Monday, June 27, 2011

Hot Days of Summer Call for Hotter Food - Apache Fry Bread

While I was searching through the internet for various dishes good for parties, I saw a suggested link for Apache Fry Bread. Immediately intrigued, I eagerly leapt into the world of fried bread. I have no qualifications as to how authentic this recipe was, or how my rendition would match up, but anything involved dough and five pounds of lard struck me as a win win situation (except for my waistline).  A very simple recipe outline was also encouraging, as well as the rather low price for ingredients (everything was available at home).

First, flour is mixed with salt and baking powder. Next time I'll go slightly lighter on the salt, no need to go up to a level tablespoon. Or substitute with kosher salt. 

 Stirring with the fork, whirrrrr!

Slowly add water and mix it in with a fork. The recipe says to have three cups on hand. Both times I've made this, I've only needed two cups of water.

Most of the way through, keep mixing until...

It pulls together into a mass that can be kneaded. Add flour if it's too sticky. I needed a few extra handfuls myself.

After the lumps are out cover it with plastic (this doesn't seem too authentic. But neither does a plastic bowl I guess.) This needs to rest for an hour. At maybe about 45 minutes through, it is time to start melting the lard in over high heat.

Here's the rested dough, which can be torn into golf ball sized chunks. With floured hands, shape them into little pancakes with your fingers.

And drop into the hot lard! Mmmm, victory is approaching.

The first three specimens of the batch.

The ones on the left I didn't shape quite as pancake-y as the latter half. But both are delicious.

The recipe suggested powdered sugar or honey. I preferred the fry bread with the honey myself.

In my research of this interesting dish, I learned that it's very versatile and could even be used as a tortilla substitute! I topped one of the more bowl shaped pieces with a slather of salsa, some seasoned ribeye and shredded lettuce. I gotta say it was freaking delicious. Kind of like a gourmet Taco Bell Chalupa.

Recipe adapted from Food Network:

4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2-3 cups water
  • 5 pounds lard (you can probably manage with less)

1. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. 
2. Add water gradually, mixing until it becomes a dough. Knead by hand until smooth.
3. Melt lard in a heavy pot, preferably a cast iron dutch oven! When hot it's time to cook!
4. Shape dough into small golf balls then stretch out into flat cakes, maybe the size of an average man's palm or bigger if you can manage it.
5. Let the dough brown for a minute and so, then flip over for another minute and so.
6. Remove from hot fat, drain on paper towels.
7. Serve with honey, powdered sugar, or as a sumptuous tortilla.

A Good Eventful Weekend.

Unfortunately, it was so eventful that I don't really have that much to say or post, suffice to say, a good time was had by all. So you'll have to be satisfied with these few pictures for now.

A whole ribeye roast, simply seasoned with kosher salt, cayenne pepper and parsley, cooked to medium well thanks to a great digital thermometer.

And here's where the camera gets smudged. Sorry. Bacon wrapped cream cheese stuffed jalapeno peppers.

The end goal of the Root Beer BBQ Sauce. Apache Fry Bread is in the lower left there. It's delicious with honey!


Friday, June 24, 2011

Ginger ale part 2 - Flavor is good, fizz lacking

After much waiting, prodding and squeezing and a long night of chilling, the results are in.

So much promise! A glorious pale yellow liquid glowing in the late morning sun, it spoke to me of glorious fizzy delights, delicious cocktails and a ginger explosion. 

After cracking it open carefully however, the rather muted pop of gas released from the cap signaled that something had not gone exactly according to plan. Taking a whiff, the smell seemed wonderful. A pure, sweet ginger smell that one rarely gets from a commercial product.

But the pour, and lack of bubbling fizzy popping indicated that resulted, indicated that the carbonation did not  come about as powerfully as I had hoped. Most likely my use of a baker's yeast that was not as fresh as it could be was the leading culprit in the result.

Still, waste not, want not. The taste is great. It is clear, gingery, sweet and smooth. I still think there's good potential as a mixer, or just a simple (perhaps now too simple) summer drink. It's more of a "ginger-ade" than a ginger ale.

Onto new methods before trying this method again with a newer batch of yeast. Next, the ginger syrup method!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summer is still going strong - Root Beer Barbecue Sauce

Nothing says that summer has truly arrived like the first barbecue of the season. Steaks, burgers, chicken, hot dogs, there are many ways to ring in the rapidly heating days of June. There would be some who say you can't have a barbecue without having a good barbecue sauce. I'd disagree, as I find that marinades, brining and simple good seasoning are all tried and true methods that can bring out the best in your many preparations of grilled meats. 

However, there is a lot to be said about a well executed sauce. With the right combination of sweetness, depth and tang, a sauce can really accentuate the taste of your grilled goods.

Root beer barbecue sauce isn't anything new, but it's novel enough to turn heads. 

Here's what you need. A saucepan, a good amount of rootbeer (there it is in that container. I needed the two liter for the previous post), ketchup, spices, citrus juice. For spices I'm using of of Penzey's chili mixes and I'm also experimenting by using up some apple butter, as I think it would be an interesting substitution for brown sugar. There's also a saucepan I thankfully decided would be far too small for my needs before getting started. The thing about reductions, which a root beer barbecue sauce essentially is, is that they bubble quite a bit, often rising as much as 5 times the height of the stuff was originally before actually reducing. So be on the generous side when selecting your pots people.

Here we've got the root beer bubbling with some of the ketchup. I went with at least 2.5 times the amount of root beer as I've got ketchup. Part of this was from rinsing the bowl of ketchup with more root beer to get everything cleaned off.

A nice healthy sprinkling of chili spices for the heat and flavor of the sauce. Note I'm not adding any salt because I intend to use this with a rack of ribs that I will be salting the night before. I think the sweetness and tanginess of the sauce will mix well with this long salting method.

Now for the X factor, the apple butter. I'll... let you know if things don't go as well as planned. But so far so good.

Have to stir the sauce up as we start to boil, just to keep it from scorching. It's going to be a while.

As things get active, you get a lot of steam, which you want to happen. More escaping water = A reducing sauce.

It's hard to tell, but here the bubbles start to become a bit more solid, rising in larger bubbles with walls supported by a thickened liquid. When the bubbles start to calm down a bit from this rush of bubbles test the sauce by lifting up a spoon of it. It's pretty obvious when it's not ready, as seen here.

This thickness is about ready. It probably could have reduced even more, but I was getting hungry for other things and wanted to move onto a late brunch. Sorry, just human folks. Anyway, take the saucepan off the heat and let it cool and set a bit.

Then when you're done "attempt" to pour it nicely into a clean container to use later. If you could be messier than this I'd appreciate it. And there you  have it. A root beer barbecue sauce. I'll be using this on some pork ribs later, stay posted!

Basic root beer barbecue sauce:

1 part ketchup
At least 1 part root beer, can go high as ten or more
Spices of your choosing (pepper, Italian seasoning, chili seasoning, cayenne, if it sounds good go for it)
.25 parts citrus juice (optional)
.5 parts sugar (optional)
Salt if you aren't going to salt your meat

1. Mix your ketchup, root beer and other wet ingredients into a saucepan large enough to deal with a bubbling sauce. Set heat to high.
2. Mix in any spices and other ingredients.
3. Stir the sauce as it heats.
4. Once it reduces down to either a sauce or a syrup, you're good to go. If you've hit a thick syrupy consistency, it's time to stop because it won't get much better than that.
5. Allow sauce to cool. Use right away or store for later.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Just in Time For Summer Post! Making Ginger Ale part I

After a bit of a hiatus, a return to blogging. Lots of things happened, namely living with a family going on a diet. With such caloric restrictions in place, it's hard to pursue truly grand, rich things as is my inclination.

In the meantime, I've managed to escape a diet restricted eating regime temporarily to hopefully have some good material for a few posts. 

The inspiration for this post has been a fascination with ginger beer, ever since discovering the Moscow Mule from a manga about, well, cocktails. A Moscow Mule is vodka, lemon or lime juice and topped with a healthy pour of ginger beer. It is refreshing and has a good kick from the soda as well as the ginger. A perfect summer drink really! 

After coming upon this recipe for ginger ale through the comments on The Paupered Chef's post on Ginger Beer, an opportunity to pursue something great came about! So here it is. Seems to me the biggest differences between Ginger Beer and Ginger Ale is that ginger beer involves the use of heated water. I'll give that the try next time, but this time, the instructions for a Professor of Biology are good enough for me.

First the setup. Sugar, yeast, ginger, a lemon. The smaller fruit is a key lime, since our lemon's are Meyer's and not as tart, so I wanted to offset that a little.

A cup of sugar and 1/4 tsp of yeast is funneled into a 2 liter plastic bottle. 

Grate fresh ginger until you get 1.5 tablespoons of the wonderfully pungent stuff, and put it into a measuring cup or some other easy to pour container. 

Squeeze a lemon into it! Then pour this into the 2 liter.

And wash everything into the bottle with good fresh water.

Right now I'm keeping it in the bathtub in case of explosions, and will check it until the bottle is hard, a sign that things are at their limit. Once that's done, it's going into the fridge. I'll keep you posted on the results!