May 25, 2010

Sausage bread

I don't know if I'd even consider this a recipe.  Except for the fact that it has instructions and results in food; I guess that counts.

I end up craving this stuff on colder days in the spring and fall.  I have no idea why.  But it's a comfort food par excellence.

  • Store-bought pizza dough in a tube
  • Melty Italian cheese mix
  • Spicy Italian sausage
  • Red pepper flake
  • Fennel seeds
Cook your sausage with the additives above if desired.  Make sure it's mostly done; it will cook a bit more in the oven but just make sure it's more or less ready to go.  Also make sure it's well broken up.

Crack the dough and spread it on a baking sheet.  In layers, add the cheese and the sausage.  Roll the whole thing up into a loaf and toss that thing in an oven at about 350 for, oh, half an hour.

Remove, let cool a bit, slice, and eat.  Try not to have too much.  It's really very easy.

Also, wonderful as a leftover for the next few days.  If it lasts that long.

May 23, 2010

A salad to die for

Note: this just happened to be what my parents had on hand one night when they asked me to make a salad.  It just happened to work wonderfully.

Basics on the salad:
  • One large grapefruit.  I think ruby red works better aesthetically but use what you have.
  • Greens.  I like spinach.  Obviously.  Arugula is great here as well as is any bitter green.
  • Walnuts.  Nice and chopped, but not too fine; you want the texture.
  • Your choice: either goat cheese or crumbled blue cheese.  Both seem to work; blue does a bit better for some reason.
  • Bell peppers wouldn't hurt anything.  Neither would a bit of cucumber.  And frankly jicama would be awesome here.
 And then you dress it:
  • Olive oil
  • White wine vinegar (and actually rice wine vinegar works here too).
  • Coriander
  • Just a touch of garlic
  • Powdered cumin
  • Just possibly a dash of ground lemon grass?
And that, friends, makes a salad.

May 18, 2010


I miss lots of things about Georgia.  No, no.  Again, that GeorgiaKhinkali is high on that list.

Unfortunately, getting the proper number of pleats in the right kind of wrapper seems nigh on impossible and so I'm reluctant to even try it.  But I do crave it between about Mtskhetoba and New Year's Eve and then again every time it really rains in the spring.

Luckily, while hunting for something entirely different, I ran across something new and different that might meet (some) of my needs without going overboard: an Afghan version of dumplings of a similar nature that seems to be called mantu.

After surveying several recipes the basics seemed simple enough: savory beef with lots of local seasonings in wanton skins, steamed, and then served with a mint yogurt and possibly lentils.

Not khinkali but it sure sounded promising.  And it was.  But I couldn't help but mess around a bit with the recipes; I know enough about cumin, turmeric, and thickening to at least try adding tomato paste to thicken.

I'm going to skip the lentils; they didn't work.  We'll focus on the actual dumplings.


Roughly a pound of ground beef (nothing below 85/15 please; 70/30 is just tasty)
About two small or one large onions; finely chopped
Garlic; garlic never hurts; finely chopped

Let the onion cook through to a firm but translucent state.  Add:

1/2 can of tomato paste
Generous amounts of cumin
Decent amounts of both coriander and turmeric

At this point I'd also probably add some green onion in the future but I didn't on this run.

Let that simmer and thicken.  In the meantime, combine:

Yogurt -- the fuller the fat the better
Mint -- for one small rameken of yogurt I think I used 8 sprigs, chopped coarsely

Get a steamer ready and pull out your wonton wrappers.  I halved them (you know, the big ones); it seemed to work.

Once the meat is nearly cooked through, spoon it on the paper and wrap as you see fit.  If you've never worked with wonton wrappers, well, wet the edges?  It's really not that complicated.  Fold up and steam until the meat is done and the papers are quite soft and somewhat translucent.  Do this in batches until you've either run out of meat mix or run out of wrappers.

Serve with the chilled yogurt mix.  Hot if you can.

It may not be authentic mantu.  It's definitely not khinkali.  But it is damn good.

May 10, 2010

Magic elixer

I am not a doctor.  I have no formal training in pharmacology.  Honestly, I've never tried this thing myself.  But it sure seems to work.

Have a major cold or a minor flu?  Can't sleep?

Yeah, try this.

Put a double dose of green Nyquil in a blender.  Add two or three generous spoons of chocolate ice cream.


Drink that thing up.

Wait half an hour and you will be asleep.

I have no idea why the ice cream makes a difference but it does.  You can blame my brother, who I had to carry to bed on more than one occasion, for discovering this.

May 5, 2010

Orange chicken tacos

Hot, sweet, and acidic makes a great combination if you can balance it right.  An orange salsa chicken wrapped in tortillas is a good way to balance all of that.  Call them burritos, tacos, whatever.  But it works well.

Two variations.  The first is my modification of a family recipe and the second is the original.

Baking method

Thaw one can of orange juice concentrate enough to get the thing out of the cardboard tubing.  Dump that in to a pyrex baking pan.

Add a generous amount of jarred salsa; Pace Picante seems to work best -- hot is better but medium seems to work just fine.  Go for about 3/4 of the amount of concentrate.

Add three or four frozen chicken breasts.

Toss into the oven at about 350ish.  Bake until the chicken is nearly done and the orange juice/salsa mixture has reduced a bit.

Remove and slice the chicken relatively thin.  Replace it in the mixture and return to the oven until the chicken is done and the sauce has reduced a bit further; bumping the heat here isn't a bad idea.

Remove the chicken again and keep the remaining mixture as a sauce.

Grilling method

This one takes a bit longer but the ratios are about the same.

Combine orange juice (concentrate doesn't work as well here), salsa, and thawed breasts.  Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at the very least one hour and at the most about eight.

Pull the chicken; grill it until done to taste.  Slice to serve.


Flour tortillas seem to compliment these flavors better than corn but either will work.  Use whatever normal fixings you would for a taco or whatnot; lettuce, cheese, black olives, etc.  Guacamole is for some reason contraindicated but fresh avocado slices seem just fine.  If you use the first method I'd recommend staying away from excess tomato; there's already plenty of acid.

Assemble at the table; simple as could be.

Alternatively, this can work out exceptionally well on a salad.

Oh, and the leftovers can be put to many a good use.