tasty nom nom an exception to the daily meal


Trial By Fire


It's never a good sign when dinner ends up looking like this:


A few weeks ago N suggested we use the Egg and wood-fire pizza for dinner. I didn't have enough time to make my favorite pizza dough, so I delayed that menu plan until this weekend.

N and I have different philosophies on game night dinners. I have no qualms about trying something for the first time. N typically would prefer to do a trial run in advance. This time we didn't bother with a trial. In retrospect, I wish we had!

pizza mosaic
dough & pizza-fail

N managed to heat the Egg up beyond the thermometer's max of 800°F. I guess it was close to 1000°F. Insane.

trick pizza
trick pizza

The problem with the pizza cooking was many-fold. In the end it ended up that there needed to be an air gap between the burning wood and the ceramic that the pizza is cooked on. Without that gap, the bottom crust of the pizza simply burnt almost immediately. The taste of charred, melted cornmeal and creosote is not a good one! This video at Big Green Egg explains how they set up the Egg for making pizza.

A couple of days after this fire-eating dinner fail N and I tried the BGE method for pizza. It was much more successful. The pizza was actually edible and the bottom of the crust was not a big sheet of firey black!

Another, more successful, trial from this evening was flammkuchen. N and I were in Munich a few years ago and had a meal at a fischmarkt. I had herring while N had something that looked like a pizza. I later found out it was flammkuchen (also known as tarte flambée). It's from the Alsace region and is traditionally a very thin flatbread topped with quark (or crème fraîche), thin-sliced onions, and speck (lardo). Whole Foods carry quark and speck (their speck is actually prosciutto though), so I was able to make a flammkuchen-like. It was the only bright spot of the meal for me! I'll definitely make it again.

flammkuchen, uncooked

After we suffered through embarrassment and creosote mouth, we ducked out to our weekly haunt in Duvall for some edible food. After that, we returned home for a quick game.

N tried to talk us into Bohnanza, but it was vetoed in favor of Uno. Oh no.

j gives E a lot of points

You win! I admit, I am totally sick of Uno and I wish we'd played Bohnanza.

See you later! Hope your burn-taste-mouth has faded.

* Favorite pizza dough is from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice, Pizza Napoletana. The dough comes together quickly, has an extended fermentation (I find it has best taste after a couple of days of fermentation), and is very easy to work with. It also freezes great. Highly recommended.


Win some, lose some

DSC_5162eggs, not mangled

Do you remember the last time you made deviled eggs, I made a comment about how I can not cook and peel boiled eggs without looking like .. hmm, like a cat dragged them in? (Hi Chester! Do you like eggs?) Well, this is the second time I've attempted these almost hard-boiled eggs, and I managed not to mangle the egg whites. I feel so ... accomplished. A tiny celebration. These eggs were chopped up to go into the ever popular Tuscan Kale slaw - a safe dish to go with ...

DSC_5166putting on salt crust

... a salt crusted beef brisket. G found this recipe, I don't know where. He rubbed the brisket with our coffee rub, then lots of coarse sea salt, mixed with pepper and rosemary, plus a little water, then smoked to 205°. We are filing this dish under Trials. The crust peeled off easily after cooking. Even with thin slices across the grain, it was still a bit tough. N said it tasted like roasted beef. Some parts of it, I think the thinner edge, was tender. The center was definitely tough.

And because of the water crackers you put out last week, I caught the water crackers craving ... really... but also

DSC_5171mmm, cream cheese

...the other day, I was marveling at how full the refrigerator is, which got me wondering what is taking up all this space. So I dug around and rediscovered the mango jalapeno jam (recipe minus red bell pepper), and raspberry chipotle jam (recipe, minus pectin and baking soda), and pickled baby corn (last season), and refrigerator pickles (also last fall)...   It may have looked like we were cleaning out the fridge, but really, it was all about the water crackers.

Besides the homemade miscellany, I put out two Mick's Peppouri  pepper jelly -  one pomegranate and one ghost pepper. Funny about the ghost pepper jelly, since G and his family like to burn their taste buds off, I bought the ghost pepper for them. one. G, even after my initial warning, ate a giant teaspoon of it the first time he tried it. Yea.

DSC_5173kale slaw, with meat and grilled summer squash

Shocker that someone still wants to play Settlers of Catan, really.

Untitled start of game 1

Untitled bank is out of wheat

Untitled N won, with the longest road, me thinks one of his strategy

Three of us at 9 points, argh! Game 2 - Three of us, at 9 points

When do you think we can escape Settlers of Catan?


Thanksgiving Trials

Dear E,

I daydreamed about serving grilled cheese and soup for Thanksgiving this year, to serve the opposite of an over-the-top meal but keep the comfort. Of course that's not what we're doing but I am keeping soup on the menu.

soup trial
soup trial

I thought that serving soup as a starter would be a pleasant change -- the freezing weather outside may have something to do with this decision. The problem with serving soup at Thanksgiving that soup can be very filling, especially the sort of soups that came to mind at first -- cream of cauliflower, butternut squash, potato-leek. I also didn't want to just serve chicken broth! I happened across a recipe for roasted garlic soup that sounded light enough but with a bit of body to it. I shared the recipe with N and he thought it also sounded good but suggested that I make for us first. Good call!

I made the soup for dinner last Thursday (with a couple of modifications) and I think it fits into that little round box I hoped it would. We will see how it goes next Thursday. See you then!

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Test Kitchen

Dear E,

The Labor Day long weekend gave N the inspiration to finally build the cold smoker he's been talking about for ages.

cold smoker
cold smoker

I admit I was a little skeptical about it, especially after seeing the first batch of salmon, which was brined and ended up a bit wetter than it should have. Each subsequent batch was better and the cold smoker works great. Not bad for less than $100 investment in terracotta pots and trash cans!

While N was out buying fish to smoke, he discovered beef ribs. We haven't been able to find beef ribs in years, so of course he picked up a couple of racks and he though he'd give them a try.

Huge rib
blurry beef rib

The ribs were absolutely enormous! I think they tasted fine but the texture was a little off. They were great reheated.

I threw together a quick cabbage salad with two types of cabbage, onion, green onion, granny smith apple, and thin-sliced bell pepper. It was a very simple dinner!

While we played some Uno and Bohnanza, N smoked more fish in the cold smoker. I anticipate more test kitchen trials in the next few weeks! Get ready! Worst case I guess we order a pizza!