Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Menu!!!

Happy Memorial Day to all! One of my absolute favorite things to do during memorial day and during the summer months is to barbecue. However being an apartment dweller with strict codes against grills, fire, and smoke you kind of have to adapt. So here goes my Memorial Day cook out with gourmet sliders, pasta salad, and home made baked beans.

First things first, getting the beans going. You're going to need:

36 ounces white, navy, or canellini beans (in a jar.)
About 2 ounces of chopped pancetta if you cant get pancetta substitute bacon.
About a 1/4 chopped onion.
About 1/3 cup of catsup.
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard.
About a 1/3 cup of brown sugar.
About a teaspoon of mustard powder.
Salt and pepper to taste.

In a pot, start by sauteing the pancetta and onions on medium heat for about 4-5 minutes. Now this gets difficult so follow along carefully (lol), add the beans and the rest of the ingredients. Stir together and cook over low heat for about an hour and half stirring occasionally. Wheeew!!! Pretty hard right! (lol)

Now on to the pasta salad, mmmmm yummm! You'll need:

1 package Fusilli (spiral) pasta.
3/4 pound cherry tomatoes halved.
1 bell pepper red, green, or yellow its up to you.
About a half pound good salami chopped.
About a half pound good Swiss chopped.
About a 1/3 cup of parmeggiano cheese shredded or ground.
Salt and pepper to taste.

For the dressing;
1 cup extra virgin olive oil.
1/3 cup red wine vinegar.
1 clove of garlic minced.
fresh or dried parsley, thyme, and oregano.
Salt and pepper to taste.

Start by boiling the water for the pasta. While the water is boiling, mix the ingredients for the dressing and set aside allowing the flavors to come together. Now follow the directions on the package of pasta for cooking time, but here is a trick I figured out for a perfect aldente pasta. Cook the pasta 1 minute to 30 seconds less than the time on the package and you'll get a perfect aldente pasta every time. When the pasta is cooked drain the pasta and do not rinse, I repeat DO NOT rinse (never rinse pasta). Add the pasta back into the pot and mix the dressing while the pasta is still hot, set off to the side and let cool.

When the pasta has cooled add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. If the the goodies don't seem to be getting coated very well just add a little olive oil and mix thoroughly. Cover tightly and refrigerate. Don't worry about leftovers, pasta salad lasts about three days, so enjoy!

For a good slider your going to need:

1 pound 80/20 ground beef (80% beef and 20% fat).
1 egg
Anywhere from a 1/3 to a 1/2 cup of bread crumbs
2 teaspoons salt.
1 teaspoon of pepper.
1 teaspoon of paprika.
1 teaspoon of mustard powder.

Mix all ingredients together, slowly adding the breadcrumbs. You're looking for a smooth moist texture that doesn't stick to your hands. Once you have the right consistency, break the meat up into 8 even piles. Form said piles into big meatballs, and then smash down into patties. Something to consider, when burgers cook they shrink by about 7 to 10 % so make yor patties slightly larger than your buns. Now I used a local brioche bread cut into rounds, but if I'm being honest I didn't quite get the effect I was looking for. In theory challa bread or some gourmet rolls, or if you can find slider buns would be perfect.

Now cooking a slider is a bit of a science. For a tender medium to medim-well cook the sliders on high heat either on a griddle or in a non stick frying pan, for about a minute and a half on each side, and then finishing them in an oven at 350 degrees for about three minutes. Pull them out of the oven and then add your cheese. Place them back in the oven for about 1 more minute or until the cheese melts. Again don't just follow my recipe take some creative liberties, but if you want to do the prosciutto cotto and provalone burger just saute the prosciutto in a pan until crispy. All thats left is assemble and serve! So whatever you have today, enjoy Memorial Day and remember to always drink responsibley.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday's Flavors

Konnichiha everyone, today's awesome flavor comes to us from Tokyo, Japan and is one of there most popular beers. I'm talking about none other than Asahi Super Dry!

Toady's Flavors:

Asahi Super Dry

Producer: Asahi Breweries

Location: Tokyo, Japan.

Types and alcohol content:

Asahi Super Dry- 5%
Asahi Z (dry lager)- Unknown
Asahi Stout- 8%
Asahi Gold (lager)- Unknown
Asahi black (black lager)- 5%

Fun Facts: Asahi Breweries headquarters was designed by a French designer by the name of Philippe Starck. The Beer Hall is one of Tokyo's most recognizable modern structures.

My opinion: I have personally had Asahi Super Dry and Asahi Stout. The super dry is quite crisp and refreshing and perfect for a spring or summer day, where as the stout is rich flavorful and great during the winter and pairs very well with rich soups and stews. If anyone out there has tried the others and knows where to get them or the alcohol content please let me know in the comment section below.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dry Rubs and Marinade's

So it's coming up on that time of year again where the temperature heats up, the sun is out, where summer is all but upon us. I figured with memorial day coming up I would dedicate a few posts to the love of summer foods and barbecuing. However lets start of at the beginning with Dry Rubs and Marinades.

A dry rub is any mixture of ground spices that is rubbed on raw meat before it is cooked. The secret to dry rubs is to cover the meat enough that when you cook it, it forms a nice crust or coating. It is in my opinion that all dry rubs should have both salt and pepper and those two spices should be the basis for any rub. For example, if I were to do a chicken fajita, I would rub the chicken with a mixture of salt, pepper, chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, and ground red pepper. If I were to do say a pork rump for a pulled pork, I would use salt, pepper, cumin, brown sugar, a touch of ground chipotle pepper, and a touch of mustard powder.

Another factor to consider with a dry rub is time. How long does one rub before cooking? Well the rule I go by is, at least one hour before cooking. The hour allows the rub to set and begin to incorporate into the meat, but the time frame is entirely up to you. I find with dry rubs, the longer the better, up to about a day or so. Again always consider the dish your trying to make before doing a dry rub, you don't want to use the wrong spices and wind up with a not so tasty dish.

Marinating is the process of soaking meat in a seasoned and often acidic liquid before cooking. Before continuing, lets go over some acids, and I'm not talking about batteries. In the food world there is quite a range of acids, but the most used are citrus fruits i.e. lemons, limes, and oranges, and vinegars such as white wine, red wine, balsamic, sherry, cider, malt, and many more. Sometimes wine itself is used as the acid in a marinade, and I've even heard some grill masters use soda like coke and root beer in their marinade's. One of my favorite acids to use though has to be the almighty beer, and a good ale can add so much flavor to a marinade. The use of acid is to break down the muscle fiber to allow more liquid to enter the meat creating a tender juicier meat. However using acid is some what of a delicate science and using too much and for too long can easily ruin the meat.

Most marinade's also contain oil, generally olive oil, and both fresh and dried spices. A general rule I live by is two parts oil to one part acid and some times less. Lets take those same fajitas again only this time as a marinade. I would keep the same dried spices (chili powder, paprika, cumin, ground red pepper, salt and pepper,) but then I would add olive oil, fresh garlic, a touch of fresh cilantro, and for the acid a mix of orange and lime juice and a touch of tequila and beer. As you can see a marinade can wind up having a ton of ingredients, and the trick is to balance them out, and to be honest I can't tell you how much of anything I use. A good rule to have though, is your only coating the meat and not drowning the meat, so if you use the 2 parts oil 1 part acid rule in conjunction with the coating rule you'll be on your way to creating your own flavorful marinade's in no time.

I leave you with a few flavor profiles and ingredients you can use for your own dry rubs and marinade's.

Dry Rubs

Your looking for sweet and smokey savory flavors use any of these ingredients together to create your own dry rub, also salt and pepper are a given in all.
Chili powder's, mustard powder's, brown sugar, regular sugar, garlic salt and or powder, cumin's, paprika's, oregano's, and dried ground chillies i.e. chipotle, ancho, gaujillo and pasilla.

Basically looking for the same as BBQ minus the sweet so all the ingredients listed above will work well for Mexican flavors minus the sugars and mustard's.

Your looking for savory crisp Mediterranean flavors.
Oregano, thyme, rosemary, paprika, cumin, white pepper.

This is actually a wide range of flavors from sweet spicy hot savory and more.
Oregano, basil, chili pepper, 5 spice, ginger, anise, coriander, sugars, and garlic salt or powder.


Using the same spices, adding olive oil, ales, sodas, specialty vinegars such as balsamic, and apple cider, fresh chopped garlic and even some citrus juices will create a wonderful marinade.


Same spices, tequila, light beers like corona, and dos xx, lime, lemon, orange, fresh garlic, fresh cilantro, fresh oregano, olive oil, fresh chilies i.e. poblano, jalapeno, habanero (be careful), and serrano chilies.

Again using the same spices, adding olive oil is a must, lemon juice, fresh garlic. I use these three ingredients, salt and pepper for my New York strip steak marinade. Also white wine vinegar, and red wine vinegar.

Same spices, olive oil, sesame oil, vegetable oil, fresh basil, fresh garlic, fresh ginger, fresh chilies like szechuan and padi, soy sauce, hoisin, sriracha, rice wine vinegar, fish sauce,and way too many more but this should get you started.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday's Flavors

Spring time is in full effect and I can truly say I'm excited.  It's the perfect time of year for one of my absolute favorite beers. Pyramid's Audacious Apricot Ale, for some this beer may be to sweet but you can check out Pyramids other great offerings below.

Toady's Flavors:

Pyramid's Audacious Apricot Ale

Producer: Pyramid Breweries

Location: Seattle, Washington. Sacramento, California. Berkeley, California. Walnut Creek, California.

Types and alcohol content:

Audacious Apricot Ale- 5.1%
Hay Wire Hefeweizen- 5.2%
Thunderhead Indian Pale Ale- 6.7%
Curve Ball Blonde Ale- 5%

Fun Facts: Pyramid Breweries has 4 restaurants or "Alehouses" in Seattle, Berkeley, Walnut Creek, and Sacramento. Pyramid also has a taproom in Portland.

My opinion: I have only had the Apricot Ale and the Hefeweizen, and I love both. But like I said, if sweets not your deal I recommend their award winning Hefewiezen. If any of you have had the Blonde or the IPA, comment below and let us know how they are. By the way, all are wheat beers except for the IPA.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Top Twenty Love Jams You Need In Your Ipod

In my Outfitting the Evolved Bachelor post, I suggested using music for ambiance. From personal experience here are twenty of the best smooth jams for creating that... how do I put this delicately, loving atmosphere.

20. Barry White- Can't Get Enough Of Your Love Baby


19. Luther Vandross-Can I Take You Out Tonight?


18. The Delfonics- Hey Love

17. The Temptations- Just My Imagination


16. Four Tops- Ain't No Women Like The One I Got


15. Frankie Valli- Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You


14. The Isley Brothers- Voyage To Atlantis

13. Seattle Art Of Noise- Moments In Love


12. Sade- Smooth Operator


11. Otis Redding- These Arms Of Mine


10. Boyz II Men- I'll Make Love To You

9. Teddy Pendergrass- Love TKO


8. Aerosmith- I Don't Want To Miss A Thing


7. Marvin Gaye- Distant Lover

6. Bootsy Collins- I'd Rather Be With You


5. Kool and the Gang- Summer Madness (extended mix)

4. Al Green- All I Need

3. Isley Brothers- Between The Sheets


2. Marvin Gaye- Lets Get It On


1. Lenny Williams- Cause I Love You

Let me know what you guy's think or if maybe you feel I missed one.

Monday, May 17, 2010

No More Chefs!

So they say, “The way to a man's heart is through his stomach,” and contrary to popular belief the same can be said for women. Now I know we have all taken a lovely woman to an expensive restaurant, ordered a nice bottle of wine, broke our budget, all to impress them, but our logic is flawed. See, while were thinking “yeah she loves us,” she’s thinking, “I’d love to date the chef.” Well fellas its time to give ourselves the home court advantage. Now I know some, possibly most of you are thinking “dude I can’t cook, I mean I reaaaalllllyyyy can’t cook!” I’m here to tell you with a little bit of help from yours truly, dude, you really can. Some of you are still skeptical at this point but follow my logic.

1. She is already at your house. I do believe that’s a plus in anyone’s book.

2. Even if the meal turns out to be a disaster, she will love the effort and get a good laugh, and comedy is very good in a dating scenario.

3. (You can look this up) Pizza and a good bottle of wine is one of the best aphrodisiacs.

So no matter which way you look at it, I’ve got you covered from all angles.
So what are we making? An appetizer of mussel and clam saute, followed by swordfish, baby white potato's, prosciutto wrapped green beans, and a brown butter, lemon and chive sauce.
Now don't be overwhelmed the whole process including taking about 50 pictures only took me about 2 hours and you in theory will be cooking for less people. With that being said lets get started!


Sea food
1/3 pound fresh mussels
1/3 pound live clams
2 fillets of sword fish

1/3 to 1/2 pound baby white round potatoes
1/3 to 1/2 pound green beans
1/4 pound cherry tomatoes
2 Lemons
1 head of garlic (bulb) and 1 clove of garlic
Handful of Chives

1/4 pound thinly sliced Prosciutto Crudo (Parma Ham)
Olive oil
White cooking wine

Lets start with our Mise En Place which is french for things in their place, better known as prep work. Start by refrigerating the seafood this is VERY IMPORTANT. Be sure to keep the clams in the water you get them in like figure 1.


Next toss (coat) the potatoes in olive oil and salt. Place the potato's in a low rimed baking dish seen in figure 2. Now take the head of garlic and slice the bottom of the visible cloves seen in figure 3 and 4. Place in the middle of the potatoes and voila the potatoes are prepped! Now about an hour to an hour and a half before you serve the main course roast them in the oven at 350 degrees or until cooked and soft.




Next is the green beans. Get a pot of water boiling. Meanwhile snap the stem ends off of the green beans as seen in figure 5. You don't have too, but I snap both ends of them, it helps to cook faster. Once the water is boiling place the green beans in and boil for about 6-8 minutes. You're looking for them to be vibrant green, pliable but still have the slightest and I do mean slightest crunch in figure 6. As soon as they're done, drain them into a colander and run them under cold water to shock them and stop the cooking process as seen in figure 7. This step allows them to retain their bright green appearance and prevents over cooking.




Once the green beans have cooled we saute them with butter and salt for about 3-5 minutes like in figure 8. This is to infuse more flavor into the beans and to basically finish cooking them. Let cool once again. While the are cooling get your prosciutto laid out in strips as seen in figure 9. Once cooled, grab a handful and lay it in the middle of a strip of prosciutto. Roll one end over the green beans and tuck, then continue to roll until they are wrapped (check figures 10-13 for this process). Put them to the side and we will move on.







Around about an hour before you cook the sword fish lay the fillets on a tray and marinate them in olive oil, salt, lemon, and a few whole chives as seen in figure 14. Cut the ends off the chieves to open them up and release the aroma. Also at this time we will make the brown butter. In a small sauce pot melt a half of a stick of butter and bring to a boil. As it begins to boil skim the fat (the white stuff) off the top. Be careful here you want brown butter and not burnt butter. Once you see the butter start to brown take it off the heat and let it cool. Once cooled ad a table spoon or two of chopped chives.and a tablespoon of juice from a lemon. Stir in and let set.


OK it's go time! Time to make our appetizer. Cut about 10 to 12 cherry tomatoes in half and chop the clove of garlic. In a pan, saute olive oil, the halved cherry tomatoes, and the chopped clove of garlic over medium low heat as seen in figure 15. When the tomatoes become soft and the oil turns slightly reddish, add about a 1/3 cup white wine. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Mean while in a pot add the clams drained of course and the mussels and heat on medium high heat with the lid on for about 7 minutes or until all the clams and mussels open. Once that's done drain them and add them to the saute pan in figure 16. Stir them around for a few minutes. Pour it all into a dish and serve!



Now that you've eaten the app' it's time for the main course. Heat up your stove top grill or griddle, place fillets on the griddle. Now here's the difficult part, I cooked this dinner in Italy so my fillets may be a little different so ask your fish monger about who long to cook these for. What you're looking for is a nice soft flaky texture. While the fillets are cooking in a saute pan heat up the green beans for about a minute on all four sides to warm the beans and give the prosciutto a crispy texture, and over low low heat warm the brown butter sauce. At this time your potato's should be ready and you're ready to plate as seen in figures 17-20!

Start with a nice drizzle of the brown butter sauce on the plate. Next load up some potatoes on top. Place a green bean bundle next to the potatoes. After that place the sword fish on top of the beans and potatoes, finish off with a drizzle of brown butter and a quick squeeze of lemon juice and bam your the man. All I can say is eat and enjoy and maybe you just might do some impressing. Also pair with a nice crisp chardonnay and your golden!





Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday's Flavors

As an evolved bachelor its time to step our beer game up. Don't get me wrong I love a 40 of Miller High Life just as much as the next man but lets be real, there's millions of beers out there just waiting for us to taste them. So here begins my new segment "Friday's Flavors." Every Friday you can look forward to a new beer to try after that long day of work. Truth be told some beers may not be in your area and for that I apologize, but try some of the restaurants or even talk to your local grocery store owner to see if they can order a case, you'd be surprised as to what asking can get you. But enough with the politics, lets get to the beer shall we.

Toady's Flavors:


Producer: The Chimay Brewery

Location: Belgium

Types and alcohol content:

Chimay Rouge (red)- 7%
Chimay Blanche (white)- 8%
Chimay Bleue- (blue)- 9%
Chimay Dore'e- (golden)- 4.8%

Fun Facts: Chimay also produces cheese. Founded in Belgium at Scourmont Abbey, it is called a Trappist beer because it's produced in a Trappist monastery, and the water used is from a well inside the monastery walls. The leftover beer mash is then used to feed the cows which produce milk they use to make the four cheeses they offer.

My opinion: I have tried the Rouge, Blanche, and Bleue. All of which are exceptional beers but the blanche is my favorite for it's dryness and it's crispness. However if you like a sweeter beer the Rouge is for you, or if your an ale man it's all about the Bleue. I've had them in bottles but once was lucky enough to find the Bleue on draught, if your as lucky to find the same I suggest you seize the opportunity.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Are you a HUNTER?

Up until a few thousand years ago man, as in mankind was a society of hunters and gatherers. The forest was their mall and their settlment was the corner store. In most cases the men went to "the mall" to hunt animals for food and clothing while the women gathered fruits, nuts and other household items at the "corner store." Even though throughout the millenia the roles seem to have reversed, it got me to wondering. In today's society is shopping hunting or gathering?

The reason for such an odd question derives from an article I read from the UK. It said more men are living the single life, and unfortunately they seem to be suffering for it. A study showed that they are gaining weight and are more susceptible to depression due to poor eating habits and an inability to cook and shop for themselves. The cooking part I can understand even though I dont find it hard, but thats probably because I've been in the industry for 10 years. But shopping!! Really!!

Most of you probably would say that shopping is gathering. Thats why women do it best, it's in their DNA. And if you don't beilive the DNA thing, look at how women shop. They enter a store and peruse the racks for the right items just as if they were looking through bushes for the right kind of berries. A women can go through two or three stores before finding anything she feels is acceptable. And you call that the best!

For me personally, shopping is hunting. I already know what I want even before I leave the house. I know it's general location in the store. And as soon as I see it I buy it, then I bring it home for display. Do you see that? It's quick, consice and some might even use the hunting expression, "it's a clean kill."

I guess what I’m trying to say is, shopping isn’t difficult. Treat it as a hunt. The hunt is still in the male’s blood. We still hunt to this day and I don’t mean literally, like with a shotgun and bird shot. Look at it this way, when a group of single men go out for a night on the town, they pack together to hunt for women, hence the birth of the wing man. Or you could take my father for example. He loves to travel and he will spend days hunting for the right price on trains, planes, hotels etc. Or you can even take me for example. I’m hunting for more readers using social networking sites as veritable traps and short enticing phrases as bait. As you can see, even throughout history it’s all relative. Whether you believe it or not, you actually have shopping in your blood, it's genetics, it’s coded somewhere deep in your DNA. No longer shall you refer to it as shopping, you are hunting, and you can leave the "shopping" to the women!

Just some helpful hints to get you started in the world of shopping (excuse me, hunting). Do some online searches on what your looking for, hunt for the best prices and then pounce. And just an idea, maybe while hunting for lets say… that new button up shirt you like, it might turn out to be bait for an even better catch, if you catch my drift.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Top twenty Badass movies of all time!

To be quite honest as an avid movie fanatic, this could really be a list of about 400 to 500 movies. These of course are all just my opinion, and who knows maybe over time I will create such a list but for now here are the top twenty.

1. Pulp fiction- I love Quentin Tarantino, hell I could have almost made this whole list about him but in the interest of fairness, I’ll skip the Tarantino countdown. This, I believe, is his best film ever and deserves its place right here at number 1 (or is it Reservoir Dogs, lol).

2. The Dark Knight- Heath Ledger’s sadistic, dark, and quite frightful performance as the Joker had to be one of the best, if not, the best movie villain portrayals I have ever seen. He truly will be missed.

3. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly- So far ahead of it’s time it’s unreal. An Italian director, Italian actors, American Leads, Spanish extras, and filmed in Spain , gave this Spaghetti Western all the ammunition it needed to make this list. Oh yeah, and Clint Eastwood as Blondie… priceless.

4. Inglourios Basterds- Like I said before this could have easily been about Tarantino, but to boldly rewrite history deserves credit, and Christoph Waltz performance as Colonel S.S. Hans Landa was absolutely riveting.

5. Snatch- The best Guy Ritchie flick, with one of the best British casts. With the addition of Benicio Del Toro, Dennis Farina, and Brad Pitt, who plays a barley understandable gypsy, makes this an all time classic. And lest we forget… some of the best nick names in movie history; Frankie Four Fingers, Brick Top, Bullet Tooth Tony and Boris the Blade.

6. Scarface- Al Pacino as a coked out Cuban immigrant gangster, and his rise to power. Need I say more?

7. The Godfather- Hands down the best mob movie ever made. The casting of Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, and Robert Duvall all bring impeccable acting to this timeless film.

8. Desperado- What more can you ask for? Big guns, big action, and a sultry, sexy Salma Hayek. Robert Rodriguez is one hell of a director/ writer.

9. The Untouchables- Another Brian De Palma film (Scarface.) Starring Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Robert De Niro, and Andy Garcia, taking place in Chicago during prohibition is one of my all time favorite films.

10. Tombstone- Probably Val Kilmer’s best performance of his career. As Doc Holiday he steels the show, but Kurt Russell plays a pretty badass lawman himself. I too, must give credit to lesser known actor Michael Biehn, for his performance as badass bad guy Johnny Ringo.

11. The King of New York- What can I say, this movie catapulted itself into cult status right out of the gate. This is truly a badass movie featuring an all star cast, with the likes of Christopher Walken in possibly his best role ever.

12. The Boondock Saints- A movie with very limited release in theaters due to the columbine shootings, but gained a massive cult following by word of mouth, this completely original story is not one to miss. (If you have seen it, check out the sequel just released on DVD.)

13. Good Fellas- Joe Pesci won an academy award for supporting actor in this gritty mean mob tale about Henry Hill, and rightfully so. This is one of Martin Scorsese’s masterpieces.

14. Sin City- A Robert Rodriguez/ Frank miller production based on Frank Millers graphic novels, features an amazing cast, gripping stories, and stunning visuals. Can’t wait for the sequel or prequel.

15. North by North West - By one of the best directors of all time, Alfred Hitchcock. This movie should be in every man’s home. If you haven’t seen it I suggest you do!

16. Silence of the Lambs- Suspenseful, scary, intelligent, riveting, and all around damn good movie.

17. 300- A beautiful, stylized, all be it gory journey into one of the most badass battles of all time.

18. Die Hard- I loved this movie. I love this movie. I will always love this movie and this may be weird but I watch this movie every Christmas.

19. Heat- Pacino and De Niro under one roof, we all knew this was going to be an instant hit. Also featuring a huge, A list, cast with Val Kilmer in his second greatest role, Jon Voight, Tom Sizemore (before he really lost it,) and Natalie Portman.

20. Terminator 2: Judgment Day- Of course this was back when Arnold didn’t say much (nor was he a pathetic governor) he just shot up every thing in his path. I’m not gonna lie I cried at the end, don’t ask me why but I did.

Again,there is so many more moveis,so throw out the ones you think should have made the list below.