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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

No Camera

GAH!  Tonight was a riff on carnitas made with beef, it was beautiful, and I wanted to make my back from vacation post with it. But, NOOOO, I can't find my camera bag, this is not good.  It means that most likely my camera bag is in Humboldt County and at the mercy of my nephews.  If I thought my 5 year old nephew knew the meaning of mercy, I would not be worried.  He does not, I am worried.

The beef was a marinated chuck roast slowly cooked in a dutch oven until pulling tender, there were fancy tortillas and fresh cut salsa, but, none of it matters now.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Steak night

It's Friday so it must be steak night.  A Naturewell Ribeye done very, very, hot and fast over Jack Daniels oak and briquettes, some sauteed spinach and steamed short grained brown rice.

 The steak was rubbed with my medium grained rub that I am starting to refer to as a 'Top Rub' as I use it on almost all of the BBQ meats that I now cook.  It has become a finishing spice for many meats that I grill as well.  I borrowed the concept from a fellow Brethren who calls his rub Dirty Dalamation.  When I prepare a meat for putting on the smoker, I will use a low salt or no salt rub that contains the sugars, chile powders and herbs that I intend to flavor with.  Then I apply a light to medium later of this run as the 'Top Rub' about 1/2 hour prior to cooking.

And the whole mess was accompanied by a glass of root beer ale, a homebrew from late last year that is now gone.

Top Rub Recipe:  In parts.
2 parts Kosher Salt (I really like Redmond Real Kosher Salt)
4 parts medium grind black pepper, no powder or fines.
1 part granulated garlic
1 part dried orange peel (or if making fresh, use orange zest)

Mix and apply. I prefer a light to medium coating on most large cuts of meat and definitely a light coat on ribs, cutlets and steaks.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Leftover Chocolate...Mousse!

I had some leftover chocolate from the charity truffles. And then there was the cream, whipping cream I found in the 'fridge, about to go bad. I decided a nice chocolate mousse was in order.  So here we go.

Chocolate was melted over the double boiler and then allowed to cool to luke warm temperature.

 Then the whipping cream wa whipped to stiff peaks, my preference as I am indelicate at folding.  Here it is waiting for a little sweet company.

 All that is left is to add a little of the whipped cream to the chocolate, then add that lightened chocolate to the whipped cream, fold gently, or not, until barely combined.  A few white streaks are acceptable to me.


And then off to the refrigerator to cool and smooth out.  It looks good at this point. And it eats good too.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Brewing Again

Finally was able to brew again, it has been almost 8 months and my beer pantry is already dry.  I did a simple batch of Honey Pale Ale from extract with some honey malt for steeping. Nothing fancy, but, it is a start.

Here are the ingredients...

Ultralight liquid malt extract, dried malt extract and 3 lbs of local honey.
 Then there is the grain, in this case some crushed honey malt.
And finally there were two additions of Glacier hop pellets. This is the first of two additions.

The last photo is of a hop bine just beginning to sprout from a cutting I received from the USDA for a little experiment I was hoping to perform this year, unfortunately, I was not able to get the wild female hop that I needed for the crossing. 

My plan was to back cross known hop plants to a wild hop with the idea of looking for a more compact backyard scale hop plant.  It is USDA 60023 accession, a male hop.  The search continues...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Kettle Modifications

One of the things I am always looking at is how I can make my Weber Kettle even more versatile than it is straight from the box.  I consider the kettle to be one of the best outdoor cooking implements for the budding outdoor cooker who wants to become a serious outdoor cook.  But, as you move forward, there are some things that I think can make the kettle work better.  Here is my current modification in process for making my kettle work more like an upright smoker and to give me more grate space than the traditional offset coal bed setup. I got this idea from a fellow BBQ Brethren called Woodreaux, who inspired this modification.

First, I wanted to create a larger area for charcoal, to extend my cooking times from an average of 4 hours to closer to 6 or even 8 hours. Woodreaux's method is to put the coals in the bottom of the kettle.  I like the idea, but, wanted better air circulation so I got a charcoal grate from a Smokey Joe and placed it on the One-touch vanes like this.
This keeps the charcoals off of the bottom of the kettles while still allowing the vents to work as designed.  I plan a couple of modifications to this setup in the form of getting the grate off of the vanes.  I have a plan for achieving this goal.  After this, I need a method for buffering the heat from being directly on the meat above.  I also want a baffle to push the heat out from the center of the kettle and out to the edges of the kettle in an even manner.  I decided to use the original 22.5" kettle charcoal grate and added an cast iron pan as shown.
I am going to eventually find an old cast iron skillet that I can saw off the handle and get it a little closer to the edges. But, this thing actually works just fine.  I get easily moderated temperatures in the 250F to 285F range with small vent changes.  The temps take a while to happen, but, this is what I want, slow steady temperatures that will lock in for long periods of time. The cooking grate goes over this and the meat is cooked as normal for a smoker run.
Here is the result of 45 minutes on the cooker, I glazed and was going to let it run for another 20 minutes.  At this point, the cooker has been at 270F for 1 hour, it will finish this cook at 270F.  Here they are pulled off, very juicy, flavorful with a light smoke flavor, exactly what I look for.  I used the same setup recently for baby back ribs, the kettle ran at 225F for four hours with no noticeable variation in temperature.  Here is dinner.
So, what's next?  I want to make a charcoal grate for the lower rack arrangement, which will hold more charcoal and allow for a very efficient minion burn, I will also modify the grate to not sit on the One-touch vent leaves.  I also want to explore a means to get at the charcoal basket for stirring or knocking the ash out.  Stay tuned for this...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Truffles, not BBQ

I made truffles...chocolate truffles...with cognac...see?  They were made with a mix of Guittard couverture and chips, and some of thier single origin chocolates for coating.  The other ingredients were heavy cream and VSOP cognac, it is a very simple if messy affair. Here are the ingredients.

The chocolate for the filling is slowly melted by the hot cream/cognac mixture.  This time I flamed the cognac to remove some of the alcohol, this does affect the flavor and sensation of the cognac.  Although I find the flavor to be more subtle, it is still a very good chocolate ganche.  I prefer the ganache for truffle centers to the more traditional and firm butter and cream type filling.

I also dip the center, as opposed to the more traditional and nomenclature proper use of cocoa powder, which simulates the apperance of a true truffle much more accurately.  I like the extra punch of being able to coat the truffles with the single origin chocolates from Guittard. Here is the dipping station and some of the centers.  I cannot seem to do this neatly.
Here are the completed truffles, both in the roughly rolled form (traditional) and a cut form to make tiny little towers, just an experiment to see how it worked.  I do like the odd geometry of the cut truffles.
 
 
Simple Ganache Recipe for truffle centers

2 pounds chocolate, couverture is best, 68% is acceptable
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup cognac, or other liquor (optional)

1.  Chop chocolate into pieces no larger than 1/2" in size. Larger is workable, but, makes everything a little slower.
2.  Heat heavy cream to just short of a boil, do not burn. Add liquor if desired.
3.  Add hot cream mixture to chocolate in a metal bowl, stir to combine and start melting of chocolate.
4.  Stir until ganache forms, it should appear silky and slightly thickened.
5.  Pour into a pan or similar shallow vessel.
6.  Allow to cool to room temperature, you can place in cooler or refrigerator to speed process.
7.  Using a small disher or melom baller, form rough balls. They do not need to be perfect as a rougher surface resembles a truffle.
8.  You can use a pastry bag to fill molds or pipe shapes.
9.  Dusting with cocoa is the easiest way to finish truffles.

Since I like a very soft center, I add a little more liquid, up to another 1/4 cup of heavy cream to make the ganache softer, which makes it harder to work with, but, so soft and melting when eaten.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Phat Matt's or Taunting BBQ Grail


Well, as I mentioned in a previous post, Larry of the BBQ Grail blog and mini-webmpire and I happened onto Phat Matt's a short time ago and had an excellent lunch. During that time, two things were mentioned, one of which was sampled.  One was that they feature a weekly special and the other was the peach cobbler.  Well, I had to go back, as the sample of the cobbler was addictive.

The cobbler is an interesting riff on the old peaches on biscuits cobbler in that it also offers a crunchy topping over the peaches and dougn, just enough of an additional texture to really make it sing.  This photo does not do the flavor justice.
 
And the bacon-wrapped pork loin, with an excellent tender texture and perfect flavoring.  I like the idea of a weekly special and this sandwich was terrific. Further, there was plenty of meat for a very reasonable price. As you can see, there is plenty of meat on a simple bun. Nothing fancy, as BBQ sandwiches should require nothing fancy, it is all about the meat, and there was plenty of that.
 
BBQ Grail, you were missed, although the food salved that just fine.  Phat Matt's says hi.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010