serial crepe-ist.

i like crepes. i like crepes like zombie boy likes turtles. preferably savory crepes, but honestly i would put away any egg batter concoction you would place in front of me. so when i came across the merry table last year, a tiny french creperie in ptldme on wharf street, i thought i had creped myself and gone to heaven. on a whim, we had decided to head up to maine for a little vaca. although barring portland, i really don’t get the appeal at all. but in that really cool little city, there are a ton of excellent, quirky, even edgy, restaurants and eateries. the merry table wasn’t edgy. it was very much french. it’s location on wharf street, an alley really, with brick paving and stone buildings lends itself to the waterfront atmosphere and i was ready for a serious crepe experience! you can read my review on yelp that i linked to, but in the end, the merry table was a bit disappointing. and that made me think: crepes are not that hard to make. but to perfect? that is something entirely different. so i looked around the interwebs for a great crepe recipe. there were some good ones. there was also a lot of…crepe…sorry. no more crepe-y puns. seriously…that was it. i used to work in a kitchen that was owned by right-off-the-boat neapolitans. like, yesterday. and these guys had a fantastic savory crepe recipe that they had brought with them from the motherland. i don’t exactly remember it now in it’s entirety, but i do remember the ratio of 4:2:1 – respectively, eggs, milk, flour. like, a stick of melted butter, a bit of salt and a pinch of sugar and that’s it folks. i remember making up 10 gallon batches by hand waaayyy before there were cheap immersion blenders readily available. the trick was, once you had whipped all that air into the batter, you then needed to let it sit overnight in order not to have big fluffy pillows of pan-fried goodness. so, in my quest to recreate the perfect crepe. i knew that i needed to get the right tools for the job. hellllloooo williams sonoma. i had a gift card luckily, so i didn’t have to trade in my first born or anything. i got a sweet crepe pan from de Buyer, so that was pretty good. Image

i just followed my ratio of 4:2:1 and whipped up a Image

small batch of batter. this time with an immersion blender…Imagelet your batter sit for at least 3 hours if not overnight. you need to get the air out of the mix so it doesn’t puff up in the pan. now remember, butter is your friend. you need to butter the eff out of this in order to do it right. we’ve already got an entire stick of butter in the batter, but you need to butter the pan in between every other crepe, at the least. find the ladle that is appropriate to the pan size your’re using and drop it in a hot pan. medium heat to get it going, but you’re going to want to bring it back to med-low to finish these. they’re thin so they can burn easily. Image swirl the pan gently to distribute the batter evenly. then wait about 1 minute. then flip. if you can’t flip something in a pan, stop reading. i use wax paper sheets to stack multiple crepes when they’re done. which should be about 20 seconds more on the other side. Imageand that’s what you’re looking for. just slightly browned. so now we need a filling. you could do ham & brie, turkey with bechamel, baked apples & marscapone, etc etc etc. this light, delicate wrap is awesome with a million different combinations, so explore the possibilities. i chose to go with a thyme grilled chicken and lemon vinaigrette dressed arugula. ImageImage

i always grill the woody thyme stems into the chicken because it imparts such a great smoky woody flavor. Image

the best thing is that you can freeze extra crepes to use later, or refrigerate if you plan on using them within the week.Image

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CHRISTOPHER WALKEN COOKS THE EFF OUT OF A TURKEY, TURKEY TALKS BACK – FOR THE LAST TIME…EVER: and more…

for those of you lured here by the promise of christopher walken cooking videos, look no further. the rest of us will be down here, gettin’ serious…

see…now…these pears look verrry nice.

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V

leftover turkey from thanksgiving? sure, we all have it. leftover nonsense that you wouldn’t reheat and eat if you were tom hanks on a desert island? yep. the stuff is looking a bit wonky now. i mean, it’s sunday. TG was 3 days ago. most of you chumps will pull that crusty fowl out of the fridge at 3am and slap it on some bread with a bit of mayo and choke it down. no need to harsh your L-tryptophan buzz, yo. too soon for turkey jokes? it’s never too soon for turkey.

I used to work for a company that was affiliated with howard johnson hotels. Hojo’s had a line of frozen foods as well as their road-side eateries. Imagesomehow, along the way, the company i worked for absorbed the recipe for hojo’s chicken croquettes – a truly ubiquitous crowd pleaser. and guess what peeps? all that leftover TG nonsense taking up room in the fridge can easily be made into this tasty, toasty, christopher walken approved dish.

first, get all the crap your inlaws/mom/neighbors gave you to take home. every little doggy bag and tupperware, get ’em out on the counter! this is a potato-based dish, so if you have no potatoes, stop reading. chumps. 

take your mashed (preferably) potato and crack an egg in a mixing bowl. combine. add: corn, green beans, sweet potato, creamed onions, carrots, etc, etc, etc. whatever you have left from the great feast, toss it in the bowl. mix thoroughly. hands and whatnot…get dirty. now, take your turkey ( i like the dark meat best…) and chop and add to the mix. start to form small cylinders in about 5oz portions. once combined, pour panko breadcrumbs onto a plate and roll the cylinders in the crumb. for that retro hojo feel, shape the cylinders into a conical form. 

now, we fry…

heat some canola to 350. 325 will make your croquettes soggy and 375 will burn the eff outta them. invest in a decent kitchen probe people – c’mon! once up to temp, carefully lower your mini pyramids into the oil. fry for about 7 minutes. roll them around to ensure that all sides are browned. NB: the more croquettes you fry at the same time, the more you reduce the temp of the oil overall. only fry 2-4 at a time, tops. once crisp and golden brown, remove and let sit on paper for a few minutes.

i served mine up with some haricot vert and a bit of gravy.

christopher walken would be proud.

I’M BAAAAAAACK! Also, espresso dusted seared sea scallops with a burnt orange cream sauce

so, i’ve taken waaaay too much time off from this blog. not that anyone reads it (it’s secret, so if you know about it, you’re one of like, 2 that do). after commencement happened in may, i lost my will to do ANYTHING at all that resembled work. i’ve often said i like the schedule of academia, but they do try to cram so much junk into 1 weekend – hence 14 events during two days. i guess i took the summer off people, and what of it? that’s what i thought. sit down. i was initially going to try and recap commencement weekend with a bunch of pics and posts, but i never got around to it. perhaps i still will at some point. and then, you will be able to see one of my crowning achievements: a catered luncheon for the prime minister of Belgium, yves letermeImage. well, have you ever served lunch to a Belgian PM? no, you have not. once again, sit down. however, an outsider nudged me about this blog, so here i am to revitalize it to it’s once former glory. eh..or something. short story: worked a 4am shift last sunday, so i hunkered down with some netflix and seafood for an early night in. i had this really super awesome stonewall kitchen espresso dry rub that i picked up at their store in portland, ME a year ago that i’ve been really meaning to try out, however the opportunity never arose. well, last night it did. whilst internetting, i saw a side sauce for a burnt orange sauceImage and it struck me that coffee and oranges are perfectly opposite on the color wheel of taste. it seemed perfect. oh, and it was. i picked up about 6 “meh” sized sea scallops from the store down the street and a can of OJ concentrate. the rest, per usual is winged. sauteed some shallot and garlic then i took half the can of concentrate, added savory herbs like oregano, bay leaf, parsley and let simmer for an hour. you want this to reduce, so get it on the gas and let it go.Image however, i also wanted to build this over a risotto base, which is equally time consuming. being in the restaurant industry, we have some wicked good shortcuts for a lot of menu items. one that i will totally stand by is uncle bens instant risotto. this stuff is already cooked off in a sealed foil pouch and actually makes a great risotto. alas, i had no UB’s instant, so i made mine the hard way. NB: making risotto is a bitch. straight up bitch, fo’ realz. step 1.) agonize over the fact that you are about to launch a 2 hour process that you cannot step away from (go pee now!). step 2.) put some butter (2tblsp) or EVO into a heavy sauce pot and heat on a medium flame. step 3.) say goodbye to everything for the next 2 hours. step 4.) toast your aborio rice for about 2 minutes. I add shallot/onion and garlic at this point. let it get translucent and add your stock.Image Oh wait! yeah, you need stock! i use a base i get through a supplier, but you can find a really good base on the shelves out there. keep that quart of stock warm, otherwise it will slow down the absorption process. step 5.) painstakingly add 4-6oz of stock to the rice as quickly as it can absorb it. you can see that when you draw a spoon through the rice, it leaves a clear trail. that is the time to add more stock. also, i like to toss in a cup of dry white wine and a squirt or two of lemon juice. also, i add a few dashes of orange bitters. there are numerous brands, so don’t stress about that. this is also a perfect moment to throw together an old fashioned, seeing as you have the bitters out and all. Imagemy holy grail recipe is stolen straight from the menu of the citizen wine, chocolate and cheese bar. dash of OJ bitters, cube of sugar, three drops of lemon oil. ice and your rye of choice. hold the salad. ok, so we have our risotto and sauce simmering. time to multitask. sip your old fashioned and get your scallops out and smear with the espresso rub. fire up a heavy pan (cast iron if you have it) and add a couple tblsp of EVO. let the pan get to smoking and then place your scallops in the pan. if you don”t get smoke and spitting oil, you’re doing it wrong. Imagesear those little mollusks!!! i would say about 1 minute per side (yeah, gotta flip ’em) and then they’re done. at this point, your risotto should be all set and the sauce as well. 5 minutes before you plate, add a couple oz of heavy cream to the OJ sauce. it will thicken it and add a creamy texture to boot. spoon the rice and place your scallops, then drizzle the sauce. and ya know what? that’s it peeps.

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crucifixion cookies, anyone?

my good friend, T, is spending her last few months in RI. she’s headed down south to tampa, FL (god knows why) after accepting a position as catering director at a university in the sunshine state. YES! i’ve tried to dissuade her from leaving, but she seems intent on following through with the move. maybe it’s because here in the northeast, there’s a conservative undertone in collegiate culinary operations, as best witnessed by this example.

crucifixion cookies

yes, our baker decided to make CRUCIFIXION sugar cookies for easter this year. i will be going through his cookie cutter collection come monday. but back to her move; i’ve expressed to her that it’s a bunch of old people, and jewish people, and old jewish people. at the end of the day, it will be a good move for her professionally. also, her family is in the area, so that’s a major plus as well. however, we will be sad to see her leave lil’ rhody. no more backyard tiki bar soirees. no more cornhole tourneys. no more hanging out at the avery or getting kicked out of luxe burger. and most definitely, no more drunken brunches at downcity😦

for the last 4-5 years, T has been hosting easter dinner at her place, and this year was no exception and extra special ‘cus it’s the last one she’ll spend with the pvd crew. she’s such a perfectionist; everything has to be done correctly, including the food and booze. when you walk in, the table is set, flowers are in vases, the drinks are chilled and the ham roasting in the oven smells divine.

most of her guests are foodies, if not full out chefs, so the menu is key in this setting. we all bring a dish to accompany the main course, and i have to say that all comers are delish. this year i made a roasted tomato and mozzarella panzanella salad. yeah, i know what you’re thinking; “wait, no tastymeaty dish?” knowing that there was going to be a rockin’ ham, i leaned towards the health zone my friends. it was pretty damn good.

I took some yellow and red grape tomatoes, halved them, added a bit of diced jalapeno for some fire,

tomahts

and tossed it with some evo, s&p, green onion, and added some ripped dandelion greens that i had bought on a whim during my last shopping excursion (you never know when you may need dandelion greens). in retrospect, the greens were a bit bitter (and i like bitter) so maybe using something like a baby spinach or arugula would’ve worked better. I roasted it uncovered at 350 for 30 minutes. at the same time, i took a day-old baguette and cut it into roughly 1″ chunks, spread it out on a cookie sheet and drizzled with evo. finish with some sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, then throw it in the oven for the remaining 15 minutes so your tomatoes and bread end up coming out at the same time. i packed everything up in a thermal bag and made the trip to pvd. on arrival, i added bocconcini and the bread cubes, and gave it a quick toss. i really liked the warm tomatoes and the cool mozz combination. the crusty bread offered a really hearty feel to what is a relatively light dish. i’m going to have to say that it went over well as none of the salad made the return trip with me.

easter dinner at T’s was yet again another phenomenal gastro experience. from zucchini pie, to the oven baked ham, to the kick ass roasted tomato salad, we all left sated and just a bit bigger. i’m sad to see my friend host her last pvd easter dinner, but i wish her the best of luck in all of her upcoming adventures. 

damn you chris kimball!!!

i picked up a copy of the best of america’s test kitchen 2012 the other day from barnes & noble. i had a gift card from christmas taking up space in my wallet (thanks MJ and ali!) plus i like to compete with ATK in the kitchen. i view each and every one of their recipes as a challenge. a thrown gauntlet if you will. not like i’m some great chef or anything, but i like to look at the ridiculousness that is 5 pages of musings on whether turning the oven 3 degrees lower might have made the texture of the tibetian yak pie less stringy and using organic parchment paper would have rendered the belgian chocolate free-form tortes even more delectable and belgian-y. i live to condense their 9 page recipes into 1 and show them up by making whatever it is in 4 simple drama-free steps – and still blow your mind. after flipping through the 96 pages of food porn nonsense, i settled on the pasta roll-ups with chicken. such an unassuming name. bastards. they almost had me fooled. after skimming their recipe, i decided that it was absolutely unacceptable. i got rid of the sundried tomato and pine nuts immediately. while pine nuts are very yummy, they are extremely expensive right now. why go buy a bag of pine nuts for 17 bucks when you can get a scoop of walnuts from the bulk food aisle at any supermarket for a couple of bucks? i also subbed ricotta cheese for goat (though i do love goat cheese, i didn’t see this dish hanging on the use of goat cheese). but went ahead with the mozzarella and shredded parmesan. i simmered my chicken breast till done (figure it out) along with some salt, pepper and bay leaves for company. DO NOT BOIL! and when it does temp out, leave it to rest on a plate for 10 minutes while you put the rest of this nonsense together. soak your no-boil lasagna noodles in hot water for about 5 minutes till pliable. set aside and cover with a damp paper towel or cloth. i sauteed some bacon, and used the grease as a base for the roux. i made a simple roux with garlic, onion, half & half, s&p, chicken broth, and added parmesan, chopped walnuts and some mozzarella. ATK calls for nutmeg, but honestly, i never seem to have nutmeg and i don’t see this dish suffering too much from it’s exclusion. back to the chicken: use two forks to shred it  and then incorporate half the sauce. at this point, i add some herbs such as basil and oregano, possibly a little red pepper flake if you like it hot. i chose to add prosciutto to this recipe on a whim (i had it in the fridge). lay out your wet noodles and line with prosciutto. spoon the chicken/sauce mixture on top and prepare to roll. once you have your pasta rolled, place in a greased casserole dish and cover with the reserved sauce. cover with foil and bake for 25-30 minutes @ 350. remove foil and top with remaining shredded cheese and broil on high for 3-5 minutes. bazinga. if you can’t follow my simple directions, you have no place even cracking an ATK book, let alone reading this blog. make me proud. 

yeah, I.T. called and they said that’s not yo’ cheese

all the time, i see some simply amazing shit at work. sometimes it’s hysterical, and sometimes it’s just sad and bizarre. i caught this today whilst walking through the caf:Image

most people in IT are socially awkward cheese hoarders

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ralph’s rockstar diner

ralph’s is a major institution, known not only to the woostah locals, but as a hidden new england gem to many in…well, rhode island. that’s about it. so they’ve got central MA and lil’ rhody, which could be worse. however, as the providence natives know, there are few, and ever dwindling, live music venues left in pvd compared to just 5 years ago. well, ralph’s chadwick square diner (which isn’t in chadwick square, make sure you mention  that to your gps) is still here! and i would argue that you need to at least make one trip and experience it’s awesomeness. built out of an old dining car, attached to an ancient firehouse, it’s the perfect eclectic mix of awesome food, great atmosphere and some really good bands. as you enter (beware the mob of cynical hipster smokers out front; don’t get any cynical on you…or hipster for that matter), turning left will bring you into the dining car. behind the counter, running the length of the car, some dude is grilling burgers and the slight smokey char of tasty meat wafts all throughout. my first visit, i plunked down on a counter seat and asked for a menu. i think the jukebox actually stopped. there are no menus! this is ralph’s! i was informed that they serve: burgers, veggie burgers, chili. there’s no special cheese selection, you can’t add applewood smoked slab bacon for $2, and there are definitely no crostini for the chili. you will get your cheeseburger and bag of chips and you will like it! so, stfu, sit, and get a burger. they are one of the best i’ve had since moving here. there is something to be said for doing just a few things and doing them really well. oh, and at the counter, full bar service. it’s like you don’t even need to move! however, you might miss out on all the other stuff going on at ralph’s.  if you were to turn right upon entering, you would head into a more typical bar area. rough wood, vintage signs, more hipsters, etc. a year or so ago, i actually went on a first date to ralphs, way before i actually knew very much about the place. it was an internet thing, and the girl was just getting back from an early wedding reception on a saturday evening. she had texted me, “hey, let’s meet up at ralph’s for a bit”. then she texted immediately after, “wait, i might be too drunk to go out – call me first so i know you’re not some psycho”. this, of course should have set off all kinds of alarm bells on my end. however, for those of you who actually know me, you know that we were at ralph’s within the next 30 minutes. and we were. we proceeded into the bar section and i quickly realized that it was karaoke night. she apparently knew and had actually intended on going to sing karaoke, because she made a beeline for the sign up table. we stood, awkwardly sipping beers till it was her turn. when they called her name, she rushed up to the mic and sang, “buffalo stance“. yes, that one. then she calmly replaced the mic, stepped off the stage, and came back and grabbed her beer. we never spoke about what had just happened. needless to say, i’m sure it goes without saying that nothing ever came of that first date travesty. continuing on, if you venture upstairs, that’s where all of the live music takes place. it’s a pretty much open floor plan with a good sized stage at the end and another full bar. motorcycles hang from the ceiling, your little brother’s highschool band sticker is on the wall and the hipsters have somehow figured out how to navigate the stairs. of course it depends who’s playing, but the atmosphere is really good and you could end up spending your saturday night at much worse places

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hot for hummus

just felt it was my duty to let you know that THIS was out there (NentirelySFW. but really, it’s going to come down to the office culture and the style of management, etc. etc., blahblahblah…).

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vday

as i sit here, utterly alone on saint valentine’s day, i’ve summoned the strength and fortitude to pull myself from my malaise and offer up a symbol of love on this special day. erm, or whatever. i found a really cool site that happened to coincide with this miserable holiday, but in a foodie way. heart shaped eggs is where it’s at this year, and i made em’ kids. bento is a really neat concept, but takes an ass-load of time to execute. while i can appreciate all this silly, bunny, kitty, froofy junk, i’ll take my eggs over easy. 

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superbowl xlvi banh mi

ahh, the superbowl. hundreds of thousands of fanatics cram bars and private parties to watch a bunch of dudes in spandex spank each other. yeah, i’m totally into it too. being raised in a house that rooted consistently for the ny giants, and then living in new england currently, this last superbowl, and the one prior in 2008, have really pushed my level of tolerance. granted, american football is a pretty cool sport with a lot of conviction, strategy and butt-slapping, however, i really can’t find it in myself to get behind a team. while i don’t mind watching the physical and strategic contest, i could really give a crap about who wins. it’s a game people. a game. what i really enjoy, is watching the ridonculous SB commercials and making tasty meaty food. this year, i had a hankerin’ for some banh mi. i must have seen it somewhere recently so it was stuck in my head. i was now determined to make the best sandwich ever. i started out with some chinese 5-spice sauteed pork, sliced radish, cilantro, julienned carrot, sliced cucumber, a touch of lime juice and mayonnaise. all of which i stuffed into a par-baked baguette then toasted off. annnd, that was it. this stuff is easy folks, get to it.

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