Saturday, December 20, 2014
Here is a fun and easy appetizer. It is a take on a ‘Jalapeno Popper’ with bacon of course. Cheese, jalapenos, and bacon are baked with refrigerator bisquits in a muffin pan. Simple, but with a ton of rich, ooey goodness is this appetizer. I call it deconstructed because it sounds fancy. The jalapenos with its mild to medium heat are the perfect compliment to rich cream cheese. We throw in some Jack cheese to make it over the top decadent. Wait a minute. Did I mention bacon? Salty, meaty bacon is the star as far as I am concerned. Let’s make some de-constructed bacon jalapeno poppers.
I can of refrigerator flaky bisquits
1 8 ounce block of cream cheese (softened)
1 cup of shredded cheese of your choice (We used Jack)
Salt & pepper to taste
3 jalapenos chopped fine
4 slices of bacon cooked crisp (reserve bacon fat)
Cook your bacon until crisp and let cool. You can use the bacon fat to grease your muffin pan. (Non-stick spray could be used but why would you want to waste bacon love). Combine the cheeses, jalapenos, salt & pepper and chopped bacon. Pop open your refrigerator rolls and separate rolls in half. They will peal apart fairly easy. Line each muffin tin with dough. Place cheese and bacon mixture into center of dough. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bisquits are browned. See I told you it was easy.
This mixture of ingredients will meld together to form a wonderful appetizer for any party application. These even taste great the next day. I ate them cold and really enjoyed them. Ms. Goofy would have no part of that and reheated them to even greater glory. Once again bacon saves the day.
Thursday, December 18, 2014
Tis the season for 'Jalapeno Bacon Cheese Roll'. Is there not a season for these fabulous ingredients. To be honest I had nothing to do with this festive dish. I only got to see the picture. Ms. Goofy and her sister Shastina had a get together and served this Christmas festive log of great ingredients. Ms. Goofy has promised to make it for me in a couple of days. Here is the recipe so you can make it too. RECIPE
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
French fries, cheese curds and gravy sounds like some of my favorite food groups. North of the border, Quebec in particular they are combined and given a fancy title called Poutine. This so-called Quebec classic has been getting a lot of publicity lately. In Berkeley, California, ‘Smoke’s Poutinerie’ is a new chain restaurant to open in this non-hipster but possibly aging hippy college town once known as the birthplace of the ‘Free Speech Movement”. We will be visiting Smoke’s Poutinerie for strictly academic purposes to see what all the hub bub is about.
Smokes Poutinerie is located one block off of Telegraph and a stones throw away from the infamous ‘Peoples Park”. This neighborhood is full of restaurants, record stores, head shops, and clothing stores all catering to the college crowd. Smoke’s Poutinerie is a very small shop sandwiched right smack in the middle of all the action. The streets are crowded and so is Smokes. There are no tables but several counters to stand and eat your poutine meal. Smokes offers the traditional poutine of fries, curds and gravy, but also has numerous other toppings to add. Some of these toppings are chicken, pork, beef, and even an all vegetable combination. The prices are low for the college crowd. I found a “Triple Pork” topping which consists of bacon. sausage and pulled pork. The order was placed and almost immediately my number was called to retrieve my meal.
Your order comes in a Chinese style take out box. It is full to the brim of fries and your toppings. I squeezed into a small spot at the counter and dug in. This was an exercise in calorie overload. This Mad Meat Genius has an appetite that can challenge any trencherman and I was put to the test. The fries were hot and fresh. They were drenched in pulled pork with a sweet barbeque sauce. The word sweet needs to be emphasized. The sausage was plentiful and tasty. I could see bacon pieces but the flavor was overshadowed by sweet bbq sauce. The cheese curds added mostly a texture component. They also added to the overall bulking up of this filling caloric bomb of a meal.
Smokes Poutinerie has all the right move to be a success. They are located in a bustling student area. The prices are very reasonable. This was a very filling meal. The food was more than generously proportioned. The flavors were decent. There is a combination on the menu for everyone. I wanted to try some Poutine. I did. It really was not something I would come back for. If I ever was a starving college student again and it was late at night, then by all means Smokes Poutinerie would be my go to spot. Do old hippies turn into new hipsters?
2518 Durant Avenue,
Berkeley, CA 94704
Sunday, December 14, 2014
A recent trip to the newly opened Clove & Hoof procured some Berkshire bacon. We may have been the first customers to actually purchase some of their house cured and smoked bacon. While chatting with Jason the butcher I inquired if they were going to sell bacon. He said; ' let me check' and when he returned he had a dark hunk of 'Burnin Bacon Love' in his hand. This slab had been smoked with a combination of smoking woods with no particular variety in mind. The rind was on. If you have read previous bacon stories you know that I am not a fan of the rind. Smoking with the rind on limits smoke penetration to the meat. The rind is indelible unless you have jaws of steel or you like to swallow gum. To be fair the butcher asked me if I would like it removed. We purchased a couple of pounds and hurried home to try it.
The small slab that we purchased had a very slight suggestion of smoke aroma. The meat to fat ration leaned towards the fat side. You could see the quality of Berkshire in the fat color. It was not chalky white as in super market variety offerings. Our trusty black iron pan was put to use crisping our rashers for the future pleasure to come. The cooked slices were placed on a paper towel to drains any excess bacon love and cool.. Drum roll please, how did it taste?
The bacon crisped up very nicely. This bacon had an almost mild beefy flavor. The Berkshire breed of pig has a flavor of pork that makes you appreciate, crave and savor porky love. The all important balance of sugar and salt was spot on. Ms. Goofy gave the paws up approval. This bacon was not perfect. The rind was on, smoke was faint and it was not the meatiest bacon but the flavor of Berkshire pork trumps all. This was very flavorful bacon. I also believe Clove & Hoofs offering of bacon will evolve as their butcher shop matures. We cannot wait to try some more.
Clove & Hoof
Thursday, December 11, 2014
He Just Smiled and Gave Me a Vegemite Sandwich
and He Said,
Our inspiration today comes from Gusfacegrillah who is a meat genius and wordsmith from the great 'Land Down Under', He made a stuffed burger using a condiment that is foreign to me as his native home of Australia. This condiment is Vegemite. Vegemite is a food spread that is made of brewers yeast and barley malt extract. It is spread on toast and enjoyed by Australians (?). Today we are going to duplicate his burger that is stuffed with cheese and vegemite. This burger also has a crust that consists of ketchup and Vegemite. Our first step is to find some Vegemite.
It was not terribly hard to find some Vegemite. The Berkeley Bowl West carried it in the incorrect 'British Section". The British like Vegemites distant cousin Marmite. Another story for a different day. When I was in the checkout line an Australian expatriate asked me; "Are you Vegemitrous, Mate?" I have no idea what that means so I just smiled and gave him a Vegemite sandwich. But seriously folks, what is Vegemite?
We are back home and the top was removed from this mystery condiment. 'Holy La Brea Tar Pit" this is a dark black gelatinous mass. The ingredients are; yeast extract, malt extract, salt, spices, coloring and various things that are warned; "Suitable for Vegetarians".Malty aromas escapes the open container. Of course a Vegemite sandwich was made. WOW what a salt bomb. This left me smacking my lips for a gulp of water. There also was a malty, mushroom kind of flavor that if I could get past the salt would want another bite. In a strange way I actually enjoyed it. This ingredient just might add that extras sensory flavor called umami. (Umami is a hipster term for you will be paying more for less and telling everybody how great it is and you do not get it).
Burgers were formed with an interior layer of cheese and vegemite. As you can see this Mad Meat Genius did not skimp on the beef. A slurry of ketchup and vegemite was made to brush over our burger to form a crust. (I briefly heated the ketchup mixture in the microwave to help combine ingredients). Today's burgers were cooked on the flat top inside. I would of preferred to grill them outside but we are hunkered down for an impending rain storm. Even though the smoke alarms were screaming the house smelled wonderful. The ketchup/Vegemite mixture formed a meat crust that was spectacular.
We served our burgers on some home made potato rolls with pickles, avocado and Berkshire bacon as accompaniments. The verdict? This was a messy, sloppy, salty most ultimate burger ever. The center of the burger had warm gooey cheese with a flavor enhanced by the Vegemite that had you craving the next bite. The exterior meat crust was the most ultimate flavor boost. This ketchup/ Vegemite slurry ccaramelized to form my new go to technique. If there was any fault in this ultimate burger was the hit of saltiness. I did season the burger meat which will not happen again. I dug this burger. I have plans to use Vegemite as a future flavor ingredient. It does add an extra boost of yumminess that has you craving more.Thanks Gusfacegrillah. The link to his original recipe is below.
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Hoshigaki, it not just for breakfast anymore. Will wonders never cease. We actually found some Hoshigaki at the Farmers Market. The day before we begun the process of making our own. This was a first because I have never actually tried it or found it for sale. I have only read about it and saw Huell's video about Hoshigaki. How did it taste? It was a little chewy with deep persimmon flavor. The texture was like a dried fruit roll sometimes called fruit leather. I was a little surprised it was not a little sweeter. You can see the crystallized sugar on the surface. I enjoyed it and hope my attempt to make Hoshigaki is succesful
Sunday, December 7, 2014
Twice a month this Mad Meat Genius manages the Richmond Farmers Market. One fantastic perk of being involved with the market is coming home with the freshest in season produce. Persimmons are in the market right now There are two different varieties of persimmons the Fuyu and Hachiya. The Fuyu variety can be eaten crisp like an apple. The Hachiya needs to be fully ripened to the soft stage before it can be eaten.The Japanese have a method of drying the Hachiya called Hosigaki and is considered a delicacy. These persimmons are air dried and believe it or not periodically massaged. This is a labor intesive process hence a high price tag if you can even find them. This sounds like a good experiment for me.
As some of you may know I am a big fan of the late great Huell Howser. He is my inspiration for this experiment. He toured a persimmon farm and they created Hosigaki. There is a link below if you would like to watch this episode. The process is fairly simple. You peel the Hachiya persimmon. A string is tied around the stem. The stringed, peeled persimmon is hung in a dry warm place. The first week they are left alone. Then for the next several weeks they are then gently massaged until they are dried to the desired texture. This can take up to two months. I have done the initial steps. Stay tuned and hopefully we will have created Hosigaki.
Huell Howser and Hosigaki