Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tasty Meal...

I promise that I will post about NYC soon, but I haven't had enough devoted time. With that said, I wanted to post briefly about my dinner last night. A few weekends ago, Mike Brown and I made a ridiculous amount of veal stock (more on that in a later post). All I can say is man this comes in handy. To further set the stage, I ordered some duck products for Jennifer's Christmas with a few bonuses for myself. When I arrived home yesterday, I was greeted with a package from Hudson Valley Farms containing a 1.6 lb Grade A fois gras, 6 confit duck legs, 1 double duck breast, and a 2 lb container of duck fat. I didn't have the time to make anything elaborate, but I had to do something with the duck fat!

In my fridge, I had some flat-iron steak, some white button mushrooms, some of the aforementioned veal stock & duck fat. In my pantry were same potato, shallot & garlic.

JW's Steak & Potato
serves 2

1 flat-iron steak about 1 lb
salt & pepper
Canola oil
1 shallot, minced
8 oz thinly sliced mushrooms
1/2 c red wine
1 c veal stock
1/2 tsp thyme
1 T butter

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Cut steak into desired portions, pat-dry, salt and pepper liberally. Heat skillet over medium high heat, add enough oil to coat bottom of pan and sear/cook steak about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and put in the oven to keep warm. Saute mushrooms until they brown and give up most of their moisture then set aside. Next saute the shallot for about 30 seconds, then deglaze the pan with the wine until almost dry. Add the veal stock with the mushrooms and reduce until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Add the thyme and swirl in the butter to make the sauce shiny and delicious.

Potato cut into 1 inch chunks about 2 cups
salt & pepper
1 T duck fat
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup heavy cream
Dijon mustard

Place potato & about a tablespoon of oil in a microwave safe bowl cover with plastic wrap and vent. Cook 50% power for 6 minutes tossing about mid-way through. Drain. Heat another skillet over medium heat with the duck fat. Add potato and saute until GBD. Add shallot and garlic, cook about 1 minute, then swirl in the cream & a spoonful of mustard, mixing well.

To plate, spoon a little sauce on the plate, top with the meat, then top with more sauce and mushrooms. Serve potato on the side.

Even Jen agrees, Emeril is wrong...DUCK FAT RULES!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The tech game, and the State of the Bulldog union otherwise known as 'six notes on a trumpet'

We are all just observers, and we should always keep that in mind. With that said, I think there are some significant things that are worth mentioning about this years football team's performance. There has been an inexplicable thing that nobody can put a finger on that seems to be missing from this team. It's something that the coaches haven't ever mentioned in any of the press conferences, and frankly I have rarely if ever heard them say this out loud about any of our teams unless it's going well.
I'm sure my wife will appreciate this, but once again, maybe it all boils down to chemistry. Since I don't get to personally attend the press conferences, hang out in the locker room, nor do I get to interview coach Richt, I know I miss out on a lot. That's why I'm not a professional reporter, and I do have a day (and often night) job. The coaches do a good job of protecting the student athletes, and they are pretty unified on not throwing any players under the bus. Is it not possible that even with a talented group of players, team chemistry falters, there is no distinct leader in certain key situations, and the players just flat out don't do what they're told to do or what they learn and practice? If you think that's not possible, then I would refer you back to the men's USA basketball team of the previous couple of Olympic games. Is there any question that they are not superior basketball players? No, but again the whole is not greater than the sum of its parts.
So what does all this mean? It means that we're close, we are recruiting the right talent level, and when we can click with the right kind of team chemistry to bring us through on-field adversity, we will be dominant. This year clearly was not the year.
Do you think Martinez told any of our players to arm tackle and not wrap up? Do you think Bobo coached anyone into running the wrong route or not blocking somebody that was coming on a blitz? Is someone teaching Blair Walsh how to kick low hooks on purpose? Could it be that out of all the possibilities, the directional kick has led to fewer problems than we might have experienced otherwise?
I will say also, that I noticed something from fans this year that has been missing for several years and that is continued enthusiasm despite some optimal performance and outcome. Remember the Alabama game? The fans stayed in the second half despite being blown out of the first half, because we really thought that we had a chance. Personally, I watched the whole game taking the same exact thing. that said, remember the fans can be very fickle, and that support may not be there. If you don't believe it, why don't you ask Phil Fulmer. On Saturday, despite the weather, the stadium was packed and the fans were loud. How many times can the defense ask the crowd to get into the game, only for the crowd to watch them pull a bonehead and let some idiot nerd management major in a piss-yellow uniform go tearing down the field for a touchdown on third and long? That's the last time I go to that game without some alcohol my pocket. What else is there to say? The trumpet player played all seven notes, the fans were all there screaming their heads off, being loyal till the end--it might have been nice to see a complete game be played on the field.
At the end of the day or season, I have no where else to turn other than to still love them 'Dawgs. I mean, we get mad at our family from time to time for stupid things, but they're still our family.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Back home to the corner

We made the 750 mile trek back to South Georgia, where I grew up to visit mother and other family. I know that JW has a NYC trip to talk about, and I have a couple of restaurant reviews that we did in Saint Louis prior to the holiday. Also, we're going to have a tamalada in preparation for Thanksgiving. Now's the time for soup recipes, braised meats, and one pot wonders. Let's hear it. Will post again very soon, and we'll have a lot to talk about. Oh, and let's not forget, "Clean, Old-fashioned Hate." That's right, the yearly battle of the good versus the irrelevant: Georgia vs Georgia Tech. Plus, expect an Athens restaurant review coming as well.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sometimes Less is More

As I reminisce about some of my favorite meals, rarely does it get fancy-steak frite comes to mind. Last night I realized what Sundays must have been like before everyone ate standing up.

The meal: roasted chicken and 'roasters' with steamed brocoli.

A simple roasting pan with a good bird, legs tied-stuffed with rosemary, thyme, sage and a cut lemon. Salt/pepper over the top-into the 400 degree gas oven for 20min/pound, add the roasters for about 40min at the same temp in the other oven and that's it. Pull the bird, deglaze the pan with a little stock for gravy and all set.

I guess the important lesson was the ease of the meal, little need to tend it and, most importantly, the freeing up of time to spend enjoying with friends sitting around a fire, good conversation and better wine.

May the upcoming holiday season be fierce with friends, family and good libations-not necessarily in that order.


My 4th trip to Philadelphia for the American Society of Nephrology Annual Meeting. City actually has some great food and I have eaten a few of my favorite meals, all-time there (Morimoto's & The Fountain at the Four Seasons Hotel). This go around, I had one memorable meal at "Cuba Libre". The menu is designed to reflect what Cuban food would be like if Castro hadn't fucked everything up...

Restaurant has all kinds of Carribean/South American beverages and an extensive rum list...mojitos are made with fresh guarapo (hand-pressed sugar cane juice). Very tasty!

We got their tasting menu for only $39/each. Don't know how they stay in business. This is what we had

Ceviche!: Baja bay scallops, blackened tomatillo-truffle sauce, goat cheese confetti, flat bread
Chicken empanada with corn & jack cheese on a tomatillo relish
Guava BBQ Ribs on a jicama-Sambal salad
Black-bean hummus with plantain & yucca chips

Ensalad del Pais: mixed greens, arugula, jicama, pepitas, orange supremes w/ Sherry vinaigrette
Suntanned Salmon: Chilean salmon with honey-mango glaze with star anise tomato sauce
Camarones con Cana: pan seared sugarcane skewered jumbo shrimp, mango BBQ glaze
Churrasco a la Cubana: grilled skirt steak on roasted garlic mashed potatoes, parsley, lemon and onion sauce, watercress and rosemary mushroom escabeche salad
Cuban black beans and rice
Maduros: fried ripe plantains
Sauteed young mustard greens in a spicy chorizo broth

Coconut rice pudding with chopped coconut macaroons
Chocolate-cinnomin fallen down cake

Best $40 ever spent. My favorite was the ceviche by far. So much so that I went back there by myself at at some at the bar. I wanted Jennifer to try, so I came up with my own recipe that was surprisingly close...I took several short-cuts, but here goes-

12 oz bag frozen sea scallops (look for ones vacuum packed without any ice crystals), thawed in refrigerator overnight
1 large naval orange, juiced & strained
4 persian limes, juiced & strained
1 serrano chili, finely minced (flesh only)
1 chipotle chile, finely minced
3 Tablespoons minced red onion
1/2 tsp truffle oil
4 tablespoons store bought tomatillo sauce
About 3 drops of liquid smoke
Crumbled goat cheese

Best to make over 2 daysAfter thawing scallops, combine in non-reactive bowl with juice, chiles, and onion and "cook" for about 4 hours. Strain out most of the juice (or scallops become overcooked and mushy), cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to eat.Before serving, strain again and toss with tomatillo sauce, truffle oil, and liquid smoke (careful with this stuff, I added b/c I didn't want to make my own smoked tomatillo sauce, it worked well). To finish combine with as much goat cheese as you like (I used about 1/4 cup). Enjoy! I also bought some "veggie chips" in the hippie section of the grocery store that were made with yucca, plaintains etc that worked very well.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

2008 Season, some perspective perhaps?

Man, what a game. I mean, really, there are parts of this game that just made you sick with rage, and other parts that really made you confident that everything was okay.
I agree with JW, there are a lot of naysayers out there that want to fire everybody on the entire team, I don't think that's the answer. But, what is it going to take to push us over the top? Is it good luck, cushy schedule, various stars coming into alignment?

The reality is that we have had a really good season, albeit a disappointment based on what our expectations were at the beginning of the year. The frustrations that I think any of us express as fans comes from our fear that even with a great team, we were unable to reach a championship level. It's not so much that we're out of the running for the SEC and the national championship, it's that we didn't even look like contenders this year. Right now, the whole does not appear to be greater than the sum of its parts.

I sure won't claim to have any of the answers, I think that we really have to put all of this in context. We're 9-2, assured of a bowl game. There are a lot of teams out there (Tennessee, Auburn, Clemson, Michigan) that aren't even anywhere close to that. If this is a down year for us, I'll take it. If fans feel like this, don't you think the team feels it that much more? Without question. But, don't you get the sense that the team and the coaches and even the fans are just worn out? I think the injuries have taken a much greater toll on this team than we can ever know. There has been a lack of cohesiveness that's hard to put a finger on, but there are a lot of players with great skill who sometimes look a little bit lost out there.

We have struggled all year with gaining the upper hand in momentum and keeping it. We're fortunate that we have skilled enough players to overcome that to an extent, but it's not easy to do. The Florida and Alabama games were lost in avalanche fashion, one in the first half, the other in the second. It's a big reason that South Carolina, Kentucky, Auburn, Georgia Southern, Vanderbilt, and even LSU have played us as close as they have.

Frankly, we need to quit whining like we have all year (rankings, coaches, players) and enjoy what we have. Hopefully, we'll see something in the next couple of games to get our hopes up again and increase our expectations for next season.

BTW, do Caleb King and Southerland still play on our team?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Crispy red snapper with roasted beet chimichurri

This is a take from Suzanne Goin's book Sunday Suppers at Lucques. If you don't have this book I highly recommend it. I really like the way she splits up her food into seasons, which is how we should all think when we're cooking or ordering. Good tomatoes in January. They don't exist unless you have to blow a lot of cost to get them from South Africa or something.


Take some red snapper fillets. I bought a whole fish and filleted them myself (not very well, I must admit). Marinate in harissa.

North african "condiment" similar to adobo in mexican cooking with a twist.

6 chiles guajillo or ancho
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 tsp smoked paprika (add liquid smoke just a touch if you can't find it)
1/2 tsp cumin
Small can of tomatoes or two romas diced
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp sherry vinegar
1/2 cup EVOO
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Pan saute the chiles until they're smoking, not burned. Put them in a bowl of hot water and put a paper towel on top to keep them wet all over.
Discard the oil (if you used too much) and cook the tomatoes in the same pan.
Put everything in a blender except the olive oil and puree, adding the olive oil slowly as you go. Balance seasoning, voila. There's your marinade and it's very versatile. Put it on park, serve with bruschetta/crostini.

Marinate the fish for a few hours, then scrape of the excess. Personally, I like to have the skin on the fish.
Heat a large (13" stainless or equiv) saute pan and put plenty of oil so it stands about 1/4 inch thick. Heat to medium high (if you do high, it will burn the outside and won't cook inside that well, fine if you 'just seared' a raw center, and it depends on the quality of your fish if you can do it that way). Cook skin side down until brown (a few minutes) and flip for about a 1/3 as long as you cooked them on the skin side.

Accompaniment: pureed carrots, beet chimichurri

I personally didn't make the pureed carrots, but I did make the beet chimichurri.

Roasted Beets
3-4 beets (bunch)
Roasting pan

Take your beets, clean them, and trim the stalks. Do not peel.
Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Place in a small roasting pan, and cover the bottom of the pan with water (key!).
Place in a 450 degree oven, tightly sealed with aluminum foil.
Give them around twenty minutes or so (until fork tender) then remove them and let them cool. Peel, cut into 1/4" slices and serve with your fish and chimichurri, or in salads "warm."


Handful of flat parsley
Handful of cilantro
Tsp of minced shallot
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lime juiced
High quality EVOO

Mix all but the oil into a bowl and stir together.
Add the olive oil much like you would a vinaigrette to balance the lime juice, but you don't have to add so much to make a true emulsion.
Add the beets to it and dress your fish with it, and serve.

I served it over beet greens (raw or sauteed, taste a lot like collards or turnip greens) and fish.
The beets give a really earthy flavor to whatever you add them too. Beware the freakin' juice is like indigo dye, it discolors your skin and your cutting board, but it washes out.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Capitol One or BUST!

It's hard to watch a game like UGA UK today. There's still a hangover from the Florida loss (blowout) and the stark realization that we're not as good as we either think we are or want to be. Personally, I'm glad that we can come out and play that poorly, lose a couple of key turnovers and STILL win.
Couple of comments and a couple of questions, then, at this point.
It was only a matter of time until our poor kickoff coverage was going to come up and bite us. Of negligible consolation is that they actually did not score the touchdown. It took 'em a couple of plays.
ANOTHER offensive lineman (Anderson?) went down and had to be replaced. It's not been since I think 2002 or earlier that I can remember this many key injuries. How can we expect to beat anyone when we don't even know who's going to be playing at what position?
Brian Mimbs is either red hot or ice cold. We need some consistency there. Although, the blown blocking assignment definitely contributed to the block. So, we had a blocked kick and a 19 yard punt.
Playcalling in the red zone. I can't possibly know what Bobo knows, but when you have 2nd and goal from the 3, two healthy fullbacks that are great blockers, and Knowshon Moreno, why would you pass? And of course, you have the gunslinger (Stafford) that knows that if he can buy enough time he can DEFINITELY make a play, which he did (corner of the endzone pass to AJ Green), but it's higher risk and has oftentime led to a sack. (Cue highlight reel)
At least Blair Walsh didn't have to try to kick a field goal. Good for him.
The stuff you thought you could depend on fails at a critical moment (Mo Mass 2 consecutive fumbles, then he torches them on the third...head-scratcher)
Defense. If you want to call it that. I really want to like Martinez, and I have no reason not to. I don't think that game in and game out he produces a quality product. Newsflash: do you think that Tech after getting crushed today isn't going to be looking at that game tape and thinking they have a legitimate chance to beat us, considering they run a lot of option, and we have NO idea how to defend it? It wasn't so much up the middle as it was around the edges. We did step up and clamp it down at the end. What about having to call a timeout at the end of the game because we weren't ready to field a defense after a punt? Where's the gamesmanship?
The killer penalty that drains our momentum. Facemask. Late hits. Hands to the face. We're marked and expected to make those dumb mistakes. And then we do.

(sighs longingly)
It's frustrating. I guess I'm mostly bummed that even if we win, it doesn't matter so much in the national and SEC picture. If we lose, this thing could come derailed in a hurry. Just because Hawaii's a nice place to visit, that's not the kind of bowl we want to be playing in.

See, all that, and we WON. Go you hairy 'Dawgs!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Equipment Review All-Clad Fryer

I don't do alot of frying, but I do love some steak frites and occassionally like to make fish-n-chips or fish tacos. I usually fry in one of my cast iron enamel Le Crueset dutch ovens, but for my birthday, Jennifer bought me an All-Clad 6 quart pot with a fry basket insert. Made some frites on Sunday and the curry-spiced cauliflower from the BLT cookbook on Monday night. The results were fantastic. The oil hardly loses any temperature and thus far produced the crispiest, least-greasy fried products ever to come from my kitchen! My usual set-up may have been sufficient, perhaps I wasn't using enough oil, but who cares, love kitchen toys!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I guess JW was right all along

That game was miserable. Like Bama, we were unable to capture any momentum and made big mistakes that became magnified by the field position gained after the turnovers. It stinks, but Richt will figure out how to right the ship. We deserved the timeouts at the end of the game, but we will not forget them.
It will always be great to be a Georgia Bulldog, I haven't lost faith, I just know that it's not going to happen this year.
That said, a couple of comments that I think deserve mention.
How the SEC could have allowed Penn Wagers to be the head official for this game is unthinkable. He became way too emtionally involved in last year's game and has continued to show some personal beef with us. Remember, it wasn't the coaches that made the decision to celebrate, it was the players that scripted it.
You really can't say that bad calls cost us this game, but they did cost us momentum which, in addition to huge mistakes, cost us this game. The receiver that pulls Asher Allen's jersey to run by him, the mythical illegal hands to the face on Tebow that cost us an interception, these and others were plays that robbed us of momentum, and led to UF touchdowns. I hope that this somehow creates some incentive for Knowshon and Stafford to stick around next year. Again, my faith is shaken but not stirred.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Perfect whole roasted chicken

I've struggled with this recipe because I've been trying so hard to get it right. I am a little defiant when it comes to sticking a beer can up the rump of the chicken. The biggest problem that I've had is the brine, and making sure that it's the right concentration of ingredients. Guess no more, here it is, adapted from a recipe in Suzanne Goin's Sunday Suppers at Lucques.

Brine for grilling poultry, pork

Take a big Georgia cup (quart) of hot water, bring to a boil in a stockpot of some kind.
Add 1/2 cup of kosher salt, 1/4 cup of granulated sugar
2 tbsp of ground pepper, red pepper flakes, and thyme
When it all dissolves, add three more quarts to make 1 gallon total.
Spatchcock and clean your chicken, add to the brine. Let it sit at room temperature for about 2 hours or so.
You don't need to drain it or dry it, just throw it on the grill.

The grill setup:

Inverted double decker grill with a 12 inch pizza pan and new high absorption roasting pans that I found at the grocery store(low profile, works GREAT as a drip pan). This is my new indirect setup.
Get your grill going at 400-450 (mostly open bottom, 1/4" slit on top), and throw the chicken on bone side down.
Wait till it reaches around 175 and flip.
Heat to around 195 with the probe on a bone. The bone side of the meat runs cooler and is more likely to be undercooked.


JW describes refrigerating the chicken uncovered to let it dry out before you grill it, and I'm sure that works. However, I found that the skin was pretty crispy as long as a I let it reach that higher temperature, and I didn't even have to squeeze any of the water out of it.

Be careful letting your temperature any higher when you're doing indirect, because your drip pan will catch on fire and go nuts.

Use your giblets and backbone to make home-made chicken stock. You can brown them with some veggies (mire poix carrots, two onions, and celery, thyme and black pepper) along with some water. Do not use the liver for this.

I've also screwed it up trying to cook it skin side down first without flipping, bone side down without flipping, etc. This has given me the best result.

Artificial sweetener, honey, brown sugar can be substituted in the brine, along with whatever else you might want to add. Be careful adding alcohol because it can screw up the moisture and flavor.

Grilled halibut with chimichurri over wilted spinach with grill-roasted garlic

There are a lot of recipe books that call for halibut during the fall and winter. It just so happens that during the fall, we got a little reprieve on the weather even after our first frost. You know what that means: break out the grill! Besides, I need something to take my mind off the upcoming UGA/FU game, #6 vs #8!


Since Goscar has been almost worthless when it comes to posting anything on here, I had to do some investigation of chimichurri on my own.
1/4 cup of finely chopped cilantro
1/4 cup of finely chopped flat leaf parsley
juice of 1 lemon or lime
tbsp of red chili flakes
1 minced shallot
2 minced garlic cloves
1/4 to 1/3 cup of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all in a cereal-sized bowl and whisk together like you're making a vinaigrette (see previous post). Can be made ahead of time, use this to drizzle over your fish when you finish it.

Wilted spinach with fire roasted garlic

You'll kick yourself when you see how easy this one is. Use your chef's knife to cut the butt end off a whole head of garlic. With your grill up to around 400-450F, put this with a little drizzle of olive oil and a little pinch of salt in a piece of foil and throw it on the fire. Let it go around 15-20 minutes. Pretty much the same recipe for making confit. Please, someone, tell me the difference.

Grab a couple of handfuls of spinach and heat a medium skillet with olive oil over medium heat. Put it in the skillet and take it off when you see the green turn pretty intense. Do not brown, take it off sooner than later. Put about 8-10 cloves of garlic in the spinach. Tip: if you finish this part too early, stick it in the microwave for about 30 seconds to turn it back "on."

Grilled halibut

The fresher the fish, the less seasoning you need. Simply, kosher or sea salt, extra-virgin olive oil, and maybe a little fresh ground pepper. Grill at 400-450, it'll cook in about 10 minutes or so at that temperature. Do not overcook, it's easy. It gets really flaky, so you may benefit from having a fish spatula so it doesn't fall apart like mine did.

Pretty easy, remember that outside temperature doesn't affect the ability of the kamados to generate a good temperature, so keep on grillin'!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

One that failed (sort of)

I'm batching it! Yeah, the wife and monsters are out of town. Don't get me wrong, I miss them terribly, but it does give me a chance to take some risks with dinner that I otherwise may not have had.
I was shopping for groceries last night, and I was looking for a good meat that I rarely have. I found a pack of ground lamb, and I thought it would be a great idea. It was, but I managed to screw it up. But, that's one of the purposes of this "forum."
Here's the menu:

"Reduced" balsamic and herbes de Provence vinaigrette
Really, it's how you describe things that make them sound better than they are. It's not a reduced vinaigrette, I just didn't feel like adding mustard. I later found out by watching a Bobby Flay grilling show that the mustard is actually essential to help the oil and vinegar emulsify. I also cut a corner and failed to add shallot. I didn't have any, but I guess I could have added red onion which I had left over.

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp herbes de Provence (just get a bottle of them at the spice rack at the grocery store)
1/2 tsp salt (Kosher to taste)
High quality extra virgin olive oil.

This is a post about salad dressing as much as it is about anything. It's really easy, and it tastes really fresh. The ingredients are pretty simple, and you'll think twice about buying it again if you make it right. Here's the breakdown:
something acid
dijon mustard
salt and pepper, don't skimp
some other seasoning if you want
high quality olive oil (just check at your grocery store, and look online if you don't find what you want. Order it and wait a couple of days. It's worth it.)

figure about 3:1 oil to acid. Here's your chance to put what you want. It can be red wine, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice, champagne vinegar, apple cider vinegar, fresh tomato pulp either green or red, etc.
When it comes to other seasoning, you can add whatever you want. Think about it. This can be bacon and bacon fat (ummm bacon), garlic, herbs of whatever you want, red pepper flakes, sherry reduction, parmesan cheese, it's up to you.
Dijon mustard, I think you should add, just don't add too much or it overpowers the dressing. It does help emulsify the dressing, so it's important. Remember chemistry?
Salt and pepper addition depend on what else you've added. If you've put bacon, then you don't need much. If you're making a cucumber and tomato salad, then I would recommend more, since I like them salty.
Now, add everything, then drizzle your oil into a medium sized bowl and whisk like crazy to create your emulsion. You'll know you're there when the whole thing starts to thicken. Taste it, season, and you're done. Isn't that easy?
So mine, I cheated and used balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, herbes de Provence, and emulsified with oil. It worked great but would have been better with some crusty bread (baguette). I put it over a small cucumber and a couple of sliced Roma tomatoes.

Provencal lamb burgers and sauteed fingerling potatoes
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp of fresh thyme (do you have an herb garden yet?)
1 tsp of fresh rosemary, minced
salt, pepper

Combine all the ingredients and make a paste. The saltier the better. Combine with about 3/4 pound of ground lamb. Let them heat up to close to room temperature.
Sear over medium high. Not too hot, or else you'll have raw burgers. Not too low, or they'll be well done. Uggh.

4 fingerling potatoes, peeled and sliced about 1/4 inch thick
thyme, rosemary don't make them too green
salt, pepper
olive oil
Toss the potatoes, and cook over medium high heat about 10-12 minutes. If you must, drain on paper towels to cut some of the fat off of them. I think they're better if they're in a separate pan from the lamb burgers.

Why my dish sucked
I had the heat too high, and even though the crust on the burgers was great, they were a little underdone. You're choices then are to wrap in foil and let them rest for about 10-15 minutes, or put them back on the fire. I did the latter, and screwed them up because I let them overcook. There's a reason lamb must be rare to medium, because it otherwise tastes too gamey. So, the flavors were there, the cooking technique was wrong.
The potatoes, on the other hand, were just fine.

Do over
I would have cooked the lamb better, grilled them maybe, and then made true burgers out of them using grilled bread and Manchego cheese. Maybe even make an herb aioli (garlic mayonnaise) with some mint to bring another herb into it. Live and learn.
Sorry no pictures.

Wine pairing
Tiza Malbec, 2005

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Study Break; with QUAIL on the Grill

Well the Dawgs had won the Vandy game I was HAWNGRY;
Just so happened that I began a slow marinade for a few quail about 6 hours earlier.
These birds were from a cool morning hunt earlier this year ( SWGA).
I started with 5 handpicked quail in my marinade pan.
1. several heavy shakes of my favorite : coarsely ground black pepper
2. cover the bottom of the pan with my Uncle Tommy's favorite, " Zesty Italian Dressing"
3. 2-3 shakes of "Tony Chachere's Original"
4. bacon bits (I'll admit, these came from a bottle)
5.The best is next; I picked a handful of both: fresh rosemary and Lemon Balm from our Herb Garden (note: rosemary is easy to grow; try it in hamburgers finely ground)
6. Finally, using a tip from my Korean friend in Med. School I took one Kiwi thinly sliced and placed this all over the birds and allowed to marinate. The kiwi causes the meat to tenderize.
7. Grill time; about 7 minutes on each side at about 325-350 degrees with direct heat. (This all depended on how many times I took a peek).
As my friend from Arkansas says: "If you place a bit of this on your forehead your tongue will beat you to death. " I saved some for my wife to prove how well it turned out.
I finished the evening with my favorite cigar: a maduro wrapped La Flor-Dominica called "The Chisel"strong with much body and flavor, but very smooth with a great draw.

Love GOD
Grill often
Go Dawgs

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Krypton fanfare: not just for Dawgs?

I know that we don't own this song (fourth quarter, holding up your four fingers). It's from the original Superman movie. But I'll be damned if South Carolina's band didn't play it during their game against LSU during the fourth quarter. Aside from that, they also have hedges growing around their field. Pathetic just like the Cockaboose.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Destination 10: Clock Bar, Westin St. Francis

This place deserves a special mention because I thought it was such a cool little bar. The inside was really posh with nice decor, and the clientele was sort of upper end hip. We sat right where you see those dudes in the picture. They had a great scotch selection, and played some cool sushi techno music. Definitely a cool place to have a drink, especially if you're going to Michael Mina restaurant (27 points in Zagat's). Sorry, I didn't do that.

Destination 9: Sellers Markets.

This was a cool little lunch/breakfast place that I found next to the BART station as I was on my way out of town. I had a breakfast burrito with chorizo, egg, and sauteed potatoes. Hit the spot. No Z rating yet, but a lot of people had nice things to say about it on the website, and apparently they have good stuff for lunch or takeout.

Destination 8: Mixt greens.

A great lunch place, and the line out the door proved it. 23 points (right, for a salad joint?) from Z. It was one of these places that was tucked around the back of an office building. The concept is that whole restaurant is a huge mise en place of salad ingredients, check out the website to see everything they can put on there. The also have predesigned salads that each one of their 3-4 mixologists prepares and tosses with dressing in front of you.
I thought it was a perfect lunch place, and it gives one a great idea of how to prepare a good fresh tasting salad. The final point of this place was that they had free filtered water in pitchers as you walk into the place. Interestingly, they put sliced lemons and sliced/slitted cucumbers which gave the water a very fresh taste. Great idea!

Destination 7: Campton Place Restaurant

Whew. This was the high-end culinary highlight of the trip. 25 pts from Z, you could imagine that it was at least that. Ultimately, I thought the service, the wine, and the food were impeccable.

We sat right under that flower in the middle of the room. The restaurant is small with 25-30 seats. Let me make sure I get this straight to relay what we had, because it came and went so fast, it was hard to keep track. It started with an amuse bouche of small pastry puff with an herbal foam/emulsion that had an incredible texture. This was followed by a small appetizer soup of ginger ice cream in a fish consomme. This was one of the most incredible dishes we had all night. Very small, and we didn't even order it or the first one, it was just part of it. Appetizer was barely seared scallops with prosciutto chips. Awesome, delicate, salty. My entree was duck with seared foie gras and chantarelle mushrooms and roasted carrots. I don't have any pictures of these, but they were really great. Other appetizers and entrees enjoyed were roasted leg and rack of lamb, shitake mushroom soup, and seared ahi tuna. A pre-dessert was a lime sorbet with watermelon shaved ice. We finished with a cheese plate and some aperitifs. The wine selection was awesome, Crocker Starr cab, 2003. There was a tasting menu that went for 95 bucks a piece, and although we didn't do that (maybe we should have) we still came out about 125-150 a piece. Steep, but sometimes it's worth it. I wouldn't have thought of this place, but maybe I should have.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Destination 6: Ryoko's sushi bar.

This was one of the neatest little places I've ever been. So, I went by myself, and took a chance. But, when in San Francisco, I started thinking about what kind of food would I have the hardest time reproducing in the midwest or back east? Easily, the answer was sushi.

This place looked like DT's down under in Athens. A total dive, you had to go underground to find it. From the outside, it looked like nothing. Again, taking another chance, I sat down at the bar, and ordered (what else?) sake and asked for omakase.

I got abalone, Japanese mackerel, toro, unagi, and sea urchin. I don't think I've ever had this mackerel before, but it was incredible. But, so was the toro. Far better than the other place we went. Then I found out that they had two kinds of toro (chu and O, the latter being the fattier and more prized, as well as pricy), and I had gotten the less fatty of the two, chu-toro. I ordered one more of each, and two more mackerel. Pretty awesome food.

The other charms of the place were the decor (total 70's bar), the music (B-side 80's), and the wait staff who were these cute, young Japanese women who were the nicest people I've ever encountered at a sushi bar. I would definitely go back, but keep it a small group.

Destination 5: Hog Island Oyster Company

This place was the real deal. 24 points from Z, I went with a friend, sat in the back right-hand corner of the image above, and had a dozen mixed oysters. This is a company that farms their own oysters, and they also sell them and will ship. We had small sweetwater, blue point, and Kumamoto oysters. You don't need any sauce, slurp them right out of the shell, make sure you drink the liquor. This was accompanied by a west coast style clam chowder with the clam shells in the soup. It was a white fish broth, milk, potatoes, onions, some herbs and the clams. When the ingredients are that good, don't need to go crazy. They had pretty good beer, although at this point my body was a little upset with the previous night, so I had a pilsner which I enjoyed (OK I had two). Just a word about these west coast oysters: they're super sweet and briny, incredible if you ever get the chance. They're also smaller than you see than the ones back east. Can't miss. Just check carefully to make sure they're open, this is a great lunch destination. Bring your checkbook: dozen oysters, couple of beers, 2 orders of clam chowder, 80 bucks.

Destination 4: Sakana Japanese Sushi

Zagat unrated. We picked this one up off a recommendation from the concierge at the Marriott. Recommended for the different variety of fish that they carry. We had Japanese sea bream, which was pretty good. Their toro was slightly above averge, but not enough to give up anything important to you (see later). I found it to be a little stringier than it should have been, implying lower quality. We ordered omakase (chef's choice) with a couple of rounds of sake, which were actually pretty good. We got spicy tuna rolls (why would you do that?), sea urchin, freshwater eel, abalone, and sea bream. The sea urchin, if you've never had it, wow. Get ready for some scary texture. The cold sake was good, although I admit I don't know much about it. It was solid, but there are better.

Destination 3: the Metreon.

Shopping center right next to Moscone center North. There was Buckhorn's (a steak salad and sandwich place that was pretty tasty), Jillian's, a sports bar that was so-so, and Luna Azul burrito joint that wasn't too bad (chicken pesto burrito). The only reason I bring it up is because the food at the convention center should be pitched into a waste dump, and you have reasonable options right around the corner.

Destination 2: Waterfront restaurant

Waterfront Restaurant. 18 points in Zagat. We found that it had a great view of the bay, including the bay bridge. They had a very reasonable wine list with some nice varietals that might be a little hard to find outside of California. We had a nice Charbono (Summers 2006) and Syrah (Briarwood Reserve ?2003) for under 40 bucks each. Then, we ate the food. And disappointment ensued. Fortunately it was not that terribly expensive. I had a seabass that was horribly overcooked and underseasoned. The fish all came with dipping sauces. That should have been the dead giveaway that I was in for lower quality stuff. The view was 30 points, the food was about right, 18. I would only go here again for the view and maybe the well-priced wine. The other take-home message: try strange varietals, although I don't know how many from California ones are available back east or even in the midwest. Example: Briarwood Reserve Syrah is from a small winery with production of 1000-2000 cases a year, whereas Yellow Tail (don't do it!) is the most common imported wine in this country with production around 50,000 cases a year. The more boutique and obscure, the more popular now in California, so said the sommelier. They make a lot of it, so take their word for it.

San Francisco, a blurry culinary tour

Let me first say that San Francisco is one of the ultimate destinations for anyone that has even a remote interest in food and/or wine. The beauty of a city like this, similar to many of the great cities in the world, is the walkability to so many incredible places to eat and drink.

You could spend the rest of your life exploring this city, and another lifetime figuring out how to pay for some of it. That said, this post concentrates on places that were walking distance from my hotel, The Palace on Market and Montgomery. It's a great hotel, but for the money I think I would have liked one of the Westin hotels better, but what the heck.

The other thing that I did (and highly recommend) is I purchased an online subscription from Zagat's which was really spot on. Just remember, normal humans eat at places from 20-25. Anything much higher than that, and you need a second mortgage. Not that it might not be worth it on occasion.

Destination 1:

The 7/11 on Market street. Pack of crackers and a diet coke. What can I say, I got there late and I was tired. More to come.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The reason to watch ESPN Gameday

I mean, you might get a breakdown of the games of the day. I really couldn't care less who's hat Corso puts on. But if you look in the background, it's like a live YouTube (can I say that?). The signs are a weekly challenge to get stuff by the security guards and to be funny and fresh without being overly vulgar. And of course, there's always the obligatory Washington State University flag (Gameday has never been there, it's a running joke).
So today, they're broadcasting from Dallas at the Red River Shootout (as they almost always do) for the Texas/Oklahoma game. As they preview the UGA/Tennessee game, someone holds up a sign that says

"I had to walk to the fair because Phil Fulmer ate my car!"
The whole Weiner Mobile? I admit it's been a couple of years since I've seen it.

Friday, October 10, 2008


Like it or not, I really think that the voices of playoff baseball are Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. Of course, I guess we're not really used to having teams like the (devil) Rays in there either. But this cast of characters that's calling the game for TBS is typical of what you know to be wrong with current sports broadcasting practice.

Of the three boobs they have calling the game, I've heard of one of them (Ron Darling), but I've never heard him call a game. Maybe he has been doing it all year. I wouldn't know, because I don't follow it that closely. And Craig Sager on the field looks like the Joker, with his purple blazer. He'd fit in just fine here in "the Middle." In fact, hearing him talk, I'd be willing to bet that he's from these parts. And I'd be right, as he's from Illinois. However, as luck would have it, his son is on the roster for you very own GEORGIA BULLDOGS (what?).

So is this what postseason sports are always going to be about? One of the things that made UGA football so interesting to me was the personalities involved, like Larry and Loran. Guys like that get shut out in the postseason. Skip Caray? Same, RIP.The other thing is that although the parks are different, there is a generic ball park experience. Someone on the team gets "Crazy Train," every now and again you hear "Charge!" someone sings God Bless America during the stretch (except at Wrigley), someone starts the wave, there is inevitably a beach ball, and the beer is too expensive. And now, Jon Bon Jovi is the official rock star of Major League Baseball.
There's the AT&T call to the bullpen, someone has a t-shirt shooter, that any of us normal people are never in range of, and some goofy mascot is trying to tease money away from you for an official picture. And if you're watching it on TV, unless it's your usual announcers that your used to during the regular season, you're doomed to some generic accent that acts like he has no idea who any of your players are, and calls everyone Tommy, Johnny, Timmy, Stevie, Petie, etc.
I guess Buckcarver got their start somewhere, like NFL on FOX. But I don't have to like it.
And just because I know you've been missing him from Baseball Tonight, there has been a Harold Reynolds sighting. TBS postgame, oh yeah.

Every year around this time...

Sorry, I had to include this posting from Blogging Pantsless. It makes more and better fun of Phil Fulmer than I ever could. This is a real trap game for us just like it always seems to be. Rest assured, UT will come ready to play, and we'd better be prepared, particularly on defense.
Do any of you have any idea who's going to be playing for us (besides Stafford and Southerland)?
Me neither. Please, God, please, beat the Vols!
Oh, and just in case you don't visit this website with any kind of regularity, I highly recommend Doug Gillett's Hey Jenny Slater, especially the insanity that's on there this week, such as the Chik-Fil-A Dramatic Theater Scenes from a Marriage. Wow.
Hey Tennessee, be ready, as I and my three favorite UGA fans move back down that way in a few months! Second to Tech, for me it's the UT game. Don't ask me why.

On Frites...

Love me some steak frites. Problem is that double frying at home on the stove top is a huge pain in the ass and makes a helluva mess. I've been working on a solution that actually is working better for me than double-frying...

1st: I use russet potatoes, peel, and slice 3/8 inch with the mandoline and toss in water to remove the excess starch. I let soak atleast an hour with one change of water.

2nd: For the first cooking, drain the potatoes, dry with kitchen towel and toss with a tablespoon of your frying oil in a microwave safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and vent the top. Microwave on ~60% power for 5 minutes. Stir potatoes, recover and repeat.

3rd: Heat oil in your favorite frying vessel to 375 degrees. Blot potatoes well with lots of paper towels. Working in relatively small batches (don't want the oil to cool below 300) toss a big handful of potatoes with about 1 tsp of sifted corn starch (saw this on Tyler's Ultimate) until well-coated. Drop in the oil and fry until GBD. Drain on cooling racks and salt liberally. Keep warm in 200 degree oven until ready to serve...will get soggy if you wait more than 30 minutes.

Comment: the corn starch trick was genius! I generally try to follow classic recipes but without industrial frying equipment the frites always end up soggy. Give this a try and let me know what you think.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Daddy and boys leavin' the softball field

Old habits die hard, don't they?
I'm just glad they let me have a respectable number to play with. DOG thinks I'm playing baseball instead of softball. I still have the fastest hands you ever saw!
Somebody the other day in the elevator saw my G on my lapel and asked me if that was for Green Bay. I grinned with anger and said "No." He then asked me if it stood for the "Gators." Before punching him, and letting him know that the count was 0-2, I told him that I went to UGA and was a die-hard fan, and that although the Alabama game was a disaster, I still thought we'd be right there at the end of it all. I wouldn't have said it if I didn't believe it. Who else are you gonna root for JW?

Classic tailgatin' pic of the week

Clemson game?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Seafood risotto, add a little: it's easier than you think

Seafood risotto with skallops, skrimp, and truffle sauce

This is an easy one. First, don't be scared of risotto if you are. Second, find yourself an Asian market that you can find good fish sauce and spices. Third, gotta find a good seafood monger that will do you right.

1 quart of chicken stock, 1 cup of risotto: the basis of the meal
6-8 good sized but not giant scallops
Dozen 16-20 shrimp, peeled, veined, tailed. Save the tails for something else.
Fish sauce, 1/4 cup
1/2 onion (yellow or white)
2 cloves garlic
Truffle oil (white or black, preferably black if you have it)
salt, pepper to taste

This is a two pot recipe. You cook and reduce a quart of chicken stock with the added fish sauce to simulate a shrimp stock. Clearly, a quart of shrimp stock will do in this case. Boil and simmer your stock, season to taste.
Sautee the shrimp, set aside.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high to smoke and soften your onions. Do not brown. Then, add minced or finely sliced garlic. Add the risotto and roast it a little bit (2-3 minutes). When you see a little brown, start adding the stock over medium to medium-high heat, simmering down the liquid until it's mostly gone but not almost gone. Repeat this, adding a cup or so at time of your stock until you're out. You should be left with a creamy risotto mixture.
Super high heat with butter/olive oil mix, sear the scallops. Remember, flip once, cook less after the flip and let 'em go until they're barely cooked. Usually 3-4 minutes.
Add the shrimp to the risotto, drizzle with truffle impregnated oil (more than you think you need), and set a couple or three scallops on top for presentation.
Wanna get fancy? Garnish with chives, green onion, or flat parsley. It's your dish, color it how you wish.
It ain't shrimp an' grits in Chawwlstin, but it's pretty doggone good.
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Sunday, September 28, 2008

At least it's not so crowded on the bandwagon

Since our team needs a healthy dose of duct tape and haywire, I thought a moment of reflection was called for.
The loss to Alabama was brutal, wasn't it? It reminded me of the Sugar Bowl against WVU and a couple of semi-recent Auburn games. Got bitch slapped to start the game, and then finally started to respond after the half. The clock rules seem to make it difficult to do so.
Regardless, I still thought the fans showed a great level of support despite what happened in the first half. The stadium looked full until the end of the game. We got outplayed, outcoached, and caught a bunch of bad breaks- all of which we were severely punished for by Bama. They essentially played mistake-free. Dent's two roughing the QB, shanked punts, missed assignments on defense, AJ Greens bizarre fumble, poor kickoff coverage, dumb penalties, injuries. The list goes on. Is this what happens when you're too amped for a game of this magnitude? The blackout motivated Alabama and it made us press, which resulted in some of the poorest performance and bad luck I've ever seen in a top 10 game like that.
Dannell Ellerbee's injury was huge, expecially since it happened on the third play of the game. Defense seemed to always guess wrong, and not only that, get burned BADLY. Moreno's injury robbed our morale. Not having a tight end (both got injured) is going to be a big deal, but it does mean that the offense will have to adjust and no one else knows how we're going to do that.
But if the battle was lost, the war is definitely not. I still think we could have won the game if we hadn't shown up 30 minutes late. We have everything to play for, and I still think we have a chance at winning it all this year. Consider that we control our destiny in the SEC East (as does UF) provided we can beat UT. The bye week couldn't come at a better time. If we can keep winning, we're still right there. We just have to believe. And quit wearing black jerseys.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The difference

The OSU Beavers pulled of the upset of the media darling, ne'er do wrong USC Trojans. They ran a little running back up the gut right at the defense and linebackers you "can't" run on, and torched them. USC on the other hand played as flat as they have in a long time, and have all but dashed their hopes of vying for a national championship.
UGA might or might not win this thing, but USC was a giant obstacle for us. The rankings don't really matter as long as we're beating quality opponents. We'll be there.
You will recall, of course, that two weeks ago, UGA looked flat and played below their expectations against the other USC.

The difference for us is that despite looking pretty rough around the edges, we won.

Sure, we got demoted in the polls, but for some reason it seemed like some evidence of embarassment that we had been ranked so highly. It's like this: you're on a date with a nice girl, but when the hottest girl in school walks by and hikes her skirt up a little bit, you run off chasing her. As it turns out, the hottest girl in school wears a wig, and it got pulled of last night on national TV. The only good news for them is that maybe one or two people back east didn't stay up to watch it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dawgs' dirty laundry, interesting numbers

I don't believe that everyone has it out for us, just Penn Wagers. I know we commit too many penalties, and it's really going to hurt us badly at some point down the road. But, at least three of these penalties are questionably bad even by PAC-10 standards.

  1. Chop block, Knowshon did it, but why?
  2. Holding, Tripp Chandler tackled a guy after Caleb King goes by.
  3. False start on Boling, gave a little flinch at the goal line.
  4. Offside, Weston tried to jump the snap.
  5. Roughing the passer. Wynn pushed the guy on his right shoulder pad, and gets called for a facemask, personal foul, 15 yards. Now come one, how is that roughing? I think the refs thought he was going to pop him across the had, and he laid off. Gave ASU an automatic first down, and they go on to score a field goal.
  6. Illegal sub, we had 12 men on the field. We're actually lucky this wasn't illegal participation.
  7. Leaping. Demiko Goodman makes a 2 hop high jump to try and block a FG and lands on another UGA player. I've NEVER seen this called like this. He was outside the 1 yard. This was on a field goal that they made, they took the penalty and threatened to score a touchdown. Would have changed the game significantly. "Leaping-a defender running forward and leaping in an attempt to block a field goal or a point-after try lands on other players on either team. The penalty is not called if the defender was within one yard of the line of scrimmage at the time of the snap.
  8. Tripping. Give me a break! Massoaquoi falls down and looks like he accidentally trips up AJ Green a little, but how can this be called a 15 yard penalty? This was a 5 yard run for AJ, would have been 2nd and 5, instead became 1st and 20, we wound up having to punt and they got no points out of it.
  9. Illegal shift on the line.
  10. Defensive holding. Asher's not doing anything that they weren't doing to MoMass or AJ, get an interception, and they call it back.
  11. Holding. I know they say that you could call holding on every play, but when the guy gets a clean block into the QB where you make the play? I know we hold from time to time, but it wasn't so this time. Watch the replay.
  12. Delay of game to back the kick up.

BTW, on the third and goal where Moreno scored and they didn't give it to him, PWD on Georgia Sports Blog points out that ASU had 12 men on the field. The youtube video was pulled (as most of them have this year). I went back and watched the game on ESPN 360 (it's free, and they have replays of every game on ESPN affiliate networks, not CBS though) and sure enough they did. I'm still convinced that Knowshon got in, DESPITE the 12 defenders. Nice NO CALL. I know it's part of the game, and we have with it. It just drives me crazy when bad officiating impacts a game like that.

  1. Four weeks into the season, we've got 43 penalties, averaging just under 43 per game, while our combined opponents have 19 penalties.
  2. The only time we haven't scored in the red zone was last week when the clock ran out.
  3. We're outscoring opponents 17-0 in the first quarter. Bama is outscoring them 64-0. D better look sharp early, because if we have to make a huge adjustment, we may be playing some catchup ball.
  4. We have yet to throw an interception. Stafford still has the highest passer rating in the SEC.
  5. We've given up 183 yards total against the run this season. That leads the SEC.

Next week: BLACKOUT vs Bama. I wouldn't have done it, but I'm not the coach or the players. Regardless, it's going to be a big game and big test for us. Thinking about how they beat Clemson, they forced them into passing and getting away from their running game. Unfortunately, the Tigers couldn't beat them with the pass. I'm pretty sure we can if we have to, but we shouldn't have to or want to.

Monday, September 22, 2008

If you only knew.

Our beloved MCGDawg and his wife made an appearance on the local news in Tempe, AZ. here's the link I have been meaning to post now for several months. Anyway, I think is still ultimately comes down to this: people that are not from the South do nothing but ridicule it. It drives me crazy, but I'm here to tell you that we hardly have the market cornered on stupidity.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Lobster Mac & Cheese?

Inspired by the French Laundry Cookbook, I thought I would do a sic...Rachael Ray version of Lobster Mac & Cheese for an easy Friday night dinner. Results surpringly good. Jennifer loved it, I bet you will too.

My mise:
2 lobster tails (BILE-LOW by my house usually has frozen ones on sale, 2 for $9.99)
1 can of lobter bisque
Equal amounts of half and half (equal to the can)
Truffle oil
S & P
1/2 cup toasted bread crumbs

Cook 1 cup of orzo according to package directions, drain, rinse under cold water to stop cooking and set aside. Meanwhile, bring the bisque, half-and-half to a simmer over medium-low heat. Poach lobster tails in this concoction until barely cooked thru (about 10 minutes). Preheat oven to 350.

Transfer lobster to a cutting board and strain mixture thru a sieve into another bowl. Remove lobster meat from shell and coarsly chop. Add enough of the liquid to make the orzo just a bit soupy, then stir in about 1/2 a container of marscapone (softened). Add salt, pepper, minced chives and truffle oil to taste. Stir in lobster meat.

Transfer mixture to your favorite gratin dish, top minimally with bread crumbs and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until bubbly. (If your mixture isn't soupy at the beginning, the orzo will absorb the sauce and the result will be dry.)

I served with Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay and a salad of mache and parmesean with a simple vinegarette.


Highland Grits Recipe

OG wanted the entire recipe, so here goes...of course this is not verbatim as that would be a copyright infringement...

4 cups bottled water
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 cup stone-ground grits
2 T butter
1/4 cup Parmigiano
White pepper to taste
1 large egg, beaten

1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
2 shallots, minced
1 bay leaf
1 dried red chili pepper
2 oz country ham trimmings
1 T heavy cream
1 stick butter, cubed
2 T Parmigiano
Kosher salt and white pepper to taste
Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 T olive oil
2 thin slices of country ham julienned
1/2 cup chanterelle or other mushroom cut into 1 inch slices
1 shallot minced
thyme leaves for garnish

For grits: Bring water & salt to a boil. Slowly add grits, reduce heat and cook stirring frequently for about an hour. Remove from heat & add butter, cheese, pepper. Then stir in the egg. Transfer grits to buttered 4 to 6 oz ramekins. Heat oven to 375. Place grits in deep baking dish, pour hot water halfway up sides of ramekins. Bake covered with foil for 15 minutes, uncover and bake 20 minutes longer until tops are GBD

For sauce: saute wime vinegar, shallots, bay leaf, chile, and ham bringing to a boil. Cook until 1 T of liquid remains. Reduce to low, stir in cream, then wisk in butter bit by bit. Strain into sauce pan. (NOTE: I used tasso instead of country ham for the sauce). Keep warm.

Topping/garnish: Heat oil in saute pan over medium-high. Add ingredients and cook 3 to 4 minutess until barely tender.

To finish: Unmold grits onto serving plate/bowl, turn brown-side up. Ladle some sauce around grits and top with topping. Sprinkle thyme leaves to garnish.

You can make grits an hour ahead of time and reheat in a 400 degree oven.



Saturday, September 20, 2008

Goodbye Summer

It seems a shame to have to give up the wonderful tomatoes like these heirlooms that I got from the farmer's market: Cherokee purples, Zebras, and Brandywines. There is no substitution for good tomatoes, and if I can't find good ones, I choose a different recipe unless I can use canned ones (soups, stews, etc.). I mean caprese salad, is so simple with VERY simple ingredients: tomatoes, mozzarella, sweet basil and Balsamic vinaigrette, +/- salt, pepper, EVOO. All the ingredients are raw, so that means the cheese and the tomatoes are critical. Bad tomatoes kill the salad, and it's not worth putting in your mouth.

Caprese salad

2 large tomatoes, the best you can find

Mozzarella cheese

Chiffonade fresh sweet basil leaves

High quality EVOO

Balsamic vinegar

Salt, pepper to taste

I usually will slice my tomates either in rounds or in quarters, salt them, and let them drain some of the water, concentrating the flavor. I don't typically seed them unless the juice is over the top. Cut your cheese however you want (I happened to do little sticks this time), drizzle with balsamic vinegar and EV olive oil (something STRONG). Finish with basil, salt and pepper. Some people don't like pepper on tomatoes, but I do. I also go a little heavy on salt, but it's so complimentary to tomatoes, that I don't mind.

A more classic way to do it is to have round tomato slices, full basil leaves, and round cheese slices stacked on top of each other. The colors are representative of the Italian flag (Margherita pizza?). Then put your finishing touches on it. Either way, it can't miss!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

French Laundry at Home

Haven't posted in some time, largely because I can't seem to find time to use the computer...Recently we had a dinner party at Mike Brown's house (Danny, Meredith, Mike, Laura, myself & Jennifer) where we did Lamb 3 ways and Mike made a dish from the French Laundry Cookbook. Never one to be outdone, I decided it was time to stretch my culinary skills and do some serious cooking at home.

First FL attempt was a relatively easy one, "Pacific Moi with Fresh Soybeans, Scallion and Radish Salad, and Soy-Temple Orange Glaze". I won't bore you with the actual details of the recipe, but would like to give some commentary. First of all, there is no way in hell one could ever get Pacific Moi in Augusta, GA; so I used the only "fresh" fish I could find, red snapper. The cooking was relatively simple, and I think the method for crisping the fish's skin is worth mentioning.

First of all, the FL makes very small servings of food, because they serve tasting menus only where they may serve up to 35 items! I bought a nice snapper filet and cut it into 3 1/2 by 1 inch pieces (I measured with a ruler) leaving the skin on. When crisping the skin, it is important that there be absolutely no water in it. I started by patting the skin dry with paper towels and then refrigerating for about an hour uncovered. When ready to cook, I heated about an 1/8 of an inch of grapeseed oil in my All Clad skillet over medium-high heat. Next, I took the blade of a knife and dragged it over the fish skin, pressing down firmly to force water to the surface, you can then squeegee off the water. I repeated this several times until the skin was dry. To cook, place the fish skin side down for about 2 1/2 minutes, then flip over and "kiss" the other side for about 30 seconds.

To plate, 3 tablespoons of orange glaze went down, topped by the soybean mixture, then the fish, and topped by the radish salad. This dish was awesome, preparation was a pain in the ass, but I would totally make this again in larger portions for a dinner party.

For better details, see the link to the French Laundry at Home. Up next is the awesome Highlands Bar & Grill Baked Grits!

Highlands Baked Grits! Mmmmm!

Frank Stitt's Southern Table is a must have if you want to see what Southern food should and can be. Highland's Bar & Grill in Birmingham is a perinneal top 25 US restaurant, Jen and I had the pleasure of dining there on our anniversary a few years back. Fell in love with the grits!

The recipe is quite cumbersome for grits, but well worth it and the result is almost identical to the restaurant's version. There is an alternate recipe on Epicurious, that has only a fraction of the ingredients used in Southern Table, I would recommend the book version...damn good!

Here's my mise:

I won't give the full details, but basically, you slow cook stone ground grits for about an hour until creamy. Stir in some parmesean and egg. Place the mixture in ramekins and bake for about 45 minutes in a water bath (like a custard or creme brulee). In the meantime, you make a tasty, buttery sauce and make a topping of mushrooms and julienned country ham. The results are phenomenal. My mom requested this for her birthday. I made these with a stuffed pork loin, collards, and molten chocolate cakes for desert. The grits stole the show :)

As in my previous post: if interested, I will forward the whole recipe. JW

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Give them Dawgs a bone!

Why must it be that every year we can't put USC away when we have the chance? I mean, I know the refs do little things here and there to keep games close. But that crew yesterday was as clueless of an officiating crew as I've seen in a while. Not just against us but also against USC. Both teams got gifts and got screwed at some point or another. The standouts were the pass interference call on the crappy pass to Mo Mass (offsetting penalties when they're both by the same team? Really?!?), the late hits by Bryan Evans and Chappas, and the delay of game with the nonfunctional play clocks.

We played ugly, and we won. How bad did you feel last year? That's right, move on. I thought these players won the game for us, though.

Brian Mimbs That was the punt of his life, and it couldn't have come at a better time. Why was Kevin Butler's kid in there punting? Overall, Mimbs had a great day and helped save it.

A.J. Green Whatever he's got on his hands, he needs to give it to a couple of other guys. But seriously, this dude is for real. The long catch on third down was a good catch, but but the short one on third down where he reached pretty far behind in midair was better.

Matthew Stafford He occasionally would help get us in some trouble, but the vast majority of the time, he bails us out. The pass to AJ on the right side was so accurate it was unreal. I bet there are a bunch of pros out there that would like to be able to throw a ball like that but can't. Curiously, I heard Richt talk about how Stafford comes to the line of scrimmage with something like 2-4 plays. If he audibles, he gives hand signals to switch to certain plays, if you watch carefully, you can tell just about what kind of play we're about to run. Let's put it this way: if I can figure it out I'm pretty sure that Tennessee and Florida can. TheQB "choice" zone read scramble for 30 yards, how huge was that?

Blair Walsh Welcome to the big time. 2/2 in his first SEC outing. Without those field goals, it's a different game. I wish we hadn't had to kick them.

Knowshon Moreno The touchdown run as many of runs all night were just will and determination. We're lucky to have him on our side, because I can imagine he's a nightmare to defend.

Reshad Jones It's a good thing he saved the game, because he had a few miscues that were hurting us. Coverage, late hit (nervous refs), missed interception, etc. In the end, he made the play he had to make.

So now, ASU, who is fresh of a loss to UNLV, football powerhouse that it is. Tickets are cheaper than they were, that's for sure! I made the early mistake of looking at the polls, and I need to stop doing it. UGA just has to take care of what it can control, and see what happens at the end. There's a lot of games to be played between now and then. I still like our chances! Thank GOD there's Chik-Fil-A in Arizona, that's all I've got to say.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

By the numbers: rank(ing)

Someone please tell me how a team that doesn't even play increases their number of #1 votes, and a team that comes out and dominates drops a couple of #1 votes in one of the polls? Does it have to do with the fact that NONE of the networks showed more than about 15 seconds worth of highlights in our game? Is it a continuation of the ESPN conspiracy against teams that aren't USC or OSU?
Here's what happened:

Week 1
AP Top 25
1. USC (21) 1-0 1,539
2. Georgia (20) 1-0 1,506
3. Ohio State (15) 1-0 1,497
4. Oklahoma (2) 1-0 1,432

USA Today Poll
1. USC (23) 1-0 1,462
2. Georgia (20) 1-0 1,442
3. Ohio State (10) 1-0 1,385
4. Oklahoma (2) 1-0 1,344
Week 2
AP Top 25
1. USC (33) 1-0 1,577
2. Georgia (23) 2-0 1,525
3. Oklahoma (2) 2-0 1,458
4. Florida (4) 2-0 1,438

USA Today' Poll
1. USC (34) 1-0 1,481
2. Georgia (18) 2-0 1,454
3. Oklahoma (3) 2-0 1,370
4. Florida (3) 2-0 1,306

There's nothing objective about this, and it's an indictment of the voting system. For the AP, 12 of Ohio State's 15 first place votes went to USC, we got the rest. The USA Today poll saw all 10 of OSU's first place votes go to USC and we dropped two votes. Net: gained one vote. Does that make any sense to anyone? And if you say that once you're #1 and don't lose you stay #1, then I would refer you back to last week where we were #1, didn't lose, and fell a spot.
The saving grace here is that voters actually did watch the OSU game and saw that they got a bullshit touchdown on a flag that should have been thrown during a punt return. Meanwhile, they struggled and were down for most of the game, scoring 14 in the final quarter. So, there went the 1 vs 2 matchup that everyone (read: talking heads)was hoping for, which I think is good.
The reason this drives me up the wall isn't about 1 and 2. It's about 2 and 3 and what could happen at the end of the year. It really doesn't matter if you're #1 at all during the season, and I do think it takes some pressure off of us to not be in that spot. I don't understand how or why we lost it, but it happened. The rules seem to change from week to week to justify the results. But, if we win the SEC with two losses (think UF/UT and a team from the west, neither of which are wild estimates), USC remains undefeated, and OSU finishes with 1 loss, where will we be?
If your team never has a chance from the start to do anything, will you keep hoping? Maybe we should ask a Gamecock fan for advice.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

You can't spell suck without USC!

The cluck and duck apparently has one play, and that's throw it to the tight end on a crossing route. If you can stop that and get a little bit of pressure on Smelley, that's a formula that has beaten them. As far as defense goes, a little misdirection goes a long way.
Good for Vandy winning against a ranked opponent at home for the first time in 16 years. You have to wonder about what it feels like to be their coach. Pretty good tonight, at least.
The main thing that got me thinking was the replay of the missed field goal that they had against UT last year. We were a foot from going to the SECCG and possibly playing in the BCS Championship. I wonder if the pollsters (who are fickle women with regard to UGA love) would have vaulted us up there had we won the SEC last year. I doubt it, they probably would have put USC. Just a word about that game: USC didn't sub until 1/3 of the way into the fourth quarter when they were already blowing out UVA. And all these ridiculous excuses about how UVA is in a BCS conference. They're awful. I bet GSU would've given 'em a run for their money, and maybe could have beaten them. No defense. USC had one play for negative yardage. Little offense. They scored one touchdown, and punted all day. They looked worse than UGA at the UT game last year. As if we don't already know it, it's a ratings ploy to get #1 playing #2, like a lot of people aren't already going to be watching that game. I wanna see what happens if we win the SEC with 2 losses, OSU wins the big 10 with 1 loss, USC wins the pac(k) 10 with 1 loss. That's right MFers. Sugar Bowl vs the big east winner or some other at-large mystery.
Ultimately, though, we have to quit playing FCS teams or non BCS conference teams. And the best part is regardless of how well we do or don't do this year, we could be better next year. Think of who's going, who might stay, and who's coming in.
Anyway, if I recall, GSB said it some time ago, "they've got a Jasper, a Casper, a Smelley, and a Succop. That just sucks." Of course, bad karma for me, and they're sure to win, unless we score 15 before they do.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Platesetters and grilldomes versus BGE

I hadn't figured out indirect cooking that well on the dome, and I'd broken a pizza stone or two in the meantime. I decided to do what about a bunch of eggheads do, and that's go out and buy a platesetter. I cooked on it a few times with the legs up and turned out some wonderful chickens and barbecue. Then I noticed the crack on my firebox and fire ring. The fire ring held up, but the box did not, promptly splitting in two pieces. It's still functional, but it's fragile. All this two months after having it.

I called and talked to the folks at Grilldome, and they thought it was the platesetter not allowing enough space around it, and setting a severely hot fire in the bottom with a cooler dome temperature. I'm not convinced but they're sending me a new one anyway. What I can't understand is the huge difference between BGE and GD with regard to how they are constructed on the inside. Should be about the same. Both have the fire rings and boxes.

The other thing I was doing was lighting using isopropyl alcohol. If you think it sounds like a good idea, it's not. I think there's too much heat shock as the dome temp gets to 700+ in a few seconds with this method. Now my indirect setup is a doubledecker grate that you flip upside down, put a drip pan on this, and there you have it. I've also noticed that it's harder to get it to that low temp with shutting the whole thing down for a while and then opening to paper thin slits. I guess I could put a pizza stone on it, and I ordered from GD which should be more heat resistant than the other ones that I had. Anyone have any comments?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pancetta-wrapped asparagus with sauce gribiche

Wrap asparagus in whatever you wish: bacon, prosciutto. Typically something pretty fatty. A vinaigrette or something with a good acid content does great with the fatty yet mildly bitter asparagus. Mario's recipe calls for a citrus juice/zest sauce which balances nicely. Sauce gribiche is one I picked up out of Bourdain's Les Halles book, and it's like an egg salad vinaigrette. It gives a nice unusual flavor that you wouldn't otherwise have thought to put together, and is very distinctive.

Small aspargus, cut fresh on the bottom like cigars

Pancetta (see substitutions above)

Wrap the pancetta around the asparagus, and leave the tips uncovered. Put them on a baking sheet in the fridge and let them set for about 20-30 minutes or so.

Suacue Gribiche

One hard boiled egg, chopped fine

4 midget sweet pickles or cornichons, depending on what you have

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

Olive oil (AB recipe calls for peanut oil)

Salt, pepper to taste

Tbsp of dijon mustard

Lemon juice from 1 lemon

Add the ingredients sans oil to a small mixing bowl, and whisk together. Drizzle in olive oil just like you would a vinaigrette, but you can do more like a 2:1 ratio instead of the traditional 3:1.

Grill the asparagus, careful to not overbrown the meat. Drizzle with the sauce, and serve. Mario says to serve with sea salt for dipping. If you're going to do that, then lay off the salt in the gribiche.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Grillin' cookbook

There's Boy Meets Grill, Boy Gets Grill, The BBQ Bible, Mastering the Grill. And then there's Italian Grill by Mario Batali. This book is awesome, and if you've ever seen his show, it's in a similar style. Ingredients are king while minimalist preparation is queen. Most of the stuff in here can be prepared quickly. There is no reference to ceramic cookers, and I think if he ever worked with one, the results would be pretty awesome.


Mortadella with robiola "burritos"
Pancetta-wrapped asparagus with Limoncello sauce
Bistecca fiorentina
HUGE section on seafood, including mussells and calamari.

I can't recommend it enough if you're serious about grilling and you have any interest in Mario's cooking style, which I really happen to like.

Tomatillo salmon

Light posting, as I've been discovering the wonders of ceramic grilling, and let me tell you it's been pretty awesome. It has furious power that must be tamed and reigned in to keep it from going out of control, and yet if you adjust properly, it holds slow and low like a champ. My problem is what do I call the thing? It's not really an egg, it's a grilldome, even though it does the same thing. The black bullet? The BBQ time machine? The eggdome?

I've got some pictures and when I can put them together I'll put them in. Here's what's come off of it so far:

Tomatillo salsa salmon fillets
2 salmon fillets seasoned with salt and pepper
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded/cored, and minced
Put those ingredrients and 2 tbsp of butter in a foil pack and cook over high heat 10 min or so
When you take them off, squeeze a whole lime on the fish and finish with tomatillo salsa and cilantro garnish.

Tomatillo salsa
8-10 good sized tomatillos, husked and washed, 2 jalapeno peppers seeded/cored
Brushed with oil, blackened on the grill at high heat (450-500)
Throw them in the blender with 2 tsp of salt, couple of grinds of pepper, juice of 1 lime, a small wedge of shallot, and good portion of chopped cilantro (to taste).
Pulse low speed, but if you want it smoother then let it blend for a while.
I think there's a previous recipe on here for it, but you can check and see.

Serve that with herb salad, homemade balsamic vinaigrette, grilled bread, and the coldest beer you can find.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Semi-Korean short ribs, roasted Buffalo fish, summer salad, Burrata cheese and grilled bread

Really are the ones that you come up with on the fly, using the ingredients you have, and that you enjoy with friends. Don't get me wrong, a night out on the town is great, too, but when you by good fortune instead of preconceived notion come up with a good menu, it's something to celebrate.

I've been a little bit radio silent over the last couple of weeks. Let's just say that we're probably going to have to change the name of the blog instead of I'll leave it at that. Also, I've been trying to cook almost every day on the egg to learn about it and how it handles temperature. As others on here can attest, it's relatively easy to get it hot, easy to keep it slow and low, but hard to get to both in the same time period. There will be many recipes to follow as the experimentation continues. I'm still trying to figure out ribs, having not quite gotten it right, yet.

In a spontaneous dinner with some good friends/neighbors we came up with this menu:

Korean-style whole short ribs

Miso paste marinated Buffalo fish fillet

Burrata cheese spread on charcoal-grilled Tuscan bread

Summer herb/tomato/cucumber salad with lemon-fennel vinaigrette

Peach cobbler ice cream

Korean-style whole short ribs

I wholly admit that I used the marinade recipe from Bobby Flay's Grill It! who was guest-hosted by Judianne Woo, a pastry chef in New York.

It's pretty easy, but here's the difference. I was at Whole Foods, and they didn't have the thin-sliced Korean style ribs, they just had the big ones. I decided what the hell, and tried it anyway. The recipe I used called for 5 lbs, and I think it would have worked fine for 6 whole short ribs. Brown sugar while you make the marinade, then soy sauce, garlic, onion, salt, pepper, whole pear, rice vinegar, and sesame oil round it out. Marinade overnight in a large gallon freezer bag in the fridge.

The hard part? What I've struggled most with is figuring out how long to cook ribs, and I have erred on overcooking because I hate having them undercooked. I set the dome up for indirect cooking by just placing heavy-duty foil over the main grate, then put the ribs on there. About 2-3 hours around 300 or so, and they were incredible.

Miso marinade Buffalo fish fillet

Have to admit, I've never had it before, and I wasn't really sure what it was. It's freshwater, caught recently and in a midwest farmer's Market (Soulard). Miso paste, fresh ground pepper, a freezer bag, and about 24 hours was all it took for prep. Dome to 400-450, and wrap the fish in foil. Poke holes at 15 minutes with a fork to let some steam out, and in about 25 minutes or so, you have some of the most buttery, creamy fish I've ever had. It's not a strong flavor, and it is bony, so watch out. Could conceivably do the butter/cilantro/salt/pepper treatment to it as well. It's fresh fish. Don't screw it up.

Grilled bread, burrata cheese

While I thought I had finally found buffalo mozzarella, I had not. However, it was better. Again, Whole Foods gets the credit for having it, but if you didn't know what it was or had not ever heard of it, it's stealthy. It like a combination of water packed mozzarella with a super creamy center. I thought if it were chilled enough that it could go on a salad, but really, it's too creamy for that. Think of it more as a spread for crostini with maybe anchovie, salt, and some olive oil. The bread, well, just find some good crusty Italian or French-style bread. The bigger and more dense, the better. Drizzle with good EVOO, sprinkle with sea or kosher salt, and I like to put some Herbes de Provence on there for good measure. Put on the grill at 400-500 and watch it carefully, because it will burn before you know it. Pull it off when it's got good grill marks and is golden brown, spread some of the burrata and maybe some veg from the summer salad, and you've really got a meal all by itself. Goes great with a Merlot, Cab, Cotes du Rhone, pick your favorite, just make it be RED.