Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Æbleskiver

As a kid I loved day trips to the tourist-trap known as Solvang, for one big reason: æbleskiver! These Danish goodies are little eggy puffs of air, made in a specialized cast-iron pan. Lucky me, Alex got me just such a pan! This dough would also make fantastic pancakes or waffles if you don't have the pan.


I used this æbleskiver recipe from a Danish enclave in MN at Lutsen, but I cut it in half for two people. They recommend allowing 7 puffs per person, which is handy because that's how many fit in a pan. The recipe below makes ~18 puffs.

For the technique, watch this video from Solvang:


1 c. buttermilk
2 eggs, separated
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. oil
1 pinch salt
1 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Beat the egg whites until stiff. Whisk together the yolks, sugar, oil, and salt in a large measuring cup with a pour spout. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda and then add it to the liquid ingredients. Whisk until very smooth. Gently fold in the egg whites.

Heat the pan over medium heat. You want it to give you a little sizzle when you pour in the dough, but not too hot or the æblesiver will cook too quickly. Add a small pat of butter to each hole and swish it around with a pastry brush, brushing some butter on the flat surfaces as well.

Pour batter into each hole until its about 90% full. Use a skewer or knitting needle (which you will use later for flipping them) to cut the batter between pours. By the time you finish filling the holes it will be almost time to start turning them.


Use your skewer to loosen the edges of the dough, and then turn each puff 90° onto its side. Then go through and rotate them two more times so that they cook in sphere shape (go watch the video to see how this is done). You can continue to brown and turn them if they aren't golden enough.

In Solvang they're typically served with raspberry jam and powdered sugar, but you can put any tasty thing you like. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Beef Udon


Nothing like a beefy hot bowl of noodles on Christmas Eve! I was able to make this with odds and ends I had on hand. You can top it with whatever vegetables and things you have. I had only a small piece of lean beef, but if you have something with more bones and cartilage you'll get more flavor. You could also use pork or chicken.

6-8 oz beef
1/2 yellow onion, with skin
1" knob of ginger
2 garlic cloves
8 black peppercorns
2-3 dried shiitake mushrooms
2" piece of kombu (optional)
6 c. water
2 Tbsp. oil

1-2 tsp. dashi granules
2 Tbsp. rice wine or sherry
3-4 Tbsp. light soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. rice vinegar

salt and sugar to taste

2 bundles dried udon noodles
3 green onions, sliced thinly

Garnish ideas:
1 carrot, julienned
2 leaves Chinese cabbage
poached eggs
1/4 c. soft tofu, in cubes
Pickled daikon (takuan)
7-spice powder (shichimi togarashi)


Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in the base of your pressure cooker, and sear the outside of the beef. Add the yellow onion, ginger, peppercorns, garlic, shiitake mushrooms, kombu, and water. Pressure cook for 20 minutes.

Release the pressure and strain out the ingredients, saving the beef. Slice the beef for later use. Season the broth with the dashi, soy sauce, etc...

Meanwhile, cook the udon noodles according to directions. At its simplest, serve the noodles, sliced beef, broth, and green onions with a drizzle of sesame oil.

To fancy it up, prepare the garnish. I recommend briefly sauteeing the carrots and cabbage in some oil, sesame oil, and a dash of soy sauce. Feel free to get creative with what you put on top!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Moroccan Style Kufta in Tomato Sauce

This is a recipe from Melanie/Melanie's host family here in Rabat. It's pretty easy, and makes a delicious, warm and hearty meal.

Ingredients:
Kufta balls:
1 # ground beef
1 tsp cumin
1/2-1 tsp tahmiira (Moroccan mild pepper powder, a bit different but replaceable with a mix of mild paprika and cayeanne)
2 Tbsps minced Italian parsley
Salt
Pepper

Sauce:
3-4 medium tomatoes, skinned and seeded, diced (this is how tomatoes are usually prepared for Moroccan recipes, whether cooked or salads)
1/2 tsp tahmiira
1/2 tsp cumin
3 Tbsps minced Italian parsley
Salt
Pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp salad oil

Steps:

Before starting on the kufta, get the sauce cooking in a large skillet. Heat the oil on medium heat, then add the tomatoes. When the tomatoes start releasing their juice, add the spices, then turn it down to a simmer.

While the sauce is simmering, combine the ingredients for the kufta, then form into balls about 1" in diameter.

When the tomatoes have cooked down, you can either continue cooking in a skillet, adding the kufta balls to the sauce, or you can shift everything to a pressure cooker. Either simmer until the kufta balls are cooked through, or pressure cook for about 15 minutes (everything's cooked in pressure cookers here, it's the secret to tajine). Eat with good bread that will absorb the sauce, preferably Moroccan round loaves of bread.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Spaghetti in tomato sauce



I have learned a lot about making pasta in the last 2 years or so; it is not a coincidence that this overlaps with my having very little time to contribute to the blog. I'd like to illustrate what I now know about the "true" italian approach to pasta with a dish from the menu of the restaurant where I currently work, Delfina.

This dish has, approximately, 4 ingredients. It is also one of the signature dishes of a well-regarded restaurant which has served dozens of them every single day of its 12 year history, which should indicate that the devil is going to be in the details. It is officially listed on the menu as "Spaghetti with plum tomatoes, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and peperoncini"

Ingredients:

Spaghetti: This is a dry pasta dish. Texture-wise, the sauce adds little more than mouth-feel, so everything depends on the noodle itself. The industry standard for Italian dry pasta is Rustichella d'Abruzzo. I think you can find it retail at fancy-pants grocery stores, or online. De Cecco is pretty decent too. And there is no reason not to use Barilla or equivalent; as always, make sure you cook it properly.

Tomato sauce: The only cheat in the "4 ingredients" is in the tomato sauce, which is itself comprised of 3 ingredients. For tomatoes, again the gold standard is Alta Cucina; whole-peeled San Marzano plum tomatoes, canned with a good amount of basil. According to the image on the front of the can, they are delicious enough to eat plain, on a fancy plate while wearing a suit. They are also astonishingly cheap, running a few bucks for a big 29 oz can, which would make you a couple quarts of sauce. Adequate subsitutes are Red Gold, or pretty much any similar imported canned tomato, using San Marzanos or equivalent, and in whole-peeled form.

Ingredients 2 and 3 are onion and garlic, and the technique for the sauce could hardly be simpler. Sweat chopped onion and garlic in oil until fully cooked but not colored. Smash up the canned tomatoes by hand, add them to the pot, and cook on low until reduced by about a third. This is your sauce.

EVOO: Simple: use the very best EVOO you feel like buying. At Delfina we use a rare boutique small batch Tuscan oil called Stephen Singer, which costs $27 for 750ml, or just over $1 per ounce. You probably do not have this at home; I know I don't. Buying decent oil in a big 1.5L can is generally the best bet, especially if you know somebody in a restaurant who can buy you one can out of a case, giving you an awesome wholesale price. The best brand you can generally find in normal grocery stores for a somewhat affordable price is Frantoia, usually running around $18 for a liter.

Peperoncini: This is fancy Italy-speak for chile flake. Delfina makes its own, by roasted a sheet tray of Arbol chiles until deep brown and aromatic, and then breaking them up into a rustic flake product by hand, which involves gas masks and extreme risk of irritated mucus membranes. At home? Toast a couple chile pods in a pan or in the oven until your kitchen makes you want to cry, let them cool, and roughly break them up or chop them.

The only other ingredient is whole fresh basil leaves.

Technique: I will give a full recipe first, with more in-depth notes below.

Blanche your spaghetti in boiling water until it is just tender enough to bend. Reserving the pasta water, remove the noodles to a saute pan, along with "enough sauce." Add to the pan a hearty pinch of salt, and a very scant pinch of chile flake.

We could call this stage one; at the restaurant, this brings the dish to "pre-fire" status.

To cook the pasta: Add to the saute pan enough of the pasta water to cover the noodles, but only just. Bring the pan to a boil and maintain it over maximum heat. At the very beginning, be careful with the noodles as they are still brittle and too much worrying will break them up into a mess of noodle-shards. But, once they become more supple, you need to constantly move the pasta and the pan to prevent them sticking to one another or to the pan, and the keep the sauce from burning around the edges.

What you are attempting to do over the course of this procedure is find the intersection of having 0 additional liquid remaining in the pan and a perfectly cooked noodle. As it cooks, you will want to add small additional amounts of the pasta water if you think the sauce will dry out and burn before the pasta finishes cooking; but if you add too much, by the time that water has been reduced out of the sauce, your pasta will be hammered. This is only easy to do once you have made the dish, say, 100 times. Working a pasta station, you hit that milestone around week two. At home? Either be content to perfect this over a couple years, or start eating lots and lots of spaghetti.

To finish: Take about 4 medium sized basil leaves and tear them all rustic-like. Add the basil and a medium dash (say, 3/4 oz) of your chosen olive oil. Toss the pasta over the heat until the basil just wilts and the oil is fully emulsified into the sauce.

Serve as is, or, if you are a barbarian, with some sort of hard aged cheese grated on top.

1) Do not salt your pasta water: Yes, every recipe for pasta ever includes the redundant "large pot of heavily salted water." We will be using that pasta water to adjust the consistency of the pasta as it cooks in the pan with the sauce, so if it is salted, you will almost invariably be screwed by the time the pasta is fully cooked. You do, therefore, need to salt the sauce itself liberally at the beginning in order to give the salt a chance of penetrating into the pasta. Get a feel for how to add 90% of the salt the dish needs at the beginning so you have a bit of wiggle room to adjust at the end. This is something like a big 3-fingered pinch, when using Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt, and making a single portion. Mortons is denser (i.e. more saltiness-per-pinch) so be careful if that is your brand of choice.

2) Barely cook your pasta in the pot of water: I also directed you only to blanche the noodles in the water, until they bend enough to fit in your saute pan. The purpose of this method is to allow a perfectly tuned sauce with a perfectly cooked noodle, and for virtually 100% of the starch from the pasta to remain in the final sauce, allowing for the ideal mouth-and-noodle-coating texture which we want.

3) Enough sauce?: For a large order of spaghetti, we use something like 7 dry ounces of noodles with 6 ounces of cooked tomato sauce. That said, the consistency of the sauce varies enormously, and I am not even certain about the portion for the noodles. Basically, imagine that you want a sauce which thoroughly coats all the noodles, without any residual tomato gunk left in the bowl after you have eaten; once you get an eye for it, you're really looking for the tint of the noodle itself.

The quantity of chile flake is difficult to describe or measure. It is something like a fraction of a single chile pod. The idea is not for the final dish to be spicy by any measure, but for the warming perfume of the chile to penetrate the palate in a hardly perceptible fashion.

Good luck, knowing that true dedication requires making a 4-ingredient dish several hundred times until you can, happening upon an in-progress pasta, immediately ascertain from an arm's length whether it needs more or less water, more or less tomato, and approximately how much longer until it has to cook.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cowboy Chili

Some say beans don't go in chili. I think this guy would eat anything in front of him.

We're home on the range tonight, or is it the Donner Pass? Being stuck inside during a historic snowstorm calls for improvisation, or in this case, a return to basics. Meat? Check. Dried chilis? Check. Can o' beans? Check. Chili here we come!

2 lbs. ground or finely chopped beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. bacon grease (you can also add some bacon)
3 dried ancho chilis
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. Mexican oregano
2 Tbsp. salt
1 can of chili beans (optional) or 1 can tomato sauce
water

Honestly, I was out of chili powder, so I had to make the chili sauce from scratch. I added the beans mainly for liquid, but you could use tomatoes instead (or in addition).

Brown the meat in the bacon grease, seasoning it with some salt and black pepper. I like to pressure cook it for 10 minutes to make it more tender.

Cut the chilies open (kitchen scissors are good for this) and scrape out the seeds and remove the stems. Cover with just enough water to submerge and simmer for 10 minutes. Save the chili water and place the drained chilies in a blender or food processor with the garlic, black pepper, cumin, oregano, and 1 Tbsp. salt. Blend until smooth, adding just enough of the chili water to make a thick sauce. If the chili water tastes too bitter, use plain water instead.

Drain most of the excess liquid and fat off of the meat. Add the onions and chili sauce, and stir to coat. Add the chili beans with their liquid, and/or the tomato sauce. If the chili is too thick, add some water. Adjust the salt to taste.

I made mine all fancy-like with some chopped onions, peppers, cheddar cheese, and Yankee corn bread. I'm not sure if the cowboys would be appalled or if they would just gobble it up.

Roasted Bananas?

While roasting trays of mixed vegetables one day, I had the bright idea of trying another approach to cooking fruit. I like it so much better cooked, and it seems much easier to digest. Here is what I did:

2 greenish bananas, sliced
1 tbsp butter, melted

Toss the banana slices with the butter gently (I did it all in the cast iron pan used to melt the butter). Spread them out into a single layer. Bake at 350 for a total of 1 1/2 hours, separating and flipping every half hour. Remove from pan to storage bowl and cool.

Once these are cool, they are 1)really ugly, and 2)incredibly delicious. They become caramelized and sweet the longer they cool. Use them in yogurt or in shakes. One thousand times more delicious that plain bananas!

Turkey and Sweet Potato Curry

More turkey leftovers?

I found this in the Star Tribune around Thanksgiving, and it is quite delicious and a nice change from the usual turkey Tetrazinni approach. I tweaked a few ingredients and made it as shown below:


2 TBSP finely grated fresh ginger
2 TBSP finely chopped garlic
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (or more, if you like it hotter)
2 tomatoes chopped*
2 TBSP curry powder
2 TBSP garam masala
1 cup yogurt
1/2 bunch cilantro
1 lb. chopped cooked turkey (or chicken, or cooked meat of any kind)
1 TBSP olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 lb. chopped cooked sweet potatoes
3 TBSP brown sugar (this can be left out or reduced if your left over sweet potatoes are already sweetened.
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 small can (5.6 oz, or 165 ml) coconut milk (or half and half)

Put ginger, garlic, pepper flakes, tomatoes*, curry powder, garam masala, yogurt and cilantro into a deep bowl and stir to combine. Add turkey, toss well, cover, and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. I like to use big ziploc bags for this step; they are airtight and take up less room in the fridge. And you can wash them and reuse them for years! (Mine said: mixed green beans, 2008 on it)

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent. Stir in turkey and marinade, sweet potatoes, sugar, salt, and coconut milk; cook until heated through. Transfer to a large bowl and serve. (This is one of those dishes that they bring you in an Indian restaurant and all the polite diners get this look on their face that says, "Gee, that's not much food. What a ripoff." But it is really rich and delicious!)

* I didn't have tomatoes, so I substituted 1 TBSP tomato paste and 1/2 cup water. It tasted just fine, but you may prefer to use tomatoes for the variety of textures they provide).

Friday, December 10, 2010

Pumpkin Pie

Making pumpkin pie from scratch is all well and good (I see I have a very elaborate recipe for it in my notes), but sometimes you just need/want an easy pie. This is my version of a basic recipe using canned goods. It is for a deep-dish pie crust, so you will have extra if you are using a standard pan.

Before...
...After!

Preheat the oven to 425°

1 unbaked pie crust
1 can pumpkin
1 can evaporated milk
2 whole eggs + 2 egg yolks
1/2 c. plain yogurt
3/4 c. light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. garam masala
1/2 tsp. salt

Roll out the crust and place it in your pie pan. Blend together the pie filling ingredients. Pour the ingredients into the crust. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350° and bake for another 40-50 minutes, or until it looks mostly set. Cool on a rack for at least 2 hours before slicing. I love pie!

Chicken Creole Style

This recipe comes from the galley copy of the meat version of The Schwarzbein Principle. With salt added, of course (and a few other tweaks). I also use bone-in chicken breasts, which takes longer but produces juicier results. Allow some time for marination.

Served with Twice-Baked Potatoes. I removed the chicken from the bone after cooking.

4 bone-in chicken breasts
1/3 c. olive oil
2 Tbsp. dry sherry
4 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried cumin
2 Tbsp. chopped shallots
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. black pepper

Combine the ingredients in a dish suited to marinating (or ziploc bag). Place the chicken in the dish and spoon the marinade over, making sure to get some under the skin. Marinate at least one hour, mixing once or twice.

Preheat oven to 350°. Place the chicken breasts in a greased baking dish and bake until the chicken is tender and reaches an internal temperature of 165°, 60-75 minutes. Baste frequently while baking.

Twice-Baked Potatoes

There is no worthier cause for burning your tongue than biting into a twice-baked potato. They're a bit of a hassle to make, but the payoff is delicious, and makes great leftovers. They can be seasoned any way you like--this is for a bacon jalapeño version.


6-7 medium russet potatoes
3 strips cooked bacon, chopped very fine
3 Tbsp. butter
3/4 block cheddar cheese, grated and divided
1 egg
1-2 jalapeños, seeded and diced fine
3 green onions, chopped fine
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper

Heat oven to 400.

Wash potatoes thoroughly and prick with a fork. Bake potatoes for 40-50 minutes, or until they are tender inside.While they are still hot, cut them in half, and scoop out the insides into a bowl (hold them with a hotpad). Place the skins on a greased baking sheet.

Mash the potato well, and add in the remaining ingredients (reserving 1/3 of the cheese for garnish), and mix well. Plop the mashed potato filling back into the skins, smooth down, and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Return to the oven for 15 minutes, then broil for 5 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and browned. Careful, they're hot!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Couve Mineira aka Green Spaghetti

These greens (translation: miner's kale) are traditionally served as a side to feijoada, a rich Brazilian black bean and meat stew (similar to cassoulet), often with orange slices. However, they make a great side-dish for nearly anything. Preparing the greens is laborious, but the rest of the cooking is easy.



2 bunches of collard greens
3 shallots, or 1 small red onion sliced thin
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2-4 Tbsp. bacon fat or oil
salt and pepper to taste

Wash the greens thoroughly and remove the mid-ribs by grasping the leaves in one hand and the rib on the other, and ripping it out. Stack the leaves flat, 6-8 leaves at a time, and roll them up very tightly. Using a very sharp knife (or mandoline), slice across the roll of leaves in 1/8" strips to make a very thin 'spaghetti'.

Heat the fat in a large pan with a close-fitting lid. Add the garlic and shallots and stir until it they slightly start to brown. Add the greens and toss in the fat to coat. Add a generous pinch of salt and some black pepper and stir. Put the lid on and let it steam for a couple of minutes until the greens are softened but still bright green (the washing water from the greens helps to steam them). Serve as-is or with orange slices.

NOTE: I adulterate this recipe all the time. I like to add red pepper flakes to the oil and a few dashes of Tobasco at the end. If the greens are particularly bitter, I add a little sugar. They are also good with some lemon juice or vinegar added.

Red Pepper Pork Chops

This is a simple-yet-flavorful meal, perfect for a weeknight dinner. It helps if you can season the porkchops an hour or more ahead of time, but not required. Here I serve them over couscous, with Couve Mineira on the side. I used boneless pork chops, but you could use bone-in. In fact, this would probably be good with chicken breasts too. Make as many as you would like for dinner and leftovers--this is for 4 chops.

Serving Suggestion 1

Serving Suggestion 2

4 pork chops
3 Tbsp. Kosher salt
2 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. Aleppo pepper flakes
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2 medium red peppers, diced
3 shallots, minced
1/4 c. white wine
1/4 c. water or chicken broth
1 tsp. sugar
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

Combine the seasonings and rub it on the pork chops (honestly, I just eyeball the seasonings and sprinkle them on directly). If you have thin chops, score the fat & silverskin layer on the edge at 3/4" intervals so that they don't warp and cook unevenly.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan to medium. Add the chops and cook about 10 minutes on each side (lower the heat if they are cooking too fast). Cook until the internal temperature is 155 (for the tiniest hint of pink) or 160 (for all white), and set them aside on a plate.

Add some more olive oil to the pan, increase the heat to medium-high, and add the shallots. Stir and cook for 2 minutes, then add the red peppers. Saute the vegetables so that they soften and caramelize slightly on the edges. Add wine and water/broth to deglaze the pan and simmer to create a sauce. Season with salt, pepper, and a hint of sugar.

Serve the chops whole or sliced, with the pepper relish on top. If you don't have Aleppo pepper, you can use paprika, but take extra care to ensure it doesn't scorch.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Beef Barley Stew

This is an absolute classic--perfect for winter weather. Like most stew recipes, it can be adapted according to your ingredients. I think it pays to be methodical in your approach, but you can also throw everything in the crockpot the night before and still get much of the deliciousness. I prefer to use an enameled pot in a slow oven, because my malevolent crockpot burns things.

Before.

After.

Preheat oven to 300.

3 lb. chuck roast, cut into 1" chunks
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, diced
1 medium celeriac root, diced
1 c. small button mushrooms
2 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. rosemary
2 bay leaves
fat for frying
1-1.5 quart water and/or broth
1/2 c. wine
1/2 c. pearled barley
parsley, chopped (optional)
salt to taste

Pat the meat pieces dry and place them in a bowl. Toss them with the salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Heat the fat in a dutch oven until very hot (I like to use a combination of bacon fat and cooking oil). Fry the meat in batches, turning the pieces so that the edges brown and crisp, and remove them to a bowl.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions to the remaining fat. Stir them and scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to loosen the brown bits from frying. Add the celeriac and carrots and continue stirring and scraping.

Add the flour to the pot and stir to coat the vegetables. Allow it to brown and sizzle slightly. Add the tomato paste and stir to coat again. Stir in the mushrooms, thyme, and rosemary.

Add the broth or water, the wine, and the bay leaves. Usually red wine is recommended, but I think white works well. Bring to a boil, making sure to scrape any remaining bits off the bottom of the pot. Once it comes to a boil, put the lid on and place it in the oven. Allow ~3 hours for the stew to cook.

After 2 hrs. add the pearled barley. The stew is finished when the meat is fall-apart tender. Adjust the salt to taste and chopped parsley. I found that as I stirred it the celeriac and barley broke down enough to thicken the soup nicely.

The soup can be kept warm until dinnertime by reducing the oven to 225.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Delicious Thai-Inspired Stir-Fry

I don't know what to call this one. It's really just a good stir-fry, based on one they made on America's Test Kitchen. You can use any meat, really, and any vegetables, so it's hard to pin down. Here's how I made this batch. I used chicken thighs, but the original recipe was for beef (something lean, like top round).

6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (~2 lbs.)
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. white pepper

2 heads broccoli, cut into florets
1 red pepper
1 red onion or 3-4 shallots
3 hot chilies
3 cloves garlic

3 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1/4 c. chicken broth (or water)
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. Chili Garlic Sauce
1 Tbsp. corn starch

Begin by boiling a pot of water for blanching the broccoli. Meanwhile, slice the meat into small pieces and then toss them with the coriander, white pepper, salt, brown sugar, and fish sauce. When the water boils, blanch the broccoli for 1 minute, then cool immediately with cold water and drain.

Slice the peppers and onions into bite-sized pieces, and mince the garlic and hot chilis. Mix together the remaining ingredients to form a sauce, and taste to check flavor. Adjust as necessary (should be pretty salty since it will be diluted by the remaining ingredients).

STIR-FRYING WORKS BEST IF YOU ARE CAREFUL AND METHODICAL AND DO NOT CROWD THE PAN.

Begin by heating some oil in your stir fry pan over high until it is almost smoking. Add half of the garlic and hot peppers. They will begin to brown almost immediately. Add 1/3 of the meat and cook until the edges are crisp and brown, but cook it quickly so that the inside part isn't fully cooked. Cook in batches, replenishing oil as needed, until all the meat is cooked. Set aside in a bowl.

Add more oil and the remaining garlic and chilies. Making sure the pan is very hot again, add the onion and stir. Then add the red peppers. The edges should get some browning but the vegetables should remain crisp.

Add the cooked broccoli and the meat, including the meat juice from the bowl. Reduce the heat to medium and toss ingredients to combine. Add the sauce, which should immediately begin to thicken, and stir to coat. Check flavors and add salt or sugar as needed.

Serve piping hot with fresh jasmine rice.

Obviously you can make this with any ingredients you like. Make sure to blanch anything large and chunky like broccoli.

Blueberry Walnut Bars

Or, as I like to call them, Blueblerry Blars! This recipe is based on one from the Lunds & Byerly's free magazine, Real Food. These make a great breakfast or post-gym snack. Soon I will work on some other fillings, like apple or cherry.


~2.5 c. blueberries, fresh or frozen (or a whole 12 oz. bag)
1/4 c.white sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tsp. lemon zest

1 c. walnuts, whole or in pieces
1.5 c. AP flour
1 heaping cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/3 c. white sugar
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. salt
12 Tbsp. melted, unsalted butter (1.5 sticks)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper. Trust me--this recipe will be a lot easier if you use the paper.

Place the walnuts on the baking pan and put them in the oven to toast for 5-10 minutes. They will become fragrant and make squealing noises. Make sure they don't start to burn. Remove from the oven to cool when they are done. Chop coarsely.

(TIP: I melted the butter at this point by placing it in a metal bowl in the oven while the nuts were roasting).

Combine the 1/4 c. white sugar and cornstarch in a heavy saucepan and stir in the blueberries and lemon zest. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, stirring frequently and mashing the berries a bit, until the sauce thickens (~5 minutes). Set aside to cool.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, 1/3 c. white sugar, 1/3c. brown sugar, salt, baking soda, cream of tartar, and walnuts. Stir in the melted butter and combine well.

Press two thirds of the oat mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom of the parchment-lined pan. Spread the blueberry mixture over it. Sprinkle the remaining oat mixture on top.

Bake at 350° until golden brown, about 45 minutes. Allow the dessert to cool completely in the pan. Pull the bars out of the pan using the parchment paper and place on a cutting board. Cut into 2" squares.

Oriental Style Rice Pudding

A bit thick, but very, very yummy :)

This is an aromatic stovetop-simmered style (like kheer), instead of the baked, eggy Occidental style. I made this using cooked rice. You can certainly start with uncooked rice (look up a recipe online), but be prepared to spend a lot of time stirring. The recipe is flexible: you can adjust the liquid amount for the desired consistency, add different flavorings, additions such as raisins or nuts, and even different sources of liquids. I recommend using whole milk and adding cream or evaporated milk. The recipe can be served warm or cold.

3-4 c. cooked basmati or jasmine rice
2 c. whole milk
1 can evaporated milk
~1 c. boiling water
1/2 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. rose water
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1 pinch salt
1 Tbsp. butter (optional)
crushed pistachios for garnish

Heat the whole milk and evaporated milk (or whatever types of milk you are using). Add the rice, sugar, salt, and cardamom. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, stirring frequently for 25 minutes. You can add a pat of unsalted butter to keep a skin from forming.

Add the boiling water if the pudding becomes too thick, and continue to stir to break down the rice grains. Continue to cook and add liquid until pudding reaches desired consistency (it will thicken as it cools). Turn off the heat and stir in the rose water. Garnish with crushed nuts, more ground cardamom, or any other lovely things. Serve warm or cold. If you chill the pudding, put a layer of plastic wrap directly on top.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Eye of Round Roast

If you are confused, those are pink potatoes on the right.

It may not be the most sophisticated cut of beef, but it's cheap, easy to find, and if you follow my directions, delicious. This makes a lean, slice-able roast. I made a 5-lb. roast, but you can make this with a 3- or 4-pounder, just adjust the cooking time. Allow some time to let the roast season before you roast it.

Preheat oven to 325.

1 5-lb. eye of round roast
4 Tbsp. Kosher salt
2 Tbsp. paprika
2 tsp. ground pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. ground coriander

roasting vegetables (optional)
oil

Combine the spices. Pat the roast dry and rub the spices into it. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let sit for 1-2 hrs or more.

Heat some oil for frying in the bottom of a roasting pan. Brown the roast on all sides. Place in the oven to roast. Add more oil to the pan if it starts to scorch.

I found that my roast cooked faster than most recipes said, probably because I was shooting for medium-ish instead of well-done. My 5-lb. roast got to 140 degrees in about 1.5 hrs. I'd say allow 20 minutes per pound. After it reaches 140, remove it from the oven and tent it loosely with foil, and it will rise by another 5 degrees.

Add your roasting vegetables accordingly--about 45 minutes before completion. I nestled them around my roast, tossing them in the oil, and then roasted them 10 minutes longer while the roast rested. Alternately, you could use the drippings to make gravy.

Just slice thinly across the grain, and dinner is served!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Enchiladas Verdes

Well, we can't have a red enchilada recipe without a green enchilada recipe! Heck, we even have a half-assed mole enchilada recipe. I took it upon myself to make these from scratch, since it seems like there are always tomatillos for sale around here, and my food processor is working again. You can use canned sauce instead, if you like.

Salsa Verde

1.5 lbs (6-7) tomatillos
1 large onion
2-4 chiles verdes
3 cloves garlic
1 lime, juiced
1 small handful cilantro
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. salt, or to taste
1 tsp. sugar, or to taste
1 c. chicken broth, with extra chicken boullion added

Remove tomatillo husks and cut onion in half. Place tomatillos, onion, and chiles underneath the broiler (or on the grill) to roast, turning a few times as needed. When they have lots of brown, roasty edges, remove them and let cool. Remove the roasted skin from the chiles.

Feed all sauce ingredients into food processor and process until you have a chunky-smooth sauce. You will probably have sauce left over, and it's great on chips, tacos, etc...

Enchilada Filling

This can be whatever you want, even just plain chicken. I'm posting what I used most recently.

3 c. cooked chicken, pulled apart
1 c. cooked chorizo
3 green onions, diced
3/4 lb. melty white cheese, shredded + 1/4 c. for topping
1/2 c. sour cream
chicken broth to make the filling moist and mixable, if needed
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Combine filling ingredients. Heat 15-18 corn tortillas in a small amount of oil until they soften. Grease a large, flat baking pan, and then spread a layer of salsa verde on the bottom. Place a reasonable amount of filling on a tortilla, roll it up (don't bother tucking the ends in), and place it seam-down in the pan. Pack the tortillas into the pan (this recipe made enough enchiladas to fill my pan, which holds 15 tortillas, plus some extra). Smother with salsa verde and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes until they are heated through and the cheese is bubbly and browned.

Note: I don't bother with the tortilla-dipping step for this recipe--since this is a moist filling, I don't think it needs it. If you are using only plain meat or meat+onions for the filling, you will want to dip the tortillas before rolling them up.

Serve with more salsa verde, because it's so damn good!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Cottage Cheese Pancakes

These are delicious and a nice break from flour-based pancakes. I have noticed a nice assortment of organic and high-quality brands of cottage cheese at the coop, and had sort of forgotten about keeping it on hand. A couple spoonfuls are a great pick-me-up in the afternoon or before dinner is ready.

This recipe was found on the internet, with a few adjustments, but this is how I did it:

1 cup oatmeal*
1 cup cottage cheese
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon

*I ran the oatmeal through the food processor first to break it down a little - if you have the quick-cooking variety you shouldn't have to do this first.

Put all ingredients into food processor, blast a few times, and set aside. It will get thicker from standing.

On a medium hot non-stick or lightly oiled griddle, make silver dollar-size pancakes; turn when slightly bubbly. Cook a little longer on side two.

Serve with your favorite topping. I used cooked apples (baked ahead of time with a wee bit of sugar and cinnamon). They are a lot more filling than they look!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Turnips (or Cauliflower) with Parsley

I originally got this recipe for 'navets persilles' from the Julie/Julia project. In the original the turnips are par-boiled and then cooked again for 30 minutes. I don't usually blanch the turnips before boiling them, and I find they usually cook in less time (especially if they are fresh from the garden and not the hardened, wax-coated things you find in the store). Nowadays I make this more frequently with cauliflower than turnips, though I think any dense vegetable would work. Parsnips, celeriac, carrots, etc... It's so simple it barely calls for a recipe.

3-4 c. of a dense root vegetable or cauliflower, in chunks
salted, boiling water
3-4 Tbsp. butter
lemon juice
chopped parsley
freshly ground black pepper
Aleppo pepper flakes or paprika (optional)

Boil the vegetables in well-salted water until tender. Toss with the remaining ingredients. Be careful with the lemon juice, so you don't add too much--usually one half of a lemon, gently squeezed, is enough.

Cilantro Chutney

You know what they say about the importance of food presentation...wait, what is it they say?

This zingy green sauce is often served with Afghani food. It's sort of a Central Asian version of pesto, though it does not contain oil. It's easy to make and keeps well. It's great on grilled meat, or anything really. You will need a blender or food processor.

1 large bunch cilantro or 2 smaller bunches
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed
3 garlic cloves
4 walnuts
1 c. white vinegar
1 Tbsp. salt
1-2 Tbsp. sugar, to taste

Chop the cliantro, hot pepper, garlic, and wanuts in a food processor, until very fine. Add vinegar, salt, and sugar to taste. Alternately, combine all ingredients in a blender at once and blend until fine. Makes a watery chutney that tastes best after it sits for a couple of hours. Store in a tightly closed container in the fridge--should last for several weeks.

You can add some lemon or lime juice, but do not substitute it entirely for the vinegar, which gives an important sharp flavor to the sauce. The spiciness can be scaled up or down, depending on the type of peppers used and how many of them you include.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Soup)

Not a quick weeknight meal, but well worth it in the end!

If you've ever ordered pho ga at a restaurant, you've probably found it to be an under-flavored, pale shadow of the classic pho bo (beef). Instead, try making it at home, where you can crank up the flavor and have as much garnish as you want! This is especially good if you are cooking for a crowd. There's a lot of prep, but it's worth it in the end. I recommend using a pressure cooker to speed up the process.

Broth:

1 whole chicken
(optional: add extra chicken backs, feet, or necks for more flavor)
2 2-3" cinnamon sticks (ideally Vietnamese cassia type)
6 pieces star anise
2-3 onions (save 1/2 for the garnish)
4" piece of ginger
6 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp. whole black peppercorns
6 whole cloves, separated and slightly crushed
4 Tbsp. fish sauce, divided
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
ground black pepper
salt

Slice the onion into halves and do the same to the ginger root. Place them in the bottom of your stockpot, with no oil. Bring the heat to medium to roast the ginger and onion so they start to turn almost black in places. Meanwhile, roast the cinnamon, anise, cloves, and peppercorns in a small dry pan until they begin to release their aroma--but don't let them burn! Add the chicken, garlic, and roasted spices to the stock pot and cover with cold water. Add 2 Tbsp. of the fish sauce and the brown sugar. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 1.5-2 hrs, or pressure cook for 35 minutes.

Drain the stock off, set the chicken aside to cool, and throw away the used seasonings. Before serving, heat the stock back up to a low boil. Add the remaining fish sauce, some ground black pepper, and adjust the flavor with salt. Make the broth a little stronger than you'd like, since the noodles will need a lot of flavor.

If you are going to serve it all immediately, add in some green onion and cilantro from the garnish (see below). If you are going to freeze some of the stock for later use, do that before adding the fresh herbs.

Serving:

Use whichever fresh ingredients you like. The top items in the list are the most essential.

rice stick noodles (ban pho)
red onion, thinly sliced
green onion, sliced
cilantro, stems removed
mung bean sprouts
Thai basil
jalapeno slices
mint
culantro
Sriracha sauce
Hoisin sauce
fish sauce

When cool enough to handle, remove the chicken from the bone and shred it with your fingers.

Cook the noodles in plenty of boiling water for ~5 minutes, until al dente. Drain off the hot water, then add cold water (you may need to repeat the draining and filling) until the noodles are cool enough to handle. Pinch up a scoop of noodles between your thumb and forefinger, and wrap the noodles around your fingers to form a birdsnest shape a little smaller than your fist. Place the noodle bundle in a colander to drain. This way, when the noodles cool down and stick together, they will be in serving-sized bundles instead of a big congealed mess.

Place into each bowl a noodle bundle, sliced onion, green onion, cilantro, and chicken. Add plenty of broth (the noodles will absorb some). Garnish with beansprouts, additional herbs, and sauces until desired flavor is reached. Enjoy!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Buttermilk Pie with Raspberry Topping


I baked this at the same time as a loaf of zucchini bread because they both used buttermilk and because if you're heating up the kitchen to bake one thing you may as well go on a baking spree. Buttermilk pie is a traditional Southern dish, basically a custard pie, and it's ideal for when the larder is bare. Since it's the height of summer I decided to add in some seasonal fruit, but this is a perfectly respectable pie without the berries. This pie is literally simple as pie, and there's no fiddly top crust to deal with. I got the basic recipe from the NPR website.

Preheat oven to 350

1 unbaked pie shell
4 eggs
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. melted butter
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
lemon zest (my addition)

Blend together the ingredients, but not so much that they start to foam. Pour the mixture into the unbaked pie shell. Cover the crust with foil so it doesn't burn. Bake for 1 hour, or until a knife comes out clean. The pie will puff up a bit, and the surface should be golden brown. It will fall as it cools. If you are topping it with raspberries, let it cool some, but it doesn't need to be fully cold if you are in a hurry.

1 pint raspberries
3/4 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 c. cold water + 2 tbsp corn starch

Rinse the raspberries. Place in a saucepan with the sugar and lemon juice. Mash with a potato masher and bring to a gentle simmer. Whisk in the cornstarch slurry and bring back to a simmer for 5 minutes. Spread across the pie. Cool for at least an hour before slicing.

NOTES: the topped pie and the plain pie are very different experiences. The plain pie is a subtle, but creamy and satisfying affair, perfect with some strong coffee. The fruit topped pie will be more dominated by the fruit flavor, but equally delightful. What I like about the buttermilk base is that it isn't as heavy as a plain custard or cream filling.

Zucchini Bread

How can we have so many recipes, and yet not have a family zucchini bread recipe? Part of the reason may be that it's a fairly modern phenomenon--I can't find a recipe for it in any of our older cookbooks. Another possibility is that the version in The Melting Pot is made entirely with whole wheat flour and honey instead of sugar--yuck! Another reason is that Aunt Etties recipe was ~90% nuts, which is also yuck in my book. Whatever the reason we don't have one yet, here's a good recipe that is unapologetically full of refined carbohydrates:

Preheat oven to 350

1 1/2 c. flour
~2-3 c. grated zucchini (one 12" zuke)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. garam masala

2 eggs
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. oil
1 tsp. vanilla

Sprinkle the zucchini with the salt and place it in a colander in the sink. Sift together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Blend the wet ingredients together in a quart measuring cup. Squeeze the zucchini out very thoroughly. Mix the zucchini into the dry ingredients, tossing it so that it is well distributed and coated with flour. Pour in the wet ingredients and mix together so the batter is just blended.

Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a knife comes out mostly clean. Allow to rest as long as possible. Ideally, let the loaf cool and then wrap in plastic wrap overnight before cutting.

You may notice I haven't included nuts. That's because they are gross. You can get crazy and add nuts, reduce the sugar, use hippie flour, but I am not responsible for the results.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Potato Croquettes

OK actually I call these potato patties (which might get confused with latkes), but you can be more lah-dee-dah and call this form of Operation Icebox 'croquettes'. It's really just a way to use leftover mashed potatoes.

Ingredients:

leftover mashed potatoes
chives or green onions, minced
bacon bits (optional)
spices, salt & pepper
cheese?
fat for frying

Combine the mashed potatoes together with whatever ingredients and seasonings you like. You can probably add cheese, but I don't because it makes a mess when frying.

Pan-fry the patties in fat until golden brown on each side. I use a nonstick pan and a shallow layer of fat, but you can go the whole 9 yards and deep-fry them if you like.

Your humble leftovers have now reached food Nirvana. Enjoy!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Swedish Meatballs

Herd tu feegoore-a oooot hoo I nefer treeed mekeeng thees clesseec Meennesuta deesh beffure-a. It ceme-a oooot greet! Börk, börk, börk!


Ahem....what I mean to say is that this is delicious, especially served over mashed potatoes with lingonberries or cranberries and pickles on the side. It's a fair amount of work, but very worth it in the end. Veal mixed with beef will give the best texture--the velvetiness of the veal combined with the heartiness of the beef. If that's not an option, use pork instead. For two people, halve the recipe or freeze some of the meat for later.

1 lb ground veal (or pork)
1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion
2 slices of white bread, crusts removed
~3 Tbsp. milk
2 egg yolks
2 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. allspice
pinch of nutmeg
copious butter and oil for frying

This goes best with a food processor. Chop the onions until very fine, almost puree. Mix in the meat and egg. Grind the white bread into breadcrumbs and mix it with the milk until just moistened, and allow to sit for a few minutes. Combine the meat and onion mixture with the spices and bread mush. I like to cook up a tiny bit at this point to test the seasoning.

Form the meat into tiny little meatballs (3/4" diameter) and place on a tray.

Heat the fat in a heavy-bottomed pot. I like to use mostly butter with a little oil in it to keep from scorching. Use a generous amount to keep the balls from sticking. Fry the meatballs in single layer, turning them so they brown evenly, removing with a slotted spoon when done. This will take more than one batch (~4 batches in a Dutch oven for a full recipe).

3 Tbsp. flour
1 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1 c. low-sodium beef broth
dash of dry sherry
1/2 c. heavy cream
2 Tbsp. lingonberry/cranberry sauce or some sugar
salt to taste

Once the meatballs are cooked and removed from the pan, make sure there is several Tbsp. of fat left (or add more butter), and whisk in the flour. Allow it to bubble and brown for a couple of minutes, taking care not to scorch. Add in the broth and sherry (amounts are approximate--gauge based on how many meatballs you have). Simmer until the sauce thickens. If it does not thicken enough, stir in some mashed potatoes or a starch slurry. Remove from heat and stir in the cream. Adjust the flavor with the berry sauce or sugar, salt, and and possibly a dash of pickle juice.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Thai Spicy Ground Beef Salad (aka Laab)


Here's another similar summer meat salad recipe, though this one has a roasty flavor from the toasted rice flour and dried chilies. You will wind up with enough rice flour to make this at least twice. You need a blender or food processor.

I got the recipe from Thai Food Tonight, which has many good recipes and helpful videos. http://www.thaifoodtonight.com/thaifoodtonight/recipes-YOUTUBESpicyGroundBeef.htm

2 lb. lean ground meat: beef, pork, chicken, turkey, whatever
1 1/2 c. water
1/2 c. white rice, any kind
10-15 whole dried red chili peppers
1/2 cabbage: green, red, or savoyed (or leaf lettuce)
4 green onions, sliced thin
1/4 red onion, minced
1/4 c. fish sauce
1-2 limes, juiced
1 small bunch cilantro, washed and chopped
3-4 sprigs of fresh mint, washed and chopped (optional)

Roast the rice in a pan until it is dark brown (but not burnt). Allow it to cool. Grind it in a blender or food processor until it is the consistency of sand.

Roast the whole red chilis until they are dark but not burnt. Grind them up using the blender/food processor, or chop by hand using a knife. They should be the size of the flakes you find at pizza restaurants.

Put the water in a large wok or deep frying pan. Bring it to a boil. Add the meat and cook until the meat is no longer pink. Drain off any excess water and fat. Remove the pan from heat (no more cooking after this).

Add 2 Tbsp. of the roasted rice flour, the green and red onions, the fish sauce, the lime juice, and the cilantro and mint. Add the roasted chili flakes until the dish is at your desired spiciness level (it should be hot!). Serve warm or room temperature, with raw cabbage leaves or lettuce to use as scoops.

Tasty with sticky rice and radish salad.

NOTE: Ultimately the roasted rice flour is optional, and this is still good without it. It gives it a nice complex flavor, though, and absorbs any fat from the meat that would make the salad gross at room temp.

Hmong Chicken Salad

Clockwise from the left: young coconut juice, rice, chicken (actually turkey) salad, ripe papaya, papaya salad.


Holy blazes I'm posting a recipe! Almost hard to call this one, it's so easy. However, it's a valuable use for leftover chicken or turkey, and it's served cold or room temp, so it beats the heat.

2-3 c. leftover cooked chicken, shredded
1 handful beansprouts
4-6 green onions, sliced
1 large handful cilantro or culantro, sliced
1-3 hot chilies, sliced
juice of 1-2 limes, depending on size
1 Tbsp. fish sauce
1-2 tsp. salt
~1 tsp sugar

I like to heat up the chicken a little so that the salad is warm, but you can make it cold if you like. In the picture I didn't have beansprouts, and it was still delicious. Just mix all the ingredients together and adjust the salt and sugar. If it isn't moist enough, add a little broth or water. It should be salty and zingy with a dominant cilantro flavor.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Dry rubbed grilled ribs

I thought I'd just post some outlines of how I like to do pork (spare)ribs. They take a lot of time to do right, but they turn out really well. I do the rub from memory more or less every time, but I find that certain things, like szechuan pepper, really add to it nicely.

Alex's Dry Rub:
1/2 c. brown sugar
1-2 Tbsp. Szechuan peppercorn, smooshed a bit in mortar and pestle
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp.+ salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. ground mustard
1/2 tsp. white pepper (I haven't tried this yet since I forgot, but it's probably a good addition)
1/4-1/2 tsp. cayanne pepper

Mix everything together, then coat the outside of the ribs. Let sit overnight wrapped in plastic wrap (unless you have a container large enough to hold a whole rack of ribs.

Cooking the Ribs:
So I know there are a lot of ways to cook the ribs, but the way I prefer is to just put them on the grill at a pretty low temperature for about 2-4 hours (the longer, the flakier the meat will be). It helps that my house has a fancy gas grill with a thermometer, so I can keep things pretty controlled. I just put the ribs straight on the grill, no tin foil, and I try to keep the temperature on the thermometer on the front of the grill between 250-300 degrees. I think you could probably replicate this in the oven, but if you're using coals I think you'll probably want to do some fancy stuff to make the heat more indirect.

It takes a long time, but it really doesn't need much attention - I turn the ribs every half an hour or so. The important thing is making sure to get everything started in time for the party.

Crumpets!

I've always been a big fan of crumpets, and so I spent a few days looking around online for recipes. Someone else appears to have done the same, and this recipe is based on hers but is hopefully a bit clearer. It might be worth noting that I also halved her recipe.

Due to the need for risings, etc, I'm not sure if this is a great breakfast recipe or not. Maybe you could make it the evening before, and then refrigerate the dough, but I think the best approach is to make them whenever and toast them later.

First, and most importantly, you'll need something to cook the crumpets in - a circular cookie cutter is good. I've heard tuna cans suggested, but every can I've seen of that size has a special bottom that is made for better stacking but which you can't cut off. It's better to get something a bit larger, like a can for crushed pineapple, etc. I recommend having at least two.

Ingredients:
2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. sugar
1 c. room temp milk (30 seconds in a microwave or so ought to do it)
1/2 tsp. yeast

1 tsp. warm water + 1/8 tsp. baking soda

More water

Steps:
1. Make sure the milk is not too warm if you heated it, then add the sugar and yeast. You can wait for it to proof just to be sure. Mix the flour and salt, then combine. Whisk for a few minutes, then cover and place in a warm place.

2. Let rise until doubled, then whisk for a little bit to release the CO2, then add the water-baking soda mix, and let rise again.

3. When doubled again, or thereabouts (a full second rise probably isn't absolutely necessary), start warming the pan you plan to cook them in. I found that I had to keep the heat pretty low, so as not to burn the bottoms. I also had one of my nifty silicone brushes in a small glass with some oil to help grease things. Start adding water and whisking vigorously until the batter reaches the consistency of a thin, smooth pancake batter. You need the batter to spread out once you put it in the pan, and you might have to test the batter in the pan to make sure it's the right consistency.

4. Place the cookie cutters on the pan, and use something to grease them. Put a SMALL quantity of batter in each one - if you put in too much, you'll get English muffins. I think the ideal quantity is around 2 Tbsp or so.

5. When cooking the muffins, you have to wait until the tops are totally cooked - if you flip them too early, you'll end up smooshing out the all important holes and reduce the butter holding capacity of the crumpet. You'll be able to tell when the top is done cooking by the color. Also, hold in mind that this means the bottom will be cooking for a while - make sure it's not burning, but it's good for the bottom of the crumpet to be nicely crispy.


This crumpet needs to cook a bit longer.



Now it's ready to be flipped.


6. When the crumpet has produced all the holes it can make, remove the mold and flip and brown the top briefly.

Enjoy with plenty of butter and jam. Makes 10-20 depending on the size of your molds, etc.


And here they all are:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Man Meat



I call this man meat because it uses ingredients that even the most consummate bachelor would have. Also, I think my step-dad John, who recently passed away, used to make it a lot, and he was truly a man's man. I hope you're taking notes, because it's pretty complex:

1 tri-tip steak
1 bottle or can of beer
Lawry's Seasoned Salt

Apply the seasoned salt liberally to the meat. Place the meat in a container, such as a zip-lock bag. Add the beer. Wait overnight. Grill the meat to desired done-ness. Eat.

Now if you're a pansy, you can get all fancy and overthink the recipe. What beer should I use? What if I don't have tri-tip? What if I have no balls? A real man would figure it out.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Roman Soup

I was shocked to see I hadn't posted this soup, which is one of my stand-by favorites. It's similar to 'Italian Wedding Soup', but I leave out the pasta and I call it Roman because it contains ingredients that the Romans would have had before contact with the Americas.

A big batch of meat broth, ~6-8 cups
A pound of ground meat, I like to combine turkey and beef
1 large onion
1 clove garlic
Fresh parsley, ~1/2 c. chopped finely
2 cups blanched kale, chopped (or other greens: see below)
Salt and pepper
A dash of white wine vinegar

Grind 1/2 of the onion and the garlic in a food processor or chop it very finely--almost pureed. Combine it with the meat and parsley and form into tiny meatballs. Bring the broth to a boil and drop the meatballs in, gently making sure they don't stick to the bottom. When they rise to the top, cover the pot and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the onions, kale, and seasonings and simmer 5 more minutes. Go heavy on the black pepper--the Romans loved that stuff.

You can spice this more if you like, but I like to keep it simple. Don't add the kale raw or it will make the soup too bitter. You can use any other greens that you like, and the more tender ones won't need to be blanched. I like escarole or kommatsuna for this soup too.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Chicken Congee

Congee is rice porridge, and is the Asian equivalent to chicken soup as a home-made remedy. It's easy to digest, versatile, and comforting. You can put virtually anything in it, but usually it contains some aromatics (ginger, green onions, celery), a small amount of protein (chicken, shrimp), some seasonings (white pepper, sesame oil, soy sauce), and a LOT of water or broth. You can also add green vegetables. I find most recipes include ginger at the very least. This recipe is great when you're feeling under the weather.
This is congee with ginger, smoked turkey (just for flavor, removed the bone later), bouakham nam sausage, tea eggs, tofu, and fried shallots. It's like Chinese penicillin!


My rice cooker has a setting for congee, but it can easily be made on the stove. You can start with raw or cooked rice, with the latter being much faster. The consistency is a matter of preference and depends on how much liquid you add (you can always thin it out more, so start thick).

1 c. raw rice or 2 c. cooked
~8 c. water
2 chicken wings and/or 1/2 c. raw chicken, cubed
1/2 c. Chinese (or regular) celery, chopped
1 thumb-sized knob ginger, peeled and sliced thin
1/4 c. goji berries (optional)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1 dash fish sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 dash light soy sauce
2 green onions, sliced thin

Place the rice, water, chicken, celery, ginger, goji berries, salt, white pepper, and fish sauce in a heavy-bottomed pot on the stove. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, stirring frequently, until the rice is broken down and the porridge is the consistency of thin oatmeal. If it seems too thick while cooking, add more water. I'm not sure how long this takes since I use my rice cooker, but it should be about 1 hr for raw rice, 30-40 minutes for cooked rice.

When the congee is finished, stir in the sesame oil, soy sauce, and green onions. Salt to taste. Serve as-is, or garnish with crispy fried shallots, chili garlic sauce, or whatever you like.

There are probably as many congee recipes out there as people in China, so look around for more recipes if you like it. They can be as simple as rice+water, or be complex main-dishes with many ingredients.

Note: I bought the goji berries on a whim (they are pretty cheap) and it turns out they are very nutritious and add a nice color to congee. They don't have much flavor when cooked, so don't worry if you don't have any (and don't substitute them with cranberries!).

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Wheat-tacular no-knead bread

This was an experiment I did last night to try to make a somewhat crunchier version of no-knead bread using ingredients I already had in the cupboard. It wasn't as crunchy as I'd thought it would be, but it was amazingly delicious. I was going to call it "multi-grain" but since almost everything in it is based on wheat (except the oats) it's really "multi-permutations-of-the-same-grain." But mostly importantly, it's delicious.

Ingredients:
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 c. oats
1/4 c. bulgur
1/4 c. shelled wheat/wheat berries
2.25 c. white flour
2 tsp. salt (this is really important for the taste)
1/4 tsp. yeast

1.75 c. water (the grains in here can be quite thirsty)

Steps:
Night before:
Mix everything together (dry ingredients first, then the water), cover with plastic.

Day of:

Heavily flour a cutting board, then use a floured spatula to get the muck out onto a cutting board. Flour the top of the blob, then flatten it a bit. Fold each edge into the center (left,right,top,bottom) adding more flour if/when necessary to keep the dough from sticking to everything it touches. Let rest 5 minutes if you're into that kind of thing (I forgot this step, and it turned out fine).

Coat a cotton, non-terrycloth kitchen towel in something that the bread won't stick to - I recommend corn meal, since I have had better results with that than with flour. Flour your hands well, and quickly shape the dough into a ball, then place the ball seam down on the towel. Put the towel+dough into a bowl to rise.

In 1.5-2 hours, or after the dough has approximately doubled, preheat the oven to 475. Put a dutch oven with a lid (or a similar heavy lidded oven friendly container) in when you turn it on, so that it gets preheated with the oven. When it's the right temperature, scoop the bread from the bottom and invert it into the vessel, so the seam side is on top.

Bake for about 30 minutes covered, then reduce temperature to 425 (I didn't do this, but many recipes suggest it) and cook uncovered until the crust is browned to your liking.

Remove, cool, and enjoy.

The loaf resting:



The all important crumb shot:

Tasso ham

While we're dry-rubbing-and-grilling...

I got this recipe from the chef at la Grassa, and used it for the Tasso ham sandwiches we sold at the Summit IRA release party. This is an easy one to keep in the memory bank for when you to need to pack a wallop of flavor, cajun style.

1) Obtain fresh ham or other whole cut of pork (despite being a recipe for ham, shoulder is actually ideal due to superior marbling.) Cut the meat against the grain into long, thin strips.

2) Bury the strips of meat in a cure of 1 part salt: 2 parts sugar. Ensure the meat is covered on all sides. Allow it to cure for no more than 8 hours; this is intended to be a quick cure.

3) Rinse the cure off the meat and pat it dry. Make the dry rub:

2 parts white pepper
1 part ground chile
1 part marjoram (thyme or oregano work equally well here)
1 part ground allspice

Cover the meat in the rub. Grill, slow roast, or, ideally, hot-smoke the meat. Make sandwiches, soup, etc.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Montreal Steak Rub

Grilling season has arrived! Here's a simple and popular rub that has delicious results. Sure, you can just buy the seasoning mix, but when you have a spice cabinet that can't fit one more jar, it's better to just make your own mixtures. Most of the recipes I've seen online called for dill weed, but I used dill seed, which probably has more flavor anyway. No measurements...just use The Force.

Kosher salt
black pepper
garlic powder
paprika
ground coriander
dill seed (or weed)
red pepper flakes

Pat steaks dry. Sprinkle with rub. Wrap steaks tightly in plastic wrap and allow to season for at least 1 hr. Grill or pan fry on medium high heat until cooked to your liking. These would be great with the fingerling potato recipe below.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Finger potatoes cooked in butter with garlic

This is obviously just a very simple way to cook finger potatoes, but I wasn't sure if it would work, and it did, so I figured I'd post it.

1 # or so finger potatoes, washed well
2 Tbsp butter (or more!)
~1 Tbsp salt
3-4 Peeled whole cloves of garlic
Pepper to taste
Optional but delicious:
Turnips, cut into similar sized chunks as the potatoes

Heat oven to 375. Combine everything in a baking vessel (I used a casserole pan), cover, and place in the oven. Every once in a while, you should shake the pan so that everything gets nicely coated in butter. Bake around 30-40 minutes - you want to err on the side of more cooked, since finger potatoes are better when they melt in your mouth and the skins get nice and crispy.

Serving Suggestion:

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Summertime



And the living is easy

Monday, March 29, 2010

Easy rice cooker sausage and greens on rice

This is a really easy way to whip up some dinner after a long day. The main weird ingredient you'll need is Chinese sausage. Here's a picture of one brand and a picture of the actual sausage in a package. Chinese sausage is one of the meats that I like to keep around since it keeps for a long time and you don't have to worry about it going bad too quickly - it also adds sweet/savory flavor to meals. You can also throw some diced garlic into this, but I don't think it's necessary.

You'll need:
1-2 Chinese sausages
5-10 leaves of a hardy green (Mustard, kommatsuna, etc)
1.5-2 c. rice
2x as much water as rice


Cut sausages into small (1/2-1" circles), then chop the greens into smaller pieces. Put rice and water in the rice cooker, then throw in sausages and then greens. Turn on rice cooker, wait 20 minutes and then eat. I recommend adding some soy sauce, hoisin sauce and sriracha.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Squash with Marmalade

This recipe was on a sticker on the cute mini-acorn squashes I got today at the store, and turned out really well (especially since I was using Melanie's homemade marmalade):

Cook acorn squash according to standard operating procedures (cut in half, remove seeds, put face down on cookie sheet in 400 degree oven for around 30 minutes until very soft when poked with a fork)

Flip the squashes so that the inside is facing up. Put a dollop of orange marmalade and a dollop of butter in the center of each half squash. Place under broiler on high until somewhat browned.

Enjoy!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Chocolate Bread (Pane al Cioccolato)


I remember getting this bread, or something like it, at Turtle Bread. It was absolutely fabulously delicious, especially when schmeared with mascarpone. The recipes (here and here) I derived this from are pretty complex, and give the measurements in weight and traditional cups/tbsps. I prefer the latter, so that's what I'll use primarily. If you want weights, feel free to look at those links.

The Night Before:
You need to mix "biga naturales" which are a form of starter. I think they recipe would be fine without this, but you might want to increase the yeast later:

1/4c. flour
1/8c. water
pinch of yeast

Mix, and then let sit covered at least 8 hours (or overnight).

Day Of:

Biga Naturales, cut into small pieces
3 c. flour
1 1/8c. water
1/4 c. honey
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. yeast
1 Tbsp salt

1/4-1/2 c. chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients, then knead for 5-8 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes. Knead in chocolate chips.

Let rest until doubled in covered lightly oiled bowl (around 2 hours).

Divide into as many loaves as you want (this makes 3 smallish loaves, or 2 medium loaves). Shape into spheres, let rest 20 minutes, then shape into the final shape. Score with 2-3 slashes.

Let rest until around twice the original size (the original recipe said 3 hours, but I don't have that kind of patience.)

Place a stout pan in the bottom of the oven with ~1c. water, and preheat to 400 degrees. The recipes online say it should take 20 + 20 minutes with a rotation, but I found it only took about 12 + 12 minutes, so just use your instincts.

Let rest at least 1 hour. Eat (I don't foresee this step being a problem)

I only made this once, so anyone who wants to post modifications is quite welcome.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hamburgers

This is not a definitive recipe or anything, but it almost always turns out excellently, and so I thought it might be useful to readers of the blog/family members as a good burger recipe. Using a lot of fresh onion in meat is a trick from Lillian.

1# Ground beef (if you use leaner beef, you it won't flame up as much, but it might not be quite as tasty)
1/2 onion (you can mix white and red onion for extra deliciousness)
2-3 cloves garlic
1 egg
1/4c. or so breadcrumbs
Several dashes of Worcester Sauce
1 Tbsp Pomegranate Molasses (Dibis rumaan) (optional)
S&P

Run the onion and garlic through the food processor, or mince very finely. Mix everything together. The role of the breadcrumbs is to reduce the moisture of the burgers so that they're workable, so you'll have to add more or less depending on the size of the egg, the moistness of the meat, etc.

When everything is mixed, form into patties - Lillian recommends putting an indentation in the center, which will "pop up" when they're ready. I mostly judge the doneness by the size of the burger (they shrink quite a bit). The onions in burgers will keep them more moist than they would be otherwise, so there's less danger of overcooking them.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Crazy Easy Fudgey Brownies

Made these for cards night and covered them in melted chocolate. The melted chocolate part didn't go 100% right so I won't post that part. The brownies themselves are delish, though. This is the Hershey's fudgey brownie recipe.

1 4 oz. bar unsweetened baking chocolate
3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) butter
2 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. flour

Heat oven to 350. Grease a 13x9 or 8x8 brownie pan.

Gently melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler or in the microwave using short bursts at 50% power. When the chocolate and butter are melted and smooth, stir in the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Add flour and stir until combined. Fold in chocolate chips or nuts, if desired.

Pour into pan and bake for ~35 minutes, until the center is just set and a knife.toothpick comes out of the middle almost clean (it will set up more as it cools, and it's supposed to be gooey anyway).

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Soup. In 15 minutes.


Tonight we decided to dine in. At the last minute. But, what kind of domestic goddess am I if I can't whip up something delicious with no warning? That's right. So, I bring you -

La Sopa des Frijoles Negras y Papas de Sabado

1 onion
1 large or 2 small potatoes
3 cloves garlic
3 cups chicken broth
1 can refried beans (preferably black beans)
1 can black beans
some pimentos or something similar, if available (for color)
1 cup frozen (or canned) corn
1 TBSP chili powder
1/4 tsp dried red chili flakes
2 TSP cumin
salt and pepper



Saute chopped onion with diced (tiny pieces) potato. Add chopped garlic and stir fry until golden. Do not let garlic burn. Add chicken broth and bring to boil; cook until potatoes are soft. Turn down to simmer, add spices and beans. Smoosh up the refried beans until they are evenly dispersed into the broth. Cook for a few minutes to blend flavors. Add corn and pimientos and cook until everything is heated and it tastes good.

Optional toppings: finely chopped onion, grated cheese, sour cream, small pieces of tortilla chips, often found at bottom of bag.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dan Dan Noodles


I think this recipe has every flavor your tongue can taste in it. Spicy chili oil, astringent and cooling Szechuan pepper, salty and bitter pickled greens, meaty pork, and just a hint of sweet and sour. Some of the ingredients may seem exotic, but many of them can be substituted with more common things. This recipe is easily scaled for however many people are eating and for individual tastes, as you add the seasoning to each bowl individually. I make lots of the pork topping and freeze it for later use, because the other items are in my cupboard all the time. It is based on this YouTUBE recipe.

Pork Mixture

1 lb. ground pork
1/2 c. Chinese pickled vegetable/cabbage
1/2 c. chopped bamboo shoots
salt

Brown the ground pork with a few pinches salt. Rinse the pickled vegetable and squeeze out the excess water. Chop finely. Add the vegetable and bamboo shoots and heat through. If you don't have the pickled vegetable (you can find it in a can at the Asian store), add finely chopped cabbage or mustard greens and extra salt. Bamboo shoots can be omitted.

Sauce

This recipe is for one bowl's worth. To scale up to more bowls, just add the same thing to each bowl, accommodating for the eater's taste.

1 bundle round noodles, typically wheat, though rice or yam would be good
1 c. hot chicken broth
2 Tbsp. light soy sauce
1 Tbsp. Chinese black vinegar or balsamic
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. black sesame paste or tahini mixed with 1 tsp. roasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp. ground Szechuan peppercorn
1 small clove garlic, crushed
dash of chili oil, to taste
sliced green onions for garnish

While boiling noodles, combine all sauce ingredients in each bowl. If you don't have black sesame paste or tahini, peanut butter can be substituted. Adjust proportions until the broth in each bowl has the desired flavor. When the noodles are cooked, drain them and scoop into each bowl. Top with a pile of the pork mixture and some fresh green onions. Enjoy!