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Friday, May 28, 2010

Chocolate Genoise

Cake, actually chocolate genoise with a cognac soaking syrup and chocolate buttercream. It is almost birthday time, plus I donated a dessert to an auction and I decided I should probably practice. So here is a cakelet.
They look sort of like sloppy snack cakes except that they are kinda rich for eating a whole one. Here is a sliced shot from someone's phone. Quality could be better, but, you can see that it looks just like a tiny cake. As with most genoise cakes, this one benefits from a soaking syrup, in the case of this version, I use 1/2 cup of cognac and 1/2 cup of super-fine sugar, flamed it off and brushed it onto the cakes to moisten the crumb.
It had a fine crumb and fit on a coffee saucer perfectly.

Chocolate Genoise Recipe:
3 tablespoons (42 grams) hot melted unsalted butter or clarified butter
1 teaspoon (4 grams) pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (65 grams) cake flour
1/3 cup (30 grams) unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
4 large eggs
2/3 cup (125 grams) granulated white sugar
Note:  When warming the eggs and sugar, whisk constantly to ensure the the eggs do not overheat and curdle. 

Chocolate Genoise:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C). Butter, or spray with a vegetable spray, a 9 inch (23 cm) round cake pan and then line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, combine the melted unsalted butter with the vanilla extract.  Keep this mixture warm.  If needed, re-warm for a few seconds just before using.
In a medium bowl sift together the flour and cocoa powder.  Set aside.
In a large heatproof bowl whisk

together the eggs and sugar.  Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.  Whisking constantly, heat the eggs and sugar until lukewarm to the touch (this will take approximately 5 minutes depending on the temperature of the eggs and the simmering water).  Remove from heat and transfer the egg mixture to the bowl of your electric mixer.  Beat on high speed until the egg mixture has cooled, tripled in volume, and looks like softly whipped cream.  This will take approximately 5 minutes and the batter is beaten sufficiently when the batter falls back into the bowl in a ribbon-like pattern.
Then siftabout one-third of the flour mixture over the whipped eggs and fold in using a large rubber spatula or whisk. fold in half of the remaining flour, and then fold in the rest.  Do not over mix or you will deflate the batter.  Then take about 1 cup of the batter and fold it into the hot butter mixture with a small spatula.  (This will lighten the butter mixture and make it easier to incorporate into the egg batter without deflating it.)  When completely combined, use a spatula to fold the butter mixture completely into the rest of the egg batter.  Pour the batter into your prepared pan, smoothing the top.
Bake until the cake shrinks slightly from the edges of the pan and the top springs back when lightly pressed (about 20-25 minutes). Cool on a metal rack. When the cake has cooled completely, run a small knife or spatula around the edges to release the cake.  The genoise will keep well-wrapped two days in the refrigerator or else three months frozen.

Chocolate buttercream:
Ingredients.
1 cup (220g) caster sugar
3 egg whites
300g unsalted butter, room temperature and chopped
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g dark chocolate, melted

Method.
Place the sugar and the egg whites in a heat proof bowl. Place over a pan of simmering water. The base of the bowl should not be touching the water.
Whisk until the sugar has dissolved. You can tell if the sugar is dissolved by rubbing a little of the mix between your fingers. If you can feel the sugar crystal keep whisking. Remember to scrape the sides of the bowl down.
Transfer the mix to a large mixing bowl and beat on high for approximately 10 minutes. You can stop beating when the mix is cool. Scrape down a couple of times to stop build up on the sides of the bowl. The buttercream at this stage will be thick and pure white a bit like meringue.
The mix must be cool otherwise it will melt the butter as you add it.
Add the butter one piece at a time beat until smooth between each addition. This step should take at least 6 minutes. Dont worry if the mix looks as if it may curdle, it will come together in the end.
Once the butter has been added mix through the vanilla and melted chocolate. Warning the chocolate must also be cool otherwise it will melt the buttercream and this is not something you want to happen - believe me!
Mix until well combined. Scrape the bowl down to make sure.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cross Rib Roast - Pit Beef style

I happened upon a cross rib roast from Pacific Pastures, one of my preferred beef providers here in California.  The beef is grazed and finished on organic pastures and is an excellent source of a full spectrum of nutrients and with cuts like cross rib, the amount of unhealthy fats are reduced.

I decided it was a good plan to prepare this as a pit beef style roast (based upon recommendations from the BBQ Brethren's Smokejumper).  I had already rubbed the meat with a new rub product three days ago to give it time to work on the roast.  I also put 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce and 1 tablespoon of vinegar in the bag that I stored the meat in.  The roast was then put on the kettle at 250F for three hours until it reached 130F internal.  Here is it cooked and rested.
This was then sliced into very thin slices, the central gristle line, characteristic of this cut, was removed. Here are the slices before removal. See how rare the meat is, this is step one on the way to the bread.
Once cut and prepared for the next step, I heated the juice that came out of the roast when it was in the kettle.  I also added some water at the same time as I added the roast, this formed a light jus.  I added the drippings from the roast that came out while it rested to form a hot dipping liquid.  The thin sliced beef was dipped into the hot jus until just medium.  This resulted in a moist meat filling that filled the thin buns and made the toasted buns soft and juicy.
These are the sandwiches with a home made mustard/wasabi sauce to complement the beef.  I think people often associate mustard sauces with pork and sausage, but, it complements roasted beef wonderfully and with the kick of horseradish and wasabi lent by the wasabi powder, it really adds a zing to the sauce. Here is another shot.
Once the sandwich was closed down and squished a bit, the hot jus and the mustard sauce joined to make the bread and meat come together into an incredible whole.  Next time though, giardiniera will be added.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Biscuits and Gravy

I decided today felt like a 'breakfast for dinner' night, and the breakfast of choice was biscuits and gravy, dinner style.

See the home made biscuits, quite flaky and light...

See the final plate of sausage gravy, biscuits, eggs and some veggies.  You have to have some vegetables, really, even I know that.
A satisfying dinner and there is even leftovers for another day.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Gyoza and home made Ponzu

Tonight was a non-grilling night.  Gyoza is a form of Japanese dumpling similar in concept to the more familiar pot sticker of Chinese dim sum fame.  The differences are minor actually, although the skins of gyoza are almost always thinner than a pot sticker skin.  Here is the recipe.

Gyoza Filling:
1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 lb finely minced prawns
1 cup shredded napa cabbage
1/4 cup chopped green onion, white and some green
1/4 cup finely chopped water chestnut
1/8 cup chopped shiitake mushroom
1/8 cup cilantro

Seasoning mix:
1/2 cup shoyu
3 tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon sugar

Mix all ingredients to create a medium textured filling, well incorporated but do not mash the mixture.  Here they are ready for folding.
The nest step, and the most time consuming is to fold them over, you can do the more fancy fold with pleating to make them stand on edge, we always just folded them in half, which was not the easy way, it was the manner that our family did it.  Like many food of japan, there are regional differences in how things are prepared. Here are the dumplings folded and ready for cooking.
Once they are all done, the pace quickens.  I use a large skillet that can be tightly covered, I find my wok lid fits perfectly over my 12" commercial skillet.  You place the gyoza in the preheated skillet with a nice coating of oil as necessary to brown one side. Once the side is golden brown, you pour 1/2 cup of water and lid the skillet to steam the dumplings done. Here is the final product.
For a dipping or saucing option, I go with a home made ponzu. Commercial ponzu uses the rind of the yuzu, which, as it turns out reacts badly with my system.  So, I make my own with lime juice, lime zest, rice wine vinegar, a small amount of sugar and shoyu to create a dipping sauce. I like to mash in some garlic and green onions to add some flavor.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Fried Chicken in honor of BBQ Grail

A fellow BBQ enthusiast and friend of mine recently had the opportunity to travel to Memphis for the Memphis in May BBQ Event. While there he had the opportunity to participate and cook at one of the most prestigious events in the BBQ world. He also got to eat at several famous Tennessee eateries, one of which was Gus's Family Restaurant, famous for it's fried chicken.  Upon his return I received some taunting, great photos and a report of the best fried chicken ever.  And a recipe reputed to be based upon Gus's from another source of his.

Well, this had to be tried.  It involves a soak in buttermilk, coating in highly seasoned flour and your standard frying in a cast iron skillet. Here are a few photos.

The chicken, washed and now drying. 
Next the chicken soaked in a buttermilk wash for 2-1/2 hours.  The chicken was removed and placed onto the rack to allow it to set up for about 10 minutes.  This is to primarily allow some of the buttermilk to drain.
The chicken is then dredged in a flour mixture as follows:
3 cups flour
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Once the chicken is dredged, I like to let it sit for a few minutes to cure the coating.  I believe this is key to having the coating stick to the chicken.  It makes for a less built up coating as well. Here it is curing for about 15 minutes.
The chicken is then fried in about 1/4 inch of peanut oil or other suitable oil for shallow frying.  In this case I cut the peanut oil by half using canola oil.  I have found this is just as good, does not burn and still gives a good finished product. Peanut oil is pretty costly stuff.
The finished product, plated up for serving.  As you can see the coating is not a heavy thick coating, it is thin and tight to the skin of the chicken, very much what I look for in a shallow fried, traditional fried chicken.  And the flavor was exceptional.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Brisket with Coffee Rub-Part 2

And here is the second half of the brisket adventure.  In the stall at 180F, the thermometer sending me temperature data was great.  I could work and not have to run out there all the time to check temps.
Using the Hot-n-Fast method for cooking a brisket involves using a kettle temperature of close to or above 300F to speed the cooking along.  You still follow the normal process for cooking a brisket in terms of the various stages, but, they happen faster.  The stall on this brisket started at 170F and held there briefly, no more than an hour, then climbed quickly to 200F internal temperature, this took no more than an hour itself.  I pulled at 200F and let the meat rest for 1 hour. Here are the results.
The top is the flat, sliced rather thick and yet the slices were tender and had pretty good moisture for a non-injected brisket flat.  I cut the slices close to 1/4" thick just to see how they would turn out. The point was even better, as I prefer this cut, it was tender and juicy, easily as good as any brisket I have had. And here is the plate...
Note the traditional onions and pickle.  There was sauce on the side, it was not needed.  The brisket was cooked as well as I can, it had excellent flavor and texture, I am not sure about the coffee rub, it lacked the coffee punch I had hoped for.  I may need to select a different coffee or adjust proportions.  I will do this again, that much I know.

Brisket with Zocalo Coffee Rub

 Here is the cook following up from yesterday's rub post.  Now with images.

The brisket was a choice packer brisket, not my usual grass-fed beef, as I cannot seem to get a full packer brisket from my usual sources. I see this as one of the big problems with my efforts to buy a quality cut of beef from a quality rancher. Anyway, there is the meat...
Then there was the rub, freshly ground up this morning in terms of the pepper and the coffee, this is very important to maintain the aromatic qualities of both of these ingredients.  I did forget the cocoa I was going to add, so this is going to be all about the coffee.
I took the coffee rub and used it as the first layer of my usual two layer rub system with my 'Top Rub' being used as the second layer of the two layer rub process.  Here is a shot showing the amount of rub I used. Normally I do not use such a heavy coating, but, I wanted this to be about maximizing the flavor of this experimental rub.
And onto the kettle it went, the kettle had a different setup than my usual mods, this is a test of setting up the kettle for a ring of smoke burn in which one end of the ring is lit and allowed to burn. Hopefully it will burn for 7 hours at 300F.
More to come in the next post.  I can report that is has been on the fire for 5 hours, is at 190F internal in the flat and is looking great for being done soon.

recipe:

My plan is to create a rub for use in my normal two rub process. It will most likely include some ingredients something like this.

1 cup finely ground coffee, Costa Rican
1/4 cup sweet paprika
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tablespoon chile powder
2 tablespoon dry mustard
2 tablespoons granulated garlic

This will form the first layer of rub I put onto a piece of meat. The second layer contains the black pepper, kosher salt and citrus rind of my usual top rub process. I have also been reserving some beef jus from a previous cook, that will form the basis of an injection that will probably end up in the brisket I intend to cook.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The pre-cook

Yes, a blog post with not meat pictures.  Just sitting here thinking about a new rub idea that I am about to try out.  I will call it my Zocalo Coffee Rub.  This was inspired by a recent espresso tasting trip I took with the owners, roaster and manager of the Zocalo Coffeehouse in San Leandro.  It reminded me of how incredible the actual beans of coffee can be in bringing interesting aromas and flavors to the palate.

My plan is to create a rub for use in my normal two rub process.  It will most likely include some ingredients something like this.

1 cup finely ground coffee, Costa Rican
1/4 cup sweet paprika
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tablespoon chile powder
2 tablespoon dry mustard
2 tablespoons granulated garlic

This will form the first layer of rub I put onto a piece of meat.  The second layer contains the black pepper, kosher salt and citrus rind of my usual top rub process.  I have also been reserving some beef jus from a previous cook, that will form the basis of an injection that will probably end up in the brisket I intend to cook.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sonoran Enchiladas for Cinco de Mayo

Well, here it is, Cinco de Mayo, a good time to eat some food inspired by Mexican food traditions.  In this case, the lesser know member of the enchilada family, Sonoran enchiladas, which are stacked Sonoran tortillas instead of rolled tortillas.  Sonoran corn tortillas are noted for the fact that they are a little thicker and fluffier than their better know Mexican corn tortillas. Here are the skirt steaks from Pacific Pastures.


I marinated some skirt steaks in a mixture of:
1/4 cup lime juice, fresh squeezed
1/4 cup cider vinegar
3 garlic cloves grated
1 teaspoon chile powder
1 Tablespoon Lucky Dog Hot Sauce
1 Tablespoon BBQ rub
1 teaspoon kosher salt and black pepper

I then placed the meat into a vacuum marination to aid in getting the meat marinaded in a short time, This was due to, ta daaaa, bad planning.
The meat took the marinade very nicely in two hours. The grill was fired up to almost as hot as I would have liked it.  Fortunately it did not really affect the taste and texture of the meat.  I would have liked it to cook faster and hotter and to get a little char on it.  Oh well, it looked like this.
Meat was sliced across the grain and at an angle to the board to create as much bias cut as possible, this makes the skirt steak much easier to eat, a very tender texture when cooked to a medium rare temperature. The stacking process is to dip some griddled tortillas into sauce, the place meat, then cheese, repeat as often as you want. I find 4 layers works nicely. A couple of in process shots...
Four layers finishing with a final layer of meat and cheese, then into the kettle or oven for 15 minutes to heat the whole assembly up and melt the cheese.  A little more sauce on top, some salsa cruda, sour cream and there you have it.  I added some of my families Tsunemono-style cabbage slaw.
This meal would have gone great with a nice Mexican-style lager or even a nice crisp summer cream ale.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Chicharrones

There are just few things that lend themselves to total use for food than a pig.  You know that if you follow this blog.  I recently ran across chicharrones, amazing fresh, sweet and spicy fried pig skins that are perfectly done.  If you are familiar with the sort of hard, greasy, salty versions you can buy at your local convenience store, these are not them.

Made by Chef Ryan Farr for his 4505 Meats product line, these are light, crispy and amazingly spiced. Here, take a look...
I decided I had to try them with both an adult beverage and something a little less fermented.  These were the perfect accompaniment to a pale ale that I just happened to have laying about.  They also worked very well with a apple-cranberry juice mix over ice.  I think the acidity in the juice worked well with the richness of the pork skin and spice.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Lazy Chicken and Asparagus dinner

Tongiht was the night for an easy dinner.  Lazy chicken means rather than perform some fabulous kitchen wonders, I took some thighs and some commercial rubs and tossed em together randomly until everything was one chickeny mass. Fired up the kettle to 300F (this was a bad decision) in order to allow myself to throw the meat on and get back to doing very little.
Once the kettle was running along and the chickens had sat in their spice coating for a while, onto the kettle they went. The temps in the kettle dropped to 275F and seemed to lock in there. Here they are on the kettle.
I let the chicken run at the aforementioned 275F until almost done when I sauced them with some assembled sauces from the eternal supply of sauces in the fridge.  Asparagus was added later in the cook to grill up. They turned out perfect.  The asparagus was given a light coating of oil, some kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper, fresh veggies do not need a lot of seasoning.
And there it is, some perfectly done asparagus and some perfectly cooked chicken meat with a tough covering of skin.  By running at a lower heat, I did not get the rendering and crispness I prefer on the chicken.  Had I done something like the Pickled Pig method, then the skin would have been tender. Instead, I did neither and could not bite through the skin.  Live and learn, should have put a little more thought into it. On the plus side, I did not eat all that fat under the skin.