Thursday, December 23, 2010

North African "ristotto"...again

I told you dear reader that I'd do it again and I did. Recipe was exactly the same, except for Almonds instead of sunflower seeds. Biggest difference was that I used a lower temperature to cook the whole thing. Awesome creamy goodness of couscous.

The Original

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Chipotle and Sweet Potato Shrimp Chowder

Let me start by saying that this isn't my recipe. I got the idea from my favorite food page, The Food In My Beard.

I did however make several changes,the most notable is that I used Shrimp instead of fish.

Dan from Food in my Beard does a much better job of detailing the job than I ever could. Instead of going into the details, I'm just going to show the two recipes and hightlight the differences.

The Original (From Food In My Beard)
1/2 lb bacon, chopped into 1 inch segments
5 large sweet potatoes, diced into half inch squares
1 celery heart, diced
2 small onions, diced
2 cuban peppers, diced
6 chipotles from a can, seeded and diced
2 cartons of vegetable stock
1 pint cream
1 and 1/2 lbs fresh white fish like halibut, haddock, or cod, diced into one inch squares

1/4 lb bacon, chopped into 1 inch segments
1/4 lb of Pancetta

5 large sweet potatoes, diced into half inch squares
4 celery stalks, diced
2 medium onions, diced
8 cubanelles, diced
1 can of Chipotles in Adobo sauce

2 cartons of vegetable stock
1.5 pints whole milk
1 and 1/2 lbs Shrimp

My changes are in bold. This soup was really good, but I should have put more shrimp in and used less stock to make it thicker. The entire can of peppers might be too much for some people, perhaps I should have seeded them too?

All in all, the soup was fantastice. Sweet and spicy (and not in the Chinese food way)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Spiced Acorn Squash - a splendid fall soup

Can't stop here, this is bat country. Well thankfully for the sake of the world, the Navy blocks me from accessing the same muse as mister Hunter S Thompson with a convenient policy of urination. However, some muses are just as useful. Hemmingway once said that his inspiration came from cheap Shiraz and the memory of a lost love, as did mine on that fateful Friday evening. Thankfully, I recognized what was happening in my head and wrote a vaguely coherent memo to myself to be deciphered at a later date. Today I worked through my cryptic message to myself and arrived a point only tasted by few. Ok, myself and Dute.

The story begins with a pound of chicken thighs, although any poultry would probably do just fine. Lightly dusted with kosher salt, pepper, and smoked paprika; drizzled in olive oil and pan roasted for fifteen to twenty minutes at 375 degrees.

After being removed from the oven and sufficiently cooled; tear the chicken roughly.

In the mean time roughly chop two large onions, and six cloves of garlic.

For those who don't know, this is an acorn squash. Actually it's two acorn squashes.

Now seeds play an important role later on. So you may wish to save them. More about that later. Peel and cube the both squashes (squashi?). In a good old stock pot melt three tablespoons of butter and three of olive oil. Add the onion, garlic and squash and cook until the onions are soft.

This is where I cut some corners and became a bit lazy, but that's only because I had everything I needed already available. Aka, I had stock and salsa already. Normally I advocate making your own, but I don't think it's entirely needed in this recipe.

Chicken stock, I only used one, a bit shy of a quart.

A roasted tomato salsa and a salsa verde. I used half a jar of each.

It all goes into the pot, and is allowed to simmer for 30 minutes, and then is attacked with the brutal fury of an immersion blender. Silkiness ensues.

Remember those seeds I was talking about? Well I tossed them, but only because I already had pumpkin seeds at my disposal. Acorn squash and pumpkins are close relatives, so if you don't have pumpkin seens feel free to roast up those squash seeds with a bit of ancho chili powder. If you do have pumpkin seeds, put a drop of oil in a pans, and toss the seeds in the chili powder.

Serving time. I laddled the puree into a bowl, and topped with the chicken, a scoop of each salsa, a chopped avocado and the seeds. Splendid simplicity of squash...I wonder how it would be with pumpkin?

Edited to add, I don't recommend the Hemmingway approach to cooking. All you end up with a is a really depressing hangover...and awesome soup.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

It's tailgate time...jambalaya style

Well it was homecoming this weekend in Happy Valley, the weather and the food was great (wish the same could be said about the football). Well a bunch of folks from my New Orleans ventures were going to be coming, so I decided to make Jambalaya. In all the excitement I didn't take as many pictures as I usually do. I went with the ever popular chicken and sausage version.

For some strange reason you simply can not get Andouille sausage in State College. Don't ask me why because you most certainly can get it in Bucktown. I used Keilbasa instead. First things first, cut up two keilbasas into rounds and brown them. Don't cook them all the way, just brown them. I made the entire dish on a camp stove in a Dutch oven. While the sausage was browning I had my sous chef (Peter) prep the chicken. Two pounds of boneless thighs went into one inch cubes. Remove the sausage and brown the chicken, again not cooking it all the way through. I also seasoned at this point. Black pepper and Cayenne to taste. It came out to be about a three teaspoons of cayenne.

Then the holy trinity of Cajun food came into the picture. The Trinity is a combination of celery, onion and bell pepper. It's a lot like the French Mirepoix, and is used the same way. I had the trinity prepared ahead of time.

That's, six stalks of celery, five onions, and three bell peppers. I threw some shallots in there just for fun.

The trinity, the sausage, and the chicken all go into the dutch oven. Mix it up nicely. To that add three smashed cloves of garlic, and seven sprigs of fresh thyme. Cover the entire mixture with 48oz of chicken stock, a can of chopped tomatoes and three Yuengling lagers. About two pounds of rice go into the pot next, I used long grain brown rice.

If you simmered this mixture for a bit and cooked the rice seperate, you'd have a pretty good gumbo.

Anyway, simmer the mixture until the rice is cooked, stirring occasionally. Scrapping the bottom of the dutch oven is very important here, all that good stuff that got stuck while we were browning the sausage and chicken can come up now. That's called flavor.

There you have it, a really easy one pot jambalaya that's perfect for tailgating.

The real reason why I make Jambalaya.

*sorry about the quality of the pictures, between the weather, the beer and the stump I had a lot going on.

Monday, August 9, 2010

North African "Risotto"

Well I set out to make a risotto with a North African flair. Technically it isn't risotto unless you use rice, and I usually do. However today I decided to stick to the North African theme and try to make couscous using the standard risotto technique. By "risotto technique" I mean sauté the rice first, add a bit of wine, soak up the wine and then slowly add warm stock while stirring. Well just use your brain and think of couscous instead of rice for this.

I started with a blend of spices for a bit of flavor.

1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/8 tsp each of: nutmeg, tumeric, cayenne, ginger

I put a few tablespoons of butter into a sauce pan and let it melt. In the meantime I got some chicken stock simmering, and chopped up:

1 clove garlic
1 white onion
dried apricots to taste.
drain and rinse a can of chickpeas

I gave the onions and garlic a quick cook, and added the spice mix along with another tablespoon of butter.

Add a cup of the couscous and give it a quick stir in the butter mixture. Add in a cup of wine and the apricots.

While stirring add a cup of the stock at a time. DON'T add anymore until the first cup seems absorbed. This is where I ran into trouble, couscous is technically a pasta, not a grain like rice. Therefor the couscous absorbed the chicken stock very quickly, and expanded to fill the pot. I quickly added the chickpeas and a handful of sunflower seeds before the pot overflowed.

To finish the dish, I topped it with some chopped scallions and rough cut parsley.

This was absolutly delicious, and the parsley was a great addition. The sunflower seeds added a nice layer of texture, and the the apricots added a wonderful sweetness that played nicely with the flavor of the spice blend. But alas, it was not the risotto that I set out to make. I'm calling it a failure for now, but only because it met a different goal than I set out to reach. I will be trying this again, just not with couscous. I'm thinking of some kind of grain, bulger wheat, barley or maybe millet. This stuff was good, it just more of a pilaf than a creamy bowl of risottoy goodness.


It's old, but delicious. Props to Trevor for the video work.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Foodie Fights time - Cucumber and Black Pepper

I recently moved, and am lacking a kitchen, well I had to do something. It took me a while, but my inner alcoholic/gin whore took over, best part is it's fairly easy. I made most of it at my desk What I've made today is essentially a Tom Collins made a bit differently. Cucumber juice instead of lemon juice and some other substitutions. The drink is simple:

1 part simple syrup (which I made not so simple)
1 part juice
1 part dry gin
club soda

For the syrup, I was shocked to discover that I didn't have any sugar, but what I did have was honey. I dissolved equal parts honey and water. To the solution I added six whole peppercorns for flavor. I nuked the solution in the microwave for five minutes, and let the syrup cool to room temperature. In the meantime I started with my juice.

I chopped my cuke as finely as possible, if I had a blender I would have used it. Then I simply squeezed the pulp through a cheese cloth into a glass.

The photo is the syrup and the cucumber juice in the glass before the rest is added. The color is from the honey, not the wooden desk.

Then add one shot.

Top off with:

And finally garnish with a nice slice of cucumber. I drank it with some lovely bread and butter pickles.

It's a nice refreshing summery drink with a great peppery aftertaste, but I can't help thinking that it needs more cucumber juice to cut the power of the gin. Give it a shot, I'll still take my regular Gin and Tonic first though, although with the improvements I mentioned I might change my mind. Cheers

Monday, July 26, 2010

Bacon Time

Recently I set out on the quest to make Bacon. However because my grill was stolen a few weeks ago, I created Pancetta instead. It seems like everyone and their mother is making Pancetta these days. For those who are unaware, Pancetta is very much like bacon, only it is dried instead of smoked.

Started with two lbs of raw skinless porkbelly. (Sorry, due to technical difficulties, I had problems with the first couple of pictures)

A mixture of :
Bay Leaf
Red Pepper
1lb of Kosher Salt
1 cup of sugar
10 Teaspoons of Pink Salt.

For those of you who don't know, Pink salt is a special blend of regular salt, and Sodium Nitrite.

This mixture was spread all over the pork bellies, and placed in a zip lock bag in the refridgerator for a week.

After a week a huge amount of liquid was left in the bag. I just disposed of it, and rinsed the meat.

Then I cut a hole in each piece and let it dry for another week. It was hot out, and the optimum temperature is around 70 degrees with 50% humidity. The air conditioner had to run overtime to keep that up.

The meat was all crusty and didn't look appetizing at all. However the first cut revealed a thing of beauty.

Now the meat is still raw, so it still needs to be cooked. But holy cow is it delicious, very salty. Carbonara is in the future.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

14JUL2010- Breakfast sausage

Meat in tube form is one of the great joys in life -Anthony Bourdain

Damn, this was delicious, but a huge pain in the ass. I'm already putting this under the not quite worth the effort catagory.

I started with a 4 lb chunk of Boston Butt. Which isn't actually porky pig's ass, but his shoulder.

In order for sausage to fit inside the tube it needs to be ground, and in order to be ground it needs to be cut into chunks.
Sausage needs a source of fat, and normally fatback is used. I couldn't find fatback, so I used Bacon and cut down on the salt that I added later. This is the chunked pork with 1lb of bacon also chunked.

I fed it through this beast. It took at least an hour

Finally it was all ground. If I do it again, I might use a food processor. To the ground meat I added about (I eyeballed it):
2 TBS Fresh Sage
1 TBS Fresh Thyme
1Tsp Cayenne Pepper
1TBS Red Pepper Flakes
2 TBS Brown Sugar
Ground Pepper
About 1/2 Tsp Kosher Salt.

I did the same thing as Alton Brown did. The good part begins about halfway through.

The final results

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

13JUL2010-Lamb Tenderloin with Madeira sauce

Unfortunely my camera is full, or else I would have taken pictures of this. It was pretty simple:

I made a rub out of:

2 TBS Olive Oil
1 Tsp Cumin
2 cloves of minced garlic.

I rubbed this all over my lamb tenderloins and gave them a quick sear.

The tenderloins went into a baking dish. I preheated the oven to 350.

In the meantime I deglazed my pan with a cup of madeira wine and some shallots. After about five minutes of reduction I poured it over the lamb. In the oven for 10 minutes.

I wish I had some pictures to show off how well it came out. From now on I will take pictures.