Archive for the 'Recipes' Category

30 Pounds of Brats? No Problem

How Do You Turn This…

All you need on a desert island

All you need on a desert island

Into This…

Sweet Love

Sweet Love

Simple.  It’s all explained in this great video:

Vodpod videos no longer available.Bratwurst with Theo Peck | Working Class Foodies

It’s October, the leaves are starting to change, the temperature is getting cooler, and you are starting to think about two things: beer & bratwurst. At least that’s what I am thinking about. So I figured that it was no coincidence that in the past month I was asked twice to make brats. What exactly are brats? Let’s consult the experts on everything- Wikipedia. Actually, I just read the definition on Wikipedia and it made no sense.  I hope a true bratwurst historian has some time to clean that up. Anyway, my definition is much more concise. A bratwurst is a sausage that usually has not only pork and fat back, but also veal. In addition, it is emulsified with more fat (cream and eggs) and heavily seasoned with ginger, nutmeg, and white pepper.

We, the American people, believe that no Oktoberfest would be complete without the Bratwurst so why should you?  I am here to tell you is that making sausage is easy. It might take a little more time, but I believe it is worth it. Why? Well, have you ever noticed that almost every sausage you get at the store tastes the same. That is because they are all the same. The difference with my Brats is grinding the nutmeg and dried ginger with a microplane just before using them. It enhances the spices, creating a well seasoned piece of cheap meat.

My first brat experience this month occurred when the good people over at Working Class Foodies, Rebecca and Max (who are award winning contestants at my Food Experiments) asked me to help out on their web tv show. They wanted to do an episode on making bratwurst.  Little did they know I was a professional. It was a great experience that I do not need to write about because the video does such a good job. Check out some of their other videos at hungrynation.tv.

My second brat-portunity came when the Bell House asked me to cater their awesome Octoburlesk party. What better to add to semi naked ladies and a polka band then a grill filled with homemade brats?  I will be up front with you. I did not realize how difficult it would be to make 30 pounds of brats in my tiny kitchen. It was a long and arduous. Two full days went into the prep. My hand went numb after trimming 30 pounds of pork butt and 10 pounds of fat back. I had Nick Suarez come over and help.  Sadly, all he got to do was grind a shit load of spices.

So here’s how to get from a whole lotta meat to a whole lotta brats:

1. Cut the meat

Pork Butt Whole

Pork Butt Whole

2. Do not forget to find the glands and cut them out.

Garbage

Garbage

3. Dice and Grind

Dice, Spice, & Grind

Dice, Spice, & Grind

4. Emulsify with Cream and Eggs

Beat the Meat

Beat the Meat

5. Stuff, Stuff, and Stuff…This is 30 pounds people, this takes a while

Keep on Stuffin'

Keep on Stuffin'

Now we tie them, poach them in beer, and get them to the damn Bell House. Oops, I almost forgot. I must make a ton of curry aioli. I was thinking of the curry wurst idea, but I hate ketchup on my sausages, and so should you. So, instead I made the aioli, and it was frickin’ delicious. I made it spicy with roasted curry powder, turmeric, cumin, and a ton of raw and poached garlic. I wish I had pictures of it’s neon yellow deliciousness…

I had no idea what to expect at Octobulesk. Anywhere between 100 and 200 people were expected. That is a large gap. Plus, did people really want to eat my brats? Who was I? I was very worried on my way to the event trying to decide where I was going to keep all the extra brats. I kept imagining my vegetarian girlfriend looking in the freezer and seeing all her green peas and veggie burgers displaced, made refugees by my 30 pound tribe of brats.

I get to the Bell House and I see Nick’s friendly face. He didn’t seemed worried. Why should he? There was no spice grinder in sight. Super friendly GM William was nowhere to be seen. I was confused until I realized that he was putting on the super good looking lederhosen.  Yet, somehow, when you combine October, Beer, and Brats, shorts with suspender don’t look so bad.  Will wasn’t the only one…there was a polka band:

Fashion?

Fashion?

I started to relax once the sweet girlfriend arrived sporting the cute German girl braids.  I find those braids so cute, why? I do not really like Germans, being jewish and all….

Nick and I calmly set up shop expecting a long night of slow grilling. We got our tongs and game faces together.

Ready

Ready, set, grill

This is the last time we were still for the next hour and half. The crowd that lingered before we were ready turned into a deluge… I was beside myself with joy, everything was moving so fast. All I had time to do was look down and make brats “all the way” which means with curry aioli, sweet onion, and kraut. Thank god the reliable Nate came by to say hi. You might remember him from the Underground Restaurant.  Well, Nate just put on a pair of rubber gloves and jumped right in, no questions asked. So Nick maned the grill, I took orders and transferred from grill to bun, Nate dressed them up, and girlfriend took the money (her specialty). She did not let one person pass unpaid for, she is tough for a veggie.

just getting started

just getting started

and going, and going, and going

and going

lining up for brats

We started with 125 brats, and 156 buns. I brought a spare pork belly, originally to share with the GM. I had invited him to the house last week and we had to cancel at the last minute. I felt terrible so I brought the belly for him to eat. It was a great idea, but for a different reason.  We ended up selling all the pork belly as well.  Sorry Will.

I was super excited that we sold out within an hour and fifteen minutes, but I felt like shit because there were people still on line. I never expected this outcome. The nicest thing I saw was the customers upfront ordering less so the ones left on line could still have some.  There’s nothing more heartwarming than a crowd of sympathetic sausage lovers.

Advertisements

So You Want to Make Pasta Like TK

When I was working in Maine, I was quite lucky. With the exception that I was living with a giant bi…wow, let’s not go there…I will tell you that I miss the dog. She was a bitch too, but in a good way. Shoot, I knew I would let it slip.

She was my diva dog

She was my diva dog

Anyway, this post is about pasta. I was working at Hugo’s – a great restaurant run by a former sous-chef of Thomas Keller, Rob Evans. He was a very cool guy and a fantastic chef. I think he should have opened a place in New York, he would just kill it. Frankly, I still think he should. Unlike a lot of people I see opening restaurants, he earned his stripes. Well, one of my jobs everyday was to make the pasta, the way TK would make it. That means – NO KITCHEN AID – you dig!! We knead the pasta by hand. You knead the pasta everyday for 30 minutes. You dig. I really do miss the dog.

As you might recall (if you are one of the five people who read this blog), I had an abundance of egg yolks from the white cake I made for my niece. I could think of only one thing I could make with an extra 12 egg yolks –  TK’s pasta. It is absolutely the best pasta you will ever make. It is rich, tender, and has just enough of a bite.  It starts off really wet and slightly hard to control, that is why I usually recommend preparing it on a metal surface. Plus, if you use a metal surface, you will end up using less flour.  The recipe says 2 1/2 cups…but it should be closer to 2 cups.

So, start it like you would any pasta.  Make a well with the flour and add the wet ingredients to the center.  You should use a bench scrapper and a fork to help you mix the ingredients into a controllable ball. The surface of the ball will be rough.

That is a mix of the yolks, eggs, milk, and oil

That is a mix of the yolks, eggs, milk, and oil

Look how the ball is rough, it just came together

Look how the ball is rough, it just came together

When you knead, make sure you are using the bottom of your palm and pushing hard into the counter and folding the dough over onto itself. And now you knead, and knead, and knead..until it is smooth.  Think 30 minutes.  I do not want to seem like a chauvinist ass, but they used to tell me, “When it feels like a woman’s breast, it’s ready.” I hate to tell you what they said when I made banana foster.  If you do not know what a breast feels like, then push your thumb into the ball and when it slowly regains its shape, it is ready….

Ready!!!

It looks so good when its so smooth

Looks smooth

Looks smooth

Now, dust with flour, wrap it tight in saran, refrigerate, and let it rest…at least 1 hour…

I was bringing it to my girlfriends, and I didn't have a pasta roller. If you are going to use a rolling pin, remember you will be working hard....  remember to clean the kitchen counter of cat hair when at you girlfriends house

I was bringing it to my girlfriends, and I didn't have a pasta roller. If you are going to use a rolling pin, remember you will be working hard.... remember to clean the kitchen counter of cat hair when at your girlfriends house

Not as thin as I would like it

Not as thin as I would like it

the final product

the final product

TK Pasta

2 – 2 1/2 cups   flour

12     Egg yolks

2       Whole eggs

2T     Milk

1T      Olive Oil

1/2T  Salt

If you have any questions, just leave me a comment and I will get back to you…

Have a nice day..



I want a Strawberry Penguin Cake

Proof of my Love

Proof of my Love

I want to be the coolest Uncle. I want people to confess to my niece and nephew: I wish my Uncle was that cool…I wish my dad was that cool.  Mom you should marry L’s uncle, he’s the coolest.  I think my niece and nephew are the coolest ever, I am always comparing them to my girlfriend’s nieces.  I’m always trying to get her to admit that my family’s children are better than hers. I believe this annoys her and yet I can’t stop. Apparently, I am the one with issues.

Anyway, I love my niece and nephew. Let me say that again, I love my niece and my nephew.  I need to remind myself sometimes why I do what I do.

About six months ago my niece, who was 2 1/2 at the time, became convinced that I was on this earth solely to provide for her a ‘Strawberry Penguin Cake’ and a ‘Purple Dinosaur Cake’. I have no idea where this came from or how she even thought of the combination. We do cook a lot together but it is mostly cookies or brownies, and it really is just an excuse to smush butter and sugar in her fingers and mouth.

The pressure to perform this cake task started to mount, for months each time I saw her: when am I getting my strawberry penguin cake? I guess when I made her brother a sitting up teddy bear cake, I was setting expectations pretty high.

My two questions were:

1. How to make it taste like strawberry without it being disgustingly sweet or taste artificial.

2. How to make it look like a penguin without using a cake mold.

First, how to add the flavor: I wanted this cake to be all natural and only use natural products.  This cake is for my niece and her classmates – have you ever looked on the side of a Duncan Hines box? No fucking thank you.  Take your preservatives and shove it. I started with a traditional white cake recipe from Baking Illustrated, my trusted baking book. I suck at baking so I need the tested quality of Illustrated, but I still do not read all they say about the recipes…just give me the recipe!

Layer numero uno

I figured two large sheet cakes would give me the most space to make my design.  I was excited after I made the cakes because it left me with a dozen unused egg yolks.  With such a rare bounty, a couple of days later I made myself homemade pasta from a recipe I learned when I cooked with a Keller disciple.  I will give that recipe out in an upcoming post. Back to strawberry – I made a quick jam from some organic frozen whole strawberries.

lemon cuts the sweetness and brings out the strawberry flavor

lemon cuts the sweetness and brings out the strawberry flavor

Between the cake layers, I first spread the jam, then I added some jam to some fresh whipped cream. On top of that, I put a thick layer of dried strawberries and crushed strawberry  powder. Together, the filling was a strawberry intense without being sweet. Once I had assembled the cake layers and filling, I was ready to shape. This is where the girlfriend comes in handy.

Strawberry Powder

I downloaded a couple of stencils of penguins from the internet. Who knew that there where so many online? Also, if you search stencils on the internet, you get a bunch of pictures of really good street art from Bansky.  So, I had girlfriend trace stencil onto parchment paper and then layered that over the cake to get the shape. It was easier than I thought it would be. I realize I did go the easy route and made it a lying down bird, but can you blame me. A stand up cake is hard work, plus my audience was a bunch of three year olds.

As a final touch, I made pink and white butter cream frosting. I couldn’t help myself, I added a strawberry wing…

I am so proud..no joke

Chili Paste – You’ve Got to Make Your Own…

I feel strongly about this, because I learned the lesson myself. I never did much research into chili paste before, and was shocked at how easy it is to make. And really folks, you can use it for other stuff rather than chili. Think of it as ingredient to have on hand in the pantry(in the refrigerator or freezer). It can be added to sauces, soups, dips, your bath tub…it will add a rich / bitter element to anything. You do not have to make it exactly as I do, feel free to change the spice profile. Take it in a direction that will suit your pallet…

I wish I had a photo, but that will come as I learn how to blog…

Simply put:

  1. Rehydrate a variety of dried chili peppers (ancho, pasella negro, etc)  in boiling water for at least 30 min up to 4 hours
  2. Put some peeled garlic in a small bowl and cover with boiling water
  3. Remove the stems and seeds from the peppers and place in a blender with the garlic.
  4. Reserve the pepper liquid to make the paste
  5. Add spices to the blender, cumin, cinnamon, vanilla, ginger, Mexican oregano, etc
  6. Add a little pepper liquid to get the blender moving, and puree.
  7. Keep adding liquid and blend until you get the desired consistency

That is it. The next time I make it I will update this post and make it somewhat more relevant and interesting…


Archives

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 16 other followers

Connect

flickr
facebook
rss
twitter