Fired up for Food Adventures

Fired up for Food Adventures

The best times are spent discovering the cooking passions of folk I find along the way, people who will tell you their story because it is also a story about food. These are folks who understand the magic of home cooking. My current Ezekiel’s Table adventure is exploring low-and-slow smoked brisket. I’m working up a new menu for upcoming classes. The other day I was just finishing my first attempt and there was a knock on my door. It was Kevin Beyrouty of Quickstop Fire Protection here for a yearly inspection of my fire extinguishers. After introducing himself he immediately set to work. With arms inked boldly in flames he hoisted up that huge restaurant-grade extinguisher like it was nothing and prepared to take it out to his truck for the inspection. Pegging him for a guy who might be a bit of a grill master I bragged excitedly… “I just did a 12 hour smoked brisket! You ever try that?” His eyes lit up. “Yeah, actually I have. I could smell it. Smells fantastic in here!” Then he went on… “I’m a firefighter in Trenton–That’s my other job. We like to smoke meat while we’re doing other work there. You know, if you have to leave in the middle of a cook, it’s not a problem.” “You want to try some then?” I asked hopefully. “I’d love to know if you think I did it right.” He gave me that ‘You-have-no-idea’ look, and then said, “I haven’t really eaten lunch yet today.” A hungry firefighter…Are you kidding??? Well the chef mom in me (to say nothing of the one-time Red Cross...
Low-And-Slow Smoked Brisket

Low-And-Slow Smoked Brisket

Smoking your own brisket takes bbq to a whole new level, and autumn is in someways a better time to do this than summer. Maybe it’s something about that gorgeous smell of smoke in the fall. Smoking is not hard if you are patient, and if you have some kind of grill or smoking box that closes up tightly and maintains a low steady temperature. The result is a mouthful of delicious layers of earthy flavor (in the best sense), along with teasing tang and bite. Simply unforgettable. I am working on a brisket for a friend’s Rosh Hashanah party, and I am determined to smoke it low-and-slow Texas-style in my Big Green Egg. There are so many strong opinions on smoking a brisket, it’s a little daunting. However, none of the guests coming to this dinner knows a thing about doing a brisket this way–so how can I go wrong? It is best just to try things, to look for a little input from those who know, and to keep trying until we’ve hit that sweet spot. With low-and-slow, the MOST important thing is not to let the temperature get overly hot, as that toughens the meat, and then there is no undoing it. Let that brisket cook slowly with the ambient temperature never going above about 250°F or so–a little lower is best. That way, the fat breaks downs slowly and the meat never toughens up. This may take 12 to 18 hours if done right. The meat will stay tender and juicy. Some say the meat itself should cook to 175 to 185°F. Some take it higher....

Texas-Style Brisket Rub

Texas Style Smoked Brisket The Rub is adapted from a recipe by Derrick Riches of aboutFood.com .  Ingredients: Spice Mix: 5 tablespoons paprika 3 tablespoons salt 2 tablespoons garlic powder 2 tablespoons onion powder 1 tablespoon black pepper ¼ cup minced parsley 1 tablespoon minced lovage (if available) 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper 2 teaspoons ground cumin 1 teaspoon ground coriander 1 teaspoon dried oregano or thyme ¼ teaspoon hot chili powder (I use 1 teaspoon ghost pepper salt from Savory Spice) Full Brisket — 7-14 pounds trimmed of silverskin mustard Directions:  Preheat smoker to 200-250°F. Combine all ingredients. This can be frozen and used later. Remove brisket from refrigerator and bring to room temperature. 1 hour before cooking. Rub with enough mustard to provide a sticky surface for the spices. Sprinkle and pat as much of the spice mixture over the entire surface of the brisket as will stick. Be sure to get the sides as well.  Allow to cure for 1 hour before putting on the bbq. See the link above on the smoking technique. Pretty much, it goes like this: Preheat your smoker up to temperature. Place a pan of hot water under (or near) the roast. Put on the grill and place the roast directly on top. (The meat should not be touching the water.)  Close up the smoker with a probe thermometer in the thickest part of the meat. Cook until meat reaches 185°F. At this point you can remove the roast and let it sit for 30 to 60 minutes before serving, or you can wrap it in parchment at 165°F and keep it...
Kefired Cream

Kefired Cream

Leave it to me to take a perfectly healthy food product and tweak it into something sinful. I’ve gone and done it again. Everyone is talking these days of the wisdom of home fermenting. This ancient home preservation method is great for the gut, the immune system, the brain even! It adds probiotics, and vitamins to your body, and more importantly–flavor! I love to ferment vegetables of course, and more recently milk. Not just milk, but cream. Mmmmmmmmm. The tang almost knocks you sideways, but then the sweet cream calms you down. Then the zest makes it fresh and the almond just sort of tells its own little story. This is the kind of flavor that almost feels like magic–as though your tongue is understanding a new reality–no matter how many ‘cream teas’ you might have attended. Now there are those who say that organic non-homogenized milk and cream produced from happy pastured cows is much healthier than the stuff that’s been messed with by larger dairy producers. One can only hope. I’m willing to go with that just by the taste and how it makes me feel. So, I go through all kinds of trouble to get the best milk I can, and I turn it into kefir. Here is more about that. As the kefir sours to perfection, the solidified sour cream is skimmed off and saved. There are only a few tablespoons of the stuff, which can be gathered and churned into some delicious pastured cultured butter, or into a form of sweet Devonshire Cream I call ‘kefired cream’ (out of respect for Devonians who might feel very particular about gets to be called...
Kefir Culture

Kefir Culture

I have taken quite a fancy lately to making my own kefir. It may not be much to look at, but it is a delicious yogurt-like drink that is just about the best way to get those probiotics that give you a happy tummy. Homemade kefir is even better than anything you can buy, because most commercial products are made with a culture powder that is a less complex probiotic brew. Here is how it is done at home: Buy the best non-homogenized milk available: raw, if you are allowed it (Pennsylvania-yes, New Jersey-no). What you need next are kefir grains which is a living culture in the form of curds that look something like cottage cheese. You can get them from a kefir-making friend. (Yes, it does matter who your friends are!)  I got mine from Dorothy Mullen or contact me and I’ll give you some of mine.  All you do is stir a couple of tablespoons of the kefir grains into 1½ cups of the milk, cover with a cloth and leave it to sit overnight. The next morning you will find the cultured milk graciously awaiting you all thick and inviting. Because the milk is not homogenized, there will be a layer of the cultured cream on top. No matter, just pour it all through a strainer (which is placed smartly over a glass) and with a rubber spatula (or a freshly washed finger) you gently roll the grains around until they are stripped of most of the surrounding creaminess.  Set the grains aside to start another batch–be sure to do that immediately. You don’t want those grains to...
April is the Time for Strawberry Barley Scones with that Tea!

April is the Time for Strawberry Barley Scones with that Tea!

Greetings, Friends! As some of you know, I have been taking time off travelling and tending to a joyously expanding family. Yes, I’m now a proud grandmother. But I’m back in Princeton, it’s a lovely spring, and it is time to reopen the doors of Ezekiel’s Table cooking class/dinner parties for you and your family, friends and colleagues! It is my personal mission to get people to cook more, to cook more for one another, and to cook with one another. I consider it the basis of our living with deeper connection. It happens at every one of my cooking class dinner parties, where friends and colleagues work together in fresh ways, and are always so pleased by what they create together. But every kitchen offers the same opportunity to have this kind of fun, and it doesn’t need to start with a big ol’ fancy meal. As Quakers say, ‘If you want to do anything meaningful, start small. If you’re doing the right thing from the right place it will bloom.’ Spring is a Time for Tea! —Uncommon Bread Fellows Series #3 During my time away, I found myself thinking and reading more about tea gatherings, their history and their increasing relevance today. We live in a fast-paced world, with little time to cook a fine meal for ourselves let alone for our friends; and restaurant meals can be a burdensome investment of time and money. Tea gatherings and coffee dates however, can be a refreshingly low obligation event, and so we go to the coffee house. An invitation to Small World or Starbucks is a no-brainer for last-minute invites, for...