Friday, August 28, 2009

Habanero Lemonade

My favorite drink lately has been vodka. I found an Icelandic one that I am particularly fond of. It uses natural springs and natural volcanic rock for filtering to produce a very clean and refreshing vodka. It just doesn't have that grainy taste.

I found some great peppers at the local farmer's market, including serrano, cayenne, and habanero. I added these, along with some garlic, to an empty wine bottle and vacuum sealed it. After a week, I made a simple lemon sour mix by boiling sugar and water and adding fresh lemon juice and grated rind. I thought habanero lemonade would be excellent. I tried 1/3 shot...ok, stop right here. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME! I normally eat raw jalapenos with no problem, but this had me running for the ice cubes and milk. I poured another drink in the same glass, and could still feel a singe later. The savory essence of garlic also emanates from the bottle. This would be great as a splash in a bloody mary, or as a practical joke. Otherwise, I will save this for special occasions.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Meat & Potatoes

Another way I have found works well for tougher cuts of meat is a sort of pan fry and steam method. This is the same method used to cook pot stickers. I tenderize, cube, and marinate the beef. When I am ready to cook, I sear it in the wok, then add a little liquid, usually broth, wine, or beer. I cover with a tight fitting lid and turn to low for around 7-8 minutes. This will act as a pressure cooker and give you that tender roasted meat texture.

The gratin was simply mixed, added to a dish, and baked for about an hour in a 375 degree oven.

grapeseed oil
white wine vinegar

yellow squash
yukon gold potatoes
goat cheese
malt vinegar
truffle oil

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hot tamales and they're red hot....yeah, she got 'em for sale

I love Mexican food. One of my favorite dishes is the tamale. I have always been intrigued by the myth behind this delightful pocket food. Most think that they are hard to make, and you have to spend all day in the kitchen. Also, that you have to make 1,000,000 of them. They do take some time and planning, but I have found they are another form of refrigerator velcro.

I started with the bone from the breakfast sausage I made to create a basic pork broth with the usual celery, carrots, garlic...any internet search will show the recipe. I did the same with the leftover carcasses of the chickens I smoked and a few fresh chicken pieces as well to make a chicken broth. Once these were completing, I sauteed some onions and peppers, then added my pork and chicken, respectively, to create 2 fillings.

I setup my prep station with the fillings and steamer, then grabbed my soaked corn husks. The dough was made from the recipe on the side of the package. Be sure to get the cornmeal that has been treated with lime that is best for tamales.

It didn't take long until I had a full pot of tamales.

I found myself with extra dough, so I mixed black beans with adobo powder and finished the batch in a second steamer.
Added some broth to the steaming pot, then the tamales and covered. 2 hours later, I had my very first batch.

I added a can of tomato paste to the steaming broth and reduced to form a sauce, while the tamales set on the counter. A little frisee, bibb lettuce and goat cheese brought something fresh and creamy to the party. I topped with a dressing of the following. This was definitely the best meal all month.

Blueberry vinaigrette
rice wine vinegar
sesame oil (the Mediterranean kind)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A new way to smoke

I decided to try rubbing mustard on my pork butt this time, as well as omitting the molasses until it went on the smoker. I used hickory wood chunks, which are better than chips because they do not need to be soaked since they do not burn as easily. Sometimes, I throw one right into a charcoal grill. I have found that adding charcoal to the smoker in small increments will keep the smoke constant. If this is not done regularly enough, you will need to add more charcoal at each interval, which will give an overwhelming amount of smoke. In turn, your mild smokiness will turn into a mouth full of ash.

This pork roast was only around 4-5 lbs, but I still smoked it for 11.5 hours. The chickens only needed about 4. My list of ingredients for each is below. All were applied the night before. As always, add, omit, increase, or decrease the ingredients as you see fit. Your apprehension to add too much of a new thing will probably control you to not overdo it, so feel free to experiment.

1st chicken:

chicken broth
ale beer
lime juice
onion powder

2nd chicken:
soy sauce
chicken broth
lime juice
hoisin sauce
teryaki sauce
rice wine vinegar
orange juice
dark brown sugar
hot toasted sesame oil

Pork butt:
yellow mustard
dijon mustard
sweet hot mustard
chili powder
dark brown sugar
onion powder
garlic powder

Monday, August 10, 2009

Simple, elegant

I heard a great chef say, "any trained monkey can grill a tenderloin, but taking a working cut of meat and making it tender and that's talent." Take chuck, for example. I like to begin with a blade meat tenderizer, but a fork will work as well. I then made a marinade by combining coriander, black mustard seed, minced onion, cumin, garlic, ginger, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, dill, flat leaf parsley, lime juice, and rice wine vinegar. After marinating at least a day, I seared the beef in a skillet until a nice crust formed. I placed on a rack over a dish in a 275 degree oven until the internal temperature reached 145 since my target was 150.

I received some fresh yellow heirloom tomatoes from a friend, and combined them with roasted white peppers and fresh Silver Queen corn. I muddled raw sugar with basil and added lime juice to make a dressing for the salad.

My favorite rice lately involves coconut milk and saffron. If you cook rice at least once or twice a week, a rice cooker is a great investment. I prefer the fuzzy logic ones, as they automatically sense the temperature and amount of rice to cook. Perfect every time.