Friday, February 15, 2008

Fun with Google Maps

Google Maps has a "personalized maps" feature, and playing around with it, I found that I could list every barbecue establishment in Memphis--that I know of, anyway. With a little commentary, which I'll flesh out as I try new places or revisit old ones. It's coded along a traffic light--green means go, red means stop, yellow's okay. I haven't visited anything in blue yet.

Also, Google maps lets you embed stuff in other web pages, so I thought I'd give that a try, too.

View Larger Map

If I've forgotten your favorite spot, let me know--I'll be only too happy to make additions or corrections. (As if anyone reads this).

Monday, October 22, 2007

Brazen Pork Chops

As a rule, I tend to cook food that's forgiving of the occasional lapse in attention: A minute or two can be the difference between a medium-rare steak and a piece of charcoal, but as long as it doesn't completely dry out, a braised pot roast or daube, or a slow-cooked bolognese can sit cooking in the oven for an extra hour and nobody will know the difference. The bad news is that you've got to occasionally start dinner at two in the afternoon so that it have time to cook slowly, and technically this dish is no exception. Although the cooking time is significantly shorter than typical, the brining process adds another hour early on.

Brazen Pork Chops
8 pork loin chops, about 1" thick

1 quart water
Salt--until said water tastes just salty (probably 2 tbsp)
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp whole-grain mustard

4 tbsp whole-grain mustard
4 tbsp sour cream

Secret Ingredient:
Black pepper

Mix the ingredients for the brine together. Taste before putting the chops into the brine, it should taste approximately like seawater--add water or salt as necessary to achieve this. Place the chops into the brine in a gallon zip bag, refrigerate for an hour.

Preheat oven to 350°

Heat an enameled (or not) cast-iron dutch oven or covered baking pan over medium high heat (should be large enough to hold all the chops when covered--if you don't have a dutch oven, you can use a covered round casserole and sear the chops in a separate pan). Remove chops from bag, sprinkle with black pepper. Sear chops, in batches, a minute per side, being careful not to crowd the pan. Return all chops to dutch oven (or place in casserole), pour in a healthy splash of beer (2-3 oz), and shove into the preheated oven. Let cook for an hour or so.

Before serving, mix together mustard and sour cream. Remove chops from oven, plate, add 1 tbsp of sauce to each chop, and serve. Serves eight dainty eaters or dieters or people who only eat as much as they're supposed to, or four hearty appetites. Plan for four.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

7-inch slam

Perhaps I shouldn't plug food blogs that are finer than my own, but after much needling I checked out the 7-inch Slam blog, about records and the recipes to accompany those records. It is with sadness in my heart that I report--

  • They update much more requently than I do
  • They write longer, more colorful entries than I do
  • They post photos of what they're cookin'
  • They include a musical selection.
I suggest checkin' it out.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Superbowl Sunday!

Sadly, the Saints were eliminated two weeks ago while I was flying over Canada en route to Hong Kong, so today I'm hoping for a little restitution in the form of Peyton Manning (son of former Saint Archie) and the Colts giving the Bears the beating that they should have received at the hands of the Saints.

The festivities I'm attending today include a chili cookoff. To be perfectly frank, I've never cared for most chili--mostly because I'm not the biggest fan of cumin. It probably has a bad childhood experience involved, like the early years when I thought I disliked pizza because the only thing we ever ate in the pizza department was Food Club Italian Sausage Pizza with whole fennel seeds on it. Fennnel, like cumin, is a weird taste to a young child's palate. Eventually I had pizza that hadn't been rolled in fennel, and chili that didn't have a quarter cup of cumin, and was much happier for it.

I'm trusting that the chili cookoff judges have about the same tolerance for cumin that I do, because I'm bringing this to the party. My wife tells me that it's not really chili, that real chili has beans and chili powder, neither of which she eats. I wonder why someone would add something to a dish simply to make it less delicious and appetizing, but I guess that's her way.

Three-Ingredient Chili

  • 1 - Chuck roast, about three lbs
  • 1 - 7 oz. can El Pato Salsa De Chili Fresca (yellow can with a duck on it)
  • 1 - 7 oz. can Herdez Salsa Casera (white can with tomatoes and onions and peppers on it)

Preheat oven to 275°. Cut roast into 1-inch cubes. Working in batches, sear beef in a skillet over medium-high heat, and transfer to covered baking dish. When all the beef has been seared, pour both cans of salsa over beef, place lid on dish, and shove it in the oven. It'll probably be done in a couple of hours, but you might as well just plan on letting it cook for about five hours so that the collagen and fat will melt away and add complexity, and the meat will fall completely apart.

The chili is fairly spicy: I normally serve it over rice, which some would regard as blasphemy, but you can adjust proportions of chili to rice (and cheese and sour cream and green or purple onions) to make it milder. My wife makes Frito pie out of it, and my father-in-law uses it as a taco filling. If you wanted to work WAY too hard, you could probably make tamales with it, too.

A variation on this recipe yields the filling for a debris po-boy, but that's another story for another time.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

In recompense for my shameful non-posting...

Isn't it high time I put another recipe here? Does their rarity make them more valuable? Or is it merely their deliciousness that makes them valuable?

I'm rather fond of potato salad. Potatoes are a good neutral base for all sorts of flavors, and between types of potatoes, cut, cooking style, seasonings, temperature served, and so on, you can come up with any number of varieties of potato salad. This version is the second-best potato salad ever, and would be the very best if I added bacon, but people tell me that it's too much as it is. The ingredient proportions are approximate

Roast Garlic Potato Salad
3-4 lbs. red potatoes cut into one-inch cubes. Sometimes I peel these, sometimes I don't.
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup roasted garlic cloves, mashed into a paste (see note)
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
1/4 cup creole or other whole grain mustard
1 tbs cider vinegar
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt (probably more, actually. See instructions.)

Boil potatoes in salted water until fork tender. In the meantime, mix everything else together. Taste the mixture--if you can't taste garlic and onion and mustard, you probably need to add some salt. Unless the thing you taste instead of garlic and onion and mustard is salt. In that case you've screwed it up.

Drain the potatoes. Allow to cool to room temperature. Mix with garlic-onion mixture. Chill overnight, if you can resist.

It should probably serve 6-8 people, or 12-14 if it's a party and they're trying not to look like gluttons.

A note on garlic: If you don't know how to roast garlic, you might want to take a remedial class or something. Although I noticed that they're selling roast garlic on the olive bar at the Fresh Market around the corner, so you could use that in a pinch if you don't care what people think about you.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Blueberry Stuff

The blueberries are in at the orchard/fruit stand around the corner (the corner is a mile away, and the fruit stand is few miles beyond that, but it's technically around the corner), so I thought I'd post the recipe for what my Aint Flora Belle (and everyone else) calls Blueberry Stuff, a light no-bake cheesecake with a blueberry topping.

Blueberry Stuff
1 graham cracker crust (you can make your own, I guess, if you have nothing better to do and don't care for the handy little cover that comes with supermarket graham cracker crusts)
1 package cream cheese
1 tub of whipped topping
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 cups blueberries
1/2 cup sugar (or more if the blueberries aren't very sweet)
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup water

For the filling:
Beat together cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth, fold in whipped topping.

For the topping:
In a saucepan over medium low heat, mix blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, and water. (Start everything cold so you don't end up with lumps of cornstarch). Let everything dissolve, then come to a boil (you might increase the heat to medium once it gets warm if your stove won't bring stuff to a boil over lower heat, but you certainly don't want to scorch anything). Let cool a little bit--not too much as this stuff can set up to be pretty solid.

For the assembling:
Put filling in pie crust. Put topping on filling. Chill.

The effete food snobs in the audience (does anyone actually read this?) might turn up your nose at the prepared graham cracker crust and whipped topping in this recipe, and wonder why I don't just use canned blueberry pie filling. Well you can do that, too, if blueberries aren't in season and you didn't save any in the freezer.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Party Time!

We had the cast from Measure for Measure over Saturday night for a get-together after the show. Nearly everyone turned up, and everyone seemed to enjoy himself/herself. It was an opportunity to break out the deep fryer that I'd gotten as a Christmas present, but hadn't really used since I'm pathetically attempting to lose some weight. In any case, it provides an opportunity to bust out this recipe (reportedly "smack your mama good" from one party attendee, who brought his mama along for the occasion):

CNS Rolls

1 package (1 lb) egg roll wrappers
1 lb chicken breast meat, cut up into pieces (preferable) or ground
3-4 ribs celery, diced into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces
2-3 carrots, diced similarly
3-4 green onions, chopped
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme
good shot each of tabasco and worcestershire

oil for deep-frying

Heat the olive oil in a skillet, add vegetables, salt, pepper, thyme, tabasco and worcestershire and saute for 5-6 minutes until slightly tender. Add chicken and cook through--probably another five minutes, depending on the size of your skillet. Allow to cool COMPLETELY (if the filling is hot it will soften the wrappers and you'll end up with a mess).

Spoon two tbsp of cooked, cooled chicken mixture onto each egg roll wrapper and wrap, using water to seal the edges. At this point you can refrigerate or freeze the rolls until you're ready to fry. Deep fry at 350-360 degrees, serve warm with honey mustard.