Friday, December 4, 2009

Hotsauce: Bottles

My roommate was insisting that I use beer bottles for selling my hotsauce. For some reason I was very resistant to this idea. After some more consideration I think perhaps he's right. It would certainly be good to start with. I've got a hand-held bottle capping machine which needs to be cleaned a bit, but new bottle caps can't be expensive, and I'm sure I could find a supply of recycled clear glass beer bottles.

I think the way I want to start things out (once I can sell things for real) is selling @ the cheese shop. I also want to try to get some small local eateries to keep it on the tables; maybe Penguin, maybe CBC. And I think I could do some sort of drop off service... hotsauce at your doorstep sounds pretty sweet.

Still need a name... and a label.. I'll get there... just need an epiphany.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Stuff I want to make: Gougeres

I've been craving certain foods: and not just the food itself but the cooking process that precedes it. I've actually reached a point where I'm not sure if I like cooking or eating more. I think it's still on the side of eating - but I definitely get more excited about cooking.

I really want to make Gougeres, which are little cheese puffs made from choux dough. A lot of people think choux dough is really difficult - but really it's just a bit of work. There's a lot of stirring, and if you've ever tried to work fresh eggs into dough, you know it's like trying to convince your grandmother you couldn't possibly eat any more buscuits and ham or matzoh ball soup (depending on the grandmother), you need to be persistent and unwavering. Other than that its just about watching it while it's on the heat and making sure it doesn't over cook. Watching and stirring... not too bad.

Though that may not sound like much fun at all, I actually find a lot of joy and serenity in watching milk and butter boil, and then how everything changes so quickly when you add the flour. And then the smell of adding the cheese is just dreamy. And once you've mixed everything together and it's all one cohesive paste it's like a great big "fuck you technology, I used my damn hands!" And then when you bake them the entire house fills up with this cheesy smell so intoxicating that you can't possibly feel anything less than blissful content.

I've got some ideas of different things I want to try with this. Bacon, cheddar and leek gougeres as I mentioned in a recent post. Also spicy buffalo cheddar gougeres with a tempered cheese glaze.

And then there's beignets: this is the result of deep frying the choux dough instead of baking. Typically these are made with sugar in the dough and then filled with cream or chocolate. But as much as I love sweets, I'm much more of a savory kinda guy. So how about this: parmesan beignets with an herbed whipped goat cheese filling. I've never tried beignets but I'm fairly proficient at frying (considering I never use a thermometer which I probably should start doing) so I can't imagine it being too difficult - I want the outside crispy and the inside soft and fluffy.

I also want to use Seelander, which is a rich and creamy and stinky swiss cheese, and my favorite. I'm not sure if this would be better as a gougere or beignet. I guess I'll just have to try both and find out.

And since I hate when you read someone's ramblings about something delicious and then you're left without the knowledge of how to make them, here's the recipe I use.

1 Cup milk (Some recipes say to use water or half water / half milk but I say use milk it comes out richer and fluffier)
1 Stick butter
1 Tsp salt
1 Cup Flour
3/4 Cup grated cheese: gruyere is the standard but you can use pretty much any cheese you like. If you're doing a softer cheese that you can't grate I'd use more like half a cup.
5 eggs at room temp (if they aren't don't worry about it, I never remember to warm them and I haven't had a problem yet)
Pinch of fresh ground pepper.

Preheat oven to 425F.
Start with a medium saucepan and bring the milk, butter, salt and pepper to a boil on a medium flame.
Add the flour, remove the pan from the heat and quickly stir in the flour with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula (I like the silicone spat because it doesn't stick and i find it easier when you get to mixing in the eggs.)
Place back on flame and drop the heat to low and stir/mix for about 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and mix in the cheese.
Then start mixing in 4 of the eggs, one at a time, making sure that each one is completely encorporated before adding the next. (You can do it all at once, pulsing in a food processor, but I like the satisfaction of mixing it by hand, also I trust myself more than a machine.)

Grease 2 large baking sheets or line with parchment. And then pipe the dough into inch wide dollops onto the sheets separating each by 2 inches. You can use a pastry bag or just put the dough in a ziplock bag and snip one of the corners. You can also just use a small (1-1.5 inch) icecream scoop, but it can be hard to keep the dough from sticking.

Beat the last egg and brush it on each of the gougere. This will give them a nice golden shine once baked.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden.

Thats the basic recipe. From there you can feel free to experiment. You can throw any herbs or spices into the mix. You can sprinkle extra cheese on top before you bake. You can even add a 1/4 cup of sugar to the boiling milk and butter and then skip the cheese (or switch it with something like 1/3 cup fresh ricotta) and then you'll have sweet puffs that you can fill with whipped cream or cover with chocolate.

Your own immagination is your only limitation.


Stroud Out.

*Photo borrowed from until I can take my own (please don't be mad)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Hot Sauce News.

I made some hotsauce.
It's my best one yet, Chris can testify to that having eating about 2 medium/large bottles in less than 3 weeks.
Very delicious but also very hot, not for the timid.
I'll get a picture of it up here later.
Its based with carrots, oranges and habaneros.
I don't have a name yet.
But I do have a few bottles at home for sale.
Mostly big bottles - 20 bucks will get you over half a liter which is quite a lot of hotsauce, I also have one or two small bottles left.
So if you are interested, let me know. I can drop you off a bottle if you're in the metro boston area or if you're out of reach you can throw in a few extra bucks and I can ship it to you.

I'm hoping I can start selling these, and with that money make more sauce and hopefully snowball effect my way to an actual hotsauce company.

B. Out

Love | Cooking

Its cold outside. Not so cold that I'm all grumpy and achy, just to the point that I'm gonna need a hat soon, and I really want to cook and cook and cook. There are dishes that I can just about taste on the tip of my tongue as I imagine them.

Red and green bell peppers sauteing with habaneros, jalapenos, garlic and onions. A sprinkle of salt. A grind of pepper. More salt. A quick swish and drizzle around the pan with the olive oil. Cooking it down just till the hab's start to smoke and tickle your throat.

Arborio rice toasting in duck fat. Shyly adding a splash of black truffle oil and a pinch of white truffle salt just to get that wonderful aroma going.

That perfect cheesy smell of gougeres as they rise.

I love it. I love it all. I love cooking. I love that satisfaction of being able to make food that is just awesome. And there are certain things I just cannot wait to make - such as Fire Chili and Many Mushroom Rizotto and Gougeres with cheddar, bacon and leeks.

But, as with any love, there is always complication.

The biggest problem is that I find that my motivation and enthusiasm to cook things goes flat if no one but me is going to eat. Cooking for my parents is great; I get a lot of joy cooking for them, especially after they cooked for me most of my life. It was truly their gourmandise[new favorite word] that taught me to cook and brought out the foodie within me. And I've always loved cooking with friends. Whether it's Indian/pan-Asian food at William's house in Concord or homemade pasta with mushroom sauce at Emily's or making a giant pot of chili with the roommates and we'll all eat it over the course of weeks or even months. Or every now and then I'll make a big batch of hot wings. It certainly isn't limited to that, but it all has its limitations, because, while I thoroughly enjoy all that... they aren't really my target audience.

I want someone I can cook for. Someone to seduce with my culinary creations. Someone to get impatient and hungry when she smells the aromas wafting through the kitchen. Someone to watch as her eyes light up with excitement when I give her the first taste of a sauce in progress. Someone to convince to try flavors and foods foreign to her palate. Someone to be both muse to bring inspiration and goddess to present the divine sacrifice to. Someone to make soup for when she's sick. Someone to indulge me when I fully dork out about food.

Basically I need a date. Cooking, as fun as it is, isn't as fun without a beautiful girl to cook for.

Back in September there was a girl I was supposed to cook for [As you can tell I did not get that opportunity. Long story short I was led on and then blown off, which I must admit still kinda hurts and I hate that I let things like that get to me.] But just as a result of that excitement I was able to think up a rather fantastic meal that some girl, at some point, will get to fully enjoy.

I know that with someone to cook for; inspiration can be plentiful - enthusiasm can be boundless - and motivation can be strong. Until that point... I'll certainly have things that I will want to make... but without someone; my inspiration may run dry - my enthusiasm will certainly have short limits - and my motivation will undoubtedly waver.

What thrills the tongue and fills the stomach cannot alone satisfy the heart.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hot Sauce

New hot sauce needs a name... "Think, think, think."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Stolen Pears and the Death of a Teapot

So yesterday in my cleaning fervor, the Japanese teapot my dad gave me for my birthday 5 or 6 years ago crashed to the floor from the highest shelf in my room. The wooden box that held it disassembled its sides as if waiting to be put together for the first time. Upon lifting the top from the wreckage I found shards of what used to be a beautiful teacup, the pot's handle was a good 5 inches from where it should be, and the lid was chipped - and one cup, somehow, was completely unharmed as if to tell me not all hope is lost. The pot is fixable - just need heat resistant ceramic glue, but its still sad to see one of my birthday presents that I really loved meet such a fate.... alas.


Last night my roommate Chris and I walked up the street to get Chinese food at 1 in the morning and on the way attempted to raid this plum tree I had spotted a while ago and had been waiting to ripen... unfortunately all the plums were gone or dried up. I was pretty pissed off. I'd been thinking about those plums for months: ever since I had spotted the tree, and even more so recently. I thought they would be a nice addition to the cheese plate I had conceived to precede the fantastic meal I plan to make for my date... (if it ever happens).... and had I somehow missed the ripening window by a matter of a week or two.

As we continued on, we discovered a pear tree beaming with fruit. I acquired a bag from the Chinese food "restaurant" and on our way back we climbed up the wall and filled it up... Sure it was in someone's yard but you know what? I don't care. I've discovered that my town is riddled with fruit trees of all sorts and the ones in peoples' yards almost all go to waste. And so I have decided I'm not going to stand for that. The answer is apparently thievery - though I like to think of it as more of a Robin Hood sort of "Take from the negligent and give to the unwasteful". Admittedly my wealth dispersion system is a bit different and possibly broken.

Anyway - through a combination of diligent research and then giving up after finding an answer that seemed acceptable I have determined that these are Brough Bergamot pears.

They're pretty hard, so I thought they might be unripe, but they are delicious and so now all I can think of is what I want to do with them. My first thought was roast chicken and pears ala Christopher Walken. (see video)

Later (today) I thought to do another infusion and did a quick poling on Facebook to see what booze people thought I should use. While most have suggested vodka, I'm going to go with a white rum - I'm hoping the sweetnesses will play off of each other. This will get it's own post later.

And then I'm planning slicing some of these and serving them on my cheese plate... (which I will hopefully get to serve)

But acquiring the pears was certainly half the fun... perhaps there is more to come...

-B Out.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Methodless Mixology: Infusions (Part 1)

I've taken to infusing booze; it's a lot of fun trying to see what flavors will work well together and how much of that they will impart unto the alcohol.

A result of my experiments is that I've been able to start the makings of a nice liquor cabinet shelf; which, if you've ever been to my house, you'll know is a very difficult thing to keep - thus the booze is in my room, where it is safe.

- My first infusion was Lemon/Basil vodka which I did a year ago. I went to Isreal on Birthright (best trip ever) and on the way back on the airplane I got a bottle of Absolut (my vodka of choice) for 13 bucks! Into this bottle went the best lemon I could find at the time, a tall stalk of very fresh basil, and one teaspoon of sugar, then the bottle itself was tucked away in my closet. Two weeks later and I had a masterpiece. It came out exactly as I had hoped, the vodka had taken on a fresh, citrusy, lemony base with a more subtle but very present taste and aroma of basil. The sugar was just enough to offset any sour or bitter elements, so all that was left was smoothness.

All I can say is that this was amazing, and I can't wait to do it again.

- My second attempt at infusing was just about month ago. There was tequila on sale at Shaws and I couldn't resist. I snagged a bottle of Sauza Blanco and ran home. For this infusion I went with Orange/Hibiscus. I bought dried hibiscus flowers at the Harvest market and by this point all I had used them for was when making yerba mate. [One time I made it and it came out citrusy and bright instead of its usual earthy tea flavor, I've tried that again and again and I have yet to figure out what I did differently that time because I can't seem to recreate it.] I also bought a Valencia orange (my favorite). I sliced the rind off the orange using a ceramic peeler, trying to get as little pith as possible, and put it [the rind] in a quart swingtop mason jar along with 2 dried hibiscus flowers. I poured in the tequila, sealed it up and then it was time to wait. After swirling the jar twice a day for a week I strained the tequila into a nice bottle.

Another success. The flavors weren't as distinct as the Lemon/Basil but G-d Damn this stuff is delicious. It's almost juicy. I've gotta think of some good cockail ideas for this.

- Third infusion: Back to vodka. This time? Chili/Lime. I snagged a bottle of 365 Organic Vodka at Blanchards. It came with a deal for $10 mail in rebate so I figured why not? (still waiting on that rebate though...) For this I struggled to find a good lime. I've decided it's just not an easy thing to find in Boston; not too many lime groves in this state. Also I've decided that Israel ruined me forever for limes. While I was there and we were walking around Haifa (where I am set on living some day if only for a while) I spotted a lime tree poking through a fence on top of a wall. I climbed the wall and snagged myself a lime. I swear this was the most amazing specimen of fruit I've ever encountered. Just picking it released a cloud of intoxicating smell. A dark, rich emerald rind encased the plump ripe citrus. The rind was thicker than normal, closer to that of a lemon. What I would have given to have had a lime half as good as that one. But, I worked with what I could get. Once again sliced off the rind, toasted two chilis and threw them in my mason jar with the vodka. Around a week later I poured it back in the 365 bottle (which conveniently is a swing top so I can use it over and over).

I have to admit I was a bit afraid to try this one. I wasn't sure what to expect. I took a shot. Spicy and rough! The vodka itself could have been run trough a britta once or twice. But the spicy and lime flavors were good. I made a vodka tonic and it was awesome. It's just slightly more limey that normal and you get just a hint of spice on the back of your throat as you drink.

So what's next?

I'd certainly like to do the Lemon/Basil again. And I may have to do something with the local ginger at the Copley Farmer's Market if they still have it. Maybe something with cocoa nibs... perhaps cardamom. It's all dependent on what booze I can get for cheap or what flavors I want to try.

Until then.

-B Out.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Methodless Mixology: Sangria

So on August 20th we had a HappyHour event at Kitchen Arts. Showing off two of our new products: the Barmaid and the SodaStream. The barmaid is a tool that lets you rim glasses with sugar or salt for cocktails - it comes with plain kosher salt but they have various flavors you can choose from - Cocoaberry Sugar, Spicy Chili Salt and Sweet Mint Sugar are just a few of them. The SodaStream is much like a soda siphon but instead of having to use one small CO2 charger for each litre of soda it comes with one HUGE CO2 charger and two one-litre bottles that you fill with fresh water then screw into the machine. Press the button 3 or 4 times and you've got a bottle of club soda. There are also bottles of flavored syrups you can add to turn it into regular soda. Unfortunately it's all flavored with Splenda. How that was chosen as the better alternative to HF-Corn Syrup I'll never know. I guess it's good for the market who likes diet flavored drinks. At least I can drink it - unlike anything with Aspartame, my one food allergy: with a small amount my mouth feels weird, more and I get dizzy and a headache and too much and I get a nice big migraine

It was a great time. The people from the Lime Tree Cove who make the Barmaid were a lot of fun and a bunch of our friends came.


We had Margaritas, Mojitos and Sangria. I was in charge of making the sangria, which I'm proud to say was a pretty big hit.

This is my recipe, which makes about a gallon; hope anyone who finds it enjoys it while there's still summer.

You'll need:

1 Gallon sized container to put everything in. (I just used a big food grade plastic bucket then transferred some to a pitcher when serving)
4 or so very ripe oranges
3 lemons
3 limes
1 pint of orange juice
1/3 of a cup + 2 tablespoons of sugar.
1/2 pint of brandy
4-6 ounces of triplesec
1 litre tonic water
3 bottles of decent full bodied dry red wine.

Rioja is best but if you can't find any in your price range I would go with a Syrah or a Shiraz... I cannot stress enough that I feel very strongly you should not use Merlot. It isn't a snobbery thing, and has nothing to do with Paul Giammatti: I only bring it up because so many people use it or suggest it but I think this is just simply the wrong wine. Every time I've had sangria made with merlot it's been kind of sour and boring. Truly - feel free to use whatever you like, but I hope you'll just trust me on this one.

-Wash and slice the fruit in roughly 1/4 inch slices.
-Put all the slices in your container and cover with the sugar.
-Pour in the brandy and triplesec, stir it all together then cover and let sit for 1-2 hours.
-Stir in the orange juice, then add the wine. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
-Stir in the tonic water just before serving.
-Serve over ice and drink with or without moderation, whichever is your personal policy, and depending on who's driving.

- B. Out

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Methodless Mixology

I suck at recipes. I can follow them if they are right there, but I never really remember specific amounts or measurements. I'm much more: fly by the seat of my pants, add what seems like it will work, in whatever amount looks right. And you know what? I'm good at it. No, scratch that. I'm fucking awesome at it. When it comes to cooking - if there's one thing I can honestly say I am excellent at, it is flavors. I am the fucking Meister of Flavors. But that is beside the point.

Part of why I suck at recipes is because most of the time I'm just not in the mood to follow one. I usually just want to make something that matches the craving on the tip of my tongue. So I just kinda throw things together until it seems right. This goes especially for drinks. I just eyeball everything or taste as I go if I'm really unsure. Thus Methodless Mixology. Recently I've been making more cocktails, and making them based on a combination of what I want it to taste like and how I want them to affect me.

In my head I've been giving these drinks stupid descriptions like what you see on Vitamin Water and similar products. For example: a drink that I mix with Yerba Mate will be Stimulate, or if it's mostly tonic water it's Refresh. Kinda lame, but it gets me thinking about how to describe things, which is something I really need to work on.

My idea for this segment on the blog is just to talk about anything related to mixed-drinks and catalogue whatever random drinks I come up with.

Stay tuned for my next post where I'll talk about my trials with infusions.

B out.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Homemade Bacon - an inbetween update.

So... I made it.

In fact it's been over a year since I made it. Why didn't I post anything? I'm not sure. Up until recently I didn't have the motivation to post much of anything on this blog. Not that I didn't want to post things - I just wasn't in the mood to actually do it. But I'm trying to change that; at least write what I can - picture included or not. So I'll give you the rundown on the bacon I made last year.

I got two slabs of pork belly from Savenor's on Charles St. I ordered *pink* curing salt online. And I combined the two with kosher salt and for each slab a different flavoring. The first was going to be chipotle maple but I couldn't find chipotle powder. Instead I just used chili powder and maple syrup. The second slab was flavored with lots of black pepper and some liquid smoke seasoning - seeing as I don't actually own a smoker.

I double ziplock bagged each belly and let it sit for a week. Or was it two? Can't actually remember.

Afterwards I baked them in the oven for an hour or two (or more?) at a fairly low tempurature.

All of these processes were adapted from posts I had read on homemade bacon.

After the baking and then some frying... The results?

Pretty good. I didn't have any huge complaints except that they were a little too salty - didn't add enough sugar to balance I suppose. But it was certainly bacon so I was fairly proud.

I think I will try this again. Tweak things a bit. And I have learned my father possesses a smoker at his studio so maybe I'll bring them over there when it's time for the first cooking.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Become Friends With Cheese

Facebook has progressed far beyond connecting college kids with new and old acquaintances, into one of the largest social and marketing networks in the world. Nowadays people can find their favorite local businesses and become fans and suggest that their friends do the same. In some cases it just gets the name of the shop out there, in others fans can receive updates on events, new products and even get exclusive discounts on merch and services.

Whether it's your favorite Pizzeria or Kitchen Supply Store or Bakery you can probably find it and friend it on Facebook.

The newest addition to this lineup? Cheese Shops. Across the country cheese shops are popping up on Facebook. And honestly, who doesn't love cheese? Whether it's Gouda, Gruyere, Petit Basque or Petit Billy almost everyone has at least one cheese they can't do without.

So I'm encouraging all of you to log onto Facebook, find your local Formaggerie, and Become Friends with Cheese.

Here's a few that I've found so far.

Boston Cheese Cellar
Boston, MA

The Cheese Shop (Wasik's)
Wellesley, MA

Newcastle Cheese Shop
Newcastle, CA

The Truffle Cheese Shop
Denver, CO

France 44 Cheese Shop
Minneapolis, MN

Old City Cheese Shop
Philadelphia, PA

Bedford Cheese Shop
Brooklyn, NY

Marion Street Cheese Market
Oak Park, IL

The Cheese Shop on Park
Winter Park, Florida