trip to a good ol' southern tea room (Mary Mac's) for "meat and threes" which was actually "meat and twos" due to it being lunchtime. I had fried chicken, collard greens, and fried green tomatoes, while Tressa had chicken tenders, whipped potatoes, and spiced apples (pictured below). Possibly one of the best meals of the trip.

We then toured through the absolutely spectacular Little Five Points neighborhood, full of amazing character and shops. A stopover was made at the Vortex for a few drinks - cool biker/punk rock bar with a giant skull for an entrance. I discovered my love for Blue Moon - very tasty wheat beer you can find commonly in the states. We also hit up an American liquor store - the selection! Man, that was awesome. This all ended up in our "white-trash champagne bucket" as drinks before an epic night out.

The night began at Holy Taco in the East Atlanta Village area - worth a visit if you're in town. AMAZING Mexican food that I doubt can be topped anywhere outside of Mexico. I had three tacos: pescado frito (fried fish), carne de puerco (pulled pork), and lengua (beef tongue). All winners. We also split a shrimp and fry bread appetizer, which really hit the spot. The picture does not do these justice - they were amazing.

Finally, after a trip to Mary's again (great place, no matter how you swing), we went to Krystal with a new friend Julian, and proceeded to demolish some mini burgers and more weird fries. Not bad, but not really worth a trek either way. Definitely food to eat after you've been out for the evening.

All in all, it was an incredible journey, and a city I will never forget. I consider it probably my favorite place in the States, and would go back in a heartbeat. Much thanks to Tressa for an epic voyage, and all the wonderful people in the city for making us feel at home!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Weird cookery. OR how to eat the leftover random food in your fridge

So, I'm going on vacation to Atlanta in a few days (what what!), and as a result, I'm trying to eat all of the perishable food in my fridge, so I don't come back to gross stuff. I've been making some weird food lately, and I think this takes the cake.

But oh god. It was tasty. Probably a few zillion calories, but that's alright.

For this, you will need (ugh)

  • One half a red onion

  • Two strips of thick bacon, or three of normal

  • About a cup and a half of pasta (I used gnocchi, for extra deliciousness)

  • and the mystery ingredient - 1/3 cup of Philadelphia Herb and Garlic cream cheese (low fat, obviously. not that it makes much of a difference)

So, for starters, chop your bacon up into lardons (little strips, see picture), and fry until just before crisp. Keep it all in the pan, grease and all.

In the meantime, get your pasta cooking away, and slice an onion into crescents. I used red onions, and took out the little core thing - not a lot of good flavour there. If you cut them thinner, you get caramelization going on, but I got lazy.

Add these into the pan. Bacon and onions? Can't go wrong. Until you add in the cream cheese, then it just becomes extra epic, and so, so wrong, but so, so right. Mix this together till the cream cheese melts and integrated with everything.

Strain your pasta, reserving some cooking liquid (maybe a few tablespoons), and add it all in. The liquid makes the sauce a bit more loose, which is never a bad thing. Stir around till the sauce and pasta are one cohesive lovely little thing - and eat that sucker up.

I need to go the gym now, or something. Also, I'm going on a week-long hiatus. Expect an Atlanta travel/food co-blog with my friend Tressa after!


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Schnitzel! And other uses for breaded pork.

"Alright, I'm going to make lunch and blog it"
That's how I kicked off this post today, saying goodbye to a friend on MSN. Makes me realize that I'm kind of addicted to this thing. But hey, it's what you enjoy, right?

What I've decided to make today are some delicious pork cutlets, breaded, and served two different ways. But there's a definite technique to it - so we'll cover that first.

You'll need:
  • "Fast-fry" pork chops, I got three from Market fresh for 3$. They're about half an inch thick. Alternatively, chicken breasts work well too. No bones though.
  • Breadcrumbs (with some seasoning and salt added)
  • Flour
  • One egg, beaten to an inch of its life OR milk, because they use it for fried chicken in the south and it is delicious
  • A LOT of little plates. You'll see why in a sec.
First, toss a chop in a zip-top bag (you may be able to see the brand I'm using. maybe they'll send me more). Freezer bags work best, as they are sturdy. Then, get a rolling pin, and beat that sucker down! A meat mallet works well too, as long as you use the smooth side. It should practically double in surface area, and halve in thickness, as seen below.

When you've got all your teen angst out on some poor unsuspecting pork chops, prepare your work station. You will need, from right-to-left:
  • A plate for your meat (ooh, my bullet points are back to normal)
  • A plate with flour, about an eighth of a cup
  • A bowl, or deep plate with high sides, with milk or the beaten egg
  • Another plate for breadcrumbs. Don't forget to season these fellas

First, flour the meat. Shake it off to remove excess flour. This gets rid of any weird floury pockets. Then, "dredge" it in in the milk, and shake off the excess. Then into the breadcrumbs. The flour picture is below for your reference.

Set these aside when done, and set aside a pan on medium-high heat with a neutral oil (Canola works well) with a high smoke point. What's a smoke point? Glad you asked! It's the temperature where oil begins to burn (and smoke), giving it an off taste. Some oils have a very low point, and thus are not too good for frying. Some have an extremely high point, and these are the best to use. Canola is around 464 degrees. (Thanks, Wikipedia. You save my life again.)

The beauty of these being so thin, is that once they're browned, they're done! Thicker pieces may burn when frying for that long, so that they're cooked through.

Now, for the serving suggestions:

Method 1: Schnitzel-ish: Serve naked, maybe with a bit of salt on top, and delicious spicy mustard on the side. I'm a big fan of Koslik's - Guelphites can get it at Ouderkirk and Taylor, Torontonians can get it ridiculously fresh (and sample all kinds) at St. Lawrence Market.

Method 2: (On the left) Parmigiana-esque: Probably better with veal or chicken (same recipe still applies) - cover in shredded mozzarella, with some parmesan to give it a tanginess, and bake. When cheese is bubbley and delicious, toss on some nice tomato sauce and enjoy! Also good on a bun with roast peppers, chilis, and maybe eggplant done the same way.

Enjoy! (sorry about the dishes)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Quick, easy and delicious exam-time dinner

Hey team,
So we're just starting up week 2 of our delightful exam-time hibernation period around Guelph, and I've realized the value of good sleep and good food to really keep the brain-cells firing. As a result, I've been (trying to) cook up a storm around here, and I've come across a pretty damn tasty and easy dish as a result. It's.. sort of like a paella, but whatever, it'll do.

As follows:

You will need:
  • Blue bullets, for some reason
  • 1 sausage per person (I recommend Guelphites go to Market Fresh and get their Salsateria Rojo for this. Failing that, any spicy/garlicky sausage will work wonders)
  • Half a diced red pepper
  • Quarter of a diced red onion (you'll see the cut ahead)
  • A cup of rice (I used brown)
  • About 1/3 cup of salsa (flavor/texture to your liking
Start by getting a cup of rice on the go cooking. I'll use this as my shameless promotion for rice cookers, since I'll admit, I suck at making rice. This puppy is a cuisinart model, with only one button (changes it from "warm" to "cook"), which I hear is the way to go.

If you don't have one, read the bag of rice! Again, I suck.

While that's doing its thing, heat up your cast iron skillet on the stove, while simultaneously turning your oven up to 300 degrees. When it's good and hot, pour in a bit of olive oil, and put your sausage in first. Then, dump the vegetables around it, and salt well. When the sausage has a nice brownness to the bottom, flip it, and toss the whole thing in the oven for about 20 minutes, stirring the vegetables around halfway. This will cook it all together, which is much deliciousness.

If you don't have cast iron or oven-ready skillet, you're reading the wrong blog. But I guess that we can still be friends. Slowly cook it all together all the same on medium on your stove for about 17-18. You can never cook a sausage to slowly, I've heard (/weird).

When all is said and done, pull out of the oven and put on a medium heat (or leave on medium). Take a spatula or wooden spoon, and mash up the sausage, integrating the juices into the stuff on the pan. Makes it really tasty. You want everything mashed up as such, with some big pieces and little ones.

Finally, add in your (now-should-be-cooked) rice, about half of it per sausage. Then when that's integrated well, add in your salsa and a tiny pinch of salt to bring it all together. Plate it, eat it, and enjoy! Glass of Fin du Monde is not optional, and once you try it you'll see why..

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Kitchen Essentials for all y'all new graduates

Hey friends,
I saw off a wonderful friend just a short bit ago, and realized she's graduating university and venturing off into the real world. In honour of our wonderful friendship, I decided to make a post dedicated to the top five things you need in your kitchen in your new homes for epic chef-ery.

There's more, which I will detail at the end. But these are big deals. At least, I think so. And you're reading my blog, so I'd assume you trust my opinion somewhat at least.

... not even a little bit? Whatever. I'll write it anyways! As follows...

1. A high quality salt container with a lid, and a pepper mill. You want to put kosher or sea salt and whole peppercorns in these, as they have a much better tendency to grip to food and taste much better than the usual stuff. Not pricey either - a box of kosher salt is five bucks and has lasted me a year. And I'm addicted to the white stuff. You can get the salt mill at the dollar store, so long as the lid has a decent seal. The pepper one might be worth more expense, as they tend to fall apart/not work if you cheap out. Use your good judgement here, folks.

2. GOOD quality cookbooks. Yes, I realize these are essentially food porn, and some may be coffee table books with recipes. But don't skimp here. You can find great stuff online used or at book sales for really cheap, too.

Some recommends:

- Jaime Oliver's stuff - make what you will of him, his recipes are solid and he has a really great writing style, along with simple, delicious recipes

- "Mastering the Art of French Cooking"(Julia Child)/"How to Cook Everything" (Mark Bittman)/"The Joy of Cooking" (Becker, Becker, and Rombauer) - any of these books are massive tomes, but give you insight into plenty of different styles of cooking and techniques. GREAT for beginners and pros. and I know you'll all be pros

- A crazy expensive book based on a style you love - in my case, the Au Pied de Cochon book, by Martin Picard. I wanted to find a french-canadian cookbook, and I found an idol. More on that in a later post.

3. One good, solid chef's knife. I used to wonder what the big deal was, as I used the ones in sets. Then I got my hands on this puppy. Sturdy, great grip and balance, and it's my go-to (and generally only) knife I use in the kitchen. I like mine a bit heavier, but yours is your call. Go to a store, and test-drive the suckers.

Two notes - store properly! I keep mine all in a drawer on a tea towel so they don't get knocked around.

Note the second - if you don't have a lot of cash (and I know most of us don't), here's a hint. A lot of fancy knife makers will charge you like crazy for beautiful handles. Save money! Go to a restaurant supply store, and get one with these horrendous handles that look like they're made out of a cutting board. They are far sturdier, far cheaper, and much better. I worked in kitchens before and that's all we use, and they are fabulous. A comparable knife would cost you a hundred dollars, not forty like what's listed.

4. Good, solid pots and pans. I have one big saute, one small, two medium pots, and one massive pot for stock/soups, all with lids. Again, quality is key here. Nonstick is useful for most purposes, too. Restaurant supply shops are again a good bet for these, but I knicked these on sale at a kitchen warehouse for about fifty, and they're holding up well. I have some really garbage ones lying around that I don't use, and have warped because they're a waste of time and money. These will last me a while.

5. Finally, speaking of lasting a while, you're looking at a fifty or sixty year old cast iron pan that used to cook my grandparents and father eggs and bacon, and has seen a LOT in its life. I'm going to straight up call this one necessary, as it handles high heat, can go on the barbecue, go in the oven, handle any cooktop (except flat-tops, which it will scratch up. thanks Veronica for the tip!), and is just absolutely-completely made of win. Either get one from your grandparents, attic, garage sale, or buy a new one (Lodge is a nice brand) and season the hell out of it. Mine is absolutely my favorite tool in the kitchen, and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Do NOT drop it, as it will shatter and take out your floor (and inconvenient neighbor downstairs). Also, handle carefully with decent oven mitts, and don't wash with soap or I will be disappointed in you.

Now, for the rest!

That is a lot of nonsense that I have. But I experiment, and do this for a living! (I'm up to like, sixty cents on google adwords thanks to you guys. mwhaha). Really, you don't need all this crap, but you do need:

  • an 11x13 deep baking tray (like a lasagna pan)

  • a cookie sheet or two

  • a muffin tin

  • a dutch oven (don't laugh, goons)

  • a good quality wire whisk (not plastic)

  • a bread knife

  • a paring knife

  • wooden spoons!

  • a ladle

  • multiple cutting boards, as you just don't cut the salad on the same one you cut the chicken on

  • aluminium foil

  • parchment paper

  • plastic wrap

  • paper towels

and optionally:

  • a rolling pin, to chase down mangiacakes

  • an electric kettle

  • a toaster oven (having two ovens is amazing)

  • a casserole dish (with a lid is nice)

and a lot of stuff more. I'll try to specify any special equipment needed on here, but that all pretty much gets me by. I have a lot I don't use, which I regret, but it happens.

Thus concludes my longest blog post yet. Hope you enjoy, and please submit comments and feedback using the usual process.

For those of you graduating and going off to change the world, I will miss you all very much, but will see you sometime soon, I'm sure. Do good things!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


So, as a result of current events in my life, I decided to go on a meat-fest with my wonderful friend Sasha (!!). We went and bought about 35$ worth of meat. And it's a stunner:


We bought: sausage rounds (wtf?), steak, wings, ground beef, and peperrettes. deeelicious. Sasha decided to teach me a recipe:


As follows (Sasha in blue text):

First, you must make bannock. Sasha will take over for this. Sasha?

"I don't know, Marc. Don't do that."

"alright. 3 cups flour. 3 teaspoons baking powder. some salt. *pause* um. 1/3 cup of oil, 2/3 water. times two."

- so 2/3 cup of oil and about 1 and 1/2 of water (marc). back to sasha:

"i feel like this is a newscast. put all the dry stuff in the bowl first. mix it together. and then add the oil. actually, add half the oil and half the water, then add the rest and mix it in."

- she seems mildly annoyed. mix it so it's well integrated. no weird dry spots. (marc)

"you're funny. okay. grab a ballful, and flatten it. poke a hole in the middle. fry it up!"

- before you make the bannock, i'd suggest heating up about a half-inch of canola or other frying oil to medium heat. (marc)

And that's that! Drain on some paper towels, and ogle the goodness:

ogle it....

Next up: prepare your ground beef (about a pound) with taco seasoning. We made it in a pot, and that was weird. But it worked! (Suck it!).

"actually, that's the lazy way. usually we make chili, so there's like, beans and stuff"

Whatever Sasha.

Make 'em like tacos - serve with sour cream, cheese, salsa, lettuce, and vodka.

actually, it's just water. dicks.

Now. look at the tacos . identify the tacos. smell the tacos. and the best part: eat the tacos!

Thanks Sasha! (!!!)