Saturday, August 12, 2006

Sarah Silverman: Last Laugh '05

i have seen this several times, it always makes me laugh out loud. i appreciate the brazeness of her comedy. she consistently goes too far. and that's where she likes to be.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Ingredients List for Chocolate Soufflé

In response to a valid criticism of my writing style when it comes to recipes (as in, "why not put all the ingredients we need up at the top so we don't find ourselves scrambling to get something in the middle of something critical)

You're right. I'm sorry. Here's what you need.

Unsalted european style butter 3 tablespoons plus some to coat the soufflé dish.
3 tablespoons cake flour
7 whites from the freshest eggs available (room temperature)
5 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups whole milk
12 ounces coarsly chopped bittersweet 70% cocoa mass chocolate
1/2 cup room temperature espresso strained
1/2 cup + baker's sugar (1/4 cup for the chocolate base, 1/4 cup for the egg whites, a little extra to dust the soufflé dish)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

There that's what you need for the soufflé

I apologise for my thoughtlessness.

p.s. see Mom? I didn't say "fuck" once through the whole thing. Happy?

Friday's Random Ten

Without further ado, for the enjoyment of my daughter in Ireland (it's her favorite post of the week because she says it gives her a window into her favorite musician's mind) The iPod random button is hit and the first ten that pop today are

Glory Days - - Bruce Springsteen
track 7 - - me playing turlogh o'carolan
Johnny Too Bad - - Desmond Decker
Papa was a Rolling Stone - - Temptations
Dunmore Lassies - - Chieftains (with Ry Cooder)
Hold on I'm Comin' - - B.B. King and Eric Clapton (live bootleg)
Blue Moon - - Billie Holiday
Son of a Preacher Man - - Etta James (live bootleg)
He Moved Through the Fair - - Sinead O'Connor

bonus track - - hit random twice take the top

Mwana Wa Ndigwa - - Mibriri Young Stars of Nairobi

What ya'll listenin' too?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Chocolate Soufflé

Don't be afraid. I repeat. A soufflé is nothing to be afraid of. Right wing mormons and christians scare me more than the idea of making a soufflé. Somehow, somewhere along the line, the art of the soufflé has acquired this image of difficulty that would lead you think it shouldn't be attempted without some kind of witch doctors putting the mamba jahamba on the kitchen for you.

I'll be quite frank with you. Soufflés are simple. The rub is that simplicity demands perfection. Be fussy about the ingredients. There really aren't that many. Every single one of them counts. Counts. A. Lot. This recipe will serve four, and can be safely doubled with another soufflé dish.

Let's start with the soufflé dish. Fucking. Buy. One. I've heard heresy out there that suggests substituting a springform cake pan. Don't even try. As soon as you've demystified the process of the soufflé you'll be using the hell out of it. Buy a 2 or 2 1/2 quart ceramic soufflé dish. Quit whining and do it. You can use it for an ashtray if this recipe doesn't work.

When you take your soufflé dish from the cupboard make sure to wipe it out well with a very slightly damp towel. While you're at it do the mixing bowl for the egg whites and the chocolate base. Then let them air dry for at least 30 minutes. That will take care of two of the biggest enemies we will have to face, dust and water. Hate them both while you're souffléing (is that a word? if not it should be and will be for the rest of this post). When it is completely, utterly, totally dry use some european style unsalted butter (a good irish butter is best, but Challenge dairy out west has a very servicable product on the shelves of most self respecting grocers) and give an even coating to the inside of the dish. (you can't really over butter, but you do not want any gobs or dabs, it must be smooth) Then, dust the inside with finely ground sugar (between granulated and powdered, sometimes sold as "baker's sugar") There is an old myth that the butter and sugar helps the soufflé to rise, it's not true. It does help to make a sturdier crust which will translate into better structural integrity and also aid in removing the soufflé from the dish. Set this aside. Heat the oven to 375°

Make friends with someone who raises chickens so that you can get totally fresh eggs. Or buy them fresh from a roadside stand. If you're in the city, find yourself a totally obsessed pastry chef and get his egg connection. Come to think of it, inviting them over for a chocolate soufflé is a pretty perfect way to win yourself a chicken raising pal. Separate out 7 egg whites into a large steep sided mixing bowl that is completely clean and dry. Keep 5 yolks handy for the chocolate soufflé base.

Have a large pot on the front of the stove about 3/4 full of slowly boiling water. We're talking a real boil here but you don't want a lot of turbulance. Take a large, metal mixing bowl (you can go big here because you absolutely do not want any of the water you're heating over to get into the bowl. if that happens you're fucked)
Take 3 tablespoons of unsalted euro butter and melt them in the mixing bowl over the boiling water. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of cake flour and 1 1/2 cups whole milk. Cook this, stirring constantly until it begins to thicken slightly. Then whisk in 12 ounces of coarsly chopped bittersweet chocolate of at least 70% cocoa mass. Since this is the main flavor of the dish, do not try to save yourself any money here. There are times to economise and times to cut a corner here and there but this is not one of those times. I use the Trader Joe's Pound Plus® 70% cocoa mass bar, it's the same chocolate base I use for my truffles and it is good, readily available stuff. If you want to use Swiss, Belgian, Dutch or French top level brands please do so. If you have an absolute favorite brand of top flight chocolate, by all means, be my guest. Make sure that it contains at least 70% cocoa mass and you'll be fine. When the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy remove the bowl from over the boiling water (turn off the stove top)

Set the chocolate bowl down on a towel on the counter and whisk in 1/2 cup room temperature espresso coffee, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1/4 cup of baker's sugar (strain through a sieve or cheesecloth to make sure there are no little chunks or don't worry about a thing if you cheat and use pods while making your espresso) Now add five egg yolks one at a time while whisking. It will begin to look like your chocolate has seized up or some other horrid disaster has befallen your thick glossy chocolate base but do not be afraid. The graininess and ugly chunky stuff will disappear when we fold it in the egg white mixture.

Like with the angel food cake I can't explain why I prefer the end product produced by a hand whipping as opposed to an electric mixer. I might even be delusional about this. I say I can tell the difference and I say to hell with the mixer right now. I use a big, thin wire whisk. 7 egg whites and 1/4 teaspoon cream of tatar in the mixing bowl and mix to the stage of soft peaks. This means that when you lift your whisk out of the egg white mixture a peak will form, but will tilt and curl over. Soft. Peaks. That's what we're looking for. Now begin to slowly add 1/4 cup of the baker's sugar, whipping away the whole time. Take it from here to Stiff Peaks. Which is just what it sounds like. You want Viagra® stiff here. Don't give up or punk out. Stiff. Peaks. Bitchez.

In about four stages, fold the egg white mixture into the chocolate base. BE GENTLE. Use a soft (i have a trick silicone gel one that i love) spatula and go slowly and gently but also be relentless. The idea here is to not break the egg white fluffy thing down any more than is absolutely neccessary for a complete mix. Once all streaks of white are gone pour into your prepared soufflé dish and put it on the middle rack of the oven. 35 to 40 minutes of baking should do the trick. You want the soufflé to have risen dramatically over the top of the dish (about 2 inches is what i fucking call dramatic) Remove from the oven, dust with confectioner's sugar and serve. It will start to fall within two minutes so don't lollygag around. Some people like to divide the soufflé into smaller ramekins so that everybody gets their own little soufflé all to themselves. I don't do that because the bigger dish soufflé rise better and stay up longer. Dig right into it with a big spoon and put it on a plate in front of them and they won't fucking complain, trust me.

Serve with coffee (for us non alcohol drinking types), brandy, dry white wine, champagne or calvados for the perfect dessert. Simple. Elegant. Sophisticated. Soufflé.

Again, I stand ready to offer any technical advice, answer any questions and dispell any myths or fears surrounding this dish. Drop a dime in the comments and I will do my utmost to ensure your success. Be bold. Don't overcomplicate. Be precise and certain in your measuring. This works like a charm. If you serve it to someone you love, you're getting laid that night. For. Sure.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A note from Michael Moore

I ended up on Mr. Moore's mailing list. I enjoy his work and respect his tireless activism. TV Nation was genius work. That's why it got canceled so soon. But, without further ado . . .this is what I got this morning.


Let the resounding defeat of Senator Joe Lieberman send a cold shiver down the spine of every Democrat who supported the invasion of Iraq and who continues to support, in any way, this senseless, immoral, unwinnable war. Make no mistake about it: We, the majority of Americans, want this war ended -- and we will actively work to defeat each and every one of you who does not support an immediate end to this war.

Nearly every Democrat set to run for president in 2008 is responsible for this war. They voted for it or they supported it. That single, stupid decision has cost us 2,592 American lives and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives. Lieberman and Company made a colossal mistake -- and we are going to make sure they pay for that mistake. Payback time started last night.

I realize that there are those like Kerry and Edwards who have now changed their position and are strongly anti-war. Perhaps that switch will be enough for some to support them. For others, like me -- while I'm glad they've seen the light -- their massive error in judgment is, sadly, proof that they are not fit for the job. They sided with Bush, and for that, they may never enter the promised land.

To Hillary, our first best hope for a woman to become president, I cannot for the life of me figure out why you continue to support Bush and his war. I'm sure someone has advised you that a woman can't be elected unless she proves she can kick ass just as crazy as any man. I'm here to tell you that you will never make it through the Democratic primaries unless you start now by strongly opposing the war. It is your only hope. You and Joe have been Bush's biggest Democratic supporters of the war. Last night's voter revolt took place just a few miles from your home in Chappaqua. Did you hear the noise? Can you read the writing on the wall?

To every Democratic Senator and Congressman who continues to back Bush's War, allow me to inform you that your days in elective office are now numbered. Myself and tens of millions of citizens are going to work hard to actively remove you from any position of power.

If you don't believe us, give Joe a call.

Michael Moore

IMG_7281 random flickr blogging

Originally uploaded by megoo.
you certainly can find some odd things at a club down in old soho

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Angel Food Cake

I'm at my mother's house, it's my baby sister's birthday and she asked for Angel Food. I love this
cake. I have a recipe from my great grandmother that I use. Here it is. I'm using her wording,
from the card in the box she gave me. You'll have to imagine the t'ick irish accent yourself.
There's art and alchemy in the angel food cake, but when they work, oh lordy, they're good.

Measure and sift together three times, 1 cup sifted cake flour, and 7/8 cup (3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp)
sugar. (you can't skip the sifting folks, your texture depends on it, I've tried and paid the price for

In a large, steep sided bowl put 14 egg whites (if you know anybody with chickens the fresher the
eggs the better) at room temperature, to separate the yolks, you will want to have a small bowl to
do the separation in, and a bowl for the yolks. If there is a speck of yolk in your egg white, put it,
bowl and all aside for the omelettes you make later, get another small bowl and keep going. The
yolks you set aside are the best reason I can think of to make a hollandaise soon. 1/2 teaspoon
cream of tartar, 1/4 teaspoon salt (non iodized if possible) 1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (spend
your money get the real shit), 1 teaspoon almond extract. Have on the side 3/4 cup of sugar.

Now here's where the witchcraft starts. I love my exotic kitchen gadgets. My big, huge, high
fucking horsepower kitchenaide mixer with the attachments and powered sex toy hookups, but
with angel food, I don't go there. I whip by hand. I can't understand the physics or chemistry
enough to explain why this makes for a better cake. I just know it. Angel food is all about
texture. When I whip by hand the texture is better. Don't know why, just know it is. I have a
flat, wire spoony type thing gran gave me a long time ago, that's what I use. A good french whisk
will do the trick if your gran didn't love you as much as mine did me. Deal with it.

Beat the egg white mixture gently at first. Use a vertical, circular motion, remembering that you
are trying to incorporate air at this stage. When it gets uniformly foamy begin adding a
tablespoon at a time of sugar. When the sugar's all in get busy whipping. Whip until your arm
falls off, then switch arms. You want (quoting gran here) stiff, straight peaks. Don't
forget to scrape the sides down with a spatula as you do this.

Now, gently, gradually, carefully, fold the flour/sugar stuff into the stiff whites. You want to do
this in a way that will not break more of the little bubbles of egg white you so tediously whipped
up. To keep myself entertained and in the proper mood I usually sing to myself at this point. Something lilting and quiet like The Skye Boat Song or Baidin Fheilimi. The trick here is to be gentle but thorough, the bubbles must be preserved while mixing because they are what will give the lightness and resilience to your end product. Once done, gently
turn into an angel food cake pan (that's the one with the posty coney thing in the middle and no, a
bundt pan will not fucking do).

Now, give the pan several sharp raps on the counter (put a towel down first so you don't scare the
cats) to start the bigger bubbles moving, then take a thin blade knife (a filet blade works well)
and cut rapidly through the batter to pop any lurkers there might be. A few more raps, then put it
in the center rack of a cold oven. Again, I don't know why this step is so critical, but it is.
Turn the heat to 300° and set a timer for fifty minutes. At fifty minutes you should have a
light brown puffy top. If it's perfect, it will slightly bulge over the top of the pan. Now check the
cake every five minutes. You want a nice rich golden brown but if your cake starts to fall even a
little bit take it out. If you can make a full hour without any falling you've done well with your
whipping. At an hour, it should be enough.

Cool the cake completely inverted on a bottle. To remove from the pan use a thin, flexible blade
and pop it out. Use the knife to cut around the bottom and the coney posty part and place on your
serving plate.

To serve, cut nice wedges and top with fresh sliced strawberries, fresh peaches (or you can go
apeshit and melba them), I have also been known to cube this cake and dip them in
tempered chocolate (totally sinful, that's why I like it) and serve.

What you will find in a well made angel food cake is tenderness, an absence of crumbs, and
lightness. Sublime, wonderfull, lightness. You can put the fears of any dieters to rest by stating
that there's zero fat in my cake which won't account for the sugars but hey, take your
stand and they won't mess with you.

Mom's fucking cable just went out again so I'm going to transfer this to Notepad and post it when
I can.

As always, with Harp and Sword recipes, I will be ready to give advice, counsel, and
technical support if you wish it. Try it and let me know how you do. Gran will be smilin' on
your success.