"It IS all about the TASTE"
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  • Charsiu (Cantonese Roast Pork)

    “Char siu” is a type of siu mei, Cantonese roasted meat, and literally means “fork burn/roast”, after the traditional cooking method for the dish: long strips of seasoned boneless pork are skewered with long forks and placed in a covered oven or over a fire. The meat, typically a shoulder cut of domestic pork (although in ancient times it was also used to cook wild boar or other available meats), is seasoned with a mixture of honey, five-spice powder, dark soy sauce, hoisin sauce and sherry or rice wine.

    As a means of exceptional flavor and preparation, charsiu’s applications extend far beyond pork. A wide variety of meats are cooked charsiu style. The term “charsiu” refers to meats which have been marinated in a charsiu seasoning then roasted in an oven or over a fire.

    Ingredients in marinades for charsiu are similar to those found in China (honey, five-spice, wine, soy, hoisin, etc.), except that red food coloring is often used in place of the red bean curd for convenience. (I do not use food coloring) Charsiu is used to marinate and prepare a variety of meats which can either be cooked in a conventional or convection oven, or on a standard Barbecue. Charsiu chicken is as common as charsiu pork, and beef, mountain goat, and wild boar are also often cooked charsiu style, as are many sausages and skewers.

    As charsiu grows in popularity, innovative chefs from around the world, are using various meats prepared “charsiu” style in their cuisines and culinary creations.

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  • Chile con Queso

    Lunch time, and off to find a new and different taste sensation. There is a “Mexican Resturant”, not far from my office I have been meaning to try, and had hopes that it may just fit my taste-buds today.

    Sadly, this was NOT destined to happen, seems I am back in the land of the culinaryily clueless.. I expected Chile con Queso, not pepper jack processed cheese spread, heated over in a microwave…

    The “Quesadilla Grande” should be a bit more than the aforementioned insult to peppers and cheese, with a spread of, I’ll call it “sala”, and a spoonful of black beans on a stale tortilla, microwaved until it glowed…

    And while processed cheese is just “Oil Field Trash”, in its melted state it is good stuff, the stuff of my youth. But when a restaurant serves queso, you hope for something more sophisticated. Some places serve something they call queso compuesto, or “queso and other good things”—good things could be a scoop of beans or fajita meat also added to the dip.

    While I have eaten MANY bowls of cheese spread and jalapenos poured over tortilla chips, I really have a urge to make a real Chili con Queso with real peppers and real cheese, and have it taste as good or better than the rectangular brick of cheese food.

    Once I do that, an outstanding Quesadilla is within my grasp. One can also enjoy this with tortilla chips, or one can brown up some chorizo and mix it in.

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  • Risotto

    A snowy day, and I want something hearty, but I’ve been doing so much hearty … Maybe something hearty, but not so much meat… In fact, why not try my hand a vegetarian dish. (This MAYBE vegan, but I’m not going to argue dairy at this point, It should be kosher.)

    I have a package of dried porcini, and I’ll steep them in just enough boiling water to cover for 20 minutes or until they’ve expanded. Drain them, reserving the liquid, and mince them. I’ll use the rehydrate as well, but will filter it (it may contain sand) and add it too — I’m looking for a lot of mushroom aroma, and the flesh will add that umami mouth feel/taste.

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  • Crushed Potatoes

    Since I was oven frying chicken, I wanted oven fried potatoes to go with my meal. But I really wanted crisp french fried exteriors with smooth creamy interiors. Basically I wanted french fries, but was too lazy to get out the fryer, and it makes no sense to oven fry chicken and deep fry potatoes for the same meal… So digging into the archives, I found cumin potatoes, but I’ll jazz this one up a bit.

    A nice Mediterranean twist on potatoes. The fried whole cumin seeds have a unique slightly nutty flavor. Eat with fried meat or rolled in a wheat tortilla with some chopped tomato and salad and a sprinkle of lemon juice for a vegetarian meal. Serve either hot, warm or cold.
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  • Pressure Cooker BBQ Brisket

    Ever since the trip to Atlanta was mentioned, I’ve had a yen for BBQ, but after that butt-ugly experience I’ve been a bit gun shy about going into a local BBQ shop, and I’ve really not had the time to do BBQ right in my own smoker.

    I was in the local-not-so-mega-mart, when the butcher waved to me, (we are known to exchange recipes, and tips) seems he had some small briskets, (~3lb) and he offered a decent price. Now this does seem fortuitous, (all except that 6-8 smoke job), but I had a secret weapon. PRESSURE!

    Background
    Pressure cooking is a method of cooking in a sealed vessel that does not permit air or liquids to escape below a preset pressure. Because the boiling point of water increases as the pressure increases, the pressure built up inside the cooker allows the liquid in the pot to rise to a higher temperature before boiling.

    Food to be cooked is placed in the pressure cooker, with a small amount of water. The vessel is then sealed and placed on a heat source, at a high heat until the cooker reaches full pressure, then the heat is turned down and timing the recipe begins at this point. As the internal temperature rises, the pressure also rises, until the pressure reaches the design gauge pressure. In some designs, a relief valve opens, releasing steam and preventing the pressure from rising any further. In others, the pressure regulator weight begins levitating on its nozzle, allowing excess steam to escape. The heat source is kept at about medium on most recipes as the boiling point in a pressure cooker is higher, unlike simmering in a saucepan, which is kept at the lowest heat in order to keep the water simmering gently.

    The higher temperature causes the food to cook faster; cooking times can typically be reduced by about 70 percent. For example, shredded cabbage is cooked in one minute, fresh green beans in three minutes, small to medium-sized potatoes cook in about eight minutes (depending on thickness and type), and a whole chicken takes only twenty minutes, a small brisket can be cooked to the point the collagen breaks down into gelatin in an hour.

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  • Oven Fried Chicken

    While in Atlanta, I saw something I had not seen since my time in Texas, a Fried Chicken Shop, (Not the Kentucky Type, the Southern Home Fried Type). Now I have a yen for Crisp, Crunchy, Juicy, Spicy chicken, with Gravy, and Biscuits.

    A trip down the meat isle at my local not-so-mega-mart, I found a sale on organic chicken. Why would I look at organic rather than frozen chicken…. FLAVOR! Yeah, bizarre, I know. Chicken raised properly (not in a factory farm with every imaginable chemical in their feed to “increase yield”) is rich in EFAs and is one of the most efficient, lean sources of protein available.

    FLAME-ON
    While I am on the subject of protein (Meats), while watching the Food Network last week, I saw a documentary on the “History of Butchers”, most informative, especially the “new and improved” methods of “enhancing the texture and flavor of meats.” It was enough to make me think about shopping at the Circle K Ranch, (Kosher Meats).

    Especially the processing of meats and packaging into gas tight containers that are injected with gases to lengthen the shelf life of and preserve the color of the meat.
    Note: This is done at the processing plant and then shipped to the store. Think shelf life. Frozen meat can last from 30 days to 1 year, Cold Case (Refrigerator) meats from 3-7 DAYS.

    My comment is buy locally, at retailers that have a meat cutting department. Buy organic or grass feed beef, free range chickens, wild fish. It may cost a bit more, but the taste and health benefits are well worth it. If you can not do any of this, do not buy precut meat. If you want steaks, buy a rib roast and cut them your self, if you want ground beef, grind your own. (Personally I buy small primals from a local wholesaler and butcher them myself)

    Yes, the cost is more, and yes the work is more, but these will help with the other great American problem…. Overeating.

    FLAME-OFF

    I’ll use buttermilk and some seasonings as a marinade to pump up the moisture in the chicken, and as a method to cut down on the added fats I’ll bake this rather than fry or deep fry.

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