Post #646 What the H*** Was That?!

May 26, 2019 at 12:18 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Ever have those moments in the kitchen where something that sounded like it should be great just wasn’t?  It happens all too frequently to me.  I’m always on the lookout for a new recipe for an old favorite, or a new recipe for a new favorite.  Sometimes, those recipes don’t turn out as good as they’re made out to be.  Usually it’s because my tastes differ from the author’s tastes so what tastes good to them will taste like garbage to me.

For instance, I like chocolate.  I like cooking with chocolate.  I like brownies.  Brownies are easy, no fuss, and usually they are fool proof.  Good chocolatey flavor, and easy to mix-it-up with the flavors to create the good stand by with a twist.  So when I saw a new (to me) recipe for brownies I thought I’d try it.  I wanted to use up some Baker’s chocolate squares we had in the cupboard which was why I was looking in the first place.  This recipe looked like it would make a pan about 9×13 of gooey rich brownies and the people who tried raved about it.  I had all the ingredients on hand so it was easy to just dive in.

The recipe was odd.  Instead of butter, it called for 2/3 cup of oil.  That’s a lot of oil.  Trust me, that’s a lot of oil.  Over very low heat, you melt 4oz of baking chocolate into the oil.  I had six and I figured more chocolate never hurt anything, so it all went in.  It was odd, and took a long time to melt, nearly fifteen minutes.  But it all blended well so I wasn’t concerned, except the physical amount of oil.  Then you whisk 2 cups of sugar, a cup and a half of flour, and 1 tsp of baking powder together.  When that’s ready, you add 4 large eggs, the melted chocolate and oil, and a tsp of vanilla.  Stir all that together and spread into a pan and bake for 30 minutes at 350.

So when I added the chocolate and eggs to the dry ingredients, it turned into a grainy mess.  I kept stirring it trying to get a cohesive mixture, but it was oily and grainy, and just not appetizing at all.  The recipe never specified what size pan, and based on the amount of batter, I chose an 8×8 rather than a 9×13.  The mixture came out in one glop, and left a thick film of unincorporated oil and chocolate.  Still not appetizing.  Then, as I patted the dough down to an level throughout the pan, the oil rose to the surface, leaving a shiny film on top of this playdough stuff.  So, into the oven it went.

The result was mixed.  It was . . . okay, ish.  You know how when brownies bake they rise really well, then as they cool they settle in the middle creating the lovely gooey center with crisp edges?  This kind of did that, except the top layer never settled.  As I cut them after they’d cooled, the knife cut through this crispy top layer, then into the gooey center.  Everything held together the way it was supposed to, though.  I mentally shrugged and put a couple of plates for us.  Then I bit into mine.  It was like candy, but not in a good way; at least, not for me.  It tasted like sugar, very little chocolate.  I was expecting a blast of chocolate flavor because of the extra chocolate I’d added, but it came out more like sugar candy, not even a caramel, just sweet.

I didn’t like it.  I’m going to try another one today just to see if my impression yesterday was right.

But things do go right in my kitchen.  While I was at work, I texted Partner/Spouse about dinner.  He was home, under the weather for a few days, but had energy to cook.  I had taken out a pork roast with a great fat cap on it.  I suggested a slow cook, then shred it, and cover with a package lettuce wrap sauce we like.  What he did, was cut into small pieces, slow roast with the sauce, some onions, and some pineapple, to serve over rice.  It was so good.  That’s a leftover I’d eat any day but there wasn’t any.

One time, a long while ago, I tried an experiment with disastrous results.  I made up spaghetti sauce, a big ol’ pot full.  It was very Italian and very tasty, the kind you want to spread over anything and eat.  As Guy Fieri says, “I’d eat an old flip flop covered in that.”  As I was getting the pasta ready to boil, I looked at the sauce and wondered if I could cook the pasta in that, hopefully getting the flavor of the sauce throughout the pasta.  I had some angel hair pasta which is fast cooking.  I got the sauce bubbling hot and put the pasta into it.  Not a great idea.  As the pasta cooked, the sauce absorbed the starches being released and turned into a pink, gloopy, mess.  And it lost all its flavor.  We tossed it.  And ordered pizza.  Not a happy time.

When I was first learning about spices and their combos, I made some goofy errors.  Pepper flakes were my worst.  I was following a recipe that called for a half teaspoon of them in whatever Chinese dish I was making.  Completely inedible.  It was so blazing hot, our mouths couldn’t handle it.  And we both grew up on the Mexican border in Arizona and California (him in California.)  We know hot.  I’ve been to China several times, so I should have figured it, but I’ve eaten hot spices before that were easy to eat and never had this result.  So another pizza order.

So, I guess the moral of the lesson is to stick to the tried-and-true.  If I’d made my standard batch of brownies, it would have been alright.  If I’d followed centuries of practice and boiled my pasta separately, it would have been alright.  Not sure what I could have done about the red pepper flakes, but now I know.  When I used them now, it’s a scant (and I do mean scant) seven or eight pieces of pepper flakes.  I count them.

So I’ll finish up with some good news and a giggle.  The good news is as I was walking by my cherry tomato plant, I noticed it has some blossoms on it!  Yay!!  Home grown tomatoes soon!  Can’t wait.  The San Marzano that I put in the topsy turvy grower has decided to be stubborn and is growing up past the planter rather than down.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

And the giggle is below.  As I wander through the ‘net doing research, reading new stories, ranting at political follies, I stumble across some oddities that have to be shared.  This is one:

It’s just scary.

Feel free to share the post, or your own stumbles in the kitchen.  And as always,

 

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