Morbid Meals – Barren Baker’s Cornbread Honeycomb Muffins

EXAMINATION

Once upon a time it was hard to be a baker. Bread being so vital to the common diet, for rich and poor alike, laws were passed to make sure that bakers did not cheat their customers with light loaves or unhealthy fillers. To make sure that their customers were happy, often times it was better to make sure that an order was filled that was over weight rather than under. Thus, many bakers started giving away an extra cookie or muffin with an order of a dozen. Thus, a baker’s dozen is 13. Normally one might consider 13 to be unlucky, but now it has probably spared a lot of bakers from harsh penalties like having their hands chopped off.

Did you know, however, that if you don’t use a muffin tin, which often have either 6 or 12 cups, that you can bake better muffins in 13 paper-lined foil cups? It is true! Placing the cups on a baking sheet in a tight 4 x 5 x 4 pattern bakes the muffins more evenly and nets us exactly 13 muffins. I call these honeycomb muffins because they resemble the hex-pattern of honeycomb.

Note also as they cook, these muffins will push even closer together and the resulting muffins will take on a more hexagonal shape rather than round. If you want perfectly round muffins, you might need to double-up the cups, or if you have mason jar rings, you can set the cups in the rings to help them retain their shape.

If you find, however, that you’ve actually been cursed like the baker from Into The Woods, here’s a recipe that might do the trick to get on a witch’s good side.

ANALYSIS

Yield: 13 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup / 160g cornmeal (yellow as, well, corn)
  • 1 cup / 120g all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup / 120g granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp / 10g baking powder
  • 1 tsp / 7g salt
  • 1 cup whole milk (from a cow as white as milk)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup honey (as pure as gold)
  • 1/2 stick (2 oz) butter, melted

Apparatus

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Spoon and whisk
  • Foil and paper muffin cups
  • Baking sheet

Procedure

  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F/200°C.
  2. In a large bowl, mix your dry ingredients together and incorporate well.
  3. In the other bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.
  4. Add the wet to the dry and then stir to mix well into a thick batter.
  5. Place foil muffin cups with paper cups inside them on a baking sheet in a tight 4 x 5 x 4 pattern.
  6. Divide the batter into the 13 cups and bake for about 15 to 17  minutes, until the tops are golden brown.

DISSECTION

If you want to make a gluten-free version, feel free to use your preferred GF flour mix, but be sure to measure by weight (120g). Note for example the difference between the flour and sugar. They both weigh the same, yet it only takes ½ cup of sugar to reach 120g vs. a full cup of AP flour to weigh the same.

These are delightfully sweet without being too sweet. If you would prefer even sweeter, I recommend adding stevia. Adding more sugar or honey will change the consistency of the batter. Stevia powder however enhances the sugar already in the recipe but very little goes a long way.

POST-MORTEM

Serve these with a fresh batch of magic kidney beans (red as blood) and rice.

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Morbid Meals – Genie in a Bottle

EXAMINATION

Cursed objects come in all shapes, sizes, and purpose. The first cursed object I could think of, that wasn’t related to the TV show Friday the 13th, was the lamp or bottle that trapped a genie inside.

While we have Aladdin and the cursed lamp from One Thousand and One Nights to thank for being the source of this legend, the idea of a “genie in a bottle” hails primarily from Barbara Eden’s TV sitcom I Dream of Jeannie... which in turn was inspired by a 1964 movie starring Barbara Eden called The Brass Bottle.

As for bottles with spirits trapped inside, I naturally decided a cocktail was in order. I’ll admit that a certain cartoon genie inspired the color.

ANALYSIS

Yield: 1 drink

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 oz blue curaçao
  • 1 oz spiced gold rum (or light/silver, not dark)
  • 1/2 oz Arak (or absinthe or ouzo)
  • 1 oz sweet and sour mix
  • 3 oz pineapple juice
  • ice

Apparatus

  • Cocktail shaker and jigger
  • Hurricane glass

Procedure

  1. Into a drink shaker, add all ingredients including ice, cover and shake.
  2. Pour into a hurricane glass, or a bottle for fun.

DISSECTION

Arak is an Arabian alcohol produced in the Levant region, which does not adhere to the Muslim avoidance of liquor. It is made with aniseed and it louches becoming cloudy when mixed with water, hence my suggestion to substitute ouzo or absinthe if you cannot acquire the Arak. Plus absinthe adds to the color, especially if you can find a blue absinthe.

POST-MORTEM

After a few of these, you too will believe there is infinite cosmic power in an itty-bitty living space. Just be careful what you wish for.

Morbid Meals – Three Witches’ Stew

EXAMINATION

There are many superstitious actors who will tell you about various curses of the theatre. Like how they can’t wish each other good luck, but rather “break a leg”.

The most famous, however, may be to not say the name of The Scottish Play. This is brought most humorously to light on an episode of Blackadder The Third.

To honor the Three Witches, all items in this stew come in threes. We’ll be making this in our magic cauldron (called a pressure cooker).

ANALYSIS

Servings: 9 serving bowls

Ingredients

3 Tbsp of oil

Three meats
1.5 lbs bone-in mutton/lamb shank
1.5 lbs bone-in beef/veal shank
1.5 lbs gammon joint or ham hocks

Three seasonings
1 Tbsp kosher or sea salt
1 Tbsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp smoked paprika

Three aromatics
3 leeks (or 1 onion), chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced (or 1 Tbsp minced garlic, or 1 tsp garlic powder)
1/3 cup of all-purpose flour

Three herbs
3 bay leaves, fresh or dried
6 sprigs of oregano  (or 1/2 tsp of ground oregano)
9 sprigs of thyme (or 1 tsp dried thyme, or 3/4 tsp of ground thyme)

Three brews for the stew
9 oz Scottish ale (like Kilt Lifter)
6 oz Oat stout
3 oz Triple Malt Scotch whisky

Three leafy greens
1 bunch of kale
2 scallions, chopped
3 ribs of celery, chopped

Three roots
3 wee neeps (turnips or small rutabagas, or 3 parsnips), chopped
6 carrots, chopped
9 young tatties (waxy or fingerling potatoes)

Three pints of water

Apparatus

  • Pressure cooker, 7-quart

Procedure

  1. Chop all of the veggies first and set aside in the groups listed above.
  2. Pour 3 Tbsp of oil with a high smoke point (like corn or peanut, or even ghee or  clarified butter; canola is the lowest smoke-point oil you should use) into the pressure cooker. Turn heat to high.
  3. Cut the lamb and beef into large chunks (save the bones) and season with salt, pepper, and paprika.
  4. When the oil begins to shimmer, brown the lamb and beef on all sides. Remove and set aside.
  5. Reduce heat to medium. Saute the leeks/onion and garlic for about 1 minute. Add the flour and stir to combine.
  6. Deglaze with the ale. Then add the stout and scotch.
  7. Place the bones into the cooker first, then add the meat back, and then the rest of the ingredients. Top with 3 pints of water, or as much as you need to just fill under the Max Fill line.
  8. Return the heat to high. Close and lock the lid. Cook on high until pressure valve whistles or rattles, then turn heat down to low and cook for about 33 minutes under pressure.
  9. Remove the bones, bay leaves, and herb sprigs. Meat should be tender and the veggies supple. Ladle into bowls and allow to cool before serving.

DISSECTION

We are using about 1.5 pounds of bone-in meat each because we want the bones for the stock. Once cooked, we’ll have about 3 pounds of meat.

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can use a large crock pot and cook on high for 333 minutes, or about 5 1/2 hours. It is much harder to make what is essentially the stock this way, however.

POST-MORTEM

Definitely serve with whisky or ale or stout. Can’t decide? How about a whisky barrel-aged ale?  Or a Half and a half?

Morbid Meals – Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya-Ya

EXAMINATION

A wise man named Penn Jillette once said, “Everybody got a gris-gris.Gris-gris (pronounced gree-gree) is a French term from voodoo for the medicine pouch that vodouisants wear around their neck. What Penn was saying, however, is that we all have something that we cling to, whether it be something tangible to bring us good luck (or ward off bad luck), a belief, a superstition, even a firmly and long-held conviction that centers us or even defines us. That something, according to Penn, is the one thing we should scrutinize first and foremost in our lives and try to change about ourselves, hard as it may be.

For me I think it is fair to say that my gris-gris is food. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Dan,” I hear you say, ”we all need food.” Yes, which is why we should scrutinize it. I fear that so many folks walk through life just throwing anything bite-sized (or super-sized) down their gullet without thinking about it.

It is one of the reasons why I started Morbid Meals. We must eat to live, which means something else must die. We don’t like to think about that, though. We’ve pre-packaged, homogenized, and mass marketed products so that we don’t have to think about where our food came from. That nicely fits a model of consumption not sustenance.

Now I’m not saying we should all jump on the latest food fad of dietary detritus. That too is a gris-gris; putting your faith in what somebody else says is good for you, bad for you, will help you lose weight, etc. The corollary to my mantra is that we are all going to die no matter what we eat. Some food will kill us faster than others, but an acceptance of moderation is really what I’m advocating here. Everything in moderation including moderation.

You’ve likely noticed this at play in my recipes here before. Many of them offer alternatives for those with dietary restrictions, suggestions for alterations, never requiring you follow these recipes to the letter. I’ve also presented my share of crazy creations that would be fun to try at least once, and then you can go back to eating healthy or whatever. Live a little while you can. Food is life, food is love.

So, I’ll step off my soapbox and say that if you need a gris-gris, why not try a little bit ah Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya-Ya, hey now. Doctor’s orders. Dr. John, the Night Tripper, that is.

Now before y’all freak out, this recipe makes a lot of gumbo. It is meant to be shared with a large family. (The loas might like a bowl, too.) We also love having leftovers. Gumbo gets even better when you put it up and eat it the next day. Feel free to divide in half if you prefer. It also takes a long time to cook, like almost 3 hours. Gumbo is not fast food. It is completely worth the effort.

ANALYSIS

Servings: 12 to 16

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs. whole chicken, or 4 lbs. bone-in chicken thighs
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 3 medium yellow onions, chopped, divided
  • 4 ribs celery, chopped, divided
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 8 whole okra, sliced (about 1/2 cup) (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp creole seasoning
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 to 4 quarts water
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced (or 1 Tbsp minced garlic, or 1 tsp garlic powder)
  • 1 lb andouille sausage, chopped
  • 1/2 lb tasso ham (cajun ham), chopped
  • Cooked rice (1/2 cup per serving)
  • Louisiana hot sauce, to taste when serving

Apparatus

  • Pressure cooker, 7 quart
  • Large, heavy stock pot or Dutch oven
  • whisk

Procedure

Mise en place (everything in its place)

  1. Chop all of the veggies. Do this first. You’ll thank me later. Divide the onions into half portions (one for the stock and one for the gumbo). Divide the celery in half as well. Set aside.

Make the chicken stock

  1. Into your pressure cooker, add the carrots and the first portions of onions and celery, along with the salt, seasoning, and bay leaves.
  2. Cut up your chicken and arrange all of it, including the bones, fat and skin, giblets, gizzards, etc., into the pressure cooker on top of the veggies.
  3. Pour in the water, but make sure NOT to go above the “maximum fill” line.
  4. Cover with the lid and lock it down. On the stove top, turn the heat to high and bring up to pressure. When you hear the pressure release whistle, reduce the heat to low, for a steady low hiss. Cook for 30 minutes.
  5. Release the pressure and open the cooker carefully.
  6. Strain the stock into a container to cool. Reserve 3 quarts of stock for the gumbo. (If you have more, save it to cook the rice.) Separate the chicken meat from the bones and set aside.

Make the roux

  1. In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over high heat until it begins to shimmer before it reaches its smoke point.
  2. Reduce your heat to medium and carefully whisk in your flour in small batches, which should immediately begin to sizzle. Whisk constantly for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the roux turns a deep brown color, like milk chocolate.
  3. Lower the heat to medium-low and stir in the remaining onions, celery, and bell peppers. Stir occasionally for another 10 minutes, or until the roux thickens and turns a glossy dark brown color, like dark chocolate.

Bring it all together

  1. Into the pot with your roux, still at medium low, add your okra (if using), garlic, and chopped andouille sausage. Stir occasionally and cook until all of the vegetables are soft, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Add your reserved 3 quarts of stock and stir until the roux is well combined with the stock. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours. Stir occasionally to keep everything well combined.
  3. Now you can add the cooked chicken and the chopped tasso ham to the gumbo and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
  4. Turn off your heat and let your gumbo cool down for at least 5 minutes. This stuff is very hot.
  5. Serve with steamed rice. If you like, add hot sauce to your taste.

DISSECTION

Let’s address the okra first. I love okra, especially fried, but most folks I know can’t stand how gummy it is. That’s what makes it gumbo, though, in my humble opinion. In fact”gumbo” means okra. It does tend to be optional in a chicken and sausage gumbo. It is more common in a seafood gumbo. Okra adds an earthy flavor and extra thickness, for even though we are adding a lot of roux, a dark roux doesn’t thicken gumbo very much. (A light roux will thicken more but has less flavor.) Don’t use “okra season” as a reason to skip it either. You can probably find frozen okra out of season.

If you can’t find tasso ham, you can substitute with smoked ham or regular smoked sausage.

Can you make the stock without a pressure cooker? Sure, but it will need to simmer for at least two hours.

POST-MORTEM

Save your hot sauce until the end. Again, trust me on this. I know cajun and creole foods can be spicy but not everyone can handle it. Also, we’re using andouille sausage and creole seasoning, where various brands have different levels of heat. This is why I suggest adding the hot sauce at the end to your own personal taste in your own bowl. Once you make it often enough and you use brands you are familiar with, feel free to spice things up.

One of my favorite stories about Marie Laveau was that she often made large batches of gumbo and would give bowls of it to condemned prisoners in New Orleans, as well as feeding it to the sick and poor. I don’t know how true this story is, or the tales that mention a few other medicinal herbs which might have made their way into the gumbo, but I do know the power of a good bowl of gumbo and rice to make everything all right with the world.

Submission Call: Tech Horror KILL SWITCH

2018 Horror Anthology

KilSwitch2front.pngKILL SWITCH / Edited by Dan Shaurette

“The Future is Broken.” – Black Mirror

What horrors will our technological hubris bring us in the future? When technology takes over more of our lives, what will it mean to be human, and will we fear what we have created? Artificial intelligence, robotics, bionics and cybernetics, clones, and virtual reality. These are a few of my favorite things. The technological singularity is fast approaching, and post-humanity is a frighteningly dark future.

First and foremost, your submission must be a horror story and contain something emotionally, physically, or mentally horrifying. Secondly, the technology should be front and center, not just a deus ex machina. Whether it be a modern technology we are creating now with a purpose yet fully realized, or some new horror as yet to be discovered. We are looking for stories in the same vein as NETFLIX’s Black Mirror.

Post-apocalypse is welcome, as are dystopian societies, but technology must have brought them about. Supernatural elements are welcome in conjunction with the technology. What we don’t want is aliens attacking humanity as the core conceit. What qualifies as “modern” technology is debatable; anything from the Cold War is the farthest back we’ll consider.

Manuscript Format:
*Font: either Courier or Times New Roman.
*Double spaced, font 12 point.
*Your manuscript must be in either DOC or RTF format.
*Do not place your name in the manuscript, just the title.**
*Following pages header to state:  story name, and page number.
**This year, we are doing blind submissions. Wow us with your story.**

In the body of the email:
*With no header on the MS, the header info should be in the email as such: author name, mailing address, email address, and word count.
*100 words or less biography about you.
*One sentence explaining the story attached; your elevator pitch.
*Facebook, Twitter, Instagram links
*Your website or blog.
No previously printed work and no simultaneous submissions.

Subject of the email state:
*KILL SWITCH/Author Name/Story Title
*Send to: horroraddicts@gmail.com

Deadline: October 31st, 2018, 11:59pm PST
Length: 2,000-7,000 words
Payment: $10.00 USD + digital contributor copy

Return time: Final decisions will not be made until AFTER the submission close date (10/31/18). You should expect a return within three months of the submission close date. If you do not receive an email stating your manuscript was received within two weeks of submission, please send a polite query to: horroraddicts@gmail.com.

For any other questions, please send an email to: horroraddicts@gmail.com

Morbid Meals – Curse of the Black Pearl Rum Balls

EXAMINATION

Why is the rum gone? I’ll tell ya why, Jack. We be makin’ rum balls this here fine day. I tell ya true, I found this recipe while rummagin’ around ol’ Davy Jones’s locker. He’s a big fan o’rum, so if you’re hittin’ the high seas, bring a batch o’ these rum balls wi’ ya and he might let ya sail on.

ANALYSIS

Servings: about 30

Ingredients

  • 24 Oreo cookies (whole cookies with filling)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp molasses
  • 1/4 cup black or dark spiced rum
  • 2 Tbsp Tia Maria, Kahlua, or other coffee liqueur
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • Wilton Black Pearl Dust (optional)

Apparatus

  • Food processor with chopping blade
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Plastic wrap
  • Small ice cream scoop, melon baller, or a spoon

Procedure

  1. Into your food processor add cookies, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder. Pulse on high until well combined.
  2. Add molasses, rum, and coffee liqueur, then pulse again to mix well.
  3. Add chopped nuts and pulse on low until combined. If you want large chunks of nuts, just do a quick pulse. If you want the nuts ground fine, then pulse until you no longer see the nuts.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a bowl with a lid or cover with plastic wrap. Chill in your refrigerator for about 30 minutes so that it can firm up.
  5. Scoop the chilled mixture into balls and roll between your palms to form a smooth, round ball about an inch wide.
  6. Coat each rum ball with black pearl dust. A little bit goes a long way.
  7. Chill the rum balls in an airtight container in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving.

DISSECTION

If you don’t have Tia Maria or Kahlua, or don’t like coffee liqueur, you can just use more rum instead. I like Tia Maria because the coffee flavor compliments the chocolate. Sometimes when I make these I use only Tia Maria as it has rum as the base, but the coffee flavor can be too much for some folks.

POST-MORTEM

You can absolutely make these without the Black Pearl Dust. It can be hard to find in stores. Furthermore, the dust… gets… everywhere. You will look like a coal miner when you are finished making these with the pearl dust, and your lips and teeth will get a bit yucky, too. On a positive note, they sure are shiny. And tasty!

Why are the Rum Balls gone? I eats them all, that’s why.

Morbid Meals – Scotch Deviled Eggs

EXAMINATION

I’m a big fan of eggs. I’ll eat them a hundred different ways. Two of my favorites have to be good ol’ deviled eggs, perfect at a picnic, and the pub grub staple called a scotch egg. It struck me once upon a time that it might be quite tasty to make a hybrid of the two: a scotch deviled egg. Man, I love it when I’m right. When I was pondering this episode’s curse, that being “oddball curses”, I thought also that the scotch deviled egg is a very “odd ball” indeed. Thus, allow me to present this clever cursed canapé.

ANALYSIS

Servings: 12

Ingredients

  • 1 package (19 oz) bratwurst sausage links
  • 7 large eggs; 6 to boil, 1 for egg wash
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 3 Tbsp real mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp pickle juice (optional)
  • hot sauce, to taste (optional)
  • paprika, for garnish (I prefer smoked paprika)

Apparatus

  • Saucepan with a lid
  • slotted spoon
  • three medium bowls
  • Cookie sheet with Parchment paper
    • or a Roasting pan
  • mixing bowl

Procedure

  1. Hard boil six eggs: Put eggs into a pan of cold water and bring to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and cover with a lid. Let the eggs cook for 9 to 10 minutes.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the eggs to a bowl of ice-cold water. Let the eggs cool down for about 15 minutes to make them easier to peel.
  3. Once the eggs have cooled, carefully peel them.
  4. Open your package of brats and remove the sausage from their casings. Shape into six thin sausage patties.
  5. Take a peeled hard-boiled egg and wrap it completely in the sausage. Repeat for each egg.
  6. Pre-heat your oven to 400°F.
  7. Set up a breading station with three bowls: one for the flour, one for a beaten egg, and one for the breadcrumbs.
  8. For each sausage-encased egg, roll it in the flour, coating evenly. Dip in the beaten egg wash. Then roll in breadcrumbs and set aside.
  9. For baking, use either a cookie sheet lined with a sheet of parchment paper, to soak up the grease, or use a roasting pan, which is a drip pan with a wire rack on it. This will allow the grease to drip away from the scotch eggs.
  10. Evenly space out your breaded sausage and egg balls on your cookie sheet or roasting pan.
  11. Bake at 400°F for 25 to 30 minutes. The goal is to make sure that the sausage is cooked completely. It should be nice and brown with no pink.
  12. Remove the scotch eggs from the oven and allow them to cool and rest on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up any grease.
  13. Cut the scotch eggs in half and remove the yolks to a mixing bowl. Set the scotch egg halves aside.
  14. Mash the egg yolks with a fork. Add the mustard, mayonnaise, pickle juice and hot sauce. Mix well until thick and smooth.
  15. Spoon the deviled yolk mixture back into the scotch egg halves. Sprinkle with paprika and serve.

DISSECTION

Many folks know how to boil eggs, but I provide a brief overview above of how I cook them which is not the usual grandmother-tested method. I found this article with video from TheKitchn.com which I find works out well. Many scotch egg recipes tell you to under cook because the eggs will be cooked again. Since we are making deviled eggs, if they are a little over cooked, it is OK. I have found that 9 minutes using this off-the-heat method makes a nice creamy but firm egg yolk after all the rest of the cooking is done.

I prefer to bake mine vs. frying them as is traditional. When they are baked they are a) somewhat healthier and b) definitely less of a mess. If you would prefer to fry yours, try this:
Heat your oil in a deep fat fryer or deep pan to about 300ºF. Fry the scotch eggs until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to cool and rest. Then devil the yolks as described above.

POST-MORTEM

My goodness, these may be odd but they are so good. The bratwurst sausage brings just the right flavor to the eggs, mild and meaty. However, feel free to use whatever sausage you prefer. A hot Italian sausage would go well with these.

By the way, allow me to shatter your illusions. Scotch eggs are not Scottish, though I’m sure they are eaten there on occasion. No, scotch in this case is short for “scotched” which describes mincing meat, such as the sausage that encases the egg.