Thursday, December 29, 2011

How to Make Homemade Vanilla Sugar: Phase One

I have a couple vanilla beans that I had been kind of sitting on, waiting to do something cool with. But as much as I wanted pastry cream or a good vanilla mousse, that's just not happening with the work space I have now. So I decided to make vanilla sugar, it's easy and keeps forever, that's exactly my speed these days. Heh.

I didn't know how to make it, really, but the internet knows all and tells more. Of course I immediately thought of Dawn over at Vanilla Sugar, derp, but she didn't know how to make it. I was perplexed, but that's not a real challenge. I asked around the usual channels and decided on the way Shane from Culinary Alchemy said to. It seemed easiest. Heh.

At least this is pretty much what I remember him saying. I didn't want to log out of my personal Facebook, log into my blog Facebook, check, then log back into my personal one. Because I always forget passwords or something and I think what I did will work fine. I cut up the vanilla pod into quarters, didn't bother to scrape most of the seeds out since there's going to be shaking on a regular basis. And I just stuck it all in a glass jar together. Now I'm going to leave it mostly alone for a couple weeks, shaking when I feel the need. And we'll see what happens. Further updates as events warrant.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday Cats #93

Uhm, excuse me? I was reading that. I only put it down for a minute. Would you mind... My cat is a jerk.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Less Greasy Steak and Cheese Sub

Ok, first off, I'm not in or from or even been to Philadelphia. This isn't pretending to be a Philly cheese steak. All right? All right. So.

I love steak and cheese subs. They are the awesome. The biggest problem I have with them is if you get them delivered, by the time they get to you the bread is soggy with grease. As is the wrapper, the bag, the driver and the seat that it was sitting on. Even if you get take out, a similar problem is had only with you instead of a driver.

There are two ways to avoid this: eat in the shop (not my favorite) or make your own (clearly my choice). Also, if you make you own it doesn't have to be quite so greasy because you don't need to use that weird ass shaved steak that sub shops use. I use cube steak, cut into... er, cubes. I don't feel like writing a recipe, so I'm just going to show you what I do. It's not hard, there's only six ingredients and it takes but moments.

First, chop up a bunch of onion, your cube steak and anything else you want in there like peppers, mushrooms, pepperoni or what have you. I have no picture, just close your eyes and use your imagination. Done? Ok.

Then heat up a skillet nice and hot. Here's part of the trick to less greasy, I use anodized aluminum. If I used steel I'd need tons of oil, you can use non stick too but you don't get as good browning with it, although cast iron is best of course. But I love anodized aluminum. Now, toss the steak on there and let it sit for a minute. Some salt and pepper at this point would be a good idea.You want it to start to brown before you put the onions in because the onions (and whatever else) are going to put out juices that might stop it from browning more. And brown is beautiful folks. So once the onions are in there, toss that stuff around, let it sit and... well, that's pretty much it. Stir it a couple times, maybe, but it's going to cook real fast so you might not even need to. Once it's done form it into a sub shape, put some cheese on top (whatever kind you like, I'm from Boston so it's American all the way) and let it melt a bit. Then plop it on a roll. You have now completed a less greasy steak and cheese. I strongly suggest you eat it.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sunday Cats #92

So, who out there thinks that it's a coincidence that my favorite spot on the couch is also the real Bob's favorite spot? You'd think that since I'm living alone, well, without other humans, I'd get my pick of where I sit. You'd think that. Yeah, enjoy it.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Lamb Pilaf

Just a quickie today kids, I'm not even telling you about the butterflied leg of lamb I got the meat (and fat) for this from. Saving that for next week. But this was good. Really, really good. What I did was took the fat cap off the cooked leg of lamb, chopped it up, rendered it up and poured off the fat and cracklins (mmmm, cracklins). I got some good fond, deglazed that with some weak chicken broth, poured that off, added some of the fat back in and sauteed onions and garlic in it.

Then I cooked the rice like you would for any other pilaf (would have added orzo, but I couldn't find it, stupid unorganized kitchen), plus some salt, pepper and a little oregano, added the chopped up cooked lamb at the end and... well, that's it. Except I added the cracklins back in. Because I'm a madman. It was as unctuous as a dictator's sycophant, with little bursts of rich lamby goodness from the cracklins. I just love saying that, say it with me, "cracklins". Good times. If you like lamb, send me an email and I can try to make up a recipe for it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday Cats #91

Nothing really to say about him today, just some pics of the real Bob.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mega Steak Mafioso Sandwich

This sandwich was inspired by the steak mafioso sub at Sabatino's, a pizza place that has several locations around Boston. It is awesome. But my version of the sub is, dare I say it, better. For one, cube steak is better than shaved steak. I mean, really. For another, if you're doing something this Italian provolone is a better choice than American cheese, I think.

Not that Sabatino's version isn't spectacular, it is. But, like I said, I think mine's better. Here is what you need for it. No recipe, no attempt at amounts. I'm feeling lazy today... er, I mean it's all a to taste thing. Right. So:

cube steak, sliced against the grain
sliced onion
sliced pepperoni
sliced salami
tomato sauce
oregano, basil, garlic powder (or fresh), salt and pepper to taste
sub or sandwich roll, toasted is delightful

First things first, fry up the pepperoni and salami a bit, just enough to get some browned edges and have them put out some fat. Mmmm, multiple sausage fats.... uh, hm. Excuse me. Next, onions. I like them nicely browned. Once they're about half done season the beef with the basil and all that, push the onions to the side of the pan and put the beef in a single layer on it.Once they're browned up on one side, flip 'em and let them almost finish up. Then, add everything back in, plus the tomato sauce.Mix it around a bit, let it sit for a minute so the flavors mingle and the beef finishes, cheese up a roll and then slap in on there. Now look at the sandwich and in your best cotton ball filled Marlon Brando voice make it an offer it can't refuse.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday Cats #90

What is it with cats and nylon/plastic? He loves that bag.Good thing I don't use it much lately, I wouldn't want to have to fight him for it. Heh, doesn't he look wicked vicious?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Product Review: Pitaya Plus (Dragon Fruit Juice)

Wow, how long has it been since I've done a real review? Long enough to distract you all from the fact that I haven't posted the thing I said I would? Doesn't help when I mention it... er, anyway I didn't get to make it. But hopefully I will soon. In the meantime, Pitaya Plus! It's dragon fruit juice. They sent me a case (a case!) of samples to review.

I'm not getting paid, blah blah, disclaim, etc.

So, how is it? Well, it's good. It's not too sweet (which I think is a plus) and doesn't have a very strong flavor, but it does taste good and has a nice, slightly thick texture. A hint of coconut from the coconut water, but hardly overpowering. It makes claims of an antioxidant and fiber bearing nature, but unfortunately I don't really know anything about that kind of thing. I put a link to their website up top and I'm sure they would be delighted to tell you all about it. Heh.

I drank one bottle, to see what it was like and what I should do with it. I immediately thought it would be perfect for a vinaigrette. Some shallots, tarragon, rice wine vinegar so as not to overpower the flavor, awesome. But when I went to make it I realized I had drank it all. Turns out I really enjoy it in the morning and I enjoyed it more frequently than I thought I had... Whoops. So, once I can find it in the store I'm going to make that vinaigrette and it's going to be great. In the meantime I guess I'll just say that I liked this stuff a lot. Apparently. Heh.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday Cats #89

I miss Noodles. I'm not going to pretend that I don't. So, here is a repost with her involved.

I was going through my rather immense folder of cat pictures looking for stuff I haven't posted and came across these. This was at our last apartment and they loved to lay there in front of the bathroom door. They didn't often do it together though, which is why I took pictures.My (ex)girlfriend thinks they liked to be there because it was halfway between the kitchen and the living room, so it was the closest they could be to both of us when I was cooking and she was watching tv. Heh.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

I Know, I Know

I'm a bad blogging guy. I made promises of a post related nature and didn't then actually, you know, post. To partly make up for it here is a picture of tuna noodle casserole. No recipe, just the picture. I don't feel that bad. Heh. And I don't have a recipe for it, I just put a bunch of stuff in a pot (it's one pot too!) and then baked it. On allergy medicine. So my memory is a bit blurry, although I do remember it was wicked good.

Another way I'm going to make up my post shortfall to you guys is what I'm making for lunch right now. It's pizza, inspired by a ridiculous sub called steak mafioso. It is also wicked good, I'll be posting about it Monday. Or Tuesday. Probably. Here's another picture of the casserole. Thank you for your time.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday Cats #88

Ack! It's Sunday, I've been so busy cleaning (and sleeping) that I forgot I was trying to post regularly again. So, here is the real Bob sitting in my lap being sweet. He gets a lot more lap time now that I'm single. Heh.

And here he is getting indignant that I moved and pointed the clicky box at him. Then he left. Drama queen.

But this week I have two posts to put up! Surprised, aren't you? Something sweet and something, uhm, not sweet. Lemony? Not savory... I dunno. Good. It's a sandwich. You'll see later.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cheap and Easy Steak Sandwich

Adapted from this recipe by Pioneer Woman

1 lb cube steak
1 small onion, sliced
1 tbl butter
1 tsp worchester, soy or some other brown umami bringing sauce
hot sauce and plenty of it
salt and pepper to taste
pinch each of:
chipotle powder
garlic powder
(all powders are optional and to taste)

Toast a couple rolls, if your into that. Then saute the onions in oil or bacon grease (not the butter, that's for later). While that's going, slice the cube steak against the grain and toss it with the seasonings. Once the onions are done remove them from the pan and wipe out the excess grease, if you want. Add the butter and let it start to brown then add the steak in one layer and leave it alone till it browns. Then flip it. Add the brown and hot sauces and the onions. Stir everything around a bit and let it sit for a minute. Put it all on buns and eat.


Look, a recipe! Not that I can really claim it as my own since it's pretty much the same as the one PW made. But still, it's there, I posted it and it's frigging awesome. I did things a little different than PW, mostly because her kitchen is the size of my apartment so I can't do so many things at once. But you can do it any way you like and I'm sure it will kick ass, it's a great method for a great sandwich. Here is what I did.

First, I toasted (fried?) the roll in a little bacon grease. Because it's the bomb. Then I sauteed the onions, although there isn't a pic of that, so feel free to use your imagination. But while I was doing that I dealt with this. Cube steak. I had never used it before and was shocked at how inexpensive it was, this was about a pound and it was about a buck. Not too shabby since I got two meals out of it. Now, slicey slicey, season, season. Although you could use any seasoning you want including just some salt and pepper. I've just been on a big chipotle kick lately. Then, of course, butter. Ms. W used about, oh, 10 pounds I think. She cooks like that, cooking for kids and cowboys and all. She was also making more than one sandwich. I just used a tablespoon, moderation is a virtue you know. Then it's browning beef. Mmmm, look at the buttery juices. Look at them! Once it was mostly done I added my hot sauce. This is actually part of a free sample from Cholula who didn't pay me but wanted a review. (disclaimed) Review: Cholula kicks ass. Course, I've covered that before. Heh. I added a lot, because I like a lot. You can add as much as you like. Then the onions go back in, mix it around, let it sit for a minute and that's it. Put it on a bun and eat it. It's wicked good. Now you could do this with things other than beef, I assume. I don't see why you couldn't do it with pork, chicken, fish or even (shudder) tofu. Try it, love it.


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