Jenny Famewhore

Thursday in the Heights: The Armaggedon Burger

Posted in Recipes by Jenny Famewhore on February 11, 2010

The Armageddon Burger

By Jenny Liu

Published: Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Originally Titled, "French Toast- Bacon Apple Turkey-Burger"

It is your last meal on earth. In these hours of armageddon, what will you eat?

I contemplated this for a while, and after toying with the concept of combining filet mignon, foie gras, and caviar into one expensive last stand, I instead determined that for a final meal, it would be more appropriate to salute America, the country whose fruitful bounty has sustained my past 20 years of existence. In keeping with the American spirit, this dish must be excessive. It should also include breakfast, lunch, and dinner, for the opportunity to experience all three, one last time.

Those who are faint of heart or morally opposed to carnivorous feeding frenzies, you may want to cover your eyes.

It is irrelevant where the burger was invented and who served it first. What matters is that a burger is synonymous with the American food identity. But instead of the usual beef patties, it was only natural to include turkey and apples, as food items entrenched in American folklore with the pilgrims and Johnny Appleseed. Remember him? Who knew that his legacy would one day include inspiring recipes for heart attacks?

Instead of buns, let’s be daring and replace them with French toast, smothered in eggs and bacon grease. Did I forget to mention that there is bacon? Yes, before anything, it should be sizzling on that stove with the noble purpose of seasoning the pan with its grease for the egg-soaked bread and applesauce-infused turkey patties that are waiting to leap into that bath of piggy essence.

When the bacon, French toast, and turkey patties are cooked, assemble them in the way that is most logical to you, adding the condiments and cheese, of the American variety of course. Sprinkle the confectioner’s sugar over the French toast buns and liberally douse it in maple syrup — “like the Niagara” would be a suitable simile in this context. It would be wise to eat this monster of a burger with utensils, but then again, caution is for survivors.

After that, maybe down a few antacid tablets to ensure that the acid heart reflux will not interfere with the final pleasure of such decadence. Just in case.

You know you’re curious about how this baby was formed, continue here: http://www.bcheights.com/arts/the-scene/the-armageddon-burger-1.1124573

Btdubs, I wanna know, what would y’all eat in the event of a zombie apocalypse?

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Thursday in the Heights: Tasting El Salvador

Posted in Recipes, Travel by Jenny Famewhore on January 29, 2010

By Jenny Liu

Published: Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I am walking into Arbol del Dios, past a gallery devoted to El Salvador’s most celebrated resident artist, Fernando Llort. My mind absorbs the bright colors and bold outlines from my peripherals, but my feet keep me moving past the paintings, scenes of village life, courtyard, and sunlit emerald facade. Despite the vibrant colors and the view of paradise, I do not pause until I am in the restaurant, pointing at food and muttering my heart’s desires in fragmented Spanish.

workers at Tipicos Margoth, making pupusas

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Anxiety Baking

Posted in Recipes by Jenny Famewhore on November 18, 2009

(Delicious) Apricot-Oatmeal Bar

Crunchy, buttery, gooey reminder of summer all packed into self-defined bite size. For lovers of crusts, the slight tang of apricot, and those who are procrastinating on doing anything but what they’re supposed to, this apricot-oatmeal bar is quick and guiltless until you realize that half of it is gone; but by then, the sugar kick has already set in and back to work reinvigorated it is.

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Mac and Cheese takedown taken-down

Posted in Boston, Recipes by Jenny Famewhore on November 15, 2009
Mac and Cheese throwdown prize

a hastily written sign, and three boxes of 'good tastes' mac

Cooked, went, distributed, and conquered the Mac and Cheese takedown today (Nov. 15) at Great Scott, and here’s a one giant, self-congratulatory, spoiler about the conclusion: My Mac and Cheese-hurriedly-entitled, “Jenny’s Mac and Cheese: Asian invasion,” won 2nd place people’s choice!!!

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At the Great Scott: a sold out event

It was my first time ever entering a food competition (and my fourth time ever making legitimate Mac and Cheese, including the practice batch made yesterday) and aside from the prize of three boxes of Good tastes’ Four Cheese, Mediterranean, and Brie & Fig Mac & Cheese, I also gained a plump blister on my index finger from chopping onions all morning, the wicked pleasure of hearing my name announced with gusto and then followed by an explosive applause (I wish I could get a video of that to replay during moments of low-confidence,) and met some fantastic cooks in the Boston area– fierce, tingly delicious, and creative competition.

I thank my academy of people: Anna, for introducing me to the Thrillist mailing list where I discovered this chance; friends who were present last night at Larissa’s wine party, who were subjected to the delights of being my guinea pig control group for the test batch; Erin, for opening my cans when I was rushing around and freaking out a la Alice in Wonderland’s White Rabbit; Kristen, for driving me to Great Scott; and to all the people who courageously ate my Mac & Cheese and voted for it.

Of approximately 20 entrants, other great Mac and Cheese contenders included: lobster mac and cheese (to my left;) Mac and cheese of Doom with peppers, whole wheat pasta (to my right;)  truffle and thyme mac and cheese with sea salt sprinkled on top; Gorgonzola mac and cheese with crushed walnuts; bacon mac and cheese with homemade BBQ sauce (the boy had a clever t-shirt exclaiming, “Basically like God .. on a plate.. with bacon;”) and a judge’s choice first place winner, double-baked taters with chives, sour-cream, and bacon Mac and Cheese. Nom nom, that was delicious and appealed to my taste buds in a comforting, extremely satisfying way.

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The final product-- a pan-asian experiment

I’ll let you in on a dirty, behind the scenes secret: I hadn’t a clue how my Asian Invasion Mac and Cheese tasted when I served it– it was my first time making it with all the recipe edits and augmentations. I woke up late and ran out of time making it, so I covered it immediately out of the oven, and booked it to the venue. Then I stood there and served it to 200 people behind the hot, sweaty lines on an adrenaline high of having subsisted on nothing but Dunkin’ Donut coffee with a turbo shot, and a pint of Strongbow, semi-consciously hoping that no food or taste poisoning occurs. Victory tastes sweetest when least expected.

Making-of and recipe follows.

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Thursday in the Heights: Snake Bites

Posted in Recipes by Jenny Famewhore on November 1, 2009
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The Heights, October 29, 2009

Snake Bites

By: Jenny Liu

Published: Thursday, October 29, 2009

In Halloweens previous, I had roped my friends into going trick-or-treating with me. But after several embarrassing encounters, wherein the candy-dispensing parents would slyly ask us, “So how old are you all?” I decided to find other ways to fulfill the needs of my inner child. In the spirit of the holiday—absurd, theatrical, and supremely over-the-top, I thought of one person I could turn to: Paula Deen, Food Network celebrity and queen of gluttonous, Southern-inspired comfort cuisine. After all, what could be scarier than scarfing down pounds of butter and cheese, and ending up in a food coma?

Paula Deen’s rise to Food Network fame was a tour de force. Legend has it, Paula Deen, recent divorcée, with two sons and two-hundred dollars, moved to Savannah, Georgia, where she started a small catering company, The Bag Lady, and soon after, a wildly successful restaurant, The Lady and Sons, which garnered critical acclaim. Now, she is the accomplished host of Paula’s Best Dishes, Paula’s Home Cooking, and Paula’s Party. With her shocking white hair and intense blue eyes, her indiscriminate use of butter and, sassy remarks, most people either want to have a heart attack watching her shows or feverously wishes she were their grandmother. I am still waiting to be adopted.

This holiday, I wanted to avoid the usual clichés of pumpkin and apple recipes and opted instead for one of Paula’s Halloween recipes, Snake Bites. The appeal of Paula Deen’s recipes is that they are generally classic, ordinary dishes, but with a hedonistic spin (And by that, I mean, injected with several sticks of butter and a bucket of lard.) This also means that they are very easy to make, even for someone like me, who, without a meal plan, is left to flounder with late-night leftovers from Roggies’ and New Hong Kong out of sheer laziness. The Snake Bites is an epic sandwich, layered with nearly two inches of deli-cuts and cheese inside a flaky, buttery crescent roll.

When assembling the innards, I halved the amount of meat, still sufficient to produce an artery-clogging glory. I don’t think the entire 30 ounces of ham, salami, and bologna the recipe calls for can possibly fit onto one crescent roll. Alternate the layers of deli-cuts and cheese for an integrated effect. Also, any type of cheese or meat can be substituted to your liking. In fact, you can throw anything but the kitchen sink in there. Even make it into a dessert. In another step, I did not use food coloring, and merely spread the egg yolk on top of the dough. Once it bakes in the oven, the yolk coating would give it a glossy brown sheen.

One lethal biteIt’s a snake! A slug! A caterpillar! Or, insert your favorite annelid here! Due to the malleability of the dough, it can be shaped into any long, cylindrical creature of your desire.

The name of the recipe, “Snake Bites,” is an obnoxious word-play in many ways, yet appropriately justified: a single bite, though not necessarily lethal, would send anyone into a lipid-induced bliss.

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Cooking style: The lazy chef

Posted in Recipes by Jenny Famewhore on October 6, 2009

The extent of my culinary training is eating a lot, occasionally watching my mother cook (in a peripheral, attention-deficit way– mentally wandering far from the preparations happening before my unfocused eyes), and indulging in a little baking thrice a year (on a good year.) Professional cooking: the balletic dicing of peppers, filleting of a sea bass, or the neat julienne of carrots, is a spectator sport to me, much like how football is a spectator sport that most Americans can passionately drone on about but in practice, relegate to non-committal dabbling.

My mother came from a fairly agrarian background, the countryside of southern China in a coastal town where people caught or bred their meats, planted their vegetables, and lived self-sustainably (what the urban food movements are ironically striving for). Her culinary training was not from recipe books, but rather, from memory, from learning from my grandmother, from trial and error and the natural process of learning by doing. As a result, she would impart her knowledge of how to make dishes like, 酸辣汤 (a spicy and sour soup), 醉鸡 (“drunken chicken” marinated in a white rice wine),饺子 (dumplings) to me not in the traditional form of ingredient-measurement, but rather in ingredient-proportion.

And that’s how I cook– on intuition that this amount of this goes with this amount of that. With passion, with the natural curiosity to experiment. With a million different inaccuracies, and a range of variations from one dish to the next. I cook spontaneously, with little patience for academically poring over the intricate recipe of a French cassoulet, a labor intensive Spanish paella, and anything that requires more than 10 minutes to digest the instructions and execute. I cook minimally,  and the result below is inspired by the taste boredom of eating re-heated take-out Chinese food ordered at 4AM (the notoriously dependable New Hong Kong!) and corporate presentation cheese-platters for two weeks before the food lover in me started slitting its wrists to seek attention.

So I rummaged through my refrigerator, for bits ‘n scraps, and somehow, something taste-bud rocking, healthy, and perfect for the lazy cook (the oven does the heavy lifting here) was born:

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What’s in it:

  • 3 lb “kosher” chicken (segmented into 8 pieces by the able butchers at Trader Joe’s)
  • 3 tomatoes (I got 3lbs worth of tomatoes for a $1 from Haymarket two Saturdays ago!!!)
  • 1/2 clove of garlic
  • 1 onion (I used to have them frozen before I chopped them– which is one way to prevent inconvenient weeping, but that was rather unintentional and a trick learned in a slumdog millionaire manner. The refrigerator in my Tokyo flat had only one temperature setting, so I had to defrost everything from strawberry jam to daikon radishes– which were creepy because the water would crystallize in between the meaty parts of the radish, so when the water melted, the daikon deflated and wrinkled like a fetus.)
  • 1 lime’s worth of juice (also, another brilliant 10 limes/$1 investment at Haymarket. Best time to go is around 4-5pm, when all the workmen want to go home and are eagerly getting rid of their leftover wares for way below production value.)
  • a handful of chopped parsley
  • olive oil (enough to coat chicken in a thin layer of the Mediterranean, and so the parsley/additional seasoning adheres more readily)
  • liberal amount of salt and pepper (as you wish)

How it becomes dinner:

Preheat oven to 350 — the hardest part of making this actually. It’s the easiest step to forget.

Put everything in a baking pan and mush it all together. This is my favorite part.. getting all in there, the front lines, fingers coated with oil and raw ingredients. Bake for ~45 minutes, then open the oven and turn the pieces of chicken over. Might as well move around the tomatoes in the drippings/sauces so they don’t dry out. Bake for another 10-15 minutes.

Serving Size: 4 extremely ravenous people.

Food Cost: $13 (opportunity costs/trade-offs: one dessert at Finale Desserts; 2 pork buns at Momofuku; or 3 McGangbangs.)

Lazy points: 9/10 (Subtract 1 for having to peel garlic. What an annoying prep necessity.)

Referenced Locations:

Trader Joe’s
(various locations)
1317 Beacon St
Brookline, MA 02445
(617) 278-9997

Haymarket
Blackstone Street, around the corner of Quincy Market
Boston, MA
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