Thursday, November 10, 2005

Jerk Pork

This was a fantastic 10 minute recipe! I threw it together on my way out the door in the morning. I didn’t even defrost the roast, I just threw it all in the crockpot, and dinner was ready when I got home!

Mise en place

  • 1 med red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut up
  • A handful of baby carrots
  • 1 ½ lb pork roast, boneless
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can black beans (I used ones that said there were ‘Caribbean style’, I guess they had some onions and peppers and a bit of seasonings)
  • Jamaican Jerk Seasoning (I used some stuff I got in Jamaica, but I’m sure you can find a decent Jamaican Jerk spice blend at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods)

Here’s the hard part: throw everything in the crock pot. Season liberally with Jerk spice. Stir it a bit. Put the crock pot on low, and let it simmer all day.
When I got home, I pulled the pork apart, and stirred everything up again. Then I served it over plain white rice. You could serve this with baked sweet potato sticks for a really yummy meal.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Chicken Cacciatore

*The problem with this recipe is that I started with a quart jar full of tomatoes I had just stewed that morning, picked fresh from my garden. I used three or four large yellow heirloom tomatoes. I started with a medium onion and half of a large green bell pepper, diced. I sautéed those until the onion was translucent, then added some fresh ground black pepper, some sea salt, and poured enough white wine vinegar over the lot to get it nice and sizzling. I mixed the sautéed veggies in with the diced tomatoes, threw it all in a quart size jar, and canned them in a water bath for 45 minutes. I guess you could buy canned stewed tomatoes instead.

Mise en Place
  • Chicken, one whole plus a bit, cut up
  • Tomatoes, one quart diced
  • Garlic, a whole damn bulb, crushed
  • Bell Pepper, one large red one, chopped
  • Mushrooms, one pound? (whatever size that Clingfilm-wrapped package is, maybe 12oz), sliced
  • Italian Sausage, 3. I think they were turkey sausage, squoze out of the casing
  • *Stewed tomatoes, one quart, diced

Right, now for the chicken cacciatore.

First I poured the quart of stewed tomatoes into a casserole pan. Ok, that’s not quite true. Before that, I scrounged Dad’s cupboards for some half decent wine and came up with a 2001 Camelot Zinfandel. Not at all bad. I handed the bottle to Trisha to open and asked her to pour a glass for me.

Then I cut up and skinned a whole chicken (plus a sandwich sized ziplock of random chicken Mama had in the freezer), and browned the pieces in an iron skillet. I placed the chicken pieces on the stewed tomatoes as they browned, and refilled my wine glass.

Next, I cut up a large onion and a red bell pepper into largish pieces and set those to sauté in the pan that I had used for the chicken. This served to free up all the yummy brown chicken bits from the pan. Then I added three Italian sausages that I had found in the freezer, defrosted and smooshed out of the casing. Meanwhile, Mama had sliced the mushrooms, which I added to the pan once the onions had become translucent, along with a whole bulb of garlic. Yeah, I started peeling the cloves and got a little buck nutty. Once the mushrooms were wilted I deglazed the pan with some Marsala wine, then dumped in another quart jar of those yellow tomatoes from my garden, only these ones had been canned with just a little salt and nothing else. Refilled wine glass.

I let that simmer for a few minutes to reduce the liquid, then I poured it over the chicken in the casserole pan and put in the oven at 350f degrees for about an hour or an hour and a half. I probably was done after 45 minutes, but my sisters weren’t back from the store yet with the ceasar salad and garlic bread stuff.

Dad raved about the chicken to no end, so I guess the extra time didn’t hurt much.
This recipe served about 8 with a few leftovers.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Giles' Salad, with French Dressing

Giles likes to make these special placed ingredient salads in summer. This salad isn’t tossed; it’s carefully laid out so you can pick and choose the ingredients in your bite. It almost always has bits of seafood, but we’ve made it with thinly sliced steak as well.


Use any or all of the ingredients below. Use your imagination

Fresh mesclun (mixed salad leaves with baby spinach, arugula, endive, escarole, rocket, whatever)
Red onion, thinly sliced
Avocado, sliced
Mushrooms, thinly sliced
Bell pepper, sliced into strips
Carrots, preferably grated
Cherry tomatoes
Boiled egg
Cucumber, sliced thin

Smoked salmon (Giles likes big chunks, I prefer to flake it or use thin cuts)
Shrimp (we found some awesome marinated big shrimp at Whole Foods that was perfect!)

First pile the greens on the plate. Then put piles of other ingredients around the plate.

French Dressing
This was even better than it looks

½ cup ketchup
½ cup white sugar
½ cup white wine vinegar
½ cup vegetable oil
1 large shallot, quartered
1 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Throw it all in the blender, and blend until smooth. Add a bit of water if it comes out too thick, until you get the consistency you like.

Chicken Korma

This was awesome! Giles wanted Chicken Tikka, but I didn’t have the tandoori paste nor did I have the time to marinate the chicken. What I did have, and wanted to use in something, was a fresh bulb of fennel. I read somewhere that this could be used in place of onions on Indian dishes. In this case, I used both.

Mise en place:

6 green cardamom pods, bruised to release the flavor
2" cinnamon stick
6 cloves
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ - ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper powder or pepper flakes
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
1 tablespoon ground coriander

Ginger & Garlic Paste
1 inch cube of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
4-6 garlic cloves, peeled
2-3 tablespoons water

The Meat
1lb chicken breast or thigh fillets, diced.

Other Ingredients
1/2c plain yogurt
1/4c vegetable oil
1 large onion, sliced thin
1 small bulb of fresh fennel, stems removed and sliced thin
1c chicken stock (or warm water)
½ c roasted unsalted cashew pieces
A pinch of saffron threads
¼ c heavy cream
½ teaspoon garam masala
salt to taste

  1. Put the chicken into a large ziplock bag. Whisk the yoghurt (this prevents curdling during cooking) then add with chicken in the bag. Set aside for 15-20 minutes.

  2. Make the ginger & garlic paste by blending the ginger and garlic together in a food processor with a little water until it is a puree.

  3. Heat the oil over a low heat and add the cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. Let them sizzle for 25-30 seconds and add the onions and fennel. Increase the heat to medium and fry until they soften (~10 minutes).

  4. Add the ginger & garlic paste and fry for another couple of minutes.

  5. Add the remaining spices and fry gently for about a minute.

  6. Add the chicken and increase the heat to medium high. Stir until the chicken is opaque. pour in the stock or water, cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.

  7. Meanwhile, put the cashews and saffron in a blender and add the cream. Blend until smooth and add to the chicken.

  8. Add the garam masala and cook, uncovered, for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Creamy Bacon Ranch Dressing

I'm done with store-bought dressings. The ones I make are better, and don't have anything weird in them. Like propylene glycol alginate, and acesulfame potassium. And phosphoric acid. Swear to god, that's on the list of ingredients for Kraft salad dressing, right before 'natural flavoring'.

So anyway, here's my creamy bacon ranch dressing, which doesn't actually contain bacon.

Blend together:
1/2c low/non fat yogurt
1/4 med onion
1 or 2 cloves garlic
a handful of fresh parsley
2 Tblsp red wine vinegar
heaping spoonful of fresh ground pepper
sprinkle sea salt, to taste
teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons sundried tomatoes in oil, minus the oil

After blending, check the consistency. It should pour. If it doesn't, add some milk (full fat, half & half, nonfat, whaaaaaaaatevah) until it's nice and creamy and pours. Personally, I prefer it thinner than thicker, but y'know, to each his own here.

Ok, if you really wanna, you can add in some bacon. To be honest, it doesn't really change the taste--the sundried tomatoes, vinegar, and sugar kind of already give it this bbq ranch western kinda flavor.

You can also add blue cheese and omit the sundried tomatoes.

Make up your own

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Creamy Margarita Chicken

I love to get my food drunk. One of my favorite marinades is a good stiff margarita, with a little salt & chili powder thrown in. That’s pretty much it. I mix it up, pour enough over the meat to cover it, and then I get to drink the rest.

Last night Giles wanted Margarita Grilled Chicken, but I wanted to jazz it up a bit, so I made a sauce to go along with. Came out pretty glorious. The recipe below is for 4.

Mise en place:
Margarita: 1 part triple sec, 1 part tequila, 2 parts sweet & sour, fresh lime juice
Salt & Pepper, crushed garlic—to taste
4 chicken breasts, one for each person
1 onion, sliced into strips
A few cloves of garlic, crushed
2 red bell peppers, sliced into strips
1 large or 2 medium fresh diced tomatoes
1 can of dice green chilies, the small 8oz one
1/2c Sour cream
Cheese (jack or something more interesting that’s still semi-soft)


Prepare the marinade about an hour ahead of time. You definitely don’t need more than about an hour; the flavor permeates pretty quickly. Put chicken breasts in a gallon-sized ziplock bag and pour in enough margarita to cover the chicken. Add chili powder, s&p, and if you like, a little crushed garlic. Press the air out of the ziplock bag and seal it. Place it in the fridge for about an hour, turning it over occasionally. Pour the rest of the margarita into a salt-rimmed glass filled with ice and a straw, and drink.

Take a break now. Finish that margarita with some chips & salsa. Once you feel pretty relaxed, sauté those onions and bell peppers over low heat until the edges of the onions begin to caramelize. Throw in the diced green chilies, crushed garlic, and tomatoes, give it a good stir, and let it simmer on low for a bit.

It’s about time to get the grill fired up for those chicken breasts. Take the ziplock bag out of the fridge, and pour off some of the marinade into your onions & peppers. Let that stuff simmer for a bit while you get the chicken ready.

Grill that chicken totally naked for a few minutes on each side. While that’s going, it’s time to put the finishing touches on the sauce.

Take the veggies off the stove, and add 1/2c of sour cream. Put it back on the stove and simmer on very low heat, stirring often. Stir in a couple of handfuls of grated cheese, then make a thin white roux to bind the cheese, and add to the sauce. Mind that you don’t add too much—the consistency should be creamy & cheesy, not thick and globby.

When your chicken is ready, put some sauce on the plate, then top it with the grilled chicken (you can slice the breast or leave it whole, your choice). Serve with rice or pasta (or just greens, if you’re kind of anti-carb and all).

If you think this is good, you should try my Mojito Chicken with black beans ;)

Monday, September 19, 2005

Awesome Scallop (Gumbo?)

Speakin of soups, I made this the other night & think it has the potential to be repeated. I'm calling it a gumbo because it has that spicy, brothy, lick-the-bowl kinda taste.

It's another quick one. It was thrown together in less than 20min. That's the cool thing about fish. short cookin time. Also, no really firm veggies to soften up.

This recipe is for two. I am also a recovering cooktoomuchaholic.
First the base. Always start soup with a pan full of love. This time I used:

-1 big handful of Basil, roughly chopped
-1 small yellow onion, diced
-4 cloves of garlic, minced
-1 small green bell pepper, diced
-Dash of dried oregano
-S&P of course

(This is what I had on hand. You could use some zukes or other mild squash too I think)

Saute' in 1/2 EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) 1/2 Butter. I like mixing the two for flavor & cookability factor. Yes, I just made that phrase up -Copyright Jay Madison 2005

So I let em get soft & yummy -only a couple minutes.
Dumped in a bag of frozen Bay Scallops (the little kind) about 12oz I think.

Now what? Soups need a starch of some kind. Always. Rice, Potatos, Noodles, Beans, whatever. What about Cream of Broccoli & French Onion? Shame on you. We're talking about a meal here. Yeah you can do that, but if your gonna call that my dinner, you'd better have a lot of bread on the side. Oh! Look at that, more starch! Funny how that works.

So where was I? So Michele is on this low carb diet & rice would be really good in this. I opt for pinto beans. Better for a person on a low carb diet? Who knows but it sounds good.

-1 can of Pinto Beans
-1 cup of White wine

Stirr it around. Yes, two 'r's cuz it has to go around more than once. Spinkle the top with grated parmesian & a good dash of cayenne pepper & cover. Let it simmer for like three minutes. Seriously, that's it. Don't overcook scallops or you'll be eating superballs for dinner.

The whole thing took about 20 minutes & was so good that you'd better double this recipe if your cooking for two.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Really Quick, Totally Homemade Vegetable Beef Soup

I love making soup. Soup is yummy and healthy and a good way to use up leftovers (don't tell Giles). It doesn't even take long, and although there are some soups I like to leave cooking in a crockpot all day, most only take about an hour.

I get in trouble a lot when I cook too much and there are leftovers. I'm really trying to amend my evil ways, and come up with strategies to make 'JUST enough' food. Keeping that in mind, I try to measure about a cup of veggies per person, plus a bit for seconds. Since I prepared this for the four of us, I used a 4 quart pan, and just planned to fill it about 1/4 full of veggies before adding the broth.

I make a lot of different variations on my vegetable soup. Tonight, I decided to use fresh pico de gallo as a base, so I also got some 'southwest' veggies to add to it in keeping with the theme.

  • fresh pico de gallo from Safeway (I love cooking with this stuff, so convenient!)
  • frozen peas & carrots
  • frozen chopped spinach
  • frozen green beans (the normal kind, NOT the french-cut kind)
  • frozen 'southwest mix' (corn, red & green bell peppers, and black beans)
  • diced leftover beef from last Thursday's italian smothered steak dinner
  • brown rice (works with the southwest theme, and rory's allergies) Note: I used precooked rice! Use half my quantity for uncooked, and simmer soup for at least an hour. If using uncooked rice, you shouldn't have to thicken the broth at the end.
  • Beef broth
  • Heated up the 4-quart saucepan, then added some vegetable oil. Once hot, I added in the entirety of the smallest package of pico de gallo that they had at Safeway. Onions and tomatoes both cook down a lot, so I don't count them in the 1c/person vegetable count.
  • Once the onions were clear and the tomatoes started to get mushy and caramelize, I added in the veggies in equal proportions until the pot was about 1/4 full. I let those saute for a few minutes, then added in the diced beef. I added rice until the pan was about 1/2 full, then finally added the beef broth to within an inch of the top of the pan.
  • After adding the broth, it was just a matter of letting it simmer for a while. While it was simmering, I got a wild hair to make some biscuits. You know, like the ones at KFC. I googled for 'best biscuits' and used a recipe that seemed pretty plausible, but I still ended up making hockey pucks. Ok, so my biscuits suck, but my soup rocks.
  • I didn't even have to add any additional seasonings or salt--between the pico de gallo and the leftover beef, there was already plenty of seasoning, and the broth was salted. A few turns of the pepper grinder were all that was needed. I did, however, need to add just a wee bit of cornstarch to thicken the soup. After it's been simmering for about 30 minutes, I make a thin cornstarch paste with 1/2c water and a good spoonful of cornstarch. I add it to the soup just a bit at a time, stirring constantly, until the broth is about as thick as milk.
  • After about 60 minutes, the soup was ready and it rocked.

Cochinita Pibil

Here’s the email I posted back to the chef who gave me the recipe:

Ok, so we made this for my little nephew's first birthday (which I suppose was more an excuse for us adults to get together than it was for the kids ;) ) and it turned out FANTASTIC!

We used a paste of achiote seed, cumin, oregano, pepper, allspice, chile seco, salt, garlic, and OJ then coated a couple of pork butt roasts. My brother hacked off a couple of banana leaves that hung over his fence from his next door neighbor, then we kinda seared those over his bbq and removed the spine, and ended up with perfectly pliable leaves to wrap the pork in. After we tied the roasts up using some strips off the extra leaves, we put them in gallon-sized ziplock bags with a marinade made of leftover paste, oj, grapefruit juice, and lemon juice. The marinade kinda soaked in through the leaves and added a bit more flavor overnight, I think.

The next day we slow roasted the two roasts still wrapped in the banana leaves for about 3 hours or so. When we opened them up, the meat just fell off the bone. We served it that day with warm corn tortillas, queso fresco, and a variety of salsas (best one for this was just onion with habaneros and a splash of oj).

The best, tho, was the day after. We had quite a bit of leftovers, and it was the first day of regular season football. We completely shredded the remaining meat and rolled it into what was left of the six thousand corn tortillas that my brother had bought at Costco, and made the world's greatest taquitos ever. Half a case of avocados, a gallon of sour cream, all the remaining salsas and a few cases of corona later, and not a single scrap of the cochinita pibil was left.