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SINGLES MIXER • Brooklyn Paper

SINGLES MIXER

Blend, chop, puree: Author Chris Peterson perfected 130 recipes in his Carroll Gardens kitchen for his new cookbook, "A Man's Whirled: Every Guy's Guide to Cooking with a Blender."
The Brooklyn Papers / Jori Klein

If there are two things America knows about
its men, it’s that they can’t cook and they love power tools.



Brooklyn men are no exception, and this is why Chris Peterson,
a writer in Carroll Gardens, recently tested over 125 recipes
on a 15-year-old blender in his apartment’s kitchen to write
"A Man’s Whirled: Every Guy’s Guide to Cooking with a Blender,"
released last month by Simon & Schuster.



The cookbook – Peterson’s first – offers time-saving, dude-satisfying,
lady-pleasing blender recipes for men just a hair on the wrong
side of datable, divided into easy categories like "game
day grub" and "date food."



Peterson, 44, pads palatable two- and three-step recipes with
bantering advice about everything from how to keep pantry items
smelling the way they should ("If you were the coach of
the Knicks, would you play four quarters with the same five guys?");
to how to set the tone for a romantic date ("Bedsheets do
not qualify as tablecloths"); to how iceberg lettuce and
bottled dressing can irreparably damage said date ("might
as well wear sweatpants and a torn Metallica T-shirt").



Can a blender, requiring little more than average motor skills,
make a man more datable? GO Brooklyn sat down with Peterson to
explore that, the chemistry of food and how one goes about making
an effortless meal look and taste really, really impressive.



Fancy feast



"Creme brulee is a pain in the ass, but it’s easy in the
blender," Peterson said, while sitting in the living room
of his two-bedroom apartment he shares with his 15-year-old son,
Sam. Peterson, who has always enjoyed cooking, began experimenting
with the blender to ease his hectic lifestyle and to impress
dates with "killer" desserts.



"It turned out to be a super-quick way to prep food and
make entire meals, and it was sort of a watershed to me,"
said Peterson while serving a breakfast of delicious and light
"Armchair QB Quiche," containing shallots, cheddar
and bacon, alongside a heap of his fresh "Marvelous Very
Blueberry Muffins."



In the book, Peterson defends such recipes as indisputably un-sissy.




The author, who is also at work on a novel and a book of short
stories, knew he wanted to write a male-oriented book when he
pitched a number of ideas to a trusted writer-friend, who suggested
that the blender cookbook had the most promise.



"You know how it feels when your team boots that 55-yard
field goal in the final four seconds?" the author’s note
to "Offensive Line Garlic-and-Bean Dip" reads. "Well,
that’s how your tongue is going to feel when it gets a sample
of this smooth and tasty dip."



Peterson created the book’s recipes by compiling tried-and-true
recipes and "adapting them to the weirdness of the blender."




"A blender will only move certain amounts of liquid at one
time," said Peterson, over the sounds of the Gipsy Kings
plinking lightly in the background. Peterson was explaining his
initial shock at the precariousness of perfecting blender recipes.
"The bottom will get blended too much and the top won’t
get blended enough. It’s things like that that you have to understand."



Peterson has no formal culinary training, but seems to be a natural
in the kitchen. He said some of the book’s recipes come from
his family – the book’s section on comfort food also pays tribute
to "Mom’s best" – but Peterson said he did not inherit
his skills.



"My mother – God bless her – made a dry meatloaf you could
kill somebody with," he said, while explaining that a good
meatloaf is good "on a soul level."



"The meatloaf in the book is really moist."



Soup’s on



Some of Peterson’s other favorite blender recipes are his soups,
such as "Red Velvet Roasted Pepper Soup" and "Home
Team Chili," a basic chili recipe to which the author adds
various suggestions for easy embellishing and personalizing.



"Chili is a little like sex," the recipe’s annotation
reads. "The basic idea is simple, but the trick is to develop
your own memorable rendition."



Cooking with the blender may require minimal effort, but testing
145 recipes in an approximately 5-foot by 7-foot kitchen with
a 300-watt Oster blender as old as Peterson’s son ("Hey
– it still works great," he insists) was a trying ordeal.
Having received a moderate advance from his publishers, Peterson
said he spent between six and seven months and about $2,000 polishing
his recipes for the book, and the author learned some tough lessons
along the way.



"I had expected to be able to test five to seven recipes
a day, which is really, really stupid," Peterson said. In
reality, nailing down three to four recipes represented a good
day.



Peterson also learned that certain foods can be finicky when
dumped into a blender.



"Food is chemistry, and chemistry has its own laws,"
Peterson said, recounting that he spent an entire day on a meticulous
Welsh rarebit recipe. "Part of the beauty of blender cooking
is that you have a lot of latitude," he said, but the rarebit
is one of the few in the book that Peterson suggests not to alter.



"And you don’t want to over-blend certain things,"
said Peterson. "I make an egg salad in the blender, but
if you blend it too quickly, you just end up with egg puree.
That’s the sort of thing I discovered."



Danger zone



Peterson’s "antique" blender worked fine until he tried
to use it for chocolate fudge, which caused the motor to start
smoking.



"The blender can almost handle anything, but it can’t move
solid material," Peterson observed. Luckily, the blender
survived the fudge and is still in use today.



"A Man’s Whirled" also includes drink recipes from
the alcohol-spiked "Screamsicle" to nutrient- and protein-packed
smoothies.



"What guy will drink a ’Liquid Salad’? That’s a good question,"
Peterson said. "Once you start adding things like flaxseed
and kale, you’re pushing the envelope a bit on what people are
willing to consider a justifiable smoothie. That taste is not
for everyone, but there’s no getting around the fact that it’s
a lot of nutrients getting into your system very quickly."



Peterson plans to apply the skills he learned writing this cookbook
to publish more collections of recipes. In the meantime, he continues
to write for magazines as well as do-it-yourself and interior
design books for-hire for Hearst.



He’s so good with words, in fact, that some of the recipes in
"A Man’s Whirled" are liable to speak for the chef.
In Peterson’s cookbook, the smooth-talkin’ "Tantalizing
Goat Cheese Timbales" promise they’ll coo: "I care
that only the finest food touches your pristine lips, in the
hope that at some moment, I might."

 

"A Man’s Whirled: Every Guy’s Guide
to Cooking with a Blender" by Chris Peterson (Simon &
Schuster, $13) is available or can be ordered through these bookstores:
The Bookmark Shoppe [6906 11th Ave. at 69th Street in Dyker Heights
(718) 680-3680], BookCourt [163 Court St. at Dean Street in Cobble
Hill, (718) 875-3677] and Barnes & Noble [267 Seventh Ave.
at Sixth Street in Park Slope, (718) 832-9066].


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