Coffee BBQ Rub

Coffee BBQ RubCoffee Que-in’
When we “sprang forward” a week or so ago I celebrated by cleaning my grill because nothing says bring on the sunny weather like a nicely grilled steak. It is hard to nicely grill a steak though when your grill is full of gunk. So I got to scrubbing and I replaced a few burned out shields and I was ready to rock and roll.

Spring tends to be the busiest time of the year for my household so having the ability to throw something on the grill for a legit but wicked fast dinner is essential. So far I have thrown salmon, chicken and pork chops on the grill and life has been less stressful and more tasty. It has also been more tiring if only because we “lost an hour”. Seriously, I still feel like I haven’t caught up yet. I have been drinking more of my daily allotted coffee just to get through. So in a fit of genius one afternoon when I was trying to decide what to have for dinner, I remembered a dry rub with the very two things that are making my world work right now: grilled meat and coffee.

If I had to pick a cut of steak that was my go-to for grilling, especially mid-week, it would be a hanger steak. Relatively inexpensive, a hanger steak has a nice beefy flavor that is not too dry and it cooks quickly. The big beef flavor means it can stand up to some potent dry rubs including one of my favorites that uses coffee. (See what I did there?) Coffee is not a new ingredient in BBQ. Pitmasters have been using it in the rubs or mops for a long time but it’s still not something you see all that often.

This rub recipe is adapted from the Lee Brothers who authored one of my favorite southern cooking books I added some garlic powder to the mix ‘cause it’s how I roll but feel free to leave it out. You could also play with the chili powder a bit and add some cayenne for heat or chipotle for the smokey flavor. Rub it on your cut of choice and leave it for an hour or so before grilling or even overnight in the fridge. This rub also can be used as a condiment on the side after cooking.

Coffee BBQ Rub Recipe
Yields about 1 cup

Read more…

Irish Porter Cake

Irish Porter CakePorter-able Breakfast
I’ve sorta been into cakes lately. I made the chocolate Bundt cake from last week for a friend that was in town and joined us for dinner on Saturday. Surprisingly, there were leftovers which meant I had a piece with coffee for breakfast the next morning.(I know, my devotion to health knows no bounds.) It was glorious. So it should come as no surprise that while searching for something a wee bit Irish for this week, I found myself thumbing through Irish cake recipes.

When you think of Irish sweets, the first thing that comes to most people’s mind is scones or shortbread. Well, at least that’s what I think of.(I blame it on the Irish butter. Can’t get enough of it.) While making some scones this Sunday morning for St. Patrick’s Day would be fantastic idea, (I mean do you really need it to be a special occasion for scones to be a good idea? Or shortbread for that matter?) I will be on the road before the sun is up to attend yet another sporting event which means breakfast needs to be portable. So cake for breakfast it is! Again. Any excuse, right?

This Porter cake is an Irish classic and goes well with any meal of the day.

Irish Porter Cake
Yields 10 to 12 servings  Read more…

Fudgy Bundt Cake

Fudgy Bundt CakeCoffee Cooking
I wasn’t a big coffee lover until I went away to college. Even then I only started drinking it because “everyone was doing it”. See, I went to college in the Pacific Northwest during the early days of micro-breweries and the use of words like Venti and Grande. It was a good time to be in Oregon.

It took a while but eventually, it got to the point where I had to have a cup in the morning to even have a chance at functioning. And yes, I am well aware of the signs of caffeine addiction.

The actual flavor of coffee has always appealed to me even before I became one of the millions who must have their daily infusion of dark-roasted nirvana so that they can play well with others. From a young age, anything coffee, mocha or cappuccino flavored drew me in like the siren’s song. Nine times out of ten, if I was ordering any sort of ice cream or frozen yogurt I would go for the coffee or espresso flavored one. If it had fudge and some nuts swirled into it, so much the better. Same goes for cakes and cupcakes.

When I started to bake, I was pleasantly surprised that coffee was a common ingredient in any sort of chocolate cake, cupcake, or cookie. Turns out, coffee enhances the flavor of the chocolate in many desserts without making the result actually taste of coffee. Using coffee gives the chocolate a dark. fudgy richness.

The recipe below is a perfect example. It is a simple chocolate cake recipe adapted from Samin Nosrat’s book Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. It is one of my favorites because of its density of flavor and moist lushness. It’s a great ending to a nice meal or even better as cupcakes for a fun event.

Because it’s pretty rich, this cake is best served topped with fresh whipped cream and some sliced strawberries or a light dusting of powdered sugar. The more decadent among us might go for some cream cheese frosting.

Fudgy Bundt Cake
Adapted from Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat
Yields two 8-inch cakes or one bundt cake  Read more…

Turkey Chili

Turkey ChiliShut Off the Hose!
Ok. I’m done with the water. I wake up every morning and dread looking at the weather report. I fear I’m starting to grow webbed feet. On top of all that, it’s been rather cold. And, don’t get me started about the snow.

In all fairness, February is usually a rainy, gloomy month but this is unreal. I can honestly say that in all of my 45 years, while I have always heard them urge caution and carry chains, I have never heard of the Highway Patrol and other transit authorities asking people to not drive up to Tahoe because it’s just that bad. Squaw Valley reported this morning that their snowfall total on the upper mountain for February was 300 inches. That’s 25 feet people. It’s great if you’re a skier (or a ski resort) but that’s just nuts.

And if I hear the phrase, ”well, we need the water” again I’m going to lose it. It may be true and it’s always good to have more than we need but I think we’re good for now. The draught map of California shows most of the state with no drought conditions as of February 19. It’s time to shut off the hose…

Weather like what we have been experiencing always makes me think of soups, stews, and chilis. There is something about a rainy night and a hot bowl of goodness that just seems right. Over the weekend I made this turkey chili. It’s fast. It’s tasty. And it goes great with cornbread.

I made sure to stash the leftovers in the freezer for warmer days when the sun is shining—when watching a baseball game. And, a chili dog is the perfect accompaniment.

Turkey Chili
Yields 6 servings (at least!)

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds ground turkey
2 cups coarsely chopped onions
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 large red bell pepper, cored, deveined and coarsely chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, cored, deveined and finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
3 cups canned diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 15-ounce cans of red kidney beans, drained
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained

Optional garnishes
chopped avocado
chopped green onion
shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream
Sliced lime

Directions
Gather and prep all the ingredients.

Heat the oil over high heat in a large, heavy pot and add the turkey meat. Cook until lightly browned chopping down and stirring with the side of a heavy kitchen spoon to break up any lumps (about 5 minutes).

Add the onions, garlic, pepper, jalapeño pepper, oregano, bay leaves, chili powder, and cumin. Stir to blend well. Cook for 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, chicken broth, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

Add the drained beans and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes longer.

Serve in bowls with preferred toppings.

Sichuan Wontons in Chili Oil

Sichuan Wontons in Chili OilMy Little Dumpling
Most people when they are learning to cook start off simple. Scrambled eggs. Roast chicken. Pancakes. The first things my daughter taught herself to make were pork dumplings.

To be fair, dim sum and all other Chinese dumplings are basically her favorite food. So, it makes sense that this is what she would want to know how to make. And, this is pretty much her M.O. She finds something that she is interested in, become obsessive about it, and then sets off to master it. And, once she has, she moves on to the next thing. Her current obsession? French Macarons. And there is now almond flour on every surface of my home…

As luck would have it, our cookbook club was cooking through a Chinese cookbook at the time she wanted to learn about dumpling—and there happened to be a wonton recipe that we decided to try. So I figured it would be a fun day of bonding with my daughter and teaching her a new skill. Little did I know I was about to be schooled…

Making the filling for the dumplings is fairly uncomplicated. All you are doing is just mixing the ingredients together. The difficult part of making dumplings is in the folding of the wrapper. They can be tricky and it takes some practice to get it right. The first few that I produced were misshapen and scary and the filling kept squishing out. My (at that time) ten-year-old daughter’s? Perfect. So perfect, in fact, she had to show me and my many years of cooking experience where I was going wrong. I have no idea where she learned to do it, but apparently, my daughter is a dumpling prodigy. And I, a mere mortal, bow to her greatness.

We did end up having a great time working together and the dumplings were so good. The best part was sitting down after it was all done to devour them with spicy chili sauce…

Sichuan Wontons in Chili Oil 
Adapted from Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking
by Fuchsia Dunlop
Yields 4 servings, about 15 to 20 wontons

Ingredients
For the wontons
1/2-ounce piece of ginger, unpeeled
5-ounces ground pork
1/2 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon dry sherry
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
Salt and ground pepper to taste
3 tablespoons chicken stock
3 tablespoons finely sliced spring onion greens
7-ounce package of wonton wrappers
Flour for dusting

For the dipping sauce
4 tablespoons light or tamari soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar
5 tablespoons of chili oil, including sediment
3 heaping teaspoons of crushed garlic
2 tablespoons of finely sliced spring onion greens

Directions
Make the wonton filling
Crush the ginger with the flat of a cleaver or a rolling pin and put it in a cup with just enough cold water to cover.

Place the pork, egg, sherry, and sesame oil in a bowl with 1 1/2 tsp of the ginger water and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well. Mix in the stock, 1 tablespoon at a time. Finally, add the spring onion greens.

Make the wontons
Fill a small bowl with cold water. Take a wonton wrapper and lay it flat in one hand. Use a butter knife to press about 1 teaspoon of the pork mixture into the center of the wrapper. Dip a finger into the cold water, run it around the edges of the wrapper, and fold it diagonally in half. Press the edges tightly together and lay on a baking tray that has been lightly dusted with flour.

Place a large pan of water on high heat and bring to a boil.

Prepare the sauce
While waiting for the water to boil, prepare the sauce. Set out three or four serving bowls. In each bowl, place 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon of the sugar, 1-1/2 tablespoons of the chili oil, and 1 heaping teaspoon of crushed garlic. Stir the ingredients to blend.

Cook the wontons
When the water has come to a boil, drop in the wontons. Stir gently to prevent sticking. When the water returns to a rolling boil, pour in a small cup of cold water to calm it down. Allow the water to come to a rolling boil and repeat this one more time. When the water has come to a boil for the third time, the wontons should be cooked through (slice one open to make sure).

Remove the wontons with a slotted spoon, drain well, and divide them between the prepared serving bowls. Scatter each bowl with some of the chopped spring onion greens. Stir everything together and serve immediately.