Fake meat technology has improved.

Those of you that follow me, know that I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from meat. Not a total hiatus, mind you, but the kind where I eat a lot less of it and my digestive system doesn’t wage mutiny against me. That being said, I miss steak. I love pork chops. When bacon and I broke up? Well, let’s just say.. there were a few really dark days.

I’ve always been anti-fake meat. The consistency is rubbery, the flavor is questionable, and fake fucking hamburgers? Why not just eat the real thing.. 

Gardein Mandarin Orange Crispy Chicken?  You humble me.

You’re a DAMN fine product that’s gonna make meat free days much better. Your consistency is meal-like, your flavor doesn’t make me nauseous. In fact, it’s pretty tasty. I know it’s too early to fall in love, but I’m not ruling anything out. 😉

Look forward to a real post, like.. with pictures.. and recipes and everything. Coming in a couple days. Smootchies.

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Alton Brown’s Inevitable Edible Tour

Last night was one of the coolest nights that I’ve had in a long time. Confluent Boyfriend and I drove down to Cerritos (which is about an hour south in heavy LA traffic) to see Alton Brown’s Inevitable Edible Tour. It was really everything that I had hoped for. The show made a lot of Good Eats references that I really enjoyed and he talked about some of his future plans too, which include 

I wrote an article about it on Examiner.com, that doesn’t give away too many spoilers. But, anyone near the tour cities should make every attempt to go!

I would also like to mention that since I published this, it was featured on FREAKING GOOGLE NEWS!!!


Posted in deep thoughts, examiner, Food, paid writer, Rambling, Uncategorized, writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I’m a busy girl

..but never too busy for a great meal. I’ve been working (writing and also my full time corporate slave job) and going to school. It’s been really difficult to hammer out the time to get into the kitchen and just create something delicious for the hell of it. I really miss that. I’ve been devising recipes, but … mostly for my column.

Those of you that know me, know that I don’t really do the whole cookbook thing. I much prefer picking a few ingredients that appeal to me, and making something I want to put in my face. That being said, I recently purchased Michael Symon’s 5 in 5. Mostly because he’s like a celebrity chef hero of mine, and because I could totally use it in my column.

I made the Angel Hair Pasta with Pancetta and Peas.  I subbed out my own homemade bacon, because.. it’s superior to most every food there is.

A fabulous recipe from Michael Symon's 5 in 5

A fabulous recipe from Michael Symon’s 5 in 5

I posted my recipe pic to his twitter when I was done, because it looked damn fine, right?!  Well he actually re-tweeted it. I squee’d like a fan girl. Then I wrote a review of the book for my column.. which he ALSO re-tweeted. To say that my meager traffic spiked would be an understatement.

Some of my other recipes (chicken pot pie, macaroni and cheese, and lemon meringue pie) have gone a bit viral too. Pinterest is driving tons of traffic to me, which is cool. Sites are starting to index me, which is also cool. This doesn’t feel as much like I am working for free.

Yay for small victories.

Recently I took a road trip to see an old friend. We made patatas bravas and these little sandwiches with manchego, green olive tapenade, and proscuitto on a portugese roll. Regrettably, there are no pictures of these items because we were pretty much immediately shoving it all into our faces.

Things on the horizon:

1) A podcast – knocking around this idea.

2) A cookbook – a consolidated version of my food advice, and recipes to be e-published

3) A food truck – Confluent Boyfriend and I have been knocking this idea around (pork themed)

I am excited for the future. This is gonna be good.

Posted in Cooking, deep thoughts, examiner, Food, Organic, Other People's Recipes, paid writer, Product Review, Putzing in the kitchen, Rambling | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

It’s been a busy week in the Confluent Kitchen..

HOWEVER, not because I’ve been cooking. I’ve been writing up a freaking storm though. Nothing new there. In addition to the copious amounts of writing I’ve been doing, I am the proud owner of my own personal website now. It’s a place where I can more cohesively brand myself. Yeah. I totally said that. I know. I’m sorry. 

Visit me at http://www.michelleborek.com  .. oh, so I don’t ever think I’ve mentioned my name before. I’m Michelle Borek. Pleasure to meetcha. *double finger guns*

I’ve been having moderate amounts of success in the writing arena. I think I’d like to actually give it a real go and see what happens. Hense, the cohesive branding. *winky face*

I am in the process of adding a super awesome food porn section with pictures of food I’ve made, or want to make. Stay tuned for that.

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Finishing Salts: That Thing I Wanted but Didn’t Know I Wanted

One of the real joys of receiving gifts for me is really the thought that someone puts into the idea. It’s not so much even the STUFF, but that someone thought of me enough to buy a gift with my likes and dislikes in mind.

That being said, every so often I get something really freaking great. There was no asking, “What would you like? Is this OK?” .. just a jump out on a limb, and a purchase. Someone thinking they know me enough to get me a good gift, and then being totally right about it.

Mr. Freeman, talking about you. *tip of the hat*

Imagine my surprise when I opened up a box of finishing salts. Admittedly, I’d never messed with them at all. Didn’t really think I wanted to. I opened them up and thought, “ooh.  a new toy!” .. I started to taste each one (6 in the set) in turn and realized that I know jack shit about salt. I figured with very few exceptions, salt is salt is salt. I like my kosher salt, and everything else go to hell.


Each of the salts had its own unique flavor.

Check out my article on how these salts can be utilized or get the highly abbreviated version below:


Fleur de sel

Fleur de sel. It’s airy, and has the barest hint of the ocean.

Kauai Guava Smoked Sea Salt

It’s rich smoky flavor goes well on grilled foods, soups and stews.

Maldon Sea Salt

Maldon sea salt is texturally interesting because it’s flaky. It’s great to crumble up, or leave whole to dissolve on the tongue. It’s a good everyday alternative to Kosher.

Molokai Red

Molokai Red contains alaea clay, which is rich in nutrients and minerals.. getting a little mineral with your mineral is not a bad deal. Great on meats and fish!

Sel Gris Noirmoutier

Sel Gris Noirmoutier is my favorite of the bunch so far. It’s got a rich, briny flavor and smells of ocean when you open the tin. Had it on the salmon last night. YUMMMM!

Turkish Black Pyramid

With a name like that, it doesn’t seem like it should only be a salt. It’s mixed with activated charcoal for a slight smoky, extremely salty flavor. It’s pyramid shaped which means it adds an interesting textural element.

Posted in Cooking, deep thoughts, examiner, Food, Product Review, Putzing in the kitchen, Rambling | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Confluent Birthday: Stove Top Smoker Edition

There was recently a birthday here at the Confluent Kitchen. I will give you one hint.. It was mine. See, that was a good hint, right? Right?!

I got some pretty rad gifts, one of them being a stove top smoker. I’ve been talking for ages and ages about fiddling with charcuterie more. NOW IS THE TIME!  Well.. last night was anyway.

I managed to make use of some the birthday items (or what I bought with a gift certificate) in a remarkable (for a Friday after work) meal.

I started with some fresh coho salmon. Not that frozen bullshit.

1) I patted it dry, and placed it on the smoking rack of my stove top smoker.

2) I put about a tablespoon and a half of alder in the bottom, added the drip tray, put the rack in, and put that on the stove top on medium heat.


3) When I saw the first wisp of smoke, I slid the smoker lid on and waited 20 minutes. In hindsight, it should have been 15, but I blame the instructions.

4) I de-lidded the smoker carefully – cause it was HOTTT.

5) I sprinkled the salmon lightly with a bit of Sel Gris Noirmoutier (grey salt from the island Noirmoutier off the coast of France – which was apart of a finishing salt kit that I received as a gift as well. More on that later.)

6) I then made a quick sauce with 1 tbsp dijon, 1 tbsp dill, and 1/2 cup milk. I seasoned to taste with salt and pepper.

7) I zested one lemon (thanks for my new zester, Sur La Table).. chopped some fresh dill.. and voila!



After this, I hickory smoked mushroom caps. They were a little TOO smoky for my tastes, so I won’t post the recipe until I perfect it.

All in all, a great meal, and it took about 25 minutes. Stay tuned for further stove top smoking exploits.

PS: My apartment smells of camp fire now. It’s an added benefit, provided no one thinks my apartment is on fire and calls the cops.. 🙂

Posted in Charcuterie, Cooking, Food, Putzing in the kitchen, Ready Made Items From Scratch, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Palsaik Korean BBQ – Off the wagon for the day

I saw a review for this place on the Cooking Channel, and I had high hopes when I walked in the door. I was totally not disappointed either.

Those of you who have been following my saga, I’ve been more or less a pescetarian since July. Since it’s not really an ideological thing, and more of a health thing, I’ve been great about keeping up with it, with very few exceptions. Today.. well let’s just say that I didn’t FALL off the wagon. I jumped. Right into a Korean Barbeque restaurant for a magical dish called 8 Flavors of Pork.

They marinate these 12 inch x 2 inch strips of pork belly (about 2 cm thick) in a variety of delicious spices. The favorites of the day were garlic, wine, ginseng (which I didn’t realize had a flavor) and hot. Every bite was rich, tender, and juicy. God I wish I could eat like that all the time.

Even as my belly is currently reminding me that I don’t eat meat for a reason,iregretnothing

Posted in Bad Food That Tastes Great, Comfort Food, Cooking, Restaurant Reviews | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments


I’ve been writing for Examiner.com for a month now. It’s been taking me a bit of time to find my voice. I know, here, that I have a clearly defined point of view. I didn’t really think about the challenges of trying to adapt my style to a second or third person.

I was initially focused on it from a reporting standpoint. There are periodically events, but mostly it’s just me talking about random restaurants in the area, or sharing recipes. This month they’ve been running an incentive though. There’s a flat payment for list items. (OH pay per click, I love you and hate you at the same time).   So I have been cranking them out because.. hey, I like money. 

It turns out that I am really able to be ME when I’m doing a list. It’s easier in short format.     I feel that it will be easier for me to adapt that into my longer articles now. I am starting to really enjoy this format. It allows me to act as a subject matter expert, rather than a just telling you about a restaurant or some place I went.. I can tell you about what I know. The things that I’ve done. Essentially I am making it about me and I like that.  

I’ve always been a decent written communicator, but writing is entirely different for me now because I’m not just focused on what I’m saying and whether I find it funny..  I have to be focused on my audience and whether THEY find it interesting/funny/useful. I am more focused now on adding value to my writing instead of just word vomiting the stuff in my head out on the page.

Oh, growing pains.


For those interested parties, my articles/lists/reviews/recipes can be found above. 

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Strange Bedfellows: Tofu with Hollandaise Sauce

I’ve been thinking a lot about flavor profiles, and how I can get what I want out of my food without the meat or excessive sodium. Prior to today, I’ve really been phoning it in. Slapping a piece of fish on a pan, broiling it, and doing some veg. While an altogether passable meal at most times..

I felt the artist in me dying a little. I do think of cooking as art. I take things that are otherwise unrelated and turn them into something entirely different. That something is beautiful, and also edible. Bam. Artist. See?

Anyway, so I am blogging about bacon like a whiner, and woefully lamenting my dying inner artist (which secretly I will continue to do inside forEVER when it comes to the loss of bacon) when it hits me. While I am purposely limiting the types of foods that I take in, I DON’T have to limit my creativity. I think to myself, what do you want that you haven’t had in a while that isn’t bacon?

I came up blank for a bit, but then I was like.. steak.. SHIT. Can’t have that either. I continued to ponder and thought … what about …mmmm eggs benedict.. then I thought, ‘FUCK. Canadian bacon.’  and then kept thinking how it would be total bullshit without the bacon.. however, I could work with a poached egg and some hollandaise sauce. I decided no on the poached egg, but YES on the hollandaise.

Alright now I’ve got one component of dinner now. What do I serve with it? Fish is the obvious choice for an entree but.. I gotta tell you. If I see another piece of fucking broiled fish any time soon, I’m gonna die. Literally. I’m just gonna die.

My brain continues to work on this through out the day when I should’ve been working. Finally I am settled on the tofu I picked up when I was being a good little vegetarian. Tofu sucks, for the most part. The texture is squishy, and it reminds me of egg whites in that it has no flavor. I don’t care how you marinate it, whether that shit is baked… It’s bland and texturally … yucky. I’ve got it, but now what to do with it?

I decide since I am doing hollandaise, I really need a textural contrast. I can’t have watery floppy food with my precious hollandaise. I just won’t do that. I decide I am gonna bake it.. and then I think about how hot it is outside and veto it. Pan frying it is!

I sliced and crispified several pieces of extra firm tofu. I whipped up my hollandaise..

1 lemon, juiced
4 egg yolks
1 stick butter, cubes
Salt and Pepper

Add the the lemon and yolk to a glass or metal bowl, whisk thoroughly until foamy and lighter in color. Place on top of a sauce pan with simmering water. Add the cubes of butter one or two at a time and literally beat the hell out of it so the egg doesn’t cook. Don’t switch the laundry, don’t change the song on your Ipod. Whisk. Once the butter is encorporated, your sauce will look thick and pretty. Salt and pepper  it. Pour over the tofu lovingly.

Julia Child says white pepper, btw. I say, use what you have. Clearly I’m more reliable right? 😀

So now I’ve got this amazeballs entree, but nothing to go with. I think, ‘What would be pretty but quick because this is already too much manual labor for a work day?’

Pureed Peas and Garlic.

1 small bag of frozen peas
1 clove garlic minced
Salt and Pepper
Use your previously simmering water and cook the peas until warmed through. Mince garlic. Add cooked peas, 1/4 cup cooking liquid and raw garlic to a mini prep, bullet, food processor, stick blender or whatever chopping device you use. Blend until smooth but not liquefied.

Tofu with Hollandaise Sauce and Garlic Pea Puree.

Tofu with Hollandaise Sauce and Garlic Pea Puree.



Posted in Bad Food That Tastes Great, Cooking, deep thoughts, Food, French Food, Organic, Putzing in the kitchen, Rambling, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

An Open Love Letter to Bacon

As you may have noticed, I’ve gone vegetarian for the most part. I still eat fish but the overwhelming majority of the time… no meat. I do this not because animals have faces.. or because I feel a deep, moral dilemma. It’s strictly because I feel a ton better when I don’t indulge in meat. My digestion is happier. I am happier because of this. Do I miss steak? Yes. Do I miss pork chops? Yes.  Do I miss bacon? EVERY. FREAKING. DAY.

Furthermore, since I’ve come back to blogging about vegetarian or fish dishes.. it doesn’t have the same ZING. I don’t have the same feelings about food that I used to have. I don’t enjoy putzing in the kitchen as much. Eating has become about health and necessity more than enjoyment. That is depressing. 

I was having a conversation about this with a writer friend of mine, and he suggested that I write about what I miss. While I think it’s both cathartic and masochistic at the same time..  I decided it was a good idea.

So bacon, this next one’s for you… *winky face*


I remember the first time we ever met. I was a young girl, standing next to my mother in the kitchen as she cooked Sunday breakfast. She slid something down to me and said, ‘Try this.’..  That’s when I knew bacon, that it would be you and me forever.

Over the years I’ve tried to broaden my horizons.. to know as much about you as I possibly can. I’ve had canadian bacon, cured bacon, smoked bacon, pancetta, thick cut bacon, bacon in a dessert.. 

Nothing really topped the times that I made you from scratch in my kitchen, seasoned and cured in brown sugar and maple syrup, just how I like. Your super thick cut slabs, fried until brown and crispy.. (but not too crispy because then you’re dry and crumbly and that is no bueno. I treat you better than that, baby).

Though I deeply love you, I’m sure you’ve noticed that I don’t come around lately. I don’t want you to take this personally, because.. it really is me, and not you..but our relationship has become somewhat discordant. I feel like we should part ways for a little bit, while I have a deep love and respect for you. 

Maybe in time, we can learn live harmoniously again. I hope.. I wish.

*wistful sigh*

Goodbye, old friend. 


On a more serious note, I need to do some brain storming about how to make my happy kitchen time happy again. More on this soon.

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