Monday, April 28, 2008

Awake Forever

It seems fitting that one year in, Tamalehawk would hit a self-proclaimed apex; that an inspired alignment of hidden heavyweights would live together in harmony and realize the pallid potential of the pre-made pizza palate. No amount of rabid recipe research could reveal this bliss, pages pondered and printed, shingled single sheets taped and draped in disarray.

Chicken and brie pizza with spinach, shallots, and grapes: Start by cooking your chopped chicken in a slick pat of your favorite fat (he chose bacon, because bacon is always invited to the party). Take the chicken out when it is nearly done, then slide in your sliced shallots and toss until caramelized. Roll out your pizza dough and lace it with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Top the dough with the chicken and shallots, then strategically spread the brie around. Add some chopped spinach and sliced red grapes. Throw it in the oven and cook until the dough is golden. Marvel at how the salty and sweet balance hinges on perfection, a graceful trapeze act in the traveling culinary circus that is your life.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Year One

The records show that one year ago today Tamalehawk got tangled in the internet, shimmying his torso through a tiny hole in the tangled web of information, and, from a collection of binary twigs and data dander, made a comfortable place to call his own. The time since then has been wrought with adventure, rife with recalcitrant bloviating, and replete with recherche reactions. As he dips and dives through the perilous clime of the culinary eatscape, he looks forward to the future food that will prove to soothe his endless hunger.

Curry Cauliflower Emergensoup: Roast your chopped on cauliflower on a baking sheet with some salt, pepper, and olive oil, mere moments before the void beckons it forth. When they are an appealing shade of brown around the edges, toss them into your soup pan over medium and add curry powder, probably any other Indian spices you like, and chicken stock. Then, you know the drill, lock and load your immersion blender and pulverize until smooth. Add some cream and butter and serve. Think about the year of eating ahead and get dizzy with hunger. Yes, Tamalehawk gets future hungry even while he's eating. It's sad, really.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

No Opprobrium

Asparagus Spinach Emergensoup: Quickly survey the roiling sea of neglected greenery in your crisper. Unsheathe the stiff stalks of asphyxiated asparagus and assess their soup suitability. Snap off the tough ends and chop into small pieces. Toss them into your pot, where you have chopped onion and garlic sweating in a shimmering sheen of beautiful bacon fat, or olive oil if you're afraid of reaching for your dreams. Season and saute the asparagus until they get a little golden and feel less ashamed of being forgotten. Toss in your spinach leaves, and while they're wilting turn your face and smile towards the shining sun because you are halfway there. Add some chicken stock and bring the heat back up to simmer. Blast to a smooth puree with your immersion blender, spraying green flecks all over your nape and wingbars, or add carefully in batches to a blender and do everything in your power not to get a boiling hot steam burn on your face. Add a stream of heavy cream and a pat of butter, stir and serve, or stirve.

Review: O'Shaugnessy's on Wilson. Based on one visit, the new Irish pub posted up some very good hand-cut fries, and an OK bangers sandwich that was served sans the sauce. The much-hyped mustard sauce will have to be experienced some other time. Anyway, everything tasted better thanks to the mid-day Sam Adams Summertime beer, because beer in the afternoon has a way of making everything feel right in the world. Best part: It is a mere divebomb from Tamalehawk's worknest.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Feeling Alive

Secret Peach Caramel dessert: Tamalehawk saw Jacques Pepin do this on TV. Open a can of peaches in heavy syrup. Generally anything in "heavy syrup" is a cause for at least caution, maybe skeptical inspection, but in this case the heavy syrup is key. If those peaches are sitting in pear juice, then keep walking. Tamalehawk is looking at you, Whole Foods. Pour that heavy syrup into a sauce pan on medium-high heat and start stirring it with a curious type of indifference. You're interested, but not so invested in the outcome that you're going to slam down your whisk in anger if something goes wrong.

Then, think back to the last time you made caramel as an eleven-year-old hawk, just learning to devour the world on your own terms, dropping a metal spoon into the molten mix and instinctively dipping a wingtip in to retrieve it, and learning in a lighting bolt of searing agony that sugar heats to a much more terrifying temperature than you'd ever imagined up to that point, and that you never thought something so delicious could hurt you so bad. Remember how the metal spoon had welded itself to your wounded wing, creating a crater of crystallized caramel, and how you had to snap it off in a defiant crack that would create a scar you would forever wear as a reminder that with everything sweet there is a bitterness that can't be whisked away. Add a dash of cream to the thickened caramel sauce and toss in your peaches. Eat it out of the pan or pour it on ice cream, pancakes, or granola. Congratulate yourself for getting back on the caramel horse. Wonder if there's a way to make and eat a caramel horse.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

To Dream

Tamalehawk has relented, releasing a response to the swarming sheaf of seagull reporters encircling his nest. It is true: Bacon and chocolate, two of the world's most prized flavors, have formed a strange and slightly terrifying union, choosing to debut in an ersatz candy bar form. Of course, Tamalehawk is going to eat this abomination with a feeling that may be described as a violently shaken cocktail of trembling excitement, grotesque curiosity, and defeated obligation.

Strangely enough, Tamalehawk could see the connection these two dynamos might together forge. True, in daily life they ride the opposite ends of the flavor spectrum, but when mapped in a Venn Diagram, he could imagine a small overlap somewhere in the "smoky" realm. In the way that coffee roasted with tobacco can be a welcome punch in the mouth, perhaps these two could coexist in a type of begrudging harmony. Verdict: Sort of. Oily, rich, and intense, it was probably the crunchy bits of bacon that most assaulted his palatte. As much as Tamalehawk was praying for success, these two entities are best enjoyed separately. Separately as in successive bites of each on your breakfast plate, from chocolate croissant to bacon strip and back with an instinctive and unchecked zeal.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Big Grab

Too soon to declare the Breakfast Combo of the Summer (BCOTS)? You won't think so once you've combined Rice Krispies with strawberries and honey and devoured it with a feather-ruffling fervor. What? You're still not eating your cereal out of a measuring cup, the most perfect vessel of cereal consumption, so perfect that you have to believe it was designed solely for that very purpose? Tamalehawk feels an awkward sorrow for you. The handle, man. The handle.

Unpictured chicken marsala: Tamalehawk has pretty much exhausted every reference in his chicken library, fired every weapon in his chicken arsenal, all in an attempt to fall back in love with the original white meat. This time around, chicken marsala, which starts off just like chicken piccata, but the sauce consists of mushrooms, butter, chicken stock, and marsala wine. Maybe he just resents them for their flightlessness. It's petty, but possible.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Bountiful Bakescape

Just like reality TV, the chronology of the tractate has become slightly deceptive. These chocolate chip cookies had been the impetus for the previously featured white chocolate chip ones, not the encore. Anyway, Tamalehawk's baking bender has subsided for now, though he has already drafted deviant designs for the next bout of full-blown bananarchy.

Unpictured white chicken chili: Saute some chopped white onion and garlic in some bacon fat in a heavy-bottom soup pot. Add coriander, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Add your chopped up chicken, and two cans of rinsed and drained white beans. Speculate for the thousandth time on the mysterious difference between cannelini and great northern bean varieties. Conclude that it is a global conspiracy orchestrated by a malicious bean star chamber that seeks to reap its own brand of twisted legume justice at any cost. Add some chicken stock. Let it thicken, adding some flour if you want. When the chicken is cooked, turn off the burner and let it sit for a little while before eating. It tastes better after some self-reflection. Consume while guiltlessly watching America's Next Prom Queen on Oxygen because that channel has some seriously strange programming.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Drink It In

Too early to name the SCOTS (Snack Combo of the Summer)? Since there is still lingering snow in Chicago, it may seem premature. Nonetheless, Tamalehawk revels in the right to make incrementally inflammatory injunctions. On your left, you'll notice that Keebler has in fact rethought their cracker strategy by creating Flipsides, the half-pretzel half-cracker whose whole flavor summarily shames the sum of its parts.

Flipsides bring the audacity that Tamalehawk admires in a snack. Right on its own box, headers command you to dunk the hybrid in chocolate, or slather it in mustard, or top with a tiny tomato and cheese slice. Gross? Or visionary? This snack boldly tiptoes the sweet and savory line with unparalleled grace. Try it with cream cheese. Wash everything down with limeade, inarguably the greatest beverage in the universe, and you can skip dinner because it probably won't hit the spot the same way.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Going Home

Tamalehawk is in the business of throwing culinary gauntlets, casting them carelessly to the ground before soaring aloof to a nearby roof to snicker and squawk at any ensuing hullaballoos. In this case, he's going to go ahead and proclaim the white-chocolate macadamia nut cookie the best in class. Sophisticated, crunchy, velvety and toothsome, these beauties always warrant a stop to the cramped Mrs. Field's booth at the mall. It's worth navigating their complicated combo menu to roll up on a pair of these tender gems.

This batch is a remix of the original Toll House recipe. Tamalehawk tilted the sugar scales in favor of light brown to make a chewier, more flexible cookie. Apparently you are supposed to get fifty cookies from this recipe, but Tamalehawk only wound up with twenty four. Maybe it was the massive ice cream scoop he was portioning them with. Also, always do yourself a favor and heat your cookie up in the microwave for 15 seconds or so to get the full experience.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Astride Again

Inspired by the way Chef Tom Colicchio lit up that Top Chef dude during the Classics Challenge, Tamalehawk wanted to see if he could make chicken piccata. He could, pretty much, but not so well that he wouldn't face certain elimination at the Judge's Table. Slice and pound your chicken breast flat with all the fury that boring chicken deserves. One thunderous blow for each time you've suffered through an awful, desiccated chicken sandwich at a sports bar. Put the mallet down and cool off for a second. Dip your flattened chicken in flour, then a beaten egg, then flour again. The double-flour forms an extra layer of protection from the pan's advancing heat. Also, when you're done eating, it makes a little sweater for your heart!

Tenderly place your chicken into the hot oil in your pan and let it ride like Dreyfuss. Flip them over when they get very light golden - don't wait too long or the flour will break down and make your ancestors sad. Tamalehawk then took the chicken out of the pan, let it be like The Beatles, and worked on the sauce. Add some chicken broth, more butter mixed with a little more flour (or a beurre manie), and the juice of a lemon. Toss in some capers. Whisk and simmer as the sun sets and reflect on your life, deciding that it has been more of a kaleidoscope than a prism in its fractured beauty. Strain the sauce if you're shooting for sophistication. Settle your chicken back in the pan for a brief bath before plating for awaiting beaks.