Archive for October, 2009

Proportions for Spice Mix

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

For the record–most people need amounts in order to duplicate a recipe. We tried this after watching you and messed up on proportions and it didn’t come out the same as when you did it. Please be a little more specific.


Thinking back about 14 years ago, I remember wanting to know how to make tuna salad. You gave me a list of ingredients, and I asked how much of each. “I don’t know,” you replied. “As much as you need.”  If those directions worked for tuna salad, why can’t they work for a spice mix, too?  You mix it up, taste it, evaluate the proportions, and correct it as need be.

Oh well, I’m not going to argue with you.  Instead, I went down into the kitchen and made a batch of the spice mix and measured how much of everything went into it.  I hope you enjoy the spice mix as presented here, but feel free to taste and adjust according to your own palate: too bitter?  Add a bit of sugar.  Too spicy?  Add a bit of everything but the pepper.  You get the idea.

Spicy-Sweet Spice Mix (great as a seasoning for grilled pineapple!)

  • Cinnamon: .3 oz by weight (approx 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons)
  • Salt: .2 oz by weight (approx. 1 teaspoon)
  • Crushed red pepper: .2 oz by weight (approx. 1 tablespoon)
  • Sugar [optional---not necessary for pineapple but useful when the spice mix is being used on something less naturally sweet]: .2 oz by weight (approx. 1 teaspoon)
  • Allspice: .1 oz by weight (approx. 1 teaspoon)

Yield: 1 ounce by weight (3 tablespoons by volume)

Hope this helps!

Spicy Grilled Pineapple

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

There’s still plenty of good grilling time in the Northern Hemisphere until winter takes hold. In the southern hemisphere, you should be looking forward to a long summer of tasty grilled meals. Either way, here’s a great recipe for you to use.

Spicy Grilled Pineapple

Cut the skin from a fresh pineapple and divide it into quarters through the core. Using the tip of your knife, remove the core from each 1/4 pineapple. Slice on the bias into “gems” of desired thickness: I recommend about one-half inch. Season each slice on both sides with a touch of salt and a sprinkling each of cinnamon, allspice, and crushed red pepper.

Grill, and serve immediately to rave reviews.

Revised Garlic Peeling Instructions

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

In text and video, I have recommended peeling garlic by first crushing it with the flat side of your chef’s knife.  I wish to revise my suggestion to indicate that crushing it with your bench scraper is a safer way to handle things.

Over the weekend, distracted by several things going on at once, using a wet knife, and exhibiting an overall carelessness and complacency while wielding a sharp knife, my hand slipped as I pressed down on a garlic clove and my wrist met the blade of my knife.  It sounds worse than it was: it was a very shallow cut and I was never in any sort of danger, but the placement of the wound was disconcerting in that had it been worse and had it been deep, I would have been in rough shape.

So, please, be safe.  Use your bench scraper to crush your garlic.

Candied Nuts

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

Aurora’s birthday is next week, so we had a little party last night to celebrate.  The party featured a mashed potato bar, which I had fully intended to photograph because there were so many tasty options of what to mix with one’s mashed russet or sweet potatoes.

But, as often happens, I got so wrapped up in the experience that it didn’t occur to me to grab my camera until it was too late and Aurora and I were cleaning up at the end of the night (not much point in point and shoot at that point, eh?).

Nevertheless, there was one aspect of the toppings bar that needs to be documented if for no other purpose than so I can recreate it later: the candided nuts I invented to accompany the sweet potatoes.  Lightly sweetened, they were more pleasing to my tongue than some of the ovedrpoweringly candied nuts I’ve tasted from elsewhere in the past.  Egg whites served as a binding agent to adhere the spices and sugars to the nuts, and contributed, I believe to the crispness of the coating.

Spiced Nuts

  • 3 1/2 cups mixed pecans and walnuts
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg
  • ginger
  • dash of cardamom
  • 2 dashes of cloves

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and toss to coat nuts.  Spread onto a sheet tray and bake at 450F for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and use a good spatula to remove nuts from the tray to a clean mixing bowl immediately.  A couple of the nuts on the outskirts may be burnt—if that’s the case, leave them behind.  Toss the nuts a few times as they cool to make certain that they separate and don’t coagulate into one huge clump.  Enjoy as a stand-alone snack, on top of ice cream sundaes, mixed in with mashed sweet potatoes, or however else you see fit.

Folks with a sweet tooth should feel free to increase the sugar content slightly.