Keep your eyes peeled for an easter egg video to how to make your own chili powder…
Keep your eyes peeled for an easter egg video to how to make your own chili powder…
One of those times where I just mix a bunch of stuff together and it turns out all right.
If your special event doesn’t include a specialty cocktail made specifically for your event, then you, my friend, don’t know what the word “celebration” means. This is just one man’s opinion, of course, and not every word out of my mouth is applicable to every person and nor should it be. For example, the previous sentence, because OF COURSE a specially-made hand-crafted libation makes EVERY event better. And for those of you who don’t drink, well…I guess we’re just not made to ever understand each other.
A great friend of mine that I spent two years with in a hellhole of a law firm graduated from Columbia Law School and passed the bar in Washington D.C., and I decided that I would cook her dinner in honor of her fabulous success. This dinner that comprised of Drunken Noodles and Shrimp Shumai took place around my birthday, and to celebrate that my friend bought me a bottle of Hendrick’s Gin (which is a pretty nice gin).
Also for my birthday, my girlfriend got me a sort of sexy Swiss Army Knife of bartending that came with a corkscrew, zester, knife, and a strainer, among other things. All in one neat, little package.
I think I’m pretty easy to buy a gift for as I am always enthusiastic for gifts that get me drunk or that aid me in that endeavor. So in honor of two of the neatest women that I am thankful to have in my life, I concocted a drink that would use both of their gifts (and suggested flavors as my girlfriend also chose some of the other ingredients), and I named this drink after them.
(Pronounced like Dine-Ken.)
– Hendrick’s Gin
– Ginger Ale/Beer
– Cucumber Soda
– Juice of half a Lemon
– Juice of half a Lime
– Dash of Bitters
The gin doesn’t HAVE to be Hendrick’s, but it would be a shame not to use it if available. It is a fine gin, very smooth and infused with rose and cucumber, which helps it go into the cucumber soda quite nicely. However, cucumber soda can be a little dry depending on the brand, and when mixed with gin, the flavor can get a little sharp. Hence the ginger ale, which not only adds hints of ginger to the mix but also a bit of sweetness.
The cocktail is wonderful when the weather is hot, which is exactly what it was on the day that I had been standing in the kitchen for hours making the shumai.
Unfortunately, I was not able to make the drink for my friend that night, and she has since moved to D.C. so this is the only way I have to share the cocktail with her. It’s yummy, bubbly, and packed full of gratitude and exaltation.
Dedicated to Dynamite Dinah and Krazy Kenisha.
So warm, soft, crispy and cheesy it’s almost stupid.
With every single recipe I create, I am positive that I have just cooked the most ridiculous thing I could have ever concocted. But oh, how time makes fools of us all. Sometimes what I make doesn’t really pan out (I’m so close to make a cooking pun here, but I just can’t get a grasp on it). Sometimes the recipes aren’t original enough. I don’t want to simply post my version of chocolate cake of chicken carbonara because it’s boring. You don’t come here for a boring, nouveau-fusion, “let’s add mango to our salsa!” recipe; you come here for exciting, out-of-left-field, “let’s fill this mango with salsa and then cover it in maple syrup!” recipes. Most of the time, however, the ideas I come up with have already been created by others. Just last weekend, I thought I had an original idea of bacon-wrapped bananas until I discovered that not only are there a slew of bacon-banana recipes, but some of them did things with the dish I would never have dreamed of (such as making chocolate-covered, maple bacon bananas). So it’s not surprising that my recipes are absurd to the point of being grotesque; after the failures, other people getting there first, and my own crazed creative standards, the ridiculous is all that’s left.
Case in point: this goddamn recipe. I’ve been making Shrimp n’ Grits ever since my girlfriend incessantly bugged me to make it for her about a year and a half ago. Earlier this year, my girlfriend started bugging me to make her polenta.
Hmmmmm. Maybe I’m not innovative, but rather my girlfriend just annoys me a lot.
Upon producing said polenta, I realized that grits and polenta are pretty much the same thing. Each uses cornmeal, each go well with shrimp, each can be chilled and fried –
And thus a recipe was born! Prepare yourselves for the insane meeting of Italy and the American South which, if going by racial stereotypes alone, would be one of the rowdiest, drunkest, sexiest, and delicious weddings ever!
Fried, Grit-filled Polenta, or Polengritsa for short
I even stuffed the word “Grits” into the word “Polenta” . . . I’M BANGING ON ALL CYLINDERS OVER HERE!
– 2 cups of Cornmeal
– 4 cups of Chicken Stock
– 2 cups of Whole Milk (After drinking whole milk, I shall never go back. It’s the rare steak of milk.)
– 2 cups of Water
– 1 stick of Butter
– 6 oz of Cheddar Cheese
– 6 oz of Parmesan
– 3 tsp of Salt
– 4 thick strips of Bacon
– 4 thick strips (or equivalent) of Prosciutto
– ¾ cups of Red Onion (chopped)
– 1 tsp of Black Pepper
– 1 – 2 Jalapenos (chopped)
– Olive Oil
– Vegetable Oil
– Fresh Parsley (chopped)
Once again, I used Alton Brown’s recipes for making the actual grits and polenta. They are both insanely easy to make as long as you have some patience, a little focus, and a whisk. I did do some things differently, however. When tasted side-by-side, grits and polenta are similar and yet distinct; grits are creamier while polenta is more porridge like. Yet when they are smashed together and fried in bar-form, it can be a challenge to distinguish the differences between the two, so I decided to modify them each a tad.
I used more cheddar and parmesan than the recipes state, although you’ll want to save some of each for later.
It’s still tough to tell them apart in the final dish, although everyone I served it to didn’t seem to mind; some didn’t really know the difference between grits and polenta, some had never had either, and some slipped into a food coma before they were able to say anything. I’ll take my success where I can get it, ignorance and incapacitation be damned.
Once finished, this thing is pretty outrageous and embodies the word “Contrast”. Light, crispy, and cheesy on the outside, and dense, creamy, and soft on the inside. Sweet and spicy bacon bits in the middle, salty prosciutto on the edge. The parmesan crust and the gooey cheddar layers. The thing is quite heavy, so I wouldn’t go building a meal around it. If anything, maybe a small salad with a balsamic vinaigrette. I might try these again but make them smaller and more manageable, but for now I say, “Go big or go home.”
Enjoy! (FYI – Be on the look-out for that salsa-filled, maple syrup mango.)
Thanks to my friends Dan Forcade and Elliot Grossman for acting as taste-testers!
Deep-fried candy, but in a good way.
There are times I want to say that I am so talented and prolific, all I need is a pen and paper and I can create art that is moving, entertaining and insightful. Then I remember that the name of my particular muse is χαζή τύχηm, which is Greek for “dumb luck”, and my delusions of grandeur just fly right out the window. Case in point: this is another recipe idea I got from my inability to type. While chatting online with a friend while we were talking about Chinese food, I meant to type “eggrolls” but instead typed “eggrolos”.
And thus, a new creation was born.
For those of you who don’t know about Rolos (meaning that your childhood was a loveless pit of despair and lamentation), they are a simple candy of milk-chocolate coated caramels. They were sweet, every so chewy, and came wrapped in gold-colored foil, encased in a paper tube.
Deep-fried Rolos are not a new invention (as people who attended the 2011 Arkansas State Fair can attest to), but to put it in the form of an eggroll helps to subtract the American tradition of frying every food beyond recognition, and add a little international flare to the dish. And because a mentor of mine once said, “Nic, the ONE time you DON’T half-ass a job is when you’re just fucking around”, I couldn’t simply take Rolos, wrap them in eggroll wrappers, and then cook the suckers. No, I had to make the caramel and the chocolate myself, and then get to frying.
This dish was daunting and intimidating once all the ingredients were laid out before me. But because you can never learn to fly without jumping off of a cliff, there’s no other option but to dive in head first and hope you sprout wings before you fall to your death.
– 14 ½ oz. Sugar
– ½ cup of Water
– ½ cup Light Corn Syrup
– ¼ tsp. of Cream of Tartar
– 1 ¾ cups of Heavy Cream (room temperature)
– 2 tsp. of Soy Sauce
– 10 tbsp. of Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
– 1 tsp. Sea Salt
– 8 oz. of Milk Chocolate Morsels
– Vegetable Oil
– Eggroll Wrappers (So I didn’t make everything from scratch; I’m an artist, not Chef Chu from Eat Drink Man Woman.)
– Confectioners Sugar
This recipe scared me half to death. Melting sugar is always very scary to me as it is the culinary version of napalm, and things can go from okay to horrible in a matter of moments. As a cook, I’m a guy who flies by the seat of his pants most of the time, not knowing what the final dish is going to be until I put it on my plate and eat it. Candy is more of an exact science: keep the mixture at 233° for 32.12289984 minutes, and then turn the heat up to 450° for 4 seconds, and then add salt, then take it out, then add hard water, then document the results and publish them in an accredited scientific journal. All of these strict guidelines can be frightening to a new candy-cooker, but there is also comfort in them as you don’t have to think about anything. Just follow the directions to the letter, and you’ll be okay.
The final product came out pretty much like I expected, but the reality of it had much more impact than I had imagined; hot, crispy and crunchy lightness on the outside; warm, gooey and sweet decadence on the inside. Serve with some small scoops of vanilla ice cream, or if you are brave, try dipping them into soy sauce which will add some saltiness to the party, making the flavors more complex. Either way, your diners are in for a pleasant surprise.
A new recipe embodying New Orleans for the new year.
NEW CAMERA OBTAINED! No more blurry, undefined blobs of color! No more apologizing, or insisting that, yes, that really is mac n’ cheese instead of a bowl of orange paint! Finally, the pictures of my recipes will match the quality of my writing (at least that’s what I tell myself). I wish I could say I was able to buy the new camera because of money I made via this blog, or an acting gig, or some other creative endeavor; in truth, I just strong-armed my grandmother in spending a couple of hundred dollars on one by saying I never get presents anymore.
But enough of my manipulation of family members; let’s get to the chow. Being creole (along with filipino, polish, austrian, german and native american – I might even be russian; once you reach four different ethnicities, the goal is to claim as many as you can ), gumbo always marked a special occasion in my household. For those of you who don’t know what gumbo is and are therefore leading sad, empty lives, it’s a kind of hefty, spicy soup from Louisiana that is served over rice. There is no one standard recipe, but it usually includes fried chicken, andouille sausage, okra and shrimp. When I started cooking for myself like a big boy, gumbo was on the top of my “Learn How To Make This” list, and now it’s all my family wants me to make.
But I don’t want to tell you how to make gumbo; you can get recipes all over the internet, and that’s just not hardcore enough. After some heavy pondering (and heavy drinking, let’s not deny it) I came up with this:
Not a hot dog. Not a chili-dog. Not a chili-cheese dog. A GUMBO dog. And not just any hot dog, but a hot link.
Now sit down and get ready for the stupidly awesome to fill your mouth.
Jumbo Gumbo Dog
– 1-2 lbs of Chicken Meat
– Corn Starch
– Powdered Garlic
– Cayenne Pepper
– Black Pepper
– Vegetable Oil
– 1 Cup of Onion (Chopped)
– 1 Cup of Green Pepper (Chopped)
– ¾ Cup of Celery (Chopped)
– 2-3 Jalapenos (Chopped or Sliced)
– Tsp Garlic (Minced)
– 1 lbs of Andouille Sausage (Cubed or Sliced)
– 7 Cups of Chicken Stock
– Rice (Jasmine, if possible)
– Hot Link (at least one)
– French Bread or Baguette
This recipe comes in two stages: 1) – Make Gumbo; and 2) Pour Gumbo Over Hotlink. For the first stage, I’m going to refer you to the recipe that I learned from – Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo – as it’s basically what I still use today. As far as the second stage, there’s not much to go into:
Look, I never said it was going to be the most complex recipe in the world (although if you think making gumbo is a walk in the park, you’re crazy), nor did I say it was 100% all my recipe. But I think I get a couple of points for being the first to come up with the idea, at least to my knowledge and what time I spent looking for it on the internet. I will talk about some things that I do differently from Chef Paul, however.
Shout out to my friend and fellow-blogger Zack Keller for being my co-chef and photographer while I held the gumbo dog. I have many more recipes of both food and drink planned, and each will come with HD pictures shot by my brand new camera! Hell, I may even go back and remake some of my old recipes just to get you guys better shots…after I finish cleaning up my kitchen since making gumbo is messy work. And then after I have a drink. And then another. You know, let’s just say it’d be a nice idea.
Dedicated to my grandparents Dorothy and Tony Frantela
A Meaty, Sweet & Savory, Guilty Pleasure Recovery Meal
Phew. All this drinkin’ catches up with a man. Unless you’re incredibly lucky (or unlucky, depending on your view of things), we all have had to deal with the after-effects of a hardcore party. Queeziness, headaches, slow reflexes, etc. And it’s times like those that you want food that tastes good, is easy to eat, will fill your stomach, and give you back some shred of dignity. What I’ve made will help you with those first three; you have no chance with the fourth because someone took pictures of you trying to make out with that floor lamp and we’ve all seen them.
Hair of the Dog Noodles
– 8 oz of Wide Ride Noodles
– Pack of Bacon
– 4 oz of Sausage/Ground Pork
– 4 Eggs
– 1-2 Bulbs of Shallots (Sliced)
– 1-2 Garlic (Minced)
– Handful of Chives (Chopped)
– 5-6 Large Mushrooms (Sliced)
– Soy Sauce
– Maple Syrup
– Shot of Jack Daniels
This is essentially a Drunken Noodle recipe, but some ingredients have been changed to make it more breakfasty and American. It’s also not going to be as spicy as your run of the mill Drunken Noodles since I’ve taken out the Thai Chilis; a hot pepper is just enough to push that hangover nausea to a full-blown “Can I make it to the toilet before I BLAAARRRGGGG?!!” moment.
A note on the noodles – The kind of noodles I use are wide rice noodles (also sometimes labeled as rice sticks), an Asian noodle available in any Asian market, or online, if those kinds of markets aren’t in your area. In the end, any Asian noodle will do; just don’t use normal pasta.
Yes, it does matter; stop arguing with me. Never argue with a chef, especially if he’s drunk.
Now, I know this seems like some reject from Epic Meal Time, but once the dish is made, it’s not all that; the amount of noodles helps spread out all the protein, syrup and liquor. What you end up with is something that is equally sweet and savory, crispy and soft, simply delicious and ‘who gives a crap as long as it helps with the hangover?’ My roommate, who ate much of the finished dish, stated that it was the perfect hangover meal because it was easy to eat. I think he meant that you didn’t have to do any hard work to consume it, like peel any fruit . . . or, like, chew it. Every single bite will taste like glorious mix of every breakfast you’ve ever had. Not for the vegetarian, nor the health-conscious, but perfect for a household full of drunks after a wild and crazy house party.
Okay, so it’s just chop suey. I just figured out how to make chop suey. Whoop-dee-doo! But I figured it out on my own without looking it up. That’s how much of a genius I am; I create age old dishes completely on my own.
It actually bummed me out when I went online and did less than five minutes of research with google and discovered that what I thought would usher in a new era for veggie-only and gluten-intolerant folks (Vegetable Pasta! Pasta, made out of vegetables! I am a pioneer, a goddamn innovator, a fucking trailblazer!) was actually invented in the 1800’s. I feel like a grandparent who calls up his grandson to ask, “Hey Billy, have you heard about this MySpace thing?”
Still, I’m going to put the recipe down as I don’t have anything else right now and I took all these damn pictures (still have a shitty camera though, sorry). Plus, the possibilities for this dish are somewhat insurmountable so it might be good to know anyway.
Vegetable Pasta (Chop Suey)
– Zucchini (also called Italian Squash, apparently)
– Carrot (also called the Orange Killer of the North)
– Red Pepper (also called Dave)
– Onion (also called Onion)
– Eggplant (I normally try to go for a Chinese or Japanese Eggplant for this, but they didn’t have any good ones at my local foodmart so I had to go with the White Eggplant which just looks like a very large bean to me.)
You can use any vegetables that you want, but long thin ones work best if you want that pasta effect. Also shy away from the starchier stuff as it would take a lot longer to cook than the other stuff.
That’s it, basically. How you cook it is up to you and up to the style you want. Stir-frying with some garlic and ginger will give you the Asian flair. If you want a more Italian theme, fry the onions and red pepper with some garlic, boil the carrots, leave the squash and eggplant alone (they don’t need to cook just to be heated, which a sauce can do) and pour over some tomato sauce and cheese. You could even leave everything raw, throw in some olives and asparagus, drizzle on a vinaigrette and have a salad you can twirl onto a fork. And if you don’t feel like being vegan-friendly or gluten-free, throw some shrimp in that stir-fry! Put sausage in the tomato sauce, and use actual pasta too. Cut up some barbequed chicken into that salad.
As for me, I did a stir-fry this time with my own sauce.
– 3 Tbs. Hoison Sauce
– 2 Tbs. Sweet Chili Sauce
– 1 Tbs. Soy Sauce
– ½ Tbs. Sesame Oil
– ½ Tbs. Crushed Ginger
– ½ Tbs. Crushed Garlic
– ½ Tbs. Black Pepper
Then you put it into a bowl, dash on some sesame seeds and throw in some pine nuts. I also ate it with some broiled white fish. It may not be innovative, but it sure is tasty.