Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Halloween Site for Foodies

It just don't get any better than this, baby. I recently found the blog and website of a butcher/chef in San Francisco named Ryan Farr. I'd never heard of him before today, and now I'll never forget him. This man does A-MAY-ZING things with all the parts of the animal that your mom told you to wash up after touching. And he seems obsessed with pork (Ryan, are you married?!) and bacon. Evidently he participated in a Cochon 555 Event in Napa in 2008. Can't say I'm surpried, really...

Check out his site, but be warned that along with phenomenal recipes for homemade bacon, spiced pork shoulder and hotdogs there are... other things...

This Cured Rolled Pig Face is what first caught my eye...

In case you ever wanted to know how to make head cheese from cute little bunnies. Or, Thumper Terrine, as I call it.

Okay, so now it's clear that he may be a bit 'off'...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Dutch Babies

No, this isn't really a post on how to eat infants from the Netherlands; this isn't that kind of food blog. This is a recipe for a German Pancake, also called a Dutch Baby. I learned this recipe back in high school from a friend who used to make them for Sunday brunches. Cousin to Yorkshire pudding and popovers, they're in the class of eggy, savory pastries that puff up when you cook them (and sometimes make really entertaining egg-and-flour sculptures, depending on how you've mixed your ingredients or where the hot spots in your oven are). Traditionally served with lemon and powdered sugar, they're equally good with jam or berry syrup. This recipe is more or less as it was told to me, many moons ago, by my high school friend, with tips added from years of practice.

2 large eggs
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
Preheat oven to 400 F. Put a couple of tablespoons of butter into a glass pie pan and stick the pan in the oven for a few minutes so that the butter will melt in the pan. It's OK if the butter browns a little, but don't let it burn - burned butter is nasty.

While the butter is melting, whisk the eggs in a glass bowl. You can whip them up until they have some bubbles on the top and this will make your Dutch Baby fluffier, but it isn't a requirement - it'll still rise regardless. Add the milk and stir until blended. Stir in the flour until just blended, but don't worry too much if it looks lumpy, and don't overmix - it shouldn't be too thick.

Take the pie pan out of the oven and swirl the melted butter around until it coats the bottom of the pan evenly. Now comes the crucial part: pour the batter into the center of the pan. As it spreads out, the butter will come up around the edges, but DON'T mix in the butter! Somehow the magic of the melted butter around the rim is what makes it puff up the way it does.

Bake for 15 minutes. When it comes out of the oven it should look something like this:

Serve with lemon wedges and powdered sugar.

Grilled Bok Choy

Don't forget to eat your veggies!

One fine evening this past summer, Ms. Lexi invited m'self and m'spouse over to her place for a spontaneous grill night, where she turned me on to the delight that is grilled baby bok choy. We've had it at quite a few cookouts since. It's simple to prepare, looks great, tastes yum, and has enough flavor to stand up well with the various main courses we've served it with (including spice-rubbed London broil, grilled chicken, and oysters).

1 baby bok choy per person, sliced in half lengthwise
Olive oil
Salt & pepper

Arrange the sliced bok choy on a baking sheet and brush both sides with olive oil. If you like a little more flavor, you can use an herb-infused oil, but nothing too strong since one of the great things about bok choy is its light, cabbage-like flavor.

Season with salt & pepper to taste. We usually just sprinkle seasonings on the cut side of the bok choy, but you could also season your oil before brushing, to eliminate a step.

Grill over medium coals until the bulb is tender-crisp and the leaves are crisp and lightly charred.

"Medium coals" for us often means that the bok choy is cooking to one side of the fire or with the grill open so that the heat dissipates. You don't want to absolutely charbroil the stuff - it's a veggie, not a Cajun catfish.

Here's the delightful little things after being turned once. The edges of the leaves get nice and crunchy-crisp and just a little bitter, while the bulb stays hot and sweet and retains a slightly spicy cabbage-like flavor. It's a great contrast to rich meats, and washes down well with dry white wines or lighter beers.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Best Leg of Lamb You'll Ever Eat

After the Party

Best. Lamb. Ever.

This is no idle boast - Seriously.

My family is Greek. Lamb is what we do and we know it like nobody you'll ever meet. This is the best lamb you'll ever eat. Know someone who doesn't like lamb? Feed 'em this, and you'll have a convert. A few years back a guy advised me that if I fed this lamb to any potential husband material, I'd snag him for life.

NOTE: If you don't have FRESH garlic, lemon and rosemary, go make frank n' beans. This ain't WalMart food.

1 Leg of Lamb (whole leg, ankle to hip)
4 lemons
1 head garlic (whole head, not just one clove)
1 large handful of rosemary sprigs
1/4 cup extra extra extra extra virgin olive oil (The darker and greener, the better).
2 Tbl Salt
2 Tbl Pepper

*Note: If using a small lamb roast instead of an entire leg, cut the ingredients to 1/3 the recommended amounts.

Note the weight of the leg of lamb. You'll need it later.

Grate as much of the lemon rind as possible from the lemons (only the yellow part - too much pith makes it bitter), then juice the lemons. Marinate the lamb in the juice/rind mixture for 3 hours.

Prepare a paste by chopping the rosemary leaves (not stems) and garlic as finely as possible. If you can get it into a smooth paste, you rock. Otherwise just do your best (it's not easy). Mix with the olive oil.

Cross-score the lamb fat on the leg. Rub the salt and pepper into the scores in the fat. Coat the leg with the paste to make a crust, rubbing well into the scores.

Roast in a 325 degree oven for 30 minutes per pound (remember the weight of the roast?).

Let the meat rest for 20 minutes under tented foil before cutting. It should still be pink in the middle.

FOR GOD'S SAKE, DON'T SERVE MINT SAUCE!!! Mint sauce was invented by idjits who didn't like the taste of lamb. It's like covering a beautiful steak with ketchup. The meat should be moist and flavorful enough without sauces or gravies. Good side dishes with this are roasted greek potatoes, orzo with avgolemono or lemon spinach.


I think there's something really visceral and old fashioned about inviting a whole bunch of people to a meal and then just roasting a huge chunk of an animal. Our ancestors did it, their ancestors did it and lots of cultures still have a tradition of sharing a big ol' joint. ... um, of meat. The photo at the top was taken after an Easter party, where guests were welcome to serve themselves from food in the kitchen over the course of an afternoon. I walked into the room and literally saw nothing but bones and scraps of rosemary on the serving platter. Our guests had picked the bones clean - there wasn't even enough left to make a decent lamb stock. The photo was purely spontaneous but I love what it represents: friends and family, taking nourishment from a single source. Corny? Probably. But true. And... delicious.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Red Dwarf Food: Triple Fried Egg Chili Chutney Sandwich Recipe

The trick, Lister says, is to eat it before the bread dissolves.

Extensive research and recipe testing has been done to get this sandwich recipe as perfectly accurate as possible to the sandwich in the Red Dwarf episode, Thanks for the Memory. Many versions of this sandwich are out there on the web, but I think this one is the most accurate to the show. When making this recipe, keep in mind that it's Lister who recommends it. Lister, with his one remaining taste bud and his British equivalent of white trash eating habits. Ironically, it's DELICIOUS.

Most recipes I've read assume the 'triple' refers to the number of eggs, but if you watch the sandwich scene closely, you'll notice that the 'triple' refers to the number of pieces of bread. Which incidentally, should be the cheapest white bread you can find: would Lister really eat whole grains? Artisan bread? Specialty Loaves? Not on your life.

Four eggs turned out to be the magic number, fried to a runny, gloppy perfection. This is NOT a neat sandwich.

The chutney we found is an inexpensive, gooey and sweet concoction more like jam than anything else and it pours beautifully, making a perfect mess of the bread. Lord knows what it's made of (something brown?). If your chutney has fruit that can actually be identified, it's too fancy - something only used by class traitors. Gourmet chutney can lead to freqenting WBs, eating tapas, hankerin' for pine kitchens... who KNOWS where it could end?!

The one compromise we were forced to make was that we had a hard time finding East Indian chili sauce in the Pacific Northwest. We're sure that's what Lister would have used, but lacking that we got the next best thing, Rooster Sauce, which is easily as hot and since it's from Southeast Asia, it uses similar peppers for the base.

3 slices of the cheapest white bread you can find.
4 Eggs, fried with runny yolks.
Chili Sauce

Spread generous amounts of chutney and chili sauce on two slices of the bread.

Place 2 fried eggs each on the prepared bread.

Stack the layers, placing the third piece of bread on the top.

*Eating this sandwich should feel like you're having a baby. If not, you need more chili.

EDIT: Try it with a Beer Milkshake.