Archive for January, 2007

Solving Your Easy Hollandaise Problem

Saturday, January 20th, 2007

You can’t make real Hollandaise without heat, and you’re much more likely to make a greasy, highly breakable mess by trying to make the emulsion cold as you describe (at least, every time I try this ‘easy’ method, that’s what I end up with!).


Chances are you’re pouring the butter in too quickly. Drizzle it in very slowly, especially at first—the more fat the egg yolks have emulsified with, the more new fat they are able to handle. In the end, the blender method (performed properly) takes about a minute—approximately ten percent of the time the method you describe takes—leaving nine minutes to pay attention to other parts of the meal.

If you have a question about the world of food, email me, and I’ll try to respond in a future post.

Alarmist? I’d Say So.

Friday, January 19th, 2007

From the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF):

Do you know when your hamburger is cooked sufficiently? Like many people, do you assume it is cooked because it’s brown? According the USDA, one out of every four hamburgers actually turns brown in the middle before it has reached a safe internal temperature!

Admittedly, hamburger can easily carry a higher risk of food-borne illness than other cuts of meat, due to the fact that most of the time bacteria are found mainly at the surface of the meat and ground meat has the surface meat intermingled with everything else. That’s why hamburgers are the only thing I ever order medium-well (I like steaks and roasts medium-rare).

These guidelines are probably quite reasonable for the elderly, small children, pregnant women, or individuals with a weakened immune system. To enact these guidelines for the general population, though, would have us all eating hockey pucks on toast. There’s no reason to cook it ’til it’s charcoal, assuming the ground meat is fresh; and if it’s not fresh, it shouldn’t be served at any temperature, anyway.


Quick Thoughts on Dietary Choices

Thursday, January 18th, 2007

It struck me as I was finishing up yesterday’s post on my recent bulk purchase of beef that somehow my post about being excited at getting a great deal on some fantastic, responsibly-raised beef somehow twisted itself into a lament about the paucity of meat-free dining choices at many eating establishments. Rather an odd conclusion, I thought, but that’s the direction my thought process took me.

I’m pretty sure that’s because I’ve been doing a lot of reading about our food choices and where our food comes from as of late, and I spent much of last summer making visits to small scale farms that do things properly. In case you’ve missed it, I’m opposed to the wholesale factory production of animals for slaughter, though I do enjoy eating meat in moderation. Therefore, I make every attempt to locate and purchase responsibly-raised meat and dairy options.

Because there is so much more meat (and dairy) produced in an irresponsible manner, the items I purchase sometimes cost more than the bulk of similar products on the market. I buy them for several reasons:


Sharing 1/4 of a Bovine

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

1/4 cow, butchered and ready to share

One of the benefits of being a chef is that when friends find out about something related to food, I’m often among the first to be told. So it went with my friend Andi, who is a veterinarian, when she found out that some people she knows had slaughtered and aged one of their pasture-raised beef steers and were looking to sell it wholesale. For a couple of days, it looked like we would have a 1/2 share of the cow to distribute among interested parties; then, at the last minute, our share had dropped to 25%. Still, though, that translated to 80 pounds of meat: enough for six families to get as much as they were interested in having of various cuts of beef.

When the meat entered our house two days before the “draft,” I was at first surprised by how little meat 80 pounds actually translated into. I hadn’t expected we would be able to house the entirety of it in our freezer. Turns out, it fit comfortably on two shelves of it. It wasn’t until the draft got underway that I realized how much meat we actually had on our hands.


Wine Sauce for Pork Roast

Monday, January 15th, 2007

I plan to make a pork “roast” that cooks in wine in the oven when my inlaws are over for dinner soon. If I wanted to use the wine and pork drippings to make a white wine sauce do I need to let it reduce anymore, or would the time in the oven be enough? I have loved the mother sauces tutorials thus far!

I fear I may have dragged my feet too long to be of assistance with your pork roast question and your in-laws may have already visited. If so, I’m sorry about that. I was hoping to try a pork roast out in my kitchen along the same lines so I could have more specific advice to give you, but sadly this hasn’t worked out; and since I’m going to be getting (in conjunction with several friends) 1/4 of a cow in the next couple days, I doubt I’ll be having pork roast anytime in the immediate future. A general (and I hope somewhat helpful) answer to your question would be that it depends on how much wine you’re using.


Moving In and Hungry

Saturday, January 13th, 2007

Dear Corduroy,

I’m getting ready to move into a new apartment and (of course) I’m not looking forward to the process of packing and unpacking. One of the worst parts as far as I’m concerned is arriving at the new place hungry and tired. I won’t want to do much but curl up in the corner—and after the expense of moving, I’d like to avoid ordering in if I can. Do you have any suggestions of easy and quick meals I can actually make after the ordeal of transporting my life to a new city?

Harried and Hungry


This is one of the few times when I think that convenience foods make a lot of sense. Really, who wants to go through tthe ordeal of making an elaborate meal when most of your kitchen is still packed in boxes? If you can get to the basics, though, you can have a decent meal without much trouble with a couple packs of ramen noodles and some tuna helper.

There’s no need to limit yourself to what comes straight out of the packages, though, if you don’t have to. Make an effort to get a potato or two, a couple of carrots, and a head of broccoli. These are all vegetables that travel well and can withstand a bit of abuse along the way. Cut them up to fairly small pieces so that they’ll cook quickly. Boil the potato and carrot in the water for your ramen noodles until they’re soft (probably about 5-10 minutes, depending on how small you cut them) and start your tuna helper by sauteeing the broccoli briefly in the pan before following the directions on the box. The end result should be a fairly easy meal at a fairly low price, and only two pans to wash.

Have a question about cooking or food? Email me, and I’ll try to answer your question in a future post.

Dozen Update

Friday, January 12th, 2007

If you’re a cupcake fan (or even just cupcake-curious), check out my update to my review of Dozen Cupcakes.  I went back yesterday so that I could sample more flavors and have a more complete review of their wares.  Just scroll past what you’ve already read to the bottom of the post where the new section is clearly maked as an update.

Getting Hot and Heavy in the Kitchen

Thursday, January 11th, 2007

I have recently started making my own salsa, but am disappointed by the amount of heat that regular jalepenos add to it. Until recently I had an aversion to peppers (I trace it back to my grandfather chasing me around with one saying “It’ll put hair on chest”. Not exactly what a girl wants). Now I know bell peppers are the mildest, with jalepenos close after and habaneros are the hottest. I want something that I would classify as “medium” heat. Could you maybe list what peppers are suitable for salsa, and their varying degress of heat? I would greatly appreciate it.


Bell peppers are indeed the mildest form of pepper grown, and are a sweet vegetable, as opposed to a hot one. There are varying degrees of heat between them and jalapenos, though, and then several levels between jalapenos and habaneros. Something else to consider is that individual peppers have varying degrees of spice—one jalapeno is not necessarily of the same heat as another. Unfortunately, for the modern jalapeno, that sentiment is doubly true. The food industry is seeking to capitalize on its recognizable name while simultaneously trying to appeal to non-heat loving individuals, and there is a section of growers that is working to breed less hot jalapenos. It’s possible that your disappointing pepper is a result of this effort.


The Results Are In

Wednesday, January 10th, 2007

Thank you to everyone who voted for Corduroy Orange in the Wellfed Network’s Best Food Blog by a Chef Competition. Thanks to your support, Corduroy Orange earned third place in the contest.

Pastry chef, cookbook author, and Chez Panisse alum David Lebovitz ( ran away with the first place prize, earning more than half of all votes cast.

Second place went to Shuna Fish Lydon, also of the San Francisco Bay Area, and the Eggbeater blog (

When I last checked the polls, fourth place was a toss-up between nineteen-year-old culinary student Aidan Brooks’s page ( and bakers (& former Pittsburghers) Kelli Bernard and Andrew Lin’s dessert blog (

These are all great blogs and I’m honored to have been included in their company. Please keep reading Corduroy Orange and sending me your questions, and I’ll keep trying to post interesting and informative articles about the world of food.

Dozen Cupcakes

Tuesday, January 9th, 2007

On January first, I was surprised to check my email and find in it this message from James Gray, owner of Dozen Cupcakes in Squirrel Hill:


I read your blog on Coco’s. I’m so glad that you enjoyed their cupcakes and that they did so well on their opening! Dennis and Shea are very deserving people.

I also wanted to apologize for our delay in opening (yes, I am the owner of Dozen Cupcakes.) I am also sorry that we missed your sis’s birthday. We are officially open now and saw some staggering numbers this past weekend for our opening, too.

I’d certainly like to extend an offer to you and your sister to visit us and give us a try. On me of course! When you do come in, please introduce yourself to me.

Happy New Year,

Long story short, my wife, my sister, and I took him up on his generous offer just a few days later, and we were very pleased with what we found.

three cupcakes from Dozen Cupcakes