Sunday, January 27, 2013

Chile con Cupcake

My wife tore this recipe from "Family Fun" magazine. She thought it sounded like fun. I did too, so I kind of invited her to be a guest blogger for the day. Actually she just cooked. I took some photos and am typing it up. Let me disclose right off here: This was cooked indoors. No grilling today folks.

2 large eggs
1 can kidney beans (15.5 oz.) drained and rinsed.
1 medium red bell pepper finely diced
1 cup frozen corn
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pound extra-lean ground beef
1 cup grated cheddar
1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
sliced scallions for garnish (we didn't have any).

1. Heat oven to 375f and coat 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray. In a large bowl lightly beat the eggs. Stir in everything but the beef, cheese, sour cream and scallions. Then gently mix in the ground beef.

2. Divide the mixture evenly into each muffin well. Pack down the contents with your fingers. Cook for  20 minutes. Then remove from the oven and sprinkle a tablespoon of cheese on each muffin. Return the tray to the oven and bake until the center of the cupcake is 160f (about 10 minutes more). Let cool for 5 minutes before removing from the tin. Serve with sour cream and scallions on top. The recipe suggests you could substitue tomato paste or barbecue sauce for the sour cream.

The cheesiness overwhelmed our smoke detector.
There were some breakaway bits during transfer, but overall the cupcakes held together very well.

This ended up being a really tasty dinner. The kids ate theirs up. Our 6 year old daughter left all her kidney beans behind, but what are you going to do? I have to say I was reaching for a second cupcake and decided to save it for leftovers. That's to say that one cupcake is sufficient if you're portion-conscious. And 2 would probably make a hearty meal. I'm the only member of the family who likes spicy food so I added some Sriracha "Rooster" sauce to mine. Otherwise the flavor was excellent and this was a fun meal.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thunder Thighs

Thunder Thighs. I was pretty much sold when I saw the name of this recipe. I mean, weren't you? It was the first thing I'd tried from Smoke &; Spice, which my folks had given me recently.

It involved making up a paste of the following, smearing it on the chicken thighs and letting it sit overnight in the fridge.

Thunder Paste:
1 small onion, chunked
1/3 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 teaspoons ground anise
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

There was an optional mop sauce, which I opted not to use.

I was excited to try a new thighs recipe, because I am such a big fan of Papa's BBQ Chicken Thighs.

So I set up my Big Green Egg for indirect cooking (using my plate setter) at 250f and let these guys go for about 2 hours

The results?


They were good. I mean fine. I guess.

Something about the paste that sounded so delicious on paper and even smelled really interesting coming out of the Cuisinart, just didn't really result in anything all that life-changing for me. Furthermore, I couldn't figure out how one should photograph a thigh. They're not the sort of food that has the same visual cache as other stuff I've made. So see if any of the photos below do it for you. I wasn't all that excited about the recipe or the photos.

Some stuff works. Some stuff doesn't I reckon. There's always next weekend, right? Thanks for reading.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Lomo al Trapo with the usual New Year's trappings

Like so many years, my 2013 began with a package of salted pork. I set some ham hocks to boiling down in some water.
As that was going on, I worked on the collards. I just rip them down the stalk before I rinse all the greens off in a colander. 

After they're rinsed I take several leaves together and roll them up tight before slicing them up into pieces.

The ham hocks boiled down for almost 2 hours. I poured half the hot ham water into the collards and half into the black-eyed peas. I also tossed out the bones and chopped up the remaining chunks of ham hock and split it evenly between the peas and collards. Oh and I dropped a packet of Sauzon Goya into the peas. Into the collards I added 1 tablespoon brown sugar.

I was eager to try out my new grill rings, which my wife had given me. I found a "recipe" for onions where you simply set them on these rings and cook them on indirect heat for 45 minutes.

But the main even here was  salt-crusted beef tenderloin or Lomo al Trapo. It was a recipe I'd found in Steven Raichlen's Planet Barbecue! This is a Colombian technique for cooking what Raichlen describes as "one of the costliest and most prestigious cuts of meat, but paradoxically one of the least flavorful." So how much pressure is that? I will say that I went to the butcher's counter knowing that I was asking for something sort of special and pricey, but I really didn't know what I was getting into.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2012's Last Supper: Bone-In Ribeye

New Year's Eve was subdued in our house. Fresh home from travels to Massachusetts and New Jersey left us tired and fighting off various ailments. On the afternoon of New Year's Eve I ran to the grocery to buy a few staples for the household and to make sure we had our collards and black-eyed peas for New Year's Day. 

I stood at the meat counter patiently waiting for a beef tenderloin (post forthcoming). Time had passed. How much I couldn't say, but I returned to myself with a realization that I was staring. And drooling. At this:
Yes, about 2.11 lbs of bone-in ribeye gloriousness. Politely I asked the butcher if he would kindly package that up for me as well. I took it home along with all the other groceries and left it on the counter to come toward room temperature before grilling. 

I pulled out a bottle of this 2010 Priorat from Spain and poured a little into the cool decanter my wife bought me a couple of years back. It's called a Knight's Decanter and does a nice job of aerating the wine. Plus it looks really awesome.

 Meanwhile the coals were jammin inside the Egg.
So I actually took some video footage with my phone of searing the steak. That's still in production. It's my first effort, so please moderate your expectations. Thank you. Meanwhile, expectations for the steak were running high to quite high.

I've always been a NY Strip guy. This was the first time I'd used the T-Rex Method to do a ribeye. Actually it was the first time I'd made my own ribye. One of these days I'll do a side-by-side comparison, but holy moly this was delicous. The kids, who had already brushed their teeth for bed decided to have a taste and raved about it before running upstairs to brush again. My wife's comment was, "MMM. Buttery!" You brush on some olive oil and generously season with coarse salt and coarse pepper and then give it a high-temperature sear. It's so good. And the marbling (fat) in the ribeye really does add richness to the flavor. It is a buttery sort of an experience. 

I served this up with some little red potatoes, which I quartered and tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper and a little sage before cooking in the oven at 400f for about 30 min.

The worst thing about having a Big Green Egg is that it's ruined the restaurant steak for me. I still get the occasional steak when we're out to eat. But it's hard to pay premium prices for something that's not as good as what I do at home. This really was a delight to cook and eat. Dang it's making my stomach rumble just to type it up. 2012 was a good year and this was a great way to cap it off.