Posts Tagged ‘Food’

A Roasted Chicken for Sandy

April 9, 2009

Spring is official, and to prove it, our friends Sandy and Brenda sent me home with an HEB bag full of spring onions when we visited them in San Antonio last weekend. I love green onions, particularly with fresh spring fare, and even more particuarly with fresh lemons.   Then, I happened to visit the New Flower Farmer’s Market in South Austin, and found a free range Rosie Chicken.

I just finished eating one of the best roasted birds I’ve ever taken out of my oven.  It was seriously loaded with the taste of onions, so you won’t like this if you don’t like them.  It was brined over night, then cooked with a cavity full of Sandy’s spring onions and sliced fresh lemons.  We ate it with a side of roasted beets with wilted greens, and seared Brussels sprouts.

Thanks to Sandy for the onions, and Brenda for the cute picture of her husband and their dog, Priscilla.

Onion grower. Dane lover.  Thanks to Brenda for the picture.

Onion grower. Dane lover. Thanks to Brenda for the picture.

Brine:
¾ cup kosher salt
½ cup pickle juice (I had bread and butter pickles)

Pour salt and pickle juice into a container big enough to hold your bird, but small enough to refrigerate.  I was using a 6¾ quart cast iron dutch oven. Add cool water about half way up the container and stir until the salt dissolves.  Place the chicken, breast side down into the water and then add more water as needed to cover the bird.  Place in the refrigerator for 18 hours or so.

Roast Chicken with Spring Onions and Lemon
4 lb brined free range chicken
olive oil
fresh cracked black pepper
cayene pepper
2-3 cups chopped green onions, white and green parts
2 sliced fresh lemons

Remove the chicken from the brine, and then pat it dry.  Remove any remaining pin feathers, and trim excess fat from the cavity opening.  Cover the bird in about 1 tbs of olive oil, then season with black and cayenne peppers.  Make certain to season the entire exterior, and cavity.  Place the chicken in a large dutch oven or roasting pan with wing tips bent back and placed behind the bird. Stuff the cavity fully with one of the sliced lemons, and as much chopped onions as will loosely fit. Sprinkle remaining green onions around the bird, then squeeze the remaining sliced onions over and around it. Drop the lemon slices in the pan.

Roast, covered at 350°F until the internal thigh temperature reaches 120°F.  This is where having a digital probe thermometer comes in very handy. There’s no need to remove the set up from the oven to know what temperature you’re at.   The chicken I roasted tonight took about 30 minutes to reach this temp.  Then remove the lid from the roaster and bring the temperature of the bird to about 165° and the skin to lightly golden, approximatly 30 more minutes.  Remove from the oven and let it rest, covered for at least 10 minutes before carving.  The chicken will continue cooking for a few minutes when removed from the heat, and should come to at least 170° before you eat it.

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Seafood Gumbo

March 31, 2009

I make gumbo when I have a need to tend to something.  Perhaps if I had a bigger garden, I wouldn’t ever make the stuff.  This batch contained all shellfish.  I love gumbo with catfish as well, though.

Seafood Gumbo

Seafood Gumbo

½ cup butter
½ cup all purpose unbleached flour
3 medium yellow onions, diced small
1½ green bell peppers, diced small
3 Serrano peppers, minced
¾ cups celery, diced small
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 large ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
1- 1½ quart stock (I’m using chicken bc my grocery store has stopped carrying fish stock)
2 cups okra, sliced
2 tbs fresh thyme leaves,
2 tbs fresh basil, chopped
2 tbs fresh sage, chopped
2 tbs fresh oregano, chopped
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp smoked paprika
1-2 dashes allspice (Thanks Sooz!)
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbs tomato paste
1 tsp white vinegar (if needed) (Lemon juice would be better, but I’m out)
1 tsp table sugar (if needed)
kosher salt, to taste
fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
1 lb crawfish tails, shelled
½ lb gulf shrimp, shelled
½ lb bay scallops

Melt butter in the bottom of a very large, heavy dutch oven over medium high heat.  When the fat is melted, carefully sprinkle in the flour.  Stir and scrape constantly until the roux browns to a chestnut color.  If it burns at all, start over.  This can take upwards of 30 minutes.  If the roux seems too oily add a bit more flour at a time.  Remove from heat if you aren’t ready to add the vegetables at once.

Add onions, peppers, celery, and garlic to the roux.  Mix thoroughly so that the roux is distributed evenly through out the vegetables.  Cook, lidded, over medium heat until the onions become transparent and the vegetables soften.  Add tomatoes.  Slowly stir in stock.  Add spices, herbs, okra, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce.  Bring to a bubble, and add more stock if needed to reach desired thickness.  Taste frequently.  If the gravy needs brightening, add a tiny bit of white vinegar (or lemon if you’ve got it). If the acid is overpowering, add a pinch of sugar to even it out. Simmer over low heat for about 2 hours, until the tomatoes fall apart and blend with the soup.

Just prior to serving, add seafood and stir.  Allow it to cook for about 5 minutes until the shrimp and scallops have firmed and pinked.  Remove from heat.  Serve over white rice with a sprinkle of filé on top.  Top with green onions, pepper sauce, lemon wedges…. whatever you like.  I also firmly believe that gumbo should be served with a good crusty bread for slopping.

Mom’s Red Velvet Cake

March 27, 2009
Excellent frosting job by Andy.

Excellent frosting job by Andy.

My mom’s recipe originally called for shortening instead of butter, but I refuse.  She also used a boiled white frosting, but I think any excuse to eat cream cheese should be taken.

Frosting:
6 tbs butter, softened
12 oz cream cheese, chilled
3 tsp vanilla
2 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted

In an electric mixer, cream butter.  Add cream cheese, one dollop at a time, while mixing.  Add vanilla.  Add powdered sugar ½ cup at a time until the frosting is your desired consistency.

Cake:
1/2 c butter
1 1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 oz bottle red food coloring
3 tbs cocoa
2 1/2 c sifted cake flour
1 c buttermilk
1 tsp salt
1tbl vinegar
1 tsp soda

Cream shortening, sugar eggs, & flavors. Make a paste of cocoa and food coloring. Add to first mixture. Alternately add flour and buttermilk. Mix soda and vinegar in small bowl and add to batter. Blend. Bake in 3 – 9″ or 10″ pans for 20-25 mins at 350. Let cool completely. Cover with frosting.

More soup: Posole

March 16, 2009

My local HEB has started carrying pork products from Applegate Farms.  Finally!!  Pork made from pigs that were practically read a bed time story and tucked in to sleep at night.  This I can eat. http://www.applegatefarms.com/products/hdbs.aspx?fid=100&id=480,938,944

In celebration, I made a large pot of Posole.  Andy had never heard of hominy, so I felt this was a perfect opportunity for expanding culinary horizons.  Traditionally, posole is seasoned with dried red chilés, but I had none, so chipotles stood in place.   The finished stew can be served with rice, avocado, lime wedges, queso fresco…. whatever you think compliments the flavor.

6 slices, bacon
4 chicken thighs, skinned, deboned, cubed
3 small white onions, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 chipotle peppers, chopped
2 tsp chopped fresh oregano
kosher salt
cracked pepper
adobo sauce, to taste
1 beer
1 can whole tomatoes, crushed w/ juice
32 oz can yellow hominy, drained
1 lime, juiced
1 quart free range chicken broth
1 cup green cabbage, chopped
¼ cup cilantro, chopped

In a very large pot, fry the bacon until crisp.  Remove it to drain, and set aside.  In the remaining grease, brown the chicken, and remove as well.  Then saute then onions in the still remaining grease.  Add garlic to soften, then green peppers.  Add cumin seeds and cook until they’ve become aromatic and started to brown a little.  Deglaze the pan with beer. Add back the chicken, and crumble in the bacon.  Add remaining ingredients excepting cabbage and cilantro.  Allow to simmer on low heat until the hominy is tender, and the flavors are incorporated.  Add cabbage and allow to wilt.  Serve with chopped cilantro.

The perfect pot for browning a roux

December 12, 2008

I love anything thickened with a roux. I make Béchamel for all my casseroles instead of using canned cream soups. I make a roux for the base of macaroni and cheese, roux for Étouffée, roux for gravy. And then of course, I make a roux for gumbo.  I’ve heard it said that gumbo is actually love you can eat, and I buy that.

I just stood in the kitchen for about 4 hours, stiring and adjusting, and loving the hell out of a gumbo recipe found on 101cookbooks. com.  I highly recommend that recipe.  However, the best part of the entire meal was browning the roux in my Le Creuset dutch oven.  Andy bought the 6 3/4 quart and 3 1/2 quart models in my favorite blue over the last year. I’ve been using them for every roasted bird, stewed stew, pot roast, or loaf of bread I’ve made since.

Using the enameled cast iron allowed me to brown the perfect roux. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten one darker than today’s, and it didn’t burn even a little.  The heat distribution and retention is great on cast iron, so you get an evenly browned mixture. Plus, since the le creuset are enameled, the pan comes perfectly clean as you scrape it with a wooden spatula. Somehow, using this pan instead of my usual cast iron skillet let me cook the roux for much longer (around 50 minutes). It smelled like toasted popcorn and tasted like roasted nuts.

If you have the dime you must pick one up. http://www.amazon.com/Creuset-Enameled-Cast-Iron-4-Quart-French/dp/B000EWNXKS/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1229046979&sr=1-3

This was about 40 minutes in. 1 cup of butter, 1 cup of flour. It ended up chocolate brown.

This was about 40 minutes in. 1 cup of butter, 1 cup of flour. It ended up chocolate brown.

Papas y Carne

November 14, 2008

This dish is something prepared by little Mexican grandmothers across Texas and Mexico. It uses a tougher cut of meat, a handful of spices, and potatoes to make a lovely gooey tastey mess of comfort food for little cash. This is a dish that you throw together in the morning, and then back-burner all day until it just falls apart.  I serve it wrapped up in fresh tortillas.  You should make a pretty big mess eating this. Also, be forwarned that there’s no way to make just a little.  Make this stuff when you have a football team to feed.

2 lbs beef, cubed (I use round steak or sometimes chuck)
2-4 tbs olive oil
2 large white onions, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 large russet poatoes, cubed (I didn’t bother to peel them today)
1- 16oz can tomato sauce
3 tbs cumin
1 tbs chili powder
2 bay leaves
kosher salt/ fresh pepper to taste

Cut the round steaks into approximately ½ inch cubes. This is far easier to accomplish if the meat is still partially frozen.  Toss some kosher salt and cracked pepper with the meat.  Heat olive oil to medium high in a large soup pot or dutch oven. Barely brown the cubed steak and then remove it from th pan, reserving any juice that has formed.  Add a little more olive oil to the pan and then cook the onions until just soft. Add the garlic to soften, then add back the meat. Stir in remaining ingredients and add water until the mixture is just barely covered. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer all day until the potatoes fall apart and the meat is tender. This should be a fairly thick, mush like consistency that can be spooned into tortillas and eaten as tacos.

Vegan Blackeyed Peas

November 8, 2008

I served this with stewed cabbage, though it isn’t New Years.  I love blackeyed peas, but I’ve always found it difficult to get them nice and savory without a giant hunk of yummy dead pig floating in the middle of them.  The coffee seemed to do nicely here, giving the broth a little depth.

1 lb dried blackeyed peas, soaked overnight
4 tbs olive oil
2 medium white onions, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 tbs fresh ginger, peeled and minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Serrano peppers, seeded and minced
1 cup white wine
1 cup black coffee
kosher salt
½ tbs cumin
½ tbs chili powder
hot water

In a large dutch oven, heat olive oil.  Add onions and celery, mixing to coat with the oil.  Clamp the lid on and allow to cook until softened, stirring occasionally.  Add peppers, garlic, and ginger and saute until just tender.  Deglaze the pan with the white wine, add coffee, beans and seasonings.  Cover with water by two or three inches.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer until the peas soften.  Taste the broth and re-season as needed.  If you must add water to the pot while it simmers, make certain it is near boiling. Cold water will cause the beans to split an the broth to muddy.

What shall I cleave…

October 22, 2008

with my brand new Global cleaver??  Chicken? Duck? Winter Squash?  I thirst for culinary violence!!

Delicate Crab Cakes

October 19, 2008

A friend was talking about salmon patties the other day and I got a serious jones for them.  They’re pretty high in the calorie department though, and canned salmon is always a bit iffy in my book.  Instead, I spent a rather ridiculous amount of bank on some good crab meat and came up with these crab cakes. They are not at all bready. Instead, they are very tender, full of crab, quite light, and extremely delicate.  I used MUCH care in moving them around, and they still very nearly fell apart, so don’t try this if you feel impatient.

It’s rare that something turns out exactly as I originally envisioned it, but this recipe did the trick.  Make sure to use the half and half mixture of lump/claw meat.  The lump is the more flavorful, sweet tasting type of crab meat, but using only that, the cakes would never stay together. The stringier claw meat provides more cohesion to them. Also, the vegetables and herbs were minced tiny tiny tiny. Don’t use a food processor though, or they’ll be too watery. I served the crab cakes with a dollop of the creamy dill dressing I’ve posted before.

½ pound lump crab meat
½ pound crab claw meat
½ small red onion, minced
½ red bell pepper, minced
¼ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup chopped green onion
3 tbs prepared brown mustard
1 tbs mayo
2 eggs beaten
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1 tsp paprika
Kosher salt/ Cracked Pepper
1 tsp red chile flakes
1 roasting pan with rack. Cover the rack with tin foil and poke lots of holes in it with a fork.

Combine all the ingredients, using a fork, into a barely cohesive mixture. Be careful not to completly break up the lump crab.  In a big cast iron skillet, heat to medium enough canola oil to cover the bottom of the pan plus a tad (maybe ¼ cup). Form each patty with your hands, packing them well, then place them on a metal spatula and slide them into the oil.  Allow the cake to fry about 1-2 minutes, flip, then fry another 1-2 minutes.  They will just brown in the oil.  Very carefully remove them from the skillet and slide them, using another spatula, onto a cutting board lined with paper towel.  Place the covered roasting rack upside down on the lightly fried cakes. Invert the cutting board so that the cakes are now resting on the rack, remove the board and peel off the paper towel. Place the rack with the crab cakes on the roasting pan.  Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes until golden brown.  Allow to them to cool for about 5 minutes before you try to serve them.

Scallop and Brown Rice Bowl

October 17, 2008

I just tossed this together in one pan and ate it in a big bowl.  Cast iron skillets are the perfect tool to make great meals for just one or two people.  I love to buy bags of frozen brown rice from Whole Foods to add to single serving meals like this.  Quinoa or any other rice or grain would have done just as well.

Spray olive oil
2 large sea scallops, fresh
1 scant cup Crimini mushrooms, sliced
½ red bell pepper, seeded and diced (I used a left-over grilled one)
2 tbs green onion, chopped
2 tbs cilantro, chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of ½ lemon
½ cup brown rice (I used whole grain, frozen. Quinoa would be good too)

Spray scallops with olive oil, then season with kosher salt and cracked pepper.  Heat a large cast iron skillet to medium heat, then spray with additional olive oil.  Sear scallops, chop them into bite sized pieces,  and set aside.  Spray more oil into skillet and add the mushrooms. Add 1 or 2 tbs of water to the pan if necessary to keep from sticking.  Add cracked pepper to taste.  Add bell pepper, zest, herbs, and lemon juice.  Toss to combine.  Add brown rice and heat through adding a few tbs of water if necessary to keep from burning.  Add back scallops and toss with other ingredients just to combine.  Serve in a large bowl topped with a dollop of thick Greek yogurt (or Dill Yogurt Dressing) and a pinch of grated Parmesan cheese.