Sunday, January 30, 2011

Homemade "They aren't Tater Tots" and a Pot Roast


It was a good day at the Farmers Market in Wayland. They were having local wineries as well as the usual stuff. We tasted the wines and as usual we bought some but now I can't figure out why. Perhaps it was the excitement of getting to taste wine again even though we aren't anywhere near good wine. Ok ok, don't get all uppity with me. I am used to wine tasting in Sonoma and my tastes are just not "refined' enough for the wine here. That is why I bought a bottle of Pumpkin wine.


Really! You will have to come over and taste it. It is very INTERESTING (nice way of saying weird). The Ginger beer in this picture is wonderful. It is 7% alcohol and I think it would make a GREAT Moscow Mule. Dr Food said "but it already has alcohol in it" and *I* said "and?"


I also bought Watermelon radish and celeriac at the farmers market. I served them before dinner with some onion dip. We had Sam the critic for dinner last night so I also had potato chips for him.


I also fried up some tortilla chips. So for dinner I was making a pot roast and homemade tater tots. I saw this recipe in my new cookbook "One Big Table" by Molly O'Neill" and I thought that Sam would like them. What kid doesn't like tater tots? Well, I was off the mark on these because they really were more of an adult taste than a real tater tot. I think I like the over processed ones better. So ...

DO NOT CALL THESE TATER TOTS in front of kids. I am not saying don't make them. I liked them. Just do not break your kids heart by telling them they are tater tots. They have celeriac in them for gods sake. I should have known. Although I made them with my own bacon. Did I tell you I made my OWN bacon? I told you that already? 100 times? Ohgoaway. No not really. You have to finish reading this post. Mom? Are you there?


So here are the "They aren't Tater Tots". Lots of work but good. Frankly *I* rather have just a plain ole potato pancake.




Local beef! Yum. I think Dr Food is scared that I will be hanging a side of beef in the garage next. It is cold enough in there. I wonder...hmmm.


Pot roast smothered with onions. This recipe is the best. All it is:

3-4 lb Pot Roast
2 Tbl Paprika
2 Tbl Flour
2 tsp salt

Mix Paprika, Flour and salt. Dredge pot roast. Brown in 2 Tbl of vegetable oil. Slice 4 onions and put half on the bottom of the dutch oven with the pot roast on top. Cover pot roast with rest of the onions. Simmer for 3 hours. Yum.


Here are the "Not really Tater Tots"


What am I doing for dinner tonight? It is healthy. I am making Korean Tofu Stew. I will give you a sneak peak so that you will be excited for the next post.


Friday, January 28, 2011

Malaysian Chicken and Rice - I am in love


As usual I was scrounging around for something to make for dinner. I didn't want to go out in the frozen tundra. Ok, yes it did stop snowing but there is a LOT of snow out there. Look.


I am just a wimpy Californian at heart. Shhhh, don't tell the neighbors. I pretend that I am "Element Woman". I can handle Sun, Snow and Wind! I don my boots and gloves and shovel as I sing "Ohhhh EEEEE Ohhhh"


So luckily for us we have enough food in the 2 refrigerators and 3 freezers to last us a year. There is a whole lamb, 1/2 a venison, and assorted other "stuff". I pulled out my old standby the chicken. I decided that I wanted to learn how to break down a chicken once and for all. I got out my knife.


Shut up...I know what you are thinking. Dr Food needs to get me a boning knife BADLY! I have begged and pleaded and to no avail. Ok, I am lying but I have to justify the knife in the above picture. Actually it is an amazing knife for other stuff. It is a Lamson and Goodnow which is the oldest knife maker in the U.S. It just isn't the best chicken cutter in the U.S. So, I didn't want to give Dr. Food the credit of following his suggestion to use this:


{insert big sigh here} buthewasright. No, I won't say it louder. The big Global hatchet did the job.


Next secret up my sleeve is fish sauce. I do not know how something that smells so bad can make things taste SO good. I know I know Umami. Still it smells like fertilizer. Uh, ignore the diet soda in the background. Of COURSE *I* don't drink that crap. It is for guests. Well, sometimes I do mix it in a drink here and there, but the alcohol takes care of all the UNNATURAL stuff in it.


Why am I showing you rice? It is because this was another secret weapon of this recipe that made me swoon. It gets crunchy in this dish. Ya know the stuff that is on the bottom of Dol Sot Bi Bim Bap? If you don't know what that is look it up on the WEB.


All joking aside, this is one of the best chicken dishes that I have had in a long time. It is really a wonderfully complex tasting dish with very few ingredients. It is called Malaysian Chicken and Rice and I got the recipe from "Fine Cooking" You really need to try it.

Malaysian Chicken and Rice
Fine Cooking by Zak Pelaccio

5 Tbs. fish sauce
3 medium cloves garlic, finely minced
1 (1-1/2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced
1 (3-lb.) chicken
Sea salt
2 cups jasmine rice
3 Tbs. grapeseed oil
1 cup lower-salt chicken broth
4 Thai bird or 2 jalapeño chiles, thinly sliced crosswise
4 medium scallions, light-green and white parts thinly sliced crosswise; green tops sliced into 1-1/2-inch-long slivers and submerged in cold water until serving
2 Tbs. unseasoned rice vinegar

1. Combine 2 Tbs. of the fish sauce with the garlic and ginger in a small bowl.

2. Put the chicken on a cutting board. Using a sharp cleaver or chef’s knife, disjoint the chicken into drumstick, thigh, wing, and split-breast pieces. Chop each breast half crosswise into 4 pieces (you’ll end up with 8 chicken breast pieces plus 2 wings, 2 thighs, and 2 drumsticks). Put the chicken in a large bowl and rub with 2 tsp. sea salt and the fish sauce mixture. Cover and refrigerate.

3. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a dishtowel and set it aside.

4. Put the rice in a large sieve, submerge the sieve in a large bowl of cold water and swish the rice with your fingers until the water turns milky. Lift the sieve out of the water, discard the water, and fill the bowl with fresh cold water. Repeat until the water is clear when the rice is swished, 2 to 3 more times. Shake as much water from the rice as possible and then turn it out onto the towel-lined pan. Spread the rice in an even layer and set it aside to dry completely, 30 minutes to 1 hour.

5. Heat an 8-quart Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the oil and the rice, spreading it out into an even layer. Let the rice sit for 1 minute, stir, and let it sit for another minute. Repeat until the rice is somewhat translucent, 2 to 3 more times. Add the chicken broth and 1 cup water. Increase the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and cook for exactly 12 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, put the chiles in a small bowl and cover with the remaining 3 Tbs. fish sauce; set aside. Put the thinly sliced scallions in a small bowl and cover with the rice vinegar; set aside.

7. Arrange the drumsticks, thighs, and wings in a single layer on top of the rice. Cover the pot and cook for 10 minutes; then quickly add the breast pieces to the pot. Cover and cook until the chicken pieces are firm and spring back when lightly pressed, 40 to 45 minutes longer. Turn off the heat and bring the pot to the table.

8. Remove the scallion greens from the water, pat with a paper towel to dry, and put them in a small bowl. Uncover the chicken and rice and serve directly from the pot—be sure to serve each person some of the crusty, golden-brown rice from the bottom of the pot. Garnish with the scallion tops and serve with the chile-fish sauce and the scallion vinegar on the side.

Printable Version

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Transylvanian Goulash


We just bought a really cool new cookbook called ""One Big Table" by Molly O'Neill. I made a recipe called Transylvanian Goulash. I made it because when Dr Food suggested it I liked the name. I thought of when my kids would watch sesame street and the Count was on.


So first off we went to the Farmers Market in Weyland and picked up some Amish Roll Butter. I wanted to try it. We also bought some fresh eggs.



We spend part of the day cooking our ready to smoke bacon that had been curing for 8 days.


I suppose we could have smoked it out in the snow but we didn't feel like it. So, instead we stayed inside and smoked it on a stove top smoker and then put it in the oven. We did part of the bacon smoked and part not smoked. I liked the smoked side better. You will have to stay tuned for what we make out of this slab o bacon.


This recipe was wonderful and easy to make. It is perfect for a cold (and I mean COLD) night.


Olga Peter's Transylvanian Goulash

Printable Version

2 tablespoons lard (I used olive oil)

1 cup peeled, chopped onion

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika

3 cups homemade or low-sodium canned chicken stock (I used part homemade vegetable stock and part chicken stock)

2 pounds pork, cubed

2 cups drained sauerkraut

1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds

1/4 cup tomato juice

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup sour cream

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

1. Melt the lard in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the paprika and 1/2cup of the stock and bring to a boil. Add the pork and simmer, covered, 1 hour.

2. Add the sauerkraut, caraway seeds, tomato juice and remaining stock to the pot. Return it to a simmer, cover and cook for another hour, or until meat is very tender.

3. Whisk the flour and sour cream together and carefully stir into the pot. Simmer 10 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Yield: 6 servings.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I think I may be getting a bit compulsive


I think the cat is thinking that she may need to find a new home because her "caregiver" is insane. This is my pancetta but I didn't really hang it in the living room. I took over Dr. Foods wine refrig for good and it is living here.


Friday, January 21, 2011

I was feeling nostalgic so I made this chicken.


Every so often I get nostalgic for when I was a mom with young children. I have had a recipe box since they were born. I don't go into it that often but once in a while something comes over me and I just need to reach back in time. At that time I didn't have lots of cookbooks. I cut recipes from the L.A. Times or got them off of packages of chicken. We weren't into "Local" and "Slow" and all of that. At that time you were either a vegetarian or you weren't. That was about the only two sides of the coin. No matter. Now I am more educated on the subject and a WAY more sophisticated cook.

Then yesterday I had to take out the box of recipes. I found this chicken recipe that I used to make the family all the time. I love how it makes the house smell. It reminds me of all sorts of good things.


Yesterday I stopped off at my favorite little market. The owner was talking to us the last time we were there and told us that he got his chickens locally and they were really fresh. I bought a chicken for dinner.


I made some artichokes to go with it. Let me tell you that the house smelled sublime. I was happy with my memories and a glass of wine and some music. Then the test came. Did it in fact still taste the same as I remembered it. Had my taste changed drastically? Well, if I could have chewed this FRESH and LOCAL chicken I am pretty sure that I wouldn't have been disappointed with the recipe. However, Dr. Food looked over at me and said "Um, is YOUR piece of chicken tough?" I had to spit out what was in my mouth to answer him. This was THE toughest chicken I have ever tasted. I don't think I have ever had this happen before. Fresh and Local yes but also a senior citizen chicken. Not good. NO it wasn't dry just not chewable.

Having said that, ignore the chicken and just make this with a younger bird. When you smell it cooking think of me as a young mom with the best two kids in the world hanging out in the kitchen playing with pots and pans while I cook.

Nostalgic Chicken
(have NO idea where the recipe came from)

1/4 C Margarine (I used butter)
1/2 tsp minced onion (I used the dry stuff)
1/2 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp tarragon
1/4 tsp marjoram
1/2 C white wine
2.5lb chicken cut up
Parmesan cheese

Melt butter or margarine in small sauce pan. Add all the herbs and white wine. Pour over chicken and cover chicken well with the mixture. Sprinke on parmesan cheese and paprika. Bake at 350F for about an hour.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Portuguese Braised Beef Shanks or "The dog was happy"


Sometimes on the weekend when Dr. Food and I are bored we play a game called "Lets go to Whole Foods and Forage for our Dinner". This weekend was completely the type of weekend where you feel bored and yet you don't want to get up and go into the snow and cold and rain and well...the crappy weather that is typical around these parts.


I had started "No Knead Bread" the night before. It had been a long time since I made it and I thought it would be good for a cold weekend. I love the smell of the bread as it is baking as well as the yeasty smell when it is just hanging out in my kitchen.


So, perusing the meat section I saw these tasty morsels. They are beef shanks. I had never had them before and I thought they might be interesting. Not only that but they didn't cost an arm and a leg as most of the other stuff at "Whole Foods (Whole paycheck as others like to call it). Our task was to find something to do with it. NO problem.


A little pancetta goes in this. No not MINE. MY pancetta is curing away in the refrig. All 6 lbs of it. That reminds me I need to go flip the little cutie pie over.

So, I found a recipe online that looked interesting and I wanted to try it. It was Portuguese Braised Beef Shanks. Luckily enough we had most of the ingredients in the house and only had to run to the grocery store one more time. This recipe combines lots of taste together but they all blend perfectly.


Once again, I wasn't so much into the pictures as I was the cooking. Ugly picture though. Sorry about that. I really need my own personal photographer to come take pictures (ok, doesn't count that my own son is a photographer because he lives in L.A. and not only that he NEVER will take a picture of ANYTHING that I want. However, when he is famous I will so be going to something important with him...EVAN? right? right? Ok, I know for a fact that you don't read this blog because if you did I would be in SO much trouble for writing this. Uh oh...Annie, Mommy loves you...don't tell on me ok? Us "GIRLS?" need to stick together. Argh...


Dr Food wanted to make this cauliflower souffle. Um, I am afraid to show the cheesy goodness because everyone will groan and tell me that we don't eat healthy enough. BUT this was the ONLY unhealthy dinner we had all week. Why is it that I am talking to my family in my blogpost? Could be that I think they are the only ones that read this. Then again, I don't think they read it either. So why? I crack myself up and it is for my own amusement. THAT is healthy.


SO bread out of the oven! HA! this is a good picture isn't it? Too yellow? Not enough light? Shut up...


Cheesy cauliflower.

Arteries: Janis, you shouldn't be eating this kind of stuff
Me: Shut up
Arteries: Don't tell ME to shut up. I am just telling you that you need to eat fiber.
Me: I know I know

So, last night I made one of our normal dinners (the other days of this week were too boring to even mention...shrimp, chicken...and NOTHING fancy)


MOM! Look. Garbanzo's and Black Beans . Look here


GROUND TURKEY and red peppers and green onions. Pfft. Wrap it up in a tortilla and throw LOW FAT cheese on it and call it dinner. Healthy dinner. Boring dinner. Weight Watcher recipe dinner. Happy now?


p.s. Oh, the reason the dog was happy is she got a big bone from that beef shank. She was a little disappointed that the marrrow had melted away but she still got the bone. Uh, where is the picture? Damn.

Portuguese Braised Beef Shanks
adapted from recipe found on Whats Cooking In America by Karen Calanchini

1 teaspoon mixed color peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole allspice berries
6 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
6 ounces thin-sliced pancetta, cut into cubes
4 (about 3 1/2 pounds total) thick center-cut beef shanks (I had mine cut 1-inch thick)
Coarse salt or sea salt and freshly-ground mixed color pepper
Olive oil, if needed
2 large yellow onions, medium chopped
6 to 8 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 1/2 cups beef stock
2 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoon dark molasses
1 teaspoon salt
1 dried Guajillo chile pepper*
1 dried Arbol chile pepper*

* Chiles de arbol or arbol chile (ARE-bowl) are narrow, curved chiles that start out green and mature to a 3-inch to 5-inch bright red pod. The arbol chile is very hot, and related to cayenne pepper. These chiles register around 50,000-65,000 on the scoville heat unit scale (or about 7-8 on a 1-10 scale). These chile peppers are found Mexican Food Stores and in most hispanic food sections of grocery stores. If you can't find arbol or guamillo chile peppers, substitute dried cayenne chile peppers.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Position oven rack in lower third of oven.

Place the peppercorns, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, and bay leaves into a cheesecloth pouch; tie securely and set aside.

How make a cheesecloth pouch: Cut a piece of cheesecloth approximately 8 inches by 8 inches. Place your spices and/or herbs in the middle of the cheesecloth. Crush them slightly to release their flavors. Tie the cheesecloth shut with kitchen or cotton twine. Leave the tie long enough so that you can remove the cheesecloth easily.

Heat a large oven-proof pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium-low heat until hot. Add the pancetta cubes and sizzle to render the fat and crisp up. When crispy, remove with a slotted spoon to a folded paper towel; set aside.

Place the beef shanks into the hot rendered fat. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the top of each beef shank and sear until very brown (this step gives the dish more flavor). Turn the beef shanks and sear the other side. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the browned side. Once both sides are well seared, remove the beef shanks to a plate; set aside.

Lower heat to low (if the pot is dry, add a little olive oil). Add the onions, stirring until they begin to release their water. Using your spatula, scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan and stir into the onions. Sauté the onions until softened. Add the garlic and sauté an additional 1 minute.

Add the beef stock, wine, molasses, and 1 teaspoon salt to the pot. Turn off the heat, add the prepared pancetta, beef shanks, and any accumulated juices to the pot. Nestle the cheesecloth spice pouch and the chile peppers in the pot. Cover and braise the beef in the oven, for approximately 4 hours, turning once and using a spoon, scoop up the juices and the onions and pour over the top of the shanks. Meat should be falling off the bone when done.

Remove from oven and transfer the beef shanks to a serving platter, along with the bones (the marrow in the bone is excellent and some people love to eat it). Remove the cheesecloth spice pouch and peppers (unless you want to eat the peppers).

At this point, the juice may be reduced, if necessary, by cooking over high heat to the obtain the consistency or thickness you desire. Skim fat from the top, taste, and season with salt and pepper if needed.

Divided meat and bones (with marrow) onto 4 plates and ladle the sauce on top.

Printable Version

The Cauliflower-Bacon Gratin was from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan. Fantastic book! You can find this recipe at Leite's Culinaria

Monday, January 17, 2011

A new obsession and an omission


I joined a group. It isn't any group. It is the Charcutepalooza group. Don't hate me. It is all Mrs. Wheelbarrow and The Yummy Mummy's fault (yeah, get a load of those names. Trouble in the making I tell ya). You can read their proselytism here. I joined. I am not a joiner. They got me though. Now it is too late to stop. Dr Food is spending his day off today researching turning our wine refrig into a meat chamber. I am not joking. The conversation went like this:

Dr Food: How serious are you about this "meat" thing?
Me: Well, I am totally committed (or should be) now.
Dr Food: How much do you want to invest to do it right?
Me: Not much
Dr. Food: For 100.00 I can turn the wine refrig into a meat room. All I need is the humidity thing.
Me: Argh....I think I am in trouble.

I AM in trouble. We bought a professional meat slicer on ebay. Good thing I married someone that is as insane as *I* am. Afterall, we met in a Food Newsgroup in the early 90's. No, chat rooms for us. It was more like an Old Days Twitter.

How do I get so off track? Ok, so I have told the story of the ugly duckling and how I made the proscuitto, but I didn't tell what it went into. This is what we did with it.


When I first unveiled it I was a bit taken aback. I had been looking at other peoples duck prosciutto for days and they had amazingly beautiful pictures of their jewels. Mine looked like a dried out piece of meat that you would find in the trashcan after your husband had told you "I will take it out" for days (No, Dr. Food of course I am not talking about YOU).


Yet when I cut into it I was awed with the beauty. Not only THAT but I can not describe how shocked I was how amazing it tasted. I screamed "OHMYGODITTASTELIKEPROSCIUTTO!") I even made the neighbor taste it. His face took on a look of horror until he tasted it and then the slow smile came over his face and he said "Damn, taste like prosciutto". My day was made.


So, I wanted something simple to showcase the flavor of MY prosciutto (see, I am getting possessive now). Fresh ingredients and keeping it simple was what I wanted. Who would I turn to for some ideas but The Minimalist himself, Mark Bittman. I used a recipe of his for Pasta With Prosciutto and Whole Cloves of Garlic (Maccheroni alla San Giovanniello)


So simple and so good!


Really it is just a matter of slowly browning the garlic and the prosciutto and then adding the tomatoes and other ingredients. The taste was amazing. I think the fact that it had MY duck breast prosciutto in it also added to the flavor.


Cut to next morning (oh wait, that is this morning!)


I took out the strata that I had made the night before (recipe calls for this sitting in the refrig over night.) I feel like one of those cooking shows that take the already made thing out of the refrigerator because there wasn't time to do it on air. Ok, so my over active imagination is taking over again. At any rate this is the strata. I have posted this recipe before. THIS time it had MY prosciutto in it.


I figured that since we were getting all fancy pants that I would have Dr. Food whip up some Mimosa's. We had champagne in the refrig (duh, who doesn't?) and so we declared Martin Luther King Day good enough reason to drink Mimosa's and eat Strata with MY duck proscuitto in it! (Did I tell you that *I* made the proscuitto?) It was a start to a perfect day.


Oh yeah, and just to pass on a public message...


Oh... Mom, please just ignore this next picture, ok? Please. Denis and Dean NO JOKES.

The next Charcutepalooza is Bacon and Pancetta. I am ready!


Pasta With Prosciutto and Whole Cloves of Garlic (Maccheroni alla San Giovanniello)
Mark Bittman

Printable Version

Yield About 4 servings
Time About 30 minutes

1/3 cup olive oil or butter
10 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
1/2 cup prosciutto or other salted ham or slab bacon, cut into cubes or strips
6 plum tomatoes, or 11/2 cups drained canned tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound cut pasta, such as ziti or penne
1 cup roughly chopped fresh basil leaves
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese, or a combination

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

2. Combine the oil, garlic, and ham in a medium to large skillet over medium-low heat. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until the garlic becomes deep golden, nearly brown, all over, 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Core and chop the plum tomatoes (or crush the canned tomatoes) and add them, along with salt and pepper, to the skillet. Stir and simmer while you salt the boiling water and cook the pasta.

4. Drain the pasta when it is tender but firm, re¬serving a little of the cooking water and adding it to the sauce if it appears dry (quite likely if you used fresh tomatoes). Toss the pasta with the sauce and most of the basil, along with the cheese. Mince the remaining basil, garnish the pasta with it, and serve.