Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Stir Fried Green Beans

These turned out so well (and was so easy), I thought I'd just put it on here for reference:

1 pound green beans, gross ends removed
4 cloves garlic, cut into slices
1 Tbsp ginger, skinned and cut into slices
2 Tbsp high temperature oil

1-2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2-1 tsp sesame oil
Tabasco to taste(optional)

1 Tbsp roasted sesame seeds (optional)


Blanch green beans until still crispy.

Heat oil in a wok until shimmering. Add garlic and ginger, and fry for about a minute, stirring constantly and not allowing them to burn. Add green beans and cook until the edges start to change color. Add soy sauce, sesame oil and tabasco, cook until the green beans have absorbed the flavor. Garnish with sesame seeds.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Sauerkraut and Bratwurst Brötchen Sandwiches

I created these (with heavy inspiration from Kramarczuk's) for a German themed dinner party. I made the hard rolls from scratch from the Joy of Cooking recipe, though you could buy them for a faster meal. I couldn't help spicing them up, so maybe they have some Hungarian influence?

1 dozen small hard rolls (see below)
5-6 uncooked bratwurst
1 large can sauerkraut
1 large carrot, grated
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
1/2 c. white wine or vermouth
1/3 c. water
2 Tbsp. oil
2 Tbsp. sweet paprika
2 tsp. sharp paprika
1 tsp. dried sage
1 tsp. white pepper
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 Tbsp. salt
2 bay leaves

Hot mustard or horseradish from Kramarczuk's

Begin by browning the sausages whole in the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot.  Turn the sausage occasionally so that they brown and sear. Once they are browned nicely (they do not have to be cooked through), remove them from the pot and allow them to cool enough to handle. Chop them coarsely. Save the fat and drippings in the pot.

Meanwhile, drain the sauerkraut in a colander and rinse twice, then squeeze out the moisture.

Add the sliced onion to the pot and cook them, stirring occasionally, so that they turn brown on the edges and the moisture they release releases any drippings from the pot. Stir in the ground spices so that they coat the onions. Once the spices start to sizzle, add the wine and allow it to evaporate somewhat. Add in the sauerkraut, grated carrot, chopped sausage, and bay leaves, and stir to combine. Lightly tap the mixture down so that it sits on the bottom of the pot and pour the water over. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, checking and stirring occasionally so that it doesn't scorch. The ingredients will release more moisture. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

Joy of Cooking Hard Rolls

1/4 c. warm water
1 package active dry yeast
1 c. warm water
2 c. AP flour
2 Tbsp. vegetable shortening
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/4 tsp. salt
2 large egg whites
2 c. AP flour
Dissolve yeast in 1/4 c. warm water for 5 minutes. Add the remaining warm water, the sugar, salt, shortening, and 2 c. flour and mix well. The dough will still be very wet and shaggy.

Beat the two egg whites into soft peaks (honestly I'm not sure why this is necessary) and then fold into the bread. Gradually stir in the remaining two cups of flour until the dough is moist but no longer sticky. You may need to switch to kneading to get the last quarter cup of flour in.

Knead on a lightly floured surface for 7 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and turn it once to coat with oil. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled--1 to 1.5 hours.

Punch the dough down, knead it briefly, and return to the bowl to let it double again, about 1 hour.

Punch down the dough and pinch into 12 rolls. Knead the rolls lightly and roll them so that they have a smooth top surface. Sprinkle a flat surface with cornmeal and place the rolls on the surface for their final rising. Cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap and allow them to double again, about 1 hour. 20 minutes before baking, remove the plastic wrap to allow the surface to dry, and make a slash across each roll with a sharp knife 1/4" deep.

Heat oven to 425°F. Place a 9x13" baking pan on the lower rack, underneath where the rolls will go. Place the rolls on cookie drying racks, or a similar fine-gauge mesh rack and place the racks on the top oven rack. Pour 2 c. boiling water into the baking pan to create a steam source for the rolls (this will make them crisp on the outside).

Bake for 14-20 minutes until brown and crusty. Move the rolls around once of your oven heats unevenly. Internal temperature should be 190-200°F. Serve while still hot or reheat later for 4-6 minutes in a 400°F oven.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

I don't know what people did with pumpkins before they baked them into bars and topped them with delectable frosting, but I'm sure it was a sad era for humankind. Fortunately we have these bars! Super moist, autumnal spices, tangy-sweet, rich frosting. No better way to plump up for winter.

Note: these would also be very good (dare I say better? ) with Cooked Flour Frosting, which is not as rich as cream cheese frosting and doesn't require you to remember to buy cream cheese.

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease the bottom only of a 10 x 13" pan (allows cake to climb up the sides).

15 oz. pumpkin puree (1 can)
1 c. vegetable oil
1 c. granulated sugar
2/3 c. light brown sugar
4 eggs
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. salt

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
2 c. powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp. vanilla

If you are using whole pumpkin, be sure to puree or strain the cooked pumpkin so that it is smooth before use. I used a pink warty Galeux D'Eysines pumpkin, baked for an hour at 350°.

Beat together the pumpkin, oil, sugar, and eggs in a large bowl until frothy and fully combined. Sift together the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and whisk together until well combined but do not overmix. Pour into the baking pan and bake for 35 minutes (add 5 minutes if using a 9x11" pan). Allow to cool completely. For extra-moist cake, cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature overnight.

To make frosting, beat together the butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in the sifted powdered sugar until fully combined. Add the vanilla and beat again until fluffy.

Frost the cooled pumpkin bars and then watch them disappear! Note: you will likely have extra frosting--better make some banana bread to use it up!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cinnamon Apple Pancakes

This might not justify posting an entire recipe if it weren't for the fact that it was AMAZING. It's mostly a variation on Mom's original pancake recipe, but it's more than the sum of its parts, and is perfect for fall weather. They turn out really fluffy- you can make them with normal milk, but the buttermilk really makes them that much better.

2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda (optional)
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1-2 tsp. cinnamon to taste

2 eggs beaten.
2 Tbsp. oil or melted butter
Buttermilk (which combined with wet ingredients equals 2 cups total, so ~1.5 cups) or milk + 1 Tbsp. acid

1 large apple (I used one of those giant Jonagolds) cored and either grated or food processed.

Walnuts, crushed.

Combine wet ingredients with each other, dry ingredients with each other, then mix wet into dry until combined with some lumps left. Fold in apple. Pour the pancakes into a greased pan - add the crushed walnuts to the pancake before you flip it, like you would for blueberries or bananas. You don't have to add nuts (that would be the eunuch variation.)

You can serve this with more crushed walnuts on top, and applesauce if you like. I had mine with lots of butter and syrup.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Strawberry Jello-O Cupcakes with Vanilla-bean Cooked Flour Frosting

These cupcakes are completely bonkers. Moist, springy, flavorful, but not overly rich. They are based on my Apple Cupcakes recipe with a vanilla-bean version of Frances Frosting. The basic principle could be used with any flavor--and I've had it as a sheet cake with orange jello and mandarin oranges, which was fantastic. You can go 100% trailer trash and frost it with Cool-Whip, but I recommend the frosting variation below.

You can see the incredibly moist strawberry interior of a completed cupcake in the lower right.

1 recipe Apple Cupcakes (or other white or yellow cake)
1 package strawberry Jell-O
1 c. boiling water
12 strawberry fruit snacks for garnish
foil cupcake liners with paper lining
pink sprinkles
~2 c. frosting (see below)

Place the paper liners in the cupcake pan, saving the foil liners for later. Fill each cup to within 1/4" of the rim. Bake as directed (22 minutes). Allow to cool to about room temperature in the pan.

Poke 10-12 holes in each cupcake. In a cup with a pouring spout, mix the package of jell-o with the boiling water until dissolved. Pour the hot liquid over each cupcake, trying to stay within the cup liner. Allow to cool completely for at least 3 hours in the fridge.

Remove the cupcakes from the pan, brushing off any extra Jell-O. Put the foil liners back on the cupcakes (if you're into appearances, that is). Frost each cake with 1/3" frosting and decorate with sprinkles and a strawberry gummy. 

Vanilla-Bean Cooked Flour Frosting

3/4 c. milk
scant 2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 vanilla bean
1 pinch salt
1 stick (1/2 c. unsalted butter) at room temperature
3/4 c. powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

Whisk together the flour and milk in a small, heavy-bottomed sauce pan. Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the beans and add to the pan. Add a small pinch of salt. Bring just to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, whisking constantly for 10 minutes. The liquid should be a pourable porridge. Allow to cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and then add in the powder sugar, creaming until light and fluffy. When the milk and flour are cool, beat in gradually, alternating with the vanilla extract. The resulting flour is light and fluffy, with a whipped cream flavor, but easier to work with and less likely to soggify your cake.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Apple Cupcakes

These are based on a Texas sheet cake recipe and turn out unbelievably moist and springy, ready for whatever frosting tickles your fancy. They have the added advantage of not needing the tiresome butter-creaming step. This recipe also makes a great sheet cake, but may need a couple more minutes. Makes 12+ cupcakes.

Preheat oven to 350°

1/2 c. unsalted butter (1 stick)
3 apples, peeled
1.5 c. sugar
1/2 c. buttermilk or sour cream
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt

Grate the apples into a bowl. Squeeze them dry, retaining the juice in a measuring cup. Add water (if needed) to reach 1 c. liquid. Place the juice and the butter into a large saucepan. Bring to a boil.

While mixture is still warm, whisk in the sugar, then buttermilk and vanilla. Allow the mixture to cool while you sift together the dry ingredients. When it is cool enough not to cook the eggs, whisk in the eggs.

Mix in the flour gradually, blending thoroughly. Fold in the grated apples. It will be a pour-able batter.

Pour into cupcake cups and bake for 22 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool before frosting.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Honey Wheat Bread

This is such a simple recipe, but it turned out just the way I wanted it to - almost exactly like Great Harvest's Honey Wheat bread, without the bother of grinding my own flour. I don't think their version has oats in it, but I like them and they tend to keep the bread nice and soft. This recipe produces two loaves, since if you're making bread by hand, you might as well make two.

Honey Wheat Oat Bread
2 c. white flour
2 c. wheat flour
2 c. oats
1/2 c. honey
1/4 c. oil (I mixed olive and salad)
2 Tbsp. molasses
2.5 tsp salt
3 tsp yeast
2.25 or so cups of water

Flax seeds
Sunflower seeds

Standard bread procedure: Mix, knead, let rise, punch down, let rise again, shape into loaves (I made two loaves), place in greased loaf pans, let rise a bit in pan, bake at 350 until done.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Chicken Pozole Verde

Pozole is a hearty Mexican soup or stew that come in several different styles (with pork or chicken, red, white or green). This recipe can be made either as a pozole, using hominy, or as a white chicken chili, using cannellini beans (or heck, use both). The tomatillos are optional, but add a nice tartness and more color.  You will be surprised that all the green chiles don't make it very hot, so feel free to up the spice level if you like. This serves 6 hungry people.

 This is the chicken chili style, which uses beans instead of hominy. 

3 lbs bone-in chicken, skin removed
2 large red onions, one half reserved for garnish
3 jalapeño chiles, one reserved for garnish
3 anaheim chiles
2 poblano chiles
5-6 tomatillos, husked
7 garlic cloves, crushed
1 heaping Tbsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground coriander
2 cans white beans or hominy, rinsed and drained
1/2 bundle cilantro, chopped
Salt and black pepper
Oil or lard

3 limes, quartered (reserve juice of one)
1 c. thinly sliced radishes
1-2 avocados, diced or sliced
Jalapeños, diced
Mexican oregano, to taste
Thinly sliced cabbage
Black pepper
Corn chips or tostadas
Sour cream

Salt and pepper the chicken breasts. Fry them in some oil in a deep frying pan with a lid. Turn them a couple of times and once they are nicely browned on the edges (~10 min), add two peeled garlic cloves and cover the breasts with water. Bring just to a boil, turn off the heat, then put the lid on and let them sit undisturbed for 20 minutes. After they are cooked through, remove them from the liquid and allow them to cool, saving the broth for the soup.

Meanwhile, remove the stems and seeds from all the peppers. Dice one jalapeño and half of a red onion and reserve for garnish. Use a food processor to coarsely chop the remaining onion, peppers, tomatillos, and garlic together.

In a dutch oven, heat more oil and fry the chopped onion-pepper mixture with the cumin and coriander until it softens and begins to brown on the edges and the moisture is reduced. If you are making white chili, and not pozole, blend one of the cans of beans in the food processor with 1 cup of the liquid from the chicken. If you are making pozole, remove half of the cooked onion-pepper mixture and process it until it is smooth (or use a stick blender) and then return it to the pot.

Add the chicken broth and beans/hominy to the pot. Pull apart the chicken and add to the pot. If you make it my way there's a lot of chicken and not much broth, but you can add more water/broth if you like. Add the cilantro and juice of lime and adjust the salt and pepper.

Garnish with onions, peppers, radishes, avocado, cabbage, oregoano, etc... as you like. Eat with tostadas smeared with sour cream.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Brown Lentil Soup with Cauliflower

Or "How to Make Brown Lentil Soup that Doesn't Taste Like Dirt".

Here in Morocco, Melanie and I have had the problem that we can't find anything other than brown lentils - she's asked locals, and looked around pretty extensively, and hasn't been able to find the much tastier red variety. However, after a lot of travel, we were desperately craving something simple and vegetarian like lentil soup, and so I did my best to come up with a recipe that wasn't just edible, but delicious.

1 smallish head cauliflower, cut into very small pieces
1 large carrot, cut into small pieces
1 medium onion, minced
4-7 cloves garlic, peeled but whole
2 Tbsp olive oil

1.5-2.5 c. brown lentils, picked over and cleaned if they're sketchy
Water or broth sufficient for the quantity of lentils (I always just eyeball this)
2-3 bay leaves (depending on size and quality)
1/2 tsp cumin (optional)

Parsley (flat leaf is best), minced, 1-2 tsp per bowl of soup
Lemon wedges


Start by sauteeing the onion and garlic in the olive oil on medium heat in a pressure cooker or heavy bottomed soup pan, then add the carrots, and then the cauliflower. Cook until everything is getting nicely browned around the edges, but without burning. Add the lentils, water/broth, cumin, and a good amount of both salt and papper. If you're using a pressure cooker, cover, wait until it comes to pressure, and then cook 20 minutes. If you're using a normal pot, simmer covered until the lentils are quite soft.

We don't have an immersion blender, but if you like you can blend the soup when it's finished cooking.

Serve the soup garnished with parsley, with lemon wedges on the side. The parsley really isn't optional - it makes the soup that much more delicious and fresh. It makes a soup that seems wintery much more summery.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I found this recipe partly by experimentation, partly by accident. Baking while distracted, I accidentally added too much flour, which gave the cookies more body and kept them from spreading out too much. I intentionally used part shortening to further prevent spreading, and some corn syrup to keep them moist. I drizzled them with leftover chocolate glaze from Chocolate Meringue Gondolas.

If you click to enlarge this picture the cookies look more delicious.

Preheat oven to 375° and place parchment paper on two baking sheets.

1 lb. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
4 oz. unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
4 oz. shortening, softened
3/4 c. white sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. light corn syrup
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used half white chocolate)
1/2 c. roasted walnuts, finely chopped

Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and shortening until they are smooth and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Beat in the sugar and corn syrup until well combined and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until fully combined.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and combine well with a spatula. Fold in the chocolate chips and nuts.

Lightly roll the dough into golf-ball sized balls and place them 1" or more apart on the cookie sheets. Bake 8-9 minutes, or until the bottom has just started to turn very light brown and when you slide a spatula under the cookie it lifts up without bending and breaking in the middle. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the pan for 5 minutes. If you want to glaze them, wait until they are fully cool. Store in an air-tight container.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Chocolate Meringue Gondolas

This recipe is from Great Cookies by Carole Walters. The results are light, delectable, and wheat-free. Great for after a heavy meal when you want a touch of sweetness, and perfect for Passover.

Preheat oven to 275°, with racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.


2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, broken into pieces
4 large egg whites at room temp
1/8 tsp. salt
1 c. superfine sugar, divided
1/2 tsp. vanilla

For the meringues, chop the unsweetened chocolate in the food processor until fine. I found putting the chocolate in the freezer for 15 minutes helped keep it cool.

Place the egg whites in a large bowl and beat at medium until frothy. Add the salt, increase the speed, and beat until it forms firm peaks. Add 2/3 c. sugar, 1 Tbsp. at a time. Add the vanilla and beat 1 minute more until it forms stiff peaks.

Fold in the remaining 1/3 cup sugar in four additions, then fold in the chopped chocolate.

Form 'quenelles' (little football shapes) with the meringue by passing the mixture between two spoons and place them on the parchment 2" apart. I believe that using a pastry bag to pipe them out would work too. Hell, just blob them on to the parchment if you want.

Start baking both pans at the same time. Bake 50 minutes until firm and crisp, rotating the sheets partway through cooking. Turn off the oven and leave the door closed and pans inside for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand 5 minutes before taking the cookies off the sheet.


4 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
2 Tbsp. half and half
1 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. hot water
3/4 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. chopped unsalted pistachios

In a microwave safe bowl (you can also do this in a heavy-bottomed pan on the stove), heat the chocolate at 50% in 60 second bursts until the chocolate melts and is stir-able. Add the half and half and heat again at 50% for 30 second bursts until it blends well when stirred. Add the honey, hot water, and vanilla.

Drizzle onto the meringues and then sprinkle with the pistachios. Try to find the unsalted ones because they have a more vibrant green. Allow the chocolate to cure on the cookies for 2 hours before eating.

Pasta Fazool (pasta e fagioli)

This is the perfect, quick one-dish meal. You don't even need to add meat (it's good though)! It's great for using spring vegetables and cupboard staples. You could probably eat this for every meal for the rest of your life and not experience any nutritional deficiencies.

1 lb. loose Italian sausage
1 can cannellini beans
1/2 box chunky pasta
1 bunch broccoli raab (rapini)
1 onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 c. grated hard cheese
3 Tbsp. Italian parsley, chopped
Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Cook up the sausage in a large frying pan. Meanwhile boil a large pot of well-salted water. Immerse the raab in the water for 1-2 minutes until it is bright green and tender. Remove with tongs and immerse in cold water to stop the cooking. Drain well and chop. Using the same water, boil the pasta until cooked and drain.

Add the onion to the sausage and cook until it starts to become tender. Add the beans, chopped raab, crushed garlic, and parsley and stir until heated through. Add the cooked pasta and toss to combine. Turn off the heat and add the cheese and season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

On aioli

I tried to write this as a comment to Lillian's post on mayonnaise sandwiches or something, but then it was way too long. So here is a good start on what you need to know about making aioli, though there is plenty left un-said.

This is a base-line aioli recipe that I have used in restaurants:

1 egg yolk
~1/2 clove garlic
1 cup oil
pinch salt
squeeze lemon
~1TB water

On emulsification: There are a few different kinds of emulsification, achieved via different emulsifiers. The compounds in egg yolks are what we would consider true, or chemical emulsifiers, as they actually bond to fat molecules, keeping them separate from one another in a matrix of water. When the fat in your mixture does all run together, it is "broken," meaning that you have a puddle of liquid with a big oil slick on top; not aioli. As oil exhibits cohesive properties, it does not want to be parted from itself once it has been allowing to join together, so the key, and the purpose of the slow addition of the oil, is to imagine that you are in fact lubricating the oil molecules at all times with a surrounding layer of water. Fail to keep the oil "immersed," and you are done for.

Sciency scientist types have found that a single egg yolk is capable of emulsifying gallons of oil. The true limiting factor for the stability of your emulsion is the ratio of water to fat; no number of yolks will emulsify more than a certain quantity of fat into a given amount of water. Thus, we start the aioli both with some of the lemon you will be using for flavor, and an additional quantity of water for insurance. While it is possible to emulsify 1 cup of oil into a bit of lemon juice with a single yolk, this typically results in an extremely stiff aioli, which is somewhat unpleasant on the palate, so you will want water anyway for consistency purposes. The basic ratio of this recipe is simple: 1 yolk, 1 cup oil, ~1-2 TB liquid (none of which necessarily need be lemon juice)

On oil: Say you smear 2 ounces of aioli on your sandwhich. That means you have about 1.5 ounces of straight oil that you are about to eat. If you use nothing but extra virgin oil, you have pretty much just ruined your sandwhich with the addition of a jigger of strongly flavored oil; hence, aioli tends not to be made with 100% EVOO. I have encountered two schools of thought on this; 1: using a blend of extra virgin olive oil and something more inert, typically canola oil; 2: using 100% olive oil, but something mildly flavored, meaning either pure olive oil or a super light EVOO, or a blend. In the former, I would go something like 60:40 canola:EVOO, assuming your EVOO is pretty good. In the latter, try to find a decent pure olive oil (which is to say an oil which is 100% derived from olives, but does not have a low enough oleic acid content to qualify as virgin/extra virgin, but is also not shitty enough to be classified as pomace oil).

Crush the garlic into a paste in a mortar or thoroughly smash it with the side of a knife, a saute pan, etc. It needs to be completely obliterated. Generally, you start your aioli with a little bit of garlic as it is a natural emulsifier, but you want to leave some aside to adjust so it doesn't turn into a garlic bomb. Generally, if I am making a 3 yolk batch, I would smash up 4-5 cloves of garlic, and ultimately end up using about half of that.

Combine the egg yolk, your starter garlic, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a splash of water in a bowl. Whisk the mixture until fully combined, and the egg yolk begins to lighten in color and soften in texture. This indicates that you have begun to denature the proteins in the yolk, which frees up the emulsifying compounds.

Begin adding oil whilst whisking vigorously. You really need to beat the shit out of it for the first third or so of your oil. Keep it moving, and really use the space in your bowl so that at no point is any one bit of the aioli in contact with a significant quantity of straight oil. This stage will take the majority of the time, say 6-10 minutes for a 1 yolk batch.

If all has gone according to plan, you should have a stiff, stable emulsion with 1/3 to 1/2 of the total oil added. Now is a good time to adjust for liquid, knowing that it will increase in stiffness as you add more oil. This done, you can add your fat much more quickly, provided your whisking arm isn't too tired to keep things in motion.

When finished, adjust for salt (way more than you think you need), garlic (way more than you think you need), lemon (not as much as you think you need) and additional seasonings (anchovy, pimenton, calabrian chile, seville orange zest, etc). It definitely needs to age a couple hours to mellow, but you should know that as a rule, aioli is thrown away at the end of every night, in every restaurant.

Whisk vs food processor: Keeping in mind that in Italy and France aioli is traditionally made start-to-finish with a mortar and pestle (not to mention that it is often solely assembled using the power of the garlic itself, and egg yolk is considered by some nonnas to be a cheat), a whisk actually starts to feel luxurious. In anything less than a 4-5 cup batch (which is a ton of aioli) I have found that a food processor is actually highly at risk for breaking the emulsion, as the addition of oil is less consistent, and the motor heats the mixture, thereby precipitating additional caution which can actually result in it taking longer. With experience, you should be able to throw together a batch of aioli sufficient for a single meal in less than 10 minutes, without causing a big annoying mess in your cuisinart.

Broken aioli? Just add water! Put some liquid in a new bowl, and begin by whisking a tiny bit of your broken oily mess into that water. It should form up into a loose but emulsified sauce. You can now proceed even more slowly than you did before, because hurrying is probably how you broke that shit in the first place, you slouch. Once your arm starts to fall off, you can really appreciate the merits of doing things right the first time.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Poached Chicken Breast

In our age of searing and encrusting and caramelizing, poaching has gotten a bad rap. But I defy you to find a technique for cooking delicate items that yields a juicier, more versatile product in less time, with less mess. True poaching involves an acid such as lemon juice or wine (or so Wikipedia tells me--who knows?), but I find that's optional with this recipe. Below is the simplest approach with fewest ingredients, but feel free to experiment with adding other flavoring agents. The recipe can be scaled up but be sure to keep the chicken breasts less than 3/4" thick.

8-16 oz. boneless skinless chicken breast
cold water to cover
2-3 tsp. salt
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed

Ensure that all chicken breasts are less than 3/4" thick, either by pounding them or by slicing or butterflying any thick parts of the breast. Place the breasts in a saucepan with a tight fitting lid. Cover with cold water and add the salt and garlic. You could also add wine or lemon juice, onions, celery, lemongrass, herbs or spices. Bring the liquid just to a boil--as soon as you see large bubbles coming up, turn the heat off and place the lid on the pot. Allow to sit for 15 minutes undisturbed.

The chicken will be cooked through but still very moist and tender. You can store the chicken in the poaching liquid or use the liquid for cooking. The chicken is great in recipes such as chicken salad, enchiladas, in noodle soup, with cheese on toast, etc...

This same technique can be used for fish, but I don't know how long to leave it sitting. I would assume only 5-8 minutes.

Joe's thoughts on poaching a whole bird:
This technique is actually excellent with an entire bird as well, especially when combined with a shock in cold liquid. Generally, the shocking step is highly recommended, as it relaxes the muscle fibers, further inhibiting moisture loss. You can then very gently re-warm the meat to serving temp, without further cooking it.

In chinese cookery, the chicken is plunged into boiling water and shocked in cold several times in order to gradually and evenly cook it through; almost a poach-braise. White rice is subsequently prepared with the chickeny poaching water. Combine with piquant condiments such as XO sauce and chile paste for some of the best white food ever.

Also: the above is for so-called "white" poached chicken. "Red" chicken calls for tinting the poaching liquid with soy, and usually xiaoxing (aka Shaoxing) wine, for the element of acidity described in the original post (although I am unfamiliar with the definition of poaching which requires acidity?).

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Roast Beef, Garlic Aioli, and Roasted Red Pepper Sandwiches

I never would have expected that one of the best meals I ever made would be a sandwich. Of course, the roast beef could be served as-is or with a sauce, but combined with the aioli (garlic and olive oil mayonnaise) and served on a roll with some roasted red peppers it's outstanding. This is a case when 'slow food' really pays off.

The white bits on top are real provolone, which doesn't slice well, but tastes great.

Roast Beef

3 lb. rump roast, rolled with butcher's twine
~1.5 quarts of warm water
3 Tbsp. wine
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 c. Kosher salt
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 bay leaves
5 allspice berries
10 black peppercorns, lightly crushed
1/4 tsp. celery salt

Dissolve the salt and sugar in the warm water, wine, and Worcestershire sauce to make 2 gallons of brine. Add the spices. Place the rump roast and brine in a one-gallon ziploc and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 325°. Pat the roast dry and then coat it lightly with oil or lard. Place on a rack in a roasting pan. Halfway through cooking add hot water to the pan to prevent scorching. For medium-rare, roast at 325° for 30 minutes per pound (1.5 hours), allowing 20-30 minutes to rest. Internal temperature should be ~122° and rise to 130° as it rests. Remove butcher's twine and slice thinly across the grain.

Read Joe's extensive technique article and recipe about aiolis.
This recipe is an emulsion of water and lemon juice in oil, which means it can be finicky. It works best if you begin with all the ingredients at room temperature. Do your best to avoid 'shocking' the ingredients by adding too much of one thing at a time--be sure to drizzle the oil in very slowly, almost drop-by-drop. Also, some versions use only one egg yolk, but I call for two because they facilitate the emulsification process and make the recipe more fool-proof. Two yolks makes for a thicker sauce, but that makes the aioli stand out more on the sandwich--a good thing, because it's delicious!

1/2 c. olive oil
2 egg yolks at room temperature
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. cool water
3 tsp. dijon mustard
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. sea salt

Begin by tempering the whole garlic cloves. Either blanch them in boiling water for ~20 seconds or toss them in a dry pan over medium heat and roast until they start to brown on the edges. Place them in the food processor, add the salt and blend until finely chopped and combined.

Add the egg yolks and dijon mustard and keep the processor blending as you slowly drizzle in half of the oil, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides down. Add the water, mustard, and lemon juice and continue to blend as you drizzle in the remaining oil (patiently!). Blend in more salt if needed.


Ciabatta rolls, warmed
Roasted red peppers or chopped red pepper spread (can be found at Lunds)
Roast beef
Provolone cheese

Assemble sandwiches and dig in!

(Note for next time: I think this could have used a touch or rosemary, either in the brine or infused in the aioli oil.)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fettuccine Alfredo

Is this the true alfredo sauce? I have no idea, as I have not been to Italy. (Answer is: No, a true alfredo is just butter and parm. I wanted to make something with reduced cream, though.) This is, however, amazingly decadent and delicious and is made with simple ingredients. It also kicks the pants off of any pre-made alfredo sauce.

A meal that could possibly make vegetarianism bearable (hah!).

3/4 lb. fettuccine noodles*
1 pint heavy cream
3/4 stick butter
1/3 c. grated Parmiggiano-Reggiano
1/3 c. grated Pecorino Romano
Salt for noodle water
Lots of freshly ground black pepper

Place the cream in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil and then simmer until it reduces by half (about 25 minutes). Whisk in 4-5 tablespoons cold butter, alternating with the cheese.

Boil the the noodles in well-salted water until firm al dente (10 minutes). Reserve one cup of the cooking water and drain the noodles.

In the pan that you used to cook the noodles, heat the remaining tablespoon of butter. Add the noodles and toss them over medium heat until they start to sizzle. Add ~1/2 c. of the noodle water and continue tossing until the liquid is absorbed and makes a starchy coating on the noodle. Pour in the alfredo sauce, add lots of black pepper, and toss to coat and heat through (but don't heat for too long). Eat immediately--does not reheat well. Would be very good with asparagus on the side.

*Yes, I know that only making 3/4 of a box of pasta is fiddly, but I find that a full pound is always too much. Also you could probably add entire stick of butter, so do that if you really want to stick it to the (nutritionist) man.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring Rolls with Chicken Salad and Peanut Sauce

This recipe is actually a melding of two previous recipes: Hmong Chicken Salad and Fresh Spring Rolls. It would be hard to find something that isn't delicious in a spring roll, but this is a particularly tasty combination with a zingy, juicy flavor. I am also including the recipe for hoisin peanut sauce. This batch makes about 8 spring rolls--increase as necessary.

Chicken Salad Spring Rolls

8 banh trang spring roll wrappers
4 oz. rice vermicelli noodles
2 c. Hmong Chicken Salad
4 large lettuce leaves, sliced very thin across the midrib
1 carrot, thinly julienned
3" slice of daikon, julienned

Place the rice noodles in a bowl and submerge in boiling water. Let sit for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water. Cut the pile of noodles a few times with kitchen scissors.

Fill a pie platter with warm water. Briefly wet a wrapper in the warm water and place it on a moistened plate. Place a rectangular pile of lettuce in the center of the wrapper, then put a small amount of the chicken salad on top (the lettuce protects the wrapper from the chicken's moisture). Arrange the carrots and daikon on the wrapper and then place some noodles on top.

Roll the wrapper by starting at the bottom, then fold the sides over, and roll it firmly but gently all the way up. If you stack up the finished rolls, put plastic wrap between them so they don't stick together.

Hoisin Peanut Sauce

1/3 c. hoisin sauce
3 Tbsp. smooth peanut butter
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. water
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp. chili garlic or Sriracha sauce
chopped roasted peanuts

Combine the hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, water, and peanut butter. I find this works better if I warm up the sauce for a few seconds in the microwave. Stir in the garlic and chili garlic sauce. Sprinkle with chopped roasted peanuts.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bias Cut Green Beans

I've had asparagus cut this way, but it's not as fun to eat when you don't get to bite into the shoot. I think that green beans are a better application for this technique. They're a bit of a pain to cut like this, but boy they're yummy.

8-16 oz. green beans
1 red bell pepper
3 shallots
olive oil
dash of red pepper flakes
splash of white wine
ground black pepper

Boil some well salted water for blanching the green beans. Cut the green beans on a fine, thin bias. Blanch for 3 minutes or until they are just tender. Shock in cold water and drain.

Cut the red pepper into a very fine dice, and slice the shallots thinly. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan and add the shallots and red pepper flakes. Saute for 2 minutes and then add the diced red pepper and saute until they start to brown on the edges. Add the green beans and black pepper and stir for 2 minutes. Add the wine and salt and simmer until the liquid evaporates.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Massaman Curry

If you want a delicious and comforting curry that will keep you full for hours or perhaps even days, this is the one for you. It uses ingredients that are easy to keep on hand, so it's good in a pinch. It's more sweet than spicy, so it's good for the spice-averse. There are many ways to make it, but this is how I learned. You can make it with chicken or beef, though if you use beef you may want to simmer the meat in the liquid a lot longer.

1 lb. boneless chicken, cut into 1" pieces
14 oz. can of coconut milk
4 oz. can of massaman curry paste
1 large onion, cut into 1" pieces
1 1/2 c. potato or white sweet potato in 1" pieces
1/2 c. carrots, in chunks (optional)
14 oz. water or chicken broth
1/2 c. raw peanuts or cashews
3 Tbsp. palm sugar or brown sugar
3 Tbsp. tamarind sauce (can be substituted with 1 tsp. lime juice)
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
Salt to taste

Begin by cooking the potato in a separate pan until almost fully cooked.

In a deep saute pan or wok, heat the coconut milk until it begins to bubble. Stir in the curry paste and simmer it until the volume is reduced by half. Add the water or chicken broth, peanuts, carrots (if using), and onion and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the potatoes, chicken, and sugar, and simmer for 3-4 minutes until the meat is just cooked through. Add the tamarind and fish sauces. Adjust salt if needed. Serve over fluffy rice with some green veggies on the side.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Miso Sesame Marinade

Whenever I buy miso, I wonder if I could do anything with it other than making soup, especially since it often comes in absurdly large packages. Mysteriously, the package of miso I has some tantalizing tips about its use as a marinade, but no recipe. I poked around online, and the recipes range from crazy complex to just lame sounding, so I made my own version. I used it to marinate chicken prior to BBQing, but I think it'd probably be good with pork or even fish if you're into that sort of thing. It was really delicious, and I highly recommend it.

The ingredients are given in approximate proportions, but you should mix it to taste before putting it on the meat. This made about enough to marinate an entire cut chicken.

2 Tbsp miso (the kind you use will change the flavor of course)
1/3 c. warm water (enough to dissolve the miso)
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce

I didn't add any salt, as the miso was pretty salty as it is.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Spinach with Chickpeas

This is another recipe from Chef Ramzi's cookbook. Very easy to make, good on rice or with pita bread. Had a bit of protein from the chickpeas, which makes it a nice satisfying side dish (or main dish for skinny vegetarians.)

2 10oz packets of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry, or 2 pounds fresh spinach, blanched
1 onion, cut into thin strips
2 tsp garlic crushed with salt
1 can chickpeas, boiled for 5 minutes or nuked for 2
2 small, or 1 medium lemon (about 1/2 c. juice)
1/4 tsp cinnamon (or equivalent Arabic spice mix)
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt


Saute onions and garlic in olive oil until starting to brown, then add chickpeas and cook until slightly browed. Add spinach and spices, cook for a few minutes, then add lemon juice and cook for another couple minutes until the lemon no longer dominates the flavor. If it is too dry (i.e. sticking to the bottom of the pan), add a bit of water. You can serve it with fried onions and lemon slices if you like.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Chicken Parmigiana Revisited

Call it chicken parmesan, parmigiana, or parm, most of the time this winds up being a soggy, insipid dish. BUT--never fear, dear readers, I have improved it! The trick is to put the chicken (or veal) cutlets on top of the sauce, which keeps the breading from getting soft. I keep the cutlets small so that they have more crispy surface area and I use noodles instead of spaghetti, so it serves like a casserole. Overall, it helps to use high-quality ingredients for maximum flavor--the ones listed below are ideal, but you can use block mozarella, canned sauce, etc...

1.5 lb. chicken breasts
1.5 c. flour
3 eggs, beaten
1.5 c. panko crumbs
Salt and pepper
Oil for frying

1 large can plum tomatoes
1 large can diced tomatoes
1/4 c. olive oil
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 medium onion, minced
3 cloves + 2 cloves garlic
1/4 c. red wine
1 Tbsp. oregano
2 tsp. dried basil or a handful of fresh
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
Salt to taste + more black pepper

Noodle Base and Topping
3/4 lb. bow-tie or ziti pasta
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/3 c. ground Parmigiano Reggiano
1/2 lb. fresh mozarella
3 Tbsp. ground Pecorino Romano
1 c. blanched and chopped spinach (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400°. Butter a 7"x11" baking dish.

To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Sweat the onions with the red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt until the onions start to brown slightly, then add the 3 cloves garlic and stir until it becomes fragrant. Add the oregano, black pepper, and dried basil. Stir in the tomato paste to coat. Add the wine and use it to deglaze the pan. Puree the plum tomatoes, and add them to the pan, along with the can of diced tomatoes and the bay leaves. Simmer the sauce until it becomes thick, reduces in volume by about 40%, and loses its watery look--about 45 minutes. Crush the remaining garlic and thinly slice the fresh basil, and add to the sauce to simmer 2 more minutes. Add more black pepper and adjust the salt.

To make the cutlets, slice the chicken into pieces about the size of the palm of your hand. Pound to flatten. Sprinkle the pieces liberally with salt and pepper. Toss them in flour to coat. Heat up enough oil to pan-fry them. Dip the floured pieces in the egg and then dredge them in the panko crumbs. Fry the cutlets until golden brown, taking care not to crowd the pan. You can drain them now for use later, or place them directly on the noodles and sauce (see below).
Assembly instructions.

Boil the noodles in well-salted water until cooled al dente. Drain them and toss with olive oil, chopped spinach, and black pepper. Place the noodles in the baking dish and sprinkle with some of the Parmigiano and Pecorino. Ladle the sauce over the noodles, then arrange the cutlets over the sauce. Sprinkle the remaining grated cheese over the top, then slice the mozarella and place it over the cutlets.

Bake for 15 minutes until the cheese starts to brown slightly at the edges. Enjoy!

Finished product!

Kadhai Paneer

I synthesized this from a couple of recipes. It turned out pretty well, and we could use some more Indian recipes on the blog.

1/2 pound paneer or tofu
1 red and 1 green bell pepper, cut into 1.5-2" squares

1.5 Tbsp coriander seeds
2 dried red chilies
4-6 cloves garlic, minced

4-6 medium tomatoes (depending on desired sauciness), peeled by immersing in hot water
1/4" slice of fresh ginger, skinned

1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 Tbsp chopped fenugreek or celery leaves

Fry coriander seeds and chili peppers in about 2 Tbsp oil until the seeds start to brown slightly, then add garlic and cook until golden brown, taking care not to burn the coriander seeds.

Combine the stuff in the pan, the tomatoes, and the ginger in a food processor or blender. Puree well.

Fry the paneer in oil until browned. In the same pan, fry the bell pepper, taking care not to overcook them since they'll be cooked more later. Drain on a paper towel.

In the same pan, if necessary add a little oil, and then add the cumin seeds. When they start popping, add the tomato puree, turmeric and celery/fenugreek leaves. Let cook for about 5 minutes, or until reduced. Check for spiciness - you can add some cayenne pepper here, but it might be hot enough already - and then add salt to taste. Add a small quantity of water if necessary, then add the paneer and bell peppers.

I don't have a picture of the dish, but here's a picture of Manjula's version, which is one of the recipes I used (her version calls for fewer tomatoes so is less saucy)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Middle Eastern Veggie Ragout

I got this recipe from a cookbook by Chef Ramzi, which contains a nice mix of Middle Eastern and international recipes. I have no idea if it's an "authentic" Middle Eastern recipe, but it uses ingredients and techniques from that region. It's also really easy, uses simple ingredients and is quite tasty.

1 small onion, cut into thin strips
3-6 cloves crushed garlic (traditionally pounded in a mortar and pestle with salt)
2 zucchini, cut into circles
1 eggplant, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
2 medium tomatoes, cubed
1 c. water
1/2 tsp cumin (or to taste)
1/4 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)

In a heavy bottomed, wide sauce pan or dutch oven, saute the onion and garlic together on medium-high in about 3 Tbsp of olive oil until transparent, then add the eggplant and cook until it starts to get soft around the edges. Add zucchini and cook for another couple of minutes until they start to soften a little bit. Add the tomatoes and the spices, and cook until the juice is starting to leave the tomatoes. Add the water, and cover, cooking on medium until everything is reasonably smooshy. Serve with pita bread, or on vermicelli rice.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


I don't know if this is a true chimichurri: if you want a discussion of what that means, read here. What it is is a zingy green-ish sauce that's good on meat and fish. It's very intense when you first make it, but it will mellow in the fridge. I used the herbs I had on hand--you can certainly alter these if you like. I actually left out the oil last time, since I wanted to use it as an extra-zingy topping. If you are going to use it as a marinade, add the oil, which will help with heat transfer when you cook with it, and will protect the herbs from scorching.

1/2 c. mild olive oil or grapeseed oil (optional--see note above)
1/2 c. onion
3 garlic cloves
1 c. chopped tomatoes
1 small medium-spicy chili
1 bundle cilantro
1/2 bundle parsley
2 limes, juiced
1/4 c. red or white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. dried mint, or several branches of fresh
1 Tbsp. thyme
1 Tbsp. marjoram
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. salt or to taste
2 bay leaves

Grind the onions, garlic, peppers, tomato, and fresh herbs in a blender or food processor. Add the lime juice, vinegar, and dried herbs and spices. Adjust the salt and sugar to taste. Add more vinegar if you want it to be more liquid. Add the bay leaves and let the sauce mellow at least 30 minutes before eating, though it can be used for weeks.

Use the sauce as a marinade, and/or spoon it over grilled, pan-fried, or roasted meat or fish. Hell, just eat it with a spoon!

Clever readers may notice this is similar to two other recipes: Spiedies, and Cilantro Chutney. This differs from Spiedies by the addition of cumin, tomato, chili, and the fact that oil is optional. This differs from Cilantro Chutney by the possibility of using oil, the use of citrus juice, and the wider variety of herbs and spices. All are delicious!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Scalloped Potatoes

Hooray for cheezy comfort food! The key to this recipe is to slice waxy potatoes ethereally thin (no more than 1/8", ideally more like 1/16"). I accomplished this with the slicing side of my grater. I tried using the food processor, but it didn't slice them thin enough. Even if you can't get them that thin, it will still taste good, but the texture won't be as nice.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease an 7"x11" baking dish. 

1 quart very thinly sliced peeled, waxy potatoes (such as red potatoes or Yukon gold)
1 can Cream of Onion Soup
1.5 c. milk
3/4 c. grated Swiss cheese
3/4 c. grated cheddar cheese (mix cheeses together to form 1.5 c)
2 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. ground mustard
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. seasoned salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne

Make a roux: heat the butter in a small pan until it starts to shimmer, then add the flour. It will bubble up; stir frequently until it is a slightly browned paste, taking care not to let it scorch.

Whisk the canned soup, milk, and spices over medium high heat, until it starts to simmer at the edges. Whisk in the roux and continue to simmer until the sauce thickens. Stir in 1 c. of the cheeses, reserving 1/2 c. to sprinkle on top. Adjust the seasonings as desired.

Lay out 1 c. of the potato slices on the bottom of the pan so that they overlap slightly. Ladle a thin layer of cheese sauce over the potatoes, and then repeat, until you have 4 layers of potatoes and a layer of cheese sauce on top (only 3 layers of potatoes if your slices are thick). Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top, and sprinkle with some paprika for color.

Bake for 1 hour, or until the top is browned and bubbly and the potatoes are tender. The potatoes on the bottom of the pan should have formed a lovely browned crust (make sure they don't burn).

You can always spice this up a bit by adding chives, bacon, more spices, whatever. If you don't want to make a roux then you could thicken the sauce with corn starch, but it won't have as much flavor and it won't hold as well in the fridge (if indeed you have any leftovers).

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Yogi Tea (Chai)

This is a recipe* that I used back in the '70s BC (before children). I rediscovered chai recently and have tried many brands that are premixed. This is an easy-to-make, great drink for a cold winter day, and in the warm months it is delicious chilled. The directions are for stove-top preparation, but I seem to remember that I made it all day in my Harvest Orange crock pot. The final volume will be approximately 50% of the original volume. It will fill your home with a wonderful aroma.

Plan on boiling for 3 hours if on the stove.

Combine in saucepan:
  • 2 quarts water
  • 15 whole cloves
  • 20 black peppercorns
  • 3 sticks cinnamon
  • 20 whole cardamom pods (split them first)
  • 8 slices fresh ginger (1/4" - not necessary to peel)
Bring water to boil, add cloves and boil one minute. Add remaining ingredients, cover and boil for 30 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 hours. Remove from heat and add:
  • 1/2 tsp. regular or decaf black tea (1-2 teabags)
  • dairy or soy milk and your choice of sweetener to taste.
Let cool and strain. Store in refrigerator. If you wish, you may store it before adding milk and sweetener. Add it to the tea after reheating a cup.

I hope you enjoy this warm, spicy libation this winter.

*This recipe comes from Yogi Bhajan, who introduced Kundalini to the west in the late 60s. Recipe courtesy of yogayoga.com

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Moroccan Bread with Semolina Flour

Here's a recipe from Melanie - I know we already have an ok-ish Moroccan bread recipe, but this one is a bit more authentic. However, every bakery/family does the bread a little bit differently. This recipe is heavy on the semolina flour, while others are more wheaty. It's also our first family-made video recipe!

Here's a video so you can see the steps, with the recipe below.

Moroccan Bread

Makes about five round loaves of bread, approximately one inch thick and six inches in diameter.

1. Mix together flours. The below suggestion is my host family’s house recipe. I alter it by substituting some whole wheat flour sometimes; you can experiment with spelt if you like.

3 cups or 1/2 kilo of semolina flour (I use the Bob’s Red Mill variety from the co-op when I’m in the U.S.)

1 cup of white flour

2. Add the following to the flour mixture:
- generous Tablespoon of salt,
- about two teaspoons of seeds (I use white and black sesame seeds and anise seeds, but one could experiment with rye or other ingredients instead)
- about one Tablespoon of salad oil or melted butter
- yeast (I use about one packet or two teaspoons of dry yeast in the U.S. In Morocco, I use a couple generous spoonfuls of cake yeast.)

3. Pour some lukewarm water over the yeast, crumbling the yeast if using cake yeast and mixing it by hand in either case. Add water and knead bread until elastic dough forms.

4. Squeeze dough into balls about the size of a tennis ball, placing them one after another on a flat surface so that you can work with them in the order in which you formed them into balls (giving them a moment to rise and settle). This recipe usually results in about five balls of dough for me, but you can alter their size or number if you like.

5. Pick up the first ball in the line, and form it into a compact sphere by rolling it on a flat surface (or against the edge of a bowl).

6. Pour a little of the yellow semolina flour onto a flat surface (In Morocco, we use a qasriyya, which is the bottom half of a tajine dish. In the U.S., I just use my counter top). Set the first ball of dough onto the circle of flour, and pour a little more of the same flour on top. Now flatten the ball into a round circle, patting in a circular motion to create a round loaf of bread about one-half inch thick and about five inches in diameter.

7. Allow loaves to rise. In Morocco, we lay the loaves on a blanket and cover them with a thick coverlet to protect them from the cold. We leave them for about one hour before baking. In Austin’s hot weather, I can leave the loaves to rise under a light towel. In colder weather, I have tried letting them rise in a barely warm oven for about twenty minutes. I’m still experimenting for the best method.

8. When risen to about 1” thick, bake in oven about one-half hour at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. BEFORE placing loaves in oven for baking, run a fork over them (about five times per loaf) to make some holes to ensure even cooking.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sweet Potatoes in Chili Powder Sauce

This makes a nice combination of sweet, savory and a little bit of spicy, and is a really nice accompaniment to roasts and meaty entrees.

"Sweet Potatoes in Chili Powder Sauce" is probably not the catchiest name, but I figured "Southwest Style Sweet Potatoes wasn't terribly clear, and I made up the recipe, so probably nobody in the Southwest actually makes this.

4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-1" cubes
3 large shallots, minced
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4-1 jalapeno, no seeds, slice very thin, to desired spiciness. It's mostly just supposed to have a hint of spice
1 stick butter
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1.5 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt

Heat oven to 350.

If you have a microwave, to save yourself some baking time, nuke the potatoes for about 4 minutes, or until somewhat softened. You could also probably boil them for a little bit instead of the microwave. Note that you're not going for the same level of mushiness as in candied yams, more like the texture of home fries.

In a saucepan, melt the butter, then add shallots, garlic and jalapeno. Let sizzle until shallots are starting to turn transparent, then add the brown sugar, chili powder and salt. Let combine on low heat for a few minute, then mix the sauce thoroughly with the potatoes and put everything in a baking dish. Bake until the potatoes are the desired texture, which will depend on your oven, whether you nuked them, and the potatoes that you have. If you have a particularly woody seeming yam, nuke it or boil it more, separate from the other potatoes. The trickiest part of this dish is uneven cooking of the yams.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Vietnamese Carrot & Radish Pickles

These sweet-and-sour pickles are a wonderful accompaniment to many dishes, and are an especially nice contrast to meat-heavy or fried main dishes. I also like to add them to salads, sandwiches, and even instant noodles. You can also make them with red radishes, which turns out beautiful and zingier than if you use daikon. These are best made at least an hour ahead, and they stay good for several weeks in the fridge.

For 1 lb combined peeled carrots and radish:

1 lb. carrots and radish, julienned
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/3 c. rice vinegar
2 heaping Tbsp. brown sugar

After cutting the carrots and radishes, toss them with the salt and allow them to sit for 10 minutes. Drain the excess liquid and gently squeeze out the rest. Dissolve the sugar in the vinegar and pour this mixture over the carrots and radishes. Allow to sit for at least one hour before serving. Can be stored in a clean container in the fridge for several weeks.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

BBQ Meatballs

Where better to turn for down-home comfort food than a church cookbook? We had these at Christmas and they were delicious in an old-fashioned way. They're basically like meatloaf in ball form, and can be spiced up according to taste. From Elim Centennial 1883-1983 Cookbook, Elk River MN.

Makes about 55 1" balls.

Great with mashed potatoes and a veggie side.

Preheat oven to 375°

2 lb ground beef
1 c. quick cooking oatmeal or breadcrumbs
1/2 c. milk
2 eggs
1 package onion soup mix

Roll into balls and bake on a cookie sheet for 30 minutes at 375°.

1 c. catsup
4 Tbsp. butter
4 Tbsp. light molasses
2 Tbsp. vinegar
4 Tbsp. water

Simmer the sauce ingredients for 15 minutes. Mix the meatballs into the sauce.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Chicken Tikka Masala

I got this recipe from my friend Christine, who got it in turn from one of her students. I've adapted it a bit, and she adapted it herself so it's probably a bit different from the original at this point. I make no claims of authenticity, just deliciousness.


Chicken Tikka:
1 lb chicken breast, cut into 1-2” cubes
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp cayeanne
¼ tsp garam masala
¼ tsp fresh ginger
1 clove garlic
1 Tbl plain yogurt
Optional: 1 tsp aamchu (dried mango) powder)

Other ingredients:
1 large onion, diced
2 Tbl chopped mint (optional)
1 (8oz) can tomato puree (or 3-4 tomatoes, peeled and seeded, then pureed)
¼ tsp fresh ginger
1 clove garlic
2 Serrano chilis, sedded, and minced (or just one, this can be spicy)
¼ tsp turmeric
½ tsp cayeanne
1 tsp garam masala
1 c. cream
Cilantro (for garnish)

1. Mix Chicken Tikka ingredients, and marinate chicken at least one hour
2. Bake Chicken Tikkas at 375 for 30 minutes. Alternately, if you don’t want to use the oven (or don’t have one) fry tikkas until the outsides are nicely browned, then set aside.
3. Sautee onions and mint in 4 tablespoons oil, until onions are golden brown.
4. Add tomato puree and chilis, cook until the smell of canned tomato is reduced so that it doesn’t dominate the curry.
5. Add ginger, garlic, 1 tsp salt, turmeric, cayeanne, stir well.
6. Add cream, then simmer until you see the oily sheen on the top of the sauce.
7. Add chicken and garam masala and cook an additional 10 minutes until cooked through.
8. Garnish with minced cilantro.