Saturday, December 2, 2017

Boom Palaak Chat Boom

So good.  For those of us who love palaak chaat and those of us who will learn to love it.  Relatively simple and delicious.  The only thing that takes time is the drying and frying of spinach.   The sauce is easy and tasty.

Palaak Chaat

Ingredients

  • Frying oil
  • 1/2 bag spinach
  • 1/2 c. Greek Yogurt
  • 4 dates, pitted, chopped fine
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder
  • Few tablespoons of pico del gallo or mild tomato salsa
  • 1/2 shallot, minced

Directions

  1. Dry the spinach.  Take it out and spread it out on paper towels or dish towels.  Make sure it's relatively dry because you're going to fry it and spinach contains a lot of water.
  2. Sauce: In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, dates, coriander, cumin, curry powder, lemon juice.  Mix well.  It should be a slightly runny.  If not, add a small amount of water to mix.
  3. Frying: Use a deep fryer, or in a small pot fill oil to 1/2" inch and put over medium high heat.
  4. In small batches, add spinach to the frying oil and be careful as it will spatter.  Fry for 30-60 seconds depending on heat of the oil.  Place the fried spinach on paper towels to dry.  Repeat with the rest of the spinach.
  5. Plating: Put the leaves on a plate and drizzle with the yogurt sauce.  Top with the pico de gallo and minced shallot.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Sausage, Tomato, & Greens Risotto







Haven't made risotto in a while, and it's a little cool out so why not make a hearty, but not too over the top risotto.  I had some Italian sausage and it offers a nice base flavor on a rainy, fall night.

And the puppy liked the smell, too

Ingredients

  • 1 24-28oz can/box of chopped tomatoes
  • 3 c. water
  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • 1 # Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2-4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 Tb fennel seed
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 c. risotto
  • 1/2 c. dry white wine
  • 3 c. leafy greens (spinach, arugula, whatever you like)
  • 1/2 c. grated parmesan + more
  • tasty olive oil to drizzle for taste

Directions

  1. Put the chopped tomatoes and water in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer.  Leave at a simmer while you start the risotto.
  2. Put a large saute/sauce pan over medium heat.  Heat the oil and then add the sausage and onion. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring, so the sausage is no longer pink and the onion is starting to be translucent.
  3. Add the garlic, fennel seed, salt & pepper to taste to the sausage & onions and continue to saute for 1 minute.
  4. Add the risotto and saute for 1-2 minutes, stirring.
  5. Add the white wine and saute for 1-2 minutes until the wine is mostly absorbed.
  6. Add 1 c. of the tomato/water mixture to the risotto and stir until mostly absorbed.  
  7. Repeat adding the tomato/water mixture in 1 c. increments and stir until mostly absorbed.  Make sure the risotto doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.  Continue this process until the tomato/water mixture is gone and absorbed by the risotto.
  8. Lower the heat to a simmer and slowly add the small amounts of the greens to the risotto.  Mix the greens in until they wilt and then repeat adding more of the greens in the same way until all are absorbed.
  9. Add parmesan to the risotto and mix.
  10. Serve and add more parmesan and oil as desired.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Nuts and Creme Fraiche Coffee Cake

I got on a coffee cake making binge recently.  I remembered enjoying them as a kid, but in all of the years I've been cooking, I never made one myself.  Yes, they might seem plebian, but they also offer a simple pleasure.  Why not enjoy them?
There are some extremely simple coffee cake recipes that are pretty good, but for a little more effort, I think this one is worth the effort.

Ingredients

Crumble

  • 5 Tb butter
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. crushed, toasted almonds
  • 4 Tb. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Streusel

  • 1 c. pecans, toasted
  • 3 Tb brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp all spice

Cake

  • 1 1/2 c. butter, cubed
  • 1 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 c. crushed, toasted hazelnuts
  • 1 Tb baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 8-12 oz vanilla creme fraiche

Icing

  • 1 c. confectioner's sugar
  • 3 Tb cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tb. butter, cubed

Directions

  1. Crumble:  In a food processor, combine the butter, flour, almonds, sugar, and salt. Pulse to combine the ingredients together until everything is well combined and moistened. Allow a few small bits of butter to remain. Cover until needed.
  2. Streusel. In a food processor, combine the pecans, sugar, cinnamon, all spice, and nutmeg and pulse until the pecans are ground, but not becoming a paste. Set aside.
  3. Cake: Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 350°F.
  4. Line and grease a 10-inch round cake pan or spring form pan – Use butter to lightly grease the pan and use parchment paper to line the pan for the best results.
  5. Cream the butter, sugar, and salt on medium-high speed in a mixer until light and fluffy and the sugar begins to dissolve into the butter. 
  6. Slowly pour in the beaten eggs, mixing well before pouring more in. 
  7. Add the flours, hazelnut meal, baking powder, and baking soda and mix well.
  8. Add in the crème fraiche and mix until incorporated.
  9. Scoop half of the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it with a small offset spatula.
  10. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the top of the batter.
  11. Top with the rest of the batter, coaxing it into covering the streusel layer. Top with the crumble.
  12. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until fully baked through. Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 15 minutes.
  13. Place a flat plate on top of the cake and pan. Carefully invert the cake onto the plate by flipping both upside down. Then lift the pan off the cake.
  14. Gently pull the parchment paper away from the cake. Rest the serving plate on the bottom of the cake and turn the cake right-side up onto the plate.
  15. Icing: In a small bowl, combine the sugar, butter, vanilla and cream.  Stir well to make an icing.
  16. Spread the icing over the top of the cake before serving.


Cranberry-Pomegranate Sauce

Thanksgiving always brings out the cranberries.  Sometimes they are looked with scorn, but they can be made into something tasty.   I do appreciate the sweet & tart aspect of cranberries as it is present in several other excellent foods like pomegranates and tamarind.   No tamarind in this recipe, however.  Some traditions have to be preserved.

Ingredients

  • 1 12 oz. bag of cranberries
  • 1/2 c. pomegranate juice
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 Tb good honey
  • 3 Tb pomegranate molasses
  • Zest of a lemon
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of ground clove

Directions

  1. Rinse cranberries and put them in a saucepan with the pomegranate juice.  Turn heat to medium-low.
  2. Add the sugar, honey, molasses, lemon zest, salt and clove to the pan. Cook for 30-40 minutes until the cranberries pop and the sauce thickens.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Coconut Fried Rice

To some extent, coconut rice is partially fried in that you should always fry some onions with it at the start.  But, to be honest, it's even better if you also fry some veggies and then fry everything together later.

Jasmine rice is most commonly used because of its starchy qualities.  It absorbs the coconut flavor well and cooks relatively quickly.  I also use Basmati at times, just because I love the flavor of Basmati and it doesn't conflict with the coconut.   It's truly up to you what sort flavor palette you want.   You will have to add a bit more liquid if you choose to use Basmati.

Ingredients

Rice part

  • 1 Tb coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2c. rice
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 c. chicken stock

Frying part

  • 3 Tb coconut oil
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 Tb chopped ginger
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • handful of bean sprouts
  • 1 c. frozen peas
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4 scallions, cut into 1/4" sections
  • 2 Tb thin soy sauce
  • 3 Tb fish sauce
  • 1/4 c. chopped cilantro or basil

Directions

  1. First, cook the rice.  In a sauce pan, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, tumeric & salt and cook the onion for a couple minutes until translucent.
  2. Add the rice and stir with the onion for 1-2 minutes.  
  3. Add the coconut milk and stock and cover.  Increase the heat to high.  When steam starts to emerge from under the cover, turn down to simmer and continue to cook for 15-20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
  4. Spread the rice out on a baking sheet to cool after cooking.  Refrigerate if not finishing for a while.
  5. Second, fry time.  In a large wok or sauce pan, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat.  When ready, reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and tumeric.  Cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the carrots and bean sprouts and continue cooking until sprouts begin to welt.
  7. Add the peas and eggs and stir.  Cook until eggs begin to set.
  8. Add the rice and mix well.  Cook for a couple minutes until rice begins to warm.
  9. Add the soy sauce, fish sauce and mix.  Cook for 2 minutes.
  10. Add the fresh herbs and mix.  Continue to cook for a couple minutes until herbs wilt.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Duck Breast with Garam Masala, Tamarind and Five-Spice

Chinese Five-Spice and duck are pretty standard honestly, but I think bringing a bit of other parts of Asia will only serve to expand the flavor realm.  If you have it in your pantry, why not?  It's not true of all spices you might have, but these should work together nicely.
The Five-Spice is the dry rub for the duck, but making a tamarind and garam masala sauce to go along with it is quite nice.

Ingredients

Sauce

  • 3 Tb. tamarind concentrate
  • 4 Tb. water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tb palm sugar, broken up if in the little hemispheres

Duck

  • 2 duck breasts
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp five-spice powder

Directions

  1. In a small sauce pan over medium heat, put the tamarind and water until simmering.  
  2. Mix in the salt, garam masala, red pepper flakes and sugar.  Simmer over medium-low heat for 5-8 minutes and then cool.
  3. Score the fat on the duck breasts.  Rub the salt and five-spice powder into the scored fat.
  4. Heat a saute pan over medium-high heat.  Place the duck skin side down and sear for 5-8 minutes. During the time, periodically remove fat from the pan and reserve.  You want to sear the fat back, not fry it.
  5. Flip the duck breasts over and sear the other side for 3 minutes.  Place the duck breasts aside and let sit for 5+ minutes before carving.
  6. Reheat the sauce slightly and serve.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Roasted Butternut Squash, Red Onions and Nuts

Once autumn hits, it's roasting and braising time.  We all love root vegetables, but squash has its uses.  This is an adaptation from a fine New York Times recipe.  I felt a bit more acid, nuts and herbs was needed from the original recipe

Ingredients

Main

Olive oil
4 large red onions
4# butternut squash, cut into ½” sections
1/3 c. pine nuts
1/3 c. pistachios, shelled
2 Tb parsley, chopped
1 Tb mint, chopped

Sauce

¼ c. tahini
3 Tb lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed

Directions

1. Heat oven to 475 degrees. Lightly coat two large baking sheets with olive oil.
2. Peel onions, leaving root ends intact. Cut each onion in half from stem to root. Cut each half into 4 wedges, leaving the root intact so that each wedge holds together. Spread on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil.
3. Put the squash in a large mixing bowl. Add 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and about 1/4 teaspoon pepper; toss to coat. Spread on a baking sheet, peel side down (if intact).
4. Place both pans in oven and roast for 30 to 40 minutes, until the vegetables have taken on some color and are cooked through. Keep an eye on the onions, as they may cook faster than the squash and need to be removed earlier.
5. For nuts, pour 1 tablespoon oil into a small frying pan and place over medium-low heat. Add nuts and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often, until the nuts are golden brown and smell toasty. Immediately remove from the heat and dump onto a cutting board to stop the cooking. If using pistachios, chop coarsely when cool enough to handle.
6. To make tahini sauce, place tahini in a bowl. Add lemon juice, 1/4 cup water, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Whisk until sauce is the consistency of honey, adding more water or a tablespoon of olive oil if necessary.
7. When the vegetables are cooked, set aside until ready to serve. (The vegetables should be served the same day they are made. They can be served at warm room temperature, or reheated just before serving.)
8. To serve, combine vegetables on a large serving platter. If using tahini sauce, drizzle on top. Sprinkle herbs and, if using, nuts on top and serve.

Monday, November 6, 2017

My old friend, Chokhokhbili

Many, many years ago, when I was living in a group house, I was still in my cooking infancy.  I remember going to Borders one time and seeing a book on Georgian cooking.   It looked interesting, so I picked it up and tried a couple recipes.  A couple recipes were keepers and this recipe is based on one of them.
One condiment that is part of Georgian cooking that is tough to come by is Tkemali.  It's a sour plum sort of ketchup, and it fits into that same world as tamarind or kecap manis or other sweet and sour sauces.
You definitely can use Tkemali for a condiment on this recipe, but you could also introduce some of the sweet and sour in other ways, like I have done with Balsamic vinegar and tamarind built into the sauce.

Chokhokhbili

Ingredients

  • 2# chicken, skin on - boneless or bone-in (add more #-age)
  • 2 Tb+ olive oil
  • 2Tb butter
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 28oz can of tomatoes, or a 12 sliced pomodoro tomatoes
  • 1 tsp red pepper
  • 2 Tb red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tb balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tb tamarind concentrate
  • 1 1/2 cups of fresh herbs, at least half of which is dill, and parsley or cilantro for the rest
Simmering though no herbs added yet

Directions

  1. Salt & pepper the chicken pieces.
  2. Heat a large saute pan (that has a lid) over medium high heat.  Melt the butter with the oil.
  3. Add the chicken and brown on all sides, though do not cook through.
  4. Remove the chicken and place in bowl.
  5. Reduce heat to medium and add the onions.  Saute for 5 minutes and then add the garlic.  Saute for an additional 2 minutes.
  6. Add the tomatoes, red peppers, vinegars, tamarind and stir.  Add a bit more salt and pepper.  Saute the tomatoes for 5 minutes.
  7. Add the chicken and any juices back to the saute pan and reduce the heat to low.
  8. Cover the saute pan and cook for 30 minutes.
  9. Add the fresh herbs to the saute pan, and saute for 2 minutes till the herbs are wilted and integrated.
And now with herbs!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

How to support a crazy diet: Part 3 : Shrimp & Bacon

It seems almost unfair for a diet to include bacon & shrimp.  Honestly, you don't even need a recipe if you have these two.  Just cook and eat.

However, I did put together a rather simple dish using them that turned out great.  It also used some julienned zucchini and a good handful of garlic so it really seems like some cleverly made dish, even though it would have just been fine with shrimp and bacon alone.

Now I should add that the bacon that I used, I cured and smoked myself.  In this way, I could make sure there's no added pepper or sugar or seed that isn't AIP compliant.   The bacon that I made I cured with salt, finely chopped cilantro stems and fennel fronds.   The curing went on for about a week (wrapped in plastic like Laura Palmer), and then I smoked the pork belly until it was around 175F, which is basically cooked.   I also rendered some bacon fat over the weekend so I used that as the oil (in addition to the rendered fat of the bacon chunks I tossed in the dish).

Bacon & Shrimp with Zucchini, Celery & Leeks

Ingredients

  • 1# shrimp
  • water for shells
  • 2 Tb. oregano leaves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 # bacon- cut into chunks
  • 3 Tb rendered bacon fat
  • Handful of garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 medium leek, julienned into 3" sections
  • 2 celery stalks, julienned
  • 2 medium zucchini, peeled and then mandolined into thin strips
  • 1/4 chopped parsley
  • juice from 1/2 lemon


Directions

  1. Shrimp Stock: Remove the shells from the shrimp and plop them in a small sauce pan.  Fill the sauce pan with water just to make sure the shells are covered.  Add the oregano and salt and bring to a simmer.  You're only going to use 1/4 c. of this stock in the dish for this recipe, so you can use the rest for something else later (it freezes, too).
  2. Main Dish: Heat a 14" wok over medium high heat.  Add the bacon fat and the bacon.  When the bacon browns a bit and renders some fat, pull the bacon out and reserve.
  3. Add the garlic, leeks and celery.  Cook for about 4 minutes stirring well.
  4. Add the zucchini and the bacon chunks and stir fry for about 2 minutes.
  5. Add 1/4 c. of the shrimp stock and simmer the mixture for another 2 minutes.
  6. Add the shrimp, cover and simmer for another 4 minutes or until cooked.
  7. Remove the lid and mix in the parsley.  Stir until well mixed and wilted.
  8. Sprinkle the dish with the lemon juice, stir and serve.
Healthy and very tasty.


Monday, May 22, 2017

How to support a crazy diet: Part 2 : Tamarind!

Thank God for Tamarind!

So on the crazy diet, tamarind is acceptable.  Oh, thank God for Tamarind.
Sweet and sour and plays well with garlic.

This recipe is pretty close to my last crazy diet survival recipe.  It uses chicken, onions, some bok choy ('shanghai tips') and a butt-ton of garlic, but really the grand helper (other than garlic) is the tamarind.  It has such a lovely duality to it which really helps the dish along.

Chicken, Bok Choy in Tamarind & Basil

Ingredients

  • 12 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 3 Tb oil
  • 1# ground chicken
  • 1 sliced white onion
  • 1# shanghai tip/baby bok choy - core removed so individual leaves can be mixed
  • 1/2 c. chicken stock
  • 4 Tb tamarind concentrate
  • handful of Thai basil leaves (or Genovese)

Directions

  1. Heat wok to medium high heat.  Put in oil until you can smell it.  Put the garlic in and cook until it's slightly golden - perhaps 1 min.
  2. Add the chicken and onions.  Stir and fry for several minutes until chicken is no longer pink.
  3. Add the bok choy and stir for about 1 minute
  4. Add the chicken stock and the tamarind concentrate.  Simmer bok choy until it's just wilting.
  5. Add the basil and stir fry until it wilts
  6. Serve!  (with rice if you can eat rice)

Monday, May 15, 2017

How to support a crazy diet: Part 1 : Alt-Larb Gai

So my lovely wife is starting a severe diet today.  It's a paleo diet with additional auto-immune focus.   The paleo diet pretty much strips sugars and things with just a bit more sugar than they should have (e.g.; beans), but the auto-immune addition is the big boy.
No nightshades at all for 30 days.  Nightshades are a cross-continent family of plants that includes pretty much most things you would want to eat that are plants.  There are exceptions, but it generally means no tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, chili peppers, bell peppers, tomatillo, gooseberry,  It also means a whole bunch of seeds are off-limits, such as cumin, coriander, curry powder, red pepper flakes, etc.  Also nuts are out!  No peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, etc.

Wow.  That pretty much kills everything except meat.
But you have to have something with your meat, right?

I found another simple Larb Gai recipe and modified it for this crazy diet.  Works pretty well, even if you don't add sriracha (like I did for my portion).

Larb Gai Backup Plan

Ingredients

  • 1# ground chicken
  • 6 Tb non-sugar fish sauce (e.g.; Red Boat)
  • 6 Tb fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 c. chopped shallots
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 Tb chopped cilantro leaves (just no seeds)
  • 2 Tb sliced scallions
  • 10 basil and/or mint leaves, rolled & sliced

Garnishes

  • Lettuce leaves
  • Cucumber spears
  • Rice (for the heathens - like me)
  • Chili Sauce (um...also me)

Directions

  1. Heat a wok to a billion degrees or just very hot.  Add 1/2 c. of water and the ground chicken, stirring constantly to break it up.  Cook for about 2 minutes until pretty much done and then add to big bowl with slotted spoon.
  2. Add the rest of the non-garnish ingredients and mix well.
  3. Serve with garnishes and eat!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Salmon Burgers!

Time again to improve upon a recipe I grabbed from the NYT.   They are good, but they seem to lack flavor to really make something just a bit better.  This time it's the salmon burger.  I don't know why they don't have any herbs in the base recipe.  Why would you do that?  Anyhow, you can use basil or tarragon or dill or thyme or oregano - they'll all work and present different directions for your palette.
Last night I used a few Tb of dill and it worked just great.  I also upped the mustard and capers from the original recipe.  Also, the original recipe only had lemon slices and tabasco for the condiments.   I used some chimichurri and also some garlic aioli (not mixed together).

Salmon Burgers

Ingredients

  • 3# skinless, boneless, salmon
  • 2 Tb Dijon Mustard
  • 4 shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 c. course bread crumbs, preferably from some stale or toasted bread
  • 2 Tb capers
  • 2 Tb chopped dill
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • Butter & Olive Oil

Directions

  1. Cut the salmon into 1/2" chunks.  Put 1/4 of the total into a food processor with the Dijon mustard.  Process until pasty.
  2. Add the shallots and remaining salmon and pulse the machine for a while.  Scrape down the salmon and pulse some more.  The paste from step 1 should act as a binder for the salmon in step 2.  The pulsing of the salmon should leave it around 1/4" or smaller.  It should not be pasty at this point.
  3. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and (by hand) mix the bread crumbs, capers, dill, salt and pepper.  Shape into reasonable sized burgers.  You should refrigerate the burgers at this point for 20 mins or so.  
  4. Take a large skillet over medium high heat and put in 1-2 Tb of butter and olive oil.  When the butter stops foaming put in some number salmon burgers so they don't crowd the pan too much.  Any remaining salmon burgers should be left in the refrigerator while the others cook.
  5. Cook each burger for 3 minutes per side, turning once.  
  6. If you have more burgers to cook, take the cooked burgers and put them on a foil lined sheet and put them in a low oven (not higher than 200F) while the others cook.
  7. Serve with some tasty sauce

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Gai Sap Ka Prow

This is my standard.  I couldn't believe that I hadn't posted this recipe already.
It is my summer go-to when I can't think of what I want to cook.
It's relatively easy and always delicious.

I tend to grind dark meat chicken using a large dye rather than buying ground chicken because I find the latter too mealy.  In a pinch, however, the bought ground chicken or pork or turkey will do fine.

I should have prefaced that by saying I like ground chicken more than large pieces of chicken.  There's a couple simple reasons for this.  When you cut something up, there's more surface area.  This allows for 2 important abilities when cooking: (1) the cut-up matter will cook more quickly (2) the cut-up matter with its larger surface area is exposed to more of the sauce that the matter is being cooked in.  More flavor integrated into the meat and less cooking time.  Win-win.

Serve this dish with rice if you want to soak up the sauce.
Couple notes:

  1. Black soy sauce is different than soy sauce.  It's sweeter and richer - very different consistency. It adds both salt and sweetness which works nicely.
  2. You can use Genovese basil instead of Thai but it is different.  Thai basil has a very characteristic flavor, but honestly, both are delicious.

Ingredients

  • 4 Tb coconut / peanut oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 4 serrano peppers, chopped
  • 1# ground chicken/turkey/pork/etc.
  • 1 large red onion, sliced
  • 4 Tb fish sauce
  • 2 Tb white vinegar
  • 1 Tb brown sugar
  • 2 Tb black soy sauce
  • 3 scallions, cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 1 1/4 c. Thai basil

Directions

  1. Heat a wok over medium high heat.  Heat the oil.
  2. Add the garlic and peppers and saute for about 1 minute.
  3. Add the ground meat and saute for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the sliced onion and continue to saute until onions and meat are ready.
  5. Add the fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, black soy sauce to the wok and bring to a simmer.  Let simmer for a minute or two while mixing the food in the wok.
  6. Add the scallions and slightly wilt in the wok.
  7. Add the basil and stir until wilted.
  8. Serve with rice and eat!
You can certainly add more garlic and chilis if you want.  More flavor = good.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Simple Larb Something or Another

This is one of my daughter's favorite dishes, and I'm proud of her for it.
It's a classic Thai/Vietnamese style dish, full of flavor and easy to cook.  You tend to cook it with ground or chopped relatively lean chicken, but you can also use pork, beef or turkey.
So easy and quick, too.

Ingredients

  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 Tb coconut oil / peanut oil
  • 1# ground meat (pork, chicken, beef, turkey)
  • 1 Tb toasted rice powder (optional)
  • 1 Tb chopped garlic
  • 1 Tb minced ginger
  • 1/4 c. fish sauce
  • juice of a lime
  • 3 scallions, sliced fine
  • 1/4 c. chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 c. chopped mint / basil
  • 1/2 tart apple (e.g.; Granny Smith), diced in 1/4"
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • lettuce leaves for scooping up the mix

Directions

  1. Heat wok over medium heat.  Cook the shallot for 3 minutes.  
  2. Add the ground meat and stir fry until the pink is mostly gone / mostly cooked.
  3. Add the scallions, garlic & ginger, (and optional rice powder) and stir fry until the meat is cooked.
  4. Stir in fish sauce, lime juice, herbs and apple.  Mix well and turn off heat.
  5. Serve with sliced cucumbers and lettuce leaves.  Wrap up meat & cucumber in lettuce leaves and eat.

Tater Tots - well defined bar of excellence

They might give you diabetes.
They have tons of calories and fat and starch.
Yet, they are more consistently fabulous than many other favored starches.
I have had a surprisingly great number of foul french fries - or at least completely mediocre and disappointing french fries, yet this is not true of tater tots.

When someone says "tater tots", you know what you want in them and you are almost assuredly going to get what you envision.   Burger King - Royalty of mediocre fast food have tater tots on their breakfast menu, and they're really not bad.  Their fries are awful, but their tots.  Well within the margin of acceptability.

Napoleon Dynamite showed us anyone can appreciate the glory of tater tots.   They actually keep relatively well over a moderate amount of time whereas French fries get a little more nasty over the same period of time.

Tater Tots.
Well-defined.
Well-loved.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Cauliflower is Good

There really are a ton of good cauliflower recipes.  I'm not a fan of eating it raw, but it can be done with the right sauce.  That being said...why would you eat it raw unless you had no means of cooking?
Perhaps in the post-apocalyptic world there will be problems finding means of cooking and I'll reconsider then, but for now, let's cook it.

Our friend, Sally, brought up a fine cauliflower tot recipe she found on Food 52 and uses when she wants tater tots, but wants to feel slightly better about them.
These are pretty good and they do have cheese, which is just fine.  I think the Food 52 recipe includes bread crumbs, but we bag on those for now.  Cheese will work just fine to boost the flavor.  I also tend to use dried herbs in the mixture because I can.  I love fresh herbs, but they're not fully coming up yet so I'll work with the dried for now.

Crispy Cauliflower Tots

Ingredients


  • 1 # cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1/3 c. grated Parmesan
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 Tb fresh herbs (1 Tb dried herbs)
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp ground pepper
  • oil


Directions


  1. Preheat oven to 400F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and brush with olive oil.
  2. Steam the cauliflower until tender.  Cool to room temperature.
  3. Place cauliflower in clean dishtowel, roll up, and wring to extract as much moisture from the cauliflower a you can.
  4. Transfer cauliflower to large bowl and break florets apart.  Add Parmesan, egg, herbs, garlic powder and pepper, and mix until well-combined.
  5. Using a tablespoon, scoop mixture onto baking sheet.  Brush tots with olive oil.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes.  Take out and turn them over.  Brush with olive oil.  Bake another 15 minutes.
  7. Serve warm


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Chicken Shawarma

No Pita this time, but it would totally work.  You could add some pickled veggies with the shawarma and some tzatziki or spiced tahini and that would work great.
But for tonight, we're just mixing it up with some tomatoes, olives and onions and calling it a meal.
Like many fine roasting dishes, this takes no time as long as you think ahead.  You just need that one moment in the morning where you say, "Hey!  It's time to marinade something!"  and ultimately, that's all it takes.  There's almost no active cooking involved.  It's really just about marinading something ahead of time and reaping the benefit later.

Chicken Shawarma

Ingredients

  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • ½ c. plus 1 Tb olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika, sweet or hot based on preference
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2# boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 large red onion, quartered
  • 1-2 chopped tomatoes
  • 12 olives, cut in half
  • 2 Tb parsley, chopped

Directions

  1. Marinade: Combine lemon juice, ½ c. olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon and red pepper flakes in a bowl and whisk to combine.  Add the chicken and coat.  Cover in the refrigerator for 1-12 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 425F
  3. Use remaining olive oil to grease a rimmed sheet pan.   Add the quartered onion to the chicken and marinade and toss to combine.  Remove the chicken and onion from the marinade and spread on the pan.
  4. Put the chicken/onion in the oven and roast for 30-40 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let the chicken rest for a few minutes.  Then slice the chicken further.
  5. Heat a large skillet over high heat.  Toss the chicken and onions in the pan until a bit more crisp and browned.  The remove and add to a bowl.
  6. Add the tomatoes, olive and parsley to the bowl, and mix before serving.
Note: On the turmeric front.  It's not like annato.  It's not just something to make your dish turn yellow.  If the turmeric doesn't have a scent, it's not going to be as good.  Turmeric should always have a scent when using it, and if it doesn't, purge what you've been storing and get some new turmeric.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Smoking Smogasbord

Got a dinner coming up so I wanted to make sure I have some stuff available...some smoked stuff.
I'm making another smoky baba ghanoush (although slightly different technique), some more Zak Palaccio inspired bacon, smoked duck breast for a salad, and some smoked eggs.

The smoker will be set at 250F and I'm using oak.

For the bacon, this is a fennel and coriander seed rubbed bacon.   I have let the pork belly sit in the dry rub for just about a week in the refrigerator.  I rub off the dry rub and let the proto-bacon sit at room temperature an hour or two before smoking.

For the duck breast, I have chose not to brine it this time.  You can do all sorts of overnight brinings should you want, but it's really not necessary.  The one issue with the non-brine approach is that you definitely don't want to smoke it too long - not more than 6 hours for sure, else it will dry out.  At the slightly higher heat of 250, we definitely don't want it too long.

For the baba ghanoush, the eggplants will solely be cooked in the smoker this time.  However, prior to smoking, I'm spending a couple hours getting some of the moisture out.  To do this, I cut the eggplants lengthwise and sprinkle the non-skin side with salt.  Then I place the eggplants cut side down on a rack sitting in a cookie sheet and place these sheets in the refrigerator for 2 hours.   This should get some of the excess water out of the eggplant allowing us to smoke them for an hour or two and absorb the tasty smoke flavor.

Time wise in the smoker, the bacon and duck will be the longest at this temperature.   The eggplants are in there for about 60-90 minutes and then I drop the temperature to around 225F to finish off the meats.   The duck will be ready before the bacon, 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 hours to reach a target temperature of 135F.

The bacon will be longer - it needs to be around 175F - so keep the wood smoking.

Oh yeah, the smoked eggs.

Smoked Deviled Eggs

Ingredients

  • 12 eggs

Filling

  • ½ c. mayo
  • 1Tb Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp Sriracha
  •  Salt & pepper

Toppings

  • Chives
  • Smoked paprika
  • Caviar
  • Bacon
  • Smoked Salmon

Directions


  1. Hard cook the eggs via the CIA method.  Put eggs in sauce pan and cover by a couple inches.  Bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 11 minutes.   Put pan off heat.
  2. Fill the sauce pan with the eggs with COLD water, then shell the eggs.  Return eggs to cold water to cool, then drain and dry.  Can be done a couple days ahead.
  3. Preheat smoker to 225F.
  4. Smoke the eggs until bronzed, around 20-30 minutes.  Let cool.
  5. Cut the eggs in half and pop out the yokes.  Place the yokes in a food processor.  Add mayo, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce and purée.  Spoon mixture back into eggs.
  6. Et voilà!


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Nothing Says OooMerrrGerrrd like Making Your Own Bacon

It's true.  What the title says.
I am talking pork bacon, but you could make other bacons probably with this spice recipe as long as you have enough fat and you're not trying it with some sort of turkey tenderloin or other non-bacon-like substance.
There's some fun aromas in this recipe and I absolutely credit Fatty Crab/Cue dude, Zak Palaccio, though I did mess with the levels a teensie bit and added Aleppo Pepper.


Fennel, Coriander, Chili Bacon

Ingredients

  • 1 oz. coriander seed
  • 1/2 oz fennel seed
  • 1/2 oz. black pepper
  • 1/4 oz. Aleppo pepper
  • 1/4 oz. dried puyo chilis or birds eye or something small and heaty
  • 1 oz. kosher salt
  • 2 Tb. palm sugar
  • 1/2 oz cilantro stems, chopped
  • 2# pork belly

Directions

  1. Buy the pork belly.  Try to make sure it's close to 1" thick for the entire length/width of the slab.
  2. Pull out your spice grinder and grind the first 7 ingredients (read: not the cilanto stems) in sessions, putting the ground goodness into some bowl.
  3. Add the chopped cilantro stems to the bowl.  I did not grind the cilantro stems because they will just gum up the spice grinder, which sucks to clean and get off.  So just chop fine and add.
  4. Pull out some plastic wrap.   Cover one side of the pork belly with 1/2 the ground mixture and cover that side with plastic wrap.  Flip the pork belly and put the rest of the mixture on the pork belly.  Cover the rest of the pork belly with plastic wrap.
  5. Place the wrapped pork belly into the fridge for 5-8 days.
  6. Remove plastic wrap from pork belly and brush off the spices from the pork belly.  Let pork belly sit outside the smoker while it comes to temperature.
  7. Prepare smoker at around 200-225F with either fruit woods or oak or hickory - probably not mesquite.  Start the smoke going.
  8. Put the pork belly into the smoker and smoke it for several hours until the internal temperature of the pork belly is 175F (fully cooked temperature).
  9. Fry, Bake or Eat the pork belly

Monday, February 20, 2017

Extra Sunchokes? Roast 'Em with Chicken

We have chosen to get an allotment of goods from the farmers' market on a regular basis.  Besides the normal showing up at the market and getting stuff, we also have a delivery that comes every week.  During the happy, spring, summer and autumn months, there is plenty of variety of goods.
Winter is a challenge.  I dread seeing the same apples that were picked in October, so when we can, we ask for other choices, typically a range of root vegetables.
One such visiting root vegetable is the Jerusalem artichoke / Sunchoke.   They're very easy to roast and offer nice texture and flavor.  I typically roast them alone at medium heat with herbs and olive oil, but in this recipe, they're under high heat with the chicken.
Just added the wine & olives


Roasted Chicken with Sunchokes

Ingredients

  • 2-3# skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs, cut up
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1+2 Tb olive oil
  • 1 lemon, with grated zest
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 Tb fried garlic
  • 1 # sunchokes, peeled
  • 3 medium red onions
  • 2 tsp dried herbes de Provence
  • 1 c. white wine
  • 1 c. green or black olives

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and rub with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place chicken in a shallow roasting pan; set aside. Zest the lemon into long strips, and squeeze juice from lemon into a small bowl. Set aside juice.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine lemon zest, garlics, Jerusalem artichokes, onions, and herbs. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil; season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat, and arrange in pan around chicken. Roast until chicken is golden brown, about 40 minutes.
  3. Remove from oven. Add reserved lemon juice, wine, and olives; stir up any browned bit`s on the bottom of roasting pan with a wooden spoon. Return to oven, and continue cooking until liquid has thickened slightly, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and transfer to serving plates. Garnish with grated lemon zest.
Based on a Martha Stewart recipe.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Fish Sauce

This recipe is a standard at our house.  My daughter loves it and therefore, given that the main ingredient is the potentially challenging Brussels Sprout, it is a staple.
You can deep fry the Brussels Sprouts, like David Chang or Brian Voltaggio, but it's still pretty damn good to just roast them at high heat for 25 minutes - and relatively more healthy.

Ingredients

  • 1# Brussels Sprouts, halved (or quartered)
  • 2-4 Tb canola, vegetable or peanut oil
  • 1/4 c. fish sauce
  • 2 Tb water
  • 2 Tb rice wine vinegar
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 Tb granulated sugar
  • 1 Tb chili paste (e.g.; Sambal Oelek)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425F
  2. Mix the cut Brussels Sprouts with the oil.  Lay them out on a baking sheet and then put the sheet in the oven for 25 minutes.
  3. In a small jar, mix the remaining ingredients.
  4. When the Brussels Sprouts are out of the oven, put them in a shallow bowl and place about 1/2 of the ingredients in the jar with the sprouts.  Taste one to see if it works for you.  If it needs more, add more sauce from the jar.
So easy.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Meatloaf with Moroccan Spices

While we're on an middle eastern / north African bent, here's a decent recipe yanked from the NYTimes for meatloaf some nice earthy, north African spicing.   You can use ketchup as a side sauce, but why not try the yogurt, pine nut & lemon juice?

Ingredients


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, more as needed
  • 1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 12 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 to 2 medium stalks celery, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 large carrot, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 3 inches fresh ginger root, peeled and  minced (about 1/3 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 7 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • ½ cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup whole­wheat bread crumbs
  • 2# ground lamb

Side Sauce
  • ½ c. pine nuts, toasted 
  • 1c. plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 Tb lemon juice

Directions

1.       Heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat, then add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for another minute or two. Add the celery, carrots and ginger, and cook for about 5 minutes, adding more olive oil as needed to make sure ingredients are well coated and softening.
2.       Add the spices: cumin, smoked paprika, coriander, cinnamon and salt, stirring well to mix. (You can alter spices to your liking, with more or less of those recommended or adding curry powder, nutmeg, allspice, black or cayenne pepper.) Add the tomato paste and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring well and scraping the bottom of the pan with a spatula to ensure the spices don’t burn. Once mixture is cooked, remove pan from heat and let cool for about 15 minutes.
3.       Meanwhile, combine in a large bowl the fresh herbs (cilantro, mint and parsley) and the eggs and bread crumbs. Add the ground lamb and the cooled mixture. Mix well with clean hands, until all ingredients are blended.
4.       Place the mixture into a 9­by­5­inch loaf pan and cover with aluminum foil. Create a water bath by placing the loaf pan into a larger baking pan and filling the larger pan halfway with lukewarm water.
5.       Put the meatloaf, in the bath, into the oven and cook for about 1 hour 30 minutes. After an hour, check the meatloaf, and remove the foil if you would like a firmer top. Bake until internal temperature reaches 140 degrees.
6.       Remove pans from the oven, lift the loaf pan out of the water bath, and let the meatloaf cool for at least 5 minutes. If there is excessive grease, carefully pour that out and discard it. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cooled, depending on your taste.

7.       Side Sauce: Mix the yogurt, lemon juice and pine nuts together with a spoon, and serve in a small dish on the side.

Smoky Baba Ghanoush

With or without some smoking time on this, it's still a good dip.  If you don't think you've added enough smoked paprika or you're worried about its flavor interfering with smokiness, then I would definitely setup a 2265F smoker for the eggplant.  You can skip the whole roasting step, but then the smoking will take longer.  But if you roast and then smoke, you can impart a stronger smoke flavor without all of the time that it would take to roast the eggplants in the smoker.

Ingredients

  • 3 medium eggplants
  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • 2 Tb garlic
  • 1 Tb tahini
  • 3 Tb lemon juice
  •  1 tsp smoked paprika
  •  ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 Tb hot sauce
  •  2 Tb chopped parsley
  • Salt to Taste
  • Pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450F
  2. Place eggplants baking sheet and roast for 1 hour, turning eggplants every 15-30 minutes.  
  3. Optional:Setup smoker at 225F. Smoke the roasted eggplants another 1-2 hours
  4. Put colander over bowl.  Scoop out flesh and place in colander; discard skins.  Let flesh drain, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes
  5. Toast cumin on stove with paprika until aroma permeates – 30 seconds
  6. Transfer eggplants to medium bowl and mash with fork.
  7. Stir in garlic, tahini, lemon juice, paprika, cumin and parsley.
  8. Slowly add olive oil while stirring.
  9. Season with salt and pepper.



Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Super Fast and Easy Faux Caesar Salad Dressing

It's not really caesar salad dressing.
But it is quick and tasty and on days when I'm busy all day and don't really have the opportunity to do much work beyond work, I need alternatives.

Quick!  Chop up some greens.  Even better, grab a few different greens from the fridge and chop 'em good.  Maybe I'll even chop up some carrots.  Or maybe not.  But greens are good.  Eat more greens.

So on to the recipe which is based most fervently on my lovely wife's faux caesar recipe.

  • 1/4 c. lemon juice
  • 1/4 c. champagne vinegar
  • 1 small can of anchovies including oil
  • 1 Tb fried garlic, or just minced garlic
  • 1 HEAPING Tb Dijon mustard
  • 1 good dash (maybe 1-2 tsp) Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 1 blender / Vitamix
You don't eat the Vitamix, don't worry.
But just blend those ingredients together.  You can blend them all at once, or do all of them and then slowly add the olive oil at the end - your choice.  I think a great deal depends on the blender and your taste.  The Vitamix can really just churn everything into a frothy mix no matter what, so don't worry about adding the oil later for that.  You could put anything in it and it'll still come out frothy and nice.

Anyhow - quick recipe!  Use it!  Improve it!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Chili Cook-off 2017 - Part #2 The Vegan Chili

Part #2 of the Chili-Cookoff is the Vegan entry.  Honestly, the other chili recipe is all meat so I have to balance things out a little bit.   This recipe came out quite nicely.  It's a mixture of a couple standard recipes I work with and I'm pretty happy with it.

Andy's Vegan Chili 2017

Ingredients

·         ¼ c. oil
·         4 onions, chopped fine
·         2 red bell peppers, chopped fine
·         12 oz. veggie ‘meat’ crumble or veggie breakfast sausage, broken up
·         Dash or two of Maggie seasoning
·         8 oz. mushrooms, chopped fine
·         8 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
·         ¼ c. instant espresso powder
·         ¼ c. chili powder
·         1 Tb. Chipotle chili powder
·         ¼ c. Ground cumin
·         2 Tb. Ground coriander
·         1 Tb. Cocoa powder
·         1 tsp. cinnamon
·         1 Tb. smoked paprika
·         ¼ c. Oregano
·         2 Tb. Honey
·         3 Tb Brown Sugar
·         1 25oz. box Pomi, chopped tomatoes
·         2 15oz. cans, kidney beans
·         2 15oz. cans, black beans
·         2-4 c. vegetable stock

Directions 

1.     In large pot, sauté onions, peppers, veggie meat over medium heat for 5 minutes.
2.     Add mushrooms, sauté for 5 minutes.
3.     Add garlic and Maggie seasoning, sauté for 2 minutes.
4.     Mix in espresso powder, chili powders, cumin, coriander, cocoa, cinnamon, smoked paprika and oregano.  Cook for 1 minute.
5.     Add honey, brown sugar and tomatoes.  Bring to simmer.  Reduce heat to medium low and cover 30 minutes.

6.     Add beans and stock to cover.  You should not have more liquid than the top of the beans.  Increase heat to bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to medium-low and cover for 30 minutes.

Chili Cook-off 2017 - Part #1 The Meat Chili

Another year passes and another chili cook-off commences.   This year I elected to enter 2 different chilies into the cook-off, a meat centric chili con carne style recipe, and a vegan recipe.  To be honest, I would have preferred a bit more spice on the meat chili, but it's still got a good deal of flavor.
The meat chili is derived from several of the recipes of contestants at the Terlingua International Chili Cook-off, and it follows a similar style of browning the meat, and then adding subsequent dumps to simmer and improve the chili as it cooks.

Andy’s Meat Chili – Jan 2017

Ingredients


Core
  •  8-10# chuck roast, chili grind
  •  3 Tb oil/suet (potentially a couple more Tb oil)

First Liquids
  •  24 oz. beef stock
  •  24 oz. chicken stock
  •  29 oz. tomato sauce (2 15oz cans)

First Dump
  •  6 Tb. Fried red onions
  •  4 Tb. Fried garlic
  •  2 tsp beef bouillon
  •  6 Tb. Chili Powder (New Mexico chiles)
  •  1 Tb pasilla oaxaqueña powder (or dried chipotle powder)

Second Dump
·         6 Tb. Fried red onion
·         4 Tb. Fried garlic
·         1 Tb unsweetened cocoa powder
·         3 Tb Cumin
·         6 Tb Chili Powder (New Mexico chiles)
·         1 Tb pasilla oaxaqueña powder (or dried chipotle powder)

Third Dump
·         6 Tb. Chili Powder (New Mexico chiles)
·         4 Tb oregano
·         1 Tb..Cumin
·         1 Tb unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions 

1.     In a 12 quart pot brown Core ingredients in a single or slightly above single layer.  Should take 3 or 4 batches given the amount of meat.  After each batch, remove meat, potentially add another Tb of oil for next batch.  When all batches are done, remove all grease from pot with a paper towel. 
2.     Add First liquids and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, add First Dump and cook for 10 minutes.
3.     Add drained meat with slotted spoon and drop temperature to simmer for 35-45 minutes, covered.
4.     Turn off heat and let sit for an hour. 
5.       Bring back to a boil then add Second Dump. Reduce heat and cook for 15 minutes.
6.       Add Third Dump and cook for 15-30 minutes depending on remaining moisture.
7.       Add stock, and cayenne or hot sauce as needed.