Archive for the ‘Food recipes’ Category

Homemade Canadian bacon.

14 September, 2008

I got a good deal on some pork loin, so I am going to make some Canadian bacon. For the record, loin bacon is also used by the Irish, so one will also hear this bacon referred to as Irish bacon; but here in the states, it’s usually called Canadian.

For one gallon of brine (boil some of the water to dissolve the salt & sugar, and mingle the spices, then add it to the rest of the gallon. Chill to fridge temp before inserting meat) Note: one gallon of brine was more than enough to cover the meat; I saved the rest to brine a venison backstrap down the road:

  • 1 1/2 cups kosher salt;
  • 1 1/2 cups dextrose, or 1 cup sugar, or 1 cup brown sugar (I used dextrose this time);
  • 8 teaspoons pink salt
  • 4 crumbled bay leaves;
  • 8 crushed juniper berries;
  • 3 smashed cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon coarse ground black pepper;
  • 1 gallon water;
  • Note: this is a recipe for savory bacon. You could add any number of aromatics, such as fresh thyme or sage, or even extra sweeteners (for sweeter bacon), such as maple syrup or honey or molasses, or just increase the sugar of your choice.

For the meat:

  • 5.5 pounds pork loin (that’s just what mine weighed).

Brine the meat (be sure it is fully covered–I cut my loin into two pieces and used large Ziploc bags) for 48 hours (actually, I brined one piece for 2 days, and another for 4 days. Both tasted great pan seared before smoking (chef’s perks). Rinse the meat after brining, and let it rest on a rack uncovered in the fridge for at least 24 hours to form a pellicle (this can be short-cutted by putting the meat on a rack and running the air from a fan over it for a couple of hours). Smoke the meat until an inner temp of 145 has been reached. Slice and store in the fridge, or freeze for longer storage. Pan fry or steam to reheat, or add to soups or stews.

The procedure I used was to hot smoke the meat, which took about 8 hours at sub 200 degree heat in my smoker (fall day, small fire). You could also cold smoke the meat (keeping the temp at about 90 degrees for as man as 12 hours, but you will have to consider it still raw and cook it (of course, if you brined the meat for longer and hung it, you would get a loin prociuto, but that is for another post [or you could cure the meat, simmer it to an internal temp of 150 +/-, then cold smoke it for 12 hours (or smoke than simmer) and have a loin ham}). If you hot smoke your bacon (or, if you don’t have a smoker, slowly heat it in a 200 degree oven until the internal temp reaches 145-150 degrees, you can consider it cooked and eat it reheated, or cold.

Pictures? Well, I forgot to take them. I will say that both the two day and the four day brined pieces were equally good, and it was hard to tell a difference between the two. This ham/Canadian bacon made excellent cold cut sandwiches, for the record.


Mote pillo: Ecuadorian hominy with eggs.

5 September, 2008

Mote pillo is a hominy and egg brunch dish from Ecuador. I made it with Goya brand maiz mote pelado, and it is best served with homemade queso fresco and home-roasted coffee (naturally). In lieu of using the huge mote pelado corn, one could use Goya golden (or white) hominy corn (maiz trillado amarillo (or maiz trillado blanco)), or even canned hominy. I, however, like a beefier kernel, so the huge mote pelado is right for me. Here’s a link to the site that inspired me to try this dish.

I was cooking for one when I made this, so I will not give exact ratios. Just think of this as a hominy scramble–not unlike an egg scramble–and wing it. If you are using dried hominy, you will need to have cooked it earlier–like the day before. In butter, saute a pinch of powdered anchiote, some pinhead diced red onion, followed by minced garlic. Throw in some (optional) jalapeno (green or red), and the hominy, along with a splash of milk. When the milk has evaporated and or been absorbed by the hominy, add beaten egg (I used one egg with about 2/3 cup of cooked hominy). As the egg nearly sets, throw in some finely chopped scallions, minced red bell pepper (which I included for color contrast, really), and finely chopped parsley (cilantro would have been better, but I was out). Stir to mix and break up the egg. Plate and enjoy.

Nuoc Cham: Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

28 August, 2008

Just a quick post on a great Vietnamese dipping sauce, for 2-ish cups. Here is the base:

  • 5 T sugar
  • 3 T  water (1/3 cup)
  • 3 T fish sauce (1/3 cup)
  • 8 T fresh squeezed lime juice (1/2 cup)

Definitely add: 1 or more smashed cloves of garlic; 1 or more diced hot chiles;

Consider adding: minced shallot, julienned carrot; julienned cucumber; jullienned daikon, chopped tomato, chopped cilantro, or whatever may strike your fancy.

Lamb kebab + mezze 01-08

10 January, 2008


Click for a couple more photos.


Lamb kebab; mezze of bulgher; scallion & red pepper vegetable plate; onion salad with sumac; black olives; pistachio nuts:

2 1/2 pounds lamb leg (after trimming), trimmed and diced into about 1 1’2 inch to 2 inch cubes;
1 dried red chile (ground);
1 tablespoon dried chile flakes (ground);
1 tablespoon corriander seed
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds (ground);
2 teaspoons black peppercorns (ground);
1 teaspoon white peppercorns (ground);
3 tablespoons olive oil (one could use as little as 1 tablespoon;
9 garlic cloves, finely chopped;
Salt sprinkled to taste while cooking.
Spices that could have made it into the mix: fenugreek (2t), cumin (up to 1T), dried oregano (1t), fresh rosemary (1t)

Put lamb pieces into ziploc bag or bowl. Add oil and massage. Add garlic and ground spices and massage. Marinate in fridge for 2 hours or as long as you like.

Cook meat over charcoal grill (with two soaked wooden skewers per kebab), or (as here) on HOT ridged grill pan (oven at 500 degrees for 15 minutes, then a couple minutes on high on the range). Sear and turn. Continue turning until desired doneness. Don’t feel obligated to use skewers. I didn’t–I was out, therefore the “kebab.” If you use skewers, the preparation is properly called “shish kebab.”

Kibbeh meatballs

3 January, 2008

Click here or on the thumbnail for a couple photos


What do you do with raw kibbeh leftovers? One option is to shallow fry them as meatballs, which have many, many variations, depending on how you doctor your original kibbeh. Now, meatballs have become a low prestige food in the U.S., but their culinary rank is not worthy of the labor involved, should you decide to make meatballs from scratch without serving the meat as a raw dish first. Be sure to cook no further than medium rare or, for the squeamish, medium, otherwise the meatballs will lose their juice. The photoset above is what we did with our leftover kibbeh nayye from new year’s eve, 2007/8, after adding a little extra olive oil and water to knead the meat to an elastic paste, and dicing and throwing in some of the garnish/accompaniments, like parsley, and radish. Served with mildly spiced large fava beans and room temperature coarse, pale bulgher, with parsley as an edible garnish. One could eliminate the water and beat in an egg, or additional breadcrumbs. Variations such as these could go under several names, such as kofte or koukla.

Homemade chicken stock

2 January, 2008

Lots of stuff out there about making homemade chicken stock. Why are you here when you could be on “the Google?”

First rule of chicken stock: you have to save chicken bones (in a zip-loc bag in the freezer).
Second rule of chicken stock (with exception discussed below): do not let it boil or it will never clear.
Third rule of chicken stock is: You can make a small quantity and add it to your next batch along with water.

Exception: you can boil the bones for a few minutes, then discard the water with the scum and start over. Chicken stock will take at least 1 1/2 hours.

A basic “power of two” stock: A whole chicken, or enough bones + wings + giblets to make a good stock. Two halves of an onion, two carrots, two celery stalks, two handfuls of parsley, two bay leaves, two sprigs thyme (not for me), two spices (salt and pepper to taste), two quarts water (=water to cover), two hour simmer (if you use a whole chicken, you can pick the meat off the bones and reserve it for other purposes).

Additional power of two additions: two cloves garlic, two finger sized sprigs of fresh dill, two parsnips, two halves of a turnip.

Listified, think of it this way (in my own oder of preference, and half the time I don’t have all the ingredients):
Salt and pepper
Bay leaf

Simmer (emphasis on simmer) and skim any scum. Give yourself two hours minimum. It’s that easy. You can also throw in pork bones from your last bbq, or shrimp hulls, or turkey bones, or fish heads, or whatever. I strain my stock through a sieve lined with the cotton remnants of an old T-shirt. Cool to kitchen temperature, refridgerate, and skim off any fat that collects on the top the next day.

Again, it is that easy, and totally worth it.

Crispy pig’s ears with River Cottage Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s tartare sauce

30 December, 2007

Click here or on the photo for the photoset.


Recipe source: The River Cottage Cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Euphemism: Nubbley, crispy, mustard-breaded meaty [subjective] goodness. Not much on the web on this recipe, so thank your stars you found this blog and complementary photoset. So how was it? Well, let me give a few comments, observations, and opinions:

  1. If you are going to eat pig’s ears, this is probably the best recipe you will find;
  2. The pig’s ears were a great vehicle for the homemade tartar sauce, but many other culinary creations could function as an equally good, and superiorly tasting carrier;
  3. Gristled texture, carltilage texture, funky flavor, funky smell–not bad, just funky;
  4. Cool to make, cool to have people taste, but not a life-changing experience in texture or flavor to make me want to go out of my way to present the dish again;
  5. Most everyone was willing to give the dish a cursory taste–and the two guests who had eaten pigs ears in Brazil (in a soup) said that HF-W’s recipe was the best pig ear dish they had eaten, but they didn’t particularly care for them then, and still don’t particularly care for them now.

All in all, I am a proponent of this dish, but only under certain circumstances; which is to say, if I were to buy a pig “on the hoof,” or were to have the means to raise and butcher my own pig, I would make them to engage in ethical nose-to-tail eating. Still, I will commit to eating two pig ears for every 200 pounds/93 kilogams of pork I eat. Like many of us, most of my meat purchasing is done at a butcher, so I have access to select cuts whenever I want them; but at the same time, I think it is a bit selfish to buy and eat the premium cuts and ignore the others, so I plan to keep a diary recording the porcine parts I eat, which means I plan to eat two pig’s ears for every two 8 1/2-pound picnic hams, two 11-pound shoulder butts, two 23-pound hams, two 14-pound pieces of of pork belly, and two 30-pound loin sections, plus a large quantity of pork ribs (to which list ought to be added one pork liver + other offal, including the head (as brawn), 16 pounds random trimmings for sausage, 15 pounds fat, 10 pounds skin, 30 pounds stock bones, 4 trotters, 4 hocks, and 1 gallon of blood, the last of which is very difficult to obtain in the U.S.).

I purchased my pig’s ears at a local butcher, and the fact that they display them in the case suggests there is still significant demand for them. At the same time, on a cost analysis basis, I could have bought pork belly for the same price and made bacon or lardons; and when on sale, pork shoulder or pork picnic cuts go for half the price. Still, I stand by my claim that this dish is worth considering for ethical eating habits. Having tasted the pig’s ears when they came out of the stock, before breading, and after they were breaded and came out of the oven, if you had to choose one way to eat pig’s ears, this is probably one of the more paletable ways to enjoy them, so kudos once again to HF-W.

My recipe:

  • Two pig’s ears;
  • Homemade pork stock to cover (which came from smoked pork shoulder bones & a smoked turkey carcass)
  • Spices to taste (beyond the stock): bay, juniper, salt, pepper. Go with what feels right
  • English mustard
  • Homemade bread crumbs (crisp a loaf in the oven, then pulverize it in a food processor)
  • Homemade tartar sauce (see The River Cottage Cookbook). Very tasty.

Simmer ears in stock for at least 2 1/2 hours. Remove, cut into strips. Coat with mustard, then breadcrumbs. Bake in 425 to 450 oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Serve hot as soon as possible with homemade tartar sauce.

Kibbeh nayyeh (kibbi, kibbe, naye, nayhe)

30 December, 2007


 Click here or on the photo for a couple of photos.


Gonna make some kibbeh nayyeh, which is sort of like a Lebanese lamb tartare. Guidelines, which really could not be easier: Grind the basic mixture in a meat grinder (I use a vintage Enterprise #10 with a 3/16th inch die), mix in spices and bulgher (but see below) and knead to an elastic paste with (optional) additional chilled water to distribute spices. Note: I personally prefer to lightly mix the meat by hand and not add water, because I prefer a coarser texture. Be sure to process the meat as close to eating time as possible, with perhaps an hour or so in the fridge before serving. Do not use ground lamb from your local market, for you will never know how long it has been sitting, nor will you know the exact cuts used in creating it. Serving and preparation variations are discussed below.

For the basic kibbeh mixture (which should be tasted as a baseline before spicing):

  • 1 pound lamb leg, trimmed of fat and sinew to lean meat only (though there are those who make it with lean beef: 1)
  • 1 onion, white or red (or a couple shallots) (put into the grinder or diced to a superfine pinhead mince)
  • whole grain bulgher: 1/4 to 1 cup (dry measure, your call as to quantity). Traditional recipes use fine grained bulgher. Not for me.
  • salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon black or white pepper)
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • iced water (for kneading the mix to an elastic paste, if that is your preferred texture. I prefer a chunkier texture, so I omit the water except for using leftovers for meatballs)

Possible spice additions (use one or more. I usually steer clear of using cinnamon and allspice). Remember to taste your basic, unspiced kibbeh mixture to establish a baseline. Do not be a ham-fist with your spices, but do not fear the contribution they can make!:

  • 1 teaspoon cayenne or other ground chili pepper (not southwestern chile powder!), or a couple fresh hot chilies
  • 1 teaspoon cumin, ground,
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seed, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mint leaves
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice, ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon clove, ground

For the supplemental drizzle (should you desire it, and many do):

  • extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice or slim lemon wedges (or diluted tamarind juice)

Additional garnishes which may also be served on a separate plate for diners to add to taste:

  • cosmetic dusting of paprika and/or cayenne
  • chopped scallions
  • mint leaves
  • olives
  • white onion wedges
  • middle eastern pickles
  • thinly sliced radishes
  • chopped parsley
  • basil leaves
  • marjoram leaves
  • walnuts or toasted pine nuts

How to serve and present the dish: To eat, pita bread, Arab or lavash bread, romaine (or other) lettuce pieces, or quartered onion pieces are often used to scoop up kibbeh. Kibbeh may be spread thin on a plate, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with fresh lemon juice and garnished to taste, or it may be formed into cigar shaped spears and placed on lettuce leaves with similar drizzle and garnish applied. Some roll the kibbeh into small balls, with or without lettuce, but usually with garnish and drizzle nearby; others do not mix the bulgher with the meat, but prefer to spread the meat thinly and press bulgher into the meat after it has been arranged on its plate. I prefer a hybrid: Mix some bulgher into the meat, then press bulgher onto the top. For those of you who need to follow the specific guidelines of someone else’s cookbook, I recommend, as a starting point, The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Rodin. I don’t mention her book because it has the definitive recipe for kibbeh nayyeh, but because it mentions several variations for raw and cooked kibbeh, as well as the Turkish cig kofte. There is also a kibbeh naye [sic] recipe in the River Cottage Book of Meat by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, as well as in any Lebanese cookbook. The more you seek the recipe out, the more variations you will find.

Know, too, that raw kibbeh is very versatile. If your guests are squeamish about eating raw meat, the kibbeh mixture can be quickly made into meat balls or kebabs and fried, broiled or baked. Any leftovers can be cooked the same way, or made into a creative sausage with some additional spices.

Ideally, each reader/cook will create his or her own special kibbeh.

Chorizo del diablo.

20 December, 2007
Tacos (huevos con chorizo)–one of many uses. [click to enlarge]

Pseudo recipe:
4.25 pounds pork shoulder and pork belly mix
1 onion and 3 cloves garlic (ground with meat)
4 teaspoons kosher salt (= one heaping tablespoon)
1 tablespoon whole black pepper, ground
1 heaping teaspoon whole cumin, ground
1 heaping teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, ground
1 heaping teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
7 ounce can of Herdez Salsa Ranchera (the jarred stuff is not as good)

Notes: Ground once through a 3/16th die. I probably forgot some of the spices I put in, and the quantities may be off, but for the love of Pete, this is good stuff. The addition of vinegar would add a nice balance.

Sea Scallop Supper 12-07

14 December, 2007

Click the thumbnail for a couple more photos.

Scallop Supper

Per person:
Sea scallops: 2-4 large-sized (4 is about 1/2 pound)
Butter: 1 fat pan-coating pad for the scallops; 1 fat pad more for the sauce
Garlic: 2 cloves, roughly chopped
Flat leaf parsley: 1 sparse palm (not a handful–it absorbs the butter–if you want more, add as additional garnish)
Red Jalapeno, seeded, deveined diced, or red bell pepper: 1/2 per person (a raw garnish) (optional)
Cayenne pepper: enough to dust (optional)
Black pepper and kosher salt to taste (optional, and not for me with this dish)
(Served, this time, over pasta, but a nice baguette would do).

Notes: [While cooking pasta]: Hot pan, cook scallops in butter until nicely browned on one side (3 minutes) and on the other (fewer than 2 minutes, and cover the pan for the last minute if the scallops are really thick). Discard (or save) brown butter. New butter in pan, saute chopped garlic. Add parsley for a few seconds, pour over scallops. If serving over pasta, use some brown butter to lubricate pasta (as long as it is not bitter, or a fresh pad if it is). Try to time pasta and scallops together, or pasta will set and stick. Set scallops on pasta bed and spoon sauce over scallops. Dust with cayenne and sprinkle seeded pepper (or red bell pepper) over.

A good source for scallop supper ideas is Appetite, by Nigel Slater. As long as you do not overcook the scallops, anything goes as far as spice palettes are concerned.