Posts Tagged ‘recipe’

Brown Sugar Cookies. No Fuss.

January 10, 2009

I made these this weekend: 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.

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

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.

Cranberry Relish

November 26, 2008

1 12oz package whole cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 tsp kosher salt
2-3 tbs orange liqueur
zest of 1 orange
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced

Combine sugar, water, salt, liqueur, zest, and ginger. Bring to a boil and add cranberries.  Bring back to a boil, the lid and reduce the heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally until all the cranberries pop and the sauce thickens a little. (Approx 15 minutes)  Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until needed.

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.

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.

Ragweed Pollen

September 30, 2008

It’s of the devil. The only thing worse is probably cedar season or millions of paper cuts and a boil at the same time.

Hot Toddy:
Equal parts bourbon, water, and fresh lemon juice. Cinnamon and lemon zest for flavor. Maple syrup to sweeten.  Hold it under your nose till it clears up a little.