Here is what caught my eye this morning: Continue reading
I have been in the throws of of the holiday for a month now and I am currently grilling up an awesome Christmas menu for Bull BBQ. I just wanted to keep you posted of what I have been up to. I have had some great food styling gigs lately — a couple noteworthy are a national campaign for a Greek yogurt manufacturer and another one shooting out all the menu items for the online ordering menu for a major restaurant chain. Plus Biggest Loser is back in production and in December I will be the culinary producer for a new cooking show.
While all this is going on, I am developing recipes for Bull BBQ’s blog, Grilling and Outdoor Recipes. I just completed an insert recipe booklet that will be shipped with all Bull grills and have started Bull’s very first grilling cookbook which will be available toward the end of 2013 just in time for Christmas!
Sometime after the first of the year, my Food Crew website is getting a whole new look and this blog will be incorporated into it.
Please sign up to follow the posts by email or RSS feed on the Bull BBQ blog, GrillingOutdoorRecipes.com, to keep up with what I have been cooking up! I promise after the first of the year, my irregular postings will resume.
Here is what’s been cooking at Bull for Thanksgiving:
Rolled Turkey Breast with Pear and Sage Stuffing
Bourbon and Molasses Brined Grilled Whole Turkey
with Giblet Gravy
Turkey leftovers: Grilled Turkey and Asparagus Tartine with Apricot Curry Spread.
Here are a few turkey tips:
- Truss your turkey! No need for complicated French trussing. Just tuck the wings under the bird, use a couple toothpicks or a small skewer to close the skin over the opening to the cavity, and tie the legs together. Trussing keeps the wings and legs close to the body and helps to prevent the meat from drying out and to ensure that your turkey will cook evenly. Plus it makes for a better presentation!
- Remove the all of the meat in sections before carving, even if you are not serving it all. Leaving it sit on the bone, will keep it cooking (carryover heat) and it will begin to dry out. 1- using a sharp knife, remove the leg (thigh and drumstick) in one piece; 2- starting at the breast bone, cut along the bone and rib cage to remove the breast and wing in one piece; 3- cut through the leg joint and separate the thigh and drumstick, cut the wing away from the breast, then slice the breast across the grain of the meat. Repeat with the other side of the turkey.
- If you are brining your turkey, monitor the browning while it cooks. Brined turkeys brown faster.
- Grill set up: indirect cooking over medium-low heat (300° to 350°F). Place the pan so it is not directly over any heat. Close the grill cover and cook until the skin is nicely browned and the juices at the thigh run clear.
- Timing: about 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours (12 to 15 minutes per pound).
- To test for doneness, the temperature of the thigh, away from the bone, should be 170°F and the breast should be between 155° to 160°F. Remember – carryover cooking will continue to raise the temperature of the turkey another 5° to 10° after it comes off the grill.
A couple other links:
Photo: Heather Winters
Peace – j
I could never bring myself to get rid of Winston’s food and water bowls, but could never figure out what to do with them either. His bowls, along with another bowl from Buster (my bulldog that preceded Winston) were gathering dust on my balcony. So I decided to get some easy maintenace succulents and cacti and turn them into planters. A little gravel on the bottom for drainage, appropriate potting soil, plants and voila… constant remainders of my two best all-time buds!
One of the things I like to do when I have time is to explore ethnic and specialty markets (and hardware stores). I was on my way to do some test shots with the fabulous Heather Winters and stopped by Mitsuwa Marketplace, a Japanese market in Santa Monica. I am always inspired by the vast number ingredients that line the shelves and awed by the fact that I generally have no idea what most of it is! Even the shelf tags are of no help as they are usually a literal translation of the kanji printed on the labels. While checking out the meat and seafood, I found cooked sardines, prepared chicken glazed with soy and miso, and some cool stacked pork satay.
We were also playing around with some harsh lighting to go with the doughnut shot for a promotional collateral piece. Again, I love the starkness of this shot – it tells a definite story.
Peace – J
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Homer Simpson had it right! Doughnuts or donuts, whichever spelling you prefer, are one of my all time favorite indulgences. Maybe it’s growing up in southern California where doughnut shops pop up on every corner. Here are some fun shots the fabulous Heather Winters and I did a couple months back. When we originally decided to shoot doughnuts, it was going to be a cheeky promotion of ”your bad photography v.s. our fabulous work”. Well, Heather can’t seem to take a bad picture even when she tries to. I love this photo — It reminds me sitting in doughnut shop under the harsh light at the end of a long night of doing whatever! Peace – J If you have enjoyed these photos please hit the ‘Like’ button below and share with your friends!
I don’t know why I am always amazed when I go to the store to buy a good quality vanilla extract to find that an 8-ounce bottle costs from $18 (Madagascar) to $35 (Tahitian). Well, it turns out that vanilla is more expensive than any other flavoring or spice, the one exception being saffron. But why you ask? Vanilla is the fruit of a tropical vine that is part of the orchid family. When grown commercially, the flowers of the vine are hand-pollinated and thinned to ensure the quality of the bean. Once harvested it takes around eight months to cure and dry the beans before they can be packed for shipping.
There are primarily two varieties of commercially available vanilla beans – Madagascar or Mexican, and Tahitian. Yes my friends, Madagascar and Mexican are the same species… good to know for my SoCal peeps! It seems those crafty Spaniards snaked (read: stole) some vanilla cuttings on their way outta town and planted them on the island of Madagascar. For hundreds of years, Madagascar had the market cornered on vanilla export and today, along with Mexico, is the major producer of vanilla. Tahiti is the only other player of note in the vanilla game. Tahitian vanilla is a sweeter and more floral bean and by virtue of economics (umm… remember supply and demand), is almost twice the price. Whew, history and economics lessons accomplished!
One of the perks of working on cooking and cooking reality shows is leftover product and equipment. From a recent show, I inherited somewhere in the vicinity of 100+ vanilla beans. Jealous? Thought so. Well, after giving the majority away, I still had quite a few, so I decided to make vanilla extract.
Making vanilla extract is super easy, economical, and will make an excellent holiday gift! It does take a little planning as you need to wait a month or so before it is ready to use.
Homemade Vanilla Extract
6 long, soft vanilla beans
1 quart good quality vodka
Extra vanilla beans for presentation (optional)
Split the six beans lengthwise and then cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Add the vanilla pieces to a clean 1-quart canning jar and fill with vodka. Let steep in a cool, dark place for 30 to 45 days, shaking the jar every once in awhile. Strain through a cheesecloth lined wire mesh strainer. Return to a clean jar or smaller bottles and add a fresh vanilla bean for presentation.
Store tightly sealed. Vanilla extract will keep indefinitely (blessed by the USDA). There you have it, easy peasy.
I did a little experimenting with the recipe substituting Cuban rum and bourbon for the vodka. For straight on vanilla flavor, vodka is the best choice. The rum and bourbon variations are still very strong in vanilla flavor but, also have the underlying characteristics of smooth, sweet rich rum and smoky sweet bourbon respectively. Both the rum and bourbon vanillas I would gladly use in baking for more dimension of flavor, but also in cocktails. Hmm… vanilla scented Manhattan <<slurp>>!
Peace – J
Today I found out that Winston, my 12 year old English bulldog, has to have some pretty serious eye surgery. Bulldogs and anesthesia aren’t always the best of friends, but he is seeing the best eye vet in Los Angeles and I expect only the best outcome. Also, befitting a dog of his age living in Hollywood, he will have a little eye lift during the surgery! I have had Winston since he was 10 weeks when I was living in Dallas and he is a Texan – Loud and Proud – and my pride and joy. So to cheer him up… okay… so to cheer me up, I made him some special treats. And since it’s so close to Halloween, I used 1 1/2-inch pumpkin and ghost cutters!
Carrot-Almond Doggie Biscuits
6 cups organic whole wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 Tablespoons dried parsley
1/2 cup organic almond butter
3 carrots, finely chopped in a food processor
1 1/2 cups less sodium organic vegetable or chicken broth
1 egg, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Blend together the flour, wheat germ, nutritional yeast, and parsley in a large mixing bowl (preferably for a standing mixer). Add the remaining ingredients and mix using the dough hook attachment until blended. Keep kneading dough for another 3 to 5 minutes. (Note: if you do not have a standing mixer, blend ingredients together to form a stiff dough. Transfer to floured surface and knead for 5 minutes).
Divide dough into two balls. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4- to 1/2-inches thick depending on the size of you cutter and/or dog. If dough shrinks back too much while rolling, cover with a clean dish towel and let rest 10 minutes. Cut biscuits using a dog bone cutter or a cleaver seasonal cutter and transfer to an ungreased baking sheet. Biscuits can be placed pretty close together as they are not going to spread. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Turn biscuits and continue baking for another 15 minutes. Turn off oven and let cool completely inside the oven. Biscuits can be stored in an air-tight container for up to 1 month or in the freezer for 6 to 8 months.
(Adapted from a recipe floating around the internet)
Best of luck to the Best Boy!