Friday, March 25, 2011

A St. Patrick's Day Delight

There's a holiday that's pretty much dedicated to drinking beer and eating corned beef.

Yes, it's time to celebrate.

I started the planning early for this and decided to corn my own beef. As it turns out, corned beef isn't really "corned"... it's pickled! So I turned to trust Alton Brown for his take on how to do it myself.

His recipe, which is almost exactly what I did (spare one thing that couldn't be found) can be found here.

You can also watch the Serious Eats about it here and here.

My recipe is below:

2 quarts water
1 1/2 cup Morton's Tender Quick
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
8 whole cloves
8 whole allspice berries
12 whole juniper berries
2 bay leaves, crushed
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 lbs ice
1 big ol slap of meat (I used a 7 lb eye of round, brisket would fantastic as well)

Mix everything but the ice together in a big ol pot. Heat it on high until the salt and sugar dissolve. Then take it from the heat and add the ice. You want it at 45 degrees, so refrigerate if you need. I didn't.

Add it to a 2 gallon bag and then put the slab of meat in there with it. Put it in a drawer so that if the bag breaks it's contained.

It will take 10 days for the magic to happen. Turn it every day to make sure the meat is covered.

When it's time to go, take it out of the brine and rinse it completely. Trim any fat and stick it in a slow cooker with enough water to cover. Cook it on slow for... a really long time. I was afraid mine wasn't going to be done by the time people came over and I kicked it up to high and really dried it out. In the end, it was still quite tasty though.

Interesting thing about the picture: the grey spot in the middle of some of the slices is where the nitrates from the tender quick didn't get to... not bad spots.

I also made two sauces to go with it that I'll write about later.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Move Over Girl Scouts: Homemade Samoas

The title of the blog is misleading... girl scout cookies are still way better than what I made. It was indeed a fun trial though. And by fun, I mean it took like 4 hours, so I feel the need to show all the work I did.

Should you not know, a samoa is essentially a small crisp cookie with caramel-ish coconut piled on top and chocolate backing the cookie and drizzled over the top. It looks like this in case you're still in the dark.

So, the recipe I used to try and make my own comes from here. Most of the other recipes I found simply melted down a bunch of caramels, but I liked the fact that this one had you make your own. Seeing as I failed at making caramel once before, I was ready to kick its ass this time.

First things first. The caramel.

1.5 cups sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
6 tbsp water
6 tbsp butter
6 tbsp heavy cream
1.5 tsp vanilla extract

In a large pan whisk together the sugar, corn syrup, and water with a pinch of salt. Heat it up on medium and bring it to a boil. Use a wet pastry brush to get any down from the sides of the pan. When it starts intensely boiling you need to watch it very intensely. When it starts changing colors be ready to take it away from the heat. Wait until it's a "dark amber" color and remove it immediately. You can test it by setting a drop into water and it should turn into lollipop style hard candy. At this point add the combo of the heavy cream and butter. It's going to go nuts bubbling, but once it calms down a little stir it in. 

At this point, put the caramel aside. It is time to make cookies the cookies. Luckily it is just about the most simple cookie recipe ever. 

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
3 cup flour

In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment cream the butter and sugar. Add an egg and scrape down the sides if needed. Add vanilla. Switch it to low and add salt and flour. Mix until it's totally incorporated. 

Now take the dough and shape it into a long cylinder, about 2.5 inches in diameter, wrap it in parchment or wax paper and stick it in the freezer for 30 minutes. Now set the oven to 350 degrees. Take it out and cut 1/8 in thick slices. Stop once you've done 30 and put the rest of the dough back into the freezer for another project or an unnecessary cookie dough snack later. Find something to take the middle out (I used a pineapple corer). Lay them out of a greased cookie sheet an bake for 8-10 minutes. Let it cool completely. 

Getting closer to completion!

Now, toast up at least 2 cups of shredded coconut (I used 1 cup and it wasn't nearly enough). Warm the caramel back up and add all the toasted coconut. Let it cool a bit and press the caramel mixture onto the tops.

Final step!

Melt 12 ounces of bittersweet chocolate (A microwave would work wonderfully... but I don't have one). Dunk the bottom of the cookies in the melted chocolate and place them onto parchment paper. Now, drizzle the remaining chocolate over the top with a fork (mine got hard and I fork pressed some onto the tops).

There... finally.

In the end... they don't taste a lot like samoas. They do taste good, just not like the girl scout cookies. 

Too chocolate centric. Not enough coconut. A little too dense. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Mc10:35

Behold: The Mc10:35!

A combo of a McDouble and an Egg McMuffin. As the two items come from regular and breakfast menu there are only a few minutes in every day that they overlap and this beast can be created (one cannot simply order a Mc10:35... you have to build it).

A miracle of timing?

Completely unnecessary? 

Pretty good considering it's McDonalds we're talking about? 

I would say it's all of the above... 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Building the Eggplant Parmesan Pizza

I decided it was time to change up the standard, yet amazingly delicious, traditional recipe for eggplant parmesan that has been on me and by me for years. So, a step by step on making a fantastic eggplant parmesan pizza.

1. Cut the eggplant as thick as you please.

2. Ready whisked eggs and italian bread crumbs.

3. Dip in eggs - coat in crumbs.

4. Fry it on up.

5. Spread pizza dough and give it a mozzarella cheese base.

6. Add eggplant patties.

7. Add fresh basil and oregano.

8. Top it off with sauce and romano cheese.

9. Bake at 400 until tasty crispy.

10. Enjoy. It's a lot of work, but it's worth it.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Roast that Chicken

A few weeks ago I purchased a very promising whole chicken from Olympia Local Foods. It's from Tachira Farms - Organic (perhaps not certified, but I'm going to go ahead and guess it would be pretty close), pasture raised / free range, and all that good stuff. 

Having never roasted a whole chicken before I don't have any sort of go to recipe... I just picked the one that looked the best on foodgawker and went for it. 

The result: This tasty looking little devil. 

The way is quite simple too. 

Wash and dry the raw chicken.

Give it a nice rub with a heft amount of salt and pepper (inside and out).

Take 3 small lemons. Roll them and puncture them in no fewer than 20 spots each. Get them in the cavity and seal it up with some toothpicks.

@350 degrees cook for 30 minutes breast down.

Flip it - 30 more minutes. 

Crank them temp up to 450 and let it go for 20 more minutes. Check the temperature and cook for longer if needed. 

Let it sit for a little bit an dig in. It's fantastic.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pretzel Party

Think back to the days of wandering the aisles of the mall. Anchor Blue? EB Games? Spencer Gifts? Those all sound good... but what is the little treat that ties it all together? Not shitty Sbarro pizza, I'm talking a tasty warm pretzel... preferably with a side cup of sleaze cheese.

While I didn't manufacture any mystery cheese, I did make tasty soft pretzels. I also topped them with three different types of toppings. I also set off all the smoke (steam) detectors in the house, made a few deformed pretzels that I ate before taking pictures, and put way too much salt on the salt and pepper ones.

It was an exciting day.

I got the recipe from here.


1 cup warm water
1 packet active rise yeast
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2.5-3 cups all purpose flour
splash olive oil


Large pot of water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp sugar

Toppings of your choice.

Now, make it happen. Ready the kitchen aid and dough hook!

Mix the dough and warm water, let it sit for a few minutes.

Add the salt, sugar, vegetable oil, and 2 cups of flour.

Mix it up and for 10 minutes adding additional flour until all the dough sticks to the dough hook. Shut it down and let it rise, covered with a towel, for about 40 minutes.

Cut it into pieces (I chose 8) and make each section into a rope to make a pretzel. At this point it's advised to let the formed pretzels rise again for 20 minutes... but I forgot. I went right ahead and added them to the boiling water mixture.

Give them 20 seconds on each side and then take them out press them in toppings. My 3 varieties were...

Garlic Feta Dill
(chopped roasted garlic, feta cheese, and dried dill)

Salt and Pepper
(sea salt and cracked pepper)

(Theo chocolate nibs and granulated sugar)

Now, toss them in the oven for 15 minutes at 350 degrees and then you are ready to enjoy some tasty pretzel treats.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Hummutuna: Tuna Melt 2.0

I was feeling healthy and decided to try and make a tuna melt... but with less mayo. Not the most conventional alternative, but I subbed out the mayo for hummus and then added other delicious Mediterranean-ish things to accompany it. Using feta as the cheese and a bit of goddess dressing was also crucial.

In the end, I think I would take this over a normal tuna melt.

Hummatuna Melt - Makes enough for about 3 or 4 sandwiches

2 large cans of tuna
1/2 cup hummus
1/4 cup goddess dressing
red onions, chopped
kalamata olives, chopped
roasted garlic, chopped

feta cheese
bread of choice

Drain the tuna, add everything else, mix it up. Put some feta cheese on both sides of the tuna mix then grill it up and enjoy.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pistachio Crusted Salmon

Friends from out of town had seen some of the things I had been making and demanded that I make them delicious dinner. For this occasion I whipped out a recipe that I had been considering for a while... pistachio crusted salmon.

The recipe came from here and was truly all I could have hoped for. Easily fed 5 for dinner and the leftovers were quickly gobbled up the next day. I served some white wine to go with it and then we had four loko martinis for dessert.


2 lbs fresh (wild if you can get it) salmon
2 tbsp dijon or deli mustard
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp honey
1/2 cup shelled pistachios, finely chopped
1/4 cup panko crumbs
2 tbsp chives, chopped
2 tbsp italian parsley, chopped
Pepper to taste

Turn the oven to 400 degrees.

In one bowl mix up the mustard, honey, and butter. In another mix the pistachios, panko, chives, and parsley.

Skin the salmon and cut into 4 pieces. Spread the honey mustard mix over the top and then coat with the pistachio herb mixture.

Bake for approximately 12-14 minutes.

And the less tasty looking picture of it from when the sunlight ran out...