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Friday, October 29, 2010

Pork Chops on the grill griddle

Well, what is a BBQ guy supposed to do when he still cannot easily get to his cooker?  He can grill indoors, at least he gets to use his spice mix, gets those nice stripes on the meat and see a little smoke.  I bought some Niman Ranch pork chops, gave them a good rub with the spice rub I normally use as a base for pork butts, but with a little salt and black pepper added to complete the flavor profile.  One of the things I noticed that cause me to choose these chops was the pure bright white fat rim, this tells me these chops are fresh, always want to see a nice white layer of fat, yellowed or cracked fat is a sure sign of old meat.  Anyways, here they are resting with a bit of rub on them.
The grill pan was brought to heat, I wanted as high a heat as possible, even though these look thick, they will cook fast over direct heat. I like to bring pork to a slightly lower level of being done than normally recommended by the USDA. I feel since I am buying pork raised with good practices, I can cook it to just past medium rare.  Ideally I will get them to where there is just a barely detectable pink hint. Here they are on the grill.
And yes, I used this shot because you could see the smoke coming off the griddle.  They ran about 5 minutes a side, with a little oil on each side to aid in heat transfer and browning.  The plate, I ate one tonight, gotta watch that protein!
These were tasty, there was a detectable crunch to the outside, while the inside stayed moist and tender.  I love simple food like this, a little bit of collards and some grilled whole wheat bread and the meal was complete.  Well....not quite...


There was this little eclair, which found it's way home today from A Taste of Denmark Bakery in Oakland, CA.  This is an old bakery, once known as Neldam's Bakery, anyone who grew up in Oakland or the East Bay most likely knows of this place, it was a stalwart of birthdays and holidays for decades. It was old when I was born.  A few months ago, years of financial hardship ended with the old owner's finally having to shut down.  The landlord and head baker decided to give it a go with a different approach and this is what they are producing once again.
I am nothing if not supportive of local businesses.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Foolish Poolish

Well, as many know, I have not been cooking much due to some physical ailments, but, I have a big event coming up this weekend and I really wanted to contribute, even though my friends have told me not to cook.  I decided, since there will be a new wood fired pizza oven there, I have to cook something in it.

I prefer making bread and pizza dough with what is called a preferment (say it French style please) which can be anything from the commonly known sourdough starter to the less commonly known poolish or biga.  I have, for some years now, used a combination of the poolish, a watery flour/yeast mixture with the process of fermenting the poolish for 5 days.  While this is normally not a recommended practice, as many bakers find the yeast can die during the ferment, I really like the mild sour/yeasty flavor it lends to breads and pizzas. I find that a cold ferment also yields a superior lift and texture. Now to the foolish part.

Said poolish was started 3 days ago, it has been working along fine with a daily feeding of two teaspoons of AP flour and a little water. In and out of fridge for a couple hours per day or so. It has a nice aroma going.  I needed to feed it today and as I took it out of the fridge, I immediately noticed the lid resembled nothing more than the lid on a beer bottle just before it explodes.  I make beer, I know about fermentation.  I am a fermentation pro!  I did wrap a towel around the jar, it was incredibly hard to get the lid off, I actually had to use the jar opener.  And when the gas started escaping slowly, I put it down and walked away for 5 minutes.  Psssssssss...all is well, hissing stopped...I am good!  Go back and open lid with impunity. Am greeted with FOOOOOMPH!

And let me say, as I sit here in clean pants and shirt, with a nice clean counter and spice jar collection, the amount of poolish, although appearing to be the entire jar, was the smaller amount of poolish. There was much more on me, the counter, the floor, the cabinets and all of the fruit I just bought. Suddenly I feel a 2 gallon fermenting bucket and an airlock coming in the future.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Home made pasta for dinner

I have not forgotten that I have a blog, it is just that not getting a lot of cooking done of late.  This is good for my favorite BBQ joint, less good for my wallet.  Does this mean I will not be there for stuffed jalapenos on Saturdays, well, no it does not.  Anyways, the knee felt mediocre, so to the kitchen.  I threw together some pasta combining one egg with enough flour ( I use 50/50 all-purpose flour and semolina flour), a couple pinches of salt and a little kneading.  After a one hour rest to hydrate and rest the gluten.  It gets rolled, hand cut and allowed to dry on a rack.

I also used some jar sauce, fried it up with a little olive oil, some Lucky Dog Hawaiian Pepper hot sauce and salt and pepper to taste.  Once the pasta had tried for a couple hours, I boiled it for 3 to 4 minutes, since it was fairly random and thick pasta, the minute extra got it to al dente.  I think it needed maybe even a minute more as it turned out.

I added the pasta and a little pasta water to thicken the tomato sauce and plated. Fairly low in protein and very filling.  I ended up eating only half of what is in the photo.
A little more fresh black pepper ground on top and dinner was complete.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Yakisoba Fridge Challenge

Well, as the recovery goes along, I am finding that some days are better than others.  Last night was one of those nights that I did not feel up to getting out for some groceries, so, it was time to forage in the kitchen for something to put together.  Now, coming off of having been sick, the freezer and refrigerator are not as well stocked as normal, but, the spice rack and pantry is still there.

I found a package of ramen, a package of frozen mixed vegetables, some fresh-ish myoga and a stub of liguica (conveniently just about 2-3 ounces).  So, I decided on yakisoba, Japanese style fried noodles, which is not usually made with ramen noodles.  I also found some Japanese-style Worcestershire sauce, some Furikake and a small pack of katsuo-boshi.  This could actually work.

A small lexicon:
Myoga - A form of ginger plant, the Japanese eat the fresh shoots as well as the blossoms. It has a complex flavor with ginger overtones.
Yakisoba - Literally translates as 'fried noodles', it is more of a street food in Japan. Use a type of noodle called Chukasoba normally.
Furikake - A mix of dried seaweed, sesame seeds, chile peppers and other spices and seasonings. Typically served on rice dishes.
Katsuo-boshi - Flakes of dried bonito, resembles wood shavings, has a strong fish taste.  A staple of Japanese cuisine.
Japanese Worcestershire sauce - sweeter and milder than English Worcestershire sauce, they do not substitute for each other.


And off we go, I boiled up the ramen then allowed it to air dry for 15 minutes. This removes the moisture and makes frying the noodles go so much better.  I then took the katsuo-boshi and myoga, sliced thinly, and fried it in several tablespoons of safflower oil to season the oil, I removed the katsuo-boshi and myoga and added the vegetables to saute up until about half done (2-3 mins).  I would normally have left the Myoga in, but, it was a little woody in the center as the buds were not truly fresh.  The veggies were removed and the linguica, sliced very thinly, was added in to brown.  The sausage was removed and the noddles added back in, then the veggies and sausage were put on top.  At this point, I added a small amount of the Worcerstershire sauce over the veggies.  I allowed the noodles to brown on the bottom (perhaps 3 to4 minutes at med-high heat). I then tossed the mess, threw in 1/8 cup of water and covered to steam for a few minutes. I sprinkled the Furikake over the noodles, which adds a great seasoning to noodles, especially since I lacked the more traditional aonori flakes.

Plated on my finest disposable tableware, I would note that it is very difficult to photograph fried noodles. Somehow they just end up looking like a mess on the plate.  But, this was a simple and filling dinner which stayed within my ludicrous protein allotment.