Category Archives: cooking

the mind of a chef

I’m watching the PBS series “The Mind of a Chef” and I’ve learned stuff already from it. Like maybe I want to go to Japan and eat lots of ramen and seafood there (that’s from season one with David Chang). There’s a segment where they do cook a dish and talk about it and I learned some cooking tidbits, but already forgot them because I watched but didn’t practice the cooking technique.

Anyway, it’s good because they’re half-hour episodes, which to me is a digestible size of program. Did I just make a food pun? Because I would never ever use puns. Puns are terrible.

ramen

There’s a Netflix documentary series called “Chef’s Table” that is really an indulgence to watch. So much tasty food in high definition. The story for each chef is unique and some are just wild. To really want to be a chef takes a real love for the craft. It boggles me how each person is willing to just be in a kitchen for that long! I only prefer eating the food.

I watched the episode on Ivan Orkin and his ramen story. At first I thought this did not fit in the Chef’s Table caliber of chefs, most of whom have Michelin stars and very expensive restaurants. But he has a really good story and apparently his ramen is so good that he was popular in Japan. To be legit with ramen in Japan is probably the best indicator of the real deal.

Anyway, it just made me hungry for ramen. Unfortunately, I can’t eat it these days with my wheat problem, so I make my own homemade, nothing-like-ramen ramen using brown rice ramen from Costco. It’s good enough for me, even if it doesn’t  have the rich umami of the broth or the yummy pieces of pork belly or any of the garnishes. Well, it isn’t good enough, but it’ll have to do for now while I eat my nothing-like-ramen ramen and watch Chef’s Table.

bread

Last time I talked about nutritional yeast; today will be about bread.

Mmmmmmmm…bread. I like bread. I love bread. All kinds, like plain ol’ white bread, wheat bread, hot dog bread, hamburger bread, artisan bread, baguettes, ciabatta, sourdough, flatbread, cornbread. And all the other varieties you like, I probably like too.

But I can’t eat these delicious breads because of the wheat factor. Darnit. Oh, but you can eat cornbread, can’t you? It’s made from corn, not wheat.

Not totally true. Even cornbread has more wheat flour than cornmeal in it. It’s actually a combo of wheat and corn. There’s the rub!

So I look at bread from afar and try to remember the texture and taste of just-toasted bread. The crunchy crust, the melting of butter on warm toast, the smell of baked goodness, the chewy middle.

The latest season of Netflix’s Chef’s Table has an episode for a local chef known for founding La Brea Bakery. The bread there is very good, even though it’s all industrialized now. But the episode is a lovely story about food and a person’s love for making something extraordinary out of something ordinary.

If I had the work ethic of a chef, I might have been a chef, but the reality is that I like to eat food more than making food. And when it comes to bread, I have to look at it and not eat it. Sad, but not sad.

The great thing about today is the variety of wheat alternatives available. If this was 10 years ago and I knew I couldn’t handle wheat, then it would have been sad. But then, maybe I would have become a chef, having to make my own wheat alternatives? I might have been a lot healthier back then, too. Now we’ll never know, and it really doesn’t matter.

nutty for the nooch

I’m trying new things these days. The local grocery store had a big sale on Bragg products. I use apple cider vinegar regularly and the sale was better than the online prices so I stocked up. Then one day I was reading the weekly grocery store mailer (the digital one; I ironically tossed the paper and then found and read the digital version) and saw that all the Bragg products were on sale and it had a little photo of all their products, which included their liquid aminos and the nutritional yeast.

Since finding out about how soy sauce has gluten, I’ve been sad to not be able to eat many foods that have soy sauce in it. I’ve got tamari soy sauce, but I’ve been curious about the liquid aminos.

In the past I’ve associated liquid aminos with the old-school hippie Whole Foods patrons, not the yuppie WF patrons. And they were crazy vegetarians or vegans, and I never considered even trying it. Does “liquid aminos” sound remotely appetizing? Let alone “nutritional yeast?” Obviously these non-food labeled foods were marketed to people who didn’t care about eating delicious food or delicious-sounding food.

But coming off my bone broth cleanse and seeing the big sale I decided to try both those things. What is wrong with me? Gluten is what’s wrong with me. And I was curious.

The liquid aminos actually aren’t that bad at all, so while I like the product, I still hate the name.

But the nutritional yeast, that’s a different story.

I love it.

But the name is still lame.

It’s really good on popcorn. And in soup. I put it in my homemade rice noodle ramen that’s my mash up of random veggies in broth. It does have a nutty, cheesy smell and flavor, but not the consistency of cheese, unfortunately.

But the best thing is to eat the “nooch” with cheese, so I get the cheese but also the nuttiness of the nooch that also has tons of B-vitamins. It really does add a lot of nutrition with almost no sodium, yet it tastes salty. So it’s good to not be vegan and nosh on the nooch.

popcorn

I’ve been wondering why people are buying bags of popcorn at the grocery stores. Popcorn is only for the movies, and when you watch a movie at home you buy the microwave bags and eat that. Why eat popcorn outside of a movie watching setting? Why are there so many brands of popcorn? They all have the same flavors! They all have a cheesy one, the salt and pepper one, the caramel one, the so-and-so one. And you get so little for the money. Potato chips are a better deal since it’s easy to make popcorn at home and not so easy to make potato chips.

Then, one day I ate some kettle corn. That bag was empty real fast. But why the craze?

I realized it’s because it’s seen as a healthier snack than potato chips because it’s so airy and not greasy. And you can put the “gluten-free” label on it. And charge a lot for what you get in a bag.

I started buying some kettle corn bags, but I didn’t like paying three bucks or whatever for a bag that was literally just popcorn, salt, and sugar. I can make this at home!

So while you can make popcorn in a pot, you can also get a gadget. Who wouldn’t like a gadget?

It’s cool to turn a wooden handle and hear the kernels pop. I feel so vintage and analog, old-school and old-timey. It’s hard not to when the thing is called a Whirley-Pop.

And it’s over in a few minutes. The kernels pop so fast it’s like firecrackers. Then pour steaming hot popcorn into a bowl and sprinkle or pour the seasonings and toppings. And all for cents, not dollars. And it’s organic. And it’s still gluten-free.

two ingredient bone broth recipe (super-duper fancy)

There are many recipes for bone broth out there, but it’s really not hard. A child could make bone broth. Just don’t buy bone broth thinking it’s the same as homemade, because it’s not the same. Don’t drink the packaged broth in the paper cartons; it’s not going to be good for you to drink that if it’s not used for a soup or flavoring a dish.

So here’s my super-duper fancy recipe for bone broth:

Ingredients: 

Bones. Your butcher can get a nice fresh beef bone and cut it up for the crockpot. Get marrow and knuckles. Or chicken or fish bones, whatever floats your boat.

Water. Tap (if you like the taste of tap, but does anyone like tap water?), filtered, or bottled. I use bottled water.

Instructions:

Put bones in crockpot, enough to cover maybe a third or half the pot. It’s totally up to you.

Pour water into crockpot.

Cook on low setting for as long as possible. 8, 10, 12, up to 24 hours. You can tell it’s getting good when all the marrow comes out of the bones and it looks like all the collagen’s been sucked out of them. There will be a nice layer of fat swirling on the top.

Take out bones and skim the broth, taking out solids like the stray meat pieces. If you don’t want all that fat, you can wait or cool the broth so the fat solidifies and take it off in pieces. Save the fat to fry stuff (mmm) later.

Drink broth at will, but it should be warm. Cold broth is nasty. Add salt if needed, like sea salt or himalayan pink salt, something with minerals in it. The broth is bland but it’s better to add salt after serving than during the boiling and make it too salty. Then it’ll be like the packaged broth you didn’t buy, and then what would be the point in making this?

Store in fridge or freezer. I use mason jars.