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Michael Sheldon
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What is this thing I hear of, specialization?
What is this thing I hear of, specialization?

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Whoa, have you seen the nose print on your camera lens? 
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Southwest Shrimp and Grits.

The beets in this were a factor of #1 wanting to add some greens, and #2 having beets just starting to mature in my garden. The rest is just a variation on a common and very tasty dish.

4 cups water
1 cup grits
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 pound soft cheese (Goat cheese works well)
1/4 pound fresh chorizo (Mexican)
1 lb Shrimp
2-4 small beets with greens
2-3 Tbsp butter

Mise en place! Everything must be prepped before cooking! This goes quickly, and requires constant attention. You will not have time to measure, slice, peel, etc. once the cooking has begun.

Remove and de-stem the beet greens, wash and dry.
Peel and thinly slice the beets, I used a 2mm setting on my mandoline.
Peel the shrimp.

Add the water to a 2+ quart saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the salt.
Shortly before the water comes to a boil, start heating two skillets on medium heat.

When the water reaches a boil, slowly sprinkle the grits into the boiling water, whisking it while you add them. Reduce heat to medium-low. Continue whisking the grits occasionally, for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the butter to one skillet, and the chorizo to the other. Break up the chorizo and brown it, about 5 minutes. Remove the chorizo to a bowl, and add the shrimp, sautée them in the oil from the chorizo. Add oil if necessary. About 3-5 minutes per side. Remove to a bowl.

Add the sliced beets to the other skillet, stir and flip occasionally, until they are lightly browned and even a little crisped, about 10 minutes. Remove the beets and add the greens to the skillet. Sautée until wilted, remove from the heat.

When the grits have cooked 15 minutes, stir the cheese into them a bit at a time until incorporated. Remove from the heat, then stir in the chorizo.

Let the grits cool just a bit, then spoon into bowls. Add the shrimp, beet chips and beet greens on top. Serve with a bottle of your favorite hot sauce. Cholula! 
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OK, this is probably something your Grandparents, or if you're older, you parents knew, but seems to have been forgotten.

Vermouth is good for cooking.

First, what Vermouth is. It's fortified wine (higher alcohol) that has been infused with herbs. That's pretty much it. Dry vermouth is made from white wine, and is more often French. Sweet vermouth is made from red wine, and is more often Italian. Though note that the "sweet" is somewhat relative.

I ran across this the other day in a cookbook I've had since I got married, and most of the recipes date from a decade or two earlier. They used vermouth in a chicken dish where you would normally see wine. When I thought about it, I realised it made a lot of sense. The alcohol cooks out anyway, so no real difference there, and some added herbs? Yes please. And sure enough it works just fine.

Calls for white wine? Try a nice dry Vermouth. Calls for red wine? Try a nice red vermouth. Not sure I'd use my favorite "sweet" vermouth (Carpano Antiqua), but the pot roast I made today with Martini and Rossi sweet vermouth in place of the red wine turned out amazing.

And here's the good part for a cook. If you don't drink much wine, vermouth keeps longer. It needs to be refrigerated, but it will keep a couple months or longer, no problem. And, you can get bottles in varying sizes depending on how much you would use. As for why you don't see it in recipes? Well, that's pretty easy. For various reasons, people just stopped making cocktails at home so much after the 70's.

Rant On
As for those who think vermouth is something nasty that is called for in cocktails, but should only be "waved near the glass", you need to stop listening to actors in cheesy movies. Vermouth is a fine aperitif on its own, and is essential in many cocktails. You know what you call a martini with little to no vermouth in it? Cold gin in a glass. Fine, if you like cold gin in a glass, but it's not a Martini.
Rant Off

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So, literally a false flag operation.
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Piper, at the Arizona Renaissance Festival last weekend.
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+Alton Brown​ makes a lot of tasty food, and this one just hits it out of the park.

First, it's really simple. The hardest part for me is remembering to soak the beans overnight. Prep and assembly are under 20 minutes, then put it in the oven and walk away.
Then comes the torture. It smells so good, all - day - long.

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Diva this morning.
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Madeleines

From: Francatelli's Modern Cook, 1885

Ingredients
1/2 pound of flour
1/2 pound of sugar
1/2 pound of butter (melted, but just warm, not hot)
Four eggs (beaten thoroughly)
A small glass of brandy (4oz)
A little salt (pinch)

Instructions
Mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl.
Add the eggs and brandy and mix with a wooden spoon.
Then add the butter, and when this is thoroughly incorporated with the batter, pour into a sufficient number of well-buttered madeleine moulds.
Bake at 350F for approximately 12 minutes.
Makes approximately four dozen Madeleines.

Notes
Francatelli uses the same batter as for his Genoese cakes, with the option of adding currants, dried cherries, candied peel or angelica.
This recipe is nearly identical in proportions to modern Madeleine recipes I have found, with the exception that modern recipes use flavor extracts in place of the brandy. Personally, I prefer the more subtle flavoring of the brandy. Rum would also work quite well.
I have made this recipe twice so far, both at 1/4 of the above amounts. a 1/4 recipe makes 11 Madeleines in my 12-place tin.
If you do not have Madeleine tins, the Genoese cake calls for the batter to be poured into a buttered baking sheet of a size to make the batter 1/4 inch deep, then cut or stamped out in fancy shapes after baking. A full recipe would probably work in a 1/4 size baking sheet (9x12).

Unlike most of my 19th century cookbooks, Francatelli's is most decidedly not standard middle-class fare. The recipes are very much high class, and sometimes very complicated and ornate. Francatelli was at one point "Chief Cook to Her Majesty, Victoria, Queen of England"
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1/28/17
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Blueberry muffins.

The recipe this time is just a standard modern blueberry muffin. But it's that pan that is the fun part. I picked up this antique pan on eBay a few weeks ago. It only had some minor surface rust, which was easy enough to scrub off with a scotch brite pad. Blueberry muffins probably weren't the best choice for the first time using it, the blueberries stuck a little. But with some additional use, the surface should get a bit of a cure that will prevent that. The cups on these are about 3/4 the volume of standard modern muffin cups.
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So, the alt-president wants to put a 20% tax on Mexican imports to pay for his manhood extension wall.

BTW, the technical term for that is a tariff.

So what that means really, is he's making US consumers pay for it. Given that a lot of produce is imported from Mexico, that means you'll be paying an extra 20% on a lot of your food.

But it's more than that. By international trade law, that means Mexico can immediately put a 20% tariff on US goods exported to Mexico. My guess is that they would be smarter about it, and only place the tariff on things that can be had from other countries at reasonable cost. It will cost the Mexican consumer a little extra, but it will hurt US companies much more, in loss of sales.

But this isn't about economics, or even immigration. This is about Trump's ego, so sit back and tighten your belt, because your meals are going to cost you more.

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