Monday, April 6, 2009

Easy Cooking Recipes: Chocolate Mousse

Well, I'm lazy, tired, nursing a hangover, (and a bottle of Remy, of course), but I want to feel like I did something productive on my day off. So, without getting out of bed, I have gone back to the beginning to revive what started it all; an email I sent to my sister while I was in culinary school in New Zealand, sometime in early 2004, I was likely drinking a large cup of black tea, or perhaps a shitty New Zealand beer, as I was accustomed to at the time. After five years of encouragement and thought of writing a cookbook in this voice, I'm just now getting ambitious enough to copy this directly from the email. I'll be kind to you, though, and I will translate the recipe from the metric system into the much more familiar yet confusing US measurements. If you do have a scale, or are on good enough terms with your weed dealer down the hall to borrow one, just hit that button until you get to grams, brush off the green crumbs, and get down to business.

cooking time hands on: 15 minutes
total time: 1 hour 15 minutes
acceptable drunkenness: buzzed
Yield: a few servings
750ml (a fifth) Remy Martin VSOP (can be substituted for XO or upgraded as budget allows)
to taste Beer or Wine
80 grams (2.8oz) Chocolate
120ml (1/2 cup) Heavy Whipping Cream
1 (1) Egg - separated
1T Sugar
2T Rum, Brandy, Gran Marnier, or Remy Martin, (if you want to waste it.)

Now, to demystify the separation of an egg. It does not mean that the egg is getting divorced but the papers haven't gone through yet. Here's the only way I ever separate an egg: 1)wash your hands 2)grab two bowls, for this application, I'd recommend cereal bowls 3)crack the egg on the side of one bowl and, discarding the shell, drop the entire egg into one hand, held over the bowl 4) spread your fingers slightly to allow the egg white to slip through into the bowl 5)transfer the yolk from hand to hand as the white slips away, pinching your fingers together as necessary to aid the separation 6)drop the clean yolk into the other bowl 7)wash your hands 8)have a drink, contemplate abortion.
Now, onto the email.
I made a mean chocolate mousse in school, did Mom tell you? I'll see if I can walk you through it, but there's a lot of ways you can fuck it up.
First, you need a double boiler (a pot of simmering water with a metal bowl over it, not touching the water but being warmed by the steam) put 80 grams of chocolate to melt in it. The better quality of chocolate, the better quality of mousse. You're going to want this fully melted, but not too hot. The temperature where you could keep your finger in it without the slightest discomfort, but warm enough to make you want to take your finger out and put it in your mouth and let the warm chocolate curl around your tongue. (I've heard some people find this pleasant.) But don't worry about the temp, yet, because it must be at the proper temp in five minutes, not now, so just melt it and turn off the heat. Take 120ml of cream, fresher cream works better, not too close to the best used by date. Whisk the shit out of it until you have soft peaks, not stiff like cool whip, though. In another bowl whisk one egg yolk with a tablespoon of sugar. Whisk the shit out of this, too, in fact you should whisk this before the cream cause it won't fall as much. Whisk it until the color has gone to a paler yellow than when started. Take another bowl and whisk the shit out of an egg white (You can use the white out of the same egg you took the yolk from, a little chef's trick.) Beat the white until you can hold the bowl upside down over your head and not dirty yourself. Seriously, do it. Now, feel your chocolate, put a little more in to make up for what you've been eating, get a good temp. Whisk the yolk and cream together, getting the cream a little stiffer, but still not cool whip. Toss the whisk in the sink and grab your spatula, pour in a little of the rum you've been sipping, or the brandy if you're on to that now. Take your finger out of the chocolate and put the spatula into it, scraping it into the cream/yolk/sugar deal. Mix it quickly to get it even and equalize the heat of the new mixture a quickly as possible. Now you have to choose whether you want to mix this with the egg white or the egg white with this. Make your decision quickly, spatulaing one into the other. Mix them gently, as if you were powdering a baby's bottom with the spatula, make it all one color, not marbled, unless you are mad at me and don't care what I say, even though I took the time to give you this step by step narrative with no personal gain whatsoever. Just cover it and put it in the fridge and wait for an hour, at least. Don't eat it all now, go get stoned and forget you made it until you open your fridge for your tea and are pleasantly surprised to find the most exquisite desert you have ever created with your own two hands.

Put more whipped cream on top, berries, any number of dessert sauces I don't feel like telling you how to make, or just buy one. Or take some jam and boil it with water, that's easy enough, just make sure you let it cool before you put it on your mousse. Make a double batch, a triple batch, whatever you need, don't worry, the main way you'll fuck this one up is getting your chocolate too hot or too cold. Too hot, you'll scramble your eggs. Too cold, no biggie, your chocolate will seize up too quickly and now you have a chunky, chocolate chip mousse, just like you meant to do it. Cheers, enjoy.
Until next time,
The Drunk Chef

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Easy Cooking Recipes: Flan

I made flan at work yesterday, I didn't fuck it up, not even a little bit. The last time I made it I was busy answering the phone and dealing with other shit and I burned my first batch of sugar, but even that wasn't that serious, just an extra pan to scrub and a lost cup of sugar. I could have gone to the grave with no one ever knowing, until now. Oh well, I think it's important that the world should know, contrary to popular belief, that no, I'm not perfect all the time. I started to think of different ways that you can fuck up a flan, and though, as with everything, there are many, they aren't that serious and many of them still yield a palatable product, though perhaps not restaurant worthy, a tasty treat that could be called by another name and deemed perfect. So I'd planned on starting my recipe series with chocolate mousse, but I changed my mind.

cooking time hands on: 10 minutes
total time: 2 hours
acceptable drunkenness: sloshed
Yield: 15 7oz flans
750ml Remy Martin VSOP (can be substituted for XO or upgraded as budget allows)
to taste Beer or Wine
7 Whole eggs
7 Egg yolks
1 1/2 cup White granulated sugar
4 cup Heavy whipping cream (unsweetened)
1 cup Half and half
to taste Vanilla extract

Let me begin by demystifying the ambiguous quantity "to taste." I have used it here twice to illustrate the variance in uses. It usually means very little, or as much as you want.
In the case of the vanilla, anyone who has cooked will look at the quantities of the other ingredients and see that the appropriate amount would be a little less than a tablespoon, enough to impart the flavor, but little enough to not be overwhelming. Anyone who hasn't cooked should put in a very little, taste the mixture, then put in a little more until it tastes right. Don't stress out, have a sip of cognac, a glass of wine, then taste it again, as long as you're relaxed, your gut will tell you when it's right.
Now, in the case of the quantity of beer or wine, "to taste" means it is entirely up to the taste of the chef, this is often used with spicy or strong flavors or ingredients. Some like it spicy, some like to get drunk. In this case, I would recommend a six pack or a bottle of wine, I would also plan on making this the day before you plan to get laid, I mean, the day before you serve it.

Now, you're thinking, I never have dinner parties for fifteen guests, I'm going to be sick of this thing after the first two and the other ones are going to sit around taking up my fridge space until I throw them away in a month all moldy and shit. Don't worry, I have two solutions to this problem. 1) Invite over three of your best stoner buddies, get ripped, give them one each and the others will inevitably disappear. 2) If you don't have three stoner buddies, I have painstakingly converted the recipe for smaller production.

FLAN (revised):
cooking time: 10 minutes
total time: 2 hours
acceptable drunkenness: sloshed
Yield: 2 1/2 seven ounce flans, 3 almost six ounce flans, or however the fuck you want to do it
750ml Remy Martin
to taste Beer or Wine
1 Egg yolk
1 Whole egg
3T+1/2t White granulated sugar
1/2cup+1T Heavy whipping cream (unsweetened)
2T+1t Half and half
to taste Vanilla extract

(T means tablespoon, t means teaspoon)
Open the bottle of Remy, you don't have to cut it, there's a little tab on the side that will rip right off. I don't care if you drink it off the bottle, just get some in your belly. Open a beer or pour yourself a glass of wine, this will act as something to drink in between the cognac. Turn the oven on to 300. Put all the other ingredients in a bowl, a blender, something where you can mix it all together. Mix it thoroughly, just don't get it all bubbly. If you do, have some more Remy and amuse yourself by popping all the bubbles with alternating pinkie fingers. Now, grab a pan, not one of those non-stick Teflon pieces of shit that you fucked up that night you were flipping a grilled cheese with a fork; something solid, thick-bottomed, even a pot will do. Grab some more sugar, I know I didn't put it in the recipe, I didn't want to confuse you. Throw it in the pan, maybe a third cup for the small recipe, maybe a cup for the full one, don't measure it, you are king or queen of the kitchen, own that shit. Go to the sink, passing the Remy on the way and take a swig. Put some water in the pan, a little less than the amount of sugar. Put it on the stove on high heat. Find your drink and drink it, stare at the pan and wonder what's going to happen.
Now, don't wander to far from your sugar, which will soon start to turn more and more brown, but you need to find some things to bake these flans in. I'm not going to rule out the possibility that you have 8oz ramekins in your house, but I sure as hell don't. Coffee cups should work, something ceramic. Now find something ovenproof that will hold the cups and some water, preferably an inch or two. No baking pan? Look at that cheap pot you cook your pasta in, "but the plastic handles won't go in the oven!" You say. "Look under the handles, see that screw holding them on? Unscrew it. Now you're golden." I say.
Your drink back in hand, go back to the sugar, it's beginning to change color and you feel the success of your project, the Remy in your belly, life is good. Swirl the pan lightly to make sure the sugar caramelizes (changes color) evenly. It's getting darker, boiling rapidly, this is good. have a little more Remy, but not too much, you want to be relaxed, yet still in tune with your senses. It smells like heat and candy, and it's started to brown more rapidly, get ready. Wait, let it get a little darker, after all the only way to really know how to do it right is to fuck it up good once. The darker the better, but not burnt. Look at the Remy in your glass, the caramel tones, that is the color you want. Kill the heat, walk the sugar to your cups, ramekins, whatever you've found, slowly pour the sugar into the bottoms of the cups, covering the bottom of each one. Too little? Too much? Who the fuck cares? You can do it better next time.
Congratulations, you made it past the hard part, you deserve a hearty swig off the bottle, you are master of the kitchen. Open another beer, pour another glass of wine, you need a couple of minutes to let the sugar cool anyway. I recommend splitting the liquid mixture evenly between three vessels, but there is leeway here. The smaller the quantity in each vessel, the quicker it will bake. Place the flans in the baking dish, fill around the cups with hot water to an inch or two up the cup, don't splash any into the flans, and put it in the oven. Now forget about everything for a half hour, do your dishes, all you have is a bowl, whisk and a pan.
Check the flans, they shouldn't have changed much in a half hour, if they have any color on the top, turn down the oven. Shake the pan slightly, the flan should still appear fluid. Keep checking every ten minutes or so, it may take upwards of an hour, depending on the heat and size of your flans. You want to flan to hold steady when you shake it, the mixture should yellow slightly, and if there is any bubbling, you are way done, for sure. Pull them out of the oven and let cool until you can easily put them in the fridge. Let cool completely, uncovered, for at least an hour. You can cover them and they will be delicious for up to six or so days. Hopefully you've put a good dent on your bottle and are feeling pretty good about yourself, the world, and life in general.

To Serve:
Run a knife, paring, butter, steak knife, or other, around the edge of your flan, pushing the blade against the wall of your vessel. Once you've circled it, push the tip of the knife into the flan and invert it onto a plate, the flan should pop out, followed by the caramel that you browned so perfectly. Throw some berries around that shit, maybe some whipped cream, and stand proud and confident as praise is showered upon you. Never let on how easy it was.

I'm proud of you. My bottle is empty, got to run to the store.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sometimes it even goes in the food

Who am I kidding? I can only remember one time I dropped any of my precious Remy into anything I've ever cooked, and I cook a lot. It's what puts the drink on my table. I don't pay for food, I'm around it all fucking day, cleaning, cutting, manipulating it, putting it on a hot plate and setting it under a heat lamp to be swept out onto some table. The plate returns, it's cleaned, and then I make it dirty again. That's what we do, make plates dirty. Fuck all the pretention chefs hide behind with a fancy title and embroidered $200 chef coat. I proudly wear a dishwasher shirt with my name and title embroidered on it, the title: "Grill Monkey." It comes from an old comic strip, two guys sitting at a table, the waiter comes, "How was everything?"
The response, "My compliments to the grill monkeys."

It was a chocolate mousse. I was in the back of the kitchen, too lazy to walk out to the bar to ask for some Gran Marnier, one of those slow winter days in a beach town when there was no one else around to ask to get it for me. So I reached into my back pocket and pulled out my half-pint of VSOP, took a sip, and then poured a little in, I'd already incorporated the egg whites and just started to add the whipped cream, I took another sip and realized the bottle was empty. Fuck! I'd have to take a break soon to walk to the corner store to get another, my house and my ten litre stash too far away to access quickly. Tasting the Mousse, it was good, damn good, even though it's something I'd never order off a dessert menu, (well the only thing I'd order off a dessert menu would be a Cognac - if someone else was buying.) It added that imperceptible touch to the mousse that no one would be able to finger, but they'd love it. I was dissapointed, I would have enjoyed it more in my belly.

None of the waiters commented on my shirt the first day I proudly donned it, bleached white after I'd puked on it a couple days before on my birthday. My girl got it done for me, besides an expensive bottle of Remy, which she got me the year before, it was a top five ever birthday present. The type of thing I'd said I wanted, figured I'd never get for myself and forgot about it months before. I later figured that no one could understand why I would want to label myself a Grill Monkey, kind of like I can't understand why any girl would want to wear a shirt that reads "slut" or maybe even worse, "Daddy's Little Princess" across her breasts. But there's a lot of shit that goes on in this world that I find hard to comprehend. Half-way through the second day I finally got a comment from a waiter, "Does that say grill monkey?"
"Hey, Kailin, did you see his shirt?"
"What's that say? Oh."
Little titters behind their hands, confusion, and appreciation from all my cool friends that would stop by. "Grill Monkey? I thought you were Sous Chef."
"I got a promotion."
Sarcasm being my only comfortable cover to deal with questions in a world that has few good answers.

Well, why am I here? (I mean why am I writing a blog, something that I have scorned and laughed upon for quite a while (except for my Mom's occasional posts, and the few excerpts I've read of "stuff white people like" that my sister sent me.))

Several reasons, I suppose.
1) I love to write and I have fallen out of practice, this seems to be the modern form of staying in practice. I write my thoughts down all day long in my head, I might as well type them out.
2) I'm curious as fuck as to how long it will take some stranger to actually find this blog and waste their time to post a comment.
3) I dream of stardom as a writer and am getting back into re-re-re-editing my book, titled, wait... guess first... yeah, you were close, "Cooking With Remy." Subtitled: "Memoirs of a Young Drunk Chef." I don't want you to think I'm some old, balding, greying, alcoholic chef with a beer belly. I'm not old, I'm only 26.
4)I also have aspirations to write a cookbook. A book aimed at the college student who spent their life studying and eating Top Ramen and finds themselves graduated and educated and unable to cook a goddamn thing that Taco Bell couldn't do better. A friendly, approachable cookbook that demystifies cooking and cookbooks alike. I want to post the first entries here.
5)With "the economy" the way it is (I miss the time when we could blame everything on 9 11, at least it seemed like it wasn't our fault that the world sucks), the restaurant biz is slow and ten hour days have turned into six or seven hour days, I'm happy if I have a reason to stick around long enough to hit overtime. I have time on my hands and an internet connection.

Why you should ever come back to read this blog again:
Well, you made it this far; either you're a member of my family, sleeping with me, incredibly bored, or actually find what I have to say interesting. Future blogs (I hate myself for actually using that word, it as dispicable to me as using abbrevs for txt msgs.) (Excuse me, I have to go scrub myself clean and have a strong drink lest anyone should not pick up on my sarcastic irony) will be on different subjects: recipes that only include Remy Martin as something for the chef to drink, and, well, what ever the fuck else I want to expunge into the universe.

Well, time to finish my beer and go to work.