Monday, August 31, 2015

Notes: T-bone steak

30 August 2015

  • Serious Eats (an on-line cooking resource) published an article on The Four High End Steaks You Should Know: rib eye, strip, tenderloin, and t-bone.
  • Doing some reading, t-bone is harder to cook than the others because of the bone, odd shape, and having two different muscles, which have different characteristics, in the steak. Pan searing is discouraged and grilling or broiling are recommended.
  • Our steak is even more challenging as it is a thin supermarket cut, easily overcooked before a good crust can develop. Furthermore, it was frozen in its original package then thawed at room temperature.
  • Out steak weighed 0.84 pounds and was ¾″ thick at its thickest.
  • After thawing on the kitchen counter, the steak was patted dry with paper towels then seasoned with kosher salt and black pepper.  The grill was preheated, then two of the three burners were turned to low. The steak was placed so the thinner side was closets to the cooler burners.
  • I guessed 3 minutes a side based on recommendations in several recipes I reviewed. After cooking for this long the temperature was 100°; another 2 minutes brought the temperature up to 130°, medium-rare, for the thickest part.

  • Menu: Steak, fresh sweet corn, boiled red potatoes, Vella Merlot.
  • The meat was good if a tad over seasoned (sigh). It was not overcooked, as I had feared it would be as it is a thin steak. It was reasonably tender though perhaps a little mushy, probably from having been frozen.
  • As suspected, the steak did not develop a good crust. By the time the middle was done the outside was only lightly browned.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Notes: Barbecued Beef Brisket and Sourdough No-knead Bread

23 August 2015

  • I have made and written about barbecued brisket and sourdough no-knead bread each several times before.
  • Bread
    • With an eye towards modifying this recipe by adding more starter, here are the ingredients I used
      • 15 ounces bread flour
      • ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
      • 1½ teaspoons table salt
      • 5 fluid ounces room room temperature water
      • 2 fluid ounces sourdough starter
      • 3 fluid ounces lager
      • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
    • I didn't mean to do an experiment with the recipe today but I did by mistake by leaving out the salt.  :-(  Salt is important to bread.
    • The dough was wetter than usual, I had to add a lot of flour while kneading it so that I could handle it, suggesting that leaving out the salt was not my only mistake.
  •  Brisket
    • I bought a relatively small brisket, 3 pounds, the recipe is for a 5 to 6 pound brisket. It had a nice fat cap.
    • Rather than use the smoking directions from the brisket recipe, I followed those in the ATK pulled pork recipe. I used 4 cups of wood chips, 2 dry and 2 soaked, a mixture of apple and hickory. (Not for any culinary reasons but because the bag of apple chips is about gone so I bought a new bag of hickory chips.)
    • A disposable aluminum pan with water was placed under the beef. Supposedly the dampness helps the meat absorb the smoke.
    • I smoked the brisket for 2 hours (the recipe called for 3) with the primary burner on high and the other two burners off. This maintained a grill temperature of about 220°. The recipe did not specify a temperature.
    • The temperature of the roast was around 135° when it came from the grill. It took about 3 hours in the oven to reach the final temperature of 190°. It seemed to get stuck on 176° for a long time before finally continuing its rise in temperature. 
  • Menu: barbecued beef brisket, sourdough bread, crudité (carrots and celery), Quick Boston beans, Vella Merlot
  • What a difference a little salt makes! The bread was bad. The stickiness of the dough suggests I made at least one other mistake, but forgetting the salt was a biggie. The sourness from the starter came through but otherwise the bread was bland. The texture was off, too, it didn't rise well after being formed into a loaf so the crumb was dense. 
  • The beef was good, nice and tender, though over seasoned (Will I ever learn?) and the fat cap added a lot of flavor.  Diane thought the combination of salt-less bread with salty meat worked well. 
  • The bread was tolerable given enough beef or bean juice or butter. 

Eat leftovers
  • tbd

Monday, July 27, 2015

Notes and recipe: Shortcake

 26 July 2015

  • A video recipe from Chef John at Food Wishes.
  • The video recipe does not include instructions, so I cobbled some together below.
  • One of the appealing attributes of this recipe is how easy it is. I don't know if this is normal for shortcake, but the butter is melted and then just stirred into the dry ingredients.
  • The video says the dough should be patted out to 1-inch thickness, but it didn't look that think. I patted it out to an 8x5 rectangle which was a little less than an inch thick. 
  • I forgot to brush on the cream and sugar so it didn't brown as well, though it did rise quite a bit while baking.

  • The shortbread was tough and heavy ... perhaps overworked and/or overbaked. Maybe because it didn't have the cream and sugar on the top it browned more slowly than it would have otherwise.
  • I'll need to make this again and try some other shortbread recipes. My mom served strawberries with biscuits and Diane's mom served them with angel food cake, so while this is more biscuit-like than cake-like, it is a departure from both of our family traditions.

Eat leftover
  • I warmed the shortcake in the microwave the next evening. I enjoyed the shortcake better this way than room temperature as it was served the first evening.

Makes 6 Large or 8 Normal Strawberry Shortcakes:

2 cups self rising flour (I used2 cups of all-purpose flour,  1 tablespoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon table salt)
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup heavy cream
½ cup milk
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter

  1. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat and continue heating until golden brown. Set aside.
  2. Heat oven to 425° with a rack in the middle position.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a small bowl.
  4. Add milk, heavy cream, and melted butter and stir with a spoon until just combined.
  5. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and press it into a 1-inch thick rectangle.
  6. Cut it into 6 or 8 evenly sized pieces.
  7. Transfer to a baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper or a silpat.
  8. Brush the tops with heavy cream and sprinkle with granulated sugar
  9. Bake until browned, 15-18 minutes

Notes: Broiled Pork Tenderloin with Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Salsa

 26 July 2015

  •  Recipes from the September/October Cook's Illustrated magazine
  • This was a relatively quick Sunday dinner, it took about an hour to prepare everything.
  • The recipe for the pork was very straightforward and easy. The "secret" was the method they developed to provide consistent results no matter how your broiler works. This included preheating the oven to 325°, to preheat the broiler elements, before turning on the broiler.
  • I used the Hi setting for our broiler, which has two settings (Hi and Lo).
  • After broiling for 5 min the tenderloin was turned over and broiled for 10 minutes (the recipe gives 8 to 14 minutes for this step) to get to an internal temperature of 125°-130°.
  • I started the potatoes and asparagus around the same time as the pork.
  • The salsa was easily made, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh parsley, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper ... just chop and stir together.

  • The pork tenderloin was served with sun-dried tomato and basil salsa, boiled red potatoes, grilled asparagus, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from Lone Goat Vineyard ... this is the vineyard in Caleb's back yard in New Zealand. It's good wine.
  • Not only was this dinner easy to make, but the pork was tender and moist and the salsa was good and went well with the pork.
  • I started the asparagus too soon, it took only about 10 minutes to grill.

Eat leftovers 
  • We had the leftover pork with three other "p" foods: potatoes, peas, and Pinot Grigio. The meat was reheated in the microwave with a little water. It was OK, not too tough or too dry, though not as juicy as when fresh.