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January, 2011 | Manolo's Food Blog
Archive - January, 2011

Gino D’Acampo, the truly naked chef

Oh my. Oh my goodness. My, my, my, my, my.

Hunky Italian chef Gino D’Acampo is a big man, and a total hambone. When he loses a bet, he doesn’t shrivel up, he antes up. Here he goes Jamie Oliver one better by becoming a truly Naked Chef, and never mind the risks to life, limb, and little buddy.

From TheDailyWhat:

Long story short, Italian chef Gino D’Acampo made a promise to viewers of ITV’s This Morning that, should the show win a National Television Award, he would return to cook sans clothes. Well, they won, and he did.

That takes sfere, and, as you can see, Gino is a man who knows where to draw the line, who’s not as likely to run something up the flagpole and see who salutes as he is to carry his cowl where the sun don’t shine. Of the three of them on-camera (and the vast, multitudinous horde swarming around off-camera) only one person keeps his cool when the heat is on and the dial is turned up to 12. He barely cracks a smile even as his boneheaded cohosts pull boner after boner during this simple segment on preparing gammon and mushy peas.

Yes, Gino D’Acampo is the obvious weiner.

First Floor, going UP!

and going down, the hatch that is.

I know, I HAD to use it and I’m sorry already, okay?

Anyway, this is just a quickie cocktail post about my new favorite cocktail, which has actually usurped the place in my heart formerly held by my beloved Negroni.

As some of you may know, latterly my liver and I are barely on speaking terms, and I’m drinking less like a sailor than like a … I don’t know … I don’t actually have any cultural reference points for people who don’t drink like that. What can I say, I’m Irish! Anyway, I’m definitely preferring my cocktails on the lighter side lately, and this one has all the complexity and bittersweet charm of the Negroni, but without the vicious kick.

The Bon Marché cocktail was invented on a blustery night last week by my favorite bartender, Mr. Jay Jones, who’s newly installed as bar manager at Market by Jean-Georges in the Shangri-La hotel. Yes, in Canada we have our good restaurants in hotels. We just gotta be contrarian that way.

Anyway, it was invented specifically for me when I said I’d leave it up to him. “Sweet? Bitter? Creamy?” Bitter. Hey, I gotta be me. And so it was, and delicious it is, enough to make a whole blog post out of, trust me.

You make this just like a Martini, meaning you have to chill the glass, so do that first. I know you, you don’t store your glasses in the freezer, do you? Chuck some cubes into it and fill it with cold water while you putter around going “do we even HAVE orange bitters?” and it’ll be cold enough by the time the drink is mixed.

Bon Marché

  • 1.5 oz Beefeater 24
  • 0.5 oz Campari
  • 0.5 oz Giffard Abricot Du Roussillon
  • 2 dashes Fee Brothers’ West Indian Orange Bitters
  • lemon zest

Mix over ice, stir until chilled, strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with lemon zest and yes, you squeeze it over the drink before you plop it in and if you’re in the mood, wipe rim the glass with the zest as well. Since this is a hot pink stunner of a cocktail, a clear glass is essential for showing it off, but cut crystal will bring out the tones better than a classically minimalist one would. Keep the purist glass for purist Martinis, and try this gorgeous, po-mo Wood Grain Martini Glass from that very po-mo collective, Waterford.

Wood Grain Martini glass by Michael Aram for Waterford

Grilled! Cheese! Washed! Rum!

Shawn Soole by Vancouver Foodster

Shawn Soole by Vancouver Foodster

UPDATE: Golly, just look how influential we are: it got in the New York Times today!

Well, what do you know? The humble ManoloFood blog has permeated the highest reaches of the Cocktailosphere and influenced Liquid Revolutionary Shawn Soole of Clives Classic Lounge, one of the best bartenders on the fair shores of the Pacific. Yes, undoubtably in response to our epic post about the world’s poshest grilled cheese sarnies, he’s been moved to create the masterpiece of cocktail curiosity known as Grilled Cheese Washed Rum.

And we have a world exclusive on the recipe:

You start with an amber, not too aggressive rum (specifically the lovely Mount Gay) and make yourself a super cheesy, super buttery grilled cheese sandwich with whatever bread you want. Make two, because you’ll want to eat one, silly! Crumble the spare up, soak it in the rum for 4-6 hours, covered airtightly which to me means pyrex pie tins with plastic wrap secured by rubber band. Don’t use plastic; it’ll absorb all the aromas! And metal is risky; stick with glass or pyrex.

Strain the crumbly bits out of your booze and toss them. Freeze the rum so that the fat solidifies and then break it off. If you freeze it too long, just let it sit on the counter a bit till it’s softened and you can pull the fat off in a sheet. This is almost as much fun as picking a scab, and with no pain! And it’s hardly gross at all!!!

So far, so awesome.

Now put it through a coffee filter a couple of times to get the last of the cloud-making bits, and what you’ve got left is your deliciously salty, deliciously savory, artisanal grilled cheese washed rum. Sounds crazy, tastes savory. It’s unusual but it’s also very, very good.

Cheers! For more sandwich-based beverage recipes, see this roundup of sandwich-in-a-glass cocktails made for National Sandwich Day, November 3rd.

Who Knew?

Chef Boyardee isn't in the kitchen tonight

We've found the problem: Chef Boyardee isn't in the kitchen tonight

It’s your own fault for booking on a Monday, rube!

In related news, Chef Boyardee was a real chef, and he never would have gone near PG-13 crap like Zoodles!

Cheese It!

Grilled Cheese there are limits to deluxe

Grilled Cheese: there are limits to deluxe

You’d think so, wouldn’t you? You’d think that the simple Grilled Cheese Sandwich, beloved by ketchup-slinging toddlers and truffle-scented gourmets alike, could be appreciated for its own merits, without being tarted up like a four year old beauty pageant contestant, but noooooooooo.

Honestly, if you want to get fancy, make the pickle on the side an artisanal pickle and you’re good. Super-deluxe it by slicing some fresh mushrooms on top of the cheese before frying if you want, and you’ll even find that the enzymes in the mushrooms make melt-resistant cheese as soft and pliable as a wodge of velveeta in the heart of Eyjafjallajökull. Why, the low rent version made with margarine instead of butter may even contain the secret to immortality!

But that’s not enough for some people; indeed, some people never met a food they weren’t capable of enthusiastically ruining, including God’s Own Comfort Food, the glorious grilled cheese sandwich. I’d like to present (very much WITH comment) the world’s most expensive grilled cheese sandwich.

Now, it’s not the simple $50 fontina and truffle version featured on Gossip Girl.

For the Grilled Cheese Sandwich:
• 8 slices of fresh baked white bread; look for a local bakery
• 16 slices of fontina cheese
• 2 tablespoons sweet butter
• 2 oz. fresh shaved black winter truffles
• Salt and pepper

Layer 2 slices of fontina cheese between 2 slices of white bread and shave a couple of slices of truffles in the middle of each sandwich; do the same for all four sandwiches. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat and add the butter. When the butter melts, add the sandwiches and cook until the bread is nice and toasted. Remove and slice sandwiches in half and place onto four plates.

Adding a few extraneous truffles to something is, as we all know, the first resort of the unimaginative trying to make something ostentatiously and purposelessly expensive. Besides, truffles taste like toe jam that’s gone off.

There. I said it. Truffles are to mushrooms as durian is to mangosteen, which is to say, they are the version of that food that is served in HELL.

But I digress. Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. It’s a post about Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.

Right, the world’s most expensive grilled cheese sandwich, other than the $28,000 one with St. Mary of Cracker Barrel on it, is the $170 version made for the Frome Cheese Show and consisting of:

…cheddar cheese blended with white truffles, quail egg, heirloom black tomato, apple, figs, dainty mustard red frills, pea shoots, red amaranth, 100-year-old balsamic vinegar dressing and sourdough bread topped with edible gold dust.

Edible Gold Dust on a grilled cheese sandwich. Edible. Gold. Dust.

Please report on the geographic coordinates of your supreme being at this time.

Wonderful French Toast – First, buy the Challah

For this recipe I recommend an unseeded Challah.

I am a big fan of breakfasts, as is the rest of my family. I often skip it, but I love it. Lunch I can pretty much do without. Dinner is the best.

One of my favorites for breakfast is French Toast and a while back I cam across a recipe for for French Toast that I love. It is less eggy than many recipes which look like nothing more than a fried egg with bread in it. The recipe can be made with other breads but Challah (or Hallah), makes it an exceptional breakfast item, as good as virtually any you will find at a restaurant.

As an aside, Challah bread is a traditional Jewish bread generally eaten on the Sabbath and holidays. It is made generally with eggs, sugar, water and fine white flour. It is very rich and eggy which helps make it a perfect bread for this French Toast recipe which omits the egg whites. Another special ingredient makes this even better.

French Toast:

One loaf of good quality Challah

1-1/2 cups room temperature milk (2% or whole)
pinch of salt
a generous 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
0-2 tablespoons melted butter
3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons brown sugar

And, in order of awesomeness, one of the following:
One Tablespoon Pear Eau De Vie (Our present favorite is Kuchan™ Poire Williams / Bartlett Pear Eau De Vie from Old World Spirits . For the LiquorLocusts review of this product, click here.)
or
One Tablespoon Bourbon, of a kindler, gentler nature like Woodford Reserve or Makers Mark.
or
One Tablespoon vanilla.

The Pear Eau De Vie should be tried. It is great. A subtle but rich flavoring. Bourbon versus vanilla is more a matter of personal taste, but everyone should try the pear.

For the bread, preheat the oven to 280 degrees. Slice bread about 1-1/4″ thick. Put on a baking sheet and put in oven for 15 minutes, flipping bread once, half way through. Take it out and let it cool. Alternately, take your bread out of the wrapper and let it get stale for a few days. The baking works better though, but if your bread is already stale, there you are.

Mix milk, salt, cinnamon, egg yolks brown sugar and your choice of the eau de vie, bourbon or vanilla in a medium bowl. Add melted butter by preference. It is not necessary but does add a bit of richness to the flavor. If you use non-fat milk I would definitely add 2 tablespoons, one for 2% and personally I would still add one with whole milk. If you are not using Challah, which is a rich, buttery bread, I would perhaps add 3 tablespoons melted butter and definitely two,.

Pour the liquid in a 9×13 baking dish. Put slices of challah in and let soak 15-20 seconds per side (both sides) and move to another sheet to sit. Let the bread sit for 2-3 minutes before putting on griddle.

Cook the french toast on a griddle or non-stick pan until golden brown.

Serve with a simple

blueberry compote:

2 cups fresh blueberrys or 1-3/4 cups frozen Wyman’s Wild blueberries.
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon corn starch
3-4 tablespoons of Sugar in the Raw (Turbinado) or plain sugar

cook in heavy saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook approximately 10 minutes, until blueberries break down somewhat. Allow to cool to just warm.

Finally, a bit of ham, a half a grapefruit, and to kill your day,

Diamond Gin Fizzes.

Recipe is here at LiquorLocusts.

Anyway, I think you will find this an excellent and enjoyable recipe.

Tales of the Cocktail, Vancouver

Vieux Carre cocktail at Tales of the Cocktail, Vancouver by Degen Beley

Tales of the Cocktail, Vancouver by Degen Beley

They call us Hollywood North, and soon they’ll be calling us New Orleans North, as Vancouver will host the first ever Tales of the Cocktail event outside of NOLA, from March 13-15th. I guess they picked it for the swamp-like conditions that prevail in March?

At the media launch yesterday they announced the winner of the contest for the Official Cocktail of Tales of the Cocktail Vancouver, and while I don’t currently have ANY of the ingredients, I’m looking forward to trying it ASAP: The winner was the Dalhousie Cocktail by Jonathan Smolensky from Brix and George (aka “that place with the Chihuly chandelier”) and it does sound delish:

Dalhousie Cocktail Recipe

Start by taking 6-8 Canada plums, which have been dehydrated in coarse sugar, and steep them in Gibson’s 18yr Canadian whisky for 4-5 days.

Then use these ingredients:

60 ml (2 oz.) Canada plum infused 18yr Gibson’s

15 ml (1/2 oz.) Domaine de Canton liqueur

10 ml (1/3 oz.) Zwack Unicum

1-2 dashes of high quality rendition of Boker’s bitters

Lemon peel

Chill a coupe glass and a mixing/Boston glass.

In a mixing glass, add the Canada plum infused 18yr Gibson’s, the Domaine de Canton, the Zwack Unicum, and Boker’s bitters. Stir until heavy and properly diluted.

Remove the pith of the lemon peel and rub the peel on the inside edge of the coupe glass, then toss the peel.

Double strain all mixed ingredients into the coupe glass and garnish with a small Canada plum fan.

Then, presumably, put on Barrett’s Privateers, don a festive toque (our Northern fez substitute) and enjoy. Yes, this is going to take some shopping. I think I’m all out of Zwack Unicum, and it takes time to give a unicorn a quality zwacking off.

Who’s In Charge Here?

The Magic Potion

The Magic Potion

Here’s the quote of the day, from an Englishman and thus, naturally, a tea fanatic:

It is very strange, this domination of our intellect by our digestive organs. We cannot work, we cannot think, unless our stomach wills so. It dictates to us our emotions, our passions. After eggs and bacon it says, “Work!” After beefsteak and porter, it says, “Sleep!” After a cup of tea (two spoonfuls for each cup, and don’t let it stand for more than three minutes), it says to the brain, “Now rise, and show your strength. Be eloquent, and deep, and tender; see, with a clear eye, into Nature, and into life: spread your white wings of quivering thought, and soar, a god-like spirit, over the whirling world beneath you, up through long lanes of flaming stars to the gates of eternity! ”

Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat

via ItWasNow

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