From the Kitchen and Bar – corned beef, veggies and wine (and a quickie bit of art)

wine splash
I was spending time looking for a good wine glass image and it finally dawned on me “you nitwit, you can make your own, being an artist and all…”

Time for a food and drink post.  (if you are new, be aware that if you follow me, you’ll get more than food and drink.  You’ll also get my unvarnished thoughts about politics and religion).

This week we corned a beef. My spouse and I were craving a Rueben sandwich and since we hadn’t done any foodie things for awhile, we decided that we could make our own corned beef. The local grocery store had buy 1 get one free for London Broils (a cut of top round) so I got two of them and pickled the one. There are a bevy of recipes on the internet (here’s one for example), but as long as you have salt, bay leaves, coriander seeds, allspice berry, etc you can make this. I like to add star anise for a little mysterious “I can’t quite identify that flavor”.  One thing that isn’t completely necessary is the nitrate that will make the meat the classic dark pink that you see in a deli. I use Morton’s TenderQuick for my curing salt since it’s the easiest to find for me.

Generally, corned beef is made with beef brisket, which is quite a bit fattier than top round. Our corned beef is pretty dry, but it tastes great. With the sauerkraut, swiss cheese and thousand island dressing aka ketchup, mayo, sweet pickle relish mixed (my husband adds a little sriracha and garlic too), it works out. This is on jewish rye bread, thinly sliced with the classic caraway seeds. We assemble the sandwiches and cook them on the small grill that makes our stove perfect for us. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_PfAhAAp6k

I also decided to try a couple of vegetables I hadn’t had before. I got a spiralizer and now am making long ribbon of various veg. One was a purple sweet potato, which when spiralized and then cooked, looked rather like a plate of Klingon gagh It tasted great though.

Yucca fries also made it onto my plate. I thought potatoes didn’t have much flavor but yucca seems to have no flavor at all. They do make for a crispy fry though.

Last but not least, I finally got to taste some durian. Durian is a strange tropical fruit and when it’s presented on the various food shows here, people get all dramatic about it, declaring you either love it or hate it. I got some freeze dried and, in true freeze dried fashion, it has the texture of Styrofoam. The flavor, to me, is garlic tropical fruit. I love garlic so it’s fine but I could take it or leave it. I’m kinda disappointed it isn’t more drastic. It’s rather like when I finally got to taste truffles. They taste like garlicky mushrooms. A nice thing but definitely not worth crazy amounts of money.

As for drink, I finally got my hands on a bottle of Apothic Sparkling Red. I have a weakness for bubbly wines, especially red ones. I’ve had Rosa Regale, which is sweeter than the Apothic. The color of the Apothic is a lovely true ruby red. I’ll definitely be picking up more of this.

Dinner tonight will be bread and triple crème brie. Our grocery store had a buy one get one free for this too 😊

Here’s a bit of art I was working on today, a fantasy waterfall.

From the Kitchen: Mole, and a picture of a feline pieta

Hello my followers,

Thanks for following.  This is a quick post of our tasty meal from last weekend and me with one of our new boys.

We made chicken mole last weeked.  Very tasty and yep, it’s from a Martha Stewart recipe, but we like it. I have learned to make corn tortillas (with a press) and made some Yucatecan pickled onions to go with it from Rick Bayless recipe.  I like a bit of acid to spark up my meals.

This is our smaller new kitty, Agamemnon aka Aggie.  He is the smaller of the two.  Kitty pieta. I make a very ugly and work weary Madonna.  But I have the carpet ripped up and the floor finished!

I spent the new years holiday tearing apart a room in our house since I had some emotions to work out since we had to euthanize the last of our older kitties, Muffin, during the holiday break.  Nothing like grief and anger to give one some excess energy.  I’ll have pics of the new room at some time.

I also have been gifted a Insta-Pot (pressure cooker/other things) by relatives.  Any good recipes?  It seems that the Insta-Pot gift is some weird apology from relatives who voted for that idiot Trump.

 

 

From the kitchen and the bar: duck and wine

Sorry for the long hiatus. I am dealing with a job I don’t like, and working on my art, which I do like.

I’m now an officially paid artist! It’s very weird feeling for someone who hated art teachers in elementary, high school and college because the ones I had didn’t teach art, they just had class pets who could do art and ignored the rest of us. There is, I think, the idea of some innate talent but you have to be taught the rest. In a week, I’m doing another show.  This is the cheese plate that sold (the white is from the reflection from the resin on it)

Lately, we’ve been trying a few new things to cook and drink. I finally cooked the last bit of game meat that I bought from D’Artangnan, a duck. It was very good, but they are indeed greasy. I think ours could have used more pricking of the skin to release more of the sub-q fat and a little longer in the oven. We had it with sweet potatoes and carrots that roasted in the fat. I just recently made a quick hash of that in a skillet to crisp it up some. Here is the duck. They are quite a bit different in physiology than a chicken.

We also had some shimmery wine. We got this at the local ren faire, the PA Renaissance Faire at Mt. Hope Winery. They mixed whatever makes liquids like Viniq shimmer (finely ground mica?) with pink Catawba wine and made fairy wine. You can’t quite see how nice it looks in a still photo. Here’s a video of Viniq.

This weekend we’re making yet one more roast chicken when my folks visit. It’s kind of an early xmas, late thanksgiving thing. I’m going to be a sneaky daughter and given them a bible as a present, one not the hard-to-read KJV, and with large print and the apocrypha. I wonder if my dad, who bet me all those years ago I couldn’t read it the bible, will do it himself since he has found he likes reading. He used to always give me such a hassle when I was a young bookworm. Go play outside! Go play with your brother!

Now he knows what its’ like because I can’t resist teasing him.

We also adopted two friendly feral cats.  A huge black one had been hanging about and I got him to like me.  There was also a smaller gray and white one who seemed to get along with him well.  So we brought both in.  The black cat is called Tez, short for Tezcatlipoca, and the other is Aggie, short for Agamemnon, also called Roomba because he loves to roll around on the floor and collect any crumbs.  We have decided to always call our cats aggressive names because those ones all turn out sweet, and the one we named Muffin is the hellion.  She is about 15 now and has screeched at and cowed the the new boys (well, they are neutered).

From the kitchen and the bar – experiments in game meats and some new wines

the pale lumps are very large garlic cloves

A month or two ago, D’Artagnan (the company that sells fancy meats here in the US) had a really good flash sale and I got a selection of game meats: a duck, venison shanks and a wild boar roast.   We had the wild boar first (actually a hybrid of European wild boar and feral pig that are running amuck in the south of the US).  It was good, though dry and we did lard it with extra pig fat.  The meat is very lean and all the darker color that you see in some pork cuts from regular pork.  I wasn’t that impressed, but I will say that I cook a tasty pork shoulder and am somewhat spoiled about what good pork is.

This weekend we cooked the venison shanks.  They were about 4 inches thick, and were New Zealand venison.  My husband found a recipe for a very garlic heavy braise, and since I’ve been wanting to cook something with a *lot* of garlic (readers will know I consider it a vegetable), we went for it. 

The wine used was a Simply Naked pinot grigio and of course the 4 bulbs of garlic.  We have rosemary and thyme in our garden.  It’s so shady, I’m glad that anything edible grows there.   I also have quite a few really poisonous things, like monkshood, jimsonweed, foxglove, etc. 

The meat was pretty indistinguishable to me from good beef.  We cooked it until the cartilage melted, making the meat succulent.  Not much fat on these, so the sauce isn’t as greasy as a beef based sauce would be.  They do come with the bone in, so I scooped out the marrow.  It was a little strong flavored for me, though I can see how some people would love that.  We just had the rest of the pinot grigio with it and it went surprisingly well with such a dark meat.   It’s nice and light.  We also got a bottle of their unoaked chardonnay, and it was good too, though a little richer than we wanted for the recipe.

We also got a few new wines to try.  We’ve been looking at the less than $10 that the PA Fine Wines and Good Spirits stores have.  If you are of an age in PA, you’ll know these stores to be “state stores”.  One of the wines was Regio Cantina Donpa Aglianico del Vulture 2013.  We really got it because it had this as a description ““This initially shows funky aromas of stalky underbrush, wet soil and a whiff of damp fur that slowly blow off to reveal toast, leather and dried blackberry jam. The dense full-bodied palate evokes prune, chocolate and a hint of tobacco alongside firm tannins.”  Alas, it wasn’t nearly so odd, and I was a bit disappointed.  It is a good dark red wine though. 

That’s it.  Eat and drink well!   If you have a good roast duck recipe, let me know for my next experiment.

From the Kitchen – cake and some random musings

Back to some fun stuff.   I found a recipe for German buttercream frosting on Serious Eats, one of my favorite food sites.  This stuff is very good, not too sweet, and full of tasty tasty fat!  I recently made a spice buy at Penzey’s, my favorite socially concious spice merchant, and used my new vanilla beans.   I did end up using salted butter which was noticeable but fine on a chocolate cake, rather like the salted caramel craze.  I just used a boxed chocolate cake mix.

I honestly can’t frost a cake worth crap. but it tastes good.

This weekend we are going to return to an old recipe, the blue cheese tart.  This time we are going to grab a rotisserie chicken and add the shredded meat to the tart. Should be tasty!

I’ve been watching “The Terror” on AMC.  It’s a horror tale about the failed expedition to find the Northwest Passage back in the 1840s based on this book.  Generally I’m not big horror fan, still having nightmares from watching “Alien”.  But this show grabbed me somehow.  There’s lots of blood, cannibalized bodies, etc, but the characters are interesting.  I very much enjoyed it.  It’d make a great Cthulhu tale if one just added a few tentacles.

Short one today.  Eat and drink well!

 

 

From the Bar: a couple of new things to drink, vindaloo, and a movie

This weekend we made a chicken vindaloo.    This was from the Saveur magazine recipe and it just wasn’t quite what I had grown used to in most indian restaurants.  What the recipe produced was a chicken and potato curry stew but not much of the vinegar tang that I like in vindaloo.  So I ended up taking a can of tomato sauce (I didn’t have tomato paste) and cooking it down with a bit of balsamic vinegar to get the flavor profile I wanted.   Then it came pretty close to what I was wanting.  We had this with jasmine rice. 

We’ve also been trying some new alcohols lately.   With our Indian meal, we tried a new cream liqueur called Somrus.  This stuff is delicious!  It has a wonderful mix of cardamom, rose, and other exotics.  It’s built on a rum base.  We made a lassi and poured some in.   My spouse just poured some over a brownie, which  he has found very good.

We also tried a new wine, Macaw Tannat from Brazil.   This is a nice simple red wine.  The grape is supposedly notoriously tannic but this wasn’t bad at all.  It’s nothing complex or expensive but a decent table wine.  

We also tried a mixed six pack of beers from a local microbrewery, Howling Henry’s.   Pretty good beers, and one really odd but good one, Basil Onion Pale Ale.   This is one of the few beers I’ve had that I’d consider savory, the others being Shock Top’s Twisted Pretzel beer (alas, discontinued) and Dogfish Brewing’s Ta Henket, the Egyptian beer. This would be great in a beer bread.  

Lastly, I’ve been stressed out about work and have been hiding by watching a lot of TV.  We watched the first of the Mythica movies which was a lot of fun.  This is what D&D movies should be.   All the way around a perfectly decent sword and sorcery movie with amazingly decent CGI.  This was partly funded by a Kickstarter request.  Unfortunately, it has Kevin Sorbo in it, who has become a Christian twit in his “God is not dead” type movies, but he’s not bad looking.  In the first, he’s only on screen for about 10 minutes.

That’s all.  Eat and drink well!

 

From the Kitchen – finally that bread that I’ve been trying for a decade + to make and a dip

Well, I finally did it! (happy porcupine dance)

I made a loaf of bread that has all of the holes in it I wanted. It only took more than a decade since I’ve first started trying baking bread.

I started baking bread since I do love that smell through the house. I started baking the standard sandwich loaf that my grandmother made dozens of loaves of, being a farm wife with 5 kids and the usual helpers. She raised this family back when they were still using draft horses along with tractors.

But I wanted a holey, crispy/crunchy loaf like the French are so good at. And it took a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen (publishers of Cook’s Illustrated) to make it. I will admit, I’ve made fun of them for years, wondering why someone would need to cook 50 chickens to get something right. But the method of understand and analyze does work in cooking (as it does in the sciences). I’m guessing that someday that recipe will vanish from KCET’s website, so you may have to become a member of ATK or ask me nicely to get it. 🙂  In the photos, you’ll note that a 500 degree oven just about chars parchment paper.

Yes, it take a bit of time to do. It’s worth it. We ate it with warm triple crème brie, cherry preserves and a fig and olive relish mentioned in this post.

So, tah-dah!

I also made their sticky buns and they are amazing! The use of a cooked water and flour roux, a technique from Asia called tangzhong, makes all of the difference. I’m thinking of subscribing so I can have access to all of these all of the time.

We also made queso fundido. I’ve tried this before and just can’t get the liquid texture I like in restaurant versions. So we stumbled upon Herdez Queso dip and it’s perfect. We heated it in the oven until hot, and topped it with fried chorizo (the fresh kind, not the preserved Spanish kind).

That was dinner with Fritos. I love tortilla chips, especially Xochitl brand since they are so thin, but sometimes a girl has to have her Fritos.

 

That’s all.   Eat well!