Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Three Bean Chili

First prepared December 25, 2009. A Family Favorite and SIGNATURE DISH. A few things distinguish the recipe: Use of three beans, the high meat content, large meat pieces, and low tomato content. Looks pretty, is delicious, and packs a wallop nutritionally. Leftovers don't last long!
1 T vegetable oil
2 lbs lean ground beef 
2 c yellow onions, coarsely diced
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 T ground cumin
1 t Mexican oregano
1/4 t (or more) crushed red pepper flakes
2 T tomato paste
1/2 c dry red wine
1 can each (15 to 19 oz) black, pinto, and cannellini beans, undrained (Goya™ is good)
1 7-oz can chopped green chilies (Ortega™ is good)
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
about 1 c tomato juice (or water) as needed to thin
salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers in a heavy dutch oven. Brown meat, about 8 minutes. Cut it into 1/2 inch lumps as it cooks. Add the onions and garlic. Cook until clear but not brown. Add the herbs and tomato paste, and lightly cook them. Add the wine and reduce until evaporated. Add the tomatoes, chilies, and beans, scrapping the bottom of the pan to release the brown bits. Add the juice (or water) to adjust the thickness. Simmer covered for two hours, gently stirring every 1/2 hour or so. Season to taste. We like some heat but add more red pepper flakes if you prefer hotter. Yields 6 to 8 servings, over steamed rice or boiled spaghetti.
Toppings: finely-chopped sweet or red onion, shredded cheese, sour cream, Louisiana hot sauce, and tomato salsa all step up the taste.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Microwave Rice

Yields a product similar to a rice cooker.
2-1/2 c water
1-1/2 c long grain rice, rinsed and drained
1/2 t salt
Place the ingredients in a deep, microwavable container (e.g., a 46 oz margarine tub). Cover loosely. Microwave (1250 watts) on high until it boils, and then on 20% power for 12 minutes more. Open cautiously. Fluff with a fork. Let stand 10 minutes uncovered to cool and dry. Yields 4 cups (about 800 g).

Baked Flounder and Rice

Conceived and prepared December 23, 2009.
12 oz fresh or frozen and defrosted flounder filets, cut into portions
1 c leeks, julienned
1 medium onion, julienned
1/2 t dry oregano
1/4 t crushed red pepper
2 T each olive oil and butter
1 T capers, rinsed and drained
1 bay leaf
1/4 c Spanish olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/4 c Peppadew® peppers, coarsely chopped (see Note)
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
additonal extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling on filets
2/3 cup chicken stock
4 cups boiled rice (e.g., Microwave Rice)
Heat oil and butter until sizzling in a 10-inch skillet. Add leeks and onions, spices and bay leaf. Cook on medium heat about 10 minutes until softened and beginning to color. Remove the bay leaf. Add the olives, peppers and capers and warm through. Spread the rice in the bottom of a 9 X 13 inch glass baking dish, arrange the fish on top, sprinkle on some olive oil. and distribute the sauteed vegetables over the fish and rice. Squeeze on lemon juice, scatter zest, and pour stock around. Bake uncovered in 300 degree F (150 C) oven for about 40 minutes until fish flakes.
Peppadew® peppers
[Photographer Unknown]
Note From Wiki: Peppadew® is a brand of sweet piquant pepper, a patented cultivar of Capsicum baccatum, grown in the Limpopo province of South Africa. They are sweet, fruity, and pleasantly warm. Sold seeded (to reduce the heat) and lightly pickled. About 1100 Scovill units. They are sold in jars and at food store deli bars. Substitute sweet cherry peppers.

Friday, December 18, 2009

REVIEW Bergama Cafe Durham NC [Closed August, 2013]

Bergama Cafe
3520 Hillsborough Road
Durham NC
(919) 383-0300‎
http://bergamacafe.com/

In a word, delish!
3.5/5 stars - $$ (to use Greg Cox 's shorthand ratings)

Recorded 12-17-09

[After dragging myself to the finish line on a very burdensome writing project last night, I was exhausted, unkempt, grizzled, and hungry. I took son Jon to Tommies for smokes and a Coke, and easily determined we were both hungry, and a Middle Eastern supper at a new neighborhood restaurant was appealing. About 8:30 we were seated. The place was empty. Sad, and so unfitting. They have wonderful food and are lovely and interesting people. He's from Chechnya  and his wife is from Turkey.}

The venue: Was a Burger King for many years on heavily traveled Hillsborough Rd near I-85 and US 15-501. Was converted to a "serious" sit down place a few years ago, and has yet to foster a place for a great restaurant, although the need is real for that part of town.

Me: Dolmas and Roasted Potatoes with vegetable gravy - Excellent $12, including sides. Glass of Sutter Home White Zin, $4.25,
$20 with tax and tip.
Sides Pizza Bread Sticks/herb-seasoned EVOO - V. Good
Salad Bar One Trip - Limited but Excellent

The stuffed cabbage rolls (5 were presented) were lovely, as were the roasted potatoes. The whole was covered with a flavorsome gravy of cooked cabbage, onions, and the pan gravy. The seasonings were subtle, peppery, and aromatic. The salad bar was limited in offerings but all the ingredients were fresh and crisp. Very tasty ranch dressing. The bread sticks were baked from pizza dough, and so were nicely chewy. A plate of flavored oil on the side for dipping was provided. More bread was offered later in the meal. Service was friendly and attentive (we were initially the only diners) although our waitress seemed new and knew little about the menu.

Wine list (on a Corona placard!) is brief and laughable with the odd surprise. Greek vin ordnaire at $8/glass. "Straight from Greece" it says. Where else for Greek wine?

Jon: Gyro platter. Very attractively sliced and folded roast meat, arranged on a bed of grilled pitas. $10.95;
$16.00 with tax and tip. Sides: Bread sticks, salad bar, rice pilaf,  steamed vegetable medley - Jon pronounced it all excellent. He drank ice water. A Best Buy.
 

This place needs some changes to succeed. It would be a shame if tasty ethnic fare doesn't succeed. Bergama needs menu design advice; a better web presence; a better street impact to attract diners from heavy traffic on street. Better wine list. Ethnic clarity of offerings. Pizza? Italian? Greek? Turkish? "Middle Eastern". Menu needs to educate better.

Home Fries

Recorded 2-10-07

2 lbs Russet potatoes, whole
2 tsp salt
1/4 medium onion, blossom-cut into thin pieces
1/8 cup low-fat margarine
1/8 cup canola oil
onion powder, paprika, salt, pepper as seasonings
Put the potatoes in a pot, cover with water, add salt, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a slow boil for 15 minutes. Test with a sharp knife. Potatoes should be part-cooked. Turn off heat and let stand covered 20 minutes. This lets the heat penetrate evenly. Pour off hot water and shock with a few changes of cold water until not too hot to handle. Slip off skins under running cold water, dry, cut in half lengthwise and then crosswise into 1/2 inch slices. Heat fat in a skillet over medium-high heat and add potatoes and onions, and seasonings to taste. Turn every few minutes, taking care not to burn them. They should brown and crisp. Fry about 15 minutes total.

Yields four generous servings. Loaded with calories! Goes well with poached eggs (see recipe).

Perfectly Poached Eggs

Recorded February 2, 2007. Adapted from Julia Child's first TV series on PBS. A family favorite and SIGNATURE DISH.
12 inch non-stick saucepan with 1 1/2 inches water
1 oz white vinegar
2 eggs, at room temperature (freshest possible, USDA grade AA if available)
English muffin split, toasted, and buttered [Thomas™ is best]

Add the vinegar to the water and over medium heat bring to a fast simmer. Crack an egg carefully into a small bowl with a flat edge. Lower the edge the bowl under the water and gently tip the egg into the hot water. Repeat for the other egg. Let them both sit undisturbed in the hot water until the whites begin to set up. Gently loosen with a spatula so they are floating. Spoon hot water over the eggs to help them cook on top. After the whites are set and the yolks are beginning to thicken (about 3 minutes), lift each egg out with a slotted spoon. Blot bottom and top with a clean towel. Put a muffin (or biscuit) half on top of the egg and holding it in place with the free hand, invert and place on the serving plate. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Serves one. May be doubled but don't overcrowd pan. Goes well with a side of home fries.

Eggs Benedetto

Prepared and recorded December 18, 2009. Substitutes prosciutto de Parma for Canadian bacon, and uses a commercial, but authentic, Hollandaise.
Eggs Benedetto with a side of Hash Browns
2 Perfectly Poached Eggs
English muffin, split and well toasted
butter, softened
prepared Hollandaise sauce (Trader Joe™)
1 thin slice prosciutto
Start the muffin toasting and the water boiling. Prepare two poached eggs. Warm the prosciutto in small skillet in a little water to rinse out some salt. Assemble stacks when eggs are done: muffin, lightly buttered; then a small pile of prosciutto; then an egg; top with a generous covering of Hollandaise gently warmed in the microwave.

Brandy Alexander

Recorded December 18, 2009. Made according to the recipe of Merry's mother. First experienced circa 1961 in their living room in Pleasant Ridge, MI, as an annual yuletide wassail.
150 ml (about 5-1/3 oz) each:
cheap but decent domestic brandy (e.g., E&J™, Christian Brothers™)
creme de Cocoa (cheap is fine)
half and half (fresh and sweet)
Gently mix the liquids together in a one-pint bottle and chill before serving or shake with ice to dilute alcohol content and reduce the sweetness. Yields 4 4-ounce servings. Caution: These are not chocolate milk!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Braised Cabbage

Recorded 1-03-07 (at long last)
1 small head of green or red cabbage (about 2-1/2 lbs),
  quartered, cored, and cut into 1 inch pieces

1/3 cup low-fat soft margarine
salt, pepper, paprika
Put cabbage in a large skillet, cover half way with water and salt lightly. Cover and bring to a moderate boil. Boil 8 minutes and drain well in a colander. Return to pan over medium-low heat, add margarine and seasonings to taste. Mix and braise uncovered slowly about 12 to 14 minutes until tender, turning occasionally.

Good as a side to many dishes. Can be added to vegetable soups or used in veggie burritos or added to buttered egg noodles.

Serves 6

Ben's Guacamole

Recorded January 28, 2006. This should be made in a molcajete, a large Mexican mortar and pestle, rough hewn from basalt. Other tools, such as Thai products carved from granite may be suitable but a smooth surface will not work. Buy a molcajete at most any tienda Mexicana that sells groceries. It can be used to make a wide range of salsas and marinades. About $15, or more for a fancy one. Hand-carved lava and last a lifetime — what a value! An alternative approach is described here.

2 ripe Haas avocados
2 cloves garlic
2 jalepeno peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 T whole cumin seed
1 fistful cilantro
juice of 1 lime
1 small red onion finely chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded, chopped and drained

salt to taste

Start with tomatoes to give them time to drain.  Halve avocados, remove pit and scoop out flesh. Place it in a bowl, immediately squeeze lime juice over, stir to coat. Add cumin to molcajete and grind completely.  Repeat with jalepeno, cilantro and garlic in that order (makes it easier). Now add avocado one half at a time.  Mash them completely. As the bowl fills it will become harder to mash effectively. This is OK; it will give the guacamole a more "homemade" texture. If you are making this recipe with more than 2-3 avocados, simply transfer to a bowl and mash the next avocados. Season with salt and residual lime juice to taste. Add the onions and tomatoes. Make sure to get as much juice out of the tomatoes as possible, as it will turn the mixture brown. You can serve right away, but it is better if you give it an hour to meld. Cover with plastic wrap so that there is no air between the dip and the wrap. Serve with chips and limes. Serves 2-6.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Easy Microwave Rice

Recorded 11-23-09

1 cup long-grain rice
1-2/3 cup water
1/2 t salt
Combine ingredients in a deep microwavable container (I use a large margarine tub). Cover loosely (I use an oversize plastic top.) Microwave on the 'Rice' setting of your microwave, or program yours for 6 minutes on high, and 12 minutes on 20 percent power (assuming a 1450 watt oven). Uncover carefully (live steam!) and fluff with a fork before serving. Yields a product similar to a rice cooker but works nicely for small quantities.

Serves 3 to 4.

Quick Apple Compote

Prepared and recorded November 23, 2009. Does nicely as a fruit course for breakfast or brunch.
1 medium apple, peeled, cored and sliced in thin wedges
about 1/2 t sugar
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/4 c apple cider
1/4 t tapioca or corn starch
1 T cream (optional)
Place apples in a glass bowl. Add the other ingredients, and mix well, to disperse the starch and flavorings. Cover with plastic foil, and microwave on high for two minutes. Vent the steam carefully, and turn gently to mix. Microwave uncovered another 1 to 2 minutes, until apples are cooked tender-crisp. Serve warm, topped with cream or half-and-half. Serves 2.
RAVE
Honeycrisp™ apples are fantastic. Named the state fruit of Minnesota in 2006. Sweet, tangy, fruity, crisp, complex, versatile. I just tried them. Should have done sooner! (Fuji, don't worry, I still love you too. And Cortland, where Laura raised her kids.)
NOTE
Zeigler's Cider is excellent. Made in Lansdale, Pennsylania. Always fresh and distinctively applish. Can vary in sweetness during the season.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

DISCLAIMER

All trademarks referred to on this site belong to their registered owners. Their use is solely to indicate our personal preferences among the products available locally. It means nothing else.

Quick Corn and Crab Chowder

Developed November 18, 2009. When DrDaddy was a kid, our mom, Dorothy Magid, would make a simple, quick, and nourishing lunch by mixing a can of creamed corn and a can of milk, heating on the stove and adding a big pat of butter. Yumm. This is my homage to her, the most wonderful mother I ever had, and, as a bonus, a quick knockoff of a favorite Chinese banquet dish, Corn Velvet Chowder with Crab Meat. An early summer treat when the feed corn is "in the cream", only available for a few days before the crop matures and coarsens.
1 14-1/2 oz can creamed corn
1 can of 2% milk
1 T butter
4-1/2 oz canned crab meat
2 scallions, green and white parts, finely sliced across
1 t salt
freshly-ground pepper, to taste
2 T dry sherry
2 T lemon juice
To prepare the crab, dissolve 2 tablespoons kosher salt in a pint of water. In a sieve, thoroughly drain the packing liquid from the crab. Stir crab into the salt water and let stand 2 minutes. Thoroughly drain the rinsed crab. Mix the corn, milk and butter together in a medium saucepan. Slowly bring to about 160 degrees F (70 C) over medium heat. The soup will be hot but not boiling. Simmer 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the crab and scallions and rewarm gently. Add seasonings and adjust to taste. Serves 3 to 4, with bread or rolls.
Variation: Saute 1/2 cup of cut corn in the butter before adding the canned corn and milk.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Beef Mushroom Gravy

Developed November 15, 2009. 
1/2 lb brown meadow mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus, marketed as "baby bellas" or cremini)
2 c low-salt beef stock
2 T vegetable oil
1/2 t granulated garlic
2 T dry minced onion
1 T tapioca or corn starch, dispersed in cold stock or water
Heat the oil in a heavy 10-inch skillet until it shimmers. Separate the stems from the mushroom caps, chop the stems, and slice the caps. Sauté the chopped stems for a few minutes and add the sliced caps. Sauté until well browned, add the dry onion, granulated garlic, and the beef stock. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Stir the starch mixture and mix into the gravy. When it thickens, take off heat. Taste for salt before serving. Makes about 3 cups.

Turnip Greens

First recorded July 4, 2000 and updated often. A Signature Dish and Family Favorite, and a Superfood to boot, jammed with hard-to-get vitamins and minerals. The family loves and eats it readily, seeking seconds, even thirds, and will snack on between meals.
1 lb frozen turnip greens + turnips, or 1 lb fresh greens (turnip, kale, and/or mustard, trimmed, washed thoroughly, drained, and cut across into 2 inch pieces
Pot liquor
1 c of water
3 T low-fat margarine
1 oz country ham, coarsely chopped
2 T dried minced onion
1/4 t crushed red pepper
1/2 t salt
1 T apple cider vinegar
1 t sugar
1/4 t ground black pepper
1/2 t mustard powder
Microwave Method:
Combine pot liquor ingredients in a covered 1-1/2 qt glass bowl. Microwave for 4 min on high, stirring once. Add the frozen greens and stir. Microwave 2 minutes on high. Stir and microwave another 2 minutes. Stir and microwave for 30 minutes on 20% power, stirring half way through.
Stove Top Method:
Combine pot liquor ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer 5 minutes. Add the greens, return to a gentle boil, turning a few times, for 5 minutes. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer for 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water as needed. Serves 4 to 6.

Oven-Braised Spare Ribs Smothered in Onions

Created and first cooked December 15, 2005, and many times since. A Family Favorite.
5 to 6 lb slab pork ribs, trimmed of fat and membranes, and cut into 2 rib portions (see Note)
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced through poles
1/4 c ketchup
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1/2 c water
garlic powder
cumin
cayenne
paprika (smoked, if available)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 C). Arrange ribs, meaty side up, in a roasting pan with a cover. Combine liquids and pour over meat; dust on seasonings to taste. Top with sliced onions. Cover. Roast 30 minutes, turn over rib portions, reduce heat to 325 ºF and roast another 60 minutes covered, turning once after 30 minutes. Remove cover, turn meat, and brown for 30 to 40 minutes, basting occasionally. Meat should be very tender, almost falling off the bone. Serve with steamed rice topped with the onions and pan gravy. Fried apples and braised red cabbage make nice sides. Feeds 6 heartily.
Note: Choose small slabs (5 to 6 lbs). They come from younger animals, and are generally more tender and less fatty.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Steamed Egg Custard Soup

Devised April 2, 2008 from a remembered recipe learned in Seattle in the late 60's from a simple cookbook, now lost. Many US towns and cities support shops that sell Asian foods.
4 eggs
2 t dark sesame oil
3 c chicken broth
1 Chinese sausage, rinsed and thinly sliced
2 oz preserved salt turnip, rinsed well and thinly sliced
2 t dark soy sauce
2 green onions, finely sliced
In a 1-1/2 quart glass bowl, beat the eggs and sesame oil together. Mix in the broth, sausage, turnip, and soy sauce. Place the bowl in a steamer for 30 minutes. Ladle into small bowls, garnish with the green onions, and drizzle on a little soy sauce. Serves 6 as part of a Chinese meal

Easy Dirty Rice

Yields a more flavorsome, drier, lower in fat, and less spicy product than the recipe on the box. Recorded 14 January 2001.
1/2 lb mild pork sausage
1 box Zatarain's™ Dirty Rice Mix
1/2 c long-grain rice
3 c water
In a heavy 2-quart pot, brown the sausage thoroughly. Remove to a wire strainer to drain away the fat. Bring the water to a boil in the same pot. Add rice, rice mix and cooked sausage to pot. Lower heat, stir, cover and simmer 25 minutes. Toss and hold covered for serving. Serves 4 or 5. Variation: Very Dirty Rice. Sir in a 1/2 cup of coarsely chopped sauted chicken livers after the rice is finished streaming.

Breakfast Burrito

Inspired by the McDonald's™ product. First prepared November 8, 2008.
2 new potatoes, micro-waved 4 minutes, peeled and diced
1/2 lb fresh country pork sausage (Gunnoe's is good)
1/2 c coarsely chopped onion
2 oz canned chopped green chilies
1 small tomato, seeded and chopped
6 large eggs, well beaten and fluffy
1/4 c half and half
salt and pepper to taste
shredded Mexican cheese
6 large flour tortillas, steamed in microwave
mild salsa
In a skillet over medium heat, brown sausage lightly. Drain, reserving fat, and set aside. Return 2 T sausage fat to skillet, add potato and onion and continue cooking until tender. Add tomato and chilies and heat through. Add cooked sausage and mix. Add eggs-cream mixture over moderate heat and scramble until soft but not overcooked. Assemble on tortilla: cheese, egg mixture, salsa. Fold up bottom third, then in half, and then again lengthwise, leaving top open. Serve with salsa on the side. Serves 6.
CHEFS Tortilla Warmer - White (Google Affiliate Ad)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Rave: Plouts

[This post repeats a contribution I made to the Usenet news group, triangle.dining in August, 2007.]

I chanced upon these fruits at Kroger last week, bought one, and let it ripen.

Bit into it, and was rewarded with a super-sweet juicy flesh much like a plum. No sourness or bitterness. Tender skin. Gorgeous flame-red flesh. I don't recall the variety but it looked like "Flavor Supreme".

Googling pluot (pronounced plue-ott) I learned it is a complex hybrid patented in 1989 by Floyd Zaiger said to be the modern Luther Burbank of stone fruits. Two-thirds plum (the plu-), one-third apricot (the -ot) (but I couldn't detect any apricot quality. There are more than a dozen cultivars.

Try 'em, you will love 'em. Harris-Teeter is offering 4 varieties this week at $2/lb.

Read more at Wiki:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pluot

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pan Fried Potatoes

[Recorded 11-11-09]
1-1/2 lbs medium russet potatoes (about 5)
1/2 cup red or sweet white onion, blossom cut (see NOTE)
2 T canola oil
2 T butter
KS/FGP
1/2 t sweet paprika
Rinse the potatoes and cover with cold water in a 2 qt sauce pan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat, cover tightly and boil slowly for 6 to 8 minutes. Turn off heat but leave pan covered on the burner for 20 minutes. Drain the warm potatoes well, and slice lengthwise, and then crosswise in 1/4 inch slices.

Heat the oil in a 10-inch skillet until shimmering, add the butter, and when the sizzling stops, add the onions. Saute two minutes. Add the potatoes, taking care to separate the slices. Saute for about seven minutes, until browned on one side. Turn, season, and continue frying until both sides are nicely colored and cooked through.


NOTE

Blossom cut, means like petals. Slice the onion in half through the equator. (Large onions can be cut equatorially twice more into four pieces.) Then cut pole to pole along longitudes.

Serves 3 to 4.

Monday, November 9, 2009

RAVE: Nicoise-Coquillo Olives

I first heard about this olive on the PBS program Spain On the Road Again, that follows the travels and feasting of  an American cook who lived there as a youth (Mario Batali), an American actress (Gwyneth Paltrow), an American food writer (Mark Bittman), and a stunningly beautiful Spanish TV actress who trained partly at UNC-Wilmington and who worked in the US (Claudia Bassols). They were joined in this episode set in Barcelona by American composer, singer, and friend of Paltrow, the neurasthenic Michael Stipe.

They spent the better part of the evening tapas tasting at the "best tapas restaurant in the World" in the company of the couple who founded and operate the place. The husband is apparently an icon in the Spanish cooking hagiography and is a damn fine cook, quiet leader and inspiring teacher of sous, waitstaff, etc. by the looks of it.

One of the many courses was a selection of olives. As one who grew up with pitted ripe California olives on his fingers, this was an eye opener. So many kinds! So many flavors and curing and spicing. I was most engaged by tiny olives that are mottled green-brown-black. The pits seem almost as large as the fruits. The flesh is a bit spicy, sour, and fruity. They are often available on the Mediterranean appetizer bar at a Durham megamart. An essential component of
salade nicoise (salad in the Nice fashion).

A warm olive assortment is a nice way to dress up a plain breakfast of creamy cottage cheese and buttered rye toast.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Asian Dipping Sauce

Formulated November 8, 2009 to go with pot stickers and shu mai left from lunch at the Hibachi 101 in Wilson, NC after a morning visit to the annual pre-Thanksgiving pottery sale at Finch's in Bailey, NC.
1 t sugar
1 t rice wine vinegar
2 t white wine
2 t soy sauce
1/2 t dark sesame oil
1/2 t Dijon mustard 
Combine the first three ingredients, and stir to dissolve sugar. Stir in mustard and soy. Stir in sesame oil. Serve at room temperature.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Green Beans Braised in Tarragon and Butter

[Recorded November 2, 2009; developed over a long time]
1/2 lb  haricot vert, if available, or nice young green beans
kosher salt
2 t unsalted butter
1/2 t dry tarragon, rubbed fine
Pinch off the stem end of each bean, but keep them whole if possible. [Hint: Hold a bunch of beans together in one hand, and pinch the stems off with the other.] 

Bring a half-inch of lightly-salted water to a boil in a saute pan and drop the beans. Cover, and boil slowly until almost tender, about 6 to 8 minutes (see RANT).
 

Drain into a colander and cover to keep warm. Dry the pan, and return it to medium-high heat. When sizzling hot, add the butter and coat the pan with it. After about a minute, a nutty buttery aroma will become apparent. Pure deliciousness. 

Drop the beans, coat with the butter, and salt. Handle with tongs. Add the tarragon, saute a few minutes until sizzling. Plate. Deglaze pan with a tablespoon of lemon juice, white wine, water or stock. When fluid is mostly gone, pour the butter-tarragon sauce over the beans, and serve. Dyno-mite.

Serves 2 to 3 as a side, or 1 bean freak
 

RANT:
Don’t make the widespread culinary mistake of grossly undercooking vegetables. Because the nutrients within the plant’s cells can’t escape the cell wall (remember, people can’t digest cellulose), some of the potential food value (and flavor) will be unavailable. Reducing raw foods to a liquified puree (yuck) in a “juicer” will free the nutrients, as Jack LaLanne proves nightly on his informercials, but except for carrots, it's not a major home appliance. After all, how much liquified orange peel are you prepared to drink?

Farmer's Salad

Recorded October 21, 2008 Part of a “milchig” [dairy] Sunday morning brunch at Leon and Dorothy's table.
1 cup creamy cottage cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
Additions:
sliced black olives (Greek are best)
cucumber, peeled, seeded, small dice
red onions, small dice
green onions, finely sliced
green or red sweet bell pepper, small dice
red radish, sliced thin
freshly ground black pepper
no salt needed (cheese has plenty)
Cantaloupe: The Inside Story
 
Other dishes to serve with brunch
smoked chubs
lox
bagels
crescent rolls
Kaiser rolls
smoked sablefish
smoked white fish or trout
assorted fresh fruits (melon, grapes, berries, cherries)
assorted fresh vegetables (cucumbers, sweet peppers, radishes, black olives, green onions, tomatoes, red onion)
orange juice
tomato juice
fresh coffee
cream cheese
butter

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Braised Turkey Thighs with Olives and Chilies

Adapted by DrDaddy and Merry from Ada Boni's Regional Cooking of Italy. A family favorite and SIGNATURE DISH.
2 turkey thighs -- about 2.5 lbs total
1 6-oz can pitted ripe green or black olives, drained
2 7-oz cans chopped green chilies (Ortega™ is good)
1/2 c dry white wine
2 c chicken or turkey stock
1 T minced garlic
3 T olive oil
12 oz extra-wide egg noodles, boiled according to package
Trim excess skin, remove visible fat, and discard. Season both sides well with salt. Heat a deep skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat, add oil. Fry turkey until well browned on both sides, turning occasionally. Add garlic and cook until lightly colored -- do not burn! Add wine and cook until reduced by half. Add olives, chilies, and stock.  Reduce heat to simmer, cover partly, and cook until meat is tender -- about 2 hours. Remove meat from pan, cool, and slice parallel to bone. Return to pan to reheat along with the hot noodles. Serves 4 to 6. Steamed or braised broccoli makes a nice side dish.

Braised turkey, noodles, and olives
with butter-braised green beans on the side.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Air-Roasted Chicken


Developed October 15, 2009. Adapted from a traditional Chinese method to a contemporary kitchen fitted with oven.
About 4 lbs chicken legs and/or thighs, carefully trimmed of excess skin and fat
Seasoning:
   salt
   freshly ground pepper
   five-spice powder
   garlic powder
vegetable oil spray
Arrange the oven racks with one in the middle and the other about 6 to 8 inches below. Place a shallow roasting pan on the bottom rack, and add about 1-1/2 inches of water. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. The water will be bubbling away. This maintains a moist environment inside the hot oven. This keeps the meat moist but favors browning of the skin, the outcome of complex hydrolysis and condensation reactions between tissue amino acids, saccharides, and water, the Maillard reactions.
Spray the chicken pieces lightly with oil to help the seasonings stick and to keep the skin moist. Lightly dust both sides with seasonings; use a pastry brush to coat evenly. Arrange the pieces, skin side up, directly on the upper rack. Roast undisturbed about 35 to 40 minutes. Chicken juices should be bubbling, and the skin nicely browned.
Suggested sides: russets mashed with plenty of butter and cream; cut green beans (canned or fresh) steamed with butter and tarragon. Couscous and roasted vegetables work nicely as well.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Corn Bread Quick Breakfast

3 x 3 inch square of corn bread (prepared from Jiffy mix)
2 T sunflower seed butter (SunButter™)
1 T berry sauce
Split cornbread horizontally and broil the inside surface until lightly colored. Spread each piece with a nice dollop of the nut butter. Spoon over the berry sauce. Serves 1 lucky 1.

Berry Sauce

Recorded October 14, 2009. This sauce makes an excellent topping for yogurt, ice cream, pancakes, French toast or fresh fruits such as melon, pear, or banana.
6 oz (175 g) fresh or frozen berries
1 to 2 T (15 to 30 ml) sugar (based on the fruit sweetness)
1 to 2 T (15 to 30 ml) water
1 t tapioca starch or corn starch
pinch of salt
Combine ingredients in a tall microwave-proof container. A 2-cup (500 ml) measuring cup works well. Bring to a boil in the microwave cautiously, taking care it doesn't overflow. Stir, and bring to a boil again. Pour while hot into a small clean glass mason jar sanitized with boiling water. Tighten band while it cools. Store refrigerated. Lasts about one month after opening.  Note: Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries  or sweet black cherries can be used. Black cherry sauce is outstanding. Pineapple is not recommended.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Bruscetta

From Ben February 2, 2008.
Italian Bread
Garlic Cloves
Salt
Olive oil
Slice bread on bias 1 inch thick. Broil until brown on one side. While still hot, grind raw garlic into the brown side of the bread. Season and drizzle with olive oil. Enjoy.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Review: Fried Chicken at C&H Cafeteria, Northgate Mall, Durham, NC

Summary: Clean, friendly, healthful. Chicken, dy-no-mite! Butter beans, extra yummy. Cheap.

Visit: About 1:00 PM, Tuesday 6 Oct 09

Physical: Located in a strip mall annex to Northgate Mall, reached from Guess Rd.
Plenty of adjacent free, lighted, patrolled parking. 1720 Guess Rd., Durham, NC 27701

Ambiance: The entry way leads you past a wall that shields the dining room from the mall traffic. About 10 guests were queued in front of me. As you walk toward the beginning of the food line, you walk past it in review but backwards of course. The line moves quickly but no one is rushed. Cute trick.

Lots of tempting items are displayed. Emphasis on fresh and wholesome. Wide variety of salads, entrees, and desserts. Pies aplenty. Friendly, helpful, cheerful wait staff. Very active oversight and light-touch, hands-on management. A winning combo!

The food: Always seeking prime fried chicken, and based on foodie blog reports, I ordered the chicken. Dark or white? "Dark" yielded a good sized hindquarter. Added a side of butter beans. Ice water with lemon to drink. [Some ice water glasses already had a lemon wedge.]

The chicken was among the best I have ever tasted. Stone fresh. Mild flavor and juicy. No sign of overchilling. Apparently, not brined. Good for those such as myself who restrict sodium intake. Thin crispy coating that sticks to the chicken. A real feat. The butter beans were fresh-tasting, not canned, tender but not mushy or grainy, and free of added fat.

C&H management has sought and found great provisions and people who know how to cook and serve excellent food to a mass audience.

The dining room was busy, nicely appointed in a funeral-home-modern sort of way, and kept spotlessly clean by an attentive bus staff. Lots of conversations were held in quiet tones, but the room didn't sound or feel dead. The tableware was heavy and clean, and came wrapped in a spotless cloth napkin. A thoughtful touch.

The tariff: Al a carte, of course. The tab, $4.78 with tax, no tip. Should have left one, now that I think about it. Will double it next time, in partial recompense.

Next: Must try the chicken livers on rice! And the fried whiting looked fine.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Oven Roasted Potatoes

[Heard on Terry Gross' Fresh Air broadcast 3-28-01. Interview with vegetarian author Jack Bishop; transcribed 4-3-01.]
2 lbs (4 to 5 medium) russet potatoes, scrubbed and dried
2 T (about) oil
Kosher salt
Preheat oven and cookie sheet to 425 degrees F (218 C). Slice potatoes into eight wedges lengthwise, skins on. In a bowl combine the potatoes with the oil, coating lightly but completely, using the fingers. Arrange on hot cookie sheet. Roast 25 minutes. Turn each with tongs. Roast 20 minutes more. Sprinkle with salt. Pass Heinz Ketchup. Serves 3 to 4.
Variations: Cut recipe in half and use a toaster oven rather than a range. Sister Phyllis says that sweet potatoes are good this way too. She's right.

French Dip Sandwich w/ Oven Roasted Potatoes


Quick Mushroom Pilaf

First prepared September 21, 2009.

1 cup medium grain rice
1 T canola oil
1/2 t salt
1 4.5 oz can sliced mushrooms, reserve packing liquor
2 cups hot chicken or vegetable stock + reserved mushroom liquor
1 T low-fat soft margarine
Bring liquid to a boil in microwave-proof container. Set aside. Combine rice, salt and oil in a tall microwave-proof container with a loose-fitting cover. Microwave on high one minute. Add drained mushrooms and mix. Microwave one minute more.
Add hot stock and margarine. Microwave (6 to 8 minutes high, 15 to 20 minutes on 20 to 30% power depending on the wattage), or use a preset schedule for rice if your oven provides one.

French Toast

First prepared September 19, 2009.
Dip #1
1 cup milk
1 t sugar
1/2 t vanilla extract


Dip #2
2 large eggs, well beaten
1 T water
scant 1/4 t salt
9 slices French or Italian bread cut 3/4 inch thick
butter
Preheat toaster oven to 300 F (150 C). Place bread on oven rack and bake 10 minutes. The goal is to dry but not toast the bread. Mix each dip thoroughly to dissolve the sugar or salt. Dip a slice on both sides in the milk mixture, and then both sides in the egg mixture. Cook on a medium-high griddle in sizzling butter, until nicely browned on one side. Turn and finish the other side. About 6 minutes total. Be careful to avoid scorching the egg coating. Should be crisp and buttery outside and creamy custardy on the inside. Garnish with powdered sugar and serve with a topping or side dish of warm caramel-glazed apples.