Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Roman Forum

Views: Rome, Italy by Jeffrey Waring

I am tempted to go through this image, and tag various locations based on the HBO series "Rome" and the movie "Gladiator".  For now, I'm happy I managed to embed this photosphere correctly.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

On making the fruit-tini

A few years ago, I was inspired by the Mythbusters' Bullets firing up episode.  Specifically taking bottom shelf vodka and improving its quality with filtration.  After trying it myself, I have to agree, the quality definitely improves.  You won't get top shelf, but you can easily transform plastic jug vodka into Absolut.

But why stop there, when you can make bottom shelf vodka into medium shelf fruit infused vodka?  And then take that infusion, and make the ultimate fruit-tinis.  These always get my guests wasted are crowd pleasers.

The procedure.

  • Take Nikolai, 100-proof, bottom shelf vodka.  Go for the 100 proof, higher concentrations of alcohol = better extraction.  
  • Filter through a brita a minimum of 5 times.  Note that the filter is never going to taste right for water again.  At home I have a specific booze brita for this function.
    5xs good.  8xs better
  • Take the filtered vodka and store it with cut up fruit.  The bests:
    • Pomegranate + Strawberries + other left over fruit
    • Pineapple + other berries
  • Let it sit for 1-2 weeks.  It makes a nice countertop piece:
  • Once complete, the vodka forms the basis of the tini.  To wit:
2 oz. Infused vodka
1 oz. triple sec (or Gran Mariner if you're living large
3 oz. juice (Some combo of pomegranate, orange, grapefruit, and lemonade
1/2 oz. of grenadine

Shake and strain over ice.  Serve in a martini glass, garnished with a cherry or twist.  Happy drunkenings:

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Roast Beef - Sous Vide Style

Whole Foods had chuck roast beef @ $3.99/lb.  Which is to say, Whole Foods had beef at actual prices.  Naturally, I had to jump on this.  After cutting up the 2+lb steak, there was only one way to cook the first portion...retardedly slow in my sous-vide getup.

Step 1:  Season and sear.
Trim the beef, and then rub it with salt and pepper.  Sear in butter in a cast iron pan...
mmm seared beef

Step 2: Bag it.  Add rosemary, thyme, garlic powder and white wine to a zip-lock bag.  Add the beef.  Work out as much air as possible.  

Step 3:  Slow cook.  I set Frankenstein to 135 degF.  The temperature controller has not performed quite as well as I hoped.  It seems to run +/- 5 degF.  For sous vide cooking, +/- 1 degF is really what you want.  Hopefully there is a workaround...
Step 4: 24 hours later...Make a pan sauce.  Take the sweet beef juice (lol) from the zip-lock bag.  Add butter.  Add canned mushrooms, salt, pepper.  Simmer it.
Step 5:  Finish the pan sauce.  I added heavy cream and a clove of garlic.  
Step 6:  Serve with twice fried fries...Someday later I will go explain how I make those...
bon appetit...
There are roughly $2.50 worth of raw ingredients on that plate.  As a side note, the steak could have been trimmed a bit more as the fat that remained was tough.  The beef itself was insanely tender.  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Porchetta - Sous Vide Style Part 2

Yesterday I attempted to make Sous Vide style Porchetta.  The procedure:

After roughly 24 hours at in the water bath, I pulled the meat out.

The meat at this point is almost comically tender.  Wrapped around the meat, the fat layer more closely feels like jelly.  I definitely needed to use care when handling.  However, I didn't want a gelatinous outer layer. The answer is simple: deep fry.
375 degF for ~4 minutes on each side.  The results:
This is probably the most tendor pork you can concievably make.  It also is stupidly rich and heavy.  Despite the heavy rub yesterday, I still felt like the pork needed more salt.  

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Porchetta - Sous Vide Style Part 1

I recently jumped into the Sous Vide cooking style with a DIY unit.  I call him Frankenstein: a cheap Temperature Control Unit powering a $9 used, dumb, slow cooker.  But what to use in my toy?  Motherfucking Porchetta.

Step 1.  Acquire pork belly.  $5 @ Whole Foods.
Step 2.  Scour the meat

Step 3.  Rub.  Apply liberally the following:

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Fennel
  • Thyme
  • Garlic Powder
I ground the fennel, thyme and pepper flakes with a mortar and pestel

Step 4.  Roll it.  Wrap it with Twine.  Rub salt on the fat side.
Step 5.  Bag it.  Try to remove as much air as possible.  The idea here to mimic a vacuum sealed pouch.
Step 6.  Add it to the water bath.  I set the controller for 158 degF.  The meat went in at 9 pm for dinner the next night.  The bag is weighed down to ensure it is submerged.

Stayed tuned till tomorrow for the followup.