Archive for August, 2007

There will be no whine, before it’s time. It’s time…

30 August, 2007

But it is not my whine.

I have heard through the grapevine that some readers feel they are waiting too long for a new post. Trust me, my friends, there will be one presently. And by presently, I mean “soon,” “anon,” or, as the Dane said to his false friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, “by and by!”

“I said, ‘by and by!'”

“Presently” does not mean “now.” Philological rant over.

And if I keep hearing about too few posts, I’m gonna have to write something about “taboo dissimilation,” and believe me, you don’t want that.



Roast Beef Project 002.

21 August, 2007

I went overboard yesterday and bought a 14 pound single piece of top round. I should have bought three 4# pieces. Why? 1) The lean cuts in the store have been professionally trimmed and are the ueber prime pieces; 2) Because if you buy a single 14 pound piece, there is a 15-20% loss to trimmings, fat, and silverskin (which can go back into burgers). But good burgers can be made without the fat, so better that it is gone. If you want fattier burgers, go for a burger ground from chuck.

OK. After following the natural muscle structure of my 14# piece, I ended up with: a 7.5″ roast (for cold roast beef sandwiches), a 2.5# small roast (burgers, probably, or bresaola), a 1.25# flat piece resembling flank or london broil (beef jerkey), and a .75# piece of nice lean meat (carpaccio), and 2.5# trimmings (back into burgers). Should I accomplish all this, I will make pages describing the various projects.

This roast beef uses salt, bacon dry cure (salt, pepper, juniper berries, bay leaves, brown sugar), and lots of crushed peppercorns. I went way heavy on the pepper to resemble the cuts I have seen in some delis.

There is no substitute for making your own roast beef cold cuts. A 3.5-4# lean piece that costs 1.99 a pound will probably lose 20% to cooking and mositure loss during resting (save the jus!), resulting in 2.50 per pound with tax. Add in tons pepper, some olive oil, and the natural gas bill, and you are probably coming out between 3 and 4 bucks per finished pound. That does not include your time, but it is worth it.

Click on the thumb to view the photos


Bacon Project 002

19 August, 2007

Time for another bacon project–this time with a 1.5# piece of pork belly. The cure will remain the same as in the first homemade bacon (due to unused leftover cure from the first batch), but I will be curing the bacon for a shorter time (4 days) and cold smoking half of it.

Update 8-19: 4 day cure (instead of 6). Still very salty (i.e., “savoury”). Tastes very much like the first batch, perhaps slightly less salty. Future dry-cures designed for breakfast slices will have higher sugar ratio and / or addition of molasses, honey or maple syrup. I have also heard of bacon that is single-cured and stored in a zip-lock bag (instead of being rubbed with cure every morning, the bag is simply flipped). The leaching of the liquid may perhaps require a longer cure time (7 days), but the convenience might be worth the wait.

Further update: Given the fact that it is too hot in VA to cold smoke at the moment, I decided to “hot smoke” a portion of this bacon–actually I just used the oven (200 degrees F) until the internal temp. reached 150. Removed skin; cooled to room temp; sampled a piece; blanched for 1 minute to reduce salt content; dried after blanching; refridgerated (will keep 1-3 weeks no problem. Could be cut into slices, lardons, etc., and frozen for up to 3 months.


Homemade Cold Medium-Rare Roast Beef Project.

17 August, 2007
  1. 3.5# piece of top round
  2. Olive oil
  3. Kosher Salt
  4. Freshly ground black pepper.

Preheat oven to 425 F. Massage some olive oil into meat. Sprinkle with salt and massage into surface. Grind pepper over each side and press into meat. If you want a “pepper crust,” press a bunch of fresh ground pepper into meat. Wait for oven to come to temperature.

Cook meat at 425 for 30 minutes. Open oven, remove meat and lower oven temp to 300 F. Give oven a little time to cool down with door open. Return meat to oven, close door, and cook 10 minutes per pound (in this case, 35 minutes) Actually, I cooked this piece for 30 minutes, and it was not as rare as I like. I might try 7 minutes per pound next time–but my oven runs hot and I do not have a proper thermometer. If this piece were over 4 pounds, I would probably go for nine minutes per pound.

After cooking, remove the meat from the oven, cover with foil, and allow to cool to room temperature. Use once room temperature is reached or chill in refrigerator if you wish to eat it later, cutting off slices to desired thickness. By the way, this recipe assumes you want room temperature or colder meat. Top round is a good cut for this purpose, and it improves after an overnight stay in the ‘fridge.

If you prefer “wafer thin” slices, chill the beef for a couple hours in the freezer but DO NOT freeze. Cut with a quality sharp knife to desired thickness. If you cut wafer thin slices and do not use immediately, they will oxidize and turn brown. That defeats the visual purpose of serving rare roast beef.

This cut makes great sandwiches (open and closed face), and is good sliced thin and served spritzed with lemon juice and punctuated with capers (as a starter course or with a salad and potatoes).

As usual. Click on the thumbnail for some photos.



Or sliced thin with lemon juice and capers:


Friday Night Meal

11 August, 2007
  1. Meatballs (1 pound meat seasoned with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, oregano, bread crumbs, 1 egg);
  2. French lentils (puy lentils);
  3. Tomato & arugula salad;
  4. Oven-cooked (with occasional stovetop) soft polenta (seasoned with fresh parsley & cheese). Olive oil, pepper and homemade lardons boiled in water to season.
  5. Basil (edible garnish).


Homemade Gravlax (Cured Salmon)

8 August, 2007

The next material for dry cure experiments at the House is salmon. I will be making gravlax, northern European unsmoked cured salmon (or other fish). Woot! The fishlovers will be happy.


This is not my Gravlax (it’s from Wikipedia)–just an illustration of things to come…

References used in the assimilation of (eventual) recipe I shall create (and I would like to remind readers that gravlax can be finished in as few as one or two days, and frozen if a large quantity is made):

  1. Gravlax Wiki page (recipe link at bottom [high salt to sugar ratio])
  2. Sunset Magazine recipe (50/50 salt to sugar ratio)
  3. Andrea Lynn’s blog page on gravlax, inspired by this site.
  4. Another recipe (3:2 salt:sugar ratio + spirits)
  5. That bastard Emeril’s recipe (24 hour cure, salt to sugar = 4:1, orange and vanilla bean accents)
  6. Recipe using onion and cognac
  7. Usenet style recipe page (simple variants)
  8. Gucci variant recipes (including Thai spiced gravlax)
  9. There is a gravlax recipe in Victoria Wise’s 1980’s book, American Charcuterie, which is currently out of print
  10. There is a gravad max (mackerel) and gravad lax recipe in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Cookbook, and the same two recipes are revamped in the River Cottage Book of Fish to produce a sweeter, more tender, less long-keeping product.

Not that there is much to assimilate for traditional recipes–just ratio variants or conjunctive use of vodka or aquavit. I suspect Black or white pepper could be used (or mixed together); white or brown sugar (a.k.a. white sugar with a little molasses mixed in) could be used (or mixed in a 50:50 ratio).

Homemade Bacon (Salt Pork, Lardons, Rashers)

5 August, 2007

The local Asian market has begun carrying pork bellies for 2 bucks per pound, and I decided it is time to try my hand at dry curing some bacon. Yeah, I know it sounds complicated, but it is not. Basically all you need to do is salt the meat once per day with a dry cure of salt, sugar, and spices for 5 days. Then you can keep it in the fridge for use. Bacon can be cold smoked, or left unsmoked. The 6 day process will be photographed and cataloged HERE, or just click on the thumbnail. Photos will be added to the photoset after the meat has been properly sliced and cooked. This bacon experiment will not be smoked. Half of it will be turned into lardons, and half will be sliced for breakfast.


This inspiration for this recipe is from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage Book of Meat. Stay tuned, bacon fans. Future trials will modify the dry rub used in this recipe, switching to a wet (brine) cure, and cold smoking.


House-of-Yes coffee roasting sans TimmyB.

4 August, 2007

I was shocked and pleased to find a first-generation, 1500 watt West Bend “Poppery” hot air popcorn maker at the local SPCA thrift store. It cost me three dollars in quarters, and if I had to frequent a laundromat, I’d need to go another week in dirty clothes. These increasingly rare (and expensive) poppers make great home coffee roasters!

TimmyB has left the protective auspices of the House, and he has taken in tow his combination West Bend “Stir Crazy” + “Galloping Gourmet” Perfection-Aire convection oven coffee roaster. The morning after the day he left was a sad time for those of us who can’t think without the morning cup of “joe.” Fortunately, that is not me, but Country Coburn and Ho-tep were looking rough, confused, and downright surly.

Glory be! Those mornings are now over. I will be modifying this popper to roast small batches of coffee–up to four ounces. That’s more than I drink in a month these days. The other House-of-Yes denizens will have to build a roaster with a larger capacity, or roast more frequently. Before we can do any roasting, however, I will need to fabricate a rheostat, get a thermometer, & do a few other things. More later. Click on the thumbnail for the photoset (which is quite small, at the moment, but growing).


Does this look like a coffee roaster to you?


Miss Prism’s & Cro-Magnon’s Pork “Pie Project.”

3 August, 2007

Meat fans, eat your heart out. Hmmm, that sounds kinda wrong! MP & C-M have produced a fantastic pie inspired by a recipe in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Book of Meat. They offer some improvements and provided even better photography than the book! Click on the thumbnail to see the Flickr photoset.


Lunch: New world “mezze” salad.

2 August, 2007

Corn, tomato, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar, parsley (could have used basil in lieu of parsley). Yum.