Saturday, May 28, 2011

Spiced habanero peanut butter cookies

The bread mix wasn’t the only thing my sister (who has requested that I refer to her as “the cool sister” from now on) gave me.  I also got a jar of habanero peanut butter, and what better way to try it out than to make peanut butter cookies with it?  .  

No, I'm not being sponsored by Asskickin' (not the company anyway). 

Well, I guess this is the good stuff because it separated.  The oil is red. I like how this is going so far. “Maybe they aren’t fucking around”, thought I.  I tasted a bit and indeed they are not.  I’m getting the full effect of both peanut butter and straight hot sauce.  I guess if you want to make your own you could just add some ground habanero or hot sauce to regular peanut butter.  By the by, once it’s been stirred up it doesn’t look or smell any different from regular peanut butter, which could make it awesome for playing practical jokes.  Also, you didn’t hear that from me.  This is probably a good time to mention that intentionally feeding someone something that they’re allergic to without them knowing can land you in very serious legal trouble so don’t be too much of a jerk.   

There are a million different, yet highly similar, recipes for peanut butter cookies so don’t feel like you have to use the one I’m using.  As long as peanut butter ends up baked into some sort of cookie-like confectionery you should be golden.  In my opinion, the focus of peanut butter cookies should be peanuts, so this recipe is pretty much straight peanut butter topped with peanuts. I think that actually makes it gluten-free.

You will need:
Some marriage of hot pepper and peanut butter
White sugar
Baking soda
Vanilla extract
Thai spiced peanuts (You can buy these from some grocery stores or make your own)
Butter or baking parchment
Price range: $20 - $30

The following recipe may need to be tweaked if you're using crap like Skippy but that’s really more of a problem for you than for me, isn’t it? Preheat your over to 350.  Grease or lay baking parchment on a cookie sheet.  Mix together a cup of peanut butter and a cup of sugar until it’s thoroughly blended.  If there are any lumps in the sugar try to break them up before you start mixing.  The resulting dough is really sticky and thick so stirring out any of the little bastards is a bit of a pain.  Stir in one egg in, ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon of baking powder and a pinch of salt.  Happily, I now get to revisit my favorite part of the spiced prune and cheese pudding.  Put about 1/3 of a cup of peanuts into a resealable bag, smash them up with something that your ex gave you until they’re ground to whatever consistency you desire, and stir them into the dough.  Roll the dough into balls and place them on the baking sheet.  Cookies made with this recipe don’t spread much so they don’t need that much room. Depending on how big you make them, you should get between 18 and 24 cookies.

Now lightly press a fork into each one.  This flattens them out, which makes them cook more evenly and makes them look kinda cool.

Cook them for 20 minutes. They should come out really soft.  They firmed up a bit after they cooled but not very much. I mean, they're wads of peanut butter after all.

Wow.  Peanut butter and pad thai got drunk and had a love child.  A love child that listens to punk rock, has 3 girlfriends, and is full of hot sauce.  These are wonderfully peanut buttery and sweet.  The combination of heat, thai spices, and peanut is really tasty and the texture is very pleasant.  It isn’t as strong as the beer bread but it’s still pretty hot.  They also smell like pad thai.  The effect is kind of weird but it’s not bad.   In addition to how good they taste, I think they could be really versitle.  They would be great for a chili festival or with beer and pizza or teaching roommates, pets, and rascally, Dickensian urchins a learned aversion to stealing your food.  Stay queer!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Spicy Beer Bread!

This week was pretty busy, so I didn’t have much time to scout for new recipes.  Luckily, one of my sisters gave me a late birthday gift: beer and habanero bread mix!  

My culinary equivalent of two abusive lovers unified by way of bread; what could go wrong?  As you probably noticed, it advertises that it will “Kick yo’ ass!”, and I will be very disappointed if it doesn’t deliver.  Many a beverage, sauce, or dish has promised me a mouthful of hot, fiery capsaicin, only to deliver the tiniest whimper of heat, leaving me feeling unsatisfied and ashamed.  As a nod to the time honored tradition that is drinking in the morning, the bag also has instructions for French toast too.  

You will need:
A package of Ass Kickin' Beer Bread mix
A beer. I went with Yuengling Black and Tan (Big thanks to my friend Mik for buying me a 6 pack of it earlier this week!)
A dash of cinnamon 
Butter for greasing a pan 
A tablespoon of milk(soy milk works too)
1/4 tablespoon of vanilla extract
Price Range: $10 - $20

Lightly grease the bottom of a 13 x 9 pan and preheat the oven to 350.

The bag itself contains a package of bread mix and a small packet of ground habanero. The mix itself smells like it has some kind of hot pepper in it as well.  The bag recommends putting in different amounts of the ground pepper based on how spicy you want it and there's more than enough to induce heartburn and firehole.  Naturally, I put the whole thing in.  Just add the beer and stir it all together.  The dough is really thick and gooey, like biscuit batter.  Pour it into the pan and spread it as evenly as you can.

Bake it for 50-60 minutes.  It’s done when the top is brown and crunchy.

It tastes awesome!  It has a texture like cornbread and it's really, wonderfully spicy.  The heat takes a second to hit you and builds up gradually so be careful about eating it too quickly.  It tastes great with butter and honey.  I'd also recommend having some milk on hand.  Now for the French toast.  Melt some butter in a frying pan.  Mix together one egg, a table spoon of milk, a quarter tablespoon of vanilla extract, and a dash of cinnamon.   

That’s enough to coat one slice.  Coat a slice with as much of the mixture as possible and start frying it.  Pour any excess mixture on top of it.   

Fry each side until the egg is cooked, about 2 minutes per side on medium heat did it for me.

The French toast is quite good!  It’s softer and easier to cut than normal French toast too.  The addition of the egg coating delay the heat a bit and let's you taste the toast itself. I’m really enjoying the contrast between the sweet and spicy and it's quite good with maple syrup. 

Stay queer!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Spiced Prune and Cheese Pudding

Wartime, prison time, and college are all similar, in that they will lead you to try some very odd food combinations in a desperate effort to add enough variety to your meals to ward off those cannibalistic urges  which are always, always hiding just below the surface, barely restrained by the trappings of social niceties, and which tend to become stronger when coupled with a monotonous diet.

Rationing can lead to some pretty weird recipes, some of which stick around long after better things become available.  Don’t believe me?  Look through a cookbook from the 40’s or 50’s and see how long it takes for you to find something that sounds bat shit crazy.  In a gesture indicating that she wishes I had moved out sooner, my mom sent me a recipe for spiced prune and cheese pudding, which came from some cookbook that was published in 1956. 

No, this is not like a Yorkshire pudding.  No it’s not cheddar cheese, or swiss or any other kinds of wholesome, God-fearing cheeses that all red-blooded Americans consume by the pound.  This is a dessert pudding and it’s made with cottage cheese.  They weren’t kidding when they called this "spiced pudding".  If you don’t already have the required spices then this recipe can get real pricy, real fast. Also you should stock your kitchen better.  Luckily, I do have a well stocked spice rack. I’m graduating from college this week and I need that money for beer and shenanigans.  Anyway, you will need:

Dried prunes
Nilla wafers
Chopped walnuts 
Cottage cheese
Cream or evaporated milk
A lemon
Ground cloves

Butter 1 1/5 quart casserole dish and set it aside.
The recipe says to cover ¾ of a cup of dried prunes in boiled water and simmer it for about 45 minutes, or until tender.  Coarsely chop them and remove the pits.  Luckily, packaged dried prunes these days are usually pitted and pretty tender to start with, so that step isn't strictly necessary.

Now you need to melt three tablespoons of butter and make a half cup of nilla wafer crumbs, which takes about 12 cookies.  Put them in a big resealable bag and take your frustrations out on them.  Now mix the crumbs together with the butter and set it aside. 

Measure out a half cup of chopped walnuts and set aside
Sift together 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon flour, 1/4 tsp salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and 1/8 tsp cloves. Set aside.

It says to put 1 ½ cups of cottage cheese through a sieve to strain out excess moisture. Luckily,cottage cheese technology has marched on and you probably don't need to do that. Anyway, mix it with 2 beaten eggs, a half cup of cream or undiluted evaporated milk, 1 tsp lemon juice and 1/2 tsp grated lemon peel.

Stir the dry mixture, chopped walnuts and prunes into it. 

Now it says to “Turn mixture into casserole”.  I’m going to assume that means that you should pour the mixture into the dish now.   

Everyone here agrees that it looks like vomit.  Opinion is divided as to what kind of animal it came from.

Top it with the wafer crumbs. 


Bake at 350 35-50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  I ended up cooking it for about an hour.  Serve it warm.


Oh wow…This is actually good.  It’s actually really good.  I don't like dried fruit so that's a nice surprise.  It tastes a little bit like a baked apple.  The texture is a bit like a dense cobbler crossed with a quiche.  Sorry if this description is a bit confusing.  It’s a bit hard to find relevant comparisons.  Four of my friends also tried it.  The general verdict is “It tastes nice but the texture is weird”. I guess we can now rest assured that this recipe is just as successful at staving off cannibalism today as it was in the 50's.  

Stay queer!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Baked Quail Eggs

For whatever reason, quail eggs are really easy to find in NYC.  Cheap too. For whatever reason, I'm intrigued by the prospect of eating eggs that don't come from chickens, especially if their visually distinct and/or not from an avian. Lemme give you a sense of scale compared to a chicken egg.  

Kinda cute, right?

They seem to be as versatile as chicken eggs, although you do need more of them.  Just take any recipe with eggs, multiply the amount you need by 6, and you'll be golden. For example, most quail egg omelette recipes call for 20. It's not really worth in for day to day cooking though, since a carton costs as much or a bit more than a carton of chicken eggs. This particular dish is a French hors d'oeuvre, of which there are a billion variations.  

Frozen pie crust
Carton of quail eggs
Black lumpfish caviar
Price Range: $10 - $20

You could always splurge on caviar that isn't disgusting, but obviously it'll cost more. If you're going to spread fish embryos over quail embryos, you might as well go all out, amirite? To start I need to make some mini pie crusts.

Press baking parchment into a muffin tin and put uncooked crust into it, bake for 15 minutes at 450.

Crack an egg or two (which ever fits) into the shell.  By the way, cracking these things is kind of difficult because the shells are kind of thik.  You have to sort of forcefully slap them with the blade of a butter knife and crack them in half. 

Spread baking parchment over a baking sheet and place the crusts on it.  Return it to the oven at 350 for 10 minutes.  Remove them from the oven and spread some caviar on them.

Well, this is…unremarkable.   Apparently quail eggs taste just like chicken eggs.  It’s like a poached egg in crust.  Not bad at all but nothing special.   It’s a bit like walking 3 city blocks to a restaurant, spending $15 on a semi-exotic sounding sausage dish and getting a regular hot dog with some soy sauce on it. Maybe experimenting with different toppings would improve it. The caviar is like hateful little balls of salt and I really can't recommend it. In all fairness, lump fish caviar from Key Food probably isn't the best around. Hot sauce probably would have been better. Oh well.  If nothing else you can now rest assured that there’s no reason to shy away from quail eggs. 

Stay queer!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sardine Turnovers: Sardines and pastry, together at last.

As I was merrily gallivanting through the internet, I stumbled upon this little gem (scroll down a bit):
This apparently came from some unspecified cookbook.  No word on how it tastes, so I decided to rise to the occasion.  I like sardines and turnovers but it never occurred to me to combine the two.  Fortunately, we all know that two good things are always better when combined, like guinea pigs and computer chips, or durian fruit and pate. I'm sure this will be similar.

Frozen pie crust
1 can of sardines in water
Sweet pickle relish
Lemon juice
Yellow mustard
Price range: $10 - $20

Preheat the oven at 400 degrees.

Press the moisture out of 3 tablespoons of sweet relish, which in no way resembles a discharge that pediatricians have to familiarize themselves with in order to diagnose intestinal illnesses in infants.

Drain the sardines and add them, the relish and the mustard together.

Nothin’ says lovin’ like spinal cords in the oven.  Now mix them together.

I’m not sure if this looks better or worse.

Anyway, cut a pie crust into 3X3 inch squares and put some of the mixture in the center.

Pinch the opposite ends of the square together tightly, cut some vents in the top and brush with cold milk.  If you don’t have a pastry brush, you can use your fingers.  

Near the end of this process I realized that I had too much crust left for the rest of the filling so I opted to make one big one.  Who am I to impose conformity on my turnovers?  Each is an individual and shouldn’t be forced to fit my definition of not wad-shaped!  In the picture below you may see the clumsy fumbling of an amateur, but I see the indomitable spirit of radical individuality!


Anyway, pop them into the oven at 400 for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 and bake them for another 10-12 minutes.  The finished product:

Huh, they kind of look like little mutant lemur heads.  The flavor of the mustard is a bit overpowering.  I’m actually reminded of a regular fish sandwich more than anything.  Thankfully, the cooking process robbed the sardines of their stench and fishy flavor.  I guess if you like fish sandwiches you’ll like this.  Probably not going to work that way for people who like turnovers, but hey, who knows?  I don’t think “turnover” is really the appropriate term for it.  Perhaps “fish wad” but that probably won't take off.

Stay queer!