Tuesday, June 30, 2015


     English Rollmops!
     Rollmops are a popular English pub snack.  Rollmops were on the menu at an English pub, where I was the chef for a couple of years.  Customers liked the simple chilled Rollmops, especially when the weather was hot.  Chilled pickled herring is kind of refreshing snack and chilled pickled vegetables always provide relief from the heat.
    Some of the English customers ask for sour cream on the side with the Rollmops.  Sour cream is a traditional condiment for Rollmops.  Some English cooks do make Rollmops with Pickled Herring that is packed in sour cream.  The combination is tasty, but Sour Cream Rollmops are better suited for cooler weather.
     Bulk commercial Pickled Herring varies in quality.  Some brands are much better than others.  The size of the Pickled Herring pieces in a jar vary too.  Large pieces can always be trimmed,  If the pieces are too small, then they are useless for making Rollmops.  
     Pickling fresh Herring filets is easy to do.  A sweet vinegar and pickling salt brine is all that is needed.  The only problem is that fresh Herring is usually only available in northern coastal area fish markets where the ocean water is cold.  Fresh Herring is rarely available anywhere else, because a high percentage of the Herring catch is sold at a commercially for a bulk price.  Nearly all Herring is sold at grocery stores as a canned, pickled or smoked product.    
     Roll Mops:
     Roll mops are simply a piece of pickled herring that is wrapped around a piece of pickle and speared with a toothpick.  Follow the guidelines for making Rollmops:  
     • Rollmops should be made bite size.
     • Dill Pickle pieces are the classic roll mop filling.  Only a small piece of pickle is needed.
     • Olives, sweet pickles, cornichons, pickled roasted red pepper, pimiento and pickled garlic are good Rollmop options.  Basically, any pickled vegetable that tastes good with pickled fish can be used to make Rollmops.   
     • The smooth skin side of the pickled herring should be on the outside of a finished rollmop.
     • When serving rollmops, try to arrange them on a plate so they look nice.
     • A simple garnish of pickles and parsley is fine for a Rollmops appetizer.
     *The rollmops in the photos above are stuffed with Dill Pickle Pieces, Pickled Roasted Red Bell Pepper, Pickled Garlic and Sushi Style Pickled Ginger.  

     Rollmops are a healthy English snack!          

Monday, June 29, 2015

Crawfish Remoulade and Romaine Hearts

     Crawfish In A Traditional French Remoulade!
     I have posted a few Remoulade recipes in the past.  Pink color Louisiana style Remoulade seems to be the most popular these days.  Two kinds of traditional French Remoulade are also served in New Orleans restaurants.  One is a white color and one is a curry spice flavored yellow remoulade.
     Today's recipe is a standard French White Remoulade.  White Remoulade sauce has a wide range of bold flavors that taste good with crawfish and romaine.  Crawfish Remoulade and Romaine Hearts is a nice café style lunch salad that provides comfort and satisfaction.  This is a good salad for the home dinner table too.

     French Remoulade (White Color):
     This recipe yields enough for 2 to 3 salad applications.  (About 1 1/4 cups.)
     In a gourmet restaurant, the remoulade is made from scratch, just like making mayonnaise.  Pre-made mayonnaise in a jar is a nice convenience for home cooks and it has a much longer shelf life than freshly made mayonnaise.  Some brands of pre-made mayonnaise are better than others.
     Step 1:  Place 1/2 cup of mayonnaise in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of dijon mustard.
     Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of anchovy paste.
     Step 2:  Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of minced shallot.
     Add 1 teaspoon of finely minced garlic.
     Add 2 tablespoons of chopped capers.
     Add 3 tablespoons of finely chopped cornichon pickles.
     Step 3:  Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of black pepper.
     Add 2 pinches each of:
     - marjoram
     - tarragon
     - basil
     - oregano
     - chervil
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of minced Italian Parsley.
     Add 1 or 2 pinches of cayenne pepper.
     Step 4:  Mix the ingredients together.
     Refrigerate the remoulade for 1 hour, so the flavors meld.

     Crawfish Remoulade and Romaine Hearts:
     Step 1:  Shell 15 to 20 poached crawfish tails.
     Set 1 whole poached crawfish aside so it can be use as a garnish.
     Step 2:  Cut a romaine heart into 5 thin wedges.
     Place the romaine wedges on a plate.
     Place a few thin sliced onion rings on the stalk ends of the romaine.
     Place 4 or 5 plum tomato slices on the onions.
     Step 3:  Spoon about 1/3 cup of the remoulade over the tomato slices.
     Place the crawfish tails on the remoulade.
     Sprinkle a few capers on the remoulade.
     Place the whole poached crawfish garnish on top.
     Step 4:  Garnish the plate with lemon slices.
     Sprinkle some julienne sliced green onion around the remoulade and crawfish.
     This is a great tasting salad entrée!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Jujube BBQ Turkey Drumstick ~ Roasted Red Pepper Cole Slaw

     A Tasty Korean Red Date Barbecue Sauce Slathered Turkey Drumstick! 
     Today's recipe features a turkey drumstick.  Turkey drumsticks sell for a low price, so they are a good bargain for backyard barbecue party enthusiasts.  
     There is a little bit of a primitive hunter-gatherer ancestral trait in all of us.  This trait seems to awaken when the aroma of meat roasting on a fire is sensed.  Gnawing meat right off of the bone satisfies recessed primordial traits.   
     A big roasted turkey leg certainly creates barbaric appeal, especially if a good barbecue sauce is in the mix.  Serving up a big tray of BBQ Turkey Legs garnished with frill caps certainly exudes classy elegance.  After the guest's grab hold of a BBQ Turkey Leg by the bone and sink their teeth in, the primitive hunter instinct is unleashed.  Just forget about maintaining any level of refined civilized mannerisms when BBQ Turkey Legs are served up at a backyard BBQ party.  Just remind the guests that fire is good! 

     Jujube BBQ Sauce:
     This recipe yields enough sauce for 3 or 4 turkey legs!
     Step 1:  Place 1 cup of dried pitted Korean Red Dates (Jujube) in a sauce pot.
     Add 2 1/2 cups of water.
     Place the pot over low heat.
     Simmer the red dates till they are very tender.
     Step 2:  Use a slotted spoon to scoop the red dates out.  Leave the red date broth on the heat.
     Inspect the red dates to make sure there are no pits.  
     Return the red dates to the pot.
     Step 3:  Add 1/4 cup of organic ketchup.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of dijon mustard.
     Add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.
     Add 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar.
     Add 1 tablespoons of palm sugar.
     Step 4:  Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of pure sesame oil.  
     Add 1 tablespoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of worcestershire sauce.
     Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Step 5:  Add 1/2 teaspoon of Chinese red chile powder.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of cumin.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of coriander.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ginger powder.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of white pepper.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of Chinese Five Spice Powder. 
     Add sea salt to taste.  
     Step 6:  Gently simmer the sauce over low heat, till the spice flavors meld.  (About 5 minutes) 
     Step 7:  Remove the pot from the heat and allow the sauce to cool to less than 100ºF.     
     Puree the sauce with a blending wand, blender or food processor.
     Step 8:  Return the sauce to a sauce pot over low heat.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a medium thin glacé sauce consistency that can glaze a spoon.
     Place the sauce in a container and set it aside.

     Frenched Turkey Leg Fabrication:
     Thin blade poultry shears are best for clipping the tendons. 
     Select 1 turkey leg 
     Use a boning knife to cut through skin and tendons just below where the muscle tissue ends.
     Stand the the turkey leg upright with the meaty end planted against a cutting board.
     Apply heavy pressure with fingertips and force the meat to slide down the bone, so the meat becomes wide enough on the meaty end, for the turkey leg to stand on its own.  The tendons will be exposed.
     Clip the tendons, so they are flush with the meat fob.
     Scrape the bone clean with the back of a paring knife.

     Slow Roasted Turkey Leg For Jujube BBQ:
     This recipe yields 1 leg.
     The prepared turkey leg can be slow roasted in an oven.  Turkey legs can also be cooked slowly in a smoker set to about 190ºF to 210ºF.  The turkey leg must be fully cooked and the minimum center temperature must be 165ºF for 15 seconds.  For tender turkey legs, continue roasting till the center temperature is about 175ºF.  
     Season the prepared turkey leg with sea salt and white pepper.
     Sprinkle just enough cayenne pepper on the turkey leg to make it comfortably spicy.
     Stand the turkey leg upright in a 3" to 4" wide muffin pan cup.
     Press the meat down the leg bone, to create a flat base.
     Slow roast the turkey leg in a 290ºF oven, till the meat is fully cooked and the skin is lightly browned.
     Set the roasted turkey leg aside.

     Roasted Red Pepper Slaw:
     This recipe yields 2 servings!
     Step 1:  Place 2 1/2 cups of thin sliced cabbage in a mixing bowl. 
     Add 2 tablespoons of minced onion.
     Add 1/4 cup of thin sliced roasted red bell pepper strips.
     Step 2:  Add 1/4 cup of mayonnaise.
     Add 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard.
     Add 1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar.
     Add 1 pinch of ground celery seed.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of granulated sugar.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Chill the Roasted Red Pepper Slaw in a refrigerator to 41ºF.

     Paper Frill Cap:
     Parchment paper frill caps are easy to make!  Use your imagination to figure it out or look for an instructional guide.  Pictorials can be found in the Larousse Gastronomique and instructional videos can be found on the internet.  

     Jujube BBQ Turkey Drumstick:
     The Turkey Leg can be barbecued over a moderate heat spot on a chargrill that has a lid to seal in the heat.  For apartment dwellers, an oven can be used to finish the turkey leg.  Backyard chargrill chefs need no instruction.  This recipe describes the oven method.  
     Brush the entire meaty end of the roasted turkey leg with the Jujube BBQ Sauce.
     Stand the turkey leg upright on a wire screen rack in a roasting pan.
     Wrap the bare exposed leg bone with aluminum foil. 
     Roast the the turkey leg in a 400ºF oven.
     Brush the turkey leg with Jujube BBQ Sauce occasionally, till the sauce clings and caramelizes.
     Remove the Jujube BBQ Turkey Drumstick from the oven.
     Remove the aluminum foil.
     Brush one last coat of Jujube BBQ Sauce on the drumstick before serving.

     Jujube BBQ Turkey Drumstick with Roasted Red Pepper Cole Slaw:
     Drain the excess coleslaw dressing off of the Roasted Red Pepper Cole Slaw.
     Mound a portion of the slaw on the plate.
     Set the Jujube BBQ Turkey Leg on the plate, so it stands upright.
     Slide the paper frill cap over the bare turkey leg bone joint.
     Place a small ramekin of Jujube BBQ Sauce on the plate.
     Garnish with an Italian Parsley sprig.

     Jujube BBQ Sauce tastes great with turkey!


Lebanese Wilted Salad

     One Of The Tastiest Traditional Salads That There Is!
     Today's Lebanese Marinated Salad is an old recipe that my step grandfather used to make every time that he visited.  My step grandfather was raised in Syria and he lived in Lebanon before emigrating to America.  He was a great Syrian chef who managed a few fine restaurants in Southern California many years ago.
     I was a child when my family first sampled this salad.  Soon after the first taste, every time that the family dinner was announced and salad was mentioned, we all asked if the salad was going to be Lebanese Wilted Salad!  

     Today's salad is similar to Lebanese Fattoush, but Fattoush is not made with meat or cheese.  The garlic, herb and virgin olive oil flavors of this salad are captivating.  
     The meat in this salad is Lebanon Baloney.  Lebanon Baloney is an all beef, large, dark sausage salami that is cured, fermented and smoked.  Lebanon Baloney has a softer texture than hard Genoa Salami.  
     Some food historians say that Lebanon Baloney originated in the American Pennsylvania Dutch country.  The truth is, sausages and salami like Lebanon Baloney have been made in the entire Mediterranean region long before America came to be.  The flavor of Lebanon Baloney is slightly tangy and very rich.  My Syrian Lebanese step grandfather once said that Lebanon Baloney is as close to the beef sausages that are made in Lebanon as it gets.

     The cheese in today's salad is provolone.  Fresh Lebanese cheese, like Galilee Village Cheese, is what my Syrian Lebanese step grandfather said was best for this salad.  He said that provolone or mozzarella can be substituted, because they are fresh cheese too.
     It has been many years since I have made this marinated salad, so this recipe has been long over due.  This is a very tasty salad that can be served as a lunch entrée or a casual mezze.
     Lebanese Wilted Salad:
     This recipe yields 1 large portion!
    Red wine vinegar became part of the recipe when my step grandfather lived in California.  Red wine vinegar is a fermented product.  No fermented products are allowed in some religious diets in the Middle East, so red wine vinegar is an optional ingredient.
     Step 1:  Cut 1 small eggplant lengthwise into 3 long slices that are about 3/16" thick.  (Leave the skin on the eggplant.  Any extra eggplant can be saved for other recipes.)
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 3 or 4 tablespoon of blended olive oil.
     Pan fry the eggplant slices, till they are tender and golden highlights appear.
     Step 3:  Place the cooked eggplant slices on a cutting board.
     Slice the eggplant into large bite size pieces and set them aside.
     Step 4:  Place 3 very thin sliced garlic cloves in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice.  (Add 1 extra teaspoon of lemon juice, if no red wine vinegar is used!)
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of red wine vinegar.  (Optional!)
     Add 4 tablespoons of virgin olive oil.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Add 2 pinches of sumac berry spice.  (Sumac spice is available at Mediterranean markets.)
     Add 1 pinch of chopped green florence fennel leaves.  (anise bulb)
     Add 1 pinch of ground fennel seed.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 1 pinch of crushed dried red chile pepper.
     Stir the marinade.
     Step 5:  Add the cooked eggplant pieces.
     Add 6 to 8 green olives.
     Add 6 to 8 ripe black olives.
     Add 8 to 10 Arabic Green Scratched Olives or Kalamata Olives.
     Add 1/2 of a roasted pimiento or roasted red bell pepper that is thin sliced.
     Add 4 or 5 pepperoncini.
     Step 6:  Trim the casing or skin off of a 1/4" thick slice of Lebanon Baloney.  (About 3 ounces will be needed.)
     Cut the Lebanon Baloney into 4"x1/4"x1/4" strips (batonette).  
     Add the Lebanon Baloney to the salad.
     Step 7:  Cut a 1/4" thick slice of provolone cheese that weighs about 3 ounces.
     Cut the provolone cheese into 4"x1/4"x1/4" strips and add them to the salad.
     Step 8:  Add 1/4 cup of each of these vegetables:
     - green bell pepper strips
     - julienne sliced onion
     - thin sliced anise bulb (florence fennel)
     Step 9:  Add 6 thin tomato wedges.
     Add 1 1/2 cups of baby spinach leaves.
     Add 1 1/2 cups of mixed baby lettuce leaves or chopped romaine.
     Step 10:  Toss the salad ingredients together.
     Chill the salad in a refigerator and leave it uncovered.  Allow the salad ingredients to marinate and wilt for at least 1 hour.  Toss the salad occasionally as it marinates.
     Step 11:  The salad is ready when the lettuce is slightly wilted and the vegetables still have some crispy bite to them.  
     Toss the salad one last time before serving.
     Mound the salad on a plate.
     Be sure to expose some of the olives, Lebanon Baloney and Provolone Cheese on the surface of the salad.
     Set a pepperoncini on top of the salad as a garnish.  
     Lebanese Wilted Salad is hard to stop eating after the first bite.  The flavor is delicious!  

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Rib Tickle Bar-B-Que Boneless Country Style Ribs

     Rib Tickle!
     Rib Tickle BBQ, Tickle Rib BBQ and Dry Rub BBQ are all the same thing.  Some old time BBQ cooks used to refer to dry rub BBQ with the word Tickle.  Ribs are a ticklish spot for both humans and animals.  Just try tickling the ribs on a little piglet and see how it reacts!

     Dry rub BBQ is nothing new.  There are hundreds of dry rub BBQ spice mix recipes.  There are tons of dry rub BBQ spice products in stores.  Making your own dry rub BBQ seasoning is like making your own BBQ sauce.  A good dry rub BBQ spice mix can earn bragging rights when it is well liked by guests!
     Southwestern dry rub BBQ mixtures have more Mexican spice flavor and they can be spicy hot.  Texas BBQ beef brisket is a good example.  Hot pepper rubs are common everywhere.  Garlic pepper rubs and dry mustard rubs are popular too.  Many BBQ cooks from the Caribbean region like to rub the pork ribs with curry powder.

     Today's Rib Tickle BBQ dry rub spice mixture has a nice flavor balance.  The seasonings all work together to create a nice classic Southern style dry rub BBQ flavor.
     Boneless Country Style Ribs are actually not ribs at all.  Country Ribs are cut from the pork shoulder near the rib cage.  Country style rib meat is very tender and juicy after slow roasting.  There are a few streaks of fat in country rib meat that keep the meat tender.  Country style ribs usually have no bones or just a couple of the last few bones on a rib cage.  Country style ribs are not considered to be true ribs, but it is a nice section of pork for Dry Rub BBQ slow roasting.
     Tickle Rib BBQ Dry Rub Spice Mixture: 
     This recipe yields enough dry rub to seasoning an 8 to 10 ounce portion of boneless country style pork ribs!   
     Place 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 teaspoon of onion powder.
     Add 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1 teaspoon of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1 teaspoon of ground anatto.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ancho chile powder.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of cumin.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of coriander.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 tablespoon of sugar.
     Stir the dry rub BBQ mixture together.
     Rib Tickle Bar-B-Que Boneless Country Style Ribs:
     Step 1:  Dredge an 8 ounce piece of boneless country style rib in the dry rub seasoning.
     Press the dry rub BBQ seasoning onto the pork meat.
     Rub the seasoning on the pork meat with pressure from your fingers, just like tickling.
     Brush off any excess dry rub spices from the pork country rib.  There should be just a thin coating of the dry rub BBQ spices on the meat.
     Set the dry rubbed country rib section on a pan in a refrigerator.
     Let the seasoning flavor the meat for 1 to 2 hours.
     Step 2:  Cooking Options:
     • A few methods can be used to slow roast the dry rub country style ribs.  A meat smoker set at 250ºF to 275ºF is best.  A mixture of 3 parts white oak and 1 part hickory produces a good smoke.  There should only be a trickle of smoke flowing through the smoking chamber.
      • An oven that is set to 275ºF can be used for indoor cooking.
      • A chargrill can also be used.  A covered char grill that is about 275ºF in the chamber is okay.  The meat should be placed on the highest roasting rack above the coals.  Be sure that the vents are partially open, so some smoke is trapped under the chargrill cover.
     Step 3:  Slowly roast the piece of dry rub country style rib, till it is fully cooked and tender.  The meat should be moist after slow roasting.  Try to avoid over roasting, or the meat will become dry.
     *Once a probe thermometer reads 145ºF, the meat is safe to eat, but it will need to roast longer so the full flavor will develop and so the meat becomes tender.  Once the meat cooks to 165º to 170º, the country style rib meat should be tender and juicy.
     Step 4:  Keep the finished tickle rib BBQ country rib warm on a top char grill rack or in a holding oven (steam sham).
     Hot Pepper Vinegar:
     This recipe yields 3 to 4 servings  
     Pepper vinegar is an old time Southern BBQ favorite.  A thin spicy vinegar sauce is perfect with dry rub BBQ!
     Korean or Thai style course ground Red Serrano Pepper Paste (sambal) can usually be found in the Asian food aisle of a grocery store or at an Asian food market.
     Step 1:  Place 2 ounces of rice vinegar in a small sauce pot.
     Add 1 ounce of water.  (Add 1 extra ounce of water if you prefer a milder vinegar bite.)
     Add sea salt.
     Add 1 ounce of course ground red serrano chile pepper paste.
     Step 2:  Simmer the sauce pot over low heat, till the flavors meld.  (About 2 minutes of simmering.)
     Cool the hot pepper vinegar to room temperature.
     Place the Tickle Rib BBQ Boneless Country Style Ribs on a cutting board.
     Cut the tickle rib BBQ into thin slices.
     Overlap the slices on a plate.
     Serve with a ramekin of the Hot Pepper Vinegar.
     Serve with pickles and Chipped Fried Potatoes or your favorite BBQ fixings!
     Garnish the plate with a parsley sprig.
     A thick rich BBQ sauce would overwhelm the flavor of the dry rub BBQ.  The pepper vinegar is just right.  This is a tasty style of BBQ that will tickle you pink!

Memphis Dry Rub Barbecue Spare Ribs ~ Green Potato Salad & Buttermilk Cole Slaw

     One Of The Classic American BBQ Styles!  Memphis Dry Rub!
     Traditional Memphis Dry Rub BBQ Ribs have become very popular in recent years.  The dry rub spice mixture has a BBQ flavor that is not spicy hot like a Southwestern or Cajun style dry rub.  The flavor balance is unique.  The flavor of Memphis Dry Rub tastes like classic Southern style BBQ and it is not spicy hot.  
     Memphis Dry Rub Ribs are usually served with Memphis BBQ Sauce on the side, but some restaurants in that region finish the Memphis Dry Rub Ribs by slathering them with sauce just before they are served.  Either way is good, but many purists demand the sauce on the side, because the dry rub flavor is so good.  
     Sticking with a Southern cuisine theme is always good when it comes to BBQ accompaniments.  Buttermilk Cole Slaw is traditional in the South.  Louisiana Green Potato Salad is traditional too.
     In Louisiana there are a couple of mayonnaise recipes that are identified by color.  Red Mayonnaise is made with plenty of minced mild red peppers.  Green Mayonnaise is made with lots of green onion and herbs.  Both of these items are great for making potato salad.  
     Memphis Dry Rub BBQ Spice Mix:
     This recipe yields enough for 1 full rack of spare ribs.  This recipe is easy to multiply.
     Place 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar in a mixing bowl.
     Add 4 tablespoons of  brown sugar.
     Add 4 tablespoons of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 3 tablespoons of guajillo chile powder.
     Add 3 tablespoons of ancho chile powder.
     Add 1 tablespoon of garlic powder.
     Add 4 tablespoons of onion powder.
     Add 1 tablespoon of cumin.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground mustard seed.
     Add 2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper.
     Add 2 teaspoons of black pepper.
     Add 1 teaspoon of sea salt.
     Mix the spices together. 
     Memphis Dry Rub Barbecue Spare Ribs:
     This recipe yields 1 rack of spare ribs.
     Step 1:  Generously rub the spice mixture on a rack of pork spare ribs.
     Place the ribs on a pan.
     Chill the ribs in a refrigerator for 1 hour, so the BBQ spice flavor sinks in.
     Step 2:  Place the rack of ribs on a wire screen roasting rack on a roasting pan.
     *Traditional Cooking Method:   Slow roast the rack of ribs in a smoker that is set to 225ºF.  There should only be a thin wisp of hickory and white oak smoke.
     *Optional Cooking Method:  Slow roast the ribs in a 250ºF oven.
     Step 3:  Slow roast the ribs, till the ribs are fully cooked.
     *The meat should shrink enough to expose about 3/8" of bare rib bone.  This is a sign that the ribs are ready.  The ribs meat should be tender enough to easily pull off the bones.  Depending on the size of the ribs, this can take almost 2 hour of slow roasting time.
     Keep the ribs warm on a stove top or reheat them in a 300ºF oven.
     Memphis BBQ Sauce:
     This recipe yields about 1 1/3 cups of sauce!
     Step 1:  Place 1/2 cup of brown sugar in a sauce pot.
     Add 1 tablespoon of black strap sorghum molasses.
     Add 1/2 cup of tomato puree.
     Add 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard.
     Add 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar.
     Add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.
     Add 2 cups of water.
     Place the sauce pot over low heat. 
     Step 2:   Add 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1 tablespoon of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1 tablespoon of ancho chile powder.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of guajillo chile powder.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder.
     Add 1 tablespoon of onion powder.
     Add 1 teaspoon of cumin.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ginger powder.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt.
     Step 3:  Slowly simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a medium thin BBQ sauce consistency that can coat a spoon.
     Step 4:  Taste the sauce.  Adjust the salt and pepper seasoning if necessary.
     *The sauce should be mildly spicy with a rich sweet and tangy BBQ sauce flavor.  The sauce should be slightly on the sweet side of the sweet and sour flavor balance.  If necessary, adjust the sweet sour balance with more brown sugar or cider vinegar.
     Step 5:  Strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a large ramekin.
     Keep the sauce warm on a stove top.
     Green Potato Salad:
     This recipe yields 2 portions.
     Step 1:  Boil 1 peeled russet potato with water over high heat in a sauce pot.
     Cook the potato till it is tender, but not mushy.
     Cool the potato under cold running water.
     Step 2:  Dice the potato into small cube shaped pieces.
     Place the diced potato in a mixing bowl.
     Step 3:  Add 1 tablespoon of minced green bell pepper.
     Add the finely minced green tops of 2 to 3 green onions.
     Add 1 tablespoon of finely minced curly leaf parsley.
     Add 1 tablespoon of sour cream.
     Add 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard.
     Season with 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 4:  Add just enough mayonnaise to bind the ingredients together.
     Gently mix the potato salad.
     Chill the potato salad in a refrigerator to a temperature of 41ºF.
     Buttermilk Cole Slaw:
     This recipe yields 2 portions.
     This is the shredded style buttermilk slaw.  Basically, this style is like marinated cabbage.  Most of the buttermilk dressing will settle to the bottom of the bowl.  The dressing can be reused to make a second batch.
     Step 1:  Place 2 1/4 cups of thin sliced cabbage in a mixing bowl. 
     Add 1/3 cup of mixed green bell pepper and red bell pepper that are cut into small thin strips.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced onion.
     Step 2:  Add 1/2 cup of buttermilk.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and coarse ground black pepper.
     Add 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Step 3:  Chill the cole slaw in a refrigerator to 41ºF.
     Toss the ingredients together occasionally.
     Memphis Dry Rub Barbecue Spare Ribs ~ Platter Presentation:
     3 or 4 large meaty ribs is a lunch portion.  A half rack is a full portion!
     Place the buttermilk coleslaw on a bed of lettuce leaves on the back half a steel platter.
     Place the green potato salad on a bed of lettuce leaves next to the slaw.
     Place the Memphis BBQ Sauce in a large shallow ramekin and place it on the platter.  
     Cut a lunch portion of ribs or a full half rack portion.
     Slice between the bones, but only 3/4 of the length of the rib, so the ribs are attached to each other on one end.
     Set the ribs on the platter.
     *You can lightly sauce the ribs before serving or serve the sauce on the side.  Most people like the sauce on the side when eating Memphis BBQ ribs. 

     By the way, I smoked ribs and barbecued ribs for over one year in the busiest BBQ restaurant in Florida several years ago.  The restaurant won the World Championship Of BBQ a few times and they won Best Ribs In America over 10 times.  I definitely know how to cook great BBQ!  

Friday, June 26, 2015

Gourmet Macaroni & Cheese! Bulgarian Kashkaval, Portobello and Smoked Veal Kielbasa

     Gourmet Mac & Cheese With A Bulgarian Theme!
     After shopping at Jones Market-Eastern European in Las Vegas recently, an idea came to mind.  Creating a few new recipes have an Eastern European theme, instead of cooking old traditional recipes for food photo examples seemed like a good idea.  Writing old traditional recipes requires doing a lot of research and I pretty much had my fill of college level research paper writing the las few years.  
     Macaroni & Cheese is wide open territory for creativity.  Just about any regional or cultural cuisine theme can be chosen when creating a new gourmet Mac & Cheese entrée.  The best place to start is selecting the cheese.  A traditional cheese from some distant place or an exotic artisan cheese are the best choices.  
     Kashkaval Cheese is popular throughout the Balkans in Eastern Europe.  Bulgarian Kashkaval is a very nice tasting sheep milk cheese that is perfect for making Macaroni & Cheese.  Sheep milk cheese has a high fat content, so it is a good melting cheese.  Bulgarian Kashkaval has a rich mild flavor.  The aftertaste can be described as hints of hazelnut and virgin olive oil.  Kashkaval is a semi firm cheese and it is aged for just a few months.
     Kielbasa Sausage is a cured smoked sausage that is flavored with just a few traditional spices.  Kielbasa is usually made with beef, pork, veal or a combination of these meats.  In America, Turkey Kielbasa is popular.  Fancy cafés sometimes offer kielbasa that is made with veal.  In regions where veal schnitzel or veal chops are popular, veal sausages are easy to find.  Most often, veal scraps are turned into a mousseline style white sausage like German or Austrian Weisswürst.  
     Smoked Veal Kielbasa is not easy to find outside of Europe, but it can be found in Eastern European food markets, like the Jones Market in Las Vegas.  Bulgarian, Polish or Greek delicatessens are also good places to look.  
     One of these days I will get around to making sausages from scratch, so some sausage recipes can be published.  All a home cook needs is a few basic ingredients, a meat grinder and a smoker to make Smoked Veal Kielbasa from scratch.       

     *This entire recipe yields 1 entrée!

     Boil 1 portion of macaroni pasta in boiling water till it becomes al dente.
     Cool the pasta under cold running water.
     Drain the water off of the macaroni.
     Place the macaroni in a mixing bowl and set it aside. 

     Bulgarian Kashkaval Béchamel: 
     This recipe yields enough for a single portion of Mac & Cheese. 
     The mother sauce for this recipe is basic béchamel.  For a small portion of béchamel sauce, it is easier to just add chopped onion, bay leaf and a spice clove, then strain the sauce before serving.  A small tied piquet of onion, bay leaf and clove tends to fall apart and the sauce will need to be strained anyway.
     Béchamel can be any made to any consistency that a recipe requires.  Béchamel can be made so it has a very thin consistency for white wine crème sauces or it can be made thick and heavy for dessert applications.  A béchamel cheese sauce for macaroni should not be made too thick, or the sauce will be as heavy as glue after baking. 
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour, while constantly stirring, to make a roux.  (The roux should look glossy and not caky.)
     Stir till the roux is a white color, with very little hazelnut aroma.
     Step 2:  Add 2 cups of milk while whisking.
     Add 1/4 cup of cream.
     Stir as the sauce heats and thickens to a very thin sauce consistency.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1/2 of a spice clove.
     Add 1 tablespoon of coarsely chopped onion.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 small pinch of nutmeg.
     Add 1 small bay leaf.
     Step 4:  Gently simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a medium thin sauce consistency.  The volume should be about 1 1/2 cups 
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced green onion.
     Add 2 1/2 to 3 ounces of grated Bulgarian Kashkaval Cheese.
     Stir till the cheese melts into the sauce.
     Step 6:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Keep the sauce warm on a stove top.   

     Gourmet Macaroni & Cheese!  Bulgarian Kashkaval, Portobello and Smoked Veal Kielbasa:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Step 1:  Lightly brush a single portion casserole dish with melted unsalted butter.  (A 6" diameter casserole dish is good.)
     Add enough of the Bulgarian Kashkaval Béchamel Sauce to the reserved macaroni pasta in the mixing bowl to generously coat the pasta with sauce.  (Any leftover sauce can be saved for another recipe.)  
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Step 2:  Place mac & cheese mixture into the casserole dish.
     Sprinkle a little bit of plain fine French bread crumbs over the mac & cheese.
     Arrange a 5 or 6 thick slices of medium size portobello mushroom on top of the mac & cheese, so it looks nice.
     Lightly brush the mushroom slices with melted unsalted butter.
     Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of grated Bulgarian Kashkaval Cheese over the casserole.
     Step 3:  Bias cut evenly spaced shallow score marks on one side of a 4 to 5 ounce Smoked Veal Kielbasa Sausage.  
     Place the sausage on top of the Mac & Cheese, so the score marks face up.
     Lightly brush the sausage with melted unsalted butter.
     Step 4:  Place the casserole dish on a baking pan.
     Bake in a 325ºF oven, till the cheese sauce starts to bubble and the bread crumbs are lightly toasted.  The veal kielbasa should be lightly browned and the mushrooms should be cooked tender by this time.
     Allow the casserole to cool to a safe serving temperature.
     Step 5:  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of tomato concassé over the mac & cheese as a garnish.  (Diced peeled seeded fresh tomato filet.)
     Garnish with Italian Parsley leaves.
     Place the casserole dish on a doily lined serving plate.

     Easy as pie!  Making a gourmet Macaroni & Cheese only requires a few extra steps and a little extra attention to detail.  The flavor of this Bulgarian style Mac & Cheese is one of a kind!