Saturday, February 25, 2017

Nothing Says OooMerrrGerrrd like Making Your Own Bacon

It's true.  What the title says.
I am talking pork bacon, but you could make other bacons probably with this spice recipe as long as you have enough fat and you're not trying it with some sort of turkey tenderloin or other non-bacon-like substance.
There's some fun aromas in this recipe and I absolutely credit Fatty Crab/Cue dude, Zak Palaccio, though I did mess with the levels a teensie bit and added Aleppo Pepper.


Fennel, Coriander, Chili Bacon

Ingredients

  • 1 oz. coriander seed
  • 1/2 oz fennel seed
  • 1/2 oz. black pepper
  • 1/4 oz. Aleppo pepper
  • 1/4 oz. dried puyo chilis or birds eye or something small and heaty
  • 1 oz. kosher salt
  • 2 Tb. palm sugar
  • 1/2 oz cilantro stems, chopped
  • 2# pork belly

Directions

  1. Buy the pork belly.  Try to make sure it's close to 1" thick for the entire length/width of the slab.
  2. Pull out your spice grinder and grind the first 7 ingredients (read: not the cilanto stems) in sessions, putting the ground goodness into some bowl.
  3. Add the chopped cilantro stems to the bowl.  I did not grind the cilantro stems because they will just gum up the spice grinder, which sucks to clean and get off.  So just chop fine and add.
  4. Pull out some plastic wrap.   Cover one side of the pork belly with 1/2 the ground mixture and cover that side with plastic wrap.  Flip the pork belly and put the rest of the mixture on the pork belly.  Cover the rest of the pork belly with plastic wrap.
  5. Place the wrapped pork belly into the fridge for 5-8 days.
  6. Remove plastic wrap from pork belly and brush off the spices from the pork belly.  Let pork belly sit outside the smoker while it comes to temperature.
  7. Prepare smoker at around 200-225F with either fruit woods or oak or hickory - probably not mesquite.  Start the smoke going.
  8. Put the pork belly into the smoker and smoke it for several hours until the internal temperature of the pork belly is 175F (fully cooked temperature).
  9. Fry, Bake or Eat the pork belly

Monday, February 20, 2017

Extra Sunchokes? Roast 'Em with Chicken

We have chosen to get an allotment of goods from the farmers' market on a regular basis.  Besides the normal showing up at the market and getting stuff, we also have a delivery that comes every week.  During the happy, spring, summer and autumn months, there is plenty of variety of goods.
Winter is a challenge.  I dread seeing the same apples that were picked in October, so when we can, we ask for other choices, typically a range of root vegetables.
One such visiting root vegetable is the Jerusalem artichoke / Sunchoke.   They're very easy to roast and offer nice texture and flavor.  I typically roast them alone at medium heat with herbs and olive oil, but in this recipe, they're under high heat with the chicken.
Just added the wine & olives


Roasted Chicken with Sunchokes

Ingredients

  • 2-3# skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs, cut up
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1+2 Tb olive oil
  • 1 lemon, with grated zest
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 Tb fried garlic
  • 1 # sunchokes, peeled
  • 3 medium red onions
  • 2 tsp dried herbes de Provence
  • 1 c. white wine
  • 1 c. green or black olives

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and rub with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place chicken in a shallow roasting pan; set aside. Zest the lemon into long strips, and squeeze juice from lemon into a small bowl. Set aside juice.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine lemon zest, garlics, Jerusalem artichokes, onions, and herbs. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil; season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat, and arrange in pan around chicken. Roast until chicken is golden brown, about 40 minutes.
  3. Remove from oven. Add reserved lemon juice, wine, and olives; stir up any browned bit`s on the bottom of roasting pan with a wooden spoon. Return to oven, and continue cooking until liquid has thickened slightly, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and transfer to serving plates. Garnish with grated lemon zest.
Based on a Martha Stewart recipe.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Fish Sauce

This recipe is a standard at our house.  My daughter loves it and therefore, given that the main ingredient is the potentially challenging Brussels Sprout, it is a staple.
You can deep fry the Brussels Sprouts, like David Chang or Brian Voltaggio, but it's still pretty damn good to just roast them at high heat for 25 minutes - and relatively more healthy.

Ingredients

  • 1# Brussels Sprouts, halved (or quartered)
  • 2-4 Tb canola, vegetable or peanut oil
  • 1/4 c. fish sauce
  • 2 Tb water
  • 2 Tb rice wine vinegar
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 Tb granulated sugar
  • 1 Tb chili paste (e.g.; Sambal Oelek)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425F
  2. Mix the cut Brussels Sprouts with the oil.  Lay them out on a baking sheet and then put the sheet in the oven for 25 minutes.
  3. In a small jar, mix the remaining ingredients.
  4. When the Brussels Sprouts are out of the oven, put them in a shallow bowl and place about 1/2 of the ingredients in the jar with the sprouts.  Taste one to see if it works for you.  If it needs more, add more sauce from the jar.
So easy.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Meatloaf with Moroccan Spices

While we're on an middle eastern / north African bent, here's a decent recipe yanked from the NYTimes for meatloaf some nice earthy, north African spicing.   You can use ketchup as a side sauce, but why not try the yogurt, pine nut & lemon juice?

Ingredients


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, more as needed
  • 1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 12 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 to 2 medium stalks celery, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 large carrot, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 3 inches fresh ginger root, peeled and  minced (about 1/3 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 7 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • ½ cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup whole­wheat bread crumbs
  • 2# ground lamb

Side Sauce
  • ½ c. pine nuts, toasted 
  • 1c. plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 Tb lemon juice

Directions

1.       Heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat, then add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for another minute or two. Add the celery, carrots and ginger, and cook for about 5 minutes, adding more olive oil as needed to make sure ingredients are well coated and softening.
2.       Add the spices: cumin, smoked paprika, coriander, cinnamon and salt, stirring well to mix. (You can alter spices to your liking, with more or less of those recommended or adding curry powder, nutmeg, allspice, black or cayenne pepper.) Add the tomato paste and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring well and scraping the bottom of the pan with a spatula to ensure the spices don’t burn. Once mixture is cooked, remove pan from heat and let cool for about 15 minutes.
3.       Meanwhile, combine in a large bowl the fresh herbs (cilantro, mint and parsley) and the eggs and bread crumbs. Add the ground lamb and the cooled mixture. Mix well with clean hands, until all ingredients are blended.
4.       Place the mixture into a 9­by­5­inch loaf pan and cover with aluminum foil. Create a water bath by placing the loaf pan into a larger baking pan and filling the larger pan halfway with lukewarm water.
5.       Put the meatloaf, in the bath, into the oven and cook for about 1 hour 30 minutes. After an hour, check the meatloaf, and remove the foil if you would like a firmer top. Bake until internal temperature reaches 140 degrees.
6.       Remove pans from the oven, lift the loaf pan out of the water bath, and let the meatloaf cool for at least 5 minutes. If there is excessive grease, carefully pour that out and discard it. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cooled, depending on your taste.

7.       Side Sauce: Mix the yogurt, lemon juice and pine nuts together with a spoon, and serve in a small dish on the side.

Smoky Baba Ghanoush

With or without some smoking time on this, it's still a good dip.  If you don't think you've added enough smoked paprika or you're worried about its flavor interfering with smokiness, then I would definitely setup a 2265F smoker for the eggplant.  You can skip the whole roasting step, but then the smoking will take longer.  But if you roast and then smoke, you can impart a stronger smoke flavor without all of the time that it would take to roast the eggplants in the smoker.

Ingredients

  • 3 medium eggplants
  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • 2 Tb garlic
  • 1 Tb tahini
  • 3 Tb lemon juice
  •  1 tsp smoked paprika
  •  ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 Tb hot sauce
  •  2 Tb chopped parsley
  • Salt to Taste
  • Pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450F
  2. Place eggplants baking sheet and roast for 1 hour, turning eggplants every 15-30 minutes.  
  3. Optional:Setup smoker at 225F. Smoke the roasted eggplants another 1-2 hours
  4. Put colander over bowl.  Scoop out flesh and place in colander; discard skins.  Let flesh drain, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes
  5. Toast cumin on stove with paprika until aroma permeates – 30 seconds
  6. Transfer eggplants to medium bowl and mash with fork.
  7. Stir in garlic, tahini, lemon juice, paprika, cumin and parsley.
  8. Slowly add olive oil while stirring.
  9. Season with salt and pepper.



Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Super Fast and Easy Faux Caesar Salad Dressing

It's not really caesar salad dressing.
But it is quick and tasty and on days when I'm busy all day and don't really have the opportunity to do much work beyond work, I need alternatives.

Quick!  Chop up some greens.  Even better, grab a few different greens from the fridge and chop 'em good.  Maybe I'll even chop up some carrots.  Or maybe not.  But greens are good.  Eat more greens.

So on to the recipe which is based most fervently on my lovely wife's faux caesar recipe.

  • 1/4 c. lemon juice
  • 1/4 c. champagne vinegar
  • 1 small can of anchovies including oil
  • 1 Tb fried garlic, or just minced garlic
  • 1 HEAPING Tb Dijon mustard
  • 1 good dash (maybe 1-2 tsp) Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 1 blender / Vitamix
You don't eat the Vitamix, don't worry.
But just blend those ingredients together.  You can blend them all at once, or do all of them and then slowly add the olive oil at the end - your choice.  I think a great deal depends on the blender and your taste.  The Vitamix can really just churn everything into a frothy mix no matter what, so don't worry about adding the oil later for that.  You could put anything in it and it'll still come out frothy and nice.

Anyhow - quick recipe!  Use it!  Improve it!