Saturday, February 27, 2010


There is a new post below the Declaration. I am not sure why it bumped it down there, but it is about tasty shrimp!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Declaration

Sorry for the cheesy title, but I was somewhat stumped for a name. The declaration is that this is the first week the Zube Household has gone to locally raised meat and poultry. Wife Zube and I have talked about this many times over the last year and now we are to the point that we are committed to it. Yup, the food budget is going to take a hit. However, supporting locals and consuming food that is from the next town over instead of from the other coast is important. I know the lady who raises my pork chops. She knows the guy whose chickens she sells. We are talking about good folk putting out good food. The farthest I plan to venture is from Boston and Kinnealey meats. I don't want a penny of my money going to Mr. Big Chicken or Mr. Boss Cow. I want it going to people I know. Welp, I have a locally raised chicken I need to brine so that I can roast it tomorrow. A future post you might ask? Stay tuned.

Shrimp, rosemary, and zucchini noodles

This dish came out of my fridge and freezer from what I had on hand. I don't usually have zucchini on hand, but shrimp (remember the freezer tidbit from earlier?), garlic, and fresh herbs are all things I keep around. If you keep a somewhat stocked inventory in your pantry/fridge/root cellar (man, I wish I had one of those!) it will make impromptu dishes easy, fun, and creative to make. Good food is easy.

To begin!

This first step is made a lot easier with a mandolin. A musical instrument you ask? Well, that might help, but this mandolin is made for slicing things, usually produce, very thin and evenly. As a side note you will absolutely cut yourself with one of these bad boys at some point. Most likely it will only be once (depending on your learning curve) and it will be a bad one. Respect the mandolin or buy lots of band-aids. If you are mandolin-less just use a knife and try to make the slices consistently thin.
Take your zucchini in hand and cut off the ends and take a slice off of one side to make a flat area to start on the mandolin. My fancy mando' has a ceramic blade (read that ultra sharp and ultra good at removing your fingerprints) and a thickness adjustment. I sliced my zuke at 2mm, but for absolutely no particular reason. So, slice away and make some nice "noodles".

Salting zucchini before using them is a handy dandy tip. Zukes have a lot of water in them and while we need water to live, it also dilutes the flavor and can impede correct sauteing. Moisture in a pan will steam the food instead of letting it nicely brown and develop flavor. Think about the difference between boiled chicken and grilled chicken. I spread my ribbons out on a drying rack, sprinkle with salt, and then dab dry later. You will be able to see the water on the zucchini as the salt pulls it out and concentrates the flavor.

Hopefully you have thawed out some shrimp and peeled them. How many you want to use depends on how many you want to eat, but you might want to adjust your noodle count so the dish stays balanced. I actually didn't make enough noodle so mine was a tad shrimp heavy. Hehe, that is mildly oxymoron-ish. Next I finely minced two cloves of garlic and chopped up the one teaspoon of fresh rosemary. If you only have dried rosemary that is fine but you need to alter the amount. I forget if it is less or more with dried vs. fresh. Google it.

Into a medium hot pan with some oil goes the shrimp and don't touch them for a couple of minutes, then flip once. We talked about sauteing shrimp before so I won't repeat myself. Remove the shrimp when they are just shy of perfect.

Add a dash more oil and the garlic to the pan. When you can smell the garlic, about 20 seconds, add the rosemary, stir, and then the zucchini. The zucchini will become more yellow, vibrant, and flexible as it cooks. When it is tender add in your shrimp and toss to combine the flavors. Plate however you see fit!

Monday, February 22, 2010

"Omnivore's Dilemma"

This book is pretty cool. I am only about two-thirds of the way through it, but it has certainly raised my awareness and inspired me. The book is broken up into parts and then chapters within those parts. Part number one is about corn and big agribusiness. To me this part was on the slow-moving, low-interest side, but it did instill a sense of "I don't want to put that in my body anymore" feeling towards big business food. The author, Michael Pollan, does reveal some interesting points about certain organic grocery stores, but all in all I had to struggle a bit.
Part number two though is about grass. To be more accurate it is about how a farm can remove itself from its dependence on antibiotics, growth hormones, and feed additives that the big companies need if you are a capable grass farmer. He follows one farmer and goes into great detail how this specific farm does its best to be self-sustaining. Ironically, in this case self-sustaining means follow the blueprint that occurs already in nature. I won't drag on about this, but reading the grass section has made me want to have enough land to do this on a small scale for me and my families needs at some point. Granted I am a huge dork, but I found this section really, really cool.
I haven't gotten past the grass farmer, but I will make an update when I do.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Michael Symon's Chicken, Goat Cheese, and Rosemary Mac n Cheese

As the title implies this is 100% not my recipe, idea, or creation. However it is now 100% my favorite "mac n cheese" dish out there. There are two features of this dish that make it completely and mind-blowing awesome: 1) Deeeeeeeelicious! 2) Eeeeeeeeeeasy! Does anyone notice a theme to the recipes I post? They are all easy. Good food is easy. Cook more!
There are only five ingredients to this culinary marvel. 5. Cinco for you Spanish speaking followers. Hmm, if you follow this blog and only speak Spanish then that is the only word you have understood so far... I commend your persistence. Alright, enough foreign speculation, back to the five ingredients. For ease of use I am actually going to make it into a list for you instead of my usual ramble/prose style:

16 oz box of pasta
8 oz goat cheese
1 tbs chopped rosemary
2 chicken breasts or 4 chicken thighs
32 oz heavy cream

Yup, that is the whole kit-n-kaboodle you need in your culinary toolbelt for this one! As mentioned, this is a complete copy of Michael Symon's from his book "Live To Cook". You should buy it. The man loves pig even more than I do. His instructions for this dish leave out a small point: you need to reduce the heavy cream by half and it doesn't mention how long this will take. Perhaps I am sub-par in my cream reducing abilities, but this step takes me about 40 minutes. I bring it to a simmer and then reduce the heat to medium. I try to keep the temp as high as possible without the cream boiling over.

Originally this dish was to use up left over roast chicken, but I make it with fresh bird each time. I poach the chicken in the heavy cream while it is reducing to add some chicken goodness to the sauce. After it has cooked 10 minutes or so, depending on what cut of bird, I let it cool and then shred it will forks. I like how the chicken comes out, but to be honest I don't enjoy actually doing it. So I go as fast as possible. To visualize this imagine me trying to frantically dig a hole in sand using just the forks.

After twenty minutes or so, or whenever you feel like it, add in the chopped rosemary to the heavy cream. You want the oils and flavors to leech (not bloodsucker-style) out and perfume the cream. Now is a good time to get your pasta going as well.

When your cream has reduced by half and has nice thick bubbles in it instead of the little wimpy ones it started with, it is time to cut the heat and add the goat cheese.

Crumble the goat cheese up and whip it until it is all nice and smooth. Combine your chicken, sauce, and pasta in one big bowl and go to town! As another little hint: this dish does not reheat. Take no prisoners on this one. Chow!

Monday, February 15, 2010


Valentine's Day and a busy weekend all around has kept me from the stove and keyboard. Not to fear though, I have more posts on the way! Upcoming post topics include, but aren't limited to, the following:

Goat cheese, rosemary, and chicken mac n cheese (courtesy Michael Symon)
Glazed carrots
Grocery chicken vs. local loved chicken
For lack of an actual name: dropped garlic-potato pan-fried tater tots

I don't want to give away too much, so I will stop there. As a side note I mentioned the glazed carrot post to a co-worker who just looked at me and asked, "Do you really have that much to say about glazed carrots?" Um, yeah! Obviously!

Anywho stay tuned and thanks for checking it on me, it is very encouraging to see that folks stop by for a visit!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Thomas Keller Video

As you may have noticed I have some links in previous posts. Nothing like a mullet picture to get you hungry for duck confit! Well a very good friend of mine from college days, who runs his own blog, has helped me with my html education, and because of him I can now direct you to a very cool video. I unashamedly enjoy all things Thomas Keller and this video is pretty neat because you get to not only watch the only U.S. chef with two restaurants that have three Michelin stars each give a tour of his newest restaurant, but you also watch him get excited about browning his gnocchi. The man loves food. Happy viewing and thank you Epicurious for the interview!

Thomas Keller makes gnocchi at his restaurant, Per Se.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Duck Confit

I am excited. Actually, I am very excited and possibly a tidbit giddy. I love duck, and when it is duck confit my emotions become even more overwhelming. Confit means that something is cooked, oh so slowly and with great love, submerged in fat. Usually the object of affection is cooked in it's own fat ie. duck would be in duck fat. However, this isn't necessary and impossible with somethings. Every try to render fat out of an onion or tomato? And both of those are delicious when done confit-style. (Quick pronunciation guide: confit = kohn-fee) At first the thought of slowly poaching your meal in fat might sound, oh I don't know, greasy and icky... but you are wrong. You are really wrong, like a mullet with MC Hammer pants and a mesh t-shirt wrong.
Due to the temperature of the oil being so low (190 to 220F-ish) all the moisture and flavor stays in the food. The food is cooked for hours submerged in fat and happily bubbles away while rendering itself meltingly tender and delicious.

There is something else that I am very excited about concerning today's post, and its that THIS IS SO EASY! Sorry, I didn't mean to shout, but I felt your attention was wandering and I didn't want you to miss that point. Just like the pork short rib post, the only hard part of this is finding duck legs. Yes, this is for the legs. The slow cooking melts the toughness right out and jams the flavor right back in. Worse case scenario you buy a whole duck and butcher the legs off. Now you have the rest of the duck on hand, but let's be honest that isn't such a bad predicament to find yourself in. You do need to plan a bit ahead as this (don't get scared here) takes a few days to finish. However, most of the time requirement only requires you to ignore the duck and let the magic happen. And once the duck has cooked and been cooled, still in its fat, it will safely stay in the fridge for a week. Why you ask with mild speculation? Because it is buried in fat and air can't get to it! Genius!

Well, enough chit-chat here let's get to the nuts and bolts of confit nirvana eh? The night before you want to cook the duck legs you need to cure them in a salt/herb mixture. A rule that I came across (*cough* Thomas Keller *cough*) was one tablespoon of salt (Kosher salt, remember the "What You Can Assume" sidebar?) per leg. I had three legs so: 3 times 1, carry the 2, divide by the delicious quotient and I figured out that 3 tablespoons of salt were needed. To the salt I added the leaves of 3 thyme sprigs, 2 cloves of minced garlic, and one minced shallot. After mixing it up thoroughly (you can go at this like a caged gorilla, unlike the avocado salsa) I put the three legs and salt mixture into a gallon baggie and did my best to evenly coat the legs. Place your bag of amputated fowl appendages in the fridge and go to bed. You will leave the bag alone for 24 hours, but the beauty of salt is that you are curing (read: preserving) the duck legs! The next night (You have already been working on this recipe for a whole day! Phew!) take your lightly cured legs out of the salt mixture, rinse off, and pat them dry. Set your oven to 220F. Put the legs in a pot in a single layer and cover with duck fat. What? You don't have a couple cups of rendered duck fat hanging around? Yeah well, neither did I. I used canola oil instead. Canola has four nice properties that make it my oil of choice (What You Can Assume...) in almost all my cooking: 1) high smoking point 2) neutral flavor 3) a fairly healthy oil 4) it is cheap. Anywho, now that the legs are submerged in oil cover the pot, chuck it in the oven (not literally please), and go to bed again. Yeah, this recipe involves a lot of sleeping. The duck legs are going to poach for 6-8 hours while you snooze away. Another aside here: oven thermometers are cheap and quite handy. Most ovens are not accurate between what the dial says and the true temp inside the box. So buy one, your baking will thank you. See you in the morning...

While your coffee is brewing and you are bathing in the sweet, succulent aroma of duck legs realize and congratulate yourself on working on one recipe for TWO WHOLE DAYS! It's hard work. Flip your oven off, take the pot out, remove the cover, and let it cool whilst you prepare for your day. Your duck legs should look something like this:

Remember to put the pot in the fridge before you leave. Salt and fat are both good preservatives, but let's not push the limits. Letting the meat cool while still in the fat pushes all the flavor and moisture back into the meat making it that much more yummy. When you get home that night your confit is ready for lovin'!

The post is rather long and we still have a bit left, so if you need a potty break, coffee refill, or some quick yoga, now is a good time to do so. I will wait.

*waiting patiently*

I had three legs so I wanted to do three separate dishes: crispy duck leg with sauteed red cabbage and bacon, duck pizza, and then not really sure about the third yet. So I got my pans working with the components of the first two dishes:

We have bacon crisping up on the back burner, cabbage slowly sauteing, and onions caramelizing. (Boy, amazing photo! You can really see the detail in the cabbage... *snicker*) Then the pizza crust was made from two different mixes, Bob's Red Mill and Namaste, both of which are gluten free. I would like to say that through careful experimentation and numerous trials we found that mixing these two doughs produced the exact crust we were looking for. In reality I only had a little of both types and had to combine them.

First up was the crispy duck leg over sauteed cabbage and bacon. Just like with chicken, duck skin is scrumptious when crispy and crunchy. So, into a hot pan the legs went!

The cabbage was sauteed with just a little oil on medium-low heat until nice and soft, about 30 minutes. A plop of cabbage on a plate, a sprinkle of bacon lardons (fancy talk for small chunks), and then topped with a leg.

I was wrong a couple of paragraphs ago. Crispy duck skin isn't like crispy chicken skin. It is so much better! I am shedding tears right now in loving memory of the crispy duck skin. Wife Zube and I enjoyed this with unabashed glee and possibly a couple moans. Now that our tummies had something to work on the pizza was made and baked. On top of the crust went some roasted garlic oil, arugula, left-over sauteed cabbage, diced brie cheese, caramelized onions, and shredded duck leg. This was also magically delicious but it could have used a tad more sweet. Wife Zube and I decided that next time we would incorporate some diced apple and we would add the shredded confit near the end of cooking to retain moisture. Even still this was so tasty. Also, if we hadn't had roasted garlic oil, I would have roasted a head of garlic and put the whole cloves directly on. Whole roasted garlic cloves > roasted garlic oil.

We feasted, lip-smacked, and high-fived after this night of scrumdiddilyumptiousness. Yes, that is a real word. But wait you say! There is still one unmentioned leg sitting all pretty and crispy in the pan. What is it's fate? Breakfast. I toasted a corn tortilla, fried an egg, heated up the shredded confit, mixed in some bbq sauce, and had myself one delicious breakfast duck confit taco!

I really encourage you all to try this. I got my duck legs from Pat's Meat Market in Portland, ME. Whole Foods might carry them as well. In general try to find a local meat market and ask around. I apologize for any grammar/spelling mistakes. My editor is being lazy today...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Shrimp and Avocado Salsa

I am happy to announce that a request has been made (via Facebook) for the shrimp and avocado salsa recipe! Well, this one is almost a complete hijack from Thomas Keller's "The French Laundry Cookbook". If you want to flip through pages of amazing photographs, very detailed recipes, and extremely thought-out techniques; this is the book for you. Actually all of his books(Ad Hoc, Bouchon, and Under Pressure) are equally amazing. Anywho, back to the point...

There are no photos of the process since I made this dish a couple of years ago, and just recently found the photo in time for my blogging debut.

Your grocery list: 6 shrimp, 1 avocado, 1 red onion, 1 cucumber, oil, 1 lemon, salt, and pepper.

Shrimp are sold with numbers in front of them like 150/200 or 16/20. This denotes how many shrimp are in a pound. So 16/20 means 16 to 20 shrimp will be in a pound so they are much larger than the 150/200 count. They sell some shrimp that are U10 which means a pound contains Under 10. These suckers are big and you might be able to throw a saddle on one and ride it to work. Your standard grocery store sells shrimp that have already been veined, but most likely still have the shell on. For this recipe remove the shell, including the tail part. If you are careful with the tail part you can keep the tail on and end up with the cute little curly-Q of a tail like in my photo.

Avocados are fickle and after 7 years of a Mexican restaurant and a bazillion gallons of guacomole they are still tricky to me sometimes. The time window between beautiful light green flesh and poopy, stomped banana-looking hot mess can be pretty short. Squeezing them gently is the way to go and pushing on the tip-top where the stem was is the best place to do so. Hard equals baseball, soft equals ripe, and mushy/dented equals the pillaged banana. To play it safe, I usually buy two.

Finely dice the red onion, cucumber (skinned and seeded), and avocado. You want twice as much avocado as the red onion and cucumber. Place in a bowl, add a touch of oil, and squeeze some lemon juice over the pile (prevents the avocado from browning and "brightens" the flavor of the salsa), and gently mix. If you go at it like a caged gorilla your succulent little dice of avocado will become guacamole-ish. It will still be tasty, but nowhere near as photogenic. Salt and pepper to taste. If I was a television food show host that would just say: SAPTT, but I am not. Put bowl in fridge.

TK (Thomas Keller for those of you who don't know him like I do) gently poaches his shrimp in a court bouillon and then cools them in it to intensify the flavor. Court bouillon is fancy talk for seasoned water. The list of ingredients for it is twice as long as this entire recipe, so I sauteed my shrimp. Shrimp cook super fast and are done well before people usually realize, so they end up with over-cooked, rubbery shrimp. I took a non-stick pan over med-low heat, added some butter, and gently cooked the shrimp. Low heat gives you a greater window of correctly cooked shrimp than say, a blowtorch, would. Shrimp are cooked when the ridges on their back curl open, they turn pinkish instead of bluish, and are firm to the touch. Literally this only takes a couple of minutes per side if that.

Let them cool, if you want, and then spear them onto the tines of a fork and add a dollop of avocado salsa. Now you admire your work, enjoy each bite, and then wonder why you just made all your forks dirty for this one dish.

A shrimp purchasing side note: more than likely your local grocery store carries frozen shrimp in bags and also some in a display case with the other seafood. They are the same shrimp in both places. The grocery store just goes through the pain-staking task of thawing the shrimp, and thus reducing how long you can keep them. I buy the frozen, keep 'em in the freezer, and take out only what I need.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Pork Short Ribs

Pre-note written after I wrote the rest of this post: This is easy. The hardest part will be finding pork short ribs. If you can't find pork or just prefer beef, sub out sherry vinegar for canned, chopped tomatoes and drop the cumin and oregano. All this recipe really entails is putting meat into a hot pan until it is browned and then putting it in a crock pot for 4 to 8 hours...

At the initial time of making this blog I was also cooking up some din-din for the fam. I was able to get my greasy paws on some pork short ribs from Kinnealy Meats out of Boston. (Amazing product list by the way. You want foie gras 5 different ways? Alligator meat? Yup, Kineally.) I am passionate about my short ribs, but so far had only tried out the beef variety. I am also an advocate for all things pork, so it should have been of no surprise that pork short ribs trump the beef!

To begin: sear your meat! Get your stainless pan hot, actually let it get what you think is hot and then go some more. If you flick water onto the pan, it should dance around. If it sticks and boils in a little inferno of angry water... wait. When your water balls dance the dance add your oil and let it get hot as well. If you see smoke you are certainly there. If you don't see smoke, but when you flick water into the oil it erupts and spits... good to go! Place your heavily salted pork short ribs into the pan and brown on all sides. This is the first stage for mine (look at the fat!):

While the meat browns you need to get your mise (a.k.a. other stuff you need for the recipe) ready. For this dish it was garlic cloves, celery, carrots, onion, and thyme.

I took the ribs out of the pan and tossed in the onion, celery, and carrot and sauteed them until the onion was slightly translucent. The ribs had been placed in my crock pot (amazing invention) and I put the semi-cooked veg in with the ribs. To this combo I added a tablespoon on tomato paste, 3 tbs of sherry vinegar, salt and pepper to my own preference, a cup of water, a few dashes of cumin and oregano, (measuring and me don't really get along... unless you count dashes, splashes, and dribbles as actual units of measurement) and half a cup of chicken stock. I think I put a dash of soy sauce (actually tamari) in as well. As a complete side note soy sauce and ketchup (or "sauce american" if you are a fancy pantsy Euro) have amazing adaptability and versatility. I just fulfilled my quota for using words ending in -ility. In general though, you don't want your liquid to come up more than halfway on your braised protein. In this case, braised protein = short ribs in a crock pot.

Cook on high for 4+ hours or on low for 6 to 8 hours to produce a little slice of tender nirvana, a.k.a. pork with pork fat. You might want to add some water/stock if it seems the pot is running really low. Once the requisite time has passed, gently remove the ribs from the pot of crock and keep warm somehow. I usually put them under a tinfoil "tent". Then strain out the solids (carrots, celery, garlic, thyme) and let the emulsion seperate out.

Using a big spoon or ladle remove the top layer which is pure fat, and while tasty, wonderful, and all around awesome... that much fat has no place in your sauce, gravy, au jus, or whatever you want to call it. With the fat layer removed put the remaining cloudy liquid of porcine deliciousness into a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Add your choice of thickener (ours here at the Zube household is cornstarch, more explanation of that to follow) and cook "until it coats the back of a spoon". Most cookbooks say that, and to be honest I never really caught their mojo. So I reduce/cook until I think it looks like a sauce and not water. So far, so good.

Throw your ribs onto a plate with whatever else you have wrangled up for din-din, sauce it freely, and feast! We had the short ribs with whipped potatoes and glazed carrots.

Happy eating!

p.s. As this is the first menu/recipe/photo montage I am publishing I am obviously still working out the kinks in formatting, photography, adjectives, prose, recipes, and all around voice. Either way though pork short ribs will rip your face off.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Welcome to the introductory post

Well, after playing around with typing up recipes for a book, handing out hastily written recipes to friends, and promising recipes to others, I have decided to make my own blog! (Which, by the way, is ridiculously easy to do.)
My posts will be what I make for dinner for myself, wife, and whomever else may be here that night. Also just the self-indulgent posts about food thoughts, sources, etc. I will also blatantly endorse some vendors/products, etc. Some recipes will be originals and others shamelessly pirated from people with much more skill than I. I do intend to make known any sources of recipes/inspiration that I use other than my own noggin. Give credit where it is due, ya know.
The goal is a minimum of one post a week, but there will surely be ups and downs. Comment away on what you read and please post if you decide to make any of the dishes posted here.