Wednesday, September 22, 2010

This is not a post about food, and may be upsetting to other animal lovers.

I had to kill a mouse the other day -- manually. I had to stamp on it, since it was in my house and seeming like it was sick. I felt horrible doing it, and still do, but I couldn't have it around. It was a really unpleasant thing to do, and I still feel really bad for the little guy.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Quick" Weeknight Chili

In a large pot, dump in one can of tomato puree and a can of chopped tomatoes, a can of red beans and a can of black beans.

1 medium onion, one yellow bell pepper, two large cloves of garlic, all minced and sauteed in 1/2 tbsp olive oil until the peppers just start to char. I added the garlic towards the end so that it wouldn't burn. Dump in the pot and turn on the heat to medium.

Brown 1 lb ground beef and add to the pot. Roughly chop three strips of bacon (I used turkey bacon -- HEALTHY!) and crisp them up in the reserved beef fat and add to the pot.

Add to the pot: 1-2 tsp cumin, 1/3 cup chipotle salsa (I would have used minced chipotles in adobo sauce, but didn't have any on hand), 1-2 tsp chili powder (or several drops of Dave's Insanity Sauce), 1 tbsp light brown sugar, 1 tbsp minced cilantro, and some salt and pepper. I also added about a heaping teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa powder.

Bring to the boil, and then back down to simmer. Make sure it's at a regular simmer (not a rolling boil), stir occasionally, and go watch TV and read for a couple hours, or until your dinner partner gets home from yoga. Before serving, add chopped scallions and shredded cheese as desired.

The cornbread? From a box. Still good.

A final note -- for the first hour or so, this looked a heck of a lot more like soup than like chili. Don't panic! At some magic point that hasn't been explained to me, the beans break down and suddenly... chili! Thick, rich and tasty. For a largely improvised recipe, I was rather proud of it.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Brussels Sprouts with Parmigiano and Panko

Take 1 lb brussels sprouts, trimmed of the bottoms and any yellow leaves. Simmer in a heavy covered pan with about one inch of lightly salted water for about 7 minutes.

Drain, and toss with about a tablespoon of olive oil.

Shred 3/4 cup of parmigiano reggiano, and mix with an equal amount of panko breadcrumbs, with a teaspoon each of Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix this around with the sprouts, and bake for 10-15 minutes, uncovered, at 350.

Photo credit: essgee51

Monday, March 8, 2010

Pot Roast

Although the chill weather seems to be fading fast, I wanted to try my hand at this winter classic. I combined a sort of mish-mash of recipes -- Mark Bittman's from "How To Cook Everything", Alton Brown's, and my Mom (I called her to ask her how she used to make it back when I was a kid). What I was after was that perfect falling-apart richness that you scarcely need a knife for, and it pretty much worked.

  • A pot roast, about 3 lbs. The cut was chuck round? I think. It was a big piece of cow, nicely marbled.
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • One head of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 5 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • Two medium/large potatoes, chopped
  • 2-3 cups of red wine - I used about a third of a large bottle
  • Cumin
  • Salt and pepper
Rub the meat all over with 1/2 teaspoon of cumin and 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt. Preheat your oven to about 350, and heat up a cast-iron skillet that has a heavy lid. Pretty damn hot, I'd say -- I left it until it was nearly smoking over medium-high heat. Pour in about a tablespoon of vegetable oil, and sear the roast on all sides. Once nicely browned all over (this is for flavor and color) remove and put aside. In the same pan, sautee your onion and garlic with a bit of Kosher salt, until softened. Put the roast back in the pan, cover with the veggies, add the wine, and cover tightly. If you're using my proportions, and have a 12" skillet, this should juuuuuust fit.

Cook in the 350 degree oven for approximately 3 hours, and test for doneness. Does it smell wonderful? Does it pretty much fall apart at the sight of a fork? It's good. Eat now, or save until the next day to reheat -- it also lends itself to being stretched with additional potatoes, peas, etc. Economical and versatile, perfect for this kind of meal.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Worst Pies in London

Well, not the worst pies by any stretch, and not in London either. Inspired by a meat pie that my Mom made to have over my time spent in Pennsylvania at Christmas, I whipped this up last night. It was tasty, but I went too thick on the dough, which I think I would have preferred thinner.

For the crust:
  • One double batch of the crusty pie dough from Bittman's "How to Cook Everything"
For the filling:
  • One NY strip, minced into small (~1cm) cubes
  • One medium sized veal kidney, likewise minced
  • One medium onion, chopped
  • One medium apple, minced
  • Salt, pepper, thyme and a little flour.
And that's about it -- just seal up the pie, and coat with a light egg-wash. Bake at 350 for about 90 minutes. As I said, next time I am going to go easier on the dough, and perhaps add carrots and/or peas.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cream of Mushroom and Potato Soup (With Chicken)

Wow, I haven't posted in too long. Well, this is as good a post as any to break my silence with -- I thought it turned out really well

  • 5-6 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • About twice as much vegetable stock as would be required to cook them in
  • A bundle of fresh herbs, tied in cheesecloth for easy removal
  • 1 lb white mushrooms, stemmed, cleaned, and finely chopped in the Cuisinart, then cooked in 1 tbsp butter along with a minced shallot
  • 2 chicken breasts, boneless, and marinated in lemon, olive oil, and fresh dill (marinated for at least a couple of hours).
  • A pint of heavy cream or half-and-half
  • 1 tbsp flour, for thickening if necessary
Cook the potatoes in the vegetable stock (I home-made mine, but that's another story) until quite done. Add the mushroom mixture and flour puree with an immersion blender (or, I suppose in a regular blender until creamy. Add the cream, and let it get all hot again -- just below boiling.

In the meantime, simply pan fry the lemony-dilly chicken until nicely browned, but not cooked through. On a cutting board, slice them thinly, and add them to the soup. They add flavor to the soup, and vice versa. Check them for done-ness periodically, and when they're done, so is the soup. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, if you have any.

Filling, warming on a cold evening, and quite rich.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Chicken Salad

Well, with the remains of our Thanksgiving Chicken (the white meat at least, the dark was long gone, thanks to two hungry people who love those parts) I made what I think of as a classic chicken salad. We've had it two nights in a row, once on pumpernickel swirl toast and last night on soft buns, which we both preferred. It gave it a more picknicky feel, somehow. Anyhow:

  • Jeez, I don't know how much chicken. Basically the meat from the breast of a roasted 5 lb chicken, more or less. Dice fairly finely.
  • 2-2 1/2 stalks of celery, also diced finely
  • 1 large onion, diced finely
  • 1 cup ( or more, totally up to you) of mayo. I used Hellman's, having had a complete Mayonnaise Fail trying to make home-made.
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 4-5 pickled Gherkins, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1-2 teaspoons Chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill (fresh would be better, but gimme a break, it's December)
  • Squeeze of juice from half a lemon
  • Ground pepper
And that's about it. Combine it all in a big bowl, and put in the fridge, covered. It will be nice immediately, better later that day, and much better the next evening.