June 2006 Archives

Cool! I thought for sure I was the only meat related entry. Apparently not and I win Meatiest Category at this version of Does my blog look good in this?
What is this happening? It's a contest where you are asked to choose a post with the best image out of a specific month. You send this url to the hosting food blog and then at some point they judge it. Cool, eh?

If you take the time to check out the entries, they're pretty darned good. I like the chicken stock ice cube one, neat.

Congratulations to me.


Which one of those words don't belong? Which one of those words don't quite fit? You guessed it Sherlock, the word Beach is what I was looking for.
Have you ever been sitting at your desk and said to yourself, "Okay, I've had enough of this. I need a breather." Today was that day.

Creepy E mentioned on Thursday that low tide would be at 9:45 this morning, Friday. So, with buckets and gloves in tow, we made our way (it took 6 minutes to get there) to Point Isabel. Or more commonly known as Tepco Beach.

Wachu talkin' 'bout Willis? I'm talking about Tepco Beach. The place where a local China Ware company over 50 years ago would dump all their imperfect or damaged plates, platters, mugs, bowls and whatever else needed to go. Tepco's deal was they made heavy duty restaurant ware and put fancy patterns on it. They even made china for our armed forces. So, the variantions are immense and fun and very collectible. Well, at least their collectible when they aren't in a million little pieces.

Wanna come play at the beach?

I was just flipping through Shuna's Eggbeater and noticed she's got Knife Skills class coming up. The location is in San Francisco, so if you're even remotely close, sign up now. It's a small class so space will go.
I attended Shuna's first knife skills class back in February of 2005. I learned enough to find myself supreming sectioned fruit like a madman. I still do it on a regular basis today and love every minute of it. I find myself now inspecting my fruits or veggies to see if I can get the skin off somehow and make it even nicer. It usually ends up looking like a beaver had its way with it, but it's nice to try and see.
A note to ya'll who wait. Shuna does this as she see's fit. You may not get another chance this year or it could happen twice next month. So, if you're on the wall waiting to see? You lose.
Sign up now for Shuna's Knife Skills Class in SF.

Saturday July 22nd
1-3pm Bernal Heights, San Francisco

We don't eat much beef steak or fancy beef roasts around these parts (Meathenge Labs). Why? For several reasons. One of which being it costs too much. The other is that I find beef is really quite quirky as to its cooking times. One minute you have perfection and in five? A stinky ol' boot. While this isn't a problem for skilled meat craftsman, I've got 2 small boys and their neighborhood friends about my feet at most times. I need a meat that will give me a few minutes of leeway.
That being said, I had my Highland Hills Farm Chateaubriand from the farmer's market last Saturday and Monday night seemed a perfect moment for me and my meat.
Today I'd like to offer up a few pictures and meat technology that might help some of you getting a good steak from your range in your kitchen. I didn't have time for the grill and I hate my broiler. So, off we go!

Sheeyit that's good bacon. And I don't mean just good bacon. No sir, that's good bacon. Wanna know how I know? Cause I probably had 1/3 of that pound I bought, that's how. Interested to know why I ate so much?

This here is last week's Cattail Creek Lamb Brochettes marinated in Harissa. We grilled them nicely until done. Then we stood around and ate them. And then, we sat down.

Ick. We're smack dab in the middle of a heat wave around these parts. I imagine we'll see 90s here and it'll hit triple digits inland. My fresh flower garden gets a watering twice a day and we mostly just sit around and sweat. But as the sun starts to dip, as the ocean breezes kick in about 5pm, Biggles hits the grill and it's sausage time!
Good thing too cause this week Fatted Calf scored bigtime on some fancy porcini and morel murshrooms. The porcini are going in the quail. And brother, I can tell you these stuffed quail were built for the grill or smoker. They don't take long and please be gentle. You will be rewarded. The morel murshrooms are going in links. Oh man I'll bet those are rich and juicy. Get your mesquite going, toss on a handful of hickory chips and lay out your links. If the heat is blistering, let it burn down for 10 minutes or so before you install your food.
Oh man, this week are the Devil's Gulch Rabbit Crepinettes with Roasted Shallots. Those shallots are so creamy perfect for rabbit, it's like their sisters or something. Sister Shallot and Sister Rabbit, HAHAHAHaahhah. I think I've just come up wtih my first children's book.
This is an excellent week for a visit. The weather will be nice, the sausage is fresh and I'll bet you could find a nice salumi to fit the need. See you at the market!


Happy Father's Day 2006

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How is this Saturday treatin' ya'll? Doing really well here, for sure. We've got a nice tri-tip beef roast with a curry based dry rub with a tad of dried herbies and a little hot cajun sprinkled over. The grass fed organic beef chuck roast is more of a cajun rub and both are topped with bacon rosettes.

And where we have a nice chicky all trussed up with a lemon herb action going and I sprinkled a little hot spicy cajun on this one as well. This would be the Tony Chachere's action.
All said meats are on the low level, low heat track to goodness in a handful of hours. I expect the skin of the chicken to be crispy, yet juice will run when sliced. The beefs will be smoked to maybe 135 and pulled to rest.

Cheers to you all on a wonderful day!


Do you ever get that feeling you're the last one on planet earth to find out? Find out that Pappy makes a fricken great out of the jar experience rub? I feel like a dope.
As with many of us food nutcases, I shop at many food related stores. And I find myself at our local Raley's from time to time. I'd go to Safeway, but our demographics won't allow it to be worth visiting. Unless all you need is vinegar or diapers. Anyway, I've been shopping at our local Raley's since maybe 1991. And I remember seeing this rack of seafood spices and jars of glop since way back. Since I don't pay much mind to 'grocery store' mass produced rubs and sauces, I passed it up, and over and up again.
I did until this last week. I decided to finally walk over and see what was in it. Kosher salt flakes, paprika, pepper, coriander, mustard, celery seed, garlic, onion and fine herbs. There's nothing in there that sucks. Well, except the garlic, but that's another rant of mine for another day. This stuff is good, very good. I've used it as a dry rub on meat and last night did stir fried onions over the grill (mesquite and hickory). Mama and I snarfed the onions before the burger! Well, at least I did anyway. Go Pappy go!
Turns out Pappy's Choice Seasoning is only one of many fancy things they make. There's a salt free one that I want too. This version with the salt flakes can get out of hand pretty quick if you don't watch it. But if you do? You'll most certainly be rewarded. I found it excellent on beef roasts, chickens, pork and veggeis. I would think the salt free version would be better for things like soups & stews where you more than likely have enough salt already and don't need to be adding no more saline action.
I think next week I'll place an order for some large containers of this stuff, yessir. Thanks Pappy for making such a nice off-the-shelf product and I apologize for blowing you off for so long. I'll do better!


More than a few months ago Chilebrown stopped by to drop off some bacon he'd made and gave me this Air-Grill thingy. It's a hand-held hand driven portable blower that allows you to get a jolt of constant air in to your grill or smoker fire. At first glance it seemed jicky and didn't seem to me that'd blow much air. CB said he felt it worked quite well and I left it at that.
Over the coming months I used it more and more frequently. While I don't need help with getting the initial fire going, when you add cold hunks of wood to an existing fire, it's nice to give it a jump start. Plus it means less of a temp drop in your smoker. My next job for the little beast was to assist the hickory chips to ignite cleaner. See, if you add too much smoking chips to your fire, you'll get a lofty white smoke with clear tinges of brown. That's bad, that's creosote and it's bitter. The Air Grill now allows me to get the chips going, worry free. I consider this tool as essential as my leather gloves, lighter and wood. I haven't tried it yet, but I think it would be good for dust/coal maintenance for outdoor dutch oven cooking. Thank you CB for the best grill gift EVER.


That right there is why some people shouldn't be allowed to futz around in photoshop. It's a pork crepinette and lordy, it sure as hell doesn't look like one now, eh?

Father's Day is coming up and it's time to head outdoors for some supreme cooking action. While I was typing this up I sent off my order for a package of the chops and a package of the brochettes. I haven't had either yet and I think it's high time I digged in to see what the scoop is. Expect some blazing images next week of these fine delectibles.
OoO, hey. They've got quite a load of goodies under the Salumi heading. Mortadella, Saucisson Sec, Finocchiona, Pancetta & Spanish Style Chorizo. And last but not anywhere near least are our two buddies, Fegatelli and Petit Sec Aux Herbes. I love those two little guys. I usually get one and eat it while I'm walking past, way past all the organic veggie stands.
I would suggest you make a point of picking up some bacon, no really. It looks as though Taylor has hit a sweet spot with the cure & smoking process. It's some damned amazing stuff. Plus it's cut nice and thick so you can get a handle on it and not worry about over cooking it too damed fast. You get bacon, ya hear?
It's an excellent wind up for this coming Saturday's market in Berkeley. I hope to see you there and no, you don't have to wear bells. Of course you could if you wanted to, I'll leave that up to you. See you there!
Now please continue on to their newsletter and read their fancy menu.

Meathenge Labs Advances

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Don't look bad for Richmond, eh? A handful of seasons ago I bought and had built this "barn". It's only 10'x12' but it holds the crap from our 20'x20' garage. What this means is, our detached garage is open for my library of cookbooks, records, computers and the boy's xbox gaming area.

How would you like to wake up each morning to this view? I do. And I want to personally thank Cousin Bob and Uncle Eddy for the job. I had planned on painting it for sure. But after so much time, I realized I was never going to get it done.
I'm happy, pleased and well taken care of.


I have a friend, his name is Dave. Dave lives in Sacramento. Dave rides motorcycles. Dave does all kinds of fun things. Dave and I met probably 7 or 8 years ago and he's always followed a path seldom traveled by anyone I know or have heard of. Played in a punk rock star trek band wearing a Mugato suit? Dave has done it. Ride a motorcycle riding said suit? Yup. Pissed off an entire house of women by reving the piss out of a 1964 Dart with a race motor? Dave has done it. Circumnavigate Australia on a leaky 40 year old Italian motorcycle by himself? Dave has done it. Crash the Oscars and get his picture taken with Keanu Reeves in the foreground? Dave has done that too.
Now Dave has another feather in his hat. I triple-dog dare you to read further.

Well, that was a lot of fun. Pastry Chef Shuna Lydon of Eggbeater held her Pate Choux class yesterday in Berkeley. We got to hang out all afternoon in Poulet's fancy kitchen. I have to say it sure is nice cooking in a large kitchen. The work areas have plenty of room, the stove and ovens are powerful and the capacities give me the chills.
Shuna sat us down for some lecture action. She had a few major points that she felt if we got nothing else, get these. After the lecture it was time for us to get some hands on experience wrangling the choux. Yee haw!
She ran through a large batch on the 20 quart Hobart. Man, she wrastled that beast like a pro, she's no slouch. The large batch filled some pastry bags so we could all practice squeezing out the choux. And brother, or sister, we needed practice. While this was going on several students were getting a second small batch going. And then another made with a milk base so we could do donuts! The afternoon flew by while she talked, conversed and taught. Questions were asked and mad pastry skills demonstrated. Everyone pitched in and did their part to learn. This is far better than attempting something on your own. There's only so much you can learn from books. Being able to have someone there saying, "That's how it should look like, right there." is invaluable. A great day.
If you're in the area and not signing up for her classes, you're out of your fricken mind. This woman's passion for the pastry, the teaching, ingredients and their roots is amazing. Shuna understands completely the relationship of the ingredients and this all comes together in a class worth more than double. Yesterday's class held a few professional cooks, a caterer, interested bakers, a few bloggers, home chefs and a hillbilly with his wife. We all had a great time and learned to listen to your dough, touch your dough, feel your dough, keep yer eye balls on it and last but not least, taste your dough. It tasted pretty darned good too.
Before I leave you for today I wish to express upon you a point of my own. Listen up, Shuna's classes aren't on a schedule. She does them when she sees fit. The topic covered yesterday may never be taught again. If you're thinking to yourself, "Ahhh, I'll just catch the next one." You've lost.
So, don't be a loser and keep your ears piqued over at Eggbeater and don't miss out.


Another one of those multi-colored pizza flyers showed up on our doorstep a few weeks ago. In the past I would have tossed it. I'm not a fan of these franchised or cookie cutter establishments that show up for a year or so, then disapear as quietly as they arrived. But after Rworange from a local food related forum started checking these local Richmond places out, I had to see what they had.
Come on, you just gotta know what's in this sammich.

Fatted Calf's Savory Pork sausage with Greens. A little snack from a week ago or so. Juicy good, can you see?

Red Wattle piggies. Boy you don't see those around too darned often, at least around these parts. They're an even tempered happy little beast, easy to work with. They're pretty darned large and yet quite lean when you get down to it. Lousy for a pig when you're looking to render lard. But darned good when you want a highly flavorful pork loin roast. I googled them and came up with this outstanding reference for the Red Wattle breed. This is an excellent read and at the bottom it lists the Status as Critical. What this means directly is, that if you and I don't support the ranchers that provide us these fine little piggies for market, they gone. So, Biggles says, "If we're going to save this dying breed of awesome pigginess, starting eating them now!"
Up next is the fancy Pork Crepinette with Morel Mushrooms. Man, I just had last week's lamb crepinettes and they were bright & creamy. Pan fried them I did! Shuna offered up a nice way of searing them. Get your dutch oven smoking hot, then toss a few in. Turn down the heat and finish them up. Tell you whut, the sumbitch will have some TASTE.
Ooo, this is the first week the Knockwurst have been included. I'm hoping they're here to stay. Maybe I'll get myself a package this week, I'm about ready. I am out of Fine Germain Mustard though, feh. Oh and look what we have down here, Rabbit Pate with Chives! My favorite of all time. There's nothing like a sweet wonderful rabbit pate wtih the quiet spritely love of chives. Nope, nothing like it.
And don't forget to pick up some bacon this week, it's a fine example of cured belly smoked happiness. I hope to see you at the market this coming Saturday morning. Take care and may your meat always be fresh.

Now please read on to the Fatted Calf Newsletter not written by me.

Hells bells, how the hell to I pronounce it?!?! I know how to find out, that's for sure. Shuna Lydon of Eggbeater is a fancy pasty chef and is putting up a class this coming weekend. It's on Sunday from 1 to 3:30pm in Berkeley. I've taken her knife skills class, hosted same class and taken her baking class. She more than knows what she's doing, plus she's got cool stories about working in professional kitchens. This is my favorite, even the horror stories. WoooOOOooOoo.
What is Pate Choux? Here's what Shuna has to say about it.

Pate Choux. Its versatility is practically unmatched. A double-cooked dough, choux looks easy on paper but can be confounding upon attempt. Whether for savoury or sweet use, choux is the work-horse of the dough world. It's the lumber jack, the invisible plain Jane of grade-school, the nerdy kid who became the computer genius. The wolf in sheep's clothing.
Pate choux can carry the weight of salty dry cheese and become an elegant gougere, puff so high its airy center can hide a clown-car's amount of whipped cream or custard, be poached to become a rich gnocchi, and fried in any shape to become a beloved doughnut or churro.

I know it's short notice, but there's only a few spaces left and if you're on the fence about it, RIGHT NOW is the time to register.
Look, it's only $68 dollars. How could this possibly be wrong?
Please visit the Pate Choux post on her blog for the particulars.

Sunday June 11, 2006

Berkeley, CA 1-3:30 pm


Come one, come all, come hungry to learn.

Here is this week's batch of bacon. We noticed last week it was a tad salty, Taylor thought so as well. So, he did up a different mix on the cure and here we have it. This right here? Is good bacon.

I remember back around 1998, during the early summer it was. I was out in the yard spending time with a grill that I no longer have. It was the best grill in the world, an old charbroiler. It had a rotisserie, access to the coals without opening the lid and cast iron cooking grates. But after 30 + years of service, it rusted out and that was pretty much that. It lived a good life in my yards over the years. I learned how to rotisserie pork ribs, chickens, turkeys, just about anything. Anyway, this was about 8 years ago and I laid my first piece of bacon on a grill. I know, I know, you've been doing it for years. Even so, it was a day that changed my life forever. You see, cooking bacon (indirectly of course) with a real wood fire delivers you flavors and textures you couldn't possibly have dreamed of. It crumbles over beans, salads, vegetables, pasta and just about anything else you could think of. Or do what we did and just stand there eating it, piece by piece.
So, if you have the smoker or grill fired up, throw on some bacon and live the life. You'll be glad you did.


ps - Just in case you think you're smart and quick and decide to cook the bacon directly, don't. It'll create a grease fire that'll cause you a lot of grief and time. Plus it'll ruin your bacon.

Fatted Calf turns another page and enters a fresh chapter in the Meat Tomb (as of today, still unfinished). Look above my pitiful words here and you'll see Fatted Calf's first Knockwurst. Both Mama and I enjoyed the thick, highly seasoned wiener. OoOoO, and how did I prepare it? The proper way, in boiling water for 5 minutes. Serve with fine German mustard and that, is that. Turns out Taylor is quite interested in making German meat products and this is our first taste. It's also one of the first products where he used his new smoker. And since it is a new smoker, I had to try the bacon.

This bacon is a solid performer, nice thick slices and an even high quality smoke. The cure tended to be tad on the salty side, but just a bit. I think I'd like to taste a little more smoky smoke. I'm a huge fan of smoke flavors, just in case you hadn't noticed. We had this package of bacon just as a snack before dinner, the chillins had piece after piece. And that's saying something because Tiny E rarely likes anything more than buttered toast.

This week's menu is quite a line-up and starts with Hoffman farm Quail stuffed with Basque Sausage. Grill, roast or smoke until internal temp is about 140 or so, pull and let rest. Be careful, they're dainty! And order now cause there ain't many. Hey, that almost rhymes. They're dainty and they ain't many, neat.
Second up is the fancy Berkshire Pork Brochettes with Thyme, Rosemary, Lavender and Fleur de Sel. Uh, I ain't never had these, but I can tell you this, they rock. Just check out the ingredients, that's how we know. These just simply must be grilled over a real wood fire. Any other way would be a crime against meat nature.
The crepinettes this week are the lamb ones with red wine and nicoise olives. Oh man, I just love those salty little olives in sausage meat. It's such a nice bright surprise. These really should be grilled outside or use a high sided dutch oven rig to fry them in, they splatter like heck. Good though, real good. And the lamb isn't all gamey either, it's more than quite fresh and absolutely perfect for the crepinette way of life.
Well, I believe you should read their newsletter and see what you like on the menu. If you have any questions don't hesitate to axe. I hope to see you this coming Saturday morning first thing at the Berkeley Farmer's Market.


The last few weeks have been interesting to say the least around Meathenge Labs. It's only today I've come to a place where my chakras would allow me to semi-coherently write this without just spending 10 minutes swearing, gesticulating and planning public demonsrations. You see, the compressor on our 3.5 year old, 1200 dollar refrigerator went out, 13 days ago. Where's the repair person? We may see them by June 9th.
While this post isn't necessarily about food, it is about something that nearly everyone has and it holds food. It keeps all your favorite condiments, beverages, icey creams & meat safe. If I were you, I'd sit up and pay attention. Come along for a few minutes, this involves everyone.


Send Biggles a communication!

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This page is an archive of entries from June 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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