About Dicing an Onion

Incidentally, this technique also works with shallots.

And for the record, it is exceedingly difficult to dice an onion on camera, either slowly or gracefully.

About Removing Kernels from an Ear of Corn

About Chilled Corn Soup with Adobo Swirl

Guess what! It's finally sweaty as balls out there in the un-air-conditioned world! And the corn is as high as an elephant's eye, which I don't really understand, because I'm pretty sure corn isn't native to the same places elephants live. So unless, I don't know, the circus rolls into town (BOOOOOO CIRCUS!) and the elephants arrange some sort of massive jailbreak (AND WHO COULD BLAME THEM) and end up tromping through the cornfields of Iowa, how the hell would you know that the corn is as high as an elephant's eye? I mean, I suppose you could make a rough guesstimation as to the height of an elephant's eye, but Americans did not put a man on the moon with guesstimations. Much.

ANYWAY, the point is that corn is 10 for a dollar at my local Safeway, and although corn on the cob is DELICIOUS, it also crams all in between your teeth which is annoying. So I figured, why not make some corn soup? Oh yeah, because it's sweaty as balls out there in the un-air-conditioned world. Then how about we make some chilled corn soup? BRILLIANT!

For four bowls you'll need:
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped sweet onion (like a Vidalia or a Maui or even a Walla Walla)
  • 4 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 4 ears of corn; I used white corn but any color will do ya)
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth for you vegetarians out there)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup (or less) water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons adobo sauce from canned chipotle chiles
  • Fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
(In case you were wondering, what makes this soup instead of the more traditional corn chowder is the lack of cream in the recipe. Also probably some potatoes or something. Whatever, like you care.)

First off, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan or dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the oil gets shimmery add the onion and a small pinch of salt and sauté until soft, about 4 minutes.

Next add the corn kernels, broth, and 1 tablespoon of the lime juice. Bring the mixture to boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the corn is just tender. This will take about about 3 minutes.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until almost smooth. IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE (although it's not to the side, which I guess makes it more of an IMPORTANT WITHIN-PARAGRAPH NOTE): When pureeing hot liquids in a blender, make sure you take the little nubbin thing off of the blender lid. I don't really know what that's called, if it's called anything at all, but it's the thing that leaves a giant hole in the lid. And now you're probably asking yourself why you'd want a giant hole in the blender lid, because isn't a lid supposed to, you know, seal shit up? And this is true, but if you don't have a giant hole in the lid when you're blending hot liquids there would be no place for steam to escape and with no place for steam to escape you get HOT STEAMING EXPLOSIONS. Hence, the Industrial Revolution.

But, you still have a giant hole in the lid which can (and does, believe me) lead to splash back, so just hold a kitchen towel over the hole to catch any soup that might be organizing a massive jailbreak.

Pour your batches of pureed soup into a large bowl, then stir in the remaining tablespoon of lime juice and up to a cup of water (just add a little at a time to thin the soup to your desired consistency). Season up your corn soup with salt and pepper to taste, then cover the bowl and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours or overnight.

Now, this might not taste like a whole lot of fabulousness now but just before you're getting ready to serve your soup whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil together with the adobo sauce. Drizzle each bowl of soup with the adobo oil and then garnish with a healthy amount of cilantro.

I guaran-fucking-tee it: FABULOUSNESS.


About Soy-Lemon Dressing

They say that variety is the spice of life, and if that's the case then what the hell is actual spice? I'll tell you: DELICIOUS. So sometimes for a little variety I'll whip up a little dressing with which to dress my vegetables, because as we've learned variety is spice and spice is delicious. Ergo, variety is delicious.

Or something.

This is a really easy dressing that's also really delicious on a whole host of steamed or roasted vegetables, especially broccoli and cauliflower with their nooks and crannies that just ADORE soaking up a delicious dressing, particularly a dressing that is salty and sweet and tart like this one is. (HELLOOOOOOO, run-on sentence!)

So, for 2 pounds or bunches or whatever configuration your particular vegetable has chosen to take, you'll need:
  • 3 tablespoons to 1/4 cup of soy sauce (add more if you'd like it saltier)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic (raw if you like the bite, or you can boil the whole cloves in water for 15 seconds or roast them with your veggies if you'd like something a little mellower)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
Mix all of this together. And when you're done, it pretty much looks like this:

I know, FASCINATING. But EASY. Because it's all ready to drizzle over your veggies or toss with your veggies or whatever method it is that you choose to combine the dressing with the veggies.

About Roasted Broccoli

Like most boys, my boy doesn't like a whole lot of vegetables. So when he finds one he actually does like, we tend to eat a lot of it. Like, a whole lot of it. And so it is with broccoli, despite what the greatest Powerpuff Girls episode IN THE WORLD would have you believe. What, you don't believe me that "Beat Your Greens" is the greatest Powerpuff Girls episode IN THE WORLD? Fine. Watch for yourself:

Incidentally, did I tell you that my boy got me the complete Powerpuff Girls series on DVD for my birthday? BEST. BOYFRIEND. EVER!

Wait, what were we talking about again? Oh right, broccoli. And how there's only so many times you can eat steamed broccoli before your eyes roll back into your skull out of boredom. I have no idea what that means. But I do know that steamed broccoli can get pretty boring after a while, which is why we roast it!

Roasting vegetables in general is pretty awesome, because the high and dry heat in your oven caramelizes all the sugars and crunchifies all the tender bits and everyone knows that it's the caramel and the crunch that makes Twix the most delicious candy bar OF ALL TIME. So preheat your oven to 450 F and gather your ingredients:
  • 2 medium heads of broccoli, florets separated into reasonably large chunks
  • A couple glugs of extra virgin olive oil
  • A few pinches of salt and pepper and maybe some crushed red pepper flakes and lemon zest
  • Maybe a couple cloves of garlic
Toss all of this together in a large bowl until the broccoli is well coated.

Then lay out your florets in a single layer on a half-sheet pan.

Then put the pan in the oven.

Hey look, you're cooking!


After about 15 minutes, flip your florets. (If you are making a sauce or a dressing or whatever to go with your roasted broccoli, now's the time to remove the garlic cloves. If not, keep calm and carry on.)

And roast them for another 8 minutes.

And you're done! Your broccoli is officially ready to serve, but if you're feeling saucy (heh), why not drizzle your florets with a little balsamic vinegar? Or some soy-lemon dressing? Either way, YUM.


About Cornish Game Hens a la Brasa

The one and honest-to-Santa only thing I miss about the suburbs is our weekly dinner at El Pollo Rico. And I know we already talked about how blah and boring chicken is, but holy shit this stuff is like crack. In slaughtered chicken form. Seriously, I know I'm the Queen of Hyperbole and all, but this shit is fucking awesome. It is so fucking awesome that last time Tony Bourdain was in town he ended up there just because every single person in the greater metro DC area was all, "GO THERE."

So he did. And he liked it.

And missing my weekly Pollo Rico dinners as I did, I decided (duh) that I would try to recreate a pollo a la brasa at home, except I don't have a giant rotisserie. And I keep using cornish game hens every time I make this. Why cornish game hens? I don't know, because they're cute. Also, how does one say cornish game hen in Spanish? Ah, córnico juego gallina. Thank you, Google Translate.

So, for the córnico juego gallina, you'll need:

2 hens, halved. (Or fine, use a whole chicken, quartered, if you want. Or a bunch of random chicken pieces. Either way you should have about 3 1/2 pounds of poultry total.)

How do you halve a cornish game hen? I'm glad you asked! Just pull out your handy dandy kitchen shears. Then use your handy dandy kitchen shears to cut out the backbone (save these for stock). Then take your chef's knife and slice the rest of your bird in half, right down the middle of its breastbone. (And feel free to trim off any excess fat or skin. You won't need them for nothin' 'cept cellulite.)

Throw these into a gallon-sized freezer bag and pour the marinade on top.

What's in the marinade? I'm glad you asked! You'll need:

1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
5 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Dump all of this into a blender and blend until smooth. It's not 100% exactly like Pollo Rico's marinade, but it is about 83.2% like Pollo Rico's marinade. And damn good in its own right.

So now that you've dumped your marinade in with your poultry pieces, seal up the bag, squeezing as much air out as possible.

Throw the bag in a bowl in case of leakage (heh) (also, ew), and throw the bowl in the fridge. Actually, no, don't throw the bowl in the fridge. More like, place the bowl in the fridge with authority! And let it sit in the fridge and think about what it's done! (Which is die so that you can eat a tasty dinner.)

You're going to want to let that marinate for AT LEAST 8 hours, but more like 24. FOR FLAVOR. And every time you go to the fridge for, I don't know, a glass of water or a piece of string cheese or whatever, give the bag a little shake to redistribute the marinate. Gotta keep your dead chicken on its toes.

When you're ready FOR FLAVOR, take that bag of poultry parts out to your blazing hot grill, throw your poultry parts onto your blazing hot grill (but not the bag, because that would be melty (in a bad way)), and char the hell out of your poultry parts until the internal temperature of your breasts (heh) reach 160 F on your handy dandy instant-read thermometer.

Pull your meat off the grill (heh) (also, ouch) and let it rest about 10 minutes before serving. And then serve!


About Seafood Paella

Listen, I know what you're gonna say and I don't want to hear it. I don't care if this recipe is nothing like the paella you had that summer you backpacked through Spain, or how this recipe is a complete disgrace to the word paella, or how Jose Andres will probably pack up his restaurants and move out of the city as soon as he finds out that I'm cooking this recipe so close to Jaleo. If you want to go out and spend the money on a paella pan and a fire pit in your backyard so's you can be all snooty and traditional about it, then fine, but me? I live in a one-bedroom apartment and I don't have all day and sometimes I just want a down-and-dirty seafood and rice recipe and this one happens to be really, really good. So if you're offended by that I suggest you move along to some other webpage. I suggest pr0n.

If you are still here, hi there! You're my favorite, did you know that? And it might interest you to know that I adapted this particular recipe from this one over here, and after several tweaks and twanks (I don't know) I think my version is ready for prime time. I have a big ol' 13-inch Lodge cast iron pan that works perfectly for this, and even gets the bottom all crusty and delicious, but if you don't have a big ol' 13-inch Lodge cast iron pan then maybe that 15x10x2-inch glass baking dish thing will work? I don't know. Try it and report back.

Here's the shopping list for a family of four, or two with plenty of leftovers (and I mean PLENTY; you should see my fridge right now), or a double date perhaps:
  • 2 links of chorizo, casings removed
  • 2 chicken thighs, cut in half to make 4 pieces
  • Salt, pepper, and paprika
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced (or pressed through that garlic press I keep telling you to buy)
  • 1 cup of arborio rice (I know, I know, but it's what I have, and it works gosh darn it)
  • 1 jar roasted pimientos, diced, with the juice (pimientos are the same as red peppers, so if you can't find the one the other is fine)

  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed saffron threads
  • 1 cup bottled clam juice
  • 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • Assorted seafood
Okay, let us talk about this one for a second. What kind of seafood should you use? I don't know; whatever you want. Here I have sea scallops, peeled and de-veined shrimp, king crab legs, and squid.

But you could also throw in some clams or mussels or lobster or whatever looks good to you.

How much seafood do you need? I don't know that either. Just think about your four big portions of paella and how many of each seafoods you want in each portion. So like, if you want two scallops then you need 2 x 4 = 8 scallops. And you thought you'd never need math.
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • Lots of chopped parsley
  • Lemon wedges
Preheat your oven to 450F. Put Dr. Horrible in the DVD player and hit play.

Generously season all sides of your chicken thighs with salt, pepper, and paprika, and let that sit while you cook up the chorizo. And sing along to Dr. Horrible.

And how do you cook up the chorizo? Well, you heat up your pan over medium-high heat, and then you throw the chorizo in the heated pan. (How do you sing along to Dr. Horrible? Loudly, and with feeling.) As the chorizo cooks, make sure you use a wooden spoon to break it up into little pebble-sized pieces. When it looks browned, push the meat pebbles all around the edge of the pan to make some room in the middle, and add your chicken thighs skin-side down.

Brown the chicken on all sides, which should take about 5-6 minutes per side. Then remove your meat-stuff to a plate.

Throw your onion into the pan and saute those until they're beginning to brown and turn translucent. Then add your minced garlic and cook that down a minute more, until the whole mess looks like this:

If you happen to have a bottle of sherry handy (which of course I do) add a glug or two and scrape up and brown bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. If you don't, then no big whoop, it's not like I told you you'd need it or anything and it's not important enough for me to make you go out and buy an entire bottle of sherry for just a glug or two.

Now stir in your rice, roasted pimientos with juice, and the saffron.

Add the clam juice, chicken stock, and chorizo, give everything another stir, and bring that to a simmer. Then turn off the heat and arrange your chicken pieces in the pan so that they're all nestled in amongst (heh) the rice and veggies and whatnot.

Cover your pan with foil and stick it in the oven. After about 10 minutes, pull out the pan, remove the foil, take a nice handful of your chopped parsley (making sure you save some for later) and throw it in. Give everything another stir (you'll notice that the rice is still quite moist) and rearrange your chicken, please.

Re-cover the pan with foil and put it back into the oven for another 20 minutes. Then, pull it out AGAIN, and remove the foil AGAIN, but don't give anything another stir! Instead, nestle all of your seafood pieces into the rice, and sprinkle your peas all about the pan. Be as artistic as you feel necessary.

Re-re-cover the pan with foil and re-put it back into the oven for another 15 minutes, or until the seafood is just cooked through.

Pull out the pan, for good this time, and remove the foil. Let it sit for 10 more minutes to let it finish doing its thang, sprinkle the top with your remaining parsley, and serve with your lemon wedges.

And think fondly of fake Spain.