Chicken 'n rice

Grilling in the Summer is de rigeur, in the Winter grilling is special!  A few projects culminated in a simple and tasty meal the other night.

A few days ago, I was continuing my foray into all grain brewing.  I have been accumulating a lot of spent malted barley.  Before it got dumped in compost, I grabbed a couple hundred grams to play with.  Yes, as regular reader(s) know, I love the meatball in all its forms.  Combining the coarsely ground thighs (200 g) with the hydrated spent barley (100 g), spices (salt, pepper, oregano, basil) an egg, couple T of milk (chicken, milk and grain - add some pork fat and we couldn't desecrate Kashrut more) and enough bread crumbs to keep it together, I formed them into patties and grilled them.  I used a hot direct flame for a few minutes per side per patty.

These little grilled patties were very nice and even better as a leftover. I served them with a simple pilaf, asparagus and a dipping sauce of labne, water, lemon juice, crushed garlic (trace), honey and salt.


Pizza on cast iron

Some time ago, Bethia asked if I used cast iron for cooking pizza a la Heston Blumenthal.  Blumenthal's pizza may be good, but the method is too clumsy for me to consider when cooking for a crowd.

The valuable nugget I did glean from this is the possibility of baking pizza on cast iron.  What a wonderful, buy-it-once-per-lifetime cooking surface.  While there exists a 15" round cast iron pan at Amazon that makes me salivate excessively, I found a cheaper griddle for a few bucks the other day at the thrift store to experiment with.  My first pizzas on this were going to be wispy thin pizzas inspired by California Pizza Kitchen (love their pies - think CPK will give me ad money now??).  Made some dough [water 300 g, salt 5 g, sugar 10 g, olive oil 30 g, yeast 1 pkg, unbleached white 300g, kneaded in a machine, placed in fridge for the week].  A few hours later, I pulled 100 grams of the dough to make a couple afternoon snacks.

Preheated oven to 450F, rounded the balls and rolled them into 8" diameter shells (click image to make larger).

50 g rounded dough rolled to a ca. 8" shell
Here's a shot of the cast iron griddle in the oven.
Topped the shells with a bit of tomato paste, thinly sliced, roasted cauliflower, ham, sprinkle of parmesan and a drizzle of oil and baked it about 12 minutes.

In conclusion, the cast iron was awesome.  I'll be getting a nice round for the Firedome.  In the meantime, for these 8" personal pies, I may make them a tad thicker, but this thinness was pretty nice.  And, califlower is pretty nice as a pizza topping.


Savory flatbread / sticks

Note the surface has been painted with oil and scored using a pizza cutter.  
One of the flatbreads out of the oven.  The pizza cutter scoring isn't showing up, but they are there.  Also, this scoring is as good as docking the bread, so no worries about it puffing like a pita.  This was 180 of dough rolled to 14" x 8" (roughly).
Once thoroughly cooled, break apart and hide them.  The flavor develops over an hour after baking.  They need no special packaging.  They're fine out on the counter, they won't last very long.


Every crockpot needs a thermocouple

Our first crockpot ever. I've always used a cast iron Dutch oven in a low oven. This is probably a cheaper alternative.
I'll also be checking the warm setting and its temp fluctuations for a sous vide attempt.