Sunday, November 1, 2009

The one-egg pancake

Rule number one for pancakes: They must be homemade. So, please put down the bisquick or whatever awful instant pancake mix your using and follow these simple instructions.

This recipe is based on ratios of ingredients to each other so you'll need a kitchen scale to follow along. If you don't have one, invest.

The ratio for pancake batter is 2,2,1,1/2

Thats 2 parts flour, 2 parts milk, 1 part egg, and 1/2 part oil.

* Put a mixing bowl on your scale and zero out. Now crack one egg into the bowl. What's it weigh?

* Pour double the weight of the egg in milk into the bowl.

* Pour 1/2 the weight of the egg in oil into the bowl.

* Add a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

* Whisk

* In a separate bowl, add double the weight of the egg in flour to the bowl.

* Add the weight of the egg in sugar to the bowl. Yes the ratio doesn't call for sugar, but you NEED it.

* Add 1 teaspoon of baking powder

* Add 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt

* Add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

Mix the wet and dry ingredients together and make pancakes!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Quick breads

I typically don't follow recipes when I'm cooking, unless I'm baking. Baking scares the hell out of me.

Cue Ratio, the new book by Michael Ruhlman. He's outlined the basic ratios of ingredients to each other when cooking. Allowing you to break free from the confines of recipes books and, with confidence, create your own recipes on the fly. I have to say, it has done what he promised, and liberated me.

The ratio for quick breads (things like muffins, banana breads, etc) is simple 2-2-1-1.

So for any type of quick bread, you mix 2 parts flour, 2 parts liquid, 1 part sugar, 1 part fat. Easy peasy. Salt and baking powder aren't noted in the ratio, but you'll want to add them.

Want to make blueberry muffins?

8 ounces flour
8 ounces milk
4 ounces sugar
4 ounces butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder

How about making apple cinnamon bread?

8 ounces flour
6 ounces milk
2 ounces apple juice
4 ounces brown sugar
4 ounces butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
Diced apples

How about ginger-cranberry bread? (BTW, I just made up this recipe)

8 ounces flour
6 ounces milk
2 ounces cranberry juice
4 ounces sugar
4 ounces butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ginger powder
2 teaspoons baking powder

Based on this ratio, what's your unique quick bread recipe?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Braised short ribs

I'm in love with short ribs, braised short ribs to be exact. It is the perfect example of a inexpensive cut that rivals any of the more expensive cuts, provide the right technique is employed.

While I'm talking about cuts of meat, can I say that the tenderloin is completely overrated? People gravitate to that cut because of it's low fat content, however, the lack of fat equates to a lack of flavor. Tenderness is it's one saving grace. However, as you'll see in this recipe, proper technique can take a flavor-packed, yet tough cut of meat and turn it into something spectacular.

Making braised short-ribs

Before you start, you're going to need a dutch oven or a heavy bottomed oven-safe pot.

First, stop by your butcher and pick-up some meaty beef chuck short ribs.

You'll also need to gather and prep some basic mise en place: Mirepoix, a bouquet garni, and tomato paste.

Heat olive oil in your dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the short ribs and start to sear.

Be prepared to sear for about 10-15 minutes. You're looking for a deep deep brown on all sides of the short ribs. Once they are browned, set aside.

Add your mirepoix and sweat. About 5 minutes.

Add your tomato paste and then stir. Cook this for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Careful not to burn. If you need to reduce the heat, do so.

Once done, add your short ribs back to the pot along with your bouquet garni.

Fill the pot with beef broth and red wine in a ratio of about 2 to 1. Don't cover the short ribs, fill until the liquid is about 2/3 of the way up.

Cover and put into 375 degree oven for two hours. Once done, pull out the short ribs.

Strain the braising liquid into an pan and reduce by 2/3.

Once reduced, remove from heat and whisk in cold butter to mount the sauce.

I served with Saga Blue Cheese mashed potatoes and garnished with crispy bone marrow.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I'm a pushover for popovers

Popovers have changed my life! Not really, but I'm completely obsessed with making them, both in the morning and evenings. They work well with sweet AND savory.

How do you make a popover..simple.

First you're going to need a muffin tin, non-stick.

Now, heat your oven to 400F.

The batter for popovers is simple.

2 parts liquid
1 part egg
1 part flour

The "parts" in the recipe should be done by weight. So for example, take 4 ounces of milk and add 2 ounces of egg (about one large egg). Mix. Then add 2 ounces of flour and a pinch of salt. Mix. Let sit while your oven heats.

Pour a little bit of canola oil in the bottoms of the muffin tin. No more than a 1/2 teaspoon. Fill the tins up 3/4 of the way with batter.

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Turn heat down to 375F. Bake another 20 minutes. Voila.

To serve sweet, top with a little butter and a good quality jam or preserve. Artisan made would be ideal.

For savory meals, these make a great addition to grilled or roasted meats. Use 'em to sop up the juices!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Take steak to the next level

Steak by itself is wonderful. Technically, there's no need to sauce it up. The flavor of a nice fatty ribeye can hold it's own, no problem. However, if your looking to take steak to the next level, try topping it with a salsa verde.

Salsa verde. There are many permutations of what translates to "green sauce". Mexican culture's version is very different than an Italian-style salsa verde. I'm not showing you either. This is what I'd like to think of as an American salsa verde.

The list of ingredients is simple: Parsley, shallot, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper (It goes without saying that these should always be flat-leaf, fresh, fresh, extra-virgin, kosher, and fresh-cracked, respectively.)

The ratios of each can vary according to personal taste, but here's my loose measurements for two steaks worth.

1 cup (loosely packed) of parsley, stems removed. Finely chop after measuring.
2 tablespoons of finely minced shallot
1 tablespoon of finely minced garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
pinch salt
pepper to taste

Mix the chopped parsley, shallot and garlic in a mixing bowl. Add salt, pepper and olive oil. Mix more.

I would suggest grilling your steaks (Ribeye preferably) to medium-rare / medium. Let rest for 5 minutes after cooking. Do NOT cut into them beforehand!

Top with the salsa verde. Eat. Feel like a hero.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Making Salads Better

Update: Don't worry about the smoke coming out of the oven, the olive oil dripped off the sheet pan onto the oven bottom. It looked much worse than it was. Please note, use an oven safe dish with sides to prevent the same thing from happening to you...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Video Recipe: Parsnip Puree

I blogged this recipe for parsnip puree a few weeks ago. If you're comparing notes with my past post and this video recipe, you'll note that the ingredients and method are slightly different. That's just how I roll.

Friday, February 20, 2009

New rules for airlines...or how you can pay me to deal with the misery that you cause

I flew the most excruciating flight in my life last week. US Airways red-eye from San Francisco to Philly, then a second leg from Philly to Orlando.

Both of the US Airways planes I flew were complete dumps. Each looking like it had participated in been on the ground during the bombing of Dresden.

Why can't your planes be like Virgin America's planes?

This post however is not about how your planes lack polish...

US Airways, lets talk about water. The substance that spawned a mission to Mars. The essential ingredient to life. The thing that if I go without for three days, I will die! And on US Airways, when I wanted to wet my lips with this sweet nectar of life, on a five hour cross country flight, it cost me two dollars. There is one word to describe you US Airways, and that word is "chintzy".

My experience also got me thinking about some new rules for airlines. Rules that'll help to flush the bad taste from the mouths of many of your customers. These rules center around rebates for bad experiences.

On one flight, the back of my seat butted up against a toilet and wouldn't recline. This was not an option I chose to reduce my ticket price. I paid the same price for an experience that was less than I expected.

So new rule. When I am stuck with a seat that doesn't recline, leaving my body stuck at a 90 degree angle, I should be able to invoke the 90 degree clause, obligating you pay me ten dollars for every hour of my misery.

On another flight, I was seated next to a man who's body spilled over into my seat. I didn't pay for 3/4 of a seat. US Airways, I paid you for a whole seat.

So new rule. When I'm seated next to a person who's arm rest has actually become a containment device for their body, I should be able to invoke the sidecar clause, obligating you pay me ten dollars for every hour of my misery.

What do you think of my clauses? What new clauses do you want to see?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I support bailout salary caps

While driving to work, I heard an NPR news blurb about a proposal being kicked around in the Whitehouse - capping salaries for employees at companies that accept bailout money.

This is something I fully support.

The recent reports of billions of dollars in bailout money being distributed as bonuses makes me sick. Companies are accepting bailout money because they are in trouble. So why in the hell are they giving out bonuses?

When I think bonus, I think,

"Job well done" and "You've really made a difference"


"Thanks for the mismanagement" and "Way to lose our asses"

The cap proposed is $500,000. Executives can be further compensated in stock that can be redeemed once the bailout money is re-payed.

This is a good plan.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Blog schism

I have a blog schism on my hands.

Unlike some other famous schisms, the East-West schism and the Western Schism, my schism is generally a good thing. People aren't getting burned or poisoned as a result.

So what's the schism?

Moving forward, Home Culinaire will be my personal food blog. No rants or advice about technology and social media. Those posts will now be housed at Social Enchilada.

I encourage you to give Social Enchilada a visit. The design kicks ass and the content is getting better. Hang out, leave some comments, and please, add me to your reader.

On the Home Culinaire front, I'm aiming to do a redesign soon and plan on publishing some instructional videos.

Thanks for your support!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Twitter support, your problems are far and wide

I recently posted about the lack of response from Twitter Support. I am unhappy to say that my issue has not been resolved yet. And as I've gone deeper and deeper down the Twitter support hole, I've learned just how broken the support department at Twitter actually is.

Most everyone is aware of the Twitter hack that happened earlier this month. My understanding is that it was due to security flaws in their support queue. Happily they fixed the issue by replacing their support queue with a new system called Zendesk ( they blog about this change at Twitter Blog: The Zen of Twitter Support ) and more recently rolled out Get Satisfaction for support as well.

I applaud the team for making changes in response to a problem, but, in my opinion, they really made a mess of things. Let me explain how.

First off, by removing the old support system, my existing tickets were deleted. I've been waiting over two months for a response and had to resubmit my ticket. Thanks Twitter.

Secondly, the new Zendesk support system has a MAJOR flaw. Your login for the system is your Twitter login. When you submit a support request via the web interface, it attaches the ticket to your Twitter account. That's fine and dandy, however Twitter recommends that people with a Terms of Service matter (that would be me) submit their request to

Do you see the fatal flaw yet?

The flaw is that tickets submitted via email don't attach to an account. As a result, you are unable to view responses from Twitter to that ticket.

Try it yourself. Logout of Twitter. Submit an email to You'll receive a confirmation email with a link to view the ticket. Click the link. You're taken to a page that says - "You do not have access to request #[ticket number]. It may have been deleted".


Did anyone at Twitter actually go through the process that you created? Because, it appears as if you didn't.

And finally, the rolling out of Get Satisfaction for support. Again, I applaud you for the effort, however, you now have two separate support systems! For a company that is already spread thin when it comes to support, does it make sense to add complexity?

This entire experience has led me to giving this advice to anyone looking to implement support for their customers.

  1. Respond to your tickets. Use a simple method of categorizing tickets by priority and assigning SLA's to each category. Assign someone the job of monitoring SLA's. If you are constantly missing them, maybe it's time to hire more people, or better yet review and improve your current process (Hint Hint Twitter).
  2. Experience your own support. This is unbelievably easy to do, but can give you invaluable insight. Submit a ticket as an end user, see what happens. Click on links, make sure they work. See how long it takes to get help. Again, simple, but really really effective.
  3. Use a central support system. Managing multiple systems is too much overhead and causes confusion for your customers. Besides, not all systems are created equal and they require varied methods for managing. Pick the right solution, and stick with it.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I'm now the community manager for doterati!

doterati, Central Florida's interactive marketing, media and technology association, recently held their 2009 board elections.

I'm happy to say that I was elected community director! This is a very exciting position for me as it is inline with some career goals that I have at MindComet.

You can read the MindComet press release here.

My new favorite side dish

I'm a mashed potato freak. They once were my favorite side dish. But I've branched out, and am experimenting with other sides.

Lately, I've been replacing mashed potatoes with pureed parsnips. Related to the carrot, they are wonderfully sweet and packed with serious amounts of flavor.

Here's how I make em.

Pre-heat your oven to 400F.

Slice the parsnips into 1/4 inch slices. When you're working with more mature (larger) parsnips, you might need to cut out the middle, as they can become woody. The center will have a distinct visual difference from the outer parsnip. See if they are woody by eating the center part raw.

Toss your sliced parsnips in olive oil and salt, then put into the oven to roast. Roast until they start to caramelize. About 20-25 minutes. If you hit 25 minutes, and they aren't a deep golden color, with some browning, LEAVE THEM IN LONGER. The secret to the amazing flavor of this dish is the roasting process. Once done, remove from the oven.

Place your parsnips in a food processor and add a tablespoon or two of butter. Start the processor. Add a steady stream of heavy whipping cream until a good consistency is acquired. You don't want your parsnip puree to be too watery. I would compare the desired consistency to that of hummus.

Salt and pepper (preferably white pepper) to taste.

This side goes really well with pork, chicken or beef.

BTW, I'm thinking about creating some how to videos. What do you think?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

TweetBacks by Dan Zarrella is flawed

Dan Zarrella has been hard at work with a service called TweetBacks. Essentially, it searches the Twitter public timeline for the URL of the page that it is installed on. Based on the amount of chatter on the web, this product has proved to be very popular.

There are currently two ways that you can use his implementation; One is a hosted version and the other is a non-hosted version as a word-press plugin.

Both versions are flawed.

Hosted version - I'll be blunt. I don't see the logic in making this a hosted service. For one, his infrastructure costs escalate as the popularity of the tool increases. However, if he wants to spend the money, more power to him. But this is not where the issue lies. The real issue with this, is that Dan has created a single point that can be a bottle neck to hundreds, and as the service grows, thousands of blogs. And as I write this, users of the hosted version are reporting that it significantly slows down page loads on their blogs. Apparently demand for the service is growing faster than he can scale his hosting infrastructure. Coming from a strong systems engineering background, it is my opinion, that unless you must absolutely keep something central, then you should always look at methods for distributing application load.

Now, there has been alot of chatter about the page load issues on Dan's blog, and Dan has responded with a second version that users can self-host. Kudos to Dan for listening to his readers and responding. However, I think he missed the mark in his response. His new version doesn't use any javascript in implementation. It is a pure PHP solution.

What's the problem with that?

Well, the problem lies with rate limiting on the Twitter API. According to the Twitter API docs, requests are limited to "100 requests per 60 sixty minute time period, starting from their first request". This is tracked by IP for unauthenticated requests. So basically, if you use his PHP solution to display TweetBacks on your blog, all requests to the API will come from your server IP. This could be a problem for blogs with high traffic.

Enter Quak Bak.

Based on the two major flaws with TweetBacks, I've released my own version called Quak Bak (formerly known as TweetBackRedux).

My implementation is self-hosted and all requests to the Twitter API are done from the clients browser via AJAX. As of version 0.2, it installs in three easy steps. All you need is a Unix server with PHP4 or greater and cURL.

Monday, January 5, 2009

RECIPE: Peanut Butter Noodles

By request.

We served these at our holiday party. They were a huge hit.


  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons hot chile paste (optional)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces Udon noodles
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook until tender according to package directions. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, combine chicken broth, ginger, soy sauce, peanut butter, honey, chili paste, and garlic in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until peanut butter melts and is heated through. Add noodles, and toss to coat. Garnish with green onions and peanuts.