Saturday, September 24, 2011

It's booking time

I have my first cookbook ready to be published. I plan to concentrate on that for the next week or so. It is a cookbook which is perhaps unlike any other you have ever read. It's full of my mouthiness (which I like to think of as wit). It's title is "A Cook's Cookbook for Cooks." I will be shamelessly hyping it once it is available (via Amazon and/or Kindle). The theme of the book is exactly what I have been advocating in recent years: don't be a slave to anything in the kitchen. Use what you have and make what you want. It's no big deal. Keep your eyes on my blog - my magnum opus is coming soon.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Posole for the common man

This turned out very well. I have posted posole before, but without attracting much attention. Also, since the recipe is very fluid, this falls into the category of "do what you have to do with what you have." I did get to the Hispanic market yesterday morning where I used to shop in the 90's during our first sojourn in DC. It's a little limited, although they seem to have a magnificent meat department - not large but well-stocked. This is a bare-bones posole. No chorizo, I'm using up some pork loin chops I have. I used only 1 can of hominy, no really hot peppers, some pasilla peppers (4, with seeds removed) (brings flavor and color but not much by way of heat), and a judicious mix of water and chicken broth. I seasoned as I went along and was pleased with the result. Tasty, mild, with just hints of a real Mexican broth (but then I'm not a real Mexican). If you want a soup/stew that's off the beaten track, get yourself some chorizo, some canned hominy, some dried peppers, and perhaps some Mexican oregano from the south of the border section at the market. Those are the things that bring Mexican to the party. Or just invite a Mexican. Anything else you do is just a bonus. By the way, the pasilla peppers (dried to start out with), when soaked and pureed, bring the color and essential flavor to this dish.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The world's strangest beef stew

How unattractive could my pictures be? See above. Above you see some generic beef stew on and some generic kim chi. Hold that thought. I found myself on the horns of dilemma. I had 2 1/2 pounds of beef chuck that was really only good for a stew. Also, I had started a batch of kim chi last week that I was very disappointed with. I threw it together very hastily and the result was way to salty and way to spicy (due to cayenne and red pepper flakes I threw in with abandon). Today being a gym day for us, I decided I would get this beef into the oven at about 2 pm and let it roast slowly for maybe 3 hours. Not having anything else to go with it, I piled the adolescent kim chi on it and added 2 cups of chicken stock. 300 degree oven for as long as it took (3 hours) yielded an unusual flavored stroganoff. We didn't eat it on Sunday (the day I made it) as we were off to dinner with friends at their home. But on Monday came the great test of Stevie's bizarre creativity. Would it be edible? Would we have to get a divorce?

This may well be the oddest thing I have ever put on our dinner table. It had its positive qualities buy was excessively salty (that was the kim chi). There's more and I will dilute it with something. Actually the beef chunks themselves are tender and tasty. It the rest of it that tastes like the Bermuda Triangle.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Chicken livers with paprika and sneezes

The sneezes are from the fact that I woke up this morning with a full-blown cold, the first I have had in several years. What must it have been like eons ago when there were no Kleenex? This is certainly not a recipe for everyone out there. But I grew up eating inexpensive chicken livers in addition to beef liver (we were a family of seven with a fairly limited income). I don't prepare it very often, for reasons I don't exactly know. I guess part of it is that we shouldn't be eating organ meats every day of our lives.

1 lb chicken livers, thawed if frozen
salt and pepper
flour for dredge
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs olive oil

The livers are usually two lobes. Take a pair of kitchen shears and clean out the material where the lobes are connected. Season livers well with salt and pepper and coat them generously with paprika. Heat the butter and olive oil until the butter's foam has subsided. Dredge the livers with flour and saute them until medium rare – in other words, they should still be a bit pink in the middle. Serve immediately. An alternative method is to dredge them the same way and then cook them in some bacon fat. You certainly could saute a bunch of onion to accompany them as well. Excuse me, I have to sneeze.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Voici l'omelette

I'm not trying to be pretentious here, the title means "here is the omelet." It's been a while since I've made an omelet. We've made dozen of frittatas, using up bits and pieces of leftovers. Peter has become the first man of frittatas. I've been thinking about making a simple straight-forward omelet for a while. The one I came up with is with mushrooms and cheese. With the addition of a bit of salt and pepper that's all that's in there. For a substantial one-dish lunch I use 5 eggs, beaten lightly with some half and half or milk. The cooking vehicle is our single non-stick skillet lubricated with a bit of olive oil and butter. Once the butter is melted I add the eggs and leave them alone for 2-3 minutes. Then I start lifting the edges with a spatula to let the liquid on top run underneath. Oh, I should mention, it's a good idea to keep the heat at no more than medium low. When you think it's close to the point where you want to fold it, add some sauteed mushrooms and some grated cheese. The type of either is entirely according to your taste. If you think you can manage it, fold it into thirds. Otherwise once in half is fine. I like to leave the center slightly wet, but that's up to you.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Don't let your meatloaf

I bought a package of breakfast sausages at Safeway yesterday and thought and thought about what to do with them. We don't eat breakfast. Then the meatloaf idea hit me. I chose to keep this very simple: sausage, panade (bread and milk), onion and egg. Into a 350 oven until you achieve 175 degrees. Top it with some catsup near the end if you wish. Serve with some hot sauce if that is what floats your boat. I added no additional seasonings since the sausage itself is quite well-seasoned. The photo of the sausage above shows it cooked. What I put into the meatloaf was not cooked.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Slaw that will slay you

Few things are easier to put together than a good slaw. You need to make only a few decisions. Onion? Garlic? Salt and pepper? Grated carrot? I used 1/2 head of savoy cabbage, some mayo, some onion, some garlic, salt and pepper, onion and garlic powders. Add some Dijon mustard if you like. I chop my cabbage with a shredding blade in our food processor. In any case, this is a tasty and nutritious thing. Go for it. Use any cabbage you like. It does not matter.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Classic roast chicken

Nothing fancy here. Just a nicely roasted bird with minimal seasonings. Yours truly didn't even brine this thing. What, you say? I didn't plan my day well and realized too late I had run out of time to brine. I seasoned it liberally (under skin and inside cavity) with a mix of salt, pepper, onion and garlic powders. Then it was merely a matter of how long to roast at 350. It was, after all a 5 lb roaster bird. This is where my electronic thermometer comes in. After 1 1/2 hrs. the chicken was at a perfect 165 degrees. 10 minutes rest and then we had a wonderful dinner, extended by some homemade cole slaw and an ear of corn apiece. I had a truly happy tummy. And there was a lot of chicken leftover.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Gravlax with beet carpaccio

I have to credit Ina Garten of the Food Network for the basic recipe below for one of nature’s miracles, gravlax. I learned the technique by watching her do it a few years ago. I am republishing an ancient post here for two reasons. This was one of my earliest, way before anyone ever posted a comment on my blog. Also, these two items, in combination, are heavenly.
What does gravlax taste like. Somewhat like smoked salmon, although it is not smoked. The way I make it it tastes less salty than smoked salmon. If you use really fresh salmon there will be no fishy taste.
As for the beets, I realize not everyone likes them. I would be perfectly happy to serve the salmon on very thin blanched slices of potato. Suit yourself.


1 pound fresh salmon, center cut

1 large bunch of dill, plus 1/4 cup chopped dill for serving

1/8 cup kosher salt

1/8 cup sugar

1 tablespoon white or black peppercorns, crushed

1 1/2 tsp whole fennel seeds

splash of sake or other spirit

Cut the salmon in half crosswise and place half the fish skin side down in a deep dish. Wash and shake dry the dill and place it on the fish. Combine the salt, sugar, crushed peppercorns, and fennel seeds in a small bowl and sprinkle it evenly over the piece of fish. Place the other half of salmon over the dill, skin side up. Cover the dish with aluminum foil.Place a smaller pan on top of the foil and weight it with some heavy cans. Refrigerate the salmon for at least 2 and up to 3 days, turning it every 12 hours and basting it with the liquid that collects.Lay each piece of salmon flat on a cutting board, remove the bunch of dill, and sprinkle the top with chopped dill. With a long thin slicing knife, slice the salmon in long thin slices as you would for smoked salmon. Make sure your knife is very, very sharp.Serve on pumpernickel bread or toast. You can also top it with a fried egg that has been allowed to come to room temperature. Or try the beet carpaccio below.

Beet carpaccio

1 large beet, steamed, cooled and peeled

Slice the beet very thin on a mandoline.

Arrange the slices on 2 plates.

Drizzle with the sauce below, top with gravlax slices and another drizzle of sauce.

Garnish with some fresh dill if you have it.

Dressing for beets and gravlax

Olive oil

Chinese black vinegar

Sherry vinegar


White pepper

Lemon juice

If you do not have black vinegar add a bit more sherry vinegar. Be careful not to let vinegar totally highjack the sauce. Whisk the ingredients together and taste. It may take a few minutes of adding small amounts of whatever you think necessary. Remember the rule of thumb: you should be able to detect the presence of every ingredient, however, slightly.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Little lamb, little innocent lamb burgers

When I came home with two nicely priced lamb loin chops the other day I knew they were too fatty to cook whole. So ground up the trimmed meat in the food processor. I decided to add add some brandade (bread and milk). Mixed in some chopped fresh rosemary, garlic, onion powder, salt and pepper and made it into two burger patties. Then a quick saute and voila!

There is certainly no reason for me to go on and on about corn on the cob. We do it very simply: steamed for 10 minutes and then coated with a bit of butter and salt (I tried pepper on mine and liked it a lot).
I posted Saturday night's supper and made an error. I wrote the post before actually cooking the meal. Both Peter and I thought we had chard in the fridge. Instead it was beet greens. Lovely things aren't they?

Peter was put in charge of making yogurt sauce, to which he added some garlic, some salt and pepper and I think that was all.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Saturday supper at home

After spending more than a week not eating much of anything (I survived on Ensure and ice water), I'm finally back on my feed. I'm posting this homely and homey supper just because it feels so good to have an appetite again.

I found a ham slice on sale at Safeway and we had bought a couple of baking potatoes the other day.

The chard came from the farmers market. The prep for the whole meal was extremely easy - hardly any labor involved.

With my insides still a tad delicate, all I did with the ham was to trim fat from it, bring a skillet full of water to a boil, drop in the ham, cover it and turn off the heat. After 10 minutes it was nice and warm and a lot of the sodium had been leached out.

We've learned a simple and absolutely dependable way to bake potatoes. First of all, we buy the biggest russetts we can find. They each weigh nearly a pound. So we cook just one and it's enough for the two of us. 1 hour and 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven does the trick. Oh, don't forget to stick a fork into the potato a few times on each side so that it doesn't explode. You can dress it with butter, salt, pepper, sour cream, chives or scallion. Many, many possibilities. I had mine with a small pat of butter and a little salt and pepper.

We use an easy braise for all kinds of greens. Baby spinach takes maybe 3 minutes and kale more like 10. Chard falls in the middle - 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the thick parts of the stems and cut them into 1/2 inch pieces. Rinse the greens and chop them roughly. Heat 1 Tbs olive oil and 1 Tbs butter in your largest saute pan. Saute a little garlic if you wish and then add the chopped stems. You can reserve them for another purpose or simply include them. They need about 3 minutes before you add the greens. When the greens have wilted, salt and pepper them a little and put a lid on the pan. Let them cook for maybe 5 minutes until tender to your taste.

All in all a meal with some definite medicinal value.

I'll be back soon

After two weeks, I decided it was time to take down the chuck steak post. I've been under the weather for a while and only starting to eat something more than Ensure. Have not been cooking, but I'll get back to it soon. I've been reading all your posts on the days my stomach would allow me to look at food. "See" you soon.

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