Classic Dishes...


I’m sure a couple of The Four Of You have seen, a wonderful time waster that started out as a gallery of actual examples (taken out of context, of course) of Superman being, well, not so nice by modern standards.

It is in that spirit that I offer this excerpt of Christopher Kimball, founder and editor of Cook’s Illustrated magazine and host of the Cook’s Country TV show, showing his appreciation when his neighbor Axel drops in with a fresh-cooked batch of his wife’s macaroni and cheese…

<YouTube clip of Kimball berating Alex crap mac-and-cheese long since deleted.>

“Does it taste better than it looks?” “No.” And poor Axel just stands there and takes it.

See? Dick.

Now You’re Cooking

At the end of May, Fine Living Network breathed it’s last breath, and from its ashes rose Cooking Channel.

"What the hell? I’ve never even heard of Fine Living Network," I hear you say. You would not be alone. (And now you know why it folded.)

All of this is under the umbrella of Scripps Networks Interactive, who also own a good-sized chunk of Food Network.

You in the back, again, yes, speak up: "Wait a second. I used to watch Food Network. It was cooking shows all day long. This company already has a Food Network, and now they’re starting up a Cooking Channel? Again I say: what the hell?"

Exactly. Anyone whose watched Food Network lately knows that it has about as much to do with food and cooking anymore as MTV has to do with music. With the exception of anything with Alton Brown on it, it’s a lot of Sandra Lee opening cans, Guy Fieri being a douchebag, and Rachael Ray doing, erm, whatever the hell Rachael Ray does.

And so Scripps has decided to rebrand FLN as a cooking channel. Because the one they had isn’t a cooking channel anymore.

And I’ve been watching the last couple of days. Near as I can tell, Cooking Channel is about 30% new content, coupled with about 70% old shows that used to air on Food Network back when it was, um, about food. I swear sometimes it looks like they just went into the vault, whipped out a 10-year-old FoodTV aircheck, and slapped it on the VTRs.

And even at that it’s still miles better than anything Food Network has done over the last couple of years.

So when the MTV runs their course with Jersey Shore 3: Revenge of the Snooki, Yo I Herd You Like Wacky Stuff Done To Your Car, and My Awful Goddamn Special Teenage Entitled Spoiled Brat, I’ve got an idea for them: thirty years ago, you used to see these short little mini-movies that singers and bands and such would make. Sometimes there would be some dialogue, but usually it was just one of their songs playing and the band or singer would make like they were singing along while they did stuff related to the song (most of the time). You could just show those, one after the other. It would be like listening to the radio (or your iPod, for you little bastards who are still on my lawn who don’t know what radio is), except with pictures.

Get four or five people to introduce them in shifts, you’re good to go. (You couldn’t call them "DJs," though, since they’re not really playing discs. You’d need to come up with another name for them. I wonder if anything rhymes with "D.")

Boom. Cheap programming. My ideas are available for franchise opportunities.

(Yeah, I know. It’ll never work.)

What’s He Like

This is why you don’t ever want to piss off your copywriters:


Prick with a fork, indeed.

(Yes, it’s probably a ‘Shop, and some Googling indicates this picture’s been going around for at least couple of years. I don’t care. It’s still making me giggle like an idiot. :))

You Donkey

We’re in the fifth go-round of Hell’s Kitchen, right? It seems to me that the show’s been around long enough now to be established.

So why is it that none of these people can, you know, cook? And I’m not talking about highfalutin’ complicated dishes, I’m talking basic staples.

If I’m going to throw myself at the mercy of Chef Ramsay, there are three things I’m damn well going to make sure I know how to do flawlessly before I even fill out the application:

  • Cook perfect scallops
  • Make a risotto
  • Prepare Beef Wellington

Five years in, Chef has those three items on EVERY menu he’s EVER had on the show, and we still have jackbags who can’t pan-fry a freakin’ scallop. Come ON.

Look. If I’m going to be on Survivor, I’m damned well going to make sure I know how to make fire. I’m not going to go on The Amazing Race if I’m agoraphobic, because I know at least one task is going to involve being up really really high. And I’m not going to be on Big Brother unless I know how to jump into a giant salad dressed like a cucumber. (Wait, what?)

(Aside: could that BE a more frightening picture of Julie Chen? And Les Moonves has to hit that. Yikes.)

Tastes Like Burning

One of the easiest go-to topics for a food blogger with writer’s block is to coat something random in batter and throw it into a deep-fryer. However, I don’t think some folks think their cunning plan all the way through, as made evident by this bit I came across this morning about deep-fried cupcakes:

To imagine deep fried cupcakes, picture biting into a piping hot funnel cake. As you bite into the hot doughy goodness, you hit a layer of melted chocolate and then a layer of hot chocolate cake. Your bite finishes with a final hit of funnel cake dough and a splash of powdered sugar. After licking your lips, you bring them to a big smile!

…en route to the howling shrieks of pain as the first blast of post-cupcake air hits the second-degree burns now covering the inside of your mouth.

Eggs, Seen On TV

I’m watching Millionaire on GSN right now, and I just saw an ad for this.

If you don’t feel like following the link or are reading me via RSS or something, it’s an omelette pan that has a switch in the handle that makes the sides flip over and fold the thing. Valued at $70, yours today on Sale Of The Century for the low low price of just $19.99.

I have something like this in a kitchen drawer. It’s called a SPATULA.

Really, folks, is it that hard to fold a freakin’ omelette? Put in your filling, fold over the right third (with your handy-dandy $3 heat-proofed spatula), cook a little more (if you’re melting cheese or something), then slide the folded half out onto your serving plate and use the pan to fold in the other third. I just did it last night.

Plus, I can just imagine what fun it will be to clean all of the egg that oozes down into the crevices formed by the folding bits.

Going back to the previous post about People Being (Freakin’) Stupid, there must be a market for this crap or else they wouldn’t advertise it.

Schlemeel, Schlemazel

So here’s a neat site that I’m surprised I hadn’t come across sooner: how to brew your own root beer, using simple household equipment.

I’ve always thought the idea of brewing your own beer was really cool, but I don’t drink. I do love root beer, though, so when I saw this, my interest was piqued, and a short trip to the grocery later (alas, I had to make do with McCormick’s root beer extract), I was good to go.

And it worked out pretty much as advertised. Sat on the counter for three days, then I put it in the fridge overnight, and poured some today. It’s…interesting. It tastes a LOT more like regular beer (at least, what I remember beer to taste like), which prolly has to do with the fermenation of the sugar by the yeast. Definitely an acquired taste, but it was pretty easy to acquire, if you get my meaning. It’s not nearly as sweet as the stuff you get at the store, either, enough so that I might increase the sugar by 1/4 cup for the next batch just to see what happens.

I dunno if it’s gonna displace Henry Weinhard’s as the best root beer on the planet, but I finally have my own microbrewery! :)

Stock Update

The stock pot was strained into another pot, producing I’d say about six quarts of nice brown liquid. Following a bath in a sink of ice water, it has been moved to the refrigerator, where if all goes according to plan, the remaining fat will rise to the top and harden into an easily removed Frisbee-O-Lard, at which point I will reduce the remainder down to about 2/3 of its volume and call the project finished.

In the meantime, I ordered a new bookcase from Staples today, and was told that it SHOULD deliver tomorrow. Gawd, I hope so. I suppose tonight I should clean my room some and get the furniture rearranged for its arrival.

Stocked Up

So after some discussion with my friend Peter (proprietor of Static Zombie, publisher of The Game Report, and fellow foodie), I decided to try my hand at making chicken stock, following this lesson on

Since the instructor has a 20-quart stock pot, and mine is a mere 15, we had some problems from the start – namely, that I was trying to put too many veggies in there. The chickens didn’t fit. So, out came some onions, and the chickens now fit. Barely. I was not happy with the fullness of the whole thing, but there it was.

After a while, and the veggies cooked down a bit, things look much better. Once an hour passed, I fished out the carcasses (one broke neatly for me right along the breast/thigh line…since the breast meat was all I wanted anyhow, score), let them cool, and neatly plucked the breast meat off. That will become chow mein later this week.

So now I’m feeling better about the whole operation…the items in the pot have some room to breathe and release their individual goodnesses into the pot, and the liquid is definitely taking on some stocklike properties…and the stuff has six hours to simmer yet. I even threw in some peppercorns and a few bay leaves. I may need to run out later and get some cheesecloth to ensure the best strainage, though, as I suspect my colander isn’t gonna quite cut it. But the house is smelling _great_.

UPN, you just Got Served….

By now I think Iron Chef, the cooking-meets-American-Gladiators import that has become a huge hit on Food Network, had become ubiquitous enough that most people know what it is, if they don’t necessarily hop to when they hear the phrase “Allez Cuisine!”

Well, a couple years ago UPN commissioned an American version of the show, with big-time American celebrity chefs like Todd English and Roy Yamaguchi as the Iron Chefs, and William Shatner as the Chairman, the mythical originator of the whole contest. And aside from Shatner, who seems to have learned in recent years that his best performances come from simply being his own overbearing self, the whole thing stunk like that science experiment that was once meatloaf in the back of your fridge.

I’m pleased to report that Food Network tried their own hand at Iron Chef America over the weekend, and they got it dead solid perfect. Putting Alton Brown behind the announcer’s desk is Jack Nicholson / Joker-style casting, the FoodTV chefs they had representing (Wolfgang Puck, Mario Batali, and Bobby Flay, who has appeared twice on the Japanese show) were all very capable (Puck was surprisingly good), and bringing over the Japanese Iron Chefs as combatants (Hiroyuki Sakai and Masuharu Morimoto, anyhow; Chen Kenichi was in poor health and couldn’t make the trip – get well soon, Chen!) lent a sense of familiarity to the whole thing.

All in all, I recommend them heartily, and if you didn’t get the chance to see them this weekend, FoodTV is running them every night this week at 11:00P. Fire up the TiVo. :)