Top Chef Texas: Restaurant Wars – What Was That Ingredient? [Buddhacation]

Posted by Foodie Buddha on January 12, 2012

The pain that is this season of Top Chef Texas continues, and with it comes another edition of What Was That Ingredient?  While the show struggles to keep my attention, I still watch with some anticipation, hoping to see and hear something that will turn my creative juices.  If things don’t change, WWTI will be shelved after this season wraps (if not sooner).

The only real commentary I have on this season’s version of Restaurant Wars is this:  What happens to all the regular customers when the judges walk in?  The both kitchens basically came to a screeching halt to attend to the needs of these very special guests … that can’t be good for the rest of the restaurant.

Though I’m quite familiar with the inner workings of media, reality TV, and all that jazz – I’m really curious to know what it’s actually like to go to one of these “Restaurant Wars” dinners.  It’s obviously highly edited, so we’re left to wonder how concocted a diners experience is at the restaurant.

Alright y’all, here’s a recap of the handful of ingredients and dishes that might need some explaining!

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Top Chef Texas: BBQ Pit Wars – What Was That Ingredient? [Buddhacation]

Posted by Foodie Buddha on January 05, 2012

modernist cuisine front cover

After a few weeks off from the drivel that has become Top Chef Texas, the show returned last night desperate to find a new villain, but this isn’t a typical review series, so I’ll leave that to others to elaborate on.

Anyway, this 80-minute extended edition went through all the hoops of classic reality TV and ended just before the new day arrived.  I didn’t get to it until the wee hours of the morning, but I was still bright eyed and bushy tailed ready to see what was what.

The episode’s two challenges were as opposing one could imagine.  The quick fire was all about deconstructed food (which I’ve previously explained) and modern techniques.  The second half was dedicated to barbecue and all of its classic glory.

As it happened, most all of the What Was That Ingredient? action took place in the earlier moments of the show.  Read on to see what funktastic attempts the contestants made at impressing Nathan Myhrvold, who literally wrote the Modernist Cuisine cookbook. [A hefty investment for anyone looking to explore it]

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Top Chef Texas: Tribute Dinner–What Was That Ingredient? [Buddhacation] 3

Posted by Foodie Buddha on December 22, 2011

spatzle from gruner in portland

Things we learned on the latest edition of Top Chef Texas: 1) Apparently grandfathers made absolutely zero impact on the lives of their offspring.  2) Bravo TV now relies upon the most uncreative group of twaddlers for their inspiration.  3) Patty LaBelle can still belt it out.  Other than that … not much.

Still, the season dragged on and we all watched as our brain cells died as we all seemed to loose a little more of our life’s than the 60-minute commitment seemed to require.  In any event, if you did power through, here are some of the odds and ends that qualified for a brief mention in this weeks What Was That Ingredient?

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Top Chef Texas: Game On – What Was That Ingredient? [Buddhacation] 4

Posted by Foodie Buddha on December 15, 2011

For this weeks edition of What Was That Ingredient?, Top Chef Texas did the whole game thing and once again attempted to assert its badassness.  They first invoked NGT with what basically equated to a 20-minute commercial for Don Julio.  Padma quickly asserted that it was an “ultra-premium” tequila.  Don’t you just love fluffy, meaningless advertisements?  I’m curious to know how much Don Julio put up for the bit.

Anyway, the rest of the show focused on that crazy group of meats we call “game” (you know – Bambi, Donald, The Goodfeathers, etc…).  Basically, game can be defined as any type of animal that is either a) usually hunted for sport or b) turned into a cartoon character.  During this segment, clips of Heather explaining how awesome she is were interrupted by the occasional cooking scene.

As for the rest of the more esoteric menu items from the show?  Well read on to see what the contestants did in the kitchen!

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Top Chef Texas: Higher Steaks – What Was That Ingredient? [Buddhacation]

Posted by Foodie Buddha on December 08, 2011

No, I didn’t forget to do What Was That Ingredient last week.  I just didn’t do it.  There just wasn’t a single piece of content worth writing about.  Thankfully, this week’s episode of Top Chef Texas had lots of good stuff for those interested in food.

First, there was a whole challenge dedicated to the stuff a saucier has to make; so, we might as well recap all of these so-called “mother sauces.”  After that, there was a gigantic catering gig.  While there weren’t a ton of funky ingredients presented (it is Texas after all – *wink*), a handful of chefs used ingredients that are not common.  Alright, let’s get it on!

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Tortillas’ Long Lost Burrito Recipe [Hits From The Past] 5

Posted by Foodie Buddha on December 01, 2011

tortillas

With the recent opening of Bell Street Burritos in Westside, people are again eulogizing Tortillas, Atlanta’s original burrito joint.  After shutting their doors in 2003, but before they set off into the sunset, Tortillas bequeathed one last gift to Atlanta’s Tex-Mex aficionados: some loose recipe guidelines on how to make most of what was made to go inside and on top of their much romanticized product.  Long stashed on my computer, I thought today was a good day to share the handful of Tortillas’ recipes, so that you can make these San Francisco-style burritos at home.  Check them out … after the jump!

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Recipe Organization: A Techie’s Tip Guide

Posted by Foodie Buddha on November 27, 2011

RecipesNearly every home cook I know has a system for organizing their recipes.   Some of my older friends (and a few of the younger one’s as well) use a classic card system.  My mother, for example, has this little open top card box stuffed to the gills with all sorts of recipes.  Some of my other friends, who tend to use cookbooks as their source of inspiration, use a system where by they either dog ear particular recipes of note or they rip the pages from the cookbooks and three-ring binder that shiz.   Under the old school umbrella, I’ve even got a friend – let’s call here Martha – and Martha hasn’t written a recipe down ever.  Seriously – her head is like a freakish memory bank.  It’s like instant Dewey decimal up in there.

The problem with these paper based systems is that they are incredibly difficult to manage.  You have to commit to an underlying organization method (Cuisine type, Main ingredient, type of course).  This can make meal planning incredibly cumbersome (unless you’re Martha of course).

So unless you’re blessed with a particular gift for list management, using technology to keep track of your recipes is incredibly beneficial endeavor.  But choosing a way to store all your stuff electronically can be a daunting task.

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Momofuku Ramen Recipe: Damn You Tasty 3

Posted by Foodie Buddha on November 26, 2011

ramen recipe adapted from David Chang’s Momofuku cookbook

momofuku cookbook

This is part 2 of my Momofuku ramen guide.  This post focuses almost exclusively on the cooking process, the ingredients, and the time management aspect to making this ramen, an easy to execute but time intensive dish.  While I strongly suggest you check out part 1 of the ramen guide for the grocery list and tips and tricks, this is where you’ll find the real how-to.

I’ve assembled this recipe in a way that will allow you to cook everything over a two-day period.  I’ve also timed it from a perspective that encourages oven optimization.  Keep that in mind, as items like the taré can actually be made a few days in advance (it lasts 3 to 4 in the fridge) or it can be made the day of so long as you start it about 3-hours before service time.

I have also included a time estimate with each component – which for me – starts as soon as you begin to use the ingredients for the first step.  These time estimates are just a way of me telling you how long it took us to do everything, so resting time, clean up time, and time away from the food is included in that number.  You can do this by yourself no doubt, but a second in command is a big help (as well as a lot more fun – Thanks Papa Buddha!).  If you want to view all the videos (they’re really awesome AND totally amazing!), check out the YouTube playlist.  Meanwhile, all of my slightly less bad pictures are on Flickr!

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Your Guide To Momofuku Ramen

Posted by Foodie Buddha on November 26, 2011

momofuku ramen bowl

This is the complete guide to the ramen recipe from David Chang’s Momofuku cookbook.  I’ve split this into a two-part series whereby this part gives you a little background on ramen and some notes and advice on how to best execute Chang’s version.  Also included is a composite grocery list so though you don’t have to read through everything and total it up.  Part two, which you can read here, is the step-by-step list which focuses more on the execution of each individual item and the time management part of this two-day (at a minimum) cooking endeavor.  I hope you enjoy!

A Little on David Chang + Ramen + Momofuku

momofuku cookbook

Ramen is a Japanese noodle soup more important to that culture than chicken noodle soup is to America’s culture.  David Chang, who owns the ballyhooed Momofuku restaurant in New York, is the single biggest reason why ramen has transcended the confines of college dormitories onto the menus of many restaurants who would otherwise pass on this time consuming Japanese staple.

When Chang, along with the help of Peter Meehan, released the Momofuku cookbook in late 2009, [GOOOOO BLUE!!!!!!] it quickly became the IT cookbook of that season.  So widespread was Chang’s influence that soon thereafter an entire website dedicated to executing the vast array of recipes went live.

It’s impossible to articulate a simple yet all encompassing definition of ramen.  But, for brevity’s sake, just know that traditional ramen (not that cup noodle stuff from the $.99 store) is soup that usually utilizes a soy or miso based broth and includes noodles, meat, and fixings that one might find in and around the islands of Japan.

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Top Chef Texas: Red Hot Chili Cook Off – What Was That Ingredient? [Buddhacation] 1

Posted by Foodie Buddha on November 24, 2011

chili-con-carne-by-fotoosvanrobin

Hi, I’m Foodie Buddha and I’m a hot sauce addict.  Now that that’s out of the way: Top Chef Texas’s latest episode was stuffed with chilis of all types.  The topics du jour were the various kinds of chili peppers and the vast number of ways one can concoct chili con carne (the proper name for the stew most people call “chili”).

The episode wasn’t full of a ton of odd ingredients or cooking techniques, but it was full of “what did they just say?” moments.  Sure, authentic reared it’s ugly head again, but so too did a request not to touch someone’s breast milk that was in the fridge.  I think it’s safe to assume that that light cream did not end up in anyone’s chili.

But beyond the passé edits of one liners from contestants who want to do naughty things to Padma, there were a few ingredients and techniques worthy of mention in this edition of What Was That Ingredient?  Not to mention, it’s imperative that we clear up some of the widespread misinformation that appeared in the episode in regards to chilis. Continue reading…

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