Saturday, January 31, 2009

Hyping my Super Bowl food.

Since my beloved Saints didn't make the Super Bowl yet again, I don't have a favorite this year, but I do pull for the underdog. What a story it would be if the Cards win this one. I will be home watching all the Hype getting my last big NFL fix before the off season. I decided to do a Sports Bar theme for my food. After Church we will start with Nachos while the grill gets to temp. Not your standard Nachos made with that gloppy, runny, tasteless, excuse for cheese that pours from a can. I have some extra sharp cheese that will sit high upon a bed of crisp corn chips, green onions, black beans and Chipotle taco ground beef. Next we will have some homemade steamed Chinese pork dumplings, served with two dipping sauces, both homemade. One is a sweet and sour, the other is an Asian soy sauce based. The final course is chicken wings, but not just any wings. They are marinating in an Asian marinade made of garlic, green onions, ginger, May Ploy, (a sweet chili sauce), rice vinegar, and lime juice. I have made a ranch blue cheese dipping sauce for the wings. The wings will be grilled of course. I hope your team wins or at least you enjoy some good food. I'll post some pictures tomorrow.

Good Cooking.

p.s. I got caught up in the game and didn't take pictures. Sorry.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

J. Michaels

My Church small group met at J. Michael's restaurant New Years Eve to have dinner. I was very disappointed. I have been told that New Years Eve is the worst night of the year to eat out because most restaurants are down to a skeleton crew and the ones who are working really don't want to be there. Both my wife and I have eaten there on separate occasions and we had similar comments on the food. My wife tried the gumbo and said it tasted burnt. As anyone knows, if you burn a roux it will ruin the gumbo. The only option is to trough it out and start over. I tried the famous roast beef sandwich which came open face, drowned in gravy. The gravy also tasted burnt. What's up??? Maybe I could give them a lesson in roux making.

At the small group dinner I tried to stay safe and went with a combo plate of fried shrimp and oysters. The order was accompanied by Fry's and what was called pepper slaw. My thought was the pepper slaw would be made with strips of bell pepper, right? It was cabbage, a wet mayo based dressing, and onions, lots of big chunks of onions. It was all I could taste. I like tarter sauce and make my own at home. Real tarter sauce has mayo, onions, capers, dill pickle, and a touch of lemon juice. Oddly enough this tarter sauce was a loose mayo concoction which was overridden with guess what, onions. Large diced, strong tasting, onions. It was unbearable. The shrimp and oysters were OK but the coating was not very crisp nor did it cling to the seafood as it should. A friend at the table got a plate of raw oysters which were large and beautiful. Obviously not the same ones used to make my dinner with. My oysters were small.

I know J. Michael's has been around for years and has a local following, but this just confirms my suspicions that mediocre food in Panama City rules the day.

I give J. Michaels 1 star.

J Michael's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Why do we like to gnaw ribs?

It's simple. It's part of our make up. It's in our DNA. It's primal man. Let go back in time.

Man's first cooked meal was BBQ. Our ancestors lived in caves and were hunter/gatherers. Before fire man ate raw. Then one day cromag wakes up, steps out of his cave, and has a big morning yawn. Except this time there is a different smell in the air. It's acrid but enticing. He follows his nose and discovers fire. Probably a grass or bush fire started by lightning. After he burns himself a few times he learns to control fire and to bring it back to the cave. It provides light, warmth, and security against other animals. One day he brings home a kill and the family enjoys a fest around the fire. The carcass is left by the fire and in the morning when Og wakens he finds the meat has changed. It's darker, easier to pull, and easier to chew and digest. BBQ was born and we have had a love for it ever since, which leads me to today's dinner.

Baby Back ribs. For the last two hours I have been monitoring my temp gauge and my WSM (Weber Smoky Mountain) has been running true at about 250 to 260 degrees. I'm using the 2-2-1 method which is 2 hours exposed to heat and smoke, 2 hours foiled, and 1 hour exposed to heat and basted with sauce. I rubbed them with my homemade Bubbaque rub. The sugar caramelizes and forms a great crust. I know your mouth is watering. I know you can smell the hickory smoke. I'm serving them with pinto beans, hoe cakes, and left over mac & cheese from Friday night.

Happy cooking.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday night seafood

New Orleans is a Catholic city. Having grown up in a predominately Protestant town, I knew there were Catholics, but they didn't stand out in any way, except going to Church on Saturday in order to not have to deal with the rush of Baptist and Methodist, to the local buffet after Church on Sunday. I grew up coming home from Church on Sunday to the smell of Sunday Dinner, provided either by my mother or my grandmother, Gran Gran. Sunday dinner is something that has been lost on today's hurried family life.

After moving to New Orleans and getting married, I soon found out how deep the Catholic traditions would bleed into the culture of the city. Friday nights were always seafood night. This is a hold over from the days when Catholics didn't eat meat on Fridays. This is why McDonald's created the fish sandwich. Although my in-laws were life long Methodist, we always went out to eat seafood on Friday nights. Seafood restaurants have lines of people waiting for tables on Friday night. In my logical way of thinking, I always thought we should wait until Saturday night to eat seafood therefore avoid the long wait for food. I don't like to wait for food. As it may, now when I ask my wife what she wants for dinner on Friday nights it is invariable seafood.

This Friday I went to Tarpon Dock seafood at the foot of the Tarpon Dock bridge, were they have the freshest seafood in town. The shrimp, snapper, grouper, and crab cakes looked great, so I chose a pound of 21-25 count headless shrimp, a small grouper fillet, and two crab cakes. The crab cakes were pan roasted, meaning they were sauteed in a cast iron skillet and when turned, they were placed in a 350 degree oven to finish cooking. The shrimp and grouper were fried. Seafood screams to be fried. The contrast of crispy outer crust and soft firm interior is a classic. Although frying can be daunting for some it really is easy if you follow some simple rules. Always have your oil or shortening hot. Remember when you put the seafood in the fryer the temperature will drop, so heat the oil above your target temperature of 350 to 375 before dropping the seafood. Cut your fish into small pieces so the fish will cook before the crust get over cooks. Always allow your breaded seafood to rest so the coating will have time to set on the seafood. I prefer Zatarain's seafood fry. I also use an egg and milk wash so the coating will have something to hold onto. I use two cups of milk, two eggs, and a good tablespoon of yellow mustard as my wash. You can add a couple of drops of Tabasco, if you like thing spicy. This Friday I served the seafood with some homemade mac and cheese. I used some smoked Gouda in the mac and cheese to give it a surprising smoky flavor. My wife would be mad at me if I served fried seafood with out my tarter sauce. Mayo, dill relish, green onions, capers, and lemon juice is all it takes. My wife actually makes her own sauce. She mixes my tarter sauce with ketchup. She's been doing that since she was a child.

Well I hope you will honor your food traditions and keep them alive.

Happy cooking.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Stuffed Flank Steak

Saturday I made a stuffed flank steak. Flank steak is one of my favorite things to grill. It's relativley inexpencive and is full of great beef flavor. I stuffed it with spinach and artichokes. The stuffing was made with frozen chopped spinach, parmesan cheese, garlic, Italian bread crumbs, and olive oil. A layer of smoked Gouda cheese was added before it was rolled. I wrapped it in bacon and tied it with butchers twine. It was cooked indirect till it reached an internal temp. of 120 degrees. I served it with a side of Linguini tossed with garlic and olive oil. Note the theme. I hope you enjoy the pics.

Chef Dee's Hang Out

Not since moving back to Panama City have I been so excited about a restaurant. After a recommendation from a friend, my wife and I went to Dee's Hang Out on Panama City Beach for lunch. After many attempts to find a place that makes a true Po Boy here, I have found one. Chef Dee comes from years at the Treasure Ship restaurant and Big City Fish. The restaurant is located on front beach road near Pompanos in a small strip center. I got a cup of seafood gumbo and a shrimp and oyster Po Boy. My wife tried the She crab soup and a roast beef Po Boy. The gumbo was filled with okra, tomatoes, andouille, shrimp, crab meat, and oysters. It was a roux based gumbo with a light brown color as opposed to a file gumbo. This gumbo is flavorful and rich. The Po Boy was served on real New Orleans French bread which is lighter and flakier than the standard fare found in local supermarkets. The oysters were plump and fried to a golden brown as were the shrimp. Ordered dressed it came with mayo, lettuce, and tomato. I was in food heaven. My wifes She Crab soup was good, but the roast beef Po Boy was not up to New Orlens standards. The roast beef was sliced thicker than in New Olreans and it had raw onion on the sandwich. Other than that, we enjoyed our lunch and will return to enjoy this place again. He said he is bringing in some crawfish when they are in season. Oh yea.

I give Dee's Hang Out 5 stars.

Dee's Hangout on Urbanspoon