Memories From Youth

Interesting thread by Stephanie McKellop on twitter:

Quick sidebar- if her name sounds familiar, it’s because she was briefly the target of all the alt-right lynch mob for engaging in a pedagogical strategy that is so widespread that you would probably have to explain to most educators why exactly it is “controversial.” They failed to get her fired because, well, SHE WAS JUST DOING HER JOB.

At any rate, the one on the list of things that surprised me was butter. I never realized that it was considered a luxury, and I honestly don’t remember it being a thing when I was a kid. I guess it is- I thought all the margarines and all that other stuff were for people with special dietary concerns and had no idea it was because of the price. I guess I never use butter for anything other than cooking (meaning I don’t do toast or butter bread, etc.) so it just wasn’t something that stood out to me.

One thing I have noticed recently is that all of the cheap cuts of meat that I used to use frequently when I was in undergrad and beyond to cook in bulk are now some of the most expensive cuts. Things like a good bone in pork shoulder or corned beef or beef brisket used to be dirt cheap. Now it’s expensive as hell. Reliably, the cheapest cut of meat in the store is a pork tenderloin or pork loin, which used to be super expensive. Beef is all over the place, but it seems that ground beef and premium cuts of beef like tenderloins, t-bones, porterhouse, etc., all command a premium price, while what used to be lesser cuts like brisket command a high price. The sweet spot seems to be cuts like sirloin.

At any rate, I thought it was interesting.








Recipe: Electric Pressure Cooker 4-Minute Potato Salad

I have a house full of people. I’ve sent them off to the movies to cool down. It is uncharacteristically hot here this week. I’m having a whole-house attic fan installed, but it wasn’t a rush because I wasn’t expecting an unprecedented number of 95-100 degree days. So we sweat.

Luckily, I did buy the new grill/smoker, so meals have been a breeze. Yesterday I decided since I dug up potatoes, we needed potato salad. And since I have a Multi-pot electric pressure cooker I could do it without heating up the house.  For something I was so skeptical about originally, I’ve found I use it multiple times a week.

Photo of course by JeffreyW. Yum

Here’s the recipe I used, but you could easily adapt it to your favorite potato salad recipe if you have an instant pot style cooker.

At the last-minute yesterday, I decided we needed potato salad at our cookout. Luckily, electric pressure cooker to the rescue.  Four minutes cooking time, about 10 minutes prep. I left potatoes and eggs in the fridge to cool while we ran around. Added mayo, mustard, some dill pickle juice just before dinner and served with grilled hamburgers and corn. Yum.

Perfect Picnic Potato Salad

  • 6 large potatoes, peeled, cubed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, finely diced
  • mayo and yellow mustard to taste – I used less than a cup of mayo and about 1/4 cup mustard – but I know some people like a lot more. I added a 1/4 cup of dill pickle juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Add the steaming basket to the pressure cooker. Add cubed potatoes (and you don’t need to be too fancy with cutting the pieces – just relatively same size for uniform cooking). Place washed eggs on top of the potatoes. Close the unit, set to steam for 4 minutes. When finished, use the rapid release method to ensure eggs don’t over cook and potatoes stay firm.

Add eggs to a cold water ice bath. Remove potatoes and drain excess water. Add to large serving bowl.  Peel eggs, wash and cube. Add to potatoes. Let cool completely before mixing so as not to turn the potatoes into mush.

Once cooled, add remaining ingredients and fold until well mixed.  Let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 6 easily

Open thread!








If You’ve Got ‘Em, Smoke ‘Em (The Chicken Chronicles, Chapter [N])

Some of you may recall I have a roast chicken obsession.  Been a while since we’ve talked about my problem here, but now’s the time.

Yesterday I mashed together a couple of recipes to come up with this:

That would be Peruvian/beer can chicken, smoked on Weber grill.

The Peruvian stuff is here.  Doubled the marinade for the two chickens.  Spooned it all over under the skin; rubbed the left-overs on the outside.

Took two beer cans, drank half the contents of each,* and  proceeded as directed here: putting the half-empty cans in the cavity, and setting both chickens upright, using the legs to make a tripod. (Forgot this bit: I let the chickens rest (not vertically) for about three hours coming up to room temperature from the fridge before shoving the beer can up their butts and getting ready to sit them on the fire.)

Then: about a chimney full of good charcoal (lump hardwood), a few more chunks once I dumped the chimney out.  When the coals were red with just a grey rim, I tossed on two handfuls of soaked wood chips; made sure the whole smokey mass was to one side of the grill; placed the cooking grated and set the chickens on the cool side of the Weber with their backs to the coals.

Next, I covered the Weber, with the air holes in the lid almost completely open, and let ’em go.  I checked them first at about 15 minutes, and again ten minutes later, when I shut the air vent down a little — maybe to two-thirds open — in a probably feckless gesture at getting a little more smoke.  About ten minutes after that, they were done — in the state you see in the photo above.

I also made the cilantro-feta green sauce from the first link, which I can’t recommend too highly; it’s kind of like a creamy chimichurri.  The other minor note: it’s worth picking up the Peruvian chile pastes.  I tried doing this with substitutes and it just doesn’t come out with the same pop.

In any event, when we got the chicken to the table it was, by general consensus, simply the best chicken we’d ever had.  The Peruvian flavor was present, but not overwhelming; ditto the smoke.  The thigh meat was perfect and yet the breast was not overdone.  It was as moist as any bird I’ve ever had — I’m guessing the combination of the vertical cooking position and the moisture from the beer does some kind of magic.

In the midst of the holy hell that is daily life, I have to say it was a pure pleasure to try something new (to me) and have it come out just right, better than imagined.

(We were cooking for very good friends, and the rest of the meal was not shabby either.  I’ll save the salmon bacon post for later.)

Anyway, the thread is open, but I’d like to know if any of y’all want to share any of your similar experiences:  something you cooked or ate that gave you inordinate pleasure.

Over to you, jackals-with-bibs.

*Of the two, the Snaggle Tooth Bandana IPA was really nice.

 

 



Anthony Bourdain Dead, RIP

Depression is a horrible thing. Apparently, he committed suicide in France. He was a great chef, communicator, and shared the glory that is human culinary ingenuity and tradition. He will be missed.

 

Folks, don’t ever let your depression make you ignore this wonderful community of jackals and pet lovers. We will help you, hold, and lift you, just reach out.

I’ll  update with links soon and suicide prevention information.

 

The National Suicide Prevention 24 Hour Hotline is (800) 273-8255

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org

 

You can also text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741. People are standing by, ready to help without judgement.



A Late Snack: Caramel Swirl Cake

I made a caramel swirl layer cake with salted caramel ganache for Mother’s Day brunch last week.

I adapted the white layer cake recipe from Epicurious, which you can find at this link. Or use your own preferred white cake recipe. The adaptation was swirling salted caramel ganache into the cake batter before putting it into the oven.

Salted Caramel Ganache

8 ounces of caramels (If you have a recipe for caramels you like and want to do the work, then make them. If there is a for purchase caramels that you like, then save yourself some time and effort and buy them.)

8 ounces of heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Kosher salt to taste

Place 8 ounces of caramels in a mixing bowl. Scald the cream and vanilla extract and pour it over the caramels. Because caramels don’t melt like chocolate does, place the mixing bowl over a pot of boiling water as a double boiler. Let the scalded cream sit on the caramels in the double bowler till the caramels are soft enough to whisk the hot cream into, then whisk them together to make the ganache. Add kosher salt to taste, or if you like your caramel unsalted, leave it out. I won’t call the food police. Swirl the caramel ganache into the cake batter after it has been poured into the cake pans and then bake per the recipe’s instruction. They should look something like this:

Once the cakes are done and cool, make another batch of caramel ganache and set it aside until it comes to room temperature. Then whip another 8 ounces of heavy whipping cream till you get stiff peaked whipped cream. Fold the room temperature caramel ganache into the whipped cream to make caramel mousse.

Turn the cake out onto a round, then frost the top of the first layer with mousse. Place the second layer on top, then frost the top of that and the sides of the whole cake. Then place in the refrigerator. Make one last 1/2 batch of the caramel ganache – just 1/2 everything in the recipe – and let it cool to room temperature. Remove the cake from the refrigerator, and pour the ganache over the top and smoothing it out over the top and the sides with a spatula. Then sprinkle the top with kosher salt or whatever your preferred finishing salt is.

 

Then slice and enjoy!

Stay hungry!

Open thread.

 








Recipe Exchange: Multi-Pot Quick Recipe

I’ve been using my multi-pot electric pressure cooker a lot. I’ve been making my standard pressure cooker recipes, including a delicious pot roast  (recipe here – although I’ve been using  whiskey instead of wine and really liking the flavor)

My multi-pot came with both a steamer tray and a steam basket. The former is so you can steam instead of boil your food and the latter so  you can cook two items at once. On a busy day, I may not cook fancy, but with a pressure cooker  you can put together a quick flavorful meal in a few minutes.

I thought it was time to give the steamer basket a try.

First up – the steamer tray. The one that came with the multi-pot is basically a wire rack. The one from my stove-top pressure cooker is a flat tray.

I wondered if it would fit and sure enough it did. So I started with that one, since I was more familiar with it. What I love about the steamer tray is you can infuse whatever you’re cooking with lots of flavor by placing a spice packet (I use unbleached coffee filters and string) under the tray, add just enough water to cover the tray and cook as usual.  Super flavorful when pressure cooked.

I made Chicken in BBQ sauce and mashed potatoes:

Shredded BBQ Chicken

  • 3 small boneless chicken breasts
  • salt & pepper
  • red wine vinegar
  • water
  • spice packet: rosemary, sage, garlic, oregano – crushed together and tied into a flat spice packet to fit under the tray

Lightly salt and pepper chicken breasts. In the multi-pot add enough liquid (1/2 water and 1/2 red wine vinegar) to barely cover the tray. Add spice packet, steaming tray and then chicken breasts.

Now it’s time to add the potatoes in the steaming basket.

Mashed Potatoes

  • 4 potatoes (I like yukon gold, but any will do), washed and cut into eight pieces each)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste

Place the steam basket into the multi-pot and add potatoes.

Now it’s time to attach the lid and cook according to directions – use the time for the longest cooking item, in this case the chicken (15 minutes vs. 10 minutes for the potatoes).

Once the cooker has depressurized, add potatoes to a large bowl to mash, heat milk and butter in microwave until butter is melted and add to potatoes. Mash and add salt and pepper to taste. Cover to keep warm.

For the chicken, remove from the pressure cooker to a plate. Remove spice packet and liquid (I save the liquid and freeze for soup base). Shred chicken (I use two forks, pulling in opposite directions) and then add back into the multi-pot along with BBQ sauce (Sweet Baby Rays – sweet & spicy – is my favorite) and turn the multi-pot to WARM. Let simmer until everything is heated through (a couple of minutes).

Serve with steamed buttered green beans for a quick evening meal.  It’s not fancy, but it’s also not fast food. ;-)

This technique can be used with many items – instead of BBQ you can skip the vinegar when cooking and then use the liquid, along with milk, butter and flour to make a quick gravy after the chicken has steamed. Shred the chicken, add to the gravy and serve over potatoes.

Use this two-tier ctechnique with pot roast, ribs, pork roast… etc.

I think I’m going to try lemon juice, chicken and rice for my next quickie concoction.

Note on steamer tray – I made my first batch of mashed potatoes without it and the potatoes were watery. The next batch I switched to the steamer tray and they were smooth and creamy. Lesson: steam whenever you can instead of boil.

For all my present and future Multi-Pot recipes, bookmark this link.

Next Multi-Pot recipe will be Sesame Chicken.

What’s on your menu this Sunday night? Any Massachusetts peeps running/viewing the marathon tomorrow? Feel free to share recipes and discuss whatever.

Open thread








Saturday Morning Open Thread: Stay Positive


 
Consumer alert: If you’re a fan of Penzey’s Spices (useful even to those of us who aren’t exactly cooks), this is definitely the weekend to check your email — or their online site, to find the store nearest you.
 
Another positivity suggestion: