April 26, 2016

Matzah Balls

They bled yer mama, bled yer papa, but they won't bleed you
Matzah Balls are kind of interesting. They're, by Hollywood's dumb standards anyway, the quintessential Jewish foodstuff. They taste awesome, aren't particularly hard to make, and still, pretty much the only time any of us has any is when we're at a jewish holiday meal in the certified home of a genuine Jewish grandmother. And I, for one, am sick and tired of hiding in their attics hoping for a scraps (The creepiest thing I've typed on this blog to date, ladies and gentlemen. Let's see if we can beat that record.)


1 Cup Matzah Meal (For the "differently Jewish" among you, Matzah is a terrible terrible cracker Jews consume for religious reasons during Passover. Matzah Meal is what happens if you crush it into itty bitty pieces over and over, so that you never have to see its stupid matzah face again.)
4 Eggs
2.5 TBSP Schmaltz (As I've mentioned before, schmaltz is rendered chicken fat. For an inauthentic version of how to achieve this, demonstrated by a woman who is clearly writing a novel in her free time in which she murders absolutely everybody she knows, click here!)
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Ground Ginger
1 Average Sized Human's pinch of White Pepper
Chicken Stock!

The first thing you're gonna need to do is channel your inner Jewish grandmother. This mostly involves hinting to every relative you have that they really should call and visit more often unless of course they want you to sit alone and forgotten in your big empty house, and dropping the hint that they'll die of a wasting sickness if they don't start eating more. Also some light housework. Once it's all done, collect your eggs together, tearfully explain to them what they're about to go through, and then beat them until their insides are all mixed together. Add in your matzah meal, schmaltz, salt, ginger, and pepper, and stir to combine. Then cover that weird glop, shove it in the fridge, and let it think about what it's done for at least 15 minutes.

Not pictured: thousands of years of persecution, soup
While your gunk is in the fridge getting to know itself, heat up a pot full of chicken stock until it boils. Fill up a cup with water, and set it to the side. Take your matzah sludge out of the fridge (Assuming it's been at least as long as I told you to wait. Don't be using that statement as an excuse to ignore my instructions and still blame me for your inevitable demise. I'm looking at you, the entire nation of Zambia). Dip your hands into the water that you totally didn't forget to set aside, and form your matzah goop into balls about the size of a golf ball. Let them sit for a minute to get a false sense of security, and then dump those suckers right into your boiling chicken stock. Cover them and let them boil for about an hour, when they've doubled in size, are soft and fluffy throughout, and are no longer calling out for help or whistling. And that's it! Serve them in delicious soup if you're authentic. Serve them on their own if you're trying way too hard. The point is, you're not gonna have any leftovers. Also, regardless of who you are, you're like one eight more Jewish now. You're welcome.

April 19, 2016

Hot Chocolate

Actual recipe may vary
It's getting close to the end of April, and if the crazy fluctuations in the weather everybody keeps freaking out about are any indication, it's spring. Also, the calendar says it's spring. Also, this is when spring has always been in the northern hemisphere of this planet for pretty much ever. So if you didn't know it, you must be stuck in some godforsaken place with no seasons like LA where there's currently a heatwave. Fortunately, with enough mint, alcohol, and mint alcohol, the delicious warm awesomeness that is hot chocolate can still somehow seem cool and refreshing. At least that's what I'm telling myself.


1 Cup Whole Milk
1.75 Cups Heavy Cream
2 TBSP Powdered Sugar
1/2 Cup Regular Sugar
1/2 Cup Dark Chocolate
1 tsp Peppermint Extract
Peppermint Schnapps
An average sized human's pinch of Salt

The first thing you're gonna need to do is make some whipped cream. Notice, I said "make" some whipped cream, not "buy" some whipped cream. For the nonsense hipsters among you, this is totally because store-bought whipped cream is full of artificial toxins that poison our bodies with their lack of a 300% mark-up and frivolous use of words like "organic." For the sane among you, it's because homemade whipped cream is so much better. And it lets you add flavorings. So take 3/4 of a cup of your heavy cream, along with your powdered sugar and your peppermint extract, shove them in a bowl together, and whisk the absolute crap out of them. For a short period of time. Whisk until your arm has been wanting to fall off for about 5 minutes, but your jerkstore skin and muscle tissue won't let it. Technically, what you're looking for with this stuff is called "stiff peaks," but what that means in human terms is pretty much, keep going until it looks like whipped cream. Once it does, stop, otherwise you'll end up with a grainy useless mess, and a life full of regret and shame.

Yeah, I'm way too distracted by that awesomeness to write
something pithy here. Sue me.
Add your milk, regular sugar, salt, and the rest of your cream to a saucepan, and crank the heat up to a gentleman's medium. Heat up your milk mixture to the point where it's just starting to steam a little bit, but isn't boiling, and stir in your chocolate until it's melted. Yes, your arm wants to fall off from all of your whisking back with your cream. You're still gonna stir in this chocolate. How? Here's a helpful guide. Once your chocolate is melted, turn off your heat. Yes, this stuff tastes incredible as is. But it's even better once it's all assembled, so control yourself. Pour some peppermint schnapps into the bottom of a glass (How much schnapps? As much as you want. There are no wrong answers. Adjust it to your taste. And remember, alcohol doesn't count if it's in a warm drink.), add in your chocolate milk making sure to leave about an inch of space in your cup, and then top the entire thing off with your whipped cream. In case you can still hear me over the sound of yourself actively salivating, you're welcome.

April 12, 2016

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

If your artichokes aren't heirlooms, you're basically just a
garbage person. Gandhi said that.
So you've decided to finally start eating healthy, and are totally stoked to see how you can make things like spinach and artichokes actually taste like people food! You fool! Yes, some things are better for you than other things. But sometimes, in order to make those healthy things even a little bit palatable, you need to load them up with a bunch of unhealthy things, which kind of kills the point vis-a-vis nutrition. And some things are just awful no matter what you do to them (I'm looking at you, Kale) So congratulations, you're doomed! Well, maybe you're not doomed. But if you're looking for a way to make all those foods you avoid taste awesome without adding in any calories, look elsewhere. Because while this recipe is full of tastiness, it's also very full cheese, cream, and fat. Which is one of the main reasons why, you know, it tastes good. So if that's a deal-breaker for you, so long, and good luck learning how to choke down your daily kale-and-flaxseed breakfast smoothie. I'll be over here, not hating life.


Fresh Spinach (Way more spinach than you think you'll need. Like 5 cups of spinach
1 can/jar/12-14 oz. containment vessel of Artichoke Hearts
8 oz. Cream Cheese
4 oz. Sour Cream
1 standard-issue Onion
2 cloves of Garlic
The juice of 1/2 a Lemon
1 dash of Hot Sauce 
2 TBSP Olive Oil
An unspecified amount of Salt 

The first thing you're gonna need to do is get over the fact that you think you have too much spinach. We get it. You think you have way too much spinach. You're wrong, so learn to deal with it. Finely dice up your onion into itty-bitty onion bits and sauté it, along with an average human's pinch of salt, in your oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Roughly chop your spinach and throw it in with the onions and another average human pinch of salt. Yes, it pretty much overflows out of the pan because there's so much spinach. No, you still don't have too much spinach. Let your spinach cook down with your onions for another 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Rinse and drain your artichoke hearts that were brutally ripped from the beating chests of young sacrificial artichokes. Choppity chop those suckers, along with your garlic, into tiny bits. Turn your head back to your pan and freak out that you don't have enough spinach. Try to appreciate the irony of the situation, and rest-assured that you have enough spinach. Add in your garlic and artichokes, and sauté for another 2 minutes.

Make sure to have a girl named LeAnn suggest that you put
it in a bread bowl. Otherwise it's not authentic. 
Now comes the fun part, and by "fun" I mean "fattening." Splorp your cream cheese down on top of that hot mess of vegetables and stir the whole thing into a nice sludge-like consistency. Make sure to listen for the cries of anguish from passing-by health nuts and vegans. These will make you, and your dip, stronger. Add in your lemon juice, sour cream, and hot sauce, and stir to combine. Taste it and adjust the salt to your liking. But plan ahead. If you're gonna be dipping salty things into it, you want the dip itself to be a little under-salted. And vice-versa. Of course, it doesn't really matter since you stopped reading after the word "taste" because you haven't been able to stop tasting, and you've probably dropped your phone, laptop, microfiche, or whatever it is you're reading this blog on in your efforts to get at that goodness faster. Because while it may not be healthy, this stuff tastes goooood. Healthy food is overrated anyway. The much more important bit is whether your food sounds healthy so that you can lord over your friends how healthy your life-choices are. And Spinach Artichoke Dip fits the bill, despite being about 50% cream cheese. You're welcome.

April 5, 2016

Chicago Pizza

Chicago: City of broad shoulders and thick pizzas
Let's get one thing clear. This post isn't about bashing New York pizza as inferior. That said, this will be the best pizza you've ever had. Also, New York pizza is terrible. Well, at least it is now. Because when I say "New York pizza," I'm not talking about what New York pizza used to be, which most of us would just call regular pizza. I'm talking about the nonsense that's popped up more recently where New Yorkers, feeling threatened by the thick slab of awesome that is Chicago Pizza, started taking pride in getting their crust as thin as humanly possible, to the point where you're pretty much just eating a cheesy cracker. The point is, there is absolutely nothing wrong with regular pizza. But there's something incredible about Chicago style pizza, which is full of flavor and weighs more than you do. And also, modern New York cracker pizza is an abomination to the pizza lord. Their time will come.


3 cups Flour
1 cup warm Water (if you can't find warm water at your local supermarket, but some regular water and throw fire at it)
32 oz. Tomato Sauce
10 oz. Mozzarella
10 oz. Spicy Sausage (If, like me, you fall into the religious Jew category of life, or if you fall into the vegetarian category, use vegetarian sausage. If, like me, you've discovered that vegetarian sausage sucks, make your own using fake ground meat, spices, butter, flour, tomato sauce, and fire.)
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
1/4 cup Olive Oil 
1/4 cup softened Butter
1/4 cup Corn Meal (Chicago Pizza is very 1/4 cup-centric. This dates back decades to the Bears inability to get a decent quarterback. It's a sad story, but it makes for good pizza. I'm gonna call it worth it)
2 tsp Salt
1 packet of Instant Yeast
More Olive Oil!
A cast iron skillet!

The first thing you're gonna need to do is channel your inner Chicagoan. For me, that's not a problem, since my inner Chicagoan happens to also be my outer Chicagoan. So much so that I hunted down a Packers bar out here in LA, and watched a Bears/Packers game there dressed in an array of Bears gear. For the rest of you, just fake it and commit hard. Once you've got that down, mix your Yeast and your Water, and let them sit for a couple minutes to get to know each other. If necessary, play some smooth jazz. Then mix in your Vegetable and Olive oils and whisk until it all looks homogenous. Add in your Corn Meal and your Flour, and get ready for some fun. In case you were wondering, by "fun" I meant "kneading. All of the kneading. All that there could be." Some swanky recipes will tell you to use a "stand mixer," with a "bread hook," to make this part easier on your hands. But since I happen to be a man, and not some sort of nonsensical hipster boychild, we're doing this by hand. Also, I don't own any of those things. Mix your dough until it starts to form a goopy ball of dough in the middle of your bowl (By the way, you should have been mixing these things in a bowl, not just throwing them down on an increasingly messy table) then start to knead the crap out of it. Take the heel of your hand, and press it into your dough mound. Then stretch it over itself. After about 2 minutes, add in your Butter, and then continue until your arm hurts, and you wish you'd never read this blog in the first place. About 5 minutes, all things considered.

I warned you. The best pizza you've ever had. Chicago
pizza: anything less would be uncivilized.
Take your dough ball, and put it in bowl you rubbed down with Olive Oil. Let it sit there for about 40 minutes to rise. Once it rises, punch it down to teach it a valuable life-lesson. Then let it rise again just to give it hope for a better tomorrow. Now it's time to assemble this pizza. Rub some Olive Oil on your cast iron skillet, and plop your dough ball down in the middle. Gently press it down and out towards the edge of the pan, and eventually up the sides of it, forming a thin layer. It will try to spring back down into the pan like a jerk. Keep pulling it back up the sides of the pan. Be persistent, and break its will. Then spread out your sausage in a layer along the bottom. Top it with a layer of your Mozzarella, and finally a layer of Tomato Sauce. Take that whole pan full of awesome and throw it into a 425 degree oven for 40-60 minutes, until the crust gets golden and awesome looking. Once it's ready, try your best to let it cool slightly before digging in. Fail at this, and give yourself consolation points for not just shoving yourself face-first into the pizza, disfiguring burns be-damned. Fail at this too. Enjoy!