Monday, January 31, 2011


Much like a fine wine, these things take time.  Saturday night was a lot of fun!  We made a ton of cupcakes.  There were two failures, but there were five success stories.  I'm looking forward to sharing them with you.  Also on the agenda, our first podcast was recorded Sunday!  I'm trying to get that uploaded as well... so stay tuned!

In the meantine - here's me in the kitchen:

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Going live in 3... 2... 1... THE CUPCAKE IS COMING

Quick update folks!

Check out twitter feed ( over the next few hours hours as we prep for tomorrow's blog...  Your comments and suggestions will be included as we start "Thinking Sideways" about Cupcakes!

The great soup debate part 3 of 3

The Great Broth - Cream Soup Debates part 3
We pick up the action from where we left off yesterday.  Chef LaVache's Sous Chefs had made a French Onion soup for Dr. Such's challenge.  While they were hard at work at one side of the kitchen in Cleveland's famous "Château des Huit Chats Fous" restaurant, Chef Besciamella had called his assistants aside.

“Dr. Such wants a cream soup from us.  Let's build a Cream of Leek Soup.  You will need a vegetable stock, a bechemel sauce, and of course leeks.  Build the soup, and I will be back to check on you later."

Chef Besciamella walked out to the stunned silence of his sous chefs.

"That was less than impressive"

"Guess it's up to us"

"So for our stock, let's get the leftover ends and bits of vegetable pieces that we save in the root cellar as well as the ends of the leeks and start them boiling.  The success of this soup will depend on how rich we can make this stock!"

After a check of the root cellar and the larder, Chef Besciamella's troops came back with some onions, some green beans, the parsnip Chef LaVache's sous chef's didn't want, some carrots, some celery leaves, asparagus ends, onion peels, broccoli stalks, cauliflower,  and a zucchini.

"This should work"

Everything was put into the pot, spices were added along with salt, it was covered with water, about 12 cups, and allowed to boil.  And boil.  And boil.  When the liquid was reduced to about half, they replaced it and boiled it down again.

When the vegetable stock was ready, it was drained through a sieve.

Meanwhile, several leeks were cut, cleaned and sauteed in butter.  Once they were soft, they were removed from the butter and flour was added to the butter. Once combined, the warm milk was added along with a little salt.

Once the mixture started to bubble, 6 cups of stock and 2 cups of cream were added slowly.  When the soup came to a boil, the leeks were added back.

When the time came Dr. Such and the Mayor sat down for dinner and the soups were served.



Chefs Besciamella and LaVache were called forward for the final verdict.
Dr, Such began, "Both soups were remarkable, meals in and of themselves.  Chef LaVache, you made the Onion Soup?"


"And Chef Besciamell, you made the Cream of Leek soup?"



Both chefs looked perplexed, looked at each other and then said, "Yes. Of course"

2 months later, the restaurant reopened under all 6 sous chefs. The morals of the story?
  • No one soup is better than another, it all depends on what you're in the mood for.
  • Work together in the kitchen
  • Be creative and think sideways
Cream of Leek Soup

Vegetable Stock
(These can vary - store odds and ends in your freezer to make stock)
  • 2 onions
  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 1 pound green beans
  • Ends of 2 large leeks
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 stalks celery, including some leaves
  • 8 whole black peppercorns
  • 4 sprigs parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 spring fresh rosemary
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 parsnip
  • 12 cups water
  1. Peel and slice onion. Clean and chop all vegetables into large chunks.
  2. Place all vegetables into pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 5 hours.
  3. If liquid reduces to below 8 cups, add additional water.
  4. Strain stock. Discard vegetables, and seasonings
Bechamel  Instructions


  • 2 large leeks
  • 1/4 cup butter plus 1/4 cup of butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  1. Warm a large skillet on stove over medium heat.  Melt butter.
  2. Remove stem end, 4-6 inches of green end, and outer layer of leek.  Rinse well and reserve for stock.
  3. Halve Leek and rinse well.  Slice into pieces
  4. Add leek to skillet.  Stir frequently until leek becomes soft and translucent.
  5. Remove leeks from skillet.  Add 1/4 cup butter
  6. When additional butter is melted, whisk in 1/4 cup flour.  Mix until smooth paste is formed.
  7. Add milk.  (some recipes call for warm, if your milk is cold, add slower)
The Final Assembly

  1. Move Bechamel into stockpot
  2. Slowly add vegetable stock and cream alternating between both.
  3. Return leeks to stockpot
  4. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes

Two bits of business

1)  Thank you for your patience with this odd 3-part series.  The Editor-in-chief and I have spoken and I can assure you it won't happen again for a while.  In the meantime I have to go write 100 times "I do not think I am Alton Brown." (Best penmanship too)

2) I got Hollandaise sauce this morning!!!  THANKS ALEX!  Pictures tomorrow.  Alex made what I now consider the World's Best BLT!  It consisted of a pan toasted English Muffin with a little cream cheese, wild lettuce, tomato, crispy bacon, hollandaise sauce, served over crispy hash browns.  Wow.  Really.  Wow!

Picture tomorrow.

Until tomorrow, I wish you all Peace, Love, and Hollandaise Sauce (with an English Muffin).

Friday, January 28, 2011

The great soup debate part 2

The Great Broth - Cream Soup Debates part 2

We left off yesterday with Dr. Such's challenge at Cleveland's famous "Château des Huit Chats Fous"

Chef LaVache was tasked to create a stock based soup while Chef Besciamella was to make a cream soup.  The chef that made the best soup would be made head chef of the restaurant.

Chef LaVache decided that he would make a French Onion Soup.  Quickly he sent his sous chefs out to gather his ingredients as he prepped his kitchen.

From the butcher, he purchased 4 pounds of ox tails, 4 pounds of English cut short ribs,  and 4 pounds of various soup bones

From the cheese shop, he purchased Gruyère cheese.
From the dairy, he purchased several pounds of butter.
From the wine shop, he purchased a bottle of champagne and a bottle of sherry

From the baker, he purchased several loaves of bread
Finally from the produce man, he purchased onions, celery, parsnips, and herbs.

"Gentlemen, tonight we will prepare the finest soup the city of Cleveland has ever seen!  Pierre!  Take the large dutch oven and coat the inside with oil.  Chop two of the onions, some celery, carrots, and parsnips. place them in the dutch oven with the ox tails and short ribs and let them roast for two hours.  Do not let them burn Pierre, or it will be back to the bayou for you.  Guy, Rene, come with me."

While Pierre was busy tending to the beef, Chef LaVache set Rene to work.  "Rene!  Your job will be to make the caramelized onions.  Take trick is to cook the onions very slowly.  Once they begin to get soft and translucent, add a little sherry.  Lower the heat if needed and do not let the onions burn.  If we fail at this soup, you will be back to peddling sauerkraut in the Catskills."

"Guy!  You will be responsible for final assembly of the tureens.  You will make the Croutons and float them on the soup.  No creativity this time and no screw ups!  I have already bought your passage back to France... the question is do you go back in steerage or in a steamer trunk!"

With those final words, Chef LaVache headed back to his office.

Pierre, Rene, and Guy went to the back of the kitchen and sat down to talk.

"What are we going to do?  If we fail, we're all done for."

"I don't think it's going to matter, so let's do this right.  Let's do this the way that tastes best."

"Absolutely,  first, lose the parsnip.  Next, Since we're using champagne already, let's lose the sherry."

"But use some of the beef fat in the onions"


"Together, we will make a wonderful soup!"

Beef Stock


  • 4 pounds ox tails
  • 4 pounds English short ribs
  • 4 pounds beef soup bones
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 stalks celery, including some leaves
  • 8 whole black peppercorns
  • 4 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 spring fresh rosemary
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 12 cups water
  • 1 cup champagne
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice onion. Chop scrubbed celery, carrots, and parsnip into 1-inch chunks. In a large dutch oven, place soup bones, short ribs, ox tails, onion, celery, carrots, parsnips, and salt. Bake, uncovered, about 2 hours or until the bones are well browned, turning occasionally.
  2. Remove dutch oven from oven to stove.  Place the browned bones and vegetable from dutch oven to heat proof container.  Over medium heat, deglaze pan with one cup of champagne.  Return all items back to dutch oven.  Add peppercors, parsley, bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, and garlic to dutch oven.  Cover with water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 5 hours.
  3. If liquid reduces to below 8 cups, add additional water.
  4. Strain stock. Discard meat, vegetables, and seasonings.  Drain off fat and reserve
  5. To clarify stock for clear soup: In order to remove solid flecks that are too small to be strained out with cheesecloth, combine 1/4 cup cold water, 1 egg white, and 1 crushed eggshell. Add to strained stock. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and let stand 5 minutes. Strain again through a sieve lined with cheesecloth.
Caramelized Onions


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Reserved Beef fat
  • 5 pounds large sweet onions (Vidalia onions are ideal for sweetness)
  • 1 teaspoon Sea salt
  • 2 cups champagne
  • 1 cup beef stock

  1. Warm a large skillet on stove over medium-low heat.  Melt butter and add a teaspoon of beef fat.
  2. Halved and cut onions pole to pole into 1/4 inch thick slices
  3. Add onions to skillet.  Stir frequently until onions become soft and translucent.
  4. Add a little champagne.  Allow the liquid to cook off while continuing to saute onions.
  5. When all liquid has evaporated, add a little beef stock and repeat the process.
  6. Alternate between the two liquids for about an hour or until the onions have achieved a rich brown color.  Lower the heat if needed and do not let the onions burn.

Cheese Croutons

  • 1 small baguette , cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 8 ounces shredded Gruyère cheese (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  1. Slice baguette into 3/4 inch slices
  2. Arrange the baguette slices in single layer on baking sheet and bake in a 400-degree oven until the bread is dry, crisp, about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from oven and rub garlic over top.  Sprinkle cheese over bread and return to oven for additional 5 minutes.

The Final Assembly

  • Beef Stock
  • Caramelized Onions
  • Cheese Croutons
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • Provolone Cheese, sliced

  1. Return dutch oven to stove over medium heat.
  2. Add onions, bay leaf, and beef stock to oven and bring to a simmer.
  3. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes
  4. Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. 
  5. Set individual broiler-safe crocks on baking sheet and fill each with about 1 3/4 cups soup. 
  6. Top each bowl with 1 or 2 cheese croutons (do not overlap slices) and cover with provolone cheese.
  7. Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly around edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Tomorrow, Chef Besciamella, strikes back with his cream soup. SO STAY TUNED!!!

Until tomorrow, I wish you all Peace, Love, and Hollandaise Sauce.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The great soup debate part 1

The Great Broth - Cream Soup Debates
It's really a shame, schools often completely overlook some important events in American History. For example, did you know about the Great Molasses Disaster of 1919 where 21 people were killed in Boston  by a flood of Molasses(1)?

How about that John Chapman, also known as Johnny Appleseed, didn't plant apple trees to spread apples across the country, but to build apple orchards.  These apples weren't for eating, but were for pressing cider.  Cider that was then fermented,  That's right, John Appleseed, moonshiner (2).

Finally what about the great gastronomic debate that paralyzed the kitchen of the famous "Château des Huit Chats Fous" in 1897?  It seems that the owner of the famous Park Avenue (Cleveland) restaurant, Dr. Pseudonymous Such, had a problem(3).  He had just lost his head chef in a horrible cabbage patch incident and now needed to promote one of his other chefs to that position. So he decided on a competition.

Dr. Such called his chefs to his office.  "Gentlemen, I am having supper with the mayor this evening.  You will prepare identical meals with one exception, the soup.  Chef LaVache, you will make a soup based on stock.  Chef Besciamella, you will make a cream based soup.  Dinner will be served promptly at 5."

Thus, the "Debate" began.

Tomorrow, the soups...

There is a little business to discuss:

As "Think Sideways" has developed over the last two months the purpose has evolved.  Originally I wanted to use the blog as a place to do a little writing, maybe about food, also some fiction, etc.  About a month ago the "Editor-in-chief" and I made a decision to take this daily and make it 95% food related.  Today, some changes were made to the front end of the blog to reflect that change.

The blog was also linked to our website  Right now, the site will just link you right back here, but eventually it will be our e-commerce site.  Our plan to link to as an "Amazon Associates" will not happen.  Here in North Carolina, the state wanted to start collecting sales tax on all transactions and the debate got very heated in 2009.  Looks like the issue has not been resolved, therefore we will not be going in that direction.

So what IS the purpose of the blog?  The purpose is still the same.  I'm doing this to have fun.  If this wasn't fun, I wouldn't be doing it at all.  But it is the start of what I hope will be a larger venture.  Phyllis and I want to cater more.  We do want to open a restaurant.  We do want to open an online store.  But we also realize that we need to start small.

I have been blessed to have known some wonderfully brilliant people over the past 38 years, and I will be leaning on many of you for your ideas, your entrepreneurial spirit, your intelligence, your desire, and your constructive criticism.  This has been a family affair so far, and will continue to be so.

The best piece of advice I've gotten so far has been, "Don't quit your day job."  Believe me, I'm not,  but this is where my passion is.  Join me, let's have fun!

Until tomorrow, I wish you all Peace, Love, and Hollandaise Sauce.

(3) obviously not real

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Unconventional Comfort Food

It's cold outside and there's a Winter Weather Advisory in effect. They say it will sleet tonight.

It's wet, damp, and, dreary outside because it's been drizzling all day

I'm tired and have the sniffles.

If there has ever been a night for comfort food, tonight is the night. Oh yeah, since I'm on vacation from work this week you would think I'd be relaxing. You would be wrong. I didn't get any sleep last night. Zombies. No rest. Just writing,and doctors, and teachers, and teaching. I need a break. I need some sleep. Or at least a little comfort food and then a nap.

Tonight's the night for a blanket too. I want to have something small and simple.

Thinking about comfort food gave me tonight's menu. The idea is to make it fast, make it good, and be comfortable. To "think sideways" let's try a couple of new ideas too. For our Meatloaf, lets make it in a cupcake pan.

MEMO from The
Mini-meatloaves? When I grew up, we called those "meatballs".
Please consider changing the name.

Open-faced Mini-meatloaf Sandwiches

  • 1 cups crushed saltines
  • 1 pound lean ground beef, reserve 2 ounces
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed
  • 1/2 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 dozen dinner rolls


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix Saltines, beef, egg, parsley, 1/2 of onion, garlic, celerey, 1/4 teaspoon thyme, pepper, and salt together
  3. Using a cupcake pan, press into individual portions
  4. Bake for 20 minutes
  5. In a saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  6. Saute remaining onions until translucent
  7. Add remaining ground beef and brown
  8. Remove beef and onions but do not drain
  9. Add flour to make roux
  10. Deglaze pan with red wine
  11. Mix with water until smooth
  12. Return onions and beef to pan and bring back to a boil
  13. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  14. Split dinner rolls and place meat loaves on top, cover in gravy.
Twice Baked Potato Leak Soup


  • 32 ounces chicken broth
  • 4 large russet potatoes, each about 3/4 pound each, scrubbed and dried
  • Canola oil to coat
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 leek, sliced lengthwise, cleaned
  • 8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup sour cream


  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Wash potatoes thoroughly, dry, then poke with a fork 6 to 8 holes all over the potato. (This will allow moisture to escape while it cooks.)
  3. Place in a bowl and coat lightly with oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt and place potato directly on rack in middle of oven. Place a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch any drippings.
  4. Bake until tender, about 30 minutes more. Remove potatoes from the oven, and turn the heat down to 375 degrees.
  5. While potatoes are cooking, saute leek in butter with salt and pepper.
  6. When leek becomes soft an translucent, remove from butter.
  7. Add flour to butter and stir to create roux.
  8. combine Chicken stock into roux.
  9. Add leek back into soup and keep at low simmer until potatoes are ready.
  10. When potatoes are ready, remove from oven.
  11. Hold the potato with an oven mitt, trim off the top of the potatoes to make a canoe-like shape. Reserve the tops.
  12. Carefully scoop out most of the potato into a bowl. Take care to leave enough potato in the skin so the shells stay together. Remember, this will be used as a bowl for soup. (2)
  13. Take the potato, cheddar cheese, and black pepper and add to soup.
  14. With stick blender, puree soup.
  15. Set the potato shells and lids on a baking sheet, and bake until heated through, about 5 minutes.
  16. Move shells into soup bowls. Refill bowls with soup, top with sour cream, and cover.

Cream Cheese Brownie


  • 1 (20 ounce) package fudge brownie mix (13x9 size)
  • 1/4 cup water (or what mix calls for)
  • 1/3 cup oil (or what your mix calls for)
  • 2 eggs (or what your mix calls for)
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
  2. Prepare the brownie mix according to package directions (water, oil, eggs).
  3. Pour into a greased 13x9-inch baking pan.
  4. Beat cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.
  5. Add sugar and mix. Add vanilla and egg; mix until well-blended.
  6. Place cheese mixture in dolups over the whole pan, leaving some brownie showing inbetween.
  7. Cut or swirl through batter several times with a knife or fork for a marbled effect. It can be tricky to get a good marble effect so be careful not to over work it.
  8. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool; cut into squares.(1)
Wow, I'm so warm and comfortable right now, I'm almost asleep already. I'm glad I've got kids to do the dishes tonight.

Until tomorrow folks, here's wishing you peace, love, and hollandaise sauce.


(2) picture credit

Monday, January 24, 2011

Changing a Turkey into a Butterfly (also known as Turkeymorphosis)

We had turkey for dinner last night.

"Objection! It's not the holidays! You can't have turkey unless it's Thanksgiving, or Christmas-time. The official dates for eating turkey are from the fourth Thursday in November until the end of December. It is to be cooked until it is dry, stuffed full of bread, and served with canned cranberry sauce. "

Check out around :27 seconds

Your objection is overruled. Turkey is tasty anytime of year. If you go get a sandwich, do you wait until November to get a Turkey club? No. So why wait to cook a turkey? Plus, if you have left overs, you can make that turkey club sandwich the next day. And who doesn't love a turkey club sandwich. (I think I want a turkey club sandwich now).

"Objection! Turkey is expensive! The only time it's reasonable to buy is around Thanksgiving, otherwise it's too expensive! Then you have to buy the potatoes, the sweet potatoes, the stuffing, the green beans, the cranberry sauce, and everything else. Plus you have to make so much food that your stuck eating it for days! "

Overruled. Really overruled. Phyllis and I are gourmets (I hate the term "Foodies"), but we are also cheap. So we shop frugally. We set threshold prices for food, we use coupons, we chase sales on the internet, match prices, split cases, and keep a freezer.

Threshold pricing though is the big one that we use.


Chicken 0.69 1.29
Turkey 0.69 1.29
Beef 0.99 1.99
Pork 0.99 2.99
Diet Soda 0.69 1.29

A couple of weeks ago when we found Butterball turkeys at $0.48 a pound, we bought several of them. Quality wise, I have never felt the need to go out of my way for a specific brand of turkey before. But after having these Butterball turkeys, I am beginning to wonder. They were juicy and flavorful. I don't think they were injected with any sort of soy brine, they just tasted good. We may make the point to get this brand again. But if we can find them at $0.48 a pound, we WILL get them again.

"Objection! Turkey can only be cooked one way. Dull, bland, overcooked, dried out, blah, gray, tired, uninspired, juiceless, boring, dreary, plain..."

Ugh... Objection noted... and overruled."


Cooked one way? Last week we made a Pulled Turkey BBQ. We've also made Chipotle Turkey, Turkey in Buffalo Sauce, and Deep Fried Turkey. In fact last night we made Butterflied Whiskey Turkey.

"A ha! Objection! Turkey takes to long to cook!"

Overruled. Let me present my case.

If you butterfly your bird, also know as "Spatchcocking" you can cut your cook time in half. Look, this is a great method for any foul: chicken, duck, Cornish game hen, even goose. Because it takes less time to cook, you can cook it at a lower temperature and it won't dry out.

How to Butterfly or Spatchcock a Turkey


Take your defrosted turkey (You'd have to be a lot stronger than me to do this with a frozen bird!)

Flip it breast side down and remove the tail (aka The Pope's Nose)

Save all of the odd little bits and pieces.

I put them in a kettle and boil them. The broth produced can be used later on for making gravy.

Work down one side of the backbone with a pair of poultry shears, then the other. Does it matter which one you start with? YES! If you buy a left handed turkey you must start on the right hand side, and visa-versa. No exceptions.

Remove the backbone. Add it to the stock.

Flip the bird back over and press down on the breast bone. When you hear a loud crack, the bird should lie flat. (I know it looks like I'm giving the turkey CPR... trust me, he didn't make it)

Your bird is now prepped and ready to go. At this point you have lots of different options. If you have time, I recommend you brine your turkey. Last night, I didn't have time.

Butterflied Whiskey Turkey


  • 12-14 pound turkey
  • 1 tablespoon ground sage
  • 2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon adobo powder (available in most supermarket Mexican sections)
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey


  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  • Lift the skin from the bird and rub the flesh with the sage garlic and adobo. Be sure to get the breasts, legs, and thighs.
  • Pierce skin in several locations with a sharp knife.
  • Sprinkle liberally with sea salt, paprika, and any remaining garlic powder
  • Place turkey into oven

  • Cook approximately 20 minutes per pound or until the juices run clear when pierced with a fork.

  • Remember that since the bird has been butterflied it will take less time per pound.
  • Remove from oven and allow the turkey to rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing.

We served it with freshly grated potato hash browns and peas and carrots.


Oh, don't start again.

Until next time my friends, I wish you Peace, Love, and Hollandaise Sauce!