Friday, January 31, 2014

because of a question on facebooks

one of my Facebook friend posed a general question about chicken riggies and then i was hungry for it and so i made it tonight!

Chicken rigatoni with escarole

·       5 chicken thighs
·       2 32 oz cans crushed tomatoes
·       10 cloves garlic, minced
·       1 cup long chili peppers, chopped
·       2 cups burgundy wine
·       2 teaspoons salt, plus
·       1/4 cup parsley
·       1 tablespoon oregano
·       1 tablespoon basil
·       2 bunches escarole
·       olive oil
·       1/2 stick butter

heat the tomato sauce with 5 cloves minced garlic on a medium heat
When it begins to simmer, add oregano, basil, chili peppers and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Bring back to a simmer and add the red wine.
Continue at a simmer for 1 hour, adding water to keep the sauce lite.
Brown the thighs in olive oil in a separate pan and remove from heat.
When cool remove bones and add everything to the sauce.
Rinse the pan with 16 oz of water and add to the Tomato sauce.
Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat.
Continue cooking on low for 30 minutes
The escarole must be well washed and diced and allowed to drip dry. 
(i use a lettuce spinner)
to a small amount of water in a large pot add 5 cloves minced garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 stick butter.
When the butter melts add all the escarole and stir till wilted.
Reduce to a warming flame.
drain the water into another pot which the rigatoni will be cooked.
Salt this water to sea water level and bring to a boil.
Cook rigatoni according to the directions., drain and add to the chicken and tomato sauce.
Plate rigatoni with tomatoes sauce and chicken first, escarole on the side and grate fresh parmesan cheese on top.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

using things that are not quite right

One came from the garden and one used to be considered a discard, but is now very pricey.

This year my red cabbage did not form heads, but there were a lot of leaves.
Those leaves are considered to be discards normally because they are too tough.
I love my garden red cabbage because it simply has more flavor and color.
So i trimmed all the leaves the other warmish day and proceeded to prepare them.
The first is preparation after washing with warm to hot water.
The leaves are cut extremely thin.  You ask with the problems i have, how do i do this?
I do not know, but they are less than a millimeter in thickness, mostly.
They are then blanched in boiling water with my store bought pickling spice, some butter, an apple, 1 teaspoon of raw sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, a cored and sliced thin also and apple cider vinegar.
The heat is reduced to a simmer and the pot covered.  I let it go for an hour and when i am done - deliciousness!

The other item is sold in the stores as ox tails.  My mother did a preparation, which i do not have the recipe for, but brings back many memories.
Most cultures seem to have some form of use and because they are very flavorful, they are now a pricey product.
I used a single package of Ox tails, more than a pound, a pound of fresh carrots, peeled and cut into 3 inch lengths, 2 cups chopped celery, 1/4 cup minced parsley, 5 cloves of garlic, a cup of sliced mushrooms, 1 onion cut into eighths, 2 potatoes cut into eighths, 3 cups burgundy wine, 1 cup of beef broth, salt to taste, 1 teaspoon of thyme and black pepper to taste .
I always brown any meat first, with the onions, with a bit of olive oil .  I add the garlic after the onion is translucent and the "deglaze" with one cup wine.
The thyme and black pepper are added and then the rest of the wine.
When this comes to a boil i add the remainder of the ingredients and reduce the heat to a simmer.
This is then covered and let cook for hours.
The meat falls off the bone, so i remove the bones before serving.
After removing the bones add the salt to taste, i use kosher salt because it dissolves better.
If i add i tablespoon of raw sugar in the last 30 minutes, It thicken up a little bit.
I serve with biscuits or bread.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Avocados with hints

Avocado salad
with options

·       4 ripe Avocados, diced
*an avocado should have just a little give when feeling through the skin and no brown spots when opened, discard any off color spots
i dice them in the skin and scoop out with a spoon.
·       1 small red onion, diced fine
·       1 cup cilantro leaves, diced fine
·       2 cups tomatoes, diced
·       1 Jalapeno, diced
·       2 Chipolte peppers, diced
·       Juice of 2 limes
* i microwave the lime for 30 seconds to get the most juice, i also cut only the top off and run a sharp knife inside the lime to break each segment
·       1/2 teaspoon smoked salt
·       1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

Options that i use:
·       crisp bacon pieces - for this meat eater, not an option
·       cicerone - fried pork skin
·       any other fried, crispy meat
·       shredded cheese to taste
·       more diced peppers

Mix all ingredients lightly together as they are prepared, i like the avocado pieces to still have shape, refrigerate until use the same day.


Yes, this issue belongs in this cooking blog because it is important that you treat guests with respect to what they can and con not have.
You MUST know your guests before they arrive and what they like, what they do not like and what they simply must stay way from.
Although i truly eat and cook everything without dietary restrictions, i know that i will not use pork if i have someone who for whatever reason can not have pork.
Many of my recipes, chicken or beef can be substituted very easily.
What about vegetarian or even more restrictive, Vegan.
Yes, i can make a very good Vegan chili and making vegetables the center, corner and all of my meal is not beyond my grasp.
So if you are invited to my home, i will cook what is appropriate for you for us to share a meal together.
This is courtesy and essential in all manners of service.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The "gravy" again

Red sauce with meat
(Italian gravy)

·       2 32 oz cans of crushed tomatoes
·       1 32 oz can of tomato sauce or puree
·       5 cloves garlic. minced
·       meatballs from below recipe
·       1 lb country style pork ribs
·       2 tablespoons raw sugar
·       1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
·       1 teaspoon salt
·       2 tablespoons dry oregano
·       1 tablespoon died basil
·       2 cups red wine (burgundy is best)

Ingredients for meatballs:
·       1/2 onion, diced fine
·       1 clove garlic, diced fine
·       1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
·       1 lb 3 meat meatloaf ground meat (pork, veal and beef)
·       1 tablespoon dry parsley
·       1 tablespoon dry oregano
·       2 eggs, beaten

For meatballs:
mix all together well and form into 2 inch balls
brown in the pot you will use for your sauce and remove into a baking pan
finish in a 350 F oven (about 30 minutes)

For the sauce:
Brown the country ribs in the same pot as the meatballs
When browned on all sides stir in all the ingredients.
rinse out the tomato cans with about a cup of water.
cover and bring to a simmer, stirring regularly.
Add meatballs after 1 hour and continue simmering for 2 hours.
Serve with your favorite pasta.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A staple in my house

what i cook up for every day use

Chili spice ratio
·       commercial chili powder - 5
·       cumin - 3
·       paprika - 2
·       cayenne pepper - 1
·       salt - 1

·       3 lbs ground meat 85/15 lean to fat ratio is ideal, but you can remove the fat if you use 80/20
·       1 jalapeno pepper, diced
·       1 red onion, diced
·       16 oz crushed tomatoes
·       2 beers
·       1 cup bell peppers
·       1/4 cup Joe's chili spice
·       1 teaspoon dry Chipolte peppers
·       salt to taste

Optional ingredients:
diced peppers (to increase heat, use the one you like, hottest are ghost peppers)
an additional chopped onion for a topping
shredded cheese as a topping
sour cream as a topping

Roast the chili mix spice in a separate pan at a low heat till you smell them
Brown the ground beef first - this gives you the opportunity to remove some fat
Deglaze with 1 beer
add all other ingredients except the 1 beer and bring to a simmer in a covered pot.
Cook for 2 hours
as the chili begins to dry, add the final beer and cook one more hour.

serve over rice, with corn bread, on chips, whatever you like.

Friday, January 17, 2014


My background is chemistry and that means several things;
the first is i like to "play" with my food,
sometimes they succeed and sometimes they fail and great messes are made in the kitchen.
And so you know, i clean up my own messes.
The second is that, although i was never a synthesis chemist, i know the rules and there is always an order to how things are added together.

there are times i forget those rules.
I make an excellent whip cream from scratch which has a little bit of sugar (so it is not like ready whip or cool whip) and has some great flavors (vanilla and cinnamon).
Then i go and want to do more with it and that is when i get into trouble.
I wanted to add fruit and had some frozen blackberries from a time they were on sale.
So why not add them to the whipped cream, so this is when things went "south" so to speak.
blackberries are acid and these were frozen.
I defrosted them in the microwave and add sugar to them AND THEN I PUT THEM IN THE MIXER FIRST!
What was i thinking?
The cream has to set first, adding an acid not only did not let the cream set, but curdled it!
Turning on the mixer let the mixture fly every where.
The next day i did it in the proper order, whip the cream with sugar and when it was set add the macerated blackberries slowly to the whipped cream.
This worked without a mess and the topping was great.

Next experiment went well, took leftover part skim ricotta cheese (from making spinach breakfast cups), mixed it with egg and sugar (1 cup ricotta, 2 eggs, i tablespoon of sugar) and put the mixture in a souffle baking cup.  25 minutes at 350 and everything was set.

Next, i make some fine cornbread, but it is time consuming and takes a lot of eggs, so i added beer instead of water to a premix cornbread.
I have done this before, but it really did nothing save add a nice flavor, but this time i covered the top with cheese.
2 boxes corn mix, 2 eggs, 2/3 cup beer and about 8 oz of yellow cheese on top.
What i did not think of is that the cheese melted and covered the top, trapping the carbonation of the beer (so you could use seltzer water as well) and the cornbread became light and fluffy and beautiful to behold.  It did require more time than the box said 30 minutes at 400 F, but oh how good!.
there you have my experiments for the evening!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Finding Fresh herbs in the winter

We have had an extremely cold winter, but there have been unseasonably warm periods as well which has led to having more fresh herbs from my garden than normal.
I lose rosemary every year, whether i bring it indoors or leave out and this year, i left it out and have been enjoying it regularly.
I have been turned off by rosemary in the past, mostly because it was presented so that it was an overpowering flavor in foods, many times left as "springs".
I learned to dice it very fine and just add enough to give a hint of the beautiful flavor.
Now to the big surprises:  parsley - never has parsley ever lasted past Thanksgiving, i harvested some yesterday.
chives, really?  They last in bulb form through the harshest of winters, but the green stems still available?  This is amazing, but not as amazing as:
Oregano - again - something that lives through the winter, but it had leaves to pick for Christmas (not now after the latest 2 F cold snap, but still impressive)!
Sage - yes, sage leaves still harvest-able.
Something i never grew before and so was unsure how it would fair, but of the onion family - i still harvest leeks!

I am going back to tend my Navy bean, rosemary country ham soup for tonight!