Posts Tagged 'Cooking'

November 28, 2011

Brisket and BYOC

With all of the cooking and eating going on around Thanksgiving, Summer's Truffle Mac and Cheese blog inspired me to think back on any of the "expertise" I can provide for SoftLayer customers in the kitchen. One of the first things my mother taught me to cook was brisket. While it might not be as exotic as 3 Bars Barbeque, it's pretty easy to make. Everyone who tastes it sings its praises and thinks it took forever to prepare, and while it does have to cook in the oven for about four hours, there are only five ingredients, so the "preparation" time is actually only around ten minutes. Since it's not exactly a family secret, I don't think I'll get into any trouble for sharing it:

Easy-To-Make Brisket Ingredients

  • 1 Brisket - I'd recommend having the majority (not all) of the fat trimmed off at the store
  • 2 1/2 Cups of Ketchup - Buy the largest ketchup bottle and plan on using a little more than half
  • 1 1/2 Cups of Water
  • 1 Packet of Onion Soup Mix
  • 1 Can of Tomato Paste (Optional, adds flavor)

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees
  2. Mix all of the non-brisket ingredients and pour them on top of the brisket in a large roaster (one with a lid would be preferable)
  3. Make sure the entire brisket is covered. Pick it up to get your other ingredients underneath.
  4. Pop it into the oven for four hours at 300 degrees.
  5. Take it out, let it cool, and enjoy!

That's the basic, original recipe, but I've found a few ways to make it juicier along the way. One tip is to pull the brisket from the oven after about three and a half hours and slice it against the grain. If you have an electric knife, this is the perfect chance to use it, and if you don't, this could be an excuse to get one. Put the brisket back in the roaster for another half hour, and you'll love the results. Because ovens differ, just make sure it's moist before you take it out to serve.

At this point, you're probably asking yourself what a brisket recipe has to do with SoftLayer. If you've used our Build Your Own Cloud wizard, you might already see the similarity: You can put something together that seems dauntingly time consuming quickly and without breaking a sweat ... And the end result is amazing. There are a few simple steps to making an impressive brisket, and it takes a few clicks to build a customized cloud instance with all the benefits of SoftLayer's global network and support.

Too often, selecting a cloud instance involves more limitations than it does choices, so we wanted to make sure the BYOC service enabled customers the granularity to choose CPU, RAM, and storage configurations on newer, more powerful servers than our competition. Just like my tweak of the original recipe, we want customers to have the ability to tweak their cloud platform to provide the best application performance, cost efficiency, and availability for their specific needs.

If this blog left you hungry, you've got everything you need to make an amazing brisket. If you don't have the ingredients (or the four hours) you need to make one now, you can try the quicker BYOC recipe:

SoftLayer Cloud Ordering Ingredients

  • The device you're using to read this blog.
  • A list of what you want on your cloud instance.

Instructions

  1. Visit SoftLayer's Build Your Own Cloud page.
  2. Select the options you want and submit your order.
  3. Start using your custom cloud instance in less than 20 minutes!

Happy Building! :-)

-Rachel

Categories: 
November 24, 2011

Summer's Specialty: Truffle Mac and Cheese

Over half my time this year has been spent traveling around the US, Canada and Europe where I've shared the SoftLayer story with hundreds (if not thousands) of people. Since most of our trade shows are outside of the Dallas area, I frequently call a hotel room "home," so I really cherish my actual home. One of my favorite things to do while I am home is spend quality time in the kitchen with my husband and our mischievous 2 year old chocolate lab (who is usually close by waiting for food to fall off the counter), and in honor of Thanksgiving Day today, I thought I'd share a quick recipe for you if you're frantically looking for a dish to bring to a turkey day party.

Anyone that knows me well will tell you that I am not the greatest cook, but one thing I do make well is truffle mac and cheese. Since one of the goals on the SoftLayer Blog is to share the culture and expertise of our employees (and given the holiday timing), I thought my expertise in this area would be particularly valuable.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. dried macaroni pasta
  • 2 1/4 cups shredded Swiss cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. White truffle oil — Though I usually use more ... I am not–so-secretly obsessed with this stuff!
  • 1/3 cup garlic bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Cook macaroni noodles in a pan according to directions on the container.
  2. Add the unsalted butter to a separate saucepan over medium heat until the butter begins to foam (constantly stir to make sure the butter does not burn).
  3. Add the flour to the foaming butter and stir for about 1-2 minutes.
  4. Carefully pour in the milk, whisking constantly until all the milk has been added. The sauce should begin to thicken. Make sure to whisk out any lumps. This should take around 5 minutes.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and begin to add in 2 cups of shredded Swiss cheese. Mix this until the cheese has completely melted.
  6. Add truffle oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Drain the water from the cooked macaroni noodles and add the cheese sauce to the noodles. Mix until the cheese has coated the noodles.
  8. Place the mac and cheese in a baking dish. Sprinkle the last 1/4 cup of shredded Swiss cheese and your 1/3 cup of garlic bread crumbs over the top.
  9. Place the dish in the oven on a high broil until the top is crispy and golden brown.

When you take it out of the oven and let it cool, you can load it into your car and whisk it away to your get-together to amaze all of your friends and family ... If you can manage to keep yourself from eating it on the way.

Happy Thanksgiving!

-Summer

October 1, 2011

Spam All Day, Bacon All Night

As the "abuse guy," I deal with all kinds of abuse issues, and as you would imagine, SPAM is the primary point of concern. You'd probably think that dealing with spam ALLLLLL day every day would make most meat products sound unappealing, but there's one that'll never get on my bad side.

Bacon ... wrapped around random slices of meat.

Bacon Blog

Now, I could draw a comparison with bacon and a server and tell you that bacon is a mandatory component of any good breakfast, the way memory is to a server is key, but I won't. I'd rather get right to my point: Bacon, make everything better!

And when its wrapped around another piece of meat, it's like it marries the meat and they combine during the grilling process and make some sort of new flavorful offspring full of taste, combining the amazing taste of bacon with the inferior yet still good taste of the meat it's wrapped around!

But wait, there's more. Bacon also wraps nicely around chicken and cheese stuffed jalapenos, bringing a unique taste of crunchy jalapeno, melted cheese, moist chicken, and of course MORE BACON.

You should really try this at your next party. It's not hard to do. You need (1) Bacon, (2) Something to wrap it around and (3) Toothpicks. I usually cook the "wrappee" to the point where it's almost ready to eat before adding the wrapper so the bacon is perfectly cooked at the same time the internal meat is ready to eat.*

The best thing about bacon is there are sooo many choices, from kinds of bacon to available brands. Some bacon is thin, and some is thick. Some bacon is cured and some is smoked. The choice is really yours. And you can't go wrong! (Well, if you don't know what you're getting into, you might go wrong with tofu bacon and other types of fake bacon -aka- facon)

- Dody

*One note to keep in mind and this is VERY important. Bacon tends to be greasy and fatty and if you're grilling bacon over an open flame, the chances that the grease from the bacon will drip down and catch the area it lands in on fire are very ... no EXTREMELY likely and dangerous. The result could be the loss of a lot of arm hair.

Categories: 
June 6, 2011

What I Know: Hosting & BBQ

Last week, Thomas talked about his summertime passion, and it immediately got me thinking of mine. There are two things I know in this world: Hosting and Barbeque. They may be on the opposite ends of the spectrum, but both integral parts of the SoftLayer culture.

Being Texas born and bred, I hear stories that my first baby bed was actually a refinished barrel pit, and at the tender age of 4, I started my first fire right where I used to lay my head. By the age of 7, I graduated from grilling to smoking, and by age 10, I was expected to have mastered the art of mixing fire, smoke and the perfect rub to deliver a baby back rib so tender that you have no choice but to 'slap yo mama!'

I have to admit that I am not an official member of the 3 Bars Barbeque team, but my ribs and steaks have been taken on the road to multiple parts of Texas, and they've won contests in Memphis for their fall-off-the-bone tender texture and their "mmm mmm good" flavor. I can't really divulge my award winning recipe, but I can share my cooking method used to achieve that fall off the bone rib.

You've got to understand that smoking takes time. I generally allow one hour per pound on a nice rack of baby back ribs. In SoltLayer operations terms, for a 6lb rack of ribs, that means you'd have time to register a new domain name, provision a RHEL 5 Cloud Compute Instance, provision 2 dedicated database servers (1 in Dallas and 1 in San Jose), configure the CCI as a Web server, clone the CCI once in Dallas and once in San Jose, order eVault and add a second vault for redundancy, add local load balancing to both sites, use the previously registered domain name and set up Global Load balancing between the IPs of both local load balancers, setup rsync between web servers for one website and configure MySQL replication between your two new database servers (and you'd still have just enough time to configure the eVault backup that you ordered about 5.5 hours previously).

What were we talking about again? Oh yeah, I promised a "cooking method" lesson:

1. Get Your Ribs
Everyone dresses their meat differently ... Some prefer to marinate, some don't. I find that it doesn't make much of a difference, so I usually will remove my ribs from the fridge and rinse the before setting them aside to allow them to warm to room temperature. While that's happening, I continue the rest of the process.

2. Prepare the Pit
I like to use a smoker pit grill ... You know, something this:

3 Bars BBQ

I like to use split wood logs instead of flavored charcoal & wood chips. The wood you use is up to you; I usually do either hickory or mesquite and occasionally a log or two of apple (Beware that Mesquite burns very hot and is harder to stabilize at a consistent temperature when adding more wood to the fire later). Stack and light your fuel of choice in the smoker's firebox – the only place where you will have a fire ... The only thing that belongs in the pit is the meat and the smoke generated by the firebox.

Once you get your fire started, let it burn for a while so it can stabilize. You want the pit area to stay at a constant 225F ~ 250F. If you have enough prep time, you can also soak your wood logs for a couple of hours before you start your fire. This will cause the wood to burn slower and produce a slightly stronger smoke flavor in the ribs. This will also cut down on the amount of wood you "burn" through.

3. Prepare Your Ribs
While your fire is doing its thing and creating some good smoke, you can trim and season your ribs. Trim the membrane from the underside of the rack and season the meat with a dry rub (since it's better suited for longer cook times).

4. Start Cooking
Once your pit has stabilized at the perfect temperate, it's time to add the ribs. I use a rib rack just so I don't have to flip the ribs while they're in the pit, but if you don't have a rib rack, place your ribs on the opposite side of the pit from the firebox bone side down (you have to ensure that the fire doesn't reach your precious rack of ribs. If you are not using a rib rack, you will want to flip them about an hour and a half into cooking.

5. Keep Cooking
I use the 3–2–1 method when smoking: 3 hours on grill, remove the ribs, wrap them in foil, 2 hours on the grill in foil, remove the foil, and one more hour on the grill. By the time you get to that last hour, you'll already find it difficult to flip the ribs as the meat will start falling off the bone. If your seasoning is top notch, you won't need sauce, but the last hour is the time to baste if you want a different flavor in the mix. The 3–2–1 time frame is a loose guide to follow ... You'll need to keep an eye on the ribs to make sure they are not cooking too fast and that you're keeping the flame away from the meat, and you may need to adjust times if your temperature exceeds 250F.

6. Remove the Ribs
Remove your ribs from the pit and allow them to rest for about 15 minutes before your cut them. This break will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.

7. Enjoy!
No instructions necessary.

Following these rules, you'll have a great rack of ribs, and if you took time while the ribs were cooking to order and provision that solution I talked about at the top of the post, you'll have an amazing high-availability two-tier hosting solution by the time you take your first bite!

-Harold

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