Saturday, June 2, 2012

Chorizo. AKA: probably my favorite meat.

Scrambled egg and chorizo breakfast burritos are easily one of my favorite homemade breakfast items.  They can be as fancy and dressed up or as plain and simple as you like depending on whatever ingredients you have on hand. (And in general, [imho] any food wrapped in a tortilla is instantly improved.) That being said, making chorizo was immediately placed on the top of my to-do list after obtaining my meat grinder.

Chorizo is a Mexican pork sausage that gets most of its flavor from several peppers, in this case pasilla(ancho), chipotle, and paprika.  Ancho, and chipotle powders can by hard to find so Charcuterie recommends drying fresh peppers and then grinding them, so I just bought pre-dried ones in the ethnic food section at Fred Meyers and ground them.  Spices in that section are so much cheaper than in the baking section.

After the long, involved process of de-stemming/seeding my peppers, I ended up with this:

At which point I was ready for the even longer process of cutting this thing:

Into little tiny pieces small enough to fit in my grinder.
It's really important when trimming meat for sausage to get as much of the sinew as possible out of the meat.  I don't seem to be very good at this.  The reason is that, when you are actually grinding the meat, all that sinew will get wrapped around the blade and will slow down the process.  You can tell this has happened when you get what is known as "smearing" on the die. When grinding is going well, the appearance should be like a bunch of individual little worms coming out of the die, exactly like ground beef in the supermarket. Kind of like this:

kind of...
But with smearing, the meat all comes out in kind of an amorphous blob. Like this:

At which point you have to stop, take the thing apart, and clean out all the gunk. Pain in the ass.

But anyway, eventually you end up with wonderful sausage yay!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Corned beef!

I never knew how good corned beef could be until this happened on my stove.  The process is somewhere between curing bacon and brining a turkey and you will absolutely not regret trying this yourself. But you may regret not trying it. Also, true story; this corned beef is responsible for Brittany getting a job.

Once again, this is a recipe from Charcuterie. One important thing you'll need before you start is a stock pot (or crock pot) big enough to hold a 5 lb beef brisket and space in your fridge to hold it.

For the corning:

1 gallon water
2 cups kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 oz (5 tsp) pink salt (This is a bit of a specialty item.  Here in town I get mine at Meadows on Mississippi.  You can also ask at the counter of a specialty meat market and sometimes they'll have some for sale. This stuff has a lot of different names but the stuff you want almost always ends with a  #1. Pink salts ending in #2 are for things like dry-cured sausage and the like.
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp pickling spice (you can find recipes for pickling spice or buy it pre-made at a lot of bulk spice stores, like Sheridan's)

One 5-pound beef brisket

Combine all the brine ingredients in your large pot. Bring to a simmer and stir until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Remove from heat, and once it has cooled to room temperature, refrigerate it until chilled. 
Plop the brisket into your brine and weight it down with a bowl or plate so that it stays submerged and leave it alone for 5 days.
I ended up having to cut my brisket in half to make it fit and as far as I can tell, this was to no ill-effect.

For the cooking:
2 Tbsp pickling spice
1 head cabbage
1 carrot
1 onion (Or 1/2 a Costco onion. Those mothers are huge)
a few potatoes (Yukon golds! Or not, but they're my favorite.)

After 5 days are up, rinse the brisket thoroughly in cool water. Toss the brine.
Throw the brisket and all of your chopped up vegetables back in the stock pot and cover it with enough water to cover everything. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 3 hours or so.  Make sure to check the water level every once in awhile and add water as necessary.

Absolutely delicious.  But really, the main reason I wanted corned beef is this:

Mmmm... corned beef hash...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My first attempt at Indian food.

On a recent trip to Costco I reintroduced myself to those wonderful TastyBite heat and eat pouches of Indian food.  If you haven't tried them and enjoy Indian food at all, you should check them out; one pouch holds about two servings (or one if you're hungry) and take 90 seconds to heat up. 
The flavor I ended up with this time around is by far my favorite:  Madras Lentils.  
After about four days of eating the stuff over fried eggs and bagels (so, so good!), and worrying about the financial drain I'd experience trying to support this habit; I decided I'd try my hand at making my own.

Madras is the name given to the general genre of curry spices used to flavor the stuff and though it is a reference to the city in India, the name actually originates in the UK.  Madras curries tend to be a little more on the spicy side and are often reddish in color due to the presence of chilies and tomatoes.  The flavors most common in these curries (according to wikipedia) are salty, sweet, sour, and toasty spices.

Having said that; the stuff I managed to make has very little in common with the store bought "madras lentils" except that it contains lentils and is curried... Still delicious though, and quite easy.  Most of my recipe came from this lady at Food Network.

My recipe went thusly:
2 cups lentils
4 cups water
1 1/4 giant large onion, diced
3 medium tomatoes, diced
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 can red beans
2 Tbsp oil
3 Tbsp hot curry powder

First step is to rinse the lentils and soak them for about half an hour so that they'll get a little mushy when you cook them.  Then rinse them and put them in a pot with the water.  Add the onion, tomato, garlic, and ginger and bring the mix to a boil.  Once it is boiling, turn the heat down to a simmer and let it roll for 30-40 minutes.  In the end you want the lentils to get a bit mushy, so at around 30 minutes, whisk the mixture to break up some of the lentils and release their nummy starches which will thicken the whole thing up.  Add the red beans now because they pretty much just have to be heated up if you use canned ones.

Next comes the kinda fun part: we get to make bagaar!  This is a fancy Indian way of saying "boil spices in hot oil." At least as far as I can tell... 
Heat up the oil in a small saucepan. Once it is hot, toss in the curry spice (refer to Aarti's recipe, linked above, if you want to mix your own curry spice) and let it foam for no more than 30 seconds and pour it all in the curry.  WATCH OUT! You've just poured hot oil into water, don't burn your face off.  Mix it up and add a bunch of salt to taste. Congratulations!

Next time I try this I think I'm going to also add a can of tomato paste to try to get closer to the store-bought stuff, but definitely not bad.  Serve it over brown rice or on it's own or however you like.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Super Money-Saver Mayo!

I decided to make tuna salad for lunch today only to find I was nearly out of mayo.  Fortunately, Brittany happened to, at that very moment, come across a recipe for it while looking up corned beef in Charcuterie. So I made some.

This stuff is almost stupidly simple. And remarkably cheap, you probably already have all the ingredients already in your house. I don't think I'll ever buy mayonnaise again.

Adapted from Charcuterie:

1 egg yolk
1 tsp water
1/2 tsp salt
1 to 2 tsp lemon juice, to taste
1 pinch white pepper (or black, white is just more aesthetic)
1 cup veggie oil
1 Tbsp white vinegar

(yields about 1 cup)

Mix the yolk, water, salt, lemon juice, and pepper in a small bowl with a whisk.
Once combined, slowly (very thin stream) add the oil while whipping.
Once the mixture starts to combine and thicken you can start adding the oil a little faster.
Once it's all blended together, mix in the vinegar. This wasn't in the original recipe, but mine came originally came out tasting a bit strongly of the veggie oil so I read the jar of Best Foods and saw vinegar on there so I tossed some in. Perfect! Tasted just like the store-bought stuff!
Add more lemon juice and really pretty much any other seasoning you like (garlic, chipotle, etc.) to taste.
If it comes out too thick, whip in a little more water.

Done! The hardest part is all the whipping.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Mmm... Bagel sandwich...

Not a recipe this time, just a picture of yummy food.

Over-easy egg, cheese, avocado and a mix of homemade sausage and leftover Costco rotisserie chicken on a sesame bagel. Delightful.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Hawaiian Treat! Boots and Kimo's Banana-Mac pancakes

Once again, this is one of my favorite recipes.  I first experienced these incredible pancakes while on Oahu for a friend's wedding. One morning we drove to Kailua because he insisted there isn't really any point in going to Hawaii without making a stop at Boots and Kimo's.  This place really made me feel at home; it was the only place I saw on the island where people were queued around the block before the place was open.  Truly cured any home-sickness I may have had for Screen Door or Jam.

What they look like at Boots and Kimo's.

I don't remember the pancakes themselves being anything special, though I'm sure they were... It's the magical vanilla cream sauce that makes this dish.

1 cup Whole milk
1/3 cup Sugar (or 3 Tbsp honey)
2 Tbsp Butter
1 tsp Vanilla
2 Tbsp Flour
A pinch of Salt

Mix and boil for three minutes, cool for five.  Stir constantly to avoid burning milk to the bottom of the pan.  Careful not to cook too long or the stuff will get thick and custard-y (as happened to mine this time around).

Amazingly simple, and remarkable how so few ingredients can yield such an insanely good flavor.

Really, it doesn't matter what pancake recipe you use, I used Krusteez because that's what I had laying around and I was lazy.  The important thing is to make them into Banana pancakes by throwing some sliced-up banana into the mix.

Now it's just a matter of plating the pancakes with a healthy drizzle of sauce and top with a handful of chopped macadamia nuts.  Definitely a rich breakfast and not something you're going to eat every day, but if I'd thought ahead, I would have posted this a week ago and given you fellows a leg up for V-Day breakfast.  Oh well. Enjoy.

What mine look like (better I think)

Monday, February 13, 2012

All of the best things, all in one place; bacon-cheddar-chive biscuits

Seriously, this is one of my all-time favorite recipes.  I first experienced this flavor trifecta way back in the good-ol' days of heading to the Bakery Bar after crew practice (2007ish; back when there was still a Bakery Bar down on Water Ave.).  Now they only exist on NE Glisan somewhere and I've never been there.  Definitely go there though, they make amazing cakes as well as pretty much any other sort of baked happiness.

Let's get started:

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup cold butter
3 eggs
1/2 cup half-and-half  (I used 1% this time around)
2 cups sharp cheddar, shredded
4 slices bacon, crispy, chopped (sadly I used store-bought this time because I've been lazy lately and
   haven't cured any recently)
1 Tbsp fresh chives, chopped (I pretty much always use green onions. whatever.)

Preheat oven to 425 deg.
This is usually when I chop and crisp my bacon.  Someday I will be thrilled to use my own bacon for this recipe, I just didn't plan enough ahead this time.
Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.  I also just now remembered that I think I usually mix in a couple solid dashes of pepper just for good measure, but I totally forgot this time.  Oh well, definitely worth trying.
Cut in butter with a pastry cutter or two knives until it resembles coarse crumbs.
Beat together two eggs and cream until blended, add to dry mixture and stir until the mix is just moistened.
Stir in the cheese, bacon, and green onion; form into a ball. 
Knead the dough ten or so time.  It's important to not overwork the dough because you don't want the butter to melt and blend in with the mixture; it's those tiny chunks of sold butter that give biscuits their wonderful crumb texture once they are baked.
Roll out the dough on a heavily floured surface (and flour your hands, this stuff gets sticky) to about 1/2 inch thick and either cut with biscuit cutter or cut into triangles. Or I suppose you could just free-form them if you're feeling particularly adventurous.
Place on a lightly greased (or parchment-lined) baking sheet.
Beat the remaining egg with a splash of water and brush over biscuits (egg-washes are magic, and give baked things an amazing color/texture).  If you don't have a pastry brush; just smear it with your fingers, that's what I did for the first two or three years I made these.
Bake 14-16 minutes until they are lightly browned.