Anger Burger

A Tremendous Oversight

Posted by on Aug 29, 2010 at 11:44 pm

I genuinely can’t believe I haven’t shown you my secret family quiche yet.  I even talked about it in a podcast interview.  It’s just one of those things I make so regularly that I’m like, oh, this old thing?  My mom made this recipe for as long as I remember, and I’ve been making it since I was a teenager.  It’d be like telling you how to make cinnamon toast.

Of course it’s more complicated than that.  I have some serious opinions about quiche that go a little something like this: IT IS NOT AN OMELET IN A PIE SHELL.  I hate firm, eggy quiche, it makes me gag and yes I am being a drama queen.  Quiche should be a savory custard pie.  Not frittata.

Mike the Viking has been bothering me for years about showing him how to make the quiche, but I wouldn’t because when he can make it himself, he doesn’t need to keep me around any more.  I finally gave up and showed him, so I guess I should pack a satchel and steal away in the dead of night.  Wait, that’s ninjas.

For science, we used a Trader Joe’s frozen pie crust and guess what?  It was pretty okay!  I don’t think it’s an all-time replacement for homemade, but since this was an experiment in Mike’s autonomy, I wanted to see if he could just pick up a frozen crust for when he wants to woo my replacement with his quiche-making skills.  The problem was that the crust is too small, the morons.  It’ll fit maybe one of those little disposable aluminum pie tins, but not my standard glass Pyrex pan, hence the manual pushing around of the dough to get it to fit.

There is 100% no reason to use fresh spinach, because you’d just have to cook it down anyway.  I’d never eat frozen spinach in anything else (well, I would in spinach dip), but it needs to be squeezed dry before you can use it.  This is messy and leaves your sink looking like someone murdered the lawn in it.

This happened again.  I read somewhere that dogs need consistency in the home, so, you know.

Everything gets layered in.  I kept pointing out to him that the true craftsmanship of the quiche came from making sure the fillings went all the way out to the edges, but I’m not sure how much of that part he absorbed.

Oh for christ’s sake.

Well, he’s got one fan anyway.

The other issue the Viking is undoubtedly going to screw up when he’s alone is the patience aspect.  You can’t just dump the cream and eggs in, you have to coax it in.  Like with a lady.

Lumps get gently patted down.  Also like with a lady.

I live in terror of him using the oven when I’m gone.  I mean, “on” he gets.  “Off” is the sticky wicket.

When it’s done it turns golden and puffs up, but when you let it sit for 10 minutes it deflates to normal size and firms up a little more.  The interior is soft like pudding and might fight you just a little getting it out of the pan, but I don’t imagine I have to convince you this is a bad thing.  It’s a whipping cream and cheese pie.

Anger Burger Family Quiche
the primary piece of advice I have for quiche is to use either heavy cream or half-and-half (adding one extra egg to the latter).  don’t use whole milk.  do not.  the second piece of advice is to – with the exception of spinach, which should be from frozen – cook any filling before assembly.  say for example we make the other household favorite, the “breakfast quiche”: this consists of two or three small red potatoes, half an onion, half each of a red and green bell pepper (all diced small) and a quarter pound of breakfast sausage (or Gimme Lean), and everything gets fried up in a saute pan until brown and delicious as though you were going to eat it just like that.  THEN it gets put into a quiche with cheddar cheese.  or another example: broccoli and ricotta.  the broccoli is either steamed or sauteed until almost tender, allowed to cool just enough to squeeze some water out of it with your hands, and then added to a quiche with big globs of fresh ricotta and some part-skim mozzarella.  see a pattern here?  nothing goes in raw.  if you put in anything raw, it’ll weep water during cooking and make your quiche runny.  fair warning.

1 bottom pie crust, uncooked
2 eggs
1 pint whipping cream (heavy or regular, both are fine)
12 oz. of gruyere and/or standard swiss cheese, even the cheap stuff works great, grated
1 bag or two small boxes of frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and squozed
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
fresh pepper to taste

  • Prepare the crust first by forming it into the pan and putting the whole thing in the fridge to stand by.  Set oven to 350°.
  • Drain thawed chopped spinach by taking handfuls of it over the sink and squeezing it mostly dry.  Don’t get obsessive about it, just drain it the best you can.  There’s a lot of waste doing this, lots of small pieces will escape each time, but them’s the breaks.
  • In a measuring cup that holds 2 cups or more, beat the two eggs, then mix in the pint of whipping cream.  Mix thoroughly.
  • In the pie shell (uncooked still) layer as follows: half the cheese, then the spinach (crumbled up nicely to discourage big solid wads), salt, garlic powder, then the other half of the cheese.  SLOWLY pour the cream and eggs over the top, allowing it time to trickle down into the cheese and stuff.  If you pour too fast it’ll just flow right over the top and off the sides of the quiche.  Using a fork, lightly pat down the cheese and everything, taking care to remove pieces of cheese from the crust edge.  Top with lots of fresh pepper.
  • Bake for 45 minutes, or until puffed and golden and the quiche seems pretty solid if you give it a little shimmy.
  • Allow to sit 10 – 15 minutes before attempting to cut.  Or it’ll be a little runny, that’s all, if that doesn’t bother you than dive in.
  • Quiche leftovers are better than fresh.  Reheat slices in the oven at 300° for 20 minutes, uncovered.
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13 Posted in Make It So

Guava Paste, You Shut Up!

Posted by on Aug 27, 2010 at 5:06 pm

Well, I’m disgusted.  So, I made this raspberry pie, see.  It’s a nice enough raspberry pie, it’s been a recent favorite around here after a long spat of cherry pie requests.  I realize we’re right smack in the middle of fresh fruit season, but two bags of frozen raspberries runs me less than $5 and when it’s too hot out to do anything but slap together a crust as fast as you can before the whole thing starts melting, it’s genius.

So there I am, making this pie, when I remember that Anger Burger reader Jason sent me a packet of guava paste.  Which is well and good, lord knows I love a fruit paste, but I was having trouble deciding what to do with the stuff.  It’s very dense and heavy, and while I wanted to make a guava cake, I knew I would have to cook it down with some water or guava juice to make it work in cake.  And you know, that’s a lot of work for someone who recently bought nicer jim-jam bottoms so that she felt less embarrassed about going out to check her mail in them.  However, I am standing there, staring at the usual pile of pie dough scraps, when a little fruitfly whispers in my ear: pasta de guayaba!  And I’m all, I don’t speak fruitfly!  You’re in America now!  Learn the language!  Freeloader.

First, a taste.  Primary reaction: SUGAR!  Holy christ, that’s sweet.  But then: GUAVA!  Lovely, floral, tropical guava.  It even has the slight grit of a guava – like a pear.  Somewhat disheartened, I wonder how I can make something so sweet palatable.

Hmm, I wonder, while staring at some fresh peaches.  Hmm.  What will I do.  Hmm.  Go buy some lemons?  What would I do with them then?  Hmm.  Man, there’s a lot of fruitflies around those peaches.

I know what you’re thinking: for a lady, she’s a sharp one.

There was enough dough left over for four hand-pies, which included 1 1/2 good-sized slices of guava paste and three slices of peach each.  Unsure of what else to do to them, I left them plain.  Just peach and guava paste, no spices, nothing.  The paste was plenty sugary to sweeten the slightly underripe peach, and I was getting too hot to give a shit otherwise.  I hit them with some egg wash and granulated sugar to form a crust and into the oven they went.

So basically, here’s the deal: this was maybe the best fucking pastry I have made in my entire goddamn life.  The guava paste softened in the heat and peach juices, and the peaches themselves were perfectly cooked.  For whatever reason, instead of suffering under the indignity of a re-roll, my pie dough turned out perfectly flaky and crisp.  The proportions, the flavors, everything about it was incredible.  As I ate I was overwhelmed with a blind fury, incensed that I hadn’t made a dozen of these things instead of wasting my time with that stupid raspberry pie.  Crumbs sprayed from me in a cloud.  I gulped for air around giant, still-warm mouthfuls of pie.

Jason, we may have to arrange for more of this guava paste to belong to me.

12 Posted in Obsessed

Waffle Makes It All Better

Posted by on Aug 26, 2010 at 10:05 pm

I swear I’m not going to be the blogger that tells you that she’s got some secret shenanigans going on in her life and how she can’t tell you about it but she can tell you that it is very stressful and important.  If I were that kind of blogger I’d assure you that I’d tell you all about it just as soon as I could (like the time a ventriloquism museum tried to sue me and I had to hire a lawyer¹) and afterwards you’d be all, pfft, was that all she was freaking out about? But, like I said: not that blogger.  I’m the kind of blogger that stuffs her face with $15 worth of waffles and yells at her boyfriend “YOU’RE THE SHITTIEST PHOTOGRAPHER!” on a street corner while spraying powdered sugar out of her mouth.  I wish I were kidding.

It’s like this: what would make a waffle better?  They’re already at the upper end of the awesomeness scale, but there’s room for improvement.  Perhaps if they were made from a denser yeasted dough rather than a batter, and were then just rolled in balls of pearl sugar so that when they were in the iron they turned chewy and caramelized.  At this point I’d say yes sir, you have achieved over-awesomenating.  Huzzah.

A restaurant in my neighborhood recently opened that serves Liege waffles, called Shaky Alibi.  I have to get this out of the way now so I can focus on the waffles but: for such a cheeky name, the place was naptime serious.   I wasn’t feeling it.  But also: who cares?  Waffles.  In the above photo you can see where the unmelted chunks of sugar remain, and I assure you this is a lovely thing: they are crunchy and sweet, and most of them have caramelized.  The texture of the waffle itself is fascinating, somewhere between a good, soft British scone and an American sticky bun.  The exterior is crispy and breadlike, but the interior has heft and grain.  In fact, the whole thing has heft.  It’s like a good-sized puppy.

Mike the Viking did actually take some good photos of me, but this is the one I identify with.

Now, the interesting thing is that they’ll make you a savory sandwich from these waffles.  So, the same sugared waffle, but sliced open and filled with turkey or ham (we chose ham) and a variety of cheeses (we chose swiss).  The Viking was reluctant to declare like-at-first-bite, but as a card carrying Monte Cristo addict, I was preemptively on board.  If I’d had some blackberry jam on the side I’d be dipping that fucker.  <– I can say that about a lot of things, now that I think about it.

Eventually he said he’d like it if it were saltier, to balance the sugar, which I can’t argue against.  I mean, saltier, sure.

But still we are not to where the problem lies.  FIFTEEN DOLLARS FOR THAT.  Well, $9 for the sandwich, and $6 for the plain waffle.  It’s a shame, too, because they are delicious.  But … I don’t know.  We kept discussing it like I imagine kind-hearted people discuss whether or not to stop eating meat.  Which is to say, with feeling.   On one hand, we kept rationalizing that we were eating an artisan product made fresh.  It’s no supermarket croissant we’re talking about here, we’re talking about a hot-from-the-iron yeasted pastry.  On the other hand, FIFTEEN DOLLARS.  No.  It’s like, I just paid $6 for what amounts to a really, really awesome donut.  Well, okay.  Wait, is that okay?  I don’t know!  If it were $4 I’ d be all over that shit.  I’d be back there right this second.

But $6?  I don’t know!  I still can’t decide.  Rather, I can say for certain: the sandwich is out.  The waffle itself is the star, and the ham and cheese present themselves as merely a $3 distraction.

Now, if it had a big piece of breakfast sausage and an egg in the middle…

¹ 100% true story. Ask me about it in person; for all I know they’re still standing by with their coterie of lawyers, seething.

12 Posted in Eatin' Fancy

INFURIATED EMOTICON!

Posted by on Aug 23, 2010 at 11:23 pm

You guys, I’m sweaty.  I don’t belong in this climate.  It gets over 95° and I basically subsist entirely on frozen grapes and anger.

Part of being angry involves moping around the house during the daytime when I can see how filthy it is, which makes me pretty irate.  Why don’t we have a fucking maid?  Since when do I have principles?

Part of what is really pissing me off lately is this:

Do you have this?  I didn’t used to be like this.  I am disgusted by counter clutter, it drives me nuts (arr, it’s drivin’ me nuts!).  It makes me so angry I didn’t feel like doing a decent job in Photoshop so now the letters are all nuclear retina-searing red.  RAGE!

Anyway, without a pantry I can’t put foods away easily; every food item is carefully stacked and piled into two cabinets.  Moreover, Mike the Nordic Berserker does not like it when he can’t find his snacks because he gets low blood sugar cannot hear Odin’s call.  You laugh (I hope) but it’s no joke, he really will go a whole day without eating and then suddenly have a skull-splitting headache and talk backwards and start getting his flaming crossbolts ready¹.  It started with just the bowl of Lara Bars, but in the last year it has come to be the entire prep table.  So then today I spent a lot of energy trying to wrangle the technical details of making a whole “snack cabinet” but then I blacked out and woke up with frozen yogurt and delivery vegetable korma all over my face.

Is there such thing as an antacid patch?

¹ During one of the last posts Mike said to me “I like how I’ve become the villain of your blog,” which might have been said sarcastically by a normal person, but since Vikings aren’t capable of complex emotional undertones, I’m going to take it at face value.

5 Posted in Pet Peeves

She Can’t Pay Rent, So She Must Dance

Posted by on Aug 19, 2010 at 11:40 am

The trick with throwing a piece of cheese to the dog is making sure that it lands where she can’t get to it.

She looked for that piece for a long time, much to our somebody-call-the-ASPCA entertainment.

And patiently waited for another one.

Until her head started to implode from need.

(For the record, the cheese stayed there until it became translucent.)

5 Posted in Totally Unrelated

This One’s for Aaron

Posted by on Aug 18, 2010 at 3:04 pm

Friend and semi-erstwhile Anger Burger contributor Aaron specifically requested that I eat a piece of cheeseburger sushi from the Yatta-! Truck here in Los Angeles.  He would have done it himself, but the truck doesn’t often make an appearance in Houston, Texas.

I should tell you: this was the day after my birthday dinner, which meant that I was still grossly full on meat fat.  But the truck hasn’t been near my house in a long time, and I feared I’d miss out on this quest entirely if I didn’t act.

I got a half-order each of the “All-American” (aka, the cheeseburger sushi) and a vegetable roll, partly because my arteries were begging me to stop, and partly to see if the Yatta-! boys could actually make sushi.

Short version: they can!  And the cheeseburger sushi was pretty delicious, all things considered.  The thing is, it doesn’t taste like sushi at all, but like a cheeseburger-flavored tater tot.  I’m not sure what made it such a strong tater tot flavor (maybe even just the ketchup), but there was nothing offensive about it. Crispy, fried, with a snap of pickle in the middle and the faintest whiff of cheese, I fear the presence of something like this next time I’m drunk.

The vegetable sushi was lovely, the rice was slightly warm and sticky but with good individual rice grain definition, not too tightly packed and small enough to pop the whole thing in your mouth.  I was sad I hadn’t gotten a full order.  Which, you know, is a very sad sentence to type.

1 Posted in Eatin' Fancy

An Exception to Every Rule

Posted by on Aug 17, 2010 at 4:56 pm

I can’t believe I’ve never told you about this before, but I have a law of universal constant named after me: Sunday’s Law of Unavailability.

I mean, sure, Mike named it that, but it’s a real thing.  It goes like this: the moment that I desire something — and the more mundane the item the more unavailable it becomes –  it is nowhere to be found.  Unfindable.  I want black jeans?  No one, and I mean no one makes black jeans for under $100.  I need some linen fabric?  It’s not linen season, tough shit.  Pectin?  My grocery store only carries bulk boxes of liquid pectin.

I can go on, but I won’t.  Because I can scratch one item off the list, and that item is chai.

This right here is my holy grail chai:

I used to love chai, I could and did drink gallons of all that sugary, anemic crap they sold at most espresso shops.  Iced or hot, didn’t matter.  I liked espresso too, but if I couldn’t take any more of the black gold, I’d switch to that candy-scented teat¹ of chai without missing a beat.

Of course, tastes change.  I stopped taking sugar in my coffee a few years back (out of laziness, first, and then out of preference) and more recently I’ve cut back on sugaring my tea as well.  Last Thanksgiving I made myself a cup of Oregon Chai after having not had it in years and almost blew it back out all over the kitchen. I used to drink this swill?

Thus I set off on the Great Chai Quest which we can just fast forward through because it sounds boring even to me, and I’m the one on stage here.  My mom was sitting in the doctors office reading a magazine, and read about Tipu’s chai, which was described as “peppery” and “intense”.  Or something similar enough that she discretely ripped the page out of the magazine and smuggled it home to me.  Because my beef with chai was twofold: it was always too sweetly spiced (much too much clove and cinnamon) and too hard to brew (microwaving a cup of bark like three times, then straining it and then adding a spoonful of sugar was more than I was willing to commit).

But here is Tipu, bless him, who makes instant chai.  But there’s something funny about it.  It’s not like instant coffee where the liquid is already brewed and the resulting product is dried.  Tipu’s is just the most finely ground spices and tea that I’ve seen in my life.  The second I opened the package I thought with awe and terror, this stuff is going to hurt.

And indeed, my first cup following their directions – 1 teaspoon to each 8oz cup – was so strong that it left my mouth burning for about an hour after drinking it.  Not like “Oh I’m a giant baby” burning, but a noticeable, low-grade warmth.  Spicy!  I was enchanted.  And kind of heartburny.

The second time around I remembered that most coffee cups actually hold 6oz of fluid and halved the powdered spices down to a half a teaspoon.  Xanadu!

And that, my friends, is the best cup of chai I’ve ever had.  Half soy, half water, a single teaspoon of sugar, lots of lingering peppercorn heat, and a sludge of pure evil at the bottom of the cup.  It truly makes mornings slightly less horrific.

¹ That reminds me of a story!  Many years ago my housemate worked at Starbucks. She wasn’t looking forward to the job, but we were all pleased to see in the following weeks that she not only lost weight, but seemed much peppier than usual. I didn’t notice, at first, that she always came home with the largest size of chai they served. I did start noticing that on her days off, she’d be incredibly irritable and eventually she even started going into work on mornings off to buy a chai. So, that’s weird. And then it came out that the chai had ephedrine in it. HA!  Whoops.

17 Posted in Obsessed

Birfday Dinner; Tummy Ache

Posted by on Aug 15, 2010 at 11:25 pm

I couldn’t decide where to go for my birthday because there’s bazillion places I wanted to eat, including a $1.50-a-slice pizza joint.  But if there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s prioritize my eating.  It’s actually only one of seven things I technically know how to do.

Enter: Animal!

My dining companion was Mike, also known as The Reluctantly Domesticated Viking.  I took this photo of him.  Isn’t he charming?  You’d think twice before swearing eternal vengeance against him for razing your village and spoiling your women.

I suggested he take a photograph of me for Anger Burger, and I got this:

True story.

Animal’s menu changes daily, but there are a few regular items.  One of these – chicken liver toast – was the only item I was 100% sure I knew I wanted to order, and I let loose the dreaded Julia Roberts guffaw when we arrived and I discovered that it wasn’t on the menu today.  Of course it wasn’t.

That’s okay, because there’s like eight things I wanted to order anyway.  First¹ on the list: poutine.  But, clearly not poutine.  I have to admit some disappointment here, though it’s my fault for not doing some research.  I knew it would be highly fancified poutine, and I was ready for it.  Except, I wasn’t ready for it to have shredded sharp cheddar in place of the mild cheese curds, nor a pile of oxtail meat (called “gravy” on the menu) instead of actual gravy,and despite this being fucking delicious, it just wasn’t poutine.  It was, however, a plate of french fries covered in braised oxtail and beautiful cheese, so there’s that.

Bone marrow.  Mike was actually sort of confused about this, despite being a Viking.  To be fair, I’m not certain they cook their meat at all, so I can understand his befuddlement. The bone is slow-roasted to render the marrow tender – the texture of creme brulee – and topped with chimichurri and caramelized onions.  You scoop this all out as a condiment for toast.  And I use the word “condiment” as one might refer to dynamite as a “firecracker”.

The problem was that after the “poutine” and the marrow, I was already full.  I hope you understand how mortified I was.  That was it.  My body was basically all, “Alright, that’s 2,000 calories right there, we can all pack up and head home.”  But then I was all, “Fuck you, body, it’s my birthday and I’ll cause you discomfort if I want to.”

Speaking of discomfort, how about some fois gras loco moco?

I’m afraid you read that correctly.  Animal is pretty well known for this dish, and at $35 a plate I am certain we’ll never order it again.  However!  Hemorrhaging money is the spice of life, so we had to do it.

And it was pretty fantastic, I must admit, though at the end of a already unintentionally meatfantastical meal (I mean, it wasn’t like I didn’t know what I’d ordered, but I definitely wished somewhere midway through the bone marrow that I’d ordered a salad or a purge bucket or something) it was a bit of a wrecking ball to the guts.  My cholesterol level was making my vision blur.  Mike had no trouble plowing through it, and much to my amazement I was way more interested in the rice than the meat.  The rice!  I can’t explain it.  It was so perfectly cooked that it was almost like a palate cleanser.  I’m kidding, was actually struggling to remain conscious at this point.  All the blood in my body pooled around my stomach and liver in an effort to keep the ship from sinking.

Tomorrow I’m eating only celery.  And cake.

¹ Not actually first; I first ordered the pig ears with chili, lime and fried egg, and then had a last-second panic attack and changed the order to poutine.

11 Posted in Eatin' Fancy

It’s My Birthday

Posted by on Aug 15, 2010 at 9:14 am

I don’t have much to say about it yet, I’ve only been awake for an hour, but I did already read this opinion piece about Los Angeles that made me literally squirm with glee and pride.

More later.

5 Posted in Uncategorized

Welcome Home, Honey

Posted by on Aug 14, 2010 at 8:17 pm

Let’s talk about boys for a second.

Actually, let’s not talk.  Let’s look at this photo of what my kitchen floor looked like after leaving a feral Viking and a middle-aged Boston Terrier alone for two weeks.

3 Posted in Totally Unrelated