Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Chicken & Winter Squash Stew

I have made this with store bought British style curry powder and with a blend of north African spices. This time I tried Punjabi garam masala from 660 Curries. It worked great. Something about the combination of chicken, squash and warming spices really works. Savory! I used a butternut squash but any winter squash would work. I used fire roasted tomatoes which are good but any canned tomato would work (and probably be cheaper). And finally, you could really use water instead of the stock. I made a quick stock with the skin and bones of the thighs and a couple of bay leaves, peppercorns and garlic cloves, smashed.

I used this recipe when experimenting with cooking with a Jack-o-Lantern pumpkin. Complete failure. Jack-o-Lantern pumpkin is flavorless and stringy.


8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into 1 - 1 1/2 inch chunks
1 1/2 tablespoons garam masala
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
salt and pepper
1 butternut squash
1 tablespoon oil
1 onion, chopped
4 carrots, cleaned & sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 14 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes (with their juice)
1 quart chicken stock
Steamed rice for serving


Combine the chicken, garama masala, turmeric, a big pinch of salt and pepper to taste in a bowl. Place in the refrigerator while it waits for its turn in the pot and absorbs those flavors.

Peel the squash with a vegetable peeler, halve, remove seeds and chop into 1 1/2 inch cubes. Heat vegetable oil over high heat in a large soup pot. Add onions and carrots and saute until beginning to soften. Normally I would have started with the chicken, removed it and sauteed the aromatics but I was letting it absorb that garam masala flavor in the fridge. Add chicken and continue cooking, stirring periodically, until the chicken begins to brown on all sides.

Add the tomatoes with their juice and stock to cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until chicken is about tender (I believe I went about a half an hour). Add the squash chunks and enough remaining stock to cover. Taste the broth for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper if necessary.

Increase heat and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer partially covered until the squash is tender. Taste (again) for seasoning and add salt and/or pepper if necessary. Serve with steamed rice. Yum!


Monday, January 28, 2013

Chorizo & Shredded Potatoes

Inspired by several Rick Bayless dishes, this simple preparation is far greater than the sum of its parts. The mild sweetness of the potatoes tames the heat and spice of the Mexican style chorizo. It's a tasty side dish  with just about anything Mexican or can be served with warm flour tortillas for wrapping. Mexican chorizo is an uncooked ground sausage which must be removed from its casing and cooked before eating. I used Cacique pork chorizo here. You can peel the potatoes for a less intrusive potato flavor.


1 10 oz. package Mexican chorizo
3 or 4 red skinned potatoes


Using a box grater, shred the potatoes onto a clean kitchen towel. Wrap the towel around the potatoes and squeeze as much of the water out of them as you can.

Shredded Potatoes in Towel Waiting for Their Turn in the Pan.

Meanwhile, cook the chorizo in a skillet over medium-high heat, periodically breaking up the sausage with your favorite appropriate implement, until cooked. Mine usually takes about 8 minutes.

Add the potatoes to the skillet.

Cook, flipping contents over every few minutes, until potatoes are done to your liking. I go about fifteen minutes.



Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Turnip Greens with Ham Hocks

Greens with Sides of Ribs and Mac and Cheese
One of Michael Pollan's Food Rules is to "drink the juice". The juice is the cooking liquid from the greens. Full of vitamins they say but definitely full of flavor. This works with pretty much any green you want to long-cook. The turnip greens bag used to have a recipe similar to this. Now they're evidently focused on a light, fresh, healthy marketing strategy. The recipes on the currently bag are short sautes.

What you do is put your ham hocks (I had 2) and 2 quarts of water in a soup pot. Bring to a boil over high high heat. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for as long as it takes for the hocks to get tender and flavor the water. Add the greens. I had 2 Cut 'n Clean bags. Simmer for 1 hour. Drain juice from greens and enjoy separately or together. The ham hocks can be pick for meat which can then be tossed in with the greens or simply munched on.

So, to sum up:

Simmer ham hocks and water covered for at least 1 1/2 hours. Add greens and simmer covered for another hour. Yum!


Monday, January 21, 2013

Cochinita (Puerco) Pibil

Rick Bayless' recipe from Mexican Everyday calls for 1/2 a package of achiote seasoning. I had ground achiote so I had to source a recipe for an adobo online. I found this one that worked great. The blogger states that he leaves out the banana leaves now out of laziness. After trying this dish I would have to say that a non-banana leaf version would be lacking a special herbal note that they impart during the long cooking. This was truly delicious. I couldn't get the earthy perfume of the achiote and banana leaves out of my head for the rest of the day.

Ingredients (as cooked):

6 serrano peppers, chopped
1 head garlic, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons ground achiote
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup vinegar
4 tablespoons kosher salt
juice of 5 limes
2 2 foot sections banana leaves
5 pound pork shoulder
1 large white onion sliced


Buzz the serranos and garlic in a food processor until minced. Add the spices, juices, vinegar and salt and process to combine. 

Line a slow cooker with banana leaves placed perpendicular to each other. Place the pork roast on top.

Pour adobo over the pork.

Sprinkle on the onion slices.

Fold banana leaves over the pork, cover and cook on low for 10 hours or high for 6 hours or until the pork is falling-apart done.

Remove pork from cooker to a serving plate. De-fat the juice and reduce in a skillet over high heat until it reaches the thickness/saltiness you like. My sauce was on the salty side so I pretty much served it as is. Serve the pork and sauce over steamed white rice.



Friday, January 18, 2013

2013 Work Potluck Chili

The thing about our work potluck chili competition is that your entry must be both lowest common denominator and creative and delicious plus have a fun name to have a chance at winning the $50. Using red onion adds sweetness so you don't need some kind of sweet component like raisins or honey or whatever to cut the bitterness of the chili powder. The annatto oil adds a certain "I don't know what" (as the French say) and a richer red color.

Millionaire's Choice Award Winning Chili:

2 tablespoons annatto oil
4 pounds chuck steak
2 red onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bottle beer, dark and not hoppy
1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes with their juice
2 tablespoons to 1/2 cup of your favorite chili powder
1/2 teaspoon or more cayenne


Prepare grill for grilling. Season steak with salt and set aside until coals are ready. Grill steaks until charred on both sides. Doneness is not key because you will be long-cooking the meat anyway. The idea is to get some smoky grilled flavor in there. Remove from grill and cut into good chili-sized chunks. Place chunks in a bowl to catch any delicious meat juices that might escape.

Meat Hanging Out While Waiting
Heat the annatto oil over medium-high heat.

Add the onions and saute until soft. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly for a bout 30 seconds.

Add the beer and the tomatoes and their juice, crushing the tomatoes with your hand as you add them. Add the steak chunks and accumulated juices. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until the meat is tender but not completely falling apart. Taste for heat and seasoning and adjust with cayenne and salt accordingly.



edit: I placed

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Serbian Stuffed Grilled Chicken Thighs

I just saw this on Steven Raichlen's Primal Grill on an episode dedicated to European grilling techniques. Mr. Raichlen used the side of a cleaver to flatten the thighs for stuffing. I use a big rubber mallet. I cooked it from memory so I left out the garlic salt.

Ingredients (as cooked, from memory, by me):

3 slices bacon, fried and crumbled
reserved bacon fat from the frying
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs pounded to about 1/4" thickness
yellow mustard
about 1/2 cup diced ham
about 1/2 cup diced cheddar
salt and pepper


Prepare grill for grilling. Lay chicken thigh flat. Spread thigh with mustard and sprinkle with 1/4 of the bacon, ham and cheddar. fold thigh over (width-wise) and secure with a couple of toothpicks or, like me, broken off bamboo skewers. I don't soak the skewers in water as they burn whether or not I soak them. Brush chicken bundles with bacon fat and season with salt and pepper.

Bundles Waiting to be Grilled
 Grill chicken bundles over high heat until done, turning once. Mine took about 5 minutes a side.

Remove from grill and serve. Yum!


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Leftover Fry-Up

Here is what happened to 3 leftover baked potatoes and some leftover cochinita pibil last night.


1 tablespoon oil
3 baked potatoes, diced
11/2 cups cochinita pibil, shredded and browned
4 eggs, cracked into a small bowl
1/4 cup shredded cheddar


Heat oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add potato chunks and cook, stirring periodically until browned. Add meat and cook until heated through. Make a well in the center of the potatoes and meat, add a dollop of butter. When the butter is melted, add the eggs to the well all at once. Cover and cook until the eggs are done to your liking.

Slide the contents of the pan onto a serving plate and sprinkle with cheese. Yum!


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Basic Weeknight Curry

This is my simple weeknight curry. This would work with any simmerable meat: chicken thighs or legs, pork sirloin chops, chunks of beef chuck. I deglazed with water but it could have been a non-hoppy beer, broth or wine. Here's what I had on hand:


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 chicken thighs
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic minced
2 tablespoons garam masala
1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes


Brown the Meat in 1 or 2 Tablespoons Oil on Medium-High
Set Meat Aside & Brown Onions
Add Garlic and 2 Tablespoons Garam Masala, Stir for a Minute
Deglaze with Water, add Can of Tomatoes & a Big Pinch of Salt
Reduce heat, cover and simmer until meat is cooked. Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary. Serve over rice. Yum!


Monday, January 14, 2013

Chickpeas with Lime Juice

This is an adaptation of a chickpea curry from 660 Curries. This is, once again, my go-to for Indian food. Not one recipe has failed me and they are very adaptable to what you have in the kitchen at the time. I might add that there are 660 of them. This one originally called for mango powder. I was out of mango powder and substituted lime juice.

Ingredients (as cooked by me):

2 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, 1 t. ground & 1 t. whole
2 cardamom pods (mine were green)
2 small cinnamon sticks
1 can diced tomatoes with juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, ground
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 cans chickpeas, drained
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro


Heat oil over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan. Add the whole cumin seeds, cardamom and cinnamon sticks and cook until aromatic. The book says 15 seconds but it took mine a little longer.

Add tomatoes, lime juice, coriander, salt, cayenne, turmeric and the ground cumin seeds. Reduce heat to medium, partially cover and simmer until oil starts to collect at the edges. Add the chickpeas and cilantro. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until flavors come together.

I serve this with steamed rice. It makes a great no-meat meal on its own or a side dish for an Indian style feast. Enjoy!


Friday, January 11, 2013

Cheater Cuban Sandwich

Should Have Snapped a Pic Before Digging in
I have been using Alton Brown's Recipe for Cuban sandwiches substituting his grilled cheese method of using 2 screaming hot cast iron pans instead of the 500° fireplace bricks. Although this works great, last night I had neither the stuff nor the time for this method. I did have (this would really work with any combination of 1 each thinly sliced pork product, poultry product and cheese product):


Hamburger Buns
Thinly sliced (homemade!) Canadian bacon
Thinly sliced roast chicken breast
Havarti cheese slices
Common yellow prepared mustard

And an aluminum, non-stick stove-top griddle.


I applied the mustard to the inside of the top half of each bun, layered the meats and cheese and added the bottom half of the bun. I buttered the top and bottom of the assembled sandwich with a silicone BBQ brush and toasted them, top and bottom, over medium-high heat on the griddle. This was surprisingly convincing and totally delicious!


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Chili Chocolate Cheesecake

Work Potluck Photo of Last Slice
This recipe is based on Oreo cheese cake and chocolate cake cookies. It won first place in my work potluck creative chocolate dish competition (this is not an officially sanctioned competition).

1 box chocolate cake mix
1/4c oil
3 eggs
1t hot pepper flakes
1/2 package Oreo Cookies
1/2 stick butter melted
2 8oz packages cream cheese
1/2c sugar
1/2t vanilla
Cayenne pepper
Confectioner’s sugar
Cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine cake mix, oil, pepper flakes and 1 egg. Drop heaping tablespoons of mix on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350°F for 9-12 minutes. Allow to cool and break up to use as mix-ins. Crush Oreo cookies, combine with butter and press into the bottom of a 9" springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven and allow to cool. Lower oven to 325°F. Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs; mix just until blended. Mix in chocolate cookie mix-ins. (you won't need all of the cookies, 4 or 5 should do) Pour into crust. Bake 40 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool. Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight. Before serving, sprinkle with cayenne pepper, confectioner's sugar and cocoa powder.