"It IS all about the TASTE"
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  • 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.

  • Bread Dough Hydration (Baker’s Percentage)

    One of the key items in gaining a desired crust and crumb is the level of hydration in the dough. The percent of water to the amount of flour is the hydration level or the “Baker’s Percentage”.

    From Wikipedia:

    Baker’s percentage is a baker’s notation method indicating the flour-relative proportion of an ingredient used when making breads, cakes, muffins, and other pastries. It is also referred to as baker’s math, or otherwise contextually indicated by a phrase such as based on flour weight. It is sometimes called formula percentage, a phrase that refers to the sum of a set of bakers’ percentages. Baker’s percentage expresses each ingredient in parts per hundred as a ratio of the ingredient’s mass to the total flour’s mass

    For example, in a recipe that calls for 10 pounds of flour and 5 pounds of water, the corresponding baker’s percentages are 100% for the flour and 50% for the water. Because these percentages are stated with respect to the mass of flour rather than with respect to the mass of all ingredients, the total sum of these percentages always exceeds 100%.

    Flour-based recipes are more precisely conceived as baker’s percentages, and more accurately measured using mass instead of volume. The uncertainty in using volume measurements follows from the fact that flour settles in storage and therefore does not have a constant density.

    I.E. Use a SCALE!, do nothing by cups / tablespoons / pinches….

    Basing on my standard dough recipe, I.E. 500 grams of bread flour, the following can be assumed:

    Water in ml Hydration Texture Notes
    275 55% Stiff:Very firm, dry and satiny; not tacky dense crumb in breads such as bagels, pretzels
    290-325 58-62 Standard:Tacky but not sticky; supple dense closed crumb, in breads such as sandwich bread, rolls, French and other European breads
    325-400 65-80 Rustic:Wet, sticky airy crumb and large, irregular holes, in breads such as ciabatta, focaccia, pizza

    Stiff Doughs:

    Working a stiff dough requires a large amount of strength and as these are so dry, an incredibly long kneed time. I almost always use a stand mixer for this on very low, as anything else tend to burn on the motor or strip the gears. Great for very dense, chewy breads, bagels, pretzels.

    Regular Doughs:

    This dough is a pleasure to kneed, supple, silky, slightly tacky, gives us a good rise, stand up well to slashing, with a small crumb. Think Baguettes, crusty dinner rolls, loaves for sandwich.

    Wet Doughs:

    Very sticky stuff, can not be kneaded, use a stretch and fold. This will yield some of the most interesting boules, loaves, and rolls. Crispy crust, irregular crumb, greate for ciabatta, focaccia, pizza, and my favorite, crusty yeast rolls.

  • Guacamole


    Tis’ the night before Cinco De Mayo, and through the States, tomatoes, peppers, avocados, and cilantro are been beaten into a unrecognizable pulp, to be served as guacamole..

    From Wikipedia:

    Guacamole, sometimes informally referred to as “guac” in North America, is an avocado-based dip or salad first created by the Aztecs in what is now Mexico. In addition to its use in modern Mexican cuisine, it has also become part of American cuisine as a dip, condiment and salad ingredient.

    And there is the first time I can remember, that I venomently disagree, with the Wikipedia Community.

    Guacamole, is NOT a dip, Guacamole IS a salad.

    But like almost all things “Americanized”, the concept has been abused and misused to the point of no longer being recognizable as the original product. Made with chunks of avocado, minced onion, finely diced tomatoes, and just enough Jalapeño or Serrano pepper to add a spice kick. No mayonnaise, no sour cream, no stick blender and for god’s sake, no mariachi bands.

    Guasacaca is a smooth green sauce, from Venezuela, made with avocados and vinegar, with a much stronger flavor and spice kick .. (But that is another post)

  • 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.

  • It’s Spring, Prep that grill

    Warm weather, no snow, ice, rain, high winds or flying reindeer. Time to grill, crispy crusts, tender meats, and that just hot off the grill taste…….

    BUT, before we can rush out, buy large slabs of meat and apply raw fire to char and cook, we must do all the work we have ignored since it become too cold to grill.

    Namely cleaning the grill, don’t lie to me, you rushed back into the house with that last steak, roast, burger, fish fillet, and did not think about turning the grill to high for 15 minutes to burn off the grates. Not that I would cook on those grates after the winter, they must be cleaned.

    Now one can pull the grates into the house, and “MAYBE” fit them on the dish washer, otherwise you get to scrub them in the kitchen sink, or prop them against the house and use a pressure washer. NONE OF WHICH really do the job right. To dissolve the melted / backed / burned on grease, you need heat, lots of heat, more heat than your grill can generate. (Without help) No, I am not talking about getting out the propane flame thrower and setting half the town on fire, all we really need is some heavy-duty aluminum wrap, and some science.

    Background
    Grilling or broiling is a form of cooking that involves direct heat. Devices that grill are called grills. Grilling is a pervasive tradition in much of the world.

    In the United States and Canada, use of the word refers to cooking food directly over a source of dry heat, typically with the food sitting on a metal grate that leaves “grill marks.” In the UK and other Commonwealth countries this would be referred to as barbecuing, although grilling is usually faster and hotter than the American sense of the word “barbecue,” which does not necessarily imply grill marks. Grilling is usually done outdoors on charcoal grills or gas grills, a recent trend is the concept of infrared grilling. There is a great debate over the merits of charcoal or gas for use as the cooking method, Electric indoor grills have also recently become popular.
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  • Thai Noodles with Herb Pesto

    The Bad Wolf herb garden is in full swing, providing Sweet Basil, Cilantro, Rosemary and many more succulent, fragrant herbs for enjoyment. The rain and heat have done wonders for them, but not so much for my willingness to cook.

    We have a few peppers, chili and bell just beginning to bear. Young bell peppers have a mildly bitter taste that may go very well in my Asian balance for this dish.

    Some salt, some palm sugar, garlic, ginger, chili’s for a bit of heat and of course those lovely herbs for a Asian flair pesto.

    Time to do a bit of that. But I really don’t want to do too much involving heat, so perhaps Noodles or pasta as a “flavor carrier” to get that gorgeous fresh pesto into my mouth.

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