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Pimentón, or paprika, is a great spice used in a variety of dishes in a variety of countries. The word Pimentón is inherently spanish, while paprika takes its roots in Hungarian, literally meaning pepper. It is used in everything from goulashes to sausages and everything in between and it contains Vitamin C and antioxidants, although the quantities ingested would have to be pretty high to make it a good source for either.

I was recently at a boutique spice shop and had the opportunity to buy some fresh Pimentón, which inspired me to make a few dishes that utilized it. Both of these are tapas dishes based on Jose Andres’ own:


This is a simple dish of potato and chorizo sausage, deep fried and then sprinkled with paprika and served over a bed of piquillo pepper puree and olive oil. Just slice the potato on a mandolin, wrap them around the chorizo and skewer them (the skewers should be soaked in water prior to use) then drop them in canola oil to fry for a few minutes. Drop some piquillos, olive oil and Pimentón in a food processor and let it rip for a minute and plate. Not hard.


This was originally supposed to be a tapa made from mussels and potatoes, but the store had no fresh mussels and I wasn’t going to buy frozen… so I got scallops. Get some fingerling potatoes and clean them, while putting a pot of salted water on the stove to boil. Cut the potatoes into small pieces and drop them in the water to cook all the way through, shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes. In a saute pan, saute your baby scallops in a little olive oil and butter, adding some white wine at some point.

After the potatoes are cooked, serve them as shown.

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Silly McNuggets



I’m not really trying to turn this blog into a place to post other articles, however this one caught my eye. Its not difficult to see why, either:

From All McNuggets Not Created Equal.:

U.S. McNuggets not only contain more calories and fat than their British counterparts, but also chemicals not found across the Atlantic.

CNN investigated the differences after receiving a blog comment asking about them.

American McNuggets (190 calories, 12 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat for 4 pieces) contain the chemical preservative tBHQ, tertiary butylhydroquinone, a petroleum-based product. They also contain dimethylpolysiloxane, “an anti-foaming agent” also used in Silly Putty.

By contrast, British McNuggets (170 calories, 9 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat for 4 pieces) lists neither chemical among its ingredients.

“I would certainly choose the British nuggets over the American” says Ruth Winter, author of “A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives.”

McDonald’s says the differences are based on the local tastes: In the United States, McNuggets are coated and then cooked, in the United Kingdom, they are cooked and then coated. As a result, the British McNuggets absorb less oil and have less fat.

So similar chemicals, that one might contend aren’t really that necessary, to silly putty are found in the food children across America covet. Let’s call that another win for foreign foods, although no one really wins with McDonalds… While I think McDonalds can do whatever they’d like with the food they sell, its definitely not right for these kinds of companies to sell a product without giving explicit lists of what goes into them. Definitely not healthy…

Photos

Like I said, between work and the World Cup I don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to this blog, and my other two, but here are two random pictures that are pretty cool, to me at least.

I’ve been trying for a weeks to achieve the level of frothiness on my Greek coffee that I’ve seen others accomplish. This is definitely a step in the right direction.

Also, I’ve acquired a hand-cranked, burr grinder for grinding my own coffee into powder. Definitely worth it. I buy my coffee at the Coffee and Tea Exchange here in Chicago, which is a great place for spices, tea and a great variety of coffees.

I, also, have recently purchased a signed copy of Medium Raw. I’m huge Bourdain fan and I liked A Cook’s Tour and Kitchen Confidential, so this should be a good read. Plus, its signed, so that’s cool by itself.



On my morning drive to work today I passed an ad on one of the CTA bus stops that, much like the Stouffers ad, left me a little perplexed. I can’t, for the life of me, find an image of this advertisement, but it was, basically, a large poster with a blue background and yellow text that read, “The Most Fun You Can Have With the Stove On.” In a corner was a bright yellow, plastic looking macaroni noodle.

There are countless things wrong with this ad, from a marketing standpoint, but let’s focus on the food part of it. Does the Kraft corporation seriously still believe that we are living in a time where this kind of ad works? Or do they know that there are many people who will see this ad and either forget about it or, like me, go on a rant about how presumptuous it is?

Yes, if it were real cheese…

Don’t get me wrong, Kraft macaroni and cheese was a staple of almost every American kid’s diet growing up, and I have some fond memories attached to it, especially of the Spider-Man shaped macaroni (come on, all that fake cheese trapped in all of those nooks). However, this type of marketing perpetuates the idea that one can’t function in the kitchen without the aid of a large corporation. I think anyone, who would actually give it a little thought, could think of plenty of ways to have more fun in the kitchen. Here’s an idea, maybe make your own macaroni and cheese, from scratch. It would take 10 extra minutes, be more fun, more interesting and it would teach your kids about cooking.

Or, perhaps, Kraft meant the ad to be sarcastic, in which case, I completely agree.

*With the World Cup going on I will be MIA for the next couple of weeks…

Rick Steves’



Rick Steves’ travel philosophy and television show are somewhat of a double edged sword. On one hand, he has some great quotes about travel, such as,

We can travel in a way that exacerbates the problems between us and the rest of the world, or in a way that connects us with the rest of the world. I do not want to encourage and enable Americans to travel in a way that makes the problem worse, and a lot of people do travel in a way that makes the problem worse. My travelers, I think — I’d like to think — travel in a way that connects them with the rest of the world and when they come home they are changed Americans. They are more likely to understand what the family of nations is all about.”

However, on the other, he seems to lie in some grey area when it comes to the difference of being a tourist or being a traveller.

His show is informative, interesting, well shot and paced. His guides are the same, and he’s been writing them for decades.

Steves actually started out, I like to assume, as probably an ex-yippy of sorts. He opened a piano/travel shop where he sold his self-published travel guide, Europe Through Backdoor, and taught piano lessons. His travel guide sold so well that he began giving guided tours of Europe and, eventually, producing his television show for PBS. The first episode of which he gave to them for free, cool.

This man loves to travel, and he clearly hates tourism as much as I do. However, and this is personal opinion, his shows’ content sometimes crosses the very line that he drew between travel and tourism. I am in no way insinuating that he and his television program are advocating being a tourist, but they do have an air of catering more to adventure-fearing yuppies.

Its still a great show, though. All episodes are currently on Hulu for your viewing pleasure.

Mojo


MOJO HD is like the Arrested Development of TV Channels, it might not have had a huge audience, but it made up for it with having kick ass content and, in the end, it was cancelled way too soon. An entire channel devoted to drinking, eating, cooking and travelling that wasn’t successful? Had to be an advertising problem…

Here are some of the shows they offered:


Three Sheets. This show was the first one I discovered from Mojo on Hulu. I watched all three seasons (at the time, all four are now on Hulu) in the matter of a couple weeks. Its the perfect job. Why? Because, unlike a lot of travelling chefs and other tv personalities, host Zane Lamprey auditioned for the role and won it, simply put. Zane is hilarious and genuinely likes what he’s doing and actually consumes alcohol, a lot. Its right up my alley.


After Hours With Daniel. A TV show about small parties after midnight. In some of the best restaurants New York has to offer. Hosted by awesome chef/restauranteur Daniel Boulud and guest starring new chefs every episode. How can this show not be good?


Pressure Cook. This show is a bit gimmicky, following chef and Italian-American stereotype Ralph Pagano as he travels to different parts of the world and “works” his way back home in different food jobs. It gets better after the first few episodes.


Beer Nutz. As a long time homebrewer, I’m a bit hesitant to call this show “good”. Its in no way unwatchable, its just clear that this particular show was produced and hosted by people who know almost nothing about beer and it brings the show down, way down, for people who know anything more than a little bit about beer.

Tomato Sauce


Tomato sauce is another one of those classic food staples that has lost the battle to “speed and convenience”. You can buy it canned, jarred or already mixed with your favorite pasta, so why would you make it yourself? Because fresh tomatoes, slowly cooked and pureed are unflinchingly delicious, thats why.

I start out by blanching some tomatoes. These are plum tomatoes and a couple random tomatoes from a variety box I got at the farmer’s market. To blanch something bring a pot of water to a boil and prepare a bowl of ice water on the side, throw whatever it is your blanching in the pot, in this case tomatoes, for about 15-20 seconds. Pull the tomatoes out of the pot, with tongs or a spider, and immediately put them in the ice water. This will stop the tomatoes from cooking, which is good.

Next, I get the pot ready for the actual sauce. Heat the pan on low-medium and dice up some onions. When the pot is hot enough (not too hot, mind you), add some Olive Oil and then the onions with a little salt and pepper. We’re going to sweat the onions, not caramelize or saute them, so if they start to get brown, turn the heat down (I did not intend for that to rhyme, but I’m coining that phrase).

While the onions are sweating it out, turn back to your tomatoes. The skin should be really easy to peel now that we’ve blanched them, and that’s what we’re going to do next. I use a paring knife to peel mine. The trick here is to do it slowly, the slower you peel the more skin you’ll get off on one try. After I peel a tomato I poke a hole on one side (top or bottom) and give it a light squeeze in the sink, getting a few seeds and junk out. You can skip this or go further and try to get all of it out, depending on taste.

So, in go the tomatoes, some salt and pepper and some crushed red pepper. Put a lid on the pot and let it go for 10-15, still at a medium-low heat.

After 10-15, it should look like this. At this point i crush a few cloves of garlic, de-skin them and throw them in, whole. I borrowed this from José Andrés, as he would say, “it opens a window into the garlic.”
Put the lid back on and let it go for a good 30 minutes or so, this time on low heat.

After 30 minutes, take of the heat and remove the garlic, or leave a clove or two in if you’re feeling crazy. Add everything into a food processor and let it fly. It may take some time to do, but the time is spent prepping or waiting, so its not really a time waster. Besides, you can make this days in advance and save it in the fridge. Face it, you have no reason not to make this for yourself.