Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Leftovers Remix x2

Two leftover recipes, remixed, from this week. Since Beckey's out of town, I don't mind playing with my leftovers. Both seem to have a Spanish twist.

Mock Spanish Risotto

1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, sliced lengthwise
2 tbsp. diced pimentos (from a jar)
3/4 c. cooked ham, cut into 1/4" x 1-1/2" strips
1 tsp. smoked sweet spanish paprika (Pimenton de la Vera, Agridulce)
1/4 c. leftover not-too-dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc is nice)
1 cup cooked rice (leftover, any kind: white, brown, risotto)
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (from a bag is easy!)
Salt and pepper to taste

In a small sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add pimentos and garlic, saute for 1 minute. Add cooked ham slices, toss and stir for 1 minute. Add paprika and stir for about 10 seconds. Add white wine followed immediately by rice, and stir to heat thru. Remove from heat, stir in cheddar cheese, and season with salt & pepper to taste.

Sopa de Ajo con Cebolla

This is my garlic soup version, kicked up French-onion style!

1 tbsp. olive oil (if you have leftover O.O. from making Spanish tortilla, use it!)
1 tbsp. other fat (butter, rendered chicken/pork fat, bacon grease, etc)
1 brown onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
pinch red pepper flakes
6 cloves garlic, sliced
1 cup stale French/sourdough/crusty white bread cubes (about 1" square)
2 eggs
1 qt. chicken stock (boxed or homemade)
chopped fresh parsley
salt + pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat oil + fat over medium heat. Add onion, stir to coat, turn down heat to medium, and leave for 2 minutes. Turn heat down to medium-low, and stir every few minutes for 18 minutes, until onions turn brown & caramelized. Add paprika, chili flakes, garlic slices and stir for 2 minutes.

Raise heat to high, add stock all at once. Bring soup to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Add bread cubes, parsley and stir. Remove from heat, ladle into hot bowls. Crack an egg into each bowl, ladle more hot soup over it, and let it poach for 10 min (or put it in the oven). Enjoy the hearty meal!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

sweet potato salad; childhood foods

My aunt made a good cold sweet potato salad for my uncle's birthday.

Boil sweet potatoes, toss with diced green pepper, white onion, celery, olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Very simple, but very good.

I think it's a great example of changing tastes. I didn't like a lot of different foods when I was growing up, including sweet potatoes. Maybe because I couldn't stand the icky, sickly-sweet, fake-fluff marshmallow.

Other foods I hated as a kid:

  • broccoli: brown and overcooked, so bitter
  • cheese: I only liked mozzarella, and string cheese. Disliked cheddar, even if melted. Especially disliked stinky cheese, like blue cheese or particularly the "green can" of Kraft Parmesan. No grilled cheese (until later), certainly not on sandwiches.
  • chocolate: bars, ice cream, chocolates, sauce, chocolate chip cookies; mint chocolate chip was a double whammy of badness
  • cookies: mom never backed chocolate chip (or any for that matter), so I never learned to appreciate the joy of a fresh baked chocolate chip cookie
  • melon: no honeydew, no canteloupe, only watermelon
  • green veggies: green beans cooked until they were brown and dead; spinach
  • cauliflower
  • tomatoes: OK in pasta sauce (like on spaghetti, I think the only pasta my mom regularly served); couldn't stand them fresh, neither in salads nor on sandwiches.
  • any egg that wasn't scrambled: sunny side up or over easy = yuck!
  • Coca Cola (see below)
  • Plain cheese pizza
  • Big Macs: cheese and dressing were bad, too complicated
  • Spumoni ice cream: chocolate in there, weird flavors
  • Beets: too strong and earthy, kinda like spinach
  • Cabbage: some was passable, but in general disliked most forms: Brussel sprouts, sauerkraut, fresh
  • Squash: still don't like it too much; what bothers me most is texture, I think. can't get around the stringy texture most of the time.
What I liked:

  • Soda: my great aunt always had a 6 pack of 7-UP "shorty" cans in her closet, which I would poach when I would visit. Mom would never buy soda, and if bought, never Coca Cola
  • Ketchup: cmon, what kid doesn't?
  • Pizza: all kinds, just not plain cheese
  • Basic McDonald's hamburger: no Big Mac, didn't like the dressing and esp. the cheese
  • Strawberries: fresh, or also my favorite ice cream flavor...well, that and vanilla.
  • Salad: iceberg, with thousand island or vinaigrette
  • Carrots: watching B&W TV cartoons in my grandpa's room after school Friday
  • Apples: see "Carrots"
  • Blackberries: from my grandparent's bushes in the backyard
  • Pineapple guava: amazing little green, egg-sized guava, right off my grandparents' tree
  • Kumquats: from my aunt and uncle's backyard tree, surprisingly tart and tangy
  • Oranges: juice or fresh, as long as not dry, delicious!
  • Satsumas/Clementine tangerines: I remember a tense family trip to Sequoia around Thanksgiving, and we got some at a roadside stand that were a revelation to me.
  • Tacos: "ghetto tacos" ,ground beef
  • Fejoida: my mom learned from my dad's mom
  • Meatloaf: simple, yet tasty
  • Potatoes: french fries, tater tots, hash-browns, pan-fried a la grandma on Fridays
  • Steak: vinegar + garlic marinated flank steak, and nice T-Bones at lunch on Fridays at grandparents
  • Baked chicken: bone-in chicken breasts, baked, crispy skin and delicious fond (baked on bits) in the bottom of pan....I figured out for myself that blending them with the rice that was often served was another delicious revelation.
  • Walnuts: cracking fresh walnuts....where else? my grandparents house
  • Juice: all and every kind, orange/apple/grape/lemonade/cranberry!
  • Tonic water: had one taste, I think in Palm Springs, and decided nearly immediately "yes this is for me!" I liked the sweetness with the citrusy, bitter tang.
  • Spaghetti: my mom made 2 pastas: spaghetti and lasagne. Spaghetti was always prepared sans-sauce, so you'd have to ladle it at the end, and mix it yourself (don't like that style anymore)
  • Bacon: one of my favorite dishes? Mom used to make this for the feijoida. Dice bacon, and saute with onion, a bit of garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Serve over my grandma's black rye bread
  • Grandma's rye bread. Had an excellent version in LT; I can get close, but I'm not there yet. When toasted and buttered, became just like a french fry, slightly crispy on the outside, light and chewy in the middle. Heaven in a slice!
Note to self: watching Tony Bourdain in Cleveland with Harvey Pekar. Gotta pick up American Splendor graphic novels.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Grandma's Bread Jan 2008

February 2008, trying again, with some minor adjustments:

1. Reducing initial water a little bit, by 1/4 cup.
2. Add rye flour all at once to fermentation mixture

Makes 2 loaves

2 c. buttermilk
1.25 c. water
1.5 lb. rye flour, unsifted

2-1/4 tsp. active dry yeast (or 1 packet)
1 tbsp. unbleached white flour
1/2 c. warm water (120 degrees)

1.5 lb. (24 0z) + 1 oz (25 oz total) unbleached white flour, unsifted
4 tbsp. gluten
1/2 c. honey
1-1/2 tsp. salt

4 tbsp. melted butter

1. Over medium-low heat, warm buttermilk and water, stirring occasionally, just until it curdles and remove from heat. Stir in 1.5 lb. rye flour, cover tightly and leave in warm place. Or, refrigerate and bring back to room temperature before continuing

2. The next day, combine yeast, 1 tbsp. flour, and warm water, and stir to dissolve. Let sit for 5 minutes until yeast mixture gets bubbly.

3. Into dough mixture, add yeast mixture, honey, gluten and salt. Stir in 1.5 lb. of white flour until mixture is uniform. It's a lot of dough, too much for the small stand mixer to handle!

4. Take entire dough and add dough to mixer set to "1" or "2" (low speed), and knead with dough hook. You will need to clean the dough hook a number of times at the beginning (every 30 seconds or so), because the dough will bunch up, even over the top of the dough hook. Add 1 oz of flour during process to reduce sticking. After a couple of minutes, it will stop sticking. Total kneading time should be about 5-7 minutes.

6. Grease two bread pans with butter, and dust them with rye flour. Shape dough into loaves and place in bread pans. Cover with towel, and leave in warm place to rise for 2-2.75 hours or until approximately doubled in bulk.

7. Preheat oven to 375, and adjust racks to put bread on lowest rack. Brush tops with butter, and place bread pans on pizza stone on lowest rack in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when tapped.

8. Take bread from oven, remove from pans, and brush tops with remaining butter. Drape with damp cloth while they cool. This supposedly will help keep the crust from separating from the dough.

9. Store in large Ziploc freezer bags when cool; this will help promote a soft crust.

UPDATE 12-24-2007: technically it looks perfect. Sides of bread "exploded" near the top, which has previously been typical. We'll see what the texture is when we taste it tonight, hopefully not gummy and/or undercooked.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Chowhound; repurposing dinner

I like the Chowhound site. I came across it a year or two ago, but just looking at it more today. They have a bunch of great tips in th "Chow Tips" video, such as:

  • Pomegranate seeds: to remove, cut the pomegranate in 1/2, and whack the rind using a wooden spoon (cut side facing down over a sieve or bowl); the seeds will just fall into the bowl/sieve!
  • Tempering chocolate: to stabilize chocolate to keep it shiny & glossy, like a candy bar. Must be accurate. Heat 3/4 lb of chocolate in double boiler to 118 degrees. Cool to 80 degrees over an ice bath by adding remaining 1/4 lb. Rewarm to 85-87 degrees for milk chocolate, 88-91 for dark chocolate. Now coat: put item into chocolate with fork, pull it out, scrape it, and onto parchment.
Also enjoying "repurposed" meals this week, i.e., using leftovers and/or parts of meals to create something new and delicious! For example:

Sunday brunch: Spanish tortilla with aioli
Sunday dinner: Tri-tip, mashed potatoes, and arugula salad
Tonight's dinner: Tri-tip sandwich with Point Reyes blue cheese, aioli, dijon and arugula on baguette, with arugula salad on the side. Yum!