Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Shocked and humbled

It's been 4 days since The Geeky Gourmet made it's debut. We now have 145 people who "like" us on Facebook and we've seen nearly 100 unique IP addresses download the show. That means that at least 145 people know we exist and almost 100 people have listened to some part of our show. Those are very exciting numbers! You'd think that those facts would inflate my ego. However, it's very humbling to know that many people care about me and Howie and what we're doing. The support from everyone is such a blessing. This gives me motivation to make improvements where needed, always keep our listeners interested, and to not let y'all down.

This experience has been a lot of fun. The facts that we come across through research, the funny blogs we read, or the things I see that inspire me...it's all such a pleasure! I'm even enjoying learning about the recording and radio business. And when we're actually recording the show? It's a blast! I couldn't ask for a better co-host (or producer). With that said, I'll admit that it is a bit of work. While I can honestly say I know a lot of this off the top of my head, I do want to be sure I get my facts straight before I claim to be "the expert" and tell our listeners all about it. I try to make sure I'm not leading anyone astray. There is lots of research done. There's also a good bit of planning involved.

The best part, for me, is sharing my passion with others. I love to cook and bake and basically be immersed in the culinary world. If I didn't I wouldn't have this blog and I certainly wouldn't be making this show. My personal goal for The Geeky Gourmet is to share the knowledge I have about one of the greatest passions in my life. If you're interested in something, you generally want to learn more about it, right? I want to help people with that. If you are interested in something that I know lots about, I'd love to share what I know with you. And if I don't know so much, then I'd like to learn more about it myself!

I have a good many things left to learn. I hope that I never stop learning, actually. And I'll always be able to make improvements. That is the case in many aspects of my life and career. My cooking skills and the food I create can always be made better. My relationships with friends and family can always be made just a little bit stronger. There will always be room for improvement in our show. The important thing is to have a strong foundation. And that's what I/we have. Now it's time to start moving forward and adding on to what we've already got.

I'm extremely proud of Howie and myself and the show we're producing. I appreciate all the support and feedback. It means more to me than I can convey in writing. I hope that you'll all keep reading, keep listening, and keep learning.

<3 Elle

P.S. We now have a gmail account! If you've got a recipe you'd like to submit, a story to share, or if you just want to say "Hi!", write us at thegeekygourmet@gmail.com. And as always, you can find us on our Facebook or Twitter pages.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Insert fanfare music here!

Y'all! It's here! My first show! And while the show is called "The Geeky Gourmet", you're going to find out why I am the Giggly Gourmet. There are a lot of giggles. But beyond that, there is good information and a show that I'm really proud of. Howie did an amazing job co-hosting and producing this. It is the first one, so there are always some glitches. The good news is that it only gets better from here.

I really hope you all enjoy this and of course I welcome constructive critiques, comments, and questions.

Show #1- Figs!

The show is split into 4 segments, basically so it makes it easier to download and/or e-mail.

Below are some of the recipes I talked about on the show. There will be more of them posted later this week. Some just need a little more testing before I feel comfortable enough to share them.

Fig Tart
10-inch pastry crust:
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3-4 Tbsp cold water

In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until the particles are pea sized. Sprinkle in the water a little at a time moving the flour with your hands to try and work the mixture into a ball. If it's a little sticky, add a bit more flour. Wrap it in plastic and you'll want to refrigerate the dough ball for about an hour. After it's chilled, place the dough on a floured board and roll it out into a 12-inch circle. Place the dough in a 10-inch tart or pie pan and press it in gently so it clings to the sides. Trim any dough hanging off the sides of the baking pan and patch any holes or cracks with dough scraps. Using a fork, perforate the dough all over. This will help the air escape so the crust doesn't puff up. Pre-bake the crust in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes or just until it is very lightly browned. Cool completely before filling.

Tart Filling:
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp candied lemon peel, minced (or 1 tsp fresh lemon zest)
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
12-15 fresh figs, quartered

Combine all ingredients except for the figs. Pour the filling into the cooled tart shell. Arrange the figs on top of the filling in an even, single layer. I chose to arrange them in a circular fashion. Bake the completed tart for about 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven. The middle may be slightly gooey.

Cool completely, cut, and serve!

Figs "Foster"
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp cardamom (optional)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup dark rum
10 figs, halved
vanilla or brown sugar ice cream

Combine the butter, spices, and brown sugar in a skillet. Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Carefully place the figs in the pan and cook for about 3 minutes. Then, add the rum and continue cooking the mixture until the rum is hot. VERY CAREFULLY set the rum aflame with a long stick lighter or long match. If you have a gas stove, you can gently tilt the pan to catch the flame that way, as well. When the flame subsides, lift the figs out of the pan and divide them evenly among portions of ice cream. Spoon the warm sauce over the figs and ice cream.dd

Serve immediately.

**The step in the recipe where you set it on fire is completely optional. I still recommend adding the rum for flavor, though. If you don't want to use rum, you can add about 1/3 cup of apple juice to thin the sauce.

Recipes coming soon:
Late Summer Salad with Roasted Figs
Thumbprint cookies with fig "jam"
Kelly's Fig preserves

Again, if you have any questions you can e-mail me (thegeekygourmet@gmail.com), leave a comment here, or find us on our Facebook page.

<3 Elle

Edit: I have a list of people I'd like to thank that I may have missed on the show (I know this isn't the Oscar's and I'm not Sally Field, but regardless...):

My parents for putting up with my nonsense, letting me ruin the kitchen, being my tech support, and being my guinea pigs.

My Aunts L and S for being wonderful foodies and full of ideas.

My Charlie for putting crazy ideas in my head, wanting me to cook, eating my food whether it's good or not, and for coming up with crazy food combinations that actually work.

Justin for his awesome artistic abilities and creating such a great logo.

My slores for keeping me calm and level headed when I get nervous about trying new things.

Howie for making me start this blog again, being my fantastic co-host, having enough faith in me to pull this show off, and for doing a rock awesome job editing and producing.

Publix of Anderson, SC for having figs and always being so nice!

And all of you! The people reading this now, listening to the show, and spreading the word. Thank you so much!

Monday, August 23, 2010

The delicious and grand world of sandwiches!

It is now what I consider to be the "dog days" of summer here in good ole South Kakalaki. Well, okay. Let's face it. It's been the "dog days" of summer since about June 1st. It's hot, muggy, sticky, buggy, and just all around unpleasant until about 11 o'clock at night. Who wants to heat up the oven and do serious cooking in that kind of weather? I know I don't. That's a sure-fire way to heat up the house and send your electric bill skyrocketing. I tend to use the stove as little as possible during the day. The grill is most definitely my friend in the summer. Sure it's hot outside, but I'll have a nice cool house to walk into when my steaks are done, provided I haven't used the oven. I also tend to make a lot of salads. Nice for a couple of reasons- I don't have to heat up the house and I use the fresh produce from my container garden. As much as I love to grill and as versatile as salads can be, there is still one thing meal that is my "go to" meal in the summer. A sandwich (which can be made using something grilled or can be paired with a yummy salad). To me, the sky is the limit when it comes to sandwiches. There are so many different categories and varieties and they are extremely customizable. You've got burgers, tortas, pitas, subs, panini, deli sandwiches, po' boys, breakfast sandwiches/biscuits, banh mi (a Vietnamese sandwich)...so many wonderful options.

One of those options happens to be Charlie's favorite. He loves burgers. I compare him to Wimpy from the Popeye cartoon and comics for his love of hamburgers. "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today." So for my dear boyfriend's birthday, he wanted burgers; and lots of them. I got a bit creative and decided to make him a sampler of sliders. The sliders turned out a little bigger than planned, but I can assure you that Charlie didn't mind. I made 2 of the burgers with fresh, lean bison. I made the other 4 with 80/20 ground chuck. That's right. 6 burgers in all! They each had a different kind of cheese and a strip of bacon on them. I used Maytag bleu, Ementalar, Provolone, Kerrigold white cheddar, gruyere, and regular cheddar cheeses. Between that and some sweet potato oven fries, he had a very happy birthday dinner!

I, personally, have been on a panini kick. I love the melty goodness of Provolone cheese over warm, sliced ham and turkey. Finish it with some crispy bacon and fresh, juicy tomato (from my garden). All of that gets piled between two crusty, buttery slices of toasted bread. I'll give you a minute to clean the drool off your keyboard. (Okay, ready now?) It's wonderful! Now, I don't have a fancy panini press. Who needs it! I'm sure it's a nice gadget to have if you have the counter space...just like that George Foreman grill that is now gathering dust and grease in kitchens across the country. Uh huh. There's no point in hiding it now. I'm talking to you! But honestly? I find that a cast-iron grill pan and another plain cast-iron pan do the trick very nicely. Cast-iron isn't necessary. Neither is a grill pan for that matter, though I do enjoy the lovely brown grill marks the sandwich gets. Basically you need two heavy duty pans. Build the sandwich, heat one pan to medium-high, add a touch of butter or cooking spray to the pan, place the sandwich in the pan, put the other pan (bottom side down) on top of the sandwich to weigh it down. Press gently or set a few cans of beans/fruit/tomatoes in the pan if necessary to add more weight. Your goal is to make a thinner, crispier version of the sandwich you initially built. If you like grilled cheese sandwiches, I highly recommend the panini method for those as well.

Burgers and panini are not the end-all-be-all of sandwiches. As I said, the sky truly is the limit. So if you're looking for something different to make for supper without heating up your kitchen, don't forget about sandwiches! They aren't just for lunch anymore.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The GEEKY Gourmet

I have some fantastic news! I am now the very proud host of a new podcast coming to an Internet portal near you! That's right. "The Geeky Gourmet" is a podcast hosted by myself and a very good friend of mine, Howie (who is also my producer). We're talking about all things food and not holding back. You'll hear us discuss cookbooks, produce, eating seasonally, kitchen gadgets, tailgating food, wine, coffee, pig milk, recipes, food trends, meat, grocery stores and markets...anything and everything in between. Our goal is to talk about food and have fun doing it. We want to encourage others to embrace the many aspects of the culinary world and maybe even teach them something new.

We just got done recording the inaugural show. It was a lot of fun and we're both extremely excited! At the moment, it's a fun side project, but the sky is the limit. Once we get a few shows under our belts, we'll see where it takes us. **IT WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE UNTIL AUGUST 27** Next Friday is our "grand opening".

I'll be posting a link to the weekly podcast here on my blog, on our Facebook page, our Twitter, and it will be available on the host site too. We are working on getting a phone number set up to a voice mail account, as well, where listeners will be able to call in and ask questions.

I will be updating with recipes that I mention on the show, more details of what we talked about, and lessons learned from that week. I'd also love to answer any questions that I didn't get to answer on the podcast. And yes. I will continue to update normally with new things that are going on, recipes, rants, etc. So fear not! The new media isn't going to my head ;-)

I honestly can't express how excited I am about this. I hope y'all are, too!

<3 Elle