"It IS all about the TASTE"
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  • Cajun Blackened Seasoning

    Two weekends ago, my wife asked me for a Cajun style Blackened Seasoning mix for a recipe she was working on. Turns out she was preparing fish tacos. I’m not a real fan of fish, unless it is catfish, breaded and fried, but these were quite exceptional. I’ll coax the fish taco recipe from her, but in the meantime here is the seasoning mix I built.

  • Lazy Pulled Pork

    I am deep in study for yet another professional certification, but I also need to eat, and I need to GREATLY reduce my junk food and salt intake. But I also want good food, not just dairy products and rabbit food, and I just do not have the hours required to accomplish all these targets.

    Perusing the local micro-mart I find that they have pork butt on sale, I may just take a page out of my father’s cook book… I’ll pull out the slow cooker and let it do all the work.

    At the lair I find I am out of BBQ Rub and BBQ Sauce. This may not turn out to be the usual slap-dash event that slow cooking has become, but I suppose I can spend a couple of hours away from my studies, and decompress in my kitchen. So I’ll include those:

    BBQ Sauce
    In my youth a good night out included dinner at the Real Pit BBQ in Harker Heights, Texas. The owner / operator made a special BBQ sauce. I remember all kinds of people trying to get the Recipe, to Include a U.S. Senator and Several Governors of the State of Texas.

    As these things go, I grew up and moved away, but did not forget that sauce. After a lot of trials and a lot of errors, I complained to my sister, that I just could not get that sauce right..

    Well seems, I have been upstaged in the Social Engineering department. My sister had gone to school with owner’s son and had actually helped them make the sauce on several occasions. The secret ingredient is… As I have said before:

    Again pit masters are a secretive about their bbq sauce recipes as they are about their rubs. The items you will see in this blog are “GENERAL IDEAS“, my own recipes were given to me by my mother, grandmother, and great grand mother… I’ll hand these down to my children at some point, IF they prove worthy.

    BBQ Rub

    Rubs are a must for any good bbq or smoke job. If you do not do this, you really are missing out on 1/2 the flavor and 1/2 the fun of BBQ or smoking. (Note: This is NOT grilling, any six idiots can burn meat over an open fire.) To weave the subtle components of meat, smoke and spice into a heavenly culinary experience takes knowledge, technique and skill.

  • Light / Straight Rye Bread

    It’s cool today, so I’m thinking a hearty beef stew or Carbonnade, and a fresh bread.

    Puttering around the kitchen / lab, I find I have almost enough bread flour, so I’ll need to lengthen it with another flour, while whole wheat jumps the front of my mind, there is a bag of rye sitting in front of it. A quick check shows, I also have a fresh bottle of caraway seeds. Sounds like a light rye loaf to me.

    Classic rye bread has various flour ratios, ranging from 25% rye to 50% rye, I’ll go with a 12.5 % rye to bread flour. (It uses all the bread flour, and i’ll not mess with my hydration ratios) Hence a “LIGHT” rye bread.

    From Wikipedia:

    Rye bread is a type of bread made with various proportions of flour from rye grain. It can be light or dark in color, depending on the type of flour used and the addition of coloring agents, and is typically denser than bread made from wheat flour. It is higher in fiber than white bread and is often darker in color and stronger in flavor.

    Pure rye bread contains only rye flour, without any wheat. German-style pumpernickel, a dark, dense, and close-textured loaf, is made from crushed or ground whole rye grains, usually without wheat flour, baked for long periods at low temperature in a covered tin. Rye and wheat flours are often used to produce a rye bread with a lighter texture, color and flavor than pumpernickel. “Light” or “dark” rye flour can be used to make rye bread; the flour is classified according to the amount of bran left in the flour after milling. Caramel or molasses for coloring and caraway seeds are often added to rye bread. In the United States, breads labeled as “rye” nearly always contain caraway unless explicitly labeled as “unseeded.”

    In Canada (especially Montreal), breads labeled as “rye” often have no seeds, whereas breads labeled as “kimmel” are usually rye with caraway seeds. Some unique rye bread recipes include ground spices such as fennel, coriander, aniseed, cardamom, or citrus peel. In addition to caramel and molasses, ingredients such as coffee, cocoa, or toasted bread crumbs are sometimes used for both color and flavor in very dark breads like pumpernickels. The addition of caraway seeds to rye bread is to counter the bloating that can be caused by the high fiber content of rye. Caraway has well-known anti-flatulence properties; however, the association is so long-standing that the flavor combination is now almost inseparable.

    A simple, all-rye bread can be made using a sourdough starter and rye meal; it will not rise as high as a wheat bread, but will be more moist with a substantially longer keeping time. Such bread is often known as “black bread” (Schwarzbrot in German, chyorniy khleb in Russian) from their darker color than wheat breads (enhanced by long baking times, creating Maillard reactions in the crumb).

    A very similar, but darker, bread, German-style pumpernickel, has an even darker color derived from toasted leftover bread and other agents. Due to the density of the bread, the yeast in the starter is used at least as much for the fermentation character in the bread itself as it is for leavening.

    I’ll cheat and use my basic bread dough / baking recipe here.

  • Pico De Gallo

    It is May 2nd, and soon Cinco De Mayo will be upon us, with lime stuffed beers, limp tortilla chips, and over salted messes of peppers in escabeche, over-the-hill onions, and underage tomatoes. I suspect, I shall hold my head under the pillow to escape the sounds of mariachi music. played at 1000 db.

    The true pity is that, Pico De Gallo should be a harbringer of spring. A crisp, clean salad with a hint of heat, promising the garden abundance to come.

    From Wikipedia:

    In Mexican cuisine, pico de gallo (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈpiko ðe ˈɣaʎo], literally beak of rooster), also called salsa fresca, is made from chopped tomato, onion, cilantro, fresh serranos (jalapeños or habaneros are used as alternatives), salt, and key lime juice. Other ingredients, such as shrimp or avocado, are also sometimes added.

    Pico de gallo can be used in much the same way as other Mexican liquid salsas, but since it contains less liquid, it can also be used as a main ingredient in dishes such as tacos and fajitas.

    The tomato-based variety is widely known as salsa picada (minced/chopped sauce). In Mexico it is sometimes called salsa mexicana (Mexican sauce). Because the colors of the red tomato, white onion, coriander and green chili are reminiscent of the colors of the Mexican flag, it is also sometimes called salsa bandera (flag sauce).

    In many regions of Mexico the term refers to any of a variety of salads (including fruit salads), salsa, or fillings made with tomato, tomatillo, avocado, orange, jícama, cucumber, papaya, or mild chilis. The ingredients are tossed in lime juice and either hot sauce or chamoy, then sprinkled with a salty chili powder.

  • Texas Red – Chili

    With the recently departed Stella, and the oncoming snow for the weekend, it is time for some serious hearty food. And for this Texas boy, that means meat, and since I live in New York, I have no time to spend hours cooking, so that means the slow cooker.

    From Wikipedia:

    Chili con carne, commonly known in American English as simply “chili”, is a spicy stew containing chili peppers, meat (usually beef), and often tomatoes and beans. Other seasonings may include garlic, onions, and cumin.

    Geographic and personal tastes involve different types of meat and ingredients. Recipes provoke disputes among aficionados, some of whom insist that the word “chili” applies only to the basic dish, without beans and tomatoes. Chili con carne is a frequent dish for cook-offs and is used as an ingredient in other dishes.

    From way back in my youth, these are the days my mother made chili, or Texas Red, no beans, no tomatoes, no mushrooms, no tofu, absolutely nothing fancy, just beef, stock, Allium, and capsicums, and perhaps some cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and other trace element style spices. (Alliums are the onion family, onion, garlic, etc, and capsicums are peppers.)

    To quote a description:

    Texas red if it walks the thin line just this side of indigestibility: damning the mouth that eats it and defying the stomach to digest it, the ingredients are hardly willing to lie in the same pot together.

    If one looks at all the legends of how chili was discovered, there is one thing in common…. ABJECT POVERTY, so the meat involved is not going to be the best, but since it will be close to the horn or the hoof, I am sure it will have flavor beyond compare, and collagen beyond believe. (And this is a good thing….)

  • Bad Wolf Surf and Turf

    IMG_4819

    It’s late summer and grilling time at my upstate lair. The local mega-mart had porterhouses on sale, plus a sale on 16-20, raw, shell on, IQF shrimp. Sounds like surf and turf to me.

    I’ll season both sides of the steak, with a steak salt, (~1.5″ thick, 1.5lb) and let it come to room temperature, whilst the shrimp are thawing. And go down to prep the grill.

    I’ll want a high direct heat for this and things will move quickly, so if you are going to do this have everything ready

    The first thing to go on is the steak, directly over the sear station, let it sit for ~2 1/2 minutes, turn 90 degrees and let it cook for another 2 1/2 minutes. After the first 5 minutes, flip the steak, and place the shrimp on the grill.

    Cook the shrimp for 2 minutes and flip, rotate the steak 90 degrees as well. (Forms those nice cross hatch grill marks), after 2 additional minutes, take the shrimp off in the order they were placed on the grill and remove the steak. (The shells will be a vibrant pink, and the flesh opaque.)

    Rest the steak for 5 minutes and serve.