Archive for the ‘Back to basics’ Category

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.


Friday night mezze.

2 June, 2007

More good food last night (I wish I had taken photos):

  1. Baba Ganooj, garnished with parsley and radish half-moons;
  2. Onion/mint salad (onions “quick picked” with red wine vinegar, salt, and sumac);
  3. Radish (edible garnish);
  4. Peppermint leaves (refreshing after-meal palette cleanser);
  5. Flame roasted pita bread;
  6. Bulgher pilaf;
  7. Koftit Ferakh = “fried minced chicken balls”-hmmm, gotta find a better translation for that! (See note below). Sort of like chicken burgers meets meatballs. We ground chicken breasts up in TimmyB’s small grinder with some onion and bread. To this mixture we added whole cumin, salt, pepper, olive oil, a bit of cooked bulgher, and red pepper flakes. After kneading the spices in, we divided the meat into balls and coated with flour. We pressed the balls down into patty shapes to facilitate cooking (though traditionally, they would have been marble sized and not needed pressing. Transfer to paper towels, squeeze on some lemon, and voila! Though next time I’d serve them with lemon/parsley/sumac sprinkled on top, with a yogurt sauce nearby. TimmyB decided to mix some Mayo and Vietnamese “rooster sauce” together to function as a sauce for the chicken, and that was pretty tasty. Next time, we will marinate the chicken for a few hours in some sort of concoction.

**Note on Gallus gallus: In the current parlance of our times, “chicken” refers to the whole species; the female of Gallus gallus is a “hen”; a young female is a “pullet”; the males are “roosters,” “cocks,” or cockerels.” Should a male rooster be castrated, it is called a “capon.” All chickens are called “chicks” when recently hatched.

In relation to this entry and this meal, while it is awkward to refer to a portion of our meal as “fried minced chicken balls,” the fact is that, in the U.S., only the females are eaten. Despite implied anatomical impossibility, it would seem further absurd to refer to the dish as “fried minced hen balls.” So if you feel like snickering at our eating “fried…balls,” well, I invite you to come up with a better name.


21 May, 2007

We recently put the meat grinder through its maiden voyage at the House. TimmyB decided to have hamburgers for lunch yesterday. The grind was initially perfect, but we made one assumption that was wrong: We thought that lots of meat would be trapped in the spindle (and that is why it was backing up, as you can see it begins to do in the video). To remedy this, we put the ground meat back through to press the unground meat out (and when that did not work, we put in some hamburger buns, which also did not work). The real problem lay in that some connective membrane (the kind you find between fat and muscle) had blocked the 3/16″ holes in the plate, sort of like putting saran wrap over the holes, so the meat really had nowhere to go but backwards. Once we removed the obstructing membrane, the grinder worked great, but by that point we had mashed most of the meat to a pulp and had a bunch of bread mixed in. Lesson learned. Perhaps we need to be more careful in cubing the meat; perhaps tightening the lockring more securely would have prevented the problem from happening in the first place, because the cutting knife is supposed to rub quite hard against the mating plate. More as we experiment. For the record, the burgers were great! We only used some olive oil, salt and pepper to season the meat.

Below is a teaser thumbnail…
Click (here), or on the thumbnail, to view the video.