Friet from Waterlooplein Market

Fries and mayonaise is classic Amsterdam street food. I had this combo 7 years ago and my stomach still turns thinking about it. The fries are cooked perfectly; blanched til limp in oil and finished just before serving. I decided to identify myself as American and get them with some ketchup. Their ketchup was slightly spicy, not as sweet and more tomatoey and was the perfect complement to the perfect friet.


ribs ... mmmmmmmmmmm

ribs ... mmmmmmmmmmm, originally uploaded by Seligmans Dog.

I haven't done ribs in about a year. That time we made too many half racks, didn't cook them long enough and then served them to guests whom we didn't know had an aversion (or allergy) to pork products (we didn't know ahead of time). Needless to say, the experience left me a bit scarred on rib cookery.

The other night, we had our surrogate Columbus parents in for a meal of ribs, corn pudding and green beans. I got the ribs from plain old Kroger, removed the membrane (thanks for the instruction from Mike - worked easy), gave them an ever so light rub, let rest overnight and cooked 'em around 250°F for about 8 hours with a light slather of sauce (Charcuterie Carolina Sauce) 2 hours before the end. Covered them a couple hours and dug in.

I have never been so happy with the leftovers from that rib session.

I told Frankie the other morning I was taking out the leftover ribs for thawing so we could have them for dinner. She asked if we were having company. That's how good they were. She (and our friends) ate many. I am copacetic with ribs again.


Whole Wheat Noodles Sliced with a Pizza Cutter

Whole wheat pasta for dinner

In attempts to develop culinary processes, I often complicate things. A pause can often clarify the problem. I had an urge for noodles recently and also remembered seeing some silly device at Target and couldn't stop thinking about both of them. The device at Target was a 5 wheel roller that was supposed to mince herbs. The only thing I could hope to share with Bourdain is my fondness for a Chef's knife, its versatility made this herb shredder useless. BUT, maybe it'd be a slick noodle cutter.

I rolled about 250 grams of pasta dough (made from 135 g of a mixture of unbleached white, rye, wheat and spelt flours plus salt, 1.5 eggs, trace of olive oil and let the kneaded dough rest a day in the fridge). I split the dough in 3 golf ball size lumps, rolled it out kind of thin and tried this silly multi roll cutter. I thought I'd fly through these noodles being able to make 5 cuts instead of 1 with my trust pizza cutter.

Wasn't sharp enough, tough to cut. Then I realized using the Pizza cutter would take about a minute to cut noodles for all of us and using the 5 wheel roller would, if it worked, shave a big 40 seconds off the exercise. Dumb. The pizza cutter reigns supreme in noodle cutting. Unless you're making noodles for a hundred tables, it's pretty adequate.



crust, originally uploaded by Seligmans Dog.

When a loaf emerges from the oven (this one for our dinner tonight), a reliable diagnostic for a perfect crust is the crackling of the surface as it contracts on cooling.

Things I'm working on (a note to myself)

1. had California Pizza Kitchen last night and remembered their wispy thin crust is sublime. I'm so on it. I'm thinking a lean and low hydration dough rolled out thin as a lavash cracker, rest, top lightly, 600F, yum. Wish me luck.

2. Bittman today with more veg and less egg frittata http://tr.im/frittata, can't wait to try this.

3. Need to order my sausage stuffer and get my final saucisson sec batch (of the season) done. Also going to do some b'fast sausage (sage and apple, not stuffed).

ps Giant Eagle is looking pretty cool these days (C'ville location), yay!


Valuable, but painful, lesson learned.

Andrew, my Master Po of grinding and stuffing, warned me. Stuffing sausage with a grinder doesn't work. Need the Grizzly. I worked my ass off to make my grinder a stuffer. Grinding and stuffing are different operations requiring two different methods.

Today, I made a batch of saucisson sec, this time with the amount of pork fat called for in Ruhlman's Charcuterie recipe. When I stuffed using the auger mechanism, I think the fat and protein broke.1 It looked almost emulsified when it came out, probably heated up - as Master Po warned.

I didn't listen. Finally, I hear the grasshopper. I will use the Grizzly in the future.

I hung the sausage to cure anyway, made the basement smell nice.

Note 1. There is a chance the appearance was different because of the extra fat in the recipe. However, I'll still be using the right tool next time. The Grizzly is also MUCH faster. My original desire to do it all with one piece of equipment was the extra labor washing stuff.


Crestview Market, I think they slaughter their own pigs in the back room.

yummy pork fat, originally uploaded by Seligmans Dog.

I posted this image on Flickr, but, since no one sees my Flickr images and because bloggers tend to be needy when it comes to attention, I'm posting here about my pig fat ... my glorious rolls of pig fat.

What's the deal lately with pigs? I saw a few recently on a farm and they all looked pretty fat. I called around recently looking for some pig fat and all the butchers said they get such lean pork, they didn't have any. I know it's calorically dense and potentially could be used as an alternative to a fossil fuel given the right equipment, but who's holding it all?

Crestview, that's who. They have all you need and the rest of the pig parts as well. Awesome pieces of pork shoulder cut into the shape of thick steaks (ca. $2/lb) and fat (don't know where on the pig this fat is from, but it's fat) for only $1/lb (min. 2 lbs).

My recent saucisson sec run was successful, but the product, while it tasted great, was kind of tough. The recipe called for more fat than I put in and it made a bigger difference than I expected. Next run should be even better.


My grinder is now a stuffer

auger support for meat grinder
Click through to the image to see the note on the Flickr image.

On Andrew's recommendation, my lovely wife and child bought me a grinder for Father's day. It's a prized possession of mine. On various message and review sites, it has a known deficiency. It requires one to stuff a sausage mixture through one of the dies. No sausage maker worth their salt would ever consider such an option.

Taking a hint from the Kitchen Aid version of the sausage stuffing set up (the Kitchen Aid version of the grinder/stuffer is made for a little girl, the grinder I'm talking about can grind the weight of an average size adult per hour) and decided to make an auger support; a critical piece for successful stuffing using the auger mechanism.

The only material strong enough was one of the dies itself. I decided to sacrifice the one with the 12 mm dia. holes (I never use that one and can probably replace it). I excised the middle section of it leaving it mostly open for meat to come through to the stuffing tube. Click through on the image for the flickr note I placed on the image.

It was a bitch to cut. Thick steel. I used 6 grinder wheels and 3 days of intermittent work to get it cut. But, fits like a perfectly machined piece. I'll get some dog food-grade ground meat to give it a control run.


Mapping a Brix Scale to an Expert System in the Raspberry Patch


It's the height of black raspberry season everyone! The ideal blackberry picking experience is going to Weiland's, finding a stack of fresh berries and picking a pint or two.

For some reason, that wasn't good enough for the kid this morning. So, we shlepped ourselves to Mitchell's to hunt and gather. Inexperienced in the way of the berry, I decided to see what everyone else was doing to figure out where the best product was. The place was busy: industrious church ladies, authoritarian soccer moms militantly dictating orders to their kids and big sloppy families stumbling around confused. Who was getting the best stuff?

We decided to try 'em all, although we mostly shadowed the church ladies (much to their chagrin). We grabbed some darn good looking product from several areas. But the berries near the church ladies were best - or were they? When we got home, we subjected them to a sugar content analysis. I used a refractometer to measure % sugar or Brix. It's the same instrument vintners use when evaluating grape development throughout the season. Here are our findings:

Analyte Brix
Diligently working church ladies picking black raspberries for the church bake sale, knowing full well they would do serious time in purgatory if they didn't make the best pie. 10% Brix
Soccer Moms looking for good subjects for still life paintings to sell on Etsy. 9% Brix
The family gathering: stems, cheerios, berries of some sort while roaming the fields of bushes yelling at each other and running back and forth to the potty. 8% Brix
Reference Std: water 0% Brix
Reference Std: 5% w/w sucrose/water 4% Brix
Reference Std: 10% w/w sucrose/water 8% Brix
Reference Std: 15% w/w sucrose/water 12% Brix
No seriously, this is science All berries sampled were 8% Brix

Our hunch was right and the church ladies will likely go to heaven with minimal time in the "waiting room."