Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Do these infrequent, quasi-food oriented, random video posts bother anyone? See Extreme Rice, Salty Ham, Hey Alan, Sausagegate, and 80's Wheat Bread for more. Anyways, this one is a fake GI Joe PSA that I found very funny for god knows what reason. There is strong language, so kiddies don't watch. I trust everyone is having a pleasant evening, and goodnight.
Just wanted to make sure any arch meatsmen out there were informed that P-chops is currently selling (as of right now, 17:00, 9/30/09) whole Australian beef tenderloins (PSMOs) for 5.99 a pound! Sizes range between 4 and 7 pounds. This is a great deal and I could not discern a scam of any sort going on. The expiration dates aren't close and I don't think the meat has been adulterated in any way. I will let you know about the quality of the one I purchased.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
If you remember, some weeks back I presided over a pig roast (see here). As I stated in that post, I got a little soused and forgot to take pictures of the end product. It turns out a friend managed to snap a couple, just thought that I would share.
Mmmmm..... Pig carcass. Sweet pig carcass.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
There's nuthin' like the onset of the fall season to make a tried and true Upstate New York boy (Appleknocker) like myself wax poetic about his home region. Fall, and everything that comes along with it around here, makes me love where I am from. The leaves changing, the solemn grayness of the cold weather, the celebration of Autumn foods and traditions all get me excited come late September. I already have a couple heady winter brews fermenting away in my newly chilly kitchen and I can't wait to start indulging myself with heavy fall cooking. Another way I like to herald the coming of the fall season is to go over to Altamont Orchards to gobble up some of their fresh, warm cider donuts. This rainy Sunday I did just that.
We decided that actual apple picking might be a bridge too far today as it rained all night. We did not want young Giblet's first apple picking experience to be soggy and miserable. Arriving at Altamont Orchards we found that there was a haunted house going on. We didn't go in, but we did get a photo of Giblet next to the fierce demon who haunts barrels of cider apples.
We browsed the apples first.
Macs, Cortlands, Macouns, Red Delicious, Fuji, whatever your apple craving heart desires by the bushel, 1/2 bushel, etc... They also have a nice selection of pumpkins, root vegetables, peppers, and a few other orchard fruits. Mrs. Dave got a small bag of Paula Reds and we picked up some cooking apples for my mom.
Altamont Orchards has a country store-esque space that peddles all sorts of local, folksy products. Think jams, pickles, relishes, stuff like that. A lot of it is pretty pricey, but you can still find some deals. I was excited to see a cold case filled with bacon! I think my hand was shaking a little with excitement, so excuse the poor picture.
I picked up a small pack of cinnamon bacon and a somewhat larger package of applewood smoked seasoning bacon chunks. I was very excited for the cinnamon bacon, that sounds like an excellent flavor combination to me.
There is a large bakery section as well with all sorts of homemade pies, danishes, cookies, etc..
The real stars of the bakery at Altamont Orchards are the Cider Donuts. They make them fresh, all day, in an open kitchen you can peek into. A half dozen is 3.99, and to me that is a bargain. They come warm and kissed with just enough unctuous grease. They are small, but not over small, maybe four bites worth. Light, fluffy, pillows of cinnamon/sugar goodness. I ate 2 and a half. Get them early in the season because come October people will be queueing out the doors waiting for donuts.
My wife also likes the apple fritters, you have to be lucky to get these fresh and warm, but I have seen it.
There is also a small snack bar in the back peddling hot chocolate, soup, and stuff like that. Today they had chili. I saw someone walk by with a serving and had to get a bowl to split with the wife.
The chili was served with a sprinkling of orange cheese and fresh, diced, white onion and some saltines on the side. It was thin and mildly spicy, possibly canned, but maybe not. I don't care, sitting with the wee 'un and the wife at one of the little tables amongst the orchard's homey surroundings made it taste very good. We even gave Giblet a small taste of the spicy stuff, she was gleeful. More evidence to me that she is a future fearless wild woman.
Anyways, if you are from the area take a trip out there and buy some apples. Give them to your mom or something, she will appreciate it and you really don't get over to see your mum enough, now do you? I will let you know if the bacon is any good.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
I bought some пельмени (pelmeni)at Dnipro Market the other day. Pelmeni are the original frozen convenience food. They are very popular in Siberia where they were, in the past, frozen outdoors. They are basically dumpling/ravioli like, but very tasty in a simple and hearty kind of way. In Russia, frozen pelmeni are notorious as a sort of Bachelor Chow for single men, being very easy to prepare. I purchased some pork filled ones that looked pretty good. I will be cooking these two ways, boiled and boiled then fried.
They go into a rolling boil for about 8 minutes after they float to the surface.
That is pretty much it, buttered and then topped with a little smetana they were delicious. The ingredients listed for the filling are very simple. Pork, onion, salt, and dill are it. No preservatives or other weirdness in there so they had a fresh, homemade taste.
If you don't know, smetana is some serious stuff. It is usually described as Russian sour cream, but it is kind of a different animal than the stuff you may be used to. It is super thick, about the consistency of soft serve icecream.
I also fried up some boiled pelmeni in the lovely grease of the Polish bacon I got at Dnipro (are you tired of me raving about this stuff yet?
They cooked until lightly browned and crisp.
Both cooking methods produced a delicious result. I am a big fan of meat centered/dough wrapped foods (asian dumplings, ravioli, pirogi, varyniki, etc...). I love that nearly every culture has its own version and that it usually represents the epitome of homey comfort food. I recommend trying these out if you stop by Dnipro.
I put the PayPal "Bacon Fund" donation thing on the sidebar of this blog as kind of a goof. Maybe passing fancies of some benevolent and magnificently wealthy bacon lover dropping a couple million in there briefly danced across my mind, but mostly I just thought having a "Bacon Fund" donation box was funny. To my great surprise I just received a PayPal email saying that someone had deposited 25 bucks! It was a most gracious woman named Gretchen out of southern, AZ. This was very generous.
I was thinking of what do with this money, I wouldn't feel right spending it on myself (it is a donation). So I decided to spend it on something of mutual interest to myself and Gretchen. She mentioned in her message that she is a pseudo-survivalist like myself, and enjoyed my Canned Butter and Cheese post (also see Backpacker's Pantry Chana Masala, Vegetarian MRE, and Powdered Peanut Butter, and Heater Meal). I had my eye on the Pleasant Hill Grain canned meat line. The 5 meat (beef chunks, ground beef, pork chunks, chicken, and turkey) sampler pack happened to be almost exactly 25 bucks (sans shipping) so I ordered it. When it comes I shall give it a review and see if it is fit to take to my fortified anti-zombie lair in the hills and the post shall be dedicated to my benefactor (Gretchen).
Thanks again Gretchen, you rule!
Friday, September 25, 2009
There is one member of the Mr. Dave household who does not often get to partake in any of my culinary machinations due to a somewhat underdeveloped gastrointestinal tract. She is my lovely wee 'un, young Giblet (most beauteous of all young humans). She has hardily endorsed a certain product with loud munching and smiles, so I thought I would share for any of my babied readers. I have noticed a fickle streak in my daughter at the very tender age of 8 months, there are certain jars of baby mush that she will turn her darling button nose up at. She prefers Beechnut (to me a sure sign of a budding locavore)in the jars, I think she is old fashioned. However, she will suffer certain items from the massive Gerber Co., one of them being "Lil' Crunchies."
These are, in effect, baby cheese doodles (I know because I ate a bunch of them and got thoroughly chastised by Mrs. Dave). My young Giblet could be right in the middle of a thunderous hissy-fit, but throw some of these bad boys in front of her and she smiles and is pleased as punch. She will sit happily crunching away until you stop her. I feel a little guilty giving them to her, but she loves them so. I am hoping that her unadulterated love of these things is evidence of a budding appreciation for cheeses, and not a budding appreciation for junk food.
Her comments are as follows- "Bah, mmmmm, mamamamamamaa, ahhhhhhhhh, phbbhbhbhbhtttt!"
Not a food post here, more of a nerd post, but still local. I snapped the above picture on Washington Ave, right before you turn onto Fuller Road. If you don't know to what this bumper sticker refers, and don't think it is pretty much awesome, read about Gordon Freeman and the Half-Life Series. Then go buy the Orange Box and I will see you in a month. I found out that you can buy the bumper sticker over on Valve's site at this link ("Dog is my copilot," too!).
Here is some bacon that I cooked last night to bring us back on topic, be sure you read this morning's other post on Morbiflette.
G-man thinks that you have limitlesssss potential.
I happened to come into possession of a couple high quality ingredients (cheese and bacon. Surprised? No...me neither) that were aching to be combined in some sort of simple and complementary way. After some research I found Morbiflette (apparently a cousin of Tartiflette). Morbiflette is a potato/cheese/bacon dish which sounded perfect for larding my belly against the impending cold weather.
I have posted about Eats in Stuyvesant plaza before, so you know that I often stop by there to satisfy my stinky cheese desires. The other day I stopped in and bought a beautiful wedge of Morbier cheese. Morbier is an interesting French cheese which was traditionally made with the night's milking topped off by the next morning's with the layers separated by ash.
This cheese is fairly stinky on the stinky cheese scale. I left it in my wife's car for about 15 minutes during a quick errand on the way home. When I returned I definitely checked the baby's diaper before realizing it was the delicious odor of the fromage.
I had also stopped by the Dnipro Market in Cohoes (as you know from this post), so I had some absolutely lovely bacon too.
This is a quick home style dish of the sort that I love, under five ingredients and no fancy technique. Just roughly chop the bacon and throw in a pan until it gives up a little of its grease. Through in an onion, likewise roughly chopped, and fry until golden brown.
Next step is to throw in the potatoes. These should be skinned, boiled until tender but not falling apart, and cut into rounds. Add to the pan and cook further until everything is a good, crisp mess.
Top with thick slices of the Morbier.
Run under a broiler until the cheese melts, Morbier melts very nicely.
And there you have it. A hearty dish for the fall weather. Although this may look like something of a side dish to our twisted American psyches, the Morbiflette is actually substantial enough for a main dish. Wash it down with good beer and open your belt. Then go climb a snowy Alpine peak or something. Needless to say I enjoyed this dish very much.
Monday, September 21, 2009
So I stopped by the new Juicy Burger in Guilderland (155 a little north of 20 in that plaza with the Kem cleaners) during their Grand Opening the other night. Thought maybe you might like to hear my thoughts. This was my first Juicy Burger experience, I have not been to the Balston Spa location.
Walking in, the decor is a little more posh than your standard burger joint, very modern and spare with big screen tellies around the space. You order at the counter (friendly young lass when I was there) and then have a sit down at a table until they bring you your food. You can eat in and be presented with actual dinnerware or take your prize to go.
I ordered 2 burgers, their classic cheeseburger for the very classic Mrs. Dave and a bleu cheese burger for myself, medium rare of course (menu link here). In addition, I got a couple beverages and two orders of their Yukon gold French fries. The fries come in 1/2 lbs orders served in paper bags. I like the paper bag thing, it brings back memories of when my dad would take me to Jack's Diner on central and get me a greasy bag of krinkle cut diner fries to go. The whole meal is pictured above. Lets talk about the price here, 24 and change for the lot. A little steep in my book and I'm no pauper. Compared to other pseudo-fast food burger joints (Five Guys I'm looking at you) this is very expensive.
Burger verdict: Well, we have a case of truth in advertising here. This was possibly the juiciest burger I have ever had. The thing was very literally dripping with juice. I tried to capture it in the below photo.
Maybe you can see the juices that have dripped onto the burger wrapper. I don't know how they do this, possibly some sort of science or chemistry afoot. Perhaps it is simply their cooking methods, I have heard they have some super broiler thing that seals in the moistness. Maybe they use the old couple o' ice cubes in the center of the patty trick, I don't know. The real standout of the burger sandwich is the bun. It is dense and moist without being too dense and it holds up well against the torrent of meat juice released by every bite of burger. One thing I will say, mine was a touch bit salty, but this may have been the bleu cheese.
Fry Verdict: I hate to say it folks, my socks were not knocked off. Don't get me wrong, these were good fries, but I am still on about the 24 dollar thing. Not 24 dollars worth of good. I guess using the Five Guys comparison is not out of place as they are probably the most comparable establishment in the area, and Five Guys fries win. No contest. I will have to try the sweet potato fries and onion rings at Juicy Burgers as the fries were not tasty enough to justify the carbohydrate bomb they represent.
Juicy Burgers is literally right up the road from me so I hazard that I will be making return trips when I get that rare hankering for a burger. Do they offer my Platonic ideal of a hamburger sandwich? No, but they are really very decent and I am hard to please. However if you are closer to Five Guys, go to Five Guys. Better product for less money. Sorry Juicy Burgers, I wanted to love you. Unfortunately, you are only my late night burger booty call.
I read about the Dnipro Market in Cohoes, NY on the wonderful All Over Albany Blog (check out AoA if you are local, it is top notch). One out of my various strange talents is that I speak a pretty good Russian. I am always looking to test out my skills, so I thought it might be fun to check it out and see if I couldn't translate some of the food labels.
Dnipro specializes in both Russian and Polish goods, groceries and meats. The market is immaculately clean in a nice, well lit space. It is not over large, but there is still a decent selection. There was a Russian speaking couple in the market when I arrived who were seriously stocking up, they must have bought a little of everything in the store. I took this as a good sign in regards to the quality/authenticity of the products, it seemed like these people had traveled a ways to get to Dnipro. I tried to eavesdrop to see if they could lead me towards anything good and I ended up buying some kabonosy because of them.
The first thing in the store that will draw your attention is the large meat case running the length of the store. It was filled with exotic meaty delights of all descriptions, they even had salo.
Here is the other half.
I didn't catch a shot of the fish case as Slavic seafood is not something I know a heck of a lot about. But if that is your thing, it was chock full of all sorts of smoked fishes and other odd bits and ends.
Can you guess what immediately drew my eye? Check out this bacon, to me it was beautiful.
It was a Polish brand and had the label of "hunter bacon." A pound was about 6.00$ which I thought very reasonable. It was a massive amount of bacon. I also bought a couple kabanosi (kind of like very long, smokey hotdogs), pelmeni, lutinica, sour cream (сметана), and some rye bread.
In addition I had to pick this up.
This was "Army Brand Chopped Pork Pattie Loaf" in a fetching camo can from a Polish manufacturer.
I look forward to trying all of this stuff, I have already consumed some of the bacon. Let me tell you folks, that is some serious bacon. Good enough to warrant its own post when I get to it. The bread was also outstanding. All in all, I was very impressed with the place and will definitely take another trip out. It is a nice change of pace if anything. I recommend checking it out if you are in Cohoes.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Lest you think I am being original here, I totally was inspired by a posting on This Is Why You're Fat for this one. By the way, thisiswhyyourefat.com is coming out with a book shortly and early indications are that my recipe for the White Castle Breakfast Bake might be in there, I will let you know. Anyway, the idea of using a Cha Siu Bao as a bun for a tasty sandwich was absolute genius to my sensibilities and I had to give it a go. I started with some beautiful, hamburger roll sized, steamed buns that I picked up at the Asian Supermarket.
The following picture illustrates that these buns were already filled with porky goodness before I got at them with my own machinations.
Inside of the sliced pork bun I first put some leftover Dinosaur BBQ pulled pork that I had on hand. To top this off I decided to roast up some slices of pork belly.
I baked the belly off at 375 deg. in the oven until it was good and crisp. When it was slightly cooled I slathered it with some ready made Cha Siu sauce.
The crisp slices of belly went on top of the pulled pork on top of the steamed pork bun.
Oh boy, tucking into one of these bad boys was like biting into little puffy pieces of heaven. The contrast of fluffy steamed bun, crispy pork belly , and meaty pulled pork pork with all of the sweet/tangy flavors of the various sauces was delicious. The experience was like eating a pretty plausible faux burger. The bao are kind of like hamburger buns, the cha siu belly is like bacon, and the pulled pork acts as the de facto meaty center. I thoroughly enjoyed this experiment, in fact, I have some mini steamed buns in the freezer and I think a tiny version of this would make a divine appetizer. I am going to try it out on friends at the very next gathering I attend.