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Start your morning off right

Why wait for insipid coffee and a breakfast sandwich gut-bomb to start your day off? What if I told you that after today, you’ll know how to make a perfectly fine breakfast sandwich ready by the time you finish making your coffee?

I know, you don’t have time!

I used to think the same thing. In fact, I’ll be honest – I kind of looked forward to it. The prospect of paying six dollars for the convenience is a little much, but the satisfaction of opening the wrapper and laying into the pillowy soft biscuit, the just-molten American-style cheese. It’s hard to beat.

Thing is, looking at it from a chef’s point of view, you notice that making this sandwich is nothing more than an exercise in Mise en Place. [LINK?] I watched the other day, and here is how it breaks down when an order is taken to when it arrives in my mouth:

  1. Order taken, presumably correct.
  2. Cook punches the button for the KDS to say they have started the order.
  3. Toaster person looks at the KDS, cuts and toasts the requisite bun.
  4. Once the bun is toasted, slathers margarine on both sides of the bun.
  5. Opens warming containers to grab egg, and sausage.
  6. Places sausage on bottom of the bun.
  7. Places egg on top of sausage.
  8. Places a slice of cheese on top of the egg
  9. Places biscuit lid on top of the cheese.
  10. Puts the bun in the wrapper and fold it up, ready to go.
  11. Cook punches the button for the KDS to “sell” the item, then hands it to me.

Another person takes care of the coffee.

So, all of this is nothing more than a series of steps, with items that are already cooked and held in the warmer.

So, let’s say that you made your own coffee at home. Could you do make this sandwich in the time it takes you to make your coffee? Could you make it healthier than the gut bomb that you get from Tim Horton’s? How about getting a little color and vegetable in there?

Absolutely.

Presenting… The breakfast sandwich you can make while you are waiting for your coffee to brew. I challenge you… make your coffee at home, and make this at the same time. Hell, you could even make it ahead of time and nuke it, if that were the problem. Better yet, it tastes better, and won’t break the bank.

[CLICK to find out the steps.]

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Still working through the fantastic book, Will Write for Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Blogs, Memoir, Recipes, and More by Dianne Jacob. Today we are continuing to talk about chapter 5.

This mega chapter is about how to break into writing for magazines and trade publications.

Let’s get into it

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Will Write for Food Writing Exercises Chapter 5

Still working through the fantastic book, Will Write for Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Blogs, Memoir, Recipes, and More by Dianne Jacob. Today we are talking about chapter 5.

This mega chapter is about how to break into writing for magazines and trade publications.

Let’s get into it.

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How to Make Vegetable Stock the Easy Way

Theres’ what you learned in school…

What goes in a veggie stock?

We’re taught that for a vegetable stock, it’s best to use clean ingredients, no strong flavors. Nothing goes into the pot that you wouldn’t eat by itself.

It’s a great set of rules, and in theory, something you could aspire to.

Then there’s reality

Veggie stock is flavored water. In this case, you are using trimmings to give the water a bit of body. I’m sure that there is some vitamin extraction or even other anecdotal reasons to make vegetable stock.

The absolute truth? It’s a way to save money. Instead of using an expensive meat and bone based broth, vegetable stock allows more flavor than just water and base.

A mentor that I respect taught me that soups made with vegetable stock with the predominate vegetable taste cleaner than a soup with a meat base. (Unless the soup is a meat-based soup of course!)

Check out the pro tips to making vegetable stock

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I Lovingly Abused This Book While Learning to Cook

Picture of the book that I used all throughout college

In the last post I remade a revolting pea dish. Today I am going to talk to you about the one cookbook that became my bible when I was an apprentice.

Have you that one friend – the one that treats all their books as if they were the Holy Scriptures? Reverently packing the books away, careful they don’t bend a corner, or scuff the spine? You should see my culinary textbook. It would give them a heart attack.

Click through, but beware book lovers – this abuse isn’t for the faint of heart!

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a photo of peas, prosciutto, mushrooms

We all have our Archilles heel, right?

I’m talking of food (or dishes) that you wouldn’t eat if someone paid you to.

I have one. Only one item that I won’t even try.

Canned peas.

Why not?

There isn’t a way that I can describe the smell without an involuntary retch, eyes bugged out, and mouth snapped shut. You feel that?

That’s me shuddering as I type this.

I still, to this day, don’t know why my mother bothered. A bowl of steaming, olive-green peas straight from the can. Every once in a while, she would try to force me to eat them. No dice, amigo.

To hear my mother tell it, I used to spit out the peas whole from the jars of baby food (stew) untouched. You just couldn’t pay me to enjoy them.

My first Thanksgiving with my In-Laws

Fast forward years later, and I’m sitting at the table with my wife’s family for what was out very first Thanksgiving together. I’m sure that my Mother-In-Law had an inkling that my weakness was for the peas, but she passed on the family tradition – peas, mushrooms, and onions. I love my Mother-in-Law, but there’s no getting around it.

They looked like a can of smashed in assholes.

I’m known as a pretty opinionated guy, right? Sure. That is, when you get to know me.

Otherwise, when we first meet, and when we first dine together, I’m anything but. I was raised to eat what was put on my plate. Especially if it came from someone who you are a guest in their home. In this case, the peas are one of those dishes. I needed to make a good impression.

I swear, I tried to like them. I took a bit, smile cracking my face, knowing there’s no way in hell that I’d finish them. I shoveled a spoonful into my mouth.

It was like a spoonful of Satan’s ass.

Don’t get me wrong, my Mother-in-Law is a fantabulous cook. She can cook circles around almost anyone that I know. With this dish, you can’t make shit taste better by adding candy sprinkles. I don’t get how people can eat them without grimacing.

To each their own.

Here’s the challenge:

You may remember the food writing prompt from yesterday. How do I make this dish better? How do I make a dish that I will like, and that everyone else will too?

I do like fresh peas, and peas fresh frozen. I love onions, and mushrooms are the bomb. I did a quick search through Saveur (one of my favorite magazines) and came across a recipe for braised peas and proscuitto.

It was as if a light went off in my head.

Add onions and mushrooms to it, and we have a winner.

Here’s what I did:

Sweet Peas with Prosciutto, Mushrooms, and Onions

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: 10 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

a photo of peas, prosciutto, mushrooms

Inspired by a recipe from Saveur Magazine

MISE EN PLACE:

  • 2 fl oz. Olive oil
  • 120 g (4 oz) prosciutto, small dice
  • 350 g (12 oz.) onions, small dice
  • 150 g (5 oz) mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1.18 kg (2.5 lbs) peas, frozen or fresh
  • 2 fl oz. vegetable stock (or water)
  • To taste Kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal Brand)
  • to taste freshly ground black pepper

HELPFUL EQUIPMENT: (Links go to my Amazon Store)

METHOD:

  1. Sweat prosciutto, onions, and mushrooms in oil until the onions are translucent and the prosciutto is starting to crisp up.
  2. Add peas and vegetable stock, start stirring gently to evenly braise the peas. Cook until they are crisp-tender. DO NOT OVERCOOK.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve immediately.

Your Turn

Do you have a food or dish you couldn’t eat if you tried? Let me know in the comments below.

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Will Write for Food Chapter 4 Writing Exercises

Still working through the fantastic book, Will Write for Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Blogs, Memoir, Recipes, and More by Dianne Jacob. Today we are talking about chapter 4.

This mega chapter is about writing for blogs, how to find your inspiration, how to keep going, and what a blogger needs to do in order to make a living doing so. The writing exercises are a lot of fun. Let’s get into it.

[click to continue…]

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Secrets of the Trade: How to Zest and Juice Citrus

Why are you buying your juice from a fake lemon?

You know the one I mean. Those yellow or green fake fruit that speckle the fresh produce aisle without a hint of irony. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of sampling radiator fluid, then you know even that tastes better than what comes out of those containers.

What if I told you there was a far easier way? It involves a toothpick, a way to heat the fruit, and an optional press.
Click here for the trick!

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How to Make Chicken Stock the Easy Way

I’ve covered chicken stock before. There’s also a Crockpot version, and a post I did over at Fat Head. I figured that it was time to update the post in my new style. So here goes.

Okay, let’s cut the crap.

Look, I’ll level with you. Chicken stock is no big deal. I don’t understand why my wife sent me to the store today to buy a 900 mL chicken broth for $1. (a no-name brand from Super C stamped on it.) Okay, it’s because I let the chicken stock I keep in the freezer run out.

I bought it, of course, but if she knew how stupid easy it was to make it, she would never pay 10 cents for the base flavored water out there. (Shit! Then what would she need me for?)

Today it’s not really a recipe, only a technique, a ratio, and some stuffy old rules (some you can absolutely break.)

The best part? The system I have set up costs me next to nothing, and it uses product that most people throw away. Stay tuned.

time to learn about stock!

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Will Write For Food Chapter 3 Writing Exercises: Review

Still working through the fantastic book, Will Write for Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Blogs, Memoir, Recipes, and More by Dianne Jacob. Today we are talking about chapter 3.

This chapter is about looking for inspiration in various places. This meant reading magazines (other than Bon Appétit and Ricardo.)

[click to continue…]

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