Sunday, August 21, 2011

Chuck steak so good we call it "Charles"

I could not find exactly the right picture. The above is, I believe, a New York strip

Here we have a 7-bone chuck roast. I've cooked these many times. They are delicious but take a while.

What we have here looks for all the world like a pot roast.

If you go to your supermarket you will find cuts of beef labeled in so many ways that you truly will have no idea what it is they are trying to sell you. It takes some experience to have a look at a hunk of beef and have an idea what you should do with it. I do not have that type of experience, but I have a reasonable track record in terms of my guesswork. The best thing that has happened to me recently was when Chris of nibblemethis began teaching us about the reverse sear technique for beef or, I suspect, lamb or pork (maybe even poultry). The method is simple. Instead of putting on a serious sear at the beginning of the cooking process, you start very slow, get things up to a certain target temperature, then remove the meat from the pan (or grill) and crank the heat way way up, get some good color and an appropriate temp on the stuff. I've done this half a dozen times and it has worked flawlessly.
So now I find myself with a so-called boneless chuck steak. It looks pretty well marbled. I bought it a few days ago for an excellent price. Then I gave it a rub of black pepper, somethng called menudo mix (I would never have gone out to buy this, just happened to have it), and onion and garlic powders. I'm not cooking it until tomorrow and will wait to add salt.
For the reverse sear for beef, I insert my electronic temp probe and put the meat into a mix of olive oil and melted butter over low heat. Initial target temp is 100 degrees (turning it once). Then I set it aside and bring the heat uner the pan way up - maybe to 3/4 of maximum. Back in with the steak with a final target temp of 125. Turn the meat at 115. Don't fool around with this. When you see 125 degrees get that meat onto a platter and tent it with foil. Do whatever else you need to do to finalize dinner prep. If you get this right, you will go and rejoin your church next week. We served our steak with some braised kale from the farmers market and a couple of ears of corn dressed only with butter and salt.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Pad Thai - sort of

I'm not sure we started out intending to make pad Thai. What we ended up with though was very pad Thai-ish. I found another of the pork loin top loin roasts yesterday. Sounds like something that needs a long cooking time. However, yours truly brines like a fool. 3 hours for this - and then I cut it into 4 pieces that looked a lot like 1 inch thick pork chops. In the meantime Peter made a very mild-flavored peanut sauce and cooked 2 packages of ramen noodles (without the flavor packets). After cooking my "chops" I let them rest for a few minutes and then sliced them thin. We put all this together in a big bowl, garnished it with some cilantro and chopped scallions. It was lovely. I can't give you a recipe any more precise than this, but you can Google pad Thai and spend the rest of your life making it. Based on this, and on past experience, I would suggest that many recipes call for too much peanut. Many of them include peanuts as a garnish. We like a sauce with some peanut butter in it. I gotta tell you though that this particular cut of pork (after brining) turns out some fine hunks o' meat.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Heat 'week' will probably be heat 'day' - today!

Shrimp - did you guess it right away?

Poblano - maybe not so obvious as the shrimp.

Jalapenos - let me guess, you've never seen these before?

This is not exactly the way my recipe looked. But then those yearbook photos of you weren't exactly right on the mark either.

Here another of my "not" recipes. We're making chiles rellenos like your mama never made 'em.

Let me just describe the end result: poached shrimp stuffed into blanched jalapenos (seeds carefully removed); the jalapenos are then stuffed into blanched poblano peppers (again with seeds carefully removed - we want to maintain the structural integrity of the peppers). Some grated cheese goes in there too and then the whole thing is baked at 350 until hot and bubbly covered with a large can of tomatoes (which I nearly didn't remember to include). Garnish with lime wedges and cilantro, chopped onion and Mexican oregano. Use as much salt and pepper as you like, use chili powder, use any stuff you can think of that you would like.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Heat week is on hold - Nothing's wrong - I'm fine.

Many of you have been so kind as to express concern. There is nothing wrong that a bit more time will not take care of. Truth be told, I'm publishing my first book, prepping a second one for publishing and finishing writing a third one. Titles: "The Anger Management Cookbook," "The Kinder, Gentler Cookbook," and "Spam a lot, Velveeta a leetle, and other food oddities."

I am reading your posts each morning and commenting briefly when I have something worth saying (which is not always). I adore you all and I'm having an exhilarating time getting my own material out into the ether. (Are any of you old enough to remember when ether was the anesthesia you got when you had your tonsils out? They'd tell you to count backwards from 100. I recall getting to 97.)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Egg week - day 5 (egg drop soup)

This egg theme could easily go on for another week. I still have scads of things I could share. I will save them for another time.
In spite of there being a plethora of things to do with eggs, one of my epiphanies was learning how to make the perfect egg drop soup. And, honey, I'm talkin' the perfect soup here. The broth is gentle yet savory, the scallions are in prime shape to contribute their special qualities, and, most important, the egg is perfectly incorporated. Not even Mao himself could have done this any better.
You need to make some dashi broth, which these days is most easily accomplished with dashi “tea bags”. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Drop in 2 dashi tea bags, cover and allow to steep for 10 minutes. Remove and discard the bags. Stir in a scant Tbs of miso paste until dissolved and you've got a delicate base for your soup.
Have available 2 large eggs well beaten with two Tbs water in them. Also have ½ cup thawed frozen peas, and 2 finely chopped scallions. Bring the soup back to a simmer. Once again remove from the heat. Take a fork and stir the soup in one direction to create an eddy. Slowly pour the eggs through the tines of the fork, not in the center but toward the outer edge where there is a fair amount of movement of the liquid. Immediately add the peas and scallions and serve at once. A few squirts of lemon juice would not be a bad idea. Not essential. If you get this technique down you will understand why this is often call egg "flower" soup.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Egg week - day 4 (Real man's quiche)

What a magnificent quiche! I started with a couple of different recipes and then made the one below, which I consider my own. I don't know men who are not fags who actually make quiche. I'm sure there are some. If you are straight and you make quiche for Sunday brunch, you might want to consult a shrink (or your clergyman). Oh, come on, it's a joke.
Have all ingredients at room temperature.

4 eggs

1 cup heavy cream
2 scallions, chopped

3/4 cup grated cheese (I used jack and parmesan combined)

1/8 cup roasted red pepper, chopped

½ cup ham, diced

1 piece Pillsbury pie crust dough

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (375 for a non-glass pie plate).

Whisk one egg lightly with a tablespoon of water.

Place the dough in the pie plate and flute the edges.

Place a disk of foil on the bottom and put in pie weights, either beans or regular marble-shaped pie weights. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove the pie weights and the foil. Apply an egg wash with the egg you whisked. Return the crust to the oven for 5 more minutes. When it comes out it might have puffed up in the center. Prick it with a fork and then add egg wash to seal the holes. Allow the crust to cool nearly to room temperature.

Meanwhile make your filling. In a large bowl whisk together the remaining egg wash and the rest of the eggs. Whisk in the cream. Stir in the cheese, red pepper, scallions, ½ tsp salt and a good grind of fresh black pepper.

When the crust is cool, put the ham in the bottom and then pour the filling into it. Place a ring of foil over the edges of the crust and crimp lightly. Bake for 25-35 minutes, removing the quiche from the oven when the top is set and lightly browned. Allow to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Egg week - day 3 (herb-baked eggs)

What I must do here is give Ina Garten her due. This started as essentially her recipe, although my notes say “adapted from”. It doesn't matter, does it Ina? Between the two of us we have a very special breakfast or brunch dish. I think I could manage 6 of these at one time, but I cook for two nearly all the time. Ergo, here's a recipe for two. Serve this with toast or, if you are ambitious, make some biscuits.
Herbed-baked eggs
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh garlic 1/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves 1/4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan 6 extra-large eggs 2 tablespoons heavy cream 1 tablespoon unsalted butter Kosher salt Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the broiler for 5 minutes and place the oven rack 6 inches below the heat.
Combine the garlic, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and Parmesan and set aside. Carefully crack 3 eggs into each of 2 small bowls or teacups (you won't be baking them in these) without breaking the yolks. (It's very important to have all the eggs ready to go before you start cooking.)
Place 2 individual gratin dishes on a baking sheet. Place 1 tablespoon of cream and 1/2 tablespoon of butter in each dish and place under the broiler for about 3 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Quickly, but carefully, pour 3 eggs into each gratin dish and sprinkle evenly with the herb mixture, and then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Place back under the broiler for 5 to 6 minutes, until the whites of the eggs are almost cooked. (Rotate the baking sheet once if they aren't cooking evenly.) The eggs will continue to cook after you take them out of the oven. Allow to set for 60 seconds and serve

Monday, August 1, 2011

Egg week - day 2 - scramble your eggs

This will initially seem so prosaic: scrambled eggs. However, I have a way of making them that brings a unique texture to the result. I will add some cheese near the end. This is naturally entirely at your discretion.
For two portions you can use 4 or 6 eggs, just depends on how hungry you are. The method is the same no matter how many eggs you use.
Instead of whisking the eggs all together in a bowl, break them one by one in melted butter in a non-stick pan over low/medium heat. Use a fork or a whisk to break them up but not mix them together. Season them with salt and pepper, paprika if you wish, and dried tarragon if you wish. As the eggs set on the bottom, gently stir/turn them with your fork, or better yet a spatula. When they are nearly set get them out of the pan and stir in some cheese (again optional).
What I like about doing them this way is you get the mouth feel of both the white and the yolk. I've never known anyone else to make scrambled eggs this way, but it's my method – take it or leave.

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