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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Whole Red Snapper Baked in Salt

Whole Red Snapper Baked in Salt


We were inspired to try this recipe while watching an episode of Martha Stewart's Cooking School. She really makes it look easy, doesn't she? As we continue to slim down after the first of the year, we are looking for lower calorie alternatives so that we can continue to enjoy our cooking projects. This one turned out great, the salt baking method is a great way to make a delicate fish.




Research:

We combined what we learned on the Martha Stewart cooking school episode and one we looked up on food network. This one.

Plan:

Gather the following ingredients:

5 - Eggs
1 - Great whole Red Snapper
4 - Cups of kosher salt
1 - Lemon
4 - or so Sprigs of Thyme

We will simply whip the egg whites into peaks and stir in the salt. Stuff the fish with lemon and thyme and put on a little pepper. Cover in salt and bake for 40 minutes at 400 degrees.

Execution:

You will be relieved to know that wine is now flowing in our household again. So this was an enjoyable experience.

As is customary, first pour a large glass of white wine, after all we are making fish.

Then...


Crack some eggs and separate the yolks.


Measure out your salt.


I had the fish counter at Whole Foods scale my fish for me but there were still a few to remove, also I had to cut off the fins with kitchen shears.


Then we sliced up the lemon and thyme. I would make my lemon slices a little thinner next time. Too much lemon makes the bottom of the fish too lemony


Then we cut open the fish a little more and stuffed it with the lemon, thyme and a little fresh ground pepper.

Meanwhile...


We whipped the egg whites.


and mixed in the salt.


Then we spread the paste down with a spatula. Sort of the consistency of icing.



Finally, we added a few potatoes and popped it in the preheated oven.


After 40 minutes we had a golden brown beautiful hard salt shell.


It smelled amazing or it I was very hungry because of my diet. Not sure.


Cracked open the shell to expose the fish.


Then peeled the skin and pulled off the fillets. It was easier if you grabbed the tail and pulled up leaving the bottom fillet. Still, we didn't get all the bones off...

We tried to take off the top fillet with a spatula. Not the best way.


Verdict:




This was delicious. The fish was delicate and moist and perfectly cooked. Surprisingly it wasn't salty like you would expect. The bottom piece was more well done than the top and the bottom was also more lemony than the top (again, probably could have used a little thinner lemon slices). We will make this again and incorporate the few lessons learned. It is not just delicious but it is.

Please help support our site, buy something you like on Amazon. Simply click through the links below and though you can pick anything, I suggest the thermometer and knives below:


So apparently Thermoworks doesn't sell through Amazon anymore. You must buy direct. Still the thermometer to have. Go here and order direct. 

Aaron Franklin's Favorite trimming knife:

Dexter-Russell (S131F-6PCP) - 6" Boning Knife - Sani-Safe Series

Aaron Franklin's Favorite Brisket cutting/serving knife:

Sani-Safe S140-12SC-PCP 12" Scalloped Roast Slicer

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Fromage Blanc (Farmer's cheese)

Fromage Blanc (Farmer's cheese)

This was simply fun and is a great example of everything that we love about doing these weekend food projects.


We have been interested in making our own cheese for a few years now. I have tackled making a hard cheese in the past, but it didn't turn out so well so there was an intimidation factor that has been preventing further experimentation. We even bought one of those cheesemaking kits from the Cheese Queen, but it has languished in the cupboard for way too long. Finally, we decided to attend a cheesemaking class at a cool little boutique in the West Midtown area of Atlanta, and that was what we needed to shift us into gear.  So let's make some cheese.






Research:

We attended a cheese making class at The Preserving Place where we learned the basics of making cheese at home. If you live in Atlanta, I highly recommend stopping in. After the class, we were excited to come home and use our new skills to make something great. We decided to make a fromage blanc as our first attempt at homemade cheese.

Plan:

Gather the following ingredients:

1 quart of whole milk -- MUST BE NON-HOMOGENIZED - we found it at Whole Foods
0.5 cup of heavy cream
1 cup of cultured buttermilk
2 tablespoons of fresh strained lemon juice
0.25 tsp salt
Thermometer (digital, preferably)
Cheesecloth or muslin cloth





Execution:

No wine tonight... and I really don't want to talk about it.

We used an enameled cast iron pot because we thought it would be easier to heat evenly.


Add the milk and heavy cream to the pot.
Thoroughly combine the buttermilk and lemon juice in a separate bowl
and then add to the milk and cream.



Very slowly heat to 125 degrees and then gently stir once. 
Avoid breaking up as much curd as possible.



Continue heating until 150 degrees and then stir once more.

Once the temperature reaches 175 degrees, remove the pot from the heat.  Do not stir!  
It should take you about 20-30 minutes to get to 175 degrees.  Heating it any faster may 
scorch the milk and may not give the acid time to form the curds you need for the cheese.



After removing the pan from the heat, let it rest for 10 minutes. 
After 10 minutes, gently ladle the curds into a cheesecloth-lined strainer that is 
sitting in a slightly bigger bowl.  Let the curds drain here for about 3-5 minutes.



After the curds drain in the strainer, bundle up the corners of the cheesecloth and hang it above the sink.  You could also tie the bundle to a long wooden spoon and hang the bundle over a pot. Let the bundle continue to drain until it reaches the desired consistency. For us, we were looking for a softened, spreadable cheese, about the consistency of a soft butter.





Verdict:

About as good as good gets. We bought some cranberry walnut bread at the Whole Foods as well in the bakery section that we lightly toasted, spread on the cheese and then also added just a drizzle of honey. It was delightful. Please try this one, it was simple and delicious. A great weekend project.

Also as a side note, we have been told that the remaining whey could be used to make a great cream based soup or to make bread in the bread machine. We will try that another time and report back.

Please help support our site, buy something you like on Amazon. Simply click through the links below and though you can pick anything, I suggest the thermometer and knives below:


So apparently Thermoworks doesn't sell through Amazon anymore. You must buy direct. Still the thermometer to have. Go here and order direct. 

Aaron Franklin's Favorite trimming knife:

Dexter-Russell (S131F-6PCP) - 6" Boning Knife - Sani-Safe Series

Aaron Franklin's Favorite Brisket cutting/serving knife:

Sani-Safe S140-12SC-PCP 12" Scalloped Roast Slicer

Friday, January 10, 2014

Turkey Breast on the Big Green Egg - Updated

Turkey Breast on the Big Green Egg - Updated

See the updates at the bottom for our best advice.

Now that it is diet season, we thought it would be a good opportunity to make some lean protein like a turkey on the BGE. It was one of the first things we made on the egg and it was delicious. We thought it would be a great idea to make enough that we would have some left over turkey for sandwiches so we cooked two. We were a little surprised by the scarcity of turkey just after the first of the year. They must think most folks are sick of turkey. Nay I say.




Research:

We ran across a great youtube video that stepped us through the process. Thank you FlamingRoosterBBQ! It was what we used to prepare our turkey.

Plan:

Gather the following ingredients:


2 - Bone-in turkey breasts. We purchased ours from the local Whole Foods.
1/3 cup of Big Green Egg dizzy gourmet viva caliente rub. Purchased at the BGE store! Atlanta, GA.
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 - Big zip lock bag
2 - Disposable gloves
1 - Disposable aluminum pan

We will simply heat the egg to around 240-250, toss the turkey in the bag with the oil and rub then place on the grill for around 2 hours or until the middle of the breasts reach 163-165.

Execution:

First, let me address a major mistake that was made around the turn of the year. Somehow in a fit of healthy idiocy I pledged to not drink any alcoholic beverages until I lost 5 lbs. I am 9 days into this agreement right now and it feels like it was short sighted, mournful and regretful. Alas, I have been sentenced to grilling without libation.

Light the egg and stabilize the temperature around 250.


In the mean time gather the ingredients and prepare the turkey for the grill.


Place the oil, the rub and the turkey into the bag and shake it up.


Then place them on the BGE, insert wireless thermometer and drink a... coke zero...


Here we are cooking. It was sometime around here that I realized that the BGE wireless thermometer had let me down again!


Actual cook time was more like 3.5-4 hours. I had a hard time getting a good temperature reading from the wireless thermometer.

The bird came off looking like a million bucks. Our instructor advised us to let the bird rest but it was getting late and we were hungry so we ate part of it and let the remainder rest before placing in the fridge for future consumption. Nothing feels better than having smoked turkey in the fridge.

Verdict:

As good as it looked, this was a disaster and I am not sure why. I kept the egg at around 250 but it took the turkey almost 4 hours to get to 170. I say 170 because my BGE wireless thermo was off by at least 10 degrees again so I ended up switching to an analog and then overshot the temp by 10 degrees or so and that resulted in a dry bird that was over smoked.

Next time I will throw away the BGE wireless thermo and go analog all the way. I will also cook it at a warmer temp. Perhaps 300 or 350 would be more appropriate to get the turkey to temp quicker to reduce the time the turkey took to cook and hopefully keeping it from drying out.

I'll be following this up with another try soon. I'll also get a better thermometer.

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Additional information on testing my thermometers:

I spent some time testing various thermometers using a pot of water on the stove. I placed the BGE food probe (taking care not to submerge the part of the probe where the probe meets the cable), a small analog thermometer and a more expensive CDN digital instant read thermometer. I started heating the water at tap temperature and let it go all the way to boiling while watching all three thermometers. Turns out, the BGE thermometer's accuracy isn't too bad as it rises from tap water temp. to boiling temp. It did seem to hold on a temp and then suddenly leap 2 or 3 degrees every now and then which explains a phenomenon that I occasionally noticed when I thought the meat was plateauing at an unreasonable temperature  The only caveat noted was that it measured 4 degrees too hot at the end. It was accurate all the way to 212 but then continued to rise to 216 as the temp on the CDN remained steady at 212.5 or so. Also it was noticed that the analog thermometer measured about 5 degrees cooler than actual temp. 

So... It is likely that my turkey was overcooked because I continued to cook it by relying on the analog and that resulted in an overcook. 

We've since learned that the thermapen thermostat (see link below) is the gold standard for quick and accurate meat temp. Get it.

Go here and order direct.

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Update to the update:

We made another turkey last night (this was a whole breast so it was not split into two pieces as shown on the photos above) and this time we used the wireless thermometer and the CDN instant and cooked it beer can style (refer to the beer can chicken post for more info on this method). We discovered that the wireless just doesn't give a good reading in a turkey, probably  because the probe is large and can't seem to get good placement in the breast. No matter where I put it, it never gave a good reading. So I relied on the CDN. 


I cooked the turkey at about 350 in the BGE for about 2.5 hours for 5 lbs of turkey breast. I cooked it until it measured at least 160 degrees in many locations in the breast (make sure you are measuring breast meat temp as that is the part you will be eating). This time, it turned out great.


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Another update on this link (it is our review of the DigiQ but we cooked a turkey breast to test it)!

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We would love it if you would drop us a note and let us know how your cook went in the comment section. We are always looking for suggestions and improvements! We have opened up the comments so that anyone can post now, so please do. I'll try not to delete anything unless it is spam or stabs me in the heart.


Perfect!

Moist and tender

We would love it if you would drop us a note in the comment section and let us know how your cook went. We are always looking for suggestions and improvements! We have opened up the comments so that anyone can post now, so please do. I'll try not to delete anything unless it is spam or stabs me in the heart.



Please help support our site, buy something you like on Amazon. Simply click through the links below and though you can pick anything, I suggest the thermometer and knives below:


So apparently Thermoworks doesn't sell through Amazon anymore. You must buy direct. Still the thermometer to have. Go here and order direct. 

Aaron Franklin's Favorite trimming knife:

Dexter-Russell (S131F-6PCP) - 6" Boning Knife - Sani-Safe Series

Aaron Franklin's Favorite Brisket cutting/serving knife:

Sani-Safe S140-12SC-PCP 12" Scalloped Roast Slicer