Hey everyone, for the sake of simplicity, I'm compiling all my blogs into one at blog.nermo.com.

Everything from this food blog - past and future - can be found at http://blog.nermo.com/?cat=13 so bookmark that link if you want to keep up with the Mockeel food blog, or just read it all if you have the patience.


JOURNAL: Dairy Aisle Dating

There’s nothing better than listening to a conversation between a food-blogger and a relationship-blogger, constantly trying to fit what the other is saying into their own framework.

I was out to lunch with my friend Amanda today, discussing the pig roast we’re going to on Sunday, and as I recounted the menu, she perked up when I mentioned the “three-cheese” mac and cheese, and I had to interject.

"People get so excited when they hear 'five-cheese mac,' or 'seventeen-cheese mac,' but it isn’t an indication of quality. It just shows that the cook lacks commitment."

Amanda asked if that means an ideal mate makes mac and cheese with only one variety of cheese, and I said, “no, as in dating, you wouldn’t want someone who has only ever been involved with one cheese, but at the same time, you don’t want to end up with someone who’s already been up and down the dairy aisle."

PHOTOJOURNAL: Morning After Parents' Dinner

iPhone Photo

Those bacon wrapped asparagus were too good not to make more. They're a perfect breakfast when dipped in the yolk of a soft-boiled egg with a toasted roll on the side.


PHOTOJOURNAL: Birthday Breakfast

I woke up, an hour after turning thirty (if my mother is correct in her recollection that I was born at 6:03 am… and if we ignore the time difference between where I live and where I was born) craving a rare roast beef sandwich.

Here’s what I ate:

That’s ciabatta with
(in descending order):

Sambal Oelek Mayo
Peppadew Peppers
Roma Tomatoes
Butter Lettuce
Rare Roast Beef
Red onion
Horseradish Mayo

RECIPE: Misfortune Cookies

For guests at my 30th birthday party, I threw together a batch of "misfortune cookies." They are fairly conventional cookies, except for the fortunes. I tried a few recipes, but they didn't satisfy me, so I made my own.

Favorite fortunes included:

"No matter what you do in life, you’re still screwed thanks to global warming."
"See your doctor. It’s not 'just a rash.'”
"Made in Taiwan."
"This fortune will self-destruct in 5 4 3 2 1…"
"Nobody loves you. They only tolerate you."
"Despite what you’ve been told, you actually do look fat in those pants."
"Allergy Warning: cookies are processed in a plant that manufactures products with dairy, peanuts and raw sewage."
"Congratulations! You chose the poison cookie."
"It’s just a matter of time before you get caught."
"Your thighs won’t appreciate you eating this cookie."
"It’s not me; it’s you."
"As you read this, small Gypsy children are picking your pockets."

Fortune Cookie Recipe

2 large eggs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon triple sec
3 tablespoons water
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar

1. Heat an ungreased, non-stick griddle pan to between 350 and 375 degrees.
2. Whisk together egg, oil, vanilla, triple sec and water.
3. Continuing whisking, while sifting remaining ingredients into bowl.
4. Whisk until batter is consistent and transfer into a measuring cup or other item with handle and spout.
5. Pour 4-inch circles of batter onto griddle (see note).
6. Flip cookie when the first side starts to turn golden and remove when golden on both sides.
7. You’ve got about 15 seconds to make the fold before the cookie gets brittle.
a. Place a fortune in the center of the cookie and fold the two opposite sides together, pinching where the edges meet between your left thumb and index finger.
b. With the cookie hanging down from where you are pinching, pull down the two corners with your right thumb and index finger.
c. Place in an empty egg carton to hold its shape while cooling.

Note: I found the easiest way to get a perfect 4-inch circle was to pour batter onto the griddle pan, spread it thin with the edge of a spatula to just larger than needed, and after about 15-seconds, place a 4-inch round cookie cutter into the batter and tear away the excess. Even with the waste pieces, I was still able to get over a dozen cookies from this recipe.


MENU: Dinner For The 'Rents

here's what I made:

Amuse Bouche: Maple glazed nuts
Appetizer: Crispy bacon-wrapped asparagus
Salad: Caprese
Main: Roasted Chicken
Side: Mushroom Mac and Cheese
Dessert: Granola-topped blueberry compote and yogurt (made by TSB)


Maple glazed nuts were obscenely easy. I tossed six cups of mixed nuts in a mixture of 1/4 cup Vermont pure maple syrup, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of herbes de Provence, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne and some salt and pepper. Baked at 350 for 15 minutes and stirred half way through.

The chicken roasting technique, learned from Jacques Pepin, was a blessing. At more than 4 pounds, the bird was cooked to perfection in just over a half hour! The trick is to cut out the spine (I used a cleaver, but recommend shears), lay it out flat, seer the “inside” of the bird over high heat for 5 minutes and then throw the sauté pan into a 450 degree oven for a half hour.


JOURNAL: Planning Dinner For My Parents

My folks are visiting from Vermont for the first time and I am making dinner for them and TSB (they like her very much) tomorrow.

I need to come up with a menu. They have more traditional tastes, and when I visit, I end up making wacky Asian-inspired feasts that they like, but would never order, so this time I am trying to tone it down a bit.

All I know for sure is that we're starting with crispy, bacon-wrapped asparagus. After that, I am thinking a warm salad and a cold salad, some meaty entrée and dessert. Let’s take a look and see what is in season right now…

A google search for “produce currently in season northern california,” led me to this chart, which was less than inspiring, but interesting. Apparently everything BUT asparagus is in season right now.

I also learned that September is National Mushroom Month, so maybe I’ll dig around for some recipes…

Mushroom Risotto Recipes from Tyler Florence, Emeril, Wolfgang Puck, Giada De Laurentis, Rachael Ray, Bon Appetite, Gourmet, Gourmet and Gourmet. Emeril does a great looking Pumpkins stuffed with mushroom risotto and roast duck recipe, but my dad doesn’t eat anything in the squash family.

Mushroom Mac and Cheese would be good. Maybe I will mess with my magical mac to add a few fungi for flavor.


San Francisco Summer Menu

This won't be anything like what you are expecting. It's really cold here during the summer. Last night TSB was buried under paperwork, so I offered to make a hearty spread of comfort food to help sustain her working into the night. Without a plan upon reaching the grocery store and without really realizing it until I started to cook, I made all sorts of traditionally fall foods. Ultimately it makes sense, considering that it will be cold and damp here for the next few weeks, but it feels odd to make this stuff in the summer.

Rustic whole-grain bread
Steamed artichoke with garlic butter
Salad of arugula, grilled peaches and goat cheese with a balsamic vinagrette
Mashed sweet potatoes and squash with roasted parsnip and grilled apple
Penne in a cream sauce (loaded with shallots, sun-dried tomatoes, red belle peppers, mushrooms and chicken apple sausage)

In an attempt to motivate each other to blog, TSB and I decided to both blog our SF Summer menus. Read all about her's here.


JOURNAL: A Proper Cheese Plate

Cheese plates, like the one I am eating now, are simple elegant and delicious, but there is a formula for maximum enjoyment. Here's my first draft of the perfect cheese plate.

Texture1 soft1 semi-soft1 hard
Flavor1 strong1 medium1 mild
Source2 cows 1 sheep or goat

STARCH1 white bread1 dark bread1 cracker or other

FRUIT1 stone fruit1 berry1 other

1 fresh1 dry1 processed

PROTEIN1 hard, salted meat1 nut

ADDITIONAL ITEMS honey, balsamic reduction, herb butter, maple butter, olives, pickled vegetables, etc.

As an afterthought, I dug up some articles on making a cheese plate:

Wikihow says have a theme [disagree], go with odd numbers [agree], Arrange your cheeses from mildest to strongest [lame], Add accompaniments [duh], and Pick a drink to go with it [to which I must ask, "only one?"]

Chow says diversify by regional origin as well as texture and source [good point, but not as crucial unless you are trying to impress someone, and it won't work], choose 4 cheeses including a semi-firm [I still like odd numbers and am fine with a semi-firm or semi-soft], plate according to strength of flavor [still lame, and I'm not going to arrange my cheese in a straight line regardless].

Artisinalcheese.com is broad but boring and commercial.

Food Network divides cheeses by production style (fresh, washed-rind, bloomy, pressed, and blue) which I found thought provoking.

LINK: Molecular Mixology

Forbes posted an article about a month ago on using molecular gastronomy techniques in cocktail creation (with recipes). I've toyed with this a bit myself, so I'm looking forward to seeing what they have and stealing some of their ideas.

Thanks to Catlin for sending me the article.