This was a stocking stuffer

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Apropos of nothing, here’s my OXO Meat thermometer. It has seemingly overcooked my last 2 roasts, but it could be user error as I don’t even know what the fuck is going on until really it reaches fucking 140 degrees.

So there’s that.

Ebelskiver

I recently got this Ebelskiver pan from Williams-Sonoma just to prove to myself I could be a navel-gazing self absorbed yuppie elitist if I put my mind to it. I mean, a fucking pan just to make Ebelskiver? From Williams-Sonoma? Can one be more solipsistic? Do I own some sparsely furnished, post-modern pancake house that caters to existentialist Scandinavian misanthropes?

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In any regard it’s pretty neat, and my daughter loves eating this things for weekend breakfast. And it’s really easy, actually, to “stuff” your ‘skivers by dropping your filling (in this instance, a simple paste of melted butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar) on top of the dough as soon as you pour the batter into the wells.

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The filling seeps into the dough, and you’re left with these cute little “popovers.”

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Works with impromptu fresh fruit sauces as well.

I’m usually not one for sweet-ish things, but making your own Ebelskiver is heavy on the neat-o factor. I’m looking forward to attempting a savory ‘skiver…pulled pork?

Williams-Sonoma Ebelskiver Recipe (Copied Verbatim More or Less)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and granulated sugar. In another bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolks, then whisk in the milk and the 4 Tbs. melted butter. Whisk the egg yolk mixture into the flour mixture until well combined; the batter will be lumpy. Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff but not dry peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the whites into the batter in two additions.

    Put 1/8 tsp. melted butter in each well of a filled-pancake pan (ME: or use non-stick spray, which is what I used). Set over medium heat and heat until the butter begins to bubble. Pour 1 Tbs. batter into each well. Spoon 1/2 tsp. of the cinnamon filling into the center of each pancake and top with 1 Tbs. batter. Cook until the bottoms are golden brown and crispy, about 3 minutes. Using 2 skewers (ME: or chopsticks!), flip the pancakes over and cook until golden and crispy, about 3 minutes more. Transfer the pancakes to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter and filling.

    Round eggs

    I’ve long had a round egg fetish, and was pleased when this year I was gifted with a pair of these round egg molds purchased from Crate and Barrel.

    Here are the results of employing the devices to top a smoked ham and anaheim chili hash. As you can see, these eggs are round.

    On a side note, this hash used about $1.12 of raw ingredients, and tasted better than 90% of the hashes I’ve bought on the free market, yet people all over this city line up and wait for 55 minutes for the privilege of paying $10 or more for the same experience. I’ll never understand white people.

    Kaboodle

    This is for us Portlanders who are currently paralyzed with fear by the recent snow and ice:

    Snow and cold have you stuck at home? Have shopping still to do? Let us do it for you, and we’ll ship it for FREE! We’re your locally-owned store in Portland, so we can get it done quickly and get it to you quickly, snow or not. Here’s how we can help:

    Order by December 22nd, and we’ll ship all orders for FREE*.

    For orders over $500, we’ll deliver them ourselves**, even on the weekend.

    Need help? Puzzled over what to give? Call us and we’ll put something together.

    For FREE shipping at kitchenkaboodle.com, enter the coupon code “SNOW” when you check out.

    Pretty cool.

    I’ve never understood why a fat boxer hocks healthy cooking gadgets, but here you go

    George Foreman Fryer Spins Fried Food To Knock Out Fat. (Gizmodo)

    Foreman’s Lean Mean Fryer uses a “Smart Spin” technology after your food’s been fried to allegedly whirl out 55% of the fat absorbed during frying using centrifugal force. I’m not sure how scientific that fat-busting claim is or how safe I feel having boiling oil spinning around in my kitchen, but if you’re a fan of fried foods, this cooking godsend is now available in North America for $150.

    Set it and forget it

    My friend Onna informed me some time ago she actually was bored one day and ordered a Ronco Showtime Rotisserie after seeing an informercial on televion. She said it sat on her kitchen counter for a few years, and she never used it. I took it off her hands, and she even shipped it all the way from L.A. That was very kind of her. It was a gesture of sorts for all the times she’d drove down (when I lived in San Diego) and I’d make her tom yum soup. I suppose she could have found a Thai restaurant in Los Angeles, but that’s besides the point.

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    As you can see, she wasn’t lying—she hadn’t even bothered to turn it on.

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    The Showtime came with these handling gloves, which doubles as safety equipment if happen to work in the field of asbestos removal.

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    Here’s the timing guidelines. I figured I would follow these in the spirit of the original infomercial 1.

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    The chicken turned out pretty well. It was slathered in a paste made from pureed garlic and shallots, smoked paprika, lemon juice, olive oil, thyme, sea salt, pepper.

    What I did next was create a slurry to marinade a lovely leg of lamb I purchased from Costco. Now, this was Australian lamb, which is the lamb they sell at Costco. I have no clue to the provenance of this lamb. I was not friends with it, we did not play cribbage together on Sunday afternoons or spoon while watching You’ve Got Mail on the USA Network. I don’t know if this lamb led an honorable life building miniature windmill power farms, or what it scored on the SATs, or even if the animal was properly instructed in the practices of bikram yoga.

    Since it was Australian lamb, I assume it wasn’t local.

    My slurry consisted of a shitload of garlic, a few branches of rosemary from my bush, coarse sea salt, coarse black pepper, olive oil, the juice of a lemon, a few splashes of red wine vinegar and…Maggi! All of the solid ingredients were mashed together in a mortar, followed by the liquid components.

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    I used this insanely phallic injection device provided by the Ronco corporation to inject the marinade deep into the flesh. I then lathered the remaining marinade all over the roast. It was all very distrubing.

    I put it back in the fridge to chill for a few hours while I drank and pondered the enormity of what I was about to do.

    Let’s roll, bitches.

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    The thing has a switch for rotating that operates independently of the heating unit. The heating unit tends to get really, really fucking majorly hot. It needs to constantly rotate. If the rotary pauses mid-rotation and sits still for more than even a couple minutes, it will really sear the flesh. You’ll think—like I did originally—that you’ll be fine by just “setting and forgetting”, however, with as much concentrated heat being given off, you’ll have to kill the heat continually and set it to rotation-only in order to not burn your roast’s exterior.

    After I constantly reset the rotation/heat, I realized I really wasn’t “forgetting” after “setting”, and thus a general distrust of Ronco Enterprises began to foment within the paranoid back alleys of my mind. Could their cook time guidelines also be misadvertised? It wasn’t as if there was an internal temperature guage that I could monitor—the Showtime is binary. Either really fucking hot, or off. And I was already an hour or more in. I tried looking for my meat thermometer. Why didn’t I find that before I started? I pulled the roast and let it sit.

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    As you can see, it came out well-done. A ruined piece of post-consumer waste recycled cardboard. I’m not going be the fall guy for this shit. I watched the infomercial.

    Fuck you, Ron Popeil. You’re an asshole. If I ever witness your sorry botoxed template around my neck of the woods, I’ll bust a fucking cap in your ass.

    1The fine print in the user’s manual actually informs you that you should monitor the unit when you’re cooking it. But the entire informercial was based on the catch phrase, “Set it and forget it!”. Throughout the course of the entire hour, Ron Popeil himself continually compels the crowd to chant this incantation over and over. He pumps the crowd into a mad frenzy, each member whipped into an agitated froth, and cultivates such a shaman-like persona you’d think he was a method actor cast in an Oliver Stone movie.

    Real Deal Holyfield

    Strange but true: Evander Holyfield releases Real Deal Grill. (Engadget)

    Truth really is stranger than fiction: not only has one former heavyweight champion managed to make a lucrative post-boxing career hawking electric cooking appliances, but now yet another former champ is throwing his proverbial apron into the ring with the release of Evander Holyfield’s Real Deal Grill.

    No word if it can multi-task by cooking a dozen simultaneous meals for all of your illegitimate children. Also, there’s noted, potential defect in that Mike Tyson might show up and bite off the handle. Buyer beware.

    Lipstick on a pig (or, rather, cow)

    A few Xmas-es ago, I got my sister and her boyfriend a Calphalon grill pan as a present. Since they live in San Francisco, amongst the beatniks, grifters, and militant hobos, they are cramped for space and don’t have an outdoor patio by which to grill tasty meats. They claim the Calphalon is the best pan they’ve ever used for cooking steaks indoors. I tend to think nothing tops an old, worn-out cast iron pan, but I’ll let them think what they want.

    Then I watched an episode of America’s Test Kitchen on PBS. That preachy Vermont guy and his trusty oily sidekick ran through a number of stovetop grill pans and proclaimed the Calphalon was the only brand that was worth its anodized aluminum.

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    Since I always need my decisions validated by a third party, I decided to pick one up for myself.

    Tenderizer

    Also, since I had a leftover gift card from Christmas, I bought one of these meat tenderizers. I recalled flipping through the SkyMall™ during some flight and they featured this meat tenderizer that boasted it could make even the most erstwhile cut of beef as tender as sheets of caul fat soaked in rendered lard. Or something.

    Prong

    As you can see, the prongs of the tenderizer are quite menacing. I’m surprised a meat tenderizer was never used as plot device in the Sopranos.

    To test the claims of the shameless copywriters who work for SkyMall™, I decided to pick up a grass-fed top round steak from Whole Foods, a cut you wouldn’t generally eat in steak form. I proceeded to rock the shit out of that flesh, nailing it a dozen times per side, then salted and peppered the pulverized steak before christening on the Calphalon. For good measure I sauteed some red chard in the same grill pan.

    Steak

    So did it work? Does the meat tenderizer make a top round taste like a filet mignon? Of course not, you fucking fool. But it does help a bit, especially if you intend to marinade your meat.

    Into the Vietnamese Kitchen

    I received Andrea Nguyen’s Into the Vietnamese Kitchen as a gift some time ago, and I must say it is the best Vietnamese cookbook I’ve owned.

    The design, layout, and organization are all wonderful. The photography sparkles, and Nguyen herself brings a confident and welcomed voice to the recipes and chapter intros.

    It is quite a comprehensive tome, running the gamut from simple sauces to Vietnamese charcuterie. Nguyen provides a slick primer for bringing authenticity to the table, whether by describing various techniques or detailing a taxonomy of Vietnamese herbs complete with accompanying photos, descriptions, and corresponding Vietnamese nomenclature.

    Ms. Nguyen also runs her own web site and blog, Viet World Kitchen, that is a great companion to the book. Graham @Noodlepie has recently published a Q&A with this great new voice in Vietnamese-American cuisine.

    Uwajimaya

    Today I hung out at Pioneer Place at The Apple Store, while a Genius™ diagnosed my recently serviced Macbook to determine why the optical drive decided to crap out and why the laptop for the most part is developmentally disabled. After an hour of observing shiny happy people and being penetrated in every orifice by the Apple brand experience, I decided to reconcile my Chi by visiting the housewares section of Uwajimaya.

    In addition to picking up a cute 3″x 2″ tamago omelette pan for $5, I found this elongated, bamboo cutting board for $45.00. It really is quite elegant, about the size of a skate board deck. It is perfect for serving/deconstructing an entire cooked fish, and the form factor really fits into my cutting workflow (i.e. cucumbers, squashes, onions – green and otherwise).

    Uwajimaya was running an anniversary special, so everything was 10% off. It was quite a bonus Saturday. I made my rounds and picked up, among other things, a pound of thinly sliced raw pork leg for sukiyaki, mini lemons for .29 cents apiece (they were the size of a lime), nori sheets, frozen chicken and leek dumplings, and two new Korean cup ramen brands I have yet to try. Compared to other Asian markets in the metro area, Uwajimaya’s produce is unparalleled. I picked up beautiful baby bok choy (not the white kind – the pale green kind for which I forgot the name) for .89 a pound.

    On the way out, I stopped by the deli and ordered a bowl of ramen. In the case adjancent to the register, I spied a bunch of deep fried, panko-battered treats, and noticed the fried oysters were 99 cents apiece, and realized that I had 2 dollars, so I got a couple.

    The ramen – insipid. Came with bbq pork slivers and green onion. I prefer to put this behind me, so I won’t speak of it again. My idea was to put the delightful, impossibly crispy and light fried oysters on top of my ramen and bask in the experience, but I took one bite of the oyster and almost threw up. It was cold as a stick of margarine. They really should disclaim this somehow. Granted, I took them home and crisped them in my toaster oven, and ate the oysters with sweet chili sauce and it was quite good.

    Here’s my new mack daddy cutting board.

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    Who’s down with OCD? Every last homey!

    As part of my life long pursuit to osmotically absorb as much OCD as possible from my lovely but clinically insane wife, I recently underwent a weekend hajj to the suburbs. Namely, The Container Store, located at Bridgeport Village. If you’ve never been, Bridgeport Village is an outdoor mall in Tigard/Sherwood that essentially exists as a vacuous, reductive, pre-fab microcosm of everything for which the Terrorists™ hate us for, replete with an Apple Store with a brushed metal facade which oozes Brand® smegma (penetrating your every orifice), a Talbot’s emporium of tweed and sueded satin for the alcoholic Botoxed soccer mom set, and a Sweet Factory candy island featuring gummi colas priced per pound at a greater clip than hangar steak from my local natural food mart.

    But I digress.

    My spice and dried herb situation was getting quite hairy, and I reached deep into the bowels of my own forthrightness and decided, damnit, I was finally going to do something about it.

    I present you the fruits of my labor.

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    I must say that cooking is now a much more organized affair, and I’m much more apt to not wing it as I go along. I can now assemble my dry mise en place with such aplomb that my exhalted sense of self-satisfication has led me to other obsessive-compulsive dallies such as forever reorganizing the meat and produce drawers of my fridge and constantly pruning my Mac desktop using a myriad of ambidextrous keyboard shortcuts.

    Grilled Lemongrass Beef

    Lemongrass beef is one of my all time favorites. It was a go-to staple in my household, and I ate it often and graciously growing up. Thinly sliced beef, marinated in lemon grass, garlic, chili, ginger. My mom used cheaper, lean cuts such as london broil or eye of round – it was a good use of leftover pho tai meat – though you could certainly use a cut with more marbling.

    Grilled Lemongrass Beef

    1 pound london broil
    2 stalks lemon grass
    2 cloves garlic
    1 knob of ginger (I like to grate the ginger using my microplane)
    1 teaspoon sesame seeds
    1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds (or so – i just sprinkled a few on)
    1 tablespoon tumeric
    1/2 tablespoon dried lemongrass
    2 tablespoons sesame oil
    1 teaspoon sweetened chinese black vinegar
    1 teaspoon maggi or soy sauce
    1 teaspoon fish sauce
    Optional – add a couple smashed thai bird chilies (or crushed red pepper flakes)

    Freeze the london broil for 30 minutes. Slice in thin slices (1/8 inch or so).

    Cut off inch or so off the tip of lemon grass, slice off bottom nubs. Slice in half, and then in half again, and mince stalks as fine as possible.

    Combine with all the ingredients and marinade overnight.

    Last year at Uwajimaya I ran across this stovetop griller for use with gas stoves.

    When the stock stove grates are removed, the surface area becomes one large cooking canvas, and slots allow direct flames to shoot up and kiss your food with searing hot, adoring lashes.

    A concentric drip pan sits under the cooking surface and straddles your stove’s gas conduit, and you fill this with just enough water to vaporize the drippings. You don’t want to much water in here or it will bubble over and prevent flames from escaping.

    You can grill pieces in a mack daddy Japanese grill pan like I did recently:

    Or you can certainly use the broiler or a conventional grill pan. But an open flame is the key for getting some good char and caramelization. Here’s beef from the same marinade batch, threaded on a skewer and grilled outside.

    What to eat with grilled lemongrass beef? I ate this with broken jasmine rice, but you could also enjoy the beef on top of rice noodles, garnished with cucumber, mint, cilantro, and julienned red leaf lettuce, and tossed with nuoc mam cham and finished with crushed peanuts. Or you can put all the aforementioned garnish ingredients in a softened rice paper sheet and roll it up like a hand roll and dip in nuoc mam cham or a peanut hoisin sauce.

    I bought a new toaster oven

    I recently purchased this digital convection toaster oven from Cooking.com. It is nice enough, and has different buttons to activate 1, 2, or 4 slice settings. Ovens I’ve had in the past usually toasted unevenly, I believe this ingenious solution addresses this. The frozen bread setting worked ok – you’re probably better off defrosting in the microwave for a few seconds regardless.

    The only weird thing is that there are only 5 temperature settings–180, 250, 320, 400, and 470 Farenheight. This seems kinda stupid – the 180 is pretty useless, and ideally you’d want some iterations between 320 and 400, and 400 and 470. But I’m not planning on doing all that much actual cooking in this thing – for toasting and quick broils, the thing works like a champ.

    Digital convection oven with frozen bread setting.