Saturday, October 17, 2009

Mocha Creme Brulee

A silky custard with notes of coffee and chocolate topped with a crisp sugar crust.

10 g espresso roast coffee beans, lightly cracked but not ground
2 oz semi-sweet chocolate
2 2/3 C cream
5 egg yolks
5 T sugar
2-3 t vanilla extract
light brown sugar to top

Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees. Heat the creme, chocolate, and coffee beans in the top of a double boiler while mixing with a whisk to combine. Continue to heat the double boiler (without boiling the cream) until the coffee flavor has been introduced; meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light. Slowly pour the cream in to the egg yolks, whisking continuously to prevent cooking the yolks. Whisk in the vanilla. Strain the mixture to remove the coffee grounds before pouring in to ramekins. Place the ramekins in to a pan and pour hot water around the ramekins to about half way up their sides. Bake these until a knife inserted in the center of the custard comes out almost clean (there should be some custard on it, but metal should be visible). This takes ~40 minutes, depending on oven and ramekin size. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before refrigerating for at least 3 hours.
To serve, apply a thin layer of brown sugar to the top and caramelize with a cooking torch; this can be done under a broiler, but the results will be inferior. Alternatively judicious application of a workshop propane torch could also work.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Venison Pastrami

So this is going to be a real basic idea of things, as this was a first attempt under less than ideal circumstances: First, corn the venison (use an inside round or the like), making sure that it's very well trimmed and cut to uniform thickness (I halved mine to about 3/4 inch thickness).

2-2.5 lbs lean venison
Quart of water
half cup kosher salt
large handful brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2/3 t black mustard seeds
2/3 t peppercorns
4 cloves
4 allspice
6 juniper berries
2 bay leaves
1/2 t ground ginger
1 lb ice

Mix everything except the meat and ice and bring to a low boil. Add the ice, then add the meat. Let sit in the fridge for 10 days in a sealed bag making sure the meat remains submerged.

After that, drain off the brine, then you have an option: if you smoke this as is it'll be salty, damned salty. It's not bad if you stick it on a sandwich at the end with a slice of swiss and some burn your sinuses German mustard, but will be too much straight up. If you want to cut the salt I suggest at least half an hour soak in cold water before proceeding*  (See note below). For the next step, you'll need a rub and to put it on smoke (I used hickory, but applewood or mesquite could both work depending on taste [sweeter vs. southwestern]). Give it the first two hours fairly cold, around 130 F, then give it 2-3 hours at 210 F to cook the meat. When you get done you should have a smoke ring in the meat that comes in a third of the depth on both sides and leaves the meat fully cooked.

For the rub before smoking:

1.5 T paprika
2 T coriander
2 T brown sugar
2 T pepper
2 T black mustard seed (crushed, and this can make it fairly hot, feel free to cut down some)
4 t garlic powder
You may end up with more or less rub than you need, ultimately just make sure you have enough to pack down on the meat in a layer that sticks. Anything that falls off is fine, just means you had a little too much; don't try to force the rub in to the meat; it's already pretty heavily seasoned.
Slice it fairly thinly and serve with HOT mustard and swiss, or as a standard reuben.

* Note: in the most recent batch of this is one I actually soaked the corned venison overnight with a couple of changes of water, and I think the salt content ended up just right.  I also didn't add salt to the rub.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Smoked Salmon Spread

I had some smoked salmon left over from making sushi, and inspiration hit. Food processor it with cream cheese and a pinch of salt, spread on crackers, stick a couple of capers on top... perfect.

I'm going to guess a package of smoked salmon to a little less than a packet of cream cheese, but add the cream cheese in slowly and make sure to scrape the processor down a couple of times. Ultimately the mixture should be a nice uniform pink. A couple of capers to each cracker really makes it.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Thai Drunken Noodles

~ 8oz Asian noodles, cooked al dente according to instructions (I used a Chinese egg noodle, but Thai rice noodles would also work)
5-6 dried shitake, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes then chopped
two eggs
3-4 T vegetable oil
1/4 C fish sauce
1/4 C black soy sauce (or soy sauce with a touch of molasses)
1/4 C golden mountain sauce (could substitute soy sauce, but just wouldn't be the same)
generous pinch of sugar
2 shallots, finely chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
Thai chiles to taste, finely chopped (this should be fairly spicy. Serranos could be substituted in place of Thai chiles)
large handful of basil, roughly chopped (try to find Thai basil, has more of an anise note that works well here)

Heat the oil in a wok, saute the shallot, garlic, and chiles; push those up the sides and stir fry / scramble the eggs. Toss in the mushrooms and noodles, and stir fry briefly before adding the sauces. Stir fry for another couple of minutes tossing thoroughly. The basil leaves should be added at the last minute.

This is one of those recipes that can easily be modified, adding bean sprouts at the end of cooking, fried tofu after the eggs (or unfried tofu before the eggs), and just about any veggie you might want. Adding in ground pork or chicken before the eggs would also be traditional (the eggs could also be omitted if you added meat or tofu, but I like them in it)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Vegetarian wontons

~ 4 oz tofu, pressed and finely chopped
4-5 dried shitake mushrooms, prepared as Seasoned Mushrooms
half carrot, finely chopped
1-2 shallots, finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1-2 T soy sauce
1-2 t Chinese rice wine
splash sesame oil
wonton wrappers

Mix all of the ingredients except the wrappers in a bowl and allow to sit for half an hour. Place in wrappers, sealing the edges in the typical fashion with a little water. So far I've only fried these (350 degree F oil until golden brown) and served them with a little soy, but I could see them working in wonton soup. It should be noted that for these to be truly vegetarian a low sodium vegetable broth or water should be substituted for the dashi when preparing the mushrooms.

Seasoned mushrooms

Two handfuls of dried shitake mushrooms
1 C dashi
1/4 C soy sauce
splash mirin
splash sake

Take dried shitake mushrooms and soak in hot water for 20 minutes or so; remove and trim off stems while reserving the cooking liquid. Add the cooking liquid to a pan with dashi, soy sauce, mirin, and sake. Put in the mushrooms, making sure that they are in a single layer all in the liquid. Simmer over medium to medium low until most of the liquid is gone, turning the mushrooms once or twice. These can be used for sushi, drunken noodles, vegetarian wontons, or anywhere else shitakes might be used.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Two cans of chick peas (garbanzo beans)
3-6 T tahini (very roughly)
lemon juice
olive oil
minced garlic

This is a very basic recipe, just toss everything in the food processor and adjust to taste and texture preference. As a bit of guideline, make sure you don't go too light on the tahini; early on my roommate in under grad who taught me to make hummus accused me of making poor man's hummus when I didn't put enough tahini in (tahini is the most expensive ingredient). The oil is what you vary to control the texture; I typically put in less than restaurants do because I like mine thick enough to stick to pita and with less fat. Generally You'll want to toss in 4-5 cloves of garlic to start, along with several tablespoons of lemon juice, about 3 T of tahini, a healthy splash of olive oil, and a hefty pinch of salt. From there just keep adjusting until you have something the consistency you want (for me thick and spreadable, for your typical version more akin to a sauce) with a nice rich taste and just enough garlic to wonder if you should go find a toothbrush before continuing your date (I'll save you the questioning: you should). Serve with pita.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


This is one I made some time ago and turned out spectacularly, but isn't much of a recipe in that there aren't any amounts. To make it you'll really have to do what I did and mix a little spice in, pan fry a small amount, taste, adjust, and continue until you like the flavor. Try not to eat the whole batch in this process :p
So, ingredients:
Pork shoulder
Salt pork
Caraway seed

The dominant flavors in this (roughly in order) should be caraway, allspice, and garlic, but it takes some work to find the balance; either add the spices slowly or reserve some of the meat in case you over season. The salt pork is there to add extra fat if needed (it's easy to tell if the sausage is too lean as it'll be dry when cooked). Traditionally bratwurst is a force meat, meaning that it's pureed rather than ground; I don't puree mine, but instead double grind it to achieve a finer texture. Once you have the seasoning correct stuff it in casings (hint: using the tip of a small knife to prick the end of the casing just above the starting knot will help eliminate the initial bubble of air). Tradition would call for a hot German mustard, but a little ketchup wouldn't be considered high blasphemy.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Chiles Rellenos

Tonight was a first for me in attempting chiles rellenos, and I don't yet have anything I would call a recipe, but as general idea: saute of onion, garlic, and serrano, then add a mixture of ground beef and pork. Season with cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, ancho, and some paprika. A can of corn (and this is one of those things I'm thinking of changing, namely to hominy to give a richer corn taste and more texture without as much sweetness) and a little chicken stock to round it out. I stuffed that mixture in to roasted and peeled poblanos with a sprinkle of monteray jack cheese and baked it; battering and frying would be a more typical approach, but given the mess of trying to keep the peppers together with the stuffing I'm glad I went with the baking for the first run. All in all it turned out fairly well, but if you have any thoughts I'd love to have some new view points.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Carolina Style Pulled Pork BBQ

This is my take on a Carolina pulled pork BBQ prepared on the stove top with rosemary. The rosemary makes it veer away from traditional, and Carolina BBQ can vary between tomato and vinegar/mustard based (this splits the difference and leaves the mustard by the wayside), but it works remarkably well.

pork (two to three inch thick pork chops, trimmed of fat, roughly 2 lbs)
2 onions (minced or quartered, depending on preference)
4-5 cloves garlic (minced)
1/2 c vinegar (adjust to taste)
2.5-3 capfuls liquid smoke
2 handfuls sugar
salt to taste
1 t paprika
1-2 t rosemary
1-2 t black pepper (ground)
2 bayleaves

Saute onions and garlic then add water to fill pot and cover other ingredients. Boil the other ingredients until almost dry, but leave some liquid for the meat to soak up later; remove from heat. Shred meat and put back in pot.

little water
3 cloves garlic
1 t rosemary
1/2 t black pepper
1/4 c vinegar (adjust to taste)
handful dark brown sugar
1 T lemon juice
1/3 small can tomato paste
splash balsamic vinegar

Boil sauce ingredients separately from the meat until syrupy and mixed. Add sauce to shredded meat and heat on low for a couple of minutes while stirring to mix flavors. This can also be done as a side so you can adjust the amount of sauce you put on each serving of pulled pork.