BMEWS
 
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calendar   Tuesday - November 27, 2012

early lunch at the potters heron, or the cart and horses. whatever, the food was great!

About 10 days or so ago, the wife who has been ill and not able to really get out as much as she’s like, decided she had cabin fever and suggested we go out to lunch. Something we had not done in many months due to her condition. But pain or no pain she was determined and suggested a place not too far from here, a pub called The Potters Heron.  It’s in a village named Kingsworthy.  Ancient church and cemetery and village green, sadly crowded these days by modernity.

So we went and I am looking forward to the time we can return cos the food was outstanding and the portions very generous.  So here. Take a look.
Of course, in spring and summer the outside would be filled and there’s be flowers everywhere.

The Heron dates to about 1760.

Here’s an oddity I need to get to the bottom of.
The manager’s business card and some other things ID this place as, The Cart and Horses.  ????? 
Hey. What can I say?  This is England.

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Wife had the Cod, I think that’s what it was, and I could not resist the Ham. But I was not aware upon ordering that it came with two eggs.
I was a happy camper. By the way, with regard to the photo below. We had already started when I got the idea to take a snap of the meal. So a number of fries are missin g from the photo.  You do get your monies worth, and we are going back.

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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 11/27/2012 at 08:00 AM   
Filed Under: • Fine-DiningUK •  
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calendar   Thursday - October 25, 2012

A Good Mix

Another peanut brittle recipe. I made this the other night and it came out pretty darn good. Best recipe mix so far. A touch of vanilla adds some roundness, the cream of tartar slows the crystallization down a lot, and lets you get by with using less baking soda. A taste of molasses adds a bit of dusky flavor without taking the risk of overcooking the mix and burning the sugar and the nuts. So not only is it a good recipe, it’s a smart one that’s fool-resistant.

I’m still not sure whether to use cocktail peanuts or dry roast peanuts, so I used a mixture of both. I am sure that using flavorful, fresh, brand name nuts is the way to go; bargain store nuts just wimp out. And remember, use boiling water to clean out your pot once the caramelized sugar has hardened on. Otherwise you’re in for hours of scrubbing.

1/8 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cups white cane sugar
3 tbs molasses
1/2 cup white Karo corn syrup
1/3 cup water
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup cocktail peanuts ( a small jar’s worth )
3/4 cup dry roast peanuts
2 1/4 tbs cold butter
full teakettle of water

1 medium saucepan with high sides
1 very clean edgeless standard sized baking sheet
1 accurate fast reading thermometer, either digital or candy style, calibrated against boiling water
1 ovenproof bowl, dish, or pan

Take the cold butter and rub it vigorously around on the baking sheet. Slice the rest into 8 bits and leave it to soften.

Add the water, salt, cream of tartar to the saucepan and stir gently. Start it heating over medium heat. Add the molasses and the Karo, stir. When the water starts to steam gently add the sugar and stir until it dissolves. Take the heat up a notch.

Keep stirring. Be patient. The mix will boil. And boil. And boil. What we’re doing at this stage is driving off the water, which was just a carrier for the sugar.

Start the oven, set it to 220°F or just more than Warm. Put the peanuts in the ovenproof bowl and heat them. This is done to slow things down; when we add cold peanuts to hot syrup the temperature plummets and the stuff hardens up too fast, so warm peanuts will cool things less. Don’t recook the peanuts, just get them up to around 200° or so.

Keep stirring. As the temperature climbs to around 300° F make sure that you have everything right at hand, ready to go. The final step goes together in about 4 seconds, so be ready for it. The cream of tartar will make the syrup bubble like mad. Keep the burner set low enough so that you get a good rolling boil, but not one that climbs up the sides of the saucepan.

Beware! At 320°F the syrup will caramelize, and that process will be quite rapid. So watch carefully and keep stirring gently.

At 310°F turn on the teakettle on another burner, add the peanuts, and take the heat up one small notch. You do not want to scorch the nuts. So in they go, stir, and keep stirring for about a minute to get them all coated. The mix should now be just about to turn golden brown, so drop in the butter and stir it in. It will sizzle and boil.

Turn off the burner and take the pan off. Stir in the baking soda. This will cause lots more bubbles. We want those, but we don’t want to use so much baking soda that it leaves a taste behind. 1/2 tsp isn’t quite enough, 1 tsp is too much, so we’ll use a scant 3/4 tsp. And stir!!

Put the baking sheet on top of the stove over the burner you just turned off, and carefully pour the whole pot onto it, starting at the end over the burner. Get every last bit out with a spoon. It will run down the sheet a little and spread out. This recipe will cover just about the entire sheet, one peanut thick, with the caramelized syrup perhaps 1/8” thick. Let it cool. If you did it right, you’ll have a peanut rich golden puddle, the same color as a caramel or maybe just a tiny bit darker. Take the sheet off the stove and put it on a cooling rack. Turn off the oven.

Let it cool. When the water boils, use it to melt any syrup remaining in the saucepan, on your spoons, and on the thermometer.

While the mixture cools and you’ve got the dishes done, make some room in the freezer or fridge to put the baking sheet in. We want to take it from room temperature down to cold. Frozen is Ok too, but chilled is good enough.

When the stuff is cold, and you’ve had the time to ask yourself how on earth you’re going to get this puddle of frozen glue off your good cookie sheet, take the sheet in your hands and flex it. A couple of twists and some gentle arching, and the whole thing will break into chunks and pop right off. Assuming you don’t eat it all in one go, you can wrap it in wax paper and store it in a box for a few days. If you want a saltier flavor you can dust the buttered side lightly with some kosher salt.

I’d supply a picture, but our batch didn’t last that long.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 10/25/2012 at 01:15 PM   
Filed Under: • Fine-Dining •  
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calendar   Tuesday - September 18, 2012

a post just for drew. okay, you can look too.

The wife found this and pointed it out to me as something to send Drew.
But I thought I’d get even with him here on line for some of the dishes he has posted in past issues of bmews.
lol.

This one’s fur u Drew.

ODD STREAK

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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 09/18/2012 at 05:08 AM   
Filed Under: • Fine-Dining •  
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calendar   Friday - July 27, 2012

strange cookery

Maybe it’s the withdrawal symptoms talking, but I just deep fried a pork loin.

I needed to get something for lunch and dinner, and the store had small pork loins for a good price. I’ve made them in the past, but no matter how I marinade or season them, they always seem to come out kind of dry from the oven, whether I cook them long and low, or short and hot. But I know that when I fry up some chicken or some pork chops, the meat is so moist and steamy you hardly even need a fork, let alone a knife.

So I put 2 and 2 together, got out my spices, and hopefully my creation will equal at least a 4. I’m hoping for a 10, but hey. Even if the batter coating gets cast aside, maybe the meat will be good and tender.

Spices went on first, followed by a dredging in flour. Then I took some more flour, a little more spice, and some milk and make a wet coating. Spooned that onto all sides, then let it sit while the lard heated up (same lard as before; this is my 4th fry with it. I think I can get 2 more before it gets too brown).

Deep fried it for 10-15 minutes each side, then into a 425 oven to finish off for a bit. Half an hour? Maybe a tad less. I have no idea how long it will take, but I’ve got a meat thermometer and can probe it one.

... Ok, I pulled it out when the probe said the middle was 130. Half an hour later, resting, paper towels absorbing any extra oil, and the internal temp is up to 173. I’d say it’s fully cooked.

Looks like a lump of rock though. Hope it tastes better!

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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 07/27/2012 at 12:06 PM   
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calendar   Saturday - July 07, 2012

Livin Large On The Cheap

Hey Mom, what’s for lunch?

East Coast: Right Now, Lobster Is Cheaper Than Baloney

Lobster was once synonymous with living large, but thanks to an abundance of the soft-shell version of the crustaceans in recent months, it’s not just a meal for special occasions anymore.

An excess supply in Maine of smaller soft-shell lobsters has driven prices to under $4 a pound, the Associated Press reported this week, making the luscious sea creature cheaper than the per pound price of deli meat in some cases.

Now that’s upgrading your usual boring baloney sandwich for lunch.

Soft-shell lobsters—lobsters that have shed their hard shells—are easier to crack open and have less meat, so they typically fetch lower prices than their hard-shell brethren.

Still, the sheer volume of the soft-shell variety that has shown up weeks before the usual Independence Day kick-off of lobster season in Maine has tipped the scales of supply and demand further in favor of crustacean-craving consumers.

Forget hot dogs, glut means cheap lobster prices

A glut has driven down lobster prices in Maine — bringing cheer to lobster-loving consumers at the start of the state’s tourist season but gloom among lobstermen.

Retailers have been selling small soft-shell lobsters in the Portland area for an unusually low $3.79 to $4.99 a pound. At those prices, lobsters have been selling for less than the per-pound price of bologna at many supermarket deli counters.

Zain Nemazie, of Austin, Texas, was expecting low lobster prices — but not this low — while on vacation in Maine with his family.

“This is as good as it gets,” Nemazie said late last week after paying $4.59 a pound for large 1 1/2-pound lobsters at a seafood shop on Portland’s waterfront. “We’re from Texas, where we’d be paying at least $12 a pound.”

At Docks Seafood in South Portland, owner Bob Coppersmith said customers were eating up the low prices, including a deal where he was selling five small live lobsters for $25. He later dropped it to five for $24.

“One gentleman came in and said, ‘So I get five lobsters for $25. What’s the catch?’” Coppersmith said. “I said there’s no catch. He said, ‘You’re going to put five lobsters in a bag and not weigh them and give me them to me for 25 bucks?’ He just couldn’t believe it.”

The Fourth of July represents the unofficial start to Maine’s tourist season, when out-of-state visitors begin arriving in earnest.

Yeah, but ...

This year, though, soft-shell lobsters began showing up in abundance in fishermen’s traps weeks earlier than normal.

Most of those lobsters usually go to Canadian processors. But the processors haven’t been able to handle the Maine catch because Canadian lobstermen had such strong catches during their spring season, resulting in a backlog, said Neal Workman, head of The Fisheries Exchange, a Biddeford company that tracks prices, catches and other market information for the lobster industry.

Supply right now far exceeds demand, resulting in a “perfect storm” for the industry, he said.

Yeah, but ...
Look folks, take it from a Yankee. Soft shelled lobsters are the ones that have just molted. Right now those little bugs are sending all their nutrients into hardening up that new shell. Which means they’re weak. It means their flesh is watery and tasteless. Sure, you can get softies cheap: it’s not worth it; you’re wasting your money. In 2 weeks they’ll be nice and hard again, and 2 weeks after that their meat will be plumped up and tasty. So this year, instead of avoiding lobsters in late August, you want to avoid them in early July.

I’m not going to blame Global Warming for this year’s early molt. Puh-leez. But I’m reading between the lines and this seems like an act of desperation to me. Teeny lobsters are almost always caught close to shore; this glut may be the shallow water hunters pushing back against the deep water crews.

Not 100% sure of this, but I seem to remember that once upon a time when the lobstermen saw the molt coming, they stopping fishing and used the few weeks off to repair their boats for the season. Because there was no market for soft shelled lobsters. Also, late Spring was when mostly only chickens were available; “chickens” being tiny lobsters of 1 lb or less. The ones that are pretty much too small to eat. Lobsters apparently migrate in and out of the deeper waters, or at least the larger ones do.

Also once upon a time, lobstering was a shallow water endeavor. The medium lobsters - 1 1/2 - 3 pounds, which are the size you WANT to eat - came up into the shallow on-shore waters in the summer and could be caught within sight of land. Now it seems to be a year-round industry, and the fishermen go far out to sea to catch the big ones in deep water. They even have their own darn TV show these days, and you can see the guys hauling 15 pounders up out of the deep. What’s the point of that? You need a gun and a chainsaw to break through that kind of armor; the shell on a 15 pounder is probably an inch thick! Heck, even the shell on a 3 pounder can be daunting in your own kitchen.

So the whole thing sounds like over fishing to me. Yes, many folks in Maine are poorer than church mice. And nobody wants to see the fishing fleets go under. But over-grazing a sub-market quality crop to the barest break even point seems pretty short sighted to me. Let ‘em go, let ‘em grow, then catch them in a month when they’ll be worth twice as much. And taste more than twice as good.


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Ok, to be fair, you can look at the situation from the other end as well. It’s just as possible that demand has taken a nosedive, what with the bad economy and all, and nobody is willing to shell out (hur hur hur) $15/lb for sea bugs. So $4/lb is all the lobster catchers can get ... so perhaps they’re bringing in every last bug they catch? (historically many of the lobsters get thrown back for being too small, too big, or too soft). That’s a reasonable view, and one that crops up every couple of years ... which I have a hard time accepting when the news articles are talking about tasteless softies.

From the summer of 2008, when unemployment was “dangerously high” at 5.8% for a labor force half a million folks larger, and $4 gas was Bush’s fault 24-7:

PORTLAND, Maine — It’s peak season for lobster and tourism in Maine, yet consumption of this crustacean has fallen to the point where it costs no more than sliced turkey in parts of New England.

A solid harvest and diminished demand from diners adjusting to the weak economy have pushed the retail price of lobster in Maine beneath $6 a pound, tightening the financial squeeze on fisherman struggling with soaring fuel prices.

While fewer locals and tourists overall are shelling out for lobster dinners, some say the affordability — at a time when most food prices are rising — has encouraged them to eat more of the seafood delicacy than usual.

Katina Wetter, who spent more than $100 on gas to drive from Indiana to Portland, Maine, with her family, is counting her pennies while on vacation — but said she definitely won’t skimp on the state’s signature seafood. “I’d be buying lobsters anyway, but not as many if the prices weren’t this low,” Wetter said.

Lobster lovers outside of New England won’t notice any change in price, analysts said, since Maine’s summertime catch is mostly soft-shelled and too fragile to ship long distances.

Maine is the nation’s lobster breadbasket with fishermen last year hauling in 63 million pounds, about 80% of the U.S. catch, worth $280 million.

Lobster prices are volatile throughout the year, with the highest prices in winter and spring. They typically decline in summer, when fishermen begin catching lobsters in abundance in the cold waters off Maine’s rocky coast.

It seems strange that a century ago, lobsters were so plentiful that farmers used them for fertilizer, because nobody wanted to eat them. They were not the delicacy they are today and were routinely fed to prisoners. And not as their last meal.

Yes, and that “weak economy” has “recovered” so much under King Obama that 4 years later those lobsters are selling for a FULL THIRD less when our money also seems to be worth a full third less. I wonder if the price of arugula has also bottomed out?


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 07/07/2012 at 09:35 AM   
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calendar   Friday - July 06, 2012

It’s exactly … too damn hot

The temperature out on the back balcony is exactly 98.8° F.

What the heck, I figured the first step to properly fried chicken was keeping the oil at the proper temperature, so I bought a neat little digital thermometer. I was using some cheap POS glass thing from China, which said that water boiled somewhere between 180° and 235°. Not exactly accurate or dependable.

Meanwhile, the chicken thighs are soaking in buttermilk and hot sauce, with some salt and spices mixed in, a couple cloves of minced garlic, some onion slices, and a ground bay leaf. Seems about right.

I won’t surrender. Eventually this will come out right AND be repeatable.

I got some peanuts too, in case I feel the urge to try a peanut mix coating. First though, I just want to get it to come out right the regular way. I got a couple bricks of lard as well, though I couldn’t find completely non-hydrogenated lard. However, a review of the Armour lard at Amazon says that the company says it’s only 0.02% hydrogenated, so that’s pretty good enough IMO.

Fingers crossed.

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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 07/06/2012 at 03:24 PM   
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Woo Hoo!

Today is National Fried Chicken Day



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Is there any food more representative of American cuisine than fried chicken?
...
So in honor of National Fried Chicken Day, which is July 6, ...
...
Fried chicken has its roots in country kitchens of the South, soaked in buttermilk, shaken in a brown paper bag with seasoned flour, and prepared in a cast-iron skillet filled with bubbling liquid lard. The oldest fried chicken recipe on record is published in The Virginia House-Wife, written by Mary Randolph in 1828. Since then the American classic has been prepared in countless ways — from soaked in a spicy vinegar-based marinade and deep-fried, Peruvian-style to served upscale in four-star restaurants with maple-honey butter or other accoutrements.


You know, the one thing we don’t have here in our little Red State corner of True Blue New Jersey is a fried chicken place. We’ve got stellar restaurants left and right, top notch international cuisine and classic American, we’ve got all the other big fast food franchises, and we’ve got scads of little Ma & Pa eateries, from the Sandwich Shack to the old guy up on Route 31 who sells ribs and barbecue from his trailer on the edge of the school bus parking lot. But no fried chicken. Oh, I can get some take out wingettes from the Chinese food joints, I’m sure some of the local bars serve Buffalo Wings, and if I time it just right I can get some freshly fried chicken from the grocery store before it goes out under the heat lamps for hours and hours. But that just doesn’t cut the mustard. I can drive 20 minutes to Flemington, or 40 minutes to Hackettstown to find a KFC ... but that isn’t really good fried chicken. You know what I’m saying.

Guess I’ll have to make some myself ... and pray that this time it works. Frying chicken has always been hit or miss for me. Mostly miss. Often by huge distances. I’ve got a big heavy pan. I’ve got a deep fryer. I’ve got Crisco and vegetable oil; I can get lard or peanut oil or whatever. I can get decent store quality chicken; the kosher ones and the hispanic pollo fresco ones aren’t really all that bad. Better than the genetically engineered 10lb mega-birds laden with marigold yellowed fat. Bread crumbs, corn flakes, cracked peanuts, panko ... it’s all there in the store. Buttermilk too, and all kinds of flavorful stocks and broths. Easy to come by. And I have the best spices, and lots of them. But somehow it just doesn’t come together. My coatings fall off. My spices get lost in the mix - and I have a really heavy hand when it comes to spices. The coating gets burned while the meat stays raw. I’ve tried dry rolling the meat in crumbs, I’ve tried dipping them in wet batter. I’ve coated raw chicken, I’ve used buttermilk and chicken stock marinades. Some of them loaded with spices, like the Great Fried Jerk Chicken Fiasco of 2008. I remember once I tried a double coat of wet batter and then deep fried things ... gave me back pieces the size of bowling pins; wonderful batter - crispy on the outside but chewy like a slice of rye bread on the inside - but nearly raw bird inside that. I give up. Must be some latent Yankee genes coming through. Damn.

So if you can fry chicken properly, today’s the day. And if you have a foolproof recipe, post it. This fool will put it to the test. Meanwhile, I’ll probably just go to Walmart and get a box of the frozen Banquet stuff. EEEEEEEwwwww.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 07/06/2012 at 10:29 AM   
Filed Under: • Fine-DiningFun-Stuff •  
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calendar   Sunday - June 17, 2012

New To Me, Part 2

Dolsot Bibimbap With Gochujang Sauce


Something new for lunch for me. I had no idea what I was getting, nor getting into. I just pointed at the menu and said “bring me this”. And it was awesome.

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We decided to give ourselves a little break on the way down to spend another day tending to my ailing mother in law. Let’s have lunch out. There is a new tapas grill right on the main drag, let’s give it a try. Oh no, it’s Father’s Day, the place is a zoo, and the only they’re serving is the buffet until 4pm. At $25 a person, this was more food and more cash then we wanted. So now what? Down the street to our favorite old Thai place? Meh, I dunno. Don’t really feel like having that today. Hey, there’s the Japanese/Korean place on the corner, we could get sushi! Ok, but that’s not really ringing my bell either.

So we go to the place, a little joint called Kimchi Hana, and I felt daring and ordered something Korean. Gob Dol Bab. Hot and spicy it said. I asked our waiter what it was, and he tells me it’s dolsot bibimbap with gochujang sauce on the side. Oh, gee thanks, that helps. No seriously, what is it? Hot pot with rice and vegetables, with some beef and egg. Ok, I’ll try it.

We like this place because a) the food is good, b) it’s authentic enough that we’re usually the only Caucasians in the place, and c) they totally spoil you by bringing about a dozen little plates of appetizers to the table while your food cooks. Bean sprouts in sauce, kimchi, seaweed salad, a bowl of miso soup, potatoes in sesame oil, daikon with spicy sauce, and so on. Fun. So we nibble on that for a couple minutes, and then my food arrives.

It isn’t often that you can hear your meal arriving before it gets to the table. The waiter put a gigantic stone bowl in front of me, it must have been 10” across and 6” deep. And it was hotter than hell. The food inside was cooking. Sizzling. Practically jumping up and down in the bowl, letting off clouds of steam. Oh sure, you’ve done the fajita thing that comes on a hot iron platter. Forget it. Ten times more sizzle. It roared. This was a massive chunk of fresh lava with food inside. Dangerous meals; I love it. The bowl had to weigh 8 pounds. And it was filled with prepared vegetables, and on top of all of it, in the middle, was a raw egg. Frying itself. While sitting on top of the vegetables. Wild. That’s how much heat was in the bowl.

And it was fantastic. I was a bit skeptical, because I’ve tried Korean food before, and I guess I picked the wrong dishes ... the best one up until today tasted like a plate full of burned dirt. Now I stand corrected.

You can read all about dolsot bibimbap here. Mine was fancier; it had 12 different kinds of veggie thingies in it. I gather I was supposed to lay on the hot sauce and mix it all together? I didn’t. I ate a little of this one, a little of that one, dip a chopstick full in the hot sauce, share a taste of this and that ... and by the time I got down to the bottom - about half an hour later, and I’m a big eater - not only was I quite full, but the stone bowl had finally cooled off enough so that I could touch it, and the rice at the bottom ... how can I explain this ... the darned meal comes with incentive: finish all your vegetables and you can have the desert at the bottom. The rice had been flavored with something a bit sweet, and had fried itself into crispy golden slabs while I ate my way down to it. What a fantastic idea.

Ok, it was a little shy on meat. They could have stuck a few bits of spicy pork barbecue around the sides, or maybe some of those pre-chewed stewed beef roll-up things they do. But between the dozen dishes of appetizers and the red hot salad bowl of different veggies, I was plenty full enough. And gochujang sauce? It’s a little hot. It’s rather thick, nearly gritty. I think it would make a great barbecue sauce for grilling ribs. But from a Thai food junkie’s perspective it wasn’t hot at all. Why, it hardly made my head sweat. Much. And it didn’t sting my mouth at all.

A tiny bit of net research shows me that the art and science of cooking in super hot stone bowls is right up there with maturing the seasoning on your cast iron skillet so that it makes perfect cornbread. Neat. I will be having this dish again, but I might wait until the heat fails on a cold winter day. A couple bowls of this around the table will warm up the whole room for half the night.

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Yup, giant granite bowl with a brass band around it. That’s a dolsot alright.



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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 06/17/2012 at 09:21 PM   
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calendar   Wednesday - June 13, 2012

Sugar Sugar

No, not a revival of the old Archies tune, a broadside against the sweetening up of the American and English diets.

Are you fat? Blame Nixon.

And once again, it’s looking more and more that Atkins was right. Low glycemic index eating, Italian, Greek, Mediterranean eating styles, caveman diet, gluten free diet ... it all boils down to 1) eliminate the excess sugars, 2) eliminate or severely reduce the white flour, 3) get rid of as many artificial additives as possible, 4) curb your sweet tooth.

Read a good essay on why everyone in the UK is a right fat bastard ... although it looks like the PC term is “bariatrically challenged”.  Ambulances with fat spatulas and people cranes? Eww.

But hey, Americans are just as piggy.

And it’s a conspiracy theory? Agribusiness and government knowingly behind the whole thing, blaming fat while loading us down with sugars and fast carbs? Or could it just be an unforeseen and unintended consequence of the Green Revolution and the rise of global scale agribusiness?




h/t to Mom


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 06/13/2012 at 11:55 AM   
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calendar   Friday - May 11, 2012

Morning Blahs

Beats me how I got there, but I’m reading recipes for a German street food called currywurst. Yes, sausages in tomato based curry sauce. Usually served with french fries or pretzel rolls. And an argument.

I’m not sure if this is garbage food or something sublime. Recipes run the gamut from “take a cup of ketchup, heat it in the microwave. Dice half an onion and brown it. Mix that into the ketchup and add a spoonful of curry powder and a few shakes of garlic powder. Serve over hot dogs” to the rather fanciful, with white pepper, mustard seed, star anise, and nutmeg (in other words, real curry you make yourself) to ones that use orange juice and beef broth and some ubiquitous mystery substance called “curry powder”. I usually make my own curries, but I also have curry powder on hand. 6 or 7 different kinds. Of all the sites I visited that called for curry powder, only one specified the Madras style.

The Germans even have a special museum just for this dish, so they obviously eat a whole lot of it. Nearly a billion servings per year actually. But few of the recipes seem very curry to me, especially not the washed out ones that call for a single spoonful of curry powder in more than a quart of sauce. Bleh.

Some recipes say you absolutely MUST have red wurst, not the tasteless white wurst. Other sites say use whatever sausage you want, hot dogs and kielbasa included. Never! scream the purists: veal sausage only. Nein, comes back the counterpoint. Make the sausages 3/5 beef and 2/5 pork, and put the curry flavor right inside them! Many of these pages will tell you that it has to be served either with or over french fries, perhaps served with mayo. No no no, say a few others; you’ve got to use the proper kind of pretzel rolls to dip in the sauce. Worcestershire sauce, yes or no? Corn syrup? Hell no, use organic sugar or honey! Perhaps the real secret of currywurst’s appeal is that it gives everyone a safe topic to argue about.


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Curry 7, a famous Berlin currywurst eatery





I’m still ambivalent. Maybe I’ll make Thai shrimp cakes instead.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/11/2012 at 08:35 AM   
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calendar   Tuesday - May 08, 2012

Beef - It’s Why We Win

Quick Roasted Tri Tip



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I’m sure that my West Coast readers will be shocked to learn that the wonderful slab of beef known as a Tri Tip is generally unknown and unavailable here on the East Coast. I’d come across it online while looking up some recipes for hanger steaks, so I asked my butcher to try and get some. I had to explain what I was talking about. He had never heard of them. We wound up bringing in the head butcher, and I had to point out what part of the cow the meat was from on that big Cuts of Beef diagram that all supermarkets have. “Ah, Ok, lower sirloin. Triangle flank steak. Yeah, I think I can get them, but not until Monday.” I was a little shocked, but hey. Groin of Cow, call it what you want. And on Sunday they had some, so I snapped one up. There were half a dozen of them for sale, all in the 2 - 3 pound range. This cut of meat is complete by itself; you get two of them per cow, one per leg, and they aren’t then sliced down into anything smaller.

I came home with a 2 3/4 pound slab of meat about 11 inches long, 6 inches wide, and nearly 3 inches thick. It’s shaped like a double triangle with a dogleg bend in the middle. The grain turns more than 45 degrees; it’s easy to see that one end is attached to the underside of the cow and the other end runs down the front of the back leg.

This was not inexpensive meat, $8/lb for “certified Angus”, but it was our anniversary, so why not? There was a thin layer of fat on one side, and a small amount of visible marbling in the roast itself. Angus are generally low fat cattle; I’d love to see one of these cuts from a regular non-anorexic cow.

Bring it home, rinse it off, pat dry, give it a moderate amount of dry rub that has just a little bit of salt, wrap it up in plastic wrap and let it sit overnight in the fridge. Bring it out last night, let it warm up for about 2 hours, then quickly sear the outside in a big skillet with some olive oil. Open the interesting and really inexpensive Chilean carmenere and set it aside to breath. Sear the meat for 2 or 3 minutes per side, then into a 425-440 oven on the roasting rack for 25 minutes. Hey, I live in a condo, so we don’t have a grill. I was a little hesitant, because the cooking instructions on the package said to roast it at 425 for an hour. Lie! Lie!! LIE!!! That would have killed it dead and dry and created a $20 chunk of shoe leather.

At 25 minutes it was 131 degrees in the middle of the thickest part, so out it came. Cover it with tinfoil and let it rest 10 minutes on the carving board while I heated some rolls, put a simple salad together, and cleaned up from our sushi appetizer. Anniversary dinner, so I was pulling out all the stops. Pour the wine, which was great and only $12! Cut the slab of meat in two at the bend in the grain, then thinly slice it on the bias across the grain. And it was perfectly done, medium rare and tender and aromatic and simply flowing with juices. I didn’t check the internal temperature after the roast rested, but the heat in the meat usually works its way inward during the resting phase, so it was likely 140°F by that point. Whatever.

And the taste? Superb. Beefy but not overpowering. Tender but not mushy. The essence of the rub came through but didn’t take command. This is right up there with prime rib and hanger steak. Better than sirloin or flank steak. Outstanding. We ate our fill and then some, and we’ve got enough left over for at least two more dinners plus sandwiches. I think we could have fed 6 or 8 folks from this one steak/roast/slab. And I’m beginning to think of steak in Texas terms; that no half inch thick slice of meat is worth it. You need a piece of beef at least an inch and a quarter thick to get the proper steak experience.

I can’t afford to eat one of these tri tips all the time or even very often, and it really is far more meat than two people can eat at one go, but if I’m having company over I’ll be serving tri tip from now on. Wow.

West Coasties, your secret is out. And I can see how it can be made even better on the grill with about an hour of smoking followed by an hour of roasting. After 48 hours of wet marinade. Which would be some kind of beef heaven, with extra juice.  But it isn’t necessary. The meat doesn’t need any of that fancy stuff to be tender and tasty. Black pepper and a little salt, a gentle browning, and a quick trip through the heat. Done. Awesome.

The Food Police will probably insist that 130°F is dangerously raw and that you must cook it to 145°F at least! Phooey. Mine was done just right, and you can’t uncook meat.


I looked tri tip up on Wiki, and it tells me that the Germans call this cut of meat Tafelspitz, and that they cook it by boiling it to death in vegetable broth and serving it with horseradish. OMFG, that’s a sin of the worst order. No wonder they can only beat the French.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/08/2012 at 08:09 AM   
Filed Under: • Fine-Dining •  
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calendar   Saturday - April 28, 2012

Let’s Just Call Them Rubios And Be Done With It

another immigrant story, h/t to Rich K, via Ace


Asian Tiger Shrimp: New Natural Born American Species?



Giant cannibal shrimp invasion growing!!!!



[insert Tiger Mom joke here, or mention how these critters are just being used as political prawns]


An invasion of giant cannibal shrimp into America’s coastal waters appears to be getting worse. Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Thursday that sightings of the massive Asian tiger shrimp, which can eat their smaller cousins, were 10 times higher in 2011 than in 2010.

“And they are probably even more prevalent than reports suggest, because the more fisherman and other locals become accustomed to seeing them, the less likely they are to report them,” said Pam Fuller, a USGS biologist.

The shrimp, which can grow to 13 inches long, are native to Asian and Australian waters and have been reported in coastal waters from North Carolina to Texas.

They can be consumed by humans.

“They’re supposed to be very good. But they can get very large, sorta like lobsters,” Fuller said.

While they may make good eatin’ for people, it’s the eating the giant shrimp do themselves that worries scientists.

“Are they competing with or preying on native shrimp,” Fuller asked. “It’s also very disease-prone.”

To try to get those answers, government scientists are launching a special research project on the creatures.

Perhaps some lout should shout “They’re here, no fear, get used to it!”?

The shrimp were “accidentally” released (how often have we heard that canard?) off the South Carolina coast in 1998. Somehow 2,000 of them got loose then and only 300 were recaptured. Since then they’ve been showing up all the way down to Florida and around the coast to Texas. So it’s pretty unlikely that the same little herd is doing all that moving and getting caught once in a while like gypsy caravans. They’re breeding. Like mad. Worse than rats. Or gypsies.

Scientists don’t know if there is a breeding population in U.S. waters. Tiger shrimp females can lay 50,000 to a million eggs, which hatch within 24 hours.  Or the shrimp may be carried here by currents or in ballast tanks of marine vessels.

The latest study will look at the DNA of collected specimens

Yup, that’s breeding alright. I’m just grateful that they’re only giant cannibal shrimp, not giant zombie shrimp. So let’s apply Wong Kim Ark in a natural resource manner, claim them as our own, and start the barbies going. At over a foot long, two or three of these ought to make a pretty decent meal.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/28/2012 at 11:46 AM   
Filed Under: • AnimalsFine-Dining •  
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calendar   Thursday - April 05, 2012

Ultimate Recycling

Soylent Brown

Poop. It’s what’s for dinner in the near future?



Ewww.


Japanese scientist Mitsuyuki Ikeda from the Okayama Laboratory certainly doesn’t believe in human waste.

He thinks that’s perfectly good protein you’re sending out to sea, and he’s found a way to extract it, mix it with steak sauce and create a fecal feast fit for a king.

And despite the downside of having to add soya to bind it all together, Prof Ikeda thinks there’s no reason why we shouldn’t all tuck into his turd burgers.

Why would he even think of it, you might ask.

Because Tokyo Sewage asked him to. Tokyo is swimming in sewage mud, it seems, and there’s only one way it can save itself and that’s eat it.

Prof Ikeda found the mud was loaded with protein due to the high bacteria content. Combine it with reaction enhancer and put it in a magical machine called an “exploder” and artificial steak comes out the other end.

Ah so desu ka! He’s got it backwards: steak goes IN at one end. What comes out ... isn’t steak.

According to Digital Trends, it’s 63 percent protein, 25 percent carbohydrates, 3 percent lipids and 9 percent minerals.

It’s colored red so you don’t know it’s poo.

“Initial tests have people saying it even tastes like beef,” Digital Trends reports.

Processed poop taste testers? I want to give out the golden award for best advertising copy ever written to the person who wrote that Help Wanted advert. And you thought you had to swallow a lot of shit on your job and smile??

Couldn’t they just find some kind of algae to eat this stuff, and have bio-diesel come out in the end? 


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/05/2012 at 06:52 AM   
Filed Under: • Amazing Science and DiscoveriesFine-Dining •  
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calendar   Thursday - February 16, 2012

Good And Ugly

Beef - it’s why we win.

One cow’s worth of hanger steaks, about 1 1/4 lb, usually 2 chunks of meat
1/2 cup apple juice
2-3 tbl apple cider vinegar
a big splash of olive oil
1/2 tsp Szeged Steak Rub from a new or nearly new can
1 tsp Mural of Flavor seasoning from Penzey’s

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Hanger steak, also known as diaphragm meat, is the small bit of meat that holds the diaphragm in place in a cow. It is the ugliest chunk of flesh this side of a halal butcher shop, and for that reason it is often quite inexpensive ($4.49/lb). Rough, uneven, tough and stringy looking, most shoppers give it an “eeeww” glance and move on. Their loss. Hangers are the tastiest, most beefy tasting piece of protein going, and cooked properly make a magnificent meal.

Take a dinner fork and stab each chunk of meat thoroughly to tenderize. Mix the vinegar and the juice in a small bowl. Splash olive oil onto the meat and rub it in with your fingers, then put the meat in a glass baking dish and pour on the juice. Flip the meat a couple of times to coat all sides, then sprinkle on a light amount of the Szeged and a slightly greater light amount of the Mural of Flavor seasonings. Rub the spices in with your fingers. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours, turning the meat every 2 hours.

Face it, these steaks are not going to cook evenly because the meat is so uneven. This isn’t a cut of meat, it’s a hack. So toss them in a hot dry frying pan and sear one side for about 2 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium and cook that side another 3-4 minutes. Crank up the heat and repeat the process for the other side. If you have a nice grill, use it. The important thing is to accept that the thin part of the meat will be well done, and the thick parts will be medium rare. Let the meat rest a couple minutes while you finish off the veg and the tater tots or whatever, and serve. We made this last night and it was the most tender and tasty steak we’d had in ages. The apple flavor comes through with just a tiny hint of the vinegar for piquancy, with the garlic and shallots and brown sugar in the seasoning making great little highlights.

Goes well with Mencia wine, which makes a nice break from the endless cycle of Cabs and Merlots, and is itself a great bargain that gives loads of flavor for the price. Open the wine and pour or decant before you start cooking as it needs half an hour to an hour to breathe.

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$17 and worth it


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 02/16/2012 at 11:10 AM   
Filed Under: • Fine-Dining •  
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