"It IS all about the TASTE"
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  • Mixed Tempura

    tempura

    As I mentioned in my post about Sweet Chili Sauce, I’ve meet up with a Chef / Owner of a rather eclectic establishment, he and I seem to have similar tastes in food and are having a grand time swapping recipes / and techniques.

    One of his signature dishes is a tempura shrimp / veggie dish with a sweet chili sauce. Now, we’ve done the chili sauce, but still need to do the batter / frying. Control of gluten formation and temperature of the batter is a key item,as well as proper preparation of the Fish / Shellfish / veggies for battering / frying.

    Background

    Tempura is a classic Japanese dish of deep fried battered vegetables or seafood. A basic light batter made of cold water and wheat flour, enhancers like eggs, baking soda or baking powder, starch, oil, and/or spices may also be added.

    Specially low-gluten flours with leavening such as baking powder are available in Japanese supermarkets.

    The batter is traditionally mixed in small batches using chopsticks for only a few seconds, leaving lumps in the mixture that, along with the cold batter temperature, result in the unique fluffy and crisp tempura structure when cooked. The batter is often kept cold by adding ice, or by placing the bowl inside a larger bowl with ice in it. Over-mixing the batter will result in production of wheat gluten, which causes the flour mixture to become chewy and dough-like when fried.

    Thin slices or strips of vegetables or seafood are dipped in flour, then the batter, then briefly deep-fried in hot oil. Vegetable oil or canola oil are most common, however tempura was traditionally cooked using sesame oil. When cooking shellfish, squid, or hard-skinned watery vegetables such as bell pepper or eggplant, it is important to score the skin with a knife to prevent the ingredients from bursting during cooking. Failing to do so can lead to serious burns from splashing oil.

    Oil temperature is generally between 325 to 360 Degree F, depending on the ingredient. In order to preserve the natural flavor and texture of the ingredients, it is important not to overcook tempura. Cooking times range between a few seconds for delicate leaf vegetables, to several minutes for thick items or large kaki-age fritters.

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  • Thai Sweet Chili Sauce

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    Last night, After I had cooked, and cleaned and headed to bed, one of my associates called me. One of the local Jazz bars, (you know the ones, that open @ 8:00 P.M., people start to arrive @ 10:00 P.M., and starts to hop @ 1:00 A.M.), had a very special event that night, to include eclectic Asian music, eclectic Asian food, and a VERY ECLECTIC crowd.

    In short, I had to go and show my face. So off to the bowels of Manhattan. I really expected ok music, weak drinks, weird crowd and wretched microwave food… What I found was a most exquisite set of appetizers (think Asian flair tapas), some really nice tunes, and a very cool crowd.

    What was even MORE cool, was the chef / owner, spent a bit of time with me, and pressed me to return, one day in the coming week to “Do Food”.

    Background
    Sweet chili sauce is a popular condiment in Western and Malaysian cuisine. It is commonly made with chills and some sweetening ingredient such as fruit or a refined sugar.

    It is popular as a dip in Chinese Restaurant dishes such as prawn toast and spring rolls. It can also be purchased in bottle form, similar to other condiments.

    As a “taste” the chef shared his dipping sauce recipe where he used paprika, maple syrup, and Thai chillies combined with Chinese seasonings in a fusion recipe that is a sweet alternative to the more traditional Asian chili sauces. (Trust me he had a couple of sauces that were “5 Beers” (About what it takes to make you forget you ate that. Nothing makes it stop burning.)

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  • Banana Nut Bread

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    I have a whole bunch of banana’s that are just too ripe for anything but Banana Bread or banana malts. But let’s try to do this with a bit of style. Walnuts, raisins, maybe some grated carrot, and a tot of good bourbon..

    Background

    Banana bread (also called Banana nut bread) is a type of bread that contains mashed yellow bananas. Banana bread is usually a quick bread, a sweet, cake-like bread which typically uses baking soda as the leavening agent instead of yeast; however there are some banana bread recipes that are traditional style yeast breads.

    Banana bread first became a standard feature of American cookbooks with the popularization of baking soda and baking powder in the 1930s. The origin of the first banana bread recipe is unknown. The home baking revival of the 1960s and the simplicity of its recipe led to an explosion in banana bread’s popularity. The cookbooks of the 1960s added to its popularity because they commonly listed multiple variations of bread that added fruits and nuts.

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  • Beef and Noodle Casserole

    casserole

    Ok, so I shopped a couple of clearance sales at various kitchen outlets. I found a wonderful casserole dish. Nww I need to find a couple of wonderful casserole recipes. I can start with Mac-n-Cheese, the first dish I did in this pan, but I thing something a bit more … Savory .. I suppose would be good. My mother used to make a beef, noodle, cheese bake, that is one of my fondest memories of my youth. Maybe I can do that …

    Background

    A casserole, from the French for “saucepan,” is a large, deep pot or dish used both to cook a meal in the oven and as a dish to serve it. The word casserole is also used for the food cooked and served in such a dish.

    Casseroles originate from the ancient practice of stewing meat slowly in earthenware containers. Types of casserole include ragout, hotpot, cassoulet and carbonnade. A distinction may be made between casseroles and stews in that stews are cooked from unidirectional heat, whereas casseroling is done in an oven where heat circulates all round the cooking vessel, and cooks from omnidirectional heat.

    Braising is similar to casseroling except that the pieces of meat or vegetable are larger and cooked in a smaller quantity of liquid. Casseroles tend to be much thicker than stews.

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  • Bacon

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    In a recent post about mac n cheese, I mentioned using bacon drippings to flavor onions and garlic. This technique has lead several folk to ask me, how I cook bacon to preserve the drippings. One person who joins for weekend breakfasts on a regular basis also wanted to know how I managed to provide crispy, snappy bacon in perfectly flat strips. One guess was I used a bacon stretcher in the microwave. Another said I got the drippings during the smoking process.

    How wrong they are ..

    Background

    Bacon is a cut of meat taken from the sides, belly, or back of a pig, then cured, and smoked. Meat from other animals, such as beef, lamb, chicken, goat, or turkey, may also be cut, cured, or otherwise prepared to resemble bacon. Bacon may be eaten fried, baked, or grilled, or used as a minor ingredient to flavor dishes. Bacon is also used for barding and larding roasts, especially game birds.

    The United States have seen a rash of bacon recipes recently, with such dishes as bacon explosion, chicken fried bacon, and chocolate covered bacon. Others include candied bacon in various applications. Restaurants are organizing bacon and beer tasting nights, the New York Times reported on bacon infused with Irish whiskey used for Saint Patrick’s Day cocktails,and celebrity chefs have endorsed a “Bacon of the Month” club online.

    Commentators explain this surging interest in bacon by reference to what they deem American cultural characteristics. Sarah Hepola, on Salon.com, suggests a number of reasons, one of them that eating bacon in the modern, health-conscious world is an act of rebellion: “Loving bacon is like shoving a middle finger in the face of all that is healthy and holy while an unfiltered cigarette smolders between your lips.” She also suggests bacon is sexy (with a reference to Sarah Katherine Lewis’ book Sex and Bacon), kitsch, and funny. Hepola concludes by saying that “Bacon is American“.

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  • Ground Beef – Make your own

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    So in my Hamburger Mac post I used ground beef, this shocked several of my readers, as it is so out of character for the Rogue Chef.

    Actually it is not, Especially when I make my own..

    Why
    You know what you are getting – Commercially prepared ground beef is made of bits and scraps of various cuts of meat and discarded fat. It is one of the most problematic beef products and more prone to contamination. The meat is as lean or as larded as you want based on the base cuts you buy. It simply tastes fresher and better than the commercially prepared product and makes the best hamburgers.

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