Monday, July 31, 2006

Watermelon Salad

This recipe came from some old issue of Bon Apetit, I think. Made it today for a luncheon with my grandparents. Its the perfect thing to bring on a picnic or to a barbecue.

a big watermelon, cut into 3/4 inch pieces or balled
fresh mint, a little more than a handful, chopped
1-2 handfuls pine nuts, lightly toasted
1/4-1/2 lb ricotta salata cut into small pieces
olive oil

Toss it all together. It's really good. I promise.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Julian's Baby Back Rib Chili

I posted this recipe on my livejournal some months back before this blog existed so some of you might already be familiar with it. It's one of my all time favorite things to cook and to eat. It has been heavily adapted over the course of 15-20 tries over the past 4 years from a recipe found in an issue of GQ (my parents bought me a subscription sophomore year). I don't give measurements for most of the seasonings because I found them to be wildly inconsistent. I recommend being liberal and tasting often. This stuff is very difficult to over season.

1/4 cup olive oil
2 large yellow onions, peeled, chopped
1 bunch of celery, chopped
28 oz. tomato sauce
28 oz. diced tomatos
50-60 oz. kidney beans, drained, pureed
1 handful cocoa powder
chili powder
Worcestershire sauce
3 slabs baby back ribs
30 oz. canned corn, drained

Preheat oven to 425 F. Arrange ribs in a broiler pan and sprinkle with 1/2 tbs. each salt and pepper. Bake ribs for 30-40 minutes. Meanwhile in a large pot heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute onions and celery for 7-10 minutes or until they begin to become translucent. Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and kidney beans. Reduce heat to low and add cocoa powder, chili powder,salt and pepper, cinnamon, and Worcestershire sauce. Remove ribs from the oven and allow to rest for a few minutes. Cut slabs into 2 rib sections and add the to the pot. Allow to simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. When stirring try to scrape up any bits that get stuck to the bottom. The burned bits on the bottom are the best part. When the meat has simmered long enough it will begin to fall off the bone easily. Using tongs and a fork or whatever works best for you, remove all the bones. That part can kind of be a pain in the ass sometimes. I've found that it helps not to be impatient and try to take out the bones before they are fully ready. Stir in corn and allow to simmer for another half hour to 2 hours.

A Partial Tour of the Kitchen

Starting at the entrance to the line: There is a huge double decker brick oven both sections of which go at 450 degrees all day. Then there's the deep frier which of course is basically a big bucket of very hot oil. Next to that is the "low boy". A "low boy" is a device about a 1'6" high that has 2 very large gas burners. It's mainly used for simmering large pots of stock. To the right of that there is a roughly 5x3 grill for cooking burgers, steaks etc.. Then comes 8 eight gas burners that are far more powerful than the kind you might have in your home. They sit above 2 more ovens. Then finally there's something I don't know the name of but is basically a solid flat piece of metal that gets really hot, sort of a hole free grill. At the other end of the kitchen is the dishwasher which emits large quantities of steam. All of these things are turned on all day. Usually its not so bad but when it gets as hot as has the past few days the kitchen can be a very uncomfortable place. The temptation to linger in the walk-in refrigerator longer than necessary is great.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

I think we set a new record for people saying the words "as soon as you get a chance..." to me tonight.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Important information about spicy peppers

Today I learned a valuable lesson. I made Pico de Gallo today. It consists of tomatoes, red onions, cilantro, jalepeno peppers, lime juice, oil, salt, and pepper. I've done this many times before with no problems. I guess in the past I've always washed my hands soon after chopping the jalepenos. Never really gave much thought to it. About a half hour after I was done my hands started to tingle a little. Then a burning sensation developed. This sensation lingered without diminishing for a few hours before I finally asked Jeremy wtf is up with my hands. He said that the spicy chemical seeps into your skin and onto your nerves. It was as if my hands had eaten something too spicy. Apparently this "spicy chemical" is a base so I tried washing my hands with lemon juice and then vinegar. Both Dawn and bleach had already failed to have any effect. Unfortunately it seems I was past the point at which lemon juice and vinegar would do any good. Jason told me that "ball sweat" was the best thing to remedy this problem but I think that would have just made the situation much worse. My hands still burn, although it's been weakening over the past hour or so. Next time I chop jalepenos I'm going to wear gloves. I would encourage you to do the same, or at least wash your hands promptly because it really sucks when your hands burn for 8 hours.

Something I just realized: if you need to get back at someone REALLY bad, try rubbing some halved spicy peppers in their underwear. But please, only if they REALLY deserve it.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The other day Joe tells me that Scott (one of the owners) wants to talk to me. I was a little bit nervous but he basically just wanted to tell me about how awesome I am and then he gave me a bonus. He mentioned in our conversation that they didn't have any spare money although business was good. This coupled with the fact that Joe recently got a raise leads me to suspect that the bonus was sort of a "give him something because he's not getting the raise he deserves right now" sort of thing. Oh well.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Chef's Knife

I know at least several people who may or may not read this poor excuse for a blog are in college. These are people who are unlikely to have many kitchen tools of their own. Unless they're like me, which is unlikely, they don't need them. But probably within the next couple years they will. Everyone does eventually. This is one thing that has been said many times, and many times better before but I want to do my part to make sure that everyone knows.

The most important thing to have in any kitchen is a good quality chef's knife. Resist the temptation to buy one of those knife sets that comes with 15 knifes and cost $40-$120 at Target. Every single one of those knives is a worthless piece of shit. Those knives will become dull instantly are at best difficult and at worst dangerous to cut with. You are much better off spending $80-$100 on one knife. That knife should be a 6-10 inch chef's knife such as this one or this one. Knives like these will probably last you the rest of your life. I can't think of a better investment.

Monday, July 10, 2006

What I Know About Ice Cream

The first step in making the Ice Cream at the Jones is separate 48 egg yolks. Next you take 4 cups of sugar and caramelize it dry. The only thing in the pan is sugar, no water. Once the caramel has reached even consistency you add cream and milk to stop the caramelization. Then you cook the mixture until all of the caramel is dissolved and the mixture reaches a boil. While this is happening place the bowl of egg yolks on the pot with the caramel mixture and whisk it constantly. The egg yolks have to be warm so that when you add the boiling cream mixture they don't scramble. Be very careful not to let the yolks get to hot to fast because they might scramble. Scrambling is all around bad. When that happens you've wasted 48 eggs and have to separate another 48. Its a bad feeling. They only need to be just a little warmer than room temperature. Once they eggs are warm and the cream boiling you, with the help of a friend add the boiling cream to the eggs. One person pours, very slowly at first, the other whisks furiously. Pass the mixture through a chinoise(Every kitchen should have one. Seriously, this is one of those secret gadgets that separates restaurant food from home cooking. edit: don't buy this one though. Reviews make reasons clear.). Then it sits in an ice bath for a few hours before it's ready to be spun in the ice cream making machine.
At The Jones we use a half gallon of milk, a half gallon of cream, and four cups of sugar, but you can pretty easily use your long division skills for more reasonable batch sizes. To make something besides caramel ice cream simply don't caramelize the sugar and just boil it with the cream and milk straight them you can flavor it however you feel like.
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