Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Break time for Bonzo

I don't have a lot of responsibilites over the next couple of weeks, but I'm stepping aside all the same. No particular reason. By the time I get back I'll have a few fun things to share. In the meantime I wish you all a very happy holiday season. So many of you have enriched my life this last year with your stories, your food, your successes and failures (who hasn't had them?).
I will be reading your blogs; that I can't resist. I will be exploring a few possibilities. Among them are ... stand back ... making menudo at home (and maybe including tendon); a version of green papaya salad (using chayote squash); and a way to make chicken nuggets that is both health-conscious and unfussy, and which will cause the entire world to beat a path to my door.
I will also be working on my next book, "Back in the Day," which is about what I was given to eat in the 1950's. When I get back I will have a give-away of a short tome I wrote over recent weeks with 100 recipes (no more than 5 ingredients each) for soups. I'll spend some time re-editing and cleaning it up. I'll be prepared to send it (free) to anyone who wants it (in PDF format).
So with that, once again, have as much joy (liquid as necessary) as you can stand (or until you can no longer stand), and hug all your loved ones.

Fellow blogger,

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cornish hen with attitude

I have quite a bit of trouble reading the type in many posts. It's age, not the problem of the lovely bloggers I follow. However, if you hold down the Control key and press the key with the "=" and "plus" signs the type will get larger. I usually go two to three times with this. You can do less (or more if you are even more ancient than I am). I work on a laptop, so I don't know how this would work on a full keyboard with a separate "plus" key. Let me know if you discover anything about that.
The original version of this was to stuff a hen with prosciutto and layer the top of it with fatback. It was one of the earliest dinners Peter and I prepared together somewhere around 30 years ago. We were subletting an apartment in northwest DC. The oven smoked even more than we did in those days. But, by golly, that hen was good. I'm making a slightly more responsible version of it this time around. Some lemon, celery and onion inside seemed like a good idea. Bacon over the top. A 400 oven for about 30 minutes did the trick. Of course it is essential to brine the hen for a few hours, rinse and dry it well; after which you DO NOT add any more salt. All the pepper or other spices you want is great. It must also be at room temperature. Am I giving TMI? Maybe, but better thorough than sorry. Given my recent fixation with mortadella and/or bologna, maybe I should have used that as a stuffing. You want the stuffing to be somewhat loose. About ½ cup of each of the 3 ingredients should be plenty. I was out of tarragon, but made a special trip to Safeway to get some. I really like tarragon. Remove the bacon after the first 20 minutes. Use it to make some parsleyed potatoes to go along with the bird. Then you just need a green vegetable and you're golden.

Monday, December 5, 2011

I cook Mexican at Leslie's

Leslie is a long-time friend, former employee, and our hostess for a month while Peter and I were looking for a place to live when we came back to DC last January. I prepared a Mexican dinner (fajitas) to which Peter contributed a big pan of flan for dessert. All in all it was a swell spread, originally intended for six people, though in the end just five. (More food for all of us.) Schlepping food (and my wok) to someone else's house takes some organizational skills (we were also schlepping the dog, oy). But I have those skills. List after list of what to do to be prepared, ingredient list, mise en place plan, etc. I almost got a little intimidated, but in the end, no way Jose. We had a great time. Everybody ate like they were both hungry and really liked the food. I cheated slightly by not making my own salsa, but a boy can only do so much. Got a jar of some good quality salsa and a bag of chips for dipping. That was our app. Here's the main course. This seems very busy, but it's not if you prepare, chop, etc. everything ahead of time.

Beef fajitas

1 ½ lb skirt sliced in thin strips across the grain
juice of 2 limes
1 Tbs Mexican dry oregano
2 Tbs finely chopped cilantro
1 Tbs ground cumin
1 tsp black pepper

2 large green bell peppers, cut into ¼ inch strips
1 large red bell pepper, cut into ¼ inch strips
2 medium onions, cut into ½ inch half moons
3 large garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper to taste
shredded lettuce
refried beans
lime wedges
pickled jalapeno slices
2 or more flour tortillas per person, wrapped in foil (1 per person for pre-heating) and kept in the oven while the beef and veggies are cooking.
Marinate the beef for several hours. I used my wok to do the stir frying. First the beef, at room temp in a small amount of very hot oil. Toss with tongs for 2-3 minutes, remove and put into a dish in the oven at 250 degrees while you cook the vegetables.

Add a little more oil to the wok and toss in the veggies. Using the tongs keep them moving (over fairly high heat) until softened to your taste (5-8 minutes).

I placed lettuce, refritos and guacamole on each dinner plate and then let the guests assemble their own fajitas. Lime and jalapenos were in a separate bowl.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Beef liver dumplings

I know right up front that this will not be to the liking of many of my followers. All I can say is I bring you the stuff I do. Don't do as I say and don't do as I do. Just give this a read with an open mind and let me know what horror stories it brings back about liver experiences. Maybe we'll do a book!! LOL

1 lb beef liver, cleaned of all naughty bits and cut into 2 inch pieces
½ cup milk
2 Tbs hot sauce
3 slices bread
cream or half and half
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt and pepper to taste

Soak the liver in the milk and hot sauce for a few hours. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Place in the food processor with the bread. Pulse and add cream or half and half, salt and pepper, and the egg to get a proper texture – not too wet, not too dry. Form a little patty and saute it for a couple of minutes so that you can taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.

Make a braising liquid by using chicken or beef broth and 2-3 Tbs tomato paste. Make enough liquid to come up about 2/3 of the way on the meatballs. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook very low and slow for 10-12 minutes until done all the way through. Serve over pasta or rice or Israeli couscous. Drizzle some of the tomato liquid over the top.

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