Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Kentucky Mule at the Funhog Ranch, Las Vegas!

















A cool alternative Vegas lounge destination that surely will be happenin' on All Hallows Eve! 

     Revisiting The Funhog Ranch!
     I have not been to the Funhog Ranch in over four years.  In fact, while focusing on writing articles about the Las Vegas gaming tavern and brewcino scene during the last couple of years, somehow this lounge kept on escaping my mind.  So many Las Vegas bars and nightclubs take the limelight these days, that it is all to easy to forget about the cool old regular haunts from years past.

     The Funhog Ranch caters to the needs of the local gay and lesbian community in Las Vegas.  Many writers describe gay bars as being "alternative lifestyle bars" or just plain old "alternative bars" and this is okay.
     The Funhog Ranch gets pretty active and wild on weekend nights.  This does not mean that the rest of the week at this lounge is quiet.  This is Las Vegas and a big party can start without warning at anytime, especially during a big convention week.  

     The Funhog Ranch used to have the reputation of being a "Bear" bar.  The Bear Theme seems to have loosened up a bit over the years, but the Funhog Ranch certainly appeals to the Bear crowd.  The Funhog Ranch is a down to earth old west style alternative bar and the "Fun Hog" theme is evident in the decor.  This Las Vegas bar definitely is conducive for wild times!

     The Politically Correct Sideline That Is Always Worth Mentioning
     In this modern world of increased awareness and acceptance, ignoring or denying alternative lifestyle choices is not the way to go.  Hospitality means dishing up full respect for anybody, no matter who they happen to be.  Anything less is unacceptable in this modern age  
     Pretending that alternative lifestyles are not mainstream ways of life is a rather medieval attitude these days, especially since the State of Nevada recently allowed legal same sex marriages to take place.  
     Las Vegas is the marriage capitol of the world and now the marriage business is better than ever, because the same sex wedding ban no longer exists.  Wedding curators in this city already have created some interesting new gay & lesbian wedding themes.  "Gay Leather Elvis Weddings, Gay Darth Vader Weddings and Lesbian Rodeo Weddings?"  Hell yeah!  Theme weddings are a big ticket item in Las Vegas and theme weddings are downright hellacious fun!   

     Those who live an alternative lifestyle or a straight lifestyle are free to go anywhere that they please.  I certainly do not write about any lounges, bars or taverns that maintain anti gay & lesbian attitudes.  I have been known to completely nix a tavern article that took eight hours to write, just because the employees openly made anti gay & lesbian hate comments when I returned for a second visit at a later date.  
     Hate is always bad publicity and recommending an establishment that allows racial, religious or sexual discrimination to blossom is never a place that is worth recommending to viewers of this website.  I only recommend dining and drinking establishments that roll out the welcome mat for anybody that walks through the doors.

     Anyway, there are taverns, bars and lounges in Las Vegas that cater to alternative lifestyles.  These places offers refuge, solace and comfort for those who do not really prefer hanging around in straight places.  Vice versa, many straight folk prefer not to hang around in alternative bars and this is respected too.  Straight folk are always welcome in alternative bars and respect for the theme of the establishment is important to remember when visiting.  Nobody likes a party pooper or a hospitality industry host that turns off the lights.    

     A Kentucky Mule at the Funhog Ranch
     Honestly, the title of this section of today's article really has an interesting ring to it and it has the makings of a modern alternative western novel. 

      Cowboy Western Novel Reader:  "A Kentucky Mule at the Funhog Ranch?  I can't figure this darn thing out!  What in the heck is this western novel title supposed to mean?  I guess I'll just cough up a silver dime to buy the book and find out!"

     Ancient Chinese Prover Say:  "One cannot judge pulp western novel at nickel & dime store by its cover!" 

     My visit at the Funhog Ranch the other day took place well after midnight.  I usually finish my website article writing and college research paper writing late at night.  I tend to survive on copious amounts of coffee all day, while typing away on a laptop computer.  After the eyes are too blurry to focus on the literary work, it is time to call it a night.  
     Unfortunately the coffee keeps the eyes wide open and the quickest path to sleepy time is a beer or a cocktail.  One good night-capper beer or cocktail seems to take the edge off of the coffee and sleep follows in short order.  
     After being cooped up in the house for a couple days of heavy duty writing, I needed some fresh air.  The scene at the local bars in my neighborhood was guaranteed to be boring as usual, so I set my sights on looking for a lounge across town.  After getting about a mile underway, visiting the Funhog Ranch crossed my mind, so off I went.

     There were only a few late nighters in the bar after midnight and this is par for the course early in the week.  This was fine by me, because I just needed to wind down anyway.  
     After chatting with the bartender for a short time, things quickly became interesting.  The bartender attended culinary arts school at Le Cordon Bleu, so we were alma mater and there was plenty to gab about. 

     The Funhog Ranch bartender and I really had some great conversations about food, beverage, restaurant and hospitality topics.  There was no negativity and the small talk was upbeat.  
     What impressed me the most was that the bartender who happened to be a Le Cordon Bleu graduate, really had a keen sense of quality, tradition and the importance of creativity in the restaurant industry.  It has been a long time since I have met a younger culinary arts school graduate that really had it together in an upbeat knowledgable way.  Many culinary students just go through the motions these days, but a few do excel at a much higher level.  This fellow alma mater culinarian is a sure fire candidate for becoming a future leader in the hospitality industry.  
     The bartender requested that I mention his name in this Funhog Ranch article, so I am obliged to do so.  Sean Layne was the name and this bartender has the makings of a fine mixologist.  

     When I mentioned that I prefer Kentucky Straight Sour Mash Bourbon as a late night-capper, Sean said "Allow me!" and then he went about mixing a Bourbon cocktail that I never tried before.  A Kentucky Mule!

     A classic Kentucky Bourbon cocktail always deserves a classic American name.  Kentucky Mule is as classic as it gets!  
     A Kentucky Mule is a variation of the famous Moscow Mule cocktail.   Kentucky Bourbon replaces vodka in the recipe.  My choice of poison that night was Makers Mark Kentucky Bourbon and the slightly sweet finish of Makers Mark is perfect for this cocktail creation.  
     Basically, a Kentucky Mule is a mixture of Bourbon, Ginger Beer, Lime and Angostura Bitters on the rocks in a Copper Mug.  A copper mug is required for both the Moscow Mule and Kentucky Mule cocktails.  
     Copper actually not only transfers heat quickly and evenly evenly, it also allows a rapid cooling effect to take place that alters the nature of a cocktail.  The flavor of a Kentucky Mule would not be the same if it was served in an ordinary glass.  The bartender realized this point and it was focused upon while chatting about the nature of this fine adult beverage. 
     The bartender also stated that the quality of the ginger beer makes a major the difference in the end product.  The Funhog Ranch stocks one of the finest ginger beer mixers that there is.  The ginger beer flavor in the Kentucky Mule was crisp and clear as a bell.  
     An expertly crafted Kentucky Mule is a very easy cocktail to like.  The flavor is appealing and this Moscow Mule variation is refreshing beyond belief.  Even those who do not prefer Bourbon would probably like the flavor of a good Kentucky Mule.

    Well, the Kentucky Mule at the Funhog Ranch did the trick.  After hanging around till sobriety returned, I headed on back home for a day's rest at the break of dawn, just like some kind of a vampire of the night.  
     Speaking of vampires, Halloween is just a few days away.  Those who seek a cool alternative Vegas lounge for a wild night of costume party shenanigans and trick or treat libations, the Funhog Ranch tops the local destination list! 
    
      The Funhog Ranch is located at 495 East Twain Avenue in Las Vegas.  This central valley location is about one block east of Paradise and it is close to the Las Vegas Strip.  
     The parking lot is lit and the doors are secure late at night.  This gaming lounge offers a relaxing comfortable atmosphere that gamblers prefer.  Like what was mentioned earlier, the Funhog Ranch can quickly turn into party central with little notice and the crowd is into fun times.  Most importantly, the bar is well stocked and the beer is ice cold!
     For more information, follow this link to the website:
     • Funhog Ranch - Las Vegas  

     The Funhog Ranch is well worth recommending!  I have a had good experiences at this Vegas alternative bar in the past and the recent visit certainly was memorable.  The Kentucky Mule really made my day!  Yum!     

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Scorpion Tongues!










     Brine Poached Duck Tongues en Pomegranate Scorpion Pepper Glacé with Buckwheat Soba Noodles ... Scorpion Tongues!

     That Irritation TV Insurance Salesman Duck 
     Anybody that says duck tongues are normal everyday food, must have a big old farm with plenty of quiet ducks.  Thats it! ... Starting a duck tongue cuisine trend could be the way to get that big dumb duck in those TV insurance commercials to shut the up for good! 

     I do not own a TV and I never go out of my way to watch anything on TV, but the "boob tube" is everywhere and it is nearly impossible to avoid.  I go to a craft beer brewery and there is a boob tube, with two or three hops heads watching a skateboarding competition.  I go a dentist office and there is a TV in the lobby tuned to an educational channel and nobody is watching.  It seems like any place where people spend idle time, there is a TV nearby.   

     I go to a friends house and the boob tube is blaring at full volume.  Everybody is stare crazy from shock value commercials that suck viewers right in.  Then the unmistakable sound of that door to door insurance duck echoes from one end of the place to the other.  
     Then someone says, "I hate this commercial.  I used to like that duck when these commercials first came out.  These duck commercials are not as funny as they used to be."  Thats when my own imagination goes right down the toilet, because establishing a love-hate relationship with TV commercials is totally insane!  

     "You see one duck and you seen them all."  The same goes for geese.  They all waddle around the same, they all get equally doofy and they all go "quack quack."  So why would somebody willingly stare at a duck in a TV commercial?  The only reason that I would even take a glance, is because the way my mind works, I would think of countless ways to cook that big fat plump duck up and write a recipe! ... "How could you think of such a thing.  That duck is cute and funny and ... and ... Why are you sharpening your knife?"

     Duck Tongues
     It is easy to get sidetracked when duck tongues are the subject matter.  When talking about duck tongues, it is nearly impossible to make it through the first sentence without hearing someone say, "You mean you eat those things?"  Yes, I am a weird chef and I eat anything, so hide your pets where I cannot find them, just in case I get hungry! 

     All kidding aside, duck tongues are considered to be a delicacy by gourmands worldwide, especially in China.  Restaurants in Chinatown, Las Vegas, serve authentic food that is unlike the Chinese American restaurant cuisine that most people are familiar with.  A high percentage of tourists from Asia dine in Chinatown, so authentic traditional Chinese food items that are offered on the menu.  
     There are at least a half a dozen restaurant in chinatown that offer duck tongues on the menu.  I published an article about the dining experience at the King Fu Chef restaurant a couple years ago.   The Kung Fu Chef ha gone out of business since then, but this restaurant was quickly becoming famous for its odd cuisine, which featured gourmet Asian style offal offerings.  On this visit, I ordered Brine Duck Tongues and I was quite impressed with how tasty these little tidbits were.  

     After trying duck tongues for the first time, I did a little bit of research on the topic.  Apparently duck tongues were once lauded as being a gourmet food item by Europeans many years ago.  Duck tongues pickled in sweet brine served with mustard and pickles was a snack that the wealthy elite enjoyed.  In China, duck tongues are not limited to elite circles.  Duck tongues are pretty much eaten by anyone who likes duck tongues.  

     Just like how Soul Food features many cuts of meat and offals that mainstream people rarely eat, the same can be said about duck tongues in China.  Food is food and wasting food of any kind is not part of the Soul Food theme or Chinese cultural cuisine.  This is in part out of necessity, rather than convenience.  
     In China, there are plenty of mouths to feed, so there are traditional ways to cook every edible part of a plant or animal.  During tough economic times, poor people are accustomed to eating secondary cuts of meat, like liver, trotters, gizzards or even duck tongues.  Many Soul Food recipes were borne during times of economic depravity.
     When duck tongues are offered on a Chinese restaurant menu, this menu item is not only meant to appeal to gourmand customers.  A duck tongue menu item is also meant to appeal to those who have memories of hardship during tough economic times, when a secondary meat cuts were the only affordable food.  So, in a sense, duck tongues could be considered to be Chinese Soul Food. 

     Scorpion Tongues?   
     "I did not know that scorpions had tongues!  Do scorpions really have tongues?"

     I do not really know if scorpions have tongues and this will certainly be another worthwhile topic to research.  The word "Scorpion" in today's recipe title refers to Scorpion Peppers.  Scorpion Peppers are the world's hottest chile peppers.  These peppers are about ten times hotter than a habanero pepper and they are about four times hotter than a Ghost Pepper, so care must be taken when preparing a Scorpion Pepper recipe for guests.

     Since the price of chicken wings is ridiculously high, seeking alternative meats is the best thing to do.  Chicken legs and chicken breast meat that is cut into fingers are easy alternatives to find.  Those few hardcore gourmands that are adventurous enough to seek an exotic alternative will certainly like the duck tongue option.  

     Just like what was mentioned earlier in this article, duck tongues were once a renowned gourmet item and they still are in many places around the globe.  Duck tongues must be in high demand in Las Vegas, because they are marketed at Asian food markets and butcher shops all over this town.  Duck sells for a fairly high price, so duck tongues do command similar pricing.  
     The flavor of duck tongue is tasty.  It tastes rich like duck leg meat.  A piece of cartilage runs through the center of each tongue, so it is best to caution guests that try this delicacy for the first time.  Duck tongues are eaten by grasping the cartilage at the base of the tongue, then biting down on the meat, pulling duck tongue cartilage and the meat is scraped of with the teeth.  Its a "one, two, three" eating process that is kind of fun!

     The sauce for today's recipe is a glacé that is semi sweet and full of nice flavor.  Chinese five spice powder adds a complex spice flavor that is hard to resist.  Pickled ginger was added to the sauce and this flavor really tastes nice with duck tongues.  Pomegranate Molasses gives this sauce a tangy flavor.  The level of spicy Scorpion Pepper heat can be adjusted to suit personal taste.  A medium hot spicy heat level is best for this recipe.  
     Since Scorpion Peppers are rarely sold fresh at food markets, a bottled Scorpion Pepper sauce is the best choice.  Dave's Gourmet makes an unadulterated Scorpion Pepper Sauce that can be used as a cooking sauce.  One or two teaspoons in a sauce will send the spicy heat level to the uppermost limit!     

    Scorpion Lollypop
    I have eaten several scorpions in my lifetime and they taste pretty good when they are cooked.  Scorpion Lollypops are a popular candy here in Las Vegas.  In fact I just happened to have a one handy, so I took a picture and posted it in this article.  The scorpion is so tiny that it is nearly impossible to tell if this insect has a tongue with the naked eye.
     As far as garnish food goes, serving a Scorpion Lollypop with Scorpion Duck Tongues is not a bad idea.  The sweet candy will sooth the fiery pepper scorched senses.  Those gourmands who relish the thought of exotic food, will savor the though of getting to the crunchy scorpion in the center of the lollypop!
     Scorpion Lollypops are worth recommending!  These lollypops are great conversation starters and they are a perfect "Trick or Treat" item.  They are available in several flavors.  The crunchy scorpion center tastes pretty good!

     Marinated Duck Tongues:
     This recipe yields 2 portions!
     Place 12 ounces of duck tongues in a container. 
     Add 2 tablespoons of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar.
     Add Kosher Salt and white pepper.
     Add 1/2 cup of water.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Marinate for 12 hours in a refrigerator.  Toss the duck tongues in the marinade occasionally.
     Drain the marinade off of the duck tongues.
     Keep the duck tongues chilled till they are needed.

     Scorpion Tongue Sauce:
     This recipe yields 2 to 3 portions!
     Heat a stainless steel sauce pot over mediom high heat.  
     Add 1/2 cup of water.
     Add 1/2 cup of sugar.
     Boil till the water evaporates and the molten sugar starts to bubble.
     Cook the sugar till it becomes a light amber color.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Immediately add 1 tablespoon of Pomegranate Molasses.  (Available in Mediterranean Markets.)
     Add 1 1/2 cups of water.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of cider vinegar.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Chinese five spice powder.
     Add 1 pinch of ground clove.
     Add 1 pinch of allspice.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of garlic paste.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder.
     Add 2 tablespoon of finely chopped pickled ginger.  (sushi ginger)
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of coarse ground Szechuan Pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1 to 3 teaspoons of Scorpion Pepper Sauce.  (to taste)
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of thin soy sauce. 
     Add 1 tablespoon of organic ketchup.  
     Add 1 to 3 drops of red food color, to give the sauce a red tint.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a thin glacé consistency that can glaze the back of a spoon.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lime juice.
     Keep the sauce warm over low heat.   

     Buckwheat Soba Noodles: 
     This recipe yields 1 small portion!
     Shocking noodles is a traditional Asian method for creating a chewy texture.  
     Boil a pot of water over high heat.
     Add 1/2 of a full portion of Buckwheat Soba Noodles.
     Stir the noodles occasionally, till they become fully cooked.
     Drain the hot water off of the noodles.
     Place the noodles in a bowl of ice water.
     Stir the noodles by hand, till they feel like they have a firm chewy texture.
     Drain the ice water off of the noodles.
     Set the noodles aside.

     Brine Poached Duck Tongues:
     Care must be taken to not overcook duck tongues because they will skrink in size and the meat will become tough.  
     Place 3 cups of water in a sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 2 teaspoons of sea salt.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of Himalayan Black Salt.  (available in Indian markets)
     Bring the brine to a gentle boil.
     Add the reserved marinated duck tongues. 
     Return the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Turn off the heat.
     Let the duck tongues sit in the hot water for 1 to 2 minutes, till they are fully cooked.
     Drain the brine off of the duck tongues, just before serving.

     Scorpion Tongues:
     This recipe yields 1 serving!
     Reheat the 1/2 portion of prepared Buckwheat Soba Noodles in a pot of hot water.
     Drain the water off of the noodles.
     Mound the noodles on the center of a plate.
     Place the hot brine poached duck tongues in a mixing bowl.
     Add enough of the Scorpion Tongue Sauce to generously coat the duck tongues. 
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Mound the Scorpion Tongues on top of the noodles.
     Spoon a little bit of the sauce on the plate around the noodles.
     Garnish the plate with cilantro leaves.
     Serve with chopsticks and a Scorpion Lollypop on the side.

     "Whats the matter?  Scorpion Tongues bit your tongue?"  Spicy hot gourmet Scorpion Tongues!  mmm!

Candy Zombie Fingers, Bone and Bloody Brain Lollypops ~ A Convenient Halloween Candy Making Product Test!




















     The Learn The Finished Product, Before Learning The Basics Teaching Principle 
     Homemade Halloween candies, gummies, candy apples, caramel apples and popcorn balls are an old American tradition.  Hand crafted Halloween sweet treats always get plenty of compliments at Halloween parties.  It seems like manufactured Halloween candies never seem to have the macabre look, that hand crafted creepy candies have.  The flavor of homemade sweet treats is better too.

     Those who have little candy making experience not only have to figure a candy recipe out, they also have to figure the candy application techniques out too.  If one or two recipe items do not turn out like they are supposed to, then the entire candy making project can end up being flawed.  This leads to frustration and one disappointing experience often puts an end to candy making altogether.

     Sometimes it is better to learn one aspect of recipe cooking at a time.  For example, when I worked in a French bakery as an apprentice, the first thing that I learned how to do was shape danish pastries.  I shaped danish pastries and croissants for many weeks, before I learned how to make a basic baguette dough or anything else.  The pastry chef's training regiment basically involved making an apprentice learn how to make the finished product, before learning to make the components of that product.  This creates a clear image of the finished product in the mind of an apprentice.  This also makes it easier for an apprentice to learn the nuances involved with making each component, so the original finished bakery product is easier to duplicate.
     The same can be said about making chocolate ganache truffles.  The best way to teach this art is to make a batch of chocolate ganache, show the apprentice how to roll and finish truffles, then let the apprentice keep on shaping the truffles till they thoroughly understand the characteristics of chocolate ganache.  After the clear image of the finished product is sunk into the apprentice's mind, then it will be easier to understand the ganache recipe when it is made for the first time.

     Wilton Candy Melts
     Today's Candy Making Product Test involves Wilton Candy Melts.  This product is good for teaching a beginner how to shape or mold "chocolate" candies, because there is no chocolate tempering or blending involved.  All an aspiring candy maker has to do is melt the Wilton Candy Melts and start making candy.

     The reason that the word "chocolate" is in parenthesis in the previous paragraph is because the Wilton Candy Melts product is not really chocolate.  Most candy makers use white chocolate when making light color candies that resemble chocolate.  There are many sophisticated candy recipes that produce candy that looks and shines like chocolate, but the candy contains no chocolate.  Candy like this is usually made with a thick emulsion of vegetable oil, whey, milk solids, soy lecithin and/or arabic gum.  The flavors and colors can be natural or artificial.

     The Upside:
     • Basically, Wilton Candy Melts are like a modified thick oil based cake frosting that easily melts in a double boiler at 115º and it solidifies like chocolate when it is chilled.
     • Wilton Candy Melts are available in several flavors and colors.
     • The price is about half the price of chocolate.
     • Wilton Candy Melts are convenient.  A home cook can make well over 100 pieces of Halloween candy on short notice with this product, in two hours time.
     • As long as an adult supervises the melting of the Candy Melts, this product is safe for children to use.
     • Any gummie candy molds, fancy ice cube molds or chocolate molds can be used with this product.  (A Zombie Brain Lollypop Mold and Zombie Finger/Bone Ice Cube Tray are pictured above.  Amazon is a good source for molds like these.)

     The Flipside:
     • Artificial ingredients and colors.
     • Modified food product ingredients.
     • High saturated fat coconut oil.
     • An oil based candy that is not compatible with water based substances, like standard food colors.
     • Water based gel or icing will not adhere to this product.
     • This product does melt faster than chocolate, when held with fingers.
     • The flavor is sweet, like firm cake frosting and it is not a classic candy flavor.  The flavor is okay, but it is nothing exciting.
   
     Tinting and Custom Colors
     Because Wilton Candy Melts are an oil based candy, water base food colors should only be used to very lightly tint the melted candy.  One or two drops of food color is okay, but anything more than a couple of drops will result in candy that will never harden when chilled.  It is best to mix one color with another to make a custom color tint.  For example, to make light grey zombie fingers add 1 drop of black food color or about 2 tablespoons of Black Candy Melt to 1 cup of White Candy Melt.

     Molding
     Simply spoon the melted Candy Melt into a candy mold.  Smooth the surface.  Chill till the candy hardens.  Trim off any flash or rough edges.

     Decorating
     Since this product review is all about convenience, purchasing small tubes of cake decorating gel is the way to go.  Betty Crocker Brand is just okay because this product has no flavor, but it looks nice.
     Black gel was used to to paint the fingernails on the zombie fingers.  Red gel was dripped like blood on the zombie fingers in the pictures above.  A latex glove was used to smear red gel on the Zombie Brain Pops and the bone.

     Recommendation
     Overall, I recommend Wilton Candy Melts for those who have limited time for making Halloween Candy for a Halloween party.  This product is good for those who want to get the hang of Halloween candy making.  This product also helps children to develop creative skills.

     For more information about Wilton products, follow this link:
     • Wilton - Candy Melts
 

     

Monday, October 20, 2014

Zombie Brain Headcheese! ... with Herb Focaccia, Neon Relish and Russian Godzilla Spread















     Hubby:  "What's for Halloween dinner?  I hope its a macabre favorite of mine!"
     Wifey:  "I made a new zombie chef surprise, Dearest!"
     Hubby:  "Wow! ... Well, what in the hell is it???"
     Wifey:  "Its a fresh made Zombie Brain Headcheese !!!" 
     Hubby:  "... mmmm !!!  I'm the luckiest zombie in the whole wide world !!!"

     Tis The Season ...
     According to statistics behind the scenes at this website, Halloween Cuisine seems to be more popular than Autumn Season Food or Oktoberfest Food.  In fact, there really is no comparison.  There are plenty of recipes for all three of these cuisine styles in this food website, yet the amount of Halloween Food viewed each week this month is the winner by a wide margin.  This gives me the inspiration to whip up a few more macabre creations, before the October 31st deadline nears!

     A few more Halloween recipes and fun cocktail creations will be published this month.  Most will be posted this week.
     Yesterday, I did an "easy to make candy product" testing evaluation.  The product actually is user friendly.  The finished product will please guests.  The product is relatively safe for children to use, as long as an adult does the solitary cooking step in the recipe.  Making fresh candy for Halloween is a cinch with this product, so viewers that are pressed for time, just might be interested.  This product review will be published this week too.

     Headcheese Information
     • Headcheese is made with the meat scraping from a pig's head.  Brains or organ meat are not used to make head cheese.  The meat is usually scraped off of the pig head after the pig head is boiled.    
     • Whole pig heads are rarely sold at grocery stores or specialty food markets.  A whole pig head can be ordered at a butcher shop, but delivery takes time.
    • Head cheese gelatin is usually made from slowly simmered pig feet that are cooked for a lengthy time.  The gelatinous substance in the pig feet transfers to the simmering liquid.  After clarifying or filtering the liquid, the liquid is simmered and reduced, till gelatinous substance is condensed.  When cooled, the gelatin will have a firm rubbery texture.

     Souse Information
     • Souse is headcheese that is made with pickled pig head scrapings or pickled pork meat trimmings.  It takes 2 to 3 days for pork meat to pickle in a curing salt brine, if the pieces are cut into a small bite size shape.  The bigger the pork pieces, the more time it takes to pickle the meat.
    • Pork meat becomes a bright pink color when it is pickled.  The pickled pork meat does have to be boiled, before it is added to the head cheese gelatin.

     Headcheese Style Zombie Brain Terrine:
     Zombies and Headcheese are definitely scary horror movie topics.  Anybody that has seen "The Night Of The Living Dead" or "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part II" will know exactly why!
     Making headcheese from scratch is a project that many home cooks will avoid at all cost.  There are alternatives!
     A Headcheese Style Terrine is a good choice for a Zombie Brain presentation.  A terrine can be made that resembles headcheese.  It will not be a true authentic headcheese, but it is acceptable for a Halloween Zombie Brain food presentation.
     A Zombie Brain Gelatin Mold like the one in the photos above can be found at the Amazon internet shopping website or at seasonal Halloween Costume Stores.
     These two methods can be used to make a Zombie Brain Headcheese Terrine ...
     
     Headcheese Style Zombie Brain Terrine Method #1: 
     • Purchase a piece of headcheese or souse at delicatessen, that is the same volume as the Zombie Brain Mold.
     • Place the headcheese in a pot over medium low heat.
     • Add about 1/3 cup of water.  (To compensate for evaporation.)
     • Gently simmer till the headcheese gelatin liquifies.
     • Remove the pot from the heat and allow the contents to cool to almost room temperature.
     • Place the headcheese meat and its gelatin in a Zombie Brain Mold.
     • Refrigerate overnight, so the gelatin becomes a firm texture.
     • Dip the outside of the Zombie Brain Mold in hot water to loosen the gelatin.
     • Invert the Zombie Brain Mold onto a serving platter and remove the mold.
 
     Headcheese Style Zombie Brain Terrine Method #2:
     This entire recipe yields enough Pickled Pork Aspic Terrine mixture for a 4 1/2 cup capacity Zombie Brain Mold!  The entire mold does not need to be completely filled.  The Zombie Brain in the photos above is a little less than 4 cups in volume. 

     Pickled Pork:
     Cut 3 1/2 cups of raw pork trimmings or pork shoulder meat into small to medium bite size pieces.  Trim off all of the fat.
     Place the pork in a 2 quart capacity plastic container and cill till later in the recipe.
     Place 1 quart of water in a sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add 1 teaspoon of Morton Tender Quick Curing Salt.
     Add 1 1/2 Tablespoons of Kosher Salt.
     Add 1 tablespoon of sugar.
     Add 1/4 cup of cider vinegar.
     Add 2 laurel leaves.
     Add 6 whole dried allspice berries.
     Add 1 teaspoon of whole fennel seed.
     Add 1 tablespoon of whole mustard seed.
     Add 2 tablespoons of Brazilian peppercorns.
     Add 6 cloves.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Turn off the heat and allow the pickling liquid to cool to room temperature.
     Add the pickling liquid to the chilled pork in the plastic container.
     Chill at less than 40ºF for two to three days.
     Place the pickling brine and pork in a pot over medium high heat.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer till the pickled pork is fully cooked.  (This only takes a few minutes!  Try not to overcook the pork or it will become tough.  The pork pieces will shrink in size and this is okay.  The total volume of cooked pork will end up being about 2 3/4 cups to 3 cups.)
     Pour the pork and brine into a colander strainer and discard the liquid.
     Rinse the spices off of the pork under cold running water and place the pickled pork in a container.
     Chill the pickled pork in a refrigerator.
   
     Aspic For The Headcheese Style Zombie Brain Terrine:
     This recipe yields 3 1/2 cups of firm aspic!  This is a little bit more than what is needed for the terrine project. It is better to have too much aspic, than not enough!  Any extra aspic can be diluted, chilled and served with salad.
     There are three types of gelatin that can be purchased in grocery stores or from restaurant food purveyors.  Vegetable based gelatin, animal based gelatin and seaweed agar.
     Standard powdered gelatin and standard sheet gelatin are both animal based gelatins.  Animal based gelatin is made from pig feet and cattle hooves, just like headcheese gelatin.  Standard powdered gelatin is used to make today's Zombie Brain Headcheese Terrine. 
     Aspic is a flavored gelatin.  Consommé or bouillon is used to flavor the gelatin in this recipe.  As a convenience, canned Consommé or dried bouillon is fine for this recipe.  Ham Bouillon Cubes are the best choice.  Pork Bouillon Cubes are the second best option.  A 50/50 mixture of Chicken Consommé and Beef Consommé is also a good choice for flavoring the gelatin.  
     If dried bouillon is used, follow the directions on the package for making 3 1/2 cups.  Bring the bouillon to a boil, then cool the bouillon to room temperature.
     The aspic has to have a fairly firm texture, or the Headcheese Terrine will fall apart when sliced.
     Place 3 1/2 cups of a consommé or a bouillon flavor of of your choice in a stainless steel sauce pot.  The liquid should be at room temperature.
     Rain 26 grams of powdered standard gelatin over the liquid in the pot.
     Allow the gelatin to bloom.
     Place the pot over low heat.
     Gently simmer till the gelatin dissolves.  Stir occasionally.
     Remove the pot from the heat.
     Allow the liquid to cool to almost room temperature.

     Headcheese Style Zombie Brain Terrine:
     Select a Zombie Brain Mold that has a 4 cup to 4 1/2 cup capacity.
     Place the mold on a curled up kitchen towel in a roasting pan, so it sits evenly.  Place the towel around the base of the mold to prevent it from tipping over.
     Pour enough of the aspic into the Zombie Brain Mold to make a layer that is about 1/2" deep.
     Chill the aspic in a refrigerator till it becomes firm.   (About 20 minutes)
     Place the chilled pickled pork pieces in the Zombie Brain Mold.
     Add enough of the aspic to cover the pork with an extra 1/4" of liquid.
     Cover the mold with plastic wrap.
     Chill the aspic overnight, so the aspic completely gels.

     Herb Focaccia:
     This recipe yields enough dough for two medium size flat round shaped loaves!  
     Any herb mixture can be used to make this bread.  I used a generous amount of Herbs de Provence to make the bread in the Photos above.  
     Follow this link to the recipe in this website:
     • Seasonal Herb Focaccia

     Russian Godzilla Spread:
     This recipe yields about 3/4 cup!
     The word "Godzilla" refers to the Wasabi and the green color.  
     Potent strong Russian Mustard is used to make this extra zesty tasting sandwich spread.  Russian Mustard can be found at Eastern European food markets.  
     Place 1/2 cup of mayonnaise in a small mixing bowl.
     Add 2 tablespoons of Russian Mustard.  
     Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of Wasabi Powder.  (Asian food markets stock Wasabi Powder.)
     Add 1 or 2 drops of green food color, to give the sauce a creepy green look.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Place the Russian Godzilla Spread in a large ramekin.  Keep the sauce chilled till it is needed.
     
     Zombie Brain Headcheese Platter:
     Dip the outside of the Zombie Brain Mold in pot of tepid hot water to loosen the gelatin.
     Invert the Zombie Brain Mold onto a Halloween Theme Serving Platter and remove the mold.  (Dollar Stores stock nifty looking Halloween platters!)
     Cut a Spanish Onion in half from from top to bottom.  Cut several thin demi-lune onion slices.  (half moon slices)
     Overlap the demi-lune onion slices on the platter around the Zombie Brain Head Cheese.
     Evenly space several thin heirloom tomato wedges around the Zombie Brain on the onions.
     Place an Italian parsley sprig on each tomato slice.

     Herb Focaccia, Neon Relish and Russian Godzilla Spread Platter:
     Cut a loaf of Herb Focaccia into sandwich slices and overlap the slices on a large serving platter.
     Place the ramekin of Russian Godzilla Spread on the platter.
     Garnish the Godzilla Spread with a swirl of organic ketchup.  Drag a chopstick through the ketchup to create an artistic effect.
     Place a ramekin of Chicago Neon Relish on the platter.  (Neon Relish is available at Amazon or a Chicago Hot Dog Stand.)

     Three Halloween Zombie Brains are better than one!  This is the third Zombie Brain that I have created for this website.  "There is always room for more brains!" ... mmmmm!