Saturday, December 23, 2006

grandmas bread 2006

Made the bread today, per last years recipe, with some modifications:

  1. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hr 20 minutes (this was grandma's original specification)
  2. Made 3 loaves of bread with total dough batch
  3. Mix all ingredients, then split in 2 and knead in mixer; to each batch, add 4oz of flour
  4. Brush tops with melted butter before baking
  5. Brush tops with melted butter after baking


  1. Kneaded dough was still tacky, but not dry; probably just about perfect.
  2. Nice tender crumb, good lift & texture, not gummy/wet/sticky, but could use a more defined structure (springy with lots of little air holes is optimum)
  3. Crust was too thick and hard; needs to be more chewy

To try next time:

  1. Try baking at 375 degrees for less time (see #2)
  2. Try 375 temp with 35 to 45 minutes baking time, or until loaf sounds hollow when lightly tapped.
  3. Try placing loaves on baking stone on lowest shelf

Some info on Rye Flour (from the Baking 911 site):

"Using rye flour yields baked goods that are moist and dense, with a slightly sour flavor. The gluten in rye is similar in character to the gluten in pastry flour, which is low, so it is often used in combination with wheat flour (bread flour or all-purpose). The wheat flour is included in order to make a gluten structure strong enough to form a framework that will hold the gases released from the yeast.

Light rye flour can be successfully substituted for 40 percent of wheat flour in a recipe without loss of volume. Medium and dark rye flours should be limited to 30 percent and 20 percent, respectively, of the total flour amount.

Rye flour also has a much higher percentage of carbohydrate gums, which make rye dough stickier to work with than wheat, so don't add extra flour when kneading. On the up side, the substances which yield the sugars in rye that the yeast feeds on, break down very easily so they usually ferment well."

Friday, December 15, 2006


2001 Woodenhead Zin
I really like Woodenhead wines.

One of the best wines I ever had, in fact. A very memorable dinner with my lady featured this Woodenhead wine:

2001 Braccialini Vineyards Zinfandel, Alexander Valley. Medium dark ruby, fragrant, wild berry, anise, pumpkin pie spice and sage on the nose. Sweet blackberry, vanilla, cedar, spice and anise on the palate. Very forward, very big and rich, powerful, full-bodied, yet elegant. Killer juice! Alc. 16.8%, 417 cases produced.

Looking at it now, wow, very high alcohol! But it was hands down, "killer", absolutely delicious!

freezing infrequently used items

Some great tips for freezing things. Certain things freeze really well, and are convenient to use in small amounts:
  • Pesto
  • Pureed chipotle en adobo
  • Chicken stock
  • Tomato paste
For things that are really runny (like chicken stock), I pour the liquid into ice cube trays, freeze them, then pop it out into a freezer bag, from which I can get a few cubes as needed. Even better: if you measure out how much liquid goes into each ice cube, you'll know exactly how much to add to your dish!

For things that are really thick (like tomato paste), I cover a small plate or cookie sheet with parchment, spoon out some ice-cube sized globs and let them freeze, then bag 'em up as well.

Certain other fresh or prepared foods freeze really well:
  • meatballs
  • won tons or other dumplings
  • certain fresh berries
  • fresh peppers (red, green, even jalapenos!)

"da best" roast chicken

This is a roast chicken I made a few weeks ago, based on Tyler Florence's "Ultimate Chicken" recipe. The pan sauce is especially delicious!

Roast Chicken with Pan Sauce

5 cloves garlic, minced + 1/2 head garlic, trimmed so cloves are exposed
1/4 lb. butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 orange
2 onions, peeled and halved
1/2 bunch each: Fresh oregano, thyme and parsley
6 strips bacon (optional; I didn't use them)
1 roasting chicken
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper

Preheast oven to 425 F.

Remove giblets (liver, gizzard, etc.) from chicken cavity and save, if desired (gizzard is good for stock!). Rinse inside and outside of chicken well. Pat dry with paper towels, and set aside.

Finely chop 1/2 of herbs (oregano, thyme and parsley). Add herbs and minced garlic to butter, and mash together thoroughly.

Take some of the butter/herb mixture, and stuff it under the skin of the chicken. Take the remaining butter and rub it all over the outside of the chicken. Season inside cavity and outside with salt & pepper.

Stuff cavity with orange, garlic head, 1 halved onion, and remaining herbs. Tie legs together, and place in roasting pan. Add remaining onion and garlic cloves to pan.

Place bacon across the top of the chicken.

Roast for 25 minutes; then remove bacon, baste and cook for at least 25 minutes more, or until the internal temperature of the chicken meat reaches 165 degrees.

Remove from oven, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Meanwhile, prepare Pan Sauce.

Pan Sauce

Roasting pan drippings
2 tbsp. flour
1.5 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup sherry

Skim excess fat from roasting pan drippings (there will be a good amount of fat, due to the butter and chicken fat). Remove onion and garlic from pan.

Heat roasting pan on the stove, add flour to form a paste, and cook for about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in chicken broth, and heat until bubbly. Add sherry and cook for about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Carve the breasts off the chicken, serve (as I did) with twice baked potatoes and garlic green beans. Freeze the carcass to make and/or fortify chicken stock later.

TO DO (next time)

  1. Beckey thought is was totally delicious, but would like more garlic
  2. Skim that gravy fat! It wasn't terrible, but the gravy was a tiny bit greasy.
  3. You can really taste the sherry in the gravy. Reduce the quantity if it bothers you. Or, maybe add sherry first (to let it cook off), then flour, then stock.
UPDATE 2007-09-10

More tips:

Pour off fat completely. Use less sherry. Use sherry to deglaze cooking pan FIRST before adding flour. I think the sherry flavor is a bit strong. Or, try using a non-sherry wine, like a sauvignon blanc.

Monday, December 04, 2006

blue cheese for wings

So I've seen a lot of recipes for blue cheese dressing/dip for chicken wings, and every one of them involves mayonnaise. I tried using Miracle Whip (we didn't have mayo), and I abhor the sickly sweet flavor it provides. Might be fine for sandwiches, not for blue cheese dip.

So after some experimenting, I came up with one that appears to work pretty well.

Blue Cheese Dip

4oz of mild blue cheese, such as Danish Rosenborg, crumbled
1/4 cup plain yogurt
16oz (1 tub) sour cream
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp freshly ground pepper
2 tsp. thyme, dried
1 tsp. oregano, dried
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. white (or white wine) vinegar

In a large bowl, mash blue cheese and yogurt with fork. Combine yogurt mixture with remaining ingredients, and stir thoroughly. Adjust salt & pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to have flavors blend together. Serve with carrot sticks and fried chicken wings.

try increasing vinegar to 2 tsp or 1 tbsp.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Orange-Flavored Chicken

This recipe is courtesy of America's Test Kitchen. I'm always on the hunt for the best orange chicken recipes, and ATK has yet to really let me down in terms of overall recipe quality.

"We prefer the flavor and texture of thigh meat for this recipe, though an equal amount of boneless skinless chicken breasts can be used. It is easiest to grate the orange zest and remove the strips of orange peel before juicing the oranges; use a sharp vegetable peeler to remove the strips. For extra spiciness, increase the cayenne added to the sauce to 1/2 teaspoon. The whole dried chiles are added for appearance, not for flavor, and can be omitted. To fry the chicken, use a Dutch oven or a straight-sided sauté pan (with at least 3-quart capacity); do not use a 12-inch skillet with sloped sides, as it will be too small to contain the oil once the chicken is added. White rice and steamed broccoli are good accompaniments. "

Serves 4

Marinade and Sauce
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs , trimmed and cut in 1 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup
low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup orange juice , plus 1 1/2 teaspoons grated zest, and 8 strips orange peel (each about 2 inches long by 1/2 inch wide) from 2 oranges
6 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
3 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
1 piece fresh ginger (about 1 inch), grated (1 tablespoon)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch , plus 2 teaspoons
2 tablespoons water (cold)
8 small whole dried red chiles (optional)
Coating and Frying Medium
3 large egg whites
1 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups peanut oil

1. FOR THE MARINADE AND SAUCE: Place chicken in 1-gallon zipper-lock bag; set aside. Combine chicken broth, orange juice, grated zest, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger, and cayenne in large saucepan (with at least 3-quart capacity); whisk until sugar is fully dissolved. Measure out 3/4 cup mixture and pour into bag with chicken; press out as much air as possible and seal bag, making sure that all pieces are coated with marinade. Refrigerate 30 to 60 minutes, but no longer.

2. Bring remaining mixture in saucepan to boil over high heat. In small bowl, stir together cornstarch and cold water; whisk cornstarch mixture into sauce. Simmer sauce, stirring occasionally, until thick and translucent, about 1 minute. Off heat, stir in orange peel and chiles (sauce should measure 1 1/2 cups); set sauce aside.

3. FOR THE COATING: Place egg whites in pie plate; using fork, beat until frothy. In second pie plate, whisk cornstarch, cayenne, and baking soda until combined. Drain chicken in colander or large mesh strainer; thoroughly pat chicken dry with paper towels. Place half of chicken pieces in egg whites and turn to coat; transfer pieces to cornstarch mixture and coat thoroughly. Place dredged chicken pieces on wire rack set over baking sheet; repeat with remaining chicken.

4. TO FRY THE CHICKEN: Heat oil in 11- to 12-inch Dutch oven or straight-sided sauté pan with at least 3-quart capacity over high heat until oil registers 350 degrees on instant-read or deep-fry thermometer. Carefully place half of chicken in oil one piece at a time; fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes, turning each piece with tongs halfway through cooking. Transfer chicken to large plate lined with paper towels. Return oil to 350 degrees and repeat with remaining chicken.

5. TO SERVE: Reheat sauce over medium heat until simmering, about 2 minutes. Add chicken and gently toss until evenly coated and heated through. Serve immediately.

Secrets to great orange chicken (according to ATK):

1. Soy-orange marinade keeps chicken juicy.
2. Patting marinated chicken dry helps chicken adhere.
3. Beaten egg white acts as "glue," securing coating to chicken.
4. Cornstarch and baking soda coating fries up golden and crisp.
5. Frying in peanut oil produces chicken with fresh, clean flavor.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

homemade tomato sauce

Making pizza from scratch tonight. Made CPK dough last night, and it refrigerated overnight. Took it out today for 2nd rise, and when I went to check for jarred tomato sauce (I usually have a jar of tasty Barilla sauce on hand), I was out. So I decided to improvise my own homemade tomato sauce, and what do you know, it turned out dynamite! Got a nice bit of heat (but no "sting"), and well balanced flavor, esp. considering it cooked for less than 1 hr!

Homemade Tomato Sauce
Cook time: 1 hr
Makes ?? cups

1 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1/2 can (3 oz) tomato paste
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, small (1/4") dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. chili flakes
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. Worcheshire sauce
1 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. oregano (dried)
big pinch (1/4 tsp?) cayenne pepper
Fresh ground pepper and salt (to taste)

1. Empty tomatoes into blender, pulse about 5-6 times (for 1/2 second) to get rid of all big chunks. Should still have a few 1/4" to 1/2" chunks in it for texture.

2. In large stockpot, heat 3 tbsp. olive oil on medium heat. Add onions, chili flakes and some black pepper, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook stirring occasionally for 3 minutes...don't let anything burn! Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes, until garlic releases its aroma (but don't let it brown!).

3. Add tomatoes and tomato paste, and turn heat up to high. When mixture starts to bubble, turn down to medium-low or low heat. Add vinegar, Worcheshire, sugar, oregano and cayenne, and stir. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce reduces somewhat to a thicker consistency. Adjust seasonings with salt & pepper.

4. Reduce heat to low, COVER, and let simmer for 45 minutes.

5. Remove from heat, and serve over pasta; or, cool and spoon on top of pizza as a great pizza sauce! Cool and then refridgerate. Should keep for at least 1 week.

--add tomato paste when garlic is added, to "roast" it somewhat to enhance the flavor
--refine spice balance; check quantities of vinegar, Worcheshire, chili flakes, cayenne and oregano.

Monday, November 13, 2006

best chicken wings ever!

Made chicken wings tonight. My girl got her brace spacers removed on her molars, so she can now chew again. She really enjoyed these chicken wings and carrot sticks. This is one of the best wings recipes I've ever made. I've made wings a number of times, and this I think turned out the best for my taste. Nice crispy crust, still pretty juicy inside. This is a close adaptation of the "Hooters" wings recipe I've found on the web.

Best Chicken Wings Ever!

2 cups flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp black pepper, ground
Corn or canola oil, to fill at least 1" in pot

24 chicken wings (drummettes & wing pieces)

Wing Sauce (pretty hot)

1/3 cup Red Rooster hot sauce
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 tbsp Tabasco
1/3 cup butter, in 1tbsp pieces

Heat over to 250 degrees. Place ovenproof bowl in oven.

Combine flour and dry spices thoroughly. Add chicken wings to flour mixture, and toss thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at 60-90 minutes, tossing wings once at 30 minutes to re-coat.

In a large pot, heat at least 1" of cooking oil over medium high heat. Using a deep fry/candy thermometer, let the oil reach 380 degrees F and drop in 12 of the wings (1/2 of the batch). Adjust heat to high to keep temperature as close to 350-375 as you can for the duration of the cooking.

Cook wings until golden brown, 13-15 minutes (at least 13 minutes for well done). Remove with bamboo strainer.

Transfer 1st batch to warm bowl in oven, reheat oil to 380 and add second batch to fry. Turn off oven (residual heat will keep it warm.)

Now make the sauce: in a small saucepan, heat hot sauce, vinegar and Tabasco under low heat until warm & steaming. Remove from heat, and whisk in butter one piece at a time. Set aside.

Remove 2nd batch with spider, add to warm bowl. Pour sauce over, toss to coat and serve immediately.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Had my first taste of mascarpone cheese today.


Imagine like thick ultra smooth cream cheese texture with a flavor like heavy cream.

Mascarpone is used in making tiramisu, but can be mixed with sugar for a sweet topping, or added to sauces to add creaminess.

I tried making a sugar-glazed apple dish. Some things I would do differently.

Here's my conceptual recipe:

Glazed Calvados-spiked Apples with Lemon Mascarpone Cream

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cinammon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
pinch of salt?

2 tart apples (such as Granny Smith), sliced

1/4 cup Calvados or apple brandy

1/2 pkg mascarpone cheese
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a large bowl, combine sugar, cinammon and nutmeg and salt, and combine well. Add sliced apples to bowl and toss in sugar mixture.

Meanwhile combine mascarpone, lemon juice, lemon zest and sugar in a bowl, and with spatula, mix gently but thoroughly to combine.

Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add sliced apples to skillet, arranging in a single layer. Cook carefully for about 1 minute per side, so that the sugar carmelizes on the outside, adjusting heat if sugar or apples start to burn. Add Calvados and flambe until the alcohol flame disappears.

Remove skillet from heat immediately, and transfer apples to serving plate. Top with dollop of mascarpone.

What I learned:

  • Adding Calvados (raw liquor) to mascarpone was overpowering
  • Lemon may not be necessary in mascarpone; it would be interesting to taste this dish without

Sunday, October 08, 2006

scald milk

To scald milk or cream: heat until small bubbles appear around the edges of the sauce pan and steam rises, but not so the milk/cream is boiling!

Made a nice pulled pork last Friday. It took approximately 4 hours from the lighting of the charcoal to the pulling of the pork. Used Wolfgang Puck's rub, and America's Test Kitchen recipe. Smoked over mesquite charcoal and hickory chunks for about 3 hours. Roasted in a covered pan in the oven at 325 for another 2 hours. Deelicious, especially the ATK Mustard Sauce.

Last night we went out to a local wine bar, which was surprisingly good.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Indian-style Curry Shrimp with Yogurt

Here's what I'm cooking tonight. You can substiture chicken thighs, lamb or beef for the shrimp as desired. Likewise you can substitute tomatoes for the yogurt. Finally you can substitute potatoes, zucchini or green peas for the Indian split peas.

Courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen “Curries” episode, 2006

1/4 cup vegetable oil (or canola oil)
1 medium onion , sliced thin
4 large cloves garlic , pureed in a minichopper with 1 tablespoon water (about 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger , pureed in a minichopper with 1-2 teaspoons water
1 1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined; or 6 chicken thighs, skinned; or 1 1/2 pounds top sirloin or boneless leg of lamb, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
Table salt
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt; or 3 plum tomatoes (canned), chopped, plus 1 tablespoon juice; or 2/3 cup crushed tomato
2 bunches spinach (1 1/2 pounds), stemmed, thoroughly washed, and chopped coarse (optional) 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
2 cups water
1 jalapeño chile, stemmed and cut in half through the stem end
1/2 cup Indian split peas (channa dal), or 4 medium boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes; or 4 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, or 1 cup green peas
2 - 4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves (use the lesser amount if you've already added the optional cilantro)

1. Heat oil in large deep skillet or soup kettle, preferably nonstick, over medium-high heat until hot, but not smoking. If using whole spice blend, add to oil and cook, stirring with wooden spoon until cinnamon stick unfurls and cloves pop, about 5 seconds. If omitting whole spice blend, simply add onion to skillet; sauté until softened, 3 to 4 minutes, or browned, 5 to 7 minutes.

2. Stir in garlic, ginger, selected meat (except shrimp), ground spices, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and tomatoes or yogurt; cook, stirring almost constantly, until liquid evaporates, oil separates and turns orange, and spices begin to fry, 5 to 7 minutes, depending on skillet or kettle size. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until spices sell cooked, about 30 seconds longer.

3. Stir in optional spinach and/or cilantro. Add the water and jalapeño and season with salt; bring to simmer. Rduce heat; cover and simmer until meat is tender, 20 to 30 minutes for chicken, 30 to 40 minutes for beef or lamb.

4. Add selected vegetable (except green peas); cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in cilantro. Add shrimp and/or peas if using. Simmer 3 minutes longer and serve.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Tamale Pie II

Tonight's Tamale Pie notes:

Total prep & cleanup time: 65 minutes (timed via my egg timer)
Total cooking time: around 80 minutes

Recipe from the Cast Iron Skillet cookbook.


1. In my 10" cast iron skillet, there appeared to be too much "stuff". It's almost like you could cut tomatoes & chili in half, and it would be fine.

2. Last time I made this, I think I made the cornbread from the Albers Corn Meal box recipe, which turned out like tasty, typical cornbread. Beckey's biggest complaint last time was that the meat/sauce-to-cornbread ratio was too meager (too little meat to cornbread). The Albers recipe really plumps up, this one doesn't seem to as much. It could be my baking powder was too old.

Around 10 more minutes to go. It's nice to cook dinner for my sweetie. The tradeoff is that she has to set the table & do the dishes. I try to clean as I cook, so that there's less mess.

We'll get Beckey's taste results later.

(PS - Beckey really liked it. It was delicious, and leftovers lasted several days. It seemed that I left it in too short to cook; I had to put it back in the oven to let the cornbread finish for another 5-10 minutes longer, as it was uncooked/gooey towards the bottom of the bread).

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

salmon and lemony potatoes

I'm not a big fish fan, but I like certain fish, including salmon. Based on a food show we saw, I made this tonight for my girlfriend and me. My girlfriend thought the potatoes were too lemony; I thought they were a delicious counterpart to the salmon. She also didn’t like the salmon skin, which was perfectly crispy and delicious. I used a cast iron griddle for the fish, it worked out awesome. Total salmon cooking time was around 8-9 minutes: 6 minutes on skin side, 3 minutes on flesh side.

I used my new Lodge Logic cast iron griddle for the fish, which worked like a charm. I agree with the reviews that the factory seasoning is poor. A bit of scrubbing, a few coats of Crisco and some time in the oven have helped.

Salt and Pepper Salmon with Smashed Potatoes with Peas, Lemon and Onion

Courtesy of Tyler Florence/Food Network
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

1 salmon fillet (about 2 pounds), skin on, 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick
Kosher salt
Extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

Run your finger up and down the center of the salmon feeling for any pin bones. Remove any that you find with a needle-nosed pliers or tweezers. With a sharp knife cutting across the width of the salmon, divide it into 4 equal portions. Lightly salt the salmon and let sit a couple minutes; this will help you get crispy skin.

Heat a 2-count, about 2 tablespoons, of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until the oil is almost smoking. Season the salmon with pepper, and rub about 1 1/2 tablespoons butter on the skin side of each fillet.

Add the salmon to the pan, skin-side down. To get super crispy skin, cook the salmon almost to completion, about 6 minutes. Flip the salmon and cook until flesh side is nicely seared, 1 to 2 minutes.

Transfer the salmon to a platter and serve with the Smashed Potatoes.

Smashed New Potatoes with Peas, Lemon, and Pearl Onions

1 1/2 to 2 pounds red bliss potatoes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 (10-ounce) box frozen pearl onions, defrosted
Pinch sugar
Splash freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 slices lemon
2 (10-ounce) boxes frozen peas, defrosted
1 lemon, zested
Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
1/4 cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 heaping tablespoons roughly chopped fresh dill
1 bunch watercress, stems trimmed just above the rubber band

Put the potatoes into a large pot, cover them with cold water, and add a large pinch of salt. If they're large, cut them in half. Bring to a boil and simmer until the potatoes are fork tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain. Stick a fork into the potatoes, 1 at a time, lift them out of the colander and peel with a paring knife. Toss the potatoes into a bowl and roughly crush them. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoons olive oil with the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the butter melts. Add the pearl onions, sugar, and lemon juice and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the lemon slices, peas, and lemon zest and continue cooking until the peas are hot. Season with salt and pepper. Dump the vegetables over the potatoes in the bowl, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil add the parsley and dill and taste for salt and pepper. Scatter the watercress over the top, fold it in just until it wilts and call it a day.

Friday, August 11, 2006

black bean memories

My mom used to make feijoada, as my dad grew up in Brazil, so that was familiar "home" food to him. In any case, I've liked black beans for a long time, so this recipe looked good, and as it turned out for a nice Mexican-style dinner tonight, tasted delicious as well, despite (yes!) being vegetarian.

I've adapted this recipe to make it quicker to fix (stewing the beans for 2-3 hours? You've got to be kidding). For an additional kick, mince the dried chipotle chile when you add it to the onions. You can save even more time by making the beans ahead of time (the day before) and simply reheating when ready to cook. The beans by themselves are creamy and delicious.

Black Bean Stuffed Chiles with Chipotle Cream Sauce and Spanish Rice
(adapted from San Francisco Chronicle Cookbook)
Serves 4-6
Prep & Cooking time: 1.5hr

2 15oz. cans black beans (1st can drained, 2nd can 1/2 drained)
1 cup water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 dried chipotle chile (also called "chile morita")
Black pepper to taste

1 tablespoon chipotle en adobo, pureed
1 cup sour cream

8 very large Anaheim (green) or New Mexico chiles
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, or 50/50 jack/cheddar, grated
Spanish or Mexican rice mix (comes in a box or a bag)

  1. Start the beans: In a large pot, heat olive oil until almost smoking. Add onion and dried chipotle and saute until onions are soft and a little brown, about 7 minutes. Turn up heat to high, add garlic and saute for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add water, then black beans all at once, heat to a simmer, then reduce heat, cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally until ready to assemble chiles (about 30-45 minutes). After about 20 minutes, using the back of a large spoon, mash some of the the beans and stir to make the sauce creamy. Add more water as necessary to keep the beans just covered.
  2. Meanwhile, char the chiles: On a broiler pan lined with aluminum foil, assemble chiles and place under broiler. Broil for 8 minutes on one side or until nicely charred. Flip, then broil for 4 minutes on other. Remove chiles from oven. Place chiles in paper bag, close top, and set aside until cool enough to handle.
  3. Start the Spanish Rice: takes around 10 minutes to prepare. When done, keep rice covered and set aside off of the heat; it will stay warm.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Stuff the chiles: remove the skin from the chiles (should be easy to do). Slice them open on one side, and using a knife, scrape out the ribs & seeds. Place opened chiles, "ribs" side up, into baking dish Using a slotted spoon, scoop out a scant 1/4 cup of beans, letting the excess "bean juice" drain. Place beans on 1/2 the chile, and wrap the other half of the chile around/on top.
  6. Finish assembly & Bake: top chiles with sauce and grated cheese. Bake for 15 minutes at 350, until cheese in nice and melty.
  7. Meanwhile make the sauce: combine pureed chipotle en adobo with sour cream, and set aside (or if ahead of time, cool and refridgerate). TIP: puree the whole can of chipotle en adobo, put leftovers into a plastic ice cube tray, freeze them, take them out of the tray, put them in a plastic back, and freeze them. Will keep 3 months.
  8. Plate and serve: serve with Spanish rice, leftover beans, and leftover sauce. Garnish with cilantro as desired.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

moorish chicken kebabs

Made "Moorish Chicken Kebabs" and "Patatas Riojanas", from a Williams-Sonoma Spain & Portugal cookbook last night.

The downside of the book is that prep times are not listed. Potatoes, with 15 min prep time took 1 hour total to do (15m prep + 45m cook); even then the potatoes were a tad bit underdone, due to the large potato chunks.

The chicken, on the otherhand, was modified from a pork recipe, so it didn't marinade overnight (1.5 hours was enough), was relatively quick: without marinade time, prep + cooking was under 25 minutes (15m prep + about 8 min cooking).

Would definitely make this one again. My girl liked it, especially the chicken. The potatoes could've used even more spice/flavor. One thing that didn't work was the chorizo. I used pork chorizo from the supermarket, one that does not have a cookable casing, so it disintegrates into sausage "mush" when you cook it. This was fine, except that the recipe called for sausage pieces in with the potatoes, so I imagine in the future some linguica, hot links or other naturally cased spicy sausage (maybe one of the delicious Aidell's variety?) could be used in its place.

Recipes to come...

Saturday, March 04, 2006

pork and hummus

Just because I haven't written doesn't mean I haven't been cooking.

My girl bought me the "America's Test Kitchen" cookbook over the holidays. I really like it; the recipes are well-tested and taste great.

Two things I made recently: hummus (from ATK recipe book, customized ever so slightly), and pork in red chile sauce, based on a recipe I saw "Daisy Cooks!", a PBS cooking show.

Serves 2-4

My "trick" is adding cumin...this tip was in the recipe my first cookbook/textbook called "On Cooking". After looking at that cookbook today, I appreciate it more. I think I screwed up some of the recipes because I didn't measure accurately by weight and/or by volume, which is critical. You need to know when to use weight measure (dry ingredients especially) and volume measure (wet ingredients mostly). In any case, I also added another clove of garlic (preferred by Beckey); reduce it for a less garlicky flavor. Roasted garlic would probably also work really well in this recipe, if you like a mellower flavor. The cumin really helps break up any "metallic" flavor that canned garbanzo beans occasionally pick up.

1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans
1/4 cup tahini (a special sesame paste you find in the ethnic food aisle)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 tsp kosher salt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp cumin

Throw everything in the food processor and blend for 40 seconds. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. It will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge (if you don't eat it all).

Pork with Guajillo Chile Sauce
Serves 4

When I made this from my memory of the recipe of the show, I substituted some leftover BBQ'd pork ribs I had made. It still turned out great as a leftover dish, although the pork loin would probably be even better. The sauce really becomes a luscious, smooth and almost "creamy" after it reduces. It's got some kick, but it's not particularly hot.

6-8 dried guajillo chiles
1.5 pound pork loin, cut into 1" cubes
1 can (15oz) Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes
2 fresh tomatoes
1 yellow onion, sliced in half
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp. oregano
1 tsp. thyme
olive oil

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Cover baking sheet with foil, place onion and fresh tomatoes on baking sheet, brush lightly with olive oil, and roast for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large pot, put cubed pork, bay leaves, and cover with just enough water to cover the pork. Heat over medium-high heat until simmering, about 15 minutes.
  3. Tear tops off of chiles & discard tops & seeds. Heat a skillet on high heat and toast the chiles on each side about 20-30 seconds, pressing down with grill press, heavy plate or spatula; flip chiles, toast on other side another 20-30 seconds, and remove. Place chiles in bowl and cover with warm water (or microwave bowl with chiles & water for 1 minute), nest another bowl on top and add weight to help keep the chiles underwater while they rehydrate, about 20 minutes. Drain chiles well and discard liquid.
  4. Once tomatoes and onions are roasted, and chiles are rehydrated, add roasted tomatoes, canned tomatoes, onions, chiles, and about 1-2 cups of the pork braising liquid in a blender. Blend until smooth.
  5. Add blended chile mixture back into pot with pork. Raise heat to bring mixture back to a simmer, and simmer uncovered at medium-low heat for at least another 1 hour, or until the mixture reduces to a slightly thicker consistency.
  6. Server pork and sauce over steamed white rice.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

smoky fejoida

Friday night I made a quick, smoky fejoida that exceeded all my expectations. And, it was even better for lunch the next day. I had some roasted pork loin leftovers from earlier in the week, and combined with some shredded smoked turkey I had left over from a Christmas present to Beckey, it turned out to be a tasty combination. Fejoida traditionally has many "meats" in it, including "carne seca"; in this case, bacon, sausage, pork loin, and smoked turkey make a great, full flavored substitute.

Smoky Fejoida
Serves 8
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 65 minutes

2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup smoked bacon ends, or smoked bacon pieces, chopped into 1/2" pieces
1/2 of a polish sausage (polska kielbasa), sliced into 1/2" pieces
1 cup cooked pork loin roast, shredded or chopped into 1/2" pieces
1 cup cooked smoked turkey (breast, leg and/or thigh), chopped into 1/2" pieces

1/2 yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, smashed & rough chopped
1 can (14oz) Muir Glen whole tomatoes
2 30oz cans (60oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1.5 cups chicken stock

1 large sprig (3") fresh thyme
5 fresh sage leaves, chopped
1 small sprig fresh Mexican oregano, chopped (about 1-2 tbsp)
2 bay leaves

1 tbsp worcheshire
1 tbsp Tabasco

Spices for the end
2 tbsp. parsley, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced

1. In large pot, heat olive oil, and add bacon. Cook over medium-low heat, about 5-7 minutes, to render out fat.
2. Add polish sausage pieces, and cook another 2-3 minutes.
3. Remove meat with slotted spoon, and drain and reserve grease.
4. Leave 1 tbsp of grease in pot, and return heat to medium.
5. Add onion & thyme, saute for 5 minutes
6. Reduce heat to low. Return bacon & sausage to pot.
7. Add rough chopped garlic, pork loin, smoked turkey, and stir to combine.
8. Meanwhile, put can of tomatoes (liquid and all) in blender or food processor, pulse quickly 3 times to crush.
9. Raise heat to medium. Add tomatoes, black beans, chicken stock, spices, chicken stock, and enough water to just cover the mixture. Stir briefly to mix, cover, and heat until it reaches a slow simmer.
10. Once simmering, lower heat to low/medium-low and simmer for at least 60 minutes.
11. After 60 minutes, stir in parsley & minced garlic. Let heat for 5 minutes further.
11. Serve with steamed white rice, collard greens sauteed in butter & garlic, and slices of orange.
12. Let the fejoida cool at room temperature, then store it tightly covered in the fridge for up to 5 days; or freeze it for up to 1 month.

Monday, January 02, 2006

bread troubleshooting

Good resource for troubleshooting issues with bread:

Thus two problems with grandma's bread from this last time may be resolved:
1. Forgot to add the salt, so the rise was really high!
2. Gumminess probably due to either insufficient cook time or too high temperature at start of baking.

the great zucchini

Went to Brazilian restaurant "Picanha" in Burbank today with some friends, and had a tasty side disk of zucchini, which I normally don't like but was delicious. It consisted of:

zuchinni, sliced into 1/3" rounds (or slightly thicker than 1/4")
red onions, sliced & sauteed
scallions (green parts only)
teriyaki sauce
a bit of oil

Warm, fresh and delicious! Zuchinni was tender but not soggy (still some tooth), red onions were soft and transparent, all rounded out by the nice sweet, salty flavor of the teriyaki sauce. Excellent.