The Stockhausen – Frühstück Easy and Delicious

April 7, 2013

Good day to all of our savagely loyal readers!  I am happy to report that you will no longer need to frantically click that refresh button on the How We Eat blog, which is what I imagine all three of you have been doing for the past 22 months.  You needn’t wait another moment for the next fantastic installment!  It has arrived!!!

This episode of How We Eat was inspired by my perpetually-absent co-blogger Paul D. Stockhausen’s latest visit.  Paul spent a week up here recording a country music masterpiece, and while he was here, he ate all of my eggs.  In the process, I learned a great new take on the traditional eggie sandwich.  I call it “The Stockhausen”!  It’s simple, spicy and delicious.  It will forever change that way we eat breakfast.

Preparation:

OK, while we prepare all of the other ingredients, let’s start frying that egg!  If you’re lucky like me, you have a friend or coworker that provides you with fresh eggs.  This is great for lots of reasons, but let’s start with the fact that you get a multi-sized set of eggs!  Large eggs are great for omelets or frittatas and the like, but not ideal for an egg sandwich.  For myself, I like to use a small type of bread, such as an English muffin (and I would recommend the same for you).  Anyway, I digress.  You want to fry a small egg (or whatever sized egg you have) until the yolks are less than runny (somewhere between medium and well is ideal).  If the egg isn’t small, you can correct the size of the egg with the edge of your spatula as it begins to cook.  Ideally, the shape of the finished egg would be exactly the same as the bread.

The other ingredients you’ll need are peanut butter (salt, no sugar), Sriracha (or equivalent) hot sauce, cilantro and scallions.  While the egg is being fried, you should be toasting your bread.  Once the bread pops up (not too crispy, I hope), apply a layer of peanut butter to both sides.  Top each side with Sriracha.  Next, chop up some scallions and cilantro and apply to one side of the peanut butter toast. By now, the egg should be all fried up.  Put the egg on the green side, like so:

perfect goddamn breakfast sandwich

Put it all together, and you have The Stockhausen, a simple, transcendent, Thai-inspired breakfast sensation!  Let me leave you, my lovingly devoted blog subscribers, with an old-fashioned ProTip:  When you buy your cilantro and scallions, chop them up immediately and put them in Ziplock bags with a moistened paper towel.  This will keep them fresh for a very long time!  ProTip!

Yours truly,
Sav


Desayuno Típico: Typical Guatemalan Breakfast

June 12, 2011

sleepy San Juan street

Buenos días, How-We-Eaters! This installment of your favorite food blog is inspired by a recent trip to Guatemala. I spent two weeks there this past March, and I return with many fond memories and one great breakfast idea. Every eatery in this great country offers their own version of desayuno típico. Each is practically the same with a few minor changes. I will explain these options as I go, while I present to you my first attempt at being faithful to the concept.

Preparation:

OK, desayuno típico (literally, typical breakfast) is easy as hell. The hard part is assembling the proper ingredients. The basic version always has eggs (two, fried or scrambled), black refried beans, tortillas, delicious salty square cheese slices (like feta, but slightly softer and less crumbly), and fried plantains (with delicious liquidy sour cream sauce of mysterious origin). There is always some sort of fruit on the side, usually sliced melon. Most of these ingredients are easy enough to acquire at your local supermarket, but the cheese and the cream presented the biggest challenge. Last time I was in San Francisco, I visited a store in the South Bay that semmed to have everything I needed. I found a brick of cheese that had a promising-sounding Spanish name on it, and was the right shape and color (square and white). As for the cream, well, they had something there called “Mexican Table Cream” and I figured that might be a lucky guess. Well, the cheese was all wrong. It was hard in consistence and curd-like in flavor. Not bad, though! The table cream was a very poor choice. It was practically flavorless (in spite of containing “natural butter flavor”), and the ingredients were scary enough not to serve in mixed company. As I was preparing this meal for guests, I left the cream in the fridge. Fine breakfast guest Trevor indicated that perhaps the cream I was looking for was crema natural. This is Mexican-style sour cream, and his description of it sounded an awful lot like what I had in Guatemala. Thanks, Trev-Trev! Maybe next time.

missing the crema natural

Cooking:

Some tips for making this right! First, have Camille do the scramb. She’s good at it. For the plantains, no one else at the house had any good advice for how to appropach this. We cut the plantain into discs about 1/2″ thick, maybe thicker, and fried them on medium-high heat in a tablespoon of butter. They got blackened pretty fast and thus did not cook all the way through. They still tasted OK, but they weren’t as tender or sweet as I remember them. Lower heat, thinner slices, and more butter may be the key. And don’t forget the crema natural! For the frijoles refritos, you just need to heat them. This is easy. But make sure you get the Mexican kind and not some fancy organic Amy’s brand version. I can’t say for sure whether or not it makes a difference, but the Mexican kind is just fantastic, and it’s not worth the risk. Tortillas should be corn and always served hot. Spend a little extra on good tortillas, for I propose that they are the cornerstone of this breakfast. Cheese? I have no good advice here. As soon as I find out, you loyal readers will be the first to know. And side fruit of choice: avocado. It’s a big hit. The cold avo goes good with the hot eggs. Serve with good hot sauce. And don’t forget the bacon. Make sure it’s good bacon. Not so típico! (Or is it?)

-Sav


Cheeseburger Américain

January 30, 2011

Greetings, loyal How We Eaters! Today’s entry is inspired by the all-American classic: the cheeseburger (please ignore the German etymology). Please note that I am talking about cheeseburgers here, because no one eats hamburgers unless they forgot to buy cheese. It’s always worth the extra dollar or two, or whatever it costs, to put a slice of whatever cheese is available on a hamburger. I won’t discuss restaurant cheeseburgers here, except to say that they are well known to serve as an acute barometer for general food quality at a previously untested establishment. This blog serves as guidance for making cheeseburgers at home.

Preparation:

French's is good, but it doesn't need to be name brand yellow mustard.

We start with the beef. It should be somewhere between 85-90% lean. Less than 85% will shrink your burger appreciably over heat and is thus uneconomical. Greater than 90% will not afford you the juicy quality of a home-cooked burger that is so very crucial to your gustatory enjoyment, for the juice is in the beef fat (pro-tip)! Burger calculus is as follows: ¼ lb. ground beef per 100 lbs. of consumer (click here for helpful Excel spreadsheet). Slap the ground beef into a metal or ceramic bowl and add three (and only three) ingredients: salt, pepper, and yellow mustard. If you start adding anything else, you’re making meatloaf. Shape the beef into discs and set aside.

all the makings

For toppings, you will need tomatoes, red onions, and some sort of lettuce (I used arugula, but regular lettuce is just as good, if not better, for a burger). Bacon is a good choice, and worth the extra effort, but not necessary. Prepare all sliceables in advance and allow your fellow burger eaters the freedom to dress the burgers themselves. Ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise are the only spreadables you will need, and two out of three ain’t bad. For bread, only a kaiser roll will do. They are usually about 59 cents in a bulk bin at your local supermarket. The little burger buns in the bag can hardly handle my burger calculus.

Cooking:

There is literally only one acceptable way to make a burger at home. You must fire up the grill. Get it real hot and throw the burgers down. They really don’t need a whole lot of time. If it’s hot enough, you’ll get the outside nice and crispy and the inside will still be fresh and juicy. Anywhere between pink and grey is acceptable for color, but you just don’t want it to get dry. Put the cheese on top during the last minute of grilling. Cheddar (the sharper the better) or Swiss (imported) are acceptable. While you’re at it, this is a good time to toast the Kaisers, if you feel so inclined.

Looking for a great side dish?  Consider potato chips!

That’s it! Follow these simple directions and leave your food guests smiling!

-Sav


Special Wild Food Édition: Morels

May 24, 2010

Hello, friends! It is with great excitement and heartfelt joy that I bring to you this very special edition of How We Eat. Luck shined its shiny face down on me just the other day, as Meredith (my lovely hiking companion) and I set out on a chilly (and slightly snowy) afternoon jaunt in the Sierras (my backyard). We were just a’stroll-stroll-strollin’ along, when Meredith pointed out an interesting looking mushroom. I cannot even tell you precisely how far I jumped out of my damn boots as I discovered that this was no ordinary wierdo mushroom. Merra was pointing at a fantastic treat, popping right the hell out of the trail. A morel! The best kind of mushroom1!! I was bouncing around like a little kid in a candy store. Where there’s one, there’s bound to be more, I declared. Sure enough, thanks mostly in part to Mer’s keen eye, I collected a total of 15 delicious morels.

Now, to be fair, I would nominate Paul to be King Mushroom Man of the Food Blog. He’s gone so far as to inoculate logs with fungus in the past (P: correct me if I’m wrong), and he’s done at least one mushroom hunt that I know of. I have personally never hunted mushrooms, yet I have been lucky enough to come across a few tasties while working in Alaska, including “chicken of the woods” fungus, which is a bright orange bracket fungus found on dead logs (bloggers: look forward to a special “flashback” edition of chicken-of-the-woods casserole at some point).

Anyways, on my way back down the mountain, I called Paul to get a hot recipe from a fellow food blogger, but he wasn’t taking any calls. Luckily, this wasn’t my first morel encounter, and I knew that these babies needed very little to achieve full-blown gustatorial enjoyment. In fact, they needed precisely one thing, and that thing is butter.

To prepare morels: Lay them out and slice them into halves or quarters along the length of the shroom. A few little bugs will crawl out onto the cutting board. Don’t freak out! This is normal when harvesting any wild (or for that matter cultivated) food. Mushrooms have more bugs than normal, perhaps, and they aren’t all easy to get rid of. Solution: Take the sliced morels and put then in salt water. Put them in the fridge for two hours or so, then remove them to a separate bowl.

To cook morels: Take about a quarter cup of butter (I used salted, but it hardly matters) and sizzle it up in the frying pan. Drop the mushrooms into the pan and fry them to desired doneness. I left a few on too long and they get hard and lose some of their delicious flavour. Try not to overcook them. They don’t need much time. Just keep an eye on them!! Let them cool down for about as long as you can stand it (about three seconds, if you’re me) then eat them.

To store morels: If your lovely hiking companion is Meredith, then you might have leftovers, because Meredith detests mushrooms, even the best kind, which is morels. There are several ways to store morels, and most of these methods are on the Internet2. I happen to have a vacuum sealer from my salmon smoking days in Alaska. To vacuum-seal morels, dust them in a little flour, then place them on a cookie sheet and freeze them for a couple of hours. Take them out, and lay them out flat in a vacuum sealer bag. Seal it up. It’s just that easy. When mushroom-appreciating company comes by, just open the bag and fry them in butter. They are small pieces of mushroom, so it won’t matter that they’re frozen. Once they hit that hot butter, they’ll thaw real fast and fry up like a charm (I am told). I still have half a batch of morels in the freezer. Who wants to come over and try some?

-Sav

1: Actual fact
2: Best morel website on the Internet, I think. Has info on how to properly ID morels as well.


Aebelskivers are Danish Apple Pancakes!

February 22, 2010

(edit: aebelskivers are Danish, not Dutch. Thanks, loyal blog reader R.H.)

After an unusually long hiatus from food-blogging, I am pleased to present a very delectable breakfast item, perfect for you and your guests. A few years ago, my friend and I were browsing for kitchen supplies at a thrift store, when we came across a small, wild-looking cast iron pan containing seven equal-sized divots. “Ooh, an aebelskiver pan! You have to buy this,” said friend. Apparently, she had a good family recipe for aebelskivers, and the pan was cheap!

generic aebelskiver pan, not 'Old Dimply'

I had no idea what aebelskivers were when I first heard about them (so don’t feel bad about not knowing, loyal blog-reader). Aebelskivers (also spelled ableskivers, ebelskivers) are simply round, puffy pancakes filled with applesauce. Sounds nice, right? It is! Well three years ago, I bought this aebelskiver pan, and my friend made a batch of delicious aebelskivers for me. I washed the pan, put it away, and never considered using it again until last weekend. My current state of bold epicurean creativity combined with a rare wintertime guest inspired me to blow the dust off of Old Dimply for a second go-round.

homemade applesauce courtesy of Kati: super houseguest

Making aebelskivers is wicked easy, although I was initially somewhat intimidated. Aebelskiver batter is a lot like pancake batter, with some minor adjustments. Basically, it’s flour, baking powder, dash of salt, milk and eggs. But you have to separate the whites and yolks, and do something different for each. So you combine the flour (sifted), baking powder, and salt and mix it together. Then, dump milk and egg yolks into the whole mess and stir it. Easy! Then you have to beat the egg whites “stiffly” (which means “a lot”) and “fold” them into the batter! To fold in the baking sense means to take the frothy egg whites and gently mix them into the batter with a spatula. Presumably, this is for the effect of not killing the frothiness of the stiffly beaten egg whites, which may or may not add to the effect of a poofy pancake. Put Old Dimply on the stove top and set the heat to medium. Melt a tiny morsel of butter in each dimple. Drop a dollop of aebelskiver batter into each dimple and let it cook for about a minute. Add about 2 tablespoons of apple sauce into each dimple atop the batter, then cover it with another layer of batter. Each individual aebelskiver will cook evenly around the edges like magic. Once they are cooked (and thus loose in their dimples), scoop them out ever so gingerly and turn them upside down. After about another minute or two, the top-side will be cooked and these babies will be ready to go. My guest brought some homemade peach preserves, so we used this for a few aebelskivers and they came out awesomely. An aebelskiver with peach filling is technically called a perzikskiver.

Oh man they're good!

Serve with syrup (and powdered sugar if you like). They are delicious! If anyone actually reads this blog, and they want the recipe, just comment below and ask for it. I don’t have it in front of me right now!

-Sav


어리석은 백인의 Kimchi -or- Saurkraut für Attrappen

December 27, 2009

Paul

Jo Jo Jo!

I know, I know,…Jesus!! It’s been a long time since I have blogged.  But I can assure the blogosphere now that it is not personal.  Stop the binary tears. I have nothing against the cyber world at this point. Really!  It is simply that, as of late, I have been a cyber taker instead of cyber-giver, and happily so.  My summer of fun and blogging has slowly and gratefully transitioned into a sleepy winter of internet movies and lounging around…..and well yes..eating too.  In light of the holiday season though, I have decided that I could find it within myself to give back to the blogosphere with a little bit of how I’ve been eating.

This installment is really about how I WILL be eating.  As you’ll see there is some curing time involved in this one.  In this little post here, Joelle and I will be walking you through how to make a really simple version of sauerkraut and kimchi.  Both of these traditional ethnic delights (German and Korean respectively) involve a lot of the same basic science and ingredients; cabbage and salt.  While Kimchi can really be defined by any of a wide variety of Korean pickled vegetables, it is most commonly known in the US to be some variation of lacto-fermented cabbage and spices.  Lacto-whaaa?? Yeah, Lacto-fermented.  Lacto-fermentation is the process where lactic acid is produced from sugar.  Cabbage’s sugars are naturally converted to lactic acid in an anaerobic environment because of the bacteria that lives on cabbage known as lactobacillus.  Traditional kimchi and sauerkraut are not pasteurized (pasteurization kills all of the lactobacillus and other bacteria) and are generally stored for months on end without refrigeration.  Cured sauerkraut is extremely high in Vitamin C and contains many probiotics proven to balance vaginal,  gastrointestinal systems and fight some kinds of cancer.  Beyond all that, it tastes awesome!  So here goes it:

Cabbage, Napa, Daikon, Carrot, Ginger, Salt, Basil, Chilis, Salt

Step 1: Get all of your ingredients together.  For Kimchi, I use Napa cabbage, carrots, basil, daikon radish, chili peppers and salt.  Any good chilis will do, but I usually go for spicier ones.  In this case we used Scotch Bonnet and Serrano peppers (usually a 7 out of 10 on the hot scale).  I like to use Kosher salt as opposed to pickling salt because it is generally a more accurate product.  The general ratio (which we’ll go in to more later) for salt to cabbage is approx. 3 Tbls salt for every 5 lbs cabbage.

Step 2: Wash your damn jars!

Step 3: Wash Your Veggies!

Step 4: Chop em’ up fine! I usually cut the cabbage as thin as I can with a knife but a food processor can sometimes do a much better job at getting really thin uniform slices.  As for the rest of the veggies in kimchi I like to have them in thin slices as well. They usually take a bit longer to break down than the cabbage so you don’t want them overly chunky.  Thinner slices will allow the veggies to start to ferment as well as the cabbage.

Use a blunt wooden spoon for this bit. Nothing aluminum.

Step 5: Add all ingredients to a large bowl or pot and mash the shit out of it with a wooden spoon. Truthfully, I think it is easier to add your veggies in installments.  Layer 1/3 of all ingredients in the pot and distribute salt evenly then mash.  Repeat.  You’ll know when you are done when the mashed mixture starts to produce quite a bit of brine; precisely enough to submerge the solids beneath it.

No double dipping!

Step 6: Taste For Saltiness. Using a clean spoon taste the brine mixture.  It will be salty as hell but relatively palatable.  If you can’t swallow it, frankly, you’re screwed; unless of course you’ve got some more cabbage on hand you can add. DON”T double dip your tasting spoon!! This is good practice anyhow but with laco-fermenting it is especially important to keep everything pretty sterile.  The salt ratio is really a matter of opinion.  Mashing the salt into the cabbage draws out the water and creates a natural brine teaming with bacteria.  Use enough salt so that you have an adequate amount of brine to cover the cabbage.

Step 7: Jar it up! Two people are best for this part.  You’ll want to really compress the  mixture as you place it in the jars.  Be cautious to not fill the jars too high.  Leave about 1″ at the top of each jar.  Without a small bit of room at the top, you’ll risk exploding the jars as they ferment; not good.

For the Kraut, simply repeat steps 1-7 with your kraut ingredients.  There are some pretty specific traditional ingredients that include caraway seed and juniper berries.  I typically stick to hearty green cabbage, but some prefer red cabbage for red kraut.  Really, once you have the rules about fermentation down, the rest is your party.  I like my kraut pretty simple.  For this we just used cabbage, salt and caraway seed.

Let the Jars sit sealed tightly for 3-5 days in a pretty stable temperature environment.  I find that after about 3 days they will produce enough carbon dioxide that the tops will leak a bit.  Your kitchen (or wherever you store your jars) might adopt a slightly farty or digestive smell. Not to fear, this is normal.  I usually open 1 jar on day 4 and then see how it is coming along.  Once the jar opens the process is altered.  I recommend refrigeration after opening.  Lastly, Don’t just take my advice on this.  Do some reading on your own and make sure you know what you are dealing with.  While the steps are simple, there are always risks when dealing with living bacteria.  If you have any reservations and/or feel that you might come after me with a lawsuit think again!  Do your homework people and make Kimchi at your own risk!

Until then, Happy Eating,

-Paul



Noël cookies: thank your moms

December 19, 2009

IMG_2188IMG_2188

OK, so I just want to start by saying that Christmas cookies are hard work. I’ve made quite a few cookies in my time, and all of them have been easy to make until now. I didn’t anticipate the amount of effort it would take to deliver authentic holiday cheer (in the form of so much butter, flour and sugar) to my fellow Christmas-party-goers. In retrospect, it seems that I was ignorant of my own dear mother’s Christmas cookie-baking prowess. As a wee lad, I remember the freezer, refrigerator, and kitchen counter always seemingly chock-full of the many delicious choices we came to expect during that time of the year. And not once did she receive even the slightest bit of baking assistance from her husband or her three sons. She just plodded away for hours without so much as a groan or grumble of displeasure. What I’m trying to say is that now’s as good a time as any to thank your mom for all those cookies! Because that was some seriously underappreciated work!

Tootsie, no!

My original plan for the week leading up to the Christmas party was to make four or five varieties of cookie for the guests. By my own estimates, this should have been a breeze. My mom used to bang out about 12 lbs. of cookies per hour during the holdiays, if I remember correctly. Anyways, due to a lack of skills and proficiency on my part, I was only able to muster two varieties, although I would contend that they were two very challenging varieties.

I started with the pinwheels. Before making this particular type of cookie, I realized that I had never made a cookie that required being rolled out by a rolling pin! No problem. To my surprise, however, the dough was much stickier than I had anticipated. Now, to make the pinwheel happen, you split the dough and work some melted chocolate into one of the halves. Then you have to roll the white and brown dough separately into “equal sized 1/8-inch rectangles” (no I am not kidding). Once again, my naïveté got the better of me. I did not have any wax paper (I never needed it before), so I simply rolled my two doughs out on aluminum foil! Well, needless to say, aluminum doesn’t have the same properties as wax paper. I was able to make two similarly rectangular-ish shapes with some success. I then carefully proceeded to sandwich the two rectangles on top of one another, at which point I was able to very gingerly peel the aluminum foil away from the top layer. Rolled it up neatly and put it in the fridge. The next day, all I had to do was slice the log into equal-sized disks and bake them up! That was the easy part. Amazingly, they came out perfect.

Tootsie, no!

The second project was gingerbread men. I won’t get into the effort too much, except to tell you never to buy icing at the store. Same with lemon glaze. It’s well worth the effort for the peace of mind that goes with eating stuff that isn’t loaded with corn syrup and weird chemicals and preservatives, so long as it’s this easy to make it yourself. Also, buy a nice gingerbread man cookie cutter, not some cheapie Wal-Mart piece of crap. If you’re gonna make the effort, then this is an easy way to improve your product.

Tootsie, no!

Pro-tip: Don’t get a canvas snoot. Plastic bags work well and are cheaper!

Here’s another pro-tip! I put my gingerbread man dough in the refrigerator overnight (which is totally allowed). The next day I thawed it out, and much to my chagrin, it had become all dried out and crumbly! At first, I panicked. I called some friends to see what I could do. Luckily, the instincts of my dear friend Kathleen won the day. She said “It’s dry? Did you try adding water to it?” Well damn it if that didn’t fix the dough right up! Thanks, Kath.

Tootsie, no!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone! Don’t forget to thank your moms!

-Sav