Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Coconut Shrimp

I recently had the craving for coconut shrimp.  My lovely wife and I celebrated our 25th anniversary in New Orleans.  On one of our many excursions through the French Quarter, we stopped at a small local cafĂ© and had their coconut shrimp.  They were delicious and the following is a close recipe we have enjoyed here at home -

1 pound of Jumbo white gulf shrimp (18 count)
2 egg whites
1 T corn starch
1 C organic coconut
a little pink Himalayan sea salt after the shrimp are fried.
coconut oil

I cleaned, deveined and butterflied the shrimp.  I dried them in a paper towel.  I put 1 T of corn starch in a grocery bag and dropped in the shrimp.  I shook up the grocery bag so all the shrimp would have a fine dusting of corn starch.  I beat up the 2 egg whites and dipped the shrimp in for a good coating.  I then rolled the shrimp in the coconut and put them in a black iron skillet on a medium heat.  If it is too hot you will burn the coconut.  When they are golden brown, place them on a paper towel to drain.  Then add the salt as desired. 

I did not do any research and as far as I know, I created this recipe.  Think about it, it just makes sense.



Enjoy ~

Monday, August 4, 2014

Southeast Texas Smoked Pork Spareribs ~ ramblin's

When it comes to pork spareribs quality is very important.  Butchers offer ribs in various cuts.  They can be rough cut with a lot of bone, St. Louis cut without the chine, tail and tips, back rib cut also without the tips, flap and chine.  What is sold as a baby back rib is simply a small pig with the ribs cut with a band down both sides.  The added cost more than makes up for the loss of the flap, tips and chine bone.  Years ago a fresh, rough cut 2.5LBS and down pork sparerib was my favorite product.  These days you are lucky to find 3.5LBS and down frozen ribs.  Obviously, the more bone the meat markets sell the more profit they make.  The older the pig, the bigger the rib.  The bigger the rib, the heavier the rack.  Here in Southeast Texas the Asian food market has dominated consumption.  Paying the cost of a case of 2.5LBS and down is prohibitive if you can even find them.  Custom orders are very expensive.  In a perfect world I would order cases of young pig ribs carefully cut with a small chine and leave the tips alone.  As we all know, this is not a perfect world.  All that said a chef could butcher the 3.5LBS and down and saw off some of the tine and a bit of the end if that was the final product they were after.  The cheapest way to buy ribs is cryovaced in the meat case at your local grocery store.  This product has been frozen and thawed and has sat for a while until purchase.  Usually it is a pretty cost effective way to buy large qualities at reasonable prices.  Smaller racks can be cherry picked from the case and they will work. 

Prior to smoking ribs I like to prep them first.  Make sure you remove the membrane on the bone side.  The membrane is very easy to remove with a sharp knife and a paper towel or rag.  The paper towel is necessary to get a grip on the membrane.  You can simply peel the membrane off and move on to the next rack.  Removing this membrane allows the bone side to absorb rubs, liquids and smoke.  It is my opinion; it just makes for a better final product. 

There are many ways to take a rack of ribs to the chef’s idea of perfection.  The chef can cook low and slow away from the firebox for many hours and occasionally baste with his version of sop.  Some chefs use spray bottles to baste their ribs.  Some common liquids used are apple juice, coke, Dr. Pepper, root beer, beer, lemon juice, orange juice, pineapple juice, the list is as long as your imagination.  Typically, people have a perception of the direction they want to take a rack of ribs.  In Texas, folks like them in just about every way.  I like them in just about every way.  I call a tender, dry rib, the jerky style method.  They are very good and low on moisture.   

Some chefs smoke jerky style and at some point in the cooking process they wrap the racks in aluminum foil to finish them off.  This method can be varied in 100’s of ways.  You could smoke them for a short period of time and wrap.  You could take them half way then wrap.  You could take them to 75% then wrap, on and on.  This method produces a very tender rib with various levels of moisture in the meat.  

Other methods include boiling the rack prior to the smoking process.  Some old school chefs swear by this method.  An old timer out of Liberty County used to boil his ribs in a pot with a little apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper.  He would then smoke them until they reached his idea of perfection.  The one thing I remember about his outcome is the fact you could actually taste the meat.  It was not slathered with brown sugar and hot pepper hiding the true flavor of the pork.  Barbecue sauce on a perfectly executed rack of ribs is down right insulting.   

The key point in cooking a rack of ribs is the method you utilize.  There are 1000’s of methods and even more flavors.  Ribs have a very delicious flavor left alone.  Deviating off the true flavor of the meat is not what I personally like.  I do like some heat and a little sweet so I keep things pretty natural.  Natural sweetener can include apple juice, orange juice, pineapple juice etc.  Although I do not like things overly salty, I do like to add a very little salt to my ribs.  Adding a small amount of sodium can be achieved by just laying off the shaker.  However, I like to use a small amount of soy in the cooking process.  It is my opinion; a subtle hint of soy enhances the flavor of the pork.  I also enjoy the flavor of garlic and onion.  I try to never over season; I try to keep the flavor profile subtle.  When it comes to adding some heat I usually stick with cayenne pepper.  A little cayenne pepper will fire up the rib and not dominate the flavor.  The final outcome can go anywhere the chef desires.  Personally, I do not always prefer ribs that have been smoked over a long period of time.  If I am in the mood for a very tender rack of ribs, high in moisture, with a hint of smoke, I have a method for that.  To achieve this I fire up the pit with pecan wood and get it steak cooking hot.  I prep and marinate the ribs in a triple thick heavy duty aluminum foil “boat” for an hour of two.  I throw the ribs on the fire bone side down and brown them and then flip them and brown them on the meat side.  Do not burn them, just brown them.  During the searing process you pretty much have to look at them often being very careful not to burn them.  After they are well browned on both sides I then place them back in the marinade in the individually made aluminum boats.  Each boat should have a cup or 2 of marinade/liquid in them.  For each rack I pull out a very large amount of heavy duty aluminum foil a little longer than twice as long as the boat.  I set the boat on top of the foil and completely seal the whole boat lengthwise.  When I say completely sealed I mean no air transfer at all.  A small leak will ruin the process.  When you put the boats back on the pit they will steam for about 3 hours.  I try to keep them away from extreme heat.  The liquid in each boat should be more than enough to last the entire cooking process.  After about 3 hours at 250 to 300 open up one of the boats to determine how well they are done.  I like to remove them after the number 2 rib will wiggle just a little away from the meat.  This may be too tender for some chefs.  Make sure you check them and remove them at the tenderness you desire.  After they cool down a little they will firm up a bit.  That’s it for now. 
Bon Appetite!       


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Homemade Wheat Bread

Update!  Homemade Bread!
Recipe is for 2 loaves
4 Cups organic wheat berries
Fresh milled
1/3 C organic olive oil
1/3 C organic (RAW) honey
2 t's sea salt ( I like pink Himalayan)
1 T yeast
2 C very warm water (filtered)
mix until dough clings to dough hook
 Let rise in the mixing bowl until double in size (about 20 minutes)
then beat dough down and divide into 2
then let dough rise in a warm oven until it is 1/2 inch above the sides of the bread pan
Then bake at 350 for 36 +- minutes
until golden brown
let rest on a cooling rack for 30 minutes

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Pan-seared cod with roast vegetables and brown rice

I rinsed and dried the cod filets and then lightly covered them in fresh lime juice.  I then sprinkled the filets with a little of my latest dry rub.  I then added a little more fresh cracked black pepper and a little olive oil.  I cooked them in a hot black iron skillet in a huge hurry.  I put a little olive oil in the skillet.  The result was a highly moist and flavorful pan-seared filet.  I sprinkled a little dill on the filet on the plate.  The vegetable were cleaned and rinsed and put in a bowl.  I sprinkled a little lime juice on them and then a little apple cider vinegar, I added a small amount of dry rub and a little olive oil and I rolled them in the ingredients to get well coated.  I spread them out on a sheet pan and cooked them for about 30 minutes on low broil and then another 10 on high broil or until desired caramelization occurs.  The brown rice was done with homemade chicken stock and al dente, like I like it!

Sunday, March 24, 2013


In a large pot put about 3 TBS of olive oil and brown onions and celery till they are slightly brown. 

In a separate bowl season meat pieces with black pepper, granulated garlic, toasted and pulverized camino and coriander and soy sauce.  Mix well and then add to the pot with the  already slightly browned onions and celery.  When the meat is slightly browned add 3 or 4 carrots (chopped), 1 cup of chopped fresh cilantro, fresh garlic and about 3 to 5 cups beef stock.  Cube up 2 or 3 potatoes and add after the stew has come to a boil and then reduced to a simmer for a few hours.

Meat – 2.5 LBS cubed
Potatoes – 3 cubed added after 3 hour simmer
Beef Stock – 4 or 5 cups
Olive oil – 3 TBS
Onion - 1 or 2 chopped
Cilantro – I used half a bunch or about 1 cup chopped
Celery - 5 stalks or so chopped
Carrots – 5 or so chopped added after meat is browned
Coriander – 2 TBS roasted and pulverized in a spice mill added to meat prior to browning
Camino – 2 TBS roasted and pulverized in a spice mill added to meat prior to browning
Black Pepper - 2 TBS
Salt - 1 TBS
Soy - 3 or 4 TBS added to the cubed meat and mixed well with spices 
Garlic – fresh (added when simmer begins) and granulated (added to meat) 

Bring the pot to a low boil and then cover the pot and simmer (low) a few hours then add potatoes and simmer for a few more hours.  After the potatoes have been in for a few hours open the pot and stir to make sure the potatoes are well cooked.  The liquid should be thickened by the potatoes.

As with any dish I prepare these days, I have to be keenly aware of sensitive pallets.  My youngest can detect any pepper.  If I was doing this just for me, I would cut up 4 or 5 fresh jalapenos and maybe a couple fresh serranos and throw them in with the carrots.

Enjoy ~

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Breakfast Sausage

Breakfast Sausage

1 pork butt trimmed
Fresh ground organic sage (fluffy and fragrant) (5T)
Fresh garlic (to taste) (5T)
black pepper, white pepper and Szechuan peppercorns (rough pulverized together) (5T)
organic red pepper flakes (pulverized) (1T)
whole fresh organic nutmeg (pulverized) (3T)
whole coriander (roasted and pulverized) (3T)
whole camino (roasted and pulverized)  (3T)
pink Himalayan sea salt (to taste)
a dollop of Bragg’s apple cider vinegar (1/2oz)
the juice of 2 fresh limes

I trimmed the pork butt into small rectangular shaped pieces so they would feed easily through my grinder.  I put all the above ingredients and thoroughly mixed with the meat and let it marinate for an hour.  With the fine blade I ground the pork one time and then mixed the ground pork by hand.  The outcome is an extremely flavorful breakfast sausage.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Homemade Grass-Fed Beef Jerky

I have been experimenting with various flavors here lately.  When it comes to citrus, I like the flavor and sweetness of the pineapple.  Pineapple juice marinated jerky is very flavorful.  I like to get my salt from soy sauce another of my favorite flavors that really goes well with jerky.  So my thinking on this batch was to lower the heat by reducing the amount of red pepper.  Keep in mind these are organic, Indian, rep pepper flakes.  Very hot to say the least.  The sweetness would come from pure sugar cane crystals and the pineapple.  The first thing I did was lay out the strips on the aluminum foil sheets.  I then dusted with granulated garlic and granulated onion, fresh cracked Tellicherry black peppercorns and a little pink Himalayan sea salt.  I then painted with a mixture of pineapple juice, soy and sugarcane crystals all over the meat.  The final step was to sprinkle with red pepper flakes that I partially powderized in the spice mill.  After everything is seasoned I place the sheets of meat in the hot sun until they were dry.  I then cold smoked the meat for 4 hours in my smoker at 150 degrees.  Homemade jerky is good stuff ~