Foodie Lexicon, March ’09

Tue, Mar 31 • 0

A monthly look at new phrases about food.

pork flap n. You have to start with the right cut of meat—pork belly. In our part of the world, we refer to it as pork flap; so when you go to get your meat to try either or both of these recipes, ask for the pork flap. Both of the recipes recommend this part of the meat but pork shoulder can work also but trust me, get the pork flap.

lo-vegetarian n. Gradually, “lacto-ovo vegetarians” grouped and shortened their title to “vegetarian.” This is why I sometimes use the term “lo-vegetarian” where the “lo” stands for “lacto-ovo.”

recess-ipe n. Recession recipes, making a family-sized meal for $10 or less.

center-of-the-plate cost n. Because whole grains offer long-lasting satisfaction, they offset what the hospitality industry calls “center-of-the-plate costs”—the expensive, high-protein foods, often rich in saturated fats, that are traditionally served in all too generous portions.

fannings n.pl. After the tea leaves are taken off the drying racks, the tiny broken pieces and “tea dust” are called “fannings” and that goes into a teabag. Yup, the leftover bits with the least amount of quality and taste are in that dunkable paper sac.

home meal replacement n. In America, though, where eating out is a way of life, the supermarket dinner—“home meal replacement” as they call it in the business—has yet to catch on.

homedulgence n. During a recession, the tendency for consumers to prefer home-based indulgences, such as cocktail parties and lavish dinners. “The move to homedulgence is one way consumers can ride out the recession and it is predicted it will soon extend to many other areas of life, such as mix-your-own cocktails evenings and home dining clubs.”

The Hummers of Food n. a nickname for hamburgers, supposedly because of the ecological impact of beef production. Reporting on research into the “environmental costs of food from field to plate,” A.F.P. noted the comparison between burgers and luxury S.U.V.s: When it comes to global warming, hamburgers are the Hummers of food, scientists say. Simply switching from steak to salad could cut as much carbon as leaving the car at home a couple days a week.

Gyaku-Choko n. (Japanese for “reverse chocolate.”) Previously, it was the unwritten rule that Japanese women buy chocolates for the men in their lives – ranging from their husbands to male colleagues at work, or even the managers of their condominiums. But this year, a new buzzword has hit the country – gyaku-choko, which means “reverse chocolate.” In order to attract male customers, department stores promoted chocolates next to men’s fashion displays and the confectioner Morinaga even decided to print the packaging of a range of chocolates in reverse.

Courtesy of  The Double-tongued Dictionary, Word Spy, and Schott’s Vocab.


Why are people afraid of pressure cookers?

Wed, Mar 18 • 1

Don’t let your grandma’s tale of kitchen terror dissuade you from using this great time-saving device.

(I realize I’ve been talking incessantly about my new toy, so I hope you’ll indulge me a little longer…)

Aside from the rattle of an old-fashioned pressure cooker, and the escaping of steam, there’s really nothing on the face of them that make them any different from a regular pot and lid. Except for the possibility of them exploding. And you might even have some family lore that would justify the fear.

The pressure cooker was invented back in the early 20th century, and was used as a method for industrial canning. They didn’t make it to the home market until the late 1930’s, and were thought to be completely safe. (They were even used on early transcontinental airline flights to provide hot meals for passengers.) Then came World War II, and the US government was hungry for the aluminum that the pressure cookers were made from. Companies that manufactured them were retooled to make military equipment, like airplane engine parts. Housewives were encouraged to donate their pots and pans for the war effort. After the war, the swords returned to ploughshares, and companies retooled once again to make household goods. But the quality of the pots and pans weren’t that great. Production methods favored quantity over quality. Tons of cheap, poorly made pressure cookers hit the market in the late 40’s and early 50’s, and they had the reputation — rightfully so — of exploding under the higher than normal pressures. So if you were a lucky enough cook not to personally experience an in-kitchen detonation, chances are you were wary enough of them to tuck the pots in the deepest depths of your cupboards — only to have them be resurrected by your heirs in the 70’s, who also experienced the same disasterous results.

These days, however, the newer pressure cookers are designed with safety features — pressure regulating systems, and durable, high-quality stainless steel construction. There’s little reason to fear them now.

And there’s certainly no reason to splurge on the electronic gadgetry that mesmerized me recently. Although I’ve used it for some aspect of every meal I’ve made since I bought it — either for the main course, or for a side dish — you can certainly make do with a less expensive, more conventional model. It’ll just require a little more attention and care, but you’ll save a lot on the price. A good 6 quart pressure cooker can be had for as little as $40.

One thing I’ve really noticed while working with mine is that pressure cookers seem to eat up garlic. No matter how many cloves of garlic I add, the flavor just vanishes.


What’s Your Cooking Personality?

Tue, Mar 17 • 1

The New York Times had an interesting article discussing how people are cooking more at home now that the economy is ailing, and that while home cooking is generally more healthy than eating out, it’s not necessarily healthier. It all depends on what kind of cook you are. They break it down into 5 different categories :

Giving” cooks are enthusiastic about cooking and specialize in comfort food, particularly home-baked goodies.

Methodical” cooks rely heavily on recipes, so their cooking is strongly influenced by the cookbook they use.

Competitive” cooks think less about health and more on making the most impressive dish possible.

Healthy” cooks often serve fish and use fresh ingredients, but taste isn’t the primary goal.

Innovative” cooks like to experiment with different ingredients, cooking methods and cuisines, a process that tends to lead to more healthful cooking.

Can you guess what category you fall under? If you’re having trouble, they provide a short quiz to help you figure it out.

I end up falling into the last one — Innovative.  “An innovative cook likes to experiment with different ingredients, cooking methods and cuisines, a process that tends to lead to more healthful cooking. Innovative cooks have the best eye for freshness, yet there is still a big emphasis on taste. If you like great food and still want to eat reasonably healthy, the innovative cook is the person to hook up with.”

It’s not all wine and roses though, cooking this way. Ask my wife. I rarely cook the same thing the same way, ever. And if she really liked how I made it last time, she doesn’t appreciate the tinkering I do the next time, or that I usually can’t even replicate what I’ve done.


Recent Penzey’s Spice Order

Wed, Mar 11 • 2

1   11950      Chili 9000 2.1 oz. 1/2 cup jar……………..$5.49
1   22042      Horseradish Dip 4 oz. bag…………………..$5.45
1   22642      Szechuan Pepper Salt 4 oz. bag ……….$4.59
1   31851      Oregano Mexican .4 oz. 1/2 cup jar…..$2.99

Shipping, $5.95   TOTAL : $25.08


Lobel’s : Who are your customers?

Wed, Mar 11 • 0

I took advantage of a promotional $50 gift certificate from Lobel’s, an upscale New York meat market that also does mail-order, at least 7 or 8 years ago, and I’ve been on their mailing list ever since. I have to admit that their products do look appealing, and am occasionally tempted to make a purchase, until I think about how much I’d be spending for what I’d be getting.

bacon_smoked_bgFor example,while I was looking around their site, I noticed that they sell Double Hickory Smoked Slab Bacon, unsliced, in 2½ pound slabs, for $29.98 — pricey, but considering how difficult it is to find uncut slab bacon, it might be worth it for a splurge — that is, until you roll in their shipping fees : another $26.95 on top of that. This means the bacon ends up being $22.78 a pound, or a total order price $56.93.

It really makes me wonder who they think will order from them, especially in this economy. Still, they’ve been in business for 5 generations, so there’s got to be people willing to part with their money.


Hook, Line and Sinker

Wed, Mar 4 • 0

Ok. So I fell for it.

I watched Jacques Pepin make chili con carne in an electric pressure cooker. I didn’t even know these things existed. I’d been contemplating purchasing a regular pressure cooker for awhile now. I added one to my Amazon shopping cart; I turned down the corner of the page in the Sur la Table catalog … but nothing pushed me over the edge until I watched this cooking show.

He just poured the dried beans into the pot right out of the bag. He added raw hamburger, and water and canned tomatoes and tomato paste and spices. He clamped on the lid, and said that he’d have chili in an hour. (I’ve snipped out just the parts where he demonstrates the chili recipe … the first video is the prep, and the second one shows him serving it. The whole episode is here.)

I looked on the internet, and saw recipes for pot roast in less than an hour. Chicken stock in 40 minutes. I read that this cooker let you brown your meat in it first without making you dirty up another pan. It also has a setting that lets you simmer the contents once the pressure is off, to keep it warm. Contrary to his demonstration, it really doesn’t seem to be designed to let you put the ingredients in, then go off to work or the store, and have it wait, and then turn itself on 45 minutes before you get home. Instead, the timer is more a way to limit the amount of time the food cooks under pressure — the device will build up the pressure, cook for the time you’ve set on the timer, and then shut off. (On re-reading the manual, it’ll cook for the allotted time, and then switch to “simmer” mode — so I guess you could set it up, let it cook, and then it’ll keep warm all day long while you were shopping or at work.)

Well, of course I had to have one. I had some credit built up on Amazon, so I ordered it.

And then I re-watched the cooking show, and only then realized that the whole damn show is sponsored by Cuisinart, the people who make the electric pressure cooker. What’s more, the unsweetened chocolate he puts in is made by yet another of his sponsors. I realized I’d been bamboozled. Oh, Jacques! How could you? If anyone would resist being a infomercial pitch-man, it’d be you.

So, the cooker showed up this afternoon, and I was tempted to make dinner using it, but then I figured I should wait and try some of the recipes from the little cookbook that came with it, instead of just winging it. I don’t have much buyer’s remorse. I’m still glad I bought it, but the proof will be in the pudding.

Cuisinart CPC-600 1000-Watt 6-Quart Electric Pressure Cooker, $149


Foodie Jargon, Feb. ’09

Sat, Feb 28 • 0

meatza n. My friends once ate a pizza that was known in legend as “the meatza.” This pizza had no sauce, just 7 or 8 different meats piled quite high (estimated at about 4-5 inches). They then used the crust to mop up the grease that had dripped off the slices as they ate.

mylk n. Making almond milk is incredibly easy once you get your system down and my kids think it is incredibly delicious. They will drink it straight, add it to cereal, or use it to make chocolate milk or banana milk smoothies. Since I use raw organic almonds, I get to rest easy knowing that their milk, or “mylk” as many refer to it, is healthier for their little bodies and healthier for the planet.

trub n. Don’t worry about all of the junk (hops and proteins—called the “trub” in brewers lingo) in the wort—most of it will fall to the bottom during fermentation.

Courtesy of The Double-Tongued Dictionary.


Doing Without : Refrigerator?

Fri, Feb 13 • 0

fridgeRecently, the New York Times reported a new phenomenon … in an effort to save energy, some people are choosing to live without a refrigerator. The article cites that 99.5% of all households have one, and each one uses enough energy and pollutes the environment to equal anywhere from 55 gallons to 110 gallons of fuel per year. Seems pretty hardcore. The woman they interview in their article is sort of cheating, if you ask me, with her freezer in the basement, which she uses to create bottles of ice to keep a camp cooler cold. But, on the other hand, I don’t know if I could do without my fridge. I do suspect I could get along fine with a smaller model — maybe like a dorm-sized one, like many of my friends in Europe seem to get by with. It would be the end of full-week, or multi-day shopping, though. I’d be forced to shop for the food I was going to eat that very day. And I don’t really see that as a bad thing, if only a little inconvenient. All in all, it’s an interesting proposal for reducing wasted energy. Do you think you could do it?


Foodie Jargon, Jan ’09

Sat, Jan 31 • 0

bilingual adj. Out of the types of celestial seasoning tea, the bilingual teas seem to appeal mostly to Hispanic communities. These teas are called bilingual because they mix two different flavor like banana and apple, or cinnamon and apple, or honey and lemon, and so on.

belly wadding n. In the cowboy movies we often see cow punchers and gunfighters pull out what appears to be a short strip of leather and chew away on it—somewhat of a substitute for ribs and beans when they were on the trail or when there was a lull in dodging bullets. Some of the cowboys referred to it as “belly wadding.”

sugar hat n. The key is to find a sugar cone (also known as a “sugar hat”) which is a solid piece of white sugar that you can flame.

murphy style n. I ask this question in the Christmas section because you always see gift packs with coffee beans and it’s not instant coffee. And I am always worried that the gift receipient doesn’t have a coffee maker. Yes, you can make it “murphy style” or some refer to it as cowboy or camp side style. Just use the ground bean and a pot of water, bring to a boil and let the grounds settle.

oyster n. Tuck the knife behind the ball and cut the leg free. As you cut past the socket joint, don’t forget to arc the knife around the little pocket of meat known in birds as the “oyster,” as this is the best part. The oyster is small in wild ducks, but is very large in turkeys, geese and pheasants.

ham fat musician n. He went from being a “ham fat” musician (a term for amateur players in reference to young trombonists greasing their slides with lard) to a professional.

pizza stone n. Baking stone: A stone creates a more even temperature and the crunchy-chewy crust that bakers seek. Also known as a pizza stone, this large porous tile can be left in the bottom of the oven at all times to even the heat.

white tablecloth restaurant n. An upscale or expensive restaurant, as opposed to a casual or fast-food restaurant. “I’m able to do coupons and help people who are on tight budgets who still want to go out to eat. It’s the Ruth Chris Steakhouses and the white tablecloth restaurants who will see an effect.”

yak n. Their discovery of cognac—“yak” as they affectionately call it—started a fashion among young black Americans who, in a practice considered heresy in France, mix it with fruit juices to make cocktails such as French Connection and Incredible Hulk. The rappers even wrote songs about Hennessy Cognac, referring to it as “Henny” or “Henn-dog.”

Courtesy of The Double-Tongued Dictionary.


The Deadly Bhut Jolokia

Wed, Jan 21 • 0

This video, which made the rounds on the internet a week or so ago, depicts the effects of eating a really hot pepper. the bhut jolokia, which has a Scoville rating of 1,000,000. (In comparison, the habenero has a rating of 33,000.)

Anway, you’ll see that this guy ends up all sooty at the end, 3 hours after ingesting … or maybe that should be “in jesting.”

(More videos after the jump.)
Keep reading…


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