Meals (Not Quite) Ready To Eat

No mixer? No cake pans? NO PROBLEM!

Archive for November, 2007

Wither Food Network?

Posted by acidqueen5426 on 26 November, 2007

Ah, the Food Network. I used to watch this channel religiously, for things like Cooking Live (even though I hadn’t the werewithal or equipment to cook along with Sara Moulton), The Essence of Emeril, Molto Mario, and my favorite: Passion for Dessert with Jacques Torres (who shall be referred to henceforth in this blog as Cute French Pastry Chef).

It was the House that Emeril Built, where a foodie could watch and learn from the masters*.

So, what has it become? Instead of “Learning to Cook”, it’s become more like “Watch People Cook Entertainingly”–or, as the network’s tagline says, “Way more than cooking”. It’s food-as-entertainment now, with precious little education going on.

I only watch it now for Dinner: Impossible (because I find Robert Irvine very entertaining), Nigella Lawson, Good Eats (the last educational bastion of the Food Network), and anything else Alton Brown hosts that isn’t “The Next Food Network Star”.


I’m not terribly enthused with about 98% of the stuff on the network–I mean, I dig me some humour and all, but in the main? The Food Network has really gone downhill in the pursuit of the LCD. We don’t see a lot of learning going on anymore. It’s all about food porn and eye-candy, and that disappoints me. I want to learn something and occasionally be entertained. I don’t want to have to put up with umpty-ump hours of Sandra Lee’s tablescapes and Rachael Ray’s annoying “YUMM-O” nonsense just to get to the nifty bits.

Of course, I say this as I’m re-watching Iron Chef America’s dessert tag-team throwdown and laughing my ass off at Paula Deen and Robert Irvine talking some serious smack to each other. So take this post as you will.

*:Inasmuch as a mass-appeal guy like Emeril can be considered a master. Dudeman is good, but not a “master”.


Posted in Fud Net'ork | 1 Comment »

The Persistence of Wish

Posted by acidqueen5426 on 21 November, 2007

Most children fight over the money and the house when their parents die.

My sister and I, however, are fighting over our mother’s KitchenAid stand mixer. The sad part of this is that Mom isn’t even dead yet. I have fond memories of that mixer–it was where I first made a bomb-ass Lady Baltimore Cake with a lovely orange-flavoured seven-minute frosting (which is possibly the best thing I have ever made). It was where I mixed batters and doughs and meringues and even made butter (it was an accident, but it was still some of the best butter I’ve ever had). My sister also has fond memories of the mixer, for it was her weapon of choice when perfecting her cooking skills–skills that far outstrip mine, I might add.

I want the damn thing. I want it almost as much as I want the Hurricanes to win another Stanley Cup. I want it more than I want a Bugatti Veyron. My sister can have everything else in Mom’s house–the antiques, the tchotchkes that we both keep badgering Mom to finally sell on eBay, the collected works of Rogers and Hammerstein on pristine vinyl, everything. I just want the mixer.

Of course, my sister feels the same way.

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Mustard-Scented Citrus Cranberry Dressing

Posted by acidqueen5426 on 20 November, 2007

Every year at this time, I do the same thing:

I go to the store and buy a box of sugar, three bags of cranberries, a bottle of Dijon mustard, and a few oranges so that I can make this dressing (which is the only way that I’ll eat cranberries–well, aside from craisins).

I went to make it this evening, and decided that some extra prep-work had to be done when I saw this:

What a mess!

The cooktop just needed a touchup, but the rest? Oh HELL NO. I’m tired of looking at that mess. My husband’s out on the West Coast for the next three days, so I decided to take advantage of the situation and clean up.

After cleaning up, throwing stuff out, putting stuff up and so forth, I got ready to cook.

The ingredients are:


3 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups water

3 12-ounce packages of cranberries (you can use fresh or frozen–I much prefer fresh. I also prefer the Ocean Spray brand, because they’re larger and easier to work with. But when you’re broke like I am, you kinda have to take what you can afford and make the best of it.)

salt and pepper to taste

The recipe I use originally called for two split vanilla beans, but I don’t have easy access to (or the money for) those, so I use 1/8 tsp vanilla extract instead.

The juice and zest of 1 orange (the oranges I have are rather small and have thick rinds–so I had to use two).

3 tbsp Dijon mustard–the brand I usually use was a bit out of the budget this year, so I went with a less-expensive brand whose name starts with E and ends with l’s and has “meri” in the middle.

I had a load of dishes running (which included my cooking implements), so I had a small snack and watched Top Gear (one of my favorite shows) while waiting:

Behold, the power of cheese

Mmmm….cheese. I had three small slices off that little block.

When the dishes were done, I threw a saucepan on the stove, fired up the burner, and put the water, vanilla extract, and sugar in the pan to simmer:

water, sugar, vanilla

While the simple syrup was coming up to the simmer, I got ready to juice those oranges:

One of two oranges

The juicing rig

I love that little strainer. Top Gear Top Tip: A small balloon whisk makes a great citrus reamer.

When the simple syrup had a nice rolling simmer going, I added the berries (which I picked over to get rid of leaves, stray stems, and other debris:

The berries!

Yes, that’s a lot of berries.

I switched to a tablespoon at this point, so I could stir the berries in the syrup without worrying about spilling half of them over the side and making a huge mess. After a couple minutes, I heard the berries starting to pop and release their juice, which started to turn the syrup a nice rosy shade:

I kept gently stirring and watching the heat for another fiveish minutes or so, serenaded all the while by the pop-pop-pop of the cranberries. When the syrup-and-berry mixture started to bubble up, I immediately took the pan off the heat and stirred in the mustard.





I was a little worried about this mustard, because it didn’t taste as pungent as the stuff I normally use. I then stirred in some zest that I pared off the oranges (You see the grater up there?  I tried to use that to zest, and failed miserably–all it did was make a huge mess. You see the orangish stain on my left index finger?  That’s from my attempt to use a cheese grater to zest an orange).

There’s the zest–I added the salt and pepper right after, and gave it a taste. Usually I taste a strong hint of the Dijon, but this time it was very understated; a most pleasant surprise that allowed the cranberries to take center stage with a nice citrus accent. I let the dressing cool, and then poured it into the bowl that I’ll be using for service:

Covered the bowl with some foil, and put it in the fridge to set up. The berries have their own natural pectin, so the dressing will gel slightly and gain a really nice viscosity. And it is absolutely yummy on its own, if you’re into that sort of thing. A small bit of whipped cream, and you are good to go.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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