"It IS all about the TASTE"
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  • Meatless Monday – Veggie Tempura

    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 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 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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  • Roasted Balsamic Vegetable Mix

    Just held my annual operations dinner and the menu included Smoked Prime Rib, and a roasted winter vegetable mix. As I have bored the universe to tears on how to dry age and roast rib roasts, I’ll post about the veggies. These turned out very well indeed, veggies scrubbed, trimemd and slow roasted in a 350 oven for 30 minutes with a flavored olive oil then tossed with a good balsamic vinegar and finished off in a 500 oven for a sweet, tangy crispy crust and a creamy mellow interior

    These with the addition of some basic spices and herbs, these become a side dish fit for a dinner party, or a very private dinner for two.

    The carrot (Daucus carota subsp. sativus, Etymology: Middle French carotte, from Late Latin carōta, from Greek καρότον karōton, originally from the Indo-European root ker- (horn), due to its horn-like shape) is a root vegetable, usually orange in colour, though purple, red, white, and yellow varieties exist. It has a crisp texture when fresh. The most commonly eaten part of a carrot is a taproot, although the greens are edible as well. It is a domesticated form of the wild carrot Daucus carota, native to Europe and southwestern Asia. The domestic carrot has been selectively bred for its greatly enlarged and more palatable, less woody-textured edible taproot.

    It is a biennial plant which grows a rosette of leaves in the spring and summer, while building up the stout taproot, which stores large amounts of sugars for the plant to flower in the second year. The flowering stem grows to about 1 metre (3 ft) tall, with an umbel of white flowers that produce a fruit called a mericarp by botanists, which is a type of schizocarp.

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  • Banana Bread

    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 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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  • Rib Steak Au Poivre Bourbon

    Miserable cold damp, weather, rain, wind and chill. I have many varied and sundry things to accomplish that require concentration and quiet. Given those two items I’ve decided to work from my lair today. And since I am doing that I see NO reason to eat a hamburger and fries for lunch..

    Background

    Steak au poivre (pepper steak) is a French dish that consists of a steak, (usually filet mignon), coated with loosely cracked peppercorns and then cooked. The peppercorns form a crust on the steak when cooked and provide a pungent but complementary counterpoint to the rich flavor of the high-quality beef. The peppercorn crust itself is made by placing the steak in a bed of cracked black peppercorns, and sea salt. The steak is seared in a hot skillet with a small amount of butter to cook it, at a high temperature that cooks the outside quickly and forms the crust while leaving the interior rare to medium rare. The steak is then rested for several minutes and then served.

    Often accompanied by a pan sauce consisting of reduced cognac, heavy cream, and the fond from the bottom of the pan. A classic side dish to steak au poivre would be pommes frites (small fried shoestring potatoes).

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  • Eggs in Soy

    While chatting with an associate recently, an interesting concept came to surface. The idea of taking a boiled egg and infusing it with various tastes by way of boiling / simmering / soaking in a aromatic / tasty fluid. The first thing that came to my mind is tea eggs where a hard boiled egg with a cracked shell is steeped in a warm tea bath to produce a cracked appearance and a light tea taste.

    But what if we get a bit more aggressive.. (Me!!! Aggressive??!!!, Perish the thought…) Say a garlic, soy, ginger and chili infused broth / stock..

    First we’ll need some eggs….

    Hard Boiled

    1. Place 3-6 raw eggs gently in an empty 3-4 quart sauce pan.
    2. As mentioned above, If you happen to crack the egg when placing it in the pot adding salt or vinegar to the water may help the proteins in the white coagulate faster so the cracks in the shell quickly get plugged.

    3. Add enough cold tap water to completely cover eggs with about 1 inch of water. Put on a lid.
    4. Add enough salt to make the water taste salty.
    5. This can make the eggs easy to peel because, the proteins coagulate and firm up, making the white easier to separate from the shell. Also, the less fresh the egg, the easier it will be to peel, because the high pH strengthens the membrane; this can be simulated, also, by making the cooking water more alkaline (add a half teaspoon of baking soda for each quart of water)

    6. Bring the water to the point of boiling, over high heat.
    7. As soon as the water boils, remove from heat. Leave the eggs in the hot water for ten to fifteen minutes.
    8. Do not start the timer until the water starts boiling. Too early, you will end up with soft-boiled eggs, too late, the yolks will turn a slight greenish color and begin to smell like sulfur.

    9. Chill the eggs by placing them under cold running water.
    10. Let them sit for a few minutes until completely cooled.

    11. Peel the eggs when they’re cool enough to handle.
    12. It’s easier to peel under cold running water.

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  • Lebanese Butter Cookies – Ghrybe

    Well all know I have a sweet tooth, and that I have a weakness for cookie. Cookies and milk, cookies and coffee, cookies and hot coco, cookies and bourbon, etc. The main item here being cookies…

    So one can imagine my excitement when I received a new cookie recipe from a fan. Ok, “I have a fan!!!”, and they sent me a “COOKIE RECIPE!!!!”

    Sorry, being just a bit facetious here …

    Butter cookies (or Butter biscuits), known as Brysslkex, Sablés and Danish biscuits, are unleavened cookies consisting of butter, flour and sugar. They are often categorized as a “crisp cookie” due to their texture, caused in part because of the quantity of butter and sugar. It is generally necessary to chill the dough to enable proper manipulation and handling. Butter cookies at their most basic have no flavoring, but they are often flavored with vanilla, chocolate, and coconut, and/or topped with sugar crystals. They also come in a variety of shapes such as circles, squares, ovals, rings, and pretzel-like forms, and with a variety of appearances, including marbled, checkered or plain. In some parts of the world such as European countries and North America these are often served around Christmas time.

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