Know Your FACTS: Making Crap Tasty

One of the highest compliments I have ever received for my culinary creations was in college by a friend of mine who said I make crappy food taste good.

We are all frequently stuck with unappetizing junk that we somehow are supposed to turn into a meal. This could be because our budget restricts us from buying pristine produce from Whole Foods. Or it could be because we are dumb-asses who forget that those leftovers in the back of the fridge are slowly rotting and that expiration dates DO exist. Or purely because we are stuck in a situation where nothing appears to be edible (like in many airports or small backwater towns where the only place to get ‘groceries’ is from a gas station). Regardless, here are a few tips to turn crap into tasty crap…

I successfully managed to take a bunch of junk found in my kitchen,  and gave it the Fed Up makeover, which led to one of the most satisfying snacks I have had in a long…long…time. Yes, this will actually get the coveted Fed Up ‘Best Bite‘ award despite being born from such terrible ingredients.

This is what I did to turn a highly processed hotdog, a pickle,  a slice of American cheese, a bit of extremely expired mustard (2 years past the ‘best-by date’) and a stale tortilla into one hell of an impressive looking AND impressive tasting snack.

Fed Up Food Hotdog toritilla outside

Just look at those beautiful grill marks. Even Dozer, the Fed Up dog, who is almost completely vegetarian was mesmerized by this beauty.

FACT: Looks are important. Even if the ingredients are complete crap, if the food looks tasty, then it can lead to an enjoyable eating experience. Is this because our mind overpowers our sense of taste? I am not sure. I took the stale tortilla and  heated it on grill pan. I rotated the thing 90 degrees mid-way thorough the cooking process to create that aesthetically pleasing ‘cross-hatch’ pattern on the outside. Suddenly the blank-white page of my tortilla had a kick-ass set of grill marks to liven things up.

FACT: Cheese makes everything taste better. Cheese really is all-powerful. Even if it just the humble American ‘single’, a layer of melty cheese not only provides that beautiful taste and smell, but  the gooey texture also binds the meal together unifying a bunch of parts into a single harmonious bite. I took the slice of cheese and laid it down on the tortilla so that I had a base to build the rest of the wrap upon.

FACT: Grill>microwave. While the quick convenience of the microwave can be freaking difficult to pass-up; the charred bite you can get from something that is cooked crisp in a toaster oven, on the grill or by the stove definitely overcompensates for the increase in time involved. I could have taken that crappy processed hotdog and followed the instructions branded on the packaging that encouraged me to throw the thing in the microwave. But me, being the stubborn food-obessed fanatic that I am, insisted on turning a cheap piece of protein into the best tasting cheap piece of protein possible by giving it the ‘grill’ treatment. This  flimsy, soggy, hot dog suddenly transformed into a smoky sausage with a texture that would provide far more ‘snap’ when bitten into. So once fully cooked, the hot, hotdog was ‘glued down’ to the cheese which melted from the radiant heat.

Fed Up Food Hotdog tortilla 1

Ingredients doing their part: The cheese ‘gluing’ the whole thing together and the pickle offering temperature contrast to the hot hotdog.

FACT: Various temperatures and textures keep things interesting. Think about a hot-fudge-sundae or a sour cream topped taco; contrasting temperatures in meals provide a whole new level of edible enjoyment.  And the same goes for textures. Perfect examples include crunchy granola on yogurt, or throwing in nuts to give you something to chew on when digging into a pile of mashed sweet potatoes. Multiple textures keep the meal from getting mundane and your mouth is kept busy adapting to each forkful.  The cool, crunch of the pickle that I placed in the tortilla contrasted perfectly with the rest of the ingredients in a glorious way!

FACT: Balance is necessary. Nobody like a single monotone flavor note. Even you if you like stupidly-spicy food, the intense heat from a chile pepper needs to be kept in check by other elements of the dish. If balance is neglected, you can be left with a dinner dominated by the fiery spice of a pepper, and all the other flavors will be lost.  Paring foods from opposite ends of the flavor spectrum  can harmoniously create a balanced meal where the flavor from each ingredient is enjoyed.   For a  salty element in a meal, a sweet element could then be added to raise the recipe to a whole other level (like how this pizza with goat cheese and salami is balanced out by the figs or how sweet balsamic vinaigrette gets combined with salty feta and bacon in this combo). And vegetarian dinners need something to provide that ‘meaty’ aspect to make a meal not feel like a side dish; so I often add mushrooms which allow for a hearty-chewy-unami meatiness. And to cut through the heavy weight the hotdog and cheese were giving my tortilla-based meal, I knew some strong mustard with its sinus-clearing ability and  vinegar base would do a great job of balancing things. (And if you were wondering about how the 2-year-past-expiration-date mustard tasted…FACT: Mustard NEVER goes bad…at least in the Fed Up kitchen.)

Fed Up Food hotdog tortilla vertical

Crappy food made tasty.

FACT: Season EVERYTHING. While natural, locally grown, properly handled produce can be amazingly awesome all on its own; much of the junk we stuff our face with needs a bit of seasoning. The typical tomato you buy from your mega mart is some sort of industrially produced product that is seriously lacking in the natural, juicy flavor you can get from a friendly farmer’s home-grown version. So, YES, there are times when ‘plain’ can be perfect; but more often than not a nice shower of seasoning will add just the right accent to a meal. A quick shake from my garlic-onion-paprika-pepper based homemade seasoning really made the hotdog tortilla creation just perfect. It is amazing how a few sprinkles of seasoning can manage to tie a whole dish together. (And if you REALLY screw up a recipe, a bunch of flavorful seasoning can often cover up your mistakes.)

So remember these ‘facts’ and you too can make bad food taste damn good.

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Best Bite, Mr. Fed Up Dishes, Recommendations

Author:Mr. Fed Up

A guy looking for good grub. and YES....I have a website...and I am not going to bore you with one of those personal journal type of blogs. I promise. Check it out; www.FedUpFood.com

Subscribe

Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

14 Comments on “Know Your FACTS: Making Crap Tasty”

  1. April 25, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

    Facts to live by! The only amendment I would make is that “FACT: Grill>(microwave or boiling water)” in the case of hot dogs at least. There is a local hot dog place that claims to be “The home of the world famous red hots” but their hot dogs suck since they just leave them in a vat of hot water all day. When served they put the mushy no texture hot dog directly onto a standard mushy hot dog bun, spoon on a couple teaspoons of their strangely sweet chili like substance and then hand it over. If it wasn’t the only thing I had for lunch that day I probably would have just trashed it. The Chicago style dog I also got was marginally better since it at least had some veggies to break up the mushiness a bit.

    • April 26, 2013 at 10:22 am #

      I can’t stand those hotdog jacuzzis. Grilling (even on a simple grill pan over the stove) is much tastier and does not really take much longer.

      And I ALWAYS laugh when I see a place advertising that they have something ‘world famous’ on their menu.

  2. April 25, 2013 at 8:14 pm #

    For some reason I thought of the show Chopped and the mystery baskets in reading your post! Yes it helps to make mystery crap look appetizing!

    • April 26, 2013 at 12:37 am #

      If it was chopped he would have to also incorporate gummy worms, cherry jello mix, natto, or something equally strange into the plate.

      • April 26, 2013 at 10:28 am #

        haha…or ‘canned bread’…yep. I am pretty sure ‘canned bread’ was one of the mystery ingredient on one episode.

      • April 26, 2013 at 8:57 pm #

        I think the canned bread was actually some sort of molasses bread that might actually have something to it. I want to say that one of the nastiest canned type things I’ve ever seen on chopped would have to be the canned whole (bone in, skin on) chicken. When they pulled it out of the can it was basically falling apart at the seams since it was so over-boiled as part of the canning process.

      • April 29, 2013 at 3:14 pm #

        True story: we had to eat one of those ‘canned chickens’ while trekking in Indonesia. It was DISGUSTING! We had nothing else to eat as this is all that was provided as the protein for one night. It was hard to tell what was bone and what was meat….nasty stuff

    • April 26, 2013 at 10:27 am #

      Haha. Chopped is one of my favorite shows! AND YES, they do judge each contestant on ‘plating’ as well at ‘originality’ and ‘taste.’ Even Iron Chef judges give critical points for ‘presentation’.

  3. Rebecca Treadwell
    April 27, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

    So glad I found your website! Enjoyed talking over the finer points of cuisine this afternoon… I look forward to viewing your future posts, and will let you know if I come up with an amazing flavor combination in the Paula Deen kitchen! And yes….cheese makes everything better…

  4. April 27, 2013 at 4:56 pm #

    Not sure about the grill being better than the microwave, but I agree with your other facts! It’s fun coming up with random creations 🙂

    • April 29, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

      For convenience (and popcorn), the microwave is a good option….but ‘real’ cooking just seems to me to always provide a better result.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Food for Thought | Fed Up Food - May 8, 2013

    […] amazing cooking skills or at least are black-belts in a few ‘family recipes.’ They have trade-secrets and can give you good advice. These secrets make ordinary meals extraordinary. PLUS, the people you […]

  2. Food Flop | Fed Up Food - May 21, 2013

    […] Hotdogs can be tasty. Pizza is always good. So a ‘hotdog-pizza’ would be awesome…right?! […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: