Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Brewty and the Yeast

Check that title. I'm so clever....

But really, let's get serious. Or at least as serious as I can be expected to be on a blog post regarding homebrewing and a punny Disney title.


My sister and brother-in-law gave 'the man' a home brew kit for Christmas. It came with a basic starter brew that will be ready for consumption this weekend. I, of course, would prefer to sample, evaluate, and review the first brew before jumping into a second batch. What if we crack open a beer to find that it's too sweet? Too fermented? Not fermented enough? Sludgy?

...okay, maybe 'sludgy' seems like an extreme outcome...but then again, we've never brewed before so how would we know! Which is why I wanted to leave a window of trial-and-error, experimentation-what-have-you...

But he was so excited about brewing again...

...and he bought the ingredients for the White House Honey Ale...

...and he's just too wonderful to say 'no' to....

So we spent our Sunday like any good 'Murican-- brewing the White House beer recipe.

Brewing is kind of an unattractive process. For instance, this picture makes me think of swirling around a gym sock in dirty water. Thirsty yet?

And this one.....have I used the word 'sludgy' too much yet?

That's Gold Malt Extract. I'm sure it provides a specific, essential beer-making function...but the man isn't home yet so I can't ask him, and I'm too lazy to google that right now. I wish I would have taken a picture of adding the hops. That took the mix from 'gym sock water?' to 'sludgy?' to 'swamp water?'

This liquid isn't 'beer' yet. At this early stage, it's called 'wort', which more or less reminds me of 'Wart', which sort of makes me want to call our brew 'Pellinore' or 'Grummursum'...

Obscure reference there. If you got it, you're either my older sister or just as big a weirdo as I am. Cheers either way!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

BBQ Pulled Pork Pizza

Nothing makes me happier than using leftovers to create a dish that actually tastes like it was done purposefully.

Last weekend I slow-cooked a 5 pound pork shoulder. I adapted the Dr. Pepper method from the Pioneer Woman for my slow cooker. Super simple, crazy delicious. I set it to go overnight...can you imagine that mouthwatering wake-up call? I scarcely touched a fork to the meat before it fell off the bone.

But one can only eat so many pulled pork sandwiches in a week! Thursday night, I got it in my head that I was going to do something spectacular with that pork on Friday. I'm going to go ahead and pat myself on the back now:

BBQ Pulled Pork Pizza

To make the pulled pork:
  • 5 pound pork shoulder/pork butt
  • 2 cans Dr. Pepper
  • 1/2 to 1 small can chilis in adobe sauce
  • 2 TB brown sugar 
  • Salt, Pepper, Onion and Garlic powder (because I'm a loser and don't like actual onions...)
Liberally season your pork with the salt, pepper, onion and garlic. Place in the slow cooker, fatty side up. Depending on how hot you like things, roughly chop 1/2 to 1 can of chilis in adobe sauce. Position the chilis to rest on the top of the pork. Pour the Dr. Pepper around the meat, sprinkle in the brown sugar, then cover and set on low for 10-12 hours. 

When the pork is fall off the bone tender, take a spoon and scrape off the top layer of fat (this is why you put it fat side up!) and remove any other fat visible. Shred the pork and allow to soak in cooking juices for an additional hour. 

Olive Oil Pizza Dough (scaled down from Artisan Bread in 5):
  • 1 3/8 cup warm water
  • 3/4 TB yeast
  • 3/4 TB salt
  • 1/2 TB sugar
  • 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 1/4 cup flour 
Mix water, salt, yeast, sugar and olive oil together in a large bowl. (If you have a dough hook for an electric mixer, you can use that instead)

Mix in flour with a wooden spoon. Ensure that the flour has been evenly incorporated (you may have to use your hands), but be careful not to knead the dough. Cover loosely with a lid or plastic wrap and allow the dough to sit at room temp for 2 hours. (Since it's winter in MN and my 'room temp' is not suitable for bread, I set mine in the oven with the light on)

After the dough has risen and flattened, cover the container a bit more firmly and store in the fridge for up to two weeks. 

To make the pizza:

Preheat oven to 450

Cut two grapefruit sized balls from the dough. On a flour surface, gently stretch the dough to desire thickness. Place on an oiled baking sheet. 

Spoon a thin layer of BBQ sauce on the dough. Add desired amount of pulled pork and thinly chopped shallots or onions (I added that to the man's pizza, not mine.) 

Crumble on some good blue cheese and a bit of cheddar. The pizza will be very rich from the BBQ and the pork, so go easy here. 

Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the crust is turning golden. Brush the crusts with garlic butter, and top the pizzas with a sprinkle of chopped parsley, red pepper flakes, and Parmesan.  

Scotch Eggs

The man and I have a difference of opinions when it comes to defrosted meat.

Pound of breakfast sausage ready to use in the fridge?

I say use it all at once and have leftovers!

He says use half of it, then put 1/2 a pound of raw sausage back in the fridge for "another use"- that usually means it sits in there until it either:

a. gets made into the same exact dish the first half was used for (thus my one-and-done leftover stance)
b. goes bad
c. actually gets used in a different dish 

Now, it doesn't really matter who's right or wrong- all that matters is that the sausage avoids option b. Given my leftover stance, I would also rather it avoid option a as well....but then that means I have to figure out how to use option c. 

Well guess what. I did. 

Bear with me- I know the picture doesn't make the most compelling argument, but dear lawrdy! Scotch Eggs. Not only that- but these babies are 'healthy' least as healthy as a hard-boiled egg encased in sausage can be (read: baked, not fried). 

What really puts this dish over the top is the sauce. Had I exercised some restraint and taken a picture of the eggs just sliced in half, sprinkled with chopped parsley and served with a side of this sauce I might have taken a more tantalizing picture...but who has time for that when there are hot Scotch Eggs?! 

Baked Scotch Eggs with Mustard Mayonnaise

  • 1/2 pound pork sausage, seasoned as desired or pre-seasoned (I used Jimmy Dean's Hot Breakfast Sausage)
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Flour for dredging (I do a mix of 3 parts flour, 1 part paprika)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs, seasoned to taste with cumin, plenty of black pepper, and a generous sprinkle of seasoned salt (Lawry's)

Heat oven to 400, and butter four individual baking cups (or a muffin tin)

Divide sausage into 4 equal portions. Form each portion into a flat patty. 

Dip a peeled egg into the milk. Roll the egg in the flour mixture, making sure that the egg is coated entirely. Gently shake off the excess flour.

Take one sausage patty and evenly form it around the egg. Check for air pockets or holes. Dip the sausage ball into the beaten egg, and then roll in the panko. Coat as evenly and completely as possible, shaking off the excess. 

Stand each egg in the grease baking cup. Bake for 30 minutes. 

Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes. Slice each egg in half (top to bottom) and serve hot with Mustard Mayonnaise (or condiment of choice) and a pint. 

-Allow leftover eggs to cool before refrigerating, or condensation will make the panko soggy. 

Mustard Mayonnaise
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (full fat, please)
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
Whisk egg, mayo, mustard and sugar in a medium saucepan over low heat. Stirring slowly and constantly, heat the mix just to before a simmer. Quickly remove from heat and stir to cool. Chill the mustard in the fridge until serving time. 

*Be careful with the heat on this or the fat in the mayonnaise will break and separate. I tried to go too fast on my first attempt and ended up garnishing my garbage can with mustard sauce. Round two, low and slow, went flawlessly.    


A Kitchen Frenzy

Now that the man is back, my kitchen is slowly coming back to life. Cloves of garlic are nestled in their little oven-side bowl again, fresh parsley gives a subtle crunch under my knife, the butter dish is constantly being scraped clean- heck, there's homemade bread dough in the fridge! After a long period of dormancy, my kitchen confidence is finally beginning to stir.

It started with trying to use up 1/2 a pound of breakfast sausage:

Scotch Eggs with Mustard Mayonnaise (not a very becoming picture, but delicious I assure you!)

That snowballed into a birthday dinner for the man:

Simple Roast Duck, Mushroom and Green Bean Medley in a Shallot Butter Sauce, Orange and Cranberry Couscous 

Followed, of course, by birthday dessert:

Peach Crisp with Maple Cream Sauce (ala The Pioneer Woman)

Which then led to a smattering of doughnuts, banana bars, pulled pork, meat loaf, roast vegetables, and last night's pizza: 

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go get buried under a mound of dirty dishes...

Saturday, January 19, 2013

It's Been Awhile...

Oh. Hi.

This is awkward.

I realize that taking a hiatus when a blog is still in it's infancy probably doesn't bode well for gaining popularity.

I would say that things have been hectic, that the last few months have nearly run me off my feet...well hell. I will say that. It's true....but just because it's true doesn't mean that it's an excuse as to why I've sluffed off.

If it's any consolation, dear internet friends, I've also done abysmally at keeping up my relationship with the gym, the kitchen, the cleaning bucket, the laundry basket, the penpal, the college friends....


I guess the thing is that when I get busy, when I get overwhelmed, I let the things I love and enjoy fall by the wayside. I try to catch myself and take a breather when I notice this happening, but sometimes there's just no way to stop.

After my surgery in early November, I found myself struggling with recovery much more than anticipated. Apart from the general post-op pain and inconveniences of a nasal surgery (i.e. mouth breathing and kleenex galore) there was also a painful allergic reaction to my antibiotics, delayed post-anesthesia insomnia, and a (TMI, forgive me) bladder infection that seemed hell-bent on meeting my kidneys. Additionally, work was......astonishingly stressful.

Enter December: health restored, work still hectic. After a brief two weeks home for Thanksgiving, the Man was gone again- this time to Korea. Did you know the time difference between Korea and MN makes it so that someone there is going to bed just before you wake up? Did you know that this time difference/distance is even more apparent when you cannot call or text one another? And finally, did you know that not being able to see, touch, or talk to that one person can make you feel very alone in the quiet of the night, especially when your world seems to be crumbling more and more each day?

It was a difficult year's end.

But I created this blog so that I could share nice things. Happy things. Pleasant things. I created this blog so that I could take a break from frustration, stress, anger, and the otherwise unkind. I should be doing what I set out to do.

So, hi. I'm back.