28 September 2010

Lemon confit


One of my favourite bbq books, Adam Perry Lang's Serious Barbecue, has a very particular way for finishing meat. In many cases, he suggests zesting a lemon or lime onto a cutting board. You then drizzle a little juice on the board, with a bit of olive oil, and you have a delightful finisher for the meat. The bright flavour of the citrus oils really brightens the meat.

Seven Fires offers a similar technique. They call it lemon confit. The flavour it offers is a subtler, more muted citrus oil flavour, but it's just as delightful. We start with:
4 lemons
2 bay leaves
8 black peppercorns
extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tsp kosher salt

Juice the lemons. Save the juice for another application (lemonade, anyone?). Place the squeeze lemon halves into a pan with all of the other ingredients, and 2 tsp of the extra virgin olive oil.

Prepared lemon

Cover with water, and simmer over low heat about 35 minutes.

Cooking lemon

What you want is for the white pith of the lemon to loosen from the peel. Cool the liquid.

Cooked lemon halves

Remove the lemons from the liquid and scrape the white parts out of the peel.


Chop the peel finely.

Lemon confit

Drizzle olive oil over top of the confit lemon. Cover. This will store in the fridge for a least a week. Use this lemon confit to dress up meat, and add a milder zest flavour to your meat.

23 September 2010

Argentine onion sammich

Raw onion

Meat figures pretty largely here at Indirect Heat. But how about you're at the end of a meat extravaganza weekend, and you'd like something lighter. But with all the delightfulness of smoked food. A nice Sunday evening dinner that takes little effort. That's where these sammiches come in, from Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way.  Argentine onion sammiches.  Most of the effort here comes in the waiting form of effort.  Waiting for the grill to warm up.  Waiting for the dough to rise.  Waiting with a glass of wine in hand.  Not bad work, if you can get it.

First, start a batch of chapa bread - about 2 hours before dinner time.  Use the instructions at the link.

Half an hour before dinner, fire up your charcoal grill, and prepare:
2 large purple onions, sliced
⅛ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients. Heat a cast-iron pan over your fire for 5 minutes, until it's good and hot. Add the onions.


You can grill the chapa bread at the same time.

Grill the onions for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  You don't want completely caramelized onions.

Sauted onion

You want some crispness in there.

Slice the chapa breads in half, and make yourself an Argentine onion sammich, onions in between two slabs of chapa bread.

Onion sammich

The smokiness of the bread and the onions, with that hint of crispness keeping a tiny bit of the bright purple onion flavour, makes these sandwiches a really nice dinner. Delcieux.

Served with the embarrassingly tasty:

Served with

21 September 2010

Bacon ice cream

I really can't introduce this post any better than how I twittled it when I first tried this ice cream.  Bacon ice cream filled a hole in my life.  You need bacon ice cream.  Just close your eyes, and say to yourself, "Bacon.  Ice.  Cream."  It just makes sense.

I modified David Lebovitz' recipe.  He suggested maple flavour would be delicious, so I substituted some of the brown sugar with maple sugar.  And I make my own bacon, so, you know.  Homemade bacon.

Hell, I started with a fresh batch of homemade, mesquite-smoked bacon.

Smoking bacon

We slice off:
5 strips homemade bacon

And sprinkle on:
10 tsp maple sugar
2 tsp on each strip.


Bake at 400°F for 6-7 minutes, until the sugar has melted, then flip, and bake for another 6-7 minutes.

MMMMmmmm... candied bacon.


Look at that!  Okay, chop up the bacon into chunks you'd be happy to encounter frozen in ice cream (i.e., pretty small).


Toss the chopped bacon into the fridge, you want it to be cold later when you add it to the ice cream (otherwise it'll melt the ice cream).  Meanwhile, make the custard:
3 tbsp unsalted butter
¾ cup brown sugar
1¾ cup cream
1 cup milk
5 large egg yolks
2 tsp dark rum
¼ tsp vanilla extract
pinch salt
Put half of the milk and half of the cream in a bowl with a sieve over it.  Melt the butter in a saucepan.  Add the brown sugar and the rest of the cream and milk and the pinch of salt.  Warm over medium heat. Not crazy hot, just warm.

Brown sugar

Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks into a foamy mess.

Egg yolk

Slowly add the hot cream-sugar-butter mixture to the egg yolks to temper the yolks.

Transfer back into your saucepan. Heat to 175°F. Never stop stirring. At 175°F, the custard should have thickened nicely, shouldn't have curdled, and will be ready for the next step. Pour the custard over the sieve into the cold cream and milk. Add the rum and the vanilla, and put in the fridge for at least 24 hours (you want the custard to be good and cold before you add it to your ice cream maker).


Run the custard through your ice cream maker using the instructions for your machine. I use the KitchenAid ice cream attachment. Right at the end, mix in the cold, candied bacon.

Bacon ice cream

Look at that sloppy, bacony mess. Yum. Okay. Now cure for 24 hours in the freezer, to harden the ice cream. Serve.

Bacon ice cream

So, the frozen custard is delicious. The brown sugar/rum/vanilla flavour of this creamy custard is quite good. But when you get the maply/smoky/salt blasts in the little chunks of bacon, it takes this ice cream to a whole other level. Best. Ice cream. Ever.  Amazing.

16 September 2010

Pizzeria Bruno

Pizzeria Bruno sign

Blogging changes things. It changes your surroundings. Walk into a restaurant with your 4 ½ year-old son. Carry a camera. And you will be treated differently than if you were not carrying that camera. It's 2010. They know why I have a camera. Even though ¾ of the photos I take are of Bbq Jr., they know that I'm going to blog about the food. I noticed it at the Lazy Ox. And I definitely noticed it tonight at Pizzeria Bruno.

"Daddy, why does the door not have a top?"


"I don't know. Maybe to let the air in and keep the cats out?"

Pizzeria Bruno is already well-known in San Diego for their fancy Italian pizza oven named Bruno (<--check out the nifty pic that KirkK put up).  Less well-known for the half door in the entrance.

But Bbq Jr. wanted to see the oven.  When we visited, we sat inside. And they graciously let us walk behind the bar so he could peer inside the oven (Bruno) where Bbq Jr.'s pizza was cooking. Indeed, they're so careful here, they cooked the pepperoni separately from the pizza and layered it onto the pizza after cooking. Beautiful.


As I mentioned earlier, they noticed the camera.  And we got better service for it.

The waitress: "We've added free buffalo mozzarella to your pizzas." The buffalo mozzarella is a $5 addition normally. "It comes from virgin cows grazing the Sicilian mountains in the shade of Sangiovese grape groves." Okay, that last sentence is bogus. But she told me a story about how lovely the buffalo mozzarella was, and why it was lovely. I just can't remember it. But it *was* lovely. Fresh. Smooth. Rich. And delicious.  And free.

Pizza margherita

And then, out came the margherita. Pizza doesn't need a ton of toppings to make it lovely. Good pizza needs merely good quality ingredients. And this pizza has it.  The cheese and sauce and the basil are amazing.  But the crust - um...  The crust on both pizzas was soggy.  So soggy, it couldn't be picked up.

Indeed, there was a pool of juice on Bbq Jr.'s plate before we'd even cut into the pizza.  Don't get me wrong, the toppings are *amazing*.  But the crust leaves something to be desired.  I don't know if they need to change the crust or add less liquid to the toppings (less sauce?  more concentrated sauce?  not sure).

At the end of the meal, I asked Bbq Jr., "Where would you rather have pizza?  Here?  Or at Blind Lady?  His response?  "Here, Daddy.  I can watch the pizza oven here."

We'll be back.  And we'll be carrying a camera on all of our restaurant visits from now on.  Even when we're not taking pictures.  And I'll suggest that you do, too.

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15 September 2010

Veggie offal

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14 September 2010

Chapa bread

When I'm preparing dinner for guests, if I'm serving bread, it's homemade bread.  It's not much effort added to dinner to throw a loaf of no-knead bread in the oven.  It merely requires a bit of forethought.

However, it does require forethought.  And no-knead bread heats up the house more than a little on an otherwise hot day.  A nice pan-bread can be done with little more than a couple hours notice, and you can do it on your grill with a cast-iron pan.  I tried the recipe for chapa bread from Seven Fires.  It's tasty:
4 cups bread flour
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 ¼ tsp dry yeast
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
~ 1 ¼ cup warm water
Mix the dry ingredients well.  Add the oil.  Add the water, slowly, while mixing the ingredients.  Stop adding water when the dough comes together (i.e. when it moves in the mixer as one).

Unrisen dough

Form the dough into a ball.  Place in an oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth.  Let rise for an hour (or so).

Risen dough

Roll out on a flat surface.

The dough

Cut into 8 roughly equal-sized pieces.

Chop the individual bread

Cover with your damp cloth and let rise for another half hour (ish). Really, these times can be longer or shorter. It's a beautiful thing.

Heat a dry cast-iron pan over medium heat. If you want, you can do this in your kitchen. I found it more amusing to do it over a medium-hot charcoal fire - after all, smoke makes everything taste better.

Chapa bread in the ban

Brown the breads on one side - it'll take about 5 minutes. If it takes less than this, your fire is too hot, and you won't cook the bread all the way through. Adjust accordingly.

Chapa bread in the pan

Flip the bread, and brown the other side.

Chapa bread

Serve when both sides are nicely browned. Serve hot. Upon eating one of these, Mrs. Dude exclaimed that she could eat all 8. Yum.

Chapa bread

Post-script:  My supper tonight was lovely sandwich made from a day-old chapa bread.  I was concerned these chapa breads would make lousy leftovers.  Many breads don't do as well the second day.  However, they were still moist and delicious, though the crust had softened slightly.  The flavour was still toasty and delicious, with a hint of the smoke from the charcoal fire.

09 September 2010

Perfect Argentine steak

We don't make steak often in the Dude household.  Quite frankly, steak makes me a bit nervous.  It's expensive, and it's easy to ruin. Two minutes too long, and your medium-rare steak is medium.  In that sense, brisket is a lot easier.  The difference between underdone and overdone brisket is measured in hours, not minutes.  There's plenty of time to make decisions.

But I'd like to make steak more often.  And I found some very interesting lessons written in Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way.  And apparently, the Argentine way requires serving it with a chimichurri sauce.  So first, make the chimichurri sauce (the book recommends making it at least a day in advance - I made it 4 hours in advance).

Then, warm some:
boneless rib-eye steaks
to room temperature.  Season with:
Light a fire and heat the grill to the point where you can hold your hand above the grill for 2 ½ seconds. No more, no less.  Throw those beautiful steaks on the grill.

Grilling steak

Take a gratuitous chimichurri/steak shot.

Chimichurri with steak

Cook the steak for 5 minutes, check the underside for nice grill marks, then rotate 90°.  Cook 4 more minutes, then flip.

Grilling steak

Cook 7ish minutes, or until it starts to firm up for medium-rare.  Cook 9ish minutes for medium.

Steak with chimichurri

Serve slathered in chimichurri sauce.

This was quite simply the best steak I've ever made.  Perfectly cooked.  Nice amount of fat.  And that chimichurri sauce is just fantastic on top of the steak (not to mention comely).  Adds a lovely fragrance and an amazing flavour to the steak.  Extremely complementary.  We'll be making this again.

Served with:


07 September 2010

Home-made bacon is better. Really.

This is why you should make your own bacon.  Industrial bacon is gross.  Roughly handled (that's why it's flabby-textured).  Squirted full of water (that's why it shrinks so much in your pan).  Not cured very long, and not smoked (that's why it's not very flavourful).  It's no wonder that home-smoked bacon is ridiculously better.  Make yourself some bacon.  Today.

Chimichurri sauce

'Twas my birthday last week. I only mention this because Mrs. Dude gave me a lovely new bbq book that you're going to be hearing about. Because it's awesome. So thanks, Mrs. Dude.  Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way has all kinds of deliciousness.

First up, a bright, traditional Argentine sauce, Chimichurri. Make this a day in advance, as the flavours will blend nicely as it sits in the fridge:
1 cup water
1 tbsp coarse salt
1 head garlic
1 cup packed fresh flat leaf parsley leaves
1 cup fresh oregano leaves
2 tsp red pepper flakes
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Boil the water and dissolve the salt in the water. Let cool.

Peel and chop the garlic finely. Chop the parsley and fresh oregano leaves finely. This part is awesome, as the kitchen smells of bright, fresh oregano flavours.

Parsley, oregano, garlic

Mix all the herbs.  Whisk in the vinegar, then the oil and finally the brine mixture.  Let sit for up to a day before serving.

Chimichurri with steak

The fresh oregano flavours in this chimichurri sauce are really nice.  This has convinced me I need to add an oregano plant to our herb garden.  I'm looking forward to more Argentine fun.