Sour Beer

I recently discovered Sour Beers.

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This one is exceptional. All that I will say at this point is “Try it , You’ll like it”!

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Turkey Day

The clock is ticking and it’s not stopping for anyone.
I’m sure everyone has their favorite way to prepare that Thanksgiving turkey

20131118-190201.jpgbut, if any of you out there have any questions on the matter post them here as a comment and they will be answered by SteveFromScratch along with some top tips. Bring it on!

Seeds + Grains + Legumes = Proteins !

Beans & Other Legumes

20131111-150957.jpgBlack-eyed peas, as well as other beans and legumes, are rich in protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. Your body breaks carbohydrates down into sugars before absorbing them. These sugars, mainly glucose, are the primary source of quick energy for your body. Fiber is indigestible material that passes through your gastrointestinal tract intact and helps carry waste and excess cholesterol and blood sugar out of your body. Beans, peas, and other legumes can fit into your diet as a healthy side dish with lunch or dinner.

Seeds

20131111-151217.jpgSeeds are not just for the birds. They are tiny packages of antioxidants, vitamins and plant compounds that can help lower cholesterol and offer other health benefits to humans. But use them sparingly. Seeds, raw or roasted contain many nutrients. They also have a high amount of fat, which often leads people to veer away from them when they are trying to lose weight. This seems like a logical idea, but in truth, they are not fattening. What matters most is how you use them in your diet. Seeds by themselves do not cause fat gain, provided you stay within your caloric means. This goes for all the foods you choose to eat. Seeds have a high amount of protein and moderate amount of fiber. Each of these nutrients creates a full feeling in the stomach when consumed. This means you can satisfy your appetite on a small portion of seeds and not get fat. Fiber has additional benefits. The type in sunflower seeds is called insoluble. Insoluble fiber prevents constipation and reduces the chances of colon cancer.
What Makes Almonds so Healthy? Although almonds are referred to as nuts, they are technically the seed (or pit) of the almond fruit. And, like most whole foods, they are naturally rich in a variety of nutrients and antioxidants that help your body thrive. One of the healthiest aspects of almonds appears to be their skins, as they are rich in antioxidants. Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Agriculture implemented a mandatory pasteurization program for almonds in 2007, a measure they claimed would improve food safety. But what this really means is that you can no longer get truly raw almonds in North America. Almonds remain a wholesome food that may offer you benefits for weight loss, heart health and more, but to get the whole range of benefits, seek truly raw almonds that have not been pasteurized — which, fortunately for those in North America, can still be found from high-quality sources online.

Grains

20131111-151631.jpgQuinoa does have some powerful health benefits. It tastes great, it is high protein, and it is part of another major food trend of today – gluten free eating. It is also high in protein, A good source of riboflavin, and it is a complex carbohydrate. This is again good for weight management. The healthiest kinds of grains are whole grains. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that at least half of all the grains you eat are whole grains. Chances are you eat lots of grains already. But are they whole grains? If you’re like most, you’re not getting enough whole grains in your diet.
Is Cracked Wheat All It’s Cracked Up To be? Cracked wheat is just what it sounds like: the cracked berries of whole wheat. The distinctively nutty food is versatile, low in calories and loaded with nutrients. You can find cracked wheat in the bulk foods section of most grocery stores. If you do not have a bulk foods department, look for it near the other grains and rice. New research confirms that refined grains, like white rice, pasta or breads, are linked to increased rates of metabolic syndrome, a predictor of both cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Eating at least one serving of whole grains such as cracked wheat every day lowers the risk of high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure by as much as 21 percent. Try this alternative to a meat burger and I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised. With a little bit of thinking outside of the proverbial box you can even come up with other ways to serve this Plethora of Protein.

Black Eyed Pea Vegetable Burgers With Sunflower Seeds and Pepitas

What You Need:
2 – 15 ½ oz. Cans Black Eyed Peas, Rinsed and Drained (reserve the liquid for later use)
1 ½ Cups Red Quinoa, Cooked
½ Cup Green Onions, Diced
1 Cup Cilantro Leaves, Chopped
½ Cup Sunflower Seeds, Roasted & Salted
½ Cup Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas), Toasted
¼ cup Reserved liquid From BEP’s
2 Teaspoons Granulated Garlic
1 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
Kosher Salt to Taste
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil for Sautéing

What You Need To Do:
Mash BEP’s in mixer with paddle or with hand masher until smashed.

20131111-152441.jpgCombine BEP’s, Quinoa, Green Onions, Cilantro, Sunflower Seeds, and Pumpkin Seeds.

20131111-152632.jpgMix Thoroughly.

20131111-152758.jpgThe mixture will be loose. Add in the reserved liquid from the canned BEP’s. Add the Granulated Garlic, Black Pepper, and Salt to taste. Mix thoroughly to combine. Mold BEP mixture into patties or desired shape and allow to rest in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

20131111-152924.jpgHeat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat and add olive oil. When the oil and pan are hot, gently slip the patties into the pan. Allow patties to cook for 3-4 minutes per side until nicely browned on each side. Serve on your favorite roll or bun, or alone, with your favorite condiments.

Clean Poutine

Poutine has been gaining popularity and varieties over the years and anyone who knows what it is and who’s eaten it can understand why. I’m sure some of you have even eaten this dish and didn’t realize it had a name.
So what is Poutine? Poutine is a delectable combination of warm crispy french fries topped with brown gravy and fresh cheese curds.
This mess was born in Canada, most will say Quebec, in the late 1950’s. One story goes like this: A French cook in Quebec was asked to put some cheese curds on an order of french fries and said – “ça va faire une maudite poutine” (“it will make a damn mess”). The gravy was added to keep the mess warm longer. However sloppy the dish looks, it has some of the most familiar comfort foods in it. No wonder it’s so damn good. Slowly Poutine crept into the northern States in the US, and eventually it has gotten so popular and trendy that chefs all over the United States are pimping their versions of this Canadian mess. I’ve heard tales of Poutine topped with such amenities as truffles,caviar, bacon, chicken, short ribs, pulled pork, lobster, shrimp, and even rabbit. Whatever’s clever is what I say, just as long as you keep the 3 core ingredients that make it so indulgent and mouthwatering. This is the perfect dish to experiment with and come up with your own version.
Be adventurous. Experiment. Enjoy.
Here’s my version. I took the 3 essential ingredients, potatoes, cheese, and gravy, and repurposed, re-ordered, and re-presented them to introduce you to….“Clean Poutine” !
I used locally sourced Shatto Farms Mushroom & Garlic Cheese Curds (the cheese component),

20131110-173326.jpgbreaded them with finely crushed Miss Vickies BBQ Potato Chips (the potato component),

20131110-173456.jpgand served them with a rich and luscious Bordelaise sauce (the gravy component) on the side for dipping.

20131110-173614.jpgNeat. Clean. Comforting. Addicting!

Roasted Butternut & Acorn Squash Soup …AKA…The Fall Classic

Butternut and Acorn Squashes have a hard rind and a golden orange and green flesh.

20131109-165357.jpgSimilar to other types of winter squash, they are at their best from early fall through winter. As most of you are reading this we are headed out of our fall season and into that dreaded time of the year that we call winter. Here is one of my favorite and best recipes for this time of the year. This is simple, easy, and full of flavor. It’s the perfect soup to warm your soul on one of those cold dreary fall or winter evenings.
If you really want to do something wild and crazy add just a touch of brown sugar to each bowl as you serve it. Trust me!
Heat your oven to 425°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
Lightly grease or spray a baking sheet. Place the squash pieces cut-side up on the baking sheet. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and brush all of it over the tops and insides of the squash halves or rub it on all over with your hands and fingers. Season generously with salt and pepper.

20131109-165944.jpgRoast until tender, about 50 minutes to an hour.

20131109-170134.jpgMeanwhile, cut the onion into medium dice. Melt the remaining 5 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan oven over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

20131109-170433.jpgWhen the squash is ready, set the baking sheet on a wire rack until the squash is cool enough to handle. Using a spoon, scoop the flesh into the saucepan with the sautéed onions and garlic and discard the skins.
Add the chicken broth,

20131109-170856.jpgcanned tomatoes in juice,

20131109-171313.jpgand salt and pepper, stir to combine, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally and breaking up any large pieces of squash, until the flavors meld, about 15 minutes.

20131109-172011.jpgProcess with a hand or stick blender until smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream, hot sauce, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

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Popp Tarts Part 2

Ok, here we go with Part 2 of the Popp Tart Experience. A classic Pop Tart is filled with jam or chocolate, or some other sweet filling, but there are no rules that say you can’t place a savory filling of your choice inside this variation on a “Hand Pie”!
I used a slightly different recipe for this pastry than the one I used for the sweet filled Popp Tarts. For these I used a variation on a standard pie crust but I added an egg and used all butter for some extra flakiness.
To make the Dough mix together 2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour and ½ teaspoon salt. Work in 1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pats, with your hands and fingers, a pastry cutter, or food processor until pea-sized lumps are formed, and the mixture holds together when you squeeze it. If you used a food processor this is the point where you want to dump the mess into a large mixing bowl. Whip together 1 large egg and 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) milk and stir them into the dough, mixing just until everything is together. Knead the dough lightly and refrigerate, wrapped in plastic for at least 2 hours. While the dough is resting make your filling.
I chose to fill these bad boys with a Bacon and Mushroom mixture. I cooked some bacon,

20131108-220723.jpgtossed in some shiitake mushrooms,

diced red onions and chopped fresh garlic,

20131108-221135.jpgcooked it for a few minutes until the mushrooms softened. Then I added some A-1 Steak Sauce, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, whole butter,

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20131108-221918.jpgsalt, pepper, and a splash of Madeira wine. I let this concoction come to a gentle boil and cooked it for 3-4 minutes until it slightly thickened. Take it off the heat and add some diced green onions and cilantro

20131108-222310.jpgand allow to cool completely. It should have the consistency of a thick jam, almost gelatin like.
Wake up your dough from its little beauty nap and roll it out into a rectangle, keeping the thickness of the dough to 1/8”. Cut the large rectangle into smaller rectangles making them twice as big as the serving size that you wish to end up with. Put a tablespoon or so, depending on the size of your Popp Tarts, on one end of the tart. Brush the edges of the dough with beaten egg, fold the dough over and crimp the edges shut with a fork to seal. Cut a small slit in the top of each tart to allow steam to escape during the baking process, otherwise your Popp Tarts will end up like a giant puffy pillow instead of a flat toaster style pastry. Place the Popp Tarts on a lightly greased or parchment paper lined baking tray.

20131108-222836.jpgRefrigerate the tarts for a short power nap of 30 minutes, allowing the dough to rest once again, while you preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Remove the tarts from the fridge and bake them for 20-25 minutes until they are a light golden brown color.
Cool until they are easily handled and if so desired top with icing. I frosted these delights with a Baked Bean Cream Cheese Icing. That’s a symposium of flavors if I ever saw one.

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How To Make Your Own Bacon, “Steve From Scratch” Style

Bacon has been around for thousands of years. It started out long ago as someone’s attempt to preserve meat, long before refrigeration was even thought of, by curing it. Back in those days the salt was used primarily to remove bacteria in the meat that could make you sick, allowing a person to keep said meat around longer without cooking or refrigerating it. These days we have improved our culinary skills greatly and we use the curing process to give great flavor to meats. The salt used in curing extracts most of the water from the meat, and if you add other seasonings to the cure, what is left behind is a nice flavor intensified piece of meat.
My point is that if you love Bacon you will love this experience. It is not only easy and inexpensive to make your own bacon, but it beats the store bought stuff hands down. It’s so good it will make you happier than a hobo who just found a ham sammich. Everyone likes bacon, right??? Just the smell of it is enough to start your mouth watering. The smell of Bacon cooking is enough to calm a crying baby. I know some Vegetarians and Vegans who make exceptions for Bacon. Bacon is probably the closest thing I can think of to prove that God exists. Bacon is the Shit!
The first thing you need to do is go to your favorite meat counter or butcher shop and buy yourself a piece of pork belly. It usually comes in slabs about 10 – 15 inches long by 8 inches across. Make sure you get your pork belly with the skin on.

20131104-193620.jpgNext you need to cure your pork belly. I used a mix that was made up of Kosher Salt,

20131104-194202.jpg Brown Sugar,

20131104-194411.jpga top secret BBQ seasoning of mine,

20131104-194555.jpgand a small amount of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix.

20131104-194821.jpgTrust me on this.
Mix up your cure thoroughly

20131104-194959.jpgand rub it into your pork all over. Use all of the cure.

20131104-195143.jpgThe next step is to put that meat into a large sealable zip-loc bag and wait.

20131104-195434.jpgI usually cure mine for 7 days. I like to flip the whole package over once a day. Drain off any accumulated liquid each day when you flip it.
After a week, pull out your belly, rinse it off, and pat it dry. Leave the meat on a tray, uncovered, in the fridge for another day to develop the pellicle. The pellicle is important to the smoking process. It acts as a kind of protective barrier for the food, and also plays an important role in capturing the smoke’s flavor and color. It is important that air be able to flow around all sides.
The last step, the home stretch in this marathon of meat, is the smoking. Keep in mind that you’re only going to smoke your bacon, not cook it. Get your smoker going and heated up to 190 degrees. Do your best not to let the smoker get over 200 degrees for the entire smoking period. Put your cured pork belly in the smoker, rind or skin side up. Close the lid and smoke that bad boy for about 2 hours. Take the belly out of the smoker and while it is still slightly warm, cut off the skin / rind, leaving as much fat as possible.

20131104-195749.jpgNow it’s ready to slice.
Cut slices off the pork belly to the thickness you prefer,

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20131104-200457.jpg cook over low heat to your desired crispiness level. It’ll keep for a week in the fridge, or months if frozen.
One last thing : when you cook your homemade bacon in the pan, you’ll have a substantial amount of melted fat left in the pan. DO NOT THROW THIS AWAY. Bacon fat is amazingly tasty, and you’d be throwing away the equivalent of gold. Instead, pour it into a heat-resistant container and store it in the fridge. You can use it for a bunch of stuff. You like fried eggs? Instead of greasing the pan with butter, try bacon fat. Next time you make popcorn, drizzle a little melted bacon fat on instead. Anything that calls for oil or butter, try bacon fat. Pastas, salad dressings, even toast. The uses are endless, as are the rewards. You may never go back.