Monday, January 23, 2017

The BBQ Song, or when is it okay to call a Weber a barbecue?

As a former member of the California Barbecue Association, I cannot in good conscience call a grill a barbecue! Sorry Weber, but that's the rule.

This is the best explanation of Southern BBQ that I've found.

Enjoy ...

Monday, January 02, 2017

Lemon muffins

Lemon mffins
I love lemon and lime in any form. Growing up, I squeezed lemon juice on just about every green vegetable I ate. Broccoli, green beans or spinach were rarely consumed without lemon. Even today, I will squeeze fresh lime on carne asada at our local Mexican restaurant. And I find that the addition of lemon to many baked goods imparts a refreshing goodness.

I first discovered the Filipino lime, called calamansi, when I first visited the Philippines in the early 1970s. Milder and slightly less acidic than the common lemon or lime, the juice can be used in place their place in most recipes. Unfortunately, I haven't located a source of calamansi in Northern California.

So, it's no surprise that this recipe began life as calamansi muffins. The original recipe was adapted for the scale by a Filipina living in Southern California, known as @CarolineAdobo on Instagram. Caroline posted the recipe to her blog, When Adobo Met Feijoada, a reference to her Brizilian-born husband (@DadTheBaker). I'm envious because she has a local source of fresh calamensi.

I have posted the recipe in both weight and volume measurements. While I haven't tested the recipe for volume, give it a try if you don't own a digital scale. These muffins will make an appearance this summer at Oakland Feather River Camp.


Should you have a source for calamansi juice, whether fresh or bottled, feel free to substitute it for the lemon juice.

180 grams (1-/2 cups)  all-purpose flour (100 baker's percent)
5 grams (1 teaspoon) baking powder (2.7%)
2 grams (1/4 teaspoon) salt (1.1%)
120 grams (1/2 cup) lemon juice (67%)
120 grams (1/2 cup) milk (67%)
112 grams (1/2 cup) softened unsalted butter (62%)
200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar (111%)
105 grams (2 large) eggs (58%)

60 grams (1/2 cup) powdered sugar
15 grams (1 tablespoon) lemon juice
5 grams (1 teaspoon) butter
finely grated lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake paper liners. Set aside.

Measure the flour, baking power and salt into a small bowl. Sir to combine, then set aside. In a separate small bowl, measure the lemon juice and milk. Sir to combine, then set aside.

In a mixer bowl, cream butter on medium-high speed, adding one tablespoon of sugar at a time. Once added, cream until the mixture is light and fluffy, about five minutes. Scrape the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Reduce speed to medium and add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the lemon-milk mixture. Mix just until the batter is combined.

Fill each cupcake liner with 1/4-cup of batter. (A #16 scoop or disher with yield 12 muffins, and a #20 scoop will yield 15.) Bake at 350 degrees for 18 to 22 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool muffins on the pan for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Cool completely before icing.

For the glaze, heat butter and lemon juice until butter has melted. Whisk together powdered sugar and the lemon-butter mixture until combined. Spread about one teaspoon over the top of each muffing. If desired, garnish with lemon zest. Let glaze dry and for a slight crust before serving.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

SeabeeCook's playlists on YouTube

I have two channels on YouTube. While I'm not sure how it happened, they are Steven Karoly's channel and SeabeeCook's channel. One day I will merge the two.

I've created several playlists on my named channel. Playlists are a popular way to collect videos in a single location to share with the public. With some exceptions, these videos were created by others. Here are my current playlists:

Bread bakers -- I lead off my bread baker's playlist with a series by Ken Forkist, author of Flour Water Salt Yeast and owner of Ken's Artisan Bread & Pizza in Portland, Oregon. Ken walks you through his process for baking bread, from autolese to baking, in eight videos. Next is a three-part series on Saveurs, a traditional French boulangerie, chocolaterie and patisserie in Dartmouth, England. Included in the 20-some videos are several that I shot at a baking workshop.

Scones -- Scones fascinate me. I enjoy a good scone. They come together much like a biscuit and can be prepared in the afternoon for baking in the morning. Both videos currently in the scone playlist are imports from "across the pond." Included are the metric formula for basic scones.

Techniques for the Professional Baker -- This is a series of baking videos by King Arthur Flour in Norwich, Vermont. Bakery director Jeffery Hamelman leads viewers through the professional bread baking process with head baker Martin Philip. Interesting watching for anyone that would like to see how the pros do it.

Feather River Camp -- I've been know to shoot a video or two at Oakland Feather River Camp, where I am the executive chef each summer. Watch a Union Pacific freight train slide past the camp or view (almost) humorous videos from the kitchen.

Check back frequently as the lineup changes. From time to time, I add (and occasionally remove) videos from my playlists. I plan to add a Filipino cooking playlist soon. Enjoy ...

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Slow cooker shredded beef for tacos

Last week I prepared shredded beef for tacos in a slow cooker at my sister's home. Since Debbie and I were going to be out all day, the slow cooker simplified the process of cooking dinner. This was the first time that I had used one in over 20 years. Although we had received a slow cooker as a wedding gift, it disappeared many years ago.

As often is the case when I'm cooking, I didn't follow a recipe. The process is simple. I began by heating a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. After seasoning a piece of 'London broil' (top round, between two and three pounds) with salt and pepper, I seared the meat until it was browned. The steak was then cut into thirds and layered in the ceramic crock with one sliced onion, minced garlic, chopped cilantro and taco seasoning. I used homemade seasoning in my sister's cupboard. I then added one-half cup of chicken broth to the mixture.

The lid was placed on the slow cooker and turned to the low heat setting. The meat slowly cooked for eight hours while we were out of the house. After we returned to the house, I shredded the meat with two forks and garnished it with diced red onions and chopped cilantro. The shredded beef was served on corn tortillas with refried beans, salsa, grated cheese and hot pepper sauce.

Maybe it's time to invest in a new slow cooker, like one of the pressure cooker combinations!

Slow cooker shredded beef for tacos.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Pancit canton shrimp salad and potlucks

Sauteed green beans with shiitake mushrooms
and bacon. Two large loaves of artisan-style bread
are in the background.
This is one of those dishes that wasn't prepared with a recipe. Many of my dishes have their origin in the minute. I throw the dish together using ingredients in the fridge and cupboard. These dishes are those that I have prepared many times during my career. You could say that the recipe is embedded in my head.

For the second time in a week Debbie and I offered bread and a vegetable dish for a potluck. The first took place last week at a Thanksgiving gathering of a local church family. I prepared two loaves of no-knead bread and sauteed green beans with shiitake mushrooms and bacon. Three scraps of bread and a couple mushroom pieces were all that remained. One person asked me for the bread recipe after the meal.

Saturday we took pancit canton shrimp salad to a memorial service at the same church. For the second time, I offered a dish that was put together on the spur of the moment. The impromptu salad for the potluck, which followed the service, was inspired by my years of sevice in and of of the Philippines. I combined romaine lettuce, canton noodles, carrot sticks and baby shrimp. The salad was tossed with an Asian inspired vinaigrette. It fit in with the salad and sandwich theme for the potluck.

Pancit canton shrimp salad.
To prepare the salad, cooked 4 ounces canton noodles (called pancit canton or canton sticks) in chicken broth until al dente. (Follow the instructions on the package.) After draining and cooling, I cut one head of romaine lettuce and ran a large carrot through the mandoline using the smallest julienne setting. Eight ounces of cooked baby shrimp were thawed as well. Any number of vegetables could've been prepared at this point, including sliced radish or diakon, halved grape tomatoes and chopped cilantro.

The vinaigrette was prepared without measuring. Three cloves of finely minced garlic, tablespoon or two of cane vinegar, teaspoon or two of toyomansi (Filipino soy sauce with calamani), small spoonful of Dijon mustard, few drops of sesame oil and coarsely ground black pepper were whisked together in a bowl. I then streamed in canola oil while vigorously whisking to form a vinaigrette. While I can't tell you the ratio of vinegar to oil that I used, it was somewhere between 1:2 and 1:3. I enjoyed the garlicky sauce with its peppery bite.

To assemble the salad, I first tossed the shrimp in a couple tablespoons of the vinaigrette.While the shrimp marinated for a couple minutes, the lettuce, carrot and noodles were tossed together in a large bowl. The salad was tossed with the remaining vinaigrette, followed by shrimp. Serve cold.

Notes: Purchase Filipino products in any well-stocked Asianmarket. While Filipino soy sauce (toyo) adds a distinct flavor, any soy sauce can be used. Toyo has a mildly subtle flavor to it. Filipino cane vinegar is prepared from the juice of cane sugar (sukano ilocano). Calamansi is Filipino lime. Lemon or lime can be substituted for the calamansi in the Filipino soy sauce. I have yet to locate calamansi (fresh or bottled) in Northern California.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Sicilian-style cast iron skillet pizza

I haven't prepared skillet pizza in over four years for 'Round the Chuckbox. In February 2012, I baked a pizza in a 17-inch cast iron skillet when my baking stone "bit the dust." Three month later, when the home oven quit working, I baked a take 'n bake pizza in an inverted 14-inch Dutch oven. I felt it was time to feature another cast iron pizza.

After testing a recipe from the Serious Eats website two weeks ago, cast iron skillet pizza sounded good. I wanted a recipe that I can use at my summer job and when camping. This recipe will serve both purposes. It can either be baked in a half-sized (13x18-inch) sheet pan or in two large cast iron skillets (10- to 12-inch diameter).

The camp edition of the pizza can be baked with charcoal briquettes or inside the home oven. While this recipe uses a stand mixer (I use a Kitchen Aid 5-quart mixer), the Serious Eats website has instructions for hand-mixing the dough. You can use an inverted Dutch oven as well. I will post hand-mixing instructions when I get a chance.

The full-sized (18x26-inch) sheet pan will be used for the camp. It takes six to eight sheet pan pizzas for each 100 campers. Pizza is often pared with honey barbecued chicken wings, pasta salad and a loaded salad bar. We typically feature cheese pizza, pepperoni pizza, vegan pizza and a meat-lover's pizza.

I proofed the dough on the picnic table on the patio. The skillet in the foreground in a Lodge No. 12. The other one is a Wagner 1891. My wife and I purchased the Wagner in the early 1980s when we were first married.
The pizza is ready for toppings. Each skillet pizza needs 1/4- to 1/2-cup sauce, 3 to 4 ounces shredded cheese and 2 to 4 ounces meat (if used). I added a bunch of sauteed spinach to both pizzas. Four ounces sliced chicken sausage with feta and spinach was used on the larger pizza.
You have to pile the charcoal briquettes to achieve a close approximation of 550 degrees F. Lighting 10 extra briquettes will give you extra heat should you need it.
Finished pizzas. The crust could've been a bit more crisp. The smaller pizza is vegetarian.
Sheet pan pizza prepared from the same recipe. I will use this recipe to bake pizza in full-sized (18x26-inch) sheet pans for Oakland Feather River Camp, where I am the executive chef. Four sheet pans yield 96 slices.

This recipe requires two large cast iron skillets, 10- to 13-inches in diameter. Match each skillet to the rimmed Dutch oven lid (or camp-style Dutch oven) that fits best. The 12-inch lid will fit the smaller skillet while the larger skillets will require the 14-inch lid.

To bake in a rimmed 13x18-inch half-sized sheet pan, pour remaining oil (in second paragraph of instructions) into a half sheet pan. Place dough on sheet pan and let rise as directed. About 30 minutes before baking, preheat home oven to 550 degrees with rack in the middle position. Proceed to stretch dough to the sides and corners of the pan, as directed. Double toppings and bake 15 to 20.

This recipe was adapted from the website.

17-1/2 ounces bread or all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
12-1/4 ounces room temperature water

Combine flour, salt, yeast and 2 tablespoons oil in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk to combine. Add water and mix on medium speed until it comes together and no dry flour remains. Increase speed to medium-high and mix until the dough is stretchy and smooth, about 6 minutes. The dough should stick to the bottom of the bowl but pull away from the sides.

Divide oil between 2 cast iron skillets and spread over surface with hands. Divide dough in half and place one piece in each. (Add slightly more dough to the larger skillet when using mismatched pans.) Rub top surface with oil until thoroughly coated. Cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise at room temperature until dough has spread out to nearly touch each rim of each skillet, about 2 hours.

Carefully remove plastic wrap. Using oiled hands and being as gentle as possible to maintain air bubbles, push and stretch dough into corners of each skillet by pressing out from the center and lifting and stretching it beyond the rim of each skillet. The dough should pull back until the skillet is just filled with dough.

Light 45 to 60 charcoal briquettes in a charcoal chimney about 30 minutes before the dough is ready. One lid is needed since you will bake the pizzas one at a time. For 550 degrees, use around 45 briquettes (30 on lid and 15 under skillet) on the 12-in camp-style Dutch oven lid. The 14-inch lid requires around 60 briquettes (40 on lid and 20 under skillet).

Top each pizza with about 1/3- to 1/2-cup sauce, 3 to 4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese, plus additional toppings as desired. Place the first skillet on trivet. Place the lid from a Dutch oven on top of the skillet. Bake with charcoal briquettes for 550 degrees until bottom is crisp and top surface is bubbling, 15 to 30 minutes. Repeat for second skillet. Allow to cool at room temperature for 5 minutes. Slice as desired.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Filipino chicken adobo

Preparation for a lesson on Filipino cuisine has brought back fond memories to my time in the Philippine Islands. Lord willing, I will give the presentation to the Christian Culinary Academe next spring in Cannon Beach, Oregon. The culinary students will be immersed in international cuisine at the time of my visit, which will coincide with the annual Christian Chefs International conference.

Sailing between the Philippines and Vietnam with the U.S. Navy in the 1970s was my introduction to the cuisine. Once I secured an assignment to the big air base at Cubi Point in 1975, I had plenty of time to explore the the food of Luzon, the northernmost of over 7,000 islands in the nation. Influenced by visitors from neighboring lands and from across the sea alike, Filipino cooks have adapted many unique favors and incorporated many exciting ingredients into their meals. It's a true melting pot.

I enjoyed foods like pancit (stir-fried Chinese-style noodles) by the plateful at the mom and pop cafe on Magsaysay Boulevard and Gordon Avenue in Olongapo. I lived on pancit because it was inexpensive, filling and delicious. Then there were the steamed buns served at the theater on Rizal Avenue and the zingy soup (a form a sinigang) made with local fish from the market and the essence of tamarind.

Chicken adobo was one of my favorite Filipino dishes. We prepared it in the galley on the U.S.S. Stein (DE-1065). And I enjoyed it in many restaurants between Olangapo and Manila. A bowl of steamed rice with a couple pieces of chicken or pork adobo was heavenly. Add my other favorites to the meal -- pancit guisado , lumpia and leche flan -- and you had the makings for a complete Filipino mea.


This dish has been called the Philippine national dish, with good reason. It brings out the best in Filipino cuisine. The unique sauce, made with soy sauce, vinegar and garlic, covers the chicken in a tangy coating, with extra sauce to flavor steamed rice.

This dish is often prepared with large cubes of pork or a mix of pork and chicken. If desired, substitute a whole chicken chicken, cut into eight pieces, for the thighs. For a sweeter sauce, stir 1 teaspoon granulated sugar into the sauce just before serving. If too much sauce remains after the chicken is done, remove it to a waiting plate and reduce the sauce to the right consistency.

3/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
3/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon peppercorns
3 bay leaves

Adobo ingredients:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, sliced thin
6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
8-10 chicken thighs, skin removed and fat trimmed

Combine marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Place chicken in the bowl and turn pieces to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for 3 hours or more, preferably overnight.

Heat oil in a heavy skillet or wide-bottomed pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Saute until lightly caramelized, being careful not to burn. Place the chicken in the skillet or pan with the marinade in a single layer. Pour in just enough water to submerge the chicken by two-thirds. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover with a loose-fitting lid.

Cooking until the chicken is fork-tender. Do not let sauce completely dry up. Add additional water in small amounts (1 or 2 tablespoons at a time) if needed. You need a couple tablespoons sauce for each servings, in addition to the sauce that adheres to the chicken and onions. Strain sauce if desired.

To serve, portion steamed rice into individual bowls or plates with one or two pieces of chicken. Drizzle sauce over rice and chicken. Garnish with chopped parsley or minced green onions.