Updates from July, 2004 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Michael Krakovskiy 11:24 am on July 8, 2004 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amaranthaceae, , Artemisia cina, , Chenopodium, Cordyceps, , , Hypocreales, , Mycology,   

    Gastronautic Updates 

    I wrote about the caterpillar infecting fungus called cordyceps, right? Well I went to one of the herbalist shops on Avenue U and purchased $40 dollars worth. In fact that was the smallest amount I could buy since the damned fungi cost about $200 an ounce.
    Here’s about a quarter of my haul:

    They smell faintly of chocolate and dust. The caterpillar part tastes like cardboard and dust. The protruding fungus has a tingly – sour taste, not unpleasant at all. I did not notice any health effect.

    Moving on. I also wrote about a corn infecting fungus that the Mexicans call Cuitlacoche. I ordered a can of Monteblanco brand Cuitlacoche through Amazon and Mexgrocer.

    The giant fungus infected corn kernels have a texture similar to slippery jack mushrooms and a slightly smoky flavor. The ingredients include onions , jalapeno peppers and epazote ( Skunkweed aka Wormseed, aka Mexican tea aka West Indian goosefoot aka Jerusalem parsley aka Hedge mustard aka Sweet pigweed which supposedly has “antiflatulent powers” ) which kind of make it hard to say what it really tastes like on its own.

  • Michael Krakovskiy 12:40 pm on June 8, 2003 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Cuts of beef, , food safety mascot, Frying pan, Italian store, , Meat thermometer, ,   

    Steak ala Deadprogrammer 

    The previous poll showed that there is about the same amount of interest in all the things that I am planning to write about, so I am going to write these articles in no particular order.

    So, here goes. Steak ala Deadprogrammer.

    Since I am on the Atkins diet, I get to have a lot of steak. So I did a bit of research about dead cow and bull cookery and figured out a pretty decent way of making an almost perfect steak with the minimum of hassle and mess. It’s quick too.

    Before reading Kitchen Confidential I used to order my stake well done. What stupidity it was. Me, a person who cancatch Jersey fish and make sashimi out of it, eat burnt steak? Craziness. A normal steak should be medium or medium rare.

    There are three things you need to cook good steak. First, a piece of meat. Second, a cured cast iron frying pan. Third, tongs to turn meat over. Fourth.. You need four things to cood a good steak. Fourth, you need a meat thermometer.

    The meat part is usually not tricky. I like Rib Eye steak from my favorite Italian store. There is this awesome tip that I learned from Tog about how to buy $10/lb steak for $1.69/lb, but I could never find that particular cut at my local Key Food. That tip isn’t very usable. Hah, get it? Not usable.

    The frying pan must be heavy, well seasoned and be made of cast iron. There are a lot of sites extolling the virtues of cast iron pans, so I am not going to write about that. I have a ridiculously expensive Le Creuset pan, but that’s absolutely not necessary. A good heavy 15 dollar pan will do. Just remember, a Teflon coated pan is absolutely no good for frying steaks.

    Cooking tongs you probably have already. Now, onto the meat thermometer. You see, the cheapo digital or analog thermometer is rather slow and imprecise. There is a fine line between a steak that is overdone and steak that is unsafe to eat. It’s possible to tell the doneness of a steak by cutting it, but it’s kind of messy. So my solution to this is getting a thermocouple — a digital lab thermometer. I don’t have one yet, but I am definitely going to purchase a Fluke 51 thermocouple with the K type probe. This is what Schomer uses for calibration of his espresso machines.

    Cooking steak is simple. There are two steps. Searing and actually frying. Searing is rather simple. Turn the gas on full, and wait unstill the pan is very, very hot. I’ve heard something about checking by throwing salt into the pan and listening, but I know about that. Just wait till it’s very hot. While you are heating it up, cut off a bit of fat from the steak and grease the pan with it. It’s best to have the steak at room temperature (but I sometimes take it straight out of the fridge). Rub the steak with seasoning (or just with a bit of salt). Make sure that the steak is dry and plop it into the pan. Wait one minute and turn it around. After another minute take the steak off and turn off the gas. Let the pan cool down (this is important) and turn the burner to medium. Put the steak back and cook it while turning it over every few minutes.

    Now, the only tricky part is figuring out how long to keep frying. The thermometer and Thermyâ„¢, the food safety mascot are your guides in this.

    Rare Meat gives easily when touched, no juices appear on surface. 150° F.
    Medium Meat feels firm but slightly springy, and juices begin to appear on the surface. 160° F.
    Well Done Meat is covered with juices and does not yield to pressure (you ruined it) 170° F.

    Now one last fancy shmancy thing that you can do. It’s called deglazing. Basically, after you are done with the steak, splash some alcohol and add some butter to the pan and swirl it around with a wooden spoon. Alcohol will dissolve the gunk that is stuck to the pan, and together with butter will make awesome souse which you can pour over the steak or serve in a little dish. This will also make the pan much easier to wash.


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