Monday, September 6, 2010

Black Beans & Rice

So good I can't believe I didn't make them before today. This is our new favorite....

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup uncooked white rice
  • 1 - 1.5 cups vegetable broth (or chicken if you're not worried about keeping it veg)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin (or more if you like spicy)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more)
  • 1.5 cups canned black beans, drained

In a stockpot over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the onion & garlic & saute for 3-4 minutes. Add the rice and saute another couple minutes.

Add the broth, bring to a boil, cover and lower the heat. Cook for 20 minutes.

Add spices and beans. Stir.

Cover and keep over low heat until ready to serve.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Arugula Salad with Proscuitto

Leftover proscuitto makes a lovely alternative to bacon in your salad. Behold!

  • Arugula, torn into smaller pieces
  • Prosciutto, cut into little cubes
  • Orange bell peppers, chopped
  • fresh ground back pepper
  • dried basil leaves
  • olive oil
  • red wine vinegar

All you need to do is mix the arugula, prosciutto & bell peppers together with your hands. Then make a vinaigrette by whisking the pepper, basil, oil & vinegar together.

When you're ready to eat, pour the vinaigrette over the salad. Lovely.

This is what was left of my salad by the time I decided to take the picture :)

Braised Chicken Breasts with Lemon Herb Gravy

Braise: to cook (meat, fish or veg) by sauteeing in fat and then simmering slowly in very little liquid.

**not my picture, just an example of what braising looks like**

This is one of those recipes I tend to make a little differently depending on what I have on hand. I'll explain. Here's what you NEED:

  • chicken breasts
  • salt & pepper
  • chicken broth
  • cornstarch (or flour, just need something to thicken the gravy)
  • butter (or olive oil)
  • juice of 1 lemon

Heat your butter (or oil) in a skillet over medium heat (braising means keeping it at a low temp the entire process).

Salt & pepper the chicken on both sides & add to pan once the butter is melted. Sear just a little on each side over medium to med-hi heat.

From here you can add whatever seasonings you want to add flavor to your chicken (and eventually your sauce). I usually add:

  • herbs de provence (mix of savory, fennel, basil, thyme, rosemary, lavender)
  • bay leaf
  • parsley
  • onion flakes (or real onion)

But you could add anything you want from garlic to paprika, etc. Mix in the flavors that you like.

Turn down the heat to med-low, cover and let cook. Check the chicken every once in awhile for doneness and add chicken broth if there's no liquid in the bottom. There should be enough liquid just to kind of cover the bottom of the pan. Maybe a little more.

When the chicken is cooked through, remove from pan & cover.

Turn up the heat to bring the liquid to a boil, adding more broth and seasonings (salt, pepper, herbs, etc.). Once it's boiling, you can stir in a mixture of about a spoonful of cornstarch mixed with more broth. This should thicken up quickly.

From here, you can just season as you like. I usually add a little more salt and pepper at least.

Add lemon juice & stir.

When it tastes good to you, it's done. Pour it over the chicken and serve with rice.

This is what it kind of looks like. I'll upload my own pic next time I make it!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Chili Con Carne

Yep. It's Cinco De Mayo. Let's make some chili. Once again, most of the amounts aren't exact. You should add and taste until you find a combination that suits your taste. I made mine mild this time because my 2-year-old cousin would be here. My husband added extra hot sauce to his. But really, you could just add more cumin and more chili powder. Also, as funny as it sounds, chocolate is not an unusual addition to chili. Give it a shot (just a bit)...
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1lb+ of ground beef for chili (it's larger than regular ground beef, but both would work fine), already cooked and strained
  • cans diced tomatoes
  • ground cumin
  • chili powder
  • parsley
  • white corn (I used frozen)
  • 2 cans kidney beans, drained
  • 2 tsp dark chocolate
  • 1/2 cup salsa (any kind)
  • shredded cheese (your preference but I'd recommend a mexican mix that includes mad cheddar)

- heat olive oil over medium high heat, add onions & garlic. Cook over med to med-low heat until onions are translucent.

-Add the rest of the ingredients. Turn heat to med. and simmer without boiling too much for as long as you wish.

- That's really it. Keep tasting. Add more ingredients (corn, kidney beans, black beans) to fill it out, or add more seasoning (worchestershire sauce, chili flakes, tabasco, hot salsa, chilies, etc.) to suit your taste. If you want it thicker, stir in some flour.

- Top with as much cheese (and maybe sour cream and some chives) as you wish.

- Chili is like soup - it's lovely because you can taste as you go and make it your own. Mine was a hit. Not bad for a first try. I'll take a picture next time.


**so the picture isn't mine. But it could have been. Just picture it with white corn. Same damn thing.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Beef Barley Soup

I just made this up as I went along. Obviously you can follow the basics and totally make it your own.

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 large carrots, peeled & chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • olive oil
  • flour
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 large red potatoes, skins on, cut into cubes
  • some kind of beef, preferrably stew meat, but leftover chunks of chain meat is great too
  • dried parsley
  • beef stock/beef broth
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley

Heat about 2tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat.

Roll onions, carrots & garlic around in some flour, then add to the pot. Stir to coat. Saute about 5 minutes so onions begin to soften.

Add meat. Stir to combine.

Add enough broth so that everything is covered by at least 2 inches of liquid.

Add can of tomatoes (juices and all), and bring to a gentle boil. Add potatoes and barley.

Cover, turn down heat to about medium, maybe medium-low.

Let simmer for about 40 minutes until potatoes and barley are fully cooked.

Salt & pepper to taste.

Other things you could add include:

- 1 tsp worchestershire sauce

- shredded cabbage, mushrooms, celery, etc.

(Hearty soup in the hands of my sick husband...)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Beef Stock

I've never made beef stock before. I had some chain meat left over from one of my butchering odysseys and this being the week of St. Patty's Day, we wanted to make a good ole Irish Beef Stew. So I boiled the meat in water. But wait. Stock comes from bones. Crap. I put the meat water in the fridge for the night. Went to the store today to buy marrow bones. Behold:

Looks like a crime scene photo, no? So before I continue, I want to confess, I'm afraid of marrow. They serve it in fancy restaurants and people pay an arm and a leg for a $1.50 marrow bone just so they can scoop out the gelatinous iron-rich fat from the inside and spread it on crackers. It's literally the junk in the middle of the bone:

Do I have to say it? It does not appeal to me. I've been told it tastes like "beef jelly" and I don't really think that helped matters. But I got my marrow bones. And here we go....

  • Beef marrow bones (you can also include knuckles...ewh...and veal bones, oxtail, etc)
  • beef chunks or roast (preferably stew meat)
  • olive oil
  • onions, peeled & quartered
  • cut up carrots
  • handful of celery tops
  • garlic cloves
  • parsley
  • bay leaves
  • peppercorns
The amounts are up to you. There are exact recipes online if you wish, but who wants to paint by number? Add the things you like in the quantities you like.

Preheat oven to 400. Rub a little olive oil over stew meat pieces, carrots & onions. Place stock bones, stew meat or beef scraps, carrots & onions in a shallow roasting pan.
Roast in oven for about 45 minutes, turning the bones and meat once halfway through roasting, until nicely browned. If the bones begin to char, lower the heat. They should brown, not burn.
When the bones & meat are nicely browned, remove them & the veggies & place them in a large stock pot. Place the roasting pan on the stove top on low heat & deglaze with water or wine. Then, pour the water and browned bits into the pot.
Add the celery, garlic, parsley, bay leaves & peppercorns. Fill the pot with enough cold water so that it comes 1-2 inches over the top of the bones.
Put the heat on high, bring to a low simmer & then reduce the heat to low. Keep at a bare simmer, just barely bubbling. Cover loosely & let simmer for a minimum of 3 hours. 6-8 is better. The instructions I read said,
"Do not stir while stock is simmering - it will mix the fats with the stock and cloud up your stock."
Um. I'd never even thought to stress about my stock being cloudy. Ok, moving on. As the stock cooks, remove fat from the marrow at the top (now how do you do that without it stirring things up a bit?)
When the stock is ready, use tongs or a slotted spoon to gently remove bones and veggies from the pot. Then, it said,
"If there's any marrow left in the bones or floating on top, taste it - it's delicious!"
Fine. But I'm telling you it looked like booger soup with that marrow in there. Did it anyway. Scooped out just a little bit....and tasted it. Newsflash: it was god awful. Who are you people who like this stuff? I took another glob of the stuff and smeared it on a Triscuit and fed it to my husband saying, "here's something that a lot of people think is delicious". He ate it. Looked at me. No reaction. Apparently his cold has made it so he can't taste anything. Sigh. Oops, where was I?
Strain the broth through a fine sieve or cheesecloth. Cool to room temperature. Remove any excess fat from the top.
Now you have your own beef broth to store for all kinds of delicious things. Freeze it if you don't have any use for it immediately.
Oh, and give the bones to your dog. They go nuts for them. Just make sure you clean all the goo out first.

Delicious snack, or overpriced wad of bone fat? Let me know what you think.

Indian Spiced Chicken Curry

So the recipes I found on this dish called it "Sri Lankan Chicken Curry". But as I dug deeper, many people disagreed with that label and swore it was Indian. Call it what you want. This is my version:

  • 1-2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp ginger, finely grated
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds (native to Asia & Southern Europe, the seeds are bitter and used most often in curries)
  • 1 tsp tumeric or yellow curry mix
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground fennel
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • 3/4 cup zucchini (cut into chunks)
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • a spoonful (or so) of flour
Heat butter.
Fry fenugreek seeds until they start to brown (which happens fast, so watch closely).
Add onion, garlic & ginger & heat until onions are golden & soft.
Add tumeric, coriander, cumin, fennel, paprika, salt & vinegar. Stir well.
Add chicken & stir over medium heat until fully coated with spices.
Add cardamom, cinnamon stick, lemongrass & chopped veggies.
Cover and cook on low for 40-50 minutes.
Add coconut milk (do not cover after adding the coconut milk).
Stir flour with a bit of broth or water and stir it in while the sauce is still boiling. Remove cinnamon & lemongrass.
Taste & add salt, spices or lemon juice to taste.
Serve over jasmine or basmati rice (frankly I can't tell the difference between the two).