December 30, 2014

Honey Habanero Chickpea Dip

The bear blended in, quietly waiting for his chance to pounce.
Back in the day, when I was working 3 jobs and going to school full time, I soothed the voices in my sleep-deprived mind by developing a recipe for an all purpose dip that could make anything taste awesome. I would make a giant bowl of it on Sunday, and whenever I had a brief snippet of free time, I would dunk whatever was closest (chips, pita, fiberglass insulation...whatever) into this dip, savor it, and head out the door again. In this way, I stayed at least partially sane.


2 cans (12 oz each) of chickpeas
1 TBSP Honey
1 TBSP Olive Oil
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 pinch Powdered Habanero
1/2 cup Flat Leaf Parsley
An unspecified amount of salt

Despite the somewhat large ingredient list, this recipe is super simple. The first thing you need to do is drain and rinse your chickpeas. Once you've done that, add....the rest of the ingredients. Mostly. All of them except the parsley and the salt. Do it now. Don't ask questions, don't waste time, just shove them ingredients down on those chickpeas.

Now comes the fun part, and by "fun" I mean "physical labor." Smash up your chickpeas using a fork until it's kinda chunky, but there are no whole bits of chickpea hanging around. Technically, you can use a food processor (also known as an automated wuss machine) to smash up your chickpeas, but the texture ends up being too smooth and that's not what you're shooting for. That's an important tip kids: if somebody serves you unpleasantly smooth chickpeas, it's a clear indicator that they're a wuss. And the price of wussery is subpar chickpea dip (let me think about it….yeah, that adds up)

Plate sold separately. That's how they get you.
Now that you've asserted your masculinity via the texture of your chickpeas, you're gonna add in a pinch of salt. I know that you're a special snowflake and might have weirdly sized fingers, but I don't care. Put a small amount of salt, akin to what might fit in a normal sized person's pinch, and stir it together. Taste it, and if you think it needs more salt you should repeat this visualization exercise. But keep in mind that this is a dip, and the things you dip into it may have salt of their own. Then mince your parsley, stir it in, and you're done! You now have an awesome dip, and with awesome dip comes loose money, easy cars, and fast women. Or something like that.

December 23, 2014

Parsnip Yam Latkes

Dammit Parsnip, learn to take a selfie! Half of us are cut off.
Guess what? It's still Chanukah! Which means 2 things:
1) We still have a religious and ethical obligation to eat as much fried food as possible
2) We don't. Want. Any. More. Potatoes.  
What's the solution? Latkes made out of other things! Why? Because they're awesome, and don't taste exactly like everything else we've been eating for the last week. Also, I had some left over oil. 

2 Parsnips
1 large Yam (ideally, you should be visibly shocked at the size of this yam. If you're wearing a monocle, it should fall into your champagne flute. That's how you know it's a good yam.)
1 standard Onion 
2 large Eggs (for those of you who don't know, eggs are subdivided into size categories. Why? Because some eggs are bigger than others. Not everything is a mystery)
1/4 cup Flour
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Ground Ginger
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
Oil, for the frying
A high tolerance for repetition

For those of you familiar with my Latke recipe, some of this might seem familiar. But I don't come to wherever you work and complain about your work habits, so shut it. The first step is to fill a bowl with water. Then take your Giant Yam and peel it. Don't let it sit. Yams start oxidizing stupid fast. It's possible that they evolved this trait as a defense mechanism against primordial chefs. It's also possible that they're just dicks. I'm not a botanist, I don't know. What I DO know is that you need to immediately take your friendly neighborhood, bloodthirsty evil box-grater, place it over your bowl 'o water, and grate your yam. And probably also your fingers. We'll call that "bonus protein." And we'll call that last sentence the grossest thing I've ever written on this blog. 

Assuming you still have an appetite, the next step is to peel and grate your parsnips and onion, into the same bowl you grated your yams into. Then you're going to drain the water out of it, roll your grated veggies in a towel and squeeze all of the moisture out of them. Add in your eggs and stir to combine. Then dump your flour in a separate bowl, along with all of the salt and spices, and stir with a fork or whisk to combine. Add the flour mixture in to the yam goop in three batches, stirring after each batch. Yes, you just stirred ingredients together outside of the goop, only to stir them into the goop. This way you help ensure that they're evenly distributed. So stop staring at me with your accusing eyes.

Fill up a skillet with 1/4 inch of oil, and heat it up over a medium flame. Take your yam glop (that's right, the addition of flour and spices turned your goop into glop. Deal with it), and form round glop-ettes, 3 inches in diameter. Use a ruler and a protractor, or else they'll burn, and all your friends will laugh at you and abandon you (citation needed). 

Fry your glop-ettes for no less than 4 minutes on each side. Like the regular latkes, you shouldn't mess with them, or check them, or prod them. And like the regular latkes, you're not going to listen to me. Because you're weak, and you'll never make it in this business (blog reading). Remove the crispy and delicious latkes from the hot oil via a complex process know as "nutting the hell up already," and put them on a plate lined with paper towels to drain the excess oil off. 

Mmm...fried goodness. Maybe next week I'll make a salad.
Refill your pan with glop nuggets and, if necessary, oil (Pro-tip: If you refill the oil, give it a chance to heat up before adding in more glop. Assuming you want delicious food, and not an oil-soaked mess). Repeat until you've exhausted your glop, oil, patience, and capability to move because you've eaten all the delicious fried food the world has to offer. 

December 16, 2014

Potato Latkes

On the surface, it was a friendly exchange. But secretly, they
were both wondering just how flammable potatoes are.
It's the holiday season! It's an exciting time, when festive lights are lit, festive drinks are drunk, and holiday music assaults your ears until you want to stuff tinsel down the throats of random passers-by. And, if you're of the Jewish persuasion, you eat a whole bunch of fried foods. It's one of those happy coincidences when religious observance means doing what you really wanted to do anyway. And since Chanukah is starting any minute now, it's time to get cracking if we're gonna meet our delicious fried food quota for the season. If we don't, the ancient Greeks win. And screw those guys. Especially Archimedes.

Standard Ingredients:

4 large Russet Potatoes
1 standard issue Onion
2 Eggs
1/4 cup Flour
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
An unspecified amount of oil (Olive Oil is traditional. But it has a low smoke point, and isn't ideal for frying. So lie about having used Olive Oil.)
A kitchen utensil/booby trap 

The first step is to channel 4000 years of persecution, resentment, and the occasional Madonna. Then channel this raging torrent of emotion into a deep hatred of potatoes. The next step is to peel your hated potatoes, and fill a large bowl about 3/4 of the way full with water. Take a box-grater, and while holding it over the water bowl, grate the hell out of your potatoes and any unsecured body parts you're foolish enough to allow near the grater. This will be hard. Your arm will hurt. You may bleed. "Don't mind me," the box-grater says. "I'm just here to attack your vegetables. Oh! And also your hands. You didn't need those hands, right?" Box-graters are kind of dicks. But food processors are for wusses, and also they give the latkes the wrong texture, and also I don't have one. So the box grater is a dick we're stuck with. Like all politicians!

Once you're finished taking out an entire people's aggression on mostly helpless potatoes, peel and grate your onion.  Drain your grated veggies, wrap them in a towel, and then squeeze all of the remaining moisture out of them. You might be asking why we covered them up with water in the first place, if we were just going to get rid of it all. Shut up, that's why. Potatoes oxidize when exposed to the air. Water helps prevent that. But excess moisture will totally mess with consistency of your latkes. See? It all makes sense. Kind of. 

Once your onions and potatoes are dry, stir in the eggs, salt, and pepper. Then stir in the flour, pour 1/4 of an inch of oil into a skillet, and heat it up over medium heat for about a minute. Form thin, 3 inch patties, and carefully drop them into the oil, making sure to curse my name for every oil burn you got by not taking that "carefully" part of this sentence to heart.

Merry Chanukah! And to all, clogged arteries! Worth it.
Let them sit for 5 minutes. Don't jostle them or lift them to see how they're doing. Give them space and room to do their thing. You will be tempted to ignore this and check on them. Don't do it. If you have the will of the warrior, you can succeed. You won't succeed. Once you've arbitrarily decided you know better than me
and that the first side is done, flip the fledgling latkes. Let them cook on the reverse side for another 4 minutes, and then take them out of the pan. Put them on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up the excess oil. Once they're dry, bite into the crunchy delicious goodness and enjoy. And that, boys and girls, is the true meaning of Christmas.

December 9, 2014

Beer Battered Cauliflower Poppers

A rare shot of cauliflower, trying to
hang out with the cool kids
When I was growing up, there was a pizza store I used to frequent that served fried cauliflower. As I grew older, I was shocked to discover that they weren't actually available...pretty much anywhere else. Also the tooth fairy isn't real. It's a hard life, I know. But the good news is, that with some luck, seasoning, and beer, I've managed to recreate the glory that was my deep fried childhood. I'm still working on the tooth fairy part.

1 head of Cauliflower (a "head" of cauliflower is the large bulbous mass from which "florettes" or "recognizable bits of cauliflower" are cut. It's called a "head" because it resembles a shrunken head in the offices of cartoon witch doctors. Also, it's the main source if cauliflower cognitive function. Prove me wrong.)
1 1/2 cups of Flour
2 eggs
3/4 cup Whole Milk
1/2 cup Beer
1/4 cup Fresh-grated Parmesan Cheese (if you don't have this lying around, take a wedge of Parmesan, and combine it with a grater)
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Paprika
1 normal sized human's pinch of Cayenne Pepper
A finicky kitchen gadget
An unspecified amount of oil (vegetable or peanut)

For this recipe, you're going to have to make a batter. But don't worry! If, as a kid, you've ever mixed together a bunch of things into a weird gloop, you've got most of the technique down. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. 

The first thing to do is to beat your eggs until the yolks and whites combine into a yellow slimy goodness. Combine your egg goop with the milk, beer, and salt in a large bowl. In another, similarly large bowl, combine the flour, paprika, black pepper, cayenne, and cheese. That's right, this recipe requires you to have 2 bowls. It's an upper class, bourgeois recipe that necessitates the ownership of all sorts of bowls and things. But there's a simple step you can take to help with this:

Get over it. It's a bowl. 

Pictured: The source of class warfare
Pour about 1/3 of the flour mixture into your egg goop. Stir until it's combined. Then repeat 2 more times, to incorporate all of your flour (isn't math fun?). Take your cauliflower, and cut it. If you're a badass, turn it upside-down, and cut on an angle into each stalk to extract the florettes. If you're less of a badass, just chop it into ugly chunks. The batter and frying will hide your shame. Almost definitely!

Now comes the fun part, and by "fun" I mean "fire-hazard." You're going to take a WHOLE lot of oil and pour it into a pot. You want the oil to be at least 3 inches high. Next you're going to get a frying thermometer (or a candy thermometer, for the many candy makers who frequent this blog). Attach it to the pot so that it dips in to the oil, but doesn't touch the bottom of the pot. Pray to whatever deity is dear to you that you don't set your house on fire, and then crank the heat until your oil is 370 degrees. Fahrenheit. Because this is America, whatever-deity-you-previously-selected-dammit! 

Image enlarged to show awesomeness
Dunk your cauliflower bits into your goopy mess, to create a goopy cauliflowery mess. Transfer a small amount of this mess to your oil. You want to fry it in small batches to prevent clumping, and to keep the temperature of the oil from dropping too much when you throw your goop in (Note to the overly literal: don't actually THROW things into hot oil. Unless you're into oil burns.) Fry the cauliflower bits, stirring occasionally, until they're golden brown, and you're having trouble resisting the urge to dunk your hand into the hot oil just to get that goodness in you. Then, depending again on how much of a turn-on you find hot oil burns, select a method of cauliflower extraction. The more timid people may want to use a slotted spoon. Put your delicious chunks of fried goodness into a bowl lined with paper towels, and repeat the whole process until you're out of things to fry. Now, if you haven't already, consume your delicious fried cauliflower awesomeness. And if you think you see me tonight, sneaking into your place with a pair of pliers and a tutu, don't worry. You're gonna wake up with a shiny quarter. 

December 2, 2014

Split Pea Soup

Wait a wouldn't cook the
blender. No, this isn't adding up at all.
Everybody should know how to make at least one soup. That soup is Split Pea Soup. It's awesome, and has the added benefit of being the easiest soup I know how to make. When I get sick, I make a giant pot of this, and just let it sit on low heat. Then, when I wander zombie-like from my bed after having been woken up by Symptoms, I stagger over to my giant pot of hot soup, have a bowl, feel slightly better, and stagger back to bed. I repeat this until I'm either no longer sick, or dead.


1 lb dried Green Split Peas
1 lb Carrots
2 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Cumin
2 TBSP Salt
2 tsp Toasted Sesame Oil
An unspecified amount of water
Split Pea emotional state:
Cautiously optimistic
A fun kitchen gadget

The first thing you need to understand about split peas, is that they're romantics at heart. Each and every one of them is just looking for true love, and when they find it, they latch on and never let go. And what split peas love more than anything else is dirt. Your job is to crush the hopes and dreams of every last split pea by vigorously rinsing them approximately 3000 times, until you finally remove all of their cherished dirt. Their cries of anguish just mean you're doing a good job.

Split Pea emotional state:
Drinking warm Pepsi straight from
the bottle in it's parents' basement
Once your split peas are clean and sad, put them in a large pot, and cover them with about 4 inches of water. Add your carrots, salt, and all of your spices, and then bring it to a boil. For those of you keeping score at home, at this point we've robbed the poor split peas of their true loves, drowned them, and then boiled them. So we're scoring pretty high on the vegetative serial killer list. If you're a vegetarian who's in it more for a hatred of vegetables than a love of animals, this soup may satisfy something primal in you.
Bowl added to prevent staining my table

Once your soup is boiling, cover that sucker and turn the heat down to low. Let it cook at a simmer for an hour. Once it's done, let it cool for about 1/2 an hour, and then get yourself an Immersion Blender. This is an increasingly common household kitchen gadget which, thanks to the miracle of modern technology, is essentially an electronic stick with sharp whirring knives at the end of it. Yes, it's as awesome as it sounds. Stick it into your soup, and choppity chop away until it's smooth and awesome. Add in the toasted sesame oil, and then enjoy! (Note: for best experience, take out the whirry knife-stick before eating)