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Recipe: Curried Pumpkin Stew

Delicious.

Inspired by a menu board I passed in a local lunch dive last month and the abundance of warm autumn weather, I decided to concoct something involving pumpkins this past weekend. I included my current obsession with curry and really hit one out of the park

I won't beat around the bush - this dish is phenomenal. Sweet, aromatic, full bodied, warm and filling with just enough spice to wake up the taste buds for more. This is everything I love in a hearty bowl on a cool evening. I hope you'll find it to be just as wonderful. The software:
  • 16 oz pumpkin puree - unsweetened / additive free if you can find it or make it yourself
  • 32 oz unsalted chicken stock (substitute vegetable stock for vegetarian types)
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 medium potatoes, 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 2 parsnips, thinly sliced
  • 1 sweet onion, finely minced
  • 1 pint of half & half (or heavy cream if you're going for the gold)
  • 2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tbl sweet curry powder
  • 1 tsp Aleppo pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbl butter
  • 1/2 lemon
  • Sate seasoning to taste
For all the dry goods, I use and recommend Penzey's. From my experience, their dried herb and spice products are extremely potent and my recipes are calibrated accordingly. [1] The process: Give yourself about 90 minutes from start to serve to make this one happen. Of course, having a little more time doesn't hurt either, as time is the most important ingredient in any recipe. Pour the pumkin puree, chicken or vegetable stock, soy and honey into your favorite suitably sized soup pot and fire it up on medium heat, stirring to combine. Take a knife to the potatoes, carrots, parsnips and onions and stir it all into the pot. Cook for 30 minutes or so until the vegetables reach your desired tenderness. Add in the curry, aleppo pepper, black pepper, turmeric and garlic, stirring to combine and turn the heat down to a simmer. Temper the cream or half & half into the stew, continuing to stir until everything is a consistent color. Add more turmeric if you want to brighten the orange color more and stir in the butter to give everything a great shine. Leave the pot on simmer for another 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, stir in juice from half a fresh lemon. let sit for 5 minutes and then serve. Goes great with a hunk of warm sourdough baguette. The bolder amongst you can add Sate and additional curry to suit their tastes. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as my friends and I have. Please do leave your experiences and suggestions in the comments. -///
[1] If your spice collection came from the sun-drenched end cap of your grandmother's grocery store, you may need to double or triple the amount of dry goods to get close in flavor. Better yet, throw the pencil shavings out and replace 'em with Penzey's. And no, they don't pay me.
A consummate nerd, yet still plays well with others.

The Curried Bacon Experiment

A bacon-centric discussion on Facebook with old friend, fellow foodie and Master of Bacon, Mr. Bob Herz, led my culinary curiosity down the path of uses for curries outside the accepted North American pseudo-Indian norm. Sugar Coma's Sara Nicholas had successfully integrated curry and dark chocolate for one of her truffle recipes, could the melding of curry and bacon be as tasty? It's a big gamble to take on an entire run of bacon, which is where this little experiment comes in. Thursday evening I thawed some un-smoked bacon I had on hand, laid out six strips and rubbed Penzey's sweet curry on both sides, pressed them flat in to sheets of cling wrap and set them in the fridge. Sunday afternoon I pulled the bacon from the chill and cool smoked three strips with pecan and three with hickory, then fried each of the test subjects up and placed them on paper towels as usual to drip and cool. The results: In both the Pecan and the Hickory smoked samples, the flavors of the curry were completely lost. This is probably due to the permeable fat which was holding the most curry flavor melting off in the fry pan. The experiment is not without merit, however, as the pecan smoked bacon was absolutely incredible. I had never used Pecan wood before this, so it was new territory for me. The soft pecan flavoring on the bacon had an almost buttery, sweet quality and it really compliments the pork well.
in the pan

in the pan

Back to the drawing board with the curry end of things, but I'm excited to charge ahead with a big batch of pecan smoked bacon to share in the near future. -///
A consummate nerd, yet still plays well with others.

Planning a dinner party

Chef Macross of the Rogue Estate
My coworker and friend Patrick and I have been planning a dinner party for our friends, both as an excuse to really cook together as well as have one last big outdoor hurrah on the smokers and grills before summer ends.
We're both beyond excited about the menu we've come up with and wish to share - to tantalize the taste buds of our friends as well as a matter of foreshadowing for this blog - the upcoming content of which will reflect the recipes and experiences of this weekend's party. I proudly present our working menu for IPM Radio's Summer Sizzle 2009: The starters:
  • Roasted Tomato Gazpacho (tomatoes sourced from my gardens)
  • Cucumber & Dill salad
  • Roasted & smoked garlic spread on toasted baguettes
  • Salsa by Big Steve
The sides:
  • Vidalia Onion & Apple salad
  • Roasted asparagus w/ Thai spiced Hollandaise Sauce
  • Sweet corn on the cob
  • Real Slaw by Big Steve
From the smokers:
  • BBQ Pork Ribs
  • Pulled Pork Sandwiches w / 6 custom BBQ sauces*
  • Venison Roast
Extras if we have time:
  • RE Bacon Explosion
  • slow roasted Leg of Lamb
  • vegetable kebab
Sweet finishes:
  • Fire roasted peaches w/ honey-whipped cream topping
  • Sugar Coma custom cupcakes by Sara Nicholas
We're expecting more sweets and sides as our friends continue to chime in with their own contributions, of course... but this is the main body of the menu we'll be working from this weekend. It's going to be incredible and We'll have photos, process, recipes and lessons learned to share with you in the coming weeks. (And of course the aforementioned formal introduction to Patrick, the newest resident of the Rogue Estate.) Eat well, -Mac
A consummate nerd, yet still plays well with others.

The Great Taste of the Midwest beer festival 2009

Continuing on the wonderful parallel journey of culinary and craft brew discovery with my dear friends from the B.Nektar Meadery, I had the distinct honor of not only attending this year's Great Taste of the Midwest beer festival, but working the B.Nektar table serving thousands of glasses of Mead - many to first time Mead drinkers. The day started with biblical thunderstorms which broke just before public opening into a hot and sunny and glorious day of thousands of eager and thirsty beer and wine aficionados from all over the Midwest United States in attendance for what has certainly become my favorite day of drink and debauchery. I sampled many fine craft beers from a huge variety of brewers and met so many smiling people - it's such a wonderful feeling. A real afterglow of a hard yet fun day's work as I sit out in the darkened HIlton courtyard tapping away on my laptop with my final glass of Mead for the evening. An honor to meet so many wonderful people from near and far and a pleasure to serve you. I look forward to next year's event - and I cannot recommend it enough for anyone who enjoys sampling new and delightful beers and other exotic beverages. For those in and traveling to Detroit, a little taste of the experience can be had every 1st and 3rd friday evening at B.Nektar in Ferndale, just outside of Detroit. I hope to see you there some time. To your health! Live well! -Mac
A consummate nerd, yet still plays well with others.

Mead Day – Saturday, August 1st 2009

Life is too short for bad food - not to mention bad wine! Which is why I'd like you to join me and my buddies Brad, Paul & Kerry at their place of business - The B. Nektar Meadery, located in Ferndale, MI for their first anniversary and annual MEAD DAY festivities. This is a wine tasting with attitude - all of B. Nektars fantastic Meads will be available for sample and for sale, and to keep your tummy happy, The Rogue Estate is preparing 60lbs of pork BBQ and 6 custom BBQ sauces as well as burgers, dogs and veggie burgers. Sides and snacks will also be available. The weather is forecast to be absolutely perfect and if this event is anything like last year's, the joint will be jumping from start til finish. The official program starts at 10:00 AM and rocks steady til 5:00PM with Mead tastings, tours, workshops and a DJ playing good tunes. BBQ will be served starting at 11AM and continuing until the food & fire run out. B.Nektar Meadery is located at 1505 Jarvis, Suite B in Ferndale, MI. Visit the B.Nektar site for more info.
A consummate nerd, yet still plays well with others.