Monday, August 30, 2010

This is like the best chicken recipe EVER


It was time to make chicken for dinner and it just sounded so boring. So I got on my computer to do some searching for ideas. I knew that I wanted something easy to grill outside. I ran upon a recipe for Grilled Chicken (Ga Nuong)
 which sounded interesting but nothing to get really excited about. That was until I tasted it. This simple recipe might be the best grilled chicken that I have ever made. It is Umami at its finest.


The marinade is simple. Almost so simple that you will be tempted to add or subtract something, but I beg you not to do that. Give it a try just as is and I swear you will be happy.


I now have a favorite chicken recipe that isn't unhealthy and it is so beautiful in its simplicity!


I got this recipe from Real Simple although I saw it posted in more than one place.

Grilled Chicken (Ga Nuong)
From "Into the Vietnamese Kitchen" by Andrea Nguyen
(Printable Recipe)

1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons canola or other neutral oil
2 3/4 pounds chicken thighs (I prefer bone-in but remove skin and trim fat)
I added about 1 tbl of garlic (ok, so *I* did change it a little)

1. In a small mixing bowl. combine all ingredients except the chicken and stir well. Place chicken in a nonreactive (pottery, plastic, glass) dish. Pour marinade over chicken and use your fingers to massage marinade into the meat, distributing the seasonings as evenly as possible. Marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours.

2. To grill: Prepare a medium-hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to medium. Place chicken on grill rack and cook, turning after five minutes. Continue cooking until internal juices run clear. You are looking for an internal temperature of approximately 165 degrees.

3. To oven-roast and broil: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place chicken in a roasting dish and cook until juices run clear, about 25 minutes. For a deeper browning, place chicken under the broiler for about 60 seconds.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Don't be a hater macaroni and cheese for a friend


A friend and neighbor of mine lost a loved one this week. I never know what to do to help in this circumstance so I always turn to food. Then I wonder if the food will be more of a pain in the butt or a help. So, I thought of Mac and Cheese because worse come to worse I knew that she could feed it to her kids and that would be one less thing to think of.

Now comes the embarrassing part where I have to justify this recipe. Here it goes in once sentence: It is the one that my mother always made and so it is comfort food to me. Everyone that has ever tasted it has loved it (or so they say which they shouldn't if they don't mean it because then I will make it again).


A roux is made with butter and flour and then the cheese is added.


Then it is all mixed together and sprinkled with cornmeal and dotted with butter. Into the oven it goes.


Yummy goodness comes out of the oven.

Um, what was that? I forgot to mention the cheese? Uh.....


Don't hate me. It is my mothers fault.

16 ounces macaroni (uncooked)
1/2 cup butter + some to dot on top
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
16 ounces Velveeta cheese, cut into chunks
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook macaroni according to directions and drain.

Melt buttyer in a large saucepan. Add flour and whisk together. Whisk in milk and cook over medium heat until mixture starts to bubble and thickens. Stir constantly. Add Velveeta to the mixture and allow to melt. Salt and pepper to taste.

Pour macaroni into a 13x9 oblong baking dish. Pour sauce over macaroni and combine well. Sprinkle cornmeal on top and dot with butter.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

Ok lets move on to my more "natural side" My homegrown tomato side. My folksy canning my own stuff side.


Dr Food wanted me to can some salsa (a modified cooked version of the recipe that I posted the other day). So, I turned on the grill and roasted the tomatoes that I picked just that morning.


So after they roasted I let them cool off so that I could peel them.






I know what she is thinking. She is thinking "Tomatoes Stamatoes... You still made Mac and Cheese with VELVEETA.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Dinner with Sam the critic -- Part II or do not make this dessert

Well, as I said in the previous post we had friends for dinner. The Rick Bayless dish was wonderful. I also made my favorite Zarela Martinez "Rice with Pablano" casserole. I could eat this for dinner by itself.


Crappy picture but I was really not into taking pictures that night. I was nervous enough with being critiqued by Sam. I think that Sam might have even nibbled at this dish. I am not sure though because we really were having an intense conversation about him not wanting to look at me and poopie heads and things like that (if you don't know what I am talking about read previous might help).

Then came time for dessert. Uh oh. My real weakness and Dr Food dislikes sweets about as much as I do so he is never any help (I love you honey). This dessert was one that my sis told me about. So after like 5 phone calls to her I made it.

Um....I don't think this is how it was suppose to look.


Ok ok stay with me. In Sam's eyes I am still "the famous blogger" that his father told him that I was. This was an angel food cake layered with blueberries that I picked with my own two hands. What a horrible waste of my hard work in picking those blueberries. It was a mess and although our polite guests said that it tasted good I didn't agree. Sorry Sis, I must have lost something in the translation. The good news was that Sam the critic had opted for the vanilla ice cream. Whew, dodged THAT bullet.

I just saw that this recipe that I have been making for years was on Food Networks "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" It is pretty damn good.

Creamy Rice Casserole; Arroz con Crema
Zarela Martinez
4 cups water
2 cups Uncle Ben’s or other converted rice
1 Tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons salt

For the sour cream mixture (crema agria preparada):
2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1 minced garlic clove
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove
2 cups corn (or 16 oz can drained)
1/2 pound grated white cheddar cheese

1.- Bring water to a boil and add buttter and salt. When the butter is melted,
add the rice and bring back to a boil. Lower the heat to very low, cover the
rice with a tight-fitting lid and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, Take rice out of
the saucepan and spread on a baking sheet to cool or allow to cool in the pan

2.- Meanwhile, combine the sour cream with the chopped onion and cilantro
and add salt to taste.

3.- Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the chopped onion and garlic clove.
Dice the poblanos and add to pan when the onion is wilted. Saute for one
minute. Let cool and combine with the rice.

4.- Drain the can of corn well (or use the fresh corn) and add to the cool rice and poblano mixture.
Add the sour cream mixture and mix in the grated cheese.

5.- Bake for 30 minutes or until heated through in a 350 degree oven. If
using a pyrex dish, the oven temperature should be 325 degrees.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My version of pigs in a blanket...This is not what you think


We had our friends over for dinner on Saturday night. We had grown banana peppers (sweet not hot) just for this dish. We have made it before and this time it came out just as great as the first time we made it. The second time we made it we used the wrong peppers and our mouths almost exploded (We like HOT but this was too much). The dish is Rick Bayliss's Pot Roasted Pork with Yellow Chiles, Plantains and Piloncillo.


This recipe takes some effort but it is well worth it. Of course it entails browning some onions.


We found the banana leaves at the Brazilian market near our house. You can find them in many ethnic grocery stores.


The dutch oven is lined with the leaves and the meat is covered and cooked in there with the plantains, onions and liquid made of piloncillo (or brown sugar).


And here ya have it. Pig in a blanket. Tricked you didn't I?

We also had a surprise guest named Sam. Sam was a charming dinner guest to put it mildly. I tried to take Sam's picture so I could give credit where credit is due for his excellent culinary expertise. He wouldn't hear of it. He prefers to stay anonymous. He turned his nose up at our dinner but he dined to the tune of his own drummer.


Sam knows what he likes. He isn't a guy that is swayed easily into going with the crowd.

I wish I could make my own kids 5 again.


When the kitchen looks like this I know it was a successful dinner. How could it not be when dining with Sam.

Pot Roasted Pork with Yellow Chiles, Plantains and Piloncillo
Recipe from Rick Bayliss's Season 5 of Mexico--One Plate at a Time

1 small cone (about 1 ounce) piloncillo
OR 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 pound (about 6 medium) fresh yellow chiles (I prefer hot Hungarian wax or banana peppers here)
A 2-pound boneless pork shoulder roast
1 medium white onion, sliced 1/4-inch thick
One 18-inch section of banana leaf, hard spine cut off, plus an extra piece to line the serving platter
1 large (10-ounce) ripe plantain (it should be noticeably soft and yellow splotched with black), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 small red onion, sliced into rings 1/8 inch thick
2 limes, cut into wedges

Fill a microwaveable measuring cup with 3/4 cup water. Add the piloncillo (or brown sugar) and microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove and let stand until piloncillo dissolves, about 5 minutes. (The brown sugar will dissolve more quickly.)

Roast the chiles over an open flame or 4-inches below a preheated broiler until blackened and blistered all over. Place in a bowl and cover with a kitchen towel and let cool until handleable. One by one, clean the chiles: Cut off the stem-end, slit down the side from seed pod to point, and open out flat. Gently scrape out the seeds and discard. Flip the chile over and, scrape off the blistered skin. Cut the cleaned chile flesh into 1/2-inch slices.

In a large (7-quart) Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high. Brown the pork on all sides—it’ll take about 8 minutes—then remove it to a plate. Add the white onion to the pan and cook until richly browned, about 8 minutes. Scrape it into a bow; set the pan aside.

Heat the oven to 325 degrees. If a strip of the hard central rib is still attached to one side of the banana leaf, cut it off with scissors. Then use the leaf to line the unwashed Dutch oven (it will spill over the sides). Lay in the pork. Strew the onions over the pork, followed by chile strips and plantain. Drizzle everything with the piloncillo water. Fold the ends of the leaf in to cover the whole affair, secure the lid and bake until the pork is fork tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Line a warm serving platter with a fresh banana leaf. With the aid of two spatulas, transfer the pork to the platter. Use a pair of tongs to break it into small chunks.

Remove the banana leaves from the pan, scraping any clinging goodness back into the pan. If there is a lot of fat on top of the juices, spoon it off. Taste the juices and season highly with salt. Spoon everything in the pan over the pork. Garnish with red onion rings and lime wedges, and carry to the table, along with plenty of warm tortillas for making very delicious tacos.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A humble dinner of scallops with pasta

It was one of those nights where I really didn't know what to make for dinner. I knew that I had some scallops but I didn't know what I wanted to do with them. I wanted something really simple. I knew that Dr Food was on his way home and hungry.


I poured myself a glass of wine and got started. The scallops were huge so I sliced them in half so that they would cook quickly and not dry out.


Of course I had to have a little music.


I knew the doctor was hungry so I made a little something something for him to eat while I was cooking. Padron's are still going strong in the garden however they are getting hotter and hotter.


Some butter and olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Yeah, it was getting a little brown there but I stopped it in time. I quickly browned the scallops in this mixture.


I cooked some pasta but I didn't get a picture of it because really I was in a hurry to get dinner on the table. I mixed it all together and grated some parmesan on it. Whipped up a salad and we were ready to eat.


There really is no recipe for this other than sauteing some scallops in a little butter and olive oil that has some garlic and red pepper flakes in it. I also added a glug of white wine. Mix with pasta and put some cheese on top. That is all there is to it.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Canning makes me happy


The tomatoes are becoming ripe in the drip method sorta way. One at a time. I am collecting them on my counter and besides just biting into one I don't know what to do with them. Dr Food doesn't eat fresh tomatoes. So, I had enough to can and I decided that if I stopped being lazy and did it I would be so happy in the winter.


Got the water on the burner.


Went into the basement and got some jars.


Peeled and chopped up the tomatoes. Added a little lemon.


There you have it. Summer in a jar. So, gearing up for this weekends Mexican Food Feast for friends I leave you with a really good salsa recipe.

Fire-Roasted Tomato Salsa - Salsa de Molcajete
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Recipe from Season 7 of Mexico - One Plate at a Time

1 to 2 fresh jalapeƱo chiles
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice, preferably fire roasted
1/4 cup (loosely packed) chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1. Roast the chiles and garlic. In a small ungreased skillet over medium heat, roast the chiles and garlic, turning regularly, until they are soft and blotchy brown, about 10 minutes for the chiles, 15 minutes for the garlic. Cool until handleable, then pull the stem(s) off the chile(s) and roughly chop. Peel the skin off the garlic. Scoop into a food processor and pulse until quite finely chopped.

2. Finish the salsa. Add the tomatoes with their juice. Re-cover and pulse until you have a coarse puree. Scrape into a serving dish. Stir in the cilantro and lime juice. Taste and season with salt, usually about 1/2 teaspoon. You’re ready to serve.

Since this post is not all that exciting I leave you with a little entertainment. A Cat in A Hat


I knit it for my Grandbaby to be but it was a bit small. Good size to torture the cat with.

Monday, August 16, 2010

I am freaking out but here is a good lamb recipe...


I have to say that when I went out to pick vegetables in my garden I was thrilled with what I got. This has been an amazing summer for vegetables. The freaking out part? I realized that stores are selling Halloween stuff. I see a hint of orange on the trees. Worse of all was going to the nursery to get some kale plants and lettuce plants and finding that the nursery had no people and hardly any plants. No luck on any vegetables at all. Freaks me out that the summer is almost over. In the meantime lets take a look before it is too late (and so when there is snow up to my neck I can look back at this and remember that one day the sun will come out again) at my vegetable garden.


Here is my patio. You can see theTopsy Turvy Tree in the background. It is producing lots of tomatoes and basil. Not worth all the work of having to water it EVERY day even when it rains.


How excited was I when Dr. Food came home with a lycee plant that he got from one of his co-workers. I can't tell you how excited I am to grow this.


My other "baby" is this Kefir Lime tree. It is doing really well. I hope I can keep it alive once I bring it inside for the winter.


Also have a regular lemon tree. Now remember all this is coming inside in the winter. My house will be like the Little Shop of Horrors.

Out in the raised beds I have a ton of stuff.




Even the lemongrass is growing.


In case you were wondering Shiso grows like a weed.


Padron peppers which we have been eating as fast as they grow.


Wouldn't be my garden without lots of basil.


Blackeyed peas are my favorite!


Chard that I keep taking for dinner. Poor plant.



Lots of tomatoes.

I am very proud of this next picture. It was a ficus tree that was completely dead that my neighbor was going to throw out. I always pretend that I have a green thumb (which I really don't) and told her I would take it and bring it back to life. I guess faking that you know what you are talking about works.


So where is the lamb you ask?

First off let me start off by saying DO NOT BUY THIS WINE. I am sorry if someone brought it to our house as a gift (I don't know where it came from and I don't know why we would have bought it) but wasn't good. Lets just blame it on being corked so that it sounds better.


The lamb recipe was awesome. Nothing fancy but really good. I started off with the lamb chops that were the last thing left of our lamb that we bought last year.


We are waiting for the new lamb that we ordered for this year. I heard that it will be ready soon. Yay!


The recipe starts with slicing lemons (no, the lemons are not from my tree they are from Costco)


The rest of the stuff is mixed together and poured over the lamb to marinate for a while.


Meantime I made my cranberry beans that I picked and chard that I picked (with some spinach that I threw in there).


Grilled the chops and dinner was served.

The recipe came from Rachel Rappaport at Coconut and Lime. She doesn't like you to post the recipe on your own blog. She wants me to link to her site for the recipe. Here it is: Rosemary-Dijon Grilled Lamb Chops

See? I follow the rules.