Pressure Cooker

PressureCooker

Columbia, Missouri, cool little art town that it is, hosts the True/False Film Festival every year with a great selection of documentaries, shorts and local films. I am always pleasantly surprised by the films I see there. Today was no different. Pressure Cooker, a film about high schoolers competing for culinary scholarships, exceeded all my expectations. If you’re in Columbia, you should see it Sunday at 12:30.

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Pub-Corn: Beer Flavored Popcorn. Yes, you read that right.

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So I was at a friend’s house and one of her friends instant messaged her to ask if she knew any photographers available for freelance product photography.  Her answer was she had one in her basement.

And with that, I got another freelance job.  It’s that easy to hire me folks!  (seriously, email me for rates)

Basically, Cary Silverman, a student at MU, has started four businesses prior to this newest endeavor… alcohol flavored popcorn, appropriately titled Pub-Corn.

The three flavors he has now are Beer, Piña Colada and Irish Cream.  I would say Beer tastes like the Natty Lite or Milwaukee’s Best flavor territory– its kinda stale, but kinda reminds you exactly of a cheap bar or a frat-tastic party from freshman year.  Either way, its interesting.  Piña Colada on the other hand, that’s like candy.  It was quite sweet and I’m surprised how well it worked with the popcorn medium.  Irish Cream tasted the most like alcohol, but kinda chocolaty too.  It was a good representation.

All inspiration for the mini box studio goes to strobist, a wonderful lighting blog that will teach you almost as much as my college level Advanced Techniques course did.

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Quicker than Braised Cabbage

braised-cabbageI’m not the most patient person when it comes to food. I appreciate that slow cooking makes things really delicious, but when I’m hungry…well, then I’m going to turn the heat up on the stove or cut some corners.

Luckily, I like my meat pink and my vegetables on the crisper side.

I had a head of green cabbage in the

fridge and decided it’d make a nice, easy side along with the smoked salmon fillet I bought already cooked and spiced from the Mizzou Meat Market. (Michael, Kat or one of my other friends usually comes to eat, but last night was my first solo dinner in a while.)

Braised cabbage sounded good, but

who has an hour to wait on a Wednesday night after work? Instead I sauteed a large serving of cabbage with all the flavors I would have braised it in: onion, carrots, thyme and white wine. The big pieces were still a little crunchy, but I like that texture.

This is an easy vegetable side to add to your repertoire. I forget about cabbage sometimes, but it’s really good. Continue reading “Quicker than Braised Cabbage”

Battle Rice

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After last night’s Top Chef finale, I am so excited that today is the Campus Dining Iron Chef competition. Michael, my friend Gwen and I have been paired with a professional campus chef, Jeremy Elmore. Officials told us on Friday that today will be Battle Rice. They will have certain rices available to us, such as brown basmati and red Himalayan, and some standard ingredients. The others we will bring ourselves.

Five teams have one hour to do all prep and cooking for two dishes to be served to five judges. We’ve decided to do Indian food, which will be judged on taste, creativity and appearance.

This weekend, Michael and I

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tested out some sauces. On Tuesday night our whole team got together and cooked both dishes. We’ve decided to make some adjustments,

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but I think we’re ready to go. We have two sophisticated dishes full of flavor. The biggest issue will be time and the limited amount of space to work at. An 8-foot table, I think.

If you’re in Columbia, the competition is 4:30 in downstairs Bingham (the area between Schurz and Hatch residence halls). It should be aired on MUTV as well. But we’ll have a big update here after we win, so don’t worry.

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

dulce-de-leche1My family often visits Argentina where dulce de leche has its own aisle in the grocery store and might as well be on the national flag. (Maybe that’s what the smiling sun represents already.) It’s been awhile since I was in Buenos Aires, but last time I was home in Los Angeles, I found Catalina’s Market, a shop in Hollywood

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full of Argentine imports. Michael and I put our bounty to use the other day in some homemade dulce de leche ice cream.

Now, let’s talk about dulce de leche.

At this point, you’re either drooling or googling. In case you’ve never had the wonder that is dulce de leche, think about caramel. Now imagine it being creamier and more amazing.

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Traditional caramel is simply melted sugar (caramel sauces add butter and cream after the sugar is golden). Dulce de leche is made from a slowly simmered milk and sugar mixture. Many homemade recipes call for sweetened condensed milk to be cooked over a long period.

If you’ve only had dulce de leche in Haagen Daaz or Starbucks form, you’re still missing out. That stuff is just sweet. Real dulce has a much more layered taste. I haven’t tried to make my own yet, but the Smitten Kitchen and Straight from the Farm, among others, have had gooey goldeny success.

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However you get your dulce de leche — specialty shops, inspected at customs, or slowly over a stove — ice cream is a great place to showcase it.

See also: Chocolate Dulce de Leche Layer Cake

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Marinated Tuna Steaks

deconstructed_sushiI’m generally skeptical of eating fish in Missouri, a landlocked state more than 1,000 miles from a coast in either direction. But when I saw some perfectly pink tuna behind the glass of Hy-Vee, I remembered the tangy marinade I made when I was in Sydney last year. Michael wasn’t thrilled about the idea of fish for dinner, but I was already dreaming of the ginger, soy, citrus combination.

When we got back to the house, Michael suggested serving it with raw carrots and cucumbers on top of warm rice. I wasn’t immediately sold, but I didn’t put up a fight.

Well, wouldn’t you know it…I loved the tuna in the deconstructed sushi style, and Michael loved the meaty tuna steak. His exact words were, “My mouth is very happy.”

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This dinner is quick and easy, which isn’t always the case in my kitchen, I admit. It’s also not as expensive as you’d think. We get a lot of questions from people asking, “How do you guys eat like you do? You’re college students!”

People forget that you can get a lot more food for your money when you eat at home. These tuna steaks were about $6 each, and they were huge…almost too big. One small cucumber was 20 cents. A carrot about 10 cents. The portions of rice? Maybe 40 cents. Ginger, 10 cents. 25 cents for half an orange. And we’ll overestimate and say it was a dollar for the small amounts of other ingredients.

Total, this meal was $8 a person, and we were stuffed. Try getting full at a sushi restaurant for that cheap and not being sick afterward.

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