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  • Archive | October, 2006

    English Toffee

    Speaking about foods that are bad for you, how about a candy that is made primarily of sugar and butter? Take that Deep Fried Coke!

    If you are planning to make toffee, it’s almost a necessity that you get a candy thermometer. To get the toffee to the point where it reaches the “hard crack” stage, you have to raise the temperature of the mixture to 302° F. However, you run the risk of ruining the toffee if you go over 320° F. Unless you can eyeball this kind of thing (and I recognize that there are people out there who can), a thermometer is the only way to go.

    Oh, and as for the “English” version of toffee – English Toffee is a variant in which chocolate and almonds are added to the top of the toffee whilst it cools.

    For those of you keeping track at home, this is the last of the ‘butter’ recipes.

    • 1 cup Butter
    • 1 1/2 cup Sugar
    • 3 Tbs. Light corn syrup
    • 3 Tbs. Water
    • 8 oz. chocolate chips
    • 1 1/2 cups raw almonds, chopped

    Place a sauce pan over medium heat and add the butter, sugar, corn syrup and water. Stir consistently as the temperature of the mix raises. When the temperature reaches 305° F, remove from heat and pour onto a buttered 9″x13″ cookie tray. Spread the toffee evenly.

    While the toffee is cooking, melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler. Once you have spread the toffee on the cookie sheet, spead the melted chocolate on to the toffee. Sprinkle with the almonds and allow to cool.

    Serves 8-10

    Technorati Tags: Recipes, Toffee

    Deep Fried Coke: Why all the Hate?

    I know, I know. I’ve knocked down fair food before. But I’ll let you in on a secret – there’s a part of me, deep within the nether regions of my id, that loves the idea of deep fried fair foods. This is also the same region of my brain that revels in the fantasy of eating turkey drumsticks with my bare hands, while shouting “Off with their heads!” in some sort of bizarre amalgamation of King Henry the VIII and Queen Victoria. My brain – it’s both my asset and my curse.

    It is this decadent part of my brain that is keeping me at odds against the folks who keep telling me how outrageous this story is…that someone dared come up with a concoction that involves Deep Frying Coca-Cola Syrup. Or, more specifically:

    …a batter mix (is) made with Coca-Cola syrup, a drizzle of strawberry syrup, and some strawberries.

    Balls of the batter are then deep-fried, ending up like ping-pong ball sized doughnuts which are then served in a cup, topped with Coca-Cola syrup, whipped cream, cinnamon sugar and a cherry on the top.

    This sounds absolutely, positively decadent! I so want to try one!

    I’m sure there are several folks who read this site on a regular basis whose jaw just thumped upon their desk. But I’m curious to the negative responses to this story (which has been making it’s way around the food world for about two months now). Is it the fact that the dessert is unhealthy? Is it because it’s gratuitous? One could make those claims at number of desserts sold at 4 star restaurants across the country. What makes an dark chocolate sponge cake topped with meringue, spiced almonds with a dusting of cinnamon and cayenne pepper okay, but deep fried batter made with cola syrup and strawberries is looked upon (by some) with disdain?

    The title of the above linked article was entitled “Because we don’t already have enough fried foods..”, giving the impression that this dessert is unnecessary. Blogging Stocks mentions “Fried Coke underscores how far from healthy Coca-Cola is“. NPR reports on the dessert under the title “From the Annals of Bad Eating: Deep-Fried Coca-Cola“. From all of these stories, it sounds like Deep-Fried Coke is a ticking time bomb upon our health, and a culinary disaster to boot.

    Nonsense, I say. Of course it’s unhealthy…name me a dessert found at most restaurants that isn’t. It’s not exponentially worse than the crème brulee or the tiramisu being sold at the upper-scale restaurant down the street.

    Personally, I have no idea if it’s a good idea, from a taste perspective, because, y’know, I haven’t actually tried the dessert. I’ll refrain from giving an opinion upon it’s taste to when I have eaten Deep-Fried Coke.

    Technorati Tags: Deep Fried Coke, Fair Food

    What does George W. eat?

    (Warning: idle gossip ahead)

    If you’re laying odds that it’s not prosciutto and figs, you’re on the right track:

    The first time she (the First Lady’s social secretary Lea Berman) met (White House chef Walter) Scheib she told him that she wanted the White House kitchen to produce meals like those her husband had enjoyed at one of Marco Pierre White’s restaurants in London. Mr. White, who once had three Michelin stars, has served everything from braised pigs’ trotters to truffled parsley soup with poached eggs.

    “I’m thinking to myself, ‘I’m not sure the president is going to be big on that,’ ˮ said Mr. Scheib, who had made many an enchilada and grilled-cheese sandwich on white bread with Kraft singles for President Bush.

    There’s also a great bit on how the Ms. Berman would send Chef “marked recipes from cookbooks and magazines, like Martha Stewart Living, along with instructions that he “make it look just like the picture.ˮ “

    As you can tell, I’m having a slow news day.

    Technorati Tags: Gossip, George W. Bush, White House, Chefs

    Vegemite ban?

    Yeah, not so much.

    Ed Levine and Rachel Ray

    I think Mr. Levine hits the nail on the head:

    So maybe it’s time to move on and let Rachael be Rachael. If she’s not for you, that’s okay. She clearly taps into something primal in her audience’s psyche, and that is clearly good enough for Rachael and her millions of fans. And you’ve got to give her credit for not trying to be something she’s not. There’s not an ounce of pretension in her shredded cheese bag.

    She’s not the cultural food antichrist. There are plenty of famous, successful people in our culture who are far more deserving of our scorn and derision. Like, say, Paris Hilton.

    You could almost say this about nearly ‘Food Personality’ on television. Rocco DiSpirito, Paula Deen, Bobby Flay, all have their detractors. But they do have their fans and if these folks get their fans to think about food and its context, who’s to complain? There’s very few food folks on television who don’t deserve some measure of recognition.

    Except for Sandra Lee. Next to Ms. Lee, Rachel Ray is James Beard.

    Technorati Tags: Food Network, Food Television

    Meat Labels Hope to Lure the Sensitive Carnivore

    I know that Whole Foods gets a fair amount of criticism (sometimes rightly so) but can anyone point me to any other supermarket chain that does things like this:

    Whole Foods Market is preparing to roll out a line of meat that will carry labels saying animal compassionate, indicating the animals were raised in a humane manner until they were slaughtered.

    The grocery chains decision to use the new labels comes as a growing number of retailers are making similar animal-welfare claims on meat and egg packaging, including free farmed, certified humane, cage free and free range.

    It’s a solution that allows the animal right folks to educate the masses, yet does so without banning anything.

    Let’s hope that these labels actually have some weight to them, unlike the nearly meaningless phrase “Free Range Chickens” found on your egg carton.

    Thanks Jack!

    Technorati Tags: Whole Foods, Animal Welfare



    Ah, fish stew. Not just fish stew but Italian-American fish stew (although there’s some mention that it may be Portugese in origin). It’s wonderul dish on a crisp October afternoon. Spicy and savory made exponentially better by a slice or two from a fresh baguette.

    • 5 cloves garlic
    • 1/2 jalapeno, deseeded and minced
    • 1 egg yolk
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 1 white onion, diced
    • 1 green pepper, diced
    • 2 stalks celery, diced
    • 8 anchovy fillets
    • 1/8 teaspoon saffron
    • 1 cup red wine
    • 4 cups fish stock(although chicken stock can be used in its place)
    • 1 cup clam juice
    • 28 oz. canned diced tomatoes
    • 4 oz. tomato paste
    • 4 Tbl Worcestershire sauce
    • 3 Tbl Tobasco Sauce
    • 1 lb raw shrimp, de-veined and peeled
    • 1 lb cod, diced into 1″ pieces
    • 1/2 lb crab meat
    • 1/2 lb calamari
    • 1/2 lb sea scallops
    • 1 lb mussels

    Grind three cloves of garlic and the jalapeno with a mortar and pestle into a paste. Place into a bowl and whisk in the egg yolk. Drizzle all but two tablespoons of the olive oil into the egg and whisk into an emulsification. Cover and place in the refrigerator until later.

    Place the remaining olive oil into the bottom of a soup pot placed over medium heat. Add the remaining garlic as well as the onions, peppers, and celery. Cook until the onions are translucent and then add the anchovies, Using a spatula, grind the anchovies into a paste, mixing well into the onions and peppers. Add the saffron, and pepper to taste.

    Pour in the red wine, fish stock, clam juice and diced tomatoes. Cover the soup pot, and allow to stew for 40-50 minutes. Add the tomato paste.

    Remove a tablespoon or two of the stew and temper it into the egg/olive oil emulsion. Then, in turn, add the emulsion back to the stew and mix in well. Add the Worcestershire suace, tobasco and the red wine vinegar. Add the fish, crab, shrimp and calamari and cook for 10 minutes. Add the shell fish and lower the heat to medium low. Allow the stew to simmer for another 10 minutes.

    Serve with bread and top with parsley and/or croutons.

    Serves 6-8

    Technorati Tags: Recipes, Fish Stew, Cioppino