Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Joy of Cooking...

As some of you know my main hobby is cooking. I spend an awful lot of time cooking, creating recipes, watching cooking shows, reading cooking books, etc. I got some money for Christmas this year from my parents and my Gram J, and I used it to buy two more lovely knives, thus (basically) completing my collection. I bought a Wusthof-Trident paring knife, and a Kasumi titanium 13mm chef's knife (which is really more of a utility knife). Here they are on the left. I got them both for a wicked awesome price at the Boxing Day sale at The Casual Gourmet here in Hamilton.

Yes, the Kasumi (the bottom knife) really is titanium...well, kind of. The knife is actually a Molybdenum-Vanadium alloy (a super hard steel) with a titanium coating. That's why it's black. They say the titanium creates a non-reactive coating on the blade so there's no flavour transfer from the steel to the food. I've heard this argument before with regard to ceramic knives, and it still sounds like utter bunk to me, but the titanium does seem to provide an excellent strength to weight ratio for the knife. In any case, it's absurdly light. A little bit too light honestly. I do like the knife, and it's vastly superior to the crappy old utility knife I've been using up until now, but my Global Chef's Knife and Santoku Knife are in no danger of being replaced. My other criticism is that the angle of attack on the handle is a little bit too steep. It feels like I'm putting my energy in the wrong place when I cut. That might be my imagination or it might just be a comfort issue. Overall I'd only give the knife a B rating.

Though it was the Kasumi that I was excited about, the Wusthof turned out the be the real treat. I went to the store with the intention of buying a MAC paring knife, but nothing in stock really turned my crank plus I've heard some mediocre things about MACs of late. Then the manager showed me the Wusthof Culinar series knife. She's not planning to stock that line anymore so the display models were 50% off, which seemed like just he right price to me, plus the all-steel look blends nicely with my Globals, so I went for it. I'm not generally a fan of German knives. I hate my Henckels knives, especially my five-star paring knife. It doesn't sharpen very well and can't keep an edge at all. It was also rather pricey which only adds to my deep bitterness. I've also tried some Wusthofs before and never been overly impressed. With all of this I wasn't expecting a lot from the paring knife, but it is awesome! Wonderfully sharp, lovely balance and hand feel, cuts like a dream...the perfect knife so far. The only test now is the durability of the edge, but it will take quite a while to finish that test (I hope). Without accounting for durability I'm happy to give this one an A+, though that will drop down to a B if the edge won't hold.

On the subject of cooking, Jin had an idea that I like. She suggested some kind of recipe exchange with my friends, so I thought I'd start on the blog. I've got quite a few recipes that I'm happy with at this point, many of which are my own, and I thought it would be nice to share the wealth. I'd also love to see your recipes, be they your originals or riffs on someone else's work. Here's a start from me.

BBQ Tangerine-Marinated Chicken:

1 medium roasting Chicken
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic
2 tangerines (may substitute orange or any kind)
1/4 cup good olive oil
1/4 cup good honey
2 Tbsp molasses
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
bunch of fresh thyme
BBQ sauce for basting

Remove the breast and back-bones of the chicken so that you have two equal halves (alternatively have your butcher do this). Clean and dry the bird. Season all sides liberally with salt and pepper. In a bowl combine the zest and juice from the tangerines (strain out any pulp or seeds) and oil with the honey, molasses, and mustard. Quantities of honey and molasses are approximate, use enough to balance the acidity of the juice. Roughly chop the onion and smash the garlic and place in a large ziploc bag along with several sprigs of thyme. Place chicken in bag, pour marinade over chicken. Remove any excess air from the bag and ensure that all of the surfaces of the chicken are in contact with the marinade. Leave the marinating chicken in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours, and preferably overnight.

When you're ready to cook, preheat the outside burners of your BBQ (if you only have 2, preheat one side). Place chicken skin-side down over the hot flame until it's achieved a nice golden colour (be very careful not to burn, there's a lot of sugar in the marinade), then transfer to a spot off of direct heat and close the lid. Baste the chicken several times throughout the process with BBQ sauce (I use homemade, but a good store bought variety will do). It's difficult to suggest a precise cooking time as BBQs can vary dramatically in temperature. Instead use a meat thermometer and cook until the temp is about 170-175f (the recommended temp for chicken is 180, but the meat will continue to cook a little bit while it rests). Remove to a plate and tent with foil, let rest approx 10-15 mins.

You can carve the chicken into four pieces if you like, or if you have a couple of people with hearty appetites, go ahead a serve the halves as they are. I like to serve this with homemade fries and either a salad or a nice veg.