Thursday, July 22, 2010

Catching Up With the Chef (Part 1)

Yeah, yeah, I know I'm not a "chef" but I cook. And I drew that "Chef Eli" thing ages ago. You know, this thing:

Ok, well, I haven't posted anything about cooking recently, so here's a bit of a catchup on some of the fancier things I've made from cookbooks and whatnot.

Not long after I finished Selzer & Smuckles (the cooking, not the final blog post 6 and a half years later) I wanted to try something a little easier. I have a Trader Joe's cookbook that provided us with a nice lasagna with garlic bread. Nothing too fancy here, just a vegetable lasagna and a simple Italian bread. You know what, I apologize for bringing this up. There's no real story here. It's lasagna and garlic bread; I've done these things before. Everyone has. Melissa and I were watching a trio of Scorcese movies (Goodfellas, Raging Bull, and The Departed) and we needed a good, filling Italian meal. We paired it with some cheap Italian wine and lazed about for a day. I don't know if it was the lasagna, the wine, or the combination of the two, but I seem to recall that I got sick from this. Not violently ill, but sick enough that it stands out in my memory. Ok, moving on.

If you've been paying attention (and I think I've mentioned this here), I really want to learn to make some basic sauces. So much of cooking is just heating up a protein and then adding a sauce for extra flavor that it seems like I should know how they work. I decided that I wanted to make a nice hollandaise. I had a recipe from a Disney Newsreel (the company magazine) for an eggs benedict from one of the hotels and I wanted to try it. I promptly screwed everything up. First, I needed something easy for the night I was planning to cook it and ended up buying a sauce mix at the store, thus defeating the purpose of the recipe in the first place. Then I forgot to buy Canadian bacon or any other kind of meat, meaning I wasn't really making an eggs benedict. I ended up with, essentially, an unfinished, slightly high end Egg McMuffin. On the plus side, it was my first time poaching eggs and they came out very nicely. Looking around at other cooking sites, this is apparently harder than I thought it was. I guess not realizing how hard it is gave me the confidence to do it properly. I plan to try the same thing with flying an airplane in the future. That's easy, right? Oh, and note that I served this with the Perfect Home Fries Every Time from the Achewood cookbook. See, I learned something from that whole process.

One of Melissa's favorite meals is grilled pizza (who needs segues?). My parents made it often when we lived at home and it truly is a fantastic invention. Well, my parents got me a nice grill for Christmas, and I thought I'd try my hand at it. I bought a nice pizza peel at Sur La Table (that store is like a giant, shiny, overpriced porn store for me) and got to work. I used a pre-made dough from Trader Joe's and topped it with pretty standard stuff - pepperoni, bell pepper, onion, basil, and mozzarella balls. You pre-cook the dough on the grill before topping it, and I gotta tell you, it came off looking great. Well, apparently, it should have stayed on a few minutes less; by the time all of the cheese and toppings had cooked, the bottom of the crust was pretty well charred. This is not to say it wasn't delicious, you just had to get past that "burned" taste. I mostly bring it up because I'm pretty proud about how artistically I arranged the toppings:
Ok, my lunch is over, I'm out of time. I have A LOT more to post. This was going to be a two part post, and I think it just became three. Mark your calendars and just keep hitting refresh until I come back.


1 comment:

  1. "Catchup"... heh, I see what you did there.

    Remember to ask me about hollandaise.