Tuesday, November 26, 2013


For many years i thought of the concept of a soup or stew as coming from Northern climates,
so they were filled with root vegetables and starches, fatty meats and heavy spices.
Then i was introduced by two neighbors, one who was originally from El Salvador and the other from the Dominican Republic.  Both soups were a variation of the Dominican "San Cocho", but were served in HOT weather and both were absolutely delicious.
Yucca, corn, a variety of meats, sweet potatoes and rice were some of the components and the spicing seemed light.
I would not attempt either, though one used OX tail as the meat and i was familiar with the concept from my mom.
Closed mined no more, i might make a soup on a warm day, but often on a cold one, if for no ther reason than to warm the house from the stove.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

something different

6 oz fresh spinach, chopped fine (or use defrosted, drained frozen spinach)
1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 large eggs, whipped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon salt
unsalted butter to grease muffin pans

mix all ingredients together and stir well

Bake 17 to 20 minutes at 400 F until the edges just are brown.
cool and refrigerate

Monday, November 11, 2013

slow cooking brisket

this is an art and each person does it a bit different, but there are basics to know.

The first is what you think is enough, will not be.
Properly cooked brisket is consumed and eaten and sought after.
Temperature is truly important - i prefer to do a 180 to 200 F cooking temperature...the last briskets i did stayed at that temperature for 24 hours and was by far the best i have made.
i put a rub on the brisket for 24 hours before it is cooked.  What is in the rub is really up your tastes buds, BUT you need to insure items that will have the taste you want when they are slow cooked.
I use a blend of salt, sugar, hot pepper, paprika, garlic and black pepper.  This does not reach far into the meat, but gives a bite to it as you sink your teeth into it.
Because this is slow and low, i can use garlic.  If it were a high heat the garlic would add bitterness.  I do not use fruit - i reserve that for pork, chicken and salmon.
The wood that is used is also discretionary and usually has to do with the part of the country you are from.  Remembering this, know that fruit tree can give a sweet smoke, nut trees give a stronger, harsher flavor.  Do not use evergreens!
With my wood smoker, i had trouble maintaining the correct temperature without constant supervision.  I was talked into getting an electronic smoker and the temperature is well controlled.
The heat though MUST be moist.  A tray of liquid between the heat source and the brisket is essential.  I tend to just use water, but others use apple juice, wine and any number of non flammable other liquids
After 12 hours of cooking, you should wrap it so it does not lose moisture.
Save the juices that drip into the pan and make a dipping sauce or a gravy if you wish.
Finally, after it is out, you must let the brisket sit a cool a bit before it is cut.
This is artistry in the cooking world...enjoy!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The party

Yes, i threw a party for my birthday,
no i do not have pictures, but others may surface.

The Menu -
24 hour slow smoked brisket - This was incredible, moist and tender and delicious
A sauce to go along with it - i call it a BBQ sauce.  All my BBQ sauce are made from the meat drippings and fruit.  This time i used apples, but my favorite is mango.
Butter beans - Lima beans cooked in a butter sauce
macaroni and cheese - there were 2 kinds, but the adult version (with bacon and crisped ham) did not reheat so well.  The other was perfect.
Salmon - no time to grill, but i used the same orange juice and zest, maple syrup, paprika and smoked salt that i always use and reduced the marinade to make a sauce.
Corn bread - with cheese and peppers and pepitas (pumpkin seeds).
i was going to have some zucchini, but it froze and was not good.
The people who came brought dessert, but it was too much dessert!
we all had lots of fun.
Oh, the numbers of people? 23!
What a good night

Monday, November 4, 2013

Roasting Pumpkin seeds

I keep refining my technique and this is my final product.
With pumpkins in plentiful supply from October through November, i love to cook with them,
but love roasted seeds as well.

First thing i learned was that you first must boil them...
If you want them salted, add 1 teaspoon per pint to the water.
Boil for 30 minutes.

Strain, rinse and blot dry.

place on a sheet tray and spread them out evenly.

This is the next thing i learned...
i normally do a lot of baking and cooking at 350 F  (~ 175 C).
If you use this temperature, you must watch very carefully or the seeds (and other things) will scorch.
I use 300 F (~ 150 C) and let them cook for 2 hours.
leave them in the oven and turn off the heat.
when everything is cool - enjoy eating them!

A very strange Idea

"They say i went crazy once"...
Okay, i think i still am...
There was this chili cook-off benefiting the local food bank, i have participated 4 years now...
the last 3 i made traditional Texas chili, meat, no beans.
It was not received well.
As i said, i went a bit nuts and created a dessert chili...
not just any dessert chili, but a meatless, full of beans, COLD dessert chili!
As it turns out it was not just vegetarian, not just Vegan, but gluten free also.
I was surprised that it was well received in the cold, windy tent where it was held this year.
There were celebrities (Hunter for the Rachel vs Guy kid celebrity chef competition was one).
I did not expect to "win" (and no i did not), but i decided to throw away the box, so here is the recipe:

A special Thanks to Irene Hahn for the pictures!

Vegan and served cold

1 bag dried small red beans
4 apples, cored and peeled
16 oz canned pumpkin
1 red chili peppers, seeded and diced
1 red jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
2 Hatch chili peppers seeded and diced
1/2 Habenero pepper, seeded and diced
1 beer
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 teaspoon paprika
1 quart apple juice
1 sweet red pepper, diced
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon anchiote powder
1 bar of dark chocolate

soak beans in water overnight and drain
cook with water, apples and pumpkin at a simmer for 2 hours
blend and then strain with a course open strainer
add all other ingredients, except for the beer and bring back to a simmer
simmer until the chili becomes very thick,
the last 30 minutes may require constant stirring

Cool and serve cold