Friday, October 31, 2014
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Tonight we are having a very special steak dinner. We are having some rib-eye cuts of beef from a breed of steer whose origins are from France. This breed is named Charolais. They are known for being large muscled and fast growing producing lots of red meat with less fat. This animal is colored almost pure white. The breed has a long history in France. The Charolais has also been used here in the states crossed with Angus and Hereford breeds for beef production. Today we are experiencing pure-bred Charolais steaks procured from Johnson Farms.
Our new favorite farm stand Leonardo’s produce is located on Johnson’s Farm. Our dinner was being finished with a diet of corn and hay in a pen right next to the produce stand. These were some beautiful cream colored animals. They were massively big and muscular cattle. Leo’s son was feeding corn to the Charolais and asked me if I wanted to participate. I declined keeping a camera distance away. Little did I know a month later they would grace our barbeque.
Our steaks weighed in at almost 2 pounds a piece. Wow, they were beautiful. The fat marbling was spectacular and they were colored a beefy red. Coarse salt & pepper was all she wrote to enhance and not mask pure beef flavor. A very hot mesquite fire and direct heat would cook our steaks to an internal temperature of 125 degrees. A long ten minute rest and it was time to feast. This was corn fed beef flavor that we crave. Every bite was savored and relished with reverence. The steak had the slightest chew but flavor was the king. This was beef flavor that is only usually found in high end steak houses. This was a dinner to remember. You too can experience this steak by contacting Johnson Farms. It would be advisable to call first because quantities are limited.
Sunday, October 26, 2014
Friday, October 24, 2014
The weather has turned to cool fall temperatures. It is time to turn on the oven and fill the house with the wonderful warming, comforting aromas of bread baking. We are going to try out a recipe using a light lager beer, sometimes referred to as the “King of Beers’ as an ingredient. It will be baked in a covered enamel coated cast iron pot. Cooking our bread in this vessel will form steam to promote a crisp exterior crust. This bread will have a long rise time to develop sour dough like yeasty flavors. Grab your own ‘King of Beers’ and come make some bread with us.
The ingredients are few and simple. It will take some patience on your part to achieve maximum flavors. I want to share some things not to do first. Hopefully you can learn from my trials and errors. Use warm water to jump start the yeast. I used cold water and it worked but added several hours to the process. Also let the bread rise is a warm place. This bread is a slow rising dough but a warm environment will help.
3 cups bread flour
2/3 cup of warm water
1/3 cup of beer (King of Beer’s is preferred and I had to wrestle it out of Ms. Goofy’s paw)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vinegar
¼ teaspoon yeast.
Notice the small amount of yeast. Combine dry ingredients and then add water, vinegar and beer. Mix for several minutes. It will be very sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and put in warm place. Your rise time will vary. You will need at least 8 hours to develop flavor.. With my conditions I let the dough work for 26 hours. It did not rise very much. When I thought it was ready I kneaded for 10 minutes on a plastic surface so dough would not stick. Take two tablespoons of olive oil and pour into an enameled Dutch oven. Roll dough in oil till covered and lest rise for two more hours. Put the lid on the Dutch oven and place in a cold oven. Yes cold oven. Turn on oven to 425 degrees and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes remove lid and bake for an additional 20 minutes or until bread is brown and internal temperature is 200 degrees.
This bread had sour dough like flavors that was spectacular. The long rise time developed huge flavor. The King of Beers added a maltiness to make this a Royal treat. It took some patience but was well worth the effort.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
It was the moment of truth. It was time to try a pickle that had been brined with the deadly ghost pepper. It has only been 72 hours since conception but I could not wait. A glass of milk was poured just in case. The brine had dulled the bright watermelon colors. It smelled of vinegar like a pickle should. The Mexican Gherkin was cut in half and It was popped into my awaiting mouth. It was soft but still had a tooth to it. I anticipated the heat rush to follow. Nada, Zip, Zero, no discernible heat was present. In fact I could not really taste the sweet brine. The Ghost pepper flavor and heat did not come through. Maybe I tried these pickles to soon. It is possible I should of cut the pepper to release its magic. As a consolation I bit into the pickled ghost pepper and immediately realized my mistake. "Bam, Pow, to the Moon Alice" These peppers are special.
Sunday, October 19, 2014
We have no bbq contests scheduled until February. We need to occupy our weekends with some food activity. Let’s go to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in the ‘City’. We are no strangers to this grand gathering of farmers and food purveyors. It seems that every time we go to this market we discover some new and exciting food item. This trip was no different. We happened upon ‘Mexican Gherkins’. They are basically small cucumbers that look like tiny watermelons.
The farmer happily offered us samples of the ‘Mexican Gherkins’. They were crisp, juicy and tasted like a cucumber with a slight bitter finish. These would be perfect to make into pickles. Of course these pickles would have a Chilebrown twist. This would be the addition of the deadly hot ‘Ghost’ pepper that I have growing in my yard. A Ghost pepper is one of the hottest exotic pepper in the world. I can personally attest to that.
My Ghost pepper plant is in it second year of growing. The first year I nurtured it from a small seedling. It was protected during the winter from frost and the elements in a pot situated in a covered patio. This spring I took the deadly Ghost pepper and planted it in a warm sunny area. We were rewarded with a healthy nuclear bush bomb of peppers. I have eaten minuscule quantities of this pepper. It is a humbling and daunting experience. To use these in a pickle recipe will be interesting if not deadly hot.
We brought our gherkins home and rinsed them in cool water to remove any surface dust or dirt. We are using a simple brine to create our pickles. You can find the complete recipe by clicking: this link here. We layered gherkins, onions, garlic and several whole ghost peppers in a clean mason jar. We poured hot brine over the mixture and screwed on the lid. It is now time to wait for the brine to do its magic. The do need to pickle for several days, so stay tuned. I am a little apprehensive to sample the finished product. Ghost peppers are no joke.
Friday, October 17, 2014
We all have busy schedules. Well almost all of us. The process of marinating ribs is not difficult but to have someone else do the work for you is a time saving step. It is also convenient. We will do just that by purchasing some pre-marinated Italian style ribs from Willowglen Meats. We are talking about some meaty, beaty, big, and bouncy beef ribs today. This could not get any easier. You open the package and put your ribs on the grill.
We used our mini WSM fueled by charcoal and hickory wood chunks. This would provide an extra flavor component of all important smoke. We cooked the marinated ribs for several hours until our ribs were tender and smoky. We did not sauce these ribs but offered it on the side. The ribs did have a nice Italian style flavor. Rosemary and oregano were predominate spice flavors. This was something different than our usual competition style ribs. These ribs weer convenient and flavorful. I wonder whats for dinner tonight.
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Monday, October 13, 2014
The competitive bbq season has closed another chapter for Ms. Goofy and I. This weekend was our last contest of the year. We traveled to San Jose, California to the University of San Jose Spartan stadium to judge a rib only contest. ‘Sparta- Q’ was a fundraiser for the Women’s softball team. The stars today were 40 bbq competitors lined around the stadium cooking some of their finest pork ribs. They paid an entry fee and were provided five racks of ribs for judging and participant consumption. Our duty was to enjoy and judge these fine smoked meats. We would like to share some images with you.
This event was full of different places to eat. You could partake of ribs and many other items provided by Spartan boosters and Kinders Meats. Participants would stroll the perimeter of the stadium to make choices of food and see the competitors decorated booths. On this walk they would pass by several live bands. A silent auction with plenty of Spartan centric items were displayed for bidding.. If you walked the whole loop you would eventually come across the judging area to witness Ms. Goofy and I at work/play.
This was a rib only contest but we used KCBS rules as a guideline in our judging criteria. One very noticeable difference was the judging was held out in the open. The public and competitors were able to witness us apply our trade. Ms. Goofy was a little unnerved because one particular team was staring her down watching her every reaction to her tasting bites. It was all in fun because we are all friends. The judging was still blind because we only see a number associated with each rib. We sampled and scored some of the best ribs in Northern California.
Our judging duties were done and it was time to socialize with our friends. Cold beverages were available for you pleasure. I wanted to mention Rob Ryan’s bbq rig powered by a car battery. It definitely caught our eye. You see something new all the time.
The scores were tabulated and the bbq team ‘Canyon Riders’ took the trophy. It was a wonderful day. It was a little bittersweet because it was our last contest of the year. Our next contest is not till February in Lake Havasu. We will not be idle in the competitive bbq arena. We will be attending an advanced judging seminar to sharpen and hone or judging skills. We also will be cooking bbq to keep our palates sharp. We were privileged and happy to help out at Sparta-Q benefiting the University of San Jose Women’s Softball team this weekend.
Saturday, October 11, 2014
Here we go again. Our friend Jon pointed us in the direction of bacon bologna. I was a little skeptical because he also steered us to that very odd product "Bologna Baby"' With bacon in the title how can we go wrong? The ingredient list is very long but we would like to share the initial ingredients of; "Separated chicken? pork, water, corn syrup and bacon pieces'. You do not want to know the rest of the ingredients. Separated chicken just sounds a little odd to me. Bologna traditionally is not made with even non-separated chicken. We will have to hold judgement until the ultimate flavor critique.
Straight out of the resealable package we experience a pleasing, soft, mild and slightly sweet.piece of sausage. The flavor is of bologna I remember as a child. I actually enjoyed this rendering of bologna, but, where is the bacon? If I close my eyes and really try hard I can pick up a slight and I mean very slight hint of smoke. Is this the bacon that is promised?
Overall, this is a very good tasting bologna. If you are purchasing it by the promise of bacon you will be disappointed. It does make great sandwiches. I made a sandwich with real maple flavored bacon, avocado, pepper jack cheese and all slathered with bacon mustard for a very tasty sandwich. I really like this bologna but where is the bacon?
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Ms. Goofy’s go to dish is macaroni and cheese. She is one happy pup when presented with a bowl of gooey, cheesy, pasta and cheese. The last couple of days the thermometer has hovered close to the century mark. To turn on the oven inside the house would transform our kitchen into a Turkish bath. We will have to cook our mac & cheese outside in our trusty custom bbq. This bbq will be our oven today. We will put some Chilebrown twists of green chile and bacon in our special dish. Grab a cold one and let’s make some comfort food.
We have pre-roasted green chile packaged in convenient measured pouches in our ice cave. We let these chiles’s thaw partially to easily scrape the unwanted charred skin away. Our recipe is simple using bacon for garnish and the fat for a roux. We rendered some beautiful maple bacon from the Freedom Meat Locker. The cooked bacon was chopped and reserved for later. Two tablespoons of the bacon love (fat) was added with two tablespoons of flour and cooked briefly. Heavy cream, salt & pepper were added to make thick gravy. Aged cheddar cheese was our cheese of choice. It was added and melted to form a thick sauce. Cooked pasta was the next ingredient stirred in to the sauce. A combination of parmesan and bread crumbs would top our concoction. This was all baked for approximately ½ hour or until the topping was brown and the mixture heated and cheese melted throughout.
“Winner, Winner, Mac & Cheese Dinner”. The maple flavored bacon added a sweet element that was fantastic. The cheese at the edges had caramelized to form cheese candy. The topping was salty crisp with parmesan love. The peppers added a hint of heat and wonderful green chile flavor. What a great dish and we did not heat up the kitchen. What fun we have.
Monday, October 6, 2014
It takes will power to not give in to delicious salty, oily and just darn tasty tortillas chips. Restraint is a foreign term in my vocabulary. When I saw this bag of Habanero flavored tortilla chips a small drop of drool dropped from my snack food craved mouth.. This is the 'Paqui Brand tortilla chip and it was found at my favorite hang out 'Heat Hot Sauce Shop' in Berkeley. Paqui is an Aztec word that means "to be happy'. Paqui is also a tortilla and chip manufacture based in Austin Texas. They have different chile flavored chips ranging from the deadly ghost pepper to the mild jalapeno. Habanero will be our choice today.(They were out of Ghost pepper flavored).
These chips have a wonderful crisp crunch. A wonderful corn flavor was my first thought. Immediately after taking a bite I had a sinus reaction. This always happens when I experience a potent pepper. The heat flavor did not kick in immediately. When it did take effect the beautiful habaneros shined in all their fruity splendor. This chip had all the right moves. They were slightly salty with just the right amount of oil to make you crave that next bite.The heat level was not for beginners but will not set any fires. Overall, this is a mighty fine product. I am Paqui. (Happy)
Friday, October 3, 2014
Joe, Dirt, Mud, Java, Brew, Cuppa, Go Juice, Jitter Juice, Bean Juice, Brain Juice, High Octane,Wakey Juice,Morning Jolt, Liquid Energy,Caffeine Infusion,Cupped Lightning,Leaded and Unleaded, and Rocket Fuel are a few names of my favorite morning beverage. My favorite coffee shop to get a cup is Catahoula Coffee in Richmond, California. It is a popular morning destination which freshly roasts beans to produce great tasting coffee at a reasonable price. I say reasonable compared to the two big corporate chains which have almost broke the two dollar mark for a small coffee. Catahoula has proved so popular that they have opened a new store in Berkeley.
Catahoula's new Coffee Kaffegarten is located in the tony '4th St.' district in Berkeley. Unlike the original store parking may be an issue. Prices are a little higher because this is a high rent area. Regardless they do have the best cup of coffee around. They have a real nice outside patio to enjoy your beverage. When I am not at the Richmond location this will be my new destination.
What does this pecan pie have to do with Catahoula's new location? It goes with coffee. Ms. Goofy sure knows how to treat her man.
Catahola's Coffee Kaffegarten
2080 4th St.