Sunday, April 20, 2014

Big Green Drink...VITAMIX


HEALTHY HEALTHY HEALTHY !!!
BIG GREEN DRINK

i prefer the VITAMIX method...
WHAT YOU PUT IN IS WHAT YOU GET OUT
maybe someday i might buy a real juicer for something different, but for now i enjoy the vitamix.  it retains all, i mean ALL the nutrients and fiber everyBODY is looking for.

PS...the biggest selling point for me was the clean-up.  no filters, no waste AND you use less and store less produce.  real juicers take up a lot of space on the counter AND you need 3x's the produce.  

PSS...i was told by another fellow juicer that fresh juice (from a juicer) should be consumed right away.  the vitamix green smoothie can sit a day without harm.  so...i make 2 days worth and save on trouble and time.  


INGREDIENTS
right to left
KALE, LIME, GINGER, CELERY, CUCUMBER, MINT, CARROT, SNAP PEAS, PARSLY
not shown...
PEA SPROUTS, GREEN APPLE, ARTICHOKE POWDER and a SHOT OF WHEATGRASS
add some water and ice.


i chop it into large chunks, add water and squeeze the lime.
i add a squeeze of "MIO" Peach Mango non calorie drink for a little sweet/tart.
DON'T FORGET TO ADD ICE.
make sure you start your blender on LOW and turn up the speed. 
TASTE TEST !
feel the side of the container while it is blending.  make sure it stays cool.  the Vitamix is very powerful and can raise heat.  you don't want to heat the mixture.  add more ice if necessary.  blend until smooth.
ENJOY !!!

shot this a while ago for ST. PATTY's DAY

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Asian Braised Pork Belly


like i always say...

you can't go wrong with pork belly.

it's easy, hard to over cook and always meaty fatty delicious.
this one is skin free and fully braised with Asian aromatics.
no crispy skin technique here...
this one just melts in your mouth.


it's definitely delicious after a 20 minute rest, but i like to let it cool and refrigerate.  then slice and give a quick sear in a medium hot pan.  serve with just about anything...on burgers, in a panini, with eggs, in spring rolls or just in is own broth with a few of the caramelized shallots.
FYI...it freezes well to.


2-3 pound pork belly, no skin

FOR THE BRAISING LIQUID

1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
ginger juice, i squeezed a few slices with my garlic press
3 star anise
1 Tbsp brown sugar
a few ginger slices
mix this together until sugar dissolves.
TASTE TEST.  add a little more this or that if necessary.  i'm sure i did.
ALSO...if this is not enough liquid for a braise (because your braisers vary) add a little chicken stock or just some more of the ingredients above.
NOTE...the shallots will weep so do not over do the liquid or you will be boiling the bottom of the belly.

make a bed in the bottom of braiser as shown below...
shallots, smashed garlic ginger slices, star anise.



place belly on bed and pour over braising liquid.  sprinkle with salt and szechwan peppercorns.
cover and put in 320 F oven for about 2 hours, then turn down to 300 for about another 1 1/2 hour, maybe 2 hr...  check your braising liquid.  do you need to take some out?...do you need to add a little?
  EVERY PORK BELLY IS DIFFERENT
you just have to check on it.  if it is truly fork tender then it is ready.
TOTAL TIME APPROX. 3 1/2 TO 4 HOURS

don't worry about the dark ugly looking burnt pan.  this one cleaned off in minutes

serve as is, melt in the mouth...
OR chill over night and slice off and sear as needed.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Pig Tails. Asian Marinade, Braised and Roasted


nose to TAIL

we're talkin' PIG TAILS...

PHAT ! FATTY fabulous !

done them before (BBQ Style HERE) and i'll do them again.  this not for the weak, diet conscious, cholesterol high, tenderloin pansy palate bacon only-vegetarians.

THIS IS FOR THE, NOSE-TO-TAILERS, SNOOTER TO THE TOOTERS,  TIP-TO-TOE AND EVERYTHING INBETWEENERS


not what you'd expect them to look like ?...

NO, they aren't those cute little curly things on adorable little baby piggies you see in cartoons.

THEY ARE ACTUALLY QUITE UGLY
BUT...TO THE PORK LOVER AND TRUE "NOSE-TO-TAILER" THESE ARE A BEAUTIFUL THING.
porky, meaty, unctuous and fatty.

Shhhh....pig tails are still a CHEAP cut of the pig.
4 lbs. for about 6 bucks !

i just cooked the PIG SNOUTS in a Spicy Mexican Chipotle Adobo so i thought i would go Asian-style with these.  i thew together this marinade.  it worked very well for the braise and dipping sauce as well.  use whatever marinade you see fit, i'm sure it will be as tasty as ever with all this porky fatty goodness that comes together after hours of cooking.
MARINADE

1/2 cup soy
1/4 cup honey
2 big Tbsp brown sugar
juice 1 orange
zest pieces from 1/2 orange, use a potato peeler
6-7 thin slices of ginger
1 scallion, sliced
3 cloves smashed garlic
3 inch piece of smashed lemon grass
1 tsp chili garlic sauce

heat this in a small pot for a few minutes to get the flavors together and let it cool to room temp before pouring into bag of tails.  don't forget to do a taste test.
i had too many tails for 1 bag AND not quite enough marinade.  this was 4 lbs. of tails!!!  i split the contents and i had to substitute in a little Soy Vay Hoisin Garlic Sauce/Marinade.

seal the bag with as little air as possible, put into a pan to prevent leakage and place in the fridge over night.  try to turn the bag if you're up and about.

INTO THE OVEN FOR BRAISING

put in oven proof dish that will fit all the tails.  add marinade and liquid tails were in.  if it doesn't seen like enough you can add some stock, but as you can see i might have had just 1/2 inch of liquid...that worked great.  i would have used a huge cast iron dutch oven with a lid, but it was just too big so i put them in a pyrex glass dish in one layer.  i will probably have to check on them every hour to make sure the braise liquid is still there.
cover TIGHT with aluminum foil and they are ready for the 300-320 F oven
APPROX. 3-3 1/2 HOURS WILL DO IT


i started the oven at 320 F, but didn't realize it was on convection.  after an hour i peeked...they were already getting a lovely golden brown.  i turned convection OFF and lowered to 300 F for another hour.  the last hour was down to 280 F (i had to go to the sore and didn't want to over do it)
they should be done when you can easily pull a piece of the bone from the meat.

seriously...i could not stop eating them straight out of the dish.  i might have over done it on my PHAT quota for the week.



once again, my eyes were bigger than my stomach.  i packed some away with the delicious braising liquid for another application...something with pickled slaw, kimchi?, noodles...
or maybe a pulled pig tail banh mi ?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Homemade CHEVRE...Goat Cheese..Easiest Way


goat cheese is good ANY time of the day...

ESPECIALLY WHEN IT'S HOMEMADE !


FRESH HOMEMADE CHEVRE

has to be the easiest cheese to make!

1 gallon of goat milk
make sure your milk is NOT "ultra" pasteurized

these are the instructions and cultures i use.  
from the NEW ENGLAND CHEESEMAKING SUPPLY Co.

it works perfect EVERY time !

BIG shout out to my pals at New England Cheesemaking Supply


(please read instructions included with cultures)
slowly heat goat milk to 86 F degrees
add cultures, let re-hydrate 2 min.... stir.
cover let sit overnight at 72 F degrees for 12-14 hours and you should have beautiful curds like these.



MY FAVORITE PART...THE CURDS


strain in thin muslin cloth or a few layers of cheesecloth.  this should take a few hours.  i prefer muslin.  it's a lot easier to work with.  i like to go in and stir this away from the sides so it strains quicker and you can see what your consistency is.


OR...you can hang it.


at this point you add the salt and mix it around.
TASTE TEST!
i use 1 to 1 1/4 tsp fine sea salt.  careful with the salt...if it strains more it will intensify.  you can always ADD, but you can not take away.  sometimes i add fresh dried rosemary to all or half.
let it strain until you like the consistency.
NOTE...don't toss ALL the whey (liquid).  you might need to add some back in if your finished product is too dry or chalky...ie.  if it strained too long
REMEMBER...it will thicken when chilled


yield is almost 2 pounds.
i think for this last one i got 11.15 oz.  i like mine to be spreadable so it yields a bit more, but you don't want it too mushy.  if it strains too long and gets chalky, you can mix in some of the "whey" that has strained out.


you can make this fabulous Lemon Rosemary Goat Cheese Cake
you will be so proud telling friends that YOU made the 11 oz of fresh goat cheese that went into this beautiful light tangy Goat Cheese.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Kombucha brewed with Homemade Mother Scoby and 2nd Flavored Ferment.


FERMENTATION, PROBIOTICS, GOOD BACTERIA?

maybe it's just a "FAD"
(it's reported to go back 2000 years)

maybe i'm looking for "HEALTHY"
(full of probiotics for a healthy digestive system)

MAYBE IT JUST FASCINATES ME

it's like a 3rd grade science project


so...after you've successfully made your own "homemade Mother Scoby", you are ready to brew some Kombucha that you've been paying 3$ - 4$ per bottle.  this is a little documentation of what to expect for the novice brewer...from a novice brewer.
UPDATE...i just posted an EVEN EASIER way to make a Homemade SCOBY HERE


THINGS YOU'LL NEED...
note...this is what i do, but Cultures for Health has great kombucha brewing info.

a SCOBY 
1-2 cups starter kombucha
(this is kombucha from a previous batch or you should receive some with your new scoby)
8 bags of black tea
1 cup granulated sugar
a gallon size glass jar
clean cloth or paper towel and rubber band

isn't she a beauty !

FIRST...brew a gallon of black or green tea, i used black.
boil water.  turn off heat.  add 8 tea bags.  let brew 10 minutes.  remove tea bags.  add sugar.  stir.
LET COME TO ROOM TEMP...important!!!
add sugar/tea to clean gallon size glass jar.

carefully, WITH VERY CLEAN HANDS proceed.  NOTE...you can clean your hands with anti-bacterial soap, but must rinse them very well with a splash of diluted white vinegar and rinse very well again.  scobys do not like anti-bacterial soap.   put scoby into tea mixture (shiny side up, if there is one) with about 1-2 cups of the "starter kombucha"(previously brewed kombutcha).  leave about 2-3 inch head room.  see photos.
cover with double paper towel or clean cloth and secure with a rubber band.
place out of direct sunlight, but in a warm-ish part of the house.  NOT the garage or where any strange airborne weirdness may be floating around.  just a nice clean area is fine.
leave UNDISTURBED.  do not poke at it.
the first brew should take about 10 to 16 days.  you will need to do a taste test after 7 days.  dip a clean (new) straw in, put your finger over the end and draw some liquid out.  DO NOT suck it out with your mouth.  you do not want any contaminates.  if it is too sweet, test it again in a few days.  i have found that 14-16 days works for me.  i have also noticed that a "SENIOR" SCOBY (one that has gone a few rounds) will brew faster than a newish scoby.

BELOW IS WHAT YOU MIGHT EXPECT TO HAPPEN...
      
DAY #1...scoby floating
DAY #2...scoby sank to the bottom
DAY #5...scoby sideways with possible baby scoby growing on surface
DAY #7...scoby is moving back up

i found a great site "Cultures For Health" that has info for trouble shooting.  Scoby on the bottom, sideways scoby and floating scoby are all OKAY.  new baby scoby should form at the surface.

DAY #8 scoby is up top...under the new scoby
DAY #14  new scoby is the top layer about 1/4 inch thick
kombucha seems done.  not too sweet with just a slight effervescence.
time to bottle, add flavors and start second fermentation

2nd FERMENTATION...
for FLAVOR AND FIZZ
first things first...prepare another batch of sweetened tea do this a few hours before you are ready to bottle your second ferment.  prepare sweetened tea as described above and let it come to room temp... so you can put the new baby in and start another batch.  give the mother away, stick it in with the baby in the new batch or store it in 2 cups of the newly brewed kombucha in a smaller jar until ready to use.  some say to keep it in the fridge with a solid lid, some say never put it in the fridge...  mine is in a smaller jar with a breathable top, just waiting....growing, but still looks very healthy.  NOTE...i have since learned NOT to put in the fridge and i now have 3 in the SCOBY HOTEL as shown below.  i have ALSO learned that the hotel will grow another baby scoby.  i have scobys on scobys.
SCOBY HOTEL FOR EXTRA SCOBYS
 you'll always have a scoby for a new brew IN CASE ONE GOES BAD.
remove scoby...ewe
just kidding.  it's really not as gross as i thought it would be.  they might be separate or fused together.  place both scobys on a clean plate while you are bottling...then put them in your new sweetened tea with 1-2 cups of the just finished kombucha.
mother scoby on top, baby scoby under...so weird!
choose lock top bottles for safety and better effervescence.
they should be sterilized...do your best.  i have also used clean bottles from store bought kombucha.  they are much easier to clean and DO hold some effervescence.

again, Cultures for Health has some good ideas and more explicit  instructions.
AND...Caroline Lunger at Mygutsy has a great tutorial for the 2nd fermentation.
Kombucha Girl has a wealth of great information.
Spoon Full of Sugar Free has some great flavor ideas.

CHOOSE A FLAVOR
you can buy some organic juice...make your own flavors.
my first batch i opted for Organic Peach Lemonade...great, but now i make my own.
whatever flavor you choose...the ratio should be 10-20% juice in the bottle you are using. (example of  added juice quantity is in very top photo.)
so far i have used the peach lemonade, crystallized ginger pieces, coconut syrup and homemade ginger vanilla syrup.
after you remove your scobys (new baby and mother) STRAIN kombucha into bottles.   use a filtered funnel for this job.  i use a few layers of cheese cloth.  REMEMBER...save about 1-2 cups to put in your new batch.  seal the bottles and let the them sit on the counter for 3-6 days.  check one of the bottles after 2 days.  mine usually take 5-6 days to regain a little fizz and lose sweetness from the flavored juice..  you want to test for taste, fizz factor AND to make sure they are not going to explode from over fermentation.


NOTE...a small mini SCOBY will form in each bottle and there will be sediment at the bottom.  when serving, use a small strainer for a nice clean experience..

UPDATE....i've made about 9-10 batches now and have found that my favorite flavor is homemade ginger vanilla bean simple syrup with a splash of fresh squeezed lemon.
i let them sit on the counter for about 5-7 days.
SPECTACULAR

GINGER VANILLA BEAN SIMPLE SYRUP

NOTE...i don't like it to be too too syrupy/sweet for this application.
2 cups water
1 big cup of sugar
1 1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
OR 1 vanilla bean pod split
about 3 inches of ginger root, grated
put everything in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.  turn down heat and let simmer for about 5 minutes.  turn off heat and let come to room temp.  taste.  you might like more sugar.
STRAIN BEFORE USING
i add about an inch of this in the bottle along with a good splash of fresh lemon juice.

pardon the lazy iPhone photo, but i wanted to catch the beautiful effervescence...too busy for the "beauty shot".

Thursday, February 13, 2014

BACON...I love you !


nothing says "I LOVE YOU" like a beautiful BACON HEART for your Valentine's breakfast


super easy, super fun
a big hit with the bacon lovers out there.
i found this at "The Paper Mama" on my never ending quest for bacon ideas.
i think it's genius!


not much of a recipe, BUT...

THIS IS MY "HOW-TO"
make bacon hearts as shown
put on aluminum foil sheet pan
put the formed hearts in a COLD OVEN and set at 390 F convection
set timer for 15 minutes
take out and drain some fat off corner of tray
optional...sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon, chipotle, cumin, or ?
put back in the oven
cook until crispy
remove and set on paper towels, then cooling rack
or EAT THEM ALL !


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