Archive for October, 2009

Pumpkins and 5 Spice!

The Secret of the “5” Spice

If we skip to the end, we see that there is no secret at all. It’s a matter of differences. Take a look at the ingredients of pumpkin spice versus chinese 5 spice.

Pumpkin Spice
cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, allspice

Chinese Five Spice:
cinnamon, clove, ginger, fennel, anise

If you disregard the common ingredients and focus on the differences, we’ll notice that the 5 spice is a bit bolder and aromatic with the fennel component.
The secret is in the use. Let’s substitute our familiar pumpkin spice with Chinese 5 spice in some recipes. We’re shooting for fast and easy here.

PUMPKIN GAZPACHO
16 oz Fresh Bruschetta – the fresh store-made one.
8 oz Cucumber – English cukes are best here.
12 oz Pumpkin Puree  – canned
2 t. Chinese Five Spice
16 oz Tomato Juice – not V-8
8 oz White Wine –optional
1 oz Olive Oil
salt/pepper to taste

Chop finely the english cucumber in a food processor. In a large bowl, combine the cucumber with remaining ingredients and refrigerate. The pumpkin is not the dominant flavor component here but provides good body to the soup. Yield – 10 -6oz servings

5 SPICE PUMPKIN BISQUE
6 oz Pumpkin Puree
8 oz Water or Stock
2 oz Heavy Cream
2t. Chinese Five Spice
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a heavy pot, combine all ingredients and bring to a simmer. Adjust seasoning. Yield – 2 -8oz servings

5 SPICE PUMPKIN PIE
4 oz Pumpkin Puree
8 oz Heavy Cream – whipped
1T. Sugar
1 box Jello Pudding Mix, Vanilla
2t. Chinese Five Spice
1 pinch of salt

1 Ready Made Pie Shell

Mix all ingredients in a bowl until well incorporated. Fill pie shell and refrigerate. Top with whipped cream.

See a cost breakdown of these recipes.
You can get the Google Doc here.

I’ll demo these recipes at SaveUpEvent.com next week in San Francisco! See you there!

October 29, 2009 at 8:33 pm 3 comments

Yo! My Baby LOVES Yogurt!

…and I can perfectly understand why. I buy Fage yogurt. It’s a Greek yogurt. (pr. Fah-yeh) This stuff rocks. Smooth and creamy but thick like sour cream, it has a nice tartness about it. I’ve used it on baked potatoes in place of sour cream and especially love it with honey – Greek style. Our infant wolfs it down so much that I decided to make my own to save on the $5 per quart price tag. It takes a while but it is worth the wait if you are going to be going through a ton of it.
You’ll need:
1 Gallon of whole milk
1 heaping tablespoon of Fage as a starter culture.
1 Tablespoon sugar – consider it food for the culture

In a 2 gallon soup pot, bring the milk just to the edge of a simmer. (Do NOT boil.) Remove from the heat and let stand until the temp reaches 115 degrees.
In a bowl, mix the tablespoon of yogurt with a cup of the hot milk a little at a time. Then stir that mixture back into the soup pot of milk. Give it a stir.
Take a clean kitchen towel or flour sack towel and put it across the top as a cover. This prevents a skin from forming while it is setting.
Put the entire pot in an oven set on the very lowest setting and maintain the 115 degree temp in the pot for 6-8 hours. (I did mine over night.) Your oven can be tricky and getting the setting just right may take a bit of practice.
Remove from the oven and place into a refrigerator until completely cool. After it cools, it’s actually ready to go – but I like to take it a step further to make it super thick. I bought a fine mesh strainer and strain it in batches in the refrigerator. The water (whey) can be discarded once it is strained out. I’ll even put a piece of parchment and a dish on to to add a little pressure. It can be a long process but the result is super thick heaven at a price that makes sense.

October 28, 2009 at 8:54 pm Leave a comment

Processors Head to Head.



For a chef, the food processor is like another limb. We need this thing to function. Over the years, I’ve used them all. Big. Small. Busted. Brandy spanking new. But for the home and for preparing smooth and small quantities, I didn’t need the turbo robo uber coupe. I needed tiny. I found two.
Waring and Kitchen Aid pretty much make the same thing. A scaled down food processor with a bowl good for two cups of material and a couple attachments for shredding and slicing. For about $100, you’re pretty set for a light duty kitchen and uncomplicated menu. Just don’t try to julienne your fries. Remember. Light duty.
My wife then introduced me to the Babycook for $150. It’s a combination steamer and processor. It’s as if my espresso machine and food processor had an illegitimate light green spawn one summer night. A bit of water, add your food to be cooked and let it steam. Then in the same bowl, whip it up with the blade! Good idea if I’m only cooking for the young son but I’m a Chef – I cook for numbers. The bowl and blade are reasonable quality and break down quickly for cleaning.
For the $50 savings, I’m sticking with the basic food processor. It will take me years down the road for utility’s sake. As for the Babycook – good for apartment dwellers who need to sandbag baby food in the freezer.

October 15, 2009 at 6:05 pm Leave a comment


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