Burgerpalooza–first half of 08.

14 June, 2008

Several burger events worthy of note, but I am only providing pictures. Minimalist, ueber-rare burgers by HBD, Huge works burger by AGD, Loaded bgt  (bacon, guacamole, tomato) works burger by DanGafro, etc. Just a gallery of some burgers. Mmmmm… burgers!

Click on the photo for the gallery:


Quarry season, 2008.

31 May, 2008

Quarry season has begun. DanGafro and I just did a recon mission. The water is crisp, but we floated around for hours. Photos soon.

Sausagepalooza 5-27-08

28 May, 2008

Country Coburn is going to cook for the Mountain Lake biological research station. We made some sausages to contribute.

Three sausages. 18 pounds total, less a pound or two lost to the meat grinder/sausage stuffer and to casing rupture (and yes, to tasting).

Click the photo for a larger view.

6# pork shoulder, boned
1 onion, ground with meat
2 T kosher salt
1 T white pepper, ground
1 T dried ground ginger
1 1/2 t dried ground nutmeg
1 cup heavy cream, ice-cold
2 eggs, lightly beaten and chilled
1 onion, ground with meat

Chorizo del Diablo:
6# pork shoulder, boned
1 onion, ground with meat
1T black pepper, ground
2T kosher salt
1 heaping teaspoon of: ground cumin, paprika, Mexican oregano, red chile flakes, corriander
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne
5 cloves garlic, ground with meat
2 toasted New Mexico dried chiles
1 onion (minced with meat)
1/2 cup sherry vinegar
1 7oz can of Herdez salsa ranchera.

Chorizo Verde:
6# pork shoulder, boned
1 cup beet greens, stemmed and roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups spinach, stemmed and roughly chopped
3 fire scorched poblano peppers, roughly chopped
1 cup packed fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
15 peppercorns
2 heavy tablespoons kosher salt
1heaping t cumin
10 cloves garlic

Notes: I made a “salsa/sauce” of the wet ingredients for all three sausages + spices (and leafy greens and peppers) to stir in with the meat after grinding.


6 May, 2008

Faffing again.

Beets: They are better than you remember, and they were never that bad to begin with!

I’m cooking beet greens tonight (having torched the beets last week in DanGafro’s DeathStar. And since I love beets, and all parts of beets, I used “the Google” and found this page. This should keep me busy for a while.

My usual beet m.o. is to roast them on the grill, or in the fireplace, or in the oven, or at the campfire. Salt and olive oil is all that is required, other than tin foil (season, wrap, cook). Maybe a squeeze of lemon over the sliced beets, or a dash of red wine vinegar if I don’t have any lemon. Beets and salt are a natural combo–sort of like cantaloupe and salt, so you really don’t need to worry about seasoning.

I have also had success with a beet and mint salad I often make for Thanksgiving. Beets are also awesome grated raw onto a salad; and if you are into the whole color thing, they look great when arranged beside grated raw carrots. Some grated cucumber could round things out. Just don’t drown your salad in dressing–leave it on the side.

Madhur Jaffrey has a beet & mushroom curry in her World Vegetarian. Tasty, too, though I always end up tweaking her recipes.

The C-ville Saturday market crew(s) will soon be bringing heirloom beets (once they are mature). There are many cool and tasty varieties.

More later.

Barbacoa tacos, House of Yes style

5 May, 2008

Insanely good beef tacos, and while not deliberately modeled after “barbacoa,” they came out most similar to barbacoa in the end. I took leftover oxtail meat, heated it with onion, poured in most of a can of Herdez salsa ranchera (a perennial standby for a fast meal), reduced it back to semi-dry, and served tacos with red cabbage, cilantro, raw onions, etc. on corn tortillas.

For those who are curious, the oxtail meat is insanely tasty, and has all the fat of pork shoulder, but a fantastic beef flavor. Heart-cloggingly good. Also a good way to use up leftovers after making beef stock (as was the H-o-Y pho).

Goin’ back to Cali

5 May, 2008

This will be the last trip for a long while, I imagine. Finally tidying things up at Antares. Gonna fill the P.O.D. and ship it. Gonna be a sad good-bye. I’ll take photos.

Antares has a huge prickly pear cactus plant in the front yard that I planted back in 1992. I bought a paddle at the OCC weekend “swap meet” and planted it (deciding to eat the others I had bought for dinner). The thing took off, and just grew and grew. I took cuttings and tried to plant them in Darwin, but a hard frost took them out within 3 years. Also, they never grew as sturdy out there, due to the altitude, wind, cold, and some sort of bugger that would nibble on them. No doubt I’ll take some more cuttings before this is over and plant them in various places where they will be undisturbed. When I come back, I’ll visit them. There used to be huge prickly pear outside the Santa Barbara mission, but recent photos betray that they have been removed. Stupid freakin’ white man.

We also have a huge staghorn fern (platycerium) in the yard. Based on its size, and watching it grow for over 20 years, I’d say it is easily close to, or older than, 100 years old. “Rosa” loved it, and taught me how to care for it, including feeding it banana peels. In 20 years, it has fallen off its mounting board twice. I have remounted it both times. First with Uptown, then with Timmy B just after “Eduardo” died. It cannot live in VA, nor would it survive outdoors in Darwin. I can take small growth portions that can survive indoors, but the fate of the gigantic mother plant is uncertain at the moment.

Besides obsessing over stuff (read: crap) and plants, I should probably plan a few things to do while I am out–revisit some favorite spots, take a bike ride along the beach, walk in the few undeveloped hills, swim in the ocean, explore some tide pools. Any ideas out there?

Itinerary: CA trip forthcoming. May 7 to 17.

IAD to LGB. Carpool to IAD with Ho-tep; LGB to IAD. Carpool with TFG’s mom.

Wednesday, May 7 9L30 pm to Monday, May 12 at noon: Hotel in Costa Mesa.

Monday to Thursday: Darwin visit–way out of “the O.C..

Friday night: Chaka’s place for a grill out–and it is going to be USDA prime steak–black and blue.

More later.


1 May, 2008

Pho: House-of-Yes style.

Oxtail based “brown” stock;
Oxtail meat;
Top round, sliced thin;
Rice noodles:
Usual accompaniments: holy basil, mung bean sprouts, hot peppers, lime wedges, rooster sauce, mint, scallions, tomato slices, onion half-moons.

Still a work in progress….

There a billion web and book resources on pho. I won’t pretend to be an authority. I just make it like I like it, and as is the case with homebrew, every batch is different. It takes at least two days to make good pho; some would say it takes longer. I make the broth in advance (either the day before, or it can be made in large quantities and frozen). One of these days I’ll make a huge stock batch using my 15 gallon beer brewing kettle and the outdoor propane burner!

Washington Post article on Pho.
Tigers and Strawberries blog on Pho.

Gifford Myers Whirlwind Mortgage / Storm Cellar, Too

27 April, 2008

Queries via comments, which are moderated and not published.

Sean Cheetham Portrait of Chantal Menard

27 April, 2008

Oil painting. Queries only via blog comments (which are moderated and will not be published).


27 April, 2008

Still a work in progress… but growing.

I picked up some oxtail and decided to make “brown” beef stock with it. By “brown,” I mean, I roasted the meat in a 400 degree oven for one hour before adding it to the stock pot. I imagine I used 3# oxtail, plus a couple beef short rib bones (previously roasted by cooking), plus a pork shoulder ach bone (which I did not roast). I added a couple of carrots, a couple ribs of celery, a bunch of cilantro, an onion, several white and black peppercorns, about 5 cloves, and a pinch of Chinese 5-spice (which I really do not care for). After cooking, straining, cooling, and skimming, I decided to reduce the stock. During reduction, I added a few slices of ginger. Once reduced to desired flavor, I’ll add salt.

For reference on oxtail:

Book recipes:

  • Red Wine Braise (& Chinese Themed Variant): Nigel Slater. Appetite, 364f.
  • Gallina Pinta (Oxtail, Pork, and Bean Soup): Diana Kennedy. The Cuisines of Mexico, 161f.
  • Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. River Cottage Meat Book, (x)

Web recipes:

Notes: Oxtail makes a great asian style beef stock (4# oxtail, 1 onion, 5 cloves, 4oz fresh ginger, 5 star anise, 1 cinnamon stick, 1t peppercorns (your choice). 5 quarts water (to be reduced to 3 over time).
Shred the meat and use it in a soup later. Meat can be blanched in a hard boil for 15 minutes to force out most of the scum. Rinse pot and meat and proceed with recipe.

Beer and Gasoline (Petrol) Prices.

10 April, 2008

Thanks, RudeBoy!

Christopher Smart on Cats. He was named Smart for a reason.

3 April, 2008

Excerpt from Christopher Smart’s Jubilate Agno
(yes, Latin fans, you rejoice in the dative)

For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.
For he is the servant of the Living God duly and daily serving him.
For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way.
For this is done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness.
For then he leaps up to catch the musk, which is the blessing of God upon his prayer.
For he rolls upon prank to work it in.
For having done duty and received blessing he begins to consider himself.
For this he performs in ten degrees.
For first he looks upon his forepaws to see if they are clean.
For secondly he kicks up behind to clear away there.
For thirdly he works it upon stretch with the forepaws extended.
For fourthly he sharpens his paws by wood.
For fifthly he washes himself.
For sixthly he rolls upon wash.
For seventhly he fleas himself, that he may not be interrupted upon the beat.
For eighthly he rubs himself against a post.
For ninthly he looks up for his instructions.
For tenthly he goes in quest of food.
For having consider’d God and himself he will consider his neighbour.
For if he meets another cat he will kiss her in kindness.
For when he takes his prey he plays with it to give it a chance.
For one mouse in seven escapes by his dallying.
For when his day’s work is done his business more properly begins.
For he keeps the Lord’s watch in the night against the adversary.
For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical skin and glaring eyes.
For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking about the life.
For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him.
For he is of the tribe of Tiger.
For the Cherub Cat is a term of the Angel Tiger.
For he has the subtlety and hissing of a serpent, which in goodness he suppresses.
For he will not do destruction, if he is well-fed, neither will he spit without provocation.
For he purrs in thankfulness, when God tells him he’s a good Cat.
For he is an instrument for the children to learn benevolence upon.
For every house is incomplete without him and a blessing is lacking in the spirit.
For the Lord commanded Moses concerning the cats at the departure of the Children of Israel from Egypt.
For every family had one cat at least in the bag.
For the English Cats are the best in Europe.
For he is the cleanest in the use of his forepaws of any quadruped.
For the dexterity of his defence is an instance of the love of God to him exceedingly.
For he is the quickest to his mark of any creature.
For he is tenacious of his point.
For he is a mixture of gravity and waggery.
For he knows that God is his Saviour.
For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest.
For there is nothing brisker than his life when in motion.
For he is of the Lord’s poor and so indeed is he called by benevolence perpetually–Poor Jeoffry! poor Jeoffry! the rat has bit thy throat.
For I bless the name of the Lord Jesus that Jeoffry is better.
For the divine spirit comes about his body to sustain it in complete cat.
For his tongue is exceeding pure so that it has in purity what it wants in music.
For he is docile and can learn certain things.
For he can set up with gravity which is patience upon approbation.
For he can fetch and carry, which is patience in employment.
For he can jump over a stick which is patience upon proof positive.
For he can spraggle upon waggle at the word of command.
For he can jump from an eminence into his master’s bosom.
For he can catch the cork and toss it again.
For he is hated by the hypocrite and miser.
For the former is afraid of detection.
For the latter refuses the charge.
For he camels his back to bear the first notion of business.
For he is good to think on, if a man would express himself neatly.
For he made a great figure in Egypt for his signal services.
For he killed the Ichneumon-rat very pernicious by land.
For his ears are so acute that they sting again.
For from this proceeds the passing quickness of his attention.
For by stroking of him I have found out electricity.
For I perceived God’s light about him both wax and fire.
For the Electrical fire is the spiritual substance, which God sends from heaven to sustain the bodies both of man and beast.
For God has blessed him in the variety of his movements.
For, tho he cannot fly, he is an excellent clamberer.
For his motions upon the face of the earth are more than any other quadruped.
For he can tread to all the measures upon the music.
For he can swim for life.
For he can creep.

Saranac Caramel Porter: The Worst Beer Ever.

28 March, 2008

Rant on:

The title says it all. And while the claim “Saranac Caramel Porter is the worst beer ever” is my opinion, I will also say that I have never found anyone who likes it. In fact, everyone I know who has bought it wishes that they never had.

Sorry, Saranac. I do enjoy your pale ale and IPA.

Rant off.

Seared tuna, 3-15-08.

16 March, 2008

Is this a rant?

No photos. Just a catalog of ingredients.

Tuna, fresh, marinated with….

2 cloves crushed garlic;
grated fresh ginger (similar mass to 2-cloves of garlic);
tamari sauce (or substitute soy);
mirin wine (or substitute sake or rice wine vinegar + sugar);
ground pepper;
olive oil.

leftover marinade, garlic removed;
splash more of mirin to degalze pan;
pad of butter (east meets west–try combining oyster sauce and butter sometime!).

Accompaniment: Spinach salad.

I winged the marinade ratios, but I was shooting for 1 part tamari to 2 parts mirin, then added olive oil at about 1/2 the volume of tamari. You really can’t mess this up.

Cook 1 minute per side max (I’ve gone as short as 30 seconds per side in a screaming hot cast iron skillet). You want a good sear (not a severe char) on the outside of the fish; and, of course, you want the inside raw, which is usually euphemized in the restaurant industry as “rare.” Fact is, it is raw, and only as warm inside as the ambient temp where the fish was stored prior to cooking, and that is awesome. Just let your fish warm up to room temp before you cook it. For the sauce, deglaze the pan and add the strained marinad. Bring to desired consistancy by adding more mirin (or even water).

3-26-08: Curious about a wasabi pea version of tuna served with a dipping sauce? Click here.

Burgers, 3-14-08

16 March, 2008

Burgers–rare to medium rare. Hand ground top sirloin, no seasoning save salt and pepper while cooking, about 3 burgers per pound. Ridged grill pan, screaming heat, 3 minutes per side, 5 to 8 minute covered rest. Great. Make sure meat reaches room temperature after grinding.

Other burgers:
1) 4 minutes per side in flat grill pan (turned out medium). Not that good.
2) two minutes per side in ridged pan, 8 minute rest, 2 to 3 minutes back on heat. Really good. Maybe even the way to go. Nice cross hatched grill marks.

TimmyB says more fat needed. I argue that fat will not melt with rare burgers, and that nobody likes cold fat. Next time: chuck vs. top round, or perhaps top round + added fat vs. my leaner pure top round burgers.

Requiescat in pace (lol): Dead digicam (and sustained blog hiatus).

16 March, 2008

Not that anyone cares, but…

My 3 megapixel digicam died. That was before my hiatus, thus no photos for a long while now. I’m working on changing that. Even I find my blog boring without photos.

Requiescat in Pace: Mark Leonida.

1 March, 2008

Mark Leonida, Associate Director of UVA Intramural-Recreational Sports…

…died today.

Condolences to his family.

Offline for a while.

26 February, 2008

Not that anyone cares, but…

Too much is going on right now: Homer, teaching, Antares house, other stuff.

No posts until things level out.

Best grilled cheese technique

8 February, 2008

Well, with winter setting in I am finding myself craving more and more comfort foods. And what is more comforting to the average American other than a grilled cheese sandwich, except perhaps a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of tomato soup?

On one of his DVD episodes, Alton Brown illustrates how to make a grilled cheese (faux panini style) in under four minutes. I’ve got it down to three minutes due to my range’s heat, and I have added my own variations to suit my personal tastes. Regardless of individual flair, though, the skeletal culinary structure remains the same. You will need 2 cast iron 10″ skillets, or one 10″ skillet and one 10″ comal. You can do two sandwiches at one time, perhaps three, and definately one.

Go into the kitchen and put both pans (which should be dry, otherwise they will smoke excessively) on high. While they heat, grab your bread, select and grate some decent cheese, such as some aged or sharp cheddar, or even a combo of brie and Reggiano, or some havarti or mozzarella (if you make grilled cheese with American cheese, well, whatever, and what the heck are you doing on this site, anyway?), pick out some mustard from the fridge and spread a thin coat over one slice of bread with it. Put the cheese onto the other piece. Here is where I go for my own flair. I grind some fresh black pepper over the cheese, I splooge some Rooster sauce (Vietnamese chilli sauce) over the mustard, and lightly butter both sides of the bread. It is not uncommon for me to throw some diced onion or gherkins into the mix, but it depends on my mood. The butter is necessary to prevent the pans from sticking to the bread. Alton Brown uses a spritz of olive oil on the contact surfaces of the pans, but I find I prefer butter spread on the bread better.

OK, your pans are hot and smoking. Your sandwich is assembled. Turn off the heat (and if you have an electric range, move your pans to a different (cool) burner or the counter (use a trivet!). Put the sandwich on one pan, and put the second pan on top of the sandwich to replicate a panini press. Set a timer somewhere (though you won’t need it other than to confirm that I am right). It might take two, or it might take three minutes, but when you hear the melted cheese hit the pan with a sizzle, the cheese is fully melted, and the hot surfaces will have browned the bread by now. It’s ready to eat.

The only downside to this technique is that you end up with a pressed sandwich (you could even use a ridged grill pan to create grill lines on one side. Sometimes, I do not wish to put my bread under the duress of weight. When that is the case, I opt for the heat and flip technique. But if I want a mindless, foolproof sandwich in under 4 minutes, I use two cast iron pans.

Protected: I do not want what I have not got

7 February, 2008

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Airline karma

6 February, 2008

Rant, and not that anyone cares, but:

Well, most of you know I have been on a trip out west to shut down “the estate.” I have returned from this trip with my faith in family and fairness restored, regardless of how things ultimately turn out. I do, however, have a couple of things to share regarding my air travel. By luck of the draw, I had emergency exit seats from CHO to IAD, from IAD to Denver, and from Denver to SNA. Total travel time from CHO to SNA was 12 hours, plus rental car time. On my return trip, from SNA to SFO and from SFO to IAD, I had 3 seats to myself, which meant I could lie down and sleep on the flights, which I did, and I hope I snored loudly to pay back the Italian brats who kept waking me up by tickling my feet and the screaming baby in the row ahead of me. All in all, it was a good flight. I highly recommend bringing shotgun ear muffs and a hat that covers your eyes on all flights.

I never would have thought that the last leg of my flight, which is a mere two hour drive by car, would have been canceled. As a result, I missed my class, pissed off my girlfriend, who was in the area but could not pick me up, and brought a rain of bad luck to her family for twenty-four hours. Still, I am back safe and sound, and nobody got hurt. We also enjoyed a great bottle of wine.

In the future, I will drive to RIC or IAD and leave my car there. I will be able to take direct, non-stop flights, and I will not be stymied by last second flight cancellations. Better to take a car and put it in long term storage than suffer layover after layover for the sake of flying out of the small and seemingly-convenient CHO, which has it own charm–it is small and has free wireless, and you can show up 30 minutes before your flight and still get on it. But the fact is this: CHO to IAD: 2 hour layover; IAD to Denver: 2.5 hour layover. Same on the way back. SNA to SFO: 2 hour layover; SFO to IAD: 1.5 hour layover with canceled flight and consequences. Next time I will drive to the airport and book a nonstop flight. My commute time will be cut from 12 hours to 7 hours.

Rant over.

Requiescat in Pace: Sheldon Brown.

3 February, 2008

Sheldon Brown, bicycle guru and inimitable legend…

…died today.

Thanks, Sheldon, for offering your time and advice to me over the last 10 years. Empathy to the Brown family and Sheldon’s close friends.

State of the Union, 2008.

28 January, 2008


If you believe 2008 will see prosperity and “growing” our economy, you don’t know dirka.

Rant over.

More stock, 1-08.

15 January, 2008

More stock. This one will be dubbed “lamb stock,” due to the fact that it has two lamb leg bones in it, and the flavor of lamb can be quite assertive.

2 lamb leg bones
1 pork shoulder bone
1 cooked turkey leg quarter (from the November holiday)
random chicken bones (saved in freezer for later use)
shrimp hulls (again, saved in freezer)
6 leaves romaine lettuce (on their last legs)
4 white mushrooms (beginning to open)
1 white potato (sprouting in at least three places)
1 1/2 white onions, roughly chopped
green parts of 6 scallions, wilting
4ribs celery
4 cloves crushed garlic
salt, pepper, etc. Go easy on spices beside these two. Others can be added later.

Boil bones for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse, return to pot, bring to near boil and place into 180 degree oven for 4-8 hours. Strain.

Once you have made 5 batches of any stock of any kind, you will not need any guidance, unless you are making pho, which will require only beef bones and some aromatics, like cinnamon and star anise. Be aware that the following add really strong flavors, so be prepared if you use them: lamb, cabbage family (bok choy, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.). Best not to use for a neutral stock, unless you are willing to experiment. Better to make a mild stock and spice it up as needed. Or make a “cabbage family” stock and experiment.

Beef is not a euphemism for cow

14 January, 2008


An aspiring vegan recently claimed that “beef” is a euphemism for cow–suspecting some sort of linguistic camouflague concealing the fact, and assuaging our consciences that, we are consuming an animal. This is a patently false claim, one that I hear often, and perhaps one I even made during my 11 year stint as a vegetarian.

The false argument:

  • Beef euphemizes cooked cow;
  • Pork euphemizes cooked pig;
  • Venison euphamizes cooked deer

Other culinary lingo blatantly contradicts the claim:

  • Rabbit = cooked rabbit;
  • Chicken = cooked chicken;
  • Turkey = cooked turkey;
  • Fish = cooked fish (sushi is simply a borrowed loan word–like tofu–not a euphemism);
  • Liver = cooked liver (usually preceded by the type–chicken… or calves… or pork…;
  • Brains = cooked brains

Still, there are true culinary euphemisms:

  • Fries (or “Rocky Mountain oysters”) = cooked testicles
  • Sweetbreads = cooked thymus gland (the first use occurs in the mid-16th century)
  • Pluck = (Scottish) that which is first “plucked” out of a sheep upon slaughter, which is the liver, heart, lungs, heart, etc.–the traditional mammalian ingredients for hagus.

Dudes,… English has a huge linguistic, technical, and culinary vocabulary, influenced by many factors, not the least of which are economic/culinary class societies (English nobility = Francophile eaters and adopters of French culinary terms), the Norman invasion, the industrial revolution, and many other events that have created a language with the largest vocabublary and nuance on the planet.

Rant over.

Protected: Should I be concerned about that sound?

14 January, 2008

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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.”

Gigandes mezze Jan-08

5 January, 2008

Click here or on the thumb for a photoset.


 No plans to provide a recipe for this one. It’s pretty self explanatory. Gigandes were cooked for 15 minutes in a pressure cooker and finished off on the stove.

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.