Sunday, January 23, 2011

An update

Moving day is Wednesday. It's been an adventure planning how to use remaining food in the fridge and freezer, but we've done pretty well at it.

I have continued to do some adventurous cooking although that will stop when we hit the road and until we find a place to live in DC.

Once again, be well, be well fed, and be well-libated.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Time out

My dear fellow bloggers:

I’ll be taking a break for several weeks. Our move back to DC is in less than two weeks. When we get there we’ll be staying with friends while apartment hunting. So, I won’t have much by way of opportunities to create in the kitchen.

I’ll probably have blog withdrawal, but I’ll survive. I hope you all continue to have a great time cooking and sharing.

“See” you before too long.

Best regards,

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Braised boneless beef ribs

Peter found a small package of boneless beef country ribs on special the other day. I still had a bit of my home-smoked jalapeno adobo to form the base of a marinade.

So I just made this up.

We’ve been heavily into roasting vegetables lately. As a side dish I sprayed green beans with generic Pam, salted and peppered them, and sprinkled them with asiago cheese. Roasted at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Peter made a really nice orzo and rice pilaf.

Braised boneless beef ribs
2 tbsp chipotle in adobo
¼ cup chicken stock
1 dried pasillo pepper, seeded and ground in spice grinder
2 tbsp vegetable oil
½ tsp black pepper
1 lb. boneless beef ribs

Mix together the first 5 ingredients. Coat the ribs with the marinade and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Put the ribs and the marinade in a casserole with enough room so that they are not jammed together. Add ½ cup beef broth. Bake for 2 – 2 ½ hours, turning the ribs a couple of times. When tender, set aside to rest for 15 minutes. Eat.

Save the liquid from the casserole for another application (soon to come).

Friday, January 7, 2011

Turducken a la Sinatra ("I did it my way.")

Don’t try this at home. As good as my turducken tasted, I will never make it again. Too labor intensive. As is often the case, I didn’t photo the final product until after dinner – hence the somewhat dismantled chicken above.

Just browse the pix and realize that this is something you want someone else to make for you. What made this possible (without a whole turkey) was smoked turkey wings and 2 duck leg/thigh combos. Everything got boned, wrapped together with some cornbread for stuffing and then took 2 hours to bake (at 325 degrees). I’m exhausted. I’m going to have another drink, eat my dinner, walk the dog, watch some tv and then go to bed.

Smoked turkey wing

Duck legs

Who do you truss?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Baked potato soup

Monday night Peter and I celebrated our 30th anniversary with a lobster, baked potato, and gai lan dinner. I got the idea, when shopping for the potato, to bake an extra one with which to make a potato soup. What the heck, we had the oven on anyhow.

I saw no reason to make this anything but extremely simple. I went back and forth about using cheese. In the end I decided to go for it, but a fairly small quantity of something mild. Then there was the issue of what to do with the potato skin. Crisped up potato skin bits sounded like a great garnish.

One wrinkle: the use of preserved mustard tuber. You will not find this at Safeway; you need an Asian market. Substitute minced dill pickle if you have some. Otherwise don’t worry about it.

Use any sausage. I had some little turkey breakfast sausages I got for a song.

Since I was using the oven for a side dish of roasted bok choy (simply sprayed with cooking spray and sprinkled with salt and pepper; 400 degree oven for 15 minutes), I sprayed the potato skin, roasted it for 6 or so minutes, and used it as a garnish.

Baked potato soup
1 large russet potato
7 oz. sausage
2 scallions, green and white parts, chopped
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup grated cheese
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp preserved mustard tuber
1 tbsp butter

Bake the potato at 400 degrees for 70 to 75 minutes until tender. Allow to cool and then peel off the skin. Cut into ½” pieces. Lightly mash about half of it to lend texture to the soup.

Cook the sausages by steaming or sautéing. Cut into 1” pieces and set aside.

Put all ingredients in a soup pot and bring to a simmer. Season to taste.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Hearts of Spam

I screwed up and did not get a photo of the finished (fried) product. Our guests were at the door and I needed to get our snacks served up.

On New Year’s day we had as our guests for a brief afternoon visit, several of the best friends a person could ever have, Lew and Leslie, Sandy and Mark, and Pat and Peter. I wanted to make something special for them and went with a recipe I actually learned from Lew many years ago: Hearts of Spam. Oh, I know what you’re thinking so just stop it! My method of blanching the “meat” reduces both the fat content and some of the distinctive taste and saltiness. These little treats are both fun to serve and are a great conversation piece. “Spam? I wouldn’t touch that with a 10-foot pole.” “How digusting!”

Did you know Spam came on the market in 1937, the year Lew was born? I can’t remember if Spam was something my mother ever trotted out. After all, it’s pretty cheap, and with reduced fat and sodium it’s even fair to say it has some nutritional value (not to mention the trailer-park-trash satisfaction of eating it).

Consider this required eating for the losers at Charades at your next party.

You can make a dipping sauce if you wish. I decided to use up some miso paste and mixed it with yogurt (use mayo if you want). Proportions: approximately 1 part miso to 4 parts yogurt, or to your taste.

Hearts of Spam (makes 12 pieces)
1 - 7 oz. can Spam
2 tsp olive oil

Bonus round: Spam dip
Equal amounts of miso paste and yogurt mixed together.

Cut the Spam on the diagonal. Make V-shaped notches in each of the wide ends. Cut into “hearts”.

Bring a saute pan of water to a boil. Remove from heat and slide in the Spam slices. Cover and let steep for 10 minutes. Remove and dry well.
Heat the oil in the same sauté pan. Fry the hearts of a few minutes per side, allowing them to brown slightly. Serve warm with any dip if you wish (horseradish mayo would be great).

Calamari mac and cheese

Unknown territory here, but a highly successful result.

I refer you to my post last week for the macaroni part of this recipe. Still using orecchiette (little ears). The difference here is that I was inspired to try this in order to make something for those folks who may have a shellfish allergy. I can see this made with cod or salmon or perhaps even tuna. But for now it’s calamari.

I went back and forth about whether I was going to deep fry the squid. In the end I decided I didn’t want to waste a lot of cooking oil. So I went with a shallow fry. Here’s how easy it was.

Calamari macaroni and cheese (2 servings)
8 oz. calamari, thawed if frozen

Prepare the macaroni and sauce as per my blog for lobster mac and cheese (December 25, 2010).

Rinse the squid well and dry well with paper towels. Leave the tentacles whole or, if they are large, cut them in half. Cut the squid into ½” pieces. Dredge it all with cornstarch, shaking off the excess.

Heat 1” of vegetable oil in a large skillet. Fry the calamari for about 3 minutes (less time for the tentacles), tossing a few times with a spider. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with fine sea salt.

Serve up the macaroni and cheese and top with the crispy calamari.

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