Sunday, May 31, 2009
I ran across a description of Samgyeopsal not too long ago. It is a fairly simple Korean dish consisting of grilled pork belly served with various accompaniments. Pictured above is some sliced, brined (see here for more on this) pork belly. It is very pretty, isn't it? Now, brining is not traditional in this dish but I thought it would add some nice flavor.
I simply threw the slices on a very hot grill for a couple of minutes on each side and served them on some moo shu wrappers.
I forgot to take a picture of the sauce I used, it is a very tasty chile based condiment that I picked up at Kim's on Central Ave. The bottle looks like this, it happened to get captured in a random picture.
These wraps turned out pretty good. I enjoyed the meatier pieces of belly but I still can't get used to the chewy texture of the very fatty pieces. It is funny that this very texture is appreciated as a delicacy in many Asian cuisines. This is just another example of how your upbringing shapes your palate. Anyhow, if you make this yourself, go for the meatier bellies and cut them about a quarter of an inch thick. Some green onions would probably have been pretty good in there too.
For no good reason what so ever I watched the film "Gummo" last night after a couple glasses of diet Materva spiked with some Rebel Yell. I don't particularly like this movie much, but it had come up in conversation for some reason and I watched it to refresh my memory. I was also looking at the wiki for the film and found the this quote-
"Werner Herzog praised the film in a conversation between himself and Harmony Korine, published in the November 1997 issue of Interview magazine. Herzog spoke of being especially moved by the bacon taped to the wall during the bathtub scene."
Of course, I made note to keep an eye out as the above capture attests. I always liked Werner Herzog, "Stroszek" is a great film. But anyways, that is bacon taped to the wall. Without purpose or explanation.
Sort of New Stewart's on 155 in Guilderland. Also, Documentation of Locally Themed Ice Cream Flavors.
It is my opinion that every Capital Region resident should be able to drive to at least three Stewart's (see here for a past post on the foibles of our own beloved Stewart's) within 15 minutes should the need for tasty snacks hit them unexpectedly. So it is big news to me when a new shop goes up. This particular one went up some months ago, but I am a busy man and did not make a visit until last night.
The new Stewart's, strangely enough, is pretty much just like every other Stewart's in the universe. However, this one has not acquired that certain patina that one might be used to from other locations (I am looking at you Hoosick Street's shop). This will come with age.
I didn't spy too many unusual or new items save this one-
Mmmm, fish fillet sandwich. I don't know if you can read it, but in the bottom corner it says "75% bigger than McDonald's!" I resisted the urge to inquire into their methods of fish sandwich measurement, that might have been too much cheek for the somewhat haggard looking young miss behind the counter. I am no expert on McDonald's fish sandwiches, in fact, don't know that I have ever had one. This one didn't look too big to me.
While I was there I decided to get some pictures of their locally themed ice cream flavors. I thought it might be fun to put together a little database of sorts, so if you know of any others I missed let me know.
First we have my favorite, "Crumbs Along the Mohawk." This is a reference to both the mighty Mohawk river as well as the novel/film "Drums Along the Mohawk."
Here is "Adirondack Bear Paw," referring to the majestic Adirondack Mountains-
"Chocolate Trifecta" gives a shout out to the Saratoga Racetrack.
The somewhat more obscure "Kaydeross Kreme," which is named for a creek and park in Saratoga County of which I could find only a picture.
I trust everyone had a pleasant weekend and best wishes for a great week. This week has special significance to me and I am planning a celebratory cookout in the near future. I am thinking about calling it the "Pork-ocalypse!" It will definitely involve a trip to Rolf's. More on this later.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
As you may or may not know, I am a hot dog fanatic. You will find me at my happiest munching on a Nathan's famous at Saratoga Race track while waiting to see if my trifecta will hit (see here for more on this). I usually prefer our own local Capital Region hot dog styles (see Capital Region Hot Dog Micro-Region), but recently I saw something on TV about the Chicago Style hot dog. After a little research I found that the Vienna Beef company's products pretty much define this particular hot dog variation.
The online store sells a handy "Condiment Pack" consisting of celery salt, sport peppers, Chicago relish, and Plochman's yellow mustard. This was 34.95$ shipped.
The other components of the Chicago dog (the actual wurst, sliced tomato, onion, and poppyseed bun) I will have to procure myself. I am not sold on this concept, I am a hot dog minimalist (mustard, bun, dog.), but we shall see. I am feeling under the weather this weekend so this might have to wait until I am up to another cookout. I also need to try to find a proper Chicago style hot dog sausage. We shall see.
Friday, May 29, 2009
So I was ambling through the local grocery-mart (P-chops, Guilderland) tonight when I came upon this. Here we have "Curly's Bucket O' Ribs." It is advertised as the equivalent of a whole rack of pork ribs. In a bucket. I am a big advocate of food in buckets, so I had to purchase this at the somewhat exorbitant price of 9.99$. There is something uniquely American about a bucket full of ribs, don't you think?
With great anticipation I removed the lid of the bucket. As it turns out, the ribs are vacuum packed in a plastic bag.
I was getting worried that the bucket might not be as involved in the rib consuming process as I had hoped. However, I was encouraged when the heating instructions called for pouring the contents of the bag into the "microwave safe" bucket. As the ribs are precooked, one only needs to heat them through in the microwave. Here is what we have after about 5 minutes.
I was kind of disappointed at the scant quantity of ribs. I expected to get a little more out of the 10 bucks I shelled out. This looked like a mere snack for an arch meatsman like myself. The aroma was good, they actually smelled much better than they looked. I dipped a spoon into the accompanying sauce and, I am almost ashamed to say, it was pretty darn good. Very spicy with a nice smokiness. I threw a couple of the stubby (but fairly meaty) ribs onto a plate.
As I was gobbling up the ribs I was struck by the fact that I was actually enjoying them. I expected the Bucket O' Ribs to be very processed tasting like some of the other ready made, pre-sauced, vacuum packed ribs that I have had the misfortune to sample. These little guys were good and meaty with a distinct smoke flavor, and I don't mean that rancid fake-smoke that you get in some low quality "barbecue" style products. They tasted like they had been smoked over actual wood.
I bought these as a goof, but they really weren't that bad. Don't get me wrong, the 10 dollar price is crazed at best. I guess you pay extra for the classy experience of eating pork out of a bucket. I don't think I will get these again but the experience was not a total bust. To put things in perspective I just got a full rack of pork ribs, probably 4 to 5 times the amount of meat, for like 6.50$. With my handy home smoker I could whip up a mess of ribs that would put these to shame. But then I wouldn't have the satisfaction of giving my wife a sauce covered smile as I fish meat out of a sauce filled bucket.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
I was poking through the meat case at Price Chopper on Friday when I came across this beautiful piece of beef at an excellent price. It is a 4 pound, 2 rib roast and it was very reasonable at 18$ and some change. They usually cut these guys a little bigger and the corresponding price increase usually scares me off. I was off to a cook out and I thought some bloody rare prime rib might be a welcomed change of pace from the usual outdoor meats.
I smeared the roast with butter and seasoned it very well. This went into the oven at 450 for 15 minutes at which time I lowered the temperature to 325 and flapped the oven door a couple times to get the temp down a little quicker. Another 45 minutes produced what I think is perfect prime rib. That is to say, fairly bloody rare.
I chopped the roast up into large hunks which I thought was a humorously ridiculous way to serve the meat. I left the two ribs on the plate in case anybody got the urge to gnaw the delicious scraps of meat off of them.
This was a little too rare for some squeamish folks, but this was easily remedied by a couple minutes on the grill.
I also made some Yorkshire Pudding with the drippings from the roast. You turn the oven back up to 450, throw the roasting pan in the oven until the drippings smoke and then pour in the batter. I use 1 1/2 cups of milk, 6 eggs, 1 1/2 cups flour, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Whisk the batter until smooth and chill for a couple of hours. It is done after about 15-20 minutes in the oven.
I love Yorkshire pudding, it is light and eggy and the beef drippings give it a nice richness. Both of the dishes seemed to go over pretty good, but I was drinking a couple beers and kind of forgot to eat any of it. This always seems to happen to me at cookouts.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
I had a sort of odd bit of pork belly left over from one of my experiments and I was perplexed as to what to do with it. I had seen some recipes care of Fergus Henderson floating around concerning brined bellies and I decided to give it a whirl on a small scale.
I simply submerged the pound or two of belly in about 2 quarts of water with a cup of sugar, a cup of salt, and a few peppercorns. The Henderson recipe calls for a few more spices but I omitted them. The pork stays in the brine, refrigerated, for 3 days. After this time I simply roasted it on a rack at 375 for about one and a half hours.
I was pretty impressed with the results. The pig skin was delightfully crispy, the meat was flavorful, and the fat was meltingly tender. Biting into a hunk of this is a singular experience, the crisp exterior gives way to an unctuous and rich rush of fattiness. Delicious. What you have here is essentially giant bacon pieces, so wrap your mind around how good that sounds. I will probably be refining this method and trying it again some time.
Ha ha, Hasselhoff! These are actually a spin on Hasselback Potatoes, a simple recipe that is thoroughly delicious. I got the idea off of the food Reddit. You take some good ol' russet tatties and slice them almost all the way through. You want to get the slices as thin as you can so they crisp up. I find that using a serrated bread knife does the job best.
I basted these all over with a generous amount of butter, seasoned, and put in a 350 degree oven. I wanted to gild the lily a little so I fried up some bacon to go in the crannies.
I didn't cook the bacon all the way through so it didn't burn when I put it inside the tatties. The potatoes take a little over an hour to cook and the bacon goes in for the last 20 minutes to give them a little tasty grease.
I am bringing these along to a cookout that I am going to later today. I have some other dishes that I will share if I don't get too tipsy to take pictures of them. I bought a standing rib roast and I think I will make some Yorkshire Pudding with the drippings, I am in a traditional kind of mood this weekend.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
I used to work across the river over in Troy, NY and one of my favorite lunch spots was always Al Baraki. I have heard that the Troy location has since changed over to something new but the Lark Street location is going strong. One of my favorite items was their kibbeh wrap. It was a nice slice of loaf style kibbeh (as opposed to the torpedo shaped ones), hummus, some sort of spicy white sauce, lettuce, tomato, and pickles. I have tried a couple of times to recreate the kibbeh part of the wrap at home and this weekend I think I came up with the closest imitation to date.
I started by soaking about 2 cups of bulgur. After about an hour I used a kitchen towel to squeeze excess moisture out.
Kibbeh in pie form generally has a sort of "crust". The crust generally seems to be the same ingredients as the rest of the loaf, but with a higher ratio of bulgur. I used about 2 cups of soaked bulgur, 1 cup of ground beef, 1 medium onion, teaspoon cumin, teaspoon hot paprika, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and salt/pepper. All of this went into the food processor until smooth. For the body of the loaf I used a little more onion and spices, about a 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour, and a ratio of about 2 cups bulgur to 2 and 1/2 cups of ground beef. I pressed most of the crust mixture into the bottom and sides of a casserole and filled with the other meat mixture. I finished by topping with some more of the crust mixture, drizzling with olive oil, and dusting with some more cumin and cinnamon.
This was covered with foil and place in a 350 degree oven for an hour. I then removed the foil and let it go for another 30 minutes. The whole loaf was probably about 3 pounds or so. It came out looking very ugly but smelling awful good.
When cooled a little bit I sliced some 1/2 inch thick rectangles and served them on some whole wheat pita bread. For condiments I used some prepared hummus as well as some store bought tzatziki sauce that I had thinned with water and added a little horseradish to.
It was very delicious and I finally got the texture of the kibbeh closer to the pros over at Al Baraki. I think I had previously not been using enough bulgur. By the way, I have been very excited about good ol' bulgur lately. If you can get the whole grain version it is packed with fiber and wonderfully good for you. I have been brainstorming other uses for it as opposed to simply in Middle Eastern fare, but I haven't really thought of anything yet.
Ever wanted to watch a video where a gyrating, scantily clad, mullet having, 80's man dances while kneading some whole wheat bread dough? Well, Mr. Dave has indulged your fantasy this Sunday morning. Check out this gem of the internet that I came across this morning, it gets good after about 20 seconds.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Some time ago I got an email from the lovely folks over at the POM Wonderful juice company wondering if I might like to sample their product. I, of course, said yes and eagerly waited the arrival of my juice. I have tried the POM Teas before and thought they were really very good. I have not had the 100% pomegranate juice yet so I was pretty excited when the above box landed on my front step the other day. Pomegranate juice has many possibilities both as a beverage and as an ingredient in cooking, so I was eager to experiment.
I unpacked the box and was confronted by 8 attractively packaged bottles of juice-
The bottles have sort of a feminine, Venus of Willendorf feel to them and they are appropriately sized at 8 ounces. Only 150 calories a shot. I immediately gave one to the wife, who is a juice fiend, and she cracked it open. She seemed to like it and said that it had a pleasant tartness and tasted very much like an actual pomegranate (makes sense in light of the whole 100% pomegranate juice thing).
As a first test I decided to see how the stuff played in a cocktail. I have a bunch of homemade Green Tea Vodka so I thought this would be a good accompaniment to the juice. I used 1 bottle of POM Juice, 2 cups of green tea vodka, and a 16 ounce bottle of diet lemon lime soda. I would have preferred to use sparkling water but I did not have any handy. All of this went into a pitcher with plenty of ice.
This was a very nice early summer drink. The green tea and pomegranate go very well together as the scads of bottled juices out there with this combo can testify. A little carbonation was nice as well, and it was tart and sweet. I am usually a pretty strict beer and whiskey guy, so the fact that I enjoyed this is fairly surprising.
I am looking forward to doing something with the rest of the POM juice. I have been experimenting with a lot of Middle Eastern dishes as of late and pomegranate factors in many of these recipes. Perhaps I might venture to attempt a Persian recipe or two as well. Anyways, my thanks to the POM company for laying some juice on me. I appreciate it immensely.
As you know, I am a true lover of poultry (see here for duck, and here for pheasant). So, when I found a Capon in the freezer section at Price Chopper I was pretty excited. A capon is a rooster that has been castrated when young and this results in a large, fatty bird that is less aggressive than your everyday cock of the walk. The process is known as caponisation, which is the greatest word to enter my vocabulary in quite a while. From know on I am going to threaten to caponize my enemies. In the past, capon was a fairly common alternative to female chickens or pullets. The wiki says something about it being common knowledge that monks had a certain weakness for capon which is pretty funny. Anyhow, I decided to buy this 8 pound bird and roast it up to see what it was like. I paid a little over 8 dollars, so it was a fairly inexpensive experiment.
Here he is thawed and removed of his packaging-
I read up on methods of dealing with capon and saw lots of references to brining them. I did not have the time, patience, or a big enough bucket to do this so I decided to simply roast it. I rubbed the capon all over with butter that I pulsed in my processor with a bunch of herbs (parsley, marjoram, basil, and thyme). A little salt and cracked pepper and into the oven he went. I started off at 450 for 20 and then lowered it down to 375 for about two hours, basting throughout. I made a minor miscalculation and did not lower the rack sufficiently, so I got a little burning on the top of the bird. This was only a minor tragedy as some of the skin remained nicely brown and the bird was actually very juicy despite the appearance.
I let the bird rest for a few minutes and then sampled the breast meat. I liked it, it had a very pronounced "chicken" flavor and was somewhat more toothsome than a normal roaster. As always, it is pretty hard to describe the flavor precisely. As for the dark meat, it was very rich and tasty. The legs were huge, almost like turkey drum sticks. On the down side, this is way more poultry than I can consume on my own. The wife won't help out, apparently capon is one of the thousands of foods that fall into her "weird" category. It looks like I am going to have quite a lot of capon soup taking up room in my freezer, but maybe I can think of something else to do with the leftovers.
As I needed some poultry fat for the Choucroute Garnie that I am planning to make with my homemade sauerkraut, I reserved the fat from the roasting pan. I can not wait to make this dish which is the ultimate expression of conspicuous pork consumption.