Sunday, March 16, 2014

The 200th Post Bonanza: Brinner of the Gods

Two hundred posts, over 25 thousand views, and about 10 lbs or so have now passed since I started this blog looking for something else to do aside from watching The Price is Right and Food Network on my sister's couch.  What began as simple vegetarian dinners has morphed in to complex baking and grilling adventures (and finally the ability to handle raw meat!). Since I now have my own kitchen to make a mess of, I thought it was only fitting to go back to my roots of destroying other people's kitchens for the big 2-0-0 (and I'm writing this while binging on Food Network for added nostalgia).

Tofu Kale Lasagna: the post that started it all. It looks like it's trying to tell me something.
Since Kevin is always game for a night of cooking, he was the perfect mark. Given our culinary natures, there was no way we were going to just make one simple thing. Oh, no. My bicentennial (Does that work when you're not talking about an anniversary? It's my blog, and I'll do what I want!) cooking adventure was going to be easily the most complex and far-reaching one yet. What would have normally been three separate posts will be combined into one massive blowout to commemorate this historic self-indulgent occasion.

The most important and fancy meal of all, brinner, served as the backdrop for our night of excess. Over five hours of cooking and dozens of judging looks from our friend Charlotte (we're not used to having people around to witness how ridiculous we get during our escapades) culminated in Southwestern Omelette "Sushi", Biscuit Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict, Chicken & Waffles, Mojitos and Mimosas.

Southwestern Omelette "Sushi"

The best part about cooking at Kevin's- his fancy camera comes along for the ride. Somehow, this looked surprisingly like sushi. 
Inspired by Serious Eats
Servings: 9 pieces
Time: A lot longer than you'd think but totally worth it

Why stop there when you can wrap it in bacon?
12+ pieces of bacon
3 eggs scrambled with a tiny bit of milk
Olive oil
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 sweet onion, chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Cheddar Cheese
1 package frozen hash browns
1 package Jimmy Dean ground sausage

The stages of a bacon roll. Note: we had to reduce the amount of filling to half as we were unable to force it shut initially.
So much tasty filling
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 F.
  2. Make a bacon weave (pictured above). Bake on a cookie sheet with aluminum foil in the oven until almost crispy but not quite done.
  3. While the bacon is cooking, cook your scrambled eggs. Set aside.
  4. Sautée the bell pepper, onion, jalapeno and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until the onions become soft and translucent (about 7-10 minutes). Set aside.
  5. Cook the hash browns in a little olive oil until browned and cooked through.
  6. Remove the bacon from the oven and dispose of the aluminum foil to get rid of the grease.
  7. Layer your roll as so: a full layer of cheddar, topped with half layers (or you won't be able to roll it shut) of hash browns, scrambled eggs, veggies, sausage and finally more cheese. Close your roll.
  8. Broil in the oven until slightly crispy (about 3-5 minutes).
  9. Cut into tiny rolls while trying not to burn yourself on the bacon grease.
  10. Serve with salsa, cilantro and mojitos.
Don't forget the salsa for added spice and juiciness to balance the crispy bacon.
Originally we wanted an entire evening of brinner "sushi", but, as you will see from the other posts, that didn't work out. Our sole faux sushi entry, however, just may have been the best dish of the evening. Everything I love about omelets managed to shine through and even stand up to the world's most amazing invention- the bacon weave. It's a good thing that this was round 1 because we still had enough room in our stomachs to completely finish the roll. Just thinking about that crispy bacon surrounding gooey cheese, spicy eggs and sausage is making my mouth water. And to think, I originally told Kevin the sausage was going to be too much.

From Kevin's Mind

Juice of half a lime
Lime wedge
8-10 mint leaves
1 tsp sugar
1-2 shots of clear rum
Club soda to dilution
Muddled is a word that isn't used nearly enough.
  1. Squeeze the lime juice into a glass. Add mint leaves and sugar. Muddle.
  2. Mix in the rum and club soda to proper strength. 
  3. Garnish with a lime wedge and serve.
Kevin has been perfecting his mojitos for two years now in an effort to permanently carve out a spot in my Cuban heart, and they really do just keep getting better and better. The sweetness combined with the lime and mint provides one of the most refreshing adult beverages around.

Biscuit Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict

This was after about 20 tweaks to the dish. We may have allowed it to cool...

Adapted from All Recipes and Food Network
Servings: 12 biscuits then just however many eggs you are willing to poach
Time: 45 minutes

Artistic chopping
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp white sugar
1/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup orange juice
Cucumber, sliced thinly
Smoked salmon
Poached Eggs
Asparagus, chopped
Green onions, thinly sliced

3 large egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
Pinch cayenne Pepper
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Sriracha to taste
Deceptively simple yet delicious
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
  3. Cut in the shortening until it looks like coarse meal.
  4. Slowly stir in the milk and orange juice until the dough comes together. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour until it is workable.
  5. Knead the dough ~ 15-20 times and roll out into a rectangle.  Cut the biscuits as desired.
  6. Bake for 13-15 minutes on a baking sheet. Brush with melted butter about halfway through.
  7. Sautée the asparagus in olive oil until they become a more colorful green and soften.
  8. When the biscuits have cooled, hollow out the inside (but leave the bottom alone) so that it can fit your cucumber slice. 
  9. Make your hollandaise by mixing the egg yolks, lemon juice, cayenne, salt and sriracha together in a blender until well combined. Then gradually pour in the melted butter while running the blender to make the sauce frothy. 
  10. Top your biscuit/cucumber combo with smoked salmon, a poached egg, asparagus, scallions, a pinch of cayenne and a drizzle of Hollandaise sauce. Enjoy with a mimosa.
Damn you, drooping asparagus! This would've been a perfect picture showcasing the complex inner machinations of the biscuit eggs benedict.
Of our final two courses, this was the one that came the closest to our initial "sushi" dreams. The biscuit initially seemed a little too dense and simple, but it actually worked beautifully (and was amazing on its buttery own). All the layers played together nicely, as the cucumber added a freshness and crispness to the smokey smooth salmon and creamy, decadent poached egg. Meanwhile the ridiculously easy blender Hollandaise provided a hearty sriracha kick and further buttery goodness that was complimented by the texture and color providing asparagus and scallions. There was only one downfall of this dish. Kevin and I spent so much time working on making it pretty and taking pictures that it had time to cool down. Just make sure you eat it as soon as the poached egg is done, and you'll be set.

Charlotte's Super Secret Mimosa Family Recipe

Orange Juice

  1. Look at Terry funny because he asked you to make mimosas when you brought beer.
  2. Pour the champagne into a glass with orange juice in a 2:1 or so ratio (on the alcoholic side).
  3. Drink.
Charlotte had two jobs aside from showering us with compliments about our cooking. She was the chief structural engineer checking Kevin's bacon weave (see above), and she was in charge of making mimosas to help our evening achieve maximum fancitude. Somehow she managed to overcome the extreme pressures of both of these important duties and provided us with wonderful mimosas (and found like 20 mistakes in Kevin's weaving). As such, she will be able to continue eating our food and judging us in the future.
Chicken and Waffles

Be careful not to get too drawn in by the delicious looking waffles. Paul Deen will swallow your soul!
Adapted from All Recipes and our usual Beer Batter
Servings: Far more than you can eat after the rest of Brinner of the Gods (or like 6 normal)
Time: 30 minutes

After 10 months, I returned Kevin's waffle iron.
3 eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
Creepy looking Paula Deen Sauce

1 cup flour
10-12 oz beer (we used Newcastle Cabbie Black Ale)
Black Pepper
Cajun Seasoning
Chicken breast, cut into nuggets
Peanut oil for frying

After all the previous food, we needed something fried.
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 F.
  2. Mix the waffle batter together by whisking the eggs, sugar, melted butter, flour and baking powder together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. Heat the peanut oil to 370 F. Make sure you leave extra room in your pan to avoid hot oil splashing.
  4. Mix the beer batter together for the fried chicken by whisking the flour, beer, Sriracha, black pepper, cayenne, salt and cajun seasoning together in a large bowl.
  5. Dredge your chicken in the beer batter (be careful not to mix up the two batters) and fry for about 5 minutes in the peanut oil. Remove with a slotted spatula and let some of the excess grease come off a plate covered in paper towels. Transfer to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven until the waffles are done.
  6. Make the waffles in a waffle iron at a high but not quite the highest setting. Spray the iron first to prevent sticking then add your batter and spread it out as thinly as you can (but be warned it is a thick batter). Cook for about 2-3 minutes each until the bottom becomes crisp and the top begins to firm.
  7. Cut the waffles into strips and serve with the chicken, sriracha, syrup, creepy Paula Deen sauce (we used chipotle raspberry) and mimosas or mojitos.
I'm sad we couldn't get an action shot of syrup splashing everywhere like in a Chili's ad.
This wasn't my first foray into the exciting world of chicken and waffles (see here), but it was by far my most successful. The waffles were actually from a pizzelle recipe, meaning they were heavy on the sugar and butter. That combo actually worked amazingly well on its own, but it was especially fantastic with the contrasting savory and spicy beer battered chicken. Speaking of our fried poultry, our frequently used batter again provided just the right flavors and kick of spice, but it was just a tad too airy, proving it is best for its normally intended tempura or onion rings. Combine that with rich syrup and a little sriracha, and you have the best dipping combo this side of chips and guac. Unfortunately, this was the final course, so it was woefully neglected due to all of us having contracted food babies.

After all this time, this is still an accurate description of how I feel about cooking and this blog. Seen originally in my early Kimchi Fried Rice.
I could not have thought of a better way to celebrate my 200th post than this night which truly epitomized my view of cooking shenanigans. Don't worry faithful readers (and by that, I of course mean my mother), I won't rest on my laurels and past semi-success. Stay tuned for post 1 of my next 200- Dr. Pepper Braised Brisket Tacos.

The future is looking bright.

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