Thursday, December 4, 2008

Stout Stout

Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout.

This stuff is good! (But if you don't like dark beer or stouts, you may turn your nose up at at - or it may make you change your mind about stouts.) But don't take my word for it. Google for reviews and read what beer-drinkers say.

The flavors are so complex, I have no idea what to pair with it. Someone has recommended pouring it over vanilla ice cream. Coffee, chocolate, malt - and if you pour it straight in the glass, a head that looks like the smoke plume on Mount St. Helens when it erupted.

$8.99 a 4-pack, and worth every penny. 9% alcohol, so drink it slowly and in moderation.

From the good folks at North Coast Brewing Company.


NB: It tastes better cold than warm, IMO. When served too warm (even at the preferred or recommended temperature), the alcohol taste begins overpowering the other flavors.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Dollars and Sense: Drip Brew Vs. AeroPress

The AeroPress scoop holds about 36cc, versus 30cc in a standard 2TB coffee measure.

I have been grinding and using 2 AeroPress scoops for about 10 oz. of coffee = 1 scoop per 5 oz. coffee = 0.20 AP scoop per 1 oz. coffee.

Last night, because we had several guests, I used the drip coffeemaker. I used 6 coffee measures of beans (= 5 AeroPress scoops), and ground the beans for drip grind (versus the finer grind I use for the AeroPress), and added water for 9 cups (= 45 oz.), which equals 5 AeroPress scoops for 45 oz. coffee = 1 AP scoop per 9 oz. coffee. It tasted pretty good.

This is just slightly over half (i.e., 55%) as much coffee per brewed cup, i.e., 0.11 AP scoop per 1 oz. coffee.

I'll have to make a 9 oz. AP cup using just one AP scoop to see how it tastes. Maybe I've been making my coffee too strong.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Breakfast Meats

Hebrew National 97% Fat Free Beef Franks make a great low-fat breakfast sausage. 45 calories per 1-frank (49g) serving (15 calories from fat), compared to MorningStar Farms Vegetarian Sausage Links at 80 calories (25 calories from fat) per 2-link (45g) serving.

Brown them slowly in a frying pan like a link sausage. Their spices make them taste more like a breakfast sausage than a hot dog, esp. when pan-grilled this way.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Perfect Pizza!

Easy Steps to the Perfect Pizza From Scratch


Making pizza is a great way for a family or circle of friends to get together and create a meal. This pizza is hard not to love: a crispy crust topped with slices of good prosciutto, spinach, olives, and one of my favorite cheeses, Manchego from Spain. I add the prosciutto after baking because the ham can become saltier when it is heated. To make it from scratch start at Step 1 the night before. Or save time with ready-made dough and begin at step 5.

Make the day before. Makes 4 Pizza Shells

1 cup warm water, 95 to 115 degrees
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (I prefer Lucini brand.)
3-1/2 cups all-purpose or multigrain flour
Pinch of kosher salt

Step 1: In a food processor, combine the warm water, yeast, honey, and olive oil and mix well. Process until the yeast dissolves and the mixture is bubbly. Add the flour and pulse. Add a pinch of salt and pulse again. Run the food processor until the dough makes a ball.

Step 2: Remove and place on a lightly floured surface and knead for 2 minutes.

Step 3: Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover well, and refrigerate overnight.

Makes 1 (8- or 9-inch) pizza

1 Easy Pizza Dough recipe (see above) or 1 ready-made pizza dough
2 tablespoons pitted and sliced black or green olives
1/4 cup shredded manchego cheese
1/4 cup fresh spinach
12 slices prosciutto
Olive oil for drizzling (I prefer Lucini brand.)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Step 4: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with a pizza stone in the oven.

Step 5: Remove the pizza dough from the refrigerator. Divide the it into fourths. Roll out one of the pieces to 8 or 9 inches in diameter. (Or use ready-made dough.) Place the dough on a lightly floured pizza peel or baking sheet with no sides.

Step 6: Top the dough with the olives and manchego cheese. Bake on the hot stone for 20 to 25 minutes, checking periodically. When the dough has a nice crust, remove it from the oven and place the spinach on top.

Step 7: Top with the prosciutto, then drizzle with oil, and season with pepper. Cut into four pices and serve immediately.

Note: Tightly wrap the remaining three pieces of pizza dough in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator or freezer for future use.

Monday, April 21, 2008

No-Knead Bread: Variations And Improvements

From a comment in my previous post:
Unfortunately, Jim Lahey's no-knead bread recipe is pretty flawed; it works for some, but a lot of us followed it to the letter and produced flat, gummy discs. Cook's Illustrated recently published a corrected version that is total perfection--*that's* the one you should use.
I found the following comments re: the Cook's Illustrated variations/fixes for Lahey's No-Knead Bread recipe (The CI site requires a subscription):

Cook's Illustrated does their thing with No Knead Bread

Looks like they made some minor changes that resulted in a better-tasting loaf. A little vinegar, a little beer, and a quick knead (which also reduced the rise time from 12 to 8 hours).

Cook's Illustrated this month has an article on No-Knead Bread. Instead of 1-1/2 c. water, they used 3/4 c. plus 2 T. water. Then they added white vinegar (1 T.) and a little beer (1/4 c. plus 2 T.) to add a little more taste.

It was great, probably the best I've made. I used Bud Light, since that was the only mild-flavored lager I had. CI suggested mild lager and we usually have ales or porters on hand.

A great suggestion from Cook's Illustrated is to let the dough do its second rising after shaping on a 12 x 18 piece of parchment paper sprayed with Pam and placed inside a 10" skillet. Let it rise there for 2 hours lightly covered with plastic wrap. The skillet keeps it from spreading out too much. Then when your cooking pot is hot (this time I used a 5qt. Mario Batali Dutch Oven) lift up the parchment paper and set the whole thing, dough and parchment, in the pot. Cover and bake, 30 minutes covered, and 20-30 uncovered. When the loaf is done, just lift out the parchment and the bread comes out easily.

I tried the basic "New" recipe from CI about a week and a half ago and I did think the beer and vinegar added to the flavor. CI has you doing minimal kneading - I still did the one bowl, fold the dough in the bowl method with no kneading. I have plans to try their WW and rye variations, too. Here are variations that CI mentioned:

Olive, Rosemary and Parm
Add 4 ounces (about 2 cups) grated Parm and 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves to the flour mixture in step 1.
Add 1/2 c chopped green olives with the water.

Seeded Rye
Replace 1-3/8 cups (7 ounces) AP flour with rye flour and add 2 T caraway seeds in step 1.

WW Bread
Replace 1 cup (5 ounces) AP flour with WW flour. Stir 2T honey into the water in step 1.

Cranberry Pecan Bread
Add 1/2 cup dried cranberries and 1/2 c toasted pecan halves to the flour in step 1.

Because of my dry climate I used 4 ounces of beer (Samuel Adams Boston Lager here) and a little more water. My loaf got a quite dark crust (tasted great but not so photogenic) so I didn't take a photo, but it was good.

Just this past weekend I made a No Knead bread. I was in a time crunch, if I had waited the 12 hrs for the first rise, then allow 2 more hrs. for the 2nd rise, I would have had to bake it off @2am. I didn't schedule it correctly, for sure.

Here's what I did & it worked for me. In a 2 cup glass measuring cup with 1-1/4 cups of water & placed in the microwave to boil, then placed the hot cup in the corner of the microwave. The "NKD" was in a plastic bowl w/its cover, I then placed the bowl as far away to the opposite corner of the MW as possible, there was approx 6" between the two. I did not open the "MW" door until I saw that it had risen.

An additional factor was, the oven was on for a good part of the afternoon. With the "MW" sitting above the stove, it may have been getting radiant heat to some extent, as well. If the oven wasn't on, then I probably would have reheated the water after 1.5 hrs., of course removing the bowl of dough.

In approx. 3 hrs. it was doubled, then placed the dough in the pot for the second rise. It all worked just fine for me. Saving a lot of time that I didn't have that particular day.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The World's Two Easiest Breads

From The Week Magazine:

Recipe of the Week: The world's two easiest breads

There’s now no excuse not to bake your own bread, said Nick Fox in The New York Times. A year ago, a columnist for this newspaper, Mark Bittman, published what we called "the easiest bread recipe possible." The no-knead recipe was created by Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan Street Bakery in SoHo. The response from readers "was so fervid you would have thought he'd revealed a foolproof way to pick winning lottery numbers." People desperately wanted to bake bread at home, and that recipe showed them how.

Recently Dr. Jeff Hertzberg, a physician from Minneapolis, developed an even easier bread-making technique. His recipe makes Lahey's method look "like molecular gastronomy." Both use 30 percent to 50 percent more liquid than most recipes that require kneading. Lahey's recipe, because it uses only a small amount of yeast, requires at least 18 hours of fermentation and often results in a very loose dough. Dr. Hertzberg's dough rises more quickly, and easily forms into a loaf that can be baked in a pan or on a hot stone.

Recipes of the week

No-Knead Bread (You can read more about this recipe in my previous post). Also see these Variations And Improvements.

Time: about 1-1/2 hours, plus 14 to 20 hours' rising time

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1-5/8 cups water
1/4 tsp instant yeast
1-1/4 tsp salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed

In large bowl combine flour, yeast, salt. Add 1-5/8 cups water and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours (preferably about 18), at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

Dough is ready when surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour work surface; place dough on it. Sprinkle with a little more flour, and fold dough over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; let rest about 15 minutes.

Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into ball. Generously coat cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran, or cornmeal; put dough on towel, seam-side down. Dust with more flour, bran, or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel; let rise for about 2 hours. When ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with finger.

At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex, or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up. (It may look like a mess, but that’s okay.) Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid, bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on rack.

Yield: One 1-1/2-pound loaf.

Simple Crusty Bread
Adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François (Thomas Dunne Books, 2007)

Time: About 45 minutes, plus about 3 hours’ resting and rising

6-1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, more for dusting dough
4 cups water
1-1/2 tbsp yeast
1-1/2 tbsp kosher salt

In large bowl, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees). Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be quite loose. Cover, but not with airtight lid. Let dough rise at room temperature at least 2 hours (and up to 5). Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two weeks.

When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough. Cut off grapefruit-size piece with serrated knife. Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, creating rounded top and lumpy bottom. Put dough on pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal; let rest 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it.

Place broiler pan on bottom of oven. Place baking stone on middle rack and turn oven to 450 degrees; heat stone at that temperature for 20 minutes. Dust dough with flour and slash top with serrated knife three times. Slide onto stone. Pour 1 cup hot water into broiler pan and shut oven quickly to trap steam. Bake until well browned, about 30 minutes. Cool completely.

Yield: 4 loaves.

Coffee: Why You Should Use Paper Filters

As you can read from the links in this post, paper filters eliminate almost all of the LDL-raising diterpenes from coffee. The French Press method, considered to be the "ideal" way of making coffee, is thus not good as far as cholesterol is concerned, and metal (gold) filters also don't protect you from these diterpenes.

While you can rinse and reuse the AeroPress filters, the amount of diterpenes increases, per this post. (The test rinsed the filter after 10 uses, and it showed that a rinsed filter resulted in nearly double the diterpenes of a new filter; I don't know if rinsing after one pressing would show the same increase in the subsequent pressing.) Since the filters cost only 1 cent each, it probably makes sense to use a new filter each time, which is what I'll now do.

(This suggests to me that espresso, being unfiltered, is also not good for LDL levels.)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

AeroPress: Less Coffee, More Taste

Alan Adler, Inventor of the Aerobie AeroPress

As many have commented, the AeroPress uses more coffee per serving than other methods (e.g., French Press). I earlier posted my coffee-stretching/saving solution.

Alan Adler, the inventor of the AeroPress (and the Aerobie Flying Ring - pictured behind him), has this to say about getting more from the AeroPress:
For those who want more extraction from the AeroPress, here are some ways to accomplish that:

Use finer grind, that requires a VERY GENTLE pressing. That in turn takes longer and you get more extraction from the fine grind AND from the longer wet time. My experience is that you can push extraction up to 25% this way with no increase in acidity or bitterness.

Press more water through the bed of coffee. That both extracts more and reduces the strength of brew trapped in the puck. My experience is that this noticeably increases bitterness. But rasqual [a CoffeeGeek Forum poster] likes this approach.

Use hotter water. This may be better anyway for light roasts -- even if you're not seeking to reduce coffee expense.

Have fun, do a lot of tasting comparisons. They needn't be blind, but side-by-side comparisons are recommended.

Best regards,

I thus may tinker further with my procedure. Since I already use my grinder's finest setting, I'll try a combination of longer extraction times and less water (I currently press all 10 oz or so through a 1-scoop serving; maybe I'll cut that in half to about 5 oz. of hot water).

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A Great Cup Of Coffee!

Thursday night (4/3/08) I stopped by Texas Roast (Highland Village) and picked up a pound of fresh coffee beans because some friends were coming over for dessert and coffee.

I was told the coffee had just been roasted that day or the night before, and it must have been true, because it was still degassing (i.e., expelling the CO2 that roasting causes the beans to give off), for when I brewed some AeroPress coffee with it, it foamed all over the place!

I bought the Fireside Roast, and in the words of Agent Dale Cooper, it makes "a damn fine cup of coffee."

Two days later I made a cup with beans I had ground Thursday night, and it was still fresh-tasting and great!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Better Burgers!

A sun-dried tomato and feta stuffed burger.

(I know that Lent is a horrible time to post this!)

A better burger, made at home

Mix it, stuff it, top it, elevate it to gourmet status
01:06 PM CDT on Wednesday, April 11, 2007
By TINA DANZE / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News

Remember when burgers came only two ways: with or without cheese?

Back then, the better burgers hailed from greasy-spoon dives, while the better restaurants avoided them completely. How times have changed. As new ingredients continue to creep into the standard recipe, hamburgers have scaled the status ladder, gracing menus at swanky spots and fetching handsome prices.

If designer burgers can be cash cows for some restaurants, how about giving your own burger a makeover? It's not an expensive proposition.

Start by seasoning the meat with more than just salt and pepper. Chopped herbs, minced onions, garlic and bottled sauces add flavor when mixed with the raw ground meat.

Next, stuff your burgers with crumbled cheese (such as blue cheese or feta) or grated cheese (cheddar, fontina or Jarlsberg). Putting cheese inside the burger, rather than on top of it, results in a moister, juicier burger, since the cheese melts into the meat. Don't limit stuffings to cheeses, either. Sautéed mushrooms and earthy, ready-made pestos make good fillings, too.

But there's no sense in gussying up a burger without the right meat. And it need not be expensive, but it should be at least 15 percent to 20 percent fat. Any leaner, and the burgers will be dry and bland.

Ground chuck is widely acclaimed as the best choice, winning out over ground beef, ground sirloin and ground round. Unfortunately, package labels don't necessarily match actual content. Unless your butcher grinds the meat for packaging, he can't guarantee that you're purchasing 100 percent ground chuck.

The good news is that most supermarket butchers will grind a chuck roast for you on request.

If you want to venture beyond beef, try ground lamb, or mix ground lamb with ground chuck. But don't count on turkey or chicken for a juicy burger - unless you've acquired a taste for drier patties.

Finally, don't skimp on the toppings and buns. Besides the traditional lettuce and tomato, sautéed red and green bell peppers, caramelized onions and roasted green chiles make excellent toppings. Mixing other seasonings into mayonnaise boosts its flavor.

And a host of bottled sauces - teriyaki grilling sauce or barbecue sauce - can replace ketchup .

Buns can range from bakery-made hamburger buns (such as the small ones sold at Central Market) to rosemary focaccia bread (Whole Foods Market) and Poppy Seed Kaiser Rolls (Minyard bakeries).

You can follow our recipes for Blue Cheese-Stuffed Burgers, Mushroom-Stuffed Teriyaki Burgers, Mushroom-Stuffed Cheese Burgers and Feta-Stuffed Lamb Burgers or create your own versions, drawing inspiration from suggested combos.

Each recipe uses 1 pound of ground meat to make four small burgers, which require small buns.

If you want a heftier burger - big enough for the commercially made hamburger buns - use 1 1/2 pounds of ground meat.

Tina Danze is a Dallas free-lance writer.


1 pound ground beef chuck

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup finely minced white onion (may use food processor)

2 tablespoons finely minced parsley

1 cup crumbled blue cheese (Gorgonzola is a good choice)

Combine meat, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, onion and parsley.

Form the meat into 8 patties, about 3/8-inch thick. Place an equal amount of blue cheese on half of the patties, pressing the cheese in slightly with your fingers. Cover the stuffing with remaining patties. Seal the edges by pressing them together with your fingers. Refrigerate.

Preheat grill to medium-high. Grill the patties uncovered for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 minutes per side for charcoal grills, flipping once, until internal temperature reaches 160 F. (For gas grills, cook covered 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 minutes per side.)

Serve on small hamburger buns or French bread with tomato, red onion and cooked bacon slices with lettuce or spinach leaves. Makes 4 servings.

PER PATTY (without bread): Cal 413 (62% fat) Fat 28 g (14 g sat) Trace fiber Chol 118 mg Sodium 992 mg Carb 3 g Calcium 197 mg

SOURCE: Tina Danze


1 pound ground lamb

1/4 cup finely minced cilantro

3 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves

1/4 cup finely minced or coarsely grated red onion

1 teaspoon Thai red chile sauce

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried crumbled oregano

3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Sautéed peppers and onions (recipe follows)

Combine lamb, cilantro, mint, onion, chile sauce, cumin and oregano in a bowl.

Form meat into 8 thin patties, about 3/8-inch thick. Place an equal amount of feta cheese on half of the patties. Cover the stuffing with the remaining patties. Seal the edges by pressing them together with your fingers. Refrigerate.

Preheat grill to medium-high. Grill the patties uncovered for about

2 1/2 to 3 1/2 minutes per side for charcoal grills, flipping once, until internal temperature reaches 160 F. (For gas grills, cook covered for 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 minutes per side).

Serve on small hamburger buns with sautéed peppers and onions.

Makes 4 servings.

Sautéed peppers and onions: Slice 1 red and 1 green bell pepper lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips. Halve a white onion from root to tip and slice into 1/4-inch half-moons. Sauté peppers and onions in 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat until softened. May be prepared ahead of time, refrigerated, then reheated in a foil packet on the grill.

PER PATTY (without bread): Cal 459 (63% fat) Fat 32 g (14 g sat)

Chol 135 mg Sodium 449 mg Carb 9 g Calcium 180 mg

SOURCE: Tina Danze


1 pound ground chuck

3 tablespoons minced scallion, white and green part

1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Mushroom filling (recipe follows)

Combine ground chuck, scallion, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce and black pepper in a bowl.

Form meat into 8 thin patties, 3/8-inch thick. Place an equal amount of mushroom filling on half of the patties, leaving a margin around the edge. Cover the stuffing with the remaining patties. Seal the edges by pressing them together with your fingers. Refrigerate.

Preheat grill to medium-high. Grill the patties uncovered for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 minutes per side for charcoal grills, flipping once, until internal temperature reaches 160 F. (For gas grills, cook covered for 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 minutes per side.)

Serve on small, sesame seed hamburger buns. Makes 4 servings.

Mushroom filling: Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a skillet. Sauté 1/2 cup chopped onion with 1 tablespoon garlic in the skillet over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add 3/4 pound chopped mushrooms, and cook until the mushrooms have released their juices and the juices have evaporated (about 7 minutes). Add 4 tablespoons minced scallion, 3 tablespoons oyster sauce and 1 tablespoon rice vinegar and continue cooking for another 2 minutes. Cool completely before stuffing and cooking the burgers .

PER PATTY (without bread): Cal 326 (58% fat) Fat 21 g (6 g sat)

Fiber 2 g Chol 70 mg Sodium 805 mg Carb 10 g Calcium 27 mg

SOURCE: Tina Danze


1 pound ground chuck

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

3/4 cup grated Jarlsberg or Gruyère cheese

Mushroom stuffing (recipe follows)

Combine ground chuck, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and cheese in a bowl. Form meat into 8 thin patties, 3/8-inch thick. Place an equal amount of mushroom stuffing on half of the patties, leaving a margin around the edge. Cover the stuffing with the remaining patties. Seal the edges by pressing them together with your fingers. Refrigerate.

Preheat grill to medium-high. Grill patties uncovered for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 minutes per side for charcoal grills, flipping once, until internal temperature reaches 160 F. (For gas grills, cook covered for 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 minutes per side.)

Serve on small hamburger buns or french bread with your choice of condiments. Makes 4 servings.

Mushroom stuffing: Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Put in 3/4 pound chopped mushrooms and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Put in 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 1 tablespoon minced onion, and 2 tablespoons dry vermouth or sherry. Stir and cook until mushrooms have released their juices, and the juices have evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cool completely before stuffing and cooking burgers.

PER PATTY (without bread): Cal 384 (61% fat) Fat 26 g (13 g sat) Fiber 1 g Chol 107 mg Sodium 705 mg Carb 6 g Calcium 224 mg

SOURCE: Adapted from The Complete Meat Cookbook


Flavored mayonnaises

•Mix 1 to 2 seeded and minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce with 1/2 cup mayonnaise.

•Add 1 to 11/2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger to 1/2 cup mayonnaise.

•Combine 1 part herb, olive, red bell pepper or sun-dried tomato pesto with 1 part mayonnaise or to taste.

•Combine equal parts finely crumbled blue cheese and mayonnaise.

•Combine Dijon mustard with mayonnaise.

•Mix 2 tablespoons minced cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice with 1/2 cup mayonnaise.

•Mix horseradish or wasabi mustard with mayonnaise to taste.

•Mix 1 teaspoon curry powder with 1 cup mayonnaise or to taste.

Alternatives to plain ketchup

•Steak sauces

•Bottled Asian sauces (Thai peanut sauce, teriyaki grilling sauce)

•Barbecue sauces

•Jerk seasoning finishing sauces for the grill

•Specialty ketchups, such as chipotle or jalapeño

About mustards

Dozens of mustards grace the grocery shelves these days, from herbed mustards, cranberry mustard and champagne mustard, to Jack Daniel's and Jim Beam mustards. Central Market carries the widest selection, but the big chain supermarkets also carry an amazing variety.


Stuffing burgers

•Use clean hands to mix ingredients into the raw meat.

•Don't overwork the meat or else the patty will be too dense.

•If using a cooked filling, such as mushrooms, be sure to cool the filling completely before stuffing the burgers .

•Stuffed patties may be prepared 1 hour ahead of grilling and refrigerated until cooking time. T.D.


Other fillings for stuffed burgers (quantities are for 1 pound of ground meat divided into 4 small burgers)

•1/2 cup minced sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil (or use sun-dried tomato pesto) mixed with 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese.

•1/4 cup basil pesto mixed with 1 cup mozzarella cheese.

•2 strips cooked, crumbled bacon mixed with 1 cup cheddar cheese.

•3/4 cup Central Market's truffle mushroom spread (sold in bulk in the refrigerated case).


•Keep ground meat and raw hamburger patties refrigerated, especially if you form your burger patties before the fire is ready.

•Wash your hands before and after handling the meat.

•Thoroughly wash all surfaces that come into contact with raw meat.

•Do not cook burgers to rare or medium rare. If you're uncertain about doneness, invest in an instant-read thermometer, and cook until the internal temperature registers 160 F. T.D.


Preparing the grill

Heat coals in a chimney fire starter until they are covered with gray ash. Spread the coals over the bottom of the grill. Set the cooking rack in place, and preheat the grill, covered, for 5 minutes.

If using a gas grill, preheat the grill with all burners set to high and the lid down for 15 minutes. Use a wire brush to scrape the cooking grate clean. Oil the grate by dipping a small wad of paper towels in vegetable oil, and holding the wad with tongs, wipe the grill rack.

Cooking the burgers Cook over a medium-hot grill (test by placing your hand 5 inches above the grate; you should be able to hold it there for 3 to 4 seconds). Place the burgers on the hot grate, and sear the first side (this may take 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 minutes). You want the burger to develop a crust on the outside. Don't flip the burgers repeatedly - one turn per side is enough. Don't press down on the burgers with a spatula - it squeezes out the juice and dries them out. When the first side is seared and crusted, flip and cook the other side. If you are using a gas grill, cook covered for 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 minutes per side.

SOURCE: American Classics

Thursday, January 24, 2008

How Much Will YOU Pay For Good Coffee?

I love coffee (good coffee, that is!), but I think this is a bit much: At Last, a $20,000 Cup of Coffee

Be sure to view the
slideshow of pictures.

A more down-to-earth opinion (that also corrects the $20,000 figure) from
Posted Tue Jan 29, 2008, 1:34am
Subject: Re: $20,000 Coffee Machine
I paid a visit to the new Blue Bottle today. On my way in I saw James Freeman, who was leaving. After learning that he was illegally parked and that taking his space was not likely to save me a ticket, I asked him why the device I was going in to look at cost $20,000. His comment was something to the effect that the cost issue was overblown. Apparently the reporter asked him what the whole rather impressive-looking setup cost. Thinking it over, and factoring in the cost of the ice-drip apparatus, the burners, the sneeze guard, the installation and the 75 or so backup Hario pots ($100-150 apiece is my guess), he threw out a ballpark number of $20,000. This then became the story reported on the Continent and points east as the "$20,000 cup of coffee".

The place was busy. I successfully feigned nonchalance when asked for $10.85 for my pot of Sidamo DP, and sat down, fortuitously, right in front of The Apparatus. The theatre is impressive indeed. I want one of those things and I will likely strongly consider one for our next store. I may even fashion one to upgrade our existing Octagon location, where the Clover is overwhelmed by demand.

There were many things that caused some concern. Number one, the wait was almost 25 minutes, in which time I saw perhaps 5 pots go out. That struck me as excessive. Also, I think too much has been made of the bamboo paddle and stirring technique. I didn't get the impression that the two bartenders were exercising any particular skill. I may have missed that one, though. The price also seemed high, for $1.00 worth of ingredient cost, and a higher than average labor cost. Lastly, and this was the real kicker, the coffee was only good. I expected (hoped, is more accurate) to be floored. I wasn't. I place the blame for this specifically on the New York Times and generally on the culture of hype that surrounds our industry sometimes. I imagine that while it's great to have the publicity and the consequent lines of customers, James might concur with me on this last point. There is a pitfall in unrealistic expectations. This is vacuum coffee, afterall, such as any self-respecting CoffeeGeek would make at home, and that many of us grew up with.

The service was quick, attentive and professional. The lavender and sea salt "pairing" caramels were really good. The experience was great. I'll be going back. For regular old espresso. And the remarkable spectacle of the siphon bar. It's a bit like a Corvette that way. A fun car to watch someone else drive.

James, I hope I didn't offend with this commentary. I very much enjoyed meeting you, and I loved the new store. You deserve all your success. I'm glad you enjoyed Lulu's at the Octagon. Do ask for me next time you're in. I'd love to buy you a drink and chat some more.
More info and links here.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

AeroPress Update

I have found an improved way to make coffee with my AeroPress that also saves on the amount of coffee one uses.

The recommended method is to use about 1 AeroPress scoop (36-38 ml versus a typical 30 ml (2 TB) coffee scoop) of beans per serving, put the ground coffee in the large tube, add the appropriate amount of water, plunge, and then fill your cup with water to make a full cup of coffee (i.e., ~6 oz. liquid coffee total per AeroPress scoop).

A method that seems to extract more flavor and hence uses less coffee (but it's only good for one cup at a time*), and also results in a better-tasting cup of coffee, IMO**, is to plunge all the water through the ground coffee. I.e.:
  1. Using a bit less than 1 AeroPress scoop of beans, grind it fine (espresso grind) and put the ground coffee as usual in the large outer tube that is on your empty cup while you're heating your water.
  2. Pour enough hot water into the inner tube/plunger to fill it (8 oz. all the way to the rim).
  3. When the hot water is at the desired temperature (165-175° or whatever you have come to like), pour it slowly at first (to moisten and expand the grounds) and then completely into the outer tube.
  4. Stir with the paddle for 10 seconds or so as usual.
  5. Plunge for 20 seconds or so as usual.
  6. Drink and enjoy!
If you use a full AeroPress scoop, you will likely find that you will have to add a couple more ounces of water to the drink, either to the outer tube in addition to the 8 oz. from the inner tube/plunger before you plunge, or into the cup after you have plunged the coffee, or the coffee will be too strong.

* If you want a larger cup, then use 2 shallow AeroPress scoops ground a bit coarser than espresso in the outer tube, and reserve 16 oz. of the heated water in, e.g., a 2-cup measuring beaker. When it's the right temperature, pour slowly as much of the water as you can into the outer tube until it's almost at the top, and stir it for 10 seconds or so with the paddle. Since some water/coffee will have dripped into the cup, top off the outer tube with more water just before you plunge, and then after you have plunged the coffee, use what's left of the 16 oz. measure of hot water to fill your cup, and stir. You will still have plunged most of the water through the coffee, so you'll have the extra-taste benefits this method produces.

** The new instructions for the AeroPress say:
If I am just making a single cup, can I push all the water for the cup through the press? Yes, but when you push a full cup of water past the grounds it extracts bitterness. Diluting your espresso-sized pressing with hot water makes a much smoother brew.
This has not been my experience, however. YMMV.