~ Totally Undeserving of the James Beard Award

~ Completely Undeserving of the James Beard Award ~

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Welcome and Sign in Please...

I thought I would take a step away from posting my thoughts on food and open it up for guest bloggers. To start, I would like to quote the late, great Julia Child who I had the honor to get to know personally because I bought her cookbook, who once said: "Whatever you do, please do not quote me on a blog after I die", there are many chefs I personally know...because I watch their TV shows, like Mario Batali, who is the greatest celebrity chef alive...and Bobby Flay...who is the greatest celebrity chef alive...Thomas Keller who is the greatest non-celebrity chef alive have all asked to be a guest blogger...not to me, but they are welcome if they do.

So, for those clamoring to post something here...now is your chance. And let me say, to have followers of this blog...to guest post here, well...it would be a huge honor...to you, I know, so let's open it up now.

Just log in, using your mothers maiden name, your bank account number...the name of your pet, your favorite car and all of the streets you have ever lived on...

So, I will now pause for our first guest blogger to log in...


Apparently the log-in process is crashing the system as none of you are getting through. Let me try a new approach to lessen the data stream happening all at once, a trivia question. The first person with the correct answer goes first, here goes:

"Who is the greatest celebrity chef alive?"

...Ah, remember to log in folks.

Okay, something is still not right. The answer was Guy Fieri by the way. I will have to work this a bit more, in the mean time, here is a little song while you patiently wait:

Watch Watch Steve Martin Sizzle on A Capitol Fourth on PBS. See more from A Capitol Fourth.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

For the Heart, the Soul, the Mind…I give you: French Onion Soup

As a kid growing up, the thought of eating a soup made from onions was disgusting…who in the world would eat onion soup?  Well, like a lot of things, we grew to try and appreciate new things (although I have yet to eat a raw oyster). As I started to get into cooking more and more I saw recipes, pictures and videos of French onion soup in a little crock...steaming, cheese bubbling on a large crouton. And I thought, that looks too good for it not to BE good, am I missing out on something?

It’s a rather simple recipe and procedure…it just takes a while. But when it’s about 3:00 on a Sunday afternoon, it’s getting colder out now...the leaves have turned their musty smell of gold-yellow-orange-brown, the lawn has (hopefully) been mowed for the last time this summer, your favorite grey sweater you packed away over the summer is found and pulled out for another season of warmth…you have some quiet jazz on…someone is plinking on the piano, the dog snores in the den and the news of a loved one you haven’t seen a long while will be home for dinner…makes it a perfect time for homemade French onion soup.

It all starts with, well…onions.  The recipe I use calls for four onions and when you slice them up, you think…no way, that is a mountain of onions.  And you know what? You’re right…it is, but you need them all. Just cut them all up and don’t look back.   Now as a side note to continue my previous post, I sliced all four onions up with a freshly sharpened knife…and…not…one…tear. Oh I definitely smelled them but my ducts were dry.

 But let me pause if I may and show you the proper way to dice an onion.  This is not what I used for the soup as I wanted half-round slices.   First cut the...wait, first sharpen your knife, second cut the onion in half from the root to the stem and slice off the stem end and leave the root alone. You will have this:

Next, lay the cut side flat on your cutting surface and slice from the previously cut-off stem end to the root end horizontally. NOTE! If you want say a 1/2 inch dice...slice 1/2 inch up from the table, if you want larger dice or smaller, adjust where you cut accordingly. BUT!...do not slice all the way through, stop and and leave about an inch from the end. Then, slice again 1/2 inch up from your previous cut and so on until you have no more onion to cut in that direction.

Like this ( the knife shows where I stopped the cuts):

Next, slice the other direction, from the old stem end towards the root end...again a 1/2 inch apart...and again, stopping about an inch away from the end. By stopping in both directions you keep the whole onion intact.

Then simply slice in the third direction, down keeping with your 1/2 inch spacing...and what do you know...you just diced up an onion quick, efficiently...and with even size pieces. 

So back to the soup...put two tableblobs of butter in a large pot, the heavier the better as it will maintain the heat and add your Mt Everest of onions. I always use a sweet variety such as Walla Walla to aid in the caramelization process. Add garlic, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper and cook…and cook……and cook………and cook. Turning and cooking, cooking and turning until they turn a nice...well, carmel color. Watch them to ensure they don't burn.

Next up, pour in a cup of red wine. Never use a wine you wouldn't drink. Simmer this until all of the wine has evaporated and the onions are basically dry...like...



Make an attempt to locate and discard the bay leaves and thyme. You will probably only find the bay leaves and thyme branches. Dust the onions with flour and cook a few minutes to cook out the raw flour taste.  Don't burn the flour.

 Add beef broth, simmer for 10 minutes or more and adjust the flavor (check if you need to add salt or pepper, you probably do). When you are ready to eat, start your boiler, place oven safe small bowls on a sheet pan, ladle in your soup, float a large pre-made crouton from a baguette and top that with slices of gruyere cheese. Place it under your boiler to melt the cheese all gooey. I served this with a French Dip sandwich.

Oh, so good. A perfect comfort food...made for crisp fall afternoons, your grey sweater, the quiet jazz, turning leaves and a homecoming of a loved one.

Makes 4-6 servings.

1/2 C unsalted butter
4 onions
2 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme
salt & pepper
1 C red wine
3 tbl flour (heaping)
2 qt beef broth
baguette, sliced
1/2 lb gruyere cheese

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

C.R.A.P. #2

Gadgets, Gadgets, Gadgets. A gadgeteer I am not, that is to say I do own gadgets, it’s just now I am more particular about which ones to own.  If you read my earlier post, I explained whom C.R.A.P. is. I guess C.R.A.P. may be a bit harsh for this group; they work I suppose but I think my alternatives are better.  It seems there is a never ending supply of “new and improved” kitchen gadgets and the companies that make them are laughing all the way to the bank.

The first one up today I will call C.R.A.P….onion goggles. Really? What a joke.

 According to an article by the Michigan State University science department..” When you cut an onion, the contents on each side of the membrane can mix together freely and the enzyme causes the sulfur compound to undergo a series of chemical reactions. These reactions produce molecules such as ethylsufine which make your eyes water.”

There are various theories of how to prevent this from happening, cut the onion under water…whaa?  Have the air circulating such as an open window…yah, I guess so.  Cool down the onion a bit in the freezer…nah. One site said “put bread in your mouth”…what the #@$%?

My answer (and a lot of others), use this mysterious tool.  A knife sharpener…ooh! “Well gee Mr. Blog Man, how do I cut and onion with that?” Well, you don’t Billy, because you’re too stupid to be in the kitchen using tools. A sharp knife and the knowledge on the proper way to slice an onion is all you need.

Here’s another weird one…some kind of auto-magic garlic slicer-dicer thing…for 60 friggin dollars!!!. Again, a knife works just fine, but if you want to use something else, this does the job quite well for around $12 bucks.

Now, you know what is just around the corner kids? That’s right! Thanksgiving! And what do we eat at Thanksgiving…that’s warm and white and fluffy? No, not the cat! Mashed Potatoes of course! Now, we all grew up seeing this in Mom’s kitchen drawer and we probably have on as well.  

It works but take a look at this one. Doesn’t it make sense using this with downward pressure?

This is really better…a ricer.

Or this one, very handy as it can also be used for tomatoes for sauce or apples for apple sauce and you don’t need to peel them. The cut and cooked potatoes (or apples, tomatoes, etc) are thrown into this contraption and you grind away, then reverse and the blade smears off the skins from the holes, then go again. A perfect job for your out of town guests! What ever you use, DON’T use a mixer…it will break down the potato and turn the whole thing to paste.

Friday, October 7, 2011


...according to Wikipedia, chimichangas either originated in Tucson or Phoenix Arizona. Which ever you want to believe, "chimichanga" apparently means "thingamajig" in spanish...as in WTF is that?
Basically, a chimi is a deep fried burrito. "Whoa right there Mr. Blog Poster Man! Tell me, wont you please about burritos then!"
Well now..alrighty, let me think. Well, it all started way back. Back before you and I were even born! Burrito means "little burro or donkey" in spanish. The burrito you and I enjoy are a San Francisco style burritos which originated in Mission District in the 60's. Note: One should not order a burrito "mission style" as that may come with a slap across your face. 
Others say it started in Los Angeles at a restaurant in 1954 and still others say a variation was know to be in Mexico (of all places), but these were much simpler renditions of one or two fillings, not the meat-beans-rice-cheese-kitchen sink versions we like.
"WOW! That is probably the most interesting thing I have ever learned, Mr. Funny and Handsome Blog Posting Man. How do you make yours?"

Okay, okay....settle down.  Since normal people, that is, non 14-year-old-man-boys-growing-8-to-9-inches-an-hour people...eat just one, find extra large flour tortillas. I've seen some on TV cooking shows using what looks like 18" diameter tortillas, the largest ones I have found are about 12" which is plenty big. The fillings can run from chicken, hamburger, shredded beef, pork...hell throw tofu in if you want. Whatever you use, it is usually stuffed, gooey, cheesy. 

This go around I used some leftover chicken I hand shredded, some Uncle Bens white rice in a microwave steam bag which cooks in 90 seconds. I mixed it with some salsa and bingo! instant Mexican rice.

Since everything was already fully cooked, I first smeared some refried beans on the tort, added some chicken, rice, cheese and a bit of some fire roasted green chilies. Roll it over once, fold over the edges, roll again and secure with a toothpick.  
Now, I don't deep fry mine, I bake it. Brush it with some EVOO (thats Extra Virgin Olive Oil) and bake it on a sheet pan at 350 or whatever. Watch it closely as it can change from lightly blond toasted to charcoal in about 3 nano-seconds. All you are doing is heating and melting everything inside since the ingredients are already cooked. 

I picked up some Hatch 5 pepper sauce for a base. Side Note...Hatch chilies from Hatch, New Mexico state they have the worlds best chile pepper with a festival, I have seen raw Hatch chilies in the Seattle area at one store. It's fun to mix it up and try non-run of the mill brands.
I sprinkled some chopped onion, black olives, cilantro, pickled jalapenos and cotija cheese on it...a little homemade guac and YUM!

 "Thank you Mr. Very Funny and Very Handsome, Debonair, Smart,
Incredibly Well...umm...Dressed Blog Posting Man!"