Monday, June 28, 2010

Things To Dip in Chocolate

In the previous blog, I gave you an instant home recipe for a chocolate dip you can make without fuss or bother right at home. There are much finer recipes but they all call for professional gear and professional patience. It can take several hours to prepare certain gourmet chocolates at the exact temper and mix needed for gourmet-level tournament and competition perfection. Whether you use my home brew or a more professional chocolate dip, here are a few interesting things you can dip in chocolate. They each cool differently, but you will get best results by laying them onto a 3/4 inch thick marble tile for perfect cooling.


Hold the dried fruit by one end -- the smaller end is best -- and dip into the melted chocolate to cover 1/4 to 1/3 of the fruit, up to a maximum of 1/2 the total mass of the dried frut...except, of course, in the case of the raisins. They will be totally immersed, mixed fished out of the chocolate with a granny fork, then set out to cool on waxed paper. Many of the larger dried fruits can be skewered with a fondue stick which can be obtained just about anywhere, then cooled and served kabob-style, by merely planting the fondue sticker point-down into a large flat hard styrofoam sheet, available at any craft and hobby or most fabric shops.

Here are just a few ideas for chocolate-dipped dried fruits:



White Sweet Potato Tempura
Orange Sweet Potato Tempura
Zucchini Tempura
Lettuce Chunks
Corn on the Cob

...and best of all:

Hot Raw Peppers -- both green and red work ... the hotter, the better!!!

You'll want to refrigerate the dried fruits both before and after dipping. Best if eaten within a few days, but they will keep for quite a while if refrigerated properly. The vegetables, with the exception of the raw hot peppers, must be eaten within a few minutes of preparation.


Pretzels -- large, small, twists, straights -- they all work. My personal favorite is peanut-butter filled pretzel chunks.
Nuts of all types, whole, chopped or buttered. My favorite for dipping is the Cashew.
Chocolate Chip Cookies (should be 1/3 dipped for best effect).
Peanut Butter Cookies.
Actually, any cookie, including sauerkraut and celery flavored.
Any non-chocolate candy bar.
Any cupcake.
Any cake or baked item, such as a croissant, bear-claw or scone.
Any pie of any kind.
Ice Cream.
Pickles. Yes, pickles. Both sour and sweet work better than you'd think they will.
Cheese both hard and soft (for soft, roll into ball and dip and remove with granny fork or tongs).
Cotton Candy or any other form of straight whipped sugar.
Licorice -- red and black both work well.

Just kidding about the chapstick ... but not about the anchovies.

Marshmallow Dip Chokolade

Here's how to make an incredible Psychic Marshmallow Delite:

1. Obtain 1 large bag marshmallows of any kind. There are in fact handmade marshmallows that are entirely organic and made in the gourmet style, for about $1 to $5 per marshmallow. You can get them online from a number of independent organic gourmet marshmallow makers. This type of marshmallow must be devoured within 3 days of manufacture, and must be shipped overnight express in a thermal container along with 2 or 4 restorable ice packs.

2. Now you are ready for the chocolate dip. There are many excellent recipes for chocolate dips -- I am a gourmet chocolate chef and offer a variety of different types and origins of chocolate in my online shop, but you don't want to be spending as much time and money as I spend on making "the perfect chocolate", so here's a quickie plan:

3. Take a half dozen chocolate bars of your choice and on the top of a double-boiler, slowly bring their temperature up to about 99 degrees, stirring constantly, never allowing any of the chocolate to stick to the pan or to scorch even slightly. Want an easier method? Stick the chocolate in a microwave oven for about 15 seconds at medium heat. Not quite melted? Stir and stick it in there for another 10 seconds. Still not enough? Okay, stir and give it another 10 seconds, then stir again until the entire bowlful is melted -- but NOT hot to the touch.

4. Using any type of gripper such as the Gastromax Food Tongs, Weber Style 6441 Professional-Grade Chef's Tongs, Progressive International Stainless Steel Appetizer Tongs or a Rada Triple-Tine Cutlery Granny Fork, dip each marshmallow separately in the chocolate, then drip the excess away and place on a sheet of waxed paper. Do not attempt to use something other than waxed paper for this job. Calfalon or other types of non-stick don't work with this.

5. You can also dip other things in your melted chocolate, but keep in mind that this is merely melted chocolate, not tempered chocolate. To make real tempered chocolate takes skill and a few special pro kitchen tools. I produce a gourmet chocolate marshmallow treat with 89% single-source fair-traded organic chocolate and special gourmet marshmallows, but boy, is it costly! Try the campfire style first just to see if you like it.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

How to Bake a Cake for 500

Actress Paula Trickey cuts a cake next to Prince Albert II of Monaco (2nd R), former South African Olympic swimmer Charlene Wittstock (3rd R) and actor Jimmy Jean-Louis (4th R) during a celebration to mark the 50th anniversary of the Monte Carlo television festival in Monaco June 9, 2010.  REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (MONACO - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT ROYALS SPORT ANNIVERSARY)

Want to bake that perfect cake for 500 guests and still have energy left to attend the party? Do as I do, then:

1. Make a list of all ingredients. Multiply the recipe as necessary.
2. Obtain a largish truck to haul the ingredients to the walk-in oven. Yes, you'll need a walk-in oven for this job.
3. Find a cement-mixer that hasn't been used for the preparation of the batter and the icing, and price out the cost of rental.
4. Now that you've got those costs well in mind and you have estimated the time you'll have to spend making the cake, follow this simple plan:

Don't bake. Send out.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Fettucini Alfredo My Way

Here's the pure and simple way to make a great Fettucini Alfredo...


Grind a pound of Parmesan cheese as finely as you can, and set it aside.

Take about a pound of dry fettucini and cook it in a pot of lightly boiling water until it's just shy of chewy, meaning it's "al dente" -- as in, chewy.

Okay, while the water is coming to a boil and the fettucini is getting to the al dente point, Melt 6 or 7 tablespoons of fresh, unsalted sweet butter in a saucepan. The burner should be just on the hot side of medium, but watch that the butter doesn't scorch.

You might want to add a minced shallot or some mashed up garlic -- never both, it's either one or the other or none -- at the same time that you add about a cup of heavy cream ... you will eventually learn exactly how much to add to make it come out exactly right. Bring the whole mix to a boil, and reduce the sauce until it is just a bit thicker, about two to four minutes worth of stirring and watching, then remove the pot from the burner and set it aside.

You'll want to drain the fettucini, but not too dry -- leave it a bit wettish, and then replace it in the pot. Pour in your piping hot butter and garlic sauce from the saucepan, and add a half pound or so of the finely grated Parmesan to the fettucini, and stir it gently to melt the cheese, then add the other half pound in and stir it gently again, but only enough to thoroughly mix it in. Whatever cheese has melted is good, and unmelted cheese is also good on top of that. Serve the mixture directly onto a small salad flat-plate.

After you've served the mixture out of the stirring pot into the salad style flat dishes, only at this time will you add a bit of fresh ground pepper from a peppermill, and some garnish might be nice for appearance, which could be a sprig of parsley or some green. To me, presentation is equal to the food itself.

Now, that's all there is to a great Fetuccini Alfredo, and anybody who tells you different is selling something. The real secret is in learning, over time and with experience, exact proportions, time of cooking at each step, especially the pasta part, and the precise point at which to stop mixing and start serving. Getting the plate out there to the diner is significantly important, speed of service is the major issue. Fettucini is best served piping hot. You'll figure out the timing at some point, and then you'll see what I mean. It's all in the balance between cooking the sauce and cooking the Fettucini so they both end up on the table scalding hot.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Psychic Salad

How does a psychic salad differ from a regular salad?

It's all in what you put into it and how you mix it up. Here's what I do to make a great psychic salad:

1. Obtain the very best lettuce -- don't use iceberg ever, ever, ever. My preference here is to pick my own, out of my 5 acre food garden, which is basically organized along the lines of a Druid shrine. I have energy points and corner stones, mounds and guardians along the North-South sides. We're located on a vortex, which helps immensely, and our garden soil is topped with a few grains from Stonehenge, picked up in 1911 by Norden Grey on his trip there. I have a few grains left in a sample vial.

2. Never use just one head of lettuce. Combine types -- I prefer Romaine with a touch of butterhead, but definitely that's a matter of taste. I never, ever, ever use iceberg, the bane of all salad-lovers.

3. In a clean sink that has been purified with rock salt rubbed on the stainless steel surface, wash the lettuce thorougly -- now, listen closely -- lifting the outer leaves to get inside the lettuce mass. As you lift, you can break off the leaves, but keep them whole for the moment. Wash each leaf as you remove it from the lettuce-head mass.

4. Place the leaves in a rotary spin drier. I like several types, but the best can be had at places like William Sonoma -- those have a "stopper" and an easier spin than most. Dry thoroughly, because you're not going to want to mix water with the dressing.

5. Now carefully break the leaves into smaller pieces, but -- and this is important -- not too small. Place them in a giant mixing bowl. I use a stainless bowl for the purpose, but wood is all right if you can keep it bacterially clean.

6. Only now should you prepare your dressing, unless you are using a marinate, in which case, ignore this comment.

7. Dressing should be as simple as you can endure. Triple-virgin olive oil works for me, with just a tiny dash of lemon. If you can taste the lemon over the oil, you've added too much. No other condiment goes directly into the dressing.

8. Pour the dressing over the lettuce leaves, then mix with hands or giant bamboo forks. Never use metal spoons or implements in a metal bowl. Metal on metal is a total no-no.

9. Place the salad in an individual service bowl on an underdish, and allow the diner to add freshly ground pepper if they wish.

Sounds simple, no? Actually, getting it just right is a matter of years of solid practice.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Psychic Omelette

It's never the recipe. It's always the cook.

That's the theme of this blog. Let's see how that works with an omelette. What is an omelette, exactly? Well, an omelette is several unborn chickens whipped into a single embryonic mass, brought slowly from liquid to solid state through the application of controlled heat.

How hot? How slow or fast do you cook the omelette? That's all a matter of exactitute, and only practice will give the answers there. But...let's look at the facts. You can watch my video on how to make a great omelette somewhere on youtube but here are the basics:

1. You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. This is a well-known truth, and it goes much deeper than you think. But first, you have to catch the chicken. If you run free-range chickens at your house, you might be serving breakfast a little later than if you buy your eggs in a grocery outlet. I buy mine from a neighbor who runs free-range and grows organic.

2. Break the eggs right. Don't hit them with a fork -- that's tacky, and it gets eggshell into your omelette...not that eggshell is a bad thing; actually the calcium is good for you and you can use your eggshells to acquire calcium if you's just that eggshell has a certain "je ne se quoi" about it when added to an omelette. What I mean is, the texture is definitely affected by the crunch. So break the eggs on the side of the pan or preferably on the rim of your heavy pyrex glass egg bowl into which you spill the contents of your broken eggs. If you use a clear glass bowl, you can pick out pieces of eggshell that have gotten past your expert breakage. After some practice, about 150 eggs into it, you shouldn't get eggshell bits into the mix anymore.

3. Break three eggs at a time and spill the contents into the egg bowl.

4. Using an ordinary table fork, gently whip the eggs, lifting them into the air slightly to get some air into the mix. Do this for only as long as it takes to get a fairly uniform mix.

5. In a pre-heated PROFESSIONAL omelette pan (you'll need a mitt type cover for the handle of one of these babies and, no, you can't make do with a piece of crap consumer type pan if you want to make a truly great omelette) over a medium-hot flame, add your butter, margerine, hemp oil or whatever you prefer as a pan-greaser, or nothing whatever if you're using a non-stick pan. I like the hemp, coconut or olive oil best, but hey, it's your body.

6. When the greasy or oily stuff has melted and covers the bottom of the pan fully, slowly fold the eggs into the bottom of the pan, and roll the pan slightly to get full coverage of the bottom of the pan.

7. Let the eggs harden a bit with the heat. You'll notice a slightly more cooked appearance at the edges of the pan...depending on how the pan sits on the flame -- it should be precisely at the center of the burner to assure even heating -- you'll note that the egg will cook faster at the edges. As this occurs, fold the cooked portion into the center, and roll the pan a bit to get the soupier more liquid egg out to the edge of the pan.

8. It's at this point that you begin chanting "OM MANI PADME HUM" until the omelette has cooked to your satisfaction on the topside. Then with a deft scoop of the spatula, send the omelette into the air slightly, just enough to flip it over, and get the pan under it to catch the turned-over omelette just right. This takes a bit of practice. The omelette will always have the same look to it at the exact right turning need to observe it with your full attention to determine when that will be. There's a bubbling effect just before the turn point. Think like an alchemist to get this right.

9. When the omelette is firm, but not overcooked, and definitely NOT browned, it's time to turn it over again for a moment or two, add your internal ingredients such as cheese, yogurt, green peppers or whatever, then fold the omelette in half, slip it onto a prepared plate with all your other items already on it, add pepper or topping to taste, and serve. Now you can stop chanting "OM MANI PADME HUM". You have fulfilled your Way of Service for the moment. And that's how a psychic makes a great omelette.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

What The Heck Is A Psychic Cook, Anyway?

I've owned six restaurants in my time, and there's not a whole lot I haven't seen in my 50+ years as a pro chef. There's one thing I can tell you for's never about the food, never about the menu, never about the recipe, the ingredients, the vendors, the pots and pans, the setting or the location. It's all about the psychic state of the kitchen and table staff. Period.

I'm going to give you tons of successful ways to improve the psychic level of your kitchen, whether it's a home kitchen or a pro kitchen with dozens of chefs from patisserie to the head honcho.

I'll also be providing you with a feastful of mouth-watering psychic recipes and ways to prepare food that you never thought of and that most cooks just plain aren't aware are important, but they are.

The very first lesson is -- no unnecessary talk in the kitchen. Not ever. Not even when there's no cooking going on. Period.

What is unnecessary talk, anyway, and why is this rule so doggone important?

If you analyze what you're about to talk about in the kitchen, you'll have a lot more attention on it than if you just let loose with a stream of chatter. High attention is one major factor in improving the psychic level of your kitchen.

Chatter, which is by definition on a subject other than the immediate food problem at the moment, breaks up the waves of light that are continually descending on the kitchen. This breakup of astral waves causes a corresponding ragged edge of taste in the food, a rancidity something akin to the acrid smell and taste of adrenalin in a stockyard, no matter what type of food is being prepared.

Every ingredient you add to your dish -- even verbal chatter -- is going to change the taste, texture and tone of the dish. If you add verbal crap into the recipe, your food will taste like crap.

Once you have the chatter problem handled, we can start to actually get into some serious psychic recipes...tomorrow I'll post something you are really going to like in your lunch menu.

It's never about the food. It's always about the cook. This is Psychic Cook, saying Peace Be With You.