Category Archives: nonsense


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.





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.

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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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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nime chow tuesdays

i have almost zero food in my fridge, which is odd for someone who likes to cook, and often at that. i guess i can attribute this to working around food and eating at least two of my threeish to fourish meals of the day on the job. but when i get the yen to make something super delicious at home, i’ve got to go out shopping for the items specifically. and because i’m usually just cooking for 1, i’m left with a bunch of really odd items with no seeming correlation between them. arborio rice, chickpeas, pancetta, ginger root, you get the idea (although i could definitely make something with that stuff). the other night i got in around 9pm from work and started scouring the contents of my fridge, which i knew to be an exercise in failure. shrimp. cilantro. carrots. wait a minute…don’t i have a package of rice wrappers somewhere?

i only use double parrot. those single parrot wrappers are rubbish.

and that’s when it hit me, i had almost the exact makings of nime chow. i started pulling things out of cabinets and it only kept getting better. fish sauce, rice vinegar, romaine, vermicelli. shortly, i had my mise en place assembled and ready for action. i don’t have much counter space in my tiny kitchen, so i painstakingly have to make these one at a time. i let the rice paper soak in room temp water on a plate for about 1 minute or just under. once that is pliable (you’ll get a feel for just how soft they have to be after you do one or two), i transfer to another surface and load in the ingredients, which, depending on your recipe, or in my case, what i had to work with, can vary. the most common versions that i have seen include: lettuce, thai basil or cilantro, shrimp and vermicelli. i threw in some julienned carrot for good measure. a couple of years ago one of my brothers got me an OXO mandoline for christmas and all i have to say is, love. it. loveit. make sure your ingredients are centered left to right and just a bit lower than center on the rice paper. i fold in my sides first, just about 1.5″ in, but there are actually differing schools of thought on this. now that i had my nime chow assembled, i needed a dipping sauce. i really like some heat, so i decided to make a nuoc mam and added a bit of chili oil.i didn’t use a recipe for this. i just remembered a really good one i had at a vietnamese place i frequent and tried to recreate the same flavors. however, i’m sure the interweb is teeming with great nuoc mam recipes if you need them. one word of advice, DO NOT, burn the fish sauce while heating. i have done this before and my entire place smelled like the hold of a japanese fishing trawler for at least the next week. you don’t really need to give it much flame anyway, you’re just incorporating sugar till dissolved. and that’s it. it took me about 20 minutes to make an awesome dinner with random nonsense. im really hoping that my pantry and fridge align next week to make something equally ridiculous, perhaps osso buco?

that magic moment when you look in your fridge at 9:15 on a tuesday night and say, yeah, i could make some nime chow with what i've got right now.

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all the way, means something different in the woo

for those of you lucky enough to have spent some time in lil’ rhody, you’re…well, lucky. those of you that haven’t, you’re an outsider peering in through never-quite-clean windows, rubbing, rubbing, rubbing, but never getting that clear view of what’s inside the somewhat odd, yet mysterious and beckoning shop front. when i moved to RI roughly 11 years ago, one of my friends suggested meeting up at “sparky’s for suhm wienahs”. while i was initially confused and believing that we might be headed out to one of RI’s many and illustrious gay bars, i took him up on his offer and discovered a truly provincial and tasty-meaty treat (ok, stop laughing). hot wieners are an RI staple (really, stop laughing, this is not that kind of blog you jerk). brought there by the greeks in the 30’s and 40’s, what has become dubbed the “new york system” has flourished in RI and surrounding locales. according to wikipedia, hot wieners are made primarily of pork and veal, setting their distinct flavor apart from beef hot dogs. they are served in a steamed bun and most usually served with a proprietary meat sauce, celery salt and chopped raw onion. they tend to be smaller than a regular dog, which prompts both casual customers and zealots alike to order more than one. ordered as described, one shouts, “all the way!” at the grill cook, and then uses their digits to clarify just how many gaggers one desires. the grill cook then, ala tom cruise in cocktail, loads the dogs up his arm and dresses them as requested. the first time i witnessed this, i must admit i shivered just a bit in gastronomic anticipation. i also shivered just a bit due to the thought of my wieners touching the hairy-armed grill cook’s appendage. up the arm and all the way (which will get you about 6 hot wieners, dressed with meat sauce, etc) is how you do it. so, after moving to the woo, it was good to know that at least one institution was dedicated to the new york system. i haven’t been to coney island as of yet, and i hesitate to go, only because it might be a major letdown compared to my experience of RI gagger joints. however, the other night i was at a private party in west boylston and it was a classic rager. the hosts had put together a sumptuous buffet of wonderful food. as the night ran out, i sauntered back up to the buffet to see what i could scavenge. sadly, all i found was a box of frozen (yes, still frozen) spanikopita, and, sad dog. while sad dog was obviously in party mode, sad dog was still sad – as evidenced by sad dog’s picture. apparently, in worcester, “all the way” means a paper party hat

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the perfect lubricant for rusty pipes

barbi is my “work girlfriend”. she’s a sweet 62 year old cafeteria lady who shuffles around all day, but seriously gets a lot of crap/prep/work done. barbi works the soup and salad station and it’s always a pleasure to have her serve you. she sends everyone off with a cheerful, “have a great day!” the caf had put out tiny plastic spoons so you could sample the soups at the station, just in case you weren’t sure if you wanted the “craaaazy” chicken noodle, or the “off-the-wall-and-never-before-tried-bold-flavors” of the vegetable beef. today, she came up to me in a huff as i walked in and told me that the kids were taking the spoons en masse and she was “sick of it!” i immediately thought of the hanes sock commercial and snorted, which she didn’t appreciate one bit. after i had settled down, i asked barbi why the kids were hoarding tiny plastic soup spoons. she said she had overheard one of them exclaim, “oh look! coke spoons!”, before emptying the vessel. barbi shook her head and said, “times sure have changed…” to which i nodded somberly in agreement. “…in my day”, she continued, “we used to use a wd-40 straw.” Image

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