Archive for July, 2008

Chicken Croquettes

Posted on July 31, 2008. Filed under: poultry, recipe |

1 lb. Ground Chicken,  white dark or combination
1 Medium Shallot, finely chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, finely chopped
1 Egg
1 Tablespoon Poultry Seasoning
1 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Fresh Ground Pepper
Bread Crumbs
Combine all ingredients except bread crumbs.  Form four patties.  Coat patties in breadcrumbs.  Shallow fry in a few tablespoons oil for about 3 minutes, flip, add more oil as needed, and fry another three minutes.
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Wine and the Bottle Shock Premiere

Posted on July 28, 2008. Filed under: hodgepodge |

Bottle Shock premiered at Chateau Montelena yesterday.  The film is inspired by the 1976 ‘Judgement at Paris’ wine tasting, the seminal moment that put the Napa Valley wines on the map.  I play Shenky, who, while having nothing to do with making wine, is really amusing nonetheless.

Honestly, I’ve always been a beer and spirits guy.  Wine had always been at the bottom of the list of what I would pick to drink.  Give me a pale ale or give me a scotch, but keep that vino away from me.  All I knew about wine was that it didn’t taste all that good, and it gave me a headache.
Well, times have changed.  I’ve spent a lot of time around wine in the last year.  Bo Barrett, the head winemaker at Chateau Montelena, has really embraced our film.  I started to appreciate wine when we were shooting, but the moment for me really happened when Bo brought some of his favorite bottles to Sundance.  A sip into his famous Cabernet, and the light turned on.  I was able to taste plum, cherry, sunshine, and warm fuzzies.  Seriously.  Since then, I’ve been able to appreciate a whole variety of wine.  Now all I need is for someone to point me in the right direction.  See, all I really know is the wine I’ve been given at Bottle Shock events, and those are the cream of the crop.  Poor Hal B. can’t afford those on his own!
You’ve been reading my words for a few months now.  If you want to hear me speak, check out an interview I did yesterday with Movie Geeks United.  And look for Bottle Shock in a theatre near you starting Aug 8.
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Drink of the Day: Agwa de Bolivia

Posted on July 25, 2008. Filed under: favorite, hodgepodge |

Move over Jagermeister, there is a new Sheriff of Crazy in town. Meet Agwa de Bolivia.

Agwa de Bolivia is a nitro fueled liquor containing extracts of Bolivian coca leaf, guarana, and ginseng. It’s made in Amsterdam, which should tell you something. Frankly, I’m not quite sure how this stuff is legal!
Let’s begin with the coca leaf. Yes indeed, cocaine is derived from said leaf. However, it is highly processed. Pure coca leaf has been a part of Andean mountain life for millennium. It’s effects are much subtler than cocaine. It, along with the guarana, provide the energy boost that comes with Agwa, but you’re not going to wake up the next morning with a bloody nose and a nasty addiction. Fear not.
Don’t fear the nearly neon green color, either. Despite it’s crazy look, the taste is rather pleasant. After the initial taste of mouthwash (really!), the flavor mellows into something both fruity and minty. In fact, Agwa has one of the most pleasant aftertastes I’ve experienced in booze. This is due to both the bright flavor profile, and the fact that it’s only 60 proof.
Oh, but what a 60 proof it is. Let me say this: don’t drink a lot of coffee if your planning on having a few drinks of this. Agwa de Bolivia will keep you up late. It’s a perfect booze if you’re planning on having a high energy night out. After two shots worth, I felt plenty energized, and just a little bit high. The effects are rather unique.
Agwa de Bolivia can easily enjoyed as a straight up shot. The Agwa website recommends squeezing a bit of lime into your mouth before the shot, saying it increases the potency of the booze. Perhaps it does. In the interest of science, you should try it. This stuff is very mixable, too. Personally, I really enjoyed it over ice with a bit of soda water. Experiment, mix it up, see how you like it best!
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Panko Fried Chicken

Posted on July 23, 2008. Filed under: fry, poultry, recipe |

Chicken Breast, pounded to medium thickness
3 Tablespoons Flour
6 Tablespoons Milk
1 Teaspoon Each Salt & Sugar
Panko
Lemon
Italian Parsley, chopped

Panko is a wonderful, course, Japaneese breadcrumb. Light and lovely, it provides a killer texture to breaded dishes. You should be able to find it at nearly every supermarket.

Begin by mixing flour, salt, sugar, and milk. Dip chicken into mixture, then dip coated chicken into panko. Coat evenly. Let rest 15 minutes, then fry at 360 for about 6 minutes. Use your eyes and ears to tell you when it’s done.

Remove chicken to cooling rack or paper towel, let cool for 2-3 minutes. Squeeze lemon onto crispy chicken, then top with chopped Italian parsley.

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Technique: Safety First

Posted on July 21, 2008. Filed under: technique |

The kitchen can sometimes become a dangerous place. Here are a few tips to make your life easier:
1: A sharp knife is your friend. The majority of knife accidents come from having a dull blade. You might think this sounds a bit funny, but when you think about it, it makes sense. A sharp knife will slice right through food, whereas a dull knife might slip from the surface and down toward your hand. Ouch!
2: A sharp knife is not your friend when trying to separate objects. This is the exception to the sharp knife rule. Say you’re trying to separate frozen items. It it unwise to poke and prod at them with a sharp knife. This will most likely result in stabbing yourself, and a possible trip to the ER. Instead, use a butter knife to gently try to pry the pieces apart. Or, use physics! Smash them, or let them defrost a little bit for easier separation.
3: Make round objects flat. If you’re slicing something round, like an apple, cut the bottom into a flat section. This will make it more stable, thus less likely to slip.
4: Metal conducts heat. It’s true! If you put a pan into the oven, it’s going to get very hot. So use a pot holder. This sounds really obvious, but, believe me, burns happen more than you think. If you do get burned, leave your hand under slightly less than room temperature water for 10 minutes. If it starts to blister, to the ER with you!
5: Oil and water do not mix.  The same reaction that makes fried food delicious also makes frying food dangerous.  Avoid putting wet pieces of food into oil.  The result could be disastrous.  Oil splattering all over the place will not only make a mess of your kitchen, it could also make a mess of your skin.  Not acne, friends, but burns.  Painful little burns.
Use common sense.  Think before you act.  Your mom wasn’t lying when she told you to do that.
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Idea: Agave

Posted on July 18, 2008. Filed under: healthy, hodgepodge |


Sure, it’s a wee bit ironic that a few days after posting on simple syrup I’m posting about a sugar substitute.  I suppose we can call it a variation on a theme.  It’s sweet week here at This Man’s Kitchen!

Agave syrup, also known as nectar, is made from the core of the agave plant.  The pulp is juiced, then reduced, much in the same way that one makes maple syrup.  The same juice can be fermented, and made into tequila.  A result of going to university too close to Mexico is that I am not a big fan of tequila.  Agave, however, comes flashback free.
Agave syrup makes a wonderful sweetener.  It’s easier to work with than honey, sweeter than sugar, and dissolves into cold liquids.  Agave has the lowest glycemic score of any sweetener, resulting in a minimal spike in blood sugar levels.  It’s processed without any chemicals, and, is nearly always organic.  
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Smoked Chicken

Posted on July 16, 2008. Filed under: grill, poultry, recipe |


4 Chicken Breasts
Italian Dressing
Wood Chips
Simple, healthy, and excellent.  All you need is smoke.
Marinate chicken for 3-24 hours in your favorite italian dressing.  Transfer to grill and smoke over indirect heat for 35 minutes.  The fire should be around 300 degrees.  If you don’t have a smoker attachment, soak wood chips for one hour, wrap in foil, poke some holes in it.  Then, make a fire on the opposite side of the grill from where you’re going to place your chicken.  Put chip packet on fire at same time as chicken.
Add salt as needed.
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Technique: Simple Syrup

Posted on July 14, 2008. Filed under: technique |


Well, since Friday’s post was such a long one, I’ll go simple today.  Real simple.

Simple syrup is as easy as it gets.  Combine a part sugar and slightly more than an equal part water.  Put over heat.  Stir until sugar dissolves. 
Simple!
See, sugar doesn’t melt into cold beverages.  Ever dump a pack of sugar into iced tea at the local diner?  Stir, stir, stir.  The sugar still sits there, swirling around.  With simple syrup around, you don’t have that problem.  Pour it into your iced tea, cocktail, broccoli juice, and it’s sweetened.  It keeps just about forever, so make a pitcher and keep it in the back of the fridge.
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Idea: Read The Label

Posted on July 11, 2008. Filed under: favorite, healthy, hodgepodge |

It’s amazing what goes into processed food these days. This is especially true with so-called ‘healthy options’. I’m talking fat-free versions of foods that should indeed contain fat, trendy ‘diet’ products that are really sugar and corn devices cleverly designed as limited calorie packs, and a food that we all know and love.

FAT FREE

You’ll notice many ingredients in this fat free half & half that have nothing to do with milk or cream. Corn syrup is listed number two, meaning there is a significant amount in there. Dipotassium phosphate is an insecticide! Probably not something you’d want to put in your morning cup of joe. I really enjoy how artificial color is footnoted as ‘an ingredient not normally found in Half and Half.’ As if sodium citrate is! Cream is listed as adding a trivial amount of fat. Now, as cream is classified as having at least 18% fat, something seems amiss here!

In contrast, regular half & half has two ingredients, milk and cream. When you think about the limited quantity you would normally use, the extra fat seems a pretty good trade off when compared to corn syrup, preservatives, mystery ‘cream,’ and insecticides.

ONE HUNDRED CALORIE PACKS

One of the latest trends in processed food marketing is packets containing servings of a certain amount of calories. The purpose is to let us feel guilt free about snacking on shitty foods. The marketers want you to believe that if you follow their calorie recommendation, you’ll be enjoying a great snack.

The problem is, you’ll be eating many things that you probably shouldn’t be eating. The top ingredient listed is sugar. Now, a little sugar isn’t a terrible thing, but when it’s the main ingredient of your ‘healthy’ snack, that’s another story. They’ve also managed, as most manufacturers these days do, to sneak high fructose corn syrup into the snack pack. It seems unnecessary, considering there are already a ton of sugar and sugar substitutes listed, including glycerin. Have a look at wikipedia if you want to see what else glycerin is used for!

My favorite ingredient in this, however, is: Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable And/Or Animal Shortening (Soybean, Cottonseed And/Or Canola Oil, Beef Fat). Go ahead and read that again, your eyes weren’t deceiving you. Yeah, there might or might not be beef fat in your ‘healthy’ cupcake snack! Now, I have no problem cooking with animal fats, though, to be fair, beef fat is probably at the bottom of my animal fat cooking list. The problem I have is that unless you’re reading the label, you have no idea that beef fat is in there. It’s certainly not healthy, not even healthy for the soul the way cooking eggs in bacon drippings is. It’s just wrong. This isn’t beautifully rendered beef dripping, used to make Yorkshire Pudding. This is the shit that’s left over from processing factory farmed beef. Why waste it when you can make an extra few bucks by slipping it into cupcake batter, eh? I almost feel sad for vegetarians who unwittingly eat this.

BREAD

This one makes me angry. Very angry. Bread, the wholesome staple of our youth, has been horribly corrupted. A few years ago, it suddenly became very evil to eat any bread products. CARBS!! OH NO!! Yes, simple carbohydrates are mostly empty calories. Yes, eating them will not keep the hunger wolves at bay for very long. But, no, bread as a concept is not evil. What is evil is the shit that they sell as bread in today’s grocery stores. Perhaps the problem isn’t simple carbs alone. Perhaps the problem is what’s in our loaf of ‘bread’.

Ingredient number three on the above bread label is high fructose corn syrup. Why? Once again, the corn marketers have found a way to stuff us with crap. There is no place for this in our bread, my friends. Has our palate become so addicted to sugar that we need to add it to something that is sweet by nature?

We also find a list of additives that are, quite frankly, unpronounceable. I’m not a fan of eating things I can’t say aloud without sounding like I rode the short bus. Monocalcium phosphate and ammonium sulfate are commonly used chemistry set componets of industrial fertilzers. Azodicarbonamide, a bleaching agent linked to asthma, is banned in Europe and Australia, and its use can result in 15 years inprisionment (!!!!!) in Singapore. Um, what?! That’s in my bread?

Bread, as I am aware, is meant to be flour, water, salt, and yeast- with the possible addition of some kind of oil and maybe some kind of seed. My people even omit yeast sometimes!

DON’T BE FOOLED

The point of all this: beware the marketing man. Above is packaging on the bread that was previously described. The name, ‘EarthGrains Cracked Wheat,’ implies health and wholesomeness. Yet, there is more high fructose corn syrup than cracked wheat in the bread. ‘One Hundred Calorie’ packs imply that you’re doing right by your diet. Yet, you’re eating beef fat and explosives. ‘Fat Free’ Half & Half would make you think that you’re limiting calories and rocking out your health. Yet, you’re adding insecticieds to your moring coffee.

Read the labels. It might be scary, but you’ll be glad that you did.

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Baked Manicotti

Posted on July 9, 2008. Filed under: cheese, pasta, recipe |


8 Tubes Manicotti, cooked one minute short of instructed time
16 oz. Ricotta Cheese
8 oz. Mozzarella Cheese, plus extra for topping
4 oz. Parmesan Cheese, plus extra for topping
One Egg
1/4 Cup Bread Crumbs
3 Cloves of Garlic, chopped
16 oz. Tomato Sauce
Combine cheeses, garlic, egg, and bread crumbs in a bowl.  Stuff into pasta, using a spoon to get it into both ends.  Coat bottom of pan with tomato sauce, place pasta on top, add sauce over pasta, and top with extra cheese.  Bake at 400 degrees until cheese begins to melt, then broil until cheese browns.  Allow to cool a little before serving.
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