Coffee Bean Roasting: I knew I could make this more complicated than it needed to be.

Mac's been roasting beans using a nifty whirly pop popcorn maker. Kudos to you Mac. I love those things. Eager to jump in and be cool too, I turned to my $1.91 generic (thanks Volunteers of America!) popocorn popper to roast green coffee beans. I got the beans from Mediterranean Food Imports on Dodridge and N High (home of the only source of Merguez in Columbus) for $4/lb. The owner thinks they're from Brazil, but is not sure.

The question I had is: While coffee's roasting, do the stages of roasting, indicated by the casually tossed around term "cracking," correspond to detectable thermal transitions? Temperature profile to the rescue.

I popped 50 grams of green beans to the hopper, dangled my thermocouple into the headspace and let the baby rip for 15 minutes (a time based on some futzing around). Here's the profile:

Coffee roasting temperature profile
Really boring temperature profile over roasting period.

The beans are shinier in the image because of my inability to use flash properly

The beans were slightly shiny, and dark roasted and are resting before I grind. I've never been able to hear that definitive cracking - all I hear is the dog whimpering, the cat attacking my feet or the kid running in the hall, so I've relied on time to provide an endpoint for roasting. According to my time profile, there appears to be no thermal events to dictate the perfect roasting endpoint. Just have to stick with plain old trial and error. A fun set of observations though.

... Honey, the popcorn is starting to taste funny.


Another nifty find at Crestview Market

Crestview (corner of Crestview and North High) is on my way home and my new favorite stop on the way home. It's a typical crammed Asian market and the value of it, I'm finding, is in the details.

The other day I had an itch to make a dish that was fast, used leftover freezer meat, and was healthy. Greens and grain is a biggie on our menus and I decided it would be greens, soba noodles and some of the vacuum wrapped, grilled pork loing that had occupied the freezer for months.

I ran in Crestview and had decided a simple, quick wilting bok choy would be a good green. I picked up one of the many types of greens there, my soba noodles, ginger and sprinted home to start a nice meal.

Turns out, my greens weren't bok choy but a more sturdy mustard-type green that took a bit longer to cook but pleasantly surprised us to be very tasty. The dish:

Into a mongo huge fry pan:
peanut and sesame oil, shaved garlic and ginger, sauted some sliced frozen pork loin, then tossed in greens, soy (2T) and 1/4 C water (the pork was grilled and had a lot of flavor), and let the greens steam a bit. While that was cooking, I cooked the soba in salted water for about 4-6 minutes, strained and tossed all to heat. Really fast, healthy and very satisfying.

Spend some time in Crestview's small produce area. It's got more than you might think.


Introducing my new infrared thermometer with laser

New IR temp gun with laser
I'm not paid as a scientist anymore, but I do enjoy the tools of the trade. My newest acquisition is an IR laser-guided thermometer. Just measures surface temps, but it's fun, and the cat loves it. I got it primarily for the firedome; I wanted to know how the temperature and uniformity of the clay cooking surface compared to the dome temperature. I also want to smuggle it into pizza places and check their oven temps. It stabilizes in about a 1/2 second and the range is -76°F to 1022°F. I wanted a higher temp unit, but this'll do for a while.


Caramelized Onion, Asiago Cheese and Salt Focaccia

The other night I got to partake in a food blogger thingy at Wild Goose Creative and we were all supposed to bring an item for a potluck type spread. I usually make a traditionally topped focaccia for something like this because it travels well and is pretty good served at room temp.

This time I got a little crazy. I caramelized some onion, used some grated asiago on top and some Baleine coarse salt. When it was topped before cooking (1 Kg dough on a standard half sheet), it looked kind of bland and ... white. After cooking, the onion became crisped in places, the cheese melted and darkened and the whole thing came together more like a lightly topped pizza than a focaccia but I was quite happy with it. I think I'll make it again sometime.


Wow, that was friggin' awesome!

(click image to visit the Wild Goose Creative's site)

Tonight I had the good fortune to:
a. be outside in Columbus after 8:00 pm
b. sit on a panel of food bloggers at the Wild Goose Creative on Summit.

A bunch of foodies talkin' food. Aside from being from Columbus, weber_cam doesn't have too much to do with the local thing, so I was grateful to be included. I also learned from Nick I should go to Michael's Goody Boy Drive-in for b'fast. Thanks for the tip Nick.

While there, I offered (as I often do) to give anyone interested a tutorial to make a baguette or focaccia and a few showed interest. To this end, we could do these tutorials in my kitchen OR in group mode at the rear of the WGC. If you're reading this, let me know your preference in the comments. If we go with the group, each could launch their bread prep every 20 minutes. This way we could all watch the lesson repeatedly - this helps when learning a process like this and also staggers us for oven use. A class could easily accommodate 4-5 individuals baking their own bread (more could be spectators). All you'd have to pay is a few hours time (a little slower than the two hours promised because more people). I think it'd be fun for a weekend afternoon.

To the staff and visitors at Wild Goose Creative - Thanks so much!!

ps, During the panel, I rambled. In a class I'd be more focused, and I can almost guarantee you'd go home with something nice to eat cooked in the WGC's own oven.

PS - Rosie got a nice recap of the event. Thanks Rosie.


The biggest pan on earth (for pad thai)

The biggest pan on earth., originally uploaded by Seligmans Dog.

I've been reading Hungry Monkey, a great book about a Dad cooking simple, but wonderful, dishes with his little girl. There's a pad thai recipe in it that takes a bit of work to make the tamarind extract, but once done, the dish goes together in a couple minutes.

Whenever I make a dish like this I like to have a lot of room in the pan so the food doesn't suck ALL the heat from the pan. So, I got this heavy aluminum pan at Wasserstrom. It's killer. About $50, but we'll have it for life.


Baked Beans (w/ pancetta)

Baked Beans, originally uploaded by Seligmans Dog.

Was doing a casual burger cookout the other night and decided to have a nice side of baked beans. Didn't have a ham hock or other appropriate pork product to stand in for the backbone of the classic Boston Baked beans.

I did, however, have some leftover home-cured pancetta (courtesy of Andrew). Perfect. A little mediterranean would play nice with the traditional dish. It was too late to do all the saute and stuff to get this, so in 10 minutes or so these babies were tossed on the stove, about 18 hours before the get together.

My easy baked beans
pancetta, ca. 100 g, coarse chop
great northerns, 1C (dry)
dry mustard, Coleman's 1.5 t
pork fat, ca. 1T
parsley, 2T
brown sugar, 1T
ketchup, 1T
worcestershire, 1T
salt, 2t
water, 4C
Put in a cast iron dutch oven on smallest burner, covered, on lowest heat for 18 hours. Cooled and reheated for serving. Pretty amazing.

By the way, for only a finif, you can see me and a bunch of other food bloggers at ...
The Wild Goose Creative's Sunday night extravaganza: Too Many Cooks
When: Sunday, September 6th, 7 PM
Where: 2491 Summit Street, Columbus, OH 43202
I'll be signing autographs after the event.