Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How I became a fan of Tyler Florence.

So, it turns out that Tyler won the Home Run Derby in 2008 as well as 2009. I caught an older episode of Tyler's Ultimate from 2008 in which he made Moroccan Brick chicken, with Flatbread, Couscous and a yogurt dressing. Once again, Tyler blew my brains out. I have scheduled project Marrakesh for this weekend.

Brick Chicken! Now if that isn't a backyard grill masterpiece for Football fans I don't know what is. I was getting a bit tired of the beer can, so now here comes the brick! Perfect fit! Right on time. In all seriousness, this was one hell of a lineup, and smoldering with appeal. Tyler suggested preparing this for somebody you really want to impress and it will make you look like a Superhero. I have no doubt this is the case. When he did the taste test, he claimed it was way off the chart. I have no doubt this is the case, and it might be an understatement.

Of course a few mods are in order. Since I am already well versed in how to make pizza dough (thank Alton) there is no need to go to the pizza joint around the corner. They suck anyway. Two days rising in the frige should give that #00 15.5% gluten Durham wheat some serious flavor. I think I will load the dough with some Caraway to give it a bit of a rye tang. I happen to have some saffron loaded couscous I would like to use. This is that magic moment.

This once again reaffirms why I became one of Tyler's biggest fans. This dude brings in the meal plans like no other. Remember, you are dealing with most observant and critical dude in the Zodiac. I don't impress easy. When I say this guy is the most impressive chef on the Food Network, you should take note.

So did I ever mention how I became a big fan? More than a year ago, a lovely Capricorn female here in the office challenged me to go green. This meant joining a plant growing contest here in the office. Naturally, I could refuse her nothing, as I have this ineluctable thing for Capricorn women. This offered me an opportunity to show off my research & engineering skills. I intended to win the contest.

In short, I went out and got a 7 pod Aerogarden Classic hydroponic garden with the international herbs kit. It is still sitting here right next to me at work, although it is now growing Bhut Jolokia pepper seedlings. The Herbs die after about 6 or 7 months. This was a year ago, remember? The original herb kit is a pretty splendid thing. Guess what it contains?

  1. Thyme
  2. Chives
  3. Italian Basil
  4. Purple Basil
  5. Dill
  6. Mint
  7. Parsley

If it had rosemary instead of purple basil it would be the perfect thing for Tyler. I have never seen him or anyone take advantage of the power of purple basil. Believe me, purple kills everything else.

Anyhow, about 3 months into the project, I started looking around for ways to take advantage of these herbs. Tyler Florence is the guy who most consistently employs fresh, rather than dry, herbs. He constantly admonishes his audience to avoid dry herbs. He exhorts us to use fresh herbs just about every day. I quickly zeroed in on Tyler as the best coach for the job I had in mind. I was right.

In case you don't know, Tyler is 100% correct about fresh non-dried herbs. Further, if you have never clipped an herb, crushed it and thrown it in the pot within moments, you are missing out on the finest flavors in life. I remember the first chicken & pesto pasta I made with these Aerogarden herbs. It was fucking flavor explosion, and I am not joking. You never smelled aromas like that, or tasted flavors that strong.

This is why I frequently salivate when I see Jamie Oliver walking around in the woods cutting herbs. I know he is about to drop a flavor H-bomb on some unsuspecting soul. The refrigerated herbs from Whole Foods are okay, and you get some of the effect, but they are not like fresh cut herbs. The dried stuff pretty well sucks, even if you sweat them in olive oil, which is the best thing you can do with dry herbs.

Right now it is the summer of my discontent. All my gardens have died. Incidentally, I now have 5 of them. I have no fresh herbs at the moment. I really can't replant at this time. I go in for gastric bypass in a month or so. If I plant now, the new gardens will not be mature before surgery. They will mature by Christmas. Christmas should be my peak period of weight loss, and well before I can eat a good Chicken Pesto Pasta. Therefore, now is not the time to plant. After surgery, I can replant. 90 days later, they will reach first clipping. That should be around the time when I can begin to cook somewhat normally again.

I just have to sweat out the next month with crappy dry herbs and sub-par fresh herbs. Not fun. My cooking is taking a hard hit from this situation. I was knockin'em dead with those fresh hydroponic herbs. Now I am dropping down in power to a more run-of-the-mill chef. I don't like that.

Replanting the gardens will give me something to do in the aftermath of the surgery. When they blossom again, the winter of my discontent will be turned to glorious spring time by these little sons of bitches.