Sunday, May 31, 2009

Homemade BBQ Brisket

I apologize for the length of time in between updates. I've been really busy with work and I had an out-of-town (indeed, out-of-country!) visitor for a few days. I'm definitely not complaining about the visitor; I'm just explaining my absence! Well, part of my absence. I can't blame it all on her. ;)

Anyway, yesterday I was at the grocery store surfing for meat as I am wont to do. A nearly 6 pound brisket caught my eye. I thought, "I wonder how dad's rib recipe would be on brisket?" The answer? Fabulous!

You can look at the link above if you want step-by-step on how to make the spice rub and the sauce. I didn't take photos of that.

I really feel like I got a good deal on this meat. Around $10 for almost 6 pounds of brisket? Yay!

There was a lot of fat to trim off this baby. I left some on for flavor but I did trim quite a bit off.

I adore my Canon... Here is the spice rub!

Sprinkle it on the brisket.

Rub it on both sides and all around that bad boy.

Put a rack on a cookie sheet. Then, put the brisket on the rack. You will have already preheated your oven to 250-degrees. Cover the pan and meat with foil and seal tightly. Cook in the oven for 4 hours. No peeking!

About two hours in, start making the sauce. Again, for instructions, see the link for my dad's rib recipe. The only difference is that I sautéed the onions until they were mostly soft and let the sauce simmer for an hour and a half or so. It thickened nicely!

After 4 hours, pull the brisket out of the oven.

You can either broil it or you can grill it. I chose to fire up the grill for the summer season in order to cook this brisket.

We flipped it about 4 times (so, the sauce was cooked on indirect heat a total of two times per side).

Spread that saucy goodness all over that meat!

Carefully remove it to a plate or cutting board to rest for a few minutes.

Doesn't it look glorious?!

Thinly slice it. If you have leftover sauce, you can pour it on.

We served it with caesar salad, potato salad, and King's Hawaiian rolls. It was the best dinner we've had in a long time. Delicious!

This was well worth the 5+ hours of cooking time. Granted, most of that time is inactive time but you still have to be around the house. The meat was moist and falling apart. The sauce is slightly spicy but sooooooo good!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Wine of the Week: Rowland Cellars 1999 Syrah

I have three places where I store wine. The first is a wine cooler (refrigerator) in the kitchen. In it is where I store the wines that I most care about. The second place is in a real refrigerator in our shop. This is where I store the white wines that need to be refrigerated prior to drinking. Finally, I also store wines in our walk-in closet. It is very cool in this closet and although its temperature does vary it is probably the most consistent place temperature-wise in the whole house. I have stored some wines in our walk-in closet for a couple of years. Sometimes it is with trepidation that I open a bottle that has been stored in the closet for some time. I just never know if I am going to get a quality wine from there.

Tonight we decided that opening (at least) a bottle per week would be a prudent idea. I already had a lot of wine to begin with so my adventure with the girls last week only added to the predicament of too much wine, if there is such a thing! It is going to be a fun endeavor, to be sure. In that spirit we opened a Rowland Cellars 1999 Red Triangle Syrah.

1999 was a pretty good year for Syrahs so I was a bit excited for this bottle. We opened it, poured it in the glasses, and opted to let it breathe for a bit. At first on the nose Mr. Mary Cooks got blueberry while I got cherry. Mr. Mary Cooks doesn't think that it comes out of the bottle very well but once it has breathed for some time (about an hour) it is very nice. When I had my first glass it seemed really smooth and mellow. After it breathed for an hour it was more of a characteristic Syrah with a good amount of tannins and flavor. This one definitely has the taste of oak but it is not obnoxious (not that I think oak is obnoxious).

The price point on this bottle seems to be about $26. I am positive that I did not pay that much for this bottle but I may have paid $14-20 for it. I am fairly sure I got it in a close-out cart from the awesome store, Central Market. I wish I had bought two bottles instead of one but it's always a crap shoot, it seems, in these situations.

Anyway, this is delightful and I adore it.

I know I should be more technical with my tasting notes and I will learn, in time, the right "buzzwords" to say but for now I will stick to "yes, I liked it" or "no, this is crap". Ha!

Mother's Cookies Circus Animals Review

One of the benefits of being a Foodbuzz Featured Publisher is that you occasionally get to try new foods.

A few months ago, Mother's Cookies folded and their beloved cookies gradually started disappearing from store shelves. One of these casualties happened to be the Circus Animal cookies. I have loved these cookies since I was a child so I was a bit disheartened to hear this news. Soon, however, we heard that Kellogg's had purchased the recipes and rights to these Circus Animal cookies (I am unclear about other types of Mother's Cookies recipes). Foodbuzz sent an email out to their Featured Publishers to see who would want to sample the cookies. I, of course, jumped at the chance!

On Friday, I received a package:

There was a note of explanation and promotion from Foodbuzz:

The first thing I noticed was the packaging. It was more foil-based than plastic-based. It was flimsier than Mother's Cookies packaging. This is not necessarily a bad thing; it's just an observation.

At first glance, the cookies did look similar to how they have always looked.

Ah ha! But I had an ace up my sleeve... I had a package of the Halloween Mother's Cookies Circus Animal cookies in my pantry! True, the "best by" date was sometime in March but, hey, they were unopened so I figured they'd be a good comparison. I wasn't saving them specifically for this moment; they just happened to not get consumed yet.

Let's compare ingredients and nutrition information, shall we?

First, the original ingredients:

Now, for the new ingredients (Kellogg's forgot the eggs!):

Minor differences, to be sure. The same goes for nutrition information. First, the original:

Now, the new nutrition information:

I believe this next photo sums it up. The new cookie is on the left and the original is on the right.

Reactions from the family.

First, Mr. Mary Cooks:
The frosting seemed thicker on the new cookies but the cookie seemed thinner and harder/crunchier. Not good. The frosting on the new cookie seemed more artificial, if that's possible. I've never been a really big fan of Circus Animals but it took the new cookies to make me realize the old ones were animal crackers with frosting. The new ones are like the plastic sushi you see on display; it looks delicious but you really wouldn't want to eat it.

Now, the middle child (boy, age 9):
The new are worse. The old are better. The old are the best ones because they have just the right amount of sprinkles and cracker and frosting on them.

The teenager (boy, age 18):
I like the old ones. I like how they're thicker, they're not as crumbly. The new ones seem kind of crumbly. I like the flavor of the old ones. It tastes like they changed something.

The preschooler (girl, age 3):
Mary Cooks: Did you like the old cookies or the new cookies?
Girl: Blank stare.
Mary Cooks: Did you like the orange cookies or the pink cookies?
Girl: The pink ones?
Mary Cooks: Why?
Girl: Because they're pink. I love pink!

Mary Cooks:
The new version does indeed seem more artificially flavored. There's a weird aftertaste and coating that happened to the roof of my mouth after eating the new version. They also seem to taste sweeter than the old version. Definitely overly sweet. Ugh.

Verdict? I think I'll pretend they are no longer, sadly. Sorry, Kellogg's. I'll still buy your products but I won't be buying Circus Animals any longer.

Eggy in a Basket

This past week I scored a tremendous deal at the grocery store on bacon and sausages. The bacon alone was a steal; $1.99 for 2 pounds! The sausage was also $1.99 but it was for 8 sausage patties. Still, a good deal. So, I decided to make breakfast for dinner. Not wanting to cook ordinary eggs, I decided to try something new. I had seen Eggy in a Basket before (most notably on the movie V for Vendetta) but have never made it. It's really, really simple. I toasted the bread first then had the middle child use a glass to cut holes in the middle of the toast. After cooking the bacon and sausages I drained off the grease in the pan. I did add a little grease back so the eggs wouldn't stick; I used about a tablespoon for each batch. I then laid the toast in the pan and cracked two eggs into the center of the hole. With the heat on medium, I covered the pan and left them alone until I checked on them about 3 minutes later. They turned out wonderfully and everyone liked this dish!

Here's a close-up:

And here is the whole dish. Yes, that is martini fixings behind the plate. Mr. Mary Cooks had a rough day at work so I made him a dirty martini to go along with his dinner.