Mesquite-Smoked Beef Brisket

Like good ol’ smoky barbecue?  Well, you don’t need any fancy equipment to make it.  In fact, you can make great stuff with a smoky flavor with a regular backyard grill.  No need for a separate smoker.  The following video reveals how you can do it, how to take the cheapest and most flavorful meat ever – beef brisket, and turn it into something divine, and all of that good stuff.  Yee haw! 

Published in: on October 14, 2010 at 3:09 pm  Comments (6)  
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Better Caprese Salad

Caprese salad is usually just a layered little dilly-ma-bob with mozzarella, tomato, basil leaves, and a drizzle of olive oil, balsamic, and maybe some fresh-ground pepper and sea salt if you’re lucky.  While it’s okay, the format doesn’t allow for the flavors to properly mingle and marinate.  Thus, making it like you’ll learn in this post is unquestionably superior…

Ingredients:

  • Diced water-packed mozzarella
  • Roughly-chopped basil
  • Several ripe tomatoes cut into wedges
  • 2T extra virgin olive oil
  • Lots of fresh-ground black pepper
  • Plenty of salt
  • 1-2T of balsamic vinegar

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients and let sit for several minutes to half hour to let the salt and vinegar start to draw the liquid out of the tomatoes.

Optional ingredients – Kalamata olives, roasted red peppers, diced salami, greens – particularly arrugula

And, if I failed to entertain you in the video and description above, you may prefer to try Coolio’s recipe.  He’s seems pretty excited about it (and he keeps his money spice between breasts, which I should try sometime to see if it enhances the flavor).  I wouldn’t let your kids watch this one.  Yeah, I know he’s just making a salad, but…  I clearly need to get a couple of “Sauce Girls” in my videos (Jenny?  Deb?).  Someday when I moves on up yo.  BTW, this is actually one of the funniest videos on the entire internet if you “axe” me.  Shaka Zulu!

Published in: on October 12, 2010 at 1:52 pm  Comments (5)  
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Yam Gratin in Traditional Cook Stoneware

In this post I’m killing two birds with one Stoneware.  First up, I was notified that Canadian Thanksgiving was soon approaching, and I wanted to become the first American ever to acknowledge Canada’s existence by cooking up my holiday favorite in preparation for Canadian Thanksgiving next week.  Hope this one becomes a Canadian tradition.  I leave it up to the dozen or so Canadians that will read this post to make this a viral holiday treat. 

Secondly, a big 180 follower and fan – and also a long-time Weston A. Price Foundation Chapter leader Maria Atwood of www.traditionalcook.com sent me a free piece of her amazing Stoneware.  This stuff is awesome.  I didn’t know what to expect, but the stoneware exceeded all my expectations.  This is far superior to any type of baking material I’ve ever used before, and there’s no way I’ll use glass Pyrex or Aluminum pans for baking ever again. 

The Stoneware is very heavy, which creates perfectly-even heating.  It also has a rough, sandpapery surface that keeps food like this gratin from sticking to the pan while giving it a crisper crust all in one shot.  Ooh, it came out so nice.  I highly recommend Maria’s stoneware, which is totally affordable and ships within just a few days.  CLICK HERE to view all the different stoneware pieces Maria has for sale and get yours before she runs out of her holiday inventory.   

Anyway, here is the video for my favorite starchy, seasonal holiday side dish – a savory, rather than marshmallowy and sweetened “sweet tater” dish that many of us fear having to eat at those holiday occasions.  Seasoned with cayenne, lots of salt, garlic, and ideally tarragon (damn you grocery store!), this does not have the grotesque sweetness of any yam/sweet potato dish you’ve been served in the past. 

Ingredients:

  • 5 yams or sweet potatoes, sliced as thinly as possible
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 bunch chopped tarragon
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • Lots of cayenne pepper and lots of salt (more than you would think)
  • 2 cups chopped pecans

Directions:

  1. Make the “sauce” by whisking the cream, half and half, garlic, and seasonings all together in a large bowl.  Add enough salt to where the cream mixture has a noticeably-salty flavor.
  2. Mix the cream mixture with the sliced yams/sweet potatoes until each slice is somewhat coated.
  3. Grease a Stoneware rectangle pan with butter.
  4. Pour in the sliced yams and cream, spread evenly throughout the pan, and pack down tightly.
  5. Add a little additional half and half if yams are not at least half submerged. 
  6. Cover with aluminum foil and poke a few holes in it before placing in the oven at 425 degrees F. 
  7. Bake for at least 45 minutes then reduce heat to 375 and bake for an additional 15 minutes or so, or until yams are fully softened. 
  8. Remove aluminum foil and pack the yams down again with the back of a large spoon or spatula.  Add chopped pecans and bake an additional 10-15 minutes until pecans are crispy.
  9. Remove from oven and let it cool and settle for at least 20 minutes before slicing into squares and serving. 

This goes great with just about anything, and is certainly not something I serve only on holidays.  In fact, having a baking dish full of nice squares of starch portions makes for very convenient meals throughout the week or on the go for work. 

Big thanks to Maria Atwood for this awesome baking dish!  www.traditionalcook.com

You can read more about why Maria is so into her Stoneware baking dishes at http://traditionalcook.com/Stoneware-Article.pdf

And about the virtues of Stoneware for baking here:  http://traditionalcook.com/more-stoneware-popup.shtml

Fire-Roasted Red Peppers

Nothing special in this post – just a nifty little trick that some of you with gas ranges might find to come in handy one of these days.  While oven-roasted and grilled whole red peppers are both fine and dandy, and I believe superior to fire-roasted peppers, there’s nothing more convenient and easy than this when you just need to roast a couple.  And it makes the kitchen smell unbe-frickin-lievable. 

Just slap ’em on the burner, and turn the flame on high – rotating until all sides are charred.  Finish by placing in a bowl and covering to let them steam until soft and tender – with easily-removable skin. 

Published in: on October 4, 2010 at 1:35 pm  Comments (2)  
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Guinness-Braised Oxtail

I’m obsessed with good food right now, and this dish, along with the Texas-style brisket briefly shown in the oxtail video, has been among the best things I’ve ever prepared.  Stay tuned to the 180 Kitchen blog for the rest of the year.  I’m planning to go off with some really neat stuff and posts twice per week or more… 

It was a little daring going with Guiness for this braise, but the finished product had a unique flavor that is truly one of the deepest, richest, and most exotic flavors that I’ve ever created in one pot.  I’m not sure I’ll ever use red wine to braise with ever again, especially when Costco sells Guiness for $1 per can.  I served it with a very rare form of Ligurian homemade pasta… a lost art known as croxetti, which someday I hope to demonstrate as well. 

Anyway, the video below (which features the term “poop chute”) demonstrates the universal method for braising, which can work for everything from rabbit legs and lamb shanks to Osso Bucco, short ribs, and the most flavorful – oxtail. 

There’s no finer way to heat your home as we head into fall than with a good braise at low temperature in your oven. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 oxtail, additional meat and bones from other cuts if desired
  • 2 cups each of carrots, celery, and onion – medium dice
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 cans Guinness
  • 1 “bouquet garni” or herb bundle of thyme as shown in the video
  • Salt to taste
  • 3T coconut oil

Directions:

  1. Dry oxtail with paper towel
  2. Brown in hot coconut oil until all sides have at least some brown coloration
  3. Remove oxtail and sweat mirepoix (carrots, celery, onion) in remaining fat in the pan until very soft and lightly browned
  4. Add tomato paste and toast in the hot pan for several minutes to form what’s called a “pincage”
  5. “Deglaze” with Guiness, add oxtail back to pan along with herb bundle, bring to a boil, and reduce until saucy consistency.
  6. Cover with cold water just until everything is submerged, but don’t drown it.
  7. Bring back to a boil.
  8. Cover with a lid and put in the oven at 300 degrees F for 4-5 hours or overnight at 250 degrees F.
  9. Remove meat from the bones and mix meat back into the liquid.
  10. Skim most of the visible fat off of the surface with a spoon or ladle and save for future use – a good fatty oxtail makes the stew too greasy

Serve, ideally with creamy grits or polenta or root vegetable puree in the center with the stew surrounding it. 

For clarification on any of the above cooking terms, or for other variations of this basic recipe, see 180 Kitchen: 180 Kitchen Tips, Recipes, and More – the ultimate online cooking tutorial.

Proscuitto and Pave D’Affinois Sandwich

I call this badboy the glorified ham n’ cheese.  This was a tasty breakfast of mine while on a recent trip to New York City. 

During this trip, I kinda fell in love with food all over again.  I realized just how much good stuff I’ve been missing out on living in the middle of nowhere in Colorado.  In fact, this video features what is my all-time favorite rind-ripened soft cheese – Pave D’Affinois.  As you can see in the video, the texture is amazing.  So soft.  It makes Velveeta seem dry. 

Anyway, look forward to a lot more action coming up in the next couple of months at the 180 Kitchen blog.  I’m pumped about making good food right now and am filming several videos a week that will be coming out very soon – including some great photos of food I had in New York…

Published in: on September 28, 2010 at 2:16 pm  Comments (7)  
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How to Saute

This may seem like a simple lesson, but don’t overlook the fine details of cooking technique.  By taking the time to patiently cook things like cauliflower or zucchini as shown in the video until much of the surface area of the vegetable is well-browned and crispy on the outside – soft on the inside and infused with some tasty fat, you will turn seemingly bland and barely edible vegetables into something you can’t shovel into your mouth quickly enough.  Even the most sworn zucchini hater will have a newfound appreciation for the power of proper coooking technique when they lay into some of this…

Published in: on September 23, 2010 at 8:04 am  Comments (12)  
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The Homemade Cheez-it

These are, quite frankly, a little TOO awesome.  This is basically just a little homemade cheese cracker that makes for an incredible substitute for the typical run-o-the-mill junk food cracker.  No white flour, no hydrogenated oils, no synthetic vitamins and minerals, no artificial colors, no MSG, no high-fructose corn syrup, no other weird flavorings… Just pure cheese. 

To make homemade cheese crackers or “frico,” simply add shredded cheese of any kind to a non-stick pan, cook on fairly high heat until brown on one side, flip, cook a little longer, and then cut into squares while they are still hot.  As you’ll see in the video, they are best when they are not totally darkened in the pan but just lightly browned and cut before they start to cool and crispen. 

This is a formidable weapon to be used against any snack attack. 

Published in: on September 14, 2010 at 7:44 am  Comments (16)  
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Grilled Corn 3 Ways

Corn season is winding down, but don’t forget to try grilling your corn in one of the 3 ways I lay out in the following video.   By the way, if your mind is totally in the gutter, this video is pretty funny.  Let’s just say if this video was played in church some blood vessels might burst when I start buttering the corn.   

Published in: on September 3, 2010 at 2:48 am  Comments (1)  
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Creamed Corn

Yes, it’s time for my favorite.  Hardcore cornography! 

Creamed corn is the best of the best.  It may not look like much, but I haven’t found a single human being in my life so far that wasn’t impressed by this simple, rustic, down home perfection. 

To make creamed corn you just need some good, sweet corn, some butter, and some salt.  I like to use roughly 1T of butter for every 2 ears of corn for very rich creamed corn, and 1T of butter for every 4 ears of corn for a lighter version.  Season with salt to taste. 

To prepare the corn, all you need to do is rub the corn gently but thoroughly on a box grater until you have a bowl full of milky, mashed kernels.  Enjoy this video and the one coming next week on grilled corn – both of which are much more entertaining to watch if your mind is totally in the gutter while doing so. 

I served this to some guests the other day with grilled pork tenderloin and some sliced farmer’s market “maters.” 

Published in: on August 24, 2010 at 4:14 pm  Comments (24)