Monday, December 24, 2012

Stoner Cooking Christmas Eve 2012

A Holiday Search: The Best Eggnog You Can Buy
Elizabeth Gunnison

You're either for nog or you're against it. There is no middle ground. It all comes down to how you feel about drinking your bourbon or rum in a pool of melted ice cream, because that's more or less what eggnog is: eggs, sugar, cream, nutmeg, and vanilla. It's an ice-cream base masquerading as a cocktail mixer.

It helps that nog has history on its side. It's a drink born in medieval England, made popular in early America, which now lives in our collective imagination as a symbol of a bygone time when men were men, women were women, and people could take down a concoction of hard alcohol, refined sugar, and animal fat without the hideous stamp of modern guilt.

The best eggnog is always that which you make from scratch, but if you're going to opt for a store-bought version, you would do well to choose carefully. All nogs are not created equal, as I recently discovered when I sampled eight popular brands. What follows is my appraisal of the field.

(Note that all of these eggnogs are sold in non-alcoholic form; you can do the spiking with a booze of your choosing at home.)

Scent: Most nogs didn't give off much of a bouquet, with the exception of Rice Dream's Rice Nog ($2), which smelled of new My Little Pony dolls.

Appearance: Generally speaking, the nogs were a neutral, inoffensive shade of off-white. Demerits go to Rice Nog, which looked like filthy water, and Lactaid Eggnog ($2.99), for its weirdly bright-yellow hue (perhaps over-compensation for a brand name that sounds more like a female nursing tool than a festive holiday beverage). Ronnybrook Eggnog ($4.79) was also a little unsettlingly yellow.

Texture: Most of the nogs suffered from being too thick, due to the fact that dairy companies crudely try to replicate the luscious texture of whipped eggs by doctoring their heavy cream with guar gum and carrageenan. This results in a slimy, Pepto Bismal consistency. Southern Comfort Eggnog ($3.99) set itself apart by recalling instead the grittiness of Mylanta. Points to Organic Valley ($4.99) for finding the proper level of thickness. The brand doesn't use guar gum, and the resulting nog is hefty without being mouth-coating.

Nutrition: Eggnog is irredeemable from a nutritional standpoint. Period. The pre-packaged stuff is mostly made from high-fructose corn syrup, dairy fat, and a bunch of unlovable additives. Rice Nog and Horizon Organic Eggnog ($4) were notably lighter in fat and calories than the others, if you keep track of such things. Let's all agree that there's a two-drink maximum on eggnog and inquire no further into the exact composition of the stuff.

Flavor: I found Southern Comfort, Lactaid, Ronnybrook, and Farmland Dairies ($2.49) to be middling nogs, tooth-achingly sweet, and with flavors in the vanilla pudding and butterscotch categories. Horizon Organic tasted of bubblegum; Holiday Eggnog ($2.49), the worst of the bunch, had a distinct turpentine finish. Rice Nog, as one might expect, wasn't a true nog so much as rice milk half-heartedly flavored with pie spices. The stand-out in the group was Organic Valley, which tasted of nutmeg and fresh cream, and wasn't nearly so sweet as the other brands. I suspect this is because the company skipped the corn syrup and instead used organic fair-trade cane sugar.

Winner: By a landslide, Organic Valley, for its pure nutmeg taste, moderate sweetness, clean texture, and an all-organic ingredient list that proved less horrifying than its competitors.


The Prez Obama Burger
Caroline Russock
JUN 25, 2010

The year that Spike Mendelsohn opened Good Stuff Eatery in D.C. just happened to coincide with a pretty exciting presidential election. Spike decided to hold his own race to the White House pitting the Obama burger against the McCain burger. The Obama burger ended up beating out the McCain burger four to one. Politics aside, I'm pretty sure the toppings were the ultimate deciding factors in this burger race.

McCain's burger was topped with Southwestern chipotle mayo, corn and roasted red pepper salsa, jack cheese, lettuce, and tomato—maybe delicious but a bit all over the place for my tastes, at least. The Prez Obama Burger was equally dressed up but with toppings that seemed a little more burger-friendly and down to earth—basically a bacon blue cheese burger with horseradish mayo and a sweet and sour red onion marmalade.

Obama's victory lead his namesake burger to a permanent spot on the Good Stuff menu, and with good reason. This burger is a keeper. The strong flavors of the blue cheese, horseradish, and onions work harmoniously. And the red onion marmalade and horseradish mayo are worth making on their own. Even if you find them a little much for a burger, they seem like they were made for a roast beef or toasted ham and cheese sandwich.


For the horseradish mayonnaise:
2 cups Homemade Basic Mayonnaise (recipe follows)
4 ounces prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon cayenne
11/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt

For the red onion marmalade:
2 red onions
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup sugar

For the burgers:
30 ounces ground sirloin
6 potato buns, cut in half
Canola oil
1 pound applewood smoked bacon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound crumbled blue cheese
2 large eggs
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups grapeseed oil

To make the Horseradish Mayonnaise, add the basic mayonnaise, horseradish, cayenne, pepper, and salt to taste to a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth. The mayonnaise can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

To make the Red Onion Marmalade, slice both red onions 1/2 inch thick. Add the vinegar and sugar to a pot over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Once the sugar is completely dissolved, add the onions. Cook, stirring constantly to prevent burning, until the onions are translucent and the liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

To make the patties, roll six 5-ounce sirloin balls and form each ball into a patty. Arrange on a tray, cover, and refrigerate.

Toast the buns and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and just add enough oil to cover the entire bottom. Line a plate with paper towels. When the oil begins to smoke, add the bacon and cook until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon. Drain on the paper towels. Drain the fat from the pan but do not wipe clean.

Reduce the heat to medium and place the patties into the skillet. Season the patties with salt and pepper and cook for 3 minutes. Flip, and cook on the other side for 1 minute more. Distribute the crumbled blue cheese equally among the patties and continue to cook 2 minutes more for medium-rare doneness. Cover with a lid for the last 30 seconds to melt the cheese.

Homemade Basic Mayonnaise
- makes about 2 cups -

Add the eggs, mustard, vinegar, and salt to a food processor or blender. Process for 30 seconds in the food processor, or for 10 seconds in the blender. With the motor running, drizzle in the oil slowly at first, then add in a thin, steady stream until all the oil is added and the mixture is smooth. Stop the motor and taste. If the sauce is too thick, thin it with a little hot water. If too thin, process a little longer. The mayonnaise can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.


The Only Cheeseburger Recipe You'll Ever Need
It's juicy, rich, and perfectly seasoned — chef Gabrielle Hamilton shares the only burger recipe you'll ever need.
Gabrielle Hamilton

The only problem with putting a good burger on your restaurant's menu is that you suddenly become a burger joint, and if you have any inflated ideas of yourself as a chef, this can mess with them. As you hunch over the counter in your chef's whites — with your apron neatly tied, your side towel folded just so, your tasting spoons glinting in front of you — and you fill your 30th ramekin of ketchup, you think, "Hmm. This is not exactly what I had pictured for myself." But the home cook will not suffer this existential setback for the few occasions in a year when you make yourself a burger, and this one is a genuine knockout. The addition of lamb to the not-too-lean chuck gives the burger a discernible gamey richness and helps deepen the flavor of ground beef, which on its own can be slightly tinny and mineral-tasting from the iron — especially true of grass-fed beef. The parsley-shallot butter takes the "joint" right out of this burger and puts it in the restaurant league.

Serves 4

2 cloves garlic
¾ cups peeled and roughly chopped shallots
2 cups picked, clean parsley leaves
3½ teaspoons coarse kosher salt (do not use fine iodized salt)
1 pound unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes, at room temperature
1 pound excellent-quality ground chuck
½ pound excellent-quality ground lamb
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces sharp white cheddar (sliced into 4 slices)
Thomas' Original sandwich-size English muffins

In a food processor, chop the garlic and shallots finely. Add parsley leaves and 1½ teaspoons salt, and also process to fine. Add butter and process to smooth and emerald-green.

Run your hands under very cold water for a minute — this will keep the meat from getting gummy — then gently combine the two meats. Divide the meat into four equal portions (six ounces each), then gently form into patties that are 1¼ inches thick and three inches in diameter. Season each patty all over — top, bottom, and the circumference — with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Touch the patties as tenderly and as little as possible — the more you manhandle and compact the meat, the tougher it becomes.

Heat a cast-iron skillet on low heat for two minutes, then increase the heat to medium-high, add 1 tablespoon oil, and place patties in pan. Cover with a splatter screen, if you own one, to minimize the mess on your stove top. Cook for seven minutes on one side, flip, and cook for five more minutes. Do not turn, touch, press down on, or otherwise molest the burgers while they are cooking. Place cheese on top and either place in a hot oven or under the broiler until the cheese is just melted but not liquefied.

Split four of the English muffins by deeply pricking them along the horizontal seam with the tines of a dinner fork. Toast well and generously smear both the tops and the bottoms with the room-temperature parsley-shallot butter, "wall to wall" as we say at Prune, so that every bite will be seasoned and not just the center ones. (The remaining butter can be refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for up to six weeks — it is delicious on everything from toast to steak.) Place the burgers on the bottoms and close with the buttered English muffin lids.


Stuffed Meatballs With Spaghetti

2 slices bacon
3/4 lb. ground pork
3/4 lb. ground veal
1/2 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
4 ounces Parmesan cheese, cut into 16 cubes
2 Tbsp. Bertolli® Classico™ Olive Oil
1 jar Bertolli® Vidalia Onion with Roasted Garlic Sauce
8 ounces spaghetti, cooked and drained

Preheat oven to 350°.

Cook bacon in 10-inch skillet. Let cool, then cut into 16 even pieces; set aside.

Combine pork, veal, onion, basil, parsley, egg, bread crumbs, garlic, salt and pepper in medium bowl; shape into 16 meatballs. Split each meatball in half, then put cheese and bacon in center; seal. Arrange meatballs in 11 x 13-inch baking dish, then drizzle with Olive Oil. Bake 20 minutes.

Heat Sauce in 2-quart saucepan over low heat, then add meatballs and cook 10 minutes or until meatballs are done. Serve over hot spaghetti and garnish, if desired, with grated Parmesan cheese and additional parsley.

PREP TIME 20 Minutes
COOK TIME 25 Minutes

Amount Per Serving
Calories 870
Calories From Fat 390
% Daliy Value*
Total Fat 43 Grams
Saturated Fat 15 Grams
Trans Fat 0 Grams
Cholesterol 190 Milligrams
Sodium 1920 Milligrams
Total Carbohydrate 69 Grams
Dietary Fiber 4 Grams
Sugars 21 Grams
Protein 52 Grams
Vitamin A 50 Percent
Vitamin C 70 Percent
Calcium 45 Percent
Iron 40 Percent


Rhonda's Spaghetti with Fried Eggs and Pangritata for One

Serves one

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup fresh or stale coarse breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
zest from half a lemon

Heat 2 T olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the breadcrumbs and sauté until golden and crispy, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the rosemary, immediately remove from heat and allow to cool.

Mix in lemon zest and set aside.

Spaghetti and Eggs
4 ounces spaghetti
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
1 teaspoon small capers, drained
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil and cook pasta to al dente according to directions on box. (I usually undercook the pasta by about a minute.)

Wipe out the skillet from the pangritata, add 1 T olive oil and 1 T butter and melt together over medium heat.

Add the garlic and immediately break the eggs into the skillet.

If need be, lower the heat a bit. You want the garlic to cook without burning and the egg whites to set, but the yolks to remain runny.

Drain the pasta well, reserving ½ c of the cooking liquid.

Add pasta back to the pot, pour over the eggs and all the fat from the skillet, add the parsley and capers and toss well, breaking up the eggs as you do. If you prefer a wetter dish, you can add in some of the reserved cooking liquid.

Plate the pasta and eggs, season well with freshly ground black pepper, sprinkle with the grated cheese and then top with the pangritata.

Pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy!


Kung Pao Popeye
J. Kenji López-Alt
OCT 20, 2011

Note: For best results, use Popeye's chicken nuggets or popcorn shrimp. Other brands will work if necessary.

TOTAL TIME: 10 minutes

1/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry, in unavailable)
1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar (Chinkiang vinegar)
1 tablespoon Sichuan fermented chili-bean paste
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 long hot green pepper, sliced thinly on the bias
2 small leeks, white and light green parts only sliced into 1/4-inch segments
1 large stalk of celery, sliced on the bias into 1/4-inch slices
2 cloves minced garlic (about 2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
12 hot Chinese whole dry chili peppers
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
18 to 24 Popeye's Chicken Nuggets or 3 orders Popeye's Popcorn Shrimp
2 tablespoons toasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns

Combine stock, soy sauce, wine, vinegar, chili-bean paste, sugar, and cornstarch in a small bowl and whisk with a fork until combined and homogeneous.

Heat oil in a large wok over high heat until smoking. Add peppers, leeks, and celery and stir fry, letting them sit long enough to get slightly charred on once side before tossing and flipping. Cook until tender but still bright green, about 1 1/2 minutes tota. Add garlic, ginger, chilis, and peanuts. Stir fry, tossing regularly until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add chicken or shrimp and reserved sauce and stir fry until sauce is thick and glossy and all the food is nicely coated. Add half of Sichuan peppercorns and toss to combine. Transfer to a hot plate, sprinkle with remaining Sichuan peppercorn, and serve immediately.


Bacon Brownies
by Mr. B.

Bacon and brownie lovers unite! Yes, you’re seeing it correctly. Bacon has decided to mate with the chocolate brownie and the offspring is so adorably delicious, you’ll have the words “Nom Nom Nom” running through your head. It’s the ultimate confection for stoners and bacon lovers alike. And if you want to buy your own bacon brownie, Bacon Freak, just launched this bad boy. The best part is it doesn’t matter where you live. Bacon Freak isn’t one of those new bakeries that you only read about in the news and find yourself saying, “Why isn’t this awesome place located near me? I want a bacon brownie!”

Bacon Freak is an online store you can go to for all your bacon loving needs. And they have the Bacon Brownie for you to order online! Think of it as a long distance pizza. No need to wish. Just “click, click” and you can have a bacon brownie right in your lustful hands.

If you’re the proactive type, you can always make your own. Here’s how!

First you need bacon. Use as many strips as you would like. This recipe has 4 strips. You may as well cook all the bacon because even if you don’t use all the strips in your brownies, you’ll still want to snack on them while making this delicatessen.

Next, you need to get the brownie mix. Use your favorite. Be fancy and get the Turtle Brownie mix. This mix comes with a bag of caramel to pour on top of your mix. Delish!

Next up, eggs and vegetable oil.

Okay, time to get down to it.

1) Pre-heat your oven to 350°F.

2) Grease a 13”x9” baking pan. (8” and 9” square pans will also work just fine.)

3) Heat up a frying pan. Pre-cook some bacon for about 3 minutes per side. Not too much – you don’t want to totally fry it, you just want to get it a little past raw. Raw is bad for taste as well as for your intestinal tract. The bacon should just be starting to brown and might be a little crispy.

4) When the bacon is ready, set it aside on a plate lined with paper towels to help drain some of the grease.

5) Following the directions on the box, combine the brownie mix, vegetable oil, water and eggs.

6) When the batter is ready, pour slightly less than half of it into the pan.

7) Now add the bacon. You can go as big or as small as you would like. That’s the great thing about bacon – there’s no wrong amount unless you don’t have enough!

8) Now add the rest of the brownie batter on top of the bacon. Be sure to cover it all up.

9) A little tasty caramel to finish it off.

10) It’s ready for the oven, so take another look at the box and bake it for however long it says. Betty Crocker suggested 27 minutes, but these were done in just 22.

11) Let the brownies cool for a few minutes, then dig in! Yep, it’s good isn’t it?

Bacon Brownies are a definite must in the bacon and dessert world. You can’t call yourself a bacon lover until you’ve tasted these.

Life is good. Bacon is better.

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