Monday, August 23, 2021

Costco Product Review: Mission Hill Bistro's Smoked Beef Brisket Burnt Ends

 

Mission Hill Bistro Smoked Beef Brisket Burnt Ends

It was inevitable. The brisket burnt ends were going to end up in the shopping cart at Costco sooner or later. They made it in during the last trip. 

Here's a shot of the back of the package...


 Burnt Ends Blues
First I have to address what's on the package. Take note of the label on the bottom left. $9.59 a pound, 1.52 pounds in this package. The total price is $14.58. 

Okay, so this is something that gave me pause right away, because there is sauce included in this package, but it is not weighed separately. There are 4 servings in this package, according to the line under "Nutrition Facts." 4 servings at 1 cup each. 

Burnt ends at $9.59 per pound...not a bad deal really, since the burnt ends are one of the best parts of a brisket after you've smoked it. Right? Not something you would want to eat on a daily basis, obviously, but once in a while is okay. 

I weighed the burnt ends and the sauce packets separately to see if it was indeed a "good deal." The package of burnt ends came in at just a shade over 1 lb., 1 oz. The sauce packet weighed 8.3 oz. What?! Yes, 8.3 oz. So that's approximately $4.98 for the packet of sauce. That is ridiculous. Definitely not a good deal on the sauce. 

My first question for Mission Hill Bistro is: Why is sauce included with the burnt ends in the first place? Burnt ends never require sauce. They are eaten just as they are because they taste great. I have never had a burnt end in my life that I had to put sauce on. Of course, those were fresh from the smoker, but still...

So I have a big issue with this sauce packet. Just to be a good sport, I decided to try the sauce with the burnt ends. Okay..."hell to the no" on that! The sauce is sickeningly sweet. I suppose they thought eating it with the burnt ends might balance things out. Well...NO! It doesn't. It's still too sweet. Too bad, too, because if it wasn't so sweet, it would actually be pretty good. It has a nice "afterburn." Still not worth $4.98 though. No way. Now we are stuck with leftover sauce that is too sweet to eat. I will have to modify it for use in another recipe because I hate to waste food.  

The burnt ends themselves weren't that bad. If you crisp them up a bit, you can "fool" yourself into believing they were fresh out of the smoker. Well...almost. The kitchen certainly had that lingering odor of smokiness that occurs when you prepare a brisket at home. 

The bottom line is: The burnt ends are okay. Nothing to write home about, but certainly edible. They taste much better without the sauce, as burnt ends should. They are NOT a good deal, though, because they are packaged along with the sauce. If the packet was only 4 ounces or so, I could let that slide. But not this 8.3 ounces of sauce. No way. Too much $$$ for what's basically BBQ "syrup." 

If you have money to burn, though, go for it! I think it would be cool to get the Mission Hill Bistro Sliced Beef Brisket (read my review here), along with the burnt ends so you could have the best of both brisket worlds at the same time. Party down! It would be a good idea to make your own sauce though, (for the regular brisket, not the burnt ends, of course). 

I have to rate this one, reluctantly, three chicken legs. It would have been two, but they get a freebie just for having the gumption to offer brisket burnt ends to the public. This means they are paying attention. The sauce though? ๐Ÿ™„ Cost ya' two legs, Mission Hill Bistro! 

๐Ÿ—๐Ÿ—๐Ÿ—

Now, here is a visual presentation of the burnt ends and the progression from the removal from the package to the final form before consumption: 

Opened Package...


Where's the beef? ๐Ÿ˜†


Here's that &%#@*%&$!! sauce packet. ๐Ÿ˜ก


Big lump in the pan with a bit of oil.


Breaking up lumps


Breaking them up some more

Added a shot of water. Just a small shot.


Hmmm...


 Looking better...maybe?

Final Form

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Cinnamon Roll Adventures

 


I finally got a chance to make some cinnamon rolls again. This time, I made them using the recipe from King Arthur Flour's website. The recipe I used included the tangzhong method, in which part of the flour is cooked with milk or water (or both) on the stovetop until it thickens. This method results in softer breads, and helps them to stay fresh a little longer than other methods. I love to use this method for rolls and loaves of bread, so it was no issue to use it for cinnamon rolls. 

The rolls were very good. The dough was very easy to work with after mixing, and especially after the first rise. The only thing I wasn't happy about was the cinnamon, so I embarked on a cinnamon hunt to find some cinnamon that was just a little more potent. I never gave it a lot of thought before because I don't use it that often. Besides cinnamon rolls, I use it in oatmeal once in a while, spice cake, and of course in November for pumpkin pie. 

So I gave myself a crash course on cinnamon. I'll have to do a post on cinnamon in the future because I am supposed to be reporting on rolls here. ๐Ÿ˜† Since I made these rolls the other day, I have purchased Ceylon cinnamon and Saigon cinnamon for future batches, (which will be in the near future for sure). 

The next batch I'm planning will be made using my grandmother's kolache dough recipe. She used her kolache dough for cinnamon rolls too. Her cinnamon rolls totally rocked! I haven't used her recipe in a while. Last year I made a Keto version of cinnamon rolls and a Swedish version. I think cinnamon rolls should be made more than twice a year, and I am going to get into the habit of making them more often. 

I do recommend the King Arthur recipe. Try it out when you get a chance. Don't be intimidated with the tangzong method. It was weird for me when I first started using it, because I had only cooked flour when making choux pastry in the past. I was just used to using standard bread recipes, so it took a little adapting. I don't use it for all breads, but I do use it pretty frequently now. Click here for the King Arthur cinnamon roll recipe. 

The only thing I changed in the King Arthur recipe was the icing. I didn't use theirs. I made one with cream cheese using 1 stick of butter, 1 brick of cream cheese, 1 tsp. vanilla, 2 cups of powdered sugar, 1 tsp. of cinnamon, and just a bit of milk or cream, (depending on what thickness you prefer). 

Oh! I almost forgot to mention: KA's recipe doesn't have any sugar. I did add 2 tsps. of sugar, but only to feed the yeast and allow it to bloom before I mixed the dough. 

The cream cheese icing I mentioned above works really well with the KA recipe. The dough isn't sweet, and the brown sugar used for the filling along with the cream cheese icing I mentioned above gave the rolls a very nice balance. They just needed more cinnamon. ๐Ÿ˜

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Fun with Food in Fiction

 

Larry Underwood Eggs

Food in Fiction

I'm sure I'm not the only person on Earth who enjoys recreating a meal from a book or a movie. I think it would be great fun to have a club dedicated to recreating fictional meals. I'm sure clubs like this exist somewhere, too, but not here, unfortunately. That would be the ultimate book club - have a little potluck with the meals in a book when it's time to discuss the book (assuming that there is any food in the book, or maybe the rules would be that books with meals must be chosen for the club to read. Yeah, that's better). 

One simple dish I like to make sometimes is "Larry Undewood Eggs," as in the photo above. Minus the Debussy playing in the background as it was in the book. (The Stand.)

There are quite a few food items or meals mentioned in that book. Mother Abagail's fried chicken that she made for the guests that she knew were coming, the pork chops, the ears of fresh corn; Frannie's strawberry-rhubarb pie; Nadine's Stroganoff casserole; the meals Nick made for his prisoners, so many options! (Yeah, but we can leave out Lloyd's desperate meal of rat tartar and Flagg's rabbit, lol.)

I also like to "take part" in Dennis and Arnie's leftover Thanksgiving turkey ritual in Christine. The scene in the book was something that harkened back to their boyhood days and made Dennis realize he needed to take action to help his best friend. So I'll have leftover turkey on Wonder Bread with mayo...sort of a double nostalgia thing, my nostalgia for their nostalgia. 

How about movie & tv food? Let's skip the scene in Demolition Man with the burger. ๐Ÿ˜‚ It was funny, though. How about the scene in Twister instead: seared steak, mashed potatoes, and gravy "that is in its own food group." Oh, and all of the food in The Sopranos. Yeah! That's the ticket! 

There are so many examples, it's impossible to list them all here. But it is a fun thing to do in the kitchen sometimes. If that makes me a weirdo, so be it! 

How about you? Do you have any favorite book, movie, or tv food you like to recreate? 


Thursday, August 5, 2021

And Now, Another Episode of: "So Many Sausages, So Little Time," featuring -- Eckermann's Sausage


 I got three words fer ya, Pod'nah...Eckermann's Hot Links! 

A Sausage for Every Occasion

We're very fortunate because we live in an area where sausages are prolific. I can name several towns, all within an hour's drive from here, where sausages are made and sold. Some of them carry the name of the town, or the family that owns the company, others have more colorful names. Most of them are pretty darn good. But...then there's Eckermann's. 

When I was growing up, Waak Sausage was a regular in our family. It was the perfect sausage, the flavor was unsurpassed. The grind was just the right size, not too big and not too small. They used a lot of mustard seed in their "secret" mix, and smoked the sausages just right. We had them all of the time at family barbecues. My grandma used them when she made klobรกsnรญk (a.k.a. sausage kolache). But, if Waak's was not available for some strange reason, Eckermann's took up the slack. 

My great uncle had a meat market and made smoked sausage, but we still preferred Waak's over his. The rest of his offerings, including summer sausage, were great! But his sausage always fell short with us for some reason. The flavor was off...it was either missing something or it had an ingredient that just wasn't agreeable. So we stuck with Waak's. 

Alas! Waak Sausage is gone now. They closed down some years ago. The buildings are still there, but they house some other meat market now. So Eckermann's inherited the throne, at least in our house. Sausage perfection! 

We don't eat a lot of sausage these days, but Eckermann's is definitely the "go-to" when we do. Usually we get the pork version. I couldn't find it last time, so I picked up some hot links instead. It was a great choice! They have just the right amount of heat. 

Around here we like REAL sausage, not that "pink slime wannabe" poser. (I'm not going to name any names, but they used to run a lot of ads on tv, and probably still do.) 

If you're ever in this area, make a plan to do a "Sausage Tour." First, just go to our local Mom-n-Pop grocer in town because they carry a lot of sausages from different companies there. Then map the rest out accordingly. Yes, they DO have several varieties of Eckermann's, including dry sausage. 

If you don't live around here, fear not! Eckermann's has a website and they will ship sausage to you if you order at least 10 pounds of their product. That is SO easy to do. Just order one of each variety. I'd skip the head cheese version though, because I'm not a fan. But if you are, hey! Go for it! 

I rate Eckermann's Hot Links at 5 out of 5 stars! It even passed the "White Bread Test." If you get a chance to try some...do it! Dooooo iiiiiit! 

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Monday, August 2, 2021

Recipe: Nan's "Knock Your Socks Off" Potatoes


Get your fork! We're ready to Rock-n-Roll!!!

A Little 'Tater Background

This is a recipe my maternal grandma (Nan) used to make on a regular basis. She was Czech, but I don't know if the recipe was a Czechoslovakian method of cooking or if she just started cooking them that way herself. She had so much energy for so many things -- she worked from sunup to sundown with hardly a break. She wore many hats: mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, gardener, baker, cook, seamstress, volunteer...those are just a few examples. She always made sure none of us went hungry. She always had something available for us, as well as any visitors, whether they were invited or just dropping in for a quick visit unannounced. 

She liked to challenge herself in the kitchen and one her challenges was how quickly she could get a meal prepared. She liked to get lunch prepared in 30 minutes, and she would time herself. Dinner might take a little longer, depending on her mood and whatever she had in the baking queue on any particular day. That could be why this cooking method for potatoes was a favorite. My grandpa was German and he loved his meat and potatoes, so I'm sure that factored in as well. 

I don't have any real measurements for this recipe, I just make them from what I learned by observing her method. The best I can do is try to get a measurement on how many pounds of potatoes are used next time I make them. 

This recipe is best with fresh, red potatoes, but any waxy potato variety will suffice. You can use starchier potatoes (like Russets), but the end result will be different, because waxy varieties of potato hold their shape better. However, I would recommend starchier potatoes for this method if you are planning to make mashed potatoes, because it removes a step and saves time. 

Another great thing about this method is that all of the nutrients in the potatoes are retained instead of going down the drain. But be warned! These potatoes are SO GOOD, that you'll be tempted to forgo all of the other dishes and gorge on these potatoes! They are so good, I almost fall over every time I eat them. The flavor will knock your socks off! 

Recipe

A large frying pan is crucial for this recipe, unless you are only cooking for one person. Actually, go ahead and use a frying pan anyway, because you will absolutely want to have leftovers for the next day. (If you are able to control yourself, that is.) 

  • 1 frying pan: 10", 12", 14" - it depends on how many servings you'll need. We usually use a 10" or 12" and that will make 4 reasonably-sized servings. 
  • Red potatoes (or any waxy variety) as needed
  • 2-3 Tbsps. Cooking oil (light olive oil, canola, or vegetable oil)
  • 1-2 Tbsps. unsalted butter
  • S&P (to taste)
  • water (as needed)

1. No need to peel potatoes. Wash, trim any bad bits, then cut into bite-size pieces. Use as many as needed to cover the bottom of the pan.

2. Place potatoes in a single layer in pan. 

3. Add water just to cover potatoes (see below), then add oil and butter. (or just add oil & add the butter after potatoes are done.)

4. Add S&P. Stir to combine. 

5. Bring to a boil over high heat. 

6. Turn heat down to about medium-high. Stir potatoes once in a while. 

7. Test potatoes, and when they are about "al dente," turn the heat back up to high and cook until the water evaporates (au sec). The potatoes will form a small amount of sauce with the oil & butter. Add more butter if you wish.

8. You can eat these just as they are, or allow them to brown a bit. They are spectacular either way. 


Boil Those Beautiful Babies!



Cook to au sec.

Add a bit more butter if you like & stir until mixed.


Rock-n-Roll!!!