Turkey Jerk

Turkey jerk! This is the last turkosity I’ll be having for a while. Albany John was going to hold a Marchgiving, where he thaws out a turkey we bought in November and cooks a bunch of different things, but then he forgot about other plans he’d made, so we had to cancel that had this small turkey in the fridge. He carved it up and we put some of it back in the freezer (I think. Or maybe we just ate it all. Crap. I think we might have eaten it all. We’re piggies).

These two drumsticks were sitting in the fridge and all I could hear was “Jerk, jerk, jerk!” echoing in my mind. You guys know what poor impulse control I have, so I ran off to Save-A-Lot to grab some habanero peppers. I knew Save-A-Lot always has habaneros (and cheapo, fresh cilantro).


Oh, lone habanero.

Save-A-Lot was SO PATHETIC when I walked in. It was hilarious. I guess the end of the month is not a priority for stocking things, because just about everything was O-U-T. The entire refrigerated section of beef, a good amount of vegetables, fruits, display cases – all empty. It was a wreck. And my one lone habanero. Figures that the time I’d actually buy them, they’d be almost all out.

At any rate, it only cost $0.04 for this one little pepper. Yep, four cents!

Looking around eGullet.org was a boon in my jerk marinade quest. I kind of stayed with one recipe, but switched it up a bit. But HOOOH, did it smell spicy! It came out a thick paste because I processed everything very finely.

Here’s how I made the marinade:

Jerk Marinade
2 T allspice berries, toasted
1 t white pepper berries, toasted
1 t black pepper berries, toasted
1 bay leaf
(whir in a spice grinder)
Add in a blender:
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1 fire roasted habanero (bonus points for pathetic-ness)
2 t Kosher salt
the green parts of 1 leek
3 cloves garlic
1-2 T dried thyme
1/2″ ginger, peeled
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 C water (enough to make into a thick slurry)
blend all together, slather over some meat.

Toss in about 10 t of sugar in the raw.

Then I let it sit in the fridge for 24 hours.

After a day, I put on my sexiest latex glove to handle the turkey jerk. Hey, I don’t want burny fingers.

Goopy. Haha. This is the raw turkey in the jerk marinade.

I wanted to cook the jerk by smoking it first, and then charring the skin. I used 3 T of the plum wood chips in the top right corner.


Plopped the drumsticks onto Eldir, my Nordic Ware smoker, and began the smoking process.


I pulled them when they were near 150 F to char them in my broiler. I may have overcooked them a few degrees, but at that point it’s not very noticeable.


Char, char, char, char, char! I didn’t wany any gross soggy and flabby skin on this jerk. Poultry skin tastes best when it’s got a little bit of crunch to it.


I made some rice & peas to go along with it. I used some coconut milk and coconut water with jasmine rice and mung beans, but I think it’d be fine without the milk. Just a little too heavy. Coconut water or just regular water would be better.

Smokement of glory! I got a pink ring of smoke around my turkey. Woo hoo!

The jerk marinade tasted great, but I think it could have used more heat. That’s saying a lot coming from me. I offered Albany John some hot sauce, but he said he liked the flavor of the jerk on its own. A big compliment coming from someone who can down a blob of wasabi like nothing. So it’s a good middle ground for spice-wusses and heat lovers as it stands right now.
Next time, though, I’d up it to at least 3 habaneros.
And now I am debating about whether I should get some more jerk ingredients and smoke/grill some food up this weekend since the weather is going to be splendiferous. Mmm, decisions. It might just be the time of year to head out to a park and grill a ton of meat up. Who’s in?

Cupcake Eating Contest at X’s to O’s Vegan Bakery

Albany John and I rolled up to the cupcake eating contest at X’s to O’s Vegan Bakery on Saturday. They had a benefit for Out Of The Pits that featured a pitbull kissing booth (pitbull doggies, not this Pitbull (although I would have been first in line for that booth)).

Albany John shot a bunch of sweet pictures and formatted them from raw to JPEG, but I’m lazy and forgot to take them off his computer. Check out an awesome set ehere, by Lesya Zaichenko – super cute picures of puppies, people, and sweets.

X’s to O’s like whaaaat? Turns out I rolled up riiight in time to catch the start of the cupcake eating contest. 5 minutes to eat as many cupcakes as possible… And GO!


Eat those cupcakes!

Do it, do it, do it! Get pumped!


The winnar on the left in the Yellow shirt got 9.5 cupcakes down in 5 minutes. Girlie in the yellow hat did a kick ass job of shoving cupcakes in her face. For real – we’re talking icing smeared all over her face – totally working hard to get those cupcakes in!

Most competitors didn’t finish eating all of their cupcakes, so some people handed them out to the crowd. Hell yea, scavengers! I got this cute pink cupcake.


When all of a sudden… Nic-attack!!!! HOLY MOTHER – guard them cupcakes, food bloggers in the midst! Nic came with girlie from Eat in Albany. Sa-weet. Always good to meet the other people in the area IRL (especially food bloggers. I may be biased).


I’ll leave you to decide who chomped this cupcake (give up? okay, it was me). I was expecting a semi-dry cupcake, but these cupcakes were incredibly moist, with a little bit of crunch on the outside (in a good way – that little bit of textural difference from buttery crust and soft, fluffy innard). I don’t usually like fruit + anything else, but the strawberry icing was really light and easy to eat, and tasted oh-so fresh. Not your mama’s vegan cupcakes by any stretch of the imagination. Your carnivore friends wouldn’t be able to tell the difference with these.
If the line wasn’t outta sight I would have hopped in and grabbed some more sweets. But next time I’m there, I am picking up about a half dozen. My sister, the vegan-raw, etc. one, is also a nutrition student and told me I’d get a “nutrition pass” for eating at X’s to O’s. SWEET.

Other than that, I went home wishing I’d signed up in time to participate. And lemme tell you, those pitbulls were way more into kissing after people had crammed their faces with cupcakes.

What’s Growing On

This one’s for you, Nic!

It’s Friday. Chill, smoove Friday. I could tell you about going to Lark Tavern last night and seeing one of Albany John’s brother’s bands play (State of Estates? Something Estate? I can’t remember, but they were good) and staying up and scarfing down half a dozen cookies for a midnight snack. But instead, I’m gonna show you what’s been growing on at mi casa.

I got the egg things at Dollar Tree. Albany John pointed them out. They’re more for Easter, but looked cool for planting stuff. And since they’re domed it’s like they are their own contained system.

The sweaty yellow egg on the left is my sweet marjoram and it’s not doing so well. Meh.
I think there’s basil in Pinky.
I had eggplant growing in the green egg temporarily, but transplanted it last weekend to larger containers and dug up a hunk of chives from the lawn. I don’t think the egg is deep enough to support the root system, so I’m going to try a beer can later this weekend. There are a lot of chives in my lawn this year. And my crazy neighbor’s lawn. Boy, they populated a LOT last year! And there’s two leek nubbins in there too. You can grow scallions in containers from the little bit of white root nubbin, so we’re giving that a try with the leeks.

On the very far end are some scallion nubbins we had left over and stuck in half of the dirt. The other half of the purple egg has cat nip in it.

Not sure if you can see past that, but I’ve also got a little cuppie of dirt in it with some purple basil that’s sprouted but hasn’t done much else. I’ll give it time.

These babies are my pride and joy! Because they are the most successful, ergo a reflection of my growing capabilities. And can I just say, I LOVE peat pellets? They have made growing stuff much easier than growing from dirt. I’m just sayin’. Great for a novice gardener like myself.

On the left side of the egg carton are San Marzano tomatoes. I’d like to see what all the hoopla is with these tomatoes. I got the organic/heirloom kind – not sure if using peat pellets cancels that out, but I think growing them myself is a good thing. I have to grow the tomatoes inside because Albany John’s got The Blight outside last year, so the soil’s F’ed.

On the right side are poppy flowers. When I water and move the container around, sometimes the poppy pellets fall out, and I keep catching myself shout “Aiii, Poppy!”. Oh yeeeaahhh.

Prominently growing in the back are Nasturtium. They’re organic, too. I mean, it’s not like we’re gonna cook them before we eat them. Mama Amherst has grown and put flowers in her salads. I didn’t know you could do that until I met her! I mean, sure, upscale restaurants do it, but I didn’t realize it was possible at home. She’s so effortlessly chic. And quite the green thumb, too. So that makes me really happy that these are doing so well.

Oh, duh. I’m just going to chuck the chives I yanked out of the ground in here. Organic chives. In vases. In other news, I’m finally using some of the many vases from my wedding. I didn’t put enough dirt in here, so they’re not getting as much sun as they could have.

Oh well – I’ll just plant them at my mom’s. She’s given me the go ahead to turn her yard into a garden. I was going to do it any way, but it’s nice to know that now she’s not going to kill me for it.

Basil on the left. This is the organic kind. They’re just hanging out at this size so far. But they aren’t dying, which to me is an indication that they’re doing well.

However, the dill on the right just isn’t doing so well. Maybe I’ll put them in some peat pots as well.

D’oh! I completely forgot to take a picture of some other stuff. Some of it is dying, others aren’t. What I’ve learned so far is that mold isn’t a complete killer. At least not the white stuff from overwatering. Also, gardening isn’t cheap. I’ve spent close to $60 on seeds, dirt, containers, and gardening gear. Yikes! But hopefully that will pay off when I have lots of basil and other food to eat this summer. Kind of sort of. Maybe.

Am I overcrowding stuff, do I need to re-pot some stuff? Lemme know so I don’t let the Black Thumb of Death continue its reign!

Smoked Turkey Breast

Hell yeah I smoked a turkey breast! Albany John butchered a turkey for me, rubbed and marinated it in some white balsamic vinegar, tarragon, sea salt, and other goodness, and then left it to me to smoke it in Eldir, the Nordic Ware smoker.

We also ordered some chips from the Wood King off ebay. This guy really knows his smoke. We got a 6 pack of chips. It’s supposed to be about 7.5 quarts of 6 different chips. After shipping and handling it was around $27 for 6 hard-to-find smoker chips and was quite a good deal. I’m not sure if it’s quite that amount, since quarts measure by volume, and wood chips can compact a good deal during shipping.

This stuff is the shiz, though. I used about 3 tablespoons of Sweet Maple chips in the smoker. They gave off much more smoke than the crappy little chips that came with the smoker (coincidentally, the smoker was supposed to come with 2 kinds of chips, but only had one (hickory)). At the end of smoking, there was still smoke in the pan. The other stuff burned off much faster.

I put it all in the smoker, left the top exhaust open over medium heat until it started smoking a lot, then covered it and turned the heat down. The little book we have really urges you to get it in the 190-210 F sweet spot as soon as possible. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have my food cook at a slow and steadily rising pace for several hours. “Quick” and “smoked” aren’t two words I generally associate (Unless it’s “I want some smoked chicken quickly. Let’s go to Capital Q”).

So I let Eldir go at his own pace, and pulled the breast when it got to 160 F. And lemme tell ya, having a digital thermometer in that sucker from the get-go is reeeaaalllly handy. Next time I’d pull it at 150, or maybe even 145. The turkey rose to 174 F before we decided to just screw it and carve it. I don’t want to know how much it would have risen.

So this bird boob was a little on the dry side, but very smoky! And there wasn’t too much liquid. The skin was insanely smokey and not rubbery. Holy moly! It was a successful dry smoke! Not a dry-but-still-kinda-wet-because-of-all-the-juices-the-meat-gave-off-so-it-was-more-of-a-wet-smoke kind of way, but really, a dry smoke! YEEAAAHHH!

Oh, and I cheated and made one of those cheap and super fakey “turkey gravy” packets to counteract the dry meat. Dudes, adding smokey dripping from the catch pan made that stuff taste pretty close to real gravy!

Aside from Sweet Maple, the other chips were: Apple, Alder, Apricot, Cherry, and Plum. I cannot wait to try them out! Smoking party at my place!

Aashiana


Nicole, Phairhead & SexyBeast were kind enough to join up with Albany John and me for lunch at Aashiana this weekend.

It was gorgeous outside, which meant that there was noooo parking available! Boo! So I was late to my own thing I arranged. I’m such a bad Asian. I used to be early to things, I really did.

Aashiana’s lunch buffet’s are a steal at $6.95 per person. That’s $15.01 with tax for two people. Yum! It’s packed to the gills with tasty, tasty food! I was ever the demure lady eating a gut-busting three plates. I didn’t eat the rest of the day. Woah mama, next time I’m only doing two!

I just love meeting up with peeps like this – just large enough of a group to be fun and not too many! And you know we’re a fun loving group. Next time I’ll actually take picures of my food mates, but we had such a good time, well, uh, I didn’t.

Thanks for comin out, guys!!

Morrette’s

On Friday Dan, Little Miss Fussy, and I went alllllll the way out to Schenectady for a fooding excursion. It turns out the first place we went wasn’t open for lunch, but thanks to Dan’s iPhone, we found how to get to Morrette’s – meat sandwiches! You can find Daniel’s write up here.

There are train tracks right next to their parking lot. Were we on the wrong or right side of the tracks?

Morrette’s is a cute retro styled place. I’d like to give eating at the counter a try – very cute little stools.

The waitresses were really friendly, greeting us as soon as we walked in. It’s a seat-yourself type of operation, and the interior is long, so you can eat up front, or have more privacy in the back.

Our waitress was super-friendly – she walked us through the menu (and trust me, we had questions) and told us which ways to try stuff since it was our first time in. We were debating between the sausage and meatball sub and she said the sausage was made in-house. I asked if there was fennel in it, and she said she wasn’t sure what that was, but that she’d ask. I figured I’d give it a go if sausage > meatball. I’m not a fennel fan, but I can appreciate a well made sausage.


Our waitress brought the awesome by putting 1/2 of each sandwich on our plates since we were going to split them! I loved that – it’s little details of service like that that really distinguish the professionals from the amateurs.

The sausage sandwich is on the right, with onions and mozzarella cheese. The rib eye steak sandwich is on the left with onions. Red sauce on the side, and I’m really glad our waitress advised us of doing this. I thought it was tangy-tart and a bit bitter. A good foil every now and then, but it would have been too overwhelming for me to eat slathered over an entire sandwich.

We didn’t get the cheese on here because the menu just lists it as a side. We figured we’d try it as the menu listed.

It was okay. Dan thought it was a little gamey. The beef flavor was definitely odd. The menu lists the beef as ribeye cut, but I have no idea what grade of meat it is from. The only thing I could think of when I was eating it was how it tasted the way meat smells when you add red wine to it. Like when you’re making a ragu or bolognese. No real beefy flavor, but… something else there.

OH MY GOOD LORD. GET THESE! They’re fried potato skins with bacon and completely slathered with gooey, processed american cheese.

The potatoes are perfectly fried – I suspect a pan fry and not a deep fry. Crispy exterior, soft and fluffy interior. The bacon didn’t wither away into some melty afterthought either – it was substantially sized and held up well. No soggy bacon here! The sour cream was nearly superfluous, but Little Miss Fussy helped us out with that one.

These were the stand out of the food we had, and what’ll have me making the trip to Morrette’s again. And again. Oh, sooo good.

Here’s a shot of the sausage. It was a patty. I am ambivalent about sausage patties. I prefer natural casings for the snap. But the grind held up well to chewing – it was coarse, full of fat and flavor (and fennel, as it turns out. LOTS of it). I appreciate that it’s a good sausage patty, but I bitched out after a few bites because of the fennel. Bleh.

But it’s Schenectady, and Upstate New York has a lot of Italian influence. I figured it would have fennel in it, so if you love fennel, this is right up your alley.
Morrette’s seemed more like an Upstate New York take on cheesesteaks than the Philly cheesesteak style I was thinking of when I first heard “cheesesteak”. I mean, red sauce on a cheesesteak? That seemed so out there to me!

Here’s a shot of the steak sandwich. I put a bunch of salt on mine, but it didn’t really do anything for the flavor, or even taste salty. Weird, right? The cheese from the potato skins, though? Totally slather some of that on your sandwich. You need the fakey American cheese on this sandwich. It masks the odd note in the meat – greater than the sum of its parts, I guess is what I’m saying.

The sandwiches seemed very large when first brought to our table, but in actuality they were very easy to eat. We got the king sizes, too. The buns were okay – nothing bad. Easy to eat, but I would have liked something with just a little chew. It had more one soft texture than anything else.


$20 for all that food! I’m not quite sold on the meat sandwiches. Maybe I’ll try the meatball next time and see how that is in comparison to the other sandwiches. But definitely go for the potato skins. It is well worth a drive from any where in the region.


Then we went to McDonald’s to try our very first Shamrock shakes! They’re $1.89 for a small (pre-tax). Dan and I had never tried one, and we figured it was a good way to balance our diets after the cheesey heart attack on a plate we’d just eaten.

I thought it was okay, but the flavors were a little weird at first. Not very well balanced, and not very minty.


And then I opened up the top. It wasn’t all mixed together! A ring of green! A few minutes of mixing took care of that. I think the mixing incorporated extra air and gave me “more” milkshake. Oh McDonald’s – you and your freakish milkshakes.
It was good, but I think it could have used more mint flavor. A shot of green creme de menthe would have been good, which just makes me think I should try making one at home since I’ve got some green creme de menthe just kicking around.

And here’s another picture of the potato peelers from Morrette’s in case you forgot why you need to go there. This is why.

Mistake Cake, Tasty Balls

I made mistake cake the other day, and it turned out pretty well!

I goofed while trying to make white chocolate truffles. I subbed WAY too many things, and basically wound up with a rich black sesame white chocolate milk and not a velvety smooth ganache. I figured the best way to use it up would be a cake. Mistake Cake!

Cake flour to the rescue!

1/2 cup of sugar, 1 stick of butter, 3-4 eggs, 1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 2.5 C cake flour,1/3 cup of milk, and 1 cup of the rich mistake mix. I’m pretty sure that was the gist of it. At any rate, I baked it in an 11″ x 13″ pan until done. I had a little bit of the rich mistake mix left over, so I drizzled it on the top.

And can I just say? Black sesame & white chocolate tastes kind of like an oreo. Good, but unexpected.

Now, that’s a lot of cake, so I decided to make cake balls!

And for some reason “Tahini Buttercream” kept jumping through my mind as an icing pair. And oh yeah, did it ever work. I think this is my new favorite frosting.

For tahini buttercream, cream together butter and tahini, toss in powdered sugar and a dash of milk. Yum, freaking, yummmm. The harshness of raw tahini is mellowed out. I’m thinking it would work well with vegetable shortening for a vegan friendly frosting, too.


Black Sesame White Chocolate Cake all crumbled up!

Tahini plop!

Tahini Buttercream frosting mixed really well with crumbled cake. Mixing by hand is messy, but incorporates the icing into the cake better, so the balls stay together better.


Time to handle some balls! I like to scoop a little bit out and then press them into shape by hand. The handling doesn’t hurt them – don’t be afraid to squeeze your balls a little!

I don’t care if my balls look a little misshapen. They’re just going to get slathered in chocolate anyway.


Popped my balls in the freezer for a few hours. I shoved them in near the top, so my cake balls got a little smushed, but I think it just helped them compact and stay together even more.

And then I melted some white chocolate. I found a great brand at Big Lots for beginners like me. It melted really easily in the microwave, stayed melted while having frosty balls plopped in it, and wasn’t oily when dry. They weren’t really shiny either, but I am going to have to look for it again, because it was such a peach to work with. It was a 1 pound baggie/container with a metallic, blue baggie wrapper (and only $2.50!). It also lightly coated the balls with white chocolate, not like the candy melts I used the last time, which were nice, but left a coating that I thought was too thick.

Not wanting to tempt myself with so many cake balls / cake truffles around the house, I packed some off to my friend in Texas. He just celebrated a birthday, and the weather is just warm enough that I hope they don’t melt with priority shipping. We’ll see if I get a call from him asking why I sent him a package of something melty.

And some balls to Hello Kitty Sis & Cuz’ in Tampa cause I love them, too.

Albino Trout

Oh my gosh, I am so ready for a nap after fooding in Schenectady with The Profussor, but you guys have got to hear about what I had for dinner last night!

I went to the Asian Supermarket (Ga Ga Lok) and was perusing the fish counter. It’s still in good condition, with lots of options of fish to choose from. They didn’t have much shrimp left, so I figured I’d splurge on a whole fish. The trout looked good, and the guy behind the counter was pushing the paler looking fish at the top. They looked fresh, so I agreed.

The guy then sneezed kind of in one hand, weighed and scaled my fish, and I went home figured I’d cook this guy up pretty quickly. Thaaaaanks. Mr. Sneezy did a good job scaling it though – no scales on it or anything. I’m becoming less phobic about my food’s sanitiation. The only thing I really care about lately is if someone’s been touching garbage or bleach before hand. Hair has completely ceased to bother me because my hair ends up in everything no matter what I do, so I pretty much have to give a pass there.

This is an albino, or palomino trout. It wasn’t much of a splurge at all, actually. Only $5+ for sneezy fish. Instead of doing it up Chinese style like I usually do, Albany John just lightly seasoned the outside and broiled it until done.


The albino trout was finished when brown on both sides, which was really easy to see since it was all white and yellow.


Albany John also made some broccoli and shiitake mushrooms in oyster sauce. Nice crunchy broccoli! The stems are my favored part over the bushy tops.


And OMG, star of dinner – anchovy butter with onion juice to put ON the fish. He found it in the Joy of Cooking, and DAMN, IS THIS SOME FINE BUTTER!
I love my husbear. Fishy butter to put on fish. And lemme tell you, this went really well with several slabs of bread, too.


Melting butter on fishy!! So good! And I don’t have any colds, so take that, Mr. Sneezy! Albany John made some cilantro rice, and wow, was this meal ever filling. We housed a pound and a half of fish no problemo.