Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Jamaican Jerk Beef Skewers & Brown Sugar Buckwheat Voodoo Doll Bread

     Good Voodoo And Bad Voodoo
     I have worked with many people in Florida who came from the Caribbean Islands.  During the peak influx of Haitian immigration during the years of political turmoil on that island, Florida basically became "Haitian Island #2."
     Even though these folks took refuge in Florida, Haiti was still home for most.  Some were so fed up with politics and living conditions in Haiti that they vowed to never return.  Some became so fed up with Florida politics, that they could not wait to get back to their homeland.

     Back in the 1990's, Haitian immigrants were seeking any kind of job they could get in Florida.  Because modern Florida is basically nothing more than a big retirement home and a seasonal tourist trap, entry level health service related jobs and hospitality industry jobs that paid substandard wages were fairly easy to land.

     Florida is a state that outlaws organized labor.  This state has taken the Right To Work Law bias to an extreme, that greatly favors employers.  Basically, wager earners in Florida cannot be part of an organized labor union, so there is no bargaining power.  Because Florida Right To Work Laws favor employers, wager earners have few employee rights, as far as job security and unemployment compensation are concerned.

     The average wage in Florida is far below modern standards and the high cost of living in that state guarantees that wage earners will be subject to an existence of continually fending off debt, while living on one low paycheck to the next.  What this all adds up to is a state that depends on cheap labor that cannot organize to gain bargaining power, which is the same thing as white slavery.

     Haiti is a nation that was borne from the Spanish, French and British slave trade.  Haiti is the first African origin nation in the western world.  Anytime that slavery exists, a nation has two cultures.  The culture of the ruling party and the hidden culture of those who are subject to the powers that be.

     To a degree, the language and tradition of the hidden culture often is secretive, so the ruling power has less information to act upon.  Pigeon English and many Slang Tongue languages of the Caribbean developed as a means of communication within the hidden culture of slaves and downtrodden people.  These languages were less likely to be interpreted by the ruling powers, so these Slang Tongue languages allowed the subjects to speak freely amongst themselves, without having to worry about retaliatory recourse.

     Traditional ancient religious practices also exist in oppressed hidden subcultures that are subject to an absolute power authority.  Often the ancient religious practices are pagan in nature, so throughout history these kinds of ancient religions had to fly under the radar of Christianity and Catholicism, in order to avoid persecution.  Often the traditional religious practice of an indentured subculture suits the needs of the people who need help the most.  Voodoo is a good example.

     Voodoo is one of the most misunderstood religious practices that there is.  Voodoo does involve spell casting, sacrificed offerings, symbolic tokens and worshipping deities that are gods of certain realms, so by the old school Catholic inquisition definition, Voodoo is a pagan religious practice.

     Many people understand the meaning of the old "My Church Is Better Than Your Church" parody novelty song that was aired on local talk show radio stations in the 1980's.  When an organized church and state entity seeks absolute power, a cooperative joint venture is the means for accomplishing this goal.  The armies conquer and the church unleashes propaganda that is aimed at all other religions.

     Throughout the history of the Vatican-Roman Empire cooperative effort, the Catholic religious order used every means possible to propagandize pagan religions, in order to justify the violent acts that were committed upon subjects that practiced pagan religion.  This was all part of the Roman Empirical master plan for attaining absolute power over conquered civilizations.
     Acts of genocide and religious cleansing began during the times of the ancient Roman Empire, when the power broker leaders of the empire realized that to completely conquer a barbaric civilization, the religion of that civilization had to be vanquished.  During the ancient times of the Roman Empire, through the Middle ages of European history, for an empirical leader to have absolute power, the subjects could only believe in one leader, one religion and one monetary system.

     Because the Vatican had so much power in Europe during the age of global exploration, any country that sought world dominance had to create an allegiance with the Catholic organization.  When the Spanish set out to conquer the new world, an allegiance with the Vatican was created, so the agendas of both parties could be advanced.  Native religions were abolished and propagandized as pagan belief.  An all encompassing religion was forced upon all conquered native subjects and those who were enslaved by the conquerors.

    Any religion that was viewed as subversive competitor by Vatican order, was quashed by whatever measure was necessary, even if it meant burning thousands of innocent people at the stake.  Politically speaking, by barring the religions of conquered people, this ensured that a rebellion could not be organized by the downtrodden subjects.  Before the modern times, local native religions served  to create unity within a culture and to address social issues.  By banishing local religions, a conquered people had less ability to organize or communicate thoughts of revolution.

      So, where does Voodoo fit into the picture?  Voodoo is a traditional religious practice that has its roots in Nigeria.  The hidden cultures of downtrodden African slaves in the Caribbean retained their traditional African religious practices, with secrecy and discretion, while also adopting the Catholic faith of the ruling parties.  Voodoo is one of the traditional religious practices that was valued by downtrodden people in the age of the Caribbean slave trade.

     Good Voodoo is the most common Voodoo practice.  Good Voodoo involves rituals that provide medicinal healing of loved ones, a change of luck and relief from sorcery curses cast by enemies.  Voodoo Priests that practice good faith are highly respected.  Overall, Good Voodoo is respectful religious practice that has no intention of harm.
     Over 99% of all Voodoo religion is a good thing.  This is why the Vatican finally officially recognized Voodoo as being a valid beneficial religion a few years ago.  Apparently Voodoo is one of the few pagan religions that the "Big Church" tolerates because it is a religion of healing when used for good purposes.

     On the flip-side, Bad Voodoo is something altogether different than Good Voodoo.  Traditionally, Bad Voodoo is only practiced by Voodoo Priests during times of war.  Bad Voodoo can be flat out evil as hell for enemies that this religious practice is directed toward.  An enemy that is the target of Bad Voodoo is subject to bad luck, illness, soul possession and even death.

     One of the heaviest Bad Voodoo practices during times of war or vengeance, involves using Zombie Dust to turn enemies into mindless zombies, that are controlled by the commands of a Voodoo Priest.
     Zombie Dust is made with Pufferfish Toxin, which paralyzes victims for several days.  This toxin simulates death, by shutting bodily function systems down to an undetectable level.  The body swells up and it smells like rotting flesh, even though the victim is alive.  Victims of Voodoo Dust are often mistakenly pronounced as being dead by medical authorities.
     The victim of Voodoo Dust is somewhat conscious during the experience.  Voodoo Dust victims can even be conscious while going through autopsy procedures by a medical examiner, while being powerless to let the doctor know that they are still alive.
     Voodoo Dust victims are usually buried alive in a grave for a few days.  This experience causes victims to believe that they are dead and all mental processes shut down.  After a few days in the grave, the Voodoo Priest resurrects the victim from the grave and completely takes over the victim's mind.

     During times of war, Bad Voodoo is scary stuff that is real and not fantasy.  During the Haitian Revolution of 1791 through 1804, Haitian Voodoo Priests that usually practiced Good Voodoo, resorted to the age old ways of casting Bad Voodoo on the enemy.  There are many documented historical tales of real horror during the first Haitian Revolution that are attributed to Bad Voodoo.
     The French Army felt the long lasting effects of Bad Voodoo curses.  The thought of being of healthy body and mind, then suddenly being struck down by terminal illness or being turned into a mindless zombie that is subject to the control of a Haitian Voodoo Priest, weighed heavily on the minds of French Army personnel during that war.  Bad Voodoo is the ultimate psychological warfare and Bad Voodoo was a factor in the liberation of Haiti.

     Like I mentioned earlier, I worked with many Haitians in Florida restaurants and I hired many Haitians that needed jobs, while the recent liberation of Haiti was going on.  Needless to say, I learned a lot about Haitian ways while in Florida.
     When somebody makes fun of Voodoo, as if this religious practice was some kind of Hollywood comic book joke, there is one quote from an old Haitian coworker friend that comes to mind ... "Voodoo is nothing to joke about!"

     Today's Weird Halloween Recipe
     "Bad Voodoo has nothing to do with sticking pins in dolls.  Or does it?  That sudden pain in the neck just happened on its own ... Right?"

     There are many evil dubious slave driver chefs, managers and restaurateurs that I worked for, that I would like to dedicate today's Voodoo Doll recipe to, but that would not be Good Voodoo.  Misuse of Bad Voodoo does have consequences.
     A dubious chef or slave driver manager that sees a cook make today's recipe would surely contemplate firing the cook on the spot.
     On the other hand, a dubious chef or manager might deserve some Bad Voodoo.  Eating the symbolic Brown Sugar Buckwheat Voodoo Doll Bread might even result in tormenting an evil supervisor to unimaginable hellish limits.

     Anyway, retaliatory vengeance is never part of the Voodoo religion for many good reasons, especially during times of peace.  However, the thought of such a thing is intimidating.
     To create an intimidating looking Brown Sugar Buckwheat Voodoo Doll Bread, one has to think like a pissed-off Voodoo Priest.  Forget about going fancy.  Go with raw looks!
     Many Voodoo Priests use powdered slaked lime or chalk to dust symbolic offerings in rituals.  Voodoo Doll Bread that is spattered with powdered sugar achieves this raw symbolic dusting effect and it gives the Voodoo Doll Bread an intimidating look.
     The placement of the skewers is another factor of Voodoo intimidation.  Placing the Jamaican Jerk Beef Skewers in the most painful parts of the Voodoo Doll Bread body, really sends a message to Halloween dinner guests!

     "This skewer goes in the neck!  Mwahahaha! ...  This skewer is for all the broken hearts!  Mwahahaha!  ... and ... This skewer goes right in the man part yin yang!  Mwahahaha!"  

     As one can see, a cook can have fun when putting the Voodoo Doll Bread presentation together, as long as ill will is not involved and the spooky nature of Halloween is light heartedly represented.  Good dedicated chefs or home cooks would never serve an ill fated food presentation to dinner guests that are writhing in pain, from a symbolic Voodoo Doll Bread Jerk Beef Skewer Halloween Food Presentation. ... Or would they?  "Mwahahaha!"  

     Beer Pairing
     Its the Halloween season, so I have been pairing beers that have evil looking artwork on the label this month.  Weird evil looking beer names are good Halloween party conversation starters.
     Hell On High Quad Bock Beer is as evil as a strong beer gets!  This Belgian Style Quad Bock contains 14% alcohol, yet the taste of the alcohol is barely noticeable.  This extra strong Quad Bock sneaks up like a demon on a dark night with no moonlight and thoroughly consumes the soul.

     Rinkuškiai Alaus Darykloje is a brewery in Lithuania that produces some of the greatest craft beer in the world.  Rinkuškiai Alaus Darykloje values old world beer brewing tradition over modern trends that are short lived.  This Rinkuškiai Alaus Darykloje Baltic Region beer brewing philosophy is reflected upon in their Belgian style Hell On High Quad Bock.

     The Rinkuškiai Alaus Darykloje Brewery only uses pure water and natural grains to brew their beer.  No cereal grains are added.  Just like Russia, inorganic GMO grain is not allowed.  Even the yeast has to be traditional and specific to the beer brewing style.
     For a Belgian style beer, the yeast has to be a local airborne strain that is native to Belgium, like the infamous Belgian Satan Yeast Strain.  The brewing style has to be the same as what the Trappist Monks first started in Belgium many centuries ago.  The hops selection has to be traditional too and the hops flavor cannot be overwhelming.  These high standards of tradition and excellence are what sets the Rinkuškiai Alaus Darykloje craft brewery products apart from the rest.

     Bock Beer is a traditional German Lager brewing style.  All lagers are aged in wooden casks.  Bock Beer is usually designed to be aged for an extended time and shelf life of the bottled bock beer also extends for a longer time than a standard lager.
     Traditional Bock Lagers are brewed strong, so they last through the entire winter season.  A regular Bock Beer is often call Maibock, because any extra leftover winter stock of this beer is consumed in the month of May, when the spring planting season begins.
     An extra strong Bock Beer is called a Doppelbock or Double Bock.  A super strong Bock Beer is called a Quad Bock.  Hell On High is definitely in the Quad Bock category.

     Rinkuškiai Alaus Darykloje Hell On High Quad Bock has an easy to like caramelized malt flavor that bock beer fans like.  This quad bock is well balanced.  The clarity is excellent.
     Overall, Hell On High Quad Bock Beer is masterfully crafted and it is very easy to recommend, especially for a Halloween party!  Hell On High is a seriously strong beer, so moderation must be exerted when this beer is consumed.
     As far as a Halloween ghost story conversation starters goes, Hell On High will certainly loosen the tongue and spooky stories will flow freely.  Hell On High is a very strong beer that tastes awesome!
     Fore More information about the brewery, follow this link:
     • Rinkuškiai Alaus Darykloje    

      Jamaican Jerk Marinated Beef Skewers Preparation:
      This recipe yields 1 portion of five petite skewers!
     Mix these ingredients together in a mixing bowl:
     - 1/4 cup of brown sugar
     - 2 ounces of amber rum
     - 1 thin sliced lime
     - 1 ounce of lime juice
     - 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
     - 1/4 cup of water
     - 2 minced green onions
     - 2 tablespoons of Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce
     - 1 teaspoon of crushed dried red pepper (crushed dried red chile caribe)
     - 1 teaspoon of allspice
     - 1/2 tablespoon of thyme leaves
     - 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
     - 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt.
     - 1/4 teaspoon of powder
     - 1/2 teaspoon of ginger powder
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Place the marinade in a shallow container.
     Select a piece of top sirloin steak that is about 3/8" thick.
     Cut 5 strips that are about 5" to 6" in length.
     Weave the steak strips on thin metal skewers that are about 6" in length.
     Place the skewers in the marinade.
     Seal the container.
     Chill for 24 hours in a refrigerator.  Toss the Jerk Marinade over the beef occasionally.  

     Brown Sugar Newspice Buckwheat Bread:  
     This small batch recipe yields enough dough to make 1 large single portion Voodoo Doll and one standard 14" baguette.  This bread is designed to be heavy and dense.
     Newspice is an old Caribbean word that means Allspice.  
     Buckwheat actually is not in the wheat grass family of plants.  It is related to rhubarb and sorrel.  Buckwheat is a top choice grain in Ukraine, Russia and American Southern States.  Buckwheat has a strong flavor and it is highly nutritious seed flour.  
     For bread making, mixing buckwheat with white whole wheat flour ensures that their will be enough gluten content to create a nice texture.  Baking powder is also added.  Cocoa Powder gives the bread a nice brown color.
     This recipe is written for a mixer with a dough hook.  
     Place 1 cup of water in a sauce pot.
     Add 1 cup of milk.
     Add 1/4 cup of light brown sugar.
     Gently heat the liquid to 112º.
     Place the liquid in a mixer bowl.
     Add 2 tablespoons of fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon of dry yeast.
     Place the mixing bowl in a lukewarm place like on a towel on top of a warm oven.
     Wait for the yeast to activate.
     Add 1 1/4 cups of buckwheat flour.
     Add 1 1/2 cups of white whole wheat flour.
     Add 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder.
     Add 1 teaspoon of allspice.
     Add 1 teaspoon of Kosher Salt.
     Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder.
     Add 2 tablespoons of melted unsalted butter.
     Place the mixer bowl on the mixer and attach a dough hook.
     At low speed, mix till a very loose wet dough is formed.
     Start adding a little bit of wheat flour at a time, till the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.  (Add just enough flour, so the dough starts to look like it can gather on the dough hook.  About 1/2 cup to 1 cup.  The amount depends on atmospheric conditions.)
     Allow the dough to mix and knead at a low speed for about 5 minutes.  By now the dough should be gathering on the hook.
     Remove the mixer bowl from the mixer and remove the dough hook.
     Cover the dough in the mixing bowl with a dry towel.
     Set the bowl on top of a warm oven, with a second towel underneath the bowl to protect the dough from too much heat.
     When the dough rises more than double, beat it down with your knuckles.
     Place the dough on a lightly floured counter top.

     Roll the dough into a large ball.
     Cut 1 portion of dough that is large enough to make a Voodoo Doll Figure Shape that is 9" to 10" tall.
     Shape a Voodoo Doll Bread Shape and place it on a parchment paper lined baking pan.  (Lightly brush the parchment paper with vegetable oil.)
     Roll and tuck the remaining dough portion with your hands to make 1 baguette shaped loaf that can be served with another meal.
     Brush each dough shape with melted unsalted butter.

     Place the pans and dough in a warm area.
     Allow the dough to rise to rise for only about 4 minutes, so the texture will be dense.

     Bake in a 425ºF oven, till the bread becomes a brown color and the center temperature reaches 190ºF.
     Place the pan on a cooling rack.

     Decorating The Brown Sugar Buckwheat Voodoo Doll Bread: 
     • Sprinkle pinches of powdered sugar over the head, hands and feet of the bread doll.
     • I used a leftover tube of Black Gelatin Cake Decorating Icing from a product review article that was published last week.  Any black tinted simple icing can be used to paint the face on the doll.   A classic look is X's for eyes and a frowning mouth.

     Jamaican Jerk Beef Skewers & Brown Sugar Buckwheat Voodoo Doll Bread:
     Decorate a plate, so the plate looks like a sun and grassy green ground theme, like the one in the photos or create your own decorative theme.  Cilantro leaves, small diced mini sweet bell peppers and a paprika garnished slice of lemon was used to decorate the plate in the photos. 
     Place a small wedge of the extra bread on the center of the plate, so it will prop the Voodoo Bread Doll up.
     Lean the Brown Sugar Buckwheat Voodoo Doll Bread on the bread wedge.
     Heat a ribbed cast iron griddle or char grill over medium heat.
     Grill the Jamaican Jerk Beef skewers, till they are fully cooked, but not dried out.
     Pin the Jerk Beef Skewers into painful locations on the Brown Sugar Buckwheat Voodoo Doll Bread.  (Try not to think of Bad Voodoo!  Only Good Voodoo is acceptable in this modern age!)
     Use a tube of Red Gelatin Cake Decorating Icing or a thickened red tinted simple syrup to paint blood drops where each skewer is stuck in the Voodoo Bread Doll.
     Voila!  This is a tasty Halloween creation that will certainly draw laughter from guests.  Yum!  

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!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Siêu Thị Thuận Phát - SF Las Vegas Superstore in Chinatown!

     This article was updated on 10-12-2014!

     September 2012 Shopping Experience at the Las Vegas Superstore!
     Recipes and Las Vegas restaurant reviews are what I usually write about.  As many have noticed, I do use ingredients in my recipes that may not be easy to find at regular grocery stores.  Sometimes, hard to find items are required for authentic traditional recipes and creative recipes in this blog.  Specialty food markets are the place to go, when searching for out of the ordinary food items.  That is why I also publish informative specialty market articles!

     Just because a specialty market is located in Las Vegas, it does not mean that Las Vegas is the only city that has specialty markets.  Similar specialty stores are part of nearly every major city.  It is good for a cook to know what Chinese, Thai, Korean, Indian, middle eastern and Vietnamese markets have to offer, when seeking ingredients for recipes.

     The Siêu Thị Thuận Phát SF Superstore is a very nice market in Las Vegas.  Siêu Thị Thuận Phát is a vast Asian food market superstore that has plenty of floorspace!  This store is very well stocked.

     There is plenty of Vietnamese food merchandise and fresh herbs.  Food and merchandise and kitchenware from every region of Asia are available, as one can see in the photographs above.
     Dried whole squid from Thailand.  Kluwak nuts from Indonesia.  Thin soy sauce from Hong Kong.  A nice beer from Beijing.  Seafood and produce from Vietnam.  Habanero peppers from Mexico.  Palm sugar from Indonesia.  Roasted chestnuts from China.  These are some of the items that I selected at Siêu Thị Thuận Phát for upcoming recipes.

     Siêu Thị Thuận Phát has a great produce department that is stocked with hard to find fruits, vegetables and fresh Vietnamese herbs.  Gigantic kent mangos were in stock!  Kent mangos are rarely seen in regular grocery stores.  Fresh herbs are a very important part of Vietnamese cuisine and even the rarest fresh Vietnamese herbs were stocked in the produce department.  Everything from exotic root vegetables to heirloom corn varieties was available in the produce section.

     Siêu Thị Thuận Phát has a full butcher shop that offers specialty meats, offals and specific cuts of meat for regional asian cuisine.  The seafood department offers a large variety of fresh and frozen seafood.

     Live seafood in large aquarium tanks is part of the seafood shopping experience.  There is nothing fresher than live shellfish, crabs and fish!  The attendant nets your selection of live fish and then offers to prepare it to your liking.  Every good Asian market in Las Vegas offers live seafood and Siêu Thị Thuận Phát offers a nice selection.

     Canned, bottled and dried products from every region of asia can be found in this store.  The dried and fresh noodle section is extensive.  Baked goods, pastries, bean paste desserts and nearly any asian dessert ingredient is on the shelves.  Asian beer, wine, vinegars and liquors of every kind are stocked.  Traditional Vietnamese cookware, table settings, clay cooking pots and utensils can be found at this market.  Pre-prepared deli style items are available too.

     The October 2014 Shopping Experience!
     I recently went to the Siêu Thị Thuận Phát - SF Las Vegas Superstore to purchase one particular item.  I needed a large heavy duty razor sharp Asian style cleaver that was professional chef quality.  This superstore has a nice selection of cutlery and I found what i was looking for!  When roasting whole pigs, cutting barbecue pork sections or splitting the chine on a whole lamb rib rack section, a cleaver like the one in the photos above is best for the task.
     Rimei makes high quality cutlery for chefs and home cooks.  The butcher cleaver in the photos is made with high grade stainless steel and the sturdy wood hand is held in place with brass rivets.  This cleaver is built to last!  This cleaver is so well balanced and sharp, that it can be used like a chef knife.  In fact, the label says this actually is a knife and not a cleaver!
     Obviously using a cleaver like this does take practice and good safe knife handling skills are a prerequisite.  This cleaver is capable of easily cutting straight through bone, so care must be taken when using this device.  This is not a cleaver for halfwitted careless cooks.  The Rimei large butcher cleaver/knife is an item that pro chefs really like and is sells for a reasonable price at the Siêu Thị Thuận Phát - SF Las Vegas Superstore.

    I also stocked up on specialty food items while I was at the superstore.  The Pompano was scaled trimmed and gutted on the spot.  Surf clams look nice, so I got some.  Carambola and persimmons were in season and they ended up in my shopping basket.
     Quail was on sale for a low price.  Habanero peppers were cheap too.  I found my favorite sushi rice brand and the basic food shopping needs were fulfilled.
     Farmer Brand Peanuts are the best!  I grabbed a couple bags of the garlic peanuts and sent one by mail to my Dad.  The peanut farmer on the label looks like he could royally kick Mr. Peanut's butt all over the place!  The bad ass kung fu peanut farmer image on the package really sends a good message to kids about eating food that builds strength, like peanuts!

     I picked up some tableware, because a couple of rice bowls in my kitchen were chipped recently.  Metal chopsticks really come in handy when assembling tiny hors d'oeuvres and they last many years.

     New changes went into effect at this superstore.  The Wo Hing Restaurant and a delicatessen opened up inside this superstore.  Wo Hing offers some extremely nice looking whole roasted duck, chicken pork and BBQ.  If you want to see a big heavy duty Asian butcher cleaver in action, order some roast duck or roast pork and watch the chef at Wo Hing do his thing.  
     I highly recommend the Siêu Thị Thuận Phát - SF Las Vegas Superstore for locals and visitors of Las Vegas!  This is a big Vietnamese food and Asian food market that is well stocked and very clean.  The employees are friendly and helpful.
     Siêu Thị Thuận Phát is located in the Spring Oaks Plaza at 4801 Spring Mountain Road at the intersection of Decatur in Chinatown Las Vegas.  This cental valley location is close to the Las Vegas Strip.  Yum!