Saturday, July 25, 2015

Sweet Snap Pea Salad with Thousand Island Dressing

     Classic Thousand Island Salad Dressing!
     Sweet Snap Peas add a nice touch to a country style salad.  Sweet Snap Peas have to be steamed or blanched till they are al dente, so they will be palatable.
     Today's classic Thousand Island Dressing recipe is one that I made in many restaurants early in my career.  From the 1970's through the 1980's, nearly every fine restaurant offered Thousand Island Dressing that was made from scratch.  French cafés, seafood restaurants, fine casual restaurants and steakhouses always had this salad dressing on the menu.  Starting in the 1990's, many of the classic mayonnaise base salad dressings started to disappear on fine restaurant menus, because chefs felt that the dining public favored only healthy vinaigrette salad dressings.
     In this modern age, it seems like the only restaurants that offer hand crafted classic Thousand Island Dressing are fine restaurants that have a comfort food theme, locally owned seafood restaurants and old fashioned steakhouses.
     Casual corporate chain restaurants still offer Thousand Island Dressing on their menus, but there are quality issues.  Nearly every chain restaurant and cheap buffet purchases one gallon jugs of pre-made Thousand Island Dressing.  Usually the bulk Thousand Island Dressing is generic food purveyor brand name product that sells for a low price.  There are many key ingredients that are missing in the bulk Thousand Island product and the flavor is boring at best.  Once again, chain restaurants can be blamed for burning out a good thing.
     Thousand Island Dressing is much better when it is made fresh.  Bottled Thousand Island Dressing products are second rate.  These products have the same boring qualities as the bulk Thousand Island that chain restaurants market.

     In the early 1900's, Thousand Island Dressing became a very popular salad dressing in fine restaurants.  Originally, Thousand Island simply was mayonnaise and ketchup mixed together.  Most food historians claim that Thousand Island was first made in fishing villages somewhere along the northeast coastline.  The proportion of ketchup and mayonnaise was different than Russian Dressing during that same era and the color looked the same as a Louisiana style Remoulade.
     Because of the fishing village heritage, more than likely the original Thousand Island began as a spin off of Louisiana Remoulade or it was the result of a chef that attempted to make Louisiana Remoulade without a recipe.  It did not take long for chefs to fancy up the Thousand Island recipe, in order to create more exciting appeal.  Eventually Thousand Island became a distinct recipe that was not like any other salad dressing or remoulade.

     As a child, I remember parents making comments after being invited to dinner at a relative's house or friend's house.  The comments were along the lines of "Aunt Rosy makes the best Deviled Eggs!" or "Suzy made the best Russian Dressing last time we were there and I hope she makes that dressing for dinner again!"  
     It is not how extravagant the food presentation is or how exotic the ingredients are that impresses dinner guests in a private home.  It is the flavor that counts when cooking familiar comfortable for guests that are friends and family.  One thing that I noticed when I was a kid was that a good home made Thousand Island Dressing always got plenty of compliments from dinner guests.  If the Thousand Island came out of a bottle from the grocery store, not one compliment was heard.  

     Thousand Island Dressing:
     This recipe yields about 1 1/4 cups or enough for 2 large salads.  
     The ketchup measurement is nearly always done by eye.  This creates a personal touch.  Organic ketchup has the best flavor.  
     Step 1:  Place 1/2 cup of mayonnaise in a mixing bowl.
     Add just enough organic ketchup to give the dressing a light pink orange color.  (About 2 to 3 tablespoons.)
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of worcestershire sauce.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 2 tablespoons of sweet pickle relish.
     Add 1 tablespoon of finely chopped onion.
     Add 1 tablespoon of finely chopped green pepper.
     Add 1 tablespoon of finely chopped pitted green olives.
     Add 1 finely chopped hard boiled egg.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Step 2:  Mix the ingredients together.
     Chill the dressing for 1 hour, so the flavors meld.
     Step 3:  *Check the consistency.  If the dressing is too thick, add 1 teaspoon of water at a time while stirring.  Thousand Island should be thick enough to easily coat a spoon and just thin enough to be poured from a spoon.

     Sweet Snap Pea Salad with Thousand Island Dressing:
     This recipe yields 1 large salad.
     Step 1:  Blanch or steam about 15 trimmed sweet snap peas, so they still have a slightly crisp bite.  (Al Dente)
     Cool the snap peas in a container of ice water.
     Drain off the water and chill the snap peas.
     Step 2:  Place 2 1/2 cups of mixed baby lettuce in a salad bowl.
     Add 1/4 cup of sliced peeled cucumber.
     Add 1/2 cup of a combination of these ingredients:
     - thin sliced onion rings  
     - thin sliced green bell pepper rings
     - thin sliced carrot
     Step 3:  Toss the salad ingredients together.
     Mound the salad on the center of a plate.
     Step 4:  Place 6 plum tomato slices around the base of the salad.
     Spoon a generous portion of Thousand Island Dressing on the salad.
     Arrange the blanched sweet snap peas on top of the salad, so the snap peas point outward from center.
     Place a half of a boiled egg on the center of the snap peas.
     Garnish the egg with julienne sliced roasted red pepper.

     Sweet snap peas add a nice garden vegetable flavor.  This is a nice choice of salad for featuring a classic Thousand Island Dressing!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Whiskied Indiana Persimmon Pudding

     English Style Pudding
     There are many different kinds of regional pudding recipes around the globe.  Rice Puddings and Grain Puddings that are made with milk are popular nearly everywhere.  Maize Puddings are an ancient western world tradition.  Tapioca Pudding is a favorite in North American and Asia.  
     Egg Custard is also called pudding and it can be flavored with just about any dessert ingredient.  This style of pudding is often used to fill pastries.  Some Egg Custard style puddings are thickened with gelatin or cornstarch, but the best are tightened with only egg yolks.  
     Bread Puddings and Gratin Bread Desserts are a favorite in Europe and America.  Bread Pudding should not be confused with English Pudding.  Traditional puddings of the British Isles are kind of in a class of their own and by definition they are not pudding at all.  English Pudding more like a dense rich moist bread or cake that is as heavy as Lead.  This style of pudding has been popular ever since Medieval times.    
     Many Americans have never knowingly experienced English Pudding, because this style of pudding has a different name in this country.  Old traditional American fruitcake recipes from the colonial age are made like a baked, stirred, heavy English Pudding.  

     English style puddings were a commonplace item during the early American colonial age.  The original fruitcakes from the 1500's and 1600's were made with a heavy fruit puree, milk and egg batter, just like how English Pudding is made.  The English style heavy batter is stirred occasionally as it is baked or steamed.  The result is a very dense heavy texture that is loaded with rich flavor.  
     Later in American history, the English Pudding style fruit cakes were made with a moderately heavy cake batter.  This style of fruit cake was not stirred as it baked, so the texture was a little bit less dense.  However, after the fruit cake finished baking, it was covered with cheese cloth, then it was saturated with red wine and brandy.  The liquor drenched fruit cake was chilled for several days before it was served.  The end result was a fruit cake that was almost as heavy as English Pudding.    

     My own family has been in the Americas ever since my long lost English relatives were placed in charge of colonies in the mid 1500's.  The old family's fruitcake recipe has been around since the colonial days and it is made like an English pudding.  The old family fruitcake turns out heavy and rich tasting beyond belief.  A soft fruit puree is part of fruitcake pudding batter recipe.  
     My grandmother was really big on keeping the fruitcake recipe a secret for some reason.  Over the years, I figured out the old family fruitcake recipe.  Part of the insight came from making today's version of Indiana Persimmon Pudding.  The Indiana style Persimmon Pudding tastes exactly like the old family fruitcake batter recipe.  Native Persimmons were available in the colonies that my family occupied many generations ago, so the secret family fruit cake ingredient came to light.          

     Persimmon Pudding is an old traditional American Thanksgiving and Christmas dessert.  This is because harvested persimmons ripen at nearly the same time that these holidays pop up on the calendar.  
     Indiana is persimmon tree haven.  There are many great traditional Indiana Persimmon Pudding recipes available in book form and at internet websites.  There are many recipe variations that include minor changes, like the addition of cream or certain spices.  
     Overall, the basic ingredients are nearly the same in every persimmon pudding recipe.  The persimmon pudding batter proportions are almost the same as a baked English style fruit pudding batter.  The amount of butter is the same.  The technique of baking and stirring, till the pudding becomes caramelized and brown is the same. 
     Traditional Indiana Persimmon Pudding is never made with Scotch Whisky, Bourbon or Brandy, but these liquors can add a nice complimentary flavor.  It takes a substantial amount of whisky to flavor a persimmon pudding, so replacing the milk with cream is necessary, so the whisky does not thin the rich pudding batter.  
     Some traditional persimmon pudding recipes require no spices.  Others are heavily spiced.  A small amount of winter dessert spices goes a long way in today's recipe, because the heavy nature of the persimmon pudding batter seems to amplify the winter spice flavor.  It is important to go light when adding spices or the persimmon flavor will be overwhelmed.  
     The classic choice of persimmon is a varietal that is native to the Americas.  For a richer sweeter persimmon pudding, mixing 1 large Asian Persimmon with 2 American persimmons creates a deeper persimmon flavor. 

     Persimmon Preparation:
     • About 1 1/4 cups of persimmon puree is needed for today's recipe.  2 American Persimmons plus 1 Asian Persimmon will yield about 1 1/4 cups of puree.       
     • Persimmons take a long time to ripen.  Persimmons will not ripen quickly at room temperature.  The fastest way to ripen persimmons is to place them in a refrigerator.  The persimmons have to be ripe, juicy and soft.  Hard persimmons will ripen in less than 2 weeks when refrigerated.  A persimmon is ripe when the skin starts to split open.  
     • The easiest way to prepare persimmons is to boil the whole ripe persimmons over high heat for about 3 minutes.  Cool the persimmons in cold water.  Then squeeze the pulp out of the skin into a mixing bowl.  Discard the skin and the stem bulb.  
     After the pulp is gathered, use a blender, food processor or blending wand to puree the persimmon fruit pulp.
     • Be sure to measure the volume of the prepared persimmon pulp puree.  Any extra puree can be saved for other recipes.                  

     Whiskied Indiana Persimmon Pudding:
     This recipe yields 5 to 8 portions of Persimmon Pudding, depending on the serving size!
     Persimmon pudding is notoriously heavy.  Portions can be cut small and they still will be very filling.  Each molded persimmon pudding in the pictures above is actually a double portion for two guests! 
     • Persimmon pudding has to be baked in a bain marie (baked in a ceramic dish that is placed in a water bath).  
     • Persimmon pudding has to be stirred once every 15 minutes while it bakes.  It takes nearly 2 hours for persimmon pudding to finish baking, so this recipe requires a timer and some devoted cooking skills.  One simply cannot get too far away from the oven when baking persimmon pudding!  
     At first, stirring the pudding is like stirring a custard.  After about 30 minutes, it is like stirring a wet cake.  After about an hour, it is like stirring a dense damp crumbly cake.  Finally the caky textured pudding browns and the task is finished.   
     • After the entire batch is browned, it can be spooned into individual portion molds, double portion size molds or one large casserole dish mold.  The pudding should only be lightly pressed into the mold, or it will be so dense that only a couple of bites will cause guests to feel stuffed.
     Step 1:  Measure 2 cups of all purpose flour.  
     Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda.
     Sift the ingredients into a container and set it aside.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 cups of cream. 
     Add 1 cup of Blended Scotch Whisky.
     Add 1/4 cup of whole milk.
     Heat the liquid till it becomes warm.  (About 120ºF)
     Step 3:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Add 1 pinch of ground clove.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger.
     Add 1 pinch of allspice.
     Add 1 pinch of cinnamon. 
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.
     Set the Whiskey Cream aside.
     Step 4:  Place 1 1/4 cups of persimmon pulp puree in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 large egg.
     Add 1/4 cup of granulated sugar.
     Add 1/4 cup of light brown sugar. 
     Stir with a whisk, till the ingredients are blended.
     Step 5:  Alternate adding equal size small portions of the Whisky Cream Mixture and the Persimmon Puree to the flour, while constantly stirring with a whisk, till all the ingredients are combined.  The pudding mixture should look like a pale orange color heavy cake batter.    
     Step 6:  Brush a large wide ceramic casserole baking dish with melted unsalted butter.
     Pour the persimmon pudding batter in the baking dish.  The batter level should be about 2" deep. 
     Step 7:  Cut 1 ounce of chilled unsalted butter into small pieces.
     Scatter the butter pieces on top of the pudding. 
     Place the baking dish in a roasting pan.
     Add enough water to the roasting pan, so the water is about 2" up the sides of the pudding casserole dish.  
     Step 8:  Bake in a 350ºF oven.  
     Set a timer for 15 minutes.
     Remove the pudding from the oven once every 15 minutes and stir the pudding.  Just a few stirs with a small spoon to break up the clumps is plenty.  
     Bake for about 2 hours, till the entire pudding becomes a medium brown color.  
     Step 9:  Lightly brush a large serving pudding mold or several small portion molds with unsalted butter.
     Spoon the persimmon pudding into the molds.
     Lightly press the pudding into the molds.  
     Allow the pudding to cool to room temperature.
     Step 10:  Serve immediately or cover each pudding and chill for later use.  
     The pudding has to be allowed to warm to room temperature before it is served.  Persimmon pudding can also be warmed to about 135ºF.  

     The persimmon pudding at the top of the page was garnished with Whisked Crème Fraiche, Lemon Gelée and Cherry Moonshine Syrup.  Lemon sauce of any kind is a classic choice for persimmon pudding.  

     Lemon Gelee Sauce:
     Making a clear lemon jelly sauce with 1 part apple pectin, 3 parts sugar and 4 parts diluted lemon juice is done by simmering the three ingredients in a pan till they thicken to a thin syrup consistency.  This lemon gelee can be pour over a pudding like a clear gelatin glaze.

     Cherry Moonshine Syrup:
     Cherry Moonshine syrup is made by simmering 1 part cherry moonshine and 2 parts sugar, till it reduces to a syrup consistency.

     Marischino cherries or moonshine cherries are both good for decorating a persimmon pudding presentation. 

     Glacage Blanc:
     Glacage Blanc is made by whisking 1 egg white with powdered sugar at room temperature.  
     About a 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar to 1 egg white will produce a thin glacage that barely coats a pudding and it is more like a sauce.  The dome shaped pudding example above was covered with thin glacage blanc and cherry moonshine syrup was streamed over the glacage to create an interesting effect. 

     A thick glacage blanc requires 3 to 4 cups of powdered sugar per egg white.  The sugar must be slowly added while whisking, till the glacage becomes a consistency that can easily coat a spoon.  
     It is best to place a chilled pudding on a wire screen roasting rack that is set on a drip pan, then pour the thick glacage over the pudding.  Place the drip pan and everything in a refrigerator till the glacage sets.  A spatula can be used to transfer the glacage coated pudding to a plate.  This method was used to make the heart shaped pudding in the photos above.

     Red food coloring or cherry juice can be used to give glacage blanc a pink or red color.  The addition of liquid may require more powdered sugar to be added.
     Maraschino cherry juice or rose water are both nice flavors for a pink color glacage.  I used rose water the flavor the pink heart shaped pudding.  

     Persimmon pudding can be decorated with just about anything.  Making a creative nice looking presentation always impresses guests.  A little bit of extra effort goes a long way!

Open Face Roast Pork Loin Sandwich with Bourbon Gravy and Roasted Leeks ~ Curry Dill Mashed Potato

     Gourmet American Diner Cuisine!
     Open Face Sandwiches are classic American diner fare.  An open face sandwich is simply meat and gravy over slices of bread.  The bread usually is not toasted.  The meat choice is beef or turkey at most diner restaurants  Plain beef gravy or turkey gravy is the traditional sauce.  Occasionally mushroom gravy is offered too.  There is not much variation in a traditional diner style open face sandwich recipe.  This simple sandwich can be great if all the ingredients are made from scratch the old fashioned way.
     Roast Pork is sometimes offered as an open face sandwich at American diner restaurants too.  A Roast Pork Open Face Sandwich blue plate special is a real crowd pleaser.  When this sandwich is made with roast pork shoulder, it sells for a low price and the portion size is generous.
     The problem with a Roast Pork Shoulder Open Face Sandwich is excessive fat.  Pork shoulder can be quite fatty.  Roast Pork Loin is leaner, so it is a healthier choice.  The pork loin fat cap can be trimmed so it is about 1/8" thick, so the roasted sputtering fat flavor is retained.  The thin fat cap also keeps the lean pork loin meat moist.
     Modern gourmet diner chefs do like to fancy up the old classic diner stye recipes.  Today's Open Face Sandwich recipe is a little bit on the gourmet side of the road!  I kept the goal of retaining comfortable classic flavors when making this modern open face sandwich recipe.  Bourbon Gravy and Roasted Leeks have appealing flavors that taste good with pork.  
     Curry Dill Mashed Potatoes: 
     This recipe yields 2 portions.
     Step 1:  Boil an 8 ounce peeled russet potato in a sauce pot of salted water over medium high heat, till it is soft enough to mash.
     Drain the water off of the potato.
     Keep the potato in the warm pot off of the heat.
     Step 2:  Add 1 tablespoon of softened unsalted butter.
     Add 2 tablespoons of cream.
     Add sea salt to taste.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of garam masala.
     Add 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh dill weed.
     Step 3:  Whisk the potato mixture till it is smooth and creamy.
     Place the curry dill mashed potatoes into a star tipped pastry bag.
     Keep the potatoes warm on a stove top or in a 135ºF bain marie.

     Bourbon Pork Gravy:
     This recipe yields about 1 2/3 cups.  (2 generous portions)
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour while constantly stirring.
     Constantly stir the roux, till it is a blonde color.
     Step 2:  Add 1/4 cup of ham broth.
     Add 1 1/2 cups of pork broth.
     Add 1/2 cup of Kentucky Sour Mash Bourbon Whiskey.
     Occasionally whisk the gravy occasionally as it heats and thickens to a very thin consistency.
     Bring the gravy to a gentle boil.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Simmer and reduce the gravy till it is a medium thin consistency that easily coats a spoon.  
     Keep the gravy warm over very low heat.
     Roast Pork Loin: 
     This recipe yields 1 hearty portion.
     Step 1:  Select a lean 8 ounce piece of boneless pork loin.
     Trim the fat cap, so it is about 1/8" thick.
     Season the pork loin with sea salt and black pepper.
     Place the section of pork loin on a wire screen roasting rack on a roasting pan.
     Step 2:  Cut 1 or 2 green section of a leek, so they are about 5" long.
     Cut the 2 green leek sections into long thin julienne strips.
     Mound the leek strips on top of the pork loin.  (The leek strips should completely cover the pork roast.)
     Drizzle a little bit of blended olive oil over the leek strips.
     Step 3:  Roast the leek covered pork loin section in a 325ºF oven.
     Step 4:  After about 10 minutes check the leeks.
     When the leeks are caramelized, remove the pan from the oven.
     Use tongs to remove the leek strips and set them on a small platter.
     Keep the roasted leeks warm on a stove top.
     Step 5:  Return the pork loin to the oven.
     Finish roasting the pork, till it is fully cooked.
     Keep the roast pork loin warm on a stove top.

     Open Face Roast Pork Loin Sandwich with Bourbon Gravy, Roasted Leeks and Curry Dill Mashed Potato:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty entrée.
     A fancy bread, like Marble Rye Bread, adds eye appeal. 
     Step 1:  Cut 2 slices of Marble Rye Bread in half.
     Overlap the bread slice halves across a plate as a bed for the roasted pork loin.
     Spoon a little bit of the gravy over the bread slices.
     Step 2:  Cut the roast pork loin into thin slices.
     Overlap the pork loin slices on top of the bread.
     Step 3:  Pipe the Curry Dill Mashed Potatoes on the plate with the pastry bag.
     Place a vegetable of your choice next to the potatoes.
     Step 4:  Spoon a generous portion of the Bourbon Pork Gravy over the sliced pork loin and bread.
     Place the roasted leek strips on top of the sliced pork loin.
     Garnish the plate with an Italian Parsley sprig.
     This is a nice plate of modern gourmet American diner food! 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Trotters 'n' Turnip Greens with Pot Liquor ~ Soul Food!

     Roasted Pig Feet Simmered With Turnip Greens!
     Soul Food simply is old fashioned down home cooking!  Before the 1960's, Soul Food was just called down home country style food.  Southern food, poor folk food, farm food and country style food can all be called food for the soul, because a lot of good heart goes into the cooking.
     Soul Food really has no race, creed or color.  It does not matter who you are or what social stature you may have.  Soul Food puts meat on the bones and creates a good feeling inside.  This kind of food feeds the body and soul.  This is what good old fashioned down home cooking is all about!

     As one can imagine, not a drop of flavor is wasted when cooking any kind of down home style food.  In today's recipe, the broth that the turnip greens and trotters were simmering in is called Pot Liquor (Pot Likker).  Pot Liquor is not only loaded with flavor, it contains tons of nutrients that are easily digested.  Pot Liquor quickly rejuvenates a tired body that has worked hard all day and it helps to keep illness away.

     There is very little meat in pigs feet. The soft glutinous cartilage in pigs feet is nice to nibble on.  After slow simmering, plenty of the glutinous cartilage compounds are cooked into the broth. Gelatinous soft cartilage compounds actually build strong tendons, strong heart valves and strong joints.
     When selecting fresh Pig Feet, just look for ones that look plump and fresh.  Be sure that the pig feet have a USDA Stamp of Approval, because not all pig feet are fit for human consumption.  Some Pig Feet are sold as crab trap bait.  If the fresh pig feet are sold whole, be sure to ask the butcher to split them in half lengthwise.  It literally takes a meat saw to split trotters in half.
     Turnip Greens are full of minerals and nutrients.  Turnip Greens have a flavor that tastes like turnips and kale.  Turnip Greens cook do not require much time to cook and they take much less time to cook than Collard Greens.
     Classic Soul Food requires very little seasoning.  The seasoning of today's recipe is very basic.  The caramelized onions almost completely melt into the pot liquor after slow simmering.  One small jalapeño chile pepper is enough to add a nice mild spicy flavor.
     Trotters 'n' Turnip Greens:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty portion.
     Step 1:  Place 3 pig feet halves on a small roasting pan, with the skin side facing down.
     Add enough water to the pan, so that the water is halfway up the sides of the pigs feet.
     Season the pigs feet meat with sea salt and black pepper.
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of of these spices on the pig feet:
     - cayenne pepper.
     - garlic powder.
     - onion powder.
     Step 2:  Slow roast the pigs feet in a 275ºF oven.
     Flip the pig feet occasionally, so they roast evenly.
     Roast the pig feet till the meat is fully cooked and the skin turns a golden color.
     Take the pan out of the oven and set it aside.  Do not discard the broth!
     Step 3:  Heat a large sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of bacon grease.
     Add 1/3 cup of small chopped onion.
     Add 1 chopped garlic clove.
     Add 1 chopped green onion.
     Sauté till the onions are a golden brown color.
     Step 4:  Add 1 chopped seeded small green jalapeño pepper.
     Add the roasted trotters and the roasting pan broth.
     Add just enough water to cover the trotters.
     Add 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar.
     Simmer till the onions are tender enough to just about melt into the broth.  Add water as necessary.
     Step 5:  Trim 1 bunch of washed turnip greens.  (Cut off any thick fibrous stalks and tear off any bruised or damaged leaf parts.)
     Place the turnip greens in the pot.
     Stir till the turnip greens wilt.
     *Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning with sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 6:  Cover the pot with a lid.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer the turnip greens till they are very tender.
     Step 7:  Remove the pot lid.
     Raise the temperature to medium heat.
     Rapidly simmer and reduce the pot liquor, till only about 1 cup remains.
     Keep the Trotters 'n' Turnip Greens warm over very low heat.
     Place the trotters on a shallow plate or shallow stew bowl.
     Place the turnip greens on the center of the plate.
     Pour the pot liquor over the greens.
     Delicious healthy Trotters 'n' Turnip Greens!    

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tamarind Bourbon BBQ Spare Ribs with Cilantro Potato Salad

     Awesome Tasting BBQ!
     I posted a Tamarind BBQ Sauce recipe a few years ago and the naturally tangy flavor was nice.  Tamarind Fruit is a perfect choice for making BBQ sauce.  Tamarind has a rich deep fruity sour flavor and it is used in many tropical recipes worldwide.  Tamarind also flavors soft drinks and Worcestershire Sauce.  
     Since Tamarind is part of cola soft drink recipes, adding Bourbon to a Tamarind BBQ Sauce seemed like a good idea.  Bourbon and cola cocktails are a favorite of many people.  Tamarind Bourbon BBQ Sauce tastes kind of like a combination of Bourbon Cola Cocktail that is mixed Whiskey Sour Mix and Simple Syrup.  This is and outstanding BBQ sauce flavor for pork ribs!
     Just combining the basic ingredients to make today's BBQ sauce and settling for a flavor that tastes like it came out of a cocktail bar is not enough.  Caribbean barbacoa spices and ginger were added and this rounds out the flavor.  
     Like many BBQ sauces, it is best to make the sauce, then refrigerate the sauce for 24 hours.  This is especially true for a Tamarind BBQ Sauce.  Chilling the sauce for 1 day lets the flavors meld and mellow.  After the sauce is reheated, the sauce flavor tastes much more refined and balanced.  

     Balancing the tangy Tamarind flavor with a sweet flavor is not easy to do with granulated sugar.  Vinegar must be used in the sauce and it increases the sour flavor.  Modern granulated sugar is just too refined and the sweet flavor is too pure.  Brown Sugar is a little better for BBQ sauce making, but there is something better.  The best sugar choice for making a Tamarind BBQ Sauce is Palm Sugar.  Palm Sugar effectively balances the tangy flavor.  This is why Palm Sugar and Tamarind go hand in hand, in many Southeast Asian cuisines.  
     Palm Sugar has a strong flavor and it is expensive.  For BBQ sauce applications, mixing Palm Sugar with light brown sugar is okay to do, because no flavor is lost.
     BBQ Spare Rib Information:
     Today's recipe requires a half rack of spare ribs.  A half rack of spare ribs is considered to be 1 large portion.  
     The ribs are first dry rubbed with a mild seasoning mixture.  The ribs can be slow baked in an oven or slow smoked in a meat smoker, till they become fully cooked.  The temperature must be kept to about 250º.  
     After roasting or smoking, the rack is cut into individual ribs.  The ribs are then finished on a hot char grill with the sauce.  This is a standard method for cooking BBQ ribs.  BBQ restaurants and many backyard BBQ cooks use this method, because it works well. 

     Tamarind Bourbon BBQ Sauce:
     This recipe yields enough sauce for 1 full rack of spare ribs or 1 1/2 racks of trimmed spare ribs.    
     Blocks of pressed dried tamarind are available at Asian food markets.  Select a block that is labeled as being seedless.  Even though the label says seedless, the fruit must be checked for seeds after it reconstitutes in warm water.
     Palm Sugar is also available in Asian food markets.  
     Step 1:  Place 1/2 cup of pressed seedless dried tamarind fruit in a sauce pot over low heat.
     Add 4 cups of water. 
     Simmer till the fruit becomes tender.
     Stir and check for any tamarind seeds.  Remove the seeds if any are found.
     Step 2:  Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger powder.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of allspice.
     Add 1 teaspoon of onion powder.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder. 
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of coriander.
     Add 3 pinches of cumin.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of white pepper.
     Step 3:  Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 2 seeded dried chile puya.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Spanish Paprika.
     Step 4:  Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1 1/3 tablespoons of cider vinegar.  (4 teaspoons)
     Add 3/4 cup of Kentucky Sour Mash Bourbon.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of Worcestershire Sauce.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of dijon mustard.
     Add 1/4 cup of brown sugar.
     Add 1/4 cup of palm sugar.
      Step 5:  Gently simmer the sauce, till the flavors meld.  (About 20 minutes) 
      Add sea salt to taste.  (A little more than 1/4 teaspoon)
      *Tamarind fruit can vary in strength.  Taste the sauce to see if the sweet sour balance is okay.  Add a little bit more palm sugar if the sauce tastes too tangy. 
     Step 6:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Allow the very thin sauce to cool to less than 90ºF.
     Use a blending wand, food processor or blender to puree the sauce till it is very smooth.
     Step 7:  Place the thin BBQ sauce in a container.
     Chill the sauce for 24 hours in a refrigerator.
     Step 8:  Place the sauce in a sauce pot over medium low heat. 
     Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a medium thin consistency that can glaze a spoon.  (The finished volume should be about 2 1/3 cups of BBQ sauce.)
     Keep the sauce warm on a stove top.

     Spare Rib Dry Rub:
     A simple dry rub is all that is needed.  The sauce will add plenty of flavor!
     Place 2 teaspoons of sea salt in a small mixing bowl.
     Add 1 teaspoon of black pepper.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground anatto.
     Add 2 teaspoons of Spanish paprika.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of cumin.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Spare Rib Preparation:
     Step 1:  Lightly sprinkle the dry rub mixture on a rack of spare ribs.
     Rub the spices onto the meat.
     Place the ribs on a wire screen roasting rack on a roasting pan.
     Step 2:  Slow roast the rack in a 250ºF oven or a meat smoker that is set to 230ºF.  
     *There should only be a thin wisp of smoke, if a smoker is used.  Use 3 parts white oak and 1 part hickory for the smoking mixture.
     Slow roast the ribs till the meat is fully cooked.  
     *The meat should recede from the tips of the bones by about 3/8 when the ribs are fully cooked.  The fat should be cooked enough to allow juices to sputter over the surface of the ribs.  The ribs should have an orangish red color tint with no excessive browning.
     Step 3:  Set the ribs aside and let them cool to room temperature.
     Use a knife to slice between each bone, to separate the individual ribs.  

     Cilantro Potato Salad:
     This recipe yields 2 portions.
     Step 1:  Boil an 8 ounce russet potato in water over high heat.
     Cook the potato till it is tender, but not mushy.
     Cool the potato under cold running water.
     Chill the potato in a refrigerator.
     Step 2:  Scrape the skin off of the potato with the back of a paring knife.
     Dice the potato into small cube shaped pieces.
     Step 3:  Place the diced potato in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced seeded green jalapeño pepper.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced onion.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of finely chopped gherkin dill pickle.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced green onion.
     Add 1 tablespoon of chopped red bell pepper.
     Add 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard.
     Step 4:  Add just enough mayonnaise to bind the ingredients together.
     Gently mix the potato salad.
     Chill the potato salad to 41ºF in a refrigerator.   

     Tamarind Bourbon BBQ Spare Ribs:
     *Indoor BBQ Method:  
     Sometimes it rains, so use this method if it does!  For indoor BBQ, the ribs can be finished by marking them on a ribbed cast iron grill.  Then the ribs can be cooked under a broiler.  Baste the ribs with the sauce often, till the sauce caramelizes on the ribs.
     *Outdoor BBQ Method:  
     Heat a chargrill to a medium/medium high temperature.
     Place the ribs on the grill.
     Cook the ribs till grill marks appear and the fat starts to sputter.
     Start basting the ribs with the Tamarind Bourbon BBQ Sauce.
     Baste and flip the ribs often, till the ribs become coated with a thin layer of glaze.
     Move the ribs to a low temperature spot.
     Tamarind Bourbon BBQ Spare Ribs with Cilantro Potato Salad:
     Stack the Tamarind Bourbon BBQ Spare Ribs on a serving platter.
     Pour a little bit of the Tamarind Bourbon Sauce on the plate around the ribs.
     Serve with a portion of Cilantro Potato Salad.
     Garnished the potato salad with a cilantro sprig.
     Serve with Texas Toast, corn on the cob or your favorite fixin's!  

     Deeeeeeeeelicious!  Tamarind Bourbon BBQ Spare Ribs is must to try!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Hawaiian Cherry Mango Pork Steak

     1940's Style Hawaiian Comfort Food!
     Pork Shoulder Blade Steaks are one of the cheapest cuts of pork that there is and they have some great flavor.  Today's Cherry Mango Sauce really dresses up this bargain priced cut of pork.  The glaze is made in a way that is similar to making mango chutney.
     Old fashioned Hawaiian style tropical fruit glazes for pork and ham were popular shortly after WWII ended.  In fact, America went through a Hawaiian style food craze nationwide back in those days.  Part of the reason why had to do with service personnel stationed in Hawaii bringing the local recipes back home.  Comfortable tropical Hawaiian Island food provided the stress relief that America needed at that time.

     Hawaiian chefs are some of the greatest pork cooking chefs that there is.  During the war era years, there was plenty of canned food around.  Hawaiian cooks used Canned Fruits Packed In Heavy Syrup to make sauces for pork, ham and Spam back in those days.  Soon every cook on the mainland started cooking Hawaiian style pork or ham glazed with canned fruit.  After a few years, Hawaiian style canned fruit glazed ham or pork became a standard American diner entrée.  Hawaiian style canned fruit glazed pork chops are still occasionally offered at low cost buffets.

     Cherry Mango Sauce:
     This recipe yields about 1 1/4 cups of thick glazed fruit sauce or enough for 1 pork blade steak.    
     Fresh fruit and dried fruit is use to make the glaze, instead of the 1940's style canned fruit and maraschino cherries.   
     Step 1:  Gently boil 2 cups of water in a sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 1/3 cup of sugar.
     Add 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar.
     *Taste the mixture.  The mixture should taste like a sweet and sour sauce.  Adjust the balance of sweet and sour flavor if necessary.
     Step 2:  Add 1/4 cup of finely chopped onion.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Add 3 tablespoons of chopped red bell pepper.
     Add 3 tablespoons of chopped dried cherries.
     Add 1/3 cup of small chopped fresh mango.
     Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of allspice.
     Add 1 small pinch of turmeric.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Step 3:  Return the sauce to a gentle boil.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce over low heat, till it is medium thick consistency with a minimum of excess liquid.
     Take the pot off the heat.
     Hawaiian Cherry Mango Pork Steak:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Step 1:  Remove the excess fat from a 12 to 14 ounce pork blade steak.
     Step 2:  Place 1/2 teaspoon of Indian Yellow Curry Powder in a small mixing bowl.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt.
     Add 2 pinches of black pepper.
     Season and dry rub the pork steak with the spice mixture.
     Step 3:  Refrigerate the seasoned spiced pork steak for 30 minutes.
     Step 4:  Place the pork steak on a broiler pan that is brushed with vegetable oil.
     Broil the pork steak on both sides, till it is fully cooked and it begins to caramelize with brown highlights.
     Remove the pan from the oven. 
     Step 5:  Spoon 1/3 of the Cherry Mango Glaze on the pork steak.
     Cook the sauced pork steak under a broiler, till the glaze lightly caramelizes.
     Step 6:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Flip the steak over.
     Spoon the remaining Cherry Mango Glaze on the pork steak.
     Return the pan to the broiler.
     Broil till the fruit glaze bubbles and lightly caramelizes
     Remove the pan from the broiler.
     Place the pork steak on a plate.
     Sprinkle lightly toasted shredded coconut across the back edge of the pork steak.
     Serve with a potato and vegetable of your choice.
     *The Hawaiian Cherry Mango Pork Steak in the pictures was served with asparagus, roasted eggplant and roasted garlic Thai basil mashed potatoes. 
     This is a delicious Hawaiian style pork steak recipe!