Tuesday, March 30, 2010

New Orleans' Spelling Bee Tests Pork Knowledge

'Bratwurst' brings bee at Xavier to a savory end. It was down to two spellers when Andrew Nguyen, 12, got stuck.

In the 20th round of Saturday's regional spelling bee, Andrew asked for his word's origin. German, he was told.

Then he asked for its definition. "Fresh pork sausage, " replied TV news anchor Norman Robinson, who read the words at Xavier University event.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

No Pork or Alcohol? Yeah, right...

So I found this in the news: KFC diner told 'you can't have bacon in your burger here - we're now halal'

I'll preface this post by saying that I try at all costs to avoid eating fast food. To me almost everything that is served out of a window is the culinary equivalent of those little temporary "donut" spare tires that come with Toyotas and Nissans. They will get you by, buy you only use them when you absolutely have no other choice.

That said, I am increasingly irked by the stuff like this. What the hell is KFC doing trying to be halal-compliant? The article readily admits that they don't kill their chicken according to halal rules. Either do it or don't. It is ridiculous to think that they can tell a customer to go 5 miles down the road to the next non-halal compliant KFC.

This is the latest in a series of what I view to be dumb moves in the fast food industry. In case you missed it, Culatello covered the McDonald's debacle over the McItaly promotion.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Just how many things can you grill at once?

Since my sausage-making has been at an ebb tide lately, I thought I would post my weekend grill report. We have had an unseasonably cold and rainy winter in here in New Orleans, which has inhibited my usual 12-month grilling season. This past weekend was a return to normal, so I jumped at the chance to fire up the Weber. (Someday I will replace the the old logburner that Katrina stole from me...but that's a whole other story.)

I decided that Sunday was mixed grill night. This is usually an effort to see just how many different things I can cook at once. As you can see here, that can be quite a bit.

Pictured are:
  • Chicken and Pork in a Dill-Mustard Marinade
  • Green Onion Pork Sausage
  • Red and Green Bell Peppers
  • Portabella Mushrooms
  • Zucchini
  • Squash
  • Corn
  • Roma Tomatoes
  • Bananas
All this served with a side of chicken-infused rice. There is just something special about food cooked over an open fire. Especially if the grill tender has a clue what he (or she) is doing. My fire was hot enough to put a good crust on the meats without overcooking them. I am also a fan of grilled veggies and fruits, especially bananas. Yes, I said bananas. My wife thought it was weird too until she tried them. I sprinkle them with a little cinnamon and brown sugar, then rub with a small amount of melted butter. I grill them for a few minutes to caramelize the sugar and warm them through. Then I serve them on the "half-shell". They are surprisingly good. Give them a try next time you fire up the grill.

Overall, I'd call Sunday's dinner resounding a success.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Disaster of Biblical Proportions

I envision the conversation in the mayor's office going like this:

Chefs Call Proposed New York Salt Ban 'Absurd'

MYFOXNY.COM - Some New York City chefs and restaurant owners are taking aim at a bill introduced in the New York Legislature that, if passed, would ban the use of salt in restaurant cooking.
"No owner or operator of a restaurant in this state shall use salt in any form in the preparation of any food for consumption by customers of such restaurant, including food prepared to be consumed on the premises of such restaurant or off of such premises," the bill, A. 10129 , states in part.

Somehow, I think that this law is ultimately doomed. Can you imagine New York without pastrami, corned beef, or lox in the delis? No Italian sausage in (what's left of) Little Italy? I can't. Although New York has banned smoking and transfats, so the precedent is certainly there. It becomes a slippery slope once you accept the argument that something can be banned because it is bad for public heath. Any good toxicologist will tell you, "It's not the poison that kills you, its the dosage." Salt, fat, sugar, and alcohol are all bad for you excess but safe and even good for you in moderation.

I was once stopped by U.S. Customs in Newark for attempting to bring wild boar salami home from Italy. I had declared it, so no harm done other than my wounded wallet and ego. However, I think that qualifies as experience in trafficking salted meats. Maybe there is a salami bootlegging career to be had if this becomes law. (Kidding, of course.)


Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Pastrami is a Hit!

Here it is. It was one of the easiest and best tasting things I have made yet. What you see here is served as follows:
  • Toasted German wheat bread
  • Wafer-thin slices of pastrami
  • Thin slices of a decent baby-Swiss
  • Spicy whole grain mustard
  • Pickles
I layered the pastrami on a sheet of tin foil and topped it with the baby-swiss. Then I put it under the broiler. I slathered the toasted bread with mustard and added pickles. When the cheese was bubbling and the edges of the pastrami where beginning to crisp, I slid the whole works onto the waiting bread. Let me tell you that this is one of my favorite sandwiches.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Some Housekeeping

First, the pastrami is done and it is a resounding success. Pictures and a write-up to follow soon.

Second, a hat-tip to Tony (My in-house answer to Rick Steves) for the following:
"In bocca al lupo" is the traditional Italian way of saying good luck. Directly translated it means "in the mouth of the wolf", refering to when Romulus and Remus are saved and mothered by a she-wolf (As far as I understand.)
The proper response to "In bocca lupo" is "crepi il lupo" which means - "
death to the wolf."
I don't know why you have to respond in this manner, but any other response is considered
bad luck.
(See also: Bocca Lupo)
More to come...