German Dinner 9/28

September 29, 2011

Guten tag! We had a German themed dinner this week. There were homemade soft pretzels, pickle canapes, pierogies, and the giant meat plate, choucroute garnie.

The soft pretzels were made from an Alton Brown Recipe and fairly easy if a little time consuming. You can find the recipe here

The pickle canapes are even better with a more appropriate cheese. I used leftover mac and cheese cheeses this time, a semisoft, less assertively flavoured cheese would be better. They make an excellent sandwich. The recipe is from Gourmet magazine and can be found here

The pierogies are a bit more time consuming, I used red cabbage which gave the filling the purple color.

Finally the choucroute garnie is an Alstasian (aka Alsace dish. For this make sure you get an appropriate wine, you want something white and very dry, don’t use an American Resiling. You can find reasonably priced Alstasian whites at Sahara. The other key is using good sauerkraut. Don’t get the canned variety. Marsh has some decent stuff called willie’s and bubbies which is sold at sahara/bloomingfood/butcher’s block is good if a a bit more expensive. Those are the vital things for the rest the ingredients are very malleable. You can use pork stock, chicken stock, or even water in place of the ham hocks, use whatever sausages you have on hand. You could use pears instead of apples or any other similar fruit. This is a very difficult dish to screw up if you’re using decent ingredients.

1 3/4 pounds smoked meaty ham hocks

1 pound fully cooked bratwurst
8 ounces thick-sliced bacon strips, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces

2 large onions, chopped
1teaspoon juniper berries (optional)
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
10 whole cloves
8 whole allspice
3 bay leaves
3 Red Delicious apples, unpeeled, cored, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 2-pound jars sauerkraut, squeezed dry
2 pounds fully cooked kielbasa, cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
1 pound fully cooked knockwurst
2 cups Alsatian Pinot Blanc or other dry white wine

2 pounds small red-skinned potatoes
2/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

Assorted mustards
Prepared white horseradish

preparation

Place ham hocks in large saucepan.
Add enough water to cover by 2 inches.
Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until meat is very tender, about 2 hours.
Transfer hocks to medium bowl.
Boil broth until reduced to 2 cups.
Remove meat from bones; discard bones. Place hock meat in medium bowl. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover hock meat and broth separately; chill.)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Heat heavy large pot over medium-high heat. A
dd bratwurst and bacon. Sauté until bacon is crisp and bratwurst is brown, about 10 minutes. Place in bowl with hock meat.
Add onions, spices and bay leaves to same pot.
Sauté until onions are tender, about 5 minutes.
Add apples; sauté 2 minutes.
Mix in sauerkraut. Add all meats; press to submerge.
Add reserved broth and wine. Boil 10 minutes.
Cover choucroute and bake 1 1/2 hours.
Meanwhile, cook potatoes in pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 18 minutes. D
rain; cool slightly.
Cut potatoes in half. Dip cut sides into parsley.
Arrange sauerkraut and meats on platter. Surround with potatoes.
Serve with mustards and horseradish.

Pulled Pork 9/21

September 29, 2011

The Pulled Pork dinner was a fairly easy one. For BBQ my main resource is the website Amazing Ribs

Memphis Dust
Ingredients
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup paprika
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup garlic powder
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons ground ginger powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 teaspoons rosemary powder

For the pulled pork I took a 5.5 pound piece of Boston Butt (a cut from the shoulder). Pat the meat dry with paper towels, then apply a light coating of vegetable oil. Then cover the whole pork with the rub. Then put the meat in the crockpot along with a bottle of ginger beer (you can use other liquids, choice of liquid changes the taste in only very subtle ways). Cook it on low for 10ish hours, or a combination of low and high for less. Exact cooking time will vary with slow cookers. You can also do this in a dutch oven or other large, oven safe pot. In the oven it’ll take 4-5 hours at 350 or more at lower temperatures and require more liquid. exact times will depend on temperature and size of the meat.

Once the pork is done take it out of the liquid and shred it. At that point I added a tablespoon or two of liquid smoke, use more or less of this to taste. Once shredded you can sprinkle some of the rub on top and put it under the broiler if you want a crispy bark, or just serve it as is.

Amazing ribs also supplied the sweet and sour coleslaw recipe

The sauces were also from amazing ribs. There was the South Carolina Mustard Sauce, the East Carolina Kiss and Vinegar mop sauce, and the Texas Mop Sauce

The site is full of useful meat information and fun to explore…

Mac and Cheese 9/14

September 17, 2011

A much simpler dinner than usual, there were two kinds of mac and cheese, corn on the cob, and a greek salad.

The goat cheese mac and cheese was from here

The second was a three cheese mac and can be found here

The Greek salad was the same as a few weeks ago, the recipe for which is here

Sichuan/Thai 9/7

September 17, 2011

Wednesday 9/7 Thai/Sichuan
Tom Kha Gai
The ingrediants for this one can be really tough to find; Asian grocery stores are you friend. I’ve found the one by the East side Kroger to be the best in town. Often their herbs are better and cheaper than anything you find in a regular grocery store. If you can get your hands on good ingredients this is a fairly simple, delicious soup to make.
3 Cups Chicken Stock
2 Cans Coconut Milk
12oz Mushrooms (not Portobello or Shiitake)
2 Stalks Lemon Grass
5-10 Thai Bird’s Eye Chiles
½ cup Galangal
10ish Kaffir Lime Leaves
1½-3 lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
PREP
Cutting:
1) Slice the Galangal into thin pieces (use the younger, less fibrous tender tips, if you only have fibrous parts only use 5-6 slices). Cut the Lemongrass stalk into one inch pieces and smash them with something heavy. Remove the stems from the lime leaves and tear them into little pieces
2) Smash the Chilies like the lemongrass
3) Chop chicken into bite size pieces. Clean and cut mushrooms into bit size pieces.
Cooking:
1) Add Coconut Milk, Chicken Stock, Lime Leaves, Lemongrass, and Galangal to a pot and heat on medium lowish (you don’t want the water to boil; you’re aiming for about 170 degrees) for a good 10 min.
2) Add the Chicken and Mushrooms. Stir occasionally
3) When the chicken is cooked through put in the Chilies
4) Season to taste with fish sauce and lime juice

Massaman Curry
This can be either moderately difficult or very difficult depending on if you make your own curry paste. While making your own curry paste makes the dish really special you can have something perfectly delicious using store bought. Asian grocery stores are your friend in finding this, make you sure you buy a thai sourced paste.
2lb Stewing Beef
1 Can Coconut Milk
1lb Low Starch Potatoes (red for instance)
8oz pear onions
2tb tamarind paste
Fish sauce
Palm sugar
1/3 cup dry roasted peanuts
4oz Massaman curry paste (or to taste)

Curry Paste
10 big dried chilies, roasted, soaked and seeded
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, roasted
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, roasted
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, roasted
2 cloves, roasted
2 cardamom pods, roasted
1 teaspoon shrimp paste, roasted
1/2 teaspoon powdered nutmeg (not roasted)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon magroot skin
1 teaspoon galangal
1 tablespoon coriander roots
1 tablespoon lemongrass
1/4 cup shallots
2 tablespoons garlic

Curry Paste Directions
Dry roast the dry spices in a pan on medium heat until fragrant, about 2-4 minutes. It’s best to roast each thing one at a time until fragrant. The chilies should be browned. Roast the shrimp paste wrapped in tin foil for a few minutes too.
Soak the dried chilies until soft, then take out the seeds and inner bits and chop fine.
Pound the paste in a stone mortar & pestle. Start by grinding up the dried spices until powdered, then set aside. Put the chilies in the mortar and pound until uniformly smashed, then add the rest of the ingredients, starting from hardest and driest and working up to softest at the end. Then add the dried spice powder back in and the shrimp paste. Mix well. If using a food processor, just mix it all in together.

PREP:
Cutting
1) Chop the beef into large bite size cubes
2) Cut the potatoes into slightly larger chunks
Cooking
1) Heat the pot to medium high, Mix the thick, creamy part of the coconut milk with the curry paste until, mixture is creamy, begins to bubble and the coconut starts to turn oily
2) Add the Meat and stir to coat.
3) Add remaining Coconut Milk and just enough water to barely cover the meat.
4) Bring to a boil and then immediately lower to a gentle simmer. Cover.
5) Cook until meat is almost tender. (exact time varies on the cut, but a generous hour should be enough for most)
6) Add Onions, Potatoes, and 2 tbs Fish sauce to the pot, continue to simmer for about 15 minutes
7) Season to taste with tamarind, and palm sugar, cook until potatoes and onions are tender, about 5 more minutes
8) Add peanuts and serve

Ma How
This is a fairly easy appetizer to make. It is strangely tasty and can be really pretty…
½ lb ground pork (or equal parts ground pork and shrimp)
3 tablespoons finely-chopped cilantro stems
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon whole white peppercorns
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium-sized shallots
1/3 cup coarsely-ground roasted peanuts
1 pineapple
3tb fish sauce
¼ cup palm sugar
fresh cilantro leaves and red pepper cut into thin slivers, for garnish

PREP
Cutting:
Chop Cilantro and Garlic, pound with white peppercorns to form a smooth paste
Thinly Slice Shallots
Cut Pineapple into ½ in thick bite size pieces

COOKING
1) In a skillet, over medium heat, fry up the paste in oil until fragrant. 1-2 Min
2) Add the shallots, cook till softened. 3ish Min
3) Add the pork, fish sauce, and palm sugar. Cook till meat is done. 5ish Min
You want the mixture to resemble loose jam at this point, taste it. Adjust seasoning with more fish sauce and palm sugar as needed. The flavor should be sweet, “candied meat” sweet, and a bit salty. Don’t be surprised if you end up needing more palm sugar than you thought.
4) Add the peanuts and continue to cook the mixture until it becomes thick and sticky.
Remove the pan from heat and let the mixture cool completely.

SERVING
Right before serving time, form the pork mixture into 3/4-inch balls and place each one on top of each pineapple piece. Top each bite with one cilantro leaf and a couple of red pepper slivers. Serve immediately.

Sichuan
The Sichuan recipes are from Fuschia Dunlop’s Land of Plenty. She’s my go to chef for regional Chinese cooking, all her books, though this one in particular are highly recommended. None of these recipes are terribly difficult…
Bang Bang Chicken
1lb shredded chicken
6-8 Scallions
1tb White Sugar
1tb light soy sauce
1tb black Chinese vinegar
*3tb Sesame Paste
1tb Sesame Oil
*2tb Chili Oil
.5-1tsp roasted Sichuan pepper
3tsp toasted sesame seeds

Cut Scallions into Slivers
Stir Sugar, soy sauce and vinegar until dissolved. Slowly add sesame paste mixing to keep smooth. Add everything else besides sesame seeds.

Lay scallions down first, chicken on top, the pour sauce over

Fish Fragrant Chicken
1lb Shredded Chicken
2-3 Finely chopped Scallion greens
1tb finely chopped ginger
1tb finely chopped garlic
3tb light soy sauce
1tb Black Chinese Vinegar
1tb White Sugar
*2tb Chili Oil
2tsp Sesame Oil
*1-2tb Pickled Chili Paste

PREP:
Finely Chop Scallions, garlic, ginger.
Combine Soy Sauce, Vinegar, and Sugar and stir to dissolve sugar. Add Oils, then then everything else.
Pour over chicken
Kung Pao Chicken
*1 1/3 lb Chicken
6 garlic cloves
Same amount Ginger
10 Scallion Whites
4tb peanut oil
10ish chilis
2tsp whole Sichuan Peppercorn
1.3 cups unsalted roasted peanuts

MARINADE
1tsp Salt
4tsp Light Soy Sauce
2tsp Shaoxing Rice Wine
1 ½ tb Cornstarch
SAUCE
2tb Sugar
2 ¼ tsp Cornstarch
2tsp dark soy sauce
2tsp light soy sauce
2tsp sesame oil
2tb chicken stock/water

PREP
Chopping:
Chop chicken into half inch cubes
Thinly slice garlic and ginger, equivalent sizes
Scallions into horse ears about size of chicken
Snip chilis in half, removing seeds

Mix all marinade ingreadients together, put chopped chicken in
Mix all sauce ingreadients together. Taste, adjust as needed.

COOKING
1) Add 2 tb of oil to pan, turn on high heat. When oil is hot but not yet smoking add chiles and Sichuan pepper until crisp and oil is fragrant)
2) Add chicken and stir constantly. When Chicken cubes have separated and ginger, garlic, and scallions. Continue until chicken is cooked through (5ish minutes)
3) Add sauce, stirring. When sauce has thickened a bit and gotten a little shiny add the peanuts, give a quick stir and serve

First of Dinner of Fall 2011 8/29

August 30, 2011
The Menu

8/30 Menu

The menu tonight was pretty simple. It consisted of Mediterranean and Tropical dishes

There were to salads, a caprese salad, consisting of slices of tomato, and mozzarella cheese with balsamic vinegar, basil leaves and rosemary. Due to the relatively simple nature of this quality of ingredients is key. Find yourself some good tomatoes. Heirloom are usually preferred here, but just make sure they taste pretty strongly tomatoy

There was also a greek salad with diced cucumber and tomato, thinly slice red onion, feta and romaine with a dressing found here

The lentil soup is a simple one found here.

Doubles are a Trinidadian curry that’s usually a breakfast/lunch dish found here

The soulvaki is a greek dish I used pork loin, though pork shoulder or any cheap, somewhat fatty pork cut could be used. The marinade I used is found here, though it’s only one of many that would be similiar.

The chorizo con papas is a traditional mexican dish, the recipe is found here though again it’s one of many similar. As with the caprese salad this is very dependent on the quality of your ingredients. Make sure to get the Mexican raw variety of chorizo and not the cured, hard spanish stuff.

That was basically it for tonight, Danielle was responsible for the cupcakes, if you liked those you’ll have to ask her for recipes. See you next week!

7-27 Mexican menu

July 28, 2011

This weeks dinner was Mexican based, and consisted of Taquitos (or flautas), salsa, tacos al pastor, and mole poblano.

The salsa is the easiest and there’s no real recipe. take a can or two of fire roasted tomatoes, a small onion, cilantro, lime juice, a hot chili or two and throw em in a blender til it’s how you like it.

The taquitos also aren’t terribly difficult and are based on a rick bayless recipe.
6 slices bacon
1 small white onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups seasoned, cooked black beans (either canned or homemade), drained of most of their cooking liquid
2 to 3 pickled jalapenos or canned chipotle chiles en adobo, stemmed, seeded & finely chopped
Crumbled Queso Fresco (if you can’t find it feta is a good substitute)
About 15 corn tortillas

cook the bacon til it’s crisp, crumble it, and leave some of the drippings in the pan. Cook the onion on medium heat til it’s golden about 10-15 minutes, then add the beans and roughly mash em. Add about half the bacon and the chiles mix it until it’s thick, about 5 minutes then take it off the heat.

In a small skillet heat 1/4 inch depth of oil to medium high heat. briefly fry the tortilla about 5-10 seconds a side, then take it out and let it drain on paper towels. repeat til all the tortillas are flexible.

Fill the tortillas with about 1.5 T of filling and some queso fresco and roll it up.
Fry them in oil for a few minutes each side until crispy
you can store em covered with plastic wrap for a few hours.

The tacos al pastor

7/20 Afghan meal

July 22, 2011

The menu for this Wednesday was fatayer (lebanese spinach pie) as a starter, a turkish red lentil soup, aushak (leek dumplings in a lamb sauce), yakhni pulao, sabzir rahwash (spinach and rhubarb), a strawberry fool, and chocolate covered strawberries.

The fatayer is pretty simple to make. You can use frozen puff pastry as a shortcut, the full recipe is here

The red lentil soup is another easy one, the recipe is here. Sub vegetable stock for chicken stock to make a vegetarian version.

The aushak is not terribly difficult but a bit time consuming. It consists of two parts, leek dumplings and a lamb sauce.

for the leek dumplings
1 package wonton wrappers
about 2 lb leeks
1 bunch green onions
1/2 t crushed red pepper
1 t salt
1 t fresh ground black pepper

Dumplings:
Leeks are a bit of a pain to get the dirt out of em, you’ve gotta wash them pretty thoroughly.
Thinly slice the leeks and onions and cook them. You can sprinkle them with water and microwave em for 5 minutes or so, stirring a couple of times or, for a richer taste saute em in a bit of butter over medium low heat until they’re soft but not brown, also 5 minutes or so, maybe a bit longer.
Let them cool and mix in the remaining ingredients
Stuff the wontons with 1/2 T of the filling
boil them for about 5 minutes or so

Lamb Sauce:
1lb Ground Lamb
1 yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T ginger, peeled, grated
1 T cumin seeds
4 Cardamom pods opened
1 t cinnamon
1 T ground coriander
1/2 t cayenne
1 t sumac
1 t kosher salt
1 t black pepper
1/2 t mace or nutmeg
1 cup water
1/2 can diced tomato
2 T tomato paste

saute the onion over medium heat for 5 minutes or then add the ginger and garlic for another minute.
Add the spices and mix them in for about a minute.
Add the lamb and break it up as it browns
After the lamb is browned add 1/2 cup of water, tomato paste, and diced tomato
Cook until most of the liquid is gone.

Lay the dumplings on top of the lamb sauce and top with a drizzle of yogurt and chopped cilantro.

The yakhni pulao is much more difficult. The recipe is here

sabzir rahwash
1 lb spinach
8 oz leeks or green onions
6 oz rhubarb
salt and pepper

wash the spinach well. cut the stems and roughly chop the spinach. thinly slice the leeks. chop the rhubarb into 1 inch lengths.
saute the leeks over medium heat for about 5 minutes, add the spinach and continue to cook until it cooks down a bit and then cover the pan for about 20 minutes.
In a separate pan saute the rhubarb until it’s soft but not brown, about 5 minutes, then add it to the spinach and let it cook until soft, about 30 minutes.

The strawberry fool is pretty easy, the recipe is here

July 13th

July 14, 2011

The menu for July 13th was
Pizza Margherita:
I used the dough from this recipe, a tomato slice, olive oil, some torn up mozzarella, some dried basil (fresh would’ve been better), and minced garlic

Cachoombar
An indian salad:
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 cup seeded diced cucumber
1 cup diced red onion
a handful of chopped cilantro
and tossed with a dressing:
1.5 t seald
2 t toasted, ground cumin seeds
.25 t cayenne
2.5 t fresh black pepper
2 T lime juice

Macaroni and Cheese

Texas style brisket:
a 3-4 lb brisket is marinated for at least 24 hours (up to 48, and the closer to 2 days the better) with a paste:
3 T coarsely cracked black peppercorns
1 T dried oregano
1 t toasted ground cumin seeds
1 t onion powder
1 T chile powder (chipotle preferred)
1 bay leaf
1 t ground orange zest
1.5 t kosher salt
.5 t smoked sea salt
1/4 cup ground dried mushrooms
Grind those ingredients and then mix them with:
2 T lime juice
1.5 T Madeira
3 T olive oil
3 T liquid smoke

Rub the resulting paste all over the brisket, cover it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge.
cook it over low heat (about 250ish degrees) til a thermometer indicates the internal temp has reached 180.

The bbq sauce was:
1/4 cup butter,
1 cup diced onion
3 cloves garlic diced
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup worcestershire sauce
2 T dry mustard
2 T dark brown sugar
2 T hot paprike
2 t kosher salt
2 t cayenne
drippings from the brisket
14 oz ketchup

melt the butter over medium heat, add the onion and garlic and saute about 5 minutes, add everything else but the ketchup and bring to a boil. turn the heat down to low, add the ketchup and let it simmer for at least 15 minutes.

Chocolate Raspberry cupcakes.

Super Bowl

February 7, 2010

7.18 pounds of brisket. Put the brisket in at about 3:30, started with a chunk of apple and a handful of whiskey barrel chips. Added buttonwood 2.5 hours later. hopefully just a 12-14 hour smoke.

For the spare ribs a combination of this and this rub.

Dinner Party

January 25, 2010

Dinner party last night made quite a few things…
Pita Bread and Baba Ganoush the pita was acceptable but the baba ganoush I felt was a little bland, need to get more smokey flavour somehow… edible but not store bought quality
The carrot salad was decent, needed more dressing. I’d try something else next time
The chicken pie was really good, the philo shells make things real easy, need to find that recipe.
the onions were spectacular as always
As was the lamb
The chocolate orange cake was divine. Don’t think grand marnier was neccesary triple sec would probably have worked just as well….


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