Posts Tagged ‘recipe’

My First Mojito

July 7, 2009

Photo by Andy (http://www.flickr.com/photos/skeltoac/)

Photo by Andy

Simple Syrup:

¾ cup cane sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
1 cup water
1 cup fresh mint leaves

Crush the mint leaves thoroughly in a mortar and pestle.  Combine with sugar and water. Bring the mixture just to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes on low.  Remove from heat, lid, and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.  Strain the liquid from the leaves, and store in the refrigerator.

Mojito:
¾ cup fresh squeeze lime juice
½-¾ cup simple syrup
12 oz lime seltzer
6 oz dark rum (Okay okay! It was probably closer to 10 oz)
3 oz cointreau

Combine all ingredients.  Serve over ice with a fresh sprig of lime.  I prefer these fairly tart, so I used less of the simple syrup.  Adjust according to your taste.   I was using fresh Mexican limes from our friends Sandy and Brenda.  The mint came from a pot on my back porch.  Yum.

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Tofu Pot Sticker Dumplings

May 21, 2009

I first made dumplings with my wonderful friend Xin Li in graduate school.  Known as Mama Xin in my little lab of beleaguered grad students, Xin had moved to the US with her husband and daughter from China about 3 years before we met.  She knew the dumplings were my favorite, and would bring them to me if she knew I was having a hard time in the lab.  The day after the funeral of my best friend, there was a hot plate of dumplings left for me with out explanation on my desk. I think I cried for about a week over that.  Asian Dumplings are comfort food, as sure as a big bowl of the puffy Bisquick variety.

Dipping Sauce:
¼ soy sauce
1 tbs chilé garlic sauce
splash white wine vinegar
drizzle sesame oil

Combine soy sauce, chilé garlic sauce, and white wine vinegar.  Slowly wisk in a thin stream of sesame oil (about 2 tsp).

Potstickers:
1 brick extra firm organic tofu
1 cup shredded bok choy
½-¾ cup shredded red cabbage
½ cup shredded carrots
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
¼ cup fresh green onion tops, chopped
2 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs hoisin sauce (optional: leave it out for vegans)
2 tbs chilé garlic sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1 package goyza wrappers, or wonton skins
4 tbs water
2 tbs corn starch

**Meaty alternative: Combine 1 lb ground pork, ½ cup green chopped green onion, 2 tbs soy sauce, 2 tbs hoisin sauce, 2 tsp sesame oil, 2 tbs chilé garlic sauce.  Use this instead of the tofu/cabbage mixture.

Drain water from tofu and then crush the entire brick in a large bowl.  Add shredded cabbages, carrots, ginger, shallots, hot sauce, soy, hoisin, cilantro, and green onions.  Mix, just to bring together.  Taste the mixture and re-season as desired.  You want a dry mixture. No liquid should pool in the bottom of the bowl.   In a small dish combine water and corn starch.

Prepare an area in which to assemble the dumplings.  You will need: A large plate on which to work, a cookie sheet lined with wax paper (plus additional wax paper for additional layers), a small soup spoon, raw goyza wrappers,  and a clean dry cup towel.

Work Space

Work Space

With the area set up: place a single goyza wrapper on your work plate.  Place about 1 tbs of the filling in the center of the wrapper.  Dip a finger in the corn starch and water mixture, making certain to mix the solution a little. Shake off most of the excess liquid, then run the finger around the bottom edge of the wrapper only. You want to just barely wet the wrapper, not soak it.

Wet the edge of the wrapper.

Wet the edge of the wrapper.

Dry your fingers using the clean cup towel.  Carefully fold the top half of the wrapper down to meet the bottom.  Then pick up the wonton, and use the fingers of one hand to gently seal the edges.  You aren’t trying to press the dough together, only use the corn starch/water mixture as glue.  Carefully press out bubbles. Try not to get the filling in the seam as this will prevent it from sealing.

Seal the wonton.

Seal the wonton.

Place the folded wonton on a wax paper lined baking sheet.  Separate layers with an additional sheet of waxed paper. If you don’t wish to use all of them in one day, place the dumplings in single layers in your freezer. When they have completely frozen through, you can bag them and save them in the freezer for about a month. Between the assembly of each dumpling, wipe your plate with the cup towel.  You want a dry work surface.

Heat a large dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add about 2 tbs of canola oil to the bottom of the pan.  Place folded dumplings, one at a time, in the hot oil.  DO NOT TURN.  Clamp a tight lid down over the dumplings and let them cook for about 1 minute.  You are actually encouraging the dumpling to stick to the bottom of the pot.  Hence the name potsticker. Lift the lid from the dutch oven and add about ¼ cup of cold water to the pan. Clamp the lid back on and cook for an additonal minute.  This will unstick the dumpling from the pan. If you are using a meat filling make certain it has time to cook all the way through.

Serve, burned side up, with the dipping sauce.

Burned side up.

Burned side up.

I actually prefer the meat filling here.  Somehow the tofu will always be just a tiny bit too watery for my taste.  I like this tofu filling though. It’s got plenty of flavor and is virtually guilt free as far as calories go.  If you don’t want to use the pot sticking method, you can steam the dumplings using a metal steamer basket, a spray of olive oil, and a big pot.  If you would like to boil the dumplings (more precisly you would poach them): bring a large pot of water to just under the boil.  Stir the water slowly with a large spoon to create a vortex.  One at a time, gently drop in the dumplings and cook for about 3 mintutes. Strain and eat.

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.

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.

Brown Sugar Cookies. No Fuss.

January 10, 2009

I made these this weekend: http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/brown-sugar-sandwich-cookies-recipe.html but as I have next to no trends towards neatness and care, I made them my own more sloppy way. Instead of building sandwiches, I just dipped the toe of each small cookie in melted chocolate.  I also had no whole wheat flour, so I used a combination of general purpose unbleached flour, and rye flour.
Yum indeed.

Pretty low on the guilt scale too!

Pretty low on the guilt scale too!

Vegetarian Bean Soup

January 6, 2009
Im in the mood for soup, so I thinned this out a bit with more beer. If I wanted chili, Id leave it very chunky.

I'm in the mood for soup, so I thinned this out a bit with more beer. If I wanted chili, I'd leave it very chunky.

This is what I make when asked for vegetarian chili.  I’ve got to say, it’s one of my favorite self generated recipes.  I sort of touched and tinkered on it for a good long while and I think it’s nicely balanced and filling.  I will say this is not something to make on a week day.  The chopping and layering and sauteing take time.  I like to let the vegetables simmer for a few minutes to create their own stock. Then I add the beer, crank the heat and let it reduce a bit before I continue building the soup. I think that makes the flavor a bit more rich.  Take your time, it will pay off.   The recipe makes about a metric ton of soup, so bring home friends.  This will be dinner on Saturday night, along with some sourdough bread. If you’re in Austin please do stop by.

A word about adobo sauce:  It can sneak up on you.  You may taste very little chilè when the soup is first assembled, and then not be able to eat it in a few hours.  I start with adding one or two tablespoons of the adobo sauce, and then taste and work up as the cooking continues.  If you can find them Fire Roasted Tomatoes (instead of plain canned ones) will add something here.

2 tbs vegetable oil
1 yellow onion, finely diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 large carrots, peeled and finely diced
4 large celery stalks, peeled and finely diced
2 cups white mushrooms, chopped coarse
2 ear sweet corn removed from the cob
2 chipotle peppers
3 tbs adobo sauce
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter (100% peanuts if possible)
Fresh cracked pepper
Kosher salt
1 bottle of beer
1 can whole tomatoes crushed with juice
1 cup black beans drained, washed, juice reserved
1 cup kidney beans drained, washed, juice reserved
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
Juice of one lime (optional)

Heat a large stock pot and add oil to bottom of the pan, just to cover. Saute onion until it begins to color. Add garlic, carrots and celery. Cook until vegetables begin to soften, adding a touch of beer if needed to deglaze the pan and keep things from sticking.  Add mushrooms. Cook down, lid on, until mushrooms yield moisture. Add corn. Stir in chopped chili, adobo sauce, cumin, peanut butter, pepper, and salt. Saute for a few more minutes. Pour bottle of beer into vegetable mixture. Add crushed tomatoes with juice. Add washed beans. Stir. Add reserved bean juice as needed. Bring to a boil stirring frequently. Reduce to simmer for 2 to 3 hours. Add chopped cilantro and lime juice  just before serving.

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.

Cornbread dressing

November 26, 2008

Cornbread:
1 ½ cups cornmeal
½ cup unbleached flour
2 tbs sugar (Don’t tell…. they’ll kick me out of Texas for putting sugar in my cornbread)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 ½ cups buttermilk
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup butter, melted

Set a cast iron skillet (9 inch round) on the stove and heat on high while you make the batter.  Combine dry ingredients, then make a well in which to add the wet ingredients.  Mix, just to bring together.  Place a few tablespoons of vegetable oil (or bacon grease if you’ve only a few months to live) in the skillet and swirl it around to coat the bottom and sides of the pan. A little oil should pool in the bottom.  Carelfully pour the batter into the hot pan. It will sizzle as the batter cooks a little.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Run a knife around the edge to loosen, then turn the cornbread out to cool.

Cornbread dressing:
4 skillets of cornbread, allowed to dry for a few days
1 batch buttermilk biscuits (there’s a recipe on this blog somewhere), dried
2 cups white onions, minced
1½ cups celery, minced
½ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
½ cup cooked turkey giblets, chopped (optional)
4-6 tbs poultry seasonings or rubbed sage (I like mine to be heavily seasoned. Back it off if you’d like)
1 tbs kosher salt
Fresh cracked pepper
3-4 cups sodium free chicken broth (Mine’s free range of course)
1 stick butter

In the largest bowl you own (my grandmother always used her dish pan) crumble together the cornbread and biscuits. The size of the crumble is to your taste.  In my family it’s always very finely crumbled.  Mix in vegetables, and seasonings very well.  Melt butter and combine it with the chicken (or turkey) stock.  A little at a time, add the stock to the cornbread mixture.  Mix it thoroughly as you go.  As you add, pick up a little of the mixture in your hand and lightly squeeze it in your palm. It should hold together when released, but not form a dough at all. It will remain crumbly.  When the consistency is correct, taste the mixture and reaseason as desired.

Place the dressing in one or two 13X9 inch baking dishes. (I reserve some to stuff into my turkey. This would get me disowned by any food microbiology professor I’ve ever learned from, but I love love love the resulting dressing).  Bake the pans in a 350 degree oven until the cornbread is no longer mealy, about 2 hours.  Remove the pans occasionally and stir them to prevent burning.  Add more broth or turkey drippings as needed if the mix looks too dry. You can also add more fat as you go.

For a drier dressing use fewer biscuits and less broth. For a more wet dressing use a higher percentage of biscuits and add more broth and butter.  I serve this with giblet gravy.

My grandmother was in charge of the dressing each year for our Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts. I find that the way she made it is just the way dressing is supposed to taste to me, but there are endless variations. You could leave your aromatic vegetables much chunkier, add any herbs you wish, stir some oysters into the mix a few minutes before it comes out of the oven, add apples and pecans… whatever you like.  Dressing is a very forgiving dish.

Happy Thanksgiving.