Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Entries in teaching moments (14)


Pineapple Curry Chicken Salad; and How I Develop New Recipes

I have never claimed to be a real chef, nor do I have the credentials to really say I know what I'm doing when I have an adventure in the kitchen. Mostly, I just sort of channel lots of enthusiasm toward whatever my end goal might be (dinner, normally) and hope for the best.

But anytime I want to make a new dish, or add some Hungry Sam flair to a food I already like to eat, I find that a little forethought and a general strategy helps. I follow three steps whenever I develop a new-to-me recipe:

  1. I pick a general type of dish.
  2. I think about similar foods I've cooked before.
  3. I think about similar foods I've eaten before.

That's it! So easy -- easy, because if you don't feel your cooking experience is sufficient, you can let your eating experience fill in the gaps. You can do this. Trust me. 

Today's dish follows just this approach: Pineapple Curry Chicken Salad!

This, of course, is the end goal. We'll get here. Strategy, more pics, and the recipe after the jump!

Click to read more ...


How to Improve Canned Chicken Noodle Soup

I've been sick the last few days. It's felt a bit as though some sort of demon virus was trapped in a little cage in my throat, tearing at my vocal chords in an effort to break free. Or something.

Accordingly, I've been eating/drinking a lot of chicken noodle soup. And, as Hungry Sam, I've put what little energy I've had into experimenting with improvements to an often bland, texture-less experience!

As my base, I've been using Epicurious' favorite canned chicken noodle soup, Progresso Traditional 99% Fat Free Chicken Noodle Soup:

Yeah, I know it's not the 99% fat free version.

Having eaten six cans in the last two days (truly I was sick, else I would have made some soup from scratch) and experimented with each one, here are my findings and suggestions (after the break). Also, apologies in advance for the totally unnecessary Star Wars references.

Click to read more ...


Christopher Walken Us Through Baked Chicken with Pears

Will I be making this dish tomorrow night?

Yes, I probably will. Thank you, Christopher Walken!


Legit Paella, with Chicken, Shrimp, and Sausage

In between law school applications, the Jewish High Holy Days, preparations for my travels to the Yucatan, and the regular ebb and flow of work -- I've still been finding a little time here and there to engage in kitchen adventures.

Among the recent dishes I've whipped up is a recurring favorite of mine: My chicken, shrimp, and turkey sausage paella (recipe below)! And I'm excited to show you the awesome pictures I took, like this one:



See how nice I made it look? Just so you know, it was really hard to make the shrimp stand up. But I did it for you, my loyal readers. I even artistically splashed some chipotle hot sauce on the plate!
Though I live by the maxim that anyone can cook any dish with the right preparation, ingredients, and patience, I'll readily admit that paella is a challenge. It's time and recipe intensive, entails juggling multiple prep stations and multiple burners-worth of ingredients, and makes for a LOT of dirty dishes.

Click to read more ...


Seriously, People, Don't Trust Cafeteria Lobster

Lobster Bib.

I'm going to try hard to get through this post without cursing.

Seriously, people, don't trust cafeteria lobster.

Just...don't. So, for example, if you show up to the cafeteria at the National Education Association and see they're serving a lobster lunch for $12.95, just walk away.

Click to read more ...


BREAKING: Turns Out My Caffeine Addiction is Awesome

Here's some fantastic, life-changing news to brighten your morning: Caffeine definitely maybe prevents skin cancer.


A recent University of Toronto study has built on previous findings, suggesting "that caffeine can help lower one's chances of UV-associated skin cancer by inhibiting a DNA repair pathway, essentially helping cells die after exposure to sunlight."

I have no interest in understanding the nuances of this article, or the study on which it's based. Why ask myself questions about correlation versus causation? Why challenge the research methodology or equivocate on its findings? What's my motivation here?

Obviously, my motivation is to seek out evidence to continue feeding my coffee problem habit hobby.

Click to read more ...


Custom Brewcrafters: Beer, to Order

Just a few of Custom Brewcrafter's 30-odd beer choices. 
Once in a while, you come across a company with a truly brilliant business model, an enterprise that contributes a wonderful product in an innovative way. Custom Brewcrafters is one such, a brewery that taps into the creativity of its clients while drawing on age-old recipes and techniques to make its suds.

Clearly I'm a fan. But before I delve into my visit, let me explain what makes CB so special.

Micro- and craft-brewing has taken off in the last few decades. In fact, during the recession, sales of craft beers have remained strong and actually increased. My uneducated theory is that it's a testament to growing American interest in products that were grown, crafted, or brewed with some level of attention and care, even love. Sort of a "mass-produced=evil, small-batch=sustainable" attitude that may or may not be at all rational. Another reasonable explanation for the trend may simply be that making beer in small quantities is a better reflection of how beer's been made for the last 11,000 years -- we're returning to our roots, in a way.

Whatever it is, most people I know tend to prefer these craft brews, or at least certain varieties (such as my personal favorite beer, Allagash White). BUT.

Let's say you own a restaurant and you already have an excellent beer list, with German Pilseners, Trappist ales, double-dark coffee stouts, and Vermont-made organic beers. But let's say you want to provide your clientele something special. You want to serve you OWN brew, one that perfectly complements your menu. But you don't have the know-how or wherewithal (or the capacity to make it profitable).

So you call up CB. You talk to their master brewers and you go over your menu and your specialties. You talk about the sort of beer you want to drink and sell, and you know what they do?

CB's stills.
They Custom Brewcraft it.

So, my visit to CB: It's come up that I went to the the University of Rochester in New York, home of garbage plates and awesome wings. My mom actually grew up in Rochester, and her parents are still in town, so we swung up through town last weekend for the Fourth. I'd only been to CB once while in school, but a weekend back in Rochester seemed like an opportune moment to return.

My Dad, Granddad, and one of our family's oldest friends, Joel, visited on Saturday afternoon, excited for a walk through the brewing facilities and hoping for a full-fledged tasting. With a few minutes to kill before our walkthrough began, we explored a few of the non-beer samples available -- the Bhut Jolokia chile (or "Ghost" chile; over one million Scoville heat units) sauce on a meatball was...painful.

So. Spicy. You can even see the chile-induced sweat.
Afterwards, a very knowledgable fellow named Steve walked us through the whole facility.

We tasted the grist and some of the roasted barleys as well as the hops (bitter!), and he answered our questions about everything from the water CB uses (Monroe city water; some of the freshest in America) to the filtration process.

We must have spent an hour wandering through the brewing area before returning to the tasting bar. I'm not going to go into detail about every beer we tasted (I tried about 12 of the 30-odd brews CB makes, both under its own brand and for numerous area restaurants), but my favorite was the double dark cream porter, which overflowed with the rich, earthiness I'd expect from dark roasted barley and a hoppy but not overly bitter finish.

Some dude at the bar. There are more taps around either corner.
After three hours, I came away better educated about the beer making process, better enlightened as to more than a dozen qualities brews native to upstate New York, and, I'll freely admit, a little tipsy.

My Granddad mostly liked the beers; this may, however,
have been the one he declared "shit."
Custom Brewcrafters has a fantastic approach to brewing beer, and clearly hires men and women who know and love their ales and lagers. Despite their relatively small capacity, they create a broad range of interesting and unique beers, from IPAs to Pilsener styles to red ales. The tour was the best I've been on, and is a must-do for anyone in or visiting Rochester with an eye to learn something more about beer.