Monthly Archives: October 2012

Lunch With Cinna

He presses a button on the side of the table. The top splits and from below rises a second tabletop that holds our lunch. Chicken and chunks of oranges cooked in a creamy sauce laid on a bed of pearly white grain, tiny green peas and onions, rolls shaped like flowers, and for dessert, a pudding the color of honey.

-From the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I really love this scene in the hunger games. Katniss sees the lunch described above, and than goes on for a paragraph, describing what she would have to do back in her poverty-stricken district to assemble the meal, and how even after the several days it would take her to scrounge up the shit she would need, it would still be way sucky compared to the Capitols version of the meal. Kind of makes you feel like a dick for being able to get shit from a grocery store.

Also I didn’t make honey coloured pudding, because I didn’t want to. I think just a butterscotch pudding would do nicely, if you feel like you want to prepare the meal exactly cannon.

Also I roasted a whole chicken, but I think if I made this meal again I would just do baked chicken breasts… possibly baked in the creamy orangey marmaladey sauce.

The chicken is an adaptation of the following recipe: http://www.yummly.com/recipe/external/Cornish-Game-Hens-With-Creamy-Orange-Sauce-Food_com-66813

The differences are more ginger because obviously, chunks of orange in the sauce, and not using Cornish game hens because I am not that fancy and my nearest grocery store is of the discount-seeking-poor-people variety (which is convenient, largely because I happen to be a discount seeking poor person). It could be worse though… at least I don’t have to hunt my dinner in the off limits forest surrounding my district.

What You Need!

Rolls: sketchy tube-croissant dough that you buy to make you feel like you are baking when you are really just rolling dough up and putting it in your oven.

Side Peas:

Three cups frozen peas

2 tablespoons butter

Fresh rosemary

Tiny pickled onions (five or six)

Bed of Pearly Grains:

4 cups water

2 cups orange juice

2 cups pearl barly

salt

Chicken:

salt

One whole chicken for roasting (or chicken breasts)

two lemons

About a cup of grated ginger

¾ cup orange marmalade

2 cups milk

4 tbsp butter

2 tbsp flour

One peeled orange, cut into chunks

What to Do!

Lets start with Rolls Shaped like Flowers, because they are easy as fuck. Basically, you take the croissant dough, and roll it up into the (big reveal) SHAPE OF A FLOWER. Put the flower shaped croissants into a muffin tray. Try and flatten the bottom as best you can, because they are prone to rolling over. Also make a ton because at least half of them will come out looking stupid, unless you have much fancier flower-shape-making skills than I have. Follow the baking instructions on the tube, which is usually bake at 375 for 10 to 15 minutes, until they are golden brown.

For the side peas, melt the butter in a small saucepan and add fresh rosemary. When the butter is hot, add the frozen peas and pickled onions, with just a touch of the sweet brine. Sautee until the peas are cooked, which takes 15 to 20 minutes.

For the chicken, stab the lemon and stuff it in the cavity. Melt 2 tbsp butter and massage the chicken with melted butter and salt. Pop it in the oven at 375 for an hour, than take the chicken out, glaze it with ¼ cup of the marmalade, and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes.

While the chicken is roasting, make the creamy sauce by melting the other two tbsp of butter and adding the grated ginger, the juice of the other lemon, and flour. Slowly add the milk and bring to a simmer.  Add the remaining marmalade, and simmer some more, until the sauce becomes creamy. Add salt to taste (depending on how sweet you want the sauce to be… marmalade is pretty freakin sweet). When the sauce is pretty much done, add the chunks of orange and remove from heat. I also added some of the drippings from the roasted chicken, to savoury-up the sauce a wee bit.

And lastly, the Pearly White Grain bed:

Bring the water and orange juice to a boil, add the barly, and simmer for like an hour. You can add more water or orange juice as it is cooking if the liquid reduces too much. Add salt to taste AFTER you have finished cooking the barly (the salt will adversely affect the liquid absorption of the grain if you add it while its cooking).

This meal yields enough to comfortably feed 2 or 3 people. Even WITHOUT honey coloured pudding for dessert! Enjoy

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Filed under Main Course, Suzanne Collins

A Creamy Soup of Mushrooms and Buttered Snails

The first dish was a creamy soup of mushrooms and buttered snails, served in gilded bowls.

From A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

I always feel like it’s cheating to use GRRM for inspiration, because it requires approximately ten seconds of randomly opening one of his books and skimming no more than a paragraph. But here we are, so whatever.

I always have enjoyed escargot, and have occasionally attempted to include these tasty snails in a great number of dishes they may not usually appear in. Escargot/alfredo was a crowd pleaser. Escargot/garlic bread (or as I like to call it “escarlic bread”) was not a crowd pleaser, but remains one of my favourite drunk snacks.

I have yet to determine if A Creamy Soup of Mushrooms and Buttered Snails is a crowd pleaser, because as of yet, no crowd except me has been brave enough to eat it. All my friends are apparently babies about food. It is a ME  pleaser though. The escargot add their vaguely exotic seafoody deliciousness to a lovely creamy broth, and their velvety soft deliciousness to your face.

What you need!

One medium sized onion, chopped

Three cloves of garlic, chopped

About a cup of cooked cauliflower

Not very many mushrooms, chopped very small, because mushrooms are gross (if you like mushrooms I suppose you can add more). Another option is no mushrooms, because reasons (but you have to call it A Creamy Soup of Only Buttered Snails if you go for this option).

1/3 cup of butter

A whole lot of fresh basil, chopped

4 cups of beef broth OR chicken broth

½ cup milk OR cream

About half a cup of something alcoholic (white wine if you are using chicken stock, dark beer if you are using beef stock)

About a cup of grated cheddar cheese

One cup of escargot (approx 2 cans)

Salt and pepper to taste

What to Do!

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, and sautee the onions and garlic until the onion is almost clear. Add the basil and half of the mushrooms, and sautee for some more time until the onions are done.

Add the soup stock, beer/wine and cauliflower, bring to a boil. Drink the rest of the beer/wine because obviously. Reduce to a simmer. When soup is simmering, add cheddar cheese and milk and simmer some more until the cheese is melted.

Remove from heat and blend the soup in your blender or with a submersible blender. When it is creamy enough, put it back on the stove and add the remaining mushrooms and the escargot. Allow to simmer until the soup has reduced slightly. The more you let it reduce the creamier (and snailier) it will taste. This is the time when you can add your salt and pepper to taste as well.

Serve hot, or else it will get a weird skin on top of it (from the cheese). Serves about four I think, except that nobody wants to try it, so technically it has only served me four times.

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Filed under George R.R. Martin, Soups and Salads

Buffalo Chickie Nobs

“This is the latest,” said Crake.

What they were looking at was a large bulblike object that seemed to be covered with stippled whitish-yellow skin. Out of it came twenty thick fleshy tubes, and at the end of each tube another bulb was growing.

“What the hell is it?” said Jimmy.

“Those are chickens,” said Crake. “Chicken parts. Just the breasts, on this one. They’ve got ones that specialize in drumsticks too, twelve to a growth unit.

“But there aren’t any heads…”

“That’s the head in the middle,” said the woman. “There’s a mouth opening at the top, they dump nutrients in there. No eyes or beak or anything, they don’t need those.”

-From Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwoood

Oryx and Crake includes some truly terrifying dystopian sci-fi stuff… but the part of it that always creeped me out the most was the genetically modified foods. Actually thats a lie. The thing that creeped me out the most was the social acceptability and easy access to child pornography. Also the part where almost everybody in the world is eradicated by a pandemic. So I guess the food is a third. But that is still pretty high up on the creepy scale.

As it happens, I am friends with a number of vegetarians and vegans, as well as people with gluten intolerance, people with diabetes, and people with crohns disease. Therefore, one of my favourite games to play is “how do I make _____ (amazing food) something _____ (amazing friend with food issues) can eat”. This particularly grotesque image of an artificial chicken inspired me to make something delicious, if slightly weird and unnatural-seeming. As it happens, ChickieNobs have yet to be invented, and I am in no hurry to see them become a reality. Because of the creepy, and also the fact that shortly afterwards everybody dies from a mysterious plague. Soooooo I had to come up with something ELSE that was sufficiently weird and delicious. The result? VEGATARIAN MUTHAFUCKIN CHICKEN WINGS.

This recipe is made from seitan, which is the same meat substitute you often find in Chinese food. It is NOT made out of tofu, because that would be way too straight forward. It is essentially wheat, with everything except the gluten taken out (so this is not a recipe for my gluten intolerant friends). You can buy this stuff at most grocery stores, in the same place weird not-gluteny flours are sold. It is called “Vital Wheat Gluten” and it goes a pretty long way when you are using it to make seitan.

The other part of this is buffalo sauce, which is the best chicken-wing sauce available hands down. Also I hope I haven’t tapped out your creepy threshold, because I am about to tell you a creepy secret that is creepy.

Buffalo sauce = equal parts butter and Franks Red Hot.

I shit you not, that is actually all that is in it.

This gets complicated for vegans adapting this recipe, because I have yet to discover a vegan margarine that is unsalted… and the easiest way to fuck this recipe up is to accidentally make it too salty. One thing I tried, with pretty good results, was to replace the vegetarian chicken stock with home-made vegetable stock made out of savoury herbs and veggies, and absolutely no salt (to off-set the saltiness of the sauce), and than use Earth Balance brand vegan margarine instead of unsalted butter. I still like the lacto-ovo vegetarian version of this recipe better, so if anybody encounters a vegan unsalted butter substitute PLEASE let me know about it!

Okay so here we go with the recipe finally.

What You Need!

–          1 cup vital wheat gluten

–          ¾ cup whatever your favourite veggie chicken-flavoured broth is, for mixing

–          Some slices of onion

–           6 cups of whatever your favourite veggie chicken-flavoured broth is, for COOKING.

–          Some flour ( about like… 1/3 cup? I dunno … enough to cover the ChickieNobs before frying)

–          Some vegitable oil (again I dunno… enough to deep fry the ChickieNobs)

–          1 ½ cup unsalted butter

–          12 fluid ounces (approx one bottle) of hot sauce. Franks Red Hot is the traditional choice for traditional Buffalo Sauce…however Chicken is the traditional choice for Chicken Wings… so I guess you can use something different if you want to.

To Make the ChickieNobs!

Mix the wheat gluten and the ¾ cup of broth together. You can use a fork or something at first, but you will eventually have to knead it with your hands. It will be the consistency of rubber when its thoroughly mixed (yum!)

Break off small chunks and flatten as much as possible (about 1/3 inches thick is good). I saw a recipe on the internet that called these chunks “cutlets”… which for some reason I find awkward.

Bear in mind that they will grow twice as big after they have been cooked.

Heat up the broth in a large pot, until it is boiling. Add onion. Add the flattened gluten chunks to the broth and cook for about an hour. They will expand and solidify. When they are finished remove from heat. If you do not plan to use all the seitan for ChickieNobs (it also is excellent in stir fries) than store it in the broth in your fridge.

After the seitan has cooled, remove some from broth, pat dry, and cut it into approximately chicken-wing sized bits. Dust the bits with flour, and deep fry until they are crispy on the outside.

While you are frying the ChickieNobs, melt butter in a small saucepan. Slowly add hot sauce to the melted butter, and whisk together. Remove from heat. This is buffalo sauce.

When the ChickieNobs are finished frying, toss them in buffalo sauce and serve!

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Filed under Main Course, Margaret Atwood

What to do with the Leftovers

What To Do with the Leftovers from Honeyed Chicken a la Winterfell (AKA the best soup in the universe)

For Honeyed Chicken see https://food4thoughtand4urface.wordpress.com/2012/10/22/honeyed-chicken-a-la-winterfell/

I am a firm believer in stretching food as far as it will go. This is a conviction that comes greatly from the fact that I am the poorest person in the world. My freezer is usually filled with the frozen carcasses of poultry I have roasted, awaiting the day that I am so strapped for cash that my only option for dinner is “Soup Made Out of Frozen Chicken Carcass and Whatever is Getting Dodgy in my Refrigerator”. It was a happy accident that led to this soups existence, when on such a day, I fished out the decimated remains of my previous weeks foray into Westerosi cuisine, noting that there was still some sauce and meat in the container. Culinary genious that I am, I invented the greatest soup ever, which accidentally was so totally gourmet that it more properly evokes the feeling of attending a feast in the Capitol of Panem than awaiting your imminently violent and premature death in the bleak frozen halls of George R.R. Martin’s North.

Ingredients

1 or 2 thoroughly picked over and decimated Honeyed Chicken carcasses (including any leftover sauce, carrots, berries etc.)

10 – 12 medium white potatoes, washed with skin on (you can peel them if you are the kind of baby that also does things like cut the crusts off your sandwich, but the skin has most of the vitamins and is getting blendered-to-fuck anyways so you should totally leave it on)

Fresh ginger to taste (peeled is actually a good call on this one though. I used about half a medium sized root)

1 large onion (also peeled)

Two cloves garlic, chopped

5 – 10 medium carrots

1 sprig fresh rosemary

1 bay leef

Salt and pepper to taste (lots of salt makes for better broth and unhappy hearts, I used about a quarter cup)

Put potatoes, carrots, ginger, onion, garlic, rosemary and bay leaf in a large pot with leftover honeyed chicken and leftover sauce. Cover with water, and bring water to a boil. Add salt and pepper. Reduce heat and let simmer for a very, very long time (I usually try and let my soup get all soupy for at least two hours… the longer you let it boil the better your broth will be). If it boils down too much (the water does not cover the potatoes anymore) than add some more water. If it lacks the pizzaz you are looking for you are allowed to add more salt. Soup is not an exact science guys… keep tweaking it until you are satisfied.

The hardest part of this soup is the next part. You have to separate the stuff you want to eat (almost everything) from the stuff that will get stuck in your throat and kill you (the tiny chicken bones). I use tongs to fish out the cooked potatoes, onion, ginger and carrots and put them in a large bowl to await further instructions, and than strain the broth into another pot, using a colander to catch the chickeny bits.
There is usually a good amount of meat left in the colander, along with the disgusting mass of animal cartilage. Because, as I mentioned, I like not-wasting food, I usually put the colander-full of chicken carcass in the freezer for fifteen minutes to cool it down, and than spend 20 minutes picking out all the remaining edible goodies to put back in the soup. Be sure to get the remaining dried fruit too, as it adds a certain je ne sais quois (which is French for ‘who the fuck knows’) to the finished soup.

When you have a bowl full of meats and berries, add them back into the broth, along with the potatoes carrots onion and ginger. Now the exciting bit.

If you are the kind of person who has a submersible blender, than you are the kind of person who is going to find the next step laughably easy and hassle free. If you are not that kind of person, this part suuuuuuucks.

You gotta blend this suckah till its smooth and creamy, which can be accomplished in about a minute of not-getting scalded or getting blended potato (which, incidentally bears a remarkable similarity to poster-glue when it cools down) everywhere in your kitchen, with the use of a submersible blender. Otherwise you have to ladle some broth and chunky bits into your stupid normal blender a couple of ladles-full at a time, which takes approximately eight thousand years, and if you are anything like me, results in the greatest kitchen disaster that your kitchen has ever experienced. Enjoy explaining the soup splatter on your ceiling to your landlords guys.

But trust me, this is so totally worth it. If your soup has, during the duration of your exploits become somewhat less hot than you would like, heat it up on the stove again for five or ten minutes. This is also based on a vichyssoise recipe, which means it is delicious cold as well. Should any survive the initial serving and end up in your fridge.

I generally make food in quantities best described as ‘a fuck-tonne’, and this one serves about 5 or 6 normal humans. Or it would, if it wasn’t so goddamn delicious, or if you and your roommates happen to be as ravenously barbarous as me and mine, which means it serves 4.

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Filed under Soups and Salads

Honeyed Chicken a la Winterfell

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Wish I could take ALL of the credit for this recipe, but that would be dishonest and lying and infringement. While I have tweaked the recipe ever so slightly, proper credit should go to the lovely ladies at the Inn at the Crossroads, Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer. They have, by the way, put out an amaze-balls actual cookbook (those paper things that you read that are not the internet in case you forgot) called a Feast of Ice and Fire, which you should buy because it is beautiful, official, endorsed and introduced by the Fastest Writer in the Whole Entire Universe himself (yet another thing he has written that is not more books), and also because it looks great on your cookbook-shelf beside the Star Trek official cookbook. You can find their honeyed chicken recipe here http://www.innatthecrossroads.com/2011/04/06/honeyed-chicken/

I will be the first to admit that my version of this recipe is a little bit less authentic-seeming than theirs. I will also be the first to assert that mine is delicious and I am willing to suspend my disbelief. As for my changes, first off… roasted carrots with the chicken makes for delicious roasted carrots in honey sauce, which is an instant side dish and is phenomenal. Secondly, chickens roasted with nothing inside them are not nearly as delicious as chickens roasted with stab-wounded lemons stuffed in their carcass. Thirdly, raisins suck.

I also always make two, because they are that delicious.

What You Need!

2 chickens for roasting (approx 6 pounds each)

A bunch of carrots, chopped haphazardly (leave the skins on… but you can wash them if you want)

2 lemons

¼ cup unsalted butter, melted

Salt

1 ¾ cups apple cider vinegar

¼ cup red wine vinegar

1 ½ cup honey

A dash of fresh mint

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup dried cranberries cherries and blueberries mix (‘Irresistibles’ brand makes bags of this called ‘berry medley… I get it from Food Basics for like 4 dollars) OR if you cant find that shit

½  cup dried cranberries

¼ cup dried cherries

¼ cup dried blueberries

Preheat your oven to 450

Put the vinegar and honey together in a saucepan, and let it sit for a bit… the vinegar will break the honey down which I have found is best before putting it on the stove.

Massage the chickens with salt and the melted butter to make them crispy and fabulous. With a sharp knife, stab the lemons within an inch of their lives, and stuff them in the carcass. If the chickens are too small to fit a whole lemon inside them (please note how restrained I am, not making any obvious and tasteless joke here) you can cut the lemon in half, but its best to try and fit the whole thing in (again with the restraint).

Put the chickens in separate roasting pans with their contingent of carrots surrounding them, and cook for about an hour and 20 minutes. You can tell they are done if you stab the leg and the juice runs clear. Check in on them every 20 minutes or so, basting them with their juices to ensure they are not drying out.

While your chickens are roasting, whisk together the now broken down honey and vinegar, heat up on low, and add the rest of the things. You want to simmer this sauce on low for about half an hour, until the fruit plumps up, and the sauce has reduced to half its original volume. This will be totally delicious, and has the added bonus of stinking up your entire house like … boiled vinegar. In light of this, if you are serving honeyed chicken as a part of a dinner party or something, I would recommend making the sauce the day before, or doing it somewhere else.

When the chickens and carrots are done, pour the sauce over them. The cookbook version of this says to set some aside to serve as gravy, but I personally didn’t do that because I wanted to thoroughly drench the chickens and carrots.

People will write songs about you if you serve this to them.

Also! Here is an awesome recipe for soup made with the leftovers : https://food4thoughtand4urface.wordpress.com/2012/10/22/what-to-do-with-the-leftovers/

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October 22, 2012 · 7:06 pm