Tuesday, December 31, 2013
As a young adult, the 'Blue Box' was a welcome friend. It was cheap, easy to prepare and very satisfying. My tastes have evolved over the years but I still have a soft spot for this old friend. As some of you may know I did not get the name of Chilebrown for the love of Unicorns. Chile's are an important ingredient in my life. When I saw Chipotle flavored 'Blue Box' macaroni and cheese I had to give it a try. We will pair this familiar staple with some ham steaks from our good friend Angelo the butcher.
We took a quick look at the ingredients listed on the box. Let's just say, you do not want to know. We followed the easy instruction. It was time to eat. This dish looked so very familiar We took our first bite and that nostalgic fuzzy feeling materialized. Our first impression was of an old friend but finished with a bonus of slight chipotle flavor. Chipotle peppers are smoked jalapenos.whose flavor profile is very complex with a healthy dose of burn. The heat level of this dish was non-existent.. Did we like 'Chipotle Blue Box Mac & Cheese'? The answer to that question; We did not dislike it. In the future 'Blue Box Chipotle Mac & Cheese' will be a fond memory from our culinary past. (The ham steak from Angelo was 'Off the Hook' delicious.)
Sunday, December 29, 2013
Friday, December 27, 2013
We have made a new/old discovery of leaf lard. You may ask yourself, what is leaf lard? It is good old fashioned pork fat. This fat is harvested near the kidneys and loin of the pig. It is pure white and soft. Leaf lard has a neutral flavor that has superior baking properties which make it prized by bakers. On our last visit to our good friend Angelo the butcher, we found this amazing product. Angelo suggested we try some leaf lard. He walked us through the rendering process and told us about leaf lard. It did not take much persuasion from our meat guru because we have never been disappointed by Angelo. (Ms.Goofy may disagree.) We loaded up the ‘Racing Honda’ with meaty treats and returned to our house with apple pies on our mind.
Apple pie with a double crust would be our tasting vehicle. The pie crust recipe was very simple. The leaf lard was chilled. 2/3 cup was measured and cut into 2 cups of flour. A pinch of salt and some ice cold water was used to form our dough. This dough was properly chilled and then rolled into two pie halves. The filling was added and then baked. The crust browned very nicely. Did I ever mention I love apple pie?
Ms. Goofy proclaimed this was the most flaky, soft, and decadent crust every. Pie crust success is always a self congratulatory event. Pie crust recipe superiority has been debated by many. Butter, margarine, shortening, lard, leaf lard and combinations of all the above have been used. Leaf lard is a product that has been around for a long time. We can attest to some of the best pie crust ever using leaf lard. Angleo, Thank you for letting us (re)discover this amazing product.
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Sunday, December 22, 2013
Do you have a secret family recipe? There was a restaurant a not so longtime ago called “Andy’s Oak-Pit” in Richmond California. It was very popular and is fondly remembered by many. They had a special family chili recipe that they proudly served. We are friends with Carolyn the daughter of the owner of Andy’s Oak-Pit. We have asked her for years for the secret special Andy’s Oak-Pit chili recipe. Her mother has safely guarded this coveted item for many years. Carolyn and her husband Mort called us to arrange a special meeting. At this mysterious rendezvous, Carolyn presented us with this special recipe. We feel very lucky and proud to be the keepers and guardians of this very wonderful document.
Carolyn and Mort also shared some memorabilia of Andy’s Oak-Pit with us. Carolyn is the young women pictured on the left. We also received an employee’s handbook explaining the rules and regulations for Oak-Pit employees. The hamburger image is from a matchbook cover. What a treat getting this glimpse into the past. With these gifts Carolyn also gave us a sample of already cooked chili made with her mother’s secret recipe.
We made some chili dogs to sample our original Andy’s Oak-Pit chili. This would be extra special because Carolyn made it in the original authentic form. This chili is smooth and creamy. No beans are allowed in this pot. It is rich with flavor. It is mild with a hint of chile pepper love. I would venture to say this is the perfect topping for a hot dog. What a treat.
We will guard this family recipe. Someday we will pass it on to keep this important recipe alive. We feel honored and proud that Carolyn, her Mother and Mort gifted us with something so important in their lives. The memory of Andy’s Oak-Pit restaurant will live on!!!
Friday, December 20, 2013
It has been several Holiday seasons since my career at the Salt Mines has ended. The Christmas party was always an extravagant food feeding frenzy. When I received an invitation to attend this years party, the 14.5 WSM was put into action. Two pork shoulders were cooked low and slow with hickory wood as its flavoring smoke. Pulled pork sandwiches were brought to an all to familiar venue. It was nice to visit and catch up with my fellow workers. We had our fill on many great home cooked dishes but the best part was I did not have to return to work. I was able to return to my new job on the couch.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Sriracha has been on the news quit a lot lately. We just reviewed Srirachup and today we bring you Sriracha flavored candy canes. We are spicing up the Holidays literally. I just tried one of these spicy confections and have to say it is uniquely different. .The candy starts off sweet but then the Sriracha kicks in and grabs the back of your throat with a pepper bite. The heat is gentle but I may prefer a traditional old fashioned non-Sriracha candy cane. You just never know until you try.
Monday, December 16, 2013
What do you get when you combine two very familiar condiments; Ketchup & Sriracha. Sosu, Srirachup is the brainchild of former software salesperson Lisa Murphy. Fresno chile’s and red jalapenos are fermented for two weeks. They are added to local organic, ‘Early Girl’ tomatoes from Frog Hollow farm. In fact two pounds for every jar go into this unique and fun sauce. We met with Lisa who is very excited to bring her new product to the markets. We will sample Srirachup on a sausage roll and use it in a dish using Tofu. Yes, this Mad Meat Genius will be cooking with Tofu. (The dish has pork also). Let’s all give Srirachup a try.
Organic California tomatoes, chili peppers, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, sea salt and garlic are the listed ingredients. Do you like this list of ingredients? We do. We noticed the absence of binders, chemicals and preservatives which are present in everyday ketchups.
Aroma & Texture:
Do you have a garden with tomatoes growing in the summer? When I opened the top I smelled fresh home grown tomatoes. This is a pleasant and comforting smell that is unique to freshly picked tomatoes. This is a very thick sauce as ketchup and Sriracha should be.
I discussed the label with Lisa. In my opinion it is very plain and could use some sprucing up. The label states some very good selling points. (No paste, organic, no fructose corn syrup, gluten free, non GMO, and no preservatives.) Unless you have great eyesight and read labels this will be lost for the average shopper. I would walk by this product on the shelf.
Bold fresh tomato flavor, summertime in a jar and a slight pepper finish is our impression. There is sweetness from the tomatoes and brown sugar that it is not overpowering. The pepper finish is mild in heat but bold in flavor. Is this a marriage made in condiment heaven? I cannot wait to try it with some food.
The pepper flavor is present minus the heat. This is very mild and will barely lift the heat meter to 1 star out of 5
The obvious choice of food pairing to me is the hot dog. Our dog is a Lockeford sausage on a fresh roll from ‘Acme Bakery’. This was a hot diggity delight. Pure fresh tomato flavor with natural sweetness and a pepper finish paired with the sausage creating familiar and comforting flavors.
This dish made with Tofu will be uncharted territory for this meat lover. The recipe comes from Lisa and will showcase the Srirachup.
Mapo Tofu with Srirachup (Makes 4 servings)
½ lb of ground pork
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp sesame oil
9 oz or 1 jar of Srirachup
1 lb of soft to medium-firm tofu
1 stalk of scallions to top off
½ cup of peas
1 tbsp of soy sauce
¼ cup of tomato water or chicken broth or vegetable broth
1. Heat sesame oil in wok or non-stick pan. Add diced garlic and brown it in sesame oil over medium heat.
2. Add ground pork and ½ jar of Srirachup and cook the ground pork in medium heat while breaking the pork into small segments.
3. Dice the tofu into ½ inch to 1-inch cubes. Cook the ground pork half way and add diced tofu. Add the rest of Srirachup, soy sauce, and tomato water or chicken stock, or vegetable stock.
4. Bring to medium-high heat and let it simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.
5. Add peas (can also use frozen peas, just blanch it in hot water for 5-10 secs and shock in cold water)
6. Remove from heat. Plate in a bowl or plate and top off with scallions.
We followed the directions and served this over rice. This was an easy dish to assemble. It tasted fresh and vibrant with tomato flavor. The Srirachup imparted this intense tomato flavor with out a long simmering time that would be needed with fresh tomatoes. I liked this dish except for the Tofu. I just do not get it. (Tofu)
Srirachup is an adult condiment that showcases pure tomato essence and pepper love. This is a sophisticated, nuanced, unique sauce. The backyard wienie roast will never be the same. Local organic, seasonal ingredients are used. This sauce has ¼ the amount of sugar than everyday ketchup but still is perfectly vine ripe sweet. Lisa Murphy of ‘Sosu’ has created a sauce that is familiar but also unique. We have enjoyed our tasting journey today. I am still not a Tofu fan but Srirachup will be a staple condiment on our shelf.
Available in local Bay Area stores
Saturday, December 14, 2013
Breakfast is that all important meal to start the day. Eggs and toast can sometimes be a little boring. Smokehouse 10 has made breakfast exciting once again. Dave Tendich the owner of Smokehouse 10 will be serving breakfast one Saturday a month. His menu will include eggs Benedict, home made sausage, chicken & waffles and so much more. This plate of chicken and waffles is a great foundation to start your day. I even grabbed a piece of Dave's famous pecan pie for later. Oh Yeah!
1333-B Pine St.
Martinez, Ca. 94553
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
We are located 15 minutes away from the Meyer Corporation factory. They sell many name brand kitchen cookware such as: Anolon, Farberware, Circulon, etc. Once a year they have a huge warehouse sale. The products are heavily discounted. It is a very popular sale demonstrated by the crowds. We beat the crowds by making an early Monday morning visit. As some of you may know I hate to shop. I make an exception for this extravaganza. This year Rachael Rays Furi Pro Steak Knives Set found a new home.
These knives are made of "Japanese high carbon stainless steel". They claim to have antimicrobial protection. They are heavy and feel comfortable in your hand. Now for the best part. They were only 10 dollars. That is my kind of shopping.
Sunday, December 8, 2013
One of the things we love about farmers markets is the discovery of new food products. They most likely are not new but something we have never experienced. We discovered a new find from Good Faith Farms. They sell olives and oils from their farms. They also have raw semi-dried olives. This unusual product caught my eye. I asked for a taste and was immediately hooked.
These olives are not a pretty sight. Once you have tasted you will not care. They are a little chewy. There is a deep rich olive flavor. They claim to be raw but I taste maybe a natural saltiness. These little bites are addicting. They would be great on a salad. I am just snacking on them They will not last long. What a fun and tasty discovery.
Friday, December 6, 2013
Our culinary journey brings us to Big Ed’s Buzzard BBQ. Our destination is located in Santa Clara, California, in an industrial park. The location is a little unusual for a restaurant. It is situated in the back of a light industrial court. In fact we drove right by the location on our first pass. There is no signage on the street. You know you have arrived by the presence of Big Ed’s large colorful catering trailer. Through the doors, you will be greeted by Big Ed’s daughter Tiffany. The interior is small with several tables. You can see into the back area which is a large commercial kitchen. Big Ed’s shares his kitchen with a dessert baker who also has counter space in the front.
We meet Big Ed as he is rushing out the door to a catering job. His restaurant is a family run affair. Big Ed’s son, Big Ed Jr. is cooking today. I survey the menu and asked Tiffany what is popular. She say’s the smoked corned beef is very good. She also says her favorites are the ribs and brisket. Say no more that is my favorite too. Big Ed Jr. did give me a taste of the smoked corned beef and it was mighty tasty.
At your table two bbq sauces in squeeze bottles are offered. Habanero/mango and blackberry are the two flavors. I give them a try, gambling with the wrath of habanero sting. The habanero mango is pretty tame in the heat department. It is tomato based with habaneros that is tamed by the sweet mango’s. The vinegar adds a little vibrancy to this mixture. The blackberry is also tomato based and is pleasant. It is a nice touch that sauce is offered on the side. These sauces are also offered for sale.
The plate of bbq arrives and it looks yummy. The ribs are falling apart tender. There is a nice smoke flavor. It paired well with the habanero/mango sauce. The brisket was my favorite. It had a great smoke ring. It was tender with a lot of beefy flavor. The sides were all house made. The beans and slaw satisfied. If I could find any fault with this meal it would be the cornmeal muffin. It was just a little dry for my liking.
Big Ed is a competitive cooker, caterer, and bbq class teacher. He has a very nice family run bbq restaurant to show off his cooking skills. Stop on by and give it a try. Just bring your map or pay attention to the lovely lady on the GPS.
Big Ed's Buzzard BBQ
807 Aldo Avenue
Santa Clara, CA 95054
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
This morning the thermometer is stuck on 31 degrees. It is pretty rare that we have such a frosty awakening in sunny California. Luckily, I had the foresight to plant my Ghost peppers in a pot. This will make it easy to move my precious peppers under our covered patio to protect them from the chilly frost. While I was transporting these fiery capsicum bombs I noticed several beautiful multicolored semi-ripe peppers. What should I do to preserve them? How about making some Ghost pepper salt?
This idea is not original. In fact preserving things in salt has been around for a very long time even before the conception of the'World Wide Web'. My inspiration comes from Leah (*Tierra Vegetables' ) at the Ferry Plaza. Leah has taken several different breeds of peppers and pureed them. She adds the puree to kosher salt. That's it. We purchased the Ghost pepper salt. You would not believe how fresh and fragrant this salt smells. It also is very, very, very hot. This flavored salt is not for the chile pepper challenged. This will be great used as a finishing salt or as a seasoning marinade. I can think of numerous food applications.
I will attempt to make some of my own Ghost pepper salt later today. But first I am going jump back under the covers because it is cold outside.
Monday, December 2, 2013
‘Celebrate Food’ is the opening proclamation of Hog Heaven sauces. Hog Heaven is created for ‘Foodies’ and is ‘A Sauce for Life’. All we care about is does it taste good? This is the million dollar question we will answer today. Hog Heaven is a company run by Ira Pupko. He is well known in Southern California competition bbq circles. Ira has used his barbeque skills and knowledge to create several, fat free, all natural, preservative free and gluten free bbq sauces. His line of Hog Heaven sauces has several different flavors; Apple Chipotle, Apricot Jalapeno, Original Smokehouse, and Smokehouse Heat. We will try the bold Original Smokehouse on some beef ribs cooked on our new 14.5 Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker. I cannot wait. Let’s fire up the grill.
Tomato paste molasses, sugar, distilled vinegar, water, natural smoke flavor, salt, contains less than 2 % each of the following, onion powder, black pepper spices, cayenne pepper are the listed ingredients.
Aroma & Texture;
Smoky tomatoes and molasses leaps from the open bottle top to say ‘Hello’. The barbeque has started even though we have not even lit the fire. The aroma is pleasant. This is a very thick, dark, smooth sauce that pours freely from the bottle.
This is a well balanced sauce. I was a little concerned that the smoke would overpower. This was not the case. The components, tomatoes, sugar, molasses, vinegar, and natural smoke meld together forming a serious bold flavor. This flavor screams barbeque and I am hungry.
Chilebrown has a brand new Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker. We have been having a lot of fun cooking various meats to break in this new smoker. Beef ribs would be smoked for approximately three hours to a very tender and succulent state. We smothered the ribs with the ‘Smokehouse’ sauce and returned them to the smoker for several minutes to set the sauce. Have you ever seen a grown man cry with tears of happiness? We were in beef rib nirvana. This sauce is bold and stood up to the rich juicy ribs. It added sweetness with the molasses. The vinegar added a freshness to perk up the flavors to greatness. This was barbeque flavor that we love. Houston we have a lift-off.
Hog Heavens Smokehouse bbq sauce is a bold sauce with smokey molasses and tomato flavor. It was perfect for our beef ribs. It would be a good match for any beef cut that you wanted to barbeque. I believe this sauce would be good to flavor a pot of bbq beans. Ira Pupko of Hog Heaven Sauces has created a sauce that the Chilebrown household proudly endorses. We cannot wait to try the other flavors.
Hog Heaven Sauces