October 17, 2005

Don't buy this

I was watching TV over the weekend and this weird shapped pan was unique enough looking to get me to back up the TiVo and watch the entire ad.

Circulon's campaign is oriented around "cook like a pro" and the implication is a) that cooking like a pro involves tossing things when you cook and b) that the shape of this pan somehow helps in this regard. I'll be the first to admit that I toss food when I cook, and that it looks neat, and is fun to do. But food doesn't cook when it's in the air so you are actually slowing things down if you are doing it constantly. "Pro"s toss pans once or twice when cooking because the last thing you need in a slammed kitchen is the food cooking slower.

If you want to learn to toss food, use any sloped sided saute pan. Put some dry beans in it, and a few more of a different type/color. Go outside and practice there. You aren't trying for height, the point of all of this is to mix the food. So watch the different colored beans and attempt to make them actually move around. Ignore the stares of your neighbors. You will also quickly find that launching the food poses little problem. The issue is catching it. The high far side of this new pan isn't going to help you here.

If you absolutely have to get a "special pan" for this, a saucier pan is much more useful. It has a higher side to "help" you launch the food. But the high sides continue all of the way around, which means you can use the pan for sauces, vegetable cooking, or just plain boiling water.

Posted by dowdy at 08:15 AM

October 16, 2005

Cooking with bacon

So, you know how you start making lots of dishes that use bacon? Coq au vin. Beef in red wine. Onion tarts. Clam Chowder. Bacon wrapped shrimp. And then you find yourself always running out of bacon, and so you start buying these enormous packages of thick sliced center-cut from your local warehouse store.

And time goes on and you keep making more dishes that use bacon. Quiche. Hamburgers. Bacon wrapped pop-tarts. And there's this never ending supply of the stuff. Every time a package is empty, there's another one in the freezer. And so you forget all about buying bacon, as if you're raising pigs on the back forty.

And then comes the day when it's time to make a dish that just cries to have bacon in it, and what's happened? That's right, you ran out of bacon.

...or maybe it's just me.

Posted by dowdy at 10:24 AM

October 10, 2005

Smoked peppers

It's headed towards fall here in California, which means that the garden is on its last legs. One thing I planted this year was a row of several kinds of hot peppers. They got lots of sunlight, and so I had a huge crop. Many more than could be eaten or even given away.

So, I decided it was time to smoke/dry the peppers in order to save them. Smoked jalapenos are called "chipotle" (although actually this is a general term, there are 6 or 7 sub-categories that go by their own specific names). Smoked habaneros don't have a specific name that I know of.

I wish I'd thought to do this before Derrick wrote his hot pepper article!

Jalapenos Raw

Habaneros Raw

I put the peppers in a single layer in a disposable half-sheet pan. The pans got in the top of my smoker, which I usually use for BBQ while the peppers are smoking. I use fairly low heat (200-225) with lots of wood.

After about 6 hours in the smoker, here's what we have.

Jalapenos Half Done

Habaneros Half Done

You need to keep going until the peppers are completly dry, or they are only going to mold/rot when you put them into jars.

12 total hours, here they are!

Jalapenos Done

Habaneros Done

Posted by dowdy at 10:19 AM