Monthly Archives: February 2012

Street Tacos Part 2 – Tortillas!

You’re going to need a vehicle to get all of that barbacoa beef and topping yum into your street taco loving mouth….let’s make tortillas!  If you know us, you know that we often quote or reference Mark Bittman (we lovingly refer to him as “Bittman”).  Hang out at our house while we’re cooking or ask us about cooking and you’ll most likely hear the likes of ‘Bittman said to do this’, ‘Bittman uses this’, ‘Oh, Bittman has an excellent recipe for that’.  Well, our tortilla recipe is adapted from Bittman’s Wheat Flour Tortillas recipe from his cookbook How to Cook Everything.  I’m posting with the changes we’ve made and as a double batch, which will yield 12-15 tortillas.

Wheat Flour Tortillas

 3 Cups All-Purpose Flour (can substitute whole wheat flour for half or more of recipe, but you will need to increase butter and/or water)

1 tsp Salt

6 Tbsp Butter cut into pieces

1 – 1 1/2 Cups Warm Water, plus more as needed

Combine the flour and salt in food processor.

Pulse in the butter until it reaches a coarse corn meal-ish consistency.  Add water slowly while the machine is running and just until the dough forms a ball.

At this point you can wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it sit at room temp for a few hours (develops a little more flavor), wrap and refrigerate, or start making tortillas.  This time around, we jumped right into tortilla making.

Heat a cast iron skillet (or other large skillet) over medium heat.  Divide dough into 12 pieces (or more/less depending on the size of tortilla you want).

Lightly flour your working surface.  Press pieces of dough into a disk, and roll out as thin as possible.

Throw it on the cast iron and cook on first side until brown spots appear, then flip and do the same on the other side.

We’ve made this recipe several times using differing amounts of butter/water/whole wheat flour/white flour.  This was the best batch we’ve made (great flavor and remained pliable).

A couple of tips:

– Resist the urge to spin the tortilla while you’re cooking it.  The excess flour remaining on the tortilla from rolling will start to brown/blacken, and if you spin you’ll end up with a bunch of dark brown flour specks.

– Don’t be afraid to use medium (or a bit higher) heat.  The sooner the brown spots appear, the quicker you can remove the tortilla off the skillet, and then the more pliable/flexible your tortillas will remain.  Just make sure you’re working quickly.  We’ve had a few batches that have been quite crisp, and difficult to roll.

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Grainy Mustard, It’s French Wasabi

We were making some “pigs in blankets” with brats wrapped in biscuit dough.  Yum!  Mustard was definitely in order and I was itching to break in the new mortar and pestle, so I decided to make my own.  This will make about 1/2 a cup.

Grainy Mustard

1/2 Cup Mustard Seeds ( I used a combination of brown and yellow, a bit heavier on the brown)

White Wine Vinegar

1/2 tsp Salt

1/8 Cup Yellow Mustard Seed Powder

1/8 Cup Water

Some Beer (I used a Pale Ale that I made, but you could use white wine or water)

I put the mustard seeds in the mortar and pestled them until they were all ground up.  A little crunchy quality is what we are aiming for…meaning not ground to a powder.

I put the seeds into a bowl and began to stir in the vinegar a little at a time until it formed a thick paste.  In another bowl, make a second paste by combining the mustard powder, salt, and water.  You may not need all of the water.

Mix the two pastes together adding some beer, a tablespoon at a time, to create a smoother, slightly thinner paste (or to your liking).  Let the flavors marinate in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.  Now it is done!  It should keep nicely for several weeks in the frigo.  Be prepared, this is some potent stuff, but ever so good on brats.  Next time, I will try subbing out some of the vinegar with beer.  Just a tablespoon or two.


Red Wine Risotto

I decided to break from my more traditional risotto and do something a bit different.  This is a great side dish for cold winter days or when you find yourself wanting a purple starch component.  It’s rich, warming and really not that difficult.  It just needs a little attention.  I roasted up some lamb with oregano to go with it.  An arugula salad with lemon vinaigrette would be a great way to round it out.

Here is what you need

Ingredients

4 T Butter

1 Onion, minced

4 Cloves Garlic, minced

1 1/2 Cup Arborio Rice

1 Cup Red Wine (I like a young Chianti here)

5 Cups of Chicken, Vegetable, or Beef Broth

1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese, shredded plus more for garnish

Flat leaf Parsley

First I got a smallish pot heating over medium and added in all of the broth.  We want the broth to be nice and hot when we start adding it to the rice.

Next I started heating a saute pan with medium heat.  A minute or two later I added 2 T of butter.  When it had melted and seemed hot, I tossed in the onions and sprinkled them with some salt and pepper.

These softened for 5-10 minutes and then in went the garlic.  A minute elapsed and the rice joined the party.  I stirred the rice around to get it nicely coated in oil.

Then I added the red wine, a half a cup at first.  This bubbled away and reduced for a little bit.  Then I added the other half cup.

When almost all of the liquid had been absorbed, I started portioning in the broth.  About 1/2 cup at a time, after each increment is absorbed add the next.  This, ideally, should be stirred pretty much constantly, so that the rice can evenly soak up the liquid and not get too stuck to the pan.

When there was a cup or so of broth left in the pot, I started tasting the rice for done-ness.  We’re looking for tender, creamy rice with a very  slight crunch in the center.  Think al dente.

The parmesan cheese and another 2 T of Butter go in next.  The little archer stirred this around too.

Once it is all melted in, adjust seasoning with some salt and pepper and it is ready to serve.  Garnish with some shredded Parmesan and freshly chopped parsley.

Next time, I am going to try increasing the fruity acidity flavors by substituting a couple or three cups of stock with more wine.  That should allow the wine to take more center stage.  Until then…


Flaming Orange Peels!

Flaming an orange peel, woohoo!  This makes for a rather showy garnish for your cocktails, but it also, adds some unique flavor elements.  I first encountered this when I ordered a Bartender’s Choice drink at Cook and Brown Public House in Providence, RI.  It was great (so was the food)!  Honestly, I cannot really remember what the drink was.  It was the last one of the night…  A variation of something or other, but I do remember the table side flaming of an orange peel.

The objective here is to spray the citrus oils and sugars through the flame and over the drink.  The flamed oils create an immediately intense aroma.  The sugars caramelize as they pass through the flame adding more complex flavors and a whisper of caramel sweetness.

Here’s how to do it:

Take an orange and using a pairing knife or vegetable peeler slice off a little strip about 1 1/2 inches in width and 2 1/2 or so inches in length trying to remove as little of the white pith as possible, having some is okay.  As with most citrus garnishes, make the drink first and trim the peel over the drink.  All of that micro misting of aromatic goodness will land on the drink.  This adds a wonderful level of freshness.

A successful peel is going to be firm (not hard) with some tension to it.  If the peel is to small you’ll potentially burn your fingertips.  If it is too flimsy, you are not going to be able to convince those juices to really explode from the peel.

Next step is to light a match.  I do not recommend lighters for this.  They will work in a pinch, I suppose…  However, they can contribute lighter fluid smells and flavors to your drink.

Holding the peel between your thumb and forefinger, lightly brush the flame over it a couple of times.  You’ll need to work somewhat quickly depending on your match.  Try not to burn your finger tips.  You could end up dropping the match in the drink, screaming and knocking over the glass, etc.  It will ruin the experience.  I would recommend flaming only one peel per match…

Then, holding the match about an inch or two away from the peel and over the glass, squeeze the sides of the orange peel together spraying citrus oils through the flame.  Little sparks of flavor and aroma will rain down onto the drink.

The photo doesn’t do this justice.  It happens really quick, but it is pretty cool.

If you get the match too close to the orange peel and it looks like this… (Notice the darker strip there.)

Over toasted Peel

Discard the peel and try it again.  Otherwise you are going to be adding burnt and ashy flavors.  Not really what were going for.  Light smokey, maybe.  Burnt, not so much.  I think this may have been a contributing factor in the first attempt at The Revolver.  The coffee liqueur was no doubt ashy as well, but some of the harshness in that first drink was probably from a toasty peel.  The subsequent Revolvers were decidedly less ashy.

After the fireworks, I like to rub the peel around the rim of the glass and slide it into the drink.

There you have it, a flamed orange peel.  Give it a shot!

Negroni garnished with Flamed Orange Peel


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