Journal

2014 - Week 35 Cooking Results

CBATs

They turned out well.  running low on bacon.  I've only got bacon ends left.

Banh Mi Inspired Breakfast Sandwich (modified, simplified)

Used the Canadian Bacon, added some tomato slices.  Didn't use Miso (didn't want to buy it).  I think it had quite a nice flavor.  The mildly pickled shredded veggies, sriracha mayo and a nice runny egg.  Good stuffs.

Lamb Burgers with Tzatziki and Arugula

So I didn't make the Tzatziki exactly right (not enough draining), but it was still pretty good.  Basically it's like many other Lamb burgers we've had, except for adding Tzatziki on it.

Pizza

Shannon wanted some pizza.  She wanted me to use some of the La Quercia Borsellino Sausage.  So I thought hey, I could roast some tomatoes.  So I bought a couple of pounds of tomatoes from Butcher Crick Farms, roasted them with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper.  Then pureed them and moved forward with my normal pizza sauce recipe.  Now the only issue here is that I didn't have quite a pound and a half of tomatoes, which was probably fine.  But I added a whole fresh tomato anyways.  So I'm not sure if the slightly sweet and bright flavor was from the fresh tomato or if it was the freshly roasted tomatoes (or a combination of both).  Either way it added a nice combined flavored.

Anyways, I'm totally going to have to do this again, what sucks is I'm not sure how many more times I'll get to do this before tomato season is over.

Mac & Multi-Cheese

So I was planning on using some combined cheese leftover from a Cheese & Boulevard Beer class.  Cause you know...cheese.  Anyways, I brought it home and it didn't sound like Shannon wanted it and that's where the plan formed.  But apparently she did eat them (which is perfectly fine) but then I was left struggling to find cheese to use.

But I'm still me.

So where to find 1.5 pounds of cheese.  I had some leftover blue, Gorgonzola Dolce, couple of half used containers of chevre, I bought some extra cheeses at the Cheese clase, and when all was said and done, I cut some mozzarella out to make that last couple of ounces.  I did that to avoid using Robiola.

Made the sauce, added tomatoes (had a couple left).  Clearly I probably shouldn't have doubled the recipe, but who doesn't like leftover mac & cheese.  All being said, it was a good meal.  Sauce tasted good everything came together well.

2014 - Week 34 Cooking Results

Gorgonzola pasta, with onions, peppers and tomatoes (per suggestion of the Cheese Shop)

The Cheese Shop got in some beautiful Gorgonzola, and were selling it by the scoopful.  I got a couple of scoops.  With the idea that I would make it into a pasta sauce.  I may or may not have gotten carried away with this.  So I started off with some onions, peppers and some sausage.  Then added the rest of the tomatoes that I had (From Butcher Crick), then near the end added one of the two scoops of Gorgonzola.

Since this Gorgonzola wasn't very strong, it added a savory creamy flavor to it, but it wasn't like biting into a block of blue cheese.  And because combining red with white...and a bit of blue, that well, makes an oddly orange sauce.  That being said, it was a good dinner, as shown by the fact I ate it later that night (snack) and Shannon finished it off the next day.

BATs!

om, nom nom.  I'm getting dangerously low on bacon.  Luckily Ethan has taken some of his hogs up for slaughter and processing.  This means more jowl bacon, more regular bacon, and hey, even Canadian bacon.  I think I have some bacon ends in the freezer, but I took the Canadian bacon out for thawing.

Lamb Burgers

Lamby Lamby lamb.

Chorizo tacos with radishes

Look, I'm not a huge radish fan, but in some applications, their taste (pickled an otherwise) are a great addition to things.  This includes tacos.  I love me some radishes on tacos.

Ham steak with potatoes with a tomato and feta salad

So a "simple" Saturday night dinner.  I roasted potatoes in olive oil with salt and pepper (in the oven first).  Made a Diced tomato and Feta salad seasoned with a bit of balsamic...very aged balsamic.  Then seared up a big slice of ham steak.  The potatoes (Grade A Gardens) took longer than I expected to get done.  But this gave some additional time for the tomatoes and feta to marinate in the balsamic.  It was a really good meal over all.  Other than the salt, pepper and Balsamic, everything came within a short distance from my house (Pork and feta from near Knoxville being the furthest away).

In addition I went to La Quercia this week and also had a Boulevard beer and Cheese tasting both associated with The Cheese Shop of Des Moines.  Both were quite fine and even though I already had had all but one of the Boulevard beers (well I supposed the Love Child #4 is separate then #3).  The cheese pairings were quite good.  And the ranged from a quite a bit of funk to very savory.  It was a fun time.

Visiting La Quercia

Yesterday I got a chance to go tour the La Quercia ham processing plant.  Because of timing, Shannon wasn't able to join me (over lapped with her work schedule), but I wasn't going to pass up this opportunity.  I joined a group of people from the Cheese Shop of Des Moines.  So we learned a few things about the process, heard a few stories, but I'll just highlight a few things that I found interesting.

It takes about 7 times as long to trim hams after they are finished, then it does to trim the legs before they start curing.

A few rooms have specially designed temperature control units.  In the "salting rooms" (not pictured), have cool air that comes down from a passive cooling unit (no fans) then heat that comes up form closer to the floor, and is piped up to meet in the middle, which creates circulation and a consistent floor to ceiling temperature (again important for the consistency of the hams).

They try to keep the aging rooms consistent with the general seasons of the year.  This is how the hams of old were cured.

They initially planned on 3 expansions in this location and are starting their 4th (or just finished their 4th).

The location is in a U shape, so you can start in shipping, go to the start and go through the seasons, then end back in shipping from the final processing room (good work design flow).

They don't have backup generators.  The areas have plenty of mass in them to help maintain the temperature, and apparently generators are not common in the industry.  While I can see the point, and generators a expensive as hell to maintain (I remember the announced visits of the generator techs (quarterly, I think) and the diesel fuel deliveries, etc, for computer backups at my office).  I get it, but there's an amount of risk there.

After the tour, we headed back to the break room and had some Arugula, Chicory, Balsamic and tomato salad, Butter and Prosciutto sandwiches, and some beautiful La Quercia meat.  

The general smells were milder than I thought they would be, but still delightful at all points of aging.  They certainly made a rumble in my stomach.  Probably didn't hurt that I really didn't have much to eat that morning.

I would like to go back sometime to see the work in process (leg and ham trimming, general movement, meat slicer in use, etc).  Though most of the developed goodness is due to time.  I'm also curious about the mechanics of it.  Similar to the visit to the Story City Locker, where we saw them cutting up the meat, making some sausage, etc.

I really enjoyed myself, and this probably just for food or science nerds, and not really for someone that isn't that interested in where their food comes from.

2014 - Week 34 Cooking

  • Gorgonzola pasta, with onions, peppers and tomatoes (per suggestion of the Cheese Shop)
  • BATs!
  • Lamb Burgers
  • Chorizo tacos with radishes
  • Ham steak with potatoes with a tomato and feta salad

Does this sound not very creative?  I don't feel it either.  We'll see what we do.  I feel in a rut (although it's a tasty delicious rut, but a rut none the less).

2014 - Week 33 Cooking Results

Asian-Style Pork Burgers

This was the real winner for the week.  I added the tomato, even though they weren't called for, but this really was "a tasty burger".  The way that the ginger, scallions in the pork combined with the cabbage dressed with rice vinegar and soy sauce was really quite good.  I would totally make this again, and so should you.

Chorizo Tacos!

The only thing that wasn't local was the jalapeno pepper.  Good stuffs.

Diced pork in flat bread (Probably Greekish, but we'll see)

Topped with some tomatoes and some yogurt combined with some aleppo pepper and a bit of hot sauce.  Good stuffs.

BATs

Om nom nom.

Tomato & Grilled Cheese

So you combine some Prairie Breeze, a bit of chevre, and some wonderfully delicious tomatoes, on some Country Italian bread.  It makes for a great sandwich.  You want to thin slice the tomatoes so you don't get too much juice in there to make the bread soggy, but if you use enough butter to bread to make it a nice crisp crust, you get it just ride.  I've been getting the balance between heat and butter more and more right every time I do this.

2014 - Week 32 Cooking Results

Corn and Chorizo Hash

Ok, I give up on this, it apparently isn't going to work out.  Maybe I'll try it later, when it's colder.

Butterflied Pork Chops with Haricot Vert Salad

Pork Chops delayed, Haricot...well...gone.

Chicken Salad sandwiches

This is what I was craving all week.  After going out to eat this week, way more than we normally do and certainly more than expected (Zombie Burger (for the Left Hand event, with Josh, Lindsay and Drew), Tacopocalypse (with Isaac), and HoQ (with Mom, Dad, Joseph and Isaac)).  I ran around on Friday to pick up a few ingredients and made it with:  Rotisserie Chicken (Chipotle), onion, celery, McClures's Spicy Pickles, a bit (and I do mean a bit, I've gotten chastised for a heavy hand with dill) of fresh dill, Mayo and Dijon Mustard.

On some ciabatta buns, they hit the spot that I was craving.

BATs

Om nom nom

Mini burgers (grass fed beef)

I do love me some grass fed beef.