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A Low Cost Gift Idea

Ex-number-two was a lot of things. Some of them pretty cool. She was an artist at heart with a unique eye. She was also a creative and imaginative cook who could work absolute magic with food. And as much as I’d love to lay claim to this really cool gift idea, the gentleman in me must give credit where credit is due. So owing to ex-number-two, the following is offered to you as a low cost, and high-style gift that is sure to please the ladies in your life.

Gift baskets are always a cool thing. But beware, it’s really easy to produce a gift basket that is not only a mess, but filled with absolutely useless junk that’s more likely to end up in the junk drawer than put to actual use or consumption. In short, it’s really easy to make a crappy gift basket. But it’s equally easy to produce a nice one too. Here’s what I’m doing..

I took a trip down to the local World Market. Why World Market? Well there’s just something about them. Filled with eclectic, unusual stuff of all sorts. Including food-stuffs.  Which is the area of my focus for my cool gift baskets.

Instead of getting a basket, which we all have way too many of, I went for a more useful stainless steel colander. It has its own base and handles and will do quite nicely for my “basket.” Next I found an assortment of cool pasta and pasta sauce. Including some really yummy Pesto alla Genovese sauce that is to just die for. Round that out with a nice bottle of red and some sort of bread product. Like Cheese Sticks.

Line the colander with different colored tissue (think of it as a garnish), and arrange your food-stuffs such that it’s pleasing to the eye. Viola! One very cool and inexpensive gift basket.

Now you don’t have to use the same stuff I used. You can go for a different theme. I chose pasta to be presented in a colander because, well, they go together. I bet if you put your creative mind to it, consider the foods those special ladies like, you’ll come up with something equally as cool AND inexpensive to boot. I promise, when that basket is sitting under the tree, it’s going to attract the inquisitive glances from everyone there. Well, mostly the ladies, but you know…

Merry Christmas and good tidings to you all.

 
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What the hell is Molecular Gastronomy?

Published on November 22, 2012 in Commentary

Oh my God… I think I’ve come down with a case of molecular gastronomy.

Now before you run out and bend over for your doctor, relax. It’s not some sort of communicable disease. Really…

Molecular Gastronomy – also known as, Modernist Cuisine  – is actually the science behind cooking. More precisely, it’s the study of the chemical processes that occur in cooking. Ironically, the culinary arts pretty much do the same thing already. Nevertheless, if you know a little about what happens when… you’ll have a bit of a leg up on those who don’t.

To simplify; consider what goes on inside that shell when you drop an egg into a pot of hot water and let it sit for about ten or so minutes. If you didn’t know doing so would cause the contents of the egg to solidify, you’d never be able to make a boiled egg. Therefore, molecular gastronomy is a part of culinary practice that investigates, explains, and puts to practical use, the physical and chemical results of cooking.

Okay so you may be wondering, why one would allow something as rigid as science be applied to something as imaginative and creative as the culinary arts. Art by definition is the execution of creativity. How does science fit into that?

In our recipe for Seared Ahi, we mention that you should only brush the sauce onto your fish instead of simply dropping it into the bowl to bathe. Did you wonder why? The reason is it would have caused the meet from the fish to over saturate thus causing the protein fibers to separate and become soggy. More precisely, it will have seeped into the fibers of the meat and cause it to become mushy. Which of course would have made your Seared Ahi taste like crap. See? Science just prevented you from screwing up your creativity. Pretty cool huh?

Now there are plenty of resources out on the interwebs relating to molecular gastronomy and modernist cuisine. But one topic that seems to be somewhat neglected is the science behind what the cooked food does to the human body. Sure there are a bunch of medical and nutritional texts out there. But we’re approaching this from the standpoint of simple cooking with the intent of what amounts to a bunch of physical activity. Get it?

So, you have to consider how say, heavy pasta compared to a light salad, or a bug ole hunk of protein plays into energy, lethargy, mood, etc. If you don’t know, look it up. This whole internet is crammed full of all sorts of stuff. Apply that information to your cooking and you will be doing your part to round out the focus of molecular gastronomy and modernist cuisine.

Cheers…

 
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Recipe: Karl’s Seared Ahi Tuna

Published on October 20, 2012 in Recipes

Ahi Tuna (Thunnus albacares), also known as Yellowfin Tuna, is typically found in pelagic , tropical, and sub-tropical oceans around the world. It’s among the largest of the Tuna family, and can weigh up to 300 pounds. While its body is a metallic blue that turns to silver at the belly, its fins are bright yellow… thus the name…

Used in cooking, Ahi Tuna is rich, not too “fishy” in flavor, and buttery. Oh man, is it buttery! Its deep red color is ideal for the visual part of cooking, which is to provide a feast for the eyes as well as the belly. This Tuna is absolutely gorgeous (well… as gorgeous as a fish can be).

The coolest thing about Ahi, is its versatility. Seared, cooled, and placed upon a bed of thinly sliced English Cucumber for a great appetizer. Or you can toss it into your favorite salad and serve it that way. Or snuggled next to some plain white (short grain) rice and some tasty greens, it makes for a great main course that won’t weigh you down. Yup… versatile.

Now in our view, the most important part of Seared Ahi is the sauce. Which is made in two ways, one to coat the fish before searing and the other to be your dippy-sauce when you munch on this tasty treat. Ready?

Ingredients:

  • A couple Ahi steaks, cut in the shape of small bricks.
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Mirin (Or any other Japanese sweet wine)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds (An even mix of White and Black Sesame seeds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon course ground black pepper
  • Wasabi paste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 or 2 finely chopped garlic cloves

Preparing the sauces:
In a bowl, stir together the soy sauce, mirin, honey sesame oil, and garlic. Pour half of this into a shallow bow. It will be used to wet your steaks before searing.

Pour the other half of the mixture in a smaller bowl. In that stir in the rice vinegar and a touch of Wasabi paste (for a little kick). This will be your dippy-sauce so set it aside for now.

Searing your Ahi:
On a flat plate or other flat surface, spread your sesame seeds and coarsely ground black pepper in an even layer. Take the tuna steaks and coat them with the sauce. Don’t drop the steaks in the bowl because that will leave them too wet. Instead, coat them using a basting brush so they are completely covered. Now roll the steaks on the sesame seeds, applying a little pressure to press the seeds onto the steaks. It should leave a nice coat around the entire steak. Note here the coverage doesn’t have to be perfect.

Take a skillet, add your olive oil and put it over a high flame to get it nice and hot. Then place the sesame coated steaks into the pan and sear each side for about 30 to 60 seconds (depending on how thick you cut the steaks). The idea here it to get the outer edge seared while leaving the center juicy and rare.

Remove from the pan and let them sit for a couple minutes before slicing. You can serve this as an appetizer, in

a salad, or as your main course. Either way be sure to slice it up before plating, you want to be able to see that beautiful seared edge as well as that delectable rare center. Don’t forget to put some Wasabi paste on the plate and serve with the dippy sauce.

Enjoy…

 
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