Tag Archives: humor

Repost: Put A Egg On It’s Cake Project

27 Jan
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Photo by Sarah Frances Keough

In the middle of this nasty New York winter storm, I’m reading like Hermione Granger and missing the warmth of the South more than ever. I’m particularly pining for my trip to New Orleans with Put a Egg On It, which taught me more about cocktail making and my own passion for food than any old stack of books. Read up on how people party in the Crescent City.

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TBT: The Galloping Gourmet

8 May

With this past weekend’s James Beard awards honoring some spectacular chefs and food journalists, I’ve built up quite the appetite for media as well as a stellar list of places I have got to try.

I’ve been watching a lot of the programming that won in the JBF broadcasting category, including Mind of a Chef and Thirsty For…, an internationally bent drinks video series. Thirsty For…also comes from the producers of Perennial Plate, this year’s winner for Video Webcast On Location and one of my favorite web series.

With these highly produced and slick videos, food broadcasting seems like a world of difference from the way it used to look. I can’t imagine what growing up in a world without Food Network would be like, where Julia Child and Jacques Pépin were broadcast media’s only big culinary faces. Can you imagine them on TV now? Julia Child (6′ 2″) would tower over Alton Brown!

Take this video from Graham Kerr, “The Galloping Gourmet.”

I love it. He’s so unhinged, flustered, and absolutely hilarious. But with this recklessness, he’d flop on Chopped. I love the cutthroat pacing and experimental approach on Chopped. I get hungry for ideas with that program; Kerr makes my belly shake with laughter. It’d be great to see a guy like him on Food Network in something wild and absurd (imagine: Monty Python at Kitchen Stadium).

Here’s another old-school Graham Kerr video, where he makes jambalaya, a New Orleans dish he claims means “a lying elephant.” Things really have changed.

TBT: Lemon Tree Chicken

20 Mar

lemon logoThis week’s TBT post is a recipe from my mom. I was starting out cooking on my own in college, and this delightful, springy, and super-simple chicken recipe was in the stack of recipes she gave me. I made this one night with my friend Olivia, with lemon ricotta fritters for dessert. Ricotta can often be bland, but frying and serving it with blackberry jam (also courtesy of Margaret Werner), is the way to go. At the time, I had no idea how to deep-fry food. We dumped a stupid amount of olive oil into a stock pot, turned up the heat, and waited. And waited. There was no chance we’d stick our fingers in hot oil to check for temperature, so we waited some more. The shimmering surface was a good visual cue, so I plopped in the first lump of ricotta, which practically turned to ash before my eyes. The fritter would have felt at home in the last days of Sodom. Or Pompeii. Smoke started rising and the fritters bounced and fought their way through the hot oil. The sputtering drops shooting out of the stock pot made the volcano comparison complete. Olivia’s face became the color of the cream sauce. This was it. Our friends in Atlanta seeing Usher would not be able to call us from the concert. We were going up in flames.

Olivia threw open her windows, I cleaned the counter, and we tried the fritters again. While I haven’t gone back to make the fritters, the chicken’s a recipe for repeating. While my mom might be displeased at my frying attempts (now I know olive oil has a smoking point of 405°F and is one of the least stable oils to use for frying), she’d be proud of the lemon tree chicken.

4 whole chicken breasts, diced into small chunks
1/8 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
1/4 cups flour
1 tsp lemon zest
1 1/2 Tbsps lemon juice
2 Tbsps dry white wine
1/2 cup cream
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

Preheat broiler. In a large plastic bag, put salt, pepper, and flour. Add chicken and distribute flour on all sides.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet and brown the chicken. Remove from pan.

Add lemon zest, juice, and wine to skillet and bring to a boil. Return chicken to pan.

Cover this mixture, turn heat to low, and simmer 5 minutes. Add cream into wine mixture and cook until bubbly, about 1 minute.

Arrange chicken in a 9×13 pan and sprinkle with Swiss cheese. Broil pan until cheese begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Top with additional lemon zest and chopped parsley. Serve.

Throwback tune:

Graphic by Tommy Werner

Napoleon’s Winter

18 Mar

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Jacques-Louis David [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Spring should be a new direction. Or with the longer days and blossoms on the news, maybe I just think everything is dramatically starting over. My first spring here in New York still feels like winter (and will stay like that until Easter, I’m told), but it’s got all of the personal ups and downs I associate with spring, such as new jobs and ways of thinking. Two weeks ago, I moved a little ways uptown with a close friend from work.  The move wasn’t even ten blocks, but the trek uphill to our apartment felt like a journey, especially as my boxes were falling apart in my hands. I’ve also got to find a new laundromat.

I’ve got the one anchor that’s been with me since I landed here in the City: life in a restaurant. I started off wiping up high chairs and bearing the brunt of a cranky porter who wanted nothing more than to push my buttons. I’m now being shown how to complete inventory and order every wine on the list, the visual and gastronomic differences between Rosette de Lyon and Bayonne, and how to charge through the crowd between kitchen and guest with dropping a drop.

Moving is exciting but has a bit of regret involved. You’ve got to deal with leaving part of you behind, and advancing full-speed into whatever’s next, just like charging into the restaurant armed with a tomato soup. Luckily, I have friends to support me; together, we’re crafting the coolest crib in the city. But like any new move, it’s got challenges. The post-war-era pipes rattle like they’ve got to wake up the world, a cacophony of chitty-chitty-bang-bang clanking and clattering. And we discovered a mouse in the kitchen. At first, we yanked our feet off of the floor, darted our eyes to every corner and crevice, and felt the paranoia of a home invasion. Then, we named him Napoleon.

Ratatouille has always been one of my favorite movies. I like seeing the ambitious rise of wunderkind Paul Liebrandt in A Matter of Taste, or listening to Kenny Shopsin use sexual metaphors to describe his scrambled eggs in I Like Killing Flies, but I love cartoons, and Pixar ones have always been the best. The first movie I saw in theaters was Toy Story. Pixar’s is never stronger than in the Francophilic Ratatouille. I loved it for the story, the jokes, and of course, the food. The confit biyaldi that topples the big, bad critic made me want to learn French cooking. It’s also the movie that properly introduced me to Thomas Keller, who served as a culinary consultant for the project.

Rewatching it, I get a new sense of appreciation by relating with the movie. Linguini is an outsider, an American in Paris. He works from the very bottom in one of Paris’s top kitchens, sweeping up the floor and cleaning messes, with only a vague interest in what goes in. When given responsibility of cooking, he swings around like a carnival ride and jerks his arms choppily. I stride along and stop suddenly when running food to tables. I often miscount and drop a soufflé to the next table, who think it’s a gift from the kitchen. All the same, I feel like I’m absorbing the restaurant world in a great way, just like Linguini. Having a mouse in the apartment just completes the picture.

Napoleon was the first name that came to our minds, but given this polar vortex whirlwind winter, it seems appropriate. The short French dictator emerged from his Russian winter scarred and humiliated, but stronger. I hope to do the same, with or without a mouse guiding my cooking.

Ida Frosk, Maker of Artsy Food or Foodie Art

13 Mar
Sourced from needsupply.com

Sourced from needsupply.com

This post is just a quick share, but this might be one of the best justifications for playing with and photographing your food. Meet one Ida Frosk. She holds a desk job by day, but by any other time, she’s creating vegetarian and photogenic plates. Frosk is a citizen journalist with a killer Instagram account, making her a citizen foodie. Though we might complain about Instagramming brunch, the format makes this food look pretty. Very pretty. Follow the link for more images, including some reproductions of Van Gogh.

“What’s A Cellar Door Without Gravy?”

11 Mar

This makes me want to invent a dish and use all of the goofiest short-order slang. Check out an inspired creation after the break.

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Andy, The King of Pops

27 Sep

Organic! Naturally made! Frozen over! Jalapeños on a stick!

The rainbow colored umbrella and chalkboard (note: chalk=seasonal) menu are the best signs of what to expect from the frozen forays of Andy McCarthy, the King of Pops. Representing the Southern chain, McCarthy is the grand master of gourmet Popsicles in the Charleston area.

Originally, the King was an Atlantan food and beverage guy by day. He fiddled in bartending, traveling, and networking, never considering the frozen future all the while. When the economy stalled and froze, his roommate Steve Carse from AIG lost his job.

What to do when opportunity sludges along? Make your own.

Image created by Justin Brewer

The beleaguered roommates actually cooked up a plan to start their own Popsicle business, in one of those “wouldn’t-it-be-cool-if” ways. Fellow roommate Nick LaSieve left his law firm to follow along. With McCarthy’s prior food quests and LaSieve’s business knowledge, the team had all the powers to enterprise. Ever since, they have conquered the South with their brand of gourmet popsicles with a domain from Folly Beach to Asheville.

“There’s all these people around looking for something like this,” McCarthy said.

Rolling with a zap on the corner of Calhoun and St. Philip streets, skirting the back of the Charleston Farmers Market, combing the beach at Folly: the King of Pops cools down and confuses taste buds wherever he decides to prop up his “Handmade Pops” sign.

He’s got a daily route of the peninsula with classic stops and pops, but his umbrella covers enough weirdo wacko concoctions to make you question what a Popsicle is.

“You grew up and ate them as a kid,” McCarthy said, “It’s good with the twenty-year olds because you remember.”

A pop fit for a king isn’t a plastic bag full of high fructose corn syrup and mystery elixir. It’s not a tri-colored Rocket pop. It’s not even one of those push-up sorbet snacks. A “home-grown” pop from the King has the honesty of local peaches but the whimsical appearance of a children’s story. The flavors’ inspiration, taking off from Central American paletas, makes for a neon-colored treat charged with equally outrageous flavors.

The mojito has the zing of mint sprigs and the pucker of lime juice; the blackberry ginger lemonade has the zest of a summer drink, the bite of real ginger, and the color of the Hulk’s underwear. Orange basil sounds like a rancid ravioli sauce, but with real basil leaves and citrus juice the potion has been a hit.

“Part of it is getting the combination. It’s trial and error,” McCarthy said.

And the flavors don’t end there.

Some of the King’s flavors like chocolate sea salt have become signature “secret weapons” he never erases. Like any mad scientist, though, he’s had his share of laboratory duds (he cringes at carrot ginger and beer trials).

Extremities aside, the King’s only complaint came from a young girl who wasn’t hot about hibiscus habañero.

“She didn’t believe it was spicy,” McCarthy said, who resorts to goggles and gloves when pairing the incendiary with mangoes and margaritas.

McCarthy’s ambitions are bent on opening a kitchen along with Johnny Battles, founder of SweeTeeth chocolate. Both are about tweaking and tricking the “sweet” taste bud, and they could be dangerous together.

Until that time, find his wow-inspiring and icy-fiery pops on the corner or in a cart. Ask him to moonwalk on Tuesdays, and the King won’t be cooling down.