Fish and Chips

DSC_0849 (1600x1060)We watched Alton Brown make these on one of the Food Network videos the other day that we had on the DVR and realized that we were due a fish dinner.  I used cod, and dusted the fish with flour before battering.  That’s malt vinegar in the little bowl

The red cabbage slaw started out as a Bobby Flay recipe but it was so bad I washed all the dressing off, added the carrots, and went with a simple vinaigrette of cider vinegar, sweetener, celery seed, and canola oil.

Fun with Food: Grilled Pizza

I have friends who love grilled pizza and make it frequently. I always thought it sounded good, but haven’t tried it yet. If it sounds like something fun to try, here are two pretty reliable sources for how-to:

From J. Kenji López-Alt at Serious Eats

The Pizza Lab: The Complete Updated Guide To Grilled Pizza

Pizza on the coals from Serious Eats

Pizza on the coals from Serious Eats

How to Grill Pizza, a Crash Course

Grilled pizza is made by laying a stretched piece of dough directly on the grates over hot coals, cooking the first side, flipping it, topping it in reverse order (that’s cheese, then sauce), then returning it to the fire to cook the second side. As the second side cooks, the cheese melts, and the sauce warms. It’s as simple as that.

Here’s how to get it done.

Step 1: Pick A Nice Day

You preferably want to make your dough at least a day in advance, so look at the forecast, and plan accordingly. We picked this past Wednesday, which started out as a sunny, balmy 85°F New York summer day. Our hope was that we’d be down to comfortable lounging temperature at just about the time the grill was fired up and evening started to settle in.

Step 2: Make Dough – for the rest of the instructions click over to here.

And from Alton Brown at The Food Network:

Grilled Pizza from Alton Brown and The Food Network

Grilled Pizza from Alton Brown and The Food Network

Grilled Pizza – Various Toppings

Dough – Enough for 3 (16-inch) round pizzas:
16 ounces all-purpose flour, plus extra for peel and rolling
1 envelope instant or rapid rise yeast
1 tablespoon kosher salt
10 ounces warm water, approximately 105 degrees F
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 teaspoons for bowl
1 tablespoon malted barley syrup

For complete instructions, click here.

Margherita topping – Enough to top 1 (16-inch) round pizza (recipe here)

Date and prosciutto topping – Enough to top 1 (16-inch) round pizza (recipe here)

These all sound yummy and can’t wait to experiment with them. – TaMara


Countertop Sauerkraut

A couple of summers ago we made a big batch of sauerkraut and just ran out this spring.  I bought a jar at the store because we needed some but decided to make another batch.  This time we just shredded a single head, around three pounds, and went with a slightly different recipe.  Alton Brown has a simple one.  Unlike the first batch, this one has some flavorings – juniper berries and caraway seeds.DSC_4592 (1600x1060)We found a small plastic pail that worked great, the inside diameter being just right for a small plate to fit atop the cabbage.  A plastic mayo jar filled with water provided the weight to keep everything submerged.  I added a little water now and again to keep the level over the plate, and skimmed the mold that developed every few days.  Harmless although a little off-putting.DSC_4594 (1600x1060)We ended with a good quart of ‘kraut.  I immediately started another batch.  The seeds and berries added good flavor to the batch, I went with the same recipe.  We’ll just keep it in the fridge and not bother with trying to seal it into Mason jars.DSC_8293 (1600x1060)It tastes great!  Here are a couple of brats I had tonight.

Mmm… baby back ribs

I bought some baby back ribs the other day and was looking around for a good recipe worth trying and passing along.  Alton Brown’s recipe was at the top of the stack, with a ton of positive reviews.  This will be another rave review to add to the pile.  I cut the rack in two to fit it into my little roasting pan, massaged the dry rub into the meat on both sides and laid them out onto the foil lining.  Poured the braising liquid into the package and folded the top flap of foil over the top and more or less crimped it in place.  These just came out after their stint in the oven, smelling and looking great.  Don’t forget that stuff in the bottom of the pan.  Mine was reduced enough in the pan that it didn’t need any time simmering in a sauce pan.  I just flopped a half slab into the bottom juices and it came out looking like an entry into a rib cooking contest.  Have I mentioned that these are wonderful?I ate this half with just some BBQ sauce on the dry rubbed ribs.  These were the best I have ever had — until I sampled the second half rack, the one that was dredged through the braising sauce.

Mmm…Cherry Pie

We’ve been watching all the celebrity chefs show off their mad apple pie skilz.  Mrs J was talking about how her Momma could crank pies out like a Mrs Smith’s pie factory, and how she helped as a young lass but for whatever reason she now struggled to make a decent crust.  Last night we watched Alton Brown make an apple pie that looked very good and we paid close attention to the crust recipe he used.

Mrs J noted, when my prodding became more intense, that we didn’t have any apple jack like Alton used.  I remembered reading in a comment thread somewhere that vodka would work as a moistening agent-it had no real taste and did the moistening of the flour just fine without forming any nasty gluten that was the enemy of flaky pie crusts everywhere.  She allowed that vodka would be worth a try but that we had no apples.  I reminded her that this was an exercise in building a crust, and that we did have some canned cherry pie filling.  She finally broke down and tried her hand at a cherry pie.

She used lard for the shortening, along with the butter.  Things proceeded pretty much according to plan, the flour came together in the food processor just as it did for Mr Brown.  She used 6 tablespoons of 80 proof vodka-the only change from the recipe.  The dough was chilled for an hour before she rolled it out.  The first piece went just fine, but the top proved fragile-she had to roll it out again.  It was finally ready to bake.

It spent 30 minutes in a 350 oven covered with foil, then the foil was removed and an egg wash applied to the top.  Back into the oven it went, she boosted the temp a bit, 375 I think at the end.  It spent an additional 45 minutes or more in the oven before we finally took it out.

Mrs J judges it the best crust she has ever made.  I am loathe to argue the point.


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Gyro Loaf

Munching on leftovers tonight, so no fabulous dinner pics.  Bought a leg of lamb today and decided to turn it into gyros.  Deboned the lamb, chunked the meat with a knife, and looked Alton Brown’s recipe up again.  This is as much a gadget post as anything.  Used the food processor to grind the lamb, puree the onion, mix the spices and blend everything into a meat paste.

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Watched Alton Brown make gyros last night on the Food Network.  I wanted one bad but wasn’t too hopeful of finding any lamb at the grocery.  Was needing a couple of pounds of ground lamb but I’ve never seen any at my local supermarket.  Imagine my surprise when the white coated fellow said “I think we might have some, let me check in back”.  Alas, no ground lamb, but did I want a leg?

Sure, why not?  Took that home and cut off some hunks from the shoulder area and ran them through the food processor.  Ta Da!  I followed Alton’s recipe for the most part. Only thing I did different-I left out the mint from the yogurt sauce.  Yeah, it has a Greek name I can’t pronounce.  Read the recipe for the spelling, take your chances saying it to a Greek.  He’ll laugh, but the laugh will be Greek, too, so you won’t understand it, LOL

I hate taking pics of white stuff in a stainless bowl, they just don’t come out right.  Too lazy to take the thing outside into the sun.

Did the meat mixture meatloaf style in a water bath, turned out great.

To do these in style, you really need some of those paper/foil wrapper things, but we managed.