Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Where did Tricia go?

While What the Bleep is on hiatus, please check out my other project, Gourmaleo!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

How to Avoid Baking Drug Free Brownies that Still Give You Cotton Mouth

Dear Tricia, I'll admit it, I'm not the greatest baker but I love to try and pretend like I know what I'm doing.  Whenever I make brownies, they always end up too dry.  What am I doing wrong?

I'd like to point out that its perfectly fine to not be a great baker.  If you were a great baker, then you've probably had some sort of faint idea that you should try and make a career out of it, which I do not suggest by any means at all.  Unless of course you enjoy the following: low income, no insurance, long hours, early hours, late hours, holiday hours, overnight hours, no overtime, lots of overtime, burns, scars, cuts, stained hands, an impossible schedule to coordinate a healthy relationship with another person, and a general lack of anything resembling a savings account. 

But good on you for giving it a shot, regardless of your career choice.  So let's talk because there are several things that could be happening here. 

First of all, if you're using the same recipe every time and getting dry brownies, there is actually a possibility that its just a crappy recipe.  Uh huh.  It might not be you.  That happens, especially when anyone and everyone can post recipes online without actually checking them or even just spell checking them.  (HeLLO!  There's a big difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon, especially when it comes to things like baking powder and salt.) 

If you're generally getting dry brownies with more than one recipe, you have to remember that a baking time in a recipe is just a guideline.  Say, for instance, you preheat your oven for 5 minutes before you put in the brownie batter, compared to an oven that's been preheating since 1974, 30 minutes of baking is going to give you 2 drastically different batches of brownies.  So check on those guys about 2/3 of the way through the baking time and see how they're doing.  If they're almost done, you may need to take them out sooner than the recipe said.  (See that, recipe?!  You're not the boss of me!)   There's a common sense thing that eventually happens with baking- you check things to see how they're doing, and take them out of the oven when they're done, not when the recipe said.

Always make sure you measure exactly.  That's the difference between cooking and baking (ask any chef and they're usually one or the other but never both.  Total sacrilege.)  Flour should be leveled at the top of the cup, not randomly scooped out of the bag and thrown in the mixing bowl without seeing how much was really measured.  Because guess what?  If there's too much flour, your brownies are going to be dry.

Already over baked the brownies and now you're screwed?  Actually, no you're not.  You just have to make a simple syrup.  If you're prone to over baking things, it's always good to have a simple syrup on hand in the fridge to help mend the mess ups.  Just boil 2 cups of sugar and 1 1/2 cup of water until the sugar is dissolved.  Pour about a cup of this over the brownies and let them sit for an hour.  It helps add moisture to the brownies and can actually save you when you think you just went too far.  In baking anyways... not in life.  If I had a fix for that, I'd be writing this blog on a private island somewhere with a pet unicorn named Tupac.

On a side note:

I am still being courted a very well known publisher who's name rhymes with SchRandom ScHouse, and as much as they love yours truly, they love blogs with a large following even more.  What the Bleep Happened to My Rump Roast doesn't exist without its readers, and the more readers I have, the more I am able to blog because YOU email me the material.  If you love what you read here, share it on your Facebook, Twitter, and anywhere else that might skyrocket my tiny blog into d-list super stardom.  As always, thanks for your support

Love, Tricia.

Monday, September 5, 2011

How to Cook Salmon if You're a Diet Vegetarian

Dear Tricia, How do I cook salmon? Love, your pescatarian friend who can't cook pescatarily.

Alrighty my non committal vegetarian friend (is it animals with legs you have a problem with?  Does that include shrimp?), you can do this.   Ready?  Set?  And here we go. 

My favorite easy recipe for salmon requires an oven and a stove.  You're going to start it off on the stove and finish it off in the oven, so go ahead and preheat that baby to 375 degrees while you get some honey, limes, and chili powder ready.

Let's pretend you're cooking 2 salmon fillets.  Are you pretending?  Ok, you'll need 2 tablespoons of honey, 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice (use the real stuff here- the fake lime juice out of a bottle is like designer impostor perfume, except with produce.  Besides, you can buy 8 limes for a dollar at Fiesta right now.  Go get on that bargain train.), and 2 teaspoons of chili powder. Mix it up with a fork or a whisk until it's you know... mixed.

Get your salmon ready.  That just means taking it out and blotting it off with a paper towel to absorb any extra moisture.   Then take your glaze and pour it over both salmon fillets.  There's no reason to try and be neat here- just pour it over the salmon and turn it over to get the glaze on both sides.  While you're doing this, get a saute pan hot.   If the knob on the stove goes from 1-10, put it at an 8.  Let the pan get hot for at least a minute, and then add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Let that get hot for about 30 seconds.  Now take the salmon and put in your pan, skin side up.  If you bought the salmon without skin, then congratulations, you can skip that step of deciding which side to cook first.

You should be able to hear the salmon when it touches the pan.  If you can't, then you didn't get your pan hot enough.  (See my eggs and bacon video blog here for what that sounds like.   Plus, it'll probably make you giggle.)  All you're doing here is letting that glaze start to caramelize while the salmon cooks about halfway.  It's easy to tell when that happens because the color of salmon goes from red to light pink when it cooks.  You can see this happening just by looking at the side of the salmon.  In the meantime, DON'T MESS WITH THE SALMON.  Don't get nosy and start poking it to see what the other side of the filet looks like.  I'll spoil the surprise- it looks like a cooked piece of fish.  If you do this, you'll just break the salmon apart.

When half of it is pink, take a pair of tongs and grab on to both sides of the salmon.  When I say both sides, I mean the sides where you're watching it change from red to pink.  Don't try to slide the tongs up under the part that's cooking- that tear it up.  So, grab on to the sides and gently wiggle it loose from the pan.  If it's not coming up, you can take a spatula and try to loosen it.  Whatever you do, just flip the salmon over.  Then put the pan in the oven and finish it off in there.  (Very important- does your pan have a plastic handle?  Don't be stupid and try to put that in the oven.  Put the salmon onto a cookie sheet or baking dish instead.  Plastic and high heat don't go together very well.)

Let the salmon finish in the oven for another 7-8 minutes, or until there is a thin strip of red left in the middle of where you watched the magical color change that indicates done-ness.  Cooking it until its completely pink means you'll end up with dry salmon because even when you take the fish out of the oven, it will still keep cooking another 5 degrees or so.  So take it out when it looks just under done.
The reason why I say "OR until there is a thin strip of red left" is because it may very well take more or less time than 8 minutes, depending on how long you let your oven pre-heat.  I can't be responsible if you started preheating your oven last Tuesday and now your fish is over cooked.  And don't be afraid to let your own personal preference make the call.  I like my salmon pretty medium rare, and some people like it dry and hard as a rock.  Cook it how you want- you're the one responsible for that, now that you know how to cook salmon.

Go check out one of my other blogs on an easy fish recipe that you can easily substitute salmon for.  Let me know how it turns out!