Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I haven't forgotten how to blog

I'm just throwing my energy into some large projects right now.

Projects like this. It's really sucking most of my cooking time to menu and event plan for a 30-person underground dinner party at roving locations.

But don't worry, I'll still be blogging here. And I have 2 pounds of BOM Bacon in my freezer and Greco has trout, venison, halibut, and lamb coming in to town this Sunday.

It won't suck. I'll take pictures.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

underground kitchen recipes - june 7, 2008

these are the recipes as best they can be from the june 7, 2008 underground kitchen.

this list represents my best ability to put the first underground kitchen dinner in writing and scale them down for a family.

there were no written recipes for the dinner, nor did your trusty chef really bother to measure much of anything other than to generally eyeball proportions to get enough of each item for 20+ people.

herbert’s madiera custard with sugar cookie and crushed walnuts garnish with a clover-honey drizzled grilled pear will be coming shortly. i know the ingredients but don’t have a clue on the technique.

since i can’t draw stick figures, cooking has become my expressive outlet. like some forms of abstract art, there’s an element of purposeful carelessness to it.

cook, taste, adjust, reach for a jar of something random and add a bit. taste again. re-season with salt and pepper. use the freshest ingredients you can find. walk down aisles you’ve never been down at the grocery. know your local farmer’s market.

apologies in advance if there are too many tablespoons of orange juice or cups of couscous. really, though, if you make too much couscous; call me. i’ll take some off your hands.

for those of you who weren’t there, it was a clandestine dinner party involving guests who didn’t know each other going to a location they didn’t learn about until the day before dinner. you didn’t get to sit next to the person you came with, and you didn’t know what you were going to be eating until it came out to the table. the main course was served family style.

it was the brainchild of my (now) good friends katie, heidi, and herbert. we’ll do it again, so make sure to add undergroundkitchen at gmail dot com to your ‘accepted address’ lists in your contacts. you don’t want this to get lost in your spam box. check in at underground kitchen for more info on what's going on in the kitchen.

bruschetta with wild mushroom/tomato/madeira topping and asiago

1/2 baguette
3-4 minced shallots
1 lb mixed wild mushrooms (cremini, shitake, oyster), chopped
2 t tomato paste
¼ cup madiera wine, divided
olive oil, salt, pepper
½ cup shredded asiago cheese
  1. sweat the shallots in oil with salt over medium high heat. add the chopped mushroom, pinch of salt, cracked black pepper, and sweat until mushrooms give up their liquid.
  2. add tomato paste and stir through to coat. saute for 2-3 minutes.
  3. add half the madiera off heat and deglaze the pan. cook off the madiera.
  4. taste, repeat deglazing if needed. if the madiera has cooked off and left it’s flavor, you’re done here.
  5. slice baguette into rounds, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper and half toast the baguette in a 375 degree oven until just crispy in the center.
  6. remove from the oven and top each slice with approx 2-3 t of the mushroom topping then top with shredded asiago.
  7. bake off at 400 degrees until cheese is melted.
  8. serve immediately.
fruited couscous salad with tarragon, citrus, buttermilk dressing

equal parts totaling 2 cups cherries, pitted and chopped - dates, pitted and chopped - dried apricots, chopped
2 cups couscous
3 cups water
¾ stick butter, divided
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup buttermilk
¾ cup chopped fresh tarragon
½ cup fresh squeezed orange juice
salt and pepper to taste

for the salad:
  1. heat ½ stick butter and brown sugar in a sauté pan. add fruit over medium heat and heat through/begin to break down the fruit.
  2. in a large pot, add the water, sugar, remaining butter, and salt. bring to a boil.
  3. as soon as the water comes to a boil, add the fruit mixture and the couscous. stir through quickly.
  4. cover and remove from heat. ready to serve in 20 minutes (or when all liquid is absorbed).
  5. use a cup or ramekin to mold the individual salads and turn them out onto a lettuce bed.
for the dressing
  1. mix all ingredients in large bowl.
  2. pour over individual salads.
seared ‘steak’ medallions with plum sauce over scallion parmesan polenta

2-3 pounds london broil/flank steak or portabella mushrooms
equal parts cinnamon, ginger, and clove for rub totaling 6 tablespoons
olive oil
10 plums, peeled and chopped
½ vidalia onion, finely chopped
¼ cup orange juice
½ bottle cabernet sauvignon
corn starch slurry (1 tablespoon cornstarch, 1 tablespoon water)
3 cups yellow cornmeal
3 cups vegetable stock
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
2 bunches scallions, green part chopped small
salt and pepper

for ‘steak’:
  1. slice london broil with the grain into 1 and ½ inch thick steaks.
  2. rub spices and oil over steak/mushrooms (gills of mushrooms).
  3. let steaks rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  4. bring steaks back to room temp.
  5. grill to medium rare over medium high heat.
  6. rest and thin slice on a bias against the grain.
  7. pour sauce over steak and serve with reserved sauce at the table.
note: for mushrooms, grill cap side down first until liquid has started to bubble and spices have been cooked into mushroom.

for sauce:
  1. melt butter and add onions and salt to sweat. sauté until soft.
  2. add chopped plums and cook until softened.
  3. add wine and bring to slow boil for 2 minutes.
  4. add in batches to food processor or blender and pulse until totally blended.
  5. strain sauce back into pan and return to medium-high heat.
  6. add slurry and stir until thickened.
  7. keep warm over low heat, whisking occaisionally to keep smooth.
for the polenta:
  1. bring the stock to a boil.
  2. add the polenta and salt and reduce heat to medium. stir through until the polenta has softened and heated through.
  3. add the cheese.
  4. remove from the heat and stir through the scallion greens.
  5. serve immediately.
grilled asparagus spears and prosciuto with honey/mint/goat cheese spread

1 bunch of asparagus for 2 people
1 10 oz. brick of goat cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/8 cup honey

for asparagus:
  1. toss asparagus in oil, salt and pepper.
  2. grill until crisp tender.
  3. cool and serve.
for cheese spread:
  1. mix cheese, mint, and honey in a bowl.
  2. chill and serve with asparagus.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Life in the 1500s

From a random e-mail chain I saw today...


The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn't just how you like it, think about how things used to be. Here are some facts about the 1500s:

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, bring home the bacon. They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and chew the fat...


Go get some.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Strip

I know Memphis is the barbeque capitol of Tennessee (at least to us fer-iners), but I expect that you'll forgive me.

I also know that I was sorely disappointed to miss out on meeting up with old friends and new friends in NashVegas. The damn conference required work. And I kinda loved it. Political geeking is what I do for a living, so 300 Young Dems getting their voter outreach training for the fall on is something that is 'pork-worthy' in the food analogy realm.

Forget about it. I'm a geek. I ate pork for three meals in Nashville, and I would recommend the same to all of you. Well, it's pig, of course I recommend it.

The Jack's combo is simple, a platter is your meat (chopped pork shoulder) with two sides and cornbread or toast. I went big and added a side of Mac n' Cheese too.

Cheez supports me there.

That creamed corn you see there? It's amazing. Not too sweet, not too salty.

The green beans were in the serving tray with MASSIVE hunks of fatback. Mmmmmm, drool.

The cornbread logs were crumbly, sweet, and soaked up some porky sauce.

Little sauce bit at the bottom of the tray? Uber hot. Yummer.

The night before that was a late dinner after too much conferencing and a bum recommendation to drive a few blocks to a joint that was closed. Apparently the 'best q in town' was not good enough.

Oh, well, there was Rippy's. And it was good.

Three piece country band on the stage, center bar, table in the corner on Broadway.

You'll note the blurry cole slaw and beans in the background. They were tasty. You'll not note the corn cakes (pancakes, cornmeal) because I was more worried about tearing into the juicy, porky goodness than I was with photography.

And you'll note in the dripping with smokey pork and sauce goodness foreground one of the ribs that ended up at the business end of my gullet with great gusto.

CY, I am sorry I never got to catch up with you. And at some point in the not too distant future, I'll fix that. You live in a great town, and I need to get back there to eat so much more.