Sunday, January 27, 2008

Another way to do it.

Son of Food's post entitled Jewish Soul Food looked so good, I wanted some for myself, but even if there was some left, his brisket is on another coast. So I took this opportunity to try something new, namely, the crock pot I got for Christmas.

I bought a nice four and a half pound brisket cut to order at Bristol Farms Market. It was a bit large for the slow cooker, so I almost went the traditional route of cooking it in a large pot, but none was available, so I pressed on in the new way. I braised the meat hoping for enough shrinkage to make the brisket fit the crock pot. It was just too long. I cut the meat once against the grain, and then braised the cut ends to brown. This was enough to fit the meat in the pot. I had onions at the bottom, but waited to put the potatoes and carrots in. I set the pot on high for about an forty-five minutes, then turned it down to low before leaving the house for the day. Mother in Law of Food was kind enough to put the veggies in a couple of hours, when the brisket cooked down a bit more. The brisket stewed in the pot until I got home. In total, the brisket cooked for about seven hours.

Here is some sliced just before eating.

And here is it at the end of the meal.

It turns out, that despite the size problems, the slow cooker was a great way to cook the brisket. Luckily, I set aside the remainder of the meat for leftovers tomorrow. You'll have to make it to this coast fast, if you want to try some.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

24/7 Venetian

It was the beginning of a new year and a new birthday for me when Mother of Food and I decided to take a look at the newest resort and casino in Las Vegas the Palazzo. It hadn’t officially opened and there were no guests staying there yet, but the casino and some shops were open. The Palazzo is beautiful and connected to the Venetian by an indoor walkway. So when we realized there were no restaurants open we decided to walk over to the Venetian and lunch at the GRAND LUX CAFÉ. GLC is owned by the same company as the Cheesecake Factory and is one of my favorite 24/7 cafes (refer to post 24/7 of 9/28/07). Before I could finish this post Son of Food, Daughter-in-Law of Food and Grandson Of Food came for a visit. Now it takes MoF and me a week to get ready for the visit, a week for the pleasure of the visit and a week to recover from the visit, I am just finishing this review.

GRAND LUX CAFÉ is huge, the menu is huge and the portions are huge. The food is always good, the service energetic and friendly and just a fun place to eat. The restaurant’s décor is somewhat eclectic with many different rooms and a patio that extends into the casino. You can order appetizers, eggs and omelets, oven baked pizzas, salads, burgers and sandwiches, pastas, steaks, fish, chicken and so much more (did I say huge menu) and what about desserts.Order a couple for the table and share.

Mother of Food had a large seafood salad (took us three days to finish) and I had a short rib sloppy Joe. For an appetizer we split an order of double stuffed potato spring rolls. I had this once before and wanted to see if they were as good as I remembered. - They were better!

When Son of Food and family were here we tried the new GLC at the Palazzo same good food but the tables are too close for my taste.

In a future post I will write about some of the dinners we had during the visit.

Location - The Venetian Resort
3355 Las Vegas Blvd.

Phone# - 702-414-3888

Jewish Soul Food

Grandmother-of-Food-may-she-rest-in-peace (that's how she always spoke of the dead, so it's only fair) made the best brisket. I'm sure that if your grandmother made brisket, you think that her brisket was the best, but you probably didn't taste Grandmother-of-Food's brisket. Of course we probably didn't taste your grandmother's brisket either, but there are three of us and only one of you, and we know.

We know.

Like most good food, it was simple to make, and it's something we all make occasionally, and we fiddle with the recipe a bit, but it's usually the same basic thing. I made one a few days ago, so I took a few photographs for the blog.

Start with a 4-5 lb. first-cut (also called the "flat end") brisket of beef. It shrinks, so smaller briskets aren't worth the bother, and it gets better each day, so you'll eat the leftovers, don't worry. If you can only get small briskets, because the people who cut meat in your neighborhood don't know how to make it, then buy a couple of them. You can cook them in the same pot. The full brisket includes the second cut, which has a lot of fat running through it, which you may like, but we never cared for it. The first cut used to come with about a quarter inch of fat on the top when Grandmother-of-Food made it. Today butchers cut it a little leaner, but if you have a butcher who will cut meat to order, you could ask for it that way, and it will add flavor to the meat. You can cut it off before serving it, if you don't want to eat that much fat.

Season the meat on both sides with coarse salt, freshly ground pepper and paprika to taste, about eight whole cloves of garlic, and about three whole bay leaves. Grandmother-of-food also always used one bay leaf, but once I ordered brisket at the Carnegie Deli and noticed that they used several bay leaves, and it was good, so I use a few bay leaves. Don't tell Grandmother-of-Food-may-she-rest-in-peace.

Brown on both sides in a large heavy stewpot with a good cover on the stovetop. Grandmother-of-food used a six-quart aluminum dutch oven, which I still have, and which is a little small for a brisket that large, but the meat shrinks to fit by the end of the process. In these pictures I'm using a larger copper rondeau of about 10-11 quarts.
This was her thing: lift up the brisket and line the bottom of the pot with thickly sliced onions broken up into rings. She would use a large Spanish yellow onion. Father-of-Food reminded me that she was a bookkeeper for a wholesale produce firm, so she always brought home perfect looking big onions, potatoes and celery. I'm using a medium large Mayan Sweet onion and a medium sized red onion, because those are in season right now, and the sweet onions add a good flavor to the brisket. Notice that you don't need to add any liquid to the brisket. It will release a lot of its own juice. The meat shrinks, but it's got to go somewhere, nu?

Put the brisket back in the pot fat side up. Cover and cook in the oven at 350-degrees F. for about an hour and a half. Go do something else. Don't open the oven. Don't take off the cover. Leave it alone. You probably need to vacuum or do the laundry. Go, go.

Peel and cut up about eight carrots and one or two pounds of potatoes. I used red fingerling potatoes this time, cutting a band around them to prevent them from bursting. Grandmother of food usually used large white potatoes cut into about six wedges each. Now you can open the pot. See all that nice juice? I told you. Put the vegetables around the meat and baste. From this point, you should baste every half hour or so, and you can test to see whether the brisket is done in about an hour by putting a fork in it and seeing if the fork pulls out easily. Total cooking time, depending on the size and shape of the meat and the real temperature of the oven should be 2.5 to 3.5 hours. This one took three hours.

Slice the brisket straight down against the grain of the meat. If you cut it with the grain, the meat will be stringy and tough. If your grandmother made a good brisket, she probably cut it this way, and you probably had some other relatives who cut it the wrong way, and you probably always went home after dinner and talked about how they didn't know how to cut the brisket. If your grandmother cut the brisket the wrong way, then, I'm sorry, she didn't make a good brisket.

Spoon the juice from the pot with the onions over the meat, and serve with the vegetables and farfel. What's farfel, you ask? Well, that's another blog. Grandmother-of-Food made the best farfel.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Yogurt Mistake

I have twin babies who run about like double tornadoes touching down in a rural mid-western town; no one knows what sort of destruction might be wrought if they are not tracked carefully. At our house, cooking is done in a hurried, distracted manner, with at least one eye set towards a baby who at any moment is intent on hurting herself or another. Needless to say, simple as a recipe may seem, mistakes can be made. I tried making Son of Food's yogurt posted here. What's the tip of the day? Scald the milk before putting the starter yogurt in, otherwise, you kill all of the bacteria that are needed to start the yogurt. I realised this about 10 seconds after I had done it. I had a little plain yogurt left so I added it to the batch, but no, it was not enough to get the thing started. Oh well, no use crying over un-youged milk.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Three in Austin

Travel kept me away from the blog, but don't worry... I brought you something from my trip to Austin, Texas. No, it's not a t-shirt that says, my blogger went to Austin and all I got was this lousy t-shirt(although I know where you could find such a shirt). No, I bring you reviews! If you are going to Austin in the near future, or you are there right now, here are a few places for you to try.

For Breakfast or Brunch, I would recommend The Old Pecan St. Cafe. The service was excellent, although we may have had special treatment because we had our incredibly adorable twin babies with us and our server was a twin herself. The food was quite good. My turkey and spinach omelet may have seemed a run of the mill choice, especially next to the many crepes on the menu, but boy was I glad I ordered it. It came with terrific potatoes and a homemade sweet cake that was just Divine. Husband of Food had the French Toast and I think he was jealous of my meal.

For Lunch or Dinner you may want to stop for some tasty Texas dining at the Iron Works Barbecue. Man, was this meal good. Brisket, Chicken, Ribs, and of course barbecue sauce; accompanied by, to quote Friend of Food, "the sweetest potato salad I've ever had." Another Friend of Food tried to take a jar of the BBQ sauce home, but her sweet memory of Texas was confiscated at the airport. Don't worry, Friend of Food, the terrorists haven't won, you can order another at the Iron Works Website.

For an evening of Fun, I will suggest something a little different. We had a great time at The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. This theater is known for it's campy interactive movie shows. Now, what does a theater have to do with food? First of all, they have it, a full menu and wine and beer bar. We went to the Elvis Sing Along for Elvis' birthday and the special of the night was Fried Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwiches. The seats all have a bar in front of them where your food can rest and waiters quietly take orders written on slips of paper during the show. I wish I could get that kind of service at an Arclight! If you stop by the Drafthouse, also check out it's cool t-shirt making service in the lobby. It's a great place to get that "My Blogger Went to Austin..." T-shirt I didn't get you at the top.

The Old Pecan St. Cafe
310 East 6th Street
Austin Tx, 78701

Iron Works Barbecue
100 Red River
Austin, TX 78701

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
320 E 6th Street
Austin, TX 78701

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year!

I hope you have had a delicious holiday.
It is January 2. Let's all wish Father of Food a terrific Happy Birthday!

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