Tales from the Wandering Cook

Started by echoes, July 29, 2022, 02:06:55 PM

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echoes

Was going to try and make Sunday/Monday my regular writing days but I have my son down for his Birthday and I don't plan on being on much. When I get back next week I will be sharing a shrimp recipe and a review of Basil Hayden's Dark Rye Bourbon. The Bourbon will the more exciting of the two.

Cheers,

E.

echoes

So,

Been a week since I last  posted and here I am, on time, and posting tonight. Said I was going to talk about a Bourbon and I intend to do just that tonight.

Basil Hayden's part of the Jim Beam Small Batch Bourbon family and we will get to the Bourbon after we do a little history and splaining of what Bourbon is. As any good story goes, the origination of the name and where it was first used is a point of contention. One myth says it started in Bourbon County Kentucky, another on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. It has been made since the late 18th century and is most often associated with the State of Kentucky. Alcohols, if you didn't know, wax and wan at various times throughout their lives. Not to long ago there was a Tequila craze and before that it was Vodka; now it is currently Bourbon's heyday.

For an alcohol, specifically whiskey, to be called a Bourbon it must have a "mash" (Mash is a composition of  "cereal grains such as rye, barley, wheat or corn that is fermented) made up of no less that 51% Corn along with other grains. Most mashes take some of their components from from a previous batch's mash for consistency of flavor. In Addition to the mash requirements the liquor must be aged in new charred oak containers ( barrels.) The aging process is what gives Bourbon its distinctive coloring as it draws from the carmelized charred wood. There are several steps that go in the aging process, along with some science and some stories but I am not going into all that now. What I will say is that the Bourbon in the barrels gets, opened, diluted down to 80 Proof ( 40% alcohol by volume) and the gets bottled. When I said that Basil Hayden's is a Small Batch Bourbon that only means that fewer barrels were opened and mixed to produce this batch.

Basil Hayden's as mentioned before is from the Jim Beam/Suntory family of spirits. Jim Beam has a variety of lines including:

Booker's
Baker's
Basil Hayden
Knob Creek

Where Jim Beam is, like Basil Hayden, a 80 Proof/ 40% ABV beverage Booker's clocks in at 120-130/60-65%, Baker's at 107/53.5% and Knob Creek at 100/50% or 120/60%. Also owned by Beam Suntory is Beam's Sister brand, Maker's Mark, which comes in at 90/45%.

So, Basil Hayden's Dark Rye and what to expect. Do not expect that punch in the mouth burn that a lot of Bourbon's, especially the higher proofed drinks, give. You the first thing you will notice is that it is sweet, sweeter that you were really ready for. It is a smooth drink that doesn't linger until it is unwanted. There are nuances that I cannot explain because I lost some of my sense of smell and tastes yeeeeeears ago as part of a birthday present. A review by "Breaking Bourbon uses words like Strawberry Jam, Cherries, cherries, currants, and more cherries while saying it is very wine/port forward.  It's not "yeasty/bready" like some bourbons can get, there is something more simple but it is not peaty or earthy like scotch. In fact, that same review mentioned that it is complex enough that the sweet turns to savory and does not linger into dryness.

This is a bourbon you can sip at room temperature or you can fully enjoy it on a cube or two of ice. Don't go ham on the ice, to diluted wastes the enjoyment of the next sip. This is outstanding for making something like an old fashioned but it would be lost in a bourbon spritz. The Dark Rye is supposed to be aged for around 8 years and it has that mid level maturity that a well purposed bourbon should have. It won't break your budget if you have to get one for a party. It also isn't some rot gut no one would dare try. This is a good bourbon to wet the appetite before a main course.

Imma take one more pull of this and then go finish some laundry.

Cheers all,

E.


echoes

This will be short because I am a bit distracted. But first, a moment of clarity.

There was a Tom Hanks produced series that gained some fame a few year back called, "Band of Brothers." For those who do not know, this was the story of Easy Company, 506th Regiment , 101st Airborne Division; yes, its a war series. The original book, and subsequent series, starts with Easy company training at Camp Taccoa and it introduces the reader/viewer to the primary characters of the story. During a scene where Easy company is performing a night march the following conversation takes place:

Setting Night march, full company with all men carrying full gear at Camp Taccoa which is located in the state of Georgia.

Private Randleman : "Lieutenant Winters?"

Lieutenant Winters: "What is it?"

Pvt. Randleman : "Permission to speak, Sir?"

Lt. Winters : "Permission granted."

Pvt. Randleman : "Sir, we got nine Companies, Sir.

Lt. Winters: "We do."

Pvt Randleman : "Why come we're the only Company marching Every Friday night, twelve miles with full pack in the pitch dark?"

Lt. Winters : "Why do you think Private Randleman?"

Pvt. Randleman : "Lieutenant Sobel hates us sir."  (For clarification, Lt. Sobel was the senior Lt and the commander of Easy Company during training.)

Lt Winters: *After a pause* "Lieutenant Sobel does not hate easy company" * Another pause* "He just hates you"

The nearby soldiers all start lightly laughing.

Pvt. Randelman : 'Sir, yes Sir."

This is me right now, the world doesn't hate everyone else, just me. I think I have an infection around a tooth that needs a root canal. This just started over the weekend and the pain radiating from my jaw has given me a headache while at work.  With that, I am going to medicate and try to get better. I can't get seen by a dentist until next Thursday but luckily the GF had some left over antibiotics that I am going to start on. She is going to try and persuade our dentist, who she is seeing tomorrow, to send me an official script in so I can get the swelling down. Before you worry, she is a nurse and I am not going to do them all at once. When I feel better I will try and be more creative with a post.

Cheers.

E.

echoes

Sorry about the earlier lack of solid post regarding food. I'm going to try and make up for that right now with something for the parents here on Elliquiy, though anyone can rock this simple recipe

Open Faced Pepperoni Grinders

First, a Grinder is typically defined as a "hot" sandwich usually with: meatballs, pepperoni, sausage or several of what you might call "Italian" meats. This is something you can rock from start to finish in 20 minutes with minimal prep and clean up and it is also great on a budget.

Ingredients ( with Prices in American Dollars)

1 - 6 pack Torta Buns $4.00
1 - Deli Sliced pepperoni ( prepackages usually has enough slices but you need a total of 24 slices and if they slice the pepperoni on a 1-1.5 that is about 1/2 a pound) $5.00
1 - 24oz jar marinara or Meat sauce - $2.00
1 - 1# Shredded Mozzarella $2.50 ( thought you can add more if you like a lot of Cheese )
Granulated Garlic ( Should already have this in the spice drawer but if not a small bottle for $2.00

Optional
Parmesan Cheese

Ok, so the above is right around $15.00 and you can easily feed 6 people, or less than $2.50 a person.

Prep:

Oven on bake at 350 degrees.

Get a half sheet tray out and line with parchment paper.

Wash hands.

Open the Torta rolls and split each one in hald so you have a top and bottom portion. Most are pre-cut and you can split them with your fingers. If you have to cut them use a serrated bread knife and lay them flat. Cut sideways left to right and please do not add parts of your finger to the meal.

Lay the Torta rolls with the cut side face up on the half sheet tray. 6 rolls should completely, and perfectly, fit on a half sheet tray.

Dust the exposed side of the Torta rolls with granulated ( dry) garlic. One pass, light dusting, will do.

Open the Marinara  and pour empty the entire jar atop the bread. Spread with a spatula, or a brush, and coat evenly.

Add two pieces of Pepperoni to each piece of bread.

Open and layer Mozzarella trying to spread evenly across all the pieces.

Optional - Dust with Parm Cheese if you want.

Into the oven for 10-12 minutes depending on how you oven cooks.

Here is the only hard part:

Turn the oven from bake to Broil at 500 degrees. Leave in for 3 minutes, longer if you like more browning on you cheese. Watch the oven at this point, and you may have to spin the tray to cook evenly. If you go a ef-off you will burn these suckers the moment you do not pay attention.

There you have it. 12  pieces, 2 per person is pretty filling, but this is easy and quick. great for a game night ( tv or tabletop) or for feeding ravenous spawn.  Clean up is one tool ( Spatula or brush) and the sheet tray along with any plates or utensils used to eat.

Of course you can make this more fancy, you can add ham, sausage, salami or whatever you want to the meats and you can change the cheese to be a bit more exotic. You could make these vegetarian with mushrooms , fresh mozz and sprigs of Basil if you wanted to.

Cheers.

E.


echoes

Product review and easy meals made quick and dirty. That is what we are working on today.


Sorry I didn't get a post up yesterday, I kinda came home from work and crashed due to having to be up at 4:30 this morning. Luckily they were cutting hours at work yesterday and I was able to bag out and spend a little time with the GF  before grabbing what little sleep I could last night. So everyone knows; I suck at sleeping. My sleep patterns now are hella better than when I was younger but I still don't sleep well. 

Anywho, lets continue a trend from the last post and talk about quick and easy meals on the cheap while also talking about a product and the cost/quality of said product. Before I go any farther I will put out a rare disclaimer in that : I am not paid by, or a representative of, the company or product I am about to talk about.

Amylu Teriyaki and Pineapple Chicken Meatballs

Price wise a pound and a half should run you right under $10 at Costco, or something like $.40 an ounce on average at various groceries. The Costco portion, so far, has seemed the best deal that I have seen. They will keep up to 6 months in the freezer and around 4 days after being opened if they are not used. They are fully cooked and can be eaten right out of the package if you are so hungrs. 

Taste wise- You do not need a sauce to go with these, the combination of teriyaki and pineapple makes them both sweet and savory at the same time. If you just have to add something sauce-wise to the meal I would err on the side of sweet over savory and I am much more of a savory person. 

Cooking- Follow the instructions for the air fryer that are on the package though I would add 2 minutes to the cooking time as well as pausing the cooking midway through to flip the meatballs. The air fryer method gives an even, light, caramelization and cooks the meatball all the way through. To date this has been the most successful way to cook the meatballs. The meatballs you get from Costco come with 2 packages and I want to say there are 24 meatballs to a package. 1 package will fill a single basket in a dual basket air fryer.

Combinations - I do these with the instant mashed potatoes from Costco, or you could make homemade mashed spuds should you like. 6 meatballs per person + mashed spuds is a hearty meal and you will get 4 servings out of this method with each person getting about 3/4 a pound of food. Realistically you could get away with 4 -5 meatballs, corresponding mashed spuds and then a veggie like carrots, corn or green beans and then you are getting 5 - 6 servings. If you just have to have bread then doing an Italian loaf or baguette will suffice.

in all you can feed 4-6 people for a total of about $25 American depending on what sides, and how many sides, you choose. That is not a bad cost for making a filling meal with a potential for left overs or the ability to serve multiple people.  In all, this is a solid product, good taste and value with some flexible options for serving. I know I kept it really simple, I normally don't have the brain to do product reviews so I may check out how other people do them so that I can get better at it.

Cheers,

E.

echoes

Hey all,

For those of you who have been reading this, thank you. I do appreciate the time you take to stop by and see what I post. This is as close to social media as I get. No facebook, instagram or anything else that most people use to get their words out. I find most social media to be abhorrent, toxic and a pox on us all. The ability to post and hope that it influences others is odd to me, but I like food ( and cooking) so I wanted an outlet to throw some words up and see if anyone was interested in reading. I'm not good at this, I don't write to get likes or to sell a product/idea, which is why I do this here. I do for my own reasons and, to be honest, its also because I have not been as creative with other words and stories but I still felt the need to write something.

I'm a bit slow this week in the creative aspect of cooking. The S/O, Gf, or what you wish to think of her as, had surgery last Tuesday. She had all the lady plumbing removed for reasons and, for those female readers here, I am sure you can guess what I mean. Because of this I have been making only comfort food that she wants. I took 9 days off to be her nurse and personal cook and, so far, I think I have done a pretty good job. Breakfasts have been french toast, regular toast and biscuits. Omelets with cheese, eggs over medium and scrambled eggs. Bacon, sausage and other meats. nothing crazy. There has been jello and pudding aplenty ( pistachio and butterscotch if you wanted to know.) Lunches have been deviled ham and cream cheese sandwiches, cold cuts and cheese and anything that piqued her fancy. I did do a fancy pork cutlet with panko along with mashed spuds as one fancy dinner but tonight was hamburgers and fries with a with a chocolate milkshake (made with cookies and cream ice cream.) In other words, I have been lame for the creativity but awesome on the comfort side.

I've not been outside as much, thought I have gotten the barn cleaned up a bit. I plane to start buying herb seeds soon but I want to weather here to stop being bi-polar ( like 70 degrees one day and the next 30 with sleet like rain.) I'm planning to do a few planters this year with various flowers as well. I have a metric fuck ton of honey-dos and chores that I have been procrastinating on and I have also been drinking like Van Halen on tour in the 80's. ( you old people like me will get that reference.)

Anywho, wanted to stop in, drops some words and wish everyone a good day, night and or week. Hope you all are doing well and taking care of your business as best you can. I will try and write some new and cool shit soon.

Cheers,

E.

echoes

I am completely clueless at times and earlier today I described myself as the living embodiment of a dumpster fire, so, there's that.

Is life all that bad, nah, not really; I'm not dumb enough to say,"It couldn't get worse," because then Karma is gonna go, "Hold my beer." it could always be worse, but I took a half day at work as sort of a mental health thing and, well, we will see how that takes. Until then there is food to be talked about and I will get on with it now that I have made you wade through some minor ramblings.

Way back, ie: earlier in these posts, I talked about making pizza dough. I won't go over that again so go find it if you want. I will tell you that I think I have finally figured out that 10-12 ounces is the perfect sized dough ball for a 12" pizza. That said, I experimented last Thursday and made a play on an Everything Bagel Pizza. Before I get to the pizza let me tell you about some absolute fail.

First, I build up the wood inside the pizza oven, set it on fire, and thought that, I don't know, since my partner and a friend of ours were standing out right in front of the pizza oven they would keep an eye on it. Now, I did not explicitly say, "Hey watch this for me and let me know if it goes out." My bad. I should have. They came in about 10 minutes later, saying nothing and hanging out around the kitchen. I had the oven on to pre-bake the pizza dough and with everything humming along nicely I got and check on the pizza oven outside.

Complete dead. No Fire. Nada. Oooops.

So, in the oven inside it will be and that is fine. We fire off several traditional meats and veggies on dough with marinara and everyone is digging the made to order person pan pizza buffet that we are throwing out. The last pizza I do something different and some of you may have already done something like this, for others, this may be, as the poet philosopher Marylin Manson was said, "this is the new shit."

Everything bagel Pizza by Moi!

Regular pizza dough, pre-baked for 5 minutes at 400.
Olive Oil - Enough to gently coat the dough
Everything Bagel seasoning ( you can get this pre-made at a grocery or you can do the following: Sesame seeds, Minced dried garlic, Minced dired onion, sea salt, poppy seeds and black sesame seeds.)
My toppings:
Ricotta Cheese
Soppressata salami
Dice red onions
fresh basil

You can really add anything you would add to a bagel here.

Cooked for about 12 minutes and everything came out pretty solid. Rotated the pie once while it was cooking, got a nice even browning around the edges.

I iwll try and post about the Coconut Cream pie I made, I am told it was all that was good by my girlfriend but I didn't have any because I don't like coconut. Before I leave I will impart two things with you all:

1) Mashed potatoes are just Irish Gucamole

2) Go to YouTube and type, "Play that Funky Music Rammstein"   (---- this will not disappoint if you like Wild Cherry, Rammstein or Metallica.

Cheers.

E.

echoes

Yesterday was kind of low key and chill for me and my fam despite it being a holiday. The G/F had pulled a 12 hour overnight shift and had tied one on after doing eight hours on Saturday as well as work around the farm. The only plans we had for Sunday were to head to my parents, about 45 mins away, and cook brunch for them. Now, here in the Southern part of the US, as I can't speak for the rest of the country much less the rest of the world, Gravy holds a certain state of reverence in a breakfast meal. Well, that's not completely right, it holds reverence in /EVERY/ meal depending on how you use it. From turkey gravy on Thanksgiving to a brown grave with meat, Gravy is it's own food group and yet most people don't know how to make it. They know canned and jarred gravies, or those that come powdered and you add water, but they don't realize how simple it really is to make homemade gravy.

Guess what we are about to talk about? Yep, it involves gravy.

First off, the word has roots tracing back to the 1400 or so and may have been a play of the French word: "Gave'." I'm not sure how the word translated into "Severe" works here but the concept and the basis of Gravy is pretty basic and straight forward: drippings from something cooked ( usually meats but you could do a roasted vegetable gravy) combined with a "binder," such as corn starch or flour, and then mixed with a liquid, usually milk, to the desired consistency. This is it, add seasoning to taste: Salt, pepper, garlic and so on.

Common Gravy types:

Brown - From red meats or birds.

Red Eye - From Ham specifically

White - Like a thickened Bechemel sauce with a meat base.

Or, the one I am going to tell you about : Sausage Gravy.

Sausage gravy, in this case, came from 1 pound of Tennessee Pride mild sausage, Wondra flour and 2% milk and one secret at the very end. 

here are a few notes on the ingredients:

Sausage- When you cook this do so on medium high and grumble it really well. You can get a little sear/caramelization on the meat but do not overcook.You can use mild, spicy, Italian, go wild.

Flour - I use wondra or cake flour because it is much more fine. You can use All purpose or bread flour but go slow as to avoid clumping. You could use corn starch if you really wanted to.

Milk/buttermilk/Cream - Your call here but I like 2 % because of it's consistency .

Season to taste.

Ok, so how to go about making the liquid artery clogger known and lowed by my peebos:

Medium - large skillet. Heat on 6 or 7 . get the sausage in and break it down to crumbles. You want it good and cooked before step two.

Add flour directly to the skillet: I used about 1/3rd of a cup but you could use as little as 1/4. I would not go much over that unless you are making a LOT of Gravy. Just spread the flour over the sausage and drop the heat down to around 5 or just medium. 

Add the milk a little at a time, and you might be adding up to 2 cups depending on the thickness and consistency you want to have in the sauce. You can go over 2 cups but if you get to three this is going to be really runny. I would start by adding a half cup and then splashing in more from there.

SECRET INGREDIENT:

once you get your desired thickness in the liquid drop in 1 pat, 1 ounce, of salted butter.

From here, season to taste. Have biscuits at the ready and get your grub on

Cheers,

E.


 

echoes

A restaurant in town used to have a drink called a , "Pain killer." Here is my take on the drink so, if you like rum and coconut, sit back and get ready:

2.5 oz Rum ( I have used a 15 yr KS aged dark rum but you can use bacardi light or dark.)
2 oz Simple Syrup
3 oz Pineapple mango banana OJ ( Dole makes this or you can do 2 oz pineapple and 1 oz OJ)
2 oz Pina Colada Mix
splash cherry juice

Shake on ice and then pour into an appropriate glass. to be very fancy you could toast coconut and rim the glass with the toasted shards.

More later.

Cheers.

echoes

I am not a big fan of flavored hard liquor. I like the honesty behind spirits, I like the brutal reality of the morning after announced every time my throat burns as bourbon finds its way home. Hard liquor, spirits, Uisge Beatha ( water of life in Scottish Gaelic) or any other name for the various happy fun time liquids does not mince words. Bourbon will straight up tell you that it plans to smack you in the face tomorrow morning if you drink to much. Scotch, Tequila, Gin and so on all do so in various accents while NEVER lying to you that you will be alright. When you make mixed drinks, well, the message gets muddled with names like : The old Fashioned, The Gimlet, the Martini, a Moscow Mule and others there is still a sense of decorum
Liqueurs, on the other hand, will straight lie to your face. They are brightly colored, more sweet than burn and have cutesy names like "A Fuzzy Navel," or scandalous sobriquets such as a "Red Headed Slut." The fact is that liqueurs will lie and tell you that you can have another one, and another one until you suddenly turn into the Tasmanian Devil as everything you drink gets ejected all at once. * get that vision and sound effect out of your head. I dare you. Those of you who have done this know exactly what I am talking about.*
 
What I am about to suggest is a delicious and yet terrifying drink so be warned.

The Peanut Butter Cup.

Just the name evokes the America candy of chocolate and peanut buttery goodness and here is how to make the shot:

1 oz. Screwball peanut butter Bourbon ( that alone should terrify you)
1 oz Bailey's Irish Cream
1 oz Creme de Cacao

you can layer the shot ( chill the alcohol first if you want to do this) and you can substitute Kahlua for the cream de Cacao if you want a coffee finish. You can do flavors cream liqueurs in place of baileys. you can do this on ice instead of doing it as a shot.

You can garnish this with mini peanut butter cups if you want.

Be warned. This will get you drunk. it will also make you pay. But damn if it doesn't taste good.

Cheers,

E. 

echoes

Science times my friends.


It is about to be cookout season here in the states, with some parts of the country already having the type of weather that encourages fire pits, late nights and slushy drinks while various meats and veggies sizzle over a grille or BBQ. Some part of the world have this type of weather all year and there are people that grill out all year long whether there is rain, snow or the occasional tsunami. For now, lets just say that you are getting ready for your first outdoor cooking event of the year and you are going to make sure that there is at least 1 type of meat that gets touched by heat.

Before you go throwing cuts of beef, pork, chicken, emu, goat or what have you down on a piece of scorching hot metal you will more than likely have done one of two things. You have either added "dry" seasoning in the form of spices or a "rub" ( No innuendo here I assure you but you are rubbing meat so your mileage may vary) or a "wet" marinade. Marinades more than likely originated from brine ( salt/sea water) which were used to pickle various foods ( thus lending that word to turning cucumbers into pickles and all that) but gradually became more complex in an effort to add flavor as well as making meats softer. The reason I am bringing all this up is because most people don't realize that there is quite a bit of chemistry that comes into play when cooking meats.

Marinades usually fall into one of two categories and the first style uses natural acids to break down the parts of meat that make it "tough" or "chewy." Most everyone knows about citric acid; lemon juice may jump to mind here. But not as many know about how pineapple juice is really a player when it comes to tenderizing meats. Pineapple juice is acidic, somewhere between 3.5-4 in acidity means its right in the middle of how acidic it is on the PH scale. For comparison: a lemon is between 2-3 making it more acidic but the pineapple comes loaded with an extra level of chemistry. Pineapple itself has a mixture of enzymes called Bromelain that, in short , digests meat. Think about that the next time you eat a piece pf pineapple and your moth starts to tingle, yes, it is effecting the meat in your mouth. Creepy. Right?

Anyway, Bromelain specifically breaks down the collagens in meat that holds it together thus making it more tender and make pineapple one of the best natural meat tenderizers. This is why so many recipes call for pineapple juice as part of their ingredients. The longer you marinate in the juice the more the proteins will be broken down and the softer the meat will be when you finally cook it.

So, while this week is not about a specific recipe I do hope the ad hoc science lesson gives you inspiration for when you finally get to get your cook on. Not only does this help prepare the meat it also adds a great flavor that pairs well with spices and other ingredients when you are cooking.

Cheers,

E.

echoes

Been a bit and I will get some food up. I made my first even chocolate cake and chocolate buttercream from scratch and both of these were successes all the way. I made my first Pastry Creme, Creme patissiere, and while the taste and texture was right on target I didn't give it enough time to set so it was all sorts of fail. Did a version of Potatoes au Gratin and then made some drinks, so I will try to get back with everyone here starting tomorrow. As I mentioned in a PM earlier this evening, the Struggle bus has no breaks and I have been careening from one dramastic ( its a combination of dramatic and drastic if you were wondering where that word came from ) shitshow to the next. 2 + weeks of tooth ache first thought to be one tooth, only to be another. Then the Dentist thought it was a root canal, sent me to an endo for more tests, and more copay, to be told it was cracked AF and it was an extraction. So, the infection that set in is just now subsiding after 3 rounds of antibiotics and I am missing a tooth. And this is just some of what I have been dealing with. But hey, on the good news, the one bebe powner was born on Thursday morning at 7am and he is a beast that was named Colin. he came out almost 50 inches tall at the shoulder, his mama looked like she was about to have a bebe elephant. So, he is healthy as all get out and that is good. I will try to pay the animal tax here soon but as you all know, I suck with pictures.

More tomorrow,

E.

echoes

My gods this month has been a dumpster fire but, hey, we are almost at the end. So, on top of all the fun stuff I have been dealing with my Significant other decided that getting a tick hitchhiker and Lime's disease was the next thing we needed to mark off on our 2024 Bingo card. So she is on antibiotics to fight that. I know it may be TMI but any time she goes riding I pretty much demand to do a "tick check." Now, while this has, and I'm not going to lie but I am not going into details as this is a pg-13 blog, turned into rather fun shenanigans from time to time it has also turned up being rather important as I have found ticks trying to settle in to a new home. In fact, since she first got bit two weeks ago I have found 2 more ticks and one, if this doesn't creep out out, was only as big at the tip of a ball point pin.

So for those of you who hike, ride horses, love nature and just like being outdoors I am going to do a PSA and tell you that the winter, despite what you may think, did not get cold enough and ticks, along with a fuckton of other insects, are going to be really bad this year. She was wearing a long sleeved shirt and had sprayed all sorts of bugspray and still got two additional passengers on different occasions. Be careful out there and if you start scratching and you don't know why, find someone you can trust and look everywhere. These things do not have a "preferred" spot to dig in. One was just under her left shoulder and the other was on her right side above her hip. These are equal opportunity blood suckers.

Now, for me, I can open my jaw and I have gotten some of my sense of taste back, but the loss may have been from the chlorohexadine mouthwash I was using to keep my surgery site clean. Im dealing with some side effects of all the antibiotics that I have been taking but, in better news, I am not rolling 800 mg Ibuprofen and 1000mg Tylenol every 4 hours. That was beginning to wreck my system and I wasn't in the mood to cook much. That said, next post will be about my recent experiences with Pastry Cream.

Stay tuned, typing that now.

echoes

So the girlfriend, and our adoptive horse daughter (Ie: her friend who we have kinda taken under our wings but who is an adult,) both really like desserts and, while I am a cook, I am not a baker or a pastry person. I have been stretching a bit and I blame them and a compulsive need to watch British baking shows ( I miss Mel and Sue!) In these shows they always talk about: Creme Pat. Creme Patisserie, pastry cream or the a fore mentioned Creme Pat is part of the Custard family that also includes Creme Anglaise and Creme Brulee. The difference between these three goes something like this: Anglaise is a "pouring" custard that is more like a sauce where as Pastry Creme is thick and used as a filling. Creme Brulee is baked custard that is also called " burnt custard" because there is a layer of sugar atop the custard that is usually caramelized with some form of direct heat ( ie: broiler in an over or, in my case, a kitchen blow torch.

Outside of the differences in thickness and cooking methods the ingredients are almost all the same. We are talking: Egg yolks, Vanilla (I use a combination of Vanilla bean and extract,) sugar, salt and cream. This will cover both the Anglaise and the Brulee with the Creme Pat including either flour or corn start as a thickening agent and additional butter. Methods of cooking for all three begins atop the stove in either a double boiler or, in my case, with direct heat. One more thing all of these have in common: Patience. You have to go slow or you will end up burning the cream and that will just suck for everyone involved.

So, on a previous post I mentioned I tried to make a Creme Pat and didn't give it enough time to set, I'm not joking when I say you have to have patience and so, with this in mind, I was ready to try it again and also was feeling froggy and felt like I needed to hop. My previous attempt was spot on in flavor but I didn't get the set. With this in mind I decided I was going to make a Chocolate Creme Pat I succeeded but not 100%. I got a good A- on the dessert and I will tell you what I did wrong. So here we go:


Chocolate Creme Patisserie

Ingredients:
2 cups of heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon of espresso powder
3/4ths cup of sugar   * Read to the end on this amount
salt
6 egg yolks
3 tablespoons of coco powder
4 tablespoons of corn startch
4 tablespoons of butter ( cut into 1 tablespoon blocks)
1 inch vanilla bean
1 tablespoon Vanilla extract

I explored several different recipes and sort of made a hybrid of a couple of them so I can't give credit to any one recipe but explore on line and see what you feel will work for you.

1: sauce pan on medium heat with the cream and the vanilla extract. I want this just under scalding, not quite to a boil, so use medium heat and keep an eye on it.

2: take the vanilla bean and carefully split it down the middle. take the two pieces and use the back of a butter knife to scrape the seeds out before putting the seeds and the bean in with the cream and extract. becareful here, cutting the finger is really easy if you rush.

3: while the cream mixture heats you crack and separate the yolks from the whites of 6 eggs. Some recipes call for more eggs but our chickens lay some mondo sized eggs and I only needed 6. Keep as much of the whites out as you can and if the yolk breaks on you that is ok.

4: using a fork to mix everything together you add in the sugar, the coco powder, the corn starch, a big pinch of salt and the espresso powder to the eggs. DO NOT use a whisk as this is going to be super thick and will get stuck inside the whisk

5:Once the cream is just about to bubble regularly you take it off the heat and this is where you really need patience as you get a work out. First, get a fine mesh sieve or strainer and set it nearby and then set a whisk beside the "dry" mixture but use the fork to begin as you SLOWLY add the cream to the dry portion. You will pour in a little at a time and mix it constantly or your will create chocolate scrambled eggs and that just sounds disgusting. once you have enough cream in with the dry that it becomes more "liquidy" you change over to the whisk and you continue to pour the cream into the dry portion until it all combined.

6: Once combined you set the cream pan back on the stove, still on medium heat though turn it down 1 notch and then set the strainer atop the pan. Pour the mixture through the strainer ( this will catch the vanilla bean pieces) back into the pan and let it heat up. constantly stir the mixture and again, use patience. The heat will activate the corn starch and it will start to thicken. As you see the mixture thicken start to add the butter once piece at a time until the butter is incorporated and then pull the cream off of the heat.

You now have pastry cream and it will continue to thicken. You can pour it into several containers and set in the fridge to cool. Do not cover, it will create condensation and will give you a skin atop the top of the container. You dcan do what I did and pour it into a pre-made graham cracker pie shell or you can divide it up into smaller containers to eat like pudding.

Now, I said I succeeded but not at 100%. The recipe above makes for a "dark"chocolate tasting custard which would be a great filling for a pastry or something sweeter to balance the food out. if you want something sweeter, which I did, you need to increase the amount of sugar to at least a cup, possibly a cup and a quarter of sugar. Had I made a sweet whipped cream this would have been the bomb but I didn't have any whipped cream so I suck.

Anywho, its not that hard and it is fun to make.

More food soon.

Cheers,

E.

echoes

Ok, going to double post because I can and all that. this first post is going to be some products that I have recently tried and I can wholeheartedly suggest to those who might be interested. Recently Kirkland Signature has released several of their own liquor products including their: Small Batch Bourbon ( Barton's 1792,) Cristalino Anejo Tequila, a 15 year old Dark rum and a Port cask finished Dark Rum.

Now, despite being a bourbon person I skipped the Small batch and remained loyal to the Basil Hayden's Dark Rye that I have favored for the last three or so months. That said, I have both of the rums and I just recently bought the Cristalino and I am going to talk about that in this post and save other posts for the rums.

Kirkland Signature Cristalino is a clear Anejo tequila and that really through me off but before we get into this lets talk about Tequila and is generalized types that refer to its age or a blending process. 

Gold Tequila:

Most of America knew tequila to be Cuervo, and specifically Cuervo Gold, and only Cuervo for the longest of times. All Tequila comes from the Agave plant which is indigenous to the arid parts of Central America. A Gold Tequila is intentionally sweetened which gives it the iconic golden color though it is not necessarily aged like a Repasado or Anejo Tequila. Like other liquors, the coloration of the Tequila should come from how long it is left in casks to absorb caramels and other aspects of the wood surrounding it. Tequila saw a boom in growth in the 90's that came back after the turn of the century. Now, along with the steadfast Cuervo and Sauza brands, there are numerous brands of varied proofs and flavors. Several famous people have their own brands: Sammy Hager and Cabo Wabo, George Clooney and Casa Amigos along with others come to mind. But, for most of us, we start with the tried and true Cuervo if you are in the states.

Blanco/Plata Tequila:

Meaning "White" or "silver" Tequila, this is a clear Tequila that is aged no more than two months before being bottled. This is why the color is clear and this tequila is the basis of most Margaritas for those who just want to get their mixed drink on. You can shoot this Tequila with its famous "sidecars" of salt and lime or you make it mixed in the above named Margarita or the other famous drink; The Tequila Sunrise.

Repasado:

"Rested" Tequila that has a light amber/golden color is aged 2-12 months to develop flavor and color. This is for your higher end mixed drink but is also something that is not so much a shooter style drink. I mean, you can still shoot it, you can do that with anything ( thought I would say scotch is an exception, that should always be done slowly IMO but that is me. Now this should be aged in Oak Casks which is the most common wood for resting Tequila.

Anejo:

"Aged" Tequila is left in smaller cask ( usually under 200 gallons ) for 1 - 3 years and has the deepest color of the various ages. This, when you get a high quality Tequila, can be sipped like a bourbon. You do not need sidecars thought hey can still be employed.

So, Cristalino is a clear Anejo which threw me off when I read that. I got a bottle and had my first pull this evening. The warmth is immediate and it tastes like an Anejo is that it doesn't have the rawness of a Blanco or Plata Tequila. I can see this in mixed drinks but find that it is not bad on its own. It will not be for everyone, and i can easily see this inducing a headache the next morning if you indulge a little to much. But, as a table tequila, or an end of the night cap to the evening, its not bad.

That is it for the Tequila, read the next post for cooking with rum.

Cheers,

E.

echoes

Molasses and Dark Rum glaze for pork chops:

1 Cup Dark Rum
3/4ths cup Dark Molasses
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
4 tablespoons of Butter
dash of salt
dash of garlic powder
dash of Onion Powder.

In a pot start the rum, molasses, brown sugar, lemon juice and seasoning. Get the liquid to a slow boil and let it reduce. You will need to stir pretty constantly so keep an eye on this. once the liquid has started to reduce add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time and the liquid will thicken. you can use let butter if you want it looser, or more to thicken it up more.

Pull off heat and let sit. here you have two options because this will be strong. 1) put it in a dish on the side and use it for dipping meat ( I used it with pork chops but it will also go well with chicken. I would not suggest beef right out of the gate) or 2) lightly drizzle ( do not cover completely) over meat of choice. Also went well with carrots.

Cheers,

E.

echoes

"Hide the Rum!"

Pineapple Rum Glaze for chicken

Friends, I made art tonight and it was all that was good and worth monching! ( Monching is what horse call eating; whether it is grassgrass or a bukkit, monching is an important part of a horse's day.)

2.5 cups pineapple juice
1 cup dark rum
3/4ths cup of brown sugar
splash lemon juice
3 tablespoons of butter
pinch of salt
pinch of garlic powder
pinch of powdered onion
(Optional) tablespoon of Cayenne pepper

In a pot start everything but the butter and the Cayenne pepper. get this to a light boil. If you go high heat this will boil over, not if... it will. You want a low slow rumble boil and you want this to reduce until there is about 1/3rd of the original amount of liquid in the pot. add in the butter and, if you want, the cayenne to give it a little kick.

* it you think it is to think you can make a slurry of 1/4 of cold water and about a tablespoon of cornstarch. Only add enough to get this thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, its a glaze and not a sauce.


This is great on chicken, though it could work with pork as well. I used 4 chicken breasts and seasoned them before placing them on a flattop griddle. After the first flip I started brushing the chicken liberally. The glaze adds amazing flavor to accompany whatever seasoning you have on the chicken ( My case: salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and paprika.)

Cheers,

E.

echoes

I made a salted caramel cheesecake last week and, as anyone reading this knows, I am not a baker but I am a cook. I will say, and have confirmed through multiple sources at work and at home, that I got this shit right this time. The cheesecake was light, not dense, and had a great texture. The crust was a Graham cracker crust with cinnamon, cayenne pepper, butter and sugar that, Ok, here is a question for you all. Have you ever felt that store bought, or mass manufactured, dessert crusts are to thin? Like, there is the base and then a 45 or 90 "side" at the edge of the pie (or what have you) and that is it? So, I feel this way and instead of doing a crust like that I packed in additional graham cracker mix in the corner between the side and the base of the cheesecake. So, instead of just a 90 degree base/side traditional crust there was "ramp" of crust from the bottom to the side.

Does that make sense? I hope it does.

Anywho, not what this post is about. Instead lets talk about a version of caramel that is super easy to make and really has some versatility. Ingredients first:

3/4ths cup of brown sugar
1 cup heavy Cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
8 tbsp butter.

Kosher or sea salt

So, into a pot on medium heat goes the sugar, heavy cream and half the butter and the 1/2 tsp of salt. bring this up to temp and get it just below boiling. as it starts to thicken add the vanilla and continue to add the remaining butter to get the thickness you want. Pull from the heat and get into a heat resistant glass container and cool in the fridge. once it has cooled down cover.

So where does the sea salt/kosher salt come in?

So, lets say you made brownies and you want to pour this caramel goodness atop the brownies. Go for it, and when done you sprinkle the salt atop the caramel. This way you get little blasts of flavor without overloading the sauce itself.

Final note; this is not a traditional caramel sauce and is prolly closer to a dulce de leche. Meh, it worked. Tastes like caramel, looks like caramel and so on.


this week I am either going to make a tres leches or try to make a swiss roll and will prolly do something with pork for an evening bukkit.

Cheers,

E.