Archive for the 'reviews' Category


May 27, 2012

Recipe: Review: Zombie Cupcakes: From the Grave to the Table with 16 Cupcake Corpses

Author: Chris PerrinMay 27, 2012

Zombie Cupcakes: From the Grave to the Table with 16 Cupcake Corpses

I’ve been catching up on The Walking Dead Season Two the past several nights.  I’m really enjoying the drama, the characters, the production, really…all of it.  Still, for those of you who have seen the show, you’ll believe me when I say it’s not making me hungry.  Like, not all.  (Nor particularly cheery for that matter.)

On the other hand, when Zombie Cupcakes: From the Grave to the Table with 16 Cupcake Corpses crossed my desk (thanks to the great folks at Andrews McMeel Universal for the copy), I got to thinking that it might not be so bad to eat a zombie now and then.  A cake zombie that is.

What’s the Book About?

This book is equal parts love letter to zombies and manual for making great cupcakes.  Recipes are introduced with zombie trivia questions (I was dismayed to see how many I got wrong…) and the designs themselves pay homage to many popular zombie myths, including the T-virus from Resident Evil, baseball bats for zombie bashing, and, of course, step-by-step instructions for how to make brains delicious enough for zombies and children alike.

Recipes start with decorations and the basics including how to make royal icing, blood colored gel, teeth, crosses, maggots and the aforementioned baseball bats.  Then the book goes on to give 16 different recipes ranging from Toxic Bite to Zombies Rising to my personal favorite, Bride and Groom (see the cover above.)  What’s even more impressive is the cupcakes aren’t just pretty to look at, they’re also delicious to eat with their assortment of frostings and fillings.

Even better, author Zilly Rosen obviously had would-be/wannabe/never-was cupcake designers like myself in mind when she wrote the book because the illustrations and techniques are simple enough that I think I could even make these cupcakes.

Fun Fact(s) I Learned Reading the Book

The budget for the Thriller video was $500,000, which in those days I bet was HUGE money.

There was a zombie movie in 1943 called I Walked with a Zombie.  I had no idea…

What’s Well Done?

This book gets high marks for three things.  First, it’s passion.  Either Zilly herself or someone involved in making this book loved zombies.  That much is obvious because the book is so much fun to read.

Two, the visuals in the book are great.  You know when you’re dealing with zombies, there’s going to be gore involved and this book doesn’t fail to deliver (for instance the Eye Popper recipe is very disturbing.)  Still, it’s not so gross I wouldn’t show my kids or eat one of the cupcakes if they were served to me.

Three, the ease-of-use of the book.  Literally, the illustrations of how to make the feet, eyes, zombie brides, etc. are fantastic and very userfriendly.

What’s a Little Rare

I thought the book was over before it was done.  There’s a lot of creativity in the pages and I’m sure with all the work that went into making the book great that expanding it would have been difficult or even cost prohibitive, but I just wanted more.

I’m not saying the book isn’t worth it’s price tag or anything, I just wanted to see more ideas and more zombie gruesomeness.

Overall

If you like decorating cupcakes or if you want to be good at it, this is a great book.  While the techniques focus on zombies, I have no doubt that they couldn’t work for other things, too.

Enjoy!

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May 26, 2012

Recipe: Review: Edible Cocktails – From Garden to Glass

Author: Chris PerrinMay 26, 2012

Edible Cocktails – From Garden to Glass

So, I was lucky enough to receive an copy of  Natalie Bovis’ (aka The Liquid Muse aka the person responsible for getting me into blogging) new cookbook Edible Cocktails: From Garden to Glass – Seasonal Cocktails with a Fresh Twist and am I impressed.  I’m not much of a mixologist, in fact most of my at-home mixed drink making involves a one second pour of vokda or gin and filling my glass with soda, but I know a good cookbook when I see one.

And when I see Edible Cocktails, I see one.

What’s the Book About?

The premise behind Edible Cocktails is simple: take everything that’s great about farm-to-table dining and apply it to mixology.  Organic produce, Slow Food (er Cocktails), growing your own ingredients, it’s all in there, but for cocktails.

It’s not something I had thought of, but it makes so much sense.  If I want only the best, freshest, most-carefully-raised produce in my dinner, why not in my drinks as well?  If I care about the tomatoes that go into my marinara, why not the tomatoes in my bloody mary?  If I care about the herbs on my roast chicken, why am I not striving for the same in my mojito?

To make this vision reality, Edible Cocktails gives you a wealth of information about what you can grow at home, basics on how to grow them, and a full rundown of the different types of liquor and tools you will use to make excellent drinks.

Oh, and there are recipes.  Lots of recipes!  They range from classic martinis to sours to pizza slice cocktails to bacon cherry creek cocktails…and that’s just the drink recipes.  There are syrup recipes, mezcal recipes (chorizo mezcal anyone???), garnishes, and instructions on making your own liqueurs, like homemade Irish cream–all of which keep the focus on farm to table cooking and mixing.  That’s pretty sweet.

Fun Fact(s) I Learned Reading It

One, whisky and whiskey are both proper spellings of the hard alcohol.  However, whisky applies mainly to Scotch and whiskey to everything else, including American bourbon.

Two, a cocktail and a mixed drink are not the same thing.  Cocktails only refer to a subset of mixed drinks!  This means Americans have been using the term wrong (including me in the paragraphs above… d’oh!)

What’s Well Done

Edible Cocktails is filled with information, but it’s not a textbook.  The photos are gorgeous and the layout makes absorbing all of Natalie’s information easy.  It never feels like this book is an info dump.  It’s more like a conversation with a good friend who just happens to know how to mix a fantastic drink.

What’s A Little Rare

No pun intended, but I wish there had been more conversation around using meat and raw eggs in cocktails.

I have this feeling that Natalie is perfectly fine drinking an infused liquor that has had meat in it or a drink with a raw egg, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that a lot of American audiences (myself included) are not.  We need to be warmed on the subject, given reassurances, and given more tips on how to avoid foodbourne illness.

Overall

With that said, this is a great cookbook.  Edible Cocktails is very clever idea whose time has come and who better to help us through it than bar industry veteran, multiple mixology cookbook writer, and long time cocktail blogger Natalie Bovis?

Enjoy!

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January 14, 2012

Recipe: Sushi Mido in Shawnee, KS

Author: Chris PerrinJanuary 14, 2012

Sushi Mido

(By the way, I go off on a tanget for a bit.   If you’re just here for the review, go down to the break!)

I was in the mood for Dim Sum this morning…but I had one obstacle standing in my way: BWD, Jr.  Ever the Chinese buffet connoisseur, BWD, Jr. wanted to get Chinese from a buffet and I wanted to go some place real.  So, we decided to go to the all-you-can-eat sushi place instead.  (Yeah, I don’t get it either.)

But … All You Can Eat Sushi???

Yes, all-you-can-eat sushi.  I know what you’re thinking.  When you’re paying $17.95 for all the sushi you can possibly stuff down your gullet (did I mention they’re learning to fear me there?), the first thing people think is: wow, the ingredients must suck.  You, know, that’s not an unreasonable thought.

Anytime you go to an all-you-can-eat anything, you can feel assured you’re sacrificing quality over what you would get in a by-the-plate restaurant.  However, in an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant, you have a leg up over most other buffets because the sushi is hand rolled.  So whereas that vat of beef with broccoli sitting in a steam tray has likely been given all the care shown to the garbage as its tossed in the dumpster (note: I don’t know if that’s true.  I am sure there are some places that really put effort into their buffet offerings, but I think about 99% of “Chinese” food was is made is a Cisco lab somewhere), the sushi you get at an all-you-can-eat place has been hand crafted.

Plus, Sushi Mido is pretty smart about how they do their all-you-can-eat.  First, you can only get rolls, which are full of rice and more filling than individual nigiri or sashimi and, while I haven’t done an extensive survey, the ingredients that form the rolls are pretty limited: crab, fried shrimp, cream cheese, cucumber, etc.  So, my assumption is that Sushi Mido buys a lot of stuff in bulk.

All of which leads up to something I figured out today

If You Turn Your Nose Up at All You Can Eat Sushi and Order Rolls Anywhere Else You Obviously Like Overpaying for Fish*

Well, at least you live in the Midwest.

Really, this insight hit me when the first artful plate of sushi arrived at my table.  Looking at the rolls they present, they’re essentially the exact same rolls you get at any other sushi place, even the really fancy ones like Ra or Nara, where hip KC-ers go for sushi.  Let’s face it, in the middle of the country, there are only so many outlets for sushi-grade fish.  Plus, once it finds its way into any roll, whether it’s a fancy lollipop thingy at Ra or the Midnight Fantasy roll at Sushi Mido, it’s still a sushi roll.  At that point, you should be judging the individual roll, not the style of restaurant.

Okay, so all tangets aside, let’s get back to why we’re here.

Sushi Mido Review

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September 18, 2011

Recipe: #GoJunkFood Egg Rolls

Author: Chris PerrinSeptember 18, 2011

eggrolls#GoJunkFood Presents Egg Rolls

With all apologies to the #GoJunkFood crowd, this post is incredibly late (like months late), but as a few sharp people have noticed, I haven’t exactly been posting a lot.  Which is no good.

Most importantly, though, I must say sorry to the egg rolls.  You should have your story told to the world so you can be eaten.  You deserve it.

And if I don’t say something about you, egg rolls, who will?

Egg Rolls

Okay, that’s just silly.  Just about everyone who digs Chinese food (and many who don’t) love egg rolls and why not?  They’re fried.  Fried is awesome.  And they have pork inside.  Pork is awesome.

And they’re really easy to make at home.  No foolin’.  It really only takes three steps to put them together:

1. Make the filling.

2. Roll the roll.

3. Fry

Then it’s meal time.  Ready to give it a try?

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July 2, 2011

Recipe: Livestrong Park — A Foodie’s Dream

Author: Chris PerrinJuly 2, 2011

Food at LivestrongEating Well at Livestrong Park

First of all, to whom it may concern: Chef Wade Taylor, Executive Chef at Livestrong Park working for KC American Sportservice, is a genius.  There, let me never be accused of burying my lead.

Okay, with that said, let me back up.  I love Twitter.  No seriously, one day I tried to say I was married to it on Facebook.  Why do I love tweeting so much?  Because I’m always finding myself talking to interesting people on it about food.  Which is how, one day out of the blue, I asked @SportingKC about the concessions at Livestrong and if anyone had reported on what they were serving.

And that’s the story of how I got to tour Livestrong Park’s many multiple kitchens with Chef Wade as my personal guide.

It’s also how I got to taste some of his creations.  Which is how I can say for sure he’s a genius.

The Setup at Livestrong

I’ll be the first to admit that when I first asked @SportingKC about the food at Livestrong, I was prepared to be underwhelmed.  I assumed that unless I was in the owner’s box, I’d be treated to a fine assortment of hot dogs, nachos, and maybe, if I was lucky, a burger.  Maybe.

Joke’s on me.  Livestrong Park is perhaps the most fantastic cooking set up in which these feet have ever tread.  Not only are there at least four kitchens (that I saw), the stadium has everything: fryers, ovens, pop corn poppers, smokers, sous vide machines, pizza ovens, a wine cellar with flour-to-ceiling bottles, and, more than likely, a partridge and a pear tree (though that wasn’t part of the tour.)  It was basically a “Chef’s Disney Land” according to Chef Wade.

Dining at Livestrong

Fruit and CheeseOf course, Chef Wade and his crew have to have a big capacity to make food because there are a lot of places in Livestrong to eat.  In addition to the concession stands, there’s the Field Club (an area at field level serving all-you-can-eat fruit and cheese, charcuterie, meat at carving stations, seafood selections, veggies, barbecue and other various chef’s specialty items.)

Then there’s the Shield Club, a less formal dining area offering an a la carte menu across seven different pods that range from sushi inspired by the chefs from Nara, Minsky’s pizza, a sausage station, BBQ, dessert, and a burger/beer station that offers perhaps the best value at the club.  For $10, you can get a bacon cheese burger topped with special potatoes and special sauce served with a side order of fries.  From what I hear, before it’s all said and done, that’s a six inch tall (or more) burger with fries for less than what you’d pay at any gourmet burger place in the city.SAM_0219

Then there are the luxury boxes which have a common serving area that offers many of the same amenities as the Field Club, but serves everything as beautifully presented small plates.  These plates include salad selections and the Food Network’s recipe for drunken pork.  So good.

And, if you’re not tired of walking by now, there’s still the wine cellar and the pizza oven in the owner’s box, which is actually two stories and can seat a small army of hungry eaters.

In other words, lots of good stuff going on.

Events at Livestrong

SAM_0235Oh, and if that’s not enough, when there’s not a game on, there’s concerts and special events.  For instance, this year Farm Aid’s at Livestrong, which will force Chef Wade and his team (in particular Chef Pascal) to build an organic, seasonal menu in keeping with Farm Aid’s traditions.  (I’m trying to get an idea of what the menu will be there…stay tuned for more details.)

Also, when there’s not a game, you can have your event (company meeting, corporate outing, wedding, eat-a-thon) at Livestrong.  The day I was there, the Mexican Chamber of Commerce and a Jewish business group were both holding functions.  I point this out because Chef Wade was given the opportunity to prepare authentic dishes for both groups…at the same time.  I didn’t get to try the food for the Mexican Chamber of Commerce, but I could smell it.  And it smelled good.

I did get to some of the Jewish group’s (specially ordered kosher) menu: smoked fish (flown in special for the event) on sliced bread with apple cream cheese.  It was so good.  So good.

What Else Did I Eat?

SAM_0192Well after walking across the stadium, up it, down it, and shutting Chef Wade’s hand in the walk-in (oops), he was gracious enough to let me try a few items.

Of what I tried, three dishes really stood out.  The first was the drunken pork mentioned above.  It was deep, carmelized, warm, salty and just a little bit sweet.  That pork was paired with the second of the memorable dishes: a spicy slaw with celery root.  The slaw was cool, which went well with the pork, but had such an amazing flavor from the celery root.  I never thought I’d like celery slaw but it was terrific and brought out the deeper notes in the pork.

Last was a cold white truffle polenta.

SAM_0217This polenta should have its own entry in the Encyclopedia of Awesome.  Although, even as I type “cold white truffle polenta” I am a man of many emotions.  One on hand, I still can’t get over: cold?  polenta?  No, that can’t be right.  On the other hand, I remember how amazing it was.  The cold of the polenta against a perfectly cooked rosemary chicken (and maybe some of the slaw and pork…)  The differences in temperature making the dish come alive, while still delivering just the perfect earthy flavor of white truffle.  I thought I had had good polenta.  No polenta is as good as that polenta. 

So in summary: I.  WANT.  MORE.

The Bad News

Sadly,  the Shield Club, Field Club and (strangely enough) the Owner’s Box, aren’t open for everyone.  You have to have a special ticket as part of your season ticket package (I checked) and they’re all sold out this year.  But, there’s always next year.  And it’s worth it for the food!

With that said, I’m going to do my best Tom Cruise/Ethan Hawke impression and see if I can’t Mission: Impossible my way into the Field Club.  Maybe I can dangle from the ceiling, dropping down to steal a bite when no one is looking.  Yeah, that will work.

In Conclusion

Buy season tickets.  It’s worth it to eat.

And thanks to Chef Wade for the tour.  I wish him the best of luck and to all of you looking for a job…

HE’S HIRING!!!  He needs to staff up, so maybe you, too, can play in a chef’s Disney Land.

Enjoy!

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April 18, 2011

Recipe: If You Won’t Give Me Free Cake on My Birthday, I’m Not Coming to Your Restaurant

Author: Chris PerrinApril 18, 2011

If You Won’t Give Me Free Cake on My Birthday, I’m Not Coming to Your Restaurant

Birthday Cake

Really, the title says it all.

I know, it’s kind of a weird thing coming from yours truly, but it’s true.  I have made a decision: if a chef isn’t willing to put forth the effort (which I believe to be minimal effort) to do something nice for me one day a year, I’m not going.  And not only am I not going on my birthday, if I find out that a restaurant is the type of place that ignores a patron’s birthday entirely, I am not coming back ever.  Never ever.

This is not a decision I take lightly.

I came to this decision where I have come to many of my great restaurant decisions: Shogun. (You thought I was going to say Jasper’s, didn’t you?)  It was many years ago and Andy, the owner and amazing sushi chef at Shogun, offered me a beer.  A Kirin in fact.  It was a small gesture, considering the retail price of the beer was about 1/15 the price of the sushi I had ordered, but it was touching nonetheless.  It was a small gesture, but he didn’t have to try and offer me something that he felt would enhance my meal.  He did and I found the interplay of Kirin and sushi to be kind of nice.  And I remember it clearly years later.

Shogun wasn’t the first place that gave me a free something on my birthday.  I cannot repay the Chinese buffet (that has since gone out of business) in Knob Noster, MO for getting me to try cheesecake.  It was my 15th birthday and the waitress brought out a slice of plain cheesecake.  Until the point, I would have sworn I hated the stuff.  Was I ever wrong.

I think I can still recite Red Lobster’s birthday song (hey, cut me some slack, I live in the Midwest.)  Something about the good news is we sing for free, the bad news is we sing off key.  Anyway…

And of course, Chef Jasper Mirabile does have a tendency to roll out the red carpet every year for my friends and family.  His generosity and warmth make his restaurant as much like home as my house.  It’s like when I go to Jasper’s, I’m the only customer that matters.  And frankly, Chef Mirabile and Andy both can have a lifetime “You never have to do anything for me again” pass.  I can only imagine what percentage of my body weight is made up of their food.  Though if they choose not to take it, I can’t believe I would complain…

Which is as good as segue  me back to the whole birthday thing.

It would be easy to dismiss my claim of boycotting restaurants that don’t give out free cake on my birthday as greed.  However, this is more than me trolling for something for free just because I got a year older.

There is a thread that links the restaurant experiences of places that offer free desserts and those that don’t:  customer experience.  At each of those places, when I went for my birthday, they did something to make me feel special and that my name was more important than the name of the restaurant (even if say, they couldn’t keep my water glass full or find me a napkin…at least they tried to let me have fun.)  That is the type of place where I want to spend my money.

Honestly, I can’t tell if the issue resides in the new celebrity status of chefs or if many chefs are just artists who now getting their say, but there is a trend in restaurants I don’t like.  Far from forgetting that they are in a service industry, there seems to be an opinion held by some chefs that the customers exist to serve them.  The guests have to eat the food just so, have to drink the wine just so, have to order their meals just so and if they don’t?  Obviously they’re incompentent, uncouth, or just plain ignorant.

Why do I think that?  Well, a lot of this is an extrapolation of Chef Ron Eyester's quotes from Eatocracy. 

“I love how a restaurant is expected to acknowledge your birthday like it’s a national holiday or something. Who invented the rule that you get a free dessert on your birthday in a restaurant? I guess we have T.G.I.Friday’s and Bennigan’s to thank for exploiting servers as they, the servers, clap their hands and chant a birthday cheer.

You don’t get free pair of gloves or socks from Old Navy when you buy an outfit on your birthday. I actually will kid with our guests and let them know that on their birthday, 'unfortunately, our mariachi band is off this evening' - and, people believe me!”

And I am left scratching my head.  Why would Chef Eyester say that?  He knew he was going to be quoted.  I’m guessing that parting with a free piece of cake (believe me, singing is optional) is such a burden that he doesn’t want my business and I am more than happy to oblige him.  (Oh and someone who is a member of Old Navy’s loyalty program, don’t you get something for free on your birthday?)  If you think I am being nitpicky and this one comment alone doesn’t merit the judgment Chef Eyester’s not into customer experience, read the article.

Ultimately, I want to go where I am wanted and where I feel like I am worth someone taking the time to plate a piece of cake.  I only have a finite budget for going out to eat and I am going to spend that money where the food is good and the staff act like they want me to be there.  And one of the best (and most painless) ways an eatery can do that is by doing something for a customer’s big day, be it a beer, a shot, a dessert, an appetizer, or the chef coming out to shake hands and spending a few minutes outside the kitchen.

So, I’ve put my stake in the ground.  Treat your customers well and I will go to your restaurant.  Treat them like cattle (or worse that the beef you are about to serve) and I will happily head down the road to somewhere that wants me.  Even if that place is Applebee’s.  At least there I know I’m wanted.

Thanks to Pink Sherbert Photography for the picture. 

Enjoy!

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September 16, 2010

Recipe: Trader Joe’s to Come to Kansas City

Author: Chris PerrinSeptember 16, 2010

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.

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August 17, 2010

Recipe: Kansas City Barbecue Society Cookbook, 25th Anniversary Edition

Author: Chris PerrinAugust 17, 2010

KCBSKansas City Barbecue Society Cookbook

Barbecue… it’s not just for breakfast anymore.

Such is but one of the many pearls of wisdom featured in the Kansas City Barbecue Society Cookbook, a treasure trove of barbecue wisdom from the United States’ best BBQ town: Kansas City, MO.  (Okay, so I’m a bit biased, what can I say?)  But regardless of personal bias (and the fact I was sent a review copy), this really is a cool cookbook.

It starts out with a history of the Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS), which was started in 1986 to bring together BBQers (called cookers) from around the area.  At its inception, 30 cookers paid $12 to be members.  From these humble beginnings, the KCBS has turned into a premier BBQ association, publishing the first edition of the Kansas City Barbecue Society Cookbook with it’s subtitle Barbecue…it’s not just for breakfast anymore in 1995.  In the intervening years, the society has also grown from 30 members to over 13,000 and now sanctions 300 BBQ events from coast to coast.  (I love this town!)

So when their 25th anniversary rolled around, KCBS had more then enough contributers to submit recipes and make the their 25th Anniversary cookbook something special.

Kansas City Barbecue Society Cookbook

Enough about KCBS, it’s time to eat!  (Well, read about eating anyway.)  The Kansas City Barbecue Society Cookbook is a collection of more than 200 recipes that covers everything from marinades to sides to fish to pork to beef to eggs and absolutely everything in between.  If it can be cooked BBQ style, there’s an entry.

However, I will admit, the cookbook’s comprehensive study of all aspects of BBQ suprised me a little bit.  I expected this fine cookbook to contain a bunch of recipes for brisket, a bunch of recipes for ribs, a few recipes for pork butt, a bunch of recipes for BBQ sauce and rub and about a 20 ways to make baked beans.  Now, let me say in no uncertain terms I would not have been unhappy with that cookbook at all.  Not one bit.

What, I got, though was something far better.  For instance, I like to grill fish and seafood.  There’s recipes for oysters “thermidor”, ahi tuna with maui onion dressing, ahi steaks, fish boil, and salmon (among others.)  I have thought about BBQing desserts and if I wanted to, I now have the recipes for Big Will’s Triple-Chocolate Cheesecake, Rick Browne’s Brown Bag Apple Pie,  bourbon sweet potato pie, and no-bake cookies that can be done BBQ style.  And let me tell you that I have never had the desire to make chicken livers on the grill, but with the Kansas City Barbecue Society cookbook, now I can.

Aw, yeah.

Putting the Kansas City Barbecue Society Cookbook to the Test

So, whenever I review a cookbook, I like to cook something from it.  Just to test it out.  And since I am from Kansas City, I just had to do Korean Fire Meat!

(What, you were expecting pork butt?)

The recipe with paraphrased directions follows below, but let me tell you, this was some good Korean beef.  My one mistake was using dark soy sauce because it was a bit too salty.  Next time I’ll buy some low sodium soy sauce and use that for the marinade.  Still, check this recipe out!

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August 16, 2010

Recipe: #MeatlessMonday: More Fun with Gardein: Crispy Tenders

Author: Chris PerrinAugust 16, 2010

Crispy TendersGardein Crispy Tenders

Welcome back to another #MeatlessMonday.  For this week’s post, I thought I would again review a product from Gardein, who was nice enough to send me several coupons to try their product free of charge.

Now, the WellDone family is quite the connoisseur of vegan faux meat replacements, stemming back from the time that we were vegan or vegetarian.  Even though we have started to eat meat again, we still love faux meats because they taste good, but have far less fat and many fewer calories than the real thing.  That’s a good thing.

So, how did Gardein crispy tenders stack up?

The Good

When grading vegan faux meat products, I tend to grade them on two factors (also known as the BlogWellDone Vegan Meat Product Dual Index Rating System™…okay that’s not true.)  The first factor takes into account how tasty the vegan meat product is overall.  In other words, it measures the product on its own merits.  The second factor is how pleasing a non-vegetarian/vegan would find the product. 

All in all, Gardein crispy tenders are probably my favorite vegan chicken nuggets on the market.  Gardein’s chick’n has a nice, sweet flavor like good white meat chicken and it has pretty good texture for not being the real thing.  Plus, the breading that has been deep fried on (yes, I said deep fried) and is slightly salty with a nice hint of pepper.  We cooked them in the oven according to package direction and they were decently crispy, especially for frozen chicken nuggets.  So in the overall factor, they do very, very well.

How do they do as a meal for non-vegan/vegetarians?  Of all the Gardein and Morning Star Farms and other frozen faux meats, the Gardein crispy tenders rate as my fave for non-vegetarians.  In fact, if you serve them with a dipping sauce, most of your carnivorous eaters will have no idea that there’s no meat in them there tenders.

The Bad

Actually, there wasn’t that much bad about Gardein crispy tenders.  If anything, it might be the shape.  They’re too long to be nuggets and not long enough to be chick’n fingers.  Visually,  my son was more than able to tell that the crispy tenders weren’t his usual nuggets and this caused a whole slew of issues.  But that’s more my son’s issue than anything else.

In Conclusion

Buy them, they are good.  What, you were expecting something poetic? 

In all seriousness, the Gardein chick’n tenders were really good and could be eaten by themselves, in quesadillas, in sandwich wraps, on salads, coated in buffalo sauce, however you like.  They are BlogWellDone approved!

So, yeah, in the end, give them a try.  They are perfect for this Meatless Monday or next week’s or the week after or the week after…

Photo from Gardein.com.

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August 12, 2010

Recipe: Chavrie Blueverry Salad with Walnuts

Author: Chris PerrinAugust 12, 2010

summer_grill_productChavrie Blue Berry Salad with Walnuts

At 9:30 PM a few weeks ago, I had a startling realization: I had to bring a dish to church the next day!!  Well, it wasn’t so much a realization as it was an acceptance that I could no longer procrastinate, nor did I have a viable excuse to get out of doing what I promised.

“To the refrigerator!” I cried and I went to the refrigerator.

See, there’s something everyone needs to know about me.  I live in a constant state of preparedness…for the show Door Knock Dinners. Ever since the first New York Battle on Iron Chef, I’ve become obsessed with the idea that any time, Gordon Elliott or an Iron Chef (or you know, me) could walk into my house and prepare a huge gourmet meal with only what I have in my fridge, freezer and big freezer downstairs.

So, it was with the highest level of confidence that I  attacked my pantry on a quest to make something to take the next day.  Let me tell you, I came up with the best idea.  I was going to layer sheets of puff pastry with layers of sweetened goat cheese and fresh, homemade blue berry syrup and then top the whole thing with a nice splash of blueberry balsamic.  Sounds pretty good huh?

Then I realized I was in no mood to cook and made this salad instead.

But you know what?  It rocked!!  It was also my first experience using Chavrie as anything more than a cracker spread.  (Here it comes, FTC disclosure: I was given coupons for free samples, which is why we had some in the house.)

Because it was my first experience using Chavrie, I wish I could have done a little better with it.  I simply did not realize just how soft it was.  Normally when I make this salad, I use feta crumbles.  The Chavrie was far softer than that so when I cut into it, it wanted to spread on me.

Next time, I hope to not be making the salad on the hood of my car so I’ll have time for a little more finesse, but whatever.  (Did I mention I had to buy and breakdown Romaine lettuce in the Target parking lot?  By the way, yes, I still could have made it on Door Knock Dinners, but then it would have been a spinach salad and I wanted Romaine, darn it!)  Still, it was  a good salad.

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