Thursday, December 30, 2010

Napa Cabbage Curry and its Subsequent use as a Potato Topping

Having recently received for Christmas the fabulous Keys to Good Cooking: A Guide to Making the Best of Foods and Recipes by one of my faves, Harold McGee, wherein he describes the pleasurable process of sniffing your pantry items periodically to check for freshness and be reminded of and inspired by their aromas, I did just that. The result being a Napa cabbage sautee with freshly toasted Indian spices and followed by a quick simmer in TexMex style tomatoes with chilies.

Harold McGee wrote the scholarly tome, On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. It is chock full of valuable info and I have read through it a couple of times slowly filling in the gaps in my food knowledge. In "Keys" he digests this information into a very practical and inspiring piece for everyday home cooks like myself.

Napa Cabbage Curry

1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon panch puran (Indian 5 spice)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 jalapeños roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic skinned (or de-skinned)

1 tablespoon oil or fat (I used olive oil but would have used ghee if I had some made)
2 onions halved and sliced lengthwise

1 head Napa cabbage roughly chopped
White wine (if needed)
1 can TexMex style tomatoes with chilies (like Ro-Tel)

First off let me say that I am not an accomplished Indian food cook. I have a couple of books and really enjoy improvising with spices. If I were a real Indian food cook I would have used ghee for sure. Also I would have started my sautee with ginger, garlic and onions. I also would have probably done a lot of other things I don't even know I didn't do. That being said, this came out really satisfying for what is basically a pot of cabbage.

Toast coriander and panch puran (or whatever whole spices you enjoy and have on hand) in a heavy pan over medium heat shaking often until toasty and aromatic but not burnt.

Transfer to a large mortar and beat to a powder. Add the jalapeños, garlic and turmeric and beat until the veggies begin to break down.

What you will end up with is a sort of ugly grey green paste.

Heat oil or fat over high heat in a large pot. Cook onions, stirring regularly until they begin to brown.

Add the paste from the mortar and cook, stirring constantly, for maybe a minute.

Add the cabbage and season with salt. At this point it might be necessary to add a little liquid (like white wine) if things start to get dry and burny on the bottom but soon the cabbage will exude liquid as well. Sautee cabbage, stirring, often until cooked to your taste.

Reduce heat to medium low and add tomatoes. Simmer for a few minutes to allow flavors to meld.

As is happens, the fates conspired to create a situation where I had baked some potatoes and was frying some eggs for my wife, a perfect storm if you will. The result was;

Baked potatoes topped with Napa cabbage curry and fried eggs. Truly delicious, truly.

Happy New Year!


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Chicken Method

First of all, I was very excited to see that I was commented by none other than the Monte of Monte's Ham fame and also of this blog. Follow it won't you? I am honored as well as pleased that it wasn't a cease and desist warning for repurposing his recipe. And thanks again for the years of delicious ham.

Today I would like to share a chicken method from Timing Is Everything: The Complete Timing Guide to Cooking. I've mentioned this book before and though I use a lot of different books for reference and recipes and inspiration, somewhere along the line I end up cracking this one. Cheffy types are always saying "until done". I find it nice to have some idea how long that might be. This book gives you that information plus storage methods and times. Again, it is my kitchen bible along with a couple of others that I will mention in upcoming posts.

So I guess it's the my kitchen Old Testament and the others are the Kitchen New Testament, Apocrypha and  Book of Mormon. (Notice I spared you Amazon Affiliate links on those titles)

The Chicken Method

The method is really for chicken pieces and works extremely well with thighs. However this last time I attempted it with splayed Cornish hens.

I started by cutting the backbone out of the birds and pressing them flat against the board. I seasoned both sides liberally with salt and pepper.

These are the steps;

Heat pan over high heat. Add a little fat or oil if necessary to get things started (it has not been necessary with thighs) . Place the chicken (or pieces) skin side down in the pan.

Cook for 10 minutes. Flip chicken over and cook on other side for 10 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium. Flip chicken again and cook for 5 minutes. Repeat this step 3 more times and begin checking for doneness.

With the hens I gave them a little rest covered at the back of the stove after they hit about 160 degrees F in the breast.

The pan I used to cover the pan during resting vibed like a robot bug, no?

The skin comes out exceptionally crispy, almost like chicharrones. If you use thighs there is less concern about overcooking and lots of fatty skin to render.

If you use schmaltz as your cooking fat, thighs will definitely produce some with this method.

I have one of these uneaten legs with me today for lunch!


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cranberry Glazed Ham

Our Christmas dinner this year was basically this ham and mashed potatoes. The method is straight up lifted from this recipe from Saveur #18, Monte's Ham. I have tried it using marmalade and succeeded very well with raspberry jam. This year my wife, Yvonne, suggested I start with cranberry sauce made with orange juice in place of the jam. This was easily the best Christmas ham ever.

1 smoked ham (the cheapest one on sale works great for this application)
1 1/2 - 2 cups cranberry sauce
1 cup Dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
whole cloves

Here it is using the magic of color photographs.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Place ham meat side down in roasting pan and score with a sharp knife. Roast for 2 hours.

Meanwhile add cranberry sauce, mustard and sugar in a bowl and stir until combined.

Remove ham from oven and increase oven temp. to 350 degrees F. Stud ham with cloves. I used to try to stick them into the center of each diamond created by the scoring but it is much easier and quicker to insert them at the intersections of the diamonds. Brush with glaze and return to oven.

Cook ham for an additional 1 1/2 hours brushing with glaze at least 3 times.

Let rest 30 minutes before carving. Great served hot or at room temperature.

In a word, yum.

Thanks Monte!


Monday, December 27, 2010

Cauliflower-Carrot Colcannon

Happy post-Christmas Monday!

Yesterday looking for something different to do that was low calorie and filling I decided to try that old Atkins standby; mashed cauliflower. I had some carrots and cabbage in the fridge as well so I thought, "hey!", why not try a cauliflower-carrot colcannon. Colcannon is one of the ways that the Irish would dress up potatoes if they could afford or find some greenery. It is basically mashed potatoes with cabbage or kale and is delightful.

2 small heads cauliflower broken into florets
5 carrots cut into chunks
Salt & Pepper 
1/2 head cabbage sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic minced

My attempt started with chunking up and seasoning the cauliflower and carrots in preparation for steaming.

I got steaming times from Timing Is Everything: The Complete Timing Guide to Cooking (which is my kitchen bible and the answer was 9 minutes or so) which would have been perfect except that the result was al dente and I needed mashable. I continued steaming for another 10 minutes and decided I was good to go.

Next time I would shoot for 30 minutes as my resulting mash was more like rice than mashed potatoes.

The other half of this story is the cabbage which I sauteed.

Here you see both partners in colcannon preparing for the merger;

I tossed a couple of minced cloves of garlic at the end of the cabbage sautee to retain some of that hot fresh garlic thing.

Here is the end result;

Not gonna win any beauty contests but it really was tasty and satisfying. I kept thinking it would make a great egg roll/spring roll/won ton stuffing or maybe a replacement for rice under a stir-fry. More on that later I think.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Reusing Broth

Short pre-Christmas post here. I made some soup starting with a nice mirepoix meets duxelle and laced with tomato bouillon for even more umami.

The meat of the soup so to speak was green beans, spinach and tomatoes.

As I began consuming i was conscious of all the sodium in that broth. So I thought to myself, why not strain out the chunks and eat them as a vegetable. Well then I will have some delicious broth to start another soup!

I foresee a new fad outgrowing from this new paradigm; Amish friendship soup.

Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.5

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Turkey Casserole

A casserole (from the french for "saucepan") is an excellent way to stretch leftover protein and is one of the quintessential comfort foods.

This one is based on a method for macaroni and cheese; bechamel (white) sauce, cheese (making it into a mornay sauce), pasta, more cheese, bread crumbs, bake.

As simple as this is (probably because of it) this one gets rave reviews. It could easily be embellished with the addition of your favorite spices and/or herbs.


4 tablespoons fat (butter works great)
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
Salt & Pepper
2 cups grated cheese, divided
leftover turkey meat, shredded
1/2 to 1 pound pasta, cooked per the package directions (don't forget the salt) and drained
1/2 cup bread crumbs

Heat butter over medium heat until melted. Whisk in flour and cook, stirring constantly with whisk for a minute or more. Pour in milk all at once while whisking and continue to whisk until it comes to a boil. At this point your bechamel is as thick as it will get.

Season with salt and pepper to taste, remove from heat and add 1 cup of the cheese. Stir until smooth. Now you have your mornay sauce.

In a large bowl fold together pasta, turkey meat and sauce. If it seems dry, stir in milk a little at a time to thin. Turn into a casserole pan.

Sprinkle over remaining cheese and bread crumbs.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until cheese and bread crumbs are golden, brown and delicious.

Sometimes I begin the bechamel with a saute of chopped onions and  garlic. Sometimes I make it without the meat and call it mac 'n' cheese. Turkey works great but cooked chicken, salmon, tuna, hamburger meat or maybe leftover ham or crispy bacon would all be great protein choices.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Yellow Hots

Yellow Hots

I first ran across this method at  El Guero Canelo, a Tucson taco stand that grew Winchester Mystery House-like into a popular (and delicious) multi-restaurant chain.

Roasted yellow hots, jalapenos and cebollitas (green, Mexican or knob onions) are served as an optional accompaniment to the obligatory Sonoran dog.

The recipe is pretty easy to infer from the final product. Every time I grill I do a bag of these. The flavor is sort of one dimensional and hot before grilling. Afterword, they are roasty, hot, sweet and perfect alongside any grilled meat.

15 or so yellow hot peppers
1 tablespoon or so oil

Combine in a bowl the peppers, oil and salt to taste,  toss to coat the peppers, grill over hot coals turning frequently until charred to your taste.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Electric Kool-aid Pickle Test

You might recall that in a previous post I gave directions for Koolickles from Alton Brown's Feasting on Asphalt: The River Run. On Wednesday night we decided we had waited long enough and gave them a try.

Note the beautiful red glow under the green. The pickles had shrunk and wrinkled a bit due to osmosis I imagine. Sliced you can see that the Kool-aid hasn't seeped all the way to the core of the pickle rendering it as awe inspiring as an Arizona sunset.

The flavor was of a bread and butter pickle crossed with a cherry Jolly Rancher. In a word, tasty!

Possible uses;

Garnish for grenadine laced or based cocktail
Hot dog relish for kids
On a stick on a hot summer's day
Topping for vanilla ice cream


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cranberry Sauce (Part I of Cranberry Glazed Ham)

My lovely wife Yvonne suggested that since we are doing ham this year, why not make the glaze from orange-cranberry sauce instead of the usual raspberry jam.

Here is the recipe for the first part, the cranberry sauce.

1 cup sugar
1 cup orange juice
12oz. bag fresh cranberries

In a small to medium sauce pan put; sugar,

orange juice,

and cranberries.

Bring to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer until all of the berries have popped and the sauce is starting to thicken.

Pour into a heatproof bowl and allow to cool.

This is sort of obvious but this sauce is great as a Thanksgiving side dish, as a relish on a leftover turkey sandwich or, as we will find out on Christmas, a delicious ham glaze when combined with Dijon mustard and brown sugar.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cheater Turkey Mole

I first saw this recipe on Sara Moulton's old show on Food Network. After what seemed like more Googling than usual I found it on the salesy aggregate site I link to them here out of respect for having the recipe but I diss them for having no less than seven ads and a pop-under on the recipe page.

The premise is a rather convincing mole replacing unlikely middle America pantry staples with more likely ones.

It is also quicker and easier. The chili pods are replaced by chili powder. The chocolate is replaced by cocoa powder. The pepitas are replaced by peanut butter.

I wish I had a picture that didn't look like an abattoir

Cheater Turkey Mole

3 cups onion roughly chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon aniseed
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons peanut butter
3 cups chicken broth (or as needed)
1 16oz. can fire roasted tomatoes
2 tablespoons raisins
3 cloves garlic, minced or put through a press
2 pounds dark turkey parts
Cooked rice as an accompaniment
1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Heat oil in soup pot over medium high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown.

Meanwhile, beat the coriander seeds and anise into a powder in your giant Thai mortar.

I wish I had a good picture of my giant Thai mortar

Reduce heat to medium. Add coriander, anise, chili powder, sugar, cinnamon and cloves to the pot and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute.

Stir in cocoa powder, peanut butter, 2 cups of the broth, tomatoes, raisins, garlic and salt to taste. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium low and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.

While the sauce is cooking, season the turkey parts with salt. Heat a tablespoon or so of oil in a large skillet. Add turkey parts and brown on all sides to your favorite level of brown-ness.

Buzz the sauce with a stick blender. I recommend using Alton Brown's Frisbee brand flying disc trick (cut a slot to and hole in the center of the disc and use it as a shield over the food around the blender) if you don't want your kitchen to look like a crime scene.

No, we found the body like this sir

Add the turkey parts and a little of the cooking fat to the pot and simmer for 45 minutes or until the turkey done.

Serve over rice garnished with the sesame seeds.

This recipe is totally convincing and really really delicious.



I replaced the original turkey wings with the dark turkey parts from an unused thanksgiving turkey I had frozen. I also replaced the broiling of the parts with browning as I was using the oven to roast the breast for sandwiches. I also reduced a little of the fat at the beginning but then added some turkey fat at the end from the browning of the parts. I switched to fire roasted tomatoes as I use them for everything and recommend that you do as well.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Rigatoni with Sausage and Napa Cabbage

I lifted this recipe from a sidebar in Saveur. I tried to link to the recipe on their site but it doesn't appear to be there. A lot of other great recipes are though, seriously.

I believe the original recipe called for penne (pens) and really any chunky (not thin or long) pasta would work great but I really like rigatoni (big and striped).

Also the original recipe called for the napa cabbage to be sixthed, boiled, squeezed dry and chopped. I much prefer to sautee the chopped cabbage.

And finally, the original recipe prohibits the use of regular cabbage. I have tried it with regular green cabbage and though it is different and more cabbagey and chunkier, it really isn't bad.

Rigatoni with Sausage and Napa Cabbage

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Head Napa Cabbage roughly chopped
1 Pound or so Italian Sausage removed from casings
3 or so Cloves Garlic, crushed
1 Pinch Crushed Red Pepper
1 Jar Marinara Sauce (or the equivalent amount of homemade)
1 Cup or more Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano, freshly grated

Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add cabbage and season with salt. Sautee until cooked through and beginning to brown.

Meanwhile, heat skillet over medium high heat. Add sausage, garlic and red pepper. Cook, stirring and breaking up sausage with a wooden spoon until no longer pink (about 10 minutes). If you are concerned about a burnt garlic flavor, you should add it for just the last 30 seconds of cooking.

Reduce heat to medium. Add marinara sauce and cabbage to the sausage mixture and continue cooking for about 15 minutes or so to allow flavors to meld.

Cook rigatoni per the package directions.

Drain pasta and return to pot. Add enough of the sausage cabbage mixture to moisten and turn out into a bowl. Pour the rest of the sausage cabbage mixture on top of the pasta and top liberally with grated cheese.

Words cannot describe how delicious this is. Something in the napa cabbage; a tang? a bite? makes this dish really special.


Monday, December 13, 2010

DIY Coffee Maker

I noticed the other day when I had forgotten my french press at work, that there is a dearth of info about making coffee. The best suggestion seemed to be cowboy coffee; boil the grounds in a pan until strong and filter it with your teeth as you drink.

I was trying to come up with a system using stuff around the house that resulted in a ground free finished product.

My first attempt was to pour boiling water over the grounds in a big Pyrex measuring cup, let stand 5 minutes, pour through a paper towel clipped into a sieve.

The resulting coffee tasted more like paper towel than coffee. Who would have thought that the taste of paper could overwhelm my coffee? I brew it strong.

My next attempt and my current weekend coffee maker replaced the paper towel with a scrap of old t-shirt. The finished product is delicious and grit free and has the added benefit of soaking out some of the oils that the french press leaves in.

Below is my apparatus in action (coincidentally this is a caption I recently used in my NSFW blog).

Pan for steeping grounds and filter apparatus.

Filter setup up close.

Voila! Coffee!


Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Beer Note and All Purpose Marinade

 Traquair House Ale

From my tasting notes;

From Scotland
Nutty malt, deep, strong
ABV 7.2%
Reddish brown in color
Malty aroma and unctuous mouthfeel
Malty sweet nutty flavor

I gave this beer 4 stars out of 5 (5 being reserved for truly spectacular beers). It was extremely tasty. $6.99 a bottle at Total Wine.

All Purpose Marinade

Soy Sauce
Key Limes (or persian limes if key limes are not available)
Olive Oil

Put the meat in a zipper freezer bag.

Pour in the amount of soy sauce that you would if you were going to pour it over the meat laid out flat, end to end.

Squeeze in the juice of the key limes, about 1 per piece of meat. Toss in the skins too.

Drizzle in the olive oil, about the amount you would drizzle over the meat laid out flat end to end.

Mince or press garlic into freezer bag. About 1 or so clove per piece of meat.

Grind in pepper, approximately the amount you would use to season the meat if it was laid out flat end to end.

I imagine you could also combine equal amounts of oil, soy and lime juice and season to taste with the garlic and pepper but that would not satisfy what is my apparent OCD. Did I mention touch each piece of meat three times between steps?

Friends ask about this marinade and also share theirs. I use it on steak, most often skirt but also fish, chicken and pork, the difference being the time I allow it to marinate. Fish I do for 1/2 hour, chicken 1/2 hour to an hour, pork chops an hour or so and beef as long as overnight. If I am forced into a short marinating time on the beef I will do it up to an hour at room temperature directly before grilling.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Louisiana Style Green Beans 'n' Summer Squash

Lately I have been starting my vegetable sautees with the trinity of Cajun cooking. I have heard the trinity stated as celery, bell pepper and onion (by Emeril and my buddy Jeff who's Cajun descended Dad starts his dishes with that combination). I have also read in John Thorne's Serious Pig (I highly recommend all of his books) that the trinity is onions, green onions and bell peppers. What I have done is combine both using what I will call the quadrillegy of all 4 ingredients.

Louisiana Style Green Beans 'n' Summer Squash

Green Beans topped and tailed
1 T Oil or Butter
1 Bell Pepper cut into large dice
1 Onion cut into large dice
1 Bunch Green Onions sliced thinly
1/2 Cup Celery sliced thinly
2 Cloves Garlic minced
3 Medium Small Zucchinis sliced 1/2" thick
Salt & Pepper

Bring a large amount of salted water to a boil over high heat in a large soup pot. Add the green beans and return to a boil. Cook for 3 - 8 minutes depending on how fresh your beans are and how tender you like them. I did 5 minutes.

Drain beans and run cold water over them to stop cooking.

Add oil or butter (I used olive oil) to large pot over high heat. When oil is shimmering or when the butter has foamed up but is not yet brown, add the bell pepper, onion, green onion, celery and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. (And Cajun seasoning if you have it) Stir to coat with oil and cook stirring frequently until the vegetable begin to brown.

Ignore the habanero. I have been experimenting with using whole habaneros, pierced or
unpierced, with a mind to get some habanero fruitiness without so much heat. More on this later.

Add the zucchini to the pot, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally,  until tender. The squash should exude enough liquid to deglaze the pot. If not, add enough water, broth, wine, beer to keep the stuff at the bottom of the pot from being burnt.

Add the beans and cook until heated through.

Being that I did not have Cajun seasoning in the house, (or BAM! as it is sometimes cringeingly called) I added some chipotle taco sauce when I added the beans. A very inauthentic cheat with delicious results.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hashed Turnips

This is my attempt at Saveur's Hashed Turnip recipe. I replaced their cream with beer (because I didn't have cream and if I did, the cream would add more than twice the calories of the beer). I also used leftover chicken adobo (adobo marinade recipe from Rick Bayless' Mexican Everyday) instead of the pork chop. I omitted the parsley as I didn't have any on hand.

Hashed Turnips

3 1/2 lb. Turnips peeled and cut into large dice
1 T Oil
1 Leftover Adobo Chicken Breast (or of course a fresh chicken breast or a pork chop) cut into large dice
Salt & Pepper
1 Onion roughly chopped
4 Cloves Garlic finely chopped
2 Bay Leaves
1/2 t Dried Thyme
2 t Butter
1/2 - 1 C Beer

Put turnips in a bowl with water to cover and set aside.

Heat oil in skillet over medium high heat. Season meat (if necessary) and add to skillet. Cook stirring occasionally until browned.

Add onions and continue to cook, stirring occasionallym until they begin to brown.

Drain turnips and pat dry (Saveur suggests paper towels but I would be prone to use a clean dish towel for this kind of task) Add turnips, garlic, bay leaves, thyme and butter to the skillet and continue to cook, stirring occasionally and scraping bottom of pan with a wooden spoon until turnips soften and begin to brown.

Stir in beer.

I used a not very hoppy lager as I was concerned about bitterness with the hops on top of the adobo and long browning time. Reduce  heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally until turnips can be mashed with a fork, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Hashed Turnips

My verdict? Even with the bland beer, there was still too much dept of flavor. I can really tell where the cream would work well with this recipe to round out the flavors. Even so, it was an excellent foil for the other foods on the plate and was a fun recipe to prepare.