Monday, February 20, 2012

Homemade Pastrami

Needing to break out the trusty barbecue pit, I recently decided to play around with something old and something new.  The new conquest I set my sights on was my very first attempt at making homemade pastrami.  I've smoked a brisket multiple times before, but never quite pastrami style.  The old adventure was a fresh take on grilled quail.  I used to grill quail fairly often back when I used to hunt with my father in South Texas.  They've long been one of my absolute favorite eating birds, but I haven't had the pleasure of cooking them recently at all.  When I found out that they carried them at Calandro's Supermarket, I knew I needed to reinvigorate my passion for this petite poultry.

Bite and Booze Homemade Pastrami
The pastrami actually began about five days before I cooked it.  I took a brisket, separated it into the flat and the point sections (to read more about the anatomy of a brisket, check out this article from Amazing Ribs).  This allowed me to work with two smaller pieces of beef and to trim as much fat as possible.  For the brine, I used about a gallon of water with some salt, sugar, black pepper, bay leaves, and gin.  I used gin because it is distilled from juniper berries, which are a common ingredient for pastrami and part of the rub I put on the outside.  After I brined the brisket for five days (wish I could have had seven!), I removed them from the liquid, patted them dry, and rubbed them with a blend of butcher's cut black pepper, crushed juniper berries, and crushed coriander seeds which I got from the Red Stick Spice Company.  I then smoked the briskets for about 8 hours at 225 degrees over charcoal and apple chips.  The result was a marvelously juicy and very flavorful homemade pastrami!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

George Krause's Moscow Mule

Rumor has it that George Krause, bartender extraordinaire at Doe's Eat Place and current student at the Louisiana Culinary Institute, moves a fair amount of Russian Standard Vodka through the friendly confines of Crowntown at Doe's.  He serves so much Russian Standard, in fact, that he recently received a gesture from the vodka manufactures as a "thank you" for keeping the sales up.  Bestowed upon George was a set of four copper lined Moscow Mule mugs embossed with the Russian Standard logo.  Not being one to let a new set of bar ware to go to waste, I politely asked George to whip me up a Moscow Mule.  Naturally, he obliged.

The Moscow Mule is a fairly simple cocktail.  It consists of vodka, lime juice, and preferably ginger beer.  If you're not sitting on a stash of ginger beer, regular over the counter ginger ale will do.  It certainly worked for George on this cocktail!  Want to try a Moscow Mule for yourself?  Head over to Doe's Eat Place on Government St. in Baton Rouge, sit at the bar with George, tell him Jay from Bite and Booze sent you, and order up a Moscow Mule!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Peanut Butter, Oatmeal, and Olive Oil Cookies with Whole Wheat Flour

I haven't had much time to experiment with baking lately, and since I'm in the middle of filming a documentary about trying to make healthier lifestyle choices despite my occupation as a south Louisiana food writer and radio host, I couldn't think of what to make for dessert in the Bob's Red Mill/California Olive Ranch promotion for Virtual Potluck.  Fortunately Donna Currie from Cookistry came to my rescue.  As a fellow Virtual Potluck blogger, she graciously offered to make me a batch of virtual (not fair, put some in the mail!!) peanut butter cookies using the Hard White Whole Wheat Flour from Bob's Red Mill and some fine olive oil from the California Olive Ranch.

You really should check out Donna's blog when you get a chance.  She cooks up some fantastic food and shares the recipes with her readers.  Make sure to also follow her on Twitter and Facebook!!  Here's the recipe for Donna's cookies.  They look absolutely amazing.  Thanks Donna!

Peanut Butter, Oatmeal, and Olive Oil Cookies
Recipe by Donna Currie at Cookistry

1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Everyday Fresh olive oil
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the sugars, oil, and peanut butter together. Add the egg and beat well.

In a separate bowl, combine the salt, baking powder, pastry flour, and oats. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet until well combined.

Using a small scoop or spoon, form small balls from the dough. Place them on the baking sheets and flatten them with the palm of your hand or the bottom of a glass to about 1/2 inch thick.

Bake until the cookies are just beginning to brown, about 14 minutes.

Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool completely on a rack.

Donna  Currie from Cookistry's Peanut Butter, Oatmeal, and Olive Oil Cookies

Want some Bob's Red Mill grains and olive oil from the California Olive Ranch?  Read blow for the details about how you could win some!
  • Visit either Bob's Red Mill or California Olive Ranch's Facebook pages and retrieve this week's Virtual Potluck code word. Then use that code word in a sentence, when commenting on this blog post. 
Additional Entries:
  • For an extra entry: Follow BRM, COR and VirtualPotluck's Twitter profiles and tweet about the contest linking to this blog post and using the #virtualpotluck hashtag. Then comment again, letting me know you've done so, by providing the link to your tweet.
  • More Blogs, More Ways to Win: Get additional entries in each week's giveaways by visiting our host blog and finding other participating VP bloggers sites to comment on.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Food Louisiana Episode 2

The second episode of Nils Breckoff's Food Louisiana show is out, and once again I've made an appearance!  Nils included a segment about the Louisiana Lifestyle Documentary Series that I'm making with Tommy Talley of TommysTV (Coming soon... title: "I'm Not Trying to be an Underwear Model!"  There's also a note about the upcoming Bite and Booze Cookbook that will be published in the Fall of 2013 by the LSU Press.  Take a look and let me know what you think!

Also on Episode 2 of Food Louisiana, Nils takes a look at the newest hit to the Baton Rouge food truck scene, Ignatius Reilly's. Chef/Owner Marcus Day tells us the history of the Airstream Trailer and his take on gourmet street food. I'll vouch for it... his stuff is awesome!

Nils also cooks a roasted chicken with red potatoes and butternut squash on the episode.  Look for it on Cox Channel 4 all over Louisiana!  Episode 3 will take us to Lafayette for a chat with food writer Anna Purdy and a look at Chef Manny Augello's Jolie's Bistro.  I'm excited!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Poached Halibut Over Pensacola Porter Risotto

I'm never really one to turn down free beer or good food, so when a box of beer from the Lewis Bear distributors in Florida arrived at my doorstep for a little Virtual Potluck, I figured the proper Bite and Booze thing to do was cook with some, and drink the rest!  My assignment was to cook with the Pensacola Brewery's porter, so my brain started to spin about what I could make with it, and what I had available in my fridge!

The results: some Alaskan Halibut that we caught on a fishing trip out of Homer, AK, and some arborio risotto rice that looked like it could pack plenty of flavor!  I got started right away.

I decided that I would poach the halibut in the oven in a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice.  I also sprinkled each side of the fish with salt and pepper.  I preheated the oven to around 325 degrees and then switched my attention to the risotto.  When the timing felt right I stuck the halibut in the oven for about 12 to 15 minutes until the fleshy began to flake apart while still holding moist and firm in the middle.

The key to any risotto is the stock used to create it.  Risotto is an Italian rice dish whereby the liquid is slowly added to the rice and allowed to absorb instead of the simple boil and simmer method commonly employed elsewhere.  The flavor of that liquid, or stock, is what builds character in the dish itself.  For this risotto I used some homemade turkey stock and added some fresh carrot, onion, celery, kosher salt, black pepper, a few sprigs of parsley from my Harb's Oasis herb garden, and about half a cup of the Pensacola Brewery Porter.  

As soon as the stock seemed ready to roll, I toasted off my rice just a tad in a hot pan and began ladling the stock over a scoop at a time, stirring between ladles until the moisture had been taken in by the sponge-like grains.  I continue this process until the rice had the appropriate texture.  I followed that up with pureeing the carrots and a bit of the onion and celery that I skimmed from the stock pot then adding that back to the risotto to give it a lovely orange color and an even deeper flavor.

Poached Halibut Over Pensacola Porter Risotto
To serve the dish I plated the risotto on the bottom and topped it with some freshly grated Parmesan, followed by a halibut filet and a few parsley leaves.  And I also had the rest of the beer!

Want to win something?  The Lewis Bear Company will be shipping out to the winner some beer-inspired t-shirts, hat, and other cool swag. Entry is limited to residents of the US, 18 or older. Contest ends at noon, Eastern time, on Sunday, February 5. 

To enter, comment on this post and tell me what's your favorite craft beer or favorite way to use beer in your kitchen.  For more chances, make sure to tell me if you:
Go to our party host site, 30AEATS and leave a comment there. 
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