Thursday, April 28, 2011

What the bleep happened to your eggs?!!

Alrighty my little pets, I started asking for your "what the bleep happened to the eggs?!" photo submissions on my Facebook fan page over Zombie Jesus Day weekend and  I thoroughly enjoyed them all, especially the ones of cute kids staining their hands dying eggs.  My favorite, however, was from reader Andrew Chandler, who had a spiritual What the Bleep moment in his kitchen.   Andrew, thank you for sending in your photo of "zen eggs," fried in sweet cream buddha... er butter.

Thank you to everyone who sent in your photos- I loved seeing all of them!   On to the next major holiday- my birthday!  Feel free to send me lots of birthday wishes and bottles of bubbly.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Deviled Eggs Without the Mayo= Magic in Your Mouth

So lately I have found myself a little stressed out with trying to find time to blog, work a full time job (that includes planning the catering for weddings that are all going to take over my life starting next month), take care of my home, keep up with some kind of fitness routine that leaves my ass cheeks free of dimples, and have a tiny bit of free time to just... hang out.  Not the case lately.  So yesterday has been in the works for 2 weeks: I purposefully had planned a day of only partial work and a lot of fun.  I knew it had to include cocktails and Mario Kart, and it happened to be that yesterday was also Zombie Jesus Day.  What's something you must take part in on the day of the risen Zombie Jesus?  Deviled eggs.  Yessiree, nothing screams Easter like those fantastic little half moons of paprika dusted heaven.  (Plus, they're awesome if you're on the Paleo diet, like myself, which is something I'll have to blog about later.)  It's pretty frequent that I toot the horn of old school, kitschy kitchen favorites like lil' smokies and green bean casserole and of course, deviled eggs SO fall in that category.  They're just too good to make fun of.

My dilemma yesterday was making them without mayonnaise.  Yes, "Mayonnaise" is the title of one of my favorite Smashing Pumpkins songs, but it is NOT one of my favorite foods   I find it pretty repulsive, all jiggly and strange-smelling.  Zombie Jesus told me I needed to find a way to make deviled eggs sans mayo.  

A traditional deviled egg recipe calls for you to boil your eggs, cut them in half, scoop out the yolk, and mash it up with a bunch of mayonnaise, some mustard, salt, pepper, and whatever seasonings your cute little face desires.  Like this one- let's take a Paula Dean recipe, since she's a fan of the high-fat cooking  (And making one syllable words sound like 5 syllable words, bless her southern heart):

7 large eggs, peeled and boiled
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
salt and pepper to taste
paprika to garnish

Halve eggs lengthwise.  Remove yolks and place in bowl.

Mash yolks with fork and stir in mayonnaise, relish and mustard.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Fill egg whites evenly with yolk mixture, garnish with paprika.

If you tried to make this recipe and just took out the mayo, it wouldn't work.  The egg yolks just get grainy when you mash them up- they need a binder.  A binder is any ingredient that holds the other ingredients together.  Like mayonnaise in a potato salad- it binds everything together so that your Aunt Sue can glop it all on your plate with one swift thwack of a wooden spoon every 4th of July.  I wonder what mayo binds up in your stomach?  Food for thought.

So if you take out the binder, you need to find something else that binds it instead.  And I think I tweaked it enough to make it work just about the same.   It paired perfectly with my Bloody Mary and Mario Kart.  Here's my version, free of the mayo and of the southern accent:

7 large eggs, peeled and boiled
1 raw egg white, or 3 tablespoons egg whites from the carton
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
salt and pepper to taste
paprika to garnish

I just subbed out the mayo for an egg white and olive oil and upped the mustard.  And coming from someone who hates mustard too (I know- I'm SO weird!  I don't get it either, it's just how my taste buds like to be treated), these deviled eggs were awesome.  I also added some cayenne pepper to make them have a little bit of kick.  Feeling creative?  Try these ideas:

1. Add some chopped up brisket to your egg yolk mixture and then go find yourself a long-term lover with those bad boys.

2. Add some chopped up sun dried tomatoes to the egg yolk mixture, and top them with crumbled goat cheese and fresh basil.  It's your new dish for girls' night and they're all going to treat you like you just won Top Chef, except you don't have that annoying, overly-dramatic, TV-ready personality.

3.  Add a heavy dash of chili powder, fresh cilantro, and a little bit of cooked, finely chopped bacon.  Uh huh.  It's magic.  In your mouth.  You're welcome.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Brown Eggs vs. White Eggs

Dear Tricia, I've always thought that brown eggs were better for you than white eggs.  Please tell me I'm right.

Well, I can't, because that would make me a liar and no one likes a liar.  

The only difference between brown eggs and white eggs is... da da dum.... they come from different breeds of hens.  That's.  It. 

Yeah, sorry I just burst your bubble.  But that's what I'm here for!

According to my friends at the American Egg Board, white eggs come from white feathered little ladies (with matching white ear lobes) called Single Comb White Leghorn hens, who happen to lay white eggs.  Brown eggs come from red feathered little ladies called Rhode Island Red hens.  Red hens also have matching red ear lobes. (They accessorize so well!)  White hens happen to be smaller, so they eat less.  This can sometimes make their production less expensive, so if you see a difference in price, that may be a factor.  But it doesn't make their eggs taste any different, or mean that one is healthier than the other. 

This all leads me to wonder a plethora of other egg related questions... do the Rhode Island Red hens have accents?  Do they talk just like Lois and Peter Griffin?  And what do the uniforms at the American Egg Board look like?  I think a field trip might seriously be in order.

Monday, April 11, 2011

1888 Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to the delovely Jane Crumpler, who won our very first giveaway!  Jane will be receiving a bottle of 1888 Dirtiest Martini Mix for her help in spreading the word about What the Bleep Happened to My Rump Roast?!  I've also bumped her culinary dilemma up to the top of my email box as an added little bonus.  You can thank her for your new found, fancy knowledge of ice cream.  (See below!)

Thank you to everyone who entered, who subscribed, who favorite-d me on Facebook, who tweeted, and who shared my blog with someone.   There's still more surprises in store very soon!

Ice cream, you scream, we all scream for that frozen stuff with different names...

Dear Tricia, As I was walking home from work today I started to think of a few of my favorite summer things since we're finally getting warm-ish weather.  One of those things is ice cream.  Yet, FroYo and frozen custard seem to be the new rage.  So what's the real difference between ice cream, frozen custard, frozen yogurt and gelato?  They are all delicious to me but I'm sure at least one of them has to be better for my waistline than others.  Right?

Ahhh... the dilemma of chefs making things and words too complicated.  I run into it often.  So many vocabulary words, so little patience, and so many brain freezes.  

To answer your question about some being better for your waistline... well, yes and no.  But we'll get to that in a minute.  After much research (and this includes going back almost 10 years to my culinary school notes on Frozen Desserts, taught by a very stuffy chef with a very stuffy mustache who had NO sense of humor.  I'm pretty sure that there should be an awesome sense of humor prerequisite when it comes to rocking a 'stache, but this somehow this guy got by without anyone noticing.) And after going through my notes, my Bible (also known as Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking), the ever-so helpful, yet stylistically outdated The Professional Pastry Chef, and the FDA's standard on ice cream classifications (Yes, they have one), I think I have found the information to clear up your frozen dilemma.

First let me describe how those frozen desserts are made.  You start off by making a base- this is your mixture of dairy and sugar and flavorings (and in some cases, eggs, which we'll get to).  You cook up this delicious, flavorful concoction over the stove, and then you let it cool down and you put it in an ice cream freezer.  An ice cream freezer churns the base as it freezes it.  So as its churning, its incorporating air into the base and making it grow larger in volume.  Incorporating air helps make the ice cream creamy.  Little air bubbles find their way in between all of the little fat bubbles and make it nice and fluffy and smooth and delicious.  (And all of those other lovely adjectives)  This is called "overrun."  Overrun makes the base turn into a much larger amount, because its incorporating so much air into it.  You can overrun the ice cream as much as 100%, which means your base would double in volume.  In slow person terms, that means it gets twice as big.  For example, a gallon of water weighs 8 pounds.  But a gallon of ice cream can weigh as little as 4.5 pounds because that's how much air has been incorporated into it.  (Legally.  By the FDA.  I swear- they regulate this stuff.  Big Brother is SO watching when you eat your feelings at night.) This is also part of the difference between the 4 frozen desserts in question.

Ice cream is made with heavy cream, milk, and egg yolks.  (And sugar.  Sugar is in everything, especially in what we're talking about today) It's made the same way I just mentioned- the base is cooked, cooled, and then churned.  The overrun of ice cream is usually at least 20%.  Ice cream that gets super overrun (like 100%) is typically crappier ice cream.  (read: the store brand stuff that my neighbor's mom used to buy us in 1988.)  That also means it's going to be a little less flavorful.  Soft serve ice cream is a perfect example of overrun ice cream: it's light, super soft and aerated, and pretty mellow on the taste buds.  The higher quality ice creams, like Ben and Jerry's, Hagen Daaz, that $8 per pint local stuff at fancy stores, etc. aren't really overrun- they're more dense and a lot more flavorful.  And Big Brother does not make ice cream companies put the percentage of overrun on their labels.

Frozen Custard is super similar to ice cream, but it has less overrun (so it's a little more dense) and more eggs.  This is another thing the FDA regulates.  The finished product must contain no less than 1.4% egg yolks (Ice cream typically has less eggs that that.) and those are the only differences.  Oh, that and frozen custard is typically served a little warmer, so it's softer.  Not much else, so don't be blown away by the fancy name.

Gelato is a tricky one to start bragging about less fat.   It has less fat than ice cream because it traditionally is made with milk and not cream, but it also adds more eggs to keep the texture creamy.  It also has less overrun than ice cream, typically less than 15%. (And if I'm wrong on that percentage, blame Chef Stuffy 'Stache.  He's the one who graded me on it.)  Just to go over what we've already talked about, less overrun = denser, less airy.   Got it? 

Last but not least, frozen yogurt is just how it sounds.  The base is made of yogurt, (or milk and a fermenting agent to turn it into yogurt), and milk, and typically no eggs.  It's the lowest fat content out of the bunch, and awesome if you live in Lactose Intolerant City, Population: Me.  No seriously, I DIG on the frozen yogurt.  I once went to Yummilicious every single day after work for a like a week straight, and then tried to hide it from people, like I didn't have a problem or something. 

So, when it comes to which is better for your girlish figure, frozen yogurt wins with gelato not being far behind, and frankly the other 2 aren't really that much different from each other.  And if you really want to impress your friends with this new found knowledge of frozen treats, check out the FDA's guidelines on how ice creams are classified and can be labeled.  It's terribly dry reading, but fascinating to know that our government paid someone to decide that stuff.  I love America. 

Now how about that movie up above starring Ron Howard's creepy brother, Clint?  How did I miss that one when it came out in '95?!!?

Thank you for your support.

The 1888 Martini Olive Press Giveaway is officially over and the winner will be announced this afternoon. Big thanks to everyone who participated and shared us with their friends we couldn't do this without you!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Who Wants a Martini on Me?!

In celebration of our new website design and continued plans for world domination...I raise my glass to you all! Now you can join in indulging in one of my favorite cocktails...a dirty martini!

If you've read at least one of my blogs, you know I am a big fan of the cocktails and creating the perfect dirty martini is sometimes a "what the bleep" moment in itself- much like trying to perfect a recipe. When you use olive brine from the jar to make a dirty martini, there's a fine line between tasting like a glass of heaven and tasting like a glass of ocean water. That's why I love 1888 Dirtiest Martini Mix so much- its so simple: juice from pressed whole olives without the overly salty flavor, so your martini tastes perfect every single time. It takes all of the guess work out! It also adds that perfect little "oomph" to a Bloody Mary, or as a marinade for chicken. I use it for EVERYTHING!

Want to win a chance to have a bottle of your very own? GREAT!! Let's do it...

In partnership with 1888 Premium Olive Press and our dedicated drones at RAW Marketing, we will be giving away a bottle of 1888 Dirtiest Martini Mix to the fan who refers the most followers to our blog.

"1888 Dirtiest Martini mix is the only dirty martini mixer made from whole, premium Spanish olives. We use a two-ton press to extract true olive flavor, resulting in the perfect balance of olive, pimento and brine. So whether you like your martinis dusty, dirty or downright filthy, insist upon a recipe that uses only the finest ingredients. Don’t gamble with your drink—choose 1888 and get lucky every time with the perfect dirty martini."

You must make sure to fulfill ALL entry requirements, including the form below! The contest will run from 8:00am Thursday, April 7th to midnight Sunday, April 10th. The fan who refers the most followers to our Facebook page AND website will be declared "THE WINNER"! In case of a tie, the person who reached the most referrals first will be the decided winner. The winner will be announced Monday afternoon on our Facebook page and by personal email.

So here's what you have to do: remember... you can't win if you don't share!  Sharing is caring, my friends!
  • Fill out the form below (your info will be kept confidential and I promise not to sell it to naughty websites or flood your email with spam about black market pharmaceuticals).  I need your contact info if you win!
  • Become a public Google follower of the blog (click the "follow" with the Google friend connect button on the right-hand side of the screen.
  • Become a fan of  "What the Bleep Happened" on Facebook >>(click here)
  • (Optional) Follow us on Twitter at WhattheBleep1, heck go ahead and increase your chances by sharing with more friends!
  • Share us with your Facebook friends and make sure they list YOU as who sent them!
Oh, and as a courtesy, you could show our wonderful sponsors some love as well...they've been working really hard for me lately, so a little shout out would be kind gesture....but not too much- their egos only need the gentlest of boosts! 1888 Olive Press Facebook Page & RAW Marketing Facebook Page.

Good Luck! go my pets and spread the word!  You can say you were a fan when it all began!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Speaking of Fish... Bones are Sucky!

Dear Tricia, So on the fish casserole note, I wonder if you can tell me what the secret is to deboning a fish. I found some gorgeous trout last week and ended up pitching it out because it was so full of bones it was inedible. Suggestions?

Yeah, that's the thing about eating animals... they have bones.  And when it comes to larger animals like cows or buffalo, or even just chickens, their bones are much larger and no problem to get rid of.  I mean, the best tasting part of a T-Bone steak is eating the meat right off the bone, but that's just not the case with fish.  The bones are small, pointy, and they hurt like hell when you accidentally swallow one, or when you're choking it up. Gross. 

There's really no secret to deboning fish quickly or easily.   If you're talking about buying a side of fish at the grocery store (not an entire fish) it just takes a clean pair needle nose pliers.  It's an annoying, painstaking process that effing blows, but it does the job.  The tiny, skinny little bones that are lined up separately along the entire side of the fish are called pin bones.  I call them pain in the ass bones.  If you lay the fish on its side and run your finger along it, you should feel them just ever so slightly poking out.  Those little bastards are playing peek a boo and its now your job to take your needle nose pliers, grab the tip of the bone, and just pull each one out.  If you run your knife along the bones, that should help them poke out a little further.

If you don't have needle nose pliers, tweezers work too, they're just a little harder to hold on to if they get wet, and you might end up pulling a Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman where she accidentally flings escargot across the room.  Except take out the escargot and charming Maitre D', and add flying tweezers and yourself, frustrated and smelling like trout.

After you've pulled out all of the pin bones, you'll want to run it under water and rinse it off to make sure there's not a camouflage bone stuck on the fish.  Not the best way to surprise your guests.

This is a case where I've found that shopping at a higher end grocery store can come in handy.  If I go to my Whole Foods seafood department and ask them to debone the $60 of Chilean sea bass I'm purchasing, they're most likely going to do it, even if that damn hippie does it with a fake smile.  (And I'm allowed to call them hippies, FYI.  I worked at/got fired from Whole Foods and its true!  Hippies!  Lots of 'em!  But if they'll debone my fish, I don't really don't care.)  If I go to my regular joe grocery store down the street and ask them to debone my fish, they're more likely to roll their eyes and help the guy behind me instead.   

You can debone your fish before or after you cook it, but I find that for ease of handling, it's a little easier to deal with cold fish than hot fish.  If you're not eating the fish right away, you might find that 1. Letting the fish cool down first helps  2. The bones actually come out a little easier when its cooked.

If we're talking about deboning an entire fish, back bone, ribs, and all, my trying to describe on a blog it isn't going to help you.  You need to watch someone, and unfortunately, my video blogs are much further down the road.  So I went on You Tube and tried to find the most comprehensive video (geez, there's so much crap on the internet), and also one with a dreamy looking guy as a bonus.  So far, this one's the winner.  

I'm sorry I don't have an easier fix for you.  Unfortunately, this one just take some good ol' grunt work, but if you're not crazy about the grody feeling of needle-like surprises poking you all the way down to your belly, it's definitely worth it.  Plus, it gives you an excuse to go to the hardware store and buy a fun new toy.  And if you happen to find a pair of pliers in hot pink or perhaps a nice shade of lavender, feel free to ship them to me... I promise I'll pay you back!

*I would just like to point out that yes, that IS Steven Seagal manhandling a fish guitar.  Is it real?  Probably not, but I like the idea of muscles and ponytails and gills and music. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

First Days of Spring and Fish Casseroles

Dear Tricia, On this first day of spring, I'm going to experiment in my kitchen with fish. I have tilapia, salmon, tuna, and cod. I'd like to do some sort of casserole....because I'm a girl, I'd like it to be mildly healthy. Suggestions?

Yes.  My first suggestion is to not make a casserole.  I know, I know... I pimp out old school delights like lil' smokies and meatballs with ketchup and grape jelly like there's no tomorrow, but I have some reservations about telling you to throw a bunch of fish and random leftovers in a casserole dish and call it dinner: it makes no sense.  I LOVE seafood, and I firmly believe it should be eaten with a tad more dignity than that.  (Not that you can't whip up a batch of your grandmother's tuna noodle casserole and enjoy it with gusto- but you're not writing me about tuna noodle casserole.  And I probably can't compete with her recipe.)  I just don't think you should diss the fish.  No one likes a fish disser.

I can however, tell you how to make a really easy fish recipe in a casserole dish.  It's no muss, no fuss, and super healthy.

Any of those delightful fishies in your fridge will work for this and measurements are for 1 filet.  So if you want to cook 4 filets, multiply the recipe by 4:

Preheat your oven to 400.

Have the following stuff ready:

Half a shallot
5 cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half and ready, and mix them with 2 teaspoons of capers.*
1/8 cup vegetable or chicken stock; or white wine

Put about a tablespoon of olive oil in the casserole dish.  You don't need to spread it out to cover the whole pan.  Just pour it in the middle.

Mince the shallot.  (Mince means cut it really small.  I don't want to insult your knowledge, but some people just don't know.)  Spread it in out in the olive oil in the shape of the filet of fish you're using.

Then season the fish with salt and pepper.  I don't like to tell you how much because some people like to use a lot of salt, and some people like to go heavy on the pepper.  Use however much you like.

Put the fish, seasoned side down, on the shallots.  The top it with the tomatoes and capers. Pour about another teaspoon of olive oil on top of the fish/tomato/shallot delightfulness.

Pour in the white wine or stock.  Bake this for about 12 minutes (depending on how old your oven is, or how done you like your fish.  Tilapia is thinner, so it'll probably be done in less than 10 minutes.)

Squeeze a wedge of lemon over it and it's done.  You can also chop up some fresh herbs and sprinkle them on top for a little color and extra bright flavor.  This can be eaten by itself, or on top of a bed of cooked spaghetti squash.  Cooking spaghetti squash is super easy: you just poke a bunch of holes in it and stick it in the oven for an hour.  (Some people microwave it because it's faster.  I like to put my oven to work.)  Then you cut it open, scrape out the seeds, and run a fork over the strands of squash to loosen them.  It's like fake pasta.  Seriously, I haven't eaten pasta in almost 2 years because spaghetti squash is such a decent, low carb, low calorie substitute.  5 ounces has something like 40 calories.  It's one of those foods where you're pretty much burning more calories by chewing it than you are actually digesting.  Move over celery, you've just been replaced!

So that's your quick and easy fish in a casserole dish.  Fish in a dish.  I'm suddenly feeling very Dr. Seuss-like.   It's not a traditional casserole, but it's hella fast and it only requires 5 ingredients.  In fact, when you look up the definition of the word, all a casserole is is "food cooked in a casserole dish."  So I guess I've done my job here.  And I guarantee it'll impress the gentlemen more than tuna noodle.   (Hey, I don't make the rules, I just pass them along to you, my dear readers.)

On a side note, there are some big things happening with the blog in the next week.  Keep checking back for some sweet surprises!

*Capers are something I used to hate. They're a floral bud from bushes in the Mediterranean that are pickled.  They can be a little salty and sour, but I like them with fish.  You can sub these out with chopped black or green olives, or maybe go sweet with some golden raisins.  There's no rules here- have a martini and start playing around with it.