EPIC weekend of food and fun!

Well…it started with a concert by a friend of mine who turned a special age that night (YOU DON’T SAY THE AGE). Late at night two days before I found out there was no birthday cake for her, so I scrambled, and came up with a great plan…at least I think so, since it came off perfect, and was pretty damn theatrical! I go up on stage (unexpected to her, but normal for me) and give a short little speech which was the cue to bring UP the lights and light the candles. As her attention was drawn to me, she wouldn’t see the lighting of the candles. Then as I start Happy Birthday, the cake comes out, and the lights go out. NOW she knows something is up and turns around, and the cake comes in… Then it’s served! Kayt 40th-10
(The photo isn’t the best…but I was shooting with one hand, while singing behind the mic!)

I really do need to once again thank all the staff for ALL their help in this…and remembering their cues!🙂 They didn’t have time to get the cake done, so I made it, and they were SO gracious in allowing me to bring it in to serve, and handled the cake with care!

Fast Forward about 14 hours… it’s a dinner for her… but she didn’t REALLY know that at the time. I have 2 friends who own a beautiful home 30 minutes from me. I’ve tried to have them down here for a few years for a meal, but they haven’t been able to due to many things…work and kids… So they invited me up! Since it was the day after my dear friend (of 15 years) Birthday…I themed it a bit more towards her. A lot of the flavours of the dishes were things that we have shared over the years…only ONE is roughly the same dish…but many of the flavours of different dishes… I had another friend of mine join us as well…

So, the first course was an Amuze Bouche (amuse your mouth)… essentially a small bite that would foretell most of the rest of the tastes in the meal. It was albacore tuna loin as a ceviche with dill, red onion, cilantro, lemon and lime, and capers.

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(Photo: Mandy Lau)

Course 2 was a cold cucumber soup with green pepper, cilantro, a squeeze of lime,  little Apple cider vinegar and a little cracked black (Hawaiian) salt on top. The air bubbles in it from blending made it a much lighter bite, and the salt brought out a certain freshness in the ingredients that you wouldn’t expect! It acted as a palate cleanser.

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(Photo: Mandy Lau)

The 3rd course was a little more intense. We’ve named it: “Asian style fish and chips”. It’s sort of a trio… On the left of the photo, you have albacore sashimi on top of black garlic (see last post), the right is a bed of deep friend shoestring sweet potatoes with a malt vinegar reduction, 2 poached quail eggs, and a small scoop of caviar. Served along side of a scratch made dashi broth (the step BEFORE making miso soup) with scallions and a boiled crawfish.

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(Photos: Mandy Lau)

The crawfish boil was more of an intermediate dish…tying this and the next course together… and of course…the next we didn’t get a photo of…but it was a homemade dumpling with roast corn and shrimp…sort of a deconstructed Louisiana crawfish boil… served on a lingonberry sauce…

Then…after all this… the main course!  Beef Burgionon. 3 types of beef. Regular stewing beef, Wagyu beef (NOT KOBE…if you see KOBE* in Canada…it’s NOT real, except ONE place in Montreal**…), and Wild Boar. With the help of Brett, I smoked the wild boar, and seared the others as normal in this recipe. Added the wine to deglaze the pan, and added more to the pot with the carrots, onions, heirloom tomatoes, tomato paste and celery.
The wild boar was added at the end to add a little smokeyness and a different texture…

This was served alongside a mushroom risotto, made from a wild-foraged (dried) 3 mushroom mix from Ontario, started with the soaking water, then adding vegetable stock as needed. Real Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano at the end… served family style…

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Before Serving (Photo: Mandy Lau)

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After Serving (Photo: Mandy Lau)

This was ALL capped off with a very special dessert that I created especially for this night…
It was a trio of desserts. The first was a Coconut and Cognac Ice Cream, with a roasted walnut. The second was a Pinot Grigio (Birthday girls favourite)  Wine Ice Cream with rose petals and lavender. (Wine and roses…for a birthday…WHY NOT!) Served with two small pieces of chocolate coffee cake. Because…birthday = cake! Now…It’s hard to see, but my birthday friend is a mandolin player…so I cut the cake into little guitar picks!

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(Photo: Mandy Lau)

All in all…I think this came off AMAZINGLY! The prep time wasn’t nearly as much as what I thought… other than actually making the black garlic***, this could all be prepped in just a few hours…and most can be done AS you’re making other courses. You just need to know when to start what…and have a plan that you’ve gone over… over and over again. I’ve been planning this for months, fixing and changing as I go… I DID cut a few things from the meal on the fly, but only because it would have changed the taste of certain things, or made some things to sweet as I went along. That’s the key to something like this, even though you plan for months…you STILL need to be adaptable on the fly.

I LOVED doing this, I think the meal came off great! I CANNOT wait to do something like this again! This was a lot of fun!

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*Kobe beef come from Wagyu…but is MUCH different. It’s the same species, but handled much different. Kobe is rare and from Japan (Canada JUST got it’s first license to import). Waygu (the species) is available from a few places. I get mine from New Zealand. I can’t compare them since I haven’t had both, but I can say it IS more marbled than regular beef…but less than Kobe (as I’ve seen in photos). *

**at least at the time of this post. I HAVE heard there may be another restaurant getting a license for it soon… **

*** That takes about 9 days to make at home…but you really only have to think about it after day 7… the rest of the time it’s just…on it’s own, doing it’s thing***

ALSO note, I didn’t add *spices* (Earlier post said recipes!) to this. * I did add herbs, but no salt or anything except for the cracked black salt in the cold cucumber soup. *  Let me know if you want them, I can easily do that…but it would make this single post too long…

Cheers!

Bob

Black Garlic – Take 2

Let’s try this again! There’s a reason you test recipes before sending them out to people! The first batch was just too hard. I’ll use it for something else, but not for what I intended. I used MORE garlic this time…and I’m going to test one clove every day after 4 days… until I get what I want, and then I’ll have the RIGHT recipe! I really do love coming up with new things, or fixing things that simply do not work as written… Like the last time, I’ll update as needed during the time it’s cooking…

Black Garlic

This is going to be a LONG post…not entirely in length of writing…but this condiment takes a LONG time to make… I use condiment lightly…because it could ALSO just be a snack! A snack that takes almost 3 weeks to make!! I’ll just continue updating this page as things change!

I mentioned I had a meal that I was cooking for friends coming up at the end of the month, 24 days from now…and literally, I’m starting the prep for this meal TODAY!
This recipe takes about 15 minutes of work, and 16 – 19 days of waiting! I’m starting now in case it doesn’t work out as I planned and can do another batch if needed (after the cooking I’ll know how it’ll be, the drying just concentrates the flavour).

So…black garlic is HIGHLY caramelized…as in, it’s slow cooked for up to 15 days (at home), at a lower temperature is could be cooked for up to 6 weeks. Though not fermented like people think (I did too at one point due to the taste) it’s actually ONLY heated (lightly…for a long period of time).  It has a syrupy, balsamic vinegar taste to it…and is incredible. My friend and I tried some for the first time a few weeks ago…. and we loved it. I’ve tried to find a supplier for it, and it’s just too expensive to buy (due to the work involved in making it)… so…I’m making it myself! Finally found a good recipe for it… or rather, one that ANYONE can do at home. Though I haven’t smelled it yet…apparently the first few days are extremely pungent… luckily, I LOVE the smell of garlic…so for me it’ll be fine… my neighbours may not like it though…🙂

Tools and Ingredients:
– Garlic
– Rice cooker

(yes, it REALLY is that simple!)

Recipe: (until I change it)

Leave untouched in rice cooker on “keep warm” for 9 days. Then air-dry for another week in a cool dark place. That’s it…that’s all there is!

Peel the garlic first, but JUST the outer skin so you can see the cloves.
Place in the rice cooker and walk away. Hell…if you feel like it, and the rice cooker is in good repair, you can even likely go on vacation!

Here is what step one looks like…

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I’ll take a photo every other day or so, but I really don’t expect to see a lot of difference between now and day 9… Though, based on reviews, I think I might let it go 10 – 12 days…

Updates to come as needed…

End of day 1: My place smells GREAT…just a light garlic smell…which, to me, is like ‘cooking incense’. It’s one of the smells you get at Thanksgiving or Christmas… SOOO good…and then I did something that I should NOT have done… I opened the rice cooker… my nose has been running for the last HOUR! It’s SOOOO pungent (like the recipe said it would!) No real change in the look of them… but the smell is incredible. If you’re stuffed up…start this…then breathe the smell…it’ll clear you out in NO time!

End of day 2: Nose no longer running while smelling it…eyes are burning though! WOW…
I can barely even smell it in my place right now…but open the lid and you’re hit with an amazing smell…and burning eyes! So…concentrate on the smell!

End of day 3: Eyes not burning AS MUCH when smelling the garlic. They are watering though…likely due to the garlic, but maybe just to the beautifullness (new word…get over it) of the dish…

End of day 4: You can just see that’s it’s starting to turn black with some of the cloves with a thinner skin… the aroma is INCREDIBLE! Eyes no longer burning! 8 days to go!

End of day 5: I could burn this as incense…what a great smell! ONE WEEK TO GO!!

End of day 6: You can see more blackness…but the smell is unchanged…it’s working!!!

End of day 7: No external changes…

End of day 9: NO GOOD. Too hard. Trying to fix it, but starting a new batch… THIS is why you recipe test! I’ve put more in this time, so I’ll test it this time ever other day…

 

I should blog more…

Hey everyone! I know I’m not nearly as active here as I wanted to be, or should be! I’m gonna try (again) to post at least one meal I’ve made per week. It might just have gotten easier as I’ve become more used to my new (at Christmas) induction range. Well…not a WHOLE range, just one burner…but it’s awesome…and fast! Put it this way…I woke up really hungry at 2:30am Monday morning…prep AND cooking was done within 10 minutes… It was just a simple stir-fry, but I still had to cut the meat and veg… WOW is this thing fast. In fact, I was able to heat oil, fry, and BURN gyoza within 30 seconds! On my regular electric range, that would take about 4 – 5 minutes!

Last night…I did another stir-fry. More time, more ingredients, more flavour!

Ingredients:

(Since this is a stir-fry… ALL ingredients need to be ready to go before hand since the cooking time is VERY short!)

– 1/4 lb stewing beef (I used Wagyu…since it’s great, and I had it!)
– Bacon Lardons, about a handful
– 5 green onions, sliced to about an inch into the greens
– 1 stalk celery, about 1/3 inch slices
– Red bell pepper, about 1 inch squares. (Any colour works…)
– 1 Cara Cara orange (any orange would do…)
– cayenne
– Spinach

Recipe:

Heat the pan to high, add oil. The oil choice is yours, but make sure it has a high smoke point (so no EVOO). I used basic vegetable oil. The key to cooking in a wok is that you want to maintain high heat ALL the time though cooking. Adding anything to the pan takes heat away, so if you’re doing a full family meal versus a single dish, you want to remove ingredients as you cook. This recipe is for a SINGLE dish (could also be doubled), any more than this you’d want to cook in batches, and keep ingredients warm in the oven as needed… Cooking times will be longer with more of each ingredient.

*Note: as you add ingredients, keep them moving around CONSTANTLY or they’ll burn… This isn’t traditional wok technique…but works for this very well!*

Only add a little oil to start (1tbsp) , the fat from the lardons will add the rest needed! If things start to stick…add a little more oil.

Add the lardons and cook for about a minute, until they just start to release their fat.

Add the red pepper and cook for about 45 seconds. They should JUST start to be shiny and getting a little softer than fresh.

Add the celery. Same as with the bell peppers, 45 seconds until just softening.
Add the beef. Sprinkle with a little cayenne to taste and add a pinch of Kosher or Sea Salt. (This will start to draw out moisture from everything… which will be needed for something that I did NOT do with the dish originally…but will in the future!)

Cook the beef for about a minute or two (to basically rare) and then add the green onions and cook an additional 30 – 45 seconds.

Squeeze in the juice of the cara cara orange. It will steam like crazy if the pan is at the right heat. From years of cooking, I can barely feel it…but if you want, you could squeeze before hand into a bowl and just dump it in…just stir it.

Take it off the heat and add a handful or two of spinach (personal choice was two…because I like it…). You really could use ANY green for this that you like. Spinach, being mild was my choice for this (and I had some)… but dandelion, mustard, arugula would also be fine. Even a ‘salad mix’ would work.

Cover the wok for a minute or two if you can…this will wilt the greens. If not…add the greens and leave on the heat for another 15 seconds, and then remove. Let it sit for another minute or so until the greens wilt. Heartier greens (like the dandelion)  may take a little more time…but the carry over heat should still get them to the right point.

PLATE IT!

Put it on a plate and EAT!

I added some black sea salt after plating for a little crunch… you don’t need too, but it’s pretty low sodium. I’d guess even croutons would work with this…

ADDITIONAL INFO:

I didn’t think it would because of the high heat, but…there was juice in the bottom of the wok…orange and what came out of the vegetables after adding the salt… It was tasty, but I was unprepared for it! So…plate it OVER whatever you want… I think it’d be great with rice… but anything that will absorb the liquid would be fine, like a thin pasta (spaghetti, spagotini, boccocini, papardelle or even tagliatelli).

The finished dish:

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As an additional bonus…here’s the 2:30am experiment:

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Sample – Deconstructed Shrimp Boil

So…I’m doing something next month…and most of the dishes are new to me…so I tested one of the recipes today… a deconstructed shrimp boil. In the end it will be a deconstructed crawfish boil… A tradition in the Southern US, we don’t really have anything like it here…but… I’ll make it… different!

Different is my thing!

So…basically what the dish is, is fried or steamed instead of boiled. It still has shrimp, corn, potatoes, onions and crayfish… but MUCH differently that what they have in the US.

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I started by making the dumpling wrappers… while not as easy as just buying them…they aren’t hard to make if you have a stand mixer and pasta roller…and they taste better! This is also the time to start roasting the corn…
(Note, this is rolling the dough…I forgot to take a photo of the dough before!)

Recipe:
1/3 cup warm water mixed with 1 tsp. of Gojujang.

1 egg
2 cups AP flour
1/2 tsp salt

Add flour and salt to mixer, stir to combine.
Mix egg and water mix until combined.
Add to stand mixer with flour and use dough hook and mix for 10 – 12 minutes. Add water, 1 tsp at a time if needed, but wait until at least 7 minutes have elapsed.
Once into a dough, let it rest for 10 minutes at least…but no more than 15. If it will be more than 15 minutes, you can wrap in plastic wrap and place in fridge. Let it warm (in wrap) for 15 minutes if it’s been in the fridge for more than 30 minutes.

While that is happening, you can boil or steam the crayfish (or in this case, shrimp).
Also a good time to prep the onions, potatoes, apples, and removing the corn from the cob…

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While the dough is resting, saute the onions in a wok, then remove them. Also steam the potatoes and shrimp (if raw). Do those separately…the shrimp should take about 3 – 5 minutes, and the potatoes 10 – 12…DSC_0349

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Next, make the dumplings. Here I have some small sliced baby corn (I couldn’t find anything fresh enough for me, so I used canned baby corn… it worked very well in a pinch!) There’s also some small diced red onions. Place the onions and sliced corn (or kernels if using fresh whole corn) in the dumpling wrapper (no more than 1 tbsp) and wet the edge on one side and close. I have a dumpling press…they’re very inexpensive! If you don’t have a press, you can still make these… just make sure the edges are closed…

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This is the station after steaming the dumplings for 4 minutes. The red colour on them is from the gojujang. You’ll note that two of them have ripped open a bit… partly due to checking one to see if it would release from the pan. In the future, I’ll likely oil them a little first…

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Once the dumplings are steamed, switch back to the wok. Add oil, and then fry the dumplings until they’re browned. Unfortunately, I used my induction cooker (which I’ve never used so far for frying) and my first batch actually burned in less than 10 seconds, and the pan was only heated for 20 seconds at the time! WOW!!  I love the induction cook top, but need to re-learn cooking times!

Once they are browned, remove them and set aside.

Add the apples and cook for about 30 seconds until they just start to change colour. Not browned. What you’re looking for is for them to start taking the colour of everything that has just been cooked in the wok… You didn’t clean the wok did you? Don’t do that…😉 The flavours should linger dish to dish. If something got stuck while cooking…all you want to do is scrape that off… and if need be…wipe that area with a little paper towel.

After the apples take colour, add the onions back, and after 30 seconds, add the potatoes, reserved corn and a pinch of kosher salt (or sea salt). 30 seconds after that, add the shrimp (or crayfish) to reheat.

If serving ‘family style’ pick out some of the seafood to place on top of the dish for presentation. If serving single dishes, you need to get most of them out…which should not be a problem. Plate the apple, potato, onion mixture on the bottom, add gyoza or dumplings on top of that, and then two or three of the shrimp on top. Add a few pieces of lemon for squeezing off to the side and serve!!

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Here’s my final dish…served family style.

Enjoy!

If you have any questions… I’m ALWAYS willing to help!

PORK DUST!

Yeah…you heard me. Pork…turned into a dust.

A friend and I were at a high end restaurant on Monday for a meal during Winterlicious. We shared some of the courses. She shared this with me…after seeing the look on her face after trying it, I knew I had to try to make it! Her bands anniversary is at the end of this week…so I felt it was a GREAT time to make this as a little gift for her!

And me, being me, I made two versions…and neither one was ‘the way’ it’s supposed to be done. As opposed to pork rinds or pork craklins that are usually used… I used pancetta and proscuitto. I mean, it’s an anniversary…you gotta splurge! Well…it was about $15 bucks so ‘splurge’ is not really the right word!

What you need:
Pancetta
Proscuitto
Tapioca Maltodextrin
Sea Salt
Food Dehydrator
Flour Sifter
Blender (or potentially food processor)

Step 1:

Take the pancetta and proscuitto, and lay it out evenly in a food dehydrator. Put papertowels down on the bottom as you draw out a lot of fat (the other kinds described above are MAINLY fat). If doing both as I did, put the pancetta on the bottom, the proscuitto on top. I used all 5 trays I have for mine…
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Step 2:
WAIT! I let it go over 24 hours… though…I didn’t have a choice… I had to work!

After that long it should look like this:
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Each is crispy, and the flavour more concentrated… I know… I tasted it at 12 hours…ended up with half of what I put in! It was GOOD!

Step 3:
Dry off a little bit of the oil. While Tapioca Maltodextrin absorbs fat like flour absorbs water, I wanted a bit more meatier flavour. Paper towel is fine for this (get something labelled unbleached though…).

Step 4:
Blend!
I didn’t actually measure this, since the technique is for a ONLY fat preparation…
Start with about 1 cup of Maltodextrin… and you can add as needed. I also added about 4 tablespoons of salt per batch… You’re not going to be using a lot of this powder or dust, so the additional salt is actually minimal. 6 slices of the proscuitto yields more than 1/2 cup of powder!

Scrape the sides of the blender a lot, as the fat sticks to the sides. Blend and add TM until it’s almost stopped doing that.

Step 5:
Sift! Use a flour sifter, there will be little ‘chunks’ in this … at least there was in mine, I’ve only tried this in a Vitamix blender, so it may have been from heat from friction! I was also in a time crunch, so I may have over done the speed!DSC_0332

Step 6:
Enjoy!!  The taste should be what you’re having (Pancetta or Proscuitto)…but it should melt in your mouth like cotton candy!

Step 7:
DELIVER! Use it as you wish… either ‘in place’ of breadcrumbs… as a garnish, as something playful on the dish… or, in my case, as a gift!

Here’s my final project…which leaves me with A LOT left over… the two jars are maybe about $3 of $15.

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Mushroom Risotto

Friends of mine went to a cooking class… they learned how to make (something like) this. She told me about it, and I decided to make it…ummm…better! NOT that the original was bad, but I could, in the words of Emeril LeGasse…kick it up a notch! I first made a broth of ‘discarded’ mushroom parts.  Then 4 hours before cooking added a hot pepper. An hour before cooking, I added my homemade spicy vegetable stock and benito flakes.

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I started it with an fine diced onion, 3 fine diced garlic cloves and a piece of diced bacon. At the last minute, I added some chopped dill, and some gojujang (a fermented Korean red chili paste).  Let that slowly cook down until the onion is translucent, turn up the heat, then add the rice… fry that for a minute or so, then turn down the heat and add the first cup of stock. Stir constantly as the first 2 to 3 cups will be absorbed pretty fast.

 

Keep an eye on it and continue to add stock/water as it cooks. Taste every 10 minutes or so until it’s no longer al dente. Taste more and more as the time goes on…

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Once it reaches the al dente stage, add the chopped mushrooms and anything else you wish to add…but keep it simple…keep a constant stir at this point…

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Stir until everything is cooked. I used cremini and shitake mushrooms for this, as they cook pretty fast, You can use any type, but put them in as cooking dictates, or cook them ahead of time… IE…if the mushroom takes 20 minutes to cook, cook in advance…

Finish the dish with a pat of butter and some Parmesan cheese stirred into the rice and you’ll be amazed!

STOCK: (8 hours minimum, once cooled, place in fridge)
2 cups boiling water
Trimmed mushroom parts

1 tsp salt.

At 4 hours to go add hot pepper

At 1 hour to go add benito flakes.

 

Rice:

Sweat 1 onion with 3 cloves of garlic, and one half of hot pepper, add bacon.

Add rice  (2 cups) and 2 – 3 cups of stock.
Stir constantly.

Add more stock as needed.

When it reaches al dente, add reserved mushrooms, also add more stock.

Take it off the heat just before it’s cooked, and let it rest for a few minutes. It needs the time to cool and let the remaining stock come in…and you need the time to relax and let your wine come in! I forgot to mention wine earlier…it’s because I forgot I had it waiting to deglaze the pan! Apparently its fine with or without! (And I now have wine for another night!)

Serve however you want! In my case, I decided to go all in and serve it in a Portabello mushroom, though it would easily go with steak or chicken… or pretty much anything…

 

ALL IN was a great choice! The portabello acted as the protein in this dish, and added more mushroom! Anything would have been good, but this just added to the depth!

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Smoking Indoors

Smoking indoors seems kinda NOT like a good idea. You certainly don’t want the fire department to show up! With something like this..they won’t! Funny enough…as I wrote that line, the fire department just drove by! Sadly, I only have a few photos, and I haven’t used this method in a while, but only because I haven’t had the time!

This is pretty basic, and  simple. Use a Dutch Oven…the heavyness of the lid will keep the smoke contained. The only smoke that will be released is while waiting for it to smoke while the lid is off, which you want to see before lidding it and putting it in the oven.

I blogged this in another place a while ago. This one was ribs…I do have a lot of photos for this one, but I wish I had more for the chicken and beef!

Here’s Part One: http://bobdunkin.blogspot.ca/2012/07/smoking-in-oven.html

And Part Two: http://bobdunkin.blogspot.ca/2012/07/smoking-in-oven-part-2.html

Obviously, the cooking times and temperatures will be different for each cut of beef, or pork, or poultry. Basically, it will be the same time and temperature as each would take normally, but add a little time to allow the Dutch Oven to come to the oven temperature INSIDE. This should be about 15 – 20 minutes minutes. Ovens usually have hot and cold spots, unless it’s convection. This method ALSO allows for a much more even cooking overall. Make sure in this case that the oven is AT temperature before putting it in…not just ‘pre-heated’…since that’s still well below what the temperature should be… no matter what, make sure you check it with a meat thermometer.  After about an hour or so of cooking, the smoking stops, so you can insert an oven safe thermometer then.

I mean, c’mon, look at this roast! Smoke ring on the outside, and pretty much the same all the way though! 2013-10-14 22.35.35.jpg

I’ve used this method for roast beef, ribs, chicken…

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I had a chef over to my place a while ago and did a chicken similar to this, the only difference was I spatch cocked it (cutting out the backbone). I didn’t retie it or lay it out flat, but what I did was replace it in the pot a little more open at the bottom, to allow the smoke in to hit both sides of the meat. He said it was the smokiest he’d ever tasted, that the smoke was there throughout the chicken! *Note, this one (in the photo) was done without the plate to hold the meat up, it was a little too gummy on the bottom, the next one had the plate and it was great!*

I ONLY use this pot for smoking, or for cooking things I want just a little smoky! That is, without doing the smoking part, since the cast iron retains some of the flavour. It’s GREAT for potatoes! Move to another bowl before mashing. Since it’s cast iron, I’ve never cleaned it other than just wiping it out, or with a little water rinse.

So, there you have it. How to smoke indoors with minimal smoke, and not having the fire department come rushing to your door. Though, I think if they did, they might just want to stay for dinner!

 

 

 

Espresso Caviar in Sugar Cups

Okay…this is ‘high end’ for sure…but still very affordable. If you have an espresso machine, no matter how basic, this is GREAT… hell…even with simple coffee reduced a little bit more, this will be great!

Okay, the basics:

Isomalt (you can use regular sugar turned into sugar glass, but Isomalt keeps the glycemic rating down…) You’ll want that given the amount of sugar involved!

Espresso (3 servings, reduced by evaporation/heat to 2 servings), then go by instruction (0.5% of weight of Sodium Alginate to espresso…though I found 0.7% better).  To evaporate, as the espresso is made, put into a pot, and boil off 1/3 of what you put in. Not doing this is fine, but this gives a more concentrated flavour, since there’s very little ‘caviar’ in the final mix!

Drop this using a pipette or small syringe into a bath of Calcium Chloride, following instructions on it as well…About 1 tsp/750ml or so… at least, that what my math worked out to…but… I’m not a math wiz!

Caramel powder (use milk instead of cream at the same ratio, to a dry point, then blend). Using milk (instead of cream and butter) leaves a VERY different caramel. It’s not even really caramel…but I don’t know what it is! But DAMN is it good! Tastes like caramel, and is dry to the point you can blend it to powder!

Using isomalt makes it a LOT less sugary… it’s less sweet than using regular sugar, but that shows off a bit more of the bitterness of the espresso, and enhances the sweetness of the caramel powder.

‘RECIPE’ IS FOR 100 ‘CUPS’ … each ‘cup’ is a small silicon mold…

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Cook the 3 cups of isomalt, time depends on heat, it will stall at times as water cooks out… (212F, 255F, and 300F in my case) use a candy thermometer to get to 333F.  At 333F, shock in bath of cold water in sink, as cold as the tap water can get is fine.  DON’T GET WATER IN THE SOLUTION…YOU WILL NEED 911 IF YOU DO! After hissing stops, put into steel server, or pyrex measuring cup. Do this over the counter! Place in 300F oven for 15 minutes to let bubbles to settle. USE heat gloves now… I shouldn’t need to tell you this, but this is VERY hot! Place the amount you need in the cups so that your can spread them up the sides. Don’t fill them full! Usually, on the first pour, your can get 8 shells, then 4 (as they cool down, then 2 and 2 before it needs to be reheated for 10 – 15 minutes). Once the sugar is in the mold (after each ‘step’ the 8, 4, 2 and 2), use a spoon to spread it up the sides to create the bowl. After the 16 created here, discard the spoon, and add the hardened sugar back to the mix at the end of the next batch of cups.

You can make the ‘caviar’ while the  cups are cooling, make the cups faster by putting it in the fridge… Don’t forget to put  the isomalt container back in the oven!

If you try this, I can say you won’t get it on the first try…and there’s nothing wrong with that… This is science, and cooking, which is a science of itself! Experiment, try, fail, learn, try again… that’s how this all started! The only failure you can do, is not to learn and try again! That’s how I found that .7% of Alginate worked better than .5%… could be my elevation, or the minerals in the water! This is a precise thing, and MINIMAL changes…changes everything!

NOTE: Once the three pieces are together, they only last about 10 – 15 minutes!
Cups and powder will last a while, but only add the espresso caviar when ready to serve! Otherwise the liquid in them will melt the other ingredients!

Let me know if you have questions! I am by NO MEANS an expert in this…but I love to learn, and even looking into questions you have gives me knowledge!

Justin Warner: The Laws of Cooking…and how to break them!

This could be a book review…or an endorsement…or, well… how I do things! Take this any way you will! And Justin…if you’re reading this, come to Toronto, I’ll cook for you…and you can do the dishes!😉

Though I’ve only browsed the book so far, I have to say… I agree! As someone who has cooked cakes on a BBQ, unconventional is my middle name!

Hell…I’ve MAPLE SMOKED GIN to make a Maple Smoked Martini!
Full Smoke

While I haven’t had a chance to read the entire book, I gotta say he hasn’t been NEAR as umm…expansive in breaking some rules as I have! Or maybe I’m just more insane!🙂
(Edit: I’ve read more…yeah…he outpaces me! But he’s a chef, and I’m not…so he has a lot more time in the kitchen!)
His gear section lists many things…all of which I have! (well, not exactly HAVE…I just bought a creamer which is coming this week…) But I use them differently as well. Like the dutch oven. He uses one for deep frying… GREAT idea, but I have a great deep fryer bigger than that, it was more expensive, about $90 on sale… my dutch oven is used mainly IN the oven to control heat (cold spots) for SMOKING things indoors! The lid keeps the smoke in and keeps the Fire Department away! I REALLY need to make a post on how I do that!

I use my rice cooker for MUCH more than rice! I also use it for cooking chicken, beef and fish for tacos! The “keep warm” function is also great for things like mulled apple cider!

While I don’t have the capacity to dry age for a long time… I DO have a rig to do it at home! I made it for about $6. MUCH cheaper than buying dry aged beef…but only good for about 5 days versus the 30 – 90 days that commercial places can do… but the flavour change is still VERY notable! I think I got the idea from one of his mentors, Alton Brown… Hell, I get a lot of my ideas from Alton…and adapt for my own use! He’s…in word… AMAZING! Combining science with cooking and humour is awesome! It’s posted here… https://dunkinsdelights.com/2014/08/27/dry-age-diy/ There’s no wonder why he’s Justin’s mentor and friend! Different foods…same insanity!

*Note, I’m also friends with Kevin Brauch, the floor reporter for Iron Chef America. We’ve had quite a few drinks together…🙂 *

Sorry Justin…I don’t like Gin and Tonic…I use straight up Soda Water! Sure I don’t get the protection from Malaria, but I don’t need it, and I like the botanical flavours more pure from the gin! Vodka and soda is the same, though I often add orange blossom water since I don’t garnish my drinks… I actually kinda think it’s a tacky thing to do… if it should be in the drink…PUT IT IN THE DRINK! I asked for a slice of orange once with a drink…and the bartender actually said “I think that’d be good”… I said…”I wouldn’t order that unless it WAS!” They now make an offer of slice… lemon, lime or orange!

While cooking…sometimes I ‘cheat’. For example the photo of this post… I didn’t entirely make the wings. I bought them cooked! but I did make the sauce… A little A1, horseradish, piri piri, mustard powder, and chili powder, cut with apple cider vinegar to thin the sauce…then heated them!🙂 There are so many rules to break!🙂

Having browsed (but not made) more of the recipes… I gotta say, the substitutions to make gluten free or vegan are a great idea! While he hasn’t gone as far as I would have with some of the gluten free options (using things like Ultra-tex instead of flour), it’s a damn fine list!

It’s a GREAT book with so many great ideas! I usually buy ‘cook books’ for a sense of flavour profiles and ideas, not the actual recipes… I work in the entertainment business and did a cooking demo for Vikram Vij this year…he did a curried chicken dish. That night, I took the idea home and did the same thing with a steak! It was great! THIS book however… I’m just gonna take his recipes and use them flat out! He’s done what I might do…take flavours in a whole different way! His ‘fish tacos’ uses mango as the taco shell! Drop one ingredient (the pretty flavourless taco shell) and use something that is IN a fish taco (the mango) is genius! More flavour, less cost… I knew there was a reason why I liked this guy!

I mentioned this…so I should add a photo or two… BBQ CAKE! (Also note, that two are gluten free and vegan friendly!)

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