foodie stuff

Tools of my trade…

This week I was named a Delectable Wine Pro!

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So what the heck does that mean? Well, I use a nice little wine app called Delectable. I recommend it to all my fellow winos, if you don’t already have it. I use it to track and rate wines I’ve tasted, and also while I’m in the store picking out wines to purchase. It has excellent label recognition (the best I’ve come across in a wine app) and will give you user & pro ratings as well as descriptions by users & pros. So I guess I’m officially a professional wino according to Delectable. Check me out on Delectable here & see what I’m drinking!

Another fun little tool in my arsenal is Pepperplate. I’m just starting to scratch the surface of what Pepperplate can do, but the main thing I use it for is when I’m composing recipes. It formats them for me so I don’t have to worry about numbering, or bullet points, or lining things up. It does all that for me. You can share recipes with your friends and there’s an option to make menus and grocery lists using the recipes. Best thing is, I have this app in my phone, so I can write a recipe wherever & whenever inspiration strikes. Currently, there’s an option to share your recipes on Facebook & Twitter, and boy would I like to see an option for formatting a recipe on Pepperplate, and posting it to WordPress (hint hint).

#putaneggonit (Part 3) The Wonderful World of Coddled Eggs

Today I coddled a few eggs and my world changed a little. Coddled eggs are a gently steamed egg that can be cooked in a variety of vessels. This morning I coddled an egg in a tea cup (see above) and this evening I tried 2 in tiny mason jars (because really, what can’t a mason jar do?). Absolute success. This is what I love about eggs. Cooking eggs can be difficult to master, but once you get your technique down, they are awesome every time. For the record, you can buy an egg coddler from Sur la Table, but you don’t really need one, any vessel will work. Although, if I stumbled upon one of these cute vintage ones from Royal Worcester, it would be hard to resist.

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Hello cutie. Royal Worcester egg coddlers.

Coddled Eggs in a Tea Cup or Baby Mason Jar

Equipment & Ingredients:

  • a pot large enough for your vessel(s) to fit inside of comfortably with the lid on
  • small tea cup or baby mason jar (1 for each egg)
  • 3 or 4 large eggs (however many you have cups/jars for)
  • cooking spray
  • hot water (I used my electric kettle)

Directions:

  1. Turn your stovetop heat to high, but do not put the pot on the heat yet.
  2. Using a kettle heat enough water to cover the portion of the vessel containing the egg (about 2-3 inches up should work).
  3. Spray your vessel liberally with cooking spray. (This is the key of getting the egg to pop out of the vessel effortlessly when it’s cooked.)
  4. Crack the eggs into the vessel.
  5. Carefully place cups/jars into the pot.
  6. When the water boils, slide the pot onto the hot burner & pour water from the kettle into pot around vessels taking care not to drip water into the vessels.
  7. When the water reaches a rolling boil, put on the lid and lower heat to a medium-high simmer.
  8. Boil, covered for 6-7 minutes or until eggs reach desired doneness. The cups/jars will rattle around slightly during the cooking process.
  9. Carefully take vessels out of hot water (they will be HOT) and turn eggs out onto plate or eat from vessel if desired.

“What can I do with my coddled eggs?” you may say. I’m glad you asked. Here’s a few suggestions:

  1. Make a Steak & Egg McMuffin of sorts. One of my favorites is a coddled egg, on a toasted English muffin, with sautéed mushrooms & onions, and a bit of leftover steak.
  2. Have it on top of a slice of cold pizza.
  3. Atop your Ramen, Soba, or Odon noodles.
  4. Make your own EggSlut

“What’s an EggSlut?” Great question. While scouring the internet for ideas to further fuel my egg obsession I came across EggSlut. It’s a food truck (food trucks are so hot right now) based out of LA, that makes all manner of egg/breakfast sandwiches. Their star is the Slut, which is described as “a coddled egg on top of a smooth potato purée, poached in a glass jar and served with a demi baguette”. Oh man. I really had to give that a try!

Coddled Egg with Mashed Potatoes and Cheese (AKA EggSlut)

Equipment & Ingredients:

  • small mason jar (1 for each EggSlut)
  • a pot large enough for your jars to fit inside of comfortably with the lid on
  • 3 or 4 large eggs (however many you have cups/jars for)
  • cooking spray
  • hot water (I used my electric kettle)
  • about 1/3 C mashed potatoes per jar (I do mine with heavy cream & plenty of butter. Sometimes with the skins left on.)
  • about 1/4 C shredded cheddar cheese per jar

Directions:

  1. Turn your stovetop heat to high, but do not put the pot on the heat yet.
  2. Using a kettle heat enough water to cover the portion of the jar containing the egg (about 2-3 inches up should work).
  3. Spray your jar liberally with cooking spray. **very important step**
  4. Put a scoop of mashed potatoes in the bottom of each jar. You want the mashed potatoes to come about an inch to an inch & a half up the side of the jar.

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    These are homemade mashed potatoes with the skins on (I like the texture) but this would also be a great recipe for using up leftover mashed potatoes.

  5. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top of the potatoes.

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    The jars are in the pot here. #YOLO

  6. Crack an egg into each jar. IMG_0018_2
  7. Carefully place jars into the pot.
  8. When the water boils, slide the pot onto the hot burner & pour water from the kettle into pot around jars taking care not to drip water into the jars.
  9. When the water reaches a rolling boil, put the lid on the pot and lower heat to a medium-high simmer.

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    This is right before I covered it. The water is at a good, rolling boil.

  10. Boil, covered for 6-7 minutes or until eggs reach desired doneness. The jars will rattle around slightly during the cooking process.
  11. Carefully take vessels out of hot water (they will be HOT). You can turn your EggSlut out onto a plate or enjoy it right out of the jar with some toast or an English muffin.
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Beautiful & delicious finished “Eggslut”. You can give her a more family-friendly name if you want to… 🙂

Play-date Wednesday

For a few weeks now I’ve had a play-date planned with my friend & co-worker. We work together for a small company, so if we want to go somewhere together a little planning is in order. Back in August, I went & checked out Windy Wine Co. It’s a cool little spot about an hour away where they’re making some very cool, outside-the-box wines and meads. Recently, I was able to hit it up again; the line-up has changed & evolved seasonally (which is often apt to happen with smaller wineries) & I was able to taste some of the same wines I tasted last time, and I few new (to me) ones. On my last visit, I met Kraig, the vintner, very briefly. This time he did our tasting & we were able to talk about wine-drinking, wine-making, wine fests, mutual friends and acquaintances, and Dr Who.

We sampled the full line-up, which amounted to more than a dozen wines. Here are my picks from this visit:

Apple Wine

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Windy’s Apple Wine had a lovely clean, slightly tart flavor with just enough sweetness. It’s made with locally grown Gala & Jonathan apples (my 2 faves), and has some very subtle woodiness. Reminded me of sitting in a tree on an Autumn day eating apples straight off the branch.

Blushing Mallard

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Blushing Mallard was another outside-the-box offering from Kraig. It’s made from local Norton grapes, which are not typically my favorite. I shouldn’t say this too loudly while in Missouri, since Norton is their state grape and has something of a cult following. However, instead of the typical spiciness and heavy tannins you usually find in a Norton, it’s much fruitier with an “untamed” wild cherry note (see what I did there?) starting in the middle and going all the way until the end. They recommend it with wild duck, but it would stand up beside any wild game.  Very tasty.

Chipotle Mead

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This guy was my winner of the day, surprisingly. I am not a huge mead drinker, I don’t go out in search of mead, although I know that plenty of folks do. This one is pretty unique, there are 3 layers of flavor here. At the back you have an earthy note, from the honey, then the expected sweetness and thickness coating your mouth & tongue, then on the end the deep, spicy chipotle. I definitely bought this with the intention of cooking with it, but I’m still trying to decide whether I want to slow-cook some chicken or pork, or maybe make some jelly. Or both. That will be coming up soon, so stay tuned.

After we got done at Windy, we ended up stumbling onto a nice little Greek joint I found on UrbanSpoon, Gyro Paradise in St Joseph, MO (the birthplace of Eminem incidentally). We had some yummy lamb gyros, stuffed grape leaves, and falafel. The nice young guy at the counter even let us taste the baba ganoush and a few other items. Prices were great, staff was great, food was tasty. Will definitely be back the next time I’m in the neighborhood. It’s a little hard to schedule my wino/foodie field trips in my line of work, but I already have a few ideas for my next one, so this will definitely not be my last.

Fromage de Tete and Banh Mi ~ AKA Headcheese Update

The headcheese is done! It was a busy weekend but I finally had the chance today to unmold my headcheese from it’s mini loaf pan home.

It’s meaty and gelatinous enough to hold it’s shape fairly well. My one kid who would eat it said he liked it better than the store-bought headcheese he tried last week; because it had more meat.

While I was running across recipes looking for something to do with all the headcheese I now have I ran across a Banh Mi. My understanding is that many different types of sandwiches can be called a Banh Mi, but headcheese is a fairly typical filling. So tonight I fixed up some Banh Mis, with French bread, headcheese, mayo, sriracha, lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, and pickled veggies. I didn’t make my veggies in an authentically Vietnamese way, I bought a jar of of the Italian-style pickled veg (cauliflower, carrots, peppers, and cucumbers). This was in the interest of getting the headcheese on the sandwich and the sandwich into my belly and onto the blog ASAP. Making Vietnamese pickled veggies is on my to-try list though (see my Pinterest).

I think that perhaps I’m more comfortable with Vietnamese cuisine than with other Asian cuisines because of the French influence. I’m trained on the classically French tip, and that’s what typically feels comfortable for me.

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Quick Little Banh Mi

Ingredients:

  • hoagie-sized baguette
  • 2 slices headcheese
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 3-4 slices of tomato
  • 3-4 slices of cucumber
  • 1-2 leaves Boston Bibb lettuce
  • a big spoonful of pickled veggies (someday soon there will be recipe link here)
  • a few drops of Sriracha (to taste)

Directions:

  1. Cut the baguette in half length-wise and width-wise. Scoop out a bit of the inside of the bread if needed.
  2. Spread the mayonnaise on the bottom piece of bread, drizzle with sriracha.
  3. Put the the headcheese on the top half. Press down and spread if necessary.
  4. Dress the sandwich with the veggies and press down lightly.

Making headcheese was a fun & interesting experience. I learned that I still like doing homemade charcuterie. I learned that people are apparently really squeamish when it comes to animal heads and other obscure animal parts. People that I really didn’t expect to be. I also learned that there are folks that think it’s wicked cool (these are the people who have random food pictures in their phones and don’t think it’s odd when there’s pictures of a pig’s head in yours).

Headcheese Assembly

The end of last week I began to assemble my headcheese. First, I scooped the creamy white fat off the top of my stock. Surprisingly there was close to 2C of it! Below the fat, the stock was thick and gelatinous. I put it on the stove to liquefy and reduce and began chopping my meat. The meat was much easier to chop when it was cold. I put about a handful and a half of chopped meat into a foil mini loaf pan (filled it about 2/3). I had the perfect amount of meat to fill 10 mini loaf pans. It took about half an hour for the stock to reduce once it came to a boil (about 45 mins from the time I put it on the stove). I added about 2 ladles of stock to each of the loaf pans. You can fill the pans as close to the top as you feel comfortable. Once all the loaf pans were full I wrapped them with plastic wrap and put them in the fridge to chill. After 4-5 hours the headcheese had started to solidify, but I would give it 10-12 hours before you try to unmold it.

Headcheese Progress

Today I finally found a pot big enough for my hog’s head. It’s 33 qts. I coarsely chopped 2 large white onions, a pound of carrots (unpeeled, ends cut off), a head of celery (leaves left on), & peeled and smashed about 10 cloves of garlic. When I took the head his vacuum-packaging I gave him a quick rinse in the sink and shaved his scruff with a paring knife (fun). So now the head is simmering away in the pot with the veg, enough water to cover and a few dashes of Kosher salt. I don’t know if it was necessary but about halfway through the cook time (it will be about 6 hours in total), I flipped the head over, because I was concerned whether the snout was getting fully cooked (it was sticking out of the water a smidge).


Update:

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Here’s the fully-picked clean skull. Also, I learned that a dough hook can double as a meat hook in a pinch (because who has a meat hook laying around the house anyway?).

Currently, I have a container of chopped-up usable head-meat ready to go in my fridge. The broth has been put through a strainer & cheesecloth and is way more gelatinous than I had anticipated. Hoping to get everything assembled and working in loaf pans by the end of the day…

“There’s a pig’s head in my car…”

So today I ventured out to Paradise Locker Meats to pick up a pig’s head. The plan is to try to make some headcheese. You guys should know that this a whole new thing for me. I didn’t grow up with this kind of stuff, I am a suburban girl. Having said that, charcuterie was my favorite class in culinary school. I’ve made aspics & terrines, so hopefully I will be able to successfully pull this off.
For now, my new porcine friend is in the fridge, defrosting. Probably for a few days. Also, something a bit disturbing: he has a bit of a 5 o’clock shadow.