Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Beer-Battered Shrimp with Asian Dipping Sauce

Today I feel like Deep Fried Shrimp and as it’s getting hot I want a light batter. So I'm using a fruited beer. I know this may sound a little odd but it's delicious!

The use of a fruited beer like Apricot or Cherry Stout will add a nice background fruit taste that really adds a nice, fresh, twist to the shrimp. The dipping sauce ties it all together!

Fruit Beer-battered Shrimp

Beer Batter:

1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 egg yolks

1 tablespoon cooking oil

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Pinch cayenne

3/4 cup any fruited beer

Asian Dipping sauce on the side

Mix all batter ingredients except the beer together. Gradually whisk in the beer. Refrigerate for approximately 3 hours before using. Dip the shrimp in the batter. Deep-fry in 375° oil until golden brown. Place on a paper towel to drain, and then immediately salt. Serve with Asian dipping sauce on the side.

Asian Dipping Sauce:

1/3 cup rice vinegar

3 Tbl. sugar

1 ½ Tbl. sambal or other Asian chile sauce

Asian Dipping Sauce: Bring the vinegar and sugar to a boil for 2 minutes, remove from heat and stir in the Sambal. Set aside to cool.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bandera Mexicana the authentic way to drink Tequila!

The other day I was sitting on the patio of The Cave Creek Coffee Company, as I do most mornings, drinking my coffee. I was chatting with a few old friends, and as the weather was starting to turn hot, we were discussing tequila. I reminded them that in Mexico Margaritas are for touristas. Mexicans drink either Tequila con Sangrita or Bandera Mexicana (The Mexican Flag). Tequila is served in a block of ice wrapped in a towel. The Tequila is thick and sweet and really gives off a true Agave flavor. This authentic drink is great for those hot lazy days when you want to eat light and sit around the pool taking it easy. Once you’ve tried this you’ll say goodbye to Margaritas forever!

Bandera Mexicana

Mexican Flag

Forget the Margaritas. This is the way to drink tequila.

1 shot tequila reposado

1 shot sangrita, recipe below

1 shot key lime juice (or one part lime juice and one part Squirt Grapefruit Soda)

Serve in three separate little, baby brandy snifters. Sip a little, talk a little, smile a little. Ahhh . . . Mexico.

Serves 1

Sangrita Mexicana

Because this drink is so popular in Mexico, there are many different recipes. I put this one together by talking to several different bartenders in Guadalajara over a four-day visit. Sure, I got a headache, but that's just me, working hard for you!


1 1/2 cups tomato juice

1/2 cup clamato juice (very popular in Mexico)

3/4 cup orange juice

Juice of 4 key limes

2 teaspoons grenadine

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Dash Worcestershire sauce

Dash A-1 steak sauce (yes, A-1; they love the stuff)

Dash Tabasco

Premium quality tequila reposado

16 key lime wedges

Stir together all sangrita ingredients. You will need two 3-inch tall brandy snifters per serving. Fill one half full of sangrita and the other half full of tequila (about 1 shot in each) and top each with a wedge of lime. Sip a little tequila, sip a little sangrita, and now and then, take a little bite of the lime wedge. Oh, and one more thing, slow down a little: Life is good.

Serves 6 to 8

Meanwhile Back at the Bread 6/19/11

Last week my old friend, Bill Payne made a new door for the bread oven. It is made out of plate steel with a hole centered at about 3 inches up from the bottom. The hole is round and about 3 ½ inches across. It is just large enough for the nozzle of a roofing torch to fit through and has two vents on the bottom at the outer sides. These work, both as exhaust vents and they create legs of a sort, that will help the door to stand by itself. I made the door to allow me to do a second baking as the oven was lousing heat after the first bake.

From that time I have figured out a few things. I believe that I could simply seal the door and the one-ton plus mass would have a thermal shift that would raise the oven temp back up the 50°f or so lost in the first bake. However the new door can reheat the surface of the hearth back up to baking temp in about 5 minutes. So all is well on that front.

Next I have several customers that are questioning the hardness of the crust. This is tough… er… so to speak! In my next baking I’m going to use less wood and start baking at a lower temperature; around 470°f. I have been doing my first bake as soon as the oven temp would drop enough, to not burn the cornmeal that I toss on the hearth floor, which is around 500°f -525°f. What I think is going on is, I’m baking at too high of a temp and the crust is forming fast and very hard. The center of the loaf is then restricted in the initial rise.

These risen cuts are called "ears"

I’m getting beautiful ears on the loaves and a distinct sponge. But the sponge is very tight and I’m not finding the shine on the inside on the sponge bubbles and the loaf has some additional weight and density. At a lower temp I think the bread will rise and then develop, a lighter dough with a slightly thinner crust. Everyone is pleased with the flavor except one person asked for a stronger “sour” flavor.

I think I’m very close to “World Class” bread and I’ willing to listen and try figure out which is best. With each new bake I learn more about this beautiful oven and the art of turning flour, salt and water into bread that makes people very happy. In closing today I’d like to thank those that are buying bread from us the money is enough to keep this project going.