It doesn’t matter whether it’s fresh or frozen, I cannot for the life of me get this vegetable right. For instance, I bought a whole big bag of fresh cut florets from Costco and threw them in the freezer. I figured they’d keep for as long as it would probably take me to use them – several months.
I also thought they’d be easy to prepare. Boil up a little water, maybe add some salt, throw in the broccoli and let simmer for several minutes. Poof – instant side dish!
Well, not so much.
Over the course of those several months, I’ve consistently prepared some of the most inedible greens this side of the Mason-Dixon.
It’s not that they look terrible (the pictures are of actual samples of the ghastly veggies). It’s just that they are completely tough, taste terrible and stink up the house for at least two days. I’m serious! My wife could not stop gagging the last time I tried this.
In short, I need some help with broccoli. Won’t you please take part in my poll or leave a comment? You will be saving an innocent vegetable from being mangled in new and horrifying ways, and you might just contribute to the domestic peace and tranquility of yours truly.
Still trying to catch up on posts, as exemplified by apple dessert recipes that are going on two months old. That’s okay; they’re new to you, right?
The apple cake above was the second of two recipes I tried as I made my way through the last of the picked apples. It was also the more dramatic of the preparations, considering I used a 9″ cake pan to make a 10″ recipe. Lesson learned: don’t do that.
But before we get to the second, I wanted to introduce the first apple cake, the one that almost slipped into my culinary history undocumented. Luckily, I remembered to take a pic of a portion I brought to my folks. To your right is the cake in all its tupperware glory.
It may not look like much, but it was actually quite delicious. I found the recipe, as usual, through a Google search (keyword: best apple cake). Being the sucker for hyperbole that I am, I couldn’t not try the Best Apple Cake (in 47 Years of Cooking).
Did it live up to its title? Well, I haven’t been cooking for 47 years (yet), but it was certainly easy, sweet and full of appley goodness.
The only issue I had was with the glaze. While I can’t get enough of butter, cream and brown sugar, drizzling this concoction over an already-soft cake, made the dessert almost too moist. I know, I didn’t think that was possible either.
The second cake, while also moist, took a completely different approach to mixing apples and batter: it didn’t. But it looked a whole lot better, as you’ll see after the jump.
Like just about everybody I know in the Northeast, I go apple picking in the fall. This year, the wife and I took a crazy trip up north to Applewood Orchards in Warwick, NY (to be detailed in a later post). We exited with half a bushel of apples, a pumpkin and smiles on our faces.
Unfortunately, our mood quickly turned sour when we wasted our first four apples on this recipe for the “Best Apple Crisp Ever.” Oh, hyperbole, why am I such a sucker for thee?
Speaking of cooking problems, my new rice cooker is cooking up some of the crappiest rice I’ve had in a long time. I mean, the whole premise behind even getting a rice cooker was to make some of that delectable sticky rice that routinely emerges from the machines of my friends and TV personalities.
Well, guess what? I’ve now used this thing six times and I have yet to see even two grains of rice stick together. It has had the complete opposite effect that I was anticipating: the machine rice is dry, undercooked and each grain slides away from the other like they were magnetized metal shavings.
Again, I ask: what am I doing wrong here?
I’ve tried adding more and more water each time, but I only see incremental improvements. Could the problem simply be that I’m using the wrong kind of rice? Does Uncle Ben make his long-grain rice impervious to the effects of automatic rice cooking?
Maybe I’ve deluded myself into thinking a rice cooker (that someone shelled out good money for at my wedding) should be able to take any kind of rice and transform it into something light, fluffy and moist.
But I guess cooking perfect rice is just a little too much to ask of a rice cooker.
What is it about those seemingly succulent red wedges that brings out the worst in my culinary skills? Granted, my culinary skills are meager to begin with, but I’ve already mastered salmon. How much harder can tuna be?
After my latest adventure, I now consider the perfectly cooked tuna steak my white whale. I just can’t stop pursuing a better recipe or method. This time, I tried to adapt a salmon recipe for tuna and I can’t say it worked out so well.
I won’t go into the details, but please, for the love of cooking, can someone help me get this fish right?
One of the fundamental rites of passage for any engaged couple is to ask for and receive a machine that enables you to prepare foods you’ve never thought of making yourself. Things like waffles, bread, frozen margaritas, and fried candy bars are yours for the making if only you register the right way.
Already owning a bread machine – which we use only to make banana bread and only when we have some over-ripe bananas laying about – and cowering in fear at the prospect of owning a deep fryer, the wife and I chose the ever-so-sensible ice cream machine.
As stereotypically lazy Americans, we were surprised that making ice cream actually takes work, even with our newfangled technology. Often things have to be heated or melted or mixed or strained by hand before the motorized monstrosity even comes into play. Such a revelation would have led lesser couples to excommunicate such a contraption to the back of the cupboard.
But we persevered.
After some unsuccessful experiments with frozen yogurt and “light” ice cream, however, the wife threw in the towel. Heavy dairy is not her bag.
So I persevered.
But only a couple times a year when I’m alone and feel like making the effort (that sounds dirty, sorry). One such opportunity presented itself last month when I decided to finally put the instant coffee I had bought for this very purpose to use.
I found this recipe for Coffee Oreo Cookie Mount Gay Ice Cream one day after work and thought I’d give it a shot. And by shot, I don’t mean the Mount Gay rum. That ingredient was immediately jettisoned in keeping with my long-held “no alcohol in dessert” decree.
The addition of egg yolks make this more of a frozen custard than a straight-on ice cream. This recipe was also my first venture into “tempering” territory and I think it went surprisingly well (i.e. the eggs did not get cooked by the warm cream mixture).
The one thing I would change would be the time of Oreo addition. When I added them right before pouring the liquid into the machine, the cookies broke down and became part of the ice cream. So instead of little bits of cookie flecking the coffee ice cream, I ended up with a true coffee/Oreo hybrid.
This is similar to the melding, at a molecular level, of Seth Brundle and the fly in David Cronenberg’s remake of The Fly. Below is a picture of my ice cream and Brundle-fly for comparison.
To fix this, I would wait until the last five minutes of the hardening process before adding the cookie chunks. This way they would get mixed into the ice cream without falling apart.
And thus, to finish with the comparison, you have what the ice cream should look like next to the original Fly: a garden-variety human with a few insect parts mixed in.
Ice cream and sci-fi: two great tastes that taste great together!
Fluffy, subtly sweet and always delicious, pancakes are one of life’s simplest pleasures.
But lately, it seems that everywhere I turn, some ambitious chef or restaurant is trying to overly complicate the already-perfect-as-is pancake.
It started innocently, as these things do, with a few berries, some unique syrup flavors and maybe a chocolate chip or two. And then, all of a sudden – bam! – we’ve got nuts in the batter, mountains of powdered sugar, and not a dollop of good old fashioned butter in sight!
This madness must end.
Of course, I’m too much of a hypocrite to lead the charge, what with my eyes glazing at every mention of a “pancake special” at brunch. In fact, it was my saying “yes” to two such specials in recent weeks that instigated this post in the first place.
That greyish slab of meat you’re looking at is not a pork chop. It’s a tuna steak.
This particular experiment gone wrong was adapted from a Men’s Health recipe for seared swordfish steaks. I foolishly thought that if I replaced the expensive swordfish steaks with the affordable (i.e. previously frozen) tuna steaks, everything would be fine. Did I mention how foolish this was?
I did follow the recipe very closely, adding a sprinkle of salt and pepper to each side of the steaks before tossing them in hot oil. After searing them for several minutes, I flipped the steaks and threw the whole skillet in the oven for another 8 – 10 minutes.
When removed from the oven, I was disappointed that the fish did not look as professionally “crusted” as I expected. But the real surprise came with the taste test.
After cutting in and sampling a bit, my worst suspicions were confirmed. Not only were they overcooked (not a hint of pink on the inside), but they retained that unpleasant fishy taste.
Like any desperate cook (or politician), I tried to cover up my mistake. There was still some oil in the skillet and I thought it would be a good way to moisten up the meat before turning to the refrigerator and spice rack for additional flavors.
Somehow, I ignored the fact that the skillet had just finished a good 10 minute bake at more than 300 degrees and was therefore extremely hot.
So I grabbed it.
It took a split second for my brain to realize what my hand was doing. But that split second was all it took for the burn to take hold. I like to describe it this way: OWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!
Ten minutes under cool water and a good numbing ice pack later, I was finally able to use my left hand to eat some of what I prepared.
The conclusion: my fingers were better cooked than the fish.