saansaturday: (eggplant or radish?)
( Tuesday, 9 December 2008 00:31)
Tightening up my nutrition has had me eating well the past week. Part of this is that having rules and restrictions can foster creativity for me--it's sort of like writing a poem within the bounds of a form. It's also because eating out is difficult to do and I'm trying to eat more often--recently I'd reverted to only eating 3-4 times a day--so I really need to cook a tasty variety of food to keep myself happy. Here are a few of my creations.


Protein Kaiserschmarrn

This is not quite Kaiserschmarrn but the taste and cooking method really remind me of this German/Austrian dessert. I created this recipe by accident one morning when attempting to make protein pancakes. Our sea shipment from China, which had my good nonstick skillet in it, had not yet arrived. So I cooked the pancake in a not-very-nonstick skillet which I had left behind in Germany. It stuck like crazy, so I couldn't flip it. I broke the pancake up into pieces and continued flipping them around in the pan until everything was just barely cooked. This concoction was pretty amazing, like eating dessert for breakfast. It would make a delicious dessert--if you wanted to be decadent you could dust it with powdered sugar and/or serve it with applesauce, another fruit sauce or barely (or not at all) sweetened whipped cream. I do make this in my good nonstick skillet now, intentionally breaking the cake into pieces as it cooks.

2 scoops low-carb vanilla whey protein powder
3 eggs
about 1/2-1 cup rolled oats
about 1/3 tsp. salt
about 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
about 2 Tbsp. milk or water
(optional: about 2-4 Tbsp. milled flaxseed, or this milled flax mixed with dehydrated berry powder that I found at Costco)
about 1/2-1 cup frozen blueberries
a large handful of chopped pecans (I just break them by hand into the bowl, no need to get a knife and cutting board dirty)
unsalted butter

In a large bowl use a fork to whisk together the protein powder and eggs. Stir in the oats, salt, cinnamon, milk or water and if, desired, flaxseed. Add the berries and nuts and stir again. The batter will be pretty gloopy. You can use the blueberries frozen since they're small but if you use some other kind of larger berry it's best to at least partially defrost them first.

Rub a stick of unsalted butter over the bottom of a skillet, a thin layer to cover. Heat the skillet over medium, then add the batter. It will be very thick so you'll need to spread it out to cover the pan. Cook it for about 3-5 minutes, or until the bottom side is browning like a pancake. Use a spatula to flip the pancake in parts, breaking it into pieces. I like to have some nice large pieces as well as smaller ones. Cook for a few more minutes, flipping and breaking the cake more as needed, until it is just cooked--still moist in the middle. This serves two very hungry people. It has substantial carbs so I like it for breakfast or for a post-workout meal.


Five-Spice Tilapia

This is a variation on my Baked Salmon with Magically Delicious Fish-oil Drenched Onions. I have yet to get tired of this recipe, as there are so many variations possible. Another variation is to use basil and substitute sliced tomatoes for the citrus.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, sliced
2 bell peppers (I like one red and one orange), sliced
about 5 cloves garlic, sliced thin
about 1 Tbsp. thinly sliced ginger (I like to make matchsticks)
about 2 tsp. five spice powder (I may have used more, I kind of spilled it into the pan)
a little salt
fresh ground pepper
4 tilapia loins, rinsed and patted dry
4 or 5 mandarin oranges (or other variety of orange), unpeeled, sliced thin

Preheat your oven to 375F.

Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium. Add the olive oil and after it's hot, add the onions, bell peppers, garlic, ginger and some of the five spice. Saute until tender and turning translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and lightly salt the vegetables. Rub the tilapia with a little salt, pepper and allspice and place it over the vegetables. Arrange the orange slices over the fish. Slide the pan into the oven and bake about 15 minutes or until the fish is cooked.


Vaguely Greek Spinach Burgers

I really wanted feta in these but I didn't have any. This is only the second time in my life I've made hamburgers. I know adding all sorts of things to burgers was a bit of a fad a few years ago I'm behind the times as I made up this recipe Friday afternoon.

about 1 Tbsp. peanut oil
about 5 cloves garlic, more or less to your taste, minced
1/2 yellow onion, minced
a lot of fresh spinach, as much as will fit in your wok, washed (you want some water still clinging to the leaves to help it steam a little in the wok)
a dash of salt

oh, let's say something like 16-20oz. ground lean beef. I don't really know. It was about 1/3 of a huge package we got at Costco.
1 egg
about 1 tsp. dried oregano, crushed
1/2 yellow onion, minced
a few cloves of garlic, minced
about 1/4-1/3 cup grated monterey jack cheese
about 2 tsp. salt
fresh ground pepper

Heat your wok over high heat. When hot, add the peanut oil in a swirl to coat the surface. Add the garlic and onion and cook 20-30 seconds. Add all the spinach and a little salt and continue to cook, turning and stirring the spinach often (I like to use tongs) until it is wilted. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, stir together the beef, egg, onion, garlic, cheese, salt and pepper. Squeeze the excess water out of the spinach, mince it, and add it to the mix. Let rest for at least 30 minutes for the flavors to meld. Form burgers--I attempted to go for about 5oz. each but who knows? This made seven burgers for me. I just got a new cast iron stovetop griddle/grill, so I cooked them on that. You can cook them in a skillet or grill them or whatever you prefer. Serve with sliced tomato and stone-ground mustard. (Or whatever your desired condiments are).


Palava Chicken

I made this one this afternoon. I particularly liked how the peanut butter made the sauce creamy. The flavors were quite harmonious.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, rinsed, patted dry and sliced fairly thin
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped fine
about 4-5 cloves garlic, roughly minced
6 small or 4 large tomatoes, chopped
2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter (just peanuts and salt people!)
about 2 1/2 cups water
1 tsp. dried thyme, crushed
lots of fresh spinach, probably 6 cups or so
about 1 Tbsp. extra hot New Mexican red chile powder
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Heat a large skillet (or chef's pan, which I prefer) over medium. Add the olive oil, then the chicken. Season with a little salt and pepper. Cook until the chicken is browning a bit on all sides, then remove to a plate with a slotted spoon.

Add the onion, garlic and tomatoes to the pan juices and saute for about five minutes or until they are soft. Reduce the heat to low and add the peanut butter and half the water. Cook, stirring pretty much constantly to keep the peanut butter from burning, for about 4-5 minutes. Then add the remaining water, thyme, chile, spinach and, if desired, a little more salt and pepper (I didn't add more as there was plenty of salt on my chicken and in my peanut butter). Stir the spinach into the liquid until it is starting to wilt enough that there's room to add the chicken back to the pan. Add the chicken and cook the whole mess, stirring often, until the chicken is cooked through, about another 5-10 minutes. If your chicken breasts are large you can probably get about 6 servings of stew out of this recipe.
What kind dinner does one cook the night after a success such as my pizza? Bunnies!

Pappardelle with Rabbit Ragu

4 rabbit shoulders
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 anchovy
1 medium onion, diced
2 small carrots, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
3 dried peperoncino, crushed
about 9-13 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp tomato paste
about 1 cup Chianti
1 can whole tomatoes
about 1 cup chicken stock
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried basil
pappardelle
Parmesano Reggiano

recipe and a couple more photos )
Inspired. I cooked onions slowly until they began to brown at the edges, then added a small spoonful of brown sugar and just a tiny dash of grated nutmeg, turned up the heat, and continued cooking until they were dark and caramelized. Then I pushed all the onions to one side of the pan and melted about a tablespoon of butter in the other side. I brushed this onion-infused melted butter over a pizza crust (ready-made, but still good), then topped it with sliced apples, mascarpone and gorgonzola cheese and the caramelized onions. Gods, it may have been the best pizza I've ever had.
saansaturday: (lady red)
( Tuesday, 28 February 2006 15:14)
Any time the subject of popcorn comes up, I will tell anyone who will listen about this fantastic discovery of mine. If you don't like sweet popcorn, read on! I'm not talking about sweet popcorn. If you do like sweet popcorn, read on! This is seriously delicious.

About three winters ago, I had made mulled wine one night and later wanted popcorn. The pan I use for popcorn was also the one I had mulled the wine in, and I had a crazy idea that it might be interesting to not wash the pan out (it was still sitting on the stove with a thin coating of thick wine goo on its insides) before making the popcorn, letting the popcorn have a bit of the flavor of the wine and mulling spices. I did so and when it came time to season the popcorn, after adding melted butter and salt, my intuition told me to add cinnamon. So of course I did, and created the greatest popcorn known to humankind. (The mulled wine residue didn't actually flavor the popcorn very much...but the *cinnamon* was a discovery!)

The flavor of cinnamon is so warm, it makes this popcorn perfect for winter. But I've found it so addictive that I add cinnamon pretty much every time I make popcorn. I vary the amount though; sometimes I like just the tiniest bit, sometimes quite a lot. A year or two after the discovery of cinnamon popcorn, I discovered olive oil popcorn and improved upon my recipe.

One of the times I was travelling in Italy with my family, we were staying in a villa kind of in the middle of nowhere, Tuscany. My nieces were always in need of snacks, so we had bought some popcorn at the grocery store when we were in town. Nobody in my family had ever made popcorn on the stovetop, besides me. There was no oil in the villa but the olive oil from the grove right outside the door, so I made the popcorn with olive oil. There was no cinnamon, either, but it was delicious with olive oil and salt!

Of course when I next made popcorn at home, I tried olive oil with cinnamon and found a whole new level of popcorn-tastiness. I eventually found that it's even better to top the popcorn with a combination of olive oil and melted butter, along with the cinnamon and salt. I change the proportions of olive oil and butter to suit my tastes, just as I change how much cinnamon I add. But this basic combination is the most divine popcorn can possibly be.
I'm coming down with some sort of sore throat/cough/fever/wooziness sickness and this evening I no longer had any desire to eat what I had planned for dinner. I didn't have a lot of ingredients to work with but I came up with a delicious and soothing soup.

3 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup wild rice, rinsed and drained
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp flour
1 tsp. dried thyme, crushed
about 1/4 tsp. spicy (not sweet!) paprika
about 1 cup sliced ubiquitous brown mushrooms
salt, to taste

Combine the broth and rice in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 40 minutes. Stir in the green onions and simmer another 8 minutes or so, then stir in the mushrooms, thyme and paprika. Whisk the flour and milk together in a bowl or large cup. After another 3 minutes or so, pour this mixture into the soup, slowly, while stirring. Bring back to a low boil and continue stirring until it has thickened a bit.
saansaturday: (fornication)
( Thursday, 16 February 2006 16:39)
The concoction I created for dinner last night was yummy. I was already thinking about chicken salad when I went grocery shopping in the late afternoon. V had mentioned that he was in the mood for something with fruit, such as mandarin oranges. I thought I could make some sort of chicken salad, serve it over greens with the mandarin orange slices and perhaps something else as garnish. But on my way to grab the oranges I noticed a display with cans of mango slices. Thinking that V surely wouldn't be opposed to mango rather than orange, I grabbed them.

So the items of inspiration: chicken breasts, canned mangos, walnuts, baby chard.

I started by poaching the chicken breasts in chicken stock which I spiked with ginger, peppercorns, coriander, garlic and onion. Meanwhile I began assembling the salad:

2 green onions, minced
1 can mango slices, mangos chopped, juice reserved
about 1/4 cup mayo
about 1/4 cup plain yogurt
a handful of toasted walnuts (would have been better with almonds, I think)
a fair amount of powdered ginger
a bit of garlic powder
enough cayenne pepper to give some pleasant heat
a bit of crushed red peppercorns
a couple of splashes of rice wine vinegar
mango juice &/or poaching liquid, to taste
salt, to taste

When the chicken was done (after about 25 minutes of simmering in the stock), I cut it into bite-sized pieces, let them cool a bit, then stirred them into the salad. The yogurt I used was seriously thick, and the mangos were very sweet, so I ended up with something both thicker and sweeter than I wanted. I added a few spoonfuls of the poaching liquid to up the chicken flavor and thin it out a bit. Then the chicken flavor was a bit too pronounced, so I added a little bit of the reserved mango juice. I put the salad in the refrigerator to chill for a while.

I served it over the baby chard. It looked so pretty! I really should have garnished with a few green onions or some nuts but I forgot about it. I snapped a couple of photos really quickly--they didn't come out so great but I wasn't interested in taking the time to get a good photo. I was hungry and this dinner was satisfying and so tasty.

one more photo )
This white cheddar polenta with sauteed greens and garlic-roasted shrooms was a seriously tasty dinner. I used ubiquitous brown mushrooms, quartered, rather than the big bad portobellos called for. Otherwise, I pretty much followed the recipe (well, except I used far more garlic and didn't measure anything). It was perfect after a long, stressful, activity-filled day in the coldest heart of winter.
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saansaturday: (swoon)
( Wednesday, 21 December 2005 16:31)
It's that time of year...in my family Posole was a tradition on the eve.

(serves about 8-12)

1 lb. posole corn, rinsed thoroughly (if posole is too hard to find hominy can be substituted)
10 cups water
about 1 lb. pork or beef roast (I prefer pork)
5 more cups water
2 Tbsp salt
1 medium onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. crushed dried oregano
1 tsp. fresh ground cumin
3-6 dried red chile pods, rinsed and crumbled (or about 1-4 Tbsp red chile powder, to taste)

Put the posole and 10 cups water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 3 hours.

After about 2 hours, brown the pork in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the browned pork to the posole with another 5 cups of water and continue cooking on low heat until the pork is tender.

Add the remaining ingredients and continue simmering until the posole pops (the kernels break open). (In the end posole takes quite a long time to cook). Adjust seasonings and serve. Posole is even better after it sits in the refrigerator for a day or two, as it gets hotter and the flavors deepen and meld. :) It also freezes well.

Serve with fresh flour or corn tortillas, lime wedges, minced onion, chopped cilantro, maybe some chopped avocado--all the garnishes heaped in bowls so everyone can have as much or as little as they want--and Mexican beer. :)
saansaturday: (swoon)
( Monday, 12 December 2005 23:31)
Tonight I made a pizza with sauteed red potatoes, kalamata olives, anchovies, roasted garlic, garlic oil and mozzarella. I *love* potatoes on pizza.

wanna see? )
Since I have all these vanilla beans sitting around (I bought half a kilo of them a couple of months ago) as well as raspberry liqueur that nobody really wants to drink, I came up with this variation of my fruit bread. It just came out of the oven, so I can't try it yet. I won't know what it tastes like until I get to Italy and share it with my family! Let's hope this experiment was a success. ;) It sure smells and looks like a success.

Raspberry-Vanilla Fruit Bread

about 3-4 cups mixed dried fruits--a small handful each dried cherries, apricots, figs and apples and half a handful each dried peaches and pears
about 3-4 Tbsp candied ginger
3 vanilla beans, halved, seeds scraped out
1 cup raspberry liqueur
grated zest of two small clementines
2 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
5/8 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
2/3 cup milk
2 1/4 cups unbleached white flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp sea salt
1 cup walnuts, lightly toasted (stir often in a dry pan over med-low until they smell/taste toasty)

Cut the larger fruits into smaller pieces. The pieces of fruit in the bread can be as large or as small as you like. Place all the fruits in a saucepan with the ginger, liqueur, vanilla seeds and pods and clementine zest. Bring this to a boil, then remove the pan from the heat, cover and let it steep for about 30 minutes. (You don't really have to put the vanilla pods in this mixture, as the flavors won't have much time to come out. It might be nice to use them for something else, such as making vanilla sugar).

Butter and flour a loaf pan. Preheat your oven to 180° C (350° F). Cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl, then beat in the egg, then the milk.

Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the wet mix. Fold the mixture together, being careful not to overmix. Stir in the walnuts, the macerated fruit and its liquid. Spoon or pour the batter into the loaf pan.

Bake for 1 hour or until a knife inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let the bread cool in the pan for 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. Wrap the bread in plastic or foil once it's completely cooled. Wait until the next day before slicing it. In this bread's previous incarnations, we've enjoyed toasting it and spreading it with unsalted butter, cream cheese, or mascarpone.
saansaturday: (whip me)
( Monday, 21 November 2005 14:27)
Recipe as requested:

Both these recipes for sopapillas yield about 4 dozen!! But the recipes halve well, if you don't need that many.

2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 1/4 cups warm milk (the original recipe I used calls for scalded milk but I don't find this necessary)
4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. shortening or lard, plus extra

In a bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the water and milk. Stir and let dissolve for about 10 minutes.

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl and cut in the shortening. Make a well in the center and add the yeast mixture. Stir until a dough forms.

Knead the dough for about 10 minutes or until it becomes smooth and elastic. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let it rest about 5-10 minutes.

Heat 2 inches of shortening in a deep heavy pan at medium-high heat. You can also use a deep-fryer.

Roll the dough to a 1/8 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough into squares (about 4 inches square) and fry until golden brown on both sides, turning once. If the sopapillas don't puff up, your shortening isn't hot enough. Drain the sopapillas on paper towels. Serve with spicy foods to cut the heat, stuff with meat or whatever, or serve as a dessert with honey (or anything you want, of course).


Baking Powder Sopapillas
I prefer yeast sopapillas but these are good too.

4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. shortening
1 1/2 cups warm water
shortening

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl, cut in shortening, make a well, add water and work into a dough.

Knead the dough until smooth, about 5-10 minutes, cover with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let it rest for about 20 minutes.

Roll and cut the sopapillas out and fry as in the previous recipe.
When I was searching for something to eat this morning, I saw lots of things to make a good sandwich with (smoked turkey breast, buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes, gouda, goat cheese, prosciutto, etc.) and started craving one of my sandwich concoctions--I do make fabulous sandwiches. I was sad that I had no bread in the house, having eaten the last of a baguette late last night when I got hungry and, feeling very lazy, the last thing I wanted to do was to get dressed and go buy bread. So I thought about baking bread. I started thinking about various quick breads that might also make a good sandwich and got stuck on biscuits. Not only did it seem that a biscuit with mayo, tomato, turkey and gouda would probably be pretty damn tasty, I started craving just the biscuits themselves.

You all know how I love to cook and bake and if you've been reading for any length of time you know I have no trouble with quick breads, yeast breads, pie crusts or other pastry. Yet I have always been a drop-biscuit-from-Bisquick-mix kind of person. It's the ease of this method (and I do find the biscuits made this way tasty) that always wins over making my own from scratch. And even on the few occasions I've made biscuits from scratch, I've made drop biscuits, just so I wouldn't have to knead the dough and then clean up the mess from that. Lazy, I know. But today I was craving *real* biscuits, the kind that are round and tall and fluffy yet mouth-melty sexy. Oh gods.

I started searching for a recipe that had the ingredients listed by weight, because I've found that I always get better results when baking if I weigh. But alas, Americans are not into weighing, and even Alton Brown's recipe used volume measurements.

I searched my recipe database for biscuit recipes and came up with about ten of them. But which to use? I ended up flipping a coin to decide between what I decided were the two best candidates. The winner was from a book called Learning to Cook with Marion Cunningham. I have no idea who Marion Cunningham is, but damn does she have a good biscuit recipe!

Still missing a printer, I wrote only the bare essentials of the recipe down (her version is greatly detailed).

1/3 cup shortening, plus extra
2 cups AP flour, plus extra
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup milk

Oven 225 C (450 F).

Stir dry ingredients together with a fork.

Add shortening and cut in.

Add milk and stir. Don't overmix.

Lightly knead about 10 times on a floured surface.

Cut out biscuits and place with a little space between them on a greased baking pan.

Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

A recipe like that would probably confound someone like V but is was probably more info than I needed. :P I could have done it with just the ingredient list and the oven temperature. ;) When I patted the dough out to a 1/2 inch thickness, ready to cut out the biscuits, I suddenly realized that I had nothing to cut them with, so I ended up using a Guinness pint glass.

They came out of the oven after a bit more than 15 minutes, beautifully browned and fluffed up. I took a few photos before spreading two of them with butter and devouring them. The biscuits were everything I wanted--a bit crispy on the outside and the fluffy insides did that sexy melting thing in my mouth. Is it possible to have oral sex with food? I think I just had oral sex with biscuits!

The recipe made eight biscuits and I only ate two, so I'm thinking forget the sandwich idea, go buy some sausage and make some sausage gravy and have biscuits and gravy for dinner. Ye Gods! I love knowing how to cook. :)

two photos )
I've been working on writing down my favorite recipes, particularly for New Mexican food. (In the past I was generally sharing experimental food with you, not old favorites). There will be many more of these recipes coming in the future. Here are the results so far:

Corn Tortillas )

Flour Tortillas )

Calabacitas )

Green Chile Spinach Enchiladas )

Green Chile Stew )

Tortilla Soup )

Frijoles Pintos (pinto beans) )

Frijoles Refritos (refried beans) )

Sopa )
Pumpkin Pie )
.

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