Apr 22, 2010

Random dal

This was an experiment from a few years ago, but it turned out to work.


Bring to boil:

 * 6 cups water
 * 1 cup lentils of some sort (I like some of the more interesting varieties but experiment as you will)

Cook for a long time, until lentils are soft and mushy.  Add:

 * 1 can garbanzos, strained and washed

Cook through, bring off heat.

Other stuff

In large pot with, oh, for kicks, walnut oil (I happened to have some at the time), toast:

 * Pinch of brown mustard seeds (only use yellow if that's all you can find; brown have a much earthier taste that compliment the dish much better)
 * 15-20 black peppercorns

When those pop, reduce heat and add:

 * 1 medium onion, diced
 * About the same amount of sliced carrots

Let that cook for a bit.  When onions brown, add:

 * 4 cloves garlic
 * 1 or 2 serranos
 * Generous turmeric
 * Some coriander
 * Cayenne
 * 1 or 2 cups water as needed
 * Bean mixture
 * Small amount of garam masala

In that order, mind.  You need to not toast the garam masala.  And don't add too much.  The cinnamon in the stuff gets to be overwhelming, and really, there's already enough flavor in there without overdoing it.

Serve with rice, which for this seems to go well with toasted cumin.

Very hearty.  Give it a shot.

Apr 21, 2010

Chili con carne

I have an issue with chili. I don't mind the stuff, but I tend to get aggressive and insist that "real" chili is green. And has hominy. And is actually called pozole.

But that doesn't stop me from occasionally doing a true con carne. Because, really, it can be good.

In a dutch oven, brown 1.5 pounds of ground beef with generous amounts of cumin, oregano, and sage. Remove the beef, retaining the fat.

In the fat, sweat 2.5 medium onions -- chopped to half inch or so bits
-- and 8 serrano peppers all chopped up, seeds and all. Browning the onions a bit isn't a bad thing either.

Add the meat back in along with:

* 1 can tomato sauce
* 1 can tomato paste
* 1 quart beef broth
* 3 generous spoonfuls pace picante
* 3 cans small red beans
* a bunch of salt

Simmer for about 45 minutes. 1.5 hours wouldn't hurt.

Ten minutes prior to serving, add two hunked up bell peppers if desired.

Serve with shredded cheddar cheese.

Apr 17, 2010

Salad and burgers

Two parts on this one, either of which can be done independently to great effect.  I was working with goods on hand in both cases.


Combine a green of your choice (I used spinach; again, on hand, but a bitter would have been better) with thinly sliced bell pepper, some nicely chopped carrots, and half a ruby red grapefruit.  A few pecans wouldn't hurt things; chop finely.



  • Turmeric
  • Coriander
  • Oregano (I happened to have fresh on hand)
  • Powdered garlic
  • Powdered ginger
  • Olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar (go light; grapefruit is plenty acidic)
  • Juice from the rest of the grapefruit
Proportions are to taste.  The only constant here is the grapefruit juice.


Combine 70/30 ground beef, soy sauce, dry parsley, and powdered garlic.  Cook to taste.

Serve on butter buns or kaiser rolls or bagels or whatever else you might have around.

Combine dressing and salad.  Serve, possibly but not necessarily, chilled.

Apr 16, 2010

Peasent food is the best

This seems to be a recipe I originally got from my parents and then modified significantly. It's dead simple, messy, delicious, and a great thing to modify for any range of people.

Six basic ingredients:

Roasted red peppers (jarred is not only fine, it's basically ideal)
Goat cheese
Olive oil

For two people I like to use two heads (yes, you heard the right, heads) of garlic, two demi-baguettes (Costco does exceptionally well here believe it or not), a small loaf of goat cheese (the most expensive part by far), rrps and basil to match.

Heat the oven to 350. Toss the garlic on to an oven sheet, unpealed (well, maybe take off the outside layers of skin), and toast until very fragrant.

In the meantime, split your bread and lightly cover the inside with olive oil. Set aside. Also, rough chop the basil and red peppers.

Drop the oven to 250. Add the bread and keep it on until it starts to color and crisp just a bit.

Plate all items, including lumps of goat cheese, for all eaters. Have them combine ingredients on the bread, squeezing out individual garlic cloves (which should now be at most semi-firm and more likely quite squishy) on the bread, followed by peppers, followed by cheese, followed by basil.

While it's a decent appetizer, it can easily be a full meal (for two as described above).

Just trust me on this one.


This can be done the right way or the wrong way as far as I'm concerned. Most people do it the wrong way.

Enchiladas do not need to be rolled to be good. In fact, I really prefer them stacked.

This style really isn't found outside of New Mexico as far as I can tell, though we have at least one decent restaurant in Denver that stacks memorably.

Homemade is still better.

This is a variation that, as family legend recalls it, came in a supplement to an Albuquerque phone book[1] with a few variations from Huntley Dent[2] and experience. Without further introduction:

In a skillet -- preferably cast iron as that doesn't stain -- slowly heat some oil or shortening. I'm really digging butter these days but that's more of a personal choice. You'll be making a roux[3], so add more than you need just for base vegetables.

Dice some onions. White seems best. One, maybe two if they're small.

Dice some garlic. Maybe four or five cloves; this one doesn't need to be overkill.

Add all to the skillet. Onions should remain semi-firm and the garlic should be fully extracted for flavor.

In the meantime, mix a packet of red chile powder -- available at
decent grocery stores, and labeled for heat -- with water. It'll clump;
be persistent.

Chimayo and hot new mexico are my favorites for this one.

When onions are done, add flour to match the oil, cumin, and a touch
of oregano. Make a roux.

Take off heat, add powdered chile and water to roux. Back to heat,
bring to a simmer and cover for a bit. Don't let the sauce burn; it
seriously affect taste.

When the sauce is done, layer thusly in pyrex (for easy cleanup):

Corn tortilla
Onion/garlic mix
Shredded cheese (I happen to like cojack but cotija is great here too)

Keep stacking, usually about 3-4 tortillas high.

Bake at 375 until all the cheese is melty and the tortillas have slightly crispy edges.

Garnish with lettuce and tomatoes. Guacamole is a great side here as well.

[1] No, seriously.

[2] See my Manifesto.

[3] If you don't, well, I'll write that up someday. But you should. They're important.

Apr 14, 2010


So I've finally decided to start a food blog. For this you can blame my cousin.

What this is not

This is not a recipe blog. I may include amounts of ingredients at times; usually I won't. If you're looking for something that specifies 1 3/8 cups of sugar or some such, this is generally not for you. I assume a basic knowledge of how ingredients work together and thus just hand you general guidelines.

Having said that, I will occasionally specify amounts. It usually means I'm still unsure of the recipe myself. But I won't post something that didn't at least work.

But I do know what I'm doing

I make New Mexican food, Mediterranean food, Chinese food (usually coastal or fusion), Thai food, and sometimes just plain weird fusion. Usually it works out. Sometimes it doesn't. And I'll admit to that when it inevitably comes to pass..


I don't bake. It never works for me. Any baking post should be considered suspect and not just because I live at 5,000'. It isn't my strong point and never will be.

Influences and resources

Joy is my bible. If you don't have a copy, get one.

My mother lived in both Europe and Taiwan during her childhood. Whatever she learned she passed on to me.

Huntley Dent's Feast of Santa Fe is phenomenal and if you don't own a copy I'd highly recommend it.

Alton Brown's work has been influential on me. Both his show and his books have been quite illuminating though I don't always agree with his approach to a given recipe. Along with that, Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking has been an amazing resource.

I hate to admit it, but Bobby Flay has been helpful from time to time. Giada de Laurentis has as well, though I still maintain that she doesn't really follow her own recipes.

Madhur Jafrey has also been very helpful.


  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Goat cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Sesame oil/seeds
  • Garlic
  • Coriander
  • Turmeric
  • Lemon
  • Various vinegars
  • Bell peppers
  • Fresh spinach (thanks to the girl)
  • Ginger
  • Fruits, especially berries and citrus
  • Powdered peppers
  • Sriracha
  • Pastas of all sorts
  • Kalamata olives
  • Cheese ranging from a good loaf of goat cheese to a pound of cojack or cheddar to a bit of good blue. Reggiano is never bad and asiago is a great substitute. Feta is currently my favorite for salads.
  • Yogurt
  • Bagels
  • Bacon
  • Sausage -- preferably Italian and hot


So it turns out that I'm also a half decent photographer. Of things that aren't food. Consider a photo a luxury.

I don't even like the plating process. Making food pretty seems very secondary to making it taste good.

And about me

I live in Denver with a cat and a woman I love very deeply. I more or less grew up here, but have also lived in Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Kansas, Massachusetts, and the Republic of Georgia (the one where Stalin was born, not the one in the US).