Morbid Meals – Tribute to The Stuff

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EXAMINATION

About the only thing we know about The Stuff is that “enough is never enough”. It was discovered oozing up from the ground at a petroleum chemical plant in the 80’s and it was very tasty, addictive, and mind-altering, all before it eventually caused consumers to explode. We sent in a crazy corporate spy to find out the formula, but he was unsuccessful. So, here’s my attempt using all natural ingredients.

thestuff

ANALYSIS

Yield: about 1 1/2 pints

Ingredients

12 oz cream cheese, softened
10 oz sweetened condensed milk
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract or other clear flavoring (optional)

Apparatus

  • Mixing bowl
  • Stand mixer or hand mixer

Procedure

  1. In the mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth.
  2. Mix in the condensed milk, a little at a time, to keep the mixture smooth with no clumps.
  3. Mix in the lemon juice and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Mix until velvety smooth.
  4. Pour into serving containers and let it set in the refrigerator. Serve chilled.

DISSECTION

Feel free to add any flavor extract you like to amp up the flavor, just be sure it is clear so that The Stuff stays pristine white.

POST-MORTEM

The Stuff will stay fresh in the fridge for less than a week. After that, well, it might try to come find you.

Some of you may have noticed, this is really the filling for a basic no-bake cheesecake. Here’s some ideas for crusts. Prepare your crust, pour in The Stuff, and chill in your fridge for at least two hours. Top with cherries or whatever you fancy.

You can also make delightful parfaits with alternating layers of fruit, The Stuff, and some crumbled cookies (or graham crackers).

Also, this makes an amazing ice cream base and you don’t even have to churn it (though you can if you have an ice cream churn.) Just pour into a freezer-safe container and freeze overnight. So good!

Really, the options are endless. Remember, “enough is never enough”!

Morbid Meals – Tribute to Motel Hell – Farmer Vincent’s Fritters

MorbidMeals2

EXAMINATION

Fritters are a great way to use up some of the leftover meats you have from previous meals, or from any stash you might have lying around. Farmer Vincent’s Fritters were very special indeed, as he used some of his famous smoked meats. Don’t bother asking what kind of meats they were, however. His slogan was “it takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent’s Fritters.” If you do ever venture down to try his fritters, I would recommend not staying at the nearby MOTEL HELLO. In fact, it is probably much safer all around to make these yourself.

fritters

ANALYSIS

Yield: 8 to 10 fritters

Ingredients

Filling
1 1/2 lb cooked and shredded meats of your choice
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper, to taste
4 strips of bacon
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped, or 1 tsp onion powder
2 garlic cloves, minced, or 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Batter
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup milk or water
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
salt and pepper, to taste

Oil for frying

Apparatus

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Frying pan or skillet

DISSECTION

There are basically two ways to make fritters. One is to mix the meat filling into the batter and fry them like griddlecakes. The other is to make patties or balls then dip them in batter and deep fry. I provide directions for both below.

Procedure

To prepare the filling
  1. In a large mixing bowl, toss together your cooked meats, paprika, cumin, and salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. In a skillet over medium heat, fry your bacon strips until they are crispy as you like them. Set the bacon strips aside to cool and dry on a paper towel-lined plate.
  3. In the rendered bacon fat, sauté the chopped onions and garlic. When the onions are translucent, pour the onions, garlic, and grease into the meat mixture. Crumble the bacon into bits and add to the meat mixture. Mix well to incorporate.
To make the batter
  1. In a medium mixing bowl, beat two large eggs, add the milk (or water), and then whisk in the flour, salt, and pepper. Whisk together until you have a batter with no lumps.
To make the fritter-cakes
  1. If you prefer the griddle cake method, then into your skillet, back over medium heat, add about 2 Tbsp of oil to provide a thick layer of oil to pan fry. Allow this to heat up.
  2. Pour in some of your batter into your meat mixture bowl and mix thoroughly. You may not need all of the batter. The mixture should bind well and maybe be a little loose.
  3. With a large spoon or ladle, measure out enough meat-batter mixture for two cakes. (You can do more if you have room in your skillet or make smaller cakes.) Fry the fritters until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side.
  4. Set the cooked fritters aside to cool and dry on a paper towel-lined plate.
OR – To make the patties for deep-frying
  1. If you prefer the deep fry method, then into your skillet, over medium-high heat, add enough oil to provide at least an inch of oil to fry in. Allow this to heat up to about 325°F.
  2. Divide your meat mixture evenly into either into balls or patties. Some meats don’t form one or the other easily, so this will be a matter of experimentation. By using cooked meats, however, you don’t have to worry about under-cooked food if they are too thick.
  3. With a sturdy pair of tongs (or with your hands if you must), dip your meat into the batter and then gently place into the hot oil.
  4. Cook each fritter until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side.
  5. Set the cooked fritters aside to cool and dry on a paper towel-lined plate.

POST-MORTEM

I like fritters made both ways, and I know this is also a regional thing to prefer one method over the other. Personally, I prefer eating the deep fried patties but they tend to make a bigger mess in my kitchen. Your mileage may vary.

As for serving, the patties or fritter-cakes go well with mashed potatoes and gravy or make excellent sandwiches. The fritter balls are fantastic with honey mustard or sweet-and-sour sauce.

Morbid Meals – Tribute to Se7en – Spaghetti alla Carbonara

MorbidMeals2

EXAMINATION

It would be a deadly sin to stuff your face with box pasta and canned sauce. Or worse—canned spaghetti—like that poor bastard in the thriller, Se7en. Besides, I think we’ve had enough tomato recipes for now.

What I love about Carbonara is that I can avoid the usual acidic tomato sauces and also not go down the Alfredo route that can give lactose-intolerant folks grief. Like most Italian dishes, there are many ways to prepare this dish. Carbonara is an Italian-American creation dating back to WWII, and as such, recipes vary wildly. This recipe makes the preparation a great deal simpler than the “traditional” method but it is still delicious and different than the usual pasta night.

Spaghetti Carbonara

ANALYSIS

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

1 lb spaghetti, cooked – reserve 1/4 cup of the water
3 large eggs
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 lb pancetta or slab bacon, cubed or sliced into small strips
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped (or 1/2 tsp of garlic powder)
black pepper, freshly ground

Apparatus

  • Mixing bowl
  • Large Saucepan
  • Colander / strainer

Procedure

  1. Cook your spaghetti by the directions on the package. Do NOT strain immediately. Take the pot off the heat but keep the pasta hot in the water while you prepare your sauce.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat your eggs and parmesan cheese together well, breaking up any lumps of cheese. Set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan, heat your olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta/bacon and sauté to render the fat and make the bacon a little crispy, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic; if you are using chopped garlic, sauté until the garlic is soft, about a minute. Remove your saucepan from the heat.
  4. Reserve about 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Drain the rest from your pasta and add the noodles to your saucepan, tossing together to evenly coat all of the noodles.
  5. Pour your egg and cheese mixture over the pasta in the saucepan and toss it all together, allowing the eggs to thicken without scrambling. Add a little bit of water as needed to melt the cheese into a velvety smooth consistency.
  6. Season with the black pepper, from a pepper mill if you have one.
  7. Serve the pasta with a side dish of extra cheese to sprinkle on as desired.

DISSECTION

I was worried when I mixed the cheese in with the eggs as it made a thick paste at first. However, once the water was added later, it smoothed out into a rich, luscious sauce.

POST-MORTEM

We will make this many times over. The kids loved the sauce. I was afraid they would turn their noses up at the eggs, but the sauce does not taste of eggs. All you taste is Parmesan and bacon. So basically heaven on pasta.

Morbid Meals – Homemade Twinkies in Tribute to Ghostbusters and Zombieland

MorbidMeals2

EXAMINATION

“Tell him about the Twinkie, Ray.”
In the original Ghostbusters movie, Dr. Egon Spengler portrayed by the late, great Harold Ramis compared the usual psychokinetic activity in New York to the size of a Twinkie. Of course, with all of the increased supernatural shenanigans, that relative Twinkie would be “thirty-five feet long, weighing approximately six hundred pounds.” The new reboot didn’t mention Twinkies, but there is a new tie-in Key Lime Slime version that is very tasty.

“Where are you, you spongy, yellow, delicious bastards?”
In the movie Zombieland, Woody Harrelson’s character Tallahassee searched everywhere in vain to find a box of Twinkies during the zombie apocalypse. Bill Murray is in both of these movies, but in Zombieland, Bill didn’t have any Twinkies either. Sorry, Tallahassee.

Little did they know that Hostess would actually declare bankruptcy and Twinkies would become a rare treat. That is, of course, until they made a comeback. During that void of no Twinkies, I learned how to make snack cakes. If we end up with another shortage, Zombie-related or not, now we can all have Twinkies. This version also has less “junk” even though I wouldn’t go so far as to call them “healthy”.

twinkies

ANALYSIS

Yield: 12 cakes

Ingredients

Batter

1 cup pastry flour (or 1 cup AP flour minus 1 Tbsp, plus 1 Tbsp cornstarch)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs, separate whites & yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream Filling

4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp milk

Apparatus

Procedure

For the cakes

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F and lightly grease your pan.
  2. Sift together the flour (and cornstarch if using it), baking powder, and salt then set aside.
  3. Into two bowls, separate your egg whites from your yolks.
  4. In the mixing bowl of your stand mixer, first beat your egg whites until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Transfer these egg whites to another bowl and set aside. Wipe down your mixer’s bowl.
  5. In the mixer bowl, add your egg yolks, sugar, honey, water, oil, and vanilla. Beat together for about 1 minute.
  6. Reduce the speed and add the flour mixture. Beat until batter is smooth, about 2 minutes. Turn off the mixer.
  7. With a rubber spatula, fold the beaten egg whites into the batter, a small amount at a time, until fully incorporated.
  8. Pour the batter into the molds of your pan. Do not fill more than 2/3 of the way for each mold.
  9. Bake for about 12 to 14 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.
  10. Cool the cakes in the pan for at least 15 minutes, then remove them to a wire rack and allow them to cool completely.

For the filling

  1. In your stand mixer bowl, beat butter and sugar together.
  2. Add the vanilla extract and milk then beat together until smooth and creamy. Set aside in refrigerator until ready to use.
  3. When the cakes have cooled, use a piping bag to fill each cake with the filling.

DISSECTION

If you want to make gluten-free cakes, replace the flour with 140 grams by weight of gluten-free all-purpose baking mix of your choice.

If you want to celebrate the new Ghostbusters reboot with your own Key lime filling, try this recipe. (Skip the graham cracker crust though, naturally, and maybe add a drop or two of green food coloring.)

For Twinkie aficionados who want the real deal creamy filling, here’s a copycat filling recipe.

POST-MORTEM

These take very little time and preparation. You can fill them with any kind of filling, even coat them in chocolate ganache. Hell, dip ‘em in batter and fry them. (State Fairs rock!) The best thing about making your own Twinkies is in having all the filling you want and then some!

Morbid Meals – Tribute to Shaun of the Dead – Strawberry Cornettos

MorbidMeals2EXAMINATION

20160718_191914For ice cream sundae treats in America we have King Cones and Drumsticks, but the rest of the civilized world has the Cornetto. In Shaun of the Dead, a couple of mates share a pair of Strawberry Cornetto cones which were bought while blissfully not noticing the zombies shuffling down the street. Good thing those Cornettos gave them the energy to fight off the zombies and defend the Winchester pub.

A Strawberry Cornetto is described as being “a crispy baked wafer coated from top to bottom with a chocolatey layer, combined with delicious vanilla-flavour ice cream and strawberry fruit ice, topped with strawberry sauce and white chocolate curls.”

That means we could assemble some from a quick trip to the shop to fetch:
Sugar cones, Magic Shell chocolate topping, strawberry ice or sorbet, vanilla ice cream, strawberry syrup, and white chocolate chips. I will describe how to assemble your own sundae cones, but I will also provide recipes for most of the components.

If you want to make strawberry sorbet, strawberry syrup, and vanilla ice cream all from scratch, the recipes follow. If you just want to buy the constituent parts and assemble, feel free to skip past the recipes and move on to the assembly instructions at the bottom.


Strawberry syrup

Yield: 2/3 cup

Ingredients

1/2 lb fresh strawberries, hulled
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Apparatus

  • Food processor or blender
  • Mesh strainer (optional)
  • Squeeze bottle

Procedure

  1. Purée all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender on high speed until blended smooth.
  2. Use a strainer to remove any seeds or pulpy bits, if desired.
  3. Store in a squeeze bottle and refrigerate until needed.

Strawberry sorbet

Yield: 1 quart (4 cups)

Ingredients

1/2 lb fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
3/4 cup sugar
Juice of a medium lemon
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 cups cold water

Apparatus

  • Mixing bowl
  • Ice cream or sorbet churn

Procedure

  1. In a mixing bowl, toss together the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  2. Add the corn syrup and water and mash the strawberries well. You can also do this step in food processor or blender but do quick pulses to lightly mix the ingredients.
  3. Prepare your churn per manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Pour the mixture into your churn’s bowl and operate the churn until the sorbet is frozen.

Vanilla ice cream

Yield: 1 quart (4 cups)

Ingredients

2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Apparatus

  • Mixing bowl
  • Whisk
  • Ice cream churn

Procedure

  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs until light and fluffy. Then whisk in the sugar slowly until completely blended.
  2. Whisk in the cream and milk until completely blended.
  3. Prepare your churn per manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Pour the mixture into your churn’s bowl and operate the churn until the ice cream is frozen.

Assembly of the Ice Cream Sundae Cones

Components

6 Sugar cones
Magic Shell chocolate topping
strawberry sorbet
vanilla ice cream
strawberry syrup
4 oz white chocolate chips

Apparatus

  • Waxed paper
  • Adhesive tape and scissors
  • Ice cream cone stand (use an egg carton, some champagne flute glasses, or some other contrivance)

Procedure

  1. Find a contraption that will let you stand your cones upright in your freezer. I think an egg carton would work quite well. If you have fluted glasses that you can easily get the cone in and out of, they could work well also.
  2. Cut pieces of waxed paper to fit around your sugar cones and provide about 2 inches of clearance above the top of the cones. This will provide a mold for the ice cream crown. Set the wax paper sheets aside for now.
  3. Using a squeeze bottle, coat the inside of your sugar cones with the chocolate topping. Make sure the bottom of the cone on the inside has a nice well of chocolate. Prop your cones standing up in your freezer and chill until the chocolate is solid.
  4. Spoon in enough strawberry sorbet into the cone to come up just under the edge of the top of the cone. Return to the freezer until the sorbet is solid.
  5. Wrap the cones in the waxed paper and tape to keep them on. Spoon in soft vanilla ice cream, almost to the top of the waxed paper.
  6. Using a squeeze bottle, drizzle on some strawberry syrup and sprinkle white chocolate chips on top. Return to the freezer and allow these to harden up. These will stay fresh in your freezer for about a week.

DISSECTION

These sundae cones are very simple to assemble whether you make all the ingredients yourself or use off-the-shelf treats. On a hot day, especially here in Arizona, these are so wonderful.

POST-MORTEM

I’ve never personally eaten a Strawberry Cornetto, and I know they are quite beloved in the U.K. and elsewhere. Please accept this humble sundae not as a replacement for a treasured treat, but for one crazy yank’s attempt to know such bliss.

Morbid Meals – Tribute to Beetlejuice – Shrimp Cocktail

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EXAMINATION

DAY-OH! Dayyyyy-ohhhh…
Beetlejuice may be the ghost with the most, but Delia can sure throw a party. It ain’t a shindig until the shrimp cocktail is served. Take my advice, however, and share your feast with your ghostly guests rather than make them angry; your shrimp cocktail will thank you.

While it is easy to find cooked shrimp and jars of cocktail sauce at the store, there’s something magical about a proper shrimp boil and fresh cocktail sauce.

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ANALYSIS

Serves 4

Ingredients

court bouillon, or use a seafood boil (Old Bay, Zatarain’s, etc.)
1 lb. uncooked jumbo shrimp (shell-on and de-veined)
1 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp fresh or store-bought horseradish, grated
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
the juice of one large lemon (about 1/4 cup)

Apparatus

  • Stock pot or a large cooking pot

Procedure

  1. In a large pot, bring to a rolling boil 2 quarts of water and about 1/4 cup of your favorite shrimp/seafood boil. If you want a traditional court bouillon, see the directions in the Dissection below.
  2. Carefully drop your shrimp into the boil and turn off the heat. The water is hot enough to poach the shrimp at this point.
  3. Remove the shrimp when the shells turn pink, the flesh is solid white, and they begin to curl. This is about 3-5 minutes depending on their size.
  4. Allow the shrimp to cool to room temperature (or refrigerate them if you like) and then peel the shells off. It is to your style of presentation if you want to keep the tails on or not.
  5. While the shrimp are cooling, prepare the cocktail sauce by mixing the ketchup, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice. Chill in your refrigerator until ready to serve.
  6. Serve either on one large bowl with the sauce in the bowl and the shrimp hooked along the edge, or provide individual cocktail glasses for each guest with sauce in the glass and shrimp around the edge.

DISSECTION

I prefer to cook the shrimp in their shells and then remove the shells after cooking rather than peeling them before cooking. First, this brings a lot more flavor to the boil. If you’ve ever made stock, you know what I mean. Secondly, the shells turn from brownish-gray to pink indicating that the shrimp are fully cooked. Third, the shells are easier to remove, in my opinion, after cooking, because the shrimp shrink and curl up. I usually buy frozen shrimp that are de-veined with the shells still on but split. This marries the flavor of the shells with the convenience of cleaner, easier-to-peel shrimp.

If you do choose to peel the shrimp first, trust me when I say you should toss the shells into your boil so that you get all the flavor you can into the shrimp.

A court bouillon is a French term for a broth used to poach food, usually seafood. It can be anything from salted water to a mixture of water, wine, lemon juice, and spices. A standard version uses mirepoix (which is one medium onion, one carrot, and one celery stalk, all roughly chopped), along with the juice of one lemon, and a couple bay leaves. You would bring that to a rolling boil then let it simmer for about 30 minutes before you add the shrimp.

While a court bouillon is the traditional way to poach shrimp for a cocktail, being a low-country boy at heart, I personally prefer a good ol’ shrimp boil like Old Bay. The point is to give the shrimp some flavor and not just boil in plain water.

Regarding the cocktail sauce, I know some people like to add hot sauce to their cocktail sauce. That is cheating to my mind in order to cover up for not using good horseradish or not enough. Most stores sell jars or tubes of grated horseradish and they are quite effective on their own without peppery assistance. Feel free to kick it up a notch if you really must.

Finally, to use fresh or frozen shrimp? Frankly, unless you are catching the shrimp yourself, the shrimp were sold to you frozen. If your fishmonger sells you “fresh” shrimp, they are really thawed previously frozen shrimp. You can thaw your shrimp at home before cooking, but tossing in frozen shrimp adds only a few seconds of cooking time in boiling water, versus spending hours properly thawing your shrimp.

POST-MORTEM

Bubba Gump might like his shrimp prepared many different ways, and I admit I do as well, but I always prefer a simple yet fresh Shrimp Cocktail. Like Lydia, Delia, and the gang, it makes me wanna get up and dance! Six foot, seven foot, eight foot bunch! Daylight come and me wan’ go hoooooome!

Morbid Meals – Tribute to Misery – Tomato Bisque

MorbidMeals2

EXAMINATION

Misery is probably my favorite of the movies based on Stephen King’s novels. It is a taut thriller with no supernatural elements, which is uncommon for his adaptations. My favorite scene is the one where Annie serves Paul some soup as she discusses his latest manuscript. When she gets overwrought over the book’s profanity and spills a little soup on him, it makes a powerful bit of bloody red foreshadowing that always gives me chills.

Warming up a can of soup can do wonders for fending off the chill of a long winter’s night, but I always imagined that Annie, knowing how much she admired her best-selling author she was nursing back to health, would cook no ordinary tomato soup. Rather she’d serve him up a hearty tomato bisque.

Traditionally, tomato bisque tends to be tomato soup that was cooked with ham and cream added. I think most people who eat tomato soup or bisque would prefer a vegetarian version, so I adapted some recipes to this one below.

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ANALYSIS

Servings: 4

Ingredients

2 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
2 cups vegetable stock
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes (with liquid)
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup heavy cream, or coconut cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Apparatus

  • Large soup pot
  • Immersion stick blender or regular blender

Procedure

  1. In a large pot, add the oil and onions and cook over medium-high heat until the onions soften, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, cornstarch, seasoned salt, and smoked paprika. Stir to evenly cook for 2 more minutes.
  3. Add the broth and tomatoes. Raise heat to high and bring to a boil. Whisk constantly to break down any lumps that might form from the cornstarch.
  4. When it reaches a boil, bring the heat down to low. Stir in the whole herbs. Simmer for about 30 minutes.
  5. Remove the herbs and puree the soup with your blender.
  6. Stir in the cream and add salt and pepper to taste.

DISSECTION

We found a can of fire-roasted tomatoes that gave a wonderful flavor to the soup. We recommend it if you can find it.

If you’d rather use fresh tomatoes, you will need 5 or 6 medium-sized ripe tomatoes. Boil them for about 1 minute, let them cool then peel and chop them.

POST-MORTEM

This is a delicious, hearty soup that will instantly warm you up on a cold night. Share some with your family or your favorite author tonight. Just try not to get so worked up about things while serving it.