Aug 27, 2010

Mmm zuchini season

Just stir fry them.  Trust me.  And make them as hot as you dare; sriracha and mongolian hot oil, I'm looking at you.

That is all.  Off to play with porks.  More later, methinks.

Aug 17, 2010

Simple bean/chicken salad

Well, mostly simple.  The actual prep is just a tiny bit time-consuming (if half an hour counts) but it's very good.  Especially for coming out of a can.

Basic idea: throw together some beans.  Make them taste good.  Make sure you have plenty of protein going so it's a full meal or more.  And make sure it's a complete protein or two.

Basic salad

And I mean really basic.  Five cans.  Oil.  Vinegar.

First, drain a can of diced tomatoes; retain the sauce in a bowl.  You're going to have the colander out anyway; just drain the juice into the bowl.  Crush the tomatoes by hand a bit.

Combine in a large bowl:
  • 1 can black beans, drained and washed
  • 1 can great northern beans, drained and washed
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and washed
  • 1 can corn, drained (no washing needed)
  • 2 celery stocks, finely cubed
  • Chopped parsley; flat leaf if you have it
  • Tomatoes without the juice
  • Olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar
 And that's your basic bean salad.  Get that in the refrigerator.


I used two breasts to balance this and it seemed to work.  Marinate in:
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Orange juice
  • Red pepper flake
After about half an hour, toss that in a pan, cover, heat, and more or less poach it.  When done, cube/shred and add to the salad, tossing well.


Prepare rice as normal, except:
  • Use the reserved tomato juice to replace some of your water
  • Add coriander
  • Add one bay leaf
Very hearty.  Best served cold.  Makes a great summer meal.

Aug 8, 2010


Sometimes simplicity wins out.  For me, this often has to do with it being before noon (aka breakfast time), but it can obviously carry on throughout the day depending on your priorities (and the ingredients, of course).  And some classics just call for it.

So, BLTs.  Two versions here, both dead simple in their basic form.  They're definitely toaster oven fare once you get past the bacon itself (and I don't actually object to resorting to a microwave here even if it does come off better in a cast iron skillet every single time).  But the idea remains the same: pick a flavor profile, add a minor twist, and enjoy.

Version one
  1. Cook your bacon
  2. Toast a split bagel under a broiler, tossing on a grated hard italian cheese halfway through
  3. Add either sliced or diced tomato
  4. Add bacon, chopped works well here
  5. Add a green of your choice; I like spinach but an actual italian green would do very well
  6. Layer on alfalfa sprouts (or whatever bean sprouts you happen to have around; mung is particularly nice for the added crunch)
Asiago bagels are an obvious choice here, but onion, garlic, everything, etc all work fine.  As does plain, really.  Just make sure you crush down the top once you're done layering; they become quite unwieldy without some manual encouragement.  Cut in  half and enjoy.  Maybe make two if you're hungry or, ahem, want to use a whole tomato.

Version two

Closer to my heart, of course.  This is the simple version.  If you just happen to have fresh-roasted green hatch this might be the best BLT in the entire history of mankind.
  1. Again, cook bacon, slice or chop it
  2. Toast a fairly hearty bread
  3. Melt a thin layer of cojack on the bread; again, using a toaster oven is easiest here
  4. Add sliced, canned green chile
  5. Layer your tomato, in this case chopped probably is better
  6. Add your choice of lettuce; again I like spinach but romaine isn't bad
Slice.  Eat.  Make another.

If you wanted to go crazy you could, I don't know:
  1. Replace the bread with a sopapilla, stuff the ingredients, make sure you're using good chile, and smother in a red sauce.  But then, that would be complicated, wouldn't it?
  2. Just  use a tortilla to wrap said ingredients, making sure to chop the bacon, and call it a BLT burrito.  Maybe even add a salsa or guacamole to finish it.
But now we're straying back into complicated, aren't we?

(For the sake of completeness, I should link to a post from Farmgirl Fare on pita in general and another great option for BLTs that I've always wanted to try.  Baking at altitude, especially if you're inept in the first place, has proven a problem.)

Aug 6, 2010

So you have some apricots

The family got some apricots from some very nice neighbors who have had the tree for years and only this summer decided to produce fruit.  Lots of fruit.  Way too much to use; they've been giving it away like crazy [ed. many inappropriate similes considered and rejected].

But they're not exactly the tastiest in the world.  I mean, they're good.  They're just not omgwtf wonderful.  And did I mention there are lots of them?

So, we cook.

Apricots, apricots, searching...  No, we're not going to make a jam or a desert or anything overly sweet.  Just not my thing.  And we're not doing pork.  Mainly because I can't find any in the house.

But wait.  Let's think about traditional pairings.  I mean, I'm pretty sure apricots are used all over south asia and the great middle east, right?  (Wikipedia says yes and much, much more.)  Ok, so let's think about, say, Iran.  Maybe Turkey.  What would compliment a mild pear-like fruit...

Pistachios.  Just stay with me here; this is about the point where my brother declared that either the proposed dish or I were "weird".

We have a high-sugar, medium-flavor fruit.  We need it to shine.  Something rich with a nutty yet still slightly sweet taste?  Perfect.  Plus the oils are delicious; otherwise almonds would do the trick.

So let's do this thing.

Combine in a food processor:
  • 18 or so apricots, cored
  • About a ramekin of shelled pistachios, washed several times if salted
Whir together.  10 1-second pulses are fine; you don't need to feel obligated to pulverize the pistachios.  You definitely want to get rid of some of the excess salt though.

In the meantime, start heating a decent sized sauce pan with a bit of oil (olive is fine).  Also, start thawing some chicken if need be.

Once the oil is hottish, add the seeds of three cardamom pods, maybe four or five cloves, and a very small number of cumin seeds, in that order, waiting for each to become fragrant before adding the next.

[Tangent, not required for the recipe at all: this is actually an entire idea based on a decidedly non-French style of cooking.  We're toasting spices, not aromatics.  The aromatics come in later and are left either stewed or nearly raw.  It's just a different way of flavoring things and if you're serious about making food that resembles anything from persian to indian and even further east into parts of China, get this technique down.  Through lots and lots of experimentation.]

Once your spices are toasted, add the apricot slurry.  Reduce heat and add:
  • White or rice vinegar
  • Sugar (if needed; if the apricots were quite sweet omit this)
Slice your chicken (two decently sized breasts or so) in thin strips then add that.  Let that cook while the sauce reduces and caramelizes a bit.

After half an hour or so, add a sliced onion and a medium to large tomato cut into about 16 parts.

And walk away for awhile for the whole thing to simmer down so the sauce can permeate the chicken and reduce further.

Serve with rice and some sort of salad, possibly with pita.

6.0221415 mashed salad

Umm.  Chemistry jokes are in right now, right?

Ok, so no.  So this is guacamole.  If you've never done it yourself, fix that. If you have, learn to go for minimalism; avocados are in season.

For some magical reason, the local grocery store has ripe avocados on the shelf.  This, for the record, never happens. Most avocados are firm and slightly, umm, bitter?  At least when you buy them.  But apparently right now they're just slightly soft and perfect for just slicing into, which is good, because I wasn't about to give them enough time to ripen to that state.

So, a very, very basic guacamole.  Combine in a suitable bowl:
  • 2 ripe avocados, type doesn't really matter as long as they're about medium sized, but do reserve one pit
  • 1 roma tomato, diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Either some very finely diced garlic or two or three dashes of powdered garlic
And that's it.  Just stop.  Don't add onions.  Don't add anything to heat it up.  It just isn't needed.  A good guacamole should bring out the avocado flavor, not smother it and use the guacamole as an agent.

Mash by hand.  It's actually fun if the avocados are ripe; they squish like playdough.  Make sure everything is well-combined, wash up a bit, and then serve with chips or whatever else.

On the title?  It's a pun.  That is all.

Aug 4, 2010

On knives

Keep them sharp.  Especially for onions.

Yeah, it hurts.  I'll live.