Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Paleo Brine

The term 'paleo' in the title is meant to indicate cooking practices of early humans and, also likely, humanoids. 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 15 minutes to several hours depending on thickness. 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, chopped coarse
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 vegetables, 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 white 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 to 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. Stir in the cooked pasta, adding stock or pasta water as needed, and the remaining tarragon. Cook covered until pasta is tender, garnish with parsley, drizzle on olive oil, and serve in warm bowls.

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 Lidiasitaly.com. 
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
16 oz chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 t ground cumin
pinch of red pepper flakes
6 oz frozen leaf spinach
1 t salt
1 t sugar
Combine the beans, the stock, and seasonings in a saucepan. Cook at a fast simmer over moderate heat with frequent stirring for 20 minutes. 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 
Seasonings
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.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms

Developed January, 2005. Dried porcini are available online in bulk at modest prices. They keep forever.
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
2 c boiling water

2-1/2 c water
2 t commercial chicken or vegetable stock concentrate
2 T olive oil plus some as garnish
1 T minced garlic
1/4 c minced shallot
1/2 c minced yellow onion
1/2 c dry white wine

1 c arborio rice

3/4 c Parmesan cheese, grated
Combine mushrooms and boiling water in a heat-proof container. Stir occasionally. After 20 minutes, filter the fluid mushroom broth through a coffee filter, and reserve the mushrooms and broth. Chop the mushrooms coarsely. Combine the reserved mushroom broth, water, and stock concentrate in a saucepan. Bring to a boil with stirring and keep hot. In a 12-inch skillet  heat the oil over medium and add the aromatics. Sauté until soft, and mix in the rice. Cook until the rice turns milky, add the wine and continue cooking until the wine is absorbed. Add hot mushroom-chicken stock to just cover the rice and stir. As stock is absorbed add more gradually until all the stock has been added, stirring between additions. Reduce heat, cover, and cook until the moisture is absorbed. Stir in the cheese, drizzle on oil and serve. Serves 4. For vegetarian, substitute vegetable stock for chicken stock.