Friday, February 23, 2018


That is all we need for a wonderful french baguette. It is very simple. Remember the wise words of Julia Child though. Simplicity demands perfection.

I started the morning making those two beauties. They got snatched up fast. I went with a friend to an AA meeting this afternoon and we took a loaf of the bread, still hot from the oven. It's been pretty cold here in Palm Springs, and a lot of the folks we see in our meetings are street people. I don't think they have had a chance to eat bread fresh from the oven, and on a cold day that is a real treat. The bread lasted about ten minutes. After the meeting I gave the second loaf to my friend. I like giving bread I make to my friends. You should try it, it's fun.


3 1/2 cup all purpose, or bread flour
1 1/2 cup warm water
1 Tablespoon instant yeast
2 1/4 teaspoon salt

(one egg white whisked with a small splash of water)
That's all.

Take two cups of the flour, the yeast, and the salt to the mixing bowl of a stand mixer.
With it set to the slowest setting, mix the dry ingredients together. While still stirring slowly, add in the cup and a half of warm water. I use water straight from the tap. Our city water percolates through several thousand feet of granite in the mountains directly to our west. It's so good that Nestle has a pumping station up there so they can steal our water (their permits for this have been out of date since the fucking 70s they don't care) to sell to the unsuspecting at $4 a bottle. Fuck Nestle. But, I digress.
This will form a ragged, loose dough. You want to mix thoroughly at this point. You want zero lumps of flour. Smooth babies, smooth.
Switch out to the dough hook now, and 1/4 cup at a time add in the rest of the flour. I know I went to the trouble of listing exactly how much of each ingredient but, at this stage, we have to also go by sense and feel. What we are looking for is dough that holds together smoothly in a ball. To touch, a little sticky is OK. What we want is a dough that is supple, stretchy, and has a tendency to snap back to place when pinched. You can also see how the dough begins to clean the side of the bowl. Knead, on the lowest setting with the hook, eight minutes. A full eight minutes. What you do in the kneading is to disturb and agitate the long strands of gluten. That is what gives the bread that beautiful, chewy, but tender, consistency and mouth feel. You can also do the kneading by hand. I do when I'm upset or angry. It's therapy.
That goes into a bowl that's been greased with olive oil. Not any fru fru EVOO, get the peasant shit ya spalpeen. Cover with a towel or plastic, put in a warm place, and wait for it to rise until it has tripled in size. It takes anywhere from two, to three hours. Now, snatch it out, and pummel the shit out of it. We want to break up any pockets of air, and reagitate the gluten.

Shape the loaves. Lots of folks get all involved and stuff with this part. I don't. I separate into two halves, shape them into long skinny loaves by hand and put them in my special, tricked out baguette pans. They have indentations to perfectly hold the loaves, and the are also perforated to allow the hot oven air ample access to the bread.

In essence what we are going to do is to take this:
and make it look like this:
Cover it back up, return it to its warm cozy place, and wait for it to double in size. Half an hour to forty minutes is about what it takes.

Now it gets real. Crank the oven to 425. Take a spray bottle of chilled water and spritz the inside of the oven. This generates steam action. Steam action is what sets our crust. Using chilled water makes more steam fast. More steam, more bettah. Cook ten minutes. Spritz. Ten more minutes. Spritz. Now separate out your egg white, give it a splash of water and brush the egg wash over your loaves. Don't forget to turn your pan 180 degrees so you can brush the other side thoroughly.

Give it five more minutes, and out they come.

Flour. Water. Yeast. Salt. The only other things you need are time and patience.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Matzo Ball Soup.

since nobody really reads this blog i'm going to start just posting stuff that i might send as an email and put it here so it's easier for somebody else to find. just in case and shit.

since i wasn't expecting to blog this, i'm just going to run with what i got and do it better later. the concept is "the adult cooking show," where the goofy, self absorbed musician is retired from the road, and starting a chocolate truffle business. the neighbor is a young stripper, who he met at an AA meeting, found out they were in the same apartment complex, which is ironic because their friendship is nothing if not complex.

tonight's episode is Matzo Ball Soup. where we make matzo ball soup and watch "mozart in the jungle."

there's the matzo ball soup. best tip from chef. there's always extra broth. freeze it. use it to start the next batch. it only gets better from there.


whole chicken (if it has head and feets so much the better), 1 yellow onion chopped, 8 carrots peeled sliced thick, parsnip peeled chopped (tip, when peeling and chopping put the peels and ends in a nut bag or muslin, that way you can take them out easy later it really puts teeth in the broth) 1 bunch dill chopped, salt, pepper, white pepper, 3 clove garlic.

2 1/2 cup matzo meal, 6 eggs, 6 T olive oil, 2 t salt, 1/4 cup reserved hot broth

chicken goes breast down in a big ass pot where you have at least 3" of water covering. bring to a boil. while that happens chop the veggies and dump in as you go. salt pepper taste. simmer 2 hours partially covered.

take out the chicken, put it in a bowl to cool. keep the broth at a simmer. smash the garlic cloves. add.

mix the eggs and the oil together, mix into the meal, temper in the hot broth. chill. bring a pot of water to a boil.

bone the chicken. discard the skin and bones. chunk the meat put it in.the soup. squish the liver. toss it in. (unless you reserve livers for chopped liver, you have to make a shit load of soup to make that worth it) giblets. chop. in.

bring out the chilled matzo, make balls with wet hands, remember these will blow up on you. drop them one by one into the boiling water, drop to simmer, cover, 35 minutes, or until they drop. transfer to the soup.

simmer, covered, one more hour. serve. you deserve this.

riley and i were watching "mozart in the jungle" eating our soup and one of the characters was described as a "musical, magical elf" and riley punched me. i put it on pause.

me: ow! (punched again) ow! quit the hitting! why? (punch)

r: because. (punch)

me: really. quit. because why?

r: because dickhead, that's you.

me: me? really? (punch thrown caught in right hand and gently held) i said stop. really. that's how you see me?

r: yeah dude. really.

me: cool i guess. i love the character. he just pisses me off sometimes being all goofy and self absorbed.

r: told ya. you. bingo.

me: (resumes play, slurps soup noisily, just like a goofy, self absorbed jerk)

after a bit, the character who got called "musical, magical elf" sees another character, a young strange prodigy pick up a five string banjo, strum it once, get the set of the strings, and begin to play bach's "concerto for cello in g." prodigy gets asked if he ever picked up a banjo before, says "no." guy who got called elf, points at the kid and says "elf."

i sock riley.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Crack Beans

We've gotten through the eating too much holidays. Everybody has their favorite things. One thing that is dearly loved by holiday eaters is the Campbell's Mushroom Soup Gloopy Green Beans. I've never been fond of them. First off, when it comes to most Campbell's Soups, I can't handle the salt that they use.

For the last few years I've been on a mission. A mission to show people that there are alternatives to over salted goopy glop.

I have made several converts with this dish. I've given it to people who swear that the over salted goopy glop is their favorite of all time and the holidays will be ruineded for like ever and ever. . .

On, to the recipe.

(look, this recipe isn't about exactly measured stuff. the ingredients will be listed in order of proportion. everything is suggestion, the balance of flavors is entirely up to you)

Fresh Green Beans, strung, snapped, and washed.
Yellow onion halved and sliced
Parmesan Cheese, grated
Granulated Garlic
Black Pepper
Those are the beans. Fresh beans my people. I understand if you can't get fresh that canned or frozen is perfectly acceptable. If fresh is an option though, go with it.

The bacon is chopped roughly, and then given a quick flash saute just until the slices separate and the edges begin to curl
While your bacon and other chopping duties progress, put a pot of water to the boil. At the full boil, put in two tablespoons of salt. When the salted water comes back to a full boil, add in
The beans, the bacon, and the sliced onion. When it returns to a full boil start checking your beans, I like my just a bit past al dente, which is usually about six minutes at a full boil.
Transfer to a container, or if serving right away, a serving bowl.
Add the pepper.
Add the garlic.
Hit it with the cheese.
Shake it up to coat.


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Cottage Cheese

You'd think there were no worlds to explore with a simple thing like cottage cheese right? Wrong. I was thinking a while back on the huge difference in quality when I make bread at home, or yogurt, I wondered what would the difference be with cottage cheese?

I did a little cursory googling and settled on this recipe:

So. Let's get busy.
A half gallon of whole milk is scalded, and 8 - 10 drops of rennet are stirred in. The pot is covered with a clean cloth, the lid placed over that and it is left alone for four hours.

Really. That's it.

After four hours cut up the jiggly curd. Add in a teaspoon salt. Put over a very low flame, and begin to gently stir.
It will start to clump and the whey will begin to separate.
When it looks like this, you're done.
Line a strainer with a cheesecloth or muslin, drain off the whey. (save that stuff, it's loaded with nutrients)

Monday, September 18, 2017

Cheat Night

I mean, what the hell good is it to be all up into the whole eating healthy and exercising regularly if you can't just give yourself a treat from time to time.

In the last two months of endless yogurt and fresh fruit, sensible salads, home made bread (over two months here and I have yet to have store boughten bread in the house) with an occasional cookie or single scoop of ice cream, I decided tonight that I wanted to cheat.

That doesn't mean I'm going to go all nuts, but it is certainly a night to lift the low fat, low cal, stuff.

So, what you might think would I cheat with? Easy. Buttermilk Pancakes.

People ask me all the time for cooking tips in general, but sometimes, they get specific. "How do I get light, fluffy pancakes?"

My answer is always simple.

Don't. Fuck. With. Them. The biggest mistake I see people make with something as simple as a pancake is that they fuck with them. They start stirring in all kinds of different ingredients and flavors, and then on top of that, they over stir.



First thing to do is your mise on place. That's French for "get your shit together." Start your griddle, set at 375.  Get your the first five ingredients into a mixing bowl, mix them well. Since we won't be stirring much when we put in the liquid, mix them evenly now.
Add the liquid ingredients now. (3 tbsp into the batter, reserve one with a pastry brush for the griddle)

 Mix until all ingredients are moistened and combined. Lumps are OK, lumps are way better than over mixing.

Use a ladle or any other kind of utensil to pour the batter onto the preheated, buttered griddle.
That's a split Andoullie sausage, because hey, cheat. Now is another time to remember my earlier advice of Don't. Fuck. With. Them. What you are looking for is a drying along the edges, bubbles that burst and do not immediately close all the way across the surface of the cake, and a lessening of steam. Don't lift them up to check and see the golden brown meets your high standards, flipping them and handling them will increase the chances of a fallen cake. That's ugly. Don't fucking do it. If you can't tell if a pancake is done by not touching it and just looking at it, you need to make a lot more pancakes until you get this part learned. You want a deep golden brown. Flip with a nice turn of your wrist and finish the cook.
For toppings you can use what ever you like. I am using maple syrup and some butter. That's the real thing, if you want maple flavor, get the syrup that was once inside a tree. I have no objections to any kind of fruit, whipped cream, or flavors of syrup. I have no objections to people who wrap up a sausage link into a little piggy in a blanket. I'm too busy dealing with my own pancakes to go all purity cop on somebody else's.

For now, football's on. I'll watch the game for a while and eat this delicious, easy meal.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Pots get hung, Seafood Salad gets made

The absence of counter and cupboard space here has me frustrated sometimes. After I stew for a bit I usually go into fix it mode. Cup hooks set into the underside on a cupboard and the pots are hung. I've actually been asked by people "if I hang the pots, where do I put the lids?" Take the lid that goes with that pot, slide it down the handle, hang it up. That way when you need to cook something covered you don't have to go through a stack of lids to find the one that fits.

I know it's hard to hear people talk about "a cooling trend" when the highs are still in the nineties, but, last night I was able to open the house and sleep breathing fresh air. When it's hotter than the southern slums of hell here it is easy to forget that the majority of our days are bright, filled with sunshine, and beautiful. I'm still not using blankets, but breathing unprocessed air is a godsend.

When it's hot out I like to make dishes ahead that I can easily assemble and eat. I have taco salad fixings that I've been eating off for a few days. My friend Angie came by last night and we ate heartily. There's still several meals left in it, but I thought I'd get another dish, meant to be served cold, and on the lighter end of things. I'm very happy with the weight I've lost since being here. It isn't any big project or deal, I'm just eating better and exercising. Most of the exercise is in the pool, but I've also started walking to AA meetings. There are three good ones all within walking distance, that's what I do.

I forget where I found the original recipe for this salad. Except for the dressing, I doubt what I have been making and eating for the last several years bears much, if any resemblance to what was on the page at the beginning.

That being the case, consider every ingredient, every proportion, to be suggestive only. If there are things you think would be good to add into it, by all means, go right ahead. One of the reason I made this today is that there were some fresh vegetables, a red bell pepper, and some celery that was due to be used. This is what I used today, I promise you, the next time I make this it will have different things in it

It all starts with pasta. The original called for vermacelli. I've used angel hair, rotini, penne, and just about anything. Go with your preferences, and what's in your cupboards. Today I'm using spaghetti because that's what I have. I prefer the longer, skinny pastas because they load up better with the dressing.
Boil up some water. You want it at a full, rolling boil, put in a good dose of salt, and add your pasta in.
  1. Stir that in and let it boil until it is "al dente." 
  2. While the pasta cooks, I make the dressing. It's easy, it is also very good.
That's a cup of mayonnaise, one packet of Good Seasons Zesty Italian, a half teaspoon of dry British mustard.
To that, add a cup of buttermilk. Whisk until smooth.
This is a great all around ranch dressing. Better than stuff you buy.
Another thing I like on salads, and just to have around are hard boiled eggs. Making hard boiled eggs is simple. Do it this way and people will marvel at how perfect they are.
Start the eggs on the stove, covered by cold water. Doing it this way you will not have so many blowed up eggs. Use a low/medium heat to bring up the temperature slowly. When it reaches a simmer
cover it and
set your timer for fifteen minutes. Now go do the other stuff that needs doing. Leave the eggs alone to cook slowly while covered.

I chopped up the red bell pepper, three large stalks of celery, thin sliced some purple onion, black olives, I even had a bit more than a cup of shredded lettuce left over from the taco salad run, in it went, along with most of a jar of Italian Giardineira pickles, and for good measure about two tablespoons of capers.

When the timer eggs goes off, drain off the boiling water, and cover them with ice.
Doing this will stop the eggs cooking, they'll shrink a bit and pull away from the shell. You will have bright yellow, fully cooked, fluffy yolks that don't have that green ring, and they will peel easily.

I blew up the time line a little. While the other stuff was going on, the pasta finished cooking and was drained, not rinsed, and put into the container for the assembly of the dish. While the pasta is still hot, I pour the dressing over it. The picture of the assorted vegetables came after all that, so know that while I was doing that the pasta was already in the container and dressed.

Last, we add in the seafood. Today it is that fake Krab stuff. It's much cheaper than crab, this was even on sale. Other things you can use are shrimp of any kind or size. I've used everything from the little tiny bay shrimp, to langostine and crayfish. There are no hard and fast rules, if you want it in, throw it in. If it sucks you can always do something different next time.

That gets chilled through. To serve, put it in a bowl, or on a plate and go to town. I like a topping here and there, a few red pepper flakes, some parmesan dusted over the top, a splash of soy sauce, or even better vietnamese fish sauce, the crunchy salad topping thingies, are all good.

I was thinking I might hang a few instruments today, but, I'm ready to watch college ball and eat my salad.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Peanut Butter Cookies

ok, so it seems that pretty much out of the gate i fell short of my posting regularly goal. things were happening, they demanded my attention, now it's over.

our day in palm springs started out with the temperature in the 90's, and raining. i figured i'd just roll with it and bake up some peanut butter cookies. i just think a counter looks right and together when there are cookies in the jar.

then, this afternoon, the sporadic rain turned into a micro cell bursting on top of us. the rain was coming down sideways, driven by high winds, the streets were flooded and running fast. after about twenty minutes of that, the power went off. they made a couple good tries getting it back on. enough for me to get a pot of coffee made, and scout out a couple leaks at the back door. towels were deployed. i took a nap. i woke up about 3:30 with the power still off, so i read for a while, practiced the guitar for a while, read some more. it was getting dark, and then it was getting darker, then it was really fucking dark. i was calling myself all kinds of stupid names, because after three power outages over the last month and a half i haven't bothered to stock in a flashlight, lantern, or even a few stupid candles. silly, silly, me.

a little after eight everything popped on. the rain did cool things off a lot. i've still got the house open, and it's very comfortable. i enjoy breathing actual, unprocessed air. it's nice to have the windows open for a change. the fans are keeping the air moving and it is a delight.

i decided that meant it was time to make the cookies. i'm using Martha Stewart's recipe. it's a good one. Martha Stewart is a goddess.

I won't go into the list of ingredients because what the hell, there they are at the link. me typing it out would only set up a risk of typos.

here's what it looks like though.

First you cream the butter and brown sugar together. since i don't have brown sugar yet i used a cup of white sugar with a little slug (about a teaspoon more or less) of molasses and it works just fine.

Add in the peanut butter, egg, and baking powder.
Add in the flour, one half cup at a time until well mixed.
Pinch off a bit of the dough, roll it into a ball, moosh it down with a fork crossways.

bake 18 to 20 minutes at 350, until the edges are a nice golden brown. cool on a rack for about 5 or six minutes, move the cookies off the sheet to another rack to cool further.

Keep doing that until the dough is all used. i got 18 good size cookies out of this.
See? That's what a cookie jar is supposed to look like.

I'm probably going to sleep with the windows open. That's pretty good.

Thursday, July 27, 2017


Making your own yogurt at home sends it into an entirely new realm. First off, it's cheaper. Second, it's much better.

The process is simple.

 Start with a half gallon of milk. Whole, skim, or 2% like I'm using here. Scald it. That means you bring right to the brink of a boil. Do. Not. Boil. It will make a horrendous mess. Once you see the ring of tiny bubbles around the wall of the pot, cut the heat, and wait for it to cool. This will kill off any bacteria besides the yogurt critters we will introduce later. I usually wait about an hour, or until I can pick up and handle the pot with bare hands without burning or discomfort.
The traditional way to do it involves boiling to reduce the water content and concentrate the milk solids, but, since I am avoiding the boil over mess making, add in 3 cups of powdered milk. This will achieve the same result.

Take some yogurt to use as a starter. This will introduce the yogurt bacteria to your cooled, concentrated solids milk. Then it's into the little yogurt maker. I use a French product called "YOGOURMET," which works its magic overnight. You can also set your oven on warm and leave the door cracked just a bit. Here's the deal though. You need things warm enough to grow the bacteria culture, but not hot enough to kill it. My little maker does all that. I just put the milk culture into the water bath in the canister, plug it in, and walk away.
This morning I spooned the yogurt into a muslin bag
and it's now hanging over a bowl on the shelf. This will drain the whey, which I will drink chilled (whey is full of nutrients, ask any body builder) with a spoon of gelatin to promote good nail and hair growth.

The difference between yogurt you buy and yogurt you make yourself is as pronounced a difference as you find with ice cream and bread. It's an entirely different food. It's packed with essential nutrients like calcium and Vitamin D.