Thursday, May 3, 2018

Pastitsio

A rich dish of ground lamb and pasta seasoned with Greek flavors and covered in a cheese sauce then baked until golden brown.

Ingredients

1 lb ground lamb
3/4 lb macaroni, cooked a little less than al dente
1 medium onion, chopped
1 14.5 ounce can chopped tomatoes
1 t dried basil
1 cinnamon stick
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 eggs, hard boiled and chopped
3 eggs, separated
1/2 pound of cheese shredded, preferably kefalotyri or myzithra, but white cheddar makes a good substitute as those cheeses are hard to find
6+3 T butter
6 T flour
3 C whole milk
dash nutmeg

For the meat:
Saute the onion and garlic in 3 T of butter until translucent, then add in the lamb and brown.  Add in the tomatoes and the cinnamon stick, and simmer for 20-25 minutes.  Remove the cinnamon stick and add in the basil and remove from the heat.  Allow to cool, then add in the egg whites.

For the cheese sauce:
Make a roux with the flour and 6 T butter.  Add in the milk and simmer until thickened, whisking occasionally.  Whisk in the cheese and nutmeg and remove from the heat.  Allow to cool before adding in the egg yolks.  Adjust seasoning as necessary.

Preheat your oven to 350 F.  While that is heating mix together the macaroni and meat mixture, and adjust for seasoning if necessary.  Spread this evenly in the bottom of a baking dish.  Spread the hard boiled egg on this layer.  Spread the cheese sauce evenly over the top of the meat.  Cook in the oven for approximately an hour, finishing under the broiler for a couple of minutes if the top hasn't browned.
Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Tomato Basil Soup

An easy but rich tomato soup, perfect with a grilled cheese.

1 28 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 onion, finely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
3 C chicken stock
1/3 C butter
3/4 C heavy cream
large handful of basil leaves, chiffonade
salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter and saute the onions and garlic until translucent.  Add in the tomato and the stock and bring to a gentle simmer for 45 minutes or so.  Add in the basil, salt, and pepper and simmer for another couple of minutes.  Drop heat to low and add in the cream; stir briefly then remove from the heat.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Sundried Tomato and Goat Cheese Quiche

This is a quiche made with the flavors of caprese (cheese, tomato, and basil).  I choose goat cheese here for the extra tanginess to help cut through the eggs and cream.

1 C cream or half and half
8 oil packed sun dried tomato halves, drained and chopped
1 C goat cheese
1 1/2 t dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
1 pie crust, either homemade or frozen
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Dock crust and blind bake until lightly golden (15-20 minutes).  Layer the bottom of the pie crust with the sun dried tomato. Combine the rest of the ingredients and whisk thoroughly, adjust seasoning as necessary.  Pour in to pie shell and cook until set, approximately 35 minutes.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Queso Dip, or Another Mac and Cheese Variant

This is a take on my typical cheese sauce, but simpler, and damned if it isn't good on just about everything (including just a spoon).  I made it first for burritos, but it makes good nachos, and it's neutral enough to work with non-tex-mex foods.  It's garlic heavy, but if you're using it for a sauce that shouldn't be a problem.

1 C heavy cream
1 1/2 C milk
22 g sodium citrate*
 2 small onions, chopped
 6 cloves garlic, chopped
 2 T butter or bacon grease
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of cumin
8 oz sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
8 oz pepper jack cheese, grated
Cayenne to taste

Saute the onion and garlic in the butter/grease until translucent.  Add the milk and sodium and bring to a simmer.  Add the cheese, a handful at a time along with a pinch of cumin, allowing it to melt in while stirring frequently.  Blend the cheese sauce either in a blender or with an immersion blender.  Add the cayenne, salt, and pepper.  Adjust seasoning as necessary.

*Note: a lot of the cheese you'll find out there is actually labeled as "cheese product".  Check the label; if it contains sodium phosphate you probably don't need the sodium citrate, or only half as much (they both emulsify the sauce and keep the fats and liquids from separating).

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Easy No-Cook Oatmeal

This is as simple as dishes get; just mix rolled oats, dried fruit, the seasonings of your choice, and milk and let sit over night before eating.

3/4 rolled oats
1/4 dried fruits
honey, sugar, maple syrup, and spices to taste (cinnamon and cardamom are both good options in the spice category)
2% to whole milk to cover.

Mix everything and let sit in the fridge for at least 6 hours to blend.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Seasoned Ghee

This is a ghee enriched with herbs and spices suitable for seasoning most  Ethiopian dishes (or wherever you feel like getting creative).  You can save yourself some money by rendering butter down in to ghee, but I'll save that for another time.  Note, however, that since some of the things we're infusing in to the ghee have quite a bit of moisture they have to be cooked off for long enough to not have any moisture left to prevent the end product from going bad (I've actually seen a moisture rich layer on the bottom mold under the ghee).  You also don't want to brown the mixture, so it's low heat with a lot of attention.

12 oz ghee
1 small red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t kalonji, ground
thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
1 t cardamom
1 t oregano
handfull of fresh basil
dash of turmeric

Heat everything together over low heat until all the moisture has cooked off, but without letting it brown.  Strain it and refrigerate in an air tight container where it should keep for months if you got all the moisture out.

Berbere

An Ethiopian blend of spices that combines influences from all over.  You'll need a pretty serious collection of spices to make this, so you might want to shell out the extra money for commercially prepared if you don't do a lot of global cooking, though accept that it won't be as fresh.  This version is fairly spicy, so you can substitute out some of the hotter ground chiles for paprika as needed, and recipes for this spice mix can vary wildly.

3/4 C ground dried hot red chiles
1/4 C paprika
2 T salt
2 t onion powder
2 t ground ginger
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t ground cloves
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground allspice
1 1/4 t ground cardamom
1 t grated nutmeg
1 t ground fenugreek seeds
1/2 t ground kalonji

Mix it all together, with a spice grinder being the easiest way of dealing with the whole spices.  Store them in an airtight container.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Tomatillo Red Chile Sauce

A simple sauce of roasted tomatillos and chile de arbol that is excellent on burritos and similar things.  This doesn't have to be spicy, but it's at its best when quite spicy.

10 large ripe tomatillos, outer skin removed and quartered
Chile de arbol to taste, ground (4-5 makes for moderate heat)
1 1/2 t cumin
2-3 cloves dry roasted garlic *see note
salt to taste
ground black pepper
50/50 mix of lime juice and cider or white vinegar to taste

Broil the tomatillos until they start to develop black spots, then transfer to a blender along with any juices they gave off.  Add in the chile de arbol, the cumin, and the garlic.  Blend together (you may have to add a little stock or water to get the right consistency).  Add the salt, pepper, and vinegar mix; taste and adjust as necessary.

Note: dry roasting garlic involves heating it, skin on, in a cast iron skillet over medium until dark spots have formed on the skin on all sides.  Remove from the skillet, remove the skin, and use as normal.

Cilantro Lime Rice

This is a seasoned rice similar to that served at a certain fast food burrito place.  It's also similar to Mexican   If you want to take it more in the Mexican side dish direction add in some chopped parsley, roasted poblano, and peas, and cook with chicken broth instead of water.

1 C basmati rice
water to cook the rice
large handful cilantro leaves, chopped
drizzle of olive oil
salt to taste
lime juice to taste

Combine basmati rice, water, cilantro, and olive oil, and cook until the rice is done (I just use a rice cooker, it'll take more attention if you use a pot).  Toss the rice to fluff it up, then sprinkle with salt and lime juice, then mix to combine.  Taste and adjust as necessary.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Spicy Garlic Pickles

Awhile back I made some pickles that were absolutely amazing.  The problem?  I just threw things in there without measuring.  I had a general idea of what was in there a week later when I finally tasted them, and a general idea of how much, but that was it.  So I've tried to recreate them.  This isn't spot on, as I've made a version I thought was close, then tried to approximate the fixes, but it's still a damned good pickle.  I didn't bother using pickling cucumbers, just good old cheap regular ones, so adjust the cuts if you want to get fancy.

2-3 cucumbers, cut in thirds lengthwise then radially into 6ths
6 sprigs fresh dill
2 C water
2 C white vinegar +/- 2 T depending on how strong you like your pickles
1/2 C sugar
heavy 1 1/2 T + 1 t kosher salt
6-8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
6-8 Thai chiles (or to taste), sliced once diagonally
2 bay leaves
4 allspice berries
1 T whole coriander seeds
2 T black mustard seeds

Mix together the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt, and let sit at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until everything is dissolved.

Divide the seasoning ingredients between two 1 quart mason jars, and pack in the cucumber.  Pour the brine over the ingredients, making sure to cover (you may end up packing in more cucumber or making a little extra brine).  Refrigerate for about a week before eating.  I suggest having these as a refreshing element on a charcuterie plate, but honestly I eat most of them straight up as fridge grazing.  Open the fridge to get a drink?  Well, they're right there; I might as well grab a piece or two while the door's open...