Monday, December 30, 2013

Dave's Law of Combinant Foods

My 20-something son, Julien, introduced me to something he calls Dave’s Law of Combinant Foods. The law works like this: If you take two solid foods that you really like individually, you should also like the combination. (For some reason—known only to Julien’s friend Dave—liquids are not allowed in the rules of this law.)

So I thought about it, and I could not come up with a combination that didn’t at least have potential. For example, how about roast salmon and chocolate ice cream? I know it sounds awful, but they might actually work. There was a famous French chef who put sweet vanilla sauce on lobster. Can salmon and chocolate ice cream be far behind?

Anyway, think about it, then come back and add your two cents below. See if you can disprove Dave’s Law. And don’t forget, it has to be two foods that you really like. No cheating.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Exotic food kits

A couple of months ago, I bought myself a wonderfully exotic cookbook that covered about 8 different Asian cuisines, including Burmese, Thai, and Indonesian. I was really excited to try one of the Thai recipes (a coconut custard with fragrant sugar syrup) and spent a good deal of time and energy traipsing around New York City to collect the ingredients. When I finally found everything (including pandanus leaf*), I had visited 4 stores and spent a huge amount of money. And the worst of it is that I had all these leftover ingredients that I really had no idea how to use on my own (i.e., without a recipe).

Anyway, when I saw these recipe kits called Destination Dinners, I was very impressed. In each kit, you get all the ingredients you need (minus any perishables) to make an exotic dinner. But you get only the amount you need and no more.

Each kit includes the premeasured ingredients, a grocery list for the fresh items you need, plus a little history and culinary trivia for the cuisine you've chosen. For example, one of the kits is for a Thai green curry with jasmine-scented sponge cakes, and the exotic ingredients included were jasmine rice, rice flour, green curry paste, fish sauce, jasmine water and palm sugar.

The handsomely packaged kits cost $30-35 and serve 4 to 8 people, depending on which recipe you've chosen. In addition to the Thai green curry, the 12 kits currently available include chicken garam masala (Bangladesh), jerk chicken (Jamaica), falafel (Israel), pork and egg rice bowl (Japan), beef bulgogi (Korea), baked spiced lamb (Lebanon), chicken and cashews (Thailand) and jambalaya (Louisiana).

If you really get into it, you might want to look at what they call the Destination Passport, which is basically a kit-of-the-month club. You can buy a 3-month, 6-month, or 12-month passport.

*Just in case you're curious, pandanus leaf is a long thin leaf that looks sort of like a piece of palm frond. It's used in Thai cooking to flavor coconut-based desserts and sugar syrups.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Hi, Monkey

I must be very easily amused, because I find the website called "Hi, Monkey" absolutely charming. The site is filled with recipes and craft projects all illustrated by photographs of a small stuffed terrycloth monkey preparing the food or making the craft. (Bear with me, here.)

For example, Monkey's recipe for potato latkes, which starts out with a photograph of Monkey and two potatoes and a caption that reads: “My two little friends from Idaho have graciously consented to be turned into potato pancakes.” In the next photo Monkey is peeling the potatoes and the caption reads: “After thanking them profusely I peel my little pals. Please don't do this with any of your friends unless they are actual potatoes.”

Anyway, you get the picture. But the recipes are serious, and although the ingredient quantities are a little loose, you could probably make potato latkes after reading this.

There are tons of other craft ideas and recipes and photographs of Monkey. I recommend checking out his decorating ideas for “Panda Cupcakes.”