Tuesday, January 28, 2014

CaJohn's Execution Station

We went to Zestfest 2014 Sunday to experience the hottest Chiles in the World. There were a number of really hot Chile sauce vendors there this year. The vendors that were the most memorable are also the ones that had the hottest sauce. Grinders had their four sauces Whimpy, Molten, Near Death, and Death Nectar. The last one, Death Nectar was over the top for me at 377,000 Scovilles. I had to go sit down and recover. The one that really put the burn on me was CaJohn's Execution Station.   It started at 375,000 Scovilles and went to 6.1 Million Scovilles.
CaJohn's Execution Station was designed to understand the Chiles they use in their sauce.  Each stage of the Execution Station had a Chile Puree starting with Red Savina Habanero (375,000 Scovilles), Fatali (425,000 Scovilles), Chocolate Habanero (600,00 Scovilles), Yellow Morunga (800,000 Scovilles), Trinidad Morunga Scorpion (1.2 Million Scovilles), Carolina Reaper (1.6 Million Scovilles), and ended with their Black Mamba Sauce (6.1 Million Scovilles).  Between each stage we had to wait to let each Chile kick in.  Also there is no food allowed to dilute the sauces.  The whole challenge lasted 10 minutes, excruciating.
This was by far the hottest challenge there was this year at Zestfest.  After it was over I made a B Line to the concessions booth and got a large Dr. Pepper, and ate a whole bunch of plain Tortilla Chips.  It took a while to recover from CaJohn's Execution Station.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Southwestern Cabbage Rolls

I've had Stuffed Cabbage on my mind for a while now, and have been looking for a way to make it my own.  I had a need to make something unique, with my Southwestern flair, and always have superior nutrition in mind.  So I hatched a plan to make something akin to Enchiladas, but with Cabbage as the wrapper instead of Tortillas.  It has to have the Southwestern flavors like Red/Green Chile, Masa, Cumin, and Garlic.
It's Sunday, so there has to be that fancy Sunday Dinner feel also.  This dish took three hours to cook, so, yeah, it does have that Big Sunday Dinner feel to me, the cook, but also has extraordinary deliciousness that comes from the carefully thought out and prepared food.  This is probably close to Holiday food, although my family would never touch something like this.
A big head of green Cabbage is the focal point here.  Probably my favorite vegetable right now.  I've been eating some form of cabbage every day.  When the Cabbage is raw it is rather crispy, and tends to break when you try and roll it.  So, there is a need to make it mode pliable, so we'll steam it.  We'll remove the core of the cabbage, not just to facilitate the steaming process, but also so it fits in the steamer.
There is a stem in the middle of the steamer basket which I have to work around.  Also the Cabbage has to fit into the steamer, so I needed to trim the bottom of the Cabbage so that it would actually fit into the steamer.  This helps the peeling process later by detaching the bottom of the Cabbage leaves from the stem.
We'll let the Cabbage steam for several minutes to loosen the outer leaves.  As the leaves become pliable we'll peel them off, and let the inner leaves steam a little more.  As this process goes on I'm going to peel off all of the outer leaves until we get to the part of the Cabbage where the leaves start to interlock.  This yielded around ten large leaves which are suitable for stuffing.  The remainder of the core I save for another dish.
While I am waiting for the Cabbage to steam, I'll begin prepping the stuff for the filling.  I'm going to use half of a sharp white Onion, diced, a whole head of Garlic, diced, and two mild Anaheim Chiles, large diced.  I'll removed the Calyx, Seeds, and Membranes from the Chiles.
Now the Cabbage leaves are prepared, and I'm ready to start preparing the filling for the Cabbage Rolls.  I'm going to let the skillet heat up a while first so the cooking starts when I add the food to the pan.
The first thing to hit the pan is a pound of 73/27 ground Beef.  I am using a higher fat content ground Beef on purpose, for flavor.  Also this is a Sunday Dinner, it needs to be hearty, and satisfying, justifying the higher fat content.  The fat helps distribute the Chile flavor, and we will add some other components to the filling to contain the fat so the end product is not greasy.  Fat is actually something you need, and not bad for you.
As the Beef is browning I'll add the vegetative components so that the flavors of the Onion, Garlic, and Chile get infused into the Beef.  Salt the Beef during the browning process with Sea Salt.  The seasoning is where the flavor is, and Salt is the only seasoning, anything else is flavoring.
I add small amounts of Masa to the mixture as it is cooking to soak up the Fat, and the Water produced by the vegetables.  This produces a Maise Roux which thickens the mixture.  It also adds that Southwestern flavor.  We want to capture the Fat, and the Vegetable Water for nutritional purposes, all great stuff.
When the Beef is mostly browned we'll add additional flavoring.  Freshly cracked Black Pepper, Red Chile Flakes, Cumin, and more Sea Salt will bring this filling to the Apex of Southwestern Nomlishousness...
Then at the end of the filling preparation I am going to add the Stuffing part, a half cup of Black Rice, and a half cup of White Rice.  This is the filler part which puffs up our stuffing for the Cabbage Rolls.  You want the stuffing to have substance, and the Rice component adds some actual nutrition, unlike white bread.
Now we have the wrappers, and the stuffing finished, and we are going to move on to work on the Sauce.  Most Stuffed Cabbage has a plain Tomato Sauce to top it,, but here we are going to make a Southwestern Sauce to kick these Southwestern Cabbage Rolls up to the status of Sunday Dinner.
I always start my Tomato Sauces with a can of Whole Tomatoes, and Sea Salt.  This time I am adding Garlic Powder, Red Chile Flakes, Cumin, and a whole Jalapeno.  I'll put all these ingredients in the food processor and process them until I get a smooth mixture.
The Cumin makes it Southwestern more that anything, and I find that I really love the mixture of Red and Green Chile in a sauce.  The Sauce is going to to help meld all the flavors into something unique.
Transfer the Southwestern Sauce to a bowl, and then add a can on Tomato sauce to it, because we need the volume of sauce.  We are filling a 13x9 Casserole with the Southwestern Cabbage Rolls, and we are going to need lots of sauce.  The Tomato sauce will dilute the Southwestern Sauce a little, but it's OK, cooking will concentrate the flavors.
OK, now we are ready to assemble the Southwestern Cabbage Rolls.  I'm going to setup a station where everything is in close proximity for easy access.  I am going to cover the bottom of the Casserole dish with the Southwestern sauce.  Then stage a Cabbage leaf for the filling.
Add a couple of tablespoons of the filling to the bottom of the Cabbage leaf, and spoon in a little of the Southwestern sauce.  Roll the bottom of the Cabbage leaf over the filling, fold in the sides, and then finish rolling the Cabbage leaf.  This is very much like rolling Egg Rolls, or Burritos, just make a nice little package for the stuffing, and continue until the Casserole dish is filled with Nomlishous Cabbage Rolls.
I've probably used about half of the Southwestern Sauce filling the Cabbage Rolls.  You can see the Casserole dish is fully occupied.  Now we'll add the rest of the Southwestern Sauce to cover the Cabbage Rolls.  We want the sauce to go at the Cabbage rolls from all sides, first to keep the Cabbage hydrated in the oven, and also to infuse the Cabbage with the Nomlishous Southwestern Sauce.
Next we are going to place the Southwestern Cabbage Rolls in a slow oven (350F) for about 30 minutes, just to reheat everything.  All the components are already cooked, so there is no need to cook them again.  We just need to reheat them a while, and allow the flavors to meld together.
After cooking you can see he mixture has dehydrated a bit.  The Southwestern Sauce has permeated the Cabbage Rolls, and made them totally nomlishous.  Now that I am done with the cooking I can watch the last two minutes of the Championship Game, LOL!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Haystack Enchiladas

Here is another way to prepare Enchiladas.  This is Mex-Italian Fusion, sort of.  Rather than rolling the Enchiladas we are going to stack them up like Lasagne.  I'm using my Chile con Carne, a mild Cheddar Cheeze, Mayan Sweet Onions (diced), and White Maise Tortillas.
Its a stacker process.  Tortilla, Chile con Carne, Onion, Cheeze, and repeat.  The pan I am using there is a Fajita Comal, oiled with some Olive Oil.  This recipe is scalable, so you can make one portion, like here, or get a 13x9 Casserole, and make an entire Mexican Lasagne.  Also, the toppings are free form, so add whatever you like, Jalapenos come to mind, or Olives, Whatevarz...  Then to the meltification machine...
That'll bake for around 10 minutes at 425 degrees F, and I'll make the Ensalada in the meantime...
The Ensalada is thinly sliced green Cabbage with Cilantro.  Then I'll use Olive Oil and Lemon juice to dress it.  The chopped Tomatoes are the garnish at the end of the assembly process.
The Haystack Enchiladas are done meltifying, and I'll add a side of Salsa, and the Yogurt Ranch dressing.
Then add the Ensalada, and the garnish, and BAM!  Mui Delicioso Nom Noms...

Winter Garden

The garden is mostly bare at the moment.  There is some lettuce, and herbs left from last year, but the recent Ice Storm has taken out every thing else, except the typical Winter weeds.  So, its time to start the spring vegetables.  The recent rain has made the soil pretty soggy, and this is good for starting seeds.
Winter vegetables that will do well in late Winter, early spring are the Cruciferous Vegetables such as Cabbage, Broccoli, Kale, Carrots, Radishes, and oily herbs like Cilantro, and Parsley.
I'm not going to Till the garden at this point.  Rather I am going to rough up the soil with the Action Hoe, and pull out the weeds, then sprinkle the seed on the ground, and then smooth the soil out with the Hard Rake.
It doesn't look like I have done much here, but in a few weeks there will be sprouts amongous.  I overseeded the area, and when it comes time to thin out the growing space I will have lots of microgreens...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Kimchi Cheezeburger

I didn't know this already existed, and was thinking that it was something new.  In hindsight, searching teh interwebs, I found that the Kimchi Burger is quite popular already.  So here is my version of the Kimchi Burger with my homemade Kimchi.
I'm going to start with a pound of 80/20 ground chuck, season it with Sea Salt and Pepper, then mix, and divide it into half pound rectangular patties.  The rolls I bought are sandwich rolls and not hamburger buns.
Then once the patties are formed I'll season them again with Tony Chachere's season salt, and pepper.  I recently got an adapter hose for the Baby Q so that I can hook up a 20 pound LPG tank, and I have seemingly unlimited cooking time now.  Before I was using one pound bottles, and I found they run out at the worst time possible, like right in the middle of cooking.
Now I don't have to worry about the gas running out in the middle of searing the Beefz.  The Baby Q lights fast, heats up fast, cooks fast, and when I am done I can just turn it off, and don't have to wait for the fire to die.  Plus it can hit really high temperatures to make those beautiful sear marks on the Beefz.
Prior to putting the Beefz on the grill I had put some french fries in the oven, and am using a griddle to toast the rolls.  I had cut the roll in half, lengthwise, buttered them, and place them cut side down on the griddle.
A couple minutes before the Burgers are done I add a couple slices of Cheddar Cheeze.
Now for the assembly process.
I picked spicy brown Mustard, and Yogurt Ranch for the spread on the roll.
The burger goes on the Mustard side, and the Kimchi will go on the Yogurt Ranch side.
The new batch of Kimchi is milder, and more flavorful than the previous two.  Altogether this is really good.

Friday, January 3, 2014