Archive for October, 2006

The Most Efficient Way to Core an Apple

Friday, October 13th, 2006

Hint: It’s not with an apple corer

It’s very easy to get the largest possible yield from your apples. This 30-second video shows you how.

see how it's done!

Slice the apple in thirds parallel to the equator of the fruit. Then, cut around the small, green circle of the core. There is less core at the top and the bottom of the fruit than there is in the center where the seeds are. By dividing the apples into thirds, you get a higher percentage yield than if you use a corer or slice across the whole fruit.

The International Academy of Tastes

Thursday, October 12th, 2006

Dear Dr. Orange,

When I was in elementary school we learned about the taste buds on the different parts of the tongue. If I remember right these were sweet, salty, sour and bitter. Recently I heard a story on NPR about another taste called umami that was identified in Japan. I just checked it out and found another possible taste having to do w/ fatty acids. This is really rocking my world! How does a flavor get to be classified as a taste? Is there an International Taste Association? What’s the story? How do food artists like yourself use this palette of flavors to create deliciousness?

Curious in PA

Dear Mrs. PA,

When I was in elementary school, they taught us about the four food groups and recommended getting equal portions each of grain, meat, fruit or vegetable, and dairy: thus the invocation to eat three square meals a day. Things change; you turn around and all of a sudden you’re an old fart eating triangularly and trying to taste six things with a tongue you were told is only good for four, wondering when things stopped being the way they used to (whaddaya mean, Pluto’s not a planet? Did my very educated mother just serve us nothing? apparently.). (more…)


Wednesday, October 11th, 2006

Darling Corduroy -

Even though I know hot dogs can’t be good for me, I just can’t say “no” when they’re available at a backyard barbeque or even in my normally healthful fridge. So, I know this is a loaded question, but what are hot dogs made of? Whatever it is, is it safe to eat? Are some dogs better than others? I mean,could they be “graded” like normal meat, or would they all just get an F?

I Put the Hot in Hot Dog

Dear Hottie:

Uh-oh, don’t let my wife know you’re calling me darling; she might get jealous.

Everything in a hot dog is edible; otherwise manufacturers wouldn’t be allowed to put them on the market. In general terms, a hot dog is a sausage made of a 5-4-3 forcemeat: 5 parts meat, 4 parts fat, 3 parts ice or ice water, plus seasonings stuffed into a casing. As with any sausage, it is the recipient of, well, the “less glamorous” parts of the animal: the parts that are more difficult to sell when they’re packaged as themselves: which is to say, the various scraps left over after the animal has been segmented into saleable cuts, etc. If a weiner includes organs (heart or kidney, for example), the organ and the breed of animal it came from must be named in the ingredients list. Different types of hot dogs, though, have different requirements.


Why It’s Better to have Good Knife Skills than a Good Food Processor

Tuesday, October 10th, 2006

One argument I’ve occasionally heard against going through the somewhat difficult process of learning to use your knife like a pro is, “I don’t really need to be able to do all of that because I’ve got a good food processor.” If that’s the case, I’m glad for you; a food processor can be a very valuable tool to have.

Give me a choice between a sharp knife and a food processor, though, and I’ll choose the knife almost every time. Not that the food processor doesn’t have its place occasionally: I’d never be able to make bread crumbs from leftover heels of stale, frozen bread without mine. Likewise it’s handy if I want to grate a large amount of cheese or perhaps even to make pesto (though quite honestly, I think the blender a better tool for that task). As far as mincing vegetables goes, though, I’d just as soon cut mine to a very fine brunoise; and unless I’m making a very huge coleslaw, I’ll shred my cabbage manually, too.


If you’re ever contemplating eating a hound…

Monday, October 9th, 2006

Be safe in the event of extreme hunger calling for desperate measures regarding Fido’s status as a member of the family: “…the risk of trichinosis makes it imperative for hounds to be cooked thoroughly.”

Schott’s Food & Drink Miscellany. New York: Bloomsbury, 2004. page 120

Intro to the Bellevue Tandisque

Saturday, October 7th, 2006

So, my wife says I caught her off-guard posting a piece of fiction whereas until now this had been generally an instructional-type page. The idea behind the Bellevue Tandisque is an inside look at how the commercial kitchen can be. A bit crass? perhaps at times, but that’s how things flow, and if you can’t stand the heat… well, you know the rest. The point of view may shift rapid-fire in scenes on the line; though the changes may cause you some initial confusion, it’s a reflection of the atmosphere when shit hits the fan.

Order Fire Pick-up
Slips coming in faster than ____’s
panties drop on a first date
time loses its relevance
the only when that matters is now because
that’s when things need to be done
and things fall…
into place? or apart?

Friday Night at the Bellevue Tandisque

Saturday, October 7th, 2006

“Table 10’s on fire! Table 53’s on fire! Table 86 is on fire! Table 91’s on fire! Table 14’s on fire!” and still the chef kept calling out tables, even as Guy’s ticket machine kept spewing new orders. “Table 22’s on fire!” He was calling table numbers that Guy hadn’t even looked at yet, trying to pick up orders that Guy hadn’t even put on the grill.

Guy looked up from the pile of fish he was trying to season and throw on to start cooking. “I’m in the weeds!” he called to no one in particular. Perhaps he was hoping that someone would come to his rescue and dig him out of the hole he was in. If that was the case, he was bound to be disappointed. No one else on the line was in better shape than he was.

Two stations down, Brad was about to run out of vegetables. It was his own fault, really: he’d used about an hour of his prep time carving an extremely detailed dildo out of an especially large carrot to give to Tina, the restaurant’s lone lady line cook. Everybody else had thought it was hilarious, especially when Tina had put it in her bag to take home with her. All Guy saw was a waste of time and a promise that he would be in the weeds from the moment he walked in the door Saturday afternoon, when he was working the vegetable station.

Tina, who was between Brad and Guy on the saute station, was cussing up a storm in her husky, smoker’s voice. She had pans going on all eight burners: bourbon chicken, skewers of shrimp scampi, shrimp diavolo, poulet tandisque… and still had a stack of veal dredged in flour in her hand she needed to saute for a scallopini the chef was trying to pick up. She shrugged her shoulders, threw it in a fryer basket, and dropped it into the hot grease of the deep fryer.

“Behind you, coming down!” Stan was pushing his way down the line from the grill station with a filet mignon in one hand. It wasn’t really easy for him to fit his three hundred pounds of lardassdom through the couple feet of space available. Brad didn’t see him coming and turned to toss a pan of vegetables; Stan pushed him out of the way and just barreled on through, screaming, “I said behind you!”, flecks of spittle collecting on his moustache as he bellowed. He reached for the second fryer basket just as Tina was dumping an order of calamari into it. “What the hell?”, he roared, “I needed that basket!”

“For your fucking steak?” Tina shot back, “Go back down and grill it like you’re supposed to. I’ve got too much shit to worry about down here without trying to help you jerk off with your food.”

“I don’t have time to cook it on the grill,” Stan spat back, flinging the steak onto the corner of the fryer. He turned and started lumbering his way back down the line. “Drop it for a couple minutes in the fryer to give it color,” he called over his shoulder, “and then throw it in the microwave to finish. I need it to be mid-well.”

Tina picked up the steak and had her arm cocked to chuck it at the back of Stan’s head when a sharp voice boomed at her from the other side of the line. “Tina!” the chef barked, “We don’t have time for you to be playing games. Fry the fucking steak and get it ready yesterday!”

“Yes, sir.” she grumbled, but as soon as the chef turned around she shouted down the line at Stan, “Watch your back, asshole. I’m gonna burn you.”


Vegetable Cookery Crib Sheet

Wednesday, October 4th, 2006

Could you help me out with a cribsheet helping me figure out what order I should satuee vegetables? I was sauteeing a number of different ones for a veggie lasagna recently, and realized that I wasn’t sure what length of time each had to cook relative to the others.

In general, the length of time any particular vegetable is going to have to cook is dependent upon two factors: its size and its density. Assuming you have all of your vegetables cut to pretty much the same size, the following list is a pretty good crib sheet for what order they should be added into the pan:

    1. carrots, potatoes, beets
    2. turnips, parsnips, winter squashes
    3. onions
    4. broccoli stems, fennel
    5. garlic, peppers
    6. broccoli florettes, apples
    7. collard greens, mushrooms, swiss chard stems
    8. zucchini, summer squash, corn
    9. kale, mustard greens, cranberries, tomatoes (if they’ve been juiced and you want them to still retain some of their shape; otherwise add tomatoes as part of any liquid that goes in the dish and use them to help simmer everything else)
    10. spinach, swiss chard, arugula
      Assume a couple minutes of sauteeing (or, if applicable, roasting) time between each level if your vegetables are cut to a small dice; longer the bigger they are. I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few vegetables from the list. If I’ve neglected your favorite veg, post a comment and I’ll fit it into the list for you.

Huevos con Papas y Col Rizada

Monday, October 2nd, 2006

Eggs with Potatoes & KaleI don’t really have any reason to believe that this dish is of Hispanic origin; I just like the way the Spanish name sounds when you say it out loud. Especially if you know how to speak the language with a decent accent, something I’m unable to do. It’s extremely simple to make and quite tasty; an excellent breakfast or dinner. I suppose you could have it for lunch, too, if you really wanted, but most of the time it seems like lunches aren’t cooked on the stove. Probably because most of the time they’re eaten out of paper bags and contain phrases like “salad” and “sandwich” because we tend to eat them on the go; but that’s neither here nor there.

eggs with potatoes and kale

Eggs with potatoes and kale, pictured here with tortilla chips
and roasted tomatillo salsa

I remember the first time I heard of kale. I was watching re-runs of Cheers one evening while I was still in high school. Woody was spokesperson for a health drink he’d never tasted. When he finally did, he spat it out and screamed, “What’s in this stuff?”, looked at the ingredients and spluttered, “Kale! I don’t even know what kale is!”

It wasn’t for another eight or ten years that I actually tasted the stuff. It turns out that kale is a nutritious and tasty leafy green. It might not be something you’re accustomed to having in your produce drawer, but you should become familiar with it because it’s so good! Most of the time it’s braised or steamed; but I like this preparation because it incorporates the heartiness of the kale into the meal as a whole.