Wednesday, April 30, 2014

BBQ a primer

there is no such thing as "the perfect BBQ", it simply does not exist because every person, every region of the country has "THEIR" perfect version.  It varied by state and sometimes within a state (North/South or East/West)
Most require smoke, but there is a general formula...
Rubs differ for each kind of meat and even different portions of meat, but all are applied before you even get a fire started and are at the very least let sit on the meat for 8 hours, 24 is better.
Wet glazes or injections are added just before putting it on a fire (some glazes are added after the meat has cook a while).
My rubs vary with a Brisket and other beef meat rubs being heavy on black pepper, salt, paprika and only a little sugar.
Chicken i like more sweet, heat from hot pepper (not black), ginger and cumin.  Depending on the wet sauce, i will add orange zest (dried).
pork will add still more sugar, definitely orange zest and still more heat and there is a difference if i do a pernil vs regular pork butt or rib
fish in tricky (mostly salmon) because i do not BBQ it. i grill it quickly and get a good smoke flavor, but it is soaked in an acidic(orange juice) wet marinade which is sweet (with pure maple syrup), hot (dry chipolte peppers) and salty.

My best Mac and cheese

Recently told by my restaurateur friend that i need to go back to work so i would not have so much time on my hands because he had no resistance to this preparation of mac and cheese and he would gain weight if i kept feeding him such delectable eats...

Mac and cheese
Joe's best

·       2 pounds elbow macaroni
·       2 pounds shredded cheese blend
-        sharp and mild cheddar and mozzarella cheese
·       2 cups half and half
·       1 cup sour cream
·       1/2 sweet red pepper, diced
·       1 hot long green chili pepper, diced
·       1/2 pound pancetta
·       1 teaspoon salt
·       1/2 onion diced fine
·       1/24 pound mozzarella cheese, slice thin
·       1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
·       1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

crisp the pancetta and remove from the pan
boil salted water for the macaroni and cook the elbows for 5 minutes for less than al dente pasta
sweat the onions and the red peppers in the fat from the pancetta
and remove from the pan
heat the half and half, sour cream, nutmeg and salt together to a simmer
drain the pasta, place in a baking dish and add in order:
          the half and half mixture
          the onion and red pepper mixture
          the shredded cheese mixture
Mix well and allow to sit for 5 minutes
If macaroni is dry, add more half and half.
The mixture should have too much liquid
top with panko bread crumbs, pancetta and the green peppers and bake for 10 minutes at 350

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The spice in my life

I was away from my normal kitchen for a bit and there were few spices.
there were some fresh ones outdoors, but i found my self needing certain ones to make my life better when cooking...
chives - seem to be a must have for me,
also garlic
and black pepper.
Hot peppers of any variety
and olive oil.
I could work with anything else, but those were essential for me to start with.They did not need to be in every dish (for instance, i did not want to mix garlic with honey in my last lamb preparation).

So the question becomes what are the spices and flavors you can not live with out?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

That orange extract

Here are the 4 extracts of orange that the chemist in me had to go for.
left to right
1 - a sugar extract - prepared using a finely chopped "wet" zest added to granulated white sugar so it dried in the sugar.
      the flavor is complete with bright specs of super brightness in the actual zest pieces.
2 - air dried zest.  This is my main preserved zest and lasts for about 6 months in a sealed dry container.
      adding this to any preparation (savory or sweet) provide bright specs of flavor for the tongue.
3 - alcohol extract - adding 95% ethanol (190 proof grain alcohol) to finely chopped "wet" zest and let it sit.
      this has all of the sharp flavors of the orange because both the water and alcohol soluble portions of the         zest is brought into the liquid.
4 - oil extract - warm walnut oil (no flavor) was added to the zest and then let sit for 2 weeks and then strained.
     The orange notes are subtle and not sharp, but in that permeate the taste buds as an oil would

On a different note - an extraction of Capsicum from a variety of very hot peppers.
Although it is an oil, there is solubility in alcohol and warm water.

Friday, April 18, 2014

something different with lamb

The lamb i cook is from my Greek side, but it includes mint and oregano and that seems to be an unusual combination from other Greeks i have talked to, however, this is not about a Greek way, it is about something different.
I was speaking (or rather messaging) my cousin in France and asking what the tradition for Easter was with her and it was lamb.
Okay so lamb in both the cultures in my background make sense, i do not remember anything else.
Then mu cousin told me it was made with rosemary and olive oil and honey and i began salivating immediately.
The rosemary lamb i have tasted has been in the English tradition and frankly, was not good.
I also have had a huge issue with whole rosemary in dishes as they totally over power a dish.
Fortunately, at a place were i visit often, rosemary basically grows wild and i have learned to tame it.
Maundy Thursday is a lamb tradition in my house also, but with chops, not the whole leg.

Lamb with rosemary, lemon and honey

·       6 loin lamb chops
·       1/2 cup lemon juice
·       2 teaspoons of rosemary, finely minced
·       2 tablespoons honey
·       1/2 teaspoon salt
·       olive oil to coat a small 9" x 9" baking pan

coat a baking  pan with olive oil
place the lamb chops in the pan and drizzle the lemon juice on each
mix the salt a rosemary and sprinkle evenly on each chop
turn over the chops and repeat.
turn the chops over again and let sit in the refrigerator for 2 hours
drizzle the honey on top of each and let sit another hour
pre heat over to 400 F and cook the chops for 15 minutes
turn on the broiler and broil until the tops begin to crisp
          (5 minutes in my oven, but it varies)
turn the chops over and crisp the other side the same way
serve with the left over juice or make a gravy with it.