You know, like, maybe a pound, and she wondered what she could do with it that would be quick and delicious. No, I am not going to try to stick with the corny nursery rhyme gag; I'm just going to tell you how to make phenomenal lamb skewers in about ten minutes. Several people have fallen in love with my spice blend 'Moroccan Your Socks Off!? just by smelling it (myself included! that and the Special Chili Blend - I could just stick my face in them all day long!). Other's still have been lucky enough to be around when I throw some on the fire and serve them up with some fresh tzatziki. The lamb skewers are simple:
1 Lb Ground Lamb*
1 rounded Tbsp finely diced shallot
1 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp 'Moroccan Your Socks Off!?
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
8 - 12 bamboo skewers if you like.
½ C Tzatziki sauce
Combine all of the ingredients thoroughly. You can cook immediately or do in advance by a couple hours and let the flavors develop. Next, make 8 to 12 small balls and then flatten into oblong shapes. You can brown the lamb in a hot pan or on the grill. Either way, I recommend not fighting the skewers on their desire to burn on the grill by just not putting the meat on the skewer until its cooked. Then it's your call if you are serving these a a passed finger food (like the picture below that was taken at a friend's place last Easter) or maybe you just want to put them next to a fresh Greek salad and save your skewers for some other food that you want to watch fall off of them...
That's it for this one, but there are many other fun things to do with this spice blend: In smaller amounts it brings out the flavors in roasted or sous vide lamb without pushing the dish in a curry direction(I go really easy on the cumin and coriander), its awesome on chicken which a make a goat cheese bechamel to top that with and serve with cous cous and veggies. I'll post that up another day along with my Moroccan Ratatouille with herbed goat cheese - a ridiculously good vegetarian main course or side dish. Cheers!
So, I'll begin by saying that we will try to get a video tutorial up on this one soon if for no other reason that I would really like to make another batch of toffee.
For all my local peoples that made it out to The Valentine's Day Passport event: Thank you for coming out and supporting our local wine country and double thanks to everyone that came by Hahn to say hi and of course to everyone's favorite dirty old man, Butch Francis of Cowboy Sausage. Everyone got to sample our Chef's Palette Poultry Seasoning and some glorious English Toffee made by yours truly. A quick moment to brag, 20 pounds of toffee, first time ever - no sugar burns (oh, and mandolined over 1050 tomato slices for my main dish and still got all my fingertips! Not bad!)
We are currently buried under paperwork for permits, licenses, fees and all sorts of crazy packaging stuff to get the rubs out to the masses but stress not, gonna happen on a local scale and soon. (Plan to be at Pigs, Pinot & More in Salinas on Feb. 27th!)
Now, the reason you're here (probably, I don't know for sure you may appreciate my ramblings). I personally do not eat a lot of candy, but when I do, I kill some dark chocolate, toffee, or a combo of the two! I had a lot of pit falls on this and actually had to ditch two batches (I turned them into caramel - comment to get details on how to salvage your mess if it goes down like that for you, or new edit - click this link!). However, read thoroughly, and things should be okay. First I'll give you the rundown, and then some tips on the method because toffee is a fickle mistress but once you get it - you got it.
2 C Butter, salted
2 1/2 C Granulated Sugar
1/4 C Water
1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract
1 C Chopped Almonds, Roasted
10 oz Melting Chocolate
Seriously, that's all. If your butter is unsalted, add a rounded teaspoon at the beginning with the water and vanilla. Start by buttering a 10x14 cookie sheet and sprinkling 2/3 C of almonds along the bottom. Any size cookie sheet should work, but please make sure it has sides as you will be spreading molten sugary butter goop all over and I really don't want to get an email from the burn ward on this one. Next, melt the butter on medium in a thick-ass pan. I used a Tri-Clad, some say cast iron, but you get the point. Once the butter is mostly melted swirl it up the sides of the pan. Now, pour the sugar into the middle of the butter, avoiding the sides. Dump the water, vanilla and salt if you need it into the middle. leave the heat on medium and gently stir the mixture - I used a heat resistant silicone spat. that worked great, some recommend a wooden spoon, but I noticed no variance in the product and actually found that the silicone cleaned better. Take your time here and ensure that the sugar fully dissolves, this will take at least 5 minutes. I used a candy thermometer this entire time and once the mixture was fully incorporated I let the heat start to rise to the "Confection Zone" (cue the Kenny Loggins!) and set a timer for 5 minutes. I kept it between 240F and 250F the entire time and afterwards increased my heat to just under medium high. By now your pan should be full of some weird looking foamy sugar substance that made me think of being a kid playing on a found couch in the middle of the woods. Where did it come from? Doesn't matter, it's our couch now and we're playing on it! It's a wonder we didn't all get lockjaw or tuberculosis or something...anyway, toffee, that's right.
You can get the thermometer out of your way if you like at the end of that five minute period but continue to stir, just to keep the bottom clear. DO NOT stir vigorously, too much air will cool it, and screw it up. In five minutes or so, you will notice that as you stir up the bottom it is starting to darken and you can start to smell the toffee and butterscotch notes. Now it's show time! get ready, you're only a minute or so out. Don't let it get too dark and look for little puffs of smoke as you gently stir. When its time, pour it over the almonds on the cookie sheet by scraping the bottom and pushing the toffee out from the back. Why? Well, I found that if you go from the front or middle then the stuff next to the bottom of that hot ass pan tends to get noticeably darker and in my second batch, it actually separated. I then settled the toffee by knocking it flat on a towel on the counter and popped any large air bubbles with the side of my spatula. Here's when some tell you to sprinkle chocolate chips on or smear a bar on the warm toffee. I didn't do either. I used Ghirardelli chips, 60% cocao because they're my favorite in other recipes such as chocolate mousse. I melted them in a pan over some simmering water and just spread them on when I was ready. However, my next batch I may try a bark or melting chocolate to see if I have less instances the chocolate splitting away when cut. Finish it all up by sprinkling with the remaining almonds and there you have it!
Humidity messes with the crunch. If it's humid in the kitchen, let the toffee set in a dryer area.
Use a paper towel to wipe off the surface of the toffee before dumping on the chocolate, that butter layer keeps the chocolate from sticking too..
Let it set up for at least 2 hours. If it's not set all the way it won't release properly from the pan to cut. Then you can break it or use a sharp knife to cut into squares.
Well, that's about it. I am by no means a candy maker or pastry chef, but I got a pretty good recipe and process going by third batch and thought I'd share some of the highs and lows of the whole experience.
It's now 2 a.m. and without a doubt time to turn off the computer and get some shut eye!
Please feel free to email or leave feedback.
So maybe you received one of these cool little packages in the mail or at the Hahn Estate Tasting Room but just could not quite get the energy up to do a standing rib roast all. day. long. No worries. This spice blend is no one trick pony!
Yes, it was originally developed for this one specific purpose years ago but here and there I tried it in a few other roles and then checked it out more frequently as this project started. The most important thing to remember about this spice blend is that it likes to stick to objects other than food if they have any moisture on them. It has tremendous flavor, but if you put it on the the protein or vegetables and then direct sear, most of that flavor will burn in the pan. The solution is actually as simple as it is delicious: Sear, then rub, then roast. If you have some beautiful salmon and a luscious Pinot Noir and wish to enjoy them both at the same setting then guess what? This rub is your best friend! Here is how you do it: pat the salmon dry and salt it, let it rest for 10 minutes and then get a pan smoking hot and splash in a bit of grape seed oil, seer until brown on one side and then sprinkle the rub on the RAW side that is facing you. Turn off the burner and flip. Season the nice browned side with the rub and finish in a 350°F oven for 5-10 minutes depending on the thickness and your personal tastes. Use a fish turner or other thin spatula to get under the salmon, because yes, some of the rub wants to stick under there, but it won't be burnt. Pork roasts are much the same as the beef, but I do often brine the pork first, then sear in a 450°F oven with the rub and fat already on it and then decrease the heat after 10 minutes. Cook until the probe screams out at 140°F and pull it. Let that rest for 10 to 15 minutes and slice, looks a bit like this. ^
You can do the same with a good, thick, steak burger, or a filet mignon ( excellent by the way, especially with herb butter and or Boursin). The key here is the process: sear, then rub and finish in the oven.
Have fun, and cheers!
My Samsung S-5 has pretty good photo and video quality, but doing everything one handed can be a bit of a bear! Especially when your five year old son is waaaaay too excited about fire at 8:30 in the morning! We promise to get some equipment that will showcase just how beautiful the fire really is, er, I mean food, not the gorgeous, wonderful flames!!!
No idea where my kid gets it...
Seasons change and the world continues to turn.
Here at the conclusion of the year 2015 I find myself typing my first ever blog post on our new company laptop at my dining room table a.k.a. the “home office”. Well, at least if the IRS is asking about that deduction later then that’s what we’re calling it. For those who found this page by following the link from the Hahn Family Wines website - thank you for coming over to check us out! Or, perhaps you looked us up from the information on the baggie of Chef’s Palette Porcini Espresso Rub that you purchased in their tasting room nestled in the beautiful Santa Lucia Highlands (double thanks to you! You actually had to type all of that in!) Regardless of how you got here, welcome. A lot of you may not be aware of my departure from Hahn but fret not. As you can see, we intend to maintain or relationship and commitment to bring you all the superb recipes and pairing ideas that you have come to enjoy as part of your wine club membership but with a couple of added bonuses: the first is that when I mention some mysterious spice rub that you should use but I never give you the recipe for, well, now you can order it and have it fulfilled by Amazon if you so desire! My lovely and brilliant wife and I have been laboring through the night to get our own little business off the ground and are planning for a full launch this Spring of not only our own line of gourmet spice rubs featuring the highest quality and organic ingredients we can get our hands on but I will also be offering my palate and my palette for hire to all of our wonderful friends in the wine, beer, and spirits trades that want to showcase their pride and joy alongside a culinary creation that will leave all in attendance talking about the experience for years to come. The other bonus is that I will also have more time to teach and talk about food, wine, and whatever else pops into my brain and spills across my backlit keyboard! (Can you tell I like the new laptop – my old one wasn’t backlit…and they keys were in cuneiform. And one of the apps was an actual abacus. Okay, maybe not that bad, but you get the picture right? The printer used papyrus. Sorry, I’ll stop).
So, enough about ME let’s talk about MEAT! Prime rib, or standing rib roast refers to a preparation of a big-ass slab of the ribeye section of beef which can be USDA Prime, Choice, or Select. On this cut of meat the grading can actually be quite important as one of the major factors used in determining the grade is the marbling. I typically use Choice, as it is widely available and not as expensive as Prime cuts. This is why I chose to make this post more of a how-to than a recipe. I started using this process a few years ago after reading about it in Cook’s Illustrated and then did some research on how a few other chefs did theirs. You will need one four to six rib roast - weight varies on whether you get bone-in, boneless, grass-fed, organic, Kobe/Wagyu, or pygmy - or whatever is in style this year. I bought a six bone roast that weighed in at 16 pounds to test the rub recipe and make sure everything was just right and believe it or not, that little 32-gram baggie covered every last bit perfectly! It was also a good excuse to have some friends over and open a bottle of Gabrielle Pinot Noir (and a Lucienne or two, and some Smith & Hook Westside Cab!) You will also need a remote probe thermometer or that cool iPhone thing that I still don’t have. The sides are up to you, but you have to have the au jus and the horseradish sauce (ask nicely and buy more of my spice rubs and maybe I’ll jot those recipes down too J). I always like twice baked potatoes or garlic mash and some green beans and/or a salad but definitely up to you. Alright, enough yappin’- let’s do this!
Buy your roast up to 1 week in advance of your dinner and do any trimming or Frenching of the ribs that you may want to do. If you buy the whole primal at Costco or somewhere comparable, trim the smaller (the N.Y. end down until you have the size you need for dinner, you want the part with the “eye” of fat in it – figure at least 1 1/4 pound per person of precooked meat if boneless, and about 2 pounds if bone in, or 2 people per rib). Salt the roast, using one tablespoon of salt per four pounds of meat, guestimation is okay but don’t go too crazy. The longer the roast sits, the better the salt penetrates and the enzymes in the meat start to break down the connective tissue and develop a more flavorful cut of beef. Wrap the roast in paper towels, then plastic and put safely in the refrigerator until show time. Now the fun part: searing the meat. Do you have a blow torch? You might want one – you know, just in case. Otherwise you can use your top broiler in your oven or even your grill. I typically use my blowtorch outside, on my grill; keeps things a little safer and no less fun. Lightly rub the meat with a little oil and commence the sear! Once it is all nice and crusty I smear on some rendered bacon fat and then dust it evenly with the rub but you can use some clarified butter or oil if you like. Sprinkle and pat the rub evenly on the greased up surface but avoid rubbing the meat - you’ll go blind. Okay not really, but the spices will cake to your hand and not the roast and that, is no bueno. Next, insert the probe into the THINNEST end of the roast and place uncovered in an oven set to 170 °F. If your oven goes lower than that (most do not), then by all means, set it to 110°F and have a much more relaxing day! *Disclaimer: What you are about to do is keep a large piece of meat in a warm, yet undercooked state for eight hours – but don’t stress, we killed any potential pathogens with pure, unadulterated fire after we salted the outside heavily to kill everything and before service you can bring the internal temperature to a safe temperature to ensure that everything is absolutely dead (of course, too far over 135°F means your roast’s flavor will be a bit dead too K). I just kind of have to mention all of that to you to cover my butt food safety wise, hopefully it gives you piece of mind rather than worry you. Feel free to fact check me or shoot me a message and ask.
If your oven does not go below 170°F you will need to do a touch more babysitting. Set you probe thermometer’s alarm to 107°F and work on other stuff for a while (like a bottle of Chard., a couple beers, or maybe your side dishes – your call). When the alarm goes off turn off the oven and probably the alarm. The carry-over heat will bring the roast up close to 120°F but not over. The enzymatic breakdown that contributes to all the buttery flavor that you will enjoy in but a few mere hours stops at 122°F, and we don’t want that, not yet. The heat will slowly start to drop again and when it hits 110°F turn it back on and reset your probe’s alarm to 107°F. By the time it comes back up you should be about six hours in – but the timing is really up to you when you want it to be done. If you started early, you can stall it out a bit by opening the oven and turning it off for 30 minutes and then starting it back up afterward. One hour from service is when you can turn the heat up to 250°F for 20 minutes and then to 400°F for about 10 more minutes after that. Set the probe thermometer’s alarm to 125°F and when it goes off, pull the roast from the oven. Let it rest for 20-30 minutes whilst you finish your sides and get your wine poured. Carve, serve and enjoy responsibly!
Seriously not into all of this? Fear not! Another post is coming soon to tell you what else you can do with that fabulous little spice packet now that it’s in your hot little hands!
Dyon J. Foster
Dyon J. Foster, Chef/Owner
Tips, tricks, tutorials, videos and odd ramblings that will probably mention food and drink!
Chef’s Palette Spice Rubs