Food, Beer & Buffoonery - Hops
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Fun With Gas

Paying a lot for gas these days?  So am I, or so I thought.  My last fill up was $4.16 per gallon.  Seems expensive, right?  Well, take a look at what they’re paying in several European countries:

For the week of 19 May 2008
Belgium: $8.84
France: $8.48
Germany: $8.75
Italy: $8.65
Netherlands: $9.54
UK: $8.31
USA: $4.02
Source: US Department of Energy

And we’re complaining about that measly $4.02 per gallon. Just be glad you aren’t making that 64 mile commute to work in the Netherlands!

Recently, many politicians, Democrats in particular, have been promoting ways of trying to lower the gas prices.  At the same time they’re the ones wanting big increases in fuel efficiency for cars (which would be great) and promoting alternative fuels.

The thing is, high gas prices are just what’s needed to push the market in that direction.  Trying to lower gas prices by using temporary tax cuts, etc, is just hindering their long term goal of getting more efficient cars on the road and increasing mass transit ridership.  What are they thinking?

Just Buffooneristic “food for thought”.

On Tonight’s Menu: Collard-wrapped Salmon

I had the chance to stop by Phil’s Fish Market in Moss Landing last night and I bought some salmon. If you are ever driving Hwy 1 between Monterey and Santa Cruz, be sure to stop by Phil’s. You won’t regret it.

I wanted to do something new with the salmon, yet something Californian.  So I grabbed my 3 books on Californian Cuisine and found a recipe for Kale-Wrapped Wild Salmon, with red bell pepper, almond and garlic sauce.  It’s a recipe from San Francisco restaurant Jack Falstaff that has been printed in the book Savoring San Francisco, recipes from the city’s neighborhood restaurants.

Collard-wrapped SalmonI didn’t have any kale, but I had collard greens.  Close enough.  The recipe calls for blanching the greens in water and wrapping them around salmon fillets that have been coated with salt pepper and oive oil.  The fish is baked and a sauce is prepared from red bell peppers, sliced almonds, garlic, olive oil, sherry vinegar and paprika.  The sauce itself is just fantastic.

To round out the meal, I made some Basmati rice to which I added a few dashes of Chiang Mai, a Thai Red Curry powder consisting of red chili powder, garlic, galangal root, lemon grass and coriander.  To save water, and add a hint of flavor and color, I cooked the rice in some of the left over water used to blanch the collard greens.  I then steamed some zucchini on top of the cooking rice.  Almost a one pot meal!

So, pictured here is my prepared dish.  It took about an hour to put it all together.  Not bad for a week-night meal, if I do say so myself.

Collard-wrapped salmon, cut openI don’t want to print the recipe here, as I don’t want to violate any copyrights.  So I encourage you to buy the cookbook.  I bought Savoring San Francisco several months ago and have made 4 or 5 dishes from it already. So far, every one has been fantistic, especially tonight’s Salmon and the Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Figs and Marsala.  The book has a good variety of recipes from many restaurants covering just about every cuisine of the world, but all done in a very Californian/San Franciscan style.

Cookin’ with a Beer — and its Can?

So, I subscribe to a cooking magazine, and was just sent an email with a link to this video recipe posted on AmericasTestKitchen.com:  Beer Can Chicken!

Just the sound of that piqued my curiosity, but not necessarily in a positive way.  For starters, the “beer in the can” part brought about visions of bad tasting, cheap American mega-brew.  And well, if you watch the video (or take a look at the screen shot below), you’ll see that it doesn’t disappoint.  But the second thing that got me wondering was the mention of the can.  You can make all sorts of brines, gravies, sauces, and what have you, with the actual beer, but why mention the can?  Well, I was in for a big treat!

The video starts with the chef’s co-host reading aloud a letter that a viewer had sent in — something to the effect of: “My son is a truck driver and can’t have any alcohol in his system if he gets pulled over.  Can I make ‘Beer Can Chicken’ with a can of soda instead?”  Ummm…  Alcohol has a boiling point that’s even lower that that of water’s.  Hint:  there won’t be any alcohol in your chicken!  However, the host passes over this most obvious of responses, and simply answers the question…

Yes, we are assured, you can make beer can chicken with a can of soda.  Mmmm, soda can chicken.  And you can even do it with Lemonade, she adds.  (That comes in a can?)  Her cinematically naive co-host then ever so purposely chimes in with the question, “What about the wine and cheese folks?”  ….”There’s no wine in this one”, she replies.   No kidding?

Then, shortly after, the chef picks up a can of beer and announces that you can’t use a full can or it’ll boil over.  (I wasn’t let down, she was using a can of Budweiser!)  So, she proceeds to pour some out into a glass for her co-host, takes a sip out of the can herself and with a split-second look of forced ecstasy exclaims, “Mmmm, that’s good”, and conveniently sets the beer can down with the Bud label in perfect alignment with the camera.  Now that’s product placement!

Beer Can ChickenThe climax of all this culinary buffoonery is when the chef and co-host are outdoors, and after prepping the BBQ, walk over to the table showcasing the chicken and the beer.  The chef grabs the chicken, and prepares to lower it, end first, onto the beer can — and I don’t think it would be completely out of line to say she was preparing to “molest the chicken”. At this point, her co-host boyishly exclaims, “I’ve been waiting for this part.  This is the fun part of this recipe.”  And then, as if he hadn’t made himself clear, the host asks, “Are you excited?”.  “Yes I am”, he replies.

As the chicken comes to rest on top of the can (depicted in all it’s glory in the accompanying screenshot), a proud host exclaims, “Voila”, to which the co-host replies, “That was easy!”   And he was expecting?

Cooking just doesn’t get any better than this…

Watch the video for yourself

(I just love a post that covers Food, Beer and Buffoonery!)