July 25, 2017

Garlic Fennel Soup

Fennel sits proudly atop the corpses of its vanquished foes
I don't want to paint with too broad of a brush here, but anybody who doesn't like garlic is a filthy communist who deserves, at the very least, to be launched off of a tall cliff via trebuchet. Garlic is one of the few things that makes life worth the hassle of putting on pants in the morning. If they made a cologne that smelled like sautéing onions and garlic, I would buy a lifetime supply. Not only because that's pretty much the best smell imaginable, but also because it would be the perfect litmus test for everybody I meet to determine whether I can be friends with them or I need to break out my trebuchet (or both). The point is that garlic makes everything better. And when you mix it with fennel and onions there's pretty much no point in trying to get anything else accomplished, because your day will be filled up with eating that mess, and then with talking about it to anybody who'll listen.

Ingredients:

3 Fennel Bulbs 
2 Standard-Issue Onions
10-12 Cups Vegetable Stock (Pro-tip: For extra deliciousness, take the stalks off the top of your fennel, and toss them in with your vegetable stock when you make it. Extra Pro-tip: Make you own vegetable stock)
5 Cloves of Garlic
5 Yukon Gold Potatoes (You want a potato that's gonna hold together while cooked, and not fall apart like the second act of a student film. If you like red potatoes, that's fine. If you like russet potatoes, get used to disappointment. Delicious delicious disappointment.
Olive Oil
Salt

The first thing you're gonna need to do is choppity-chop your onion and fennel into little, easily manageable bits. Nobody has ever actually told me that it's a good idea to peel off the outer layer of fennel, like I do with onions, but nobody ever actually told me to go to Ireland, and that worked out pretty well. I'm pretty sure that applies here too. That's how logic works. Anyway, once your onions and fennel are chopped, sauté them in some oil, in a pot over medium-high heat along with a standard-issue pinch of salt. Let that awesomeness cook together for about 5 minutes, when it starts smelling ridiculously good. Then peel and mince your garlic until your hands, cutting board, kitchen, and school districts all smell sufficiently garlicky. Throw it in with your onions and fennel and cook that sucker until it starts to smell so good that you seriously contemplate forgetting this soup altogether, and just shoving your head into that burning-hot pile of delicious face first. About one minute.

Pistachios haphazardly strewn about to distract from the
featureless surface of this bowl of insane flavor.
Slice your potatoes and add them into the party just to get all of the flavors acquainted with each other, then drown them, along with everybody else still in the pot, in a raging torrent of vegetable stock. Bring your stormy sea of fledgling soup to a boil and then slam a lid on it to keep anybody from escaping. Turn the heat down to low and let it cook for about 25 minutes, when the potatoes are soft and cooked through, but still have some shape to them. And now you have insanely delicious soup! That's also....very very beige. Of all the food I've ever made, it's probably the most beige. And I once made apple sauce. If you're cool with this, eat and enjoy. If eating monochromatic food tears at your soul because you can't dissociate external beauty with intrinsic value, the chop up something pretty to garnish the top. Like chives, or pistachios, or a rare painting you stole from a rich collector years ago, and haven't found fount a use for that lives up to its value and beauty until now. You know, whatever you have lying around.

July 19, 2017

Ginger Citrus Salmon

I like how they added insult to injury by posing the fish
as if they were swimming.
Lately, it's come to my attention that death is a looming specter from which escape is impossible. I say this because I seem to be aging at an alarming rate. It started off innocently enough. One day I was able to walk in to a bar and order a beer. Then, a couple years later, I was able to do the same thing even if they asked for ID. This seemed ok with me, and I didn't give it much thought. I was a fool. Because lately, this whole "aging" thing has started to affect me in uncomfortable ways. There are whiny kids everywhere with fidget spinners and bad music, and that's not even the worst of it. I've found that, on rare occasions, there are times when I don't actually crave delicious meat. Every so often I decide to eat something else entirely. This doesn't seem acceptable to me. And sure, some of you might be pointing out that I've often written recipes for things that don't contain meat. And that's true, though it's pretty rude of you to have pointed it out. But while I've certainly eaten other sorts of food before, in my heart I always knew that I was just doing it because I didn't have access to any salami at that specific moment in time. This is different. But, if I'm going to eat sad nonsense food like fish, it may as well be a delicious fish. Gandhi said that.

Ingredients:

4 Salmon Fillets
3 Green Onions
1 Grapefruit
1/2 a Lemon
2 TBSP Chopped Ginger
1 TBSP Honey
2 Large sized Human's pinches of Salt

The first thing you're gonna need to do is go to a fishmonger and get yourself some fish. Sure, you could get some sort of pre-packaged frozen salmon from a giant store that only sells 56 packs. But it won't taste as good. The reason for this is that all regulation fishmongers have a giant pile (or "heap," if you want to use the technical term) of fish lying on way too little ice to effectively keep it cool. This is important, because it allows you to taunt the fish as you're buying it, thus causing it to experience some delicious rage. In any case, go get some fish, then squeeze all of the juice out of your lemon and grapefruit and dump it, along with all the rest of your ingredients, into a ziploc bag. Let that whole mess marinate in your fridge for at least 1/2 an hour. All of the flavors are gonna get to know each other, regardless of whether they want to or not. Confined spaces will do that, as you know if you've ever been stuck on an elevator with somebody.
Recommended serving size: 1 school of fish 

Once your fish is desperate to free itself from the confines of your  bag-o-goodness, take it out and then immediately throw it on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven. The key here is to move just slowly enough to give your salmon hope, and then immediately crush its dreams. Before making this recipe, chances are you weren't a sadist or a liar. That's some training you can't get in the public school system. Anyhow, leave your fish in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, then take it out and consume it. It'll taste awesome. Try not to think about the fact that you could have chosen to make a steak instead. The Irish had a deity back in the day who got turned into a salmon. That's something. So think of yourself as a devourer of gods, not an old man sadly eating fish and waiting to die. See you next week!

July 14, 2017

Pickleback

About as bad a pickle-based idea as Pickleback shots seem
There was a time when whiskey was only drunk by old men with monocles and cigars who spent their time sitting in leather armchairs and betting large swaths of land on games of pinochle. Nowadays, thanks to industrialization, increased quality of life, and some handy bloody coups, whiskey can be enjoyed by anybody willing to shell out a moderate amount of cash. Which, has mostly worked out well for me. But familiarity, as they say, breeds contempt. I mean, what other reason can there be for the nonsensical things people are doing to whiskey these days? Which brings us to the Pickleback. A couple years ago, the internet got all up in arms (as it tends to) about this new trend of taking a shot of whiskey and immediately following it with a shot of pickle juice. Despite immediately having several important questions about this phenomenon (such as the type of, and quantity of, the drugs enjoyed by the creator), I managed to resist ever trying it. I enjoyed my whiskey pickle-less, and all was good in the world. Now, years later, I was reminded of this trend, and a morbid curiosity overtook me. So I decided to try it out with a couple of different whiskeys and see what happens.

Ingredients:

Pickle Juice
Whiskey (According to the internet, Jameson is the preferred brand. Would the internet lie to you?)

Despite my natural aversion to ruining good whiskey, I actually talked myself into thinking I would like this. I like whiskey. I like pickles. Why wouldn't I like both of them together? (For the record, I also like steak and ginger ale, but I didn't decide to mix those together) So I went with 4 different whiskeys. I used the internet-approved Jameson, which is an Irish whiskey for those of you who don't know. I also decided to use my preferred basic Irish whiskey, Tullamore DEW, some Knob Creek bourbon, and some Benromach scotch (Which, because the Scottish apparently hate the letter E, is technically a whisky, and not a whiskey. In their defense, what has the letter E done for you lately?). So anyway, the first thing you're gonna have to do is get over the natural aversion that most living things have to just straight-up drinking pickle juice. I love pickles. I've even made them from scratch once or twice. But I never really considered drinking their leftover juice, mostly because I'm not starving or crazy. I mean, it's pretty much cucumber embalming fluid. But I digress. It's time to get over your hangups about not drinking things that, technically, were never meant to be consumed by any living creature, and pour yourself a nice full shot. Now pour a shot of whiskey, consume it, and then immediately follow it with your brine. 

Not pictured: Pickle Juice. It knows what it did.
So, personally, my initial feeling was one of disappointment. Not at the experience, more at how much it didn't actually feel like an experience. I tasted whiskey. Then I tasted pickles. I didn't really taste any blending of the flavors in any significant ways. The pickle flavor overpowered the whiskey and just replaced the flavor in my mouth. But, after 3 sad attempts, I came to the Knob Creek. This actually seemed to work. The harsher flavors were kind of mellowed, and some interesting subtle notes were emphasized by the pickling spices. Also, at this point I'd had 4 shots of whiskey in a fairly short period of time, so your results may vary. So in the end I'd say that mixing pickle juice with whiskey and then naming the concept after one of the most hated bands of all time wasn't a complete failure. It totally works if you're either already drunk, or if your whisky has more apparent bite than flavor. Or both! Or if you don't like the taste of whiskey, you drank it to try and impress somebody, and you just want to get the flavor out of your mouth as fast as possible. And replace it with pickles. Enjoy!