Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Brownies (the best you've probably ever had)

A very good friend of mine passed this recipe along to me many years ago. They are easy to make and a great dessert to bring over to someone house. They will be very impressed and be more inclined to invite you over again. Unfortunately, you will then be expected to make these brownies - it could become a vicious circle.

Do you have that kind of time to constantly make brownies for people?
Are they really that good of a friend?
You know what, bring a boxed cake instead and keep this recipe just between us.


· Flour, for dusting the buttered pan
· 4 large eggs
· 3/4 cups cocoa, sifted
· 2 cups sugar
· 12 tablespoons of butter
· 1 tablespoons real vanilla extract
· 1 pinch of kosher salt
· 1 cups flour
· 1 pint of vanilla ice cream
· small pitcher of Sapphire Martinis, very dry, straight up, Olives (lemon twist, if you must but why drink a martini then.)
· CD (preferably, Cohen Live – Leonard Cohen Concert)


· 1 pint of vanilla ice cream
· Wire whisk
· Large bowl (copper bowl, if you have a great friend who gave you one.)
· Chilled martini glass
· 2 cup Pyrex measuring cup


Wake up and decide that today is the day that you are going to make real brownies and not the crap from the package. A few hours before you are going to actually make the brownie, remove the 4 eggs from the refrigerator.

Start the CD and take your chilled glass out of the freezer. Pour your martini. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9x13-inch glass baking dish. Melt together the butter in the microwave then and cocoa powder, stir and allow to cool. Sip your martini and listen to Leonard Cohen and think about how great it is to have a drink, listen to Leonard Cohen and make brownies.

Beat 4 eggs until fluffy. Beat in the sugar and vanilla until well mixed (you can no longer hear the grains of sugar against the side of the bowl.) Think about whether or not Leonard Cohen has every made brownies for himself. Remember that Leonard is a Buddhist monk and have another sip of your martini (notice the beads of sweat on the side of your glass.) Add the vanilla and beat until fluffy (realize that Leonard has never used the word fluffy in a song and take another sip.)

Carefully fold the cocoa mixture into the egg mixture. Fold until just incorporated. Realize how this is just like a Zen koan and have another sip (If you’re listening to the Cohen CD, you should be listening to the ‘Joan of Arc’ cut. Realize how horrible death by fire is and probably pour yourself another cocktail.)

Add the flour all at once, add the pinch of kosher salt and fold in carefully, just until it is combined (you’ll probably still see some very small streaks.) Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until tester just comes out clean. Halfway through the baking, turn the pan around 180 degrees (contemplate that – have another sip.) Debate with yourself whether or not you think Leonard’s or Jeff Buckley’s version of Hallelujah is better.

Take the brownies out of the oven and allow to cool. Once the tray cools, slice into 16 pieces, even pieces are nice but it’s your choice. Find your drink and serve the brownies with a scoop of the vanilla ice cream.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Once there was a way to get back homeward ...

September 26, 1969 -
Beatles release the Abbey Road album in London, on this date.

Though work on Abbey Road began in April 1969, making it the final album recorded by the band, Let It Be was the last album released before the Beatles' dissolution in 1970.

Friday, September 24, 2010

First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.

September 24, 1896 -
In a real dark night of the soul, it is always three o'clock in the morning, day after day.

On this date in 1896, a young Minnesota woman gave birth to a depressive young alcoholic named Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald.

The boy did badly in school and went to train for war in 1918. While training at Camp Sheridan in Alabama, he fell in love with Zelda Sayre, the mentally unstable daughter of an Alabama Supreme Court judge.

The war ended before Fitzgerald could be sent overseas and shot, however, so he went to New York to become rich and famous. He became neither, so Zelda broke off their engagement.

Fitzgerald then moved back to Minnesota. A year later he became a famous writer. He moved to Connecticut, Zelda married him, and they became drunken celebrity wrecks.

They spent a lot of time in Europe. This lasted until Zelda went mad and Fitzgerald died.

Fitzgerald is best remembered for having said the rich were different, even though Hemingway made fun of him.

Oh yeah, he also wrote several books.

... Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us.

It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning -

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Caramel Popcorn (made somewhat easy)

We have a Friday night tradition in our house of 'Family Movie Night' and a big hit with my kids is caramel popcorn. While the kids are choosing the movie I can go into the kitchen a get this snack together in about 10 minutes and down another drink in order to fall asleep within the first 10 minutes of their film choice. A quick safety note - melting sugar is intensely hot and an accident with this could a serious injury, so try to keep the kids out of the kitchen when preparing this.


* 1 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
* 1/4 cup light corn syrup
* 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1/2 tablespoon salt
* 1/4 tablespoon baking soda
* 1 regular sized bag of popcorn (unflavored, unsalted if possible). Popped just before hand.

Tools needed

* 2 quarter teflon coated pot with lid
* large wooden spoon
* large bowl (lightly greased)
* measuring cup
* spray shortening
* one glass (or two) of favorite alcoholic beverage


In a saucepan, combine the brown sugar, corn syrup and butter. (Measure out the brown sugar first. Then spray the inside of your measuring cup with a little bit of spray shortening before measuring out the corn syrup - it will help you pour the corn syrup out of the measuring cup.) Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon to dissolve the sugar. When the sugar syrup starts bubbling, stop stirring, cover pot and swirl the pan around over the heat so it doesn't burn. Simmer for 5 minutes. (Be careful, melting sugar is like molten lava - keep the kids and pets out of your way while you're doing this) Remove the caramel from the heat and add the salt and baking soda. Stir vigorously but carefully (remember you're dealing with molten lava). At this point, you will have a gooey caramel sauce. Place pot to the side and take a sip of your drink, you deserve it.

Put the popcorn in the little greased big bowl and pour the caramel mixture over the popcorn (it will be easier to clean the bowl later if it's greased.) Gently fold with a wooden spoon to coat all of the popcorn (remember - molten lava.) You could add about a 1/2 cup of nuts at your stirring your mixture if you like (my kids don't like 'em, so I don't.) Once you've covered the popcorn, put it briefly aside carefully so no one can reach it before you. Soak your pot and wooden spoon for easy clean up later (make sure you have someone else do the cleaning up.) Continue to sip you drink and bring your snack out for consumption.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I'm still working out the kinks

I'll figure out a layout that I like soon enough. Just hang on.

Keep checking in

Monday, September 20, 2010

What better time to post this recipe

It's the end of summer, so here's my favorite beach house recipe - (little did you know that Dr. Caligari was a chef. Dr. Caligari has many secrets.)

Roast Pork (Pernil)

One of the key secrets to being a good weekend guest is bringing your hosts enough alcohol to make you tolerable and being willing to prepare a meal. It could be as simple as taking your turn at the grill or preparing a main course. I'm posting my recipe for Roast Pork (Pernil). It may seem strange to cook this in the summer given how hot it would make the average apartment. The situation I present is the perfect way to avoid heat stroke in the kitchen.

I admit my instructions are slightly idiosyncratic, so adjust accordingly to your situation and the naked children are highly optional.


* 1 head garlic, cloves peeled
* 3 tablespoons salt
* 1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
* fresh ground pepper
* 2 juice oranges
* case of Coronas
* limes
* 1 (7- to 7 1/2-pound) bone-in pork shoulder with skin

* 1 or more very ice cold Bombay Sapphire martinis


* Mortar and pestle (preferable one that says, "Puerto Rico" on the side)
* cutting board
* One boning knife (or any sharp knife)
* roasting tray
* bowl that you can fit a wounded pork leg
* bottle opener
* china tea cup (not the good china)

The night before:
Be lucky enough to have a best friend that has a home near the beach and invites you and your family out to spend the weekend. Be even luckier that your friend has a separate house for you to stay in when you come and visit (and a kitchen that you can take over.)

Find that radio station that you listen to when your out at the beach - it's somewhere between the all country all the time station and Lite FM one they play at the dentist office. Mash garlic to a paste with 2 tablespoons kosher salt using a mortar and pestle (or side of a large heavy knife), then stir in oregano, a couple of squeezes of half a juice orange and 1 tablespoon pepper.

Using a small sharp knife, begin to separate skin from the fat of the roast, starting at the large end (think of any recent horror movie. Cackle maniacally while you do this. Make sure your family stares at you as if you've lost your mind. Make sure you have a cold Corona (or any beverage at hand but if you’re at the beach, go for the Corona) Make sure you leave the skin attached at the bottom part of the roast. It will appear that you have flayed the roast - good - you've done it correctly.

Make 1-inch-deep puncture wounds in pork under skin and on all meaty sides. Begin rubbing some of garlic mixture into slits with your fingers. Really begin to laugh maniacally. Finish your beer. When someone in your family tell you to shut up, rub any remaining garlic mixture over roast but not the skin. Pull the skin back over the wounded roast and rub with remaining teaspoon kosher salt. Transfer pork to a bowl or dish, cover with aluminum or plastic wrap and refrigerate, at least 8 hours or over night. Make sure you've left enough room in the refrigerator for your remaining case of beer.

The next day:
Wake up and realize that you're at the beach. Turn on the radio (it will remain on the entire day - it's my host's form of a home security system.) Convince the kids to come down to the beach with you to throw a few chairs down on the beach to save a spot for you before the beach gets crowded. Try to enjoy the magnificent view of the ocean while yelling at the kids not to jump in the water in their pajamas. Walk back to your cottage and try to stop the kids from screaming at the top of their lungs at 9:45 AM.

Grease the kids up with sun tan lotion and be amazed at how difficult it is to squeeze them into their bathing suits. Tell them that they cannot go to the beach unless they finish they breakfast and put their 'damn bowls in the sink' and 'no, you are not the damn butler'. Have two preteen children laugh in your face.

Begin the caravan of stuff that has to go to the beach. Realize that it's already about 11:00 AM and you still haven't started the pork roast. Take the pork at of the refrigerator and put it skin side up, in a roasting pan, and let it come to room temperature, about 1 hour. Put the dish that you have the pork marinating in the sink (remember that you're going to have to wash it out.) Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Go down to the beach.

At about 11:45 AM, announce that you are going back to the house and ask if anyone needs anything - remind the kids that it's a good time to take a real potty break (and stop recycling their fluids in the ocean.) When you’re back at the house and after to strip the children so they can go to the bathroom without soiling themselves, cover the roast tightly with foil and roast 2 1/2 hours.

Attempt to get the children back into their wet suits and debate with yourself if you can pretend that you are in Europe and let the kids swim nude. Remember that the noon rule has now come into effect and have your first Corona of the day (remember the lime.) Make several sandwiches - load up a cooler with the sandwiches, drinks (more Coronas with small container of limes), snacks and fruit.

Head back down to the beach with the swimsuit clad offspring and collapse in a beach chair under an umbrella. Begin reading through the pile of magazines you brought from home with you.

At about 2:15 PM, once again announce that you are heading back to the house, remind the kids that it's a good time to take a real potty break (say this in a very low voice so none of them will take you up on your offer.) Head back to the house with the garbage and the empties. Take roast out of the oven and remove foil then the juice of the remaining oranges (by now your kids have eaten the oranges, so you can use a 1/2 cup of orange juice or water) to pan and put back in the over, uncovered.

Replenish your Corona supply and head back down to the beach. You will have to check on the roast every half hour or so to add a little more water. Recruit the other adults to do this when they make the beverage run to the house.

At 4:30 PM, announce you are heading back to the house for the final time and offer to bring any spare chairs, beach toys, whiny children or empties. Check the roast - if skin is browned and crisp and meat is fork-tender, remove. Turn off oven and transfer roast to platter, cover loosely with foil and let stand.

Meanwhile, degrease the pan juices however you like to degrease and discard fat. Add 3/4 cup water and your degreased pan juices back to roasting pan and put roating pan back into the oven (remember that you have the pan in there.)

Strip your kids and allow them to run around naked under the outdoor shower unless or until your best friend's teenage son has come back up from the beach (no young teenage wants to see little girls naked.) Realize that it's 5:00 PM and reward yourself with an icy cold martini (it must be drunk from a tea cup, to correctly impersonate Jackie Gleeson. Remember sip and exclaim, Hmmm, that's good coffee!)

Cut skin off roast pork. (If skin is not crisp, roast in a shallow baking pan in a 475°F oven until crisp, about 10 minutes - remember to have taken out the roasting pan filled with juices.) Cut skin into serving pieces. Pull meat from roast in pieces using a fork. Serve meat with pan juices and pork skin.

See this didn't quite fit in my cabinet so it went in here.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A new place for the odd posting

As I am coming up to my 100th posting on Dr. Caligari's Cabinet, I realize that I'd like to post other things that don't really fit into that blog. I've given myself a present - another site to post other thing.

I won't be posting here every day but check back frequently - more to come.