Monday, June 28, 2010

Franks and onions with homemade tater tots

When I was growing up (in a family of seven with not much money) we were served very cost-conscious meals. One favorite of all of us was fried baloney and onions on mashed potatoes. So I’ve deconstructed it for today’s post.

Why would a person want to make homemade tater tots? Just to prove it could be done. I noted a while back that Jenn ( often made tater tots and I started thinking about them. My first attempt was a total disaster. But Thomas Edison didn’t give up after his first light bulb. (Incidentally, I went to Thomas Alva Edison Jr. / Sr. High School back before many of you were born.)

This was a real EUREKA! moment, especially when Peter came home just after I pulled them out of the oven and tasted one. He doesn’t mince words and said he’d be glad to have them as a side dish any time. Even serve them to guests.

A word about your broiler. Most will cycle on and off if the door is closed. I recommend pre-heating for 5 minutes with the door closed but that the cooking time be done with the door ajar (I guess most ovens have a spot where the door stays open 4 or 5 inches). This does allow heat to escape into your kitchen, but it’s crucial to the success of these little miracles.

As for the franks and onions part, just caramelize the onions over medium-high heat (6 on my electric ranges 1-10 dial), about 20 minutes. Toss in the dogs when you put the flipped over tots in for their last 5 minutes. I turned off the burner and let the dogs warm up with the residual heat.

Tater Tots in a Trice (makes about 25)
1 package Simply Potatoes hash browns
¼ cup lightly beaten egg white (or egg whites in a box from the store)
2 heaping tbsp corn starch
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Preheat broiler and place a rack in the second slot from the top.

Toss all the dry ingredients with the potatoes in a bowl until well-incorporated. Then add egg and oil and toss to incorporate. I used a napkin ring to mold the tots, and an upside down caper jar to press them into shape. The lid of the jar was the perfect size for the napkin ring.

Lubricate a baking sheet very thoroughly (with sides or else the tots will slide off after flipping) with cooking spray. Place the tots on it and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Then broil 10 minutes, rotating the pan after 5. Turn them over and broil another 5 minutes until nicely browned. Eat.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Caesar salad with anchovy croutons

A traditional Caesar salad is of course made with romaine lettuce. We actually have some in the garden, which has filled out nicely. So we took a Melissa Clark NY Times recipe, tinkered with it, and made this wet-your-pants-good concoction. Then we made it again, and again. Each time a detail or two was altered.
Don’t be put off by the quantity of anchovies. The flavor just blends into both the croutons and the dressing.
We almost always have homemade croutons on hand from the ends of baguettes we get for lunchtime sandwiches. This recipe makes enough dressing for the two of us to have twice. We had just 7 shrimp in the freezer and so extended the protein by adding 3 slices of crisp bacon (400 degree oven for 20 minutes).

Serve the romaine as separated leaves, cut across into 1” pieces. Sometimes I like to slice the romaine in half lengthwise and leave it intact – your choice.

Caesar salad with anchovy croutons
½ cup olive oil
7 anchovy filets, finely chopped
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped or pressed
3 oz. crusty day-old bread in 3/4” cubes
1/8 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
½ tsp black pepper
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 ½ tsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 large eggs
1 medium head romaine lettuce for each 2 servings (substitute other greens as you choose)
¾ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

The protein:
3 oz. cooked shrimp per serving
3 slices crispy bacon, broken in pieces
Make croutons: Heat 3 tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add half the anchovies and cook, stirring, until they melt into oil, about 2 minutes. Stir in half the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add bread cubes, salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Toast, tossing frequently, until croutons are golden and crisp, 3-5 minutes.

Make dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining garlic and anchovies, plus lemon juice, mustard, W-sauce and remaining pepper. Slowly whisk in remaining olive oil (I found I did not need all of it; just taste as you go along).Prepare eggs: poach them in simmering water to which a bit of vinegar has been added. Or soft boil them in the shell (4 minutes). Or (as I did last night) throw them into the pan where you’ve cooked the shrimp and stir around with a spatula for 15-20 seconds. Make them as runny or fully cooked as you prefer.
Assembly: Combine greens, cheese and croutons in a large bowl. Add some dressing and toss to coat. Toss well and add salt to taste. Put into wide bowls and garnish with cooked shrimp, bacon, and an egg to make a complete meal.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Pork burger Indochine

A sandwich for dinner? Yep. You could make this with ground turkey or chicken. As it happens, we had a boatload of thin-cut pork loin chops. After removing the bones from 3 of them, we had 10 oz. of meat which I ground, using an attachment for my mixer. A food processor works too.

This is a recipe we’ve had for a long, long time. I had to use my calculator to adjust the proportions of ingredients to meat, but it was no big deal. I’m listing the original amounts just to make it easy for anyone who might want to try this.

I couldn’t find any brown sugar in the pantry, so I subbed maple syrup.

Pork burgers Indochine
¾ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup finely chopped basil leaves
¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
2 scallions, finely chopped
2 tbsp lime juice

¼ cup fish sauce (nuoc mam)
4 tsp brown sugar, honey or maple syrup
1 tsp sriracha or other hot chili sauce
2 lbs. freshly ground pork
¼ cup chunky peanut butter
2 tsp grated ginger
2 tsp minced garlic
½ tsp ground star anise (or clove)

Mix all dressing ingredients in a bowl. Do the same with the whole patty thing.

Form into burgers (4). Heat a skillet and add a bit of olive oil and butter to it. Cook the burgers about 4 minutes per side over medium-high heat (5 on my electric range 1-10 dial). Serve on your favorite rolls with sauce and lettuce.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Real Man's Ham and Cheese Quiche

This is, I think, one of the finest things I ever made.

I decided to trot this out again from long ago. In doing so I essentially rewrote the whole recipe.
Don't think less of me for using store-bought crust, I'm not a pastry person. I'm perfectly happy with Pillsbury! I made this with homemade ham which just finished curing yesterday. Don't think I'll post a recipe for it; one of those supermarket ham slices will serve nicely.

Real Man's Ham and Cheese Quiche
1 pie crust, thawed if frozen, at room temperature
4 large eggs, beaten moderately
1 tbsp olive oil
2-3 scallions, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 cup cream
1 cup diced ham
1 cup grated cheese (you choose the cheese)
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Put the crust in a 9" pie plate and crimp the edges. Add a circle of foil and pie weights or beans. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove weights (carefully!). Brush the crust with some beaten egg. Allow the crust to cool completely.

Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.

In the meantime, heat the oil in a saute pan. Add scallion and green pepper and cook for about 3 minutes, just until softened slightly. Set aside to cool.

Whisk the scallion, green pepper and cream into the eggs. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

When the crust is cool, put the ham and cheese in the bottom of it. Pour the custard mixture into the crust. Place the pie plate on a baking sheet and put it into the oven. Bake 25-35 minutes until the center has just set.

Set aside to rest. Serve warm 0r at room temperature with a salad.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Chicken roasted with lime and maple syrup

Yesterday I was planning to cook some chicken parts in the oven with garam masala and yogurt. Then, while having a look at some blogs referenced at, I visited and was metaphorically struck between the eyes by a recipe for chicken with lime and honey. I recalled how often Jenn would use lime and how I don’t so much.

So, with gratitude to these two, I incorporated their ideas into what turned out to be some of the tastiest chicken I have ever made. The amount of glaze (or sauce) was indicated for a whole cutup chicken. I used the whole batch for what I guess was about ½ a chicken: 2 big legs and 2 big thighs.

Instead of honey I used some top-quality maple syrup we had. The cooking time for me was 45 minutes, probably because I took the (previously) brined chicken pieces out of the fridge 45 minutes before cooking.

Our appetites are not as gargantuan as they once were, and we each ate one thigh. This morning Peter turned the leg meat into a chicken salad.

Chicken roasted with lime and maple syrup
2 chicken legs and 2 chicken thighs
kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
1 jalapeno, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tablespoons olive oil
juice from 1 lime

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Rinse and pat dry the chicken. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet skin side down.

Combine jalapeno, garlic, maple syrup, olive oil and lime juice in a food processor. Process for about 30 seconds or until jalapenos are chopped fine.

Brush jalapeno lime mixture over the top of the chicken about 5 minutes before putting it in the oven. This gets some of the flavor on what will be the bottom side. Turn the chicken skin side up and brush with more sauce, reserving just enough to add later.

Bake in preheated oven for 45 – 60 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. If the skin starts to brown too much tent some foil over the top. Heat the reserved sauce in the microwave and brush it onto the chicken while it does a 5 minutes rest before serving.

Friday, June 18, 2010


I think I’ll let wikipedia tell you a little about this:
“Colcannon is traditionally made from mashed potatoes, kale or cabbage, butter, salt, and pepper. It can contain other ingredients such as milk, cream, leeks, onions, chives, garlic, boiled ham or Irish bacon. At one time it was a cheap, year-round staple food, though it is usually eaten in Autumn/Winter, when kale comes into season.”

Years ago Peter got a jones for making colcannon, invariably with cabbage. I was never crazy about it but ate it just the same. More recently we’ve begun making it (quite often in fact) with other greens, spinach, chard and, now, stuff out of our garden.

The version we had last night was potato and arugula, milk, cheese, and I don’t know what else. No recipe is necessary – just mix together whatever you like. The picture shows colcannon with the last of the country-style pork ribs from earlier in the week, dressed with some pan juices.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Roasted chicken wings

We got a big package of chicken wings yesterday at 50% off in the manager’s special bin. I froze half of them and put the rest into a salt and pepper brine overnight. I wanted to do them in a simple fashion and came up with the recipe below. I never brined chicken for this long before. I decided it would be wise to check out the saltiness. I cut off one drumette and nuked it for 3 minutes. Oops, too salty. I soaked the wings in cold water in the fridge for 2 hours before proceding. That took care of the sodium problem.

Given that I was making this up as I went along, after the fact I’m scouring my brain to get the details down. It probably doesn’t matter, as no one else is going to make wings in exactly this fashion. So let’s look at it as a lesson in “how to manage a work in progress.”

In the end they weren’t strongly flavored, but they were moist and ready to gently pull off the bone with your teeth.

Roasted chicken wings

8 large brined chicken wings

1 stick unsalted butter

½ tsp garlic powder, or more

½ tsp onion powder, or more

black pepper

1 tbsp smoked paprika

lemon wedges (optional)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Rinse and dry the wings. Melt the butter. Season with onion and garlic powders and pepper. Put the wings in a large bowl. Pour the butter mix over them and toss to coat.

Put a baking rack or two on a baking sheet with 1” sides. Reserve leftover marinade. Coat with cooking spray. Arrange the wings on the racks. Add some water or broth to the baking sheet. Cover tightly with foil.

Bake for 30 minutes, reduce heat to 275 degrees and continue baking for 45 minutes. Remove foil from the pan. At this point the wings won’t be brown – they’ve been more or less steaming so far.

Increase oven to 400 degrees.

Remove foil. Heat marinade in the microwave for 20 seconds. Brush it on the wings. Sprinkle paprika over them. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes or until well browned. Let rest for 10 minutes and then serve.

Pasta with cottage cheese and arugula

I’m not posting a recipe today, but had to share this picture of a dish Peter pulled out of his … um, … imagination (yeah, that’s it) yesterday. We pulled up all the arugula from the garden. It was starting to go to seed. After washing and trimming it of thick stems we have a huge quantity leftover.

I can tell you this much: it’s bow tie pasta tossed with spices, pureed cottage cheese, parmesan. The arugula wilted when we tossed the hot pasta into the sauce. My contribution was to poach some shrimp which, as you can see, we scattered on the top along with lemon juice.

It was SO beautiful! Just thought I’d share.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Bbq'd country-style pork ribs

Peter bought a few pounds worth of country-style pork ribs on Friday. As I start this post (Sunday, late morning) they are marinating in a bbq sauce that is a composite of at least 3 sources.

Last night we watched an episode of “Jamie (Oliver) at Home” on the Cooking Channel. He was doing absolute magic with bbq on the grill. I don’t grill any more but loved a lot of the ingredients he included in the sauce/marinade. I was missing a couple of his inclusions, but just put together a bunch of stuff and, when it was all mixed together, it tasted great. I guess everybody has favorite flavors. For bbq I gravitate toward cumin, plenty of pepper (red and black) and liquid smoke.

So here’s what I did this morning:

Stevie’s bbq sauce (for pork, chicken or beef)
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tbsp fennel seed
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp garlic powder, or to taste
1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika (or more if using Hungarian)
½ cup orange juice
lemon zest (1 lemon, peeled off with a sharp paring knife)
1 cup of your favorite ketchup
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp liquid smoke

Grind the cumin, fennel and rosemary in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle (in which case a couple pinches of salt help).

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, pour over ribs and refrigerate them for several hours (or even overnight).

That’s what I did this morning. When I resume this post tomorrow I’ll bring the whole thing together.

Monday morning now…wow, those ribs were good! I hadn’t done this in quite a while and couldn’t remember just how long it would take for them to tenderize. Here’s the plan:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Put the ribs on a baking rack (I needed to use two) on a baking pan. Reserve leftover marinade. Pour in 1 cup of chicken stock or water. Cover tightly with foil and put into the oven.

After 30 minutes reduce oven temp to 275 degrees. I do the slightly higher temp at the beginning just to jump start the cooking. Continue baking for a total of 2 ½ hours. Nuke the leftover marinade and brush it onto the ribs when you take them out of the oven.

That’s it. Now, eat!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Copy cat cooking

Last night it gave me great pleasure to use recipes by Jen ( and (don’t know her name: I did a slight modification of Jen’s, baking instead of grilling the tilapia. Also, her marinade called for tequila, of which we had none. I substituted vodka, with which we are always well-stocked. As for the zucchini-crust casserole there was a more significant modification.

We pulled up all the mustard greens from the garden yesterday and Peter labored mightily to clean, blanch, and freeze them. I reserved some for the casserole and used our arugula on the top. Any of you who garden know how satisfying it is to eat your own goodies!

Four zucchini was more than I needed. If you use four, buy the smallest ones you can find. I ended up using probably three.

Basil & Lime Tilapia
2 tilapia filets
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh chopped basil
½ tsp salt
2 tsp vodka
pepper to taste

3 tbsp finely chopped basil
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp lime juice
1 ½ tsp Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
½ tsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients except fish. Place fish in a ziplock bag and pour the marinade over it. Seal the bag and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Mix together all ingredients for aioli. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Place fish filets in foil packets that have been lubricated with cooking spray. Seal, place on a baking sheet, and bake for 14 minutes.

Since the casserole that follows bakes for longer than the fish, time the baking of the fish to coincide with end of casserole cooking time.

Vegetable pie with a zucchini crust
4 zucchini, shredded and squeezed in a towel to remove moisture
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 ½ cups mozzarella, divided
2 tomatoes, diced
1 1/2 cups blanched and squeeze-dried mustard greens
4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
2 green onions, chopped
½ cup parmesan, grated
1 1/2 cups arugula, tossed with olive oil to coat
dried oregano, to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a casserole dish with cooking spray.

Combine zucchini with eggs and 2 cups of the mozzarella. Push the zucchini firmly into the casserole to form a crust. Season with salt and pepper and bake for 10 minutes.

Allow to cool for a few minutes. Then layer in mustard greens, mushrooms, green onions and tomatoes. Top with remaining ½ cup mozzarella and the parmesan. Sprinkle with oregano to taste. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes. Scatter the arugula on top of the casserole. Bake 5 more minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes and then serve.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Another beef stir-fry

Our specialty market has been selling a lovely cut of steak recently which has been named after the owner, Pete. They call it the Pedro steak. Since it’s unique to this store in Denver, you should look for flat iron steak or hangar steak.

I used some unusual ingredients which won’t be in everyone’s pantry. Substitutions are indicated in italics.

Steak stir-fry
Garden greens (kale, mustard and mizuna)
2 tbsp vegetable oil, or more as needed
3/4 lb. flat iron steak, sliced thin against the grain
3 tbsp dark soy sauce, divided – regular soy sauce
3 shaoxing wine, divided – dry white wine
2 tsp Szechuan peppercorns – black pepper
1 tsp black mustard seeds – ½ tsp mustard powder
½ medium onion, sliced into half moons
1 0r 2 scallions, white and light green parts
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 or 2 tsp sesame oil (to taste)

Place the sliced steak in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl combine 2 tbsp wine and 2 tbsp soy sauce. Mash the Szechuan peppercorns and mustard seeds in a mortar and pestle. Add to the wine and soy sauce. Pour over the steak and toss to coat. Allow steak to marinate for 30 minutes.

In a wok or large sauté pan, heat oil over moderately high heat (7 of 10 on my electric range dial) until starting to smoke. Add the beef and cook, tossing constantly, for 1 1/2 minutes. Remove to a bowl, cover it with foil and set it aside.

Add a little more oil to the pan. When hot, add onions. Cook, tossing constantly, for 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 more minute. Add scallion and cook 1 minute. Add beef back to the pan or wok. Add garden greens. Add remaining tbsp each of wine and soy sauce. Toss for a minute or two until the beef is hot. Remove from heat and toss with scallions and sesame oil.

Serve over white or brown rice or your favorite Asian noodles.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Potato risotto

“Chuck’s Day Off,” hosted by Chuck Hughes, is an excellent show on the new (also excellent) Cooking Channel. He’s a restaurant chef, a no-nonsense cook, and doesn’t bore me with stories of his childhood. (And he doesn’t say YUMMO.) This recipe is inspired by him, modified by me, and a nice new thing to try.One curious thing: he said the stock didn’t need to be simmering the way you would want it with a traditional risotto. Ok, I’ll buy that, although I think I’ll still heat the stock so as not to interrupt the cooking with temperature drops.

A word about the sausages. The recipe below is the way I found it on the web. Needless to say I didn't make 10 lbs. of sausage. I had exactly 1.6 lbs. of lamb shoulder. I took my calculator and multiplied each ingredient by .16 to arrive at the proportions I needed. I didn't stuff it into casings; I wrapped it tightly in plastic wrap, put it in vacuum-sealed bags.

Potato and leek risotto
1 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, ½” cubes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 leek (white and light green parts), rinsed well and chopped
4-5 oz. mushrooms (whatever kind you prefer)
4 cups chicken stock
¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup mustard greens, julienned
additional baby greens as available (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Salt it well and blanch the potatoes for 5 minutes.In the meantime, cut up the mushrooms.Heat the oil in a sauté pan until shimmering. Add the mushrooms and leeks, a bit of salt and pepper, and sauté until softened but not colored.Drain the potatoes and add them to the pan. Toss to coat with the oil. Add stock in ½ - ¾ cup increments. Simmer, stirring often, in the same fashion as you would with a regular risotto. When the potatoes are nearly done (softened but still al dente), add a bit more salt and pepper and taste, then add the greens. Let them wilt for just a couple of minutes.Add cheese, taste, and adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve in heated wide bowls, garnished with the scallion.

Moroccan Lamb Sausage
10-lbs ground lamb
3-cups minced onion
3-cups finely chopped fresh parsley
2-cups ice water
3-tbsp salt
2-tbsp cayenne
1-tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1-tbsp dried oregano
1-tbsp dried coriander
1-tbsp dried marjoram
1-tsp cumin

Combine all ingredients, mix well. Form into 8 5” logs. Wrap in plastic and vacuum-seal them in bags. Boil 10 minutes and then brown in butter in a skillet.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Random thoughts

I don’t have anything new to post until tomorrow. I got to thinking about how we read each others’ posts and how we react to them. For me they are an idea machine. Doesn’t seem as though we copy each other very often, rather we elaborate and/or enhance each others recipes.

Which is more than just fine. Here’s an example: Jenn S posted a tilapia recipe with a crusty topping. I made the recipe just the way she did and then, several days later, adapted it to catfish with a crusty coating on all sides. Both made for fine meals.

I am grateful for the quality of the meals many of you share on a regular basis. I am inspired to try to take better pictures when I see the professional quality on many of your blogs.

Keep the ideas coming – so much food, so little time.

Best regards from…

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Tortillitas with shrimp

This picture is less than satisfactory, but I was hungry.

Mark Bittman wrote this recipe for this week’s Dining section of the NY Times. It sounded really good and we have chickpea flour in the pantry. He must have intended it to be a small serving course, as he said “4 or more servings.” We ate it all as our main dinner dish along with a salad of baby greens from our garden.

He also directed you to make the pancakes one at a time. I didn’t like that idea and used two pans and made them both at the same time. He nonchalantly says to flip them over after 3 minutes. Holy crap, he didn’t say how hard that could be. I managed it by sliding them one by one onto a plate, inverting the pan and flipping it over – I’m sure you know the technique.

Tortillitas with shrimp
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1/2 cup white flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped onion or scallions
Up to 1 cup raw shrimp, chopped, or scallops or other shellfish or fish
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped chives, parsley, thyme or cilantro
Olive oil.

1. In a bowl, combine flours and baking powder with salt and pepper. Add a little more than a cup of water and stir to combine; consistency should resemble pancake batter (if batter is too thick, add more water, a little at a time). Stir in the onions, chopped seafood and herbs.

2. Put a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and film its bottom generously with olive oil. When oil is hot, pour in half the batter until it fills center of pan; spread gently with a spoon to form a large pancake.

3. Cook about 3 minutes, or until pancake is set around edges; flip pancake and continue cooking for another 3 minutes, then flip it again and cook for another 30 seconds or so, until it is crisp on outside but still moist inside. Remove from pan and serve immediately, while remaining batter cooks.

Yield: 2 servings.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Spicy beef stir-fry

My new obsession? The Cooking Channel. Granted some things are being recycled: Giada, Tyler, Food 911. But there are new people, new formats, and, most important, new ideas.

I watched a program which is a sort of tutorial on simple Chinese cooking. The young lady in charge (don’t remember her name at the moment) made stir-fries galore. What’s below is adapted from one of them. I wanted more of an all-in-one meal and accomplished it by adding vegetation and noodles. Ramen noodles were convenient ‘cause I always have some in the pantry. And … I substituted mustard greens (straight out of our garden) for cilantro

I don’t use our wok very often. A stir-fry is so quick and easy (once you’ve done your mise en place) that there isn’t any very good reason not to make them. So here we go.

Spicy beef stir-fry

Spicy Coating
2 tablespoons freshly ground cumin
2 tablespoons dried chile flakes
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Beef Stir-Fry
2 packages ramen noodles, cooked without flavor packet
10 oz. beef fillet (tenderloin)
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 teaspoon Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 pinch sea salt
½ medium onion, thinly sliced
1 spring onion, finely sliced (green part reserved for garnish)
½ red bell pepper, thinly sliced
handful of bean sprouts
¾ cup chopped mustard greens

After the ramen are cooked, rinse with cold water, drain, and toss with a bit of sesame oil to prevent clumping.

To make the spicy coating: Mix all the ground cumin, dried chile flakes, black pepper, and salt, on a plate.

Mix the rice wine and soy sauce together in a small bowl.

To make the beef: Prepare the fillet by hammering it with a meat mallet, or the side of a Chinese cleaver. Slice the beef into wafer-thin slices, and coat the pieces in the spice mix.

Heat a wok or pan over high heat and add the peanut oil. Add the beef and stir-fry for less than 1 minute until browned and tender. Remove the beef to a bowl and set aside.

Add a little more oil to the wok. Stir-fry bell onions and garlic for 2 minutes until softened. Add bean sprouts and bell pepper and cook, tossing constantly, for a couple of minutes. Add noodles and beef, rice wine and soy sauce, and toss to heat.

Serve immediately with the scallion greens as garnish.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Caramelized broccoli

Here’s a homey (maybe homely) little recipe that has solved my broccoli pet peeve. You see, I don’t like it when broccoli isn’t hot when it gets to the table. We used to steam broccoli, put it in a bowl and take it to the table. By the time I got to it, it was lukewarm at best.

The method below gets it really hot and, with caramelization, makes it wonderfully flavorful.

What you see on the plate above the greenery are savory pancakes (I tried to get Peter to write down his recipe, but it was done by the seat of his pants and can’t be reproduced) with sliced chicken breast (from the “Broasted chicken” post a couple of days ago) and gravy. Gosh, was that stuff good. The pancakes ended up seeming like Thanksgiving stuffing.

Anyhow, back to the broccoli. I would think this method would work with cauliflower, carrots, turnips or parsnips. The cooking time might vary.

Sauteed broccoli (4 servings)
1 medium broccoli crown
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Cut the thick stem from the florets, peel it and cut it into 1/2” cubes. Cut the florets into smallish pieces (you can see from the picture).

Heat a saute pan over medium heat (4 on my electric range’s 1-10 dial). When the butter has melted and just before it begins to brown add the broccoli stem pieces. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and toss to coat with the butter and oil. Let it cook about 3 minutes. Add the florets, toss and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes, if using.

Now, leave the pan alone for 4 minutes or until the broccoli has begun to caramelize on one side. Flip the broccoli pieces over and let it sauté until the second side has begun to caramelize. At this point you should sample a piece and see if it’s done to your specifications. If not, cover the pan, reduce the heat to low, and let it do its thing while you finish up whatever else you are cooking.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Broasted chicken

The title of this is not a typo. I used to see the term "broasted" though I can't remember where or by whom. It's appropriate since the bird is partly braised and partly roasted. This chicken was so large it just barely fit into my largest skillet. But, it did. It was over 5 lbs. Good thing I got it started when I did (10 of 5 pm) because with resting time it took over an hour.

Sunday’s NY Times magazine has a nearly always fascinating food section. This week the essay was boring (about a guy’s cookbooks all being boxed up and inaccessible). But the recipe was for a spatch-cocked whole chicken. I’ve posted this before but with a completely different spice profile.

The cooking technique was different than my own and I’m sticking to my very own guns.

Broasted chicken

1 4-5 lb. frying chicken

3 teaspoons fennel seed

2 tsp coriander seed

¾ tsp whole black pepper corns

½ tsp cumin seed

¾ tsp hot paprika or pimenton

lemon wedges (optional)

Spatchcock the chicken (remember how?). Just cut down both sides of the backbone and break the breast bone so that it lies flat.

Brine the chicken for a couple of hours. Rinse well and dry with paper towels.

Toast the spices in a dry skillet for 2 minutes or until fragrant. Let them cool and then rough grind them in a spice grinder. Don’t have one? Mash them in a mortar and pestle.

Rub a little olive oil all over the bird and then rub in the dry spice mix (no salt, remember: you brined it).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat (5 on my electric stove dial).

Add 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter. When the butter has melted and the foam has subsided put the chicken into the pan skin side down. Cover with a piece of foil and weight it (I use a teakettle with some water in it). When the chicken is well browned, 5-6 minutes, turn it skin side up and put the pan into the oven (uncovered).

Roast until the breast registers 165 degrees in the thickest part (next to where the wings are attached). Also test the thigh meat. It it’s at least 165 you’re golden. I was using a very large chicken and it took about an hour plus.Remove the chicken to a cutting board, tent with foil (don’t use the piece you used earlier, it’s contaminated) and let rest 5 minutes. Cut into serving pieces, squeeze on some lemon juice (if using), and dig in.

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