Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Chili of Much Quantity

So, the big secret here is all technique. Most chili recipes involve browning the meat ahead of time. Bah! You don't have to do that. I learned this technique from a Kroll (who swore that this was how they made it in the landmark Green Bay restaurant) and it seemed sketchy at times, and looks disgusting if you make this with ground beef (as the original Kroll's chili recipe requires) but trust me, it creates this thick kind of gravy chili that is amazing.

My friend Mark is asking for chili recipes and rather than typing it all up and send it only to him, I'm typing it up here and then sending him the link. Tricksy!

2-3 lbs beef stew meat or tenderloin tips ($$$)
3 cans black beans, red beans, pinto beans, navy beans, kidney beans, whatever you want (drained)
12 ounces tomato juice
2 quarts water or beef stock
1/4 cup minced garlic
2 T onion powder
2 T cumin
2 dried chipotle peppers* OR a canned chipotle in adobo sauce
2 T chili con carne powder*
2 T dried cilantro
2 T dried parsley
1 T dutch cocoa powder
The juice of half a lemon (to taste, might be less)
Salt and pepper to taste (probably at least 2 T of salt, but it depends on how salty your beans, stock and tomato juice are)

Dump the meat, garlic, onion powder, chipotle peppers and cumin into a pot with the water or stock. Cook on medium heat, covered, until you come back and the water is now looking more like soup than water (like, the meat is totally cooked, bits of meat are floating around in the water, it's starting to smell good, etc). At this point, you're going to get worried and start thinking that I tricked you into making beef stew. In fact, if people walk by and ask what you're making, they'll do the little skeptical eyebrow-raise when you tell them that it's chili. Persevere! Dump in the drained beans. I like two cans of black beans and one can of red beans, because I'm not a fan of kidney beans, but you do what you want. Dump in the tomato juice and chili con carne powder. See, I told you it would start looking like chili!

Now, let this simmer until the meat starts falling apart, probably at least an hour, but it depends on which cut of beef was used for the stew meat. When the meat is as tender as you want it and you're just about to eat, you can add the cilantro, cocoa, parsley and lemon juice. I usually stand there with a spoon and add the lemon juice bit by bit, tasting each time, because this can get away from you if you're not careful. If this scares you, it's certainly not required, but then skip the cocoa powder too, the lemon juice is there to bring the acid back up after basing it out with the cocoa powder. The cocoa powder brings a kind of earthly full-bodied mouthfeel to the chili, and without it, you'll still have good chili. Just not AMAZING chili.

Also, I hope you like chili because you're going to be eating it for about a week with this recipe. Of course, you could cut everything in half if you wanted too.

*You can get these at the Spice House or Penszey's.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Rummy Applesauce

The inclusion of rum makes you wonder why you don't just dunk whole apples into booze more often, because it's absolute perfection and makes total sense in your mouth.

8-10 baking apples (I used Golden Delicious, but Cortlands or Rome or really, any bakers would work well)
2/3 cup unfiltered apple juice (or filtered, I just had the unfiltered on hand)
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup vanilla-scented sugar
4 whole cloves
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t vanilla or almond extract (I used vanilla but if I would have had any almond, I would have used that instead)
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 t ginger
1 T corn starch
1/2 c white rum

Peel, core and slice/chop the apples then dump them into a heavy saucepan with 1/3 cup of the apple juice (you're reserving a 1/3 cup for thickening later), the sugars, spices, extracts and rum. Cover and let it cook down until the apples get soft-ish. Don't let it boil over like I did because the resulting syrup is a bitch to get off of your stovetop. When the apples almost look like components to applesauce, whisk together the corn starch and reserved apple juice in a coffee mug or whatever is handy, then pour into the miasma that is the saucepan. It will start to thicken immediately, but do not let this fool you: you have to bring it back up to almost a boil so that the corn starch doesn't taste acky. If it's way too thick, add a little more applejuice. Then eat that bad boy, but watch out for the four cloves, as they are lurking where you least expect them.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Vegan Caesar Dressing

I love the idea of Caesar dressing, but the real kind, with the anchovies and raw egg, freaks me right the hell out. As an undergrad, all of my friends (including myself) were vegetarian and some were vegan, so we'd often do a potluck kind of thing when we'd get together for informal workshops. One guy friend was a wreck in all aspects of his personal life, but he was trying very hard to woo a little vegan punker grrl, so he came up with all kinds of vegan dishes. This is his recipe. Even though I'm no longer vegetarian, I still think it tastes better than real Caesar.

1/2 cup medium-firm tofu
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
1 tablespoons Garlic, crushed
1/2 to 1 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
1/4 teaspoon sea salt (although I sometimes use Kosher)
Juice of One Lemon

Zip it up in a blender. Or omit tofu and double the amount of mustard, which is what I usually do, because I'm not a fan of creamy caesar. Plus, then you can just shake it in one of those Glad plastic container things instead of messing with a blender. Toss with romaine and parm shavings, or, you know, some kind of vegan alternative. Screw croutons! They suck!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Chicken Tortellini Serendipity

I concocted this out of nowhere and it was so damned tasty that Esteban had a hard time believing that I made it. I am completely baffled, because my soups never ever turn out that good. This recipe will fill your 8 quart Le Creuset French Oven pot and will seem like way too much soup, but we lived on it for four days and were fighting over the last of it. I'm writing it down while I still remember how I did it.

3 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 stalks celery, grated and then minced fine
4 carrots, grated and then minced fine
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup diced white onion
a handful of Italian parsley, chopped
Fresh tarragon, thyme, rosemary, and sage, tied with string
3 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1/2 tbsp ground white pepper
1 tbsp poultry seasoning
6 quarts chicken stock (I used Trader Joe's in the carton)
1 lb dried cheese tortellini
A handful of leftover frozen corn and green beans
A little bit of olive oil
1 tbsp pure tomato powder
Sea Salt to taste

I started the pot with a swirl of olive oil and sweated the celery, onion, garlic and carrots until the onion had pretty much done its thing. Then I threw in the whole chicken breasts, four quarts of stock, the poultry seasoning, bay leaf, peppercorns, white pepper, parsley and the herb bouquet. Simmer for at least an hour, but if you forget about it because you're playing Zuma, that's what happened to me. Then I fished out the herbal bouquet* and tossed it, then fished out the chicken, let it cool enough so that I could dice it, then returned it to the soup. I wasn't sure how big the tortellini would get, so I threw in half the package and let it simmer for another half hour. When I went back, I decided that there weren't enough tortellini, so I tossed in the rest of the package, along with the corn and green beans and tomato powder, and then threw in another two quarts of stock because the tortellini were really soaking up the broth (because I was sort of making it all up as I went along... you could just start with six quarts). I then let it simmer, covered, for another half an hour and then served with buttermilk cheese biscuits (a bastardization of the recipe on the side of the Bisquick box).

*If you're smart, you'll also find those peppercorns, because all three attacked us unexpectedly.

Because half of the tortellini had been in the soup for over an hour, they sort of exploded and became generic noodles, with their parmesan filling dissolved into and flavoring the broth. It was totally a happy accident and I think that was the secret because it was the best of both worlds... some of the tortellinis still had filling and others had sacrificed their cheese for the good of the stock. You could probably just use any old noodle and dump in some parmesan on its own rather than rely upon the tortellini deployment method.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The HashHouse's buttermilk flapjacks

Two years ago, while in San Diego for a Journalcon, Mo's friend Tim suggested that we have dinner at the Hash House A Go Go, which claims to be Farm Food on Acid. It is to this day one of the truly exceptional meals of my life and I wish I had been feeling better to enjoy it. Mo and I shared a plate of butternut squash risotto, while Tim and Jake each got a plate of sage-fried chicken and waffles with bacon inside of them, topped with fried leeks. Luckily, there was so much food that we were eating off of their plates as well and it was absolutely delicious. Searching for that recipe, I found this one and made it one morning. You'll never look at a box of Aunt Jemima mix again because seriously, this right here is the shit.

4 ¾ cups flour
3 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups milk
½ cup melted unsalted butter
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ t baking powder
2 t baking soda
2 t salt
2 t vanilla

Separate egg yolks from egg whites, set whites aside and beat yolks, then mix in remaining wet ingredients (except the egg whites). In a separate bowl, blend together dry ingredients. Pour liquidy mix into dry ingredients stirring together until only slightly lumpy. Beat egg whites until soft peak stage, then fold into the batter. Laddle onto hot sizzling griddle, cook for 25 - 40 seconds. When bubbles form on top, give them a flip and finish cooking.

If you put anything but real maple syrup on these, you should be shot.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Menu for Mopie's Farewell Dinner (June 29)

Wine: (Something) Cat Chardonnay 2004, Bonny Doone Strawberry Wine 2001, Elderton Semillion Botrytis 2004

Starters: aged white cheddar cheese (stolen from the mushroom prep station), fresh morello cherries.

Dinner: chopped Romaine lettuce tossed with Archer Farms Caesar dressing and diced anchovies, Bacon-Wrapped Dates, Alteration of Roasted Asparagus thing, Baby Portabello Mushrooms with Much Better Crab Stuffing and Lazy Chicken.

Dessert: Blueberry Un-Unpie

Much Better Stuffing for Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms

Crab-stuffed mushrooms are one of Mopie’s favorite of the quasi-South Beach meals we've concocted, which is surprising, since I’ve been playing with the recipe each time I make it. This time, the stuffing went something like this, although Mo actually MADE the mushrooms, due to the Zombie Thumb situation. I just gave direction:

1 lb lump white crab meat
1 large egg
3 tbsp garlic
1 tbsp Old Bay Seasoning
½ cup Panko bread crumbs
2/3 c goat cheese
Kosher salt
½ cup chopped fresh Italian flat leaf parsley

Mo combined all of these in a bowl by squishing it with her gloved hands. Then she lumped it all into the cleaned mushroom caps. We followed the standard cooking procedure but this time, I decided to try poaching the bottoms of the mushrooms in a little wine. That was an awesome idea and next time, I’m going to throw some more garlic in the liquid too.

Lazy Bones(less) Chicken

3 lbs chicken breast, sliced extra thin (1/4 inch)
Olive Oil
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tsp red pepper flakes
Poultry Seasoning
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Kosher Salt

Heat garlic, red pepper flakes and olive oil in a pan, then season chicken with poultry seasoning, pepper and salt. Sauté until chicken is cooked and congratulate yourself for making the easiest chicken dish ever.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Menu for Tuesday, June 6

Wines: Rock Rabbit Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, Simon Creek Gewurtziminer.

Starters: Stravecchio cut into nibbling slices along with some Dubliner style goat cheese Esteban picked out at the farmer’s market.

Main Course: Tomato Thing, Broiled Salmon, Bacon-wrapped Dates, jasmine rice.

Dessert: More Bacon-wrapped Dates.

Broiled Salmon

I thought I had this one noted already because it seems like I make it all the time, but apparently not since I started keeping track of Dinner With Pie nights.

Fresh Salmon Fillets
Some Kind Of Seasoning*
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher Salt
Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a decent-sized baking dish with aluminum foil and spray with olive oil. Place salmon fillets into dish, season as desired, then spritz with more olive oil. Pop into oven and cook until the fish starts to look opaque (you know, like cooked salmon should look). I crank the broiler up to finish it off because I like the edges to be a little crisp.

*My favorite thing to use is a shallot/thyme/lemony something spice blend from Penzey’s called Fox Point seasoning (or Lake Shore Drive Seasoning if you’re buying it from The Spice House). However, I’ve made it with Herbs de Provence, thyme, dill, or orange pepper and it tastes really good. It’s practically fool-proof. **

**Ok, there was that situation when MoPie tried to make it herself and somehow ended up with a scrambled salmon concoction, but that was before she moved to Wisconsin and had watched me make this forty times. You can do it, little Pie! Be brave!