Thursday, December 14, 2006

KFC logo redesign

In early November KFC introduced a new symbol for only the fourth time in it's 50-year history. In this new iteration the colonel sheds his suit for an apron. Many folks that I discussed this with don't really understand the change. Most folks believe the colonel was only a figurehead for the company when, in fact, he developed the recipe and often spent time in the kitchen. Harland Sanders owned a service station where he developed his famous recipe of fried chicken, first serving folks food from his living room. His reputation grew until he could own his own restaurant, where he was the chef, and developed his unique method of cooking chicken using a pressure cooker. Also not readily known is that he did this at the age of 40 after being a firefighter, a steamboat captain and a salesman. His familiar white outfit was adopted after he was made an honorary colonel by the governor of Kentucky as a means of self-promotion.

In my opinion this change is the greatest change to the image of KFC since they changed their name from Kentucky Fried Chicken to KFC to fend off concerns of excess fat content. The significance of this change is that the recipe used today is still the same recipe designed by Mr. Sanders himself, that he was an authentic chef and a culinary visionary.

This is exactly what a brand is meant to do--—evolve, redefine, and support customer loyalty. Brands are defined by what customers believe and feel in their hearts, not what the corporation or a marketing departments say. I do believe and predict that KFCs stock wil rise due to this image change. Why? It brings convenience and honesty home. People who love KFC love it because it's easy, fast, and very reasonably priced. Those are exactly the values that the Colonel was trying to do. I see this change as more of a true-to-image change than anything else. KFC lovers know it in their hearts that it's a great product, now the symbol has evolved to show that.

The colonel would be proud.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Turkey Day 2006

This Thanksgiving Day was a great time for food, bad time for my camera to go on the fritz. I won't have pics until later, but I might as well blab on about the food. Yeah sorry, not much to say about design yet.

Usually I am with my family up in Cleveland, however this year I made dinner for my wife's family. A typical Cleveland T-Day consists of turkey with giblet gravy, ham or pork roast, huge dumplings, sage stuffing, saurkraut and sausage or stuffed cabbage, cranberry sauce and relish, a lettuce salad, canned sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, deviled eggs and many bottles of wine. My wife's typical T-Day is turkey with plain gravy, box dressing, macaroni and cheese, canned sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, rolls, green bean casserole and soda. Of course my family is larger, but I think the ethinicity is more prevalent despite the extra dishes.

To blend the two I played it safe...turkey with gravy made from stock saved from months ago including the fond from that time. Wild mushroom stuffing tamales, candied sweet potatoes made from fresh Louisiana yams, deviled eggs, fresh cranberry-orange-pomegranate relish, sweet corn, green bean casserole, wheat rolls, and packaged mashed potatoes (for my wife).

One of my greatest prizes from the meal is a very thick, dark and very rich gravy made afterward from the pan drippings and the 2 Qts. of stock I made from the carcass, which I made later Thursday night. The tamales turned out OK. In the rush I forgot to saute the aromatics so it was crunchier than I intended.

Sunday I made sweet potato gnocchi with a maple-pomegranate glaze and a turkey ragu from the dark meat utlizing the dark gravy mixed with stock for the liquid.

Wild Mushroom Tamales

1 lb 12-grain bread , dried, diced
20 dried corn husks
1 oz. dried mushrooms
4 Tbsp butter, unsalted
1 cup onion, medium , chopped
1 cup celery , chopped
2 Tbsp shallot, large , chopped
2 Tbsp garlic clove, large , minced
1 sprig thyme
1 tsp sage , chopped
.5 tsp rosemary , chopped
.5 tsp salt
.25 tsp black pepper
.5 cup turkey stock , reduced by half
4 eggs, large , lightly beaten
1 Tbsp chives , chopped

Cover husks with water and simmer for 10 min. then let soak for 2 hrs. Place mushrooms in bowl or cup and cover with boiling water. Place saucer over bowl to keep mushrooms submerged, let set for 1 hour. Dice bread, spread on baking sheet and place in 200° oven for 30 min., set aside. Turn oven up to 350°.

Save juice from mushrooms but press and drain mushrooms, then chop. In 2 T butter, saute onions and celery until onions start to get clear then add shallots, garlic, thyme, sage, rosemary, salt and pepper. At end add 2 additional T of butter and let melt.

Place bread in large bowl and add vegetables and butter, mushrooms, chives, eggs, 1/2 cup of reserved mushroom juice and turkey stock and mix well.

Take 2-3 husks and tear 1/4" strips to tie filled tamales. Lay whole husks flat, place mound of stuffing in center and fold husk sides together over stuffing. Twist each end and tie with strip. Repeat. Place tamales on a cooling rack on a baking sheet in the oven for ~40min. or to 160°. To serve, cut slit down center and push ends together to expose stuffing or completely unwrap. Drizzle with gravy.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Old Town Fiesta, Part IV

Church Street Cafe
2111 Church Street

• Chili with Red Sauce Meat and Beans
• Menudo with Red Sauce on the side
• Posole with Green Sauce on side with Sopapilla
• Sangria

Every one of the sampled dishes was fantastic. The chili was the best I've had in a long time and the sauces were rich and smooth.

The real taste I was seeking here was the tripe. I was raised eating tripe (specifically beef reticulum, or honeycomb tripe) and offal in its many forms are part of my family cuisine. One of my Dad's favorite dishes is pig tails and beans (a dish known as Kuba), sausage was a food group and chicken hearts were the prize giblets. You should see my family at a pig roast practically fighting to get pieces of the crisped skin.

Breaded Tripe

1 egg, large, lightly beaten
1 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup Flour, all purpose
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp thyme, dried, crushed
1/2 tsp black pepper, ground
oil for frying
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 lbs tripe, beef reticulum, cut, palm size

1. Boil tripe from 30-45 minutes, until fork tender. Drain and let cool to room temp.

2. Heat oil in pan. Use only enough to raise oil halfway up thickness of meat. Heat until breadcrumb sizzles, ~350°-370°.

3. Mix breadcumbs, flour, paprika, thyme, and pepper together on bowl for dredging.

4. Lightly beat egg and milk together in shallow dish. Pat tripe dry then run through egg wash mixture. Drain shortly, then coat with breadcrumb mixture, patting breadcrumbs into surface.

5. Pan fry in oil until golden, flip, repeat. Drain on rack, cover with foil to rest.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Old Town Fiesta, Part III

High Noon Saloon
425 San Filipe NW

• House Margarita
• La Pinta Margarita
• Single Track Ale

Now I'm feeling kinda thirsty. I start getting my bearing, exploring the little alleyways of Old Town and taking keeping an eye on shops I want to return to later in the day. There's a Cat House right down from the creperie selling cat-related merchandise, many souvenir shops that I don't even poke my head into and lots of art shops. I noticed a shop named Hispania that displayed lots of Dia de los Muertos items that caught my eye, but I was getting more thirsty. I spied a shop keeper to ask for a recommendation. As I approached he threw towards me an arm load of beads and said, "Have some beads!" Obliging I asked him, "So who makes the best margarita in Old Town?" First he said, "Why, I do!" but before I could tell him to fire up the blender he directed me to the High Noon Saloon.

The High Noon Saloon is pretty non-descript from the outside, but inside what a treat. saloon really doesn't do it justice. The decor is adobe, but it has a very contemporary feel to it. It' s cozy, yet chic. And the margaritas...they pack a great punch.

First I tried their house 'rita which was plenty strong, then I spied a La Pinta Pomegranate Tequila. The bartender explained that it's not a very potent tequila so she typically will use it instead of Triple Sec in a 'rita. Yum. Still needing a little more moisture I opted for a Single Track Copper Ale, a Colorado brew with a refreshing taste.

Feeling pretty good and wobbly I'm off to do some shopping.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Old Town Fiesta, Part II

La Crêpe Michel
400 San Filipe NW (Patio San Filipe Del Norte)

• Crêpe Aux Fruits De Mer (Shrimp, bay and sea scallops in velouté with mushrooms)

A slight detour from southwestern fare, La Crêpe Michel is traditional country french bistro. The sample menu featured both sweet and savory crêpes though when I was brought the menu it only included savory (the dessert menu has the sweet.) I chose to go with seafood figuring that I probably would not be encountering much seafood this day. The crêpe was light and stuffed full of shrimp and scallops...maybe even too much. I was hoping to taste a little more of the crêpe. Just as a note, this crêpe was simply folded over once.

Crêpes are a little foreign to me even though I grew up eating palacinka, the eastern european version of a crêpe. Palacinka are rolled and crêpes are folded seems to be the broad distinction. My mother always filled them with cottage cheese sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.

My favorite "crêpe" is one I made for folks at work...Strawberry Goat Cheese Mousse Palacinka.

Strawberry Goat Cheese Mousse Palacinka

4............eggs, large, beaten
.5 tsp....salt
2 cups..milk
2 tsps....sugar
2 cups...Flour, all purpose, sifted
clarified butter

1...........strawberry for garnish
3...........Strawberries for filling
8 oz.......Heavy Cream

1/2 qt....Strawberries
1/4 cup..sugar
1/4 cup..water

Mix flour, salt and sugar. Combine well-beaten eggs and milk. Add gradually to flour mixture beating to a thin smooth batter. Pour 1/8 cup of the batter on a hot buttered skillet. Batter must be very thinned and smooth.

Fry on both sides. (*Tip; Watch the edges and when they are lightly browned, then it's time to flip the cake.) Continue this until all batter is used. Stack on warm plate.

Filling: Dice strawberries and reserve. Blend heavy cream and chevre until smooth.

Coulis: Dice strawberries, add sugar and water and cook over medium heat until well blended.

Contruct: Lay crepe flat, spoon thick line of cheese mixture down center and sprinkle with diced berries. Roll crepe and cover with stream of coulis from squirt bottle. Top with sliced strawberry garnish.

Old Town Fiesta, Part I

During October 12-15 I had the chance to join my wife in Albuquerque, NM and then ramble across the high desert to the Grand Canyon and then the Chaco Canyon. The culinary high point was on Thursday when I got to spend a good portion of the day exploring the shops and eateries of Old Town. Old Town is where the first families settled in Albuquerque back in 1706, the architecture is Pueblo-Spanish (adobe) and many of the original homes still exist as shops, galleries and businesses.

The next few posts will feature each of the four eateries I had the time to visit along with recipes that I have made and perhaps pics of some of my purchases. We'll see.

For now, here's my first stop:

Alfredo's Coffee House
2104 Charlevoix St NW

• Cappuccino
• Huevos Rancheros with meat and green salsa, mexican rice and pintos on the side, lettuce and tomato garnish

This was a nice little place located in the Hacienda Place area of Old Town. though it was going on 11am I was still in need of a cup-o-joe and some breakfast. Heevos Rancheros was definitely on my mind, and I wasn't disappointed (well, except for the kitchen mix-up that put papas on my plate instead of arroz...which ended up being cold) in the eggs. I ordered them over easy and the yolk mixture with the salsa, meat and tortilla was great.

A favorite southwestern dish I like to whip up are my Breakfast Burritos.

Breakfast Burritos

7.5 oz...........Chorizo, carne de res
4...................Large eggs
1/2...............Medium Red Onion, diced
2...................Serrano Chilis, minced
1/4 cup........Crema or sour creme
1 cup............Enchilada Sauce
small bunch..Cilantro, chopped
5...................6" Flour tortillas

Remove chorizo from plastic casing and break up into chunks. Cook chorizo for 2 min. as it starts breaking up. Mash with spoon while cooking. add onions and chilis and cook until onions are translucent. Add eggs and continuously fold to mix evenly as eggs cook. Season with salt. Cooks eggs until just set, no further. Take off heat and divide onto warmed tortillas. Roll tortilla and with seam down, coat with enchilada sauce and zigzag with crema, each from a squirt bottle down length. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve. Makes 5 burritos.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Lox of Love

I love tomatoes. I'm sure a lot of people do, but since I have an acute potato allergy I feel lucky that my allergy doesn't include all nightshade related plants.

This past weekend I stopped by the Clintonville Farm Market and bought a nice basket of homegrown tomatoes for $4. Wahoo!

I ended up spending 5 hrs of the day cleaning out my garage and was thoroughly famished when I was done. It was getting late and I wasn't about to fire up the stove so i rummaged through the fridge. I found half a log of Silver Goat Chevre, half a package of norwegian salmon, half a red onion. Add to that some capers and a few slices of organic roasted garlic bread and I have the making of some killer new york style lox.

I took a palm-sized tomato, cut in wedges abd liberally applied Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. I toasted the bread to just crisp and spread a nice disk of cheese on each piece. Top that with pieces of salmon, paper thin slices of onion and a sprinkle of capers.

Hungry yet? I wolfed that plate down like no tomorrow. Coming up soon I'll show you my version of Caprese Crustini. Enjoy those tomatoes, the season is nearly over.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Triple Salmon

A local store had salmon on sale and there was no way I could resist, especially since the fillets were rather thick. I was hoping to grill these guys but a torrential rainstorm dampened those thoughts. Instead I decioded to bak the fillets in butter and olive oil. Mmmm. Rather than doing all three pieces the same I decided to season each differently.

[Heat oven to 475°] First all three fillets are seasoned with kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper. The first fillet adds on dried Thyme (from fresh) and minced lemon zest. The second fillet gets dried dill weed and a drizzle of dill/porcini oil. The third gets a full coat dusting of gaujillo pepper powder. Let these sit at room temperature for 10-15 min so the rub can settle in a bit.

I add a Tbsp of unsalted butter and Tbsp of EVOO to the preheated roasters. Each are placed skin-side up and roasted for 6 min. each side. To serve I added a final sauce lightly to each. The Thyme and Lemon got a red pepper remoulade, the Dill got a light drizzle of Dill/Porcini oil, and the Gaujillo Pepper received a splash of rich hot sauce.

I served three 1" cuts together on a plate utop a thick bed of wild mushroom polenta and a wreath of haricot vert which was steamed with garlic and oregano and seasoned. I also had a nice small bowl of mushy peas as well. Why? Because I realized I had more in the pantry than I thought.

On the design side: It was a very busy day, mostly because of my overthinking a project and taking way too long. I got everything accomplished, but not until 7pm.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Hi Foodies!

Well, here's another attempt at a blog. I work as a graphic designer at an ad agency but I secretly (ok, not so secretly) wish I was a cook. So, if I run out of one topic, I'll just switch to the other. Food and/or Design.