September 2010

Stir Fry Sauce by “Kikkoman”


           I came over to my best girlfriend’s house one evening for dinner and to spend some quality time with her. My friend informed me that her father’s girlfriend was going to be the cook tonight and was preparing something oh-so-yummy! We did some grocery shopping before they came home from work that evening at the local QFC store near her house. As we approached the store, I notice my girlfriend was picking up her usual mommy stuff like diapers, and then she picked out red pepper, chicken breasts, and of course, the stir fry sauce by Kikkoman. I have eaten many stir fry dishes before, but have never heard of Kikkoman stir fry sauce.

Making The Most of Chicken Breast

One of the most absurd and unfortunate trends in cuisine is the boneless, skinless chicken breast. More specifically, the pre-packaged version thereof. People are willing to pay as much as three times the amount for a boneless, skinless breast when there's so much potential in unadulterated chicken. All it takes is a little extra work and some old-world knowledge to turn your bone-in, skin-on chicken breast into several tasty, heart-healthy meals.

Holding A Groupon Tiger By The Tail

If you're the owner of an independent restaurant and you want to drive throngs of traffic to your door (for better or worse), Groupon is clearly the way to do it. 

Groupon has been so successful that it has accidentally crushed some small businesses who failed to set an appropriate cap on the number of coupons sold.

The idea behind Groupon is simple: users sign up for Groupon's mailing list.  Every day they get an email with the day's deal. 

Meanwhile, Groupon contracts with local restaurants to offer super-steep deals: a $100 gift certificate for $50 is a typical deal.  Great, right? But not always!

The Secrets of Sauce

Often the difference between "meh" cooking and haute cuisine is a good sauce. Strangely, a lot of people don't know the esoteric but simple techniques behind making a proper sauce. Truly a lot of the preliminary steps seem odd or counter-intuitive, but the magic of food science is part of the fun of cooking. Two ways to go about creating excellent sauce are to create either a fond or a roux.

Coupons: An Evil Lie

A recent post on the Consumerist blog is the perfect illustration of the problem with coupons.  In fact, it's such a perfect illustration that I can't help but think that's exactly why the Consumerist folks posted it in the first place.

Consumerist forum user LadySiren, "married with five kids," managed to buy 51 items for $45.46, saving a whopping $99.48 with coupons.  The problem?  With two exceptions, there isn't any, you know, FOOD in there.  Just an awful lot of what Michael Pollan calls "edible food-like substances."

Problem #1: Coupons are rarely for food.  Usually, they are for crap. 

Remembering Colonel Sanders: Everybody's Fave Fried Chicken Guru

I once had the decidedly mixed adventure of visiting family in the deep south where I quickly became acquainted with large trucks with humongous American flags and confederate license plates; racist billboards and bumper stickers extolling the virtues of no less than George W. Bush himself; grocery stores that refused to sell alcohol on Sundays; and fried chicken everywhere. Using my powers of observation, I was able to determine that in the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia, Colonel Sanders is still a king.

4 Things To Do With Stale Bread

It happens to the best of us: you don't get through a loaf fast enough, and it goes stale.  If you bake your own bread (as I do) it happens more often, because homemade bread isn't chock full of those preservatives that keep store-bought loaves "fresh" for longer.  (By "fresh" I mean "soft," since there's no way to tell how long ago the loaf was really baked.)

But never fear!  There are some great things you can do with stale bread.  I have learned to relish the far end of the loaf going stale, because it opens up a whole new world of options.


Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations

Thanks to the joys of Netflix streaming, I've discovered Anthony Bourdain's Travel Channel No Reservations food and travel show. Bourdain is a long-term veteran of restaurant kitchens, someone with years of working on the line, someone who spent his summers in Provincetown, Massachusetts in the hot kitchens of seafood fry cooks, got a degree from the Culinary Institute of America, worked his way around the world and from kitchen to kitchen, before a sojourn as the head chef of Brasserie Les Halles in New York. Bourdain first caught the public eye when his revelatory, brutally honest book about what life and food in professional kitchens are like, Kitchen Confidential became a New York Times bestseller.

Taco Del Mar

I'm now seriously hunting for a good local taco place. Admittedly, I'm biased in favor of fresh, hand-made tortillas, but I'm willing to settle. I'm slightly biased towards corn-tortillas and "soft" tacos, but I'm willing to try other options. If I can find a place with good, fresh tacos, and Mexican Coca-Cola, I'll be ecstatic.

Mexican Coca-Cola

Remember back in April, 1985 (yes, I know, you weren't even born then; bear with me) when the Coca-Cola company released "New Coke?" The "New" was partly a switch from using cane sugar as a sweetener to using high fructose corn syrup—the first change to the basic "secret recipe" since 1886. The idea, spurred by the popularity of Diet Coke, and of Pepsi, was to create a Coke that was closer to the taste of Diet Coke and Pepsi. There were cries of outrage, and eventually, even Coca-cola heard them, and in July of 1985 released "Classic Coke" which was, ostensibly a restoration of the "old" recipe (not the really old recipe that had cocaine . . . that stopped being produced in 1903). The truth is that Coca-Cola, well before the introduction of New Coke, had already started cutting the cane sugar with high fructose corn syrup. By the time New Coke was released, they'd already stopped using cane sugar.