Real bagel shops have salt bagels

I’m from New York originally, so I’m a bit of a bagel snob. There are all sorts of bagels–but the ones I know I don’t like are supermarket bagels. You know, the ones that are basically bread shaped like a bagel. Or, worse, the packaged whole wheat ones that are sold in the bread aisle and are also like bread, but are nothing more than whole wheat bread in a ring form. They’re also usually stale because no one buys them. There are frozen ones, which are sometimes okay, but still have a weird taste and texture (I won’t shout out brand names to protect the innocent, or guilty, as it were).

Then there are the stores such as Panera Bread, that are nationally ubiquitous and have decent bagels that I believe are cooked properly (boiled first, then baked). The problem is, they are not quite authentic, and part of the reason for that is the name of the company, Panera BREAD. They also use foo-foo flavors liberally. Bruegger’s makes good bagels too, but, well, they are a notch below the big boys.

Which brings me to this post. It took a while once we moved to Madison to find a good bagel store, but we did, in Gotham Bagels. And one of the first signs that I had arrived in a time warp from my days in New York was that Gotham Bagels had my favorite–the salt bagel. And today I noticed another flavor that is typical only of real New York style bagel shops–the pumpernickel bagel. Yum. I had one of each already today. But the salt bagel is amazing. It’s like a giant pretzel but with a bagel taste and texture. This one is slathered with cream cheese, but I also like this bagel with olive cream cheese (another NY thing but also one I’ve found at Bruegger’s or Panera) to give it even more sodium. (note: as always, don’t tell my doctor…I am taking my cholesterol meds and fish oil, anyway).

Hey, is it dinner time yet? I think I need another bagel.

Quick breakfast frito pie

Don’t tell your cardiologist about this one. Also, don’t tell my doctor, either. But I whipped this up this past weekend and it was too delicious not to share with you. And it’s real easy. It also was the perfect breakfast after I had a few beers Friday night.

First, take a generous handful of Frito’s and put then in a shallow bowl. Cook 2 slices of bacon in the microwave (or as you would normally cook bacon) for about 2 minutes or until crisp. Cut 3-4 slabs of Velveeta off a hunk and cut that into smaller cubes. Sprinkle over the Fritos and nuke for about 30 seconds. Crumble bacon on top of Frito mixture. Meanwhile, spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and warm over medium heat. Crack an egg (or two) into the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes or until the whites are set and yolk is still runny. Slide egg(s) onto the top of the Frito mixture and sprinkle with hot sauce. Serve with a big glass of OJ or big mug of coffee, and enjoy (trust me, you will!).

Turkey Day is upon us

Folks, where did that year just go? Just like that, it’s Thanksgiving again. This year we are visiting family and going out for dinner, but we plan on having our own turkey dinner the week afterward. Meanwhile, I thought it would be a good time to plug my own blog here, and publish a link to last year’s instructions on cooking a turkey 101.

Here is that link:

And here is a link to what to do with your leftovers

You can also make the soup recipe I posted a few weeks ago using turkey instead of chicken

Then, of course, if you can’t button the button on your pants, you can make this healthy turkey sandwich.

I’ll have more ideas for leftovers next week, but for now I wanted to make sure you were covered with a refresher and some ideas for leftovers to start out.

Some foods are too funny

Chef JimDo me a favor, try to keep a straight face when I say this–Spotted Dick.

If you didn’t laugh, I’m sorry but I can’t be friends with you. I saw that in a magazine a few years ago and my wife and I were howling. Turns out spotted dick is a sort of English sponge cake, almost like fruit cake.

Maybe some day I will be brave enough to try it, even though it’s not like eating monkey brains or anything. I just can’t get past the name or the fact that it is sold in a can. Anyway, I snapped the photo you see here at a World Market store recently. I couldn’t help it. And even as I write this I am snickering. Spotted Dick….ha!

Product review: Doritos Fiery Fusion

Last year I reviewed the Doritos Burn flavored super-spicy tortilla chips on the Bullz-Eye blog. I haven’t seen those lately, but yesterday I was stopped in my tracks (as Mrs. Mikey will attest, snack foods have this effect on me) by a new flavor of Doritos–Fiery Fusion “Sizzlin’ Cayenne & Cheese” chips. Just like the Burn chips, these are wicked spicy–not wimpy spicy like many snack foods tend to be. And while there is a distinct cayenne pepper zing and tangy flavor, these chips have even more taste with a bold cheesy flavor courtesy of buttermilk, cheddar and sour cream solids. That’s the technical term, but it tastes like Nacho Cheese Doritos that are, well, wicked spicy. And overall, they are also wicked delicious. So if you see these chips in the store this weekend, grab a bag or two and don’t forget to buy extra beverages to wash them down with.

Two great food shows right now

There are so many food related TV shows now that it gets mind-blowing to try and watch them all or to even DVR them all. But I want to turn you on to two that have new seasons happening now that you should absolutely watch, especially if you are a foodie.

The first is “Top Chef: Texas” on Bravo. I haven’t watched this week’s episode yet but caught the season premiere last week. The production company Magical Elves consistently hits home runs with their shows, especially this one. This year it’s big, just like the state of Texas, and in addition to regular judges Padma Lakshmi (host), Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons, they have added Emeril Lagasse and Hugh Acheson. And they began with something like 30 contestants, but only half or so of which will actually wear the Top Chef chef coats and have a real chance to compete for the title of Top Chef. This show airs on Wednesday nights on Bravo, and if you haven’t seen it, you have to check it out. This is one show that knows how to keep us interested and just delivers quality shows every week. I can’t wait to see how this season progresses.

The other show is “The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs” on Food Network. The “Next Iron Chef” reality show brought us the likes of Jose Garces and Michael Symon, but this season is like no other. This time, they have all celebrity chefs, many of which we have already seen on Food Network such as Beau McMillan, Anne Burrell, Robert Irvine, Geoffrey Zakarian, Alex Guarnaschelli, Michael Chiarello and Marcus Samuelsson. Sign me up! So far two episodes have aired, and it’s clear that the level of competition is maybe like no other show that Food Network has ever seen, mainly because of how incredibly talented each chef is. Whoever came up with the idea of going this route as opposed to finding ten great restaurant chefs we have never heard of? Genius. This one airs Sunday nights on Food Network.

That’s it for now. There are more great shows going on and many more holiday themed shows we can talk about, but I think you should check these two out before the seasons get too old.

Cheez-It chicken

Like most guys, I have an affinity for cheese crackers, and in particular I’ve always been partial to Cheez-It brand crackers. And for some reason, I haven’t been able to look at a box of them lately without thinking that I need to use them in recipes. So I just figured this past weekend that I was going to do it. So I made fried chicken breast cutlets with crushed Cheez-Its as the breading. Do you think that sounds good? Yeah, me too, but they came out even better than I had anticipated. Here is how to do it…..

Gather a pound or two of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, and flatten them slightly with a mallet unless they are already on the thin side. Put a couple of tablespoons of vegetable or olive oil in a nonstick pan and set over low heat. Meanwhile, set up a station of plate-shallow bowl-plate leading up to the pan. Take about 2 cups of Cheez-Its and run them through a food processor until you have the consistency of bread crumbs. Put some flour on the first plate, crack two eggs in the shallow bowl and whisk together, and put the Cheez-It crumbs on the other plate. Season each station with salt and pepper. Then dip each chicken breast into the flour, egg and then crumbs before placing in the heated pan. Raise heat to medium and cook chicken about five minutes per side or until crispy on the outside and cooked through and no longer pink in the middle. Depending on how many you are making, it might be better to cook them in batches. Serve as is or with ranch dressing for dipping.

1-2-3 chicken soup

Last weekend I was caught by the smell of the rotisserie chickens in the grocery store. Sometimes I can walk right by them and sometimes I shop hungry, which is always bad for the wallet. And it’s especially bad when confronted with especially delicious smelling roasted chicken. I got home and we had chicken sandwiches for lunch and picked it all off the carcass to save for recipes or chicken salad. Sometimes I throw the bones away, but as you should do with a cooked chicken or turkey, I wrapped it up and made soup on Sunday.

Making homemade chicken soup is so easy, a monkey can do it, especially when you have grocery stores that roast the chicken for you. Anyway, here is how to do it…

Put the carcass in a large soup pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, while adding chopped carrots and celery and some parsley sprigs. Add some salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, thyme, a bay leaf, and pinches of onion powder and garlic powder. Lower heat and simmer for about two hours, adding more water as necessary and adding more salt and pepper to taste. When cool enough, remove bones, and make sure you leave the meat in the soup (or add in meat you may have taken off the bone earlier). Then cook some noodles or rice separately and add to the cooked soup or in individual bowls to serve. Nothing is better than homemade chicken soup. To me, canned soups are for some reason becoming more and more disgusting. I’m not sure if it’s the preservatives or the weird spices or thickening agents used, but blech. So yeah, make my soup instead!

Perky Jerky in prime time

Last year, we reviewed a product called Perky Jerky on the Bullz-Eye blog and then this past January, the company sent us the new Turkey Perky Jerky which was reviewed here on Mikey’s Kitchen. So last night I was watching Rachel Maddow on MSNBC and as she was talking about the “Best New Thing in the World” and promo-ed it by saying that the best new thing was going to be caffeinated meat, I knew right away what she meant–Perky Jerky.

Since many of you probably began searching for this product after watching Rachel try to re-create it by stirring Red Bull with a Slim Jim, and then pouring Red Bull into a bowl of jerky like milk on cereal, I thought it might be appropriate to plug the product again. And it’s especially appropriate because Brian Levin, the founder of Perky Jerky, is running the NYC Marathon this weekend dressed up in a coat made of Perky Jerky packages. Now that’s marketing. But having Rachel pimping his product couldn’t have hurt either.

Anyway, go check this stuff out–it’s tasty and it works!

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