If you’ll look carefully you’ll see a liver with the gallbladder still attached. Bile is not really the kind of aromatic you want I don’t think. That’s what we get from the nearby supermarket. And I didn’t have to pay extra, so everyone wins.
On cooking beets. I’ve tried the pressure cooker/steamer method, it’s too messy, but definitely faster. 20 minutes that way vs 1 hr or so at 300 convection. The pressure cooker would work fine if I were really pressed for time, but given more time to plan the oven works just fine. They’re done if they are fork tender, because if beets are undercooked everyone will know. Peel them and cut into bite-size chunks.
The other concept to grasp here is that of layering vegetable dishes and salads. I’ve tried tossing all of these ingredients in a bowl and dressing them together and it just doesn’t work. It might taste the same, but it looks like hell. You have to layer each ingredient to get the look you want. This dish comes together by dressing the greens first, then the beets separately and topping with fresh strawberries, pan-roasted pecans, and brie.
I really don’t have an idea of what the hell a London Broil is, other than to know that (1) they occasionally go on sale and (2) they’re super lean and flavorless. We can do something about that, because we have smoke.
Spicy beef bowl with tzatziki, parsley, and mango
Liberally salt and pepper 1 London Broil.
Start your smoker. For this application, I used cherry wood chips. Yes they’re a little hard to find, and yes it’s worth it.
Smoke at 225-250 until internal temperature is 130.
Slice thin on the bias, against the grain. You’re looking for a 45 degree angle. If needed, slice the meat into manageable strips.
! cup of yogurt
Small handful of diced cucumbers
2 minced garlic cloves
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Heavy pinch of fresh dill
Salt to taste
Separate parsley leaves from the stems, dress in olive oil until well-coated. Add apple cider vinegar and salt to taste.
Peel, slice, season with a little salt. If you need more instructions, you’re in the wrong place.
I think rice would be good, but we were thinking lower on the carbs. Put the beef in a bowl first, followed by the tzatziki. Top with parsley leaves, followed by mango, and then douse with your favorite hot sauce. I used Frank’s, in general my favorite is Crystal. The hard part is the meat, particularly in preparation and slicing. This is a hot-smoke style of cooking, but the temperature stays pretty low. The point is that you only need an hour to impart smoke flavor to any meat. The cherry wood I picked up online from the folks at grilldome.com, the flavor is really sweet with minimal bitterness. What’s funny about this dish is that it draws from multiple influences: tzatziki, mango, hot sauce, parsley. You get cool, smoke, salt, sweet. It’s not that you have to reproduce this exactly, it’s more of a starting point…
Some would argue against the characterization of knife sharpening as an ingredient, but I beg to differ. I’ve recently noticed knife exchanges on foodie websites between visitors and the web master that were either disturbing, or simply disappointing. I attribute this to a lack of information on the subject, so in my infinite wisdom, I will try to remedy the situation. I approach this subject from a perspective not familiar to most foodies, home cooks, or even to a great number of chefs – manual DIY sharpening. I spent 5 years putting myself through undergraduate and graduate courses by peddling man cave sundries at a knife (and shaver) store – part of the Victor Kiam/New England Patriots empire. Yes, that long forgotten bastion of shopping mall manliness that also sold darts, dull samurai swords, and nose hair trimmers – all laced with testosterone and requiring burliness to browse.
We worked on commission, and I spent much of my time peddling sharpening stones to browsing patrons by sharping the knife they were carrying – for free. The primary selling point became how I could easily sharpen a knife by hand on a tabletop diamond stone that could shave the hair from my arm. The most difficult part was maintaining an unshaven patch of hair on my arm for the demonstration. I learned in those days the proper angle for holding a knife while sharpening, how to sweep the knife on the stone to uniformly sharpen the knife from tang to tip, and most importantly, how to “finish” the knife on a sharpening steel. One of the most misunderstood tools in the kitchen, the sharpening steel really doesn’t sharpen, at least not the traditional kind. The traditional sharpening steel simply knocks microscopic burrs from the knife edge, which makes it slice better. Eventually, you will need a proper sharpening of your knives. But most home cooks think that the sharpening steel is all they need, if anything, to keep their knives functioning properly.
A Proper Sharpening
I realize that my grandfather would probably disagree, but I believe the diamond stone is a better tool for sharpening than the traditional whetstone, and with much less mess. Diamond stones are metal plates with diamond dust embedded in them, and can be quite expensive, since a proper sharpening requires three different stones of varying sizes of diamond dust – let’s call them coarse, medium, and fine. Instead of oil, the stones use water for lubrication and can be rinsed clean under running water. In keeping with the diamond theme, I also use a diamond steel on a regular basis, followed by a traditional sharpening steel. A proper sharpening goes from coarse, medium, to fine on the stones, then to a fine diamond steel and ending with the traditional steel.
I understand that a proper sharpening takes some practice, and requires a bit of time to be successful, which is probably why most chefs, and not many home cooks ever try it. A professional chef will typically send out his knives for professional sharpening, which we also did in our retail man cave. Since those places are difficult to find, another option for the home cook (and professional chef) is the Chef’s choice knife sharpener. There are various models available at all price points, they have a long successful history, and are almost foolproof. Look them up on Amazon, along with the DMT diamond steels and sharpening stones. They may become your most important ingredient too.
But we pick ourselves back up. Life gets in the way, but it’s not like the fire isn’t burning. If you’re ready for a new sensation, we’ve got some good stuff coming. Back from the depths of vegetarianism and the most peculiar spring I’ve been through in a while, we’re still moving forward. Call it refinement of craft, or just trying to figure out the offshoot direction that we have to take our home cooking, we’re about perseverance. It’s crazy, but this is just a blog about a few people bouncing ideas off of each other, and yet we now have more than 10,000 hits. In broad, short strokes, here’s what we have to talk about:
1. Hot smoking and cold smoking, and how to use it and when.
2. Nashville gets a bunch of press. We’ve been there and sampled it, there’s good, great, but there’s also meh.
3. Foraging and edible plants. We have an interesting experience with edible plants, Noma, and Catbird Seat to share.
4. How do we carry forward the vegetarian momentum? I have a few ideas.
5. The spring grill. More than burgers and dogs. When’s the last time you grilled your salad?
6. The ubiquitous kale. Why you need to know about it.
7. The garden is growing, but it took a while. The virtues of DIY, what we’re growing, and why.
8. Local trends in beer service and consumption. It’s never been better!
9. What to drink with what and when. Rose’ season. What to know, what to look for, and why it was never white zinfandel.
10. With garden comes surplus. Pickling, preservation, use of over/under-ripe veggies. And a word on home gardening.
If you’ve ever read these posts and gotten anything out of them, please respond in comments either on Facebook or on the blog itself. We’ve gotten a few interesting questions, and we’re happy to field any question, no matter how obscure. If we don’t know the answer, we know where to look, or we can try to work it out ourselves. At the end of the day, we’re all about cooking food for our family and friends, and trying to do it better tomorrow than we did it today.
Our obsession with supremacy makes us do a bunch of crazy stuff, because we crave association with “the best.” I mean, why else are there so many Alabama logos everywhere I look in Middle Tennessee? Surely not all of these people went there.
How often do you get bogged down in looking at Amazon customer reviews? I confess to doing the same, because I fear spending money on an inferior product. Wow, we’ve come a long way, haven’t we? What happened to the days of buying only what you had around you, regardless of the quality? Maybe we’re culturally tired of settling for something when we can have it better.
Which brings me to the point of restaurant rankings and reviews. Who do you trust in this matter? Can you rely on Yelp? Maybe sometimes, but look at what people put on there. Yeah, the videos are pretty funny, but here’s a comment that comes from a 2 star review:
“The hostess was super friendly and helpful – but that was the highlight. The bartender was incredibly rude to our entire party. Total attitude problem – and seemed put out to serve us from the moment we arrived at the bar.”
So because they didn’t like the bartender the whole place gets dinged? Realize also that there’s filtration put on Yelp reviews. They throw out the lows and sometimes even the high ones. But if you don’t know these people, how can you tell if their bad experience will be relevant to you? You can’t.
A number of the reviews are read by the actual owners/management of the establishment. I posted a pretty critical review once and was messaged by the owner of the establishment offering to comp my next meal. I didn’t take them up on it, but did go back on my own dime some time later and regretted it. But that’s me. I have my reasons for why I didn’t like it, and it’s not a one-size fits all.
The fallacy is that there is no “best restaurant.” Just like there’s no “best song ever.” While you need guidance sometimes, you have to use discretion about where you get that information from. There are guides like tripadvisor, Zagat, and Michelin, but how much political influence and money do you think goes into stuff like that? Probably more than we want to know. When you consider that a restaurant’s revenues frequently mirror yelp ratings, how many positives are true positives? Is it OK for an owner or investor to put a 5 star rating?
Your best advice comes from someone that you know and trust that has similar preferences to yours. “They can’t put anything on the internet that isn’t true.” To that I reply, Bonjour.
I saw a tv special about these good folks in NYC making their pickles. I, like my oldest son, am a pickle freak. The classic sours are pickles like you wish everyone would make them but can’t. The hotties are interesting and live up to their name in terms of spicy. I’m really interested in checking out the smokra. Or maybe…I need to figure out how to make my own.