Monday, 09 November 2009

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Recipes from the Headless Chef: Chorizo Cilantro Chili The one thing even long term readers might not know about me is that 1) I do all the cooking and 2) am quite good at it (if I do say so myself). (And I do.) I am not, however, good with following recipes or remembering how I improvise on them. In order to preserve how I prepared meals worth making again, I'm going to share them with you. They're largely variations on recipes from the only cookbook that's also an education: The Professional Chef by the Culinary Institute of America. It weighs in at 7.8 lbs. and is every bit the beast an almost eight-pound book should be. In it you learn what equipment to buy (one good chef's knife can replace an assortment of space-cluttering gadgets); how to use that equipment in the most effective way possible (the time people spend cooking can be cut in half by the knowledge of how to cut an onion); how particular flavors are produced (both in terms of spicing and preparing dishes); how certain textures are achieved (especially important in soups and with meats); and I could go on but you see my point: this is the book to purchase should you want to learn how to cook. I'm going share recipes in its spirit: not only will I tell you what to do, I'll also explain why I'm doing it. Chorizo Cilantro Chili Mexican (pork) chorizo (or substitute with soy chorizo) Unripe (green) serrano chilis (for back heat) Ripe (green) jalapeño peppers (for front heat) Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (for round heat) Gebhardt's Chili Powder 2 bunches of cilantro 1 bunch of green onions 2 medium yellow (or 1 large Vidalia) onions 4 cloves of garlic 8 Roma tomatoes 3 cans of pinto beans (12 oz.) Molasses Brown sugar 3 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock Kosher salt Pepper Prelude: A word about those peppers. I didn't specify how many you'll need because that depends on what kind of heat you desire. If you prefer your tongue and the roof of your mouth on fire immediately, go heavier on the jalapeño peppers because they have front heat. Front heat also overwhelms all the other flavors in a dish, meaning a bottle of quality hot sauce can make mediocre food edible or mask an off-note in what would otherwise be a ruined dish. (I like Cholula. The pequin [30,000 to 60,000 Scoville units] and arbol [15,000 to 30,000 Scoville units] chili combination provides pure flavor-masking front heat.) If you want to taste the flavor of your ingredients before you taste and feel the heat, go heavier on the back heat-providing serrano peppers. One word of caution when producing back heat: when you taste the progress of your dish, you need to taste a little more than you normally would to fully register the back heat. If you fail to feel its full effect, you can easily produce a dish that tastes wonderful in your mouth but burns holes through your throat...
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Let the circle be unbroken. From a thread about Michael Steele's "white Republicans are afraid of me" remarks on Sunday:I’m terrified of Michael Steele the same way Mary Jo Kopechne was terrified of Teddy Kennedy. This ride is flat scary, and I want off.In less than 30 words, this commenter compresses the conservative response to white liberals and all blacks into the singular image of a threatened white woman. I would stop and note that the white female martyr in question worked with the man who supposedly terrified her and willingly entered a vehicle with him on that unfortunate evening, but that would be beside the point. It is not the woman herself to whom conservatives appeal when they utter her name, but what happened to her as imagined through their eyes. Their horror at Kopechne's death (and their subsequent insistence that in it can be found the root of all ideological evil) reminds me of nothing so much as the origin story of Rorschach in Alan Moore's Watchmen. (Such obsessions happens when writing a book.) His moment of decision—the moment he became, a la Bérubé, outraged by Chappaquiddick—was when he discovered some fabric that had been purchased by Kitty Genovese shortly before her murder: What turns Rorschach into the misogynistic psychopath deplored by a witless Anthony Lane but beloved by many a conservative? The seventh and eighth panels tell you all you need to know. They are not presented from Genovese's perspective: the scene-to-scene transition from panel six to panel seven clearly indicates that they're Rorschach's reconstruction of the indifference she witnessed as she bled out before the eyes of friends and neighbors. She is no more a person to him that Kopechne is to those who claim to speak for her and yet, like conservatives, Rorschach claims her death for his own purposes. I would continue, but I don't feel comfortable speaking for the dead. Would that others shared my discomfort ...

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