Category: Swill Food and Grog

Oh, SNAP

Pound and a half of Hershey’s Special dark, here I COME!

Compound in cocoa found to reverse age-related memory loss

In case anyone needed another reason to love chocolate, a new study suggests that a natural compound found in cocoa, tea and some vegetables can reverse age-related memory loss.

The findings suggest that the compound increases connectivity and, subsequently, blood flow in a region of the brain critical to memory, the researchers said.

The study — published online Sunday in Nature Neuroscience and partly financed by a chocolate company — found that flavanols reverse mild memory loss in older adults. Using brain scans and memory tests, the latest study built on previous work showing that flavanols extracted from cocoa beans had improved neuronal connections in mice’s dentate gyrus, a part of the brain involved in memory formation.

Ignore the bit about “gorging backfiring”. I think they’re exaggerating.

Oh Rats

via Maggie’s Farm I guess I’ll never be Top 10% in anything

Do you drink a glass of wine with dinner every night? That puts you in the top 30 percent of American adults in terms of per-capita alcohol consumption. If you drink two glasses, that would put you in the top 20 percent.

But in order to break into the top 10 percent of American drinkers, you would need to drink more than two bottles of wine with every dinner. And you’d still be below-average among those top 10 percenters.

The top 10 percent of American drinkers – 24 million adults over age 18 – consume, on average, 74 alcoholic drinks per week. That works out to a little more than four-and-a-half 750 ml bottles of Jack Daniels, 18 bottles of wine, or three 24-can cases of beer. In one week.

Or, if you prefer, 10 drinks per day.

Mind you, I could give that a shot on any given day.

But not per day.

This Weekend At The Belford Brewery

They had some nice fresh new beers on tap:

This is the first pint of their “Leonardville Lager”

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Lightly carbonated and very full-bodied for a lager. Tasty.

And for you Oktober Festers they have a “Munchen Dark”

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Nice and caramel/chocolaty.

I really like having a brewer in town where you can just hang out with the guys making the beer and shoot the breeze.

WHY People Love the South

Even the chains do things diff’nt.

Yeah, BUDDY.

The Saddest, Most Depressing Video Ever Made

(damage at a winery in Napa after yesterday’s earthquake)

Filets On The Deck

Daughter requested (well, demanded, really) some filets for dinner last night, so to keep the kitchen nice and cool I took the cast iron outside

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turned out pretty nom-nom

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got a nice sear on them and along with my Bride’s creamed spinach, well, life was pretty good last night at Casa Bingley.

Happy Fourth

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What better way to celebrate than with Australian wine?

Focaccia You!

Since Carbs are now almost as Evul as Booooooooooooooosh I decided last weekend that I needed to keep baking. And what better than some focaccia?

Rise, my torpid yeasty friends! Awaken from your slumber to a world of sugary oiled bliss!

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Looks doubled to me, Boss! Burst forth that alcohol-laced carbon dioxide spew of yours that I love so well!

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Punched down, spread out onto a pan covered with even more Extra Virgin goodness, sprinkled with fresh rosemary and salt…

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Nomnom.

The leftovers froze quite well for later consumability, I might add.

Those Saturday PBS Cooking Shows STILL Have the Power

…to influence our dinner plans after all these years. We were watching the newest show Lidia has on our poor local station and WHAMMO.

No question what we were doing for dinner (Of course, she used swordfish ~ we’ve had this grouper in a block of ice in the freezer since…well…let’s just say pour water over all the fresh fish you want to freeze. Little fishie blocks of ice. Holds indefinitely.)

Oh, hot DAWG. Was it dee-vine.

And ONE pan.

Pizzas The Second

Ok, so we just polished off the second batch for dinner, using half of the dough I made this morning (which was 50% whole wheat, ‘cos I’m like totally a nature kinda guy) I also bumped the temp up to 525º per OregonGuy’s suggestion in the previous post)

The first was a pesto/mozz/artichoke heart/sundried ‘mater pie

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I used too much pesto so it was a leetle greasy but it was exceedingly yum. The piquancy of the art hearts and the sundrieds was a nice counter balance to the richness of the pesto and the creaminess of the mozzarella.

The second pie was ricotta and pesto

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Meh, not so successful. It was alright but bland compared to the previous.

I’ve got enough dough for two more pies tomorrow, so now all I have to do tonight is finish this next bottle of wine and wait a couple of hours for the steel to cool off enough that I can clean the excess pesto grease off of it…

Steel Yourself: Pizza

So today was the day when I made my first foray into the world of pizza making!

I had planned to start out on the simple side, using pre-made dough, but when a certain-dog-who-shall-not-be named got me up on the wrong side of 6 am this morning I figured I make a batch of dough to use tomorrow; it’s currently sitting on the dining room table pumping out the CO2

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the instructions said “cover tightly with plastic wrap for 12-18 hours” but that sucker is bulging like Vesuvius so I may have to do some venting later.

Anyhow, I went to the local Commie Store and bought some fresh dough and other needed sundries for the experimentation. I also got my few remaining hairs cut, which was rather exciting.

Upon house returning I moved the baking steel up to the second-from the top rack and got the oven going to 500º

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ah, the Baking Steel! As y’all are well aware, it’s a 1/4″ solid steel armored plate, and as I always say: “If 1/4 inch plate is good enough for the Wehrmacht than by gum it’s good enough for Bingley!”

I figured I would make my own sauce as well, and my Dear Bride found a recipe that is all simplicity: simply place in your food processor a drained can of whole ‘maters with some salt and a dash of olive oil

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Observant readers will note a black line well down the processor’s bowl. I discovered after making the sauce that the line bears the legend “max fill level for liquids.” Oops. We’ve had the processor for nearly 25 years (it was in fact a wedding present from Crusader) and I ain’t getting rid of it.

After cleaning up the very slight leakage I opened a bottle of wine that I really need to get Gregor drinking

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another in what is a very welcome trend from US winemakers of producing yummy blends at reasonable prices: this is only $10 but be warned it is a very…thick, syrupy wine that quite happily only checks in at 13.5% or so, so it doesn’t throw you for a loop too quickly. If you like a full bodied fruity wine than I say do check it out.

Following tips I had gotten of the InterWebs I had split the Commie Dough into two portions and had placed each into a lightly oiled soup container

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to come up to room temperature with the added benefit that the round container made the dough round when you dumped it out, which would help in achieving a vaguely roundish pie. I floured the counter and worked the dough over a bit and then transferred it to a lightly floured Norman Vincent

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spooned and spread out 4 tablespoons more or less of sauce and added the chunks of fresh mozz and 4-5 fresh basil leaves ripped into big pieces

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and then carefully slid it off of NV onto the steel in the exceedingly hot oven, let it cook for about 7 minutes and yum

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I was very happy for a first attempt. It wasn’t as crispy as I would have liked; I let the next one go for a touch over 8 minutes (this time with some sausage on it)

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and that was better but I still need to let it go a tad longer, and I also need to try and get the dough thinner but these are all errors/learning on my part. I have no complaints about the steel, as it does allow one to make really yummy bar pizzas at home for a fraction of what you’ll pay in a bar.

I have a feeling that by the end of tomorrow my Bride and I will be sick of pizza…

Leaning Towards A Pizza

A few weeks ago I had a yearning for pizza, so my Bride ordered one from our usual place and I went to pick it up. It was just a medium pie and perhaps a salad was ordered as well and it was nearly $25.

Insane.

That was the final straw to get me to acquire another cooking gadget. Well, gadget is not really the right term, as this is far simpler. Everyone talks about their ‘pizza stones’ and how they make great pies. But the problem is that they are somewhat fragile and break fairly easily. After reading a bit I heard talk of a pizza steel, a slab of steel that made better pizza than a stone and was pretty much indestructible. Better, because due to the thermal properties of the steel it transmitted the heat to the crust more efficiently than stone, and indestructible because, well, it’s a 1/4 inch thick solid steel plate.

The perfect, logical extension of my current cast iron obsession.

So, naturally, I ordered one.

It arrived last night and it is heavy. And steely.

And heavy.

So be prepared, for this weekend we shall be making a lot of pizzas!

In Joyous Celebration Of Pointed Teeth

Excited by article below about tasty animal goodness (which came out over the weekend) I decided that what I really needed for lunch after church on Sunday was a Jersey Burger

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Yes, that’s a half-pound burger atop some sharp Vermont cheddar (with some jalapeño slices tucked underneath), covered with pork roll and a fried egg on a nice kaiser.

And yes, it was damned yum.

Rejoice And Be Glad!

Via the WSJ comes to us this wonderful story of SCIENCE confirming every tenet of my life. In fact, it contains what is arguably the finest, most liberating sentence in the English language since “When in the course of human events…”:

Too much whole-grain oatmeal for breakfast and whole-grain pasta for dinner, with fruit snacks in between, add up to a less healthy diet than one of eggs and bacon, followed by fish.

I am weeping with joy.

Nom

NOM.

It’s Friday

That means NY Strips in the cast iron pan

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Oh look now they’re in the pan

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And the creamed spinach (made by my Bride and it’s the best in the world) is patiently waiting

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Total nom-nom nomitude.

Yep, a good Friday.

Rum Ramseys At The Bon Ton Cafe

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Damn these are good.

I Knead This

Ways empty-nesters pass the time:

Got the whole wheat bread all a-kneaded

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and now she’s rising for a couple of hours before in to Mr. Dutch Oven she goes

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and I’m off to Costco for some flank steak to stuff for dinner.

Update:

Okay, so the bread is out and cooling

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and the flank steak is pounded out and somewhat flatterer (to roughly 1/4″)

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onto which is spread a mix of parsley, mint, garlic, lemon juice, pecorino romano, toasted pine nuts and pepper

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and all of which is rather sloppily rolled, tied,

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and tossed into a 350º oven for 70 minutes or so.

Much to the dismay of a Certain Person

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there were no scraps to be had

after the a fore-mentioned 70 minutes went by out the somewhat sloppy roll came

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well, very sloppy really. I just have not figured out how to properly tie up something. Oh well.

On to the plate!

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The lemon/mint/parsley/garlic/cheese/pine nut mixture was quite tasty, and the flank steak was done pretty much on point.

Yum all around.

Ah, I Love When The Buck Fung Blows And…

…the lap yok is out on the balcony

A resident of the central Chinese city of Wuhan is either the best or worst neighbor ever — depending on your feelings around bacon.

Photos of an apartment façade, draped entirely with pork belly strips, have gone viral on social media and are now circulating on the China’s biggest news sites, such as iFeng

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It is worth noting that Chinese bacon is prepared differently than Western-style bacon. It is air-cured in sunlight, as opposed to smoked. As bizarre as it looks, this month is actually the season for hanging bacon outside, although not usually on an apartment balcony.

According to Grace Young, author of The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen, Chinese bacon must be hung outside in the winter.

“Chinese Bacon is air-dried and you must wait until the twelfth lunar month,” she writes. “Around January in our calendar, when the north wind (buck fung) is strong so that the lop yok [bacon] will have the ‘fragrance from the wind.’

“Fragrance from the wind” is Mandarin for “smells and tastes like diesel exhaust and pigeon poop” according to my translation software.

Today, Some Joyously Await The Three Kings

Me, I made do with Five Guys

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RIGHT Up Bingley’s Christmas Alley

I Did Not Know This

No wonder I particularly like the French stuff…

Champagne widows stamped grand legacy on wine

REIMS, France – For Champagne to become the tipple it is today — popped at weddings, quaffed in casinos, sprayed by racing drivers and smashed against ships — a few men had to die.

Not just any old men. Young ones married to clever young women.

Without the widows of Champagne, mankind’s most seductive fizz might well not be what it is now. One of the world’s most famous Champagnes — Veuve (“Widow”) Clicquot — explicitly evokes the rather grim tradition. But other legendary houses — Bollinger, Laurent-Perrier and Pommery — also got their starts from tragedy-tinged widows. Then there are the many lesser-known names that still carry the widow tag, such as Veuve Fourny and Veuve Doussot.

From its bottle shape to its taste, color, labeling and even marketing, Champagne owes its uniqueness to a series of widows from the early 19th century who used the sometimes mysterious deaths of their husbands to enter the male-dominated business world. The widows became so successful that dozens of Champagnes added “Veuve” to their names even though no widow ran the house — just for its mystique and marketing value.

“Champagne is the story of widows,” said Francois Godard, scion of Veuve Godard et Fils Champagne house. “Women who lost their husbands, and then outshone the men.”

Widowhood gave these figures an independent social status in France. Unlike other women — who were the property of a father or a husband — only a widow could become a CEO.

“In the 19th century … if you’re not married you’re dependent on your father, you can’t have a bank account and you can’t pay staff. If you are married you are reliant on your husbands,” explained Fabienne Moreau, Veuve Clicquot’s archivist. “Only a widow can take this position as head of a company.”

…Widow Lilly Bollinger sealed the industry’s feminist reputation in 1941, when she took the reins from her deceased husband and rapidly expanded Bollinger internationally over three decades to the prominence it enjoys.

Bollinger was known for her bubbly wit.

I drink it when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it,” she once said, “unless I’m thirsty.

I Decided To Cast Around For New Ideas

Actually, I decided to start cooking in cast iron

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A little story about that pan. It’s a 12″ Lodge pan (which, btw, gives you a hint of just how ginormous the strips from Costco are) that I got pre-seasoned a few years ago. About 3 years ago Daughter had a few friends over for an ethnic food project in High School and they decided to make churros, and as of course they needed a decent frying pan they used the cast iron. No worries, and the churros came out damn good for a batch made by a gringa, a philippina and a hindu. But I digress. Anywho, I came home from work and Daughter, bless her wonderful sweet caring heart, had cleaned up after she and her friends had cooked in the kitchen. She had wiped off the stove, cleaned off the counter, put away all the ingredients, and had PUT THE CAST IRON PAN TO SOAK IN HOT SOAPY WATER IN THE SINK.

I do love her, I really do.

But needless to say this pan has had a tough childhood as you can see by the first photo. But what the hey, I wiped it out, added a little oil and got her cranking. The new york strip I generously seasoned with salt and pepper and let come to room temperature. You may not be able to tell but she was almost 2″ thick.

Once the oil got hot enough I plopped her down and she just sizzled away. 5 minutes on one side, then flipped for another 5, and then really I flipped her again for nearly another 5. Lots of smoke produced, but oh my god, the saltypeppery crust was crispily divine.

It may well be one of the finest steaks I’ve ever cooked, and I have cooked a lot of steaks.

The pan, well I stripped her a bit and she is in the oven being re-seasoned as we speak, as I reckon she is going to be getting a lot of use from now on.

John Besh’s “Cook From the Heart” Book Tour

…about stops my heart.

**swoon**

Turkey Day Practice

Diligent Gentle Readers will recall that this past January we took a wonderful trip to Brazil. You will also recall that in the midst of afore-mentioned gastronomic excess we had a wonderful lunch in Rio with some very neat and creative food, most notably a cheese/shrimp mixture inside a pumpkin

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At the time it struck me that how cool would that be back here in Gringolandia for Thanksgiving?

Well, since we have some Outlaws and Relations coming, I thought it best if I gave it a trial run this weekend.

Of course, I also decided that I’d best subject myself and my poor Bride to a trial run of wine as well, as I just simply could not inflict untested wine upon our Dear Guests

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This wine, at $28, ain’t cheap, and it had a 93 or so rating from Parker. It just didn’t do a lot for me, frankly. My Beloved Bride liked the faint smoky character it has, but to me it was rather tepid and plain. Oh well, it still contained alcohol.

Anyhoo, I bought me a few mini pumpkins, which are surprisingly hard to find post-Halloween,

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and hollowed the suckers out

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and put them in a 325º oven to roast for, oh, 25 minutes or so.

I then took my Costco brie

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and cut off the outer rind and placed it, along with some diced red bell pepper, two shakes of dehydrated onion and cracked black pepper in a double boiler (my Bride’s idea)

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and let that gently meld and merge and then I glopped it into the pumpkins, added a few pre-cooked shrimp and some more black pepper

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and then back into the oven for another 20-25 minutes of cooking while I made the saltimboca

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At this stage the first bottle gave up the ghost and I moved to the next potential Turkey Day wine

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This was another Not Cheap wine ($30) and I was again underwhelmed. Yes, it had a more pronounced butterscotch and ripe melon character than the previous wine, but dang it still to me was not worth this kind of money. Oh well, back to the drawing board.

I have to say the timing worked out pretty well, as the time it took, all of 20 minutes really, to prepare the saltimboca was just the right amount of time for the pumpkins to get all bubbly cheesey in their goodness

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and the flavor was quite tasty, especially when topped with fresh cilantro and you scraped some of the rich pumpkin flesh onto your spoon with the cheese.

As far as the wine goes, well I’ll just have to buy a few more different bottle and keep experimenting.

Dang.

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