The Friday Chef

A la carte

<< April 2008 >>
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
 01 02 03 04 05
06 07 08 09 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30

If you want to be updated on this weblog Enter your email here:

rss feed

Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Spotlight on Zgeist Returns

It's that wise-cracking, book-reading, gourmet-cooking dude  we've all come to know as simply "z".  You've enjoyed Zgeist Returns' recaps, now enjoy learning more about the man behind the mac.

Name:  My real name? Would Batman or Spiderman take off their masks and reveal themselves to be Bruce Wayne or Peter Parker? I'm ZGeist. The Z-man. Z. The Omega Man, if you will. I'm supposed to just give away my alter-ego name of David Reese. No thank you.
Age:  I'm the spirit of the age, the ZeitGeist. That's pretty much a timeless concept that is ever adapting to the times. I do know some people are in their young, young 40's, like 42 or 43 and that's a perfectly good age.
Location:  Dallas, TX.
Where were you born?  Dallas, TX

Do you wear a cowboy hat and boots?  No, I'm not even a dime-store cowboy type. I'm not a lover of the romanticized Texas mystique. I'm a city boy. Although, if you take me and throw me out in the middle of some ranch for a week, before it's over I'll be drinking Lone Star, singing all the songs from Viva Terlingua non-stop, and my accent will become 70% thicker and more folksy.

What did you want to be when you grew up?  Ahhhhh...I wanted to be the center-forward of the first U.S. Men's National Soccer team to win the World Cup which I projected to occur approximately in 1994 or 1998. I would have made my mark, though, as an international player well before the 1990 World Cup. My fallback was teacher/soccer coach.

How'd that work out for you? Well, my parents were perfectly supportive of my fantasy until it appeared to them that it wasn't a fantasy. That started the phase of acting like I was going to college for "legitimate" reasons (business degree, pre-law, engineering, anything computer) instead of focusing on Literature. I tore my ACL, liked to drink, smoke, frequent strip bars, and generally hang around sleazy people so soccer sort of got thrown out eventually. Through a long and winding non-sensical path, I ended up working for an ISP like about 3 months before the big explosion happened and everyone wanted that there Netscape like they heard about on the news. I ended up specializing in customer services and network services and was on-board for an extremely fun and fulfilling ride. I ended up running a national call center of about 300 employees before I was "re-organized" out of a job.
What were mealtimes like for you as a child?  As a pre-teen, mealtime was a family meal. I was an only child so that meant my parents and me. Mealtime also indicated the opening of nightly debate time between my father and I while we watched the national news.
Mealtime was not always the most enjoyable because unlike my mother and myself, my father hated food or anything out of the ordinary. He would have been perfectly happy eating a piece of steak, green beans & new potatoes, and a piece of bread until the end of time.

What's your favorite meal these days?  Since I've been going to Culinary School, I tend to get to eat a lot of more exotic "culinary" things at school so I don't feel much incentive to prepare or go out for a special meal. On the other hand, since I've taken some Sommelier classes as part of my culinary education, I'm always looking for a reason to drink some good wine. So my favorite meal focuses on a good wine and foods that go with that wine. Copper River Salmon, Roasted Chicken, etc.

What are you planning to do with your culinary training? What I'd like to do is open up a small wine bistro with good food, good deserts,  and even better wine. 10 to 15 tables. A nice bar area. Specialized wine services. Open up early on Saturday and Sunday mornings for English/Scotch/Irish/ breakfast and European soccer (see, soccer still is in there)

Do you watch any cooking shows? I watch cooking shows. I particularly like Alton Brown - he's approach is a very male/techno with minimal mythology - of which there is way too much in the cooking world. I liked watching some of the Mario Battalli shows - particularly when he was in Italy. I like that show on PBS, America's Test Kitchen (they are also involved with Cooks Illustrated and the Best Recipe series). I can always watch a Julia Child show although the ones toward the end of her life could be a challenge to get through. The Japanese Iron Chef was greatness. The American Iron Chef - even with Alton - not so much. Anything with Anthony Bourdain is usually greatness

I do like the restaurant makeover shows - they appeal to my interest in the business aspects of running a restaurant. I was worried about Gordan Ramsey's show until I saw the English version first. I like both the English and American versions of the show. I also like Ramsey's F-Word.

Now, for humor and berating the televison personality purposes, you can't beat Rachel Ray. She is, without a doubt, the most reviled person in professional kitchens (or student kitchens) in the U.S. Giada de Laurantiis is another one that I find particularly comical.

As for competition shows - Top Chef is by far the best judge of talent but i don't watch it that much. Hell's Kitchen is just a reality show with so called "cooks" in the cast. The main point seems to be to allow Ramsey to yell insults at the contestants. It can be funny sometimes but  I don't really even classify it as a real cooking show.

Did you ever like any of your school photos?  No, I hated them all and actually avoided having my senior picture in my high school yearbook.
What was your first date like?  Ahhhh..first date. It was terrible. I was terrible. I wasn't a jerk or anything, I just didn't know what I was doing and it was so uncomfortable.

How did you meet Mrs.Z? This is one your audience should appreciate. We met over AOL chat. We were both dating people off of AOL and got to know each other and hang out together but we didn't actually date each other for almost a year after we met. At some point, we decided we were the only two sane people who populated AOL and decided to give it a go and it worked out fantastically.

I love how you think I have an audience.  I do love your story, though.  AOL chat isn't completely of the devil, after all!
What is in your vegetable bin?  Some squash, cucumbers, bell peppers, green onions, broccoli, cabbage
What color is your car? White - the ghost of my father got to me when I purchased this one
Are you having a good hair day?  I just clippered my hair down to the skull so yeah, I'm having a good day. Don't have enough to have a bad day.
What is your favorite cologne?  Creed (the fragrance not the band) Vetiver or Himalaya.
What is your middle name?  Alan

I've never heard you mention kids or pets.  Do you have any? No kids...4 dogs, rescue mutts that are total pain in the asses and we wouldn't know what to do without them if they were gone for more than a couple of hours no matter how much we bitch about them.
What type of books do you like to read?  My fiction appreciation has been severely affected by studying Literature in grad school. I can barely stand to read anything that isn't "Literature" which makes me a snobby elitest reader who can drain all the fun out of anything written in about 30 seconds. So I end up reading things by James Joyce, Faulkner, Thomas Mann, Ray Carver, Flannery O'Conner, etc.
Growing up, I loved reading Tolkien, King, sci-fi/fantasy stuff. In the last couple of years I've developed an appreciation for some graphic novelists - particularly Alan Moore (Watchmen in particular). I also think that Neal Stephenson is a very interesting writer in sci-fi. William Gibson is also still interesting to me in his post cyber-punk manifestation. Terry Pratchett's stuff is a lot of fun.
If you were a literary character, who would you be?  The Gray Mouser....maybe, that sounds like the most fun. (for those of you who are lost look up Fritz Leiber or Lankhmer. Turin Turamber seems to catch my self-importance and self-pity nicely. Shakespeare's Prince Hal....although most of my friends would liken me more to Falstaff

Name your favorite place in the world. I loved Rome when I spent a summer there as a kid (I was 7 and my dad was working in a Texas Instrument plant outside of the city with some new equipment). Italy was a wonderland although my Mom kept a pretty tight rein on me from wondering around too much on my own. There is no way, though, with a 7 year old that Rome doesn't make a huge impression on the mind. The Vatican, Colosseum, Martyr bones, Spanish steps, Gelato, real Pasta and real Pasta sauces (sorry Mom, but canned tomatoes never cut it before and certainly not after Rome), Trevi Fountain, etc.

What is your favorite type of cookie?  So many cookies, so little time. Ahhhh...all things being equal I'd probably pick Oatmeal Raisin but Chocolate Chip is a very close second.

 Who should I interveiw next? FF174

Well, I hope I can twist his arm into doing one.  Thanks for being such a good subject, Z.  I enjoyed learning more about you and I'm sure my "audience" did, too.

Posted at 08:28 am by ChefGrace
(1) Shout Outs  

Tuesday, April 29, 2008
For Richer, For Poorer

I'd like to wish a happy anniversary to the big O today, on our second year wedding anniversary, ( or 17,550.87 hours).  The gift traditionally associated with a second anniversary is cotton. 

I say screw that!  Bring me some flowers and chocolate!

Well, I got half my wish.  They're so beautiful, I don't even miss the chocolate, (much).

Thanks honey!

I'd also like to thank the internet for making this love connection possible.

Coming tomorrow:  Zgeist's long-anticipated interview!

Posted at 08:38 am by ChefGrace
(1) Shout Outs  

Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Kids Say the Freakin' Darndest Things

I wish I'd written down all the funny things my kids have said over the years.  There are some gems that have slipped by, forever gone from memory.  One good thing about having a blog is posting stuff that would otherwise fade into oblivion. 

Here's a recent favorite:

My oldest daughter, (she's 8), and I were recently looking through a scrapbook my mom had put together of things that were mine when I was a kid.  We came upon a page with some pictures and stickers, which she pointed to.

Daughter:  "Woah! That guy is freakin' ugly".
Me:  "Um.  That's JESUS".
Daughter:  "Ooops."

Posted at 09:40 pm by ChefGrace
Care to Comment?  

Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Back to the Carmel

So, I said I'd come back with some ideas on how to use the confiture de lait, (milk carmel sauce), but I didn't want to do so until I had a chance to try a couple of new, (for me), recipes, so I tried the following recipe and have posted the results.  Watch for another one soon.

I've heard about alfajores for many years, but never had the pleasure of trying them.  After making this last batch of carmel sauce, I decided it was high time to whip up a batch.  Yes, I realize that I'm making a Latin American cookie with a French filling, but frankly, I can't think of a better ambassador for world peace.  The only real difference here between the traditional Alfajores de Dulce de leche and the ones I made is the addition of vanilla.  And really, how could that not be a good thing?

I filled a few of these, and my husband and I ate them before I realized I'd forgotten to put the powdered sugar on top.  D'oh!

Also, I skipped the coconut, as I'm the only one in my family who likes it.

I filled a couple of the cookies with a lemon filling, (made from powdered sugar and lemon syrup), which my kids enjoyed.

These are a bit more trouble than the cookies I usually make, but were certainly worth the effort.  I have another recipe that eliminates the need for rolling and cutting out the dough, so I'm going to try that version next time. 

Here's the recipe I used:


1/2 C. butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tablespoons cognac, brandy, or rum
2 tsp. lemon zest
1 1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
powdered sugar
coconut (optional)
Desired filling.  (Dulce de Leche is traditional, as is jam.)

Heat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.

In large mixer bowl cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until well combined. Add cognac, vanilla, and lemon.  Mix well.

Sift together flour, cornstarch and baking powder, then add to butter mixture and combine until the dough comes together.

Roll out dough over a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut, using round cookie cutter  and place on greased baking sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes depending on the size of the cookies. Cookies should still look pale. Remove from cookie sheet immediately and set on cooling rack.  One cool, place a tablespoon or so of filling between two cookies, then press gently together.  Roll sides in coconut if desired, then sift powdered sugar over the top.

Posted at 10:08 am by ChefGrace
Care to Comment?  

Monday, April 21, 2008
Where In the World?

I was working on a geography-related post, but had to set it aside to finish another project I wanted to post the results of, and still wasn't able to get it all together today. 

I'm glad there's always a tomorrow.

Meanwhile, enjoy this geography game.  It's a fun way to test your knowledge and to perhaps learn a thing or two, which is never a bad thing.

edited to add:
My score, the first time around:

You completed 6 of 12 levels.

You scored 21950 points on World Capitals (Medium).

Meh. I think I'm going to review my world map, then try again tomorrow.

Posted at 09:58 pm by ChefGrace
Care to Comment?  

Next Page