Chilebrown at home

Friday, November 30, 2012


 We received several messages about the opening of a new meat market in Larkspur California. Belcampo Meat Company is our destination for today’s meat adventure. Belcampo is located across from the Golden Gate ferry terminal right next to ‘Marin Brewing Company”. Now that is what I am talking about, we can have our craft brewed micro beer, buy a steak for dinner and then take the ferry home. We could even dine at Belcampo because they have a sit down restaurant or take-out deli. I am liking this place before we have even stepped through the door.

 Belcampo calls their-selves a “‘Boutique Business’ that maintains a traditional butcher shop for consumers that are looking for exceptional taste and are responsible land and animal stewards.” Grass fed, pasture raised, safe, healthy, humane meat, delicious, organic, grass finished are selling points that are emphasized about Belcampo meats. We just want a steak.

The new modern sit down restaurant and market occupy the front of building while the take-out counter and butcher counter occupies the back. We met Chris Arentz; the head butcher that is culinary trained and has a passion for ’all things butchery’. He guided us through the meat case and answered our numerous meat specific questions. The selection of meats is still a work in process. I was disappointed that they did not have bacon, specific cuts of pork or house charcuterie to offer. Chris promised in the future bacon will be available. There was some good looking beef available, especially the bone-in New York strip.  A New York steak painted  deep dark red with exceptional fat marbling  called to us.

 After peppering Chris with questions and flashing him a Mad Meat Genius card he gifted us a tub of ‘Lardo Butter”. This was no ordinary butter. It was cured pork fat from the back loin that had been whipped and mixed with rosemary, thyme, garlic and salt & pepper. Lardo is Decadence with a capital D. This creamy, rich spread was sampled on some French bread. I have died and gone to pork fat heaven.

 As some of you know I am not the biggest fan of anything grass fed. I approached dinner with great reserve. This steak would have to be cooked to perfection. A dusting of salt & pepper and a hot grill will transform this pedigreed protein to our dinner plate. When this steak hit 120 degrees it was immediately taken off the grill and put to a covered plate to rest. WOW!!!!!! Tender with a  rich deep beefy flavor was something I did not expect. . The 27 day dry aging process, the minimal seasoning and precise cooking made this a memorable steak experience.

 Belcampo Meats is an establishment that needs further investigation. We were very happy with our New York steak. We are looking forward to trying the restaurant. We defiantly will return to sample the bacon. If you want to visit Belcampo’s meat counter be prepared to spend premium prices for some great beef. Give us a call before you go and we will take the ferry and meet you at the micro-brewery.

2406 Larkspur Landing Circle, Bldg 4
Larkspur, Ca. 94939
415 448-5810

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Our friend Chris from ‘Nibble Me This’ continues to be an inspiration to us at the grill. One of his latest projects was barbequed pickles. Grilling cucumbers and onions brings out the natural sugars and imparts a smoky flavor. Throw in some pepper flakes and pickling liquid and you will have one tasty snack or accompaniment. We picked up some fresh cucumbers and dill at the Richmond Farmers market. The fuel to kiss our future pickles with smoky love will be mesquite charcoal. The rest of our ingredients will be found in the Chilebrown pantry.

  • Cucumbers slice in half or quarter
  • Onion, slice in wedges and secure with toothpick
  • Fresh dill
  • Garlic cloves
  • Cauliflower, Carrots, Jalapenos (Optional)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • Pepper flakes to taste

Grill cucumbers and onions over hot fire until grill marks appear. You are only charring these vegetables. Do not overcook. Place your vegetables in jars with pepper flakes and dill sprigs.
  Combine water, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a pan and heat until solids are dissolved. Cool slightly and pour over vegetables. Place lid on jar and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate.

You can eat the pickles as soon as they have cooled in the refrigerator. They will have more flavor after several days. This recipe and procedure is simple and fun. The results are pickles that are smoky, sweet and spicy. This will be a new Chilebrown staple.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Do you ever have leftover bacon and wonder what do you do with it? This is a very rare occurrence at the Mad Meat Genius household. Strange as it sounds we actually have some bacon to spare today. We have found a fun recipe by the food writer and blogger Julia Van Rosendaal ' After reading the ingredients, I am not sure the dogs will even get a chance to sample this bacon studded cookie.

Doggie Bacon Biscotti
6 slices bacon, chopped
canola or olive oil (optional)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup oats
1 tsp. baking  powder
1/2 cup water
2 large eggs
1/4 cup bacon drippings or canola oil
2 Tbsp. honey
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a skillet set over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until crisp; remove with a slotted spoon and set aside, reserving the drippings. Pour the drippings into a measuring cup; if you need to, add canola or olive oil until you have 1/4 cup. (If you like, discard the bacon drippings entirely and just use oil.)
3. In a large bowl, combine the flours, oats and baking powder. In a small bowl, stir together the water, eggs, bacon drippings and/or oil, and honey; add to the dry ingredients along with the cooked and crumbled bacon and stir until blended.
4. Shape the dough into a log that is about 12” long, place on an ungreased baking sheet and flatten until it’s about 6” wide. If you like, brush the top with a little beaten egg to give it a shiny finish. Bake for about 30 minutes, until firm.
5. Reduce the oven temperature to 250° F. Cool the log and cut it on a slight diagonal into 1/2” -1” thick slices using a sharp, serrated knife. Place the biscotti upright on the baking sheet, keeping them spaced about 1/2” apart, and put them back into the oven for another half an hour. If you want them hard, turn the oven off but leave them inside to harden as the oven cools.
Makes about 1 1/2 dozen biscotti. Store in a tightly covered container in the fridge, or freeze.

Of course I had to try these cookies for quality control purposes. Oscar & Lucy are some lucky Golden Retriever Lap Dogs because they are going to get some tasty treats. We did use whole wheat flour from Community Grains. This ingredient may qualify this treat as being healthy for the pups. They do not seem to care, because just like me, they love BACON.
  Thankyou Julia Van Rosendaal, for allowing me to share your fun recipe.

Friday, November 23, 2012


Community Grains grows and mills a very special whole grain flour. This flour contains all the natural nutrients that are in the original grain that are lost with conventional milling. One hundred percent of the germ, bran and endosperm are included in this flour. With conventional milling the three components are separated and if whole wheat flour is desired these parts are reconstituted. This grain is local, grown in the Woodland California area. The health benefits of whole wheat flour are superior to your standard white flour. Whole wheat flour performs differently than all purpose flour so adjustments to recipes will be necessary. Today we are making Ciabatta bread. We are using the recipe from the Community Grain website. Here is the recipe we used.

The process of baking bread is a special experience. The proofing of the yeast, the kneading of the dough, the rising, the wonderful smells of baking and ultimately eating your creation cannot be experienced by words alone. This recipe uses a lot of water and can be challenging. This dough is sticky and a little difficult to manage. The end results are worth the effort.

Our bread was delicious. It had a nutty flavor that made this bread special. Our bread did not have the large round air pockets inside the crust like the videos results. I believe that I did not mix the initial dough long enough in the mixer to form gluten. I am not the best example of following instructions. Still this bread was a success. Creating and experiencing fresh bread is what it is all about.

Community Grains

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


 We are extending an olive branch to the Mad Meat Genius readers. This branch is laden with cured olives. Yes, you read correctly, cured olives. ‘Branch & Brine’ has taken Manzanillo olives that are still on the branch and brined them with a salty solution. The leaves remain fresh and the olives are a tasty treat. This fun and novel approach to cured olives would make a great presentation to your plate. I just love eating these little salty green orbs. The olives come in a double wrapped resealable Ziploc bag for easy storage. They can be found at the Santa Rosa farmers market or you can order directly from ‘Branch & Brine’.

Monday, November 19, 2012


We are going to revisit and once again try the dish Carne Machaca. Machaca is a dried beef product that has been marinated, cooked, dried and shredded. Our last experience with Machaca the results were less than stellar. Salty, with a funky off putting odor was a little too much. Andres Jaramillo, President of ‘Don Pedro’s Meat’ offered us a sample of Machaca that he produced. He claims that his popular Machaca was made with lean beef, salt & pepper, slow cooked and dried. We took him up on his offer and will try this beloved Mexican dish again. I am bringing out a secret weapon this endeavor. Ray, my friend and accomplished Chef will be making us breakfast with our Machaca. He used to own the very popular Mexican restaurant ‘Margaritas’ in Martinez California. This should be a very tasty experiment.

When I walked into Ray’s kitchen the aromas were intoxicating. The smell of fresh tortillas on the grill and onions and peppers cooking made me swoon with anticipation. We were going to cook the Machaca with sautéed onions, jalapeno peppers, tomatoes and eggs. We cut open the package of Machaca and took a whiff. It was very pleasant smelling. It smelled of dried beef. It was chopped very finely almost to a powder consistency. We took a little pinch and gave it a try. It was tasty with a beefy flavor. It was on the salty side straight out of the package.

Ray sautéed the onions/tomato mixture until it was soft and fragrant. We then added the whole package of Machaca. We later found out that we only needed to use several tablespoons. The mixture was cooked for several minutes before we added beaten eggs. No additional salt was added. Several more minutes of cooking and our breakfast was ready. Home made fresh tortillas, salsa, a cheese & pasilla chile dish, refried beans and our star ‘Huevos con Macha’ lined our breakfast table. A tortilla was our canvas. The painting consisted of a scoop of our Machaca and egg mixture with a little dab of salsa.

This was dish was an outstanding success. It smelled heavenly. A deep rich beef flavor permeated our egg mixture. The level of salt was perfect and accented the other ingredients. Because this beef was chopped so finely it practically melted and became one with the eggs. The peppers and salsa was warming. This was a comforting breakfast. The fresh tortillas with Machaca eggs have made me a convert. Ray is one hell of a cook. Is it okay to take a siesta right after eating breakfast?

Don Pedro’s Meats is located in Southern California. They not only make Machaca but other Jerky’s, dried meats, chorizo and salsas. Thanks to Andres Jaramillo for introducing us to some great tasting Machaca.  Thanks to Chef Ray for being a great friend and cook.

Don Pedro’s Meat
725 E. Edna Place
Covina, Ca. 91723

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Romanesco cauliflower, broccoli, Monsanto experiment gone awry or delicious Italian heirloom vegetable will be on the barbeque today. This vegetable is referred to as a cauliflower and or broccoli at the same time. It is apple green and looks like a moon rock or craggily corral from under the sea. This vegetable is an eye catcher which grabbed us at the Santa Rosa farmers market. We talked to the farmer and asked his advice on cooking this spiraling, whirling, crater, nub studded vegetable. He said he would take a whole head and roast it in the oven. This was a no brainer. My oven will be a custom barbeque fueled by smoking hot mesquite charcoal. We only bought ½ head which weighed out to 1 ½ pound.

The preparation was simple. A slight mist of olive oil and a sprinkling of coarse sea salt covered our Romanesco. A small cast iron pan cradled this creature to protect it from direct fire. Our barbeque acts like an oven. We can control the temperature with accuracy by the position of the vents. If you were to use a home oven, I would suggest a temperature of 400 degrees. We roasted our cauliflower for 30 minutes. When we removed the broccoli the nubs had crisped and browned to a crispy texture. We took some scissors and trimmed the stalks from the stems.

We cooked our Romanesco cauliflower so it still had a crunch and still a little chewy to the bite. The browned nubs were sweet and crunchy. The stalks had a pleasant nutty flavor. This was a vegetable packed full of flavor. It did have the flavors and textures of both a cauliflower and broccoli. What a fun and scary looking vegetable. This is produce that I definitely will purchase again.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


The Bulgarian carrot chile is an eye catching chile. Its shape and color mimics a ‘Bugs Bunny’ prop that we all love. These peppers were found at the ‘Santa Rosa Farmer’s market. When I find new or unusual peppers, a hot sauce is one way to sample its heat and flavor. A fairly simple recipe is used and any pepper can be substituted. Once my sauce is made it is put into recycled hot sauce bottles. (I have a garage full) Several of my friends love to be ‘Guinea Pigs’ in my experiments. Not all of my creations are successes. One time the sauces fermented and blew the tops off and made a huge mess in the kitchen. Today we are using a secret ingredient of some smoked olive oil. This unique product is created by the “The Smoked Olive”. Let’s go to the kitchen.

Bulgarian Carrot Chile Hot Sauce

  • ½ pound of Bulgarian carrot chile (remove stems and chop into several pieces)
  • ½ small onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup of vinegar
  • ½ cup of water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (honey)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons of smoked olive oil (optional)

Place all ingredients except smoked olive oil in a sauté pan. Bring to simmer and cook for 15 minutes or vegetables become soft. Let mixture cool slightly. Place ingredients into food processor and add smoked olive oil. Puree mixture and add additional water to desired consistency. Let cool and place into bottles with a funnel. When cool refrigerate.

Here is the million dollar question. Did it taste like carrots? There was a subtle carrot flavor that most likely came from the added carrot. This pepper flavor was mild that was not very unique. The pepper did meld well with the other ingredients. This sauce has a medium heat that warms your mouth with pepper bliss. The heat level tipped the meter 2 stars out of 5. The smoked olive oil was an added bonus for adding a subtle smoke flavor. The Bulgarian carrot chile is thick skinned and full of seeds. This created a very thick sauce. This sauce worked well because of the balance and combination of ingredients.
   It is always fun to experiment with chiles. This recipe can be used with any chiles that you desire. Today’s Bulgarian Chile Hot Sauce was a success. It will not last very long.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Berbere is an Ethiopian spice mix. We have it in a sauce form which can be used as a marinade or a dipping sauce. Our sauce comes from our friend Larry at Peppahead. He says his sauce is a pungent and fragrent African Blend with unique flavor. The ingredients are ‘berbere spice blend’, red wine vinegar, coconut milk, shallots, tomato paste, chiles and sea salt. This is a unique sauce. The smell is very complex. Cinnamon, cloves, vinegar, chiles are several aromas I detect. Larry says it is great as a marinade for lamb or chicken. We are going to fire up the grill and try the berbere sauce with some chicken.

The sauce was slathered over some chicken thighs and put in the Chilebrown ice cave for several hours. A medium mesquite charcoal fire was built in our old trusty and faithful Weber. We cooked the thighs with the vents closed half way and the cover on. We turned the chicken several times. When the thighs internal temperature reached 165 degrees we removed them and let them rest on a covered plate.
   The thighs were juicy and very flavorful. The key word tonight is unique. This was a flavor that was unfamiliar to our palate. Coconut milk, vinegar with a mix of pepper and spices created a slight heat and flavor that wreaked havoc with our Western tastes. Can you call it a curry? The spices had a slight earthy flavor. There were so many spices that may or may not be in this mix. Cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and garlic is my guess. Did we like it? I liked it because of its unique flavor and slight heat. It is fun to experience new taste sensations. Ms. Goofy was not so impressed. If you would like to experience something that is a little exotic and different, it is available through Larry at Peppahead.


Saturday, November 10, 2012


A thermometer is an essential tool for great cooking results on a grill, smoker or even your indoor stove/oven. The Cadillac Brougham model of thermometers is the Thermapen. It is lightning fast, accurate, and water resistant. They come in various colors but sometimes a special limited edition model will come out with special logos or color designs.We have found a company, ThermaSkins that will customize your Thermapen with any design you can imagine. Now anybody can have their own special thermometer. A custom Mad Meat Genius Thermapen was born.

This idea competes with sliced bread in my book. Download an image and ThermaSkin will create a decal that will perfectly fit your thermometer. Installation could not be simpler. Peal of the backing and carefully place decal on your thermometer. I cannot wait to show off my new essential cooking tool. What a perfect excuse to fire up the grill.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


We are mounting our horses and sauntering down to Tanya Holland’s cowboy themed BBQ restaurant ‘B-Side BBQ’. We are not sure our horses will be outside when we finish because this BBQ joint is located in the Wild West Oakland California. Thankfully we got a parking spot out front. Safely inside this small restaurant we were pleasantly greeted with a cowboy themed décor. Tables that had brand markings were corralled by walls decorated with old west pictures. We lassoed a table and surveyed the menu. We made our choices and placed our orders. Guess who walked through the door and sat right next to us? Yes you are right, it was Narsai David. This would be a celebrity fueled lunch.

The menu has the usual BBQ fair with meats and side dishes. Everything is ordered separately and is priced on the high side. All dishes are accompanied by some pickled vegetables and some ‘Texas Toast’ that is made with ‘Acme Pain de Mie”. B-Side has a full bar and a good selection of micro beers to choose from. Most bbq restaurants offer a plate with a combination of meats so you can sample a variety of their offerings. This was not the case here so I ordered a plate of brown sugar rubbed brisket and a plate of ‘St. Louis Dark & Stormy’ ribs. Ms. Goofy ordered a pulled pork sandwich and a side of mac & cheese. Narsai ordered a few different plates and an appetizer of deep fired okra that he shared with us.

Our food arrived and it looked picture perfect. Let’s start with Ms. Goofy’s sandwich. This large ‘Semifreddi’ roll surrounded and cradled pulled pork saturated with hot vinegar sauce and topped high with spicy slaw. Ms. Goofy had a choice of spicy or mild slaw and made the wrong choice. The cook was a little too generous with the amount of slaw and the degree of heat. The pulled pork was tender and flavorful but it was overpowered by the amount and heat of the slaw. The pulled pork was on the greasy side demonstrated by the pool of fat on the bottom of Ms. Goofy’s plate/tray. The mac & cheese side dish was pedestrian

Dark & Stormy St. Louis Style ribs were marinated with stout beer and ginger. The crust was flavorful and interesting. The actual meat was on the tough side and overcooked. It was served with a lackluster tomato based sauce. Enough of this not so flattering critique and on to the highlight of the meal; Brown Sugar rubbed brisket. This was some of the best brisket I have had in a long time. It was so tender it could be eaten with a fork. It had a dry rub that consisted of a paste of brown sugar and black pepper. This rub rocked the brisket to stardom. The pepper was not overpowering but complimenting the beefy flavor. Another star of this plate was the little side of pickled peppers. cauliflower, onions, peppers, and carrots in a sweet/tart vinegar was the perfect accompaniment to the rich brisket.
    Narsai’s deep fried okra did not impress. B-Side BBQ is a fun cowboy themed restaurant located in a challenged neighborhood. The brisket was impressive, the rest not. The food was visually stunning but did not live up to their appearance. There are too many other great BBQ joints in the Bay Area that I want to spend my money at. Narsai David did give us a lesson on proper bow tie’s.

B-Side BBQ
3303 San Pablo Av.
Oakland, Ca. 94608
510 595-0227

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


We dig deep into the pantry of the Chilebrown kitchen and find a special gift of some very fine vinegar. This vinegar has a prestigious title of ‘Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia’. This limited and unique vinegar is produced in the ‘Reggio Emilia' area in Northern Italy. This vinegar must  pass rigorous quality standards set by a consortium. This vinegar has been aged at least 12 years and will receive a red seal. A gold seal signifies 25 years and a silver 18 years. Here is a brief explanation of what balsamic vinegar is:

“Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Reggio Emilia is made from grape must that has been drawn off, filtered, cooked and then aged in special barrels made of oak, chestnut, juniper, mulberry or cherry wood. The barrels vary in size from large to very small.  A portion of the vinegar is the largest barrel is transferred to the second largest one, and so on down the row. It takes years to make traditional balsamic vinegar and requires constant care, which results in a high price tag.”

This vinegar is thick and syrupy. It smells of raisins and a wood barrel. Tonight we drizzled some over some strawberries. This vinegar is sweet and sour at the same time. It does not have the acidic bite of newer vinegar  Raisins with a slight vanilla flavor are my first impressions. Ripe and flavorful strawberries are a good vehicle to showcase the special qualities of this vinegar. This is one special vinegar. Thanks Ms. Goofy.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


The San Francisco Giants have won the World Series. They were super hot and swept the Detroit Tigers in four games. It is an exciting time for baseball fans in the Bay Area. Everybody has ‘Giant’ fever including the farmers market. It has been hot literally in the Bay Area. The temperature today will reach seventy three degrees. Since everybody is hot and has Giants fervor it may be appropriate to try a commemorative hot sauce from ‘Tierra Farms’. Tierra farm is located in Windsor California and sell their produce at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco. Tierra produces a number of quality and unique hot sauces. Their sauces are seasonal and created in small batches. Once a sauce is gone you will have to wait till next year. Today’s sauce is called “Hot As The Giants’. This is a sauce created with the ‘Jamaican Habanero’ pepper. This bottle contains an orange sauce and is topped with a black cap which are the Giant’s team colors. We could not resist this purchase.

The ingredient list is short and consists of; Jamaican Habanero Chiles, Vinegar, Salt, and citric acid. The minimal ingredients should showcase the flavor of the Jamaican Habanero pepper. It is a thin sauce that separates easily. The bottle needs to be shaken with each use. The sauce smells of habaneros and vinegar. The taste straight out of the bottle is of fruity citrus like pepper with a singeing kick in the behind that is delivered to your mouth. The vinegar enhances and compliments the peppers. The salt is present but not noticed to create a good balance. This sauce is not for novices. The heat level would be 3 stars out of 5. If you are a habanero lover the Jamaican peppers delivers. I personally love habaneros and thrive on the heat. This bottle will not last long because I will put it on everything.
Go Giants!!!!!


Friday, November 2, 2012


We got a heads up that the film crew from “United States of Food (Bacon)” would be filming at Phat Matt’s BBQ.  Phat Matt’s BBQ would also be showcasing, Charlotte & Matt’s favorite food, bacon. They called it Bacon Palooza. That’s all we needed to know. The Racing Honda might have set a land speed record traveling to our destination. We arrived at Phat Matt’s to a brightly lit dining area fueled by television cameras and the smiles of bacon and barbeque enthusiasts.

Destination America network has a series called ‘United States of Food”. This episode is called ‘United States of Bacon”. The host, Todd Fisher travels the country in search of unique and fun restaurants that showcase bacon. They chose Phat Matt’s because of Charlottes love of bacon. She frequently has specials that bacon is featured. Bacon maple pecan pie and chocolate covered bacon is always on the menu. I also need to mention that Phat Matt’s serves some of the best barbeque around.

We ordered some lunch. I could not resist the ‘Bacon wrapped Burnt Ends”. I have died and gone to BBQ heaven. Ms. Goofy had some mouth watering Tri-Tip. It was hard to not order the 'Phat Balls' ( bacon wrapped home made meatballs) or the infamous ‘Phat Bacon Beastie’. Phat Bacon Beastie is a combination of pulled pork, brisket, cheese, bbq sauce and of course bacon that is piled high to create a huge tower of a sandwich.We watched the filming as we ate.

It was fun watching the filming of this television episode. Todd Fisher is a big ole ham bone of a personality. The producer saw us eating and approached us. She asked us if we would be interested in being interviewed. Ms. Goofy declined but of course yours truly could not resist. They wired me with a microphone and possible stardom began. Todd Fisher and I traded banter for several minutes. Who knows if our conversation will ever be aired? It will be up to the producer if I become cutting room floor fodder.

What a great experience; Bacon, barbeque and Hollywood possibilities. This television episode will be shown late December. Until then I have my dreams.