Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I broke down and got the new Ninja...

Just before departing to my home town on Saturday July 3rd, I got an eMail message from my Aunt and my mom. It would seem that friends of theirs were in great distress. A fireworks-related fire had burned down an entire apartment building in my home town of Fresno. A long-term friend of my Aunt's was now homeless, along with her entire family, and everyone else in the building.

St. Anthony's church was orchestrating a donation drive to provide relief for these people. Everything was welcome: cash, food, clothing, bedding, toiletries, kitchen gear, furniture, etc. You name it, they needed it. They lost everything.

As you may know, I am on a foodie-cooking kick right now. It will probably last for the rest of my life. I am tentatively scheduled to go in for Rouex-en-Y Gastric Bipass. This is the most drastic, irreversible, and effective technique. The dirty little secret the docs keep in the closet is that nothing else really works. So-called Lap-band has a huge failure rate. So does the Gastric Balloon. Sleeve Gastrectomy is effective at first, but the remains of the stomach naturally expand, and there is no bipass of the duodenum, meaning that the weight eventually comes back.

There are two other dirty little secrets they keep in the closet: You will never be able to eat tallow, lard, or shortening again without throwing up. Bacon, panchetta, and lardons are highly questionable. Neither will you be able to eat anything with serious sugar in it. This will produce a phenomenon known as "dumping" which will cause nasty heart palpitations. Although you are in no danger, you will feel like you are dying of a heart attack.

All of this is Pavlovian conditioning. The doctors intentionally modify your digestive track in ways that guarantee you will hate fast food forever more. If you transgress, your modified digestive system will punish you severely for it. Just a few punishment episodes later and you will grow sick at the mere scent of a Quarter Pounder with Cheese. The logical implication is that bariatric surgeons are pointing the finger at fast-food for world-obesity. It is not a bad theory.

The final dirty little secret is that you just won't enjoy the experience of dining out anymore... anywhere. Too many restaurants--even good ones--rely on Crisco and sugars to produce their dishes. Crisco makes you heave-hoe, and the sugars (or caramels) will make you feel like you are dying. Consider carefully what you see on "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives". You will understand the counseling I have gotten.

As our R.N. Nutritionist has said several times, "You really should consider cooking for the rest of your life." I have accepted this argument and challenge. If I have to cook everything I eat for the rest of my life, I better get damn good at this. I better expand my vocabulary of dishes, and I had better learn the gourmet way of doing things.

This is a long way of coming back to the point: I have been replacing a lot of old kitchen gear lately with vastly-upgrade technologies. Out with the Cuisinart Coffee Pot. In with the Ultra-French Press. Out with the Aluminum Non-stick. In with the Cast-Iron and Enameled Cast-Iron. Out with the Tappan gas range. In with the infrared propane grill. Out with the pot. In with the Dutch Oven. Out with pan. Enter the Paella.

Now back to the relief project for the victems of fire. I finally found a good logical excuse for giving away all my Member's Mark Aluminum non-stick cookware, and the Ninja. There were a bunch of other things in the package also, including the Cuisinart Coffee Maker. I was pretty generous.

Of course, I was selfish too. I wanted to make space in my kitchen, and I wanted to purchase the new Ninja. I just got it yesterday, with another 20% off coupon at Bed Bath and Beyond. So how is it?

It is pretty impressive. The new one works substantially better than the old, and the old one was pretty good. The 450 watt power-pod does indeed spin those blades much more rapidly. I don't doubt that they are twice as fast as before, as some reviewers have suggested. It isn't as loud either, it's quieter.

The first mission was Pasta. 300 grams of Double-Zero "00" Balta flour, 3 eggs, a dash of olive oil and some fine-ground sea salt. The eggs and the oil went into the small Ninja with four blades. The Balta flour and the fine sea salt went into the big Ninja. I pulsed both about 7 times. I added the eggs to the flour (in the big container with 6 blades) and zapped in for about 1 minute.

Just like Jamie Oliver, I got the crumblies. I removed the 6-blade tree from the big Ninja, which was the most challanging aspect of the whole opperation, and dumped the pitcher over on a Silpat. I kneaded the crumbles into a ball on the Silpat. It took less than 3 minutes to do that.

Although I still made a little mess, this was the cleanest pasta making experience of all time. Very little flour anywhere. Very little egg anywhere. Believe me, I have had volcano experiences...

Total process time was maybe 10 minutes. I could have done it significantly faster if I was trying. I took Bobby Flay's advice and stuck the pasta in a Zip-Lock bag, and put it in the refrig to set for 20 minutes. I never did get back too it last night. Tonight, I will make a Mac-N-Cheese with Tagliatelli noodles.

I am sure the pasta will be sensational. This recipe is bullet-proof. It always works.

I have to say that the new Ninja passed my little test with flying colors. It kicked ass. This was a totally smooth experience. If you happen to be in need of an outstanding food-processor or blender solution, I can recommend this too you.