Sunday, May 24, 2009

Waterboarding for dogs?

Did you ever wish you could just put your dirty dog in the washing machine after he rolled around in the dead bird carcass you discovered in the backyard? Well apparently now you can. It's not exactly a washing machine but starting at $21 the Dog-o-matic will have your pooch from foul to fresh in less than 30 minutes. The Dog-o-matic vending machines are quite successful in France and inventor Romain Jarry hopes to bring them to Britain.

Using the Dog-o-matic is simple. Even mutants and small children can operate it. First select your wash-cycle and size. It is about $20 for small dogs, $35 for medium and $49 for the largest customers. Inventor Romain Jarry also notes that cats can be catered to, for the small dog price. Good luck doing that without getting your eyeballs scratched out.
Place the pooch inside. Close the chamber and push the start button. Mr Jarry said: 'It doesn't take long to wash the dog - usually a few minutes. The longest part is the drying. The dogs don't seem to get bored. They just sit there and they come out clean." Yeah right.

A soggy pooch gets the wash cycle. Does he look like he's having a good time?

Source: Wired

Saturday, May 16, 2009

May is also National Hamburger Month!

hamburgerSo in addition to being Bike Month, May is also National Hamburger Month! This 2009 marks the 17th anniversary for National Hamburger month. This is the month where America celebrates its favorite food!

National Hamburger month was created by White Castle, the inventor of the fast food burger. Originally only a week long, it has grown into a month-long celebration. In celebration of National Hamburger month, White Castle is inviting you to submit your ultimate crave story for the chance to be inducted into the Cravers Hall of Fame. You can be just like Harold and Kumar! Or the Smithereens!Enter at

Some fun hamburger facts:
  • According to an article in the NY Times, Louis' Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut is credited with serving the first American-style hamburgers when he placed a ground beef pattie between two pieces of white toast for a busy worker in 1900. Other sources claim Fletcher "Old Dave" Davis from Athens, Texas invented the hamburger in 1904 where he served his patties on thick toast topped with a thick slice of raw onion at the St. Louis World's Fair.
  • Americans will eat on average 100 hamburgers a year.
  • Only 8% of diners prefer there hamburgers plain without cheese.
  • Burgers account for 40% of the sandwiches sold.
  • 65% of all hamburger or cheeseburgers are consumed away from home.

Since it is National Hamburger Month and Memorial Day weekend is coming up; fire up the grill! Invite some friends over and have a hamburger cook-out!

***Steeefffffens! Sliders
makes 8

This is my friend Richie's recipe. These are a favorite at the beach house!

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef (80/20 preferably)
1 1/2 TBSP. salt
1 TBSP. ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced

8 lettuce leaves
8 tomato slices
2 large yellow onions
8 pieces of bacon, cooked
bleu cheese crumbles
bleu cheese dressing
8 Hawaiian mini rolls

1. Slice onions 1/4 inch thick. Cook over medium-low heat with butter until caramelized and brown, about 25-30 minutes.
2. Combine ground beef, salt, pepper, onions and garlic. Mix lightly with hands until just combined. Form 8 patties about 3/4"-1" thick. Grill uncovered, about 13-15 minutes.
3. About 3 minutes before burger patties are done, place rolls cut side down on grill, until warm and toasty.
4. To assemble burgers, line each bottom of roll with lettuce, tomato slice, hamburger pattie, bleu cheese crumbles, bacon and caramelized onions. Spread bleu cheese dressing on top half and close the sandwich.

Friday, May 15, 2009

May is Bike Month

Ok so I am a little late but there are still two weeks left! May is Bike Month. Check out League of American Cyclists for more details about how to promote Bike Month in your community!

Also check out the Secretary of the Department of Transportation's blog regarding bicycling.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Gardening with Lead=No Bueno

From the White House to community gardens, no one can deny the increasing popularity of growing your own fruits and vegetables. I, myself, have grown a pathetic herb garden in my kitchen window.

However lead contaminants in the soil and water may make your backyard vegetables and herbs inedible! Prolong exposure to lead can cause brain and nervous system, lower IQ, and stunted growth in children. In adults it can lead to cognitive decline, hypertesion, nerve disorders, muscle pain and reproductive disorders. No bueno.

Lead in soil can be caused by a number of factors many of which were used long ago, now banned but still leaving a footprint. Things like lead paint, leaded gasoline, lead plumbing and lead arsenate pesticides are among some of the culprits from years ago that are still linger in the environment. Soil near buildings made before 1978 (when lead-based paint was banned) is likely to contain high levels of lead.

Before planting your garden, consider getting your soil tested. You can ask your local health department where you can get this done. If you have lead-ladened soil, you can still garden. You will just need to alkanize it with some lime or lay some compost. The White House is using a mix of lime and compost to add to the soil for the vegetable garden. Also recommended is planting leafy greens specifically Indian mustard or spinach. By growing spinach for six months, it lowered the lead content by 200 parts per million. But don't eat the spinach. It's toxic!

Of course you can always grow your garden in raised tubs or planters. Either way you choose to grow your garden, its a great choice for your health and pocketbook.

Source: NY Times

Monday, May 11, 2009

I want Pizza!

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Pizza Song
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

Sorry I just had to include that! Anyways, I made pizza for dinner last night. I made my own pizza dough at home for the first time. I've made pizza dough plenty of times (every work shift at MM) but never at home. I couldn't remember the recipe from work so I adapted the recipe from my Culinary 1 class. Chef B's recipe called for fresh yeast which is very difficult to find for home use. I substituted dry active yeast but I wasn't sure how much to use. I did some rough estimates and I came out with a nice dough. I still would like to tweak the recipe because I love the pizza dough at MM!

On the left: pepperoni, jalapeno, pineapple, onions
On the right: salami, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions

TBC's Homemade Pizza Dough
makes 2 12-inch pizzas

14 oz. all-purpose flour or bread flour
1 packet of Fleishmann's Active Dry Yeast
1 TBSP sugar
2 TSP salt
1 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
8 oz warm water (110˚F-120˚F)
corn meal or flour for dusting

In a stand mixer, with the dough hook attachment, place flour in bowl. On one side put sugar and yeast. On opposite side, place salt. Add water and oil. Mix for 10-13 minutes. Dough should form a ball on the hook and feel smooth and slightly tacky to touch. Add more flour if dough is too sticky and doesn't form a ball.

Form dough into ball and place in a sprayed bowl and cover it. Put somewhere warm. When dough has doubled in size, portion dough. For a half sheet pan, like in the picture, I do 1 pound. For individual pizzas, I make them 4 oz. each. After portion-ing your dough, form it into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Again place it somewhere warm. When dough has doubled again, it is now time to roll it. Sprinkle the corn meal or flour on your work surface. Using a rolling pin (I actually used a wine bottle), roll out dough 1/4 inch thick. Place the rolled pizza dough on a pizza pan or baking sheet lightly dusted with corn meal or flour. Put the sauce and your toppings on and bake in a 500˚F oven. The size of your pizza will determine cooking. The pizzas I cooked in the pictures took 17 minutes. Individual pizzas will probably take about 7-10 minutes. Then enjoy!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Bacon in a Tube. Quite possibly the world's most perfect food?

Brought to you by the Swedes, quite possibly the world's most perfect food: Squeezable Bacon in a tube. How do you say? Well shortly after WWII, a Swedish restaurant worker came up with a new way to process bacon. He found that by pre-cooking it and blending it a certain way, he could make into a fully cooked bacon paste that can be squeezed onto anything! Due to the patented electro-mechanicial process, Squeez Bacon requires no extra additives or preservatives. With a 12-year shelve life , no refrigeration necessary, and made from 100% USA pigs, Squeez Bacon may be the world's most perfect food. One serving is equivilant to 4 slices of bacon! Each tube contains 64 slices of bacon. Squeez Bacon can be eaten warm or cold. Squeeze it onto a sandwich, pizza, soups, pastas, anything edible! Rumor has it the members of ABBA met while eating Squeez Bacon sandwiches. IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad never travels without it. Luckily for you it is now available in the United States! You can buy it for $8 at Think about adding Squeez Bacon to your camping kit or your emergency earthquake kit. A couple of tubes of Squeez Bacon during a "state of emergency" and you will forget about the hurricane/earthquake/tornado that tore up your house.


Friday, May 8, 2009

Top Chef Judge Hit by Car while Bicycling

Top Chef Judge Toby Young was hit by a car while riding his bike through central London. He was riding his bicycle home around 12:30 AM Tuesday April 28(with his head and tail lights on, mind you) when a parked car pulled out in front on him and knocked him off his bike. The restaurant critic required a trip to the hospital where he was treated for his head injuries. Luckily there was no head trauma or brain injury, just only stitches. Mr. Young noted that had he worn a helmet, he probably would be walking away from the accident unscathed. As for the driver/idiot? He left as the paramedics and police arrived on the scene and gave Toby a false name and phone number. Absolutely disgusting.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Pear-ish the thought....

I must be in a competitive mood lately because I entered the USA Pears Student Culinary Competition. Culinary students must submit a recipe using pears along with a picture. It can be an appetizer, entree, salad, dessert, cocktail....whatever as long as it uses pears! Entries are judged on use of pears, originality, taste, texture, and appearance. First prize is $2500!

I created a dessert entry. I wanted to create a dessert with a simple presentation. I also love different textures in desserts so I created a trifle. After several batches of creme brulee and numerous tastings between myself, my roommate and Jack, I settled upon a trifle made of poached pears, raspberry compote, cinnamon spiced creme brulee, Poire William-soaked Financier cake, and candied pecans. (Hopefully that's not too many components! But I feel these are ingredients that are in your typical pastry kitchen). The top layer of creme brulee would be caramelized so you would have to crack the top to reach all the goodness down below. I added the raspberry compote because I felt the dessert lacked in tart flavor and to add color because with just the pears, cake, creme brulee and candied pecans, it was just brown with cream and more brown.

The contest required us to submit a photo so I had my friend Jack Coleman who is an awesome photographer help me out. We tried a couple of different set ups with various props and backgrounds. I think the striped background came out best. Hopefully the judges will like my dessert!

Top Burnt Chef, A Pear-fect Trifle
makes 4 individual trifles

Poached Pears:
2 firm Bartlett pears, peeled
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
½ vanilla bean
1 strip lemon zest (no white pith)
1 TBSP Poire William

Combine sugar, water, lemon zest and vanilla in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add pears and additional water if needed to submerge. Reduce heat, cover with parchment lid and simmer until pears are tender. Chill pears and liquid separately. Return pears to liquid, add Poire William and store.

Financier cake:
Cake Flour 65 g
Confectioner’s Sugar 185 g
Almond Flour 65 g
Egg whites 125 g
Browned butter 125 g

Combine cake flour, sugar, and almond flour. Whisk to combine. Stir in brown butter making sure there are no dry patches. Whip egg white to soft peaks. Stir in half egg whites until combined and batter is loosened up a bit. Fold in remaining egg whites. Spoon mixture into sprayed and parchment lined round cake pan. Bake at 340˚ until firm. Remove and cool on a wire rack.

Cinnamon-Spiced Crème Brulee
5 large yolks
12 oz cream
2 oz sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
2 cloves

Heat cream with cinnamon and cloves in a saucepan. After cream comes to a simmer, add sugar to yolks in a large bowl. Temper cream mixture into yolks. Transfer back to saucepan. Whisk over low heat until mixture starts to curdle. Remove cinnamon sticks and cloves. Buerre mix until smooth. Transfer to shallow container and refrigerate until cool.

Candied Pecans:
¼ cup Simple Syrup from poached pears
4 oz whole pecans

Combine in bowl. Place on silpat lined baking sheet and bake in oven until toasted. Cool.

Raspberry Coulis

Raspberries 7 oz
Sugar, granulated 3.5 oz
Water 1.33 oz
Lemon Juice .5 oz

Puree fruit in blender and pass through fine chinois. Warm in sauce pan.
Mix sugar and water and boil until 225˚. Add to fruit and bring to a boil. Simmer until thickened, should coat back of a spoon.

Strain and mix in lemon juice.

To assemble the trifle

Mix ¼ cup simple syrup from poached pears with 2 TBSP Poire William. Break up financier cake and soak with Poire William syrup. Place crème brulee and raspberry coulis in piping bags. Chop the candied pecans. Dice poached pears.

Lay a few small pieces of pear in the bottom of a small shot trifle glass. Cover with raspberry coulis. Pipe layer of crème brulee followed by a layer of financier cake and then the pecans. Top with pears, coulis and end with the crème. Sprinkle 1 TBSP sugar on top and caramelize with propane torch.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

If it's good enough for the dog....

Do you think you can tell the difference between pate and dog food? Apparently most Americans can't tell the difference. In a study done by the American Association of Wine Economists, blind taste testers were given five samples. Only 3 of the 18 tasters were able to correctly identify the dog food. The five samples were selected from a wide price range but were processed to be similar in texture. Duck liver mousse, pork liver pate, Spam, liverwurst and Newman's Own Dog Food were the samples given to the tasters. Two of the tasters identified the duck liver mousse as dog food. Four people thought it was the Spam. At least 72% of the tasters agreed the dog food tasted the worst.

Source: LA Times

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