Month: November 2010

Tapenade

Tapenade is Provence in an easily portable form. Take all the great Provencal ingredients: olives, basil, lemon, capers, anchovies, and grind them into a paste. Voila! Tapenade! In Provence, it is a universal topping. It is at its best spread on slices of french bread. You could toast the bread (over an open fire) if you really wanted to gild the lily. Goat cheese is a natural accompaniment. Tapenade is also a great topping for pork, chicken, and especially lamb. Lamb and tapenade is a match made in heaven. And now, my personal re-enactment of Field of Dreams…  Is this heaven? No, It’s Provence. Provence? When I saw the tapenade, I could have sworn this was heaven. Now this is not fancy French cuisine. It is not served in four star white tablecloth restaurants by hovering waiters. This is a recipe from the home, best served as a bite before dinner. It will help fill the stomach while sipping on an ice cold, bone dry Rose, or a chewy Cote Du Rhone. In other words, …

Things I love: Food Processor

I own my fair share of cooking gadgets – slow cookers, pressure cookers, garlic presses, Asian mandolines. There are only a handful of cooking tools that I keep out on the counter, so I can get at them right away: Knife block and wooden cutting board 12 inch stainless fry pan, 4.5 quart nonstick sauce pan, 2 quart sauce pan Can opener Utensil jar: tongs, spoons, spatulas, whisks Salt cellar and pepper mill and, today’s topic, my food processor. I believe knife skills are critical for cooking. I use my knife more than all my other cooking tools combined. But…there are some recipes that I can’t imagine making without a food processor. In my kitchen, the food processor always does these three tasks: 1. Purees and finely chopped mixes: I use my food processor for anything involving a puree. Gazpacho, hummus, salsa, refried beans, marinades; they all come out of my food processor.Especially my quick red salsa.  I make that recipe twice a month, if not more often. When the end goal is somewhere between …

Giving Thanks

I’d like to thank: My loving wife, Diane, who puts up with the time I spend on this blog. My wonderful kids, Ben, Natalie and Tim, who put up with the all the recipes I make. My family and friends, who don’t run screaming from the room when I start talking about food. My loyal readers; your interest, questions, comments, and suggestions are what make this blog fun. Happy Thanksgiving! And, if you are particularly thankful this year, consider making a donation to a worthy cause:

Turkey Soup with Chickpeas and Vegetables

The second best part of Thanksgiving is making soup from the leftovers. *The best part? Sitting at the table, surrounded by friends and family, while gnawing on a turkey leg from a grill-smoked turkey. Every year, I make a big pot or two of turkey stock with the carcasses from my birds. I use that stock to make one old fashioned batch of turkey noodle soup, then I use my stock to go on a world tour. *You are making turkey stock from your carcass this year, aren’t you? This year, I was aiming for an Italian style soup, with pancetta and greens. I wound up farther south on the Italian boot that I thought.  I was aiming for Tuscany.  I probably wound up in Sicily, because my freezer was missing some key ingredients! Prosciutto replaced the pancetta, chickpeas replaced the white beans, and baby spinach became the green. Even though I wound up improvising, the results were worth it. The smoky turkey stock, made from grilled birds, was the perfect broth for the shredded …

Dad Cooks Thanksgiving Dinner 2010

I spent last week showing you what I’m doing with my Turkey on the big day:Grill your Thanksgiving Turkey!Video: How to Truss and Spit a Turkey for the RotisserieRotisserie Turkey, Dry Brined with Orange and Spices To warm everyone up for the high holy day of American food, I want to share some Thanksgiving posts that have inspired me. Kenji Alt – Deep Fried Whole Buffalo Turkey [SeriousEats.com]*I have a deeply held belief. Grilled turkey is far superior to deep fried turkey.  But…oh, my.  Deep Fried Whole Buffalo Turkey is madness.  Or genius.  Or is doing backflips on the line between madness and genius.**Kenji’s entire Food Lab Thanksgiving Special series has been great.  If you are looking for basic recipes, this is a good place to start. Harold McGee – Ten Thanksgiving Tips [SeriousEats.com]*The Original Food Scientist gives advice for cooking Thanksgiving dinner. He used to use an ace bandage to strap ice packs on the breast of his turkey, to make sure it didn’t overcook.  Too bad this grossed his family out… Sharon Anderson – Stuffed! …

Rotisserie Turkey, Dry Brined with Orange and Spices

This Thanksgiving, I’m using all the finesse techniques I’ve learned to cook my Turkey. Here’s what I’m going to do. My first trick is to dry brine the turkey. For years, my gold standard for turkey brines was the apple cider brine from Weber’s Art of the Grill by Jamie Purviance. I am a complete convert to dry brines now, and I wanted to come up with a dry brine that uses the same flavor profile. I have most of the major ingredients from the Weber brine in my dry rub – salt, a little brown sugar, orange zest, ginger, garlic, and cloves. When combined with a chunk of smoking wood in the grill, you get layers of flavor in the bird – sweet, smoky and salty, with an interesting mix of fruit and spices. This is a turkey that doesn’t need gravy to be edible. *You’ll see some bay leaves in the pictures of the dry brine. Ignore them. They’re not really there. These are not the bay leaves you’re looking for. (Waves hand in …

Winter Market in Cuyahoga Valley 2010-2011

The Countryside Farmers Market in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park has switched to their winter schedule, starting this weekend.  Time to stock up on local produce for Thanksgiving! The market will be held at Old Trail School this year, right next to their usual Howe Meadow site.  The market will be open on Saturday mornings, from 9AM to Noon. *If you don’t live in Northeastern Ohio, make sure to find your own local farmers market.  Yes, they usually run through the winter! The schedule is: November 20 December 11 December 18 January 22 February 5 February 19 March 12 March 26 April 9 April 23 Here’s the address: Countryside Farmers’ Market at Old Trail School 2315 Ira Road Akron, OH 44333 (330) 666-1118 More information is available at their website: Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy View Larger Map Related posts: My list of Ethnic and Gourmet stores near Akron, Ohio. *Enjoyed this post?  Want to help out DadCooksDinner?  Subscribe using your RSS reader or by Email, recommend DadCooksDinner to your friends, or buy something from Amazon.com through the …

How to Truss and Spit a Turkey for the Rotisserie

It hit me when I was reading my old Rotisserie Poultry Basic Technique post. I link to two different methods for trussing poultry in that post, but I don’t use either of them.  With Thanksgiving coming up, I decided to share my trussing technique. Besides, how can you do the rotisserie turkey recipe I’ll be posting tomorrow if you don’t know how to truss your turkey? Now, this is how I truss all different types of poultry.  I use this technique on turkey, chicken, duck, and cornish game hens.  They all have the same layout – wings, drumsticks, breast and backbone – but it is easier to show with a turkey because of the large scale. What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below. Related Posts: Rotisserie Poultry Basic Technique Simple Rotisserie Turkey Rotisserie Turkey, Dry Brined with Orange and Spices (Coming Thursday) Click here for my other rotisserie recipes. Check out my cookbook, Rotisserie Grilling.Everything you could ask about the rotisserie, plus 50 (mostly) new recipes to get you …

Grill your Thanksgiving Turkey!

Every year, I grill my Thanksgiving turkey. This year I’ll be grilling two of them. Rotisserie grilling, of course – the picture is from the recipe coming later this week. Family and friends watch me out in the cold, wrestling with a 12 pound bird, while they sit inside watching the football game. Someone always asks – why do you do this? Why grill your turkey? Why not cook it in the oven? With an implied “like normal people do.” Well, I’m here to tell ya… Top Five Reasons to grill the Thanksgiving turkey: 1. Taste: Why grill anything at all? Because it just tastes better. And, I hate to say it, but Turkey needs the help, particularly turkey breast. Turkey is very lean, which means…bland. Needs gravy. And stuffing. That is, unless the turkey is grilled. Grilling gives the turkey browned, extra crisp skin from the dry heat of the grill, and adds a hint of smoky flavor to the bird. The turkey, especially the white meat, will have the flavor to stand on …

Grilled Fajitas

Fajitas. The recipe that put a Mexican restaurant in every strip mall in America.* Really, Fajitas are Tex-mex, a blend of styles born from the Norteno border of Mexico and the Southwestern border of the US, where the cooking doesn’t let a little thing like a line on a map stop it.The holy trinity of Tex-mex cooking: Fajitas, Margaritas, and tortilla chips with salsa. I’m getting hungry just typing this. I learned a fascinating fajita marinade from Robb Walsh in The Tex-Mex Grill and Backyard Barbacoa Cookbook. There are two surprise ingredients in the marinade, that don’t sound very Mexican – Pineapple and Soy Sauce. Soy sauce is full of umami, which I’ve talked about before; it adds extra beefiness to the steak. Pineapple juice is the really interesting part – it contains an enzyme, bromelain, which is proteolytic (that is, it breaks down protein).* I had to double check that sentence with my wife, the chemist. Pineapple juice tenderizes the tough cuts of meat that are used in fajitas; skirt steak (fajita, in Spanish)*, flank steak, …

Pork Chop Saute with Apple Butter Sauce

This is an improvised weeknight recipe.  I made it for dinner last week, and it turned out so well I had to share it. The idea came while I was staring into my refrigerator, trying to figure out how to use up a bunch of ingredients I had lying around. First were the pork chops cut from the shoulder end of the loin I used in last week’s rotisserie stuffed pork loin. That got me thinking about a pork chop saute. I also had some apple cider left from the brine, and apple butter from my trip to the orchard. These became the base for my pan sauce. Fifteen minutes later, dinner was ready! This recipe is a grown up version of a childhood favorite, pork chops with applesauce.* The pan sauce is full of apples and cinnamon, with a hint of heat from the grainy mustard. It’s hard to go wrong with pork and apples, a classic flavor combination.*Even though it is a grown up version, it went over well with the kids. Recipe: …

Ruhlman: Cooking Is What Made Us Human

Once a year, it seems, Michael Ruhlman gets to the heart of the matter.  He takes all the scattered thoughts I have about cooking, random things that I can feel the edges of, and distills them down into their essence. He puts the reason I cook for my family every day into words.  Like…this: Had Something to Say – Cooking from michael ruhlman on Vimeo. I loved Catching Fire, and found it just as moving as Ruhlman did, but…man. I wish I could be that eloquent. Michael, thank you, and keep fighting the good fight.  We’re with you. PS: He has another great video on what makes Thomas Keller and Grant Achatz who they are Michael Ruhlman…had something to say at Ruhlman.com. For further reading:Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us HumanRatio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking *Enjoyed this post?  Want to help out DadCooksDinner?  Subscribe using your RSS reader or by Email, recommend DadCooksDinner to your friends, or buy something from Amazon.com through the links on this site.  Thank you!

Dianne Jacob and Laura Taxel at the Fabulous Food Show

[Update 11/10/2010: Never mind.  I got a call last night saying the writing workshops were cancelled.  Darn!] Next weekend is the Fabulous Food Show at the IX Center in Cleveland. Two of my favorite authors will be giving a workshop on food writing: Food Writing for Food Lovers. Dianne is the author of Will Write for Food, the best handbook I’ve found for food writers (like me and this little blog). Laura is the author of Cleveland Ethnic Eats, and knows more about local, ethnic places all around Northeastern Ohio than anyone else I know. Their class is at 10:30AM on Saturday, November 13th, and lasts for two hours.  The class is $50, and includes entry to the Fabulous Food Show. I’m not a big Food Network guy, so normally I wouldn’t get excited about going to the show.  But…on top of the chance to take a class with Dianne and Laura, my hero Alton Brown is going to be there.  I can’t wait! Information about the Food Writing for Food Lovers workshop, including a link …

Rotisserie Stuffed Pork Loin with Pepperoni, Provolone and Capicola

I complain a lot about bland pork loin. By breeding out the fat in pork, the Other White Meat has become a slab of protein without any real flavor, and one that turns dry if it is slightly overcooked. Here is my solution to those problems – use pork loin as a carrier for other ingredients that have a big hit of flavor. The problems I listed above are an advantage when pork loin is used as a delivery system for stuffing. The solid slab of protein makes it easy to cut into a wide, thin, flat surface. The bland meat takes on whatever flavors it is stuffed with. I still have to watch out for overcooking, but I brine the pork loin to give an extra cushion, and to pump the loin up with flavor. The next step was to pick out the type of stuffing I wanted to use. I chose an Italian cured meat theme. Sandwich pepperoni and capicola were on sale at my local grocery store, and I added provolone for a …

Slow Cooker Pot Roast, Tex-Mex Style

The first issue of Cooks Country magazine suggested making a slow cooker pot roast with a Tex-Mex flavor profile, and this is now my favorite way to make pot roast. It combines the best part of a pot roast, the tender beef chuck covered with a thick sauce, and adds the punchy flavors of Tex-Mex cuisine – chili powder, tortillas, oregano and jalapenos. The result is a meal I can use a couple of times during the week. The first night I serve it as a straight-up pot roast. Then, a couple of days later, I shred the leftovers, reheat them, and serve them as shredded beef tacos. If that doesn’t finish off the meat, it freezes well, so I can save some for a weeknight whey I’m rushed to get dinner on the table. I can thaw some shredded beef in the microwave, add some store bought tortillas and dinner’s ready in no time at all. And…don’t ask me why*, but I always make pot roast in the slow cooker. Stews, chilis, other braises …

Road Trip: BayLobsters Fish Market

Update 2015-12-31: BayLobsters Fish Market is closed.   For my Four Fish Week posts, I needed to find a good fish market.  I can find decent seafood at my local megamart, but when I want the best, I go to a fish market. I’ve been meaning to check out BayLobsters Fish Market in Twinsburg, and reading about sustainable seafood in Four Fish gave me the push I needed to make the trip. I knew I was in the right place as soon as I opened the door. The briny, slightly sweet smell of high quality fish greeted me as I entered the store. That is my first test for a fish market – does it smell right? BayLobster sure does. The display case of fish is a work of art – whole fish and sides of fish, carefully arranged to show how beautiful they are. And, the place was hopping – it is clambake season and they were doing a brisk business. There was a steady stream of customers during the Friday lunch that I …