Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving Recipes

Hey just checking to see if anyone has any good recipes for Thanksgiving or suggestions for the best way to cook the turkey. I've been hit or miss with the bird over the years. Sometimes it comes out OK, but other times I've had disasters where the white meat is already dry and hitting 175 degrees when the dark meat is still bleeding. I'm up for some new ideas - let's hear it!

Best Cheesesteak in Philly, Really....

This will be a short review. I moved to Philadelphia in 2005 and shortly thereafter had friends visit from northern Jersey and we made a long weekend out of casing and reviewing the usual suspects of Philly Cheesesteak-ness. Pats and Genos on Passyunk, Steves Prince of Steaks in the Northeast, Jims Steaks on South Street. Slacks, Tony Lukes, blah blah blah. Steve's Prince of Steaks is the best among the big name places above. Pat's and Geno's are tourist traps and both BLOW. The rest are middle of the road.

I worked down by the airport in Sharon Hill up until 2008. It turns out the absolute BEST cheesesteak was right around the corner from my office. Leo's Steaks on Chester Pike in Folcroft PA. If you are in the area and are looking to experience a true Philly cheesesteak that the locals go to get - GO THERE. Unlike the more famous places Leo's does not live off of a famous name like Pats or Genos, so they try harder. Massive quantities of top notch thinly shaved rib-eye - not the thick chewy slabs like Genos does nor the cheap "Steak-Um" style stuff at Slacks and some of the others. This is the best. Great rolls too. If you're in the area let me know and I'll take you there myself. End of review.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Famous Dave's Rib Rub Recommendation

I'm not one to be a shill for name brand products, but if something is truly exceptional I won't hesitate to support it here on the blog. I HIGHLY recommend Famous Dave's Rib Rub.

I have a cabinet literally bursting with dry spices, rubs, blends and mixes; some name brand stuff, some of my own concoctions, and some I get from the Spice Corner in Philadelphia (which is also an excellent place to visit if you're ever in the Italian Market section of the city.) I have tried tons of different dry rubs on pork and beef ribs. I like to experiment. I figure I'm investing a whole day of drinking and sports watching while slow cooking ribs so I want to have some fun tinkering. Whats the fun in having the end result always come out the same after all?

I came across Famous Dave's rib rub last month while down in Topsail Isle on the North Carolina coast. Eight college buddies whom I hadn't seen in 25 years and I had a rental house for the week, so it was a drunken mess, but a LOT of great food was cooked. On the morning of the second day a couple of the guys went out early to pick up supplies for the day, many cases of beer, and a bunch of racks of both pork back and beef ribs. When I asked how they were going to prepare them they were like "well we got this dry rub - Famous Daves - it was all they had at the little market in town." I was bummed out frankly. Famous Daves, for those of you who don't know, is a chain type of rib restaurant. There's a few of them around here in Philly, I've never been to one, but I'd tried their BBQ sauce once off the supermarkt shelf and was not impressed. I did not have high hopes for this rub. I expected it to be about 80 percent salt like most commercial rubs you find in the supermarket. Boy was I wrong! The fellas dispersed a generous amount of the stuff on both the beef and the pork ribs, let it set while the fire was heating up, and four hours later VOILA! Absolutely the best tasting ribs I've ever had - BAR NONE - and that covers a lot of years and a lot of great ribs.

Now all due credit needs to go to both the cook (my buddy Clive who is a good ol' boy NASCAR tailgating master BBQ chef) as well as the great quality of the meats, but the seasoning was remarkably well balanced; a little sweet, just the right amount of spicy, not at all overly salty, hitting all the right "bbq" notes with a hint of something I couldn't define at the time but later found out to be ground cloves. In totality it just worked amazingly well. No gooey BBQ sauce needed with this stuff, just dig right in.

I have since searched it out locally and have gone through two jars already. It's great on ribs, pork chops, and steaks too. In fact the last night in Topsail we treated ourselves to a massive grilled beef rib roast, again with the Famous Daves rub, and it was another "best I've ever had" moment. Like I said I'm not a paid shill nor am I employed by Famous Daves, but I give this stuff my five star recommendation. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Sandwich Week: Turkey and Sliced Egg. A Variation

"A variation on what?", you might ask.  A variation on the first sandwich I hi-lighted this week.  "Why?", you might also ask.  Because I had a ton of that red cabbage slaw left over and I needed to do something with it.  Here's what happened:

Still using that fine paper china, I see...
Turkey and Sliced Egg Hero

  • Some kind of hero or roll - I used a rosemary/salt baguette
  • Red cabbage slaw - (see recipe)
  • Sliced turkey breast
  • 1 hard-boiled egg - sliced
  • Garlic/butter spread - made from garlic and butter (duh)
  • Gold's HOT horseradish - yeah
OK, here was my thought process on this one. Do something similar, yet different.  So I poked my head in the fridge to see what I could see.  And what I saw was some turkey, some horseradish and a hard-boiled egg.  I could work with that.

The bread is a little different.  A rosemary/salt baquette instead of an olive baguette.  I still toasted it with some butter and garlic just the same though. And I used some of that red cabbage slaw I had made up earlier in the week.  That's the similarities.  The differences are turkey breast instead of roast beef, no shaved Romano cheese, a sliced hard-boiled egg and a smear of spicy horseradish on one side of the hero.

The results? Fan-freakin-tastic!

All the flavors of the slaw came through, as did the garlic rosemary toast and horseradish.  And the addition of the sliced egg was pure genius, if I do say so myself.  What's great about it is that all the secondary flavors from the slaw, horseradish and bread didn't steal from the two main ingredients of turkey and egg.  They just accentuated the flavors nicely.  You might me tempted to sprinkle a little salt on this one, but I didn't because the baguette was a bit salty to start with.  All in all, another great one! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Homemade Gyro Sammiches

Ever since leaving NY in 2005 I've been searching for a decent Gyro down here in the Philly suburbs. The only decent ones are in the actual city itself, which is a bit of a schlep. You can get them from just about any pizza joint locally but they take the meat out of a freezer in little premade slices - not carved from the spit, so in my mind that is NOT a gyro. I came across an Alton Brown recipe that I fiddled with and simplified a bit. It's a little time consuming but the flavors are pretty authentic.

NOTE: I also included my Tzatziki Sauce recipe - make this prior to starting the sandwiches of course.

Gyro Meat:
1 lb ground lamb
1 lb ground beef (recommend high fat content - 80/20)
1 large yellow onion and 4 cloves garlic, pulverized in food processor then drained of liquid.
1 tbsp each of ground oregano, ground rosemary, ground marjoram, kosher salt
1 tsp each of black pepper, ground cumin, ground thyme

Mix all this together in a Kitchenaid mixer and run on high until it becomes tacky and almost paste-like. Don't slack on this step otherwise the consistency will just be like meatloaf, not what we're going for in a gyro. It could take up to ten minutes run time on high to get it just right.

Remove the mixture and mold it into a 9"x6" loaf pan, pressing down to remove as many air pockets as possible.

Heat oven to 325. Place the loaf pan inside of a larger, deeper pan filled about halfway with water (you want the water level equal to the where the meat comes up to in the loaf pan.) Bake in this mock "Bain Marie" for 1 hour. Remove loaf pan from water and let rest for a few minutes. Drain the fat and reserve.

Once cool enough flip the meat out of the loaf pan, slice thinly and fry - using the reserved fat from the baking (which has all the great flavors from the spices in there.) Check a piece for salt level - you may need to add a little more to the meat while frying at this point.

Put on pita bread and top with the usual Gyro goodies; lettuce, tomatoes, slivered onion and Tzatziki sauce. TIP - I find it hard to find really GOOD pita bread in the supermarkets so I use Indian Naan bread from a little Subzi Mandi joint down the block from me - it's awesome. If you have an Indian place local and you have the choice between using that or the Peppridge Farm shit in Pathmark --- ALWAYS opt for Naan bread.

Here's my quick recipe for Tzatziki Sauce:
8 Oz of Greek Yogurt (Fage 4% is the best - don't use lower fat it's sour)
4 Oz sour cream
1 medium cucumber (peeled) and 3 cloves garlic, processed until fairly smooth but not liquified.
Appx. 2 oz (a small handful) of crumbled feta cheese
1 tsp each dried mint and dried dill
1 tsp honey
1 tsp white vinegar
Salt to taste if needed (test for this LATER)

Mix all ingredients and let set in refrigerator at least two hours -- test salt level prior to serving.

Sandwich Week: The BEST Cuban Sandwich

I've mentioned this several times, both here and on my personal blog. But the best Cuban sandwich I've ever had was from a laundromat on White Street in Key West.  Let that sink in for a moment before I repeat it.

The best Cuban sandwich I've ever had was from a laundromat on White Street in Key West. 

This one:

clicken ze biggen
That's the M&M Laundry on White Street, just a few blocks north of Duval Street off of US 1.  And if you click on the picture to make it bigger, you will see a takeout window for Sandy's Cafe, which shares space in the building with the laundromat.

How did this happen? How is this possible? Out of the dozens and dozens of joints where I've tried the Cuban sandwich (marinated roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard grilled on Cuban bread), how can a place that operates out of a laundromat make the best one?

Honestly, I have no idea.  But they do.

I've been to Key West a whole bunch of times, and Cuban food is a mainstay down there.  And the Cuban sandwich is offered at probably a hundred different places in town.  And thousands and thousands more in Florida and it is ever-expanding northward.  My local deli in town here on Long Island makes a Cuban Sandwich.  It's decent and it will do in a pinch, but it ain't a Cuban from Sandy's Cafe in Key West.  That's for sure.  I don't have a picture of one that I've ordered myself, but click here to see what the rather plain-looking sandwich, er, looks like.

I guess the most important thing is not how they make the best Cuban sandwich, but simply that they do it.

If you ever find yourself in Key West, take a stroll up US 1 and turn onto White Street for a block or so until you see the M&M Laundry.  You'll know that a great sandwich is yours to have in mere minutes from there.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sandwich Week: Roast Beef with Red Cabbage Slaw

Hey kids!

Welcome to Day 1 of Sandwich Week here on Simmer, Sip, Share!!!

I know, I know.  You somehow missed that on your calendar, right? Well, I just decided late Sunday night to make it Sandwich Week this week.  A spur of the moment kinda thing, if you will.  I'm going to post once a day about a great sandwich I've made and/or enjoyed.  The rest of you kids who contribute?  Well, I hope you will join in either in the comments or with a post of your own.

Here goes:

Roast Beef with Red Cabbage Slaw

Enjoy the fine paper china


  • Boar's Head Roast Beef - sliced thin
  • Fresh baked olive baguette - around 7-9 inches long
  • Unsalted butter - just a pat or four
  • 1 clove garlic - minced
  • Romano cheese - shaved thin
  • Red cabbage slaw - see recipe below
Here's what you are gonna want to do. Make a garlic butter spread with the, duh, garlic and butter.  Spread it thinly on both sides of the olive baguette you've sliced in half.  You can't get your hands on an olive baguette?  I feel sorry for you.  But feel free to replace with something less tasty, like Italian bread or something.  Now toast that sucker up a nice golden brown in the oven, toaster oven or whatever you have.

Now layer on the red cabbage slaw (recipe below) and let it sit for a while so that the juices from the slaw really sink into the toasted bread.  While that is happening, shave some Romano cheese onto that bad boy.  Doesn't have to be a lot, so use your best judgement here. Cheese is a personal choice, so I would never assume to tell you how much or how little to use.  Uncommon sense is the rule here.

Finish up your sandwich with as much or as little sliced roast beef as you like.  I didn't tell you how much cheese to use, and I certainly won't tell you how much roast beef to use.'s a personal choice.

Smush it all together and serve with a pickle spear and an ice-cold beer.  I made this on Saturday afternoon, and it was...sublime.  The garlic/olive bread, the roast beef, the shaved romano, the vinegar/oil, celery seed, raisins and red onion from the slaw made an incredibly delicious combination.

I give it the Earl Seal of Approval.  Dig!

  • 1/2 head red cabbage - heavily shredded or thinly sliced (either way)
  • 2 medium carrots - peeled and shredded
  • 1 small red onion - diced
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsps celery seed
  • 2 tbsps sugar
  • salt and pepper - to taste
Take your vinegar, olive oil, celery seed, sugar and salt and pepper and whisk them up until they are mixed together really nicely.  At least until the salt and sugar dissolve.

In a large salad bowl, mix the shredded red cabbage, carrots, onions and raisins.

Slowly add the vinegar/oil mixture and mix thoroughly.  Cover and refrigerate for a few hours before you intend to serve.  It makes a great side dish, or (as you can tell) a great addition to a tasty sammich.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The best way to eat cereal...

Okay kids, I have for you today, two of the best Rice Krispie Square recipes you will ever have in your life.  I PROMISE!  If you are not 300% satisfied, you can come up here to Canada and tell me to my face!  This is how we do it up here.  I usually only make these once a year as they are DANGEROUS!  So don't say you weren't warned.  They're wicked good.  'Tis the season to start Christmas baking and this is what I'm starting with:

Mars Bar Rice Krispie Squares
4 Mars bars
1/2 cup margarine
3 cups Rice Krispies

- heat the Mars bars and the margarine in a saucepan stirring continuously until melted
- add cereal to coat

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup margarine

- combine chips and margarine in saucepan on low heat until melted.
- stir often until smooth (I use a double boiler for this cuz I usually burn the first batch)
- pour over squares
- let cool before cutting

Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Squares
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cup peanut butter
6 cups rice Krispies

- combine brown sugar and corn syrup in a saucepan, boil for 1 minute, take off heat and add vanilla
- stir to combine
- then add peanut butter, stir until smooth.
- stir in Rice Krispies
- pack into a 9x13 greased pan

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups butterscotch chips
1-2 Tbs. peanut butter (optional)

- melt chips and peanut butter in a sauce pan over medium heat
- pour over squares
- cool before cutting