Tag Archive | FRIENDS show

8/8/16

Day Two of the grilled cheese. I made it twice: two sandwiches for me, and one for Dad. My first was perfect. It was squished by the bowl, but other than that, perfect. Second, not so much. I think it had to do with the heat, so I decided that no matter which number sandwich I’m on, it’s two minutes for the first side and one for the second. I don’t time it with the phone though. I count the seconds myself, but I know they’re really fast. I count “Mississippi”-lessly, which would annoy Ross Geller from Friends (if you get my reference, then bless your heart).

The only issue now is how to avoid crushing them. They always come out too thin, which makes sense because of the weight. Should I just use the spatula and apply pressure? I tried that for a few seconds, but the butter stuck to it. Maybe I should butter it up the second side right before flipping.

Also, one of my Facebook friends who always comments with culinary suggestions, said that some people use Hellman’s Mayonnaise instead of butter. I’ll try that next time, if we have it lying around the house. Just thought I’d put that out there since it was relevant.

Remember when I told you yesterday that I wrote down a bunch of stuff, but then lost it because I was moving from iPad to iPhone during the drafting process, since I was adding pictures taken on my phone? Well, as I was reading over the entire thing, I realized that I made a reference to a TV show and tagged people related to it on Twitter, but never made any connection with them. So apparently that was the biggest part I left out. (One upside to that is the real Gabi Moskowitz–whose blog is called BrokeAss Gourmet, in case anyone didn’t know–actually read the post. She liked it on Twitter, but I didn’t think she actually read it until I saw that one of the referrals was through Twitter. I fangirled, man, haha!)

So here’s what I remember from Memory Limbo: “Why did I decide to try mastering the simple grilled cheese sandwich? Well, something stuck to my mind: the very first episode of Young & Hungry where the main character (Gabi Diamond) needs to make something for her super rich boss-to-be (Josh Kaminski), since he is starving. She makes him a grilled cheese sandwich because she just happened to be there for her chef job interview and knew it was his favorite. When he described how delicious it was, I specifically recall him saying it was “ooey-gooey”. I want to make ooey-gooey grilled cheese! (And, actually, that show is based on the life of the food blogger, Gabi Moskowitz, which makes you wonder if she also worked, or still works, as a personal chef. Except the show doesn’t mention anything about Gabi Diamond’s blog, despite the descriptions all saying it’s about a food blogger named Gabi Diamond.)”

That’s all I remember. It came back to me last night, but I decided to save it for today’s entry rather than editing yesterday’s post.

Side one (left is the first sandwich):

Side two: 

Together (look at that cheese…”ooey-gooey” enough for ya, Josh?):  

Plated: 

I’m not giving up though. I mean, it’s Grilled Cheese. It shouldn’t be too difficult to get right. At least three simple ingredients and, what, three easy steps?

That’s all I’ve got for today. If anyone has advice on how to substitute the griddle (or in my case, the metal bowl) in a way that does not crush the bread slice, I’m open to ideas.

Till then, break eggs, foodies!

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7/21/16: Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies!

This morning, I had a second attempt at the LASIK surgery. I was SO close. After the second try today, I was under the machine. I don’t even think I budged. The suction just didn’t take and my eyeball was swollen again, so we couldn’t continue. That’s when the doctor said we should wait a few months, so I’m just frustrated with the whole thing.

Once I woke up from my Valium-induced nap, after sobbing for a few minutes (which I don’t usually do), I felt the urge to bake something chocolate-y. In my mind, I pictured a chocolate cake, but I think that’s because I’ve been binging on Private Practice and in the first few episodes, Dell Parker, the hottie receptionist, kept baking chocolate cakes. Well, actually, it was his grandmother’s baking, but he claimed it was his because he wanted to win over his boss.

I scrolled through the new “Food Network” app (I volunteered to try out their beta app and provide my opinions to a survey) and didn’t really find any chocolate recipes that sounded appealing. That is, except the Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. It was perfect: the recipe was easy, we had most of the ingredients, exactly the comfort food I needed to get my mind off of self-deprecation.

One of the ingredients I needed from the store (which my mother had to drive me to since I wasn’t out of the woods just yet from the multiple doses of Valium) was the chocolate chips. I chose the Nestlé Toll House bag and all I kept thinking was the Friends episode where Monica spends a few days working hard, trying to figure out the chocolate chip cookie recipe that Phoebe’s grandmother made. Since the recipe was lost in a fire, Monica had to use her culinary skills to figure out what was in it. Then, in the end, when she’s exhausted and just gives up, Phoebe says that her grandmother got it from her friend in France named “Nestlé Toulouse”. Then, Monica says, “NESTLÉ TOLL HOUSE?!” and then flings a bag of chocolate chips at her to see if that’s the recipe. Then, Phoebe stands up excitedly and says, “YES!!!” It was hilarious, but Monica saying, “Nestlé Toll House” was always on my mind, so that brought me even more joy in my therapeutic baking.

Anyways, as I said before, it was a simple recipe. Once the chips were mixed into the batter, I used a baking spatula to stir them in and realized the recipe says to mix by hand. Whoops, but who cares? The job is done without harming the beautiful chocolate chips.

The struggle is really in placing each chunk on the trays. Whatever the lump looks like determines how it looks in the end. I wanted soft, flat cookies. While they were all soft, some of them were slightly crispy on the bottom, which I thought was due to the placement in the oven. There are two racks set at the center and bottom. I tested out this theory, since it was either because of the placement or the amount of cookies per tray. We have one that can fit 12 and one with six.

First batch: IMG_3598.JPGIMG_3599.JPG

So this is how I placed them in the oven: 12 over 6. The 6 was the one that had the crispy bottom, but it was still soft. This is how it looked on a plate: IMG_3589.JPGI know. Yum, right? I tasted one cookie from each tray to check the difference.

Second batch: IMG_3604.JPGIMG_3600.JPGSix over 12 this time. I forget which bottom was crispier, but I recall my conclusion was that the number of cookies per tray impacted it, not the placement.

Check out the blood of brown sugar spewing from the bottom-right one in the 3-by-2. I know there was a clump of brown sugar that refused to separate while mixing in the brown sugar. I thought I solved it during while the mixer did its thing, but apparently not. I think the chunk got smaller though. I ate that cookie since it was the ugliest one and had the brown sugar clump. I can’t describe the taste of the baked brown sugar, but maybe…metallic? Either way, it was the brown sugar and did not taste good.

Here’s the plate for the second batch: IMG_3595.JPG

Final batch was leftovers. Maybe I should’ve just kept it as cookie dough for snacking, but figured I had enough for a 3-by-2: IMG_3603.JPGThis was the one I shared mostly with the dogs since there were so little chocolate chips left. They’re dogs, so you know that by the time that cooked batter touched their mouths, it was omnomnom time.

IMG_3597.JPGAaaaand this is the plate with the leftover batter. Almost not worth posting, since it’s not in a heap of chocolate-y goodness, but…consistency.

My dad and I each tried one from this batter, hence there are four instead of six. Since there were just those six left, I wanted to stop at 11 minutes instead of 12, but I think I could sense its undercookedness. So I suppose as far as the amount of baking goes, the timing doesn’t matter? (Shrugs.) That’s what I’m getting out of it.

So I’d say that as far as the therapeutic baking went, it was a success. I feel a lot better. Normal, at least, which means I couldn’t cry even if I tried to. My old self would have turned to music or writing to feel better, but after writing a pretty fair Yelp review about the LASIK place, I decided it wasn’t enough. (I mean, I didn’t rant–I said that the employees were amazing and the struggle was all on my end and provided suggestions for future patients who have the same issues as I do. Fair enough, right?) I felt a magnet pull inside me to go to the kitchen and bake something with chocolate. So I did. And I feel much better. And that’s all that matters, because that was the point.

That’s what got me thinking though: is this why girls always want chocolate when they get their periods? I’ve never had the craving for it. Maybe I only need it when I’m down.

Believe it or not: I’ve never tried raw cookie dough. I’ve heard it was delicious, but always thought it was weird because if it’s raw, doesn’t that mean it’s disgusting? I tried it though and it was just heavenly. Is it weird to think that the cookie dough tastes nothing like when it’s actually cooked though? Maybe the texture alters the taste a bit.

While finishing up, I was considering making a better batch for the people at the LASIK center. I mean, they really were polite and trying to make my experience easier. Hmm…maybe I will. Their place of business is fairly close to my culinary school (which I haven’t started yet). Maybe if I make a few alterations like adding cinnamon or something.

One last thing that has nothing to do with today’s experience: should I have my own sign-off? Julia Child ended her shows with “Bon Appétit” (according to “Julie & Julia” anyway).  What should I finish with? I watch a lot of Gordon Ramsay shows so, like…”SHUT IT DOWN!” or…”This steak is so raw that I can tip it!”? Just kidding.

I graduated with a theatre degree, so we said “break a leg” a lot. Well, I read online about suggestions that chefs can say in order to say good luck: “Break an egg”? That’s cute. Fits me because I was in theatre and I’m also a playwright. Whoever thought of this, I hope you don’t mind, but…

Break an egg!

5/11/16

Our family’s favorite meal is from a place called Sweet T’s. Every time we order takeout, we eat the same thing: Fried Chicken Dinner with mashed potatoes and fried vegetables on the side. Today, I wanted to make exactly that, in case I didn’t have to drive all the way there. (They don’t even get cell reception. I mean, what kind of savages live that way? I’m kidding. Sometimes, it’s good to unplug for a couple hours.)

This is the Fried Chicken Dinner, which is what I tried to replicate. I used Paula Deen’s recipe for Southern Fried Chicken, which was easy to follow. Just not easy to eat, which is sort of the most important step of the meal.

Paula Deen, who- or whatever told you that one cup of salt was good enough for the very first layer of this chicken was DEAD WRONG. That is too much salt, even for all those pieces of chicken, and the smallest chicken I could find weighed double what you said to get. Not only that, but when I added the salt, I didn’t even use an entire cup. I used what was left of the kosher salt we had, which took up about 75% of the measuring cup. As a matter of fact, my parents and I opted to take off the crust and just eat the chicken.

One of the biggest reasons why I even chose this particular recipe was because, not only was it simple to make, but it got five stars with 881 reviews. (Well, by the time I’m through with her, 882 reviews.) I didn’t read through all of them, but almost every single review on the first page had five stars. Every one except the one star that complained about the salt. I suppose I should’ve taken that as a hint, so that’s the biggest lesson I learned tonight: if there are reviews available for the recipe you are using, do your research and READ. THEM. ALL. While you are one person, and your taste buds and opinions differ from everyone else’s, chances are you’ll still find someone who has similar tastes. Find them and then cry together about the horrors of the salty fried chicken. (Just not over the chicken. There’s enough salt as it is.)

As far as those five-star reviewers go, my mom says that they probably knew just by looking at the ingredients that one cup didn’t seem right, so they made the appropriate reductions for a more successful outcome. That’s probably what I should’ve done: once I saw how much salt was in the bowl, I thought, Is she sure this is right? It does seem extreme. Oh well. It’s only one layer of salt. Plus, it’s Paula Deen. She’s famous. Yeah, fame doesn’t matter. I’m never trusting you again, Paula Deen. You use your abundance of salt to shield you from the demons who told you that one cup was a safe amount to coat the first layer of your chicken with. (I’ve been binge-watching Supernatural so when I think of salt, I think “demons”.)

Except that’s all part of cooking, isn’t it? Experimentation? See what works and what doesn’t? As I said in this post, it’s hardly ever going to be perfect the first time you try a recipe. For example, I learned that what doesn’t work is putting that much salt (or faith, apparently) into Paula Deen’s Southern Fried Chicken.

I think I can see where she thought we needed that much salt though: because it’s used to coat the chicken. Except salt isn’t the only part of that mixture. There’s also pepper and garlic powder, so why not just have more of one of those ingredients? I’m going to try adding more garlic powder next time because I didn’t taste any of it, and I’m pretty sure I would’ve rather tasted a little more garlic if it meant having a little less salt.

I suppose now is the time for the usual List of Thoughts during this painfully…briny process:

  1. Mashed potatoes were first because they were easiest, I’d already made them once before, and I could keep them stored in a warm place. I mean…I didn’t…but I could have.
  2. Holy crap, I have to take apart the entire chicken myself? Here’s the guide I used that wasn’t completely helpful to me: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Cut-a-Chicken/
  3. Never mind, got Mommy to help. And she taught me how to use a meat cleaver! Sort of. She took over after I couldn’t quite get it. Guess she was too afraid I’d accidentally chop off a finger. I wanted to use it like a hatchet though, you know? Swinging it from above my head, but then I was too afraid that I’d miss. How do people line that up so perfectly? Just by practicing? Ain’t nobody got time for that. Actually, unless you’re heading into a career of culinary arts…I think practice is all you’ve got time for.
  4. I felt as if setting aside the mixtures of ingredients in separate bowls was easier for some reason. I think it was because it was nice not having to worry about using the entire thing to cook with. Instead, they were set out the way a factory would organize each station: “Quick. 1, 2, 3. Done. 1, 2, 3. Done. Easy.”
  5. “Add enough hot sauce so the egg mixture is bright orange.” I sort of had a problem with this step. Your bright orange is different from my bright orange, Paula. Plus, there are still many different shades of bright orange. Should it be more yellow or orangy? What if I add too much red? Just add another egg? Am I overthinking this? Perhaps. But am I wrong? I hope not.
  6. I initially thought I had a good system going when I was dunking the chicken into each bowl: drop, drown, flip, drown. Then, it became: drop, flip, flip. After that, I just said, “Screw it. Drown the entire piece.”
  7. Stupid question: what is dark meat?
  8. I also looked up tips on how to fry chicken and I found it pretty resourceful: http://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/common-mistakes/article/fried-chicken-common-mistakes
  9. Actually frying the stuff, I was surprised didn’t burn me as much as it typically takes me to fry vegetables. Although in the middle of it, there was this huge bomb that detonated at the center of the pan and honestly, I had to pause for a minute because I was in shock.
  10. I was also a little concerned with the skin during the frying process. I know that whenever they are professionally made, they rarely have skin peeling off, and I was wondering how they do that. If they screw it up, do they somehow fix it? You see the one at the top left corner? The skin peeled off just a little a bit from the tongs. Yeah, how would I fix that? Just leave it as is? Use a bandaid? What?
  11. Toward the last half hour of my cooking time, I ended up handing the green bean duties to my mom since I was still dunking the raw meat at that point. It wasn’t a huge deal since she already has her own recipe for making them anyway. I literally just told her to make it her way, which isn’t that far from the one I use (which is technically Rachael Ray’s recipe).

So what have we learned today, class? Don’t trust the chef as much as you think; if you can, rely on the reviewers, because there’s bound to be someone online who shares similar feelings with you. I read the one-star review, which was the only complaint I read, about the salt and I couldn’t help but think, “Dude, I’m with you 100%. I totally get how you feel. How we’re the only ones on the first page of the review results who feel this way, I don’t know, but good for you!”

In case you wanted to see how everything turned out: Of course, it looks better than it tastes. Trust me. But that was dinner. Although he hated how salty it was, I think my dad ate the most chicken. Then again, it probably seemed that way because he fed it to the dogs too. His, anyway. (That’s why that Chihuahua so fat, but I have more self-control. And like Joey Tribbiani says, “Joey doesn’t share food!” Except it’s my name obviously, not “Joey”.)

I’m going to try this again, but with 1/4 cup of salt. Instead, I’ll use more garlic powder in the house seasoning. See where that gets me.

And as I was making the mashed potatoes, I couldn’t help but think of the “Mother’s Day” episode of Blue Bloods. Obviously, that’s one of my biggest TV obsessions–and you, Jamie Reagan (Will Estes), are not helping–as of October 21st. (Yes, I memorized the date because what attracted me first was Will’s birthday shared with my Broadway husband, Aaron Tveit.)

Anyways, I think of that one dinner scene because the niece, Nicky, got to make “the world-famous Frank Reagan Mother’s Day Mash. I don’t know, I just liked that she got to help out with Mother’s Day dinner, I guess. Oh, how do I remember this episode? I may have bought it on iTunes because of the fight that Jamie gets into with his older brother…