Before we get into the meat & fauxtatoes of today's Father's Day Blog, I wanted to start with the recipes. This is a recipe blog, after all! My personal Father's Day recipes are at the base of this blog post, but I happened to notice an incredible collection of Father's Day Recipes at Carolyn Ketchum's blog, at AllDayIDreamAboutFood.com.
Carolyn runs an amazing blog with delicious recipes, fun and informative writing and STUNNING photography. Her Father's Day recipe collection is above and beyond. Click the burgers above to check it out!
HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!!
My father is a computer geek's computer geek. I believe he played with his first computer in the late 60's, and that computer stored data on punch cards. That bedroom sized computer probably had the processing power of one of your older cell phones. However, something happened on that day. Since that day, my father has never strayed more than a few feet from a keyboard.
Tethered ... locked ... one.
Growing up, I learned to program, building little games at the age of 12. I attended computer camps and tinkered with robots, but being a defiant kid, I went the other way ... carrots, onions and bacon for me. All stuff of the earth, manipulated by fire. No technology needed! Sorry, Dad! I'm a cook!
At some point in the mid-90's, as if fate had a twisted sense of irony ... I tripped and fell upon a computer keyboard. Some of that old programming logic was still swirling around my DNA. The Internet was this shiny new thing and I had to see what it was all about. I logged on. I built a website for the restaurant I worked at. It was cutting edge for a 1995 restaurant website! Then, I built another ... and another!
"When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years." ~ Mark Twain
There I stood ... carrots, bacon and the Hypertext Markup Language. Whoops! Hi Dad!
Since then, I've always been a bit of a fusion between food and technology, working with nutrition databases, doing online talk shows, and building websites for obscure gourmet ingredients, but it all seemed a bit aimless ... wandering. Bridging something I love with something which is clearly within my genetic code is tough! Combining fats and proteins with Boolean logic is a challenge! How do I take everything I know ... each of my skills ... everything I believe ... and carve my own future?
I remember being completely unnerved. I'd wanted to do this "Low-carb website thing" for years, but was always intimidated by the idea. It's scary to throw yourself into a whole new venture, with no clear proof it's going to work. Over the years, I've had many ideas and pursuits and have marched in a variety of directions, often against my father's behest. This time, with a little money in the bank and upwards of 20 years combining food and computer geekery, it just seemed right. I explained my idea to my father, dead certain he'd laugh it off.
He loved it! My father thought this whole DJ Foodie thing was a perfect fit and was even excited by the idea!
"My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me." ~ Jim Valvano
Today, my father's computer skills have earned him a secure future. His interests are covered. He's got all the toys in the world, which can make gift giving holidays a bit of a challenge. Today, being Father's Day, I'm going to do what I can and give him plugs. If you don't mind, please indulge me ... He may have the world's coolest 3D binoculars and golf clubs that swing for him, but ... what computer geek father doesn't love more internet traffic?!
After 20 years of making games for the home computer, my father now builds tools for people like you and I to build websites. Like blogger.com and wordpress.com, my father offers tools for you to build a website, a blog, an online storefront, etc. It IS the system that I use and I love it! If you're in the need of a website for your small business, you want to blog about life, liberty and the pursuit of bacon, or you just want to share photos of the kids to Grandma in North Dakota ... no need to look any further than Talkspot.com! There are options at a variety of price points, including free. Go check it out!
Also, if you're interested in life on a Luxury trawler located somewhere off the coast of Greece, you can follow my parents' adventures as they travel around the world on their boat. My father blogs about everything from meals, to historical and cultural observations, the trials and tribulations of doggy passports and anything and everything "boat geek" which can be discussed, always with humor and humility, my father's blog and writing style is very much like my own. He's got boats and I've got food. Chances are, if you enjoy my blog ... in-between the recipes ... you'll enjoy my father's. He can be found at KensBlog.com
The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree.
Happy Father's Day, Dad! THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING!
~ Kenneth E (DJ Foodie) Williams
Spicy Giant Ribeye with Bacon!
This is a recipe devoted to Father's Day, but would, could and should be delicious any day of the week! I really thought a lot about what a father might want on his special day, and a few things sprang to mind.
Father's Day Qualifications:
These just seem like the building blocks for a perfect Father's Day Steak. Then ... my own little twist ... I love adding a little something sweet my meals. This one has a little bit of orange thrown into it. This is totally optional and may actually diminish the manliness wafting off the original list of Father's Day qualifications, but I happen to know that sweet and acid both boost flavors. Manly-Man or not, it WILL taste better with a little orange thrown in to it.
- Giant Steak. It must have a bone in it.
- It must be grilled.
- Bacon must be involved.
- It needs to be spicy.
The basic idea is, we make a little rub from the orange juice and adobo in the can of chipotles. We rub it on the steaks, and then grill them. In a pan, we reduce beef stock, with garlic, onions, bacon bits, chipotles (throw some habaneros in there, if you really want to make a mark on Dad's day!) and a little tequila. Let this simmer and reduce, then just before serving, whisk a bunch of butter into it, to thicken it up and add some brazen fat!
Serve the steaks, slathered in the flavorful, hot and spicy butter sauce! Dad will thank you for this one!
Note: I highly recommend reading my tips on cooking a steak before proceeding. A few little thoughts might help take a steak from simply great, to history making!
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The idea for this dish came from a few places.
My family started visiting Mexico before I even have memories of our trips. I was born in Southern California, in the United States. My parents would drive their van across the border and enjoy the Mexican culture and food of the mid-70's. As I grew, they simply never stopped! When I was about 6 years old, we moved away from Southern California, to a town just outside of Yosemite National Park. Shortly thereafter, we would fly to Mexico, at least once a year. After having lived there for almost 10 years, I'm actually close to being an actual Mexican citizen! My family has a great love for Mexico.
- This was conceived around Father's Day and this is one of my father's favorite dishes.
- Living in Mexico for years, you see a lot of Shrimp Diablo.
- It's super quick, super easy and SUPER delicious (that is, if you can take the heat!)
There is a restaurant in Puerto Vallarta called "Posada Rio Cuale". This was my favorite restaurant on earth in my teenage years. Aside from all the table service they provided, doing fancy things like cutting a spiral in the rind of an orange, hanging it down, pouring booze on it and igniting it, making a flaming, swirling waterfall (fiery boozefall?). Always a good show!
My father would always order the "Shrimp Diablo". Diablo, meaning "Devil" in Spanish ... implies the dish was hot. Fierce. Painful. Dare I say ... evil?
If memory serves (it doesn't always), customers had the option to choose their level of heat. On a scale of 1 to 5, my father always ordered the 9. Then, he would sit in the hot Mexican weather, dripping with sweat and revel in his pure delicious pain. His face would turn bright red and he'd just look miserable! He had to breath in and out, in rapid succession, or else ... I assume he'd spontaneously combust! There was always a deep fire raging within him, as he'd delight in his big bowl of Shrimp Diablo.
Between you and I, faithful readers ... I've never quite understood the joy that the chili pain can bring. I like a little kick, but I don't want to suffer while I eat. Not my father, though. He likes it HOT!
How do you like it?
Scoville Note: If you throw a habanero, scotch bonnet or ghost chili into the blender ... on a scale of 1 to 5, you will take this to a 9. As written, it's about a 4.5.
Serving Note: Often served over rice or with pasta, I suggest a side of miracle cauli-rice or zoodles!
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Oven Roasted Spatchcock Chicken
This recipe is about roasted chicken, but a roasted chicken that's actually faster to do than a standard roasted chicken, as well as more flavorful!
This chicken recipe involves a process called "Spatchcocking" or "Spattlecocking"; a process where the backbone of a whole chicken is removed and the bird is flattened and cooked. It's basically butterflying the entire bird. While I realize that "spatchcock" is a strange word, it's traditionally the word used for a young chicken in England (much like the French called them "poussins"). The technique and bird name have fused over the years, giving us the spatchcock technique.
Spatchcocking a bird is a great way to go, for a few reasons:
I highly suggest watching at least one of the following two videos. Both show how to spatchcock a chicken, but each are a little different. I also feel both leave out an important piece, but we'll get to that.
- The bird cooks faster. Because it's flat and "thin", it gets direct heat from both sides, while also cooking more evenly. Often the breasts will be dry, while the legs are just cooked. Spatchcocking yields a juicy bird, through and through!
- It usually tastes better. With a whole bird, not a lot of seasoning usually makes it into the cavity. It's just tough to get in there and season it. However, with a spatchcocked bird, you can season one side, flip it over and season the other!
- It's often a bit easier to get a crispy skin. Because this lies flat and even in a big pan or on a grill, the skin gets an even and direct blast of heat, crisping it up!
- It's a little easier, in my opinion, to handle a spatchcocked chicken. It's been flattened and just cuts up more easily. A whole bird is round and likes to wobble and roll.
Bamaquer Spatchcock Video: including removing the keel bone and splitting the bird completely in half. This can be a smart move, but not required.
Hilah Spatchcock Video: she gives a great pitch for spatchcocking in a high quality video, even though she doesn't remove the keel bone. HOWEVER, she DOES tuck the wings, which is an improvement over the first guy. She also shows a little bit about cutting the bird after it's cooked.
Both techniques will work, as the main goal is simply flattening the chicken. I personally use a large chef's knife, rather than the kitchen shears. I place my bird on the cutting board, with the backbone done. I stick my knife into the cavity, just to one side of the backbone, pushing the entire length of the knife through, so that the tip is sticking out near the neck. Then, with force, I push the knife straight through the ribcage. I move the knife to the other side of the backbone and repeat. Two swift moves and the backbone pops right out! From there, I remove the keel bone like the gentleman in the first video, then fold the wings like Hilah!
Once your bird is flattened, you can do what you'd like with it. Roast it, pan fry it, smoke it, grill it, etc. All are options! I've got a very simple herb rub and roasted it in a pan. Nothing more is really needed with a good well cooked bird!
Note: After spatchcocking, a light brine would make this already stellar recipe just a little bit better!
Serving Size: The recipe is for an about 3-lb. bird, which would feed 2 to 3 people. Add a few herbs and get a 4 or 5 lb. bird for 4 people. Adjust cooking time, accordingly.
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Stuffed Double Cut Pork Chops
THIS is a serious pork chop! There's no fooling around with this one. This double cut pork chop has been brined and then stuffed with sausage. I do believe that this treatment renders about as moist and flavorful a pork chop as one could create. I really don't know that I know how to make a better chop!
I have no qualms about saying a recipe is bad, didn't work, isn't what I wanted, etc. However, on the flipside and from this same ethos, I judge recipes that DO work. I do not hesitate to say that this pork dish and recipe is nothing short of outstandingly magnificent!
First, there's the procurement of the pork, itself. It's not likely you're going to walk into the local grocery store and see a double cut pork chop. However, most grocery stores do have butchers who will cut specific things for you, if they have the product in the cooler. It may not hurt to call ahead, but my gut tells me that finding a full bone-in pork tenderloin isn't that difficult. Then, explain that you want it cut "Double Cut and Frenched". This means that they will cut the chop every TWO ribs, rather than just one (like most pork chops). "Frenched" means that they clean the fat and sinew from around the bone, making a nice attractive appearance.
Next, we're going to create a brine. I have another recipe where I brine chicken (I love brining pork, chicken and turkey! It's so easy to do and makes SUCH a big difference!). Read my other brining recipe for details (Maple Brined Pork, too!), but I do want to make a quick point. Yes, there are some veggies and aromatics in this brine, but they are purely optional. The ONLY required part is the salt and the water. If you brined this pork in a salt water solution for a few hours, you'll be THRILLED you did! (I only mention this because I've heard comments that the extra "stuff" looks complicated ... it's totally optional, but does lend one extra level of complexity in flavor).
Finally, this pork chop has been split between the bones and packed with raw Italian sausage (sweet or spicy). Pork chops don't have a lot of fat, which tends to make them a fairly dry piece of meat. Sausage, on the other hand, is FULL of fat. If you stuff a dry piece of meat with fat, some of that fat is going to melt into the chop and add moisture, as well as additional flavors from the spices in the sausage!
These various steps will give you an almost life changing beast of a pork chop. It may seem like a lot of effort for a pork chop, but ... when you try it, you'll understand why the time and effort was worth it. This pork chop will change the way you see pork chops. It's THAT good!
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Slightly Dangerous Braised Lamb Shank
This one has a bit of a strange inception. It was actually inspired by Karen, from Living Low Carb, One Day at a Time. She attended the Annual Low Carb Cruise, but didn't want to leave her blog unattended while she was away. She sought some guest authors and I responded. Around the same time, Karen had placed a Lamburger on her website with the comment she's new to lamb. About the same time I went to an Italian restaurant and ordered a gigantic lamb shank. This was the special of the evening and came highly recommended by the server. I LOVE lamb (I almost typed lamp. Whoops. I love lamp. I LOVE LAMP!) ...
Most of the time I eat lamb rack or leg. It's not often that I eat shank. Frankly, it's not offered very often. It just slips my mind! While I definitely subscribe to a lot of the Paleo ideologies, I don't embrace them as closely as Karen does. In knowing I was about to do a guest post for Karen, while eating this soft, mouthwatering lamb shank, I decided I wanted to shank it up for her! In my mind, I thought it would be fun to write a guest post as Karen, the cavewoman. A big piece of meat, with a gignomous bone sticking out of it seemed right up her alley; a cute idea, anyway. I decided to take the flavors a little south of Italy, into Morocco, also adding some dried fruits and orange juices (hence the DANGER!). PERFECT!
After I made it, I really thought about it and came to the conclusion that while it's a thoroughly (truly amazing, actually!) delicious dish, it's probably not terribly approachable for most. Not only are shanks be a bit tough to find, but it takes a while and lamb has a tendency to be on the gamey side, scaring many off. (Sidenote: this dish is NOT gamey!) I really wanted to give Karen something that would fit her site, but ALSO something with a little more wide-spread appeal. Thus, I went for the equally amazing brown butter pie! (part 2, here).
To make a long story short, here's the recipe! I can't stress enough how special this dish is. The flavors and spice, slowly simmering with these smooth, almost "buttery" pieces of bony shank ... are MORE than worth the time it takes to make. If you've ever got a special evening on the horizon, you could do MUCH MUCH worse than this. Just spectacular ... truly.
Note: Photos taken with Moroccan Eggplant Hash and Raita. Also note that this looks AWESOME in person. The brown platter, while really a cool plate, drowns out the shank, sad-to-say. Don't let that diminish the delight this will bring!
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Moroccan Eggplant Hash
For some reason, I don't have a lot of eggplant on my website. There's no real reason for it. I LOVE eggplant, but don't use it very often. It's a puzzle!
In any event, this is one of my absolute favorite creations in a while. I always hate saying things like that, because it kind of undermines some of the other dishes in recent history and they get sad, and then I need to console them and ... frankly my friends ... some of my dishes are just inconsolable! As unbelievably delicious as my Cauliflower au Gratin is ... that dish can be a real grump!
Ok, I think I just digressed. Let's start over ...
Hi there! Welcome to DJFoodie.com! What follows is an incredibly delicious side dish. It's quick to prepare and drenched in interesting and slightly exotic flavors. It cooks fast and fierce and tastes great. There are two keys to this dish.
Eggplant Note: It helps to salt your eggplant before continuing with this dish. When starting this recipe, peel your eggplant and dice it into 1/4 to 1/2-inch cubes. Then, season them with a good amount of salt. More than you're probably comfortable with (don't worry, we'll use a bit less later on). Place the salted eggplant in a strainer or colander over a bowl, or in the sink. Let it drain while you cut the rest of the veggies. Be aware not all eggplant are created equal. The salt will pull a lot of water from some and virtually none from others. In all cases, it does help diminish the slight bitter quality that some find in eggplant.
- Cutting the vegetables so that they're all roughly ... approximately ... the same size. A nice 1/4-inch dice on everything is perfect, but if you go a little larger, that's ok. Just make sure the other veggies match!
- Cook the veggies in a hot pan, over high heat. Add them, let them sit for a moment (no touching!) and then toss them and let them sit, again. Etc. Here's a video that somewhat shows what I'm talking about. Notice how he adds things in stages, first with the veggies and later with the nuts? This recipe has 3 stages. Also, notice how he's not afraid to leave th pan alone for two minutes at a time? This allows the veggies to sustain contact with the bottom of the pan and pick up color (the surface caramelizes). Constantly moving things around just cools it all down and steams things. Find a good blend of the two techniques. Also, kudos to the Un-Gluten Guy for making a really fun little video!
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Raita (Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce)
Raita is a sauce or dip usually used with Indian or Pakistani food. It's actually got A LOT in common with a variety of other yogurt based sauces from other cultures, such as Tzatziki, the Greek sauce. I should probably just call it "yogurt cucumber sauce", but ... I didn't.
Because I wanted to keep it basic, which allows you to add it to a wider variety of things, I chose to leave it really basic. It's a REALLY nice way to complement some hot grilled chicken on a scorching summer day. Add a little cumin, coriander and some cayenne and it becomes a wonderful accompaniment to lamb. Throw some spicy beef and chilies into a low-carb pita and slather this stuff on it.
Ah, I suppose I should mention the "English" cucumber. These are the cucumbers you'll often see wrapped in tight plastic. These are a little longer, thinner and slightly sweeter. They also have softer seeds and thinner skin. This makes them a little more of a pleasant cucumber, all around!
Here's a picture!
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