Thursday, June 30, 2011

Creole corn and okra

This first note has nothing to do with corn and okra. Just wanted to share that I bought corn tortillas at a local Mexican market the other day. They are wonderfully thick and flavorful. I used one as a quasi taco today for a sandwich of egg salad. I put it directly on the gas burner of the stove for about 1 minute per side. Did I tell you before how happy I am to be back to gas cooking?

I used equal amounts by weight of corn, okra and tomato. That makes it easy. Cook it up. Then just season it with salt and pepper. After serving it, add your favorite hot sauce.

Monday, June 27, 2011

NOT baked beans

You all are so much fun I wish we could gather for a convention and do "Chopped" episodes. Is there anything like a food blogger conference?

Somebody else posted a baked bean recipe yesterday. They were made with dried beans, which I refuse to use. Life is too short to fix dried beans, and canned beans are excellent products. I know, I know, some of you think I'm a jerk. I am a jerk, but a talented one. LOL

I would have used ham hock for this but my dear inefficient Giant market didn't have any. Bacon is fine. A nice ham slice would work quite well too.

This dish does not need to go into the oven. It could, but in the summer time (that happens to be now) not turning on the oven is a plus. This calls for 2 14.5 oz cans white beans.

Do this: cook some bacon (3-4 strips turns me on); set it aside.

In the grease cook a small chopped onion and some garlic (go ahead, make your breath smell really bad).

Add 1 cup water, 1 Tbs brown sugar, 1 Tbs molasses, 1 Tbs Dijon mustard, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 2 tsp apple cider vinegar, some cumin (optional).
Do you have any tomato? If so, add some.

Bring to a simmer and add in the beans and the bacon. Let it bubble for a while until a lot of the liquid is gone, at least an hour. Taste it and take it from there.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Checkin' in on Chicken

More about the above kale below.

The spatchcock technique is very simple. Remove the chicken's backbone with poultry shears or a strong knife. Save the backbone for stock. The advantage of this method is that you can cook the chicken a number of ways quite efficiently. I like to weight it down to brown the skin side. Then it can be finished in the oven or, like now in the summer, finished on the stovetop.

Not much needs to be said about this. Brine the chicken, of course, for 2-3 hours. Rinse and dry. Rub with spices, butter, olive oil, whatever floats your boat. Melt butter in oil in a pan large enough to hold the bird. Sear the skin side first with a piece of foil and a weight on it. That will take 8-10 minutes. Turn the bird, put the foil back on, and cook over somewhat reduced heat for 30 minutes or so. I don't weight the bird during this second part of the process. Use a thermometer to see if you've got the thickest part of the breast (where it meets the wing) to 160-165. Let rest, carve, and eat.

I decided to throw in the kale here because I did something unusual that was exceptionally successful. I had bought some canned hominy. We did a basic braise on the kale with some garlic, salt and pepper. Then I drained and rinsed a can of hominy and tossed it in. The two flavors complemented one another in a way I never would have imagined.

Thai-style chayote salad

If you are a fan of Thai food you may have had green papaya salad. I discovered it a number of years ago in a restaurant in La Jolla, California.

I don't have any idea where to get green papaya here in DC yet. I'm sure there's a place. But I was hungry for this salad.

Then it dawned on me. Why not use chayote squash. Easy to find. Easy to prepare. The end result, Peter and I agreed, was virtually identical to what you get with green papaya.

I bought two of them, peeled them (you can't get into some of the interstices very well, but these things don't absolutely need to be peeled at all). Use you mandoline to julienne then. My recipe called for one and a half pounds of it. I had just over a pound. No problem, just adjust everything else a bit.

Mix together in a bowl: 2 Tbs vegetable oil, 2 Tbs fish sauce, juice of a lime, lime zest, red pepper flakes to taste, black pepper, 2 large cloves garlic which have been pressed or minced fine, and 1/4 cup chopped tomato. Before you do anything else, whisk this all together and taste it. Make adjustments as you see fit. Toss the chayote squash in this dressing. Let it sit in the fridge for one hour. There will be a lot of moisture exuded. Don't throw it away. You can make another batch with what's left.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

NY Strip Steak

We don't buy steak very often. It's a money thing. But we got two lovely NY strip steaks today for just over $5 total (manager's special bin). I cranked up the stove top grill and seasoned them with pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. Then let them sit in the fridge for an hour. I put the salt on at the last minute and seared them 4 minutes per side while Peter attended to some sweet corn we got at the farmers market this morning. Along with the steak and the corn we had some more Thai salad made with chayote squash. I think I mentioned before that it tastes and feels exactly like the more authentic green papaya salad.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Shrimp milanesa

I thought long and hard about how to make this a success. The thinking paid off. My shrimp were not large, they were 21-25's. I know from experience that they take very little time to cook. I seasoned them with salt, pepper, and paprika. Then I did the traditional flour dredge, egg wash, and breadcrumb crust. After that all it took was to get the oil screaming hot (1/8 inch deep) and shallow fry these little puckers for 45 seconds per side. Excellent result.


Here are some images of gazpacho. It's one of those catch-all recipes that you make with whatever you have.

I was inspired to make this when we got home from the shore with some beautiful early season tomatoes. One of them had a small soft spot and I didn't want it to go to waste. Into the food processor went a small yellow summer squash, a shallot, a couple of small celery stalks with leaves, 2 garlic cloves, 1/2 a jalapeno (I sliced it and left the seeds and pith in part of it). Chop this stuff up fine. Add some celery salt and some black pepper to taste.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Poke an "X" in the stem scar of the tomatoes. Put them into the boiling water for about 45 seconds. Rinse them under cold water and the skins will slip off very easily. Chop them and pulse them in the food processor with the other vegetation. You are done. Chill this down. It will keep for several days in the fridge.

When you're ready to eat it, you can garnish with some scallion or finely chopped onion, some avocado, a drizzle of olive oil and/or apple cider vinegar. You could also add some chopped hard boiled egg. Go wild!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Soft shell crabs

We spent a day and a half away from home, availing ourselves of the opportunity to use a friend's summer home on the eastern shore of Maryland. It was only a two-hour drive from DC and we stopped for lunch at a Red, Hot and Blue BBQ place we've been fond of for many, many years. After getting our gear into the house and chilling out for an hour or so, we went off to get provisions for dinner. There is a very fine fresh seafood store down the road called Kool Ice. When we spied the soft shells our minds were instantly made up. They were only $2.50 each and 2 apiece for a dinner as marvelous as it turned out seemed like a really good deal. We also found fresh Virginia corn and zucchinis and summer squash. Normally we would dredge the crabs in flour, but we couldn't find any in the house. So I just sauteed them in some nice hot olive oil and butter. About 3 minutes per side.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dill pickles

A person can buy excellent dill pickles in practically any store. As with so many other things, though, there is a taste and satisfaction to be derived from making your own at home. It isn't complicated.

You will need:

4 cups water
2 1/2 cups white vinegar
1/3 cup kosher salt
2 1/2 Tbs sugar
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp peppercorns
3/4 tsp turmeric
3 whole cloves
1 medium onion, sliced
1 large jalapeno pepper, sliced with seeds
8 garlic cloves, peeled
1 bunch dill
1 tsp dried thyme
10 Kirby cukes

Put everything except the cukes into a pan and bring to a boil. Drop in the cukes. Let them sit on your kitchen counter for 24 hours. Refrigerate for 3-5 days. Then eat.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Shrimp with green sauce

Some years ago I ordered an appetizer at a restaurant in Denver. It was shrimp in green sauce. It was fabulous. My waiter gave me some guidance as to what was in it. I managed to reconstruct it at home.

Remove the lower stems from a bunch of cilantro and put the bunch into the food processor. It took some doing to figure out the proportions of these remaining ingredients, but I started slow and built it up. Add the following:

juice of 1/2 a lime

1 Tbs white vinegar

2 garlic cloves, chopped fine

a splash of olive oil

a couple pinches of salt and pepper

This is where I started. Once you buzz this up you can remove it to a bowl to make further adjustments.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Chicken pad Thai

There was little interest in the veal posting. Maybe this will float your boat.
The idea for this was inspired by 3 roasted chicken legs left over in the fridge. It sounded good in the early morning and tasted good that same evening.

You will need: scallions, peanut butter, vegetable oil, noodles (spaghetti or angel hair would suffice), some snap peas or other greenage, fish sauce, soy sauce and some hot sauce. Those ingredients will do the trick. If you do a Google search you will find scads of recipes for this. Knock yourself out.
Chicken pad Thai
1o oz Asian noodles
4 oz. chicken stock
2 Tbs fish sauce
2 Tbs peanut butter
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbs vegetable oil
2 scallions, green and white parts chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
2 cups cooked chicken
1 egg

The noodles will take about 5 minutes, so get them started immediately before starting the stir-fry.
Whisk together the chicken stock, fish sauce, peanut butter and red pepper flakes and TASTE IT! Make adjustments as you see fit. Heat the oil in your wok until it smokes. Throw in the scallions and garlic, stir for 1 minute. Add the chicken and toss for 1 minute. Add the egg and toss to distribute it.
When the noodles are done, drain them and add them to the wok. Toss thoroughly. Pour in 2/3 of the sauce. Toss and taste. Add more sauce as necessary (maybe it isn't necessary - only you can decide). Serve in heated bowls.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Veal for real

Got a nice package of thin veal cutlets at Costco the other day. Technically speaking this is Wiener Schnitzel, but I think of it as veal milanesa. I've said before (and will say again) I am the king of milanesa. I've honed my technique for several years and would put my dishes up against anyone's. Sorry for the bragging. Sometimes, though, a person just must speak the truth. LOL

This is the standard method - flour dredge, egg dip, breadcrumb loadup. My seasonings of choice are paprika, salt and pepper. Then you must get 1/8 inch of oil in a large saute pan screaming hot. This last thing is more important than anything else you can do. 45 seconds per side; believe it, friends.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Udon that you done

Udon noodles are very satisfying in your mouth. I'm making two versions of them today. One is a more or less traditional pad Thai with peanut sauce. The other is made with mentaiko, a Japanese fish roe that is cured and salty and fishy and swell. I found the noodles yesterday at a tiny Japanese grocery in DC. They have lots of stuff in a very small space. I wanted to buy some clear rice noodles but I didn't know what to call them. I still don't. I'll figure it out.

Pad Thai of a sort
10 oz. udon noodles
2 scallions, white and green parts chopped fine
1 heaping Tbs peanut butter
2 Tbs fish sauce
red pepper flakes
1/2 cup chicken stock, hot

While the noodles cook (2-3 minutes in boiling water), put the remaining ingredients in a bowl large enough to toss the noodles.

When the noodles are done, do just that, toss them in the sauce. Serve at once.

Udon with mentaiko
1o oz udon noodles
2 scallions, white and green parts chopped fine
1 oz mentaiko
1 Tbs other fish roe (optional)
red pepper flakes
1/2 cup chicken stock hot

Cook the noodles for 2 or 3 minutes then put them into a bowl with the remaining ingredients. Serve at once.

Friday, June 10, 2011

We've made honest men of each other

Peter and I were married at the DC Superior Court yesterday. After more than 30 years together it was marvelous to have our relationship legitimized in the eyes of the law. The setting, was tackier than anything in Vegas. The photo doesn't show the fake flower arbor we stood under. We were honored to have Peter's sister, Susan, and her husband, Bill, to stand with us along with our longest-known friends, Dana and Milton. We call each other "spouse" as opposed to "husband". I'm making a celebratory dinner tonight: steak done on my stovetop grill. We didn't eat dinner last night due to the quantity of lovely food we ate at the reception lunch (that's where we are in the second photo).

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Lima beans stewed with jalapenos

Ah, the humble lima bean. Did you ever cook fava beans? What a pain in the neck. I love limas, especially in succotash. But the other day I got the idea of stewing them with some jalapeno peppers. I took a route unusual for me: I used some canned jalapenos (not pickled, although that might be interesting). They are not as spicy as fresh and, since they're going to be stewed, you might not know in the end that they came out of a can.

1 Tbs butter

1 Tbs olive oil

1 16 oz bag frozen limas, thaw them

1/2 cup chicken stock

6 oz can jalapenos

salt and pepper to taste

cilantro for garnish

hot sauce for garnish (optional)

This is super easy. Heat the butter and oil Add the beans and stock and cook at a low simmer for 20 minutes. Add the jalapenos, salt and pepper and continue to simmer for 10 more minutes. Serve up with cilantro and hot sauce. This is true comfort food.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Dogs take a leek with spuds

I'm so sorry about that title. But you know me, I'm mouthy. No photo exists for this. I have not entirely given up on my camera, but I haven't been able to communicate with it via this laptop since I left Denver.
Buy yourself some really good hotdogs. Buy yourself two large leeks. Buy yourself four 3 inch Yukon gold potatoes. Clean the leeks. I'm sure you know how to do this, but I'm not going there. Cut the potatoes into quarters and get them boiling (12-15 minutes). Cut the hotdogs into 1/2 inch rounds. Saute the leeks in some olive oil a butter until tender (6-8 minutes). Add in the hotdogs. When the potatoes are done, drain them and smash some of them. Throw all this together with salt and pepper. Serve with mustard and/or horseradish on the side. Maybe some hot sauce too. Up to you.
This will make you feel really good.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Fish cakes

I have made shrimp and catfish cakes more time than I can remember. In this case I made cakes from shrimp and cod. It may surprise you to know that, after pulsing 6 oz. of each together in the food processor, no other additives were necessary, just some seasoning - salt, pepper and a bit of cayenne. The fishes are very sticky and hold together as "burgers" very well. A few minutes per side in a saute pan with olive oil and butter and you've got a swell thing.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Betty Grable legs and thighs

As you know, I nearly always buy whole chickens. After making milanesa from the breast meat the other day, I decided to tinker with the recipe with the legs, thighs and wings. It will surprise you to know that I did not brine them. Instead I decided to do a marinade of equal parts low fat yogurt, mayo, and 1 Tbs miso paste. After coating them with homemade breadcrumbs, I baked them at 375 for 40 minutes. They were delicious and the most crispy oven-fried chicken pieces I have ever made. One caveat: the experience taught me that I should not have skipped the brining step. A good brine (2-3 hours) infuses flavor and moisture into the meat that is incomparable.

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