04 November 2013

Introducing Punk Somm

Life has been very busy for me lately and I have let my blog fall by the wayside. By popular demand I will be reviving it in a limited fashion. New food posts will continue to appear. Some will be in great detail like my past recipe posts. Others will be limited in scope but, hopefully, still informative to make it worth your hard earned time to read. And I have a new trick up my sleeve.
Also by popular demand I will now be hosting wine tastings. These are designed to be educational events. We will discuss various topics including, but not limited to, selecting wine for drinking now and for aging, tasting wine, and pairing wine with food for any occasion. We will also focus on specific regions so that we may all better understand the world of wine. Tastings will be limited to 8 participants. Please keep checking back for the details on the first class to happen in December 2013, just in time for your holiday wine shopping.
If you would like to enroll in the inaugural class please contact me through my email, punkchef69@gmail.com, for more information regarding time, venue, class focus, and cost. All classes will take place in Austin, Texas. If a class is already full then I will inform you via email and give you the choice of being on the waiting list for the next available class. I hope to see you there. Cheers!

14 February 2012

Burn, Baby, Burn!

Happy Valentine's Day. Let's make Eggs in Hell. Or, as they say in Italia, U'Ova All'Inforno. I like this dish because of its simplicity. Let's face it, when you come home at any given time and you are hungry it's nice to be able to throw something together really quickly. It's also nice to not have to clean up a whole bunch of dishes.

One day at work a friend of mine mentioned this dish as, "...eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce." I thought about what they had said and put it together in my head while I was working. When I got home I Googled it and found all kinds of variations for it by all kinds of people, famous or not.

So what, exactly, is Eggs in Hell? Basically, it is an egg (or eggs) cooked in a spicy tomato sauce. You can make your own sauce from scratch. Or, if you are really in a hurry you can use a good jarred sauce (today's recipe will use the latter in the spirit of quick convenience). When I use a jarred pasta sauce I still like to spice it up a little bit more to my liking. I like to serve it over toasted bread but it could easily be eaten over pasta or just plain, straight from the pan.

This recipe will allow you to cook for one person or more, if need be. It is very easy to adjust. You can cook it in one pot. If you cooked for yourself then you have one plate to wash. If you cooked for a crowd you still don't have that much more work to do. Eggs in Hell is good for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

First, as always, we will get our ingredients together (mis en place).

Next we will sauté a little sliced onion, crushed red pepper, dried oregano, and thyme in some EVOO.

When the onions are soft and the herbs are aromatic pour in as much of the sauce as you will need. Bring it to a strong simmer and stir to mix.

When the sauce is simmering nicely make a little indentation (this keeps the white from spreading too much; good for multiple eggs) for the egg and crack it directly into the sauce.

Cover the pot with a lid and let the egg cook while you make a slice of toast. If you are making pasta then allow for the appropriate amount of time for the pasta to cook.

When the toast is done put it in a bowl. I like to put some fresh spinach on top of mine.

By now the egg should be medium. If you like your egg runny then get the toast done before you crack the egg into the sauce. That way you won't be doing other things while the egg is cooking. If you like your egg hard then just cook the shit out of it. Spoon the egg and sauce directly onto the spinach (the heat of the sauce will wilt the spinach slightly). Grate some Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on top and chow down. Yum.

If you have any leftover sauce you can just put it right back into the jar for another time. Just try to use it up within a week because food poisoning really does suck and I would like you to keep reading my blog in good faith.

Eggs in Hell

1 jar of good quality Pasta Sauce
1/4 Onion, sliced
1+ teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1 teaspoon Dried (or fresh) Oregano
1 teaspoon Dried (or fresh) Thyme
3 Tablespoons EVOO
Salt to taste
Pepper to tast
1 slice Crusty Bread, toasted
Fresh Baby Spinach, optional
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, not optional

Heat the EVOO in a sauce pan. Add the onion, red pepper, oregano, and thyme. Sauté until the onion is soft.

Add as much sauce as you need for one serving (I recommend at least a cup) to the pan and bring to a hard simmer. Adjust seasoning with salt.

Crack the egg directly into the sauce and cover. Cook about 3 minutes for a soft egg.

While the egg is cooking place the toasted bread in a bowl and top it with some fresh spinach. When the egg is done spoon the egg and plenty of sauce over the spinach. Top the egg with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and serve immediately.

Serves 1

12 January 2012

Getting It Together

Well, I must say that I am embarrassed. I thought that I could handle this blogging thing and it was starting to look like I was wrong. Until now, that is. In my defense I will tell you that I have had a couple of technical setbacks. I have also experienced a surge in work. Now, though, I am settling into the groove of things and have decided to not let life get in my way. It's past thyme for me to get it together.

In the spirit of getting things together I have decided to let you into my world a little bit. Those of you who have followed my humble blog have left me some encouraging comments. So I would like to show any who are interested what I use to do what I do. My point here is to show you that you don't need a lot of flashy equipment. You don't need to remodel your kitchen and have the hot, new stove and oven installed. The secret, and I truly believe this, is that you must have the desire to make good food. Sometimes we cook a new recipe, or we improvise a new dish and it fails utterly and completely. This has happened to me countless times (just ask my Mom about the pesto pizza and the grease fire). I will eat burned mistakes because I just don't want to waste the food. All of this has not made me want to quit cooking and trying new things. Take heart and persevere, because you will often succeed brilliantly.

Along the way I have picked up a mish-mash of kitchen items that I use to produce all of my food. Some things are very valuable, some were found at garage sales, some were gifts, and many were hand-me-downs. They all work just how I like them, or rather, they all work just how I would like them to. Come into my home and see for yourself.

This is my kitchen. My house is old and funky. The kitchen is small and has no dishwasher. The stove is gas (yippee!) but nothing fancy. 99% of the recipes I have blogged about have been made in this kitchen.

Now, lets have a look at my knives. Your knives are your most important item in your kitchen. This is where most of my money has been invested. A few nice ones were gifts, too. The top two are my most prized blades. They were hand made by Shinichi Watanabe in Japan. The bottom two are Wusthoff Classic (my preferred style of blade that is top quality and widely available). I use the 10" Wusthoff a lot while the smaller one gets most of its use from The Missus or The Kid.

The rest of my blades are a collection of cheap things that work well. The curved blades are for boning and fish filleting. I got them from work (for free!). The paring knives just showed up; the Wusthoff paring knife was a gift and the paring knife with the white handle probably came from a restaurant that I worked in years ago (I've had it for about 15 years, at least). I use these knives a lot because I can just toss them around. If they break, no biggie. For more important jobs I get out the good steel. Oh, I have no idea where the serrated knife came from but they are great to have.

I store my most used knives on a magnetic bar (the Watanabe Blades get their own special box). The rest of my knives are stored in a drawer.

A good knife needs a good cutting board. I like Boos Blocks. I bought one new and refurbished an old one (I got it free) myself.

Once you have something to cut with and something to cut on you will need something to cook in. Pans are good. This is where you can really save some money. Take a look at what I have and I'll show you how.
Garage Sale: $25 for all.

Thrift store finds and hand-me-downs.

Good cast iron pans are great to have. Lodge makes great stuff. Mine belonged to my great-grandmother. They are probably about 100 years old. Take good care of them and they will last longer than you.

The above pots and pans see equal use. My Dutch ovens don't get quite as much cook time but I do use them for small batches of soups, stews, and casseroles. I have a cast iron Dutch oven but since my family is small I usually favor these. They are Le Creuset and I love them (they were gifts).

What shall we stir with? My favorite utensils are wooden spoons.

It's also handy to have some stainless steel spoons and spatulas (spatuli?)

Rubber spatulas and scrapers are a must. I picked some of this stuff up at a local restaurant supply store. If there is one in your area then I recommend you get to know them. They are a great source for new equipment at good, fair prices. I also have some other things in this picture that I use frequently: wire whisk, offset spatula (frosting), microplane grater (citrus zest and hard cheese), a pastry fork for mashing stuff, and a vegetable peeler.

I keep all this stuff in utensil crocks on the counter so that they are always nearby when I cook.

I like to bake. Sheet pans are very handy in this area (another great thing to get at a restaurant supply store). Here are some of my baking needs.

(Okay, I don't absolutely NEED the corkscrew when I bake. But it does come in handy.)

I use these next two items in both baking and cooking. They are not cheap but I have come to find that they are essential in my kitchen. Consider this a good investment.

Finally, I like to keep a bowl of coarse sea salt, fine grain salt, a pepper mill, and a bowl of sugar at hand on the counter.

And when I wake up in the morning I MUST have my tea. Toast is nice, too.

There you have it. These are the items that see most of the action in my kitchen. I have other bowls, bread pans, and various items for various tasks. Most of it I have collected over the years. So go to garage sales, go to thrift stores, ask your Mom if she doesn't need that pan anymore. You don't need to go to the fancy kitchen store and drop $600 on a full set of All Clad and another $1000 on a full set of knives. All you need to do is cook and keep your knives sharp. What are you waiting for? Oh, I almost forgot to mention that I don't own a microwave.

01 June 2011

Picture Blog

Psst...hey, you. Wanna see something really cool? Check this out.

Put the tray in the freezer while you do the next steps.
This is chocolate frosting and black food coloring.


Starburst Fruit Chews.

Nuke the chocolate frosting for about 45 seconds, stirring.


Thin Chocolate Cookies.

Now it starts to get really fun.

Vanilla Frosting.

Mini Chocolate Chips.

One last dot of frosting.

Pretty cool, huh? This book has all kinds of fun ideas and handy tips. It take patience and practice if you have not done anything like this before. Persevere.