Monday, September 25, 2006

How many deaths must a chocolate die?

My friend Joke has a blog. (Doesn't everyone?) And once in a while he posts a recipe.

I never cook any of Joke's recipes, even though I've heard it said that Joke is a good cook. I mean, he tells me this all the time. But--for one thing--his recipes are always for sort of grill-happy, extra-virgin-olive-oil laden foods that seem, somehow, out of season most of the time. Could this be because he lives in Miami, home of the South Beach diet, and I live in Chicago, home of the Vienna hot dog, the pierogi, and the Tootsie Roll?

And yet, even in this god-awful, fatty meats-guzzling spot, I entertain from time to time. And once in a great while, I get asked for a recipe.

The thing is, the recipes people want? Are always for those "doctor-up-the-cake-mix" desserts. Never anything I can actually brag about. In fact, I'm always embarrassed to confess the dreadful truth, fearing that I will lose face among the Martha Stewart wannabes of Newtopia, the lovely suburb in which I entertain.

Question: has anyone else has ever thought of coming up with a real, whole-foods, from-scratch version of a popular, yet embarrassing favorite recipe? A version that comes up with pretty much the same dish, but doesn't involve opening a single boxes of instant pudding, let alone cake mix?

Because I have discovered the answer in Dom DeLuise's Eat This, You'll Feel Better. I don't actually own this cookbook--with one exception, that being James Beard, I tend to avoid buying cookbooks by grossly overweight individuals. Call me superstitious, but I'd like to give my metabolism at least a fighting chance. And call me prejudiced, but it does strike me that if the author weighs 400 pounds, there is a pretty good chance that his idea of a serving size and mine might differ--you should excuse the term--substantially.

But. I remembered that long ago, when I took Dom's cookbook out of the library, I was struck that one of his recipes, Death by Chocolate II, was identical to one I had been using for years. I'll call mine "Alexander's Favorite Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cake," because that's what Linda Sunshine called in Plain Jane's Thrill of Very Fattening Food. If you do a search on Dom's version, you'll find it all over the internet. To wit:

Death by Chocolate II

1 box chocolate cake mix
1 box instant chocolate pudding (4 serving size (1/2 cup
per serving)
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup water (I sometimes substitute Grand Marnier here)
1/2 cup sour cream
4 eggs
12 oz chocolate, semi-sweet chips

Mix ingredients in order listed. Pour into greased Bundt pan. Cook at
350 for 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes and remove from pan. Believe me,
frosting is not necessary with this cake.

I found zillions of versions on the internet. But when I searched for Dom's by-scratch version, Death by Chocolate I, I found only one version, to wit:

Death by Chocolate I

2 c. flour
1 tbsp. double-acting baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 c. sugar
2 large eggs
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature, quartered
1 c. sour cream
1/2 c. water 2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. plus 2 tbsp. cocoa
1 12-oz package semi-sweet chocolate chips
powdered sugar

Sift flour, baking powder, and baking soda twice. Place in a small bowl. Beat the sugar and eggs in a large mixing bowl until sugar is dissolved. Add butter and mix into egg mixture thoroughly. Add sour cream, water, vanilla extract, and beat. Add flour mixture and cocoa and beat slowly just until flour is absorbed. Do not over-beat. Fold in chocolate chips and pour into buttered Bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour. When cool, sift powdered sugar on top. Variation: Replace 1/4 c. of the water with Grand Marnier.

Clearly, the internet is far more interested in quick-and-dirty cakes than more laborious scratch versions of the same thing. Because like me, the internet is a big sleazebag.

But I can outfox the internet now, and so can you. Go ahead and bake the easy version--I've done it myself more times than I can count. Every time I get asked to bring a dessert to a function, this is what I bring. I can't tell you how many times I've been asked for a recipe. And now, when the person who asks is someone I don't like very much, if at at all, I can give her the recipe for Death by Chocolate I. I might even have her separating the eggs, sifting flour four times, and tempering the chocolate, just to be really evil.

Instant entry; just add Google

Who needs to think about what to post when there's Google images to do the posting for me! Click on any of the below, and I guarantee that those pictures will be worth a thousand of my words.

1. Jello mold
2. Casserole
3. Tater tots
4. Potluck recipes
5. Crockpot recipe

Let this be a lesson to you, folks. You might think the recipes I'm mocking over here are corny. And that nobody cooks that crap any more. Well, the pictures in Google are up to the minute. Somebody is still cooking this crap.

Now, what are we going to do to stop it?

Monday, May 29, 2006

Just add water.

When inspiration palls, what's a Horrifying Chef to do?

Run this blog through the Dialectizer, of course, choosing the oh-so-appropriate, Muppety-fresh Swedish Chef dialect.

Enjoy, and bork bork bork!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Talk about cheesy!

Tonight I felt too lazy to get out of the extremely comfortable armchair I'm sitting in, so to find a topic for today's post, I did a search for "cream of mushroom soup." And can you believe it--this was the first recipe that came up.

It just goes to show you that whenever you go looking for your heart's desire, you shouldn't go any further than your own back yard.

And now with a tip of the hat to the lovely and talented Judy Garland, I bring you:

Broccoli-Rice Cheesy Bake

2 (10 ounce) packages frozen chopped broccoli
3 cups instant rice (I use 3 cups of plain rice, which cooked is about 6 cups. It's a lot.)
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 1/4 cups water
1 (16 ounce) package processed American cheese, cubed
salt and pepper to taste

Cook broccoli and rice according to package directions. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a medium saucepan over low heat, mix cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup, and 1 1/4 cups water. Gradually stir in cheese until melted. Be careful that the cheese doesn't burn.
In a large mixing bowl, combine broccoli, rice, soup and cheese mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Pour mixture into a 9x13 inch baking dish.
Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, until bubbly and lightly brown.

This is almost Horrifying Foodstuffs nirvana. I mean--two cans of condensed soup? Not to mention instant rice and processed cheese?

However, I'm sorry to say that this recipe's purity was sullied by the inclusion of frozen chopped brocolli. Oh well ... nothing's perfect. It's a fallen world we live in, after all ... but at least I can take comfort in the fact that the brocolli was frozen.

Also, the one and a quarter cups of water? Let's hope it's polluted.

Friday, February 24, 2006

How the mighty have fallen.

If you're like me (although, luckily for you, you probably aren't) you don't just have a perverse fascination with Junior League cookbooks and recipes involving heavy artillery, like condensed cream of mushroom soup or Cool-Whip™, you also have a perverse fascination with awful-sounding recipes that you've seen over and over and over on boxes of packaged foods. You grew up reading the backs of cereal boxes, and you got into the habit of reading boxes. You spent years reading any box or can you saw. You started to wonder about these recipes you kept seeing--the Dream Whip cake, the Campbell's Tomato Soup cake, and most of all, the Ritz Cracker Mock Apple Pie. What are they actually like?

Yes, I've thought long and hard about back-of-the-box recipes, but never--before today--did I have the nerve to actually cook one of them.

This afternoon I wanted to make cookies--without having to run out to the supermarket to buy any ingredients. I rummaged around the baking supplies cupboard to see what I had on hand. To my surprise, I found a package of Nestle's Butterscotch flavored chips. "Where the hell did these come from?" I wondered silently to myself.

And then it struck me. I could make Oatmeal Scotchies!

Maybe you haven't been as fixated on Oatmeal Scotchies as I've been some people have. But for me many people, Oatmeal Scotchies have been the subject of intense interest.

As the lovely and eloquent Caryn puts it:
"One of our families favorite cookies. I often bake these to take to different events and am always asked for the recipe since they are such a different cookie from the standard cookie."
(By the way, did you know that eating butterscotch morsels kills brain cells? Or that butterscotch morsels consume 48 times their weight in excess punctuation marks? But I digress.)

So anyway, today I fulfilled a long-cherished dream. I baked a batch of Oatmeal Scotchies. I creamed the butter, I zapped the brown sugar to get it soft enough to pack into the measuring cups, I used organic vanilla extract--I did everything right.

Then it was time to add the butterscotch morsels. I opened the bag. They were a bizarre orange color. I put one in my mouth anyway. Ew. The taste was very artificial and vaguely boozey, and the texture was both revoltingly greasy and tongue-coatingly waxy.

I realized what butterscotch morsels taste like: they taste like a Butter Rum Lifesaver enrobed in a tasty layer of Crisco.

I baked the cookies anyway. After all, I had gotten that far.
But, as the poet asks, "what happens to a dream deferred?" And I answer, "it vomits up a bunch of cookies."

I took the pan out of the oven. They. looked. like. dog. vomit. See?

Thank your lucky stars that shot was out of focus. Trust me; you don't want to get too close to these things.

And the weird thing was--the recipe actually yielded more cookies than it said it would. When does that ever happen?

Here--take one. These are some of the choicest of the batch, because there were lumps of brown sugar in them. So they give the best technicolor lumps-of-dog-hurl effect of all.
Extreme close-up!!!!!!!

Run away! RUN AWAY!!!!!!!!

p.s. Guess what? My husband loved them.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Poppy Toast

No, this isn't another recipe. It's the result of my entering this blog into a Blog Explosion contest. I got my rump tenderized, to use the argot of the chef de cuisine.

Of course, being the competitive sort, I'm not content to rest upon my non-existent laurels.

No, I bravely forget ahead, sugar bowl in hand, peering into the stew pot that is this blog, wondering how much sugar I'll need to add to eradicate the effects of having accidently dumped too much salt into the ragout.

One thing I'm thinking about is tweaking my template. I don't know whether I feel like getting a snappy professionally-designed template, like the one on my other blog. I mean, hey, that design cost money! No, I was thinking along the lines of what I've been doing to my other other blog. Just fooling around with the colors.

I've started by turning the blog titles avocado green. My question to you, oh non-existent readers, is whether I should continue in this direction. I was thinking a pale, sickly shade of yellowish green for the background, and maybe make some of the other fonts show up in a dark, badly-bruised-looking shade of purple.

What do you think? It makes perfect sense to me that, since my topic is basically, nausea, I should make this blog as horrible looking as I can. And since so many of the recipes I mock are from the 60s and 70s, I thought a hideous color scheme of avocado green, harvest gold, and burnt pumpkin would work nicely.

On the other hand, if I make people spew all over their keyboards, I'll never win the Battle of the Blogs.

All suggestions gladly accepted. Comment away! "Love," as the singer was wont to sing "has no pride," and I do love this silly little blog.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Dinosaur Eggs--They're What's For Breakfast!

Ack, I just realized that I entered this blog into a Blog Explosion challenge against Jane Loves Tarzan. When I really meant to enter my other blog, which is a more general, personal diary type of read. Whoops.

And now I've got 30 credits riding on a blog whose sole purpose is to make fun of a bunch of bad recipes. What to do?

Jump right the hell in, that's what.

So here's the latest monstrosity I discovered. Something short, if not sweet. For the record, this recipe comes from the River Road Recipes cookbook, a publication of the Junior League of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. No, I don't have the cookbook handy. It's elsewhere. So unfortunately, I can't type in the recipe verbatim. But why would I need to? This recipe only has two ingredients:

Dinosaur Eggs

Four eggs (chicken eggs, duh)
One can Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup

Break eggs into bowl. Mix until well scrambled. Mix in can of soup. (Do not add water!) Scramble in a pan over low heat. Serve.

Mmm-mm good!™

Actually, it sort of sounds like dog vomit.

And I don't care how many home economics graduates the Campbell Soup company can get to line up and assure me, one after the other, that this glop would be edible. I cry foul.

[Or fowl. Hee!]

At any rate--not to sound like Pat Robertson, but a recipe like this makes you realize why Hurricane Katrina whalloped Louisiana, doesn't it?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Once in a while, I'm not reading cookbooks to find horrifying recipes.

Once in a while, I'm reading cookbooks so I can actually cook something good. You may have noticed that I haven't posted anything new here in a while. But it's because I was actually cooking real, live, home-made, only-very-lightly-processed food. There was nary a can of cream of mushroom soup or a tub of Cool-Whip to be found chez Poppy.

But it's the new year, and guess what? All that not-mushroom-souped or Cool-Whipped food is now lodging in fat cells all over my body. Which is good news for you, because it means that once more, I am obsessed with foods I have no business eating.

And when you're surviving on rice cakes and miso soup, what better than to read old Junior League cookbooks, searching for the ultimate cheese ball recipe?

So ... I'll be back.