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.