Blog of an aspiring foodie

Archive for November, 2005

Still failing after all these years . . .

Posted by beer_chris on 19-November-2005

Well, I tried to make mayonnaise the other night, and failed miserably. While perusing my usual set of sites during lunch, I happened across a permathread on eGullet that provided a recipe for homemade mayo. Intrigued as I usually am with making things at home that are usually storebought, I was instantly interested, and decided that since I had some leftover roast chicken I would make a tasty chicken salad out of it. Since I roast my chicken with rosemary, I thought a rosemary infused mayo would be awesome tasting.

At the end of the workday I called Jaime and sent her to Panera to get some fresh croissants, and I got going on my mayo as soon as I got home. Since the recipe has pictures and everything, I really couldn't imagine how I could go wrong.

First step was to whip an egg yolk. I pulled out the trusty KitchenAid and got it spinning. One egg yolk really doesn't whip so well in a standing mixer – the wire whisk attachment didn't do much but spray yolk onto the sides of the bowl. However, I left it to its own, hoping that with enough time I would reach the creamy consistency in the picture on the web. I got to the business of chopping my rosemary.

The leftover fresh rosemary from my roasting was only 2 days old, but it was black and slimy. I tried to fall back to a 3 year old jar of dried – not so good. Using dried rosemary is a bit like dealing with pine needles: dry, spiny and tastes like straw. Scratch the rosemary mayo. I switched to my herb of choice these days – thyme, and I had some (usable) fresh in the fridge. I picked all of what I had (making about 2 tbsp) and it was back to the mixer (now about 10 minutes in).

No creamy – just really well splashed yolk. Even though I wasn't feeling all that confident, I went ahead and added my oil and tried to make it work – thinking that by filling up the workbowl I would get better contact with the whisk and make some quick progress.

More whipping, no creamy. I eventually gave up, and decided to try again manually – thinking this had something to do with my whole huge mixer/one yolk inequation. My fresh thyme was gone, so I settled on the last bit of my dried. However, this time I held it out – just in case I needed to backout once more and mix the thyme in with my EZ Squeeze mayo in the fridge.

Smart move, as it turned out. Manual was no better. Sore arm and oily lemony egg yolk all over my counter were the only result. I'd heard of problems with mayo curdling if you didn't mix well enough, but never a simple failed emulsion.

Complete and total failure. Although I experience fewer of these types of things these days, they still happen frequently enough to make me realize I know very little about cooking techniques. My cooking foundation is strong enough to hold up some reasonable meal prep and presentation skills, but still are lacking in some key fundamentals.

This failure followed closely on my pumpkin cheesecake – which while tasty and certainly edible, was sodden wet because I didn't wrap it tightly enough in foil before submersing it in a water bath in the oven. This after drying the canned pumpkin to keep so much moisture from getting into the batter. Hilarious.

In any event, I've since looked at a number of other recipes for mayo, and most call for whole eggs – that I get, since the protein rich white is much more easily whipped into a reasonably good medium for emulsion. Maybe I'll try again – but the chicken salad was really awesome, even with just regular mayo mixed with dried thyme.

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Iron Chef America rules

Posted by beer_chris on 17-November-2005

I love Iron Chef America. It doesn't preach at me like freakin' Boston Legal has been over the past few weeks. In any case, I really thought I wouldn't love the American version of the Japanese show. I'll never forget tuning in for the first time, late on a Friday night on Food Network, and seeing a young Morimoto-san taking on the brash American Bobby Flay, who *dared* to jump onto the cutting board to show his ultimate disrespect for the Japanese palate! So dramatic – with a large live audience cheering at every turn – it was just fantastic TV.

The American version can't quite capture all of that, but it gets darn close. I like it.

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Food poisoning sux

Posted by beer_chris on 5-November-2005

Well, I'm just now recovering from the worst single case of food poisoning I believe I've ever had in my life. Without diving into the gory details, my digestive tract was in such bad shape I lost an entire night's sleep, and ran a fever of 100-102 for about 36 hours.

Amazingly exhausting – I couldn't even walk from the bed to the kitchen without resting yesterday, and Tylenol barely scraped my fever until yesterday afternoon (about 24 hrs in). I've been in dire straits before, but this was the first time I think the cause was something I cooked vs. restaurant food – some 3 day old leftover pasta – something I've eaten many, many times before.

I was starting to fear that perhaps I had stomach flu – but things are remarkably better today, I'm up and about finally, although my abdominals and lower back are insanely sore from the combo of laying in bed for a full day and the stress put on them related to what happens when you have food poisoning.

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