Monday, July 30, 2012

Rice is nice (even with lime)

While leafing through a cookbook a couple of weeks ago I happened upon a recipe for lime rice. It sounded interesting and I wrote up a version of it for myself. I only got around to trying it a few days ago. I used to cook rice in stock or broth as often as I could. But with this plan you can give the rice some lovely flavors with or without the stock.

Lime rice (serves 4 generously)
1 cup long grain rice
1 3/4 cups water or broth
1 Tbs lime juice
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 Tbs butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar or Splenda (my preference)
chopped scallion, cilantro and/or parsley (optional)

Cook the rice. Mix the other ingredients in a small bowl. When the rice is done, fluff it with a fork and toss it with the rest of the stuff. Serve right away.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Shrimp with curry and coconut milk

A little bit ago I posted one of my "soup storm" inspirations. This morning I didn't even remember having done that. Instead, my 5-watt brain was fixated on doing shrimp in coconut milk to be served with lime rice. So I started from scratch.

The shrimp were the easy part. I got a really good deal on a pound of 21-30's earlier this week. Frozen, but who cares, they thaw very quickly. It was the base in which the shrimp would be cooked that needed my undivided attention. One of the things I love about cooking is how you can change, add, or subtract something while in mid-stream (so to speak). Just don't change horses while you're there. LOL

Shrimp with curry and coconut milk (2 servings)
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs butter
2 scallions, finely chopped (white and green parts)
1/2 medium jalapeno, seeded
pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 cup white mushrooms, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 tsp curry powder, or to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 15 oz can coconut milk
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and de-veined

Melt the butter in the olive oil and add the scallions, jalapeno, red pepper flakes, mushrooms, curry powder and salt and pepper. Saute for 6-8 minutes until the mushrooms are cooked through. Add the coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Add the shrimp and bring back to a simmer. Cover the pan and remove it from the heat. Let it stand 4 minutes and then serve the shrimp over rice with as much of the cooking liquid as you wish.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Soup Storm 'Cinco'

This was supposed to be a green gazpacho, and it was until I added the dried ancho chiles I buzzed up in my spice grinder. No matter, it tasted exactly the way it was supposed to regardless of color, creed, race, religion or sexual preference. The flavor here was marvelous and next to impossible to describe. I'll just list what went into it and the briefest of steps to completion.

Mexican inspired soup storm soup
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 serrano chile seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
salt and pepper to taste
28 oz can green enchilada sauce
2 cups chicken stock
2 dried ancho chiles, seeds removed and then ground to a powder
homemade ricotta cheese

Heat the oil in a large skillet or medium soup pot. Saute onion, jalapeno, serrano, garlic and salt and pepper for about 5 minutes. Place in food processor with 1/4 cup stock. Puree.

Put the enchilada sauce, chicken stock, dried ancho chiles and the puree into the pot and heat to a simmer. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature, at which temperature you will serve it. Garnish with ricotta or sour cream and cilantro and serve in wide soup bowls.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

One all pork patty, no special sauce, no lettuce, yes onion, no sesame seed bun

I got this hunk o' meat the other day called “pork shoulder blade steak.” I have experience with this cut. In spite of the use of the “steak” word, this is long-cooking meat for sure. Last time I slow-cooked it with sauerkraut. It was good, real good when it was finally finished (2 hours). This time I wanted faster results. Hence the pork burger.

We usually have sandwiches for lunch, so I didn't feel a bun was a necessity for dinner as well. Brining was, as was the addition of a number of other consequential flavors.

One all pork patty (makes three 6 oz. burgers)
18 oz. pork steak (weight after trimming)
1 great big scallion, rough chopped
¼ jalapeno, partly seeded as per your taste
¼ cup cooked button mushrooms in ½ inch pieces
black pepper
2/3 cup torn bread pieces soaked in milk

Brine the pork overnight. Google “brine meat” if you need help with this. Rinse thoroughly and dry with paper towels. Trim out any bone or extraneous fat and cut into ½ inch pieces.

Place in the food processor along with everything else and buzz until very thoroughly pureed. Put a 1 inch ball of it into your microwave and zap for 15 seconds. Taste for seasonings and adjust as necessary.

Form into 3 burgers. Fry in some butter or oil for 5 minutes per side or until the pink is gone from the center (you'll need to make a little cut in one of them to check this out). Add a slice of cheese after turning them if you wish.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Yon Stephen has a lean and hungry look

I got ambitious again and put together this four-course meal. Nothing complicated about any of it. There was a fair amount of waiting time while things cooked. If I thought for one minute that these were things any of you would want to make, and wouldn't have your own way of constructing, I'd put real recipes in here. If I'm mistaken, write to me at and I'll share the specifics promptly.

Chicken gizzard terrine (with a surprise)

I bought a 1 ¼ lb package of chicken gizzards and hearts (“mostly gizzards” the package says) the other day. A little snipping with kitchen shears cleaned them of their naughty bits and then they just needed 2 hours of simmering to tenderize. The one secret (surprise) ingredient of this terrine was the addition of 3 hot dogs. Hey, they were in my freezer and I didn't know what else to do with them. Grind, grind, grind, combine, combine, combine, and gelatine, put into a loaf pan and refrigerate. You're done.

Japanese eggplant with a Thai-style dressing

I'm still without the means to have my camera talk to my computer, so you'll have to be satisfied with a nice picture of 2 Japanese eggplants. Roast them at 375 for an hour until they collapse. Make a sauce from chicken broth (remember those gizzards?), fish sauce, lime juice, ginger, and maybe something else. Slice the eggplants lengthwise, keeping them intact with the stem end and douse them with the sauce. Refrigerate until ready to eat.

Caprese salad with homemade ricotta

Making ricotta at home is stupid simple. Bring a quart of milk to 180 degrees, stir in 3 Tbs of white wine vinegar or lemon juice. Drain through a couple of layers of cheesecloth. That's it. Ricotta comes to a kitchen near you. We're finally into local fresh tomato season here and I found some great basil at, of all places, Safeway. Dress with a bit of olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper and prepare to go to heaven (in a metaphorical sense).

Orange rice

1 cup long grain rice, 1 cup SunnyD, 1 cup chicken stock (gizzards again?). Cook the rice, eat the rice. Use leftovers for fried rice with broccoli (that's for tonight). By the way, I have come back around to cooking rice the way my Asian ex-wife does it. Bring the liquid (with the rice in it) to a boil and wait until holes start to appear in the rice. Clamp on a lid and reduce the heat to low, low, low. I love the texture that results from this method. It still takes 20 minutes, but it's really good.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Thai beef salad

Back when I used to grill (charcoal, then gas, then charcoal again) in the heat of a 6 pm afternoon in Denver in July or August, this was one of our favorite things to make. We used flank steak. This time I used a chuck eye steak. The popular wisdom is that anything with the word chuck in it is like saddle leather unless cooked for the rest of the summer. Not so with this cut. It was my first time using it and it turned out to be very pleasing. A stove top grill was my tool of choice - I haven't owned a grown-up grill for at least half a dozen years.

An extremely easy salad to put together, it may require you to find a couple special ingredients (unless you are the perfect cook and have your pantry stocked with everything). As is my wont, the recipe will feed just 2.

Thai beef salad
12 - 16 oz chuck eye steak, trimmed of extraneous fat
a couple of big handfuls of arugula or a mix of young greens you can get in a bag
some grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
juice of one lime
1 Tbs fish sauce, or more to taste
1/2 Tbs sugar (or Splenda, which was my choice)
1 Thai green chili, seeded and minced
black pepper
add salt only after tasting - fish sauce is very salty

Toss the arugula or greens with 3/4 of the dressing and spread out on a dinner plate. Scatter some tomatoes around.

Sear the steak in a bit of olive oil with a pinch of salt and pepper for just 3 minutes per side. Set aside to rest for 5 minutes and then slice and thinly as you can against the grain. Place the beef slices on top of the arugula and drizzle the rest of the dressing over it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Soup storm, part 'quatre'

Are you wondering how high I can count in French? I am.

This is my latest production. I can hear the bravos coming from all over the US, GB, and even parts of Asia. I would like to thank my spouse, Peter, my cast (wait, there was no cast), the guy who changes the oil in my car, my manicurist (a very handy person to have around.) and the people who grew all my food. Oh, and the guy who didn't order any dried shiitake mushrooms for the shelves at the Giant: thanks a LOT pal. Gosh, this statue is heavy.

Here's the script:

Coconut soup (4 first course servings)
2 Tbs butter
1 Tbs olive oil
3 very large white mushrooms, cut into ½ inch pieces
1 Thai chile, seeded and minced
2 scallions, minced
13.5 oz can coconut milk (that's the size Goya makes now – advantage Goya)
8 oz. clam juice (still the standard size – advantage me)
1 1/2 cup dashi broth (comes as a powder concentrate – mfg/me in a draw)
1 inch piece galangal
juice of ½ lime
2 tsp fish sauce
1 heaping Tbs pickled ginger, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
cilantro for garnish
avocado and sesame oil (optional)

Melt the butter in the olive oil in a saute pan large enough to hold all the ingredients. Drop in the mushrooms and stir to coat with the butter and oil. Saute until they have given up their moisture, salting and peppering about halfway through (after maybe 4 minutes).

Add the coconut milk, the clam juice, dashi broth, Thai chile, scallions, galangal, lime juice, fish sauce, pickled ginger, and salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand until completely cooled. Refrigerate to chill and remove 30 minutes before serving. Garnish with cilantro, a few slices of avocado, and a few drops of sesame oil if desired.

Originally intended to be served with shrimp, but horses were changed.

Salmon cakes

No recipe for this; you can find a million of them via Google. All I did was add some celery, jalapeno, Dijon, bread crumbs soaked in milk and a bit of mayo to help them bind.

Grilled radicchio and endive

Nice fresh hunk 'o radicchio at Safeway this morning, as well as a nice piece of endive. Brush with oil and color them up in a grill pan or saute pan. I dressed mine with a touch of citrus vinaigrette.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Soup storm, part 'trois'

Most of the soup storm components are things I am making for the first time. Not all, however. In the case of gazpacho, I never make it the same way twice. I had just enough of my famous (or is it infamous?) tomatoes Xanadu left from the dinner I catered last Saturday to make a pair of dinner portions. You don't need to make Xanadu for this. Use some fresh garden tomatoes (it's almost time to get them here) or even a can of whole tomatoes you crush up with your hands. Then add in some of your favorite ingredients. Here's what I did.

Gazpacho (2 servings)
2 cups pureed tomatoes (or Xanadu if you are ambitious)
1 8 oz bottle clam juice
1/2 medium bell pepper, 1/2 inch pieces
1 tomatillo
1/2 cup cooked leeks
1 stalk celery, "strings" removed and finely diced
1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
pinch celery salt
generous pinch black pepper
6 cooked shrimp per serving
1/2 avocado, sliced

In a large glass bowl stir together the tomatoes and clam juice.

Chop the tomatillo and add it, along with the green pepper, celery salt, pepper, and stock to your food processor. Puree this and add it to your tomatoes.

Add in the diced cerlery and zucchini.

Chill in the fridge and garnish with shrimp and avocado when ready to serve.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Soup Storm, Part deux

Alright, it hasn't been much of a "storm" yet, but I have an excuse. I have to prepare these soups (cold, summer varieties) at least once before throwing them your way. Peter is only home for lunch on Saturdays and Sundays, so my options are slightly limited. Today, however, being cuarto de Julio, we are lunching in. I believe there are numerous other fruits one could include in this: kiwi, banana, orange, maybe even grapefruit(?). However, this is my blog, this is my recipe, this is my life (okay, enough of that). The amounts listed below would certainly serve 4 as a first course. Please don't sneer at the use of SunnyD - it brings more orangy flavor to things than any actual orange in my experience.

I don't toot my own horn too often (I have people for that), but when Peter is as enamored of something I make as he was this, I know I've made something good. He is very hard to please.

Melon etc. soup
1/2 ripe cantaloup, peeled and seeds removed, diced
1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
1 cup fresh pineapple chunks, with juice if possible
1/2 cup SunnyD
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1/2 medium cucumber, peeled and seeded and chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon
avocado slices (optional)
chopped parsley (optional)

Place ingredients in a food processor in batches and puree. Gather together in a glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with avocado slices and/or parsley as desired.

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