Food Neologisms for December, ’08

Tue, Dec 30 • 0

“Bowl of red,” “Randall,” and “Sikparazzi.”

bowl of red n. The fact that a Texas “bowl of red,” as chili is commonly called, has no original relationship with past didn’t matter.

Randall n. Wayne decided to attach a bag of NZ Cascade hops to one of his taps- apparently this is referred to as a “Randall.” It created a crazy hoppy beer that got crazier as more beer was poured through it. After a few hours it just started smelling like a bag of hops straight out of the freezer.

sikparazzi n. Just as paparazzi follow Hollywood stars for a living, hoping to catch them slipping up on film—many so called “sikparazzi,” a combination of the Korean word for food and paparazzi, will be checking up on restaurants and food venders to detect unhygienic, inappropriate or fake ingredients, also in the hopes of a payday.

Lovingly culled from Double-Tongued Dictionary.


Happy Birthday, Cooking Monster!

Wed, Dec 24 • 2

one-yearIt was one year ago today that this blog was born. In that time, there have been 165 posts, or one post every 2 days, on average. The site has received 77 legitimate comments, and 743 spam comments, all of which were deleted.

Cooking Monster has received nearly 54,000 unique visitors, the majority coming from the US (60%) and  Canada (38%).

The single busiest day here in the last year was April 15th, when the post about the Last Meal on the Titanic hit several huge link blogs simultaneously, and 14,408 people hit the site within 24 hours. That entry page still gets new visitors every day, and spawned two sequel entries … What the Other Classes Ate and an investigation into the elusive Waldorf Pudding.

Visitors spend, on average, 54 seconds here, reading 1.29 pages per visit. People are  likely to come here to try to figure out how to cook corn on the cob, or to make a beer batter, the two most popular search phrases. Other popular entries include my brother’s attempts to make east Texas barbecue in his backyard, and my methods for seasoning cast iron or french steel frying pans.

Here’s to Cooking Monster’s first year. Let’s hope our next year sees more beer batter and corn on the cob!


Roast Beast

Sun, Dec 21 • 0

I just tried a new technique for taking a relatively inexpensive cut of beef (the eye round roast) and turning it into a juicy and flavorful roast beef dinner. As usual for the meals I post about here, it’s not fast, since it takes about 30 hours total, but it’s definitely easy. Note: If your roast is smaller (2-3 lbs, 1 kilo), use 2 teaspoons; bigger than that, use 3 teaspoons of salt.

2-4 lb. (1-2 kilos) eye round beef roast, tied
2-3 teaspoons kosher salt (half that for table salt)
2 teaspoons fresh black pepper
3 teaspoons vegetable oil

42-17660079The day before: Remove the roast from the packaging, and coat all sides with the salt. Wrap it up in plastic wrap, and return it to the fridge, on a plate to catch any escaping liquid, and let marinate for 18 to 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 225º/110º c. Remove the plastic wrap and rinse the excess salt off, then dry the meat off on paper towels. Coat the roast with 1 teaspoon of the oil, and apply the pepper to all sides of the roast. The oil will help the pepper stick. Put the remaining oil in a cast iron pan, and sear the roast on all sides, about 3 minutes each side.

Why tie a roast?  First, to keep it in a uniform shape so that it cooks evenly, and second, to hold in stuffing. Be sure to only use butcher’s twine or reusable silicone bands.

Put the roast on a rack in a roasting pan, and cook it for about an hour and a half, or until a thermometer reads 115º/46ºc. for medium rare. Turn off the heat, and let the roast sit in the cooling oven for another 30-45 minutes, where the internal temperature should be 130º/55ºc. Remove the roast from the oven, and let rest at room temperature for another 15 minutes, then remove the butcher’s twine, and slice crosswise, slicing as thin as possible.


Christmas Cookies with Legs

Thu, Dec 11 • 0

42-17861611A week or two ago, I posted a link to Gourmet magazine’s website that listed 60+ years worth of cookie recipes, which is really, really great, unless your intent is to make stuff to send to far off relatives. Almost all the cookies on their list rely on you making and eating the cookies within a couple of days. I’m planning on sending stuff off to my relatives who live 500+ miles away, so I thought I’d do a little research and come up with recipes that I can make that’ll keep fresh for longer than a couple of days. Here’s some that I came up with.

Micheal Chiarello demonstrated an unusual fried cookie that’s later drenched in honey, called Turdilli. On the show I watched, he said that these cookies would keep a month, but the website says they’ll only keep a week.

Cranberry Biscotti
These will keep a month in a sealed container. Makes 48 cookies

1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup sugar
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1¼ teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
2 eggs (or 2/3 c. fat free egg substitute)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ cup fresh cranberries, chopped
1/3 cup sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 350º f (175º c). Line a baking sheet with parchment. Sift the dry ingredients together (first 7 items) into a mixing bowl. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat until moistened. Reduce the mixing speed, and add the cranberries and half of the almonds, and beat into a light dough, about 2 minutes. Lightly flour your work surface. Divide the dough in half, and roll each into a log. Transfer to your baking sheet, putting them at least 3 inches apart. Pat the logs until they’re 1½ inches wide. Stud each log with the remaining almond slices. Bake until slightly firm to the touch, about 30 minutes. Let them cool on a baking rack for another 10.

While they’re cooling, reduce the oven temperature to 300° f (95° c). With a serrated knife, slice each log into ½ inch slices. Spread the slices back onto your baking sheet, and bake for another 30 minutes, until the cookies are dry. Cool 5 minutes, and remove to a rack to cool completely.


Mysterious Food on the Internets

Wed, Dec 10 • 0

twinkiesDaily Lunch is a japanese site detailing one obsessive artist’s lunch box, and their artistic creative presentations.

How frozen pizzas are made. What’s in a twinkie?

(Amazing. Twinkies have been around for 78 years! They’ve been around as long as the Chrysler Building, in New York, and Betty Boop. Here are more events from 1930.)


More Food-related Neologisms

Mon, Dec 8 • 0

post-off pricing n. Washington state requires producers and distributors to post their pricing to a central database maintained by the state’s liquor control board. When these producers and distributors post discounts, that is called “post-off pricing.”

bliss point n. Faced with insistent demands to lower the salt, food companies employ three strategies. Strategy No. 1 is to try to reduce sodium. Manufacturers say they can’t do this easily. Unless products are salty enough—reaching what the industry calls the “bliss point”—people will not buy them.

health halo n. The other half of the Park Slopers were shown the same salad and drink plus two Fortt’s crackers prominently labeled “Trans Fat Free.” The crackers added 100 calories to the meal, bringing it to 1,034 calories, but their presence skewed people’s estimates in the opposite direction. The average estimate for the whole meal was only 835 calories—199 calories less than the actual calorie count, and 176 calories less than the average estimate by the other group for the same meal without crackers. Just as Dr. Chandon had predicted, the trans-fat-free label on the crackers seemed to imbue them with a health halo that magically subtracted calories from the rest of the meal.

mockolate n. Andy McShea is a Harvard-trained molecular biologist using his scientific talent in Seattle to promote “true chocolate” and steer consumers away from inadvertently ingesting all that other brown sweet stuff he says is often unhealthy, morally questionable and not the real thing. “We like to call it “mockolate’” said McShea, his British accent rising with indignation. “Most of the stuff sold as chocolate out in the world today is not really chocolate.”

Find more new words at Double-Tongued Dictionary.


Cornbread Stuffed Pork Roast with Pomegranate Glaze

Sun, Dec 7 • 0

I bet you could replace the whole sage with fresh thyme in both or either parts of this recipe with good results. And if you don’t want to go to the trouble of making the glaze, I’m thinking that a little chicken stock heated with some orange marmalade or apricot preserves, to make it a little more spreadable, might be just as good. The measurements given were for a small roast, but it’d be easy enough to feed a larger crowd with increased quantities and a heavier roast.

Glaze:

½ small onion, sliced
5-10 whole sage leaves
½ teaspoon coriander seeds
1 cup pomegranate juice
2 cloves garlic, bruised
¼ cup dried cranberries

In a saucepan, brown the onion with the sage leaves and coriander seeds in a little olive oil. Once softened, add the remaining ingredients, and bring to a boil. Lower the head and, simmer for 20 minutes, until the liquid is reduced to a¼ cup. Strain and cool.

Roast :

½ small onion
5-10 whole sage leaves, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup diced red bell pepper
1 cup cornbread, broken into small chunks
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
¼ cup chicken stock. white wine, or water
salt & pepper
2 lb. pork loin roast

In a small frying pan, soften the onions, garlic, and red bell pepper. Allow it to cool, and move it to a bowl,   then break up the cornbread, and add the rest, (except for the salt, pepper and meat). Mix gently to combine.

Take the roast and carefully slice it so you make a ½ inch thick flap of meat on the top, being careful not to cut all the way through. Turn your knife, and slice it again in the opposite direction, so you make another ½ inch flap on the bottom side. Unfold it, and keep slicing until you have, roughly, a ½ inch thick rectangle of meat. Generously salt and pepper, and slather on the cornbread stuffing mixture. Roll the meat back up, and tie with butcher’s twine. (Don’t worry if a good deal of the stuffing oozes out as you do this.

Preheat the oven to 325°, and heat up an oven safe (cast iron) frying pan on the stove top. Add a little olive oil, and once it starts shimmering, brown the roast over medium high heat, turning it every 4 or 5 minutes … about 15 minutes total. Once you turn it to the last side, put the pan into the oven, and let it roast for 30 minutes. Remove it, and check the temperature, and glaze it on all sides. Return it to the oven, and repeat the glazing step every 20 minutes until the roast has the internal temperature of 150°. Remove the roast from the oven, and let it rest, covered with foil, for another 10 or 15 minutes. Remove the twine, and cut into ½ inch slices.


Turkey Day Follow-Up

Mon, Dec 1 • 0

So now that the day of stress is over… the long and short of it is this: all the time and trouble I went to to brine the turkey didn’t really amount to much payoff. I can’t know how the turkey would have been had I not gone to the effort, but the fact that I did didn’t seem to pay off too much. I mean, the turkey tasted great, but it didn’t knock my socks off. I didn’t detect a bit of the apple cider or the garlic, and the white meat of the bird still ended up being a little dry. I do think all the sugar in the cider and the brine contributed to the turkey skin turning a very dark mahogany brown, but that’s about it.

The D’Artangan free-range, organic turkey took about 2½ hours to cook, including the half-hour for the skin to brown. And as I carved it up, I was surprised at the amount of fat that still remained, since turkey is a notoriously lean bird — so lean, it ends up being dry.

I think, given the opportunity to do it all over again, I would have stuck with my standard brine mix (described in this post) since it’s much more assertive. With all of the other things on the plate, vying for a place on the palate, the mild cider brine just wasn’t enough.


My Turkey Plans

Tue, Nov 25 • 1

image courtesy of Corbis.com

(Note : Updated 11/26)

I usually don’t have to give much thought to serving Thanksgiving, since we’ve gone to my in-laws for the last decade, without fail. Aside from one year, when I decided to try and mix things up and do a deep fried turkey, my wife’s grandmother usually takes care of all the details.

Well, this year, a surprise. Without really thinking through all of the ramifications, I dutifully entered the daily give-away for a D’Artagnan organic, free-range turkey over on Serious Eats blog. I didn’t really think about the possibility that I’d actually win. Well, win I did, and so just a day or two before we head out on the 8-hour car ride, this bird is going to show up on my doorstep. I’m assuming it will be arriving fresh, not frozen, and the contest claims it will be a 12 to 14 pound bird.

My plan is to put it into a brine almost as soon as I receive it (recipe below), tucked inside a large zip-lock, and surrounded by ice in a cooler, in which it will travel on the car trip. Then, based on the recommendations of Gourmet Magazine, I went out and purchased one of those cheap-looking enameled turkey roasters with a lid. If all goes well, I will roast it on Friday morning for our delayed holiday dinner. A 14 pound bird won’t be enough to feed the whole crew, but we’ll be serving a whole ham, plus the usual amount of sides, so I hope it’ll all be enough.

Update: 11/26 — The bird arrived. 16½ lbs. It’s brining now. I ended up making a double batch to make sure there was enough to cover the bird in the cooler.

Here’s the brine recipe :

2 quarts apple juice or cider
1 lb brown sugar (dark or light)
1 cup kosher salt
4 lbs ice (“a pint’s a pound the world around.”)
1 quart water
3 oranges, quartered
4 ounces fresh ginger, thinly sliced
15 whole cloves
6 bay leaves
6 garlic cloves, crushed

Bring apple juice, sugar and salt to a boil over high heat, and add the ice to cool the cider down to room temperature. Add remaining ingredients, squeezing the oranges. Brine turkey for at least 24 hours. Quantity is sufficient for a 14 pound turkey.

Regarding brining bags … don’t scrimp. I originally tried using the 3 gallon zip-lock bags for my turkey, but it was too tight a fit; I was afraid huge sections of the bird were just sealed off from the brine liquid. So I went to a cooking supply store and bought bags specifically made for brining turkeys. Sure, they cost twice as much as the giant zip locks, but the bag is made of a thicker mil of plastic, and I felt like the double zip tops were sturdier and less apt to fail — which the zip lock bags did, a couple of times (one turn of the bird, and I lost half of the brine to the cooler). If you are using a plastic bag, be sure to remove as much air from the top of the bag as you can before sealing it up.

What are your Thanksgiving plans?


Welsh Rabbit

Wed, Nov 19 • 0

This was one of my granddad’s favorites. It’s very economical. You can probably make it for less than $5 total provided you have all the seasonings on hand. (Especially if you grab your cheddar from the dairy aisle of the grocery store, instead of the specialty cheese or deli section.) Supposedly the name dates back to early eighteenth-century England, when meat was so expensive that the poor could only eat cheaper cuts, like rabbit, which was the cheapest meat of all. But, as the slur goes, even rabbit was too expensive for the Welsh, and so they were forced to substitute cheese for meat. I’ve always considered this meal to be luxurious.

2 cups (½ lb. or 250g) aged, sharp Cheddar, grated
1 tablespoon (15g) butter
½ cup (125ml) beer
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
pinch of cayenne pepper
sliced bread, toasted

Melt butter and cheese together over low heat; stir in the beer and continue to stir until the mixture is well blended. Remove from heat and beat in egg and seasonings. Arrange several slices of toast in a shallow pan and pour the rarebit over them. Brown briefly under a broiler and serve while still bubbling. Serves 2, or 4 as an appetizer.

(I really have no idea why Winsor McCay made such a big deal about the hallucinatory properties of this dish, but do let me know if you have any weird dreams after eating it!)

Dream of the Rarebit Fiend. by Winsor McCay, The New York Evening Telegram, May 30, 1908;
Waking Dream of the Rarebit Fiend
, Boston Globe, Oct. 31, 2007;
Dream of The Rarebit Fiend: The Saturdays
, by Winsor McCay.


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