Monthly Archives July 2010

No One’s Recipe: The Cheesy Blaster

There are some creations that transcend the ethereal plane and are the embodiment of madness. Nothing is more apparent than this abomination that my girlfriend crafted for me, clearly under the direct influence of C’thulhu and his earthly representative, Tina Fey. Yes, this is the Cheesy Blaster.

Read More

Top Chef DC Recap: A shift in weaponry

This season is finally starting to heat up as the chef’testants get whittled down. Sure, there are a few more chefs that don’t seem quite up to caliber as the others, but there isn’t some chasm separating the different skill levels. Also, Amanda really needs to stop dressing like she got all of her clothes at Hot Topic circa 2004.

Jumping straight into the first challenge is the quickfire and Padma brought along a young friend, and I mean young – Aaron Schock is the youngest member of the House of Representatives and represents the 18th District of Illinois. He’s also the first member of the United States Congress to be born in the 80s! Thanks Wikipedia!

Read More

Baker’s Recipe: Cornbread

Cornbread is a highly regionalized side. In some realms, it’s little more than a bread made with corn while some places treat it more akin to a sweet, quickrise bread. As someone who grew up in the northern reaches, I grew up with cornbread that was a sweet side dish to plenty of different meals.

Unlike many breads, cornbread can be mixed and baked in under half an hour which keeps it from being too time consuming with long breaks for letting the dough rise and rest before being pounded back into submission. Cornbread is a great side to any chili, barbecue or even macaroni and cheese.

Read More

Top Chef DC Recap: Power Struggle in the Frost Kingdom

My DVR went wonky (possibly demonic possession) and wouldn’t let me pause or rewind, so I ended up missing the first few minutes of the episode and got tossed in with people talking about testicles marshmallows. But the challenge looked like a great one: each chef was given some rare ingredient ranging from the rather common foie gras and emu eggs to the delightfully absurd duck testicles and llama!

Read More

The Cook: An Introduction

Unlike the calculating Baker, the Cook is not afraid to embrace the chaos of a kitchen. Wielding both fire and steel, the cook harnesses the elements to cull new and intense flavors from common ingredients. The role of the cook is not one to be taken lightly, it requires fortitude and a bold spirit of exploration. The more experienced eschew classic recipe in favor of creativity and inspiration, relying on their skills with the various implements to chart a course through the unknown. But before starting your next adventure, make sure you have the appropriate questing gear and items!

The Cook’s Pantry

Butter – One of the most basic of all ingredients and the foundation for the class
Eggs–
As valuable as it is versatile. Make sure to always have a fresh dozen on hand.

Olive oil–
Available in many varieties, generally Spanish, Italian or Greek. Use more expensive richer flavored bottles for fresh applications, rather than ones that involve cooking.

Garlic –
an ingredient suitable for almost any dish, or for warding off vampires.
Peppers
– They come in many different colors, flavors, and pack different levels of punch, much like elixirs of dragonsbreath. Similar to those elixirs, all good adventurers know not to leave camp without some.
Onions –
It takes a stout warrior to stand up to the stinging effects of the onion. Chill them before you slice to reduce the tears.
Stock –
Quite nearly “primordial” broths perfect for soups, sauces and flavoring. Buy lower sodium varieties to control the amount of salt in a dish, though homemade is preferable.
Potatoes –
The most versatile vegetable in the kitchen, with nearly endless permutations and uses.
Ground beef –
Anything more lean than 90/10 (fat ratio) will become really dry when cooked. Combine leaner and fattier combinations to find the right balance.
Chicken breast –
Does everything taste like chicken or does chicken taste like everything? Either way, no refrigerator is complete without it.
Bacon–
While adventuring, the first thing any traveler worth his salt should pack is bacon. When cooking, always make it crisp. The world has little use for limp bacon.

Pepper
– Black pepper adds depth to any dish. Pepper mills are nice for table service, but for use in recipes have ground pepper on hand. It tends to be finer and allows for easier measurement.
Garlic Powder
– Best used when you want to add garlic flavor to a sauce or dish, but don’t want guests finding pieces of garlic. Perfect for rubs and vinaigrettes.
Salt
– The most villified ingredient other than high fructose corn syrup and anything with the word “hydrogenated” (transfat!) in it. Essential for bringing out the best flavors in other food.

(Note: all dried spices other than salt, are indeed perishable. As time passes they lose their potency. For best results, replace them every six months. Salt will last indefinitely.)

These simple ingredients are the foundation of all cooking. Without these cornerstones, you have little hope of every making anything that resembles the epic designs of this craft.

Read More

The Cryomancer: An Introduction

Where the Chef and the Baker deal within the realms of fire and flame, there is another class that takes the opposite approach to the crafting of food. Hailing from the northern reaches, the Cryomancers are gifted at balancing the hot and the cold in creating their crafts. Capable of cooling tongues, the Cryomancer is the bridge between the chef and the baker, both an artist and a scientist that transforms the mundane into the extraordinary.

But the life of the Cryomancer is one wrought with conflict, for their creations are desired where they last the least.

The Cryomancer’s ‘Fridge
Milk – one of the two foundations of the craft that must be tempered with care
Cream – the other half of the foundation, a balance of taste and texture
Eggs – an essential bonding agent
Sugar – white sugar shall suffice, but the Cryomancer is always willing to try new methods
Vanilla – one of the two classic flavors
Chocolate – the yin to the vanilla’s yang, both chunks and cocoa powder
Yogurt – a fascinating concoction that allows for a very different dessert
Fruit – while fresh is often preferred, the Cryomancer can make use of fruits regardless of appearance

Read More

Top Chef DC Recap: Cause & Effect

Another week and another episode of Top Chef DC aired. Sadly, this episode doesn’t give much for DMs wanting to improve their games. Hell, I didn’t even find the food exciting this week. But there is one thing about this show that’s entertaining as all hell: Angelo.

Here’s a guy who is either a strategic genius or just likes messing with people. I mean, he turned Tamesha into his Sith apprentice! Or maybe he’s just messing with her. Or maybe Angelo just wants to hook up with her (he has a kid, so I’d assume he has a wife too…).

Read More

Top Chef DC Alignment Graph: Week 5

Before you ask what happened to week’s three and four let me offer this explanation. DeLorean, 1.21 gigawats, Libyans.

Week 5 brings about the fifth elimination, but the sixth chef to leave since last week saw a tandem of cheftestants removed from the competition. Given that we’ve had over a month of quickfires and challenges all of the contestants have now been placed on the alignment graph in some way, and a few that we place early on continue to move as they reveal more and more about themselves through the weeks.

Read More

Chef’s Recipe: Chili con carne y maíz

Chefs always have the same goal in mind: making a delicious meal. But there are two different ways of approaching this, some chefs believe in using as many of their tools and toys as possible no matter what the dish is. Other chefs know that every item that is used, must also be cleaned, washed and put away. So in honor of the the One-Pot-Chef, here’s a great recipe for Chili con carne y maíz – meat chili with corn!

In some realms, chili is defined as just being meat, peppers and spices and the sheer notion of even thinking about adding tomatoes or beans to the dish is an abomination worthy of being exiled. As someone from the Northern Snow Forests, I think of chili as being jammed pack with meat, peppers, tomatoes and beans! It’s the all inclusive single pot dish that is easy to make but it does take a while to cook it all together.

Read More

Magic: the Gathering Archenemy Impressions

As someone who has been playing Magic for over the last decade and a half, I’m amazed at how often Wizards releases a product that actually gets me excited. When Vanguard first came out in 1997, it didn’t really work out since no one could get more than a few of the cards. Then 11 years later, Wizards of the Coast tried again with the release of Plane Chase which is nothing more than an official version of Chaos Magic. My playgroup loves it since it helps level the playing field for some decks, or just forces games to go faster. So when Wizards announced their newest offering of games, I was excited.

Archenemy takes the natural progression of free-for-all Magic and gives the players a single target: the Archenemy. Basically, it’s Magic meets a World of Warcraft Raid Deck, and it works surprisingly well. Unless the guys you play with are complete dicks and learn to make decks to destroy you.

Read More