My recipes are meant to be shared and enjoyed. I welcome you to re-post my recipes and text. I ask only that you credit me and include a link to my blog if you post any of my content.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Homemade Dark Beer Mustard

This mustard is malty from the vinegar and beer, spicy from the horseradish, and with every bite the mustard seeds pop, flooding your mouth with their savory flavor.

1 cup malt vinegar
1 cup dark beer (a dark ale or stout works well)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup brown or black mustard seed, toasted in a skillet until very fragrant
1 tablespoon caraway seed, crushed and toasted in a skillet until very fragrant
2 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch cardamom
pinch ground mace
pinch nutmeg
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
4 teaspoons Steen's Pure Cane Syrup
4 tablespoons Colman's mustard powder

This recipe will make about 3 cups of mustard.

Sterilize a canning jar and lid.

Bring the vinegar, beer, and garlic to a boil in a small saucepan. Turn off the heat and let steep for 15 to 20 minutes, then strain the mixture and discard the solids. Bring back to a boil, then add the mustard seeds and caraway, turn off the heat, and let steep for 30 minutes.

Combine the vinegar/mustard mixture with the horseradish, coriander, cayenne, cardamom, mace, nutmeg, salt, and cane syrup. Whisk in the mustard powder.

Pour into the sterilized jar, put the lid on, and process in a water bath for 15 minutes. When cool, tighten the lid and make sure the jar is sealed. Place in a cool, dark place and let mature for 3 to 4 weeks before using to allow the flavors to marry and mellow.

Refrigerate after opening.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Two Must-See Programs For Foodies (Especially Texas Foodies) Coming Soon

The new season of Next Iron Chef featuring two of my favorite chefs, Anne Burrell and Chuck Hughes, and an overall incredible cast of contestants, begins October 30th on Food Network.  Don't miss it!  Check out this link for more info:

And as a Native Texan, I'm anxiously awaiting Top Chef Texas on Bravo, which premiers on November 2nd.  Check out this link for more info:

Don't forget to set your DVRs for these great food competition programs!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Puerto Rican Carne Mechada/Cuban Boliche Hybrid Recipe

All us good ole southern girls grew up with pot roast.  Here's a Latin twist on our down-home favorite.

Puerto Rican Carne Mechada and Cuban Boliche are variations on a theme of succulent stuffed beef eye of round roast, with a savory sauce, cooked either on the stovetop or in the oven until tender.  There are lots of recipes out there with varying ingredients and cooking methods.  The following recipe combines my favorite elements from each version and was inspired by a couple of recipes, namely Carne Mechada -- Puerto Rican Stuffed Pot Roast from the blog Platanos, Mangoes and Me, and Cuban Boliche from the blog CDKitchen.

This is so yummy.  Savoriness inside the roast, savoriness in the sauce, super yum.  The roast is tender because of the pre-salting and the slow braising, even though it's a totally affordable cut.  I hope you'll enjoy it.

Just a note:  I had intended to cube up some potatoes and add them to the Dutch oven during the last 30 minutes of cooking and just totally forgot (probably because we're so in the habit of limiting our intake of starchy carbs).  That would have been a really great addition, though, to soak up the yummy sauce, either that or a scoop of the fabulous white rice that Puerto Ricans and Cubanos are famous for.  This recipe absolutely screams for some potatoes or rice to sop up all the crazy good sauce.

Puerto Rican Carne Mechada/Cuban Boliche Hybrid Recipe

3-4 lb. beef eye round roast
Kosher salt
3.5 oz. package Goya (or your favorite brand) Spanish chorizo (divided use)
2 oz. manzanilla olives with pimientos (divided use)
1 head of garlic, separated into cloves (divided use)
1 packet of Goya sazon seasoning
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cubanelle peppers or 1 green bell pepper
1 medium onion
1 tablespoon dry oregano
4 bay leaves
1 cup red wine (I used Merlot, but I think the best option would be Chilean Carmenere if I hadn't finished off that bottle last week)
2 tablespoons capers
15 oz. can of tomato sauce
1 cup beef broth (I had homemade chicken broth so I used that instead)
1 bunch of cilantro

Rinse the roast and pat dry with paper towels.  Pierce a hole through the middle of the roast lengthwise.  I used a bread knife because it's really long and the blade is the same width along its entire length so it can make a nice even hole.  Rub the roast with a teaspoon of Kosher salt.  Rub the salt all over the outside and into the hole you just pierced as much as possible.  Let it sit at room temperature for about 2 hours.

While the roast is sitting and "salting," cut the chorizos into quarters lengthwise, peel away the casings, and slice the quarters.  Drain the olives.  Peel the garlic cloves and cut any large cloves in half.

Rinse the salt off the roast and pat dry with paper towels.  Time to stuff the roast with yumminess.  Starting with two chorizo pieces in each hand, insert them into the holes in the roast from each end until they meet in the middle, then insert a garlic clove or garlic clove half from each end, then an olive from each end.  Continue inserting two chorizo pieces from each end, followed by a garlic clove from each end, and an olive from each end until the cavity is filled.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Sprinkle the sazon all over the "stuffed" roast and rub it into the meat.  Let the stuffed, seasoned roast sit at room temp while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Dice the cubanelles or bell pepper and the onion.  Mince the leftover garlic cloves.  Cut the leftover olives in half.  Drain the capers.  Rough chop the cilantro.

Heat a Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add olive oil.  Add roast and brown on all sides by cooking 2-4 minutes on each side, turning until it's browned all over.  Remove browned roast to a plate.  Reduce heat to medium low and allow the Dutch oven to cool until the oil isn't smoking.

When the olive oil in the Dutch oven has cooled a bit, add the leftover chorizo.  Cook and stir a couple of minutes.  Add the diced cubanelles or bell pepper and the diced onion, oregano, and bay leaves.  Cook, stirring frequently, until pepper and onion is opaque.  Add the leftover garlic and cook for a couple of minutes, allowing the moisture released by the veggies to cook off.

Add the red wine, stirring to deglaze the pan.  Add the leftover olives, the capers, tomato sauce, broth, and cilantro.  Bring to a simmer, then add the roast back into the pan.  Spoon the sauce over the roast.

Put the lid on the Dutch oven and put it in the oven to braise for 2 hours.

Remove roast, slice, and serve with lots of sauce.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Kisir (Turkish Bulgur Wheat Salad)

Kisir is a Turkish salad made with bulgur (cracked wheat).  I'd never heard of it until my husband's coworker from Turkey told him about it.  It's similar to Lebanese tabouli, but incorporates red pepper paste that gives it a nice tangy flavor and pretty color.  This recipe is an amalgamation of what I found when I Googled-searched Kisir recipes.  I can't tell you if it's authentic since I've never had it before, but it tastes really good.  And it's loaded with fiber and nutrients, always a bonus.

Turkish bulgur and red pepper paste.  Cool, huh?

Kisir Recipe

1 1/2 cup fine bulgur

6 green onions, white part and some of the green part sliced thin
2 Kirby cucumbers, seeded and diced
2 tomatoes, diced
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped mint
2 tablespoons chopped dill

3 tablespoons Turkish red pepper paste (there are mild and spicy versions; I used mild)
juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
crushed red pepper to taste (omit if using spicy red pepper paste)
salt to taste

Put the bulgur in a medium-sized bowl.  Add enough simmering water to just cover; that will be roughly 1 1/2 cups water.  Let sit for 15 minutes to absorb the water.  While you're waiting for the water to absorb you can prepare the veggies and herbs.

In a large bowl, mix the onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, parsley, mint, and dill.  Add the red pepper paste, lemon juice, olive oil, pomegranate molasses, crushed red pepper if using, and a few pinches of salt.  Mix well and let the veggie mixture sit for a few minutes for the salt to dissolve and the flavors to blend.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Pour the soaked bulgur into the veggie mixture, mix well, and serve.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Making Pesto With Morgan

Morgan is a wee bit shy and doesn't like for me to post photos of her.  I think she'll be okay, though, with this little pic of her presenting the yummy pesto that she made with me.

Homemade Basil Pesto

2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup walnuts
3 peeled and roughly chopped garlic cloves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese or a combination of the two
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Use the measurements as guidelines and adjust the amounts to suit your taste.

In a small saute pan or skillet, toast the pine nuts and walnuts over medium heat, shaking constantly, for a few minutes to give them a nice toasty flavor, but being careful not to let them burn ... the difference between toasted nutty goodness and blaring smoke alarm is, oh, about a second, haha.  Let the nuts cool until they can be handled easily.

Put the basil, pine nuts, and walnuts in a food processor and pulse a few times to roughly chop.  Add the garlic cloves and pulse a few times.

With the food processor running, slowly stream in the olive oil.  Stop processing and scrape down the sides of the food processor with a spatula.

Add the grated cheese and pulse just to combine.  Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper and pulse to combine.

Let the pesto rest for a few minutes, especially if you're using Kosher salt, which has larger granules than table salt and needs some time to dissolve.  Then give your pesto a quick pulse in the food processor, taste it, and add more olive oil, salt, or pepper if necessary.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Spaghetti squash is a tasty, low-carb option to use in place of pasta.  I'm not gonna lie to you, it absolutely does not have the same flavor and consistency as pasta; it is, however, yummy and satisfying.  You can mix it with leftover tomato sauce and top it with cheese to make a great low-carb meatless casserole.  This is a nice Meatless Monday kind of main dish if you're trying to reduce your carb or animal protein intake or cook on a budget.  And a big bonus for my family is that our young'uns like it and every serving provides them a couple of their daily servings of veggies as well as some calcium.

I don't have exact measurements to give you for this recipe.  I used two fairly small spaghetti squash, a few cups of leftover tomato sauce, and enough grated Mozzarella cheese to cover the surface of the mixture, and cooked it in an 8-by-8 baking dish.

For the tomato sauce, here's a recipe for a quick and easy weeknight tomato sauce or use your favorite recipe.

There are several ways to prepare spaghetti squash.  You can Google "how to cook spaghetti squash" for info about different prep methods.  I chose the method where you cut the squash in half lengthwise before baking.  This requires a very, very sharp chef's knife or cleaver and some muscle; having a strong hubby to hack through the squash for you is highly recommended (muchas gracias, mi amor!).  After you cut the squash in half, scrape out the seeds and pulp.  If you're patient, it's worth separating out the seeds to roast in the oven, just like pumpkin seeds.  They're super-yummy!

Line a baking sheet with foil and spray the foil with nonstick spray.  Put the squash halves cut side down on the foil and bake at 375 degrees until you can easily insert a fork right through the skins and the flesh, about 30 to 45 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a while, then use a fork to scrape the flesh from the squash.  The flesh will shred into spaghetti-like strands as it's scraped.

Shredded spaghetti squash

Mix the squash and tomato sauce and put it in a greased casserole dish. 

Cover with a nice, thick layer of grated Mozzarella. 

Bake at 375 degrees until the casserole is hot and the cheese is ooey-gooey melted, 20 to 30 minutes.

Broccoli Cauliflower Cheese Soup

This twist on broccoli cheese soup is creamy, cheesy, and pretty darn nutritious.  It has just a touch of butter and flour, only enough to allow the cheese to melt without separating, and it has milk instead of cream.  The primary thickener is the cauliflower.  Our gradually-becoming-less-picky kiddos like this soup, and it provides them lots of veggies and calcium ... winning!!!

For the cheddar in this recipe I highly recommend the Cabot extra sharp white cheddar available at Wal-Mart.  I know, it's totally counterintuitive to think the best cheese comes from Wal-Mart, but this is our family favorite for taste, smooth melting, and reasonable price ... go figure.

One other recommendation, and it's about specialty ingredients.  It's seldom necessary to invest in specialty ingredients.  For instance, the cheapest black peppercorns will taste great as long as they're freshly ground and I love Lawry's seasoned salt more than any higher-priced version I've ever had.  Once in a while, though, a specialty ingredient really makes the recipe, well, special.  I think that's the case with this soup, where I used Penzeys toasted granulated onion (no, they don't pay me anything to tout their products; boy, don't I wish).  You can of course substitute regular onion powder, but the results just won't be quite as toasty yummy good.

Broccoli Cauliflower Cheese Soup Recipe

3/4 pound broccoli crowns
1 head of cauliflower
cloves of half a head of garlic
2 cups stock (see note)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup lowfat milk
1/2 pound grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons toasted granulated onion
salt and freshly ground black pepper
splash of Sherry (optional)

Note:  The best stock for this soup is a smoky one, such as a stock made from smoked chicken or ham bones.  Use the best stock you have available.


Rinse and drain the broccoli and cauliflower.  Trim away the very ends of the broccoli stems and any leaves.  Cut the florets off the stems and roughly chop the florets.  Set the chopped florets aside.  Roughly chop the broccoli stems.  

Cut the cauliflower head in quarters and cut away the stem/core and leaves.  Rough chop the quartered cauliflower. 

Peel the garlic cloves.

(Remember to throw all the veggie trimming "discards" in your freezer bag for making stock later.)

Veggies prepped and ready to fulfill their soup destiny

Fill a large heavy-bottomed stockpot with water, add a few big pinches of salt, and bring to a low boil.  Add the broccoli stem chunks, the cauliflower chunks, and the garlic cloves.  Boil gently until all veggies are very tender and can be easily pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes.

Once you have the broccoli stems, cauliflower, and garlic boiling in the salted water, bring the stock to a boil in a large saucepan, add broccoli florets, and gently boil while you complete the remaining steps.

When the broccoli stems, cauliflower, and garlic are tender, drain them through a strainer, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.  Put the heavy-bottomed stockpot back on the range; you're going to use it again.  Process the broccoli stems, cauliflower, and garlic in a food processor or blender until smooth, working in batches if necessary, and adding a little of the cooking water if necessary.

In the heavy-bottomed stockpot, melt the butter over medium heat, add the flour, and whisk for a couple of minutes to cook the flour.  Whisk in the milk and continue whisking until the mixture thickens like gravy.  Add the cheese a handful at a time, stirring to incorporate.

When all the cheese has melted, pour in the stock with the broccoli florets, add the toasted granulated onion, salt and pepper to taste, and Sherry, if using.  Simmer for a while before serving to allow all the flavors to blend.

Makes roughly (very roughly) 2 1/2 quarts of soup.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Pause To Admire Nature's Beauty

This beautiful anole took a stroll across our patio railing.  Check out his beautiful scarlet throat.

Succulent Roast Chicken

This is a simple recipe for roast chicken.

1 3-5 pound brined chicken
10 or more garlic cloves, peeled
1 lime, cut in half
Olive oil
Spice rub of your choice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cover a shallow sheet pan with aluminum foil (for easy cleanup later).  Spray both sides of a baking rack with oil (also for easy cleanup later), using your Misto sprayer or a Pam-type cooking spray.  Set the baking rack on top of the foil-lined sheet pan. 

Stuff the chicken cavity with the peeled garlic cloves and the lime halves. 

Drizzle the chicken with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and plenty of your choice of spice rub.

Rub the oil/salt/pepper/spice rub mixture all over the chicken and under the skin.  Truss the chicken.   While this isn't absolutely necessary, it will give you a prettier, more evenly roasted chicken.  I'm no expert on trussing techniques.  Basically you want to pull the wings in tight to the body of the bird and tie the tips of the drums together.  You can do a Google search for "trussing a chicken" and find some good instructional YouTube videos that can demonstrate far better than I can.

Place the trussed or un-trussed chicken on the baking rack and put it in the preheated oven.  Roast for 30 minutes at 450 degrees, then lower oven temperature to 350 degrees and roast in 30-minute increments until done, checking the temperature of the chicken every 30 minutes with an instant read thermometer.  The USDA recommends an internal temperature of 165 degrees for poultry.  One of the great things about brining your poultry before roasting is that in addition to making it more flavorful it also allows it to retain tenderness and juiciness so you can easily roast it to a safe temperature without drying it out.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Morgan's Cream of Cauliflower Soup

This soup received an enthusiastic seal of approval from my stepdaughter Morgan.  I used homemade smoked chicken stock (made with the carcass of a chicken my hubby smoked) and Penzey's toasted, granulated onion powder, which gave the soup a smoky, toasty flavor and a golden brown color.  Store-bought chicken stock and onion powder would make a really good soup too.  Just use the best ingredients you have available.

This recipe makes enough soup for a starter course for 4 people.

Morgan's Cream of Cauliflower Soup

1 head of cauliflower
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons onion powder
1/2 cup half-and-half
big splash of sherry (optional)

Cut the cauliflower into quarters.  Trim and remove the leaves and core (don't forget to toss them into a freezer bag for making veggie broth).  Roughly dice the cauliflower quarters into chunks.  Boil the cauliflower chunks in lightly salted water in a saucepot until very tender, about 10-15 minutes.  Drain.

Meanwhile, as the cauliflower is boiling, melt butter in a large, heavy saucepan.  Add the flour and cook and whisk for several minutes to cook the flour.  Whisk in the chicken stock, several grinds of black pepper, and onion powder.  Stir in the cauliflower.  Simmer 5 minutes to marry the flavors. 

Carefully puree the soup using an immersion (stick) blender.  Alternatively, you can cool the soup for a while and puree it in a blender, then return it to the saucepan.

Add half-and-half and sherry and simmer another 5 minutes, then serve.

Chicken with Asiago, Prosciutto, and Sage

This recipe is slightly adapted from this recipe from the blog Dinners for a Year and Beyond.

Chicken with Asiago, Prosciutto, and Sage

serves 4-6

2 pounds of chicken breast tenders, pounded to 1/4-inch thickness
salt and pepper
4 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 pound asiago cheese (shredded or sliced into thin strips)
1/2 pound thin prosciutto slices
2/3 cup dry white wine
2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
whole sage leaves (for garnish)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

First sprinkle chicken all over very lightly with salt and set aside for a few minutes while you measure and prepare the other ingredients.

Sprinkle salted chicken with pepper and dredge in flour, shaking off excess.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter with the olive oil in large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add chicken breasts and saute until brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side.  Lay the chicken pieces in a rimmed baking sheet and set the saute pan aside; you'll be using the pan with any remaining drippings for the sauce.

Sprinkle or place most of the cheese over the chicken pieces, then drape prosciutto slices over each chicken piece, and finally top with the remainder of the cheese.  Bake until the cheese melts and the prosciutto gets slightly crisp, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile add wine, minced sage, and remaining 2 tablespoons butter to skillet.  Boil until sauce is reduced by half, scraping up brown bits.  Add a squeeze of lemon juice.

Transfer chicken pieces to serving platter.  Top each with a sage leaf, drizzle pan sauce over, and serve.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Chicken Stir-Fry

Most of us home cooks don't have the mega BTU output stovetops needed for truly authentic wok cooking.  But with a little thoughtful ingredient prep we can create a pretty darn good replica.  Currently I'm using a big cast-iron skillet on an electric stove, so this is totally a do-what-you-can-with-what-you-have kind of recipe.

When prepping ingredients, remember to cut them to a size that's convenient for eating with chopsticks (the only proper way to eat stir-fry) and prep them so that they cook in only a couple of minutes.

In this recipe I use velveted chicken, which is perfect for cooking quickly over medium-high heat.  I salt the squash, then rinse and pat dry.  This gives the squash some flavor, and more importantly removes a lot of moisture so that the squash can cook quickly into lovely individual golden bites and not turn into a mushy, gloppy, tasteless mess.  I blanch the broccoli in salted water, and drain.  That preserves the beautiful green color and perfectly prepares the broccoli for quick stir-frying.

Have fun experimenting with stir-fry ingredients.  Prep veggies according to their textures.  When you're prepping soft, high-moisture veggies (squash, zucchini squash, tomatoes), salt for at least 30 minutes, rinse, and pat them dry.  When you're prepping firmer, tougher veggies (broccoli, green beans, asparagus), blanch in boiling salted water and drain.  Quick-cooking ingredients like mushrooms, sprouts, green onions, and herbs don't need any special prep treatment; just add them to the skillet or wok toward the end of the cooking process.  The objective is for every ingredient to be flavorful, cook quickly, and not leave a puddle of water in the skillet or wok.

Chicken Stir-Fry Recipe

1 1/2 pounds of velveted chicken pieces
1/4 cup peanut oil
1 yellow summer squash, cut in bite-size chunks
1 broccoli crown, cut in small florets
kosher salt
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup bean sprouts
1/4 cup soy sauce
chopped basil and cilantro to taste

Prepare The Squash:
Place in a colander over a bowl and sprinkle all over with kosher salt. Let sit at least 30 minutes to allow the salt to draw the moisture out of the squash. Then rinse well, drain, and pat dry on paper towels.

Prepare The Broccoli:
Boil salted water in a medium-size saucepan. Drop the broccoli in, bring water back to a boil, and cook for 1 minute. Drain the broccoli from the water and cool in an ice bath or under cool running water to stop the cooking process.

Heat the peanut oil in a cast-iron skillet or wok over medium-high heat.  Don't be afraid of heat here.  You want everything to brown a little to develop the flavor and you're using enough oil and stirring constantly so nothing sticks.  Add chicken and stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes, until it starts to brown.  Add squash and stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes, until it starts to brown.  Add broccoli and stir-fry 1 minute.  Add green onion, bean sprouts, and soy sauce and stir-fry 1 minute.  Turn off heat, add basil and cilantro, stir well, and serve. 

Don't forget the chopsticks!

Velveting Chicken

I recently discovered the technique of velveting chicken.  It's sort of a parcooking method for chicken so that you can then stir-fry it in your favorite recipe without it overcooking and becoming dry.  The results are surprisingly good and the technique is pretty simple, always a combination I like. 

Whenever you prepare chicken, I recommend brining the chicken first to make it juicy, tender, and tasty.  That holds true for chicken for stir-fry.  It's not essential to brine, but the results are worth the small investment of effort and time.  If you brine and velvet chicken for your next stir-fry, it'll be the difference between, "This chicken is good," and "Wow, how did you make this?!"

Velveting Chicken

1 1/2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breast, fat and any other "icky" stuff trimmed away, cut into small bites or small strips for stir-frying (brined if desired), rinsed and patted dry
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups peanut oil

In a bowl large enough to easily hold the chicken, mix the egg white and cornstarch together.  Add the chicken to the egg white/cornstarch mixture and coat well.   The easiest way to coat well is to use the tools God gave you (your hands).  Cover the bowl and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.  Remove from the fridge, empty the chicken into a colander, and allow the excess egg/cornstarch mixture to drain off very well. 

Heat the oil in a wok or Dutch oven to 275 degrees.  Use a candy/frying thermometer to monitor the temperature, and heat the oil slowly as the oil gets to 275 pretty quickly and it's much more time consuming to wait for the oil to cool back down than it is to slowly bring it to temp in the first place.

When oil reaches 275 degrees, drop the chicken pieces in and stir gently to keep them separate and prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  They just need to cook around 30 seconds until they turn very white.  The color change will be really obvious and they'll also float up a bit.  Remove with a spider and drain in a colander or on paper towels to remove the excess oil.

**You're now ready to cook the chicken in your favorite stir-fry recipe.  Please note that after velveting the chicken will not be fully cooked and will not yet be at a safe temperature for consumption.**

One last note:  Using 2 cups of peanut oil for a 30-second cooking process might seem wasteful; however, the oil will still be absolutely pristine after velveting the chicken, so after it cools it can be poured into a jar to save for another use. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Eye of Round Roast

1 1/2 pound eye of round roast
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 head of garlic
1/4 cup capers
6 Thai bird chilis
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 slices of bacon, cut in half
1/2 cup beef broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup armagnac or cognac

I went to one of our favorite Asian markets yesterday, Carrollton Plaza Supermarket, intending to purchase a beef tenderloin.  Normally they have entire beef tenderloins at ridiculously low prices. They didn't have any beef loin; however, they had some eye of round roasts.  I didn't really know anything about preparing eye of round.  It looks pretty, but unfortunately that's probably because it's very lean and has no marbling.  I just bought a small portion, about a pound and a half, so that we could experiment without too much investment.

After doing a fair amount of Google research I found recommendations that ran the gamut from fast high temp cooking with no liquid to slow low temp braising.  Here's the technique I decided on.  I butterflied the loin, then used a multi-blade meat tenderizer ( to perforate the meat all over.  I sprinkled the meat on both sides with the salt and let it rest at room temp for at least an hour.

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.

While the meat was resting with the salt, I coated a cast iron skillet with the olive oil and cooked the bacon slices over low heat to render their fat.

Also while the meat was resting I peeled and diced the garlic, roughly chopped the capers, removed the stems from the peppers, cut them in half, removed the seeds, and very thinly sliced them, ground the black pepper and mixed all that together.

Now rinse the salt off the roast and pat dry.  Put the prepared mixture down the middle.  Either roll up or fold each side in, whichever works better with the cut, shape, and thickness of your eye of round roast.  Then use butcher's twine to truss up your pretty little roast package nice and neat.  Remove the bacon slices from the skillet and reserve them.

Increase the heat to medium high.  Brown the roast all over.  Add the beef broth, soy sauce, and armagnac to the skillet, bring to a low boil, and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Lay the bacon slices over the roast, put the skillet in the oven, and cook at 250 degrees for one hour.  Turn the oven off and leave the roast for one hour without opening the oven.  Remove roast from oven, cut away the trussing, slice, and serve.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Homemade Refried Beans, Ridiculously Easy Method

1 lb. dry pinto beans
1/2 lb. bacon or bacon scraps
cloves of one head of garlic, peeled
1/4 cup reserved bacon grease

Rinse and sort beans.  Soak for about 12 hours.  Put soaked beans, bacon, and garlic in a slow cooker, cover with water by 1 inch, and cook on high power overnight.

Remove the bacon or bacon scraps.  Use a spider or sieve to remove cooked beans from cooking liquid and place into a food processor.  Process until smooth, adding some of the leftover bean cooking liquid as necessary.

Heat the bacon grease in a cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Spoon the beans from the food processor into the skillet and cook and stir until the beans are very hot and all the bacon grease is incorporated into the beans. 

Season with salt and pepper if needed.

Grownup Chicken Nuggets

1.5 to 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
water and ice
1 bunch green onions, sliced and then chopped very fine
2 to 3 inch piece of ginger, grated
1 head of garlic, peeled and pressed through a garlic press
1 bunch culantro (preferred) or cilantro, finely chopped
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 cup (approximate) panko crumbs
3 cups peanut oil

First brine the chicken breast.  In a small amount of water over medium heat, dissolve the kosher salt and sugar.  Let the salt/sugar brine cool.  Meanwhile, rinse the chicken breast and place it in a ziplock bag inside of a large measuring cup or bowl.  When the brine has cooled a bit, add several handfuls of ice cubes to it.  Pour the brine and remaining ice cubes into the ziplock bag with the chicken.  Seal the bag and refrigerate for a few hours.

After 3 to 6 hours remove the chicken from the fridge, drain off the brine, and rinse the chicken.  Trim away any fat and other undesirable stuff from the chicken.  Cut the chicken into large squares and place in the freezer to firm for 1-2 hours. 

Meanwhile, prepare the green onion, garlic, ginger, and culantro or cilantro. 

Remove the now firm chicken from the freezer and drop into a food processor.  Pulse a couple of times to roughly grind the chicken.

Scrape the ground chicken from the food processor into a large mixing bowl and add the green onion, garlic, ginger, culantro or cilantro, and sesame oil.  Mix well with your hands.

Put the panko crumbs on a tray or large plate.  Use a tablespoon disher (recommended) or tablespoon to measure the chicken mixture into balls.  Working with about 5 chicken balls at a time, place them on the panko crumbs, roll around to coat well, and place the finished balls on a platter.  Continue until all the chicken mixture has been prepared into panko-coated balls.

Heat the peanut oil in a Dutch oven to approximately 300 degrees, measuring the temperature with a fat/candy thermometer.  (Try to keep the oil temperature above 280 degrees and below 350 degrees.)  Drop the chicken balls 10-15 at a time into the hot oil and fry approximately 4 minutes or until golden-brown.

Remove with a spider to a cooling rack. Continue until all chicken balls are fried.  Serve with Homemade Teriyaki Sauce for dipping.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Chile Paste

This chile paste is really versatile and will add that special something to your grilled or smoked meats.  It can be rubbed on beef or pork as a marinade before smoking or braising, and it's also a great addition to the masa for tamales to impart color and flavor.


2 dry guajillo peppers
3 dry pasilla peppers
1 dry ancho pepper

1/2 tablespoon annatto seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/8 teaspoon allspice berries
1/2 teaspoon coriander
3 cloves
1/8 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon salt

3 cloves garlic
1 small white or yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 ounces (1/3 of a small can) tomato paste
1/4 cup juice of naranjas agrias (sour oranges) or a combination of orange and lime juice*

In a large skillet over medium heat toast the dry guajillo, pasilla, and ancho peppers, turning frequently, until they smell fragrant and start to puff.  Add enough water to the skillet to cover the peppers, and bring the water to a simmer.  Cover with a lid and turn off the heat.  Allow to cool until the peppers can be handled.

When you can comfortably handle the peppers, remove the stems and seeds.

While you're waiting for the chile peppers to cool, in a spice grinder or coffee grinder devoted to grinding spices, grind the annatto seeds, cumin seeds, allspice berries, coriander, cloves, cinnamon, oregano, and salt to a powder.

In a blender or food processor, grind the garlic, then add the onion, tomato paste, and sour orange juice and process to a paste consistency.  Add the ground spice mixture, and the guajillo, pasilla, and ancho peppers, and continue processing into a paste.

Refrigerate after preparing.

* The only place I've found around here that always has naranjas agrias is my favorite Carnival market at 3460 Webb Chapel Extension in Dallas.  You should be aware that naranjas agrias aren't pretty.  They kinda look like warty oranges.

Shishito Peppers

I've read about the greatness of shishito peppers and finally found them recently at Central Market.  The recipe is simple:  Rinse and dry the peppers.  Heat a skillet over medium-high heat, then add a little olive oil.  Add the peppers and saute until they're blistery all over.  Pour into a serving dish and sprinkle with sea salt or kosher salt.  So simple ... so good!

p.s.  These pretty peppers commanded a pretty penny at Central Market, and while they're well worth the price, I'm a big fan of finding good food at a bargain price.  Well, I've found the same peppers a couple of times now at H Mart here in Carrollton.  They were labeled only as "sweet pepper" and were very inexpensive.  It always pays to examine the offerings at the ethnic markets.

Fresh Shishito Peppers

Mussels, Shrimp, and Chorizo in Garlic, White Wine, and Butter Sauce

Recipe for Mussels, Shrimp, and Chorizo in Garlic, White Wine, and Butter Sauce

I think if you love to cook and have been doing it for a while, you develop an instinct for how food should be prepared, even if it's a food you don't really like. Case in point, I'm not a fan of custardy deserts; however, I can bake what I've been told is a right tasty pumpkin pie. Mussels is another one of those foods that I don't care for.  I've tried to like them, I really have, like three or four times in different preparations, but I'm simply not fond of the texture of mussels. However, I absolutely love the flavor of the broth you get when you prepare them, and my beloved hubby does indeed like mussels. So this recipe is for both of us. It has mussels, a very rich-flavored broth, and shrimp for the non-mussel-lover.

As with most of my recipes the proportions are merely guidelines.  Adjust the amounts to your taste.


Olive oil to coat the skillet
Spanish chorizo, 6 to 10 ounces (we like Goya brand), halved or quartered lengthwise, and sliced
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 small red onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1/2 bulb fennel, white part, diced (you could also use some of the green fronds for garnish)
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 large or 2 small tomatoes, diced
Bulbs of 1 head of garlic, minced
1/2 of a .750 ml. bottle white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
20 mussels, cleaned (discard any that are open and don't close when you tap on them)
10 shrimp, peeled except for tail, and deveined

Heat skillet on medium-low.  Add enough olive oil to coat the skillet.  Add the chorizo and cook gently, stirring frequently, to let the chorizo release some of its fat and red color.

Increase the heat to medium, add the butter, and stir until melted.

Add the onion and bell pepper and stir until translucent.

Add the fennel and smoked paprika and cook for a few minutes.

Add the tomato.

Add the garlic and cook, continuing to stir frequently, for several minutes.

 Add the wine.

Bring to a simmer and reduce by about half.

 Add the shrimp and mussels.

Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover with a lid, and let the seafood simmer/steam for 5 minutes.  Remove the lid and check for doneness.  If the mussels are open and the shrimp is pink, it's done; if not, replace the lid and let it continue to simmer/steam for up to 5 more minutes.  Discard any mussels that don't open.

Serve with plenty of crusty bread to sop up the juices.