Or how to make 20 Buck Chuck…

A friend, who works for Myhrvold’s Intellectual Ventures, mentioned this “hyperdecanting” method in passing — over beers. He had not tried it. I was intrigued.

I now consider myself a budget oenophile and enjoy surprising friends with how good a decanted bottle of Charles Shaw Cabernet can taste. Myhrvold’s hyperdecanting method consists of blending the wine at high speed to maximize the air exposure to the wine. I found that 30 seconds on high greatly improved the wine. I have not done any blind tastings but I would rate a hyperdecanted Charles Shaw Cabernet with a wine that cost ten times as much.

If you have a blender and $2 (plus tax) give it a shot.

Kefta that takes me back to Morocco

Somewhere where the Middle Atlas meets the Sahara in Morocco, I discovered kefta, a lamb meatball. The restaurant was a porch across from the bus station. The sheep heads for the recent cull were hanging from wall. Each had several trails of clotted blood streaming from them. The kefta was served in a large bowl. There must have been 50. I had hired a driver and we split the meal. It was authentic Morocco. I loved it.

I finally found a recipe that takes me back to that dusty roadside at the start of Berber country. This is excellent with ground lamb, beef or pork. My take is more of a burger than a meatball. Have some fun with this:

Moroccan “Kefta” Lamb Burgers

1.5-2 lbs ground lamb
1/2 onion, finely chopped or grated
1 tablespoon cumin seed
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon thyme
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons paprika
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Chop or grate onion. Mix cumin, coriander, cinnamon and paprika with mortar and pestle. In a large bowl, add onion, spices and oregano and thyme. Add ground lamb. mix thoroughly with hands for an even consistency. Shape into tennis ball sized balls and place on cooking tray. Flatten balls with spatula. Cook burgers. Enjoy.

I prefer to grill these over charcoal and garnish with roasted peppers and goat cheese. Any way or size, they are delicious.

This recipe was inspired from a recommended and very well done Moroccan cookbook by Ghillie Basan (link below). If you have a tagine or what to get one, it is worth checking out.

Dijon, the mustard

I turned the bottle of Grey Poupon around and saw that there was sugar in the list of ingredients. It did not seem right. That cannot be right. This was mustard. Dijon. I started doing some research. This was 6 months ago.

Turns out that Dijon mustard has been regulated in various forms since 1390. The original recipe is very simple and does not contain sugar: Mustard seed, salt and vinegar. I figured that it could not be that hard to make on my own. Not only did this prove to be correct, it proved to be delicious. My version is very simple.

Max’s Dijon Mustard
2 Tablespoons crushed mustard seed
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 Teaspoon of granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt

I sourced just about all the organic mustard seed I will need for the foreseeable future from Amazon. I have been very happy with Frontier Mustard Seed, Brown Mustard Whole Certified Organic, 16 Ounce Bags (Pack of 3). This is a lot of mustard seed. Great value.

The mustard seed is crushed in my Omega J8004 Nutrition Center Commercial Masticating Juicer. This is a great juicer and has an insert that is perfect for grinding coffee, making almond meal or crushing mustard seed. The trick is to grind the mustard seed 4 or 5 times to obtain an even consistency. Be careful, the seeds are like little BB’s and will go everywhere.

Wine vinegar is up to you. The first few times, I used off the shelf wine vinegar. Now I make my own. It is very simple and there are several excellent articles on how to do it on your own. I would recommend “The “One-Shot” Crock or Jug Method” and “How to Make Red Wine Vinegar” from Mark’s Daily Apple. Grok on! I have enjoyed making a very nice white wine vinegar from a Charles Shaw Chardonnay from Trader Joe’s (Yes, Two Buck Chuck), a mason jar and some cheese cloth. Starting without any “mother” it took 8 weeks. “Mother” appears after 8 weeks. This matters little for mustard however. Part of the excitement is the subtle variety that each batch brings.

I have been using the Kirkland Signature Granulated Garlic. It is a nice product. There is nothing special about the sea salt though I am confident that a flavored sea salt would enhance the flavor.

Mix the four ingredients and you are good to go. There are various opinions on aging. The mustard mellows over time regardless, so I keep the batches small. If it dries out, add some water. It is very satisfying to make something that you have likely purchased your entire life. Plus it is very easy.

This mustard is great with hard-boiled eggs and everything else that you could use mustard with (which is just about everything). Enjoy!