Sunday, August 10, 2008

White Trash Wedding Canapes

This is a recipe I invented while I was at culinary school.  If yer some kind of resaurant owner/cookbook author, don't jack it.  Feel free to make it and give it to people but I better not catch you trying to make any money off of it.  Knowlege is free!  

Be safe, have fun, eat well:


Go buy:

1lb (cooked) orzo pasta
2 cups heavy cream
various cheeses (see the section on "Béchamel/Mornay")
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups plain breadcrumbs
enough vegetable oil to load up a deep-fryer, or at least fill up a skillet enough to submerge a 3/4"-thick chunk of mac-and-cheese
2 skinless/boneless breasts of chicken
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
3 cups barbeque sauce, thickened with 1/2 cup sour cream, and then whipped 'til stiff
1 six-pack of Mickey’s Fine Malt Liquor 

I suggest spreading this recipe out over two afternoons, because the pasta needs to sit in a fridge for at least 4 hours before you try to deep-fry it. If you wake up early enough, you could probably get MORNING/AFTERNOON 1 out of the way before lunch, and then just plan to work hard for the hour that precedes the party where you're going to blow the minds of everyone you've ever met.

First of all: we're going to call this Mac-And-Cheese in spite of the fact that it actually uses Orzo. The reason we do this is because people know what Mac-and-Cheese is, and many of these same people think Orzo is rice.

Decide you've got the balls for this recipe. This should take around 30 minutes, and I’ve found that a couple Mickeys makes this step much easier. Go ahead and crack a hand grenade, then make the BBQ sauce described at this website:
It’s delicious. It’ll make quite a lot, but it lasts forever, and it’ll give you a great reason to have BBQ for a few weeks. Now put it in the fridge till your ready for:


Break out a Mickeys.

You need to make about 4 cups of Béchamel sauce, which I'm not going to go into here. If you don't know how to do this, use the 'tronic, or any cookbook printed after the 17th century. Seriously, it's one of the mother sauces. You can do it. Now, make a mornay sauce. Don’t freak out, mornay is just Béchamel with cheese. I like to use a mild cheddar as the main cheese in the sauce, but I also add 1 salty hard cheese (parm, pecorino, asiago, it's your call) and 2 creamy cheeses (one is just a dash for flavor (gorgonzola, or some other blue), the other is for consistency/texture (fontina, a mild brie, even havarti, DO NOT use mozzarella, seriously)(also, don't use dill havarti)(it's just entirely the wrong flavor profile, people just think they gotta use it on everything)(farmers)). MORNAY PRO TIP: DON'T ADD THE HARD CHEESE UNTIL THE VERY END, AFTER YOU'VE TAKEN THE SAUCE OFF THE HEAT. "FINISH" THE MORNAY WITH YOUR HARD CHEESE.

You'll also need to prepare a pound of cooked Orzo. Do that now, or if you're some kind of Béchamel/Mornay wizard, prep it while you're working up the sauce.

As soon as the sauce is ready, mix it with the Orzo in a large bowl. You'll probably have more sauce than you need to get to the flavor that you're going for, so don't be afraid to leave some in the saucepan.

Now, cover the surface of the largest sheetpan that will fit inside your fridge with parchment paper. This is going to make it possible to remove the mac-and-cheese from your sheetpan after it sets up. Lay your "mac"-and-cheese mixture out on the sheetpan to a thickness of about 3/4 of an inch. You can use one of those little spatula kinda things to flatten it out, like with rice krispie treats. You want it to be a uniform thickness. Put it in the fridge for 4 hours, or overnight if you're serious about guaranteeing success.

Go snag a Mickeys and watch some Venture Bros.

Marinate 2 breasts of chicken in teriyaki sauce, or whatever you think is going to be delicious on a bed of deep-fried mac-and-cheese (hint: you can't really screw this part up). Throw it in the fridge. Get hyped, crack a Mickeys. 


Bust out your chicken breasts, and while yer in the fridge, grab a hand grenade. Sear them in a lightly oiled pan at smoking-pan heat. They need to make a lot of noise when they go in, or it's not hot enough. 15 seconds on a side. Then pass them into a glass baking dish (or whatever) and put them in an oven at 350 degrees for 20 min or so, and keep checking on them until they're cooked.  They should feel roughly like the meat of your palm when you touch your thumb to your ring finger. Seriously. During those first 20 minutes, tho, you need to be doing THIS:

Bust out your sheetpan of solidified "mac"-and-cheese. AS SOON AS THESE LEAVE THE FRIDGE, THE STICKINESS CLOCK IS TICKING. Use your bench scraper or a crap knife to cut the mass up into 1.5"x1.5" squares while it's still in the pan.

A word about breading for deep-frying: You have two hands. One is wet, the other is dry. Wet hand will only be dealing with the egg, while dry hand will only be dealing with the flour and the breadcrumbs. This is going to make your life so easy. And your wet hand will look hilarious.

Set up 3 bowls, in the following order: flour (all-purpose), egg (4, beaten), breadcrumbs (plain). Now, use your dry hand to drop a "mac"-and-cheese square into the flour and work it around until it's coated. Then drop it into the egg, where your WET hand will pick it up and drop it into the breadcrumbs. Use your DRY hand to agitate the breadcrumb bowl and get a good coat on the square. If you do it right, you should be able to use your dry hand to pull it out of the breadcrumbs and pass it over to the ready-to-fry plate. Don't feel bad if you accidentally use your wet hand though, keeping yer wet hand wet and yer dry hand dry is a lot harder than it sounds.

Repeat this process for all your squares. Then deep-fry them in vegetable oil at 450 degrees until they look fucking delicious (n00bs refer to this look as "golden brown"), for as many batches as it takes! Move the fried squares to a drying rack.

At this point, our canapé base is done. Now we can work on the body. And the garnish. OH, YOU'RE GETTING SLEEPY? FORGOT TO READ THE WHOLE RECIPE BEFORE YOU STARTED OUT? YOU SEE WHAT HAPPENS?

Chicken should done and out of the oven by now. Note: by this point, you're 10 minutes from service AT THE MOST, more like 5, and you need to be busting ass to get the rest of this stuff done. What you're going to do, is slice that chicken into fans. Whatever dude, FIGURE IT OUT.

Just kidding. Kidding about figuring it out, at least; I'ma tell you how to do that shit. But we're still cutting that chicken into fans. Lay it down on your cutting board so that the length is pointing away from you. Slice it lengthwise into 1/4" strips with the sharpest knife you have. The strips should now be significantly more thick than they are wide. Lay them down on the thick side. You're going to be cutting each strip into 3 or 4 fans. The cut looks like a swooping diagonal parabola from one side of the strip to the other. Because of the grain of the chicken, it's going to let you pry the fibers apart along the cut line, and it'll come out looking all spiny. It's really cool. Good luck with that. YOU'VE COME SO FAR, YOU CAN DO THIS!

Pipe some little florets of your BBQ sauce mixture onto the squares. You want the sauce to be pretty stiff, because you're going to be propping up your little chicken fans in it. So, do that to all your squares. And then sprinkle some chopped parsley on top!


And the best part?  You still got a Mickeys in the fridge.  Go celebrate.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Guest Writer: Keef

One Hell of a Way to Wake Up

Everything hurts. And I'm blind. No, it's just dark. Where the fuck am I? Oh god, I'm in a fucking coffin. No, please, I'm alive, for the love of god, I'm alive. Why can't I talk, what the fuck is going on? Calm down, take stock. I'm naked, I'm in a coffin, and I can't move, I can't even fucking... there's something in my mouth. Some kind of tube... Take it out. Oh jesus it hurts to move. Ok, small movements, just your hand. Make a fist. Make a fucking fist. Good, now release. This is gonna be a while...

It must have taken me a day to get that goddamn tube out of my mouth. God only knows how long to get the lid off. It was locked, see, and I had forgotten where the emergency release was. Among other things. They told me there would be memory loss. “Maybe some temporary fuzziness, nothing to worry about.” What a crock. Shitty place to put an emergency release, too. Behind my head, where I'd never look for it. I guess they thought it would ever be used anyway. They were supposed to be there when I woke up, you see. They were supposed to be alive.  

My memories all come back eventually. “Temporary fuzziness” probably isn't how I would describe my state of mind when I came to, but whatever. It took some visuals, but it came back in a hurry. As soon as I pulled myself out of the tube, saw the lab I was in. Felt like grinding sand in your teeth. Suddenly I remembered how I got there. Remembered the ad in the paper. They wanted test subjects. No job, no family, fifteen thousand dollars cash upon completion. Remembered the building. Big fuck-off grey building with no sign, just the address in black letters above the door. Went in with everything I owned in a paper bag. Easiest thing in the world, they said. You go to sleep, 5 years later you wake up with fifteen grand in your front pocket. Sounded good to me.

So I went to sleep. And I woke up. And time, it seemed, had not been kind. I looked around the lab, trying to will my eyes to remember how to focus. I leaned my body over and poured myself out of the tube. Hit the tile, and learned the definition of cold. Saw a lab coat on the floor in the middle of the room, and started dragging myself towards it. Took everything I had and more just to get across the room, and once I got there, I didn’t even bother with the coat. Just laid there on my stomach and listened to my heart pound out a drum roll. Finally, I mustered up the juice to get at the coat, but I realized there was still something in it. The body of a scientist, so old and dry it had gone beyond smelling. I puked, some kind of blue-grey liquid, and passed out.

Woke up to the sound of footsteps from out in the hallway. Not steady, but shuffling, like a nursing home inmate. I tried to call out to him, anything to get his attention, but I guess my pipes were still a little rusty. The only sound I could make was a long papery moan, like ghosts on TV. Started to drag myself across the room toward the door, and making better time than before. Practice I guess. Got to the door, moaning all the way, but realized it was closed, and I was gonna have a hell of a time opening it in my condition. Flopped over onto my back, and closed my eyes. What the hell. I needed a breather anyway. It wasn't until right then, as that thought was passing through my “temporarily fuzzy” mind, that it occurred to me that I wasn't moaning anymore. But for some reason, I could still hear it ringing through the halls. Getting louder.

The window in the door above me exploded and I saw the upper torso of a man, sixtyish, overweight, with what was left of a white beard on the right side of his face and a hole where the left side should have been. Like some kind of fucked up santa claus. And call it instinct, I could tell he didn’t want to help me. While he was flailing, he must have jimmied the door handle, because the door flew open into my head, gave my ear a pretty good ding. Well, I wasn't feeling very fuzzy anymore, and fear has a way of taking hold of a guys body and getting done what needs doing. I pushed back with my hands as hard as I could, hard enough to put father christmas off balance. I turned myself around so I had my feet to the door, and waited for him to come back. He did; I waited until his head was in position, and kicked as hard as I could, catching him squarely in the head with the edge of the door. That put him on his ass. I could hardly breathe, but when I saw his head coming around the side of the door by my leg... Maybe it was adrenaline, maybe it was the hand of god, but however you want to explain it, I found the strength, and I found it fast. I started slamming the door against his head with my feet, and didn’t stop till the knob went click.

Part 2 coming soon...

Monday, July 7, 2008

Live Not in Fear.

Once, long ago, a wise man and a foolish man lived next to each other in houses they had built themselves.  They both had many fears: of nature, of illness, of each other.  The wise man feared all these things, yet he took no measures to protect himself.  He feared lightning, yet would venture out into the darkest and most cataclysmic of electrical storms, laughing in the face of possible death.  He feared sexually transmitted disease, yet he made love to many women, and made many babies, saying boldly: "Live not in fear!  Seize the day!"  He feared his fellow man, yet threw open his doors at night, calling out "I fear you not, what bandits and highwaymen abound!  "  

The foolish man saw the wise man do all these things, and while he longed to throw caution to the wind, to fear not life and live richly in a dangerous world, he simply could not.  He feared lightning, and while the wise man was out dancing in the rain with his many wives and babies under his great copper umbrella, the foolish man stayed inside by the fire.  He feared sexually transmitted disease, and while the wise man was out at the bars, drinking and carousing, the foolish man stayed home with his wife and practiced safe sex, planing his family and siring only one child, when he and his wife were ready.  He feared his fellow man, but while the wise man slept soundly in an empty home, the foolish man locked all his doors and windows, seeking comfort in the arms of his wife.

And so it was that after many years, the wise man and the foolish man had both reached the end of their days.  The wise man said to the foolish man: "I lived not in fear, I seized the day!  My life was rich, exciting, and full of adventure!  What of your life, you foolish man?  What adventures did you embark on, what excitement saw YOU in all your days?"  The foolish man, being a fool, could not respond.  To his exceedingly foolish mind, it was HE who had the better life.  He thought: "Perhaps I had no adventures, but at least my wife and child did not die in a freak lightning accident.  And at least I am old, but still healthy, and not ridden with filth and disease.  And at least I still have a home to live in, and food to eat, it having not been stolen from my unlocked house."  The wise man and the foolish man died, and the foolish man's child went on to live a foolish life, as his father did, having only one wife, and one child, and dying a comfortable, boring old man.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Cigarettes are punctuation for life.

Cigarettes are a tricky matter.  We're brought up to believe that A) cigarettes are filthy, smelly things that pathetic, pretentious people smoke to harm you, your friends, and your loved ones, and B) if YOU smoke cigarettes, you are a pathetic, pretentious person with a filthy, smelly habit who delights in causing harm to yourself, your friends, and your loved ones.  As children, our parents and teachers tell us all about the dangers of smoking cigarettes, and about their destructive effect on your lungs, blood pressure, and libido.  Our heads are filled with Lovecraftian images of cancer, heart disease, and erectile dysfunction.  Painted for us is a grim portrait of the cigarette smoker as a smirking, yellow-eyed murderer, wreathed in blackened lungs and flaccid penises, his unflinching gaze set mercilessly upon you and everything you treasure in life.  

And they are not entirely wrong.

But in the opinion of this generally biased and wholly insensitive pundit, cigarettes are a unique and positive social phenomenon, unworthy of their sinister image, their innocent visage sullied by hateful, prejudiced people unable to see past social branding and indoctrinated stereotypes.  Think, if you will, of cigarettes as social punctuation.  I understand that this will be a difficult concept for many of you to grasp, so I've taken the time to describe a few situations that illustrate my point, enumerated below.

1) As a period:  The night went flawlessly.  You picked the perfect restaurant, a silky blend of classy ambiance with rustic old-world charm.  You took the liberty of ordering for her, a bold strategy, but it worked out perfectly because you studied the menu and wine list carefully and have been casually learning her tastes for the past few weeks at social gatherings through subtly guided conversation.  You trusted your instincts, and she invited you up to her apartment for coffee when you took her home.  You learned that you were sexually compatible, and you learned it several times.  As you roll over onto your back, clothed only in smug satisfaction, you can imagine only one luxury left unsampled, a delicious finishing touch to a perfect evening of fine dining and soul-rendering sex:  A celebratory cigarette.

2) As an ellipsis: You stand by a long table, strewn with red dixie cups, assorted handles of hard liquor and two-liter bottles of generic cola.  She came in with some girlfriends, and through a mutual acquaintance you learned that she was not only single, but on, as they say, the prowl.  You convinced a friend to tell her about your more charming traits, and now all you need to do is walk up to her and introduce yourself without coming off as a slobbering cretin wanting nothing more than to slime your way into her pre-beaten ironed-on designer jeans.  You make your approach, stick out your hand, and everything seems to be going well.  But suddenly, disaster strikes.  Your tongue seems to swell inside your mouth, your knees turn to jelly and your brain to EZ-Cheeze.  You mumble something about your name, forget to remember hers, perspiration pours off your face into her malibu and coke.  You're feeling outclassed, outsmarted, and out of time to make a good impression.  Your feeble attempt at a joke doesn't even get a courtesy laugh, and soon, you're standing alone in the middle of a crowded room, dejected and humiliated...  Go have a lonely cigarette, you'll feel better.  Who drinks malibu and coke anyway?

3) As a question mark:  You sit alone in your study, pouring over your books, charts, and schematics.  You've been working for hours, yet the question remains, with no suitable answer in sight.  You're certain that if you could only relax, clear your mind and focus, you could somehow make sense of it all.  You need a smoke break.

As you can see, the much-maligned cigarette is not what it has been made out to be by popular media and the medical community.  It may give you cancer and heart disease and whatever other buzzwords the narrow-minded majority have chosen to burden it with this week, but it's social benefits are many.  You may find the smell and taste unpleasant at first, but I can assure you that with a small amount of perseverance, you can learn to get past all that and move straight on to an exciting new world of social interaction.  Good luck, and happy smoking!