|GeezerGourmet.com seeks to foster a renewed
interest in home culinary arts among experienced home cooks
The GeezerGourmet (brief bio)
caters to clientele who have life-long experiences in home
cooking and now, as empty nesters and retirees, have the time
to renew their love of good food and its preparation.
The Geezer Gourmet assumes that you routinely cook for one
or two people; eat out quite often; still like to entertain
and are experienced at it; have adequately equipped kitchens;
and enjoy life and good health.
If you have some of the above attributes but are not a
geezer nor even approaching pre-geezerhood, thank God for
that, press on regardless, and welcome.
This is not a Web site for food phobics or wellness hypochondriacs
Maybe its a 60's thing, but I still need a shrimp cocktail
now and then to stay grounded. The keys to perfection are
not to overcook the shrimp and to put some heat into the
For the shrimp: Get some big ones (11-15 per pound). Peel.
Pour a bottle of beer into a pot and bring to boil (scim
off the suds). Place the shrimp in the boiling beer. Boil
for a minute or less. Then turn off the heat, cover the
pan and steep for another minute, not more. That's all folks!
Remove the shrimp, chill and hold.
For the sauce: 4 parts ketchup and 1 part horseradish,
a generous squirt of lemon juice, a few grains of salt,
3 or 4 grinds of pepper corn and a dusting of cayenne.
Why pepper and cayenne? Both contain capsaicin
but they work differently. Pepper is spicy and hot up front
in the mouth while cayenne is warm and hot in the back on
the mouth. You taste pepper right away and feel
Maybe the End to the Endless Quest
for a Great Commercial Salsa
I go through a lot of Blue Ridge Jams. (See the article
below on the many uses of savory pepper jams.) In addition,
jars of the stuff go out the door as house presents, which
I prefer to bringing wine. On my last order to Blue Ridge,
I included a couple jars of their Fiery Peach Salsa--just
to try. How fortuitous...this is good salsa!
Chunky with a little crunch, peachy and spicy with tomato
and peppers (seeds too)--finished with a lingering aftertaste
of heat. I just ordered more at Blueridgejams.com.
At Last, a Moist and Textured Meatloaf
A meatloaf has been posted
on this blog since 2007. I've been making ever since. But
I always wanted it to be less dense (less pâté
like) while still holding together. So I finally did some
research to find the fault. It turns out that the recipe
was OK--though it is much revised here--but the instructions
were wrong. Specifically, " . . . add the sirloin and
sausage and mix all well." Wrong!
The trick is to put together in a large bowl all the liquid
and dried ingredients and whisk them well without
the meats. Set the bowl aside. Then with a large
sharp knife, slice and chop the sirloin and sausage until
chunky. Then add them to the sauce and mix by hand
just enough to get it all together to form a loaf. Don't
over work it. This technique should produce a moist and
tender meatloaf. Over mixing the meat with the sauce just
packs the whole mess together.
So here we have:
Pleasant Grove Meatloaf Terrine (revised)
Yield: about 20 slices, more if cold and cut thin
See abbreviations, if needed
• 1/4 lb (optional) soppressata or pepperoni (about
20 thin slices) to line the terrine
• 2T EVOO
• 1 medium red or yellow onion, diced
• 2 cloves garlic, pureed or 2t of prepared garlic
• 2T diced jalapenos, drained
• 8 piquante sweet peppers “Peppadews”
(see article below), drained and chopped
• 1/4C fresh cilantro or parsley, finely chopped
• 1T Dijon mustard
• 2t Worchester Sauce
• 4 dashes Tennessee Sunshine
• 2 eggs
• 1/3C diced tomatoes (I really like Muir Glen Fire
Roasted Diced Tomatoes)
• 2 lbs ground sirloin
• 3/4 lb fresh hot pork sausage, casings removed (Italian
• 3/4C Panko or bread crumbs
• 1/4C barbecue sauce or catsup for topping
1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. Line the terrine with hard sausage slices
or grease it with EVOO
3. Sauté onions to transparent in the
4. Add the garlic and jalapenos and heat briefly
5. Empty the sauté pan into a large bowl
6. Break the eggs in a prep dish, whisk briefly
and then add them to the bowl
7. Add the sweet peppers and fresh cilantro
8. Add the mustard, Worchester, hot sauce and
9. Add the Panko and whisk
10. Add the sirloin and sausage and work it into the mixture,
by hand, briefly--don't over mix
11. Turn out the meatloaf and shape to fit the
12. Place the meatloaf into the terrine and press
to fit into the sides and edges
13. Form a shallow trench with finger tips along the
top of the meatloaf and fill it with barbecue sauce or catsup
14. Bake, uncovered, to 165F or slightly
higher, about 45 minutes (see safety note)
15 Remove from oven and skim off the any unsightly
fat that has bubbled to the surface
16. Find a spatula that fits the width of the terrine to
slice and neatly remove hot servings, or let cool completely
and then remove entire meatloaf
for slicing for cold servings
Safety Note Ground meat and fresh sausage must
be cooked to 165F before removing from
A Still Winter's Night . . .
Robotic Hands and Knees Scrubber
Do you remember the Two Second Rule: "If food falls
on the kitchen floor and you retrieve it in 2 seconds, it's
OK?" Well, it is not. Kitchen floors are dirty. Floors
in restaurant kitchens are scrubbed every night, if not
every shift. They're designed to be scrubbed--special tiles
and multiple drains. But at home? Not so much. Once a week
maybe. Swept or maybe dry-mopped in between a wet mopping.
Here at home, the kitchen has 100 square feet of flooring.
The cleaning lady comes but once every two weeks while I
push a damp Swiffer around in between. Spill something and
the paper towel comes up always showing dirt. It bothers
me. It's UNSAT.
A company called iRobot makes an array of mobile robots
for military, commercial and home applications. They have
just come out with a robot that scrubs hard floors. It's
called the iRobot Scooba 450. Place it on the floor, punch
the start button and it sweeps, pre-soaks, scrubs and squeegees
while making multi-passes for 20 or 40 minutes, as set.
It works . . . !
The kitchen floor is noticeably cleaner. I use it there
every three days and every week in two other tiled rooms.
It's fun to watch and doesn't annoy the dog.
There's Now an App For That
I have sung the praises of Nathan Myhrvold's Modernist
Cuisine at length on this blog. In my view, it is a
modern classic of lasting significance and import--a major
contribution to the literature of culinary science and practice.
His research has changed the way I cook something's and
introduced me to new techniques, especially sous vide and
Inkling Systems Inc., an application builder, has teamed
up with Modernist Cuisine to create MC@H as an app for iPhone
and iPad. The result is a beautiful e-book as spectacular
as the book itself. Ah, but the bottom line: Amazon sells
MC@H for $105--down from $140 when it first came out and
I got it. Inkling is selling the app for $79. ".
. .An app for $79!!!???"
How Inkling priced this is anyone's guess, but for starters:
they rebuilt the book for the screen--they did a lot of
reordering while leaving nothing out; it is a sophisticated
interactive app; has a notebook feature, a glossary and
index--all more easily navigable than the book. And it's
huge: 1.4 GB's! This app is all you need and it's $26 less
than the book set. But, it has no coffee table value and
it lacks the weight, heft and pleasure of paging through
the real thing. Otherwise, it is all there, text and photos
(spectacular). "But wait, there's more:"
The app has 260 additional recipes, 359 additional photos
and 37 videos. (which I assume they got from MC Labs).
It will wow ya.
So for $79, you can now get into Myhrvold's world of culinary
art and science. You might wish to make the trip.
Do You Need Another Tea Pot?
At last count there was a British teapot retired to the
garage, a very small Chinese teapot in a kitchen cabinet
somewhere and on display an elegant cast iron "tetsubin"
from some ancient iron works in Japan, featuring a raised
relief dragon. So why another?
I always have a carafe of iced tea in the fridge, made
in the carafe with boiling water poured over tea leaves
in a fitted basket. I sometimes drink it over lunch and
often with dinner. But I seldom make hot tea. It's a hassle
and too hard to get the tea-to-water ratio right, not to
mention the temperature of the water. It always tastes too
tannic. The tea industry has settled on the optimum temperatures
for each type of tea leaf and how long each should be steeped.
There's a lot of folklore too, mostly consistent with industry
standards. Assuming that there is something substantive
to all of this "how to make a proper pot of tea,"
a machine that makes it precisely 'by the numbers' should
produce a superior product.
Along come my good friends and tea lovers from Williamsburg--raving
about a new teapot that Santa brought, after much research
(by them not Santa). It's an Australian designed tea maker,
made for Breville in China. It is high tech and very well
made. It has settings for the type of tea leaf--matched
to the proper water temp for each, settings for desired
strength, an auto timer and other options. These settings
heat the water and control a tea basket inside the pot that
rides up and down a magnetic shaft in and out of the hot
water to steep.
I keep in stock white, green, black and oolong teas. This
tea maker makes better tea of them than I can, and it does
so quietly, quickly, precisely and consistently. I'm impressed.
And it's fun to watch, too. What's not to like? Price!
Found a big package of "Stir Fry Vegetable Blend"
at Costco yesterday. A lot of food at a good price, but
what to do with it all? Sure, the package has a re-sealable
zipper, but digging into it for a small serving is awkward
Instead, take the time and dump the whole package of veggies
into your biggest stainless steel bowl and then scoop-portion
them into one quart re-sealable freezer bags. That yields
about 8 freezer bags with 11 ounces of veggies, which is
a generous serving for one. Then, there is nothing left
do but fire up the wok or sauteuse, quick-grab a bag of
veggies from the freezer and stir away! So too with packages
like Trader Joe's frozen "Mushroom Risotto," which
is pretty good.
We Might Not Need This, But Then
Again . . .
This is a tool, called a Coravin, that accesses wine from
a bottle without removing the foil nor pulling the cork.
Neat trick. But why?
Well, the argument goes that the Coravin allows you to
have a glass or two of wine and then replace the bottle
in the cellar essentially unopened, in that the wine remaining
in the bottle has not been exposed to oxygen. Here's how
it works: A thin hollow needle is inserted through the cork;
the bottle is then pressurized with argon gas and tipped
over to pour; the needle is then removed from the cork and
the cork reseals itself. The remaining wine can then be
enjoyed by the glass, a day, week or months later. Neato.
Heretofore at home, I've used a vacuum sealer pump to better
preserve wine after opening by reducing the oxygen within
the bottle. It works well enough for another day--maybe
two--not more. I've since used the Coravin on a flight of
three wines and let them stand for a week--no worse for
being accessed. So, this tool allows an imbiber to access
any number of wines, new or old, again and again, until
the bottles are empty--first drop as good as the last. I
have a modest number of wines in the cellar that are 15+
years old, along with some mags. They are not getting any
better but I hesitate to open them for myself, since I never
finish a whole bottle. A mag may not be finished even with
a few guests.
Hail to the Coravin!
P. S. It should be noted that the operating cost of the
Coravin is high. The proprietary argon gas cartridges cost
$11 and are good for about 15 bottle charges, which comes
to 77 cents every time you push the trigger. (Other wine
dispensing systems use argon as well with their cartridges
costing $4 to $7.) So, if you're intent on sampling that
bottle of Two Buck Chuck you cellared ten years ago--it's
going to cost you more than the original price of the bottle!
Pepper Jellies (fruit jellies,
jams and preserves-mixed with jalapeno or habanero peppers)
Have Lots of Uses
I've been of fan of pepper jellies for years. I've tried
different brands but Blue Ridge Jams offers a wide selection,
all very good, with the added bonus that they are stable
and need not be refrigerated after opening.
Here's what to do with them: (First, think of them as savory
condiments more than pastry spreads)
As a side to omelets and scrambled eggs
As a dip with breakfast sausages
Mixed into cream cheese for bagels
On toast (peanut butter and jelly)
Spread thin on sandwich meat roll-ups (skip the sandwich
On hot dog and hamburger buns
Dips with chips
Nibbles and Cheese Plates:
Mixed in with cream cheese on celery
In ham rolls
Spread on top of soft cheese
Between crackers and hard cheese bites
As a side with smoked salmon
As a side with chicken, pork and ham (always on the table)
As a final glaze on grilled meats
As a prep-glaze on baked ham (apricot is the classic glaze)
As a prep-glaze on Dutch oven'd beef short ribs
And if all else fails:
Substitute a jar of pepper jelly for a bottle of wine as
a house present.
How to Sharpen Serrated Knives
I baked a red onion last night to go with a small pork
tenderloin. Looking at the recipe for the baked
whole onion I took note of Step 5, which reads in part
" When ready, slice each onion in half across the root
stem (a sharp serrated knife works best) . . " I pondered
to myself: how many sharp serrated knives have I used in
other kitchens? Few if any. And cutting a hot, soft onion
with a dull knife gets messy.
However, serrated knives can be sharpened with the right
tool. Namely a round tapered diamond stone, as made specific
to the task by DMT (Diamond Machining Technology). Since
one of these sharpeners cost about $26, you will have to
decide if your knives are worth it. The other thing to consider
is that the type of metal in cheap knives does not take
well to sharpening. But if you have some good ones worth
the sharpener, here's how to restore them to sharp-as-new.
The DMT sharpener is a round taper. Somewhere along its
length you will find a match in the width of the taper and
the width of the knife's scallops. Marry the two and then
line up the angle of the taper to match the angle within
the scallop so that the diamond dust on the sharpener brushes
the edge of knife to be sharpened. Then gently move the
sharpener in and out. This takes time and dedication as
you must sharpen the scallops one by one. When the scallops
are done, turn the blade over and sweep the sharpener lightly
against the smooth surface side to finish the edge.
Lapin (Rabbit) au Vin
I picked up a three pound brick of frozen rabbit at the
commissary--couldn't resist, since I went through fourteen
rabbits at school for my final demo and I've liked rabbit
ever since. It languished in the freezer for over a month
before I got around to transferring it to the fridge for
a three day defrost. My neighbor also loves rabbit so I
invited him over.
Once thawed, it was a good size rabbit with all four leg
quarters and a split saddle--well butchered with only a
little fat and silver skin. Beautiful. So, what to do with
it. Think coq au vin. Switch out the rooster for the rabbit,
skip the tomato and you have a recipe. You'll need your
Dutch oven for this braising mission.
Rabbit au vin
Yield: 4 servings
See Abbreviations, if needed
1 farm raised rabbit, cut in five or six pieces
½C AP flour
S/P to taste, but it needs salt and lot of ground pepper
6-8 small potatoes, fork pierced
4-6 large shallots peeled and quartered (red onion OK)
¾C red wine
2-3C chicken broth low salt
1 sachet (herb and spice bag) of pepper corns, thyme and
parsley stems and a few juniper berries, if you have them
1C dried prunes
1. Remove fat and silver skin from the rabbit pieces
2. Season them generously with S/P
3. Dredge them in flour
4. In a large Dutch oven (DO), add the EVOO and heat to
5. Brown the meat nicely on all sides, then remove and set
6. With a wooden spoon, scrape loose the residue from browning
7. Bring the DO to high, add the red wine, stir and reduce
for a few minutes
8. Return the browned rabbit pieces to the DO
9. Add the potatoes, shallots, prunes and sachet
10. Add the chicken broth to a level about half way up the
highest piece of rabbit
11. BTB, cover and reduce heat to a low simmer
12 Braise for about 1.5 hours--fork test for tenderness
and braise another half
hour if not already about to fall off the bone
14. Carefully transfer all from the DO to a heated serving
15. Over high heat, reduce the braising liquid to make sauce
16. Pour sauce into a heated gravy boat
17. Serve on heated plates with a good bread to mop up the
Note: Deborah Krasner's Good
Meat -The Complete Guide to Sourcing and Cooking Sustainable
Meat has a great chapter on rabbit, with lots of
Yup, It's a Three Pepper Kitchen
The tall grinder is filled with Tellicherry--from India,
the most common black peppercorn. The one on the left grinds
Muntok white peppercorns from Malaysia. The grinder on the
right has Ecuadorian black peppercorns. All from The Spice
House in Milwaukee. White peppercorns are really black ones
with the outer skin removed by soaking in water. They're
appropriate for peppering where black specks are not appreciated
in white sauces and most soups. The pepper from Ecuador
is twice as hot as Tellicherry, but it is no longer available
from the sources that I use. I intend to send an email or
call the Ecuadorian Embassy's trade rep and see if they
know where some is--it's that good. I love it atop salads,
salsa, pasta sauce and soft cheeses such as Saint Agur.
The grinders are from Unicorn. They're very good, save that
the round filler door works itself open at the worst times
if not pinned with a removable screw.
A Beautiful Non-stick Iron
Skillet From Japan
I've hesitated to write about this skillet since getting
one is a bit of a hassle. While the pan costs $75US, shipping
adds another $50US. That puts it in the price range of All
Clad and Le Crueset, which is fine since it's as good if
not better than what they offer. The skillet is made by
Iwachu, a company in Japan well known, worldwide, for their
cast iron tea pots and kettles. Iwachu has been casting
iron for centuries. I read about their "omelet pan"
about a year ago, lost the reference, then saw it again
and decided to get it. There is an Amazon like (huge) company
in Japan called Rakuten Global Market that has a vendor
that carries the skillet. They can be found at https://global.rakuten.co.jp.
About the skillet: At 9.6 inches across, it is of medium
heavy cast iron with fine design lines--beautifully shaped
with a long graceful handle and sloping cavity walls about
2 inches deep at the far edge and little more shallow at
the near. It is so designed to promote the flipping of an
omelet, which it does nicely. The surface is treated in
a manner like Le Crueset cast iron, but better, with the
result that nothing sticks to it. I have two old Griswold
iron skillets, that love high heat and are therefore used
to brown steaks and chops when done sous vide. Also have
a large and heavy short handled Le Crueset iron skillet
used mostly for soft shell crabs.
Ah but the Iwachu is, by far, the most attractive and versatile
cast iron skillet I have ever used.
A Tomato Amuse-Bouche
After reading and reviewing Extra Virginity
(see below), I ordered two bottles of Agrumato--the
lemon pressed EVOO (again see below). Great stuff! Now what
to do with it? Here's a suggestion:
1. Find some good tasting cherry tomatoes--no easy task
but essential for this dish. 2. Have them at ambient temperature
and slice each in half and arrange all on a work surface
cut side up. 3. Take a pinch of sea salt and carefully,
by hand, drop three or four grains on each tomato half.
4. Repeat with a few bits of freshly ground black pepper.
5. Then a few flakes of finely chopped fresh basil. 6. Then
a few white bits of grated Parmigiano Reggiano. 7. With
all that done, drizzle three or four drops of the Agrumato
Lemon EVOO. (All in moderation: not too much of any one
ingredient.) 8. Gather up portions and place in nice small
bowls, as shown above. Serve with a small fork. Before seating
your guests at table.
Now, quite obviously, one could add the above ingredients
to a big bowl, toss in the tomato halves and be done with
it. You would then have a tomato salad. Done my way you
have consistent, perfectly seasoned, dressed tomato halves,
specially prepared and contrived to amuse your guests and
invigorate their palates. The very definition of an amuse-bouche.
This is Not an Infused
or Flavored EVOO
My pantry is never without a variety of infused
olive oils--made mostly for the restaurant trade by
Boyajian and sold at a good price of about 75 cents/ounce.
They include black pepper, lemon pepper, rosemary, garlic,
dried tomato and others. I use them a lot in the saute pan,
in salad dressings and as brush ons for raw fish and meats.
I buy them by the mixed case on the Net.
While reading Extra Virginity (see article below),
I was taken up by a few pages concerning lemon pressed EVOO.
The story goes, that at the end of the season a few olive
growers crush hand selected olives and lemons together in
a stone mill, then press the paste and centrifuge the juice
to make a lemon EVOO with pronounced in depth lemon notes
unrivaled by infused or flavored olive oil. Good enough
to sip by the spoon, this oil is not for cooking. It is
a garnish to be drizzled or brushed, a
la minute, on chicken, fish, hot or cold
pasta, veggies, bread, focaccia and pizza. At about $3.85
an ounce (at Zingermans and Amazon), this is a high end
fine dinning product. It is a commitment to buy and use
this stuff. It is perhaps best stored under lock and key
. . .
Flavor Enhancement Tricks
It's hard to pass up the olive bar at your favorite super
market. The selection is too hard to resist with olives
green and black, pitted, stuffed or unstuffed along with
mini onions, mushrooms and maybe an artichoke heart or two.
All swimming in oil. We learn from Tom Mueller, in the book
profiled below, that the oil used in the olive bar selections
is probably refined olive oil or, at best, low grade EVOO.
So here's what to do:
Having spooned your selections at the olive bar into a
deli container, bring them home and dump them all in a colander.
Spray wash them thoroughly with luke warm water and put
them in a fresh container. Then add a tablespoon or so of
your best EVOO. Toss and enjoy. You will taste a big difference.
So too, I found about a year ago with capers. I get the
big jar from Costco, dump them into the colander, wash off
the vinegar, place them into a cleaned jar and then add
little water and some rice vinegar. Result: The capors are
remarkably less salty. You can actually taste them!
Some Sous Vide Numbers
Over the last few months, I have put my sous vide to some
use. Making good food. In all events, I have placed a product
in a vacuum bag, added seasonings and butter, sealed them
with the Food Saver vacuum
machine and then placed them in the fridge until ready.
I have kept a record of the temperatures and times, since
sous vide books are fine but real cooking yields real numbers.
Here is what I have so far:
- I've done a lot of lamb chops--usually two in a bag
but as many as six. I am now confident that a water temp
of 144°F and an immersion time of 55 minutes yields
chops at a perfect pink 137°F. Every time!
- One guest wanted lamb chops well done, so 165°F
for 60 minutes produced two nice moist chops well done
without a trace of redness.
- A two inch thick choice sirloin at 135°F for 46
minutes yields a rare steak at 129°F.
- A 3 ounce filet mignon at 135°F for 45 minutes came
out rare, about the same as the sirloin.
- Boneless veal shank (two pieces glued together) took
four hours at 185°F to become tender and flaky.
- A one inch thick prime veal chop at 140°F for 50
minutes comes out rare at 126°F (Christmas day dinner).
- A 7 ounce filet of halibut was un bagged with a nice
core temp of 125°F after 27 minutes at a water temp
- Four cleaned and halved leeks, seasoned with herbes
de Provence and butter, came out tender but not falling
apart after 50 minutes in 185°F water.
In general, premium cuts of meat, done sous vide, need
a water temp about 5% higher than the desired core temperature
of the meat, when cooked for 50 minutes. Tough meats like
veal or lamb shanks take a long time. Hearty veggies need
a temperature of about 185°F for 50 minutes. All the
meat products, when removed from their bag,were browned
in a hot iron skillet with their sauces added at the last
minute or heated aside.