Archive for November, 2008

Turkey Leftover Hot Sandwich

Posted on November 29, 2008. Filed under: easy, leftover, recipe |

Everyone loves a hot sandwich.  They’re even better when you’re a bit hammered.  And they’re best when you’re a bit hammered and you have leftover Thanksgiving turkey.

Leftover Turkey
Good Bread
BBQ Sauce
Your Favorite Cheese
Bell Pepper, sliced thin
Onion or Shallot, sliced real thin
It’s pretty easy to assemble.  Slather a thin layer of BBQ sauce on the bread.  Turkey on top of that.  Pesto sauce (I made my own quick sauce from frozen basil, olive oil, garlic, and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese) on turkey.  Thin slices of bell pepper & onion atop the pesto.  Finally, a layer of cheese to top it off.  I used swiss.
Place the sandwich in the oven.  Bake until cheese is bubbly and golden.  Note: This would make a wicked good panini, too.
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Posted on November 28, 2008. Filed under: hodgepodge |

What a great tradition- cook massive amounts of tasty food (with massive amounts of butter), eat until you’re going to burst, eat more just to prove you won’t, then try really hard not to take a nap, only to pass out on the couch.

This year was a great success.  Nearly everything was produced within 150 miles of my house.  I like that.  It’s good for the planet, and good for the belly.  Fresh, local food has more flavor than you can imagine.   
Let’s start with the turkey.  Free range, freshly slaughtered, and damn tasty.  I brined it overnight in a solution of salt, sugar, apple cider vinegar, ground sage, dried rosemary/thyme/bay, and peppercorns.  The brine will keep your turkey tender, and flavor it to the bone.  I stuffed it with carrot, celery, onion, garlic, and lemon. Coated the skin, inside and out, with melted butter blended with duck fat and sage.  Yeah, duck fat.  Do it.  
I had a pretty brilliant idea.  I elevated the turkey on a couple of bricks, and slow roasted it at 325.  Left a pan underneath to catch the juice.  This allowed air to circulate all around the turkey.  The result was a very crispy skin, and a ton of pan juice, which I turned into a swell gravy.
The highlight of the meal, for sure, was the sweet potato.  I used two varieties of tuber, sweet potato and yam, both picked up at the farmers’ market.  Roasted in the oven, passed through a sieve, then enhanced with butter, cream, maple syrup, cinnamon, & fresh nutmeg.  I managed to forget to buy pecans, so I went with the traditional marshmallow topping.  The pecans, though they would have been great, weren’t missed.  This was something special.
The table was rounded out by a carrot & apple salad, cranberry sauce (shoot me, but I prefer the canned stuff. Actually, don’t shoot me, most of you do.  I did get a brand without corn syrup, which was smart), stuffing, and roasted green beans (with bacon!).  There might have only been 4 of us, but we ate like 40.  
Special thanks to Mom, who acted as both soux-chef and chief dishwasher.  Thanks especially for the dishwashing!  (Seriously, Mom kept the place tidy all day long.)
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The Apple, specifically the Arkansas Black

Posted on November 26, 2008. Filed under: favorite, fruit, healthy, hodgepodge |

If, for some wacky reason, you’re still buying peaches/nectarines/grapes, stop. The season is over my friends, even here in California. Time to spend some time with your old friend, the apple.
Yes, we can get apples year round. And, unlike most other fruits that have been shipped long distances, they’re pretty good all year. Apples, when cooled properly, store really well, and that’s a very good thing. But, do we really need to have them shipped from far far away? We don’t. And, thankfully, we don’t have to. Apples grow throughout the country, and, with a quick stop at the farmers’ market, you might find something interesting.
In my case, it was the Arkansas Black, an heirloom variety dating back to the 1870s. What a great find! It’s texture is super crisp, the flavor mostly sweet with just the right balance of tartness. It’s perfect out of hand, tasty chopped & added to a salad.
You might not be able to find this variety, but, I bet you’ll find something you haven’t tried. Yup, I’m a fan of the Fuji apple, but it was nice to try something different!
Here’s a quick tip: Notice how the top of the apple is all brown? I thought maybe this was a sign of not-so-goodness, but, it turns out, it’s just the opposite. That’s the pollen mark. The bigger the mark, the sweeter the apple. Who knew?! Great tip, and very true. That apple in the above pic was sweet indeed.
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Making Yogurt

Posted on November 24, 2008. Filed under: hodgepodge, patience, recipe |

A few days ago Karen updated her facebook status to something like “Thinking about making yogurt from scratch. Wondering if I’m becoming a hippie.” Well, I’d argue that anyone that titles their blog “Off the (Meat) Hook” probably is in no danger of becoming a hippie. I think she’s safe. More interestingly, we agreed to both conduct yogurt making experiments.

So I experimented. The result was not a terrible failure, as I had first thought, but, I wouldn’t call it a grand success either. What happened was:
I started with whole raw milk. Since the first step was to heat the milk to 180F, I felt it would be an interesting and wholesome choice to go with unpasteurized milk. If you’re at all freaked out by this, use the pasteurized stuff, by all means. I’ve never tried raw milk before, and you can taste the difference. It tastes somewhat fresher and cleaner, if that makes sense.
Why heat the milk to 180? Well, you want to kill off any unwanted bacteria, so you can introduce your own desired bacteria. This is best done over a double boiler, to prevent scorching, but I used a regular pan and that worked just fine. Heat to 180, once it reaches that, remove and cool.
Now comes the tricky part. Really tricky. And, not terribly fun. You need to monitor the milk as it cools. Yeah. Annoying. The goal, a temperature between 108 – 112 degrees. Why? Well, that’s the temperature that the good yogurt making bacteria does best.
So, when you get there, which will take tedious time, stir in two tablespoons of organic plain yogurt. I know, why not just eat that yogurt instead?! Well, maybe you should. But for the sake of the experiment, stir it in. This introduces yogurt cultures to the milk, starting the process of fermentation. If you decide you love making yogurt, you can save a small part of each batch to use as a starter for the next one.
Now comes the tricky part. Really tricky. And, not terribly fun. Wait, did I just say that? I did. Like I said, this is a tedious experiment. Now, you have to keep the fermenting pre-yogurt at the same 108 – 112 degrees for 4-6 hours. Fun!!!!!
I took my warm milkgurt and put it in the oven. Luckily, I have an old timey 1950s gas oven. The pilot flame keeps the inside of the oven at about…110 degrees! Lucky me. So, I just left it there, stirring and taking the temp from time to time. After 4 hours, nothing. After 6, it smelt and tasted a little sour (good) but the consistency remained about the same (bad). So, I went out for a beer.
Two hours later, not much had changed. The whatever it was now became a bit thicker, but not very yogurt-like. I figured what would be done was done, so I removed it from the oven and put it in the fridge.
The next day, things looked better. A decent sized pool of watery whey had formed on the top. I poured this off, stirred the mix, and, found I had indeed made something that kind of resembled yogurt. It was a little more sour than the commercial yogurt. I added a fair amount of honey and agave, and it was pretty good. Grainier texture than I would have wanted, but pretty good.
Was this worth it? Probably not. The flavor, once sweetened a bit, was slightly better than commercial yogurt. The texture was not. This was a lot of tedious work. There are very good small batch yogurts for sale just about everywhere. I’m going to continue to buy those.
Maybe Karen will have better luck. She’s much more science-minded than I am. (Her dad is some kind of world famous neuroscientist, and that clearly has rubbed off.) Also, she’s a dirty hippie.
I should add that whatever it was I made was fine with my belly. So, although I didn’t make perfect yogurt, I didn’t make myself sick, either!
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Posted on November 22, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Because, sometimes when you’re out, you need to have a bacon wrapped hot dog (with peppers & onions).

Posted by ShoZu

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Posted on November 21, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Please enjoy this photo of “beats” while I try to beat my mac into working again.

Posted by ShoZu

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Technique: How to Render Duck Fat

Posted on November 18, 2008. Filed under: favorite, poultry, technique |

Let’s begin by talking about the giant elephant in the room. Cooking with duck fat is not for everyday cooking. Duck fat is not healthy, at least in the unclogged artery sense of the word. It is, however, amazingly flavorful, and nice to have on hand to add something special from time to time. Also, if you’re going to cook duck, might as well keep the fat!

If you’re roasting duck, you can add trimmed fat/skin to the bottom of the roasting pan, and cover that with water. Excess fat will drain from the duck, adding to the mix. Make sure that the fat remains covered with water. When duck is finished cooking, strain the fat/water mixture into a smaller pot.
*If you’re not roasting duck, and just happen to have trimmed fat/skin from previous duck cooking in the freezer, place directly into a small pot, and cover with water.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Allow water to cook out. This will take about 45 minutes. The mixture will gradually become more golden as the water evaporates. It will bubble, slowly at first, then increasing. Once the bubbles bubble at a steady quick pace, remove from heat. Strain through a fine sieve, and store in an airtight jar.
Duck fat will keep in the fridge for at least a year. Sweet! You’ll know it’s turned bad when it smells…bad. Before that happens, it’s going to smell like heaven.
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Bacon Filled Meatloaf

Posted on November 13, 2008. Filed under: bacon, bake, beef, in advance, meat, recipe |

1 lb ground beef, grass-fed 15% fat

1/2 lb ground turkey, mix of dark and white
1 cup ground tomato
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tabelspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon pepper
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
6 thick slices of bacon
6 thick slices of bacon!
Fried Onions, optional
I was having a conversation the other day about the need for another post about bacon. Somehow the subject veered to meatloaf, and I thought, ‘great, meatloaf often has bacon on top of it!’ That was when the light bulb went off. Yes, meatloaf often has bacon on top, but I’ve never seen a recipe with bacon INSIDE! Thus, a new and exciting dish was born. Bacon Filled Meatloaf.
Begin by dicing the first 6 slices of bacon. Remove some of the extra fat. Add to a frying pan over medium-high heat. Render bacon until it just begins to crisp, about 3-4 minutes. This will help the texture of the meatloaf greatly. Drain rendered fat, saving it for another day.
Place the almost crisp bacon in a large bowl, and add all other ingredients save the other bacon slices, ketchup, and fried onions. Mix well (best done with your hands!), and let rest for an hour at room temperature. Don’t skip the resting. Trust me, you’ll be sad if you do. The mix needs time to let the breadcrumbs and meat absorb all the seasonings. If you don’t let it rest, you’ll end up with a strange textured loaf and a pool of sauce at the bottom. See? Sadness.
Put rested mixture in a loaf pan. Put loaf pan in a 375 degree oven. After a half hour, remove from oven and carefully drain most of the melted fat. Cover top of loaf with a layer of ketchup, then cover pan with foil. Return to oven and cook additional 30 minutes, removing foil for the final five.
At some point, cook the additional slices of bacon.
Rest, covered, for 10-15 minutes. Again, you’ll be sad if you don’t do this. After resting, cut into slices to serve. Top with a little more ketchup or crushed tomatoes, just a dab. Top that with extra bacon (crumbled), and, if you’d like, some canned fried onions.
Note: This one is still a work in progress. I’m going to play a bit with fresh onions and garlic, though I do like the convenience of using powdered. This was made using thick sliced bacon, so if you only have thin, use more.
Meatloaf is a million times better the next day. I’m not saying you have to wait a whole day to dig in, just that you should dig in again the next day.
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Enter the Dragonfruit

Posted on November 12, 2008. Filed under: fruit, healthy, hodgepodge |

I made a quick stop into a supermarket the other day.  I tend to get most of my food from farmers’ markets, but I only needed a couple of things and, well, they don’t have farmers’ markets at 10PM.  Wandering through the produce section, I found a strange looking fruit, the dragonfruit.  It was marked ‘locally grown,’ so I gave it a go.

The first thing you’ll notice about the dragonfruit is it’s amazing shape.  It’s a cactus fruit, and it looks fairly similar to the prickly pear.  A prickly pair with crazy leaf-like soft scales growing from it.  The color is a soft magenta, with green highlights.  It’s unique, that’s for sure.
Splitting the fruit in half, I was amazed by the bright magenta color of the inside.  The small black seeds contrast with the thrilling magenta.  Cut open, it’s one of the most beautiful fruits I’ve ever seen.  The subtle pumpkin-like smell wasn’t terribly pleasing, but the visual was. Other varieties have a creamy white interior.
Dragonfruit tastes like a softer version of the kiwi-melon chewing gum you might have tried.  The flavor is really subtle.  The texture is similar to a kiwi.  Overall, I’d say looks trump eats on this one.  Not crazy amazing.
The dragonfruit, also known as a pitaya, is rich in vitamin C & fibre, and it’s a decent source of phosphorus and calcium.  The one I bought was very expensive, $12.99/pound.  I wouldn’t get another one at that price, but I’d try it again if I found a less expensive one.
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Easy Roast Chicken Breast

Posted on November 8, 2008. Filed under: bake, easy, poultry, recipe |

4 Bone-In Chicken Breasts, skin on

4 Cloves Garlic, chopped
1/4 Cup Fresh Thyme Leaves, chopped
1 Small Red Onion, chopped
1 Tbls. Poultry Seasoning
1 Tsp. Salt
1/4 Cup Butter (Melted) or Olive Oil
Combine everything except chicken.  With the back of a spoon, press the seasonings into butter or oil.  Butter is better for the soul, oil is better for the heart.  You choose.  Or don’t- I went half and half and that worked pretty well.  Regardless of the fat you choose, this should smell all fragrant and savory.
Preheat oven to 375.  Rub the rub under the chicken skin.  Drip remaining fat and rub onto top of skin.  Place on roasting rack, and cook until internal temp reaches 165- approximately 45 minutes.  If skin isn’t crispy by the time temp reaches 160, raise oven temp to 450.
Let chicken rest for 5-10 minutes.
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