Saturday, September 26, 2009

Ying's Birthday Rub

Okay, now get your minds out of the gutter. Ying is one of the Mysterious Chinese Woman's sisters and the rub is a spice mixture of my own design. I originally made it for a barbecue that we had to celebrate one of Ying's birthdays. It has since become the base recipe for most of my barbecue rubs. It is mighty fine as is and lends itself well to tweaking. Add some five-spice, leave out the chili powder, throw in some rosemary or thyme, maybe a bit of sage. Well, you get the idea.

The Sacred Document

I have a fairly well stocked spice, well, cabinet isn't really right. I have spices in a spice cabinet, two kitchen cabinets, and a couple of drawers. I use a lot of spices. And I am lucky to live someplace where, within walking distance, you can get just about any spice you can imagine.

Assembling Of The Spices

I had plenty of cracked black pepper left over from the steak I made the other night. I also used some chipotle chili powder. The chipotle adds some smoke flavor which is nice when you are using an oven and not a smoker. Otherwise it was pretty much the same as the recipe.

Ready For Mixing

Now this spice mixture is pretty hot. It won't be too hot on the pork butt because there is a large ratio of meat to surface area. If you use this rub on ribs or chicken you will end up with some pretty spicy stuff. You might want to eliminate the red pepper and use a mild paprika to calm it down. But that is a matter of personal taste. I used to make two versions, one a bit milder, and then do one chicken and a couple of racks of ribs using the mild and the rest using the hot. Then, normally, the pieces all get mixed up and nobody really knows which one they are eating anyway. As long as everyone is happy, that's all that matters.

All Mixed Up

I also made a marinade to inject into my meat. Nothing elaborate, just some apple juice, garlic powder, and some adobe sauce from a jar of chipotles I brought back from Mexico. I love this brand, Lucerno, but it is hard to find even in Mexico. I have never seen it here in the United States.

Marinade Ingredients

Now, no matter how you spice things up, the key is always the meat. I used to buy my ribs at the butcher shop but, quite frankly, the ribs you get at Costco are just fine. However, for something like a pork butt, only the butcher will do. I have never seen a really decent pork butt at a supermarket or at Costco. I got mine from the ever reliable Staubitz.

This Is A Decent Butt

And then I injected it with my concoction.

Almost Painful To Look At

Then I liberally applied the spice mixture and patted it into the meat. Wrapped the whole thing up in plastic wrap and now into the refrigerator it will go to fester away until I cook it.

Ready For Festering

I've got to head up to the beer store to pick up some San Miguel beer for a friend of mine. She said it was a Hong Kong beer, and I didn't know that. It turns out that San Miguel is a Philippine beer. In fact they have 95% of the Philippine beer market. It was first brewed in 1890 under a Spanish Royal Grant, whatever that means. Anyway, they shipped beer to Hong Kong where it became very popular. So popular that San Miguel opened a brewery there. They also have breweries in Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Malasia and Mainland China. So, I will try to get the San Miguel beer, but no guarantee it will come from Hong Kong.

I am also going to force myself to go to Pete's Waterfront Ale House (someone's got to do it) to see if I can buy a quart of their cole slaw. If I can't, because they don't really make it to sell, just for sides with their meals, I will have to make some of my own. And I would like to avoid that. In fact, I will. I will just buy it from the bagel place instead. Life is good.

Addendum: The San Miguel that I bought was brewed in the Philippines and Pete's Waterfront Ale House did sell me the coleslaw.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Good News

The Mysterious Chinese Woman went to visit her equally Mysterious Mother yesterday and when she came home and said she was just sooooo tired and couldn't we just go out to eat. I guess practicing spells and stirring cauldrons all day will tucker a person out.

We decided to head to Thai Kitchen again. We ate there not too long ago and really liked the place.

Thai Kitchen

Last time we were there I had the grilled fish special. I can't remember exactly how they made it. I do remember I thought it was excellent and the Mysterious Chinese Woman really liked it as well. This time they didn't have any grilled fish specials, but they did have two grilled fish dishes on the menu, tamarind and garlic. We decided to have one of each.

The Tamarind One

I took a picture of the garlic one, but I mistakenly deleted it for no real reason. It looked kind of like the tamarind one but darker and with no peppers and onions on top. Actually, except for the eyes it didn't look anything at all like the tamarind one.

But, they were both really delicious. In fact this place has some of the best grilled snapper that I have ever had anywear. It may very well be the very best. Perfectly done, nice and moist, on the inside with a perfect crispy skin. And the sauces, or whatever you call them, are equally tasty. The are very flavorful but still seem to enhance, but not overpower, the fish. And that is tricky. There wasn't a bit of either fish remaining when we finished.

My only minor complaint is that my garlic fish sauce was a bit on the salty side, but then I don't use a lot of salt so I am a bit sensitive to it. Also, if you ate the fish with the side of rice that they give you, probably as you are supposed to do, it would be just about right.

Now for the good news, Armando's will be opening soon.

Grand Opening

The place is just about ready, and it looks really nice. The furniture is certainly newer and a bit more sedated, brown being the primary color. The new bar is a nice white marble. And the picture of Marilyn Monroe is back up, although in a different place, above what will soon be my favorite table in the back.

I would be at the grand opening on Monday except I have tickets for the one and only Yankees game I will be going to this year.

Going to be making another batch of Carolina pulled pork for a "tailgate" party on Sunday. I pretty much posted everything about making this the last time I did it so I may post a few pictures of the process, but I won't bore you with a full recounting.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Julie Is Not Julia

On the Mysterious Chinese Woman's recommendation, I am reading "Julie & Julia." Interesting, but it has some peculiar errors. I already mentioned how Julie got the whole thing about clarifying butter wrong. Now I am reading about her making Riz a l'Indienne, which is basically just plain old cooked rice. And Julie does go on about this for several pages, referring to it as "Bitch Rice" because it is so difficult to make.

Well, maybe it is difficult to make it if you make it like she does.

Julie (not Julia) says "To make Riz a l'Indienne, you must sprinkle a cup and a half of rice into eight quarts of boiling water - which in this age of environmental crisis can be seen as nearly immoral." I am not sure if it is immoral or not, but it sure didn't seem right to me. And I have cooked a lot of rice.

I checked my copy of "Mastering The Art Of French Cooking" and the recipe calls for a cup and a half of rice and 3 cups of water, not eight quarts.

Of course Julie then complains about having to pick out a grain of rice from an enormous pot of boiling water to see if it is done. But, according to the cookbook, when the water is almost absorbed you fork up a few grains and bite it to see if it is done. Not quite the same.

Now, according to Julie, after the rice is done you rinse it in hot water and wrap it in cheesecloth and steam it for half an hour. Huh?! The rice is done already. Why on earth would you steam it for another half an hour. Didn't Julie ever stop to think that none of this made much sense?

According to "Mastering The Art Of French Cooking," once you have cooked the rice you can, if you wish, store it in the refrigerator in a tightly covered container for a day or two. Then, to re-heat the rice you steam it in cheese cloth over simmering water for "several minutes until well heated through." In other words, you only steam the rice if you didn't serve it right after you cooked it. And then you only steam it for a few minutes to re-heat it.

Again, this wouldn't be such a big deal if Julie didn't go on for several pages about how difficult it is to cook Riz a l'Indienne. Well, yeah, if you cooked it like she did. If you follow the real recipe it is a snap.

I never read Julie's blog, so I don't know how much detail she went into regarding her cooking her way through "Mastering The Art Of French Cooking." However, based upon what I have read in her book, I am begining to wonder just how well she followed the recipes.

And, really, how on earth could anyone think you would need eight quarts of water to cook a cup and a half of rice? And then steam it for half-an-hour after it is done? I think Julie should have cut back on those gimlets she seems to love so much.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Picky Picky

Some alert readers of my blog, and yes, apparently some of my readers are alert, pointed out that you can't really properly fry a steak in either regular or clarified butter, that you can't get it hot enough. You are correct.

Julia suggests you fry a steak in either fresh beef suet (and, silly me, I was out) or equal parts butter and vegetable oil. The butter and vegetable oil combination is what I used.

Also, if you read "Julie & Julia,' Julie Powell says she clarified butter by heating it and then skimming the foam off of the top. This is not completely correct. You do heat the butter and skim off the foam, but that is only half of the process.

When you heat the butter it will separate and the fat solids will drop to the bottom of the pan. It is the fat solids that burn at a lower temperature than the clear butter which will remain on top. Carefully draw off the clear butter and you will have your clarified butter. You can use the fat solids which remain as an addition to sauces that call for butter.

Clarified butter can be heated to a higher temperature than regular butter and is what I used for the fried potatoes. I used regular butter for the green beans because you just toss the blanched beans with the butter, you don't actually cook them in the butter. I also just used regular butter with the oil for the steak.

Hint 1: You can use two parts regular butter to one part vegetable oil in place of clarified butter, but that is really being lazy. Note - For frying the steak you use half regular butter and half vegetable oil - you can heat this to a higher temperature than either clarified butter or it's substitute.

Hint 2: Juila Child says to use salted butter in her recipes unless unsalted is specifically called for. This was good news to me, because I always use salted butter. Many people suggest using unsalted butter and then adding salt to the recipe to compensate. To me, this just doesn't work. Salted butter seems to have a totally different taste to it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cookin' With Julia

Okay, so here it goes. This isn't going to turn into a Julie and Julia kind of a blog, but I did prepare a meal out of Julia Child's "Mastering The Art Of French Cooking," and my brother-in-law Jim was running around with my camera, so what the hell?

Of course the first thing you have to do is read the cookbook. Initially to try to find some recipes that were simple enough for me to handle. Believe me, this was not an easy task. Some of her recipes are multiple day events.

What Will It Be?

I settled on Steak au Poivre with a brandy sauce, Haricots Verts a l'Anglaise, and Pommes De Terre Sautees. That would be a pepper steak with brandy sauce, green beans sauteed in butter and potatoes sauteed in butter..

Well, first off I had to crack "several kinds of peppercorns." I had a variety of peppercorns so it was just a matter of cracking them up.

Let's Get Cracking

I picked up two ribeye steaks from my favorite butcher, Staubitz, and peppered them up.

Looks Ready To Eat Already

Okay, now back to the book again.

Hmm, ... Preceding Master Recipe

Yeah, her cookbook is interesting alright. You need book marks because she is always referring to another recipe or to the "preceding master recipe." Luckily, I wasn't making anything that was too complicated. Still, I had to clarify butter and mince fresh tarragon and shallots, but nothing too difficult.

Melting Butter, Lots Of Butter

Okay, One More Look

Without too much trouble I got everthing going. Blanching the beans in the big kettle, frying the potatoes in butter, and frying the steak in clarified butter. Or was it the other way around?

All Systems Go

And here I am, plating the dish. The steaks atop a bed of potatoes surrounded by the green beans and with the cognac sauce poured on top.

Easy Does It

The Grand Presentation

On The Table

I would like to say that everything went off without a hitch, but that wasn't quite right. The fried potatoes came out more like very rich mashed potatoes. They were very good, but the texture was not what I was looking for. I let them sit too long in the butter while I waited for the steak to get done.

And then there was a little mishap with a dish that I had balanced on the edge of the sink. And there I am, in my barefeet, and having to keep cooking. Luckily the Mysterious Chinese Woman was there to take care of things.

Thank You

Well, that was it. Not too difficult and I will certainly be trying out a few more of Julia's recipes. Maybe even one of the multi-day events.

Say What???

Ah, you have to love New Yorkers, and I am one of them. For three days now I have been reading, in the New York papers, about how over-the-top the new $1 billion plus Dallas stadium is. How it is an egotistical shrine to Jerry Jones, how the scoreboard is over the top (although it is kind of cool), and on and on.

You know what you don't hear? The new Giants/Jets stadium will end up costing even more. And it won't even have a retractable roof.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Missed The Midgets... Again

My last Saturday in Minnesota was spent with my friends Rico and Sandy. Rico cooked up some dynamite ribs for our dinner (Sandy made the sauce) so Rico and I got to spend the afternoon doing doing manly things like drinking beer and watching college football on the television in his garage. Oh yeah, and making sure the ribs were smoking along.

In the morning, though, we all headed out to one of our favorite little breakfast in a glass places, Floyd's.

A Touch Of Jamaica

I guess if you live in a place like Minnesota, home of the ironically named Sun Country airline, a taste of the island life might appeal to you.

I Almost Hear The Steel Drums

Continuing The Theme

I carried on the island theme by wearing my Coney Island Lager shirt and my Cha Cha's cap. Somehow, though, I didn't blend right in.

The Crew

After finishing our breakfast we headed down the road a bit to stop into -

Lisa's Place

And here I saw that, once again, we were at the right place but on the wrong day for midget wrestling.


Truly Screwed

And we couldn't go tomorrow because Rico and Sandy had invited a couple of old friends, Jerry and Pat, to come over and watch the Vikings. So now I am not only going to be forced to miss out on the midget wrestlers, I am going to have to watch Brett Favre quarterback the Vikings.

Oh well, when life hands you lemons, just drink lemonade.

Straight Up, Warm, With A Human Hair

It is now a week later and, to Favre's credit, he did well in both games with the Vikings. And my Jets are looking good to. Yesterday I invited my brother-in-law Jim over to watch the Jets game while I attempted to make a meal using Julia Child's cookbook, "Mastering The Art Of French Cooking." More on that later, but don't get too excited. I didn't lard my meat.