Friday, June 29, 2007

Pork with Pepper Vinegar Gravy, Corn Pudding

I made a weird accident that turned out really good, so I'm documenting it here for future reference. (I was going to cook this in the crockpot, like the italian pepperoncini beef recipes I keep seeing, but someone turned the crockpot on "warm" instead of "high" with dinner only a couple hours away. So I dumped it out of the crockpot and roasted it in the oven, on a bed of sliced onions, a la Mark Bitttman's standard recipe, using the pepperoncini juice to baste with. THEN I had a huge pan of pepperoncini juice, yummy onions, and delicious pork drippings that I didn't want to waste. So I browned some flour, dry, (there was already plenty of fat in the witches' brew in the roasting pan, so I didn't want to make a traditional roux with MORE fat) and whisked the liquid and onions in with it, and simmered for a couple of minutes. Then I immersion blendered that mug, and it was good. Spicy, vinegary, and unexpected.

Made a new-to-me corn pudding recipe from Cook's Country along with, and green beans. The corn pudding was rich, but really good. Here's the recipe if you want it.

Savory Corn Pudding (Adapted from Cook's Country)

6 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (I used frozen, of course fresh would be better)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (next time I would use half and half, and a bit less of it)
6 large eggs , lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
4 chopped fresh scallions, white and green

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2-quart casserole dish. Bring 2 quarts water to boil in large saucepan for corn.

Add 1 tablespoon salt and corn to boiling water and cook for 1 minute. Drain in colander and dry with paper towels. Pulse 4 cups corn in food processor until rough puree forms, about ten 1-second pulses. Transfer to large bowl and stir in remaining whole corn, 1 teaspoon salt, cream, eggs, cheese, sugar, cayenne, and basil until combined.

Pour corn mixture into casserole and transfer dish to roasting pan. Pour boiling water from kettle (I just used hot tap water, and it was fine) into some sort of bain-marie holder, until water is halfway up sides of casserole dish. Bake until pudding is set and browning slightly on top, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove casserole from water bath, transfer to wire rack, and let set for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Zuni Roast Chicken and Bread Salad

This recipe is a pain in the ass, but it's good. The bread salad is SERIOUSLY good. (I started too late to dry-brine the chicken as long as the instructions...well, instruct - so the chicken was just a normal amount of good.) But the directions are really, really hard to follow and verbose - I think I'll paraphrase it myself for next time I make it (and there will be a next time,) because it was really hard to follow. We did take pictures, but it will take a couple of days to get the pictures here, I think - they're on the fancy camera, which has to be downloaded to my husband's computer, and you can imagine how high priority THAT is.

Also, yummy sangria - we bought a box of wine (! yes! Box! And it's not bad! It's "The Black Box" cab and it's really not bad at all!) and made sangria with it. Bottle of wine, 1/4 cup Grand Marnier, 1/2 cup sugar/water simple syrup, 1 each sliced orange/lemon/lime (with end slices heated with the simple syrup) - macerate it all in the wine for a while (1 hr was plenty for us) and serve over ice with about 1/2-1 cup fizzy water, depending on how "light" you want it to taste. Next time I might squeeze in the juice of one more orange, but it's TASTY. Adapted from Je Mange la Ville (I always love her stuff - she's one of my faves!!) and the Cook's Illustrated version.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Mango-Fennel Salad

I had some mangoes and fennel languishing in the fridge, and we're on a "don't throw away anything you paid money for" plan, so I invented a salad. If oranges and fennel are good together (not that I've tried it, but it's not an uncommon combination) then why not mangoes? And lo, it was delicious.

4 champagne mangoes, getting slightly soft
1/2 bunch parsley, a little wilty around the edges
1 bulb fennel
1/2 red onion

I'm not sure how most people deal with fennel, as this is only my second encounter, but I trimmed off the fronds and the root and took off the yuckiest outside "leaves," then sort of peeled it to get off all the rusty bits. Then I ran it through the mandoline (that's a husbandly task around here, as our mandoline was incredibly expensive yet sucks major ass.) Diced up the mangoes and sliced the red onion very thin and minced the parsley, made a dressing of 1/3 fresh lemon juice and 2/3 olive oil (somewhere between those proportions and 50/50) and tossed it all up. YUM. I had two bowls. Hopefully mangoes and fennel are superfoods!

Anyway, let this be a lesson to you. If you have stuff hanging around the refrigerator, throw it all together and see what happens! (I made Robert taste it first, just in case, though.)

Also, has anybody seen Idiocracy? It's actually kind of funny, though depressingly possible.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Like Flea needs MY piddly little traffic, but...

Go read this post right now. Please. (I always forget to say please when I boss you around, don't I?)

It's short, and really REALLY funny.

Meri, you will thank me.

CAKE!!! Cake cake cake cake!

Whoa, this cake is easy. Two bowls, one spatula. I put it together in 10 minutes. Instant gratifiCAKEtion! And so, so good and simple. I found it on the Chowhound boards (if you don't read the Home Cooking board, start.)

6 tablespoons butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
scant 1 cup sugar; of this, put aside 2 tbs
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk (we're out of regular milk, so I used buttermilk and added about 1/2 tsp or so of baking soda to the dry ingredients to compensate)
1 tsp vanilla extract
I added 1 1/2 tsp almond extract as well, to complement the peaches
Fruit: berries (blueberries or raspberries; if using raspberries, frozen ones work better), apricots, plums... (I used peaches that weren't quite acidic enough to eat out of hand, and cut them into slices and layered them in circles like a fruit tart)

Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9" cake pan and coat with flour. Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cream together the butter and all but 2 tblsp of the sugar, using a rubber spatula. Add the egg, milk, and vanilla (and almond extract.)

Stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and mix with a spatula until smooth. Transfer batter to the pan. Cover the surface of the batter with the fruit, pressing the fruit slightly into the batter. Sprinkle with remaining sugar.

Bake for 10 minutes at 350, then reduce to 325 and bake for another 50-60 minutes, until golden brown and firm to the touch. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then unmold and cool completely on a rack.

I'll post pictures when I get off my lazy bottom and download them from the camera.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Crab Cakes (yum!)

Robert's parents gave us a pound of king crab meat when he was there on Saturday (and some almond pound cake!!) So I used Mark Bittman's crab cake recipe and they were GOOD. We had them plain for dinner Saturday night with some sauteed spinach and Molly's carrot salad, but what was really transcendent was this morning, when I cooked up the last of the crab cakes and topped them with lemon and soft poached eggs. If I hadn't been too lazy to make hollandaise it would have been the perfect Father's Day breakfast! We had it with my standard toasted oatmeal bread and a drink we invented to cover up the taste of cheap sparkling wine (I can't bring myself to even call it Champagne - it's $4.99 a bottle!)

Mango Champale Cocktail

1 cup of sparkling wine (could use sparkling water for a nonalcoholic version, but why bother?)
1/4 cup mango juice
1/8 cup peach schnapps

Crab Cakes
1 lb lump crabmeat (I just chopped up the big chunks from the crab legs - heresy!)
1/8 cup minced roasted or fresh red bell pepper
1/4 cup minced scallion
1/4 cup mayonnaise (I used homemade)
1 egg
2 tbs fresh bread crumbs, as needed (I needed a lot more - like 1/4 of a cup or more)
1 tbs dijon mustard

salt, pepper, old bay seasoning for flour dredging
2 tbs olive oil + 2 tbs butter for frying

Mix the crabmeat with the mustard, mayo, pepper, scallion, egg, and bread crumbs until it makes a wet but somewhat hold-together-able mixture. Heat the skillet over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes before adding oil and butter (heat until butter stops foaming.) Shape cakes and dredge in the seasoned flour (Bittman calls for curry powder in place of the Old Bay, but WHATEVER!) and place in pan; fry for about 2-3 minutes on each side, till golden brown. They will fall apart, so only flip them once, and be gentle about it!

(Here is Bittman's version if you want to see his wording, etc. I really like his recipes in this book - though I've had trouble with some of the Minimalist recipes in the Times, so far everything I've made out of How to Cook Everything has been really good. I actually use it as much as my old Fannie Farmer, which is my normal go-to book for everything!)

(And just for good measure, here is Bittman's super-simple homemade mayonnaise recipe - we've just stopped buying mayonnaise, as this is SO good and SO easy.)

Homemade Mayonnaise
1 egg
1/2 tsp dry mustard (I use double or triple that)
salt, pepper, cayenne to taste
2 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice (or other acid, depending on what you're going to use it for)
1 cup oil (for everyday use, half should be extra virgin olive oil and the other half some neutral oil. If you want it for aioli or some other strong-flavored mayonnaise, use all olive oil; if you want it to taste just like Hellman's for tomato sandwiches this summer, use all peanut or canola.)

Combine egg, mustard, salt, pepper, cayenne, and acid in food processor. Turn it on. Drizzle in the oil, slowly at first, then in a thin steady stream until it's all in. (Sometimes I pour it into the little pusher thingy on my Cuisinart - it has a pinhole in the bottom - and it drips it in perfectly slowly.) Eat on everything. Keeps up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Am web dork.

The link to the cake works now, but I don't know how to delete my own double comment on the last post. Good thing I don't get many spam commenters, cause I'd be screwed.

AND I wish I could remember how I edited my blogroll, lo these many moons ago - I remember it was really freaking complicated. I have tons of people I would add (and a couple I would delete - I'm looking at you, Delicious! Delicious! No posts in a year = off with your head! If only I knew how!

Anyway, make the cake while I figure out bloggy things. And read Chowhound.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god

Make the pineapple upside down cake recipe.

Everything else was also fabu (especially the tabbouleh - very authentic!) but the cake stole the show.

Here's the tabbouleh recipe: (I got if off Chowhound; I'm quoting the entire thing verbatim, as I copy/pasted it into my recipe manager, but I cannot find the link to the actual post, no matter how I google.)

"Don't boil the bulger, rinse it in a strainer until the water is clean, then let it soak in a bowl with equal parts lemon juice and cold water to cover for about 20 -30 minutes. When it's tender, squeeze it dry, then add the rest of your desired ingredients. We used cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, twice the amount of parsley as bulgur and salt. More lemon juice and definitely extra virgin olive oil, usually Sultan brand. Soaking the fine grain bulgur in lemon juice and water was a winner. We never added garlic. Sometimes we would add mint and tiny diced radishes in season. I loved the radishes.

Rose's Tabboouleh Recipe

½ cup dry bulgur
2 large bunches parsley, stems off & finely chopped
2 bunches green onions, finely chopped
2 large tomatoes, seeded & diced
1/8 tsp. Allspice
2 tsp. Salt or less
Pepper to taste
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil

Rinse bulgur, drain, and then soak bulgur in cold water until it doubles in size, approximately 30 - 45 minutes
Drain well and squeeze dry.
In a large bowl, add parsley, and onions. Add enough bulgur to suit your taste (less is usually needed).
Add oil, lemon juice & spices to taste then toss in tomatoes and mix lightly. Adjust seasoning to taste."

- Random fabulous Chowhounder (wish I could credit you! So so good!)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Fennel Gratin, Pumpernickel Bread, and a Party!

Fennel Gratin

Slice fennel bulb with about 1 inch of the stems into slices about 1/2 inch thick. Roast in a 425 oven (tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper) for about 25 minutes, till browning a bit and tender. Put into casserole dish and put about 1/2-1 inch of half and half in the bottom of the dish. Cover the fennel with breadcrumbs (I used fresh, untoasted ones that I made from stale bread and keep in the freezer, so they're technically neither fresh nor dry. I bet either would work!) Grate romano or asiago (one of the stronger-flavored parmesan type cheeses) on a fine grater (but not microplane - you want distinct shreds.) Melt some shmaltz (the reserved fat from a roasted chicken seasoned with herbs that you thriftily saved in the fridge - or any flavorful fat will do, including bacon drippings or butter) and drizzle over the crumbs. Top with the cheese and bake at 375 for about 25 minutes. Notice that the top isn't getting brown and increase heat to 425 for about 10 minutes. Eat, with rude noises of enjoyment.

Having some folks over tomorrow night, and am making:

Onion Toasts, from Epicurious on homemade pumpernickel bread (recipe follows; my first attempt at it!)
Citrus-Glazed Barbecue Ribs, from My Husband Cooks;
Long-Cooked Chipotle Ribs from the LA Times food section;
Zucchini Carpaccio Salad, from Je Mange la Ville;
and Cook's Illustrated's Pineapple Upside Down Cake (recipe can be found here.

I'll let you know how it goes. The ribs are rubbed and the BBQ sauces are made; everything else will be made tomorrow.

Here's that bread recipe if anyone wants it: (I used the bread machine to knead it and let it do the first rise in there; it's out and in a long pullman-type pan rising overnight in the fridge right now. I'm hoping that will give it plenty of depth of flavor and also will make it more dense and fine-crumbed.) The dough is so dark and glorious smelling! We'll see if it's rye-y enough for me tomorrow.

Pumpernickel Bread
1 1/8 cups warm water
1 1/2 cups bread flour
1 cup rye flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1/3 cup molasses
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 1/2 tablespoons caraway seeds
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tbs vital wheat gluten

Put in the wet ingredients first, then the dry, ending with the yeast. Put on dough cycle. When finished with the first rise, knead down and put into a greased long narrow pan. Cover with greased plastic wrap and a weighted cookie sheet; refrigerate overnight. Bake at 350 for about 35-45 minutes.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Mexican-Flavor Salad with Avocado Dressing

I didn't take any pictures of this, because boy did it look disgusting. But it TASTED great, and it's all stuff I keep on hand, and it was super quick and healthy!

1 head red leaf lettuce, washed and torn
1 cup corn kernels (fresh, frozen, canned, whatever)
1 can black beans
sliced radishes
Organic blue corn tortilla chips
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 marinated skrt steak if you happen to have one left over like I did, or some grilled chicken or shrimp - whatever.

1 avocado
3/4 cup loosely packed cilantro, chopped
3/4 cup liquid (I used part water and part buttermilk; anything would work, up to and including chicken stock)
Juice of 1 lime and 1 lemon (the lime was really dry, so go by taste here)
1/2 cucumber, peeled
4 scallions, roughly chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded
1 tsp cumin
a couple of shakes of cayenne and chili powder
Throw all these together in the blender and blend until dressing-ish. Toss salad ingredients together (leave the chips for last) and pour over the dressing. (It makes way more than you need for one salad, obvs.) Eat.

Cream Biscuits

VERY EASY and authentic version of southern biscuits. (And I should know!)

2 cups flour (low-gluten, like White Lily, if you can get it)
1 tbs sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Preheat oven to 475. Whisk together the dry ingredients; add the cream and stir just until the dough comes together. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead gently, just 5-10 strokes to amalgamate the dough. Pat out to about 3/4 inch thick. Cut out biscuits with something that's sharp on the edges (don't use a drinking glass!) and don't twist the cutter as you cut. Put on an ungreased cookie sheet with sides barely touching. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, till golden brown on top.

Eat hot, with lashings of butter and plenty of honey or homemade preserves (I used fig preserves from the farmer's market. YUM!)

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Update...potatoes a resounding success!

Delicious! Run out and make them! (Archie liked them, though they were a bit spicy for his taste - the faces were pretty priceless during the afterburn. There was a quick grab for the sippy cup. But he ate three!)

Farmers' market trip today - many goodies promise for the week ahead. Stay tuned.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Sweet and Spicy Roasted Sweet Potatoes

I started out to make Rachel's Balsamic and Molasses Sweet Potatoes, but I couldn't find the HUGE bottle of balsamic that Robert brought back from Costco not two weeks ago. I looked everywhere. I remember thinking that the bottle wouldn't fit on the normal vinegar shelf, and I remember thinking "I'll have to put it somewhere I can find it and access it easily." Well, clearly I failed at that. Because I've looked everywhere but the linen closet (is it maybe in the linen closet???) and I can't find it. I'm sure I'll find it when I DON'T need it.

So I made something kind of wacky but based on the same thing. I'll tell you if it's good or not when they come out.

Peel and cube (about 1 inch cubes) four sweet potatoes. Chop up about 4 tbs of our fresh rosemary and simmer it in olive oil with some dried sage (about a teaspoon.) Add about 1/4 cup of molasses and plenty of salt and pepper. Suddenly realize that you can't find your balsamic vinegar and let that cook while you run around looking everywhere but the linen closet. Give up. Add 1/4 cup fresh lime juice and some cayenne (about 1/2 tsp) and about 1/2 tsp of hot pepper flakes. Decide "fuck it, I'm going for the sweet/hot caribbean thing" and add a couple dashes of habanero hot sauce and about 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Get annoyed at your husband for not helping you look for the damn vinegar after you made him a super yummy dinner and did two loads of laundry and put the baby to bed and put all the groceries away and also cleaned every damn thing up yourself, and then he got annoyed at you because you ask him to pause the Ramones documentary for a minute while you finish up the potatoes. Toss the potatoes in the bizarre marinade and put in a 400 degree oven on a jelly roll pan (with a silpat - have you thought of that trick yet? Makes the cleanup after roasting much easier!) and cook for a while. (20-40 minutes depending on how you like your roasted potatoes.)

I'll let you know how it goes.

On the other hand: made The Best Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing in the Whole Wide World.

Bag of washed spinach (I'm lazy, what can I say)
2 hardboiled eggs
2-4 slices of bacon, plus drippings from same (don't EVER throw away bacon drippings!)
1/4-1/2 red onion, sliced thin
3 tbs apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tbs sugar
1 tbs water
salt and pepper

Fry the bacon over med-low heat until crisp. Dice the eggs and toss with the onions and spinach. Chop the bacon and sprinkle over the salad. Put the drippings in a microwave-safe measuring cup and add the vinegar, sugar, water, salt and pepper. Cook for about 1 minute on high, until boiling. Pour over salad while still hot (to slightly wilt the leaves) and toss. Eat with relish. Make sure to turn the bowl up to get the last dribble of that yummy dressing. Then email me and tell me how fucking awesome it is.

(Tammy, I'm looking at you - your regime of salad doesn't have to be low-cal unless you want it to!) (Also, the original called for thinly sliced radishes - we didn't have any that weren't wilty and icky, but if you get them in your CSA box throw them in!!)

Also made Alton Brown's yummy skirt steak.

Carrot-Ginger-Orange Muffins (I made these up!)

All by myself, I made these up! (I used some of the same proportions from the Buttermilk Streusel Muffins, but seriously - these are practically original! Except that they're pretty much a morning glory muffin, which isn't original at all! But goooooooood.)

Here's how (rough sketch so I don't forget what I did. If it's unclear, and you want to make them, just ask!)

Juice and zest of one orange
1 cup buttermilk
b/t 1/3 and 1/2 cup veg oil
1 1/3 loosely packed brown sugar
1 egg
2 inches ginger pressed in garlic press to get juice

3 cups ap flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2-2 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp allspice, cloves

Peel orange zest off. Squeeze orange into measuring cup; add 1 cup buttermilk (meant to make up to 1 cup, but had 1/8 or so cup left of bm, so used that in addition. If you measure accurately you'll only need 2 1/2 cups flour!) Squeeze ginger. Mix oil, sugar, chopped zest in a mixing bowl; add liquid ingredients.

Mix dry ingredients and spices in another bowl. Toss with carrots, coconut, and raisins. Add wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Put about 1 cup of mixture in each jumbo muffin tin hole. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes, then lower heat to 350 and bake about 18 minutes more, checking.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Good new, bad news on baby sleep front

So, the bad news is, his teeth have GOT to pop through soon. His gums have huge hard lumps on them and he's clearly in pain/crabby/awakening every 45 minutes at night if he's not doped up with Motrin. (We should have bought stock in that stuff - and thank you, Motrin people, for making a non-FDC red no. 5 version of it! It's not like he's choosing the medicine based on its delicious neon glow - he's a BABY! We squirt it into his mouth! He doesn't need the extra dyes! I'm looking at you, Infant Tylenol!)

But the good news is, he doesn't want to nurse to sleep nearly as much now. He'll nurse for a while, then pop himself off and lay there in my lap or in the bed beside me till he falls asleep. That's a good step, isn't it, sleep gurus?

The OTHER bad news is that I totally don't feel like cooking, so the husband is making something with a cream sauce (his decision, clearly. All i really want is frozen yogurt. Does that mean I'm pregnant again? I craved TCBY the WHOLE time I was pregnant.) So anyway, no recipes. Just baby sleep news.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Oh my god, go make this now.

I made this Mediterranean Eggplant, Barley, and Mint Salad of Deb's and, while it may not sound like much, it's fucking awesome. You should go make it right now. (No pictures, as we ate it all hunched over the bowl like, immediately.)

I'm not going to retype it as we made it with no changes and it was perfection.

Pizza tonight. Plain old Greek pizza with feta, sauteed spinach, fresh tomatoes, oregano, olive oil. And then cream cheese cherry brownies.

It's been rainy all day today (my grass and scrawny plants thank you, rain gods) and we've spent most of the day reading books - some to ourselves, lots to Archie (we even went to Barnes and Noble and got a few more good ones: Good Dog Carl and Goodnight Gorilla.) We had a nice long walk in the soft drizzle this morning and it smelled so green and earthy - things have been really dry here, and it smelled like the mountains used to when I lived there. Lovely day. Deserves brownies.