Monthly Archives: December 2005

A Menu For Hope – last 2 days!

Menu For Hope II
I’m reposting the Menu for Hope entry I made a week or two ago since we have only two days left in this drive to raise money. We have already raised well over $10,000 – a great reponse in this season of giving and hope. Now, in the last two days we are hoping to get over the $15,000 mark! There are some staggeringly amazing prizes on offer (every $5 donation goes into a raffle and you can indicate preferred prizes) including the amazing Digital Dish, but also far more amazing prizes like shadowing Michelin starred cooks for a day or eating out at high-falutin fancy places, etc. Now on with the full explanation….

About a year ago several food bloggers banded together to create A Menu For Hope to provide some support for victims of the tsunami in South East Asia. This year many, many more of us are getting together to raise money to support UNICEF’s relief efforts in Northern India, Pakistan and Afghanistan after the devastating earthquake there has left thousands homeless just as winter approaches. High in these mountainous areas, far from modern amenities, a homeless winter is a true disaster.

Please consider giving generously. I am offering three copies of Digital Dish as prizes and every $5 you pledge at the link here or in the navigation on the left, earns you an entry into a raffle for all the prizes. Obviously I would be very pleased if you enter for a copy of Digital Dish but in fact I would be quite happy if you just entered – for anything at all. Many of the prizes are far more valuable than my (our) modest book. I will try to get the books autographed by the local authors (Ellen, Biggles, Stephanie and myself) as an added incentive – that’s not something you can get in the bookstore!

$5 is a small, small donation for many of us. And yes, there are many, many worthwhile causes to which to donate this year. But of all them, the people in this struggling region are most in danger of being forgotten.

Thank you.

DONATE HERE!

Eggnog Wars and the ‘Fayette Ponch

My new employer just had its Christmas party and one of the events was an eggnog-off. Participants had to bring in eggnog (preferably but not necessarily alcoholic). So of course I had to take part even though I’m not really a big fan of eggnog. The only eggnog I’ve had that I liked was my chef friend Sharon’s Neggnog (so called because you had to stop drinking when you started calling it neggnog – which didn’t take long).

Coincidentally, a friend had a tree-trimming party and a Trinidadian Ponch de Creme was served – now that was some eggnog! So I decided to make my own version as my contribution. Meyer Lemon from the infamous tree instead of lime. Cardamom just because it obviously would go.

It was really good. But it didn’t win – a ‘cocktail’ made from store eggnog, vodka and Kahlua nicknamed the kalashnikov won – hah!

But mine was the best real eggnog.

‘Fayette Ponch

6 egg yolks
1 bottle high quality dark caribbean rum
1/2 bottle good brandy
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
fine zest of two meyer lemons
8oz sweetened condensed milk
2 quarts heavy cream

I fresh ground the spices but you don’t have to. Put the ground spices and the spirits together in the container you will serve from and let them steep while you get the rest ready. Beat the egg yolks into the cream in a saucepan and slowly heat until over 160 degrees F or until close to boiling (to kill salmonella bacteria). Pour mixture into spirits mixture and stir thoroughly together. Add sweetened condensed milk and lemon zest and mix thoroughly together. Chill and serve.

Paper Chef Winner Announced

The results are in. And I think this is the longest roundup and the most contentious judging effort ever. And the largest number of prizes awarded! So go check it all out!

Pleading, Whining and Just Hurt – Menu For Hope II and Paper Chef Updates


Donate here!

DONATE HERE!

I’m hurt that not one of you so far has elected to receive a copy of Digital Dish in the raffle. Does that mean you are all cheapskates who won’t donate or is it that you prpefer the really good prizes like actual food and actual dinners and even a real live lamb? Whatever – I shall take a leaf out of my daughter’s book and whine until you put Digital Dish down as a prize you want just to shut me up! So there!

In other news – they are even more stuck in that bar in Australia somewhere – apparently they can’t even begin to agree on who should win the grand prize. Four votes all for four different entries. I think it is an excuse to keep getting sloshed myself and by now they should have called in John the maple-syrup-anonymous-tester-extra-judge to break the tie – but we all know that really he’s at the bar with the rest of them…

Paper Chef Update – Judging Battle Underway

First, don’t forget to donate….for the Menu For Hope…

DONATE HERE!

For those looking for Paper Chef Updates. There is a knockdown, drag-out battle raging between the judges (which I think means they had a tie on a couple of categories and have to reconvene) and they have not yet rendered their verdicts. I believe the place to get the scoop first is the Electric Resturant, home of the Two-Minute Noodle Cook. But since there is a large panel of Australian judges involved, they are probably in fact stuck in a bar somewhere soused on Shiraz and will only come out when they are good and ready!

Actually, they have chosen to make this a very properly run event – more so than even the real Iron Chef and so it just takes some time – helps build anticipation I think. Anyway, as soon as I know, you will too…

A Menu For Hope 2 – Pakistan, Northern India and Afghanistan

Menu For Hope II
About a year ago several food bloggers banded together to create A Menu For Hope to provide some support for victims of the tsunami in South East Asia. This year many, many more of us are getting together to raise money to support UNICEF’s relief efforts in Northern India, Pakistan and Afghanistan after the devastating earthquake there has left thousands homeless just as winter approaches. High in these mountainous areas, far from modern amenities, a homeless winter is a true disaster.

Please consider giving generously. I am offering three copies of Digital Dish as prizes and every $5 you pledge at the link here or in the navigation on the left, earns you an entry into a raffle for all the prizes. Obviously I would be very pleased if you enter for a copy of Digital Dish but in fact I would be quite happy if you just entered – for anything at all. Many of the prizes are far more valuable than my (our) modest book. I will try to get the books autographed by the local authors (Ellen, Biggles, Stephanie and myself) as an added incentive – that’s not something you can get in the bookstore!

$5 is a small, small donation for many of us. And yes, there are many, many worthwhile causes to which to donate this year. But of all them, the people in this struggling region are most in danger of being forgotten.

Thank you.

DONATE HERE!

Leftover Cayenne and Arbol Chile Peppers = 50,000 Scoville Unit Hot Sauce

Every now and then I mention my littel vegetable garden strip out back near the pool beneath the cherry tree and shadowed by the neighbour’s Beech. One of the reasons this blog is called Tomatilla! is because the tomatillas love this little strip of land. I no longer plant them any more they self seed/sow through fruit that fall and rot and I just thin them out in the spring to four plants or so. Same with the arugula. But in and around I grow some tomatoes, some eggplant, some beans, and some squash every Summer. I also try for some peppers every year and every year until now I failed badly. But this year I grew a pile of cayenne peppers and a couple of Chile d’Arbol. I used a couple here and there as Summer turned to Fall, but I ended up when I finally yanked out the Summer garden with a good 40 or so peppers. So I made some hot sauce. Some really hot sauce.

Research tells me that cayenne peppers peak out at around 50,000 Scoville units. These seem at least that hot to me. Touching my tongue to a spoon of the sauce almost results in pain.

But hot sauce isn’t just about pain. These are some TASTY peppers – and especially with the inclusion of the two much larger Chile d’Arbol. So I thought about what I wanted in a hot sauce. I like most kinds. I don’t have time to ferment in oak for a year. My other big time local ingredient that I have too much of is the infamous Meyer Lemon (the big tree still has literally over 100 lemons on it – and that is with us using them constantly). I like some salt in my hot sauce. I like some depth in my hot sauce. So here is what I did…

Owen’s 50-Karat Hot Sauce

30 dried cayenne chile peppers
2 dried Chile d’Arbol
(I dried mine over three or four weeks on the stovetop – just letting them get the gentle heat from cooking nearby)
The juice of two Meyer Lemons
Six cloves of garlic
One two-inch piece of ginger peeled and cut into chunks.
two and a half tablespoons kosher salt.

Put everything into a food processor/blender. Do not de-seed the peppers. Simply remove the stalks if any. Process until you can process no more (in my case that leaves little pieces of peper about the size of red chili flakes you buy in the store). You should have a thick but spoonable and pourable sauce that you better not get on anything sensitive. Put it in a jar you just ran through a dishwasher and store it in the fridge – it’ll keep a month or two.

I haven’t dared cook with mine yet – I have to wait until the kids aren’t going to be eating too.

Paper Chef #13: Carrot, Rice, Anchovy and Celebrating-The-Other-Side Edition Part Two

Since all our judges this time around (and we have a PANEL) are Australian, many of our readers took Australia to heart and combined their entries with some kind of Australian touch. In Alanna’s case she delved into memories of lullabies and family and came up with the jolly swagman perched beside the billabong, so she made a sensationally rich-sounding Swagman Stew. She also held her nose and managed the anchovy element of the ingredients, a common reaction to this innocuous little fishy. Personally I lurve my anchovies. And finally, I was totally impressed by her claim to know nothing of Australia and promptly reel out a paragraph long riff of Australian thoughts, memories and impressions.

Our next stop on the Australia sense-a-thon is at experiment in writing with its mysterious proprietress, Lady X. She too has memories of Australia, although in her case they stem from her travel journals from the early 90’s and a clearly memorable trip. I have to admit that I got the impression from her reminiscences that this was more or less a wine tasting trip with some other experiences thrown in, although I really liked the sound of swimming in the river followed by fresh-cooked yabbies on the river bank. And, the journal and trip appear to have inspired her as she made three dishes: a Cauliflower, Carrot & Macadamia Nut Terrine; Saffron Risottos Cakes With Crawfish and Garlic Lemon Anchovy Sauce and that quintessential Australian dessert, Lamingtons.

For our final stops on this whirlwind Paper Chef tour, we switch from geographical to the more intellectual and contrasting realms of deconstructionism and architecture (in this case building things up).

First up is the artisitc and deconstructionist magic of the delightfully named ‘magic tofu’ of the less delightfully named ‘slurp and burp’ blog. Using the typically tortured logic of the deconstructionist mind, magic tofu somehow transformed a regular Paper Chef event and about five cents worth of ingredients into the kind of dish you would expect to see at El Bulli. In this case, a ‘soft boiled egg‘ that has no egg in it and sounds delicious and unusual.

And last, but by no means least, we have Stephen of Stephen Cooks (no hiding behind pseudonyms here!) who solved his personal Paper Chef puzzle by building up. As usual his presentation and photography shine with some kind of magic food blog luminosity that I am unable to achieve. And as a past winner (as are several of the other entrants) we know he has the chops (in this case lamb) to succeed with his Anchovy Sage Risotto and Carrot Cake Tower, with Shiraz Jelly.

So that’s it. In two quick sets of entries we have spanned the world from up to down, from left to right, from here to there, by way of nine different entries that have once again surprised and delighted us. Honored panel of judges, these are your Paper Chef aspirants this month. Treat them well.

Paper Chef #13: Carrot, Rice, Anchovy and Celebrating-The-Other-Side Edition

It is time for the grand roundup of Paper Chef Entries. This is the most fun part for me. I get to write nice little summaries where I hope to pique the reader’s interest enough to go check each and every entry out for themself. I get to read about fantastic, inventive, funny, serious, casual, sublime and ridiculous food. I get to post the roundup, and turn away hungry and leave the hard part, the judging, to someone else.

This time around, perhaps because of the holidays, perhaps because of ingredients at once both straightforward and difficult, we had a slightly lower number of entries. But most of those entries reached new levels of ‘going over the top.’ We have cocktail parties, we have banquets, we have artistic ‘kitchen science’ creations that would not be out of place at El Bulli. We also have humble comfort food and decent dinners. But we don’t have a lame entry in the bunch!

Before you dive into the entries, you may want to head over to the Electronic Restaurant of the insanely inventive Two-Minute Noodle Cook where lots of extra options and categories are laid out.

OK, on with the show…

First up is a brand new entrant, Thomas, who doesn’t even have a blog. Undaunted by what many see as an insurmountable obstacle he simply went ahead and emailed his entry *with* photo directly to me. I posted it in the entry right below this one. He made a single plate meal with three seperate recipes to make up the plated meal. These are a simple butterflied cut of pork grilled, with an insanely rich anchovy cheese sauce, accompanied by a nutritious and healthy carrot and rice soup in a bell pepper cup – that last is a lovely touch I may well be emulating for a dinner party one day. Thomas did not know about all the special categories of our Australian judges so I will step up and nominate him for the Paper Chef Super Saver, the Paper Chef Prestige and the Paper Chef Supreme. I would like to nominate him for the nutrition entry but what’s the point of that rich sauce if you don’t eat it, eh?

Next up is one of our many pseudonymous entrants. I never know how much people care to keep their identities a secret so we will try not to break the faith unless we just can’t resist…

The Culinary Bookworm is a lady (I hope I am not presuming something there) who absolutely needs to invite me (and my family) to dinner. My friends don’t go around throwing cocktail parties like this on a whim – and they don’t do it with enough panache and flair to declaim that they are doing it to use up leftovers! Her Clean-Out-the-Fridge International Holiday Cocktail Party is truly a feast for the eyes and the palate. Individual items included Orange Coconut Sticky Rice Brulee and Cardamom-Spiced Basmati Rice Pudding with Anchovy Butter. You’ll have to mosey on over to find out the other two things she made…Oh – and although not mentioned in her post, email conveyed the following suggestions for category entries:
Personality: For this entry, I don my best hostess-with-the-mostest voice (can you hear the hospitality-laden drawl?)
Super Saver: I created all of my dishes by relying on what I had in my fridge or pantry and the required ingredients; the only thing I had to purchase were the anchovies!
Prestige: I’m no professional plater-upper like the Noodle Cook, but I did set the table in proper holiday fashion. And, see how spotless my plates are? At least I pay attention to directions.
Nutrition Genie: No chance. I fried two of my four dishes. Oh well.

Next up are the funniest food duo (and the duo with the best cooking chops) since the Two Fat Ladies: Mrs Deedop and Chopper Dave at Belly Timber. Their witty writing and equally witty photography illuminate some pretty durn sublime cooking. Plus this time around they threw in some gratuitous extra ingredients like penguins and leaping dolphins – OK, not really, but check the entry out and you’ll see what I’m talking about. And what’s not to like about an entry entitled, “Oooh, Fishy, fishy, fishy, fish…?”

The actual entry (once you get past all the red herrings – see why they talked about so many fish?) is for Special Siu Mai and Fried Shrimp in Chili Sauce and believe you me these are some more special Siu Mai.

Some of you, those of you who are my regular readers, that is to say, one or two of you, may have gleaned that I live in Northern California. And for those who have lived in this Golden State, you know that there is only one thing a Northern Californian hates more than a…OK, let’s not go there. But we will go for the thing we hate the most – and that is a Southern Californian.

Fortunately, I am not actually a Northern Californian. I just live here. So I can like lots and lots of Southern Californians without a problem. And without a doubt, the ones I like the most are the food bloggers. I won’t list them all here, but Rachael of Fresh Approach Cooking is one of them. She’s witty, fun, informative and an ace chef.

Anyhow, Rachael entered a simple but still mind-blowingly elegant Carrot Rice Canape with Anchoiade. Somehow she transformed the name of a dish into an ingredient along the way – I’m still not sure quite how she did it – one of those ‘distract you for an instant while I turn a feather into a bowling ball’ kind of tricks I think. Go see if you can figure it all out.

Our next entrant confessed something right up front that I was both charmed and worried by. She feels that the Paper Chef is a hard event to enter but entered anyway. Maybe in the future we will stretch the timeline out a little. I have a personal confession this time, too. I do get a bit intimidated by how much effort some of our amazing entrants put into it. On the other hand I know they don’t do that every time and the spirit of the event is taking part and everyone is totally supportive. So I enter whenever I have time. Setting it all up and writing this roundup and occasionally judging means that I often just can’t do it (like this time), but when ever I do I feel like I stretched my cooking abilities just a little. So from now on, just think of the Paper Chef as a little culinary Yoga.

So, Anne, who really does live a long way away from most of the other entrants, in Sweden. She entered a wonderful comfort dish that comforts the eye, the soul, the tummy and the wallet all at the same time! Her Fried Rice with Turkey and Saffron is one of those dishes that is simple and extraordinary at the same time.

Because I am so very swamped at work I am going to have to finish this roundup later – tonight or tomorrow – but stay tuned. Still to come are the jolly swagman, australian adventures in the last century and food alchemy and architecture.

Early Entrant for the Paper Chef Event!

Hah! Here you all are awaiting the roundup and instead you get yet another entrant. In this case, an intrepid newcomer emailed me his entry bang on time (early Sunday evening) and I didn’t notice until just now that he doesn’t have a blog!

He does, however, have something almost as good – a very nice ‘n’ spicy commercial website selling some very serious hot spice products.

Anyway, there is a standing offer to host recipes here for entrants to the Paper Chef who are currently blogless. My very own brother took advantage of this way back when with his Chicken Savoy cooked in a microwave (horrors!)

So, without further ado, here is Thomas’s recipe…

Paper Chef Entry Copyright Thomas B 2005

The Soup – Theme Ingredients. Carrots, Rice.

1 squirt of cooking oil – enough to cover the bottom of the pot.
1 onion, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
3/4 tsp ground coriander
1/2 pound baby carrots, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 C raw white rice
1 quart homemade chicken stock

1. Heat oil over medium low heat.
2. Add onion and garlic, salt, pepper, cumin and coriander, and cook
slowly until onions are translucent.
3. Add carrots, rice and cook 30 minutes, or until rice is puffed up
and
carrots can be crushed against side of pot with wooden spoon.

Serve in a sweet hallow bell pepper.

The Pork – Theme ingredient.
2 pounds fresh butterfly pork
Course ground black pepper
Course ground sea salt
1 Tsp garlic powder

Do not use previously frozen pork. Use fresh only.

1. Mix salt, pepper and garlic powder in a bowl until well blended.
2. Lightly season pork with mixture.
3. Place pork in a glass container and put in the refrigerator for 30
minutes.
4. Prepare the grill for low direct heat.

Place pork on the grill and slowly cook until done.

The Sauce – Theme ingredient: Anchovy.

1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 block of cream cheese – softened
5 oz of blue cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon minced scallions
1 tablespoon tarragon vinegar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 anchovy fillets, minced
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil

To make the dressing: In a food processor blend the dressing
ingredients
together.

Chef Notes:
This was a slight challenge for me. I do not like anchovys – so I had
to find a way to mate it with the (U.S.) Southwestern style of cooking.
I chose pork when I could not find anything from the other side of the
world, and from what I can read from the website (I am assuming that
the
hosts of this competition) are located in Australia. So the other side
of the world would be the US.

About me:
Thomas Burbridge is the owner, operator of Taste The Heat, Inc. With
little or no professional training, Tom has managed to capture three
international awards including the International Scovie Awards.
Additionally, Tom and his dad Tom O, compete in Texas Style Barbecue
competitions throughout the LoneStar State.