Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Food News Link!

Check out my new web page for news about food. Click here to view Food News.
It has news stories about cookbooks, cooking, local restaurant reviews.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Love Eating Oriental Food!

I love to eat Oriental food. Since my mom was Korean, I grew up eating Oriental food. Finding places around Austin, Round Rock and Cedar Park is too difficult. So, here are a couple of places that my wife, Karla, and I enjoy going to.

Great Wall
1906 S Bagdad RdLeander, TX 78641(512) 528-8146

Try the Hibachi Beef or Chicken. My wife and daughter love the Jumbo Rainbow Shrimp.

Monday, July 7, 2008

What's for Dinner? STEAK, BABY!

What's for dinner? Steak, baby! That's right. At the Johns household, chicken, pork and seafood are good. But, if you are looking for something special. Steak is what's for dinner. You add a big bake 'tater that is fully loaded to that and maybe some sauteed mushrooms and onions with some Southwestern seasoning and you have got all of the makings for a perfect meal.

In this case, the meal was a ribeye steak that I had purchased on sale in bulk. If you find meat on sale, you need to buy and break it down yourself. By doing that, you save money and you can have steak almost every night. I know. My doctor is probably rolling his eyes and about ready to send me a dirty note about my cholesterol. (It is sad when you are able to spell "CHOLESTEROL" and the names of most of your medications.) Oh, well. Back to the steak.

Take a close look at the steak. You see the diamond sear marks on the steak. You can do the same thing. It just takes a little practice. When you put your steak on the grill. A very hot grill is an absolute must. How hot is hot? 500 degrees or better. Do not take your burner all the way up with the lid down. You will cause damage to your grill. When I preheat my grill, I set the controls to about medium. That will get you there. Once you open the lid to start cooking, you can put the spurs to her and turn your gas jets to wide open. You can then put the steak on the grill at a 45 degree angle and after about 3 minutes or so, you can rotate it to 45 degrees in the opposite direction. That will give you the sear marks you are looking for. Your friends will think you are a chef.

As for seasoning, I have made my own and tried a ton of different ones. The one I'm using now is the Chicago style blend from Webber. It has some bite to it and it gives the steak a great favor. If you ask me what do people love consistently on their steaks, I would say salt, pepper and some butter. If you are a purist, that's all you need.

Some people have asked about the potato. My daughter loves a good baked potato and my wife loves a good baked sweet potato. Well, there are some secrets to that, pilgrim. Let me tell you how to bake a great potato. First, select a good solid potato for baking. When I look, I look for fairly good sized potatoes. The other thing is that all of the potatoes should be the same size. Don't pick big ones and small ones. That will throw the cooking time off. Next, wash them good and dry them with a paper towel. After that, poke a few holes in them. Place each potato on a piece of heavy duty aluminum foil. Rub them down with cooking oil and salt them. If you like your potatoes to have a crispy skin, you can forget the foil. If you use the foil, wrap them up semi-tightly and place them on the grill. If you are preheating for your steaks, a good 450 degrees would be perfect for both the steak and potatoes. Place them on the warming rack and close up the grill. It will take about 1 hour to cook most potatoes. Use a knife to check for doneness. If it goes through the potato without resistance, you are done. As for the sweet potato, you can do the same to it except you don't need the full hour. I usually give the sweet potato only 45 minutes and I do use the aluminum foil. Since it has a higher sugar content, it burns easily. So, use the foil. Plus, the skin comes off easily when you use the foil method.

There you go. One top-notch steak dinner. Remember, you don't need a lot for seasoning when it comes to a steak. Salt, pepper and butter are great.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Brisket! Happy 4th and Memorial Day!

Each year I do a brisket for the 4th of July and Memorial Day. I love doing brisket. Briskets aren't hard to do as long as you know how to handle them. The first thing is that you don't buy a trimmed brisket. If you want a dry brisket, buy a trimmed brisket. If you want an extra moist brisket, buy an untrimmed brisket. You may need to trim some of the fat, but most of it will remain. The reason is very simple. The fat will keep the meat moist. The goal is to cook this piece of meat low and slow. There is no such thing as high and fast when it comes to brisket. You can buy one of those pre-cooked briskets and serve them in a couple of hours, but I don't believe they have quite the taste as a beautifully done brisket. It takes me, on average depending on size, about 12 hours to do a brisket from start to finish. So, don't think you are going to just throw it on the fire and walk away. No, sir. You will need to stay on this one for a while, cowboy.
The other secret is giving your brisket a dry rub. A dry rub is a seasoned mixture of salt, brown sugar, chili powder, etc. that will add favor to the meat as it cooks. The other little secret is mopping your meat during the cooking process. A mop is a liquid mixture of spices that is used to keep the meat moist on the outside while the fat does the work on the inside. I will mop my meat on a regular basis and rotate it so that it does cook too fast on one side. That's why I say this isn't a missile. There is no "fire and forget" on a brisket. You are going to be with this meat for a while.
Now, there are those that say that you can't do a brisket on a gas grill. It just ain't right. But, I'm here to tell you that you can if you know what you are doing. First, thing I do is prepare a smoke pouch. What in the world is a "smoke pouch"? It is a pouch made of heavy duty aluminum foil. Inside of it, you place your soaked wood chips. I use hickory or mesquite wood chips and soak them in water for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, I drain the water and put them inside the foil and roll it up. I make a couple of those pouches and using them on the grill. They heat up and start smoldering and then they start smoking. YUMMY! You get the picture. The smoke gets into the meat and you have that wonderful smoke ring in your meat. The smoke ring is that 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch near the surface of the meat that receives the smoke. It looks like a dark pink ring in the meat. If you have that, then the smoke pouch did its job.