Animals quote

"Animals give their lives to feed us, so it's on us to eat every part of them. It's a form of respect, and it's a better way to live than just treating meat as a disposable commodity." —Seamus Mullen, Chef


On Burning Hands ...

I recently came across a recipe for homemade Sriracha, and because Ray loves the Southeast Asian condiment SO much, I knew I had to make some for him. And the recipe looked fairly easy.

We bought the peppers at the Collingswood Farmers Market on Saturday—I knew I wanted to do a mix of red bell peppers with whatever red hot peppers I could find. I procured 6 "long sweet" hot red peppers from one vendor for $1 and a pint of small red chiles (looked a lot like habaneros) for $2 from a different vendor. I picked up my bulb of garlic and was ready to go (there were already broken down red bell peppers waiting for me at home).

Yesterday I got to work. I roughly chopped the red bell slices, then began breaking down the chilis ... gloveless. I've worked with jalapenos a number of times (even accidentally touched my eyes once after working with them ... ow), and thought nothing of it. Just don't touch my eyes right?

I broke down all the chiles to come up with 12 oz of peppers...not the full pound the recipe called for, but good enough. And then the burning began. I thought it would go away after washing my hands with soap. No. The burning intensified, and left the back side of some of my fingers red and swollen. It sucked.

The pain would blossom anytime I got near the heat of the stove, which was often because I was also making Honey Lemon Apple Jam and Yellow Tomato Soup. Ugh.

Well, it's nearly 22 hours later. My hands feel "warm" and I don't dare bring them near my eyes to wipe away an errant eyelash. One test Ray suggested was to stick a finger in my mouth, under my tongue. If I feel the chili burn in my mouth, the capsaicin is still there. Because I was gloveless AND used my hands to pull out the seeds and ribs, I think my episode ended up being quite unpleasant. Here's hoping it improves (it's not fun wearing a glove to put in contacts.

And to add to your amusement, Ray took me up on the suggestion of comicking my peril. Pain doesn't hurt when it's funny.

Chili pepper image courtesy of flickr user huntz. Some rights reserved.


Baking for Parties

This past Saturday I had 45+ cupcakes in tow with me as Ray and I ventured over the river and through the woods to our very good friends' house for their daughter's first birthday. When I originally made the lavender honey nut cupcakes, I was texting back and forth with my friend, who seemed interested in the cupcakes. So I did what any sane (or maybe not so much) person would do and offered to bake the same recipe for her daughter's birthday.

I took Friday off 1) to recover from a nasty cold and 2) have more time to bake. I stuck with the original recipe, and purchased frosting pigment to make the cupcake frosting a lovely lavender. The recipe yields more than noted in the book, so 4 batches (which should have yielded 48) landed me with 55+ cupcakes. More than I planned for, but all the better to practice frosting.

I tinted the frosting and got to work making a rose design on each cupcake. I found out quickly that a firm hand and steady pressure was needed to make the lined crisp—otherwise the frosting looked a little droopy. By the end of my mega frosting session (making the buttercream 3 times to cover all the cupcakes), I had a steady hand and was able to knock out multiple cupcakes without stopping.

At the party everyone loved the cupcakes, which had me a little taken aback. Okay, wait, maybe that wasn't it. What surprised me was when people assumed I was a professional baker. They wanted to know where my shop was. My shop? You think I'm a professional? This was the first time I had ever colored frosting!

But it was great to hear. I'll be baking cupcakes for Ray's 30th birthday party in November, and I've made it clear to friends that I'm interested in cupcake-catering their parties as well. I'll be interested to see where this goes.

One thing to note: Strangely enough, a majority of the cupcakes' frosting paled to a light shade of blue-lavender.  I was very surprised, but they did ride in the back of the car in a clear container. My thought is that they were somehow light-struck. Has anyone had experience with this?


Carrot and Red Thai Curry Soup

Before heading out to Denver for vacation, I made an Indian Spiced Carrot Soup with Ginger, from Bon Appetit magazine. It was tasty enough, but I wasn't thrilled with it. I nearly tripled all the spices to get it to the level I wanted, and even then—after using an immersion blender—I just couldn't get it velvety smooth. But we ate it anyway.

Last weekend we had friends over, and I took another stab at the soup, this time channeling Denver's Root Down restaurant and its Organic Carrot & Red Thai Curry Soup. That soup was luscious, smooth as velvet and with the perfect pow! of curry. It was love at first sip.

Here is my version of the soup, using the original Indian Spiced Carrot Soup with Ginger recipe as a humble base and taking it from there. My one suggestion is to constantly taste and season the soup to your liking—that's the only way you'll get this to work for you.
The soup paired with my good friend Derek Lee's
recipe for Caramelized Onion Bread Pudding
• 2 teaspoons dried coriander or 2-3 teaspoons of coriander seeds
• 1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
• 3 tablespoons sesame oil
• 1/2 teaspoon curry powder (preferably Madras)
• 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
• 2 cups chopped onions
• 1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled, thinly sliced into rounds (about 4 cups)
• 1 lime, zested
• 1-2 tablespoons red curry paste; more to taste
• 4 cups Thai culinary stock (can be found at Wegmans) and 1 cup vegetable stock (if you can't find the Thai stock, use 5 cups of vegetable stock)
• 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
• 1 cup light cream

1. Grind coriander and mustard seeds in spice mill.
2. Heat sesame oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add ground seeds and curry powder; stir 1 minute.
3. Add ginger; stir 1 minute.
4. Add onions, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until onions begin to soften, about 3 minutes.
5. Add red curry paste, thoroughly incorporating it. Add the lime zest and carrots. Cook down for 5-10 minutes, until carrots are tender.
6. Add 5 cups total broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer uncovered until about 30 minutes. Cool slightly.
7. Working in batches, puree in blender until smooth. If you want the soup to be super smooth and light, then pass the soup through a mesh sieve, pressing all the liquid out of the solids. Discard the solids (or keep to make carrot ravioli) and put the liquid back into the pot.
8. Add lime juice, and more red curry paste to taste. Add 1 cup of cream if you'd like it a little creamy, more if you'd like the soup to be thicker. Finish with salt and pepper.