Friday, April 24, 2009

2008 Bruces Rsang


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Nit Wit

This is a Belgian style witbier in the style of Hoegaarden. The mermaid under my arm is meant to represent SGK, as she wanted me to make this beer (in her favorite style) and then demanded to be on the label :-)
Thanks to Eric at Brewmaster for help in tweaking the recipe. It is the first time my extraction was right on target!
SGK also wants everyone to know that she helped bottle this beer.
For those unfamiliar with the terminology; gruit refers to spices used in beer before the advent of hops. A practice outlawed in Germany due to Reinheitsgebot, but the Frenc enforced a hops ban in Belgium of old so the practice gained it's adherents.

  • 1lb White wheat malt
  • 2lbs Belgian pilsen
  • ½lb Weyermann lt. Munich malt
  • 4¾bs Flaked wheat
  • ¼b Rolled oats
  • 3lbs Belgian pale
  • 1lb Rice hulls

Mash at 150°f for 90 minutes
Sparge with 160°f east bay mud (water)

  • ½oz 4.5AA Kent goldings pellets @ 60 minutes (The Kent goldings were very old so this represents a double dose)
  • ½oz 4.5AA Kent goldings pellets @ 15 minutes
  • ⅓oz Bitter orange (again it was old, so this represents a double dose) @ 15 minutes
  • 1oz lightly crushed coriander (again, it was old ingredients) @ 15 minutes
  • ¼oz 2.7AA Saaz @ 5 minutes
  • 1oz 2.7AA Saaz @ end of boil
Racked 2 weeks later for 48 hours then bottled with 3oz corn sugar.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Monday, March 30, 2009

2008 Big Boss Pink

2008 White Sangiovese

Vineyard: Bruce's Vineyard Madera AVA
Composition: 100% Sangiovese
Yeast: L2056 Rhône
Nutrients: dAP
Harvest: 31-Aug-2008
Brix: 25
Acid at harvest: .83 @ 3.09pH
Gently crushed by the feet of babes (Michelangelo age 5 and Isabella age 2)
Aged Sur-Lie
Bottled: Apr-2009
Alcohol: ±13¾ ABV
Production: 7 Bottles

A rosé is most often industrial waste. It is what is left over when a winemaker is attempting to increase the colour or tannins in his red wine through a practice called "saignée". Saignée is the bleeding of must off of the skins prior to maceration. This vintage is no exception. The grapes in this wine began as ⅓ of the grapes that Laurette, Stacy, and I picked on a hot August morning down the road from the Pacific Ethanol plant. Laurette took ⅓ and I split my ⅔ in half as an experiment to see if saignée would improve the red, so I pulled ⅓ of the juice out of ½ my must and fermented it as a white on the fine lees.
After bleeding off the must, the TA dropped to .65 so in attempt to lower the pH tartaric acid was added.

The short skin contact time, and the poor sulfite control leaves the resulting rosé an almost apricot colour. SaraGrace likes it as well as any commercially available pink wine.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Corned Beef

St. Patrick's day is coming up, and we all know that in America that means corned beef. The tradition of corned beef on St. Pat's day is strictly an Irish-American thing. In Ireland it's unheard of.
At the root of it; corned beef is simply a pickled beef brisket. I decided that this year I was going to do my own corned beef. So I pulled out Rytek Kutas's "Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing", and looked up corned beef.
Once again, Rytek disappoints. His recipe is not easily adjusted for batch size; I prefer the way that Len Poli does his recipes - with metric weights so you can easily adjust them if you have more or less meat. This will shock some of you that know me and know that I never use a recipe when I cook; I simply adjust all to taste on my current whim (cooking is an art form after all); but in the case of preserving meat, the ratio of preservatives is damn important - too much you get poisoned; too little and you get sick because the meat rotted in the wrong way.
The other shortcoming that Rytek has is his ingredient list is weak.- it mentions something called "Pickling Spice" without defining it, and calls for dextrose. Dextrose, as any home brewer could tell you, is commonly available as corn sugar. It's flavorless, and easily digestible by bacterials, yeasts, molds, and fungi. Flavorless describes Rytek's recipes in general; and why in god's creation would I want to provide spoilage biota with an easy meal?
Now, I'm pretty hard on old Rytek; but his book does provide a foundation to all this, so is a pretty valuable resource nonetheless. (I did eventually find out what "Pickling Spice" is - McCormick spices sells little 1.5oz bottles of it as "McCormick Pickling Spice". It's cinnamon, allspice, mustard, coriander, bay leaves, ginger, cloves, chili, pepper, mace, cardamom, and sulfite.)
So, giving up on Krytek; I decided to check up on what Alton Brown of The Food Network show "Good Eats" would do to pickle his brisket.
I am a fan of Alton Brown. I love his scientific approach to cooking; he loves to explain why you do something when cooking. This makes us all better cooks. Alton's recipe though had 2 major problems for me.
His recipe calls for saltpetre, and a 10 day cure.
Saltpeter, in addition to being a great food preservative and lawn fertilizer amongst other things, is a primary ingredient in gunpowder. In this post 9-11 world, the jackboot thugs at homeland security make it a pain in the ass to buy undiluted nitrates of any sort, so in order to preserve your meat, you need to instead buy sodium nitrite diluted by run of the mill salt and dyed pink (universally called prague powder #1). This necessitates figuring out how much prague #1 you need to equal the amount of saltpeter called for in the recipe; then figuring out how much salt is present in the prague powder, and adjusting the salt in the recipe to compensate; and living without the potassium that is normally in saltpetre. Yuck. I wish the fuckwads at homeland security would have better things to do than persecute me for wanting to make sausages!
Now, I can do math, and figure adjust Alton's pre 9-11 recipe; but what I couldn't do was maintain a 10 day cure as the prague#1 I ordered did not arrive until today, 8 days before the anniversary of the eviction of snakes from Eire.
Len Poli's recipe calls for injecting the pickle into the meat and only curing for 5 days. Bingo! I could do this.
I bought my free-range organic brisket from Baron's and since it was a whopping 8.3lbs I decided to pickle it now, do ½ for St. Pats, and make pastrami by cold smoking the other ½. Since I only had 8 days till St Pats, I decided to do a hybrid Len Poli-Alton Brown recipe. I couldn't stick to Alton's and simply inject the meat, as Alton calls for whole spices, which don't fit in the marinade injector, so I made enough of Len's pickle to inject, and did the rest as Alton's to marinade, and threw in some of my own. Here's what I ended up with:
6⅓ cups Water
65g Kosher salt
38.3g Brown sugar
25.4g Prague#1
5.2g Pepper, finely ground
1.6g Garlic powder
0.7g New Mexico chili powder
2Qts Hot water
1 cup Kosher salt
½cup Brown sugar
2Tbs Prague#1
1 Cinnamon stick, broken
5.5g Yellow mustard seeds
3.3g Black peppercorns
1.2g Juniper berries (whole)
3 Bay leaves (crumbled)
1.7g Ginger, chopped
stir, then add:
32oz Water, really cold
1tsp Coriander seed
1tsp Capers
3 clovesGarlic, chopped
1g Red Pepper flakes
1 Star Anise
4 Cardamom seeds
1.1g Bitter orange
Any leftover injection I added to the marinade, and placed the whole kit and caboodle in an old enamel roasting pan, covered with saran wrap (all air bubbles removed) and placed the whole shebang in the fridge until the eve before St Pats, when I plan on hacking it in half and putting the big half in a crock pot for the big dinner.

Update: 18-Mar-09
Sliced the flat off the briskit and returned it to the brine for later smoking (can you say Pastrami! YUM!). Doesn't look like the brine fully penetrated the briskit. Next time remember to cut the fat off, and give it an extra week in the pickle.
Cooked up the point for St. Patricks day with cabbage, potatoes and carrots. It was unsliceable; the meat just fell apart. I think this is a good thing :-)
Colour was good, but the flavour was missing something. Perhaps it did not pick up enough during the shortened brining process. Will add more spices next time, and as mentioned above; lengthen the brining time.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Turkey Mozzarella Sausage

This sausage came from SGK's desire to have a more kid friendly sausage. She took this to mean no red pepper; I took it to mean cheese.
5lbsground free range turkey. The ground turkey was cheaper than the whole. I chose turkey as it is lean and with the addition of the cheese I didn't want it the sausage to be too fatty
5lbsground pork. I had this leftover in my freezer from the last time I made sausage.
2lbsPrecious brand low moisture mozzarella
1 entire bulb as big as my 5 year old's fistgarlic
21pearl onions. Red, white, and yellow
14.5gFennel seed. The fennel (or Anise seed in a pinch) is what makes an Italian sausage Italian.
10gCaraway seed (supplements the fennel)
10gBlack pepper, coarse ground)
8.5gPeppercorns, multi-coloured (for texture)
30gCorn sugar. In a fermented sausage the sugar would serve as food for the bio that you add; in a fresh sausage like this one it's to help bind the meat so it stays relatively firm.
6gCoriander, ground
2.5gCoriander seed, whole (for texture)
Kosher salt. Kosher salt is not iodized. You don't want to cook with iodine!
¼ cup2004 Cline ancient vine zinfandel
2 cupsWater
4¼ ozTrader Joes brand sun dried tomatoes in olive oil (The sun dried tomatoes were SGK's idea)
8½ ozChristopher Ranch brand Sun dried tomato pesto (The only kind of sun dried tomatoes they had at nob hill)
6gColmans yellow mustard powder
2gBrown mustard seed
Several feet32-35mm Hog casing

Grind the garlic, onions, tomatoes, and cheese with a coarse plate. Mix thoroughly and stuff.

I had a heck of a time with my little 5lb stuffer. I was using the medium sized spout, and I guess the cheese was clogging up the works. I switched to the large spout, which worked well, but it plumped the sausage thicker than I would have liked. I'm toying with the idea of getting a sausage stuffer attachment for my Kitchenaid mixer, which might help the problem as it has a continuous feed rather than a plunger like the 5lb stuffer.

The other problem I'm having is that the on a good number of the sausages, the links come undone, and when you cook them all the cheese comes out. I need to work on my linking technique.