On my way back from a client in Brooklyn I passed a new establishment in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where I found a very nice little appetizer of baked cheese.
The restaurant / lounge was less than packed so the owner / chef had a few minutes to chat. Of course, we all know who wheedled the recipe from him, and chatted about some possible addins..
Consider the well seasoned 12″ cast iron skillet, black, heavy and with it’s own baked on non stick surface. Now add cubed cheese, some olive oil, (my first add / change, bacon drippings or bacon cubes browned off in the skillet), thin sliced garlic, seasonings, and of course herbage. This is then baked until the cheese melts, bubbles, and browns.
This is then served bubbling hot, with a selection of thin slices of crusty french baguette, (Toasted and not toasted) and maybe the chunks of browned bacon on the side.
Quick, To the Grill FatMan!!!!
As it is coming to Memorial Day and the opening of the grill season, it’s probably a prudent idea to review the basics of grilling. Here is a compilation of posts on grilling, the basics, hot dogs, hamburgers, and steaks ….
I was talking with Madam Bad Wolf, about our plans for the coming holiday, and the menu for said holiday and plans. She not so gently reminded me of some of my less memorable meals on the grill. This inspired me to start making notes on how to grill the more traditional items….
Do note: Grilling is NOT Bar-B-Que ….
Grilling is a form of cooking that involves dry heat applied to the surface of food, commonly from above or below. Food to be grilled is cooked on a grill (an open wire grid with a heat source above or below), a grill pan (similar to a frying pan, but with raised ridges to mimic the wires of an open grill), or griddle (a flat plate heated from below) . Heat transfer to the food when using a grill is primarily via thermal radiation. Heat transfer when using a grill pan or griddle is by direct conduction. In the United States, when the heat source for grilling comes from above, grilling is termed broiling. In this case, the pan that holds the food is called a broiler pan, and heat transfer is by thermal radiation.
Direct heat grilling can expose food to temperatures often in excess of 260 °C (500 °F). Grilled meat acquires a distinctive roast aroma from a chemical process called the Maillard reaction. The Maillard reaction only occurs when foods reach temperatures in excess of 155 °C (310 °F).
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Cast Iron Chef – Pepper Steak
After mastering yet another vendor proficiency test, (one could say I am now buzz word compliant), I decided to chuck the rest of the afternoon and go visiting clients.
Sitting in an office high overlooking a major intersection, and chatting with a client as he reviewed my missives posted here, a slow cooked pepper steak produced by his wife, was mentioned. As he went on to describe the mouth watering lusciousness of the meat, the contrasting colors of the stop-light peppers and the richness of the gravy produced I knew I HAD TO HAVE that recipe.
Also remembering that I had made the lady of said clients house a gift of a 18″ Bad Wolf special chef’s knife, I decided that my usual brash tactics might not work, and that a bit of kitchen research would be the better part of valor…
The real key here is low and slow cooking in a moist environment….
Collagen, the predominant protein in connective tissue, is quite tough to chew, and is found in abundance in tougher and cheaper cuts of meat. (Almost the tougher / cheaper the better). At 150 degrees it starts to melt and become gelatin-like as the temperature climbs. At 150 the muscle tissue will have tightened fully and the bonds between individual protein molecules become stronger and tighter. These bonds become so tight they drive water from the meat back into the braising liquid!
IF REMOVED AT THIS POINT, THE ROAST WILL BECOME TOUGH AND DRY.
Once the internal temperature of the meat reaches 170 degrees, a second process begins as melted collagen makes meat seem tender and moist. Further heated, the collagen in the muscle will break down progressively into soft gelatin as the tightened muscle tissue strands continue to separate.
Because collagen won’t melt completely until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 200 degrees, the meat must be cooked to this temperature and held there for an hour to take full advantage of this phenomenon.
The meat fibers will swell to take on the liquid surrounding them, and with the collagen will turn to gelatin, so that the meat becomes a wonderious tender, moist, taste treat seasoned with all the goodness of the various peppers, onions and garlic that have simmered with it.
I’ve not used high priced sirloin, or tenderloin, but have used chuck steak which is quite economical that produces glorious flavor and a worthy texture when cooked properly. And properly is low and slow.
Meatless Monday – Breakfast Fry
It’s coolish/ warminsh / coldish / hotish, in short mid spring, I am quite busy, and have a yen for some comfort food. The original comfort food was the potato, crisp on the outside, creamy on the inside. But I want a bit more flavor and texture…
Maybe I’ll par-boil some potatoes, slice or quarter them, and fry them up in my heavy cast iron skillet, maybe adding some cheese and a Jalapeño, along with some spices to kick up the flavor a notch.
Home fries, house fries, or cottage fries are a type of basic potato dish made by pan or skillet frying diced, chunked, wedged or sliced potatoes (sometimes unpeeled) that have been par-cooked by boiling, baking, steaming, or microwaving.
While it is possible to make “home fries” without par-cooking the potatoes, these are technically raw fries. The texture will be more chewy, and the longer cooking time increases the likelihood of burning the potato pieces. Home fries are also made, as the name suggests, as a simple homemade potato dish and can be prepared even by people with modest cooking skills as a meal or a snack.
The frying is typically done in vegetable oil or butter. Other ingredients may be added. If chopped onions and bell peppers are added to diced potatoes it creates a dish referred to as Potatoes O’Brien. If sliced potatoes and sliced onions are sautéed together with seasonings it can create a dish referred to as Lyonnaise potatoes.
The consistency depends on the type of potato used. Although various types of white potatoes are the most popular base, sometimes waxy (usually red-skinned) or sweet potatoes are used.
In the United States, home fries are popular as a breakfast dish and are sometimes served in place of hash browns. Home fries may be served with a condiment such as ketchup or maple syrup.
Patatas bravas or papas bravas is a dish of the cuisine of Spain, often served as a tapa in bars. It typically consists of white potatoes that have been cut into 2 centimeter irregular shapes and then fried in oil and served warm with a spicy tomato sauce. This dish is commonly served in restaurants and bars throughout Spain, where it is traditionally accompanied by a shot of orujo or a glass of wine.
The potatoes are boiled in brine for several minutes to tenderize them. They are then rubbed dry and fried in oil in a manner similar to the preparation of potato chips.
It is a funny half hot / half cold day, where in the morning you want a hefty jacket, in the afternoon you want a t-shirt, and by early evening you are back in the bomber jacket…
My tastes are that way as well, I wanted a heavy breakfast, a light lunch and a meal with staying power for dinner.
I remember a wonderful dish I had at a local french restaurant, it was a chicken, broken down and browned then simmered in a broth along with Spicy Sausage, “Cajun Trinity”, sinful spices, meaty mushrooms and fresh vegetables to make a really wonder full sauce. Think similar to a beef stew with really big chunks of meat and veggies… The gravy was so thick and wonderful I was soping it up with the french bread on the table. (Yes, I know it sounds soo uncivilized, sooo unsheik, but it seems everyone else at the table was doing the same thing….)
Do note: Do not try this with boneless chicken breast, it just does not work well…
Fricassee or Fricassée is a catch-all term used to describe a stewed dish typically made with poultry, but other types of white meat (like veal, rabbit, or Cornish game hen) can be substituted. It is cut into pieces and then stewed in gravy, which is then thickened with butter and cream or milk). It often includes other ingredients and vegetables.
In my last post I mentioned Biryani, it happens to be one of my favorite mid-easterd dishes. This is a simple chicken biryani, one can add all sorts of things, lamb, beef, etc, but for a basic fill your stomach meal, this is the one.
Biryani is a set of rice-based foods made with spices, rice (usually basmati) and [[meat](chicken)]/vegetables. The name is derived from the Persian word beryā(n) which means “fried” or “roasted”.
Biryani was brought to India and Pakistan by Persian travelers and merchants and local variants of this dish are not only popular in India and Pakistan but also in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and among Muslims in Sri Lanka.
The spices and condiments used in biryani may include but are not limited to: ghee, peas, beans, cumin, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, coriander and mint leaves, ginger, onions, and garlic. The premium varieties include saffron. For a non-vegetarian biryani, the main ingredient that accompanies the spices is the meat—beef, chicken, goat, lamb, or shrimp. The dish may be served with dahi chutney or Raita, korma, curry, a sour dish of eggplant (brinjal) or a boiled egg.
The difference between biryani and pullao is that while pullao may be made by cooking the items together, biryani is used to denote a dish where the rice is cooked separately from the other ingredients.