Saturday, July 14, 2018

Easy Carnitas (Double-Cooked Pork)

First prepared May, 2016. A simple method to prepare a flavorsome main dish or an ingredient in another.
2 lbs boneless pork shoulder or country-style ribs
1 t salt
Cut pork into 1/2 inch pieces. Put meat and salt in a cold Dutch oven and barely cover with water. Bring to a gentle boil and cook covered over medium heat for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking with occasional stirring until all the water evaporates and the meat begins to sizzle in its fat. Continue cooking until browned and crisp. Drain and set aside. Serve as part of a meal with rice, beans, salsa, and tortillas or in a taco with toppings of your choice.

Chinese Stock Base

Developed October, 2015. Often in Chinese cooking a flavorsome, complex stock is used to finish a stir fry dish in the wok, prepare sauces, or serve as a light broth with a few petals of tender napa cabbage.
1 qt water
2 t soy sauce
1 t fish sauce
1 t rice wine
1 t dark sesame oil
2 T chicken base
1/2 t salt
1 t sugar
1 inch fresh ginger root, split and crushed
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 green onions, cut in large pieces
Place ingredients in a two-quart saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil, cover, lower heat and simmer 30 minutes. Let cool off heat, still covered, and strain out solids through a sieve. Store cold in a covered container or freeze in small amounts in plastic bags

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Hint: Freeze Tomato Paste in Recipe-Sized Portions

Tomato paste provides a rich base of umami flavor and healthful nutrients to many dishes. Heated with oil at the start of a sauté, it imparts color and flavor to the pan sauce or soup.The usual dish calls for a tablespoon or two, leaving the problem of how to store the remainder of the can's contents. To handle that problem, we divide the contents into 1 ounce (~30 gram) portions, using a #30 disher ('ice cream scoop'). This size scoop is called a '#30 disher' because it was designed to dish out 30 scoops from a quart of ice cream. They are available online for a few dollars. Each scoop of tomato paste is deposited into the corner of a Z-fold plastic sandwich bag, twisted closed, and individually frozen, then bagged. When needed, just the right amount of tomato paste, easily pops from its bag, ready for cooking. It thaws quickly, as the pan heats.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Hint: Save space when storing eggs

We love hens eggs and eat and use quite a few every week in our home. To save money and for convenience, we buy packs that hold 18 eggs. In our markets, the egg cartons are made of foamed plastic or pulpboard. Our practice is store the eggs in a refrigerator below 40 degrees F to preserve product quality. This puts a premium on the lowest and thus coldest shelf space. To make it easier to store and handle the eggs, we cut the package in half, using a serrated knife. After eggs have been removed, the remaining eggs can be re-arranged to balance the container to make it easier to handle.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Banana-Walnut Bread

Developed September, 2017. Modified from an online recipe to eliminate the traditional dry-ingredient step.
2 eggs
1 c sugar
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1 t salt
4 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 t vanilla
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 t cinnamon
2 c flour
1/3 c chopped toasted walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar. Whisk in baking soda, baking powder, salt, the bananas, vanilla, oil and cinnamon. Blend in the flour, a half-cup at a time, until just combined. Stir in nuts. Pour the batter into a greased 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Bake for about 1 hour, until a toothpick comes out clean. Yields a 2.2 pound (1.0 kg) loaf. Store refrigerated. Variation: Toast slices and spread with cream cheese.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Blackened Baby Bok Choy

This easy, quick side dish for many rich main courses uses immature Asian cabbages. It's quick, tasty, and complex in flavor.
4 heads baby bok choy
2 t vegetable oil
1 t dark sesame oil
2 t dark soy sauce
1 t mushroom soy
1 t rice wine
1 T water
Heat vegetable oil in a stainless-steel skillet on medium high until it shimmers. Cut heads lengthwise, rinse, and dry. Place cabbages cut side down, and cook 3 to 4 minutes until well colored. Turn over, add seasonings and water, cover, and steam a few minutes until tender.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Peruvian Rice

Developed April, 2018 from a recipe in a English-language Peruvian cookbook by Gastón Acurio.
2 c rice
3-1/2 c water
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 T salt
3 T vegetable oil
In a medium saucepan, heat two tablespoons of oil until hot. Add the garlic, and cook until lightly colored and aromatic. Add the water and salt, and bring to a boil. Cook for five minutes, add the rice, stir, reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook 15 minutes. Drizzle on the remaining oil and fluff with a fork. Cover and let steam ten minutes before serving. Serves 4 to 8. Variation: Add 1/4 cup of Thai fried onions or shallots to the cooking water.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Microwave Poached Egg

Developed March, 2018 when the stove-top range was out of service.
1 large egg
1 c (240 ml) water
1 t (5 ml) white vinegar
1 oz (30 g) sliced ham
toasted, buttered English muffin
Put water and vinegar in a microwave-safe bowl. Choose a bowl in which the egg will be covered, about 12 ounce (350 ml) capacity. Place bowl on a plate for safe handling. Cover and microwave on high until the water boils. Carefully break the egg into the hot water. Cover, let stand for 30 seconds, and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Check if the whites are firm. Continue as needed in 15 second increments. Lift carefully from hot water with a slotted spoon, blot gently with a clean towel, and place on a buttered toasted English muffin topped with a slice of warm ham (optional). Season to taste with salt and pepper. [Note: Microwave oven is rated 1250 watts.]

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Oven-Braised Beef Chuck Ribs

Beef Chuck Ribs with Egg Noodles
Developed January, 2018. This hard-to-find cut sits next to the short ribs. Although it is less expensive it is just as flavorsome. In this recipe, a homemade BBQ sauce furnishes the braising liquid.
2 4-rib racks beef chuck ribs
1 c Durham-Style BBQ sauce
GP seasoning and rub
8 oz egg noodles
Preheat oven to 325 F. Rinse and dry the meat. Trim away any loose fat or tissues and cut into two-rib sections.  Season both sides generously (1 tablespoon per pound) and place into a dutch oven. Pour the sauce over the meat, turning with tongs to cover. Roast covered, turning occasionally, until meat is fork tender, about 3 hours. Boil the noodles for two minutes less than package calls for. Drain the noodles, stir them into the pot, and return to the oven for 10 minutes to absorb flavor and finish cooking. Serves four. Sauteed spinach makes a good side. Variation: Include par-boiled green cabbage wedges with the noodles. Extend cooking time as needed until they are tender.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Pork Congee

Congee (often called 'jook') is unfamiliar to most Western diners but is a staple dish in China, often eaten for breakfast. Akin to Cream of Rice in texture, it's a warm, aromatic, easy-to-digest, satisfying 'comfort' food.  This version was developed in January 2018 from a recipe at SeriousEats.Com.
1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 t minced fresh ginger root
1/2 t minced garlic
1 t shaoxing wine
1/4 t kosher salt
1/4 t sugar
1/2 t soy sauce
1/4 t sodium bicarbonate
1-1/2 t cornstarch
2 t vegetable oil

5 c water
1/2 c medium-grain rice, rinsed and drained
1-1/2 t kosher salt

1 c corn kernels, canned, frozen and thawed, or fresh-cut
2 scallions, sliced across
In a bowl, combine the first 10 ingredients. Mix well and set aside. In a three-quart saucepan, combine water, rice, and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Cook gently for 60 minutes, stirring occasionally. The congee should look creamy. Add the pork mixture to the congee, breaking apart the meat, and simmer with stirring with the lid off until the pork is cooked, about 10 minutes. Off heat, stir in the corn and adjust seasoning. Serve immediately, topped with chopped scallions.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Stuffing for Roast Turkey

Recorded November, 2015. A Family Favorite over many generations for Thanksgiving or any other holiday dinner. This recipe will stuff a 12 to 14 pound bird.
24 oz loaf hearty white sandwich bread (Arnold’s Country White™ is good)
1/2 c soft margarine or butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 rib celery, diced
4 oz mushrooms, chopped
2 sprigs of fresh thyme or 2 t dry
about 3/4 c turkey or chicken stock
salt and freshly-ground pepper
Cube and toast the bread according to the method described here, and set aside in a large bowl. In a large skillet, melt fat over medium heat. Add vegetables and thyme, and sauté gently until tender; remove thyme. When vegetables and bread are cool, combine them. Add stock by the half-cupful, tossing gently after each addition until mixture is moist but still a bit dry since it will pick up moisture during roasting. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pack stuffing loosely into front and rear cavities and close with pins and butcher's twine.

Gravimetric Lemonade

Developed May, 2014. This recipe uses a 11-fold dilution for a bright pucker and distinct lemon flavor. No need to dirty measuring cups and spoons if your kitchen is equipped with a fast digital platform scale. Simply weigh the ingredients as you add them. Use the gram setting to keep it simple. For example, to figure out what half of 1-3/4 ounce is, is tough, but half of 50 grams is easy.
40 g lemon juice
25 to 50 g sugar, depending on taste
400 g water
Weigh the water, lemon juice, and 25 grams of sugar into a suitable container set (tared) to zero and stir to dissolve. Taste for sweetness and add sugar as needed. Serve over ice in a tall glass. Serves 1 or 2.

Crispy Batter for Fish, Chicken, or Vegetables

Developed August, 2017 from online examples. In hot oil, the batter puffs up and turns crispy and light, somewhat like a tempura batter. It works well for fish fillets or chicken strips, but is also good for vegetables such as mushrooms, green onions, onion rings. The water can be replaced with a lager or ale if desired.
3/4 c self-rising flour (White Lily™ is good)
1/4 c corn starch
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t baking powder
2 t kosher salt
1 t sugar
1/2 t onion powder
1/1 t paprika
1/4 t garlic powder
3/4 c ice-cold water
Whisk dry ingredients together in a bowl. Gently stir in liquid until smooth, let stand 10 minutes, and add additional liquid if needed. The consistency is correct when batter streams off the whisk without leaving a trail. Preheat 48 ounces of vegetable oil in a three-quart saucepan to 375 F (190 C). Dip fish, chicken, or vegetable pieces until completely covered, drain briefly, and add to hot fat. Cook small batches (about 1/3 pound) until lightly browned, remove with a spider or slotted spoon to drain, and keep warm in 200 F (90 C) oven. Offer lemon wedges and tartar sauce.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Five-Spice Braised Chicken Wings

Developed by Ben in March, 2013. Slow braising in a flavorsome Asian-style sauce creates a finger-licking dish.
12 wings, cut into segments, discard tips
about 2 t five-spice powder
about 2 T corn starch
2 T vegetable oil, divided
1/2 c soy sauce
1/2 c rice wine
1/2 c water
4 T Shao Shing rice wine
4 T oyster sauce
6 T sugar
chili sauce to taste (optional)
2 sliced scallions (garnish)
Wash and dry wing segments. Toss with five-spice powder to lightly cover the wings, and set aside for 30 minutes. Sprinkle lightly with corn starch, and toss to coat. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium, and brown the wings on both sides. Do not the crowd pan. You may need to fry two batches. Mix the sauce ingredients. Combine both batches in the skillet and pour sauce over the wings. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Uncover and gently simmer, occasionally turning the wings until sauce thickens and glazes the wings. Garnish with scallions and serve with steamed rice. Variation: Serve as small-plate appetizers without rice.

Fried Waffle

Developed December, 2017. Crisping the waffle in oil and topping with peanut butter and fruit sauce makes a quick, nourishing breakfast or brunch dish.
1 thick frozen waffle (Eggo™ Thick and Fluffy is good)
1 T vegetable oil
2 T peanut butter
2 T berry sauce (e.g., raspberry)
Defrost the waffle at room temperature. Heat the oil in a small non-stick skillet until about 375 F (190 C). Add the waffle carefully and fry for one minute, flip, and fry one minute more. The waffle should be crisp and lightly-browned on both sides. Remove to a plate, spread with peanut butter, and top with fruit sauce. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Grilled Fontina on Tuscan Bread

First prepared September, 2009. Tuscan-style bread, due to the absence of salt to tame the yeast, has large gas bubbles. The melted cheese oozes through these openings and browns and crisps when it contacts the hot griddle, creating a special flavor and texture. A savory roasted garlic spread and extra-virgin olive oil add to the experience.
2 slices Tuscan-style bread (Trader Joe is good)
2 T roasted garlic spread
2 oz Fontina cheese slices
about 1 oz extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat a 10-inch non-stick skillet over medium high. Cover both inner surfaces of the bread with the garlic spread. Brush olive oil on the outside of one slice, and place oil side down in the skillet. Layer the cheese slices on that slice, position the second slice on top and brush it with oil. Press down firmly with a spatula as the sandwich cooks. When crispy and lightly colored on the first side, turn and cook the second, pressing firmly as it cooks.  (Note: Tuscan bread has no sugar and thus doesn't readily caramelize.)

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

No-Flip Frittata

Developed May, 2017. A frittata makes for a fast, easy, and economical meal combining eggs with leftover dressed pasta. It's especially well suited for brunch. In this ’no-flip’ approach, the awkward step of flipping the half-cooked frittata is eliminated by first cooking the bottom on the stove top and then finish the top under the oven broiler.
5 large eggs
3 T (50 ml) olive oil
20 oz (560 g) leftover dressed pasta 
1/2 c (125 ml) grated parmesan cheese 
1 t (5 ml) salt
1/2 t (3 ml) ground black pepper
In a large bowl, beat the eggs well, add the salt and pepper, and stir in the pasta. Heat the oil in an oven-proof nonstick 10-inch skillet on medium, and when hot, pour in the egg-pasta mixture. Chop the pasta into somewhat smaller pieces with a spatula. Cook without stirring until the frittata is cooked on the bottom (lift to see) and becomes firm near the top, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle on the cheese and put the skillet about 8 inches below a preheated broiler. Broil until top is browned and bubbling, a few minutes. Serves four generously. Pair with a green salad on the side.

Freshly Pickled Radishes

Developed December, 2017. A tangy, colorful garnish to a salad plate, appetizer, or mezze platter, or to put a tangy crunch in sandwich.
4 oz (115 g) large red radishes
1/2 c rice vinegar
1/2 c water
2 t kosher salt
1 T + 1 t granulated sugar
Thinly slice large red radishes into rounds and place into a tightly-closing container. Combine the other ingredients and pour over the radishes. Close and refrigerate at least two hours. Keeps well.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Hint: Double Dose Some Herbs

When using herbs in a dish, it's often not clear when they should be added. I find that most herbs are fine to add at the beginning, such as black pepper or dry thyme, some in the middle to bloom them in hot oil, but that some, such as fresh basil, should be added last and not cooked at all. Some benefit from a double dose, added at first but then given a second addition to refresh the flavor shortly before serving. I include dry thyme and dry tarragon among those that respond well to double dosing. This is akin to 'cold hopping' in brewing where an addition of new hops is made to the cold wort before fermenting and aging.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Pork Shoulder Braised with Apples and Onions

Developed December, 2017. A hearty roast that pairs pork with apples, onions, and warm spices to yield a dish with complex flavors, sweet, savory, and aromatic.
6 lb pork shoulder, bone in
6 T General Purpose Dry Rub
vegetable oil
2 medium apples, cored, cut into wedges
2 medium onions, sliced through poles
2 t dry thyme
1 t fennel seed

1 t ground coriander
1 t ground cumin
2 bay leaves
1 t ground black pepper
1 T brown sugar (if apples are tart)
3/4 c white wine
about 1-1/2 c chicken stock
Score fat cap on 1/2 inch grid, after cutting off excess. Work dry rub well into all sides of the roast. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate 8 to 24 hours. Blot dry, and brown well on all sides in oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Remove and cover to keep warm. Preheat oven to 325 f (160 C). Add sliced onions and apples to the pan, adding more oil if needed. Cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the seasonings, and when fragrant, add white wine and reduce by two-thirds. Return meat to pot, add stock to half cover the roast. Cover the pot, bring to a simmer, and transfer to the oven on a middle shelf. Baste occasionally, and roast until "fall off the bone" tender, about 2-1/2 hours. Internal temperature will be about 210 F (about 98 C). Tent the roast with aluminum foil and set aside to cool. To prepare the pan gravy, strain out the apples and onion and return  with de-fatted pan juices to the roasting pan. Use an immersion blender to turn into a smooth natural gravy. When the roast is cool, carve out the bone (shoulder blade). Cut the de-boned roast across the grain into thick slices. Serve with pan gravy. Steamed rice, turnip greens, roasted vegetables, and braised cabbage make good sides.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Green Bean and Potato Sauté

Developed November, 2017. This is the ideal 'green vegetable + starch' side dish. Based on pantry ingredients, it's easy, quick, and cheap.
1 39-oz can green beans and whole potatoes (Hanover™ brand is good)
1/4 c shallots, thinly sliced
2 to 3 T chicken fat or other fat such as bacon, butter, or olive oil
1 t paprika
Heat the fat in a 10-inch nonstick skillet until bubbling. Add the shallots and salt lightly. Fry with frequent stirring until soft but not colored. Drain the vegetables thoroughly, reserving the pack liquid. Add the green beans to the skillet, separate from the potatoes. As the beans are cooking, slice the potatoes thinly. After about five minutes, add the potatoes, season with paprika and salt, and continue cooking. After 10 minutes, add the reserved liquid bit by bit until about half has been added. Cook with frequent turning until most of the liquid has been lost and a pan sauce forms. Serves 3 to 4.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Steamed Broccoli

The steaming method produces a tender, bright-green product but avoids a water-logged, mushy vegetable that can easily result when boiling is used.
10 oz (300 g) fresh broccoli
2 T (30 ml) low-fat margarine or butter
1 t (5 ml) salt
2 T (30 ml) lemon juice
Trim away the tough base and cut the broccoli into bite-sized pieces. Place in a shallow bowl and top with salt, lemon juice, and the fat. Place into a steamer, cover tightly, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, testing for doneness when the tip of a paring knife penetrates easily. Toss to distribute the flavorings and serve in the bowl it was steamed in.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Corned-Beef Style Boiled Vegetables

Developed March, 2017. Unlike the traditional boiling method, when steam is used to cook corned beef, there may be little flavorsome stock in which to cook the accompanying vegetables. This recipe solves the problem by first creating a stock with beef base and the appropriate spices. Another approach was described earler.
2 qt water
1 T beef stock concentrate (Better than Bouillon™ is good)
2 T kosher salt
1/2 T brown sugar
Put the following in a large tea ball or wrap in cheese cloth.
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 bay leaves
2 allspice berries
1 t peppercorns
1 t coriander seeds
1 lb yellow potatoes, quartered lengthwise
10 oz (four medium) carrots, peeled, split lengthwise
1-1/2 lb (1/2 head) green cabbage, quartered through the core
8 oz frozen pearl onions, thawed
Bring water, concentrate, salt, and sugar to a slow boil, with stirring. Add the seasonings and simmer 10 minutes to form a cooking stock. Add potatoes, cabbage, and carrots. Cook at a fast simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Add the onions and heat through. Rewarm corned beef slices in the stock and serve in bowls. Variation: Replace or supplement the corned beef with lengths of Polish sausage.

Easy Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin spice does its best work in this moist, rich sweet bread. Recipe from a family friend from 30 years ago.
1 29 oz can pumpkin
4 beaten eggs
3 c sugar
1 c oil
3-1/2 c flour
2 t salt
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/2 t ground clove
1 t ground all spice
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t ground nutmeg
about 2/3 c water
1-1/2 cups chopped roasted walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 F. In large bowl, beat eggs, stir in pumpkin, sugar, and oil in sequence, mixing well after each addition. Sift dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture and stir until smooth. Stir in water and mix in nuts. Distribute batter into 3 well-greased large loaf pans. Bake 55 to 60 minutes. A toothpick inserted in middle will come out clean when done. Keeps and freezes well. Very good toasted and topped with cream cheese. Yield: 3 large loaves.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Paleo Brine

The term 'paleo' in the title is meant to indicate cooking practices of early humans and, also likely, our pre-human precursors. Early cooks discovered the benefits of 'brining' their food before cooking it, better flavor and moistness. The simplest marinade is sea water. The term 'marine' can be seen as the origin of the word 'marinade'. This recipe approximates the salinity of seawater, namely 3.5% or 35 grams per 1000 milliliters. This may be prepared using a digital kitchen scale or by volume measure by standardizing on a particular salt product.
35 g or 1/4 c Diamond Crystal™ Kosher salt 
1000 g or 1 qt water
Dissolve the salt in the water in a large bowl with stirring. Soak the food item for 10 minutes to several hours depending on thickness and texture. Drain and pat dry if frying will be used. Only use pepper to season.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Lemon Orzo Pilaf

Developed August, 2017 in response to a dreadful recipe in a local supermarket ad. Although orzo masquerades as a grain, it is a small rice-shaped form of pasta that is often cooked much like rice.
1/4 c shallots, finely chopped
3 T olive oil, divided
8 oz orzo
1-3/4 c hot stock (chicken, seafood, or vegetable)
1 t salt
1 t sumac (optional)
1 t minced garlic
1 t dry tarragon
1 T (or 2) lemon juice (use 2 T, if sumac is not used)
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots, salt lightly, and cook until lightly browned. Add the orzo and another tablespoon of oil and cook until the orzo is opaque and lightly colored. Stir in the garlic, salt, sumac, and the stock. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Fluff, stir in the lemon juice, the cheese, the remaining oil, and the tarragon. Serves four.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Steel Cut Oats with Roasted Walnuts and Golden Raisins

Steel cut oats have a firmer texture and require longer cooking than rolled oats. This recipe is modified from an Alton Brown recipe on Food Network, broadcast in 2008.
1 T butter
1 c steel cut oats
3 c boiling water
1/2 c milk
1/2 c buttermilk
1/2 t salt
2 T brown sugar
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 c ground roasted walnuts
1/4 c golden raisins
In a large saucepan, melt the butter and when sizzling stops, add the oats. Stir for a few minutes to toast. Stir in the boiling water, salt, milk, and half the buttermilk. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 30 minutes, without stirring. Stir in the raisins, nuts, the reserved buttermilk and let stand covered for 10 minutes off heat. Garnish each serving with a few chopped nuts or a pinch of cinnamon. Serves 4 generously.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Arroz con Pollo

Most cuisines have a fondness for their version of chicken and rice, and all are delicious. This approach to the Mexican classic is modifed from Cooks Country TV recipe. Developed September, 2017.
1 c fresh cilantro leaves and stems, chopped
1 c onion, chopped, divided
1 Cubanelle or Anaheim pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped (3/4 cup)
5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 t ground cumin
2 T lemon juice
salt and pepper
3 lbs (about 6 to 8) chicken thighs, trimmed
1 T vegetable oil
1 lb (2 c) medium-grain rice, rinsed
1/2 T ground coriander
1/2 T ground achiote (annatto)
3 c chicken stock
1/4 c pimento-stuffed green olives, halved
2 T capers, rinsed
2  bay leaves
½ c frozen peas, thawed in cold water, drained
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Process cilantro, 1/2 cup onion, Cubanelle, garlic, and cumin in food processor until finely chopped, about 20 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed. Transfer mixture to a bowl. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season well with salt and pepper. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add chicken to pot skin side down and cook without moving it until skin is crispy and golden, 7 to 9 minutes. Flip chicken and continue to cook until golden on second side, 7 to 9 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to plate. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from pot and heat over medium heat until shimmering. Add remaining 1/2 cup onion and cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in rice, coriander, and achiote powder and cook until edges of rice turn translucent. Stir in broth, olives, capers, bay leaves, chopped aromatics, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, scraping up any browned bits. Nestle chicken into pot along with any accumulated juices and bring to vigorous simmer. Cover, transfer to oven, and bake for 20 minutes. Transfer pot to wire rack and let stand, covered, for 15 minutes. Discard bay leaves, fluff rice with fork and stir in peas. Serves 4 to 6.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Marinated Mushrooms

Adapted from an online recipe. Developed July, 2017. Add to salads or serve as part of an appetizer assortment.
8 oz white or brown mushrooms
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar
2 T red onion, finely chopped
1 t garlic, minced
1 t brown sugar
1/4 t dried oregano
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
pinch red pepper flakes
1 small bay leaf
1/2 t salt
Soak and clean the mushrooms. If large, cut in quarters. Boil mushrooms five minutes in salted water and drain thoroughly. In a large bowl, whisk the seasonings together and add the mushrooms. Let marinate an hour at room temperature. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Refrigerate. Serves 4, easily doubled.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Smothered Chicken with Pasta

Developed April, 2017. A hearty skillet meal ready in about an hour.
2.5 lbs chicken thighs, trimmed of excess skin and visible fat
kosher salt
all purpose flour
4 T olive oil, divided
2 T tomato paste
1 medium tomato, chopped finely
6 oz sliced mushrooms
1 medium onion, chopped coarsely
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
2 t dry tarragon, divided
1/4 t red pepper flakes
3/4 c dry white wine
1-1/2 c chicken stock
lemon juice, to taste
1/4 c chopped parsley
1 lb spaghetti, linguine or fettuccine, cooked al dente
reserved pasta water
Season the meat well with salt on both sides, and dust lightly with flour. Heat a 12-inch stainless steel skillet over medium high. Add half the oil. When hot, add the chicken, skin side down. While the meat is browning, prepare the vegetables and seasonings. After about four minutes, turn the chicken and brown the other side. Remove to a plate and cover to keep warm.  Add the remaining oil to the skillet, sauté the tomato paste, tomato, mushrooms, onions, and garlic until lightly browned and soft. Add wine and cook until half gone. Add back the chicken, skin side up, a teaspoon of tarragon, the pepper flakes, and chicken stock to half cover the meat. Bring to a fast simmer, cover and cook until the chicken is done, about 30 minutes. Add lemon juice to taste, about 1 tablespoon and the other teaspoon of tarragon. Discard chicken skin and cut meat from bone. Slice meat and return to pan. Stir in the cooked pasta, adding stock or pasta water as needed. Cook covered until pasta is tender, garnish with parsley, drizzle on olive oil, and serve in warm bowls. Pass Parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Skillet-Baked Blueberry Clafoutis

Adapted from a recipe broadcast on PBS, "Growing a Greener World", the perfect brunch dish combines fresh blueberries in a rich, lemony custard with a caramel crust.
2 T unsalted butter
4 T sugar, divided
5 whole eggs
1 c whole milk
1 t vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon
1/8 t salt
1/2 c all-purpose flour
12 oz blueberries
powdered sugar, optional garnish
Preheat oven to 425°F. In a 10-inch oven-safe, non-stick skillet, combine the butter, with 2 tablespoons sugar and place over medium heat. Meanwhile power whisk the eggs plus the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar on high speed until tripled in volume, and pale, canary yellow in color, about 5 minutes. Then by hand, gradually whisk in the milk, the vanilla extract, lemon zest, salt, and flour until just incorporated. Pour this mixture into the hot pan, top with the blueberries, then transfer into the oven. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown on top, and the clafoutis has puffed up. Remove from the oven, and turn out onto a cutting board. Slice, and top with the optional powdered sugar. Serves 6 generously.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Chicken and Rice, Italian style

Easy to make, satisfying one-pot supper adapted from 
1-1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 medium onion, cut in 1-inch chunks
2 medium carrots, cut in 1-inch chunks
2 ribs celery, cut in 1-inch chunks
2 plump garlic cloves, peeled
1/3 c extra-virgin olive oil
1 T kosher salt, divided
1 bay leaf
1 c dry white wine
5 c hot chicken or turkey stock, plus more if needed
2 c short-grain rice, such as arborio, carnaroli, or paella
2 T butter, cut in pieces
3 T chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for passing
Trim any excess fat from the thighs, and cut into 1-inch chunks. Using a food processor, mince the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic into a fine-textured pestata. Add the oil to a large heavy saucepan, and set over medium-high heat. Stir in the pestata, and season with 1 teaspoon of the salt. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the pestata has dried and begins to stick to the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken pieces and the bay leaf, and the remaining 2 teaspoons salt. Turn the chicken in the pan until browned all over, about 4 minutes. Raise the heat, pour in the white wine, and cook, stirring and scraping up the browned bits in the pan, until the wine has almost completely evaporated. Add the hot stock with stirring, and then all the rice. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover the pan, and reduce the heat to keep the rice bubbling gently. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until both the rice and the chicken chunks are fully cooked and the consistency is creamy. Off heat, remove the bayleaf, stir in the butter pieces vigorously until thoroughly combined, then stir in the parsley and the grated cheese. Serve immediately in pasta bowls, passing additional grated cheese at the table. Serves 4 to 6.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Powdered Sugar

Topping desserts with a dusting of powdered sugar provides an attractive garnish. Making a small supply at home when needed solves the problem when none is on hand. 
1/3 c granulated sugar
1 t corn starch
Place ingredients in an electric spice/coffee grinder. Operate grinder for about 15 seconds until sugar is finely powdered. Store tightly covered at room temperature.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Quick and Easy Bean and Spinach Soup

Developed April, 2017. Seasoned pinto beans serve as the basis of a hardy vegan soup ready in 30 minutes from pantry ingredients. Leftovers make a good breakfast.
1 14.5 oz can rancher style (charro) beans
2 T
tomato paste
1 T olive oil 

16 oz chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t ground coriander

pinch of red pepper flakes
6 oz frozen or fresh leaf spinach
1 t salt
1 t sugar
lemon juice to taste
Heat the oil in a two-quart saucepan. Brown the tomato paste in the oil, add the spices, and cook a few seconds to bloom the flavor. Add the beans and the stock, and cook at a fast simmer over moderate heat with frequent stirring for 20 minutes. Mash the beans with a potato masher. Add the spinach, return to a simmer with stirring for another 8 minutes. Adjust seasoning. Serves 3 to 4. Pair with crusty bread or hot biscuits, for a complete meal. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Poached Chicken

Adapted from Julia Child's original recipe (Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume II). A one-pot supper that is light but satisfying, a Family Favorite for more than 40 years. 
2 breasts with attached ribs plus 4 bone-in thighs, about 4 lbs total
3 T butter
4 large carrots, peeled and cut into large diagonal pieces
1 large white onion, cut through poles into large wedges
3 ribs celery, cut into large diagonal pieces
1 leek, cleaned of soil and sliced across
2 c chicken stock
1 c dry white wine
1 t dry tarragon
salt and pepper
Skin chicken parts and trim away all visible fat. Heat a large heavy pot over medium, and add the butter. When sizzling stops, stir in the vegetables, and saute for five minutes. Add chicken, cover, and turn off heat for 5 minutes. Add stock, wine, and tarragon. Return to a simmer for 45 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over steamed white rice in a deep bowl, along with the vegetables and broth.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Fried Rice with Spring Vegetables

Developed February, 2017. Other tender vegetables such as bean sprouts, sweet pepper, summer squash could be added or substituted based on local markets.
6 oz (175 g) young asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1/2 inch (1.2 cm) lengths
6 oz (175 g) napa cabbage, bottoms trimmed, cut in half lengthwise, and then crosswise into 1/4 inch-wide (3 mm) strips
3 oz (85 g) yellow or white onion, sliced thinly through the poles
2 t (10 ml) garlic, minced
6 cups (1.5 l) steamed white rice, cooled over night
1/2 c (125 ml) frozen peas, thawed in cold water and drained
1 egg beaten with a fat pinch of salt, sugar and a splash of soy sauce (use substitute for vegan or omit)
vegetable oil, as needed
2 green onions, finely sliced 
2 t (10 ml) dark sesame oil
4 to 6 T (60 to 80 ml) soy sauce, to taste
1/2 t (2.5 ml) salt
1 t (5 ml) sugar
Heat a wok over medium heat to about 450 F (230 C). Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Set a kitchen timer to 10 minutes. When oil is hot, add asparagus and salt lightly. Stir fry for 2 minutes. Stir in cabbage, salt lightly, add oil as needed and stir fry 2 minutes. Add onion, fry 2 minutes more. Stir in rice, raise heat, and add a tablespoon of oil around the edge. Stir in seasonings. Fry about four minutes more, turning often, until lightly browned. Stir in peas, and drizzle on egg mixture. Cover and let stand one minute. Fold the egg into the rice. Garnish with the green onions. Serves four as part of a Chinese meal.