Monday, December 01, 2014

KETCHUP



Maybe the most used condiment around the world and yet hardly anyone ever talks about it. Maybe because it's such an afterthought when you buy a Burger and Fries, maybe because Heinz controls 63%  of the market (Mr. Buffett bought them out for 28 Billion last year) and we never look for alternatives as we do for many other staples? Best butcher, best baker, top quality fruits and so on. 
Years ago I watched Jamie Oliver show off making his own ketchup and all I thought was, "Why bother?" That's how unimportant Ketchup is on my plate.

So you may understand my surprise when we went to Five Guys yesterday and Victoria pulls out a small, recycled Apple jiuce bottle from her bag and tells me she made her own ketchup. When? How? WHY?  All I get is a shrug these days. I knew we had home made BBQ sauce in France, but that was because we could not get Cattle Boyz brand over there. But ketchup?

I have used Heinz ketchup pretty much all my life and never really questioned it's flavor or job to enhance my food.  It's tomato sauce with few ingredients to dip the fries into. And yet, over the years I tried to find the better of most other things I ate. Or made. 

Ketchup, the last frontier in home cooking. Eliminate the not so good ingredients, enhance the flavor with your own mix of herbs, blend it all up into a smooth texture and before you know it, Heinz will have to bring an "Artisan" ketchup to market and protect their shelve space at Costco.......
Victoria's version was full of Oregano flavor, something that needs to be toned down a bit, a much stronger tomato taste which I enjoyed over Heinz and less of a shiny texture.Which may be the clincher for me, if you think about it, it has to be the additives that make Heinz' version so nice and shiny.  never thought about it before but really, it is a highly industrialized product.
The more I thought about it the more it made sense. That is why I started making my own Mayo, flavor and quality.  You never go back to Helman's  after you whipped up your own version of that condiment. Now add Ketchup to that list.


Anyway. Here is a video with that cook from London, he shows you how to make it.


IN A MARTINELLI BOTTLE

SECOND BEST FAST FOOD FRIES

TWO KETCHUPS, SIDE BY SIDE

BOTH STICK WELL TO THE FRIES








Friday, November 28, 2014

THANKSGIVING



When we came back to  America, Thanksgiving was not on my radar as a celebration at all. After all the time in France where we did not eat giant birds for a few years, I did not miss it all that much. 
But then, a good friend of ours rented a house in Palm Springs for the weekend and we decided on the spot to join forces and put up a spread. 
While I'd love to show pictures of a pretty set table and all the glorious food we ate, it's not going to happen. My trusted photographer forgot to take images of any and all food yesterday. 
So all I have to show are some shots of food in various stages of preparation and my word that including the store bought turkey the meal was one big success. Great company, great food, great weather. Maybe I am back into traditional holiday mode. Turkey feast by the pool, I like it.

Since gluten free is of biggest importance here, I searched high and low for a turkey with as few ingredients as possible, eventually ending up at a local store by the name of Bristol Farms. They assured us their birds to be not only gluten free, but also free range, hormone free and hand massaged up to their untimely death. OK, not really hand massaged.  But you can imagine the kind of company I am talking about. 

What they omitted to tell me though, was to pick up the cooked turkey in a timely manner. By the time I arrived, the line up for their prepared meals was an hour long......that amount of completely wasted time set aside, it was worth it. Salt, Pepper, Rosemary and Olive oil, nothing else. Even after reheating all nine pounds, the meat was very moist and well seasoned.

The sides were endless, Victoria prepped up a storm with help from moi and she topped it all with a number of her desserts. I even watched some football, another tradition here in the US.

Christmas is next!






NOT A FOOD LINE IN RUSSIA

TURKEY INSIDE THE BOX

GLUTEN FREE PIE DOUGH & CRANBERRIES

PUMPKING PIES 

GLUTEN FREE BUTTER TARTS

I MADE CREPES FOR ENDLESS DESSERTS

LOTS OF PEELING


ROASTED UP


VICTORIA'S GLUTEN FREE CORN BREAD

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

GOOD MORNING



So, as I do almost every day,  I went for coffee this morning. But instead of going to the independent, locally owned coffee shop in Old Town, I decided to walk three minutes the other direction to visit Starbucks. Yes, we live in a great location.
It's been a while. During the France years, we went once to their shop in Paris, but mainly to use their bathroom, I did not even order any drinks for myself.

Most likely I am late to the party, but it can't just be me noticing the gentrification of that chain? I do recall a decade ago in Las Vegas, my standard order being a double short latte (still is, I don't enjoy to much milk in my coffee) and a slice of coffee cake. 
Back then it seems that from region to region, or even from city to city all baked goods were done locally and the coffee cake was displayed on a big sheet that the staff would cut into mostly even sized pieces, but not always. So sometimes you'd end up with a bigger than usual slice in the middle of the sheet, with no crust, which was my absolute jackpot. The top was crumbly with a hint of cinnamon, while the cake itself tasted like vanilla. Fresh and flavorful.

Ehm. That cake display today looked sadder than the pastry section at  Lidl and nothing like the  Boulangerie Starbucks pretends to be.  Each and every item in that case looked uniform in size, somewhat wilted and though I did not taste any, my guess is that their baked goods taste not as good anymore as they did ten years ago. The coffee cake is now a mini loaf, a shadow of it's former greatness.
Granted, the convenience will continue to make Starbucks that third place to be, just as their CEO predicted a long time ago. It's now as generic a place to hang out at as your cubicle at work or your Home Goods furnished living room. 

And what's with that name misspelling on their cups?  My name is Peter and since when have you ever spelled that with two ee? OK, if your name is Raquel and the Starbucks is in Pocatello, Idaho, maybe. I think it's just a marketing shtick as the pictures of grossly misspelled names continue to show up on Reddit and Instagram. Free advertising for sure.

On the positive, I read that Starbucks is a great company to work for, it's one clean place wherever you visit them,  even in Shaoxing China you know what to expect and in the sum of all things, convenience is OK. 
Beige is the new black.  Hello Stepford people.

And now I am going to look for a new Espresso machine



7 AM LINE UP AT STARBUCKS USA

CONVENIENCE FOR SURE, TASTE NOT SO MUCH

NOT EVEN IN THE HUNGER GAMES MOVIE


ALWAYS CLEAN


AT TWO/DAY + TIP , MY ESPRESSO MACHINE PAYS FOR  ITSELF IN 4 MONTH

AND THIS PASTRY DISPLAY LOOKS A LOT TASTIER
GLUTEN FREE BUTTER TARTS, COURTESY GF PATISSERIE