Saturday, December 30, 2006

Consume Mass Quanitites, Rose Bowl Edition

Lawry's The Prime Rib in Beverly Hills does a special event for the Rose Bowl players called the Beef Bowl. On two separate nights, both teams get to dine to their hearts' content on prime rib, creamed, corn, mashed potatoes, and apple pie for dessert. This year, the Michigan team downed a whopping 612 pounds of prime rib. Dayum.

On a sad note, the vast majority of the cooked to order prime rib was served well done.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

It's That Time of Year Again

I had a family get-together at Old People's Country Buffet this past weekend. Dear Lord, I forgot how incredibly horrid the food is over there. Especially frightening standouts included "Risotto-Style Rice", a gloppy blend of long-grain rice with chopped broccoli and cheese sauce; a hot fudge pudding cake noted for its almost complete lack of flavor; and... enchiladas. There are certain things I will do in the name of my dear readers, but touching one of those dried out things with a ten-foot pole is not one of them. When the $1.99 breakfast* at IKEA looks like a truly terrific alternative, there's something seriously wrong with the picture, n'est-ce pas? Oh, speaking of IKEA, my morbid curiosity got the better of me, and I tried their Thursday night dinner special of prime rib. It's a good sized cut, I'm going to guess about 12 or 14 ounces, and thankfully pink in the middle. It came with a baked potato and vegetables for 8 bucks. While it certainly wasn't close to what you'd get at a decent steakhouse, it was better than it had any right to be for the price. Maybe some time I'll go see if they do a decent job with lobster on Tuesday night.

Anyway, back to the holiday goings-on. After we left the buffet, it was off to Grandpa's place to exchange gifts. I put together the exact same thing for everyone, a deluxe treat plate. Included was half a pound cake, some colossal loaded oatmeal cookies (loaded with Montmorency cherries, cranberries, pecans, and bittersweet chocolate), crispy chocolate chip cookies, and not one but two kinds of fudge. Ah, fudge, the fruitcake of the 21st century. Every single square of homemade fudge I have ever eaten in my entire life has been the too-sweet, slightly grainy kind with not nearly enough chocoate flavor. I swear everyone out there has the exact same recipe, the one with evaporated milk and Marshmallow Fluff.

Everyone except yours truly, that is.

This year, I tried out the recipe Cook's Illustrated published in their recent issue. It is:

1 pound finely chopped semisweet chocolate
2 ounces finely chopped unsweetened chocolate
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt

tossed in a bowl until the baking soda and salt are nicely distributed. Then, you add a 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk, and stir to coat the chocolate. The bowl then gets set over a pan of simmering water, and the contents get stirred until the chocolate has almost melted. Then, pull the bowl off the pan (be careful of the escaping steam), stir it until all of the chocolate has melted, and mix in a cup of coarsely chopped toasted walnuts. The whole mess then goes into a foil lined and greased 8 inch square pan, and put in the fridge for a couple of hours until the fudge has set up enough to be taken out of the pan and cut into squares.

This stuff is truly amazing fudge. The unsweetened chocolate gives a good flavor boost, and the little bit of baking soda reacts with the acidity of the chocolate to keep things light. I may play around with this recipe... I'm tempted to pick up some of the Andes mint baking chips and see how those turn out.

*The breakfast at IKEA is bacon, scrambled eggs, cottage fries, Swedish (what did you expect?) pancakes with lingonberry sauce, and coffee. Yes, all that for less than a latte at Starbucks. If you want the price of breakfast at IKEA to remain reasonable, have plans for what to do after breakfast. Otherwise, you might feel like going for a wee bit of a stroll, and oh why look there's a whole store to wander through right here!