Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Out of Commission

With the holidays and getting my wisdom teeth removed, I have a backlog of recipes that I need to post. Hopefully, I'll get to these soon. For now, however, I'm going to sit back and recover.
~FLC

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Electric (Kettle) Slide

I know, cheesy.
Unfortunately, finals week is fast approaching and all of my work is coming due so all of my brilliant title skills are tied up in my papers. While this semester hasn't been particularly stressful, my final tasks for each of my classes have been quite demanding.  This past week, I've been averaging about 4 hours of sleep to make sure that I can stay on top of things.

Luckily, I have a new companion to accompany me. A cordless electric kettle (you can't tell from this picture, but the base is detachable).
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My new companion has already made itself useful, providing me endless amounts of boiling hot water to help maintain a steady flow of caffeine into my body.  As I type, I am steeping some pomegranate green tea and I imagine much more will follow as I prepare to spend my weekend completing my various projects.

Alright, back to more pressing matters..
~FLC

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Pork with Green Chilies in Tomato Sauce

This recipe is from a family friend,  it's a simple crockpot dish that goes great with Spanish rice.

Pork with Green Chilies in Tomato Sauce

1 small pork roast
3 cans green chilies
1 small can tomato juice
1 small can tomato sauce

Cook pork roast in 2-3 cups of water over medium heat until the meat starts to separate.

Add the rest of the ingredients, cooking for 3-4 hours over medium heat (I let mine cook all day)

Add salt, pepper, and garlic salt (I use garlic powder) to taste.

Add flour or cornstarch to thicken, if desired.

Spanish Rice

1 15 oz can stewed tomatoes
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups rice
1 Tbsp margarine or butter or 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp hot chili powder (use regular chili powder if you're not much into heat)
3/4 oregano (optional)
2 clove garlic minced
1 tsp cumin

Mix all ingredients together.
Bring to boil and reduce heat to low
Cover and simmer for 25 minutes; Don't remove the lid while cooking.
Throw some cheddar on top if you want when serving.

Calamari

Calamari

2 lb prepared squid, whole baby or the rounds if you prefer(I'd suggest a pound, if you're only serving a few people)
1/2 cup flour
5 tbsp olive oil
salt and black pepper
Lemon, wedges for looks but for a more even coating I suggest RealLemon with a squirt nozzle

Mix flour and salt and pepper in a plastic bag
Add the squid to the bag and toss until coated evenly
Heat oil in heavy or nonstick pan on medium heat
Heat oil up to sizzle but not to smoking then lay out squid evenly on the surface without touching
Cook for 2-3 minutes and then turn over
Cook another 1-2 minutes
Set out squid on paper towel as ready
Lay out on plate, spritz with the lemon, and serve

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Baklava

Baklava

1 lb finely chopped walnuts
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 pound phyllo dough
3 sticks unslated butter melted, for brushing phyllo

Syrup
2 cups water
3/4 sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
one 2 in strip lemon rind
3/4 cup honey


Preheat oven to 300
Combine nuts, sugar, and cinnamon
place eight sheets of phyllo, one at a time, on the bottom of 8x14x2 pan, brush each with butter (keep the rest of the dough covered as it dries out easily)
Sprinkle top sheet generously with 1/4 cup nut mix
Continue adding buttered phyllo sheets, sprinkling every second sheet with nut mixture until all the nut mixture is used up.
Place remaining phyllo on top buttering each sheet.
Cut into small diamond shape pieces

Place pan of water on lowest shelf in oven and the baklava on the middle shelf above the water and bake for 2 - 2 1/2 hours, or until golden
Make sure the water pan is always full

While the Baklava is cooking, prepare the syrup
Combine in saucepan all ingredients for syrup except the honey
Bring to boil and simmer for 15 mins, add honey and simmer for 5 more minutes. Remove lemon peel and cool.

Remove baklava from oven when ready and pour cooled syrup over it.

Beef and Mushroom Casserole

No idea what a good name would be, I just walked through the store and bought what I thought would work good together.

Penne pasta (enough to cover the bottom of a 9 x 13 casserole dish)
1 Jar(can) Mushroom pasta sauce (I used Chunky Mushroom Ragu and if you have time you could use a homemade sauce.)
1 lb ground beef
Fresh mushrooms, I used one package of baby portabellas
1/2 medium onion chopped
5 tsp garlic
oregano (to your taste)
2 tbsp olive oil
Mozzarella Cheese
Vodka (optional)

Cook up your noodles and ground beef.
Layer pasta on bottom of casserole dish and the ground beef on top of that.
Preheat oven to 325.

Sauce:
Over medium heat, heat the oil in a skillet and add garlic for 1 minute
Next add the onion and the mushrooms into the pan, saut? until the mushrooms become tender.

Add the pasta sauce to the skillet and let simmer until heated through,
I added a splash of vodka here.
Add the oregano to the sauce, stir and let simmer a few more minutes.

Pour the sauce over the pasta and ground beef smoothing it over the top.
Cover the sauce with the mozzarella cheese until all covered.

Put dish into the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the cheese is to your liking.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pico de Gallo (Salsa Fresca)

Pico de Gallo (Salsa Fresca)

Here is a tasty treat for the summer. It is very quick to make and super tasty.


2 Medium Tomatoes or 4 Roma Tomatoes, cored and chopped (Peeling and Seeding Optional)
1 Jalapeno and 1 Serrano Chile, chopped - Reserve seeds, to add later if you want more heat.
1 Small White Onion, minced
Juice from 1/2 Lime
Handful of Chopped Cilantro
Ground or Whole Toasted Cumin Seeds, or Cumin Powder, to taste (Optional)
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Add all ingredients to a bowl, mix well and taste

Add seasoning and seeds, if desired
Mix well
Place in the fridge for a couple hours, or serve as is.

Fried Potatoes

Here's a hearty breakfast that is great for camping or the dead of winter.


Fried Potatoes

4 med potatoes, peeled and cubed

3 cloves of garlic chopped

1/2 medium onion chopped

4 Tbsp butter

Over medium heat add 2 tbsp of the butter to a small frying pan and saute the onions and garlic together.

Once the onions become clear, add the potatoes and the rest of the butter to the pan and cook until the potatoes are tender.

You can probably substitute margarine or a low fat substitute for this if you're not comfortable with real butter.

Green Beans with Tomato Sauce

Green Bean with Tomato Sauce

1/3 cup olive oil
2 medium potatoes, diced
1 lb fresh green beans, if too long halve
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion chopped
2 large tomatoes, diced (four romas for sweeter and better taste) or if you don't like tomatoes as much, one tomato and a can of tomato sauce or two cans of tomato sauce

heat oil in medium pan, on medium heat

Add the potatoes, cook for about 10 mins
Add onions for about 7 mins or until clear
Add garlic for about 1 minute
Add tomatoes and bring to a simmer
Add green beans and cover for 25 mins or so

Stir the pan, add water if you think it is too dry
Cook for another 20-30 mins until beans are tender

Serve with bread to sop up the juices.

Avgolemono Soup

Avgolemono Soup

This is a big recipe, so if you want to feed just a few people you'll have to experiment and shrink it down.


Chicken Stock (You can buy it canned, if you want the easy route)

3 lb organic chicken (better flavor)
2 - 2 1/2 qt water
one medium celery stalk
one small carrot
3-4 peppercorns
1 medium onion (quartered)
Salt to taste (add about an hour to an hour and a half in)

Throw everything together into the pot.
Cover and cook for 2 hours or until the chicken is tender.

Remove the chicken and place somewhere to keep warm.
Filter the broth to remove the fat, vegetables, and other particles. (I use cheesecloth and a good size bowl)
The chicken can be kept for other dishes, however, I use it for the soup.

Everything else

1 cup orzo or long grain rice
3 medium eggs
3 tablespoons lemon juice

Turn down the heat to medium.
Add 1 cup orzo (or rice) to the broth and let cook until tender.

When the orzo or rice is tender, beat the three eggs and the three tablespoons of lemon juice together in a small bowl.

Ladle some of the broth into the bowl (enough to warm the temperature up to the same as the broth in the pot) and continue beating until mixed well.

Once mixed, pour the mixture into the pot and stir until mixed well.

Add the chicken (optional).

Let the soup heat through and then let stand fifteen minutes before serving, if it starts to separate keep stirring.

Serve and enjoy.
Add more lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste.
This can be kept for a few extra days as well, so, if you're into leftovers, just reheat what you have left.


This is from memory, so, if it isn't exactly right, I apologize but I can't place anything I missed.
Oh, and this may be an acquired taste being heavily based on lemon, our family uses a lot of lemon to flavor up the dish once it is in our bowls.

Kota Kapama

Kota (Chicken) Kapama (This dish is one of my absolute favorites)

one 3-4 lb Chicken cut into serving pieces
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
6 Tbsp butter
2 C canned crushed tomatoes
1 six oz can tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
3/4 C water
3 sticks cinnamon
1 bay leaf
1 C minced onion
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 lb macaroni
1 cup grated kefalotiri cheese (My family uses Mizithra or if you prefer familiarity, use Parmesan

Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, and cinnamon
Melt 2 tbsp butter in pot and brown chicken until golden on all sides

In a bowl combine tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, and water and pour over the chicken. Add the cinnamon sticks and bay leaf

In medium size frying pan, melt 2 tbsp butter and saute the garlic and onions until the onions are wilted and add to the chicken

Bring the pot to a boil, cover, and simmer until the chicken is tender, about an hour

Prepare the pasta towards the end so that it is finished about the same time as the chicken.

Lay out pasta on a serving dish, brown the remaining butter and pour over the pasta. My family grates some cheese onto the pasta here.

Place chicken and sauce over the macaroni and sprinkle more cheese over the top.

Beef can be used to replace the chicken, it is no longer Kota Kapama but it is still quite good. Just cut it into serving sized pieces and follow the rest of the instructions.

Casseroles Galore

Hamburger Pie

These are some good hearty dishes that can be prepared rather quickly and will leave the family quite satisfied. The ingredients are simple and fairly cheap. These can be prepared at least a day in advance.


1 lb hamburger (cooked and drained)
I season with garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper to taste
1 can green beans (drained)
1 can tomato soup condensed
4 servings instant mashed potatoes
Less can be used here, just make enough potatoes to cover the top of the casserole
2 qt Casserole Dish or another glass baking dish

Place the hamburger at the bottom of dish
Layer the beans out on top of the hamburger as even as possible
Layer the tomato soup on top of that
Finally, cover the top of the dish with the potatoes
I season the potatoes as well with a bit of garlic powder

Bake @350 degrees for ~30 minutes
Serve

Tater Tot Casserole

1 lb hamburger (cooked and drained)
1 can Veg-all Nixed Vegetables (drained)
1 can Cream of Mushroom condensed soup
Enough tater tots to cover the top of the dish
2 qt. Casserole dish

Place the hamburger at the bottom of dish
Layer the mixed vegetables on top of the hamburger
Layer the Cream of Mushroom soup
Finally, cover the top of the dish with tater tots

Bake @ 350 for ~30 minutes
Serve

Tuna Noodle Casserole

4 servings Egg Noodles (prepared)
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup (unprepared)
1 can of Tuna (drained)
more tuna can be added if desired

Cook the noodles and mix in the Cream of Chicken soup and the tuna

Serve

Friday, November 6, 2009

Quick Fix: Spicy Barbecue Chicken Flatbread Pizza

Finally, a new post. Damn, I've been slacking.

This past week, there was a sale on flatbreads at the store. On a whim I decided that some flatbread pizzas would be tasty and quick. Both are incredibly important with my schedule right now. I collected a variety of materials so that I could make a variety of pizzas, and here is my first offering.


Spicy Barbecue Chicken Flatbread Pizza

1 flatbread
1/4 cup or more (your preference) Spicy Barbecue Sauce. I used Famous Dave's Devil's Spit, which was mighty tasty I might add.
1/4 Cup Prepared, Diced, Roasted Chicken or Seitan seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
1/4-1/2 cup Grated Smoked Mozzarella Cheese

Preheat oven to 450
Prepare pizza
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Place directly on oven rack and bake until cheese is melted, about 10-15 minutes

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Serve and Enjoy.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pinto and Black Bean Soup with Fire-Roasted Tomatoes.

Pinto and Black Bean Soup with Fire-Roasted Tomatoes.

I have been completely swamped as of late. My schedule puts me on campus early in the morning and I often do not leave campus until late at night. During these hectic times, making a good meal is fairly difficult. Luckily, with a few canned items, a nice, filling soup can be created in a short amount of time.

1 can Fire-roasted Tomatoes
1 can Pinto Beans, drained
1 can Black Beans, drained
4 cups Vegetable Stock
1 cup Water
1 Tbsp Cumin
3/4 Tbsp Chili Powder
3 Tsp Dried Oregano
2 Tsp Dried Thyme
1/4 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Add all ingredients over medium high heat.
Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to a simmer for 10-15 minutes to let the flavors meld, and serve.


Optional Preparation for when time is less of an issue.
1 Onion, chopped or onion powder, to taste.
2 cloves garlic minced, or garlic powder, to taste.
1 Chili Pepper, chopped.

Heat 2 Tbsp oil over medium-low heat.
When hot, add onion and cook until clear.
Add the garlic, cook until fragrant.
Add the chili pepper, cooking for a minute or so.
Continue by following the quick preparation steps above.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Greek For A Day

Last month, the 83rd annual Greek Festival (formerly Greek Picnic) commenced in the wide-spot-in-the-road known as Bridgeport, Nebraska. The Greek Picnic/Festival is a yearly event in which the Greek Religious Community gathers to honor the name day of their church located in Bayard, Nebraska. The festival also brings the Greek community together with the wider community. Allowing many who do not experience Greek food or culture on a regular basis to become Greek for a day; with a wide variety of food, drink, music, and dancing to immerse themselves in.

The Greek Festival is a two-day event which commences with the Saturday "party" night. The room is lined with booths and many people jockey for position to get some of the best foods before they run out. Each year the room is often packed to the gills and, like this year, the room was packed beyond the seating. Rows of people who could not find seating filled in the outer lanes to eat their food and watch the entertainment of the evening.
I took as many pictures as I could, but the lighting was not the best; so, bear with me.

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Saturday

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My dad, looking particularly evil for a man in a Hawaiian shirt.

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My Yia Yia and Papou, keeping the tradition alive.

The Booths
Kalamaria (Squid)
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Fried to a nice deep brown, and spritzed with a nice helping of lemon juice before you take it to your seat.

Any veteran (and non-vegetarian) of the festival will tell you that this is the first booth that you must visit. If you don't get to the festival early, you're SOL.

Souvlaki (Kabobs)
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There were two kinds of souvlaki available, lamb (arni) and pork (xirino').
Personally, I always pick the lamb (pictured above). And most people I know pick the lamb. The pork seems to be a fallback for those people that do not like the taste of lamb. I say let them have the pork, more lamb for me.

Loukanika (Greek Sausage)
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This is a spicy Greek sausage. I can tell you that it is made with pork mixed with orange peel and red pepper flakes, and then smoked. However, I cannot tell you what else is in it, because each family makes their own variety and these variations are often well guarded.

This sausage has a nice sweet taste tempered by the red pepper.

Tyropita (Literally Cheese (tiri) Pie, but often made in the form of triangles)
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Nice, crispy phyllo dough surrounding a firm, cheesy center that will make your day. This year, they were particularly nice. There is always the possibility of sogginess when making large batches, but whoever was baking this year was on the money.

Gyros
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I know, the picture isn't the best. The gyros were layered with gyro meat, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, tzatziki sauce, and feta cheese, all on a warm buttered pita round.

Greek Salad
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The Greek Salad varies form year to year, as the people manning the station often change. The salad this year was quite a mishmash of different items.

The salad consisted of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions. Traditional Greek Salad doesn't have lettuce, lettuce is often used when tomatoes or cucumbers are in short supply or if you're trying to increase the volume. I can't blame them for extending the batch, you have to make this stuff go as far as possible.
Sometimes, the salad is topped with kalimata olives and crumbled feta cheese.

The dressing is usually a mixture of oil, oregano, a bit of lemon juice, a nice tart vinegar (red wine vinegar works nicely), and salt and pepper to taste.

On top of all this, the salad also included two dolmathes (stuffed grape leaves) and a couple Golden Greek Peperoncinis.

The biggest complaint that I heard this year was that the vinegar used was too sweet, which means whoever was in charge of salad this year decided to use Balsalmic Vinegar. I decided to pass on this one.

Greek Sweets

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Loukamathes (Greek Donuts with honey and nuts)

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Let's see what we have here.
On the top left, we have kourabiedes. Soft butter cookies coated liberally with powdered sugar. When taking a bite, don't breathe. You've been warned.

On the top right, we have melomakarona. A spiced cookie with honey and nuts often served around the holidays.

Next, on the bottom left, we have kataife. A wonderful Greek sweet made with honey and walnuts, spiced with cinnamon and wrapped in crispy wisps of phyllo.

In the center, we have the diples. Diples are fried dough, drizzled with honey and crushed walnuts and spiced with cinnamon. They make a nice crunchy treat without the hassle of juggling a variety of ingredients.

And those diamond shaped blurs on the bottom left are baklava.

If you don't like honey or nuts, then this definitely isn't the place for you. If you hadn't figured that out already.

Death by Sweets is a definite possibility given this assortment of sugary goodness.

Where is a better picture of baklava, you ask.
A Greek Festival surely has baklava available by itself.
Well, I didn't buy any at the festival, because I asked my Yia Yia nicely and she gave me two pans like this:
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I had so much that, once I got my fill, I passed it around to other graduate students and professors to enjoy.

Sunday Dinner

The second day is the much more formal Sunday dinner. Being the formal day, I was expected to eat with family and catch up with family and friends. So, unfortunately, I was unable to get pictures of the meal on this day. However, I can describe what was served.

For the sit down meal we had: dinner rolls, Spanikopita (Spinach Pie), Greek Salad, Greek Potatoes, feta cheese, slice roast lamb and/or beef, and a honey-walnut cake for dessert.

The Aftermath

Overall, it was a blast. I enjoy the festival because it allows me to see people I haven't seen in a long time and it give me an excuse to eat food I hardly get to eat anymore.

The Greek Festival is important to me not because of any religious affiliation, but because it is a time when I can see much of my family. Many of them driving long distances to come celebrate the church their family and friends grew up in. One of the joys of this time of year is that there are few other events that conflict with this celebration which would normally prevent the ability to travel. Anyone dealing with two or more families around the holidays understands this problem.

- Depressing reflections below, to stay cheery stop reading here -

While the Greek Festival is a great time to see family and friends and eat wonderful food, it is also has a dark side to it. Each year, the Greeks that lead the festival get older and there are very few younger Greeks that are there to fill the void. I myself am an example of this. To pursue my goals in life, I must leave the community and, as I do so, I lose my connections and some of my heritage in the process. I am afraid that with the lack of jobs for the younger generations that the presence of Greeks in the panhandle will continue to dwindle to the point of nonexistence, taking with them the history and traditions that have been passed down for generations.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Chicken Taco Casserole

Well, been busy with being married and hunting for a job but I've had more time in the kitchen. If you try these, I hope they work out for you as well as they did for me.

Chicken Taco Casserole

2 Chicken Breasts
2 Tbls Olive Oil
4 oz Can Chilies
14.7 oz Can Black Beans
14.7 oz Can Regular Corn
Mexican Four Blend Cheese
1 Jar Salsa (pick your heat)
Cumin (taste)
Cayenne (taste)
Chili Powder (taste)
Black Pepper
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Corn Chips
Penne or other tubular pasta enough to cover bottom of casserole dish (about 2-3 servings)

Heat oil in skillet
Preheat oven to 325 (temperature may vary, I’m using gas oven)
Cook chicken on low heat in skillet; season with garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper
In another pot start cooking pasta
When both sides are sufficiently cooked slice into smaller pieces
Layer pasta on bottom of casserole dish
Mix Chilies, Corn, Beans, Cayenne, Cumin, Chili Powder, and Salsa
Spread some of the mixture over the pasta
Layer chicken on top spreading rest of the mixture on top
Layer top with corn chips, spread cheese over the top
Cook at 325 for 45 minutes

For a vegetarian version remove the chicken and add a layer of brown or black beans.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Sauteed Peppers in a Spicy Soy-Ginger Sauce

When I was a kid, both of my parents worked long hours and did not have the time to prepare meals at home. This meant that frozen dinners were often found warming in the microwave. One of my favorite types was pepper steak with rice. All I had to do was add a little bit of La Choy soy sauce (I know, I know), and I was in heaven.

My appreciation of food, and soy sauce, has come a long way since then. However, I still have an affinity for the tastes that defined my childhood. I began to play around with a recipe to replicate pepper steak at home. With a little trial and error, I have come across a flavor that is much better than the flavor held in my memory, but still as heartwarming as what I grew up on.


This recipe doesn't have meat in it. If you want to add meat, add it to a pan, with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Cook over medium heat, until brown before you saute the vegetables. Also, add the flour to the meat instead of the veggies.

4 Large Bell Peppers, sliced into strips - Colors of your choice.
2 Serrano Chili Peppers, diced.
1 Large Yellow Onion, sliced into rings and sliced through on one end.
3 Cloves Garlic, minced.
2-3 Tbsp Ginger, minced.
1/2 C Soy Sauce
1 1/2 C Water
~ 2 Tbsp Flour
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper, to taste.
Prepared Long Grain Brown Rice

Makes 4 Large Servings.

Preparation
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The colors man....

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A little heat goes a long way. Unless you're me, I like a lot of heat.

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I promised I wouldn't cry...

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Some people say that there is such a thing as too much garlic, they're wrong.

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The ginger really makes this dish.

In a large saute pan, over medium heat, add two tablespoons of olive oil.
When the oil is heated through,(throw in an onion slice to check), add the onions.
Cook until clear.
Add the garlic and ginger, saute until fragrant.
Add the Serrano, sauteing for a few minutes.
Add the flour. Make sure all the veggies are coated and beginning to get gummy. If necessary, add more flour.

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Add the water and the soy sauce.

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Bring to a boil, and then simmer until the sauce thickens.
Serve over rice.

Voila!
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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pick-a-peck of spicy...carrots?

Bulgarian Carrots, to be precise; which I picked up at the Farmer's Market a few weeks ago. These little beauties are an heirloom variety that pack quite a punch. They're not as hot as a Serrano Pepper, but they beat a mild jalapeno hands down. While I am partial to a pepper with a nice heat, that is not the reason I am interested in this pepper.

The main reason that I find this pepper so intriguing is the color. Instead of the normal green to red transition of a pepper, this pepper when fully ripe takes on, and maintains, a yellowish-orange to orange appearance.

Bulgarian Carrots

As you can see, my peppers still need a bit more time to fully ripen, and then I will dissect one of them to collect the seeds. And the rest? The rest I am not sure about. I think they would be a great addition to a peach salsa; as for the rest of them, I am still pondering their fate. If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Easter Lamb

For the Greek Orthodox religion, Easter often falls after the normal Easter celebration. So, while I am not an adherent to any faith, this would be the time for me to go home and enjoy a lovely Easter meal with my family. Unfortunately, school comes first, so I cannot make it home. So, in lieu of me actually enjoying some wonderful lamb and potatoes this weekend, I will post the recipe that my father uses to make the yearly lamb. Enjoy.


5-6 lb Leg of Lamb, boned out.
6-8 garlic cloves
1 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 heaping Tbsp oregano
Turkey cooking bags

Wash the leg off.
Mix salt, pepper, and oregano
Rub leg with lemon juice,let side 5 min
then rub with olive oil all sides, let stand 5 min
Rub mixed salt-pepper-oregano on all sides

Place water in cooking bag,
Place cooking bag in roaster or pan in the oven
Preheat the oven and bag to 400 deg,
Place leg and garlic cloves in preheated cooking bag and close, poke fork in bag to relieve pressure
Reduce heat to 200 deg
Cook with meat thermometer to 140 deg internal,
Remove from heated oven and let stand

Potatoes
Peel and quarter potatoes,
Add olive olive oil to bottom of roasting pan,
Stir potatoes evenly coat with oil
Position the potatoes so they are about a single layer deep
Add 1 cup of liquid from the lamb
Sprinkle, to flavor, with salt pepper and oregano mixture
Add enough water to cover potatoes,
Cook at 325 deg, until the tops begin to turn golden brown, or until soft if you're in a hurry.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Cooking Up A Storm

I love cooking. My father taught me from a young age how to appreciate food and how to cook food that was inspired by what was on the shelf and in the store, not hindered by the limits of a cookbook.


From the age of ten up until I came to college, I cooked everything and I cooked often. Dinner was often up to me, my family was often a source of guinea pigs for my latest concoction. Then I hit college and dorm life, the spark didn't die but it did recede to corner of my mind. Every now and then, the ember would flare and I would go out of my way to find a kitchen where I could cook a meal but it would die back down.

When I left the dorms to live with my wife, the spark once again started to grow. I spent the whole summer making new dishes and using obscure recipes to build off of. I focused largely on foods that I had grown up with. Most of my focus was on Greek dishes, especially comfort foods such as spanikopita and avgolemono. Unfortunately, the summer only lasts so long.

When I returned to school, the spark once again began to die down. My roommates, being bachelors, have little taste. Some of the shit they eat is absolutely frightening. The Hippie often eats things like corn chips slathered with gravy and covered with cooked peas, or leftover Chinese food burritos, or the mystery-mix-of- the-day wraps. Cooking good food seemed pointless and the passion began to die down once again. The Tech is often more refined in his food selection but corn chips and nacho cheese, or meat chili with crackers are often a staple of his diet.

Then I started to spend time with the Flock, a group of friends that have known each other for almost as long as I have been in college. The members of the flock all have an affinity for food that helped my love of food reemerge. Because of my exposure to a group of people that love food as much as I do, I have made a commitment to get back into cooking and to start over from the beginning. To relearn all the basic skills and to bring my wife along for the journey... lucky her.

At the beginning of February, I bought eight books on food and cooking from Amazon.com. At this point, I have received four of those books:
Les Halles Cookbook - Anthony Bourdain
Think Like a Chef - Tom Colicchio
On Food and Cooking - Harold McGee
The Flavor Bible - Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg

The books that haven't arrived yet are:
Essentials of Cooking - James Patterson
Le Bernardin Cookbook - Maguy Le Coze and Eric Ripert
Jacques Pepin's Complete Techniques - Jacques P├ępin
The Art of Eating - MFK Fisher

These books fill two desires: My desire to relearn the basics and the desire to feed my obsession with cooking and food.

In addition, I bought some new items for the kitchen. A food processor, some pans that aren't so cheap that they warp and bend, a few other odds and ends, and my baby....
Henckels Twin Pro S 8in Hollow Edge Chef's Knife which I got for a cheaper price elsewhere.

My kitchen probably won't develop any farther than this unless we get my wife a stand mixer, which I know she would love. Unfortunately, we do not know where we will end up in the future, but I hope to have much more done once we have found out where we will be going for the years following this Master's Program stint.

Chicken, Andouille, and Shrimp Gumbo

I made gumbo today, it was very tasty.




Chicken, Shrimp, and Andouille Sausage Gumbo

This is a recipe for feeding a lot of people or for lots of leftovers. It fills up a 4 Qt slow Cooker to the brim. Keep this in mind if you're not planning on a feast.

Ingredients
3 Cups Chicken Stock
5 Cups Water
2 Green Peppers
2 Large Onions
2 Celery Stalks
4 Cloves Garlic
1/2 lb Okra
3/4 Tbsp Cayenne Pepper, or more if you like more heat
3 Cooked Chicken Breasts
1 lb Andouille Sausage
1 lb Cooked Shrimp, deveined and tails off
1 3/4 Cup Flour
1 Cup Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Green Onion, chopped
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Cooked White Rice

Prep

- Veggies
2 Bell Peppers, finely chopped
2 Celery Stalks, finely chopped
2 Large Onions, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 lb okra sliced (not added in this dish as it is unavailable around here at this time)

Green Onion, chopped ~ 1/2 cup

- Meat
1 lb Cooked Andouille Sausage Sliced, 1/2" slices
1 lb Cooked Shrimp, deveined and tails off
3 Cooked Chicken Breasts, diced


In the slow cooker, add one half of the stock on high and cover.

Roux
Heat medium saucepan over medium heat
Add oil
When heated, add flour (add a pinch of flour to oil, if it bubbles, it is heated)

Whisk every 15 seconds or so, for 35-45 minutes
35 minutes should produce a lighter brown roux, 45 minutes should produce a chocolate color mixture that is very thin.
Do not leave the roux unattended during this process, if you burn the roux, you have to start over from the beginning.
When the roux is done (dark and thin) add the onion, celery, and bell pepper.
Cook until the onion turns clear.

Slow Cooker
Add the other half of the stock to the roux in small increments to keep the temperature from dropping too much.
Pour into the slow cooker.

Add the water, garlic, the spices, the chicken, and the sausage to the cooker.
Put the cooker on low, to cook throughout the day. Or put the cooker on high, and cook for 4-6 hours. About an hour before serving, add the Okra and the Shrimp.

In a gumbo bowl, or a deep enough vessel, mound 1-1/14 cup of rice in the bottom.
Ladle the gumbo over the rice and serve.
I always add plenty of Tabasco to my gumbo.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Interview with Anthony Bourdain

Here is an interesting interview with Anthony Bourdain.  I especially like the last paragraph where he goes into the US fast food obsession.