January 27, 2015

Chicken Stock

The spices didn't want to photobomb,
but thyme makes fools of us all. Puns!
There's something special about a good chicken stock. As some people may recall, I'm often a fan of replacing it with vegetable stock. But sometimes you just need the genuine article. And since it really isn't feasible to fly out your grandmother every time you feel like soup, sometimes you have to nut up, get creative, and backwards manufacture some awesome goddamn stock from some idealized memories of how awesome things were when we were young! It's the same mental process people go through when voting, but with a much better result. 


1 Onion
1 lb Carrots
1 Bunch 'O Celery
1 Parsnip
1 Average sized Ginger Root
2 TBSP salt
1 tsp ground Thyme
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
An unspecified amount of Water
3 lb Assorted Chicken Bits (go for something with bones and collagen, like necks or wings, for an awesome depth of flavor. But, if you like paying more for worse soup, feel free to put in chicken breast. Don't let anybody tell you that you're a sucker, no matter how obvious it is!)

The first step here is to peel your ginger, parsnip, carrots, and celery. Because peels are covered in dirt and grime, which has an unfortunate and mysterious habit of tasting like dirt and grime. If you really don't want to peel these things, either because you're a contrarian or because some witch doctor told you not to, you can get away with just vigorously rinsing the carrots and parsnip. For similar reasons (the presence of dirt, not you being a witch-doctor-beliving nonsense-person), now is a good time to rinse your celery. 

I don't know why they call it scum.
 Gunk seems more appropriate.
Once your vegetation is all nice and clean, chop it into large chunks. You're going to eventually be straining it out, so you want your veggie bits to be easy to spot and/or remove. Take a large pot, and place all your vegetables, and your chicken bits, inside. Fill it up until there's about an inch and a half of water covering the ingredients (some people choose to use filtered or even bottled water for soups and stocks. But then they WASH all of their utensils and pots in regular water. These people are stupid). Finally, add your salt, pepper, and thyme to your pot 'o eventual goodness. Bring the whole thing to a boil, and then cover it with a lid and reduce the heat to low. Cook it like that for about an hour and a half.

Scum free, and ready to mingle
Now for the fun part, and by "fun" I mean "kind of gross, but not that bad, really." There's something people call "scum" that generally forms on the top of chicken stock. It's tasteless, and ultimately harmless, but it's pretty ugly. Kind of like Howard Stern. You can use a spoon to remove it about 20 minutes into the cooking process if you'd like. Or you can leave it. It'll disperse and your stock will be slightly cloudier and darker. It's like a choose-your-own-adventure book, except there are only two options worth noting! (so it's EXACTLY like a choose-your-own-adventure book) In any event, once your stock is finished cooking, the only thing left to do is to strain the chicken and vegetables out, using any method you prefer based on your access to kitchen gadgets and/or wussery. And there you have it! Delicious, versatile chicken stock, for you make sauces, soups, and various whatnots.

January 20, 2015

Deli Roll

Good lord Pastrami, cover up your shame
There are some foods that are unique to a place, a people, or a way of life. They exemplify and catalogue a culture, in culinary form. And there are other foods that are equally unique to people, places, games & hobbies (that was a Trivial Pursuit pun, for the slow class) that are clearly just lazy ways that lazy people decided to throw together some food. Lazily. But that doesn't mean we can't take that laziness and make some awesome food with it.

1 sheet of Puff Pastry
1/4 lb Smoked Turkey
1/2 lb Pastrami
1/2 an onion (if you have trouble finding this, take a whole onion, and cut it once down the middle)
1/2 a jar, marinara (yes, if you're a purist, you can also make this yourself. But that involves peeling tomatoes, which is annoying as hell, and also a different recipe)
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
An average sized human's pinch of salt
An optional egg

Warning: Aroma may cause passing
hobos to cartoonishly rise into the air
The first step to this recipe is to find the rules for being a 3rd generation US transplant from Eastern Europe. The second step is to throw those rules out the window. Because we're badasses, and we can do that. Next, dice your onion segment and saute it in your oil over medium heat for 5 minutes. Chop up half of your pastrami, and add it in. Stir it occasionally, and let it keep cooking down until it smells roughly like the combination of delicious cows and all the joy in the universe. Then add in your marinara, salt, and pepper. Let it cook for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Hey guys! I'm puff pastry! I'm just
here to take your dignity. And soul.
Now take your puff pastry. Likely, you had to buy this frozen from a store, and forgot to defrost it ahead of time. Feel stupid, and let it defrost until it's easily workable (approximately, 1 lifetime). Smear your pastrami-tomato-onion goop all over that puff pastry. Then layer the remaining pastrami and turkey on it. Now comes the fun part, and by "fun" I mean "terrifying." You get to roll your sheet of puff pastry up into...roll form. And if you do it wrong, or the pastry tears, the innards will spill out, and everybody will laugh, and NOBODY will ask you to junior prom.

Awww....look at how CUTE it is.
Let's eat it. 
Pretty much, you tuck the sides in, and just roll. Do your best. Try not to freak out when something inevitably goes wrong and you have to use a second piece of puff pastry to patch the first piece. If you're feeling extra adventurous, beat an egg and brush it on top of your now completed, and hypothetically roll shaped, roll. This will cause it to get all golden and cool-looking in the oven, but isn't necessary. Bake it at 350 degrees until it's golden brown and awesome looking. That usually takes about an hour, but every oven is different. And there you have it! A delicious and vaguely regional delicacy made more palatable with some work, a little ingenuity, and a lot of pastrami!

January 13, 2015

Dunken Gummies

These gummies were 10 years sober. Sad stuff.
The first time that I saw a video online of somebody infusing gummy bears with alcohol, I knew it was something that I'd be trying. That day. Because the concept is awesome. A compact, snackable treat that's got an alcoholic kick to it. It's practically the American dream. So I ran out, bought some supplies, and made the exact recipe I'd seen on the interweb. It came out...ok. But it had the potential to be better. So I tinkered and tinkered until I'd made a truly incredible recipe. And also got super drunk on gummy bears.


12 oz Assorted Gummy Creatures (bears, worms, flamingos, whatever. Just make sure they're fruit flavored, which the vast majority of things in the gummy-verse are.)
1/2 cup Triple Sec
1/2 cup Peach Schnapps 
1/2 cup Mango Rum
An unspecified amount of Vodka
A resealable plastic container

The first thing to do is to take your gummy creatures and dump them in to your container. Bonus points if you create a gummy diorama of their natural environment. Then dump in your rum, schnapps, and triple sec. Triple sec, for those who don't know (and I suppose, also for those who do know) is an orange flavored liqueur, and is a common component in mixed drinks. Why isn't it just CALLED orange liqueur then? Because back in the day, the creator decided that he wanted to screw with you. Yes you personally. He was kind of a dick. 

Anyhow, once your fruity booze is all up in your container, grab your trusty bottle of vodka. Add in a splash of vodka. A "splash" is a nonsense measurement found in lazy recipes. Roughly speaking, it means "a little bit, but not TOO little. Just...sort of figure it out." Super helpful, I know. Essentially, what the vodka is doing here is determining just how strong your alcoholic gummies are. But the stronger they are, the more they'll taste like the alcohol, and the less they'll taste like artificially sugary bears and worms and armadillos. So, based on your preference, add anywhere from 2 tablespoons to a 1/4 cup of vodka. 
Does anybody remember what happened last night?

Once all of the booze is in, seal up your container, and shake it up to separate any gummies that are stuck together, allowing your alcohol to get into every last gummy crevice. Put you container 'O goodness in to the fridge, and let it sit for 12 hours, shaking occasionally to redistribute your gummies and booze. And that's it! The gummies should have soaked up most, if not all, of the alcohol, and will have turned super awesome. And kind of slimy. But that's the price we pay for combining an alcoholic coma with a diabetic coma. Totally worth it.

January 6, 2015

Balsamic Spinach Salad

None of these product brands have paid me to be pictured.
Or, to put it another way, I'm getting screwed.
Every now and again, despite our best efforts, we all end up making a salad. Maybe you're hosting a meal and don't want the women there to think you're a caveman. Maybe the only store near you is a produce store. Maybe you're just depressed and want to punish your mouth. It's nothing to be ashamed of; it happens to the best of us (I'm lying to comfort you). The important thing is to not let it get you down! Just because you're eating the food that normal food eats, it doesn't mean you can't make it awesome! Does it? Probably not!


4 cups of Baby Spinach
1 pint of Raspberries
1/2 cup Slivered Almonds
2 TBSP Apricot Jam (What exactly is the difference between jam and jelly? I don't care. Also, shut it)
3 TBSP Balsamic Vinegar
3 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp Tamari (Tamari is kind of like a rich Japanese soy sauce that tastes mostly like soy sauce. But more so. If that doesn't make sense to you, you haven't had Tamari. NOTE: side effects of Tamari include cyclical logic)

The first step is to weep for your lost manhood. Or womanhood. Or PRIDE, dag nabbit...hood. Once you've established that life has gone downhill via weeping, it's time to wash your salad. That may sound like a Roy Rogers way of threatening to kick someone's ass, but I was being literal. Fruits and vegetables tend to grow either in the dirt, or in a dirt-adjacent location, and bring lots of fun critters and dirt along with them. So wash them, or resign yourself to having a gritty salad full of unintended protein.

Now that you've washed everything, and probably taken a few showers, to get that image out of your mind, you can start assembling your salad. First let's make us a dressing. Mix together your vinegar, oil, tamari, and apricot jam, using any of these mixing implements, listed in order of descending wussiness:

food processor/blender
immersion blender
mechanical whisk,
manual whisk,
hunting knives,
sheer willpower/telekinesis

Is it wrong for a picture of salad to make me hungry? Maybe.
Now the time has come to pour your clean spinach, raspberries, and dressing into a large bowl, and toss them together, using either bourgeois salad tongs, wholesome working-class forks, mildly gross hands, or the aforementioned telekinesis of badassery. Then sprinkle the almonds over the top, and enjoy despite its inherently salad-y nature!

Optional/tasty extra step for masochists:
To make your salad even more awesome, toast the almonds. Spread them out on a sheet pan, and put them in a 300 degree oven. Check in on them OFTEN, because nuts that are roasting are devious little buggers. They like going from not cooked at all, straight to super burned with as little in-between time as possible. They do this because they're jerks who like screwing with you. Don't give them the satisfaction. Thwart them with your vigilance! I'm done now.