Friday, August 28, 2009

Habanero Lemonade

My favorite drink lately has been vodka. I found an Icelandic one that I am particularly fond of. It uses natural springs and natural volcanic rock for filtering to produce a very clean and refreshing vodka. It just doesn't have that grainy taste.

I found some great peppers at the local farmer's market, including serrano, cayenne, and habanero. I added these, along with some garlic, to an empty wine bottle and vacuum sealed it. After a week, I made a simple lemon sour mix by boiling sugar and water and adding fresh lemon juice and grated rind. I thought habanero lemonade would be excellent. I tried 1/3 shot...ok, stop right here. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME! I normally eat raw jalapenos with no problem, but this had me running for the ice cubes and milk. I poured another drink in the same glass, and could still feel a singe later. The savory essence of garlic also emanates from the bottle. This would be great as a splash in a bloody mary, or as a practical joke. Otherwise, I will save this for special occasions.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Meat & Potatoes

Another way I have found works well for tougher cuts of meat is a sort of pan fry and steam method. This is the same method used to cook pot stickers. I tenderize, cube, and marinate the beef. When I am ready to cook, I sear it in the wok, then add a little liquid, usually broth, wine, or beer. I cover with a tight fitting lid and turn to low for around 7-8 minutes. This will act as a pressure cooker and give you that tender roasted meat texture.

The gratin was simply mixed, added to a dish, and baked for about an hour in a 375 degree oven.

grapeseed oil
white wine vinegar

yellow squash
yukon gold potatoes
goat cheese
malt vinegar
truffle oil

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hot tamales and they're red hot....yeah, she got 'em for sale

I love Mexican food. One of my favorite dishes is the tamale. I have always been intrigued by the myth behind this delightful pocket food. Most think that they are hard to make, and you have to spend all day in the kitchen. Also, that you have to make 1,000,000 of them. They do take some time and planning, but I have found they are another form of refrigerator velcro.

I started with the bone from the breakfast sausage I made to create a basic pork broth with the usual celery, carrots, garlic...any internet search will show the recipe. I did the same with the leftover carcasses of the chickens I smoked and a few fresh chicken pieces as well to make a chicken broth. Once these were completing, I sauteed some onions and peppers, then added my pork and chicken, respectively, to create 2 fillings.

I setup my prep station with the fillings and steamer, then grabbed my soaked corn husks. The dough was made from the recipe on the side of the package. Be sure to get the cornmeal that has been treated with lime that is best for tamales.

It didn't take long until I had a full pot of tamales.

I found myself with extra dough, so I mixed black beans with adobo powder and finished the batch in a second steamer.
Added some broth to the steaming pot, then the tamales and covered. 2 hours later, I had my very first batch.

I added a can of tomato paste to the steaming broth and reduced to form a sauce, while the tamales set on the counter. A little frisee, bibb lettuce and goat cheese brought something fresh and creamy to the party. I topped with a dressing of the following. This was definitely the best meal all month.

Blueberry vinaigrette
rice wine vinegar
sesame oil (the Mediterranean kind)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A new way to smoke

I decided to try rubbing mustard on my pork butt this time, as well as omitting the molasses until it went on the smoker. I used hickory wood chunks, which are better than chips because they do not need to be soaked since they do not burn as easily. Sometimes, I throw one right into a charcoal grill. I have found that adding charcoal to the smoker in small increments will keep the smoke constant. If this is not done regularly enough, you will need to add more charcoal at each interval, which will give an overwhelming amount of smoke. In turn, your mild smokiness will turn into a mouth full of ash.

This pork roast was only around 4-5 lbs, but I still smoked it for 11.5 hours. The chickens only needed about 4. My list of ingredients for each is below. All were applied the night before. As always, add, omit, increase, or decrease the ingredients as you see fit. Your apprehension to add too much of a new thing will probably control you to not overdo it, so feel free to experiment.

1st chicken:

chicken broth
ale beer
lime juice
onion powder

2nd chicken:
soy sauce
chicken broth
lime juice
hoisin sauce
teryaki sauce
rice wine vinegar
orange juice
dark brown sugar
hot toasted sesame oil

Pork butt:
yellow mustard
dijon mustard
sweet hot mustard
chili powder
dark brown sugar
onion powder
garlic powder

Monday, August 10, 2009

Simple, elegant

I heard a great chef say, "any trained monkey can grill a tenderloin, but taking a working cut of meat and making it tender and that's talent." Take chuck, for example. I like to begin with a blade meat tenderizer, but a fork will work as well. I then made a marinade by combining coriander, black mustard seed, minced onion, cumin, garlic, ginger, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, dill, flat leaf parsley, lime juice, and rice wine vinegar. After marinating at least a day, I seared the beef in a skillet until a nice crust formed. I placed on a rack over a dish in a 275 degree oven until the internal temperature reached 145 since my target was 150.

I received some fresh yellow heirloom tomatoes from a friend, and combined them with roasted white peppers and fresh Silver Queen corn. I muddled raw sugar with basil and added lime juice to make a dressing for the salad.

My favorite rice lately involves coconut milk and saffron. If you cook rice at least once or twice a week, a rice cooker is a great investment. I prefer the fuzzy logic ones, as they automatically sense the temperature and amount of rice to cook. Perfect every time.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

More food porn

I found some more old pictures that should get you in the mood, and should have more to come this week. I have been so busy with music and photography projects, that I have not been cooking. I went to the farmer's market last weekend, and I think that is about to change. We are deep into the summer cooking season, so hang on tight.

Barbecued chicken with summer squash fried rice

Grilled Asian chicken with soy grilled Brussels sprouts & pepper risotto

Stuffed flounder with orange reduction & lobster mushroom gnocchi

Roasted red pepper bisque with poblano cream & grilled chicken pesto flatbread

Grilled NY Strip with sauteed spinach & mushroom polenta

Beef osso bucco

Smokey turkey (bones made great stock)

Mixed berry galette with fresh whipped cream

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Saturday Soup

Lately, I have been saving the bones from chicken breasts along with the stems of mushrooms and tops of leeks. These can be frozen and come in handy when making a stock. I decided to make use of the abundance of extra parts of things, and what better than a soup. I started by roasting some raw chicken bones that I had already used the meat from and frozen. Then, I added this to water, leek and mushroom scraps, a carrot, garlic, salt, and pepper. After this simmered nicely into a stock, I strained it. To the now empty pot, I added diced onions, celery, and carrots which sweat for about 5 minutes. I then added garlic and flour, sauteed, and then the stock. Next, the diced Yukon Gold and saffron were added and this was simmered uncovered until the potatoes were done. I added the minced chicken from the bones, along with corn and cream and simmered another 10 minutes. I topped with a pinch of fresh grated nutmeg, and it was incredible. Definitely a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Random Stuff

As usual, my procrastination has left me postless for quite some time. While cleaning out some old folders on my desktop, I stumbled upon a collection of older photos. These are my lost works from the last few months. Enjoy!

Rotisserie Cornish hen with Jasmine rice and broccoli in cheese sauce.

Cornmeal fried grouper over homemade kimchi and Yukon mash with mango-avocado relish.

Fresh smoked turkey on homemade focaccia with cheddar, spinach, and mayo.

Blackened chicken over braised Napa cabbage with white beans & red rice.

Pan roasted chicken with pan jus, mashed potatoes, and sauteed vegetables.

Chicken chili topped with grilled jalapeno, crispy skin, and jalapeno-cheddar cornbread.

And what do you make with the leftover cornbread? Add a little sweetened condensed milk for a spicy treat.
This is one of my favorite things to cook, and you can use about anything. I start by making a chicken pot pie filling, then filled in between puff pastry sheets to make a chicken pot pie napoleon.

Grilled chicken with black sesame paste, rice, and kimchi.

This has been one of my favorite drinks lately. I start by muddling cilantro and sugar, then mixing with a generous portion of mango vodka.

Finally, I add orange juice and serve as a mango-cilantro martini on the rocks.
Valentine's Day turned out to be a treat. Grilled NY strip, peppers, and mushrooms over mashed potatoes with snow peas...

...and for dessert, Pecan mocha pie with Patron Cafe. This was topped with homemade vanilla ice cream and an extra piece of pie crust since there is never enough.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Oops we did it again

It's been a while since our last cooking session, and we were eager to cook. The funny thing is that we did not have any preplanned ideas, but we knew that would come. We both headed to the markets to determine what the ingredients would be, and here is what we came up with.

T started us off with the appetizers. The roasted pepper bruschetta consisted of fresh roasted peppers tossed with basil & olive oil.With this, she served Gorgonzola & arugula stuffed zucchini. The arugula was wilted and sauteed with onion and brown sugar, then roasted in the zucchini.

Next was drunken shrimp with Meyer lemon vinaigrette. The shrimp were marinated in white wine, olive oil, and chives before being sauteed and topped with the vinaigrette.

As a side dish, broccolini and pears were blanched and sauteed.

Her final dish was a pan seared pork chop with kiwi butter and roasted leeks. The pork was covered in a rub consisting of white pepper, saffron, cardamon, corriander, onion, garlic powder, and Hungarian paprika for one hour, then seared and baked over a white wine tarragon broth. The leeks were roasted, covered with parmesan bread crumbs, and served with a sharp cheddar sauce.
And chicken for the non-pork eater. (The act of not eating pork will automatically disqualify you from receiving citizenship in North Carolina)

My first dish was wok seared tuna over coconut dal. I marinated the tuna in soy sauce, lime juice, tamarind, and brown sugar. The dal was made from yellow split peas, chicken broth, coconut milk, and a spice blend of toasted mustard seed, cinnamon, and cumin.

I always want to try vegetarian dishes that sound good, but normally cannot do without meat. This time, I went a step further with a vegan gravy. For those who don't know what a vegan is, look it up. This can be hilarious when mistaken. I worked at a sandwich shop in Boone, where we sold vegan muffins. One day two older ladies asked one of my cowokers, "What's a veggin' muffin" to which she replied, "oh you know, they just sit there and veg." The dishes sometimes sound wierd, but can be very surprisingly close to the real thing.

My dish was portobello wellington with vegan cashew gravy and braised greens. the portobellos were stuffed with a mixture of shitakes, garlic, and leeks, then wrapped in phyllo and baked. The gravy consisted of cashews, cornstarch, water, and salt which were blended and simmered until thickened.

For dessert, I made apricot gnocchi with chocolate ganache and pistachio-mint pesto. I steamed and riced Yukon Gold potatoes, then mixed with nutmeg, flour and blended apricots. The pesto was made with pistachios, mint, olive oil, and raw sugar.

Of course, we have to wash it down. I made mint mojitos by muddling mint and sugar, then filled the glass with dark rum. After soaking a bit, and chilling in a shaker, i mixed with Sprite for a refreshing after dinner drink. That's it for this time. Thanks for tuning in.