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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Limelight, trying to rhyme tight

The eyes are upon you. They sit and stare with the occasional utterance of a question, and most of the time they just watch. Some will stare. Others could give two shits. “Don’t these people understand what we endure to bring them a plate of food?” I question. We suffer for their pleasure. We trade sacrifices for sustenance. Cooking for a person is one of the most selfless and humbling gestures. We put everything on the line for less than slave wages to ensure a great dining experience. I take heed in this thought process for it breeds resentment, but cannot help at times feeling like exploding into a ball of flames as if I was just used to deglaze a hot skillet. In the heat of battle there really is no escape. I feel as if I’m a caged animal, being helplessly pointed and gawked at. “Ignore them, stay in your zone” I say.

I know that line cooking is just one facet of part of becoming a chef, and that in order to be a great chef one must also know how to truly interact with customers. For now, this has been one of my greatest struggles. I am slowly learning how to manage myself better with the face to face interactions. I appreciate every customer who comes and eats our food. If it were not for them we would not have no jobs, no audience, and no canvas. Becoming a chef is about being in the spotlight, and until that light is center stage, the only thing there will be the eyes.

Mexican Slang of the Moment:
“la neta” translated “the truth” or “freal” or “word”
Me: “Did your cousin really have sex with a donkey in the fields?”
Mexican: “Neta!”

Some Red Wine/Sexy Sunset/Blood'cates/Beautiful Burger/Beet Salad/Creepy Message in Mayo/"Chees"/Roast Beef Location/

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wednesday Test Kitchen

What is Wednesday Test Kitchen? Is it progressive madscience? Regressive sanity? Is it more gels, spirals and foams? Who takes part and where? It sounds private, exclusive, even forbidden. It sounds like a geeky invite-only Magic party. The Truth is Wednesday test kitchen is just a time when we can cook for ourselvs. There is no grab-ass, no tickets, no allergies, and nothing on the fly. We try new recipes and ideas, discuss everything from technique to the biz and more often than not there's an abundance of good booze, better ingredients and awesome grass which ulimatly makes for a great meal. It's OUR time.

To Drink: Knob Creek Bourban/Bitch Creek ESB
To Eat: Chinese Black Skin Chicken/Okinawa Purple Yam Dumpling/ Wolfberry/ Bok Choy/ Poured Aromatic Broth

Mexican Slang of the Week
"Te Lo Lavas!" Literally translates to "You wash it!"
Youth slang referring to the "washing of ones' genitalia"
generally speaking; meaning "stay frosty"

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Back to the Basics

Oxtails/Good Sear/ Birch Beer

Onions and Garlic/Cueritos

Blood Sausage/Finished Braise/Cheese Whiz

"Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food."


OK so it's finally after the holiday season and everyone is back to the same old grind. I'ts a stressfull time for us all, but especially tough on the Industry folk- the family get-togethers, buissness parties, restaurant promotions, etc etc. Thanks to an old floor needing some revamping at the restaurant we all scored a few days off. Much needed time to heal wounds, rest and regroup and of course time to get back to the basics... home cooking. Between working two jobs and a crazy schedule I haven't had much time to cook at home. I was glad to catch a few days/ nights off. Had some good time to sleep, eat, sleep some more and even get in a few nice rides on the ol pedal pusher. Monday night I had a grip of Mussles and Clams and invited a few friends over. I intended to make a nice white wine tomoato broth with citrus , herbs, butter and the like but once again the bloody electric stove bent me over and sonic- reduced my liquid leaving a nice 10w-40 looking sauce and a nice aroma of burnt hair, and a bitterness that left us all looking like the keystone light guy.

The next night I needed to redeem myself. I couldn't go out like that. I felt defeated and needed la revancha. So I decided to cook my Birch braised short rib recipe, and instead of short ribs, I settled for some nice oxtails. I grabbed some nice sour oranges off a tree by work, bought cinnamin stick, mexican basil, onion, garlic and a bottle of Pennsylvania Dutch root beer. This stuff is the best. Although its made in Pennsauken NJ, and which isn't exactly Amish country, this stuff is the king of root beer. More of a birch flavor ( as the name suggests) it is much more an herbacious flavor than regular root beer with a nice red hue. If you dont reside in the Delaware Valley, you can't get it and the closest comparison would be IBC root beer. Dont even think of using MUG. Anywhoo I started out searing the oxtail first dusted with cornstarch, salt, pepper, and paprika, which gives a nice hungarian style aroma. Next I removed the seared meat, reserving any juices as well. Wiped the skillet clean sauteed onion and garlic with a little butter. Once they were good and translucent I added mexican basil, orange zest, re-seasoning with salt and pepper, and sauteed a few more minutes. Next put the meat back in, add birch beer, juice of one orange and left over peels, cinnamin sticks, beefstock, more herbs, reserved juices, cover and set in oven to BRAISE. 3 hours @ 350F. Make sure if your cooking this to check every so often if you braising liquid gets low, and if it does add more stock. Added to the dinner was some nice BLOOD SAUSAGE, some corn and egg noodles. Also I had a chingadera of cueritos. These are cooked pork skin in a light vinger brine with jalapeno and carrot. They have a wierd texture and are not nearly as flavorful as the one you might get in taco form, but between the blood sausage and the cueritos, I had a satisfying fix of pork appetizer. The braise came out nice, with a nice savory flavor from the birch beer and cinnamin. The meat was fall off the bone tender with a wonderful gelantounus flavor. I think I could have used less soda and a little more beef stock. Any more cinnamin would have been overpowering and I think next time I will use a half a stick and maybe add some bay leaf.

Mexican Slang of the Week

"chingadera/o"- "fucker"

Is used to call an object of unknown or forgotten/incorrect name. Can be used for people as well. The root verb being Chingar, literally "to fuck". Has a myriad of applications just as the English counterpart applies.