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

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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.

Bacon Cheeseburger Pasta

Bacon Cheeseburger PastaSuper Sized
In case you haven’t quite figured it out yet, food is a big deal in my family. If there is any event going on the chances are real good that I am planning some sort of food celebration to go with it.

And, there are a few specific days that my family has determined to be caloric free-for-alls. New Years’ day is one. Super Bowl Sunday is another.

As a general rule, I tend to base my Super Bowl nosh around the two teams competing that year. Not gonna lie but I’m pretty sick of the Patriots and their clam chowder. So I am going to call an audible and go in a different direction.

A week or so ago I was flipping through one of my many magazines in search of something to feed a crowd and came across a recipe for a Bacon Cheeseburger Pasta. I have to admit I was intrigued. I mean, it sounds good in theory but has the potential to be kinda gross.

My son, who happened to be sitting on the couch with me at the time, had a very different reaction. Apparently, the idea of cheese, ground beef and bacon mixed together with pasta is a fourteen-year-old boy’s idea of food nirvana. (He’s all about the meat and carbs.) He’s so excited, in fact, that he has been conducting daily check-ins with me to make sure that I am still going to make this for Super Bowl Sunday. And, I have repeatedly assured him I will. You would think this is life or death…

I am skeptical. Granted, not everything has to be haute cuisine—and people have been eating cheeseburger mac for decades. I am probably more afraid of the fact that I will love it and crave it for the rest of my days…much like an actual cheeseburger.

Bacon Cheeseburger Pasta
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
Yields 6 servings Read more…

Grilled Pork Chops with Sweet Lemongrass Marinade

Winter Fancy Food Show 2019News from the SF Fancy Food Show
The Fancy Food Show was held this week at the newly renovated Moscone Center. And, I can honestly say it was the most fun I’ve had at the show in a number of years. It was considerably larger with more vendors than had been there previously (which is not surprising). You can always tell how well the economy is doing by the number of vendors packing the pavilions. I can’t really say that there was one obvious overall theme to what I saw at the show, what I can say is that this was a year of innovation and exploration.

In shows past, certain categories have dominated the landscape. Last year you couldn’t take a step without running into vendors with jerky or meat sticks. It was jerky here, jerky there, jerky everywhere. Before the jerky, we navigated the very crowded category of coconut water and vitamin water craze. And don’t get me started on the chocolate years…Yes, there really is such a thing as too much chocolate. This year there was no dominant item. Variety was everywhere. If I had to sum it up in three words they would be: Innovative, multi-cultural, and female.

I chose Innovative because there were plenty of vendors who took a good product and made it better. For example, there was one company that proved that peanut butter is not just for the lunch box crowd. Their Spicy Thai Peanut butter was fantastic and would be great thinned out and used with chicken or directly into a salad dressing. Another company was not happy to simply produce great honey. Instead, they decided to combine the health benefits of honey with other ingredients like turmeric, black garlic, and calendula for great tasting honey that not only improves your health but ups your cheese plate game. Finally, there’s the beverage from Japan that looks like beer and tastes like beer but has no calories, sugars, carbs etc. It’s basically water and it’s all natural—blew my mind.

Last year the influence of Korean cooking was everywhere. This year the flavor doors to the rest of Asia have been thrown open. We tasted a fresh lemongrass paste made by a local vendor that was heaven. (Look for that on our shelves soon.)

One of the items in the “New and Exciting” section was a puffed water lily seed snack that you would swear was popcorn—but with more protein, less fat and fewer calories. Copper Cow Coffee offers coffee addicts the intense coffee flavor and sweet indulgence of organic sustainable grown Vietnamese coffee but in a portable single-serve pour-over set. And they are women-owned…

This brings me to my last word: female. There were a lot more booths promoting the products produced by women-owned businesses. Now, it may have seemed like more because those businesses were making it a point to let people know that they were owned by women. And, that’s fine by me. The fact that being a women-owned business is being presented as a positive thing is what makes it great. One such business is Muddle & Wilde which produces elegant citrus-based drink mixers that can be combined with your favorite liquor or added to sparkling water for a refreshing soda. They are fantastic!

As I sit here pouring over the stack of sales sheets and informational brochures that I collected, I feel energized and excited about what’s to come in the food industry this year. We’ll try to keep you up to date when something we loved from the show arrives. Until then, I have this recipe on my mind as I think about that lemongrass paste….

Grilled Pork Chops with Sweet Lemongrass Marinade
Adapted from Charles Phan’s Vietnamese Home Cooking
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