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Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Norwegian Dawn Repositioning Cruise To New Orleans From Boston



It matters, your rest that is. Everyone needs a break from the day to day, even the day to day is pretty good. The benefits of rest cannot be enumerated, they are just what you need. Go ahead admitted it, "I need a break" see don't you feel better just saying it? Now, do it. 

Recently Dianna took our break, I would like to say annual break, but not so, the last one was four years ago. After those four very trying, hard, difficult years we needed it. For us, our break is to enjoy a cruise.  So we contacted our travel agent (Diana-Lynn at Expedia Cruise Ship Centers) who booked us upon the Norwegian Dawn for a repositioning cruise to New Orleans From Boston.



NCL's first Dawn Class ship, Norwegian Dawn, features 12 different restaurants, nine bars and lounges, a spa, casino, Broadway-style theater, three pools, a fitness center and much more!
There is a wide range of accommodations available on board Norwegian Dawn, from interiors, ocean views and balconies to mini-suites, suites and a pair of humongous Garden Villas that's over 5,000-square-feet in size! All guests staying in one of Norwegian Dawn's full suites benefit from butler and concierge service.

One of the highlights of a Norwegian Dawn cruise is NCL's Freestyle Cruising concept, giving all guests on board this ship the flexibility and freedom that they desire. While on a Norwegian Dawn cruise you'll be able to eat where you want, when you want, and with whomever you want. You'll also be able to dress however you want and, at the end of your cruise, you'll be able to get off of the ship whenever you want.

There are a number of specialty restaurants on board Norwegian Dawn, offering the ship's guests an enhanced dining experience. Most of these venues have a per person cover charge, ($15-$30) but are well worth it. Among the specialty restaurants are Le Bistro (a French restaurant), Bamboo (a Chinese restaurant with a sushi bar and a Teppanyaki restaurant) La Cucina (a Itilain restaurant) Moderno Churrascaria (a Brazilian steakhouse) and Cagney's Steakhouse.

Leaving from Boston (we flew in just in time to catch the ship, and should have stayed a while to see this great city but we will return) the ship would sail for fours before reaching its first port of San Jaun, Puerto Rico. There would be five additional ports before coming to the final port of New Orleans, this other port's included Willemstad Curaçao (Netherland Antilles), Oranjestad  Aruba, Ocho Ricos Jamacia, George Town Grand Cayman, Cozumel Mexico. Each of these have their own Caribbean experience that is very different from the other or can be exactly the same should you desire that. All have the over hyped over priced jewelry stores that the ship also hypes, go to only those that recommend so they get a kick back from the store.  But if you're not shopping for some over priced trinket there is plenty to do on each island or if you prefer to do nothing at all these may be some of the best places in the world to accomplish that as well.

You will experience some wonderful sunrises and sunsets from the ship's deck before you venture on to experience what the remainder of the day has in store. However, this is a food blog so we really should get down to the food and the enjoyment or lack thereof of it. I do however want to begin with the end of the journey and will deal with the beginning and onward within the next writing. 



Mr. B's Bistro, New Orleans' Finest Creole Restaurant

Wow, is a very simple word, yet it is the perfect word to describe Mr. B's. They make the claim of being New Orleans finest Creole restaurant, wow, what a boast. Yet they truly live up to the boast. From a super friendly greeting at the door, reservation or not, to the impeccable service to a cuisine that leaves you wanting more and more and saying at each course, yes you guessed it, WOW.


After a fourteen day cruise, something beyond the food of the ship was greatly desired.  Not that it was bad, it was in fact pretty good given the fact that they had to daily feed a small town. But come on, this is New Orleans, and this is the one US city that has given the world not one, but two inspiring cuisines, Creole and Cajun foods, and yes, they inseparable and yet individual. Those who say they are just spicy food know little of the foods and the rich history behind them. So stepping off the ship I had a plan and an appetite to enjoy the city. Mr. B's was to be the first stop of many in the Brennan family restaurants.  

Located in the heart of the French Quarter at the intersection of Royal Street and Iberville and only two blocks from Owen Brennan's original restaurant, Brennans, (just reopening after renovations) the place to go for a Creole breakfast for more than 60 years.  The Mr. B's managing owner is one of the famous restaurant family members Cindy Brennan.

Ms. Brennan along with her Executive Chef Michelle McRaney  have created a Creole menu which pleases every taste, using the finest local seasonal ingredients. From Gumbo Ya Ya to Creole Catfish you will experience the excitement of the finest in Creole cuisine.  After experiencing other Brennan family restaurants, this one is the star, because they carry the proudly the family name,  the myth that makes a Brennans restaurant is still found in the care and concern placed within the dish served to the customer.  Mr B's lives up to the legend, not so with other Brennan named restaurants which we tried while in New Orleans.

Our meals began with a classic Seafood Gumbo, slow cooked dark roux noir, a medley of flavors perfectly blended in a seafood broth seasoned
just right, Gulf shrimp and crab makes you say (yep) with every spoonful. Served with a French style baguette, crisp and warm.

Next we ordered a signature dish of the restaurant, the Barbequed Shrimp. You can order this dish in nearly every Creole restaurant in the French Quarter, but you will not get a better dish than the one served at Mr. B's.

Barbequed shrimp is a bit of a mystery, said to be a creation of Pascal's Manale Restaurant on Napoleon Avenue in New Orleans  sometime back in the mid 1950's. Barbequed shrimp really has nothing to do with barbequing as most know it, no sweet ketchup spiced sauces, not grilled or hard wood smoked.  The story goes that a regular customer to Pascals had just returned from a trip to Chicago, where he enjoy an entree of shrimp, a lot of pepper and loads of butter simmered into a rich sauce. Chef Jake Radosta promised a dish exactly like the Chicago one, when served to the customer he declared it was not like the one he ate in the north, it was by far better. Once placed on the menu people came from near and far to have it and soon, like many New Orleans creations, every other restaurant was attempting to duplicate the delightful dish. I have no idea if Mr. B's has the original recipe, but unquestionably  they have perfected it. If you purchase their cookbook you can create the exact dish at home as well. But why cook when they will it for you. You will enjoy a large plump gulf head on prawns, slowly simmered in a sauce of butter, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, lemon and Creole seasonings. Again served with the warm, crispy French bread. Wow.

Enjoy your meal with a fine wine which the restaurant has a great selection of and of course do dessert. You leave fed up with this restaurant saying "wow, I just dined at New Orleans finest Creole restaurant".

Chef K's BBQ'd Shrimp Louisanna Style
16 jumbo shrimp (12 per pound, about 1 1/2 pounds), with heads and not peeled
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Chef Ks hot sauce
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons Chef Ks Creole seasoning
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cubed
French bread as accompaniment 

In a large cast iron skillet, combine shrimp, Worcestershire, hot sauce, lemon juice, black peppers, Creole seasoning, and garlic and cook over moderately high heat until shrimp turn pink, about 1 minute on each side. Reduce heat to moderate and stir in butter, a few cubes at a time, stirring constantly and adding more only when butter is melted. Remove skillet from heat. Place shrimp in a bowl and pour sauce over top. Serve with French bread for dipping.

Shrimp & Crab Gumbo
3 tablespoons lard, shortening or rendered bacon fat
3 tablespoon flour
1 each onion, yellow, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 each green bell pepper, chopped
2 cups tomatoes, peeled and diced
2 cups seafood broth
1 tbsp Chef K's Creole seasoning
1 sprig thyme
Salt and pepper
10 oz. Okra, sliced into small pieces
1 pound shrimp 21-25 count, peeled, de-veined
1/2 pound crab meat
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 pinches cayenne pepper
1 dash Tabasco

Preparation:
In a heavy skillet, add the butter and melt, add the flour and over low heat, cook into a very dark roux (black, roux noir),add and  sauté the onion, celery and green pepper in the roux for a couple of minutes. Then add the tomatoes, broth, Chef K seasoning, herbs, salt and pepper. Simmer for about 20 minutes.Add the Okra and Shrimp and cook for about 5 more minutes, until shrimp are done. Adjust heat with cayenne and hot sauce. Serve over cooked white rice.

Notes on gumbo thickening agents,
There are three primary ways to thicken a great gumbo, all have very faithful followings and will produce an excellent gumbo. 

Okra, actually the word gumbo is an African word for okra, many African stews are thickened with this small vegetable. Mucilage is found in okra pods. Made of sugar residues called exopolysacharrides and proteins called glycoproteins, mucilage's viscosity increases when heat is applied. This is good for thickening dishes. Also known as Lady Finger, okra is cultivated in warm temperate regions and valued for its fibrous pods.  Okra can be fried, served raw, marinated in salads or cooked on its own, and goes well with tomatoes, onions, corn, peppers, and eggplant. 

Filé powder, also called gumbo filé, is an herb made from the dried and ground leaves of the sassafras tree.  Filé can provide thickening when okra is not in season. Added to the soup just prior to serving. First used by the Choctaw Indians from Louisiana bayou region. Today the powder is used to both thicken and flavor gumbo.  Most would remember Hank Williams song Jambalaya on the Bayou, my favorite version of CCR https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrUmGakCRdE

Roux (roo) this is the basis of most great soups and sauces that require thickening. Simply white enriched flour cooked in fat to differing stages.  The fat can vary from butter, to oils, to shortening or bacon fat, each will have a different stage that will cause it to burn when heat is applied, butter have the lowest point, oil next, then shortening, lard and finally animal fats.
The making of the roux requires one to heat the fat over medium heat, then sprinkle in the flour, cooking it in various stages (colors) depending upon the final desired result.  
Once the roux has achieved the desired stage then and, only then can other ingredients be added, if adding liquid be sure that the liquid is at a much cooler temperature than the hot roux to prevent clumping of the flour.  Use a whisk (whip) to add the liquid slowly to the hot roux. This will vary if you are adding other ingredients before the liquid as in the Trinty mix for gumbo.
White roux:  cook the flour and fat for 4 minutes until the flour has lost its raw texture and taste but no coloring has changed. Use for chowders, cream sauces, Southern white gravy.
Blond roux: Blond, or golden roux, has cooked, approximately 20 minutes to a light, golden-brown shade with an aroma resembling popcorn or toasted bread. This is the most commonly-used roux, desired for the richness and a slight nuttiness it provides along with its excellent thickening power. Blond roux is a good, general-purpose roux to keep on hand for thickening stock-based sauces, soups, stews, chili and wine based sauces.
Brown Roux
Brown Roux  or Walnut roux has cooked, about 35 minutes until it reaches to a walnut brown color. Its aroma is more pronounced and sharper than the nutty smell of blond roux. Cooked to this stage, flour begins to loose its thickening power, requiring more roux to thicken a given amount of liquid.
Dark Brown Roux
Roux Noir is yet even darker than the preceding brown roux, dark brown roux has cooked, approximately 45 minutes until it is the color of melted chocolate. Its aroma is mellower than the strong, roasted flavor of brown roux, and will actually smell a little like chocolate. This stage has the least thickening power of all four; its main purpose is as a flavoring agent with thickening secondary.

Of course, there is the Cafe du Monde in  the French Quarter as a must visit for beignets  and chicory infused coffee.  
You also must have a Praline from New Orleans or you simply have not experienced the real  N'awlins.


N'awlins Pralines
1 1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 cups pecan halves
3/4 cup light cream
2 Tbsp salted butter
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 300 F. Place pecan halves on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast for 10 minutes, turning once. Let cool.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Mix together white and brown sugar and baking soda in a 3-quart saucepan. Stir in light cream and place over medium to medium-high heat. Cook, whisking occasionally, until mixture reaches 240°F (soft ball stage) on a candy thermometer (about 25 minutes). Slight foaming and occasional bubbling in the mixture (it looks like it’s gasping) are normal at this stage.
Once the temperature reaches 235 F, add the butter and stir until the butter is fully melted and the mixture is well combined (about 1 minute).
Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the vanilla and pecans until well coated. Using a wooden spoon, beat the mixture vigorously for about 5 minutes. Quickly drop by spoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets. Let cool completely. Work quickly so the mixture does not set on you.
Store in an airtight container for up to 3-5 days.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Meeting Dining Expectations

Expectation, this is what every restaurant customer walks through the door with, more than the company they intend to keep, more than the dollars they willing to part with, more than what lay in wait for the remainder of the evening, they have had expectations. The expectation varies with each individual for they are seeking satisfaction of their very needful expectation. Depending on the style of the restaurant the expectation will be subject to change in most areas except one, receiving the finest meal for the dollar (large or small) that is exchanged in accomplishing expectation.

Disappointing the expectation is the loss of the customer? Perhaps not, but more importantly, it is the dissolution of the faith the customer has placed within those who have promised to meet those expectations. When a menu offers an item prepared in a certain manner does it come that way or have the promises made upon the menu met with a disappointing lack of concern for the expectation of all concerned. There becomes an unwritten partnership in service within a restaurant where each one involved in that partnership has duties and expectations.

 First the customer, the most important partner, for without the customer there can no longer be a need for the business. The customer is the one who comes with the highest of expectation and will quickly dissolve the relationship when those expectations go unfulfilled. A promise of a creamy risotto, which turns into nothing more than gruel, a sherry laced lobster bisque which becomes a cold cayenne infused liquid or jumbo sea scallops that are really nothing more than bay scallops all lead to the ruin of the expectations and a dissolution of the partnership. The customer knows one thing for a certainty, there is another restaurant just around the corner or right next door and they are quickly willing to change the partner they presently have.

Keep in mind that beyond the expectation of a wonderful meal all the expectations that follow do so based on implied promises found within or upon the pages of the menu. Right there in the menu item description. When one fails that, they fail self and that is where faith is lost. Not fulfilling the written promise is tantamount to breaking a written covenant with your partner. What the menu promises create's the expectation of the customer, "the most delicious house baked cheesecake you ever had" does not mean it comes out the freezer sent directly in by the food service purveyor, it means the restaurant staff made it. When you go cheap on your customer, you quickly have no customers. The menu reads "we use only the finest, freshest, local ingredients" yet the pantry and refrigeration are filled with pre-made heat and serve or instant product. A lie on the menu is still a lie and a slap in the face of your partner the customer. An unhappy customer must viewed as nothing more than a failure to meet expectations, not only theirs but our own as well.

Every chef comes to the position with the expectation of his/her ability being well received. These expectations define the present and the future of the chef. Compromising personal and instructed standards only lessens the opportunity to meet the expectations and makes cheap the skills of the chef.

A chef who has a passion for his/her cuisine and has maintained that passion knows every dish is the reflection of that passion. A chef is as only as good as the dish he/she is serving at any given moment. Being sure of your ability provides a confidence in the customer but being true to your word meets the expectation of the customer. A no compromising attitude only goes to fulfilling all the partners expectations. Many kitchens are under the management of those willing to part with what their skills have taught them in an effort to save a few pennies per plate, before long less customers are coming and the slide to the destruction of the restaurant has begun, simply because of compromise and failure to meet expectations.

Culinary education, high standards and skills are only as good as the effort made to make use of them. If you possess them, then there must be an expectation to use them, not to meet that expectation is fail self and all others.

Touting those skills on social media and internet only goes to accomplish the reason they exist, that is to feed the expectation of a new or existing client. Here more than ever the maintaining those standards and meeting the expectations carry their weight in gold. This of course means the photography of menu items placed online, be sure that the same dishes served in the restaurant match the pictures, you set the expectation with the photo, did you meet it? Those who use this media (more all the time) do not hesitate to express both the fulfilling and failure through the social media sites, where word of mouth may affect up to a few hundred people now social media affect thousands. What is stated on line must be truthful and complete.

Front of the house staff to have expectations, when the expectation of their customer is left unfulfilled, the good ones, take it as a personal slight and feel somewhat that they have failed. They have when the failure is completely within their control, being inattentive, sluggish, or distracted fails the expectation of the consumer. However the majority of a server problem is kitchen related, the customer tends to forget the server is the transportation department simply delivering what the kitchen has been ordered to prepare by the customer, who expects exactly what they desired. It is the server who hears the disappointing moaning and groaning of the consumer not a kitchen who cares little for that consumer.

Managers and chefs who cannot fulfill on the menu promise crash the expectations of the customer in turn the customer crashes the expectation of the manager and chef by not returning. If the menu promises an item be sure you have it, and it is exactly what is stated. An 86 item makes no friends, every host or hostess should notify the customer of 86 items the moment the menu is presented thus eliminating any disappointed expectation. Every effort should be made to prevent this from happening, but they do, so handle with a little concern for the expectation of the customer.

Lobster Bisque
5 lbs lobster
10 cups water
4 tbsp butter
1 finely diced medium onion
1 minced garlic clove
1 finely diced celery
4 tbsp flour
1 cup peeled, seeded, diced tomatoes
3 oz tomato paste
1/3 cup sherry
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 cup whipping cream

Place the lobster in a large kettle. Cover with the water. Bring to a boil and boil for 30 minutes. Remove the crayfish and allow to cool. Remove the tail meat from the crayfish, reserve the meat, return the shells to water. Simmer the lobster shells until the water has reduced to 4 cups (1 L). Strain the broth, reserving it. Discard the shells.

In a large saucepan, heat the butter. Sauté the onion, garlic and celery until tender.

Sprinkle with flour and cook for 2 minutes over low heat.

Pour the crayfish broth over the vegetables. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, crayfish tails, sherry, salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Transfer the soup to a blender and puree. Return to the pot and continue to simmer for 5 minutes. Whip in the cream and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.

Serve very hot.

SERVES 4

SIMPLE FRIED SEA SCALLOPS

1 lb. Fresh sea scallops
2 Tbps. Butter
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 – 1/2 cup of dry white wine

Heat butter and thyme in a non-stick pan
Toss in the scallops and cook for a few minutes
Flip them over.
Deglaze the pan with a little white wine
Turn the heat off to let them finish cooking for a minute or two.
Place on risotto (follows).
Serves 4

SIMPLE SHRIMP RISOTTO

1½ cups arborio rice
1 qt seafood or fish stock
½ cup white wine
1 medium shallot or ½ small onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups peeled and de-viened 30/40 count shrimp
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp chopped Italian parsley
Kosher salt, to taste

Heat the stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan, then lower the heat so that the stock just stays hot. 

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the oil and 1 Tbsp of the butter over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the chopped shallot or onion. Sauté for 2-3 minutes or until it is slightly translucent.

Add the rice to the pot and stir it briskly with a wooden spoon so that the grains are coated with the oil and melted butter. Sauté for another minute or so, until there is a slightly nutty aroma. But don't let the rice turn brown.

Add the wine and cook while stirring, until the liquid is fully absorbed. Add a ladle of hot stock to the rice and stir until the liquid is fully absorbed. When the rice appears almost dry, add another ladle of stock and repeat the process.

Continue adding ladles of hot stock and stirring the rice while the liquid is absorbed. As it cooks, you'll see that the rice will take on a creamy consistency as it begins to release its natural starches. Continue adding stock, a ladle at a time, for 20-30 minutes or until the grains are tender but still firm to the bite, without being crunchy. If you run out of stock and the risotto still isn't done, you can finish the cooking using hot water. Just add the water as you did with the stock, a ladle at a time, stirring while it's absorbed.

Stir in the shrimp during the last five minutes of cooking the rice.

Stir in the remaining 2 Tbsp butter, the Parmesan cheese and the parsley, and season to taste with Kosher salt.

Serve at once, holding the rice even for a short time will turn it glutinous at the cost of the creamy sauce like texture, which is truly what you want.

NEW YORK STYLE CHEESECAKE

CRUST

3-½ cups graham cracker crumbs
1 tbsp cinnamon
¼ cup melted butter

FILLING

1.5 lbs cream cheese
2 cups granulated sugar
1-½ cups heavy cream
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp vanilla
4 eggs, room temperature
1-½ cups sour cream

CRUST

Combine crust ingredients. Press into the bottom and sides of a buttered 10" springform pan. Chill. Preheat the oven to 325F (160C).

FILLING

Beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the cream, lemon juice and vanilla, beat until well blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the sour cream. Pour mixture into prepared shell. Place the springform pan in a larger pan containing an inch of water. Bake in the oven until the center is set, about 90 minutes. Turn off the oven and prop door open slightly. After about 30 minutes transfer to a rack to cool, chill overnight.

Serve with fresh fruit or fruit sauce.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Algerian Baklava



For The Dough

4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups tepid water
1/4 cup olive oil

Directions

Sift flour and salt into a mixing bowl and add the water with oil.

Stir until forms soft dough, then knead in the bowl about 10 minutes.

Dough will feel sticky at first, but kneading, it should develop into a dough that becomes smooth and satiny.

When well mixed and smooth, wrap pastry in plastic wrap and leave it to rest at room temperature about one hour.

If not all the dough is being used right away, wrap the unused portion and keep chilled in the fridge up to a week.

Always bring to room temp before using.

Divide the pastry into 12 equal portions, shaping them into smooth balls.

Cover with a cloth, except the one you're working with.

Take a ball of dough, and shape it into a square.

Place it on a lightly floured surface, and roll into a 6 inch square using rolling pin, (or pass through a pasta roller until thin.)

Dust again with flour.

FILLING:

18 ounces chopped nuts, use almonds, walnuts, pecans, peanuts (your choice)
128 g granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
2 teaspoons melted ghee
155 ml orange flower water (mazhar)

For the Syrup

310-620 ml honey
155-310 ml orange flower water
310 ml extra of melted ghee, to brush the pastry with and enough whole nuts to decorate each piece of baklava.

In a saucepan, melt the ghee on a medium heat. Brush a tray with ghee using the pastry brush.
Lay a first strip of phyllo pastry vertically in the center of the tray. Brush the pastry with the melted ghee.
Repeat the dough rolling process. Cover the tray with phyllo, remembering to brush with ghee after each strip. You should be able to do this with 5 strips.

Turn the tray round so that you're placing the phyllo strips horizontally over vertical strips. This crisscross is very important.

Continue rolling the pastry and layering the tray. Brushing with the ghee after each strip, continue doing this until you have done 5 layers.

To prepare the nut filling. With a food processor and chop up the nuts.

Place the nuts in a mixing bowl and add the sugar, cinnamon, vanilla powder and mazhar - enough mazhar to make the filling to just form a smooth ball.

Place filling in the tray over the pastry, gently smoothing it out - but don't press it.

Repeat the dough rolling, layer, until you have 6 layers, brushing with the ghee.

When you've finished the 5th layer you can choose to do the top layer. Roll out one large sheet by hand.

If you want to try rolling out a sheet, remember to cover the dough, rolling pin, surface, your hands  etcetera in loads of corn flour. Then roll out the tray size, plus 2cm extra.

Now you need to cut the baklava and decorate.

Take your knife and cut vertical straight lines all the way to the bottom. (Approx. 2cm apart) then spin the tray round and cut more lines, diagonally to form diamond shapes. You can also make squares or triangles, but traditional Algerian baklava are diamonds, you may want to push a whole nut into each shape.

Brush well with the ghee and place in a pre-heated oven at 180 c for 1 hour - 1 hour 10 minutes.

The baklava should be golden and now needs it syrup: Warm the honey and mazhar in the saucepan then pour slowly over the baklava.


Allow to sit for 10 minutes, then cut out pieces and place in paper cases - preferably the metallic ones as they hold the syrup better.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

WARNING: DO NOT PUSH, PULL INSTEAD, CULINARY JOURNEY CONTINUES

WARNING: DO NOT PUSH, PULL INSTEAD PART 1    
        
We have seen some of the really great things of St.Louis, gooey butter cake, The Arch, The Hill yet we have yet to discuss two other very important areas to St. Louis lifestyle, and fortunately they good absolutely hand in hand. They are course barbecue and beer.  So lets take a look at these.

BARBECUE ST. LOUIS STYLE


Barbecue, BBQ, bar-b-q no matter how you say it the one thing you must say it is so good. Many believe grilling is barbecue, simply it is not, grillings is in essence fast cooking over high heat, barbecue is the completely the opposite, slow slow cooking with a very low heat source. Barbecue is given as a slang for any outdoor gathering, although these parties generally are more grilling events than a barbecuing event as none is usually served except maybe in the South and yes St. Louis is considered the south, even though it is above the Mason Dixon line..

Barbecue didn't actually begin in the south in fact, no one can really say where it began, perhaps with neanderthal man slowly roasting his meal of the day over the fire he just discovered as a use for flavoring that dinner. That course is the purpose of barbecue to use smoke from hard or fruit woods to place an essence within the meat. Marinated or not, rubbed with secret spice blends or commercially prepared ones the smoke is the most important ingredient in great barbecue (next to the item being smoked of course).  The making of beef jerky is barbecuing, smoked salmon,barbecuing, spit roasting, barbecuing, Hawaiian luau is a barbecue, pit cooking, barbecuing so there are many types of barbecuing it is the perfecting of it that makes it great.

Most barbecues that we know today has a wonderful history and the history is usually traceable to the new American's that settled in an area. It may have been introduced to the Americas from the Caribbean or from Europeans from Germany and France, certainly native Americans had some kind of barbecuing already here upon the arrival of the Mayflower.

Barbecue has adapted to the taste of the area as the people moved in and out. North Carolina serves a different style than South Carolina, St. Louis differs from Kansas City even though they just a few miles from one another. Louisiana will swear theirs is better than that found in Texas and vice versa.  Spices from African influences, chilies from Latin America, tomatoes (once discovered they were not poisonous) mustard, molasses and pure cane sugar and even good ole Kentucky bourbon all found their way into the creation of barbecue. The Germans introduced slow smoking pickled meats served along with a spicy coleslaw and German potato salad. The French and or the Germans brought mustard. Civil war cooks were able to barbecue to feed the war weary.  Beef, chicken, pig sausages vegetables all are barbecue and barbecue can be you too, or at least within you.

The discussion of barbecue is best had as we arrive in the state or area so that is what we will do as we continue on our culinary journey. So we can look forward to much BBQ the foremost regions would be: Alabama,  Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, so clearly our cruise is going to be delicious.

If you love barbecue sauce, then certainly St. Louis is the city to visit, it has the unofficial label of the city where the most BBQ sauce is consumed. The sauce here is generally a tomato based sauce, somewhat  sweet, tangy containing spices and vinegar, but without the addition of liquid smoke (invented in Kansas City by a local pharmacist. Perhaps we should write on the history of some these stables we now use without a second thought, Worcestershire, Soy, Tabasco, A1 Sauce, HP Sauce etc. ) St. Louis ribs are of course named for the city, these larger ribs are spare ribs with the sternum bone, cartilage and rib tips removed. The rib tips are favorites of restaurants and pubs  as appetizers and buffet offerings also slow smoked and slathered with BBQ sauce.

Another unique and delicious BBQ item that seems local to St. Louis (but with some searching can be found in Atlanta and Memphis on Beale St. ) is a dish called Crispy Snoots, the meat of a pigs snoot and cheeks, boiled, braised, fried or smoked then given a huge dose of sauce and served as a sandwich. Try them at Smoki Os on N. Broadway, here you can get both the tips and snoots on one plate, a BBQ treat for sure. Like all great BBQ houses many have house made sausages which are smoked and grilled, chicken cooked to perfection, brisket and of course the pulled pork.

Let's get back to the ribs and try to explain the differences which seemly are confusing as to what one should get into the smoker.

First side ribs or spare ribs, are ribs, cut from the side or under belly of the hog with longer, wider bones and are fatty as they are found in the same area that bacon is cut from. They tend to be tougher than back ribs so require a longer cooking time to get them to be  tender.

St. Louis ribs are also side ribs, but have been cut down to five inches in length and have had the sternum bone, cartilage and rib tips removed.

Back ribs, cut from the loin section of the hog where the muscle gets less stress and therefore the meat is more tender.  The area provides cuts such as the tenderloin, loin, center cut loin chops etc. Generally they are cut 3 to 6 inches long, are very tender and the "tail" or "tips" have been removed. This is a small 3 inch piece of meat and bone at the back end of the rib "rack" which contains small bones and or cartilage.  

Baby back, Canadian back ribs or Danish back ribs are exactly the same as back ribs, but given another name for marketing purposes. Danish back ribs are so named as they are imports of back ribs from Denmark, which supplies 10% of all Europe's pork production.  Back ribs are not as popular in Europe as North America so the Danish found a welcoming market in North America. Canadian ribs, again are simply back ribs imported from Canada, because both Danish and Canadian are imported, frozen products they may be less expensive than fresh, but the quality should be good, keep in mind however "fresh is best".

Boneless Back Ribs, some butchers are marketing a product called boneless back ribs, this is a deceptive marketing practice as the meat is simply loin meat taken from the trimming of the back rib. Do not buy and stop shopping at a market which lies to their customers.

Ribletes or Button Ribs, generally speaking a riblet are ribs which have been trimmed to 2 inches long they are not rib tips. They are a flat strip of meat with round bones, 1/4" thick, 6" long, 1 1/2" wide, cut from the sides of the hog's spine the rearmost rib.

Cooking your ribs: No matter what "style" of ribs you may want to explore there are certain hard and fast rules you cannot omit if you want a superior product. You will need:

A good slab of ribs, baby back ribs should have 13 ribs, some butchers and inferior restaurants will serve 8 count "cheater" racks, racks are any count less than the full slab. It is advisable to check and be sure you are getting what you are paying for, you can expect to see 1/4, 1/3, 1/2 and full racks on menus and the menu price should  reflect the size, but for home buy full slabs. We St. Louis style ribs count 4-6 ribs per person when serving other main dishes (like BBQ chicken) and sides, 8 ribs if they are the star of the show.

You will need a good rib rub, a blend of herbs, spices, salt and sugar, I give you one that follows so look out below.
Fuel for the smoker, hardwood charcoal is best, (you can use your gas/charcoal grill to convert to a smoker) and soaked wood chunks for flavoring the ribs.

Two thermometers, a really good meat thermometer, it becomes you assurance when the ribs are perfectly done, no guess work with it, also a oven thermometer to place inside the smoker to be sure you are maintaining the ideal temperature there as well.

Barbecue sauce, of course, I will list a couple of mine, but why not create your own.

Prepare your smoker so that you will be able to add the charcoal and flavoring wood, you need to maintain a heat of 225F (1007C) for 6 hours. Use a charcoal chimney to light your smoker and never ever use liquid charcoal starter, it will give a horrible oily taste to your smoked food items.

Now you want the prepare the ribs, place them bone side up,  the membrane will allow the flavors from smoke and seasoning to flavor the ribs, but if left on will be like a piece of rubber on your meat as it cooks slowly in the smoker so it is important to remove it.  The membrane if on all ribs and need to be removed on St. Louis ribs, remove the thick piece of flap meat (you can smoke them as an additional treat.) Slide a small knife under the first bone and the membrane, gently lift the membrane now you should be able to pull the membrane right down the ribs removing it in one sheet if possible.

Now you need to make your rib rub and do exactly that, rub the spice into the ribs, both sides.
3 tablespoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon each of onion powder, basil leaves, thyme leaves, oregano leaves, cayenne pepper

Blend it well together, I like to grind it fine in a coffee mill.

Place the rubbed ribs in the center of the smoker so that the air flows evenly around them, cook for two hours, remove and wrap in foil. Return to the smoker  and continue to cook for an additional 3 hours. Remove the wrap. Add more wood to the smoker and continue to cook for an additional 1 hour or until your meat thermometer reads at 190F. Be sure the thermometer is in the thickest part of the meat and not touching a bone.

Here is a chart for smoking most proteins:

Product                 Internal Temperature                    Cooking Temperature
Pork                     185-190 F                                             175-200 F            
Brisket                  180-185 F                                             175-200 F
Ribs                      190-195 F                                             200-225 F
Chicken                175-180 F                                             250-275 F
Turkey                  165-175 F                                             250-275 F

It is important to learn the difference when your product is "done" and when it is "ready" some guidelines suggest a product is done when it reaches a temperature well below that of the serving or ready temperature. Government charts tell you the ribs are done at 145F but they will be tough and not edible, they are ready at the stated cooking temperature.  Ribs should never be fall off the bone tender (this means someone boiled or steamed the ribs)  if you cooked your ribs to the ready temperature the meat will come cleanly off the bone with a single bite, they will be moist and flavorful sometimes so good no sauce is required.

Speaking of sauce, you sauce your ribs only for the last 20 minutes of cooking, Most sauces contain a large amount of sugar, with a short cooking time it will caramelize on your food however over long  cooking time the sugar burns leaving a very unpleasant taste. So sauce only for the last 20 minutes of cooking and 1 final time just before serving.

ST. LOUIS BBQ SAUCE
2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 tablespoon each onion powder, garlic powder,  mild chili powder
1/2 teaspoon each of basil, thyme, oregano, cayenne pepper, paprika
Preparation:

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over a low heat. Stirring occasionally and simmer for 20 minutes. The sauce should be thin, but not watery. Allow to cool. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate.

7 UP BBQ SAUCE
This sweeter than most St. Louis BBQ Sauce but it is so good.
2 cups                   500 ml                   chili sauce
3 cups                   750 ml                   catsup
1 cup                     250 ml                  brown sugar
2 cups                   500 ml                   7 UP® soft drink beverage (do not use diet)
2 tsp                      10 ml                    black pepper
1 tsp                      5 ml                      each of white pepper, garlic granules, onion powder
½ tsp                     3 ml                      cayenne pepper
1 tsp                      5 ml                      each of dried basil leaves, thyme leaves, oregano leaves
2 tbsp                    30 ml                    mustard
3 tbsp                    45 ml                    honey
In a food processor, combine all the ingredients thoroughly. Pour into a mixing bowl and reserve. 

WARNING: DO NOT PUSH, PULL INSTEAD PART 2

We really need to examine just a few more in the St. Louis BBQ what we haven't examined yet is what is becoming more popular than the ribs themselves. Ribs are becoming a costly meal, especially when dining out, the answer to the ribs is going kind of boneless (less messy) that  is pulled pork. Why? To answer that we have to go way back in barbecue history.

The name barbecue is hidden in mystery (we will examine it further in a later writing) but what is not hidden is the use of the hog in barbecue cookery. Prior to the Civil War people of the south consumed an average of 5 pounds of pork per every 1 pound of beef, it was an inexpensive protein to consume, easy to raise and when you could not raise them you certainly find wild ones that could be hunted. However the meat is tough, so ways to tenderize to meat became important, long, slow cooking was the choice for those who wanted to consume the fresh meat, curing it was the way to go for storing the meat as refrigeration  was a non option.
The term "pulled pork" is most likely a term that originally meant party time, the Cajun, "cochon de lait, is a party in which a whole hog is slowly cooked, then when ready is placed on a serving table where the party goers could pick away at the delicious cooked meat throughout the day or night. The gathering itself  became known as a "Pork Pickin or a Pork Pull" and quickly became standard for church groups, rallies, or any event that the common man would attend. Along with the BBQ'd hog, "tater salad" corn on the cob, coleslaw, and "hush puppies" rounded out the cuisine of the Pork Pickin.

The hush puppy is simply a cornbread fritter that has become the a standard side dish served with any barbecue. The name is said to have come from men and women who daily gathered for an evening meal  at which the pork was served along with the fried cornbread. Bits of the fritters were supposedly tossed to the dogs that came with their owners to hush they're barking. Another story is that Civil War soldiers would toss the fried bits to Confederate dogs again in quite the barking, these dogs quickly were labeled "hushpuppies." So important are hushpuppies to southern cookery that a barbecue id considered incomplete without them.  The battered varies from cook to cook, of course, and before it is fried it can be cooked on a flat top or in a cast iron pan in pancake fashion giving it names like hoecakes, Johnny cakes, Journey cakes, or corn pone, in fact Americans first President, George Washington's favorite breakfast is said to be hoecakes dripping with butter and honey.

Back to the making of pulled pork, the same rules apply as we stated in cooking ribs, most important is the need of a meat thermometer so that their exact temperature is reached.

Purchase a 10 or 11 pound Boston Butt and removed any thick layers of fat, but try to keep the trim to 1/4 inch thick, as this keeps the pork moist while cooking. Rinse it off well and dry it as much as possible.

 Use a mixture of:
1 cup water
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
3 tablespoons paprika
1 1/2 tablespoons dry mustard

1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground basil
1 tablespoon red pepper
2 teaspoons black pepper

Preparation:
Combine all ingredients.
With a meat injector, inject the mixture slowly into several areas of the roast, or just marinate at least 8 hours.
 Rub it down with a very thin coating of Dijon Mustard.
Now, rub it down with a fairly heavy coating the same rub listed for the ribs.Place in the center of a preheated smoker with a fresh addition of your favorite wood piece. And when the temperature stabilizes at 200 to 220, place the roast, fat side up, smoke until the thermometer reads 180F, this may 10-14 hours but do not remove it until the reads correctly then it’s ready to come out of the smoker,  “Pull” the pork while the meat is hot. Add your own favorite BBQ sauce., it’s ready to come out of the smoker,  “Pull” the pork while the meat is hot. Add your own favorite BBQ sauce..


Serve as a hot entree, as a sandwich topped with coleslaw in a fresh toasted hamburger bun or in any fashion you may enjoy.

HUSHPUPPIES
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup white sugar
1 large onion, diced
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup self-rising cornmeal
1/2 cup frozen peas or corn kernels
1 quart oil for frying

DIRECTIONS:
In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, sugar, and onion. Blend in flour and cornmeal.  Fold in the peas or corn.
Heat 2 inches of oil to 365 degrees F (185 degrees C). Drop batter by rounded teaspoonfuls in hot oil, and fry until golden brown. Cook in small batches to maintain oil temperature. Drain briefly on paper towels. Serve hot.

COLESLAW
4 cups shredded cabbage
2 tablespoons grated white onions
1 cup carrot ( shredded or grated)
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
2/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine white pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds

Directions
Prepare the vegetables by slicing, shredding or grating very thin.
Toss the vegetable ingredients to mix well.
Prepare the dressing by whisking together the vinegar, mayonnaise, sugar, pepper , salt and poppy seeds.
Fold the dressing into the tossed vegetables and refrigerate, covered, for at least 2 hours.
May be made ahead. Toss occasionally to keep the dressing distributed over the vegetables.

POTATO SALAD
8              8              large potatoes
1              1              head of garlic
¼ lb        115 g         bacon
1 tbsp    15 ml          safflower oil
2 tbsp    30 ml          vinegar
3              3              chopped green onions

5              5              diced radishes
2              2              diced celery stalks
1 cup     250 ml        Mayonnaise (follows)
1 tbsp    15 ml          mustard
3              3              chopped hard cooked eggs
1 tsp      5 ml            salt
½ tsp     3 ml            white pepper

Preheat the oven to 450F (220C).
Wash, prick with a fork and foil wrap the potatoes. Bake the potatoes and garlic until tender, (time depends upon the size of the potatoes). Cool to room temperature. Pare the potatoes and dice coarsely. Peel the garlic and mash.
Dice the bacon and fry until crisp. Drain the excess fat and reserve the meat.
Place the potatoes in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with the oil and vinegar. Stir in the onions, radishes and celery.
In a small mixing bowl, blend the Mayonnaise, mashed garlic, mustard, eggs, salt and pepper. Fold into the potatoes, along with the bacon. Serve as required.
SERVES 6

                MAYONNAISE
½ tsp                     3 ml        prepared Dijon mustard
½ tsp                     3 ml        granulated sugar
1/8 tsp                  pinch       cayenne pepper
1                              1          egg yolk
1 tbsp                    15 ml      lemon juice
2/3 cup                 170 ml     olive oil

Blend the mustard, sugar and pepper together.
Beat in the egg yolk thoroughly, add the lemon juice blending completely. Beat in the oil a few drops at a time until the sauce is very thick.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

CULINARY CURISE CONTINUES OVER HILL, OVER DALE, TOASTED RAVIOLI WE GO

                                                               ART BY COJANA SMITH

Staying in St. Louis is always complicated as there are so many great hotels, my favorite however is the
Mayfair, I love old historic places especially hotels. Their histories and culinary offerings set the standards for which all others strive to achieve.  I began my career at such hotels (Jasper Park Lodge, Jasper, Alberta and The Marlborough Hotel in Winnipeg.)  Historic hotels have great personalities whereas most modern hotels are cookie cutter styling the old hotels spoke of elegance, class and the highest quality. The Mayfair is one such hotel, the choice of actors, actresses, Presidents  what is exactly what the owner Charles Hess wanted as his clientele, only the finest for his customer no matter their standing, if they stayed at the Mayfair then the experience stayed with them due to service that
exceeded even the wildest expectation.  These historic hotels became so in cuisine as well,  may create dishes that are held by chefs as the standard today, some one hundred years later are still the standard. The Mayfair's contribution is a dressing known simply as Mayfair dressing, a versatile condiment that is excellent on salads, with fried foods, fish, chicken and seafood.

Every major community has special areas settled by those coming from other countries in search of a better life for their children and their children. Many cities today are so multinational that a visitor can experience the world just by visiting the neighborhoods. St. Louis, of course, is no different the foreign influences are rooted deep within Oriental , German, Polish, Mexican, Irish all are part of the makeup of this great city.  There is one community, however that has truly made an international name for itself, that being the Italian community.
"The Hill" a delicious area of dining and entertaining and a must visit when in St. Louis in fact you haven't experienced the city without visiting the hill.



The Hill has some of the finest Italian restaurants not only in St. Louis but in America. The neighborhood can be located just off the Interstate 44 along Shaw Ave. Bordered by  Lilly Ave. and MacKind Ave.  contains immaculate prewar homes, various shops, bakeries, tattorias and of course the restaurants. The Italian food here is that kind that warms the heart and the stomach, for the family or the romantic The Hill has something for everyone. Famous waiters Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola are from the hill, they lived on the same street across from each other, sure they were famous baseball players but they were waiters before the baseball careers. Joe's brother Mickey was actually the first to experience what would become one of St. Louis' gifts to the world, that being the toasted ravioli. Mickey was seated at the bar in Oldani's (now Mama's On The Hill) when chef Fritz accidentally dropped the little pillows of pasta into hot oil instead of hot water, Mickey ate them instead of tossing them out and declared them a hit, soon thereafter every restaurant on the Hill served toasted ravioli and now are found on menus throughout the world. Depending on the region the ravioli are filled with what is local to the area,seafood in the northeast,chicken in the southwest, beef and cheese on the prairies. The ravioli are lightly breaded then deep fried, served with marinara sauce and garnished with fresh Parmesan cheese.










Did you know the hot dog on a bun, hamburger in a bun, cotton candy, peanut butter, Dr. Pepper and canned chili are all foods that were created in St. Louis.



Next St. Louis Barbecue.





TOASTED RAVIOLI WITH TOMATO CREAM SAUCE

1 quantity          Tomato Pasta Dough (follows)
1 tbsp   15 ml    olive oil
¾ lb      345 g    shredded beef chuck
2 oz      60 g      minced prosciutto 
3          3          eggs
½ tsp    3 ml      each of basil and oregano
½ cup   125 ml  freshly grated Romano cheese
1/2 cup 125 ml milk
1 cup    250 ml  flour
2 cups  500 ml  fine bread crumbs seasoned
4 cups  1L         vegetable oil

For Sauce
2 tbsp   30 ml    butter
2 tbsp   30 ml    flour, all purpose
1 cup    250 ml  half & half cream
2 cups  500 ml  fresh marinara sauce

Process the pasta as directed. Roll out into thin sheets. Cover with a moist cloth until required.

Heat the oil in a skillet and brown the beef. Drain oil and allow the beef to cool in a large mixing bowl. Blend into the cooled beef the prosciutto, 1 egg, seasonings and cheese.

Place tablespoon amounts of filling evenly over a sheet of dough, moisten the dough surrounding the filling with a little water. Place a second sheet of dough over the first. Cut between the filling with a scalloped edge pastry cutter. Freeze for 1 hour.

Mix the milk with the remaining 2 eggs.

Dip the ravioli into the flour, then the egg mixture and into the bread crumbs. Place back in the freezer for another hour or until required.

Heat the vegetable oil to 350F, fry the ravioli in small batches, Serve with hot with the sauce.
For the sauce:

In a sauce pan, heat the butter, add the flour and cook for 2 minutes over low heat. Add the cream and simmer into a very thick sauce. Whip in the Marinara, simmer for 20 minutes..   


SERVES 6

TOMATO PASTA DOUGH
2          2          eggs
¼ cup   60 ml    tomato paste
1 tbsp   15 ml    olive oil
2 cups  500 ml  semolina flour
ice water, only if required

Blend the eggs, tomato paste and oil together. Place in a mixing bowl. Slowly add the flour. Knead into a smooth ball (add ice water if required), Knead the dough for 15 minutes and allow to rest for an additional 15 minutes. Roll out the dough. Lightly dust with flour, fold in three, and roll out again. Repeat 6 to 8 times.
Now pass the dough through the pasta machine setting the rollers gradually down until you reach the desired thickness. The result should be a smooth sheet of dough ready to process as you require.
Pass through a pasta machine, or cut by hand to desired size. If processed by hand, simply roll the dough and cut into thin strips for noodles (fettucini) or into wider strips for lasagna, cannelloni, ravioli, etc.
Process as any of our recipes direct.
NOTE:  Use only enough flour to prevent sticking while rolling.

MAYFAIR DRESSING
1/2 chopped large onion,
1 stalk celery,
1 clove, peeled garlic,
2 -[2oz] cans flat anchovies,

4 whole fresh, cold egg yolks,
1 cup corn oil
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup sparkling wine or champagne,
2 tablespoons prepared mustard,
1 tsp cracked black pepper

In a food processor, add the onion, celery and garlic and puree. Add the anchovies and egg yolks, then with the machine running, add the oils very slowly to emulsify.  Finally, add the wine, mustard and pepper, blend for 1 minute or until very smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt. Reserve and store refrigerated for up 7 days. Yields 3 cups.


CK’s Dr, Pepper & Jack BBQ Sauce

1 cup Dr. Pepper soda
1 pound fresh peaches
3/4 cup chopped sweet onion such as Vidalia
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh jalapeño with seeds

1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup Jack Daniels Sour Mash bourbon
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon light brown sugar
2 Tbsp Chef K Seasonings

Heat the soda in a small sauce pan and reduce to 1/3rd cup.
Coarsely chop the peaches.
Cook onion, jalapeño, and a pinch of kosher salt in oil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add reduce Dr.Pepper, the peaches and remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until peaches are very tender, about 30 minutes.
Purée in a blender (use caution when blending hot liquids).

Here is the bun, but read up on the Perfect Hamburger at http://chefk.blogspot.ca/2013/09/the-prefect-hamburger.html

Dough Enhancer

1 cup wheat gluten
1/2 cup diastatic malt powder
2 tablespoons lecithin granules
1 teaspoon ascorbic acid crystals
2 tablespoons powdered pectin
2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
1 teaspoon powdered ginger


Mix together and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. For 100% whole grain breads, use 3
Tablespoons per loaf. Add to your recipe along with the flour.

Burger Buns 
Makes 8 /4-inch to 5-inch burger buns
1 cup warm water
3 tablespoons warm milk
2 teaspoons active dry yeast

2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups bread flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons dough enhancer (above)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Black and white sesame seeds and/or poppy seeds (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a glass measuring cup, combine one cup warm water, the milk, yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about five minutes. Meanwhile, beat one egg.

2. In a large bowl, whisk flours and dough enhancer with salt. Add butter and rub into flour between your fingers, making crumbs. Using a dough scraper, stir in yeast mixture and beaten egg until a dough forms. Scrape dough onto clean, well-floured counter and knead, scooping dough up, slapping it on the counter and turning it, until smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. (You may also use a stand mixer for this, eliminating the need for a bench scraper. You want the dough to remain slightly tacky, as the more flour you add, the tougher they will be when baked.

3. Shape dough into a ball and return it to the bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1 to 2 hours.

4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a dough scraper, divide dough into 8 equal parts. Gently roll each into a ball and arrange two to three inches apart on baking sheet. Cover loosely with a piece of plastic wrap lightly coated with nonstick spray and let buns rise in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours.

5. Set a large shallow pan of water on the oven floor. Preheat oven to 400 degrees with rack in center. Beat remaining egg with 1 tablespoon water and brush some on top of buns. Sprinkle with sesame seeds ( I used both sesame and poppy seeds), if using. Bake, turning sheet halfway through baking, until tops are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

REALLY GOOD CHILI

900 g (2 lbs) lean ground beef
45 ml (3 tbsp) safflower oil
2 jalapeños, seeded, diced
1 Spanish onion, diced
500 ml (2 cups) tomatoes, peeled, seeded, diced

250 ml (1 cup) beef broth
500 ml (2 cups) V-8 juice
15 ml(1 tbsp)cumin
15 ml (1 tbsp) chili powder
5 ml (1 tsp) salt
375 ml (1 1/2 cups) cheddar cheese, grated
Tortilla chips

In a Dutch oven or a large kettle, fry the beef in the oil.  Add the pepper and onion.  Sauté until tender.
Add the tomatoes, broth, juice and seasonings.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 35 minutes.
Pour chili into bowls, garnish with tortillas and cheese and serve.