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All posts for the month September, 2010

2452058411_31b275f6d1_mCharging a Pan

“Charging a pan” is another technique and term I throw around on the blog a lot that I wanted to explain further.

What is Charging a Pan?

In brief, charging a pan is just another name for preheating it.  It’s quite simple, all you have to do is put the pan on the burner, turn the burner on high and let it sit.

However, note that I said “preheating it” and “it” was a singular pronoun referring to the pan only, not the pan and oil in the pan.  If you put anything in the pan when you charge it, that thing might burn.  I was reminded of this fact this very morning when I served my son scrambled eggs with a nice aftertaste of BURNT.

I’m glad we understand each other. 🙂

Why Charge a Pan?

There are a couple of reasons why you want to charge a pan.  The best reason is when you are using a technique like a sear or a saute, which requires cooking the food over very high heat.  If you put the food in a cold pan, it can stick, it won’t cook evenly, and it won’t get that beautiful hard sear.  Also, getting the pan very hot will minimize the impact of adding food to the pan, which always causes it to cool.

Secondly, it is vitally important that you charge your pan if you are cooking something over a wok.  Have you ever seen the burners in a Chinese kitchen?  Those things are like mini jet engines, only hotter.  If you are at home on your standard burner, you need to get your wok HOT HOT HOT before stir frying for the best results.

Last, if you have an electric stove like some people (me, sadly), you should charge your pan so that it gets hotter faster.  If not, you are going to be killing a lot of time waiting for oil to get hot and water to boil.

When Good Pan Charges Go Bad

As mentioned above, just charge the pan, don’t charge the oil.

Also, you shouldn’t always charge the pan.  If you are cooking delicate foods (eggs, soft vegetables, seafood), all charging your pan will do is cause burnt food.

Last, keep in mind that even though you charged your pan on high heat, it doesn’t mean you can’t turn down your burner once you add the food.  Seriously, medium and medium high are your friend!

Thanks to Mel B. for the picture of Steam!

4455328823_8598c2a23c_mThree Second Fires

One of the things you’ve probably seen a few times on the blog is the concept of a three second fire.  I use this technique to gauge if a fire is ready to start cooking.  (Oh, and I wish I could say I invented the method, but I pretty much stole the whole concept from Steven Raichlen because he’s a pimp behind the grill.)

Anyway, I wanted to define (definitively) what a three second fire is.  All you need to do is start your grill, come back a short time later, hold your hand above the grill about eighteen inches and start counting:

one Mississippi…two Mississippi…three Mississippi

Now, at this point it should be too uncomfortable to leave your hand above the fire any longer.  If you can leave your hand there a bit longer, the fire is too cold.  If you had to remove your hand before that, it’s too hot.

Remember, though, three second fires are not a way to prove how manly you are by keeping your hand above a roaring flame.  If your hand is too hot, move the darn thing.  There’s no reason to get burnt and besides, if the fire is too hot, you’re going to burn your food anyway.

The Three Second Fire in Review

Okay, here is the three second fire in summary:

1.  Make Fire!
2.  When the coals look they like are ready to go (no black, all gray) hold your hand above the fire
3.  Count three seconds.  If you need to move your hand at that point, the fire is perfect.
4.  If you have to move your hand before three seconds, it’s too hot.  Slow the flow of air or push the coals around.
5.  If could keep your hand above the grill for longer, consider adding more charcoal, increasing the air or pushing the coals together

Happy grilling!  Enjoy!

Thanks to Robert S. Donovan for the pic.

2466670720_51d869a3a5_m

Buffalo Wings- #GoJunkFood

Welcome back to another edition of #GoJunkFood, where a bunch of my Twitter pals and I get together and blog about junk food.  Unfortunately, I find myself a bit pressed for time this #GoJunkFood edition.  See, this week I’ve already submitted a recipe for Island Fire Wings to Food52.  Also, I’m practicing for next week’s American Royal cooking demo where I will be making more wings (some with Intensity Academy hot sauce!)

And so normally I like to try and go all kung fu cooking ninja for #GoJunkFood and #LetsLunch, but this time it’s not going to happen.  Instead, I’ll do a nice wing recipe for people like me who are rushed, but still want to induce a heart attack with lots of deep fried chicken.

Oh, and before the recipe, here are the other #GoJunkFood bloggers:

Elle at Elle’s New England kitchen
Paula at The Dragons Kitchen
Heather at He Cooks, She Cooks
Renee at Flamingo Musings
Judy at No Fear Entertaining

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jaspers_cheers From HenHouse.comMan, I am so stuffed.  I just got back from dinner at Jasper’s.  Eggplant Othello, table side mozzarella, chicken saltimbocco, strudel for dessert (yeah, I know, I should have had cannoli, but I wanted to eat a German dessert at an Italian place.  So what?  Big whoop!  Wanna fight about it?  Good, because I’m too full.)

Oh, and we got a sneak peak (dear FTC that means we got it for free, the eggplant, too) at chef’s pear/bechamel rigatoni.  It was so good.  It’s my wife’s new favorite.  Though, I thought it might need some crispy pancetta.  But who am I?

Anyway, I was pretty sure that I wasn’t going to eat for a month.  Then I was reminded that Chef Jasper is having a winemaker dinner featuring wines from Banfi Vineyards which I have been invited to attend.  I’m excited, but I’m full.

And seriously, if I was a bear, I’d just go hibernate now, but I’m not a bear.  I’m a dude who eats.

So, I plan to not eat for a week and then check out this wine dinner.  From Jasper’s site, we’ll all be feasting on:

Receptione & Wine Discussion
Roasted Beets, Pistachio, Orange & Pecorino
Marinated Italian Olives
Lobster & Truffle Cappuccino
Schiacciata alla ‘Uva
Crispy Sweetbreads

I Nostre Pasta
Bucatini all’ Amatriciana

Insalata della Casa
Fresh Pear, Arugula and Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano

Piatti Principali
Tuscan Porchetta <—MMMM Porchetta
Soft Polenta & Harvest Greens

I Nostre Dolce
“On The Cannoli Trail”
Sicilian Cannoli Gelato
Nana Mirabile’s Cream Puffs

So, if you’re not doing anything, why don’t you have dinner with me and the people at Banfi Vineyards.

75.00 per person Tax & Gratuity extra

Each of Chef Jasper’s dishes will be paired with a Banfi Wine.  It’s at

September 29, 2010 7:00 PM.
Jasper’s Ristorante
1201 W. 103rd. Street
Kansas City, MO 64114

$75.00 per person
Tax & Gratuity extra

The website says: For reservations, please call Jasper’s @ 816.941.6600 or by e-mail at jasperjr@aol.com

So get to it, or else I might eat your portion.  And neither of us wants that.

Mmmmm…. cannoli…

From BlogWellDone.com’s favorite chef:

For Immediate Release
September 19th  2010
Contact: Chase the Cake Media
Mitch Baker 913-499-8842

Chef Jasper Mirabile says……Let there be cannoli!

Kansas City, Mo –Master Italian chef, Jasper Mirabile Jr. has declared
the month of September “National Cannoli Month” By decree of the master
cannoli maker, desert lovers in Kansas City will be able to enjoy a
massive show of cannoli power during September!

“I’m obsessed with finding the perfect cannoli!” says Jasper. I even
invented a Cannoli Therapy Patch for people who need a cannoli fix. I
dressed up last year as a cannoli for Halloween.  The end-story in my
cookbook is, “On the Cannoli Trail”…it’s all about my search for the
greatest cannoli in Sicily!

Join Jasper  On the Cannoli Trail in KC. at Hen House markets for
cannoli samples,  demonstrations and fresh made Jaspers cannoli at all
stores daily in the deli. Jasper’s Restaurant will offer  daily
specials and dozens of specialty flavors and  unique cannoli creations.

Cannoli originated in Palermo & the surrounding areas. They were
originally made for Carnival, which is a festival that occurs before
Lent. It is a crisp crust filled with fresh Ricotta cheese blended with
other ingredients. It takes it name from it’s long tubular shape &
dates back to the time when Sicily was occupied by Arabs in the 9th
century.

Keep in touch with Jasper’s cannoli adventures all September long!
Twitter: @JasperMirabile
Facebook : Jasper Mirabile
Facebook : Hen House Markets

DSC_0044-199x300Hey, thanks for stopping by!

If you have a minute, can you click over there to the right and vote for me to be the Next Food Blog Star on Project Food Blog?  I would really appreciate your vote.

Also, if you have any pressing food/cooking questions, include them in the comments.  I want to make sure this blog is helpful to you.

Chris

DSC_0044-199x300Why Am I the Next Food Blog Star?

A great food blog star isn’t made…a great food blog star is born.

When other kids were building sand castles in the sandbox, I made a sand oven and served sand roast beef.  And to my credit even at the tender age of three, I was smart enough to serve my roast beef with a side of au jus.  Even if I didn’t exactly know what that was and the au jus was just muddy water.  Yep, I was a sauce guy even back then.

One of my first memories ever was eating campfire food.  The only problem was that the campfire “food” was something  I had drawn in crayon and cooked over a campfire made out of construction paper (red and yellow, of course.)  I still remember how that campfire food tasted.

I later graduated to play dough pizza.  Which, if you can believe, tasted worse than the crayon food.

Undoubtedly, some of the other competitors will tell you about the first dish they made and how awful it was.  The first dish I ever made was a stir fry made from ground hamburger, spaghetti, canned mushrooms, and frozen vegetables.  Oh, and soy sauce.  Way too much soy sauce.   But it was good.  I made even made it for my friend’s family.  It’s probably better than half the stuff I make now.  Though I have gotten smarter about soy sauce.

In college, I cooked.  For myself, my roommates, potential dates, girls that my friends were trying to set me up with, etc.  I continued cooking for girls until I met the woman would be my wife.  On our first real date, I spilled tea on her.  For our second date, I set fire to my oven.

So, you can see that food has been with me my entire life.  But there are a lot people who can’t say the same thing.  And I’m not talking about “food as fuel” people.  God love ’em (even if I’ll never understand them), at least they have chosen their relationship with food.

There are people who are afraid to cook or who have never tasted a good meal.  For some of these people, it negatively impacts their self-esteem.  They think a good mom, a good dad, or a good friend should be able to bake or make dinner and their inability to do so makes them feel like less of a person.

I am for them.

Do I like it when foodies, chefs, gourmets, etc. try the recipes on my blog?  Sure.  But the pinnacle of being a food blogger is when some says “I was afraid to try X and because of your post, I did it.”   There is no greater moment for me.  Period.  (Well, except when they say they made it and it was good, I guess.)

And that happens for me now.  When I win Next Food Blog Star, I will do everything in my power to see that it happens every day.  Not for my ego, but for that mom who wants to give her children a treat, the dad who wants to put a meal on the table, or the friend who wants another way to say “I love you.”

That’s why I am the Next Food Blog Star.

Enjoy!

(Oh, plus, look at me.  I’m creepy.  Are you going to argue with me? :))

113792056_1e44ac026c_mEveryone, stop what you are doing because

Trader Joe’s Is Coming to Kansas City

According to KansasCity.com, Trader Joe’s has decided to open two locations in the Kansas City area, one on either side of the state line.

The first location will be at

4201 W. 119th St.
Leawood, KS

which puts it near Dean and Deluca, Pottery Barn, Williams Sonoma, Harry and David, and other stores where food aficionados enjoy shopping.

The other location will be at

8600 Ward Parkway
Kansas City, MO

It will be near Ward Parkway in the old Staples building.  An interesting location since it’s not necessarily a hot bed of culinary interest, but Trader Joe’s doesn’t make many bad choices.

So, Kansas City, this is a time to rejoice.

Why Am I So Happy?

Trader Joe’s is just a grocery store…right?  What’s the big deal?

Yes, Trader Joe’s is a grocery store.   Yes, it’s kind of fancy, but it’s not like other high end grocery stores for a couple of reasons, the biggest one being cost.

The prices at Whole Foods are legendary.  It’s not called Whole Funds (or Whole Paycheck) for nothing.  Not so with Trader Joe’s.  You can go there and expect to find hip brands, crazy sauces, fresh produce, etc.  However, through a series of intelligent business decisions including keeping SKUs limited, buying in bulk, and negotiating with venders, Trader Joe’s is able to keep prices down.  They’re not exactly a discount grocery chain, but the prices are more in line with other grocery stores.

So to recap:

High quality ingredients + low prices = lots of excitement

Oh, and the Trader Joe’s crew wear Hawaiian shirts all day during work.  That’s pretty cool.  So, add that in the equation.

High quality ingredients + low prices + Hawaiian shirts = lots of excitement

So, all I can say is c’mon 2011 I want some Joe’s.

Photo courtesy of Barbara L. Hanson from Flickr.

I don’t often post this kind of thing, but I feel I have to.  This is a part of a message I will be sending to the folks at Shatto Milk.

To the folks at Shatto,

Tonight at Jasper Mirabile‘s dinner, I was fortunate enough to try a slice of your as of yet unnamed cheese.  It was beautifully complex, with notes of Parmesan, provolone, gruyere, and gorgonzola, all mixed into one.  I savored each and every nibble of that cheese and ate far closer to the rind than I normally would.  Scratch that.  I think I ate the rind.  It looked like a cracker in the Jasper’s “mood lighting.”

However, despite this, I have one small problem.  I am currently weeping because I don’t have any more of your delicious cheese at my disposal for my continued consumption.  If at all possible, I would like to be told what I can do to rectify this situation as soon as possible.

I would appreciate any attention you can give to this matter as I consider it to be a problem of the utmost urgency.

Thanks,

Chris

P.S. If I cannot get more of your cheese, then I will hold my breath until such time as I pass out.  This might lead to me slamming my forehead into my desk and causing brain damage.  I do not believe that you want this on your conscience, so the next move is yours.

P.S.S. Thanks for continuing to supply Blanc Burgers with cheese curds.  They are good as well.

Don't Cook with this Pumpkin

Don't Cook with this Pumpkin

It’s time again for #LetsLunch and I am making

Pumpkin Subs

Which are just as weird as you think they should be, while at the same time being really, really good.

First, a quick primer on what, exactly #LetsLunch is.  It’s a Twitter tag (obviously), but it’s also when a bunch of food bloggers get together to blog about one of their three favorite meals.  This month’s theme is Fall Picnic Food.

However, I would like to call a point of order.  I voted for the theme to be tailgating food, however the tide quickly turned against me.  Realizing that discretion is the better part of valor, I relented only to deliver the coup de grace in the form of one simple realization: a tailgate is basically just a fall picnic with some pigskin thrown in for good measure.

Why do I mention this?  I’m not really sure, but it seemed important at the time.

Anyway, are you ready?

Are You Ready?

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FALL PICNIC!

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