Jan 20 2011

FrappoChino

Published by Brady Bonk under Potables

Today’s hint from Abelard: Do not throw that old coffee down the drain. If you do, you are denying yourself the pleasure of a delicious iced coffee. I have been working on getting the mix and method correct. I think I’ve got it.

You will need two tumblers, a glass or two, a straw or straws, a fork, one cup of coffee (meausured), 1/3 a cup of half-and-half, and two tablespoons of sugar.

Mix the ingredients in one of the tumblers and stir vigorously with the fork. Then, roll the ingredients using your two tumblers, about ten times. The challenge here is to get the sugar fully incorporated into the liquid.

Then, fill one of the tumblers with ice. Continue rolling, working the beverage into the ice. Roll about five times.

Pour and serve.

Milk will work with this obviously, but if you’re trying to achieve a consistency like what you get when you buy that Starbuck’s beverage at your local 7-11, you’ll want to use half-and-half.

As indicated by the recipe, this method will create two drinks (the ice adds lots of volume). So impress a friend.

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Nov 30 2010

Manwich Is A Girly Man

Published by Brady Bonk under Pantry-Friendly

Do not buy Manwich. Do not buy Manwich ever again.

You may very well have everything you need in your pantry right now to make “sloppy joes” that will make a “manwich” taste flat and stupid.

Here is the recipe, so simple and yet so lively and wonderful that you are going to hit yourself in the back of the head for days for not having this recipe in your possession before right this minute, via Edibles and Economics via Alton Brown:

1 onion, cut up

1 teaspoon garlic

1 pound hambuger

Brown all together then drain (ahem…or not…).

Add 1 cup ketcup, 1 cup water with 1/4 cup brown sugar dissolved, and 1 tablespoon molasses. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and wait to thicken.

*

I would only add that half a red pepper diced adds some awesome color and flavor. And other peppers you might have sitting around might add a bit of heat.

By the way, this method, with the ketchup and the brown sugar and the mole-asses? What a great meatloaf glaze it is.

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Nov 25 2010

Brady Bonk’s Definitive Kick-Ass Glühwein Recipe

Published by Brady Bonk under Potent Potables

The Booze:
One bottle (one-fifth of a gallon, 750 ml, or 25 fl. oz., or three cups) of red wine, preferably cheap and Cabernet. Boxed wine such as Almaden is excellent for this, as are fifth or magnum bottles of Concha Y Toro.
¾ Cup of Brandy
¼ Cup of Triple Sec

Pour these into a slow-cooker set to “high” or into a stock pot over medium heat. Add one-quarter cup of sugar and stir. Continue heating. Stir occasionally to dissolve the sugar.

Slice an orange at its equator. In each half, make small incisions, about five circling the pole and about eight circling the equator. Into each incision, spike a whole clove. Place the orange halves into your concoction.

Also throw in two tea bags of Constant Comment herbal. Two tea bags should cover you whether you’re doubling or tripling the recipe, as should the two oranges.

If you’d like your glühwein to have a bit of extra bite, that is to say, if you are especially fond of tasting this concoction with the taste buds in your throat, add one-half of a lemon.

Cook it until it’s hot. This should take at least an hour. Do not let it boil. As the chef, you are in the enviable position of being authorized to taste test. You will know when it’s ready.

The ideal way to use this recipe I think is to start with a triple recipe in a slow cooker, then to supplement it as the batch gets low—as it inevitably will—by heating a single batch of the boozes and the sugar in a saucepan, then adding it. This may keep your crowd happily in the glühwein well into the evening.

Warning: My glühwein has been known to really mess up peoples’ Thanksgivings. This stuff is delicious, yet utterly potent. For extra fun, crank up the brandy quotient from “3/4 cup” to “one cup.” But only do so if you know you are dealing with professionals or if you despise your company.

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Nov 04 2010

Scratch Soup

Published by Papa Bonk under Soup

I was going to the store to get dinner when I decided to look in the fridge. I found chicken stock and a bunch of stuff that was begging to be used. This included the last cauliflower from the garden and a bell pepper and French onion dip. HMMMM. I have a lot of garden potatoes and onions and garlic, of course. I decided to save the gas and make a soup.

I started with the chicken stock and added a chopped medium onion and cauliflower, chopped bite size, and potatoes, diced small. Then spices: garlic, paprika, cumin, thyme and curry. I am fairly generous with spices, call it a tablespoon of the paprika and curry; teaspoon of the cumin and thyme, two tablespoons of garlic. Also salt.

Every summer I pickle peppers from the garden. These are a mix of banana, poblano and jalapena. so the mix has a little kick, although not as much as you might expect because the jalapena here is fairly mild. The peppers are cut up and bottled in hot vinegar with a little sugar. I use this stuff to enhance a lot of things, chili and baked beans, for example. I threw in a lot of this… maybe a third of a cup, including the vinegar.

Cook it until the veges are about done and then put in the bell pepper, diced. Cook a little more.

I happened to have a French onion dip that was definitely in need of a home. It was excellent dolloped on top the soup.

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Oct 16 2010

Soup

Published by Brady Bonk under Pantry-Friendly,Soup

So. You warm a quarter-cup of olive oil in a medium saucepan. You open up two cans of sweet peas and you stir them in. In goes one tablespoon each of garlic powder and onion powder and one teaspoon each of kosher salt and pepper. Then, one can of chicken broth. Have at it with an immersion blender. Bring to a boil and simmer for five minutes.

You just made one kick-ass pea soup. A very pantry-friendly dish. Thanks to cooks.com.

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Oct 03 2010

Technical Difficulties

Published by Brady Bonk under Sure Why Not

My apologies for some missing posts. I have reverted back to an old Web host. As can happen in doing so, some things have been misplaced. I shall work on updating posts as best I can. Sorry…

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Jul 23 2010

The Whiskey Research Project

Published by Papa Bonk under Potent Potables

In commerce, hype is everything. Nowhere is that truer than in the market for booze. I grew up drinking Stag beer, which many people said was crap, but I always thought actually tasted like beer, being yeasty and full bodied compared to Budweiser or PBR (the redneck favorite). I never understood the popularity of Coors, which in 1975 was THE beer to drink.

So it is with Whiskey. The new thing is expensive single malt American whiskey. You can spend a lot of money buying premium names like Bullett and Woodford Reserve, and I have to say they are wonderful drinking. But I am cheap and I am a contrarian, so I have begun exploring less expensive alternatives.

I was paging through the complementary play book for the 1960 Democratic National Convention (my brother found it at a yard sale) when I spotted an advertisement for Old Crow, touted as a premium American whiskey. This makes it clear that at one time in our history certain American brand products were regarded as “premium” regardless of whether they failed over time to maintain that brand identity. Today, many people would have you believe they are crap. In fact, those whiskies are still here, untouted and ignored, sitting in the cheap seats waiting to be appreciated.

Old Crow is named for the gentleman who first distilled it in Kentucky back in the day. Mr. Crow is distinguished for being the first distiller to actually apply basic quality control to his product so that one bottle tasted pretty much like the next. The passage of time has not been good for the brand, and it has been hard to find. The industry blogs report that the original Old Crow is what is now sold as Jim Beam White Label, which I can report is a pretty passable drink. Recently, however, I found a bottle of Old Crow Reserve which sells for about $14 a quart, and am here to report is it good stuff… maybe my favorite among the old American masters. It is rich, dark and flavorful. I like to thin it out with an ice cube or two. Here are some others I have explored.

Jim Beam Black Label is about $22 a quart and quite respectable. It’s smoother than Jack Daniels but maybe not as rich. Also two ice cubes. (I am very fond of Black Jack, and it’s more expensive single malts. It is probably the gold standard among American whiskies, but because it has not lost it’s brand presence, I did not consider it a part of the research project.) As I mentioned above, Jim Beam White is a most pleasant drink. Light and smooth, with a little of the caramel you get with the Black Label. You can take this one neat. It’s about $16.

Old Granddad regular and Old GrandDad IV both deserve a little respect. The IV, which retails for around $25 is the richer of the two, thick and nutlike and in definite need of ice. Old Grandad regular is has a little bitter root with the nutlike flavor, and can be taken neat, although one ice cube is good. It sells for about $16.

One other whiskey will l get special mention… Old Overholt, about $16 a quart is silky and subtle. It’s one of the original American rye whiskies and deserves better respect than it usually gets. It’s fine neat.

I started the research project more than a year ago and have had an opportunity to sample many fine American bourbons and ryes. I only found one I did not abide… Rittenhouse. I did not dip into the bottom shelf too much. For example, Ten High has been avoided, as has anything that sells in a plastic bottle.

Some other names that have been appreciated include: George Dickel, W.L. Weller, Evan Williiams and Eliah Craig. I also tested some Canadian whiskies, including Canadian Club and Seagrams 7, both of which are fine. I have in mind to extend the research project to a special Canadian edition. Maybe next year.

I should note that whiskey research is best conducted in the company of friends. Thanks to Brady and his lady, Uncle Hat and Dick E for their invaluable support.

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May 17 2010

This John Thorne Fellow Is A Genius

Published by Brady Bonk under Sure, Why Not?

I have for a long time been in search of the perfect recipe for macaroni and cheese.

I have found it at long last. On the “Internet.” From culinary writer John Thorne. I hope he won’t mind if I reprint this amazing recipe.

John Thorne’s Macaroni and Cheese

Title: John Thorne’s Macaroni and Cheese
Yield: 6 Servings
Categories: Pasta, Side Dishes

Ingredients:

1/2 lb Elbow macaroni
4 tb Unsalted butter;, cut into
-bits
1 ds Tabasco sauce
1 cn (12 oz) evaporated milk
1 lb Sharp cheddar cheese;,
-grated
2 lg Eggs;, beaten
1 ts Dry mustard; dissolved in 1
-tsp water
2 ts Salt
Pepper
Toasted Bread Crumbs; (CI
-version)
1 c Fresh bread crumbs
1 pn Salt
1 1/2 tb Unsalted butter;, melted

Preheat oven to 350. Boil the macaroni until just barely done in salted
water. Drain and toss with the butter in a large, ovenproof mixing bowl.
Mix the Tabasco into the evaporated milk. Reserving about 1/3 cup, stir the
milk into the macaroni, then add 3/4 of the cheese, the eggs and the
mustard. When well combined, season to taste with salt and pepper and set
the bowl in the oven. Every five minutes, remove it briefly to stir in some
of the reserved cheese, adding more evaporated milk as necessary to keep
the mixture moist and smooth. When all the cheese has been incorporated and
the mixture is nicely hot and creamy (which should take 20 minutes all
told), serve at once with a plate of toasted common crackers to crumble
over.

>From Simple Cooking, 1987, ISBN 0-670-81212-9

*

The lovely part of this recipe, you see, is in the bowl-baking and the intermittent stirring. This method brings an incredible texture, creamy and custardy, just perfect. Also nice touches are the dash of Tabasco (I actually used four dashes) and the dry mustard, which offered a subtle ZING.

I improvised the topping, bread crumbs and crumbled saltines sautéed in butter and oil. Five minutes under a low broiler and that stuff is crrrrrrispy.

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Apr 23 2010

Why Watch a Movie That Pisses Me Off

Published by Papa Bonk under Movies

I am only writing this movie review because I sat up too late watching this stupid movie and am more pissed off this morning than I was last night when I was being insulted by it. Another lesson in Don’t Buy The Hype!

Australia has a popular cast. Hugh Jackman is popular for a lot of bad movies, but I watch anything with Nicole Kidman in it… except I walked out of a couple of her more egregious violations of good taste… Eyes Wide Shut, in particular. I did not walk out of the Ballywood extravaganza, but it put me to sleep pretty quick.

I had read one review calling this movie the “next Gone With the Wind” and apparently the director was nominated for an Academy Award. Beware the hype.

The direction is not, in fact, too bad, if you are not unnerved by the change in style from John Ford to WWI Propaganda movie to 1950 Disney epic. The worst part was the sheer insult to your intelligence.

The initial premise (and it tends to meander so I say the initial premise) is that the war has started and two cattle companies are competing to sell their herds to the military. The first one to get the cows to market wins the contract. ARE YOU KIDDING! World War II is happening. Milliions of soldiers need to be fed! There is no need to compete. In fact our heroine and her plucky but eccentric band of cattle wranglers would have been better off to wait a week or two for the price to go up. You have to accept the premise… its only a movie. Truly, only a teaparty grandpa would accept a premise so stupid.

Then there is the Mission School which is on an Island placed directly in the path of the Japanese invasion, and to which the adorable and spritely half breed aborigine boy, dear to Nicole Kidman who cannot herself have children, and one of the plucky wranglers, is sent because all aboriginal children are confiscated and sent to Mission School (this apparently is true). The truly evil bad guy warns Nicole prior to the air raid “He’s right in the path of the Japanese..”… and only a short sail from town. Did I say air raid? Yes, the denoument is the Japanese bombing of Darwin. And how did the truly evil bad guy know that?

You know the fact about the short sail to the island is true (and annoying because in fact the Japanese never landed within 500 miles of Australia) because Hugh Jackman and his trusty Aborignal sidekick confiscate a sail boat after the air raid and go to the island to rescue the boy. Now we have a moment right out of a Lloyd Nolan WWII propaganda pic. With dozens of boys discovered alive, they must all swim for the boat. But they encounter an invading Japanese force which is held off by the loyal Aboriginal, buying time for Hugh Jackman. Before the men part, of course, the wise aboriginal sidekick justifies Jackman … who could as easily have held the Japs off while the sidekick saved the boys… by telling Jackman to take care of Jackman’s family, the thing for which Hugh has been searching all movie and which includes the Aboriginal sprite and Nicole Kidman. Thus, Jackman swims the children in darkness toward the waiting boat and gets the kids aboard just as the brave sidekick is gunned down by the evil Japanese.

If there was any satisfying moment in the movie it was the last scene,which was telegraphed to us some where in the first half hour of the movie. It’s a confrontation between the truly evil bad guy and the wise and wonderful Aboriginal shaman who is also the grandfather of the adorable sprite. You know the bad guy is going to get his, and when you see him working up a fury over the fact that the adorable sprite, just landed from the terrifying ordeal on the island and reunited with Nicole and Hugh, still lives, and you see him grab up his rifle and start to aim, and you know the wise old shaman is perched on the water tower just over his left shoulder…. Well that’s Hollywood.

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Apr 10 2010

Yes, I Am a Wine Snob

Published by Papa Bonk under Wine Snob At Home

It is probably true that we would all like to have the luxury of not worrying about the cost of wine. Wouldn’t we all like to drink Chateau Neuf De Pape and Lafitte Rothschild every day? At the same time the joy of buying wines is, in part, finding good wines at bargain prices. As Calvin Trillin said, any fool can buy a good $20 wine. The trick, is finding one for $7. (In the interest of accuracy, I am not putting this in quotes, because I don’t have the source for it, although I think it was in an article he wrote for the Washington Post years ago.)

I enjoy the pursuit of cheap wine and often give my best cheap wine finds as gifts on the theory that I am not just giving wine, but information. “Here,” I say, “Is a really good wine that will not cost you a fortune. I couldn’t buy a better wine at three times the price. Enjoy and buy more.”

Most of what I learned about wine over the years I got from a good friend who was one of the great connoisseurs. The first time we met, drinking at Timberlakes, he was talking about a case of 1982 Margaux he had recently purchased. The first case of wine I ever bought, a 1974 Portugese wine that was overstocked and selling for under $5 a bottle, was at his direction.

We talked a lot about wine over the years, drank a lot of excellent stuff from his cellar, I read some and learned what I like. I made it my goal to find the best cheap wines known to man. There have been some excellent finds over the years. Santa Rita Reserve 1999, which sold for $8, was spectacular. We drank three cases before the stock ran out. An Australian white called Yellow Tail sold for $5 when we first spotted it in the late 1980s, and doubled in a year. We were drinking Old Vine Zins before the world found them and the price exploded.

Here is what I look for in a wine: Good color, a rich purple is a good sign. It should have legs… i.e. it should cling to the side of the glass when you slosh it around. It should smell good. Most importantly it should be “well made.” By that I mean it should have no funny flavors added, like vanilla, which is often added to some Chardonnay’s to make them sweet and immediately flavorful for the mass market, or Oak, a rich aftertaste that is popular but which I can’t stand.

I like big wines (with a rich fruity taste) and complicated wines (lots of different, but distinct flavors) but mostly I like wines that match well to food.

There are some basic rules to buying good, cheap wines. They are:

  • Avoid overhyped markets. I never buy French wines unless I am buying a vintage case, which I expect to cost $30 or more a bottle. If it’s French and cheap is it probably not well made. (At least you need to know more than I do to find well-made cheap French wines.)
  • I seldom buy California, I think the market is over priced and a lot of what used to be good is being cheapened by mass production. There are still some bargains to be had from BV, and Bob Mondavi (now in the Constellation constellation) and Gnarly Head and Cline. (I like their Zins, although I have not had Cline in a while and can’t vouch for it). There are a lot of unknowns in this market and I am betting the cheap ones are not good ones.
  • Buy from Italy, Spain, Portugal, Chili and Argentina. Wines from these countries are expertly made by vintners with an eye on old world values who care about quality first. If I pay $9 for an Italian wine I don’t know, I am seldom disappointed. There are some very good Australian wines, but I think they often take commercial shortcuts and am not as happy with the Australian style of wine as I am with the more old world products.
  • I like wines from Washington and Oregon, and anytime you can find one for under $10 it is likely to be good.
  • I seldom, hardly ever and only on a very reliable recommendation, buy Chardonnay, which has been ruined in the effort to make it palatable to the mass market. (A good Chard is crisp and fruity and not sweet or vanilla tasting, and is very hard to find.) For whites I buy Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio, which is getting hard to find for under $12, Chanin Blanc or Sauvignon Blanc (the best of these are French and hard to buy for under $12.)
  • I never never never buy White Zinfandel.
  • Here are some things I have been buying lately:

  • Los Vascos Cabernet: I have been buying this Chilean wine for years and it is always reliable. The wine is fruity, has a nice finish, just what you would expect from a Rothschild estate. and it is just $7.99.
  • Vitiano Cabernet, Sangiovese Merlot, 2008. Italian from Umbria with nice body, excellent color, great with red sauces…$8.99
  • Orobio, 2005.. Rioja Complex, fruity, delicious. and $10.99
  • Este Cabernet de bodegas Alto Almanzora, a Spanish table wine, (no vintage) is a very big and fruity wine that goes well with any hunk of meat you might want to cook. $8.99

  • Sangiovese Di Moja Norante 2008. A delicious Italian, complicated with cinnamon and pepper highlights. Excellent with spicy sausages and red sauce . $9.99.

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