Friday, September 30, 2016

Cali Protein Style Cheeseburger ... with Neon Relish!

     Protein Style!
     During the last 50 years, the lo-carb diet trend seems to have risen to the top of the charts at least once every decade.  Low carbohydrate intake often is publicized as the diet of the Hollywood stars and the secret to staying slim.  With this in mind, many people attempt to cut carbohydrates completely out of their diet.  
     A zero carb diet does pose serious health risks.  The zero carb dietary tactic is not effective for losing excess weight, because it takes energy to burn off fat.  Protein alone does not provide enough fuel.  Small portions of long acting high fiber carbohydrates in a daily diet plan will provide energy for performing physical exercise, which reduces body fat.  
     Most hamburger buns at restaurants are made with processed wheat flour, which contributes to empty calorie intake.  Modern gourmet burger stands usually offer burger buns made with whole grain flour, which is a better choice.  Either way, ordering a burger on a bun will contribute to the total daily carbohydrate intake.  If the carbohydrate intake limit for the day has been already been met, then eating a burger on a bun will provide excess energy, which will be turned into body fat.  This is when the California Protein Style option is a good choice!
     Lettuce wrapped burgers have been a popular item with dieters cooking at home for a long time, but only a few restaurants have offered this item.  This is because restaurants cater to people that want to indulge and offering dietary items is bad for business.  On the other hand, burger stand restaurants depend on high volume sales and they are happy to sell burgers anyway that a customer prefers.  
     One old fashioned burger stand chain in particular is famous for its Protein Style Burgers.  The In-N-Out burger stand chain has an interesting secret menu, which includes the lo-carb lettuce wrapped Protein Style Burgers.  The problem is that there are no In-N-Out burger stands east of the Mississippi.  
     Relatively few burger stand operators east of the Mississippi have heard of lettuce wrapped burgers.  Asking for a California Protein Style Burger at an east coast burger stand will lead to nothing more than blank stares, so what is a dieter to do?  The answer is to cook a Cali Protein Style Burger at home! 

     Cali Protein Style Cheeseburger ... with Neon Relish:
     This recipe yields 1 Protein Style Cheeseburger. 
     Protein burgers are usually cooked on a flat-top grill at restaurants, just like the original 1890's burger.  It is important to select leaf lettuce that is large enough to wrap around a burger patty.  
     Neon Relish has a unique flavor and its bright color looks good on a burger.  Chicago style Neon Relish is not always easy to find.  Vienna Brand Hot Dog Stands carry this product and Neon Relish can be found at internet shopping sites.   
     Step 1:  Heat a cast iron griddle to a medium temperature.
     Season the griddle by wiping it with a thin film of vegetable oil.
     Step 2:  Roll a 6 ounce portion of lean ground beef into a ball shape.
     Place the round burger portion on the griddle.
     Use a wide spatula to press the burger into a patty shape.
     Season the burger with sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 3:  Grill the burger till it is browned on one side and halfway cooked.
     Flip the burger.
     Step 4:  Place 2 slices of sharp cheddar cheese on top.
     Grill the burger till it is fully cooked and the cheese melts.
     Step 5:  Overlap 2 large leafs of Leaf Lettuce on a plate.
     Place the cheeseburger on the center of the lettuce.
     Tuck a third large leaf of Leaf Lettuce under the back half of the burger and bend it so it drapes upright.
     Step 6:  Garnish the plate with:
     - sliced onion 
     - sliced tomato
     - a pickle of your choice 
     Step 7:  Place about 1 1/2 tablespoons of Chicago style Neon Relish on the cheeseburger.    
     Voila!  Cali Protein Style!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Roast Pork Horseshoe Sandwich!

     The Famous Horseshoe Sandwich!
     The Horseshoe Sandwich is gourmet specialty that was created at a famous hotel in Springfield Illinois sometime back in the 1920's.  There is a bit of a debate as to who created the original Horseshoe Sandwich, but as the old story goes, a dishwasher at the old Leland Hotel gets the nod.
     In modern times, the Horseshoe Sandwich is now served at diners and sandwich shops all over the Southern Illinois region.  The Horseshoe is basically an open face sandwich topped with French Fries and cheese sauce.  A Horseshoe Sandwich can be made with any kind of meat.  Burger, beer batter fish, roast meat, sausage, deli meat, eggs and even vegetables can be used to make a Horseshoe Sandwich.

     Roast Pork:
     This recipe yields enough for 2 Horseshoe Sandwiches.
     The meat portion for a Horseshoe Sandwich should be a hearty 6 to 8 ounce portion.  Deli style roast pork loaf is okay, but fresh roasted pork is much better.
     Step 1:  Select a 12 to 14 ounce piece of pork shoulder roast.
     Season with sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 2:  Place the pork shoulder on a wire screen roasting rack on a roasting pan.
     Slow roast the pork shoulder in a 300ºF oven till it is fully cooked and tender.
     Keep the roasted pork warm on a stove top.

     Cheese Sauce:
     This recipe yields about 1 3/4 cups.  (2 portions)  
     The cheese sauce for the original Horseshoe Sandwich is claimed to be a secret recipe.  In modern times, "Secret Cheese Sauce" usually means the sauce is made with canned Cheese Whiz.  A better sauce than Whiz can be made from scratch.   
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour while constantly stirring.  (The roux should look shiny, not caky.)
     Constantly stir till the roux becomes a white color, with very little hazelnut aroma.
     Step 2:  Add 1 3/4 cups of milk while whisking.
     Add 1/4 cup of cream.
     Bring the sauce to a simmer.
     Stir occasionally as the sauce heats and thickens.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of Dijon Mustard.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Worcestershire Sauce.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground anatto.
     Add 1 pinch of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the sauce is a thin consistency that can coat a spoon.  (The volume should be about 1 1/2 cups.
     Step 4:  Add 1/4 cup of grated Romano Cheese.  
     Add 1/4 cup of grated White Cheddar Cheese.
     Stir till the cheese melts into the sauce.
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat or in a 135ºF bain marie.  Add a splash of milk if the sauce becomes too thick.

     French Fries:
     This recipe yields 2 portions.
     Step 1:  Heat 6" of vegetable frying oil in a high sided pot to 360ºF.
     Step 2:  Cut a 10 ounce russet potato into long 3/8" thick potato sticks.
     Step 3:  Place a few of the potato sticks in the hot oil at a time, till they are all in the pot.
     Fry the potatoes till they just start to become tender and so they are still white in color.
     Step 4:  Use a fryer net to place the fries on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan.
     Let the french fries cool to room temperature.
     Step 5:  Place the French Fries in the hot oil a second time.
     Fry till the potatoes are crispy golden brown.
     Step 6:  Use a fryer net to place the fries on the wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess oil.
     Season the fries with sea salt.
     Keep the French Fries warm on a stove top.

     Roast Pork Horseshoe Sandwich:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty sandwich.
     Step 1:  Brush 2 slices of sandwich bread with melted unsalted butter.
     Place the bread on a griddle set to medium/medium low heat.
     Grill till both sides are toasted golden brown.
     Place the 2 pieces of toast side by side on the center of a plate.
     Step 2:  Thin slice 6 to 8 ounces of the roasted pork shoulder.
     Mound the sliced pork shoulder on the toast.
     Step 3:  Mound 1 portion of French Fries on the roasted pork and toast.
     Step 4:  Pour a generous amount of the Cheese Sauce over the french fries and open face sandwich.  (About 3/4 cup)
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of Spanish Paprika over the cheese sauce.
     Garnish with Italian Parsley sprigs.

     A big hearty Horseshoe Sandwich!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Smoked Turkey Panini with Emmentaler, Roasted Scallions and Brinjal

     A Great Tasting Panini!
     Some people might say that there is nothing special about a panini sandwich that is made with smoked turkey and Swiss Cheese (Emmentaler).  In effect, this opinion is partially true, especially if the ingredients are mediocre to begin with.  Low quality processed Swiss Cheese and artificial smoke flavored pressed turkey breast will not yield a panini sandwich that is worth writing home about!
     The quality of the individual ingredients really counts when making a simple sandwich.  A simple sandwich usually only features a few select ingredients, so guests will easily notice the quality.  By selecting better quality ingredients, the overall quality of the simple sandwich will improve, which in turn will increase satisfaction.  
     Quality inspired satisfaction is all important from a dietary standpoint too.  One would be surprised to see how just a few high quality ingredients can satisfy a flavor craving far better than a larger portion of mediocre tasting low quality food.  Many dietary problems can be attributed to frustrations related to not satisfying flavor cravings.  For example, a panini sandwich made with imported Swiss Emmentaler Cheese and old fashioned hickory smoked turkey will taste rich enough to satisfy flavor cravings, so less is eaten.  At the same time, a panini made with cheap artificial cheese and deli style pressed turkey will not satisfy flavor cravings, so the cravings continue and more food is likely to be eaten.  
     The psychology of the effects of flavor is something that could be discussed all day.  One thing that can be agreed upon is that there is no shortage of flavor in today's panini sandwich recipe.  Nice quality hickory smoked turkey breast and imported Swiss Emmentaler is a good start.  Roasted Scallions add a rustic flavor.  Brinjal is what really kicks the flavor up a notch!
     Brinjal is an Indian chutney condiment that is often used as a bread spread.  Brinjal is a thick eggplant chutney that is highly seasoned with a complex mixture of exotic spices.  Jars of Brinjal are available at Indian food markets.  

     Smoked Turkey Panini with Emmentaler, Roasted Scallions and Brinjal:
     This recipe yields 1 panini snack sandwich.
     Chiabatta Bread is best for panini.  A firm loaf of French Bread or Italian Bread can be used to make panini too.
     Panini originated as an Italian bar snack.  Panini are traditionally cut into triangle shapes.  
     Step 1:  Place 2 to 3 scallions on a small roasting pan.
     Lightly brush the scallions with olive oil.
     Season with sea salt.
     Roast the scallions in a 300ºF oven, till they are tender and a few golden brown highlights appear.
     Step 2:  Place the roasted scallions on a cutting board.
     Coarsely chop the roasted scallions and set them aside.
     Step 3:  Lightly brush 2 slices of French bread with olive oil.  (Only brush one side of each slice.) 
     Place the oil side of the bread facing down on a cutting board.
     Step 4:  Spread a thin layer of Brinjal on 1 slice of bread.  (About 1 1/2 tablespoons)
     Place 3 1/2 ounces of thin sliced smoked turkey breast on the Brinjal.
     Place the chopped roasted scallions on the smoked turkey.
     Place a few thin slices of Swiss Emmentaler Cheese on the roasted scallions.
     Place the top slice of bread on the sandwich.
     Step 5:  Place the sandwich on a panini grill that is set to medium heat.
     Close the grill and allow the weight of the top half of the grill to press the sandwich.
     Grill till the sandwich is toasted golden brown.
     Step 6:  Cut the panini sandwich into 3 triangle shapes.
     Place the panini on a plate.
     Garnish with an Italian Parsley sprig and pickles of your choice.

     Viola!  A gourmet panini that tastes like no other!  

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Moonshine Cherry Sarsaparilla Float

     A Gourmet Ice Cream Float!   
     Antique sodas and hand crafted gourmet sodas currently a developing trend in the hospitality industry.  A departure from mainstream soft drinks has opened the door for hand crafted soda makers to gain a competitive edge.  Modern consumers prefer locally produced sodas because the flavors tend to be more creative.  Consumers also like old fashioned sodas because they are made with sugar syrup, which is slightly healthier than national bran sodas that are made with GMO corn syrup.    
     Environmentalists like small craft soda companies that offer deposit refunds for returned glass bottles.  This is what sustainability is all about.  This is how things used to be in the world of soft drinks and this is how it should be in this modern age.      
     Sarsaparilla is part of the history of the wild west.  Sarsaparilla is a serious beverage that unjustly gained a comical reputation in Hollywood western movies.  Originally, sarsaparilla appealed to travelers that were tired and parched from a long ride on horseback.  Sarsaparilla was a tonic made with sassafras, sugar and some medicinal roots like licorice or horehound.  Sarsaparilla quickly revitalized a person that was exposed to the elements for far too long.  Often after the energetic feeling returned, whiskey soon followed as the drink of choice.  In old western saloons, sarsaparilla and whiskey traditionally went hand in hand.     
     Technically, western sarsaparilla is a root beer.  Sarsaparilla fans will quickly contest that notion and say that it should not be classified as a root beer.  Personally, I say sarsaparilla and root beer are each their own thing, just like birch beer is in a world of its own in Pennsylvania Dutch Country.
     Western sarsaparilla should not be confused with Asian sarsaparilla.  They are two different sodas and the main flavors come from two different plants.  The old world version of sarsaparilla has pretty much become nothing more than corn syrup soda water with flavor additives.  It does not compare to traditional old west style sarsaparilla.    
     When I was a kid, there were several brands of sarsaparilla that were available.  Now there are only a couple of brands.  Sioux City Sarsaparilla is by far the most famous.  The Sioux City brand is managed by the White Rock Beverage Company.  
     The White Rock Beverage Company has been in the soft drink business, in one way or another, since the late 1800's, so this company knows what sarsaparilla is all about.  For more information about Sioux City Sarsaparilla can be found at the White Rock Beverage Company Website. 
     Today's Moonshine Cherry Sarsaparilla Float is a good example of a modern gourmet soda fountain offering.  Moonshine Cherry Ice Cream tastes great with a craft sarsaparilla!         

     Moonshine Cherry Ice Cream:
     The Moonshine Cherry Ice Cream for today's float recipe does contain alcohol, so this concoction is for adults.  Options for a denatured version are explained in the Moonshine Cherry Ice Cream recipe. 
     Follow the link to the recipe in this website.

     Cherry Firewater Ice Cream Sarsaparilla Float:
     This recipe yields 1 float.
     Garnishing the float is half of the fun!
     Step 1:  Select an old fashioned 16 to 20 oz soda glass.
     Chill the glass in a freezer.
     Step 2:  Place 2 scoops of the Cherry Moonshine Ice Cream in the soda glass.  (About 3 ounces per scoop)
     Step 3:  Slowly pour some chilled Sioux City Sarsaparilla over the ice cream, till the glass is full and a foamy head appears.
     Step 4:  Place a straw in the glass.
     Spear 2 Ole Smokey Moonshine Cherries with a fancy cocktail umbrella and place the umbrella in the straw. 
     Garnish with petite mint sprigs.  
     Step 5:  Serve the extra sarsaparilla on the side in its own bottle.
     Serve with a long handle sundae spoon.  

     Viola!  A gourmet float all the way!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Moonshine Cherry Ice Cream

     Adult Ice Cream Made With Ole Smokey Moonshine Cherries!  
     Because alcohol is not normally present in things like ice cream, a disclaimer is necessary.  Moonshine Cherry Ice Cream contains alcohol, so today's recipe is meant for adults!  Two scoops of Moonshine Cherry Ice Cream is equal to drinking 1 cocktail.    
     Not everybody consumes alcohol, so it is best to offer an alternative.  To make a denatured version of today's recipe, boil the Ole Smokey Moonshine Cherries when making the jelly, so the alcohol evaporates.  This will preserve the cherry moonshine flavor.  Another alternative is to substitute maraschino cherries and maraschino cherry juice. 

     The Ole Smokey company makes top quality Moonshine in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  The Ole Smokey Moonshine Cherries product brings maraschino cherries to a whole new level.  Each cherry is saturated with moonshine and it only takes eating a few of these cherries to feel the effect.  Moonshine Cherries are skillfully crafted and they do have a long shelf life when refrigerated.  
     For more information about Ole Smokey Moonshine products, follow this link:  
     • Ole Smokey Tennessee Moonshine   

     When I first saw a mason jar full of Ole Smokey Moonshine Cherries at the store, plenty of good cooking and cocktail ideas flashed before my eyes.  After about a month of pondering over moonshine cherry ideas, making an ice cream with this Gatlinburg specialty product seemed like the best path to follow.  It took a while to figure out a way to modify the basic French ice cream recipe, so the potent alcohol content would be preserved. 
     Sugar is a liquifying substance.  Sugar keeps cakes moist.  Sugar also keeps ice cream from turning into a solid block of ice when it is frozen.  It does not matter what kind of sugar, glucose or fructose nectar syrup is used, because all kinds of sugar act like antifreeze in an ice cream recipe.
     Alcohol also works like antifreeze in an ice cream recipe, because alcohol basically is a modified sugar.  When alcohol is part of an ice cream recipe, the amount of sugar can be slightly reduced, but this leads to another problem.  Ole Smokey Moonshine Cherries are not sweet.  They only taste like 100 proof corn liquor, so they have to be sweetened.
     The best way to make Moonshine Cherry Ice Cream and retain the alcohol potency is to add a portion of the Moonshine Cherries to the Crème Anglaise, then make a low temperature Moonshine Cherry Jelly that can be swirled into the churning ice cream before it finishes.  This way the Crème Anglaise will yield ice cream that is not too soft and the jelly swirl will add plenty of Moonshine Cherry flavor and of course, alcohol.       
     A stable jelly medium for the moonshine can be made with sugar, water, fruit pectin, a few drops of lemon juice and organic red food color.  The temperature of the jelly has to be very low, when the Moonshine Cherries are added or the alcohol will denature.                  
     All ice cream machines have their own maximum capacity.  I use a Breville 600 Smart Scoop machine, which has a max capacity of 1 1/2 quarts of finished ice cream.  
     A common mistake that home cooks make is to use the max capacity as the guideline for how much liquid ice cream mixture can be added to the churning drum.  Aeration causes the liquid volume to expand and increase in size as the ice cream mixture churns and freezes.  
     For a Breville 600 machine, 3 1/2 cups of liquid ice cream mixture will increase in size as it is churned and it will expand to nearly 1 1/2 quarts (about 6 cups).  It is important to not exceed the 3 1/2 cup starting limit or there will be an out of control big mess to clean up!  

     Cherry Moonshine Crème Anglaise:   
     This recipe yields about 3 cups of flavored Crème Anglaise.    
     • 3 cups of Crème Anglaise plus 1/2 cup of Jellied Moonshine Cherries is enough to make 1 full batch of ice cream in a 3 1/2 cup max liquid capacity machine. 
     Crème Anglaise is used to create a classic French style ice cream texture.  Crème Anglaise is not difficult to make.  
     It is best to make the Crème Anglaise the day before making ice cream.  The Crème Anglaise must be chilled for 4 hours before it can be placed in an ice cream machine.  Creme Anglaise can be kept in a refrigerator for 7 days.  
     Step 1:  Place 4 egg yolks (AA Grade Large Eggs) in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 cup of cream.  
     Whisk the ingredients till blended.
     Set the mixture aside.
     Step 2:  Place 1 cup of cream in a sauce pot.
     Add 1/3 cup of whole milk.
     Add 2 tablespoons of the Cherry Moonshine from a jar of Ole Smokey Moonshine Cherries.
     Add 1/3 cup of granulated sugar.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.  
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Step 3:  Add 1 small pinch of nutmeg. 
     Add 1 small pinch of allspice.
     Add 1 small pinch of cinnamon.
     Add 1 pinch ginger powder.
     Step 4:  Add enough red food color to give the sauce a rose pink tint.  (About 5 to 6 drops)
     Step 5:  Place the sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle simmer.  Stir occasionally.  The cream should be about 145ºF to 155ºF.
     Step 6:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Slowly pour the hot cream mixture into the cold egg yolk/cream mixture, while constantly stirring with a whisk.
     Step 7:  Return the entire crème anglaise mixture to the sauce pot.
     Place the sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Constantly slowly stir the crème anglaise with a whisk, as it heats and thickens to a thin sauce consistency that can evenly coat a spoon.
     *Do not allow the crème anglaise to exceed 140ºF or the sauce will break!   
     Step 8:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Pour the finished Cherry Moonshine Crème Anglaise into a container and chill for at least 4 hours before using it to make ice cream.   

     Jellied Moonshine Cherries: 
     This recipe yields 1/2 cup.  
     The object is to not denature the alcohol!
     Step 1:  Heat a stainless steel sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 1 cup of water.
     Add 1/3 cup of sugar.
     Add 5 drops of organic red food color.
     Bring the liquid to a simmer, so the sugar dissolves.  (Simple syrup)
     Step 2:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add about 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of dried powdered fruit pectin.  (Every brand of fruit pectin has its own strength, so read the directions and do the math!)
     Simmer and reduce, till the sauce becomes a medium thick consistency.  (The volume should be about 1/3 cup.)
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.  
     Add 1/4 cup of cherry moonshine from the jar of Ole Smokey Moonshine Cherries.
     Add 1/4 cup of small chopped moonshine cherries.
     Very gently simmer and reduce, till the volume is 1/2 cup.    
     Step 4:  Place the Jellied Moonshine Cherries in a container.
     Chill the Jellied Moonshine Cherries in a refrigerator to 41ºF.
     Cherry Moonshine Ice Cream: 
     This recipe is written for a 6 cup max capacity ice cream machine! 
     • 3 cups of the Cherry Moonshine Crème Anglaise + 1/2 cup of the Jellied Moonshine Cherries will yield about 5 1/2 cups of ice cream.  This is because jelly does not aerate! 
     Step 1:  Set the ice cream machine to a medium hard ice cream setting.
     Pre-cool the ice cream machine.  
     Step 2:  Place 3 cups of the Cherry Moonshine Crème Anglaise in the churning drum.
     Place the drum in the ice cream machine.
     Assemble the machine pieces.
     Churn till the ice cream is a soft ice cream texture. 
     Step 4:  Pause the ice cream machine.
     Add 1/4 cup of the Jellied Moonshine Cherries.   
     Restart the machine.  
     Continue to churn, till the ice cream is almost ready and it is a medium hardness.
     Step 5:  Pause the machine.
     Poke a hole all the way to the bottom of the ice cream drum with the handle of a wooden spoon.
     Pour the remaining 1/4 cup of Jellied Moonshine Cherries into the hole.  
     Turn the machine on briefly and churn for for only 1 or 2 rotations, to create a swirl effect.
     Turn off the machine.
     Step 6:  Remove the ice cream drum.
     Pack the ice cream into a container and place it in the freezer.
     Freeze for 4 to 5 hours, till the ice cream is a firm medium hard consistency.   

     Viola!  Moonshine Cherry Ice Cream that packs a kick!