"It IS all about the TASTE"
RSS icon Home icon
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Chicken Schwarma

    IMG_2405

    I’ve been on a mid-east kick lately. So how do I make it exciting, tasty, appetizing, Maybe a Shawarma… Slow cooked, juicy, flavorful, and not the expected..

    Shawarma is a Middle Eastern Arabic-style sandwich usually composed of shaved lamb, goat, chicken, turkey, beef, or a mixture of meats. Shawarma is a popular dish and fast-food staple across the Middle East; it has also become popular worldwide. Shawarma is known as guss in Iraq; it is similar to the gyros of Greece. The classic shawarma combination is pita bread, hummus, tomato & cucumber, and of course the shawarma. The additional toppings include tahini and chili sauce.

    Strips of meat or marinated chicken are stacked on a vertical spit with chunks of meat fat make sure that the meat stays juicy and an onion or tomato are placed at the top of the stack to provide flavoring. The meat is then roasted slowly on all sides as the spit rotates in front of or over a flame for a period of several hours. Traditionally a wood fire was used but for modern times, a gas flame is more common. While many specialty restaurants might offer two or more meat selections, some establishments have just one skewer. In this recipe, chicken is used, but beef, lamb, or combination of all three are quite common.

    After cooking, the meat is shaved off the stack with a large knife, made up into a sandwich with pita bread or rolled up in lafa together with vegetables (cucumber, onion, tomato, lettuce, eggplant, parsley, pickled turnips, pickled gherkins, cabbage) and a dressing (tahini, hummus, chili sauce, flavored with vinegar and spices). In some countries, (Romania, Bulgaria, Jordan, Israel, or the United Arab Emirates), french fries are included in the sandwich

    Shawarma is eaten either as a fast food type dish by itself, with grilled bread, or fresh pita bread, or with other regional foods like Tabouli, Hummus.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • Ras El Hanout

    spices

    I do so love having a properly stocked pantry / spice rack. The situation is this, while in the store shopping I decided that I wanted to produce a Tangine for Saturday Dinner. Madam BadWolf, just looked at me and asked what did we need. (No pressure there, Just DO NOT SCREW THIS UP..) A quick visit to the meat counter showed very little in the way of acceptable and affordable lamb, we really could not think of chicken, and a “pork tangine?”, I think not, so this left beef. Looking at the beef selection, and referring to my trusty internet connected communications device, I settled on Beef Short Ribs.

    Think of hearty chunks of brisket, with a bone on one side. Perfect for slow cooking, the high collagen and heavy marbling lend this meat to the low and sustained heat and as the meat fibers swell they absorb the braising liquid to deliver a taste that can NOT be duplicated by any other means.

    So several packs of short ribs, some dates, dried apricots, and other items were loaded into the cart, and away we went. The next morning I start my prep to find… I AM MISSING A KEY item. (Ras El Hanout), I missed the line in the recipe, and as if the local not-so-mega mart would carry such… As if I KNEW what Ras El Hanout was…

    Again an internet connected device to the rescue..

    From Wikipedia

    Ras el hanout or Rass el hanout is a blend of spices from Morocco but also used in other countries in North Africa. The name is Arabic for “head of the shop” and implies a mixture of the best spices the seller has to offer. Ras el hanout is used in many savory dishes, sometimes rubbed on meat or stirred into rice.

    There is no definitive combination of spices that makes up ras el hanout. Each shop, company, or person may have their own blend. The mixture may consist of over a dozen spices. Commonly used ingredients include cardamom, clove, cinnamon, ground chili peppers, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, peppercorn, and turmeric. Some spices may be particular to the region, such as ash berries, chufa, grains of paradise, orris root, monk’s pepper, cubebs, or dried rosebud. Ingredients may be toasted before being ground and mixed together.

    A peruse of my spice provided all but one, (optional) ingredients. The smells from the toasting, and grinding were amazing, I can not wait to actually start cooking with this.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • Mediterranean Herbs and Spices (My Guide)

    spices

    As I have spoke prior:

    I have started playing with a fusion diet of Mediterranean, Mid-Eastern, and Far Eastern cuisines. Heavy on Rice, Noodles, Breads, Pastas, fruits, veggies, nuts, beans, olive / sesame oil, and very light on red meat

    Mediterranean cuisine consists primarily of fruits and vegetables with an emphasis on poultry and seafood, grains, beans and pastas. Olive oil the most prevalent fat or oil used in the preparation of salads, marinades, vegetables, poultry, and seafood. Eggplant, artichokes, squash, tomatoes, legumes, onions, mushrooms, okra, cucumbers, and a variety of greens are served fresh, baked, roasted, sautéed, grilled, and puréed. Yogurt and cheese are also major components of Mediterranean cooking. Coastal areas use seafood.

    Herbs and spices are used in abundance. The very special “blend”, and I will use the word blend as the entire Mediterranean culture and hence the cuisine is a mix of many, many cultures in what has to be the cradle and blending bowl of civilization. The very special “blend” of herbs and spices is quite long, but I have listed some of those that have been identified as essential Mediterranean seasonings.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • Preserved Lemons

    I have started playing with a fusion diet of Mediterranean, Mid-Eastern, and Far Eastern cuisines. Heavy on Rice, Noodles, Breads, Pastas, fuits, veggies, nuts, beans, olive / sesame oil, and very light on red meat. A fair amount of fish, lighter on poultry. This does not mean I will run screaming at the sight of a a steak, (or at least run screaming AWAY..)

    One item that keeps popping up is preserved lemons, used in all kinds of dishes around the Mediterranean, it really should be called preserved lemon peel, as that is the component most used.

    From Wikipedia:

    Preserved lemon or lemon pickle is a condiment that is common in Indian and North African cuisine. It is also known as “country lemon” and leems. Diced, quartered, halved, or whole, lemons are pickled in a brine of water, lemon juice, and salt; occasionally spices are included as well. The pickle is allowed to ferment at room temperature for weeks or months before it is used. The pulp of the preserved lemon can be used in stews and sauces, but it is the peel (zest and pith together) that is most valued. The flavor is mildly tart but intensely lemony.

    Pieces of pickled lemon may be washed before using to remove any surface salt, or blanched to remove more of the salt and bring out the natural mild sweetness. They may then be sliced, chopped, or minced as needed for the texture of the dish. The rind may be used with or without the pulp.

    Preserved lemon is the key ingredient in many Moroccan dishes such as tagines. In Cambodian cuisine, it is used in dishes such as Ngam nguv, a chicken soup with whole preserved lemons. They are often combined in various ways with olives, artichokes, seafood, veal, chicken, and rice. Lemon Pickle is a standard accompaniment to curd rice, which is often the last course in South Indian Cuisine.

    The pickled pulp and liquid can be used in Bloody Marys and other beverages where lemon and salt are used. The flavor also combines well with horseradish, as in American-style cocktail sauce.

    In Ayurvedic cuisine, lemon pickle is a home remedy for stomach disorders, and its value is said to increase as it matures. In East African folk medicine, lemon pickle is given for excessive growth of the spleen.

    From a VERY OLD COOKBOOK (Elizabeth Raffald (1786). The experienced English housekeeper )

    They should be small, and with thick rinds: rub them with a piece of flannel; then slit them half down in four quarters, but not through to the pulp; fill the slits with salt hard pressed in, set them upright in a pan for four or five days, until the salt melts; turn them thrice a day in their own liquor, until tender; make enough pickle to cover them, of rape-vinegar, the brine of the lemons, Jamaica pepper, and ginger; boil and skim it; when cold, put it to the lemons, with two ounces of mustard-seed, and two cloves of garlic to six lemons. When the lemons are used, the pickle will be useful in fish or other sauces.

    Note: When I speak of “Fresh” dried spices, I am stalking about items recently acquired, not sitting on a back shelf for a year. This should yield about a quart, so having a sterilized quart jar and lid is necessary. As a point, it is easier to manipulate the lemons in a wide mouth jar.

    Read the rest of this entry »