Archive for the Everyday Cooking Category

Communion: Bread and Wine

Posted in Everyday Cooking with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 17, 2013 by groovychef

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Normally my days off are spent doing some serious cooking. But I woke up this morning riddled with allergies and a general exhaustion (most likely from the allergies I suffer from the Kentucky Bluegrass across the street).

So after a morning of nearly zero productivity, I finally decided to make bread.

Making bread, like making pasta, is good for the soul. It clears the brain, it clears the bad karma, it cleanses the soul.

It requires you to care for the yeast and bread [sponge] like a fertilized egg. With the right care and conditions it grows into a beautiful piece of artwork.

As the rain came down in furious sheets outside (and plenty of lightening and thunder that scared my poor furry baby), I warmed the water to the right temp and added the yeast and sugar…then I carried it out to the coffee table to watch it bloom…I did not want to miss the moment when it was perfect for adding flour.

As the afternoon droned on and the rain continued, I turned on the tv only to be hit with our President announcing that the current gun background check bill had been denied. I also realized that I could not get enough to eat (over a two hour period of time I ate two Italian sausages, a cup of crab salad, and half a carton of ice cream).

I went back to making bread….

As I did I could not help but to feel that making bread, on this dark and rainy afternoon was more of a deep cleaning then just therapy for the brain, a clearing of the karma and cleansing of the soul.

I felt more relaxed and less worried about life’s small problems then I had earlier.

After several hours (I do on occasion have yeast issues…today being one of them, I suspect the moisture in the air had something to do with it), the bread was ready to be placed in the oven and bake.

The second the bread hit the oven, I felt a sigh of relief come out and the tension in my shoulders melt away. At this point, I had tended the bread as best as I could and if it was not going to bake right, there was nothing more I could do to save it.

Later, as I sliced the warm bread and poured myself a glass of chardonnay, I realized that maybe the rain, the bread and the wine were my own private “communion.” A way to cleanse my tired soul….

 

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Where the great ideas come from

Posted in Everyday Cooking with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2013 by groovychef

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Today is Sunday. After a morning in the trenches of breakfast heaven, I appreciate the silence of my tiny apartment, my cat, and being surrounded by the comfort of my cookbooks. The clattering of dishes becomes the ticking of the mantle clock. The constant voices of my linemen become the purring of my cat.

I wait all week for these few hours I can come home to an empty house and just create and write.

This afternoon my muse for creativity will be two New York Strip steaks and I could not be more excited. Accompanying these steaks will be glazed pearl onions and roasted potatoes.

What will your muse be in the kitchen today?

Last Nights Beef Brisket, A Nap on The Couch, and Ravioli For Breakfast: It’s Not Glam, Its Reality

Posted in Everyday Cooking with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 5, 2013 by groovychef

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I did not get to post last night as promised. Somehow the days events completely wore me out and I managed enough energy to get my chili rubbed brisket into the oven, finish up a few loose ends around the house and then lay down on the couch to watch a movie…which I did not see the end of because I fell asleep.

I missed the end of Looper. It was a great movie, what I saw of it. As for the beef brisket, it turned out perfect.

I opted for a chili-cinnamon based rub and no bbq sauce. As a chef, I adore the heat sweet blend of a hot rub and a sweet sauce (it confuses your taste buds) but this 3 lb piece of brisket was insanely perfect in its cut, size, color and appearance (you would think I was grading a diamond!) and I just did not want to muck up the flavor of the beef.

I did not remove the small fat pad on the back side of the brisket. Contrary to popular belief, fat is good for a lot of things and flavoring a “dry” cut of beef with its own natural fat is better then slathering it with Crisco or bacon (mmmm…bacon. This is the only time I am choosing not to add bacon to anything). I placed it in an oven proof pan at 400, fat side down and roasted it, DRY in the oven for about half an hour until the fat had released some of its juices and it started to build a brown crust color. Then I flipped the beef over and returned it to the oven for another half an hour.

I removed it one last time, flipped it over (fat side down) reduced the oven temp to 250 and slid it right back in for another hour to finish off. When the meat was a pleasant deep mahogany, and firm to the touch I removed it (I did not temp it…temp is relative, I believe, to the cut of the meat and the cooking process…its a dry cut of beef, it needs to be given a little breathing room as far as internal temp goes. So cook it to a medium/medium-rare and it will be perfect, moist and juicy every time) and allowed it to rest. When I finally cut into it, the meat was a perfect pink…not fleshy but not a sallow pink either.

I did not get to testing out my Krab appetizer. The couch was calling to me and I could no longer ignore it.

Of course, after a full nights sleep I am back up and ready to rock and roll. However, being Friday, I will not be doing much home cooking this weekend as I am a slave to the reality of a commercial kitchen and will be spending ample time getting my “Gordon Ramsey” on. So in preparation, I am eating a lovely bowl of ravioli topped in old hen sauce (thank you Micheal Chiarello for the outstanding recipe…), dotted with giant chunks of sausage, and slathered in mozzarella cheese. And a diet coke.

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