Tuesday, July 14, 2009

How to Grill Lobster

Most seafood is on the list of anti-inflammatory goodness, with a few noticeable exceptions such as talapia, Mediterranean sea bass, and any fish that starts with the word, "cat." Stay away from those as a general guideline and eat the occasional lobster with gusto. Here's how to grill 'em.

Step one: butterfly your lobster tails by turning them upside down (lil' swimmers facing you), and make an incision from the bottom to the top. Then whack all the way through the top part leaving just the flipper flap holding it together. Following are pictures of all that just in case I made it too confusing.The whack

Next you want to pull the meat away from the exoskeleton, but not all the way, which means you'll still leave a connecting piece close to the end. You want to be able to get butter underneath the meat as well as on top of it. Same as with Cap'n Shrimpy's butterflied shrimp. While you're at it, make the same melted butter with garlic. You'll be needing it very soon. Here's what the "pulling away" process looks like.
So far, so good? Good! Because the next part is the easy part. Fire up the grill to medium hotish. My gas grill thermometer, which I'm sure is totally inaccurate, reads about 400. Get your melted garlic butter ready and give it all a good shellakin' before you even introduce your tails to the fire.

Throw 'em on, armor side down and watch very carefully. Shouldn't take more than ten minutes, and possibly way less. Baste with butter every two minutes. When your tails are almost totally opaque, flip them for the big finish for only a minute. Then take them off and baste once more, cause you just can't have too much butter when you're dealing with lobster.
I'm not suggesting you eat this much butter every day, but you probably won't have lobster every day, either. Just special occasions. Like when they go on sale. Or Sundays.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Coconut Flour Pancakes, Man

If you are looking for a truly guilt free way to eat pancakes that have the bonus quality of not putting you into a deep postprandial coma, you've come to the right place. Everyone loves them, see:

Coconut flour is gluten free, and high in fiber. It's also right tasty in certain applications, the following being one of my favorite. Here's what you need:
Three Tbs coconut oil or melted butter
Three Tbs coconut milk or heavy cream
Three Tbs coconut flour
Three eggs (notice a pattern here?)
Honey- probably about a Tbs, but I just squirt a big glop in the batter and it always comes out fine. Measuring honey takes too long.
1/4 Tsp baking powder (I've left it out and it still came out fine)
1/4 Tsp vanilla extract
1/4 Tsp almond extract (both extracts can be excluded is you don't have them, but it would be a lot cooler if you did)
A pinch of salt-- I prefer kosher salt or sea salt, but whatever.

That's it. I also tend to add pecans or blueberries or bananas or some combination (pecans and blueberries for today), but these things are great straight up.

Start with the eggs. I've discovered that whisking them until they're a pale yellow somehow makes them better in the recipe, although I'm not sure why. Next, whisk in the coconut oil. You really have to whisk it so it emulsifies with the eggs or you'll get solid chunks of coconut oil floating in the batter. Coconut oil solidifies at 75 degrees or so, and most people refrigerate their eggs. Whisk in the cream or coconut milk. Whisk in the flour, honey, and then everything else except blueberries if you're using them. I always add the blueberries a few at a time to the pancakes as I make them to avoid the batter turning blue, like that chick in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Heat up your pancake pan of choice. I have two. One is a giant cast iron griddle that takes a crane to get it out of the drawer, and the other is a non stick job that I usually end up using because it weighs less and I don't want to hurt my back making breakfast. That would be stupid.

A word on coconut oil-- there are multiple types and brands out there, so I've done some homework for you. As far as brands go, I don't think you can do better than Wilderness Family Naturals, which is a company that is owned and operated by a large homeschooling family in Minnesota. There are multiple types of coconut oil, and for the pancakes we use the extra virgin, cold pressed, centrifuge extracted oil, which has a coconutty flavor. There is also cold pressed extra virgin, but without the centrifuging, and it taste much more neutral for things that you don't want to taste like coconut. These oils are high in lauric acid, which is a saturated fat that has anti-microbial and anti-viral properties, and can be easily digested and turned into energy by your body. Lauric acid is one of the components of mother's milk, too. Feel free to check me on all of this...We also use WFN's coconut flour, too:After you get everything mixed, start making pancakes. I'm sure you know how, but here's some pics, just in case:The taste is definitely coconut tinged, and the texture isn't going to be what you're used to, but there is no doubt that they're delicious. Add that to the fact that they're good for you, and what you've got is health food for breakfast, which is a notoriously difficult meal for healthy choices. And the boys love them, just like they said.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tater Town

In my attempts to avoid grains (see here for why), and with my love of starchy carbs still fully intact, I've been eating more potatoes these days. And this has caused me to rip off things I've seen on the Food Network or in cookbooks or whatever. This is one of those recipes. I would give the appropriate credit, but I really can't recall the details. Just know I wasn't smart enough to come up with this on my own, and we'll go ahead and get on with it.

I also don't have many pictures of the actual process of this creation, but the final product should tell you all you need to know. Oh, I'll be giving you the usual descriptions with my cheerful interjections thrown in for free. Fear not.

First, get yourself a potato and make vertical slices most of the way through it. Leave it intact on the bottom so it will stay in one piece. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Get yourself some fat garlic cloves and cut them into thin slices too. Stuff these thin slices between the tater slices, dump olive oil over the top along with a good pinch of kosher salt and wrap the whole thing in some foil. Bake for 40 minutes. Open the foil and sprinkle with sesame seeds. We used black and white cause it looks cool. Cook for another 20 to 30 minutes. There you have it- a simple way to change up your usual tater routine. You should really click on these pictures to see the full sized versions in order to pump up your food lust. You know, if you're into that.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ghee for You, Ghee for Me

First off, don't believe the hype about saturated fats. You actually need some, and there are certain fatty acids in butter and coconut oil specifically that are anti-viral, anti-microbial, and generally just good for you. Ghee, for the uninitiated, is butter with the milk solids removed. The advantage of this is that the smoke point rises and the butter/ghee won't burn nearly as fast like olive oil or regular butter. Plus it tastes great. But enough talk- making ghee is easy, and the following will be more of a picture essay than a lot of words. I will inject some witty banter here and there, so don't you worry. First off, take a pound (four sticks, one box) of unsalted butter and add it to a pan over medium low heat.
Melt it slowly.

You will get some white foam that rises to the top. This is part of the milk solids. Skim them off the top with a spoon. You can keep the solids to spread on other stuff if you want, although I usually throw it away since I don't really eat bread or other stuff that I would be spreading mild solids on.
Once you get it skimmed, the butter will start to clarify (Ghee is sometimes called "clarified butter."). Keep cooking it on low/medium low to get it as clear as possible.

There will still be some solids on the bottom. Start watching them, and when they start to turn light brown it's time to strain. You can use a coffee filter if you have no fancy pants strainer. I have a fancy pants strainer, so that's what you see here.

I also have a glass jar to keep the finished product in. You can use whatever you want, but I prefer glass. Once your ghee cools you can store it a room temperature. Actually, I suggest that you do exactly that so your ghee will be soft and easy to use.

Once your ghee is solid it will turn a pale, beautiful yellow that you will now forever associate with the flavors of good eatin'. It's now time to saute something.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy New Year, and Tomatillo Sauce

The new year is here, and I think you should put this on your list of resolutions: make more sauces. I say this because I already have the pictures taken of this particular sauce, but also because nothing makes a home cooked dinner seem fancy like a good one. And in this case, nothing makes tacos or scrambled eggs more delicious. As a bonus, this stuff is also actually good for you.

You've probably had some sort of tomatillo sauce in your local Texican food dive- it's the green stuff next to the red stuff. You've probably also seen tomatillos in the store and wondered what they are and what people do with them. They're the green, tomatoey looking things with the weird pale green paper looking cover. Go buy eight of them, along with a Spanish onion (or any sweet, yellowish onion), some garlic, a jalepeno or two, and an Anaheim pepper (they're the long green ones like you see in the following picture). You could also use a poblano, or any other pepper combination. Cause, you see, this ain't rocket science. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Farrenheit. Quarter the onion and remove the paper skin from one garlic clove and all the tomatillos (they'll be slightly sticky under their covers) and douse the whole lot with some light olive oil, or canola, or whatever. Also salt and pepper.Blast 'em in the oven for 20-30 minutes. They'll get this color or brown, which is the minimum. I could have easily gone another ten minutes.Peel the charred skin of the Anaheim, de-seed the peppers if you want a milder sauce, then put it all in a blender, along with any accumulated juices from your pan.

Blend. You may have to add a little water to thin it out, or if you feel extra fancy, some white wine vinegar. I added nothing.
Apply finished product to tacos, eggs, or whatever else sounds good. Bonus trivia I recently learned watching the Food Network: tomatillos are members of the gooseberry family. I have no idea what that really means, but I'm sure Wikepedia does if you feel so inclined.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Braised Cabbage

I have to give the credit for this one to Molly Stevens, the author of All about Braising. The colder months are all about stews and soups and pot roasts, and All about Braising is one if the best books out there for one-pot meals that make your whole house smell like Northern Italy. Out of the many recipes in the book, this is one of our favorites, which is strange because there is no meat involved.

So here's what you need: One head of cabbage, a small yellow onion, a couple of carrots, salt, pepper, chili flakes, and about a quarter cup of chicken stock (or water if you're lame). You'll also need some sort of baking dish that can be put under the broiler. You're not supposed to use Pyrex under the broiler- a fact I just discovered- but I do anyway. But you shouldn't. Or if you do you shouldn't blame me if your dish explodes and your house burns down or whatever.

A whole head of cabbage will fill two 9x13 Pyrex dishes, and brother, that adds up to some cheap eating. Heat your oven to 325.

First just divide the cabbage into some thick wedges. Try and keep the core attached at the bottom of the wedges so it'll all stay together. This is especially important when it comes time in the middle of the cooking to flip everything over. Peel and chop your carrots (I always slice mine on the bias so they'll look cooler), and cut your onion into thin ribbons (cut root to stem, turn them to the flat side and slice in the sagital plane. Like that head in the lab.).

Nestle all your onions and carrots into the dish and set the cabbage on top of that. Give it all a good dousing in olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and the chili flakes. Pour in the quarter cup of chicken stock (or water). You need that much stock/water per baking dish, by the way. I had some homemade stock on hand for today, but when I don't I use chicken soup base, which you just mix with water. It's a lot more conveinent than buying the boxed stuff.

Now all you have to do is tightly seal some foil around your baking dish(es), and throw them in your now preheated oven. Set a timer for an hour, and go weave a basket.

After an hour, flip everything over. Try and keep them together, but a little messiness will ensue no matter how hard you try. Back into the oven for another hour, then take the foil off and blast it all under the broiler until you start getting some good browning in spots.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Yeah, That's Right, I Said Cauliflower!

No really, cauliflower can be mind-blowingly (how's that for an adverb?) delicious. The key is to be patient. Well, that and butter. Lots of butter. To start, cut up a whole head of cauliflower- I just cut the core out and then make half inch "steaks" out of it- you'll get some big pieces that stay together and quite a bit of little florets that will become your favorite part later when they get all caramelized and crispy and oh so slightly sweet. You need a pan that's large enough to get plenty of browning going on, and that pan needs a lid for a little bit of steaming. Place the aforementioned pan on the stove top and get it medium hot. Now add about three tablespoons of butter and let it melt until it stops foaming. Add the cauliflower. Throw a pinch of salt (kosher, please) on top. And then hurry up and wait. It'll look like this at first:
Leave it alone for awhile- it takes time for the florets on the bottom to start browning at first. Toward the end you'll have to be more vigilant. After about ten long minutes, give it a stir. Then wait some more. Repeat. Once you've got a fairly browned bunch of cauliflower put the lid on top and let it steam for about five more minutes. The following is the progression you're looking for:
The best part: the only calories to be found here are in the butter. Well, almost. The cauliflower is so low-calorie it almost takes your body more calories to digest it than what it actually gets from it. Taste for salt, probably add some pepper, and dig in. And you should click on the above picture, because it's just so pretty in that bowl, all golden brown and all.