BBQ to Live For

You know you have had a great meal when you smile all the way home and that’s the way it was when I went to Brown’s ( a very tiny and out of the way place in North Palm Springs (yes, the California one).

The menu read like I was someplace in the Deep South and the food tasted like I was. Collard greens done to perfection; red beans and rice that made me smile AND their mac n chez is AWESOME. I opted for the baby back ribs and they were “fall off the bone” done – just the way I like them.20160930_163558

It is a simple paper menu and more on their “board” to choose from.

Steel Cut Oats ala Don


In the beginning there was a can of oats. This is my brand of choice and I will admit to not having tested any others. The recipe on the can is relatively good and I add time because I like it a bit thicker. I also add dried berries and raisins and “seeds and grain” to the mix. These added items I usually get at Trader Joe’s – I like their jumbo raisins, and dried berry medley. They also have chia seeds and a mix of exotic grains (amaranth, flax, in a yellow bag).


Water – 4 cups
Oats – 1 cup
Raisins – 1/3 cup
Dried berries – 1/4 cup
Chia seeds – 2 tbsp
Grain mix – 1/3 cup
Butter (UNSALTED) – 2 tbsp
Half and Half – 2 tbsp + 2 tbsp per serving
Vanilla Bourbon – 1 tsp
Salt – 1/2 tsp


In a sauce pan or saucier add water, salt, raisins, berries, seeds, grain mix and butter (not the oats). Bring to a gentle boil with a lid on and then remove the lid and add the oats. Stir until well combined and reduce to a simmer and cook without a lid for about 30 minutes or so (sometimes I set my timer for 40 minutes). Add in the vanilla and the first 2 tbsp of half and half. Continue to watch for about 10 minutes. The finished consistency should be thick and not runny. Serve with a measure of half and half.

A final word:

I am picky about the things I buy. I prefer better quality ingredients. I only get vanilla bourbon because it has a fuller taste and usually less alcohol. I also like better quality in my salt, pink Himalayan or my latest favorite is Great Salt Lake salt and I NEVER buy a round canister of table salt – it is not allowed in the house. The leftovers do great in the refrigerator and this is one of the very few things I reheat in the microwave.

I Call it Faux-Sagna

In the World of Pasta Dishes Lasagna is Hard to Beat

My version is, after all, MY VERSION and I make it the way I like. Instead of sheet pasta I use small extruded shapes (think penne or gemelli or casarecce) and, while I am not really willing to share all the details, know that it is layers of “pasta with sauce” and a “meat” layer in the middle and a ton of cheese on the top.


Baked until “GBD” and portioned out to eat. This one has penne and Italian sausage and almost a pound of cheese on top.


The Bread

Sometimes in life it is really all about the bread.

After a period of time where we were low carb or no carb, we are back to eating more of the healthier choices in the carb world, including fresh baked bread. I haven’t made bread in years – it was either when we were living near Lake Tahoe or before that when we were in Napa. As a result I had forgotten how much I enjoyed the process and I also realized how much more I know about the chemistry and mechanics of “building” bread.

The Basic Recipe for Bread

All breads evolve from this basic formula – variations will include adding different enhancements to flavor or transform from basic white bread to something else.

Water – filtered or bottled: 12 oz (1 1/2 cups)
Bread Flour – not All purpose or pastry – a high protein bread flour – my preference is King Arthur Organic Bread Flour – a note here to remind everyone that measuring by volume is subject to the temperatures and humidity level of your particular area and bag of flour – start with 3 cups and be prepared to add up to 1 more cup.
Yeast – I prefer SAF Instant – doesn’t require the water to be warm or the exercise of proofing – also instant yeast has the best result for growth – 2 tbsp (that is tablespoons).
Malt Syrup – without getting into the chemistry of this it is the best way to feed the yeast and have it form tiny bubbles in your dough instead of large bubbles – 2 tbsp (dip your measuring spoon in grape seed or other oil first and it won’t stick).
Salt – necessary for the taste and, in spite of massive information to the contrary, does absolutely nothing to inhibit the yeast – 1/2 tsp (teaspoon).
Oil – I like grape seed oil for most cooking – alternatives are coconut oil or olive oil – I don’t like most of the other “cooking” oils – 2 tbsp.

We have a Kitchen-Aid stand mixer – while not an absolutely necessary piece of equipment, the alternative is, or can be, a great deal of physical labor in kneading.


Add all the basic ingredients to the work bowl and mix at low speed using your dough hook. Mixing can take 5 minutes or more and this is the time during which you will be adding that “additional” flour by the tablespoon. When you have reached the proper mix, the dough will be one pliable mass and not stick to the bottom of the work bowl. Take your time with this, less is better than more. After the dough has transformed into the wonderful pliable mass, move the speed to medium and let it work for 15 minutes. If you are working your dough by hand, then this is a process of 30 to 45 minutes of hard physical labor to knead and work your dough.

The First Rise

Dough must be given time to grow into the amazing delight it will become. I use an oven, turn it on the lowest setting for a few minutes until it is “warm” not hot. For the dough to rise I use a crock bowl and coat the entire inside with oil. Remove your dough from the mixer and put on a lightly floured board to make into a ball. Place the ball in the oiled bowl and cover with a towel and put in the warm oven for an hour – make sure the oven is OFF.

The Second Rise

After the hour of first rise, dump your dough onto the floured board and “punch” down to remove the bubbles. Form into a ball and return to the bowl and make sure the outside is still oiled. Cover with the towel and put back into the warm oven.

The Final Rise and Bake

This is also your final prep. Dump the dough ball on your floured board and form into a proper round ball. Place a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet or other flat item (this will serve as your peel) and sprinkle a tablespoon of course corn meal on to the parchment paper. Put your ball of dough on the parchment and cover with plastic wrap. After 30 minutes put your stone (pizza stone works) in the oven and turn the temperature to 475. If you have a cast iron skillet put it on the bottom of the oven empty. In 15 minutes more make a pattern of “cuts” in the top of your dough with a sharp knife and brush the entire top with a slurry of cornstarch and water. Gently slide the parchment and dough onto the stone and reduce the temperature to 425. Dump a cup of water in the hot cast iron to create steam and close the oven. Do not open the oven door for 30 minutes, then check the bread to make sure the top is brown. If not brown, then wait 5 minutes more.

Remove the parchment and bread to a cooling rack for 30 minutes.


Turkey Day 2015 – And the Brisket

The amazing and spectacular Turkey Day brisket is now in the smoker – tipping the scales at somewhere around 10 lbs (yes, it is the big end) had been in the rub since Monday night and now will be in the smoke until sometime approaching noon tomorrow (if you are counting, that makes over 16 hours) – the offering includes 4 bottles of Victoria beer in the water and is being perfumed by pecan wood chips and Jack Daniels barrel chips and will also have more beer to “drink” during the period of magic.

Cauliflower Puree with Bacon and Gorgonzola

I searched for ideas and recipes that would make the puree a bit less watery and add some extra flavors and discovered that there weren’t any. Thus I created my own recipe and then discovered that I didn’t take a photo and nothing on the web looks like mine. I did not use any added salt, because the bacon and cheese have enough and adding any more would make it taste salty.

Cauliflower comes in heads and also in packages of florets. Either way works and I used about one pound of cauliflower for this recipe with yielded enough for 4 servings.

Toss your cauliflower in a large bowl with your spice blend (choose your favorite salt free blend – or make your own) and the fat/oil (I used bacon fat for this, you can use any kind of fat or oil you like) and spread the cauliflower out in a baking dish. Place in the oven at 350 F for about 45 minutes (check after about 30 minutes to make sure you do not cook it too much – test with a sharp knife, it should be firm, and mostly cooked. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Put the cauliflower into your food processor and pulse or run for about 10 seconds. Add the half and half and butter and process for another 10 seconds (or until it becomes smooth. Break up the bacon and add to the processor and pulse or run for another 10 seconds (or until incorporated).

Dump into a non-stick saucepan and put on the lowest setting of your stove, lid on. This can go for about 30 minutes and will remove more of the extra water. Just before serving remove from the heat and add the Gorgonzola (or your favorite blue cheese) and stir to incorporate.


Cauliflower – about a pound
Bacon – 5 rashers (crispy)
Gorgonzola crumbles – about 3 oz
Fat or oil (about 2 tablespoons)
Spice blend – about 1/2 teaspoon (salt-free is best)
Half and Half or Cream – about 2 oz
Butter – 1/3 stick (unsalted)


Oh My Goat Curry


Yes, this one is an absolute Oh My!!!! The original recipe was “borrowed” from someone on the web and modified to suit me, my tastes and the ingredients I have available.

Many markets either have or can get goat meat. I know that most of the Asian markets and the Latino markets have frozen goat in stock. For this recipe I used a leg quarter of frozen goat. The butcher cut it into 3 pieces for me – leg piece and the shoulder in two hunks. I also use a crock pot for the cooking process. Some of the spices can be whole and toasted and ground fresh (up to you or just be lazy and use already ground). Also, if you do not have

  • 2 pounds goat meat
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 inch knob fresh ginger, minced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • 4 cloves (whole)
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 2 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1-2 Serrano pepper or Jalapeno, minced – or use a teaspoon of crushed red chili
Add later:
  • 1 (28 ounce) can organic diced tomatoes (I use San Marzano whole in the can and mash with a potato masher)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala, add more to taste
  • ½ – 1 cup chicken stock, depending on how thick you’d like the curry
  1. In a coffee grinder, finely grind the whole spices.
  2. In crock pot, add all ingredients listed except tomatoes, water and garam masala (you will add this at the end).
  3. Set to high and cook for 4 hours – stirring the curry every hour or so.
  4. After four hours, add tomatoes, garam masala and chicken stock. Cook on high for another hour or until the meat is tender. Mine went an extra 3 hours and was magically fall off the bone done.


More Grilled Pork Chops – Sous Vide – Even Better

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Grilled Pork Chop with Asparagus tips

Using a different setting on the sous vide they came out a bit more towards medium rare and a bit more juicy. The two boneless loin pork chops were dry rubbed with a wonderful rub we get from the Savory Spice Shop called San Andreas Achiote Rub. They went into a gallon baggie and into the water pot at 125F for about 2 hours. Next was the grill – we have an infrared gas grill and it was on high. About 3 minutes per side and another 2 minutes on both long edges.

Here are the rest of the photos:


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The Best Fried Chicken


Southern Style and Deep Fried


2 1/3 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons salt
One 3 1/2 pound whole chicken, cut into eight pieces
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
 2 quarts oil for the deep fryer *

Cooking Instructions

The secret to the best fried chicken is keeping the oil at the correct temperature by using a thermometer, you can be sure the oil is the right temperature before adding the chicken. After frying the chicken, keep it warm in a 200 F oven while the rest of the pieces are cooked.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 2 cups buttermilk and salt. Place chicken pieces in bowl, turning to coat all pieces. Cover well and refrigerate for one hour.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, thyme, basil, oregano, pepper and garlic. Add the remaining 1/3 cup buttermilk. Using your fingers, rub the buttermilk into the flour mixture evenly until it resembles course, wet sand.

Dip each piece of chicken into the flour coating, turning to coat evenly. Shake chicken gently to remove excess flour. Place pieces on a wire rack over a baking sheet.

Heat oil in deep fryer to 375 F. Place chicken pieces in hot oil, 3 pieces at a time. Fry for 10 to 12 minutes. Check for even browning. At this time the oil should be about 300 F. Fry until a deep golden brown. Transfer chicken to a clean wire rack lined with paper towels. Let stand 5 minutes to drain and serve.

Serves 4 to 6

* Cooking oil choices are: grape seed oil, peanut oil, corn oil, canola oil, vegetable shortening