Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hot Water Pastry Recipe

Yeah, my pie pretty much owns.

Hot water pastry was mentioned in this Leftover Pot-Pie recipe. Inspired by a discussion about baking ratios and receiving some leftover turkey and stock from Thanksgiving, I decided to refine the crust recipe and write it out more explicitly. This crust is more suited to hot savory pies than a regular flaky pie crust, and the hot water technique is much faster than cutting in cold butter. It's traditionally made from lard, but you can use shortening with some butter mixed in. I added a couple of tablespoons of bacon grease for flavor.

1 lb. all-purpose flour
1/2 lb. (scant) fat
1 c. half water, half milk
1 tsp. salt

The ratios are essentially 2 flour: 1 fat: 1 liquid, with salt. This recipe makes 1 very large double-crust pie. The dough will be cooked first at 450 for 15 minutes and then, when filled, at 350 for 1 hour.

Combine the milk, water, and fat in a saucepan and bring just to a boil. Allow to sit until the fat is fully melted. In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt.

Pour the hot liquid into the flour and salt and stir thoroughly with a wooden spoon until all ingredients are fully combined. Knead on a floured board a few times. Keep the dough warm as you're working so that it stays pliable.

Divide the dough into two parts, one slightly larger than the other. Roll out the larger piece to the desired thickness on parchment paper or a thick layer of flour. Place in your baking dish. Fill the crust with your filling and roll out the top layer. Add the top crust layer and crimp the edges with your fingers or a fork.

Let's see that from another angle. Mmmm.....

Pierce the top crust a few times and decorate, if desired. Brush with a beaten egg. Bake at 450 for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 and bake for 45 more minutes. Remove the pie and brush with egg again, and return the pie to the oven for 15 more minutes. If any parts begin to get too brown while baking, cover those parts with foil.

Allow the pie to rest 5 minutes before slicing.

Oh yeah, cut me a piece!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tonkatsu aka How to make a frozen cutlet into a nice meal

UPDATE! Here is an improved salad dressing recipe and a detailed description of making the cutlet from scratch. The dressing below is still good, but not quite as good as the miso style!

Technically tonkatsu is a breaded pork cutlet, but you can make chicken-katsu or veal-catsu or chickenmcnugget-katsu (as pictured). It's traditionally served as a full meal with rice, shredded cabbage, miso soup, and some pickles. The cutlet is generally sliced so that it can be eaten with chopsticks and dressed with Japanese-style Worcestershire sauce ('sosu').

I forgot to take a picture of rice, so don't forget to include it!

For the meal pictured I used salad with ginger vinaigrette instead of the cabbage. Here's how to put together the meal:

Make the Sosu:
1/2 c. catsup
1/4 c. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 c. rice wine
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. ginger, minced
1 Tbsp. garlic, minced

Combine all ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes.

Make some short-grained white rice. Place in a bowl before serving.

Salad with Ginger Vinaigrette:
If making a salad, combine lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, red onions, and daikon. Dress with:

1/4 c. rice vinegar
3 Tbsp. salad oil
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. light soy sauce
1 green onion, minced
1 Tbsp. ginger, minced
1/2 tsp white pepper

Bread and fry the cutlet any way you like, or just cook up some frozen ones. Slice into bite sized pieces before serving. You can top these with the sosu or leave it on the side. Here's a tonkatsu recipe if you're making it from scratch.

Miso Soup:
Make some miso soup. Add tofu and wakame seaweed if you like. Place into bowls and garnish with fresh green onions.

Slice a couple handfuls of cabbage very thin (if using individual leaves, roll them up tightly before slicing). Soak in cold water for 5 minutes, then drain well.

* * *

Arrange all the components attractively, or heck just put them on a plate. Cut up some pickles (such as the daikon takuan pictured) and put them on the side. Dig in!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Brats and Kraut in the Slow-cooker

This recipe isn't much different from Porky Kraut, but I thought I'd post it anyway, since it's a little faster (you don't have to cut up the meat) and more colorful, and it reminds us all to use our beloved slow-cookers.

~6 raw bratwurst
2 lbs. sauerkraut
1 large carrot
1 large turnip (optional)
1/4 c. white wine
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 pinch cayenne
2 bay leaves

Brown the brats in a pan. Place them in the slow-cooker. Use some water or broth to deglaze the pan and add that to the cooker.

Drain and rinse the kraut. If you like it zingy, only rinse it a little. Add to the cooker.

Grate the carrot and turnip (if using) and add to the cooker.

Stir in the spices and wine and add water so that the contents are 3/4 submerged. Cook all day. Serve with mashed or roasted potatoes.


Feel free to experiment with the spices. I add a mix I got from Penzey's called Krakow Nights. You can go the caraway route if you like that kind of thing.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Not Just Pumpkin Pie

This is a very simple variation on Pumpkin Pie, and it turns it into another fabulous Dessert for Breakfast item.

Preheat oven to 450. Using your favorite pumpkin pie recipe, substitute for the pumpkin a mixture of cooked yellow squash, sweet potatoes, and turnips. I increased the eggs by 2 as the mixture seemed a little watery.

I use Lillian's most fabulous pie crust recipe, which is around here somewhere I'm sure. Assemble pie and bake at 450 for 10 minutes, then at 350 for 45-50 minutes. It should be non-wiggly when you take it out. The surface will probably split when cooled. Mine made an interesting 4 pointed star shape. Delicious warm or cooled and a totally guilt-free snack or dessert.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Afghani Meat Sauce, Bulghur Pilaf with Spinach and Fried Onions, Yogurt Sauce

This meal is hearty, chock-full-of-nutrients, and fairly quick. The meat recipe is one I picked up along the way and the bulghur recipe is from the Almost Turkish blog. The yogurt sauce on the side is optional but it adds a nice balance to the meat. If you want to make the recipes separately, the meat sauce can be served over rice or macaroni, and the bulghur would make a nice side to any meat dish. Feel free to get creative with spices on the meat sauce--I used a seasoning mix from Morocco last time I made it.

Afghani Meat Sauce

1 1/2 lb. ground lamb or beef
1 medium onion, diced
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/2-3/4 c. hot water
2 tsp. salt, or to taste
1 Tbsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. black pepper
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, crushed
oil for cooking

If you have a pressure cooker, use it to cook the meat. If not, a regular frying pan with a lid will work.

Heat a little oil in the pan and add the meat. Break it up thoroughly while browning. Cook until excess moisture is gone. Add the onions and stir for 2-3 minutes. Add the spices and salt. Stir in the tomato paste so that it's completely distributed. Add enough water to keep the meat from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Pressure cook for 12 minutes, or simmer with the lid on for 20 minutes.

Add the crushed garlic and salt to taste and cook for 1-2 more minutes.

Yogurt Sauce

1/2 c. plain yogurt
1/4 c. water
1/2 tsp. salt
1 small clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp. dried mint
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1 pinch cayenne

Combine all ingredients and let sit for 5 minutes.

Bulghur Pilaf with Spinach and Fried Onions

1 1/2 c. coarse bulghur
1 box frozen spinach, squeezed out well OR 1 large fresh bunch, washed and chopped
1 large onion, sliced thin
5 Tbsp. olive oil
2 c. broth
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. allspice

Begin by caramelizing the onions in a large frying pan in 3 Tbsp. of olive oil, with a pinch of salt. Be patient! Keep cooking the onions while you make the pilaf until they are sweet and golden brown.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large saucepan with a tight fitting lid. Add the spinach and fry in the oil for 3-4 minutes. Add the spices, salt, broth, and bulghur and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the pan to sit for 5 more minutes.

Chop the browned onions and add them to the pilaf.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Beef with Kaffir Lime Leaf

This is one of those surprise recipes that emerged from what I had on hand and turned out both delicious and beautiful, much to my surprise. It's a hybrid of a few of my favorite Thai recipes. If you're able to find Kaffir lime leaf, you can keep it in the freezer and it still tastes great. In fact, many Asian groceries keep it in the freezer already. Thai basil is optional, but I had some on hand (if you leave it out, use more lime leaf).

1.5-2 lb. ground beef
4 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 hot Thai peppers, sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced (optional but pretty)
4-6 Kaffir lime leaves, julienned very finely
1 small handful Thai basil leaves, chopped (optional)
1tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
a couple of dollops of oyster sauce
4 green onions, cut into 1" pieces
oil for cooking

Brown the meat in a frying pan and break it up as finely as possible. (OR if you have a pressure cooker, cook it for 12 minutes--this makes it extra tender). Place a colander over a bowl and dump the meat into it, reserving the juices.

Add some oil or fat from the beef to the pan and heat it to medium-high. Add 3/4 of the garlic and chilies and fry them until they brown lightly, loosening any meat bits off the bottom of the pan.

Return the meat to the pan and add the salt, fish sauce, and oyster sauce, red peppers, and lime leaves, and stir over medium-high for 2-3 minutes. If there's not enough liquid, add back in some meat drippings.

Stir in the Thai basil and green onion and and remaining garlic, adding more oyster sauce if necessary to season. Cook for 1-2 more minutes. Serve over rice.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Lion's Head Meatball Soup

This soup gets its name from the dubious observation that the meatballs look like a lion's face and the greens look like its mane. I don't see it, but it's a pretty badass name. It's also a pretty badass soup and easy to make. I based my recipe on this one at Melting Wok, which includes Spam in the meatballs. This is optional, but highly recommended, as it gives a nice texture and smoky flavor. You can use various greens in the soup. Napa cabbage is traditional, but you can also use mustard greens or baby bok choy.

1 lb. lean ground pork
1 can Spam
1 egg
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 shiitake mushrooms, chopped very fine
1-2 Tbsp. ginger, minced
2 tsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsp. oyster sauce
3 green onions, minced
1 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. Chinese cooking wine or dry sherry

Combine all ingredients, making sure to break up the Spam completely. Form into meatballs and set aside. Traditionally these are served with one giant meatball in each bowl, but I think it's easier to eat if you make them as smaller meatballs.

2 qt. water or broth
1 large handful Chinese or regular celery, chopped
2 large handfuls of leafy greens or Napa cabbage, slivered if necessary
1/2 red onion, in thin slivers
2 green onions, sliced into rounds for garnish
1 Tbsp. light vinegar
1-2 tsp. dashi granules

Bring the water or broth to a boil and add the dashi granules to make a flavorful broth. Add the meatballs gently so that they don't break apart or stick to the bottom of the pot and simmer them for 8-10 minutes (smaller meatballs need less time).

Add the celery and simmer for 5 more minutes. Add the red onion and leafy greens and simmer for 2-3 more minutes until the greens are just cooked. Add the vinegar and adjust the seasoning with more salt, if necessary. Garnish with green onions and serve. You can also add noodles if you like.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Dark Beer Bread

So the Great Dane Pub in Madison, Wisconsin, has amazing beer, but also amazing beer bread. It's dark, moist and delicious. I've been wanting to figure out how to make something like it for a while, and finally realized it's a bit like a Russian black bread. This was my first attempt to make it. I think what I needed was a different variety of beer (I used Leinie's Oktoberfest, which is all I had around, which was a bit too hoppy/bitter - their menus says they use a stout combined with a light beer, but anything dark with good carmel flavor would be good).

I've adapted the recipe from here.

1/2 c. water
1 c. dark carmely beer (stouts are probably best here - best if room temp)
1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
2-3 Tbsp. molasses (you can substitute 1 Tbsp. brown sugar here for crispier crust)
1.5 tsp. yeast

2.5 c. bread flour
1 c. rye flour
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
2 Tbsp. butter (room temp)
1 tsp. instant coffee crystals (optional - or use a coffee porter for the beer)
1 Tbsp. caraway seed (optional)
1 tsp. fennel seeds (optional)

1. Mix 1/2 c. warm water with yeast and 1 Tbsp molasses. Let proof.
2. Mix flour, butter, cocoa powder, salt and seeds together.
3. Add water-yeast mixture, beer, and remaining 2 Tbsp molasses to the flour, combine.
4. Knead bread on floured surface until springy.
5. Rise 1 hour, punch down, rise until doubled, punch down, remove, knead briefly (5-6 kneads), shape into a round then let rise 20 minutes. Cut SMALL slits in the top to allow steam to release. You can reduce the rising as time allows.
6. Bake at 350 for 30-45 min.

You can serve this with just butter, though at the Great Dane they serve it with butter creamed with honey. It is as good as it sounds...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mashed Cauliflower and Potatoes

Not a recipe so much as a suggestion. Replace half of your potatoes with cauliflower when you're making mash for more flavor, texture, and a less heavy meal. Here it is in recipe form:

2 lbs starchy potatoes
1 large cauliflower head, cut into pieces
lots of salt
4 Tbsp butter
1/3 c. milk or cream
freshly ground black pepper
(optional seasonings include: paprika, roasted garlic, seasoned salt, etc...)

Peel and boil the potatoes in a large pot of well-salted water as you normally would for making mashed potatoes, but add enough water so that there's space for the cauliflower. Add the califlower 5-7 minutes before the potatoes will be done and continue boiling. Drain and mash with the remaining ingredients, season to taste.

African Gumbo with Squash

I just returned from Ithaca and my thesis defense (I passed!), so hopefully I will be able to get back to cookin' and postin'. While I was there I stayed with my wonderful friend Chris. He spent time in Niger in the Peace Corps, where he learned (among other things) how to cook the various goopy glops of the local cuisine. Here is one such recipe, using okra and squash, which is very hearty and satisfying. The ingredients are flexible, but the okra is important for thickening. Chris also recommends adding a pinch of sand or goat dung for that authentic, gritty touch (optional!).

1 onion, diced
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 c. winter squash, cut into thin slices
2-4 c. okra, chopped (frozen works fine)
2-3 c. boiling water
1 Maggi or other boullion cubes
2-3 fresh hot peppers (jalapenos or hotter), chopped
salt to taste
dash of Maggi sauce or soy sauce
oil for cooking

Use an iron cauldron or dutch oven. Heat the oil and add the onions, cooking until they begin to soften and brown. Add the tomato paste and stir thoroughly so that it is well-distributed and begins to sizzle.

Add the squash pieces and spread them across the bottom of the pan. Add some hot water as they cook to keep them from sticking, and stir occasionally. When they are mostly soft, add the okra and the Maggi boullion, dissolved in 2 c. hot water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer until the squash and okra begin to break down.

Using a potato masher or immersible blender, smash up the vegetables so that they are a slightly chunky puree. Add more water if it becomes too thick. Stir in the fresh peppers and simmer until they begin to soften. Season with salt and Maggi sauce or soy sauce.

One way to serve this is over rice that has been cooked into a semi-soft state and formed into balls. Simply boil all-purpose rice in a little more water than usual and stir it while boiling so that it forms a very thick porridge. Scoop with a spoon into a plate and pour the okra sauce over. We sprinkled it with crushed, roasted peanuts. Feel free to improvise with the recipe, too! I think that black eyed-peas or chicken could be added for more protein, to make it a one-dish meal.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Chicken Adobo

It's our 200th recipe! (Or at least the 200th post). Things have slowed down a bit since our family doesn't have as much free time at the moment, but I think that with the winter weather the blog posts will pick up again. Here's an easy, flavorful, and inexpensive recipe that deserves to be part of our family's canon.

This is Filipino dish based on soy- and vinegar- and garlic-marinated meat (not the Mexican seasoning blend also known as 'adobo'). You can use any meat you like and it works especially well with cheaper cuts, like chicken leg pieces or pork shoulder. You can also alter your technique for how much time and patience you have--it's kind of like choose-your-own-adventure.

3-4 lbs of meat (bone-in chicken or pork chunks work well)
1 c. light soy sauce
1/2-1 c. water
1/2 c. white vinegar
1 entire BULB garlic, chopped
3 bay leaves
2 Tbsp. ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. salt

Combine all the ingredients in a shallow dish. If the marinade doesn't seem like enough to come up about half-way on the meat, increase the recipe. Cover and marinate the meat overnight, turning the meat from time to time so that it soaks up the marinade all over. You can actually skip the overnight marination if you're pressed for time and simply simmer the meat in the mixture, but it will turn out better if you marinate and then follow the next steps.
Skinless chicken legs marinating.

Place the meat in a pot or large saucepan and add all of the marinade, but strain out the garlic and reserve it for later use. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for 25 minutes or until the meat is tender. Leave the pot uncovered so that it reduces some, but add water if it gets too low. You want to have at least 1 c. sauce. You can eat the meat at this point, or continue on for more deliciousness.

In a large frying pan or wok, heat 2-3 Tbsp of cooking oil. Add the garlic that you retained from the marinade and cook it, stirring, until it's lightly browned. Increase the heat and add the meat, cooking and turning it so that it gets browned and crisp on the edges. Add the remaining marinade to heat it through.

Serve with white rice and something green and zingy like a cucumber or papaya salad.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Baking Powder Dumplings

This is Mom's standard dumpling recipe, excellent with chicken soup. Drop them in, put the lid on, and enjoy.

2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 scant cup milk or water

Mix the dry ingredients, stir in the milk or water gradually to make a soft dough. Drop by spoonful into boiling salted water or simmering stew. Cover tightly, cook 10-15 minutes before lifting cover. Test for doneness, drain. Serve at once. Well, once they cool off so you don't burn your tongue.

PS - This is post 199! Hope someone does something special for #200!


Friday, September 11, 2009

Harried Mom Style Chili

I recall making this very simple recipe many times as a young'un, when Mom was really busy working and herding us kids around. It was a bit of a standard, along with noodle kugel, that was easy enough for kids to make (and explains why it is not quite as complicated most of the recipes on this blog.) I just made it now, and remembered why it was great - you can go from zero to dinner in about half an hour.

It's a bit of an operation ice box recipe - you use more or less the cans you have around, and you can replace some of the ingredients. I'm just giving a basic idea below. It always turns out deliciously, but I'm sure you could do some other things to make it even more delicious (add pork products, beer, etc).


1 onion
1 green bell pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 pound ground beef (optional for vegetarian style)
2 cans stewed tomatoes (not drained of liquid)
2 cans beans (one should be chili beans, but you could have black beans as well) (don't drain these)
1 can corn or hominy (drained of liquid - optional)
1 can black olives (optional - drained of liquid)
2 Tbsp chili powder
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1-2 tsp cumin
1-2 tsp coriander
shake or two of Worcester or fish sauce

Sautee onions and garlic in oil, then once onions become partially transparent add green pepper. When both are somewhat soft, add meat, brown. Add spices.

Add all of the cans - tomatoes and beans should be added WITH their liquid, i.e. not drained. This provides the soupy part of the chili. Cook to combine (10-15 minutes), adjusting spices.

Serve with cheese on top if that's your thing, preferably with corn bread on the side.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Carrot Salad with Raisins

I sort of invented this salad tonight, but I feel like I may have had something very similar before. It's very refreshing and light. All ingredients below are approximate and should be adjusted to taste. I gave the measurements for the dressing just for an idea of proportions.

Carrots, grated
Raisins, blanched and cooled
(Optional) walnuts, crushed slightly

Add dressing:
1 lemon
1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp salad oil or light olive oil
a bit of pomegranate molasses (or balsamic vinegar and some brown sugar)
a very tiny pinch of ground cloves
a small amount of pepper


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Omelet Fillings

So I was making omelets the other day, and I was thinking it might be fun to have a list of interesting omelet fillings, for those days when you want to try something new. Since I can't figure out how to let us all edit this post, we should add more ideas in the comments.

Tomatoes with Browned Garlic, Mozzarella, Parmesan and Basil:
Dice tomatoes, garlic, and optionally green onions. Brown garlic in olive oil, add green onions briefly, then add tomatoes - remove from heat, but keep stirring. Add the mix to the omelets with mozzarella, Parmesan and fresh basil leaves.

Mushrooms in Wine, with Basil and Rosemary:

Cut mushrooms into small chunks (I liked to leave them a little chunky). Brown in lots of butter (again, optional green onions), salt, add white wine. Cook down. Add basil and rosemary to the eggs. You could do this with or without cheese. I think I used Parmesan, cause that's what I had.

Mix za3tar spice mix with olive oil until it makes a liquidy paste, then add to the omelet. It is also good with some green olives.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Moroccan Bread

This is a recipe for the basic bread used in Morocco in the same way flatbread is used in the eastern Mediterranean, i.e. to pick up food items, especially from very liquid dishes such as tajines. It's a somewhat trickier technique - you want to get larger pieces that are flatter than the loaf as a whole, so I generally take a piece from the top or bottom. It's also traditional to score it with a cross on the top so it can be easily torn into 4 pieces.

This recipe is based mostly on the one from here

This recipe calls for a bit of wheat flour, but you can make it only with white if you want:
* 2 cups whole wheat flour (I think it would be better to use less of this, so it's not a 1-2 ratio)
* 2 cups white flour
* 2 teaspoons salt
* 1 tablespoon yeast
* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 1 or 2 tablespoons honey
* 1 1/4 cup warm water
* additional flour for kneading
* Optional: 2 tsp. anise seeds
* Optional: 2 tsp sesame seeds
* cornmeal, semolina , barley grits or oil for the pan (I used cream of wheat, since that's what I had)

1. Proof yeast in water with honey, add to flour sifted with salt. Mix, knead until smooth and elastic.

2. Divide into 2-3 loaves (I did 3). Shape into rounds, let rest 10 minutes until a damn towel.

3. Dust the pan you plan to cook them on with some sort of gritty grain meal. This helps them get the right crusty outside, and keeps them from sticking. I like to get this on both sides personally.

4. Flatten rounds until .25-.5" thick. Let rise until dough springs back when pressed lightly.

5. Bake around 20 minutes at 435, rotating pans. They're done when they sound hollow.

6. To serve, score with a cross shape and break into 4.

Bastilla بسطيلة

Bastilla or Pastilla (pronounced "ba-still-a" in Arabic) is sort of the national dish of Morocco. It's a sweet-savory pastry - some people are put off by the idea of powdered sugar on a savory pastry, but it's much much more delicious than it sounds.

This is a complicated recipe, but it's good if you want something fancy for a party that's sure to impress.

One thing that you MUST remember is to thaw the phyllo dough before you do this. There should be instructions on how to do so on the package. We had some success using a short trip to the nuke, but it's better to think ahead.


Phyllo dough
1 small chicken (4# or so)
5 medium onions, diced
Butter, melted for the phyllo dough.
Dried Safflower for color (or a small amount of turmeric)
1 bunch parsley, minced (I recommend a food processor for that)
8 eggs (+ 1 yolk)
1# blanched peeled almonds
Lots of powdered sugar
Rosewater (optional if you really don't like it - you can use orange blossom water also)

1. Sautee onions in oil for a little while, then add 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, salt, small amount of coloring agent (safflower or turmeric), and a pinch of saffron. Stir, then add the chicken, and brown it a bit. Five minutes before your done cooking the onions, add the parsley. Add enough water to cook the chicken, but you're going to have to cooking it away, so err on the side of too little water. Cover chicken and cook on low for about 30 minutes or so, until the flesh comes away from the bone easily.

This turned out to be about the right amount of liquid, though it still took a while for it to reduce in the next step:

2. Remove the chicken from the broth, and allow to cool so you can strip off the meet later. Leave the broth on a low flame, and crack in the 8 eggs. You do not need to beat them first- just slowly move them around in the broth, so there are white and yellow chunks as they cook. Now you are going to reduce the broth-egg mixture until it is more or less dry.

Here it is halfway through the reducing process:

And at the end:

Set the mixture aside.

3. Fry the almonds in oil in batches, until nicely browned. If you over-brown one batch, under-brown the next one so it evens out. The almonds in this picture may be a bit too browned, but the batch that's hiding under them is a bit whiter:

Once they have cooled, stick them in a food processor with 1-1.5 c. of sugar (we are not sure how to translate the kinds of sugar, so we used powdered sugar, but normal sugar is probably fine) and 1-2 Tbsp. of rose-water (it sounds like a lot, but it's not too overpowering)

4. If you haven't done so yet, pick the chicken clean and shred the meat. Pour 1-2 Tbsp of the oil from the almonds into the chicken meat.

5. You are now ready to assemble the pie. Get the phyllo dough out, and put one sheet, folded over, into the bottom of a pie pan. Baste with melted butter. Put four more sheets, also folded over, so that they go over the sides but overlap in the center. Baste all with melted butter.

Put the onion-egg mixture down first in a layer, then the chicken, then most of the almond mixture (reserve some if you like for the top), so you have three distinct layers.

Here's the onion-egg layer, and you can see the phyllo configuration. It might have been a thicker variety, so maybe I didn't need to double fold the sheets, but it's up to you:

Once you have added all the layers, fold in the phyllo dough and baste with butter. Add another piece of phyllo to cover and make everything pretty. Tuck it into the sides. Baste the top with butter and an egg yolk.

Bake at 350 until the top is browned (around 30 minutes)

When you remove it from the oven, it'll look like this:

It is traditional to spread about 2 Tbsp honey on the top, then decorate it with powdered sugar and cinnamon and some of the nuts. This was my attempt to show some school spirit with a longhorn pattern (rather indistinct):

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Wild Rice-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

This recipe is for 6 chicken breast halves, which will make good planned-overs, but you can scale it back for 2-4 breasts.

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1 large onion, minced
2 ribs celery, minced
2 medium carrots, minced
3 c. cooked wild rice
10 mushrooms, chopped (optional)
1/4 c. roasted sunflower seeds (optional)
4 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. rosemary
1/2 tsp. sage
2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
additional salt and pepper

1 can Cream of Something soup
1 can milk or water
1/4 c. dry sherry or vermouth

Pat the breasts dry with paper towels. Preheat the oven to 350.

In a skillet, cook the onions, celery, and carrots in 2 Tbsp. butter until the onions are translucent and begin to brown. If you are using mushrooms, add them and cook them until tender. Add the seasonings and cook 1 minute. Stir in the wild rice and sunflower seeds (if using) until it is well combined with the other ingredients. Check the seasonings and then allow the stuffing to cool enough to handle.

Use a thin, sharp knife to cut a pocket inside the chicken breast, with the entry hole at the top of the breast. Take care not to cut a pocket in your hand. Alternatively, you can butterfly the breast and wrap it around the stuffing.

Stuff the breasts. If you wind up making some extra holes, it's OK--just stuff them as best you can. Sprinkle the breasts with salt and pepper.

In a frying pan or a stove-top safe roasting pan, heat the remaining butter to medium-high. Fry each breast briefly, doing your best to keep the guts inside (it will still taste good). Place the breasts in the roasting pan and surround them with any remaining stuffing.

Mix the cream soup with the milk and sherry (this is easiest if you heat it in the microwave). Pour it over the breasts and wiggle them around a bit so that the soup mixture coats the bottom of the pan. Place in the oven, uncovered, and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the breasts reach 155 in the center. Remove from the oven and allow them to rest 5 minutes. Serve with gravy spooned over, green veggies and cranberry sauce.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Pig face: slow-cooked bonus!

While I was trying new things with new ingredients I figured I'd go for what is often mentioned amongst foodies in a hushed, reverent whisper: pig cheeks, especially smoked. So, pig face #2, rather than being rolled up with seasonings, was butchered into its constituent parts.

I only have a humble Weber sphere grill, so smoking means placing a big pan of boiling water underneath the meat and continually feeding wood chips to the fire which is off to the side. Here is a pretty good setup which is far more sophisticated than what I used, using only tinfoil. I will not attempt here to give a thorough overview of smoking meat on a grill, when so many already exist online.

Long story short, pig cheeks are not unlike a very fatty bacon in their composition, and are delicious.

Dip them in BBQ sauce and enjoy.

Pig head: Part 2

Continued from here

After curing the face overnight, cooking time arrived. I rolled the face up, resulting in this somewhat grim device:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


A standard of Tex-Mex cuisine, migas are a great way to use up old, stale corn tortillas. The ingredients are mostly up to you, but this is sort of the standard:

Old corn tortillas, cut into squares
Onion, minced
Bell peppers, diced (this is optional, but I like it)
Jalapenos (if you don't like this too hot, use pickled jalapenos, they're not normally too hot)
Tomatoes or chunky salsa
Cheese (cheddar, pepper jack,whatever)

Saute tortillas in some oil until they get a bit more transparent (they're gonna get cooked a lot more, so don't overdo it too much), then add onions and cook until halfway to transparent, then add peppers. I like to add some of the cilantro here. When everything's pretty well cooked, add tomatoes or salsa, cook for a bit. Eggs should be beaten with s&p, cilantro and some milk if possible. Pour eggs over everything, stir, and towards then end add cheese. I like to brown the whole mass a bit.

Serve with lots of salsa on top. Traditionally you're given even more tortillas to eat this with, but I prefer a fork.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Orange Blossom Jam Thumbprints - Cookie Variation

I wasn't sure if we needed another refrigerator cookie recipe posted, since mom posted her Jam Thumbprints recently. But, as you can see, the cookies look quite different and the recipes also differ substantially. I got mine from The Joy of Cooking. Since it's a refrigerator dough, chilling it for several hours is key, so plan ahead. My variation on it was using Orange Blossom Water instead of vanilla, which mingled nicely with the black raspberry jam (you could also use rose water). The basic dough can be used for all kinds of different cookies.

1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp. orange blossom water
1/4 tsp. (seriously, just a tiny drop) vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/2 c. sifted AP flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
~1/4 c. jam
powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375.

Cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the orange blossom water, vanilla, and eggs. Sift the dry ingredients together and mix in thoroughly. The dough should be stiff and only slightly sticky. Roll it into a 2 1/2" wide log and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours. If you like, you can freeze half of it for later use.

Dust the counter with powdered sugar to keep the dough from sticking. Cut the log lengthwise into quarters. Cut the quarters cross-wise at 1" intervals. Roll each piece into a ball and place onto a greased cookie sheet. These cookies don't spread out too much, so they only need ~1" between them.

Place the jam into a plastic baggie and squeeze the jam into one corner. Snip a tiny (<1/4") piece off of the corner to make a hole for piping.

Bake the cookies for 5 minutes and remove from the oven. Using your finger, protected by a thimble if you prefer, gently poke a deep well into each of the cookies. Squeeze a small amount of jam into each well from the corner of the plastic bag. Fill the holes, but don't over-fill them (so that the jam doesn't bubble out later).

Return the pan to the oven and bake for 3-5 more minutes. Make sure that the bottoms don't burn. Remove and cool on a rack.

Szechuan Rice Noodles

This recipe was an improvised fusion between Szechuan spices, Korean japchae technique, and some rice noodles I had sitting around. I raided my cupboard and crisper for the ingredients and came up with deliciousness. It's another dish that uses Chili Black Bean Sauce, like Ma Po Tofu. (Amusingly, the last post in the blog features chilis and black beans, but in a completely different way).

It's a true stir-fry, with each ingredient cooked separately and removed from the pan, so be prepared with a nice slotted spoon or 'spider'. In the end the ingredients are combined in a large bowl (pick one that you can cover with some kind of lid to keep things warm), so you don't have to worry about fitting the noodles into your wok or frying pan.

1 quart rice noodles, soaked in hot water until tender
1 lb protein, cubed (I used tofu)
2 c. stir-fry vegetables, cut into small pieces or slivers, such as:
  • carrots
  • blanched greens
  • onions
1.4 c. water
3 Tbsp. chili black bean sauce
3 Tbsp. light soy sauce
2 Tbsp. mirin or cooking wine
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. sesame oil
-->combine the above seasonings into a sauce

3 green onions, slivered
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp ginger, grated
-->combine green onions, garlic, and ginger in a small bowl

1 egg per serving
oil for frying

Heat 2-3 Tbsp oil in a large frying pan or wok until very hot. Add 1/3 of the ginger/green onion combo bowl. Stir for 30 seconds. Add the cubed meat or tofu and sprinkle with a little salt. Cook over high until the edges are crisped and the meat is almost cooked through. Add a dash of the seasoning sauce and cook for 30 more seconds. Remove from pan into large bowl and cover.

Repeat the process with each vegetable individually: start with oil and garlic/ginger/green onion. Cook briefly over high and add a little sauce. Remove to bowl and keep warm. You should finish with half of the sauce left over.

If the noodles have cooled, run them under hot water until they warm up and loosen. Drain and add the to the bowl. Toss with the remaining sauce. Serve with a crisp fried egg on top.

Chili Black Beans with Roasted Brown Rice

I say: you can never have too many bean recipes! They're cheap, filling, flavorful, and, um...euphonious. This one is enhanced by serving it with brown rice that has been roasted, to release the nutty flavor. Some hearty avocado slices make a nice addition too. This is based off a Whole Foods (gasp!) recipe.

I have discovered that I only like brown rice if it has been cooked for a very long time, which is not possible on the stovetop without scorching. I use the 'brown rice' setting on my rice cooker, but you can accomplish the same thing by cooking it for an hour in a very slow oven.

Roasted Brown Rice, oven style

2 c. brown rice
4 c. water
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat the oven to 225. Heat the rice on the stovetop in a Dutch oven, stirring constantly until it is lightly roasted. Add the water and salt and bring to a boil. Put the lid on and place the pot in the oven for one hour. Fluff before serving.

Chili Black Beans

1 lb. black beans, soaked overnight
1 large ham hock (or smoked turkey hock)
2 Tbsp. oil or bacon fat
1 large onion, diced
1 red or green bell pepper, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. back pepper
1 can diced tomatoes (including liquid)
water to cover
1-2 Tbsp. salt
1 c. chopped cilantro
avocado slices for garnish
lime or orange wedges for garnish

Preheat oven to 300 if using oven instead of pressure cooker.

Cook the onion and peppers in the fat until they begin to soften. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and black pepper and stir in. Add the ham hock, black beans, diced tomatoes, and cover with water. Bring to a boil and pressure cook for 25 minutes, or place in oven for 2 hrs. Remove ham hock, slice meat off and add back to pot. Check bean texture and cook longer if need be. Salt to taste and stir in fresh cilantro. Serve with avocado wedges and orange slices.

Shepherd's Pie

What would our family's cool-weather menu line-up be without Shepherd's Pie? Thank you, Tina! Over the years I've found that it turns out best if you use a combination of ground beef and lamb and make sure to use lots of meat, so you don't wind up with too much potato on top. I like to season the meat well so that it stands up to the potatoes.

2-3 lbs. ground meat, ideally beef and lamb
4-5 strips bacon, cooked and chopped into small pieces (optional)
2-3 lbs. potatoes, made into mashed potatoes using your usual approach
1 large onion, diced small
2 stalks celery, diced small
1 can beef broth
3 Tbsp. dry sherry or vermouth (optional)
1 c. frozen peas
2 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. ketchup
1 Tbsp. ground yellow mustard
1 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. marjoram (optional)
sprinkling of paprika

Preheat the oven to 350.

Cook the bacon in a large frying pan, then remove it and chop it into small pieces. Brown the meat in the remaining fat. (I like to cook it fir 15 minutes in the pressure cooker for extra tenderness).

Add the onions and celery and cook until they begin to soften.

Add the mustard powder, thyme, black pepper, marjoram, and flour, and stir so that they're well-distributed throughout the meat. Increase the heat and cook for 2-3 minutes, so that the flour begins to brown a little.

Add the broth, dry sherry, Worcestershire sauce, and ketchup, and simmer, scraping any crusty bits off the bottom of the pan, until the gravy thickens. If it doesn't thicken enough, add a spoonful of mashed potato. Stir the peas and chopped bacon into the meat and gravy.

Place pour the meat and gravy into a greased casserole. Top with mashed potatoes, texture the potatoes with a fork, and sprinkle with paprika.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the gravy is bubbling, the entire dish is piping hot, and the top is browned.

Kielbasa and Peppers Skillet

I always keep a turkey kielbasa on hand for weeknight desperation dinners. The turkey kielbasa aren't as greasy as the regular ones, and they keep forever in the fridge or freezer. This recipe is more to serve as inspiration than as something to follow in great detail. You can add the noodles to the pan or serve them separately. I have also used potatoes or pierogies as a starchy substrate. For veggies just use what you have on hand. Adding fresh herbs at the end is a nice touch if you have some on hand.

1 turkey kielbasa, sliced
2-3 c. veggies, in this case: colorful bell peppers, sliced
1/2 lb. pasta, potatoes, or pierogies, cooked
1 c. broth (any kind)
2 Tbsp. cornstarch or potato starch
2-4 tsp. spices, in this case: sage, red pepper flakes, and and white pepper
1 handful fresh herbs, chopped (optional)
oil for cooking

Heat 2-3 Tbsp. oil in the skillet. Cook the noodles (or potatoes or pierogies) on medium high, tossing frequently, until the edges are crisp and browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.

If needed, add more oil to the skillet. Cook the kielbasa slices, stirring, until they begin to brown at the edges. Move the kielbasa toward the edges of the pan and add the veggies and spices. Cook until the veggies are tender, tossing gently while cooking. Add small amounts of broth, if necessary.

Mix the remaining broth with the cornstarch. Add the pasta/potatoes/pierogies back to the pan. Add the broth and starch mixture, tossing the contents of the pan to combine, and simmering so that the sauce thickens. Add the fresh herbs and adjust the seasonings if necessary.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Palak Paneer, Aloo Gobi (Spiced Cauliflower), and Cumin Rice

This combination of dishes makes a nice meal and great leftovers. I like to use paneer when I can get it easily, but the recipe works well with firm tofu or even chicken (though then I guess it's a different dish). These recipes are based around Manjula's Kitchen, though I altered them a little to avoid hard-to-find ingredients. Check out the videos if you want step-by-step instructions or more recipe ideas.

My most recent attempt. I didn't have cilantro to add to the aloo gobi, but it's still delicious without it.

Palak Paneer

1 1/2-2 c. paneer, cubed (or extra-firm tofu, cubed and patted dry)
1 box frozen spinach, thawed, drained well, and chopped
2-3 plum tomatoes, pureed, or 1/2 can tomato puree
2 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp. salt
2 tsp. whole cumin seed
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. cayenne
3 Tbsp. flour
1/4 c. water + more water
1/2 c. heavy cream or half and half
2 Tbsp. butter
oil for frying
tomato slices for garnish

Fry the paneer or tofu in a moderate amount of oil, so that the cubes seal and begin to turn slightly golden brown and crisp on the edges. Drain and set aside.

In a deep saute pan, heat up 2 Tbsp. oil until quite hot. Add the ginger and garlic and stir for a few seconds until it begins to brown. Add the remaining spices and stir for a few more moments (but don't let them burn). Add the tomato puree to the pan and bring it to a brisk simmer for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until the liquid is reduced and the mixture is thick.

Add the spinach,~1/2 c. water, and salt. Combine the 1/4 c. water with the flour to make a slurry. Add to the pan and stir, simmering until the mixture thickens.

Gently fold in the paneer and butter and heat until the paneer is warmed through and the butter is melted. Adjust the salt level. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the heavy cream. Serve with tomato slices on top (they really make it good!).

Aloo Gobi

1 cauliflower, cut into large florets
2-3 medium red potatoes, cut into ~6 wedges each
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger
3 Tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/4 c. water + 1/2 c. water
1-2 jalapenos, seeded and slivered
2 bay leaves
2 Tsp. whole cumin seeds
2 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. tamarind sauce (or 2 Tbsp. lemon juice)
1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro

Heat the butter over medium in a large pot with a lid, until it just begins to brown. Mix the ginger, coriander, turmeric, and cayenne together in 1/4 c. water. Pour the spice + water mixture into the hot butter and stir as the spices sizzle and get fragrant.

Add the jalapeno slices, bay leaves, and cumin seeds and stir for a few seconds, as the jalapenos cook.

Add the cauliflower, potatoes, salt, and 1/4 c. water and toss gently to combine. Bring to a simmer and put the lid on, cooking for 7-8 minutes. Check the tenderness of the vegetables, stir gently, and add more water if necessary. Return to a simmer and cook until they are the desired texture.

Stir in the tamarind sauce (thinned in water if need be) and sugar and taste. Adjust seasonings if necessary. At the end, toss with fresh cilantro.

Cumin Rice

2 c. jasmine rice
adequate water
2 Tbsp. butter
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. whole cumin seeds

Cook the rice as you normally do, but with butter, salt, and cumin seeds

Looks like I made this months ago, took pictures, but never added the recipe :-P. You can see I added peas to the palak paneer (making it palak muttar paneer?). I also made the paneer from scratch. The rice is just plain jasmine rice.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Moroccan style cucumber and tomato salad

This is a favorite of Melanie's and is definitely an example of something that is greater than the sum of its parts:
Cucumbers, skinned and diced
Tomatoes, skinned, de-seeded and diced as well
White vinegar
Vegetable oil

Combine. Enjoy.

Magidow style cucumber salad

Here is our classic summer barbecue cucumber salad recipe. The recipe is pretty approximate, but here goes:
Cucumbers, peeled, and slices into rounds
White onion, chopped into 1.5" or so long chunks.
Sour Cream

Sprinkle a large amount of salt on the cucumbers and onions, let them sit for a little while, then add sour cream, and possibly more salt, and pepper. Let sit for a couple hours for best results. Use more salt than you think.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Pig head, part 1

Watching lots of Anthony Bourdain will definitely give you a hankering for some odd cuts, so here's the first in what will hopefully be a series of snout-to-tail classics.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Chicken Kabsa كبسة دجاج

Kabsa is a Gulf/Saudi recipe, yet another variation of meat and rice, but it's pretty damn tasty. Wikipedia has an entry on it, for further background information.

The quantities were pretty approximate, so take them with a grain of salt.

Chicken pieces (I used two giant breasts, but I think it would be better to use a breast and a couple thighs)
Large Onion, cut into thin slices

5 or so garlic cloves
1 can pureed tomatoes
2 medium tomatoes
2 medium carrots, grated
Grated peel of 1/2 orange and 1/2 lemon, OR 2 black/dried lemons
2-4 whole cloves
2-3 whole cardamom pods (or 1/2 tsp ground)
1-2 cinnamon sticks
Pinch saffron
Pinch cayenne pepper
Black peppercorns

3 c. liquid (water or broth)
1.5 c. rice (preferably basmati)

Raisins (option) and slivered almonds and/or pine nuts (optional, but much better with) for decoration.

1. Sautee the onions until they start to carmelize, then add chicken pieces and brown. Add tomatoes, cook for 1 minute.
2. Add 3 cups liquid, and all the spices and vegies. Cover and cook 30 minutes.
3. Remove chicken from the liquid. Roast rice briefly till some of the kernels turn a more opaque white. Add rice to liquid, cover and cook for about 20 minutes.
4. Before the rice finishes, stick the chicken in the broiler until it crispifies a bit.
5. Soak the raisins in warm water a bit, and you can optionally fry them lightly. Put all the rice and chicken on a large plate, then sprinkle with raisins and nuts.
6. Serve with yogurt on the side to put on top if you like. American yogurt tends to be a bit too thick, so I recommend diluting it a bit with water.

The version in the picture below used tomato paste instead of canned, pureed tomatoes. In an ideal world, it would be best to use fresh tomatoes I think. Basically it should be a bit more yellow and less red than it turned out.

Mmmmm...cookie dough!

Had a hankering the other day for some cookies. Since I am wheat intolerant, I can't just reach up into the cupboard and raid Jeff's, so it takes some thought and planning. I found a recipe in the King Arthur Flour Cookbook that makes enough for 3 batches of refrigerated dough. I substituted spelt flour for the wheat flour and it worked just fine. Refrigerating the dough ripens it, which means that it changes its nature to make cookies that are thin and crisp rather than thick and chewy. These cookies are best made small.

The beauty part of this scheme is that you can cook a batch on three separate nights, and add different flair to each batch. They are all baked at 400 degrees for 8 minutes. The first batch I just did was plain;I sliced pieces off from the roll of dough and baked them. They were very good, and excellent vehicles for milk-dipping behavior. (I think I made them too big, as they were thick and chewy). The second batch is fabulous - I pinched off pieces, rolled them in between my hands, put them on the cookie sheet, and pressed my thumb into each one. Into the dent I put chocolate buttons, rhubarb jam, and peach spread. Well, not all at the same time. Here is the recipe:

Basic Refrigerator Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter (at room temp)
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs

In large bowl, cream butter and sugars together until light; add vanilla and eggs and beat until fluffy.

4 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup milk

Combine dry ingredients. Add about 1 cup to butter mixture. Blend in milk and the remaining dry ingredients. It will be thick and sticky and get all over everything.

Plop about 1/3 of the dough along one edge of a piece of waxed paper. Roll up into a tube-like shape. Cover in plastic wrap to keep from drying out. Continue until all dough is rolled up.
Refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours, or for several days.

Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 400 for 8 minutes. Slide onto a cooling rack right away.

I think the next batch will be made like a jelly roll and then sliced and baked. Sounds pretty!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Thin Crust Pizza

Edit: I just re-tested this recipe 9 (!) years later and made a few changes:

There's a time for thick, doughy pizzas and a time for thin, crispy pizzas. This is for when you have a hankering for the latter. It takes some forethought, since the dough rises overnight in the fridge, but is well worth the patience and planning. I got the dough recipe from this site and it works great if you follow the recipe just the way it's written (makes 2 pizzas). The sauce recipe is my own.

The day before:

1 lb. high protein unbleached white flour (ie bread flour)
3/4 c. warm water (or more*)
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp. dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt

Combine all the ingredients and mix by hand or with a stand mixer. The dough will be extremely stiff and a bit lumpy. Do not knead any more than necessary to combine the ingredients. Place the dense dough ball in a lightly oiled bowl and allow to rise for 24 hours in the refrigerator. It will not get much bigger, but it will have a nice yeasty smell.

*Depending upon your flour, you may need more. I used a specialized high-protein pizza flour and needed a full cup of water. The goal is for it to just come together. It may be a bit lumpy, but shouldn't be shaggy.

Pizza Day:

Preheat your oven to 500 an hour before you plan to bake the pizza and remove the dough from the fridge so it can warm to room temperature. If you have a pizza stone, put it in the cold oven so it can preheat too. Meanwhile, make the sauce:

1 28-oz. can of crushed tomatoes, ideally Red Gold brand
1/4 c. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 handful fresh basil or oregano, chopped
1 tsp. sugar
salt and black pepper

Heat up a couple tablespoons of the oil and cook half of the garlic until it just starts to brown. Add the tomatoes and bring to a low boil. Simmer until the sauce reduces in volume by half. Stir in the remaining olive oil, fresh herbs, remaining garlic, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste.

Assemble your remaining pizza ingredients. I recommend keeping these minimal and pre-cooking anything chunky.

Now for the fun part!

Divide the dough into two parts. Roll as thin as you possibly can, using a lot of flour on your rolling surface. I'm talking 1/8"-or-less thin. Sprinkle your pizza pans with some cornmeal and place the dough inside (or on something flat you can transfer it from if you're using a pizza stone) and cut the overhanging edges off, leaving 3/4" to fold over as your crust. Fold over the overhang and crimp it with a fork. Prick the crusts many times with a fork.

Bake the crusts for 4 minutes in your very hot oven until they begin to bubble up. Remove them and pop any large bubbles with a fork.

Ladle the sauce over and top the pizzas however you like. Return to the oven and bake for 10 minutes, or until the the cheese is bubbly and browned. I usually have to broil for an additional 1-2 minutes to get the look I want. (In my current, more highly powered oven, with a pizza stone, these only needed 5 additional minutes, and no broiling.)

Remove the pans from the oven and immediately transfer the pizza to a cooling rack for a minute or two. This will allow any moisture to escape so that the crust stays crispy. Cut up the pizza and dig in!

About toppings:

  • If using fresh mozarella, don't put more than 3 ounces on the pizza, or it will get soggy.
  • I highly recommend using fresh herbs. Fresh oregano in particular is great on these, especially with salami or sausage crumbles.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Meat Tajine with Golden Raisins

This is a meat tajine (the kind of meat, as long as it's red, is up to you) from a cookbook I got in Morocco. You're kind of free as to what you serve it with - in Morocco, I think you'd mostly eat it with Moroccan bread, but I had it with couscous, prepared American style (boiling water and couscous). It was very delicious.

2 large onions
1 cinnamon stick
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp ground ginger
Pinch turmeric or dried safflower (for color)
Pinch saffron
1.5 pounds meat, preferably bone in.
2-3 cups warm water

1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 Tbsp powdered sugar
1 c. (approx.) golden raisins


Saute onions, garlic, cinnamon stick, salt, ground ginger and coloring agent agent for a minute, then add the meat. Mix the saffron into the water. When the onions have turned transparent, add the saffron water, then cover. I cooked it for 40 minutes in the pressure cooker - the directions aren't clear as to whether you should cook it in a pressure cooker or a normal pan. If you don't use a pressure cooker, I think more water should be used and the cooking time lengthened to 1.5-2 hours.

After 40 minutes, uncover and add the raisins, ground cinnamon, and powdered sugar. Let the broth cook down until its stewy rather than soupy.

The picture of the dish from the cookbook is here.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Cool treat

Copied shamelessly from TableTalk, the blog:

For those who've jumped on the fizzy water bandwagon, here's a new soda.

Rhubarb Soda:
1.5 c chopped rhubarb, 1.5 c water, 1 c sugar -- bring to boil, simmer for 15 minutes.
Strain into a jar. Let cool. Pour a couple of ounces over ice in a tall glass and fill up with fizzy water.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Basic crackers

These are a great thing to keep around for a nosh with some cheese and olives or a spread. I started experimenting with them to have a non-wheat alternative to potato chips. I have added cocoa powder and extra sugar for something between a cracker and a cookie, and it is great with coffee for a little pick-me-up in the afternoon. You can also stir in some finely grated cheese when combining the dry ingredients. Makes enough to last a week or so. If they get limp, bake em again for a few minutes. Sailors lived on things like this. Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

From King Arthur Flour cookbook.

Preheat oven to 400. (prepare for a couple rest periods during process)

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sugar
4 TBSP butter
1 egg beaten into 1/2 cup milk (or 3/4 cup milk and no egg)
stuff for sprinking on top (salt, herbs, seeds, etc)

Mix dry ingredients together. Blend in the flour quickly until it resembles corn meal. Add milk and egg mixture, 1/2 at a time, stirring quickly with fork.

Turn the dough onto floured surface and knead gently a few times till it holds together. Let dough rest for an hour if time permits. If you are fleeing Egypt, skip this step. Roll dough until very thin - aim for 1/16". If necessary, slide spatula under dough to keep from sticking. A little flour can't hurt for sprinkling.

Cut into your favorite shapes. Squares are the easiest. Separate crackers, lift onto greased cookie sheet (or nonstick) Let them reset for about 5 minutes; prick each one with fork several times and sprinkle with desired topping. It will fall off, just a warning.

Bake for 5-6 minutes on each side. Keep an eye on them. Remove from oven, cool and store in airtight container. I look forward to seeing other variations. These are very forgivable.

Kringlor or Danish Puffs

This evoked an OMFG from a complete stranger - it is mouth-wateringly delicious, and not too sweet for breakfast. (I have considered making it again with a thin layer of apricot preserves between the layers) Lifted directly from Prairie Home Cooking, a must have cookbook. Preheat oven to 375.

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour (bleached spelt worked great)
3 eggs
1/2 tsp almond extract

1 cup powdered sugar (sift first)
1 TBSP butter, softened
1/2 tsp almond extract
Light cream or something

In medium bowl, cut 1 stick of the butter into 2 cups of the flour until pea sized. Sprinkle 1 TBSP of cold water over 1/3 of this mixture, and gently toss with a fork. Push this to the side of the bowl. Repeat with the other 2/3. When all the dough is moistened, shape it into a ball and divide in half. On an ungreased baking sheet, pat or roll each piece of dough into a 12" x 4" strip. It will not look right, but trust me. This is where I might add a layer of apricot jam, but it is a pretty crumbly affair.

In medium saucepan, bring to a boil 1 cup of water and the remaining stick of butter. Remove from heat, and add the remaining 1 cup of flour all at once. Whisk vigorously until smooth. Let cool for 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well with wooden spoon after each egg. Stir in the 1/2 tsp almond extract. Spread 1/2 of the dough evenly over each pastry strip. It will still look all wrong; proceed anyway. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden and puffy. Transfer to wire rack and cool slightly.

While it is cooling, make the glaze: Combine powdered sugar, butter and extract with enough cream or something to make a drizzling consistency. Drizzle over the kringlor. Cut the pastry into 1" slices and serve.

I couldn't snap a picture fast enough and there were no leftovers!

Russian Dressing a la Zamos

So I'm posting already! Lillian gave this dressing a thumbs-up, so here is the recipe. (I think the Russian lady in the photo could use a little more dressing). It was combined from a couple recipes in the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook:

1 TBSP paprika
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
dash cayenne
1 1/2 tsp celery seed

Combine dry ingredients in blender or with food processing device.

1/3 cup (vinegar and lemon juice mixture)
1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
1 egg
1/2 cup ketchup (or catsup, depending)
1/4 cup grated onion

Drizzle in slowly, beat until thick:
1 cup salad oil

Chill. Delicious on Reuben/Rachel sandwiches

Sunday, May 10, 2009


This is mostly just an illustration of Lillian's (adapted) meatloaf recipe, which is indeed pretty awesome. Whats interesting about the recipe is mostly the cooking technique, which involved forming the loaf on a rack wrapped in tinfoil, with a sheet underneath to catch the grease. A picture is worth a thousand words:
As for the contents of the loaf, I mostly didn't use the recipe, since I had neither crackers nor gelatin on hand. It held together fine with corn meal however. Mine contains equal parts beef and pork.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Beet and Beet Green Salad

This is a great salad for when you've just pulled some beets out of the garden, and have both beets and greens. I've adapted it from here.

4 or so beets (maybe more if you have small garden beets)
The greens from those beets (or 1 bunch beet greens)
2 scallions
Some sort of crunchy nuts or seeds (sunflower, slivered almonds, roast pumpkin seeds)
Feta or other pungent tasty cheese (I used shanklish since it keeps more or less forever and I have some in the fridge.)
I also grated a carrot on top of the salad.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil (not sure if this is really necessary)
1 tablespoon+ of the beet juice for a bit of sweetness

Cook beets until you can poke a fork in them easily. Skin using your fingers once they've cooled. Slice into rounds.

Blanch greens for 20-30 seconds in boiling water. I recommend undercooking them a little so they stay a bit greener. Once you remove them from the water, rinse them in cold water to stop cooking. Squeeze out the excess water.

Mix everything together, dress either at the table or per plate.

I even have a picture:

Czech Style Dumplings

These dumplings are a nice addition to stewy meals, especially for example goulash. The way I had them in Prague was sitting in the broth of the goulash in thin(1") slices. The recipe is adapted from here. Note that I've mostly halved the recipe - I left the yeast high, since it'll rise faster. This is a yeast bread, so it needs time to rise - plan ahead!

1 pk yeast (or 2.25 tsp yeast)
1 ts sugar
1/4 c milk; scalded and cooled
1/2 c milk; warm
1 egg
1/2 ts salt
1.5 c flour
1 slices white bread; cubed

Mix first three ingredients, let stand 10 minutes. Mix in everything else but bread cubes. Once mixed, add bread cubes, knead like bread. Let rise until doubled. Knead again, divide into equal sized logs (they suggest three in the original recipe - it depends on how wide you want the resulting circles.) Let rise again, for about half an hour. Boil gently for around 15 minutes.

Now, when done, what you're supposed to do is use a piece of thread to loop around the resulting logs and slice then into 1-2" thick cross sections. However, I'm lazy, and just used a very sharp knife, but they didn't look quite as perfect. I waited longer to cut some of the other logs, and I found that if you wait a bit, there's no real difference between thread or knives.

Here's a picture of them cooking:

And here's a nice picture of them next to the goulash (note how they're a little oblong due to me using a knife):

Spicy Spaghetti Bolognese

There's a zillion recipes for bolognese sauce, but this one worked well for me. Some people add cream at the end, but I find I don't like that as much. This one's really good if you can find hot pepper paste (usually associated with Hungary, but I have a Peruvian brand that's excellent). You can make it entirely un-spicy if you like, too.

2 large cans whole tomatoes, ideally Red Gold brand (or you can use 1 can puree and 1 can crushed if you don't have a blender)
1 lb ground beef
1 c. red wine
1/2 c. beef broth
1 onion, minced
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. fennel seeds (optional)
3 Tbsp. salt
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. red pepper (or tomato) paste
2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 c. water from boiling pasta
2 cloves garlic, crushed

Brown the ground beef and chop it up with your stirring device so that it's finely textured. If you have a pressure cooker, add 1/2 c. red wine and the 1/2 c. beef broth and cook for 15 minutes. If you don't have a pressure cooker, add the wine and broth and allow it to simmer 20 minutes.

Release pressure in cooker, if using. Cook away all the broth and then add the onions and spices and cook until the onions begin to soften, ~5 minutes. Add the flour, stir, and cook 2 minutes, then stir in the red pepper paste and cook 2 minutes more.

Drain one of the cans and save the liquid for another day. Coarsely chop the tomatoes from the can and set them aside to add to the sauce later. Blend the remaining can, liquid and all, until it's a fine puree (or just use pureed tomatoes, but blend them finer if you can). Add the pureed tomatoes, remaining 1/2 c. red wine, and olive oil to the pot and allow the sauce to simmer for 30 minutes. Add the remaining chopped tomatoes and the pasta water* and continue to simmer for another 30 minutes, or until the volume is reduced by half and the sauce is velvety.

*While it's simmering, cook the noodles in well-salted water, and reserve 1/2 c. of the water from boiling--this, along with the flour and the olive oil, will help emulsify the sauce.

At the very end, add the crushed garlic and cook the sauce one more minute. Adjust the salt if necessary. Serve over pasta, with a generous helping of parmesan on top.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Thick-cut Pork Chops

These intimidating chops were actually pretty easy to cook. They're called an "Iowa Chop", and they're just a thick-cut, bone-in, center-cut chop. I've discovered that the secret to juicy pork chops is to start with a cold pan and obsessively checking the temperature. I find they're best just under 160 degrees.

Pork Chops

2 1-lb. Iowa Chops
2-3 Tbsp. salt
2 Tbsp. white pepper
2 Tbsp. dried sage
2 Tbsp. Smoked (or regular) paprika
3 Tbsp. oil

Sauce (optional):
1/2 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
2 Tbsp. corn starch
1 tsp. white pepper
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 c. cold water

Preheat the oven to 350.

Pat the chops dry with some paper towel. Sprinkle them liberally with the salt and spices and allow them to warm up to room temperature while you start the quinoa and chop the cauliflower.

Place the oil in your pan, but do not pre-heat the pan. Add the chops to the pan and place them on the stove. Heat the pan up to medium, turning the chop over after it browns on one side. Flip the chop and allow it to brown on the other side, ~3-5 min.

Look at those monsters! Dan was the one who picked them out--how extravagant!

Place the pan into the oven and bake the chops, uncovered, turning once or twice, until the internal temperature reaches ~155 (or just below that). This took 25 minutes for my chops. Remove the chops from the pan and losely place some tin foil over them. The internal temperature will rise to about 160.

Return the pan to the stove and add the chicken broth and white wine. Bring it to a simmer and allow it to reduce a bit and the alcohol to cook off. Taste as it cooks to make sure it doesn't get too salty. Stir the corn starch into the cold water and pour it into the pan, whisking the mixture as you go. Add some more white pepper and a blob of dijon mustard and allow it to simmer a few more moments, until the sauce is clear and thickened. Adjust the seasonings if need be.

You can get fancier with the sauce, but corn starch worked fine as a thickener.

Cooked to perfection! Dinner, and lunch the next day :)

Sunday, April 12, 2009


$4.50/lb right now at Shuang Hur!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Paprika Chicken

All the recipes I've found for this claim it's a standard American recipe--perfect for when you're rummaging around for an idea and don't have much on hand. I guess it didn't make it into our family, because I don't remember having it. It's basically a paprika-heavy chicken fricassee--perfect week-night comfort food. You could probably use any cut of chicken, including bone-in, but breast fillets are very easy to use.

3-4 chicken breasts
1-2 onions, diced
2 bell peppers, ideally red ones, diced
~1 can low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 c. white wine or vermouth
2 Tbsp. tomato paste (and red pepper paste, if you have it)
2-3 Tbsp. sweet Hungarian paprika
1/2 c. sour cream
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. oil
2 Tbsp. flour or cornstarch
1 tsp. marjoram
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
salt & pepper
pinch sugar
fresh parsley (optional)

Cut the chicken into 2-3 mini cutlets per breast, but slicing them into 3/4" thick diagonals. Pound with something heavy to flatten to a uniform thickness. Pat them dry and sprinkle them liberally with salt and pepper.

In a deep skillet, heat the oil and butter up until it's very hot. Cook the chicken pieces until they are golden brown on each side, doing 1-2 batches so that they only make a single layer in the pan. Remove the chicken from the pan and set it aside.

Add the onions to the pan and reduce the heat. Add a pinch each of sugar and salt. Cook until they begin to turn golden brown, 10-15 minutes.

Stir in the paprika, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, and marjoram, so that it's evenly distributed and starts to sizzle a bit. Add the chicken pieces and the red (or green) peppers, and stir to combine. Add the white wine and enough broth so that the chicken is 80% covered. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 40-50 minutes.

Uncover the pan and stir in the flour cornstarch mixed with 1/4 c. water. It should thicken almost instantly if you use cornstarch, or in 2-3 minutes of simmering if you use flour. Remove the pan from the heat and wait until it stops bubbling. Stir in the sour cream and parsley and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Serve over starchy goodness.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Moules marinieres

This is a pretty traditional preparation of mussels; steamed in white wine, shallot, and garlic. In this case I added tomatoes, which may or may not qualify this as moules marinieres depending on who you ask. This is pretty much a template recipe with infinite potential variation on flavors. If you like anis, substituting pastis or similar (ouzo, arrack, etc) for the white wine is very tasty.

Your mussels must be clean, de-bearded, and alive. The best way to get beards off is a to do a twisting pull with a pair of pliers (demonstrated at about 4:45 in this video by Lil's favorite, Alton Brown). Definitely at no point should they be placed in water; this will kill them, and dead shellfish become poisonous very quickly. You can briefly rinse them in a colander however. Perfect cleanliness is neither possible nor essential, and being overly fastidious will likely just kill them.

Let them sit out for half an hour or so before prep, so that the live ones close up tight. Sort through for any that are hanging open, and flap them open and shut; if they're alive they'll shut themselves in response. Toss any that don't respond.

For marinieres:
3-4 shallots - peeled and chopped coarsely
5-6 cloves garlic - peeled crushed and chopped coarsely
~1 cup white wine
Lots of butter
Optional extras: tomatoes canned or fresh, lemon juice/zest, herbs, etc

You need a pot with a good lid and lots of space for the mussels to steam. A wok is perfect. Don't overdo it on the liquid, as the mussels release plenty of their own.

Sweat the veggies etc in butter with a bit of salt. Toss all the mussels in, add the white wine, and clamp the lid down. After about 2 minutes, toss them to make sure they're steaming evenly. Steam until they're all open, which shouldn't take more than another 2 minutes, after which time you're in danger of overcooking them.

For service: I like to just plop them on top of a bowl of spaghetti. Be generous with the sauce, and make sure you've got some crusty bread to sop up the extra. Moules frites is a popular standard in France, where you usually get 1kg of mussels and unlimited fries for around 10E, so keep an eye out for that sign if you're ever looking for a damned tasty meal which is affordable by French standards, and can't really be messed up.