Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A weekend of cooking

Of course memorial day is a somber holiday,
saluting those who have given their lives in wars we have been involved in,
but it also marks the beginning of Summer and outdoor grilling (where it is not raining) is a must.
While i did a significant portion of grilling and slow smoking, Hamburgers and a Korean style short rib,
there was a major request, nay an insistence that i bring my Greek inspired Tapenade.
Not cooked, not grilled and served with crusty slices of a french baguette, here is what does it:


20 oz jar of pitted Kalmata olives with half the juice, minced
6 oz of black olives, drained and minced
1 tablespoon apple Cider vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced fine
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
8 oz Tomato and basil feta, crumbles
4 oz plain feta, crumbled
1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced fine

Mix, add more olive liquid to the desired consistency
half is usually good, depending on if the feta cheese is drier or wetter.
salt to taste many times not needed
let sit in the refrigerator and serve cold with crusty bread!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Rubs and seasonings

those who eat my food, know i love rubs.
This especially true for my slow cooked smoked creations, but i also use them on a hot grilled item!

So what do you want to grill quickly?
Rib Eye Steak, Hamburger, pork chops!
For steak and hamburger, i use the same mixture:
Salt, paprika, ground dried smoked peppers (i use a mixture of jalapenos, habaneros and the long green, or red chili pepper) and black pepper.
The ratio is almost 1:1, except that i skimp slightly on the dry smoked chili mixture so not to make it too hot.
All coats the meat evenly before it goes on the grill.
A quick sear on both sides on a hot grill so the inside is just medium rare (okay i do mine rare, yes even the hamburger, but i make it with either my own beef that i ground or one from a store that they ground)
Never use pre-made patties because:
1) the patty is too thin and will overcook
2) is the source of most E coli outbreaks because they are made at the packing plant
The hamburger mixture is 85% meat-15% fat.
to get a "juice factor" you can use 80% lean-20% fat, but why?  The extra fat might cause flare-ups, never a good thing.
Now if you can get it - use grass fed, organic, Angus...i recently purchased some at a favorite store (Trader Joe's) and i am hooked, but have done well with the regular hamburger.
Hot coals (with wood, always have some wood flavor)on half the grill and the other half coolish and you want to avoid flare-ups, they ruin the flavor.
If you start to have a flare-up, move your meat to the cool side of the grill until the flame is gone.

What about those pork chops i talked about?
I use a slightly different rub, similar to all the other pork rubs, but i reduce the sugar significantly.
what i normally use ratio:
3 orange zest - eliminate for quick grilling burned orange is bitter
6 raw sugar - reduce to 2
1 garlic powder - eliminate for grilling burned garlic is bitter
6 paprika
1 1/2 annote powder
6 salt
1 1/2 dry hot pepper - use the smoked pepper mixture and increase to 3
3 ginger - fresh ginger is desirable, but dry works
2 cumin - cumin is eliminated - taste bitter burned
Pork is a bit more complex and the chops should be then so the grilling is quick!

topping always make a burger, the others stand alone.
Burger toppings:
grilled jalapenos, chard, grilling onions - i like a fresh one as well.
Ice burger lettuce, red ripe tomato...i use mayonnaise, but go with what you want.
Always, ALWAYS toast the bun - i happen to like sourdough, but that is personal.
And there you have it!
My friends want me to do burgers all the time now and i have 3 engagements for memorial weekend.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Beef short ribs

They are beef so should not be given a really sweet taste
They are a tough meat, so cooking them low and slow is necessary
They dry out, so one must cover them while cooking and it should be done in liquid, braising, as it were.
Finish off on a grill or broil!

Dry Rub ratio:
·       2 black pepper
·       2 salt
·       2 paprika
·       1/2 hot pepper
·       2 ginger

Coat the ribs with the rub and let sit for a minimum of 1 hour
Add 2 cups rose wine, cover tightly and begin cooking at 250 for 4 hours
After 4 hours, remove the liquid and begin to reduce it
add 2 tablespoon Honey,
1 teaspoon salt,
1 teaspoon dry Chipolte peppers, crushed fine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
after the sauce has reduced by 1/2,
uncover the ribs and begin to broil them for 10 minutes on the middle rack
remove as much fat as is possible from the sauce and
thicken the sauce to your liking with a flour roux
Serve with the sauce over the ribs

Capturing the heat

Or how i extract it from peppers.
My initial observations have been that the Capsaicin (8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide) is soluble in alcohols, but when washing cut hot peppers in warm to hot water, some of the component is aerosoled and can make breathing a bit difficult.
I have also noted that the chemical formula contained nitrogens and have known that if the soil where you grow your pepper plants is high in nitrogen (think compost here), the heat index of the pepper is higher.
Okay enough  of the chemistry lesson, lets just say that after 38 years as an analytical chemist, i knew what to do.
Now at this point in my life, i am labless and so can only use the tools in the kitchen everyone else can,
otherwise i would have used a Soxhlet Extraction device to do my extraction.

2 glass jars with a plastic (Teflon is best) cover - you can use plastic, but NOT metal.
Hot Peppers, chopped, not blended
Safety glasses
Graves 190 proof (95% ethanol) grain alcohol
shallow glass or ceramic bowl
coffee filters
kitchen vent fan
An apron is recommended

For all procedures you must have gloves and glasses on! 
The chopped peppers are put in a jar with enough alcohol to cover them by more than 1 inch.
The jar is shaken and let to sit in a cool dark place for 2 to 3 days, shaking the contents ever 12 or so hours.
This alcohol extract (which should be red) is placed in the refrigerator
This is filtered into the second jar and the peppers placed back in the first jar
Warm (~130 F) water is added to almost cover the peppers and shaken
This is filtered into the shallow bowl, covered with cheese cloth and left in a dark place to dry
(an oven with a pilot light is ideal)
After it is mostly dry (it should still have some liquid, usually 2 days)  The alcohol extract is added to this bowl and allowed to sit another day to dry to the desired concentration.
Place back in the seal-able jar and refrigerate for use.

note everything used should be washed in a strong soap solution and do not touch any sensitive part of the body after!  Unless you used gloves for washing also.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Grilling Cod

Am i mad you say?
Yes, very definitely!
I wanted to grill some nice cod fillets i purchased recently, but cod is not a fatty fish, what to do?
Initially i thought of a mixture of bacon and chicken fat i had in the refrigerator from previous dinners (i save this stuff you know), but i saw some lower sodium bacon i purchased by mistake one day (my sight causes problems, okay?).
And so i looked at this cod and it was irregular, this will not grill well no matter what i do, so i trimmed it and diced the pieces and put it in some jasmine rice i was cooking.
Jasmine rice i love - using a bit of sesame oil and cumin seed, roasting the rice kernels first, before adding water and green spices (usually parsley and chives).  Adding the cod pieces when i added the water was perfect.
The fire was my first fire of the year, so i had to set it twice - once to clean out the winter and the next to cook.
The Cod was spectacular!
Cod on a Grill

·       1 package of bacon
·       2 pieces of Cod, trimmed and halved
·       1/2 teaspoon salt
·       1/2 teaspoon ginger
·       juice of 1 lemon

Mix the salt, ginger and lemon juice together and slather the Cob pieces
wrap the cod completely in bacon
Grill the Cod on a coal fire (no flame) flipping the pieces every 5 minutes
allow the bacon to cook to a soft doneness, it should not crisp
some of the bacon will burn slightly when there is flame,
shut the grill top to insure  it is only slightly
place the cod in a pan and shut the grill top, keeping the temperature under 300 F for 30 minutes.
Remove and serve

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

my take of Chicken wings

Healthy - not necessarily my main thing when cooking,
but often it turns out take way.
I this case, i do not like to fry in oil in a pan.  If i had a small basket fryer, i might think differently, but i do not...
so in this case, i bake my wings:
there is one other thing to note, when i use my dried "chipolte" peppers, they are a blend of smoked peppers,
mostly jalapenos, but there are some habanero peppers and maybe a ghost pepper in the blend, all smoked and dried and blended to a fine grind and very, very dangerous.

Spicy Chicken Wings

·       1 full package of chicken wings
·       2 eggs, beaten
·       1 cup panko bread crumbs
·       1 tablespoon paprika
·       1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, ground fine
·       all the rub spices
·       Dipping sauce components

Chicken wings should be cut into pieces, drumete and wingete for use
the tips should be removed to use for stock another day.
Dry rub ratio:
Hot Honey Barbeque sauce ratio:
·       4 ginger
·       1 honey
·       2 cumin
·       1 Barbeque sauce
·       1 dry chipolte peppers, ground fine
·       1/8 chipolte pepper, ground fine
·       4 raw sugar
·       1/2 fresh cilantro, minced fine
·       1 cayenne pepper
Cooling Blue Cheese butter ratio:
·       1 salt
·       1 Blue or gorgonzola cheese
·       1 smoked salt
·       1 warm butter
·       4 paprika (smoked, hot or regular)
·       1/2 fresh parsley, minced fine

Rub and dipping are mixed well and set aside before use
Wings are coated and left in the refrigerator over night
bring to room temperature, cover with foil and bake at 300 F for 1 hour.
remove and let cool
Mix the bread crumbs and paprika and red pepper
dip each wing in the egg and then coat in bread crumbs
place on a greased cooking rack over a pan to catch any drippings
Bake at 400 F for 30 minutes
Cool and serve with dipping sauce