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The Antlered Chef - Impressions and Expressions of Ijon
October 2nd, 2003
08:51 pm

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The Antlered Chef
A side effect of my now being flattened is that I'm finally taking my first steps in the gentle art of cooking. Cooking, I say!

Up until September, the food I could prepare amounted to army "cooking" (i.e. manipulating canned food, frying canned meatloaf [Richard Levy!], stealing ready food from the mess hall), making a basic tomato-cucumber-and-onion salad (nicely cut, though), and heating up ready-made food. If pressed, I could produce reasonable French fries and a basic scrambled egg.

But now I cook! I started out modest, perfecting my Famous Tuna Salad, but last night I made arnulf and myself a real dish: Cognac chicken livers with fried onion. Sure, it's not a very complicated dish or anything, but I actually prepared it, A to Z! kritzit provided the theory, but the execution is all mine.

My mom would have probably risked a minor cardiac arrest if she were to see me cleaning the raw liver I bought. I had never touched raw meat before. Surprisingly, I did not feel a great aversion or anything; I simply began preparing the dish... I actually enjoyed the whole thing, too! New experiences, I tell you.

More surprisingly yet, it came out yummy! I suspect it was beginner's luck, but I managed to keep the liver very tender, and to apply seasoning with gusto but did not exaggerate. J loved it. He only complained that he's too stuffed for seconds. I waved that aside, naturally, and he ate his seconds like the good moose that he is.

I foresee adventures ahead.

Ijon's Cognac Chicken Liver
Ingredients:
  • 400g to 500g fresh chicken liver
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 3 spoonfuls of Cognac
  • fresh-ground black pepper
  • powdered dry garlic
  • fresh-ground chili pepper
  • hot paprika

Instructions (simple enough for beginners like me; forgive the verbosity if this is obvious to you:
  1. Prepare a dry mixture of seasoning to roll the liver in: take a large bowl and grind some black pepper and chili pepper into it. arnulf and I firmly believe there is no such thing as "too much garlic/pepper", but your palate may disagree, so figure out your own quantities in preparing the mixture. Add the dry garlic powder and a smidgen of paprika, too. Mix these in the bowl well.
  2. Cut the onion to slices, cut each slice in half, and then separate its rings from each other. No need to cut these any smaller. Cut up the garlic cloves as well, but save them for later. Heat some oil in a large frying pan or a skillet, and put the onions in (not the garlic). Fry these on a low flame while you do other things. Remember to check up on them!
  3. Take the chicken liver (if you kept it frozen [you shouldn't], thaw it before starting this whole thing) and put it in a different large bowl. Take a cutting board or just work off the bowl, and use a sharp knife to clean the livers. You want to remove the white stringy things clinging to it, as well as the dark red spots on some of the pieces (those are congealed hemorrhages, if you must know). This should 10-15 minutes. Remember to check up on the onions!
  4. When the livers are clean, drop them into the seasoning bowl and roll them in it nicely. If you realize now that there is too little substance to nicely touch up the livers, add some seasoning. The idea is to keep most of the seasoning from sticking to one piece, but it's okay to have minor adjustments.
  5. By now you should have nice, soft, onions in the pan. Ensure that there is sufficient oil in the pan, and drop the livers into it. Now follow their progress closely. Getting them nice and tender requires good timing. Keep to a low-to-medium flame, and stir them around with a wooden spoon or equivalent. When the livers lose their red-brown color and become pinkish-beige, add the diced garlic. If you don't like encountering distinct bits of garlic with your food, cut it up very small. We like our garlic!
  6. Add the Cognac to the pan (don't do it earlier or it would evaporate too soon), stir, and keep watching.
  7. As soon as the liver pieces are just about to lose their pinkish hue, take 'em out. If you want to get it just right, give individual attention to each piece, and take it out when its time has come.
  8. To really appreciate this, eat as soon as all the pieces are ready!
Have fun!

Current Mood: pleased
Current Music: Chick Corea -- Rendezvous in New York

(15 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments
 
[User Picture]
From:shunra
Date:October 2nd, 2003 11:00 am (UTC)

A fabulous cooking resource (which lets you search by ingredient)

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is here.

I find that the greatest challenge in cooking is finding enough variety - the actual skills involved are obtainable by practice, which is something that daily eating tends to require.
[User Picture]
From:shapirac
Date:October 2nd, 2003 11:41 am (UTC)

My favorite resources

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http://www.pesto.co.il/
Recipes forum in Tapuz: http://www.tapuz.co.il/tapuzforum/main/forumpage.asp?id=75
http://www.hashulchan.co.il/Content/Recipes/Recipes.asp
http://eat.epicurious.com/

Cooking is fairly simply until you try making delicate cakes, stuffing things that don't look stuffable (like cabbage), making gniocci, or translating exotic recipes from a different country where they have very different ingridiants available.
[User Picture]
From:omerm
Date:October 4th, 2003 02:44 am (UTC)

Re: My favorite resources

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...for values of different countries equal to US...


I have to admit that once I had basic cooking skills (thanks to my shmoopy), I had managed to cook to myself and not being a. exploded by a junk ingredients of the junk food, and b. starved to death by basic inability to start thinking about cooking.</b>

These cooking skills are acquired; 4 years before I would do either one of beforementioned options, or (surprise, surprise) prepare something inconcievable, such as Scrambled eggs with bacon and Tariyakki.

Do not try that at home.

[User Picture]
From:arnulf
Date:October 2nd, 2003 03:53 pm (UTC)

Kind moose,

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Your proclamations of being a rookie in the culinary arts (all with calling kind experts for deep-lore minutae) have held their plausibility up until I enjoyed your creations firsthand.
You, my friend, have either deceived us with impressive success, or have an unusual knack for the trade. Either way, I nominate you for the official position of the flat's chef.

(BTW: I think the exact state the onion sickles should be in when they are liverated is referred to as 'translucent'. I wonder how they caramelize if you add a spoonful of sugar at that stage...)

J.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:January 22nd, 2006 06:13 pm (UTC)

Re: Kind moose,

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this is good
From:hopletonbrown
Date:October 2nd, 2003 04:56 pm (UTC)

Sounds delicious!

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Well, it sounds like you're off to a good start on your culinary voyage. As a fellow novice in the sacred art of food, I salute you!

Try making pasta with a basic tomato/garlic/chilli type sauce. It's difficult to fuck-up pasta.

Although, having said that, I managed quite spectacularly to do so on my first few goes...
[User Picture]
From:ukelele
Date:October 2nd, 2003 05:23 pm (UTC)
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tasty salad, French fries, and fried onions...more is needed?

Well, OK, maybe steak. And something with chocolate. But after that, what more?

I like fried food....mmmmmm, fried....
[User Picture]
From:gaal
Date:October 2nd, 2003 06:10 pm (UTC)
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Steak is luckily easy to make!
[User Picture]
From:wildernesscat
Date:October 3rd, 2003 05:56 am (UTC)

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I'm still waiting for someone to come up with a cookbook for real dummies like me. I mean - the basics - How do you cook plain white rice? How do you know when cooked potatoes are ready? What makes some surfaces stick like crazy (no matter how much oil you appliy) and others stay squeaky clean? Why do the ingredients of a chinese vegetable dish need different amounts of cooking time? Why do some things fry into crispy crunchy pieces and others achieve the consistency of breakfast cereal? etc. etc. etc.
[User Picture]
From:shapirac
Date:October 3rd, 2003 09:07 am (UTC)
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1. For basic persian rice: put 2 tbsp of oil in a pot on high fire, wait until it gets hot, but not boiling (just put your hand just above it to feel if it is hot. Put 1 cup of rice in, stir for a minute or two until the rice is coated with oil, put 2 cups of water. wait until the water boil, lower the fire, cover the pot, wait 15 minutes. close the fire. wait 5 more minutes before you open the pot.
If my Shmoopy could do it, so can you. Don't try it on other rice, they need different amounts of water and cooking times.

2. try driving a fork through the potato, if it feels soft enough to eat, its ready.

3. The magic word is teflon.

4. Some vegtables are "hard" - like onion and zuccini. They need lots of cooking. Some things are medium, like mushrooms, they get cooked faster. They also shed lots of water, which prevent onions from frying, so you must put them in after the onions are fried. Some things like green onion and herbs don't need cooking, just some quick heating - so you throw them in at the very end.

I can't recommend any cookbook that explains this. Either find a grandmother or a cooking friend. Some things can only be taught by watching someone else do them, and then have him watch you and stop you from making mistakes.
From:hopletonbrown
Date:October 3rd, 2003 05:57 pm (UTC)

Basic persian rice

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Dude, if you're gonna make persian rice, you gotta do it properly! That 'cateh' stuff is easier to make, sure, but it just doesn't compete with the proper 2-stage boiled/steamed 'poloh', IMHO.

Definitely agree that cook-books don't tell you the half of it...
[User Picture]
From:wildernesscat
Date:October 21st, 2003 12:59 am (UTC)

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The problem with cookbooks, is that they take certain cooking knowledge for granted. They use vague terms, like "add salt according to your personal taste" (what is my personal taste?) or "don't let the vegetables overcook" (when does that happen?) or "fry until the pieces look golden" (how golden is golden?) etc. etc. etc. In short, trial and error is back in town...
[User Picture]
From:shapirac
Date:October 21st, 2003 01:11 am (UTC)
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Definetly trial and error.
For one thing, people do have their personal taste, so they can't really say how much salt you like.
For other thing, not all cookware is the same. Some dishes take 30 minutes in one pot, and 40 in another, because the first has much better heat conduction.
Not overcooking vegtables is tricky. Like not overcooking spagetti. Just watch it very carefully until it looks eatable, taste it often.
Regarding "golden", pretty much all shades of gold will work.
Unless you are baking (which requires the precision of a chemist), you don't have to be exact. Pretty much everything will work. If it doesn't, enough chilli sauce will fix everything.
Cookbooks drove me mad until I figured it out.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:January 22nd, 2006 06:17 pm (UTC)

kaitlynn haley

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you could get away with this food
[User Picture]
From:kritzit
Date:October 4th, 2003 03:11 am (UTC)

A my moosely brother,

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You made me so proud... :)

and to many more great dishes to come.
Maybe next time YOU will be the one inviting ME for a whole 4 courses meal...?
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