Sunday, May 29, 2011

Chicken breast milanesa a la Stevie

I had the most wonderful experience making milanesa today that I just have to share right now. Here's what happened.

It was chicken breast, pounded to 3/8" and brined for 2 hours.

I learned that we had no eggs for the standard flour, egg, breadcrumbs thing.

Rather than go to he store again, I skipped the flour part and mixed some mayo with a bit of milk, dipped the chicken in it and then pressed into crumbs. I succeded in getting my oil really hot (it takes some patience) and shallow fried the chicken for exactly 2 minutes per side. I've never made it better than this. Standby for my marinating (instead of brining) the remaining pieces of the whole chicken I bought in a mix of mayo, miso and some milk. Then right into bread crumbs and then the oven. I'm not going to fry again this week.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

BBQ sauce

After reading a blog this morning in which a bottled barbecue sauce was called for, it got my hackles up again. Yes, it's convenient. Yes, it's not expensive. But, yes, it totally lacks in creativity. So I'm sitting myself down here and I'm going to do a clinic on homemade sauce. Here's an ingredient list. The final amounts should depend on your taste. I'll just suggest a basic plan. I will tell you up front that I have come to prefer whole plum tomates (canned is fine) for their taste and texture. Also, I recently vowed to use fewer ingredients. It can be difficult, but I succeeded here.

1 28 oz can roma tomatoes

1 Tbs brown sugar

1/8 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tsp cumin

salt and pepper to taste

prepared horseradish (an optional variant)

Drain the tomatoes and reserve the liquid. Squeeze them carefuly in your hand (don't wear a white shirt) and put them into your food processor. Add the remaining ingredients except the horseradish. Pulse to reduce the tomatoes to little pieces no larger than 1/4 inch. It is absolutely not necessary (or advisable) to puree this. Put the mixture into a sauce pan with the reserved liquid and bring to a simmer. Simmer slowly uncovered for 45 minutes or until somewhat thickened. Allow to cool. Only now should you add horseradish if you want it. Start with no more than 1 Tbs. Taste. Adust the taste in any way you think you'd like. Keep tasting. You're done.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Deviled eggs with faux roe

Didn't we all have deviled eggs our mothers made? One difference is that we never had caviar. Well, you're not getting it with these eggs either. Hard boil your eggs, rinse in cold water and peel. Cut in half and scoop out the yolks. Mix them with some mayo and mustard, salt and pepper and stuff it back into the naked egg whites. Now comes the fun part. Cook a small amount of Israeli couscous. Let it cool and then soak it in fish sauce. Drain it and stir some red food coloring into it. The whole idea is to pretend you're making eggs with salmon roe. The topmost photo shows salmon roe, albeit in a pretty small way. This was fun and whimsical. Those are two things I aspire to be every day. Scoop some of your "faux roe" onto the tops of the eggs.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Hummus - with humor

This is a truly fun thing to have. Unless it isn't. You have to like garbanzos and you have to like tahini. It is extremely easy to make. Just needs a food processor. Start with a can of garbanzos (it will be 14 or 15 oz). Rinse and combine in the food processor with tahini (maybe 1 or 1 1/2 Tbs), juice of half a lemon, salt and pepper, and a bit of olive oil. You must take charge of this and use amounts of these ingredients that make sense to you. I will not be holding your hand. Buzz this up. Put it into a bowl. Drizzle the top with a bit more olive oil. Serve with bits of pita.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Squid or calamari - call them what you will

It had been perhaps a dozen years since we had shopped at the waterfront seafood markets in DC. Well, we went there yesterday. It was hard to know what to buy - so many choices. But I got attached to the idea of squid. They were whole and uncleaned. That's not a problem for me. I know how to clean them. After that all you have to do is heat some oil, dredge them in cornstarch, and buzz some kosher salt in your spice grinder (kosher salt by itself is too big to stick). About 1 1/2 minutes in the (really) hot oil did the trick. We served it over Israeli couscous we got at Trader Joe's (just discovered one at an amazingly convenient location for us). With the addition of a salad, we were in heaven.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Things of interest (at least to me)

As I look at my list of postings and how many comments there are, I am challenged to figure out what causes a greater interest in some things. I don't have a solution yet. I've said this before, but want to reiterate: my apologies for the fact that I don't read dessert recipes or other ones for sweets. I don't eat sweets. It ain't anything personal. I found a couple of small strip steaks yesterday at the Giant. Not the greatest meal I've ever made, but with some beet greens and some grits it made for a nice supper.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Lemonade chicken

This idea just popped out of my elbow the other day. I love lemon, I love chicken, I love garlic, etc. Take a bird. Spatchcock it (don't know what that is? Do some homework). Put it into a pot just barely large enough to hold it (we want to minimize the amount of liquid you need). Cover it with water and add red pepper flakes, mustard seed, celery seed, 4 quartered lemons, a healthy dose of salt, dried tarragon (optional), and anything else that floats your boat. Bring this to a boil, reduce heat to a slow simmer, cover and let go for a while. How long? Aye, there's the rub. If you use a roaster bird figure on an hour and a quarter. For a fryer, 50 minutes to an hour. For game hens, perhaps as little as 30 minutes. Your best strategy is to use a thermometer. One of my most treasured kitchen tools is my electronic temperature probe. It has a transmitter and receiver, so I can go anywhere in the house. When the chicken is done (165 degrees in the thick parts), pull it out and let it rest, tented with foil, for 10-15 minutes.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Basics - tomato sauce

I recently discovered the best tomato sauce I've ever had. You will not believe that it does not involve cooking for hours. As a matter of fact it involves just heating. Take one 28 oz can of whole roma tomatoes. Squeeze them to get some liquid out of their centers. Put the tomatoes into your food processor and reserve the juices. Add some olive oil, some salt and pepper, some garlic, some onion powder (all of the amounts are negotiable). Pulse until the tomatoes reduce to very small bits. It's best not to completely puree them. Put them (with the reserved juices) into a saucepan and heat to a simmer. Let them bubble slowly for 10 minutes. If you want this to be a little thinner, add some chicken stock. You're done! That is if you've tasted it and adjusted the seasonings. Make pasta, make ravioli, make shrimp and grits, go crazy. I can hardly wait until I can get fresh tomatoes to make gazpacho!


Who doesn't like fish sticks? Nobody I know. I made these from tilapia filets that I cut into 4 pieces each. Then it was merely a matter of the flour dredge, the egg dip, the breadcrumb coating, with some spice along the way. Shallow fried (in screaming hot oil) for no more the 2 minutes per side and then drained on a bit of paper towel it was nice. Here's the problem: tilapia must be the most boring fish in the universe. The texture is not distinctive, the flavor is bland; the price is cheap though. You decide.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Choucroute by Crout

Mine wasn't as elaborate as this picture. It consisted of homemade sauerkraut, Yukon gold potatoes and turkey kielbasa. Know what? It tasted as good as what you see up there. There's nothing to it. I quartered the taters, put them in a large saute pan with the sausage, topped it all with wads of my excellent sauerkraut, added some chicken stock for additional moisture. Then at the end, just before serving, I sprinkled it with some freshly ground caraway seeds and a bit of black pepper. All it took to cook it was to get it to a simmer and then into a 375 oven for about 50 minutes or so.

Monday, May 9, 2011

More little innocent lamb

I know, I know, I just did this last week. I merely want to share that I got two more lamb loin chops and shared them with Peter last night. As I mentioned before, they are a little fatty, but if you get the pan really (and I mean really) hot, you can cook them in a total of 5 minutes to perfection. Screw the fat - there are pills for that. All you need is salt and pepper and some fresh rosemary (optional - don't go on a shopping trip for that).

Accompany this with something you really like. We had salad and rice. Yeah, boring, I know. but not everything in life has to be cathartic, does it?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

More roaster chicken

Yesterday I talked about chicken piccata. But then I had to decide what to do with the rest of the roaster bird. Removed the legs, thighs and wings and put the rest into a pot for 3 hours to make broth (including all the giblets). Brined the chicken for 3 hours, rinsed, dried, roasted at 375 degrees for just over an hour. Wow, it was like the chicken I would get for Sunday dinner (just erroneously typed "Sunday sinner"} as a youngster. It was actually something my mother could do fairly well. After brining I of course added no more salt. I did add black pepper and dried tarragon (again, slipping it past Peter, who isn't crazy about it). This stuff was really good!

Chicken piccata

Sorry for the almost indecipherable pictures. Don't know when or if I will ever get my camera to talk to my computer again. No matter, it's the taste that counts. I went to the market and thought I was buying a large "young" chicken. They were right next to roasters, which is what I ended up picking out. I was alarmed at first, but, no matter, this all turned out well. I removed the breasts and their skin and brined them for a few hours. Now it was just a matter of a braise. The usual: olive oil and butter, some garlic, some shallot, some red pepper flakes, some capers, some lemon juice, and a splash of rice wine vinegar. Oh, I sliced each breast (they were quite large) into 4 pieces lengthwise. About 10 minutes total in the pan and we had a delectable dish.

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