rocket vinaigrette

This one’s pretty straightforward.  I made this for me Ma off the top of my head, but was not 100% pleased with it.  So when she asked me for the recipe I had to play with it for a few months to get it where I wanted.  Sometimes the simplest of recipes are the hardest to muck with.

The term ‘rocket’ is an inside joke known only to me, and seven other members of an obscure cult funded by a Yugoslavian oil baron who moonlights as a vampire slayer.  But otherwise, it’s not meant to indicate this dressing is somehow special.  It’s not, it’s just a simple salad dressing you can make in 43 seconds.

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Enjoy the journey, bask in the exquisite plate presentation generated by a drunk-jaded-elf, observe only the finest and most complex ingredients, bask in the stupidity of food posts and garbage-level-food-photography provided by the most degenerate of blog authors.  You’ll not regret it!

My last go I used this dressing over a salad with bacon, hard-boiled eggs, peaches, blue cheese, sliced apple, and tomatoes.  I like this salad combo, credit where credit is due, it’s based off an old Emeril recipe that for some reason is now gone from the Food Network website, my printed copy says it’s called “mixed green salad with diced avocado, peaches, crispy bacon, feta cheese, and champagne vinaigrette”.

Let’s begin!

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rocket vinaigrette

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette

1 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp mustard

salt & pepper

dash hot sauce

Pour all the ingredients into an airtight container, seal, and shake vigorously.  Spoon over the tasty salad of your choice.

Store in the fridge for up to one week.  Shake again prior to serving.

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I enjoy how it all looks before shaking, it’s science, chemistry, and pretty colors all rolled into one.

Use whatever version of oil, balsamic, honey, mustard, and hot sauce you prefer.  If you want a sharper taste, double the volume of balsamic, mustard, and hot sauce, though this might be too much for most folks.

I used standard Tabasco in this version, but in other more insane versions I’ve used hot sauces that melt metal and it adds a wonderful adventure to your salad journey.  Salad is more exciting when the dressing tingles your lips with burning.

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Enjoy life!

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stupid work potato salad

We had to pick a dish to bring for the work potluck.  I chose potato salad, because it was easier than telling work I don’t like them and refusing to play.  So we decided to spice things up and make a potato salad that nobody on the planet had ever had before.

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stupid work potato salad

8 strips bacon, diced

1 yellow onion, diced

1 Tbsp brown sugar

2 lbs mixed potatoes, cubed

1/8 cup white wine vinegar

6 garlic cloves, mined

1 lemon, juiced

salt & pepper

1 Tbsp paprika

1 Tbsp olive oil

4 eggs

2 Tbsp mustard

1 cup mayo

2 Tbsp sriracha

1/4 cup capers

1/2 cup parmesan

cook the bacon over medium-high heat in a saute pan until it’s nicely done, remove bacon and set aside; discard all but about 1 Tbsp of the bacon fat from the pan; add the onion and cook until browned, add the brown sugar, lower the heat, and slowly caramelize the onions

preheat the oven to 375 degrees; wash the cubed potatoes in a colander, add them to a bowl and toss with the vinegar, garlic, 1/2 of the lemon juice, salt & pepper, paprika, and olive oil; dump the potato mixture on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil and roast, stirring once, for about a half-hour until the potatoes are crispy but not overly brown

meanwhile, hard boil the eggs, cool them in the fridge, then peel and dice them

in a large bowl, add the potatoes, then add the mustard, mayo, sriracha, capers, remaining lemon juice, onion, bacon, eggs, and cheese, mix them all up until it’s a nice salad; serve immediately hot, or later on cold

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Let’s begin!

Cube the potatoes to a size you like and then wash them in a colander to get the starch off.  In a large mixing bowl douse the potatoes with the vinegar, garlic, juice of half the lemon, salt, pepper, paprika, and olive oil.

Cut the garlic to a size you like.  I minced it because you never know how much folks do or do not like garlic.  But, if I’d been cooking for myself I’d probably just leave the garlic cloves whole and roast them as is.

Make sure you mix up the bowl really well.  You want the paprika, vinegar, and olive oil to really coat all the potatoes.  After that, aluminum foil on a baking sheet and bake them.

Do not pre-grease the aluminum foil.  As you stir them yes, they may tend to stick to the foil so don’t make the mistake of not stirring them at all during the roasting.  You want the potatoes to be brown but not overly done, just slightly still firm.  It’s potato salad and not true fully roasted browned potatoes.

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You’ve got regular old bacon and hard boiled eggs which are staples of many potato salads.  I add caramelized onions because I love them and want to share that love with all humanity.

When you’re done making the bacon, eggs, onions, and potatoes, it’s time to mix it all together with the remaining ingredients.

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Use whatever mustard and mayo you prefer.  The sriracha is flexible with another hot sauce if you want.  Go with what you like.  But please put some kind of sauce in there because it’s money and not boring.

The capers add a nice extra touch for my taste.  If you don’t like capers, you can skip this part.

As with before, make sure you really get a good mix in the bowl so all the sauces coat the potatoes all over.

You can serve this immediately while it’s hot, or chill it and serve later cold.

Be advised, this will not really keep in the fridge for more than about two or three days.  After that time, the moisture starts to separate from the potato mixture and the salad becomes dry and tough.

This is easily tackled by reheating the mixture in the microwave for about a minute to loosen it up again.  But, generally speaking, I’d eat it all within two days for max tastiness.

Enjoy life!

cooking in a kitchen that’s not your own

Well, it’s been two months since my employer (dressed as an evil smiling clown) black bagged me in the middle of the night and sent me abroad.  And my precious, precious doggies are doing well with my host family, but I miss them.  I also miss my kitchen.  A lot.

This has ended up being a far bigger issue than I would have expected.  If you cook regularly, we all have our kitchens.  We know them.  It’s downright transparent.  You might make an alteration here and there, but it’s essentially static.  The dynamic factor is the food.

We also have what I guess you can call guest kitchens.  For example I cook at my Ma’s for me Ma all the time.  I know that kitchen like the back of my hand.  It means nothing for me to cook over there as if it was my own.

So I guess I just kind of assumed since work wasn’t sending me to the middle of Vlad’s Siberia wonderland or a tiger filled jungle that I’d have a real kitchen, figure it out, and it would be fine.  Right?  Nope.  But, why?

1) Bare Basics

Because I’m abroad for a limited time I didn’t get to bring my stuff.  Work has a local contract (which wouldn’t pass most Western anti-corruption standards) to provide me the very bare bones basics at my apartment.  This means I’ve got some plates, a few bowls, and six sad water glasses.  I’ve also got some D grade pots and pans manufactured in Yugoslavia Circa 1989.

You can forget the most benign of kitchen items are important to you, until they don’t exist.  Out here I have bowls, but they’re of a shallow nature, and hold only enough liquid for a six year old’s soup  I made curry and the broth was a rather light consistency.  Given the small bowl size I had hardly any food in there.

In frustration, I ended up using a pot as my eating bowl instead.  I’m there eating straight out of the pot and I look over and there’s this Viking ghost sitting next to me doing the same.  He hoists his drinking horn in a toast, I hoist my cheap ass local beer can made of cadmium.  Cheers my Viking brother, I’ve gone back in time.  It burns.  The spicy curry, not the cadmium, not yet anyways.

How about spices?  How about starting from zero, nothing.  At home I might have 50 spices of a variety that would make a 16th Century Portuguese smuggler angry and pull his cutlass.  Out here I had a bare cupboard.  I’ve methodically replenished jar by jar for weeks.

At first I didn’t get new measuring cups because I didn’t want to buy new ones.  I eyed everything.  Then I realized you really can’t write proper recipes without them.  So I had to go buy new measuring cups I didn’t want to purchase.

Remember grating cheese or vegetables?  This is a pretty standard task, right?  But what happens when you don’t have a grater?  You have to make a tactical decision on whether it’s important enough to buy a new grater.  Countless, countless decisions need to be made on how important things and tools are to you.

So you’re probably like, well, whatever man, just go buy all this stuff.  It’ll be fun, right?  But, …

2) Waste

I already have a grater, and spices, and bowls, and whatever back home.  So I’m going to buy new items to satisfy my kitchen needs out here, for what, one year and some change?  I had to buy a new colander because you essentially can’t cook without one.

But I’ve got like five or six different sized colander’s back home.  So this was an unnecessary purchase.  I felt really bad buying it even though I knew I absolutely needed it.  So what do I do with it after I’m done here?  Ship it home?  I need a seventh colander less than a mercenary elf assassin.

So I guess I’ll ship the new one home, and donate one of my older colanders to charity?  I guess?

It’s not that big a deal for these minor tools I suppose.  A colander or a peeler or a wooden spoon are small, relatively cheap, and just not that big of an impact to anything.  But, …

3) Gear

For the first few years of my cooking journey I didn’t really employ gear.  You need good knives, good pans, a large steel mixing bowl, etc.  For a long while I never used things like a food processor, blender, spice grinder, any of that.  But once I did, and learned how to use them well.  They became essential tools.

This is even truer for me because I like to cook and experiment with various cuisines from around the globe.  Now without this gear I feel my powers are reduced.  There’s less magic to be made.  Buying a new colander I don’t need is minor waste.  Buying a new food processor that costs north of three figures?  I haven’t done that.  I won’t do that.

And so in the meantime: I’m in a dark cave, behind me are a bunch of kidnapped urchin children I’m rescuing.  The cursed bear is up on his hind legs, roaring, foaming with delight, urchins are screaming in terror.  “I’ll deal with him,” I firmly state.  I reach for my sorcerer wand, and nothing is there.  Then the urchins are running and screaming as the bear rips me in half.  But, …

4) The Past

I don’t know how my Grandparents did it.  It’s weird to think about.  The number one thing I typically wonder is how they cooked all that delicious food with so little counter space.  The answer is I think they did a ton of prep actually at the kitchen table.  In those days the table was actually right in the kitchen.

My Grandmother had a double stack oven, the kind where you have two whole elements you could set to different temperatures.  So that capability was awesome, and actually in excess of what most kitchens have today.  But they didn’t have fancy tools like food processors or spice grinders.  They probably didn’t let a of lack spice jars bother them as much as it does me.

So it’s tough to know how much of my current kitchen is real legitimate frustration on my part, and how much of it is I’m an amateur cook who’s a spoiled brat.  I’m still cooking and cooking well out here, it’s just a slog at times with these various limitations.  It sucks when you plan a meal, you’re in the zone, and you reach for (x) and you’ve entirely forgotten you don’t have it.

So you flex, and get it done, and the food tastes great.  But it was much harder to do, and so there’s a commensurate lapse in enjoyment.

Not sure how I feel about all this.  But that’s about it.  I miss my dogs.  I really miss my family and friends.  I’ll get the kitchen back too, and that’ll be nice.

In the meantime, it’s been a good long while since I put a recipe up here.  More on that, and soon.  After all, work made me.

enforcing the customs of a land not your own

Learning how other people live is one of the great joys of travel.  It enriches your life and generally makes you understand humanity and appreciate home more.  But it can also get weird, the kind of experience that makes you think deeply.  Or write about it on a garbage blog penned by a closet lunatic.

In America when you get fruits or vegetables at the grocery, the checkout cashier is the one who enters the appropriate code, weighs / counts the produce, and determines the price you pay.  Where I currently live, there is a separate and distinct produce counter that performs this function.

I learned this the hard way when I first showed up at the till and they got mad at me.  I actually kind of like this process a lot better.  Though America will never change to it because we prefer the brute force method.

In America, depending on what caliber of cashier you get, you can spend a long time just sitting there while they confusingly look up the appropriate four digit produce code.  I buy a heroic amount of fruits and vegetables so this is a big deal for me.  When you have a tailored produce cashier, it’s all they do, and so they fly.  They know the codes cold, and it’s nice and quick.

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Anyways, yesterday I get in line at the produce checkout.  I’ve got fifteen or so items.  I’m behind a middle-aged housewife who has more than me.  The checkout lady is doing her thing.  I lay out my items behind the housewife and wait my turn.  Then a guy steps up next to me and puts his one bag on the counter in front of mine.

So essentially this guy has cut in line without saying a word to me.  A foreigner like me, he looks like a bald Jeremy Corbyn (which probably explains his behavior).  Without saying a word, I give this guy the death eyes.  This causes him to mumble something and pick up his bag.  Then a series of thoughts occurred in my simpleton brain in quick succession:

– Why are you making an issue of this?  It really doesn’t matter.  We humans are all just shadows and dust.  Your bleached skeleton status awaits.

– Is there some local custom where since I have like fifteen things, and he has just one, that he can cut in line and it’s just cool, he doesn’t have to say anything?

– Or, even if he’s just a jerk, who cares?  Be the better man.

So after I got two of my produce scanned, I stopped the checkout lady, and motioned to Jeremy to get his one item scanned.  He nodded thank you and moved on.  And I’m left to ponder my thoughts about culture and morality and whatever.

BUT, then I turn around and see there are six people in line behind me.  Some of them have only one or two items too.  And, some of them are elderly.  So it’s not culture, it’s just this guy was a jerk.  He was just probably a guy who takes candy from street urchins on the 1835 Paris streets.

Dude should have gotten in line like everyone else.

That’s it! My Guests and I shall summon our good old friend Enforcement Drone Version 2.09 (ED209) as our assistant in resolving this matter.  We’ll enforce the customs of this foreign land on our own!

1) Guilt

Jeremy wrongly cuts in produce checkout line.  ED209 saunters up and wryly comments to the individual in his stale robot voice.

ED209: ATTENTION SIR, THERE IS A LINE.  CAN YOU NOT SEE THE ELDERLY INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE PATIENTLY WAITING WHILE YOU ARE NOT?  WHY DO YOU HATE THE ELDERLY?  HOW DO YOU SLEEP AT NIGHT?

2) Shame

ED209 walks up, observes Jeremy has cut in line.  ED209 then activates his video streaming device.

ED209: ATTENTION SIR, THIS INCIDENT HAS BEEN RECORDED ON VIDEO, WITH SPECIAL ATTENTION PAID TO THE FACES OF THE ELDERLY THAT YOU CUT AHEAD OF.  COPIES OF THIS INCIDENT WILL BE PROVIDED TO ALL RELEVANT MEMBERS OF YOUR EXTENDED FAMILY.  REPEAT COPIES WILL BE MAILED TO THEM ON ALL YOUR FUTURE BIRTHDAYS.

3) Fear

ED209 walks up and shoots the individual in the kneecap.

ED209: YOU ARE IN VIOLATION OF OUR ESTABLISHMENT’S PRODUCE SANITARY STANDARDS.  WE WILL INSIST YOU PAY FULL PRICE FOR YOUR BLOOD SPATTERED FRUIT.  WE WILL DENY ENTRY TO YOUR PERSON IN THE FUTURE TO AVOID FURTHER COMPLICATIONS.

4) Punishment

Jeremy cuts in line.  When he gets back to his car he finds ED209 has combusted it in an orgy of fire and flames.

ED209: YOU WILL NOW BE ASSESSED THE VARIOUS FEES ASSOCIATED WITH THE FORTHCOMING FIRE DEPARTMENT RESPONSE, THE SCRAP STEEL REMOVAL FEES, AND VARIOUS GENERAL ENVIRONMENTAL FINES.

5) Morality

ED209 forces him to sit down for a five hour chat on the various moral considerations involved with cutting in line, making a clear case for the values of a balanced ethical society.

6) Apathy

ED209 observes Jeremy, offers no comment or correction, hoping over time the individual in question establishes some type of internal corrective action guided by conscience.

Which ones of these will work? I’ll let you decide.

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“Great work at the produce checkout today.  Fist bump, my brother!”  [ED209 shatters every bone in my hand; my screams are heard in the grocery parking lot]

The Arcturus Sicilian Burger Spectacular! (with chips!)

I think I’ve discovered that naming a recipe is far harder than writing one. I don’t know why, but I’m pretty sure I can blame myself [aggressively points at self in mirror]. I’ll generate these wild ideas in my brain and they’ll become food and I’ll get all the way to the end and I have no idea what to name the dish.

So I make this awesome burger and chips with a rough Italian take and the best I can come up with is to call the thing an Italian burger. But everybody’s already done that, right? There’s got to be like 67 online recipes called Italian burger. Boring. And in any case, most of the Mediterranean blood flowing through my veins is Sicilian.

But wouldn’t you know that there’s also about 37 recipes online called Sicilian burger. So what I need to do is meditate another name for my tasty burger and, no, wait, you know what, whatever, who cares, let’s go!

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The Arcturus Sicilian Burger Spectacular! (with chips!)

 

the burger

1 pound ground beef

1 pound ground pork

salt & pepper

1 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 ball fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

8 burger buns

 

the spread

1/2 cup mayo

1 Tbsp sherry vinegar

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp dried basil

 

the relish

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 shallots, chopped

2 jalapenos, diced

1/4 cup sun dried tomato, minced

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

3 portabella mushroom caps, diced

3 roma tomatoes, diced

1 Tbsp tomato paste

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp cayenne

1 cup white wine

1 bag fresh spinach

1 pack fresh basil

 

the chips

3 large russet potatoes

1 to 2 quarts frying oil

salt & pepper

1 Tbsp smoked paprika

1 Tbsp crushed red pepper

1 Tbsp dried basil

 

making the burgers:

In a large bowl combine the beef and pork, dust with salt & pepper, shape into 8 patties, then refrigerate. Remove from the fridge about a half-hour before cooking to allow them to come to room temperature.

In a small food processor or blender combine the mayo, vinegar, and spices and blend, then refrigerate.

Heat the olive oil in a large steel skillet over medium heat, add the shallots and cook until browned. Add the jalapeno and cook until browned. Add the sun dried tomato and cook until everything just begins to stick to the pan. Add the balsamic vinegar and deglaze.

Add the mushrooms, tomatoes, and tomato paste and cook for a few minutes. Then add the thyme, rosemary, and cayenne. Cook, stirring every once and a while until everything begins to stick to the pan. Add the wine and deglaze.

Stir in the spinach and basil, lower the heat a bit, and cook until the relish slowly approaches a final slurry-like consistency. You don’t want it too dry, but not too wet, it should stick together. Remove the relish from the skillet and set aside, keep it warm.

In a nonstick skillet, heat the butter over high heat, add the burger patties, cooking 4 of them at a time. Brown the patties on one side, about 3 minutes. Flip them, top with mozzarella cheese, cover the skillet with aluminum foil, and cook for about 3 more minutes for medium rare, longer if you desire.

Toast your burger buns, add the cooked burger patty with the mozzarella, top with the relish and the spread. Serve immediately.

 

making the chips:

Slice the potatoes into thin discs using a fine knife or optimally a mandolin on the thinnest setting. Wash the potato wafers in a large colander with water, shake loose as much water as you can when finished.

In a large pot or dutch oven, heat your fry oil of choice to 350 degrees. Monitor the temperature using a kitchen thermometer and maintain 350 degrees throughout frying.

In batches, fry the potatoes until they are at least light brown, or darker brown if you desire. Using a slotted spoon or similar tool remove the potatoes from the fry oil and set to dry on plates with paper towels.

When finished frying them all, add the chips to a large bowl. Toss them with salt & pepper and the spices until the chips are coated throughout. Serve them immediately with the burgers.

 

Let’s begin!

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To me, all beef burgers are boring.  Don’t get me wrong, I love them, but they’re so inferior to the mixed bag.  I go 50 / 50 with ground beef and ground pork.  The pork gives the burgers a better taste and keeps them moist and juicy.  Get ground beef that’s 80 / 20 fat ratio.  Don’t go buying that 90 / 10 or 95 / 5 crap.

80 / 20!  You only live once, so go all the way!  And I hear tell from Jesus himself from his castle in Hawaii that those who buy 90 / 10 or 95 / 5 ground beef worship the dark lord.  And you don’t worship the dark lord, do you?

When mixing the beef and pork with the salt & pepper do not overly squeeze the meat while combining.  You want air in there.  I typically shape the meat into 8 patties but if you want massive burgers go with 4 patties.  Or you can go to 12 or even 16 patties for small sliders.  Make the burger size you love.

This burger’s theme is indeed Sicilian or Italian or Mediterranean or whatever.  I channeled the ghost of Caesar himself but he got mad because he didn’t know why I was asking him about burgers.  So I use with fresh mozzarella cheese sliced from the ball.  But, you can use any cheese you want.  It’ll all taste great, but white cheeses will taste best.

Pick your burger bun of choice.  Buy good bread or cheap bread, just make sure to toast it, and it’ll all work great.  I think I got cheap potato roll buns, fine.  It’s all good!

The spread mayo is easy, just blend it all up.  If you don’t want to dance with sherry vinegar then use red wine vinegar.  But if you can, find and use sherry vinegar.  I’ve kind of become obsessed with sherry vinegar as an ingredient.  I’ve even found a way to incorporate it into Mexican dishes.  It’s so freaking awesome.  It gives forth a haughty laugh at the boringness of red wine vinegar.

You must, must refrigerate the mayo after blending so it can firm up into a spread.  Please kindly don’t skip this step or do it at the last moment or it’ll deconstruct when you put it on your hot burger and turn nasty.  Leave it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

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The star of this lunatic dish is the relish.  It will take some time to make, but trust me, oh dear it is great when you’re finished.  You’re essentially making this in phases.

Phase 1 is shallots, jalapenos, and sun dried tomatoes browned, sticking to the pan with a balsamic vinegar deglaze.

Phase 2 is mushrooms, tomatoes & paste, and spices, sticking to the pan with a white wine deglaze.

Phase 3 is a slow reduction into the relish / slurry with spinach and basil added for greenness, nutrition, and the necessary added final moisture.

I generally cook each stage to a very brown state.

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This adds flavor.  But, a lot of people don’t want to go with a lot of brown, they don’t like the bitter taste.  I totally get it, go with what level of brown you like.  Just keep in mind that whatever your final state is, the relish has to fit / sit on your burger.  If you make too much relish or you have a lot left over after topping your burgers it can become like a side salad or something.

While you’re slowly making the relish you can make your chips.

I’m just gonna go ahead and say this [sighs], I’m over fries [hates self].  I mean I love fries.  Who doesn’t love fries?  Nazis, and mythical Orc warriors.  But I’m kind of over fries.  I’ve eaten 73 different kinds of fries and they all blend together now.  Thin, large, light brown to dark brown, different toppings or no toppings, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc.  It’s all the same to me in many ways.

I will always eat fries, but in the interest of variety it’s necessary to shake things up in life.  More and more places are thankfully offering homemade chips now.  So I decided to do the same.  Variety is awesome, it keeps you honest and open.

Go get a mandolin.  This tool is awesome.  You can slice up your potatoes in mere minutes.  And you can use the mandolin for so many vegetable needs later on.  Also make sure you have a deep fry kitchen thermometer.  Do not fry without this tool or you will fail.  The chips are very thin and consistent oil temperature is a must to get the right even brownness you need.

I fried using vegetable oil.  Lots of folks use peanut oil.  You can probably also use canola oil or corn oil too.  It’s up to you.  Just please, please be careful.  Frying at home is a mess and is inherently dangerous.  Never execute home frying operations without a plan to keep you from burning yourself, a means to cover the pot with a lid in an emergency, and a fire extinguisher.

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Fry in batches, do not crowd the pot.  You want the potatoes at least a little brown.  I find light brown to be the tastiest.  But you should shake it up.  Do some batches light brown, others medium brown, maybe one batch dark brown.  Again, variety.

Use the slotted spoon or equivalent to remove the chips from the hot oil.  Let as much oil drain off as practical via the spoon back into the pot.  The paper towels will help with this draining too.  You don’t want a final chip product swimming with any oil.

Let them dry out on the paper towels for a bit.  Then toss them with the spices in a large bowl.  If you don’t want to dance with smoked paprika use regular paprika.  But seriously, go get smoked paprika.

If you have leftover chips but them in an airtight container.  No need to refrigerate, but eat them within one week.  They’ll not have a long shelf life, they’re homemade.  If you eat them as leftovers and you might find they’ve turned soggy in the container?

If so, take a baking sheet, cover with aluminum foil, add the leftover chips, set your oven to 350 degrees, and bake the chips for about 3 minutes until they’re crispy again.  Do not preheat the oven first, I mean really turn the oven to 350, start, and immediately put the chips in.  They’re already cooked, this is just to get the crisp back.  Anything longer and they’ll burn.

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Oh my, I’m so fucking awesome.

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Keep the relish warm as you get towards completion, do not, do not let the relish get cold.

Get out a nonstick skillet for the burgers.  Some folks will say you need a stainless steel skillet to effectively brown the burgers.  They might be right, but to me homemade burgers with ground meats can get stuck and fall apart in a steel skillet far too easily.  Maybe that’s just my lack of skill?  Not sure, but this is how I do it.  Do it the way you prefer.

Medium rare timing will depend on your own experience with your skillet, range top, and other atmospheric conditions.  If you have a full moon out, add 13 seconds to each side.  For me, it’s 3 minutes a side over high heat gets me to medium rare.  Experiment to get to yours.  Cook longer if you like your burgers more well done.  Whatever you do, tend to trend towards the highest heat possible in your pan.  This will help with the delicious browning.

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Flip them, add the mozzarella slices, and tent the pan with foil so the cheese can melt as you cook the second side.  Sliced fresh mozzarella balls are not going to overly melt in only 3 minutes.  This is fine to me, see above, as I think it’s nice and creamy.  If you want it melted further just cook the burger a little longer with the foil on.  Or, like I said earlier you can pick another white cheese you like.  Or, you can always slice the mozzarella way thinner than I do.

Toast the buns, please.  This is an important step.  Non-toasted buns aren’t as delicious.  As soon as you’re ready, top the buns with the burgers, add the relish, and spread the mayo.  Chips on the side.  And you’re off to a delicious wonderland where meat and potatoes warm your stomach, brain, and soul.

Enjoy life!

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lunatic (not boring) salad

Life is full of risks. If you take upon your shoulders the profession of Bear Baiter you should expect some high medical insurance premiums. But if you post an unfavorable recipe on your degenerate blog, oh well, you’ll live.

However many years I didn’t post any of my cooking here was due to many things, timid behavior, failure, laziness, whatever.  Only a handful of recipes have gone up, all I’m rather proud of. I’ve still got many more of those. But how about one (of many) I’m not too sure of? It’s all good. It is what it is. It’s food, it’s good, so who cares if it’s not necessarily indescribably great. But seriously it’s still good stuff.

I hate boring salads. There’s no point. You can get nutrition in so many awesome ways. Who wants to get their daily greens via apathy? Not me. On the other hand, places that charge their customers $11 for a lunch salad should be firebombed. It’s just salad.

So we built this exciting main dish salad you can make on a weeknight in less than a half hour. If nothing else, it’s not boring. Whether all the freaky flavors in here will excite you or drive you away is entirely dependent upon your palate and preference. For us, I dig this kind of stuff, so badly.

 

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Let’s go!

 

lunatic (not boring) salad

bags of fresh greens

1 head broccoli, chopped

1 apple, sliced

1 carrot, chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

1 shallot, diced

3 fresh cherry peppers, diced or 1/4 cup jarred

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup white wine

1/8 cup sun dried tomato, diced

1 anchovy tin

1 lemon, juiced

1/8 cup sherry vinegar

1 basil pack, chopped

pepper

2 Tbsp mustard

1 pack pine nuts

1 pack pancetta

1/2 cup parmesan / reggiano

in a large bowl add the greens, broccoli, apple, and carrot

in a medium sauté pan heat the olive oil, add the shallot and brown, add the cherry peppers and garlic and brown, deglaze with white wine

add the sun dried tomato and anchovy and cook for about 5 minutes, add the lemon juice, remove the pan from the heat and let cool for a few minutes

transfer the pan mixture to a blender or food processor, add the vinegar, basil, pepper and mustard, blend and let sit

without cleaning the sauté pan, add the pine nuts and pancetta and cook until both are crisp

toss the dressing with the greens, add the cooked pine nuts and pancetta, sprinkle with the parmesan

 

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Let’s begin!

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Just get a big bowl and toss the greens, broccoli, carrot, and apple in there.  Chop them as you please.  Feel free to substitute any fruit or vegetable you desire in your salads or to add more.  It’s all good.  But have at least three fruit or vegetable options in addition to the greens.

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The star of this dish is the vinaigrette and this sauté pan is your tool.  You’ve got your shallots and peppers to brown as you desire, then the sun dried tomato and anchovy to provide some added bite.  White wine deglazes, and the lemon juice to somewhat even it out.  Cherry peppers have some high heat, you can use jalapenos or even regular bell pepper and it’s fine, just cook them a bit longer until they’re soft.  You want almost all liquid gone but no overly dry.

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Process or blend it all up with the sherry vinegar, mustard, basil, and pepper.  Do not, please do not add any additional salt.  The anchovy already has your back on that.  If you left the anchovy out because you don’t like the fishy taste or whatever, you add some salt then.  If you don’t want to dance with sherry vinegar, use red wine vinegar.  You should have a nice dressing at this point.  If it’s too thick, add just a touch of water and blend again.  If it’s too loose, you can add a bit more mustard, or just leave it.  As long as it can coat your vegetables you’re good.

Oh but we’re not done yet.  Because who doesn’t love bacon and pine nuts?  I mean, I guess there might be somebody, somewhere who doesn’t.  If so, they’re probably aliens, report them to the authorities.

Toss the vinaigrette in the large bowl, add in the pine nuts and pancetta, sprinkle over the parmesan and go.

No matter what happens, one way or the other, you’ll not be bored.

so every company wants to dance with sriracha

I guess you know a food ingredient has become all powerful when McDonalds starts to hock the stuff as part of their latest harebrained scheme to forestall irrelevance. They got Ronald McDonald to descend into the Thai jungle to pick up some ideas.

Given the danger he brought a large number of his posse. McDonald got the map and compass. Grimace essentially functioned as a pack mule. The Hamburglar got the grease gun. Birdie carried the radio, and Officer Big Mac, wait, wait, who the hell are all these other mascots?

Anyways, but seeing as only Ronald McDonald emerged from the jungle alive and without product, they just came up with this thing called Sriracha Mac Sauce. Which they trademarked. Seriously.

Sriracha is everywhere. Almost any restaurant chain or potato chip maker is all over this. I guess it’s trendy? Everybody loves spice and Asian so folks think they can mint money on this. But what really is sriracha? It depends.

In Thailand it’s basically just a random chili sauce with vinegar and spices. But in America what folks know as sriracha is just the Huy Fong Foods bottle. It’s just one kind of sriracha. But to most people I suppose it’s the sriracha.

Huy Fong’s story is actually pretty awesome. David Tran fled recently conquered South Vietnam in 1978 and was eventually granted asylum in America. He named the company after his refugee ship Huey Fong.

To me, the look of the bottle is pure genius. The contrast between the green and red, the unique rooster logo, the various languages and styling, it’s just great. It’s what made them successful, that and the unique taste.

But because Tran either cannot or will not trademark the word sriracha, basically everybody else can do what they want. So folks might think that McDonalds is partnering with Huy Fong to make their sauce, but they’re not. McDonald just made it on their own. Hence McDonald’s own trademark on their version of the sauce.

Hey I want to expand the planet’s variety of food choices too, but not at the expense of silly fads driven by faceless corporate goons in suits. Sriracha is basically just Thai ketchup. It’s not the emperor of all Asian hot sauces. I wonder how many folks have ever heard of Korean gochujang paste? It’s mind bogglingly awesome in its own right.

Want sriracha in America? Go ahead and buy the Huy Fong bottle. Or, go get a unique version from an Asian grocery. Don’t give Ronald McDonald more cash to file his next cutthroat trademark.

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Based designed sauce bottle in human history.