Monday, March 2, 2015

Migraineurs relief - uncured Kielbasa

I've been on a quest to find good uncured sausages.  Its next to impossible, especially if you want smoked as the long smoking process is ripe for botulism bacteria growth if you don't use sodium nitrite to "cure" the meat.  The problem with sodium nitrite is a migraine trigger for me and thousands of others out there.

I've pretty much given up on ever having a nice kielbasa again let alone polish, or bologna.  But after enough times seeing chefs make sausage on the food channel I thought I'd give it a shot.  First time around was pretty good.  I took a basic kielbasa recipe and switched around ingredients, deleted like the sodium nitrite and MSG (another nasty migraine trigger) and added in more flavorful spices, smoked garlic and liquid smoke to give it that fresh smoked flavor without the risk.

Please NOTE This is a fresh sausage and needs to be treated like one.  Different than cured meats you will need to cook it and use it with 2-3 days of manufacture.  You can safely freeze 2 months after stuffing.  IF you don't promptly refrigerate or freeze  you could get botulism.

I got my smoked granulated garlic at Surfas in Santa Ana, but their Culver City store carries it as well.  It really adds a deep smoked through flavor as well as intense garlic flavor.  A total win on all counts.  Search it out through them or online.

I was warned up front by a friend that this really is a two man job when it comes to stuffing.  One to feed the meat mixture into the hopper of the stuffer and another to hold the casings and control the rate of stuffing at the end of the extruder.  It really is, I can't imagine trying this my first time by myself without my son to do the stuffing.

On the topic of the sausage stuffer I got the one for the Kitchenaid that attaches to the meat grinder for $8 online at Amazon.  About a quarter the cost even the culinary outlets charged for it.

Uncured Kielbasa

  • 2 1/4 pounds pork shoulder
  • 3/4 pound uncured pork back fat
  • 2 T smoked granulated garlic
  • 1 t liquid smoke
  • 1/2 c ice water
  • 2 T fresh coarse cracked black pepper
  • 2T dried marjoram
  • 1 T ground mustard
  • 1 T Kosher salt


Cut pork shoulder and pork back fat into chunks big enough to fit into your meat grinder feed tube.  Place cut meat in freezer for 20-30 minutes to get it well chilled but not frozen. 

Fit grinder with coarse grinder blade.  At medium speed alternate pork shoulder and pork back fat and run through grinder.  Add spices, water, salt and liquid smoke to meat mixture.  Quickly knead with your hands until well mixed.  Be careful not to let the mixture get too warm from your hands and the fat starts melting.

Chill sausage mixture overnight in a sealed container in the refrigerator.  This allows the fat to firm up as well as the flavors to develop and blend.

30 minutes prior to stuffing soak the sausage skins in warm water to make them pliable and easy to load onto the feed tube. Assemble and use the large feed tube for extruder.  Spritz the end of the feed tube with cooking spray to lubricate the extruder.  Slip on a sausage skin and load up the extruder.  Tie off the end in a not. With one person putting in the sausage mixture and another holding the sausage as extruded fill up a casing.  Every foot or so slow speed and twist the sausage a full turn or two to create a link, then resume speed and stuffing.  Tie off the end of the casing with a knot when done.  Repeat until all meat is used. 


Prick sausage every couple of inches with a needle to allow steam to escape and prevent casing ruptures when cooking.

Lay sausage onto a baking sheet and cool a few hours uncovered to let excess moisture evaporate if using fresh that day.  If not coil, place in freezer bags and freeze up to 2 months.


To cook.  Place sausage in large skillet.  Cover about 3/4 up the sides with water.  Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer.  Cook about 30 minutes at slow simmer until sausage is cooked through and reaches 165F with instant read thermometer.  Remove from poaching liquid and brown on each side in a lightly oiled skilled until brown, about 5-8 minutes per side.  Or...grill until browned with good grill marks.

Lemon Thyme Chicken Breasts

With a Meyer Lemon tree in the back yard this time of year I'm blessed with ample lemons and am always looking for ways to use them all.  Step in this Lemon Thyme Chicken Breast.

A couple of things to keep in mind with high acid marinades like this...keep the time short enough to impart flavor but not so long as to "cook" the protein and changes its texture.  Really an hour max is all you need.

Stripping Thyme of its leaves is a lot easier than you think.  Grasp the top of the stem firmly and slide your fingers towards the base with light pressure and the leaves are off and the woody stem can be discarded.  I also do this after handling the raw garlic as it helps kill the smell of the garlic on your fingers.

Lemon Thyme Chicken Breasts


  • 4 chicken breasts - I use skinless/boneless
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 lemons sliced thing
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 T fresh Thyme leaves
  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 t kosher salt


To make marinade combine zest, lemon juice, thyme leaves, garlic, olive oil salt and pepper in a small blender jar or mini-food prep and pulse a few times until garlic is finely chopped.

In non-reactive bowl...stainless steel or glass, add chicken breasts.  Pour over marinade and toss to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate 30-60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Convect bake if you have it.  Line a baking dish with aluminum foil. Place breasts on the lined baking sheets.  Pour marinade over the chicken.  Top with reserved slices of 2 lemons.  Bake 30-35 minutes until cooked through.  Serve hot over parslied rice.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Baked Molten Fudge Cakes

The basics for this recipe gave me the idea for the final version, Where I got it from I don't recall.  Its really a soupier version of a molten lava cake that you don't have to try and flip out of the ramekin.  Plop on a big scoop of coffee ice cream when done and you are in heaven.

I used Surfas Black Onyx cocoa powder as its sooooo much richer in chocolate flavor than the usual stuff at the groc.  If you can't find Black Onyx, Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder is a very close replication of what I used.  

Superfine sugar dissolves easier than regular table sugar.  Its worth the few extra pennies in this recipe to use it.  The regular sugar doesn't dissolve completely and leaves a gritty texture.  And texture is everything with this treat.

Baked Molten Fudge Cakes
  • 12 T (1 1/2 sticks) butter melted
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/8 t sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 t vanilla
  • 1/2 t coffee extract
  • 3T heaping cocoa powder
  • 3T all purpose flour
  • 4 12 oz ramekins
  • 13X9 baking dish
  • 4-5 C boiling water
  • Coffee Ice Cream for garnish

Preheat oven to 325F

Melt butter and set aside to cool.  

Place eggs in mixer with whisk attachment and beat on high until light lemon colored and fluffy.  The eggs should fall from beater in a ribbon...about 5 minutes.  Don't skimp here as this is what gives the airy texture to the final product.

Beat in sugar until dissolved.  Beat in vanilla, salt and coffee extract.  Reduce speed and fold in cocoa powder and flour.  Pour in melted butter and stir until just mixed.  Don't over-beat this last step.

Divide the batter between the 4 ramekins.  Place ramekins in the 13X9 baking dish.  Gently pour in boiling water until it comes up half way up the sides of the ramekins.  Be careful not to splash water into the batter as it will ruin the batch.

Bake in oven 50-55 minutes until the top is crackly set.  Do not bake through.  Remove from oven, remove ramekins from water bath and let cool 5-10 minutes.  Place ramekin on a desert plate, top with scoop of ice cream.  Enjoy while warm and melty.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Ginger Spiced Spritz

This cookie too a bit of work to get it right.  Cloves were the culprits.  A little goes a long, LONG way and the first batch thats all you tasted.  Got it right now and this is a righteous little cookie that packs a punch of flavor.

I like to take half the cookie batter and color it.  It adds to the festive look of your cookie plate by not having them all one color.  Call me funny, but presentation is everything.

Ginger Spice Spritz

  • 2 1/2 c flour
  • 2 t ground ginger
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t ground cloves
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1 c butter
  • 3/4 c packed brown sugar
  • 1 t orange extract'
  • decorative colored sugar sprinkles
  • food coloring


Cream together brown sugar, room temp butter, salt and orange extract until fluffy.

Combine flour and spices.  Sift together.  With stand mixer on low slowly add flour mixture to creamed butter and mix until smooth and all flour incorporated.  Optional: remove 1/2 of batter into seperate bowl.  Add a few drops of food color to the bowl and mix until color is uniform.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Load cookie dough into feed tube of a cookie press.  Select pattern die and press cookies according to package directions.  Sprinkle raw cookies with decorative sugars

Bake 12-14 minutes until firm. Cool on wire racks.


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Balsamic Roasted Chicken Breast

File this under stupid easy and incredibly tasty.  Fresh herbs I usually have on hand...dried work just as well.  Just rub them in your hand to crush and activate the oils before adding to the marinade.

Balsamic Roasted Chicken Breast

  • 2 lbs Chicken breast halves
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1/2 t black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 T fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 T fresh minced rosemary


Clean chicken breasts and remove tenders.  Combine balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and herbs in a large non reactive bowl.  Add chicken breasts and tenders.  Toss to coat.  Marinade 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 350F.  Line baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place chicken breasts and tenders in sheet. Pour any remaining marinade over the meat.  Bake about 30 minutes until thickest breast reaches 165F.


Monday, December 15, 2014

Sea Salt Caramel Molten Lava Cakes

This is the schiznit.  The best bomb diggety thing I've created in a while.  Sea Salt, caramel in a warm ooey gooey treat.  Served up with coffee ice cream next to it its hitting all the right notes.  RIGHTEOUS.

I inherited from a friend a dozen cans of Nestle dulce du leche and have been wondering what on earth to do with it all.  Topping brownies is a start but only uses barely a third of a can of the sweet thick caramel.  What to do with the rest left me thinking and searching.

Having tasted the caramel by itself its almost too sweet and needs to be rounded off for better depth of flavor.  Salt, specifically sea salt, not that iodized crap sold at the groc rounds out the flavor and enables you to cut through all the sweet and enjoy the caramel notes there too.

This took me a couple of tests to get the recipe just right...one not salty and too cakey, another too salty that you needed a gallon of water afterwards. I used a general purpose sea salt, not an expensive flaked like Maldon.  Really this final iteration is awesome.

Sea Salt Molten Lava Cakes

  • 1 2/3 c caramel sauce
  • 1/2 t sea salt
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 1/2 T flour
  • butter and extra flour to dust ramekins


Preheat oven to 375f
Butter and dust with flour 4 small ramekins.  Place on baking tray and set aside.

Place egg and yolks with salt in a stand mixer.  With whisk attachment beat on high until thick ribbon falls from whisk when stopped and raised.  About 2 1/2-3 minutes.  Beat in caramel until uniform.  Reduce speed and sprinkle on flour, beating until just mixed in.

Divide the batter between the 4 ramekins.  Place in oven and bake 14-16 minutes until the top is just set and they are still wiggly.  Immediately remove from oven.

To serve run a knife around the edge of the cake.  Grab hot ramekin in an oven mitt protected hand and place serving plate upside down over the ramekin. Invert.  Give the ramekin light tap to to release the cake.  Put a scoop or two of good quality coffee ice cream on the plate and serve.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Browned Butter Brownie with Caramel and Sea Salt

OK, this is my go too brownie.  I made it for the Holiday Meeting of the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts.  It was a hit.  EVERYONE raved about how it was the best brownie they have ever had.  EVER.

But really whats not to love.  Its not overly sweet.  Its ooey, gooey chocolatey with just a touch of salt to make your taste buds dance.  Its really yummy.

I cheat too.  Big surprise, right!  Instead of making my own caramel, which I;m totally capable of I use canned Nestles La Lechera brand dulce du leche.  Really good stuff, thick, rich and very caramel.  Why make your own when you can just buy it?

I finish with Maldon Sea Salt, but really anygood quality flaked sea salt will work just fine.  For gawds sake don't use regular table salt, that iodized stuff tastes like metal and just ruins your tastebuds.

I use a good rich ultra pure ducth process cocoa called Black Onyx that I get from Surfas in Culver City. If you can find that, Hersheys Special Dark cocoa powder would be a great substitute.

Browned Butter Brownie with Caramel and Sea Salt

  • 10 T unsalted butter- cubed
  • 3/4 c Black Onyx Cocoa Powder
  • 1 1/4 c sugar
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 2 T water
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 C + 1 T all purpose flour
  • 1/2 c chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 c La Lechera dulce du leche
  • 2 t flaked sea salt


Preheat oven to 325F.  Place a shelf in the bottom third of oven.   Line an 8X8 baking dish with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray

In medium sauce pan place cubed butter over medium heat.  Stir and cook until it stops foaming.  Remove from heat and add sugar, cocoa powder, and kosher salt.  Stir until smooth.  Add eggs one at a time and stir until smooth and shiny.  Stir in vamilla.  Stir in flour until smooth.  Fold in nuts.  Pour into prepared pan.

Place caramel into a plastic sandwich bag. Cut off a small, 1/4 inch corner of the bag.  Pipe the caramel in a criss cross pattern on the brownie mix.  Place in oven.  Bake 25-30 minutes until firm and tester comes out with a few crumbs on it.

Remove from oven.  Sprinkle with the flaked sea salt.  Cool completely.  Remove brownie from pan by grabbing sides of foil.  Cut into 16 brownies.