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...