simple pickles

simple pickles, originally uploaded by Seligmans Dog.

Saw some nice little cucumbers yesterday at Meijer (yes, I was the one that missed the farmer's market).

I got in the door, poured 3 Kg of water and 150 g salt and 75 g sugar in a stockpot and yelled for Frankie to help me make pickles. She dilligently stormed into the kitchen, tossed in the cucumbers, chopped the dill, smashed a couple pieces of garlic and mixed it up with her hands.

It's a slightly dressed up version of Ruhlman's simple pickles. They'll sit for a week in the basement at room temp. Can't wait.

Update, 2.5 days
The brine is a tad murky, the smell is lovely, the cucumbers have become a much more dull green and are beginning to look a bit more pickle-like. I wish we reserved a fresh one for comparison, but they're on the right track. Definitely the easiest pickle prep I've used.


saucisson sec

saucisson sec, originally uploaded by Seligmans Dog.

I've let about 6 people sample this so far and no one has died.


21 days after I hung it up to cure, the saucisson is now essentially done. It's furry, green, firm and very tasty. I took a few links and rubbed the exterior with a cloth and some cornmeal to remove the most of the exterior mold. I sliced it up thin to taste.

The texture is tough, a little like jerky. It's been so long since we've been to France and I don't even remember what this should taste like. The wife says it's good - tad heavy on the garlic - but good. I followed Ruhlman's Charcuterie recipe but crushed the garlic instead of chopping it, I think that's why it's a bit strong.

I've been giving out samples all over the place, so, before we go on any vacation this Summer, I'll be putting another batch up to cure. Yum. Xmas presents??


A Firedome Experiment

Several on the Virtual Weber Board asked if the door on the Firedome is really necessary? It's a question that I'm a bit embarrassed I didn't interrogate before embarking on this project. Let's say we configure the fuel and cooking surface the same and:

1. remove the entire dome and slide a pizza on or
2. open the little door of the Firedome to slide a pizza on - which is better?

In the earliest stage of this project, I simply assumed the temp in the dome, if we were to remove the dome, would drop so much the top of the pizza wouldn't cook adequately because the time to recover the heat would be too great.

The experiment:
I charged up the Firedome and ignited it. Took about 30 minutes to get to 500F or so, placed a probe in the dome and measured the following:

a. door closed on the Firedome for 10 minutes,
b. opened the hatch for 10 seconds,
c. closed it and let it ride for 10 minutes,
d. removed the dome for 10 seconds,
e. let it ride for 10 minutes - view temp profile


firedome expt. hatch vs. dome removal

Pretty big drop in temperature removing the dome (opening the little door, 10°F drop, removing the lid, 100°F drop). I didn't try cooking on it during this expt., but I suspect if it takes too long for the temp to recover in the headspace, the food is in danger of overcooking on the bottom before the top gets cooked.

After the expt, while the grill was hot ... a little focaccia for lunch and dinner.
Focaccia on the FIredome

Firedome, part 1


saucisson sec, day 18

saucisson sec, day 18, originally uploaded by Seligmans Dog.

Firm, fuzzy and green are they. Sadly, sausage, pepperoni, even sopressata aren't photogenic. This year's attempt at saucisson sec however, is going swimmingly. Next week I'll take 'em down, clean up the exterior a bit by rubbing them with a dry cloth and some rice flour, get the wife on the ready with 911 on the cell and take a taste (I honestly can't wait, I may go for it earlier). If I live through a day, we'll be feasting on them with a nice wine (no box stuff for these, thank you) and a crusty loaf, some fresh veggies and cheese for a celebratory feast.

In the next run, while the basement's still humid, I'll be repeating this with the wider casings.


firedome 2nd run data

firedome 2nd run data, originally uploaded by Seligmans Dog.

Cooking pizza on a Weber using the http://tr.im/firedome was based on 2 key requirements:

1. Using the kettle as an oven and getting a pizza in the "oven" without removing the kettle dome so as to maintain a constant (and high) temperature.

2. Getting a temperature distribution in the kettle/oven sufficient to cook the pizza uniformly; a necessary condition regardless of the oven used (conventional or grill).

This temperature profile, although a tad low, shows the relatively constant cooking temperature over an hour of cooking last night. I cooked 4 pizzas and opened the door of the firedome several times for each pizza. No significant dips; I'm giddy.


Weber Kettle Mods: Firedome (pizza cooked on a kettle)

Welcome Weber-Stephen Products, LLC!  Look around and enjoy your visit,  please leave a comment to contact me.

Cooking pizza on the grill is filled with challenge and adventure. Mike is a pro and knows this area well. He and Andrew have finely honed the pizza on the grill by grilling the dough, flipping, topping and re-grilling, the final grilling melding all the flavors together.

Inspired by a friend's most decadent pizza oven ripping at 900+°F, I sought to make one of my beloved kettles into something more; an instrument that could cook pizza evenly. Although I failed to obtain my desired 800+ temps, the uniformity of cooking was an equally critical objective that was achieved.


Getting an old Weber Kettle lid ready for cutting out a "slice" to attach via hinge.


Made the cuts with a grinder and holes for the hinge with a drill. The jagged edges were buffed with a grinder attachment. I kept the tape on during the cutting to help keep the line and help keep the edges more smooth.

Firedome ignition

I placed the briquettes around the edge of the kettle in order to attempt to get a high temp high in the dome and not too hot at the base of the pizza. I tried once before with just the briquettes in the center and burned the pizza on the bottom before the top could get done. Also, I chose to light the coals once in place with lighter fluid (instead of a chimney and then arranging the lit briquettes).

Clay surface for the Firedome cooking

I chose an inverted clay flower pot drip tray because it was elevated. This enabled the top of the surface to be more easily accessible from the lip of the Weber. The bifurcation of the surface is intentional. This clay was cast in a Shaolin monastery. The halves symbolize the yin and yang of humanity; the balance between eating from the Weber and drinking ale from the keg.

First pizza from the Firedome

The coals were ready in about 30 minutes. I did a quick temp check. I had about 500°F in the high part of the dome and about 450°F on the clay surface. Not quite high as I wanted but went through with the test anyway. I used a basic pizza dough, a simple tomato paste and parmesan and olive oil topping (don't knock the smear of tomato paste, it's nice). I put the pizza on the clay and 8 minutes and 30 seconds later ...

First pizza from the Firedome

Future?? I'm thrilled with the results. Perfectly cooked all around and no burned bottom. I think the relative temps of the dome and surface are what I was looking for with this configuration of briquettes. I would like now to get the temp up a bit. Maybe 700° or so in the dome - maybe lump? Suggestions appreciated via comments. For now, I'm just thrilled. Zach, Jim - podcast time??

More pics of the Firedome project on Flickr.

Other Firedome links:


saucisson sec, day 5

Saucisson sec, day 5, originally uploaded by Seligmans Dog.
Been maintaining 70+ %RH for 5 days now. The sausages have dried down quite a bit and a slight bit of characteristic mold is developing on the casing. Things are definitely looking better this run than last. The dog is still curious about them, but has not been able to get an opportunity to rip them apart.

I can practically taste the burgundy and bread to accompany this treat.


Saucisson sec

pork butt from Weilands, ground using a coarse die

seasoned, stuffed and pierced for drying

basement conditions, don't know why icon man is so sad
3 weeks 'til dinner